Danielle Steel: Journey

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Danielle Steel Journey
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Journey: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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“I don't know what to do,” she said in a quavering voice, which actually touched Maddy.

“Can I help in some way?” She wondered if the woman was ill, or if something was wrong with one of her children, she seemed so distraught, and so profoundly unhappy. Maddy couldn't even imagine what it could be.

“There's nothing anyone can do.” She sounded desperate and hopeless. “I don't know what to do,” she repeated. “It's Paul. He hates me.”

“Of course he doesn't, I'm sure he doesn't,” Maddy said, feeling stupid, with no knowledge whatsoever of the situation. For all she knew, he did hate her. “Why would he?”

“He has for years. He tortures me. He had to marry me because I got pregnant.”

“In this day and age, he wouldn't still be there if he didn't want to be.” Their oldest child was twelve, and they'd had two children since then. Although Maddy had to admit she had never seen Paul be pleasant to her. It was one of the things she disliked about him.

“We can't afford to get a divorce, and Paul says it would hurt him politically.” It was a possibility, certainly, but other politicians had survived it. And then, Janet took her breath away with her next statement. “He beats me.” Something in Maddy's blood ran cold as she heard the other woman say it. And with that, Janet gingerly pulled up her sleeve, and Maddy could see ugly bruises. She had heard unpleasant stories about his violent temper and arrogant attitude over the years, and now this confirmed it to her.

“I'm so sorry, Janet.” She didn't know what to say, but her heart went out to her and all she wanted to do was hug her. “Don't stay,” Maddy said softly. “Don't let him do that. I was married to a man like that for nine years.” She knew all too well what it was like, although she had spent the last eight years trying to forget him.

“How did you get out?” They were suddenly like two prisoners of the same war, whispering in the garden.

“I ran away,” Maddy said, sounding braver than she'd been at the time, and she wanted to be honest with this woman. “I was terrified. Jack helped me.” But this woman had no Jack Hunter. She wasn't young or beautiful, she had no hope, no career, no way out, and she had three children to take with her. It was very different.

“He says he'll kill me if I go and take the kids. And he says if I tell anyone, he'll put me in a mental institution. He did that once, after my little girl was born. They gave me electric shock treatment.” Maddy thought they should have given it to him, in places that would have really mattered to him, but she didn't say that to Janet. Just thinking of what the woman was going through and seeing her bruises made Maddy feel heartsick for her.

“You have to get help. Why don't you go to a safe house?” Maddy suggested.

“I know he'll find me. He'll kill me.” Janet sobbed as she said it.

“I'll help you.” Maddy volunteered without hesitating. She had to do something for this woman. She felt guiltier than ever for never having liked her. But she needed help now, and as a survivor of the same agony she felt she owed it to her to help her. “I'll find out about some places for you to go with the kids.”

“It'll wind up in the papers,” Janet said, still crying, and feeling helpless.

“It'll wind up in the papers if he kills you,” Maddy said firmly. “Promise me you'll do something. Does he hurt the children?” Janet shook her head, but Maddy knew it was more complicated than that. Even if he didn't touch them, he was distorting their minds and terrifying them, and one day the girls would marry men like their father, just as Maddy had, and maybe their son would think it was acceptable to beat his women. No one emerged unscathed from a home where their mother was beaten. It had led Maddy straight into the arms of Bobby Joe, and led her to believe that he had a right to do it.

And as Maddy took Janet's hand in her own, they heard the men approaching, and Janet quickly withdrew it, and within an instant, she was stone-faced. It was as though the conversation had never taken place, as the two men walked into the garden.

That night when they were alone, Maddy told Jack what had happened.

“He beats her,” she said, still feeling sick about it.

“Paul?” Jack looked surprised. “I doubt that. He's kind of a gruff guy, but I don't think he'd do a thing like that. How do you know?”

“Janet told me,” Maddy said, staunchly her friend now. They finally had something in common.

“I wouldn't take that too seriously,” Jack said quietly. “Paul told me years ago, she has mental problems.”

“I saw the bruises,” Maddy said, looking angry. “I believe her, Jack. I've been there.”

“I know you have. You don't know how she got the bruises. She may have just made that up to make him look bad. I know he's been seeing someone for a while. Janet is probably trying to get even with him, by saying ugly things about him.” He was looking worse by the minute to Maddy, and she didn't doubt Janet's story for an instant. She hated Paul just thinking of it.

“Why don't you believe her?” Maddy asked angrily. “I don't understand that.”

“I know Paul. He just wouldn't do that.” It made Maddy want to scream as she listened. They argued about it until they went to bed, and she was so angry at Jack for not believing her that she was relieved they didn't make love that night. She felt far closer to Janet McCutchins, and had more in common with her, than with her own husband. But he didn't seem to notice how upset his wife was.

And before they left the next day, Maddy reminded her that she'd be in touch with information for her. But Janet looked blank as she said it. She was too afraid that Paul would hear them. She just nodded and got in the car, and they drove away a few minutes later. But as Maddy and Jack flew back to Washington that night, Maddy was staring out the window at the scenery below in silence. All she could think about was Bobby Joe and the desperation she had felt in those lonely years in Knoxville. And then she thought of Janet and the bruises she had shown her. It was as though Janet were being held prisoner, and she didn't have the courage or the energy to escape him. In fact, she was convinced she couldn't. And as they touched down in Washington, Maddy made a silent vow to do everything she could to help her.

Chapter 3

WHENMADDY WENT TO WORK ON Monday morning, she ran into Greg as soon as she got to the office, followed him into his cubicle, and poured herself a cup of coffee.

“How was the weekend of Washington's most glamorous award-winning anchorwoman?” He liked to tease her about the life they led, and the fact that she and Jack were often at the White House. “Did you spend the weekend with our President, or just go shopping with the First Lady?”

“Very funny, smart-ass,” she said, and took a sip of the steaming coffee. She was still haunted by the confessions of Janet McCutchins. “Actually, Jack had lunch with him on Saturday at Camp David.”

“Thank God, you never let me down. It would kill me if I thought you were lining up at the car wash like the rest of us. I live vicariously through you. I hope you know that. We all do.”

“Believe me, it's not that exciting.” She never really felt it was her life anyway, she always felt as though she were living in the spotlight she borrowed from her husband. “We had the McCutchinses down to Virginia for the weekend. God, he's disgusting.”

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