“Hello? This is Dr. Noah.”
Shit. “Uh. Hi. It’s Oren. I, um, called before and…”
“Yes. Oren? Is that your name?” Dr. Noah broke in excitedly. “I’m so glad you called back.”
“I want to apologize for hanging up on you.”
“Don’t apologize. Please.” Strangely, that same warm tone Oren heard in the doctor’s voice earlier settled his thumping heart. Like a stranger on foreign soil, Oren found himself caught in a world he couldn’t figure out. Thoughts and emotions he’d suppressed as a teenager now swirled through his mind; sometimes the freedom given to be who you were could be scarier than living the life. Oren had no idea how to take that first baby step toward independence.
“I know it was wrong for me to hang up, and…”
“But you called back. That’s the first thing. And I’m so glad you did. It shows real strength and courage on your part.”
“I’m not strong or courageous,” said Oren, admitting to himself he enjoyed this conversation with Noah more than any he’d had the entire night with the guys from work. “It’s easier to speak when you’re not face-to-face with a person.”
“That’s true,” said Noah. “Easier, but many times more honest, don’t you think? You find yourself able to admit things to that person without fearing the judgment in their eyes.”
“Maybe.” Oren hesitated. “But what if you said things that later you were sorry for, but don’t know how to take back. Or…” He took a deep breath then let it out and plunged ahead. “What if what you’ve done can never be forgiven and you don’t know how to recover from it?” What was his truth? The life he lived daily or the one he lived inside his head, afraid to put into words?
“Aside from murder, I’ve found there are few things that can’t be forgiven with an honest discussion about why it happened in the first place and what made the person fearful to reveal it.”
Oren digested Noah’s words. He’d had no choice in making that phone call; drunk as he was, Harlan had basically threatened his position at the firm if he didn’t do it. And Oren knew Harlan would have found a way to have him fired simply because he didn’t get his way and had the power to do so. Spoiled, cruel, and selfish, Harlan DeWitt made sure Oren never forgot his place at the firm: under the thumb of the great-grandson who took whoring around at night more seriously than the practice of law during the day.
“Maybe,” conceded Oren. “But I guess only if you’ve proved yourself first as a friend to be trusted.”
“Well, you sound like you need a friend. Do you?”
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