The Comanchero’s Bride by Kaye Spencer – Excerpt 3 of 3 (G) #westernromance #prairierosepubs @kayespencer
Beautiful heiress Elizabeth Bradford White is exiled to Texas with family friends until she “comes to her senses” and agrees to marry the prominent politico her parents have chosen for her. Grayson Beal is certainly not the man of her dreams—she finds him so revolting she welcomes her exile and makes a new life for herself in south Texas.
When she is approached at a fiesta by dark-eyed, handsome Mingo Valderas, she knows her heart will never be her own again. But Mingo has a checkered past—a reputation as a Comanchero, and a man who is as fast with his knives as he is with his gun. An ex-outlaw with many secrets, Elizabeth gives her trust to him, and their whirlwind courtship begins.
But Grayson Beal will stop at nothing to claim Elizabeth and her inheritance, along with the political influence her parents have. In a deadly cross-country race for her freedom, only one man stands between her and the monster who follows her. Fueled by their love and dreams of a future together, Elizabeth and Mingo stay one step ahead of Beal…but will that be enough?
EXCERPT 3 (G) [Mingo and Isabel (aka Elizabeth) are traveling south across the Texas Panhandle on horseback, and they stop at a place that holds bitter memories for Mingo.]
Mingo stared into the gray light of the minutes before sunrise. Elizabeth reined in beside him.
“What is it? Why have you stopped?”
He didn’t answer.
“Tell me.” He continued to look ahead of them. “What do you see? What do you feel?”
She turned in her saddle, looking all around. “Well, I see scattered patches of bare dirt and grass through what’s left of the snow. It looks much like what we’ve already crossed—sometimes flat, sometimes hilly. Now, with more light, the shadows look like dark, bottomless pits. But I don’t feel anything. What is this place?”
“All night, we followed along Yellow House Canyon. When the light is just right, there are yellow dirt cliffs in the canyon that, from a certain distance, give the illusion of a town.” He made a wide, sweeping gesture. “And though you cannot see it, Buffalo Springs is near. It is a good place to rest for its water and grass, but it is a place we must avoid in case someone is watching.”
“But we’re low on water. Is there another source we can use?”
“Over the ridge and down the slope.” Mingo stared straight ahead, his thoughts taking him to a dark place in his mind he didn’t like to visit. “Cañón del Rescate,” he whispered.
She sucked in a startled breath. “We talked of it the night of the fiesta.”
“It is right in front of us and yet, even after all these years, I cannot bring myself to ride into that canyon. There is still much heartache here. The sorrow weighs heavy on my shoulders.” Memories of what he’d seen still woke him at night. Desperate mothers sobbing, screaming, and pleading as their children were torn from their arms. Images of the little ones, terrified, helpless and hopeless in their plight, others staring through lifeless eyes where they lay in the dirt, casualties of wanton killing.
“It is always with me.”
Isabel placed a hand on his arm. “Tell me, please.”
“It was many, many years ago. I was here with two compadres. We had cattle and horses to trade. Many guns and ammunition, and whiskey. We were young and without a care, and with no consideration to the lives of others. It was the first time—my only time—to come here. I considered myself an important man, but I was only a boy.” His laugh was a harsh, self-deprecating sound to his ears. “I soon learned what it was to be a man.”
Details he’d banished returned now. “I had heard of the women and children, but I could not believe it. Then, when I saw for myself that it was true—what some Comancheros were really trading…demanding ransoms for…” His words faded. He exhaled on a ragged breath. “It was terrible to choose. There were so many, and I could do so little. So very little.”
Cañón del Rescate (Ransom Canyon) is now a community just outside of Lubbock, Texas, but back when The Comanchero’s Bride takes place, it was a favored location for the ransoming (selling/trading) of captives between the Comanche and the Comancheros.
Until next time,
Writing through history one romance upon a time