About the Book
Everything is falling to pieces for Francesca Thayer. Her beautiful old house is full of leaks and in need of total restoration. Then her relationship with lawyer Todd collapses and he moves out. As the owner of a struggling art gallery she can’t possibly manage the mortgage alone, so she is forced to do the one thing she never imagined she would: she advertises for lodgers.
First arrives Eileen – a young, attractive schoolteacher who has just moved from LA.
Then comes Chris, a newly divorced father struggling with a difficult ex-wife and the challenges of parenting his seven-year-old son who visits every other weekend.
Last to arrive is Marya – a famous cookery author who is hoping to rebuild her life after the death of her husband.
And so Francesca finds that her house has become a whole new world – and as things begin to turn around, she realizes that her accidental tenants have become the most important people in her life. Over their year together, the house at 44 Charles Street fills with laughter, hope and heartbreak.
And Francesca discovers that she might be able to open her heart again after all…
About the Author
Danielle Steel is one of the world's most popular and highly acclaimed authors, with eighty international bestselling novels in print and 600 million copies sold. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick ’Traina's‘ life and death. She lives in California and Paris.
Also by Danielle Steel
MATTERS OF THE HEART
FIVE DAYS IN PARIS
ONE DAY AT A TIME
A GOOD WOMAN
NO GREATER LOVE
MESSAGE FROM NAM
SUNSET IN ST. TROPEZ
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
LEAP OF FAITH
A PERFECT STRANGER
THE HOUSE ON HOPE STREET
TO LOVE AGAIN
SEASON OF PASSION
HIS BRIGHT LIGHT:
The Story of Nick Traina
THE KLONE AND I
NOW AND FOREVER
THE LONG ROAD HOME
*Published outside the UK under the title PASSION’S PROMISE
For more information on Danielle Steel and her books, see her website at
This eBook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.
Epub ISBN 9781409092797
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A Random House Group Company
First published in the United States
in 2011 by Delacorte Press,
an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group,
a division of Random House, Inc., New York
First published in Great Britain
in 2011 by Bantam Press
an imprint of Transworld Publishers
Copyright © Danielle Steel 2011
Danielle Steel has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBNs 9780593063040 (cased)
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About the Book
About the Author
Also by Danielle Steel
To my wonderful, beloved children,
Beatie, Trevor, Todd, Nick, Sam,
Victoria, Vanessa, Maxx, and Zara.
Please be safe, be careful,
be happy, be loved,
and, whenever possible, wise,
compassionate, and forgiving.
And may you always be
lucky and blessed.
A perfect recipe for life.
With all my love,
Mommy / d.s.
FRANCESCA THAYER SAT at her desk until the figures started to blur before her eyes. She had been over them a thousand times in the past two months—and had just spent the entire weekend trying to crunch numbers. They always came out the same. It was three o’clock in the morning and her long wavy blond hair was a tangled mess as she unconsciously ran her hands through it again. She was trying to save her business and her house, and so far she hadn’t been able to come up with a solution. Her stomach turned over as she thought of losing both.
She and Todd had started the business together four years ago. They’d opened an art gallery in New York’s West Village where they specialized in showing the work of emerging artists at extremely reasonable prices. She had a deep commitment to the artists she represented. Her experience in the art world had been extensive, although Todd had none at all. Before that, she had run two other galleries, one uptown after she graduated, and the other in Tribeca. But this gallery that they had started together was her dream. She had a degree in fine arts, her father was a well-known artist who had become very successful in recent years, and the gallery she shared with Todd had gotten excellent reviews. Todd was an avid collector of contemporary work, and he thought that helping her start the gallery would be fun. At the time, Todd was tired of his own career on Wall Street as an attorney. He had a considerable amount of money saved and figured he could coast for a few years. The business plan he had developed for them showed them making money within three years. He hadn’t counted on Francesca’s passion for less expensive work by entirely unknown artists, helping them whenever possible, nor had he realized that her main goal was showcasing the work, but not necessarily making a lot of money at it. Her hunger for financial success was far more limited than his. She was as much a patron of the arts as a gallerist. Todd was in it to make money. He thought it would be exciting and a welcome change of career for him after years of doing tax and estate work for an important law firm. But now he said he was tired of listening to their bleeding-heart artists, watching his nest egg dwindle to next to nothing, and being poor. As far as Todd was concerned, this was no longer fun. He was forty years old, and wanted to make real money again. When he talked to her about it he had already lined up a job at a Wall Street firm. They were promising him a partnership within a year. As far as selling art was concerned, he was done.
Francesca wanted to stick with it and make the gallery a success, whatever it took. And unlike Todd, she didn’t mind being broke. But in the past year, their relationship had begun to unravel, which made their business even less appealing to him. They argued about everything, what they did, who they saw, what to do about the gallery. She found the artists, worked with them, and curated the shows. Todd handled the money end of things and paid the bills.
The worst of it was that their relationship was over now too. They had been together for five years. Francesca had just turned thirty when she met him, and Todd was thirty-five.
It was hard for her to believe that a relationship that had seemed so solid could fall apart so totally in a year. They had never wanted to get married and now they disagreed about that too. When Todd hit forty, he suddenly decided he wanted a conventional life. Marriage was sounding good to him and he didn’t want to wait much longer to have kids. At thirty-five, she still wanted what she had when they met five years before. They had talked about maybe having kids one day, but she wanted to turn their gallery into a success first. Francesca had been very honest with him about marriage when they met, that she had an aversion to it. She had had a front-row seat all her life to her mother’s obsession with getting married—and she watched her screw it up five times. Francesca had spent her entire life trying not to make the same mistakes. Her mother had always been an embarrassment to her. And she had no desire whatsoever to start emulating her now.
Francesca’s parents had gotten divorced when she was six. She had also watched her extremely handsome, charming, irresponsible father drift in and out of relationships, usually with very young girls who never lasted in his life for more than six months. That, combined with her mother’s fetish for marriage, had made Francesca commitment-phobic until she met Todd. His parents’ own bitter divorce when he was fourteen had made him skittish about marriage too. They had had that in common, but now he had begun to think that marriage made sense. He told her he was tired of their bohemian lifestyle where people lived together and thought it was fine to have kids without getting married. As soon as Todd blew out the candles on his fortieth birthday cake, it was as if a switch were turned on, and without any warning, he turned traditional on her. Francesca preferred things exactly as they were and had always been.
Now suddenly, in recent months, all of Todd’s friends seemed to live uptown. He complained about the West Village where they lived, and which she loved. He thought the neighborhood and people in it looked scuzzy. To complicate matters further, not long after they opened the gallery, they had fallen in love with a house that was in serious disrepair. They had discovered it on a snowy December afternoon and were instantly excited, and had gotten it at a great price because of the condition it was in. They restored it together, doing most of the work themselves. If they weren’t working in the gallery, they were busy with the house, and within a year everything in it gleamed. They bought furniture at garage sales, and little by little they had turned it into a home they loved. Now Todd claimed that he had spent all of the last four years lying under a leaky sink, or making repairs. He wanted an easy modern condominium where someone else did all the work. Francesca was desperately fighting for the life of their business and the house. Despite the failure of the relationship, she wanted to keep both, and didn’t see how she could. It was bad enough losing Todd without losing the gallery and her home too.
They had both tried everything they could to save the relationship, to no avail. They had gone to couples counseling and individual therapy. They had taken a two-month break. They had talked and communicated until they were blue in the face. They had compromised on everything they could. But he wanted to close or sell the gallery, which would have broken her heart. And he wanted to get married and have kids and she didn’t, or at least not yet—and maybe never. The idea of marriage still made her cringe, even to a man she loved. She thought his new friends were dreary beyond belief. He thought their old ones were limited and trite. He said he was tired of vegans, starving artists, and what he considered left-wing ideals. She had no idea how they had grown so far apart in a few short years, but they had.
They had spent last summer apart, doing different things. Instead of sailing in Maine as they usually did, she spent three weeks in an artists’ colony, while he went to Europe and traveled with friends and went to the Hamptons on weekends. By September, a year after the fighting had begun, they both knew it was hopeless and agreed to give up. What they couldn’t agree on was what to do about the gallery and the house. She had put everything she had and could scrape up into her half of the house, and now if she wanted to keep it, he expected her to buy him out, or agree to sell it. They had less invested in the business, and what he wanted from her was fair. The problem was that she just didn’t have it. He was giving her time to figure it out. Now it was November, and she was no closer to a solution than she had been two months before. He was waiting for her to get sensible and finally give up.
Todd wanted to sell the house by the end of the year, or recoup his share. And he wanted to be out of the business by then too. He was still helping her on weekends when he had time, but his heart was no longer in it, and it was becoming increasingly stressful for both of them to live under one roof in a relationship that was dead. They hadn’t slept with each other in months, and whenever possible he spent the weekend with friends. It was sad for both of them. Francesca was upset about ending the relationship, but she was equally stressed about the gallery and the house. She had the bitter taste of defeat in her mouth, and she hated everything about it. It was bad enough that their relationship had failed—five years seemed like a long time to wind up at ground zero in her life again. Closing the gallery, or selling it, and losing the house was just more than she could bear. But as she sat staring at the numbers, in an old sweatshirt and jeans, she could find no magic there. No matter how she added, subtracted, or multiplied, she just didn’t have the money to buy him out. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she looked at the amounts again.
She knew exactly what her mother was going to say. She had been vehemently opposed to Francesca going into business and buying a house with a man she loved but didn’t intend to marry. She thought it was the worst possible combination of investment and romance. “And what happens when you break up?” her mother had asked, assuming it was inevitable, since all of her own relationships had ended in divorce. “How will you work that out, with no alimony and no settlement?” Her mother thought that all relationships had to start with a prenup and end with spousal support.
“We’d work it out just like your divorces, Mom,” Francesca had answered, annoyed by the suggestion, as she was by most of what her mother said. “With good lawyers, and as much love for each other as we can muster at that point, if that happens, and good manners and respect.”