John D MacDonald – Barrier Island

“Maybe I’ll keep the appointment.”

“Maybe that isn’t real smart, lover.”

“Wade has been sneaking around behind my back trying to screw up my relationship with Tuck.”

“I know. I think it’s rotten. After all you’ve done for him. You bring in most of the business. He acts half asleep most of the time. I can’t understand how come the other people think he’s so great.”

“This sounds like some more conspiracy against me and Tuck. My God, they go to court this Thursday. Maybe if I go, I can keep something else from going wrong.”

“Wade will find out.”


“I think it would make him pretty sore, you keeping one of his appointments, honey. If you can find out where it is.”

“Not as sore as he made me. I nearly broke my hand on his thick skull. I still can hardly move this thumb.”

“Well, you do what you think is best.”

“I wonder who will be at Feeney’s place.”

“But where is it?”

“That’s Ezra Feeney, dear. One of the four names you erased off the computer list. There was a home address.”


“I’ve got the address at the office. I’ll scout it out early.”


“Yes, sweet girl?”

“Have you given it any thought, I mean about when you’re going to tell Nita about us?”

“Yes, I have given it some thought.”


“I keep worrying about Lois. It creates a lot of emotional trauma for a kid when the parents split up. What I want to do is lessen the impact on her. You understand?”

“It’s not like she’s some little kid! She’s seventeen, Bern.”

“And she’ll be eighteen in December, yes. But she’s not one of those brash kids. She’s not tough. She’d really be very vulnerable to anything like this. She’s very close to both of us.7

“Is it doing her any good to be in a house where there’s no love and laughter?”

“You’ve got a point. But look at it this way. Next September she’ll be going off to school. There’ll be a lot of new impressions flooding in on her. A lot of things to keep her mind busy. In a sense she’ll really be leaving home.”

“Next September!”

“That isn’t so far away. It’s just one year, honey.”

She pushed herself away from him, rolled, swung her legs off the bed and got up. She walked to the window, held the draperies open a few inches and looked out at Bern’s car and at the mound of trash under the trees beyond the parking area. She spun and glared at him.

“A whole year!”

“You’ll be surprised how fast it will go by, Dawn. Look, we’ll be together every working day. And we can be together like this whenever we have a chance. You’re so beautiful, darling. I don’t know what I ever did to deserve having you.”

“A whole year!”

“Wait a minute! I thought we were talking about the rest of our lives together. Do you want us to start off on a sour note?”

“Of course not, but…”

“I might be depressed for a long time if out of pure selfishness we screwed up my little daughter’s life.”

“Eighteen in December! For God’s sake, I’m only twenty-three!”

“It would be a terrible shock for her right now.”

“You know what, Bern? If I’m going to have to wait a whole year, so are you.” She came back and sat on the edge of the bed.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Absolutely no more ass at all until we get married. And I mean it. You have just had the very last piece.”

He hiked himself up onto his elbows and stared at her. Her lips were tightly compressed. He saw precisely how she had painted him into a corner, and admired the skill of that particular ploy. If he objected, then all the other reasoning was hollow.

“I think that would be a very good idea, Dawn. I know how tough it is going to be, seeing each other every day in the office and wanting each other all the time. It will be a test of character. But I agree one hundred percent. After all, we don’t want to cheapen our relationship, do we?”

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