“And now for the usual block of commercials,” Delaney Wright whispered to her fellow anchor on the WRL 6 P.M. news. “All of them so fascinating.”
“They pay our salaries,” Don Brown reminded her with a smile.
“I know they do, God bless them,” Delaney said cheerfully, as she looked into the mirror to check her appearance.
She wasn’t sure if the deep purple blouse the wardrobe mistress had picked out was too strong against her pale skin, but it was okay with her shoulder-length black hair. And Iris, her favorite makeup artist, had done a good job accentuating her dark brown eyes and long lashes.
The director began the countdown. “Ten, nine . . . three, two . . .” As he said, “one,” Delaney began to read. “Tomorrow morning jury selection will begin in the trial of forty-three-year-old former high school teacher Betsy Grant at the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack, New Jersey. Grant is being tried for the murder of her wealthy husband Dr. Edward Grant, who was fifty-eight years old at the time of his death. He had been suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. She has steadfastly declared her innocence. The prosecutor maintains that she was tired of waiting for him to die. She and his son are the co-heirs of his estate, which has been estimated at over fifteen million dollars.”
“And now to a much happier story,” Don Brown began. “This is the kind of feature we love to present.” The footage began to appear on screen. It was about the reunion of a thirty-year-old man with his birth mother. “We were both trying to find each other for ten years,” Matthew Trainor said, smiling. “I almost felt as though she was calling me. I needed to find her.”
His arm was around a heavyset fiftyish woman. Her naturally wavy hair was soft around her pleasant face. Her hazel eyes were shining with unshed tears. “I was nineteen when I gave birth to Charles.” She paused and looked up at her son. “In my mind I always called him Charles. On his birthday I bought toys and gave them to a charity for children.” Her voice tremulous, she added, “I like the name his adoptive parents gave him. Matthew means ‘gift of God.’ ”
As the segment came to an end, Matthew said, “Ever since I can remember there was a need in me. I needed to know who my birth parents were, particularly my mother.”
As he gave her a big hug, Doris Murray began to cry. “It is impossible to explain how much I have missed my son.”
“Heartwarming story, isn’t it, Delaney?” Don Brown asked.
Delaney could only nod. She knew that the lump in her throat was about to dissolve into a flood of tears.
Don waited a few seconds for her to answer but then with a look of surprise on his face said, “Now let’s see what our weatherman Ben Stevens has in store for us.”
When the program ended, Delaney said, “Don, I apologize. I got so emotional about that story that I didn’t trust myself. I was so afraid that I would be crying like the mother.”
“Well, let’s see if they’re still speaking to each other in six months,” Don said, wryly. He pushed back his chair. “That’s it for tonight.”
In the next studio, through the glass wall, they could see the national news anchorman, Richard Kramer, on the air. Delaney knew that Don was in line to take that spot when Kramer retired. She got up, left the studio, stopped in her office and changed from the purple blouse to a yoga top. She had been substituting for the usual co-anchor, Stephanie Lewis, who had called in sick. Delaney was especially happy that she was covering the Betsy Grant trial. It’s going to be fascinating, she thought.
She picked up her shoulder bag and, responding to a series of “See you Delaney’s,” walked down several long corridors and onto Columbus Circle.
Much as she loved summer, Delaney knew she was ready for autumn. After Labor Day, Manhattan takes on vibrancy, she thought, and then realized she was trying to distract herself from what was bothering her. The feature about the adoption had ripped open the walls that she had always tried to build around herself to keep the same subject from haunting her again.
She needed to find her birth mother. James and Jennifer Wright had adopted her when she was hours old, and their names were on her birth certificate. She had been born with a midwife in attendance. The woman who had arranged the adoption was dead. There was no trace of the name of the midwife. Her birth had been registered in Philadelphia.
It was a seemingly dead end. But she knew she was going to make a decision. She had heard about a retired detective who specialized in tracing the untraceable in cases like hers. She was so deep in thought as she began her one-mile walk home that, almost without noticing, she passed Fifth Avenue.
At 54th Street she turned east. Her apartment in one of the older buildings was next to the one where Greta Garbo, the legendary actress from the 1930s had once resided. Garbo’s famous quote, “I ‘vant’ to be alone,” often ran through Delaney’s mind at the end of a particularly frantic day at the studio.
The always-smiling doorman, Danny, opened the door for her. Her apartment was a generous three rooms but certainly a vast difference from the large and beautiful home where she had been raised in Oyster Bay, Long Island. She dropped her bag, took a Perrier from the refrigerator, and, putting her feet on a hassock, settled in her comfortable chair.
On the table directly across the room was a large family picture taken when she was three years old. She was sitting on her mother’s lap next to her father. Her three brothers were lined up behind them. Her black curly hair and dark brown eyes so obviously leaped out of the so-called family picture. The others had several shades of reddish blonde hair. Their eyes were varying shades of light blue and hazel.
It was a distinct memory. The first time she saw the picture she had begun to cry. “Why don’t I look like all of you?” she had wailed. That was when she was told that she was adopted. Not in those words, but as best as they could, her parents had explained to her, at that very young age, that they had very much wanted a little girl, and as a baby she had become part of their family.
Last month in Oyster Bay there had been a big family reunion gathering for her mother’s seventy-fifth birthday. Jim came in from Cleveland, Larry from San Francisco and Richard from Chicago, with their wives and children. It had been a truly happy time. Her mother and father were moving to Florida. They had given away the furniture they didn’t need, telling Delaney and her brothers to pick out what they wanted. She had taken a few small pieces that fit in her apartment.
She looked at the family picture again, visualizing the mother she had never known. Do I look like you? she wondered.
The phone rang. Delaney raised her eyes to Heaven but then saw who was calling. It was Carl Ferro, the producer of the six o’clock show. His voice was exultant. “Stephanie took the job with NOW News. We’re all thrilled. She was getting to be a ‘royal,’ ” he paused, “ ‘nuisance.’ She had the mistaken impression that she knew more than Kathleen.” Kathleen Gerard was the executive producer of the News Department. “Her resignation is coming in the morning. You’re our new co-anchor with Don Brown. Congratulations!”
Delaney gasped. “Carl, I’m delighted! What else can I say?” Then she added, “My only regret is to miss covering the Grant trial.”
“We still want you to. We’ll use rotating co-anchors until after the trial. You’re a great reporter. This kind of trial is right up your alley.”
“It doesn’t get any better than that, Carl. Thanks a lot,” Delaney said.
But as she put down the phone, she had a sudden disquieting moment. Her former nanny, Bridget O’Keefe, had an expression, “When things seem too good, there’s trouble on the way.”
As Time Goes By
In this exciting thriller from Mary Higgins Clark, the #1 New York Times bestselling “Queen of Suspense,” a news reporter tries to find her birth mother just as she is assigned to cover the high-profile trial of a woman accused of murdering her wealthy husband.
Television journalist Delaney Wright is on the brink of stardom after she begins covering a sensational murder trial for the six p.m. news. She should be thrilled, yet her growing desire to locate her birth mother consumes her thoughts. When Delaney’s friends Alvirah Meehan and her husband Willy offer to look into the mystery surrounding her birth, they uncover a shocking secret they do not want to reveal.
On trial for murder is Betsy Grant, widow of a wealthy doctor who has been an Alzheimer’s victim for eight years. When her once-upon-a-time celebrity lawyer urges her to accept a plea bargain, Betsy refuses: she will go to trial to prove her innocence.
Betsy’s stepson, Alan Grant, bides his time nervously as the trial begins. His substantial inheritance hangs in the balance—his only means of making good on payments he owes his ex-wife, his children, and increasingly angry creditors.
As the trial unfolds, and the damning evidence against Betsy piles up, Delaney is convinced that Betsy is not guilty and frantically tries to prove her innocence. A true classic from Mary Higgins Clark, As Time Goes By is a thrilling read by a master of the genre.