A cozy breakfast nook in a private residence is an ideal setting for a two-person Kaffeeklatsch. The liquid refreshment is always within a convenient arm’s reach and, unless the participants have an unbridled shouting match, there’s little danger of being overheard by a third party.
In this instance, the homeowner—a woman of a certain age—poured the coffee and then posed a provocative question.
“Maliciously trifling with someone’s affections is something that should not be put up with, wouldn’t you agree, Molly?”
“Yes, of course, but what does that have to do with anything?”
“I’m concerned that the aging Lothario living next door is cruising for a bruising.”
That simple, unexpected declaration raised so many questions in Molly Sullivan’s mature, yet still agile mind that she was temporarily uncertain how to phrase her interrogative response. Was it possible that her friend Barb was begging the question? Making a bold statement with no supporting evidence whatsoever? There was one quick way to find out. Molly opted for the direct approach.
“Why is that?” she asked.
Leaning forward, Barb pulled the cork on her bottled-up concerns and poured out her opinions in a flood of emotional commentaries on life, love, and the like with Parker Trent as the focal point.
“When I first moved here, a member of the welcoming committee confided in me,” Barb began. “According to her, my neighbor was at one time a fitness trainer with a fair number of the rich and famous among his clients. He was also a self-styled nutritionist, a physical therapist, and a retired tennis coach. Originally, Parker claimed to have studied sports medicine, but when he was asked for specific details, he was vague about when and where and later on dropped that item from his verbal résumé.”
“If he’s retired from everything except bragging, what’s the harm?” Molly asked.
“He hasn’t quit entirely,” Barb said. “He may no longer go to gyms and tennis courts, but he continues to work part time out of his home as a personal trainer. He offers private sessions for mostly female clients.”
“Maybe he needs the extra income.”
“Well, he certainly charges high enough fees to maintain a champagne and caviar lifestyle, but that’s not the worst part. If you ask me, Parker gets a little too personal at times. A bit too hands-on, if you get my drift. So far, despite our propinquity, I’ve successfully resisted his advances, but that hasn’t stopped him from stringing several less-desirable women along with his outlandish promises. Personally, I haven’t been inside the house since it was remodeled, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn the master bedroom now has a revolving door.”
“Not that I doubt what you’re telling me, Barb, but how do you know these things?”
“I have eyes, and I have ears,” Barb said. She didn’t elaborate.
Molly waited patiently to see if her friend had exhausted the topic and would change the subject. She hadn’t and she didn’t.
“The man’s behavior is disgusting,” Barb continued. “He has a penchant for sparking women who live right here in the neighborhood. Recently, he’s transitioned from a love triangle into a quadrangle, and now, with someone as charming as you in his proximity for the next two weeks, he may well try for a further expansion of his philandering ways. I know you’re a strong woman, Molly, so in all probability an unwanted overture on his part would not end well for him. I feel I should give you a friendly warning, though. This is a tight-knit community. If you were to unleash the full fury of a woman scorned on my neighbor, there might be some serious fallout for you, as well. I’d never forgive myself if you came here at my invitation, and then suffered some irreparable collateral damage.”
Molly took a sip of coffee, before asking, “What do you suggest I do?”
“Promise me you’ll keep your defenses up while I’m gone so you don’t inadvertently become part of a passionate pentagon.”
“I think you have that backwards,” Molly said. “If I actually joined the Pentagon, then defense would be my top priority.”
“Don’t you get it? I’d be working for the Defense Department.”