Sacred Sins

Sacred Sins by Nora Roberts

Book: Sacred Sins by Nora Roberts Read Free Book Online
Authors: Nora Roberts
to show off the flare of the skirt. “I did have the most marvelous time shopping. And you'd have been proud of me. I only bought two outfits. Well, three,” she amended with a giggle. “But lingerie shouldn't count, should it? Then I went down to have some coffee. You know that marvelous restaurant in the Mazza Gallerie where you can look up at all the people and the shops?”
    “Yes.” Tess was sitting on the corner of her desk. Mrs. Halderman looked at her, caught her bottom lipbetween her teeth, not in shame or anxiety, but in suppressed delight. Then she walked to a chair and sat primly.
    “I was having coffee. I'd thought about having a roll, but if I didn't watch my figure, clothes wouldn't be so much fun. A man was sitting at the table beside mine. Oh, Dr. Court, I knew as soon as I saw him. Why, my heart just started to pound.” She put a hand to it, as though even now its rhythm couldn't be trusted. “He was so handsome. Just a little gray right here.” She touched her forefingers to her temples as her eyes took on the soft, dreamy light Tess had seen too often to count. “He was tanned, as though he'd been skiing. Saint Moritz, I thought, because it's really too early for Vermont. He had a leather briefcase with his little initials monogrammed. I kept trying to guess what they stood for. M.W.” She sighed over them, and Tess knew she was already changing the monogram on her bath towels. “I can't tell you how many names I'd conjured up to fit those initials.”
    “What did they stand for?”
    “Maxwell Witherspoon. Isn't that a wonderful name?”
    “Very distinguished.”
    “Why, that's just what I told him.”
    “So, you spoke with him.”
    “Well, my purse slid off the table.” She put her fingers to her lips as if to hide a grin. “A girl's got to have a trick or two if she wants to meet the right man.”
    “You knocked your purse off the table.”
    “It landed right by his foot. It was my pretty black-and-white snakeskin. Maxwell leaned over to pick it up. As he handed it to me, he smiled. My heart just about stopped. It was like a dream. I didn't hear the clatter of the other tables, I didn't see the shoppers on the floors above us. Our fingers touched, and—oh, promise you won't laugh, Doctor.”
    “Of course I won't.”
    “It was as if he'd touched my soul.”
    That's what she'd been afraid of. Tess moved away from the desk to sit in the chair opposite her patient. “Mrs. Halderman, do you remember Asanti?”
    “Him?” With a sniff Mrs. Halderman dismissed her fourth husband.
    “When you met him at the art gallery, under his painting of Venice, you thought he touched your soul.”
    “That was different. Asanti was Italian. You know how clever Italian men are with women. Maxwell's from Boston.”
    Tess fought back a sigh. It was going to be a very long fifty minutes.

    W HEN Ben entered Tess's outer office, he found exactly what he'd expected. It was as cool and classy as her apartment. Calming colors, deep roses, smoky grays that would put her patients at ease. The potted ferns by the windows had moist leaves, as though they'd just been spritzed with water. Fresh flowers and a collection of figurines in a display cabinet lent the air of a parlor rather than a reception room. From the copy of
left open on a low coffee table, he gathered her current patient was a woman.
    It didn't remind him of another doctor's office, one with white walls and the scent of leather. He didn't feel the hitch in his gut or the sweat on the back of his neck as the door closed behind him. He wouldn't be waiting for his brother here, because Josh was gone.
    Tess's secretary sat at a neat enameled desk, working with a single-station computer. She stopped typing as Ben and Ed entered, and looked as calm and easy as the room. “Can I help you?”
    “Detectives Paris and Jackson.”
    “Oh, yes. Dr. Court's expecting you. She's with a patient at the moment. If you won't mind waiting, I could get you

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