Shannon here: Linda Shenton Matchett shares a romantic excerpt from her latest Historical Romance, Beryl’s Bounty Hunter. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for an e-book copy. Deadline: August 26th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Linda:
Excerpt from Beryl’s Bounty Hunter by Linda Shenton Matchett:
Lucas tore his gaze from the gorgeous young woman he’d been following to look at his friend’s wife, Daria McKay. “How fortuitous, Lucas.” Daria said. “We were just discussing our need to see the sheriff.”
“You’re not the sheriff?” The stranger’s eyes widened.
Lucas whipped off his hat and dipped his head. “My name is Lucas Wolf. I, uh, assist Gideon sometimes.”
“Don’t be coy, Lucas.” Daria motioned to one of the vacant chairs at the table. “He’s a bounty hunter and has captured some of the most dangerous bandits in the territory. Delivering a couple of ruffians from the train station is light work for him.”
He dropped into the seat, aware that his hulking frame took up too much space.
Daria smiled. “Lucas, this is Beryl Atherton, recently arrived from England. Beryl, this is Lucas Wolf from the great state of Texas.”
A tentative smile curved Miss Atherton’s lips. “How do you do.”
“A pleasure, ma’am.” He tried not to stare as her color improved, although she still looked guarded. A black ring encircled each of her golden-brown eyes that contained flecks of amber. High cheekbones and a small, pointed chin gave her face an angular appearance. Her fingers that gripped the fork were long and slender. He motioned for the women to begin eating. “Welcome to Wyoming, Miss Atherton.”
Daria stabbed a carrot chunk. “Call her Beryl. You know we don’t stand on ceremony here. And Beryl, don’t you dare call him Mr. Wolf. No one would know who you were talking about.”
Beryl nodded. “All right.” She pushed her food around her plate. “What brought you to Wyoming, Mr…er, Lucas?”
“The train, same as you.”
“What? Oh.” She giggled, a soft musical sound. Her expression lightened. “You have quite a sense of humor.”
His pulse thrummed as he grinned. The wall around his heart cracked ever so slightly. He’d do whatever he could to wipe the fear from her eyes and produce the smile on her lips. For the time being, he’d keep the conversation mundane so her appetite would return. Her form seemed to be naturally lithe, but her face was gaunt. Had the ocean voyage been difficult for her?
He regaled her and Daria with tales of cattle drives on the Chisholm Trail, perhaps embellishing the excitement just a bit. But his plan worked, and she managed to finish nearly everything on her plate.
Daria winked at him as if she knew what he’d done. “Do you have time to join us at the jail?”
“Absolutely.” They rose and made their way toward the door. Lucas tried not to notice the graceful sway of her hips. Focus, man!
At the jail, the sheriff jumped to his feet, his gaze bouncing between the three of them. “Twice in one day, Lucas. To what do I owe the honor?”
“Miss Atherton just arrived, and she’s got a complaint to lodge.”
Gideon motioned for the women to sit in the two rickety wooden chairs. “I’m sorry you’ve had a bad time of it already, Miss Atherton. Take your time and tell me what happened.”
Lucas leaned against the wall. The pulse in Beryl’s neck danced, and he squelched the desire to wrap an arm around her shoulder.
She nodded as she fisted her hands together in her lap. Fifteen minutes later, she sat back with a sigh, her face once again pale. “Nellie is trapped with them. She didn’t want to go with them, but Mac had a gun.”
Lucas’s gut churned. “What kind of people prey on desperate young women?”
“Desperate?” Beryl glared at him, her eyes like stones. “I don’t need your pity. You have no idea what my life has been like. I am not desperate.”
He gulped. “I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult you. It’s just that, well, why would you choose to marry a man you’ve never met, in a country you’ve never been to?”
She squared her shoulders and rose, her face severe. “None of your business. Suffice it to say, I thought it was the correct decision to handle my situation. That’s all you need to know. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll take my leave. It’s been a rather exhausting day.”
With a curt nod to Lucas, she marched to the door and left the building, Daria scurrying to keep up.
Gideon smirked at him. “Your usual charming self, Lucas. Well done.”
“With all due respect, Sheriff, stow it.”
Gideon guffawed and clapped his hands. “I think someone is smitten by our town’s beautiful guest.”
“Hardly.” Lucas held out one hand. “Show me what you’ve got on this gang.” The sooner he could find a lead, the sooner he could leave town. Why did that thought hollow his stomach with disappointment?
Question for Readers: Have you ever done any kind of volunteer work? If not, what would you volunteer for if you could?
Bio: Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry (of Star-Spangled Banner fame) and has lived in historical places all her life. She now lives in central New Hampshire where she is a volunteer docent and archivist at the Wright Museum of WWII. Learn more & connect:
About the book – Beryl’s Bounty Hunter
Can a thief and a lawman find happiness?
Orphaned as a child, Beryl Atherton has lived on the streets of London as long as she can remember. Reduced to stealing for survival, she is arrested. During her incarceration one of her cellmates shows her a newspaper ad for an American mail-order bride agency. But all is not as it seems, and moments after landing in Boston, she must run for her life. Will things be no different for her in the New World?
Working as a bounty hunter since The War Between the States, Lucas Wolf just needs a few more cases before he can hang up his gun, purchase a ranch out West, and apply for a mail-order bride from the Westward Home & Hearts Mail-Order Bride Agency. While staking out the docks in Boston, he sees a woman fleeing from the man he’s been tailing. Saving her risks his job. Not saving her risks his heart.
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