Tag: Western Trail Blazer

SHANE–BY CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl2041I’ve had some surgery, which has cut down on my time at the computer, and so thought I’d bring back my post this week on one of my favorite stories, Shane.  Jack Schaefer’s book, Shane, has been classified in many sub-genres, but to me, it will always remain my favorite western romance.

Romance?  Shane?

This story cannot have a truly happy-ever-after ending for all the principal characters, so it normally wouldn’t make it to my “Top Ten” list for that very reason.  But the story itself is so compelling, so riveting, that there is no choice once you’ve read page one—you are going to finish it.  And it’s not just a story about a very odd love triangle, but also about Shane discovering that he is worthy, and a good person, despite what he’s done in his past.

Shane is the perfect hero—a drifter, a loner, and no one knows why.  He plans to keep it that way.  If only his pesky conscience didn’t get in the way, he might have stopped briefly at the Starrett’s homestead, then moved on.

But from the beginning of the book, we know there is something different about Shane.  The story is told through the eyes of Bob Starrett, the young son of Joe and Marion.  Bob is about ten years old, and his account of the people and action that takes place are colored with the wonderment and naivete of a child who will be well on his way to becoming a young man before the story is over.

SHANE512WAvcxk8L__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_The book starts with tension, as Bob is watching the stranger, Shane, ride in.  Shane comes to a fork in the road. One way leads down toward Luke Fletcher’s, the cattle baron who is trying to force the homesteaders out of the valley.  The other branch of the fork leads toward the Starretts, the homesteaders who will ultimately force Fletcher’s hand. Shane chooses that path, toward the Starretts, and the die is cast.

He would have looked frail alongside father’s square, solid bulk.  But even I could read the endurance in the lines of that dark figure and the quiet power in his effortless, unthinking adjustment to every movement of the tired horse. 

He was clean-shaven and his face was lean and hard and burned from high forehead to firm, tapering chin.  His eyes seemed hooded in the shadow of the hat’s brim.  He came closer and I could see that this was because the brows were drawn into a frown of fixed and habitual alertness.  Beneath them the eyes were endlessly searching from side to side and forward, checking off every item in view, missing nothing.  As I noticed this, a sudden chill, and I could not have told why, struck through me there in the warm and open sun.

In a nutshell, Shane drifts into the Wyoming valley, and is befriended by the Starretts.  Once there, he is quickly made aware of the brewing trouble between the homesteaders and the powerful local cattle baron, Luke Fletcher, who is set on running them all out of the valley.  Shane is firmly committed to helping Joe Starrett and the homesteaders who want to stay.  Fletcher’s men get into a fistfight with Shane and Joe in the general store, and Fletcher vows his men will kill the next time Joe or Shane come back into town.

Fletcher hires Stark Wilson, a well-known gunhawk, who kills one of the homesteaders that stands up to him.  Joe Starrett feels it is his duty, since he convinced the others to stay, to go kill Fletcher and Wilson.

Shane knocks Joe out, knowing that, though Joe’s heart is in the right place, he’s no match for a hired gun like Wilson.  There’s only one man who is—Shane himself, and that’s going to set him back on the path he’s so desperately trying to escape.

Shane rides into town and Bob follows him, witnessing the entire battle.  Shane faces Wilson down first, and then Fletcher.  Shane turns to leave and Bob warns him of another man, who Shane also kills.  But Shane doesn’t escape unscathed—Wilson has wounded him in the earlier gunplay.

Shane rides out of town, and though Bob wishes so much that Shane could stay, he understands why he can’t.  No.  Bob does not utter one of the most famous lines in cinema history—“Shane! Come back!” There’s good reason for this.  In the book, Bob’s growth is shown because of what he learns from Shane.  To call him back would negate that growth process.

He describes Shane throughout the book, and in many ways, with a child’s intuition, understands innately that Shane is a good man and will do the right thing, which is proven out time and again. So, he also realizes that there is no place for Shane there in the valley, now that the trouble has been handled.

Shane Movie posterimagesBob witnesses the conversation between his mother and Shane, as well, where so much is said—and not said.  It’s one of the major turning points in the book, though Bob, in his telling of it, doesn’t realize it—but the reader is painfully aware of it.  If Shane really is a good man, he will have no recourse but to leave.

This happens as the novel is drawing to a close, when Marian, Bob’s mother, asks Shane if he’s going after Wilson just for her.  He has knocked her husband out to keep him from going after the gunman.

Shane hesitated for a long, long moment. “No, Marian.” His gaze seemed to widen and encompass us all, mother and the still figure of father huddled on a chair by the window and somehow the room and the house and the whole place.  Then he was looking only at mother and she was all he could see.

“No, Marian.  Could I separate you in my mind and afterwards be a man?” 

Shane was Jack Schaefer’s debut novel, published in 1949.  It was honored in 1985 by the Western Writers of America as the best Western novel ever written—beating out other works such as Owen Wister’s The Virginian, Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage, and Louis L’Amour’s Hondo.

In 1963, Schaefer wrote Monte Walsh, a book that chronicles the passing of the Old West and the lifestyle of the American cowboy.

Though Schaefer never deliberately wrote for young adults, many of his works have become increasingly popular among younger readers.  Universal themes such as the transformation and changes of growing up, the life lessons learned, and rites of passage from childhood to becoming a young adult in his writing have been responsible for the upswing in popularity with this age group.

Shane movie poster 2imagesThough I consider Shane a romance novel, it’s a very different and memorable love triangle because of the unshakable honor of the three characters. I love the subtlety that Schaefer is such a master of, and the way he has Bob describing the action, seeing everything, but with the eyes of a child. If you haven’t read Shane, I highly recommend it—at less than 200 pages, it’s a quick, easy read, and unforgettable.

A gun is a tool, Marian; no better or no worse than any other tool: an axe, a shovel or anything.  A gun is as good or as bad as the man using it.  Remember that.  (Shane to Marian) 

A man is what he is, Bob, and there’s no breaking the mold.  I’ve tried that and I’ve lost.  But I reckon it was in the cards from the moment I saw a freckled kid on a rail up the road there and a real man behind him, the kind that could back him for the chance another kid never had. (Shane to Bob)

If you’ve never read Shane, I urge you to run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore or “buy with one click” for your Kindle. It’s a wonderful tale!

PRPGabriels Law WebI’m offering a DIGITAL COPY of my  western historical romance, GABRIEL’S LAW! All you have to do is leave a comment today with your contact information, and check back this evening after 9:00 p.m. to see if you are my lucky winner! For all of my work, click here: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

When Brandon Gabriel is hired by the citizens of Spring Branch to hunt down the notorious Clayton Gang, he doesn’t suspect a double-cross. When Allison Taylor rides into town for supplies, she doesn’t expect to be sickened by the sight of a man being beaten to death by a mob. When Spring Branch’s upstanding citizens gather round to see a murder, nobody expects to hear the click of a gun in the hands of an angel bent on justice. Life is full of surprises.

Brandon and Allie reconnect instantly, though it’s been ten years since their last encounter. She’s protected him before. As Brandon recovers at Allie’s ranch, the memories flood back, and his heart is lost to her. He also knows staying with her will ruin everything. She’s made a life for herself and her son. She’s respectable. She has plans – plans that don’t include him. But could they?

Trouble is never far away, and someone else wants Allison Taylor and her ranch. Danger looms large when a fire is set and a friend is abducted. Allie and Brandon discover they are battling someone they never suspected; someone who will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who stands in his way.

As Brandon faces down the man who threatens to steal everything from him, he realizes he is desperately in love with Allie and this new life they are making for themselves. Has Brandon finally found everything he’s ever wanted only to lose it all? Can Brandon and Allie confront the past, face down their demons, and forge their dreams into a future?

FAVORITE SHORT STORIES–WHAT ARE YOURS? by CHERYL PIERSON

Cheryl7126Do you like short stories? I love them, both as a writer and as a reader. I’m so thrilled that they’re making a comeback in today’s world! I remember as a teenager in high school English class, some of the short stories that were taught at the time. You can probably recall these classes, too—we read many short stories and novels that couldn’t reach into our world and touch us, not at that age.

It’s odd to me that had some of the selections been different, or more age-appropriate, this might have fostered a love of reading the short story rather than dread for so many. The essay questions at the end of the story seemed hard for many of the students to understand, much less formulate answers to in order to show what they learned from the story. As high school freshmen in the 14-15 year-old age range, and with our limited knowledge of the world, it was difficult for some to be able to grasp symbolism or foreshadowing among other story elements. I realized later on that some people never grasp it, no matter how old they are. Reading with that kind of intuitive understanding is not something everyone is able to do.The Lady or the Tiger

Being forced to read something for a grade rather than enjoyment was something I didn’t understand. For one thing, I enjoyed reading. As with any kid, some things held my interest more than others. But I never could fathom some of my classmates who actually said, “I hate to read.”

The Most Dangerous GameI had some favorite short stories, even out of the ones we were forced to read. Who could forget Whitney and Rainsford in Richard Connell’s THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME? Frank Stockton’s THE LADY OR THE TIGER? Or, TO BUILD A FIRE, by Jack London?

Those stories were what inspired me to want to write “like that” and I often wondered in later years, seeing my kids’ English books and the stories they contained, where our next generation of writers would come from? There was certainly nothing “inspiring” in those stories. I was wishing there were some of the stories from “the good ol’ days” in their books, even though at the time I had been their age, many of my classmates had detested those same stories that I loved so much.

But one day, my daughter came home from school and said, “Mom, we read a story today that was so To Build a Firecamp-firegood! It’s about a guy who is trying to survive in the cold and he tries to build a fire…” And a few years later, my son couldn’t wait to tell me about a story they’d read about an island, where men were hunted…

Not everyone who loves to read wants to become a writer.  So I’m wondering…was there a particular short story that you read when you were younger that made you want to write? Or even just made you become an avid reader? Since so many of us write westerns, was there a western short story that influenced you when you
were younger? The one that I loved was not really a short story, but a short novel, Fred Gipson’s OLD YELLER. In later years, another one that stood out was Shirley Jackson’s THE LOTTERY.Old Yeller

TheGunfighterI’m giving away a free copy of one of my short stories today, THE GUNFIGHTER’S GIRL. This is a re-issue of one of my earlier stories, SCARLET RIBBONS.  All you have to do is comment, and check back later this evening after 9:00 to see if you won!

For all of my work, you can click here:

Cheryl”s Amazon Author Page:

A TRUE LOVE STORY by CHERYL PIERSON

This love story starts many years before the lovers ever met. It begins with something that happened when John Rollin Ridge was an eleven-year-old boy, and witnessed his father’s bloody murder.

John Rollin Ridge, called Cheesquatalawny, or “Yellow Bird,” by his fellow Cherokee tribesmen, was the son of John Ridge, and the grandson of a prominent Cherokee leader, Major John Ridge. Major Ridge was one of the most powerful and wealthy members of the eastern Cherokee tribes in the early 1800s. By the time John Rollin Ridge was born in 1827, the State of Georgia had discovered gold on Cherokee lands and wanted them relocated. Cherokee leaders, at first, were opposed to signing treaties with the U.S. Government, refusing to go.

But the State of Georgia confiscated Cherokee lands in 1832, including the homes and thriving plantation owned by some members of the tribe, including another prominent family, the Waties. Major Ridge and his son John opposed the removal, but because of the inevitability of the outcome of the situation, they and some of the other leaders reversed their stance on negotiating with the federal government. Major Ridge, and John Ridge, along with Stand Watie and his brothers, formed the powerful Ridge-Watie-Boudinot faction of the Cherokee council, standing in favor of the Cherokee Removal. Their signing of the Treaty of New Echota sold Cherokee lands and facilitated the removal of the Cherokee people to Indian Territory—what is now Oklahoma—an act considered treasonous by many.

Another faction of Cherokees following John Ross refused to ratify the treaty signing.  This segment was known as The Anti-Removal National Party. The word was out—traitors were to be executed.

Blood Law (also called blood revenge) is the practice in traditional customary Native American law where responsibility for seeing that homicide is punished falls on the clan of the victim. The responsibility for revenge fell to a close family member (usually the closest male relative). In contrast to the Western notion of justice, blood law was based on harmony and balance. It was believed that the soul/ghost of the victim would be forced to wander the earth, not allowed to go to the afterlife, unless harmony was restored. The death of the killer (or member of the killer”s clan) restored the balance.  READ MORE HERE:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Law

Members of this group targeted Stand Watie and his brother, Elias Boudinot, along with their uncle, Major Ridge for assassination.  On the morning of June 2, 1839, John’s father, John Ridge, was dragged from his bed by some of the tribesmen of The Anti-Removal National Party and murdered as his wife and children, including young John, looked on. This event would color John’s life until the end.

Mrs. Ridge took her family to northwestern Arkansas. Young John’s thirst for vengeance was tempered only by a young woman he met and fell in love with, Elizabeth Wilson.

 

They first met when John was studying Latin and Greek with a local missionary. Elizabeth worked for the missionary. John wrote to his cousin, “There is a prettily shapely girl of about 16 or 17 years, who is very friendly and gives me a quantity of enjoyment in her company, whenever I get tired of dusty pages of legal technicalities.”

 

Elizabeth was part Native American, and John was half Cherokee. To her, he was the handsomest man she’d ever seen, and she believed him to be a talented writer—one of the most intelligent men in the country. John was not only entranced by Elizabeth’s beauty, but the sweet honesty and goodness of her character, and her brilliance. They married in May, 1847, and though they were happy, their love couldn’t overcome the bloody images that John tried to forget, the tragedy that consumed him.

As an adult, he often dreamt of the morning of his father’s murder, awakening from sleep screaming.  Elizabeth was at his side, calming him. She promised to help him fulfill his desire for revenge any way she could.

“There is a deep seated principle of revenge in me which will never be satisfied, until it reaches its object,” he told her.

Eventually, they traveled to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) where they joined forces with other allies of the Ridge faction, all of them eager to track down and punish those responsible for the deaths of the Major Ridge, and members of Stand Watie’s family. In the end, thirty-two of the thirty-six men who had been responsible for the murders were found and killed.

John squared off against one of the four remaining assassins, Judge David Kell. When Kell advanced on John, John shot him, claiming it was done in self-defense. But John had no faith in getting a fair trial (Cherokee court) and he and Elizabeth ran to Missouri, settling in Springfield.

 

John became a freelance writer, selling articles to various newspapers to supplement his salary in the county clerk’s office.  He and Elizabeth now had a baby girl, Alice.

When news of the discovery of gold in California hit Springfield, John left his clerk’s position and joined a group of men heading west to seek their fortunes. He promised Elizabeth that he would send for her as soon as he could. During the time he was gone, he had no luck mining, although he loved the West. In 1853, he left mining in search of other work, accepting a clerk position in Yuba, California.

During this time he wrote for a New Orleans newspaper under the name “Yellow Bird.” About this time, he also contributed poetry and drawings to The Pioneer, a San Francisco  publication.

But in 1853, something else happened to John. He wrote a letter to his mother, describing an illness he’d come down with, “billious fever,” which caused “ulceration of the bowels.” He was alone, with no one to care for him, and was, in fact, dying. Leaving Alice in the care of John’s mother, Elizabeth headed west in the company of a family going to California.

John was near death when Elizabeth arrived, but through her constant care, she got him through it and back

on his feet. “You bless me with your love, dear Lizzie,” he told her.

Alice Ridge as a young woman

Elizabeth returned for their daughter, and once again traveled to California. John had, at her encouragement, sold several sonnets he’d written about the beauty of California. He seemed less angry, and gave credit for his improved temperament to his writing endeavors.

John wrote a book about the notorious outlaw, Joaquin Murieta, a crowning literary achievement. He never received any royalties, since his publisher went bankrupt, but because the book had been so popular, he was able to rise to full time editing jobs for such newspapers as the Marysville Democrat, the Grass Valley Union, and the Sacramento Bee.

After the Civil War, Ridge was invited by the federal government to head the Southern Cherokee delegation in postwar treaty proceedings. Despite his best efforts, the Cherokee region was not admitted as a state to the Union. In December 1866, he returned to his home in Grass Valley, California, where he and Elizabeth had made their home for more than fifteen years. Their daughter, Alice, married.

John Rollin Ridge and daughter Alice

The Ridges lived an idyllic life. But John’s health failed him at the age of thirty-nine. He became afflicted with “softening of the brain,” a disease that took its toll quickly through the spring and summer of 1867.John Rollin Ridge, Yellow Bird, died on October 5, 1867, leaving behind a collection of fine articles, sketches and poetry. In 1868, Elizabeth published an anthology of his poetry.

Elizabeth died in 1905 and was buried beside her husband in Grass Valley.

 

OF HER I LOVE

I READ but a moment her beautiful eyes,
I glanced at the charm of her snowy-white hand
I caught but the glimpse of her cheek”s blushing dyes
More sweet than the fruits of a tropical land;

 

I marked but an instant her coral-hued lips,
And the row of sweet pearls that glimmered between–
Those lips, like the roses the humming bird sips
On his bright wing of rainbows, when summer is green.

 

I timidly gazed on a bosom more white
Than the breast of the swan, more soft than its down–
To rest on whose pillows were greater delight
Than all else of rapture that heaven may own.

 

I gazed but a second on these, and on all
That make up the sum of her angel-like form,
And ere I could think I was bound in her thrall,
And peace fled my breast, as the birds flee a storm!

 

I am bound in love”s pain, and may never be free,
Till the bond is dissolved in her own melting kiss:
Till her loveliness, like the embrace of a sea,
Enclasps me, and hides me in the depths of its bliss.

 

John Rollin Ridge

John”s tombstone

COOKING IN WRITING BY CHERYL PIERSON

Cooking is the bane of my existence.  I know, I know. I hear the gasps of disbelief now! (Big grin here, because I know there are some people who agree with me, too.)  I think the reason for this is that my mother was TIRED by the time I came along. She was 35 when she had me, and already had her hands full with my 10-year-old and 12-year-old sisters. Like the Merle Haggard song says, “Mama Tried”—but it just didn’t work out.  I would have rather been climbing trees than making cookies.

When I was around 5 years old, our entire family went through the allergy clinic.  I got a wonderful flash of news that day. The doctor told my parents to let me eat whatever I wanted for breakfast—even if it was a hotdog.  I never liked “normal” breakfast food at breakfast—I usually just wasn’t hungry in the morning. I married a man who could wake up and eat a huge breakfast—but not me. Opposites DO attract.

So when I began to write, I tended to forget that my characters needed a meal every once in a while.  I still don’t write long cooking scenes, or even dinner scenes.  I know that dinner scenes most usually have a deeper meaning in our writing, or are meant to reveal something. I will confess, I have never forgotten the part in Sweet Savage Love where the Mexican general makes Ginny come to his room as he is eating breakfast, offers her a bite, and then makes sure Steve sees it. I almost hated Ginny in that moment, seeing the scene through Steve’s eyes after he’d given himself up to save her. I had to remind myself she was just as duped as he had been. Anyone else remember that scene?

I wrote a scene in my novel TEMPTATION’S TOUCH, where Kendi is making breakfast for herself and Jackson Taylor, the wounded DEA agent she’s caring for.  In FIRE EYES, Jessica makes oatmeal, and at one point she has cooked something earlier. But my cooking scenes are few and far between.

How about you? Do you love to cook? Hate it? Love to read about it or write about it? Anyone have a most memorable cooking scene in reading or writing ventures you want to share?

I will leave you with an excerpt from TEMPTATION’S TOUCH where Kendi and Jackson share a meal, as well as an easy recipe—the first thing I ever learned to bake—Blonde Brownies.

Amidst all this, I should say that I’m very very thankful to be able to cook and do it well. It’s a talent I never cultivated, but I’m thankful every day that I have the appliances I have to cook with rather than what was available in the old west.  Yes, I’m going to cook tomorrow, but will be glad to have the leftovers to fall back on in the day after.

HAVE A WONDERFUL THANKSGIVING!

EXCERPT FROM TEMPTATION’S TOUCH:

She stirred the eggs and laid the unbuttered slices of bread onto a cookie sheet, then popped it into the oven to toast. Jack’s earlier confession about running drugs had been quite a surprise. He obviously wasn’t used to sharing information about himself, especially something so personal.

She sighed, turning the bologna, then cutting a slice in each piece as it rose up in the center. That confession had been honest, though totally unexpected. There were only two choices—to trust him, or not. If not, she needed to find him one of Tal’s old shirts and send him packing no later than tomorrow morning.

If she did trust him, that was a bit stickier. That meant more doctoring, more talking, more caring…and letting him stay until he recovered enough to…to what? Go back and get himself killed trying to rescue this ‘partner’ of his?

Kendi gave a caustic chuckle as she pulled the toasted bread from the oven. Some partner. She’d never forget the way Clint Rivers had bent and put the gun close to Jack’s head. That he’d shot to the side is beside the point, she thought indignantly. Logically, she realized if the man had wanted to, he could have killed Jack. But in her heart, she was angry he hadn’t killed the shorter man with him and driven Jack to a hospital for the care he needed. Didn’t partners take care of each other?

She lifted the eggs up from the pan to the plate, then the bologna, which she cut up. Even that small task would be too much for Jack to manage with his wounded hands.

Somehow, she realized her dilemma was solved. She couldn’t say how or why, but looking at the tray she’d put together, she knew Jack would be staying. No matter what happened, her life was already entwined with his. It had happened the moment she witnessed his ‘murder’—and it might very well end with her own.

Oddly, that was why Kendi trusted him. She had brought him into her home, and she had not called for help. She had cleaned and bandaged his wounds and sat up with him through the rest of the night. She had even laid down beside him to give him her own warmth.

She wanted to laugh at herself. Her fate had been decided the minute she stepped out of the house last night, intending to scare the high school kids off her property. She tried to tell herself there wasn’t room on the tray for two plates, and that was why she’d put the food on one common dish for both of them. But in her heart, she knew it was more.

She put the coffee carafe on the tray then slowly opened the silverware drawer and took out two forks. Eating separately from the shared plate was a lot like living individually in the same, suddenly small universe. She started toward the stairs with mingled fear and wonder, knowing there was nothing she could do to stop this world of theirs from turning, toward whatever end Fate dealt them. She wondered if Jack knew it, too.

BLONDE BROWNIES

4 eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla

1½  cups flour

2 ½  cups brown sugar

½ tsp. salt

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

½  cup (OR MORE!) choc. Chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat eggs well. Add brown sugar gradually, beating until well mixed. Add vanilla, flour, salt and mix well. Add chopped nuts and mix. Pour into a greased, 9×13 pan and sprinkle chocolate chips over top of the batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes (depending on your oven). This makes a 9×13 pan of brownies. You can half this recipe for an 8×8 pan, and reduce cooking time to 25 minutes.

FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL OF CHERYL’S WORK, CLICK HERE:  https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

One of History’s Unsung Heroines

Mary Preston Slosson isn’t one of the more well known women of the Old West, but to the prisoners in the Wyoming Territitorial Prison in Laramie, Mary was a rock star–and not for the reasons you might assume. She wasn’t the cook or a nurse. She didn’t help anyone escape–at least not in a physical sense. Mary was a chaplain–the first female chaplain in Wyoming and possibly in the United States.

Her story is unique for the day.  Born in 1858, Mary grew up with her minister father and her mother on a farm in New York state.  Her upbringing instilled in her a strong work ethic, religious values and hunger for knowledge that led her to pursue higher education. With her parents’ encouragement, she attended Hillsdale College in Michigan where she earned two degrees. Later she attended Cornell where she was the first women to earn a Ph.D. from that university. Her areas of expertise were philosophy and Greek, and her thesis was titled, “Different Theories of Beauty.”

Mary met Edwin Slosson in Kansas where she was serving as an assistant principal at a high school and he was finishing his MS degree. This is where the writer in me starts spinning tales. How exactly did they meet?  Were there immediate sparks?  Who spoke the first words?  That information is lost to history, but they were married August 12, 1891 and had a son in 1893.

What happened next is what gives Mary her unique place in history. Edwin’s career took them to the University of Wyoming in Laramie where he taught chemistry. Mary, who also went by May, saw a teaching opportunity of her own.  A firm believer that an idle mind was debilitating, she asked Pennitentiary officials for permission to conduct a lecture series for the prisoners.  The officials agreed, and the May Preston Slosson Historical Lecture Series was born–a tradition that continues to this day.

The prisoners loved Mary. One can only imagine the relief she brought from the hours of boredom, the encouragement from her faith, the interest she showed in individuals when they met in the prison dining hall to hear her speak. When the regular prison chaplain resigned, the prisoners petitioned to have Mary appointed in his place.  In 1899, she became the first female prison chaplain in the United States.

She spent at least four years in Laramie before moving to New York with Edwin, who added writing and editing to his list of career achievements. In Wyoming, women had the right the vote and were political equals. Wanting to share what she had  experienced in Wyoming, Mary became active in the women’s suffrage movement and was a popular speaker. She died in 1943, but she certainly left her mark on the world.

Mary is the kind of historical figure that fires up my imagination.  Can’t you see her as a heroine in a novel?  I sure can. I admire Edwin too.  He once filled in for an ailing Mary at a speaking engagement. When he was introduced as Mr. May Slosson, he smiled proudly and spoke eloquently of women’s rights, a tribute to his wife and her place in history.

 Don’t forget to leave a comment!  We’re celebrating our website make-over with a big giveaway to take place on Friday, Oct. 26th.  Winner #1 will receive a $100 gift card to either Amazon or B&N.  Winners #2 and #3 will receive $25 gift cards . . . Just leave a comment and you’re entered! 

A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS by CHERYL PIERSON

Well, who wouldn’t want a hero for Christmas…or FOUR of them? And they’ll all fit snugly in a stocking or on your e-reader!

Yep, I’m talking about my latest release, A HERO FOR CHRISTMAS, which is a collection of four of my Christmas themed historical romantic short stories! These are all available separately, as “single sell” short stories for only .99 through Western Trail Blazer, as well. But I was thrilled when my publisher suggested putting them all under one gorgeous cover and offering them as a collection.

A Night for Miracles is the first story in the collection. It will always be near and dear to my heart because it was the first holiday story I ever wrote, as well as being the first short story (which really turned into a novelette.) I still just love the story of Angela Bentley and Nick Dalton. Angela’s a widow, alone on Christmas Eve. Gunman Nick Dalton stops at her cabin in gathering wintry twilight. Wounded, and with three children in tow, there’s no chance of Angela telling him he has to ride on.  Will this be A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES for them?

Legend says that miracles happen on Christmas Eve. Can a chance encounter between a gunfighter and a lonely widow herald a new beginning for them both? On this special night, they take a gamble that anything is possible–if they only believe! Available now with WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER PUBLISHING!

The second story is a very different kind of Christmas story, HOMECOMING. I wrote this story long before I ever even thought of selling it. In fact, I wasn’t sure I COULD sell it. But it turned out better than I ever imagined, with so much power and emotion, I’ve had many, many compliments on it. It still humbles me, to think of this story that came from nowhere, one I wasn’t sure would ever see the light of day—has now become one that so many people have enjoyed.

       A holiday skirmish sends Union officer, Jack Durham, on an unlikely mission to fulfill his promise of honor to a dying Confederate soldier—his enemy. In an odd twist of fate, a simple assurance to carry young Billy Anderson’s meager belongings home to his family a few miles away becomes more than what it seems.

       As he nears his destination, the memories of the soldier’s final moments mingle with his own thoughts of the losses he’s suffered because of the War, including his fiancee, Sarah. Despite his suffering, can Jack remember what it means to be fully human before he arrives at the end of his journey? Will the miracle of Christmas be able to heal his heart in the face of what awaits him?

MEANT TO BE is the third story in the collection. It’s a time travel story of love that crosses centuries. The heroine, Robin Mallory, is stranded on Christmas Eve and begins to walk for help, only to find that she’s walked down a road to the past and into the arms of handsome a Confederate soldier, Jake Devlin. Will she stay in 1864, or will she return to the lonely life she left behind? (If he looked like Jimmy Thomas, that would be a very easy decision!)

       Robin Mallory is facing another Christmas all alone when she decides to surprise her aunt and uncle several hours away. A flat tire leaves her stranded near a desolate section of interstate. With a snowstorm on the way, Robin has no choice but to walk, hoping to find shelter before the storm hits full force. But the road she chooses leads her back in time, to a battleground she’s only read about in history books.

       Confederate Jake Devlin, an officer in Stand Watie’s Cherokee forces, is shocked when the spy he jumps turns out to be a girl. She’s dressed oddly, but her speech and the ideas she has are even stranger than her clothing. Where did she come from, and what is he going to do with her? Will he be able to hold on to his heart? Is it possible for a love this strong to span centuries? It is, if it was MEANT TO BE…

And last but not least is a story I have wanted to write since I was a little girl. If you’ve ever heard the old folk song, SCARLET RIBBONS, perhaps you’ll understand why. In the song, the  singer (I love the Harry Belafonte version more than any other) tells of hearing his little girl praying for some scarlet ribbons for her hair. Everything is closed for the night, and there’s no hope of him being able to buy them for her; such a simple request and no way to grant it. All night long he’s thinking about it and finally goes to peek in on her only to find her asleep, the scarlet ribbons on her bed. “If I live to be a hundred, I will never know from where…came those lovely scarlet ribbons, scarlet ribbons for her hair…” Well, I can never get through that song without getting misty eyed, but I always wondered about the story behind the scarlet ribbons…so I wrote one.

    Miguel Rivera is known as El Diablo, The Devil. Men avoid meeting his eyes for fear of his gun. Upon returning to a town where he once knew a brief happiness, Miguel is persuaded by a street vendor to make a foolish holiday purchase; two scarlet ribbons.

       When Catalina, his former lover, allows him to take a room at her boarding house, Miguel soon discovers a secret. Realizing that he needs the scarlet ribbons after all, he is stunned to find them missing. Can a meeting with a mysterious priest and the miracle of the Scarlet Ribbons set Miguel on a new path?

Now you can get all these stories under one cover! The print version will not be available until next week, but the kindle version is available NOW.http://www.amazon.com/A-Hero-for-Christmas-ebook/dp/B009R2SGRQ/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1350438073&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=A+Hero+For+Christmas+by+Cheryl+Pierson

I will be giving away a digital copy today to one lucky commenter!

For all my books, short stories and anthologies, visit my Amazon author page here:

 

I CAN’T COMPLAIN! by Cheryl Pierson

When everything happens at once, sometimes you have to wonder if you will survive the madness—but when it’s all good, who can complain? Here’s what’s going on with me!

The release of a collaborative effort  through the Western Fictioneers group came about on Saturday, September 1. Our first of the series book, “WOLF CREEK BOOK 1:BLOODY TRAIL” came out and has already had four wonderful reviews! This book
was written by Jim Griffin,  James Reasoner, Larry Martin, Troy Smith, Clay More, and me. The plot was outlined for us by Troy, who came up with this brilliant idea, and our characters’ parts took wing from our own plans for them within the guidelines of the story. There will be many more books to follow in this series, and there will be a slew of different authors working on each edition.  More about this the next time I blog, on the 19th of September, when the whole crew of book one will be here to talk about this project!

Sometime later this month, or early in October, I have two new .99 short stories that will be released through WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER. Meant To Be is a time travel Christmas story. The heroine, Robin Mallory, is stranded on Christmas Eve and begins to walk for help, only to find that she’s walked down a road to the past and into the arms of handsome a Confederate soldier, Jake Devlin. Will she stay in 1864, or will she return to the lonely life she left behind?

The other short story is also a holiday tale about a wounded gunslinger that winds up on the doorstep of widow Angela Bentley. She would patch him up and send him on his way, but for the three children he has with him.  In the midst of a blinding snowstorm, what precious gifts can she contrive to make their Christmas
special? Can she help them recover from the loss they’ve suffered? And what will become of her and Nick Dalton, the man with the dangerous reputation, on this…A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES?

In October, my contemporary novel, TEMPTATION’S TOUCH, will be released through The Wild Rose Press. TEMPTATION’S TOUCH gives Jack and Kendi a second chance at heaven…if they can manage to live long enough to enjoy it.

Two broken hearts find a second chance at love, but only if they manage to survive– When Kendi Morgan witnesses an attempted murder near her home one night, she makes the only choice possible: help the victim. But bringing the handsome stranger into her home traps her in the middle of a deadly drug war. Wounded DEA agent Jackson Taylor is a man with nothing to lose and nothing to fear–until he falls for a beautiful woman who risked everything to save his life. With his sting operation gone awry, Jackson realizes he is all that stands between Kendi and a powerful drug lord seeking revenge. Can their newfound love survive? Or will Jackson sacrifice his partner’s life and his own in exchange for Kendi’s safety
and their future together?

Also in October, my story THE KEEPERS OF CAMELOT will appear in the Western Fictioneers Christmas anthology, SIX GUNS AND SLAY BELLS: A CREEPY COWBOY CHRISTMAS. I am so honored to have my story in this collection.

This Western Fictioneers Christmas anthology is a new take on the old west, filled with Christmas
stories that entertain you with a paranormal twist. This multi-authored collection includes short stories by some of the finest writers in the genre, and gives you something different in the way of holiday stories, while keeping to the ‘old west’ theme.  Look for it on October 31.

 

That’s what’s happening with me—and I barely have time to turn around! I’ll keep you posted as release dates become available.  For all of my current books and short stories, go to:

https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

WHAT BRINGS US ALL TOGETHER

I love reading stories about how other writers got started on their writing paths, because it makes me realize AGAIN what holds us all together as writers! So many of us have similar experiences, yet many of them are very unique–and they all have brought us together in this world of writing and sharing our stories with our readers.

I had written the “book that started it all” for me–my “baby”–trouble was, by the time I finished it, it was WAY too long to be published (for a first time author).  It’s around 284,000 words!  (But who’s counting!?)  I sent it off (FINALLY!) and of course, it was rejected by all the agents I sent it to, except for three.  Those three wanted to see something shorter.  That’s what made me get busy and write the “next” book–another western, but different characters and MUCH MUCH shorter.  I got an agent and was sure that that book would be “the one” to be published.  But, no.  I was already working on book # 3– another western.  When I shipped it off to my agent, again, it was with high hopes and crossed fingers.  He wrote to tell me that “No one reads westerns much anymore.  Have you got anything different?”

My husband had very graciously been “standing by” all this time while I had more or less taken a
break from working to write.  He was starting to get impatient about the way our money was at the time, and I was worried, too.  I went back to work part time, first as an emergency serivces operator (911) and then as a “guard” in the National Cowboy and Western Heitage Museum here in Oklahoma City.
My husband was not happy about me switching from the 911 job to the museum, but I knew I had to do it for self-preservation.  It was not nearly as much money per hour, but the pressure was not as tremendous either.  I enjoyed working there.  And as time went by, I realized that it was where I neededto be.

For whatever reason, I found that people who came through the museum were willing to open up to me and talk about all kinds of things–I don’t know if it was because we were strangers and they felt safe about telling me about old emotional wounds, knowing they’d never see me again– but even my co-workers noticed it.  No, it didn’t happen every day, but I’m thankful that I was “there” for them when
it did happen.  It’s hard to explain in an e-mail, but I felt like I was where I needed to be for those 2 years that I worked there.  The Viet Nam vet who talked about losing his best friend, the man whose father got him out of going to Viet Nam who blamed himself when his best friend was killed over there, the couple who had married, divorced, and then remarried after TWENTY YEARS, the man who had never made peace with his father before his father passed on. . . and on and on.

What does that have to do with writing?  In a way, it took the focus off — and the pressure– to crank
out that next book and hope that it would sell.  I realized that I would be writing, whether my books sold NOW, LATER, or NEVER.  I was a writer, and that was what I loved to do.  I was forced to quit the job at the museum due to a bout of poor health that year, and I never went back to work there, but I made some lifelong friends among my coworkers that I never would have met had I not worked there.  I gained a new perspective on my role as a writer, and what writing meant to me.  It was not a “job”–it
was something I’d been doing, literally, since I could hold a pencil.

 I’ve gone on to write several full length novels, and that third one I wrote (the western that “no one is reading anymore”) was the first one I sold.  Fittingly enough, the heroine is named for my daughter Jessica, who is my biggest fan, and the hero bears the same last name as my dear friend and supervisor at the museum, Martin Turner, who has since passed on. (The cover at the left is the 1st cover my book had when it was published with The Wild Rose Press. The one below is the new one it was given when it was reissued with Western Trail Blazer.)

It all connects.  Success is measured in so many ways for so many people, but for me, that little
“detour” of 2 years at the museum was filled with cherished memories, and I think it helped me as a writer in so many ways.    At the time, I saw it as something I had to do to help the family financially, but now, I realize it was not just the money I earned– it was the building of friendships, and helping others, and learning more about human nature and healing the spirits of those who confided in me in whatever small way I could.

I’m still hoping to sell the ‘book of my heart”– that 284,000 word saga– but if I don’t, I’m okay
with it.  I enjoyed writing it, and I will probably still be working on it, rewriting on it, cutting and editing on it forever.

What got you started writing? Any budding writers out there who want to share their experiences? I love it that we are all brought together by this wonderful fove of writing!

All my books and short stories are available here: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

KANE’S PROMISE IS HERE!

Last year, I started to write a short story for a western anthology that I wanted to submit to. I had an idea that wouldn’t let me go, no matter how hard I tried to shake it off. I normally write romance.
But this story was to be a western, with no romance involved. My “what if” concerned the long reaching effects of an Indian massacre and kidnapping on a young white boy, Will Green.

To tell a story like that, I was going to have to be inside the boy’s head. So the story would have to be told from the first person POV—something I just never do. It’s always been a temptation of mine to write something in first person. But could I pull it off? First person, a boy, a child.  I had to try, because there was just no other way to do it.

Once I began to write KANE’S REDEMPTION, I could see that the “short story” was not going to remain “short.” The word count limit for stories for the anthology was 5,000 per story. When I stopped to count, I was already at double that amount. I laid the story aside and started another shorter story in order to finish it in time to submit. But when I came back to KANE’S REDEMPTION, I was free to make it as long as it needed to be.

By the time the story ended at around 25,000 words, I knew that it truly wasn’t finished, even then. So much had happened to young Will and Jacobi Kane, the man who rescued him from the Apache, that I knew this was going to be a series of novellas. In the first book, Will and Jacobi forged quite a relationship, first of necessity and then of a father/son bond. But that relationship was only just beginning.

I wrote KANE’S PROMISE, book 2 in the series, that carries them on into the next year of Will’s life.  When a posse comes calling to ask Jacobi Kane to help them track the Apache, will he go? He’s made a promise to his first wife to avenge her, as she lay dying in his arms, but now he has other responsibilities.

Ten-year-old Will is torn between staying with his pregnant stepmother and following Jacobi. He must make a gut-wrenching decision. But they are a family now, and family helps one another, no matter
what.

BLURB:

Kane’s Promise, the second in a series of three, is the continuation of Kane’s Redemption, the story of Will Green, a young boy whose family was murdered by the Apache, and Jacobi Kane, the man who rescued Will from the Indians.

In Kane’s Promise, Jacobi Kane must lead a band of lawmen in their mission to
find and annihilate the remnants of the Apache renegades who were responsible
for killing Will’s parents and Kane’s wife and children.

But Will knows he belongs at Jacobi Kane’s side—not left behind in the safety
of the cabin. Once they find the Apaches, all hell breaks loose.

Can Kane protect Will and see this battle to a final end?

EXCERPT:  Will and Jacobi are getting ready to leave Colbert’s Ferry Station when Marshal Eddington, one of Jacobi’s old nemeses, decides to cause trouble. He has just insulted Jacobi in front of everyone, and Will, unable to stand Jacobi’s silence, jumps down from his horse and attacks the unsuspecting marshal. Jacobi pulls Will off, but Eddington draws Jacobi into the fight. Here’s what happens:

“I ought to kill you!” Eddington’s eyes were murderous, and now that I had regained my senses, it dawned on me I had made us an enemy for life by making him look foolish in front of the other men. He looked back and forth at me and Jacobi, so I wasn’t certain who he meant to kill, but I was pretty sure he meant me.

Jacobi turned to look at Eddington, rising swiftly to close the few steps between him and the marshal. “If you ever lay a hand on him, Oscar, you’ll answer to me.”

Eddington was busy wiping the blood off his face but he looked up at Jacobi, his thick lips twisting in a sneer. “Go on. Tell me you know a hundred ways to kill me, and all of ’em would make me wish I’d never come into the world at all!”

You said it, Eddington. Not me.”

Eddington took a final disgusted swipe with his dirty bandana at the trail of blood that kept trickling from his nose.

“I believe ’em, Kane,” he spat. “All those rumors about you bein’ part Injun your own self. You’re no better’n Laughing Wind hisself. A murderin’—”

Jacobi jumped for Eddington, who had quickly gone for his knife. Jacobi landed squarely atop the marshal’s belly and delivered a hammering blow to his jaw at the same time. He easily knocked the marshal’s blade out of his hand as if it were child’s play. Eddington let out a loud “oomph” when Jacobi’s fist connected with his belly.

But Eddington had learned a few tricks of his own, and he was surprisingly quick to be as fat as he was. I’d always felt sorry for his horse, having to tote him all over creation, as heavy as he had to be.

Jacobi knew what Eddington’s next move would be before he made it, it seemed like. I’d only seen Jacobi fight twice before. The first time was when Red Eagle found us and tried to jump us. I could tell both Jacobi and Red Eagle knew they were fighting for their lives, but I couldn’t see much, bein’ as how it was in the middle of the night. The fight Jacobi and Laughing Wind had had was just as serious—a fight to the death, for Laughing Wind. But, in the heat of the battle that had been going on around me, I hadn’t absorbed the skill Jacobi had. The way he rolled and punched and parried Eddington’s
blows was like some kind of a dance.

After a few seconds, it was all over. I knew it wouldn’t take Jacobi long to end what he’d started.

Eddington had stopped trying to fight and was covering his head, instead. He was making the little girl noises again. Jacobi had sure beat the hell out of him, and it made my heart glad. I reckoned Jacobi understood just how I’d felt only a few minutes ago. I knew there wouldn’t be one word of lecture from him about me tearing in to Marshal Eddington, when he’d gone and done the same thing his own self. He rolled away from Eddington and came to his feet, breathing hard and just looking at the marshal for a few seconds. Then, he reached down and picked up his hat, dusting it off.

The other men had all gathered around, and even Mrs. Colbert and her daughters had come outside and stood watching. Marshal Eddington began to holler like a wild man when he saw everyone watching him.

“I’ve got witnesses! Kane, you’re going to pay, one way or another! You and that whelp of yours—”

Jacobi took a step forward, planting his foot squarely on Eddington’s wounded thigh, directly over the bullet hole.

“Son of a bitch!” Eddington screamed. He tried to roll, but Jacobi dropped to his knees, grabbing Eddington’s arm and twisting as he kept his weight on the wound.

“Don’t threaten me, Eddington. Never, ever threaten my family, or me.”  He leaned close and spoke so softly no one else but me and Marshal Eddington could hear. “Don’t force me to pick one of those ‘hundred ways’, Marshal. I promise you, I will do it.”

Today I’m giving away a copy of KANE’S PROMISE to one lucky commenter. Please leave a comment along with your contact info to be entered—easy, huh?

You can find KANE’S PROMISE as well as KANE’S REDEMPTION here at my Amazon site:

Cheryl’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/cherylpierson

Kane’s Redemption is available at Barnes and Noble for Nook, and Kane’s Promise should be there as well by the end of the week.

Look for part 3 of the series, KANE’S DESTINY, in the fall! Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a copy of KANE’S PROMISE.

 

 

 

 

A REAL LIFE STORY BEHIND THE STORY–ONE MAGIC NIGHT

Have any of you ever incorporated your family history into your writing? Do you like to read books that are based, however loosely, on factual happenings? 

My mom was the oldest of eleven children. She knew everyone in our family and how they were related. Because she and my dad grew up together in a tiny little town in southeast Oklahoma (their high school had a graduating class of twelve), she also knew quite a lot about his side of the family as well.

But when I was younger, I was not interested in the stories she told me.  It was only later, when I
was grown and had children of my own, that I began to wonder and ask questions, and by that time, her memory had already begun to decline.

If you have ever read the book, The Education of Little Tree, (by Forrest Carter) or seen the HBO movie, this story might sound familiar. When Andrew Jackson decided that the Indians were to be assimilated into the white man’s world, he put lots of plans into action that would take years to snowball and evolve into what they eventually became—a truly shameful period in the US governmental policies and procedures. One of Jackson’s plans, besides Removal, that was carried through into subsequent presidencies, was the idea of assimilating Native American children in white homes to integrate them more completely. The Native American children were taken from their villages
and given to willing white families (along with a tidy little government stipend for their troubles) to raise.

My great-great-great grandfather was one of these children.  We don’t know his real name. It was changed when he was delivered to his new “family,” a Presbyterian minister and his wife.  Their last name was Walls.  So his name was changed to Walls, and he was given the first name, David. Forbidden to speak his language, he was forced to forget all the ways of his People, and dress in white man’s clothing, go to white school.  But he was never going to be white, and his place in the world was divided so drastically that he could not fit in anywhere.  Eventually, the Rev. Walls sent David to medical school in Missouri.  When he returned to the small town where he’d been raised, he was a doctor who rode to his patients on horseback. Later, he married and had children, but it was not a happy union and his son, my great-great grandfather, became an alcoholic whose own children, in turn, left home as soon as they possibly could. My great grandmother, his daughter, married at 13.  Her older sister left home one day and never returned. No one ever knew what became of her.  This is a picture of my great grandmother, Josie Belle Walls McLain Martin (1882-1972). She was around the age of 25 when this was taken in 1907. (Not a lot to smile about–she had four children and her first husband had been killed in an accident. She married a man who had 6 children of his own, and they eventually had 7 together…times were really hard.)

I’ve often thought of these children that were abducted by our cavalrymen, and taken away to their white “families”, forbidden everything familiar and forced to adopt completely new and different ways, even down to their speech and childhood games—and their own names. Can you imagine it?  To never be allowed to see your mother and father again. Siblings separated and “given” to different families, their heritage and connection with one another lost forever.  How many tears must they have shed? And how lonely and separate they must have felt, how isolated, even into adulthood…so that most of them, I imagine, never were able to fit in anywhere in the world.

My story, ONE MAGIE NIGHT, first appeared in the 2011 SUMMER COLLECTION, available through Victory Tales Press. It is based loosely on what happened to my long-ago ancestor. I’m very happy to say it will also be available  (as of June 15) through WESTERN TRAIL BLAZER’S “dime novel” gallery  as a single-sell e-book publication for only .99! I don’t have a buy link yet, but if you check my Amazon link it should be on my page shortly after the 15th. I’m very excited about this story because of the personal meaning it has for me, and I’m so glad to see it come alive again in this great .99 e-book venue.

Thanks for stopping by today! I will leave you with an excerpt of ONE MAGIC NIGHT, and a look at the brand new cover (which I am in love with!)

BLURB:

Dr. Shay Logan has just returned to Talihina, Indian Territory, from medical school in Missouri. Shay
hopes to settle down and make a life for himself, but how?  He doesn’t belong to either world, Anglo or
Indian He’s made the acquaintanceof Katrina Whitworth at the July 4th town social, and the attraction is mutual from the very beginning. Shay begins to have hopes and dreams that may be out of the question…but Katrina seems to have stars in her eyes for him as well. Will she risk everything to be with him?

THE SET UP:  Katrina makes a social blunder, and Shay follows her into the woods to apologize to her, but when they return, Katrina’s drunken father humiliates her.  To make matters worse, her former beau shows a side of himself she had not seen before. Can Katrina and Shay have a life together that they so badly want?

FROM ONE MAGIC NIGHT:

As his hand started its descent, Katrina turned away.  But Shay’s arm shot out, grasping Whitworth’s hand and holding it immobile.

“You will not.”

Three words, quietly spoken, but with a heat that could have melted iron, a force that could have
toppled mountains.

Katrina’s father’s face contorted, his teeth bared, finally, as he tried to jerk away. He didn’t utter a word.  He stared up into Shay Logan’s eyes that promised retribution, as the seconds ticked by.  Finally, he lunged once more, trying to pull free, but Shay still held him locked in a grip of steel.  Only when he released that grip was Whitworth freed.

“You presume too much, Doctor Logan, unless you are assuming the care and responsibility of my
daughter.”

“Papa! Oh, please!” Katrina felt herself dissolving into a puddle of less than nothing beneath
stares of the townspeople of Talihina.  What had started as an exciting, beautiful evening had become an embarrassing nightmare.  It was torture to think that she was the cause of it all.  How she wished she had stayed home with Jeremy as she’d first planned, before Mrs. Howard had volunteered to keep him company.

Now, Papa was saying these things that she knew he would regret later.  It was always this way when he drank too much.  These accusations had gone beyond the pale of anything he’d ever said before.  But Shay Logan wouldn’t realize that.  He wouldn’t know that Papa would be sorry tomorrow.

Evidently, there was one thing Shay did recognize, though.  She saw the very slight flare of his nostrils as he drew in the scent of alcohol on her father’s breath, and in that instant, there was a flash of understanding in his eyes.

“You’ve had too much to drink, Mr. Whitworth,” he said in an even tone.  “I will overlook your behavior
toward me because of that, but not toward your daughter.  She has done nothing, yet you would strike her, and cause her shame.”

“She’s my daughter,” Whitworth replied sullenly.

“But not your property, Whitworth.  Never that.  You owe her an apology.”

“No, Shay, really—” Katrina began, then as her father whirled to look at her, she broke off, realizing her
mistake.  ‘Shay,’ she had called him.  As if she had known him forever.  As if she was entitled to use his given name freely.  As if she were his betrothed.

“‘Shay’ is it, daughter?  Not, ‘Dr. Logan’Shay.”  He spatt the words out bitterly.  He drew himself up, looking Shay in the face. “I’ll not be apologizing to her—or to you.  And I’ll expect nothing less than a wedding before this week’s end.  Do you understand me, Doctor?”

Shay had lost any patience he might have harbored.  “You understand me, Whitworth.  You will not dictate to me, or to your daughter on such matters of the heart.  As I say, the alcohol has got you saying things you’re going to regret, and—”

“Threatening me, are you?  Threatening me?”

“Truman.”  Jack Thompson stepped out of the crowd and smoothly came to stand beside Katrina.  “Let’s put this…unfortunate incident…behind us, shall we?”  He confidently tucked Katrina’s hand around his arm.  “I can see that the church auxiliary ladies have almost got everything set up
for this wonderful Independence Day meal—” he frowned at Mrs. Beal, nodding at the picnic tables behind her.  She jumped, motioning the other ladies to resume the preparation.

He gave a sweeping glance around the group of onlookers.  “I, for one, am ready to eat! How
about you all?”

Katrina was swept along at his side as he walked toward the tables, speaking to acquaintances and
friends, laughing and…and seething with tense anger the entire time.  She could feel it in his body, with every step he took and the tightness of his grip as he covered her hand with his. Katrina glanced back over her shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shay, but the crowd blocked her view.

“Smile, my dear,” Jack gritted into her ear.  “I’m hoping we can still salvage your virtue, no matter what happened, really, between you and the good doctor.  If I see him near you again, I’ll kill him.”

Petticoats & Pistols © 2015