Longarm and the Wolf Women

BOOK: Longarm and the Wolf Women
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Table of Contents
 
 
Sudden Chaos
As the five gents sprang to their feet, clawing iron, Longarm slammed his shot glass down on the bar and reached for the Winchester. He rammed a shell into the breech. “Hold on—federal law!”
The words had about as much effect on the hard cases as spit would have on a prairie twister.
They were all shouting now, drawing iron, aiming at the back of the room, where the black-haired gent was flopping around on the floor like a landed fish and the marshal was giving the table a final toss to his left.
A bull-necked, red-haired gent seemed to have the drop on the local badge-toter. Longarm snapped his rifle to his shoulder, aimed, and fired . . .
DON'T MISS THESE ALL-ACTION WESTERN SERIES FROM THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
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 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.
 
BUSHWHACKERS by B. J. Lanagan
An action-packed series by the creators of Longarm! The rousing adventures of the most brutal gang of cutthroats ever assembled—Quantrill's Raiders.
 
DIAMONDBACK by Guy Brewer
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
Meet J.T. Law: the most relentless—and dangerous—man-hunter in all Texas. Where sheriffs and posses fail, he's the best man to bring in the most vicious outlaws—for a price.
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
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.
 
LONGARM AND THE WOLF WOMEN
 
A Jove Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Jove edition / April 2007
 
Copyright © 2007 by The Berkley Publishing Group.
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
eISBN : 978-0-515-14284-6
 
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Jove Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
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The “J” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 

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Chapter 1
“What kind of woman would use her body to lure a man to his death?” asked the Diamondback grocer, Mike Baron.
He squatted beside a small coffee fire with two of his fellow townsmen and the young deputy U.S. marshal, Johnny Parsons. The men made up a posse tracking savage killers. “I mean, that just ain't right,” Baron continued. “It's takin' . . . takin' . . .”
Baron cast his eyes about the coffee fire before him, as though searching for the right words.
“Unfair advantage?” the chubby Dutch harness maker, Jan Behunek, finished for him as he touched a smoldering stick to a freshly rolled cigarette.
“Yeah, that's what it is.” Baron nodded vigorously. “It ain't right for a woman to hold a man's natural desires against him. No, sir. Those women need to be locked up for a good long time!”
“Hang 'em, I say,” said Ned Miller, the livery barn owner and oldest member of the posse. “Right along with their old man. Just as soon as we catch 'em. What's good enough for the sire is good enough for his fillies!”
Miller turned to the red-haired, pug-nosed federal lawman, Johnny Parsons, who'd been sent to the little town of Diamondback in northern Colorado to corral the kill-crazy mountain man, Magnus Magnusson, and the mountain man's equally crazy, albeit beautiful, daughters. They'd been on the threesome's trail for two days, following the Diamondback River through the long, serpentine gorge of Diamondback Canyon.
Parsons had secured the help of the three men because they'd found the bodies of the three soldiers Magnusson had slain last week, when they were heading back to Diamondback after a hunting trip, and could lead Parsons through the maze-like canyon to the site of the killings. One of the soldiers had lived a few hours after the townsmen found him, and had told a frightening story.
Now, just after noon of a warm spring day in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, they'd stopped to boil coffee and to water their horses in the Diamondback River.
“What do you say, Deputy?” Miller asked. “You don't see any point in wastin' time haulin' that tribe in for a court trial, do you? They're cold-blooded killers! We seen what they done with our own eyes!”
Deputy U.S. Marshal Parsons held one of his matching, pearl-gripped .45s to his left ear as he slowly turned the cylinder, listening intently to each click. When he'd heard each of the six, satisfactory clicks, he lowered the revolver, twirled the gun in his right hand, and ran his left forefinger through his thin, red mustache, as if making sure it was still there.
“It don't matter, Mr. Miller.” The young lawman looked across the fire at the livery owner, his one slightly crossed eye spoiling the authoritative stare he always strained for. “The law says we bring that gentleman and his two daughters to justice, and that's exactly what I aim to do. My boss, Marshal Billy Vail, wouldn't have it any other way, and being I'm a by-the-book lawman myself—and the most decorated deputy in Marshal Vail's stable—I wouldn't, either.”
Behunek cast the young lawman a dubious look. “Most decorated badge-toter in Vail's stable, you say?”
“That's right.”
“What about that one they call Longarm?” said Baron, staring skeptically at the young man over the rim of his speckled blue cup. “I thought he was the most decorated.”
“Nah, he's just the biggest braggart,” scoffed Parsons, giving his six-shooter another twirl, then dropping it smoothly into the hand-tooled holster on his right hip. “Old and washed up, if you ask me. Like an old dog. More interested in gettin' his ashes hauled than fightin' criminals anymore. That's why Marshal Vail sent me up here, 'stead of him.”
“Sounds like you don't got much respect for ole Longarm,” observed Miller, leaning back against a log, his Spencer carbine across his thighs. “But you sure dress like him. You got the Prince Albert coat and the tobacco-colored hat. Even wear the same kind of mustache, though yours ain't quite as full as ole Longarm's.”
The others chuckled. Parsons's pale cheeks colored as he pinched his mustache repeatedly between his thumb and index finger. “How the hell would
you
know if his mustache is any
fuller
than mine?”
“He come through Diamondback a few months ago, lookin' for mail robbers,” said Miller, grinning at the deputy's obvious indignation.
“Why, lookee there,” Behunek said, staring at the young lawman's feet. “I never noticed it before, but he's even wearin' low-heeled cavalry boots—just like I seen ole Longarm wear!”
The others laughed mockingly, throwing their heads back on their shoulders, their guffaws drowning out the murmur of the river south of their coffee fire, beyond a small aspen copse where their horses foraged.
Parsons glared at each man in turn, his slender jaw set, face nearly the same rust red as his hair and mustache. Slowly, fuming, he gained his feet and set his hands on the pearl grips of his twin .45s.
“I believe we've taken a long enough break, gentleman,” he intoned, nostrils flaring, enunciating each word clearly. “If you think you can haul your lazy asses up, we'd best get moving. I'd like to reach the site of the mountain man's last killing before sundown.”
“Hey, look at that,” chuckled Behunek. “He's a good three, four inches shorter than ole Longarm, too!”
As the others roared, Parsons turned and began striding swiftly toward the horses. He was only ten yards away when he stopped suddenly, wheeled back toward the group still seated around the fire, and clawed his right pistol from his hip.
Crouching, he held the pistol just above the tied-down holster, the barrel aimed at the group.
“Tarnation!” Miller cried, dropping his coffee cup.
The exclamation hadn't died on Miller's lips before Parson's pistol barked, spouting smoke and fire, the .45 slug ripping Miller's floppy-brimmed black hat from his head.
As the hat flew up and back, Parsons's pistol spoke twice more in quick succession, tearing off Behunek's plain cream Stetson and then Baron's ancient, leather-billed Union forage cap. The hats settled in the brush a good ten yards behind the men, like oversized autumn leaves, one after another, a round, ragged hole adorning each.
The three townsmen stared agape at Parsons, who gave a self-satisfied grin through the wafting powder smoke. He twirled the .45 and dropped it in his holster.
“Could Longarm do
that
?”
Parsons snorted, wheeled, and continued walking toward the horses.
Behind him, the three bareheaded townsmen shared wary glances.
An hour later, the four-man posse rounded a snag of boulders strewn about the base of the canyon wall to their right. As they were about to enter a broad meadow stretching between the rocky ridge and the Diamondback River, Deputy Johnny Parsons jerked back on the reins of the long-legged zebra dun he'd acquired from Miller's livery barn in town.
BOOK: Longarm and the Wolf Women
6.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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