With everyone she loves in the grave, Ruby specializes in the dead.
Trip wants to bring her back to the land of the living.
When Ruby Silver traded in her demon-hunting rifle for a Tremayne Agency badge, she didn’t want another partner—losing the last one was too traumatic. But when a new case in the Texas Hill Country pairs her up with the slow-talking, fast-drawing Trip Austin, it will take all their combined skills to combat a plague of poltergeists in this German-settled town.
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Excerpt from Wild Wild Ghost
Was this woman really supposed to be his new partner?
When he’d gotten the telegram from the Tremayne headquarters back in St. Louis, Trip had laughed aloud. He knew there were lady agents—he’d even worked with one a time or two—but they had all been stationed back east. No lone woman in her right mind would want to come out here to work.
Not when there were plenty of ghosts to be exorcised in civilized places.
I guess maybe this one’s not in her right mind, then.
Might not be a bad idea to remember that.
He watched the glass-cyclone sweep up the dust around her, the cloud of dirt thickening until he couldn’t see the woman at all, and reconsidered.
If she can cause something like that to happen, maybe she’s plenty safe out here, after all.
As Trip made his way toward her, the glass-and-dirt devil rose into the air. He stopped to watch it ascend. Then, with a noise like a crack of thunder, it was gone. Trip had the vague impression that it had sped away toward the wilds rather than merely disappearing into nothingness, but he couldn’t have pointed to any particular evidence that made him think that.
Smoothing her hands down the sides of the painted horse’s face, the woman murmured something soothing in a tone that made Trip realize he had been hearing her voice all along, a soft alto hum rising and falling under the whipping and tinkling sound of the glass tornado, somehow more noticeable now in its absence than it had been during the strange events on the street.
The horse huffed out a breath, and the woman laughed. The sound of it sent an odd shiver up Trip’s back—not of anxiety, but of interest.
Don’t be stupid, man. You haven’t even seen her face yet.
And he couldn’t tell anything about her body under that horror of a dress.
Reaching up, she untied the bonnet from under her chin and removed it to shake off the dust. A silken fall of blond hair cascaded out of it and down her back, and Trip stopped to stare, frozen by the glint of midday Texas sun off its golden sheen.
By the time he moved again, she had begun brushing dirt off her skirt in sharp, efficient motions.
“Ruby Silver?” he asked when he was close enough to speak without shouting.
As she spun around, it occurred to him belatedly that it might not be a good idea to sneak up on a woman who could turn flying glass into a tornado and make it disappear.
Holding both hands up, he took a half-step back. “I’m Trip. Trip Austin,” he said. When she didn’t respond with anything more than a suspicious glare, he added, “Your new partner.”
Her mouth tightened, her stare captured his, and she shook her head the tiniest bit—more a negation of the mere idea of a partner, he thought, than a rejection of his actual claim.
Trip knew he ought to say more, but from the moment her gaze had caught his, he had been rendered speechless. To be honest, he had expected someone harsh, sun-weathered and wind-beaten. Women out here were hard, and women alone doubly so, used to fending for themselves in a land that didn’t reward softness.
Not that he would call this woman soft. Not exactly. Her mouth drew down in a hard, straight line and her blue eyes narrowed in a way that suggested she would eviscerate him if he took one wrong step.
She was, however, lovely. The lines of her face looked as though they had been sculpted, like one of those fine statues he had seen a few times when he traveled outside his home country on Tremayne business, going to places other people considered better, just because they had more people. Because they were “civilized.”
He suspected the west’s lack of civilization drew Ruby Silver to it the same way it drew him. Deep in her gaze he detected a desolation that matched any desert landscape he had ever seen.
A man could die in those eyes.
But before he did, he would witness a harsh wonder like nothing else he had ever seen.
Perfect, now I’m waxing poetical. I haven’t determined if this is Ruby Silver, and already I’ve got men dying from the mere look of her.
He shook his head, half-amused at his own flights of fancy.
“What do you mean, my partner?” she asked, and Trip had to think hard to recover the conversational thread.
“Tremayne PSI. I can show you my badge, if you’ll allow.” He waved his hand, still raised in the air, toward his gun-belt without lowering it at all.
She nodded suspiciously, her own hand dropping to the gun belt she wore slung around the hips of her skirt.
As he pulled the agency star in its leather case off its position near his waist, he admired the way her belt outlined those hips.
That’s a fashion I could get used to.
The fingers that brushed Trip’s as she took the badge were cool and dry. She examined it for a long moment, then ran one fingertip across it in a complex pattern. Something mystical, probably. Some way to verify the badge’s authenticity, he suspected.
With a noncommittal noise, she handed it back to him.
They stared at one another for a long, silent moment. Somehow, Trip knew that speaking was the wrong way to go, so instead he waited for her to nod so they could get started on their examination of the town.
Whatever had sent that glass flying in the first place was big and ugly, and the sooner they got to work tracking it down, the sooner they could get rid of it.
Instead, Ruby Silver shook her head. “I’m afraid you’ve wasted your time,” she said. “I work alone.”
Without another word, she lifted her chin, spun on her heel, gathered her horse’s reins, and headed toward the largest, most imposing building in town—the bank—leaving Trip standing in the dust behind her, not certain whether he should chase after her, or simply admire her as she walked away.
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