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The Ghost - Danielle Steel

Paperback

Published: November 1998
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RRP $15.99
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With a wife he loves and an exciting London-based career, architect Charles Waterston's life seems in perfect balance. Nothing in his comfortable existence prepares him for the sudden end to his ten-year marriage - or his unwanted transfer to his firm's New York office. With nothing left to lose, Charlie takes a leave of absence from his job to drive through New England, hoping to make peace with himself.

Christmas is approaching when Charlie leaves New York, heading to Vermont to ski. But a sudden, blinding snowstorm strands him in a small Massachusetts town. There, as if by chance, Charlie meets an elderly widow who offers to rent him her most precious possession: a remote, exquisite lakeside chateau. Hidden deep in the woods, it once belonged to a woman who lived and died there two centuries before. Her name was Sarah Ferguson. And from the moment Charlie sets foot inside the chateau's graceful depths, he feels her presence, and longs to know more about the life she led.

It is Christmas Eve when Charlie first glimpses her, a beautiful young woman with jet black hair. He thinks it is a neighbour playing a joke on him, until he finds her diaries hidden away in an old trunk. As he begins to turn the brittle, dusty pages, Sarah Ferguson comes alive. Intrigued and unafraid, Charlie immerses himself in the diaries, eager to learn more about the woman for whom the house was built. Sarah's first entry is dated 1789, the year she arrived in America. Without self-pity or sentiment, she writes of her harrowing journey from her native England, having fled the brutality of her aristocratic husband. Settling in Massachusetts, Sarah finds an unfamiliar land seething with the turbulence of the Indian wars.

Determined to start a new life in the vast new world, Sarah finds freedom - and danger - as she builds her home in the wilderness and meets a man who will transform her life. His name is Franois de Pellerin, a French nobleman adopted by Indians and drawn into the battle for the growing nation. Their fateful union is a testament to a love so powerful it reaches across the centuries. And for Charlie Waterston, caught between Sarah's world and his own, their story is a gift - one that gives him the courage to let go of his past, and the freedom to grasp a future that is right before his eyes.

About The Author

Danielle Steel is one of the world's most popular authors, with over 560 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include Bungalow 2, Sisters, H.R.H., Coming Out, The House, Toxic Bachelors, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina's life and death.

In the driving rain of a November day, the cab from London to Heathrow took forever. It was so dark it looked like late afternoon, and Charlie Waterston could barely see out the windows as familiar landmarks slid past him. It was only ten o'clock in the morning. And as he leaned his head back against the seat and closed his eyes, he felt as bleak as the weather all around him.

It was hard to believe it had all come to an end. Ten years in London gone, finished, closed, and suddenly behind him. Even now, it was difficult to believe any of it had happened. It had all been so perfect when it began. It had been the start of a life, a career, a decade of excitement and happiness for him in London. And now suddenly, at forty-two, he felt as though all the good times were over. He had begun the long, slow trip down the other side of the mountain. For the past year, he had felt as though his life was slowly and steadily unraveling. The reality of it still amazed him.

And as the cab stopped at the airport finally, the driver turned and looked at him with a raised eyebrow. 'Goin' back to the States, are you, sir?' Charlie hesitated for a fraction of a second and then nodded. Yes, he was. Going back to the States. After ten years in London. Nine of them with Carole. Gone now. All of it. In a matter of moments.

'Yes, I am,' he said, not sounding like himself, but the driver couldn't know that. All he could see was a well-dressed man in a well-cut English suit and a Burberry raincoat. He had an expensive umbrella with him, a well-worn briefcase that he carried contracts and documents in. But even with all his well-chosen accessories, he didn't look English. He looked like what he was, a handsome American who'd lived in Europe for years. He was completely at home here. And it terrified him more than a little that he was leaving. He couldn't even imagine living in New York again. But he'd been forced into it, and the timing had been perfect. There was no point staying here now anyway, without Carole.

He felt a rock crush his heart, as he thought of her, as he stepped out of the cab and tipped the porter to take his luggage. He was only carrying two small bags. The rest was being held for him in storage.

He checked in at the desk, and then went to sit in the first-class lounge, but he was relieved to see that there was no one he knew there. It was a long wait to board the plane, but he had brought plenty of work with him, and he kept busy until they called the flight. He waited as he always did, and he was the last passenger to board the aircraft. And as the flight attendants showed him to his seat and took his coat for him, his dark brown hair and warm brown eyes did not go unnoticed. He was tall, had long, athletic limbs, and he was undeniably attractive. Besides which, he wore no wedding band, and the woman across the aisle and the flight attendant taking his coat couldn't help but notice. But he was oblivious to all of them, as he slipped into the seat next to the window, and sat staring out at the rain on the runway. It was impossible not to think of what had happened, impossible not to run his mind over it again and again, as though looking for the seam from where the leak began, the place where the lifeblood of their relationship had begun to seep away without their even knowing. It still seemed incredible to him. How could he have been so blind? How could he have not known? How could he have believed they were so perfectly happy, while she was slipping away from him? Had it changed suddenly, or had it never been the very thing he'd been so sure of? He had been absolutely convinced that they were completely happy, and he still thought they had been . . . until the end . . . until the last year . . . until she told him . . . until Simon. It made Charlie feel so stupid. He'd been such a fool, flying from Tokyo to Milan, designing office buildings, while Carole represented clients for her law firm all over Europe. They were busy, that was all. They had lives of their own. They were planets in separate orbits. But there had been no doubt in anyone's mind how perfect it all was, how it was exactly what they wanted, whenever they were together. Even Carole seemed surprised by what she'd done, but the worst thing about it was that she wasn't willing to undo it. She had tried, but in the end she knew she couldn't.

One of the flight attendants offered him a drink before they took off, and he declined. She handed him the menu then, a set of headphones, and the list of movies. None of it appealed to him. All he wanted to do was think, to try and sort it all out again, as though it would come out differently if he thought about it long enough, and this time, came up with the right answers. It made him want to shout sometimes, to pound his fist into a wall, to shake someone. Why was she doing this to him? Why had that asshole come along and destroyed everything he and Carole had wanted? And yet, even Charlie knew that it wasn't Simon's fault, which left no one to blame except himself and Carole. It made him wonder at times why it was so important to assign the blame. It had to be someone's fault, and lately he had taken to blaming himself. He must have done something to make her turn to someone else. She said that it had happened more than a year before, while they were working on a case together in Paris.

Simon St. James was the senior partner of her law firm. She liked working with him, she laughed about him sometimes, talked about how smart he was, and how outrageous he was with women. He had already had three wives, and he had several children. He was debonair, dashing, good-looking, and extremely charming. He was also sixty-one, and Carole was thirty-nine. She was only three years younger than Charlie, twenty-two years younger than Simon. There was no point reminding her that he was old enough to be her father. She knew all that, she was a smart girl, she knew what a crazy thing it was, and what it had done to Charlie. That was the worst part. She hadn't wanted to hurt anyone. It had just happened.

Carole had been twenty-nine, beautiful, extremely bright, and had a great job with a law firm on Wall Street. They'd been dating for a year before Charlie got transferred, to run the London office of his architectural firm, Whittaker and Jones, but it was never serious between them. He was transferred from New York, where he'd worked for them for two years, and he was delighted.

She came to London on a lark, to see him, and she had no intention of staying. But she fell in love with London, and then with him. It was different here, everything was more romantic. She started flying over whenever she could, to see him on weekends. It was the perfect life for them. They skied in Davos and Gstaad and St. Moritz. She had gone to school in Switzerland when her father worked in France, and she had friends all over Europe. She was completely at home here. She spoke German and French with ease, she fit right into the London social scene, and Charlie adored her. After six months of commuting, she found a job in the London office of an American law firm. They bought an old carriage house in Chelsea and she moved in with him, and they were like two crazy, wild, happy people. They spent almost every night dancing at Annabel's at first, and discovering all the wonderful little out-of-the-way places, restaurants and antiques shops and nightclubs in London. It was heaven.

ISBN: 9780440224853
ISBN-10: 0440224853
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 432
Published: November 1998
Publisher: DELL PUB
Dimensions (cm): 17.374 x 10.592  x 2.921
Weight (kg): 0.22