Leather may be sexy but tanning it in 1878 – not so much. Join me in welcoming the newest residents to the Wylder West book series (by The Wild Rose Press) from my new release, Dance to a Wylder Beat.
He’s had way too much who-hit-john and is looking for more than I bargained for. Who does this reprobate think he is? He takes a step toward me, and if I were smarter I would back down. Instead, I stare him down with fire building in my belly.
“That’s more than I’m prepared to give,” I snap, “you should be ashamed of yourself. You are in mixed company on the main street of this town. Children are watching your crude behavior. I thought you were a well-mannered man, but I was mistaken. You are a scoundrel!”
“Mistaken now, but with a few coins you will be taken too,” he says with nods to his friends. They throw their heads back in laughter as he grips my arm hard enough to leave marks.
“Hey,” I yell loud enough to call the attention of the whole territory of Wyoming. “Unhand me, you swine!”
I hear my name being called, but I’m too engrossed in my battle with “Dead Eyes” to answer. One of Charlotte’s brood answers with my location as I continue to struggle. The reply behind me is muffled but sounds a lot like, “why me.” Dead Eyes starts to drag me into the loud building when I notice the sign outside…the Longhorn Saloon.
“Wait a darn minute, Buster. I ain’t no saloon girl,” I yell as I beat my fists against his arm.
“You’re bold as brass, coming over here,” Dead Eyes says with a chuckle. “You will make a fine addition to the group inside. A proper lady would have a chaperone or at least shoes. I’m sampling you for quality.”
My shouts turn to screams, and my fists turn to claws. I plan to draw blood until he lets go. Men love my curves but tend to back away when I show my crazy. We are nearly through the door when I’m grabbed by the waist and pulled outside to the edge of the porch.
My shoulder is pulled out of the socket before Dead Eyes releases it. My back slams against a wall of muscle so hard my breath comes out in a whoosh. I stop screaming to recover, and then silence rings in my ears.
“You heard the lady. If you want a good time, Miss Adelaide will set you right, but this one is spoken for.” The rumble at my back adds to the tingles on my skin as the deep voice rolls over my head. My rescuer’s voice is steady and quiet compared to my hysterics. Surrounded by the scent of tobacco, incense, and wild man, I am reminded of sacred lodges and their mystic Shaman inhabitants.
“The woman is born for whoring. Look at her hips and how she shoves her assets out. She came over here,” Dead Eyes spits. He brushes his hand against his holster to flash the butt of his gun.
“You saw her plain as day step out of the arrival coach when you helped with the luggage. She doesn’t know Longhorn from a general store. I want no trouble, but she’s my bride and not on the shoot.”
“Why don’t you let the woman speak for herself?
I’m ready to unload a tirade on the villain when cool breath caresses the shell of my ear in contrast to the afternoon heat. “You skedaddle to my travois with the black horse and let me handle this, okay?” I nod before spinning out of his embrace. So this must be Nartan, a true thoroughbred just like Sorrel Horse said. Only an Arapaho would have a travois instead of a buggy. The man must be uglier than the toothy grin of an opossum with a voice like that.
Back at the stagecoach platform stands a black stallion the size of a saloon with two long poles crossed at his neck. The travois is a leather sling at the other end of the poles which Arapaho use to migrate all over the country. The poles double as framework for their teepees, and I have set up my share of teepees in exchange for temporary lodgings or food.
I run over to the black horse, who startles at my approach. Despite traveling with the native tribes all my life, horses hate me. Not that I can blame them. Unlike people, the horses can smell the predator I hide within.
A noise has me whirling toward the station. My stagecoach is carrying on to the next stop. Blasted driver doesn’t even tip his hat in my direction as it passes…still containing my shoes. Sorrell Horse used a whole week’s rations outfitting me like a lady and paying my way. I have already let him down by starting a ruckus and losing my shoes. I need to try something extra to make Nartan happy, perhaps I’ll try keeping my trap shut.
When I turn back, the men are wrestling in a cloud of dust. Dead Eyes’ friends hoot like owls while a small crowd gathers around the scene. Being half-drunk, Dead Eyes is two steps slower than Nartan, who is landing punches on both sides. When Dead Eyes slams his gun on the ground in surrender, the dust settles, and I can study my future husband.
Nartan’s muscular body straddles the smaller man while his broad chest billows. His hat has blown off in the scuffle, revealing two thick black braids adorned with feathers. Tendrils of raven-black hair wave around his head. “Quiet wife for a quiet life” my bloomin’ butt. This man is a sweet lick of passion wrapped in a delicious exterior. I think I’m gonna like being Mrs. Sagebrush just fine. I can handle an odd stick as long as he has the countenance of Nartan because I’m not as normal as I appear myself.