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The Man From Boot Hill: No Angels for Outlaws [NOOK Book]


An undertaker with a past he'd rather forget, Nick Graves has finally found some measure of peace and happiness in the small town of Ocean on the edge of the desert. Others, however, are nowhere near as lucky—particularly rancher Joseph Van Meter, a good man whose whole family is mercilessly slaughtered by marauding outlaws. Now, more than anything, Van Meter wants blood vengeance . . . and he wants Nick Graves to be his killer angel.

Nick's seen a lot of death—and has dispensed...

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The Man From Boot Hill: No Angels for Outlaws

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An undertaker with a past he'd rather forget, Nick Graves has finally found some measure of peace and happiness in the small town of Ocean on the edge of the desert. Others, however, are nowhere near as lucky—particularly rancher Joseph Van Meter, a good man whose whole family is mercilessly slaughtered by marauding outlaws. Now, more than anything, Van Meter wants blood vengeance . . . and he wants Nick Graves to be his killer angel.

Nick's seen a lot of death—and has dispensed a fair share himself—and he recognizes the pain that's eating Joseph alive. But just as important as seeing justice done, Nick wants to save the broken soul who rides beside him. Because when a man's got nothing to lose, he tends to get crazy—and the innocent as well as the deserving often wind up dead.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061747236
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/17/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 120,414
  • File size: 816 KB

Meet the Author

Marcus Galloway makes his home in Nebraska, where he is hard at work on his next novel.

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First Chapter

The Man From Boot Hill: No Angels for Outlaws

Chapter One

Ocean, California

Nobody thought too much about the undertaker until it was too late.

It was a quiet yet important job that didn't draw attention—and that suited Nick Graves just fine.

The sun beat down upon Nick's shoulders as he stripped layer after layer from the side of a freshly cut plank of cedar. As slivers of wood curled up over the top of the plane, they were caught by the wind and blown back against his rough, callused knuckles. Like any other carpenter's hands, they showed the wear that accompanied his trade. The missing fingers and gnarled scars, however, weren't so typical.

It had taken a bit of effort and plenty of practice on Nick's part, but he was able to guide the plane along the wood's surface with perfect accuracy, despite his wounded hands. He moved with slow, easy motions, as if he was rocking a baby to sleep. All the while, a satisfied grin took hold of his face.

It had been some time since he had relaxed and enjoyed his chosen profession. Nick had learned his trade when he was a boy and had been practicing it for several years, but only recently had been able to give himself over to simple physical labor while letting his mind wander among the smaller things. A man couldn't fully enjoy something like that until his face had collected a few lines around the edges.

Every now and then he let his eyes roam along the rolling hills of a field outside of town where folks were planted after serving their time on this earth. Those hills were as familiar to him as a field of corn was to a farmer. While mostpeople felt nervous walking among the carved headstones and freshly turned piles of soil, Nick sat out there to savor the quiet or admire his handiwork.

The sounds of wood being carved, nails being driven and planks coming together were music to his ears. It had been a while since he was able to chisel designs into stone, but that was mainly because the folks in Ocean leaned more toward wooden crosses or markers with a few engraved sentiments.

That, too, suited Nick just fine.

It had been almost a year since he'd arrived in Ocean, and the locals had taken to him quicker than most. Plenty of other stragglers had found their way there after touring the California coast. Some had stopped before ever reaching the Pacific. Very few of them offered any skills to benefit the town, and the services of a gravedigger were always needed. It also didn't hurt that Nick was accompanied by a pretty face that was anxious to smile at everyone in Ocean. Catherine did have a way of softening even the coldest of hearts. Nick was most definitely an expert on that subject.

Just thinking about her made the sun feel a bit warmer on Nick's face. The prospect of paying her a visit sooner than usual made his hands move faster while planing the edges of the planks that would soon fit together to form Eliot Pickler's casket. Eliot was the first to be brought into Nick's parlor for some time. The longevity of the Ocean locals was good for the town but bad for Nick's business. Even so, Nick knew Eliot's parents were short on funds, so he cut as many corners as he could when arranging the boy's services. Good thing Catherine's restaurant was pulling in more of a profit.

Nick sat on a small stool looking out on the wide field where Ocean's past was buried. His lean frame sat hunched over a stack of boards as his muscular arms kept peeling slivers of timber until each plank was just right. The smell of the freshly cut wood mingled with the scents of grass and dirt, making it easy for Nick to forget there was a proper town less than a mile behind him.

When he closed his eyes, the only things he saw were the backs of his eyelids. When he let out his breath, the only thing he heard was the calm rustle of the wind. The ghosts that had screamed at him for so many years were quiet for now, but he wasn't foolish enough to think they would ever truly leave him. In fact, he didn't even think he deserved that kind of peace.

As he continued to work, Nick felt the summer breeze become cooler as the sun dipped a bit lower. The buzz of insects grew louder and a few of the braver ones jumped against Nick's leg.

Suddenly, the insects stopped.

Nick picked up on the silence and felt every one of his muscles tense. His right leg shifted to make sure his gun was still in its place at his side. It wasn't.

It had been a while since anyone had taken a shot at him, but those instincts would never fade. Ever since he'd started moving about without his gun, he felt as if he'd left the house without putting on his pants. At times like these, he felt the absence of his modified Schofield even more than he felt the absence of his fingers.

After a few seconds, Nick let out the breath he'd been holding and strained his eyes to see what the insects had sensed that he hadn't. For all he knew, it could have been a coyote walking somewhere out of his sight or a bird that decided to move at the wrong time.

When he heard the rumble of horses coming his way, Nick set down his tools and started walking toward the bundle he'd brought with him from his workshop. By the sound of those hooves, it wouldn't be long before he got a look at them. As much as Nick wanted to assume that they were just passing through, he'd seen too much hell to figure everyone he came across was going to be on their best behavior. The Man From Boot Hill: No Angels for Outlaws. Copyright © by Marcus Galloway. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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