Home > Blue(2)

Danielle Steel

And yet Ginny was able to find joy in what she did, and couldn’t wait to leave again on another assignment. She wanted to spend as little time as possible in New York, and she was dreading the holidays. She would have preferred to spend them working to the point of exhaustion in a place where Christmas didn’t exist, as it didn’t now to her. It was rotten luck that she had landed in New York three days before Christmas, the worst days of the year for her. All she wanted to do was sleep when she got back to her apartment, and wake up when it was over. The holidays meant nothing to her except pain.

She had nothing to declare in customs except a few small wooden carvings the children in the refugee camp had made for her. Her treasures now were the memories she carried with her everywhere, of the people she met along the way. She had no interest in material possessions, and everything she traveled with was in a small battered suitcase and the backpack she wore. She never had time to look in a mirror when she was working, and didn’t care. A hot shower was her greatest luxury and pleasure, when she was able to take one; the rest of the time she took cold showers, using the soap she brought with her. Her jeans and sweatshirts and T-shirts were clean but never pressed. It was enough that she had clothes to wear, which was more than many of the people she cared for had, and she often gave her clothes away to those who needed them more. Except for a Senate hearing where she spoke eloquently, she hadn’t worn a dress, high heels, or makeup in three years. And when she made her presentations to the United Nations or the Human Rights Commission, she did so in a pair of old black slacks, a sweater, and flat shoes. The only thing important to her was what she had to say, the message they needed to hear, and the atrocities she had seen on a daily basis in the course of her work. She had a front-row seat to the cruelties and crimes committed against women and children around the world. And she owed it to them to speak on their behalf when asked to do so when she came home. Her words were always powerful and well chosen and brought tears to the eyes of those who heard her.

She walked out of the terminal and took a deep breath of cold night air. Holiday travelers were rushing to buses and taxis or greeting relatives outside the terminal, as Ginny silently watched them with deep blue eyes the color of a lake. They were almost navy blue. She looked serious for a moment, debating whether to take a shuttle or a cab into the city. She was bone tired, and her body ached from the long trip, and from sleeping in cramped quarters in coach. She felt guilty spending money on herself after what she saw in the course of her missions, but she decided to spoil herself. She walked to the curb and hailed a taxi, which swerved and rapidly approached to pick her up.

She opened the door and put her bag and backpack into the back seat, climbed in, and closed the door, as the young Pakistani driver checked her out and asked where she was going. She saw his name on the license on the partition between them as she gave him her address, and an instant later they took off, darting through the airport traffic, and headed toward the highway. It felt strange to be back in civilization after the desolate area where she’d been living for the past four months. But she always felt that way when she returned, and by the time she got adjusted to it, she left again. She always asked that they reassign her quickly, and most of the time they did. She was one of their most valuable workers in the field, both for her willingness and for her expertise after almost three years.

“Where are you from in Pakistan?” she asked him as they joined the flow of traffic moving toward the city, and he smiled at her in the rearview mirror. He was young and looked pleased that she had guessed.

“How did you know I’m from Pakistan?” he asked her, and she smiled back.

“I was there a year ago.” She guessed his region then, and he looked amazed. Few Americans knew anything about his country. “I was in Balochistan for three months.”

“What were you doing there?” He was intrigued by her as traffic slowed them down. It was going to be a long, slow ride into the city in holiday traffic, and talking to him kept her awake. He seemed more familiar to her than the people she would meet in New York, who seemed like foreigners to her now.

“I was working,” she said quietly, glancing out the window at what should have been a familiar landscape but no longer was. She felt like a woman without a home, and had felt that way since she left L.A. She sensed now that that would be the last real home she’d ever have, and she preferred it that way. She didn’t need a home anymore—whatever tent or camp she was living in was enough for her.

“Are you a doctor?” He was curious about her.

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