Authors: Lori Handeland
The Rock Creek Six
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Copyright 2001, 2011 by Lori Handeland. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
Cover art by Elizabeth Wallace
eBook design by eBook Prep
The Rock Creek Six Series
in series order
now available in eBook format
For Linda Jones, who,
with grace and tact,
made writing a series easier
than writing alone.
Mary McKendrick had reached the end of her tether, which did not happen often. She prided herself on managing everything, even the unmanageable. But after days spent on a lurching stage to Dallas, then hours slogging through the mud of what was supposed to be a dusty town and still not finding the den of iniquity she searched for, her much-admired patience had gone the way of the whistling Texas wind.
In Rock Creek, Texas, Mary was the schoolteacher. Before she'd come to Rock Creek, she'd first been a schoolteacher outside of Richmond, Virginia, until the damn Yankees burned the place down. Then she'd gone on to teach in Bittersweet, Missouri. Bloody Jayhawkers burned that place too. She was in Dallas today because she did not plan to be run off another job in this lifetime.
"Any Time. Any Time," she muttered as she stomped down another boardwalk. "You'd think I could find one saloon named
Suddenly, as if in answer to an unspoken prayer, there it was—a saloon named Any Time. Did that mean the place was open day and night?
Surely there were rules about such things, even in Dallas. What did it matter? As long as the saloon was open now—and from the sounds of the music, the laughter, and the clinking of glass, it was—she needed to get in there and do what she'd come here to do.
Buy herself a man.
And not just any man, but Reese—gun for hire. They said he was the best. They said he always got the job done. They said... Well, they said a lot of things, but who were
anyway, and was any of what they said true? Mary hoped so, because she needed a man like Reese, even though men like him were the one thing that frightened her. But Mary Margaret McKendrick was not a woman to let fear keep her from doing what must be done.
So she pushed through the swinging doors and stepped into her very first saloon.
The smell hit her first—smoke and whiskey and too many bodies. The next thing she noticed was a sudden silence—no talking, no clinking glasses, no music—because everyone stared at her.