The paperback ended up being 177 pages. I had hoped for at least 200, but the stories write themselves and when they're done; they're done. I'm aiming to have the ebook posted on Amazon the first week of September and the paperback shortly thereafter. This release date is a month earlier than previously anticipated. My fingers are numbs from typing so much!
I've been pleased with the sales of Book One, Roth's story. I hope Book Two, Fawn's story, is as well received.
Wade opened the kitchen door and waited for Fawn to exit. Her glossy black hair in its pony tail bounced back and forth. He wanted to reach and circle his fingers around it to see if it felt as silky as it looked.
Sam bounded around the side of the house and ran straight to Fawn. She knelt and scratched him behind his ears. He barked his 'happy bark'. Wade shook his head at the dog's antics.
Fawn looked up and said, "Your land is beautiful, Wade. How many acres do you own?"
"Around two thousand, give or take. The house faces north, so we're looking south toward New Mexico; southwest is Arizona, and west is Utah. The Four Corners area is where the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah meet. We're about forty miles from there."
"It's where the Anasazi lived, correct?"
"Yes, their ancient dwellings are scattered throughout the area. I've even found some in a canyon on my own property." The minute Wade said the words; he'd wanted to take them back. If the information got leaked, he'd have archeologists and government people swarming his land. He cleared his throat and said, "Uh, Hidden Canyon is not public information and I'd like to keep it that way."
"No problem, I won't tell anyone."
"Thanks. Come on, I'll show you the stables and living quarters for the ranch hands." He walked the length of his two-story ranch house and into the blaze of a late afternoon sun setting the gradually rising western hills aglow with myriad shades of pinks and reds. His great-grandfather and grandfather had cleared the surrounding land with its outbuildings, corrals, and pastures with their own hands. He led Fawn to the stable, with Sam at her heels. He turned to Sam and ordered, "Go guard the house." Sam looked innocently at him and whined. Wade couldn't believe it. The dog never disobeyed him.
Fawn knelt before Sam again, and said, "You know you're supposed to follow Wade's orders. We'll spend time together later."
Wade's mouth dropped when Sam turned, with his tail between his legs, and slowly walked back to the house.
Leading Fawn inside the coolness of the stable, he walked to Misty Morning's stall.
Rubbing the mare's head, he said, "Hello, girl." When Fawn patted Misty's shoulder, he introduced his horse. "This is Misty Morning; I rescued her from ending up at the glue factory. She'd been mistreated and looked nothing like she does now. She's the best horse I've ever owned. I call her Misty Morning because I was driving past an old farm house at dawn and almost didn't see her because of the mist. I made some inquiries about the owner of the farm and got some bad vibes, so I went back and purchased her from the old tyrant."
"Hello, Misty Morning. I'm happy to meet you." The horse whinnied and turned her head toward Fawn.
"Looks like she's takin' a liking to you. She's usually skittish around newcomers."
"I have a way with animals."
Obviously, thought Wade as he watched Fawn lean her forehead against Misty's snout. He'd never seen his horse or his dog bond so quickly with a stranger.
Wade motioned past the stall. "We'll leave the stable through the back entrance. The kitchen building and living quarters are just past it."
Fawn gave Misty one last pat and followed him. He said, "The guys are out repairing fences, looking for strays, that kind of stuff."
Fawn chuckled, "Doing 'cowboy' stuff?"
Wade smiled. "Yeah, 'cowboy' stuff. They'll be returning in an hour for supper." He opened the door to the cafeteria style room. As if to underscore his words about supper, they heard a loud clang, and what sounded like French cursing coming from the kitchen.
Wade sighed. "Prepare yourself to meet Pierre. For the last ten years he's done nothing but complain about having to prepare 'American slop'. Every now and again, he sneaks in some fancy French dish which the guys razz him about. Pierre claims all cow hands have no 'palette discernment'. The fancy dish usually ends up being fed to the hogs." He laughed. "The hogs love Pierre."
Leading Fawn down the length of the room and past two rectangular dining tables pushed end-to-end with benches for seating, he held open a swinging door. "Hey, Pierre, watch your language, we've got company."
"Que? What? Company?"
Fawn entered the kitchen. Looking over her head, Wade saw Pierre quickly adjust his chef's hat that had fallen cockeyed across his forehead. The stubborn little man refused to cook without that damn hat, even though he was cooking for cowboys.
"Pierre Dubois, I'd like you to meet Fawn Woods. She'll be taking care of Zoe and the household."
Pierre started to roll his eyes, but caught himself. "Mademoiselle Woods, or is that Madame?" he asked with a slight bow.
"Monsieur Dubois, je suis Mademoiselle Woods."
"Oui. Je suis heureux de vous rencontrer."
Pierre's eyes rounded and his middle-aged but smooth baby features lit with a big grin. "Ah, finally, we are blessed with culture in this cowboys' den. I am happy to meet you, too."
"What's for dinner, Pierre?" Wade asked.
Pierre gave him a sour look and said, "Beans, beans, and beans, of course, but with the most heavenly cornbread in the State of Colorado. And, of course, the boring American apple pie for dessert."
"Good, I don't think the guys are ready for more Escargot," Wade laughed.