A panther stalking her prey, Sunnie Begay knew when to raise her rifle...and fire. But instead of shooting her enemy, she stared into the face of a stranger.
A hunter on a mission
Cisco Santiago had come to the desert seeking answers about his father's death. Now he'd almost been killed by a woman on a deadly mission of her own.
A passion too powerful to resist
Navajo-born Sunnie wasn't who she seemed. Neither was the bounty hunter who awoke dangerous desire. Together, could Cisco and Sunnie right the wrongs of the past?
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Shadow Whispers by Linda Conrad
Like a panther, she stalked her prey through the shivery, silent night. The young Navajo woman going by the name Sunnie Begay had made herself too tough to feel the cold. Other forces made her too tough to care.
Alone but bolstered by the knowledge and expertise she had recently acquired, Sunnie crept through sagebrush and granite boulders. Too dark on this moonless night to see much, she let her memory, honed senses and imagination guide the way.
As she edged ever so surely to her date with destiny, instinct told her that at last the end was near.
Tonight she would catch the Navajo Wolf unawares. She would take her shot, ending the misery the People had for years endured at the hands of that abomination of mankind. The monster who had wreaked his last bit of suffering on Navajoland would go the way he had lived--through violence.
Hefting the rifle case that had become her only companion over the last six months, Sunnie took her spot among the rocks. On this blustery winter's evening, the last of the cottonwood leaves rattled in the frosty midnight hours.
She carefully removed her dismantled rifle from the case and admired its shiny barrel by the light of the stars. Using her teeth, she pulled off her sheepskin gloves and caught the faint scent of gun oil. Listening to the intense quiet of the desert and the cliffs surrounding her position, Sunnie took each measured step with noiseless deliberation.
As her fingers trailed over the polished mahogany stock, she considered how far she had come. An unlikely assassin, she was nevertheless a dedicated and proficient one. Over the last six months she'd taken what used to be a happy childhood hobby of target practice and turned it into a deadly vocation.
She'd made herself over from a young rifle target shooter into a crack shot. A sniper who, with the right equipment, could put a bullet through the eye of a needle as it traveled at seventy miles per hour.
But a needle was not her intended target. Not tonight. Not ever.
The only target she ever intended to see down the barrel of her nightscope was the leader of the Skinwalkers: the Navajo Wolf. The man who had taken many lives and destroyed countless others. Seeing to his destruction was now her sole mission.
Her previous life was long gone. Friends, family and old occupations had been ripped away. Her future looked every bit as bleak as her current life.
But for tonight she had found a valid reason to take each breath. For tonight--for just a little while longer. Until it was done.
Until the Navajo Wolf was no more.
Cisco Santiago would've killed for a shot of tequila right about now. The day had been long and was getting longer. In fact, the moonless night looked about ready to give way to dawn. So, actually, he supposed it was already tomorrow.
Still, he was sure the man whose SUV he followed would eventually lead him to the next piece in the puzzle. And that was worth a missed night's sleep and a lost meal or two.
The road under his vehicle's wheels had turned to gravel about a mile back. And the landscaping--what little he could see of it by the stars--had taken on an eerie feeling of otherworldliness. His senses turned edgy. But though he remained alert, he wasn't worried.
The young Navajo man had claimed to have a relative in the desert who might be a reliable informant. But after watching the kid down several drinks in that bar in Farmington, New Mexico, Cisco had listened when his gut told him to drive his own car.
His Charger, sleek on the outside but all V-8 hemi power on the inside, usually got him in and out of most tight spots. But perhaps tonight, what with the blackness of the night and the narrow gravel road, traveling in the other guy's four-wheel-drive would've been the smarter move.
There was nothing in life Cisco hadn't tried and little he didn't dare, including walking into some kind of setup. High risks were merely the potential for high reward. It was what had brought him the most success in his life. What had taken a poor barrio kid and turned him into a successful entrepreneur. Into a man who wielded enormous authority and respect, even in a chosen profession that normally invited neither.
But Cisco was good at what he did and he liked being a high-powered skip tracer. "Bounty-hunter" was how he would be viewed in some less knowledgeable people's minds. The bounty he usually hunted, though, was far more refined and intelligent and much harder to catch than the average person knew.
In his head he listed the physical description of the Navajo he'd been following.A six-foot, strapping twentysomething, the kid wasn't anything special in his jeans and all-weather jacket. His short, dark brown hair matched the deep-set brown-black eyes. In fact, the eyes were the only standout in the whole description, and that was because of the vacant, almost dead look in them. Cisco had seen some drugged-out gazes in his time, but the look in this kid's eyes was something he had never beheld