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By Tori Carrington
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGOING WITHOUT sex wasn't Colin McKenna's idea of a good time. Which meant he'd had a pretty lousy time of it for the past three months.
His athletic shoes clapped against the cement walkway paralleling the Maumee River, his cadence even, the sound of his breathing filling his ears. To his right, the sun was just beginning to break the horizon causing the temperature to rise on the clear June day. He'd run this route along the river ever since buying his downtown penthouse condo last year. But in the past three months the route had lengthened and lengthened along with his rising level of sexual frustration.
Another man might take things into hand, literally.
Colin preferred running.
His lungs began burning, protesting the pressure he was putting on them. He grudgingly slowed his paced then came to a stop, panting as he turned toward the sun's rays and squinted out over the river to the East Side and International Park. He'd grown up here in Toledo, Ohio, though a long way from downtown in the suburb of Sylvania. But he hadn't hesitated when a block of newly renovated condos had gone up for sale in an old department store building, putting him in the heart of the midsize city that was an intriguing mix of old and new.
He took several deep breaths, each slower than the one before, as he brought his pulse rate under control. As a psychiatrist, he knew the power of mind over body. It was of some interest, then, that his body was increasingly overruling his mind's need for control.
He'd never paid much attention to the importance of sex in his life until he'd been falsely accused of indecent behavior by one of his patients three months ago. That was when his attorney had suggested he go without until the case was either dropped or settled in order to create a picture of himself as a model, upstanding citizen. Not that he hadn't been that before, but he realized he had been a serial dater.
The case was also the reason why he no longer counseled patients one-on-one but rather took only group and couples sessions.
Three hours, a shower and two such therapy sessions later, Colin sat back in his office chair, listening as the married couple before him bickered about the price of their last meal out. Actually it didn't matter what the topic was, the couple would argue about it. How they'd managed to keep from killing each other much less stay married for the past ten years was beyond him.
Give up and head for divorce court now, he wanted to say, but didn't.
He glanced at his watch. Only five more minutes in the session to go.
Colin didn't think he'd last two.
He absently rubbed the back of his neck. There were times when being a couples therapist was just as bad as going without sex, if only because his experiences over the past ninety days seriously undermined his belief in the institution of marriage. There were two types of couples - married and unmarried - that came to counseling. With the first type, the union was beyond repair and they were looking for him to work miracles on it and with the second type the participants were genuinely interested in putting their individual needs aside for the greater good of the union.
More often than not he saw the former. And the extent of his job was to play referee. One of his three partners at the Sylvania Mental Wellness Clinic had offered to get him scorecards for sessions like the one he was currently in the middle of or, better yet, a scoreboard and a buzzer to indicate when one of the spouses had entered foul territory.
In the case of the Hansens he would have ruled a TKO three sessions ago. Significant, considering this was their fourth session.
"Jocelyn," Colin said quietly, watching as the woman's face grew redder and spittle formed at the corners of her mouth. Normally an attractive woman, she looked like evil incarnate as she lit into her husband with all the finesse of a pro.
"... and if you think I'm just going to roll over and play patsy, you've got another think coming. I already have three kids. I don't need another. I work a full-time job, same as you, and if I'm too tired for sex every now and again ..."
"Jocelyn," Colin said again, never having had to raise his voice during a session before but afraid this time might prove the exception.
Her husband, Larry, was shaking his head, his own color growing darker. "Shut up, Jos."
The room fell silent.
Colin blinked. It was the first time Larry had said something of that nature before. Normally quiet, he nodded and probably didn't pay attention to half of what was being said by either his wife or Colin. Not that Colin could blame him. Jocelyn didn't so much as speak with you as she spoke at you.
Colin took in Jocelyn's shocked appearance, spotting all the signs of a major outburst on the rise. He rubbed his thumb and forefinger against his closed eyelids. That was it. He was never getting married.
A brief knock on the door, then it opened. Colin frowned. The temporary receptionist that an employment agency had provided to fill in for their regular receptionist was not the brightest bulb in the string.
Excerpted from Indecent by Tori Carrington Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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