Barefoot Blunder (Jaynes Nature)

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Nevertheless, for the most part, he took satisfaction in exercising his razor-sharp intelligence. He knew that he was much better at thinking than he was at handling relationships. Thus far he had moved slowly and carefully toward his goal of beginning an affair with Molly. He would not become involved with another woman in a desperate attempt to seek an answer to the dark questions about himself that he could not, would not put into words. He would settle for sex and companionship this time. Ginny Rondell, a plump, pleasant-faced woman in her late forties, hovered on the other side of the long granite counter that separated the kitchen from the living room of the high-rise condominium.

The tea is ready, Dr. Are you sure you don't want me to serve it? Harry waited with an unfamiliar sense of gathering impatience as Ginny opened a closet door and removed her purse. He waited while she put on her sweater. At last she let herself out through the front door. An acute silence fell on the condominium. Alone at last, Harry thought, wryly amused at his own eagerness.

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He hadn't felt this way in a long, long time. He could not even recall the last occasion.

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It had no doubt occurred at some point in his youth. He was thirty-six, but he had been feeling very ancient for the past eight years. Molly nodded. There was an expectant look in her wide, sea green eyes. Harry hoped the expression boded well for his plans for the evening. He had turned off both phones for the night, an unheard-of course of action. Ginny had been astounded. True, he generally switched off the business line in the evenings or when he was engaged in intensive study, but he never threw the switch on the family line when he was at home.

He was always available to both sides of his feuding clans. Harry got to his feet and walked to the granite counter. He picked up the tray containing the pot of tea and two cups. He had ordered the very expensive Darjeeling after having made it his business to discover Molly's personal preference. No sugar. No milk. Harry was good with details. Covertly, he studied Molly as he carried the tea tray to the glass table in front of the sofa. There was definitely an undercurrent of excitement stirring in her. He could almost feel it lapping at him in tiny waves.

His own anticipation surged. Molly sat somewhat primly on the sofa, her attention caught by the lights of the Pike Place Market down below and the dark expanse of Elliott Bay. It was summer in the Northwest, and the days seemed to last forever. But it was after ten o'clock, and night had finally arrived. Along with it had come Harry's opportunity to begin an affair with his client. This was not the first time Molly had seen the sights from Harry's twenty-fifth-floor downtown condo. He worked out of his home, and Molly had come here often enough on business during the past month. But this was the first time she had ever seen the sights at night.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw her smile. He took that to be another good sign. Molly had a very expressive face. Harry could have watched her for hours. The angle of her brows reminded him of a bird on the wing. The image was a good metaphor for Molly. A man who wanted to catch her would have to be very fast and very smart. Harry told himself that he was both.

Tonight Molly was dressed in a businesslike, moss green pantsuit complete with a one-button jacket and softly pleated trousers. She wore a pair of demure, suede pumps. Harry had never before paid much attention to women's feet, but he found himself captivated by Molly's. They were perfectly arched with delicate ankles. All in all, a marvel of engineering design, he thought. The rest of Molly was well designed, too. Having given the matter a great deal of close consideration in recent days, Harry had finally concluded that Molly was slender, but definitely not skinny.

She practically radiated health and vitality. He was extremely healthy, himself. He had the reflexes of a cat, and he actually felt turbocharged when Molly was in the vicinity.

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There was an appealing roundness to certain portions of Molly's anatomy. The jacket of the pantsuit skimmed over high breasts that Harry knew would fit nicely into his hand. The pleats of the trousers flared to encompass full, womanly hips. Although he found her figure eminently interesting, it was Molly's vibrant face that commanded Harry's most serious attention.

She was spectacular, he thought with satisfaction. Not spectacularly beautiful, just spectacular. She was unique. Intelligence shimmered in her green eyes. Harry acknowledged that he was a sucker for brains in a woman. There was strength and fortitude and character in the delicate yet determined lines of her nose and high cheekbones.

Her honey brown hair had a mind of its own. It exploded around her head in a short, thick, frothy mass. The style emphasized the tilt of her fey eyes. It occurred to Harry that with those eyes, Molly could have made her living as a carnival fortune-teller. It would have been a simple matter for her to convince any likely mark that she could see straight into his past, present, and future.

The realization sparked a flash of renewed caution in Harry. The last thing he needed was a woman who could see deeply into his soul. That way lay madness. For the space of perhaps three heartbeats he seriously questioned the wisdom of getting involved with a woman whose gaze held such a disconcerting degree of perception. He did not do well with women who were inclined to probe his psyche.

On the other hand, he had no patience with bimbos. For a few seconds Harry let his future hang in the balance as he contemplated his next move. Molly gave him a questioning smile, revealing two slightly crooked front teeth.

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There was something endearing about those two teeth, Harry thought. He took a deep breath and consigned his qualms to hell with a breathtaking recklessness that should have alarmed him. It would be okay this time, he told himself. Molly was a businesswoman, not a psychologist. She would take, a rational, levelheaded approach to what he was about to offer. She would not be inclined to dissect him or try to analyze him. Her eyes glowed.

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No, I don't mind. I just hadn't realized that we were on the same wavelength here. If I've learned one thing about you during the past few weeks, it's that you give everything a great deal of thought. So you finally concluded that Duncan Brockway's grant proposal is worth funding. About time. I just knew it. It's so original. So intriguing. And the potential is absolutely unlimited. I wanted to talk about another matter. Yes, I did. It's no good. We can go into the details later, if you like. But right now I want to discuss something more important.

After telling, me that you're not going to approve Duncan's proposal? However, it seems to be falling apart. Now, about our relationship -- " "Our relationship? It's a complete, unmitigated disaster. But it's ending here. I refuse to continue to pay for your services as a consultant, Harry Trevelyan. Thus far, I have not received one damn thing for my money.

He was, after all, a leading authority in his field. Look, Molly, I'm trying to discuss something else entirely here. Well, it's over, Dr. This was your last chance. You're fired. This was not going according to plan. He had made his decision regarding Molly with great care and consideration. True, he had wanted her from the start, but he had not allowed himself to be swept away by physical desire.

He had worked from a very basic premise. Following the demise of his engagement over a year ago, he had given his future sex life a great deal of serious contemplation. He had concluded that he knew exactly what he needed in a woman. He wanted a relationship with someone who had a lot of interests of her own, someone who would not require constant attention from him. He required a woman who would not take mortal offense when he was consumed with his research. A woman who would not care if he locked himself in his office to work on a book or an investigation.

A woman who could tolerate the demands of his personal life. Most of all he wanted an affair with a woman who would not question his moods or suggest that he get therapy for them. Molly Abberwick had appeared to fit the bill. She was twenty-nine years old, a competent, successful entrepreneur.

From what Harry could determine, she had virtually raised her younger sister single-handedly after her mother's death several years earlier. Her father had been a genius, but as was usually the case with the obsessively creative type, he had devoted his time to his inventions, not his children. From what Harry could discern, Molly was no fragile flower, but a strong, sturdy plant that could weather the worst storms, perhaps even those that occasionally howled across his own melancholy soul. In addition to running her shop, she was the sole trustee of the Abberwick Foundation, a charitable trust established by her father, the late Jasper Abberwick.

Jasper's inventions were the real source of the wealth in the Abberwick family. It was the business of the trust that had brought Molly to Harry a month ago. Nothing is getting done. More positive. More excited about the various grant proposals. No offense, but waiting for you to approve one is like watching trees grow. I take a deliberate approach to my work.

I thought you understood that. That's why you hired me in the first place. Molly's whole body vibrated with outrage. The volatile emotion should have worried him, but it only seemed to add yet another intriguing dimension to her riveting face. Harry frowned at the thought. He could not recall the last time he had been riveted by a woman.

Rivet was a word he generally reserved for other areas of interest. A discussion of Leibniz's claim to the invention of the calculus was riveting. Charles Babbage's design for an analytical engine was riveting. The ramifications of Boole's work in symbolic logic were riveting. Tonight Harry knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Molly Abberwick had to be added to the list of things that could rivet him. The knowledge made him deeply uneasy even as it fed his hunger for her. I only did what you pay me to do, Molly.

Then you're overcharging me. You're overreacting. She whirled around and started back toward the opposite wall. If you want to call that overreacting, fine. But it doesn't change anything. This relationship of ours is not working out at all the way that I thought it would.

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What a disappointment. What a waste of time. From out of nowhere, Harry felt the dark, brooding sensation descend on him. He should have been thanking his lucky stars for a narrow escape, he thought. A relationship with Molly would never have worked. But instead of a sense of relief, he knew a hint of despair. He recalled the day Molly had walked into his office-study for the first time.

She had announced that she wished to hire him as a consultant for the Abberwick Foundation. The trust had been established by her father to make grants to promising inventors who could not get funding for their work. Jasper Abberwick had known the problems such people faced all too well.

He and his brother, Julius, had labored under financial difficulties for most of their careers. Their cash flow problems had not been resolved until four years ago, when Jasper had succeeded in patenting a new generation of industrial robots. Jasper had not been able to enjoy his newfound wealth for long. He and his brother, Julius, had both been killed two years ago while experimenting with their latest creation, a prototype design for a man-powered aircraft.

It had taken a year to get the Abberwick Foundation up and running. Molly had invested the money very shrewdly and was now eager to use the income to make the kind of grants her father had wanted her to make. As the foundation's sole trustee, she was required to handle a wide variety of problems. She was adept at dealing with the vast majority of them, specifically the ones that involved financial decisions.

But, unlike her father, she was a businesswoman, not an engineer or a scientist. Evaluating the merits of the grant proposals submitted by desperate inventors required a sound, working knowledge of scientific principles and cutting-edge technology. In addition, it demanded historical perspective.

Such judgments could only be rendered by a trained mind. The Abberwick Foundation had required the services of someone who could judge a proposal not on the basis of its potential for immediate industrial application, but for its long-term value. Beyond that, Molly had also needed someone who could weed out the frauds and con artists who circled wealthy foundations such as hers like so many sharks in the water. Molly had many impressive credentials, Harry acknowledged, but she did not have a strong technical background.

She was a woman with half a million dollars a year to spend, and she needed help. Specifically she needed Harry Stratton Trevelyan, Ph. Thus far Harry had perused over a hundred grant proposals for her. He had not approved a single one. He was chagrined to realize that he had not understood how impatient Molly had become during the past few weeks. His attention had obviously been focused on other things. He had been curious about her from the moment she had made the appointment to interview him as a consultant.

An official with the Biden campaign said the former vice president was thinking of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, when he misspoke. That attack, in which 20 children between six and seven years old were killed along with six staff members, was in December The shooting, the deadliest high school killing spree in U.

The assailant was an expelled student. Biden, along with former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat who was shot in the head during an event with constituents in Tucson in , met with Stoneman students in Washington days after the incident. The statement was the latest in a string of gaffes that have plagued Biden on the campaign trail. In both cases he quickly caught himself. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson bloomberg.