She checked her watch as she walked. It was Ty's day to go to his friend Brock's after preschool. She'd give Brock's mother, Jo, a call in an hour. Just to make sure everything was all right.
She paused at the intersection, waited for the light. Traffic was slow, as traffic was meant to be in small towns.
She didn't look small-town. Her wardrobe had once been selected to suit the image of an up-and-coming lawyer in a major urban firm. She might have hung out her shingle in a little rural dot of less than four thousand people, but that didn't mean she couldn't continue to dress for success.
She wore a summer blue suit in crisp linen. The classic tailoring complemented her delicate build and her own sense of tidiness. Her hair was a straight swing of sunny blond that brushed the jawline of a pretty, youthful face. She had round blue eyes that were often mistaken for guileless, a nose that tipped up at the end and a deeply curved mouth.
She swung into Treasured Pages, beamed at the man behind the counter. And finally did her victory dance.
Roger Grogan took off his reading glasses and raised his bushy silver eyebrows. He was a trim and vigorous seventy-five, and his face made Lana think of a canny leprechaun.
He wore a short-sleeved white shirt, and his hair, a beautiful mix of silver and white, exploded in untamed tufts.
"You look pretty full of yourself." His voice was gravel spilling down a steel chute. "Must've seen Ron Dolan."
"Just came from there." She indulged herself with another spin before she leaned on the counter. "You should've come with me, Roger. Just to see his face."
"You're too hard on him." Roger tapped a fingertip to Lana's nose. "He's just doing what he thinks is right."
When Lana merely angled her head, stared blandly, Roger laughed. "Didn't say I agreed with him. Boy's got a hard head, just like his old man did. Doesn't have the sense to see if a community's this divided over something, you need to rethink."
"He'll be rethinking now," Lana promised. "Testing and dating those bones is going to cause him some major delays. And if we're lucky, they're going to be old enough to draw a lot of attention--national attention--to the site. We can delay the development for months. Maybe years."
"He's as hardheaded as you. You managed to hold him up for months already."
"He says it's progress," she mumbled.
"He's not alone in that."
"Alone or not, he's wrong. You can't plant houses like a corn crop. Our projections show--"
Roger held up a hand. "Preaching to the choir, counselor."
"Yeah." She let out a breath. "Once we get the archaeological survey, we'll see what we see.
I can't wait. Meanwhile, the longer the development's delayed, the more Dolan loses. And the more time we have to raise money. He might just reconsider selling that land to the Woodsboro Preservation Society."
She pushed back her hair. "Why don't you let me take you to lunch? We can celebrate today's victory."
"Why aren't you letting some young, good-looking guy take you out to lunch?"
"Because I lost my heart to you, Roger, the first time I saw you." It wasn't far from the truth. "In fact, hell with lunch. Let's you and me run off to Aruba together."
It made him chuckle, nearly made him blush. He'd lost his wife the same year Lana had lost her husband. He often wondered if that was part of the reason for the bond that had forged between them so quickly.
He admired her sharp mind, her stubborn streak, her absolute devotion to her son. He had a granddaughter right about her age, he thought. Somewhere.
"That'd set this town on its ear, wouldn't it? Be the biggest thing since the Methodist minister got caught playing patty-cake with the choir director. But the fact is, I've got books to catalogue--just in. Don't have time for lunch or tropical islands."
From Birthright by Nora Roberts, Copyright © 2003 Nora Roberts, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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