I sat back and listened while Dr. Hernandez and Delia talked about the grounding thing and how Delia wouldn’t leave me home alone until everyone decided I could handle it. They both kept looking at me as if they expected me to say something, but I didn’t have anything to add. All I knew was I wanted to go home.
I kept waiting for Dr. Hernandez to bring up him. Even though the doctor had said he couldn’t tell Delia anything without my permission, I was afraid he would break the rule. But the whole time, he didn’t say a word about it.
When he finally said it was time for Delia to leave, I let out a long breath and relaxed so much I almost slid out of my chair.
“I’ll discharge Jim tomorrow afternoon.” Dr. Hernandez closed my folder. “I’d like to see him once a week for a few weeks as an outpatient to monitor his medication. When we’re sure the meds are working right, we’ll drop down to having him come in once a month. That won’t be a problem, will it?”
“No, I’ll make sure he gets here.” Delia smiled at me. “You know, Jim, you impress me.”
“Huh?” I sat up and stared at her.
“You could have tried this sooner.” She paused. “You could have succeeded. Or you might not have tried to get better. You’re a lot stronger than you realize.”
“I guess.” I wasn’t in the mood for compliments. I’d only ended up in the hospital—and in Ludington—because I was a criminal. That wasn’t anything to be proud of.
“I’ll see you tomorrow.” She stood. “Thanks, Dr. Hernandez.”
He got up and opened the door for her, then closed it behind her. I stayed in my chair, figuring Dr. Hernandez would tell me if it was time for me to go back to group.
“Delia seems to really care about you,” he said.
“I’m glad she brought you to live with her.” He sat down again. “I think with her support, you’re going to continue improving.”
“Yeah,” I said again. I hoped he was right, but even Delia’s support wouldn’t make my past go away. “Um, thanks for not telling her what we were talking about before.”
“I can’t tell her unless you say I can,” he said. “You know that. You can be proud of yourself for telling me, though. I saw how hard it was for you.”
“I never told anyone else what he did.” My heartbeat sped up, and I reminded myself it was okay to talk about him now. He wouldn’t find out, and even if he did, he couldn’t hurt me anymore.
“I know. I’m glad you trusted me enough to tell me.” Dr. Hernandez opened my folder again and wrote something. “Okay. You’re on track for going home tomorrow, as long as nothing changes between now and then. You’re going to see me once a week for a medication check. You’ll continue seeing Terry at the counseling center once a week as well, and Delia’s going to bring you to the shop with her daily for a while.”
“I’m not really thrilled about that,” I said. “What if the person who messaged me actually does spread the link around? Even if they don’t, some people check the registry anyway to make sure their kids are safe or whatever. For all I know, people here have already seen my name on the list. I don’t want to screw up Delia’s business.”
“That isn’t something for you to worry about,” he said firmly. “Delia will take care of her business. She wants you to take care of yourself. It seems as if you have more to talk about right now, but unfortunately, it’s time for you to go back to group and for me to meet with my next client. Are you okay to go?”
“No problem.” I stood up. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” He got up and opened the door. “I have to walk you back to the group room. Policy. Tomorrow I’ll meet with you when Delia comes to pick you up instead of in the morning. Okay?”
I followed him back down the hall like the obedient kid I was supposed to be.