A bold, sprawling epic of the American West, the Jensen family saga has captivated readers for nearly three decades. Now comes the untold story of Smoke Jensen's long-lost nephews, Ace and Chance, a pair of young-gun twins as reckless and wild as the frontier itself. . .
Luck Of The Draw
Their father is Luke Jensen, supposedly killed in the Civil War. Their uncle Smoke is one of the fiercest gunfighters the west has ever known. It's no surprise that the inseparable Ace and Chance Jensen have a knack for taking risks--even if they have to blast their way out of them. Chance is a bit of a hothead, good with his gun and his fists. Ace is more of a thinker, sharp as a snake bite and just as deadly quick. Their skills are put to the test when two young ladies ask them to protect their struggling stagecoach line from a ruthless, bloodthirsty mine owner with money, power--and enough hired killers to slaughter half the territory.
Those Jensen boys have to ask themselves: What would Smoke Jensen do?
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Being the all-around assistant, typist, researcher, and fact checker to one of the most popular western authors of all time, J.A. Johnstone learned from the master, Uncle William W. Johnstone.
He began tutoring J.A. at an early age. After-school hours were often spent retyping manuscripts or researching his massive American Western history library as well as the more modern wars and conflicts. J.A. worked hard—and learned.
"Every day with Bill was an adventure story in itself. Bill taught me all he could about the art of storytelling. ‘Keep the historical facts accurate,' he would say. ‘Remember the readers, and as your grandfather once told me, I am telling you now: be the best J.A. Johnstone you can be.'"
Read an Excerpt
Those Jensen Boys!
By William W. Johnstone, J. A. Johnstone
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2015 J. A. Johnstone
All rights reserved.
Wyoming Territory, 1885
The atmosphere in the saloon was tense with the potential for violence. All the men around the baize-covered poker table sat stiffly, waiting for the next turn of the cards—and the trouble it might bring.
Except for one young man. He sat back easily in his chair, a smile on his face as he regarded the cards in front of him. He had two jacks and a nine showing. He picked up some greenbacks from the pile next to him and tossed them into the center of the table with the rest of the pot. "I'll see that twenty and raise fifty."
Most of the other players had already dropped out as the pot grew. The bet made them look even grimmer.
The player to the young man's left muttered, "Forget it," and shoved his chair away from the table. He stood up and headed for the bar.
The game had drawn quite a bit of attention. Men who had been drinking at the bar or at other tables drifted over to see how the hand was going to play out.
The young man said, "Looks like it's down to you and me, Harrington."
"That's Mayor Harrington to you," said his sole remaining opponent.
"Sorry. Didn't mean any disrespect, Mr. Mayor." The young man's slightly mocking tone made it clear to everyone around the table and those standing and watching that disrespect was exactly what he meant.
One patron who seemed to be paying no attention at all stood at the bar with the beer he'd been nursing. He was a man of medium height, dressed in range clothes, with sandy hair under his thumbed-back Stetson. At first glance, not much was remarkable about him except the span of his broad shoulders. He took another sip of his beer and kept his back to what was going on in the rest of the room.
Harrington's pile of winnings was considerably smaller than that of the young man. He hesitated, then picked up some bills and added them to the pot. "There's your damn fifty." He was a dark-haired, well-dressed man of middle years, sporting a narrow mustache. "Deal the cards, Blake."
The nervous-looking dealer, who happened to be the owner of the saloon, swallowed, cleared his throat, and dealt a card faceup to the young man. "That's a three," he announced unnecessarily, since everybody could see what the card was. "Still a pair of jacks showing."
With expert skill, he flipped the next card in the deck to Harrington. "A seven. No help to the mayor, who still has a pair of queens."
"We can all see that, blast it," Harrington snapped.
"Who the hell bids up the pot like that on a lousy pair of jacks? It's not good enough to beat me and you know it."
"I thought we'd already been introduced," the young man said as his smile widened into a cocky grin. "The name's Chance."
He was in his mid-twenties, handsome, clean-shaven with close-cropped brown hair. The brown suit he wore had been of fine quality at one time, It was beginning to show some age and wear, but the ivory stickpin in his cravat still shone.
"I know who you are," Harrington said coldly. "A damn tinhorn gambler who should have been run out of town by now."
The grin on Chance's face didn't budge, but his eyes turned hard as flint. "I think everybody here knows this game has been dealt fair and square, Mr. Mayor.
They've seen it with their own eyes." He put his hand on the pile of bills and coins and pushed it into the middle of the table. "And I reckon I'm all in."
Before Harrington could react, another man pushed through the batwings into the saloon and started across the room toward the poker table. He was the same age as Chance but bigger and huskier, with a thatch of rumpled dark hair. He wore denim trousers and a pullover buckskin shirt. His black hat hung behind his head from its chin strap. A Colt Peacemaker rode in a holster on his right hip.
A couple hard-looking men got in the newcomer's way, but a flick of Harrington's hand made them move back.
"I need to talk to my brother for a second," the dark-haired young man said.
"Ace, you know better than that," Chance drawled.
"You don't go interrupting a fella when he's in the middle of a game."
"It's all right," Harrington said. "Those cards stay right where they are, though."
"Of course," Chance said smoothly. He stood up, and he and his brother Ace moved a few feet away from the table. Chance continued to smile and look relaxed, but his voice was tight and angry as he asked under his breath, "What the hell are you doing? I've got the mayor right where I want him!"
Ace kept his voice low enough that only his brother could hear him. "I heard over at the general store that you'd gotten into a game with him. The mayor is crooked as a dog's hind leg! Those are his hired guns around the table. You can take that pot off him, but he'll never let you leave town with it."
Chance tried not to appear as shaken as he felt.
"How'd you find that out?"
"The fella over at the general store likes to gossip.
Seems like Harrington's got everybody around here under his thumb, and some folks don't like it."
"Well, that's just too bad," Chance insisted. "I haven't done anything wrong, and I'm not gonna throw in my hand now. That's what you want, isn't it? You want me to quit? What would Doc think if I did that?"
"Doc wouldn't want you getting killed over a poker game."
"I don't know about that. Seems like he always knew what was important in life."
From the table, Harrington said, "Are you going to play or jaw with your brother all day?"
Chance was as self-confident as ever as he turned back to the table. "Why, I'm going to play, of course, Mr. Mayor. I believe the bet was to you." Chance settled back into his seat while Ace stood a few feet away, looking worried.
"And I'm going to call, you impudent young pup.
I'm not going to let you bluff me." Harrington pushed his remaining money into the pile at the center of the table. "I'll have to give you a marker for the rest."
"Well, I don't know...." As Harrington's men loomed closer to the table, Chance went on. "Of course I'll take your marker, Mr. Harrington."
The mayor turned over his hole card, which was an eight. "My queens beat your jacks."
"But they don't beat my jacks and my threes," Chance said as he flipped over his hole card, which was the second trey. "Two pairs always beat one pair."
Harrington's face was bleak as he stared at the cards on the table.
Chance said, "I believe you mentioned something about a marker...."
Harrington's breath hissed between his clenched teeth. He shoved his chair back and stood up abruptly.
"You think you're so damn smart." He looked around.
The two men who had tried to stop Ace from talking to his brother had been joined by three more big, tough-looking hombres. "Teach these two a lesson and then dump them somewhere outside of town. Make sure they understand they're never to come back here."
"Wait just a minute." Chance's right hand moved almost imperceptibly closer to the lapel of his jacket.
"Are you saying you're not gonna pay up, Harrington?"
"I don't honor debts to a cheater," Harrington snapped.
"It was a square deal," Chance insisted. "What'll your constituents think of you welshing like this?"
Everybody in the saloon had started edging away.
The feathered and spangled serving girls headed for the bar where they could duck behind cover. In a matter of moments, nobody was anywhere near Ace and Chance to offer them help.
Harrington smirked at the two young men. "Why in the hell would I care what they think? Nobody dares do anything about it. They all know I run this town." He gestured curtly, and his hired toughs started closing in around Ace and Chance.
The sandy-haired man who'd been standing at the bar, seemingly paying no attention to what was going on, turned around then. "Hold it right there, gents."
Harrington stiffened. "You don't want to get mixed up in this, stranger."
The man ambled closer, thumbs hooked in his gun belt. "You're right. I'm a stranger here. So I don't care if you're the mayor and I don't care if these hombres who think they're tough work for you. I don't like to see anybody ganging up on a couple young fellas."
One of Harrington's men said, "We don't just think we're tough, mister. We'll prove it if we have to."
The stranger stood beside Ace and Chance. "I reckon you'll have to."
"Get them!" Harrington barked.
Five men charged forward. Two headed for the stranger, two for Ace, and one lunged at Chance and threw a looping punch.
Chance ducked under the blow and stepped in to hook a left into his opponent's belly. His punch packed surprising power. As the man's breath gusted out and he bent over, Chance threw a right to his jaw that landed solidly. The man's head jerked around and his eyes rolled up. His knees unhinged and dropped him to the sawdust-littered floor.
A few feet away, Ace had his hands full with the two men who had tackled him. One of them grabbed him around the waist and drove him back into the bar. He grunted in pain. Stunned, he couldn't stop the man from grabbing his arms and pinning them. Grinning, the other man closed in with fists poised to deliver a vicious beating while his friend hung on to Ace.
As his head cleared, Ace threw his weight back against the man holding him and raised both legs, bending his knees. He straightened them in a double kick that slammed into the chest of the man coming at him.
The kick was so powerful it lifted the man off the floor and sent him flying backwards to crash down on a table that collapsed underneath him and left him sprawled in its wreckage.
The move also threw the man holding Ace off balance.
His grip slipped enough for Ace to drive an elbow back into his belly. As the man let go entirely, Ace whirled around and planted his right fist in the middle of his opponent's face. Blood spurted and the man's nose flattened as he reeled against the bar. Ace finished him with a hard left that knocked him to the floor.
While that was going on, the broad-shouldered stranger dealt with the two men attacking him. Moving almost too fast for the eye to follow, his hands shot out and grabbed each man by the throat. With the corded muscles in his shoulders and arms bunching, he smashed their heads together with comparative ease—about as much effort as a child would expend to do the same thing to a pair of rag dolls. The two toughs dropped as limply as rag dolls, too, when the stranger let go of them.
Clearly furious at seeing his men defeated, Harrington uttered a curse and clawed a short-barreled revolver from under his coat. He started to lift the gun—only to stop short as he found himself staring down the barrels of three revolvers.
Ace, Chance, and the stranger each had drawn a weapon with breathtaking speed, Chance's gun coming from a shoulder holster under his coat. All it would take to blow Harrington to hell was a slight bit of pressure on the triggers.
Harrington's hand opened, the pistol thudded to the floor, and his eyes widened in fear. "P-Please, don't shoot. Don't kill me."
"Seems pretty foolish for anybody to die over a stupid saloon brawl," the stranger said. "Why don't you kick that gun away?"
Harrington did so.
The stranger went on. "I was watching in the bar mirror, and as far as I could tell, this young fella beat you fair and square, mister. I'd like to hear you admit that."
"O-of course," Harrington stammered. "He beat me."
"Tell him, not me."
Harrington swallowed and looked at Chance. "You won fair and square."
"That means the pot's mine," Chance pointed out.
He replaced his gun in the shoulder holster, then began gathering up the bills and stuffing them in an inside pocket of his coat.
"I-I'll make out that marker," Harrington went on.
"Forget it. What's here on the table is good enough.
My brother and I are leaving, and I'd just as soon not have to come back to this burg to collect."
"That's very generous of you."
The stranger said, "I'd advise you fellas to saddle your horses and ride on out as soon as you can. I'll hang around here for a while just to make sure the mayor doesn't get any ideas about sending his men after you to recover that money."
"I wouldn't do that," Harrington insisted. His face was pale, making his mustache stand out in sharp contrast.
The stranger smiled. "Well, a fella can't be too careful, you know."
Ace and Chance looked at each other.
Ace asked, "You ready to go?"
"Yeah." Chance turned to the stranger. "We're much obliged to you for your help, Mister ... ?"
"Jensen. Smoke Jensen."
That brought surprised exclamations from several people in the room. Smoke Jensen was one of the most famous names in the West. He was a gunfighter, thought by many to be the fastest on the draw who had ever lived, but he was also a successful rancher in Colorado, having put his notorious past behind him, for the most part. His reputation was still such that nobody in his right mind wanted to cross him.
Ace and Chance exchanged a glance when they heard the name, but they didn't say anything else except for Ace expressing his gratitude, too, as they made their way around the unconscious men on the saloon floor.
When they left the place, they headed straight for the livery stable in the next block. They had already gotten their gear from their hotel room and settled the bill, since they'd planned on leaving town, anyway. Their restless nature never let them stay in one place for too long.
Quickly, they saddled their horses, a cream-colored gelding for Chance and a big chestnut for Ace.
Chance tossed a silver dollar to the hostler and smiled. "Thanks for taking care of them, friend."
The brothers swung up into their saddles and headed out of the settlement.
When they had put the town behind them, Chance said, "Smoke Jensen. How about that? We had an honest-to-goodness legend step in to give us a hand, Ace."
"He's mighty famous, all right," Ace agreed. "We've talked about him, but I never really figured we'd run into him someday."
Chance grinned. "You reckon we should've told him that our last name is Jensen, too? Shoot, we might be long-lost relatives!"
"I doubt that," Ace said dryly. "You really think a couple down-on-their-luck drifters like us could be related to the famous Smoke Jensen?"
"You never know," Chance replied with a chuckle. "Stranger things have happened, I reckon. Anyway, we're not down on our luck right now." He slapped the sheaf of money through his coat. "We're as flush as we've been for a while. Let's go see what's on the other side of the mountain, brother!"CHAPTER 2
Denver, Colorado Territory, 1861
"Jacks over tens, gents." Ennis Monday laid down his cards. "I believe that takes this hand."
"Dadgum it, Doc!" one of the other players exclaimed. "You're just too good at this game."
Monday smiled slightly. "That's how I make my living, Mr. Tucker—being good at what I do."
"Well, I don't begrudge you." Alfred Tucker slid a small leather pouch full of gold nuggets across the table to the gambler. "Everybody in Denver knows that Doc Monday is a square player."
"I appreciate that." Monday tucked the pouch inside his coat and gathered up the cards to shuffle them. "Another hand, gentlemen?"
One of the other players nodded toward a woman across the room. "Looks to me like you might have something more interesting to turn your hand to, Doc. That lady over there's been watching you mighty keenly for the past few minutes."
Monday had been concentrating on his cards or he would have noticed the woman. As he met her eyes across the room, she started toward him.
She was a little on the short side, dark-haired, and curvy. Most of the females who ventured into this establishment in Denver's red-light district were no better than they had to be, but this young brunette had a certain air of respectability to her.
Alfred Tucker chortled. "She's comin' over here, Doc. You got an admirer, all right."
"Or else she's looking for someone who loved and left her, eh, Doc?" another card player gibed.
"I believe I'll sit out the next hand." Monday gathered up his winnings. "Best of luck."
"Oh, it'll improve once you're gone," one of the men said.
Monday's eyes narrowed. "You wouldn't be implying anything by that, would you, Clete?"
Excerpted from Those Jensen Boys! by William W. Johnstone, J. A. Johnstone. Copyright © 2015 J. A. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Have liked these authors very much for excitement and intrigue in their accounts of the Wild West