Another snippet from Stained Snow this week. Still waiting to get this back from my beta reader. But, I’m still hoping to get it out by the end of the year.
Commander Harkins looked up from his meal to see the officer running across the mess tent toward him, a slip of paper in his hands. “What is it, Sergeant?”
“This telegraph came in from Lander.” His gaze skipped around the room before coming back to the commander. “Is Mr. Jensen still here?”
The commander shook his head. “No, he left about thirty minutes ago,” he said after pulling out his pocket watch to check the time. “What is it?”
“Bad news for him,” he said handing over the paper.
The commander scanned over it, his face paling. “Damn.” This wasn’t something a man should go riding blind into. He’d been so eager to leave and now there wasn’t much for him to return to.
“Send a couple men out. See if they can catch up with him. The way he’s probably riding, it’s unlikely. Have them turn back if they don’t find him by midday though. He should know, but it’s not up to us to track him all that way.”
“Yes, sir.” The man snapped a salute then turned away.
Commander Harkins picked up his fork again, but he suddenly had no appetite left for his eggs. He stood up and left the mess behind. “Poor bastard,” he muttered, looking off in the direction William had ridden.
He should have let him go the night before.
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.
Time for another teaser from Stained Snow. Still hoping to get this out by the end of the year.
William finished fastening the second horse into the wagon. “There’s really no reason for you to go, Anna. I’m picking up some supplies then I’ll be back. I shouldn’t even be gone a full day.” He didn’t even look up as he checked each of the straps, but she huffed, and he couldn’t quite fight back a smile.
“Will, I hardly ever get to go to town. Sometimes, I feel like I’m stuck here. I want to see some people, talk to people. We hardly hear anything out here.”
Anna had spent the last several years before William met her living with her father and stepmother at Fort Steele. While she had been surrounded by mostly soldiers, there’d been other families there. Other women and girls she could socialize with. He had taken her away from all of that. “I don’t know if it will be safe.”
“How is it safer for us to stay out here by ourselves than it would be with you? He’s not going to attack us in town. He’s not stupid, Will. That’s why being with you would be safer. He won’t come at you from the front. It’s been weeks with nothing. He’s probably moved on again.”
William shook his head. His brother was good at laying quiet. He could act like everything was fine then suddenly lash out. William had felt the sting of a sudden attack enough times. “Doubt it. He’s waiting.” Waiting for William to let his guard down, which he didn’t plan to do. “You’re not alone here. None of the men will let anything happen to you.”
“Which men? The foreman old enough to be my grandfather who can barely walk straight in the morning? Or the boys barely old enough to have left their mother’s lap? How will they protect us if they’re out riding fence? They can’t be here and taking care of the cows.”
“Then, I’ll make sure at least one or two always stay here with you, but I’m not going to let him get you.”
“Then let us go with you. We’ll be safe with you, Will.”
He was running out of arguments. She apparently wasn’t though. “You told David the next time you went into town, you would take him with you. If you go back on that now, he’ll be hurt.”
William sighed and ran a hand through his hair before putting his hat back on. “Fine. Go get him. You two can visit while I get what we need.”
“Thanks, Will.” She slipped her arms around his waist, and he held onto her for a moment, setting his chin on top of her head. Sometimes he wondered if he didn’t love her so much, maybe he would be able to say no to her more. Then, he stepped back. “Go on. I want to get going soon.”
She hurried up to the house, calling for David as she neared it. He shook his head and turned back to his horses. When had he been able to say no to either of them? Maybe she was right. It would be safer to be with him than alone. The last thing he wanted to do was leave them alone. He’d have to talk to the sheriff and find out if he’d made any progress on tracking Thomas down or finding who else might have been responsible for those deaths. If he hadn’t found anything, he might have to leave his family alone while he took care of it himself.
His jaw clenched as he tightened the last strap and gave one of the horses a pat on the neck. He didn’t want to do it, but he would if it meant keeping his family safe.
Tuesday again, so time for another teaser for my, hopefully, next release. Still waiting to get it back from my beta reader, but hopefully it will be ready to go out by the end of the year. Sharing from Chapter 2 today.
Maggie Barnes stood at the door and looked down toward the barn. She couldn’t see Thomas, but she knew he was inside. He’d told them last night he’d be riding out after breakfast this morning. She’d seen the relief in her father’s eyes. It hadn’t been reflected in hers.
She didn’t want Thomas to leave. He’d only been here a month, and not for more than a few days at a time then. He’d been here almost a week this time. He hadn’t told them ahead of time before when he left. He’d just be saddling up in the morning. It meant something else that he warned them.
It meant he wasn’t coming back.
She wrapped her arms around her body even though the sun was warm today. She still felt a chill. Even though it came from inside her, she couldn’t stop rubbing at her arms as if to warm them. He was riding away, for more than the couple days he was usually gone.
He’d promised to take her to San Francisco, to Denver. Maybe even to New York City. Now, he was leaving her behind. She wanted to ask him why, but feared what the answer would be. That these last weeks hadn’t really meant anything to him. At least not what they’d meant to her. They must not, if he could ride away.
He wasn’t taking her with him.
Jumping to a new story to tease you all with today. No release date on this one yet. In fact, it’s still in the hands of a beta reader. However, I am hoping to have it out there sometime later this year. Of course, that also means some of this is likely to change.
It will be available on Kindle Unlimited, so if you have that, you’ll be able to read it, and the next two books (once they’re up there) for free.
But, before that, here is the first page (or so) of Stained Snow:
William Jensen pushed his horse farther down the trail, the heat of his rage in sharp contrast to the brisk Spring breeze. It certainly wasn’t enough to cool him. His hands gripped the reins so tight his knuckles turned white and his legs tightened around the horse’s sides. The confused animal took a faltering step. He forced himself to relax his grip and urged the horse on again.
“Will, slow down.” The sheriff followed behind him, pushing his horse to keep up. He almost sounded like he’d been the one to do the running, with pauses between words, as if he had to catch his breath. “If what you said is true, those people won’t be going anywhere.”
William clenched his jaw but pulled back slightly on the reins, letting his horse slow into a gentler pace. “They’re on my land, Carl. I don’t know who they are, but they were put there.”
The sheriff came up beside him. “So you’ve already said. They’ll still be there even if it takes a few more minutes.”
“I don’t like it. David could have been with me when I found them.” He closed his eyes for a minute, remembering the look of disappointment on the boy’s face when he said he couldn’t ride into town with him. He had planned to bring the sheriff straight out here, and no way did he want his son to see this. “Whatever’s going on, we need to stop it.”
“We will. I will. I am the sheriff here. You need to deal with your ranch, Will, and leave this to me.”
“Not if he’s bringing it out to my ranch, Carl. There’s only one person who would do that.”
“You don’t even know if that’s what’s happening. No one from town has disappeared. You said you didn’t recognize them. The killer could have been a stranger too.”
“He could be.” He’d give him that much. It wasn’t a stranger though. He was as sure of that as anything. He knew who stood behind this.
“How long’s it been since you seen him anyways?”
“Years.” He could remember the moment he’d last seen his brother. It wasn’t one of his favorite memories either. “Doesn’t mean he’s not around just because I haven’t seen him.”
I have finished editing Stained Snow, the first in my western series, again. I’ve rewritten and revised this story more than a few times. So, I really need to get some other eyes on it. I just don’t think I have any objectivity left for this story or the characters.
Sometimes blood isn’t thick enough.
When everything is taken from him, William Jensen knows just who to blame. It’s finding him that’s the problem. When he’s wounded and taken in by a rancher and his daughter, he starts to see that there might be more to his life now than vengeance. But, when he’s faced with losing even that, can he face down the man who is willing to take everything until he has nothing left? Even if it means killing his own brother.
This is a little under 65,000 words now. If anyone would like to read it and give me some feedback, I’d greatly appreciate it. 🙂