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Private Scandals By Nora Roberts - FictionDB. Cover art, synopsis, sequels, reviews, awards, publishing history, genres, and time period. Private Scandals. Home · Private Scandals Author: Nora Roberts Honest Illusions; Private Scandals; Hidden Riches; True Betrayals; Montana Sky. Titles by Nora Roberts HOT ICE SACRED SINS BRAZEN VIRTUE SWEET EVIL HONEST ILLUSIONS PRIVATE SCANDALS BORN IN FIRE BORN IN ICE.

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1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts presents a captivating novel set in the world of television talk shows that reveals the ambitious. Inside the world of television talk shows, an ambitious young woman is fighting to find her place in the spotlight. But dark secrets hide behind its brightes, ISBN. download the eBook Private Scandals by Nora Roberts online from Australia's leading online eBook store. Download eBooks from Booktopia today.

Close enough, she decided, and bundled them together. The heat made her purple tank top stick to her skin. Everybody in television knows the game usually stinks. Is Marshall still calling? He still sends flowers.

That she enjoyed parties, champagne, the attention of men. That she and Bradley had quarreled the evening of his death over his flirtation with another woman. Then Charles Rooney had taken the stand and told his story.

He was a licensed private investigator in the state of Virginia, and his surveillance reports were carefully documented. They formed a picture of a reckless, beautiful woman who craved excitement, who was eager to break the bonds of an inhibiting marriage to an older man. And one who, on the night of the murder, invited the victim into her home, where she was alone and dressed only in a negligee. Rooney was unable to swear to what was said between the two, but his photographs and his observations said a great deal.

The couple had embraced, brandy was poured. Then, they appeared to argue and Naomi had stormed upstairs. Bradley had followed. Eager to fulfill his duties, Rooney had climbed a handy tree and aimed his telephoto lens at the bedroom window. The argument had continued there, becoming more heated. Carefully, she made more copies, then shut off the machine and gathered her files and notes. Before logic could interfere with emotion, she found a pay phone and dialed. Whenever you like. He was half Jew, half Choctaw, and had never taken the mix for granted.

He wore his hair in a long graying braid down his back. There was the glint of a silver Star of David around his neck. Whatever there was to know about horses, he knew. And he preferred them, with few exceptions, to people. In his worn-down boots he was eye level with Naomi.

It was impossible to stay irritated with him. He was the man who had waited for her, who never questioned her, who had always loved her. They both knew he made up half of his sayings and twisted the other half to suit his purposes. Let her see what you are. Got some swelling, too. It was cramped and often smelled of horse urine, but he preferred it to the airy space his predecessor had used in a whitewashed building near the west paddock.

In truth, the stables were nearly as sparkling as any luxury hotel, and usually busier. The concrete slope between the lines of stalls was scrubbed and spotless. The individual stalls were marked with an enameled plaque with the name of each horse scrolled in gold.

There were scents of horses, of liniment, of hay and grain and leather—a potpourri Naomi had missed sorely during her years in prison and one she never failed to appreciate. It was, to her, the scent of freedom. As Moses passed, horses stuck their heads out of stalls. He, too, had a scent, one they recognized.

His boots might have clattered quickly along the slope, but there was always time for a quick stroke, a murmured word. Stable hands continued their work. Perhaps pitchforks or currycombs moved with more enthusiasm now that the man was in view.

There was swelling just above the fetlock, and some heat. As he applied some slight pressure, the filly jerked back and blew a warning.

There was discoloration, a sign of blood clotting under the skin. The bone was probably bruised, she thought. Better call the vet, though. Already a stream of cold water had been applied directly to the wound. Now Moses himself was massaging the bruise with a mixture of vinegar and cool water. Her vet stood in the stall and prepared a syringe.

Six weeks would be better. Matt Gunner had a long, pleasant face, kind eyes. The jockey stood just outside the box, watching the procedure. But he was a racetracker. I was watching the run this morning and I would have noticed if she had. This filly has a quiet temperament. There you go, girl. Easy now. You give me a call if it heats up. Matt, this is my daughter, Kelsey.

Kelsey Byden, Matt Gunner, my vet. He drew it back, flushed. I can wait. Thanks for coming so quickly, Matt. Sorry I interrupted your day, Reno. Another, with a rider up, was being led by a handler toward the walking ring.

A groom was giving a glossy chestnut a bath, spraying streams of water over the gelding with a hose. Other horses were simply being walked in wide, repetitive circles. Won the St. Leger and Belmont. One of our mares took a gold in the last Olympics. I guess most of us go through a horse-crazy stage. Dad hated it, but. But you had your lessons anyway?

Fine lines fanning out from the eyes. Others, either from temper or worry, gently scoring the high, creamy forehead. However Philip came to feel about me, he adored you. A horse whinnied, high and bright, a sound sweeter to Naomi than any aria. How is he? Has been for seven years. And a good one. Ask anyone. I have a stepbrother, Channing. Coffee, tea? Some wine, perhaps?

She made cookies when she heard you were coming. Please sit down. At first glance the room was quietly elegant, a world apart from the bustle and manurecoated boots of the stable area. The low fire burned sedately, rose-colored drapes were pulled back to welcome the sun.

That sun shone on a dozen or so lovely crystal horses in clear and jewel hues. The Oriental rug on the polished chestnut floor picked up the colors of the drapes and the creamy tones of the sofa. Nothing ostentatious, nothing jarring. Until you looked again. The walls were covered in watered silk, the same cool ivory as the upholstery. But the paintings, large and abstract, were explosions of bold and restless color. Violent works, Kelsey thought, sated with passion and anger.

And signed, she saw with a jolt, with a bloodred N C. No one had mentioned that her mother painted. No amateurish works these, Kelsey decided, but skilled and capable and disturbing. They should have unbalanced the steady dignity of the room, she thought as she turned away. Yet they humanized it. There were other telling touches throughout the room. A statue of a woman, her alabaster face carved in unfathomable grief, a glass heart in pale green with a jagged crack down the center, a small bowl filled with colored stones.

Gertie had wheeled in the tea tray and stood, beaming at her. I kept them for you when you. My mother kept house for Mr. Chadwick, then I took over when she retired. Moved to Florida. Chocolate chip was always your favorite. The desperate yearning in her eyes was difficult to face, the desperate joy beneath that, worse.

Always knew it. She fretted about it all the time. Turning quickly, she hurried from the room. It must make you uncomfortable. Oolong this time, she noted with a tiny smile. Understanding, Naomi laughed. Tell me, have you been able to satisfy her high standards? It felt disloyal to discuss her grandmother. You have the reins here, Kelsey. I considered contacting you the day I got out. I even went to your school. Every day for a week I sat in my car across the street and watched you in the little playground.

Watched you and the other girls watching the boys and pretending not to. Once I even got out of my car and started across the street.

I could still smell it on myself. Then my father became ill. The years passed, Kelsey. Every time I thought about picking up the phone or writing a letter or just walking back into your life, it seemed wrong. And your job, your academic career.

I was always a lousy student. Gertie will never know the difference. All is forgiven. Newspaper articles on the trial? I was convicted. I paid my debt to society, and I am, according to the system, rehabilitated. You let him into your house, into your bedroom. I was attracted to him. I thought he was a charming fool, harmless and amusing. And because he was beginning to bore and annoy me, I decided to break off the relationship.

So we had a scene, in public. Then another one later, in private. He was furious, called me a few names, tried to make his case with some rough handling. I was angry, and I was afraid. I broke away, got my gun. And I shot him. When Naomi took it only a quick spasm at the side of her mouth betrayed any emotion. He has his hands up. I guess you had to be there.

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Why should you? Society has given me another chance. Why did you allow that? Part of me was. And whatever my crimes, I loved you. And I needed to survive. Certainly Milicent would have. A month. A few weeks of your life, Kelsey, for the lifetime I lost. Is there enough Chadwick in there for you to accept a dare? It was a risk. Philip made casual conversation, but his smile was strained.

It seemed disloyal somehow to Candace that his mind should be so full of his first wife, his nights restless and disturbed by memories of her. A woman now. He had only to look at her to be reminded of that. Yet he had only to close his eyes to remember the girl. And the guilt. Milicent waited until the roast chicken was served. Normally, she disliked discussing unpleasant matters over a meal. Watched the thin lemon slice dip and float.

I may look for something at the Smithsonian when I get back. Have you no idea what this is doing to your father? It would be much too easy to create a scene, she told herself.

You could move more slowly, go out on a weekend now and then. I can leave at any time. I want to go. Did you ask her what it was like inside? And nothing could. I really have to get home and finish packing. Channing, if you have a free weekend, give me a call. Good night, Grandmother. The moment she shut the door behind her, she took a deep gulp of air. It tasted like freedom, she thought. She intended to enjoy it. In the morning, Gertie met Kelsey at the door. Let me take those.

Hardly needs me around. But she eats like a bird and does for herself mostly before I can do for her. Used to be there was always people and parties. The room streamed with light from a double window seat that faced the hills, the long slim windows overlooking the gardens. Deep colors and floral accents gave the room an elegant, European feel.

But all she felt was curiosity. Or anything, anything at all. I can unpack later. You go on down and have a nice visit, then you can have lunch. You want to button that jacket.

Private Scandals by Nora Roberts

She needs to eat. It was tempting to do a quick turn around the house, to poke into rooms and explore hallways. But it could wait. The day might have held the chill of the dying winter, but it was gloriously sunny.

And, Kelsey hoped as she went out, promising. It would have to be done, of course. Still, it seemed harmless to enjoy one uncomplicated day in the country, with the smells of hardy spring blooms and new grass in the air, the panorama of hills and horses and sky. She could look on it, at least for now, as a short vacation.

And here, she thought as she caught the first poignant smell of horse, was something else to be learned, after all. She knew nothing about the racing world, nothing of the people and little of the animals that composed it.

So, she would study and find out. It seemed to follow that the more she discovered, the better she would understand her mother.

As before, there was activity at the stables, horses being walked or washed, men and women carrying tack, hauling wheelbarrows. Kelsey tolerated the sidelong glances and outright stares and walked inside. Kelsey hesitated when he cut his eyes up to hers. His eyes were shadowed under the bill of his cap, and his face was incredibly old, cracked like neglected leather left in the sun. There now, sweet thing, hold your water.

Old she is, but still likes to run. Won her first race and her last, and a goodly number between. Twenty-five she is. Was a spry young filly when you last saw her.

Put you up on your first pony. Forget how to ride, have you? I can ride. I just call her Queenie. If I was to bring a saddle in here, her ears would perk right up. Big doings today. Thank you.

Welcome home. She was rewarded by a welcoming snort and nuzzle. There was enough activity around the outbuilding to the left to have drawn her in any case. She recognized Gabe, and was torn for a moment as to who looked more magnificent, he or the rearing chestnut stallion he was fighting to control.

His own hair flying in the breeze, Gabe tossed back his head and laughed. Nothing like having a beautiful female ready for sex to get the blood moving. Hello, Kelsey. Longshot and Three Willows are about to breed a champion. Handlers were positioned around him, helping Gabe to keep the stud from charging the shed. Magnificent he was, his coat already gleaming like flame from sweat, his eyes fierce, his muscles bunched. She saw her mother and Moses calming the mare, who looked to be every bit as eager to get on with things as the stallion.

She, too, was a chestnut, as regal as her intended mate. Even though she was hobbled, protected at the neck by a thick jacket of leather and canvas, she looked proud and valiant.

And graphic. Even as Gabe and his handlers brought the stallion in, the air in the shed thickened with it. Sharp, edgy, elemental. Orders were given; movements were quick. In a powerful lunge, the stallion reared up and mounted the mare.

Wide-eyed, Kelsey stared as Moses stepped in and assisted in the most technical aspect of the coupling. Then her breath caught as she saw why the mare wore the leather neck cover. Surely the stallion would have bitten through her flesh without it. He plunged wildly, his need frantic and somehow human.

He covered her, commanding, demanding. She accepted, her eyes rolling in what Kelsey thought must surely be pleasure. Hardly realizing it, she moved closer, fascinated by the passionate frenzy of mating. Her own heart was pounding, her blood hot. The quick, sharp pang of arousal staggered her. She found herself looking at Gabe. Sweat was running down his face.

His muscles strained against his shirt. And his eyes were on hers. It was shocking to see her own primitive and unexpected reaction mirrored there. Staggering to have the vision flash through her mind of being taken as the mare was being taken, fiercely, violently, heedlessly.

He smiled, a slow movement of lips that was both arrogant and charming. Smiled, she thought, as if he knew exactly what she was thinking.

The intellect, Kelsey thought as her pulse danced. It would be better, or at least more comfortable, to explore the logistics. We make up genetic charts. Then you cross your fingers. Restless night? Her daughter had once been so open with her, a chatterbox of news and questions. Those days, like so many others, were over. Dammit, she deserved this—one short month out of so many years. Her smile bloomed, softening her face again. Excuse me just a minute. I want to check on the mare. Do I make you nervous, Kelsey, or is it just the atmosphere?

But that was her problem. So I tore it down. Double what she pays you, Moses. download yourself another fancy suit. Give me a cigar. There was gin on his breath. And to see Gabe evade, once, twice, fluid as a shadow. The groom was pitiful, he thought, and half his size. And mean. You lucked your way into the big time, Slater.

Lucked and cheated and everybody knows it. In tacit agreement they silently formed a ring. It was, they believed, nearly showtime. So, he thought, those were the cards he was dealt. Jamison might have hired you, Lipsky, but I write your checks. She stood, like the handlers, watching the show. The warning strangled in her throat, but Gabe was already whipping back to face the knife.

The first lunge sliced almost delicately down his arm rather than plunging into his back. The sight and smell of blood had the handlers shifting quickly from their mildly interested attitudes. His mistake, he thought, was in not judging correctly how far the drink would push. So come on. The hilt had seemed to leap into his hand.

But it was there now, and so was first blood. He crouched, feinted, and began to circle.

Good God. No one moved but the two in the center of the circle, then the stallion began to kick in his trailer, excited anew by the scent of blood and violence. Before she could think, Kelsey grabbed a pitchfork leaning against the side of the shed. It arched up, flying free, as Lipsky hit the ground. But now he was standing over the groom, his eyes cold, his face as calm as carved stone.

The stink of gin and blood curdled in his stomach, sour memories. He can ride his thumb out of here. Blood was dripping down his arm. She still held the pitchfork, her knuckles white as bone on the handle.

Private scandals

Valiant color rode high on her cheeks and shock glazed her eyes. He turned his face to hers, and grinned. She would have voted for a trip to the emergency room, but no one seemed particularly interested in her opinion. Knife wounds, it seemed, were to be taken philosophically and mopped up in the kitchen.

Talk was of horses, of bloodlines and races, of times and tracks. It appeared intimate, easy. It was he who rose to refill coffee cups, not his hostess. They touched each other often, casually. A hand over a hand, fingertips against an arm.

After all, her mother and father had been divorced for more than twenty years. Naomi was free to pursue any relationship she chose. And yet it bothered her on some elemental level. Certainly they suited each other. Beyond the easy flow between them, over and above their interest in horses that consumed them both, there was a strain of violence in each.

Controlled, on ice. He was enjoying his coffee, enjoying watching Kelsey. He could almost see the thoughts circling around in her head. Would you have used that pitchfork?

A hell of a picture you made, darling. More than worth a prick on the arm to see it. Your face was as good as a shout. Casually he began a riffling shuffle. Lost more than your shirt? On the third card, her spade queen still reigned. And on the fourth. Is it the betting or the horses that interests you?

As far as taste goes, yours suits me. You lose. But he had work to do. As soon as he returned to Longshot, Gabe sought out Jamison. His loyalties had always been more with the horses than with the owner.

He was a big-bellied man who liked his food and his beer. His earliest memories were of the shedrow, the smell of the horses his father had groomed. Jamison had lived his entire life in the shadow of the Thoroughbred. Now, at sixty-two, he sometimes dreamed of owning his own small farm and one champion, just one to carry him comfortably into retirement.

Missed the first post. You know my feelings about that. He should be at the track, not here, smoothing feathers. And I followed my own judgment. No more warnings, Jamie. No exceptions. Owners rarely concerned themselves with the real work for long. All they wanted was their spot in the paddock and the purse.

He looked at the big-faced clock Jamison had nailed to the wall of his office. Instead she walked toward the soft roll of hills where the horses were at grass. The quiet, the undeniable peace were a welcome change from the frantic morning. Even so, she had to fight a restlessness that urged her to keep walking, keep moving, until she found what was over the next rise.

How could she have walked here as a child and remember nothing? It frustrated her to think that the first three years of her life were a virtual blank. She wanted them back, wanted to decide for herself what was right, what was wrong.

She stopped by a tidy white fence, leaning on it while a trio of mares began an impromptu race, their babies skipping after them. Another mother stood patiently, cropping grass while her foal suckled. It was almost too perfect, Kelsey thought. A postcard that was just slightly too clear, too bright for reality.

Private scandals

Yet she found herself smiling at the foal, admiring the impossibly delicate legs, the tilt of the somehow elegant head. What would he do, she wondered, if she climbed the fence and tried to pet him? Spring after spring, year after year. And exciting, the possibility of it. Sedate somehow. The foal was sleek and healthy and appeared wise to the ways of the paddock.

It starts here, or more accurately in the breeding shed, then goes to that final blur of color at the wire. Her daughter already understood. That, she supposed, was in the blood. Every time. The farrier likes to talk. He does the work for me here rather than at the track because of old ties. Everyone just stood there. I envy you that, Kelsey, that knee-jerk reaction that comes from a lack of fear, or a surplus of honor. I froze. I have too much fear and not nearly enough honor left.

Gabe did that for me. He may or may not have handled it differently on his own place. But here. Ever again. I was so arrogantly sure that they would end up looking like fools, and I a heroine. Not at first. I was a Chadwick. But the fear creeps up on you, inch by crafty inch. You can beat it back. Not away, but back. Before I left that horrible room with the mirror and the gray walls, I was afraid. Free of it, but for the memories. I hated the idea of everyone knowing I was terrified. Then they tell you to stand up, so the jury of your peers can deliver the verdict.

Your verdict. Every eye is on you. You always loved visiting the foals. See the one there sunning himself?

Private Scandals

The black? I knew it when he was born. He might prove himself to be one of the best to come out of Three Willows. Mine and his. We just know.

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And was, for a moment, nearly content. Late that night when the house was quiet and the wind tapped seductively at the windows, Naomi curled her body to Moses. She liked it best when he came to her bed. But his eyes had given him away. It had just taken her sixteen years to realize she wanted him, too. He supposed it always would. He laid his hand over hers, over his heart. How else could you have talked me into coming up here with your daughter down the hall?

Every year. It was like a mission—no, like a duty. Until you. As she flowed into the kiss, he shifted her, raising her hips, lowering them so that he slid deep into her. He watched her arch back, thrilling to her quick, throaty moan. He set the rhythm slow, holding her to his pace, drawing the pleasure out for both of them.

From the hallway outside her room, Kelsey heard the muffled sounds of lovemaking, the creak of the old mattress, the breathy moans and murmurs.

Not once had she ever heard her father and Candace in the night. She assumed they were both too restrained and polite to make noisy love. There was certainly nothing restrained or polite about the sounds only partially smothered by the closed door down the hall. Nor, she reminded herself, was it polite to stand out here listening. She fumbled with the knob, spilling tea in her rush to get inside.

Her mother, she thought, barraged by dozens of conflicting emotions. And Gabe Slater, she assumed. The emotions his presence behind that door conjured up were best not explored.

The moment she had her own door safely closed, she leaned back against it. Part of her wanted to laugh at the absurdity of it. A grown woman shocked because another grown woman, who happened to be her mother, had an active sex life.

No longer wanting either, she set the tea and book aside. The dark, still sleeping garden beneath her window was silvered with moonlight. Romantic, she thought, laying her brow against the glass. As so much of Three Willows was. She was here because it was important to learn about the half of her parentage that had been taken away from her.

Turning from the window she went back to bed. Racing to her meant more than speed. The track was cloaked in mist when she arrived with Naomi. The horses had left even earlier, to be off-loaded, saddled, and prepped for their workouts. It was quiet, almost serene. Voices were muffled by the fog, and people moved in and out of the trailing mist like ghosts.

Men leaned against the sagging rail around the oval, sipping from steaming paper cups. Some work for the track or Daily Racing Form. The fog, the trees slipping through it, the all but empty grandstands. Two minutes around the oval, over and done in a flash. Thrilling, certainly. Sometimes terrifying. Triumphant or tragic. Often a man or woman is judged the same way. By one aspect, or one act. Others, hardly more than children, with an eager look in the eye, loitered, hoping for their chance.

Horses were discussed, strategies outlined. A groom in a tweed hat gently walked a crippled horse, singing to it in a soothing monotone. There was no particular excitement, or anticipation. Just routine, one she realized went on day after day while most people slept or nodded over their first cup of coffee. She spotted a man in a pale blue suit and shiny boots in earnest conversation with a placid-eyed man in a tattered cardigan.

Now and again the man in the suit would punctuate his words with a jab of a pudgy finger. A flashy diamond ring in the shape of a horseshoe winked with every move. Bill inherited it, oh, about twenty-five years ago, I guess. Now he has an interest in several horses, owns one or two mediocre ones outright. He lives in Maryland. Claiming race at Hialeah. She took the win as the rider pleased. I was just telling Carmine how she should be worked today.

Like everyone else in the area, he already knew about Kelsey. Glad to meet you, dearie. You take care now. What the hell was he saying about his horse? He picked up the filly in a claiming race, meaning the owners had put it up for sale.

The horse won easily, and Bill met the asking price. Come on, Moses should have a rider up by now. With little between them, Kelsey noted. The saddle was so tiny, hardly more than a slip of leather. The boys, as they were called regardless of sex, stood in the high stirrups while mounted trainers walked beside or behind them toward the track.

The mist was lifting now, and they cut through it like bullets through mesh, exploding through it, shredding it. Huge bodies on thin legs, spewing up dirt, necks straining forward with their tiny riders bent low. Her heartbeat picked up the pulse of the muffled thunder of hooves. Both horses looked magnificent now, eating up the track, tossing pieces of it toward the sky.

They were airborne, those terrifyingly delicate legs lifting off the earth like wings. She could have stayed there for hours, watching horse after horse, lap after lap. True, it took only a minute or two, and the clockers stood with their stopwatches, the trainers with theirs, but it was timeless to her.

Like a lovely animated painting in a worn frame. Horses steamed in the cool air as they were unsaddled and walked. Legs were checked for strains, sprains, and bruises.

A groom posed another, crouching down, searching for injury. A farrier with leather apron and battered toolbox hammered a shoe. Look there. He was talking fast, puffing to keep up. They hustle from barn to barn trying to convince everyone they represent the next Willie Shoemaker. And the waiting would start. There was a pleasure in it now, watching her daughter circle with the hot walker. Asking questions, Naomi imagined. The child had always been full of questions. But never aloof, as she was now.

Then the stiffness had come back. Subtle, but then there were so many subtleties to her daughter. So many contrasts. Kelsey laughed. It was the first time Naomi had heard the sound, easy, without reservations. To hold her, just once. She might let me, out of pity.

That would be worse than rejection. But I do want her to let me love her. Kelsey tried to ignore the intimacy of the pose when she walked back to them. It was their business, she reminded herself.

She kept a smile on her face and reached out for the coffee Gabe offered. The pace was definitely slowing down, she noted. By ten the workday was over for the horses not scheduled to race. Trailers pulled in and pulled out. The track was groomed. By noon, the grandstands began to fill. The glassed-in restaurant behind them served lunch, catering to those who preferred their racing experience away from the noise and smells of the masses.

In the shedrow, horses were prepped once again. Swollen legs were iced down in buckets. Smiling a little, Deanna reached out in the dark for the switch that controlled a bank of overhead lights. She thought she heard something, some whisper that barely disturbed the air. And a feeling stabbed through that fine sense of anticipation. A feeling that she was not alone. Angela, she thought, and flicked the switch.

But as the overhead lights flashed on, brighter ones, blinding ones, exploded inside her head. As the pain ripped through them, she plunged back into the dark. She crawled back into consciousness, moaning. Her head, heavy with pain, lolled back against a chair. Groggy, disoriented, she lifted a hand to the worst of the ache. Her fingers came away lightly smeared with blood. She struggled to focus, baffled to find herself sitting in her own chair, on her own set.

Had she missed a cue? But there was no studio audience beyond the camera, no technicians working busily out of range. Though the lights flooded down with the familiar heat, there was no show in progress. Her vision wavered again, like water disturbed by a pebble, and she blinked to clear it. It was then her gaze latched on to the two images on the monitor. She saw herself, pale and glazed-eyed.

Then she saw, with horror, the guest sitting in the chair beside hers. Angela, her pink silk suit decorated with pearl buttons. Matching strands of pearls around her throat, clustered at her ears.

Angela, her golden hair softly coiffed, her legs crossed, her hands folded together over the right arm of the chair. It was Angela. Oh yes, there was no mistaking it. Even though her face had been destroyed. Blood was splattered over the pink silk and joined by more that ran almost leisurely down from where that lovely, canny face should be. It was then Deanna began to scream. Chapter One Chicago, I n five, four, three. Deanna smiled at the camera from her corner of the set of Midday News.

What inspired you to write about a trait most people consider a character flaw? Deanna shifted subtly, laying her hand over his rigid fingers just under camera range. Her eyes radiated interest, her touch communicated support. Though his explanations were delivered in fits and starts, she was able to smooth over the awkwardness, guiding him through the three-minute-fifteen-second spot.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Jonathan. I appreciate your coming in. I think this will generate a lot of local interest in your book. Would you mind signing this for me? I did a radio interview this morning. Part of her mind, most of her energy, was already at the news desk across the studio. After slipping the book under the counter, she hooked her mike to the lapel of her red suit. He had a good face for the camera—mature, trustworthy, with distinguished flecks of gray at the temples of his rust-colored hair.

Whatever response Roger might have made was cut off by the floor director signaling time. While the TelePrompTer rolled, Roger smiled into the camera, setting the tone for a soft segment on the birth of twin tigers at the zoo.

This is Roger Crowell. See you tomorrow. You wrote that piece on the baby tigers yourself. It had your fingerprints all over it. There was no disguising pounds from the merciless eye of the camera. Beneath his impeccable blue serge jacket, he wore a pair of eye-popping Bermuda shorts. They pushed through the studio doors together.

It shows.

You get that line between your eyebrows. After flicking on the lights, he stood behind her, his hands on her shoulders as they faced the mirror. Subtle, wholesome sex. Those big, trust-me eyes and peaches and cream. Not bad qualities for a television reporter.

No one in television would dare refer to them as wrinkles. All blow-dried hair and bonded teeth. She was more worried about her eyelashes than she was punching the lead.

Oh yes, she did.