Authors: Candace Schuler
The Night Remembers
The Heart of the City Series
THE NIGHT REMEMBERS
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"Ms. Schuler... completely involves the reader"
"Ms. Schuler's characters are deeply motivated, emotional people."
Previously titled: Designing Woman
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"Now that's what I call a gorgeous man." Elaine Prescott, self-proclaimed connoisseur of men, tucked a strand of glossy brown hair behind one ear and turned from the gap in the stage curtains to address the room at large. "There's a tall blond hunk out there among all those doctors," she announced, raising her voice so that she could be heard above the noise of the models and technicians who scurried around the backstage area.
Several interested heads turned toward her but Daphne Granger's wasn't one of them. She was used to her assistant's frequent exclamations regarding the opposite sex and didn't even bother to look up from the loops of corded silk and colored glass beads that she was arranging around the waist of a volunteer model.
"Is he over six feet?" someone asked hopefully.
Daphne glanced up at that remark, smiling in spite of herself. The question had come from Suzie, one of the professional models. She had short, sleek, platinum blond hair, a figure that closely resembled a swizzle stick, and stood an even six feet tall in her stockings.
Elaine peeked through the curtains again. "At least," she affirmed. "And he has shoulders like a football player. Great hair. Terrific tan," she reported, tossing the information back over her shoulder. "I can't see his eyes from here but they just have to be blue. Sensational smile. My God, I'd
if he smiled at me like that."
"Let me see." Suzie parted the curtains above Elaine's head. She whistled softly. "Six feet three, at least. I think I'm in love."
Daphne listened to them with only half an ear. She gave a final tweak to the belt she was arranging and stepped back, head tilted as she considered the effect. "You look terrific, Mrs. Danvers," she pronounced, smiling encouragingly at the nervous woman. "You'll knock 'em dead. Just don't sit down between now and the time you go on, okay?"
The woman nodded and walked stiffly to her place in the line of models, volunteer and professional, who were about to stage a charity fashion show for Children's Hospital of San Francisco.
Daphne had been roped into doing the fashion show by her oldest, best, and most endearingly eccentric friend, Sunny McCorkle. Not that she minded doing it, of course, since the proceeds from the show were earmarked for new equipment for the hospital. And, besides, it was fun to be working on a worthy cause with Sunny again. It was almost like the old days when they had both been protesters on behalf of a cleaner environment, as well as sisters in the fight for equality of the sexes. And just like in the old days, Daphne worked in the background—or, in this case, the backstage—while Sunny held center court with a microphone in her hand, inciting the crowd to riot. Or whatever it was that one incited a group of distinguished doctors to do at a charity fashion show. Inciting them to buy, probably, Daphne decided with a grin.
Pulling her thoughts away from Sunny, she looked around for whatever else might need doing in these last few minutes before the show began. Her glance fell on Elaine and Suzie, giggling and whispering like a couple of sixteen-year-olds, their eyes still glued to the gap in the curtains. They looked, she thought, like Mutt and Jeff. Suzie, so tall, thin, and ethereally blond towered over the smaller, darker, more voluptuous Elaine as they peered out into the audience.
"Come on, you two, quit drooling all over the curtains and get to work. We're on in—" Daphne glanced at the slim gold watch on her wrist "—less than five minutes. And you haven't even got your dress on yet, Suzie," she accused, eyeing the model with mock ferocity. "Come on now." She clapped her hands together. "Move."
"But, Daphne, you haven't even looked yet," Elaine said teasingly, as she moved away from the curtains. "He's really gorgeous."
Daphne shrugged, displaying the smooth contours of one rounded shoulder as the wide boat neck of her silk dress slid downward. "He's probably gay," she said, picking up the clipboard that she had put down in order to help Mrs. Danvers with her belt. She reached up with one hand, absently adjusting the fallen neckline of her dress as she ran her eyes over the scribbled notes in front of her. "Half the men in San Francisco are gay."
"Oh, no. He can't be," Suzie wailed theatrically. "He's too tall."
"Tallness has nothing to do with it," Daphne said dryly. "Now go get dressed. And hurry."
"Easy for you to say." The lanky model grumbled good-naturedly as she moved toward the clothes rack. "You can date anybody. You're short."
"Five foot six is not short." Elaine defended her employer loyally. "Is it?" she added, looking to Daphne for confirmation.
"Not last I heard," Daphne mumbled, her mind already on other things. She didn't have time for all this nonsense. She shuffled through the papers attached to her clipboard. "Suzie, you go on third," she said, indicating the model's place in line with a flick of her hand. "Right behind Mrs. Garwood. Then Paula, Mrs. Ames, Heather." Daphne nodded at each woman in turn, a tiny frown of concentration between her arched brows. "Then Mrs. Danvers." She reached out to pat the woman's shoulder as she passed her. "You'll do fine," she said reassuringly. "Relax."