Marlene didn’t halt the wagon because she saw the bloody body. With half of the man’s head gone, she knew no amount of Good Samaritan deeds on her part would do him much good. There’d be no putting him in the wagon and taking him to an inn. No, sir. She stopped because he was blocking the way. That, and the horses had spooked, so she pulled back hard on their reins and set the hand brake, a little angry about it, having her progress halted like that.
Next to Marlene, Valentina swept their surroundings with her shotgun. Marlene unholstered her own Colt .44 and jumped down.
“Watch it now,” Valentina said from atop the wagon.
Marlene shook her head. “Where are they hiding, Valentina?” Meaning there were no trees or shrubs or rocks for any robbers to conceal themselves ahead of pouncing out. Nothing but high desert terrain for miles, fading itself into the western cliff faces on one side of the trail, and the eastern ones on the other.
Plus, this guy lying there—he wasn’t pretending to trick passersby into taking pity on him.
“We should go back for the sheriff,” Marlene said.
“And get caught out here at night?” Or worse yet, up in that festering town, Bodie, Valentina didn’t have to add.
Marlene turned around to scowl at her. “Would you get down here and help me yank him out of the way?”
Valentina huffed and jumped down, shotgun still in hand. She wouldn’t set it aside,
either, grabbing the man by the leg one-handed. Not wanting to seem imprudent, Marlene did likewise, gripping her revolver with her right hand while she pulled on the other leg with her left.
It took a couple of pulls to build momentum, but with three more grunting yanks, they slid him off the trail, leaving a streak of blood and brain bits across the path.
Back on the wagon, Marlene pointed it out. “Reckon it will bring us back luck?”
“He’s the one with the bad luck.”
“I mean crossing a line. A red one, no less.”
Valentina eyed her like she’d lost her mind. Marlene shrugged, then got the wagon moving again. But she shouldn’t have dismissed Valentina’s foreboding so quickly.
Less than a mile later, they found another body. It also blocked the path.
Thank you for reading!
If you enjoyed this sample, pick up your own copy of newly released novel, Gold for Horses
When Marlene runs across a gunslinger shot up and near death, she rescues him, fearing he will bring her nothing but trouble. In the middle of her own family upheaval and the dangers it presents, she doesn’t need another worry. Knowing how to handle herself with a gun, she doesn’t need his help either. But before Marlene can prevent it, their fates will intertwine in a struggle for redemption and survival.