Stranger in My House (A Murder In Texas)
into that horse’s eyes was like looking into his friend’s. So he talked Dr. Ernesto—that’s who owns the ranch over yonder—into selling Old Tom. Crazy, huh?”
    Sunlight bounced off the distant ridge and flashed across the barnyard. “Did you see that light up yonder?”
    Manny followed her gaze. “I saw it this morning.”
    “Does someone live up there?” she asked.
    He shook his head. “Nope. There’s an old quarry up that way. Mr. Shaw’s daddy dug it. It’s filled with water now. The kids in town go up there to drink and stuff. ’Course, it can be dangerous. They found a dead guy last fall. He fell in the water and drowned. Must’ve called out, but no one heard him.”
    “That’s awful. Have you ever heard anything suspicious?”
    “From the ridge?” His expression registered alarm. “That’s two miles off! Can’t tell much from that far away.”
    “Not just the ridge. Just around.”
    He shook his head. “Not really.”
    “What about seen? Do the local kids use the path to get to the quarry?”
    He shook his head. “There’s a road behind. I’ve only been up there a few times, but I think they mostly drive.”
    “That makes sense.” Kirby’s hopes began to sink. The boy was telling the truth—no eye shifting or twitching. No stuttering. He’d spent every day out here for the past two weeks and seen nothing. She tried one more question. “I’m worried about my momma. I wondered if you saw anything, uh, out of place last week.”
    “Not really,” he said again.
    Kirby had been so intent on Manny, she nearly jumped out of her skin when Miss Bea began to screech. “Mr. Maguire!” Her voice shook windows and nearly shattered eardrums.
    Kirby spun around.
    Miss Bea stood in the barnyard. Her bony talons gripped her hips. Her narrow mouth gaped in horror. Her eyes smoldered like bits of coal.
    Frozen between Miss Bea and Kirby, holding a mug of steaming coffee, was Maguire. He was gaping at Kirby as if he’d just watched her commit murder.

Chapter Four
    The coffee trickled into the carafe, drip by drip by drip by drip by…
    “Come on, dammit. Hurry.”
    By the time the drips turned to a drizzle, Seth was jumping out of his skin. He strode to the window. His eyes searched the driveway.
    Frankie had vanished.
    “Crap!” He shouted the word at Mr. Coffee. The stream quickened, but he couldn’t wait. He grabbed the carafe. Hot liquid gushed from the basket, over the counter and across the floor. He splashed coffee into a dirty mug beside the sink and raced down the stairs.
    A lump of fear lodged in his throat when he saw Frankie with Manny. He gulped in some dusty air. Play it cool.
    Too late. Behind him, Miss Bea screeched. “Mr. Maguire!” His nerves—what was left of them—seemed to shred.
    Hot coffee sloshed over his hand. Frankie swung around. Her eyes were wide, startled, and it hit him again that something was off. Why would Frankie be surprised that Miss Bea was having a meltdown? Frankie—bold, brash Frankie—had been told to leave Manny alone. By Shaw himself, no less.
    Miss Bea’s tight voice whistled through his ears. “Mr. Maguire. A word. Now.”
    He wanted to tell Miss Bea to calm down. He wanted to tell Frankie to take life seriously. Hell, what he really wanted was to jump in his Jeep and get the hell out of Shaw Valley. But gigs were few and far between up here, and if he was going to buy his own spread, he needed steady work.
    He turned and faced Miss Bea. “Everything is under control.”
    Her mouth puckered. She marched across the gravel and got up in his grill. “You left her with Manny. Mr. Shaw will not be happy about this.”
    She was always very free with pronouncements of what would make Shaw happy. Just once, Seth wanted to hear from Shaw himself. In fact, he’d pay a day’s wages for the pleasure. “I can handle Frankie.” He narrowed his eyes into Miss Bea’s, daring her to argue.
    A gray, unkempt eyebrow rose. “ Miss Frances is not to

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