She nodded. “Are you ready to talk about your uncle and life growing up?”
I wanted to because it would probably help to get my past out in the open between us, but I finally shook my head. “Not yet. Not him.”
It’d been hard enough for me to cough up the basic information. I wasn’t ready to go in-depth about every occurrence.
“That’s perfectly okay,” she replied. “We don’t have to discuss it to get you going on cognitive therapy. But I hope you’ll be comfortable enough eventually, and if you want, to file charges in Ohio.”
Honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be okay with talking about my uncle, but ever since Jett had mentioned the fact that this could happen to somebody else, I knew I was going to have to talk. There had already been too much time for him to find another victim.
“I just can’t talk about him right now,” I admitted. I got nauseous every time I even thought about my uncle.
“Then maybe you can tell me why, after all we’ve discussed, you refuse to cry?”
Oh, no. I really didn’t want to go there. “Because my uncle loved to make me cry,” I answered simply.
She nodded. “Tell me more about your relationship with your parents?” Dr. Romain suggested, changing the subject. “Did you love them?”
I nodded. “Yes. I loved my grandmother, too. When they died, I had nobody.”
“Yet you managed to survive. You should be proud of that instead of being ashamed. Most people will never know that kind of hardship, Ruby.”
I thought for a moment and let everything she’d just said really sink into my brain.
I could at least consider the possibility that nothing that happened was my fault. But it was hard to let go of a lifetime of blaming myself for everything.
“Jett is giving me a chance to make my own future,” I said, thinking aloud. “It’s my turn to choose.”
“Take the help he’s giving. You’re entitled to a chance to make your own life now,” she suggested.
“I’ve always felt guilty,” I said softly. “I’m not sure I can get away from that.”
“We’re going to work on changing those feelings, Ruby,” Dr. Romain said reassuringly.
“I’m ready,” I told her.
Judging by this first session, counseling was going to be agonizingly painful, but I hoped with Dr. Romain’s help, I’d come out of it feeling a lot more confident and ready to take on the world from a way different position than I’d been in before I’d met Jett.
I didn’t ever want to feel helpless and hopeless again.
“Did you know that Seattle was the home of the first gas station in the world when it was built in 1907?” I asked Jett as I got ready to put a pan of lasagna in the oven.
He’d mentioned that the Italian dish was one of his favorites, and had asked if we could hit a restaurant that served it. I’d insisted on getting the groceries and making it myself now that my foot was completely healed. If nothing else, I could at least feed Jett since I had the skills.
I’d been through four sessions of counseling with Dr. Romain, and I’d been doing my homework every single night. I couldn’t say I’d seen a ton of improvement, but I was slowly losing my fear of something bad happening. Slowly, I was just allowing myself to enjoy the time I spent with Jett without questioning it.
He looked up from the laptop he was using at the kitchen table. “Exactly how many facts do you have in that head of yours?” he joked.
“About seventeen years of them,” I answered. “I started going to our local library in Ohio when I was five, and I never stopped.”
“I live in Seattle, but I had no idea the first gas station was built there,” he answered.
“But you didn’t grow up there, right?” I asked curiously as I turned my back to him while I put the final layer of cheese on top of the mountain of meat, pasta, and cheese I’d prepared.
“I grew up in Rocky Springs, Colorado,” he verified.
“What’s it like in Colorado?”
He chuckled. “Rocky Springs is quiet. Pretty much a night and day difference between Seattle and Rocky Springs.”