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Author describes this as “women’s fiction with elements of romance and suspense.”
Giving up her red wine didn’t strike Mallory Cook as a great idea. In fact, she suspected that red wine had been saving her life. Ever since the children had left and, later, her dream job evaporated, her world felt less and less safe. This struck her as odd. Wouldn’t you think having fewer responsibilities would put you at ease, not raise your anxiety level? Maybe she was too dependent on the company of others. But Dwight still lived here—didn’t he count?
Her husband wasn’t around as often as she’d like. He headed up his own building management company, which kept him busy during normal hours and many an off-hour, too. When he wasn’t busy trying to earn money, he volunteered at his beloved trolley museum in Kennebunkport, up the road from their own town of Great Wharf. Mallory didn’t begrudge Dwight his time at the trolley museum so much as she envied him the passion of his time there.
In her usually empty house now, Mallory was feeling nervous most of the time. She couldn’t put her finger on why. For sure, she didn’t like being alone. But she didn’t relish the thought of heading out to the main drag to mingle with the town’s sightseeing throng either. She had started sleeping in a bit later, and sipping a bit earlier. Mallory knew she was on a slippery slope, so she had made an appointment with her doctor to talk about it.
“I don’t recognize myself, Jim. I’m spooked by normal noises. I’m starting to rely on Dwight being around to feel safe. When he’s not home, my heart beats faster, and I get dizzy sometimes, lightheaded. I probably just need to get out more and get some exercise. What do you think?”
Jim Barylick had been the Cooks’ general practitioner for twenty years, ever since he moved to Maine from Ohio. His experience with people’s health complaints and rationalizations guided his every word.
“Mallory,” he began, “relax. Whatever’s going on, we’ll get to the bottom of it. You’ve had a lot of stresses and changes in the last few years, with all the kids leaving and your job going the way of the economy. Your symptoms may be nothing more than your spirit heaving a sigh of relief that it can finally wreak a little havoc of its own.”
That was Jim at his reassuring best. His rumbling baritone voice had always made him sound especially wise, and his silver hair belied that he was still ten years away from retirement. Mallory loved the idea he was putting out there, that her inner self was making itself known. At the same time, she knew her inner self had more to say.
Jim looked through the top, most recent sheets of her file. “Everything checked out fine when you had your physical seven months ago. Lungs, heart, mammogram, blood pressure, blood chemistry … you’re in extraordinarily good health for someone your age. You turned fifty-five this year, right?”
“Well, it’s possible you’re just feeling blindsided by aging sneaking up on you and by still not finding another job you like. It’s perfectly normal to be wondering what’s next for you.” He looked again at her chart. “I do see that you put on a few pounds. You hide it well, but you’re right to consider getting more exercise.”
“What about alcohol, Jim? Am I drinking too much?”
“How much are you drinking?”