HIS VOICE WAS HEAVENLY. It flowed through her like a gentle wave,
warming, and stroking her into serenity. When she was under its
spell, she had a friend, a lover in the night.
She had no idea what he looked like. He was reputed to be a
reclusive man, but she supposed that since he worked the graveyard
shift, such seclusion was perhaps his survival. He had to sleep
sometime. But not now.
"It's twelve fifty-four," he told her in the deep, faintly husky
drawl she had come to know so well, "six minutes before one and a
chilly twenty-eight degrees outside my door on the kind of night
made for a hot fire, a snifter of brandy, and love. You're tuned to
95.3 FM, WCIC Providence, for a little country in the city. We're
comin' up on a string of six, kickin' off with the latest from
Alabama." His voice grew more resonant, and much huskier. "This is
Jared Snow in the heart of the night. Stay with me...."
With a low half-moan, Savannah Smith closed her eyes. Propping her
forehead on the eraser end of her pencil, she took a slow, measured
breath. She liked Alabama's music, but Jared Snow was better. She
could listen to his soft, tomcat drawl all night, and she wasn't the
only one. She had heard enough wistful sighs in the ladies' room of
the courthouse whenever his name was mentioned to know that most
females within the sound of his voice were similarly entranced.
Women of all ages were seduced by his voice, yet during the
intermittent moments when he stopped talking, each felt she was the
only woman on his earth.
Scowling, Savannah opened her eyes and lowered the pencil. Somehow
his ability to so affect women seemed like a crime even though his
victims were willing. No one forced them to listen to him night
after night. Certainly no one was forcing her, yet listen she did.
Night after night.
It was not the smartest thing to do, she realized as she looked at
the blank sheet of paper on which her pencil lay. She had work to
do. She should have prepared this pretrial motion that afternoon,
but Paul had asked her to cover for him at the press conference on
the Tabor murder, and when Paul asked, Savannah answered. Not only
was Paul DeBarr the state's duly elected attorney general and her
boss, but he was her friend. She knew the pressures he lived with.
Whenever she could help him out, she did.
Unfortunately, by the time she'd returned to her office after the
press conference, there had been a stack of telephone messages on
her desk. She had farmed out some of them, but she had needed to
answer most herself. When she finally pushed away the phone at six
o'clock, she had developed a dreadful crick in her neck.
She was glad that the phone rarely rang at one in the morning. In
fact, she realized, it had not rung once since she arrived home,
which was something of a relief. Her sister, Susan, hadn't called.
More importantly, her father hadn't called, which meant that Susan
was, so far this night, behaving herself.
Of course, Savannah had no way of knowing if one of them had called
earlier. After work she had gone to her aerobics class at the club
for an hour, then returned to the office for a file she'd forgotten,
and then she had been shanghaied by a contingent of the fourth
estate to Payne's Pub for drinks. It was ten o'clock when she got
home. Her father and Susan would both have been well into their
respective evening plans by then. Life in Newport was never dull.
Pushing away the blank pad of paper, Savannah rose from her chair
and wandered idly across the den to the window. Her hand skimmed the
graceful arc of the swags, but her attention was trained on the
night. Benefit Street was dark, lit but faintly by the gaslights
that flanked its curbs. There was no traffic. There wasn't even a
dog-walker in sight. Providence was asleep.
She should be, too, she told herself. But sleep did not come easily.
Too many thoughts preoccupied her mind long after her body had
wearied. She wondered if self-doubt came with age. She certainly had
never lacked confidence before. From the time she had reached
fifteen and realized that some women had careers, Savannah had known
what she wanted to do. And she'd done it. She had attended college
and law school, and then she had won an appointment to the attorney
general's office. She had been there for the past five years.
She was not tired of the job. One couldn't possibly tire of a job
where armed robberies, murders, and rapes were weekly cases.
Savannah had her pick of the most challenging work. She couldn't
Still, something about her life bothered her, she decided as Alabama
segued comfortably to Michael Martin Murphey. Something about her
life? Who was she kidding? She knew exactly what was wrong.
She was turning thirty-one in five days. With a slight shiver, she
left the window and returned to the desk. Her fingertips grazed its
beveled edge, lightly brushing the smooth pine surface. It was a
beautiful desk, an antique that had been stripped and restained in
the light shade that so appealed to her. She found strength in the
basic lines of the piece; it was a breath of antiquity made modern.
Taking the weight of her long, chestnut-colored hair into her hands,
she held it off her neck for a minute. Then, twisting it forward
over one shoulder, she slipped into the chair, took up her pencil
and began to write on the legal pad. Thirty-one.
She slanted the numbers into a top corner of the sheet and stared at
them. On paper, they were innocuous. Not so in real life. Savannah
hadn't been bothered by turning thirty; all the ballyhoo had
prepared her for the worst, mitigating the reality. Thirty had been
a novelty, a milestone to defy. Thirty-one was something else.
Then again, maybe her restlessness had nothing to do with her
birthday. Periods of evaluation were common in life. When a person
was as busy as she was, self-evaluation was inevitably put aside for
sometimes long stretches of time. Just as inevitably, one had to
periodically stop, take a breath, step out of oneself, and look
Professionally, Savannah liked what she saw. She was a good lawyer
with a reputation for honesty and diligence. No one could fault her
style. She had grown into her role well.
Personally, she was not sure she liked what she saw, but then, she
was uncertain as to what she ultimately wanted to achieve
She wasn't a wife or a mother. She was a daughter, a sister, and a
friend many times over. Friendships meant a lot to her. She only
wished they could fill the void that engulfed her in the dark of the
"You're cruisin' along in cool country," came the deep, lyrically
raspy voice from the speakers that flanked the bookshelves to her
left, "on 95.3 FM, WCIC Providence. It's the top of the hour, one on
the nose, and a quiet Monday night in Rhode Island," he drawled.
"Make yourself comfortable, put your feet up and your head back.
I've got the Eagles comin' up, and Rosanne Cash, but first let's
hear the latest on love from Gary Morris. Leave your dial where it
is at 95.3 FM, WCIC Providence, kickin' up a little country in the
city. I'm Jared Snow, stayin' with you in the heart of the night...."
It was not what he said that affected her so deeply. He rarely said
much more than the time or the weather or the names of the artists
whose music he was playing. Occasionally he injected a note of civic
interest between songs, but he was not a political creature who used
the airwaves as a forum for himself. He didn't take calls on the
air. He didn't hold interviews. He simply identified the station and
It was the way he spoke that touched her like a wet soul kiss. The
deep husky tone of his voice was so quintessentially male and
extraordinarily intimate that it would make even a traffic report
sound erotic. The sound of Jared Snow's voice made Savannah's juices
Acutely aware of the tripping of her pulse, she gathered every bit
of self-discipline she possessed to grip her pencil and focus on her
work. Experience told her that she would do enough work to avoid a
calamity in court the next morning. Then she would set her briefcase
aside and turn up the radio.
Jared Snow would be waiting for her. He was a saint, the most
patient of men, her ideal. He was always there when she finished
playing out her role as prosecutor, as daughter and sister and
friend. He was there, talking softly, waiting until she took off her
clothes, slipped into bed, and turned off the light.
Then he was her dream lover, the body that warmed her mind and soul.
In the heart of the night he was the end to her loneliness.
"Kickin' in at one thirty-six, you're listening to cool country,
95.3 FM, WCIC Providence. The CIC forecast calls for clear skies
till dawn, with low temps in the twenties. By morning, warmer air
will be moving into the area, bringing clouds and a chance of rain."
His voice grew more husky. "Right now it's a frosty twenty-seven
degrees outside our studios, but there's no frost in here with me,
and there's certainly none on Kenny Rogers, who's heatin' the crowds
with his latest tour. He's been one of the superstars of country
music since '77 and 'Lucille,' singin' up a steady stream of hits.
I've got 'I Prefer the Moonlight,' comin' up next on WCIC
Providence, 95.3 FM, the home of a little country in the city." He
positively purred. "Jared Snow here, in the heart of the night.
Susan Smith Gardner raised her glass in a toast to the man and his
voice, then downed what remained of her scotch in a single swallow.
It was a minute before the liquor settled, another before she
breathed a slightly fiery, "I'm listening," yet another before she
pushed herself up from the chintz lounge chair and headed for what
had once been her husband's armoire. It was now her bar.
Dirk had been gone for a year, taking with him a colorful array of
Polo jerseys, starched Armani shirts, and Perry Ellis sweaters,
along with everything else he had personally brought into the
marriage. Filling the closet hadn't been a problem; Susan had
transferred all the clothes she'd previously stashed in the attic so
that Dirk wouldn't know just how much she had. The armoire, though,
was a monstrosity. Although she kept its doors closed, Susan had
known what was behind them, and that nothingness had bothered her.
Using the piece to house liquor had been a brainstorm. Not only did
it give her the convenience of a bar in the bedroom, where she
needed it most, but it meant that the prying eyes that monitored the
bar in the den saw little change in the liquor levels from one week
to the next.
She told herself that she didn't have a real problem; she just
enjoyed a drink now and again. She believed it was her right to get
drunk once in a while. She was convinced that whoever meted out the
good times in life had robbed her blind.
Slipping a lone ice cube into her glass, she added a finger of water
and three of scotch. Satisfied after a sample swallow, she closed
the armoire doors, then began to wander around the room. Kenny
Rogers was singing about his woman, but it wasn't Kenny Rogers she
wanted to hear, and she certainly didn't want to hear about his
woman. It seemed to Susan that the whole world was paired off. She
was the only one alone. She, and Jared Snow.
He was alone, sitting in that studio of his. She could close her
eyes and picture him there in the heart of the night, talking to
her. She loved listening to him, often waited through the music just
to hear his voice again. Whether she was totally alert, or tired,
dazed or groggy, if Jared Snow told her to climb the steeple of
Trinity Church and jump, she'd do it in a minute. His voice was that
With one arm wrapped around her middle and the other propping the
glass to her lips, Susan sluggishly stepped around the perimeter of
the huge bed she had all to herself. Stopping at the nightstand
where her sleekly housed radio stood, she lightly caressed the
buttons on top.
Jared Snow exuded confidence. She had never met him; not many people
had, it seemed, yet that split second's worth of silence that always
followed the mention of his name said something to her. She was sure
that Rhode Islanders stood a little in awe of him, because he was a
mystery, a blank sheet of paper in an area where anyone who was
anybody was a full dossier.
Rumor had it that he was from the West Coast, that he was wealthy,
that he owned both this station and others. Susan couldn't
understand why in the world, if he owned the station, he would be
working the night shift. For that matter, she couldn't understand
why he would be working at all. For that matter, she couldn't
understand why, if he owned other stations, he'd chosen to work in
Not that she would have it any other way. She didn't know what she
would do if he were no longer a voice in her night. She relied on
his being there. On weekends, when he was off, she was depressed.
When substitutes filled in for him, she felt let down.
She wasn't wild about his music. He played too many ballads about
things that were too true, and the truth could be brutal at times.
When he played songs about love, she felt jealous. When he played
songs about love gone wrong, she despaired. But he was good, damn,
he was good. So confident, so smooth, so able. She needed a man like
But what would a man like that, one who was rich and well known and
totally together, want with a woman like her? Susan wondered. What
was she, anyway?
With a disgusted grunt, she tipped the glass to her lips and let its
potent contents sear a path to her stomach. Emboldened then and
momentarily angry, she whirled to face the mirrored closet wall. She
was beautiful. If nothing else, she knew she was that. She was
taller than Savannah, more shapely than Savannah, and the
curls-which Savannah didn't have-of the huge, auburn mass that
cascaded around her shoulders had taken more than one man's breath
away. Even Savannah admitted that her sister was beautiful. But
beyond being beautiful, what was she?
Savannah was something. She was a career woman, a professional. She
had made it in a man's world. As Paul DeBarr's golden girl, she'd
become a visible presence on the Providence political scene. Her
name was often in the morning papers connected with one or another
of the most spectacular cases. She was known and respected. She was
in an enviably prestigious position.
Although she was not beautiful the way Susan was, men looked, really
looked at her. Susan had spent years trying to figure out her
sister's appeal. For lack of any better explanation, she'd decided
that Savannah had some kind of aura. Even when they had been kids,
Savannah had been popular. She hadn't been the loudest or the most
gregarious in their crowd, but friends flocked to her. Nothing had
changed since then. Although Savannah didn't have much free time,
the moments she had were filled. Savannah had everything. Even her
name was better than Susan's.
Excerpted from "Heart of the Night" by Barbara Delinsky. Copyright © 1989 by Barbara Delinsky. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.