Friday, May 6, 2016

Sizzling adventure in the Old West #RB4U #MFRWauthor

A lot of people know by now that I more or less stumbled into publishing via a contest win. I had decided not to enter the writing contest, the prize being a pro contract, but 48 hours before the deadline, a story starting screaming at me, wanting to be written. I relented and wrote the story in less than a day, took the following morning to edit and polish the story as best I could, and squeaked it in under deadline... A few weeks later, I won that first contract, and “A Safer Haven” was publishing in June 2004. A few years later I left the original publisher, and Samhain Publishing assigned me to a brand new editor there when the one who’d accepted my revised manuscript left the company. Jennifer Miller and I reworked this well reviewed short until she was happy with the results, and it’s been with Samhain ever since, still selling fairly well after almost eight years. So... here’s a look at my first professionally published story, it won’t surprise a lot of people that it’s Historical Western, a genre I go back to over and over.

Genre: Historical/Western (erotic)

When the stagecoach carrying Federal Marshal Chris McQuade is the target of an attempted robbery, the handsome Marshal is left alone with a woman he's been attracted to from the start of the long journey from St. Louis to Wind River, WY. It isn't until they're forced to go on alone together that he realizes he's falling in love with the wife of the man he's been sent to bring to justice. Much to McQuade's surprise, Elizabeth Davis has fallen in love, too, and her husband is out for revenge after witnessing a much-too-intimate encounter between his enemy and his wife...


Elizabeth had thought him a gunfighter when she’d first seen him. After listening to him charm the other women they’d shared the coach with, she lost all perspective about him, and now was simply consumed by her own curiosity. The men had been wary of him, watching all he did, careful in all they said in his vicinity. It took her some time to realize they were vaguely afraid of him, not just ill at ease with his arrogance.

She blamed the long journey and the lack of companionship for her present preoccupation with Chris McQuade. But part of her already knew that was a lie, designed to keep her safely apart from the deeper reasons for her interest; the more honest voice of her heart knew how deeply attracted to him she’d become.

Elizabeth had received unwanted attention from some of the men who’d traveled with them, and on one occasion that interest had coupled with too much whiskey and could have gotten nasty. McQuade had taken it upon himself to step in and discourage the advances of the young man who’d been trying to persuade her to become his companion. She’d later learned that Frank Harper was the son of a rich rancher and he was not accustomed to being rejected. When she’d seen him the next morning, he was sullen and scowling and one eye was swollen shut. She hadn’t asked, but the hatred in his eyes when he glanced at McQuade spoke eloquently of what had happened after the older man had taken him away from the campsite.

“Somethin’ I can do for you, ma’am?”

She gasped, the reaction beyond her control, as dark eyes opened and locked with hers. Elizabeth’s response to his voice was like her response to everything else about him—it bordered on hysterically intense. She shuddered, and knowing he saw the quiver that rippled her body and shook her fingers, she clasped her hands tightly together in her lap.

“I wasn’t aware you were awake, Mr. McQuade,” she replied, pretending not to notice the small tremor in her tone.

He smiled, and her heart did a pirouette inside her chest. Even, white teeth showed between sensuous lips that were neither thin nor too heavy. His face was a landscape of planes and contours, deeply tanned by the western sun, and a network of fine, intricately carved lines fanned outward from the crinkled corners of his amused eyes. Even with the shadow of a beard, she could see the faint cleft that marked his chin.

“It doesn’t pay to relax too much in these parts, ma’am,” Chris answered after too long a pause. He watched her closely, smiling when she colored deep rose and looked out the window, veiling herself with indifference that he knew was completely false. Fully aware that she’d know what he was doing, he indulged in a little appraisal of his own, cataloging her shape and form as a matter of natural routine. He’d done this many times in recent weeks, and it never ceased to fascinate him.

Elizabeth Davis was of average height, not quite five and a half feet tall. She had lush, thick hair of a chestnut hue that caught the fading rays of a sunset and turned it into glorious flaming beauty. He’d seen that on a number of evenings and it had haunted his dreams more than once. She’d abandoned the fashionable coil her hair had been twisted into at the start of their trip in favor of a simple gather tied at her nape with a leather thong. Her eyes alternated between blue and green, depending on how the light caught them. She was curvaceous and utterly female on a level purely intrinsic to who she was, a gift that made men want her in ways her ingrained sensibilities would hardly recognize. He’d seen the interest a few of their fellow passengers had developed and was surprised by the jealousy it had awakened in him. He’d come dangerously close to shooting the unfortunate Frank Harper when the boy had the bad manners to insinuate that Elizabeth was less than worthy of his respect. Chris had taken inordinate pleasure in teaching him the error in his judgment. Which had led him to a disturbing revelation of his own, when he’d been forced to admit that some part of him had already decided this woman belonged to him. He was most definitely not happy to discover the newly acquired weakness.

“Who are you, Mr. McQuade?”

He peered more intently at her, measuring the reason for the query, and deciding it was nothing more than what it appeared: polite interest in a stranger with whom she was forced to spend time.

“Just a man doin’ his job, ma’am,” he answered softly. It was more truth than most people got out of him. He laughed inwardly at how easily she inspired trust, even from someone who’d long ago stopped trusting anyone.

She twisted on the uncomfortable seat, rearranged the voluminous skirts of her dress, and looked more directly at him.

“You don’t make much effort to have people like you, do you, Mr. McQuade?”

He smiled at the challenge in her tone and was pleased to see another faint blush of color stain her cheeks.

“It’s Chris, ma’am. And no, as a rule I’d just as soon be left alone.”

She nodded and considered the words for a few moments. Chris watched her, his interest piqued.

“I’ve been known to be somewhat difficult to get along with myself, Mr…Chris.” She smiled again. “Please feel quite free to ask me not to annoy you.”

Chris couldn’t miss the humor glittering in her pretty eyes and he laughed, a low rumbling chuckle of pleasure that had been missing from his mood for much too long.

His laughter was more enchanting than his smile, Elizabeth thought, shocked by the thrill of excitement that churned in the pit of her stomach. She relaxed minutely and dared to speak again.

“Where are you from, Chris?” She’d decided almost from the moment she heard him speak that he was from Texas. Asking was merely a way to satisfy her inquisitiveness.

Tucson,” he supplied after only a brief hesitation. “I was born in a little town that died years ago, close to the Texas border. I call Tucson home for the most part these days.”

It was a veritable wealth of information, and she laughed softly at the amazement he clearly felt at his own words.

“You don’t give much away, do you, Chris McQuade?”

He smiled again. “I could say the same about you, ma’am,” he pointed out in a voice low with seduction.

Elizabeth,” she said, almost in a whisper, mesmerized by his dark gaze.

The silence lingered for several peaceful minutes, then it was shattered by the roar of gunfire. The stagecoach lurched wildly, followed by the shriek of the terrified coach horses bolting ahead at breakneck speed. McQuade muttered a colorful curse and pushed aside the curtain at the window. Elizabeth was stunned to note that he held his gun in his hand and she hadn’t seen him actually reach for it.

“Stay down, Elizabeth!” he ordered sharply. She bit back a scream when he opened the door, took hold of the side of the coach, and hoisted himself upward until he was out of sight.


jean hart stewart said...

Ooh, this sounds special, Denyse. I love the strong silent ones....So sexy...

Tina Donahue said...

Wow, this sounds great, Denyse! :)