Read this excerpt, then visit my website, http://www.marycoley.com and comment to enter a drawing for a free copy of the book when it’s available later this month!
Claire Northcutt’s RAV-4 bumped down the sloping gravel road toward the Cimarron Valley Ranch complex. She unrolled her window and scanned the pastures, looking for signs of J.B. Floren.
Birds twittered in the damp early morning breeze, lifted from the stalks of grass and dropped to perches only yards away. Another day she might have stopped and enjoyed the 60-degree view of the spring-green fields of central Oklahoma, but not today. The rancher was twenty minutes late.
She neared the central plaza and the grouping of building which made up the headquarters complex. Something at the base of the flagpole caught her eye. She slammed on the brakes, turned off the motor and hopped out.
A roaring noise in Claire’s head drowned out the fluttering, clucking chickens in the coop fifty yards away.
Surely that wasn’t …
The man’s arms were tied to the flagpole. His splayed legs stretched toward her. Beneath him, blood pooled on the rocks, soaking into the rich river bottom soil.
Her vision blurred and her legs folded.
“J.B.?” His name escaped her lips, but she had no hope for a response.
So much blood.
TEN MINUTES EARLIER Claire Northcutt had parked her SUV and glared up the gravel drive into the morning sun. She tapped her short fingernails on the steering wheel.
J.B. Floren, the owner of the Cimarron Valley Rescue Ranch, was a typical seventy-something rancher with smile lines etched around his wide mouth and a perpetually sunburned face. Three weeks ago, when Claire had come out to the ranch for a first interview, his look had taken in her wavy shoulder-length hair. Then he’d checked out the way her jeans fit. She’d stifled the mix of pleasure and anger that flashed in her mind. The muscular man with Paul Newman blue eyes had smiled and winked as if that was all it took for a woman to fall for him.
She wasn’t interested.
(Check back every day this week for more of Chapter One, Blood on the Cimarron! And don’t forget to visit my website and fill out the contact form to be entered into the drawing for a free book!)