The Foster Effect is the first novel by Austin attorney, turned writer, Bruce Farrow-Smith. A 1995 outline forming the story's endoskeleton, became entombed by life and lawyering then abandoned, bare and discontented. The first, very rough draft eked into being a full twenty years after, and only one month past his first day in retriement. A return to university studies provided tools necessary to craft a tale of discovery, obsession, deceit, betrayal and murder in this, the first book of three, currently identified as The Foster Trilogy. Bits-and-pieces of the colorful characters, and episodes confessed over those twenty years have been seemlessly wed to birth WINSTON and LAURA MARKHAM, DENTON FOSTER and the story’s supporting cast. The setting is Austin, leaving only once for a pivotal assignation at San Antonio's historic St. Anthony hotel. As tribute to its inception, the story begins in the autumn of 1995.
(It reads at a length of 94,444 words.)

Excerpt From


Prologue & The First Ten Pages

Page i


The squeal of tire rubber, crumpling metal, breaking glass, gave way to a ragged breath—her last, then death's silence, gave way to sensual moans, to the gush of orgasmic pleasure, to Denton's rapid, heavy breathing, to the sweet song of Olivia's runner’s pant, gave way to screams of gathering sirens, then the hurried, but confident, even assured voices of first responders converging—like ants to a road-side carcass—on the mangled remains of Olivia—her Mercedes, then by the solemn declaration "she's gone", was drowned by pounding on a door, by voices strange from lips strange, saying "We're sorry Mr. Foster but the news is not . . . um . . . there's been an accident . . . an accident . . . accid . . .", drown out by the primal screams of a disbelieving husband.

In each mutation—and there were many—of his newfound companion, it was here he woke. When the involuntary sound of pain crawled from his nightmare to cudgel his consciousness, leaving in its wake death's night sweats.

When sleep came again, it came filled with tire black, and fiberglass fender blue, and sun-reflecting bumper chrome whose collision emitted a massive peony firework-like luminescence, to be replaced by blood's deep red, then bile's greenish-gray surging through his throat, his mouth, past his lips creating a tiny peony firework-like luminescence, replaced by bra and panties lavender, then skins tan dissected by a splash of geometric renderings—two ellipses held one to the other with a narrow line, a triangle with two thick lines falling one from each hip—of familiar, blemish-free flesh, then by hair chocolate brown, was replaced by arms and legs in synthetic uniform yellow, then by resignation gray, by sheet white, was replaced by a favorite dress hunter green, then by casket bronze, by flower spray, was replaced by freshly upturned earth dark brown.

If he woke a second time, it was always here. In each mutation—and there were many—of his newfound companion, his chest—its ribs—ached from her casket’s weight. In the black of her absence he could feel the weight pressing flat his lungs, air gushing out, he without the strength to breathe in its replacement. He felt tears, not from his eyeless sockets, but from the weight above, falling to his face. When he could no longer feel his fingers, legs, her tears on purple-blue skin, suffocation inevitable, the cruel tease ended. The nightmare’s final torment cast him away from her, back to the living.

And if sleep came a third time—which it did in the early morning hours of Monday, 16 October—it came with the fragrance of orchid shampoo, the scent of Chanel No. 5, the bouquet of freshly laundered sheets, smothered by the evermore distant fragrance of lovemaking, of hot water and body wash, then by the aroma of frying bacon, baking biscuits, and Saturday morning, smothered by the persistent stench of oxidized iron tasting copper on his sleeping tongue, by the morgue’s antiseptic, by the mortuary's rosewood, then by the limousine’s stale perfume of yesterday, smothered by the silent despair of manicured grass gouged and gashed, then by the petrichor of earth dampened more by grief than spring's rain fall.

It had been four years, one hundred forty-four days, fifteen hours, and fifty-six . . . fifty-seven . . . fifty-eight minutes since Olivia Foster’s death. Still, the nightmares were every one jailed in his mind, where they lived mercilessly in Denton Foster's fitful sleep.

Page One

chapter one

This . . . process . . . had become a large part of Denton Foster’s life, meeting an unknown woman in a place public, safe, and familiar. There was no better way to establish the requisite trust. He enjoyed arriving early. Enjoyed trying to pick out which of the passersby might become his companion. It had become something of a hobby, putting a face to a voice.

Stepping into the sunlight, he paused, then moved left, improving his sightline. An approaching woman won his attention, but for only a moment. She was too young, too uninterested in him, in the garden. He strolled to an old wooden bench centered in the stand of adolescent trees. When no other women appeared, Denton, best described as somewhere between average and attractive, sat, then brushed a hint of dust from polished loafers. Closing his eyes, he turned his face skyward and warmed in a pacific October sun.

Work of itinerant Hispanic groundskeepers preparing a garden for winter foliage belied the sensations of a spring-like afternoon in Austin. Cacophonous whistles of three middle-aged workers collided in the breeze as they expertly folded organic fertilizer—wafting the vague farmyard odor of alfalfa and cow manure—into heavy brown clay. The bed they prepared to be home to a menagerie of yellow red wing, orange blotch, pure violet, and fire pansies, totaling two hundred fifty, maybe more. Four younger men and a teenage boy directed the hum of gasoline mowers, trimming a dense carpet of deep-green fescue.

As full as this tapestry—with its colors, smells, flowers, passersby, workers, and October sun—the scene’s richness seemed somehow dependent on the solitary figure of Denton Foster. There was an atmosphere to this place, un-Texas-like, which seemed to define him: affluent, but not conspicuous; confident, but not arrogant. It was clear the garden was not his home. Clear, too, nothing there was more at home than was he. His favorite soft-soled Italian-made loafers were familiar visitors to splayed cobblestone arteries, the bridge at pond’s edge; a pasture of marble bovine; the beckoning serenity of manicured Arboretum lawns. Frequently, his purpose—one dividend of a life skillfully crafted—was simply an insouciant stroll.

Today’s visit was more.

At twenty-three minutes past one, a steel-blue Lexus eased around the corner and into view. It rolled past trees, workers, and the bench like a Rose Parade float, inching its way past the judge’s stand. Denton’s practiced sense knew this to be a reconnaissance pass. From the bench, he could tell only that the woman behind sunglasses was between thirty-five and forty-five, with blonde hair and uncertain intentions.

He would wait seven minutes more. If he passed her initial inspection, lunch would be filled with the excitement of expectation. If not, the silence of reflection would be his entrée. Either was acceptable to Denton Foster. He had grown comfortable with his life.

Page Two

She kept him waiting for slightly over four minutes. “Excuse me, are you—”

“Hi, you must be Laura.” Standing, he stepped and reached toward her, offering his hand. “Yes, I’m Denton!”

Laura stopped a full six feet from the bench. Tension’s familiar tentacles flared, first in her face, at the corner of pursed lips. Like her brown eyes, impossible to hide, her obvious beauty, impossible to arrest. It was that unease caused the immediate withdrawal of her extended right hand. This is crazy. What seemed plausible—no, brilliant—in the safety of her fantasy, now seemed foolhardy here, where flesh was to meet flesh. She cursed her naïveté; yet she did not turn, did not abandon the garden and its occupant. “How did you . . .? I mean, ahem, yes, I’m Laura,” — she hesitated, not sure if telling her last name was wise — “Markham.” Fouf, why’d I do that? “But how did you know?” Jeez, Laura. Way to make a first impression!

“Pastel blue, raw-silk suit” — a smile eased over a pleasant face — “black pumps, a strapless bag.” His words were list-like, a check after each identifying characteristic. “Add to that” — sincere green eyes darted in several directions — “no other five-foot, eight-inch blonde in the courtyard.” He pointed toward the street. “Then there’s—”

“Okay” — she blushed as nervous feet moved dance-like to a song only she could hear — “I get it, your point. I’m sorry; sorry if I seem cautious. It’s just that I don’t, um . . .” She sighed. “Meeting strangers in the Arboretum is not . . .” Nervous fingers removed sunglasses, then fumbled for the clasp on her bag as streaks of red colored her neck.

“Shall we?” He glanced in the restaurant’s direction. “Are you hungry?”

She liked he offered to shake her hand instead of attempting a clumsy hug or an awkward European cheek kiss. His manner was informal, but not slapdash. She liked the Brunello Cucinelli wool-blend blazer worn without a tie, covering a lightly starched white shirt falling easily against a flat, perhaps muscular, stomach. He had neither the hands, face, nor wardrobe of a laborer, but neither did he seem snobbish. She liked that.

“That’s a good thing,” he said.

“Good thing? Um . . . sorry. I’m afraid you’ve lost—”


“—me. Oh, that. Well, I don’t . . . um . . . know.”

“You needn’t apologize. I’m no expert, but careful seems smart. You’ve done nothing that needs an apology.”

Page Three

His voice surprised her; somehow comforting, reassuring. She smiled, recalling protestations to her steering wheel. “Shaggy hair!” she’d mumbled. Through dark glasses, tinted windows, and cedar elm, his hair had seemed too long, even unkempt. Standing before him, she could not imagine it otherwise, absent the discipline of a forced part, enjoying the freedom to find its own fall. She liked, he asked if she was hungry, even though she was there for lunch. Within seconds, she learned a lot about Denton Foster. She did not expect that. Being so favorably impressed by him.

“Sure. I’m not famished, but yeah” — clearing her throat, she glanced to the ground — “um, yes” — she blinked three times quickly — “that sounds good.”

“Great. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten here. What I remember isn’t bad, especially for corporate menus and boardroom recipes. I’m looking forward to it, actually.”

With nothing more than his hand moving toward a nearby building, the strangers left the bench for TGI Friday’s and lunch.

At the door, they both reached for its brass handle.

“Allow me.” Denton stood to one side and pulled open the heavy oak door.

“Thank you, guess I’m just used to—” She stopped what seemed a silly explanation. “Thanks.” Her smile returned. With a slight nod, she made her way into the restaurant's foyer. She liked he opened the door.

The restaurant’s host, an eager college student, greeted Laura in the way common to boorish men, but absent the savoir faire of his more experienced fellows. So distracted was he, the neural highway that connected his brain’s speech center to his tongue seemed blocked by the debris of her beauty. His version of the corporate welcome sounded more marble-mouthed Sanskrit than English.

“This way,” he said.

After fumbling the menus—kicking the one dropped under his podium—he moved toward the dining room. He rarely turned more than a quarter turn away from her. When he did, it was in quick spurts, resulting in more backing than leading. His feet scooted along the tile—replacing otherwise occupied eyes—in search of each safe step, barely avoiding a trip. Twice.

Page Four

All the while, Laura gathered her defenses against what felt like nothing less than an assault. So impertinent was his gawking. She’d grown accustomed to such behavior, but never quite able to keep it from defining her instead of the boor. On those occasions when the truly ill-mannered allowed what was in his eyes to slither to his tongue, she could have a physical reaction; her throat tighten and her lungs fail. She often required a doctor’s prescription to secure relief. Too, she felt further diminished to always be without the artifice to debase her attacker with equal vitriol. It was her mother first to chastise her “unnatural response to what’s hard-wired in boys.” Believing their behavior natural, while hers quite the opposite, compounded her discomfort. Hope lingered that things would change, but she mostly abandoned that when discovering maturity did nothing to filter the boy in most men.

Only as they approached the table did she realize Denton’s introduction contained none of the usual ogle and drool. She liked that her first impression was missing what she loathed.

“Nice view,” Laura said, mostly to herself as the host offered a chair.

“Yeah, thanks. We think so! Your waitress’ll be Juli. But if you need anything, just holler.” The young man pointed to his podium. His retreat retarded, unmanaged, even stalled as he seemed unwilling to abandon his wide-eyed leer.

“Ahem” — Denton inserted himself between his guest and her assailant — “we’re good here, but we do need Juli.”

There was a calm authority to his voice that seemed to intimidate the host; the swell in his chest deflated under its weight. A flush rushed down his face as he drifted from Denton’s intervention, Laura’s beauty, his intrusion on their lunch.

“Sorry about that. Kids! What’s this group called? Generation X? Whatever letter they’ve been assigned, they seem not to have been assigned manners.” He cast a disdainful glance over his shoulder at the increasing distance between generations, and overheard the host ordering the nearby wait staff to attend to table nineteen.

Page Five

She liked his chivalry, or was it empathy? Liked, too, that he seemed to have a sense of proportion absent what was common to other men. Liked that she seemed more important than how obvious was his defense of her honor, the rebuke of the ill-mannered host.

With what seemed remarkable ease—like something he might do with friends in his living room—Denton started their pre-meal conversation. While it consisted mostly of beautiful-city-bad-traffic kind of talk, she felt herself easing into a baggy t-shirt, fat pants, and well-worn-slip on flats kind-of-place. It was not something that happened easily for Laura. Not something she expected. She next felt tension drift from her face; the ache loosening its grip on her tightened shoulder muscles. Her mind wandered, wondering if perhaps she could make this happen. She was suddenly aware that the umbrella of silence opened over their table had been intruded upon, jolting her from daydreams.

“Me? I’m sorry. What?”

“Drink” — Juli’s second try for an order eased from brightly colored lips at an unhurried pace — “what’d y’all like to drink?”

Laura ordered iced tea with a slice of “lime, not lemon.” Denton chose a low-calorie cola. After a quick glance one to the other, the decision to reject an appetizer was unanimous. With smile fixed, Juli’s retreat was abrupt, soldier-like.

Laura’s attention drifted from the departing waitress to her date. Brown eyes tracked past the sparkle in green ones and out the window. She liked the idea of a meal without the smell of beer, conversation without alcohol-laden exaggerations.

For the next while, there was a quiet at the corner table as the couple gazed upon the pastel autumn of Austin’s afternoon. It wasn’t the uneasy kind that so often smothered first dates; one that demanded inane back-and-forth, chit-to-chat from strangers unwilling to surrender to silence’s grace. She felt oddly contented. Somehow, being there felt safe, even familiar.

“So” — Denton interrupted the quiet — "I’d like to know something about Laura. Is there anything you feel comfortable disclosing?"

The question caused her to jerk back to green eyes bright with anticipation. This wasn’t the order of things. Men do the telling; telling about them, their successes, conquests, achievements. Why would he ask first about me? Adrenalin surged. Causing muscles again to tighten. She felt a flush grow in her chest, headed toward her neck, where it morphed into the inevitable red streaks—the genesis of relentless teasing she’d endured since grade school.

“God, where do I start? I—”

“The beginning?” His response hurried, his smile lingered. “How is it you come to be here? I know you answered my ad, but why?” He moved in his chair. “If that’s not too personal.” Lifting the dark-green napkin from his lap, he wiped something unseen from his lips, uncovering a comfortable smile.

“How can lips be so . . .? “

Page Six

After a pause, she said, “Actually, it’s . . . this, I mean, i-i-it’s my husband’s idea; answering personals in the Chronicle.” Laura paused again, unsure how much information was too much. “Our intimate lives have lost that Cosmo flair.” Fouf! Is that too much? He probably doesn’t read Cosmo. “He assumes all blame. So this” — her chin pushed forward, her head moving side-to-side above the table — “is his way of fixing things, making up for—” She stopped. With eyes now fixed towards the host’s podium, she paused long enough for fingers to find the table’s edge. Her grip white-knuckled. “He thinks . . . I should find a surrogate.” Motionless brown eyes stared safely away from Denton. Unlike white knuckles, her voice betrayed no animosity, no embarrassment.

“And you? Why’d you place the ad?” Eyelids closed slowly, then opened. Her gaze returned to Denton, relieved to detect no obvious judgment on his face, in his eyes.

Strangers at the corner table exchanged seductive smiles. The conversation waltzed into its second movement.

Mine is a tale—I use that word advisedly—which can be off-putting to some. But risk its telling because I prefer transparency. Truth with a wee-e e” — his thumb and index finger held above the table, spaced about a half inch apart — “caveat.”

Eyebrows lifted as her chin pushed outward and up slightly, her permission nudging Denton ahead.

“Even if you find my story offensive, you’ll stay for lunch. I hate ordering for two, to end up eating alone. If nothing else, we can debate the intellectual disingenuousness of Ross Perot’s Reform Party polemic.” His smile was big, deliberate.

Laura tacitly accepted while being certain Denton Foster ate alone, at his choosing only.

Juli returned with drinks. A half-step back, a quick nod to Denton signaled she was ready for their order. Some scratches on a notepad and a corporate smile confirmed she’d understood.

In the momentary quiet that trailed Juli’s departure, something like a child’s waxing anticipation of life after the pig farm, beyond horizon’s bend—where decent people and life-changing experiences lived—tugged at Laura. She was accustomed to confident men, even the occasional charming one, but this guy seemed more than that. Perhaps he was someone who could actually change her life. As she imagined possibilities, a familiar voice crept into the back of her head. Not everyone sees with the same eyes. Anyways, it ain’t pretty what gets the worm. Being pretty ain’t being better. A quick rightward tick of her head washed her father’s dogma from a cluttered mind.

Page Seven

Laura and Denton were less than twenty minutes removed from being complete strangers, yet she felt a sense of something missing from all her planning, preparation, and trepidation. This had all been an untested hypothesis, a game of make-believe, like the outline of a story she might have written for creative writing class at Wellesley. She had only imagined, never allowed herself to believe, meeting someone who . . . Suddenly, she felt flush with excitement. Thoughts collided. Perhaps this can work! This guy is someone Winston might even like. And if he does, I’ll somehow make all the rest work.

“So this truth of yours,” she said, returning her attention to Denton. “Is there a Reader’s Digest version? At some point, I need to return home. I have a family to feed and all the rest.” She grinned as her left index finger rimmed the top of her tea glass. “Not to mention Monday Night Football. I don’t dare interrupt important stuff with things required merely to sustain life.” She blinked three times quickly as she heard her words. But from where had they come? Who was really speaking them? Not the Laura she knew. How could twenty minutes in TGI Friday’s transform her into someone joking with a stranger?

“Beauty and a sense of humor.” His face filled with smile. He looked through the window into the garden’s serenity.

She took a drink of iced tea, hoping that might help turn back a fresh round of blushing.

“Ahem, where . . . to start? The beginning will make the most sense. So” — he moved slightly in his chair, took a quick sip of diet cola — “I’ve these friends,” he said, his voice noticeably hushed. “They’re concerned about my social life. In a word, this is a bet. I’m here on a bet.”

A bet? She couldn’t hide her surprise. Or was it contempt? Her adrenaline surged, fueled by shock at the apparent unmasking of boyhood hard-wiring. Obviously, fortune was so turned against her that being traded for Winston’s demons was not adequate retribution for her karmic betrayal—never mind she’d no idea what egregious behavior needed balancing—she need also suffer the indignity of a gambler’s prize.

As she steeled the nerve to breach her promise to stay, Denton assured her the bet was not some sophomoric exercise in crassness, not some awful stunt to reinforce male bonding. It was instead completely unrelated to hard-wiring, although he didn’t use the term.

As his explanation stretched, her contempt withered. She twisted slightly in her chair, squared her shoulders, and inhaled with purposely exaggerated exasperation. Denton further softened his revelation with assurance that if she would suffer his story, it would be clear the bet was more silly than serious, more about his story than any they might make. Each of his movements, the up and down of lips, blink of eyes, tilt of head, motion of hand, silence in his pause, elixir of his voice, seemed all to cloak her, their table, them, in an unexpected wave of believability, of safety.

Page Eight

So untroubled was she, only a tattooed arm moving through Laura’s vision field focused her awareness. With plates positioned and Juli’s departure, the story of Denton Foster’s recent life joined strangers at the corner table.

“To understand the bet, I have to burden you with some background.” She sprinkled garden salad and chicken strips with balsamic vinaigrette while he cut the burger in half and sliced rind from the cantaloupe’s meat. “So if this seems disjointed, just stay with me. It’ll all be clear in the end. That is” — he offered a devilish wink — “as clear as I can make it.”

There was a quick exchange of polite smiles. Pretty girls get pretty lies. After all these years, Harold’s bits of folk wisdom seemed inexorably to yoke Laura’s consciousness. While experience’s scale tilted heavily toward that truth, she suddenly wanted to open her mind, wanted her father’s admonition to be misplaced, at least for today, for here, for this man.

Denton’s tale began with his marriage to the perfect bride. Their life, the envy of all their friends. There was only the slightest pause in his narrative, but she noticed an unmistakable flash in his eyes. She had no way of knowing for sure, but Laura sensed that for an instant he was there, in that place from his past, that island of perfection.

He recounted a conversation between his wife, Olivia, and her dearest friend. They’d compared intimate details of their marriages. Rebecca’s secret was a husband lacking the skill, or interest, to pleasure her. That caused her to question the fundamentals of their union. To restore her friend’s confidence, the uncommonly liberal Mrs. Foster gifted Rebecca a carnal evening with Mr. Foster.

The narrative paused, perhaps for some retort, perhaps to relive that night’s events. Laura spoke only with the salad fork, impaling a spear of lightly browned breast meat.

“About five months after that, Olivia died from injuries suffered in an automobile accident.” His account was factual, emotionless; a story of loss told by a journalist, not a grieving spouse. Still, there was an unmistakable reverence in the silence between his words.

What tenseness she felt earlier gave way to an inexplicable calm as Laura entered Denton’s private life.

“A couple months after the funeral, Rebecca called. We spent the night together. What an odd night that was.” Denton’s expression furtive, he looked past Laura, through the window to a place that was almost certainly sacred. “There was only slightly more sex than talk about, and tears for, Olivia.”

Laura busied herself pushing lettuce around her plate as looking at him felt oddly intrusive.

Page Nine

The story continued with the disclosure that shortly thereafter Rebecca gifted Denton with a first edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The box contained a note telling him she meant no offense and confessed she was fulfilling Olivia’s planned Christmas gift.

“So was she paying? I mean, was the book compensation for—?” She stopped flush again, suddenly surprised by the shift from listener to inquisitor and the boldness of her inquiry.

He raised his hand, palm forward, a crossing guard directing the order of things. “You’re getting ahead of the story. I insist you not steal the drama.” Denton smiled wryly, then took a bite of burger followed by a gulp of diet cola.

She liked he didn’t talk while eating; liked that she need not turn away from ill manners, partially masticated food. As she cut chicken strips, she didn’t like that tranquil waves of moments earlier were dissipating like fog to a warming morning.

“It may be hard for you to believe,” he said, “but at the time, I missed the implication. I blame the reference to Christmas, but that’s only so I don’t appear really stupid.”

Apparently unaware of her growing unease, or perhaps because of it, Denton leaned forward in almost a caricature, rubbing fingers against his chin as if that would somehow trigger memories, or make her more at ease.

The next chapter began.

“Months later, after what were now infrequent, but regular visits with and gifts from Rebecca, she phoned on behalf of a friend in town for business, in need of a date. He was to pick her up at The Four Seasons Hotel. Expecting a causal evening of dinner, perhaps a movie, those plans took an abrupt turn when she answered the door dressed in a smile, a diamond necklace, and a pierced navel.

“As I’m about to leave, Janice pushed a fold of bills into my hand. She said something like, ‘Rebecca didn’t tell me how much. I hope this is appropriate. Oh, and by the way, she was right. Tell her I said thanks!’ It’s only then this naïve small-town Midwesterner figured out what ‘needs a date’ actually meant. I confess being genuinely flummoxed about what next to do. Do I risk embarrassing Janice and make Rebecca out to be a liar, or do I say nothing and simply take the cash?” A twinkle came to Denton’s eye, new to the conversation.

“So . . . you, you took it? The money?”

“Yep, and have never looked back.” His speech quickened. “In the beginning, I got a call a week. For five or six months, that was the general pattern, some more, some less. Then, I don’t know what happened, except seemingly overnight traffic went to two calls a day. About a year ago, things

Page Ten

changed” — the story’s pace returned to normal — “now a little more than a third of my clients are business travelers. The balance I call Ceux Exclusifs. Mostly, I’m available whenever they ask. The upshot is I no longer practice law.”

Denton paused, Laura assumed for questions, but she was content in the role of listener and asked nothing.

“So,” he said, “that brings us to the bet.”

She blinked three times quickly; her smile only at the edge of hesitant lips; her tongue washed over upper teeth; her acquiescence a cautious nod.

“Over time, I told a friend about the direction my practice had taken, then another. Old law school buddies. I think we probably all do that after a few drinks, share too much, even with friends.” His smile was a mixture of knowing and embarrassment. “Surely you know what that’s like.”

Laura nodded, but couldn’t remember the last time she’d spoken to any of the Wellesley gang and suddenly envied his relationship with law school buddies.

“After a while, my three closest—only, really—friends came to know how I was paying the bills. For the longest, they’ve been after me to get back to dating. I mean, you know, like dating dating. Find someone special. I’m not sure why. I’m guessing they think I need a more normal, less risky lifestyle.”

Her nod was again cautious, an effort to convey guarded understanding.

“Susie thinks I do what I do because I’m still in love with Olivia. Tom and Steven say they think it’s time I settle down. At least, that’s what they say to my face. My standard defense is how difficult it is for me to meet that kind of woman.”

For some while Laura’s eyes had been busy with anything to avoid direct contact with Denton or, more to the point, with his story. The why of that was unclear, but too much interest might seem tawdry, leering, almost approving. Wouldn’t it? Now they flashed. She was aware, but unable to stop either her eyes or her words.

“That kind of woman?” The question ricocheted off the table into the dining room. The smell of chicken breast, balsamic vinaigrette, cantaloupe, and medium-rare beef was instantly replaced with the scent of contempt—or was it anger?

“What I mean is” — Denton stopped short, then moved in his chair — “a woman looking for a normal, long-term thing; emotional, serious, committed, all the stuff of regular relationships. I didn’t mean it as derogatory or misogynistic.”

. . .


The material on this page is the original work of Bruce L. Farrow-Smith and is protected by U.S. Copyright Law. If you have any questions regarding its copyright status contact the owner using the information Here.

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