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Authors: Sylvia McDaniel

Deadly

BOOK: Deadly
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Deadly

By

Sylvia McDaniel

 

 

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Table of Contents

Copyright

Chapter One

 

M
eg McKenzie stood in yet another hotel room, another dusty frontier town, on the hunt for yet another wayward criminal. She pulled out her Baby Dragoon revolver from her holster, spun the cylinder, and checked to make sure a bullet graced every chamber. With a gentle tug, she checked the leather case
,
and then she slid the weapon back into its holster, just a fingertip away.

She wore her gun low on her hips just below the waist of her father’s hand-me-down pants. No fancy dress for Meg.

“The McKenzie sisters are about to strike again,” her sister Ruby said, as she slid her own gun into the hidden sheath-like case neatly tucked beneath her petticoats. Her saloon dress dipped low in the front, to the edge of her breasts, the straps completely off her shoulder. She flipped her blonde hair back and checked her image one last time in the mirror. “How many men have we brought to justice?”

In the last year, they had learned the bounty hunter trade and continued the legacy of their father. With his death, the girls had been forced to find work in order to save the farm and in a desperate moment chosen their current path. Meg and Ruby chased wanted criminals, and Annabelle maintained their family farm. At least until they returned and could join their sister once again. They’d never intended to make this their lifelong occupation. Just long enough to pay off the mortgage on the farm.

“At least twelve. Seems we’ve spent more time on the road than we have at home,” Meg said, homesickness surging through her like an open wound.

“Just as well with Sheriff Zach still coming out to the house looking for you.”

“Zach Gillespie wants a quiet, retiring woman who wears a dress and has tea parties. Do I look like that kind of woman?” Meg shook her head. Her heartache was nearly healed, though she could never look at Zach again without smiling and remembering him naked.

Ruby laughed. “No, but you could if you wanted.”

Meg glanced out the window. The glow of the setting sun cast a shadow, but she could still see the dress shop down the street. After she’d spoken to this no-name town’s sheriff, she’d spent time in the little dress shop, gazing and fingering the available dresses and the patterns of the latest fashions. Inside these pants, a woman longed to emerge and live like a lady, not the rough bounty hunter façade of a life she lived now.

“I’ll never change for any man. As soon as we pay off the farm, then I’m going to begin my life and do things the way I want to,” Meg vowed. She had dreams, she had plans, and soon, it would be her time.

Circumstances required she dress like a man. But the girly-girl in her had a hidden vice. Her own little secret pleasure…a rouge pot. Just a tiny bit of color to her lips helped her remember she was a girl. A girl who had the same desires as every other woman.

As the sun continued its descent, cloaking the street in darkness, she knew it would soon be time to carry out their plan.

“Your weapon’s ready?” Meg asked one last time. She worried about Ruby and hated leaving her alone with the criminal they were chasing.

“Yes,” Ruby said. “And you’ll be there with me?”

“Until you give me the signal.”

“Remind me how much this guy’s worth?”

“Five hundred dollars.” This could be their last bounty if things worked out like Meg planned.

Ruby smiled and walked over to the window. “Papa would be so proud of us.”

Meg shook her head, knowing their Papa would have been furious at the chances they were taking. “Maybe secretly, but he’d tell us we should have taken jobs in town. He’d have been more concerned about our safety than how quickly we were paying off the farm.”

Ruby turned, her mouth twisted with displeasure. “No. I will never become a maid again. Never. This last year has been exciting, and criminals are too stupid to realize a pretty woman is going to pull a gun on them.”

Meg nodded. In the last year, Ruby had changed and matured. She’d gone from a love-crazed girl to being driven to catch as many low-life criminals as they could. She enjoyed the chase, the thrill. “Annabelle said we need six hundred dollars more, and the farm will be mortgage free.”

“Old man Bates will fall out of his chair when you pay off the note.”

Meg smiled. “Annabelle said he wasn’t too friendly when she took in the payment on the note this year. He had plans on repossessing the farm. Too bad.”

“I miss Annabelle,” Ruby said, with a wistful whine in her voice.

“Yeah, me too. But someone had to take care of the farm, and she’s good at the bookkeeping.”

Meg glanced out the window and watched as men entered the saloon, the doors swinging wide. Now was when her nerves had her stomach rolling, her heart racing, and fear choking her throat. What if something happened to Ruby? How could she live with herself?

“The drinking has begun,” Meg said quietly, listening to the music spilling out into the street from the local saloon.

“And will soon end for Simon Trudeau,” Ruby said laughing, her eyes shining with excitement.

There was no fear in her gaze, only excited anticipation. Only reckless adventure. And that worried Meg.

“The horses are saddled and ready to go. Give me your satchel, and I’ll secure it on your horse. I can’t go in with you, or they’ll make the connection between us.” Meg stared at her youngest sister, fear sitting like a pit in the bottom of her stomach. “You’re all set? Your weapons are ready?”

Ruby shrugged. “My knife is in my boot. My gun is in my holster.” She smiled. “And my charm is ready to ensnare this poor bastard.”

Meg was always stunned at how much Ruby enjoyed the chase. They used her as the bait, and then Meg would pull a gun on some poor unlucky bastard, and Ruby would tie him up. Every time before a catch, her blue eyes would sparkle and shine with excitement. She loved being a bounty hunter. She loved catching criminals, and most of all she loved playing her many roles.

They’d done everything from the distraught woman, pregnant wife, and now a saloon girl. Wherever the unlawful resided, they’d lay a trap and ensnare the wanted.

“Where’s your hat?” Ruby asked.

“Right here,” Meg said and picked up her black cowboy hat and pulled it down tight.

But for Meg it was just a job. A means to an end. A way to earn a decent living and pay for the farm. Once they had enough money, she would retire and never chase another criminal. But Ruby loved the chase, the entrapment, and the thrill of turning in the longrider.

Music echoed down the street, and Meg knew it was time. “Are you ready?”

Ruby smiled, her lips painted red, her cheeks tinted with the same color. “Let’s get this done, so we can go home for a while.”

“Let’s go.”

The two walked out of the hotel room together, but once they reached the street, Ruby walked to the saloon alone.

Meg gave her just enough time to get inside, and then she followed. Time to go to work.

*

Ruby strolled down the street toward the saloon, her head held high, a smile on her lips. In the last year, she was no longer the love-obsessed young woman who only wanted to find herself a husband. Now, she wanted anything, but a man, in her life. They were worthless dogs. She’d made it her mission to put as many of the loathsome jackeroos behind bars.

Where before she’d dreamed of hearts and flowers, now she dreamed of tricking outlaws into believing they could have her, only to capture them in her net and hogtie them before she and Meg carried them off to the law. She was ridding the world of evil bastards who preyed on women and children and killed innocents. And she loved her new life.

Pushing open the doors to the saloon, she stopped and glanced around. Men congregated at gaming tables, talking or just staring down into their drinks. Her gaze swept the room, looking over the clientele. Some men came for the women. Some men came for a drink, and some came to gamble. Most had women and children at home, who they should have been spending time with.

Some were there for the pleasures the saloon offered before they headed out of town, running from the law once again. Her stomach tightened, as her nerves tingled, when she spotted her prey at the bar, drinking, his head bent low, hat pushed forward over his forehead.

She sauntered over to the bar and took the stool next to Simon Trudeau.

“Hey, cowboy,” she said, her lips turned up into a smile, giving him her best come-and-get-it look.

With a flick of his finger, he pushed his black cowboy hat up on his head. Beautiful dark emerald eyes gazed at her like he was starving and she was cream pie. His eyes sauntered over her skimpily attired body, lingering on her breasts before his gaze returned to hers.

This fourflusher would be easy pickings as long as he continued to stare at her breasts.

“Like what you see?” she asked, unable to keep the sarcasm from her voice. A shiver of revulsion shimmied up her spine, the remembrance of that closet with Clay Mullins never far from her memory.

It was a miracle that bastard still lived and breathed.

“Nice,” he said, his eyes once again on her face and not her breasts.

“Looking for some company?” she asked.

“I don’t pay for women,” he said, looking away like he’d seen all he wanted to see, presenting more of a challenge. A challenge she loved. But she’d lay odds he liked sex.

“I don’t charge men,” she responded, her voice low and sultry. “I bet a big strong, handsome cowboy like you has women begging for attention.”

He smiled and reached out, skimming her face with his fingers. She had to force her body not to shiver and maintain her smile, while she let him touch her skin. The urge to vomit was strong, but she knew she couldn’t let him see her reaction.

“If you don’t charge, what’s a pretty girl like you doing here in the saloon?” he asked. “Surely there must be some man waiting for you at home.

She laughed. “If I had a man at home, why would I be here?”

“Exactly,” he said.

“Buy me a drink, and I’ll tell you about my wicked ways,” she promised.

He grinned. “You don’t look old enough to have a torrid past.”

“You don’t look old enough to bed a woman.”

He laughed.

“Bartender, two whiskeys,” he called out.

She had to build trust before she could get him out the door and into the alley, where Meg would be waiting, once she gave the signal. They had this little scenario down to an art, and most criminals were stupid enough to fall for their trick.

The bartender placed the drinks in front of them, and she lifted her glass and clinked it against his, the sound vibrating. “To strong men who like pretty girls.”

Oh, if he knew she was being sarcastic. That she was using her sexuality against him and that before the night was over, his roving eyes and lustful nature would cost him his freedom.

She smiled and leaned close to him, giving him an up close and personal view of her cleavage. “I like whiskey, and men like to buy girls a drink if they show their bosom.”

Simon grinned a sexy smile that if she’d wanted a man, would have worked some charm on her, but instead, it only left her wary. He turned on the bar stool until she was in between his legs. “I’ll buy you as many drinks as you want, honey.”

“Then buy another round,” she told him and finished off her drink, setting the glass on the bar.

While he ordered the drinks, she gave Meg their signal. Ruby watched her sister slip out the front to go to their agreed meeting place. Laying her hand on his leg, she rubbed his thigh, knowing most men almost purred when she touched them. “My, oh my, you are certainly a big man. I wonder what the rest of you looks like?”

He grinned and clinked his drink glass against hers. “I’d be more than happy to show you, miss.”

“I just bet you would,” she said. This was the dangerous part. The part where she had to make certain he would follow her out to the alley, or she’d have lost her opportunity.

BOOK: Deadly
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