The Matchmaker

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand Read Free Book Online

Book: The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elin Hilderbrand
Tags: Fiction, Romance, Retail
six months ago, and I’ve been slowly recovering from it.  
    He had lost his arm.
    Dabney’s vision grew dark at the edges, but there was still color—the red of Clen’s T-shirt and the green glen and weak tea of his Scottish hazel eyes. I could not stay, and you could not go. She couldn’t speak. Nina Mobley would be looking for her, as it was time to judge the picnics. It doesn’t matter, nobody ever eats them anyway. Clen! She wanted, at least, to say his name, just his name, but even that was beyond her. She was in the power of some other force; something had her by the back of the neck and was pushing her down. I hope that “never” has an expiration date. She wanted to ride away on his handlebars. Any second now, she would relax. He was there. It was him.
    She did not stop for him. She walked on. Even if she could have spoken, what would she have said? She was unprepared. She wasn’t feeling well. Around the corner, hidden by hedges, she tried to breathe, but found she could not breathe. She heard the sound of breaking glass and realized the champagne flute had dropped to the road and shattered. There was wind in her ears. Her knees gave way.
    Blackness.
    Silence.
    Couple #30: Dr. Gary Donegal and Lance Farley, partners ten years
    Dr. Donegal: I started seeing Dabney in 1978, my first year on Nantucket. Dabney was, in fact, my first patient. She was twelve years old; her mother had left the family four years earlier, and Dabney’s father, who was a policeman, was worried about Dabney’s emotional well-being as she entered adolescence. Dabney refused to leave the island; she was convinced that if she left Nantucket, she would die. Or something worse.
    “Something worse?” I said.
    Officer Kimball then explained to me that the last time Dabney had been off Nantucket was in December 1974, when her mother, Patty Benson, took Dabney to Boston to see The Nutcracker . They had orchestra seats for the evening performance of the ballet and a suite at the Park Plaza afterward. Patty, Officer Kimball said, had come from money and was used to doing things this way. She was also spoiled, selfish, and entitled, he said. A summer person, he said—as if this were the explanation for her unpleasant qualities. He then went on to tell me that Patty Benson had left the Park Plaza Hotel in the middle of the night and had never returned.
    “Never returned?” I said.
    “Never returned,” he said. He knew Patty hadn’t met with foul play because she had given the hotel’s concierge Officer Kimball’s phone number and a twenty-dollar tip to call and tell him to come to Boston to collect their daughter.
    When Dabney awoke in the suite in the Park Plaza, Patty was gone. The concierge sent up one of the chambermaids to stay with Dabney until her father arrived.
    Dabney never saw or heard from her mother again. Eventually, Officer Kimball hired a detective and discovered that Patty Benson was living in Texas, working as a flight attendant on the private jet of some oil millionaire.
    I realized I had my work cut out for me with Dabney. The refusal to leave Nantucket was a natural response to having lost her mother, to being left behind in a hotel room like an empty shopping bag, or a half-eaten club sandwich.
    Dabney was happy enough to talk about her mother. Her mother had grown up spending summers in a big old house on Hoicks Hollow Road. The Benson family had belonged to the Sankaty Beach Club; her mother used to say that tan skin was healthy skin. Her mother liked black-and-white movies with singing and dancing, liked lobster tails on Christmas Eve, and did not care for her husband’s Wharf Rat tattoo. Her mother read to Dabney every night before bed and some nights fell asleep in Dabney’s bed; she promised that Dabney could get her ears pierced on her twelfth birthday, but that the only acceptable earrings were pearls.
    Dabney wouldn’t talk about The Nutcracker trip or waking up in the hotel alone or the fact that her

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