DS is my best American author, and she in no little way inspired me to write my second novel (but first published work), HIDDEN HALOES [google it!]. Of all her books I've ready, 'Special Delivery' impacted me most, and 'Lightning' was my greatest challenge. That's by the way.
Read the story below...
Author Danielle Steel remembers the most enchanting Valentine's Day of her life.
With John Traina in Paris, 1992, in Dior Haute Couture.
I have had my high and low points with Valentine's Day. The low being in third grade when I didn't get a Valentine, and the high being some 20 years later, six weeks after I started dating an absolutely dazzling man I had admired from afar for years. We knew each other as friends, and on New Year's Day in 1981 he took me to lunch, and I was a goner. John Traina was without a doubt the most handsome man I'd ever laid eyes on, the most elegant, charming, and one of the nicest. Two decades older than I, and in his prime, he was one of the most sophisticated men I had ever met. I felt like a fairy princess when I was with him, and we led what appeared to be a fairy-tale life. And like all good fairy tales, it had a "Happily Ever After" for a long time.
It began in San Francisco, on New Year's Day, at a restaurant where we ate soufflés, and reached a high point on Valentine's Day. It had been a whirlwind romance. We were both divorced, and each had two children. And we were out almost every day and night for those six weeks before Valentine's Day, when we met at a French restaurant for lunch. I was thoroughly enjoying my time with him; it seemed like a dream come true. And I almost fell off my seat when he proposed. Wow!!!
Disappointment in third grade faded from memory forever! I was thrilled and bowled over by his proposal, and he gave me a discreet little diamond heart necklace that I still wear today.
No fairy tale is complete without a few complications and comedic moments. I was giving a Valentine Dance that night, to which John was invited—and we both had other dates for the evening, arranged long before. Oops! And now we were engaged. We decided not to tell anyone until the next day,and to get through the evening politely with our respective dates. His was with a nice woman who had a crush on him. Mine was a man I'd been dating for six months, who cheated on me regularly, and who had informed me before Christmas that I was sweet but he didn't love me and never would, and then he took off for a six-week ski holiday with another woman, but failed to mention it. I found out anyway (hence my agreeing to go out with John on New Year's Day). My date was returning in time for my Valentine Dance, but the relationship was pretty much over. I was in high spirits the night of the dance because of John's proposal. I had never been happier in my life (and was wearing a new red Halston dress for the occasion).
John and I were inseparable that night. We were not attentive to our respective "dates," and it was obvious to all that we were very much in love. And then we very properly left with our dates at the end of the evening. Mine thought I had been pining for him while he was off skiing for six weeks with someone else, and I happily told him at the end of the evening that I was getting married. He looked stunned, which was one of the high points of my dating life (revenge is sweet!!!). And the next day John and I announced our engagement. We were married four months later, on June 14th.
Seventeen extremely happy years of marriage and five wonderful children followed, for a total of nine children between us. Many, many years later, we divorced, but remained close forever. He remains the most dazzling man I ever knew.
And when I think of the happiest moments in my life, that Valentine's Day when he proposed remains top of the list. And all things considered, I can honestly say even now, we got more than our fair share of "Happily Ever After." May you have a wonderful Valentine's Day too! And may all your dreams come true!
Danielle Steel's latest novel, Prodigal Son, comes out this month.