Bailey Jordan has loved her husband, Brad, since they were ten years old. She's followed him on every adventure--opening a sweater store in Seattle, a café in Colorado, a surf shop in Santa Monica. Each time, she's picked up the pieces when things fell apart. But now, it's her turn. Bailey has a successful real estate career in Manhattan, and she's eager to start a family--until a car crash leaves Brad in a coma and changes their lives forever.
Awakening after his near-death experience, Brad has a new mission. He buys a lighthouse on the Hudson River, planning to turn it into a B&B. Grateful to have Brad alive, Bailey tries to make his dream her own. The lighthouse is beautiful, but the challenges--renovating, bringing in supplies by boat, navigating the locals and guests--are enormous. And then Bailey discovers a secret in Brad's past that compels her to question her husband, her marriage, and how far she'll go to keep them both. . .
Thoughtful and moving, The Things I Do for You exhibits a rare understanding of the joys, compromises, and small rebellions that lie at the heart of every marriage, and of the resilience and surprising power of love.
Praise for Mary Carter's My Sister's Voice
"At once a story about love and loss, family and friends, the world of the hearing and that of the deaf, My Sister's Voice satisfies on many levels." --Holly Chamberlin, author of Summer Friends
"Gripping, entertaining and honest. This is a unique, sincere story about the invisible, unbreakable bonds of sisterhood that sustain us no matter how far they're buried." --Cathy Lamb, author of A Different Kind of Normal
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July 31, 2012
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Excerpt from The Things I Do For You by Mary Carter
Bailey Jordan couldn't believe she was going to get away with it. Were they insane? Was she wrong to take advantage of their crippled mental states? If they all survived a plane crash but were stranded on a snow-covered mountaintop without so much as a bag of chips, would she eat them? Could she eat them? She kept waiting for them to tell her it was all a big joke. But they didn't. They kept walking. This was how people got ahead in the world, they bulldozed over friends and family the second they let down their guard. So she would do it. She would not only cross the finish line, she would sprint past it. She would show them. She could not blow this. Because the real reason they were letting her do this, the only reason they were letting her do this, was because they didn't believe she could actually do it.
I could eat you, she repeated to herself. Wouldn't want to--but could. I could eat you, I could eat you, I could eat you.
She was on her way to show an exclusive penthouse overlooking Central Park. It didn't seem real. Yet here she was, strolling down Fifth Avenue. She should be taking deep breaths, visualizing the sale, and soaking up the faint scent of tulips swaying in the warm May breeze. Instead, she was obsessing on eating her mentors. That couldn't be good. She should focus on something else, anything else. How about shadows? There were the shadows of the trees looming over the sidewalk, her long shadow striking out ahead of her, and of course, the two elongated shadows tailing her.
Shadow one, her aunt Faye, owner of Penthouses on Parade. Shadow two, Jason Biggs, an ironically small man and the second in command at the high-paced, high-profile agency. Jason was being a good sport. If Bailey were him, she would hate her. Faye was only letting Bailey do this because she was family. Jason was the one who should be showing the penthouse. He had the experience, and the seniority. Bailey had only had her real estate license less than a year. She didn't deserve this opportunity; she knew it, and everyone else knew it. Losing herself in shadows was the only thing keeping Bailey from shrinking into a ball of nerves and rolling down Fifth Avenue with the rest of the midday traffic. Faye's high heels clicking on the sidewalk and Jason's cell phone constantly beeping were driving her crazy. If only she could figure out how to remain classy, yet firmly kick both of them to the curb.
Instead, she focused on putting one foot in front of the other. She crossed Fifth Avenue, snapped pictures of The Frick Collection (a gorgeous small art museum where her prospective clients had recently married) with her cell phone, and peeked in her purse to make sure the chocolate-chip-scented candle was still in one piece. Then, because Faye and Jason were lagging behind, she stopped and fussed with her hair in the window of an off-duty taxi parked at the curb. Was it her imagination, or had the lovely May breeze just turned into a kite-flying wind? When they finally caught up, Jason's look said it all. It took hours for her stylist to straighten her frizz-prone chestnut hair, still hanging slightly below her breasts despite her stylist's desire to hack it to chin level, but only seconds for the great outdoors to whip it into a frenzy. This afternoon Mother Nature was acting more like Mommie Dearest.
Bailey pulled her hair back, secured it with a rubber band, and practiced the spiel she hoped would cinch the sale of the Fifth Avenue penthouse.
"Imagine, if you lived here, you'd pass the Frick museum every day on your way to work--"
"Don't mention work," Faye interrupted. "You never want them to associate work with home."
"Oh," Bailey said. "Of course." How could she make such a rookie mistake? Because that's what she was, an amateur. She was hardly a cannibal, a disappointment to the tribe. Sweat pooled underneath her armpits, and her new high heels carved blisters into her feet. Why didn't she bring deodorant, or perfume, or Band-Aids, or tequila? "Imagine. If you lived here you'd pass the Frick museum every Saturday on your way to the park for a leisurely afternoon stroll--"
"Rich people don't stroll," Faye said.
"Or go to the park," Jason said.
"They're too busy," Faye said.
"Too busy to stroll or go to the park?" Bailey asked.
"Both," Faye said. "They walk briskly--"
"And gaze at the park from their balconies, marveling at all the tiny people below them," Jason said. He touched his Blue- tooth and turned his head. "Penthouses on Parade, Jason Biggs speaking." Two ticks for poverty, Bailey thought. She couldn't imagine a life without strolls through the park. She took a deep breath and started her spiel all over again.
"Imagine, you'll pass the Frick museum every day in your limo and remember where you first made your love legal," Bailey said. She could already see Faye shaking her head.
"That makes it sound like their affair was something illicit," Faye said.
"It kind of was," Bailey said. "But you're right. I won't say it." She took a second deep breath and gestured in the direction of the Frick. "Remember where you first took your holy vows."
"They got married in a museum next to a floor full of koi," Jason said. "How holy could it have been?" Bailey wanted to rip the Bluetooth out of his ear. How could he navigate two conversations at once? Bailey felt her stomach cramp, and she prayed they didn't notice her grimace.
"Relive where you first fell in love," Bailey said. Still not right. Their famous clients, Allissa and Greg, fell in love at first sight on the subway. She was a fashion model who fainted on the uptown four, he the financial mogul who caught her in his arms as she went down. It was Fashion Week in New York, and Allissa hadn't eaten in four days. Neither of them had ever ridden the subway before. She was doing it for a reality television show audition; his Lexus had been hit by a bus. As he cradled her in his arms, his overpowering cologne woke her up. The cameras following Allissa for the reality show had captured it all. It wasn't long before the video went viral, even overtaking the one of the rat on the train, climbing up the arm of a sleeping homeless man. Turns out New Yorkers were softies after all.
The fashionista and the financier. Their day of transit slumming led to a whirlwind romance, nonstop media attention, and marriage. New Yorkers had dubbed them "the Fairytalers" and couldn't get enough of the dynamic duo. And Bailey was the lucky Realtor showing them a penthouse. And not just any penthouse. It was the most beautiful two-bedroom, two-bath Bailey had ever seen. She would die to live in it herself. She couldn't imagine anyone saying no to it. And oh yes, it was just down the block from the Frick museum where the couple got married. It was like winning the lottery.
The opportunity of a lifetime. One she had no intention of squandering. One that would not only skyrocket her reputation and pay handsomely, but a sale that would give Bailey the one thing she wanted more than anything else in the world. A baby.
She was thirty-six; they had to start trying. But her husband, Brad, having grown up with a mother who spent money on gin and cocaine first and incidentals like food, heat, and electricity second, third, and fourth, insisted they not start their family until they were financially secure. And he was talking New York City financially secure, a whole different ballgame than, say, middle-of-nowhere Midwest financially secure. He wanted their child to grow up loved, and fed, and clothed, and educated. So did she.
But so far they slightly disagreed, couldn't quite put their fingers on an amount guaranteeing security. The commission from this sale would definitely do it. She could already feel their baby in her arms, see the two of them strolling through the park. For despite what Jason claimed, when rich, they would still stroll through the park. And play on the playgrounds, and visit the animals in the zoo, and picnic in the meadow, and ride the carousel, and eat hot dogs and ice cream in moderation, and take turns carrying him or her on their shoulders, and watch Little League games, and share a quiet smile when their exhausted but happy child fell asleep on the way home. She could see their entire family life unfolding in the park. She hoped their baby had her olive skin and Brad's dimples, her loyalty and Brad's charm. But, of course, first and foremost, they just wanted a healthy and happy baby.
Seize the day! She'd been repeating it to herself ad nauseam, trying to psych herself up, build up a little momentum. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only thing building up in her. Gas. Big mistake, having Mexican for lunch. It was all Brad's fault. He just had to call her and rave about the Taco Truck. How he'd seen it on a cooking show, how it was winning all sorts of awards, and how fortuitous it was that today only it would be parked near Faye's office on the Upper East Side. Brad made her swear she'd try it today and report back to him. It was starting to feel like her report was going to be nonverbal: silent but deadly. She was going to kill him. She couldn't lose this sale to flatulence. If she felt something coming on, she was going to have to find an excuse to run out to the balcony. If all else failed, she could always throw herself off it. Death by Taco Truck. Bailey laughed at the thought. Faye shot her a look. Bailey relaxed her lips and donned a more professional expression. The only person she would have shared her crazy thoughts with was Brad.
For the first time in their wild love story, Brad was the one out of work, waiting at home for her. And if she didn't pull off this sale, he would be there to comfort her. He had two bottles of champagne waiting in the fridge. The expensive one in case they were celebrating, and a cheaper one in case they were just drowning their sorrows. It was Brad's idea, and Bailey loved it. Of course she still prayed they'd be popping open the Dom, but knowing they were going to drink champagne either way eased her anxiety. And she had a surprise for him. A silver rattle. It was exquisite. So soft, and slightly heavy, and so comforting cradled in the palm of her hand. It had been expensive, but well worth it. The perfect way to announce it was time. After toasting with the bottle of Dom, he would say, "Speech, speech!" and she would pull out the rattle and clink it on her glass and shake it with a come-hither look. He'd probably rip her clothes off right then and there. Her stomach gurgled. Jason glanced at her and then exchanged a look with Faye. Oh yes, she could eat him. Beano. Why didn't I buy Beano?
"I will do this," Bailey said as they neared the building. "I will make this sale." Faye reached out and grabbed Bailey's arm. For such a tall, slim woman, she had a grip like a linebacker.
"Darling," she said. "You have to know the Fairytalers have no hope in h-e-double-hockey-sticks of ever making up their minds. This is practice. Nothing more."
Faye and Jason had already shown the couple hundreds of hot properties in Manhattan, and they'd snubbed every one of them.
"They're a fairy-tale couple all right," Jason said. "Goldilocks and the Bear. This one's too small. This one's too big. This one's too old." As he prattled on, Faye grabbed Bailey's hands and held them up for inspection.
"I thought you were going to do something about this!" she cried. Bailey yanked her nail-bitten hands away.
"I got my hair done instead," she said. She'd done her best, and clearly, it still wasn't enough. Salon-straightened hair and a new outfit: a pencil-thin gray skirt, matching jacket with just a touch of her black camisole peeking out, classy pearls, barely black hose, and her new black stilettos. Brad had gone with her to pick out the outfit, and even bought himself a new pair of shoes. It tugged on her heartstrings, how happy Brad was with a new pair of shoes. Everything from his childhood was pre- owned. She hated that he'd had such a tough time as a kid, but she loved the appreciation he had for the things most people took for granted. Who was she kidding? All these years and she was still insanely in love, bordering on obsessed with her husband. Thus, the Taco Truck. One of these days she was going to have to learn how to say no to Brad Jordan.
"Are you limping?" Faye said. "You look like you're limping."
"New shoes," Bailey said.
"Rookie mistake," Jason said. Bailey ignored them. Despite the pain in her feet and the rumble in her gut, she felt sexy and sophisticated. And afterward, she figured the outfit could do double duty and she'd seduce her handsome husband with her new, sleek self. But she'd forgotten to take into account the wind, both outside and inside. And she hadn't had time to get her nails done. Besides, she didn't want fake nails, and there was nothing she could do but wait for them to grow out, or finally grow up and stop biting them. She certainly didn't expect Faye to examine her so closely. At least she'd removed the silver coyote-head ring she always wore on her middle finger.
"Whatever you do, don't let them see those gnawed-on mitts," Faye said.
"Do you have gloves?" Jason said. He mimed putting on long pairs of gloves like an opera diva.
"Certainly," Bailey said. "And rope, and a stun gun, and duct tape. Everything I need to ensure a sale. Real Estate 101, my friend."
Jason rolled his eyes. "Hold your hands behind your back," he said, demonstrating. "And smile." Bailey smiled. She looked at Jason and stopped. How many condescending expressions did the man have? "That was way too much," he said. "You want to look friendly, but not happy."
"Why wouldn't I want to look happy?"
"Because they're not happy."
"Of course not. Nobody's happy. So if you look too happy, it's going to depress them."
"So why don't I just not smile?"
"Because you have to pretend to be happy. Just a lot less happy than they are. You want them to think you're secretly miserable but pretending to be happy because you're so jealous of their 'genuine' happiness. My God, Faye, have you taught her nothing?"
"She's stubborn. She gets it from my sister."
Jason shook his head and clicked on his Bluetooth. "Andrew Jackson, assistant to Jason Biggs."
Bailey turned to Faye and raised her eyebrows. Faye smiled and pointed to herself.
I taught him that, she mouthed.
"Sorry, he's not in right now. No, the two-bedroom sold, but there's a lovely loft in Soho that he's just dying to show you. No, there's not, but there's certainly room for one. Of course not! In fact, Jason showed me the place just last night and I thought to myself, what this place needs is a full-sized carousel. I can't believe how you read my mind. Uh-huh. No outdoor space, but the fire escape fits at least six. Pets are a no-go in Soho. A python? I don't know. Does he come when you call him? Then it's probably a pet. Sorry, that's my other line." Jason clicked off. His head began to swivel right and left.
"What's that smell?" he said.
"It must be garbage," Bailey said, clenching her stomach.
As they approached the entrance to the beautiful limestone building where their penthouse awaited, Bailey's attention was arrested by a patch of bright yellow tulips shimmering in the dredges of the afternoon sun. Bailey loved the month of May, littering the city with her favorite color. How simple happiness was sometimes; how free. The color yellow made Bailey happy. It was one of the things Brad loved about her, how much she loved the color yellow.
"Because of you," Brad had said, "I'll never think of yellow the same way again. No matter what." She was twenty-one when he said that to her. First she obsessed on how romantic that was, then she switched to analyzing the "No matter what."
What did he mean by that? Was he already forecasting a future breakup? She'd forever changed his relationship to the color yellow. Was that supposed to be a consolation prize? And if so, was that enough?
"Bails," he said when she complained to him. "Name all the things you can that are yellow. Go."
The sun, flowers, signs, school buses, traffic lights, lemons, plastic squeeze containers of mustard, not to mention the mustard itself, urine--
"Urine?" Brad said. "Urine?!"
Gross maybe, but it still counted, and since he drank a lot of water, always carried around whatever new magic water was on the market, it was a logical choice.
For the rest of his life, simple, everyday and sometimes mundane, ugly objects or disgusting bodily fluids would remind him of her. And she supposed that was good enough.
If, each time he saw the color yellow, some semblance of a thought of her ran through him, yes, that would definitely be of some consolation. Although there was no court of law, no law-abiding-yellow rule that would force him to follow it, still it was out there, as energy, his proclamation. They were forever bound by the color yellow till-death-do-they-part. It would have to be enough.
Was that what love was? Forever changing you in the tiniest of ways, so that no matter what, you'd never be the same again? She had a million little references like that with Brad as well, probably way more than he had with her, but it was enough, knowing he would never look at yellow the same way ever again. And they were still together. She'd never faced "No matter what." At their wedding he gave her a hundred yellow roses.
If Faye and Jason weren't watching her every move, she'd love to cut a few of the tulips to bring up to the penthouse. Not that she'd ever really do such a thing. There were a million things Bailey thought about doing, and very few she ever actually did. Brad was the risk taker, the kite soaring for the clouds; Bailey was the one with her feet on the ground, holding the string, poised to tug him back to earth whenever he'd gone too far. So, no stolen tulips for her clients today, but at least she had the chocolate-chip-scented candle in her purse. If only she'd had the time to actually bake chocolate-chip cookies. Imagine a New Yorker having that kind of time! She paused for one more look at the glorious bulbs and soothed her rule-following self with the thought that, once cut, the tulips would have lost most of their brilliance anyway. After all, it was the targeted ray of sunshine making them glitter, and even a wild child couldn't cut down the sun.
"Hands behind back," Bailey said. "Smile, but not too much."
"I just don't get it," Jason said. "How come I can smell the garbage but I can't see it?"
Bailey dug the candle out of her purse and held it up. "Maybe I should light this now," she said.