This brand-new Rogue Lawman short-story should be up later in the day at Amazon for Kindle. Probably not until next week at Barnes & Noble for Nook. But here's a sneak peek from Mean Pete!
THE LONELY WIDOW
“YOU’RE DEAD MEAT, PARTNER!”
Gideon Hawk’s pistols roared.
Boom! Boom! Boom-Boom!
“And you ain’t even a very good cut.”
Hawk turned to the naked whore curled into a ball, arms over her head, screaming beside the dead man, whose named had been Bobcat Jack, lying with his eyes open on the bloody sheets.
He pinched his hat brim to the girl. “I do apologize, Miss, but you oughta choose your customers more wisely.”
Hawk left the room through the door he’d kicked in and walked downstairs to find the bartender glowering at him behind the bar and a five-gallon jar of pickled eggs.
There were only two other customers sitting in the afternoon shadows--two aging Mexican cowpunchers who both very carefully displayed their empty hands atop the table between them. Hawk glanced into the back bar mirror, pleased that the Mexicans kept their hands on the table even when he gave his back to them.
As Hawk used a wooden tongs to pluck a pickled egg out of the jar, he glanced at the bartender, a round fat man with hair tufting from his ears and nostrils.
“Where’s the others?” Hawk asked.
Hawk stared at the barman with barely bridled patience and spoke quietly, as though he were dealing with a moron. “There were five in the group that ran that stage off the cliff west of Socorro. Two women and two children on it. The gang headed this way with a Wells Fargo strongbox. The side of bad beef I left upstairs was Bobcat Jack. He was their leader. I’m going to ask you one more time where the others went.”
The bartender was sweating. “I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about, mister. That man upstairs--he rode in here alone, and--”
Hawk looked up to see the girl he’d just left howling in the room with the dead man now standing on the balcony over the bar. She’d thrown a sheer wrap around her shoulders. It hung loose, exposing most of her. Her hair was down. Her eyes looked haunted. “There were five, all right. They left that mean bastard to get his sap bled off, and they were gonna meet up west of here somewhere. They’d didn’t say where exactly.”
Hawk pinched his hat brim to the girl, bit off half the egg in his hand, and chewed. He looked at the bartender. “What do I owe you?”
The sweating bartender shook his head, lifted a soft hand. “On the house.”
Hawk pinched the flat brim of his black, low-crowned hat at the girl and turned toward the batwing doors.
Behind and above him, the girl said, “You that one they call the Rogue Lawman?”
Hawk turned to her. He didn’t say anything.
“Sorry about your son...your wife,” the girl said.
Hawk’s green eyes were typically grave beneath his hat, lips forming a knife slash beneath his thick, black mustache. The girl turned away and walked back into the room with the dead man in it.
Hawk stuffed the rest of the egg into his mouth, and, chewing, continued to the batwings. The two old Mexicans followed him with their eyes. As he pushed out through the batwings to the big grulla mustang waiting at the hitchrack outside, the Mexicans crossed themselves and muttered.