To Woo A Wife(9)

By: Carole Mortimer

According to Daniel Sutherland's daughter Cathy, the eldest of two children from his first marriage, Sabina had been the daughter of one of her father's employees. On marriage to Daniel Sutherland, she'd very quickly it the advantages of having such a wealthy husband, his death two years ago, she'd never demeaned herself enough to stay in one of the family hotels, always had private accommodation close by—on a grand scale—when she was on one of her regular visits as gaurdian of the major shareholder in the family business, Sabina's young daughter Charlotte was the real Sutherland heir; Sabina was merely a caretaker until her child achieved the age of twenty-one. But until that time the woman obviously intended to milk the situation for what it was worth!

It was all too easy to see why Cathy, and her younger brother Danny, resented the hold their stepmother had in their inheritance through her own daughter's shares the company. Daniel Sutherland must have been too besotted with his second wife to have left his will the way that he had—

‘You're talking of Sabina Sutherland?' Abbie prompted coolly.

"Who else?' he scorned. 'She's staying in a private ski-lodge somewhere up the mountain—'

'And how do you know that?' She looked at him frowingly.

He shrugged. 'I asked around.' Violet-blue eyes widened.

'And someone here, at the hotel, told you where she was staying?'

'Not here, Abbie.' He gave a smile. 'I'm sure giving out that sort of information about their employer is more than their job is worth! No, I asked around, discreetly, in London, before coming out here to Whistler.'

He had suffered several boring evenings listening to Cathy Sutherland's bitterness about her stepmother, withstanding her more than obvious attempts to deepen their relationship to physical intimacy, attempts he had of course deftly outmanoeuvred—he never mixed business with his private life!—before he was able to find out that the Black Widow, as Cathy called her stepmother, would be in Canada the second week of January, skiing with her daughter, Charlotte.

There was obviously little sisterly love between Cathy and Charlotte either, Cathy referring to her half-sibling as 'the brat'. There had to be an age gap between the two sisters, and at thirty Cathy was already starting to lose her bloom, her blonde beauty, after years of grievance, taking on a certain hardness that was far from attractive, so the existence of a young and probably pretty half-sister wouldn't go down too well with someone like her. Besides which, having grown up in the lap of luxury, with a mother who was patently money-grasping herself, Charlotte Sutherland was probably a brat!

'You've done your research on this woman, then, Jarrett?' Alison prompted curiously.

He shrugged. 'I'm only interested in her business life, not her personal one.' Although Cathy would have been only too happy to go on for hours about the woman her father had married after the death of her own mother twenty years ago, if he'd let her! But as far as Jarrett was concerned it was just another example of why marriage wasn't for him. He could imagine nothing worse than being married for his money. By all accounts, Daniel Sutherland had been an intelligent man, and he had still been fooled. For some years, it seemed.

You still haven't told us what business you have with her? Abbie said casually.

He shook his head, leaning back in his chair, his expression closed. 'I think I've said altogether too much on the subject already,' he said firmly. 'It must have n the champagne we drank earlier to toast your marriage.' He addressed the other couple. Talking of which..."

Stephen signalled the waiter, requesting another bottle of champagne for the four of ten.

Which gave Jarrett the few minutes' respite he needed gather his scattered wits together. He had said enough ready, revealed more than necessary of himself and his reasons for being here in Canada. For a man who was really private to the point of rudeness—even Cathy Sutherland, so free with the information about the step-mother she detested, hadn't known why he was so interested in her!—he felt uncomfortable with the knowledge mat he had been provoked into revealing that much id die three people present

It was Abbie's fault, of course. While giving every penance of being open and beautiful, she had managed not to reveal a single fact about herself, but had goaded Jarrett, he now realised, into talking about himself in an effort to get her to open up about herself.

He tried to think what he did know about her. She bad once been a model—years ago, if they coincided with the period he had spent in Australia. She travelled a lot, and not through choice, if her dislike of it was to be believed. If she didn't like it so much, then why do it at all? She-He was becoming obsessed with the woman, he realisd angrily. And for a man who, at best, viewed women with teasing affection, and at worst with cold disdain, it wasn't a feeling he was particularly comfortable with!