This will probably be the final teaser from Stained Blood. At least until I’m making the final edits to it. I’ll have it polished and hopefully sent to betas by the end of this week. My CP also said she should have Flames of Renewal(Flames #2) back to me sometime this week. So, I’ll be working on edits for that shortly. but, one more piece of Barrett & Deryn’s story.
Barrett sank into a chair, unsure how much of the truth he should include. He kept his words clipped, even though he feared it would alert the sheriff. He couldn’t force himself to keep up his usual garrulous image. “He’s got a poster with Deryn’s likeness. Says her name is Adara Monihan. She’s his sister-in-law.” His jaw tightened, and he opened and closed his fists a couple times until he forced himself to relax it. “What he’s accusing her of…I won’t say she’s innocent, but it’s not what he makes it out to be.”
The sheriff’s face hardened. “What’s she accused of, Kline? I don’t want to be harboring an outlaw in my town.”
Barrett let out a brief snort. “Outlaw? You’ve looked at her, right? Does she look like an outlaw to you, Carl? Would you have called Leah one if she’d managed to bash one of her captors over the head and escape before we got to her?” He didn’t want to tell Deryn’s truth, whatever it was. But, he did want to get his point across.
Now, the man’s face paled a little. “Of course not, Barrett. She would have done what she had to to survive.”
He gave a short nod. “As did Deryn. If you hand her over to him, I fear she wouldn’t even make it to the railroad.”
Carl laced his fingers behind his head and leaned back in his chair. “It’s no secret in this town you’ve started courting her, Kline. How do I know you are not trying to cover for her.”
Barrett pushed to his feet. “You would ask that of me?”
“Well, your own father did help cover up nearly half a dozen killings. Could say it runs through the blood.”
Flames consumed him as he stood there staring at the sheriff. He grew so hot, the edge of his vision became a red haze. “You would ask that of me?” he questioned again. “Didn’t I do whatever it took to find Leah when my own brother would have had you railroad an innocent man? Didn’t I testify to everything I knew and suspected my own blood had done? Yet, still you believe mine is tainted.”
I have another teaser from Stained Blood for you today. I will probably have one more before this goes off to beta readers. Then, I’m hoping I’ll also have Flames of Renewal back from my critique partner by then, so I can start sharing from that. Or In the Moonlight if I get started editing that. We’ll have to see how things go.
Anyway, for today here’s a bit from Chapter 8 and a glimpse of Deryn’s back story.
Once Barrett left, Aileen turned toward Deryn, raising one eyebrow. “What was that about?”
“Nothing.” Deryn dropped her gaze to the floor. “Where do you want me to put this?” she asked, reaching for the satchel Barrett set beside the door.
Aileen waved her hand. “Leave it for now. I made some tea. I’d love for you to join me for some.”
Deryn stared at her for a moment. “Don’t you want me to do anything?”
“Yes. Join me for tea.”
Deryn laughed softly, even though her stomach swam. “This job will be easy if that is what is expected of me.” Much better than what her husband and his brother had expected her to do. That thought made her sick, so she pushed it away.
“For today anyway. If you ask my husband, he may tell you I am not always so easy to get along with.”
“Will I be meeting him?”
“He’ll be here for dinner tonight. You’ll be taking your meals here, so of course you’ll meet him.” Deryn followed her into the parlor where a pot and two steaming cups sat. “I do not know how you take your tea.”
Deryn sat on the couch and dropped a cube of sugar in her cup and lifted it to her lips. They sipped tea in silence for a few minutes before Aileen asked, “What of you? I noticed Barrett called you Mrs. Glas. So, there’s a Mr. Glas.”
She bobbled the cup of tea but managed to set it back on the saucer and onto the table without spilling any on herself. “No,” she said, a little breathless. “My husband, he’s dead.”
“I’m so sorry, dear.” Aileen’s face softened. “How did it happen? Was he ill?”
Deryn shook her head. “He…fell.” After she’d swung the cast iron lantern at his head. “He injured his head,” she added when Aileen kept looking at her. “I had to leave. I didn’t have anyone to turn to.”
I’m back with another teaser from Stained Blood. This one is just about ready to go out to betas. Then another round of edits and hopefully ready for release this summer. For today, here’s a bit from Chapter 4:
Barrett stepped out of the church and glanced around. He could have sworn he’d seen Deryn near the back of the church when he’d stood up after the service. He’d had to stick around and usher everyone out. Now she seemed to be gone.
Maybe it had been some wishful thinking. He didn’t see any sign of her out here.
“Who are you looking for, brother-in-law?”
He turned and Adam grinned at him. He still wasn’t used to seeing that expression on the man’s face. Leah seemed to bring it out in him a lot.
“A woman,” Barrett said, and Adam laughed.
“I thought you usually knew where to find one of them. What’s the matter? All the saloons kick you out?”
Something twisted through him even though he deserved the jab. He’d spent more time in the saloons during the last half a year than anywhere else. Granted, he did usually end up leaving with more money than he’d walked in with, even after dropping a good portion on whiskey and a woman for the night.
“Not that kind of woman,” he said, his voice tight. The surprise came into Adam’s eyes. He wasn’t sure if it was the words, or the tone of his voice. It didn’t matter. “I saw her at the back of the church right after the wedding. She’s gone now.”
“Well, who is it? I’m sure we can find someone who saw where she went.”
Barrett shook his head. “She’s new in town. Came in on the stage with Will and Maggie. I don’t think she knows anybody.”
“Maybe you should ask them. Maybe they spoke to her and know why she’s here. Maggie’s always been the friendly type.”
Something flashed again in Adam’s eyes, but it passed even quicker this time. Adam had spent quite a few years on Maggie’s father’s ranch. Barrett wondered if there was more between them than growing up together. He supposed it didn’t matter, as they were both married now to different people and living far away from each other.
Adam loved his sister, but if he ever did anything to betray her, Barrett would end him. No matter how good of friends they’d become.
I’m back with another Teaser Tuesday post for Stained Blood. I should be finishing up the rewrites for it this week. Then, I have to comb through for all the crutch words I tend to use, and other weaknesses. And then I can send it on to beta readers. I have one lined up(as she’s read the first two books in the series), and I may send it back to my CP as well since I’ve made quite a few changes. So, I’m hoping for a summer release.
He didn’t even know where to find the man. But if he was staying in town, he knew one person who would know. The livery stable was the only place to board his horse. So, unless he kept him hitched to a rail along the street, he’d be there. And Jacob would likely know where to find him.
He hadn’t spoken to Jacob since the day he’d found him in the stable with Matthew. Barrett was still sure he hadn’t seen what his mind told him he had. There had to be another explanation. But, he couldn’t get it from Jacob if the other man never spoke to him again.
When he stepped into the stable, he only saw Al standing there. “Is Jacob around?” he asked the older man.
The hostler shook his head. “He ain’t been home for a couple days. You know how he is. He’ll show up sooner or later.”
Except Jacob had said he was going to stick around town now. So he’d have a better image for the election. That didn’t seem to have lasted long, though. Was it because Barrett had seen him here with Matthew? Was there more going on there? He shook off that thought and turned away.
“Was there something I could help you with, Barrett?” Al asked.
He hesitated. Al might have the information he was looking for. “You seen that new man in town?” he asked. “Hector Monihan. He’s posing as a deputy sheriff.”
“Seen him,” Al said, spitting on the ground between them.
“You know where he’s staying?”
Al shook his head. “And I’d suggest you stay far away from him. He’s made his feelings on you and you protecting that woman well known. Be careful.”
“That woman’s my wife now, Al. And I’ll do what I need to protect her. If you hear anything, let me know.”
But, he was pretty sure it would be best if he got Deryn out of town for a couple days at least.
I’m back with another Teaser Tuesday from Stained Blood. This comes from another new scene I’ve added into the story. Barrett’s about to learn something new about his friend, though he’s not quite ready to process it yet.
Matthew reclined back against a mound of hay, his hair was mussed, his cheeks flushed a bright red. And his lips looked swollen. A couple buttons were undone on his shirt, the material gaping where others were in the wrong holes. Barrett knew that look. Barrett had sported that look often enough himself.
Then, he turned his head and stared at Jacob. His dark hair was mussed as well, sticking up at angles as if it had been pulled that way. Where Matthew’s face was flushed, his was pale. Only one button of his shirt was buttoned, the rest gaping open, and that certainly looked like a bite right below his collarbone.
Barrett shook his head as his mind tried to put the pieces together. He took a step back, his head still shaking from one side to the other. No. He hadn’t seen what his eyes told him he had. Only one thing made one look like that. And there was no woman in sight.
“Barrett, where are you going?” Jacob asked. Even his lips looked like the color had drained from them.
“Out. I need to get out of here.” He couldn’t even think about this right now. Not at all.
“You aren’t…you’re not going to tell anyone. Are you?” His voice quivered as if he feared the answer to that.
“What would I tell them, Jacob?” he asked. “I don’t know a damn thing.”
Just what was going on before Barrett arrived? What will Barrett do with this information? How will Jacob act around him now? All things I’m trying to work into the following scenes(since this wasn’t in the first version…Jacob didn’t really start talking to me until I’d finished it).
I’m back with another teaser from Stained Blood. This one comes right after last week’s.
Carl was scowling now as Jacob continued to talk. His gaze shifted to his son then back to the man challenging him. “You can’t really mean to do this,” he finally said.
“I do,” Jacob insisted. “You’ve had your chance with this town. Now, I think it’s time for something different.”
“You’ll never convince this town you have its best interests in mind. You’re nothing but a shiftless rambler. Everyone knows it. You have to stick around town to be able to protect it.”
Barrett watched every muscle in Jacob’s neck and face tighten. “There’s a lot you don’t know about me, sheriff, if that’s what you really believe. And there’s a lot more to keeping the people in this town safe than just pinning a badge on your chest and kicking your feet up on the desk in there.”
Carl’s face went red at that, and Barrett jumped in. “That’s great, Jacob. I’m glad you took my advice and decided to run in this race.” He turned to look at the sheriff. “After all, what kind of race would it be if you were running all by yourself?”
Carl turned his scowl on Barrett, but it seemed to disarm him at the same time. The red faded from his face and his breathing settled, his fists finally unclenching. “I can’t stop you,” he spit into the dirt at Jacob’s feet. “But don’t think it will be so easy to best me.”
So, is change going to come to this town? Or will everything end up staying the same?
I have another teaser for you from Stained Blood. This is another new scene for this draft. There are spoilers for Stained by Ashes if you haven’t read it and plan to.
He shouldn’t be worrying about it so much. It was not his problem to find a solution for. His father was gone, likely in California right now. Unless he’d gotten off the train somewhere else. It didn’t matter, as long as he wasn’t back here. Louis was dead and buried, his wife, Lorena back with her family in Nebraska. At least the last he heard she was. And Leah was married to Adam. No longer his problem.
Leah had never actually been a problem for him. But, she wasn’t a worry for him anymore either. The only one he had to worry about now was himself. He snorted at that thought. His father would have said that was the only person he’d ever worried about.
Sometimes he worried his father was right.
Something down the street caught his attention. Jacob was standing down in the street, his hands on someone’s shoulders. Matthew, he realized after a moment. He was the only man in town who dressed any dandier than Barrett himself. Barrett smiled a little at that thought and brushed a hand down his brocade vest. He started toward them then realized they were arguing. Jacob shook his head vigorously, but Matthew nodded and put his hands on Jacob’s shoulders. Then, he cupped the other man’s neck, only for an instant. Then, they were stepping back from each other, Jacob’s shoulders slumping slightly.
What had just gone on between them? Barrett couldn’t put his finger on it. But, something had definitely happened.
So what is going on between those two? What is Barrett worrying about?
Back with another teaser from Stained Blood. I’ve been making progress on adding words to the next draft. A little more than 3000 words this month. I’m hoping to have this done by the end of March then off to beta readers. For today, I have some words I just wrote this morning.
He stepped down into the street and headed toward the stable. Maybe he just needed to get out of town for a little while. It wouldn’t solve any of his problems, but maybe he could think if he didn’t feel like everyone was watching him so carefully. Like they were just waiting for him to turn into his father or older brother.
How long would it take for them to believe he wasn’t like them? How long would it take for him to believe it?
He shook away that thought. He knew he wasn’t them. But, that fear lingered. He couldn’t drown it even with bottles and bottles of whiskey. He’d certainly tried over the last several months.
No more. He had to find a better way of dealing with the rioting storm inside him. Even if that meant galloping his horse across the hills until they were both worn down. He’d saddle up now and not return until the sun was setting if that was what it took.
Barrett stepped into the stable and saw Jacob first. Only a moment later he noticed the other figure standing there. And another moment before he recognized Matthew Johnson, the sheriff’s oldest son and only one from his first marriage. A woman he’d lost around the same time Barrett’s father had moved them to the territory.
Matthew hadn’t been around town for a while. There were stories of where he might be, as there usually were. Barrett wasn’t going to try to guess which ones were true. He always figured it would be easier to just ask. “Matthew,” he greeted. “I wasn’t aware you were in town.”
“Just arrived on this morning’s stage,” he said, not quite meeting his eyes. Neither did Jacob. Which was quite odd indeed. “I should be going, Jacob. See if my father is up to a visit with me.”
There was some strain there, but Barrett was unaware of what had caused it. And it wasn’t his issue to worry about. Jacob nodded and patted the other’s man’s arm as he stepped away. “Where has he been?” Barrett asked when it was only the two of them again.
“He was writing for a paper over in Lincoln. He’s been in Caspar the last few weeks, though. I don’t know how long he plans to stay in town. It may depend on how his father receives him.”
There was something in Jacob’s voice that Barrett just couldn’t place. And he wasn’t going to strain to figure it out. Not his business, he reminded himself. Jacob was a friend, but if he didn’t want to confide in Barrett there wasn’t anything he could do about it.
“I was going to take my horse out,” he told the other man.
“I’ll get him for you.”
“I can take care of it.” He knew it might be part of Jacob’s job, but he was perfectly capable of doing this himself.
“I know you can. But, I wished to speak to you anyway.”
Just what secrets are being kept around here? And what’s up with Matthew? I’ll let you know…when I find out. 😉 He just showed up during this draft. I know some of what’s going on but as usual my characters like to keep some things from me until they’re good and ready to let me know. 🙂
I know, I haven’t done a Teaser Tuesday post for a while. I haven’t really had one close enough to ready to go. But, I have gotten Stained Blood back from my critique partner and re-plotted it and have now started writing new scenes for it. So for now, I’ll be sharing from it for the next little while. First, the new opening:
Barrett Kline stared out the window at the now empty ranch yard. The cattle were all gone, either driven to the stock yards or sold to another ranch. Almost all the horses, too. His neighbor, Patrick Bailey had taken the best of them to add to his own remuda.
He’d found buyers for the others, except for the one he had kept for himself. And that was all there was to it. The only thing left was to move on from this. The ranch was sold, pieced off to other ranchers, to homesteaders, to whoever had wanted to purchase the lots.
He smiled a little. Offering parcels to homesteaders had been a bit of poetic justice to his mind. Since it had been what had brought everything crashing down for his family. He’d felt those just trying to make their own from the land deserved it the most after what his brother had done.
He’d thought getting rid of the ranch would be easy. Hadn’t expected that there would be some things he’d miss about it.
Barrett turned to face the woman in the doorway. “Lizbeth,” he greeted the maid. “I thought I gave all the servants the day off. I don’t know what the man who bought the ranch will do, but there’s nothing for you here right now.”
Her face fell. He wasn’t sure if it was because he referred to her as a servant—she’d been a lot more than that to him a few times. Or if it was another reminder that he was leaving this place. Lord, he really didn’t want to do this again.
“You’re still here,” she said softly.
So, they were going to do this again. As much as he didn’t want to. “I won’t be for long,” he said. “You knew this was coming. I explained months ago I couldn’t stay here any longer.”
“I still hoped you would change your mind.”
He shook his head. “I can’t do it, Lizbeth. I will drown here, and I may very well take you with me.”
She looked at him, confused. “There is little water around here. Not unless you go all the way out to the stream. I can give you reason to stay close to the house,” she said, giving him a saucy smile.
Barrett couldn’t help but smile back at her and her vixen act. He could see to the fear under it, to the lonely girl she’d been without parents when she’d first come to work for them. The one afraid yet one more person would leave her. Just like she’d always been able to see under his own mask. But, that wasn’t what he needed right now. He just needed to be gone. And Lizbeth couldn’t help him with that.
“As tempting as that sounds,” he said, making sure his voice and smile stayed soft— he didn’t want to hurt her— as he moved around her, “I can’t stay, Lizbeth. I’ll be staying in town for a little while. At least through Leah’s wedding. You can find me there if you wish.”
Her lips turned down into a pout. At one time he’d loved to kiss that look off her, but he just couldn’t bring himself to now. He left the study and headed for the front door. Like the rest of the servants, he’d given the stable boy the day off. Days off, really, until the new owner showed up. So, he’d have to saddle his own horse. He’d already sent most of his things ahead to the hotel. Mostly just his clothes and books. He had his favored pack of cards in this saddlebags.
He didn’t see what else he could need.
I don’t currently have a release date. I still have to finish rewrites and send it through betas. But, I’m hoping for late spring/early summer.