About the Author
Date of Birth:April 5, 1944
Place of Birth:Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Education:B. A., University of California, 1966
Read an Excerpt
The pounding on Lianne Blakely′s door made her sit straight up in bed, her heart beating rapidly. For an instant she wondered if she was dreaming all the noise. She certainly was tired enough to be dreaming. She had worked late last night, arranging and rearranging the beautiful jade pieces in her apartment until she was certain she had the right design for the Jade Trader display at tonight′s charity auction.
The pounding increased in volume.
Lianne shook her head, pushed heavy waves of black hair out of her face, and stared at the bedside clock. Barely 6 A.M. She looked out the small window. Dawn had arrived in most of Seattle, but not in her old, west-facing apartment above Pioneer Square. Even if the morning had been clear-it wasn′t-no sunlight would reach her windows until late morning.
"Lianne, wake up! It′s Johnny Tang. Open the door!"
Now she really wondered if she was dreaming. Johnny had never been to her apartment, or to her business office, which was just down the hall. In fact, she rarely saw him at all unless she was visiting her mother in Kirkland.
"Just a minute--I′m coming!" she called.
Grateful that there were no neighbors to complain about all the yelling on a Saturday morning, Lianne kicked off the duvet, grabbed the red silk robe her mother had given her last Christmas, and hurried to the door. Two locks and a dead bolt later, she yanked the door open.
"What′s wrong?" Lianne demanded. "Is it Mother?"
"Anna is fine. She wants to see you before the auction."
Mentally Lianne rearranged her crammed schedule. If she did her own nails, she could manage a visit. Barely. "I′ll swing by after I set up the Jade Trader exhibit."
Johnny nodded, but he didn′t look like a man who had gotten what he came for. He looked restless, irritable, caged. Anger bracketed his full mouth and tightened the skin across his wide cheekbones. Despite that, he was a handsome man. Two inches under six feet, lean, quick of hand and mind, and with a generous smile when he was in the mood to use it.
"Do you have any coffee?" he asked. "Or are you still stuck on Chinese caffeine?"
"I have coffee as well as tea."
"I′ll take mine black. Coffee, not tea."
Lianne stepped away from the door as Johnny walked in. She didn′t know exactly how old her unacknowledged father was---close to sixty, surely-but he looked barely forty. Through all the years of Lianne′s childhood, her mother′s lover had aged hardly at all. Some silver hair was now mixed in with the black, a few laugh and frown lines had appeared, there was a slight blurring in the line of the jaw; small things, really, when Lianne thought of all the changes she had been through from birth to almost thirty years of age.
And never once in all that time, through all her changes, had Johnny Tang acknowledged that Anna Blakely′s child was also his own.
Pushing the thought away, Lianne closed the door and shot the dead bolt home. What Johnny did or didn′t admit was no longer the most important thing in the world to her. Jade was. Tang jade. Her father′s father′s collection. Hundreds of pieces, thousands. All of them were precious, some were priceless, and each piece of jade gleamed with time and secrets and the luminous soul of art.
"Couldn′t resist playing with them, huh?" Johnny asked, gesturing with one hand.
There were jade sculptures sitting on the small kitchen table, more objects lay on the floor, and some of the smaller pieces perched on the tiny counter.
"Playing? If that′s what you call it," Lianne said. "They aren′t exactly dolls."
He gave a crack of laughter. "Father would faint if he heard you say dolls and jade in the same breath."
"Wen knows I respect jade."
"Wen is using your skill and not paying you enough."
Lianne gave her father a startled look. "He taught me everything I know."
"Wrong," Johnny said impatiently. "Until seven years ago, he didn′t know you were alive. Then you picked up some jade beads in a garage sale and he decided you had some kind of jade genius."
"Those beads were from the Western Zhou dynasty, three thousand years old, and were incised with dragonsa symbol of royalty. They were tied with a faded red silk cord that was older than the U.S. Constitution."
"If you had sold them and put the money in the stock market, you wouldn′t be living in this dump. But no, you gave them to my father for his birthday."
At first Lianne was too surprised to answer. It wasn′t like Johnny to talk about family. Certainly not with her. She looked at him out of the comer of her eye, measuring all the small signs that he was truly upset.
"I didn′t know you disapproved of what I did," she said quietly.
"Would it have mattered?"
"Of course. I don′t want to anger you or your family."
Lianne had never wanted that. She had turned herself inside out, learned Mandarin and Cantonese, worked seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, to prove to the family of Tang that she was worthy of them. She was still working on it, no matter how much she pretended to herself that she was simply trying to keep her own business healthy by stayingthe widespread, interna-ying close to her best clients tional family of Tang.
"You should have done as your mother wanted and become a teacher," Johnny said.
"You woke me up at six A.M. to tell me this?" Lianne asked finally.
When Johnny didn′t say anything more, she turned on the gas under the coffeepot and waitad for things to start perking.Jade Island. Copyright © by Elizabeth Lowell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.