Lawmen and Ladies of the Old West Team Up to Track Down Outlaws Mistaken Marshal by Crystal L. Barnes Texas, 1875 First day on the job, Marshal Beau Bones accidentally interrupts a robbery and arrests an outlaw who is disguised as a man. Just as Jo Ross is hiding the God-fearing girl her parents raised, Beau is hiding that he can’t shoot and doesn’t deserve the town’s respect. Is there any way for Beau to free Jo without losing the faith the town has placed in him? On Track for Love by Vickie McDonough Missouri, 1875 A new job and a move to a new state put Railroad Agent Landry Lomax on track to meet Cara Dixon—a spirited woman holding a derringer on a train robber. This stubborn woman is not one he wants around his young sister, but then they end up in the same St. Louis boardinghouse. But could Cara’s gumption help him trap a gang of train robbers? Love Conquers Oil by Annette O’Hare Texas, 1901 When a murderous bank robber threatens Fern Fisher’s life, she accepts a mail-order bride inquiry and heads for Beaumont, Texas. Only problem is the proposed groom, Jesse Stewart didn’t send for her. His memaw did. Will drilling for oil together produce a “gusher” of love, or will their pasts trigger a “blowout” for their fledgling relationship? Rocky Mountain Regrets by Kathleen Y’Barbo Colorado, 1889 While posing as her niece’s mother, Eloise Broderick travels to Colorado to find her brother with the help of Zeke Potter, a man renowned for tracking skills. But when Zeke realizes the man Eloise seeks is the same man he blames for his family’s death, will he use Eloise to get vengeance?
|Publisher:||Barbour Publishing, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.30(d)|
Read an Excerpt
May 20, 1875
The steady, repetitive thrum of the train's wheels, combined with the large meal served at the last stopover, lulled Cara Dixon into a stupor. The trip to Chicago to attend a fashion trade show and visit her sister had ended in disaster, leaving Cara exhausted and her heart aching. She closed her eyes, giving in to the need to rest.
The train's ear-splitting whistle sounded, jerking her awake. She glanced at the terrain outside. Nothing much had changed. How long had she slept? She covered her mouth as a yawn escaped, then managed a ladylike stretch when no one was looking.
She glanced outside again, in hopes of staying awake. The scenery blurred past so quickly it made it hard to focus on anything. She shouldn't have stayed up so late last night talking with her sister. But she didn't get to see Ellen much these days, and El needed her after the sudden loss of her daughter.
Glancing down, she lifted up the sapphire necklace Ellen had given her. The beautiful blue oval surrounded by diamonds reminded her of a glistening drop of ocean water. The necklace had first been a gift from their great-grandfather to his future wife. She had worn it at her wedding, as had Cara's grandmother, mother, and Ellen. It would have gone to Allison, her niece, when she married, but sadly, that day would never happen now.
Bittersweet as it was, Cara felt grateful to be entrusted with such a beloved family heirloom. One day she would wear it at her wedding. Blowing out a loud sigh, she stared out the window again, thinking about Davis. The only man who'd ever wanted to tie himself to her had up and died a month before their wedding. After nearly three years, the stinging ache accompanied by thoughts of Davis had faded to wishful memories. He had been a kind man and would have been a faithful husband, but Cara had never been certain he was the right man for her. She had agreed to marry him at her father's insistence. Davis made her laugh quite often with his goofy antics, but he never made her heart sing.
Pa told her to quit reading silly romance stories and hunting for another man. Ellen had told her to be patient and that the right man would come along, but none had. Yes, she was only twenty-one — no, twenty-two now that another birthday had passed. Her special day had come and gone without celebration in the sad aftermath of Allison's sudden death.
Cara wasn't quite an old maid yet. Men had been attracted to her auburn hair — so they'd said — but none so far had been able to withstand her stubborn willfulness. Maybe if she had been raised in Chicago or New York instead of the wilds of Texas, she might have grown up into a more refined young woman.
So much for attending finishing school. The only good thing to come of that was meeting Dinah Stewart and her family.
At the far end of the car, the door opened and a shabbily dressed man stepped in. The hairs on her arms instantly lifted. His hat was pulled down low, and he wore a week's worth of scruffy whiskers. He slowly scanned the railcar, and as his gaze drew near, Cara ducked her head. She'd dealt with his type many times at the store. She bent down as if to pick up something off the floor, quickly unbuttoned the top of her shirtwaist, and tried to cram the necklace inside, but her top was too tight.
She sat up and patted her hair as if nothing was wrong, hoping she was mistaken. But the man yanked his gun from his holster, and his gaze turned hard. He pulled a bag from his pocket. "Listen up, folks! This is a robbery. Get your valuables out, and no one will get hurt."
Cara's gut tightened. She couldn't be the one to lose her family's precious heirloom. She had a short while before the man got to her, but she doubted she could remove it without him noticing. That left her one option, and she prayed it worked.
She reached for her reticule and pulled out her pearl-handled Remington double derringer.
* * *
Railroad Agent Landry Lomax entered the third passenger car of the train bound for St. Louis. So far things had gone smoothly, but he'd noticed a ruffian eyeing the train at the last stop. He'd been searching for the man but hadn't yet located him. Perhaps the ruffian hadn't boarded the train, but his gut said he had. Was the man merely curious, or was he looking for someone? Or did he have nefarious plans?
He passed an elderly couple that slept head to head. His gut ached at the sight. He had hoped he and Ada would live to be as old as this couple, but his plans for a long marriage had been robbed of him when his wife was shot and died shortly after.
Though that was ten months ago, his heart still ached at the thought of his lovely wife lying dead. Landry drew in a steadying breath and refocused on his job. He was responsible to see that this train arrived in St. Louis without incident, and he aimed to see that happened.
He gave a brief nod to a young woman who stared at him with obvious interest. She lifted her hand and giggled to her friend or sister sitting next to her. Landry nearly rolled his eyes but managed to stop just in time. The last thing he needed was another woman in his life. He had his job and his daughter — and that was enough.
As he approached the door at the end of the car, he noticed a man standing in the aisle in the next car. The man turned, and Landry recognized his shabby clothing. Landry's gut tightened when his eyes landed on a gun in the man's hand. He shook a bag, and a frightened woman dropped something into it. Then he waved the gun toward something, and the woman shook her head. He pointed the gun in the woman's face, her eyes widened, and after a moment, she dropped what looked like a wedding ring in the bag.
Suddenly Landry mentally calculated the cars again, and his chest tightened. His daughter was in the car with the gunman!
He counted the seats on the right to the sixth row but didn't see Lacy. Had she gone to the dining car? He hadn't noticed her there when he passed through, but he prayed that was the case.
He stepped out onto the windy platform, pulled his gun, and waited for the man to get past where his daughter should be sitting. Allowing the man to get farther down the length of the car might also enable him to slip in without being noticed. His heart pounded. He couldn't let anything happen to Lacy or the other passengers.
When the man moved past Lacy's seat, Landry reached for the door handle. A woman jumped up and said something to the bandit, and then Landry saw her lift a tiny derringer. Was she crazy? She was likely to get people shot, including herself. At least she had distracted the thief. Landry turned the knob and quickly stepped inside.
He moved to the right side of the aisle, hoping the thief wouldn't notice him since he was still arguing with the crazy woman. As he reached midway, he glanced in Lacy's seat. Asleep. His heart slowed a smidgeon. At least with her lying on the seat, she was somewhat out of the way if bullets were fired.
"I'm not giving you my great-grandmother's necklace, and that's final. So get on along before I shoot you."
The thief chuckled. "That bee stinger wouldn't take down a mosquito."
The woman lifted her chin. "Perhaps not, but it could take out an eye."
The bandit actually backed up a step. Landry hunkered down and moved forward.
The woman glanced at Landry, and her eyes widened. He shook his head, hoping she wouldn't alert the robber to his presence. At least she had the smarts to look away.
"So, we have a standoff. I suggest you go before someone catches you. And while you're going, leave that bag behind so I can return those items to their rightful owners."
This time the man laughed out loud. "Lady, I think I'll take you so we can have some fun."
Panic shot through her eyes before she steeled them. "I don't think so."
Landry took a final step, flipped his revolver around, and clobbered the man on the back of the head. The thief turned, his eyes rolled up, and he fell backward against the woman. She yelped and pushed at the thief. Then she hiked her skirts, climbed onto the seat, stepped over him, and jumped down into the aisle. Not at all the behavior he expected from such a lovely dressed lady. She shook out her forest-green skirt, still holding the peashooter in one hand, while the car erupted in cheers and applause.
Ignoring everyone, he kicked the bandit's boots then holstered his gun when the man didn't move. Landry handcuffed him and lifted the man over his shoulder. Again, cheers rang out.
The woman behind him cleared her throat. "Here's the bag of loot he collected."
Loot? The woman's speech held a twang more likely found in someone from the southern parts of the country than around here.
He took the bag from her. With the thief apprehended, he moved to Lacy's seat. She sat up and rubbed her eyes, which suddenly widened as she noticed the man slung over his shoulder. "What happened? Who is that lady with the gun? Aw, shoot. What did I miss?"
"Just a robbery. And don't say shoot." He leaned closer to her. "Are you all right?"
His nine-year-old daughter flopped back in her seat and crossed her arms, pouting. "I missed all the fun. I can't believe I slept through the only exciting thing to happen on this dumb trip."
Yeah. She was all right. Grumpy as usual. "I need to take this man to the stock car, then I'll be back. Are you hungry?"
"No, but I'm thirsty."
"I'll bring you something when I return. Stay here."
She rolled her eyes. "Where is there to go?"
"Just don't leave this car, and stay off the platforms. They're dangerous."
"I will, Papa. But stop treating me like a child."
He gave her a quick squeeze on her shoulder. "Be right back."
He hiked the man up higher. "Folks, I'm Special Agent Landry Lomax, and I work for the Missouri Pacific. Once I get this man confined, I'll return your goods."
Another round of shouts rang out.
As Landry walked to the rear of the car, his gaze landed on the feisty woman's. Her green eyes locked with his, and his gut twisted. She was quite lovely with her auburn hair and lightly tanned skin, especially dressed in that beautiful green gown.
He narrowed his eyes, shoving away the interest he felt rising within. "You and I are having a talk when I return."
* * *
Cara dropped into the seat, her whole body shaking. She didn't think it was her encounter with the robber, because she'd faced them down before, albeit usually with a shotgun instead of a derringer. It was the handsome man's promise of a talk that had rattled her. What would he need to discuss with her? Would he congratulate her for stopping the robbery?
Somehow his cold blue eyes didn't hold that promise.
A throat cleared, and Cara looked up to see a half-grown girl standing beside her seat. Her heart clenched. The girl was only a few years younger than her niece who'd died.
"Could I talk to you? Please, ma'am?"
She imagined the pretty child had gotten her way more than once with those pleading blue eyes and slight pout of her lip. Cara wasn't inclined to reward such actions, but she would like something to take her mind off of all that had happened.
"Of course." She pulled her skirts over, making room on the seat. "Sit down, if you'd like."
The girl's eyes danced. "Can I see your pistol?"
Cara had yet to return her weapon to her handbag. "I was just putting it away." She lifted it for the girl to see then reached for her bag.
"Could I hold it?"
"Oh no. It's loaded. It's not a toy to play with."
The child sat back and pouted again. Did such a thing actually work in getting her parents to do what she wanted?
"I'm Cara Dixon. What's your name?"
"Lacy Lomax. A pleasure to meet you."
"Where are your mother and father?"
Lacy ducked her head, her expression more serious. "My mama died ten months ago."
Cara reached out to comfort the girl. "I'm so sorry. I lost my mama several years back, so I know how much it hurts."
"Papa is moving us to St. Louis. I didn't want to go, but he got a new job and will be stationed there."
Cara studied the other passengers but didn't see anyone looking their direction, as if searching for Lacy. "Where is he?"
"He took the bad man away and will be back soon."
Cara's heart bucked. "The man who apprehended the robber is your father?"
Lacy nodded. "He's a railroad agent now. He used to be a Deputy U.S. Marshal, but he took the job as a railroad agent so he can be home with me more. Only now we don't have a home."
"I'm sorry, but you'll find a new one, and I'm sure in time you'll grow to like it."
"But I don't know anyone in St. Louis. And I won't have any friends."
Cara's heart went out to the child. She'd experienced a similar situation when her father bought the ranch outside of Dallas and moved the family there. "You'll know me."
"I don't really. And I probably won't see you again after we leave the train."
The passenger car shuddered as it slowed to round a curve. Cara brushed back a strand of pecan-colored hair from Lacy's face and tucked it behind her ear. Would her hair darken to the shade her father's was as she grew older? "Did I understand you correctly that you don't have a place to stay?"
"I live at a lovely boardinghouse, and I happen to know there's a top-floor suite with several rooms available for rent. My best friend's mother owns it, and the food is wonderful. The place is called Aunt Pearl's Boardinghouse. Maybe you could mention it to your father."
Lacy's eyes lit up, and Cara realized they were the same shade as Mr. Lomax's — almost identical to the color of the sapphire stone in her necklace.
The door opened, and Lacy's father stepped inside. He shut it and looked down the aisle. Cara wondered if he was checking on Lacy.
Then the man looked at her, and surprise flickered in his gaze for the briefest of seconds before he schooled his features — a thing he probably did quite often as a lawman.
"Lacy, what are you doing here?"
"You said I had to stay in the car, not in my seat."
"I suppose that is true, but I would like you to return to your seat now."
"But I'm talking with Cara."
He cleared his throat. "We do not refer to people we don't know by their Christian names."
Cara wondered if the man was always so stuffy. "We introduced ourselves and have become fast friends, so I don't mind."
He lifted one eyebrow, obviously not used to having people disagree with him. "Nevertheless, return to your seat. The lady and I need to have a chat."
"Aww ... fine."
"I mean, yes, sir." She rose and shuffled her way down the aisle, clearly unhappy.
"Would you care to join me on the platform, Mrs. —?"
"It's Miss Dixon. And I'm afraid if I were to venture out to the platform in that wind, my skirts would fill with air, and I'd sail away."
His eyebrow cocked again, but this time he had a humorous glint in his incredibly blue eyes. "I will see to it that you don't blow away."
She wondered how her hair would handle the wind and why he wanted to talk with her out there anyway. "Can't we talk here?"
He glanced at several people nearby — people who were watching them. "I don't believe you want everyone to hear what I have to say."
"Very well." She slid to the edge of the seat and accepted the hand he offered. Her fingers tingled as they touched his, making her frown. She stood, and he walked past her, opening the door. She held down her skirts as best she could and stepped out onto the breezy platform. She pressed back against the guardrail and smashed one hand against her skirts while the other clamped down on her hat. "What did you need to talk to me about?"
His eyes darkened. "Do you realize how dangerous that stunt of yours was? You could have gotten shot or caused other passengers to be harmed. You should have given that man what he wanted. Nothing is worth risking my daughter's life."
Ah ... so that was what upset him. But how could she blame him when he'd so recently lost his wife? "I'm sorry, but this necklace belonged to my great-grandmother, and I wasn't about to put it in his grubby paws."
"It's not worth risking your life."
"It is to me."
"Was it worth endangering others? Do you even know how to shoot that peashooter?"
She hiked up her chin. "Of course I do. I'm a Texan, and my pa taught me how to shoot when I was younger than Lacy."
"Well, you need to learn to let lawmen deal with thieves." His eyes turned stormy.
"It's my experience that lawmen are not usually around when a man is bent on stealing. I don't aim to let them steal from me."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Lady and the Lawman"
Copyright © 2019 Crystal L. Barnes, Vickie McDonoughm, Annettee O'Hare and Kathleen Y'Barbo.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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