Recovering from the death of his brother, Chet Bowman is finally finding a sense of normalcy. He's through hiding from the world on his ranch, and he's tired of being alone. He's ready to act on his long-time attraction to Lil Kersey, the sultry saloon owner who runs his favorite watering hole.
With his relationship to Lil blossoming, their courtship comes under fire from the former marshal of Calico, now gone rogue after a failed shoot out. As Austen Riley ramps up his revenge on the cowboy who thwarted his plans to control Calico, Lil struggles to survive Austen's unwanted attentions.
When the dust settles after one final gun fight, will Lil and Chet find their happily ever after? Or will Austen's maniacal revenge tear them apart forever?
Chet knelt, examining the boot print that shouldn’t have been behind his barn. From heel to toe, he figured it was about a size ten. A man’s boot.
He stood, wiping the sweat from his brow. Dammit. He was getting bolder, whoever’d left that print. Chet slammed his Stetson back on his head and frowned. He didn’t like the idea of someone lurking around his ranch.
“What are you doing?” he said, thrusting his chin toward the boot print. “What are you looking for?”READ MORE
Taking a swallow from his coffee mug, Chet paused and surveyed the horizon. While there wasn’t a lot of places to hide between his ranch and Calico, the dunes could easily mask an errant rider or two. The trick was to watch for the dust clouds. Few animals could stir up the desert like a man moving quickly on horseback.
He slowly walked the perimeter of his house, barns and outer buildings, looking for any other signs of trouble. It didn’t feel right. Something was off. He could feel it as surely as if someone had sent notice. In a way they had though, hadn’t they?
Chet stepped up the stairs to the back porch and took another look at his spread. It was eerily quiet. Like the day after Chas was hung. He shuddered and leaned heavily on the railing as the memories washed over him. His brother, accused of a crime he didn’t commit, was hauled off to jail and then pulled out of that cell by an angry mob and lynched before the judge could arrive to pass sentence.
In times like these, when the quiet was almost thick enough to slice, he couldn’t stop himself from remembering the sight of Chas swinging from the gallows. It was his boots that he remembered the most, probably because it was too hard to remember the moment he cut him down and removed the noose from his neck. But the boots. The boots swinging in the air. Those were hard to forget.
After he buried his brother, Chet dismissed the ranch hands and cook. His grief was too strong, too personal to share with anyone. He needed the solitude of the ranch. But now, it was simply too quiet.
He shrugged off the painful memory and strode into the house, dropping his coffee cup on the kitchen counter. His eyes took in the dish-filled sink. Sighing, he grabbed a pot and pumped water into it, and placed it on the stove to heat. The pump was a nice addition. Saved him from making trips back and forth to the well.
He sighed again and paused to look out his kitchen window. The garden was dry. He’d have to see to watering the sparse vegetable patch before there was nothing left.
“Dammit,” he said aloud. Maybe the marshal was right. Maybe it was time to stop hiding from life and get back to the business of living.
Tomorrow he would go into Calico and hire a cook. It would be nice to have someone help with the garden, and better food than what he could make would be a welcome change, too. Maybe a couple of cowhands as well. Yes, he’d hire some people tomorrow, so things wouldn’t be so quiet anymore.
He smiled. Lil. He’d stop in and see Lil. And get back to the business of living.COLLAPSE