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The Victorians, Book Three
Tyra Duncan rejects her Victorian upbringing to ride wild on the Kansas plains, much like her idol Calamity Jane. Hays City, wildest town in the west, attracts Tyra. Convinced she would make its ideal sheriff, she breaks up a fight, shooting a poker player and carting him off to jail. Shaken to the soles of her boots when she meets the same charismatic gambler again, she knows she will follow him wherever he goes.
Zach Benson rides with no ties, seemingly free. Unseen are the nightmares of his past—shadows of innocent lives taken, horrors of the battlefield, abandonment of his younger brother to an outlaw gang.
After rescuing his brother from unwarranted hanging, the three make a perilous journey across western Texas, encountering flash floods and unsavory characters. Not until a sniper’s bullet explodes their idyll do they realize they are pursued by a killer bent on revenge. They head into New Mexico Territory, where sanctuary with the Spanish Angels at the Altar of the Sun could save them…or spell their doom if they are found.
Page Count: 398
Word Count: 109220
Gripping the barrel, she tapped the stranger hard on the back of his noggin. “That’d be enough of that, mister.” The demand didn’t sound threatening, and the man scarcely spared her a look.
“I said leave it be.” Another conk, harder this time, got the guy’s attention.
Continuing to clutch Barney’s shirt, he turned and stared at Tyra, taking her in from flaming red hair to britches to cowboy boots. For a beat, he held Barney down and gave her the eye.
“Aren’t you a purty little thing? But I think you might leave well enough alone. I haven’t never shot me a woman, but that don’t mean I’m not ready to start.”
His eyes were blue, the gaze hard as glass marbles, voice calm and melodious, not threatening at all. As if he weren’t smashing Barney’s face in or threatening an armed woman.
He might be downright handsome, but he wasn’t real smart. Tyra lowered her aim and put a bullet into his calf. The echo of the blast brought everyone to attention, the stench of gunpowder mingling with that of cheap whiskey and filthy spittoons. Her target hollered and turned loose his prey. Some of the drunker patrons laughed, others hid behind tables or ran out the door into the street.
The injured poker player sat on the floor rocking and clutching his bleeding leg. “Damn, that hurts! What the hell you do that for? First time I ever been shot by a woman.”
“I asked you nice. Now, you try to get up, the next one will blow your guts out.” She stared into the eyes filled with pain. Dang, he was a fine-looking man. Too bad she had to shoot him to get his attention.
After a brief struggle to rise, his face drained to a pasty gray, and he managed four weak words. “Shot by a lady.”
A couple of cowboys ignored him to drag Barney to his feet and support him to an upright chair. Blood poured from his nose, one eye had already begun to swell, and he was spitting blood.
“I ain’t no lady.” Tyra took another look at the guy she’d just shot. A fancy Dan, he didn’t look like much of a brawler in his well-made butt-hugging black britches, white shirt, and striped vest, but it took a heck of a fighter to bring Barney down. She’d seen the bartender take men a lot bigger and rowdier in appearance than this one. This fellow must be quite a scrapper, plus a man who definitely had a burr under his saddle about something.
He had sun-streaked hair the color of fine sand. Lashes the same shade fringed those bright blue eyes. And easy to see he flat couldn’t put his mind around her shooting him. Something in that puzzled gaze went right straight to her gut and tied it in knots. For a moment she was unable to speak. When she finally did, her voice sounded like she’d just swallowed a pint of the local moonshine. First time any man had affected her in such a way.
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