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Fiction Friday: Tavin & Haiwee

Last week I shared the first scene from Patrick and Sarah’s story. This week I have the first from Tavin & Haiwee’s, Adam’s parents from Stained by Ashes.

Tavin Kindrick stepped softly around the broken branch, careful to make as little sound as possible. He knew his quarry had come back this way. There was a print right there, and he’d been following the drops of blood, growing larger and more frequent the longer he followed.

He kept his rifle in front of him, scanning the trees around him. There was definite movement off to his right. And he was sure he saw the flash of a tan hide. Perfect. He levered another bullet into the chamber and took another step toward where he’d seen the movement. They needed fresh meat out at the camp. Everyone, not just him, was tired of existing on jerked beef and tins of beans.

Adding fresh venison would boost everyone’s spirits.

He brought his rifle up to his shoulder and took aim. But, the large brown eyes looking back at him didn’t belong to a doe. He kept his rifle where it was. In fact, he didn’t think a single part of him moved, even his lungs couldn’t seem to bring in or let out any air.

The girl—woman, he corrected himself—took a step back from him. And he finally dropped the barrel of the rifle down at his side. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to frighten ye, lass.”

Sounds spilled from her mouth, but none of them made any sense to him. He took his gaze over her. The black hair that hung down past her shoulders, the large brown eyes, still showing fear as she stared at him. Her skin was nearly as dark as the bark of the tree she stood next to.

Her deerskin dress was what he’d mistaken for the animal he’d been tracking. Now that he saw it more clearly, he couldn’t believe he’d made that error.

Tavin took a step toward her. “Are ye lost out here, lass? Can I help ye get back to your kin?”

“English. You speak the English. I know others.”

Tavin let out a low breath. At least he would be able to communicate with her. And that voice. It had such a beautiful sound. “Yes. Your kin? Family?” he asked when she looked at him blankly.

That brought a smile to her face. “Family, yes. I have family.”

He let out a long breath. At least she wasn’t out here all on her own. “If you tell me the way, I can make sure you get back there.” It had warmed up in recent days, but it was still too cold for a young girl to be out here on her own.

But, the girl just smiled at him. It didn’t look particularly grateful. Brighter than that, like she knew a joke he wasn’t privy to. It made the back of his neck itch, but he gestured her to join him. Instead, she turned and started hurrying over the rocks and into the next stand of trees.

“Wait,” he called after her. “Lass, wait up.” He didn’t even know her name, but he wished he could call her something other than lass.

Foregoing that, he slung his rifle down his back, and took off after her. The girl was nearly out of sight as it was. He didn’t want to lose her as he seemed to have done with the deer he’d shot. He wouldn’t forgive himself if she was injured when he’d taken her under his protection.

Tavin stumbled over a rock and landed hard on one knee. He let out a rough cry as pain sliced through it but pushed himself back to both feet. He saw the girl heading back toward him, scowling now.

“You fall?”

Tavin’s face flushed hot at her question. He didn’t need her seeing him being a lumbering oaf. Some of the men said he seemed like he was part mountain goat at times. Right now, he felt more like a bear.

“I’m fine, lass,” he said, brushing a rough hand on his knee. “Maybe I should lead the way. Make sure there is no trouble.”

One of her dark brows rose, and he wondered just how much she understood. “You find the loose rocks for me?”

To his surprise, a laugh burst out of him. She was certainly a cheeky one. Her face lit up with a grin, then she was turning away again. He was never going to be able to keep up with her at this rate, though. “Lass, wait,” he called out.

She stopped and turned back, her hands on her hips of that buckskin dress. “Go or wait?” she asked. “Can’t do both.”

“Nay, of course not. I just…maybe you should walk with me. Make sure I do not trip over those loose rocks.”

That eyebrow was raised again. Like she didn’t believe him. Well, he couldn’t really blame her. He wasn’t so sure he believed himself.

Still, she didn’t start bounding over the rocks again. She hung back so he didn’t lose sight of her. Still, the way she looked back at him made him thinks he was afraid for something to happen to him. He thought it should be the other way around.

She was just a little slip of a girl, about half the size of him. How could she think she could protect him, especially from a fall?

He should be the one protecting her. Or someone should be. Instead they were just letting her run loose out here. How could that be right?

“Does your family care for you, lass?”

She looked back at him, the space between her brows furrowed now. “What’s that mean? Care for me?”

His brow furrowed. How did he explain this to her? “They…love you. Want you to be…safe. Do you understand that?”

“Yes. Yes, they love me. They are family. You have it, too?”

She took off after asking the question, though not as quickly as before. Almost as if she was holding herself back for him. He shook his head then picked up his pace. “Had family. Back in Scotland. Brother’s still there. I came over after our parents died.”

She looked back over her shoulder at him, and he saw sympathy in her eyes. She didn’t say any words, though, just turned back and scampered over some more rocks.

Tavin let out a long breath. Then, he followed her. He hadn’t planned to be gone long. Just long enough to take down some game. He shook his head. Didn’t look like that was happening the way he’d planned.

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WeWriWa: “Always Running”

Welcome back to another visit with the Weekend Writing Warriors, the blog hop for anyone who likes to write. It’s been quite a week here. Starting off with me as a potential juror for a criminal homicide case(got excused, thank goodness) and ending with my 10 year wedding anniversary and publishing my 5th book(more on that later). But, right now, it’s time to get back to Devil and Hawk. I didn’t write a whole lot on Dance with the Devil this week, but I’m still ahead of where I’ve been posting. This is a little ahead of what I posted last week, but Devil still isn’t sure of his future with the club due to his own actions.

“You said they provoked you, and I can’t say they didn’t. But, we were told to keep our distance. Which means you don’t go up and confront one of them.”

They badmouthed you. I opened my mouth to say it, but he just kept rolling right on.

“You keep walking right on the edge, and you’re going to end up falling over one of these days.”

“Thought you said you’d always catch me,” I said reminding him of something he’d said in one of the letters we used to exchange.

But, it only brought that hurt look back to his eyes. “I’d do just that if you weren’t always running from me.”

Why does Devil keep running from Hawk? Will he finally stop? Or will he finally step too far over that edge?

As I mentioned above, I released my fifth book last night. Stained by Ashes is the second Stained book. Stained is my western series that started with Stained Snow, which is free now through Monday. I loved writing these books since westerns were one of my first reading loves(I started reading them when I was 12. I was an odd child). Both are also available on Kindle Unlimited. I hope you’ll enjoy if you pick them up.

SOCS: “Strongest, Bravest, Best”

After I read this week’s prompt of using a word that ends in -est for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, a bit of dialogue popped into my head between two characters for the story I’m currently plotting out. Then, this morning I thought about talking about my latest release. But, then I hopped back over to the fiction idea. Though I will probably tag on a note about that release on the end of this post.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“It would be better if you stay away from me, Denise. I don’t know-”

“Then, it’s a good thing I do, Toby,” she said, not letting him finish. “I’ve known you at least twenty years now, haven’t I?”

“Give or take,” he admitted. “But, you were a kid. You didn’t know anything about me.”

“Was I ever a typical kid, though? Even before…he died, I knew stuff little kids shouldn’t know. Jared tried to protect me from the worst of it, but that didn’t mean I didn’t see. Just like I always saw you.”

“If that was true, you’d understand why-”

She interrupted him again. She was always doing that, and it drove him crazy.

“I do understand, Toby, I just think you’re wrong. Do you really think you just happened to find me all those times I ran from those homes? I was always trying to find you.”

“Why would you do that?”

She rolled her eyes, and yeah, she must have driven him crazy, because that gesture had him grinning suddenly. “Other than Jared, you were the strongest, bravest, smartest person I knew. You were the best person I knew, Toby, other than my brother. Why wouldn’t I have come to find you?”

He could only stare at her. Yep, absolutely crazy. For her.

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No idea where this will come in the story. maybe in the middle, so they can think, at least for a little while, that everything will be okay. Cause I’m just mean like that.

As I said above, I have a new release out. Stained by Ashes, the second book in my Stained series. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can even read it for free. And the first book, Stained Snow, is free through Monday.

Teaser Tuesday: ‘Fighting Dirty’

I have one more teaser from Stained by Ashes. I’m just going through the final polish of this, so I probably won’t be sharing any more from this. The good news: it will be available to read fully soon. This week’s teaser picks up right after last week’s. Here it is:

Louis didn’t have any hesitations in fighting dirty. Even as Adam pinned his legs to the ground, Louis was digging his thumb into Adam’s wound. Everything around him went a bright white, and a scream wrenched out of him. Somehow he kept his grip on Louis through it.

As his vision cleared again, Louis’ hand reached up toward him. Blood covered his fingers. Wet, sticky blood. Adam’s blood. More of it would cover the ground soon if he didn’t stop this.

He ignored the hand reaching for him and shot his fist into Louis’ jaw. The other man’s head knocked back, but he only had a moment before Louis was heaving him off. Trying to, at least. Adam held on. Until Louis reached for his face, his thumb trying to gouge out Adam’s eye.

Adam jerked back, and Louis’ nail scraped the corner of his eye. It still brought a stinging pain, and blood painted Adam’s cheek from Louis’ other fingers. He shuddered a little, then plowed his fist into Louis’ stomach before leaping to his feet. He got ready for Louis to come at him again, but, a scream came from the cabin.

Leah.

He turned back, worried what Louis would do while his back was turned. The other man was already scrambling into his saddle. Lucas sat slumped in his own saddle, glancing between the two of them and the cabin.

“Your daughter is in danger, and you do nothing but sit there,” Adam said, contempt dripping from his voice. “You disgust me.”

Louis was already racing off, and for a moment, Adam thought about chasing him down. Leah needed him more right now. He started to run toward the cabin, pulling out his own gun, but pain sliced through him with every step. Blood ran down his side, and he clamped his free hand over it, wishing that was enough to get it to stop. He wouldn’t let himself bleed to death before Leah was safe. It couldn’t happen.

Is Adam going to be okay? Will he get to Leah in time? Or will she save herself? You’ll have to read the whole story to find out. 😉

Teaser Tuesday: “Not a Killer”

I got the rest of the chapters of Stained by Ashes back from my second beta reader last week. I’m still working through them, but I’m almost done, then I’ll have to do a final clean-up round of editing. I’ll have it out before the official end of summer, though. Getting really close now.

And for today, here’s a little teaser(from some added material):

“Louis, no,” his father said. “You’re not a killer.”

A smirk twisted Louis’ face. “Taking care of trash like this doesn’t count as killing, Father.”

But, Lucas had distracted Louis enough for Adam to close the distance between them. By the time Louis turned back to him, Adam was close enough to bring his boot up and knock the gun from his hand with a swift kick.

“What’d you do to her?” Adam asked, grabbing onto the front of Louis’ shirt.

“The better question is what did you? Wasn’t it bad enough to ruin her reputation?”

“I love her,” Adam said between gritted teeth. “I-“

Louis jabbed at Adam’s side, connecting with the skin that had just been torn by a bullet. White hot pain stabbed through him, and his knee gave out. He felt a boot connect with his other side, then his hands smacked against the ground.

He only took time to drag in a painful breath then lunged back to his feet. Louis was already raising a fist to swing at him, but Adam went in close, so he couldn’t land the blow. Adam brought his own knee up into Louis’ stomach, then with his arms around the other man, threw them both to the ground.

The landing had bright colors flashing through his head as pain surged through him. Louis tried to scramble away from him, but Adam had spent his early years wrestling with boys who thought they were better, stronger, smarter than him. He knew how to fight like this. When he wasn’t being held at gunpoint or having his arms held behind him.

 

Teaser Tuesday: Louis Did

Working on more of Stained by Ashes today. Well, transcribing my second beta reader’s notes into the master file actually. Have through Chapter 21 done for now. For today, I’ll share some of the last that I edited yesterday. From Chapter 19:

She shook her head, but the pain in his voice felt like it ripped her heart out. She took a step forward and unable to stop herself, reached up to run a finger along his jaw. He didn’t flinch like she’d been afraid he would, but he stood completely still. “Adam.” He shuddered then lowered his eyes to hers. She saw the pain there, and the longing. It was too much, and she dropped her hand. “You keep saying they, but you think my father did it.”

“Or he hired someone. There were three other men. He didn’t have a chance. They didn’t give him one.”

“You tracked them? To our ranch?”

He hesitated. “I lost the trail west of it. Close enough to meet up when the job was done.”

Her stomach twisted at his words. “Pa never goes out that way.” Louis did. She’d seen him meeting some friends out that way before. “Adam, please stay away.”

“Leah, if he-”

She held up a hand, her fingers barely caressing his lips. “It wasn’t my pa. I’m sure he’s done things I won’t agree with, maybe a lot of things, but he didn’t kill your pa.”

“Who else would have done it?”

She thought about saying it, but she couldn’t voice that. She and Louis had never gotten along, but he was still her brother. She shook her head. “Please stay away, Adam. I don’t want you hurt, but I can’t let you come after my pa because you lost yours.” She turned away as a tear slipped down her cheek. She hurried to her horse and climbed into the saddle. Adam cried her name but she kicked the mare into a lope, needing to get away before it all tore her in two.

If things keep going the way they are, I shouldn’t have a problem having this out before the official end of the summer. Hoping for that at least.

Teaser Tuesday: Stolen Moments

I just finished editing all the chapters I’ve gotten back from my beta reader for Stained by Ashes. I should be getting more back soon, but for now, I have a teaser from the beginning of the first chapter I don’t have back yet. Things have been going good for Adam(and you may be able to figure out what happened just before this), but they’re about to take a turn:

Adam sat on his horse, watching as Leah rode off, deeper into Kline land. He wanted to ride the rest of the way with her, or even better, taken her back to the Bailey ranch. Neither would have been a good choice. He knew that, even if he despised the truth of it. He hadn’t wanted to let her go at all, but they had shared one more kiss before parting. If he kept her with him, he didn’t doubt her father would have him in shackles for abduction. It wouldn’t matter what Leah said. This was best for now.

He stayed there until she moved out of sight. He turned his horse. He’d felt so light when they left the cabin, until he’d had to say goodbye to her. Now, a heavy weight laid on his chest. He wondered if it was his fear he’d never see her again. He wanted more than these stolen moments with her. He needed them.

He couldn’t have them.

Adam ran a hand through his hair then shoved his hat back down on his head and headed back for Patrick’s ranch. He shouldn’t have been missed yet. Although if he couldn’t get this crazy grin off his face, he wouldn’t be able to lie about why it took him so long to return. Everyone would know.

Yet his lips pursed, and he whistled a tune as he rode back toward the Bailey ranch. He turned off the main trail, knowing a less used one that would get him back home faster. Not that he was ready to push aside what had happened this day. He’d have to stop thinking about it if he didn’t want everyone to know. Also, the sooner he returned, the less questions there would be. He wasn’t sure he could lie about what had happened today.

He crossed a stream, guiding the horse through the trees. The ground remained soft from the hard rain they’d had days before. He tried to nudge the horse around the worst of the mud. Not that the animal needed a lot of help. He had a good feel for where to walk.

Adam had only ridden maybe a mile when he realized something was wrong. It could be his presence that had the birds quiet, but that was unlikely. They would have flown out ahead of his arrival if he disturbed them. There was something else here. He saw the birds perched in the trees, other animals hiding in the brush, but none of them moved. Almost as if they sent off a signal to some instinct in him.

Still planning to have this out next month, before the official end of summer.

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