Well, it completely slipped my mind that I was supposed to do a “Sample Sunday” with this one, so here’s a little “Magic Monday” teaser from Hidden Gifts, the first book in my new Witches of Canyon Road series! (The book will be out on Wednesday, March 7th.)
A woman stood by the window, her elegant profile sent into clear relief by the pale sunlight slanting in past the drapes. She wore a dark, slim skirt and a gray blouse, the open neckline of the shirt revealing an oversized cross of silver and coral. As soon as she heard Cat and me enter, she turned, a smile on her lips that I didn’t believe for one second. I could see an echo of her features in her daughter’s face, the slim nose and large dark eyes, but Cat’s expression had a liveliness I was pretty sure this woman had never possessed.
“Ah, Miranda,” she said, coming toward us. Before I could react, she had folded me into her arms and given me a brief hug. I stiffened, but then she let go and stepped away again, putting a safe distance between us. “It seems you’ve managed to survive your journey without incident.”
No thanks to you, I wanted to say, but I held my tongue. It was probably the same capriciousness that had made her put me on the train that had also prevented her from sending me any photos of her son, and what would be the point in calling that out? Somehow, I would have to learn how to live with this woman, no matter how much she rubbed me the wrong way.
“It all was fine,” I replied. “The train was a great idea — I had a chance to see a lot more of the country than I normally would.”
The faintest hint of a frown line between her brows told me she was analyzing that remark and trying to see whether it contained a veiled criticism. Which of course it did, but I only stood there, wearing a faint smile and — I hoped — looking completely innocent.
Cat frowned as well, but for an entirely different reason. “Where’s Rafe? I sent him a text to let him know we would be here in a few minutes.”
Now Genoveva Castillo’s expression was studiously neutral. “I’m sure he will be here shortly.”
Clearly, Rafe wasn’t any more eager to meet me than I was to meet him. Or rather, I actually did want to meet him, just to confirm that what Cat had said about his appearance was the truth. Not that I suspected her of outright lying, but she might have been exaggerating just a bit in order to make her brother look good.
“So typical.” Cat turned toward me, openly apologetic. “He can be like that. Gets wrapped up in things, forgets about the time.”
If we’d been alone, I would have asked what sorts of things he got “wrapped up in,” but with Genoveva standing there, I couldn’t do much more than lift my shoulders and try to look appropriately understanding. Still, I wondered what Rafe’s hobbies might be, what his interests were. Most of the time, witches and warlocks didn’t really have to work for a living, and that financial freedom allowed them to pursue avocations they might otherwise not have had time for. Did Rafe paint? Write? Build giant bronze sculptures? Hike? Shoot? Obsessively play virtual reality games?
I had absolutely no idea. I knew his name was Rafael Castillo, and I knew he was twenty-six years old, and that was about all I knew.
Except for the part about not getting along with his mother, which I could completely understand.
Then there was a rustle at the door, and we all turned. Standing there was a man who surveyed all of us with an expression of grim amusement on his face. He had to be at least six foot two, and was broad-shouldered and well built without being overly muscular. His hair and eyes were dark, one brow was lifted at an ironic angle, and he was absolutely the best-looking man I’d ever seen.
“Hey,” he said. “I’m Rafe.”
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