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Home > The Sky Is Falling(6)

The Sky Is Falling(6)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

"No, but we - "

"I'm sorry, but - " He recognized Jeff. "Mr. Connors, it's a pleasure to see you." He looked at Dana. "Miss Evans, this is an honor." He made a small moue. "I'm afraid there will be a short delay." His glance moved to Rachel, and his face lit up. "Miss Stevens! I read that you were doing a layout in China."

"I was, Somchai. I'm back."

"Wonderful." He turned to Dana and Jeff. "Of course we have a table for you." He led them to a table in the center of the room.

I hate her, Dana thought. I truly hate her.

When they were seated, Jeff said, "You look great, Rachel. Whatever you're doing agrees with you."

And we can all guess what that is.

"I've been doing a lot of traveling. I think I'm going to start taking it easy for a while." She looked into Jeff's eyes. "Do you remember the night that you and I - "

Dana looked up from the menu. "What isudang goreng ?"

Rachel glanced at Dana. "That's shrimp in coconut milk. It's very good here." She turned back to Jeff. "The night you and I decided that we wanted to - "

"What islaksa ?"

Rachel said patiently, "That's spicy noodle soup." She turned back to Jeff. "You said you wanted to - "

"Andpoh pia ?"

Rachel looked at Dana and said sweetly, "That's jicama stir-fried with vegetables."

"Really?" Dana decided not to ask what jicama was.

But as the meal went on, Dana was surprised that in spite of herself, she began to like Rachel Stevens. She had a warm and charming personality. Unlike most world-class beauties, Rachel seemed to be completely unself-conscious about her looks and displayed no ego. She was intelligent and articulate, and when she gave the luncheon order to the waiter in Thai, there was no hint of superiority. How did Jeff ever let this one get away? Dana wondered.

"How long will you be in Washington?" Dana asked.

"I have to leave tomorrow."

"Where are you heading for this time?" Jeff wanted to know.

Rachel hesitated. "Hawaii. But I'm feeling really tired, Jeff. I was even thinking of canceling this."

"But you won't," Jeff said knowingly.

Rachel sighed. "No, I won't."

"When will you be back?" Dana asked.

Rachel looked at her for a long moment and then said softly, "I don't think I'll be coming back to Washington, Dana. I hope you and Jeff will be very happy." There was an unspoken message in her words.

Outside, after lunch, Dana said, "I have some errands to do. You two go on ahead."

Rachel took Dana's hand in hers. "I'm very glad we met."

"So am I," Dana said, and to her surprise she really meant it.

Dana watched Jeff and Rachel start down the street. A striking couple, she thought.

Because it was early December, Washington was preparing for the holiday season. The streets of the capital were decorated with Christmas lights and wreaths of holly, and on almost every corner Salvation Army Santa Clauses stood, tolling their bells for coins. The sidewalks were crowded with shoppers braving the icy winds.

The time has come, Dana thought. I have to get started with my own shopping. Dana thought about the people for whom she should buy gifts. Her mother; Kemal; Matt, her boss; and, of course, wonderful Jeff. Dana jumped in a cab and headed for Hecht's, one of Washington's largest department stores. The place was jammed with people celebrating the Christmas spirit by rudely elbowing other shoppers out of the way.

When Dana finished shopping, she headed back to her apartment to drop off her gifts. The apartment was on Calvert Street, in a quiet residential section. Attractively furnished, it consisted of one bedroom, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a study, where Kemal slept.

Dana put the gifts in a closet, looked around the small apartment, and thought happily, We'll have to get a larger place when Jeff and I get married. As she headed for the door to return to the studio, the telephone rang. Murphy's law. Dana picked up the phone. "Hello."

"Dana, darling."

It was her mother. "Hello, Mother. I was just leav - "

"My friends and I listened to your broadcast last night. You were very good."

"Thank you."

"Although we thought you could have brightened up the news a bit."

Dana sighed. "Brightened up the news?"

"Yes. All the things you talk about are so depressing. Can't you find something cheerful to discuss?"

"I'll certainly see what I can do, Mother."

"That would be nice. By the way, I'm running just a little short of cash this month. I wonder if you could help me out again?"

Dana's father had disappeared years ago. In time, Dana's mother had moved to Las Vegas. It seemed that she was always short of cash. The monthly allowance Dana gave her mother never seemed to be enough.

"Do you gamble, Mother?"

"Of course not," Mrs. Evans said indignantly. "Las Vegas is a very expensive city. By the way, when are you going to come out here? I would like to meet Kimbal. You should bring him here."

"His name is Kemal, Mother. I can't get away right now."

There was a slight hesitation at the other end. "You can't? My friends are all saying how fortunate you are to have a job where you only have to work an hour or two a day."

Dana said, "I guess I'm just lucky."

As anchorwoman, Dana arrived at the television studio at nine o'clock every morning and spent much of the day on international conference calls, getting the latest news from London, Paris, Italy, and other foreign locations. The rest of the day was devoted to meetings, putting all the news together, and deciding what would be broadcast and in what order when she went on the air. She did two evening broadcasts.

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