Excerpt 1 of 2 (G) – The Gunfighter’s Woman by Kaye Spencer #paranormalwesternromance #PrairieRosePubs #westernromance
Ghost riders in the sky…
Those five words conjure vivid images for me, not the least of which is ‘Slade’s Last Ride’ scene from the 2007 movie, Ghostrider, with Nicolas Cage and Sam Elliott.
The song, (Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend, was written by Stan Jones and released on June 5, 1948. The song is considered the Number 1 country music song of all time (according to the eminently reliable site, Wikipedia: ‘Stan Jones’). The story of The Gunfighter’s Woman was inspired by this old country song.
“We have to leave. Your horse is still on the other side. We can ride my horse to the ranch.” She pointed to her horse, Samson, and immediately felt silly for the gesture since the man’s eyes were clamped shut in a grimace of teeth-gritted pain.
Lightning slashed the sky with an explosion of thunder that shook air and Earth and deafened ears. The man came off the ground in a lunge, feet planted wide, and his attention fixed on the black billowing cloudbank rolling along McBride Mesa to the west. Mesmerized, Brenna stared at the clouds as they transformed into a mighty herd of cattle stampeding along the mesa’s rim. As she watched, the herd curved east, dipping low along the ancient stone wall and then soaring into the sky. The herd doubled-back with the sinuous motion of a Chinese dragon in an undulating journey from ground to towering clouds and back down again.
On the second pass, the cloud-herd swung south and swooped down from Trinchera Pass, passing overhead on a blast of scorching wind. Brenna flinched and ducked as the lead steers overtook them. Samson snorted, bolted, but she held fast to his reins. Eyes blazing with the fires of Hell, the herd pounded the air with steely hooves on peal after peal of thunder as it swung out north across the prairie to come charging low over Pine Canyon on the east.
Then, the clouds split open into a sandy ravine that cut a wide, ragged path to a range in the heavens. Brenna felt their breath in a whoosh of hot wind and saw their black horns glistening and brands flaming with each lightning blaze as the ghost herd plowed up that draw.
“No! Not going. They’re not taking me!”
“What is that?”
The man snaked an arm around Brenna’s waist and tossed her to the saddle then swung up behind her. “Hang on!” Clamping one arm around her middle, he grabbed the saddle horn with his other hand, and slapped spurs to Samson.
The horse reared, leaped, and came down at a dead run, ears flattened against his head, and his neck stretched out. A mournful, skin-prickling cry cut through the air. Hot wind whipped their clothes; lightning-scorched air left an acrid Sulphur stench in its wake. Brenna twisted to look behind. The sight coming at them was terrifying and fascinating. Hurdling from the midst of the churning maelstrom of boiling black clouds came spectral cowboys riding hard and fast after the phantom herd on hollow-eyed, fire-snorting skeleton horses pawing the air as they roared toward them. A low keening wail rose on the wind.
Matthewwwww Matthewwwww Caddockkkkkkk.
The man warned, “Close your eyes! Don’t look!”
But Brenna couldn’t look away from the spectral cowboys charging over them, their gaunt eyes staring from fire-flaming faces as they swung around and away in their relentless pursuit of the ghost herd. Rain burst from the clouds; hail peppered down. A blast of frigid wind hit them broadside, bringing the eerie sound of a shrill whinny as the man’s horse bounded up and out of the creek. The man grabbed a tighter hold around her, and she held onto the saddle pommel with both hands to keep her seat.
The man let Samson have his head, and they raced across the prairie and through the open gates of the ranch compound at full tilt…
writing through history one romance upon a time
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