Monday, May 10, 2021

new excerpt for The Queen of Paradise Valley

$0.99! Western Historical Romance. She’s tough, she’s determined. Love her or hate her, create a voodoo doll in her name and jab some needles! But beneath her hard exterior she's vulnerable and full of insecurities. When her life falls apart, who will pick up the pieces? https://www.amzn.com/B075X58S8R 

 


From Chapter 11


Diana lingered over a cup of coffee and planned her day. On such a glorious morning she’d ride to the high range and in a meadow aswarm with daisies eat the lunch Teresa was packing for her. On her return later this afternoon she'd tackle the books, a chore she'd been dreading.

She looked up at the sound of firm footsteps. Del stood beside her, face expressionless, eyes hard. He slapped an envelope on the table. “Read this. Explains everything.” And he was gone, moving with quick strides across the room.

The envelope bore Diana's name in Owen’s handwriting. Goosebumps rose on her arms and her hands trembled as she opened the envelope and unfolded the letter. 

My dearest daughter, I saw how alarmed you were when I insisted you marry Delaney Russell. It’s been eating at my conscience that I never explained my reasons to you.

There is a slight chance I won't have the time or place to tell you this, so let me do it now. However wrong it was, I had one of the men put the stolen items into Russell's possession. He was dangerous and needed to be sent where he could not harm us. The marriage was for your protection. I've been assured Russell won't survive in prison, thus any share of the ranch he might have claimed belongs to you. The marriage certificate will prove your rights.

Forgive me for having caused you pain. I know nothing happened that night. But the opportunity was there for us and I had to seize it.

My love always,

Owen 

Diana’s face burned. She slid the letter back into the envelope. Instead of messing things up, she had played into her father’s interests and helped condemn Del to prison. She rubbed her cheeks and tried to wipe away a torrent of guilt. How could she ever face Del?

But Owen did this for her, a rationalizing voice piped up in her mind. He was thinking of her future. And oh–

She pushed herself away from the table and snatched up the envelope. Where had he gone? Where had that sneaky bastard gone?

 

In the stable, Del, having let his anger wash through him and dissolve, brushed bits of straw off Diablo’s back prior to saddling him. He glanced up at Diana’s rapid approach and said, “If you’re here to justify Owen’s actions, save your breath.”

Stiff in posture and voice, she said, “I don’t need to justify anything he did. He was protecting me.” At his scornful laugh, she shook the envelope at him. “How dare you read something addressed to me? Where did you get this?”

What a bitch she could be. She had no right to be offended when the letter proved he was the victim.

“Are you going to answer me?”

Bright color in her cheeks, righteous fury in those killer eyes. He said, “The inkwell was dry. I searched for more. Evidently no one's looked through the desk for four years. The letter was stuck in with papers in the bottom drawer. I did what you'd have done if it was addressed to me.” He threw the brush into a bucket of tools where it landed with a rattling clang. The mustang twitched his ears and stepped forward.

Del slipped a saddle blanket onto the horse, smoothed it, and turned to Diana. “Now you know for a fact that old bastard--I'll call him what I damn well want--is the one who should've rotted in prison. Not me.”

"You threatened him--"

Stubborn woman! "I threatened his possession of this ranch. My pa's lawful share. My lawful share." The earlier anger bubbled up again. "Do you have any idea what it's like to be in prison? Locked up, chained, treated like shit, hell, living in shit." As he spoke he moved closer to her, but rather than retreat she stood rigid, hands linked behind her, mouth a flat line, eyes daring.  He put out his hand, growled, "Give me the letter."

"It's addressed to me."

"Give it to me, dammit, so I can show it to the judge as proof I was innocent."

She stared at the envelope as if she wanted to rip it to pieces, then threw it at him, swung about and departed as rapidly as she had come, without one word of apology. What a surprise.

  

 —Cat

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Fortune's Folly – excerpt

Read Free on Kindle Unlimited! Fortune’s Folly — Historical Fiction. When Eden’s father is sent to prison, she plans his escape. Needing money, she becomes the legendary Giselle, a beautiful, daring thief. Soon the hunt is on for her: Crown agents, MontrĂ©al police, an infamous smuggler she cheated, a brother-in-law she robbed. And what about the man she almost loved, the man who betrayed her?   https://www.amzn.com/dp/B07SXBZBM2





 


Fog rose from the river and drifted through the streets. The night was cool and silent but for the muffled sonority of a fog horn and the occasional distant clip-clop of horses’ hooves.

 

The courier, clutching a package to his chest, crept along the walkway. He paused every few steps and cupped his ear.

 

So close she could smell his fear, Eden kept a steady pace behind him. Another corner and they would be alongside large buildings, empty at night. A corner streetlamp provided scant illumination in the thickening fog.

 

Four quick steps and she poked the pistol barrel into his back. “M’sieur, please turn.” He swung about, his face a pale blur, his mouth quivering. “Give me your package.”

 

“N—no,” he croaked. “Not this one, Ma’mselle.

 

“Do not refuse.” Her voice was sharp. “Now, or it is the end of you.”

 

His heart thumped, fierce and loud. Or could that be footsteps?

 

“Oh, please, no, I beg you—”

 

She grasped the package and wrestled him for it. He seemed desperate; she was determined. When she struck him on the side of his head with the pistol butt, his breath came out in a rush and he dropped like a bundle of rags.

 

Oh God, what have I done? The package under her arm, she squatted beside him and felt his chest. She bit back a sob. He was unconscious, yes, but breathing well. And no blood. She straightened and whirled, only to stumble into another, taller figure.

 

He held her by the shoulders. “What is your hurry, Ma’mselle?”

She struggled against his unyielding grip. The pistol fell and vanished into the fog. Her heart drummed. She had walked into a trap!

 

“Little thief,” Laurent said. One fist clasping her upper arm, he yanked the package away and swept the hood off her head.

 

Frozen by dread, by his hard grip, she took slow, steady breaths. There had to be a way—

 

“And this.” He batted her hand away and untied her cloak, letting it slide to the ground. She flinched. “Your beauty dazzled Colchard.” A moment of silence. “Yes, you are fine to look at.” He reached for her mask, his fingertips brushing her cheek.

 

She’d throw herself into his arms. He’d have to catch her. And—

 

He lost his balance and took quick backward steps, dropping the package. Someone swung an arm around Laurent’s neck and dragged him away. They disappeared in the fog, emerging a moment later. Laurent looked in full combat with his attacker. Eden winced at each dull thud and growl.

 

She groped for the pistol, retrieved the package and wrapped it in her cloak. A jarring crack, a low groan, and all sounds of scuffle ceased.

 

If she slipped away it didn’t matter who had been victorious. She sidled toward faint light in the distance. The mists parted. A single figure emerged. It was not Laurent.

 

 

--Cat