Excerpt from “Arms of an Angel”:
“Dr. O’Bryan!” The excited female voice cut him off.
“Victoria. How nice to see you. You look well. How are things going?” He stood and clasped hands with the young woman around Claire’s age. She leaned in forcing him to kiss her cheek to avoid an obvious snub.
Claire rolled her eyes. He shrugged, though slight enough that only Claire detected it.
“I’m splendid, Dr. Dreadfully splendid. You know how it is for me.” She made a roller coaster wave motion with her hand indicating life’s ups and downs. “I probably shouldn’t have stopped seeing you,” she spoke in a quiet, conspiratorial tone. She put her hand to her mouth as though she had an intimate secret then glanced for the first time at Claire.
“Hello, Tori.” Claire’s voice was cool.
After a momentary loss of composure the other woman regained herself. “Claire. Darling. What a surprise. I had no idea you knew Dr. O’Bryan.”
“A mutual shock,” Claire glanced at Garrett who was assessing the situation with an air of surprise himself. She bit her lip to keep from laughing so that she might maintain her position of toying with poor Tori. How transparent Garrett was to her. It was as if she could see perfectly the thoughts inside his head. He was wondering whether he should step in to diffuse any biting and clawing that might accompany the hissing and raised backs. He waited.
“So, I never realized you did lunch appointments, Dr. Is that something new? What a novel idea.” Tori tried to cover her disappointment.
“Actually, Tori, darling, I’m not a patient. I’m a date.”
Garrett closed his eyes as the words were spoken by his beautiful companion who had just been handed the perfect opening for a wounding bite.
Tori was stunned, her jaw slack with disdain as she looked from Claire to Garrett and back again.
Claire smiled ever so very sweetly, then commenced to eating her salad again.
“You… are… a … a work of art, Claire Orion. You just have your finger in everybody’s pie,” Tori fumed. “And you!” She turned to Garrett. “I’d have thought you smart enough to know better.” She turned, nearly tripping in her too-high heels and marched from the restaurant.
Claire continued to eat her salad without so much as an ounce of remorse. “What?” She scrunched her shoulders. Garrett had not stopped staring at her since Tori left.
“You do realize you managed to undo months of therapy in a matter of minutes, don’t you?” he asked her.
“Oh fooey! Tori Johansen doesn’t need therapy. She’s nothing’ but a spoiled, rotten bi… bi, ba, be, buh, buh bazillionaire heiress,” she fished for a replacement word at his look of reproach. “What she really needs is turned over someone’s knee and delivered a good, hard swat!” She forcefully placed her fork down on her plate, pushed back slightly from the table and crossed her arms over her chest.
Garrett shook his head, trying hard not to laugh. “Opinions aren’t allowed in the world of psychology, you know.” He smiled and she softened up a bit. “I do have to ask because I’m dying of curiosity. You were the other woman in the boyfriend incident, weren’t you?”
“You’re not supposed to discuss cases. Patient/doctor privilege or something,” she dodged.
Claire rolled her eyes. “I did her a favor with that one. He was no good,” she glanced away and continued under her breath, “in more ways than one.”
Garrett laughed. “You really are a work of art,” he told her.
“I like art. You?” she teased as their meal continued with a light air.
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