Arlette is the Ph.D. candidate in biology whom Peter knew, liked and respected who had informed him "a few weeks ago" that he was "icy-cold." Peter's reaction to Arlette's comment ranged from macho pride to worry and anxiety. Arlette was an intelligent young woman who could speak her mind but who was also bashful and nervous socially. She shared a trait with Peter in that they both frowned more than smiled.
She and Peter had dated some, both inexperienced in dating and intimacy because in high school and college neither had pursued romantic relationships. But Peter had not known how to follow through with their initial attraction and cement a deeper fondness. In fact, he had "fled" Arlette's apartment after a meal she had prepared for him. If Arlette had been falling in love with Peter he had not understood but whatever her feelings, they had turned to an "averted gaze" and a "stiffened profile."
[You can read Arlette's introduction in the "Plastica" chapter.]
Patrick not Peter.