CELIA LARKIN has always liked to keep people guessing about her true feelings. On one occasion during her travels with Bertie Ahern, she carried a copy of a book suggestively titled How To Keep Your Man Happy.
Eventually, the Taoiseach turned to her and snapped: "Jaysus, would you ever take off the dust jacket?"
Now Larkin has come closer than ever before to divulging the true nature of her relationship with Bertie. In an upcoming TV3 documentary about the history of Fianna Fail, she has made a series of comments about her ex-partner that offer at least a glimpse of the man behind the mask.
That should make him very nervous indeed -- because more than anybody else in the world, she must know where at least some of the political bodies are buried from his long and controversial career.
On the plus side, Celia insists that Bertie has never done anything corrupt in his life. Unfortunately, she has also given us an extremely unfortunate mental image by lamenting that he treated political power "like notches on a bedpost".
She claims that she urged him to stand down after just one and a half terms in the Taoiseach's office -- and with hindsight, she was right.
For many years, Celia was one of Bertie's greatest assets. As a professional style consultant, she forced him to drop the 'anorak man' image and start wearing Louis Copeland suits.
Although it was rumoured that his Drumcondra friends disliked her, there was no denying that she gave him the emotional security he badly needed at the time.
To this day, the breakdown of their relationship in 2003 remains a mystery.
What we do know is that while he was happy to keep her as his unofficial partner, she made it very clear that she wanted a wedding ring on her finger.
Whatever happened behind closed doors, they finally agreed to go their separate ways -- and according to some of his staff, he was never the same man again.
Unfortunately for Bertie, the personal and the political have always been closely entwined.
During his marathon sessions at the Mahon Tribunal in 2008, he admitted that back in the 90s he had withdrawn £30,000 from a Fianna Fail bank account as a loan for a staff member whose elderly relatives were in danger of being evicted.
When asked who exactly the staff member was, a hunched and defensive Taoiseach replied: "Celia Larkin."
All this is set to be raked over again before the end of the year when Judge Mahon finally gets around to publishing his report. It is already clear that Bertie is on a collision course with FF leader Micheal Martin, who may well be forced to disown his old boss.
If Mahon's conclusions are really shocking, Martin might even take the ultimate step of expelling Bertie from the party he led for 13 years.
For now, however, it is Celia who must really be keeping Bertie awake at night.
If some publisher succeeds in getting her signature on a contract one day, the resulting kiss-and-tell memoir could be truly explosive.
In the meantime, she will carry on dropping hints about his true character.
If all had gone according to plan, Bertie would currently be launching his campaign to become the next President.
Instead he is close to becoming a national hate figure, despised for his role in wrecking the economy and the greed he's displayed by claiming such massive expenses since leaving office.
Celia's latest comments are not exactly going to help -- and since she is clearly a highly intelligent woman, it's hard not to suspect that this is her intention.
A wise man once said we hurt the ones we love. Bertie Ahern may be about to discover just how true that is.