I’m so pleased to announce the release of the first book in my Dorado, Texas series of western historical novellas. Wandering Home is an expanded version ( by 4,000 words) of a story previously available in a Halloween anthology.
Widow Vevina Bernhard sees mysterious lights at night and believes her Texas ranch Shady Oaks is haunted. She needs protection for herself and her 4-year old son but the town’s sheriff offers no help. Ex-Texas Ranger Kell Hawksen hires on as a farrier while hoping to collect the bounty by staying in the area and tracking a stagecoach robber. On Samhain, fire erupts and Vevina and Kell battle both the danger and the depth of their feelings.
Spotting the stone structure that must be the jail, Kell drew close enough to read the “Dorado Jail” sign. So, that’s the town I’m in. After weeks on the trail, he accepted the fact all the towns blurred into one. His usual contacts were only the sheriff and the proprietor of whatever saloon or boarding house had the cheapest room rate. Once his questions were answered about the quarry he sought this time, he’d be riding toward the next town.
After he reined in Pepper and dismounted, he fought back a groan at the dull ache in his legs. On the fourth day of his trek from Victoria, covering thirty miles a day, he was ready for a night spent on a straw-filled mattress, instead of the hard-packed caliche. First, he needed to check in with the sheriff to let the man know he was on the lookout for the stage robber Bert Benton.
Old habits died hard. Then, he’d seek out a quiet room, a cleansing bath, and a hot meal—in that order. Tied to the hitching rail was a bay horse and partway into the alley next to the jail stood a single horse buggy.
With swiping motions, he cleared the dirt from the day’s long ride from his shoulders and the front of his clothes, then shrugged off his long duster and tossed it across the saddle. Removing his wide-brimmed hat, he ran a hand through his too-long wavy hair, hoping for an appearance that looked a bit less wild. As he settled his hat on his head, he climbed the wooden steps, hearing the thud of his boot heels on the wood planks, aware of the rattle of his spurs.
At that same moment, he registered the sound of a pair of raised voices and a child’s cry coming from inside the office. Training kicked in, and he moved on instinct. Leaning flat against the rough-wood wall, he scanned the almost-deserted street for anyone watching the jail. Seeing nothing suspicious, he steeled himself for what he might find then threw open the door, letting it crash against the wall. He stepped inside, knees bent and hand hovering over the Colt slung at his hip, and took note of the room’s occupants.
A short woman jostling a tow-headed boy on her hip stood in front of the battered desk. A plain brown bonnet covered her head. Whimpering, the youngster rubbed at his eyes with fisted hands.
Lounging in a wooden chair resting on its back legs sat a dark-haired man smoking a thin cheroot. His shiny boots were propped on the desk, and a tin star adorned the breast pocket of a chambray shirt pulled tight over a bulging stomach.
All three people turned toward the door and stared.
No dangerous situation here. At the sight of the attractive woman, Kell straightened to his full height and dragged his hat off his head. “Beg pardon. I heard the young’un’s cry and thought to be of assistance.” Might be I need more than a single night’s rest.
Here’s a peek at the covers for the stories yet to come in the series: Storybook Hero and My Heart Knew