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Authors: Deborah Smith

Miracle

BOOK: Miracle
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RECKLESS PASSION

A
my caught Sebastien’s face between her hands and kissed him. He made a harsh sound but took everything she offered, then wound his arms around her and returned fierce, raw energy so erotic that she shuddered and moaned against his mouth. He pulled back. “I said that I wasn’t in the mood to be kind to you. There is too much going on inside me tonight. It makes me reckless. This can only hurt you. Now stop—”

“You don’t have to worry about hurting me, or make promises about the future, or say a lot of hokey sweet things. You just have to be yourself.”

“Most women would be dismayed at that possibility.”

“I never look at things the way other people do. I guess you’re in luck.”

He studied her with a troubled, heartbreaking expression, then shut his eyes for a moment, as if making a decision. “Very much in luck.”

He kissed her again, this time sweetly and with obvious restraint. She sagged against him. Bending her backwards, he laid her on the cool, matted grass and undressed her.…

BY DEBORAH SMITH
From Bantam Books

WHEN VENUS FELL

A PLACE TO CALL HOME

SILK AND STONE

BLUE WILLOW

MIRACLE

MIRACLE
A Bantam Book / November 1991

All rights reserved
.
Copyright © 1991 by Deborah Smith
.
No part of this book may be reproduced
or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system, without permission
in writing from the publisher.
For information address: Bantam Books
.

eISBN: 978-0-307-79830-5

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036.

v3.1_r1

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

M
any thanks to the following for their help and support: Susan Hall Sheehan, segment producer, NBC; Claude Wegscheider of Alliance Francaise d’Atlanta, Inc.; Charles Andrews, director of Graduate Education, Emory University; Ellen Taber, R.N., B.S.N., surgical nurse; Barbara Croft, M.D.; my helpful and generous California family, Myra and Don Araiza; Laura Taylor, Pat Potter, and Carol Buckland; Andrea Cirillo and Gretchen van Nuys of the Jane Rotrosen Agency; Carolyn Nichols and Nita Taublib of Bantam Books; and Hank Smith, husband extraordinaire. This book is lovingly dedicated to my parents, Jack and Dora Brown.

Contents


Y
’all terrify the hell out of me. Really, truly terrify me. Amy Miracle said, her Georgia drawl putting a slow spin on each word. “Y’all look so … so
normal.

Most of the members of the well-dressed suburban audience laughed, as they were meant to. Inside the sleek taupe silk of her trousers, bought second hand at a funky Hollywood clothes shop, Amy’s knees quivered a little less. The bright stage light felt too hot on her face; the back of her neck was damp under her hair. She wore a loose red jacket over a white blouse because she didn’t want anyone to see the blouse clinging to her underarms, where trickles of nervous perspiration were already making their way down her sides.

She wasn’t kidding about the fear. She felt as if she were a bat flying in a dark cave emitting nervous vibrations through the packed club to gather feedback so she wouldn’t slam into a wall. But she had learned to make the fear work for her.

“It’s smart to be afraid of everything,” she said. “Only stupid people think it’s safe to relax.” Beyond the lip of the small stage, somewhere among tables loaded with wine coolers and nachos, a drunk cackled. Amy never missed a beat. “There’s one, now.”

She waited with practiced timing for the scattering of laughter and applause to fade. God, did she know how to wait. It had taken her years to get here. Pretending to study
the small heart tattooed on her wrist, she frowned in thought. “I had a unique childhood, y’all understand. Tough. My Daddy’s idea of a home entertainment center was a gun rack and a refrigerator full of beer. But he was mellow, all right? If I forgot to clean up my room he’d say, ‘That’s okay. I’m just gonna wing ya this time.’ ”

Settling into the rhythm of her routine, she gave them a practiced look of bewilderment. “Being female makes you afraid, too. Stuff like going to the gynecologist. I always turn into Olive Oyl when I get there.” She did her Olive Oyl impression, clasping her throat in befuddled shock and wailing, “Oh, goodness, oh, my, oh, my! If Popeye had shivered his timber, I wouldn’t be in this predicament!”

Because her voice was so strange anyway, it fit the impression perfectly. Lots of people in the audience laughed now. Amy leaned toward the microphone as if she and the audience were companions in a conspiracy. A conspiracy against all the ugly, stupid, absurd things in the world. “Women have good reason to be suspicious and scared. Look how everybody lies to us. Like in douche commercials. A sweet little teenage girl asks her mother, ‘Mom, are there days when you just don’t feel as … as
fresh
as you’d like?’ I want the truth! I want to hear that girl ask, ‘Mom, do you ever feel like … like a tuna that’s been out of water too long?’ ”

Women in the audience hooted with glee. Men laughed behind their hands, nodding. The douche bit always struck a chord. It tipped the audience over the line from wary expectation to an affectionate level of camaraderie. The battle was half won. The worst was over. Amy listened to the laughter and sighed with relief. Every night she improved. This was torture, but she loved it. It was worth every painful step. “Well,” she added with a thoughtful pause, “I always say that if you can’t laugh at yourself, laugh at other people.”

She gave them five more minutes, building the momentum, not letting them have a moment’s rest, controlling them,
killing
them, and enjoying the sense of power she only found on stage. When the red light began blinking on the back wall of the club, signaling her that her time was
up, she gave them one more minute and knew it was the best set she’d ever done.

She left the tiny stage on a crest of enthusiastic applause and calls for more. Floating, she stepped into a narrow hall hung with photos of comics, some famous, many she knew personally, a few she called friends.

The next performer, an acne-scarred young man with a smirking grin, was waiting in the hall. “Not bad. You warmed them up for me, Miracle.” He wiggled a lecherous hand puppet at her chest.

“You and Wally the Wonder Hand need all the help you can get. Don’t muss the blouse—it’s a Kmart original.”

“God, it must be nice to have lots of money.”

“Right. In my next life I hope bank machines don’t self-destruct when I ask for ten bucks.”

“Like I really believe that. You write for Elliot Thornton.”

Amy grimaced but said nothing. Several other comedians lounged in the hall, waiting their turns to make twenty-five bucks for entertaining the Tuesday-night crowd. They stared at her with a mixture of contempt and awe because they thought she had Elliot’s backing, but mostly because she’d been killing the room lately.

She gave them a thumbs-up and moved away. They didn’t know how much she’d gone through to reach this place and moment—this ordinary little suburban comedy club thirty miles outside L.A. They didn’t know she was jeopardizing a fledgling sense of self-esteem by going up on stage.

She went to the bar and ordered a glass of Château de Savin Fumé Blanc. The manager had begun to stock it after sampling a bottle she’d given him. The de Savin label was expensive but worth it, he’d decided. He had jokingly asked if she were a wine expert. Yes, actually. But the de Savin was a sentimental choice, as well. She pressed the cool lip of the glass against her forehead, remembering. Even after all these years it was always so easy.

Sebastien de Savin was the only person who had ever believed that she was special. She wondered where ten years had taken him and wished that he knew—and cared—how far they had taken her.

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