Honor Harris from THE KING’S GENERAL, by Daphne du Maurier. Claire Randall from OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon. Emma Woodhouse from EMMA by Jane Austen. What do these heroines have in common? They sprint toward trouble. They’re very stubborn. Their perceptions often lead them off course. And sometimes they can be crabby. They’re also a lot of fun to read. You just never know what they’re going to do or say or in what kind of trouble they’ll find themselves.
These are my favorite kinds of heroines. That’s why I made one of my own. Cherry Tucker. She’s an artist, so she’s got a strange, er, creative way of looking at the world. Like in her decision to obtain a commission to paint the coffin portrait of a murdered man and to then try to figure out the man’s killer. She can be obstinate and ornery, particularly around Luke, her old flame, who’s back in town for his stepbrother’s funeral. When it comes to trouble, she doesn’t just sprint toward it. She seeks it out with her Remington Wingmaster. And crabby? That can be blamed on her inability to rid herself of her ex-boyfriend and flaky family.
“I recognize this truck,” a lazy voice floated behind me. “And the view. Doesn’t look like much’s changed either way in ten years.”
I gasped and crawled out.
Luke Harper, Dustin’s stepbrother.
I had forgotten that twig on the Branson family tree. More like snapped it from my memory. His lanky stance blocked the open truck door. One hand splayed against my side window. His other wrist lay propped over the top of my door. Within the cage of Luke’s arms, we examined each other. Fondness didn’t dwell in my eyes. I’m never sure what dwelled in his.
Luke drove me crazy in ways I didn’t appreciate. He knew how to push buttons that switched me from tough to soft, smart to dumb. Beautiful men were my kryptonite. Local gossip said my mother had the same problem. My poor sister, Casey, was just as inflicted. We would have been better off inheriting a squinty eye or a duck walk.
“Hello, Luke Harper.” I tried not to sound snide. Drawing up to my fullest five foot and a half inches, I cocked a hip in casual belligerence.
“How’s it going, Cherry?” A glint of light sparked his smoky eyes, and I expected it corresponded with a certain memory of a nineteen-year-old me wearing a pair of red cowboy boots and not much else. “You hanging out at funeral homes now? Never took you for a necrophiliac.”
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