Chapter 18

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George's POV

"Come in," was what I got when I knocked on the dark wooden door.

Randi Rayner looked up from the stack of files she was consulting. Smiling at me, she removed a pair of reading glasses and got up.

"How nice to see you again, George," she greeted as we shook hands and gestured for me to take a sit on the chair in front of her desk.

"Miss... Randi," I corrected myself. In order to get closer to the patients, the staff was encouraged to address them by their first name; the same applied to the patients' guests and we were encouraged to return the gesture.

"How have you and your family been?" She asked, taking her previous position behind the desk - the same thick material as the door I'd just walked in through - and closing the folders she'd been looking at. Her attention was now solely on me.

"We've been well. No incidents with Vallery and Nathaniel's... boyfriend has moved into town."

"Hunter?"

I nodded, once again impressed with her ability to remember people, dates and occurrences after only hearing about them once or twice. I could be wrong and Miss Rayber's data accuracy could be instead due to her rereading the patient files numerous times, but even if that was the case, I'd still be impressed, this time by her dedication. Ever since our first meeting, I'd thought her nothing but professional, although slightly inexperienced, and I was glad that she'd become Lydia's new Counselor after the previous one was fired once it was discovered he was taking bribes from patients to smuggle in their drugs of choice.

"Actually," I cleared my throat before I went back to our conversation, "he's moved into our house."

She leaned back in her chair.

"I see."

"Do you think that is a bad thing?"

"For Nathaniel and Vallery - no, for you..." She tilted her head to the side. "... It might help you accept your son's sexuality. For Hunter - I could only assume as I don't know him, but from what you have told me about him, I think it would be beneficial for his relationship with your son. It is Lydia that I'm afraid for; she's still in denial."

I nodded once again, fidgeting with my hands.

"It's only temporary though. Until the boy finds a place to rent. Lydia won't be back home soon anyway... Will she?"

"My advice is as before: Lydia is not ready to be released. You could, of course, ignore it and sign her out."

"No." This time I shook my head. "No, Counselor, I'll take your advice. I don't want..."

I swallowed, my throat dry and painful as recollections of the time I'd caught her in the act, happy pills in hand... Of the time when my suspicion that her addiction had returned, flooded my mind. Reaching for my upper left arm, I rubbed where the shards had sliced my skin after ricocheting off the wall. The vase she'd thrown at me had missed me by just inches.

"I don't want to walk home one day and discover that Lydia has gone back to her..."

"Pills?" The Counselor supplied.

"Habit." I sighed. "I was going to say 'habit', but your version would also suffice."

She waited for me to compose myself, silent except when she offered me a glass of water. I accepted with a thank you and drank it slowly, all at once. It wasn't for a few more minutes of me battling with my memories and regrets that I had not taken firm action sooner in regards to Lydia's addiction, before I spoke again:

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