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From Author Mary Connealy – STUCK TOGETHER
Tina Cahill finished hammering a hefty board across the front of Duffy’s Tavern. Carefully printed on the board were the words ‘Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here’.
It sent a message at the same time it nailed Duffy’s door shut.
Tina’s plan was to get his notice.
“That tears it!” Duffy roared from inside the saloon.
She stepped well out of the way expecting only one reaction from the galoot, and she got it.
With one hard shove, he swung the batwing doors open and knocked down her sign, which clattered across the wooden sidewalk. Tina was encouraged when it stayed in one piece—her construction skills were definitely improving and that was good because she meant to be at her mission for a long time and she’d need that sign again later.
Duffy Schuster glared at her.
Wagging her finger under his nose, she said, “Close this den of iniquity, Duffy Schuster.”
To make her point more fully, she looked behind her for her placard—she had this in addition to her sign so she could nail shut the tavern door with one and march back and forth carrying the other. Her placard said ‘Whiskey—The Poison Scourge’ on one side and ‘LIQUOR–A Thief in Your Mouth that Steals Your Brain’ on the other.
She spied the sign on its long, sturdy pole, leaning against the saloon and picked it up, intending to wave it in Duffy’s face.
“I am sick of you—” Duffy hot breath blasted her neck.
Startled to feel him so close, she whirled around. It was a complete accident that her placard slammed Duffy right in the head.
Duffy staggered backward through the swinging doors of the saloon, howling in pain. An unfortunately located spittoon tripped him and he fell, pin-wheeling his arms.
He backhanded his brother, Griss.
Griss, the worse for drink, bellowed a word that made Tina want to cover her ears. Her hands were busy with the sign though, so she had to listen to every bit of the foul diatribe.
Tina peeked over the top of the slapping doors. “I’m sorry, gentlemen.”
She wasn’t really. Well, she was. She hadn’t intentionally clubbed Duffy in the head. And it was just the worst sort of luck—for Duffy—that her placard was on a very stout stick. And it wasn’t her fault about the stick either. Why, just last week, Griss had snapped the handle of her sign right in half. So of course she’d chosen a thicker length of wood this time.
But if ever a man needed a few feet of lumber taken to his head it was Duffy Schuster…and his brother right along with him. So in that sense she wasn’t all that sorry.
Griss threw a punch at Duffy who tumbled out of the saloon and landed with a thud on his back, saloon doors flapping. Tina jumped away or he’d’ve landed right on her stylish, black half-boots.
“Get back, Tina!” Jonas, her brother—who was turning out to be a scold—shouted from behind her. “I told you to stay away from that saloon today of all days!”
Duffy regained his feet and met his angry brother with a wild roundhouse. Griss ducked and charged, head first, ramming Duffy in his sizeable belly.
The two grappled, shouting absolutely improper words that made Tina want to whack Duffy again and Griss too, while covering her ears.
A woman in this situation definitely needed extra hands.
The two men staggered right toward her.
“Tina! Look out!” Jonas’s feet pounded faster on the boardwalk. He grabbed her around the waist and whirled her away from the mayhem. Her sign swung, too. She felt it smack someone and hoped it wasn’t Jonas.
Tina twisted in Jonas’s arms to see her placard had redirected Griss’s next punch intended for Duffy, so it hammered Jonas in the back of the head.
Jonas, the peacemaker, the town parson, her loving brother, shoved her to safety, and turned back. “Now, you two settle—”
Jonas took the next fist right in the face.
Tina tried to catch him and went down under him in a whirl of her pink calico skirts