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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Read Online (FREE)

Paul leapt to his feet. “Just a sec.” He walked out. He hurried to the foot of the stairs. He raised his voice. “Everything all right, Mum?”

A mumbled response that I couldn’t understand came from upstairs.

“What? Oh, all right. Just—just a minute.” He sounded uneasy.

Paul glanced at me across the hallway, frowning. He nodded at me. “She wants you to go up.”

 

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

STEADIER ON MY FEET, but still feeling faint, I followed Paul as he thudded up the dusty staircase.

Lydia Rose was waiting at the top. I recognized her scowling face from the window. She had long white hair, spreading across her shoulders like a spider’s web. She was enormously overweight—a swollen neck, fleshy forearms, massive legs like tree trunks. She was leaning heavily on her walking stick, which was buckling under her weight and looked like it might give way at any moment.

“Who is he? Who is he?”

Her shrill question was directed to Paul, even though she was staring at me. She didn’t take her eyes off me. Again, the same intense gaze I recognized from Alicia.

Paul spoke in a low voice. “Mum. Don’t get upset. He’s Alicia’s therapist, that’s all. From the hospital. He’s here to talk to me.”

“You? What does he want to talk to you for? What have you done?”

“He just wants to find out a bit about Alicia.”

“He’s a journalist, you fucking idiot.” Her voice approached a shriek. “Get him out!”

“He’s not a journalist. I’ve seen his ID, all right? Now, come on, Mum, please. Let’s get you back to bed.”

Grumbling, she allowed herself to be guided back into her bedroom. Paul nodded at me to follow.

Lydia flopped back with a deep thud. The bed quivered as it absorbed her weight. Paul adjusted her pillows. An ancient cat lay asleep by her feet, the ugliest cat I’d ever seen—battle scarred, bald in places, one ear bitten off. It was growling in its sleep.

I glanced around the room. It was full of junk—stacks of old magazines and yellowing newspapers, piles of old clothes. An oxygen canister stood by the wall, and a cake tin full of medications was on the bedside table.

I could feel Lydia’s hostile eyes on me the whole time. There was madness in her gaze; I felt quite sure of that.

“What does he want?” Her eyes darted up and down feverishly as she sized me up. “Who is he?”

“I just told you, Mum. He wants to know some background on Alicia, to help him treat her. He’s her psychotherapist.”

Lydia left no doubt about her opinion of psychotherapists. She turned her head, cleared her throat—and spat onto the floor in front of me.

Paul groaned. “Mum, please—”

“Shut up.” Lydia glared at me. “Alicia doesn’t deserve to be in hospital.”

“No?” I said. “Where should she be?”

“Where do you think? Prison.” Lydia eyed me scornfully. “You want to hear about Alicia? I’ll tell you about her. She’s a little bitch. She always was, even as a child.”