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92652682 Iris Johansen Winter Bride

92652682 Iris Johansen Winter Bride

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Published by: parul_saxena19868979 on Aug 28, 2012
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 Iris Johansen
Winter Bride
Copyright © 1992 by Iris Johansen.ISBN 0-553-44186-8
Jed Corbin possessed a face that riveted attention and a deep voice he played like a musical instrument, projecting notes of humor, sternness,and crisp decisiveness with faultless symmetry. He bore no resemblance to Arnold at all, Ysabel realized with profound relief."It's time you went to bed now." The command came from outside the library where Ysabel sat. "I've made you a cup of hot chocolate andset it on your nightstand in your room. What are you—" Betty Starnes stopped in the doorway, her gaze fastened with shock on the face of the man on the big-screen TV. "Jed," she muttered.Ysabel's finger went instinctively to the off switch of the remote control before she realized it was no longer necessary to hide her interest inJed Corbin. "You were here before he left, weren't you? Did he look like this when you knew him?" Ysabel leaned forward, absorbed withcatching the expressions flickering across the journalist's mobile face."No, he was only twenty-two and his hair was black, not silver . . . and his expression is harder now." Betty tore her gaze from the televisionto stare accusingly at Ysabel. "You shouldn't be ogling that imp of Satan. You know Mr. Arnold wouldn't like it.""He's broadcasting from Paris tonight. He seems quite competent." She added casually, "I just ran across the program." Was she afraid to tellBetty the truth? she wondered. It was none of the housekeeper's business that Ysabel had purposely arranged to watch Jed Corbin tonight, butthe habits ingrained over the years were hard to break.She tried to block the waves of disapproval the woman was projecting as she hit the mute button on the remote control. That was better. JedCorbin's deep mesmerizing voice was having a disturbing effect and interfering with her concentration. A perfectly natural reaction, shethought quickly. She had never been permitted to watch him on television, but from what she had read in the papers he had the same effecton millions of other viewers.Jed Corbin was the foremost news anchorman in the United States and though he had built his reputation on a combination of sound journalism and breathtaking fearlessness, his magnetic physical appeal must have been a valuable asset to him. Twenty-two, Betty had said.That meant he was only thirty-six now, and his close-cropped silver hair was definitely premature. It was difficult to imagine him with dark hair or with any hint of softness clinging to him. His tan face was lined by experience, and his light blue eyes gazed out at her with wearycynicism. Dressed in a cream-colored cable-knit sweater and tweed sport coat, he was as different from the elegant, thoughtful anchormanYsabel regularly watched as a tiger was from a pussy cat."Competent? The only thing Jed Corbin's competent at is causing trouble." Betty marched over to the television, her tall, powerful bodyquivering with indignation. She turned off the set. "I can't believe you did this. You were told that man's program was never to be watched inthis house. Here, poor Mr. Arnold has been in his grave only two days and already you're flaunting his orders.""Betty. I'd like to see—" Ysabel broke off as she saw the woman's determined expression. The housekeeper would have to learn the statusquo had changed, but Ysabel was too weary to fight her at the moment. The last six months of Arnold's life had drained her strength andstamina, and she must save herself for the important battles. "Very well." She obediently rose to her feet and started toward the door. "By theway, I phoned Lyle Townsend late this afternoon, but his secretary said he'd have to return my call. Make sure he's put through to me even if I'm already asleep.""Why would you call him?"The question was spoken with Betty's usual blunt curiosity, but Ysabel ignored her rudeness. "He's Arnold's lawyer. I thought I'd ask him tocome to the castle tomorrow to have a discussion concerning the will.""You know what's in the will. He read it to you in this very room right after the funeral."Ysabel carefully restrained the flicker of annoyance she felt. She had learned to control her anger, suppress her true nature, and it was nottime to release either. "I'd still like to go over a few of the clauses with him." She wished Betty would just accept her words without 
quesonng. es no come easy o er. eaven nows, er e n s ouse wou ave een a goo ea easer ey a."You shouldn't trouble your head about such business. Mr. Townsend will take care of everything for you just as he did for Mr. Arnold."Ysabel forced a smile. "But it's my duty to at least have a superficial idea of Arnold's holdings.""Maybe," Betty acceded grudgingly. "Okay, I'll put through the call.""Thank you." Ysabel kept the sarcasm from her tone. She moved toward the stone steps leading to the second floor of the castle. "Goodnight. Betty.""You remember to drink your hot chocolate. You need it to help you sleep."Ysabel knew Betty didn't care a whit about whether she slept well or not. The chocolate was just another way of enforcing her will onYsabel. Arnold had taught his housekeeper well the ways of tyranny. "Yes, of course."As she climbed the steps she noticed how softly and fluidly the skirt of her ivory-colored velvet robe flowed over the cold gray stone. Howshe had grown to hate these lounging robes Arnold had insisted she wear these past seven years. The gowns had become a symbol of herbondage as much as Bettys arrogant, bullying presence. But her imprisonment was nearly over. Soon she would be able to fully concentrateon the purpose that had obsessed her all these years, and both the symbols and chains would go up in smoke.And Jed Corbin could well be the flame that would burn through the links."Now, mind you go right to bed," Betty called after her.Ysabel smiled serenely but didn't look at her as she lifted her skirts with the quaint, graceful gesture Arnold had taught her, and proceeded upthe stairs. "Don't I always do what you tell me?"**"A Mr. Townsend to see you, Monsieur Corbin," the concierge announced as soon as Jed picked up the phone. "Shall I send him up?""No problem. Townsend called me from the airport. I'm expecting him." Jed hung up and immediately the phone rang again.Ronnie's voice practically burst over the line. "Jed, I just saw you on television. What the hell do you think you're doing? You told me youwere going on vacation too.""Galm down Ronnie. That's why I'm doing the series in Paris. It's almost a vacation.""The devil it is. You send me to Puerto Rico and then go off on a job. I'm sick to death of all this sunshine and sand and—""Only you would complain about lying on a tropical beach for two months.""Beaches are boring.""Everything is boring to you but your camera. You needed this vacation. The doctor said you hadn't let yourself recuperate fully after yougot out of the hospital in Kuwait.""Bull. I'll be watching you. You do another broadcast and you'll find me knocking on your door." Ronnie hung up.That's all he needed, Jed thought ruefully. He should have known Ronnie would start chomping at the bit the minute it became clear Jedhadn't taken a break as he had said he was going to do.He replaced the receiver and went back to his packing.A knock sounded on the door. Townsend.Jed glanced through the peephole to be sure. He hadn't seen the man for over fourteen years but had no trouble recognizing him. The lawyerwas a little more plump, his graying hair receding, but he could swear the dark blue Brooks Brothers suit was the same one he had wornwhen he had arranged bail for Jed after that barroom brawl in Tacoma.He swung open the door. "Come in, Townsend. But you'll have to be brief." He strode across the room and closed the suitcase. "You'vecaught me at a bad time. I've ordered a taxi to pick me up in fifteen minutes.""So that inquisitive young person downstairs informed me." Townsend seemed faintly disgruntled. "She did everything but take myfingerprints before allowing me to come up and see you.""Good. I'm glad she followed through with my orders. I like my privacy." He fastened the snaps on the suitcase. "Talk fast, Townsend."Townsend came into the room and closed the door. "I've flown all the way from Seattle to see you. I would think you could allow me a fewmoments of your precious time."

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