The Malley case was the eight-year-old child murder

I asked for a booth away from the mahogany bar with its low-pitched alkiechatter and sports on TV. By the time Allison showed up ten minutes later, I’dfinished my Chivas, was working on my second glass of water.
The restaurant was dim and she stood there for a few seconds letting hereyes adjust. Her long, black hair swung free and her ivory face was serious. Ithought I saw tension around the shoulders.
She stepped forward, revealed color. An orange pantsuit hugged her trimlittle body. Tangerine-orange. With that hair of hers, Halloween Costumecould’ve been a problem but she made it work.
She spotted me, strode forward on high heels. The usual adornments sparkledat earlobes, wrists, and neck. Gold and sapphire; the stones brought out thedeep blue of her eyes and played off the orange. Her makeup was perfect and hernails were French-tipped. The smile that parted her lips was hard to read.
A substantive woman but she takes a long time getting herself together.
The kiss on my cheek was quick and cool. She slid into the booth, just closeenough to make conversation feasible but too distant for easy touching. Beforewe could talk the waiter had planted himself in front of us. Eduardo, thefeisty one. Eighty-year-old Argentinian immigrant who claimed he could cookseafood better than the chef.
He bowed before Allison. “Evening, Dr. Gwynn. The usual?”
“No, thanks,” she said. “It’s a little chilly outside, so I think I’ll havean Irish coffee. Make it decaf, Eduardo, or I’ll be calling you up at threea.m. to play cards.”
His smile said that wasn’t a dreaded outcome. “Very good, Doctor. AnotherChivas, sir?”
Eduardo returned with drinks and menus. Extra whipped cream for Allison’sIrish coffee. Bowing again, he left.
We touched glasses and drank. Allison licked foam from her upper lip. Herface was smooth and white as fresh cream. She’s thirty-nine but when she easesup on the jewelry, she can pass for ten years younger.
“Sorry, that was totally inappropriate.” She smoothed hair away from herface. “I knew it and felt like asking, anyway.”
Bending over her coffee, she inhaled steam. “You’re entitled to sleep withanyone you want, I just yearned to be bitchy. Sometimes I wouldn’t mindsleeping with you myself.”
“Sometimes is better than never.”
“On the face of it, why shouldn’t we?” she said. “Two healthy, libidinouspeople. We were great together.” Faint smile. “Except when we weren’t…not veryprofound, is it?”
We drank in silence. The second Chivas brought on a nice warm buzz. Maybethat’s why I said, “So what the hell happened?”
“Alex, when we started out, there was this rush of feeling every time I sawyou. All I had to do was hear your voice and this sympathetic nervous systemthing kicked in—this incredible flood of emotion. Sometimes when the doorbellrang and I knew it was you there’d be this heat—like a hot flash. I started toworry I was going through early menopause.” She looked into her Irish coffee.“Sometimes I’d get sopping wet. That was something.”
I touched her hand. Cool.
She said, “Maybe we just had some kind of hormonal thing going on and itfaded. Maybe every damn thing boils down to hormones and we’re in the wrongdamn field.”
She turned away. Grabbed for her purse, fumbled for a tissue, and poked ather eyes. “One drink and my filter goes bye-bye.”
Her mouth set in a way that thinned her lips. “I’ll probably regret sayingthis but what really bothered me when I felt things diminishing was that itwasn’t that way with Grant.”
Her dead husband. Wharton grad, rich kid, successful financial type. He’dsuccumbed young to a freakishly rare cancer. Even when Allison loved me she’dtalked about him adoringly.
She said, “I just lied big time. It did fade with Grant. After I buried himhe stopped being physical to me and turned into a…a…wraith. I felt—still feelguilty about that.”
I groped for a reply. Every option sounded like shrinky cant. Coming herehad been a mistake.
Suddenly, Allison’s hip was touching mine and she was taking my face in herhands, kissing me hard. She retreated, ended up even farther down the booth.
We sat there.
“Alex, what I felt about you in the beginning was every bit as intense aswith Grant. More intense on the physical level. Which also made me feel guilty.I started to think about us in a long-term sense. Wondering what it would belike. Then we had that problem on the Malley case and things just started tochange. I know that alone couldn’t have done it, there must’ve been…oh, listento me, I sound like every other talky broad…it’s confusing. The work stuff waspart of what turned me on, and then all of a sudden it repulsed me.”
The Malley case was the eight-year-old child murder. One of Allison’spatients—a fragile young woman—had been drawn in. I’d deceived her. All in thename of truth, justice…
Robin had never liked hearing about the work stuff. Allison had chased gorydetails with a vengeance.

————Slimming Soft Gel

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