Beverly Wells

Excerpts

One Winter Knight


THE CHALICE

Her mind, again, questioned the logic of wounding the one who still held her heart. Could she really release the arrow? Cause
him pain and grief? Her conscience badgered ‘twas a terrible unforgiveable sin. Desperation to aid her mother compelled the overwhelming necessity. Her heart wept for true love denied and so painfully lost so very long ago.

As the vehicle drew nearer, she laughed at how easy it be to predict Royce. He ‘twas a hulk of a man, brave and skilled in warfare, a proud knight of honor who battled from atop his powerful destrier, but be there a wagon or cart needs be driven, Royce resembled a youthful lad in his eagerness to play at the reins instead of a
twenty-six year old warrior.

Spotting movement through the trees too far off in the distance to take aim, she inhaled slow and steady to battle back her persistent, nagging conscience. ‘Twas to her benefit the soft breeze held only a wee bit of chill and but a dusting of snow lay on the ground so she could avoid wearing heavier clothes over her woolen tunic that might encumber her. Her heart drummed in her throat in anticipation of her goal. Beads of sweat slickened her grip on her bow she held loosely at her side as she questioned the wisdom of what she was about to do.

Rich peat laced with fresh pine rose from beneath the thin white sheet to calm her nerves and help ease her tense muscles. The sun hung overhead. Her shot needed to be straight on and at approximately thirty yards give or take to fully penetrate his chain mail. Having left her water skin tied to Patience, she now wished she had it to quench her dry throat. She should be thankful no more snow had fallen. She flexed her shoulders, straightened and patiently waited to prepare at fifty. Closer, closer…now.




A Love So Strong


Damn. Trouble always erupted when women were around a camp.

It came to him in a flash. Missy remained. Yet that couldn't be. She didn't fit the description of the woman Hans had chosen on paper two months ago. Hell, he lacked too much sleep to play guessing games. “So, spit it out. What happened?”

Luke watched Missy lean against the wagon. Lean? It looked as if she wanted to burrow into the wood.

Hans pulled his hands out of his pockets, gestured with them in front of him. “I chose my bride, and Albert claimed Lila.” Lila. Ah yes, Hans had raved about her. “Tom chose Sarah instead of Roberta, and Peter wanted Roberta.”

Was anything ever simple? After an exhausting day of catastrophes, and this hopscotch of brides, a headache threatened.

“And now the last two don't match, is that it?”

Hans studied his boots, drove his hands back into his pockets then glanced at Missy. “We don't know if they'll match. They've. . . just met.”

It took a split second for Hans' words t o register, to become crystal clear. No. Hans knew why Luke had picked Rosie. He wouldn't intentionally turn the tables on him. But lust and love would, by damn. It made men commit worse crimes.

He swallowed the lump in his throat. “You chose Rosie.” His words almost gagged him. He dreaded to hear Hans' confirmation. Hans nodded.

Acid churned in his stomach, and a sour taste spiraled up to his mouth. He'd purposely picked a voluptuous dance hall woman who'd have no problem finding another man after he'd finished here. One who most likely would go along with his scheme and the proposition he offered.

Jesus! He was in a world of shit.




A Cowboy Celebration


Brighter Tomorrows

Hallings, Wyoming Wednesday June 28, 1882

She took a calming breath. “I assure you, if it’s not against the law and you said I’d be helping the law, I certainly won’t divulge your name or purpose. Please do tell, Mr. Tate.”

He scrutinized her. Was he judging her words for merit? “It’s been a long time since I’ve gone by mister. It’s US Marshal Matlock, just Marshal to most. My name’s Chase Matlock.”

She let the words, title, and enormity of it all sink in. Holy smoke and cows jumping over the moon! She had been telling herself she needed something in her humdrum life to add a bit of zing. Who would have thought something as deliriously tantalizing as a marshal on a covert mission in her town would fall in her lap? Thank you, Fairy Godmother.

She started to speak and stopped before she let go a roaring whoop-de-doo. She composed herself. “You need to stay at my home because?”

“Outlaws are goin’ to visit the bank soon. I need to scout the town several times a day to listen, see if others are join’ them, and set up plans with my team without the locals questionin’ why I’m meanderin’ around town too often. That’s what could happen if I stay at the hotel. If I stay here, no one will think twice about me comin’ and goin’.”

Her mind whirled like a cumulative cyclone, yet sounded like music to her ears. She’d have extra money, be aiding the law, and have a fine time watching this plot unfold.

He’d be underfoot—he’d be out most of the time. It’d be inconvenient to fix him three meals—she had to eat anyway. He was far too handsome to have around—she was profoundly immune to any no-good-for-nothing species of the male gender with their overly excitable libidos, a viper’s tongue, and mush for brains.

As exciting and tempting as it sounded, she curbed her adventurous side. “Marshal, I’d like to help you, but I don’t see how you can stay here at my boarding house—”

“I believe I can stay here very easily, Miss Lynch.” The slight grin before blossomed into an incredible smile. Her heart might be hardened, but she definitely appreciated the raw sensuality of this man. No man alive should have that much.

“But—”




Cowboy Kisses

Hopes and Dreams

Wyoming, 1880

When the bell over the main door jingled, Claire nonchalantly glanced to her right as she placed the refolded 
man's shirt neatly on top of the stack. Spying the tall, muscular sheriff, prickles danced up her spine and her hands shook. Crap! Ever since their first introduction after arriving in Clyde, she had purposely avoided the man. It seemed her luck had run out.


Reminding herself to remain calm, that she most likely had nothing to fear, she took a slow, even breath and an 
easy step back so the rack of ready-made dresses would hide her presence. With any good fortune, he would keep his attention focused on the front counter where Tom sat tallying the week's accounts. As he ambled straight toward her employer, she breathed a sigh of relief. But could she scurry to the back door and escape to her upstairs apartment without him noticing her? And Tori was due any minute from school. Dang it.

Had her life ever been simple? It seemed too long ago to remember. Working for Tom Opel in his general store, 
The Catch All, at least gave her some balance to her bizarre life, not to mention money to earn a living for her and Tori. Yet, they had to look over their shoulders every stinking minute of every blasted day. Their lives weren't theirs anymore. If she lived to be ninety, she most likely would still totter on edge, peering to her left and right with ingrained fright, ready to run.

And poor little Tori, she thought as she smiled just thinking about the sweet child. She was truly a joy. No, she 
was indeed a blessing. She loved her niece as much as if she were her very own. If only they could breathe easier, for a short while. They would...





All For Love

Toleman, Wyoming 1886

The well-aimed object impacted dead-center between Lorelei Webster’s shoulder blades. Knife-piercing pain 
stabbed deep as flames sizzled across her skin. Its bite didn't begin to match her humiliation, or the warning
behind the insulting attack. Braking her foot on the first step up to the walkway, she fought to catch her breath. 

And inhaled the odor of tomato.

Whoops of male laughter pierced the stifling air, triggering tears to cloud her vision. Juice oozed through her 
cotton blouse and across her tingling skin as a chunk of pulp plopped to the ground. She wished the steps would open so she could sink below. Refusing further disgrace, she sniffed back the sudden weakness, raised her chin and squared her shoulders.

Unmannered, ignorant bastards. All of them

"Take that Miss Neb-nose,” Sam Ahearns bellowed from across the street. “That's what we think of your damn 
meddlin'." Raucous mirth rose from the others gathered with him.

“Yeah, maybe now ya’ll know to keep yer unwanted snoot outta affairs that don’t involve ya,” Andy Piedmont’s 
voice thundered worse than she’d ever heard.

Oh my, I’ve riled them but good this time. One, two…She silently counted to ten, striving for any kind of dignity she could muster. Don’t let them see your distress. You’re right in doing what you believe in. You are! Would her wide-brimmed bonnet hide her anxious face?

Gathering courage, she held her back taut to brace against another assault and lifted her foot to the next step. She focused on her original destination, yet the bank seemed a mile away. If her rubbery knees did not fail her, maybe she could make it inside with a smidgeon of poise.

“Okay you men, break it up.” Michael Pearson’s voice had never sounded so good. “You’ve had your fun, done enough harm for one day. Get moving before I lock you up for roughing up the lady.”





Only When the Loon Sings

Damn.  Trouble always erupted when women were around a camp.

It came to  him in a flash.  Missy  remained. Yet  that  couldn't be. She didn't fit the description of the woman Hans  had chosen on paper  two  months  ago.  Hell,  he  lacked  too  much  sleep to  play  guessing games. “So, spit it out. What happened?”

Luke watched Missy lean against the  wagon. Lean? It looked as if she wanted to burrow into the wood.

Hans pulled his hands  out of his pockets, gestured  with them in front of him.  “I chose  my bride, and  Albert claimed Lila.” Lila. Ah  yes, Hans  had raved  about  her.  “Tom chose  Sarah instead of Roberta, and Peter wanted Roberta.”

Was  anything   ever   simple?   After  an  exhausting  day  of catastrophes, and this  hopscotch of brides, a  headache  threatened.

“And now the last two don't match, is that it?”

Hans studied his boots, drove  his hands back into his  pockets then glanced at Missy. “We don't know if they'll match.  They've. . . just met.”

It  took a  split second  for Hans' words t o register, to become crystal  clear.  No.  Hans  knew  why  Luke  had  picked  Rosie.  He wouldn't  intentionally  turn the  tables on  him.  But  lust  and  love would, by damn. It made men commit worse crimes.

He swallowed the lump in his throat. “You  chose Rosie.”  His words almost gagged him. He dreaded to hear  Hans'  confirmation. Hans nodded.

Acid  churned in his stomach, and a sour  taste  spiraled  up to his mouth. He'd  purposely picked a  voluptuous dance  hall woman who'd  have no  problem  finding  another  man  after  he'd  finished here. One who most likely would go along with  his scheme and the proposition he offered.

Jesus! He was in a world of shit.