Nearly Departed in Deadwood (43 page)

BOOK: Nearly Departed in Deadwood
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      My gaze returned to Millie’s magnified irises. “Is your mother’s place in Deadwood?” I assumed they were local, but with all of the tourists around, it didn’t hurt to double-check.

      “No. We live up the hill in Lead.”

      Lead was Deadwood’s golden-veined twin. Its history books were filled with mining tales rather than gambling legends.

      I had no issues with selling a house in either city. Money was money, something I had very little of, but I wasn’t agreeing to anything until I took a look at the place. Again, past lessons learned; last contracted dwelling burned to the ground—blah, blah, blah. “When’s a good time for me to come take a look at your house?” 

      “As soon as you can.”

      Nice, a motivated seller. Now if I could only find a buyer half as eager. Hell, just find a buyer—period. “How about this afternoon at two?”

      “Good.” Millie pulled a piece of paper from one of the folds in her sweater and placed it next to my coffee cup. “Here’s our address. We’ll be waiting for you.”

      Before I had a chance to fish one of my cards from my purse, she left, her mother trailing after her. They passed my tardy breakfast date on their way to the door.

      “Sorry, I’m late.” Old Man Harvey slid onto the seat across from me, his grizzled beard in desperate need of a trim. “I was putting out a fire all night.”

      Another fire? I frowned. “At your ranch?”

      His grin was broad, his gold tooth gleaming. “Nah. In an old flame’s bed. I left her smoldering.”

      I choked on an involuntary chuckle and sipped my sweetened coffee to wash it down.

      I’d met Harvey and his 12-gauge shotgun up-close and personal about a month ago. After we’d straightened out that I was a Realtor interested in helping him sell his ranch and not a banker bent on taking it, we’d tossed back some hard liquor over a listing agreement. He’d confessed he was lonely and then proved it by insisting I include a once-a-week-dinner-on-me clause. Desperate, I’d agreed.

      “What’s for breakfast?” Harvey opened his menu. “After all of that bumping and grinding last night, I could eat a herd of elk.”

      Grimacing, I set my cup on the table. “Stop. You’re going to kill my appetite.”

      He snorted, then buried his nose in the plastic pages. “What did the Carharts want?”

      “You know them?” I shouldn’t have been surprised. Harvey had grown up in the Hills. The dirty bird liked to brag about all of the cousins he’d kissed.

      “Wanda was a few grades ahead of me in school,” he said.

      “They want me to sell their house.”

      Harvey squinted at me over the menu. “And?”

      “And what? I’m paying them a visit this afternoon.”

      He leaned across the table, his forehead puckered. “What are you thinking?”

      I blinked. Had I missed the memo? “What do you mean?”

      “Are you really going to take them on as clients?”

      “Sure.” If their place wasn’t a pit. “Why not?”

      He tossed his menu on the table. “Maybe because six months ago in that very house, Millie’s brother bashed her father’s head in with a rolling pin and then blew his own brains out.”

      I swallowed wrong, hot coffee searing the back of my tongue. “You’re kidding me.”

      “I wish I was.” He crossed his arms. “If you take this job, you might as well plug your nose and hold your breath, because your career is gonna go swirling down the damned crapper.”

       

 
     
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

      This is going to be a long one. You know the saying, “It takes a village”? Well, that is the theme for the story of this book’s creation. I have a village worth of people to acknowledge and thank. I’m hoping I remember to mention all of them, but being me, I’ll forget someone important and have to beg and plead for forgiveness later.

      First, thanks to my husband, for sticking with me; helping me to brainstorm; critiquing even the love scenes; keeping Beaker, Chicken Noodle, and me fed and clothed during the whirlwind of book production; and listening to me talk on and on and on about writing, marketing, and promoting. You deserve five-acres and a workshop. Let’s make it happen.

      Thanks also to my agent, Mary Louise Schwartz of the Belfrey Literary Agency. You have stuck by me over the years, determined to help me succeed. I appreciate all of the swearing you’ve done on my behalf with each and every rejection. Here is to popping open some champagne to celebrate the success with Corvallis Press!

      Thanks to Corvallis Press for taking a chance on this new author and giving me the wings to fly.

      Thanks to my brother, Charles Kunkle, for scaring the crap out of me repeatedly during childhood with tales of monsters just waiting to eat me. Your artwork graces my cover, website, and more, and I love telling the world how masterful you are with a pencil and paints.

      I’m indebted to Margo Taylor for helping to spread word about this book to the world, and to Dave Taylor for chauffeuring her all over God’s green earth to do it.

      Also, I couldn’t have done this without my parents and their unending support, both emotionally and financially. Only a parent will let you drone on about something without telling you to shut up. Love you all!

      Now, let’s get down to the mechanics. Thanks to all of my readers and critiquers: Wendy Delaney, Beth Harris, Marcia Britton, Mary Ida Kunkle, Amber Scott, Deborah Schneider, Paul Franklin (who also helps me with my research), Kathi Tidd, Jody Sherin, Renelle Wilson, Robin Weaver, Marguerite Phipps, Joby Gildersleeve, Nancy Goebel-Fehr Denise Garlington, Jim Thomsen, Shelly Zachrich, Justin Harvey, Louise Edwinson, Stephanie Kunkle, Thea Taylor, Sharon Benton, Heidi Mott, Susan Schreyer, Pam Seiler, and Margo Taylor

      Thanks to Mimi “The Grammar Chick” for keeping me from looking like a fool in print.

      Special thanks to Adam Wilson from MIRA books for helping to make this book stronger and trying to pull me into the fold.

      Thanks to Christy Karras of Proof Positive for bending over backward to help me catch the attention of the press.

      Thanks to the RWA Kiss of Death Chapter and the Daphne du Maurier contest coordinators for the hard work that goes into putting on their contest.

      Thanks to the wonderful reviewers who took the time to read and comment about this book; and to the awesome authors willing to give me a cover quote before I had a contract in my hand.

      Thanks to Jacquie Rogers, Wendy Delaney, and Sherry Walker for years of friendship and patience with me. Thanks to the columnists and crew at 1st Turning Point for sharing their knowledge so willingly. Thanks to Gerri Russell, Joleen James, and Wendy Delaney for keeping me on task.

      Thanks to Amber Scott for continually picking me up, brushing me off, and sending me on my way again. Let’s keep thinking BIGGER!

      Thanks to my “tribe” for cheering me onward. You guys rock!

      And finally, thanks to Clint Taylor, for always being the fall guy—literally. I’ll always cherish those memories.

       

     
In Deadwood:

      Thanks to Ken Reder for his answers about real estate in South Dakota.

      Thanks to the town of Deadwood for all of the years of wonderful hospitality and great memories. This one is for all of you!

 
     
 

       

       

 

BOOK: Nearly Departed in Deadwood
3.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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