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The last thing Cadie needs at this point is a man. But the hardbitten ex-cop turned crime-writer with his ...
The last thing Cadie needs at this point is a man. But the hardbitten ex-cop turned crime-writer with his unshakable integrity and deeply buried vulnerability proves to be irresistible. Marc tries to keep his distance but he finds Cadie's zest for life and feisty nature too attractive.
Ironically, just before he died, POP, who had prospected all over North America, found gold on his own land. Cadie won't sell the property. When the attempts to frighten her into selling escalate to attempts on her life, Marc realizes how much she means to him. Together they discover who is trying to kill her and admit their love.
Marc stared glumly out the large window at the white caps building up on the windswept waters of Nighthawk Lake.
So Pop's granddaughter was actually on her way, was she? That should be no surprise. She'd been on her way up here to Nighthawk three months ago when she'd had the accident that almost killed her.
Pop had told many fond stories about Cadie's stubbornness. Well, Marcus Banachek could be just as obstinate. She would find him right here until the end of the year. He'd told her lawyer so. He had also reiterated that Arcadie Haywood was damn well going to honor his lease, just as Pop would have. Besides, with the latest Ban Marcus thriller to finish for Wyeth and Burns before the end of September, he'd need privacy to write…and quiet. He'd make sure of that. He didn't intend even to speak.
Pop's little Cadie was not his responsibility. Besides, she didn't want him to look out for her or entertain her. She wanted him to vacate the guest cabin!
He muttered the crudest epithet he could think of. He was not going to go out of his way to pander to a grieving woman still recuperating from an accident. Particularly one as attractive as Cadie Haywood. It was no longer his duty to serve and protect. It had taken him a long time to accept how futile his best efforts in that direction had been. But he had learned.
Anyway, he'd never been a nursemaid. If Arcadie Haywood was well enough to get here, she was well enough to look after herself. He'd be polite and perhaps even help her get settled in. He owed Pop that much. Besides, she might know the results of the drilling. But nothing was going to jeopardize his freedom to doexactly what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it. He'd earned that freedom.
He saved and closed the file and shut down the computer. The text on the monitor vanished. There was no point in trying to write any more this afternoon. Cadie's lawyer, with a few businesslike words of warning, had ruined his concentration.
"Come on, Lurch," he called to the huge black dog who was lying in the doorway.
In spite of his size, Lurch was still a pup, his legs still growing so quickly that he didn't seem to have them quite coordinated. He staggered eagerly to his feet and bounced in place like an angular basketball.
"Time for a long walk. We'd better take advantage of our peaceful male refuge while we have it."
Sunlight was breaking through the clouds and trickling through the white pine branches far overhead. Patches of pale yellow light danced in the sparse undergrowth. Tiny cones and long, waxy needles crunched under his boots. Marc breathed the warm, pine-scented air. This was a far cry from the sound of sirens and the smell of exhaust fumes.
Glad of the gangly black dog's company, he strode down the long driveway, then cut off along the worn path by the old log cabin and core shack. Lurch snuffled the ground loudly and crashed through the underbrush. Marc had to laugh at his energetic cavorting. He couldn't maintain his sour mood in the face of that much bouncing joy.
"And stop bumping into me, you ugly mutt," he shouted in mock fury as Lurch apparently misjudged the distance of one of his leaps and almost knocked him over.
He had never intended to get a dog; but Lurch had been hard to ignore, hanging around the kitchen door at meal time. Of course, once Marc had fed him, the homely mutt followed him everywhere. Before he knew it, he was the sole support of an already-ninety-pound dog who worshipped him and was growing before his eyes.
Lurch's possible ancestry had been a source of great amusement to Pop. Marc could still hear his deep belly laugh. "One of the summer people probably ditched him when the cute little puppy from the Humane Society began to show signs that his Labrador retriever mommy had got too chummy with a woolly mammoth," he would say. "Look at those feet! You're going to have to build a barn to stable him."
Marc really missed the old man. They had known each other for such a short time. Only two years ago, Marc had answered his ad in the local paper. He never regretted it. The tall, stringy, old prospector with the keen hazel eyes and the strong handshake had accepted him for what he was and given him space to make his uneasy peace with what Marc knew was a cold, bleak world.
Marc hadn't pulled his weight in their relationship. Oh, he had done more than the minimum twenty hours a week of labor that Pop had made part of the rental agreement. He had worked alongside the older man, staking the claims, clearing the rough road for the all-terrain vehicles that would carry the disassembled diamond drill rig to the drill sites. Marc had actually done most of the heavy work with the drill. He hadn't, however, been able to bring himself to share Pop's dreams of finding gold. He didn't want any part of the inevitable disillusionment when those dreams crashed.
Instead, he had lost himself in the writing that saved his sanity. The characters he created were able to love, hate, seek revenge, even weep–experience all those emotions that lay rigid in the deep-freeze of his heart. More importantly, in his action-packed stories he could see that the good guys always won.
Over his objections, Pop and his son Peter insisted they give Marc a one-eighth interest in the claims in return for taking out the license that allowed them to stake additional acres. Nevertheless, he had stubbornly avoided the topic of the progress of the exploration. He should have showed a little interest. The old prospector had spent long hours in the drafty core shack wetting down the long cylinders of rock and poring over them with his magnifying glass.
While Pop was falling to his death, Marc had been less than a hundred yards away, writing happily about treachery and grisly murder. He hadn't heard a thing.
Chuck, the local Ontario Provincial Police officer, had seen no reason to suspect foul play. Marc had been the only person around that night and the only monetary tie he had with Pop was his interest in the probably worthless claims. He was even going to have to find another place to live by the end of the year. At the same time, neither of them was happy with classifying his death as accidental. However, they had been forced to accept the opinion of Pop's doctor, who felt a small stroke had caused the apparently healthy old prospector to fall to his death. No one would ever know why he'd been on the basement stairs when it happened.
Copyright © 2006 Dee Lloyd.