Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
“There are two on the other side of the creek near the large clump of trees,” Job murmured to him.
Ansel nodded, though he hadn’t seen the men at all. “How do you want to do this?”
He would be the first to admit he wasn’t a strategist or a planner. He’d never been in any kind of real fight. Oh sure, he’d been challenged to a duel before, but that wasn’t a real life-or-death fight. Hell, no one was going to actually shoot or kill each other.
In the American West, there was always a chance someone would shoot him and kill him because most of the armed men were quite handy with their weapons. Which was why he never pushed the issue with Ramsey or any of the other townsfolk.
“Let me ride down there and get them heading out. I’ll go with them to Calbert’s. You can come down to the creek with Pascal and the others. I’ll meet you back in town later.” Job leaned over and gripped Ansel’s shoulder. “Watch yourself, Ansel. I can’t guarantee that there won’t be more arriving at some point. I don’t want you or the herders to get hurt.”
“You be careful too,” Ansel told him, hating the thought of him riding off without Ansel there to keep an eye out for him.
Job flashed him a quick smile. “I’m always careful, plus Calbert isn’t about to shoot me. Not when he’d have to deal with the whole family and trust me, he doesn’t want my brothers or father showing up on his doorstep.”
He fought the urge to lean closer and press his lips to Job’s. Kissing wasn’t something he did anymore, so wanting to do it right then bothered him. He covered Job’s hand and squeezed.
“I’ll see you in town later on,” he agreed.
Job glanced over at Pascal. “I’ll get rid of the two guys waiting down there, then you can take your herd to the creek. Ansel’ll stay with you and keep an eye on things.”
Pascal nodded. “He has escorted us before. So far we’ve been lucky and there hasn’t been any of Ramsey’s men waiting for us.”
After squeezing his shoulder once more, Job settled back into his saddle, then kicked his gelding into taking the trail down to the creek. Ansel kept his hand close to the butt of his rifle, ready to grab it if it looked like Ramsey’s men were going to cause Job problems.
The two men Job had spotted rode out to greet him and Ansel saw him raise his hand in a peaceful gesture. They seemed to be chatting before they rode off in the direction of Ramsey’s ranch. Ansel relaxed a little once they disappeared over one of the small hills.
“May we continue on, Mr. Woolstem?”
He jerked when Pascal spoke to him. He motioned for the herders to get the sheep heading to the water. Ansel stayed on the edge of the group, keeping his eyes moving from side to side, wanting to catch any possible danger before someone got hurt.
“Do you trust Mr. Ramsey?”
Ansel turned to meet Pascal’s gaze and gave his question some thought before he answered. “I know it must seem odd to you, Pascal. He is related to Calbert Ramsey, but everything I’ve learned about Job, he isn’t anything like that man. Job doesn’t believe in taking land away from the people who own it.”
“But you know we don’t really own this land, Mr. Woolstem.” Pascal propped his hands on his hips. “I haven’t been able to discover who does, but I also know that Calbert Ramsey doesn’t either.”
“No, he doesn’t. You don’t have to worry about the owner. Just keep doing what you’re doing and building a life here, Pascal. I guarantee no one will drive you from this land.” Ansel vowed, though he knew he was cheating since he was the owner.
Pascal eyed him, but didn’t seem inclined to ask why he could promise with such surety that they’d never be run off. They fell silent and watched the herd mill around while they drank. It wasn’t long before Pascal whistled and the dogs began to gather the animals, moving them back up the trail.
“If we allow them, they’ll stand there and drink until they’re sick,” Pascal informed him.
Ansel could see that. He liked the sheep, but they didn’t strike him as the smartest of animals. He shadowed them while they walked back toward where the herd stayed at night, close to Pascal’s family’s home.
When they arrived there, Ansel dismounted to go inside and chat with the women. They all greeted him with smiles and laughter. He found himself sitting, cup of coffee in his hand, listening as they talked to him about their wool and the dyes they use to color it. When he saw a length of green wool, he touched it carefully. It reminded him of Job’s eyes.
“Is this for sale?” He asked Pascal’s wife, Marianna.
She nodded, her eyes brightening as she sensed a sale. “Yes, Mr. Woolstem. We can make it into a blanket or a shirt if you wish.”
As much as he’d love to see Job wearing a shirt made from the fabric, he knew it wasn’t something a man bought another man. But a blanket would be perfect. Job would need a warm one for when winter arrived, especially if he chose to stick around in that rundown cabin.
“A blanket would be wonderful. How much?”
They haggled for a while over price until they were both satisfied that neither was being cheated. He arranged to pick it up in two days. After spending another hour or so with them, he pushed to his feet.
“I should be going back to town,” he told Pascal.
The herder agreed. “Mr. Ramsey will probably be waiting for you. Be careful, Mr. Woolstem. You’re a friends of ours and I wouldn’t want you hurt because of our friendship.”
Ansel chuckled. “Don’t worry about me, Pascal. I’ll be fine.”
Once he was seated on his mare again, he waved to them before riding in the direction of Gideon’s Crossing.
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Ansel swung off his horse and dropped the reins, knowing his mare was trained to stay where she was without the reins needing to be tied. He wandered over to where Pascal and the other shepherds stood. After greeting them, Ansel mingled among the sheep, petting and scratching them.
When he turned back, he saw Job staring at him with a rather odd smile on his face. Ansel shrugged.
“I like sheep,” he muttered when he got back to where Pascal and Job stood.
“They’re rather stupid creatures,” Pascal said then he touched Ansel’s shoulder. “But they are nice as well.”
Job crouched and snapped his fingers at one of the dogs the herders had with them. Both of the dogs looked at Pascal first and when he gestured, they approached. He scratched their ears and back.
Ansel’s heart literally skipped a beat, causing him to rub his chest. He’d told himself that Job was a good man. One he could trust to watch his back, even though he hadn’t known him for long. But seeing how the dogs milled around him, begging for attention, let Ansel know he was right. Animals’ survival instincts would keep them from wanting to be near a human who might harm them.
“Why did you come out here, Mr. Woolstem?” Pascal asked, frowning at him.
“I wanted to see the land you’ve been grazing your herds on,” Job spoke up as he straightened. He met Pascal’s gaze. “Calbert is claiming that this is his land.”
Pascal shook his head. “His land stops where the creek is. I can show you. We were moving the herd over there to water them.”
“Can we help?” Job motioned to Ansel and him.
“You may follow us. The dogs do most of the work.” Pascal whistled and the dogs barked, then started nipping at the sheep’s heels to get them moving.
Ansel liked watching the dogs and herders work together. They were like a well-planned out invasion, each knowing where the other has to be to get the sheep where they wanted them. Every once in a while, there was a rogue sheep that decided it wanted to blaze a different trail, but the dogs would round it up and push it back to the herd.
He mounted his horse, then waited for Job to join him. He looked at Pascal and nodded before circling the herd to ride on ahead.
“Why aren’t we following them?” Job rode up beside him.
“I want to make sure the creek is clear. Sometimes Ramsey has guys loitering there to chase Pascal and the others away. It’s not like they can’t take the herd to some other water source, but the creek is actually on my land, so Ramsey has no right to stop them from drinking there.” Ansel shook his head. “Pascal and his guys don’t fight back. Unfortunately, the sheep scatter and some are injured. Pascal ends up having to kill them.”
Job shrugged. “That’s not a horrible thing. It’s not like he can’t use the meat or anything.”
“He makes more money off the wool they gather than the meat from the animals.” Ansel pointed toward the animals behind them. “They aren’t raising them for food. They have some cattle for that.”
“Really?” Job seemed to thinking about it.
“Oh yes. Their women are some of the best spinners I’ve ever seen. They make wonderful yarn and fabrics with brilliant dyes and colors. And they make good money from it.” Ansel stumbled to a halt when he saw Job eyeing him again. “What?”
“Why do I think you’re going to offer these people land to keep up their business when we settled the whole thing with Calbert?” Job shook his head. “Are you going to build them houses and barns for their sheep?”
“Pascal has already started with those, plus a work shop for the women. I’m just going to invest in their business.” Ansel rubbed his palms on his thighs. “Unfortunately, I don’t have much time left and I’d like to see them settled before I get any worse.”
“You aren’t coughing as much as you used to, Mr. Woolstem,” Pascal spoke up and Ansel realized they’d stopped, allowing the herd to catch up with them. “Maybe the dry air has helped you.”
Ansel drew in a deep breath, noticing now that Pascal had pointed it out that his lungs didn’t feel as tight as they had before. Yet he wasn’t going to believe that he was cured or wouldn’t die from the lung disease eating up his insides.
“Let’s go. I don’t want these men walking into an ambush or anything.” Job nudged his gelding and they took off.
“Do you think Ramsey’s men will do something to the herders? Now that you’re in town?” Ansel wasn’t looking forward to a fight, but he wouldn’t let Job face those men alone.
Job lifted one shoulder. “I’m not sure, but if they haven’t done anything to them before this, I doubt they’ll try anything now. Especially since I haven’t reached out to Calbert yet.”
They rode over the hill to look at the creek flowing through the land. There was a trail leading down to the water. Job held up his hand and Ansel stopped, making sure the herders saw him signal for them to halt as well.
Ansel didn’t say anything, just searched the landscape. He wasn’t sure what Job was looking for or at, but he wasn’t going to move without Job telling him it was okay. Ansel understood that he was out of his depth in a range war. Hell, that was why he hadn’t told anyone he owned the land the herders were squatting on. He wasn’t going to ask Pascal and his family to risk their lives protecting land that wasn’t theirs. At least not yet.
He really did plan on giving them the land they were building their homes on. He wouldn’t need all of it when—or if—he decided to claim it publicly.
I ended up adding about 1k to From the Rubble during edits yesterday, so I didn’t have time to write today’s installment of Angel. I promise that I will be writing it for tomorrow.
Question: If I were to write Alain’s story in the Rags to Riches series, who else would you like a story about? I’d need to write two more to have them put in print like the others. I do think Alain has a story to tell, but I wasn’t sure what other character people might like to read about. Let me know your choices and I’ll see what I might be able to fit in my schedule for next year.
Hope you all have a great Tuesday. Hugs!
A Bittersweet Haunting, co-written with Jackie Nacht, came out on the 17th while I was at GRL. It’s available at MLR Press, Amazon and ARe. In case you missed it…lol
And I got the cover for the Amber Allure book that will be coming out November 16th. From the Rubble is about a Search and Rescue guy and the Army sergeant he meets while down in Bogata, Colombia.
I just signed the contract for another book at Amber Allure. Deserves to be Adored will be out sometime at the beginning of next year. It wasn’t due until Dec. 1st, so I’m ahead of the game on that one…lol. As soon as I get a cover or any other information, I’ll let you know.
I had a great time in Chicago at GRL and have finally caught up on everything last week. lol Hopefully that means I should be able to get the blog installments done on time now.
Have an awesome Monday and stay safe.
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Ansel tilted his head in acknowledgement, but he didn’t say anything. Job could tell he didn’t really believe him. He couldn’t blame the man. It didn’t seem like Ansel’s own family wanted him around. Well, Job would do the best he could to convince Ansel that Job wanted him, not just to warm his bed for a little while.
They passed a trail leading from the road and Ansel gestured toward it. “That leads to Calbert’s main compound. The moment you step off the road, you’re on his land.”
“Have you ever gone to talk to him? Let him know that your family actually owns what he’s trying to claim?” Job wasn’t interested in going to visit Calbert at the moment.
“Bloody hell no.” Ansel glared at Job. “Why would I do that when I have no one to back me up? Run the risk that your uncle will kill me then hide my body where no one will ever find it? He would be able to do that and take the land.”
“Aren’t you in touch with your family? Wouldn’t he miss you after a while?” Job couldn’t imagine his family ignoring him. He always made sure to send a message to his brothers or parents, letting them know he was still alive. If he didn’t, someone would come looking for him.
Ansel lifted one shoulder. “I’m not entirely sure he would. I know my brother wouldn’t come looking for me. I’m getting the feeling that your family, though scattered to the wind, is much closer than mine would ever dream of being.”
He was most likely right. Job didn’t bother moving in the direction of Calbert’s land. He wanted to talk to the herders, even with knowing Ansel actually owned the land.
“Do the sheepherders know you own the land they’re squatting on?”
“No. I’ve been out talking to them from time to time, but I’ve never told them anything about me. They think I’m some strange Englishman and humor me by allowing me to wander with them.” Ansel smiled. “In many ways, the life of a sheepherder is hard and solitary. Yet I found I enjoyed it.”
Job chuckled. “Are you going to leave your comfortable bed and well cooked meals for sleeping on the ground and eating beans cooked over a fire?”
Ansel shuddered. “Oh heaven’s no. I don’t like it that much.”
“I didn’t think so,” Job said with a rather smug tone to his voice.
“Bloody jackass,” Ansel muttered as they continued down the road.
Job pretended not to hear that. “How much land does your father own?”
“From the stream that separates our land from Calbert’s all the way to the foothills to the west and the river to the north.” Ansel tapped his fingers on his thigh as he thought. “I’m pretty sure part of the reason Calbert wants the land is we have a large amount of water on it. Spring fed and it doesn’t go dry during the summer. The livestock can always drink.”
“Water means life or death here in the West. You’re probably right about that being an issue.” Job paused then said, “I looked at a map of Calbert’s land. I thought he had plenty of water.”
Ansel shook his head. “He only has two sources that don’t dry out during the hottest days. It’s not enough for the amount of cattle he’s running on his land. Of course, I think his herd is far too big for the acreage he’s claimed. He’s overgrazing the land.”
“I thought you didn’t know anything about cattle and ranching,” Job questioned, smiling slightly.
“I made it my business to know who my neighbors are and what kind of men they are. Unfortunately, I haven’t been impressed by a majority of them. The herders are fine. I will allow them to stay and might even give them some land of their own in return for some of the wool they gather from their sheep.” Ansel gestured in front of them. “You can talk to them yourself.”
Job looked ahead and saw a man standing in the middle of the road. He wore a flat brimmed straw hat on top of his dark curly hair. Job saw the suspicious glare disappear into a bright smile when the herder spotted Ansel.
“Senor Woolstem, you have come back to visit us.” The man waited for them to reach him before holding out his hand for Ansel to shake. “I was not sure if you would after the snake scared you.”
Ansel groaned and Job laughed. “I can’t wait to hear that story.”
“It’s not nearly as interesting as it might sound,” Ansle assured him. “Pascal, this is Job Ramsey.”
He saw the flash of fear in Pascal’s eyes and rushed to reassure him. “Don’t worry, Pascal. I’m not here to cause you trouble or anything. I’m simply looking for some information.”
“Calbert Ramsey is some relation to you, yes?” Pascal motioned for them to follow him off the road onto a faint trail.
“Yes, he’s family,” Job admitted, not seeing any reason to lie to the man.
“If he is family, then why are you not here to run me off the land my family and I have settled on fair and square? Calbert Ramsey has threatened many times to chase us off and kill our animals.” Pascal shook his head. “I do not understand his hatred of our sheep. They do nothing to him or his land.”
“Some people are greedy and want what they can’t have,” Ansel commented.
Pascal nodded. “That is true, Senor Woolstem. I am often amazed at what men consider important to them. Apparently more land will make Ramsey happier than he is now.”
Ansel snorted. “God, I wish it worked like that. I’d be buying up land and signing it over to him if it would get him to leave you alone.”
“We appreciate your concern.” Pascal patted Ansel’s knee when they stopped at the top of a small hill.
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
“Do you think you frightened him enough to do what you said?” Ansel asked as they took their seats at a table in the corner of the restaurant.
He settled Ansel with his back against the wall then sat to put himself between Ansel and the rest of the room. There was no way anyone could sneak up on him and hurt Ansel. Job shook his head quickly, trying to clear his mind. Ansel could take care of himself.
He would need to have Ansel show him how he handled those pearl handled guns he wore at his hips. Job was impressed because not many men wore two tied down guns, and they weren’t Englishmen.
“We’ll have the breakfast special, Ruthie,” Ansel told the red-haired waitress standing next to them. “And bring a pot of coffee as well.”
“Yes, Mister Ansel.” She smiled at Ansel and nodded at Job.
“You a regular here?” Job kept his attention on what was going on in the room around them. He tracked the movement of people and their conversations. Nothing sounded suspicious, but he’d learned that the atmosphere could change in an instant.
Ansel shot him a look. “Of course, I eat here. It’s not like I have some place to cook my meals, even if I wished to do so.”
“But the lady who runs the boarding house you stay in provides breakfast and dinner. Why not eat there?”
“Because my ma is a better cook than Missus Jones, sir. I warned Mister Woolstem about her.” Ruthie returned with two full plates and a jug of coffee, setting both on the table in front of them. She filled their mugs before leaving.
Job chuckled. “Are they trying to fatten you up? Mothering you?”
Shrugging, Ansel cut into the steak on his plate. “Possibly. I don’t have the heart to tell them that it won’t work. Plus she is right. Ruthie’s mother is a fabulous cook.”
“This can’t be what you’re used to eating,” Job commented as he started in on his own meal.
Ansel nodded. “Very true, but I’ve found that I like a plebian meal once in a while.” He paused as though he were trying to decide whether Job knew what plebian meant.
He waved his hand to let Ansel know he got it. They fell silent while eating. After setting his utensils on his empty plate, Job leaned back in his chair, cup in hand. He watched Ansel sop up the gravy with one of the biscuits.
“I believe this is some of the best biscuits and gravy I’ve had in a long time,” Job said when Ruthie came back to clear the table.
“Thank you, sir.” Ruthie slipped away.
Job stood then swung around, holding out his hand as the telegraph guy approached them. He took the papers then motioned for the guy to leave. Ansel huffed in annoyance.
He watched as Ansel flipped the man a coin. The guy scurried out like a beaten dog.
“You didn’t have to give him anything,” Job told Ansel.
“I know, but doing it this way might allow him to remember us a little more fondly. That way if you need something else, he might be more inclined to help next time. Of course, the fact that you’ve scared him silly might help us as well.” Ansel pushed to his feet after setting some more coins on the table for the food.
They wandered outside where the horses were tied. Once he ascertained that they weren’t in any danger, Job read the telegram. He grunted as he finished and stuffed it in his pocket to burn later.
“What does it say?”
“I’ll tell you while we’re on our way to talk to the sheepherders.” Job mounted his gelding. “Though I’m not sure where we go to find them.”
“Follow me.” Ansel swung aboard his horse then headed out of town.
Why was he not surprised that Ansel knew where the herders would be?
“Is there another reason why people here might not like you all that much, Mr. Woolstem?” Job drew his horse alongside Ansel’s.
“What do you mean? The townsfolk love me.” Ansel wiggled his eyebrows. “At least the female folk do.”
Job snorted. “I have no doubt that you are quite able to charm the women, but they aren’t gunning for you. I’m getting the feeling that you’ve been involving yourself in something you probably should’ve stayed out of.”
“I get bored and go for long rides around the surrounding area. I’ve met the herders during my wanderings. They are good people. I believe them when they say Ramsey doesn’t own the land.”
“He doesn’t, but neither do the sheep guys. I’m not entirely sure who does. The claims office didn’t give me the name of the real owner. They only confirmed that Calbert and the others don’t.” Job glanced over at Ansel. “Maybe you should tell me the truth, Ansel. Do you own that land?”
Ansel shook his head. “No, I don’t own it.”
Sighing, Job reached over to poke Ansel in the side. “Give it up, man. Just tell me.”
“My father owns that land. He bought it several years ago. Someone told him owning land in America would be a good investment. He never planned on doing anything with it until I got sick. Instead of sending me to India, he decided I need to accompany my brother to New York then once he was engaged, I was to traveling on to Gideon’s Crossing.” Ansel pursed his lips then shook his entire body. “I was to settle on the land, build a ranch, and die out here without ever returning home.”
Okay. “Why would your father want that? You’re his son.” Job couldn’t imagine the Ramsey patriarchs doing that to their sons. Not even Travis’s father would have sent his son out to the frontier to die.
Ansel’s laugh wasn’t as happy as it should be. “As you can tell, I’m not exactly a shining example of masculinity. I got caught into compromising situations one too many times. By sending me out here, I get to feel like I’m being treated like an adult and my father can say he gave his unruly son something to help him grow up.”
Job touched Ansel’s shoulder. “I’m glad you’re here.”
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Ansel moved up next to him and they stared at Baldwin. The man snarled at them, but yanked on the reins to pull his horse around. Job didn’t continue on his way until he was sure Baldwin and his men weren’t going to return.
Once he was sure, he got his horse moving and Ansel fell in beside him. They stayed silent for a few yards then Job cleared his throat.
“You’re going to want to be careful, Ansel. Baldwin doesn’t like you.”
“I know. He hates me because he wants me. Some men can’t deal with that.” Ansel shrugged. “I get the self loathing. Hell, desiring a man like that can get you killed. I tend to ignore men like him.”
“Well, most men you’ve dealt with aren’t wearing guns. In London and New York for that matter, there are laws and people to enforce them. Out here, the law is what we chose to make it. He could ambush you or just shoot you in the street and tell them you drew first. No one will argue with him.” Job reached out to touch Ansel’s arm, making sure the man was listening to him. “I don’t want you to die any sooner than you’re going to.”
“Maybe being shot would be better than dying in such a painful manner when I suffocate,” Ansel mumbled.
“It might be quicker,” Job admitted. “But I’m not sure it’d be any better. I don’t want you to die at all, Ansel. Not when we just got to know each other.”
Ansel shot him a wink. “Was that what we were doing last night? Getting to know each other?”
Snorting, Job shook his head. “You’re incorrigible. You know what I’m saying.”
“I do, and thank you for being worried about me. It’s been a long time since someone has concerned himself with my welfare.” Ansel covered Job’s hand for a second before his horse danced away from Job’s gelding. “I’ll do my best to not irritate anyone and end up shot. Though you did say there might be a chance of that happening if I were to help you.”
“Yes. It could happen.” Job didn’t see the point of lying to Ansel. “Calbert isn’t going to be happy if I decide not to help him.”
Ansel frowned. “I got the feeling that you were supposed to help him because he’s family and Ramseys stick together.”
Job lifted one of his shoulders. “I probably should, but fuck it, I’m not the Helper and I don’t see the point of chasing people off land that they might have filed on legally. We’ll have to check on that.”
Clearing his throat, Ansel motioned ahead of them. “We can stop at the telegraph office before we get our breakfast. Send a message to the territorial seat and see if they—or Calbert—have filed on it.”
And if he found out that the sheepherders had done it all legal-like, he’d tell Calbert to back the hell off. He didn’t believe in stealing—land or anything else—and he’d tell Travis to ignore any plea Calbert might send.
“What if someone else filed on the land, but allows the sheepherders to graze on it?”
There was something about Ansel’s question that made Job look at him.
“Does someone else own that land, Ansel?”
“I wouldn’t know,” Ansel said, yet Job had a feeling Ansel wasn’t telling him the whole story.
He narrowed his eyes at Ansel. “You wouldn’t lie to me, would you? Not now after what we did last night.”
Ansel placed his hand over his heart. “I promise. I’m not lying to you. I don’t know if anyone has filed on that land, Job. I was simply posing a question.”
“Hmm…” He wasn’t entirely sure Ansel was being honest with him, but he’d let it go for now. He’d wait until they heard back from the claims office before he started digging into what Ansel actually knew.
“Let’s go.” Ansel sat forward and his horse took off.
Job allowed him to take the lead, knowing it was just a diversion to keep him from asking any more questions. He followed Ansel into Gideon’s Crossing, stopping only when they reached the telegraph office. Job dismounted before strolling into the building. Ansel stayed outside and rested his shoulder against the wall next to the door.
Just inside the room, Job took a step to the left and waited until his eyesight adjusted to the lower light. The clerk glanced up and Job saw his eyes widened when he caught sight of Job.
“C-can I help you, sir?” The man stuttered.
“Yeah. I need to send a telegram to the claims office in the territorial seat.” Job stalked closer to the counter.
“Yes, sir.” The clerk handed him a paper and a pencil. “Please write out what you want to know and I’ll send it out for you.”
He wrote out his message quickly then handed it to the clerk. “I’ll stand here while you send it then I want you to destroy what I wrote. I’ll be at the restaurant having breakfast, so you can bring the answer as soon as you get it.”
“Umm…I’m not supposed to do that.”
“Then send the damn message and I’ll destroy the message.” Job crossed his arms over his chest, staring at him.
The clerk’s hands shook as he sent the telegram. Once he was done, Job reached over to grab the paper. He tore it into pieces then stuffed them in his pocket to burn later.
“Remember bring me the answer as soon as you get it. Don’t tell anyone what I was doing here or I’ll come and have a word with you.” He glared at the young man who swallowed loudly.
Job stomped out, heading to his horse. Ansel laughed as he returned to his mount as well. Job glanced over at him, but his friend simply shook his head. Rolling his eyes, Job rode to the other end of the town where the restaurant was.
Hey everyone, I’m in Chicago now, waiting for GRL to start.
I did manage to get Tuesday’s installment of Shuffle done and scheduled. So there’s at least one installment this week. I’m going to try and get the second installment up for you.
In case someone is wondering, I didn’t add anything to the new version of Borderline, so if you have the older one, then you don’t need to grab this one. Unless you like the new cover.
I hope you have a great Monday.
An Ace in the Tiebreak, Book 8 in the International Men of Sports series, is available now at all 3rd party sellers. (ARe and Amazon) You can check it out here.
Also, I got the cover for Borderline, which is a re-release at Totally Bound. I love this cover, plus there will be two more books in the Delarosa Secrets series coming next year. Borderline will be out in February.
I finished Deserves to be Adored, which is a story for a Amber Allure PAX. It should be out early next year. I’m working on a St. Patrick’s Day story for MLR Press. After that, I’ll be working on Trailing Air, Rover’s story. Yes, finally….lol
Next week I’m going to be in Chicago for GRL. I’m going to try and get the two blog installments up and scheduled before I go. If I don’t, I’m sorry.
I hope you all have a great weekend.
Shuffle of Angel’s Feet copyright c. 2014 T.A. Chase
Job knelt next to their bedrolls and reached out to shake Ansel’s shoulder. “Hey man, time to get up. We have to get going.”
Ansel mumbled something. The way he pressed his face into his arm made Job wish he didn’t have to wake him. He knew the man was exhausted all the time. Consumption drained a person, along with the coughing and how difficult their breathing could be. Yet he needed to go out and see the land Calbert claimed was his, and he didn’t want to leave Ansel in the cabin.
“Ansel, wake up,” Job demanded.
“You’re a bit of a bastard in the morning, aren’t you?” Ansel peered at him from under one of his arms.
After standing up, Job strolled over to where the coffee pot was set. He poured a mug for Ansel then took it to him. “Here drink. I thought we’d grab breakfast in town before I ride out to look at the land. I might see if I can’t talk to some of those sheepherders.”
Ansel leaned against the wall while he sipped the coffee. He grimaced and Job chuckled. Shooting him an annoyed glance, Ansel swallowed.
“I don’t understand why you heathens can’t make some tea. What do you have against it?”
“Aside from it’s difficult as hell to get out here,” Job pointed out. “It’s not quite strong enough to wake a man up in the morning.”
“It can be made stronger, and I would be more than willing to pay the price to import some to this Godforsaken land.” Ansel scowled down into his mug.
Job tossed Ansel’s clothes over at him. “Not a morning person, huh?”
He watched as Ansel set the mug down then climbed out from under the blankets to get dressed. It wasn’t until he was completely clothed with his guns that Ansel picked up his mug and drained the rest of the coffee. Job waited, not speaking either. He got that some people just didn’t like getting up early in the morning.
“I’m getting used to rising at some God awful time in the morning, but it wasn’t something I’m used to. I usually didn’t get out of bed before eleven when I was at home.” Ansel lifted one of his shoulders in a nonchalant shrug. “Of course, I wouldn’t have arrived back at my home until four or five in the morning either.”
“Ah…to be a man of leisure,” Job joked as he double-checked his saddlebags, guns and rifle. “Let’s go.”
Ansel picked up his own rifle and bag then followed Job out of the cabin. They worked together in companionable silence while they saddled their horses. Before they mounted, Job grabbed Ansel’s arm and jerked him into his body. He pressed his lips to Ansel’s cheek then his neck.
“Good morning.” He stepped back, enjoying the slight blush to Ansel’s pale skin. “I should’ve done that when we were in the cabin.”
“There’s no one out here who could see us,” Ansel told him then swung aboard his horse.
After mounting, Job motioned for Ansel to follow him in a rather circuitous route away from the cabin and down to the road leading into town. Ansel coughed and Job looked at him.
“I’m all right,” Ansel said, tucking his handkerchief in his pocket. “Sometimes it’s a little worse in the morning before I can get moving for the day.”
He had to take Ansel’s word for it, but he would be keeping an eye on the man. He wouldn’t treat him like he was helpless. Hell the man wasn’t dead yet.
Hoof beats caught his attention and he loosened his gun in it’s holster as well as making sure he could get his rifle out fast if needed. Job noticed that Ansel did the same. Three riders rounded the curve in front of them. Job and Ansel eased to one side, willing to give way for the trio. Job tensed when the riders drew abreast of them then stopped.
“Howdy,” the man in the front said, obviously the leader.
Job nodded and Ansel said hello back.
The man studied Job for a moment before letting his gaze trail over to Ansel. “Mister Woolstem, I’m surprised to see you out and about, considering your condition.”
“Condition? I’m sick, Baldwin, not dead.” Ansel shook his head.
“Yeah that might be true, but you are a bit of greenhorn. You don’t know your way around this country,” Baldwin pointed out.
“True. Luckily, Ramsey here is willing to be my guide for a little while.” Ansel gestured to Job.
“Ramsey, huh? You wouldn’t be some relation to Calbert Ramsey, would you?”
“Distant relation,” Job informed him, not wanting to give every thing away.
Baldwin nodded. “He said he was calling in family to help him with those squatters on his land.”
“From what I’ve heard, he’s never filed on that land, so why should he be upset about someone else taking advantage of free land?” Ansel met Baldwin’s gaze with an innocent expression of his own.
“Ramsey’s been running his cattle on that land since he settled here. That means it’s his.” Baldwin growled at him.
Job held up his hand. “We’re not here to argue with you. I don’t care about any kind of land dispute. I really am just passing through. Hell, I forgot Calbert lived in the area until you mentioned him. Guess I’ll need to drop in on him and catch up.”
Baldwin didn’t seem interested in what Job had to say. He was focused on Ansel and Job didn’t like the look of lust and disgust crossing the man’s face. Going to have to keep a close eye on Ansel. He’s made some enemies since arriving in Gideon’s Crossing.
“We’re on our way into town to grab some grub. I’m sure you have some place you need to be.” Job nudged his gelding’s side. When the horse stepped forward, Baldwin’s horse had to give ground, which didn’t make Baldwin happy obviously.