For those of you who are reading Caught in the Web on my blog - here is chapter 22.
But really I would love to meet you, so if you get a chance, please come along on Saturday and have a look at this truly amazing bookshop and even if you don't have the money to buy your very own signed copy - I won't mind as long as you say hello.
'Come in, Mrs. Edwards,' Doctor Wright said as he pulled out a wad of papers from a buff envelope. The total contents of Karen's medical history. 'Do sit down. Now, what seems to be the trouble?' He looked up at her over the top of his glasses.
'Well, actually,' began Karen, 'there's nothing wrong with me. My husband insisted I come to see you.'
'Oh, yes. He's worried about how you've been lately.'
'I only came in to tell you that I'm fine,' Karen said. 'I'm sorry that he's wasted your time.'
'How are you sleeping?'
'I sleep well,' said Karen. 'Look. There's nothing wrong with me. I told you.'
'How have you been in yourself?' he continued as he scribbled in her notes. 'Any low moods? Thoughts of harming yourself?'
'Of course not!' Where had he got this all from?
The doctor stopped writing and looked up. He sighed.
'Look,' he said. 'It's obvious you don't want to be here, and you don't think you need my help, but you do look like you need someone to talk to and that's what I'm here for.'
Karen stared at him. She could think of nothing to say.
'Tell me about your work,' he went on. 'You've started a new job, I understand.'
'What has my husband been saying to you?' Karen asked. 'Yes, I have started a new job at Highclere Hospital as an assistant nurse. I love the work and am very happy there.' She paused. 'In fact, I've applied to do my training and it starts in October. Unfortunately my husband doesn't approve and that's probably why he thinks I should see you.'
'Are you sure that you're ready to take on such a job?' He paused. 'People often find that life is, aah, difficult after the operation you had. It could make your decision-making a bit, well, off-kilter, so to speak.'
'Off-kilter?' She could feel her voice getting louder. 'What do you mean by that?'
'How are you getting on with your patients?' He ignored her question and carried on. 'Your husband said that you're getting odd thoughts about them.'
Karen felt herself blushing.
'I have not been having odd thoughts about my patients, or anyone else come to that,' she said. 'OK, there is a patient there that I have an interest in but everyone does that with patients. You can't help it. Their lives are so sad and you just think, it could be your own mother, lying there, helpless.'
'Tell me about this woman,' urged Dr. Wright.
'She's just a poor woman who was abandoned in there when she was young. All she did was have a baby out of wedlock, and they locked her up. She's been there for twenty-three years! I've been curious about her but I'm not obsessed.'
Doctor Wright was smiling at her. 'We can all get too close to our patients,' he said. 'But it's not a very good idea. You must keep a certain distance from them. That's one thing you'll soon learn.' He paused. 'If you do your training.'
'I am doing my training,' Karen said. 'And yes, I do know all about boundaries. I'm just being truthful about how I feel, that's all.'
'How are things at home?' he continued. 'Have you been keeping up with the housework?'
'Of course.' Karen wondered what that had to do with anything.
'Your husband says that you're - how shall I say this?' He tried to find the words. 'Less able to cook and keep the house clean. Have you been neglecting yourself?'
'No, Of course not!' Karen snapped. 'Just because I work long shifts and I'm not there at every mealtime. Things are just different when you're on shifts. You should know that, Doctor.'
'Yes, yes, of course,' he agreed. 'Well, if you're sure all is well with you, then that's fine.'
'I am sure,' Karen asserted. 'Look, Doctor, my husband is telling you lies about me. I don't know why but he's trying to make out that I'm ill, and I'm not.'
'How do you mean?'
'He's said that I've been crying a lot and staying up all night, and saying weird things.'
'Have you been having, er, weird thoughts?'
'No. I've told you already.' Karen said. 'I don't have weird thoughts at all, I sleep well, and I haven't been crying any more than usual.'
'Do you usually cry then?' He looked up.
'Only when I'm upset and that's usually justified.'
'How do you mean?'
'All married couples have their ups and downs, don't they?' she said.
'Of course,' he agreed. 'So you admit that you sometimes cry about things?'
'No more than anyone else,' she said. 'Look Doctor, I don't know what my husband has been saying to you exactly, but I assure you, there is nothing wrong with me.'
'You seem well enough,' he smiled.
'I am.' She picked up her bag.
'Come and see me again, if you need to talk,' he said.
Karen got up to leave. 'Thank you. I will,' she said through gritted teeth as she turned to walked out of the room. She paused at the door to say something more but changed her mind. Once outside, she looked through the glass panel and saw him reach for the telephone.
Seething inside, Karen walked the few streets home, wondering what on earth to say to Peter when she saw him that evening. There was a certain feeling of uneasiness brewing inside her as she realised how simple it would be for him to persuade her doctor that she was mentally ill.
'Have things really changed that much in twenty-odd years?' she thought.