Inside Carmel, California's largest church, the unseasonal
early September heat opened the pores of the one-thousand-
plus gathered for Stephen Whitney's memorial service. The
mingled scents of deodorant, aftershave, hairspray, and
perfume rose above the crowd to hang like a thick cloud
over the pews, making each of Angel's breaths a struggle.
Add to the cloying humidity yet another piercing
Hallelujah!, followed by the droning voice of yet another
moralistic muckety-muck at the podium, and Angel wondered
if she'd made the short drop to her own personal hell
instead of the short drive from San Francisco. Her scalp
itched beneath her broad-brimmed black straw hat. She
pressed the fingertips of her black cotton gloves to her
upper lip to blot the moisture gathering there.
She needed air.
She needed out.
But she could hardly retreat now.
Not after pitching the idea of an in-depth profile on
Stephen Whitney in such winning tones to her editor, Jane
Hurley. Not after following that up with an interoffice e-
mail inquiring if Jane had any contacts that might be
Jane herself proved to be that -- Angel had counted on it.
While her editor was the woman who had turned West Coast
magazine from a monthly filled with decorating tips and
regional recipes into a nationally read and respected
political and cultural journal, she was also Hearst-rich
and maintained a second home on the famed Seventeen Mile
Drive. So thanks to Jane, Angel had scored one of the
scarce press passes to this memorial service, and her name
was on the short list of guests for a much more private
ceremony taking place later that day.
Nevertheless, Angel couldn't quash her serious second
thoughts about digging into Stephen Whitney's life. In the
past, she'd made it her mission to ignore anything having
to do with the "Artist of the Heart," just as he'd ignored
her when she'd so desperately needed him. Maybe she
Oh, stop being such a sissy, the journalist inside her
interrupted, there's good stuff here. A story worth
But even as another choral ensemble trooped up to the
front of the church, Angel continued to waffle. So she
settled her latest dilemma the same way she'd settled
nearly all of them since she was a lonely twelve-year- old
hooked on the video of All the President's Men.
WWWD? Angel asked herself. What Would Wood-ward Do?
And the answer was obvious, of course. Woodward would work
Inhaling a deep breath, she glanced left and appraised the
person nearest her in the second-to-the-last pew. Middle-
aged lady, politely interested expression, quiet mauve
suit. A likely source for some basic info.
Abandoning her niche at the outside corner of the pew,
Angel slid closer. The filmy chiffon overlay of her
sleeveless, little black dress floated up around her knees
and she settled it back down before catching the lady's
"Excuse me," she murmured. One of the very few things
Angel knew about the artist was that he'd married. "I
wonder if you could point out the widow."
Ms. Mauve took her time giving a less-than-neighborly once-
over, which made Angel sorry she'd tucked her hair beneath
her hat. She had yards of the curly blond stuff, and
though it was a real pain to manage, it did take ten years
off her age. That was a real blessing in the news-
gathering biz, because people tended to trust those who
looked more vulnerable than they.
It was another long moment before the woman finally
spoke. "Stephen Whitney," she said in a biting
whisper, "didn't believe in black."
Angel glanced down at her dark dress. "Oh." That explained
why she was the lone beetle among the throng of
butterflies in the room. She'd thought it was the heat
that had everyone wearing pastels. "How, uh ... colorful
When her comment did nothing to endear her to Ms. Mauve,
Angel gave up and slid back toward her corner. But instead
of the outside of her right leg finding the inside edge of
the wooden pew, it found the long, hard thigh of a man.
"Oh!" Angel exclaimed again, scooting away to stare at the
person who had invaded her corner when she wasn't
looking. "Pardon me."
He glanced at her. Well, she supposed he did. It was hard
to tell exactly what he was looking at when his eyes were
hidden behind the dark lenses of Armani sunglasses.
"Don't mention it," he said in a low voice, his attention
For some odd reason, Angel's attention stayed on him. He
must have known Stephen Whitney better than she, because
the man beside her was dressed in a butter-yellow linen
shirt and a light olive suit. Both the suit and the shirt
looked a little too big on him. He was very tan -- oh,
like, for sure, the tan, the expensive suit, and those
fancy shades just screamed Malibu Beach -- and his shiny
dark hair untidily brushed his collar in an I-don't-give-a-
damn sort of way.
As if sensing her continued regard, he turned his head her
A sharp jolt of somethingâ€”something like ... like ... uh,
recognition? -- straightened her in her seat and stirred a
sexy little tickle low in her belly. Angel barely
suppressed the sudden urge to squirm against the wooden
bench as her hormones said, Hell-o! You gotta check this
But then, thank God, in dour, sensible tones, her head
reminded the rest of her they were at a funeral. Stephen
Feeling an embarrassed flush rising up her neck, she tried
glossing over the awkward moment with a warm smile ...