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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She sat in silence for endless minutes, staring at him, unable to believe what she had just heard, yet believing it. She could see in his eyes that he meant every word he had said. “I don't understand,” she said, as tears sprang to her eyes and started rolling down her cheeks. This couldn't be happening to her. It happened to other people, people with bad marriages, or who fought all the time, people who had never loved each other as she and Peter did. But it was happening. It had never even occurred to her once for a single instant in twenty-four years of marriage that he might leave her one day. The only way she had ever thought she might lose him was if he died. And now she felt as though she had. “What happened?… Why did you do that to us? …Why?… Why won't you give her up?” It never even occurred to her in those first instants to ask him who it was. It didn't matter. All that mattered was that he wanted a divorce.

“Paris, I tried,” he said, looking devastated. He hated seeing the look of total destruction in her eyes, but the music had to be faced. And in an odd, sick way, he was glad he had done it finally. He knew that no matter what it cost them both emotionally, he had to be free. “I can't give her up. I just can't. I know it's rotten of me, but it's what I want. You've been a good wife, you're a wonderful person. You've been a great mother to our kids, and I know you always will be, but I want more than this now….I feel alive when I'm with her. Life is exciting, I look forward to the future now. I've felt like an old man for years. Paris, you don't see it yet, but maybe this is a blessing for both of us. We've both been trapped.” His words ran through her like knives.

“A blessing? You call this a blessing?” Her voice sounded shrill suddenly. She looked as though she were about to get hysterical, and he was afraid of that. It was an enormous shock, like learning that someone you loved had suddenly died. “This is a tragedy, not a blessing. What kind of a blessing is it to cheat on your wife, walk out on your family, and ask for a divorce? Are you crazy? What are you thinking of? Who is this girl? What kind of spell did she put on you?” It had finally occurred to her to ask, not that it mattered now. The other woman was a faceless enemy, who had won the war before Paris even knew there was a battle. Paris had lost everything without ever being warned that their life and marriage were at stake. It felt like the end of the world as she stared at him, and he shook his head and ran a hand through his hair. He didn't want to tell her who it was, he was afraid Paris would do something in some crazed jealous state, but he had more faith in her than that, and she would find out sooner or later anyway. If nothing else, once they found out, their children would tell her who she was. And he was planning to marry her, although he didn't intend to tell Paris that yet. The divorce was enough of a shock for her for now.

“She's an attorney in my office. You met her at the Christmas party, although I know she tried to stay away from you, out of respect. Her name is Rachel Norman, she was my assistant on the case in Boston. She's a decent person, she's divorced, and she has two boys.” He was trying to give her respectability in Paris's eyes, which was pointless, he knew, but he felt he owed Rachel that, so she didn't sound like a whore to Paris. But he suspected she would anyway. Paris just stared at him as she cried, while tears dripped off her chin onto the skirt she wore. She looked broken and beaten to a pulp, and he knew it would take him a long time to forgive himself for what he'd done. But there was no other way. He had to do this, for all their sakes. He had promised Rachel he would. She had waited a year, and said it was long enough. Above all, he didn't want to lose her, whatever it took.

“How old is she?” Paris asked in a dead voice.

“Thirty-one,” he said softly.

“Oh my God. She's twenty years younger than you are. Are you going to marry her?” She felt another wave of panic clutch her throat. As long as he didn't, there was always hope.

“I don't know. We have to get through all this first, that's traumatic enough.” Just telling her made him feel a thousand years old. But thinking of Rachel made him feel young again. She was the fountain of youth and hope for him. He hadn't realized how much had been missing from his life until he fell in love with her. Everything was exciting about her, just having dinner with her made him feel like a boy again, and the time they spent in bed nearly drove him out of his mind. He had never felt that way about any woman in his life, not even Paris. Their sex life had been satisfying and respectable, and he had cherished it for all the years he shared with her, but what he shared with Rachel was a passion he had never even believed could exist, and now he knew it did. She was magic.

“She's fifteen years younger than I am,” Paris said, starting to sob uncontrollably, and then she looked up at him again, wanting to know every hideous detail to torture herself with. “How old are her boys?”

“Five and seven, they're very young. She got married in law school, and managed the boys and her studies, even after her husband left. She's had a lot on her plate for a long time.” He cared so much about her, wanted to help her with everything. He had even taken the boys to the park on Saturday afternoons several times, when he told Paris he was going back into town to see clients. He was absolutely driven to be with her, and share her life with her, and she was just as much in love with him. She had been distraught over whether or not to see him, or if he would leave his wife eventually. She didn't think he would, knowing how important his family was to him, and he always said what a good woman Paris was and didn't deserve to be hurt. But after the last time Rachel had broken it off with him, he had finally made up his mind, and asked Rachel to marry him. And now he had no choice but to divorce his wife. Divorcing her was the price of entry into the life he wanted. And it was all he wanted now, at any price. He had to sacrifice Paris to have Rachel, and he was willing.

“Will you go to counseling with me?” Paris asked in a small voice, and he hesitated. He didn't want to mislead her, or give her false hope. In his mind, there was none.

“I will,” he said finally, “if it will make this easier for you to accept. But I want you to understand that I'm not going to change my mind. It took me a long time to make this decision, and nothing is going to sway me.”

“Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you at least give me a chance? How could I not have known?” she asked miserably, feeling stupid, and broken and small and abandoned, even before he left.

“Paris, I've hardly been home for the last nine months. I come home late every night. I go back into town every weekend. I kept thinking that you would figure it out. I'm amazed you didn't.”

“I trusted you,” she said, sounding angry for the first time. “I thought you were busy at the office. I never realized you'd do something like this.” And after that, she just sat there and cried. He wanted to take her in his arms and comfort her, but he thought he shouldn't. So instead he got up, and stood at the window, looking down at the garden, wondering what would happen to her now. She was still young and beautiful, she would find someone. But he couldn't help worrying about her after all this time. He had been worried about her for months, but not enough to want to stay with her, or stop seeing Rachel. For the first time in his life, he wasn't thinking of her or his family, but only of himself. “What are we going to tell the children?” She looked up at him finally. It had just occurred to her. This really was like a death, and she had to think of everything now, how to survive it, how to tell people, what to say to their children. And the final irony was that she was not only about to be out of a job as a mother, but she had just been fired as a wife as well. She had no idea what she was going to do with the rest of her life, and couldn't even think of it now.

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