Popular TV presenter Belle is married to gorgeous billionaire Ivo. But beneath the veneer of her perfect life is the truth of their marriage of convenience.
Belle knows that workaholic Ivo prefers their family of two, but somewhere along the way she fell deeply in love with her husband, and can't help wishing for a baby. Now they must find it within themselves to share the secrets they've never trusted each other with, and make their marriage one in a million again.
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August 06, 2007
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Excerpt from Reunited by Liz Fielding
"...So that's it for Day Nine of the Great Cycling Adventure. Tomorrow I'm told it's going to be 'a gentle, undulating rise'..." Belle Davenport wiped away a trickle of sweat on her sleeve and smiled into the camera. "These guys really have a sense of humour. If seeing me sweating and in pain in a good cause is making you feel good, feel bad, feel anything, please remember any donation you make, no matter how small, will make a real difference..."
Belle Davenport wrapped up for the camera, hit send and, as soon as she'd got a reply confirming it had been safely received, unplugged her satellite phone. It was only then that she realised that what she had thought was sweat was, in fact, blood.
"You do know that he brought you down quite deliberately." Claire Mayfield, an American sharing her tent, as well as her pain, was outraged.
"He helped me up again," Belle pointed out. "Only after he'd taken pictures. You should make a complaint to the organisers. You could have been seriously hurt."
"No whining allowed," she said, then winced as Simone Gray--the third member of their group--having cleaned up the graze on her forehead, started to work on her grazed thigh.
"Sorry...nearly done."Then, tossing the wipe away and applying a dressing, said, "In this world, Claire, it isn't enough for the media that you're putting yourself through seven kinds of torture to raise money for street kids. They want you down in the dirt too." Simone was executive editor of an Australian women's magazine. She knew what she was talking about.
"Glamour, excitement, sleazebags with cameras waiting to catch you with your face in the mud,"Belle confirmed, with a wry smile.
"In London, okay," Claire persisted. Then, "Actually, it's not okay, but I suppose in your business you learn to live with the intrusion. But halfway up the Himalayas?"
"Are we only halfway up? It feels higher." Then, shaking her head, Belle said, "Simone's right, Claire. It's all part of the game. No complaints. I've been at the top of my particular tree for a long time. I guess it's my turn to be set up as an Aunt Sally and knocked off."
"Set up?" "Put in a position where not to do it would have made me look mean-spirited, all mouth and no trousers, so to speak. The kind of television personality who encourages others to do the hard work while she sits back on the breakfast telly sofa, flashing her teeth and as much cleavage as the network can get away with at that time in the morning."
"You're not like that." "No?" "No!"
Belle had gone for "arch', but found herself profoundly touched by Claire's belief in her.
"Well, maybe not this time," she admitted, smiling to herself as she remembered just how easy it had been to manipulate the people who thought they were pulling the strings. "It's amazing how far acting dumb will get you."
"So...what? You really wanted to come?" "Shh!" She lifted a finger to her lips. "The walls of tents have ears." She grinned. "All it took was, "If we sent someone for this charity cycle ride it would make a great feature. Lots of opportunities to address a real problem. Get the public to join in with sponsorship." An idle, "Who could we send?", accompanied by just the tiniest shiver of horror at the thought, for the director to get ideas about how much the media would enjoy seeing me getting sweaty and dirty on a bike. The publicity it would generate. Got to think of those ratings..."
For Belle the pain was well worth the extra publicity it would generate for a cause dear to her heart, enabling her to support it publicly without raising any questions about why she cared so much.
Knowing that she was the one pulling the strings didn't take the sting out of her thigh, though. And out here, in the rarefied air of the mountains, spending her time with people who'd financed themselves, who were doing it without any of the publicity circus that inevitably surrounded a breakfast show queen putting herself at the sharp end of fund raising, she was beginning to feel like a fraud. The kind of celebrity who'd do anything to stay in the spotlight, the kind of woman who'd put up with anything to stay in a hollow marriage, because without them she'd be nothing.
She pushed away the thought and said, "If you think this is about the children, rather than ratings, Claire, you are seriously overestimating the moral probity of breakfast television."
It was the ratings grabbing report-to-camera straight from the day's ride--the never-less-than-immaculate Belle Davenport reduced to a dishevelled, sweaty puddle--that the company wanted and the media were undoubtedly relishing. Why else would they have sponsored one of their own to come along and take pictures? But after a week it seemed that honest sweat had got old; now they wanted blood and tears too.