The Seduction by Joanna Briscoe
English | 2020 | Mystery & Thriller | ePUB | 2.4 MB
Beth lives by Camden Lock with her partner Sol and their daughter Fern. Life is peaceful, but Beth is troubled by increasing unease. It could be to do with her mother’s disappearance years ago. It could be her sense that Fern is keeping secrets from her.
So she goes to therapy. Dr Tamara Bywater is there to help her patients, and soon their sessions become the highlight of Beth’s week. But Beth is in over her head before she realises that Tamara might not be all she seems…
What if the person you trust the most turns out to be the greatest danger of all?
‘Well. Perhaps you experienced something yourself at the same age. Past events can be powerful triggers. We’ll see if we can help you.’
Beth closed her eyes.
‘Do you have other issues you want to explore?’ asked Dr Bywater.
Her enunciation was notably old-fashioned: a soothing therapeutic tone overlaying an accent that resembled an actress’s from an earlier era, and Beth followed its swoops and clambers even as the content of the speech made her stiffen. The heater blanketed tatters of river traffic below.
‘“Issues”? I’m allergic to some of this therapy language. At least you don’t say “issues around”,’ said Beth. She winced, hearing her own tones. ‘OK. I’m sorry. I seem to be going into my direct, un-English mode that I’ve been warned about. So …’ She blushed a little. ‘My anxiety. But I’m not sure this is the route …’ She looked around the room. ‘It’s funny. I thought I’d be getting a man. I think I assumed. That is very prejudiced of me.’
‘Perhaps it makes you uncomfortable, seeing a woman.’
‘No. No, of course not.’
There was silence.
‘Well,’ Beth blurted, ‘I think actually I kind of pictured myself sparring with a trained-up male in a cheap suit while bristling at his sexism.’
Dr Bywater’s mouth twitched minutely.
‘You see, you might penetrate some of my attempts at concealment more easily than a man,’ said Beth.
Dr Bywater nodded. ‘Stay with your feelings about this,’ she said. ‘You don’t need to use defences such as humour here.’ She continued to gaze at Beth with an understanding smile, clearly aware that there was prevarication occurring; and a longer silence followed.
A picture of Fern as a toddler flashed in front of Beth, the skin scent, the milky need. A click of her throat was audible.
‘I worry that something is happening with Fern that’s perhaps beyond all the changes of adolescence,’ said Beth. ‘But my – what does one say? Partner. Yuk. Sol. He is not worried at all. So it leaves me feeling paranoid.’
‘Can you describe him? What does he do?’
The therapist’s voice dulled her like a tranquilliser. Despite her resistance, Beth found herself breathing more slowly.
‘Oh, Sol. Reportage. News photography. He’s always busy. He’s good, kind, all integrity. Benignly impatient, I think of him as … um … quite grumpy. Eccentric even. But romantic. He buys flowers, arranges dates … He also irritates me stupid sometimes, but he’s … well, he’s lovely.’