Wednesday, August 8, 2012

{Book Spotlight and Giveaway} Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold by Terry Irene Blain

Title: Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold
Author: Terry Irene Blain

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Today, I bring to you the first chapter of Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold by Terry Irene Blain. Look at the bottom of the post for giveaway details!

Chapter One
St. Louis, Missouri, 1889

Whistle shrieking, the train jerked to a stop, the sudden lurch throwing Julie Lawson
forward. The black silk of her skirt slipped on the hard wooden seat and only the firm bracing
of her feet kept her from slipping to the floor. She glanced down at the small valise that
hadn’t been out of arm’s reach since she fled Philadelphia.

Julie shifted back in her seat, hearing the echo of her grandmother’s favorite phrase,
your impulses will get you into trouble one day, Juliette Marie, you mark my words. Gran had
certainly been right.

She let out a shallow sigh. The widow’s weeds she’d hurriedly dug out of the trunk in
the attic required a corset so severely laced a shallow sigh was all she could manage.
The train whistle gave a short toot. “St. Louis! St. Louis! Thirty-minute stop in St.
Louis!” came the sing-song voice of the conductor.

She glanced at the watch pinned to her bodice. Enough time for her to walk down the
platform and back. As she stood, the hat and heavy veil wobbled. Using her reflection in the
dusty window as a mirror, she readjusted the long hat pins. The hat more secure, she peered
through the glass.

The platform bustled with activity. Fellow passengers came and went, dodging
scattered trunks and carpet bags. The harried-looking conductor strode by, a piece of paper in
his hand and a pencil tucked behind his ear. A small boy in corduroy knickers trailed a large,
hairy dog, the boy clutching a piece of twine attached to the dog’s collar.

A telegraph office stood at the platform’s west end near the panting engine. Standing in
front of a row of round-topped steamer trunks, a man waited quietly beside the office. His
coat and trousers were the color of bitter chocolate. A perfect match to his wide-brimmed
Stetson and western boots. A pair of saddle bags hung over one shoulder.

Leaving her coat draped across the seat, she lowered the black lace veil, and drew on
her black kid gloves. Picking up the small valise, she left the railroad car.

She walked along the platform, the warm summer air smelling of coal smoke and dust.
As she neared the west end of the platform, she noticed the man she’d seen from the window.
A growing commotion behind her caused her to turn. All down the platform, people
scrambled and yelled, their shouts mingled with a dog’s deep bark. A flash of tabby fur
streaked past her skirt. The dog bumped her knees as he gallumped past.

Off balance, she stumbled backward. And into a solid, warm male body. Strong arms
wrapped around her. Her flailing bag struck him, bringing a muffled exclamation. With a
thud they came to rest against a steamer trunk. Turned sideways, she half-sat, half-lay over
his long legs. She fought to regain her balance, thwarted by the slick silk of her skirts.
“Hold still, lady,” he muttered as he hitched her more securely over his lap. “I don’t
want to drop you.”

Throwing her arms around his neck, the bag she still held thumped into his back.
Another exclamation, this one not so muttered, sounded in her ear.

With one arm about her shoulders, the other stretched across her lap grasping her hip,
he kept her from sliding to the ground. For a few seconds neither of them moved. She started
to breathe again inhaling a faint scent of leather, tobacco, and shaving soap.

The masculine scents made her instantly aware of the intimacy of their position with
her draped across his lap, the surrounding warmth of his arms and body. She loosened her
grip around his neck and brought the bag back over his shoulder where it plopped to the
ground. Unable to get her breath, she blamed the too-tight corset. “I... I beg your pardon,” she
managed to get out.

Her hat dipped so far forward it practically sat on her nose. The pins pulled hurtfully at
her hair. Without thinking, she reached to fix it and flipped back the veil. She glanced up and
got a good look at her rescuer.

His hat gone, his gold-blond hair curled slightly where it lay too long about his ears and
collar. His muted green eyes widened in surprise. His gaze flicked from her face, to her hair,
and back to her face. Julie’s stomach dropped like a stone. She jerked the veil back into place.
Without the obscuring veil, she looked even younger than her twenty-one years, her
hair a pale, but unmistakable, blond. Not the gray-haired widow he’d obviously expected. “I
do beg your pardon,” she repeated. “I’m so sorry.”

A grin tugged up one corner of his mouth, white teeth flashing under his blond
mustache. “I’m not,” he replied.

Her heart jumped into her throat, reminding her of her scandalous position on his lap.
She squared her shoulders, stiffening in his grasp. She swallowed her heart back to its proper
place. “Please, sir,” she said in her best touch-me-not voice.

His fabulous smile faded. “Yes, ma’am. Sorry.” Carefully, he loosened his grip,
allowing her to slide from his lap. Once she’d regained her feet, he stood. For some reason
she still couldn’t catch her breath. Drat the corset for making her so breathless and lightheaded.
After a second, he stooped to pick up his hat. Her gaze followed his movement and she
spotted her valise tangled with his saddle bags. “Oh,” she gasped.

He shot her a quick glance then extracted the small bag from the snarl of leather.
She twisted her hands together, resisting the impulse to grab for her bag.

“May I carry your bag?” the blond man asked as if to make amends. He gestured with
the bag toward where passengers were re-boarding. His face showed a carefully neutral
expression. But his green eyes reminded her of the waters of the Chesapeake in a storm. She
didn’t want to imagine what thoughts those eyes might hide.

“No,” she stammered, “no, thank you.” She couldn’t even get a simple sentence out.
When he handed her the valise, her hand brushed his strong, tanned one. Even through her
glove, she imagined the warmth of his touch. “Thank you,” she was able to murmur as she

She concentrated on walking with as much dignity as possible as she returned down the
platform. He had to be watching, for she felt his gaze between her shoulder blades as she
fought to keep her steps at a sedate pace. At last she regained the haven of the railroad car.
Relief washed through her.

She took her seat but couldn’t resist looking out the window. He still stood in front of
the telegraph office, hat in hand, looking down the platform toward her railroad car. After a
moment, he slapped the hat against his thigh before resettling it on his head.

“Al-l-l aaaa-board!” shouted the conductor. The train whistle echoed with a toooo-tootoot!
A loud clanking was followed by a sudden forward jerk. The whistle shrilled again. A
series of short tugs became smooth forward movement. Through the window the train depot
and platform began to slide away.

Don’t look. Don’t look. Her head remained straight forward, but in spite of her
admonishments her gaze crept toward the window as the telegraph office scrolled by.
Saddle bags resting near his booted feet, he scanned the train. His gaze seemed to
penetrate the dusty window and her veil with no problem. His eyes held hers for a split
second, making her breath catch. He briefly touched the brim of his hat and nodded as his
figure slid past.

* * *

Wes ducked his head against the soot and sparks that swirled after the caboose. After
the flurry died away, he raised his head to look down the tracks again. He absently rubbed his
shoulder wondering if tomorrow he’d find a bruise where the widow’s small carpet bag had
struck him.

He slapped the soot from his coat and turned to look toward the telegraph office. The
operator shook his head. He returned to the steamer trunks clustered at the end of the
platform. He leaned his butt against a rounded top and crossed his ankles.

Again he looked west, watching the receding caboose grow smaller. That was some
widow. Under that obscuring veil her hair had been a striking silvery blond.

Of course, someone that young and pretty could be a widow, but something about her
nagged at him. He closed his eyes and let his mind see her again. The widow’s weeds she
wore were old fashioned. And there’d been a faint odor of camphor from the black silk. But if
she’d been widowed suddenly, it wouldn’t be too surprising if she wore make-shift mourning.
What else didn’t ring true? Her eyes. There’d been no pain, no sorrow in her eyes.

They’d been as clear and beautiful and innocent as the blue sky they resembled. He
remembered the feel of her in his arms, half-lying across his lap. Remembered her eyes wide,
her lips parted as she tried to get her breath.

His eyes popped open and he took off his hat to run his hand through his hair. Why in
hell spend all this time trying to figure out what was wrong with a widow lady he’d never see

With a sigh, he resettled his Stetson, acknowledging he was suspicious because that
was his business. Suspicion kept him alert and kept him alive, made him good at his job. His
hand touched his coat pocket as though he could feel through the fabric the brown leather
case with the shiny metal badge that defined his life.

“Mr. Westmoreland?” The telegraph operator’s voice jerked Wes from his reverie. The
telegram from San Francisco you’ve been waitin’ for is here.”

Wes crossed to the telegraph window and took the piece of paper the operator held in
his direction. He heard his boss’s sharp, hard voice as he read:

Congrats Rayburn job. Proceed Denver, instructions wait.
Ultimate destination, Durango, Colorado. Use own name.
Dan Challenge, Wells Fargo

Wes folded the note and put it in his pocket.

“Too bad that there telegram didn’t come a few minutes earlier.” The operator

“Why’s that?” Wes asked.

“That there’s the Denver train,” the operator said with unconcealed glee. He nodded
where the widow’s train was nothing but a faint puff of smoke on the horizon.

“Figures,” Wes said with a sigh. Over the last ten years, he’d learned patience. But the
telegraph operator’s amusement rankled. Keeping his voice neutral he asked, “When’s the
next train and where do I get a ticket?”

“Next train same time tomorrow, goes to Denver and then on to San Francisco. Tickets
just inside to the left.” He chuckled again. “Yessirre, too bad that there telegram didn’t get
here sooner.”

Nodding a thanks he did not feel, Wes slung his saddle bags over his shoulder and
started down the platform. He must be more tired than he thought to allow the telegraph
operator’s attitude to put him out of sorts. Or maybe, he was more than just a little
disappointed he wasn’t on that there train with the flaxen-haired widow.

After purchasing a ticket for Denver, he got a room in the hotel across the street. What
was the chance, Wes wondered as he lay on the narrow, hard bed, that he’d run into the
widow in Denver? And what might have happened if that blasted telegram had come an hour

* * *

Julie Lawson peered through the window as the train clattered over the wooden bridge
spanning the Rio Los Anamis and headed south into Durango. By concentrating on the
breathtaking scenery of the rugged mountain canyons and the swift river, so different from
Philadelphia or the endless plains west of St. Louis, she’d pushed the thoughts of what
brought her here to the back of her mind.

The sign on the Denver and Rio Grande train depot proudly announced Durango,
Colorado. Julie brushed her hand across the royal-blue skirt of her serge traveling suit, tugged
at the black lapels and cuffs of the matching jacket. She took a deep breath, thankful to be in
her own pliable corset. She’d hidden the widow’s weeds at the bottom of her trunk and
changed into her own clothes during the layover in Denver.

Following a balding merchant to the exit, she descended the train steps. She shaded her
eyes against the harsh noon sun, searching the people milling about on the platform. Had
Uncle Frank received the telegram she sent from Denver?

“Julie! Julie!”

Her name echoed over the noisy doings of the busy depot. She turned to see Uncle
Frank striding toward her. He looked just as she remembered him. His Lawson family fair
hair largely hidden under a bowler hat. With his white dress shirt, dark suit and tie he looked
like any Philadelphia businessman.

“Welcome to Durango,” he said as he opened his arms. Julie threw herself into his
embrace. She’d reached her destination. She was safe. Her knees shook at the relief.
Uncle Frank must have felt her tremble. “Here now,” he said, holding her away from
him to look into her face. “Are you all right?”

“Yes, just tired. It’s been a long trip,” she reassured him. Just being with family made
her feel better, feel more secure. She could do this. “Sorry I didn’t give you more warning,
but you always said I could visit anytime.”

They headed toward the baggage area for her trunk. “Guess I gave in to one of my
impulses as Gran would have said. With Papa in Europe and Cory in the country, the house
was just too lonely.” Pretend this was just an ordinary visit. Forget the outrage and anger that
propelled her to action. Forget the panic that followed in her dash from Philadelphia.
Uncle Frank retrieved her trunk and paid a man to load her baggage into his buggy.
“How is Aunt Marie?” She asked as Uncle Frank drove the buggy through the traffic of
wagons, riders, and other buggies on Main Street.

Uncle Frank cleared his throat. “Actually, she’s in San Francisco, taking care of

“Is Grace sick?” she asked in surprise. Her cousin Grace lived in San Francisco with
her husband and small daughter.

“No, it’s just that Grace needs extra help now that, ah, she’s, ah...” Uncle Frank looked

Julie smiled. “You’re going to be a grandfather again. When?”

“Not for six more months, but Grace was feeling poorly, and Marie was worried about

“I understand her worry.” More than Uncle Frank knew.

Apparently the conversation reminded Uncle Frank of Cory’s delicate condition as he
asked, “How is your sister?”

“Cory’s doing fine this time. The baby is due in two more months. I wrote you that she
and Mark are taking extra precautions this time. So to make sure she isn’t upset, two weeks
ago he sent her to the country with a nurse.”

After two previous miscarriages Mark wasn’t taking any chances and had ordered quiet
with no responsibilities for Cory’s mental as well as physical health. Nothing could be
allowed to jeopardize this pregnancy. Julie looked at the carpet bag, resting in its usual spot
beside her feet. Just two more months to keep herself and the contents of the bag hidden. For

Shaking off the uneasy thoughts, she glanced around. Here in the Rocky Mountains the
summer sun shone harsh through air that was somehow less substantial than in Philadelphia.
The stark light gave a clear, sharp focus to the town and the landscape. She took a deep
breath. Away from the train station and the main street the breeze carried a faint scent of pine
from the western mountains.

As Uncle Frank turned east off Main Street, she caught a glimpse of a blond man in a
dark brown hat. Her breath lodged in her throat. Then he turned and she saw he was clean
shaven. Silly, she thought as she exhaled. How could it be him? She blinked away the
memory of sea-green eyes and a devastating smile.

* * *

Three days after Julie Lawson arrived in Durango, the Denver and Rio Grande brought
another visitor. As the train came in, Wes studied the lay of the land. Standing on the gently
swaying platform between two cars, he had a widespread view. He spotted the smelters.
Trailing dark plumes of smoke from a half-dozen stacks, the two smelters sat southwest of
the city like dark giants against the mountainside.

The wire waiting for him at the Wells Fargo office in Denver had been brief.

Proceed Durango. Possible sabotage or subversion at smelters.
Production down. Determine problem and notify.
No contact available Durango. Wire Denver office for assistance if needed.

Dan Challenge
Wells Fargo

No contact available? That was odd. And why was the head of Wells Fargo’s
investigation department interested in trouble at the Durango smelters? He knew Wells Fargo
transported the vast amounts of gold, silver, copper, and other mineral wealth that poured
from the smelters, but something didn’t add up.

The train rolled into the Durango station. As the whistle blew to announce their arrival,
Wes slid his hand inside his jacket to check the short barreled .32 nestled under his left arm.
He hitched his saddle bags more squarely over his shoulder, reseated his hat, and stepped
from the platform as the train pulled to a stop.

His first order of business was obtaining information. And there was only one place
where a stranger could sit and talk, and find out what was going on without drawing attention
to himself. At the end of the platform, he stopped a teamster loading boxes into the back of a
wagon. “Which way to the nearest saloon?” he asked.

If you'd like to enter the giveaway for one ebook of Colorado Silver, Colorado Gold, leave a comment with your email telling me what bank is mentioned throughout the first chapter! It's still around today and very popular!

1 comment:

  1. Wells Fargo
    alterlisa AT yahoo DOT com

    Awesome! Thanks so very Much!




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