Friday, February 21, 2014

First Fight Friday: The Outlaw of Cedar Ridge by Lori Connelly


Goats solve their differences head-on. They don’t give the silent treatment or yell, they butt heads, and then it’s over.

Cowboy Marvin has learned humans resolve issues differently especially those romantically involved. His curiosity sparked, he has invited authors to stop by on Fridays and share the first fight out of their latest book.


I'm offering up my own work this Friday, next week Cowboy Marvin is delighted to have Ann Harrison.

Here's 

First Fight Friday 

from 

The Outlaw of Cedar Ridge by Lori Connelly 


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“I want you to not drink yourself into a stupor whenever life gets a little hard.”

“A little hard,” Ben bit out.

“Yes, like when we lost-”

“I’m not talking about our son now.”

Evie held his gaze, silent, until the ache in her chest subsided. “I wasn’t referring to James.”

“Good.”

“I meant when the Blakes-”

“Stole my horses.”

“Well you did catch them on their ranch and-”

“I didn’t know I was on their land.”

She gave him a soft-spoken reassurance. “I know.”

“Months of hard work gone.”

“I know.”

“Then you should understand.” Anger made his words harsh.

“I know it’ll be a struggle to recover but it’s doable.”

Ben snorted. “Impossible.”

“As long as you continue down the path you’ve chosen, I agree.”

“What do you mean?” Tone wary, his eyes narrowed.

“Well, for one thing, you shouldn’t cheat our neighbors.”

“Excuse me,” His face a study of outrage but in his voice notes of defiance and satisfaction rang clear.

Evie stood. “You sold Spice.”

“We needed the money,” his gaze shifted, wouldn’t quite meet hers.

“You didn’t say he was only green broke and needed more training. That horse was no where near ready for a young rider to handle.”

He lifted one shoulder. “Let the buyer beware.”

A sick feeling settled in her gut. Evie shook the shirt she held out hard. To have a moment, steady her thoughts, she moved over to where the rest of her wet clothes hung and threw it over a free branch to dry. She drew in a breath then turned to face him again.

“Eddie Talbert was thrown.”

His face impassive, Ben didn’t say a word, showing no remorse. Her heart sank, but hope died hard and Evie prayed that some remnants of the man she’d married lay hidden under that brittle shell.

“He broke his arm.”

“He didn’t die.”

Stunned, she couldn’t hide her shock. “Ben.”

“What? I should feel sorry some little rich boy took a tumble?”

“Yes you should and accept responsibility for your part in it.”

“I didn’t put him on the horse.”

“No but you didn’t tell-”

“Drop it,” His tone stone cold.

Evie held her temper in check, just. Her fingers curled so her nails bit into her palms. “Some of Talbert’s hands were here last night.”

“Oh?” He angled his face away. “What did they want?”

“A pound of flesh? I don’t know exactly but I think you should return Mr. Talbert’s money.”

“Too bad.”

“Ben they were six men - angry, armed, men. Nothing I said satisfied them. I went in the house, shoved the table in front of the door while they rode around outside shouting threats.”

“Just trying to frighten you,” Ben dismissed her words with a wave of his hand.

Her jaw dropped. She’d been scared out of her mind with good cause. Their homestead was a good hour from the town of Cedar Ridge, the nearest neighbor miles away, unspeakable things could happen to a woman alone out here. Ben knew that.

“Well it worked. I was terrified long after they left, sat up all night with the rifle in my lap.”

“So you were fine.”

Her body went rigid with indignation. “I was not fine.” She spoke slow, precise, each word distinct. “You should have been home. I needed you.”

“I can’t be here to baby you, all the time.”

“I don’t expect that,” Anger as bitter cold as the snowmelt fed creek she stood beside knotted her insides. “But when you kick up a hornet’s nest, you should face the consequences.”

“Fine, you made your point,” The cold, hard words shook her to the core, no trace of regret in his voice. “I’m leaving, have work to do.”

“Like you did last night? And what sort of horse training is done after dark?” Bitterness, sharp and painful, seasoned her words, crafted to provoke him.

“Don’t start in again,” His gaze locked on hers. “I have to support us.”

“There are other ways.”

“Which I tried, and they earned me a tiny cabin and an almost empty barn. There’s no reward for being good, doll.”

“How about honor and self respect?”

“I’d rather have the coin.”

“If you’re so pleased with this way of life why do you need to soak yourself in whiskey?”

“I need a drink or two to unwind.”

“You were full as a tick when you finally came home.”

“That’s my business.”

Her jaw clenched. Evie looked down, brushed a bit of dust off her skirt. A breeze caressed her face, brought the scents of moss and recent rain. “I don’t want to argue.”

“Good.”

“But-”

“Evie for the love of-”

“But,” Her tone unyielding, she paused, looked up, met his gaze squarely then continued. “Things have to change.”

“Like?” His voice sounded dangerous, a confrontation itself.

“No more lying, cheating and-”

“That’s the way of the world Sweetheart.”

His sarcasm stung. “It’s wrong.”

“I do what I need to do and I will again,” He growled with conviction.

The day after Evie married, her brother and only living relative, Henry, had taken off in search of gold and she’d never heard from him again. Ben was all she had. It took no small measure of courage to stand firm.

“I won’t stand by and watch it anymore, you’re hurting these people.”

“Well you don’t have to.”

“You’ll stop?” Hope laced her voice.

“Of course.”

His voice, silky smooth, disturbed her. “That’s a sudden change of heart.”

“Maybe,” Ben moved close. “I only want,” His hand reached out, played with a loose strand of her hair, “To make you happy.”


Copyright © Lori Connelly
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The day Evie met Benjamin Rolfe, a man with an unbridled enthusiasm for life and grandiose plans to match, she knew they'd marry and live happily ever after...
Five years later, her charming rancher is now a bitter, cynical stranger with a shaky moral compass. And after too many shattered dreams, Evie no longer believes in fairy tale endings.
When they lose the homestead and head out on the open road to start a new life in Oregon, their marriage is already strained to breaking point. Can their love survive this second chance?



The Outlaw of Cedar Ridge 
is available at the following:
Amazon  Kobo  Barnes & Noble 
All Romance ebooks  Itunes

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