A Lady in Defiance
Book One By Heather Frey Blanton
Copyright 2012 Heather Blanton
The San Juan Mountain Range!
The end of their conversation was interrupted by a commotion outside. Naomi heard Hannah squeal in fright and both she and Mr. McIntyre bolted for the door. Together, they exploded through the bat wings to find three, mud-encrusted miners playing keep-away with Hannah’s bonnet. She and Rebecca sat, clinging to each other, in the wagon and shrilly demanding the return of the hat. [THAT’S MY GIRL; FEARLESS AND BRASH. SHE HEARD HER SISTERS SCREAM AND NOTHING WAS GOING TO STOP HER FROM GETTING TO THEM.]
“Gentleman!” Mr. McIntyre’s commanding voice stopped the horse play cold. “That will be enough.”
A grotesquely fat man with jiggling jowls caught the last pass of the bonnet and pressed it innocently to his grimy chest, as if it belonged to him in the first place. Furious beyond description, Naomi stomped towards the man and shoved him with all the ferociousness she could muster in her small frame. “Get away from my sisters!”
The man’s eyes widened in shock at the violence of the attack then a huge grin split his face, revealing rotten, yellowed teeth swimming in tobacco juice. Naomi’s stomach threatened to rebel, but her anger overcame it and she snatched the bonnet from his dirty, fat hands. [I CAN ONLY IMAGINE HOW BAD MEN MUST HAVE SMELLED BACK THEN.]
“Whew, ain’t she a spunky one,” the man joked, spitting on the ground. “I’ll be your first customer, angel.”
Before she could respond, Mr. McIntyre stepped between them and put a hand on the fat man’s chest. “Be about your business, Sam. These girls are none of your affair.” Naomi didn’t miss the lowered tone in his voice and the way he looked around the street. The commotion threatened to draw a crowd and apparently Mr. McIntyre did not want that to happen. “You and your boys come back tonight and I’ll give you one on the house,” he looked at the other two men, just as grimy as the first. “Now, go on. I’m sure you’ve got some place to be. Doesn’t your shift start soon?” [MCINTYRE PICKS HIS BATTLES CAREFULLY THROUGHOUT THE BOOK. CALCULATING OUTCOMES IS ONE OF HIS GIFTS.]
Grudgingly, the three ambled away muttering something about she-devils while throwing dirty looks over their shoulders. The slowing sea of on-lookers picked up speed again, convinced there was nothing else to watch. Still, eyes stayed trained on Hannah and Rebecca in the wagon till necks wouldn’t twist anymore.
Fighting for calm, Naomi forced her heart to slow, but the anger did not want to surrender. “Are you all right, Hannah?”
Flushed with color and blue-eyes as wide as half-dollars, Hannah nodded weakly. Tucking a wayward gold strand of hair behind her ear, she reached for her bonnet. “They didn’t hurt us−”
“But they scared us to death,” Rebecca interjected breathlessly.
“I’m very sorry, ladies,” Mr. McIntyre apologized from behind Naomi. “Beautiful women are as rare as elephants in Defiance, especially ones who don’t work for me.”
Naomi spun on him. “Yes, I noticed you cleared that right up.” She hoped her sarcasm was palpable, she was so irate with him. “You said the hotel is ours. We don’t work for you. We shook hands on it.” [I WAS HOPING THAT READERS WOULD GET THE SENSE THAT NAOMI IS HANGING ON BY A THREAD. SHE’S JUST LOST HER HUSBAND AND FEELS AN INCREDIBLE RESPONSIBILITY TO KEEP HER SISTERS SAFE. BEING THE WATCHDOG IN A FAMILY IS WEARISOME AND, EVENTUALLY, SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE.]
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