Brute Strength

Brute Strength by Susan Conant Page B

Book: Brute Strength by Susan Conant Read Free Book Online
Authors: Susan Conant
younger women,’ Steve said.
    â€˜Rita, that was pushing it. But Avery? Avery isn’t even an adult, really. She’s as adolescent as she can be, and she’s a very depressed adolescent. Steve, she needs a psychiatrist, but not as a date. Quinn must know that.’
    â€˜Good thing Rita didn’t come with us after all.’
    â€˜Absolutely!’
    â€˜She’s well rid of him,’ Steve said.
    â€˜Agreed. Especially after this. Steve, we have to find Rita another man. She is so lonely! And you know how wonderful she is. It’s just a damn shame. Among other things, it’s too bad that she’s not lesbian, but she isn’t, and I’m not even sure that there are all that many available women who deserve her. Where are all the eligible men? Well, in malamute rescue! We get a lot more males than females, which reminds me, there is Max Crocker. I still don’t have a rescue dog for him. There’s a female in Maine, and I was hoping that she’d be a good match, but she’s terrible with cats, and Max has a Maine coon. Anyway, Max is a psychologist who lives in Cambridge. He grew up with a Scottie, and he and Rita would be the perfect match. All I have to do is maneuver Rita into taking Willie to the National Pet Week event, and at least I’ll have the chance to introduce her to Max.’ After a pause to chew and swallow, I said, ‘You can have all the fried clams you want. They’re really good. And French fries. Help yourself.’
    Steve accepted the offer and insisted on giving me some of his delectable scallop dish. It’s easy to imagine Steve as he must have been in kindergarten or first grade. I know how cute he was – I’ve seen pictures – and I’m sure that his personality was the same then as it is now. At five and six, he went about his lessons in a thorough, systematic way, and every school report undoubtedly read, ‘Steve plays well with others.’
    â€˜You play well with others,’ I said. ‘You share your toys. I love you.’
    For dessert, we had a big plate of profiteroles, cream-puff shells filled with ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce, served with two spoons, and we stopped talking about other people. On our way out, we passed by the table where Quinn Youngman and Avery Jones were sitting. As we approached, I heard Quinn saying something about Bob Dylan and wondered whether Avery had any idea who Dylan was. If so, she probably thought of Dylan as someone her mother had listened to in her distant youth. Catching sight of us, Avery said a polite hello. Quinn just nodded, but his face flushed crimson. When we were out of his hearing, I said, ‘Child molester. You’re right. Rita is well rid of him.’

THIRTEEN
    S teve and I spent a peaceful Sunday together listening to country music, working on our house, and playing with our dogs. By unspoken agreement, we said nothing about Quinn Youngman, Avery Jones, Rita’s love life, obscene phone calls, or anonymous letters, and we avoided the topic of Fiona’s death. I was tempted to call Gabrielle in the hope of allaying my fears about her need to consult a Boston doctor, but I restrained the impulse: Gabrielle was usually so forthcoming about everything that if she wanted to remain silent, she had a good reason. Furthermore, one secret that she was keeping from my father – dog training – was entirely innocuous. The other might be equally so.
    On Monday morning, after a day of escape from worry, having settled myself at the kitchen table with my notebook computer and cup of coffee in front of me and with Rowdy and Kimi at my feet, I turned to the mystery of the nasty phone calls and the anonymous message. After an uninterrupted day with Steve, I felt comfortably imbued with his calm, systematic rationality. My own approach to the problem would’ve been to try to find out everything all at once and as quickly as possible. So,

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