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On the day that she is to host a society party for her artist friend, Gabriel "Gobby" Broome, Donna Foster, a publisher's assistant, is forced to deal with the early arrival of her boss John Caine's niece, Christabel. Christabel, who was reared by her poor maiden aunt, Clara Caine, in the small town of Santa Flora, has come to live with Donna in San Francisco and attend business college. When the fresh-faced Christabel meets Donna's fiancé, wealthy Curtis Carey, she immediately begins a fawning flirtation with him. In turn, aspiring novelist Nick Bradley, with whom Donna has been working, takes an instant liking to Christabel. Although Nick quickly observes that Christabel is "two people," a nice, unaffected girl, and an ambitious, cunning woman, he nonetheless continues to desire her. Later, Christabel, who has quit school, is having her portrait painted by Gobby when Curtis telephones, asking her to meet him at a jewelry store. Breaking a date with Nick, Christabel rushes to Curtis' side, but is disappointed to discover that he merely wants her advice on buying an engagement present for Donna. Christabel tries to convince Curtis to give the down-to-earth Donna a cheap cameo, but Curtis finally chooses an expensive sapphire-studded necklace. Donna is thrilled by the necklace until Christabel acts sweetly surprised that she would enjoy such a lavish gift. The now-fretful Donna later confides in Nick her concerns that Curtis may suspect her of marrying him for his money. Nick, whose first novel is about to be published by John, reassures Donna about her engagement, but at Gobby's art opening, Curtis confesses to Christabel his fears that Donna is becoming obsessed with his wealth. Acting the part of the concerned friend, Christabel suggests that Curtis draw up a pre-nuptial agreement with Donna. When Curtis mentions Christabel's idea to Donna, she is deeply hurt at his implied mistrust. Later that night, after Curtis insists on buying Christabel's portrait, Donna accuses Christabel of selfish subterfuge and reveals that her engagement has been broken. Seeing her opportunity, Christabel begs her now-suspicious uncle to allow her to stay in San Francisco long enough to attend a charity ball that Curtis is sponsoring. At the ball, Christabel acts guilt-ridden, then confesses her attraction to Curtis, who returns her affection. When Christabel tells Nick, who earlier had proposed to her, that she is marrying Curtis, he remarks that, despite his rival's wealth, she will never be satisfied with him. After a despondent Nick moves to Boston, Christabel and Curtis marry, and Christabel throws herself into her social duties, heading up charitable committees and planning balls. At the same time, Christabel connives to have Clara, who has been living with her since her marriage, shipped back to Santa Flora as she fears that the frail woman will discourage Curtis from spending money on her. Christabel's constant social activity causes Curtis to question her devotion to him, and, sensing that she is still interested in Nick, who has returned to San Francisco, he insists that they go together to a weekend resort. Although Christabel pretends to endorse Curtis' plan, she slips away from the resort as soon as possible, leaving a note claiming that Clara, who she knows is ill, needs her in Santa Flora. Instead, Christabel meets secretly with Nick to rekindle their romance. When Nick realizes that Christabel wants only to have an affair with him, however, he denounces her as incurably selfish. Rejected by Nick, Christabel returns home, only to be caught in her lies by Curtis and John, who reveals that Clara died earlier that afternoon. His eyes finally opened, Curtis demands that Christabel leave with only a few furs to her name. While speeding away from the house, Christabel crashes her car and ends up in a hospital. She soon becomes involved with her surgeon, whose wife sues her for alienation of affection. Later, after Curtis and Donna reunite, Christabel sees a lawyer about the lawsuit and, as indicated by the rising price tag on her portrait, causes yet another juicy scandal.