Dorothea Benton Frank
New York Times Bestselling Author
Dorothea Benton Frank
"The Last Original Wife mixes the captivating history and distinctiveness of the South Carolina Low Country with a story about existential contemplation in a pleasant and readable fashion." —NYJournalofBooks.com
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The Last Original Wife (Continued)

This unpleasant detail was one more item on my list entitled Why Am I Living Like This? Here's how it went: Bertie called Wes and they made small talk. Eventually Bertie would politely and humbly ask him for some money to hold him over until this deal or that deal came through. Wes pitched a fit about it and then took it out on me for a month or so until Bertie called again. Life as Wes's emotional dumping ground had long ago become tiresome and ridiculous. And odd as this may seem, part of me envied and also admired Bertie's courage to be a nonconforming, unmaterialistic seeker. The only thing he ever spent any real money on was camera equipment. At least he had a passion. Thank God he wasn't selling drugs to make ends meet. Or getting mixed up in human trafficking, which I knew went on in Asia because I had read about it somewhere. But maybe that was Thailand? I can't remember. And wasn't Thailand part of Asia? God, my brain is a piece of Swiss cheese. The important thing is that (a) he had a passion and (b) things could've been worse. And then there was my daughter, Charlotte, who is licensed to sell real estate but somehow rarely closes a deal. We'll get to her.

I sighed hard and looked around. I imagined that this was how ultrahip offices in Los Angeles or New York looked. The large trees and fish tanks with exotic specimens made the space seem less clinical. It was obvious that a team of experts had given this whole environment much thought. The broad strokes of the interior decoration and even the low and warm lighting were designed to soothe the rankled nerves of those who came and went. Equate opulence with consolation, and one step inside these massive vaulted doors should make the most egregious elitists feel better even if the therapy didn't solve their problems. My cynical gut told me that any place that was home to a dozen or so counselors who were this busy had to be an outpatient crazy house in disguise.

This was my second session with Dr. Harrison Katz, the celebrity psychiatrist slash relationship consultant. He appeared on all the morning network and cable talk shows to offer his opinion whenever a celebrity couple or a politician got caught cheating or was considering divorce, which would mean about every five minutes. I still had a little time to wait so I looked around to see who was there.

Seated right next to me, just my luck, was a painfully odd-looking woman with baby bangs and white cat-eye eyeglasses who might well have been there to cure Nosy Nellie disease. She kept leaning over, looking at my handbag, my shoes, sniffing so loudly that I wondered if I should offer her a recommendation for a good ENT doctor. It was becoming clear that she was determined to talk to me. She leaned forward and back about four times until finally, she cleared her throat and spoke.

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