He sipped again, glancing back at his grandfather. "Pretty fancy piece for Woodsboro."
"I thought you weren't looking."
Now he grinned, and it changed his face from surly to approachable. "Looking, seeing. Different kettle."
"She knows how to put herself together. Doesn't make her fancy."
"No offense." Douglas was amused by his grandfather's huffy tone. "I didn't know she was your girlfriend."
"I was your age, she damn well would be."
"Grandpa." Revived by the coffee, Doug slung an arm over Roger's shoulders. "Age doesn't mean squat. I say you should go for it. Okay if I take this upstairs? I need to go clean up, head out to see Mom."
"Yeah, yeah." Roger waved him off. "See you around," he muttered as Doug walked to the rear of the store. "Pitiful."
Callie Dunbrook sucked up the last of her Diet Pepsi as she fought Baltimore traffic. She'd timed her departure from Philadelphia--where she was supposed to be taking a three-month sabbatical--poorly. She saw that now.
But when the call had come through, requesting a consultation, she hadn't considered travel time or rush-hour traffic. Or the basic insanity of the Baltimore Beltway at four-fifteen on a Wednesday afternoon.
Now she just had to deal with it.
She did so by blasting her horn and propelling her old and beloved Land Rover into an opening more suited to a Tonka toy. The dark thoughts of the driver she cut off didn't concern her in the least.
She'd been out of the field for seven weeks. Even the whiff of a chance to be back in again drove her as ruthlessly as she drove the four-wheeler.
She knew Leo Greenbaum well enough to have recognized the restrained excitement in his voice. Well enough to know he wasn't a man to ask her to drive to Baltimore to look at some bones unless they were very interesting bones.
Since she hadn't heard a murmur about the find in rural Maryland until that morning, she had a feeling no one had expected them to be particularly interesting.
God knew she needed another project. She was bored brainless writing papers for journals, lecturing, reading papers others in her field had written for the same journals. Archaeology wasn't classroom and publishing to Callie. To her it was digging, measuring, boiling in the sun, drowning in the rain, sinking in mud and being eaten alive by insects.
To her, it was heaven.
When the radio station she had on segued into a news cycle, she switched to CDs. Talk wasn't any way to deal with vicious, ugly traffic. Snarling, mean-edged rock was.
Metallica snapped out, and instantly improved her mood.
She tapped her fingers on the wheel, then gripped it and punched through another opening. Her eyes, a deep, golden brown, gleamed behind her shaded glasses.
She wore her hair long because it was easier to pull it back or bunch it up under a hat--as it was now--than to worry about cutting and styling it. She also had enough healthy vanity to know the straight honey blond suited her.
Her eyes were long, the brows over them nearly straight. As she approached thirty, her face had mellowed from cute to attractive. When she smiled, three dimples popped out. One in each tanned cheek, and the third just above the right corner of her mouth.
The gently curved chin didn't reveal what her ex-husband had called her rock-brained stubbornness.
But then again, she could say the same about him. And did, at every possible opportunity.
She tapped the brakes and swung, with barely any decrease in speed, into a parking lot.
Leonard G. Greenbaum and Associates was housed in a ten-story steel box that had, to Callie's mind, no redeeming aesthetic value. But the lab and its technicians were among the best in the country.
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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