Sketcher in The RyeMy name is Celeste Higgs and I’m pleased to meet all of you. When Dru Ann asked me to tell you about a typical day in my life, I hesitated. You see my days have recently undergone quite a remarkable change. Having reached the age of majority, I decided to leave my aunt’s home in St. Louis to experience life out in the untamed West with my father, Clarence. When I was still a young girl my mother was taken by the cancer, and my father sent me to my mother’s sister to be raised in a more protected and genteel environment. I didn’t want to go, to leave the one parent I still had, but as an adult I’ve come to understand that it was not an act of abandonment, but rather one of selflessness. His decision provided me with the finest education a woman could want, as well as the loving care of my mother’s large family.

In any case, I yearned to know my father as more than the man whose letters arrived in our mail box each week without fail. I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about the trip to Tucson, because I had no idea how well my father and I would get on after so much time apart. It turned out I needn’t have worried. The moment I saw him all the years of separation fell away. It was an emotional reunion for both of us, because as we hugged I felt his tears upon my cheek.

My father made his living as a tailor, and I had taken to designing and sewing my own clothes by the time I was twelve. So it wasn’t long before we fell into a companionable routine of working side by side and getting to know one another again. I found life in Tucson to be simpler, but not without its charms. Since it was a small town, I met nearly every soul who resided there in short order and found most of them to be likeable. I didn’t miss the hustle and bustle of the big city or the constant social demands on my time. Of course living in the Wild West, which is what the newspapers like to call the Territories, there was the occasional gunfight, bank robbery, horse theft and cattle poaching, not to mention the fairly common display of fisticuffs, the latter generally fueled by too much alcohol. But beneath its veneer of civility, St. Louis could hardly claim to be crime free.

With two of us to shoulder the work, my father and I were able to whittle away at the large pile of garments that needed repair as well as the orders for new clothing. We’d break at noon to lunch on leftovers from the previous night’s dinner before going back downstairs to continue our work. Our days were peaceful, punctuated by the arrival of customers who stayed to chat for a few minutes and pass on whatever news or gossip was making the rounds.

Each time my father introduced me to another of his regulars his chest swelled with pride and his eyes twinkled with a happiness that couldn’t help but gladden my heart. But it wasn’t long before my father began to fret about the lack of decent young men to court me. With tears in his eyes, he talked about sending me back to St. Louis to find a suitable prospect for marriage. Although I didn’t share his concerns, I was having a hard time trying to change his mind. Then one morning, fate stepped in. I like to think that my mother had a hand in it. I was working in the back of the store when my father called me to join him up front. I pulled aside the curtain that separated the workspace from the front counter of the shop and found my father with another customer he wanted me to meet. That was the day I first laid eyes on federal marshal Zeke Drummond. And I knew without question that my days would never be the same again.

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Sharon is giving away one (1) copy of any of the first three print books in the “Portrait of Crime” series (U.S. entries only) or an Amazon gift card (open to all). Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. Contest ends December 24.


Meet the author
Sharon’s first novel, Ghostfire, was also condensed in Redbook magazine, the first paperback original the magazine had ever condensed. Then came The God Children and The Portal. After taking a hiatus from writing to deal with some life challenges, she began the second phase of her career with the paranormal/cozy mystery series “A Portrait of Crime,” for Berkley Prime Crime.

Sketch Me if You Can, To Sketch a Thief and Sketch a Falling Star are the first three books in that series. Now the whole “Sketch” gang is back in Sketcher in the Rye.

The first book in her Crystal Shop Mysteries, Alibis and Amethysts was released over the summer by Berkley Intermix.

Visit Sharon at her www.sharonpape.com

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