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Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas


  ALSO BY JAMES PATTERSON

  The Thomas Berryman Number

  Virgin

  Black Market

  The Midnight Club

  Along Came a Spider

  Kiss the Girls

  Hide & Seek

  Jack & Jill

  Cat & Mouse

  When the Wind Blow

  Pop Goes the Weasel

  Cradle and All

  Roses Are Red

  1st to Die

  COPYRIGHT

  Copyright © 2001 by James Patterson

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.

  First Edition

  The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

  Hachette Book Group

  237 Park Avenue

  New York, NY 10017

  Visit our website at www.HachetteBookGroup.com

  ISBN: 978-0-7595-2521-4

  First eBook Edition: July 2001

  For those who have loved, and lost,

  and loved again

  For Robin Schwarz, whose valuable assistance

  and big heart are much appreciated

  Also, thanks for the help —

  Mary, Fern, Barbara, Irene, Maria, Darcy,

  Mary Ellen, and Carole Anne

  Most of all, for Suzie and Jack; and for Jane

  CONTENTS

  ALSO BY JAMES PATTERSON

  Copyright

  KATIE

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  THE DIARY

  KATIE

  THE DIARY

  KATIE

  THE DIARY

  KATIE

  Chapter Three

  THE DIARY

  KATIE

  Chapter Four

  THE DIARY

  KATIE

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  THE DIARY

  MATTHEW

  KATIE

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  KATIE

  KATIE WILKINSON sat in warm bathwater in the weird but wonderful old-fashioned porcelain tub in her New York apartment. The apartment exuded “old” and “worn” in ways that practitioners of shabby chic couldn’t begin to imagine. Katie’s Persian cat, Guinevere, looking like a favorite gray wool sweater, was perched on the sink. Her black Labrador, Merlin, sat in the doorway leading to the bedroom. They watched Katie as if they were afraid for her.

  She lowered her head when she finished reading the diary and set the leatherbound book on the wooden stool beside the tub. Her body shivered.

  Then she started to sob, and Katie saw that her hands were shaking. She was losing it, and she didn’t lose it often. She was a strong person, and always had been. Katie whispered words she’d once heard in her father’s church in Asheboro, North Carolina. “Oh, Lord, oh, Lord, are you anywhere, my Lord?”

  She could never have imagined that this small volume would have such a disturbing effect on her. Of course, it wasn’t just the diary that had forced her into this state of confusion and duress.

  No, it wasn’t just Suzanne’s diary for Nicholas.

  She visualized Suzanne in her mind. Katie saw her at her quaint cottage on Beach Road on Martha’s Vineyard.

  Then little Nicholas. Twelve months old, with the most brilliant blue eyes.

  And finally, Matt.

  Nicholas’s daddy.

  Suzanne’s husband.

  And Katie’s former lover.

  What did she think of Matt now? Could she ever forgive him? She wasn’t sure. But at least she finally understood some of what had happened. The diary had told her bits and pieces of what she needed to know, as well as deep, painful secrets that maybe she didn’t need to know.

  Katie slipped down farther into the water, and found herself thinking back to the day she had received the diary—July 19.

  Remembering the day started her crying again.

  One

  ON THE morning of the nineteenth, Katie had felt drawn to the Hudson River, and then to the Circle Line, the boat ride around Manhattan Island that she and Matt had first taken as a total goof but had enjoyed so much that they kept coming back.

  She boarded the first boat of the day. She was feeling sad, but also angry. Oh, God, she didn’t know what she was feeling.

  The early boat wasn’t too crowded with tourists. She took a seat near the rail of the upper deck and watched New York from the unique vantage point of the brooding waterways surrounding it.

  A few people noticed her sitting there alone— especially the men.

  Katie usually stood out in a crowd. She was tall— almost six feet, with warm, friendly blue eyes. She had always thought of herself as gawky and felt that people were staring at her for all the wrong reasons. Her friends begged to differ; they said she was close to breathtaking, stunning in her strength. Katie always responded, “Uh-huh, sure, don’t I wish.” She didn’t see herself that way and knew she never would. She was an ordinary, regular person. A North Carolina farm girl at heart.

  She often wore her brunette hair in a long braid, and had since she was eight years old. It used to look tomboyish, but now it was supposed to be big-city cool. She guessed she’d finally caught up with the times. The only makeup she ever wore was a little mascara and sometimes lipstick. Today she wore neither. She definitely didn’t look breathtaking.

  Sitting there on the top deck, she remembered a favorite line from the movie The African Queen: “Head up, chin out, hair blowing in the wind, the living picture of the hero-eyne,” Bogart had teased Hepburn. It cheered her a bit—a titch, as her mother liked to say back home in Asheboro.

  She had been crying for hours, and her eyes were puffy. The night before, the man she had loved suddenly and inexplicably ended their relationship. She’d been completely sucker punched. She hadn’t seen it coming. It almost didn’t seem possible that Matt had left her.

  Damn him! How could he? Had he been lying to me all this time—months and months? Of course he had! The bastard. The total creep.

  She wanted to think about Matt, about what had happened to separate them, but she wound up thinking of times they’d shared, mostly good times.

  Begrudgingly, she had to admit that she had always been able to talk to him freely and easily about anything. She could talk to Matt the way she talked to her women friends. Even her girlfriends, who could be catty and generally had terrible luck with men, liked Matt. So what happened between us? That’s what she desperately wanted to know.

  He was thoughtful—at least he had been. Her birthday was in June, and he had sent her a single rose every day of what he called “your birthday month.” He always seemed to notice whether he’d seen her in a certain blouse or sweater before, her shoes, her moods—the good, the bad, and occasionally the stressed-out ugly.

  He liked a lot of the same things Katie did, or so he said. Ally McBeal, The Practice, Memories of a Geisha, The Girl with the Pearl Earring. Dinner, then drinks at the bar at One if by Land, Two if by Sea. Waterloo in the West Village; Coup in the East; Bubby’s on Hudson Street. Foreign movies at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema. Vintage black-and-white photos, oil paintings that they found at flea markets. Trips to NoLita (North of Little Italy) and Williamsburg (the new SoHo).

  He went to church with he
r on Sundays, where she taught a Bible class of preschoolers. They both treasured Sunday afternoons at her apartment—with Katie reading the Times from cover to cover, and Matt revising his poems, which he spread out on her bed and on the bedroom floor and even on the butcher-block kitchen table.

  Tracy Chapman or Macy Gray, maybe Sarah Vaughan, would be playing softly in the background. Delicious. Perfect in every way.

  He made her feel at peace with herself, completed her circle, did something that was good and right. No one else had ever made her feel that way before. Completely, blissfully at peace.

  What could beat being in love with Matt?

  Nothing that Katie knew of.

  One night they had stopped at a little juke bar on Avenue A. They danced, and Matt sang “All Shook Up” in her ear, doing a funny but improbably good Elvis impersonation. Then Matt did an even better Al Green, which completely blew her away.

  She had wanted to be with him all the time. Corny, but true.

  When he was away on Martha’s Vineyard, where he lived and worked, they would talk for hours every night on the phone—or send each other funny e-mail. They called it their “long-distance love affair.” He had always stopped Katie from actually visiting him on the Vineyard, though. Maybe that should have been her early-warning signal?

  Somehow, it had worked — for eleven glorious months that seemed to go by in an instant. Katie had expected him to propose soon. She was sure of it. She had even told her mother. But, of course, she had been so wrong that it was pathetic. She felt like a fool—and she hated herself for it.

  How could she have been so stupefyingly wrong about him? About everything? It wasn’t like her to be this out of touch with her instincts. They were usually good; she was smart; she didn’t do really dumb things.

  Until now. And, boy, had she made a doozy of a mistake this time.

  Katie suddenly realized that she was sobbing and that everyone around her on the deck of the boat was staring at her.

  “I’m sorry,” she said, and motioned for them to please look away. She blushed. She was embarrassed and felt like such an idiot. “I’m okay.”

  But she wasn’t okay.

  Katie had never been so hurt in her life. Nothing came close to this. She had lost the only man she had ever loved; God, how she loved Matt.

  Two

  KATIE COULDN ’T bear to go in to work that day. She couldn’t face the people at her office. Or even strangers on a city bus. She’d gotten enough curious looks on the boat to last a lifetime.

  When she got back to her apartment after her trip on the Circle Line, a package was propped up against the front door.

  She thought it was a manuscript from the office. She cursed work under her breath. Couldn’t they leave her alone for a single day? She was entitled to a personal day now and then. God, she worked so hard for them. They knew how passionate she was about her books. They knew how much Katie cared.

  She was a senior editor at a highly thought of, collegial, very pleasant New York publishing house that specialized in literary novels and poetry. She loved her job. It was where she had met Matt. She had enthusiastically bought his first volume of poetry from a small literary agency in Boston about a year before.

  The two of them hit it off right away, really hit it off.

  Just weeks later they had fallen in love—or so she had believed with her heart, soul, body, mind, woman’s intuition.

  How could she have been so wrong? What had happened? Why?

  As she reached down for the package, she recognized the handwriting. It was Matt’s. There was no doubt about it.

  She wanted to hurl the package away with all the power and strength in her body, and nearly dropped it.

  She didn’t. Too much self-control—that was her problem. One of her problems. Katie stared at the package for some time. Finally, she took a deep breath and tore away the brown paper wrapping.

  What she found inside was a small antique-looking diary. Katie frowned. She didn’t understand. Then she felt her stomach begin to knot.

  Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas was handwritten on its front cover—handwritten, but it wasn’t Matt’s handwriting.

  Suzanne’s?

  Suddenly Katie’s head was reeling and she could barely catch a breath. She couldn’t think straight, either. Matt had always been closemouthed and secretive about his past. One of the things she had found out was that his wife’s name was Suzanne. That much had slipped out one night after they had drunk two bottles of wine. But then Matt hadn’t wanted to talk about Suzanne.

  The only arguments they’d ever had were over the silence about his past. Katie had insisted on knowing more, which only made Matt quieter and more mysterious. It was so unlike him. After they actually had a fight about it, he’d told her that he wasn’t married to Suzanne anymore; he swore it, but that was all he was going to say on the subject.

  Who was Nicholas? And why had Matt sent her this diary? Why now? She was completely puzzled, and more than a little upset.

  Katie’s fingers were trembling as she opened the diary to its first page. A note from Matt was affixed. Her eyes began to well up, and she angrily wiped the tears away. She read what he’d written.

  Dear Katie,

  No words or actions could begin to tell you what I’m feeling now. I’m so sorry about what I allowed to happen between us. It was all my fault, of course. I take all the blame. You are perfect, wonderful, beautiful. It’s not you. It’s me.

  Maybe this diary will explain things better than I ever could. If you have the heart, read it.

  It’s about my wife and son, and me.

  I will warn you, though, there will be parts that may be hard for you to read.

  I never expected to fall in love with you, but I did.

  Matt

  Katie turned the page.

  THE DIARY

  Dear Nicholas, my little prince —

  There were years and years when I wondered if I would ever be a mother.

  During this time, I had a recurring daydream that it would be so wonderful and wise to make a videotape every year for my children and tell them who I was, what I thought about, how much I loved them, what I worried about, the things that thrilled me, made me laugh or cry, made me think in new ways. And, of course, all my most personal secrets.

  I would have treasured such videotapes if my mother and father had recorded them each year, to tell me who they were, what they felt about me and the world.

  As it turned out, I don’t know who they are, and that’s a little sad. No, it’s a lot sad.

  So, I am going to make a videotape for you every year—but there’s something else I want to do for you, sweet boy.

  I want to keep a diary, this diary, and I promise to be faithful about writing in it.

  As I write this very first entry, you are two weeks old. But I want to start by telling you about some things that happened before you were born. I want to start before the beginning, so to speak.

  This is for your eyes only, Nick.

  This is what happened to Nicholas, Suzanne, and Matt.

  Let me start the story on a warm and fragrant spring night in Boston.

  I was working at Massachusetts General Hospital at the time. I had been a physician for eight years. There were moments that I absolutely loved, cherished: seeing patients get well, and even being with some when it was clear they wouldn’t recover. Then there were the bureaucracy and the hopeless inadequacy of our country’s current health-care program. There were my own inadequacies as well.

  I had just come off a twenty-four-hour rotation and I was tired beyond anything you can imagine. I was out walking my trusted and faithful golden retriever, Gustavus, a.k.a. Gus.

  I suppose I should give you a little snapshot of myself back then. I had long blond hair, stood about five foot five, not exactly beautiful but nice enough to look at, a friendly smile most of the time, for most of the human race. Not too caught up in appearances.

  It was a late F
riday afternoon, and I remember that the weather was so nice, the air was sweet and as clear as crystal. It was the kind of day that I live for.

  I can see it all as if it just happened.

  Gus had sprinted off to harass and chase a poor, defenseless city duck that had wandered away from the safety of the pond. We were in the Boston Public Gar- den, by the swan boats. This was our usual walk, especially if Michael, my boyfriend, was working, as he was that night.

  Gus had broken from his lead, and I ran after him. He is a gifted retriever, who lives to retrieve anything: balls, Frisbees, paper wrappers, soap bubbles, reflections on the windows of my apartment.

  As I ran after Gus, I was suddenly struck by the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. Jesus, what is this?

  It was so intense that I fell to my hands and knees.

  Then it got worse. Razor-sharp knives were shooting up and down my arm, across my back, and into my jaw. I gasped. I couldn’t catch my breath. I couldn’t focus on anything in the Public Garden. Everything was a blur. I couldn’t actually be sure of what was happening to me, but something told me heart.

  What was wrong with me?

  I wanted to cry out for help, but even a few words were beyond me. The tree-laden Garden was spinning like a whirligig. Concerned people began crowding around, then hovering over me.

  Gus had come skulking back. I heard him barking over my head. Then he was licking my cheek, but I barely felt his tongue.

  I was flat on my back, holding my chest.

  Heart? My God. I am only thirty-five years old.

  “Get an ambulance,” someone cried. “She’s in trouble. I think she’s dying.”

  I am not! I wanted to shout. I can’t be dying.

  My breathing was becoming shallower and I was fading to black, to nothingness. Oh, God, I thought. Stay alive, breathe, keep conscious, Suzanne.

  That’s when I remember reaching out for a stone that was near me in the dirt. Hang on to this stone, I thought, hang on tight. I believed it was the only thing that would keep me attached to the earth at that scary moment. I wanted to call out for Michael, but I knew it wouldn’t help.

 
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