Hank leaned his chair back, set his feet on the sheriff's desk, and tried not to think of Lilly. Her words persisted. "You're worth it." He could hear her voice as clear as if she were still here. Shrill barks and loud knocks stole his attention. "Now what?" Annoyed by a dog's yipes, he threw open the door. "Shut the dog up." The beautiful, well-dressed woman stepped away from him. Her jade, green eyes flashed alarm. She recovered. Her head went up, her shoulders straightened and her face set with an expression that said he wasn't worth her time.
Summer. Blue skies, swimming pools (or holes), shade trees, and gentle breezes. Love it. I do some of my best thinking under a big oak, sipping some Dr. Pepper, and watching bright white clouds sail across the azure sky. Take some time and enjoy your day.
Here's a snippet. It's a fun story with twists and turns. If you like Hank~you'll like this story.
Lady and the Scamp ~ Chapter 1
Lady Elizabeth Victoria Windsor gripped the seat cushion and hung on as the stagecoach bucked and yawed after another rough patch of road. Ladies of culture and prominence sit straight and proper, she reminded herself. The thought that such ladies wouldn’t be riding a stage alone crossed her mind, but there was nothing she could do about that now.
She also knew ladies wouldn’t be in a coach alone with the two slovenly dressed men. Fortunately, the men wouldn’t know what proper ladies were supposed to do as they were slumped across the seat and snoring louder than a tribe of banshees. They reeked of alcohol and should have been relegated to the boot, but the stage driver had ignored her protestations.
Relief washed over. No one out here would know. None would see through her pretense. She had it down. Act above others. Keep your head up. And never let anyone get the better of you. Yes, she was Lady Elizabeth Victoria Windsor.
She brushed the never-ending dust from her beige traveling skirt. If she’d known the west was so full of dirt, she’d have stayed in Baltimore. Well, if she could have. She pushed the small dog next to her, and the fluffy, white dog with red patches erupted with a series of growls.
“Genevieve Suzette Dubois, hush.”
Ignoring the still grumbling animal, she parted the curtains and gazed out the window. Her heart skipped with excitement as the terrain gave way to dramatic drop-offs and towering mountains. She inhaled deeply. Finally, the air cleared and she drank in the scent of pine and fresh air so pristine, she wondered if she were the first to breathe it in.
One of the drunks snorted.
She threw him a disgruntled glare. At least, she’d breathed in before he had fouled the air. A sigh escaped her tight lips. She hoped this was all worth her bid for a new life. She needed something new. Something that was hers and hers alone.
If only … well, she’d worry about that later. It had been such a long trip. Her muscles ached and her eyelids grew heavy. She was so tired. …
A hard jolt awakened her. Somehow, she’d allowed herself to fall asleep and in the company of those scoundrels across from her. Embarrassed, she wiped the moisture trickling down her chin. The drunken sots had not awakened and a quick glance gave her relief that her items had not been disturbed.
The stagecoach stopped.
She peeked out the window. A small one-street town stretched out in front of her. No carriages. No bricked streets. Only one store amidst a cluster of buildings. Well, what should she have expected with a town named Hickory Stick. She fluffed her skirt, righted her hat, and awaited assistance.
The driver opened the door. “End of the line. You boys wake up.” He turned to her with the slightest of scowls. “You can get out now.”
Elizabeth extended her hand, and then gasped when the driver walked away. “Why of all the rude behavior.” She grabbed her dog and scooted to the edge of the seat. Unsteadily, she stood, bent over, and placed a foot on the step.
Genevieve barked and squirmed to be let go.
“Shush now.” Elizabeth took her hand off the door and tried to muffle the animal though she knew that never stopped the little dog’s nasty retorts.
Genevieve wriggled out of her grasp and jumped down. Off balance, Elizabeth grabbed for the door, slipped, and was left hanging on the side of the stagecoach.
“If you needed help, you should have said so.” The driver put his hands on her waist and set her down.
Embarrassed, she slapped him. “How dare you manhandle me?”
Rubbing his jaw, the driver narrowed his eyes. “Well, Ma’am. Since I am a man, I don’t know any other way I could have handled you.” He pointed toward the jail. “I got your bags and trunk on the boardwalk. But I think you might want to call that little dog back before it gets ate by a rat.”
She raised her hand, but the warning glare he gave her caused her to change her mind about slapping him again. Seems that those in the West had little knowledge of culture and manners. “She is a Papillion from France—”
The driver shook his head as he watched the little dog bark at his horses. “Maybe you ought to send her back there. She’s going to get stomped on.”
“Well, do something. How dare you allow your beasts to hurt my dog?”
With a heavy grunt, the driver walked to the lead horse and rubbed its nose. Then he bent down and scooped up her dog.
Genevieve nipped him.
Spewing a foul word, he grabbed the dog by the scruff and brought it to her.
Elizabeth fumbled in her reticule and brought out a leash, snugged it over Genevieve’s neck, and took her out of his arms. “Thank you. Although I am disturbed by the inappropriate language you used.”
Licking the bite mark on his hand, the driver’s eyes snapped to a glare, and then without another word, he left her.
She walked to her belongings and looked around. There were no porters to haul her luggage, and the boarding house was at the end of the street. “Well, Genevieve, let’s see if we can find someone to help us.”
Stoking her courage, she raised her head up, shoulders back, and walked to the door of the jail. She knocked, fervently hoping there were no hardened criminals inside. The little Papillion backed up and barked.
The door flung open and a rough looking scoundrel with a patch over one eye stormed outside. “Shut the dog up!”
She gasped and scooped the still barking animal into her arms. “There is no need for such rudeness. And may I say that you are a disgrace to the law.”
“Well, you already said it so you don’t need to ask. Besides, I’m not the sheriff. I’m his prisoner.”
“That is a relief.” Her heart thumped. Why was a prisoner answering the door? What if he had killed the sheriff? She set her dog down and backed away.
The one-eyed criminal stared at her. “Well? What do you want?”
“Nothing.” What had he done? What if he took it in his mind to ravage her? By the way his lone eye took her in that was a sure possibility. She hoped they were going to hang him.
She kept her still barking dog between the outlaw and herself and stepped back.
He cocked his head and pointed at Genevieve. “That’s a noisy little mop of a dog.” With an annoying grin, he stepped toward her.
Her blood ran as thick and cold as the Patapsco River in January. She swallowed and eased back another step. Then another. Her foot slipped off the boardwalk. Teetering, she fell into the arms of another. She looked up into what had to be the tallest man she’d ever seen and fainted.