Uncompahgre: where water turns rock red (Threads West, An American Saga Book 3)

Uncompahgre: where water turns rock red (Threads West, An American Saga Book 3)

by Reid Lance Rosenthal


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The Adventure and Romance of the America, her people, her spirit, and the West. We are all Americans. This is our story.

Uncompahgre-where water turns rock red is the third book of the #1 bestselling, Threads West, An American Saga epic saga, recipient of twenty-eight National/International Awards—Best Historical Fiction, Best Multi-Cultural, Best Romance and Best Western! Compared by reviewers, authors and readers alike to Lonesome Dove, Centennial, and the Sacketts of L'Amour. Called by some the ''Gone with the Wind of the West,'' and “the Sacketts on steroids.” Applauded by others as ''rings true and poignant, as authentic and moving as Dances with Wolves.''

In Uncompahgre, the time nears when the first of the next generation of Threads West characters will be born of the brave men and courageous women who have come so far and risked all. The men and women of the saga, having reached their initial destination, pre-Denver, Cherry Creek, are each faced with life-altering decisions. Some must decide to pursue or abandon torrid love affairs that have flowered on the dangerous journey from Europe and across America.

Their lives shaken by events they could not foresee and convergence with souls they could never imagine, they begin to build a nation that's essence is in transition. They have neither country nor culture in common, but their dreams and survival demand a tension filled tapestry of life threads stitched by fate and history.

The Oglala Sioux family struggles to cope with the inevitable change casting shadows upon their lands, culture and scared traditions. The elderly slave couple, and the renegade and his young, traumatized captive—the black-hearted captor unknowingly catapulted by his tortured past into possible redemption—are bound ever more tightly to the arc of the story, their tragedy and triumph-filed tales weaving into the fabric of a collective destiny. The Mormon family streams west in the Great Exodus escaping persecution and searching for Zion. Driven north by the Texas Rangers, an outlaw vaquero with royal, but bitter blood quests for a new sense of self and place.

The touchstones of the past are the guideposts to the future. Uncompahgre-where water turns rock red, is the continuation of this tale of America, her people and the West—new lineages join the many threads of uncommon cultures, differing origins and competing ambitions that entwine into the American spirit. Lives and generations are woven on the loom of history, propelled by fate and freedom to form the fabric that becomes the whole cloth of the nation. This is the tale of that uniquely American meld of the mosaic.

You will recognize the characters who live in these pages.
They are the ancestors of your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, and your family.
They are you. They are us. We are all Americans.
This is not only their story. It is our story.

In Book Four, Moccasin Tracks, just released in September of 2019, the fires of future deadly tumult between the states has begun to sweep west. The Threads West characters who have journeyed so far race against an early, foreboding winter to establish their homestead, some preoccupied with the serious complications of their pregnancies, others compelled to follow the call of a separate path, but all united to fend off ever-present danger. The ''resolution'' of the ''Indian Problem'' is evolving. It will leave families and hearts broken, forever staining the pages of American history.

The decades of the Maps of Fate era (1854-1875) novels of Threads West epic saga become the crucible of the souls of generations, the building of the heart of the nation, the destiny of a people, and the relentless energy and beauty of the western landscape. This is the ongoing story of us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780990700319
Publisher: Rockin' SR Publishing
Publication date: 11/04/2014
Series: Threads West Series , #3
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 112,027
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

About the Author

Reid is fourth generation land and cattle, a rancher, and a multiple #1 bestselling author whose works have been honored with twenty national awards.  His cowboy heart and poet's pen capture the spirit of the western landscape and its influence on generations of its settlers. His long-standing devotion to wild and remote places and to the people—both past and present—who leave their legend and footprint upon America and the American West, is the inspiration and descriptive underpinning of all of his writing.
"If your mind and spirit are seduced by images of windswept ridge tops, flutters of aspen leaves caressed by a canyon breeze and the crimson tendrils of dying sun...if your fingers feel the silken pulse of a lover and your lips taste the deep kisses of building desire...if nostrils flare with the conjured scents of gunpowder and perfume, sage brush and pine, and your ears delight in the murmur of river current...if your heart pounds at the clash of good and evil and with each twist and turn of interwoven lives you feel a primal throb, then I have accomplished my mission."~Reid Lance Rosenthal
Passion fuels each thrilling, history, action and romance-packed novel in this widely acclaimed five-generation epic series of the historical and contemporary American west. Threads West has been compared to L'Amour, and Centennial, and some call the series, the "Gone With The Wind of the West."

Read an Excerpt


May 27, 1855


* * *

"Don't like this at all. Nope, not looking forward to it. Not one bit, Buck."

The mustang's ears pricked at the sound of Zebbariah Taylor's raspy voice. The tobiano gelding snorted agreement. The mountain man, holding his reins in one hand and a lead rope in the other, twisted in the saddle and glanced behind him at Red, the wagon master's spirited sorrel mare.

The eastern front of the Rockies rose jagged in the early afternoon sun. Zeb slouched forward again and sighed, his eyes roving the horizon. Buck swiveled slightly back toward him, his sunlit head standing out in sharp contrast to the spring green of the grassy, rock-strewn slope. Patches of bitter brush and sage punctuated the soft plateaus as they descended toward the South Platte Valley. Miles out, the blemish of a small settlement was visible, flanked by clusters of distant tipis.

"What am I going to tell Mac's brother, Buck?"

Buck whinnied and shook his head slightly. Leaning forward, Zeb patted the gelding's neck. Behind him, Red answered the mustang's empathetic call.

Zeb nodded back at the mare. "Yep, I miss Mac too." He sighed again and straightened his tall, thin, buckskin-clad frame in the saddle but he couldn't quite free his shoulders of their droop. One hand absently stroked his mustache where the tip hung between his lips and the dark grey tinged stubble of his jaw.

The well-muscled horses picked their way steadily toward the Cherry Creek settlement. Lulled by the sway of the mustang, Zeb's mind drifted between scattered images of time spent with Mac over the years.

Their meetings were few, Zeb's trapping cabins being hundreds of miles southwest in the mountains, far from the tiny but growing settlement of Cherry Creek. The mercantile was the primary buyer of Zeb's furs and he and Mac soon became close friends.

Mac and his brother Randy had been fresh from Ireland in the early 1840s, searching for adventure, opportunity and a place where being Catholic didn't matter. They began as traders and teamsters. Then ten years back, they started the ramshackle Gart's Trading Company and Mercantile. Randy handled the store and local trade with Indians and whites. Mac guided wagon trains of settlers west, building a reputation as a jovial but no-nonsense, quick-tempered wagon master. On his return trips to St. Louis to organize the next band of westward pioneers, his wagons were always loaded with leather, pelts and occasionally, salted buffalo meat, all of which were in ever-increasing demand as St. Louis expanded eight-fold to one hundred thousand people in the late 1840s and 1850s.

A yellow jacket hovered around Zeb's face and he slapped at it with an absent wave of his long, callused fingers. The insect's annoying drone broke his reminiscence and dredged up the shock and anger he felt when, two weeks before, he had discovered Mac's short, extremely powerful, broad-shouldered form crumpled, one leg bent haphazardly under the other, his bloody hand still clutched around the shaft of an arrow protruding from his wool shirt. The coagulated dull red-brown of blood and death contrasted oddly with his bright red hair and long beard.

Zeb shook his head slowly. Bad enough if it would've been Pawnee ... but by the hand of that sneaky bastard, Jacob. He paused and looked up at the sky. "You didn't deserve that Mac, my friend; you surely didn't." Behind him, Red whinnied again and Buck shook his head, the leather of the hackamore squeaking slightly in the spring heat of the afternoon.

"Buck, I suppose we'll tell Randy straight out. No other way to do it."

With an effort, Zeb tried to turn his thoughts in a different direction, toward Sarah and her bright blue eyes. His mind's eye drank in the petite, shallow curves of her trembling slender figure, the freckles across the bridge of her nose and her lips — not too full — perfectly shaped. His memory drifted to the creamy smooth of her skin and her small well-formed breasts, exposed when, at her frantic, almost hysterical insistence and in spite of his embarrassment, he had cut the bloodstained chemise away from her skin. That had been just a few weeks ago, on Two Otters Creek.

Zeb felt the heat rise in his cheeks and knew it wasn't the sun. He half grinned to himself. The soft curls of her red hair had faded to burnished auburn and had grown longer over more than two months on the trail. The prairie schooners had ventured a thousand miles from St. Louis, triumphantly, yet tragically. They had arrived just hours before and the wagons were circled behind him now on the high ground, five miles northeast of Cherry Creek.

"She seemed to like them high-top moccasins I made for her, don't ya think, Buck?" The mustang rolled his eyes and Zeb laughed. "Jealous are ya?" Zeb's mind wandered back to the first time he had seen her, small, huddled and defensive, her face white and pinched, sitting as far as she could from the stocky towheaded man on the wagon seat as he drove their team onto the barge on the east side of the Mississippi. Zeb's mules had also sensed the dark energy between the two as Sarah's wagon had passed them, nervously shifting their weight from left to right.

The scene unfolded in his mind vividly: the upstream breeze rustling, the sparkles of the Mississippi current in sun-reflected bursts, the lap of the water against the thick planks of the barge's hull as it made sluggish progress toward the west bank, the murmur of current, the hollering of men, bleats of oxen and nickers of horses floating in the light wind. Then there was the altercation, shouts, the meaty hands of the towhead closing around Sarah's delicate neck, her lips parted, gasping for air as her thickset companion pinned the back of her head against the tailgate of their wagon. Zeb could almost feel the texture of the brown canvas jacket under his fingertips as he reached out with one long, lanky arm, his fingers jabbing the man's broad bulky shoulders.

"Stay out of my business, coonskin," the man had spat. Zeb remembered the feel of the handle of his fourteen-inch blade as he slid it from his back scabbard and the venomous look in the man's eyes as they faced off. Should have kilt you right then, you dirty bastard ... and Mac would likely still be alive.

Sarah had been trembling then too, as he led her back to Buck and the mules. Her eyes had traced the twin, long, purple scars that ran their way unevenly from below his ears to his chin and then his hands were on her shoulders, steadying her as she retched uncontrollably over the side of the barge.

He smiled as he recalled Buck's nuzzle to the back of his head as he watched the unintentional, provocative sway of her hips as she made her way back to the wagon and her glowering traveling companion. The mustang had cocked his head to the side, his big brown eyes staring directly into Zeb's. "What the hell you lookin' at, Buck?" he'd said. "If I want to say more than five words to a woman once every ten years, that's my business." He smiled now, thinking about his one-sided conversation with the horse.

A jackrabbit exploded from behind a sage bush causing Buck to tense up momentarily. "Think I should make my move too, eh, Buck? I'm twice her age, ya know. She can't be much more than eighteen and she's a lady — this ain't like you and me." The mustang snorted again. "All this solves nothing," he sighed. "Right now, we gotta deal with Randy. Never had to tell a white man he don't have a brother no more."

* * *

An hour later, Zeb reined the horses in front OF a partial brick, two-story building. The sign, though newly painted just the year before, had already begun to fade from the high altitude sun. Gart's Trading Company and Mercantile. The main building was attached to the original low, rambling, wooden buildings that seemed in danger of collapse. Several large, ingeniously rigged, heavy canvas tents contained piles of pelts. He swung one long leg over Buck's head and dropped to the makeshift street, dusty with the unhurried bustle of carriages, wagons, horses and people. An air of subdued excitement and energy, which Zeb had never been partial to, buzzed up and down the block-long settlement. Like too many squirrels in a tree. He carefully grasped the stock of the 10-gauge shotgun Mac had purchased in St. Louis. The 1855, state-of-the-art Colt five-shot cylinder was wrapped in leather. He withdrew it slowly, cautious not to scratch either it, or his own .52 caliber Enfield, which also rested in the lowest tier of the double-belly scabbard, below his .52 caliber Sharps rifle.

He stood for a moment, thinking and then walked reluctantly into the mercantile. A long counter stretched on one side of the store. Its display case held .36, .44 and .45 caliber Colt Navy, Dragoon, Army and London revolvers. Brand-new Sharps, Springfield and Enfield rifles and muskets were displayed on pegs in the wall. There were cases of powder, trays of cartridges for breechloaders like his, containers of muskets and bullets and rows of tools and sundries.

Two harried clerks tried their best to accommodate a queue of customers. At the opposite end of the counter, a broad-shouldered, red-haired man with a beard barked out orders in a loud, Irish brogue. It was Randy's usual position in the store. Randy and Mac weren't twins; Mac was a year older but there was no mistaking them as brothers. Built the same — short, wide and powerful — they had identical accents and startlingly similar mannerisms.

Zeb began to move toward the counter. Randy's eyes caught his above the sunbonnet of the woman he was assisting. A wide grin creased his face but faded immediately at Zeb's somber stare, replaced by a look of earnest questioning. The woman was talking animatedly to him but he ignored her and leaned backward to peer out the wavy, blown glass windowpanes into the street-side window. Zeb knew he could see Buck and Red and the two panniers behind Mac's empty saddle, bulging with Mac's belongings.

"Thomas, would you help this lady please?" The young clerk's head snapped up from the invoice he was writing, his eyebrows arched. Randy came around the counter with tentative steps absent his usual jovial bounce. He reached out his hand and shook Zeb's firmly, his eyes peering intently into the mountain man's. There was a long moment of silence.

"Dead or hurt?"


Randy's shoulders sagged and under his beard, Zeb could see his cheek muscles quiver. He held up Mac's shotgun. "He was mighty proud of this. I have his Muskatoon Smoothbore out there on Red, too."

Randy's voice was quiet. "I thought the wagon train was a little overdue. I expected you midmonth."

"The rivers back in Missouri were up from the early melt off the Ozarks. Got held up for several days crossing the Gasconade. We took that southern leg to avoid the Missouri-Kansas border towns and cut northwest across a corner of Kansas. Mac was concerned about the ruckus between the pro-slave outfits and the free-staters. Bushwhackers and red shirts, he called them. He didn't wanna have nothin' to do with them. Then we got hit with a hell of a blizzard. That slowed us up several days gettin' to the main Mormon trail and Fort Kearney. But worst was a big fracas on Two Otters Creek. Fifty or more Pawnee warriors came down on us like the wrath of hell. No time to even circle up."

Zeb realized he was talking fast, too fast and too much. It was nerves but he couldn't stop running on. Randy listened, shoulders still sagging.

"We weren't doing none too well either, 'til a small band of Sioux hit the Pawnee from the other side. Damnedest thing I ever saw. Seems they were from the Oglala tribe up on the Powder. I wintered with 'em when I was just a pup on my way west. We lost nine folks...." His mind flashed back to Johannes' shoulders hunched over the tall, slender form of Inga, her blue eyes staring skyward without sight from between Nordic blonde curls. He pushed away the memory. "Several more got hurt. Three died of cholera just north of here, a day's ride. Burned the wagons with 'em in it."

Deep pain clouded Randy's pale blue eyes. "And Mac?" he whispered.

Zeb wrestled with how much to tell him. Either just mention the arrow or the whole story?

"His arm got pretty tore up in the fight. He lost a lot of blood." Anger boiled in Zeb's chest, tinged with regret and guilt. He took a deep breath.

"That was how he got killed?" Randy's eyes narrowed.

Zeb thought for a moment. He deserves to know. "There was a rogue son of a bitch on the wagon train. A woman beater, rapist, cardsharp and, I suspect, murderer before. I had several chances to kill him and I should've. He and Mac got into it early on. First night, in fact. Mac taught him some respect with the bullwhip but he was cunning and smart. While we were preoccupied after the ambush, he must have sneaked down to Mac's wagon. With the blood loss, I 'spect Mac couldn't hold him off. He killed your brother with an arrow. Stabbed him in the chest. There was a struggle but Mac lost. The bastard tried to cover his tracks to make it look like the Indians done it."

Randy's cheeks flushed, his eyes narrowed dangerously and his jaw tightened. "Where is the son of a bitch? That judge up at Fort Laramie is too far. We can have our own trial. I'll string him up myself."

Zeb shook his head slowly. "No need, Randy." He reached out his hand and squeezed the thick upper arm of his longtime friend. "His name was Jacob O'Shanahan." Randy blinked. Zeb nodded, "Yep, Irish too. He's dead."

Randy turned to look back out onto the side street where the horses stood. His gaze landed on Mac's empty saddle; then he turned back toward Zeb. "Well, I hope he suffered. How did he get kilt?"

Zeb's mind flashed back to the small boot prints of Rebecca and moccasin prints of Sarah along Badger Creek, and the thick form of Jacob lying face down in bloody, matted grass by the creek. Each of the countless stab wounds to the Irishman's back had turned the canvas of his jacket a mottled, dark, brown-red. There was a frightened look on the two women's faces when they emerged from the woods where they had been hiding. He had kept the arrow that killed Mac as evidence, determined to bring Jacob to justice somehow. He plunged the broken half of the very same arrow into the dead man's back and then rolled the corpse over, brushing out his tracks and those of the women. He scalped the Irishman to make it look real and tossed the piece of flesh and dirty blond hair into the creek. He remembered Sarah and Rebecca's eyes as the three of them swore a pact never to tell, just before he let them loose in the woods upstream of Jacob's body, near the wagon train.

He looked back into Randy's eyes. "Pawnee — an arrow in the back, but they played with him with their knives and scalped him."

Randy nodded. "That's no pleasure to me but then again, I guess they saved me the trouble." He sat down heavily on a powder keg. The wooden slats groaned with his weight. He raised his fingers to his forehead and rubbed his hands up and down his face and then he looked back up at Zeb, his eyes misted. "I will never have another brother. Besides that, don't know how to replace him. Got to run this place, Zeb. We was partners since I was twelve. Things worked good with him handling the wagon trains from St. Louis, then the freight back east and me here at the store. What am I going to do?" Randy looked down at his feet and shook his head slowly.

Zeb stood, silent. He desperately wanted to walk out of the store, mount Buck and get right back up to the wagons and Sarah. "Don't rightly know, Randy." The mountain man reached out a tentative hand toward Randy's shoulder but then withdrew it.

Randy looked up at him again, "What about you, Zeb? You know the way. Folks listen to ya. I've seen it. You take the wagons back and forth. Way better money than hauling pelts in those damn mountains and worrying about whether you will keep your hair or get mauled by some riled up bear. You keep goin' and you'll have claw marks down your other cheek, too."

Absently, Zeb ran his fingers down the two purple scars that stretched from just under his right ear almost to his chin. He shook his head. "Grateful for the offer Randy, but my heart's up there in them mountains and I made a commitment to some folks way back in St. Louis to help them get across. And ..." he fell silent, "... I may have met someone."

Randy's head jerked up, a smile momentarily cutting through his grief. "Met someone? You? I'll be damned." He chuckled humorlessly. "What's Buck say to this?" Zeb smiled, held out his hand and Randy rose and shook it. "I know bringing me the news and Mac's stuff didn't bring you no pleasure. Thanks."

Zeb nodded his head once, turned to go and then turned back. "Your supply wagons are up with the train. John got his leg shot up in another little run-in we had with some renegades. We left him in Fort Kearney to mend. I 'spect he will be along later this summer."


"Dead. The Pawnee."

Randy shook his head.


Excerpted from "Uncompahgre: Where Water Turns Rock Red"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Writing Dream LLC.
Excerpted by permission of Rockin' SR Publishing.
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.

Table of Contents

Some Thoughts from the Author,
Major Characters,
CHAPTER ONE Loss of a Brother,
CHAPTER THREE Gentle Surprise,
CHAPTER FIVE A Word to the Wise,
CHAPTER SIX Torrid Confusion,
CHAPTER SIXTEEN Renaissance of the Soul,
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE Jockeying for Position,
CHAPTER THIRTY Storms on the Pass,
CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE Under a High Country Sun,
CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX Stitches of Rawhide,

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