/> She did so by blasting her horn and propelling her old and beloved Land Rover into an opening more suited to a Tonka toy. The dark thoughts of the driver she cut off didn’t concern her in the least.
Roger Grogan took off his reading glasses and raised his bushy silver eyebrows. He was a trim and vigorous seventy-five, and his face made Lana think of a canny leprechaun.
He wore a short-sleeved white shirt, and his hair, a beautiful mix of silver and white, exploded in untamed tufts.
“You look pretty full of yourself.” His voice was gravel spilling down a steel chute. “Must’ve seen Ron Dolan.”
“Just came from there.” She indulged herself with another spin before she leaned on the counter. “You should’ve come with me, Roger. Just to see his face.”
“You’re too hard on him.” Roger tapped a fingertip to Lana’s nose. “He’s just doing what he thinks is right.”
When Lana merely angled her head, stared blandly, Roger laughed. “Didn’t say I agreed with him. Boy’s got a hard head, just like his old man did. Doesn’t have the sense to see if a community’s this divided over something, you need to rethink.”
“He’ll be rethinking now,” Lana promised. “Testing and dating those bones is going to cause him some major delays. And if we’re lucky, they’re going to be old enough to draw a lot of attention—national attention—to the site. We can delay the development for months. Maybe years.”
“He’s as hardheaded as you. You’ve managed to hold him up for months already.”
“He says it’s progress,” she mumbled.
“He’s not alone in that.”
“Alone or not, he’s wrong. You can’t plant houses like a corn crop. Our projections show—”
Roger held up a hand. “Preaching to the choir, counselor.”
“Yeah.” She let out a breath. “Once we get the archaeological survey, we’ll see what we see. I can’t wait. Meanwhile, the longer the development’s delayed, the more Dolan loses. And the more time we have to raise money. He might just reconsider selling that land to the Woodsboro Preservation Society.”
She pushed back her hair. “Why don’t you let me take you to lunch? We can celebrate today’s victory.”
“Why aren’t you letting some young, good-looking guy take you out to lunch?”
“Because I lost my heart to you, Roger, the first time I saw you.” It wasn’t far from the truth. “In fact, hell with lunch. Let’s you and me run off to Aruba together.”
It made him chuckle, nearly made him blush. He’d lost his wife the same year Lana had lost her husband. He often wondered if that was part of the reason for the bond that had forged between them so quickly.
He admired her sharp mind, her stubborn streak, her absolute devotion to her son. He had a granddaughter right about her age, he thought. Somewhere.
“That’d set this town on its ear, wouldn’t it? Be the biggest thing since the Methodist minister got caught playing patty-cake with the choir director. But the fact is, I’ve got books to catalogue—just in. Don’t have time for lunch or tropical islands.”
“I didn’t know you’d gotten new stock. Is this one?” At his nod, she gently turned the book around.
Roger dealt in rare books, and his tiny shop was a small cathedral to them. It smelled, always, of old leather and old paper and the Old Spice he’d been sprinkling on his skin for sixty years.
A rare bookstore wasn’t the sort of thing expected in a two-stoplight rural town. Lana knew the bulk of his clientele came, like his stock, from much farther afield.
“It’s beautiful.” She traced a finger over the leather binding. “Where did it come from?”
“An estate in Chicago.” His ears pricked at a sound at the rear of the shop. “But it came with something even more valuable.”
He waited, heard the door between the shop and the stairs to the living quarters on the second floor open. Lana saw the pleasure light up his face, and turned.
He had a face of deep valleys and strong hills. His hair was very dark brown with gilt lights in it. The type, she imagined, that would go silver and white with age. There was a rumpled mass of it that brushed the collar of his shirt.
The eyes were deep, dark brown, and at the moment seemed a bit surly. As did his mouth. It was a face, Lana mused, that mirrored both intellect and will. Smart and stubborn, was her first analysis. But perhaps, she admitted, it was because Roger had often described his grandson as just that.
The fact that he looked as if he’d just rolled out of bed and hitched on a pair of old jeans as an afterthought added sexy to the mix.
She felt a pleasant little ripple in the blood she hadn’t experienced in a very long time.
“Doug.” There was pride, delight and love in the single word. “Wondered when you were going to wander down. Good timing, as it happens. This is Lana. I told you about our Lana. Lana Campbell, my grandson, Doug Cullen.”
“It’s nice to meet you.” She offered a hand. “We’ve missed each other whenever you’ve popped back home since I moved to Woodsboro.”
He shook her hand, scanned her face. “You’re the lawyer.”
“Guilty. I just stopped in to tell Roger the latest on the Dolan development. And to hit on him. How long are you in town?”
“I’m not sure.”
A man of few words, she thought, and tried again. “You do a lot of traveling, acquiring and selling antiquarian books. It must be fascinating.”
“I like it.”
Roger leaped into the awkward pause. “I don’t know what I’d do without Doug. Can’t get around like I used to. He’s got a feel for the business, too. A natural feel. I’d be retired and boring myself to death if he hadn’t taken up the fieldwork.”
“It must be satisfying for both of you, to share an interest, and a family business.” Since Doug looked bored by the conversation, Lana turned to his grandfather. “Well, Roger, since you’ve blown me off, again, I’d better get back to work. See you at the meeting tomorrow night?”
“I’ll be there.”
“Nice meeting you, Doug.”
“Yeah. See you around.”
When the door closed behind her, Roger let out a steam-kettle sigh. “ ‘See you around’? That’s the best you can do when you’re talking to a pretty woman? You’re breaking my heart, boy.”
“There’s no coffee. Upstairs. No coffee. No brain. I’m lucky I can speak in simple declarative sentences.”
“Got a pot in the back room,” Roger said in disgust, and jerked a thumb. “That girl’s smart, pretty, interesting and,” he added as Doug moved behind the counter and through the door, “available.”
“I’m not looking for a woman.” The scent of coffee hit his senses and nearly made him weep. He poured a cup, burned his tongue on the first sip and knew all would, once again, be right with the world.
He sipped again, glancing back at his grandfather. “Pretty fancy piece for Woodsboro.”
“I thought you weren’t looking.”
Now he grinned, and it changed his face from surly to approachable. “Looking, seeing. Different kettle.”
“She knows how to put herself together. Doesn’t make her fancy.”
“No offense.” Douglas was amused by his grandfather’s huffy tone. “I didn’t know she was your girlfriend.”
“I was your age, she damn well would be.”
“Grandpa.” Revived by the coffee, Doug slung an arm over Roger’s shoulders. “Age doesn’t mean squat. I say you should go for it. Okay if I take this upstairs? I need to go clean up, head out to see Mom.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Roger waved him off. “See you around,” he muttered as Doug walked to the rear of the store. “Pitiful.”
Callie Dunbrook sucked up the last of her Diet Pepsi as she fought Baltimore traffic. She’d timed her departure from Philadelphia—where she was supposed to be taking a three-month sabbatical—poorly. She saw that now.
But when the call had come through, requesting a consultation, she hadn’t considered travel time or rush-hour traffic. Or the basic insanity of the Baltimore Beltway at four-fifteen on a Wednesday afternoon.
Now she just had to deal with it.
She’d been out of the field for seven weeks. Even the whiff of a chance to be back in again drove her as ruthlessly as she drove the four-wheeler.
She knew Leo Greenbaum well enough to have recognized the restrained excitement in his voice. Well enough to know he wasn’t a man to ask her to drive to Baltimore to look at some bones unless they were very interesting bones.
Since she hadn’t heard a murmur about the find in rural Maryland until that morning, she had a feeling no one had expected them to be particularly interesting.
God knew she needed another project. She was bored brainless writing papers for journals, lecturing, reading papers others in her field had written for the same journals. Archaeology wasn’t classroom and publishing to Callie. To her it was digging, measuring, boiling in the sun, drowning in the rain, sinking in mud and being eaten alive by insects.
To her, it was heaven.
When the radio station she had on segued into a news cycle, she switched to CDs. Talk wasn’t any way to deal with vicious, ugly traffic. Snarling, mean-edged rock was.
Metallica snapped out, and instantly improved her mood.
She tapped her fingers on the wheel, then gripped it and punched through another opening. Her eyes, a deep, golden brown, gleamed behind her shaded glasses.
She wore her hair long because it was easier to pull it back or bunch it up under a hat—as it was now—than to worry about cutting and styling it. She also had enough healthy vanity to know the straight honey blond suited her.
Her eyes were long, the brows over them nearly straight. As she approached thirty, her face had mellowed from cute to attractive. When she smiled, three dimples popped out. One in each tanned cheek, and the third just above the right corner of her mouth.
The gently curved chin didn’t reveal what her ex-husband had called her rock-brained stubbornness.
But then again, she could say the same about him. And did, at every possible opportunity.
She tapped the brakes and swung, with barely any decrease in speed, into a parking lot.
Leonard G. Greenbaum and Associates was housed in a ten-story steel box that had, to Callie’s mind, no redeeming aesthetic value. But the lab and its technicians were among the best in the country.
She pulled into a visitor’s slot, hopped out into a vicious, soupy heat. Her feet began to sweat inside her Wolverines before she made it to the building’s entrance.
The building’s receptionist glanced over, saw a woman with a compact, athletic body, an ugly straw hat and terrific wire-framed sunglasses.
“Dr. Dunbrook for Dr. Greenbaum.”
“Sign in, please.”
She handed Callie a visitor’s pass. “Third floor.”
Callie glanced at her watch as she strode to the elevators. She was only forty-five minutes later than she’d planned to be. But the Quarter Pounder she’d wolfed down on the drive was rapidly wearing off.
She wondered if she could hit Leo up for a meal.
She rode up to three, found another receptionist. This time she was asked to wait.
She was good at waiting. All right, Callie admitted as she dropped into a chair. Better at waiting than she’d once been. She used up her store of patience in her work. Could she help it if there wasn’t much left over to spread around in other areas?
She could only work with what she had.
But Leo didn’t keep her long.
He had a quick walk. It always reminded Callie of the way a corgi moved—rapid, stubby legs racing too fast for the rest of the body. At five-four, he was an inch shorter than Callie herself and had a sleeked-back mane of walnut-brown hair, which he unashamedly dyed. His face was weathered, sun-beaten and narrow with his brown eyes in a permanent squint behind square, rimless glasses.
He wore, as he did habitually, baggy brown pants and a shirt of wrinkled cotton. Papers leaked out of every pocket.
He walked straight up to Callie and kissed her—and was the only man of her acquaintance not related to her who was permitted to do so.
“Looking good, Blondie.”
“You’re not looking so bad yourself.”
“How was the drive?”
“Vicious. Make it worth my while, Leo.”
“Oh, I think I will. How’s the family?” he asked as he led her back the way he’d come.
“Great. Mom and Dad got out of Dodge for a couple weeks. Beating the heat up in Maine. How’s Clara?”
Leo shook his head at the thought of his wife. “She’s taken up pottery. Expect a very ugly vase for Christmas.”
“And the kids?”
“Ben’s playing with stocks and bonds, Melissa’s juggling motherhood and dentistry. How did an old digger like me raise such normal kids?”
“Clara,” Callie told him as he opened a door and gestured her in.
Though she’d expected him to take her to one of the labs, she looked around his sunny, well-appointed office. “I’d forgotten what a slick setup you’ve got here, Leo. No burning desire to go back out and dig?”
“Oh, it comes over me now and again. Usually I just take a nap and it goes away. But this time . . . Take a look at this.”
He walked behind his desk, unlocked a drawer. He drew out a bone fragment in a sealed bag.
Callie took the bag and, hooking her glasses in the V of her shirt, examined the bone within. “Looks like part of a tibia. Given the size and fusion, probably from a young female. Very well preserved.”
“Best guess of age from visual study?”
“This is from western Maryland, right? Near a running creek. I don’t like best guess. You got soil samples, stratigraphic report?”
“Ballpark. Come on, Blondie, play.”
“Jeez.” Her brow knitted as she turned the bag over in her hand. She wanted her fingers on bone. Her foot began to tap to her own inner rhythm. “I don’t know the ground. Visual study, without benefit of testing, I’d make it three to five hundred years old. Could be somewhat older, depending on the silt deposits, the floodplain.”
She turned the bone over again, and her instincts began to quiver. “That’s Civil War country, isn’t it? This predates that. It’s not from a Rebel soldier boy.”
“It predates the Civil War,” Leo agreed. “By about five thousand years.”
When Callie’s head came up, he grinned at her like a lunatic. “Radiocarbon-dating report,” he said, and handed her a file.
Callie scanned the pages, noted that Leo had run the test twice, on three different samples taken from the site.
When she looked up again, she had the same maniacal grin as he. “Hot dog,” she said.
Callie got lost on the way to Woodsboro. She’d taken directions from Leo, but when studying the map had noted a shortcut. It should have been a shortcut. Any logical person would have deemed it a shortcut—which was, in her opinion, exactly what the cartographer figured.
She had a long-standing feud with mapmakers.
She didn’t mind being lost. She never stayed that way, after all. And the detour gave her a feel for the area.
Rugged, rolling hills riotously green with summer spilled into wide fields thick with row crops. Outcroppings of silver rock bumped through the green like gnarled knuckles and rippling finger bones.
It made her think of those ancient farmers, carving their rows with primitive tools, hacking into that rocky ground to grow their food. To make their place.
The man who rode his John Deere over those fields owed them a