About the author:
Please welcome my guest, Paty Jager. With sixteen published books, four novellas, and two anthologies, award-winning author, Paty is never at a loss for story ideas and characters in her head. Her rural life in central and eastern Oregon, and interests in local history and the world around her, keeps the mystery and romance ideas flowing. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.
Today, Paty is sharing an excerpt from the short story she wrote for Rawhide ‘n Roses (A Western Romance Anthology) scheduled for release on March 15th.
When the subject was brought up, by the western romance authors on the Amazon forum started by an avid western reader, that we should make an anthology, I was ready to hop on board. Any time so many talented writers put together a sampling of their work it has to turn out as a win/win. Readers get great reads in one book and authors can cross promote.
The only catch—I couldn’t think of what to write. Then the very same avid reader who brought us together on the forum tossed out one of her monthly challenges to write a paragraph or more using five words. Marshal, Preacher, School Teacher, Undertaker, and Baker.
I was in the middle of two other projects but the more I thought about those words the opening for my short story in the anthology came to me:
Bluffing the Marshal
by Paty Jager
Marshal Tate Barkley had his heart stolen the day he rode into town and saw Nellie Preston walking out of the post office. Just when he was getting up the nerve to ask to court her, he has to jail her twin brother for murder.
Nellie Preston kidnaps a preacher, a school teacher, an undertaker, and a baker to get Marshal Barkley out to her family ranch. It seems drastic measures to talk with the marshal and get his cooperation in clearing her brother’s name, but she not only wants to free her brother, she wants to win the marshal’s heart.
Nellie Preston stood at the top of the family cellar gnawing her bottom lip. What would Pa do when he discovered she had the preacher, school teacher, undertaker, and baker tied up in the cellar? Even more important—she hoped kidnapping the men would not only clear her brother’s name but show the handsome marshal she had the grit to be married to a lawman.
By-the-book Marshal Barkley should be charging down the road any minute. By now word would have spread she’d taken the missing men.
Her sour stomach rivaled the guilt eating away at her good sense. This had been a brash move to get the marshal out of town, but her brother’s life and her future depended on his arrival. She’d made the four men as comfortable as possible in the cellar. She’d even explained why they were here, but they hadn’t taken kindly to being kidnapped by Marcus Preston’s sister.
Dust plumed into the air a mile down the road to town. Nellie squinted, staring at the dust, hoping the marshal came alone. He’d be harder to convince if he brought a posse and his deputy. They’d say she was just like her brother—a no-good-killer.
She picked up the rifle leaning against the cellar door and prayed her parents and the younger kids didn’t come home early from visiting their grandparents two counties over. She wanted Marcus out of jail and things back to normal by the time Pa came home. Marcus was her twin, and she loved him dearly, but he did tend to get in fixes that most young men knew better to stay away from.
Pa always said of the two; she had the brains and Marcus had the muscle.
Some of her agitation fled when she spotted one horse and rider running hell bent up their lane. Marshal Tate Barkley had come by himself.
She smiled. He probably figured he didn’t need a posse to bring in one young woman.
Nellie cocked the gun and waited.
Now here’s a look at Paty’s newest release, Laying Claim: Book One Halsey Homecoming Trilogy
Jeremy Duncan commits to haul one last load of supplies across the great interior of the Yukon before heading home. But, he has to trade his pack animals for sled dogs and leave Skagway in the middle of a blizzard due to one strong-willed, business-minded beauty.
Determined to find her older brother, Clara Bixbee doesn’t care how she gets across the pass, as long as she does, and soon. Hiring handsome pack guide Jeremy Duncan seems to be her best choice. Especially after she saves a young girl being beaten by the local gang leader and needs to escape Skagway fast.
“Who’s there?” a female voice questioned through the wood barrier.
“I have a trunk for a Clara Bixbee.”
The door swung open. A girl stood in the opening.
No. A girl didn’t fill out the front of a dress like this one did. But she was small. Tinier even than his sister, and she barely came to his shoulder.
“It’s about time you brought my trunk. I’ve been waiting hours for it to arrive.” Her green eyes snapped with anger.
“I don’t know who you asked to pick this up, but I found two thieves rummaging through it on the beach and saved it.”
She gasped, then her small pink mouth set in a grim line. “I paid the clerk downstairs to have someone bring it to me.”
No wonder the man had a startled look on his face when Jeremy hauled the trunk up the stairs. “Where would you like me to put it?”
The woman stepped back, opening the door wider. “I cleared a spot over there. I’ve yet to meet my roommate but will have a word with her about this mess when she comes back.”
Jeremy set the trunk on the floor and turned to the woman. Her blonde hair was pulled up into a working woman’s bun, but her clothes, the ones she had on and the ones he’d sifted through in the trunk, were not working-class clothes.
She stood with her hands on her hips, her head tipped back, eyeing him. “How did you know this was my trunk?”
“After I chased the men off, I took it to my livery where I had some light and looked through it until I found the Bible with your name in it. Then I left it in safekeeping and started asking for you at the hotels.”
Her smooth, creamy skin flushed a deep pink. “You went through my trunk?”
“Would you rather I left it to the thieves who wouldn’t have brought it to you even after they took all they wanted from it?” While the woman was soothing on the eyes, he wasn’t keen on her attitude.
She gasped and dropped to her knees in front of the trunk. Her tiny fingers clasped the broken latch where a key had most likely locked the box. She unclasped the other latches and dug down to the bottom of the trunk shoving the clothing, causing them to spill over the sides.
Jeremy watched in fascination as she burrowed into the contents. She pulled out an oilcloth jacket and pushed her hand into a pocket. A smile crept across her face. Her hand reappeared empty. He’d guess she had money stashed in that coat.
He cleared his throat and she jumped. In her urgency to make sure she hadn’t been robbed, she’d forgotten he was still in the room.
“Jeremy Duncan. Miss…?” He hoped she didn’t say she was married. It would be a shame to have rifled through a married woman’s unmentionables. It would make fanaticizing about her not near as much fun.
“Bixbee.” She frowned. “You know my name. Why are you asking?”
He smiled. “Just figuring out if you’re married.”
“I am not, and it isn’t proper for you to be in my room.” She pushed to her feet and stood, again, with her hands on her narrow hips.
Jeremy nodded to the open door. “The door isn’t closed so you haven’t been compromised.”
Windtree Press http://windtreepress.com/portfolio/laying-claim/