The Sensualist & the Untouched

By: Susan Laine

CHAPTER 1





“I’M THIRTY-THREE, and I’m a frigid virgin.”

For admitting that wretched truth out loud, Corey didn’t expect any prizes, but dammit, some acknowledgment would have been nice. But the curvaceous brunette in the tight burgundy business dress and black high heels expressed no emotions on her subtly made-up face.

Then again, Adelaide Kingsley was a renowned psychologist of the rich and famous, trained to maintain a neutral facade, to show no startled reactions. Or maybe some other adult virgin had already shocked her with their tale of woe, Corey mused sardonically.

“You feel these are a problem for you, Mr. Paige?” she asked with a flat voice.

Corey shrugged, feigning indifference while looking out the skyscraper window, where the Manhattan skyline was cast under an iron-colored, cloudy sky. “Isn’t determining that your job?”

“You pointed out three things,” she remarked, scribbling into the iPad on her lap. To Corey she looked far too overtly sexy to be a professional. Yet, she had been recommended to him. A psychologist who specialized in sex disorders. Apparently, lifelong celibacy was among them. “Your age, your physiological condition, and your sexual inexperience.”

Since she added nothing else, Corey assumed reasonably that Adelaide was expecting him to fill in the blanks. He sighed. “I’m not over the hill yet. I’m still young. That’s fine.”

Adelaide quirked a smile. “Go on.” She was a tough nut to crack. Corey couldn’t read her very well, just a hint here and there, uncertain and rife with multiple interpretations.

Corey resisted the urge to roll his eyes or grit his teeth. “I’ve never been diagnosed as frigid. But I know I am.” Adelaide cocked her head, always waiting it seemed. Corey stared out the window, where the glass was gathering droplets and wet striations from the drizzle that had begun. “When I look at people, I… I feel nothing. Not for women, not for men.” He huffed out, angry. “And no, not for kids, farmyard animals, or corpses, either.”

Adelaide wrote on her high-tech notebook, her gaze quickly reverting back to her client. “I’m glad to hear that.”

“Why? Wouldn’t sexual perversions be right up your alley? Your bread and butter, so to speak?” Corey knew he was being pissy, but he didn’t care. He didn’t want to be here—yet he knew he needed to be. For nearly twenty years now, he should have been accumulating a vast array of sexual experiences like everyone else, but… he had none. Not a single kiss, not even a hug. A few pats on the back didn’t qualify.

And that did piss him off, so he should probably apologize to the woman trying to help him.

But she spoke first, calm as ever. “Tell me about your frigidity, Mr. Paige.”

Corey closed his eyes briefly, inhaling. “I’m logically aware that you, for example, are a beautiful woman. But I feel nothing when I look at you. It’s as if… you’re made of paper, two-dimensional, with no depth at all. You barely register as human to me.”

“Please, go on.” Her look was focused, pensive, even a bit intense.

Looks like I got her attention now. “It’s the same with everyone. And no, it’s not just about being able to read signals and interpret another’s attention or attraction. I can see the signs in others. Sometimes even directed at me. But… I feel nothing for them. I don’t want to know them, I don’t want to kiss them, touch them, be naked with them. None of that.”

Adelaide remained quiet for a time, as if scrutinizing him. He feared what kind of mental illness she would diagnose. Suddenly she smiled softly. “I imagine there have been quite a few different diagnoses on the table with other doctors.”

Corey scoffed. “Lucky guess.”

She chuckled in response. “Well, right off the bat I’m ruling out dissociative identity disorders.”

Corey let out a sigh from somewhere deep inside him. He’d never had memory lapses or suffered major emotional trauma. Hearing the confirmation by a specialist was comforting.

“I was, however, considering schizoid personality disorder,” she went on. “This is characterized by disinterest in social relationships.” Corey swallowed nervously. “A person with this disorder is socially and emotionally distant, fearful of close interactions with other people, has a limited range of emotional expression, and his thinking process is distorted, all of which is apparent in speech and behavior.” She offered a reassuring smile. “And these qualities I have not observed in you. You have excellent social skills and mature use of speech patterns, and you express your emotions freely, such as your nervousness right now. You do not fear relationships as much as you claim you feel nothing.”

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