Welcome to Part Six of Be Mine, Marshall, A Written Fireside Story!
Eight talented authors have gathered to bring you this free western romance, and if you've yet to read the first five installments of this round robin style story, please follow the links below and be sure to catch up! Just follow the links below!
Part 1 - Lori Connelly
Part 2 - Paty Jager
Part 3 - Julie Lence
Part 4 - Susan Horsnell
Part 5 - Aileen Harkwood
...and now to continue the story, I invite you to read Part Six of Be Mine, Marshall! Don't forget to check the scheduled dates for each post and follow the links below!
Be Mine, Marshall
The three sprang from their seats around Doc’s warm stove, and Daniel’s gun rested in his palm before he’d even thought to pull it from the leather holster buckled on his hip. He strode straight for the door, but Fannie beat him to it, her hand closing around the doorknob under his.
Their gazes locked, and he tightened his grip around her slender fingers. Where did the fool woman think she was going? “You need to stay inside and let me handle this, Miss Fannie.”
Her chin jutted forward and she squinted. “The only man who gets to tell me what to do around these parts is my granddaddy. I’ve lived in Cold Spring my entire life and gotten along just fine. If someone out there is in trouble, I aim to help.”
Daniel aimed a stern frown at her, but she didn’t back down. Strange, considering one glare from him usually froze most outlaws in their boots. Instead, determination glinted in her soft blueberry eyes, surrounded by the dark fringe of her lashes.
The woman sure was a pretty little thing. Stubborn, but pretty.
A metallic snap broke the tension and Daniel glanced over his shoulder to find Doc Hartworth loading two shells into the barrel of a shotgun. She locked the barrel in place and rounded the table, offering the gun in Fannie’s direction. “Our Miss Fannie just happens to be the best shot between here and Lacey’s Spring, Marshall. You’d be a wise man to have her watching your back once you head outside that door.”
Was that so? He glanced at Fannie and his brow twitched as she fitted the rifle against her waist like she’d been born with a gun in her hand. Something told him he’d also be fairly wise to never test the beautiful woman’s patience.
“All right, then. But stay behind me.” He nodded once and cracked the door, peering out into the street.
A limp pile of rags lay in the dusty wheel tracks running the center of town but, other than that, the day was eerily quiet. Daniel’s gaze dropped to the dark red pool leaking across the packed dirt, and he gritted his teeth. First the fire at Fannie’s and now someone had been shot in broad daylight. He eased the door back, glanced left then right and crouched low, running toward the prone body with Fannie right on his heels.
He grabbed victim’s shoulder and rolled them onto their back, and his stomach sank as a pair of bright green eyes blinked up at him, filled with panic. Marigold Fisher.
Fannie gasped and slapped a hand over her mouth.
“Please…” Marigold panted, one hand pressed to her side and the other fisted in her skirts. “Help me.”
“Of course, of course.” Fannie set the rifle on the ground and pried the younger woman’s fingers away from her torso. “It looks like a bullet nicked her ribs.” She tore a strip of her petticoats from under her dress and pressed it to the wound. “Who did this to you, Marigold?”
Daniel kept his eyes peeled to the surrounding buildings and darkened alleys. Movement caught the corner of his eye and he looked toward the mercantile. A man limped back from the window, his steps off kilter as he disappeared into the shadows.
“I did it.” Marigold squeezed her eyes tight, tears streaming past her temples into her hair. “In case I die, I want everyone to know so’s Will ain’t blamed. Lester said I had to. Said if I didn’t, they’d kill me and Will.”
Fannie and Daniel exchanged a frown. She hadn’t shot herself, so what was Marigold talking about? Starting fire or stealing Doc Hartworth’s brooch? Or both? Daniel ran a hand along the bristle on his chin. Either way, they needed to get the poor girl off the ground and into Doc’s so she could be tended. Could be, Marigold Fisher was delirious with fear and didn’t know what she was sayin.
“Shhh now, Marigold, you ain’t gonna die.” Fannie pressed a hand to the girl’s forehead. “What did Lester make you do, sweetie? You can tell us.”
A loud wail careened through the air and Daniel spun on his knee, aiming the barrel of his pistol toward the noise. Now what in all the blue blazes was going on?
A young boy who couldn’t have been a year or two older than Marigold sprinted down the center of the road, hell bent for leather in their direction. “Marigold!” He skidded to his knees beside Marigold and shoved Fannie’s hands out of the way. “Don’t you touch her. Y’all never helped us afore and we don’t need your help now.”
Daniel placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “She needs to be looked after by Doc Hartworth, son. What’s your name?”
“Will.” He choked out his name, holding Marigold’s cheeks. “I told Lester somethin like this was gonna happen. I told him, but he wouldn’t listen.”
“Let me take her inside and see the doc.” Daniel holstered his gun, and gently eased his arms under Marigold’s neck and legs, lifting her off the ground. “Once she’s had her wounds tended, we can talk this all out.”
He smiled at the appreciative shine in Fannie’s eyes as she grabbed the Doc’s rifle off the ground, then turned with Marigold in his arms and strode toward Doc Hartworth’s office, Fannie and Will trailing behind him. The hair along the back of Daniel’s neck tingled a moment before the cock of a trigger pulled him up short.
“Not so fast, Marshall. That there girl belongs to me.”
Daniel froze. With Marigold in his arms, he couldn’t reach his gun, which meant Fannie was the only one who had any firepower between him and whoever held that loaded weapon.
~ * ~
I hope you enjoyed this installment of Be Mine, Marshall!!! To continue with the story, check back at the dates listed below and follow the links! Thank you!
Written Fireside Schedule:
Tuesday, February 3rd - Lori Connelly
Tuesday, February 10th - Paty Jager
Tuesday, February 17th - Julie Cerniglia Lence
Tuesday, February 24th - Susan Horsnell
Tuesday, March 3rd - Aileen Harkwood
Tuesday, March 10th - AJ Nuest
Tuesday March 17th - Mandy Baggot
Tuesday March 24th - Kathleen Rice Adams
Tuesday, March 31st - Kari Lemor