Saturday Excerpt: As You Wish by Jude Deveraux
Three different women unite and discover that, even though they are at different stages of their lives, they have more in common than they could ever imagine. For today’s Saturday Excerpt, we’re delighted to bring you a look at As You Wish by Jude Deveraux.
About As You Wish:
One fateful summer, three very different women find themselves together in Summer Hill, Virginia, where they find they have much more in common than they realized…
Sixty-year-old Olivia’s first marriage was long and unhappy, but now she is a newlywed, thrilled to finally be starting her life with the man she’s always truly loved—even if they are getting a late start. Kathy is in her forties and married to a handsome, successful businessman. Theirs would be a fairy-tale romance if it weren’t for one problem: he’s passionately in love with someone else! Twentysomething Elise is also in a troubled marriage, stuck with the man her wealthy parents chose for her. Now that he has a pregnant mistress, he seems willing to go to drastic lengths to take Elise out of the picture.
Though each of them wound up at the summerhouse for separate reasons, it’s not long before they begin to open up about their regrets, their wishes and their dreams. And when they’re presented with the opportunity of a lifetime—a chance to right the wrongs of their past—all three discover what can happen when dreams really do come true.
A heartfelt, magical tale, As You Wish is a shining example of Jude Deveraux’s enchanting storytelling that will charm longtime fans and delight a new generation of readers.
“GET STRONG. GET TAN. THINK YOU’RE SMART ENOUGH to do those two things, kid?”
The man was as tall as Kit, a couple of inches over six feet, but he was very wide. Kit wondered if three of himself, glued side by side, would be as wide as this officer. With his short black hair, he looked like a cartoon bear.
“Yes, sir.” Kit’s back was so straight it was like steel.
“And when we pick you up in the fall, if you pull your pants down, I don’t want to see your shiny white ass. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, sir. I’m to sunbathe in the nude.” As soon as he said the words he knew they were wrong. They sounded too elitist, too much like who he was, which was not “one of the guys.” His father didn’t lube cars. Dad had stopped a couple of tribal wars in the Middle East, but that wasn’t something Kit could brag about. When the big man leaned closer, as much as Kit wanted to step away, he didn’t. “Was that a remark? A joke? Are you laughing at me, kid?”
“No, sir!” Kit practically yelled the words. Sweat was running down the back of his neck.
It was 6:00 a.m. and he’d been pulled out of an early training session to go to this man’s office. But he hadn’t minded. At nineteen, he was the youngest of the recruits—some of whom had spent a couple of years in Vietnam—and he’d been hassled the most.
“You been weaned yet, kid? Potty trained?”
“Miss your mommie, do you?”
“A few years back I had a one-nighter with a girl named Montgomery. Think I could be your daddy?”
Kit had smiled through it all, but each barb had made him more determined to do a job that he was uniquely qualified for. The big man took a step back from Kit. “You…bathe—” his tone made fun of the word “—however you want to, but in September I want you and that big nose of yours lookin’ like you’ve always lived in the desert. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, sir, you do.”
The man took another step back and looked Kit up and down in contempt. Like all his father’s family, Kit was tall and lean, built more like a runner than this guy, who could probably bench-press cars. “I don’t know what they were thinking when they got you,” he muttered. “You’re just a boy, and you’re so skinny you could slide through a keyhole.” He shook his head. “Do I have to remind you that no one—not even your famous daddy—is to know what some idiot picked you out to do?”
“No, sir, you don’t.”
“You think, Montgomery, that you can hang around your kinfolk and not tell them why you are—what did you call it?— sunbathing in the nude?”
“I won’t be with them, sir.” Kit wasn’t looking at the man directly, but staring over his shoulder.
“Oh, that’s right.” The man had a sneer in his voice. “You’re rich. Own lots of houses, do you?”
Kit wasn’t sure if he was supposed to answer that or not. Some time ago he’d realized that he couldn’t spend the summer before he shipped out with his family. They were too perceptive and too nosy. They’d know he was up to something and they’d do whatever was necessary to find out what it was. And knowing them, they just might make sure it didn’t happen.
No one was to know that he was training to go undercover in Libya. A young man named Muammar al-Gaddafi had just taken over the country and Kit was to find out what he planned to do. Thanks to his life with his diplomat father, Kit was f luent in Arabic in all its dialects. From the classic, to the Lebanese that was half French, to the Arabic spoken by the Saudis that came from inside a person’s throat, he knew them all.
And Kit had inherited the hawk nose of his father’s family and the dark eyes of the Italian ancestry of his mother. With a tan and in the right clothes, he could sit in a souk, smoke a bubble pipe, and no one would pay any attention to him.
Months ago, one of his father’s friends, a former American ambassador to Syria, had spent a week at their house in Cairo. Kit had seen the man watching him as he played kickball with Egyptians, ate schwarma from a street vendor, and as he got into a loud argument in Arabic with a cabdriver. Just before the ambassador left, he’d asked to speak to Kit in private. He started by asking if Kit would like to help his country. It had been a dramatic opening that appealed to Kit’s deep patriotism. Without hesitation he’d said yes.
It hadn’t been easy to lie to his family and say he wanted to take a year off from college to bum around the world. Only his father seemed to guess the truth. He’d stared at his son for a while, then said, “What can we do to help you prepare for this…this trip?”
“Get me away from here,” Kit said before he thought, but his father had nodded in understanding.
Two days later, Kit received an invitation to spend the summer at Tattwell, an old plantation owned by relatives of his mother, the Tattingtons.
When Kit was silent at the question, the big man waved his hand. “Go on. Get out of here. Just remember that I’ll be one of them that picks you up and you better be fit and dark. Now go!” The next night Kit arrived in Summer Hill, Virginia, and the next day he looked into the eyes of the woman he would love for the rest of his life. But Miss Olivia Paget didn’t feel the same way about him. In fact, she felt exactly the opposite. As though his life depended on it, Kit worked to change her mind.