Cowboys of the Old West
The last person he wants to arrest is the woman he once loved. Then again, she did leave him stranded at the altar.
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Excerpt of The Lawman
With another sigh, Quaid picked up a second wanted poster from his desk, and studied it once again. “Ramblin’ Rose.” He shook his head, thinking it was absurd that no one could seem to catch a woman! It was said the girl could use a gun, and was armed and dangerous. Quaid couldn’t quite wrap his head around that. How could a woman manage to do all this damage? She had to have had help, he’d decided, thinking of Coralie and how he’d tried and tried to teach her to shoot, but she never could.
Quaid folded up the paper and stuck it in his vest pocket. He started wondering why this Ramblin’ Rose hadn’t robbed anyone in Silence yet. Maybe that was her next mark. Honestly, he hoped so. He was sure he could catch her and bring her to justice for the death of his uncle, and something told him he would have the chance.
The sound of scurrying feet outside on the boardwalk made Rocky’s head pop up. Quaid’s did, too. The running of a horse’s hooves over the hard, dry dirt in the street had him as well as his dog jumping to their feet. “Looks like we’ve finally got some action,” he said to the dog, scooping his revolver off the desk and shoving it into his holster as he ran for the door.
A cloud of dust greeted him outside as his eyes focused on the rider passing by. Rocky barked from the walkway. Quaid’s blood pumped furiously through his veins as he imagined an outlaw or perhaps even a gang riding through town. He’d taken down more men than he could count in his days of being a lawman and longed to do it again.
“It’s a woman!” someone shouted as the horse approached.
“She’s unconscious,” said another, as the townsfolk got out of the way. The horse passed by Quaid with a woman slumped over atop it. He pushed through the clamoring crowd, wondering what the hell was going on. He had to stop this nonsense at once. Quickly hoisting himself atop his steed, he turned with a quick yank to the reins and headed for the unconscious rider.
He could see the woman’s long, blond hair hanging over the side of the horse. In the back of his mind, he wondered if it was possibly Ramblin’ Rose. Her body was slumped over, her face hidden. She rode with her gown hiked up to her knees, straddling the saddle like a man. With the reins of the horse wrapped around her hand, she’d managed not to fall off even as the horse jolted her body over the bumpy ground.
Quaid rode up next to her and grabbed the reins from atop his steed, bringing the horse and rider to an abrupt halt. The crowd caught up and gathered around them, asking questions he couldn’t answer.
“Who is she?” asked the butcher.
“Where did she come from?” asked a woman, holding the hand of her young son. Two dogs joined Rocky, barking, as they made a circle around the horses, chasing after one another.
“Mama, what’s wrong with her?” asked a little girl.
“Get back,” Quaid ordered the curious townspeople, drawing his gun just in case. “Get back, until I know it’s safe.”
He dismounted, reaching up to untwine the woman’s fingers from the reins. Her arm was thrown over the strap of a saddlebag attached to her horse. Her body covered it as if she protected it with her life.
She moaned, lifting her head slightly. It was clear that she was wounded and barely conscious. When he was sure she wasn’t a threat, he replaced his gun and reached up and lifted her from the saddle. She was a small woman, thin-boned and light. Her hair was in a tangled mess around her, and her clothes were torn, tattered, and covered in dust. She suddenly moved, reaching up with one hand to brush the hair out of her eyes.
“Are you all right, Ma’am?” he asked, lowering her to the ground and making sure her feet were steady beneath her. That’s when he recognized the horse as that of his deputy. What would this woman be doing on Hank’s horse? And where was Hank?
She looked up at him then, her blue eyes interlocking with his, causing a catch in his throat. He couldn’t believe what he saw. This woman wasn’t Ramblin’ Rose at all. No, she was his ex-fiancée, Coralie Kirkland, who’d left him standing at the altar.