Patients is a Virtue

Patients is a Virtue

Status: Finished

Genre: Romance


Status: Finished

Genre: Romance


“Your latest story was absolute perfection. Excellent writing and sensual as hell!” Every day of her life, Olivia Jones conceals a secret that nobody else knows, not even her crazy best friend. It wasn’t planned. It’s certainly not her choice. But thanks to a tedious mental block she simply hasn’t been able to get past, she’s still a virgin. Fortunately, as a successful sex therapist, issues of this kind are Doctor Ben Wilson’s forte. Working closely with the painfully shy Olivia, the handsome Doctor gradually helps conquer the fears which have been holding her back for so long. In so doing, they uncover a playful, sensual, increasingly sexually self-confident woman, as well as their own developing, mutual attraction. An attraction they are forced to fight, for reasons of moral propriety and General Medical Council rules. But in the end, is all resistance futile? Can the head be forced to overrule the heart, or will white-hot lust always ultimately triumph?


“Your latest story was absolute perfection. Excellent writing and sensual as hell!”

Every day of her life, Olivia Jones conceals a secret that nobody else knows, not even her crazy best friend.

It wasn’t planned. It’s certainly not her choice. But thanks to a tedious mental block she simply hasn’t been able to get past, she’s still a virgin. Fortunately, as a successful sex therapist, issues of this kind are Doctor Ben Wilson’s forte.

Working closely with the painfully shy Olivia, the handsome Doctor gradually helps conquer the fears which have been holding her back for so long. In so doing, they uncover a playful, sensual, increasingly sexually self-confident woman, as well as their own developing, mutual attraction. An attraction they are forced to fight, for reasons of moral propriety and General Medical Council rules. But in the end, is all resistance futile?

Can the head be forced to overrule the heart, or will white-hot lust always ultimately triumph?

Chapter1 (v.1) - Session 1

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 30, 2020

Reads: 1256

Comments: 1

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: January 30, 2020



The beautifully warm Spring day belied the feeling of dread and trepidation, accompanying every purposeful step that moved Olivia closer to her appointment.Indeed, the joyful sound of birds singing, whilst blossom fell serenely from the trees above, couldn’t be in starker contradiction to the emotions swirling through her restless body.For weeks now, she had been wavering between daring to go through with it and calling the whole thing off.All day at work, her fingers had loitered over the telephone keypad, ready to dial up and cancel.Now, with mere minutes until she was due to arrive, Olivia wished with every atom of her being, that she’d never booked the blasted therapy sessions up in the first place.

As she meandered through the narrow, cobbled streets, full of reminders of their rich English history, more than a hint of embarrassment swirled through Olivia’s consciousness.She lived in a relatively conservative region and there was no doubt that the establishment she would shortly be entering had caused somewhat of a stir, when first it opened.The passing of time however, as is true of so many things, had permitted it to become an accepted local landmark.

It was true that Olivia had been a little tipsy on that fated evening, when she’d reached for her credit card and completed the online booking form with a flourish.It had been risky, paying all that money up front, without having firstly checked out the company, or met the staff in person.And yet she had been willing to take a chance, largely thanks to the slogan splashed across the homepage of the website; “If you are not happy with our service after your first session, your money will be refunded in full”.Yes, that had been the clincher she conceded, encouraging her to take such an unusually bold action.

‘Too late now,’ said an unhelpful voice in her head. Pushing open the main door, she stepped into a bright, airy hallway.

Having taken a deep breath, Olivia began to ascend the steps to the first floor office, whilst attempting to gather hold of herself.Experiencing this level of anxiety was crazy.If you took a cold, hard, logical look at the situation, all she was going to do was spend the next hour in a comfortable room, chatting with a professional. No doubt some kindly, middle-aged lady, with whom she would share only as much information as she was comfortable doing.With a determined nod, she grasped the door handle and stepped inside.

Olivia had never visited a therapist before, but her initial reaction was one of complete surprise.The inviting reception room was not what she’d been expecting…at all.Clean, bright and beautifully decorated, it was perfectly designed to put people at ease. In one corner of the room sat an extremely comfortable-looking sofa.It faced a flat-screen television, currently playing a classic British comedy, which Olivia had to admit was one of her favourites.On the other side of the room sat another squishy sofa combination, overlooking a delightful vista of the nearby leafy park.Bright sunlight poured through the windows, illuminating a well-stocked selection of refreshments and reading material.

‘Welcome,’ beamed the receptionist, rising from her chair to greet the new arrival.On her desk was an Apple Mac, a pile of documents and a half-consumed packet of jelly sweets which she made no effort to conceal.‘You must be Olivia Jones?’

‘That’s right,’ confirmed Olivia, already feeling her tension start to dissipate.‘I’m here to see Doctor Wilson.'

‘Let me take you straight through,’ the girl offered.Leading Olivia towards a plain wooden door, she briskly knocked twice before stepping inside.

Following on behind, Olivia was surprised to observe a tall, heartbreakingly handsome man glance up at them from a sofa by the large window.The open-necked shirt and casual trousers he was wearing didn’t entirely hide the fact that beneath his clothing, his body was clearly in amazing shape.Closing his laptop, he rose to his full six foot two in height, smiling kindly.Olivia’s first thought was guilty confusion; this man must be the previous client, but where was her therapist?

‘Doctor Wilson.This is Ms Olivia Jones,’ announced the receptionist warmly.

‘Very pleased to meet you,’ the man stated, holding out his hand.

Gazing stupidly up at him in wide-eyed wonder, Olivia had no words.Fortunately, hand shaking was practically a reflex reaction, requiring extremely limited thought processing.His warm, soft hand encompassed hers and held it for the briefest moment.As the perfect pressure of his grip overwhelmed her every sense, goosebumps chased over Olivia’s right arm and erupted across her neck and chest.Immediately, her nipples tightened and she found herself unable to do anything but snatch her hand away.

‘Thank you, Lisa,’ he said politely, effectively dismissing his receptionist from the room.‘Please sit down,’ he offered kindly, gesturing towards a chair which sat on the far side of his desk.As Olivia perched awkwardly on the very edge, upright and stilted, he dropped easily into the chair opposite and smiled.

For a brief moment, Olivia had an opportunity to observe him, her eyes drinking in every nuance of his flawless features.She admired his effortlessly mussed dark hair, before turning to his chiselled jawline, covered with the ideal amount of facial hair.His eyes,which were now studying her closely, exhibited an incredible hue reminiscent of dark, gooey chocolate…the kind you would never grow tired of feasting on.He was a little older than her, Olivia deduced. Perhaps in his mid to late thirties.

‘You may already have noticed,’ he explained, turning to grab a couple of sheets of paper from a desk drawer.‘I like to keep things ultra-relaxed.So my preference is that you call me Ben, rather than Doctor.And if that approach is acceptable, may I call you Olivia?’

‘Yes,’ she just managed to croak from her tightly constricted throat.

‘Great.Now Olivia, the next ten minutes of your life will be the only time you sit at this desk, so make the most of it,’ he explained, the edges of his eyes crinkling attractively. ‘Otherwise, we’ll be over there,’ he said, pointing towards the sofa by the window.Olivia glanced in the direction he was gesturing, noting another amazing view which overlooked a gently meandering river, frequented by walkers. ‘However, firstly, I am legally obliged to run through a few things with you.’

Olivia returned her attention to him, nodding stupidly.She hoped her reaction proved she understood what he’d said, even if she couldn’t currently find the words to register it verbally.

‘I thought you’d be a woman,’ she blurted out suddenly, before her brain had properly engaged and undertaken the necessary filtering.

‘No, I’m definitely a man,’ grinned Ben with a hearty chuckle.

‘No…sorry,’ she stuttered.‘I meant…I thought I’d be working with a female therapist.’

‘Ah, right.Well, my details are on the website.There’s a photo and everything,’ he smiled.‘But I do apologise if you feel the service has been misrepresented.’

‘Right,’ she sighed, unable to hide her uneasiness. ‘No, well, I’m sure it’s fine.’

‘I can see how having a therapist who is not your gender might be challenging initially,’ conceded Ben sympathetically.‘But given the subject matter of our sessions, I think in the long-run, I might be advantageous to you.’

Olivia dropped her eyes to her lap once more.Despite her discomfort, she knew what he was getting at.If she could open up to a guy…him…about her innermost secrets and fears…well, that would be half the battle, wouldn’t it?’

‘So, to kick things off, can I ask what the trigger was, for you deciding to sign up to our course of therapy?’

‘Two close members of my family announced their engagements within short succession of each other,’ explained Olivia, after a moment’s thought.‘I was wallowing in a combination of self-pity and misery, I guess.As the wedding preparations progressed, I knew that unless I did something, I would never experience the same excitement. The same joy.It was never my intention to live my life alone, but that’s the path I do currently seem to be on...’

‘Well, you’ve come to the right place,’ he said supportively, absorbing clues from her as she failed to look at him.To start with, she was buttoned up like it was the middle of winter, rather than the warm, May day it actually was.Add the nibbled fingernails, absence of jewellery and scraped-back brown hair into the equation, and her body was probably giving out much more information than she intended.At least to him.Although it was his job to notice these things.

‘In the end, I decided to purchase the therapy sessions as a thirtieth birthday present to myself.’

‘That was brave,’ nodded Ben approvingly.

‘Perhaps, but I’m not sure I can take full credit. I might have been a little drunk,’ she admitted.Given the extravagant cost of the service being provided, she’d probably been reallydrunk, although Olivia didn’t share that additional snippet out loud.

‘Do you regularly drink to excess?’

‘Clearly not regularly enough,’ she chuckled, always willing to laugh at herself.Noticing Ben’s look of confusion, she added.‘I only drank half a bottle of red and a shot of J.D.If that’s all it takes to book myself into a sex therapy clinic, I obviously need to build up my resistance a little.’

‘Does that mean you might not understand the package you purchased then?’ he smiled.

‘I might not,’ she admitted, her eyes bashfully sweeping back down towards the floor.

‘Well, you’ve purchased a course of ten therapy sessions,’ he explained, placing a sheet of paper in front of her.It displayed a diagram she had no capacity to focus on, at that point in time.Olivia was still pouring most of her energy into steadying her short, sharp, rapidly fluctuating breaths.‘The treatment programme has two key stages,’ he explained, pointing to a specific section of the diagram in question.Immediately, she found her attention drawn to his strong hands and clean, even fingernails. ‘You are in complete control of your progression through the stages, and if you never wish to move past the first stage, that decision lies entirely with you.’

‘Okay,’ she agreed, desperately trying to relax.

‘I am responsible for running the first stage,’ he continued.‘The bulk of our time is spent in this room.But it won’t just be a talking shop.For example, you will be expected to do homework.Plus, if you’re happy, and onlyif you’re happy,’ he emphasised.‘We may progress to more practical elements involving non-sexual touch, for example.’


‘If, towards the end of the course, we both agree you’ve progressed far enough, there is an option as part of the package you’ve paid for, to progress to sexual contact.’

‘Fucking hell!’ she breathed.Had she booked the equivalent of a male escort service?

‘Those sessions would take place with my business partner,’ he continued, with a slightly quizzical look.‘But we’ll just have to play that by ear, depending on how far you progress.Okay?’

‘Um…yeah,’ murmured Olivia.She had no idea her attitude was so progressive when she was inebriated.Silently, she vowed never to drink again.

‘Before we go any further, I must also just check that there has been no physical trauma, or abuse of any kind, in your past?Is that correct?’

‘That’s correct,’ she confirmed.

‘Good,’ he said kindly.‘If there had been, I would still be happy to work with you, of course.It’s just that these sessions wouldn’t be the best vehicle to use.’

‘I understand.’

‘Finally, if by the end of our time together today, you decide this isn’t for you, I will refund all of your money, no questions asked.’

‘Right, thank you.’

‘Which means, I’ve got…’ Ben glanced down at the inside of his left wrist, to reveal an expensive yet understated watch. ‘Approximately fifty minutes to persuade you to stick with me.But first, do you have anything you’d like to ask?’

‘No,’ croaked Olivia, embarrassed to portray the conversational equivalent of a slowly dripping tap.In all honesty, she had more questions popping into her head than she could keep track of.However, there was nothing she was willing to share with this delectable stranger, at the present time.

‘In that case, as that’s all the formal stuff concluded,’ he announced, rising to his feet.‘Perhaps you’d be kind enough to join me on the sofa?’

Feeling unaccountably nervous as they changed location, Olivia tottered behind him, taking her place in the far corner of the oversized piece of furniture.The huge window now in front of her, provided an amazing view of people going about their lives.Given the choice, Olivia would quite happily have people-watched until the end of their session, at which point she could scarper away, never to return.Ben, it seemed, was not planning on giving her that option. Sitting in the opposite corner, he twisted his hips to face her, one arm running along the back of the couch they now shared.

‘So,’ he said gently, noting her hunched posture, fingers fiddling nervously in her lap as she gazed out of the window.Upon hearing his voice, Olivia darted her eyes towards him for the briefest moment, before dropping them down to her lap once more. ‘Tell me about yourself.’

‘Um…okay.I’m Olivia,’ she said, blushing the moment the words had left her mouth.Talk about stating the absolute bloody obvious. ‘I’m thirty years old.I work as a web application programmer,’ she continued, highly aware of her loudly beating heart, as her voice rang out through the still air.‘At school my favourite subjects were History, Maths and Computer Science.And I got a Computing degree from University.’

‘Good,’ smiled Ben.‘Now I’d like to hear about you…the real you.’

‘You just did,’ stuttered Olivia, looking confused.

‘You’ve just shared the work experience and education part of your C.V. with me,’ he grinned.‘Might I now hear a little from the hobbies and interests section?’Olivia couldn’t help but giggle nervously, as she nodded with grudging acceptance.

‘Fine,’ she smirked.‘I’m happiest outside, in the garden or walking.I enjoy growing my own vegetables, although I’m not that good at it.And I adore eating Italian food.I want to own a dog, but I feel that whilst I work full-time, it really wouldn’t be fair. I have a family who I love spending time with, although my sister occasionally drives me mad with her interfering.’

‘Better,’ he nodded with satisfaction.‘And, of course, that is a sister’s sole purpose in life, so I’d like to assure you that your response is perfectly normal.’Olivia glanced up at him shyly and then away once more.Hearing that little snippet of information made a plethora of questions explode in her brain.She felt unexpectedly fascinated to discover more about the striking man sitting beside her.

‘Now, I’d like you to interact with me, as though I’m one of your friends.So, please look at me Olivia…’

Slowly, she dared to turn her head once more, to gaze at the ridiculously good-looking guy who sat mere inches from her.Knowing that the purpose of her visit here was to ultimately discuss her sex life, or lack thereof, her pulse rate immediately ramped up, as an uneasy fizzing commenced in her tummy.

‘Good,’ he said softly.‘I’d like you to orientate yourself in my direction and copy my body position.It’s called mimicking.It’s what human beings typically do when they’re engaged in conversation,’ he added teasingly.After a small amount of shuffling, Olivia turned her body to face him.Occasionally, she glanced up at his face, but found doing so largely overwhelming.

‘Conversation is supposed to be a two-way process,’ he added. ‘Speaking of which, I think it’s time for your first practical.’

‘What!’ yelped Olivia, not ready to do anything other than answer questions from behind her carefully constructed emotional wall.

‘I want you to actively look me straight in the eyes from now on.You can blink, but not look away.The target you’re aiming for is ten seconds…Olivia, look at me,’ he ordered.Clearly, her inability to maintain eye contact hadn’t escaped Ben’s notice.

Slowly, Olivia raised her chin and looked into his amazing brown eyes.She was more than aware that her cheeks were flushing furiously.Meanwhile, her stomach dissolved, whilst beneath a thin shirt, her nipples hardened painfully.Embarrassed by her body’s responses, she quickly looked away, swallowing laboriously to try and moisten a parched throat.

‘That was two seconds.Try again.And this time, describe what colour my eyes are.’

‘Um…’ she said, peering forwards to get a better look.‘I’d say they were dark brown, but they have tiny gold flecks in the…’

‘Am I wearing contacts?’ he interrupted, aware that she was about to break eye contact once more.

‘I don’t think so…’ she said squinting, before looking away.The problem was that he made her feel dizzy; ultimately, it simply became too much to bear. Glancing down at the sofa, she noticed his hand splayed across the seat, a wedding ring glimmering on his left hand.

‘Seven seconds.Better,’ he observed.‘Now, this time I want you to count the number of gold flecks in my eyes.’

Turning to look at him once more, Olivia peered carefully, closing the distance between them.‘Um, I think perhaps six in your left eye…’ she murmured, turning her attention to his right eye.‘And the same number in your right eye.Re-focusing, she shifted her attention from his eyes to his face.It was a kind, open face; trustworthy.Their proximity was now such that, as she inhaled, she caught a delicious, intoxicating scent of him; a mixture of expensive, lemon aftershave coupled with a pure masculine aroma, which sent her senses reeling.Despite this, she didn’t look away.Indeed, she found she couldn’t.She was entirely drawn to him and the strangest thing was, it felt as though they’d previously met.Confused, Olivia’s eyes narrowed slightly, as she tried to work out from where she knew him.

‘That was much better,’ he praised.‘Ten seconds and counting.See you can do it!’

‘You don’t have a notebook,’ murmured Olivia, still gazing deeply into his eyes, unable to break the link, now it was formed. ‘I thought all therapists wrote stuff down.’

‘I have a good memory,’ he replied.As he did so, Olivia was aware of the edges of his eyes crinkling slightly at the edges, implying a soft smile.‘I like to give you my full attention during each session and write up any notes at the end.Now, I know you’ve already outlined the areas you’d like to focus on, when you filled in our application form.But can I ask you to briefly explain your concerns to me again now?’

‘Um, I…’ stuttered Olivia, totally unprepared to share her deepest, darkest secrets with the sexiest man she had ever encountered.

‘You mentioned on the form that you feel as though you have a mental block, when it comes to sex?’ he prompted, without any form of embarrassment.Olivia drew strength from his attitude, realising that she was being entirely over-sensitive.This man was a professional doctor, for goodness sake, as well as being married. Furthermore, his specialism was helping people with sexual problems.This was notnew ground for him.

‘Yes,’ she confirmed, with increased resolve.‘Though I have to admit to being thoroughly ashamed of myself.It’s such a middle-class, first-world problem, when you consider all the atrocities that are happening elsewhere.’She broke eye contact, to look down at her lap in humiliation.

With slow, deliberate movements, Ben positioned his palm beside her face, placing his hand so close to her cheek that she could feel the heat radiating from his skin.However, the touch she’d been expecting never came.Instead, he lifted his fingers upwards, refocusing her eyeline back onto his own.It had the desired effect and their gazes were once again locked.

‘Nevertheless,’ he said softly.‘This is impacting your enjoyment of life, so it’s important to resolve.Please continue.’

‘I suppose I’m afraid of sex,’ she admitted in a quiet, shaky voice, his hypotonic eyes burning into hers.‘Which in turn, means I’m afraid of having a relationship. A sexual relationship,’ she clarified. ‘All around me, my family and friends are happy and coupled-up and in love.There is just one constant…that I am alone.I don’t want to be this person any longer.I never planned to be her in the first place.’

An expression passed across Ben’s face which Olivia was entirely incapable of reading.Suddenly, their intense eye contact ceased, as he stood and walked across to the window.

‘Water?’ he offered, grabbing an ice cold bottle for himself.

‘Yes, please,’ she sighed, grateful to be let off the hook albeit, she suspected, only temporarily.She’d been struggling to tear herself away from their connection and knew she couldn’t have broken it alone.Whilst Ben stood gazing out of the window, it gave Olivia the ideal opportunity to observe him.She might have zero experience with men but she was perfectly capable of appreciating the male form and all its curves and angles.Especially an example so well constructed as this man.From the sexy twist of his smile to his powerful thighs and length of leg, he was positively edible.The fact he clearly had brains to complete the package, only made him more so.As Ben returned, placing two bottles on the table in front of them, the atmosphere felt more relaxed.Olivia inhaled a deep breath to centre herself once more.

‘May I take the slightly unusual step of being completely honest with you, Olivia?’ he said, gazing at her intently.

‘Okay,’ she nodded, looking into his face voluntarily for the first time, curious as to what he would say.

‘Some clients come through my door, and I immediately know that the assistance I can provide them with, will only ever be limited. I can listen to them, ask the right questions, start to build a rapport…but our relationship will only ever be superficial.That will partly be down to them, not being willing or able to entirely open up to me. It will also be partly down to mother nature; some people have an immediate connection.Others don’t.’

‘Yes,’ she breathed.

‘I feel as though you and I have that initial spark of a connection.’

Olivia nodded, unsure of how to respond, but knowing his words were true.

‘I genuinely believe that between us, we can wholly resolve the issues which have brought you to my door.But in order to do that, I need your trust, your complete honesty, your full engagement…and for you to not get hung up on me being a guy,’ he added with a brief smile.

‘I understand.’

‘But do you promise?’ he asked teasingly.

‘I promise,’ she breathed.

‘Spending week after week, trying to prise the truth out of you, won’t be fun for either of us.The sooner we identify the original nub of the issue, the more time can be spent trying to resolve it.So, do you think, between us, we can work together on this?’ 

‘I’d really like that,’ agreed Olivia, surprised at the truth of her response.She looked carefully at Ben, as though seeing him for the first time.The man exhibited every characteristic she admired; brains, kindness, humour, logical intellect, warmth.The only stumbling block, which had the potential to make her lose focus, was the problem that he was as sexy as hell.If she could get past that barrier, then all things were possible.‘As it happens,’ she continued, feeling emboldened.‘I can pinpoint exactly when the trigger took place.’

‘If that’s true, it’s brilliant!Unusual, but brilliant.So, come on, don’t be coy…’ he smiled.

‘Oh, right,’ she breathed, feeling heat sweep across her neck and chest.It was her body’s standard physiological response to stress, pressure or discomfort, and currently she was experiencing all three.‘You mean, you want to know right now?’

‘No time like the present.How old were you?’ he asked encouragingly.

‘It started six days before my fifteenth birthday,’ she murmured.

‘You’ve already earned one reward sticker for precision,’ he grinned.Despite the stress she felt, Olivia couldn’t help but snigger and was grateful for his humour at what felt like a very difficult moment.

Olivia took a deep breath, before exhaling long and slow.Everything about the story she was about to share screamed ‘irrational fear!’.Unfortunately, that didn’t prevent her from feeling it. From being affected by it.And for allowing her entire life to be governed by it. Her feelings weren’t logical; she was a strong, intelligent and capable woman.She just had a mental block about sex that she’d never been able to get past.

‘I went to a relatively strict, single-sex, religious school,’ she started to explain, in little more than a whisper. Ben found himself bending forwards slightly, to ensure he picked up each and every word.‘When I was fourteen, we started to have sex education lessons, although that was an oxymoron in itself,’ she huffed, going off at a slight tangent.‘The school line was very much “No sex before marriage”, so all they were really teaching us was what we shouldn’t be doing, rather than what we should.’Olivia found herself looking towards Ben for support. He nodded encouragingly and she continued with renewed strength.

‘We had to watch a video that week and it…well it scared the shit out of me,’ she admitted in a shaky voice, grasping her hands together.

‘What was the video of, Olivia?’

‘A woman, going through childbirth,’ she mumbled, the images in her mind as fresh as the first time she had ever seen them, over one and a half decades ago.Why was it, she pondered, that she could recall the most horrifying, scary, sad images immediately in her mind, but happy memories were forgotten with comparative ease?

‘It was gory?’ he asked.

‘Probably not excessively so,’ admitted Olivia. ‘But it had the result the school was attempting to achieve.I walked out of that lesson knowing that I didn’t want sex before marriage.Actually, I didn’t want sex at all because of the risk that it might result in pregnancy and having to go through…that.’

‘Primary Tocophobia,’ nodded Ben.‘A fear of childbirth; certainly not uncommon.’

It was the strangest feeling but, just hearing Ben say those words made Olivia feel slightly less foolish.What she’d experienced had a proper name.It was a…thing.

‘But you weren’t even fifteen years old,’ he continued.‘That’s understandably frightening for a child to have to watch, particularly if you weren’t as worldly-wise as some of your classmates.After all, we all develop emotionally at differing rates,’ he explained soothingly.‘But I’m guessing something else happened?’

Olivia nodded.He was right.Just that experience in itself shouldn’t have been enough to push away all thoughts of sexual relationships, for the rest of her life.

‘Yeah,’ she admitted.‘That weekend, I stayed over at Natasha Abbott’s house with a load of my friends.We had an illegal sleepover because her parents were away for the night.’


‘And…they…put a video on the television.’

‘What was on the video?’ he asked, knowing full well what the answer was likely to be.

‘A woman…a woman…’ she whispered.

‘What was she doing?’ he asked gently.

Without realising it, Olivia had started to shake. Her mind was suddenly filled with that poor woman, desperately gasping for air.She could see the man’s big, hairy hands as they tightened around her neck, forcing her protruding veins to become even more prominent.As he pulled off her blindfold, he uncovered her wide, staring eyes. Shaking her head unceasingly, she wheezed the words “No, no, please, no.”And all the while, her body rhythmically rocked forwards, as he relentlessly slammed himself inside her without mercy.

‘Olivia,’ murmured Ben.Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed his hand move towards hers before apparently thinking better of it.However, his movement had the impact of breaking the spell of her nightmares.

‘I’m so sorry,’ she sobbed, breaking down in front of him.

‘Never apologise to me,’ he said firmly, offering her a tissue from the nearby box.With hiccupping breaths, she dabbed the edges of her eyes, grateful to find the tears were being stemmed.

It took a short while for Olivia to regain her equilibrium.When she did, she turned to face Ben, her lower lip quivering.

‘What was your gut feeling?’ he asked.‘What do you think was happening?’

‘She was being raped,’ Olivia admitted quietly, brushing away the silent tears which had started to flow once more.Ben nodded in support and compassionately removed the focus from her.

For a short while, she was happy to listen to his astonishingly soothing voice, as he pacified her with his calming words, explaining the theory behind her experience.He seemed so strong, so dependable, so utterly reliable, that her childhood fears and memories began to slide away once more.

‘In short,’ he concluded, at last.‘It was the compounding of these two separate events, within such a short duration of each other, which has resulted in you experiencing this significant trauma.’

‘Nobody else was similarly affected,’ she stuttered, ashamed of both herself and her extreme reaction.‘Most of my friends were giggling, somebody else described it as “hot”, and all the while, I was utterly horrified.’Sometimes, Olivia could even hear their silly, girly giggling to this day, if she allowed her mind to wander far enough down that dangerous path, before shutting it down.Even now, hearing similar giggling from local schoolgirls, set the hairs on the back of her neck upright in distress.

‘You can’t know for sure, whether any of your friends were impacted by what they saw.Besides, what is a trauma for one person, is not for another.We are all very different.’

‘It still terrifies me,’ she breathed, dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

‘I appreciate that,’ he said.‘Have you ever spoken to anybody about this before?A parent?A sibling?A friend?’

‘No,’ she admitted, shaking her head fervently. ‘No, it’s deeply personal.’

‘I can tell you’re a very private person,’ he said seriously after a brief pause.‘I’d like to thank you for trusting me.’

Olivia nodded, a wave of exhaustion suddenly sweeping over her.Reliving some of the worst memories of her life had left her feeling light headed and exceptionally tired.Something which hadn’t escaped Ben’s notice.

‘So, tell me,’ he said conversationally, nodding towards the large window which afforded a beautiful view of the nearby riverbank.She followed his gaze, her attention drawn to the way the light bounced off the twinkling water.Ducks splashed happily in the shallows, whilst the weeping willow leaves drifted lazily with the direction of the breeze.

Ben pointed towards a woman pushing a baby in a pram.

‘Describe that lady for me.’

‘Happy,’ said Olivia with a weak smile. ‘Brave…loved…complete.’

‘Interesting,’ he countered.‘Remembering to look at me when you respond, tell me, what makes you think that?’

Olivia redirected her gaze back to Ben, unable to suppress the blush which flooded her cheeks.Why the hell did he have to be so goddam attractive?

‘I guess my assumption is that she’s happily married and starting a family that she desperately wants,’ she shrugged.

‘When in reality, she’s probably sleep deprived, exhausted, confused and simply grateful that after five hours of continuous crying, her baby has finally fallen asleep,’ he grinned, more truth in his words than either of them would ever know.‘Why did you use the word “brave”?’ he queried.

‘I guess because of my opinions on childbirth,’ she admitted thoughtfully, noting the link he had made, to which she had previously been oblivious.

‘Yes, I agree,’ he nodded.‘It may not feel like it, because I can tell you’re tired now, but you’ve done exceptionally well today, Olivia,’ he said, the approval in his voice obvious.

‘Thank you,’ she murmured, suddenly realising that, despite it all, a weight certainly felt as though it had been lifted.

‘So, the decision is yours.Would you like to continue onto the next session or receive a refund?’

‘I’d like to keep seeing you,’ she replied immediately, not realising quite how that sounded until her words had been voiced.

The edges of Ben’s mouth curled upwards as he watched a blush spread across her face.Standing up, he walked towards his desk.

‘Sorry,’ she muttered.‘I…I meant…’

‘I know you meant,’ he said, sparing her from trying to explain.‘In which case, I will see you at the same time next week.And between now and then, I have some homework I’d like you to do.’

‘Homework?’ she repeated, standing to join him.

‘Homework,’ he confirmed, passing her a sealed envelope. ‘It’s all explained in there.Now, go straight home and relax.I’ll see you next week, Olivia.’

‘See you next week,’ she repeated mechanically, accepting his proffered hand, this time embracing the sensual feeling of goosebumps breaking out across her flesh.

Having left the office, she stepped gratefully out into the warm, summer evening air and headed towards the riverbank they’d just been observing.Was it her imagination, or did everything in the world suddenly feel just that little bit more vibrant than before?


'Patients is a Virtue' by Fenella Ashworth is currently available for pre-order on Amazon at a reduced price. The book is released on 2nd February 2020.

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