Vengeful Seduction Online - Cathy Williams

CHAPTER ONE

WHITE was a dreadful colour. Isobel stared at her reflection in the dressing-table mirror and thought that she would probably never wear it again. It would forever conjure up a feeling of despair.

She began brushing her hair, long dark hair, almost black, which fell down her back in small waves. Sooner or later, she knew, she would have to stop brushing it. She had been up here in her bedroom for well over two hours now, getting dressed, but in reality dodging the inevitable which would be progressing now downstairs.

There was a knock on the door and her mother pushed it open and came inside, smiling. Isobel smiled back. The muscles in her jaw ached from the effort but she had no choice. Brides were supposed to be radiant. It was their hallmark. Whoever heard of a depressed bride?

‘I’m nearly ready,’ Isobel said, turning around and hearing the rustle of her dress under her. The sleeves felt too tight, restricting almost, and the neckline was too low, but then she had only herself to blame. Her input in choosing the thing had been next to nil. She had allowed her mother to pick the design from a magazine without even glancing at it. It had a top fitted to the waist, from where it fell in a series of chiffon layers down to her calves. She had been measured for it, had tried it on, had nodded at her mother and the seamstress, and she had hardly seen it at all.

Now she realised that she hated it, but then, she thought, she would have hated any bridal dress.

‘How do I look?’ she asked, standing up, and her mother’s smile broadened.

‘A picture, darling,’ her mother said, with a sheen in her eyes, and Isobel said quickly, firmly,

‘No tears—you promised.’ Cry, she thought, and I shall burst into tears, and as well as being a depressed bride I shall end up being a depressed bride with mascara streaming down my face. Not an attractive sight.

‘But where has my little girl gone?’ Mrs Chandler held her daughter’s hands and Isobel looked back at her with great love and a growing lump in her throat.

‘I’m still here, Mum,’ she said. ‘You’re not losing a daughter; you’re gaining a son.’ That took quite a bit of doing, and saying it made her feel ever so slightly sick.

‘Of course I am, darling,’ Mrs Chandler agreed, ‘but your dad and I…well…Where have all the years gone? One minute you’re a toddler, and now here you are getting married.’

‘I had to grow up some time.’ It was important to keep her voice light, carefree. It wouldn’t do at all to have her parents suspect, even for a moment, that all was not well in Bride City. They would immediately start asking questions, and Isobel couldn’t afford for that to happen. She loved them both far too much. She had been the much longed for and only child of a couple who had given up hope of ever having children, and from the day of her birth she had been showered with parental adoration. They had both taken an inordinate delight in everything she had done, said, thought, and Isobel had returned their joy with the same deep love.

‘And how do I look?’ Mrs Chandler gave a small twirl and Isobel grinned broadly.

‘Spectacular.’ She did, too. Mrs Chandler was as tall as her daughter was, but fair where Isobel was dark, although they both had the same shade of violet-blue eyes and the same long, thick eyelashes. She was sixty now, but her face was still beautiful, with that amazing bone-structure and that clear, faultless complexion. Parkinson’s disease might have tainted her movements, slowed her speech, but it had not diminished her lustre.

‘Dad’s a lucky man,’ Isobel said, and when she thought of her father she had another one of those awful lumps in the back of her throat again.

Mrs Chandler laughed. ‘If you could have seen him an hour ago,’ she said, ‘you wouldn’t have described him as a man toppling over under the weight of his good luck. He was scowling rather heavily and trying to squeeze into a dinner-jacket. He insisted that he could still get into the one he wore when we married, and of course he can’t. The odd button at the bottom will have to be left undone, but I don’t think anyone will notice, do you? All eyes will be on you today, my darling.’

That made Isobel feel almost as sick as