The whole thing was crazy! Tower tried to gun down a saddle tramp looking for work. Instead he lies dying, making Gus hear his confession, swear to care for the man he just wounded, and witness his will leaving half of his wealth to the man he just tried so hard to kill and half to his bride of only a few hours. If all that had not been bizarre enough, the man denies he is who Tower thought he was, and despite all Gus’ warnings, Elizabeth is drawn to the cold-hearted, hate-driven man, saying he is who Tower thought he was. But then no one listened to
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Sitting beside her husband, Elizabeth Tower was staring at the hands folded limply in her lap. Her blond head, hair plaited and wrapped in a knot in the back, raised slightly as the buggy drew to a stop. For just an instant those huge blue eyes, the first thing Gus had noticed about her, touched his and slid away.
“Ma’am,” Gus said, tipping his hat politely and wondering again why she dressed so plain and puritan.
“What do you want, Temple?” Tower asked curtly, jumping to the ground.
“Won’t take a minute,” Gus said bristling at the man’s arrogant tone. “Got a man out back I’d like to put on to tame that filly.”
Tower helped his bride of only a few hours to the ground and then turned his back on her. “Does he have recommendations?” he queried.
“Only what he says he can do.”
“I’ll speak to him.”
“Sir, Mr. Tower, you don’t need to do that, not right away,” Gus said quickly, looking with embarrassment at Mrs. Tower. “Likely you’d want to see Mrs. Tower into the house.” At least that much, he thought, since they’d just come from being married. “He can wait a few minutes.”
“Nonsense. I’ll talk to him now. Elizabeth, go into the house,” he ordered, leaving her without a backward glance.
Gus ducked his head in embarrassment for her, mumbled an apology, then hurried to catch up. When Gus rounded the corner of the house, he was still five feet short of overtaking Tower. Bowman was still sitting on his horse at the corral fence, watching the prancing filly. What happened then happened so fast, Gus couldn’t do anything more than stare.
Tower took one look at Bowman, stopped dead in his tracks, and screamed, “You!” in a voice choked with horror. He clawed for the gun he carried on his hip, and as soon as he had the gun clumsily in his hands, he began to shoot.
His target looked puzzled, then shocked, and then Bowman shot back. Not in the crazy, wild, panicked way Tower emptied his gun but with cool calculation. Only one shot was returned while that nag of a horse stood solid with bullets whipping up dirt between her feet, and she only flinched once when one of them burned her rump.
Bowman’s one shot ended the shooting match, knocking Tower to the ground at Gus’s feet, though Tower’s gun discharged once more as he fell. With the biting smell of burnt black powder in the air, the echoes died away before Gus found his voice again.
“My Gawd,” was all he could say, and since it didn’t seem to be enough, he said it again. “My Gawd.”
“Why did he do that?” Bowman asked, sounding for all the world like he was asking no more than the time of day.
“I was going to ask you that. Don’t you know?”
“I never saw him before.”
“Boy, you better come down off that horse. We’ll have—”
“No,” Bowman said, still soft and low, but with finality. “You saw what happened. You make sure the marshal knows it straight.”
“He’ll want to talk to you,” Gus said, stepping over Tower.
“I don’t want any trouble, so don’t come after me.”
He obviously had said all he intended to say and backed his horse off. That was when Gus realized Bowman still had his gun in his right hand, and to back up his words, it was pointed at Gus. That was also when Gus saw the blood on Bowman’s leg, just above the top of his boot. One of Tower’s bullets hadn’t been wild enough; it had struck flesh and possibly bone.
Before Gus could argue with him, two things happened. First, he realized Tower wasn’t dead, and second, Sweet, whom he’d forgotten, opened up on Bowman. Then Sweet dove for cover and the safety afforded him by a solid barn wall between him and the return fire. A swift kick sent the bay horse into a run, with Bowmen seeking the quickest route out of there.
“You damn knothead, Sweet! What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Gus screamed in rage, which brought Sweet from behind his shelter with his mouth hanging open. “Put that damn gun away and get over here.”
“He’ll get away,” Sweet argued in bewilderment.
From the ground Tower cried frantically, “Don’t kill him. Let him go. Gus, help him.”
“You just take it easy. We’ll—”
Sweet ran up to them, shouting, “You gone crazy? He shot the boss.”
“He asked for it,” Gus growled.
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Larion Wills, a multi-genre author, also writes under the name of Larriane Wills. From science fiction to western romances she holds up to her tag of ‘two names, one author, thousands of stories.’ Be sure to read the Little Sam’s Angle, Twisted Wind, (Swimming Kangaroo Books) and watch for White Savage, Tarbet, and Mark of the Sire coming soon from Muse It Up Publishing.
Born in Oklahoma, but raised in Arizona she feels a native to the state and has settled in the high desert country. In a quiet, rural area with a family who tolerates her writer’s single-mindedness, she presents us with a series of unique westerns while still producing contemporary romances, many laced with paranormal settings, all with strong characterizations and suspenseful plots, capable of dragging you into a story in a genre you thought before you didn’t care for. At her website, http://www.larriane.com/ , you can keep abreast of releases under both pen names. You can also visit her online at: http://larionmusing.blogspot.com/ and http://www.Facebook.com/people/Larriane-Wills/1535007230.