Blurbs & Excerpts!
All the old news broadsheets were pasted up on the outside wall. Emma had made a habit over the last few months to seemingly casually peruse the sheets whenever she was in town. They usually contained news of the latest criminals wanted for various nefarious deeds and whether they had been jailed, hanged or were still on the loose. Each time she half expected to see her name and likeness emblazoned on the piece of parchment.
Emma Fairfax, murderess!
Emma anxiously scanned all the sheets. Her eyes barely registering the print, searching for the words Emma, Black Canyon or Clayton. She moved on to scan the rough, pencil drawing pictures which accompanied each story.
“See anyone you know?” asked a dark voice from just over her shoulder.
Startled, Emma swung around. All she could see was a broad chest covered in black linsey woolsey with polished wood buttons. She didn’t dare look further.
The silence stretched.
Jackson Horn was a patient man. He was not unaccustomed to tracking his quarry for days at a time, whether it be a deer…or a man. Right now, he had his eyes set on decidedly more feminine prey.
He had noticed her the moment she rode into town, perched on that dilapidated buckboard being pulled by an animal that had more in common with a donkey than a horse. As she alighted he was pleased to see she adopted the more informal mode of dress favored by many women in the small towns out West. Not taking up with those ridiculous hoop skirts, bustles and crinolines that hid a woman’s figure from a man. Dressed in a simple pale blue muslin dress, Horn would guess by the sweet way her bottom bounced and sashayed under that skirt she was only wearing one maybe two petticoats at the most. He watched as she strolled into the General Store. Wanting to get a look at her face, he decided to wait outside and bide his time.
Rolling a cigarette with some cut up cornshucks as he leaned against the barber shop’s outer wall, Horn’s thoughts lingered on finding out just how many petticoats she had on and what it would take to get under them.
First he was surprised to see her tear out of the store like a jack rabbit with a hawk on its tail only moments later. Then his curiosity was raised when she headed straight for the old newspapers. Wondering what the little bunny was about, Horn decided to take a closer look. His suspicion was aroused, among other things, when he saw precisely what section of the newsprints drew her rapt attention.
As he silently approached, Horn once more appreciated her fine figure. She was a little thing.
The top of her head wouldn’t reach his shoulder. His hands would easily span her tiny cinched in waist. There was a single, glossy tress which had escaped the confines of her bonnet, twisting and curling down to the middle of her back. It was a rich chestnut. He felt a spark of anticipation as he wondered what color her eyes would be. Horn was momentarily denied. As she turned around, the straw rim of her bonnet hid the upper portion of her face. He was given a tantalizing view of full, cherry red lips and a pert chin.
Calling on his own rigid discipline to keep his cock from rising at the thought of what he would do with those lips, Horn focused on the matter at hand…seeing her eyes.
“I got all day, bunny,” he drawled, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Bunny!” responded Emma as she raised her chin with a startled look. The name sounded positively scandalous and far too intimate…especially how he uttered it.
“Sir, I do not know you. Kindly let me pass,” chided Emma in the haughtiest voice she could muster given her throat was closing in fear. After her initial shock, she had quickly lowered her head, hiding under her bonnet rim.
She had only lived in Wickenburg for a few months but being the school teacher allowed her the opportunity to meet just about every adult in town. This was a stranger. A very tall, menacing stranger, which could only mean one thing. This was the gunfighter lawman whom the girls at the shop were gossiping about with such unvarnished glee. The very man Emma was trying to avoid.
Her eyes were as green as prairie grass in sunlight, thought Horn. She had an adorable button nose to match that pert little chin. As she lowered her head, depriving him of a closer look, his eyes roamed lower. Horn could not suppress a low whistle of appreciation at her magnificent breasts. God bless ‘em, they were too large for her petite frame but you wouldn’t hear a complaint from him. Although clothed in a prim neckline with a delicate lace-edge, he could still make out the luscious curves. More than a handful, they made a man think about burying his cock between their ample weight.
Emma once again raised her chin at the lewd sound. First bunny and now a whistle! This man was a reprobate! A rogue of the first water!
Indignation mixing with fear, Emma shifted to the right, planning on side-stepping him and making a dash for it.
Horn was too quick. Wrapping his large, strong hands around her waist. So diminutive, his fingertips almost met at her lower back.
“Not so fast, little bunny. I can’t let you scamper away just yet.” This was sport of a different color and far more entertaining than chasing down men like Bartlett. Besides, he hadn’t become the best gunfighter this side of the Mississippi by ignoring his gut. He had a feeling this little prim and proper package was hiding something.
Sucking in a breath, alarmed at the warm feeling of his hands through the fabric of her dress, Emma tried to wrench away.
Horn’s jaw clenched. Yep, he was damn sure he wasn’t ready to let her go just yet. At least not before he learned her name.
Looking over his shoulder, he quickly scanned the street. Between the town’s meager three hundred or so residents and it being the height of the hot afternoon, there was barely anyone out and about. No one taking the least bit of notice.
Easily lifting her off her feet, ignoring the kicks of her small kid shoes against his leather encased shins, Horn walked the few steps to the alley between the post office and dress shop.
“I’m thinking we need more privacy to continue our conversation,” he murmured against her ear before slowly letting her slide back to the ground.
She didn’t dare scream, knowing it would draw the unwanted attention of the well-meaning townspeople. Emma immediately tried to back away. Her body connecting with a rough stucco wall.
Horn leaned his hands against the same wall, far above her head. Towering over her, blocking out the light from the sun and imprisoning her between his hard body and the harder wall.
“You can’t just go about accosting complete strangers like this,” sputtered Emma as she ran her hands over the high waist of her skirt, smoothing away non-existent wrinkles in a vain attempt to erase the feel of his hands.
“Let’s get better acquainted then,” chuckled Horn with a crooked smile and another slow appreciative look over her bosom. Tipping his hat, he offered, “Jackson Horn at your service.”
Emma sucked in a breath. She knew it was him, the gunfighter probably sent to find her, but to hear him casually introduce himself in that charming manner as if he didn’t just smash her world into tiny little bits was too much. Emma stared at the ground. The loud thumping of her heartbeat in her ears drowning out all else. Had he guessed who she was?
Emma Fairfax, murderess!