|Posted by tjmanderino on March 21, 2012 at 12:35 AM|
Each Tuesday, I will have an excerpt from one of my novels here.
Since I am currently in edits for the third in the President’sOrders series, I figure I’ll start with an excerpt from the first in the series, False Notes.
© Tara Manderino, 2010. All rights reserved.
In late summer 1874, Simon Barr, one of the premiere agentsof the newly evolving US Secret Service, arrives in Hobart, Oklahoma Territory,to meet his partner, Luke Hayden, and begin investigating a large scalecounterfeiting operation. Shortly after arriving, Simon meets the lovelyKirsten Bentzer, only to learn she has ties to his two chief suspects. Hisattraction to Kirsten catches him off guard and wars with his sense of duty.Surely, she can’t be innocent, no matter how much he wishes it were so.
~*~ ~*~ ~*~~*~ ~*~~*~~*~ ~*~ ~*~~*~ ~*~ ~*~
In the semi-darkness, Simon couldn’t makeout the figures, but there seemed to be plenty of action behind the saloondoors. He stood on alert, straining to hear the words. Deciding he would haveto move closer, he stayed in the shadows of the buildings, and steadily madehis way to the voices. No matter how interesting the youth or how much hewanted to pursue that mystery, he couldn’t lose sight of why he was in town—tocheck on Gregory Weldon and follow the trail of counterfeit money that seemedto surface in Hobart.
“Told you before, you whelp, nomatter how much money you bring to the table, it’s not going to be enough. Now,scat.”
“I need that information, Mr.Weldon.”
Simon’s brows snapped together.He knew that husky voice. Great, they were tangled together, the youth and hisnumber one suspect. The youth’s bravado made Simon break out in a sweat. He, oras he strongly suspected, she, was no match for the man confronting her.Weldon’s voice, if that’s who was speaking, was deep and rough, sounding as ifit belonged to a much older man.
“I told you I would pay anythingfor it.” Now Simon’s ears pricked up for an entirely different reason. Thosewere the words of a desperate person. Perhaps they really were tied together!That’s what he was here to find out. He pushed away any preconceived notion hemight have had that the youth was innocent. He knew that neither age nor genderwould have anything to do with a person’s acts.
Not a full moment later, therewas a scuffle, and then the youth was practically thrust through the saloondoors. He stumbled, but before he couldrecover his balance, Simon came up behind him from the shadows and covered hismouth, grabbed him by the arm, and dragged him around the side of the building.The youth struggled to gain foothold on the walk.
Definitely a female,Simon thought, grinning to himself. No self respecting boy would fight thatway. He locked one of his arms around both of hers, just below her elbows tostill her. She still tried to kick him, but with his feet braced wide, she hada difficult time finding a target. “Hold still,” he whispered into her ear whenit was close enough. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
She slowed her thrashing butstill struggled against him. When he made no untoward move, she stilled,looking at him warily from the corner of her eye. He could hardly blame her for that.
“I overheard you out there, and I have some questions.” He spoke softly so that his voice wouldn’t carry. She pulled against him, but he held her easily. “It sounds as if you’re in trouble. Are you?” When she made noresponse, he gave her a little shake. “Are you?”
Finally, she shrugged her shoulders.
He bit back a grin. Stubborn thing. “Perhaps we can help each other out.”
She stiffened in his arms, then started to thrash about, nearly slipping through his hands. He tightened his grip and brought her back hard against his chest. “Just listen before you make any decision.” There was no response. “Will you do that much?”
At least he got a very reluctantnod that time.
“Fine. Now, I’m going to remove my hand, but I expect you not to scream. Got it?” Again, a hesitant nod. “Now you can lead me somewhere where we can talk.”
Slowly, he removed his hand andshe looked at him warily, but she didn’t scream.
“How do you know I won’t lead you somewhere you can be killed?” her voice whispered in the dark.
Simon lowered his hands. There was always that possibility. “I trust you,” he said. “All I want is to talk,and from something you said, I think you can help me. We can help each other,” he amended at her cautious look.
He hadn’t been an operative forthis many years and not learned to be aware of his surroundings, yet there didn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary as she led him down the alley he had pulled them into. Still, he had one hand close to the gun in his belt.