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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“He's been working on a merger, and it's been really rough on him,” Paris said sympathetically, and Virginia nodded. Her husband had been working on it too, but he looked a lot more relaxed than Peter did. But he also wasn't the managing partner of the firm, which put even more of a burden on Peter. He hadn't looked this tired and stressed in years.

The rest of the guests arrived minutes after Peter did, and by the time they sat down to dinner, everyone seemed to be having a good time. The table looked beautiful, and there were candles everywhere. And in the soft glow of the candlelight, Peter looked better to Paris when he sat down at the head of the table, and chatted with the women she had placed next to him. He knew both well, and enjoyed their company, although he seemed quieter than usual throughout the dinner. He no longer seemed so much tired as subdued.

When the guests finally left at midnight, he took his blazer off and loosened his tie, and seemed relieved.

“Did you have an okay time, sweetheart?” Paris asked, looking worried. The table had been just big enough, with twelve people seated at it, that she couldn't really hear what had gone on at his end. She had enjoyed talking to the men she sat next to about business matters, as she often did. Their male friends liked that about her. She was intelligent and well informed, and enjoyed talking about more than just her kids, unlike some of the women they knew, although Virginia and Natalie were intelligent too. Natalie was an artist, and had moved on to sculpture in recent years. And Virginia had been a litigator before she gave up her career to have kids and stay home with them. She was just as nervous as Paris about what she was going to do with herself when her only son graduated in June. He was going to Princeton, so at least he'd be closer to home than Wim. But any way you looked at it, a chapter of their lives was about to end, and it left all of them feeling anxious and insecure.

“You were awfully quiet tonight,” Paris commented as they walked slowly upstairs. The beauty of hiring caterers was that they took care of everything, and left the house neat as a pin. Paris had looked down the table at him regularly, and although he seemed to be enjoying his dinner partners, he seemed to listen more than talk, which was unusual, even for him.

“I'm just tired,” he said, looking distracted, as they passed Wim's room. He was still out, presumably at the Steins', and wouldn't be home a minute before he had to be, at two.

“Are you feeling okay?” Paris asked, looking worried. He had had big deals before, but he didn't usually let them get to him like this. She was wondering if the deal was about to fall through.

“I'm …” He started to say “fine,” and then looked at her and shook his head. He looked anything but fine as they walked into their room. He hadn't wanted to talk to her about it that night. He had been planning to sit down with her the following morning. He didn't want to spoil the evening for her, and he never liked talking about serious subjects before they went to bed. But he couldn't lie to her either. He didn't want to anymore. It wasn't fair to her. He loved her. And there was going to be no easy way to do this, no right time or perfect day. And the prospect of lying next to her and worrying about it all night was weighing heavily on him.

“Is something wrong?” Paris looked startled suddenly, and couldn't imagine what it was. She assumed it was something at the office, and just hoped it wasn't bad news about his health. That had happened to friends of theirs the year before. The husband of one of her friends had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and died within four months. It had been a shock to all of them. They were beginning to approach the age where things happened to friends. All she could do was pray that Peter didn't have news of that kind to share with her. But he looked serious as he sat down in one of the comfortable easy chairs in their bedroom where they liked to sit and read sometimes, and he pointed to the chair facing him, without reassuring her.

“Come sit.”

“Are you okay?” she asked again, as she sat down facing him and reached for his hands, but he sat back in the chair, and closed his eyes for a minute, before he began. When he opened them, she knew she had never seen such agony in them before.

“I don't know how to say this to you … where to start, or how to begin.…” How do you drop a bomb on someone you've cared about for twenty-five years? Where do you drop it and when? He knew he was about to hit a switch that would blow their lives all to bits. Not only hers, but his. “I … Paris…I did a crazy thing last year… well, maybe not so crazy … but something I never expected to do. I didn't intend to do it. I'm not even sure how it happened, except that the opportunity was there, and I took it, and shouldn't have, but I did….” He couldn't look at her as he said it, and Paris said not a word as she listened to him. She had an overwhelming sense that something terrible was about to happen to her, and to them. Sirens were going off in her head, and her heart was pounding as she waited for him to continue. This wasn't about the merger, she knew suddenly, it was about them.

“It happened while I was in Boston for three weeks on the deal I was working on then.” She knew the one, and nodded silently. Peter looked at her with agony in his eyes, and he wanted to reach out to her, but didn't. He wanted to cushion the blow for her, but he had the decency to know there was no way he could. “There's no point going into the details about how or why or when. I fell in love with someone. I didn't mean to. I didn't think I would. I'm not even sure what I was thinking then, except that I was bored, and she was interesting and bright and young, and it made me feel alive being with her. And younger than I've felt in years. I guess it was like turning the clock back for a few minutes, only the hands got stuck, and once we got back, I found I didn't want to get out of it. I've thought about it, and agonized, and tried to break it off several times. But…I just can't…I don't want to….I want to be with her. I love you. I always have. I never stopped loving you, even now, but I can't live like this anymore, between two lives. It's driving me insane. I don't even know how to say this to you, and I can only imagine what it must be like to be on the receiving end, and God, I'm so sorry, Paris…I really am….” There were tears in his eyes as he said it, and she covered her mouth with her hands, like watching an accident about to happen, or a car hit a wall, about to kill everyone in it. She felt, for the first time in her life, as though she were about to die. “Paris, I don't know how to say this to you,” he said, as tears rolled down his cheeks. “For both our sakes… for all our sakes…I want a divorce.” He had promised Rachel he would do it that weekend, and he knew he had to, before the double life he was leading drove them both crazy. But saying it, and living it, and seeing Paris's face, were harder than he had ever dreamed. Seeing the way she looked at him made him wish there were some other way. But he knew there wasn't. Even though he had loved her for all these years, he was no longer in love with her, but with another woman, and he wanted out. Sharing a life with her made him feel like he was buried alive. And he realized now, with Rachel, all that he had been missing. With Rachel, he felt as though God had given him a second chance. And whether it came from God or not, it was what he wanted and knew he had to have. As much as he cared about Paris, and felt sorry for her, and guilty about what he was doing to her, he knew that his life, his soul, his being, his future was with Rachel now. Paris was his past.

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