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.She watched as Pam joined in, putting her arm around her sister-in-law’s waist.It was a perfect domestic moment.Except she was missing.As Alexandra watched, she could feel her family changing sides.Her husband and her daughter were going over to the enemy, and she was being left alone to defend all that she held dear.A current of renewed determination shot through her body, tensing her muscles and heightening her senses.Nicole had to go, and the sooner the better.FORTY-SIXJACK FINALLY caught Nicole alone as she was walking back to the house.He had seen her take her leave from a cluster of Pam’s friends, and then start off on her own.He had set his drink on someone else’s table, and taken a roundabout route to follow her.“Nicole!” He was short of breath as he ran up behind her.She turned as if she had expected him to follow her.“Jack, I’ve been looking for a chance to talk to you since this morning.”He glanced around furtively.There were guests everywhere, but they were all involved in one another.His approach to Nicole didn’t seem to have attracted any attention.“Where are you going? I’ll walk with you,” he said, flashing his most innocent smile for the benefit of anyone who might happen to notice them together.“Just to get my things together.I’ll be leaving right after the banquet.But I do want to talk to you.”He fell in beside her.“I know I should apologize for.last night.And if that’s what you want to hear, then I’m sorry for mistaking your feelings.”“You didn’t mistake my feeling,” she said.But Jack wasn’t listening.He had a rehearsed speech that he was determined to deliver.“But the fact is, I have never been more attracted to anyone than I am to you.You said that you needed me, but Ineeded you.I know that makes me ridiculous, but I don’t really give a damn.Last night was wonderful, and I’m glad that it happened.So, what does that make me, a liar or an arrogant bastard?”She squeezed his hand and he loved it, until he realized that someone might be watching.He pulled his hand away.“Jack, I’m not sorry either.But we’ve created one god-awful problem for ourselves.I don’t know where to go from here.”“I’ll call you,” he promised.“As soon as we’re back in the city we have to get together and talk.There are a lot of things that we have to straighten out, and I don’t think that there’s anyone who can help us.”Nicole squeezed his hand once more as if it were a secret code that no one else would be able to decipher.“Yes, call me.You and I will be able to make sense out of all of this.We’ll get it right.”He saw her again at the banquet.She came in just as all the guests were taking their places, and went to the table where Pam was sitting.She wore a summer pastel that showed her neck and shoulders, and a simple chain of silver.Her hair was loose, turning in above her shoulders in the latest fashion.She had done nothing extraordinary, but still she took Jack’s breath away.“Now don’t hit me again,” Joe Tisdale said to Jack for the benefit of the table, “but Nicole is one fine-looking young woman.”“Very lovely,” Jack answered, stealing a glance at Alexandra to see if she were paying attention elsewhere.She seemed to be involved with another guest, so he ventured, “Very lovely, indeed.”The dinner was served; beef filets or swordfish steaks, with the appropriate sauces and vegetables.The wines were collector items, uncorked and poured to individual tastes.Billy Joel appeared and visited the key tables before he took his place at the piano.The Donners’ summer affair began winding down to a perfect conclusion.Pam pressed Nicole for a commitment.As they ate together she kept bringing up the art gallery, explaining the concept to her friends and enlisting their support.“You see, everyone thinks it’s a great idea.We’ll find people who know the art market.What will make us different is our willingness to take a chance on new talent.” Nicole promised to continue the discussion in the city and told Pam to give her a call.She took her leave from the others at the table and then worked her way across the lawn to where Alexandra was holding court.“Thank you for having me,” she said to Alexandra.Alexandra accepted the compliment and expressed the hope that they would get everything taken care of in short order.There were no hugs or handshakes.The men were standing and Tisdale repeated his offer of an evening at the opera.She promised to take him up on it.The Swiss banker clicked his heels.Jack took both her hands in his [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]