Danielle Steel: Dating Game

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Danielle Steel Dating Game
  • Название:
    Dating Game
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    Random House, Inc.
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    Старинная литература / на английском языке
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Dating Game: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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“No way. This isn't a graduation party, Wim. It's an ordinary Friday night.” She knew that if she agreed to three now, he would be wanting to come home at four or five during the graduation celebrations, and that was way too late. She thought it was dangerous for him to be driving around at those hours. “Two. Max. And that's a gift. Don't push!” she warned, and he nodded and looked pleased. The negotiations were complete, and he started to back out of her room, as she headed toward him with a purposeful look. “Not so fast …I want a hug.”

He smiled at her then, looking like a big goofy kid, and more a boy than the nearly grown man he was. And he obliged her with a hug, as she leaned up and kissed his cheek. “Have fun tonight, and drive carefully, please.” He was a good driver, and a responsible boy, but she worried anyway. So far at least there had been no drunken incidents, and the few times he had had something to drink at parties, he had left his car and driven home with friends. He also knew that if things got out of hand, he could call his parents. They had established that agreement years before. If he ever got drunk, he could call them, and there would be an “amnesty.” But under no condition, in those circumstances, did they want him to drive home.

She heard Wim go out and the front door close moments after they had exchanged the hug. And Paris was just coming down the stairs herself, as Peter walked in, with his briefcase in his hand, looking exhausted. It struck her as she looked at him how much he looked like Wim. It was like seeing the same person thirty-three years later, and noticing that made her smile warmly at him.

“Hi, sweetheart,” she said as she went to Peter, and gave him a hug and a kiss, but he was so tired, he scarcely responded. She didn't mention how wiped out he looked, she didn't want to make him feel worse. But she knew he had been working on a merger for the past month, and the hours had been rough. The deal wasn't going well for his clients, at least not so far, and she knew he was trying to turn it around. “How was your day?” she asked as she took his briefcase out of his hand and set it down on the hall chair. She was sorry suddenly that she had planned the dinner party. There had been no way of knowing, when she did, how busy he would be at work at the moment. She had booked the caterer two months before, knowing how busy they would be later.

“The day was long.” He smiled at her. “The week was longer. I'm beat. What time are the guests coming?” It was nearly seven as he walked in the door.

“In about an hour. Why don't you lie down for a few minutes? You've got time.”

“That's okay. If I fall asleep, I might never wake up.”

Without asking, she walked into the pantry and poured him a glass of white wine, and then returned to hand it to him. He looked relieved. He didn't drink much, but at times like these, knowing he had a long evening ahead of him, it sometimes helped him forget the stresses of the day. It had been a long week, and he looked it.

“Thanks,” he said, taking the glass from her, and taking a sip, before he wandered into the living room and sat down. Everything around him was impeccable and in perfect order. The room was full of handsome English antiques they had bought together over the years, in London and New York. Both of them had lost their parents young, and Paris had used some of her modest inheritance to buy things for the house. And Peter had helped her with it as well. They had some lovely pieces, which their friends always admired. It was a particularly nice house to entertain in. There was a large comfortable dining room, a big living room, a small den, and a library that Peter used as an office on weekends. And upstairs there were four big spacious bedrooms. They used the fourth one as a guest room, although they had hoped for a long time to use it as a room for a third baby, but it had never happened. She had never gotten pregnant after the first two, and although they'd talked about it, neither of them wanted to go through the stress of infertility treatments, and had been content with the two children they had. Fate had tailored their family perfectly for them.

Paris sat down on the couch, and snuggled up close to him. But tonight he was too tired to respond. Usually, he put an arm around her shoulders, and she realized as she looked at him, that he was showing signs of considerable strain. He was due for a check-up sometime soon, and she was going to remind him of it once the worst of the merger was done. They had lost several friends in the past few years to sudden heart attacks. At fifty-one, and in good health, he wasn't at high risk for that, but you never knew. And she wanted to take good care of him. She had every intention of keeping him around for another forty or fifty years. The last twenty-four had been very good, for both of them.

“Is the merger giving you a tough time?” she asked sympathetically. Sitting next to him, she could feel how tense he was. He nodded, as he sipped his wine, and for once didn't volunteer any details. He was too tired to go into it with her, or so she assumed. She didn't want to ask if there was anything else bothering him, it seemed obvious to her that it was the merger. And she hoped that once in the midst of their friends at dinner, he would forget about it and relax. He always did. Although he never initiated their social life, he enjoyed the plans she made for them, and the people she invited. She no longer even consulted him about it. She had a good sense of who he liked and who he didn't, and invited accordingly. She wanted him to have a good time too, and he liked not being responsible for their plans. She did a good job of being what he called their social director.

Peter just sat peacefully on the couch for a few minutes, and she sat quietly beside him, glad to have him home. She wondered if he was going to have to work that weekend, or go back into the city to see clients, as he had for several months on the weekends, but she didn't want to ask. If he did have to go in to the office, she would find something to keep her busy. He looked better, as he stood up, smiled at her, and walked slowly upstairs, as she followed.

“Are you okay, sweetheart?” she asked as he lay down on their bed, and set the glass down on his bedside table. He was so exhausted, he had decided to lie down after all before their dinner.

“I'm fine,” he said, and closed his eyes. And with that, she left him alone to rest for a minute, and went back downstairs to check how things were going in the kitchen. Everything was in order, and she went out to sit on the patio for a minute, smiling to herself. She loved her husband, her children, her house, their friends. She loved everything about all of it, and there was nothing she would have changed. It was the perfect life.

When she went back upstairs to wake him half an hour later, in case he'd fallen asleep, he was in the shower. She sat down in their bedroom and waited. The guests were going to arrive in twenty minutes. She heard the doorbell ring while he was shaving, and told him not to rush. No one was going anywhere, he had time. She wanted him to unwind and enjoy the evening. He looked at her and nodded in the mirror, with shaving foam all over his face, when she told him she was going downstairs to greet their friends.

“I'll be right down,” he promised, and she told him again not to hurry. She wanted him to relax.

By the time Peter came down the stairs, two of the couples had already arrived, and a third was just walking toward the patio. The night was perfect, the sun had just set, and the warm night air felt more like Mexico or Hawaii. It was a perfect night for an outdoor dinner party, and everyone was in good spirits. Both of Paris's favorite women friends were there, with their husbands, one of whom was an attorney in Peter's firm, which was how they'd met fifteen years before. He and his wife were the parents of a boy Wim's age, who went to the same school, and was graduating with him in June. The other woman had a daughter Meg's age, and twin boys a year older. The three women had spent years going to the same school and sports events, and Natalie had alternated with Paris for ten years, driving their daughters to ballet. Her daughter had taken it more seriously than Meg, and was dancing professionally now in Cleveland. All three were at the end of their years of motherhood, and depressed about it, and were talking about it when Peter walked in. Natalie commented quietly to Paris how tired he looked, and Virginia, the mother of the boy graduating with Wim, agreed.

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