The Reckoning Blurb
Ike McAlister returns home to Kansas after the Civil War, his soul bruised and empty. Worse, his parents have been killed by Quantrill’s raiders who are still on the loose. No stranger to death and destruction, he vows to run the killers down.
A clue leads him to the high plains of Colorado, but when his sister, Sue, disappears there his world quickly spins out of control. In the midst of this turmoil a feisty landlady sparks an attraction that’s the only good thing in Ike’s life. Now, in a race
against time he must make a deadly choice. If he continues to pursue the killers, Sue will likely never be found. If he veers off to find her, the killers trail will likely go cold.
Which track to follow? Will the love of family triumph in his broken heart or will it be the passionate hate of revenge?
The cards were coming up aces for the scruffy cowboy across from him. The man was cheating, but Ike couldn’t see how. Ike had been losing to the surly wrangler for more than an hour and still hadn’t figured out his tricks. From what he could see, the man’s shuffle looked okay. His deal looked okay. It had to be something else. The sooner he figured it out the better. The stash of money in front of him had dwindled to next to nothing.
One of the players asked Ike where he was from. “I’m from back east a ways. Came here lookin’ for somebody.”
“Sounds like you’re looking for someone in particular. Mind my asking who?”
The man was a proper-looking sort in a black suit and bolo tie, both out of place in a rundown saloon like the Wildfire. He resembled a banker. Ike decided he might as well answer since he’d already told the sheriff why he was here. “I’m lookin’ for my sister, Sue.”
The Renewal Blurb:
Ike McAlister has finally put the ghosts of his past to rest. He’s found new joy with a spirited wife, a young daughter, and a mountain valley ranch where a man can make something of himself. But a coming railroad through the South Park valley threatens to take his land and tear his hard-won peace apart.
Discovering that the railroad could easily bypass his ranch, he organizes opposition and earns the animus of the formidable foreman. When Ike’s brother Rob, the sheriff, is bushwhacked, Ike sets out on a high stakes quest to find the killer before the killer gets him.
The Renewal Excerpts
Ike McAlister spied three rustlers ahead as he rounded the rocky ledge. A bullet whistled by his head and pinged off a boulder behind him. He dove off Ally and ducked behind the large granite outcropping, waiting for their next move. Cattle thieves weren’t common in this part of South Park, but they weren’t unheard of either. Some of his stock was missing, and he’d picked up these riders’ trail. His partner, Buster, was on the other side of the Park searching for the same stock, so Ike was alone on the valley floor.
He peeked around the rock, gripping his gun handle. The rustlers were driving five cattle south, away from his ranch. At least they hadn’t gotten either of his bulls. The drag rustler looked back occasionally, but none of them seemed to be in any hurry. Ike considered his options. He could follow and if he was lucky, scatter them with his rifle, then drive the animals back to his spread, or he could turn back now and let the bandits have the cattle.
He never was one to turn back. He’d get his stock one way or another.
He found Lorraine at the other end of the food tables, hemmed in by several women, all chattering about what a beautiful day it was to have a spring festival. He’d certainly gotten lucky when he married her. Ike stopped short for a moment, admiring how she brought life to everything and everyone she met. That wasn’t his way, although she’d tried to encourage him to be more social. He just wasn’t a good learner, he guessed. It made him appreciate her even more. He was about to go back for more food when one of the women standing nearby noticed him.
“Mr. Ike, how nice you could join us. Ladies, let’s make a place for one of the handsomest men in town.”
The compliment came from Eleanor Whitaker, the mayor’s wife. Ike had never thought himself handsome, so he stammered a short reply. “Thank you. I was just thinking how you all added to the beauty of the day.” Where that came from he didn’t know, but it prompted giggles and broad smiles from the women.
Lorraine hurried over to him. “Now, you all just give my man a wide berth. He’s so darned good looking that if you got any closer, I’m sure you’d keel over.”
A flush spread up Ike’s neck.
One of the women asked, “Well, seeing as Ike’s not available, how about his good-looking brother? Is Rob in the men’s raffle today?” She caught Lorraine’s eye. “He can put his feet under my table any time.”
Hannah smoothed a hand over her hair then clasped her hands together. Her eyes bored into Rob’s. “If I tell you a secret, will you promise to keep it to yourself?” She pulled his face nearly to hers. Her tone changed from lighthearted to earnest, and she had an intensity he hadn’t seen before. “Is it something I need to know? If not, I’d just as soon not hear it.” He turned and studied her. She loosened her hold, and her gaze darted around the room. “I want to tell you; I need to tell someone.
It’s burnin’ a hole inside me.” Her eyes were ablaze. “Then tell me.”
“I didn’t just come here by accident. I planned it, been plannin’ it for some time as soon as I knew. It just took me a while to work up the courage to come.” She was almost breathless. “And now that I’m here, I’m not sure what to do anymore.”
Rob broke in. “About what?”
Either she didn’t hear him or she decided to ignore him. “I’ve thought about what I’d say to him. I even thought about what I’d do to him, but now that I see him, he scares me even more than I thought he would.”
Rob raised his voice. “Who are you talking about?” “Will you keep it to yourself?” Rob nodded. She brushed a hand over her eyes. She leaned toward him and as she whispered in his ear, Rob’s eyes widened.
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