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Authors: Linda Jacobs

Lake of Fire

BOOK: Lake of Fire
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Previous accolades for the Yellowstone series
from the WILLA Award Winning Author,
Linda Jacobs:

“SUMMER OF FIRE is at once a beautiful and disturbing voyage through the type of hell that only firefighters understand. Human, brutal, wrenching. Clare Chance is as genuine a character as they come — brave, vulnerable, well-trained and thrown by her own act of escape into a forested hell. Beautifully crafted and shudderingly real.”

—NY Times Bestselling author, John J. Nance

“Linda Jacobs will keep your heart pounding as she describes the fires that tried to destroy Yellowstone in 1988 and the work that was done by the brave men and women who fought this fierce dragon.”

—Romance Junkies

“Linda Jacobs has produced a gripping novel about one of the most electrifying events in the annals of American wildfires — the great Yellowstone fires of 1988. Through her fictional characters, Jacobs has captured the essence of the emotional coaster, high drama and the outstanding performance of America’s finest wild land fire fighters. She has done her homework well and the setting is completely accurate. This is a compelling work and I had difficulty putting it down.”

—Bob Barbee, Yellowstone Superintendent 1983-1994

“RAIN OF FIRE by Linda Jacobs is exciting, poignant, and puts you on the edge of your seat, which is why
it is my honor to award RAIN OF FIRE
a Perfect 10
. Run out and pick up your copies of RAIN OF FIRE and SUMMER OF FIRE today; you won’t be disappointed.”

—Romance Reviews Today

“In RAIN OF FIRE, Linda Jacobs has created a thrilling vision of what it’s like to be in the crater of an active volcano. Fast-paced, yet with touchingly human characters, RAIN OF FIRE is a page-turner of the first magnitude.”

—Robert Vaughan, NY Times Bestselling Author

“With RAIN OF FIRE, Linda Jacobs is in the zone. The book is a grabber for sure — I could hardly put it down. Jacobs has a gift for weaving story and reality, taking the improbable and moving it to the realm of the possible.”

—Bob Barbee, Yellowstone Superintendent 1983-1994

****FOUR STARS!
“Jacobs masterfully combines scientific knowledge and suspense as expert scientists unite to predict the sometimes inexplicable forces of nature.”

—RT BOOK Reviews

“RAIN OF FIRE is an exciting thriller that grips the audience with the tremors that threaten Yellowstone at a time when there seems to be an increase of major natural disasters. The story line is action-packed but driven by the rivalry between Hollis and Kyle in which he behaves totally unprofessional while she is absolutely dedicated. The romantic triangle is deftly handled, but the tale is more a cautionary thriller warning people about the potential of natural disaster in a place where most people fail to realize the danger.”

—H. Klausner, Independent Reviewer

“LAKE OF FIRE is bold and brawling — and touchingly human.”

—Spur Award Winner and New York Times
bestselling author, Robert Vaughan

DEDICATION:

To the late Professor Venkatesh Srinivas Kulkarni of
Rice University, winner of the 1984 American Book Award,
consummate teacher, and citizen of the world
.

And always, to Richard
.

Published 2007 by Medallion Press, Inc.

The MEDALLION PRESS LOGO
is a registered tradmark of Medallion Press, Inc.

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment from this “stripped book.”

Copyright © 2007 by Linda Jacobs
Cover Illustration by Adam Mock

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.

Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Typeset in Adobe Caslon Pro
Printed in the United States of America
10-digit ISBN: 1-9338362-1-0
13-digit ISBN: 978-1933836-21-8

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
First Edition

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

One summer, I visited the Yellowstone Lake Hotel and picked up a copy of the book
Plain to Fancy, the Story of the Lake Hotel
, by Barbara Dittl and Joanne Mallmann. The rest is history – I was so fascinated by the place and its story that I felt compelled to create a fictional cast of characters to come for a visit in the year 1900. I have altered history by eliminating the real E.C. Waters, who lived in a house next to the Lake Hotel and ran a steamboat concession on Yellowstone Lake from 1889 through 1907, replacing him with my character of Hank Falls. The Northern Pacific Railroad did attempt to sell the Lake Hotel around the turn of the twentieth century – my rival factions are fictional.

In addition, the renovations to the Lake Hotel, adding the wonderful porches with Ionic columns and some additional rooms, did not take place until 1903-04 – the hotel in my story was plainer, but still a fabulous place to while away the time at Yellowstone Lake.

Other books that helped me understand the history of the early years of the park:
For Everything there is a Season
– Frank Craighead, Falcon Press,
Old Yellowstone Days
– edited by Paul Schullery, University Press of Colorado, and
F. Jay Haynes, Photographer
, Montana Historical Society. On the Nez Perce and the War of 1877:
Soun Tetoken
, Kenneth Thomasma, Grandview Publishing Co., and
Following the Nez Perce Trail
, Cheryl Wilfong, Oregon State University Press.

Thanks to my husband Richard Jacobs for consulting on firearms and other details, and to Dr. Lee Whittlesley, of the Yellowstone archives, for showing me around on my several visits there. Thanks to my agent Susan Schulman, my publisher Medallion Press, and to the following for giving critical input on all or part of the manuscript: Deborah Bedford, Carolyn Lampman, Elizabeth Engstrom, Kathleen O’Neal Gear, Sarah Lazin, and my Rice University writer’s group — Marjorie Arsht, Kathryn Brown, Judith Finkel, Bob Hargrove, Elizabeth Hueben, Karen Meinardus, the late Joan Romans, Jeff Theall, and Madeline Westbrook.

CHAPTER ONE
JUNE 20, 1900

A
bove a scarf of morning mist, the Grand Teton blazed in a rose glow that would not touch the valley floor for another half hour. Though the snowcapped peak towered above Jackson’s Hole, it looked so sharp and close to Laura Fielding she thought she might brush the snow from a wind-sculpted cornice.

The Snake River’s willowed bottomland and the jagged mountains were like nothing she knew from life in Chicago. If she were home at Fielding House, she’d be basking before a banked fire.

Laura wrapped her coat closer and stepped away from the red-painted coach into snow-muffled silence. In last night’s sudden storm, swirling darkness had forced the driver to give up searching for the stage station. As the only passenger left on the Yellowstone run, she had passed a restless night on hard-sprung seats, wondering if she’d been wrong to defy her father and travel alone.

With rising light revealing the ramparts, she breathed deeply and exhaled a little cloud. Beneath a nearby cottonwood, a moose rubbed antlers in velvet against bark. Behind him, next to a white-flocked spruce, three more of the stately animals nosed aside the snow to reveal spring shoots.

Postcard perfection, until a snort from the nearest moose signaled alert. The others raised their heads. In the same instant, Laura detected the drumming of horses’ hooves. Perhaps it was the stage scouts, searching at first light for the overdue coach, but she could not see through the snow-draped brush.

She looked to the high driver’s seat. Angus Spiner, a mustachioed man in the khaki duster of the stage line, threw off his snowy poncho and reached for his Smith & Wesson lever-action shotgun.

Laura dropped to her knees behind a willow and peeped through thick spring foliage. When the hoofbeats grew louder, the tethered team of four stage horses surged in restless motion.

Two men rode into the clearing. The lead horseman reined in his palomino and shifted his eyes to his stocky partner astride a handsome chestnut. Bandana masks over both men’s faces sent a clutch through Laura’s gut.

Without a word, the men on horseback snapped their rifles up.

Angus raised his weapon; too late, for a pair of sharp cracks echoed over the snowy plain.

He tumbled from the high seat, falling … in
macabre slow motion to land with a thud. Laura suppressed a gasp.

Not thirty feet away, Angus lay facedown, his hand limp on his gun stock. A red stain spread from beneath his coat; another bloomed in the snow beside his head.

Bile rose, burning Laura’s throat. In her twentysix sheltered years in the city, she’d never seen anything like this.

The leader called, “Dismount!” in military style and swung off his palomino. He was very tall, with dirty blond hair straggling over the collar of his black duster. Though his mask kept her from getting a good look at his narrow face, his eyes were dark as coals.

His partner obeyed, sliding to the ground. He bore a hungry look, but his protruding stomach, along with the well-fed look of his horse, told her he didn’t want for food. His plaid cloth coat looked unsuitable for the cold Wyoming morning.

From her hiding place, Laura tried to memorize what the men looked like.

The tall outlaw approached the coach, rifle at hand. Searching for passengers, no doubt, and after what happened to Angus, she suspected she knew the fate of anyone they might find. It was only a matter of time before they detected her tracks in the snow.

Off to her left, a twig snapped. It must be one of the moose; she preferred their company to coldblooded killers. Then another noise, this one closer, like a boot crushing snow.

In a blur of motion, the blond leader whirled and shot toward the sound. The ball buried itself in the trunk of a cottonwood, three feet from her. She crabbed sideways toward a narrow ravine, where a stream ran beneath a skim of spring ice. Rolling down, she pressed herself into the snow.

Silence reigned in the copse. From where Laura lay beneath the spicy-smelling cottonwoods, she could see the untracked perfection of the far creek bank.

How she wished she had never heard her father utter the word “Yellowstone.” That she had not changed her plans without his knowing. Not taken the southern stage route rather than the Northern Pacific direct to the park.

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