COMING NOV 16th!
Prize-winning journalist, Rory Carlysle has wanted nothing more than a child of her own for as long as she could remember. Even the coveted Pulitzer couldn’t come close to her longing for a baby. When she wins the Edgar P. Stone award for her latest book, her husband, Dr. Adam Carlysle, doesn’t show up for the award ceremony. She has lost count of the times that he has let her down but she also knows how seriously he takes the care of his patients and tonight he is at the bedside of a desperately sick child. She decided to surprise him at the hospital on the way home from the ceremony to show him her trophy. When she tiptoes into the room and hears the little girl in the bed called Adam ‘Daddy’ the bottom falls out of Rory’s world.
Dark-skinned beauty and supermodel, Kendal Prescott has known success with a capital S. Despite her humble beginnings, she has everything she has ever wanted, a loving husband, a fabulous career as a model and the thing she loves most in the world, her thirteen-year-old daughter, Poppy. Tanner, the only man she has ever trusted with her heart, is a well-known daytime soap actor who recently broke down and admitted to a one night stand with another man, Patrick Gray. They have been trying to patch things up for the last few months but after a night in Kendal’s bed, he admits he is still seeing Patrick. Devastated, Kendal tells him he must choose between them and he chooses Patrick, telling her that he loves him.
Miranda Bradford is the undisputed darling of The Society Set. Beautiful, poised and fabulously wealthy. To the outside world her life is picture-perfect and even her eight-year-old twins Max and Evie are good looking, smart and well behaved. Her husband, Charles, twelve years her senior is a partner in a prestigious law firm and has his sights firmly set on the US senate. On their wedding night, he beat her unconscious and raped her and her life has been a living nightmare ever since. He controls every aspect of her life and she can’t leave him or he will kill her, at best he will take her children and she will never see them again. His latest sick demand pushes her too far though and she needs to find a way out, she needs to confide in her friends and ask them to help her.
“Oh come on Rory, don’t be like that honey, please!” he begged, “I swear I will make this up to you.”
“You promised me, Adam, you swore blind you would not let me down tonight, I can’t go on my own again, it’s humiliating!” Rory felt her frustration quickly turn to anger and her voice raised a few octaves “You’re not the only damn doctor in that practice Adam, I thought Julian was on call this weekend,”
“Marilyn just called to say he has strep throat, can’t have him infecting the patients,” he sighed, “I’m so sorry babe, I’ll make it up to you, I promise,”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep Adam,” she said angrily and shut off her cell phone and threw it on the bed.
She was furious, mostly at him, but also at herself. How many times was he going to let her down before she faced the fact that Adam was a selfish shit? He would always put his needs and career before hers and the worst thing was, she was no longer surprised each time he let her down, it seems like she spent her life with Adam waiting for the other shoe to drop.
This time was different though, he knew how much this evening meant to her. She was this year's recipients of the Edgar P. Stone award for her non-fiction book on the plight of the homeless in America. The culmination of all of her years of hard work and her husband was blowing her off again. The most hurtful part was that she had been expecting it all week long.
Her editor and good friend, Jack O'Brien would be here with the car any minute and she wasn’t going to keep him waiting, Adam could just go to hell.
She walked over to the full-length mirror, checked her appearance and refreshed her lipstick just as her phone buzzed and she saw Kendal’s name pop up. Sighing, her finger hovered over the screen, bracing herself for the string of expletives from her friend when she told her Adam wasn’t going to be there…...again. Instead, she sent a quick text, ‘On my way’ and stashed her phone in her evening purse and hurried to the elevator.
Perfect timing! The limo slid into view as she exited the glass doors of her apartment block and Jack got out to greet her. Rory couldn’t help but admire him, resplendent in his tux. His dark blonde hair tamed out of their unruly curls for the occasion. He stepped forward with a smile and helped her into the limo as she held the hem of her dark green Stella McCartney gown.
He didn’t say anything until they were settled and back on the road.
“What’s his excuse this time?”
“Don’t start Jack,”
He watched her shrewdly through hooded lids but refrained from saying anything else until they were pulling into the front of the Waverly Room and the driver came around to open the door.
Jack got out and reached inside for her hand,
“Press are here in droves, remember they can lift you up or trample you underfoot, smile Rory,” he helped her out and she was blinded by the flashlights as the cameras went off. She smiled despite herself and the press loved her, she was a champion of the less fortunate and they seemed to know somehow that she was genuine, the real deal. Rory wasn’t driven by fame or fortune she was driven to always be her best.
She smiled and waved as they walked towards the front door and she sensed the moment someone more famous and newsworthy arrived when the camera flashes stopped and she was able to get inside unscathed. Tonight was her fifteen minutes of fame.
They found their table, right at the front of the stage and she took a seat while the waiter brought them both a glass of champagne just as her friends started to arrive.
Kendal Prescott was a stunning African American model and one of Rory’s dearest friends. Her on-again/ off-again husband, Tanner was a fairly well-known television actor and for tonight at least they seem to have called a ceasefire. Kendal moved her place marker to Adams's space so that she was sitting on Rory’s right.
“You look amazing as always, Kendal,” Rory grinned at the figure-hugging fit of her friend's ivory sequined dress.
“I would like to grab that no good selfish prick of a husband of yours by the balls,” she said, getting right to the point as Rory stood up to receive her hug.
“He had patients,” she excused him as she always did but for once Kendal kept her mouth closed, she didn’t want to sour Rory’s night but her dislike of Adam Carlysle was no secret. Tanner hugged her too and sat down beside his wife.
“I thought Miranda would have made it here before me as usual,” she grinned. Kendal’s lateness to every occasion was legendary and Rory was touched to see she made it here with time to spare for her big night.
Right on cue, Miranda Bradford swept into the ballroom, looking a million dollars with the ever-attentive Charles by her side. Her soft blond hair was swept up into an elaborate twist and Rory knew her dress probably cost more than she paid for a year's rent on her apartment. Even though she was gorgeous, fabulously wealthy and had a husband who adored her, she was one of Rory’s favorite people.
“No Adam,” Miranda raised a perfectly arched brow as she sat down on Rory’s left and Jack graciously moved around the table to sit with the other men.
“Patients,” she said embarrassed at her usual excuse. At first, she hadn’t minded so much when he had to cancel on her. His work was important, she understood that, but it always seemed to be cutting into her time. He never had to cancel a Sunday golf game or occasional Friday nights out with the guys.
“He doesn’t deserve you,” Charles kissed her cheek and she hoped Miranda knew how lucky she was. A husband who worshipped her and their adorable eight-year-old twins, Max and Evie. Rory was more than a little jealous.
She shrugged it off, plastered a smile on her face and sipped her champagne. She was determined to enjoy her night, she had damn well earned it.
The four-course dinner was delicious, the champagne was flowing and despite Adam being missing in action, she had a wonderful time. When they announced her award and she went up on stage to receive it and felt like she was standing on top of the whole world. She gave her pre-prepared speech, missing out on the part about her supportive husband and grinned as her friends applauded her.
Months at a time living rough, sleeping in doorways and checking into a hotel only occasionally to shower, had given her some insight into the often hopeless and dangerous lives these people lived. A vicious circle of no money-no home, no home-no job, no job-no money. Only a lucky few escaped and Rory had nothing but respect for them. Among the desperation, however, she had found plenty of love, humor and kindness which humbled her and made her question her own priorities.
She accepted everyone’s congratulations as she took her trophy back to the table and wished again that Adam had been here with her. To his credit, he had never complained when she took off to write another article and this last one had been for weeks at a time not seeing him. She felt a little shame wash over her. He was at the hospital with his patients, would she like him better if he would have neglected them to be with her tonight, maybe, maybe not.
“I’m going to take a cab to the hospital, Jack, show Adam my trophy,” she held it aloft,
She saw the disappointment in Jack’s face and she knew he didn’t approve of Adam but he was her husband and she wanted to see him.
“No, It's on my way, let me take you, the least I can do on your big night.” he smiled as he helped her back into the limo. Jack was her dearest friend next to her girls, she knew he was divorced but she didn’t pry into his personal life. She had only known him for a few years but he knew her, in some ways even better than Kendal and Miranda who she had roomed with for four years in college. He was an amazing editor and confidante but he was also a very good friend.
The limo pulled up in front of the hospital’s front entrance and he came around and opened the door to help her out and handed her the trophy,
“I’ll wait for a little while, make sure he hasn’t already left,” Jack smiled, “Text me when you find him so that I know you’re getting home okay.” he kissed her cheek and she waved to him as she went in through the main doors.
She didn’t recognize the receptionist behind the desk, seemed to be a new one every few months. She did find out though that Adam was on the fifth-floor children's surgical with a patient and she thanked her and went to the elevator. A sick child, she couldn’t think of anything worse.
She desperately wanted to be a Mom herself but it just hadn’t happened for them yet and they saw each other so little these days they were lucky if they had sex once a month. Miranda had the twins and Kendal had a thirteen-year-old daughter, Poppy, who was born at the beginning of her senior year in college.
They had juggled their schedules to help with the baby so that she could finish school. Her first few modeling jobs were supposed to be a means to an end but Kendal was in high demand and instead of climbing her way through corporate America with her business degree, she signed with an agency before the signature on her degree was even dry. Rory never had any reason to doubt her friend's decision, Kendal seemed happy to be in the spotlight.
The elevator doors opened and she saw Adam in the distance, he was at the end of the corridor going into a patient's room. She would just stick her head in the door and tell him she was in the waiting room when he got a minute to talk.
The door was ajar and she slipped off her shoes and carried them, tiptoeing into the room so that she wouldn’t disturb the patient. Adam had his back to her, sitting on a plastic-backed chair, holding the little girl's hand in his, as a pretty dark-haired woman, the child’s mother presumably, sat at the other side of the bed weeping.
Rory stopped in her tracks as her radar kicked in, Adam was dressed in his street clothes and dedicated as she knew him to be, he was just a little personal with this child.
“Adam,” she said softly and any doubts she had about the strangeness of the situation fled out the door at the look of horror on his face as he turned to face her.
“Fuck! Rory, what are you doing here,” he jumped to his feet, the chair thrust backward, the metal legs making a loud scraping noise on the floor.
She stood there speechless, trying to figure out what the hell was going on when the little girl in the bed woke up crying and reached out her arms to Adam,
“Daddy,” she cried and Rory’s legs finally found their strength and she spun around and fled as the contents of her stomach threatened to spill over.