Facetsby Barbara Delinsky, Joyce Bean
Writer Hillary Cox and jewelry magnate John St. George are engaged in a fiery and passionate romance--until he announces on national television that he is marrying another woman. Determined to destroy him, Hillary must compete with John's half-sister Pam, who wants to ruin him by seizing control of Facets, their family's gem business. Set against the glittering backdrop of the jewelry industry, the two women face a cunning and unscrupulous adversary--with shocking results.
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By Barbara Delinsky
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 1990 Barbara Delinsky
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNew York, March 1990
OF ALL THE THINGS HE'D DONE to her in the past, of all the things he hadn't done or either might have or should have, his betrayal now was the cruelest. Hillary Cox stared at the television screen long after his image had faded. Her mind was nearly as blank, wiped clean by disbelief, shock, and pain.
Sweeping the long auburn waves from her face, she turned and stared at the carpet. But there were no answers to be found in the thick crimson pile.
Engaged? John was engaged?
She swallowed hard. The remote control fell from her thighs to the floor as she got up and wandered distractedly around the den. The room wasn't large. Nor was the rest of her apartment, but it was the best she could afford on Manhattan's Upper East Side, which was where she wanted to live, where she wanted to be with John. She had rented it as much to satisfy her own pride as to suit him. He was a man of means. Someplace shabby would never have appealed to him.
If he'd given her money, she might have had a bigger place. But then she would have felt more like a whore than she did now.
Her step faltered. She hadn't ever sold herself. Her feelings for John had always been deep, and whether they were of love, hate, respect, or contempt, she had been faithful to him for many years. She was no whore. A fool, perhaps. But not a whore.
She moved from the back of one chintz-covered chair to another, and then to the front of a simple cherrywood table she used as a desk. Her fingertips skimmed the papers and magazines strewn haphazardly on its top. She knew exactly what was where. John had never been able to understand that. In his mind, organization was crucial and neatness its prerequisite.
At the bookshelf she paused to touch the CD player he had given her the Christmas before, then the Steuben owl of a couple of Christmases earlier, then the framed picture she had taken of him several Christmases before that. He was a handsome devil, dark-haired and dark-eyed with features that were aristocratic enough to foil the occasional primitive look. She had seen him mature over the years, had watched his shoulders broaden, his five o'clock shadow thicken, his sideburns don a silver lining. Twenty-seven years was a long time to know a man, but she hadn't counted until now. She'd just assumed there would be many years ahead for them.
A knot tightened inside her.
He couldn't be engaged, she told herself. John wasn't the marrying kind. He had reached fifty without speaking his vows, had attained extraordinary success without benefit of a wife. There was no earthly reason why he would choose to take one now-and John never did anything without reason.
Fallen in love? No, not John.
But he had said he was engaged. On nationwide television, he had said he was engaged.
Feeling a pang in the pit of her stomach, she turned from the imperious face in the picture and resumed her pacing. Moments later she found herself at the door of her bedroom, leaning weakly against the jamb, staring at the bed. It was carefully dressed in its white satin cover as it hadn't been the weekend before. There had been no point in making it up then. She and John hadn't left it for long.
Her breath came less evenly in the wake of memory. John was an incredible lover. He was demanding but rewarding, and if there were times when he was a little rough, she liked that, too. It was a change from the civilized veneer he showed the world. She took pride in sparking that roughness. It was a sign of power, proof that she did things for John that no other woman could.
On Sunday afternoon he had headed back to Boston, Facets' home base. She hadn't heard from him since, but that was his style. She had adapted to it over the years by making the best out of a situation she couldn't change. John did what he wanted. He answered to no one.
Engaged? It wasn't possible.
Or was it?
She paced with growing agitation. She wouldn't have thought twice if she had read of his engagement in the National Enquirer. Lord knew the tabloid had announced the same before. But that had always been wild speculation, pairing him with women he hardly knew or could barely abide.
The interview on 20/20 was different. The show had credibility. So did Janet Curry. She was a mature, elegant woman, a fixture in Boston society, in her midforties, newly widowed and financially set. Hillary knew that John had dated her. He'd told her so. But he hadn't mentioned an engagement-not when she'd seen him at the time of the show's filming a month before, nor during last weekend.
As the meaning of that sank in, so did the hurt. If the engagement was for real, John had been making love to her well after he'd committed himself to Janet, which cheapened both their lovemaking and Hillary herself. Moreover, if he got married, there would be a steady woman by his side and in his bed. A steady, legitimate woman. And it wouldn't be Hillary.
Fighting off a wave of panic, she crossed to the nightstand, picked up the phone, and hastily punched out Pam's number. Pam would know the truth. After all, she was John's sister. Surely he'd have shared such news with her.
Then again, he might not have. Hillary pressed the disconnect button. Although Pam was deeply involved in the family business, she and John weren't close. It was no wonder. John was a bastard.
And who better to confirm his plans than the bastard himself. Punching out the number of John's Beacon Hill townhouse, she waited through four long rings, growing more anxious with each.
"St. George residence." There was noise in the background.
"Christian, this is Hillary Cox." She spoke firmly, with as much authority as she could muster, given the probability that if she was a has-been in John's life, his houseboy would know it. "Is John there?"
During the few seconds it took him to answer, she identified the background noise. There were people there. Their voices blended into a single, cacophonous drone. "He's here, Miss Cox, but he's occupied at the moment." She heard a peal of laughter. "May I tell him you called?"
She had the disconcerting suspicion that there was a party going on. "Now," she insisted. "Tell him I'm on the phone and that I'd like to talk with him now."
"Perhaps it would be better-"
"Please, Christian. This is urgent."
Some of her desperation must have reached him. After a brief pause, then a short directive, Christian put her on hold.
The sudden silence was worse for the voices she'd heard before. They haunted her, making her feel shut out, and while she'd felt excluded from John's life many times in the past, this time was harder. It was one thing to be excluded when everyone else was, another thing to be shut out when others so clearly were not.
"Hillary?" His voice came as low and composed as ever. The background chatter was gone. She pictured him in the library, surrounded by walls of books he'd never read, his long lean fingers propped on the gleaming mahogany desk. He would have shut the door to ensure his privacy, a need that suddenly smacked of guilt.
"What's going on, John?"
He seemed oblivious to the strained tone of her voice. "How are you?"
"Did you see the show?" He spoke slowly, deliberately.
"Of course. That's what-"
"What did you think?"
"I don't know. That's why-"
"It wasn't bad." His tone smoothly countered the under statement. "Those shows can be poison. As charming as the interviewer may seem in person, once the filming is done and the editing begins, the brightest man can sound moronic."
Hillary was losing what little composure she had. "John, what was-"
"I came across well, I think. I'm pleased."
"So are a lot of other people, from the way it sounded when Christian answered the phone." She hurried the words out before he cut her off again. "What's going on?"
He was silent for a moment. "A few friends dropped in to celebrate."
"They must have had great timing. The show hasn't been over for fifteen minutes." Which could mean only one thing. "They watched it with you, didn't they?"
"Several. Three? Eight? Twenty?" She made no attempt to hide her hurt. "John, I'd have come too, if I'd known you were having a party. But I wasn't invited. You didn't want me there. You rarely do. And you won't now." She took a quick breath. "Is it true? Are you and Janet engaged?"
He hesitated. "I'll call you back later, Hillary."
"No. Now. Are you engaged?" He didn't answer. "Are you marrying her?" Still there was no response. "Tell me, John."
"We'll discuss it later."
"I have to know now. It was bad enough hearing it on television. How could you do that to me?" she cried. Once the pain started tearing from her, it wouldn't stop. "How could you do it like that? After all the years, all the time we've been together, how could you let me find out along with millions of other people? Didn't you think I'd be hurt?"
"Not now, Hillary."
He sounded annoyed, but she didn't care. "You don't love her. I know you, John. You don't love her. You love yourself and those damned stores. So why are you marrying her? You have the power you've always wanted. My God, after tonight you'll have newspapers and magazines banging down your door for interviews. You've got money. You've got fame. So why do you want her? She isn't gorgeous. My looks are better. And she can't give you what you need. I'm the one who does that. All these years, it's been me."
His voice was tight. "Hillary, this isn't the time or place-"
"And speaking of time and place, what was last weekend about? You were with me, John. For forty-eight hours you were with me, doing every intimate little thing we've been doing for years. If you were engaged to her, what in the hell were you doing with me?" She wrapped a trembling hand around her middle. "Tell me that, John. What was last weekend about?"
"Last weekend was about us," he answered, clearly angry that he'd been pushed. "It's what we've always been and done."
"But you're engaged to marry someone else!"
Hillary's mouth fell open. "So? So you're two-timing her!"
"Janet will benefit from this marriage. She'll get the protection she lost when Turner died. She'll have someone to take control of her life again, which is what she's missed. I never promised her fidelity, and she hasn't asked for it."
"Then you think you're going to keep it up with me while you're married to her?"
"She won't mind."
"Well, I will!"
"I don't see why." He sounded totally serious. "We've been involved before, you and I, while I've been seeing other women."
"But you've never been married to any of them!"
"And you've suddenly turned righteous? Come off it, Hillary. What difference will my being married make?"
"A big difference."
"No, it won't change a thing between you and me. We'll see each other as often as we ever did. My relationship with Janet is a rational thing. It's convenient. It gets hangers-on off both of our backs. It quiets skeptics. I'm not looking for passion from her. I get that from you."
"But you're marrying her!"
"And you refuse to carry on with a married man? Try again." His voice hardened. "What is it you want? Money? Jewels? Company stock?"
His words hit her like a slap in the face. He was so far off the mark, so far from understanding her, even after all the years they'd known each other. As long as she'd been mistress to a man who shunned marriage, she'd been able to abide the other women who had come and gone in his life. After all, she was the one who remained. John always returned to her, and that had been some solace for all else she might have wanted from him. Now, though, he was giving another woman his name, putting another on a pedestal that had previously been empty. The issue was self-respect. Hillary had too much pride to have her relationship with him finally and deliberately spelled out, reduced to its lowest common denominator.
His presence on the other end of the line suddenly grew grating. Given how raw she felt, it was too much. "Go to hell," she muttered and hung up, then stared at the phone, praying that it would ring, that he would call back.
But she knew he wouldn't. He wouldn't give her a sign that he cared, and he certainly wouldn't apologize. He was too arrogant for that. Instead, he would turn off the light in the library and return to his party, well aware that she would know he was doing just that as she sat alone in New York. He would let the pain of her imaginings be punishment for having hung up on him.
And so she felt punished. Picturing him with a parlor full of people, one of whom was certainly his fiancée, all no doubt in awe of him for having pulled off such a smashing publicity coup on network television, was torture. Hugging herself, she rocked back and forth on the edge of her bed, but the movement did little to ease her misery. Nor did prowling through the apartment. She felt odd, empty in a gut-wrenching kind of way, yet filled with emotions that all clamored for her attention. Sadness, pain, anger, loneliness, fear-she didn't know which to address first.
She threw on a long coat and sought refuge in the March night. The air was cool and welcome. Clutching her coat closed, she strode quickly along the city sidewalk, past brownstones and storefronts and many people who were also strolling the streets at midnight. Just then she was glad that New York never slept. Seeing others who were alone, she didn't feel quite so lonely.
Then again, she had always prided herself on being a step above such urban isolation. No matter how much time she spent alone-and as a writer she spent plenty-there was always the knowledge that she had John. Even when months went by between visits, she knew he was there. They didn't talk on the phone. They didn't write letters. But he was there, and she knew that when he was ready he would come to her.
She walked on and on. At length, feeling chilled despite the exertion, she headed back to her apartment. Her answering machine showed a single message. Telling herself it had to be John, she felt a surge of pure happiness and activated the machine.
"Hi, Hillary." Her heart fell. "It's Pam. I really want to talk with you, but I'm not home, so you can't call me back. I'll try you again in the morning."
The machine beeped off. Had it been John, she might have saved the message in order to hear his voice again and again. Instead, she stood where she was, weighed down by disappointment. She loved Pam. But John's voice was the one she craved.
She wanted to talk with someone, wanted to shriek and cry on a sympathetic shoulder, but Pam wasn't home, and she couldn't bother friends at this late hour.
In truth, with the exception of Pam, Hillary wouldn't have dared call her friends. John was a touchy subject, one she had long ago learned to keep to herself. Few of her friends had met him. Several didn't even know his identity, only that she had a lover of long standing. None of them could understand why she put up with him. They thought she was crazy to wait out the silence between visits, crazy to let him come and go without making any kind of formal commitment. Every woman had a right to protect her interests, they claimed, and though she had always argued that she was self-sufficient enough not to need that where John was concerned, maybe they were right. If she were to call now and complain about what he had done, she would be in for a string of I-told-you-so's. She wasn't up for that.
The night seemed endless. She was too wound up to sleep, too wound up even to sit still for long. No diversion worked. She played soft music, drank mellow wine, soaked in a bath that should have drained the tension from her limbs. But all the while she thought of John, and the pain inside gave no quarter.
With the coming of dawn she was a bundle of nerves. She watched the first needles of sunlight pierce the concrete canyons of her street, watched the delivery truck bring the newspapers. She went down for hers, carried it back upstairs, opened to the society page, and died a little. The article wasn't large. John wasn't royalty yet. But the mention was there, four full paragraphs on the imminent marriage of one of the East Coast's most eligible bachelors. With shaky desperation, she hid it under yesterday's paper on the kitchen counter.
She took a hot shower, dressed, looked at her watch. It was barely seven-thirty. Pam would be up. But she didn't want to call her. She was too upset to talk. So she went to her desk, determined to work, but she couldn't think of a thing to write.
She needed air. Grabbing her coat from where she'd thrown it the night before, she went out walking again. She took deep breaths. She made eye contact with the few other early Saturday morning walkers she passed. She held her head high. Inevitably, though, at each corner stand, her attention fell to the papers. Finally, unable to resist, she bought the one that she didn't have, tucked it under her arm, and went home.
Excerpted from Facets by Barbara Delinsky Copyright © 1990 by Barbara Delinsky. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Barbara Delinsky has more than thirty million copies of her books in print, in twenty-five different languages. Her novels regularly appear on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Publishers Weekly, making her one of America’s best-known and beloved authors.
- Newton, Massachusetts
- Date of Birth:
- August 9, 1945
- Place of Birth:
- Boston, Massachusetts
- B.A. in Psychology, Tufts University, 1967; M.A. in Sociology, Boston College, 1969
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This book was horrible. I always enjoyed her books but this was a waste of time for me.
Just finished this book, the first I have read by this author, but by no means the last! I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and am anxious to read some of her other works. I hope they are as good as this one was.
Was not sure I would like this but it was a quick and delightful read
Barbara Delinsky never disappoints. She catches your interest in the very beginning of the book and you find it hard to find a place in the story to put it down.
There was family in-fighting, mystery and suspense. It was a great page-turner!
I discovered Barbara by accident, but this book is one of my favorites of hers so far. It was hard to get into at first, but once I got it, I couldn't put it down.
GOOD CHARACTERS, GOOD STORYLINE, GREAT FOR BEACH! THOROUGHLY ENJOYED! DIDN'T WANT TO END - COULDN'T WAIT TO FINISH!
Loved this book - a few twists and turns - emotional revelations - definitely recommend it!