A Madness of Sunshine Page 2

As he disappeared behind it, she tried to imagine what it would be like to walk into the cabin after all this time. She couldn’t. All she could see was her last glimpse of it, the floor scrubbed of blood and the ladder taken away to be crushed in a compactor.

The cop looked around the side of the hood. “Try it now.”

She did so without hope and the engine caught. Not smiling at her shouted thanks, he unhooked and closed the hood before finally coming around to her window. “It doesn’t look like anything major,” he said, “but if you intend to drive through more of the West Coast, you should have a mechanic check it out.”

It was good advice; these roads were exacting. It wasn’t that they were in bad ­condition—­for being in the middle of nowhere, the roads were just fine. But they were empty. Long stretches of nothing but wilderness and water; break down in one of those areas and there was no guarantee anyone would come along for hours. As for cell signals, the mountains played havoc with them.

“I’m going to the Cove,” she told him. “Does Peter still work in the garage?” Maybe her old schoolmate had gone on to bigger and better things by now.

Raising an eyebrow, the cop nodded. “It’s not tourist season. You here to do a retreat with Shane Hennessey?”

Josie had told Anahera about the famed Irish writer who’d relocated to Golden Cove. “No,” Anahera said. “I’m coming home. Thank you again.” She rolled up the window before he could ask any more questions.

But this man, he wasn’t someone she could simply ignore. He knocked on the glass politely after taking off his sunglasses to reveal slate gray eyes as dark as the clouds gathering on the horizon.

When she lowered her window a fraction, he said, “I’ll follow behind you, make sure you get in okay.”

“Knock yourself out,” she said, not certain why she was being so antago­nistic to someone who’d helped her.

Maybe it was knowing she was driving back into the past.

She pulled out.

In the rearview mirror, she saw the cop take his time getting into his vehicle. Then she turned the corner and he was gone. But his SUV reappeared behind her soon enough, and then their party of two made its way into a town founded on a golden illusion.

The miners had thought they’d find gold here, find riches, find a future. Instead, they’d found nothing but a harsh and unforgiving landscape with water as treacherous as the rocks that crushed so many of them one after the other.



Will followed the unfamiliar vehicle through the heavily ­tree-­shadowed road that led into Golden Cove. There was nowhere else to go from this point.

The town’s ­self-­appointed business council might have managed to get up a few signs, but come winter and even those signs wouldn’t help those new to the area find the place Will had called home for the past three months. It wasn’t surprising that he didn’t recognize the ­dark-­eyed woman with wavy black hair and striking cheekbones that pushed against skin of midbrown.

The skin was smooth but the eyes old.

Late twenties or very early thirties, he guessed, likely a child of Golden Cove who’d lit out of here the instant she was legal and who was returning to pay a visit to a parent or grandparent. You’d think with the town’s younger residents almost universally restless, just itching to leave, the place would be a retirement ­village—­but that was the strange thing with Golden Cove. It seemed to draw back its prodigals.

Peter Jacobs, the garage owner she’d mentioned, had spent six years working for a Formula One team and traveling the world before he landed back in the Cove. When asked why he’d given up his glamorous life in favor of running the family garage with his aging father and resentful younger brother, he just shrugged and said that a man got tired of Ferraris and wanted to return to the ocean.

Peter, however, had only been back for less than a year, and yet the woman with the car trouble had asked if Peter was “still” working in the garage, which meant she’d last been in Golden Cove at least seven years earlier.

Will’s eyes narrowed: the woman and Peter might even be the same age or close to it. Could be they’d been schoolmates. And what, he asked himself, did it all matter? It wasn’t as if he’d been dumped in Golden Cove to be a detective. He might hold the rank, but he’d been placed here as the community’s sole policeman because he’d become a problem for the ­force—­but was too decorated and senior an officer to simply fire. So instead, they’d put him out to pasture in Golden Cove and forgotten about him.

That was fine with Will. Prior to being offered this job, he’d been planning to quit. Since his plan after quitting had involved any remote job he could get his hands on, he’d thought why the hell not just bury himself in a ­sole-­charge station that covered a sprawling geographic area but involved only a very small number of people?

There were far more trees in his patrol area than human residents.

Most of the folk in Golden Cove let him be, and the odd time that he did have to step in, it was usually to break up a bar fight or calm down a neighborhood dispute. Yesterday, he’d had to handcuff a drunk to a chair until the other man was sober enough to be dropped home.

Will didn’t have a jail.

And so far, no Golden Cove problems had justified formal charges. Come summer, with tourists pouring in for various adventure activities thanks to the region’s advertising campaign over the past couple of years, and he’d probably have more trouble. Which was also why the town now had a police officer. The regional tourism bodies had apparently gone apoplectic about a couple of tourists who’d gotten beaten up in Golden Cove after dark.

Bad for business to have visitors posting photos of black eyes and broken ribs instead of the bleak scenery, dangerous cliff climbs, or local cuisine.

So now Golden Cove had Will.

The first small home appeared on the right, complete with a white picket fence and hardy wildflowers in a neatly tended garden. Mrs. Keith sat on her rocker out front, her girth overflowing the white wood of it and her face a pale moon surrounded by a halo of teased black. Pink lipstick slashed across her mouth, her plump fingers bejeweled when she raised her hand in a wave.

Will didn’t know if the curt woman in the Jeep waved back, but he raised his hand.

The next house was on the left, this one as ramshackle as Mrs. Keith’s was immaculate. Peeling blue paint, a ­wheel­less car rusting in the front yard, grass as high as his calves. On the front stoop sat a ­good-­looking man with ­nut-­brown skin, a cigarette in hand and his face tattooed with a full tā moko that might’ve been traditional, but that tended to make strangers wary. It didn’t help that Nikau Martin consistently wore ripped black jeans, shitkickers, and T-­shirts imprinted with the Hells Angels logo.

Right now, the other man’s dark eyes were following the green Jeep.

Will paused in front of the rickety gate.

Nikau got up and sauntered over to jump the gate. Leaning his arms on the open window of Will’s SUV, he said, “I never thought I’d see Anahera back in this town.”


Will tasted the name, couldn’t decide if it fit or not. His Māori was rusty, but he thought it might mean “angel.” That suspicious woman with watchful eyes hadn’t struck him as angelic. “You know her?”

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