THEY DID IT WITH LOVE Excerpt:
Greenwich : January
Priscilla & Gordon
Priscilla Brenner woke up in a foul mood. It was January. The sky outside her bedroom window was grey. It looked like it was going to snow again. And she was forty. She’d been forty for almost a week—and at the age of forty she’d discovered that she wanted to change everything about her life. But at that moment waking up to another dreary winter morning, Priscilla saw no hope.
What she saw was her husband Gordon sleeping beside her. Just looking at him she felt a surge of irritation. She’d reached the point where everything about him annoyed her—even the way he slept. She hated the way his mouth hung open. She hated the way the loosening skin of his neck (invisible when he was awake) was pushed into little rolls under his chin. She even hated the sweep of his impossibly long dark lashes against his cheek because it reminded her of how handsome she’d thought he was when they first met.
It wasn’t that he’d changed so much in the fifteen years they’d been together. He was still in good shape and, though his hair had gone gray and was thinning at the crown, he’d inherited the kind of patrician features that weathered well. But in Priscilla’s mind it was as if there were two different men—the man she’d thought she married and then the man he had turned out to be. When they first met Gordon had seemed aloof and somehow mysterious. There were those long dark lashes of his and the quiet secretive way he had of smiling as if he were laughing at his own private joke. He also had an aura of glamour because he came from a wealthy Boston society family, though being Yankees they were very discreet about it. But after they got married Priscilla discovered that she had been all wrong about Gordon. What she’d thought of as aloof was merely awkward. The smile she’d thought of as secretive was simply self-conscious. And the idea of Gordon being glamorous—that turned out to be so completely ludicrous that she would have laughed if she could have managed to find the humor in it.
Gordon’s alarm went off and Priscilla quickly closed her eyes and pretended to be sleeping. In the morning Gordon liked to hit the snooze button and roll over and spoon her. Even the word made her shudder and his actually doing it made her feel trapped, pinned down, smothered. She finally told him that it was bad manners to wake her when she was still sleeping, and Gordon in his perpetual reasonableness had accepted the rebuke and had never done it again—and she despised him for that as well.
She lay there, rigid in pretend sleep, while he slipped out of bed and padded over into his bathroom. She waited a few seconds until she heard the hiss of the shower and then she got out of bed as well and escaped into her bathroom.
Half an hour later she was in her dressing room morbidly inspecting her pores in her magnifying mirror (she’d actually thought she had good skin before she’d bought it—but the mirror showed her how wrong she was) when Gordon knocked on the door. Usually he would just call through the door that he was leaving, but today he poked his head in.
“I just wanted to let you know that I have to stay late today. That okay?”
“Fine,” she said still peering into the mirror. It came with rows of light bulbs that you could adjust to evening, indoor, or sunlight. She kept it on the harshest sunlight setting.
“I don’t know why you insist on looking in that thing,” Gordon said.
“Why do you think? I want to see what I look like.”
“You look amazing.”
“I’m getting wrinkles.”
“I can’t see any,” he said.
“I can see the wrinkles in the mirror. The mirror doesn’t lie. This tells me the truth. ”
“The truth? You mean if someone stood you under a spotlight and magnified your face, what, five times?”
“Seven times,” she said.
“Imagine yourself walking around with a head seven times the size it is now.”
“That’s not the point.”
“I think that’s exactly the point,” he replied.
She finally turned away from the mirror to shoot him a look.
“Sorry,” he apologized automatically. Then to try to smooth things over he asked,
“What do you have on for today?”
She was about to snap—‘Nothing except having to call all the members of the Junior League to remind them about the Leadership Development and Council Meeting next week—when she remembered that her mystery book group was meeting that afternoon. It wasn’t the only book group she belonged to, but this was her group. She’d formed it, she ran it, and she (usually) enjoyed it. She wasn’t sure about today’s meeting though. There had been a bit of a shake up in the last few months. They’d lost two members who’d gotten divorced and moved away so she’d invited two new members to join and Priscilla wasn’t sure they were working out. But she still had Candy and Susan, she reminded herself. They had been in the group since the beginning, and Priscilla knew she could count on them.