The hostesses pause to admire the impressive, restored 1920’s hotel in historic, Flagstaff, Arizona. Rippled glass sparkles in the many windows and a dozen, two story, white pillars frame the aged brick building and support the charming second floor balcony. A gentle breeze ruffles the hem of AJ’s party dress as she snaps pictures of the surrounding vistas carpeted in tall pines.
Melissa bumps Lyn’s shoulder. “Cheer up, hon. It’s time for Brenda’s roast, but maybe a pack of coyotes will attack us on our way home.”
Mary snickers. “Or a flock of roadrunners.”
Lilly arches a brow at AJ. “How do you know that? I thought you were a Midwestern girl?”
AJ holds up her phone and grins. A picture of the elusive bird fills the screen.
Lilly shakes her head and grabs AJ’s arm to tug her toward the entrance of the hotel. “I think you need an intervention. You spend way too much time with that phone.”
AJ scowls as the other hostess scramble to follow. Six pair of sassy cowboy boots thud on the brick sidewalk as the hotel doors swing open. Period lighting compliments the large lobby decorated in beautiful antiques. Lyn coos with delight as the girls step into the past.
Brenda rushes forward to greet them with warm hugs. “Oh, you’re here. Isn’t this place fabulous? Come on.” She spins to head toward an archway at the far end of the lobby. “The party is in the martini lounge.”
“Martinis?” Mac shoves her way to the front of the group.
Brenda laughs over her shoulder. “Chocolate martinis. Oliver has a special batch whipped up just for you girls. There’s also red wine, and the food! I gained five pounds just looking at the cake and there’s grilled flatbread with brie, asparagus spears, and my favorite, grilled beef and pepper skewers.”
Mary hurries her steps and Mac and AJ skitter after her.
Lyn bolts ahead of them all. “After we toast Brenda’s new release, The Art of Love and Murder. It would be a shame to let those chocolate martinis get warm.”
Lacy Dahl never questioned her past until the deaths of her adoptive parents and her husband. A husband who wasn't what he seemed. Her research uncovers secrets about the mother she never knew; secrets that dispute the identity of her father and threaten her life.
Sheriff Chance Meadowlark is still haunted by the murder of his wife and the revenge he unleashed in the name of justice. When he meets Lacy he is determined not to become involved, but their pasts may make that impossible. As they move closer to the truth, saving Lacy may be his only salvation.
Lacy begins to think the present is more important than her past...until Chance's connection to her mother and a murder spin her deeper into danger and further from love. Will the truth destroy Lacy and Chance or will it be the answer that frees them?
Momentarily struck dumb by his eye color, she stared back. Why hadn’t she noticed until now? Although not as light as hers or her father’s, the professor’s eyes were a startling green shade.
His hand nudged her arm. “Lacy?”
She jumped. “Oh, yes.” She slipped the tissue from the half-carved wolf. Another glance at his eyes and goose bumps riddled her arms.
He lifted the wood close to his face, using both hands as if handling a delicate hummingbird. His thumb traced the neck of the creature to the juncture of where it emerged from the wood. When he brought the piece to his nose, closing his eyes and breathing deeply, Lacy wanted to turn away from the oddly erotic gesture.
He swallowed, opened his eyes and set the wolf back on the tissue. His attention shifted to the photograph of the chest. He touched the photo, a smile on his lips. “Where is the chest?”
The chest. Like he knew it, had seen it before. “I’m having it sent. You’ve seen it before?”
He didn’t move, stared out the window as if deep in thought. “I’d like to show you something, Lacy.”
“All right.” She waited, watching his profile.
He turned and stared into her face a moment. “You’re so very lovely. A creation full of life and passion, surpassing any art form.”
His hypnotic voice floated on the classical strains drifting from the living room. She couldn’t speak. Didn’t know what to say. She’d been lifted upon a pedestal of admiration. With any other man, she might consider his words a means to a sexual end. The professor’s intentions, however, were crystal. He admired her like a work of art.
Brenda spends most of her time writing stories of discovery and love. The rest of her time is spent tending vegetables on the small family farm she shares with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. Together, they’ve embraced an age-old lifestyle that has been mostly lost in the United States - multiple generations living under one roof, who share the workload, follow their individual dreams and reap the benefits of combined talents.
Contest ends on Sunday and everyone who comments is eligible.(We reserve the right to waive the prize in any week when there are not enough contestants for a draw to be deemed fair and unbiased)