"Yes, I already know that."
"You know that, but you've done nothing about it, which is essentially not knowing it."
Julienne sighed and stared out of the facility window. This was turning out all wrong, just like everything else. She had wanted the doctors to tell her how to move on with her life. Instead, they seemed quite determined to get her to confront her mother. Due to her vampirism, Ellen Love was very likely to outlive her eldest daughter—this would be the only way that Julienne would get closure, Dr. Newsome insisted.
"I'll talk to her when I get home."
"Actually, Julienne, it'd be better if you called while you were here, on the phone in your room."
"But that line is monitored!"
"Therapy doesn't work if you're not accountable."
More sighs. She didn't want to do this. She didn't know how her mother would react to the accusation. She didn't know how she'd react. But if she didn't follow directions, they'd put her out of the program. And that'd be §2000 down the drain. Not that she couldn't afford it … but it'd be just another example of how messed she was, that she couldn't even complete therapy.
The session went on for some time longer. Then it was off for the mandatory hour of exercise (627) (patients weren't allowed to mope in their rooms all days and were required to go outside and/or mingle with others twice a day), and finally, a long soak in a hot bath. That part she enjoyed.
But then she had to call her mother. And she was nervous. They didn't allow alcohol here, so there was no dulling the fear. She had to call, ready or not.
She picked up the phone and dialed out. The line rang twice before connecting.
"This is Ellen."
"… Julienne! Sweetie, how are you?" Typing in the background—she was at work. "How is everything?"
"Do you have a little bit to talk?"
"Of course." She was still typing.
"Mom, I need to talk to you about … that guy. The one who works with you."
At this point the typing stopped, and her mother said, "Give me one moment, let me shut the door here … okay. You mean Leif, don't you."
"What do you want to know?"
"I just … why, Mom?"
A sigh, much like her own, echoed through the line. "Oh, Julienne. I guess I'll start from the beginning.
"My father was always very protective of me. Most dads are when their only child is a girl. Your grandfather Nathan and my father already had some bad blood between them because at one point in the past they both liked the same woman. My father was also super-sensitive to any perceived criticism of his heritage as a vampire, and well … your grandfather had made quite a name for himself by refusing to talk to the press about, really, anything. So it was very easy for my father to believe the worst about him.
"When Wally first began coming around in high school, my father didn't think much of him because he was older than I was. Then one day Wally was telling me about his father and my father interrupts us and says, 'You're Nate Steel's kid?' And right after that my father made me break it off with him. I tried to explain the situation to Wally, tried to let him know that it was just until I got out of school and became an adult but he wouldn't hear me out … and I couldn't be the rope in a tug-of-war between him and my father.
"After that I started dating Leif. He was my age, he was a vampire, and that was good enough. I liked him, he liked me, I figured it would work. Then my mother died and my father fell into such deep depression that he didn't come out of his room for days. He took the vampirism antidote, sold our house and moved us out of town in less than a month's time. And Leif didn't call and we lost touch.
"I went to China for a work trip and ran into Wally again. Normally it would have been okay to see him, I think, but all of my plasma fruit had been confiscated and I was starving. And when you're that hungry, you can't be rational. He … he fed me, Julienne. And I couldn't keep my hands off him. By the end of that trip I was pregnant with you. I wasn't brave enough to raise you alone. I knew you needed a father.
"I broke it off with Leif and I told Wally. They were both angry with me and believe me, I don't blame either one of them. And ever since then, neither one of them will let go. It would be so easy for me if I knew that your father had fallen out of love with me, or if I could tell that Leif doesn't really care. But they're both in my life. And I love them both. Leif has already told me that he's going to be here when your father passes away, and your father already knows about Leif, so there are no secrets."
Julienne waited for a moment before murmuring, "And you … in love with two men and going to have them both … couldn't let me be happy."
"Wait a moment, Julienne. Before you accuse me of ruining your life, try to remember what you were like then. Kaitlin was the only person you ever talked to. You were putting all of your time and energy into maintaining a relationship with her and only her. If you think that you're disappointed now when your relationships don't work out, imagine how it would have felt to not have a relationship work out with the only friend you had. All I wanted was for you to give some other people a chance. That's all, I swear to you that's all."
"Well, I did, and it got me nowhere."
"Can you honestly say that you gave those relationships a fair shot? From what I could tell, you bailed out at the first sign of trouble. And I can tell you from experience, relationships can be a lot of trouble. You weren't mature enough to make them last. And if you couldn't do it at age 39, you stood no chance at age 18."
There was an uncomfortable pause before Ellen changed the subject and Julienne let her. They talked about her therapy and whether or not she honestly thought it was helping. And finally Ellen asked, "Are you actually attracted to women, honey?"
"I … I'm not sure."
"Because if you're not, there's someone in town who actually would like to spend some time with you. Your father knows this young man pretty well, and he says the guy's worth talking to. When you come home … we'll discuss it. And if you decide to go forward, take it slow, okay?"