The other Woman<br/>

Author: Abigail Van Alyn
Publisher: ShadowWorks Press
Published: 2016-07-29
ISBN(s) 9780692734797
Language(s): English
Category: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Genre(s): Mystery, Literary, Suspense Read Excerpt >

Robert Buchanan, MD, PhD, leaned against Peet's counter waiting to be served. A storm was brewing outside and Berkeley’s signature coffee house was packed with customers usually found lounging on the café’s sidewalk benches—students with massive backpacks, professors engrossed in their laptops, retired radicals sipping by day and haunting political meetings by night. But the Doctor didn’t mind the wait. His time was his own, he’d damn well earned it, and his lively mind never lacked for occupation. In his fist he clutched a New York Times and a buttery white sack holding two croissants from the bakery next door. He was torn between the Times headlines—more idiocy in Syria—and a large picture window. He could see himself in it, head to toe, looking in from the foggy street. Not to be caught looking, he invented a clever device. Like the old days on the MTA, with his briefcase on his lap and his Globe quarter-folded and balanced beside his coffee cup, he rested the Times on the counter and seemed to be reading while he studied himself in the glass.

What he saw made him smile with secret satisfaction. To anyone looking on, here was a handsome graying professor, lean and fit, a bit shaggy and conservatively stylish in cords and tweed complete with elbow patches. Even the shank of a thoughtfully chewed pipe stuck out of his breast pocket. As usual, several women in the little café were looking on as he pretended to engage the events of the world. And, as usual, he rejected them with a slight curl of his lip. He didn’t dress for them. No, his pleasure came from the trickery of it, from his disguise, as complete as any Hollywood vampire's. Vampire?—he had the professional habit of challenging himself—why that? Well, it was everywhere, wasn’t it, the culture’s response to its own helplessness. The lust of the prey for the predator. But more aptly, he imagined, he was like a satyr, by Picasso, a satirical genius who understood as only Picasso and a few others had—Reich, for instance—the primal truth about sex, the drives, the instincts and their absolute hold on human beings. He understood it and he’d lived it and he’d helped others to live it. It was the source of his success and all his trouble. Oh yes, he understood it very well, sometimes even found a language for it. Words were essential to the inevitable mind games. But only instinct and sensation could be trusted. The sensation now for instance of stirring and rising as he looked at himself in the glass—Gentleman Reading the Times. Or, he revised, sobering up, Gentleman with Buttery Sack. The croissants were spoiling the effect, so he slid them under the counter top.

“Dr. Buchanan?” Two bright green eyes, then a little heart-shaped face with freckled nose and dimpled chin popped up beside the Times. “Same old?”

The counter girl, whatever her name was. Betty Boop.

“You always remember,” he purred, tucking the paper away under his arm. “Aleppo. Terrible situation.”

“Way scary.” She sighed sympathetically. “Double Cap!!” She shouted his order down the line and took his money. “Sorry to interrupt.”

“No, no. I'd rather be here with you anytime,” he said, offering a satyr’s smile. “If you can’t make a difference don’t worry about it.”

She leaned over the counter, presenting herself to him in her deliciously unconscious way. Pert, that was the word. And every morning with every move she told him, I have gorgeous breasts under this little T-shirt.

“Think globally, act locally,” she purred.

“So right,” he murmured back. He leaned in, not quite touching her. She pressed his change into his hand and turned away laughing.

“One of these days I'll take you up on that,” he called. She laughed again, dismissing him as she did every morning.

All right then, another day. He went out into the fog full of hunger and desire, those powers so keenly crafted, his gifts to those who were cut off from their own. He crossed the avenue, dodging traffic with athletic quickness, walked up a block and turned into a quiet street lined with old gnarled sycamores and oaks. As he walked he forced himself to focus on the patients ahead.

Wednesday. That meant starting with Anna Sheffield. Anna the Artistocrat. So deeply, passively, defiantly resistant. Anna the Mouse. For two years she’s been saying she wanted to break through but refused to do it. Last week he’d told Craig Helsen, the colleague with whom he exchanged a monthly peer review, that she was the challenge every psychiatrist hopes for, the one for whom all the study was done, all the risks taken, all the sacrifices made. Because her life mattered. She had something to offer the world, and, unlike some he'd treated, she hadn’t asked for or deserved what had happened to her.

He reached the two-story Colonial house where he practiced in partnership with Craig and two other therapists. His silver Mercedes, parked earlier in the driveway, lent an air of prestige to the otherwise unremarkable neighborhood. It had all been carefully planned. The home’s plain white front, with its covered porch and columns and its tasteful dark green shutters and stairs, reminded him of Cambridge, of Princeton, the places of his early triumphs, and he’d wanted their comfort. And their cover. Only last year he’d finally felt safe enough to add the handsome car. It gave him comfort now to see it resting there.

The other Woman   by   Abigail Van Alyn   |   See Bio >
An exotic dancer and a prominent sculptor have one thing in common: dark suspicions about their therapist, Robert Buchanan. Who is the other woman? It's a triangle with a twist.

When a young woman bursts into her session with psychiatrist Robert Buchanan, Anna Sheffield is mystified.

Wild and wily, Michele Palmer might well need a therapist’s help, but the rage with which she confronts Robert hardly suggests a professional relationship. As Anna soon learns, Michele has good reason. Despite his pedigree, Robert has wronged her, badly. Now it’s payback time.

Anna is an artist, used to seeing things others miss. She sees the potential hidden inside stone and clay. But Michele’s heat is blinding. Is Robert’s reputation really a sham? Is he Michele’s target, or is Anna? And could Michele be both avenging fury and a guide to Anna’s recovery?

Drawn into Michele’s fierce vendetta, Anna will need all her wit and courage in searching for the truth, a search that will take her across the continent and deep into Robert’s past before her journey reaches its shocking conclusion. 

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