TaraBy: Taylor Lee
Book 2: The Trouble Sisters Saga
I have a question for you, Mr. Black. Why did you decide to come to Cochise County to build your development? Did you run out of pristine land to rape in Colorado?”
Griffin Black turned to see the source of the insulting inquiry, but before he could respond, Mayor Watcher, his florid face flushing a dangerous shade of purple, leapt in front of him.
Glaring at the woman who’d stepped toward them as they entered the lobby of the Whispering Pines Motel, the mayor made an obvious effort to respond in a jovial tone. “Now, now, Tara, there’s no need to be nasty. We don’t want our special guests to think that Sierra Vista is a backwater, inhospitable city, now do we, missy?” Glancing at the uniformed men standing off to the side of the room, he added ominously, “Besides, Tara, this is a private party. Please don’t make me ask these officers to—”
Cutting off the mayor’s threat with a dismissive wave of her hand, the young woman said coolly, “As you know, Mayor Watcher, my name is Tara Trouble. When you refer to me, please call me by my correct name.” Turning from the flushed mayor, she pinned a hard gaze on Griffin. “May I presume, Mr. Black, that you are capable of answering my question and do not require assistance from our obsequious mayor to respond?” Ignoring the mayor’s outraged gasp, she nodded to the officers, who were making an effort to contain their amusement, and addressed the fulminating mayor with a flippant shrug. “And, Mayor Watcher, I’ll take my chances with the representatives of the Cochise County sheriff’s office. The last time I checked, we have freedom of speech in Cochise County, and I presume I won’t be arrested for exercising that right.”
Griffin Black stepped forward and put up his hand, stopping the bristling mayor’s stuttering response. Turning the full force of his narrowed gaze on the tall, blonde woman who was meeting his gaze with a frown of her own, he said pleasantly, “That was a challenging question you asked, Ms. Trouble.” He allowed his lips to quirk up in a momentary grin, but seeing her chin rise a good two inches and her frown deepen, he decided that humor was not going to defuse this standoff. Instead, not hiding his displeasure, he added carefully, “Ignoring the hostile tone of your inquiry, let me simply say that I don’t accept the premise of your question.”
Turning to the group of clearly embarrassed local dignitaries, he motioned toward the private dining room. “Please, gentlemen, my team and I are understandably hungry after our flight. I’m eager to take advantage of your hospitality and the opportunity to tell you more about our plans for Shadow Peaks, the name we gave to the innovative development we are planning to build in your impressive county.”
As he ushered the chagrined welcoming committee into the dining room, he murmured to Magnus Armstrong, his second-in-command, “Find out who the fuck she is and how she got into this private meeting.”
Armstrong snorted. “Unfortunately, I already know who she is and you will soon. She happens to be a rabid environmental activist who puts the Earth Liberation Front to shame. As she indicated, she equates land development with rape.” He met Griffin’s frown and added, “Oh, and among her other credentials, she’s the hard-driving editor of the Sierra Vista Gazette. Which, as you will discover, is as close to a Greenpeace rag as you’re likely to find in this otherwise conservative Old West world we’ve ventured into. And incidentally, the only newspaper in this outback county.”
Obviously seeing Griffin’s annoyance, Magnus blew out a guffaw that might have been a laugh but was mirthless at best. “You may have noticed that she wasn’t intimidated by us and that the uniforms on the sidelines didn’t rankle her either. That might be because, as the obsequious little mayor—as she rightly called him—indicated, her name is Tara Trouble. In addition to living up to that apropos moniker, you should know that her father is Titus Theseus Trouble, sheriff of Cochise County and as formidable a lawman as you and I are likely to tangle with.”
Tara reached for the mammoth tumbler of frothy liquid and took a large sip. Trying not to choke on the potent liquor, she swallowed the alcohol-laden drink, eager to fight her raging emotions. Grateful for the harsh burn in her throat, she took another swig of the icy poison to the amazement of her wide-eyed sister.