ELAINE'S LATE. Stone Barrington finished his osso buco as Elaine wandered over from another table and sat down.
"So?" she asked.
"'So?' What kind of question is that?"
"It means, 'tell me everything.'"
Stone looked up to see Dino struggling to shut the front door behind him. Dino was his former partner, now a lieutenant, head of the detective squad at the 19th Precinct.
Dino came over, sloughing off a heavy topcoat. "Jesus," he said, hanging up his coat, muffler and hat. "There's already six inches of snow out there, and there's at least thirty knots of wind."
"How are we going to get home?" Stone wondered aloud.
"Don't worry, my driver's out there now, putting the chains on the car." Dino now rated a car and driver from the NYPD.
Stone shook his head. "Poor bastard. It's tough enough being a cop without drawing you for a boss."
"What do you mean?" Dino demanded, offended. "The kid's getting an education working for me. They don't teach this stuff at the academy."
"What, how to put chains on a lieutenant's car?"
"All he has to do is watch me, and he learns."
Stone rolled his eyes, but let this pass. They drank their champagne in silence for a moment.
"So?" Dino asked, finally.
"That's what I just asked him," Elaine said.
"So, I'm back." Stone had returned from an extended stay in LA a few days before.
"I knew that," Dino said. "So?"
"Can't either of you speak in complete sentences?"
"So," Dino said, "how's Mrs. Barrington?"
"Dino," Stone said, "if you're going to start calling her that, I'm going to start carrying a gun."
"I heard," Elaine said.
"I'm not surprised," Stone replied. "Dino has a big mouth."
"So, how is she?" Dino demanded.
"I talked to Eduardo today," Stone said. "Her shrink doesn't want me to see her. Not for a while."
"That's convenient," Dino said.
"You bet it is," Stone agreed.
"You feeling guilty, Stone?" Elaine asked.
"Sure he is," Dino said. "If he had just taken my advice..."
"Mine, too," Elaine echoed.
"All right, all right," Stone said. "If I had only taken your advice."
"Arrington is for you," Elaine said.
"Arrington isn't exactly speaking to me," Stone said.
"What does that mean?"
"It means that if I call her, she's civil, but if I try to reason with her, she excuses herself and hangs up."
"How's the boy?" Dino asked.
"Does he know who his father is yet?"
"Look, Dino, I don't know who his father is. It could just as well have been Vance as me. Not even Arrington knows. Nobody will, until we do the DNA testing."
"And when does that happen?"
"Arrington won't discuss it."
"Keep after her."
"I don't know if it's worth it," Stone said wearily. "I'm not sure it would make any difference."
"Give her time," Dino said. "She'll come around."
"You're a font of wisdom, Dino. Know any other relationship clichés?"
"Every eligible man in the country is going to be after her," Elaine said.
"What?" Stone asked.
"She's Vance Calder's widow, dummy, and as such, she's very, very rich. Not to mention gorgeous. You'd better get your ass down to Virginia and win her back."
"She knows where to find me," Stone said.
Elaine rolled her eyes.
Another blast of frigid air blew into the room as the front door opened again.
"It's your pal Eggers," Dino said, nodding toward the door.
Bill Eggers came over to the table. He didn't unbutton his coat. "Hi, Elaine, hi, Dino," he said, then he turned to Stone. "I've been calling you all evening. I should have known I'd find you here." Bill Eggers was the managing partner of Woodman & Weld, the extremely prestigious law firm with which Stone was associated, in a very quiet way.
Copyright Stuart Woods 2001. All rights reserved. Reproduced by the permission of the publisher, Putnam Publishing.
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