True, the story takes place at the height of Summer, but it's set in a winery so, it works for me. Also, it's got a fabulous new cover as well.
Nick brought his motorcycle to a stop in the winery’s parking lot. He took off his helmet, and felt the moisture on his skin evaporate in the dry heat radiating from the yellow stone walls.
He looked around grudgingly. Lupa e Cervo was certainly a showplace, no question about it. Christ, even the parking lot offered a fabulous view.
The massive granite blocks that made up the mansion in which the winery was housed were mellowed to a buttery hue, softened by ivy, by bougainvillea, by time. Endless rows of grapevines surrounded the building. They curved over the hills in every direction, drawing the eye along with them. Although Nick knew it was an illusion, the impression that they extended all the way to the ocean which could just barely be seen--a blue smudge far in the distance--was almost irresistible.
And it all belonged to Adam Sasso. Scout’s stepbrother. The only family she had left and, for the past six months, a pestiferous pain in Nick’s butt.
“Nice view,” Ryan remarked taking off his own helmet. “Guess I didn’t really get a chance to see it last time.” He sighed--a little too heavily, Nick thought, given the circumstances.
“Yeah.” Nick eyed the other man curiously. Ryan seemed unusually quiet today. “Thanks for coming out here with me.”
For a moment a look of surprise flashed across Ryan’s face. “Oh, uh...yeah, sure. No problem,” he said as he climbed off his bike. “What’s the deal here anyway?”
Nick shrugged. “Ah, who knows. Sasso’s claiming someone’s been attempting to break into the place. I asked him if he wanted to file a report, but of course he can’t prove that anything’s going on, so he declined.”
Nick paused to light a cigarette. Adam was up to something. That was why he’d asked Ryan to tag along. He wanted a witness to this meeting--just in case. He focused his attention on the view as he shook out the match, and tried hard to shake off the feeling he was being manipulated. “Scout’s show is happening in a little less than two weeks. Supposedly I’m here to offer any suggestions I can think of in the way of increased security.”
“Security, huh?” Ryan chuckled as they headed up the stairs and across the wide stone terrace. “Think maybe the guy’s wishing he’d taken a few of the dogs, after all?”
“Yeah, maybe.” The dogs would have been a good idea. But although Nick, Ryan and most of their friends and relations had all adopted at least one of the supposedly wild dogs which had terrorized the town for months, Adam had declined that offer, as well. At the time, he’d claimed he had all the security he needed. Nick couldn’t help but wonder what had happened in the meantime to change his mind.
The view from the terrace was even more impressive than the view from the parking lot. From here, he could see a small, white farmhouse, bracketed by trees, anchored on a postage stamp lawn of emerald green. And, beyond it, the distant shimmer of a tiny lake, set like a sapphire in the wide gold field that was home to half a dozen peacefully grazing horses.
“Nick. Thank you for coming.” Adam’s voice came out of the shadows, the rest of him emerged an instant later.
With his shoulder-length, blond hair, patrician features and wide green eyes Adam Sasso looked like he had just stepped from the pages of GQ. He was impeccably dressed, as always, and his gracious tones and graceful nod of greeting seemed too studied to be genuine.
Nick supposed he was meant to be impressed by Adam’s sudden appearance--or possibly discomfited by it--but he’d met enough guys like Adam in his life to know better than to take any of them too seriously.
They were pretentious SOB’s, the whole lot of them. Former nerds who’d reinvented themselves and seemed honestly to believe that being smart and financially stable gave them special rights--placed them above the law. Nick usually took great pleasure in putting them back in their places.
A pleasure which fate had denied him in this case.
“Adam.” He nodded curtly at the closest thing he had to a brother-in-law. “You remember Ryan, don’t you? What can we do for you?”
Adam gazed unblinkingly at Ryan for a long moment before slowly extending his hand. “Yes, of course. You were with Siobhan Quinn at the dinner here last February, weren’t you?”
“Yeah, that was me.” Ryan shook hands with him briefly, and then looked away across the terrace. “Nice place you’ve got.”
“Thank you.” There was a thread of amusement in Adam’s voice. He turned to Nick. “Come on, why don’t I show you where the problem is?”
For more information on the Oberon series, visit the website at www.OberonCalifornia.us
Nice excerpt!! Awesome description, and my fav line:
"a pestiferous pain in Nick’s butt" - great word!
Aw, thanks. I had so much fun creating that winery...well, the whole town, really.
Damn, I miss that place. I really loved writing this series.
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