Nothing moved in the backyard. She called toward the house, "Anyone home?"
No one answered. Madison circled the white tent to peek inside from the open flap. She came face to face with a life size... Chupacabra? A cloud moved across the sky, hiding the sun and bathing the tent in shadow. Her heart raced and she reached for her sidearm. She stopped mid movement. When did she get so jumpy?
The object of her fright was a tall metal sculpture, an armored muscular man with the head of a coyote. Or was it Anubis, the Egyptian god with the jackal head? The bright silver finish and turquoise decorating the black metal could indicate either. Madison had never made the connection between the jackal and the coyote. In this representation, they looked identical.
More sculptures crowded the concrete slab inside the tent, all stylized, teaming with life, strikingly beautiful and awe-inspiring, with bright enamel colors.
* * *
Something growled behind Madison. She whirled about, holding the 9mm .357 SIG pistol in a two-handed grip. Aiming, she stared into the yellow eyes of a large bobcat, sitting atop a flat boulder in the shade of a pine tree. The animal had an orange top coat and white spotted belly. Forty pounds of quick muscle. Was this the killer? Was it rabid? The bobcat growled again but didn't crouch to pounce.
"Felix seems to like you."
The low baritone at her back made Madison's skin prickle all over, but she maintained eye contact with the bobcat. Never take your eyes off a wild animal in a standoff. "Felix?"
"You better put that thing away. He's like me. He doesn't like guns." The calm male voice seemed to caress her. "It's okay, little brother."
The wild cat grunted a response, lay down on the flat rock and yawned. He licked a front paw and rested his head on it to resume an interrupted nap.
Madison lowered her firearm and relaxed her finger on the trigger, but her heart beat like a jungle drum. Reluctantly, she turned to face the man who had spoken in such a smooth voice.
Tall, with a welding mask flipped up over his head, he stood legs apart, boots firmly planted in the ground. The top part of his leather apron had fallen, and his black open shirt exposed a thick silver chain resting on the copper chiseled muscles glistening in sunlight. Madison allowed her gaze to linger on such male perfection.
"Sorry if Felix startled you." The Native American man removed the welding mask with gloved hands, revealing a face streaked with soot like black war paint. He wore his long black hair in a ponytail and stared at Madison with the most startling green eyes she had ever seen, fearless, with intense fire, like a wild animal.
Shaken, Madison buried her lusty thoughts under a gruff attitude and returned her sidearm to the holster. "A bobcat is not a pet. There are laws protecting wildlife."
"Felix chooses my company." He didn't seem sorry at all and grinned, showing white teeth, as if he'd enjoyed her fright. Something was odd about him.
The man's bold stare made Madison uncomfortable. "This is a dangerous animal to keep around, mainly for your neighbors' pets. Don't they complain?"
"Felix and I have an understanding. I feed him, and he doesn't kill." He grinned at her with insolence. "My name is Kaletaka, and I own this house."
"Phenomenal world building, characters the readers care about, and an intriguing mystery... COYOTE GORGEOUS has all the elements one expects from a Vijaya Schartz story! Easily recommended!" - 4.5 shamrocks - Debbie CK2sKwipsandKritique
"So many times my theory of who done it was thwarted and yet I was thrilled to stay on the edge of my seat until the very last word just to find out." Five stars - Book Junkie Reviews
"...excellent characters... well written. Fascinated about the subject matter and the legends..." Five hearts - Romance Book Scene
Blasters, Guns, Swords, Romance with a kick
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