Chapter One May 1892Houston Chandler walked the block and a half to her house as sedately as she could manage, halting before a three-story, red brick French Victorian house that the town called the Chandler Mansion. Composing herself, smoothing her hair, she mounted the steps.As she put her parasol in the porcelain holder in the little vestibule, she heard her stepfather bellowing at her sister."I'll not have language like that in my house. You may think that because you call yourself a doctor you have a right to indecent behavior, but not in my house," Duncan Gates shouted.Blair Chandler, as like her twin sister as another person can be, glared at the man, who was a few inches shorter than she was and built as solidly as a stone building. "Since when is this your house? My father -- ."Houston stepped into the family parlor and put herself between her sister and her stepfather. "Isn't it time for dinner? Perhaps we should go in." With her back to her stepfather, she gave a pleading look to her sister.Blair turned away from them both, her anger obvious.Duncan took Houston's arm and led her past the staircase and toward the dining room. "At least I have one decent daughter."Houston winced as she heard the often repeated remark. She hated being compared to Blair, and worse, hated being the winner.They were barely seated at the big, mahogany table, each setting laid with crystal, porcelain and sterling, Duncan at the head, Opal Gates at the foot, the twins across from each other, when he started again."You'd think you'd want to do something to please your mother," Duncan said, glaring at Blair, as an eleven-pound roast was set before him. He picked up carving utensils. "Are you too selfish to care about anybody else? Doesn't your mother mean anything to you?"Blair, her jaw clenched, looked at her mother. Opal was like a faded copy of her beautiful daughters. It was obvious that what spirit she'd ever had was either gone or deeply buried. "Mother," Blair said, "do you want me to return to Chandler, marry some fat banker, have a dozen children and give up medicine?"Opal smiled fondly at her daughter as she took a small helping of eggplant from the platter held by a maid. "I want you to be happy, dear, and I believe it's rather noble of you to want to save people's lives."Blair turned triumphant eyes toward her stepfather. "Houston's given up her life in order to please you. Isn't that enough for you? Do you have to see me broken too?""Houston!" Duncan thundered, clutching the big carving knife until his knuckles were white. "Are you going to allow your sister to say such things?"Houston looked from her sister to her stepfather. Under no circumstances did she want to side with either one of them. When Blair returned to Pennsylvania after the wedding, Houston'd still be in the same town with her stepfather. With joy, she heard the downstairs maid announce Dr. Leander Westfield.Quickly, Houston stood. "Susan," she said to the serving maid, "set another place."Leander walked into the room with long, confident strides. He was tall, slim, dark, extremely good-looking with green eyes to die for, as a friend of Houston's once said -- and exuded an air of self-assurance that made women stop on the street and stare. He greeted Mr. and Mrs. Gates.Leander leaned across the edge of the table and gave Houston a quick kiss on the cheek. Kissing a woman, even your wife, and certainly your fiancee, so publicly was outrageous, but Leander had an air about him that allowed him to get away with things other men couldn't."Will you have dinner with us?" Houston asked politely, indicating the place set next to her."I've eaten, but maybe I'll join you for a cup of coffee. Good evening, Blair," he said as he sat down across from her.Blair only glanced at him in answer as she poked at the food on her plate."Blair, you'll speak to Leander properlDeveraux, Jude is the author of 'Twin of Ice', published 1989 under ISBN 9780671739713 and ISBN 0671739719.