CHAPTER ONEMegSomers manoeuvred the key into the lock with her arms full while pushing open thedoor with her hip. It was late, for she had stopped at the all-night market on her wayhome. The car in which she had ridden gave a faint toot before pulling away from the kerb.The driver was her boss, Pierre Frontand, the owner of the restaurant where she workedsplit hours at lunch and dinner time. She was seldom home before midnight when she rodewith Pierre.The lights were on all over the little apartment but Meg knew it was empty even beforeshe walked in. It had the feel of emptiness, quite apart from the lack of noise fromCarol's never-ending radio music. There was a smell of stale cigarette smoke, too, but noblue drift of smoke quivering on the air currents—another sign of Carol's absence.On her way to the bedroom, she glanced into Carol's room. It was a disaster. Discardedclothes were strewn across the bed, indicating that Carol had had trouble making herselection for tonight. Meg couldn't tell from her crowded wardrobe what her final choicehad been.She picked up wet towels and tidied the counter in the bathroom before showering andslipping into a flimsy nightgown and matching shorty robe. At her dressing-table mirror,she loosened her hair from its daytime confinement and began her ritual nightly brushing.In southern Florida, even in early spring, the nights were warm, and just about any breezeheld a scent of the sea.Ordinarily, the act of brushing her hair calmed Meg but tonight, sleep was the last thingon her mind. Shefrowned,then reminded herself that frowns brought wrinkles and Godknows, at twenty-four, she didn't need any more of those. Meg Somers was too thin andangular for conventional prettiness, but she always looked marvellous in whatever she woreand her eyes were a remarkable green, as changeable as the sea. Her dark red hair andhigh cheekbones, plus a natural elegance, gave her an air of distinction that was an asset inher job, which was as hostess at a rather famous French restaurant. She was well liked byher co-workers and most of the pampered, well-fed customers knew her as a decorativepart of the decor.She could have been a model but since no one ever told her that, she assumed that thereal beauty of the family was her eighteen-year-old stepsister, Carol. So did Carol, whonever failed to remind Meg thatherhair did not turn carrot red in the sun, andshedid nothave a crop of freckles every summer. Instead, Carol's hair was red gold, and her figurecurved in all the right places. Her wide blue eyes could melt with innocence and she had agolden tan. And ever since Carol had been old enough to look into a mirror, she had knownshe was destined for stardom.