Leaving her life in Hawaii and flying to Eastern Maine so often, even for the sake of her family, was beginning to wear on Delia Blanchard. All she really wanted to do was stand on the warm sands of Oahu, breathe deeply of the sweet tropical air and feel its balmy breezes on her face. Instead, here she was, back on the Atlantic coast again and stuck within the cold, stone walls of the Blanchard mansion. It was enough to make any wahine shiver, even a transplanted one like her. She fluffed her short, dark hair, forced a smile and aimed it especially at her youngest sister, Juliet. "You okay, honey?" Juliet nodded. "Fine. I'm glad you came." "How could I refuse when my family needed me?" "We do. I wish you could stay longer this time." "I should have come when you were in the hospital," Delia said, giving her a warm, sisterly hug, "but by the time I got word and was able to book a flight back to the mainland, you were out of danger." "I understand." Juliet smiled. "Besides, I'd rather see you when I'm not flat on my back in some depressing hospital." Delia wasn't about to pursue this line of conversation. The sisters had enough problems without rehashing Juliet's deliberate poisoning, not to mention Portia's foiled kidnapping and Rissa's brush with death on the cliffs a few weeks ago. Her brown eyes narrowed as she took in the darkly paneled walls and the sweeping walnut staircase with its heavy, ornate balustrades. "Speaking of depressing... This place gives me the worst shivers every time I come back. I know you'll be glad to marry Brandon and move out of here." "It's not so bad. I suppose you would notice the contrast more than the rest of us," the blond young woman said. "There's a big difference between the Maine coast and the shores of Oahu." "That'san understatement." The heavy front door swung open to admit a gust of icy wind and three more of Delia's sisters. Twins Portia and Rissa led and Bianca followed. "Sorry we're late. Father insisted on taking the scenic route in spite of the bad weather." Delia laughed. "You should have ridden with Miranda and Aunt Winnie or Juliet and me. My rental car may not be as luxurious as Father's town car but we got back here a lot faster." She wrapped her arms close around herself, chilled despite her long-sleeved, belted sweater, and squelched a shudder as her sisters shed their coats. "I don't know why Father insisted we visit the cemetery again. I think births and happy occasions like that should be celebrated, not anniversaries of loss." The others murmured agreement, growing more subdued the moment their father, Ronald Blanchard, joined them. Tall and broad shouldered, with attractive streaks of gray at his temples, he cut a dashing figure. Although he was in his late fifties, he still drew a lot of attention from the female residents of Stoneley, Maine. His overall countenance, however, left a lot to be desired. Delia couldn't help comparing it with the brewing, New England storm. Happily, the gray clouds outside would soon lift while her father seemed to be growing more morose by the minute. Anyone who wasn't aware of his decades-long estrangement from his recently deceased wife, Trudy, might think that he had actually cared for her. The sisters knew better, of course. They had grown up in a home where the mere mention of their mother's name was strictly forbidden. Ronald Blanchard, like his own father, Howard, was a hard, unforgiving man. Whatever he said, went, and no one dared question his edicts. No one excepther. Thoughtful, Delia pressed her lips together. Perhaps she had inherited more negative family traits than she liked to admit. She'd tried for twelve years to forgive her father for having had her marriage annulled and she still harbored a grudge. Yes, she'd been underage at the time. And, yes, she'd gone against his wishes. But that didn't mean it couldn'Hansen, Valerie is the author of 'Deadly Payoff ', published 2007 under ISBN 9780373442423 and ISBN 0373442424.