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A Heap of Trouble
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A Heap of Trouble
by Lorrie Unites-Struiff
Genre: Western Humorous Romance Action
Tags: Western-romance-action-humor-old west-cattle rustling-monkey-Kansas-Funny critters-organ grinders monkey-medicine show-gunfights
Release: September 14, 2012
Editor: Julie Lynn Hayes
Line Editor: Greta Gunselman
Cover Designer: Suzannah Safi
Cole Walker, Sheriff of Cold Creek, has more woes than he can handle.
He thought chasing rustlers would be the worst of his problems, until Mattie Wells, the new gal in town, jingles his spurs with just a smile, and he falls head over heels.
Then he finds a runaway monkey under his desk, and his inclination is to get rid of him. Cole has this fear of critters that goes back a mighty long way, so the sooner the better.
But Mattie thinks Beggar’s adorable, so what’s a man supposed to do? Now, he’s forced to put up with the little fur ball...uh...ringtail monkey, even when the furry thief starts stealing the townsfolk’s trinkets.
Then there’s the matter of the cattle rustlers who keep stealing the Double J’s cattle. JJ blames the farmers, the farmers don’t like JJ, and an all-out war is about to commence.
Cole and his deputies, Wade and Sully, have their hands full trying to keep the uneasy peace between the farmers and the cattleman. As if that’s not enough pressure, Mayor Farley gives them a month to find the thieves before he calls for outside help.
Cole’s trying to win Mattie’s heart, but the little lady has a dark secret and vows never to marry. While harboring a secret of his own, Cole tries to pry out her secret, in hopes of changing her mind.
Cole chases Mattie, the rustlers, and Beggar in a town full of fun characters and chaos.
Can he bring the rustlers to justice, peace and order to Cold Creek, the townsfolk’s loot back to their rightful owners, and win Mattie’s heart?
Yep, Cole has a heap of trouble on his hands.
Mayor Farley glanced up from his papers. “Howdy, Cole.” The Mayor ran his eyes over Beggar, who stood in front of the desk with his head down. “I heard about your little buddy there. What can I do for you two today?”
“We came to return your stolen valuables.” Cole untied the bandana and spread the items over the desk. “Seems I have a sneak thief on my hands.”
Mayor Farley’s shaggy white eyebrows shot up an inch and his mouth dropped open. “Who…when?”
“Last night.” Cole pointed down at Beggar, who still stared at the floor.
The Mayor shook his head and hid a bemused grin behind his hand. He winked at Cole, and then eyed Beggar over the desk, and shook his pudgy finger at the ringtail. “You’ve been a bad, bad boy.” He stroked his white goatee and drew his shaggy eyebrows together. “What do you think, Sheriff?” He thrummed his fingers on the desk. “Should we hang him?”
Beggar screamed, wrapped both arms around Cole’s leg, buried his face in the hollow behind Cole’s knee, and snuffled.
Keeping a straight face, Cole said, “What say we give him another chance, Mr. Mayor?” He made his voice stern. “One more time, and I promise I’ll tie the noose myself.”
“Agreed.” The mayor slapped his desk.
The monkey slumped to the floor.
Mayor Farley chuckled and motioned for Cole to have a seat. He took out the makings from his silk vest pocket, offering Cole the pouch. They both rolled a cigarette and settled back in their chairs. Smoke curled lazily in the room. The Mayor flicked lint off his suit sleeve. “Any news on the rustlers? JJ’s about to bust a blood vessel.”
Cole rubbed the back of his neck. “This ain’t making any sense. What’ve they been taking? Half-dozen or so head a week? Rustlers usually take more steers than that.” He leaned forward. “Another thing that’s puzzling. We found tracks heading toward the river. Then some older tracks head north, newer tracks go south, some even go back west, across the river. We don’t rightly know where to look. We’ve been chasing our tails, riding one way, then the other.”
“Hmm.” Mayor Farley shifted his bulk on the chair. “Could be someone has a grudge against JJ and wants to aggravate him. Or the farmers are terribly riled about his strays.”
Cole shrugged, reached down, and petted Beggar. “Oh, they’re plenty riled, but I don’t reckon a corner or two of ruined crops would cause them to steal, or I’d of found some sign in their barns, or on their property somewhere.” He furrowed his brow, took a puff on the cigarette. “I’m thinking a couple of outlaws are holed up in the hills picking off a few head at a time, burning a different brand to sell them as their own. Hiding them till they have plenty to drive on west to the stockyards.”
“Sounds logical. The town has faith in you, Cole. You’ll figure it out. You always did have good instincts.”
“I sure hope it’s soon.” Cole fingered the brim of his Stetson, balanced on his knee. “Wade and Sully are camping out on the range and they’ll keep on searching. Told them to be back in time for Saturday’s social.”
Farley rose and opened the window. The rumble of buckboards, the whinny of horses, and the sound of voices floated up from the street below. Thumbs in his vest pockets, the Mayor rocked his girth, heel to toe, and looked out over the town. “Farmers and ranchers never did mix well, you know that. Corn stalks have been broken, wheat patches flattened. If JJ tried harder to keep his cattle on his side of the river, the farmers might be more tolerant of a few strays here and there. Widow Cox comes to town once a week to curdle my ears about her flower beds and elderberry bushes being trampled.”
He turned to Cole, a discouraged frown settled on his face. “Don’t know why JJ won’t sell some beef here in town instead of us having to haul meat in on ice wagons. All the folks in the territory would benefit if he did. He’s so blasted sure the farmers are to blame, he refuses to have anything to do with them, which in turn doesn’t help us.” He walked back to the desk and ground out his cigarette. “Government never should have opened up free range to the west. The farmers homesteaded our side, proved their worth, and got the proper deeds. This town depends on them.”
Cole stubbed his cigarette in the tin on Farley’s desk. Beggar lay on the floor next to his foot. “Yeah. Then JJ comes along and trouble starts.” He rose to leave, slapped the Stetson on his head, and nudged Beggar with his boot. “Doesn’t help me neither. Now I gotta find the rustlers quick to stop all this anger and hate between folks before it gets out of hand. I feel a heap of trouble coming our way.”
“’Fraid so,” said Farley.
About the Author:
Lorrie lives in West Mifflin, PA, thirty minutes from downtown Pittsburgh. She lives at home with her husband and her favorite toy—a computer.
Once a gold medalist teacher/manager for a big-name ballroom dance studio she has retired and now enjoys the quiet life of writing and watching TV. But she loves to have lunches with local authors to keep abreast of the challenging world of publishing.
Lorrie writes in many genres so you never know what she will come out with next. She never wants to bore her readers and enjoys the thrill of entertaining them by writing a good story.
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