Procrastination is my middle name…well maybe my first. I should have posted this last week but Gah! A current wip has me in a frenzy and I’ve been in battle.
Then of course, on top of everything else, our new internet router keeps giving us fits (technician coming for 3rd time today) and last night when I began this blog, the router froze too many times and I finally gave up. So, here I am this morning, dodging in an out of internet stops to say, “Hey! hope you’re havin’ a fun summer!”
I’m sharing the beginning from Destiny’s Dream, my free prequel to the Eclipse Heat McCallister bounty hunter books. If you want the whole story, follow this link and enjoy both Destiny’s Dream and Cat Nip while they’re still free. http://www.gemsivad.com/dreamcatcher/
In 1866, three McCallister youths set out on a quest to find and spy on Lozen, the Apache warrior priestess. The seer has captured Charlie Wolf, the half-Kiowa McCallister’s imagination and he’s determined to share this adventure with his white cousins, Robert and Sam. The boys are half-grown striplings when they leave the McCallister ranch. When they return, they are men.
The McCallisters, 1866 Indian Territory
Charlie Wolf took great satisfaction in leaving no evidence of his visits when he slipped on-and-off the ranch. It was late afternoon, almost dusk, when he skulked around the horse corral, using the shadows to reach the first outbuilding. Once inside, he climbed to the loft and crawled higher into the cupola. From his vantage point, he viewed the house through the louvered slats covering the high, glassless window.
When the lamps across the ranch yard had all been extinguished for the night, Charlie traded his barn perch for the ranch porch, using the water barrel at the corner of the building to boost himself onto the roof.
He listened, waiting until he heard the devil’s snores cutting through the otherwise silent house before moving again. His goal was the open, second-story window—the raised sash a signal the old man would never recognize as anything more than an attempt to cool the room.
Seeing the silent welcome they’d devised in the past gave Charlie an unexpected jolt of pleasure. Aside from his mother, the two boys who lived in the house were the only white people Charlie called friends. He eased inside and faced Rob, who stood tensely, staring at the window.
“I’m glad you came tonight but it’s not a good time to get caught. The old man’s on a rant.” Rob whispered.
“Jonas went for his whip and Sam holed up in the attic.”
“I’ll get him. You take the porch route down and be ready with horses.” Charlie eased back outside.
“Take this, he’ll need it.” Rob thrust a canteen at him as Charlie crawled up the slanted roof and stopped at the attic window which wasn’t much more than a skylight.
It didn’t seem big enough for him to get through. He squinted trying to see into the darkness. If it was as hot inside the third story room as it had been in the barn cupola, the younger McCallister might have passed out by now.
Cautiously, Charlie scratched on the window, replicating the sound a stray branch might make against a pane of glass. A cover blanketing the window came down and a candle replaced the darkness as Sam stared out at him. When Charlie motioned him to open the window, Sam shook his head and pointed at the sash, mouthing the words, “Nailed shut.”
Hatred surged through Charlie. He took out his knife, wishing he could visit the beast snoring below and slit his throat. Instead, he slid the point of the blade between the soft wood of the frame and the window sash, patiently working each nail loose until Sam could get his fingers beneath to help pull it open.
A blast of heat escaping the airless room struck Charlie’s face when they finally pushed the glass to the top. Sweat glistened on Sam and he used his shirt to wipe it off.
“Water.” Charlie pushed the canteen into his cousin’s hands. In spite of the cut on Sam’s mouth and the bruise on his forehead, it appeared he’d escaped one of Jonas’s severe beatings.
The younger boy wet his face and lips before taking a long drink. Then he grinned at Charlie and drawled, “Bout time someone came to play.”
Wasting no time, the kid gathered the cards he’d laid out in poker hands on the rough wooden attic floor, shoved them in his pocket, and returned to the window.
Charlie laid Sam’s shirt across the jagged nailheads left in the wood. Tight though the opening was, Sam twisted until he levered his lanky frame through.
Once the youngest McCallister was freed, they made a stealthy journey from the roof, stopping first by the porch for Sam to drink deep from the canteen and wet his shirt in the rain barrel. Then they tracked shadows through the ranch yard to join Rob behind the barn.
“I should kill the old bastard while he sleeps,” Charlie said grimly, fingering the scar on his cheek.
“His time’s comin’,” Rob muttered.
Charlie figured his own expression was just as bleak as Rob and Sam’s as they all contemplated killing their grandfather, Jonas McCallister.
As Charlie watched, Sam rubbed the white patch of hair on the forehead of his horse affectionately.
“Present company and a deck of cards excluded, you’re my best buddy, aren’t ya, horse.” Sam grinned and pulled on his wet shirt. Ignoring the stirrups, he swung into the saddle with one lithe move.
No broken bones—this time, Charlie thought. Relieved, Charlie motioned his cousins to follow and they walked their mounts single file from the area, making an effort to be quiet.
“What now?” Robert asked after they were far enough from the ranch buildings to speak out loud.
“I’m going to see a witch. Thought you two might like to tag along.” Charlie’s answer changed the mood, sparking a hoot and a “hell yeah,” from Sam.
“And where would this tag-along take us?” Charlie could see Rob’s ever present caution at work in the question.
“The Territory,” Charlie answered, knowing that Rob didn’t fret about his own hide but saw it as his job to keep Sam from harm.
“It’s not like we’ve got better things to do, brother.” Sam’s words clinched the deal and the decision was made. They set out for the mountains in the distance and had left McCallister land before the sun had risen.
This short story is a non-erotic companion read to Wolf’s Tender, Five Card Stud, and Trouble in Disguise. Prior familiarity with those books is not necessary but I sure hope you’ll check out the three adult McCallisters after you’ve read the way it all began.