Stella took in every word that Colin Harmon uttered, but she would not sit at his knee in rapt adoration like the other acolytes. She ignored his subtle overtures, his determination to reform her writing style in ways that were contrary to her own heart. He labeled her one of his most resistant students, not because she didn’t understand his teaching, but because she refused to implement those teachings that didn’t feel right. Colin’s spare prose and insightful knowledge of character and plotting was missing passion. It troubled Stella’s writerly sensibilities.
Not that Colin Harmon wasn’t capable of passion. Stella and two other writers had inadvertently discovered his secret passion for one of their very attractive fellow writers, a 9.5 on the Richter scale. Weekly critique sessions at his home became a source of amusement for the three as the lovers attempted to conceal their involvement. But Stella observed on more than one occasion that Colin Harmon’s sweet wife, who drifted in and out of the room like a shadow, seemed to be drinking quite heavily. She had born him a half dozen children, ran his household and publishing business, and accommodated his writing career in every way. She was the woman behind the man and she seemed to be in trouble. Perhaps she suspected his betrayal. When would he tell her?
During one evening writers’ session, while Stella and all the writers were seated at the long dining table, Colin’s wife came flying out of the kitchen, her face flushed with anger. A cold chill ran down Stella’s back as the woman’s furious eyes locked on Stella. Colin Harmon's secret love life, the source of so much gossip, was about to explode. Sweet Jesus, Stella muttered. She thinks I’m the one.