Sweet Anger(6)

By: Sandra Brown



And he, Hunter McKee, must turn it into a nightmare for Wynne’s widow.

His telephone rang. He shoved his tortoiseshell eyeglasses to the top of his head and leaned forward to stop the videotape machine attached to his television. “McKee,” he said crisply into the receiver.

“Hunter, Silas Barnes.”

“Hello, Silas. How has the first week of retirement been?”

“Restless.”

Hunter laughed. “I’m sure that after being Denver County’s D.A. for more than twenty years, so much peace and quiet will take some getting used to.”

“I guess you’ve heard the news.” The former D.A. cut through all the social chitchat and got right to the point of his call.

Hunter could appreciate that kind of verbal economy. “Yes,” he answered soberly. “Helluva mess you’ve bequeathed me, Silas.”

“I’m sorry. It was already a helluva mess. But now …”

“Yeah, now.” Hunter’s heavy sigh matched the exasperation of his gesture as he dragged his hand through his dark mahogany-colored hair. “Mr. Wynne’s sins will be visited on his widow.”

“She seems like a nice young woman.”

“A rather tepid description, Silas.”

The older man laughed. “I’m only trying to make you feel better. Do you think she’ll cooperate with you?”

“I dread asking.”

“You might not have the luxury of asking. You might have to force her to.”

“I dread that even more.”

“Well, if there’s anything I can do to help …”

“You could have put off retirement for a few months until this was cleared up.”

“My illness wouldn’t let me. I hate having to dump this in your lap. I’m afraid you’ll be up to your neck in boiling water soon, Hunter.”

“Ah, well, that goes with the territory, doesn’t it?”

“I’m afraid so. And if I hadn’t thought you could handle that hot water, I wouldn’t have suggested you for the temporary appointment. In all likelihood, you’ll be officially voted in when they call the special election.”

“I appreciate the vote of confidence. Thanks for calling.”

“Good-bye.”

Hunter hung up the phone and took another sip of beer. As the videotape in his machine was rewinding, he replaced his glasses on the bridge of his nose. He started the tape again, though he must have watched it a dozen times since it had first run on the six o’clock news earlier.

There she was stepping out of the limousine. Dressed in a black sheath, she looked so damn fragile, like a breakable doll. Her posture and carriage were sure and straight, even if her head was averted from the crowd and the cameras.

It must be tough, being a celebrity in the midst of tragedy. Because she was who she was, all eyes were on her, witnessing her grief. She was granted no privacy. Yet she looked the epitome of dignity and poise.

There. The camera focused on a close-up of her face. That face! Even though it was screened by a sheer black veil draping from her hat, it was a lovely face. Surely not the face of the enemy. The angles and planes were clearly defined, which was part of what made her so photogenic, he supposed. She wasn’t wearing much makeup, which made her no less lovely, only softer, younger, and more vulnerable looking.

He cursed softly. Why didn’t she look tough as a boot and hard as nails? Why didn’t she look sly and worldly, jaded and cunning, shrewd and deceitful? It would make his job easier if she didn’t look so damned tragically heroic, like the put-upon princess in a Grimm brothers’ tale.

Her jaw was delicate but firm. Her nose was slender. Her mouth was soft and … hell! … suffice it to say, feminine. There was no direct shot of her eyes, which was just as well. He was probably better off not knowing about her eyes. Their shape, their color. Her blond hair was sleeked into a tight knot on the nape of her neck.

Now came the part that never failed to touch him. No matter how many times he masochistically watched the tape, the moment she took up that white rose, his heart began to beat unnecessarily fast and a suspicious clot formed in his throat. Through the veil, her lips kissed the perfect white bud. Then she laid it lovingly on the casket. Her fingers, as small and dainty as a child’s, seemed reluctant to leave it.

Hunter, impatient with himself, reached for the proper button and snapped off the machine. Enough. He wasn’t going to watch it anymore. He tossed his eyeglasses onto the end table and stalked into the kitchen for another beer.

He was borrowing trouble. It might never be necessary to interrogate Mrs. Thomas Wynne. But if it was, he’d do it and he’d go into the meeting with both barrels loaded. He had a job to do and nothing, nothing, would keep him from doing it to the best of his ability.

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