Follow Me Back - A. Meredith Walters

chapter

one

aubrey

“miss Duncan, you have been asked here today to discuss the allegations that have been lodged against you in regard to your behavior toward a member of the support group you had been co-facilitating. These allegations describe a personal and inappropriate relationship that is a clear violation of our ethical codes of conduct.”

I looked steadily at the three people who sat at the table in front of me. I picked at the skin around my fingernails and tried not to fidget in my seat. My day of reckoning was here.

I was nervous. I’d be an idiot if I weren’t. This was the possible end of all of my dreams and aspirations. Three years of hard work crumbling around me. But losing my place in the Longwood University counseling program wasn’t what kept me awake at night for the past two weeks. It wasn’t what had my insides twisted into knots and tears drying on my cheeks.

My state of emotional upheaval could only be attributed to one thing. One pivotal moment that had shredded my soul and threatened to unravel me.

Saying good-bye to Maxx Demelo. Choosing my sanity over his pain. Leaving him when he needed me the most. And even though our dysfunctional love had almost ruined me, I still couldn’t shake the guilt.

But I wasn’t defeated yet. It was time to be a grown-up and face the consequences of my disastrous choices head-on. It was my only option now that I had lost the person I had thrown everything away for.

Dr. Lowell, my academic adviser, sat beside two of her university colleagues. She was stoically looking at the paper in her hands. Her mouth was pinched and her brow was furrowed. She was upset and disappointed in me. And she had every right to be.

I had been her most promising student. I had a good GPA. I had been on the fast track to a great career as a substance abuse counselor. I had taken my future seriously.

Until the day Maxx had walked into the support group and blown my life apart. Now when she looked at me, all she saw was a screwup. It sucked.

“We have read over your written statement and it seems you aren’t denying the allegations. Is that correct, Miss Duncan?” Dr. Jamison, the head of the Counseling Department, asked, pursing his lips. He looked at me over the rim of his wire-framed glasses, condemnation written all over his face. Obviously he had already made up his mind about me. And it wasn’t favorable.

I sat up straight and squared my shoulders. I took a deep breath and readied myself. Because all I could do was be completely and totally truthful. I was long overdue for a healthy dose of honesty.

“That’s correct, Dr. Jamison. I admit to engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a member of the substance abuse support group. As I wrote in my statement, I was aware that my actions were a violation of the code of conduct and I accept any and all disciplinary action.” I was proud of the fact that my voice never wavered. I didn’t cry, whimper, or plead. I would take my punishment, whatever it may be. Inside, however, I was crumbling.

Dr. Jamison looked at Professor Bradley, a slight woman with obviously dyed brown hair and a nasty habit of mixing plaids with stripes, and said something under his breath. He then turned to Dr. Lowell, who continued to keep her head down. Dr. Lowell nodded, her hands clenched on the table in front of her.

They talked quietly among themselves while I fiddled with a piece of string hanging