This book is the second sequel of two, following Red Sky. Both stories are sequels to the book Maggie: The Early Years. This part of Maggie's life is filled with surprises as it finds her a widow a second time, alone in a large city with histerical amnesia, before she finally finds her way home to the Arizona desert again where she discovers, this late in her life, that she has fallen in love with her late husband's best friend.
Barnes & Noble.com
Maggie's life has been filled with adventure and adversity, from nearly losing her husband to a cougar attack, to her hunting the cat down on the desert and killing it. Faced with an empty nest and besieged at an early age in her middle fifties by near blindness, the effects of cataracts, life’s surprises aren’t finished with her yet. When Maggie witnesses the accident that claims her husband’s life, she is drawn into a self-protective state of hysterical amnesia. When she regains her memory and eyesight in a cold, inhospitable city, she is unexpectedly reintroduced to her childhood sweetheart, but decides to return to her ranch in the Arizona desert, and takes the homeless woman with Tourettes, who took her under her protective wing throughout her ordeal with blindness and amnesia, home with her. Once home again, Maggie is reunited with the man who has loved her for decades, her husband’s best friend. Her future appears on a brighter course with the planned wedding in the majestic canyons of the Chiricahua Mountains when the mystical bird, the Coppery Tailed Trogon, returns to nest in the month of April.
As the moon rose higher, it peeked into the canyon briefly with its orb taking on the guise of a circular tear in the imaginary, velvet-like fabric of the night sky as it peered over the edge of the canyon wall. Suddenly the burning brush settled into the red glow of hot embers at the base of the campfire. Glowing red sparks were sent swirling and darting into the air, only to be quickly swallowed up by the thick, black inkiness of the canyon beyond. It felt as though the world didn’t exist beyond the light of the fire. As though their camp were surrounded by an empty, thick void, far away from all that was familiar. Within her subdued and mesmerized state, the darkness of the canyon appeared as though it were a barrier. When sparks suddenly popped from the waving tongues of flames, they swirled swiftly into oblivion. She thought of Todd and the girls while in her trance like state, watching the flames. She hoped that Todd was resting comfortably.
Her thoughts were still with her family when she realized that the silence had been subtly invaded ever so slightly. The gentle sounds of sand and pebbles raining down came from somewhere above Chauncy, who had stretched his bedroll out beneath an overhanging outcrop of sandstone that formed a shelf and extended out from the sheer rock face of the canyon wall.
Maggie could tell from Chauncy’s deep steady breathing that he was asleep. As she strained to hear each and every sound in the quiet of the night, she detected yet another tiny avalanche of pebbles sifting their way down the alcove’s face. Cautiously feeling around for the rifle, her hand finally connected with the coldness of its barrel. Tracing down to the smooth wooden stock with her fingers, she pulled the rifle carefully onto her lap while pulling back the hammer and resting her finger gently on the trigger. Her heart was pounding wildly in her ears and her hands were shaking so badly that she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to control her finger on the trigger.
As Maggie’s eyes searched the darkness beyond the flames, the firelight suddenly illuminated the two yellow nocturnal eyes of the panther. Pulling her breath in slowly, she attempted to quiet her thundering heart. She could actually see nothing of the animal with exception to the periodic blink of its yellow orbs that glowed like embers, like bits of yellow amber in the blackness of the night. Slowly, she raised the rifle shakily to her shoulder, while attempting to line the sights and the rifle’s bead in the firelight in order to aim ever so slightly above and directly between the two blinking, yellow orbs. The image of Todd lying injured and in pain in the hospital flashed across her mind. That image gave her the courage and resolve to do what she came there to do. Holding her breath, she gently but steadily squeezed the trigger.
The rifle’s deafening report jolted Chauncy rudely from sleep. Realizing that the sound was a gunshot, he sat abruptly upright just as an avalanche of loose sandstone, and the carcass of the huge cougar, came tumbling down from the ledge above before coming to rest heavily in his lap. Startled, he leaped to his feet in an instant and jumped away from the cat that was now lying motionless among the scattered shards of sandstone on top of his bedroll.
“Eiieeee!” Chauncy emitted the surprised sound at the sight of the mountain lion. At that point he jumped even farther away from it.
Maggie let her breath out slowly, keeping the rifle sights trained on the motionless cat in the light of the fire.
Quickly retrieving a burning branch, Chauncy used it as a torch and moved closer in order to inspect the animal and make certain that it was in fact dead.
When she was certain that the Puma was dead, Maggie lowered the rifle and placed it on her bedroll before helping Chauncy drag the carcass to the edge of the camp and beyond a mound of rocks. The smell of the lion made the horses instinctively nervous and they danced and whinnied in near panic, straining at their tethers. With Maggie’s gentle tone of voice and soft coaxing strokes, the horses were soon calm and settled down again.