KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
BY CHARLENE RADDON
As a girl, Maisy Macoubrie witnessed the murder of her beloved father. She’s been running from the killer for fourteen years. If only she could provide a safe home for her and her son… but she’ll never get rich dealing faro in saloons, with a cold-blooded killer on her trail.
And now, he’s found her again.
The Preacher never meant to become a gunman. Sometimes life deals a man a hard hand. Always alone, always hunted, he dreams of all he’s been denied—peace, family, love.
The moment Maisy and The Preacher meet, their lives change once more. United in battle against a powerful enemy, they fight side by side, but can they beat the odds they face? Is love worth the biggest gamble man has ever known?
October 1881- Pandora, Colorado
Danger rode a howling wind into Pandora, Colorado, that autumn night. A gleeful desperado, the gale scoured the town’s nooks, alleys, and yards. It iced window panes and froze puddles.
Maisy Macoubrie stood on the boarding house stoop, watching trash blow down the street, her faro bag held in front of her like a shield. She enjoyed a good storm, but tonight, her mood seemed as ragged and tense as the weather. Blessed Saints, but her back ached. Thank heaven the gambling season would be over soon, and she could go home.
Thoughts of home brought images of her son, Danny. How she missed him. He’d be fourteen next month. She’d bet he’d grown another inch since she saw him in August. If only she dared to have him with her.
The eight o’clock stage slogged past the boarding house and slid to a muddy halt in front of The Pandora House. Half a dozen men on horseback followed. Passengers bolted from the still-rocking coach into the well-lighted building. The others did the same. Once they’d all warmed up and filled their bellies, they’d want a pleasant way to pass the evening, such as gambling.
Maisy sighed. Time to go to work at the Bloated Goat Saloon.
Something darted under her skirts. She swallowed a screech and yanked up her hems.
“Soda!” Crouching, she petted the grumpy looking calico cat. “Oh, you’re wet.”
Maisy stood. “Come on, I’ll let you in, and give you something to eat.”
The cat darted inside the second she opened the door and dashed up the stairs. Leaving her faro bag beside the door, Maisy followed and let the cat into her room. “Stay off the bed until you’ve cleaned yourself.”
The calico padded over to her special rug under the window and set to work licking her fur. Maisy fetched Soda’s food from the storage space in the washstand.
“Here you are.” She put several pieces of chopped, dried beef on the floor. “I have to go to work.” Maisy bent and put her hand beside the cat’s right front leg. “Come on, shake with me like I taught you.”
She almost chuckled at the look of disgust on Soda’s face, but the cat raised her paw. “Good girl. I’ll see you later.”
She’d no sooner stepped back out on the front porch than Lenny Goodman dashed up the steps. “’Evening, Miss Maisy.”
“Good evening, Lenny. Did Nose send you?” In the light from his lantern, his face looked older than fourteen years. His eyes displayed a sort of wisdom and disillusionment in their depths that aged him. His chin showed the promise of a beard he would soon have to start shaving. It wouldn’t be long before Danny would be doing the same.
“Yep. Said it was too dark for you to have to find your way to the saloon without a lantern.” He took her bag from her as she descended the steps to the boards laid over the muddy road in drier weather—her landlord’s idea of a boardwalk.
Lenny held up the light while Maisy maneuvered the makeshift pathway. Before reaching the boardwalk that fronted the stores, the rain had soaked her cloak and skirt hems.
“I stepped in a deep mud puddle back there,” Lenny said, joining her in front of the Sims Café and Bakery. “Need to scrape it off.” He went to work, using the edge of the porch to relieve him of the gunk. “You want to take the lantern with you and go on?”
Maisy glanced toward the Bloated Goat Saloon. Light from the windows showed on the boardwalk. “No, I’ll be all right, Lenny. Thank you.”
She took her bag from him and went on. Storm doors kept the weather out of The Goat, but they also blocked the light the shorter, swinging doors would have allowed to escape. Maisy peered over her shoulder to check on the boy and walked into something solid and unmovable.
Charlene Raddon likes to claim that her fiction career began in the third grade when she told her class she’d had a nonexistent baby sister killed by a black widow spider. Her first serious attempt at writing came in 1980 when a vivid dream drove her to drag out a typewriter and begin writing. She’s been writing ever since. She grew up certain she’d been born in the wrong era and truly belonged in the Old West. Her genre is, of course, historical romance set in the American West. At present, she has five books, originally published in paperback by Kensington Books, two anthologies and a novella available on Amazon. Now an indie author, Charlene is busy on her next novel. She also designs book covers and other graphic materials for authors, specializing in western, at http://silversagebookcovers.com.
Links to Charlene’s website, blog, books, etc.
Amazon author page:
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