Good morning. I made a point of steering clear of making too many comments, endorsing too many posts, and even stating my opinions on yesterday’s US election. Today, some of my American friends are cheering while others sit back in shock and fear. Come 2017, the US will see Donald Trump take office as its 45th President. What will this mean for me and my country? I don’t know , but as it says in this morning’s National Post: “Canadians are obliged to have what Abraham Lincoln called ‘the patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people.’ There simply is no alternative.”
Okay. Election comment over. As I prepare to release my newest book, Desert Deception, I thought a tease from it would be appropriate.
Cole straightened the magazines and newspapers, trying to look busy while Casey browsed the bookshelves, unable to do anything but think about the woman a mere twenty feet away. Only two years older than she was, he remembered her—at least he recalled the girl she’d been—and the woman standing ten feet away from him had certainly changed.
She still had the peaches and cream complexion associated with her Irish ancestors, skin that could burn in the shade as he recalled, but her freckles weren’t as pronounced as they’d been. She’d dropped at least fifty pounds, and that carrot top she’d worn in tight braids against her head was now a fiery crown of flames. Her soda bottle bottom glasses were gone, no doubt replaced by laser eye surgery or contacts, but her expressive eyes, sometimes blue, sometimes green, but always with a touch of gold in them, were as familiar as ever. That was how he’d recognized her. Once he’d seen those eyes, he’d never been able to forget them.
How long had it been? She’d been sixteen, a senior at Fortune High, when he’d gone off to the University of Texas at El Paso, and while he’d come back that first summer, he’d been too busy helping Dad around the store to do much more than nod and say hello once in a while. He hadn’t grown into his body yet, and while the acne had improved, he’d still been too shy to ask any girl out. He’d fantasized doing so, and in his dreams she’d always said yes, but the reality was, he might as well have had elective mutism when it came to talking to her.
Those afternoons when he worked in the back unpacking boxes of reproductions and other souvenirs, he hid behind the bookshelves, closed his eyes, let her voice wrap around him, and listened to her sharing her dreams.
Casey, the shorter name suited her, exuded confidence and poise, and wasn’t afraid to take risks, as her motorcycle proved. It took a lot of self-assurance to stand in a courtroom and question witnesses let alone address the jury. Looking at her now, he tried to picture her in a staid business suit and failed. No, this new Casey would wear “look at me clothes” and do it with pizazz. She wouldn’t hide from the world ever again.
Despite his best effort, he was having a hard time controlling his body’s response to her, something that rarely happened to him. Taking a deep breath, he tore his eyes away from her leather-clad bottom, and returned to sorting the new shipment of books, trying to immerse himself in the jacket blurbs, but failing. He jumped when he heard her shout.
Dropping the book he was holding, he pushed his way through the boxes of candles, books, and other items crowding the aisle to see what had upset her.
“What’s wrong?” He hurried to her side, worried that she’d somehow hurt herself. While it was true, the worse injury you could get from a book was a papercut, this close to the desert, unwanted insects and reptiles sometimes managed to sneak in. Last week, he’d returned a tarantula to the great outdoors. The big, hairy spiders might be harmless, but they scared the daylights out of the tourists.
“Nothing’s wrong, but you have all of CJ Coleson’s books shoved back here where no one can see them. They should be out front.”
The look of disgust on her face made him laugh.
“I take it you’re a fan.”
“Well, duh! Of course I’m a fan, isn’t everyone? He’s a great author even though he’s the Howard Hughes of writers—a total recluse. How come you have his latest book? It isn’t due out in paperback for another two weeks.”
Cole ran his fingers through his hair, a nervous gesture he made when he was caught off guard. “I know the author.” The white lie slid off his tongue before he could stop it.
“Get out of here! You know CJ Coleson?” she asked, excitement lighting up her face. “How?”
“We went to school together.” Another half-truth.
He nodded, hoping she would change the topic soon.
“Well, he’s Arizona born and bred, I’m sure of it. He’s either from around here, or he’s spent time here. Reading those books is like coming home—better even. Is that his real name?”
Turning away from her, he tried to think of an answer that would help him out of the quicksand in which he’d inadvertently stepped. The truth always came out, and usually at the worst possible moment. Sharing his secret with a virtual stranger wasn’t an option, but he was pretty sure she wasn’t going to let it go.
Want to read more? Check out my webpage for release date and details!
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