Good Intentionsby Joy Fielding
Lynn Schuster is expecting a visit from a man named Marc, a man she has never met but with whom she has something in common--her husband and his wife have just run off together. Marc has called to say there are "things she should know". But when they meet, neither of them is prepared for the powerful sexual attraction they feel.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)
Read an Excerpt
She knew she was in trouble the minute she saw him.
“Lynn Schuster?” he asked as she slowly opened the front door.
“Marc Cameron?” she asked in return. They both nodded. Good, Lynn thought, stepping back to let him come inside. We know who we are. “Come in,” she said, guiding him toward her living room.
He carefully observed all the niceties of the first-time visitor: her home was lovely; it was nice of her to agree to see him, especially under the circumstances; he hoped he wasn’t inconveniencing her too much. To which she replied: thank you; no problem; he wasn’t inconveniencing her at all. Could he tell she was lying?
“Would you like a cup of coffee?” she asked, not something she had been planning to offer, but he said no, thank you, and then sat down on the green-and-white-striped chair across from the similarly colored floral-print sofa, and stared at her for several seconds without speaking.
Why was he here? Why had she agreed to see him?
“Is something wrong?” she finally asked, carefully avoiding his eyes, which were blue and serious. Seriously blue, she mused, feeling her knees go weak. Like a silly schoolgirl, she thought, and sat down on the sofa,
wondering if the attraction she was feeling was mutual, or just obvious.
“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice deep, his tone quizzical. “I thought I had it all worked out.”
“All what worked out?” she asked, hoping suddenly that he would leave without telling her. His presence upset her in ways she was unprepared to deal with. Of all the reactions she had been preparing herself for since he had phoned and said he was coming over, she was least prepared for this one–to be physically attracted to this man! It just wouldn’t do, she thought, looking just past him toward the silver-framed photograph of her with her husband and two children, which sat by the front window.
Marc Cameron was tall, as tall as the man in the photograph, and like Gary’s, her husband of fourteen years, his hair was thinning a bit on top. Unlike Gary, however, Marc Cameron’s hair was still quite thick, even long, at the sides, where it curved toward his chin and formed a neatly trimmed, reddish-tinged beard. But while Gary was slender, this man was big, almost bulky. He was totally unlike anyone to whom she had ever felt herself even remotely attracted.
This was a temporary aberration, surely, she decided, fidgeting, an unwanted, unwarranted visceral reaction to a set of rather peculiar circumstances.
“This is awkward.”
“Yes, it is.”
Silence. Deep breath. Then another. The first one from him, the next from her.
“You said there were things I should know,” Lynn ventured, silently cursing her innate professionalism.
“I guess that sounded pretty melodramatic.”
Lynn shrugged, as if to say: What can you do? and waited for him to continue, not trusting her own voice.
“This whole thing has hit me pretty hard,” he said finally. “Do you have a drink?”
It was obvious from his pronounced inflection that he wasn’t referring to the coffee she had just offered. “There’s some beer in the fridge,” she began, about to continue when his voice stopped her.
“Beer is great. If you don’t mind.”
She minded but she said she didn’t, and excused herself to go into the kitchen to get it for him. She hoped by doing so to place some distance between them, to use the few seconds to give her back the objectivity she would require to get herself through this conversation, but he was right behind her.
“Who’s the artist?” he asked, indicating the many bright-colored sketches that were taped to the refrigerator door.
“Both my children like to draw,” Lynn answered, volunteering nothing further.
“You can always separate people who have young children from those who don’t by looking at their refrigerator doors.” Marc Cameron smiled. “I have two boys. Twins. Jake and Teddy. They’re five. They’re very heavy into finger painting at the moment. My fridge is similarly covered.”
“Is this about them?” Lynn asked abruptly, determining to end this visit as quickly as possible.
“Why you’re here. What you want to tell me. Does it have anything to do with our children?”
“No.” He took the bottle of beer from her outstretched hand.
“Oh, sorry, did you want a glass? Gary never drank beer from a glass.” She thought she saw him wince at the sound of her husband’s name. “He always preferred it straight from the bottle.”
“Then I’d like a glass.”
Lynn smiled despite her intense desire not to, and reached into the cupboard to get him one of the tall, curved glasses she’d bought Gary one Father’s Day, glasses he hadn’t bothered to take with him when he left.
“You’re not having one?” he asked.
“I don’t like beer.”
“I’m not surprised,” he said. “Neither does Suzette.”
Lynn tried to smile, as she had smiled effortlessly only seconds earlier, but at the sound of his wife’s name, she felt her lips gather together in a series of unattractive wrinkles, as if she had just sucked on a lemon. She was trying to appear sophisticated about all this, but he wasn’t making it easy.
His phone call had caught her off guard. “This is Marc Cameron,” he had announced. “I’d like to come over and talk to you. I think there are some things you should know.”
At first she hadn’t known who he was or what he was talking about, although he obviously assumed she did. His name meant nothing, although she thought it a handsome name.
“I’m sorry,” she began. “I don’t know who . . .”
“Suzette’s husband,” he explained, and then was silent.
Standing alone in the living room of her small, three-bedroom bungalow, Lynn had tried to visualize the man, although they had never met. What exactly did he want to tell her? Experience had taught her that information others felt she should know was usually the last thing in the world she wanted to hear.
“I don’t think it would be a very good idea . . .” she had told him, feeling her throat go dry and the words stick to the roof of her mouth.
“I don’t see what . . .”
“Please,” he had said, adding that it was only a fifteen-minute drive from his apartment in Palm Beach to her home in Delray Beach.
“All right,” she had agreed reluctantly, knowing she was probably making a mistake. “In an hour. I’d like to get my children in bed first.”
“An hour,” he’d repeated. “Oh, and I don’t think I’d say anything to anyone about my visit.”
“Who would I tell?” she’d asked, then heard the line go dead.
She’d promptly called her lawyer at home. “Renee,” she spoke clearly into the receiver, responding with only a hint of impatience to the answering machine, “this is Lynn Schuster, and I’m sorry to bother you at home but I thought this might be important. It’s ten minutes after eight, and I just had a rather interesting phone call. If you’re back in the next hour, give me a call. Otherwise, I’ll speak to you in the morning.” Then she’d folded up the reports she’d been working on, large white sheets of paper spread out across the glass top of her dining-room table like a fine linen tablecloth, except that someone had scribbled all over this one, and stuffed them back into her already well-stuffed leather briefcase. She’d have to get up at least an hour earlier in the morning to finish them off, but she recognized that there was no point in trying to concentrate on work now. Not when, in another hour, a man who referred to himself as “Suzette’s husband” would be in her home to tell her some things he thought she should know.
What things? she’d wondered then, as she was wondering now. And how else should he refer to himself if not as Suzette’s husband? Wasn’t that precisely who he was? At least until the divorce? Was she still not Gary’s wife, after all? At least until the divorce?
It was all too confusing, although it was simple enough once you broke it down. Her husband had left her for another woman. A married woman. That woman’s husband had called her on the phone approximately one hour ago and asked if he might come over; there were some things he thought she should know.
The hour between his phone call and his arrival had passed in something of a blur. Lynn recalled lingering by the telephone for several minutes before suddenly throwing herself into action, scurrying down the long hall to her bedroom, past the bedrooms of her son and her daughter. Seven-year-old Nicholas had already fallen asleep. Lynn had walked to the side of his bed, pulled the covers he had kicked off back up to his shoulders, gently pushed some stray yellow hairs away from his round little face, and kissed his forehead. He hadn’t moved. Lynn had stood for a minute and studied her younger child, surprised to find him so still. Even in sleep, Nicholas was usually one of those children who never stopped moving. Lynn found herself bending forward until her face was only inches from his lips so that she could feel the warmth of his breath and reassure herself that he was still breathing, something she hadn’t done since he was an infant. He’d suddenly sighed and turned onto his side, almost hitting Lynn’s nose with his curled fist. Lynn smiled, kissed him again, and left the room.
Ten-year-old Megan was sitting on her bedroom floor, completely wrapped up in the latest Nancy Drew novel, which Lynn had found strangely comforting. It provided her with a sense of continuity, something lately missing from her life. She had read Nancy Drew herself as a girl and she enjoyed the fact that she had at least one thing in common with her older child, who, in every other respect, resembled her father. Like Gary, his daughter was quiet and intense. She had her father’s mouth and his same head for figures. (If Lynn has one apple, she’d found herself thinking as she continued down the hall to her room, and Suzette takes that apple, how many apples does Lynn have left?)
She’d reluctantly confronted her image in the mirror across from her unmade queen-size bed, and run a careless brush through her naturally curly shoulder-length brown hair. Then she’d applied a quick smudge of rose-colored lipstick across her full mouth and just a hint of blush to her pale cheeks. Despite her lifelong Florida residency, Lynn was one of those people who were incapable of tanning. She burned bright tomato red within a few minutes of exposure to the sun, unlike Gary and both their children, whose complexions were naturally golden brown. (If Lynn has one tomato and Suzette takes that tomato . . . ) The sun isn’t good for you anyway, she’d thought, applying a small amount of navy mascara to her eyelashes, remembering her mother’s advice that mascara was all the makeup a woman really needed, and wondering why she was going to all this effort for someone she was fully prepared to hate on sight.
“Are you going out?” Megan had asked, suddenly appearing in the doorway, her subtle Southern drawl masking the fear behind the seemingly simple question.
“No, sweetheart,” Lynn said to the child, who was, at five feet two, only three inches shorter than herself. “But someone’s coming over here.”
“A client,” Lynn lied, and felt her cheeks flush.
“A man?” Megan pressed, her soft voice hardening, her shoulders stiffening.
“Yes,” Lynn replied, trying to keep her voice steady. “He sounded pretty upset on the phone, so if he gets here before you’ve gone to bed, I’d appreciate it if you’d stay in your room.”
“Why can’t he come to your office?”
“Because . . . he just can’t. Are you ready for bed?”
“Do I look ready?” Megan asked incredulously, her child’s body beneath her cotton jumpsuit threatening to burst into full bloom at any moment.
“I suggest you get ready,” her mother said, as pleasantly as possible. Megan, slender, with her blonde hair, tawny skin, and gold-flecked brown eyes, fixed her mother with the guilt-inducing stare she had lately turned into something of an art form. Was it Lynn’s imagination or did puberty seem to be happening earlier these days?
“Are you wearing perfume?” the child asked accusingly. Then before Lynn could reply: “Are you going to change your clothes?”
Lynn looked down at the white jeans and red-striped jersey she had changed into when she got home from work. “I’m not wearing perfume,” she answered steadily, “and what’s wrong with what I have on?”
“It’s not very businesslike,” Megan said succinctly.
“It’ll have to do. Have you changed yet?” Lynn asked pointedly.
Again the look that reduced cities to rubble. Lynn felt suddenly lost. Why had she agreed to meet this man? Wasn’t it bad enough that her husband had left her for another woman? Wasn’t it humiliation enough in a small town like Delray Beach that the woman he’d abandoned her for was, from all accounts, neither especially young nor particularly pretty? Did she really have to suffer through the woman’s husband as well? Did the fact that their respective spouses had left them for each other mean they were, in some perverse way, related?
She’d made her bed with painstaking care–there were few things she hated more than climbing into an unmade bed–straightened up the living room, and finally tucked a strangely clingy Megan into her four-poster brass bed, completing all these tasks only moments before she heard the front doorbell ring.
“There’s someone at the door,” Megan called out, chillingly wide awake.
“I know, sweetheart,” Lynn said as she passed her room, lowering her voice to emphasize that it was time for the child to be asleep, then proceeded to the front hall, making minor adjustments to her hair along the way and trying to maneuver her lips into a smile. Taking three quick deep breaths, she’d thrown open the front door.
“Lynn Schuster?” the man on the other side had asked.
It wasn’t that peculiar, she told herself now, leading him back into her living room, that she should feel such a strong physical attraction for this man. She and Suzette (the name stuck in her throat) obviously shared the same taste in men. Was Marc Cameron a lawyer as well?
“Are you a lawyer?” she asked, resuming her position on the sofa, thinking that by being the one to ask the questions, she retained at least a semblance of control.
Marc Cameron walked to the large front window of the comfortable, predominantly green living room and stared out into the starless night. “You can almost hear the ocean,” he said, more to himself than to her, then: “No, I’m a writer."
Meet the Author
Joy Fielding is the author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller The First Time, and other bestselling novels including The Deep End, Whispers and Lies, Puppet, and Mad River Road. She divides her time between Toronto and Palm Beach.
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I have read still life by this author.I'm going to start good intention.....Just wondered why whispers and lies is not on nook.....I would like to read it..
Lynn Schuster has an interesting dilemma. When her husband leaves her for another woman, she becomes involved with that woman's husband. It becomes a trade off that ultimately leads to divorce. Lynn's divorce attorney, Renee Bower (she pronounces REnee, rhymes with beanie, not ReNEE, which rhymes with day). A tiger in the courtroom, Renee metamorphasizes into a floormat for her abusive husband and vile brat of a stepdaughter. The stepdaughter is sneaky, cruel and spiteful. She tries to pit Renee and her father against one another; early in the book, she interrupts their intimacy by crying over a nightmare she allegedly has about Renee killing her father. Electra complex. It is impossible to believe a 16-year-old would cry over a dream. It is also impossible to believe that Renee would meekly put up with this disgusting girl as long as she did. Any 16-year-old capable of making restaurant reservations and forcing her stepmother to confront her father's lover is way too old to cry over a dream which I doubt she had. The story climaxes in a splash of unchecked emotions. This one is just okay.