I have another snippet from Stained Snow this week. Trouble is coming even if none of the characters have realized it yet.
William stood in front of the door while Anna pinned the badge to his shirt. The weight of it already pulled down on him. He was a rancher, not a lawman. The sheriff rarely called on him if it wasn’t necessary. He didn’t understand why this time was necessary, though. Why someone else couldn’t do it.
Anna ran her hand down his chest once she had the badge safely fastened on. “I don’t want to leave you,” he murmured.
She lifted her face to his. “I don’t want you to go.”
He pulled her into his arms. “I’m sorry, Anna. I should have told him no.”
She shook her head then laid it on his chest. “No. He needs to go back, and Carl knows you’ll get him there. Hurry back to us, Will.”
He pushed a strand of hair behind her ear before brushing his lips over hers. “That I will do.”
He turned to where David pulled on a boot. His heart hammered in his chest, like it tried to push up into his throat. “What are you doing, David?”
“I’m going with you, Pa,” the boy said without looking up.
“No.” The one word was harsher than he’d meant it, but he said it again, softer but just as firm. “No, David. You’re staying here with your Ma.”
“You said I could go to the fort with you sometime.” His voice quivered.
He had meant in a few more years and when he helped Patrick drive some horses there. “Not this time, David. We’re not taking horses to them. The man I’m taking is dangerous. I don’t want him anywhere near you.” William squatted down so he was eye level with his son and saw the moisture gathering in the boy’s eyes. “I’ll only be gone a few days, but I need you to take care of things while I’m gone. Can you do that for me?”
The boy nodded. William glanced up to Anna smiling at him. She didn’t need anyone to take care of her. Certainly not a five-year-old boy. It would give him a good reason for staying behind though, and a certain sense of responsibility.
He stood back up and gave Anna one last kiss. He squeezed David’s shoulder before turning and walking out to the horse he had already saddled. He swung into the saddle and turned the horse’s head away from the house. As he started down to the road away from his home, he turned his head to look back once. His wife and son stood together, watching him leave.
Still hoping to have this out before the end of the year. As long as I have it back from my beta reader by the end of October, I should be able to make that happen. Keeping my fingers crossed that works out.