«Double Exposure by Judith McNaught One OBLIVIOUS TO THE SPECTACULAR VIEW BEYOND THE GLASS wall of the Houston high-rise that housed the offices of ...»
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Double Exposure by Judith McNaught
OBLIVIOUS TO THE SPECTACULAR VIEW BEYOND THE GLASS wall of the Houston high-rise
that housed the offices of Foster’s Beautiful Living magazine, Diana Foster paced in front of her
desk with a telephone cradled between her shoulder and ear.
“Still no answer at the house?” asked Kristin Nordstrom, a production assistant at the magazine.
Diana shook her head and hung the phone up, already reaching into the credenza behind her desk for her handbag. “Everyone is probably out in the garden, reinventing mulch or something,” she joked. “Did you ever notice,” she continued with a rueful smile as she shrugged into a lime green linen jacket trimmed in white, “that when you have really exciting news, the people you want to share it with are never where you can reach them?” “Well, how about if you tell me the news in the meantime,” Kristin suggested teasingly.
Diana paused in the act of smoothing wrinkles from her white skirt and flashed the other woman a smile, but she had to look up to do it. At thirty-two, Kristin was two years older than Diana and a full six feet tall, with the fair skin and blue eyes of her Nordic ancestors. She was also conscientious, energetic, and detail-oriented, three traits that made her an ideal member of the production department.
“Okay, you’ve got it. I’ve just decided to shoot some of the photos for the “Perfect Weddings” issue on location in Newport, Rhode Island. The opportunity dropped into my lap this morning, and it’s going to put us under tremendous deadline pressure, but it’s too good to pass up. In fact, if you’re available I’d like to send you to Newport a week before the wedding to help our crew.
Mike MacNeil and Corey will arrive a few days later. You can work with them while they shoot the actual photos. They’re going to need an extra pair of hands, and it will give you an opportunity to find out what it’s like to work on location, under pressure, in difficult conditions. How does that strike you?” “Like a bolt of lightning,” she said, her face illuminated by a broad smile. “I’ve always wanted to go on location with Corey’s crew. Newport shoud provide a gorgeous setting for the layout,” she said as Diana started for the door. “Diana, before you go, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done. You’re a joy to work with-“ Diana waved off her grattitude with a smile. “Just keep trying to find Corey. Oh, and keep calling the house. If anyone answers, tell them to stay put until I get there. Tell them I have great news, but I want Corey there to hear it.” “I will. And when you see Corey, please tell her I’m excited about the chance to work with her.” She paused, a funny, uncertain smile on her face. “Diana, does Corey realize how much she looks like Meg Ryan?” “Take my adviceand don’t mention it to her,” Diana warned with a laugh. “She gets accosted all the time by strangers who refuse to believe her when she tells them she isn’t Meg Ryan, and some of them become downright unpleasant because they think she’s trying to trick them.” The telephone rang, interrupting them, and Kristin reached across the desk to answer it. “It’s Corey,” she said, holding the receiver toward Diana. “She’s on the car phone.” “Thank heaven!” Diana said as she hurried forward and took the phone. “Corey, I’ve been trying to reach you all morning. Where have you been?” ABC Amber Text Converter Trial version, http://www.processtext.com/abctxt.html Corey registered the excitement in her sister’s voice, but at the moment her attention was concentrated on the driver of an orange pickup truck who was determined to merge into a space on the expressway that was already occupied by Corey’s car. “I was at the printer’s all morning,” she said, deciding it was wiser to change lanes and let him win the bluff than to have an orange “ pin stripe” embossed on the door of her burgundy car. “I wasn’t happy with some of the shots I got for the barbecue layout for the next issue, and I brought him some different ones.” “Don’t worry about that issue, it’ll be fine. I have something more important to tell you – it’s great news. Can you meet me at the house in twenty minutes? I’d like to tell everyone at once.” “Did I just hear you say not to worry about an issue?” Corey teased, amused and surprised by this inusual attitude of optimism from her eternally cautious sister. Glancing in the rearview mirror, she changed lanes so that she could take the exit for River Oaks, rather than continuing to the office as she’d originally intended. “I’m heading for the house, but I insist on some sort of hint now.” “Okay, here goes: What would you say if I told you an unbelievable opportunity for the “Perfect Weddings” issue just fell into my lap! The mother of the bride, who is clearly anxious to further bolster her social status, wants us to feature her daughter’s wedding in Beautiful Living. If we are willing to do that, she is willing to guarantee us that it will be done in authentic “Foster Style,” under our supervision, and she is willing to pay whatever that costs, as well as all travel expenses for our staff.” For months, Corey and Diana had been discussing possible locations and themes for the “ideal” wedding they wanted to stage and feature in that issue, but so far they’d discarded all of them either because Diana thought they were too expensive or because Corey thought they were artistically unacceptable. Diana bore the full burden for all Foster Enterprises’ financial matters, but the responsibility for the beautiful photographic layouts that appeared in Forter’s publications was Corey’s. “It sounds good from a budget standpoint, but what about the location? What sort of setting would we have?” “Brace yourself,” Diana said.
In the car, Corey smiled with helpless anticipation. “I’m braced. Tell me.” “The wedding is to take place on the lawn of the bride’s uncle’s home… a lovely little forty-five room ‘cottage’, built in 1895, complete with frescoed ceilings, fabulous plasterwork… and undoubtedly hundreds of other little architectural goodies, you could include in our next coffee-table book – you know,” she said, “those big, fancy, beautiful books that you turn out in your spare time?” “Don’t keep me in suspense.” Corey laughed, her enthusiasm soaring. “Where’s the house?” “Are your ready for this?” “I think so.” “Newport, Rhode Island.” “Oh, my God, how perfect!” Corey breathed, her photographer’s mind already envisioning scenic shots with fabulous yachts floating on sparkling blue water in the background.
“The bride’s mother sent me pictures of her brother’s house and grounds and then called me this morning after the package arrived. Based on something she let slip, I got the funny feeling he may be paying for the entire wedding. Oh, I forgot, she promised to provide us with six local people who’ll work under our supervision. That should enable us to put some special touches in a few of the main rooms, so you’ll have even more to photograph. All materials and freelance labor are at their expense, of course, and our people will have private rooms at the house. The hotels are already booked for the season, and you’ll all need to work late anyway, so that’s a practical solution. Also, they have servants and they’ll have houseguests, so staying there to make certain no one tampers with our handiwork becomes a necessity.” “No problem, for an opportunity like this, I would work and sleep in Bluebeard’s house.” Diana’s voice lost a little of its happy confidence. “Yes, but can you do that in Spencer Addison’s house?” Corey’s reply was instinctive and instantaenous. “I’d prefer Bluebeard.” “I know.” “Let’s find another wedding to feature.” “Let’s talk about it when you get home.”
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BY THE THIME COREY TURNED OFF INWOOD DRIVE AND ONTO the long, treelined driveway that led to the house, she already knew she was going to go to Newport. Diana undoubtedly knew it too. Whatever either of them needed to do for the good of the other, or the good of the family, or the good of Foster Enterprises, they would do. Somehow, that had always been understood between them.
Corey’s mother and grandmother would also have to go to Newport, because they were the creators of what was now popularly called the “Foster Style”. It was a concept that Corey and Diana had managed to showcase and market on a national scale, via the magazine and a variety of books, but it was still a joint family venture. Her mother and grandmother would undoubtedly regard the chance to see Spencer again as a delightful side benefit rather than a repugnant drawback, but then he hadn’t hurt them the way he’d hurt Corey.
Diana’s car was already parked in front of the house, a sprawling Georgian-style mansion that served as the family’s home as well as a sort of “testing ground” for many of the menus and home improvement projects that appeared regularly in Foster’s Beautiful Living.
Corey turned off the ignition and looked up at the house that she and Diana had helped to protect and preserve. So many momentous events in her life were linked to this place, she thought as she leaned her head against the headrest, deliberately postponing going inside, where she would have to listen to a discussion of the Newport wedding. She had been thirteen and standing in the foyer when she had met Diana for the first time, and she’d met Spencer Addison a year later on the back lawn, whe she attended her first grown-up party.
And here, in this house, she had learned to love and respect Robert Foster, a broad-shouldered giant of a man with a gentle heart and brilliant mind who later adopted her. He had met Corey’s mother in Long Valley, when he bought the manufacturing company where she worked as a secretary, and the rest had seemed like a fairy tale. Entranced by Mary Britton’s lovely face and warm smile, the Houston millionaire had taken her to dinner his first night in town and decided that same evening that Mary was the woman for him.
The following nigh, he appeared at Corey’s grandparents’ house, where she and her mother lived, and began a whirlwind courtship that included the entire close-knit little family. Like a benevolent wizard, he materialized each evening with an armload of flowers and little gifts for everyone, and he stayed until the early hours of the morning, talking to the entire family until they went to bed and then sitting out on the swing in the backyard with his arm around Mary’s shoulders.
Within two weeks, he’d befriended Corey, soothed all of her grandparent’s possible objections to the marriage, and overridden Mary’s own marital misgivings, then he whisked his new bride and her daughter form their little frame house on the outskirts of Long Valley into his private plane. A few hours lather, he laughingly carried first Mary and then Corey over the threshold of his Houston home, and they had lived there ever since.
Diana had been vacationing in Europe with some school friends and their parents when the wedding took place, and Corey had dreaded meeting her new sister when she finally came home at the end of the summer. Diana was a year older, and supposed to be very smart. Corey was morbidly certain that besides all that Diana would be beautiful and sophisticated and the world’s biggest snob.
On the day Diana returned from Europe, Corey hid on the balcony eavesdropping while her stepfather greeted his daughter in the living room and informed her that while Diana had been “ lazin’ around in Europe all summer,” he had gotten her a new mother and a new sister.
He introduced Diana to Corey’s mother, but Corey couldn’t quite hear what they said to each other because their voices were too soft. At least Diana hadn’t had a temper tantrum, as Corey had feared, and Corey tried to take some solace in that when her stepfather brought Diana into the foyer and called Corey to come downstairs.
Her knees knocking together, Corey had thrust out her chin and affected an “I don’t care what you think of me” attitude as she walked stiffly down the staircase.
At first glance, Diana Foster was the personification of Corey’s worst fears: Not only was she pretty and petite, with green eyes and shiny brown hair that tumbled in mahogany waves halfway down her back, she was also wearing an outfit that looked like it came right out of a teen magazine – a very short tan skirt with cream-colored tights and a plaid vest in shades of tan and blue, topped off by a tan blazer with an emblem on the pocket. She had breasts, too, Corey noticed glumly.
ABC Amber Text Converter Trial version, http://www.processtext.com/abctxt.html In comparison, Corey, who was two inches taller and wearing jeans, felt like a washed-out, overgrown lump of ugly clay with her ordinary blue eyes and streaky blond hair pulled up in a ponytail. In honor of the occasion, Corey was wearing her favorite sweatshirt – the one with a running quarter horse emblazoned in white across her flat chest. She tried to take some comfort from that as Diana stared at Corey in silence and Corey stared right back.
“Say something, girls!” Robert Foster commanded in his cheerful but authoritative voice. “You’re sisters, now!” “Hi,” Diana mumbled.
“Hi,” Corey replied.
Diana seemed to be staring directly at Corey’s sweatshirt, and Corey’s chin lifted defensively.
Her grandmother in Long Valley had lovingly painted the horse on that sweathirt, and if Diana Foster said one nasty word about it, Corey was fully prepared to shove her right off her dainty feet.
Finally, Diana broke the uneasy silence. “Do you – do you like horses?” Wary, Corey shrugged and then nodded.
“After dinner, we could go over to Barb Hayward’s house. The Haywards have a great stable with racehorses. Barb’s brother, Doug, has a polo pony, too.” “I’ve only ridden a few horses and they’ve been pretty gentle. I’m not good enough for racehorses.
” “I’d rather pet them than ride them anytime. I got thrown last spring,” Diana admitted, putting a hesitant foot on the first step and starting up toward her bedroom.