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Everything to Gain and A Secret Affair
By Barbara Taylor Bradford
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Barbara Taylor Bradford
All right reserved.
Indian Meadows Connecticut, July 1988
I awakened with a sudden start, as though someone had touched my shoulder, and I half expected to see Andrew standing over me as I blinked in the dim room. But he was not there. How could he be? He was in Chicago on business, and I was here in Connecticut.
Pulling the covers over me more securely, I slid farther down into the bed, hoping to fall asleep again. I soon realized there was no chance of that, since my mind had already started to race. Andrew and I had quarreled earlier in the week, and that silly little row, over something so petty I could scarcely bear to think about it now, still hovered between us.
I should have swallowed my pride and called him last night, I admonished myself. I had thought about it, but I had not done so. He hadn't phoned me either, as was his custom normally when he was away, and I was worried things would get blown out of all proportion; then our weekend together, which I had been so looking forward to, would be spoiled.
I'll make it right when he gets here tomorrow, I resolved. I'll apologize, even though it really wasn't my fault. I hated to have rifts with anyone I loved; it has always been that way with me.
Restlessly, I slipped out of bed and went to the window. Raising the shade, I peered out, wondering what kind of day it was going to be.
A band of clear, crystalline light was edging its way along the rim of the distant horizon. The sky above it was still ashy, cold and remote, tinged slightly with green at this early hour just before dawn broke. I shivered and reached for my cotton robe. It was cool in the bedroom, almost frosty, with the air conditioner set at sixty degrees, where I'd positioned it last night in an effort to counteract the intense July heat. I flicked it off as I left the bedroom and headed along the upstairs hallway toward the staircase.
It was dim and shadowy downstairs and smelled faintly of apples and cinnamon and beeswax and full-blown summer roses, smells which I loved and invariably associated with the country. I turned on several lamps as I moved through the silent, slumbering house and went into the kitchen; once I had put on the coffee, I swung around and made my way to the sunroom.
Unlocking the French doors, I stepped outside onto the wide, paved terrace which surrounded the house and saw that the sky had already undergone a vast change. I caught my breath, marveling as I always did at the extraordinary morning light, a light peculiar to these northern Connecticut climes. It was luminous, eerily beautiful, and it appeared to emanate from some secret source far, far below the horizon.
There were no skies like this anywhere in the world, as far as I knew, except, of course, for Yorkshire; I have come across some truly spectacular skies there, most especially on the moors.
Light has always fascinated me, perhaps because I am a painter by avocation and have a tendency to look at nature through an artist's eyes. I remember the first time I ever saw a painting by Turner, one of his masterpieces hanging in the Tate Gallery in London. I stood in front of it for a full hour, totally riveted, marveling at the incandescent light that gave the picture its breathtaking beauty. But then, capturing light on canvas so brilliantly and with such uncanny precision was part of Turner's great genius.
I don't have that kind of gift, I'm afraid; I'm merely a talented amateur who paints for pleasure. Nonetheless, there are times when I wish I could re-create a Connecticut sky in one of my paintings, get it just right, just once, and this morning was one of those times. But I knew, deep down, that I would never be capable of doing it.
After lingering for a few minutes longer on the terrace outside the sunroom, I turned and walked around the house, heading for the back. Heavy dew clung to the grass, and I lifted my nightgown and robe as I walked across the lawns, not wishing to get them drenched.
The light was changing yet again. By the time I reached the ridge overlooking the valley, the sky above me was suffused with a pale, silvery radiance; the bleak, gray remnants of the night were finally obliterated.
Sitting down on the wrought-iron seat under the apple tree, I leaned back and relaxed. I love this time of day, just before the world awakens, when everything is so quiet, so still I might be the only person alive on this planet.
I closed my eyes momentarily, listening.
There was no sound of any kind; nothing stirred, not a leaf nor a blade of grass moved. The birds were silent, sleeping soundly in the trees, and the stillness around me was like a balm. As I sat there, drifting, thinking of nothing in particular, my anxiety about Andrew began slowly to slip away.
I knew with absolute certainty that everything would be all right once he arrived and we made up; it always was whenever there had been a bit of friction between us. There was no reason why this time should be different. One of the marvelous things about Andrew is his ability to put events of today and yesterday behind him, to look forward to tomorrow. It was not in his nature to harbor a grudge. He was far too big a man for that. Consequently, he quickly forgot our small, frequently silly quarrels and differences of opinion. We are much alike in that, he and I. Fortunately, we both have the ability to move forward optimistically.
I have been married to Andrew Keswick for ten years now. In fact, next week, on the twelfth of July, we will be celebrating our wedding anniversary.
We met in 1978, when I was twenty-three years old and he was thirty-one. It was one of those proverbial whirlwind romances, except that ours, fortunately, did not fizzle out as so many do. Our relationship just grew better and better as time went on. That he swept me off my feet is a gross understatement. I fell blindly, madly, irrevocably in love with him. And he with me, as I was eventually to discover.
Andrew, who is English, had been living in New York for seven years when we met. He was considered to be one of the boy wonders of Madison Avenue, one of those naturals in the advertising business who can make an agency not only fabulously successful but incredibly famous as well, attracting a flock of prestigious multinational clients. I worked in the copy department of the same agency, Blau, Ames, Braddock and Suskind, and at the time, despite my lowly position, I rather fancied myself a writer of slick but convincing advertising copy.
Andrew Keswick seemed to agree.
If his compliments about my work went to my head, then he himself went straight to my heart. Of course, I was very young then, and even though I was a graduate of Radcliffe, I think I was most probably rather na-ve for my educational background, age, and upbringing. I was a slow starter, I suppose.
In any event, Andrew captivated me entirely. Despite his brilliance and his standing on Madison Avenue, I soon came to realize that he was not in the least bit egotistical. Quite the opposite, in fact. He was unassuming, even modest for a man of his considerable talents; also, he had a great sense of fun and a dry humor which was often rather self-deprecating.
To me he was a dashing and sophisticated figure, and his very Englishness, as well as his mellifluous, cultivated voice set him apart. Medium of height and build, he had pleasant, clean-cut looks, dark brown hair, and candid eyes set wide apart. In fact, his eyes were his most arresting feature, of the brightest blue and thickly lashed. I don't think I've ever before seen eyes so vividly blue, nor would I ever again, except years later, in Clarissa and Jamie, our six-year-old twins.
Every young woman in the advertising agency found Andrew immensely attractive, but it was I whom he eventually singled out for special attention. We began to go out together, and at once I discovered that I was completely at ease with him; I felt comfortable, very natural in his presence. It was as though I had known him forever, yet there was so much that intrigued me about him and his life before we met, so much to learn about him.
Andrew and I had been seeing each other for only two months when he whisked me off to London for a long weekend to meet his mother. Diana Keswick and I became friends instantly, actually within the first hour of knowing each other. You could say we fell in love, and that is the way it has been between us ever since.
To some people, the term "mother-in-law" inevitably conjures up the image of an enemy, a woman who is overly possessive of her son and in competition with his wife for his attention and affection. But not Diana. She was lovely to me from the moment we met--a female Andrew. Or rather, I should say, Andrew is a male version of his mother. In a variety of different ways, she has proved to be loyal and devoted to me; I truly love, respect, and admire her. Many qualities make her unique in my eyes, not the least of which is her warm and understanding heart.
Excerpted from Everything to Gain and A Secret Affair by Barbara Taylor Bradford Copyright © 2006 by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Excerpted by permission.
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