DANIELLE STEEL“STEEL IS ONE OF THE BEST.”—Los Angeles Times“THE PLOTS OF DANIELLE STEEL’S NOVELS TWIST AND WEAVE AS INCREDIBLE STORIES UNFOLD TO THE THRILL AND DELIGHT OF HER ENORMOUS READING PUBLIC.”—United Press International“A LITERARY PHENOMENON … ambitious … prolific … and not to be pigeonholed as one who produces a predictable kind of book.”—The Detroit News“There is a smooth reading style to her writings which makes it easy to forget the time and to keep flipping the pages.”—The Pittsburgh Press“Ms. Steel excels at pacing her narrative, which races forward, mirroring the frenetic lives chronicled here; men and women swept up in bewildering change, seeking solutions to problems never before faced.”—Nashville Banner



www.daniellesteel.comDELL PUBLISHING

“I shall bury the wounded like pupas,

I shall count and bury the dead.

Let their souls writhe in a dew,

Incense in my track.

The carriages rock, they are cradles.

And I, stepping from this skin

Of old bandages, boredoms, old facesStep to you from the black car of Lethe,

Pure as a baby.”From “Getting There”

by Sylvia Plath, Ariel.

Chapter 1

Edward Hascomb Rawlings sat in his office and smiled at the morning paper on his desk. Page five showed a large photograph of a smiling young woman coming down the ramp of a plane. The Honorable Kezia Saint Martin. Another smaller photograph showed her on the arm of a tall, attractive man, leaving the terminal for the seclusion of a waiting limousine. The man, as Edward knew, was Whitney Hayworth III, the youngest partner of the legal firm of Benton, Thatcher, Powers, and Frye. Edward had known Whit since the boy got out of law school. And that had been ten years ago. But he wasn’t interested in Whit. He was interested in the diminutive woman on his arm. Edward knew her almost jet black hair, deep blue eyes, and creamy English complexion so well.

And she looked well now, even in newsprint. She was smiling. She seemed tanned. And she was finally back. Her absences always seemed interminable to Edward. The paper said that she had just come from Marbella, where she had been seen over the weekend, staying at the Spanish summer home of her aunt, the Contessa di San Ricamini, née Hilary Saint Martin. Before that Kezia had summered in the South of France, in “almost total seclusion.” Edward laughed at the thought. He had seen her column regularly all summer, with reports from London, Paris, Barcelona, Nice, and Rome. She had had a busy summer, in “seclusion.”

A paragraph further down the same page mentioned three others who had arrived on the same flight as Kezia. The so suddenly powerful daughter of the Greek shipping magnate, who had left her, his only heir, the bulk of his fortune. And there was mention as well of the Belgian princess, fresh from the Paris collections for a little junket to New York. Kezia had been in good company on the flight, and Edward wondered how much money she had taken from them at backgammon. Kezia was a most effective player. It struck him too that it was once again Kezia who got most of the press coverage. It was that way for her. Always the center of attention, the sparkle, the thunder, the flash of cameras as she walked into restaurants and out of theaters. It had been at its cruelest peak when she was in her teens; the photographers and reporters were always hungry, curious, prying, then. For years it had seemed that she was followed everywhere by a fleet of piranhas, but that was when she had first inherited her father’s fortune. Now they were used to her, and their attention seemed kinder.

At first Edward had tried hard to shield her from the press. That first year. That first, godawful, intolerable, excruciating year, when she was nine. But the scavengers had only been waiting. And they hadn’t waited long. It came as a shock to Kezia when she was thirteen, to be followed by a red-hot young woman reporter into Elizabeth Arden’s. Kezia hadn’t understood. But the reporter had. She had understood plenty. Edward’s face grew hard at the memory. Bitch. How could she do that to a child? She had asked her about Liane, right there in front of everyone. “How did you feel when your mother …” The reporter was four years late with her story. And out of a job by noon the next day. Edward was disappointed: he had hoped to have her job by the same night. And that was Kezia’s first taste of it. Notoriety. Power. A fortune. A name. Parents with histories. And grandparents with histories and power and money. Nine generations of it on her mother’s side. Only three worth mentioning on her father’s. History. Power. Money. Things you can’t conjure up, or lie about, or steal. You have to be born with them running thick in your veins. All three. And beauty. And style. And then with some other magical ingredient dancing in you at lightning speed, then … and only then, are you Kezia Saint Martin. And there was only one.

Edward stirred the coffee in the white-and-gold Limoges cup on his desk, and settled back to look at the view. The East River, dotted with small boats and barges, was a narrow gray ribbon far below on his right. He faced north from where he sat, and gazed peacefully over the congestion of midtown Manhattan, past its skyscrapers, to look down on the sturdy residential fortresses of Park Avenue and Fifth, huddled near the clump of browning green that was Central Park, and in the distance, a blur that was Harlem. It was merely a part of his view, and not a part that interested him a great deal. Edward was a busy man.

He sipped the coffee, and turned to “Martin Hallam’s” column to see who among his acquaintances was allegedly in love with whom, who was giving a dinner party where, who would attend, and who would presumably not show up because of the latest social feud. He knew only too well that there would be an item or two from Marbella. He knew Kezia’s style well enough to know that she would mention herself. She was thorough and prudent. And he was right. “On the list of returning refugees after a summer abroad: Scooter Hollingsworth, Bibi Adams-Jones, Melissa Sentry, Jean-Claude Reims, Kezia Saint Martin, and Julian Bodley. Hail, hail, the gang’s all here! Everyone is coming home!”

It was September, and he could still hear Kezia’s voice of a September seven years before….

“… All right, Edward, I’ve done it. I did Vassar, and the Sorbonne, and I just did another summer at Aunt Hil’s. I’m twenty-one years old and now I’m going to do what I want for a change. No more guilt trips about what my father would have wanted, or my mother would have preferred and what you feel is ‘sensible.’ I’ve done it all, for them and for you. And now I’m going to do it for me….”

She had marched up and down his office with a stormy look on her face, while he worried about the “it” she was referring to.

“And what exactly are you planning to do?” He was dying inside. But she was awfully young and very beautiful.

“I don’t know exactly. But I have some ideas.”

“Share them with me.”

“I plan to, but don’t be disagreeable, Edward.” She had turned toward him with fiery amethyst lights in her rich blue eyes. She was a striking girl, even more so when she was angry. Then the eyes would become almost purple, the cameo skin would blush faintly under the cheekbones, and the contrast made her dark hair shine like onyx. It almost made you forget how tiny she was. She was barely more than five feet tall, but well proportioned, with a face that in anger drew one like a magnet, riveting her victim’s eyes to her own. And the entire package was Edward’s responsibility, had been since her parents’ deaths. Ever since then, the burden of those fierce blue eyes had belonged to him, and her governess, Mrs. Townsend, and her Aunt Hilary, the Contessa di San Ricamini.

Hilary, of course, didn’t want to be bothered. She was perfectly willing, in fact nowadays frankly delighted, to have the girl stay with her in London at Christmas, or come to the house in Marbella for the summer. But she did not want to be bothered with what she referred to as “trivia.” Kezia’s fascination with the Peace Corps had been “trivia,” as had her much-publicized romance with the Argentinian ambassador’s son three years before. Her depression when the boy had married his cousin had also been “trivia,” as had Kezia’s other passing fascinations with people, places, and causes. Maybe Hilary had a point; it all fell by the wayside eventually anyway. But until it did, it was inevitably Edward’s problem. At twenty-one, she had already been a burden on his shoulders for twelve long years. But it was a burden he had cherished.

“Well, Kezia, you’ve been wearing out the rug in my office, but you still haven’t told me what these mysterious plans of yours are. What about that course in journalism at Columbia? Have you lost interest in trying that?”

“As a matter of fact, I have. Edward, I want to go to work.”