Book by George Elizabeth
Les informations fournies dans la section « Synopsis » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.
November 10, 2:45 p.m.
Santa Ana winds were no friends of photography, but that was something you could not tell an egomaniacal architect who believed his entire reputation rested upon capturing for posterity--and for Architectural Digest--fifty-two thousand square feet of unfinished hillside sprawl today. You couldn't even try to tell him that. Because when you finally found the location after making what felt like two dozen wrong turns, you were already late, he was already ticked off, and the arid wind was already throwing up so much dust that all you wanted to do was get out of there as fast as possible, which wasn't going to be possible if you argued with him over whether you were going to take the pictures in the first place. So you took them, never mind the dust, never mind the tumbleweeds that seemed to have been imported by a special-effects team to make several million dollars' worth of California ocean-view real estate look like Barstow in August, and never mind the fact that the grit got under your contact lenses and the air made your skin feel like peach pits and your hair like burnt hay. The job was everything; the job was all. And since China River supported herself by doing the job, she did it.
But she wasn't happy. When she completed the work, a patina of grime lay on her clothes and against her skin, and the only thing she wanted--other than a tall glass of the coldest water she could find and a long soak in a very cool tub--was to be out of there: off the hillside and closer to the beach. So she said, "That's it, then. I'll have proofs for you to choose from the day after tomorrow. One o'clock? Your office? Good. I'll be there," and she strode off without giving the man a chance to reply. She didn't much care about his reaction to her abrupt departure, either.
She drove back down the hillside in her ancient Plymouth, along a smoothly paved road, potholes being permanently banned in Montecito. The route took her past houses of the Santa Barbara super-rich who lived their shielded privileged lives behind electronic gates, where they swam in designer swimming pools and toweled themselves off afterwards on terrycloth as thick and white as a Colorado snow bank. She braked occasionally for Mexican gardeners who sweated behind those protective walls and for teenage girls on horseback who bounced along in tight-fitting blue jeans and skimpy T-shirts. The hair on these girls swung in the sunlight. On every last one of them it was long and straight and shiny like something lit it from within. Their skin was flawless and their teeth were perfect, too. And not a single one of them carried an ounce of unwanted flesh anywhere. But then, why would they? Weight wouldn't have had the moral fortitude to linger upon them any longer than the time it took them to stand on the bathroom scale, get hysterical, and fling themselves at the toilet afterwards.
They were so pathetic, China thought. The whole coddled, undernourished crowd of them. And what was worse for the little twits: Their mothers probably looked exactly like them, doing their part to be role models for a lifetime of personal trainers, plastic surgery, shopping excursions, daily massages, weekly manicures, and regular sessions with a shrink. There was nothing like having a gold-plated meal ticket, courtesy of some idiot whose only requirement of his women was zeroed in on the looks department.
Whenever China had to come to Montecito, she couldn't wait to get out of Montecito, and today was no different. If anything, today the wind and the heat made the urgency to put this place behind her worse than normal, like something gnawing at her mood. Which was bad enough already. An overall uneasiness had been sitting on her shoulders since the moment her alarm had rung early that morning.
Nothing else had rung. That was the problem. Upon waking, she'd made that automatic three-hour leap in time to ten-a.m.-in-Manhattan-so-why-hasn't-he-called, and while the hours passed till the one at which she had to leave for her appointment in Montecito, she'd mostly watched the phone and stewed, something that was easy enough to do since it was nearly eighty degrees by nine a.m.
She'd tried to occupy herself. She'd watered the entire front yard by hand and she'd done the same to the back, right down to the grass. She'd talked over the fence to Anita Garcia--Hey, girl, is this weather killing you? Man oh man, it's destroying me--and sympathised with her neighbour's degree of water retention in this last month of her pregnancy. She'd washed the Plymouth and dried it as she went, managing to stay one step ahead of the dust that wanted to adhere to it and turn into mud. And she leaped inside the house twice when the phone rang, only to find those unctuous, obnoxious telephone solicitors on the line, the kind who always wanted to know what kind of day you were having before they launched into their spiels about changing your long-distance telephone company which would, of course, also change your life. Finally, she'd had to leave for Montecito. But not before she picked up the phone one last time to make sure she had a dial tone and not before she double-checked her answering machine to make sure it would take a message.
All the time she hated herself for not being able just to dismiss him. But that had been the problem for years. Thirteen of them. God. How she hated love.
Her cell phone was the phone that finally did the ringing towards the end of her drive home to the beach. Not five minutes away from the uneven lump of sidewalk that marked the concrete path to her own front door, it chimed on the passenger seat and China grabbed it up to hear Matt's voice.
"Hey, good-looking." He sounded cheerful.
"Hey yourself." She hated the instant relief she felt, like she'd been uncorked of carbonated anxiety. She said nothing else.
He read that easily. "Pissed?"
Nothing from her end. Let him hang, she thought.
"I guess I've blown my wad with this one."
"Where've you been?" she demanded. "I thought you were calling this morning. I waited at the house. I hate it when you do that, Matt. Why don't you get it? If you're not going to call, just say that in the first place and I can deal with it, okay? Why didn't you call?"
"Sorry. I meant to. I kept reminding myself all day."
"And . . . ?"
"It's not going to sound good, China."
"Okay. A real bitch of a cold front moved in last night. I had to spend half the morning trying to find a decent coat."
"You couldn't call from your cell while you were out?"
"Forgot to take it. I'm sorry. Like I said."
She could hear the ubiquitous background noises of Manhattan, the same noises she heard whenever he called from New York. The blare of horns reverberating through architectural canyons, jack hammers firing like heavy armaments against cement. But if he'd left his cell phone in the hotel, what was he doing on the street with it now?
"On my way to dinner," he told her. "Last meeting. Of the day, that is."
She'd pulled to the sidewalk at a vacant spot about thirty yards down the street from her house. She hated stopping because the air conditioning in her car was too weak to make much of a dent in the stifling interior so she was desperate to get out, but Matt's last remark made the heat suddenly less important and certainly far less noticeable. All her attention shifted to his meaning.
If nothing else, she'd learned to keep her mouth shut when he dropped one of his small verbal incendiary bombs. There'd been a time when she'd jump all over him at a remark like "Of the day, that is," to weed specifics out of his implications. But the years had taught her that silence served just as well as demands or accusations. It also gave her the upper hand once he finally admitted what he was trying to avoid saying.
It came in a rush. "Here's the situation. I've got to stay here another week. I've got a chance to talk to some people about a grant, and I need to see them."
"Matt. Come on."
"Wait, babe. Listen. These guys dumped a fortune on a filmmaker from NYU last year. They're looking for a project. Hear that? They're actually looking."
"How do you know?"
"That's what I was told."
"So I called them and I managed to get an appointment. But not till next Thursday. So I've got to stay."
"Goodbye Cambria, then."
"No, we'll do it. We just can't next week."
"Sure. Then when?"
"That's just it." The street sounds on the other end of the cell phone seemed to grow louder for a moment, as if he were throwing himself into the midst of them, forced off the sidewalk by the congestion of the city at the end of a workday.
She said, "Matt? Matt?" and knew a moment of irrational panic when she thought she'd lost him. Damn phones and damn signals, always fading in and out.
But he came back on the line and it was quieter. He'd ducked inside a restaurant, he said. "This is make or break for the film. China, this one's a festival winner. Sundance for sure, and you know what that can mean. I hate letting you down like this, but if I don't make a pitch to these people, I'm not going to be worth taking you anywhere. To Cambria. To Paris. Or to Kalamazoo. That's just how it is."
"Fine," she told him, but it was not and he would know that by the flat sound of her voice. It had been a month since he'd managed to carve two days away from pitch-meetings in LA and funding-scavenges across the rest of the country, and before that it had been six weeks while she cold-called potential clients for herself and he continued to pursue the horizon of his dream. "Sometimes," she said, "I wonde...
an expertly woven mystery of astounding complexity (Liverpool Daily Post)
Praise for A TRAITOR TO MEMORY:
'An emotionally satisfying and intellectually compelling read'
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Description du livre Bantam. Hardcover. État : New. 0553801309 New Condition. N° de réf. du libraire 6NC-JPS4-2675
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Description du livre Bantam, 2003. Hardcover. État : New. book. N° de réf. du libraire 0553801309
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Description du livre Random House. État : New. pp. 514. N° de réf. du libraire 5796279
Description du livre Bantam, 2003. Hardcover. État : New. 0553801309 Author Signed Hardcover Book. 2003 NY: Bantam First edition, first printing, mint, new/unread, flawless dust jacket, signed by author. Each dust jacket is protected in an acid-free archival quality acetate cover. N° de réf. du libraire GEOPLAC01
Description du livre Bantam. Hardcover. État : New. 0553801309 New Condition. N° de réf. du libraire NEW6.1195661