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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“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.

“I don't know what we'll tell the children,” Peter said softly. “The truth, I guess. I still love them. This doesn't change anything. They're not little kids anymore. They're both going to be out of the house when Wim leaves for Berkeley. It's not going to have that much effect on them,” he said naïvely, and she shook her head at his stupidity. He had no idea how they would feel. Very likely as betrayed as she did, or very close.

“Don't be so sure it won't have an effect on them. I think they'll be devastated. This is going to be a huge shock to them. How could it not be? Their whole family just got blown to bits. What do you think?”

“It all depends on how we explain it to them. It will make a big difference how you handle it.” It made her furious to realize that he was expecting her to clean it up for him, and she wasn't going to do it. Her duties to him as a wife were over. In the blink of an eye, she had been dispensed with, and her responsibilities to him no longer existed. All she had to think of now was herself, and she didn't even know how. More than half her life had been spent taking care of him, and their children. “I want you to keep the house,” he said suddenly, although he'd already decided that after he asked Rachel to marry him. They were going to buy a co-op in New York, and he had already looked at several with her.

“Where are you going to live?” she asked, sounding as frantic as she felt.

“I don't know yet,” he said, avoiding her eyes again. “We'll have plenty of time to figure that out. I'll move to a hotel tomorrow,” he said quietly, and it suddenly occurred to her that not only was this happening, but it was happening now, not at some distant date in the future. He was going to move out in the morning. “I'll sleep in the guest room tonight,” he said, moving toward the bathroom to gather up his things, and instinctively she reached out and grabbed his arm.

“I don't want you to,” she said loudly. “I don't want Wim to know what's happening if he sees you in there.” And there was more to it than that. She wanted him next to her, for one last night. It had never dawned on her that night when she dressed for their dinner party that this was going to be the last day and night of their marriage. She wondered if he knew he was going to tell her that night. She felt like a fool now remembering how worried she had been about him when he looked tired as he came in. This was obviously what had been eating at him, not the merger.

“Are you sure you don't mind my sleeping here?” he asked, looking worried. He wondered if she was going to do something insane, like try to kill herself or him, but he could see in her eyes that she wouldn't. She was heartbroken, but not unbalanced. “I can go back to the city now, if you prefer.” To Rachel. To his new life. Away from her forever. It was the last thing she wanted, as Paris looked at him and shook her head.

“I want you to stay.” Forever. For better or worse, until death do us part, just like you promised twenty-four years ago. She couldn't help but wonder how he could throw their life away and forget those vows. Easily, apparently. For a thirty-one-year-old woman and two little boys. It was as though the years he had shared with Paris had vanished in the blink of an eye.

He nodded and went to put his pajamas on, as she sat in the chair and stared into space. And when he came back, he got into bed, lay there stiffly, and then turned off his light. And then after a long moment, he spoke without looking at her, or reaching out. She could hardly hear his voice as she blew her nose.

“I'm sorry, Paris…I never thought this would happen…. I'll do anything I can to make this easier for you. I just didn't know what else to do.” He sounded helpless and forlorn as he lay in their bed for the last time.

“You can still give her up. Will you at least think about it?” she said, loving him so much she was not afraid to beg. Getting rid of Rachel was her only hope.

There was a long silence from the bed, and finally he answered her. “No, I won't. It's too late for that. There's no turning back now.”

“Is she pregnant?” Paris asked, sounding horrified. She hadn't even thought of that. But even if she was, Paris would rather suffer the indignity of an illegitimate child of his than lose him entirely. It had happened to other men before, and their marriages managed to survive. If he wanted it to, theirs could as well. But he didn't want to preserve their marriage. That much was obvious to her.

“No, she's not pregnant. I just think I'm doing the right thing for me, maybe for both of us. I love you, but I don't feel about us the way I used to. You deserve more than that. You need to find someone who loves you the way I once did.”

“That's a rotten thing to say. What am I supposed to do? Put out ads? You're just tossing me out there, like a fish you're throwing back, and telling me to find someone else. How convenient for you. I've been married to you for more than half my life. I love you. I would have stayed married to you till I died. What am I supposed to do?” Just thinking about what he was doing to her filled her with terror and despair. She had never felt so frightened in her entire life. Her life as she had known it had ended, and the future seemed fraught with terror and danger and misery. The last thing she wanted was to find someone else. All she wanted was him. They were married. To her, that was sacred. And apparently less so to him.

“You're beautiful, and intelligent, and a good person. You're a wonderful woman, Paris, and a good wife. Some man is going to be lucky to have you. I'm just not the right one anymore. Something changed.… I don't know what it is, or why … but I know it did. I can't be here anymore.” She sat and stared at him for a long time, and then slowly got up out of her chair, and went to stand next to him, on his side of the bed, and sobbing quietly, she sank to her knees, and bowed her head on the bed. He lay there in bed, staring up at the ceiling, afraid to look at her, as tears rolled out of the corners of his eyes and onto his pillow, and gently he stroked her hair. For all its tender agony, and all the ancient feelings it evoked in both of them, they both knew that it was the last moment of its kind they would ever share.

Chapter 2

The next morning dawned in utter splendor with an insultingly brilliant blue sky and bright sun. Paris wanted it to be rainy and gloomy outside, as she turned over in bed and remembered what had happened the night before. And as soon as she did, she began to cry and looked over to find Peter, but he was already in the bathroom, shaving. And she put on a bathrobe and went downstairs to make coffee for both of them. She felt as though she had been trapped in some surreal tragic movie the night before, and maybe if she talked to him coherently in the bright light of day, everything would change. But she needed coffee first. As though she had been beaten, every inch of her ached. She hadn't bothered to comb her hair or brush her teeth, and her carefully applied makeup from the night before was streaked below her eyes and on her face. Wim looked up in surprise as she walked in. He was eating toast and drinking orange juice, and he frowned when he saw his mother. He had never seen her look that way before, and wondered if she'd had too much to drink at the party and was hung over, or maybe she was sick.

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