Romancing The 8–Dreams of Gold

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Here are eight paragraphs from the opening scene of my western historical novella set in 1870s Wyoming, Dreams Of Gold:

‘“Hey, driver.” He shot a glance at the top seat. What the hell? A slender, yellow feather bobbed above the driver’s seat. He set a boot on the wheel hub and levered himself up for a better look. On the near side of the seat slumped the stage’s regular driver, Pete McGinnis, blood staining the right side of his shirt. Quinn stretched to lay a hand on the young man’s chest. Relief shot through him when he felt a shallow rise with each labored breath. Alive, but struggling.

Twisting to his left, he scanned the nearby storefronts and spotted a young boy scratching a stick in the dirt. “Hey, Billy. Run and fetch the doctor.” From a vest pocket, he pulled out a coin and flipped it at the boy’s feet. “Hurry now.”

As soon as the boy started off, Quinn turned back to the coach. “Ma’am?” The female now leaned against the back of the seat—head still down, stiff arms extended. “Miss?” He reached a hand over her fists and pulled on the reins. Under his touch, her arms trembled, but her fists remained clenched. Was the woman deaf? He hopped down and jogged around the back of the coach, glancing through the window at empty bench seats.

With a hand braced on the side of the coach, he set the brake. “Miss, release the reins.” He gently pried open the young woman’s gloved fists so he could tie off the reins. Under the hat brim, her eyes were squeezed shut, and he feared she might be injured, too.

“Are you hurt, ma’am?” He glanced over her slim figure clothed in a dark green jacket and skirt. Lean legs outlined by the dusty skirt and a rounded bosom moving in quick rhythm woke heat in his gut. At the inexplicable reaction, he clenched his jaw. Assessing possible injuries was part of his duty, but ogling a defenseless lady was not.

Had she fainted? He slid a finger under her chin and lifted. Her skin was as smooth as silk. Light brown lashes lay against creamy cheeks dusted with freckles. “Ma’am?”

She moaned, and her eyelids fluttered and then opened. “Are we safe? Did I drive us to a town?”

Hers were the greenest eyes he’d ever seen. Jade…that was the color. The intensity of her gaze hit him like a roundhouse punch straight to his chest. “You’re in Bull City, ma’am. I’m Sheriff Riley. Can you tell me what happened?”

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