Bart Kingsley had followed her to New Mexico, ready to lay his love--and his life--on the line. But spirited Laura Rose had made a fresh start for herself. She hadn't left her controlling father in Kansas to let some gun-slinging outlaw ruin her hopes--no matter what scandalous past they shared six years ago. Or how his green eyes beckoned!
Rosie was his light in the darkness--Bart would do anything to win back her trust. But he was a wanted man. Would the past, with its dangerous demands and debts, conspire to destroy their new beginning? Or would his faith in God--and in Rosie--be rewarded?
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January 01, 2011
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Excerpt from The Gunman's Bride by Catherine Palmer
Raton, New Mexico Territory
Keeping his six-shooter aimed at the sheriff, Bart Kingsley crouched at the corner of a white picket fence. He was bleeding bad. The bullet that caught him in the side hurt something awful. But Bart knew he couldn't let pain overcome him. He was on a mission to find the woman he loved.
Laura Rose Vermillion's window stood out as a black patch on the dull gray wall of the dormitory just over the fence. Bart knew it was Rosie's window because he had caught sight of her shaking out a pink rug that morning. His Rosie...his beautiful Rosie.
"Kingsley!" a voice echoed through the darkness. "Kingsley, I know I winged you, boy. Come on out like a man and maybe the doc can save your sorry hide."
Bart gritted his teeth. He was too close. Too near Rosie now to let a bullet stop him. Hiding in some shrubs near the depot, he had waited all day until the sun went down and the last train left town. But when he made his move, Sheriff Mason T. Bowman had appeared out of nowhere.
"I've got help, Kingsley," the lawman called out now. "The Pinkerton National Detective Agency out of New York City sent their best man after you. You ain't never going to get away. Not with a Pinkerton detective on your trail. You know that, boy. So, put your hands up nice and slow, and we'll hold our fire."
Bart grimaced. A Pinkerton man? Now that was serious business. Those fellows could track outlaws better than a pack of hound dogs. The damp blood on his buckskin jacket told Bart he was leaving a trail nobody could miss.
But he couldn't be captured now. Not this close to his Rosie. Bart tugged the kerchief loose from his neck and pressed it against the bullet wound. He set his gun on the ground and worked his jacket's buttons into place to hold the kerchief tight.
Taking up his pistol, he began to creep along the boards of the fence. The dormitory housed young women who worked as waitresses for Fred Harvey's famous railway restaurant. Bart surmised that a fence built to keep eager young bucks away from the pretty females inside it would have a gap or two.
"Kingsley, we've got every street blocked!" Bowman barked. "You'll never leave Raton alive unless you surrender now. Come on out, boy!"
Bart pushed against the pickets as he inched toward Rosie's window. Aha. A loose board swung outward, leaving just enough room for a man to slip through the fence. Bart edged himself between the securely nailed pickets, then reached back and eased the loose board back into place.
"Look at this!" a deep voice called out. "You plugged him all right, sheriff. There's blood right here by this fence. Good shot. He won't get far."
The Pinkerton detective, Bart guessed. He touched his jacket and prayed the kerchief would hold. Slinking across the grass, Bart tried to think about Rosie. Beautiful Rosie with long brown hair and pretty little ankles. Six years had passed since he'd seen her, but Bart knew he would always love her.
"The blood trail stops at the corner," the Pinkerton man announced. "He's close."
Bowman shouted into the night. "Men, search under every woodpile and behind every fence. Shoot him if he runs."
Bart pushed himself up against the rough stone wall of the dormitory until he was standing. Dark mists swirled before his eyes. Don't faint. Not now.
He reached up and caught the edge of a protruding stone. Then he lifted one leg and found a foothold. Rosie, he reminded himself. Overhead was Rosie's window.
"'Spose he could have gotten over the Harvey girls' fence?" someone asked.
Bart pulled himself upward until he found another stone ledge to grab.
"Nah, the sheriff pegged him...