Lilly rolled her eyes at the suggestion.
“I don’t need a psychiatrist, Mother,” she assured her. “I’m fine, just tired.”
Angelica crossed her arms over the tan and cream print blouse she wore and tapped her sandaled foot as she stared back at her daughter. The light, honey-brown above-the-knee-length skirt was a perfect complement to her mother’s legs just as the cream-colored pumps were.
“You wouldn’t be so tired if you slept at night rather than sneaking out at all hours,” she retorted. “Really, Lilly, you can use the front door, you know. You are over twenty-one and hadn’t had a curfew for several years before you disappeared. I doubt I’d try to enforce one now.”
“How do you know I’ve been slipping out of my room at night, Mother?” she asked.
Lilly had a very well-developed intuition and she knew she hadn’t felt prying eyes watching her. She had been aware of the investigator her uncle used to spy on her. He normally watched her balcony window. As though that were the only place she could sneak from the house.
“Does it matter how I know?” Angelica advanced further into the foyer. “I’m simply curious to know why you feel you must. What are you doing, Lilly, that you feel you have to hide it?”
“Perhaps I’ve just needed to get out,” Lilly said. “I don’t sleep well.”
“And the doctor gave you something for that.” Angelica frowned in concern. “You’re out with that Caine person, aren’t you? Do you think I hadn’t noticed he hasn’t been slipping into your bedroom lately?”
That Caine person, as though he didn’t matter enough to actually have a first name.
“Does it really matter what I’m doing?” Lilly finally sighed. “As you said, Mother, I’m a big girl now, I don’t have curfews and I know how to make my own friends.”
“I used to think you knew how,” Angelica said sadly. “I’m not so certain anymore, Lilly. I don’t think I even know who you are anymore.”
That makes two of us, Lilly thought.
“I don’t want to argue with you, Mother.”
“I do have a suggestion, dear,” her mother said. “Dr. Ridgemore has suggested that perhaps you need to rest more. You know he has a fine facility in southern France. It’s the perfect place to relax. You’d be well taken care of.”
Lilly stared back at her in incredulity. “Ridgemore’s facility is a joke,” she burst out. “Surely you’re not serious, Mother!”
Angelica’s face tightened. “You’re not acting well, Lilly, and your uncle and I are extremely worried. Even Jared agrees that might be the best choice. And Ridgemore is not a joke. It’s a very well-respected medical facility.”
Her mother wanted to have her committed? Did she really think that Lilly would allow her to do such a thing?
But her mother was serious, and Lilly knew it. Angelica had decided several times when Lilly was younger that she might need therapy or counseling. Both of which meant that Lilly wasn’t doing as Angelica wanted and might need to be convinced by a harrowing stay in Ridgemore’s clinic.
Lilly had heard rumors of the clinic, and she had seen the few friends she’d had who had been sent there. They returned much too quiet, too restrained. They no longer trusted their friends, and made choices on what their parents considered acceptable rather than what they themselves wanted.
“You’ve obviously been through a very trying time, dear.” Angelica touched her arm gently, her blue eyes darkening with remorse and sadness. “Whatever happened during the six years you were away was traumatic enough that you chose to block it out of your mind. I only want to help you to become better. Jared thinks—”
“Jared thinks, my ass,” she snapped. “What’s his problem? Is he scared he’s going to have to share the Harrington inheritance or something?”
“My God, Lilly, listen to your language!” Her mother gasped. “You sound like a street tramp rather than a lady.”
Lilly pushed her fingers through her hair and fought for a way to tamp down her frustration. She had no doubt her mother was looking into having her committed. It was popular among the upper classes to force children into asylums for drug or alcohol addictions, even for something so minor as consorting with people the parents considered too common. Defiance was often diagnosed as a mental problem that needed advanced psychiatric help. Such treatment did nothing more than create greater problems than before.
“Mother, there’s nothing wrong with me, mentally,” she said as she stared at her mother in disbelief. “I’m perfectly fine, I promise you.”
She tried to pass her mother, to put as much distance between the two of them as possible right now.
“Lilly, we need to discuss this.” Her mother’s fingers tightened on her arm. “This is a serious issue, and one that must be addressed.”
“And does Uncle Desmond agree with you?” Lilly snatched her arm back. “Tell me, Mother, how long do I have before Ridgemore’s ‘friendly’ assistants arrive to drag me to his asylum?”
“How common you sound,” Angelica said. “You are not the child I raised, Lilly. You need help and you know it. As always, you have Desmond wrapped around your little finger, just as you had your father. Neither of them dared to disagree with you then, and Desmond wouldn’t risk it now.”
As far as Lilly was concerned, Desmond was anything but “wrapped.” As normal, her mother did love to exaggerate.