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True Confessions Chapter One Face of God Photographed in Clouds
There were two universal truths in Gospel, Idaho. First, God had done His best work when He'd created the Sawtooth Wilderness Area. And except for the unfortunate incident of '95, Gospel had always been heaven on earth.
Second...a truth just as adamantly believed as the first...every sin known to heaven and earth was California's fault. California got the blame for everything, from the hole in the ozone to the marijuana plant found growing in the Widow Fairfield's tomato garden. After all, her teenage grandson had visited relatives in L.A. just last fall.
There was a third truth...although it was viewed more as an absolute fact...come every summer, fools from the flatlands were bound to get lost amid the granite peaks of the Sawtooth Mountains.
This summer, the number of lost hikers rescued was already up to three. If the count stayed at three, plus one more fracture and two more cases of altitude sickness, then Stanley Caldwell would win the Missing Flatlander Betting Pool. But everyone knew Stanley was an optimistic fool. No one, not even his wife who'd put her money on eight missing, seven fractures, and had thrown in a few cases of poison oak for excitement...expected Stanley to win the kitty.
Almost everyone in town played the pool, each trying to outdo the other and win the sizable pot. The betting pool gave the people of Gospel something to think about besides cattle, sheep, and logging. It gave them something to talk about besides tree-hugging environmentalists, and something to speculate over besides the possible paternity of Rita McCall's brand-new baby boy. After all, though Rita and Roy had been divorced going on three years now, that alone didn't put him out of the running. But mostly, the pool was a harmless way for the locals to pass the hot summer months while they pulled in tourist money and waited for the relative calm of winter.
Around the beer case at the M & S Market, conversation centered around fly-fishing versus live-bait fishing, bow hunting versus "real" hunting, and, of course, the twelve-point buck the owner of the market, Stanley, had shot back in '79. The huge varnished antlers hung behind the battered cash register, where they'd been on display for more than twenty years.
Over at the Sandman on Lakeview Street, Ada Dover still talked about the time Clint Eastwood had stayed in her motel. He'd been real nice and he'd actually spoken to her, too.
"You have a nice place," he'd said, sounding just like Dirtv Harry; then he'd asked for the location of the ice machine and for some extra towels. She'd about died right behind the check-in counter. There was some speculation on whether or not his daughter with Frances Fisher had been conceived in room nine.
The citizens of Gospel lived and breathed the latest gossip. At the Curl Up and Dye Hair Studio, the favorite topic of conversation was always the sheriff of Pearl County, Dylan Taber, usually because the owner herself, Dixie Howe, dropped his name while chatting over a shampoo and set. She'd cast her line in his direction and planned to reel him in like a prize trout.
Of course, Paris Fernwood was angling her bait in Dylan's direction, too, but Dixie wasn't worried. Paris worked for her daddy at the Cozy Corner Cafe, and Dixie didn't consider a woman who served coffee and eggs serious competition for a businesswoman like herself.
There were other women vying for Dylan's attention as well. There was a divorced mother of three over in the next county, and probably others Dixie didn't know about. But she wasn't worried about them, either. Dylan had lived for a time in L.A., and he'd naturally appreciate someone with flash and cosmopolitan polish. In Gospel, there wasn't anyone with more flash than Dixie Howe.
With a Virginia Slims cigarette clamped between two fingers, the light catching on her bloodred nails, Dixie settled back in one of the two black vinyl salon chairs and waited for her two o'clock cut and color.
A thin stream of smoke curled from her lips as she thought of her favorite subject. It wasn't just that DyIan was about the only eligible man over the age oftwenty-five and under fifty within seventy miles. No, he had a way of looking at a woman. A way of tilting his head back a fraction and gazing through those deep green eyes of his that made her tingle in all the right places. And when his lips slid into a slow, easy smile, all those tingling places just pooled and melted.
Dylan had never set foot inside the Curl Up and Dye, choosing instead to drive all the way to Sun Valley to get his hair cut. Dixie didn't take it personally. Some men were just peculiar about walking into a classy studio like hers for a custom design. But she'd love to run her fingers through his thick hair. Love to run her hands and mouth over all of him. Once she got the sheriff into bed, she was sure he wouldn't want to leave. She'd been told she was the best lay this side of the Continental Divide. She believed it, and it was time she made a believer out of him. It was time Dylan used his big, hard body for something other than breaking up fights at the Buckhorn Bar.
There was only one potential little storm cloud in Dixie's plans for the future, and that was Dylan's seven-year-old son. The kid didn't like Dixie. Kids usually didn't. Maybe because she generally thought they were a pain in the ass. But she'd really tried with Adam...True Confessions. Copyright © by Rachel Gibson. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.