When I don't have a guest on Muse Monday, I'll share excerpts with photos that inspired scenes from my books. The scenes are most likely never before shared excerpts.
I fell in love with a ghost town hanging on the side of the mountain when I was a kid. Over the decades, Jerome went from mining town to ghost town to hippie haven to the artsy tourist town it is today. Changed very little over the years, the residents like to keep it alive in the spirit of the early 1900s. Spirits do reside there alongside wine tasting and crafts. Jerome, renamed Joshua for my books, is the perfect setting for my MacKenzie Chronicle.
Ripped from the pages... of Secrets of The Ravine
He sauntered closer. His eyes narrowed studying her. “Have we met?”
Her mouth went dry. “I’m not sure.”
“Do you ever get to Copperdale?”
“S-sure. For shopping now and then.” Joshua, Arizona focused on art, wine, food, and gifts. Any practical shopping had to be done in Copperdale, less than an hour down the hill.
“Hey, Zac.” His friend in the metal sculpture display area called out. “You have to see this.”
“Maybe we’ve run into each other there,” Zac said. “I moved to Copperdale from Phoenix recently.”
He stared a moment longer and then handed her the purchase, his fingers trailing along the side of her palm as he transferred the box. “I’ll take this. Excuse me.”
She managed a nod as he strode to the back of the shop, and she stepped to the checkout counter next to the shelf of music boxes. The last strains of the song ended. Her vision clouded with memories of another time and another’s touch.
“I think we’re ready.” The spiky-haired woman handed over her purchases.
Magpie took a deep breath and donned her shopkeeper persona. “Great.” The group of five gathered on the customer side of the counter. “So, you decided. This green jacket looked wonderful on you.”
The redhead and the other man—they appeared to be a couple—who’d been in the back of the store, placed a metal sculpture of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on the counter.
As she ran the card, Magpie asked, “First time here?” The man named Zac moved closer. A flutter trickled from her chest to her stomach.
“We’ve all been here, a few years ago. Except for Zac.” The other man in the group said.
“I didn’t realize what I’d been missing.” He spoke to no one in particular, but his smile landed on her.
Zac picked up the sack with the music box. “Are you the owner of this great store?”
“I am.” She returned his smile. “Magpie MacKenzie. And you are?”
“Zac Peartree. Is that your real name?”
Accustomed to his reaction, she gave her standard reply. “It’s a long story.”
“One I’m sure I’d enjoy hearing. Will you be working at your mercantile all weekend?”
She swallowed down the recurring flutter. “Mostly.”
“You all should have a drink at the Apparition Room tonight, the bar below the Copper Mountain Hotel down the block.” Phaedra finished stuffing paper around the sculpture for protection and then handed the box to the man with the redhead. “Our very own Magpie MacKenzie will be singing.”
Magpie scuffed a boot against her friend’s foot to quiet her.
“She’s on at eight.”
The blonde clapped her hands. “Great. Sounds fun.”
“I guess that means we’ll see you later, Magpie.” Zac followed his friends from the store but peered over his shoulder with an unreadable expression before he disappeared out the door and into the chilly wind.
Slightly lightheaded, Magpie braced herself on the counter. “Honestly, Phaedra, I could—”
“Now, Mags, you haven’t been this tongue-tied over a guy in years.” She retrieved her purse from behind the counter where she’d set it when she came in. “I need to get going, and you need to enjoy the quivers that guy is giving you. I’d guess he’s only thirty or close to it, but what the hell, he’s hot. Every man should fill his jeans like that, not to mention his shoulders.” She stopped by the door.
“You two looked at each other as if—”
“As if we know each other?”
“Know each other? I agree he bore a resemblance to Mark, but that’s all.”
“Really? Sacrebleu, Phaedra. When I stared into that face, I saw Mark…a soul…from twenty-eight years ago.” The soul of someone she’d loved.
Who might have been a murderer…or worse, murdered by my father.