ROAD TRIPS, AS INSPIRATION (AND A GIVEAWAY!) by VONN MCKEE

 

I’m  honored to present my first blog for PETTICOATS & PISTOLS! I’m friends with several of the “fillies” and have loved reading P&P posts over the years. Now, I’m not known as a romance writer, but you know how it goes. Romance sneaks into most stories, whether it’s happily-ever-after, unrequited, reunited, or any other brand of amour.

I just returned from a trip to Colorado for a convention and spent a few days on each end of it knocking around the gorgeous Centennial State. I passed through time-capsule mining towns, the Mile-High City, curvy mountain passes, aspen groves … and I hit a killer jewelry sale in a little shop in Estes Park. It got me thinking about road trips.

I once dated a guy who said that taking a road trip together was the true test of a relationship. Come to think of it, he and I never took a road trip together … and, all these years later, we’re still friends. Perhaps it was best that we never tested the limits of a perfectly good relationship!

There have been many tandem excursions over the years – most pleasant, some spectacularly bumpy – but I’ve always been especially fond of hitting the road solo for relaxation, research, or seeing friends and family in other states.

As a writer, I get tons of inspiration when I’m riding alone in my SUV, also known as “Bluesy.” Sometimes it’s a song or short story idea, or I’ll see something that relates to a novel WIP. Several years ago, I was driving with my mom through northern Iowa and we passed a two-story white farmhouse with a corner tower, set back from the road on a bit of a hill (similar to the one in the photo). I can’t tell you why, but a story idea suddenly whooshed into my head. I could imagine a woman looking out from the tower’s top floor window at a man riding toward the house. I sensed that the woman mistook the approaching rider for an old lover.

It took a while for me to get around to writing the short story, “Wren’s Perch,” about a goodhearted Iowa man who marries a broken-hearted woman. It turned out to be a personal favorite of mine and was a 2019 finalist for Western Writers of America’s Spur Award. It still gives me a little shiver when I remember passing that farmhouse and having the elements of Albert and Lydia’s story rush into my conscience … as if they were waiting for me to drive by.

I often tell friends and family members who are about to embark on road trips to “look for something you’ve never seen before,” even if the route is familiar. After all, I had driven past that Iowa farmhouse dozens of times, taking my parents to their lake cabin in Minnesota. But one day, it told me a story.

**********

Because I’m so thrilled to be with you all today, I’d love to give away TWO books. The story I just talked about, “Wren’s Perch,” is included in Five Star Publishing’s anthology, The Trading Post and Other Frontier Stories (with other fine short fiction from heavy-hitter Western writers like Michael Zimmer, Johnny D. Boggs and Matthew P. Mayo). Also, I’ve released a collection of all Vonn McKee stories called Comanche Winter and Other Stories of the West.

If you don’t happen to win a copy of either book, here’s are links to purchase:

The Trading Post and Other Frontier Stories
Comanche Winter and Other Stories of the West

Remember, your REVIEWS keep writers writing!
Thanks for stopping by and please say howdy in the comment section!

All the best,
Vonn McKee
Website | Facebook

Jokes, a Fork, and a Give Away!

I’m writing my blog post this month from Aladdin, Wyoming. Population 15. Yep, 15. My daughter, myself, and two fellow authors bumped the population up when we arrived last Wednesday. So far, we’ve met over half the town! There’s a hundred year old general store and a little cafe where we had breakfast, visited with the locals, and got some good inspiration for future stories. We’re in this neck of the woods for the fourth annual Wild Deadwood Reads in Deadwood, South Dakota. It’s a fun-filled book event held at the same time as Wild Bill Days in the famous town. It also fills up the local hotels which is why we’re staying 45 minutes away in Aladdin.

But I know what you’re thinking. “What about the fork?” Well, as some of you know, I spent the month of May and part of June taking care of my little sister who had a hip replacement. The poor thing had a tussle of a time for a while but is now pleasantly on the mend.

I have two sisters, one older, one younger. My younger sis, Marijo, and I share a house and so, as sisters do, we tend to play jokes on one another. One on-going joke involves one of her son’s old plastic cowboys. Black Bart. I think he once had a parachute judging from some funny little plastic do-dads attached to his sides. Who knows? All I know is he shows up in the darnedest places! My shoes are a popular hiding place for Bart, and he likes to find himself in my sister’s pillow case. Sometimes he’s in the medicine cabinet or hiding behind Marijo’s shampoo in the shower. But lately, Bart has ventured further.

He was seen studying a bank in Spokane! Oh no! And then he found his way to Mount Rushmore with a few Western Romance authors! He had coffee here in Aladdin with some real cowboys and even showed up at the book signing in Deadwood! My how the little fellow gets around. I wonder if my sister has noticed that he’s missing? She will once a few pictures start getting posted!

But what does this all have to do with a silly fork? Well, my sister has a favorite. It’s one of the few pieces left from our mother’s original sterling sliver flatware set she got shortly after she and our father were married. Marijo’s been looking for that fork and can’t figure out how it could be missing. Little does she know Frankie the Fork (my daughter and I named him) has been traveling with Bart and being led into a life of crime! Oh no!

When your daughter is in film, you can do things like this. We’ve been taking shots of Bart for days and are just now filming Frankie the Fork’s scenes. It’s silly, I know, but this is something that will be laughed about for years. By the time Frankie and Bart make it home to Oregon, who knows what adventures they will have shared?

These bits of silliness were all some folks had back in the day. Some jokes were elaborate, some simple and cute, but cowboys, businessmen, ranchers, lawmen, you name it, all loved a good joke when they heard one. And some loved pulling them on others. Makes you wonder what a good prank consisted of between cowboys, doesn’t it? Here are just a few jokes from back in the day:

1870: While passing a house on the road, two Virginia salesmen spotted a “very peculiar chimney, unfinished, and it attracting their attention, they asked a flaxen-haired urchin standing near the house if it ‘drawed well’ whereupon the aforementioned urchin gave them the stinging retort: ‘Yes, it draws all the attention of all the d***** fools that pass this road.’ ” Daily Milwaukee News, May 21, 1870

1872: A man said to a preacher, “That was an excellent sermon, but it was not original.” The preacher was taken aback. The man said he had a book at home containing every word the preacher used. The next day the man brought the preacher a dictionary. Daily Phoenix, April 4, 1872


1888: There was a man whose last name was Rose. As a lark, he named his daughter Wild, “with the happy conceit of having her called Wild Rose.” But that sentiment was “knocked out” when the woman grew up to marry a man whose last name was Bull. Weekly Journal-Miner in Prescott, Ariz., May 23, 1888

1899: A man got up one morning and couldn’t find his alarm clock, so he asked his wife what had become of it. She said, “It went off at 6 o’clock.” Salt Lake Herald, April 27, 1899

Have you played jokes on a sibling or friend? Have you a favorite joke? We’ve been having a great time with Bart and when he and Frankie have their film debut I’ll try to post it on my Facebook for all to see. I’ll also give a free e-book of mine of choice to one of the commenters below! I’ll be on the road when this posts but will drop in and comment when I can!

PATRIOTIC C&W SONGS–LEARNING HISTORY THROUGH SONGS #3 by Cheryl Pierson

 

Summer seems like the most patriotic time of the year in general, doesn’t it? We kick off the summer months with Memorial Day in May. Poppies are worn in remembrance of veterans on Memorial Day and on Veterans Day in November.

On June 6, we are reminded of the sacrifices made on a faraway beach in Normandy that resulted in many deaths in WWII, but turned the tide for the Allies and helped us gain victory. June 14th is Flag Day, a fine “tune up” for our huge 4th of July celebration that’s right around the corner.

Is anyone more patriotic than a cowboy? I don’t think so!  So many country and western songs have been written through the years that are a tribute to not only our troops, but to first responders, and to all the “regular” American people who love our country.

Here is my list of top country and western patriotic songs, compiled from several on the internet—all different, but all wonderful—and all with one thing in common: our love for our country. These are in no particular order. I don’t know how anyone could choose one over the other since they all are products of excellent songwriting and musicianship—and heartfelt sentiments about America! And goodness knows, I didn’t list them all here—no room! Like I said, there are a lot of patriots in the country music field, and a huge number of songs to listen to in order to get in the patriotic spirit of things! I’ve included the youtube links in case you want to pop over and give these a listen!

This first one is an odd one, but I just love it. It was recorded by David Ball, who didn’t have that many hits, but this one will stay in your memory when you hear it for the very first time. I get chills every single time I hear it.  A young man buys a ’66 Corvette and discovers a letter in the glove box “My name is Private Andrew Malone, and if you’re reading this I didn’t make it home…” Which always makes me think about so many young men who could have written this following line…“For every dream that’s shattered, another one comes true…”  It’s called RIDING WITH PRIVATE MALONE and it has a very twisty ending you’re sure to love!

 

https://youtu.be/v5dyHPX8Cos

 

Probably the most recognized country song that many call our “unofficial” American anthem was written and performed by Lee GreenwoodGOD BLESS THE U.S.A. Written in 1983, it’s become synonymous with patriotism, and is loved by countless Americans, whether they are typical country and western fans or not. Its simple message is one that grabs you and holds on, and I have to admit, that even after nearly 40 years of hearing it, I still get teary! “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free, and I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me—so I’ll gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, for there ain’t no doubt I love this land—God Bless the U.S.A.!”

 

https://youtu.be/yH61hFsma24

 

Another “oldie but goodie” is Merle Haggard’s THE FIGHTIN’ SIDE OF ME, written in 1970. Oh, goodness. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard my husband play and sing that back when we used to have our band…fond memories, and it was a song that was a frequent request, whether we lived in West Virginia or here in Oklahoma. “If you don’t love it, leave it, let this song that I’m singin’ be a warnin’—when you’re runnin’ down my country, hoss, you’re walkin’ on the fightin’ side of me…” I love the sentiment of this song. In true “Merle” fashion, he’s saying that we can disagree on things without trashing our country. I think everyone in the audiences we played to knew the words to this song!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uIxBmyRQlwQ

 

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE WORLD STOPPED TURNING? is not a “patriotic” song in the way we’d normally think of one, but it was not written during normal times. Penned by Alan Jackson in 2002 after the horrific events of  9/11/01, this song is packed with emotion and validates the many thoughts and feelings that Americans went through during the aftermath of that day. Each chorus of this song ends with the reminder that God’s greatest gift to us is love—even though we were going through some horrendous times. This song was nothing short of a masterpiece that drew Americans together, gave us hope, and let us know we were not alone in our feelings.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNsfx_4k-JA

 

In 1974, Johnny Cash wrote RAGGED OLD FLAG, a recitation about all the incidents that happened to “the ragged old flag” that hangs in a little town’s courthouse square as told to a town newcomer by one of the old men who lives there. “She’s been through the fire before, and she can take a whole lot more…on second thought, I guess I do like to brag, cause I’m mighty proud of that ragged old flag!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KqrjeScLSI

8TH OF NOVEMBER, another patriotic song written about the Vietnam war, is performed by Big and Rich. It is the true story of a terrible battle in which the 173rd Airborne was engaged. That day, 48 Americans died with very few survivors when they were ambushed by 1200 Viet Cong. “With the fire rainin’ down and the hell all around there were few men left standin’ that day…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozpdBvB0hek

 

 

 

There are countless others, in case you want to put together a country and western playlist for your big Independence Day shindig! Take a look!

SOME GAVE ALL by Billy Ray Cyrus

LETTERS FROM HOME by John Michael Montgomery

HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN? by Darryl Worley

IF YOU’RE READING THIS by Tim McGraw

HOME by Dierks Bentley

I DRIVE YOUR TRUCK by Lee Brice

FOR YOU by Keith Urban

IT’S AMERICA by Rodney Atkins

FLYOVER STATES by Jason Aldean

COURTESY OF THE RED, WHITE, AND BLUE (THE ANGRY AMERICAN) by Toby Keith

WHERE THE STARS AND STRIPES AND THE EAGLE FLY by Aaron Tippin

AMERICAN SOLDIER by Toby Keith

THE BALLAD OF IRA HAYES by Johnny Cash

This isn’t all of them, either! Hope you all have a very happy upcoming 4th of July with family, friends, and loved ones. What’s your favorite country and western patriotic song, and why? It’s hard to pick just one!

A Man with a Past

My next release is July 6. 

A Man with a Past

Book #2 of the Brothers in Arms series.

I thought, today I’d share an excerpt.

A bit of set-up. Falcon is the hero of A Man with a Past.

He and another brother, Kevin, showed up to claim their inheritance left them by a father they’d believed died twenty years ago.

Naturally they’re confused and angry.

They arrive to find a third brother who was supposed to inherit half his mother’s ranch–but his no account father inherits it when their ma dies, but never makes any use of it. Let’s Wyatt and sister Cheyenne do all the work while he lazes away and wanders near and far.

Wyatt was supposed to split the ranch with Cheyenne. Instead his older half-sister is cut out completely and this two ‘surprise’ brothers get a third along with Wyatt.

Cheyenne is so mad she’s dangerous to be around.

And even so, she’s drawn to Falcon and he to her.

But Falcon has amnesia. Every time he tries to remember his head hurts until it almost knocks him down. But he’d fighting to remember and flashes of memory make him worried he’s abandoned a wife just like his father. Too bad he got that flash of a wife while he held Cheyenne in his arms…and called her Patsy.

A Man with a Past

He wasn’t sure how long he’d been hunkered down there when a movement to his right brought his head up, his eyes were almost blurred through the pain.

“Are you bad off?” Kevin rushed to his side and dropped to one knee.

Falcon’s wavering memories slammed shut. Falcon wanted to swing a fist into Kevin’s face and tell him to go away.

Then he thought of what Kevin had just said, and the voice he’d said it in.

“Did you say, uh, once-once s-say,” his memory waivered, “Did you ever say ‘Pa is that you?’ I mean say it to me…ever?”

Kevin’s cheeks turned a ruddy color. One corner of his mouth turned up in an embarrassed smile. For some reason the expression helped Falcon push aside the pain in his head.

“Yep, when you stepped off the train.” Kevin gave Falcon a sharp look, worried, checking him over. Then he rose to his feet. “For just that one second, with you turned mostly away from me, you looked so much like my pa. Uh, our pa, a man I hadn’t seen for twenty years, that I let those words loose. I knew even as they left my mouth you were too young.”

“And you knew Pa was dead, the will and such.”

Kevin gave a little one-shouldered shrug. “Considering I’d known pa was dead for most of those twenty years, and I’d just found out he was dead again. Seeing you and not being all that sure he was dead was easy to flicker though my mind.”

“Makes sense.”

“Is your head still sore? Is it worse? You’ve been moving and acting like you’re feeling fine—except for losing your memory—”

“Yeah,” Falcon interrupted, “Except for that.”

Kevin smirked. “Anyhow, except for that, I thought you were pretty well off. But now you look like you’re hurting bad.”

Falcon didn’t like talking about how weak he felt when he was hunting inside his head. A man needed to hide if he was weak. The weak were prey. Supper. Animals and people were both dangerous. “Aren’t you supposed to be in the kitchen arguing?”

“I reckon. But I can’t add much to it, and they’re yelling just fine without my help.” Kevin reached a hand down to Falcon, who, after thinkin’ it over a bit, took the hand and let Kevin haul him to his feet.

It was a good strong yank. Falcon was eye-to-eye with his brother. Their eyes matched. They both had a little dip in the center of their chin. Beyond that, they didn’t look much alike. Falcon was an inch or so taller than Kevin. Probably broader. They both had brown hair but Falcon’s was darker, straighter.

“When you went missing,” Kevin swallowed hard, “when we thought you were dead, it made me sad to think a brother I never knew, was now a brother I never would know.”

Kevin clapped him on the shoulder and it was a gentle slap. Kevin was acting like Falcon was fragile. Prey. Though Kevin didn’t seem to be hunting.

Falcon met his gaze. “A brother. And you had a little sister and brother. I-I don’t think I had anyone else. Except, I think…a wife.”

“A wife?” Kevin’s brows arched.

“I had a flash of memory. Patsy. I can see her face and a cabin. We were married I think. Were or are married.”

“You don’t remember anything else?”

“I remember I had a mule named Harvey, and I remembered a man’s voice, you I guess, sayin’, ‘Pa, is that you?’”

“That was when you stepped off the train in Bear Claw Pass. You came out here on the train, and arrived the same morning I came riding in with my family. And you heard what Tuttle said about Independence. So you had a run-in with him back there.”

“And then I went missing later that day I got off the train?”

“Yep.”

“Did I say anything else?”

Kevin stood quiet, thinking. “When I said, Pa, is that you. You said, “Ain’t no one’s pa, Mister.”

Falcon straightened. “I said that?”

“Yep.”

“So, I didn’t abandon my children?”

That struck Kevin into a dead quiet. All there in his eyes. That their pa had abandoned them. That Falcon didn’t want to be that kind of man. “Have you been worrying that you might’ve done that?”

Falcon shrugged, but he was feeling better. The pain lessening in his head and his heart. “I thought of Patsy’s name when I was—was—” He snapped his mouth shut. He must’ve taken a beaten on his head to’ve almost blurted that out.

“What happened?”

Mary Connealy

Falcon didn’t know what he must look like but it had to be tellin’ Kevin something. And suddenly Falcon was glad he had a brother, because maybe talking to a brother would help him a little.

He looked at the door to the hallway which led to the kitchen. Plenty of squabbling in there still. Dropping his voice, looking between the door and Kevin, he said, “I thought of Patsy’s name, said it out loud, when I-I,” he cleared his throat ’cuz it was clogging shut. “When I had my arms around…Cheyenne.”

Kevin staggered back, caught himself, his eyes round as twenty-dollar gold pieces. Whispering didn’t hide the shock. “You and Cheyenne?”

Falcon nodded. Afraid now she’d somehow heard and would come charging into this room looking to pound on him worse than the rocks in that stream had. He’d already lost his whole past. What else did he have to lose?

His life.

“And called out another woman’s name after?”

Honest, it was more during, but Falcon didn’t see any reason to mention that. Bad enough he’d thought of another woman, but to have said her name out loud—and now Kevin saying it out loud, it all helped him feel even worse. Which surprised him because he wouldn’t’ve believed he could feel much worse.

“And you’re still alive?”

Falcon was alive. He was standing right there. And still… “I’m a little surprised myself.”

<<<<<<<<<<<<

Leave a comment to get your name in a drawing for a signed copy of A Man with a Past

Falcon Hunt awakens without a past, or at least not one he can recall. He’s got brothers he can’t remember, and he’s interested in the prettiest woman in the area, Cheyenne. Only trouble is, a few flashes of memory make Falcon wonder if he’s already married. He can’t imagine abandoning a wife. But his pa did just that–twice. When Falcon claims his inheritance in the West, Cheyenne is cut out of the ranch she was raised on, leaving her bitter and angry. And then Falcon kisses her, adding confusion and attraction to the mix.

Soon it’s clear someone is gunning for the Hunt brothers. When one of his brothers is shot, Falcon and Cheyenne set out to find who attacked him. They encounter rustled cattle, traitorous cowhands, a missing woman, and outlaws that take all their savvy to overcome. As love grows between these two independent people, Falcon must piece together his past if they’re to have any chance at a future. 

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Winners! Winners!

Good Evening!

What a wonderful day it was yesterday.  I enjoyed all of your comments very much and I’d like to thank you all for your kindhearted comments.

For any of you who would like to read the book, GRAY HAWK’S LADY, I’m leaving y’all a link to Bookfunnel, so you can all download the book.  It’s the start of the summer and we all love beach reads.  Hope you will enjoy the book.

https://dl.bookfunnel.com/1lp8khhdbk

 

GRAY HAWK’S LADY, 25th Anniversary Edition Excerpt & Give-Away

Howdy!

Welcome to another terrific Tuesday.  Well, GRAY HAWK’S LADY has just been re-released for its 25th Year Anniversary Edition.  Although it is not yet in paperback, we hope to have it up and ready for sale soon.  Once it’s published again in paperback, it will be about 25 years since it was in print.

Meanwhile, the e-book is on sale right now for $4.99 at Amazon.  It’s also on Kindle Unlimited, so you can read it for free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.

Isn’t this a beautiful cover?  It’s quickly becoming one of my favorites.

When a 25th Year Anniversary Book is released, it’s gone through another series of editing.  When the original mass market paperback books were put into e-book format, I didn’t realize how many errors can be made on the conversion.  And so slowly, one by one, we’re re-editing them and getting them released again.  One of the wonderful things we’re doing is putting back in the original maps.  These are special because they were drawn by my then teen-aged daughter, Trina.  And so getting the maps put back in them is exciting for me.

This book is also special for me because I met and married my husband while I was writing this book, which makes this a very, very special book for me.

I’ll be giving away an e-book of this today for a lucky blogger, so do please leave a comment.

I’ll leave this here with the synopsis for the book and an excerpt.

Hope you’ll enjoy!

GRAY HAWK’S LADY

BY

KAREN KAY

Different worlds, one heart.

Blackfoot Warriors, Book 1

 

When Lady Genevieve Rohan joins her father in the farthest reaches of the American West, she expects to bring a bit of genteel English charm to his dry, academic existence. Instead, she finds her father desperately ill, and it’s up to her to finish his study of the Indian and publish his work—or face the wrath of his creditors.

Her troubles mount when the men hired to capture a member of the Blackfoot tribe don’t bring her a docile maid to study. They present her with a magnificent warrior—proud, outrageously handsome and simmering with fury at the loss of his freedom.

The white woman is beautiful beyond compare, but Gray Hawk can’t think past his plan to exact revenge against this meddling foreigner. It’s ridiculously easy to escape, then turn the tables and take her captive. When anger turns to passion, then to love, he embarks on a new quest. To claim the stubborn, red-headed vixen as his own.

Yet as their hearts strain toward each other, pride conspires to pull them apart…unless they can each find a way for their hearts to become one.  

 

 

Why didn’t the savage look away? And why didn’t he join in the laughter? Laughter the others in his tribe were enjoying…at her expense.

Genevieve shuddered and glanced away from the window, her gaze catching on to and lingering over the simple, hand-carved furniture that had been given to her for her “use.”

The room was clean, but that was all it was.

There was nothing in the room to recommend it—no feminine touches here and there, no lacy curtains to cushion the windows, no crystal or china to brighten each nook and cranny, no tablecloths, no rugs…no white women, period. Except for her.

She groaned.

She had thought, when she and her father had reached St. Louis, that she had come to the very edge of civilization, but she had been wrong. At least there, she and her father had been able to rent a house where they had enjoyed all the comforts to which they were both accustomed.

But here, away from any sort of civilization, she felt destitute.

Genevieve sighed, her white-gloved hand coming up to bat at a fly hovering around her face.

“Robert,” she spoke out. He bent toward her where she sat at the crude wooden table at one side of the room, and said, “Go ask Mr. McKenzie if there is any truth to the rumor that these Blackfoot Indians are leaving today. Oh, and Robert,” she added as her manservant rose to do her bidding, “please ask Mr. McKenzie if those two half-breed trappers I met yesterday are still in residence at the fort, and if they are, please tell him that I wish to see those men at once.”

Robert nodded, and, as he set off to carry out her wishes, Lady Genevieve turned back toward the window and looked out at the Indians, her gaze riveted by the dark, ominous regard of that one mysterious Indian man, but only for a moment.

She averted her glance, a certain amount of healthy fear coursing through her.

And why not? These Indians, though dignified enough in their savage appearance and dress, wielded enough untamed presence to instill terror into the hearts of even the most stouthearted of trappers and traders.

A shiver raced over her skin, the sensation bringing with it…what? Fear? Assuredly so. She had been gently raised. And yet…

She lowered her lashes, again studying the Indian in question, her head turned away and her hat, she hoped, hiding her expression. The man stood there among his peers, all ten or eleven of them. All were here at the fort to trade; all had come to this room to see—what the interpreter had said they called her—the mad white woman.

But none of the other Indians affected her like this one Indian man. He, alone, stood out; he, alone, captured her attention. Why?

Perhaps it was because he was too handsome by far, primitive and savage though he might be.

Was that it? She concentrated on him again. Perhaps it was the energy that radiated from him…maybe….

She tried to look away, to fix her gaze on something else, someone else, but she found she couldn’t. No, she examined him more fully.

He wore a long skin tunic or shirt, generously adorned with blue and white geometric designs. His leggings fell to his moccasins, and everywhere, at every seam and extending down each arm and the length of his tunic and the leggings themselves, hung scalp locks, hair taken from the human head. Though black was the main color of those locks, now and again she saw a blond or brown swatch of hair: white man’s hair. It made her shiver just to think of it.

The Indian’s own black mane hung loose and long, the front locks of it extending well down over his chest. His eyes were dark, black, piercing, and he seemed to see past her guard and defenses, peering into her every thought. In truth, she felt as though he glimpsed into her very soul.

Genevieve tossed her head and looked up, the brim of her fashionable hat sweeping upward with the movement. She tried to pretend she hadn’t been staring, hadn’t been inspecting. It was useless, however.

Had she but known, the sunlight, pouring in from the open window right then, caught the green chiffon of her hat, accentuating the color of it. And her hair, the auburn-red locks of it, glowed with a health and vitality equally appealing, and there wasn’t a savage or civilized gaze in the place that didn’t note the lady’s every move, her every expression. She, however, tried not to notice theirs.

She forced herself to look away…from him. She didn’t want to think about him. She needed to concentrate on her own purpose for being here. She hadn’t made such a long, grueling journey to sit here and gawk at one Indian man, compelling though he might be.

She had to find some Indian child or maiden here, now, today, willing to come back with her to St. Louis. She must.

She would not accept defeat.

It should have been a simpler task than it was turning out to be. Hadn’t she made it plain that she meant no harm to these people? That she and her father would only detain the person for a few months?

Hadn’t she told these people that she would return the person who volunteered back to their tribe at the end of that time, handsomely rewarded?

She had thought, back there in St. Louis, to lure one of the Indians with a trinket or two, a gown, a necklace for the women, money—anything, but some treasure no one could ignore. It should have been simple.

She had reckoned, however, without any knowledge of the dignity of the tribe in residence here at the fort: the Piegan or Pikuni band of the Blackfeet.  It was a grave miscalculation on her part.

If only she had been more prepared to offer them something they might consider valuable. But how could she have known this?

Wasn’t this the problem? No one knew the Blackfoot Indians.  It was this fact and this fact alone that made her father’s manuscript so valuable.

Genevieve sighed. It got worse.

She had such a short time in which to work, too. Only today and perhaps tomorrow.

She had tried to convince Mr. Chouteau, the part-owner and captain of the steamship, to stay at Fort Union a little longer. She had argued with him, using every bit of feminine guile that she possessed, but to no avail. He had remained adamant about leaving on his scheduled date.

The river was falling, he’d said. He had to get his steamship, the Yellow Stone, back to St. Louis before the Missouri fell so low that the ship would run aground.

It was not what she wanted to hear.  It meant she had only a few days to accomplish her ends. It also meant that she might be facing failure.

No, she would not allow herself to fail.

“Milady.” Robert materialized at her side, his large frame blocking out the light as he bent down toward her. “Mr. Kenneth McKenzie says the Indians are preparing to leave on a buffalo hunt and will most likely be gone by tomorrow. I have taken the liberty of arranging for the two trappers that you seek to come here to see you.” Robert seemed to hesitate.  “Milady, might I offer a word of caution?” he asked, though he went on without awaiting her reply. “The two men that you seek are known to be scoundrels. It has also been said of them that they have often been dishonest in their dealings with the trading post here as well as with Indians. It is my opinion that you would do well to—”

“What else am I to do?” Lady Genevieve interrupted, though she spoke quietly. “Robert,” she said, not even looking at him, “you know the dire circumstances of this venture. How can I possibly go back to St. Louis with nothing to show for my journey? And worse, how could I ever face my father again? You know that his condition is even more delicate now. If I were to fail…”

“But, milady, surely there must be another way besides dealing with these trappers.”

Genevieve raised her chin. Focusing her gaze upon Robert, she said, “Name one.”

Robert opened his mouth, but when he didn’t speak, Genevieve once again glanced away.

“You see,” she said, “even you know it is true, though you won’t say it. There is no other way. Mr. Chouteau keeps telling me that the steamship is to leave tomorrow or the next day. I must be on it, and I must have an Indian on board, too. I wish it were different. I truly wish it were. You must know that if I could change things, if I could make them different, I would.” She paused. “I cannot.”

Robert stared at her for a moment before he finally shook his head, but he offered no other advice.

Genevieve said, “I will see the two gentlemen as soon as they arrive. Please ensure, then, that they are shown to me immediately.”

“Yes, milady,” Robert said, rising. He stood up straight, and, as Genevieve glanced toward him, she was certain that her trusted bodyguard stared over at the Indian, that one Indian man.

But the Indian’s menacing black gaze didn’t acknowledge Robert at all. Not in the least. No, the Indian stared at her. Only at her.

Genevieve rose to her feet, averting her eyes from the Indian, although in her peripheral vision she noted every detail of the man. She shook her head, intent on shifting her attention away.

And then it happened. Despite herself, she turned her head. Despite herself, she slowly, so very leisurely, lifted her gaze toward his.

Her stomach fell at once, and the two of them stared at one another through the panes of glass for innumerable seconds.

She knew she should look away, but she couldn’t. She watched the man as though she wished to memorize his every feature, as though she needed the memory for some time distant, to be brought to mind again and again. And as Genevieve kept the man’s steady gaze, she felt her breathing quicken.

Suddenly he smiled at her, a simple gesture. It should have had no effect on her whatsoever.

But it did, and Genevieve felt herself go limp.

All at once, as though caught in a storm, her senses exploded. Her heartbeat pounded furiously, making her bring her hand up to her chest.

And, even as she felt herself beginning to swoon, she wondered why she was reacting so. One would think she had never before caught a man’s smile, had never before seized the attention of one simple man.

She heard Robert calling her name, and she breathed out a silent prayer of thanks for the interruption. She shut her eyes, which proved to be her only means of defense, and, taking as many deep breaths as she could, tried to steady the beating of her heart.

“Lady Genevieve.” She heard Robert call to her again.

“Yes, Robert, I’ll be right there.” Her voice sounded steady, though she hadn’t been certain she would be able to speak at all.

She opened her eyes, but she didn’t dare glance at the Indian again. She couldn’t risk meeting his gaze even one more time. And so she turned away from him, walking as swiftly as possible from the spot where she had been so recently seated, her silky gown of lace and chiffon whispering over the crude wooden floor as though it alone protested her departure.

She would never see the man again, never think of him again; of this she was certain. But even as this thought materialized, another one struck her with an even greater force: she fooled herself.

She would think of him, perhaps too often, over and over again, and in the not-too-distant future. She wouldn’t be able to help herself.

She knew it. Truly the Indian was a magnificent specimen of man. Yes, that was the right word. Impressive, splendid.

Utterly, completely and without question magnificent.

 

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Fort Worth Stockyards

I wrote a blog here a while back about things to do around Dallas. One of those were the Fort worth Stockyards. Well, I can’t very well recommend somewhere I’ve never been, right? The grandkids were visiting from Panama (and getting vaccinated-dual citizens!), so we went on a day trip.

Wow, there’s something there for everyone!

First recommendation – go in early spring or fall – it gets hot there! Second, go early. We got there early enough to snag a shady parking spot, and started wandering.

Tons of shopping! Everything from tourist-trap stuff to really top end boots and attire. These guys were outside one shop, and I was tempted to take one home – instead, settled for the perfect coaster for my desk!

Then we sat on a bench beside the brick of Exchange Avenue, and waited for the cowboys to drive a herd of longhorns past! (happens daily at 11:30 & 4:00) I don’t know if you’ve ever been close to a longhorn, but they are HUGE!

They also had one saddled and standing in the shade that you could get on and grab a photo, but none of us were tempted.

We wandered, and every fifty feet or so there are stars in the sidewalk, like in Hollywood, but they’re for cowboys (and women) that helped settle the west, Western actors, even the cattle trails had one.

After a delicious lunch at Shake Shack (Didn’t know there was one in Texas!), we set off again.

Next stop, Cowtown Coliseum. They have rodeos there every Friday and Saturday night, and the kids would have loved to have seen one, but there just wasn’t time, this trip. But it’s open to the public every day, and there are still things to see there, including Sancho of the curly horns.

It’s also home to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame – I had a blast finding all the bullriders I’ve followed for years, including the King of the Cowboys, Ty Murray. But it wasn’t only just cowboys – rodeo stock (bucking horses and bulls) are represented too!

Next stop, The John Wayne Museum. It was closed, but we went in the gift shop, and I couldn’t believe it! There was Trigger and Bullet! For you youngsters, that was Roy Rogers’ horse and Dog, from his TV show. I’d seen them at the Roy Rogers Museum in Victorville, Ca, decades before, and it was like seeing slightly macabre old friends!

 

 

 

On the way out, I couldn’t resist – I had to get on the bucking machine. Mind you, it was NOT moving. Trust me, getting up on that thing was hard enough – a sure sign I’m too old for it, but I had to get a photo!

All in all, a great, fun day – I highly recommend it! You can learn more of the details of what to do there, here.

If you make it there, send me a photo of YOU on the bucking bull!