Say hello to Lazarus by Beth Williamson

Hey y’all, Beth Williamson here!

Hard to believe it’s September already, right? Time has flown past this year.

In case you missed it, I published my first contemporary novella of the Graham family descendants. The series is CIRCLE EIGHT MILLENNIUM. Laz’s story was in the Cowboy Justice 12 pack and is now released for your reading pleasure!

Lazarus Graham has always been the black sheep of his family. Leaving behind the ranch his family had owned for nearly 200 years, he lives life as a Texas Ranger. Tough, hard and inflexible, he has no time for life’s fripperies.

Beatrice Cartwright never expected to run into her childhood nemesis again. Yet Laz Graham sauntered into her store to investigate a crime nearby. Then the man had the nerve to not remember her.

Being a Graham isn’t easy, and it’s about to get a lot harder for one stubborn lawman and the woman who still owns his heart.

And now for an excerpt!!

****

Laz didn’t know whether to howl or curse a blue streak. Beatrice goddamn Carmichael. He should have remembered the store belonged to her parents, but since he and his sisters hadn’t frequented the gun shop much as kids, he’d rarely stepped foot inside. Until the moment he saw the girl who had hated him since they were eight.

Fuck.

“What the hell do you want?” Her sharp whiskey voice cut through him.

“I’m looking for the owner.” That sounded as stupid as a bag of hammers.

“You’re looking at her. Now get out.” She waved a ratty-looking flyswatter toward the door. “Two steps behind you.”

“No.”

Her blonde brows went up toward that frizzy halo of hair. Freckles still smattered across her nose and cheeks. And the one feature he could never quite forget, those beautiful breasts, strained against a Firefly T-shirt that had seen better days.

Jesus please us. She was still a knockout, not that he would ever tell her that. Bea hated him almost as much as he disliked her. It annoyed the hell out of him that he found her hot and sexy.

“You do realize this is a gun store? I am armed.” She gestured to her waist. “At all times.”

Any Texan worth his salt had a gun handy, but she took it to another level. The woman knew more about guns, weapons, and their capabilities than any person in Brier Creek. She’d threatened more than once to shoot his balls off.

Laz needed to get control of the situation and his reaction. So he pulled out the only tool left in his arsenal, being a hard-ass cop.

“Miss, are you threatening an officer of the law? You do realize that’s a crime.” He put his hands on his hips. “I’m here to investigate. If you are the owner, then I suggest you work with me. I’m Ranger Graham.”

The shock on her face gave way to disbelief and then finally to cold anger. “Are you trying to tell me you don’t know who I am?”

“If you’re the owner of this shop, I suggest you enlighten me as to who you are.” He crossed his arms and widened his stance. Cool and calm on the outside, rioting emotions deep inside. He wouldn’t, couldn’t, let any of that out. He needed to do his job and get out of there as soon as possible. If his family knew he was in Brier Creek without stopping at the Circle Eight, the hell that would rain down on him would scorch the earth.

“You’re still an asshole, Lazarus Matthew Graham.” She slapped the flyswatter on her leg. “My name is Beatrice Cartwright and I own this shop. Somebody broke in, then proceeded to destroy every piece of glass and steal about five grand in stock.” She waved her arm at the visible damage. “If you’re investigating, then get it done then get the hell out.”

Laz touched the brim of his hat then pulled the notebook out of his shirt pocket. He walked around the store creating a diagram of the interior and noting the damage done. If someone could have flames shoot from their eyes, Bea would certainly have done it. His back burned from the heat of her gaze.

Or perhaps it was guilt.

The truth was, he had made mistakes from the time they had been children. She had always set him off balance and that pricked his pride. Therefore he’d acted like an ass. He’d never apologized for any of his stupidity, which just made things worse. In a perfect world, they might have been friends, or more. Instead they were two people who sniped at each other, never to be more than impolite strangers.

Too bad she was friends with all three of his sisters, particularly Rose. At least he thought they were still friends. Laz hadn’t been back to Brier Creek in almost ten years. Now he’d stepped into the past and opened himself up to a shit storm from multiple directions.

“What time did you close the store the night of the burglary?”

She harrumphed. “Same time as I always do. Six o’clock.”

“Do you have surveillance cameras?” He pointed at the obvious domes on the ceiling. “Or is that for show?”

Her expression hardened. “Yes, I have surveillance. I installed it myself.”

“I have the owner as Patrick Cartwright. Is he here to corroborate your information?”

Her mouth dropped open. “Are you kidding me? Are you fucking kidding me?”

Laz had deliberately closed himself off from Brier Creek and everyone he’d grown up with. He was the black sheep of the great Graham legacy. The rancher’s son who refused to be a rancher. Apparently he’d missed a few bits of information, such as what happened to Bea’s father.

“I’m going by the information the dispatcher had—”

“Shut up, Laz. Just shut up.” She ran her hand down her face and stepped around from behind the display. Bea wore a pair of shorts that revealed more than they covered. His attraction to her hadn’t disappeared and now it notched up even farther.

Shit.

“If you had bothered to come home in the last decade, you’d know that my parents were killed in a plane crash. Both of them died when I was twenty. I’ve been the owner of this shop for eight years. Me. Your dispatcher is an idiot.” She walked through the dark blue curtain covering a doorway and disappeared.

Laz let out a long breath. He’d intended to do his job and leave. When he had been assigned to investigate the crime, which was a string of smash and grabs in the county, he had resisted. A lie. He hadn’t resisted, he’d refused. Then his boss told him in no uncertain terms, he wasn’t allowed to say no. So he had to drive back to Brier Creek, the town he’d avoided since he was eighteen.

Here Laz was, now distracted by a woman who hated him but whom he could spend a week in bed with, and the impending doom of his family discovering he was in town. It wasn’t a comfortable place to be.

****

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2 Responses to Say hello to Lazarus by Beth Williamson

  1. Cheryl Lemon says:

    I loved this story. I may have to read it again.

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