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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.

Teaser Tuesday: Leading This Charge

It’s Tuesday, so time for a snippet from my upcoming release, Stained by Ashes. I have more than half of the chapters back from my second beta reader and should be getting more back soon. I’ve started working on the actual edits now, and am hoping to have it ready to publish before the official end of summer. For now, here’s a teaser from some of the just-edited material:

He shoved away those thoughts. “Who’s leading this charge?”

Now, Patrick’s face tightened. “Lucas Kline. He has the biggest holdings and the most to lose. And he’s the devil’s own spawn,” he said almost under his breath.

“What’s your position?” He ignored the last statement, sure Patrick hadn’t meant it for him.

“They’re not hurting anyone, and these ranchers have land to spare. Like you said, these farmers are trying to make a life for themselves here.”

Adam hadn’t had much to do with the eldest Kline, so he couldn’t say too much about him. He’d had a few run-ins with his son, Louis. Another son, Barrett, kept those run-ins from getting too violent. Adam had heard something about a daughter as well, but he’d never seen her in town. The other ranchers mostly ignored him when they weren’t turning their noses up at Patrick for even hiring someone like him.

They rode in silence for a few minutes before Patrick added, “I’d like to stay out of it, but I feel a war coming. I’d like to stop that if I can.”

Adam held onto his own thoughts even as they ran the same path as Patrick’s. He wasn’t so sure anything they did could stop a war if enough men, with more power than them, were intent on starting it.

Will the war come? will Patrick and Adam be able to stay out of it? Or will they be thrust right into it?

Teaser Tuesday: Do Not Abide

Time for another teaser from Stained by Ashes. This is from Chapter 10, the last one I’ve gotten back from my second beta reader.

Leah stepped around Adam, but he held out an arm to keep her back. She shook off his arm and stood at his side. “Louis, what are you even doing here?”

He barely looked over at her. “Saving your reputation, it appears. You think any of your suitors would want you if they knew you had sullied yourself with the likes of him?”

The color fled from her face, and Adam went rigid beside her. His kiss had swept her away, even if she shouldn’t have let it happen. She shouldn’t have come, but she’d wanted to find out what had happened here. She’d been hoping to see Adam out here again, even though that was ridiculous and dangerous.

“First, my reputation doesn’t need saving,” she told her brother. “Second, I don’t care about my suitors. I don’t want any of them. Third, we’ve done nothing. I’m as clean and pure as you and Pa want me.”

She almost thought Adam snorted, but when she glanced at his face, she couldn’t see anything there. He was so hard to read. They hadn’t talked much the last time, other than about Henry, but she’d felt something being around him, and she wanted to feel it again.

She never would have thought they had so much in common, even if only losing their mothers. She heard the pain in his voice when he talked about it. She wondered if he knew there was still a lost little boy in there.

She had kissed him. She hadn’t planned to. She wanted him to know she understood his pain, but there had been something in those dark eyes beside that shared pain. She’d been compelled to move forward.

Everything changed, all because of Louis.

Now, her brother swung down from the horse, and Adam shifted in front of her again. She put a hand on his back, letting him know it was okay, but he didn’t budge. Louis headed toward them, and more than irritation with her flashed in his eyes, a gleeful anger there now. Her stomach twisted, knowing he directed all that at Adam. What was her brother’s problem with him? She’d seen it that day in town too. Like he hoped Adam would give him a fight. Now, three of their men were ranged behind him. If something happened, Adam wouldn’t have a chance.

She stepped around Adam, not letting him stop her this time. He reached out for her but let his hand drop. One of the men drew a rifle from the scabbard on his saddle, and Leah was sure Adam had seen the same thing. “Did you follow me here, Louis?”

“Someone obviously needs to keep an eye on you. Barrett cannot be trusted to. He should have stopped you from even coming here.”

“This has nothing to do with Barrett. I’m allowed to ride on our own land.”

“Then, he is trespassing,” Louis said. “We do not abide by trespassers.”

“Just killers then,” Adam said from behind her.

May not be the best time to be mouthing off, Adam. 😉 But, just what will happen? Hopefully you’ll find out before fall gets here. 😉

Teaser Tuesday: Around the Ashes

I haven’t shared a teaser for at least a few weeks now. But, I worked on compiling notes from my second beta reader on Chapter 7 of Stained by Ashes this morning, so I decided to share a bit from that chapter.

Adam slowed the horse to a lope as they neared the north pasture. Then, to a trot until they were passing the pasture. Even if it meant Patrick became upset with him.

He pushed the horse forward, trying to leave his reservations behind. When he saw what remained of the house, he forgot everything else. What was done to them wasn’t right. Or the fact everyone seemed content to sweep it away and forget it.

He dismounted from the saddle , leaving the horse behind to graze while he moved forward, being careful where he stepped . He didn’t want to erase any sign of who had been here before. That would keep him from learning anything.  The horse behind him snorted, uneasy being here. The smell of smoke and death still clung to the air.

Adam edged around the ashes of the burned buildings, but stopped next to the spot of ground still stained by blood. A heavy weight laid on his shoulders at the memory of the woman who had died there.

Adam shook his head, blowing out a breath. This wasn’t finding the answers he needed. He straightened and turned back toward the house. He hadn’t looked too closely when he and James first discovered the bodies. Even when he’d returned with the sheriff, he’d been more concerned with the bodies than the house. Patrick had kept him busy with the ranch for the past days. He hadn’t been able to make it back out, but it hadn’t rained. Any sign that had been here shouldn’t have faded from the earth.

He knelt next to the logs that remained and ran a finger through the ash. He didn’t know what it should tell him. How long ago the fire had been set maybe? It couldn’t have been more than a day before they’d found the bodies. The fire had gone out, but the smoke remained heavy in the air.

I’m still hoping to get this out this summer, but it may be closer to fall. Either way, it will be out before the end of the year.

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