With a murder trial looming, Miranda Rousseau had one chance to clear her sister's name. But tall, sexy James Marquez was quickly becoming much more than a private investigator. Miranda had hired him for the case, but every time she felt his dark eyes on her, she wanted him on her.
James was consumed with the passionate redhead, yet he had no place in her big-city life. He had a murder to solve and secrets to keep--secrets Miranda would never forgive. With so much at stake, could he let himself be seduced by a future he could never have?
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Miranda's Revenge by Ruth Wind
Alight snow started to fall as James Marquez made his way from his hotel to a coffee shop. It was May, and technically too late, but so high in the mountains, snow could fall at any moment and often did. He tucked his hands into the pockets of his old jean jacket and lifted his face to the sky. He'd grown up in New Mexico, where the sun seemed to shine relentlessly, endlessly, and he loved inclement weather.
This was very wet snow, fat raindrops that had crystallized at the very last second and lost their shape immediately upon landing. Big flakes caught momentarily in the cup of a red tulip growing in a pot by the door of a shop. The sight--white snow against the satin red petal, yellow stamen poking out--made him pause.
As if to emphasize the whimsy of the combination, sunlight suddenly broke through the dark but scattered clouds and painted a rainbow into life.
He paused, grinning. An old man stopped and looked at him. James lifted his chin toward the vivid display. "God's showing off."
The man, a little stooped and skinny, his skin weathered to freckles, glanced over his shoulder and nodded. "He shows off a lot around here." He paused, big hands hanging at his side, and admired the arching rainbow for a moment, then eyed James sharply. "You in town for the run?"
"I ran it every year myself till three years ago. My wife made me quit." He rubbed his nose, grown too long for his lean face, and scowled. "Don't know what difference it makes if I die of a heart attack in the shower or while I'm running."
"You can take the runner out of the race," James said with a grin, "but you can't take the runner out of the man. What was your best time?"
"Three forty-three back in 1967," he said. "I was forty-nine years old."
James whistled, long and low, and stuck his hand out. "I won't even get close, but let me see if some of that power'll rub off on me."
The old man smiled, shook his hand. "I'll be cheering you on."
The sun had come out, and James lifted a hand in farewell. The old man headed in his own direction.
Less than four hours. Good grief! Speaking of showing off. The Mariposa 50K Trail Run was one of the toughest in the country, up and down steep mountain passes and through forests and over the top of rocky ridges, on very uncertain footing at times. To have made such a time forty years ago was pretty amazing.
With sudden awakening, James realized who the old man had to be--Peter Bok. "Holy cow," he muttered aloud, and turned around, but the man was gone.
Peter Bok. It seemed a very sweet sort of blessing. James grinned and saluted the sky. "Thanks, man."
Miranda Rousseau felt vaguely exhausted as she walked down Black Diamond Boulevard in Mariposa, Colorado. A faint headache knocked at the back of her skull, something that seemed to happen whenever she had to think about her mother. Not an hour ago, Carol Rousseau, brilliant scientist and narcissistic social butterfly, had called to airily announce she would be arriving in Mariposa in three days so that Miranda's father could run some stupid race on Sunday.
Three days. Which would put them in town for more than a solid week before Juliet's wedding. Miranda didn't think she could stand to be in the same town with her parents for two days, much less a week--and yet, there was not a single freaking thing she could do about it. They were coming. Miranda's sister Juliet was getting married. They'd all have to just pretend to be one big happy family for a little while.
As if they could.
Miranda took a long breath of mountain air, trying to shake the phone call from her shoulders. It would be such a waste to think about her parents when she was in the middle of one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Resolutely, she focused on the scene around her.
A few minutes ago, when she'd set out, snow had been falling. Now, sun spilled from between the clouds, a gold that seemed to splash across the streets, dance on the clattering leaves of cottonwoods that lined the river, puddle in corners and curl up with pots of geraniums blooming in front of the shops decked out for summer tourists, who would arrive to hike and fish and visit the expensive spa tucked up in the forest.
Not many tourists had yet arrived, though she'd seen a handful of backpackers, mostly students who took refuge in the hostel. The ski slopes had been closed for three weeks, but the snow up higher was not yet completely gone. It would be another few weeks, the first of June, before the summer crowds would arrive.