Here’s a sneak peek into chapter 1 of my newest release, The Outlaw. Coming 1-21-19! Preorder Now on Amazon!
Straightening her shoulders, feigning confidence, she crossed the street to the boardwalk that rounded the corner and made her way to the Summer Saloon.
Sarah compressed her lips and took one more big gulp of fresh air before plunging herself into the thick miasma of cigarette smoke, whiskey, astringent perfume, and manly smells that were poorly masked by it all.
Light from the two large windows on either side of the door illuminated the inside. The modest kerosene lanterns that hung from the ceiling would replace the natural light once the sun set. Round tables covered in green felt dominated the room, with a bar counter opposite the front door that stretched from one end of the hall to the other. A mirror reflected back the afternoon sun behind the bar, its edges rimmed in a dark mahogany that matched the countertop. Liquor bottles lined the space along the back, their labels proudly displayed for customers.
Fairplay was a sizable town, but this was not the only saloon worth visiting, and therefore did not have as many occupants – which she was grateful for.
Two groups of men were deep in their card games on either side of the room, muttering the occasional comment to their neighbors that was followed a grisly laugh or grunt. No music played and the only soft, pleasing sound would have come from the smiling, painted lips of the soiled doves who whispered in the player’s ears. There were four in all, each one pretty in her own right with long hair, faces as flawless as porcelain and eyes bright with the prospect of gaining a potential client.
The cowboys, miners, and farmers with cards in their hands looked as grimy and filthy as they smelled. Her father, a man who had been unafraid of dirtying his hands, at least had the sense to bathe every so often. These men, however, looked as if they had just come out of the mines or in from the fields.
Sarah was virtually ignored when she entered and kept a steady, but casual pace as she crossed the floor to the barkeep.
The proprietor with his white, rolled-up sleeves greeted her as he might any other customer. “What’ll ya have?” he asked as he slowed in his task of cleaning the polished wooden countertop. She presumed him to be the one whose name was engraved on the plaque above the sign on the façade, Leonhard Summer.
“Beer,” Sarah replied flatly, suddenly feeling her throat choked with the fear of confronting any of these men. To ask if she could pay them to help her track down a killer might as well have made her like one of the men who petitioned to the ladies of the street. If she didn’t dislike the way whiskey scorched her mouth, she might have asked for a shot of the firewater to steady her nerves.
Leonhard poured a glass from a keg underneath the counter and presented it to her. With a few coins, she paid the man and used the convenient placement of the mirror to watch the two coinciding games. With her elbows leaning against the edge and one heel hooked over the brass foot rail, she studied each of the men with no risk of discovery. They were all so engrossed with the state of their hand in the games that they didn’t pay her, or the prostitutes, any mind. While they all gave the impression that they could fire a gun with some level of accuracy, none of them struck her as potentially dangerous or vicious. Ill-mannered, yes, but not vicious.
The bartender resumed the task of cleaning and when he came back in her direction, she decided to be brave. Continue reading