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Let’s do the disclaimer 1st. Trickle of Lies. Copyright 2023. All rights reserved.

Prologue

 “Vultures, every last bone-picking one of them.”

Kyra Malone muttered as she stared at the Austin political elite. Draped in designer trends, with their simpering Botox smiles, the desperate-to-see-and-be-seen were the ideal version of Hell: Texas-style.

Disgusted, Kyra lifted her glance away from the flock’s annoying presence and toward the weeping pewter sky. That one heavenward look was as close as she’d ever come to angels singing and streets of gold.

People who killed their best friends . . . or at least, got them killed weren’t welcomed among harps and fluffy white wings.    

“Anna would want you to have this.” An older woman, shrouded in mourning black and tears, lovingly known to all as Mama P pressed a token into her hand.

Carefully, Kyra cupped the gift. One of her friend’s most treasured possessions—the golden coin necklace surrounded by tiny baguette diamonds. From one treasure to another, Kyra focused on Mama P. Bruises of grief shadowed her normally ageless complexion. The loss of her only daughter, the ridiculous parade of state officials offering trite condolences then a brutal finality buried beneath a marble headstone—all had etched lines of sorrow on Anna’s mom face. One more bale of guilt that Kyra carried in her wagon.

Suppressed tears, days of them, scalded Kyra’s throat. Seconds ticked into a harsh minute before she shoved away the weakness and instead focused on the small auburn-haired child nuzzled against her legs. Petite, delicate fingers trustingly burrowed against her palm, and she tightened her hold to give sanctuary to the child with her grip.

“It’s time for the two of you to go,” she told Mama P. “Your bags and Kendra’s are already in the car. Snacks, toys, everything she needs. No stopping for sightseeing.” She tweaked the girl’s silky ponytail and swallowed a fresh surge of tears. “And you, missy, don’t give Gram too much trouble.”

“Kyra, this whole . . .” she waved a hand toward the waiting cars, “scheme sounds just shy of crazy. You plan on waving smoke under a hornet’s nest, honey. Those no-goods over at the Capitol will swarm with stingers at the ready.” Mama P. battled the point, again. “Some people think just because they walk hallowed halls with their sanctimonious swagger, it puts them above the law.” The older woman’s round cheeks creased with worry. “They may be right, Kyra. Promise me, you’ll walk away if it becomes too dangerous.”

A moment of quiet hung heavy between the two women. It had already become too dangerous. Anna’s death was proof of that. What Kyra planned might be rash on the best Sunday, but it was blatant career suicide come any Monday morning if she didn’t succeed. Irrelevant. Anna’s murder demanded justice. A debt was due, and Kyra planned to collect.

Bending, she kissed the child then glanced between the faces of the two people she truly loved and did the only thing possible—she lied.

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