The Affair - Danielle Steel

Chapter 1

Heads always turned when Rose McCarthy walked into a room. Nearly six feet tall, she was ramrod straight, and impeccably put together with faultless style, long graceful legs, and her snow-white hair cut in a chin-length rounded cap. Her piercing blue eyes missed nothing. She could terrify anyone with a few well-chosen, soft-spoken, eloquent words, or comfort and delight a young employee with generous praise. For twenty-five years, she had been the legendary editor-in-chief of Mode Magazine. Gentle, polite, supremely competent, she ran it with an iron hand, with the ultimate grace and discretion. She was known for excellent judgment, wise decisions that always benefited the magazine, her dedication, and love of fashion.

She always wore a touch of color somewhere, or an interesting, eye-catching accessory, a ring she had found at an ancient, dusty jewelry shop in Venice, a bracelet from a Moroccan bazaar, a scarf, a pin, an unusual piece of some kind. Her elegance was in her bones. She usually wore black, but then would surprise everyone with a strong color occasionally. No one could ever manage to emulate her, although they tried. No one looked as perfectly turned out as she did at nine in the morning, or any other hour of the day. She was wide awake and alert the moment she got to the office, and never stopped all day. She pushed her employees hard and expected the best from them, but she was infinitely harder on herself than on anyone else.

Her background was fascinatingly contradictory. Her father had been a much published, highly respected British historian, who had taught at Oxford. Born and raised in London, she attended Oxford for two years at her father’s urging, but never liked it. Her Italian mother was a well-known expert on the paintings of the Italian Renaissance. She was from a large aristocratic family. Rose’s daughters teased her that she was Italian at home and British at work. There was some truth to it. Rose’s mother had been as emotional as her father wasn’t. Rose had learned from them, and flourished as an only child, with love and support from both her parents. She loved visiting her mother’s warm family in Rome frequently. She spoke fluent Italian, French, and English, and after two years at Oxford she had attended the Sorbonne for a year, which she liked much better. Her passion and instinct for fashion had surfaced at twenty, when she was living in Paris. She returned to London then, became an intern at a well-known British magazine, and within months had fallen in love with an American banker, Wallace McCarthy. On an impulse, at twenty-one, she moved to New York for him, got a low-level job at Vogue, fought her way up through the ranks, and became an associate editor by the time she was thirty. Eleven years later, at forty-one, she was offered the position of editor-in-chief of Mode Magazine, and had made it the vast success it currently was. She was the soul and spirit of the magazine, and set a high standard. Twenty-five years after she took over, Mode was one of the most influential magazines in the fashion world. Its success was unquestionably credited to Rose. Her husband, Wallace, was proud of her, and always supportive of her career. Their marriage was important to both of them, rock solid and a priority for her. She was a powerhouse in the office, and a loving wife at home.

True to her British upbringing, she never said a word about her personal life at work. She rarely mentioned Wallace in the office, although he was the center of her life at home. And in the midst of her steady rise to stardom as a fashion editor, she’d given birth to four daughters who she privately admitted were the joy of her existence. She hardly ever talked about them during her daily life. She was a consummate professional, had taken a minimum of time off when she had them, and returned to the office, ready to work. When she came back from maternity leave, she was as slim and stylish as ever, with every hair in place, ready to focus on the magazine again.

Her forty-year marriage had been stable until her husband’s death four years before.

Only her faithful assistant, Jen Morgan, who had followed her from Vogue and was still with her, ever knew anything about her personal life, or how truly heartbroken she was when Wallace died after a shockingly brief illness. More