Sneak Peek From The First Chapter:
The girl was the only one in the long, dingy saloon outfitted with a dozen or so tables and rickety chairs. She rose from the piano bench and, keeping her oblique, dark gaze on Hawk, strolled behind the bar. She wasn’t wearing shoes. The feather earrings jostled as she moved.
She stopped about halfway down the bar and leaned forward on her elbows, giving Hawk a good look at her cleavage, and said, “Drink?”
Hawk glanced around once more, at the wooden staircase rising at the rear of the room, just beyond the piano. There was a colorfully woven rug at the foot of it, an unlit bracket lamp hanging on the wall over the rug. Above the lamp was the snarling head of a mountain lion.
Hawk glanced at the low ceiling through which the voices continued to emanate--one high and shrill, the other low and even.
“That him up there?”
“Him,” the girl said, frowning curiously and thoughtfully tapping her right index finger against her lower lip. “Hmmmm. By ‘him’ do you mean the owner of that horse out there?”
She may have looked half-Apache but she did not speak in the flat tones of most Apaches annunciating English. This girl’s English was easy and lilting though touched with a very slight Spanish accent.
Hawk stared at her without expression on his severe-featured, mustached face that betrayed his own mixed bloodline. His father had been a Ute, his mother a Scandinavian immigrant. It was the jade of her eyes that made his own such a contrast to his otherwise aboriginal appearance with beak-like nose and jutting, dimpled chin. Unlike most Indians, however, Hawk’s sideburns were thick, and his brushy mustache drooped toward his mouth corners. He kept his dark-brown hair closely cropped.
The girl’s mocking half-smile faded, and she blinked once slowly as she said, “Doc’s with him. Diggin’ that bullet out of him. Yours, I take it?”
A shrill cry came hurling down the stairs: “Ow! Oh, Christ--that hurt like hell, you old devil!”
The low voice said something Hawk couldn’t make out.
The shrill voice said, “Bullshit, you take it easy with that thing or I’ll...”
The shrill voice trailed off as the other, lower voice said something in calming, reassuring tones.
The girl said, “You’d swear it was the first time he’d been shot.”
Hawk moved into the room, loosened the string tie around his neck, and set his rifle down on the table nearest the batwings. “Doesn’t sound like I’ll be goin’ anywhere till that bullet’s out of him. I’ll take that drink if the offer’s still good.”
“Offer’s good if your money’s good.”
Hawk kicked out a chair, dug a coin out of his pants pocket, and flipped it off his thumb. It flashed in the window light as it arced toward the girl, who snatched it out of the air with one practiced hand.
She looked at the coin and arched a brow. “For that, you can have a drink, and”--her cheeks dimpled as she offered a lusty smile--“pretty much anything else in here that isn’t nailed down.”