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The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides Read Online (FREE)

“She’s not going to seduce me, Christian.”

He laughed. “I think she already has. You’re giving her just what she wants.”

“I’m giving her what she needs. There’s a difference.”

“How do you know what she needs? You’re overidentifying with her. It’s obvious. She’s the patient, you know—not you.”

I looked at my watch in an attempt to disguise my anger. “I have to go.”

I stood and picked up my tray. I started walking away, but Christian called after me, “She’ll turn on you, Theo. Just wait. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

I felt annoyed. And the annoyance stayed with me for the rest of the day.

*   *   *

After work, I left the Grove and went to the small shop at the end of the road, to buy a pack of cigarettes. I put a cigarette in my mouth, lit it, and inhaled deeply, barely conscious of my actions. I was thinking about what Christian had said, going over it in my mind while the cars sped past. Borderlines are seductive, I heard him saying.

Was it true? Was that why I was so annoyed? Had Alicia emotionally seduced me? Christian clearly thought so, and I had no doubt Diomedes suspected it. Were they right?

Searching my conscience, I felt confident the answer was no. I wanted to help Alicia, yes—but I was also perfectly able to remain objective about her, stay vigilant, tread carefully, and keep firm boundaries.

I was wrong. It was already too late, though I wouldn’t admit this, even to myself.

*   *   *

I called Jean-Felix at the gallery. I asked what had happened to Alicia’s art materials—her paints, brushes, and canvases. “Is it all in storage?”

After a slight pause he answered, “Well, no, actually … I have all her stuff.”

“You do?”

“Yes. I cleared out her studio after the trial—and got hold of everything worth keeping—all her preliminary sketches, notebooks, her easel, her oils. I’m storing it all for her.”

“How nice of you.”

“So you’re following my advice? Letting Alicia paint?”

“Yes. Whether anything will come of it remains to be seen.”

“Oh, something will come of it. You’ll see. All I ask is you let me have a look at the finished paintings.”

A strange note of hunger was in his voice. I had a sudden image of Alicia’s pictures swaddled like babies in blankets in that storage room. Was he really keeping them safe for her? Or because he couldn’t bear to let go of them?

“Would you mind dropping off the materials to the Grove?” I said. “Would that be convenient?”

“Oh, I—” There was a moment’s hesitation. I felt his anxiety.

I found myself coming to his rescue. “Or I can pick them up from you if that’s easier?”

“Yes, yes, perhaps that would be better.”

Jean-Felix was scared of coming here, scared of seeing Alicia. Why? What was there between them?

What was it that he didn’t want to face?