Second Chance (Danielle Steel)

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9780553757187: Second Chance (Danielle Steel)

Eccentric high fashion meets buttoned-up Madison Avenue in Danielle Steel’s captivating tale of two perfect-for-each-other people from two wildly different worlds. In a fresh, funny look at what happens when a woman who has everything finally meets her match, Danielle Steel proves that, in life and love, it’s never too late for a second chance....

SECOND CHANCE

As editor-in-chief of New York’s leading fashion magazine, Fiona Monaghan lived a life as hectic and high-toned as the fashion world itself, jetting back and forth between her stylish Manhattan brownstone and the couture shows of Europe. With closets stuffed with Fendi, a snoring bulldog named Sir Winston sharing her bed, and a houseman who favors gold lamé and borrows her shoes, Fiona was utterly content with her life. Until the sweltering June day John Anderson strolled into her office.

After a dinner date left them both wanting more, Fiona impulsively invited John to the Paris couture shows. And in the most romantic city in the world, somewhere between the magic of the runway and the stroll along the Seine, Fiona let this man into her heart. A widower with two daughters, John Anderson was nearly Fiona’s opposite in every way. As conservative as she was freewheeling, John was both amused and appalled by Fiona’s world of high-strung designers, anorexic models, and high-heeled housemen. But within weeks of their return to New York, John was making friends with Sir Winston—and Fiona was making room in her closets.

It didn’t take long for the dominoes to start falling. First, John introduced Fiona to his daughters, their blood-thirsty Pekingese, and a snarling housekeeper straight out of Hitchcock’s Rebecca. It was hate at first sight. Then, after a dinner party with John’s biggest client goes disastrously awry, Fiona and John’s relationship began to unravel with alarming speed. What happens next will set Fiona on a journey filled with pain and revelation, awakening and change....For when she returns to Paris alone and takes an amazing risk, an extraordinary series of events begins to unfold. And as the snow falls on the city of light, Fiona is about to get the surprise of her life: a second act she never saw coming.

In a dazzling tale of modern misadventures and career-crossed relationships, Danielle Steel brings us into the lives of two unforgettable people as they love and laugh, struggle and survive. With unerring insight, she captures the heady magic of instant attraction, the challenges of change—and the hope that comes when we dare to do it all over again.
From the Hardcover edition.

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About the Author:

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s most popular authors, with over 530 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include Toxic Bachelors, Miracle, ImPossible, Echoes, Second Chance, Ransom, Safe Harbour, 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.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One
The air-conditioning had just stopped working in the offices of Chic magazine on a blisteringly hot June day in New York. It was their second brownout of the day, and Fiona Monaghan looked as if she were ready to kill someone as she strode into her office after being trapped in the elevator for twenty minutes. The same thing had happened to her the day before. Just getting out of the cab on the way back from lunch at the Four Seasons made her feel as though the air had been sucked out of her lungs. She was leaving for Paris in two weeks-if she lived that long. Days like this were enough to make anyone hate New York, but in spite of the heat and the aggravation, Fiona loved everything about living there. The people, the atmosphere, the restaurants, the theater, the avalanche of culture and excitement everywhere-even the brownstone on East Seventy-fourth Street that she had nearly bankrupted herself to buy ten years ago. She had spent every penny she had on remodeling it. It was stylish and exquisite, a symbol of everything she was and had become.

At forty-two, she had spent a lifetime becoming Fiona Monaghan, a woman men admired and women envied, and came to love when they knew her well and she was their friend. If pressed, she could be a fearsome opponent. But even those who disliked her had to admit they respected her. She was a woman of power, passion, and integrity, and she would fight to the death for a cause she believed in, or a person she had promised to support. She never broke a promise, and when she gave her word, you knew you could count on her. She looked like Katharine Hepburn with a little dash of Rita Hayworth, she was tall and lean with bright red hair and big green eyes that flashed with either delight or rage. Those who met Fiona Monaghan never forgot her, and in her fiefdom she was all knowing, all seeing, all powerful, and all caring. She loved her job above all else, and had fought hard to get it. She had never married, never wanted to, and although she loved children, she never wanted any of her own. She had enough on her plate as it was. She had been the editor-in-chief of Chic magazine for six years, and as such she was an icon in the fashion world.

She had a full personal life as well. She had had an affair with a married man, and a relationship with a man she had lived with for eight years. Before that, she had dated randomly, usually artists or writers, but she had been alone now for a year and a half. The married lover was a British architect who commuted between London, Hong Kong, and New York. And the man she had lived with was a conductor, and had left her to marry and have children, and was living in Chicago now, which Fiona considered a fate worse than death. Fiona thought New York was the hub of the civilized world. She would have lived in London or Paris, but nowhere else. She and the conductor had remained good friends. He had come before the architect, whom she had left when the affair got too complicated and he threatened to leave his wife for her. She didn't want to marry him, or anyone. She hadn't wanted to marry the conductor either, although he had asked her repeatedly. Marriage always seemed too high risk to her, she would have preferred to do a high-wire act in the circus than risk marriage, and she warned men of that. Marriage was never an option for her.

Her own childhood had been hard enough to convince her that she didn't want to risk that kind of pain for anyone. Her father had abandoned her mother when her mother was twenty-five and she was three. Her mother had attempted two more marriages to men Fiona hated, both were drunks, as her father had been. She never saw her father again after he left, nor his family, and knew only that he had died when she was fourteen. And her mother had died when she was in college. Fiona had no siblings, no known relatives. She was alone in the world by the time she was twenty, graduated from Wellesley, and made it on her own after that. She crawled her way up the ladder in minor fashion magazines and landed at Chic by the time she was twenty-nine. Seven years later, she became editor-in-chief, and the rest was history. Fiona was a legend by the time she was thirty-five, and the most powerful female magazine editor in the country at forty.

Fiona had nearly infallible judgment, an unfailing sense for fashion and what would work, and a head for business that everyone she worked with admired. And more than that, she had courage. She wasn't afraid to take risks, except in her love life. In that arena she took none at all, and had no need to. She wasn't afraid to be alone, and in the past year and a half she had come to prefer it. She was never really alone anyway, she was constantly surrounded by photographers, assistants, designers, models, artists, and a flock of hangers-on. She had a full calendar and an active social life and a host of interesting friends. She always said that it wouldn't bother her if she never lived with anyone again. She didn't have room in her closets anyway, and had no desire to make room for anyone. She had enough responsibilities at the magazine, without wanting to be responsible to or for a man as well. Fiona Monaghan had a breathtakingly full life, and she loved all of it. She had a high tolerance for, and a slight addiction to, confusion, excitement, and chaos.

She was wearing a long narrow black silk skirt that fell in tiny pleats from her waist, as she walked off the elevator she'd been trapped in for twenty minutes, on her way back from lunch. She wore a white peasant blouse with it, off her shoulders, with her long red hair swept up in a loose knot. Her only piece of jewelry was a huge turquoise bracelet that nearly devoured her wrist and was the envy of all who saw it. It had been made for her by David Webb. She was wearing high-heeled black Manolo Blahnik sandals, an oversize red alligator Fendi bag, and the entire combination of accessories and long, clean lines gave an impression of inimitable elegance and style. Fiona was as dazzling as any of the models they photographed, she was older but just as beautiful, although her looks meant nothing to her. She never traded on sex appeal or artifice, she was far more interested in the soul and the mind, both of which shone through her deep green eyes. She was thinking about the cover for the September issue, as she sat down at her desk, kicked off her sandals, and picked up the phone. There was a new young designer in Paris she wanted one of her young assistant editors to research and pursue. Fiona was always on a mission of some kind, it took a flock of underlings and minions to keep up with her, and she was feared as much as she was admired. You had to move fast to match her pace, and she had no patience for slackers, shirkers, or fools. Everyone at Chic knew that when Fiona shined the spotlight on you, you'd better be able to come up with the goods, or else.

Her secretary buzzed her ten minutes later to remind her that John Anderson was coming in to see her in half an hour, and she groaned. She had forgotten the appointment, and between the heat, the lack of air-conditioning, and the interlude in the elevator, she wasn't in the mood. He was the head of the new ad agency they'd hired, it was a solid old firm that, thanks to him, had come up with some exciting new ideas. It had been her decision to make the switch, and she had met nearly everyone in the agency but him. Their work and their track record spoke for itself. The meeting was merely a matter of form to meet each other. He had been reorganizing the London office when she decided to hire the firm, and now that he was back in town, they had agreed to meet. He had suggested lunch, but she didn't have time, so she'd suggested he come to her office, intending to keep it brief.

She returned half a dozen calls before the meeting, and Adrian Wicks, her most important editor, dropped in for five minutes to discuss the couture shows in Paris with her. Adrian was a tall, thin, stylish somewhat effeminate black man who had been a designer himself for a few years before he came to Chic. He was as smart as she was, which she loved. Adrian was a graduate of Yale, had a master's in journalism from Columbia, worked as a designer, and had finally landed at Chic, and together they were an impressive team. He was her right arm for the last five years. He was as dark as she was pale, as addicted to fashion as she was, and as passionate about his ideas and the magazine as Fiona. In addition, he was her best friend. She invited him to join the meeting with John Anderson, but he was meeting with a designer at three, and just as Adrian left her office, her secretary told her that Mr. Anderson had arrived, and Fiona asked her to show him in.

As Fiona looked across her desk to the doorway, she watched John Anderson walk in, and came around her desk to greet him. She smiled as their eyes met, and each took the other's measure. He was a tall, powerfully built man with impeccably groomed white hair, bright blue eyes, and a youthful face and demeanor. He was as conservative as she was flamboyant. She knew from his biographical material, and mutual friends, that he was a widower, he had just turned fifty, and he had an M.B.A. from Harvard. She also knew he had two daughters in college, one at Brown and the other at Princeton. Fiona always remembered personal details, she found them interesting, and sometimes useful to help her know who she was dealing with.

"Thank you for coming over," she said pleasantly as they stood eyeing each other. She was nearly as tall as he was in the towering Blahnik heels she had slipped back on before she came to greet him. The rest of the time, she loved walking around her office barefoot. She said it helped her think. "I'm sorry about the air-conditioning. We've had brownouts all week." She smiled agreeably.

"So have we. At least you can open your windows. My office has been like an oven. It's a good thing we decided to meet here," he said with a smile, glancing around her office, which was an eclect...

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