Taming Natasha Page 39


“Yes, there’s Freddie. And there’s you.”

Her restless movement rustled the sheets. She could see him after the symphony at some small intimate party, the Rainbow Room perhaps, or a private club. He would be dancing with a beautiful woman.

“The New York you lived in is different from mine.”

“I imagine.” He wondered why that should matter to her. “Do you ever think of going back?”

“To live, no. But to visit.” It was silly, she thought, to be nervous about asking such a simple thing. “My mother called me today.”

“Is everything all right?”

“Yes. She only called to remind me about Thanksgiving. I’d almost forgotten. Every year we have a big dinner and eat too much. Do you go home for the holiday?”

“I am home.”

“I mean to your family.” She shifted to watch his face.

“I only have Freddie. And Nina,” he added. “She always goes out to the Waldorf.”

“Your parents. I’ve never asked you if you still have them, or where they live.”

“They’re in Cannes.” Or was it Monte Carlo? It occurred to him suddenly that he didn’t know for certain. The ties there were loose, comfortably so for everyone involved.

“Won’t they come back for the holidays?”

“They never come to New York in the winter.”

“Oh.” Try as she might, she couldn’t picture the holidays without family.

“We never ate at home on Thanksgiving. We always went out, were usually traveling.” His memories of his childhood were more of places than people, more of music than words. “When I was married to Angela, we usually met friends at a restaurant and went to the theater.”

“But—” She caught herself and fell silent.

“But what?”

“Once you had Freddie.”

“Nothing changed.” He shifted onto his back to stare at the ceiling. He’d wanted to tell her about his marriage, about himself—the man he had been—but had put it off. For too long, he reflected. How could he expect to build, when he had yet to clear away the emotional rubble of his past? “I’ve never explained to you about Angela.”

“It’s not necessary.” She took his hand again. She’d wanted to invite him to a meal, not dredge up old ghosts.

“It is for me.” Sitting up, he reached for the bottle of champagne they had brought back with them. Filling both glasses, he handed her one.

“I don’t need explanations, Spence.”

“But you’ll listen?”

“Yes, if it’s important to you.”

He took a moment to gather his thoughts. “I was twenty-five when I met her. On top of the world as far as my music went, and to be honest, at twenty-five, very little else mattered to me. I had spent my life traveling, doing exactly what I pleased and being successful in what was most important to me. I don’t believe anyone had ever told me, ‘No, you can’t have that. No, you can’t do that.’ When I saw her, I wanted her.”

He paused to sip, to look back. Beside him Natasha stared into her glass, watching bubbles rise. “And she wanted you.”

“In her way. The pity was that her attraction for me was as shallow as mine for her. And in the end just as destructive. I loved beautiful things.” With a half laugh he tilted his glass again. “And I was used to having them. She was exquisite, like a delicate porcelain doll. We moved in the same circles, attended the same parties, preferred the same literature and music.”

Natasha shifted her glass from one hand to the other, wishing his words didn’t make her feel so miserable. “It’s important to have things in common.”

“Oh, we had plenty in common. She was as spoiled and as pampered as I, as self-absorbed and as ambitious. I don’t think we shared any particularly admirable qualities.”

“You’re too hard on yourself.”

“You didn’t know me then.” He found himself profoundly grateful for that. “I was a very rich young man who took everything I had for granted, because I had always had it. Things change,” he murmured.

“Only people who are born with money can consider it a disadvantage.”

He glanced over to see her sitting cross-legged, the glass cupped in both hands. Her eyes were solemn and direct, and made him smile at himself. “Yes, you’re right. I wonder what might have happened if I had met you when I was twenty-five.” He touched her hair, but didn’t dwell on the point. “In any case, Angela and I were married within a year and bored with each other only months after the ink had dried on the marriage certificate.”


“Because at that time we were so much alike. When it started to fall apart, I wanted badly to fix it. I’d never failed at anything. The worst of it was, I wanted the marriage to work more for my own ego than because of my feelings for her. I was in love with the image of her and the image we made together.”

“Yes.” She thought of herself and her feelings for Anthony. “I understand.”

“Do you?” The question was only a murmur. “It took me years to understand it. In any case, once I did, there were other considerations.”

“Freddie,” Natasha said again.

“Yes, Freddie. Though we still lived together and went through the motions of marriage, Angela and I had drifted apart. But in public and in private we were…civilized. I can’t tell you how demeaning and destructive a civilized marriage can be. It’s a cheat, Natasha, to both parties. And we were equally to blame. Then one day she came home furious, livid. I remember how she stalked over to the bar, tossing her mink aside so that it fell on the floor. She poured a drink, drank it down, then threw the glass against the wall. And told me she was pregnant.”

Her throat dry, Natasha drank. “How did you feel?”

“Stunned. Rocked. We’d never planned on having children. We were much too much children, spoiled children ourselves. Angela had had a little more time to think it all through and had her answer. She wanted to go to Europe to a private clinic and have an abortion.”

Something tightened inside Natasha. “Is that what you wanted?”

He wished, how he wished he could have answered unequivocably no. “At first I didn’t know. My marriage was falling apart, I’d never given a thought to having children. It seemed sensible. And then, I’m not sure why, but I was furious. I guess it was because it was the easy way again, the easy way out for both of us. She wanted me to snap my fingers and get rid of this…inconvenience.”

Prev Next