COLORADO BLAZE (PAGE COUNT: 234)
Mike, a vivacious sixteen year old, follows her grandmother to Luke’s ranch near Denver. Enigma surrounding the old man’s disappearance suggest foul play. Mike resolves to investigate the mystery.
What happened to Luke? Why are the ranch hands elusive? How many play a devious part? Who stands to gain by Luke’s death?
Is Tom, the foreman, involved? Because of Mike’s red hair, he dubs her Blaze. Her delightful spontaneity keeps the family, as well as the man she loves, in a flux. She solves one dilemma only to leap headlong into another. She discovers a secret passageway, but also finds trouble.
The stalker strikes! Blaze uncovers clues to the murder, but her curiosity and snooping invariably lures her into precarious situations. There are several suspects, but the evidence points to Tom. She’s attracted to him, and when he’s arrested for the murder, she vows to find the killer. She snoops, gets lost, and discovers that the killer is on her trail!
What will she have to do to escape? Can she uncover the evidence that solves the case before the murderer discovers. . . .
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BLAZE SERIES Book II
Excerpt from Chapter One
“Who’s trying to kill Luke Douglas?” Hannah Johnson tucked a gray curl behind her ear and stared at the old Man’s recent letter. “And why?
She thrust the yellow ruffled curtains aside to let the June sun stream into her cheery kitchen. The brightness didn’t shed any light on her dilemma. Frowning, she chewed her lower lip. Either that old man’s crazy‑‑or someone really is out to get him.
She’d discovered that he was a great uncle of Daniel Douglas. Was Luke in danger or was he trying to trick her into telling him where Danny was, so he could contest the Colts adopting the boy?
The kitchen door banged. She jumped, and her glasses slid down her nose. “Oh shaw.”
“Hi, Gran.” The sixteen‑year‑old’s sea-green eyes brimmed with admiration as she surveyed the older woman.
Hannah shoved her glasses into place. “Mike, if you don’t stop sneaking up on me, I’ll‑‑”
“I said hello, but you were . . . preoccupied.” Mike tossed her long red hair. A beam of sunlight created gold highlights and seemed to turn the silky strands to flames. She usually raced around in boy’s jeans that Hannah detested. No other girl she knew wore pants! This afternoon Mike was wearing an aqua dress. The bodice molded to her curves. The hem of her skirt touched her slippers, but clung to her hips and swung seductively as she strolled around the kitchen. She was almost seventeen, and today, she looked like the young lady Hannah encouraged her to bee. The girl had the potential, but not the desire.
The savory aroma of a pot roast wafted across the room. The popping lid of the Dutch oven drew Hannah to the wood cookstove. “Dinner smells great, Gran.”
“Can you stay?”
A shrug lifted Mike’s delicate shoulders. “I guess so.”
The older woman smiled as she studied her granddaughter’s pretty oval face. Red brows arched above sparkling eyes that were fringed with thick gold‑tipped red lashes. She had a rounded lower lip that could form a seductive pout, but the perfect bow on her upper lip drew attention to a mouth that turned up at the corners as though she were about to smile. When she did, deep dimples appeared in cheeks that were nearly always pink from enthusiasm.
Hannah’s son’s first five daughters were proper young ladies. However, he’d not only taught Mike, his sixth daughter, to ride, he’d permitted her to wear boys’ clothing and use an army-issue saddle instead of a sidesaddle like her sisters. The fact that she could outride any of her boy cousins seemed to please him. Hannah sighed.
Mike bent to stroke Muffin, the yellow and orange striped cat, then peered at the paper in Hannah’s hand. “What’s that?”
“A letter from Luke Douglas.”
“Is that the old man who’s been pestering you for information about Daniel Douglas?”
Hannah nodded. “I refused to tell him anything, but when he wrote to Sheriff Fisher in Roseburg, the man ratted.”
Mike’s eyes widened. “Does that mean Luke will try to take the boy from Matthew and Susanna?”
“I pray not. Danny’s almost fourteen, so maybe he’ll have somethin’ to say about who he lives with.”
“I’ve never met him, but I know he wants to live with the Colts.” Mike plucked an apple from the dish on the table. It snapped as she bit into it. “Send a telegraph to warn the Colts.”
Hannah’s frown deepened. “I’m going to write to them.”
“That will take too long!” Strolling around the large cheery kitchen, Mike munched her fruit. “Let’s go to Luke’s ranch, Gran, and set that old man straight.”
Hannah sighed, wishing the girl wasn’t so impetuous. “The ranch is in Colorado!”
Mike waved a hand. “I know folks who have traveled clear across the country. We’ll take a train.”
“There might not be proper connections.”
“Then we’ll finish the trip by stage.” She shrugged. “Or a horse if necessary.”
“Luke says his life’s been threatened.”
“That’s all the more reason to go!” Mike swallowed another bite of apple. “School’s out. We’ll visit the ranch and talk Luke out of trying to take the kid.”
“He might not be after Danny, Mike. He says someone’s tryin’ to kill him.”
“That sounds intriguing!”
“Well, maybe we can save the old coot’s life.” She dimpled. “Or solve the murder‑‑if we’re too late.”
Who’s stalking me? Luke Douglas peered into the darkness as his aging fingers grappled to unclasp the corral gate. Sending his chestnut gelding into the enclosure, he fastened the rusty hook. Worry creased his brow. Who had taken his revolvers from his saddle bags while he was in the attorney’s office? Had his frenzied night ride given his adversary the opportunity to kill him?
A full moon brightened the sky over his Colorado ranch, so he was thankful when a cloud curtained the glow. Bending his gray head, he stole through the dark to the barn, hoping the white bars in his plaid shirt weren’t too conspicuous. The chill evening had his arthritis on the rampage, and his steps were insecure on the rough ground. The heel of his boot clacked on a rock, and the sound reverberated through the stillness.
A breeze brought the scent of charred timbers from the remains of his largest barn and blew ash in his face, both reminders of the strength and determination of his enemy. A human form, barely distinguishable among the bushes, rose and moved in his direction. Gasping, Luke increased his pace.
Slipping into the barn, he tottered toward the back and struggled to reach the last stall. He heaved his leg over a board, caught his faded jeans on a nail, and grimaced as the metal scraped his flesh. Jerking free rent the fabric, and the sound echoed through the building.
The door he’d used creaked open‑‑then closed. He gasped. It’s the killer!