Between Sisters - Kristin Hannah

ONE

DR. BLOOM WAITED PATIENTLY FOR AN ANSWER.

Meghann Dontess leaned back in her seat and studied her fingernails. It was time for a manicure. Past time. “I try not to feel too much, Harriet. You know that. I find it impedes my enjoyment of life.”

“Is that why you’ve seen me every week for four years? Because you enjoy your life so much?”

“I wouldn’t point that out if I were you. It doesn’t say much for your psychiatric skills. It’s entirely possible, you know, that I was perfectly normal when I met you and you’re actually making me crazy.”

“You’re using humor as a shield again.”

“You’re giving me too much credit. That wasn’t funny.”

Harriet didn’t smile. “I rarely think you’re funny.”

“There goes my dream of doing stand-up.”

“Let’s talk about the day you and Claire were separated.”

Meghann shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Just when she needed a smart-ass response, her mind went blank. She knew what Harriet was poking around for, and Harriet knew she knew. If Meghann didn’t answer, the question would simply be asked again. “Separated. A nice, clean word. Detached. I like it, but that subject is closed.”

“It’s interesting that you maintain a relationship with your mother while distancing yourself from your sister.”

Meghann shrugged. “Mama’s an actress. I’m a lawyer. We’re comfortable with make-believe.”

“Meaning?”

“Have you ever read one of her interviews?”

“No.”

“She tells everyone that we lived this poor, pathetic-but-loving existence. We pretend it’s the truth.”

“You were living in Bakersfield when the pathetic-but-loving pretense ended, right?”

Meghann remained silent. Harriet had maneuvered her back to the painful subject like a rat through a maze.

Harriet went on, “Claire was nine years old. She was missing several teeth, if I remember correctly, and she was having difficulties with math.”

“Don’t,” Meghann curled her fingers around the chair’s sleek wooden arms.

Harriet stared at her. Beneath the unruly black ledge of her eyebrows, her gaze was steady. Small round glasses magnified her eyes. “Don’t back away, Meg. We’re making progress.”

“Any more progress and I’ll need an aid car. We should talk about my practice. That’s why I come to you, you know. It’s a pressure cooker down in Family Court these days. Yesterday, I had a deadbeat dad drive up in a Ferrari and then swear he was flat broke. The shithead. Didn’t want to pay for his daughter’s tuition. Too bad for him I videotaped his arrival.”

“Why do you keep paying me if you don’t want to discuss the root of your problems?”

“I have issues, not problems. And there’s no point in poking around in the past. I was sixteen when all that happened. Now, I’m a whopping forty-two. It’s time to move on. I did the right thing. It doesn’t matter anymore.”

“Then why do you still have the nightmare?”

She fiddled with the silver David Yurman bracelet on her wrist. “I have nightmares about spiders who wear Oakley sunglasses, too. But you never ask about that. Oh, and last week, I dreamed I was trapped in a glass room that had a floor made of bacon. I could hear people crying, but I couldn’t find the key. You want to talk about that one?”

“A feeling of isolation. An awareness that people are upset by your actions, or missing you. Okay, let’s talk about that dream. Who was crying?”

“Shit.” Meghann should have seen that. After all, she had an undergraduate degree in psychology. Not to mention the fact that she’d once been called a child prodigy.

She glanced down at her platinum-and-gold watch. “Too bad, Harriet. Time’s up. I guess we’ll have to solve my pesky neuroses next week.” She stood up, smoothed the pant legs of her navy Armani