Sawbones, Book 3
Genre: Historical / Western / Action-Adventure / Romance
Date of Publication: June 27, 2017
Number of Pages: 416
Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in the conclusion to Melissa Lenhardt’s fast-paced historical series.
Laura’s worst fears have been realized: Kindle has been taken into custody and she is once again on the run. The noose awaits her in New York, but Laura is realizing that there are some things worse than death. Finally running out of places to hide, it may be time for Dr. Catherine Bennett to face her past.
Excerpt from Badlands by Melissa Lenhardt
Chapter One, Part 3
Continued from the Lone Star Book Blog Tours July 5, 2017 stop of the Badlands tour.
A tall man with a hat pulled low walked behind the woman, jostling her and breaking our gaze. A small strip of his white collar showed between his longish dark hair and the navy-blue coat he wore. Buff colored pants were tucked into the top of his cavalry boots, well worn and dusty from the trail. He held a Remington rifle loosely in his right hand and favored his left leg. A stream of smoke trailed behind his head and I knew he held a thin cigar between his teeth.
I dropped the notebook. It was Kindle, come to find me. Rosemond hadn’t been lying about helping me on Kindle’s behalf. I grasped the open window and yelled, “Kindle!”
My voice was barely a whisper, and the man continued on without stopping, down the steps of the platform and into town. I stumbled across the compartment and opened the door on the third try. Ricocheting down the hall on legs I could scarcely feel, I tripped down the stairs and fell onto the platform on my hands and knees. The redheaded woman was next to me, helping me up with strong thin hands. I stripped my arm from her grasp and tried to run in the direction the man went, but stumbled again. Why wouldn’t my legs work?
“Let me help you.” The woman lifted me up, put an arm around my waist and walked me in Kindle’s direction while I craned my neck searching for him. The steel gray sky was thick with the earthy smell of impending rain.
“There.” I pointed at a saloon down the street and the woman dutifully carried me along. We navigated through horses, wagons and pedestrians, drawing our own peculiar interest; an ugly woman holding a carpet bag in one hand and her other arm around a pale, ill woman. I reached for the porch column and pulled myself up the step. I rested my cheek against the coarse wood, hoping for a well-spring of strength to propel me inside the saloon, and into Kindle’s arms.
“You can’t go into a saloon,” the woman said.
I stumbled through the open door and stood for a moment, letting my eyes adjust to the dark. A card game at a table to the right of the door. A bartender polishing a glass behind planks of wood resting on two cracker barrels. A cracked mirror behind him. The jagged reflection of a thin women with disheveled hair and bruises beneath her eyes. My mouth watered as the oaky scent of whisky drifted around me. I followed the sound of a woman’s laughter coming from the back.
Finding my legs, I made it to the hallway in the back and stripped open the canvas curtain door of the first room. Empty. I moved to the room across the hall, startling two women in various states of undress. I went to the next room and ripped open the curtain. Kindle had his back to me, facing the naked woman on the bed, her hand between her splayed legs. My stomach lurched with nausea. “Kindle?” My voice was barely a whisper.
“She your wife?” the whore said.
The man turned and appraised me. A thin mustache hung limply from his upper lip, framing a cruel mouth and taking no attention away from his pockmarked olive complexion.
“That dope fiend? Hell no.” The man grabbed my arm and threw me out the door and straight into the bartender who lifted me up, and tossed me over his shoulder like I was a bag of leaves. He stalked through the saloon and dropped me on the ground outside in the middle of the only puddle in the street. With shaking arms, I pushed myself into a sitting position, horse piss dripping from my jaw, and looked up into the ugly woman’s face. The sun was behind her head, masking her expression.
“I told you not to go in there.” I took her offered hand. She pulled me up and released me quickly. She flicked the excess urine from her hand, bent down and wiped it on the bottom of her skirt. “Was it him?”
I shook my head.
She sighed. “I’m sorry.”
The train whistle screamed and the train labored forward toward California. “You’ve missed your train.”
Though my brain was fuzzy with laudanum and I wanted nothing more than to lie down in the middle of the street and sleep, I understood the import of the train leaving without me. I was free of Rosemond and could return to Kindle. I managed to smile. “So I have.”
My happiness was short lived.
Rosemond in her ridiculous blue dress stalked toward us holding a flour sack, her powdered, pox-scarred face a mask of fury. The ugly woman turned around and stood shoulder to shoulder with me. “Who’s that?”
Melissa Lenhardt is the author the Jack McBride mystery series, as well as the Laura Elliston historical fiction series. Her debut mystery, STILLWATER, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and SAWBONES, her historical fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new subgenre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband and two sons.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
1st – Badlands paperback; 2nd – Badlands eBook;
3rd – Badlands audio download via Downpour
June 27-July 6, 2017
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