Friday, June 11, 2010
The Countdown Begins!!!
One week from today is the release date for Wild Texas Wind!!! I'm torn between wanting to shout it from the rooftops--and wanting to pull it so I can fix all the things I imagine are "wrong" with it. Yipes!
As promised all those weeks ago, before the ol' Lifus Inerruptus got hold of me and kept me from blogging, I told you I'd be posting excerpts. If you just can't wait to get your hands on a copy, it's available in print format as an early bird special. But for the e-version, you'll have to wait til next week.
So without further adieu.... here we go! One of my faves, this is where the hero and heroine first meet.
“You call this crap food?” Raz Colt listened patiently to the tirade coming from the line shack he’d discovered late last night.
“I wouldn’t slop hogs with it!”
A sound suspiciously like a pot hitting a wall echoed in the calm morning air.
He shifted position. He’d been lying on the dusty ground below the window since last night. With the promise of H.H. O’Hara’s reward still fresh in his mind, he would spend an entire damn week this way if he had to. The sagebrush provided shelter from both the sun and any lookouts who might be around. He hoped to hell the men he’d leaned on for information and the trail he’d followed had led him to the right place.
A shriek of female fury pierced the quiet, echoed around him and bounced off the canyon walls. “I told you I needed a firmer bed. My back is killing me!”
“No, no, señorita.” Something banged against the wall, followed by shattering glass.
“I expect to be cared for better than this!”
Raz rolled his eyes at the stream of expletives that followed. She cursed her male companion, his mother, his future children, the entire country. Christ, she knew words even he didn’t say out loud.
This couldn’t be the “baby” H.H. O’Hara was so convinced “might just wither up and die” if she wasn’t treated “delicate like.”
He resisted the urge to have a look inside. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to recognize Arden O’Hara from her father’s description; the big man had been blubbering so hard the other night he’d been almost incoherent. Guilt was a powerful thing, Raz supposed. H.H. had refused to meet the kidnappers’ demands and hadn’t heard from them a second time. The rancher feared he’d done the wrong thing and would never again see his daughter. Averse to paying the “hooligans” who had taken her, he was more than willing to pay someone else to find her and bring her home.
The cabin door burst open; a man dashed out, holding his hat to his head.
“I said I wanted a bath, you incompetent jackass!”
A pitcher and bowl flew past, narrowly missing the man’s head. He bent to pick up the shattered pieces, mumbling to himself in Spanish about the ungrateful señorita breaking his wife’s good pitcher.
Raz made his move. With speed born of practice, his gun met his hand. Swiftly yet silently he crept closer. The other man started, then reached for his gun.
“Save it. You’ll be dead before you clear leather.”
The man glanced from the Peacemaker in Raz’s hand to the one strapped low on his hip then raised his gaze to size up his rival. His arms went up in surrender. “Señor. Did El Hombre send you?”
The man? What the hell was that supposed to mean? He adopted a loose-hipped stance, leaning one shoulder against the shack. May as well play along, see what he could find out “Yeah. He sent me.”
“Bueno. Better you than me. She is a handful, but I could never kill a woman. No matter how unpleasant she is.”
Raz digested that in silence. He wasn’t surprised the kidnappers intended to kill her, had half expected to find her already dead. Now that her daddy had refused their ransom demands, they would have no use for the girl. Except one. And with a temper like that, she’d only make it more fun for them.
“That does not bother you?”
Something thumped against the floor of the shack. “What the hell is going on out there?”
Raising a lazy brow, Raz sneered. “Do I look like it’s gonna bother me?”
The man gave a slight shake of his head. “She is like a tiger. She will not go down without a fight.”
With deliberate movements, Raz removed tobacco from his shirt pocket. Bracing one foot against the door, he calmly rolled a cigarillo. It was pure luck he’d arrived before the real killer, but he wished this little fellow would be on his way. Just once he’d like to have a job gosmoothly. No bloodshed, no fist fights. Nice and easy.
“Where is my goddamned bath water?”
The man adjusted his dusty, battered hat. “Good luck, amigo.” His relieved grin told Raz he’d probably need it.
He pulled a drag on the cigarillo as the other man mounted his horse and watched until he rode out of sight. With a light-hearted sigh, he turned toward the shack. It appeared all he had to do was return Arden O’Hara to her daddy, collect his reward, and not risk his neck doing it.
Visions of how he’d spend the money swam in his brain. Well, just one vision. Land. Lots of it. He’d always dreamed of being a man of property. Maybe then he could hang up his holster, change his name, and live a quiet, peaceable life.
“Do I smell cigarettes out there? Are you heating my bath water or lazing about smoking?”
He tossed aside the cigarillo and pushed open the door. And ducked as an object came flying at his head. It missed him by inches and flew out the open door. He glanced toward the enamel coffee pot, then back inside. The interior was dim, stuffy. It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the change in light.
“Great, another one.”
“Did you bring my bath water?”
From his conversation with H.H. O’Hara, he’d been expecting a much younger girl. His gaze fell to the way she was dressed. A man’s shirt, tucked into slim-fitting trousers that hugged every curve. This was no child. Her hands rested on either hip. One small, booted foot patted the ground impatiently.
“Leave something on me, or I might catch cold.”
If life was fair, she’d have the face of a hag to match that heavenly body. Reluctantly, he pulled his attention upward. Damn the luck.