Friday, June 11, 2010

Texas Star of Destiny; Her Abundant Joy

Texas Star of Destiny
By Lyn Cote

Can a beautiful young widow find peace in the arms of a Texas Ranger?

"Her Abundant Joy is a wonderfully satisfying finale to Lyn Cote's fascinating saga of Texas history. Riveting, engaging, unpredictable, it brings to the forefront a frightened and vulnerable German immigrant and a Texas Ranger whose family survived the turbulent years by grace and grit, faith and fortune. Not to be missed!"KATHY HERMAN, author of the Phantom Hollow and Sophie Trace Trilogies

In 1846, young German widow Mariel Wolfe comes start a new life in the "promised" land of Texas. Texas Ranger Carson Quinn is responsible for leading her party of immigrants through dangerous Comanche-held territory. As he watches Mariel hold her head high, he will stop at nothing to protect her. But war is brewing: Mexico will not accept the U.S. annexation of the young Texas Republic without a fight. Honor bound to fight for Texas, Carson's deepest longing is to lay down his rifle. As Mariel and Carson fall deeply in love, could her painful past or this new war destroy all their hopes?

Chapter One

Texas, April 1846Gazing ahead through the pouring rain, Carson Quinn tried to take a deep breath and couldn't. Searing tightness in his chest reminded him--he hadn't been able to blot out the images. Images the past week with Blanche had blistered into his mind, knotted around his lungs. Late on his second day in the saddle, all he was looking forward to was a hot bath and a warm bed at one of Galveston's inns, comfort for his body if not his spirit.

Draped within the dismal mist, he nudged his horse to churn quicker through mud and murky puddles over the last half-mile into the seaport. Amid the jumble of buildings, strange people clogged the streets. He pulled up on his reins. Something had happened here. Something out of the ordinary. Something that might force him out of his own misery into the misery of others.

People huddled under dripping trees, under canvas, and standing under the overhanging roofs of stores, everyone drenched. Rainwater funneled down his leather hat as he steered his horse through the throng. Those who peered up at him looked pale, forlorn and sickly. They weren't dressed like Texans, or even Americans—
He inhaled a shallow breath. He still thought of Americans as separate from Texas, from him. But Texas was part of the US now. Had been for over two months.

Who were these people?
He scanned the crowd and could not pick out any man who appeared to be in charge. Not that he could tell—they weren't speaking any language Carson spoke.

Finally, he saw someone he recognized. He hailed the man, a former Ranger named Tunney, and drew up beside him. "Hey!"

Tunney, a tall big-boned man with weathered folds on his tanned face, halted and then waved in recognition. "Come!" He motioned for Carson to get down and accompany him inside the nearby cantina. Carson complied, tying his horse to the hitching rail. He realized he could breathe a bit deeper. It was good to see a face he knew, a man he'd patrolled with.

Inside, Carson found Tunney waiting for him at the bar with a mug of ale ready for him. Tunney smiled—a real smile of welcome. Nothing like the false ones Carson had endured these past few days . . .

Shaking phantom memories off, Carson drank deep and then got down to business. "Who are all these people?"

"They're from Germany, from what I hear. Only they don't call themselves Dutch but doit-cha." Tunney's mouth twisted as he tried to pronounce the word. "Been here over a week now."

"That's fine and good, but what are they doing hanging around town, clogging the streets?"
"All the drivers and their freighter wagons are off supplying the US Army."

"All of them?" Carson paused, his cup right under his nose. He drew in the yeasty smell of the mild home-brew. He'd known the US Army had come to Texas, but not that it would cause this.

Tunney chuckled. "You didn't expect the Mexicans to be happy that Texas has been annexed by the US? I guess Polk is letting the Mexicanos know that the US won't stand for them invading Texas, now it's US Territory. General Zachary Taylor is at the Rio Grande. Haven't you kept up?"
Carson drank some more ale. He'd been busy fighting Comanche this year, far from newspapers. And then at the wedding, his misery had sucked away most everything else and left behind only consuming pain. "I've been out patrolling and then . . . some family business came up." He shut his mind to the taunting images. "I didn't see a newspaper till I got to San Felipe." And I didn't pay too much attention to it then. Nothing much else had mattered to him at San Felipe.

"That's right." Tunney raised his voice, talking over an explosion of laughter at the end of the bar. "Your mother has family there."

Yeah, family. Carson nodded, but refused to elaborate. "So these people are just stuck here?"
"Yeah, they aren't happy about it, and neither are the townspeople. The Germans don't seem to have money to buy shelter or food. Some of them speak English but most don't. A bad business."
Carson shrugged, feeling suddenly flat inside. It was as if he'd reached the point where he couldn't muster any more emotion. This past week he'd experienced too much but all under cover. Pride had forced him to hold it all back in silence. This made the emotions somehow more powerful, more devastating. Even now.
Ignoring this, he chatted with Tunney about the whereabouts of other mutual friends. When he'd gleaned all the information Tunney had, he bid his fellow Ranger good-bye and headed back out into the soggy day to find a bath and bed in an inn.

He'd just stepped through the door when he was met by a commotion. A mere two feet from him, a woman obviously in the family way collapsed. Carson darted forward and lifted her limp body from the muddy ground.
"Ma'am? Ma'am?" He shook her a little, but she didn't react.

By then he'd been surrounded by people all shouting at him in what must be German. He didn't waste any time. Barreling across the miry street, he entered the nearest inn. "I need a room!" he bellowed at the pot-bellied innkeeper who was just coming down the stairs. "Now! I'm a Ranger!"
That last bit worked. What a Ranger wanted in Texas, he got. Within minutes, Carson was laying the woman down on a bed upstairs. Another woman had followed him and wouldn't let the innkeeper push her out.

Carson turned. "Leave her. Send for a doctor!"

The innkeeper left, grumbling loud and long, but Carson didn't doubt that he would do what was asked.

He took a moment to eye the other woman. She was very small and thin and reminded him of his mother and foster sister with her flaxen hair and pale skin.

The woman bobbed several curtseys. "Danke, mein herr." Then she inched toward the woman and took her hand.
Still dripping, Carson stepped back and took off his hat. He slapped it against his leg, sending droplets everywhere. Then he said, making each word distinct, "I am Carson Quinn."
The pale woman bobbed again. "Ich bin Mariel." She pointed to herself. Then she colored. "I am Mariel. I speak little English."

***Authored by Lyn Cote
To purchase the book or read more stories of strong women, drop by
The whole Texas Star of Destiny series is available now online or in a local library or bookstore. Ask for it!
Copyright 2010--Do not reproduce without permission. Thanks.
* * *

Steeple Hill Love
Inspired Suspense
Big Secrets Secrets series

June, 2010

Roxanne Rustand

"I'll be seeing you again..."

The attacker's words still ring in Deputy Megan Peters' ears. Her attempt to trap a serial rapist terrorizing Lost Falls failed, but she has succeeded in becoming the target of his attention. Undaunted, she moves forward in her investigation, and Scott Anders, the only newcomer in town, draws her suspicion. Is his gentleness just an act? Yet as Megan and Scott grow closer, she finds herself questioning her instincts. What will she believe--her heart, or the evidence against him?


"I won't stop until I find this guy, Anna." Seeing the raw pain in her friend's eyes, Megan Peters took a deep breath and forced back the memories threatening to swamp her. "I promise."

"How?" Anna lashed out, pulling her hands away from Megan's. "I didn't see his face. I don't know who it was, and neither did the other woman who got away. And the two dead girls won't be talking."

The bitterness in Anna's voice stung Megan like a whiplash. "No. But the DNA--"

"Hasn't matched anyone in the system so far, and probably never will, right? This guy will never be caught."

"But it does connect the crimes, so when we get him, we'll be able to send him away for good. There'll be a time when someone picks up on a clue. Someone else who escapes."

They both fell silent, the underlying truth of Megan's words a chilling reminder of the two women who had been raped and murdered within the last six months. If hikers hadn't come by and scared off her attacker, Anna might have been number three.

"We're doing our best," Megan added quietly. "And we will get him."
It wasn't an idle promise, and Megan could only hope Anna believed it. The younger woman had been a county 911 dispatcher for five years before resigning last winter, and she'd seen Megan in action. She had to know why this case mattered to Megan so much.

Anna turned away to brace her hands on the windowsill of the tiny Marshall County sheriff's office. "But until he's caught, he'll just continue, and that could go on for the next decade." Her voice rose. "I know how few deputies work this county, remember? Not enough. He could hide up in some remote cabin in the mountains and never be found."

Megan waited a few moments for her to calm down. "He'll start making mistakes. If there's ever anything you can remember, call me, day or night. His shoes. Something in his voice. A gesture--"

Anna spun around to face her, her face pale, a hand at the jagged, healing wound at the base of her neck. The bandages and sutures were gone now, leaving gnarled pink flesh would become a fainter scar in time. But the real wounds--the emotional trauma and deep fear--might
never fully heal.

"I came in because you asked me to, but please don't ask me to come back. It was dark. He didn't speak. Living through it again is more than I can bear."

At the anguish twisting Anna's lovely features, Megan felt a corner of her heart tear. "I'm more sorry than I could ever say, about everything you've been through."

Anna's mouth lifted in a faint, sad smile. "I know you're trying. Look, I-I need to get back home. Lance has to leave for work at three, and I have take care of Jeremy."

Megan watched her old friend zip up her heavy jacket, slip out the front door and limp down the sidewalk to the Sable station wagon parked close by. At the driver's side Anna cast a swift, uneasy glance in both directions, then she slid behind the wheel.

The town was still in off-season until end of May, when the mountain passes cleared, and the area claimed less than four thousand year-around residents. But Megan had no doubt that Anna had hit the locks the second she got into her car.

A routine most local women followed day or night, now that a killer had slipped into their midst.

"Any luck with her?"

At the sound of heavy footsteps and the scent of Old Spice aftershave, she turned to face Hal Porter, the sheriff. She shook her head. "I was hoping she'd had time to sift through what

"She's probably too terrified to speak up."

"I can understand that with the others who escaped after being assaulted. But Anna was a dispatcher, I thought she'd remember something." Megan slashed a hand in the air. "I can't believe the guy could attack without saying a word."

"I agree."

She lifted her eyes to meet Hal's weary gaze. "What kind of animal is he?"

"We'll find him. It's just gonna take time." Hal shook his head slowly as he turned back to his office, his decades of law enforcement clearly weighing more heavily on his shoulders with every passing month.

He didn't have to say it--she'd noticed the far-away look in his eyes, and knew he was contemplating retirement. His wife Greta had been fighting cancer for a long time, and had recently taken early retirement from the local high school. He probably longed to spend his days with her...for whatever time she had left.

But he'd never been a man who'd walk away from trouble. And no matter what, she knew he wanted to retire with this case closed, or he'd feel as if he'd failed.

Hal paused at his desk. "Go home, Megan. I mean it. You've been here well over your twelve hours already."

"It's still not enough." But when he folded his arms across his chest and gave her his trademark, implacable stare, she checked her service belt, pulled the patrol car keys from her pocket, and headed for the back door with a heavy sigh.

Going home now meant another day of failure.

Even after nine years as a county deputy known for being tough and in control, there was one kind of situation that still sent secret waves of nausea and anxiety through Megan's gut. And this time, yet another good friend had been a victim.

Men who preyed on women--whether domestic bullies or the animal now roaming Marshall County--had been a personal vendetta of hers since the day she'd gone into law enforcement, and that would continue until the day she took off her badge.

Megan was going to make sure this case was solved.

And soon.

Roxanne Rustand
The All Creatures Great and Small Blog

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