Chapter 1

Boston, MA

Present Day 

With boxes stacked so high in my arms that I could barely see over the top of them, I did my best to ignore the incessant binging noise from my pocket as I focused on not falling to my death down the long set of stairs to the shipping truck.

Georgie’s voice called out to me from behind. “Your phone is blowing up. Do you need to stop and look at it?”

I gave my head one careful shake as I continued down the stairs. “I’ll look at it after we get your things loaded. It’s just one of my patients that I finally cut off. I warned him over and over that I wouldn’t put up with him skipping his therapy sessions. He didn’t listen. Yesterday was his third strike. He’s out for good.”

“Damn.” Georgie laughed as I reached the last step and waited for the truck driver to open the door for me. “You’re ruthless. Will you take him back? If all those messages are from him, he seems pretty determined to convince you.”

It didn’t matter how many messages I received, nothing ever changed my mind when I finally decided to end my work with a client.

“I’m not ruthless. I just can’t help patients who aren’t willing to help themselves. Regaining function in their body means nothing if they aren’t willing to put forth the same effort to working on their mind. The two go hand in hand. I inform them of my rules when they sign on with me. If I ever caved, my reputation wouldn’t be what it is.”

Georgie’s voice neared me as I stopped in front of the truck. “I admire you. Calling people on their bullshit has always been one of your greatest strengths. I’m going to miss it.”

I waited patiently for her to hand off her load before reaching to pull her into a hug.

“And I’m going to miss the way you always make sure that we never run out of ice cream. How am I going to live in this space without you, Georgie? Eight years is a very long time.”

Before Georgie could answer, the truck driver came over with a form for Georgie to sign.

“Is this everything? If so, please look this over and make certain we have the correct number of boxes listed and confirm that the shipping address is correct.”

Georgie looked over the form, signed at the bottom, and handed the clipboard back to the man. “Everything looks great. Thank you so much for all of your help.”

“It’s no problem at all. These boxes should arrive at your new address in Spain within the next two weeks. Please be sure to file any damage claims within ten days of receipt or we will not consider ourselves responsible for any damage.”

Spain. My mind drifted as Georgie finished up her business with the shipping team and we watched the truck pull away from the front of our beloved apartment building. My best friend in the world was moving to a different country. The woman who’d seen me through countless breakups, who helped drag me through grad school, who singlehandedly set up all of the “business” things in my business I was so terrible at was leaving. I wasn’t sure I would make a very good adult without her.

“You’re going to be fine, Sue. You’ve helped me just as much as I’ve helped you. It’s time for both of us to venture out on our own a bit.”

I knew she was right. This parting was inevitable. Now much closer to thirty than twenty, it was time that our own, separate lives began. That didn’t make today any easier.

“I hope you know that despite my mood today, I’m thrilled for you, Georgie, and I couldn’t be more proud. You’re going to be the best architect Barcelona has ever seen. I’m just going to miss you so much I can’t stand it.”

Georgie laughed as we made our way back upstairs together. “I think Gaudi’s already taken that spot, but I appreciate your confidence in me all the same. And for what it’s worth, I’m going to miss you too.”

It took us much less time to return to our apartment than it did to make our way down from it. As we stepped inside, we both sighed in unison.

With Georgie’s belongings now gone, it looked nothing like the home we’d both known for so long.

Georgie walked over to the one rundown couch that was left in the living room and lowered herself onto it as she spoke. “I could’ve left the bigger pieces if you’d wanted them. I truly wouldn’t have minded.”

“No, you need to sell them so you’ll have a bit of cash to get you started once you get over there. It’ll be fun for me to discover my own style. It’s an excuse to go furniture shopping.”

Georgie patted the seat next to her, and I walked across the room to join her on the couch.

“Good. Promise me you’ll spend your free time setting up this place exactly how you want it, or seeking a new hobby, rather than taking on more clients. Your schedule is already too packed as it is, but I know you, and you’re going to want a distraction from this big change. Allow yourself to sit in it for a while, allow yourself to get used to it rather than just avoid how you’re feeling about it.”

I frowned. She knew me too well. Only this morning, I’d been thinking about opening my business up to a few more clients for that very reason.

“You’re pretty good at calling people on their shit, too, ya know?”

Georgie shrugged. “I’ve lived with you long enough. I’m sure it was inevitable that some of that rubbed off on me.”

She paused to glance at her watch and I sighed.

“It’s time?”

“No. I’ve got a little time. What are your plans after I leave here?”

I looked around the room and chuckled softly. I knew there was only one right answer I could give her. “I’m going furniture shopping, obviously.”

Georgie shook her head as she laughed. “Right answer. Speaking of furniture. I finally met the new building manager when I was helping Jeanette move a new sofa into her apartment. Best steer clear of him. He’s horrible.”

“Horrible? How so?”

Georgie widened her eyes and drew in a deep breath while baring her teeth to me. “Don’t get me wrong. He’s insanely good looking, but my God, was he grumpy. We were blocking the hallway as we tried to wedge the sofa into her living room. All he did was stand there and gripe at us. He didn’t once offer to help.”

“Was there anything he could’ve done?”

Georgie crossed her arms and frowned at me. “Well, no. There was no room for him to grab anything, anywhere, but it’s the principle of it. He should’ve at least offered.”

I shrugged. Georgie herself didn’t always give off the friendliest first impression. It made me wonder if perhaps this fellow was just the same way.

“Maybe he was just having a bad day, or perhaps he’s really shy.”

“I’m not the only one who thinks he’s a grumpy asshole. Just ask anybody in the building that’s bumped into him. You’ll have to form your own opinion about him, of course, but I’m just saying…if something breaks in your apartment and you can fix it without calling him…do it.”

I laughed and then sighed as I glanced at the clock. It was nearly time for Georgie to leave.

“Noted. It’s time, isn’t it?”

“Yes, but please don’t look so grim. It’s already hard for me to leave. You’ve already got your ticket booked to come and see me in four months. That will be here before we know it.”

I plastered on a smile as I stood and shook away the blues before I moved in to hug her.

“Of course. Four months will go by in a flash. You be so careful heading over there, okay? Call me as soon as you land. Don’t worry about the time difference. Just let me know you made it safely.”

Georgie took one last look at her old home, squeezed me one last time, and left.

It took all of five minutes of me sitting there in silence before I pulled out my notepad and made a list of all the things I now needed to buy: a television, a new sofa and some chairs for my embarrassingly sparse living room, various kitchen gadgets and appliances, furniture for my new guest room, and dishes.

Gathering up my credit card—which was about to take a hit like it had never seen before—I braced myself for a day of shopping and stepped outside.