Welcome to Excerpt Friday! Each Friday we’ll be featuring excerpts from recent releases by our very own Fillies. So grab a cup of coffee and read on. And if you find you’re hooked by what you read (and we know you will be!) just click on the book cover to purchase the entire book.
More Love and Laughter from Margaret Brownley!
From SNOW ANGEL, part of the anthology A Log Cabin Christmas
School teacher Maddie Parker is stranded at the log cabin schoolhouse with three students during a blizzard. Fireworks explode when Sheriff Donovan arrives at the cabin to rescue her:
“Am I ever glad to see you!” Maddie never thought to say such a thing. Bad blood existed between her and the sheriff ever since he’d stood up in front of the school board and objected to the town hiring a “greenhorn from Boston.” Since then, she’d simply ignored him except for when he tracked her down to deliver the latest complaint against her. Ignoring him was no longer an option. Not only did his presence seem to absorb the air in the room but she was now completely dependent on him.
He slammed the door shut and glared at her. She was ready to bury her grievances, but his brusque manner told her he was not. Never mind. He didn’t have to like or even approve of her. He just had to take them all home.
“You must be frozen,” she said. “Come over by the fire.” Not that the dying flames offered much warmth but it was something.
He was dressed in a long black duster and a wide-brimmed hat which made his tall form appear that much more impressive. A woolen scarf covered his mouth.
He yanked the scarf off his face but his eyelashes and eyebrows were white with snow. He set his lantern down on her desk and pulled off his gloves. He then clattered toward the fireplace on snowshoes, pushing church pews out of the way to clear a path. The cabin was only ten by fifteen feet wide, but now it felt even more cramped.
He rubbed his hands together and blew on them before unfastening the rawhide laces at his feet.
“Did you see the bear?” Sophie asked.
The sheriff stared down at her. “Bear?” His breath came out in a white plume.
“A ferocious one,” Jimmy said, holding up his hands claw-like to demonstrate.
“And he charged after us,” Sophie said in an indignant voice.
“No one told me there were bears here,” Maddie added. Or that a Texas winter could be so brutal.
The sheriff shrugged. “We’re in the woods. That’s where bears live.” He met her gaze, his eyes challenging her. His rugged square face was anchored by an intriguing cleft chin. Unlike most men in town, he was clean-shaven, with just a hint of a shadow at his jaw.
“Don’t you have bears in Massachusetts?”
“Yes, but they have the good sense to hibernate in the winter,” she replied, retaining her cool composure.
“Probably woke from all the racket you made. Bears don’t like to be disturbed.”
Sophie brightened. “I told you we shouldn’t make so much noise.”
Maddie patted her head. “Yes, but then maybe Sheriff Donovan wouldn’t have found us.” She clapped her hands. “Gather up your things, everyone. We’re going home.”
Sheriff Donovan turned, hands at his waist, feet apart, an incredulous look on his face. “Ma’am, I hate to break it to you, but we’re not goin’ anywhere. Not tonight, at least. It’s wicked out there. The road is blocked. We’re stuck here till morning.”
From A PONY EXPRESS CHRISTMAS, part of the anthology A Pioneer Christmas
Ellie-May Newman has just paid good money to save a man from a hanging
The prisoner picked his wide-brim hat off the ground, slapped it against his thigh and pressed it on his head. He stood straight and tall, shoulders wide, giving his dusty trousers, rumpled shirt and wrinkled vest more dignity than they deserved.
“Thank you, ma’am. Sure appreciate it. The name’s Corbett. Michael Corbett. And you are . . . ?”
“Much obliged, Miss Newman.” He then turned and casually walked away, the second man to do so that day.
“Wait!” she yelled. “Where do you think you’re going?” He kept walking so she lifted the shotgun skyward and fired.
That stopped him. He held his back toward her for a full moment before making a slow turn. “Gonna get the horse those hombres stole from me.”
She frowned. “That sounds like a bad idea.”
“I paid ten dollars for that sorry mare not two days ago.”
“And I paid twenty-five dollars for you.”
He hung his thumbs from his vest pockets. “That was your mistake, ma’am. I’m not worth more than fifteen.”
“Maybe so, but I intend to get what I paid for.”
He considered this a moment before asking, “And what might that be, Miss Newman?”
“You, Mr. Corbett, are going to help me find my brother.”