This will also introduce a new old-timer, Jeremiah, the patriarch of the Taggerts, a family that has often operated on the edge of the law-- or further over. Jeremiah proved so interesting to me that he got a point of view (that made for three with the hero and heroine each having one). I do like writing these tough old galoots ;). Of course, nowadays, they are not all that old to me.
As a work, for which I'll be doing one more edit, this might change some before it reaches actual publication. The title is my biggest question mark. There will be three books about the Taggert brothers (first time I've done a brother series), and although they share characters with the first books, they do have a new family at their center-- and in that sense, are a series of their own. I'd love to have three titles that work together. Aztec Moon was to be the first (this one) but the second didn't have something that fit with it. The third, coming together but yet to be written, doesn't have a title. So title is still in flux for this first of the Taggert romances. I might yet get some brilliant insight that pulls all three together.
The store had been left unlocked, and they walked in only to see Sicilla leaning against a counter and an older balding man beside him. A trap?
“Jeremiah Taggert meet Ollie Oliver.”
“Do I know you?” Jeremiah asked as he moved forward. He hadn’t checked the load in his gun. He hoped that wasn’t a fatal mistake.
“Not direct,” Oliver said. “We might’ve crossed paths a time or two.”
“Don’t keep me guessing.”
“Would you gentlemen like some coffee?” a woman’s voice asked from the other side of the store. Jeremiah turned to see a beautiful woman standing at the door to what must have been a back room, perhaps even living quarters.
“That would be very nice,” he said putting on his most mannerly voice. He needed to figure out what the hell this deal was.
A few moments later, they were all seated at the table with coffee. “This is my wife, Mr. Taggert,” Del said. “I already told Connie who you were.”
“How do you do, Mrs. Sicilla.”
He smiled. She was not only beautiful but had the way about her that ladies had. He always appreciated a beautiful lady. “So why did you invite Mr. Oliver to join us?” he asked then turning back to Sicilla.
“This here is Sam Ryker’s mother.”
Jeremiah managed to avoid a double take. “I take it you mean figuratively, he said taking another look at the older man. He had a tough look about him, and he had not missed the way he was wearing his gun tied down. Interesting situation.
“It ain’t figurative, you sidewinder,” Oliver snarled.
“All right, gentlemen, may we start over?” Connie put out her hands for peace. “I think we are facing a mutual problem. I would like it if you would give Mr. Taggert an opportunity to speak his piece.” She gave Oliver that look which caused him to subside, but his eyes remained cold as he watched Jeremiah.
Jeremiah considered what he should say. Only the truth would do. “I made a mistake. A big one. I accepted a deal from someone who came to my ranch out of Vernal. He wanted Sam Ryker dead.” At the angry grunt from Oliver, he put out his hands, palms up. “I said it was a mistake. Ryker had been a gunman and outlaw. I thought he still was.” A minor lie. He actually had had no idea what the man had been today. He hadn’t cared.
“Save the smooth talk,” Oliver said. “We know about the agreement. Why are you here now? To finish it? And where the hell is your other son?”
This was a sharp old-timer, maybe as sharp as he was. Jeremiah smiled, admiringly, even though he realized this was still a delicate situation. “That is where my problem begins. Asa, along with two of my men, went north to kill Ryker.”
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