“A wild ride that will rope your heart and reel you in.”
—Charlene Whitman, best-selling author of The Front Range historical romance series
—Charlene Whitman, best-selling author of The Front Range historical romance series
Poppy Montgomery has always been good with a gun and could fight her way out of anything. Tough as nails and a sharp shooter, her beauty deceives the outlaws she’s after. Hot on the trail of the Clemmons gang, a group of outlaws who rob trains and killed an innocent woman and child a few months before, she is determined to make them pay for the sin’s they’ve committed by bringing them to justice.
Pinkerton, Noah Shaw is investigating a ring of stage robberies and knows the Clemmons gang is behind them. Told to track down the infamous redheaded bounty hunter, Noah gets more than he bargained for when he arrests Poppy for assault.
Handcuffed together the pair must work to stop the robberies, and figure out who is behind them. But what happens when love interferes and thrusts Poppy into discovering emotions she never knew existed?
Will she choose the solitude she’s always known, or Noah’s sweet embrace?
Outside of Dodge City, Kansas 1884
Poppy reloaded the Winchester tucked between her legs. The pale skin beneath the denims winked at her through the frayed hole in the knee. The slacks had seen better days, and right now the rip was the least of her worries.
When she was on the hunt she packed light; it wasn’t wise to carry too many things that could weigh you down. Nope, she’d brought just the essentials. Except, this time she’d made extra room for a hairbrush and the lavender soap her sister, Fern, had given to her when she’d visited.
A bullet whizzed past, and she ducked lower. She yanked the Stetson off her head and checked it for any holes.
“Damn it.” The bullet had nicked the top, tearing the felt.
She crammed the Stetson back on and cocked her rifle. Her fingers tightened around the handle. The cold barrel rested against her cheek, and she shivered. Here we go. She slid to her stomach and inched the butt around the boulder she hid behind.
She’d been tracking the Clemmons gang for two months, and now she finally had them. The lowlifes were wanted clear across the territory for their robbing of the railroad, but Poppy’s debt was personal. The gang had killed Molly Schmidt and her son, Tad.
She closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. She’d never met the girl until the day she’d come across the turned-over stagecoach and found the mother and son sprawled on the dirt ground. Poppy swallowed. The horrid sight was forever etched into her mind. Molly had been alive when she’d found them, but not for long. After Poppy laid the little boy in Molly’s arms, the mother took her last breath. The memory still got to her making her eyes sting and throat work.
Killin’ had never bothered Poppy; she’d done her fair share and seen more than she’d like to admit, but what had her up nights was “Why them?” The thievin’ bastard Lefty Clemmons had murdered the mother and son, and she’d make him pay for what he’d done. The rebel outlaws had taken the lives of others too, but Molly and Tad had stuck with Poppy since the day she’d found them ten miles outside of St. Louis. She didn’t know where the pair was headed, but it’d been clear their deaths were for nothing more than pleasure.
Her eyes watered, and she blinked the wetness away just as another bullet whizzed past her head.
“I ain’t dyin’ today,” she whispered and rolled onto her stomach. Her sister Fern’s lecture on proper etiquette and language rang in her ears. Poppy had always been a bit to the left, as most folks would say. She didn’t take well to rules, and she didn’t take to speaking like a lady. Hell, she had better things to do, like kill the bastards who had her cornered.
She aimed her rifle, seeing two heads pop out of the bushes ahead, and fired. She smiled when she saw one of the outlaws pitch forward and fall to the ground.
The band of men were hunkered behind a stand of pine trees, which made it difficult for Poppy to see them and would aid in their escape if she didn’t get a move on. She needed to push them out of the bush toward her and not in the other direction.
She scanned the field in between them. Aside from a few rocks, including the one she was wedged up against, there was nowhere for her to go. She didn’t want to retreat into the forest a couple of yards behind her until she was sure the gang lay dead.
A bullet hit the rock she was leaning on and ricocheted to the right She peeked around the boulder and saw six riders coming toward her. Damn it. They knew she was alone and figured her stranded. The horse’s hooves pounded onto the ground as they drew closer. Dust billowed above their heads, and she knew without a shadow of a doubt they were coming to kill her.
“Shit,” she breathed. She laid her Winchester down and checked the Colts on either side of her hips. She pulled them from the holsters and gripped the handles with her clammy palms. The forest looked more appealing now, but there was no way she’d make it without being peppered with bullets.
Poppy shook her head.
Nope, ain’t no outlaw was gonna kill her today. She checked the rounds and clicked them back into place. She swiveled to sit on her knees, aimed her guns, and began firing. Another outlaw fell from his horse and rolled to the ground. No time to see where she’d hit him, she continued to shoot.
She had five bullets in each gun and she’d fired six of them already. The men were closing in. She lifted her arm to aim at an outlaw, when a sharp pain penetrated her shoulder, and she fell backward. The pistol she’d been holding flew from her hand and lay two feet from her on the dirt ground. She inched her injured arm closer to the gun. A searing pain raced up to slam into her shoulder, and she hissed from the pain.
A bullet hit the ground beside her hand, throwing up dust. She scrambled backward closer to the rock. Hell and tarnation. She was in trouble. One gun was all she had left. She flipped open the chamber. Two bullets lay nestled inside.
“Damn it. Two shots and a lame arm.”
She hadn’t thought this through when she’d followed the outlaws from town into the blasted prairies. No shelter, and her against six dangerous men did not bode well. But Poppy never shied away from danger, and to hell if she’d do so now.
She glanced around the boulder; four riders came toward her. She leaned against the rock and inhaled—two bullets and four targets. And one damn pistol.
She could hear the horse’s hooves pounding into the ground like a hundred buffalo. Oh, what she’d give for a band of Sioux to crest the hill to her right. At least she could get out of that one. Most of the Indian tribes were friendly with her, since she could speak their language and had sat many nights around their fires.
She looked at the Winchester lying beside her. With the injured arm, she wouldn’t be able to shoot the rifle. All she needed were two extra shots. The outlaws were closing in, and she had no time to load the six-shooter.
Shots pinged off of the rock beside her head, and she shimmied closer to the ground. The guns hadn’t ceased, but instead of hitting her they were flying above her. Thank goodness. Another shot, this one from ahead of her. Had the gang circled around and were now coming for her in both directions?
In her mind’s eye she saw her sisters, Fern and Ivy, standing over her grave, broken and desolate. Nope, she’d not do that to them. She’d come out of this if she was riddled with bullets, but she’d not die.
Another shot flew ahead of her. Whoever was shooting was not aiming at her but instead at the gang. She inhaled, rotated her hips, and rested her bloody shoulder against the rock. If this was help, she’d use it. She peered around to see where the outlaws were. The Clemmons gang had retreated, and she stared at their backsides.
Poppy dropped her six-shooter—the threat of the outlaws now gone—and flexed the fist on her injured arm and almost howled from the pain. Blood dripped from her fingertips and into the dirt, creating a crimson puddle.
A rider cantered toward her from the forest where she’d left Milo. She went for her Colt and remembered she’d dropped the gun, which was now lying too far for her to grab.
The sun caught a piece of the badge he wore on the lapel of his suit. The metal star shone bright. A Pinkerton. A bloody damned Pinkerton. They were the only ones who dressed better than a judge and wore a badge.
Poppy shaded her eyes to get a better look at him when he pulled his horse to a halt right in front of her.
“You all right?” His voice was rough, gritty, and low.
She pressed her back against the rock and shimmied her way to stand.
“I’m fine,” she said and reached for her revolver.
“Looks like you’ve been shot.”
“Nothin’ gets past a Pinkerton.” She holstered her guns, the movement causing her great pain, but she refused to show him how much.
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Kat Flannery’s love of history shows in her novels. She is an avid reader of historical, suspense, paranormal, and romance. A member of many writing groups, Kat enjoys promoting other authors on her blog. She enjoys teaching writing classes and giving back to other aspiring authors. Kat’s been published in numerous periodicals throughout her career.
Her debut novel CHASING CLOVERS has been an Amazon Top 100 Paid bestseller. LAKOTA HONOR and BLOOD CURSE (Branded Trilogy) are Kat’s two award-winning novels and MONTGOMERY SISTERS is Kat’s first novella series. She is currently hard at work on her next book.
Visit Kat at: www.katflannerybooks.com
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E.E.: How often to you get lost in a story?
Kat: Almost all of the time. I love to read, and I love to write. The best part of both is exactly what you just asked.
E.E.: What’s the first book you remember reading?
Kat: Little Women. I still love that book. I could watch and read it over and over again and never tire of it.
E.E.: What’s your favorite “love” word?
Kat: My beloved. When I was writing Lakota Honor I used a lot of Sioux within the dialogue. My beloved was how he expressed his love for her.
E.E.: What’s your favorite fairy tale?
Kat: I grew up watching all of Disney’s fairy tales, and I’d have to say my all-time favorite is Beauty and the Beast, more so for the message than anything.
E.E.: What’s your favorite cartoon character?
Kat: Bugs Bunny. He had wit and charm, and he was kind.
E.E.: What turns you off like nothing else?
Kat: Unkind people. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior, and I am completely put off by it.
E.E.: Can you tell us about a real-life hero you’ve met?
What a great question, and I’d love to tell you. My brother, Joe was a real-life hero. He passed away of cancer three years ago, but for all the crap he was dealt with in his short life he always smiled, never judged, and was the kindest person I’d ever known. Even when he was very ill, he still continued on the same as he’d always been with a great big smile on his face, and empathy for those around him. He never complained, or whined about his situation. He never blamed anyone or got angry…he was the essence of what humanity, humility and great courage is all about.
E.E.: Fairy Tale or Action Adventure?
Kat: I like both. It depends on my mood. How about a Fairy Tale with action and adventure?
E.E.: Is there a playlist you’d recommend for reading your latest release?
Kat: Not really. My playlist is all over the place with the songs I listen to. Most people who look at what is on my playlist are confused as to what genre of music I actually like…because I like them all.
E.E.: Where do you read and how often?
Kat: I do not read while writing a book. I try to read one book in between each new project, sometimes two. I have a comfy chair in my sitting room beside the fireplace…it’s the best place to read.
E.E.: What sound or noise do you love?
Kat: The laughter of my three sons.
What is your favorite love word, and why?
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