Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hard Heads (prequel)

Howdy, folks. 

Been a crazy week over here. I have to say, this book thing has been very exciting, very fun, and also very stressful. So many details to attend to. My "to do" list is very, very long. 

I'm going to ask you all to do me a favor. Two favors, really, if you don't mind. 

One is to give FDM a vote over at Top Web Fiction when you think about it. The votes go away after a week, so in order to stay on the top list, one has to have votes coming in fairly frequently. The link is there if you scroll down on the right sidebar. 

The other is if you enjoy reading FDM...even if you aren't interested in buying the book but you still like to read it on the site...would you consider writing me a few words of review over at Amazon? Granted, the reviews do carry a bit more weight if you are a buyer at Amazon, but even if you're not, people vetting the story are only going to help me out. I don't care if you're a buyer or a blog visitor, what I need more than anything are a few words here and there from folks who enjoy the story, regardless of how they read it. I'd be much obliged for that. 

Thanks for your support!

“Aunt Gennie! Where are you? Aunt Gennie!”

Genevieve Lynch hurried down the stairs, sudden worry quickening her steps when she heard the shrill quality of Fiona’s voice from down below. The boys and men that worked at her husband’s mail station could be a bit of a handful at times, and Gennie instantly knew something bad had sent her niece dashing frantically into the house calling for her.  “Fiona? What’s...?”

“It’s Saint.” Fiona stood at the bottom of the stairwell, gripping the curved monkey tail of the bannister with white knuckles. Her face was flushed, worried. “He’s unconscious in the parlor!”

“What? Good heavens!” A surge of fear went through her and she grabbed the younger woman’s shoulder with a palsied hand. “What happened? Is Mr. Hungerford still here?”

Fiona nodded, hurrying after her as she headed down the hallway. “He’s in the parlor with him. Luis says his horse head-butted him.”

Gennie turned into the parlor and strode as quickly as she could manage to the sofa, where her young stagecoach driver sprawled out cold, a ruddy and darkening lump on his forehead. “Oh, Peter.” She bit her lip, turning to the circuit farrier who knelt beside him. “Mr. Hungerford...what happned?” Her heart surged in her chest as she swept Peter’s disheveled forelock back, her hand shaking more than usual. Of all the crew, she supposed Peter Bari might have been her favorite. There was a fire in him that reminded her of when she was young, when Erastus was a swaggering, handsome, southern rake. She considered all of the crew “her boys”, and she loved each of them, but Peter was a young Erastus born on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line. She realized she was probably far fonder of him than was seemly. And if Erastus ever finds out I think that, he’d be apoplectic. “How long has he been like this?”

“A few minutes.” Mr. Hungerford lifted one of Peter’s eyelids with his thumb. “Longer than I would like, and that’s the dinkum oil.” He briskly slapped Saint’s stubbled cheek with his fingers. “C’mon, mate, rise and shine. Jersey was acting up and tossed her head right into his face. Knocked him cold and sent him into the dirt. He fell off his horse and landed hard. I sent Luis for the Doc and some ice.” He was arranging throw pillows underneath Saint’s shoulders and neck and loosening his clothing. “ really need to open your eyes, mate. This isn’t good.”

Fiona was bringing in a basin of cool water. “You two were quarreling again.” She said, her tone accusing. “I could hear you from the kitchen.”

Mr. Hungerford did a double take. “Now, Miss Fee, I didn’t do this, love.”

She raised an eyebrow and her gaze met Gennie’s. Gennie frowned and looked expectantly at the farrier.

“ Struth, Missus Lynch...I didn't’ lay a hand on him.”

“Need I remind you, Mister Hungerford...” she said, giving him a stern look. “That I had to step in and defend you both to Mister Lynch after that last row you had that left you both injured in Sheriff Holt’s jail? That it was necessary does not please me.”

“I realize that.” Embarrassed color bloomed in Mr. Hungerford’s cheeks. “And I swear to you Bari and I weren’t fighting.”

Gennie sat down on the edge of the sofa beside Peter, fighting her worry down where she could control it. She wrung out a rag and pressed it tenderly to his bruised forehead.

His lips moved, his voice whispered and slurred. “Testa di cazzo...”

Gennie’s shoulders sagged and she shot Fiona a hopeless look.

Fiona’s mouth dropped open. “Did he just say...”

“Mister Bari.” Gennie said quickly, giving his shoulder a barely-perceptible shake. He’s lying here insensible and the first thing out of his mouth is a vulgar insult aimed at Mister Hungerford. Charming.  “Peter. Wake up, dear.” How very like my husband. “Why was his horse...’acting up’, Mister Hungerford?”

The farrier leaned back on his heels and roached his hand through his unruly hair. “Jersey’s got a habit of tossing her head, mum, you know that.”

“I do know that. I also know Mr. Bari’s extremely good with her and she hardly does it anymore.”

“He was distracted.”

Fiona handed Gennie another cool rag. “I suppose he was, what with all the quarreling going on out there,” she quipped dryly.

Mr. Hungerford scowled, shaking his head. Clearly, he recognized a no-win situation when he encountered one. “Swagman was agitated as well. Any anyways, I’m not responsible for his carelessness or his horse’s habits.” He grumbled, peeking under Saint’s eyelids again.

Saint groaned and turned his head away from Mr. Hungerford’s prodding hands. “Vaffancu...” the words died on his lips as his eyelids fluttered open and he saw her. “Missus Lynch?” His brown eyes focused on her face and he had the good sense to look embarrassed. “Sorry...I...what happened?”

Gennie deflated with relief at seeing him open his eyes and speak. She gave him a tight, exasperated smile, exhaling hard. “Miss Jersey apparently decided she didn’t want to hear you and Mr. Hungerford quarreling any more than the rest of us do.”


Katrie said...

::giggles:: that was the perfect pairing to go with the little story about the horses talking!! :D I had wondered what happened then. (I always think of those types of things when I'm reading the current story, but not when asked "what else would you like to see?") :-p :-D

Poor Saint... :)

Regina said...

I thought you all might enjoy that after hearing the horses "talk" about it in the Christmas special. Glad you did!