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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Read Online (FREE)

Jean-Felix is always alluding to our long, long friendship—it’s the hold he has on me—the intensity of those early years, when it was just “us against the world.” But I don’t think Jean-Felix realizes he’s holding on to a part of my life when I wasn’t happy. And any affection I have for Jean-Felix is for that time. We’re like a married couple who have fallen out of love. Today I realized just how much I dislike him.

“I’m working,” I said. “I need to get on with this, so if you don’t mind…”

Jean-Felix pulled a face. “Are you asking me to leave? I’ve been watching you paint since you first picked up a brush. If I’ve been a distraction all these years, you might have said something sooner.”

“I’m saying something now.”

My face was feeling hot and I was getting angry. I couldn’t control it. I tried to paint but my hand was shaking. I could feel Jean-Felix watching me—I could practically hear his mind working—ticking, whirring, spinning. “I’ve upset you,” he said at last. “Why?”

“I just told you. You can’t keep popping over like this. You need to text me or call first.”

“I didn’t realize I needed a written invitation to see my best friend.”

There was a pause. He’d taken it badly. I guess there was no other way to take it. I hadn’t planned on telling him like this—I’d intended to break it to him more gently. But somehow I was unable to stop myself. And the funny thing is, I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to be brutal.

“Jean-Felix, listen.”

“I’m listening.”

“There’s no easy way to say this. But after the show, it’s time for a change.”

“Change of what?”

“Change of gallery. For me.”

Jean-Felix looked at me, astonished. He looked like a little boy, I thought, about to burst into tears, and I found myself feeling nothing but irritation.

“It’s time for a fresh start. For both of us.”

“I see.” He lit another cigarette. “And I suppose this is Gabriel’s idea?”

“Gabriel’s got nothing to do with it.”

“He hates my guts.”

“Don’t be stupid.”

“He poisoned you against me. I’ve seen it happening. He’s been doing it for years.”

“That’s not true.”

“What other explanation is there? What other reason could you have for stabbing me in the back?”

“Don’t be so dramatic. This is only about the gallery. It’s not about you and me. We’ll still be friends. We can still hang out.”

“If I text or call first?” He laughed and started talking fast, as if he was trying to get it out before I could stop him. “Wow, wow, wow. All this time I really believed in something, you know, in you and me—and now you’ve decided it was nothing. Just like that. No one cares about you like I do, you know. No one.”

“Jean-Felix, please—”

“I can’t believe you just decided like that.”

“I’ve been wanting to tell you for a while.”