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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: December 28, 2018      Views: 156
Prologue 1 2 3 4 5... 

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Catherin Elizabet Belle, also a pseudonym. She is retired. She enjoys living in Florida where there is plenty of sea, sun and sand.

Ms Belle enjoys her research and creating poetry, novels, and short stories.

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Chapter 1 of the book Gun For Hire
Arrives in Santa Fe
"Spring Arrives in the North" by Catherin Elizabet Belle

Entering the hotel, Jeb saunters up to the desk turning the register around signs in just as the clerk returns from the back. "Howdy, what can I do for you?"

"Be needin' a room. That one up front will do." Old habits die hard, always covering his back looking on the street was just one way. Between the war and selling my gun arm I stayed alive by being cautious.

Jeb had signed Cal's name first on the register then his own. Hearing the raucous laughter he glances toward the other room and sees old men sitting around a table. Must be the old ranch hands sharing a beer.

"Deputy Calder, that'll be 4 bits up front."

Grinning, "That's my partner." Sticking out his hand, "Names Jeb Smith, Marshal out of Fort Stockton. Some folks call me Texas, suit yorself." Pausing he says, "We'll be here a couple of days. Where's a good place to get a steak, maybe a beer."

Taking Jeb's hand in a friendly gesture, "Thar's a couple of places, the restaurant here and the cantina at the edge of town."

Jeb nods. "The key." Taking the key from the clerk he moves up the stairs a bedroll under each arm. Unlocking the door tossing stuff on the bed, he strides to the window looking out on the street. Off on the north edge of town where they rode in, Jeb spies a dust devil whipping across the land tumbleweeds scattering in its bluster. He sees a few riders up and down the dusty road knowing it will get busier as the sun moves closer to the western horizon; drovers coming in off the range for a night of cards and 'who shot john'[whiskey]. Just as he is turning away he notices Cal leaving the telegraph office heading toward the hotel. Deciding to meet him downstairs he picks up his hat moves out the door and down the stairs. Reaching the bottom step he hears Cal ask for a tub and hot water to be sent to the room. He grins as he hears the clerk protest.

"No. No, bath. Go down the street to the barber shop."

Jeb roars with laughter as he hears Cal, "Senor, you will provide a tub and hot water in the room within the hour." He slaps a five dollar gold piece on the counter, "In an hour."
He's still laughing when he approaches the front desk tipping his hat to Cal his eyes twinkling with mirth. He watches with amused interest as the clerk's protests die his face turning red as he gushes, "Si. Si. Senor! Muy Pronto." Dashing toward the back he calls. "Maria! Juan! Muy pronto!"

"Well, Senor Calder, I reckon you'll get your bath." Jeb dodges as Cal takes a poke at him.

While his face reveals nothing he sees the same glint piercing the green eyes he knows stems from Apache training; and most assuredly spells trouble down the road for him. With evil intent in his voice, "Seeenor Caaalder, I will wash your back."

Patting the pistol at his side then sticking thumbs in the gun belt as thought waiting for him to make the move. In a harsh voice, "Think again, Cowboy?" Cal's comment garners attention from the old ranchers in the next room who stop their palavering expecting trouble any second. The old codgers shake their heads as the two lawmen walk out the door laughing.

Standing on the boardwalk Jeb lights a ceegar. "I'll see to the mustangs then wash up at the barber shop, meet you back here in an hour."

"Sure, Jeb, that'll be about time to meet up with the sheriff here in Santa Fe for that beer he promised." Cal reenters the hotel as Jeb takes the reins of the horses walking toward the livery. The clerk and young Spaniard are taking a tub in the room. Cal smiles, I will have my bath. Can't remember the last time I didn't wash up in the crick. Gonna be right nice; yup right nice.

As he enters the room a Mexican Senora is pouring hot water into the tub. "Si Senor! The water is muy caliente. Can I be of further service?"

Smiling, "No Senora. Muchas Gracias." As they leave the room Cal locks the door leaving the key. He knows that sometimes the clerk and others will peak through the keyhole. No one needs to know that Cal is Catherin Calder. Not yet!

As Cal slips into the tub of hot water, he slides lower where the it covers him to the shoulders. Picking up the soap the sweet lavender fragrance recalls to memory of when Cal was not mascaraing as a man. Remembering the time Cat's mother splashed Lilac waters and how fast she skedaddled out with the herd where one of the new hands hee-hawed at the smell. The rest of the drovers warned him, but he was slow on the uptake. If her Pa hadn't stepped between them, she would have shot him. The drovers hurrahed; and it was a long time before they let him forget it. A tear slipped out; the first she could recall ever letting fall. She had been Cal Calder, a deputy so long she didn't believe Catherin Cahill of the Bar C ever was.

"Ah, hell." Cal steps out of the tub, opens his bedroll taking out his good buckskins dressing. Making sure the flaming red hair of Catherin Calder is tucked under his sombrero he leaves the hotel.

Jeb and the sheriff are headed her way. "Howdy. You two lawmen ready for that beer I promised you?"

Cal grins. "Hell sheriff we retired."

Taking his hat off wiping his brow he says, "Nope! Not according to Sheriff Bart Rudd. Telegrapher just brought a wire from him, said you were on a well-earned leave after a job well done."

Stopping in middle stride he says, "What the hell? I resigned." Shaking his head, Cal moves on toward the Cantina at the end of the street unaware of the dust kicked up by a rider heading back to the home ranch.

"Well now Son, I don't reckon I knowed much about that." Handing the paper to him, "Read it for yorself."

Sure nuff he is still deputy at Fort Davis. "Well, I'll be damned." Looking at Jeb, "Bart don't listen to well."

Jeb burst out in laughter, "I'll be danged! You thought you were gonna be ranching." Slapping Cal on the shoulder he moves down the street.

"Whoa, thar Marshal, You better read this one." The sheriff's eyes are glistening with unusual delight as he watches disbelief spread across Jeb's weather beaten face.

Jeb looks at Cal handing him the wire. "How the hell did he know I was returning to the territory?" The cool air moves off the prairie sending little swirls of dust flitting around the three lawmen standing outside the cantina.

Without saying a word Cal reaches into the pocket of his buckskin pulls out a piece of paper passes it over to Jeb. "Hell! Bart must have sent a wire to Stockton."

Standing in the dusty street filled with horses trotting by the Sheriff of Santa Fe slaps both men on the shoulders. "Like I said I'm buying you two LAWMEN a beer."

Stepping through the batwings at the cantina he steps up to the bar. "Set em up, three beers." Picking up the mugs, the sheriff sits at a table in the corner with his back to the wall. He don't expect trouble, but a lawman's gotta be ready. There's a poker game going a couple of tables over, the usual bunch of local drovers. As the Senora approaches, "Senora, frijoles, bistec, tortillas; Tres. Por favor."

"Si Senor Sheriff." The Senora moves toward the kitchen through a door at the end of the bar.

As the lawmen sip their beers a guitarrista strolls through the cantina the strains of musica filtering in the night air, a pleasant balada.

As the senora and senorita set plates of hot food on the table. Cal responds as does the sheriff. "Muchas gracias." Jeb lagging a tad says nothin'. With that laughter erupts as they chow down. Not much is said as they devour the food before them. Finishing up the sheriff orders three more beers; gulping his in a couple of slugs. "Boys, gotta make my rounds. You staying?"

With a nod from Cal, Jeb says, "A day or two Sheriff. Thanks for the grub and beer."

With that he gets up, nods to the bartender, and moves out the door into the night air.
It's late when Cal and Jeb head for the hotel. The air moving off the mountains has a chill. In the distance a lone coyote's howl echoes through the night calling his mate. The smell of sage permeates the air. Stars light up the ebony sky as the moon spreads a pale-yellow glow across the prairie leaving parts of the streets and buildings in shadows. The two hombres listen to the faint strains of the balada from the cantina as the raucous saloon in the hotel drowns out the guitarrista. Stepping up on the porch "Jeb, think I like the Spanish ballads better than that pianee."

Moving through the lobby and up the stairs he hears "The howl of the lonesome coyote sounds better."

Cal turns to look at Jeb seeing the seriousness glinting from his dark eyes, "Yeah! Being out on the prairie, that's the life." Taking his gun belt off, he lays it on the floor unrolling the bedroll spreads it out near the wall opposite the door. Pulling off his boots laying them at one end he sits.

Jeb knowed what he'll say but asks, "You using the bed, Cal?"

Grinning replies, "Tried it, too soft."

Stretching out on top where every time he moves it sways as a rockin' chair. Jeb has spent more time sleeping on the ground than in a bed since he went off with Terry's Texas Rangers to fight for the Confederacy. Thinking on the wire he read earlier. Sure changes things. Guess ranching ain't gonna be. Thought I was tired of selling my gun arm. Hell! It was near dawn, and he had yet to close his eyes just hearing the creek of the springs with every breath. He asks, "Cal, you sleep."

Lying on his back with his hands under his head he hears the serious tone in Jeb's voice. Cal had been awake listening most of the night. He answers, "Nope. Sumthing on your mind?"

The quiet sounds of the early morning when the nocturnal animals cease their hunt and even the coyotes have gone to their lair. The rattle of the springs echoes through the quiet night. Low as though talking to his self, "Back at the line shack I told you I fought for the Confederacy and when I came home my parents were dead and the ranch belonged to someone else."

"Yeah, I recall." Cal waits in the darkness of the room with the waning rays of the giant orb sinking in the western sky curtains swaying in the wind for Jeb to continue.

The book continues with Rescue. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.
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