Rough Weather - By Robert B. Parker
For Joan: the fact is the sweetest dream of all.
If I rolled my chair back into the window bay behind my desk, I could look up past the office buildings and see the sky. It wasn’t exactly overcast. It was kind of grayish, with the sun pushing weakly through the thin clouds. Below on Berkeley Street the young women from the insurance companies were starting to show fall fashions. I took some time to evaluate them, and concluded that fashionable dress was heavily dependent on who was wearing it. I looked at the calendar. September 13. Technically it was still baseball season, but the Sox had dropped out of contention at the beginning of August, leaving me with nothing else to think about but sex . . . which was, I thought, considerably better than the other way around.
I was thinking about sex when there was a delicate knock on my door. Immediately after the knock, the door opened and a woman came in for whom I was in the perfect frame of mind. She was a symphony of thick auburn hair, even features, wide mouth, big eyes, stunning figure, elegant clothes, expensive perfume, and what people who talked that way would call breeding. She came to my desk and put her hand out as I got to my feet.
“Hi,” she said. “I’m Heidi.”
I said, “I recognize you, Ms. Bradshaw.”
She had a firm handshake, as if she had practiced.
“And you are Mr. Spenser,” she said.
“Was it the name on the door, gave me away?” I said.
She nodded happily. And sat down in front of my desk and crossed her legs. Wow!
“I rather expected that it would,” she said. “And you certainly look right for the part.”
“Valiant?” I said.
“Valiant,” she said. “And quite large.”
“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” I said.
She looked at me for a moment and then said, “Really?”
I was too valiant to blush.
“In a manner of speaking,” I said.
“I would like to hire you,” she said.
“I was hoping,” I said.
She smiled again and let the smile linger. Baseball traveled even further from my mind.
“I am a strong woman,” she said. “Self-possessed, wealthy. I am also divorced, from someone who richly deserves it, and find myself occasionally insecure without a man.”
“Anyone might,” I said.
“Not necessarily,” she said. “And I am working with my therapist to resolve that issue. In the meanwhile, I will indulge my insecurity if I must. I have a home on Tashtego Island. Do you know it?”
“The island, yes. The home, no.”
“Aren’t you precise,” she said. “The home, too, is called Tashtego. My husband was a great fan of Moby-Dick. I am having an event there in late October, which will be attended by some of the most important and glamorous people in the world.”
“And naturally, you want me to be one of them,” I said.
She smiled that smile again. It was obvious that she knew what she could do with that smile.
“In a way,” she said. “I would like to employ you as a kind of balance to my insecurity.”
“An insecurity guard?”
“Exactly,” she said. “I want you to be the man I can turn to if I need something.”
“Will you want me to provide security in the more conventional sense as well?”
“No. The island has its own security patrol. You are there to support me.”
“Unless your therapy kicks in before October,” I said.
“Unless that,” she said. “Or a whirlwind romance.”
“May I bring a guest?”
“What kind of a guest?” she said.
“A stunning Jewess, with a Ph.D. from Harvard.”
“Not exactly,” I said.
“Sort of,” I said. “Think of her as The One.”
“Why do you want to bring her?”
“I miss her when I’m not with her,” I said. “And it’ll make me feel less like a gigolo.”
She laughed out loud.
“You’re so cute,” she said. “Of course, bring The One.”
“Would you like to talk costs?” I said.
She took a green leather checkbook out of her purse.
“Not very much,” she said. “May I pay you a large retainer?”
“Good start,” I said.
I was having dinner with The One at a new place called Sorellina.
“You know, of course, who Heidi Bradshaw is,” Susan said.
“Besides that,” Susan said.
“She’s famous,” I said.
“Do you know for what?”
“Besides being my client?” I said.
“Besides that,” Susan said.
“I guess she’s famous for being famous,” I said.
The room was large and not loud. The tables were well spaced. There were windows where you could look out at Copley Square. The service was good. I was paying with a small part of Heidi Bradshaw’s swell advance. . . . And I