Marriage and Miracles(6)

By: Miranda Lee

'You're wicked,' he groaned, but did not remove her hand.

She simply smiled. The things a mother did for her children, Celeste thought with a stab of perverse amusement.

Byron cleared his throat. 'Can I—er—get you two lad offered, his voice a little shaky.

ies a drink?' he

'That would be nice, darling,' Celeste returned smoothly. 'Champagne, I think. Celebrations are obviously in order.'

'Champagne it is.'

'What are we celebrating?' Gemma asked after Byron left them. Clearly, she hadn't been listening to their ongoing conversation.

'The success of the play.'

Gemma grimaced. 'I suppose I should be happy for Nathan, but I'll never like that play. How can I when it was responsible for breaking up our marriage?'

'The play wasn't responsible for breaking up your marriage. Nathan was, when he refused to listen to you, when he closed his eyes and ears to your love.'

Gemma frowned as the reality of what Celeste was saying sank in. Why had Nathan turned his back on her love? Why? His blunt confession to having kept her in the dark about Celeste being her mother had been a deliberate act to drive her away and make her agree to a divorce. Would a man genuinely in love do that?

Her highly practical and logical brain reached for an answer but her heart didn't like the one it came up with. Nathan couldn't love her, in that case. Maybe he never had. Maybe everyone else was right and he'd only married her out of lust. Maybe he'd even found someone else.. .the number three Celeste had mentioned.

Panic began to set in till Gemma remembered the baby she might be carrying. Could she afford to think negative thoughts, even if they were logical ones? Love wasn't logical, she reminded herself frantically. Love had never been logical. Perhaps it was shame and guilt that had impelled him to push her away with the only weapon he could find. That report. He did love her. He must! For if he didn't...

God, if he didn't!

Black thoughts swirled in her head.

'You don't have to go to the party afterwards,' Celeste said quiet ly.

Gemma blinked, her confusion clearing as she realised that if there was even the smallest chance Nathan loved her she had to take it.

'Oh, yes, I do,' she said, her nerves calming a little in the face of having no alternative. 'I don't have any choice.'

Celeste almost argued with her daughter, till she recalled all the stupid, crazy things she had done in the name of love. Could anyone have dissuaded her at the time? She doubted it.

So she remained silent, and eventually Byron returned with the champagne. Eventually, too, the play resumed, the second half as compelling and shocking as the first. And eventually, the three of them left the theatre to go to the post-premiere party.


'WHY didn't you hold this party at Belleview?' Celeste asked Byron as he drove up the ramp of the underground car park. 'Not that I'm complaining, mind. Double Bay is a lot closer than St Ives.'

'Which is precisely the answer to your question. The cast and crew have two performances tomorrow, it being a Saturday, and most of them live close to the city. So when Cliff offered his place as the venue I jumped at it.'

'Who's Cliff? One of your business cronies?'

'He'd like to be. He's an American movie producer who wants to buy the rights to Nathan's play. A colleague of his snapped one up earlier in the year. When Cliff read it, he hot-footed it over here as if he was shot out of a cannon. He's as slick as they come and thinks we Aussies have all come down in the last shower when it comes to the movie business. Which we have, in a way,' Byron finished drily.

'Don't let him have the rights to this play for less than five million, Byron,' Celeste advised. 'I've heard that's what a top screenplay commands these days.'

'Five million, eh? You're sure that's not excessive?'

'Not at all. That play will be a big hit, be it on stage or screen.'

'You're right!' Byron pronounced firmly. 'It's easily worth five million. I'll ask for six.'

'That's the spirit,' Celeste laughed.

Gemma sat silently in the back of Byron's Jaguar, grateful for her parents' lively conversation. It took her mind off the evening ahead, and her mission impossible. She wondered idly what kind of place this American movie mogul had rented. A large harbour- side apartment, she supposed. A penthouse, even.

When Byron turned down a quiet Double Bay street and pulled into the kerb outside an outlandishly huge Mediterranean-style white-stuccoed mansion, her eyes almost popped out of her head. She would not have believed that any home could make Belleview pale by comparison, but she was wrong. This particular place dwarfed. Byron's home in size, outdid it for opulence, and made her realise that, while money could not buy everything, it could buy a hell of a lot!

Celeste must have been having similar thoughts.

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