Carla Neggers' sizzling novels are loved for their deliciously funny dialogue, electrifying suspense, and heart-stopping romance. Here, the New York Times bestselling author presents a fast-paced, scintillating tale of love, art, and danger....
JUST BEFORE SUNRISE
Annie Payne realizes her dream when she moves to San Francisco and opens an art gallery. But when she accepts a secret commission to bid for a painting going on the auction block, she finds herself thrown into a haunting swirl of events linked to a five-year-old unsolved murder. Who is this secret client?
Marina owner Garvin MacCrae was determined to have the portrait of his late wife, and knows of only one person who would want it enough to outbid him. Could the intriguing art dealer who represented the auction winner hold the key to the mystery of his wife's death? Working together to untangle a murderer's clues, Garvin and Annie strike so many sparks off each other that they could start another San Francisco fire -- a four-alarmer fueled by an explosive mix of suspicion, attraction, and love.
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December 31, 1996
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Excerpt from Just Before Sunrise by Carla Neggers
Circumstances compelled Annie to take Otto with her to her first big San Francisco auction almost three months after rolling into town. She would have left him at her gallery, up and running for six weeks now, but the woman she'd hired to cover for her today was afraid of any and all rottweilers. She would have left him at her apartment, but her landlord, who didn't have "rottweiler" in mind when he'd agreed to let Annie have a dog, was coming over to fix what passed for heat in San Francisco, and he was still afraid of Otto.
Back in Maine, no one was afraid of Otto. The whole town knew he was a big galoot.
Annie parked in the shade on the wide, picturesque Pacific Heights street and left the windows of her station wagon cracked and Otto sprawled in back. She'd let down the backseat not for his sake but because of the auction. She had one item to buy, and she meant to buy it.
"I'll be back as soon as I can," she told Otto, as if he understood.
It was a dreary day even by San Francisco dreary-day standards. Low clouds, intermittent drizzle, lapping fog, temperature in the upper fifties. Since arriving in the Bay Area, Annie had developed an impressive collection of cheap umbrellas and always kept several in her car and one tucked in the tapestry tote she carried everywhere. She estimated she'd lost at least a half dozen since Thanksgiving. It wasn't that it rained all that much in San Francisco, she'd decided, but that it didn't snow. So it seemed that it rained more than in Maine. She had tried to explain this deduction to Zoe Summer, who ran the aromatherapy shop next to Annie's Gallery, but Zoe, a native of Seattle, said Annie didn't know rain.
She felt a rare tug of trepidation as she approached the imposing, ornate Linwood house, an elaborate Victorian mansion in lemon yellow. It was one of the most famous in San Francisco. Lush green grass carpeted a regal front yard, and beautifully maintained shrubs softened tall, elegantly draped windows that were so spotless they sparkled even in the gloom. The Linwoods were up there with the Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, and Hearsts, not the usual sort Annie was used to hanging out with on her Maine peninsula.
A uniformed guard was posted at the end of the brick walk that led to the front entrance. Annie handed him her ticket to the private auction. She had attended a few of Ernie's Saturday night auctions on the Hathaway farm, inland up toward the lakes. She had once almost talked Gran into letting her buy a lamb.
A different time, a different life.