Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Harmonica Joe's Reluctant Bride


Lola tried to squirm away from the brute but her movements only seemed to tantalize him even more. Before she could fully absorb what happened, the burley man was swept off his feet by a booted foot belonging to no other than Harmonica Joe.
A loud “oof” escaped the big man as he hit the dirty floor. He pulled Lola on top of him as he went down.
Joe drew out his gun and, for a moment, Lola thought he was going to shoot the man. Instead, Joe flipped the gun over impressively in his hand with a fancy twirl and slammed the butt of it into the man’s hand holding Lola’s hair forcing him to let her go. With Joe’s free hand, he grabbed hold of Lola’s upper arm, dragged her off the man and pulled her to his side. He slid the gun back into the well-worn leather holster that rode on his slim hip.
“You ever touch my wife again, I’ll make you a cripple in more ways than one, Clarence.” He shoved Lola toward the door and then out onto the wooden sidewalk. He stopped suddenly and let her go. Peering down into her eyes, his own an intense indigo, his expression turned stern. “Well, Lola, are you through playing games? I don’t have time for your shenanigans so make up your mind. Either you can come on home with me where I can protect you or you can go on your way and take your chances.”
What had she gotten into? The choices did not seem that good. “What’s to say you won’t just use and abuse me the way that terrible man in there would have?”
Joe laughed without mirth. “I’d sooner roll down a mountain side in a bale of barbed wire than try to get betwixt your legs, lady.”
Not exactly appreciating his assurance but feeling a bit safer with him than with the fleshy man in the saloon, Lola relented. “Fine, I’ll go with you until I can figure out what to do about my situation.”
He took long strides to the black Morgan horse waiting patiently for him then leaned over the saddle extending an arm to Lola. “Well, come on then.”
She clasped his hand and he pulled her up onto the back of his horse where she was forced to cling to his waist or bounce off the backend of the horse. “Damn you, any way.” It was all she could think to say to maintain her dignity.
“This isn’t exactly how I planned on starting out our married life.” Before she could respond to his sarcastic words, he chuckled. “Ma warned me about hell cat women like you. She was sure that’s the way I was headed though and, sure enough, here I am.” He turned his attention to the sleek, black horse. “C’mon, Black Jack, let’s get on home.”
“What a prophet your mother turned out to be,” Lola responded sardonically.
As Joe guided the horse down the street and out of town, he reached down and took hold of her bare foot. “There’s two things you’re going to need right off, a pair of shoes and your own horse.”
As Lola bumped along on the rear end of Joe’s horse, she wondered who the other Lola was. Nobody seemed to like her much. Was she a tainted woman? A thief? How would she ever prove who she really was? Would anyone believe her? It took sheer will to stop the chaotic thinking in her head. She had to concentrate on what was happening right now and figure out a way to get back home.

I am one of the featured authors at Amira Press next week. Check it out at http://www.amirapresssays.com/ Have a wonder week. All good things to your corner of the universe.
Sarah McNeal

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