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Authors: Tabor Evans

Tags: #Fiction, #Historical, #Westerns

Longarm and the War Clouds

BOOK: Longarm and the War Clouds
9.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Her Aim Is True . . .

The man was slowly loosening his hold on the Colt .45 in his right hand. He was blinking rapidly and crossing his eyes slightly as he stared up, aghast, at the horn handle of the thick bowie knife protruding from the dead middle of his forehead. Blood oozed from the deep cut made by the knife blade driven into his skull and shone darkly in the morning light pushing through the saloon's front windows.

He fell straight back as though all his bones had turned to jelly, then slammed onto the table behind him with a loud, crunching thud.

Lowering his Colt, Longarm turned to rake his gaze across War Cloud to Magpie, still crouched about five feet back in the same position as when she'd whipped the savage blade out of its scabbard and sent it careening into the man's head . . .


THE GUNSMITH by J. R. Roberts

Clint Adams was a legend among lawmen, outlaws, and ladies. They called him . . . the Gunsmith.

LONGARM by Tabor Evans

The popular long-running series about Deputy U.S. Marshal Custis Long—his life, his loves, his fight for justice.

SLOCUM by Jake Logan

Today's longest-running action Western. John Slocum rides a deadly trail of hot blood and cold steel.


An action-packed series by the creators of Longarm! The rousing adventures of the most brutal gang of cutthroats ever assembled—Quantrill's Raiders.


Dex Yancey is Diamondback, a Southern gentleman turned con man when his brother cheats him out of the family fortune. Ladies love him. Gamblers hate him. But nobody pulls one over on Dex . . .

WILDGUN by Jack Hanson

The blazing adventures of mountain man Will Barlow—from the creators of Longarm!

TEXAS TRACKER by Tom Calhoun

J.T. Law: the most relentless—and dangerous—manhunter in all Texas. Where sheriffs and posses fail, he's the best man to bring in the most vicious outlaws—for a price.Tabor Evans.


Published by the Penguin Group

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A Jove Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2013 by Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for having an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

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For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC,

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ISBN: 978-0-515-15380-4

eBook ISBN: 978-1-101-61015-2


Jove mass-market edition / December 2013

Cover illustration by Milo Sinovcic.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

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 for this “stripped book.”


All-Action Western Series

Title Page


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 1

“I don't think there's anything quite as grand as a good ball—wouldn't you agree, Custis?” asked Cynthia Larimer.

“Took the words right out of my mouth, little lady,” agreed the deputy U.S. marshal known far and wide by friend and foe as Longarm.

Cynthia had come up behind the federal lawman to speak into his ear as he leaned in the doorway of the ballroom in General William Larimer's sprawling, mansard-roofed mansion on Denver's high-toned Sherman Avenue.

The General was considered by most to be Denver's founding father. As impressive as the title was, Longarm admired the man more for being the uncle of Miss Cynthia Larimer, Denver's unofficial, raven-haired, blue-eyed princess. It didn't seem to matter that the twenty-three-year-old Larimer heiress, being a precocious young adventuress with many friends in high places throughout the world, spent most of her free time elsewhere.

And, being rich, she had nothing but free time.

That included art openings in Italy, royal weddings in France, Christmases with counts and countesses in eastern Europe, antique-shopping in London, and, most recently, a celebration at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., for the unveiling of three dinosaurs pieced together from bones found in Maryland.

When Cynthia was in Denver, however, as she was now for the annual summer Governor's Ball hosted by “Uncle Groggy and Aunt May,” as she so quaintly referred to the General and his sweet, gray-headed, slightly doddering wife, Longarm often found himself not uncomfortably locked in the ravishing beauty's gravitational pull.

Cynthia furtively brushed her hand across Longarm's hand as she stood beside him in the ballroom's broad doorway, taking in the thirty or so immaculately attired men and women dancing an energetic waltz being played by an orchestra that Cynthia herself, along with Aunt May and the governor's wife and personal secretary, had chosen from a pool of musicians spread across the country.

The young heiress said just loudly enough for Longarm to hear her above the music and hum of conversation, “I'd like to have something else in my mouth about now, Custis.” She gave him a sly, sidelong glance. “And you know just what I mean.”

The governor's nephew, whose name Longarm had forgotten ten seconds after he'd been introduced to the lad by the General, was standing about four feet ahead of Longarm and Cynthia, to their left. He just then turned to frown over his shoulder at the pair. The nephew's tiny, round, gold-framed spectacles glinted in the lights of the shimmering gas jets and the massive, popping hearth.

The pale young man studied the ravishing beauty and the tall lawman with the dark brown longhorn mustache clad in a three-piece tweed suit, and then, apparently not believing his ears, smiled politely at the pair, dipped his chin, and turned his head forward again to continue enjoying the dance.

Longarm felt his cheeks warm with what he assumed was a crimson flush. When he gave Cynthia an admonishing glower, the girl merely looked up over the big lawman's shoulder and winked. She brushed her hand against his once more and rose up on her tiptoes to say huskily into his ear, “Why don't you bribe one of the cab drivers into meeting me at the buggy shed door in a half hour. I'll fetch my cape and freshen up and meet you there.”

“Cynthia, I'm not sure this is the night for . . .”

“I'll be leaving for New York the day after tomorrow, Custis,” she said, beetling her black brows and pooching out her pink lips in a pout. “And since you'll be back to work tomorrow, off on another one of your risky assignments, one of which is bound to get you killed one of these days, we won't see each other again in months. If ever. Maybe not till Christmas, at the earliest.”

She leaned closer against him until their shoulders touched. “I really, really want to have one last night . . . alone . . . with
you, Custis.
Don't you want to have one night alone with

“Well, sure I do, but . . .”

Longarm glanced down at the girl's heaving bosom, which was all but exposed by the low-cut black dress that matched the girl's raven hair and complimented the cobalt blue of her eyes. Diamond earrings dangled to her shoulders, inside the long tresses dropping to the middle of the girl's shapely back.

Her breasts rose and fell . . . rose and fell. He thought he could see her nipples come alive behind her corset.

Longarm glanced around to make sure no one was watching him and the heiress. It would have been a faux pas on a grand scale and of epic proportions if anyone were to learn that a lowly federal employee was making time with the princess of Denver. That would have been like having a broomtail mustang run down out of the desert hills to squirt its foul seed into a Thoroughbred mare from a royal line.

Longarm and Cynthia had to be careful. If anyone should find out that Longarm was any more than her unofficial bodyguard, who occasionally accompanied the heiress to Denver operas and Christmas and Fourth of July parties, the disgrace would be so acute that the Larimer family might very well commit suicide en masse—not to mention run the lowly lawman out of town on a greased rail.

Cynthia seemed to be reading his mind. She brushed her bare shoulder against his and said while looking over the crowd, “Come on, Custis. Surely the famous lawman who runs down owlhoots of the worst stripe daily without batting an eye isn't afraid of a harmless little tryst.”

“Girl, our trysts are neither harmless nor little . . .”

“That's for sure.” She chuckled, turning her head away as though to peruse the sprawling lunch table and crystal punch bowl. “After the last time, I was walking bull-legged for a week!”

She turned to him, brushing the side of her bosom against his arm. “Let's go to your place.”

“My place?”

“Too noisy around here.”

“But how will you get back?”

“We'll have the driver wait. Surely he won't mind if he's well paid.”

“Too dangerous. The driver might let the cat out of the bag.”

“Cab drivers are good at keeping secrets. Especially . . .”

“Yeah, I know,” Longarm growled, smiling at an elderly lady meeting his gaze from several feet to his right. “Especially if they're well paid. All right, if we're going to do this, let's do it.” Just the idea of frolicking with the comely heiress was causing his shorts to grow tight across his crotch.

“I'll inform Aunt May that I'm having one of my headaches and am heading for bed.” She rubbed her breasts against his arm again and flicked a hand across the collar of his black frock coat, as though flicking away lint.

He wished she'd stop doing that before his lust became obvious. He could feel his shorts begin to tent. Besides, he had a feeling the governor's bespectacled son was growing suspicious of the princess of Denver and the rangy, sun-browned lawman she'd invited to the ball and who was now standing rather too closely beside her.

The young man kept glancing furtively over his shoulder, though he might merely be ogling Cynthia's tits. Most every man at the ball had appraised them at least once, Longarm had noted, automatically, odiously jealous. Even the governor himself had asked Cynthia to dance more times than Longarm, who'd only danced with her once, thought proper. She was more than half the old, married fool's age, after all, and despite his station the governor had no more chance nuzzling those firm, round orbs than did an elephant over in Africa.

Longarm watched her walk away from him, admiring the natural sway of her round bottom below the long, cool, inverted V of her exposed back. The girl could make a dress come alive like none other whom Longarm had ever known. The taffeta and silk jostled and swayed in all the right places, driving men crazy with the imagined images of all it concealed.

Cynthia smiled and nodded at all who stepped aside for the ravishing, glittering, black-haired beauty as she made her way over to where Aunt May was sitting with the General, the governor, and the governor's wife. The governor saw her coming well in advance—the old fellow's eyes had probably been raking the crowd for her—and he nearly fell over in his chair when he too hastily stood too far in advance of Cynthia's arrival for his wife not to notice and give him a look.

Longarm chuckled.

When he thought enough time had passed for his own leave-taking not to look suspicious, he took it, giving the General's son, who'd glanced at him again suspiciously, a cordial dip of the chin. The lawman retrieved his hat from one of the pretty, young gals tending the coatroom and headed through the grand foyer and outside into the porte cochere where the drivers of the hansom cabs were smoking, conversing, and sneaking sips from hide-wrapped flasks.

Fifteen minutes later, Longarm was riding up beside his old friend, Siggi Olafsson, who'd been driving hansom cabs around Denver since the railroad had come to town back in the early '70s and Denver had start growing beyond its cow town roots.

Olafsson took a swig from his own flask as he pulled his Percheron along the cinder-paved trail that formed a semicircle around the Larimer's sprawling mansion, the flickering lamplight in the windows dimming the stars over Denver and limning the tops of the trimmed hedges in fluttering gold. It was almost midnight—a balmy midsummer night with the smell of ladies' perfume wafting on a gentle breeze flowing down from the Rockies.

The music from the ballroom danced over the dew-damp grass.

“Who is it this time, Custis?” Olafsson asked.

“Wouldn't you like to know, Siggi?”

Longarm removed his sweat-soaked paper collar with a relieved sigh and tossed it onto the seat. Whoever said that grown men should wear strips of paper tight enough around their necks to look fashionable despite their bulging eyes should be drawn and quartered.

The lawman rubbed his neck, groaning luxuriously.

Olafsson extended his flask. “Have you a sip o' that, Custis. You look like you could use it.”

Longarm accepted the flask and tipped it back. He brought it back down, making a face. “God, that's awful!”

“Well, it ain't your Tom Moore, I'll grant ya,” the middle-aged man said in his Norwegian brogue that wasn't quite as thick as it once was, “but it's all I can afford.”

“I'll buy you a bottle of Tom Moore if you keep your mouth shut about tonight. And my . . . uh . . .
will pad your pockets so you can buy a bottle or two of your own. Maybe have enough left over for the opera.”

Longarm grinned at his old friend, who famously did not care for the opera though he naturally had to work the opera crowds down around Union Station and Sixteenth Street for his clientele.

Olafsson chuffed a caustic laugh. “I'd just like enough leftover to afford one of them doxies at the Black Cat. The prices have gone up over there, you know, since Shackleton started bringing in girls from Kansas City with full sets of teeth. And I hear they can sing.”

“I always said teeth were highly overvalued in a woman,” Longarm said, puffing one of his three-for-a-nickel cheroots. He was raking his gaze across the mansion for outside movement.

“Well, if you're wantin' French lessons, they can even be a liability, Custis.”

The men laughed.

“Shhh—there she is. Pull in tight to the buggy shed.”

“My, so secretive,” jeered the driver, who pulled the Percheron into the shade of the buggy shed near the rear of the Larimers' immaculately groomed grounds. “This ain't the governor's wife, is it?”

Longarm leaped down off the hansom and jogged out to meet the dark-clad figure running toward him. Cynthia wore a hooded cape, which she held closed across her breasts. She did not say anything as Longarm helped her up into the cab's single, leather seat. Olafsson had been in the business enough late nights to know when to look away when he should, and he did so now, puffing his fat stogie and taking another pull from his flask.

Longarm pounded the back wall, and Olafsson turned the cab around and pulled it back onto the trail that skirted the perimeter of the Larimer grounds. The heiress snuggled up tight against Longarm, massaging his thigh with her hand and occasionally lifting her chin to press her silky lips against his neck and his cheek.

She smiled up at him when she realized the effect her warm caress on his thigh was having. She could probably feel his pants growing tight across his crotch.

Longarm held her closely but not too closely, as he saw no reason to torture himself unduly until they arrived at his rented flat on the poor side of Cherry Creek. Longarm wasn't sure why the girl wanted to go there. He supposed she found something erotic about venturing into Denver's more raggedy side secretly, under cover of darkness.

When they reached the large rooming house in the upper story of which his small living quarters lay, Cynthia said, “Does the driver have any idea who I am?”

“I don't think so,” Longarm said, keeping his voice down. He could smell Olafsson's cigar smoke wafting down from his high perch above and behind him and Cynthia. He could also sense the man's lusty, self-satisfied, half-drunk grin. “Even if he did, I know the feller. He can keep a secret.”

“Pay him to wait for me, will you?”

She pulled a black-gloved hand out of the folds of her black wool cape and pressed a coin into his hand. Longarm looked at the gold eagle that shimmered in the starlight.

“Twenty dollars,” he said. “Thanks for not making me feel cheap.”

“Tell him he'll earn another one if he waits for me till dawn.”

Longarm saw that Olafsson had a blanket tucked under the seat. The man was used to spending the night in his cab—especially after parties on Sherman Avenue, no doubt.

Longarm climbed out of the cab and helped Cynthia down. While she hurried into the concealing shadows of the oaks lining the street, Longarm flipped the coin up to Olafsson, who tested it with his teeth and then gave an impressed grunt.

BOOK: Longarm and the War Clouds
9.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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