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Praise for Catherine Cooksons THE

OBSESSION

Cookson will continue to please fans worldwide with her latest tale of intrigue, unrequited love, and extreme passions. Expect high demand from customers who can't get enough of Cookson's masterful storytelling." comBooklist

"Intriguing subplots, interesting and welldeveloped major and minor characters, and strong narrative movement demonstrate Cookson's mastery of the historical romance." comLibrary Journal

"Ms. Cookson weaves a dark tale in The Obsession and develops a truly despicable character in Beatrice."

comThe Chattanooga Times

"From one of the world's most beloved authors, Catherine Cookson, comes a new historical novel laced with sordid family secrets and brazen passion- The Obsession."

comThe West Orange Times

mtch fw ffle newest kbuster from CATHERINE

COOKSON and MIRA Books

THE UPSTART Comin August 1999

MRX

coma-- "---

If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as "unsold and dstroyed" to the publisher, and neither the author nor the pubisher has received any payment for this "stripped book."

MIRA

ISBN 1-551664542

THE OBSESSION

Copyright [*copy] 1995 by Catherine Cookson. This edition is reprinted by arrangement with Simon and Schuster, Inc.

All rights reserved. Bxcept for use in any eview, he reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented including xerography, photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system is fobidden without he written permission of the publisher, MffiA Books, 225

Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills,

Ontario, Canada M3But 3K9.

All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all incidents are pure invention.

MIRA and the Star Colophon are trademaiks used under icense and registered in Australia New Zealand Philippines, United States Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries.

Printed in U.s.a.

PART ONE
The Garden Party

is he walked up the long, pine-bordered drive, so thick on either side were the trees that they dimmed lie sound of voices and laughter coming from beyond tem.

Approaching the end of the drive was like emergKig into dayight after walking through a tunnel. From tte surroundings it was obvious why the house was SiBed Pine Hurst. This was the first time he had seen itrfor it was his partner's preserve. It was long but *X too low, and as his eyes travelled to the right they IPO in what looked like a cottage attached to the end, it as was the rest, it was mullion-windowed. In front fit fte main building was a balcony from which shalsteps led down to a gravelled area which in turn i bar "e way to a large lawn.

bar *bar It was a most attractive-looking house from its long y up to its ornamental chimneys, of which, he d there were several, suggesting the house was I!? than it appeared to be from the outside.

IE neighing of a horse coming from the far end anDced there was a stable yard round the comer. But Catherine Cookson

The Obsession

he tued now from the house and looked to where two freshly clipped topiary lions guarded the low pilars that headed the four steps leading down to the lawn, not into a rose garden as one would expect, but to the large lawn on which was set a number of tables with bright canopy umbrellas above them. Some peo ple were already seated at the tables but more were walking about, and as he hitched up the small parcel nder his arm he reminded himself that this wasn't only a garden party but a twenty-first birthday celebration for Miss Beatrice Penrose-Steel.

He noticed a man disengage himself from a group and walk towards him. This was, he surmised, the Lord of the Manor, as old Comwallis dubbed him, and not a patch on his father, the late colonel.

Sion Steel greeted him, saying, "Ah!

Ah, you found us then. How is Doctor Comwallis?"'

"Not in very good shape today, I'm afraid; his leg is very painful."

"Tis gout, but he won't have it, will he?"'

No, he won't have it."

Ah well, come and meet my daughter."

He was now being led to a table at which sat a young woman, and immediately he noted the similarity between the father and daughter: they were of the same colouring, and both had light brown hair, grey eyes, the same-shaped mouth, wide but thin. Only this noses were different: his was beakish whilst hers was more inclined to be snub.

his is Doctor Falconer, my dear

Doctor Cornwallis's deputy." be John Falconer cast a sharp glance towards his host, j bar and he had (he desire to put him right and say, "Part j

r for e man was aware that there was now a ership between Dr Comwallis and himself. Btow d'you do? May I wish you a happy birth-l bar bar r1

lank you." Her voice was light and her smile e and as she took the parcel he held out to her

"*Ullsd on a laugh, 'I must inform you that this presSL i 'ot of my choice; Doctor

Comwallis said you

*eabbdg"..."...tilde . , *

J bar just bar elBut partial to chocolates."

I am. iank you so much." 'ySand two young women approached the table, she IIS-OD up and said,

'Oh, here are my sisters," and in-

**bar bar bar bar ang one, she said, his is my sister fatt...Doctor Falconer."

SiQe found himself looking at a young woman.

Her was a gleaming brown, her eyes a darker shade; rslan was like alabaster, her mouth wide and fullll She was tall, almost as tall as he: he was fivej bar "t eleven and she must be all of fivefoot nine, and il bar every arried herself so well... She was beautiful, unlike llletter sister.

Iffis ttention was jerked from her by Beatrice say'And this is Marion."

JM-ARION, too, was tall, but very fair. She, too, was adlooldng, not quite beautiful. Sband had a quiet ex bar t"...on but her eyes twinkled as she said "I uppose bebar bar bar bar bar Bie standing in for his bad leg...n gout. No, not IIIIB se added, mischievously, shaking her bead;

li he answered her in the same vein as be hook his d too, and laughing back at her, 'ationo, not gout. iver mention the word gout."

should be a lesson to you Doctor, to shun port."

he tamed now from the house and looked to where two freshly clipped topiary lions guarded the low pillars that headed the four steps leading dow to the lawn, not into a rose garden as one would expect, but to the large lawn on which was set a number of tables with bright canopy umbrellas above them. Soe people were already seated at the tables but more were walking about and as he hitched up the smal parcel under his arm he reminded himself that this wasn't only a garden party but a twenty-first birthday celebration for Miss Beatrice Penrose-Steel.

He noticed a man disengage himself from a group and walk towards him. This was, he surmised the Lord of the Manor, as old Comwallis dubbed him and not a patch on his father, the late colonel.

Simon Stee greeted him, saying, Ah! Ah, you found us then. How is Doctor Comwallis?"'

"Not in very good shape today, I'm afraid; his leg is very painful."

"Tis gout, but he won't have it, will he?"'

'ationo, he won't have it."

"Ah well, come and meet my daughter."

He was now being led to a table at which sat a young woman, and immediately he noted the similarity between the father and daughter: they were of the same colouring, and both had light brown hair, grey eyes, the same-shaped mouth, wide but thin. Only me noses were different: his was beaikish whilst hers was more inclined to be snub.

"This is Doctor alconer, my dear Doctor Comwaffis's deputy."

John Falconer cast a sharp glance towards his host, and he had the desire to put him right and say, "art-jji.fo die man was aware that there was ow a eteMship between Dr Comwallis and himself.

d'you do? May I wish you a happy

birthill.

Tbank you." Her voice was light and her smile aDo less-than as she took the parcel he held out to her jsd on a laugh "I must inform you that this pres-9 M not dg oy choice; Doctor

CornwaUis said you j bar ee partial to chocolates."

aQuite Thank you so much."

two young women approached the table, she aup and said, 'Oh, here are my sisters," and inIll she said, his is my sister ,...Doctor Falconer."

found himself looking at a young woman. Her was a gleaming brown, her eyes a darker shade; wa lie alabaster, her mouth wide and fulled She wa tall, almost as tall as he: he was fiveielfiye and se must be all of five-foot nine, and

herself so well... She was beautiful, unlike disness*ster

Sr t was jerked from her by Beatrice sayAnd ths is Marion."

too, was tall, but very fair. She, too, was not quite beautiful. She had a quiet ex-8lon he eyes twinkled as she said "I suppose standig in for his bad leg...n gout. No, not

ElLike added* michievously, shaking her head; w answered her in the same vein as he shook his 00" aod bck at her, No, not gout. r mentio the wod gut.

X i? be a lesson to yon Doctor, to shun port'

Yes, Im leaing lat lesson 11' I

Miss... Marion." t

They lauhed together nov until t P in again quickly, 'Helen, Leona has amved" And on this the tall girl said, "Oh! CX " And then she made hastily for the steps an the tal1'

middle-aged man standing at the top of th1

Marion caught John's atten10 " "

"As bar for me, I'd better go in and at to the "

s

John Falconer looked sligh perplexed until Be-atdce said somewhat primly, she has a sultor and just like Heen's, he is in the too' Then she added "I'm sorry I'm unable to show 011

round at the moment... But ah, here's osie 01"

be shown very much around by Rosie, m yongest sister, every bar

little detail. Rosie!" she called to 1- who was on t the point of rumung towards a101

g110 of g11- his ing young people. The giri ttf an(1 11 to- J wards them, said, 'allyes, Beatri *

*This is Doctor Falconer. W1 you like to show be

him around and introduce him

'Oh yes. Yes." And lookin at John she added' be

Tve seen you before in the to You are old Cornwallis's man, aren't you?"'

'I am his partner." his 4

*Partner? Oh, I'm son. I tt0 0 were J I 1 one of those, what d'you call tb1

locums?"' still Her voice stem, Beatrice pt"...ment i". sie! behave yourself Please!" fc

Friend answer Rosie smiled wid at John said' 11 *Come along. You'll get used W us a11 before y011' bar bar finished."

Tm sure I shall," he nodded at her. She was a very M

I, not more than sixteen or seventeen and with life, which showed in her step and her

passed the steps above which were walking audful sister and the very smart and pleasg man, he was informed in a whisper, r future. They're going to be married.

He's he's a lovely man." He found he was surprised at his own tone. IgEsd they are going to be married, and he is a..." pBandment she's very young," he put in quickly. SS-HE'S not, she's twenty. Of course, as I said, he's tte a bit older. Forty I think, which is old really, H'e's nice. I'm nearly eighteen, and I wouldn't nd having him." She laughed gaily. lie was shaking his head as if at a naughty child Ifae said,

"Well, I wouldn't have believed it. aity-four, I would have said." asting him a sidelong, laughing glance, she said, iw this is the rose garden. But you being a doctor, lever, you will already have guessed that."

And I aughed again, a gay, girlish laugh, then added, bar Not this is the topiary. I'm not fond of trees being tccand hacked about. Are you?"' bar fe thought for a moment, then said, "No, since you bar I'm not. I think they're grotesque. They were ier meant to grow like that." bar *ou're right. You're right." he skipped on ahead now, saying, 'And this, sir, e pine wood. You'll notice on each side of you are pine trees."

He smiled broadly at her. She was an imp, this one, t a loving, kindly imp, if he knew anything about

character Different from the rest. They were all different.

W thought of the beautiful girl again who was going to De arried, and to a man twice her age. He couldn't remember seeing anyone really like her before.

They merged from the wood into a green area that ran dow to he river. But he was brought to a stop by the sight of a very high wall. He looked to the right and couldn't see where it began for it was lost in trees. ut e could see that it ended on the river bank. She was by his side now and he looked at her and said,

"That's a very high wall."

"Yes; itused to e the kitchen garden. But it wasn't as high as that then, it's had another foot or so put on it."

"Why?"'

"Oh! Oh, Doctor, it's... a...

long... long... story."

"Well, 11 long stories; I'd like to hear it."

"Would you?"'

She no threw her arm around a young sapling and he thoug mat e was going to twirl herself about it; but sh snt her head against it and said, "I call it the

"Wailmg Wall", rather like the one the Jews have in Jerusalm, or wherever it is."

He smi d said, "Yes, wherever it is."

"Well, I never was any good at geography.

Anyway, that was the wall to our kitchen garden and, so I'm given to understand, to the best piece of land in the whole sixty acres or so."

"Really! acres?"'

"Yes, bt not since that was cut off. Well, it all goes bac to Grandpapa. He was in the Army, you know, a Vly soldierly man. But he was lovely." Also-Ilih she was still smiling there was a touch of sadtSS m her voice as she added, *0h yes, he was an bar bar er lovely man. And Grandmama was lovely, too.

Ewas always shouting, bawling. And a would crook her finger at him like that' demonstrated, wagging her first finger- greater-than uld come like a Iamb, and she would say, s howling again," and he would answer, hly, "No, I'm not. No, I'm not." And she n say with a smile, "Well, it must be just dng."

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