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Scenes of Passion
By Suzanne Brockmann
Thorndike PressCopyright © 2004 Suzanne Brockmann
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTraffic on Route 95 was in a snarl again.
Maggie Stanton sat in her car, too tired even to flip radio stations to find a song that annoyed her less than the one that was playing. She was too tired to do much of anything besides breathe.
Or maybe tired wasn't the right word. Maybe discouraged was more accurate. Or downtrodden.
No, downtrodden implied a certain resistance to being trod upon.
Maggie was just plain pathetic. She was a doormat. A wimp without a life of her own.
She was twenty-nine years old and she was living at home. Yes, she'd moved back in with her parents because of the fire in her apartment.
But that was three years ago.
First her mother had asked her to stay to help with Vanessa's wedding.
When 9/11 happened, her father had asked her to keep living at home a little longer, and somehow another year had passed.
Then right after Maggie had found a terrific new place in the city, her grandmother had died, and she couldn't leave while her mother was feeling so blue.
It was now way past time to leave - a quarter past ridiculous - and her mother was making noise about how silly it would be for Maggie to get a place of her own when she was on the verge of getting married.
Uh, Mom? Don't get the invitations engraved just yet. Thebride kind of needs to be in love with the groom before that happens, doesn't she?
Although, like most of the major decisions in Maggie's life, it was possible that this one would be made by her parents, too. And she would just stand there, the way she always did, and nod and smile.
God, she was such a loser.
Maggie's cell phone rang, saving her from the additional tedium of self-loathing. "Hello?"
Someone kill her now. She was dating a man who called her pumpkin. No, she wasn't just dating him, she was - as her mother called it - preengaged.
Yes, Brock "Hey, Pumpkin" Donovan had actually asked her to marry him. Maggie had managed to stall for the past few weeks - which turned out to be an enormous mistake. She should have said no immediately, right before she ran screaming from the room. Instead, because she was a wimp and rarely screamed about anything, she'd put it off. Her wimp thinking was that she'd find the right time and place to let him down without hurting his feelings. Instead, he'd gone and told Maggie's older sister Vanessa, who was married to Brock's former college roommate, that he'd popped the question. And Van had told their parents, and ...
Segue to Mom buying Bride magazine and starting negotiations with the Hammonassett Inn.
Maggie's parents had been so excited, they'd wanted to throw a preengagement party, for crying out loud. Fortunately, the only date Mom had had available was this Saturday - the day that Eastfield Community Theater was holding auditions for their summer show.
And they knew not to schedule something on that day.
Maggie's involvement in theater was the only thing she had ever put her foot down about. Her parents had wanted her to go to Yale, so she'd gone to Yale instead of Emerson's performing arts school. Yale had a terrific drama department, but her parents had made so much noise about starving artists needing a career to fall back on, she'd majored instead in business. After college, the noise had continued, so she'd gone to law school instead of moving to New York City and auditioning for a part on a soap opera. Her father had wanted her to work for his lawyer buddies at Andersen and Brenden here in New Haven, and here she was.
Stuck in traffic after putting in a twenty-seven-hour day at A&B. Preengaged, heaven help her, to a man who called her pumpkin.
Living her life vicariously through the roles she played on stage at ECT.
Because God forbid she ever say no and disappoint anyone.
"I'm still at work," Brock told her now, over the phone. "It's crazy here. I'm going to have to cancel, sweetheart. You don't mind, do you?"
Maggie had actually taken her gym bag with her to work despite the fact that she and Brock were supposed to have dinner. More often than not, Brock canceled or arrived at the restaurant very late.
Of course, tonight was the night she'd planned to let him down. Gently, with no screaming and relatively little pain.
And yes, that was relief flooding through her, chicken that she was. There was also annoyance, she realized. This man allegedly loved her. He said he wanted to marry her, for crying out loud.
And yet his idea of wooing her was to repeatedly break dinner dates at the last minute.
She could imagine their wedding day - Brock calling her as she sat dressed in her wedding gown in a sleek white limo being driven to the church.
"Pumpkin!" he'd boom over the cell phone's little speaker. "Something's come up. Compu- dime's systems have gone haywire! They need me in Dallas, pronto. We're going to have to reschedule - you don't mind, do you?"
And there it was - one of the reasons Brock wanted to marry her. She was so completely, idiotically compliant.
Of course she didn't mind. She never minded. She always did what was asked or expected of her, with a smile on her idiotic face.
She was such a loser.
"I'll call you tomorrow," Brock said now. "I've got to run."
And he was gone before she could say anything at all.
With his curly hair and Hollywood-star cleft in his chin, Brock was a good-looking man. And, as Maggie's mother kept pointing out, he got six weeks of vacation each year.
Yeah, there was a reason to get married - for a man's extensive vacation time.
Be careful, Angie had said the last time they'd talked on the phone. Maggie's best friend from high school was convinced that if Mags didn't stay alert, she'd wake up one morning married to the Brockster. Kind of the same way she'd woken up one morning with a law degree, a job at A&B and living at home again at age twenty-nine.
But Angie was Angie. Her goal in life was to make waves. She'd just gotten married herself to a man from England, and was living now in London, working as a stage manager in the theater district. She had a dream job and a dream husband. Freddy Chambers, a seemingly straitlaced Brit, was the perfect match for Angie Caratelli's rather violently passionate nature.
Kind of for the same reasons quiet Maggie had gotten along so well with Angie.
It had been more than ten years, but Maggie still missed high school. She and Angie and Angie's boyfriend, Matt Stone - all part of the theater crowd - had been inseparable and life had been one endless, laughter-filled party. Well, except when Angie and Matt were fighting. Which was every other day, because Matt had been as volatile as Angie.
Life had been jammed with anticipation and excitement and possibilities. There was always a new show to put on, a new dance to learn, a new song to sing. The future hung before them, glowing and bright.
Matt would have been as horrified as Angie if he knew Maggie was a corporate lawyer now, and that her office didn't even have a window. But he'd disappeared over ten years ago, after graduation. His and Angie's friendship hadn't survived that one last devastating breakup, and when he'd left town, he hadn't come back.
Not even a few years ago, when his father had died.
No, Maggie was the only one of them still living here in town. Wimp that she was, she liked living in the town she'd lived in most of her life. She just wished she weren't living at home.
Excerpted from Scenes of Passion by Suzanne Brockmann Copyright © 2004 by Suzanne Brockmann. Excerpted by permission.
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