It was a beautiful day. The sky was a huge arc of delphinium blue, cloudless, and shimmering with bright sunlight above the soaring skyline of Manhattan. The city where I have lived, off and on, for most of my life was looking its best on this cold Saturday morning.
As I walked up Sutton Place, returning to my apartment, I began to shiver. Gusts of strong wind were blowing off the East River, and I was glad I was wearing jeans instead of a skirt, and warm clothes. Still shivering, I turned up the collar of my navy blue pea jacket and wrapped my cashmere scarf tighter around my neck.
It was unusually chilly for March. On the other hand, I was enjoying my walk after being holed up for four days endeavoring to finish a difficult chapter.
Although I am a photojournalist and photographer by profession, I recently decided to write a book, my first. Having hit a difficult part earlier this week, I’d been worrying it to death for days, like a dog with a bone. Finally I got it right last night. It felt good to get out, to stretch my legs, to look around me and to remind myself that there was a big wide world out here.
I increased my pace. Despite the sun, the wind was bitter. The weather seemed to be growing icier by the minute, and I hurried faster, almost running, needing to get home to the warmth.
My apartment was on the corner of Sutton and East Fifty-seventh, and I was relieved when it came into view. Once the traffic light changed, I dashed across the street and into my building, exclaiming to the doorman, as I sped past him, “It’s Arctic weather, Sam.”
“It is, Miss Stone. You’re better off staying inside today.”
I nodded, smiled, headed for the elevator. Once inside my apartment I hung up my scarf and pea jacket in the hall cupboard, went into the kitchen, put the kettle on for tea, and headed for my office.
I glanced at the answering machine on my desk and saw that I had two messages. I sat down, pressed play, and listened.
The first was from my older sister, Cara, who was calling from Nice. “Hi, Serena, it’s me. I’ve found another box of photographs, mostly of Mom. Looking fab. You might want to use a few in the book. Shall I send by FedEx? Or what? I’m heading out now, so leave a message. Or call me tomorrow. Big kiss.”
The second message was from my godfather. “It’s Harry. Just confirming Monday night, honey. Seven-thirty. Usual place. Don’t bother to call back. See ya.”
The whistling kettle brought me to my feet and I went back to the kitchen. As I made the tea I felt a frisson of apprehension, then an odd sense of foreboding … something bad was going to happen … I felt it in my bones.
I pushed this dark feeling away, carried the mug of tea back to my office, telling myself that I usually experienced premonitions only when I was at the front, when I sensed imminent danger, knew I had to run for my life before I was blown to smithereens by a bomb, or took a bullet. To have such feelings now was irrational. I shook my head, chiding myself for being overly imaginative. But in fact I was to remember this moment later and wonder if I had some sort of sixth sense.
Copyright © 2013 by Beaji Enterprises, Inc.
BARBARA TAYLOR BRADFORD was born and brought up in England, where she started her writing career as a journalist. She has written twenty-seven international bestsellers. This is her twenty-eighth novel. In 2007 Queen Elizabeth awarded her the OBE for her literary achievements. She lives in New York with her husband, TV and film producer Robert Bradford.