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When survival depends on a…

a cognizant original v5 release october 26 2010

PRAISE FOR

DANIELLE STEEL“A LITERARY PHENOMENON … and not to be pigeonholed as one who produces a predictable kind of book.”—The Detroit News“THE PLOTS OF DANIELLE STEEL'S NOVELS TWIST AND WEAVE as incredible stories unfold to the glee and delight of her enormous reading public.”—United Press International“Ms. Steel's fans won't be disappointed!”—The New York Times Book Review“One counts on Danielle Steel for A STORY THAT ENTERTAINS AND INFORMS.”—The Chattanooga Times“Steel writes convincingly about universal human emotions.”—Publishers Weekly“STEEL IS AT THE TOP OF HER BESTSELLING FORM.”—Houston Chronicle“FEW MODERN WRITERS CONVEY THE PATHOS OF FAMILY AND MARITAL LIFE WITH SUCH HEARTFELT EMPATHY.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer“It's nothing short of amazing that even after [dozens of] novels, Danielle Steel can still come up with a good new yarn.”—The Star-Ledger (Newark)

PRAISE FOR DANIELLE STEEL'S

LEAP OF FAITH“STEEL IS A SKILLED STORYTELLER. [Her] tale provides entertainment and imparts important lessons.”—Booklist“LEAP OF FAITH IS DESTINED FOR THE BESTSELLER LIST …This is exactly the sort of Danielle Steel novel that her fans lap up.”—Ft. Worth Star-Telegram“FAST-PACED …GOOD ENTERTAINMENT …the story moves quickly … As in many of her works, Steel takes her characters through myriad emotions.”—The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Ok.)“Another …from the master.”—Cincinnati EnquirerA MAIN SELECTION OF

THE LITERARY GUILD

AND

THE DOUBLEDAY BOOK CLUB

Also by Danielle Steel

THE COTTAGE     HEARTBEAT THE KISS     MESSAGE FROM NAM LONE EAGLE     DADDY JOURNEY     STAR THE HOUSE ON HOPE STREET     ZOYA THE WEDDING     KALEIDOSCOPE IRRESISTIBLE FORCES     FINE THINGS GRANNY DAN     WANDERLUST BITTERSWEET     SECRETS MIRROR IMAGE     FAMILY ALBUM HIS BRIGHT LIGHT:     CHANGES THE STORY OF NICK TRAINA THE KLONE AND I     THURSTON HOUSE THE LONG ROAD HOME     CROSSINGS THE GHOST     ONCE IN A LIFETIME SPECIAL DELIVERY     A PERFECT STRANGER THE RANCH     REMEMBRANCE SILENT HONOR     PALOMINO MALICE     LOVE: POEMS FIVE DAYS IN PARIS     THE RING LIGHTNING     TO LOVE AGAIN WINGS     SUMMER'S END THE GIFT     SEASON OF PASSION ACCIDENT     THE PROMISE VANISHED     NOW AND FOREVER MIXED BLESSINGS     PASSION'S PROMISE JEWELS     GOING HOME NO GREATER LOVE

For the leaps of faith I have taken,

and those who have held the net for me,

my children, whom I live for,

Beatie, Nick, Sammie, Victoria, Vanessa,

Maxx, Zara, Trevor and Todd.

with all my love,

d.s.

Chapter 1

Marie-Ange Hawkins lay in the tall grass, beneath a huge, old tree, listening to the birds, and watching the puffy white clouds travel across the sky on a sunny August morning. She loved lying there, listening to the bees, smelling the flowers, and helping herself to an apple from the orchards. She lived in a safe, protected world, surrounded by people who loved her. And she particularly loved running free in the summer. She had lived at the Chateau de Marmouton for all of her eleven years, and roamed its woods and hills like a young doe, wading ankle deep in the little stream that ran through it. There were horses and cows, and a proper barnyard on the lower property at the old farmhouse. The men who worked the farm always smiled and waved when they saw her. She was a laughing, happy child, and a free spirit. And most of the time, as she wandered through the tall grass, or picked apples and peaches in the orchard, she was barefoot.

“You look like a little gypsy!” her mother scolded her, but she always smiled when she said it. Frangoise Hawkins adored both her children.

Her son Robert had been born shortly after the war, eleven months after she married John Hawkins. John had started his business, exporting wine, at the same time, and within five years, he had made an immense amount of money. They had bought the Chateau de Marmouton when Marie-Ange was born, and she had grown up there. She went to the local school in the village, the same lycée that Robert had attended. And now, in a month, he was leaving for the Sorbonne, in Paris. He was going to study economics, and eventually work in his father's business. The business had grown by leaps and bounds, and John himself was amazed at how successful it had become, and how comfortable they were as a result of it. Frangoise was very proud of him. She always had been. Theirs was a remarkable and romantic story.

In the last months of the war, as an American soldier, John had been parachuted into France, and broken a leg when he landed in a tree on Frangoise's parents' small farm. She and her mother had been there alone, her father was in the Resistance, and had been out at one of the secret meetings he attended nearly every night. They had hidden John in the attic. Frangoise had been sixteen then, and more than a little dazzled by John's tall, midwestern good looks and charm. He was a farm boy himself and only four years older than she was. Her mother had kept a watchful eye on them, afraid that Frangoise would fall in love with him and do something foolish. But John had been respectful of her, and as much in love eventually as Frangoise was. She taught him French, and he taught her English, in their whispered conversations at night, in the pitch black of the attic. They had never dared to light so much as a candle, for fear that the Germans would see them. He had stayed with them for four months, and by the time he left, Frangoise was heartbroken over his going. Her father and some of his friends from the Resistance had spirited him back to the Americans, and he had eventually taken part in the liberation of Paris. But he had promised Frangoise he would come back for her, and she knew without a doubt that he would.

Her parents were killed in the final days just before the liberation, and she was sent to Paris to live with cousins. She had no way of reaching John, his address had been lost in the chaos, and she had no idea he was in Paris. Long afterward, they learned that they had been within a mile or two of each other most of the time, as she lived just off the Boulevard Saint-Germain, and he never knew it.

John was shipped back to the States before seeing her again, and returned to Iowa. He had his own family worries. His father had been killed in Guam, and he had to take care of his own family's farm with his mother, sisters, and brothers. He wrote to Frangoise as soon as he got back, but his letters were neither returned, nor answered. They never reached her. And it was a full two years before he had saved up enough money to go back to France, to see if he could find her. He had been obsessed with her since he left. And when he reached the farm where they had met, he found that it had been sold and was inhabited by strangers. And all the neighbors knew was that Frangoise's parents were dead and she had gone to Paris.

     

 

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