Monthly Archives: November 2013

Redeeming Love

Nell Shaw watched Dr. Sterling Graham run down the street headed to the business district. Gunshots had brought them from the exam room where the nurse and doctor had been inventorying supplies. Sterling had grabbed his medical bag and run from the clinic yelling that his wife Lydia and youngest children were there shopping and for her to prepare the clinic in case there were injured.

Nell went back to the exam room and pulled bandages, needles, cat gut along with various other items which might be needed. She threaded a number of needles then placed them into a bowl of carbolic acid. Once everything was prepared all she could do was wait. No that wasn’t all. She could pray and she bowed her head and began to do so.

Footsteps pounded up the steps and the screen door slammed. Nell stepped from the exam room nearly stumbling back as two men carrying a man’s shoulders and another his legs pushed into the room followed by one with a gun. All had the lower half of their faces covered with dirty bandanas.

“Come on girly. You’re gonna fix Dale up and quick,” the man with the gun said as he grabbed her arm in a tight grip.

“What? Who?” Nell stuttered. She looked as the men placed the injured and bloody man on the exam table.

“Zeb, we don’t have time for this just bring her with us,” Dale said as he struggled to get off the table. “Bring the girl with us. She can fix me up at the hideout.”

“Good thinkin’ boss. Hey, take Dale out and get him on his horse. I’ll bring the girl,” Zeb instructed. As soon as the other men had cleared the room Zeb shook Nell and said, “You gather up the supplies you need quick like.” He shoved Nell further into the room.

“No, you have to wait for the doctor. He’ll…”

“We ain’t waiting for no one. The tin star knows one of us was shot. They’ll be comin’ here next. And we ain’t gonna get caught that easy. Get goin’.”

Nell saw the look of a caged animal in his eyes and began selecting what she might need to treat the wound. Putting everything in a satchel she looked quickly around the room and saw a bottle of morphine on the shelf of the medicine cabinet. She took it placing it carefully between layers of bandages. The entire time she’d been praying that no one would come to the clinic. She had a feeling that these men wouldn’t care if they shot someone else.

Zeb grabbed Nell by the arm and dragged her from the room and down the hall out the door. The rest of the men were mounted on horseback. Zeb threw Nell up onto his saddle then mounted behind her. “Let’s ride. They can’t be far behind us.”

With that the men of Diamond Dale’s gang kicked their horses into a gallop heading from Cottonwood as fast as they could.


Aggie Cuttler knelt beside Eustace Taylor, the Cottonwood Bank owner, assessing his injury. Blood was flowing from his upper chest, the coppery smell assailing her nose. “Someone get me something to staunch the blood and go get Doc Graham.”

Someone handed her a piece of fabric and as she pressed it to the wound realized it was a woman’s petticoat with the price tag still on it. She looked up and saw Mabel Johnson, wife of the All Purpose Store owner, and knew it hadn’t been sold. Mabel was just that good. She wouldn’t care that it was new merchandise, it was needed so she supplied it.

Aggie pressed hard against the bullet hole and was relieved it was too high to involve the heart or lungs. “Doc’ll be here soon, Eustace. Ya’ll be hurtin’ some for a time but ya gonna live. Not time for ya, ya old coot to go home yet. Reckon y’all just have to live with Beulah a bit longer.”

“Thanks Aggie, you old biddy.” Eustace’s voice was strained.

Sterling knelt beside Aggie then. “So Aggie isn’t going to let you die, huh?”

Aggie told him what she knew of the injury never taking her hand from the wound. “Yous here now so I’m a gonna go get Beulah and meet ya at the clinic. She’s gonna be mighty scared. What you know of Lydia and the chillin’s? They okay?”

Sterling’s hand took over pressing on the folded petticoat and Aggie picked up her shotgun. “The children are with Ella. I’m going to help Sterling.” Aggie let out a breath of relief as she heard Lydia’s voice. Lydia was a child of Aggie’s heart when she helped the young woman escape from her abusive brother. She had helped the girl during the years between her parents’ deaths until she’d left. Then Aggie had followed her to Cottonwood when Lydia and Sterling were expecting their first baby which had turned out to be twins.

“Praise be. Now I’ll go and get to Beulah before someone else tells her he’s dead.” Aggie hugged Lydia and began heading up the street. Just then screaming could be heard and Eustace’s wife came running throwing herself onto his body wailing.

“Oh my love, my love. Don’t leave me. I’ll be lost without you. Please Lord, don’t take him.”

“Beulah,” Sterling said sternly. “Get off him. He’s going to be okay but won’t be if you squash him to death.”

“Well, I don’t know why you would say that, Sterling. I can still fit into my wedding gown after all these years.” Beulah huffed a little but pulled herself from pressing all her weight on her husband.

“Thank you, my dear. Yes, I’m going to be all right they tell me. Now let Sterling finish so he can get me to the clinic to get this da… bullet out of my shoulder.”

“Sterling, we’ve got the door off Eustace’s office. We can carry him on that.”

Aggie looked and saw Pastor Peter Lendrey and his son Rye approaching. “Ya’ll have good heads on them shoulders.”

As Peter, Sterling and Rye arranged Eustace on the door Marshall Drew Richards stepped up. “You alright to talk to be some Eustace?”

“Yeah.” Eustace moaned when he settled his shoulder onto the door.

“Can you tell me what happened?”

“I’d sent the teller out for lunch and so was in the bank alone. I heard the door open and stepped out of my office. There were four, no five men with their faces covered and guns pointed straight at me. They told me to empty the cash drawer so I did. Then they told me to open the safe. I told them since I was old I couldn’t remember the combination and needed to get it out of my pocket.”

“How could they believe such a lie, you’re not old,” Beulah broke in.

“Our youngest is the mother of children, Beulah, we are old.”

“Humph speak for yourself, Eustace, I’m only thirty-five.”

Eustace chucked, “Maggie is thirty-six, Beulah. How can you be thirty-five?”

“It’s impolite to comment on a ladies age Eustace.”

“Getting back to the robbery,” Drew said.

“Yes, as I was saying, I told them I needed to get the combination out of my pocket. I always carry my Derringer.”

“You carry a gun, Eustace?” Beulah squealed

“Yes, dear, always.”

Aggie saw Eustace glance at Drew and placed a restraining hand on Beulah’s arm. “Let him finish, then we can take him to the clinic and get the bullet out.”

“Anyway,” Eustace started again, “I pulled the Derringer out and aimed it at the man I figured was the leader. Just as I pulled my trigger he must have too. I think I hit him in the chest too.”

All eyes turned toward Aggie at the sound of a cocking shotgun. “Nell,” she yelled and took off at a run leaving everyone behind.


Aggie raced across the yard and vaulted the steps as if there was only one. She slammed the screen door open yelling for Nell. There was no answer. Then Aggie saw drops of blood on the floor. Dashing into the exam room, more blood was on the table, but Nell wasn’t there. Aggie’s heart began to hammer. Five men had taken her girl. Aggie gritted her teeth. She was going to get her away from them. When she’d rescued Nell from her polecat of a father, she had promised to keep her safe. Now she was going to rescue her from the evil men who’d taken her.

With determined steps, Aggie ran back out of the clinic heading for the livery stable. She might not be as good as her brother Nugget Nate. Once she had a horse she would track em and make the slimy slugs pay for their sins. She slammed into Marshall Drew as he was coming in the door. “They got her Drew. They’ve got my girl.”

“ I know Aggie just settle down. I’ll get a posse together and we’ll go get them.”

“You do what ya gotta, Drew Richards but I’ll have them skunks buried afer you get outta town.”

“Aggie you know that isn’t how it works. We have to do this legal.”

“You ken do it legal, this is family. I’s gonna do it mounta’n and iffen you get in my way yer gonna wish ya hadn’t.”

As Aggie and Drew reached the livery stable the sound of the train whistle was heard and automaticly both sets of eyes turned toward the depot. Both of them recognized the fancy private Pullman and cattle car at the end of the short train.

“Glory be, he done been called again,” Aggie yelled changing direction and heading toward the car.

“Nate, you get yer sorry behind down here and help me. I be needin ya.” Aggie ran and jumped onto the platform of the Pullman. She pulled the door open and her jaw dropped. “Nathan.”

“Hi, Aunt Aggie.” Instead of her brother, Aggie’s great nephew stood in front of here just as tall and handsome as Nate had been in his younger days.

“Where’s that no account brother of mine? We got a need fer his trackin skills.”

She pushed past Nathan yelling, “Nate, I need ya now get out here. They done took my Nell.”

Nathan grabbed his aunt by the arm. “Who took Nell, Aggie?”

It was then that Aggie noticed Nathan wore two guns in a strange rig tied low on the right side and had the badge of a US Marshall attached to his chest.

Tears began to form in her eyes “Some low down dirty bank robbers that’s who. Now get yer Gran’pa out here boy so we can go it her back.”

“Nate can’t help ya, Aggie.”

“Boy you don’t wanna cross me right now get him.”

She saw Nathan’s eyes begin to tear and she knew without him saying it what his next words would be.

“Nate ain’t with us, Aggie. He went home last year.”

All the wind went out of her and she felt tired and lost. “What? That can’t be I need him and the pullman is here. It had to be his callin.”


“Yes, Nate had the gift. He’d get this feelin’ and know he had to be somewhere. Iffen he’s gone why are ya here?”

“I just felt I had to be here so we came to see you and Nell. I’ve got some things I need to talk with Peter about too.”

“You can talk to him later right now I need ya and ya came so get yer sorry butt on whatever horse you got in that there cattle car and let’s go get our Nell back.”

“I thought you said she was nothing to you,” came a female voice from behind Nathan.

Aggie pushed her way inside to see a striking figure of a woman with the reddest hair and greenest eyes she had ever seen standing with fire in them, hands on hips facing her great-nephew.

“Aggie let me introduce you to my wife, Grace.”

“How do you do Mrs. Cuttler? It is a pleasure to finally meet Nathan’s great aunt.”

“It’s just Aggie honey, after all yous family. I want to get ta know ya but right now I needs yer man ta help me get my girl back. We’ll talk later.”

“Yes, of course.” Aggie watched as the girl turned to her nephew. “Go do what your great-aunt told you to Nathan. We can talk about this later.”

“Of course Grace you’re right everything else will have to wait.”

With that Nathan grabbed his Stetson and headed for the other end of the pullman.

“Hurry up boy, yer lettin’ them get too much of a start on us. I want Nell home by dark ya hear chater me.”

“Yes ma’am. I’ll meet ya outside in a few minutes.”

“Well iffen you ain’t out there when I get a horse, I ain’t waitin on ya,” Aggie yelled after him.

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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Book samples


The Complete Armor of God

God’s Champion

When we are talking about the armor of God, the Biblical text that comes to everyone’s mind is Ephesians 6:11-17 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The first thing we need to realize is that the armor is God’s, not ours. I have heard sermons preached that make this sound like it’s a gift God has given to you but it’s not. It’s always has been HIS ARMOR. Why is that an important distinction, you may be wondering? The answer comes when we look at biblical history.

In Bible times it was customary for kings to choose a champion to fight for them in battle. The champion would wear the king’s armor and any battles that were won by the champion were attributed to the king, not to the warrior in the king’s armor.  This was the reason that Saul tried to clothe David in his armor in 1Samuel 17:38&39 So Saul clothed David with his armor, and he put a bronze helmet on his head; he also clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David fastened his sword to his armor and tried to walk, for he had not tested them. And David said to Saul, ‘I cannot walk with these, for I have not tested them.” So David took them off’.”

God would not allow David to wear Saul’s armor. God made him uncomfortable in Saul’s armor because David was God’s champion, not Saul’s. Why is this of importance to us? When we put on the armor of God we are operating as God’s Champion in the world. We put on His armor and fight, for God, against His enemies in the spiritual battle for the people of this world.

It is for this reason that Paul says, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual host of wickedness in heavenly places.” He is reminding people that once you have put on God’s armor, you only fight against the armor owner’s enemies. Furthermore, the armor’s owner gets the credit for every victory you accomplish.

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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Book samples


Prayer Walking



If you are reading this book, then it would be safe to surmise that you are either interested in or are beginning to prayer walk for your community.  For me, it has done much to further my relationship with God; and it has become a cornerstone to any spiritual warfare for a community that I am involved in.

In this book, I will explain the types of prayer walking that I have experience with and share the guidelines and Scriptural foundation for each of them.  I will also share my personal experiences in this method of prayer and spiritual warfare.  I hope that, as you read this book, you will be encouraged to make prayer walking a part of your personal time with God and be strengthened in your own prayer walking journey.

I want to encourage you that as you begin to prayer walk to journal your experience and the results of each experience you have.  If you wish, I would love to hear about your experiences.  You can contact me through my website or email, both of which are found in the back of this book.

This book will talk about the history and the types of personal and corporate prayer walks.  It will show you the spiritual concepts behind prayer walking and give you some guidelines in getting started.

Finally, I want to say that this book is not the rules of prayer walking nor do I necessarily believe that what I am sharing is the only way to prayer walk.  I hope it will be a springboard for getting more of God’s people walking and praying.  Should you decide to prayer walk, be open in walking and praying to the leading of God and the Holy Spirit.

Just because something isn’t listed here or anywhere else as a way of prayer walking, it doesn’t make it wrong.  While on your prayer walking journey, listen to God and follow what He lays on your heart to do and how to do it.  This will give you an effective prayer walking life.  In the next little bit, I want to share my own personal story with prayer walking and some of the documented data of prayer walks that I have been able to find in both the history of the world and the church.

I was introduced to prayer walking a little over fifteen years ago through a pastor I was working with.  I was a youth minister in a small inner-city church plant and out of the blue one day my senior pastor said, “Hey, I would like for you to go on a prayer walk with me.”  I asked what that was and he told me that every day he walked a part of the city and prayed over it.

I had never even heard of such a thing before but was intrigued and so went along and was sold on it.  We started to walk together almost every weekday.  At times he would be sick and I would walk alone.  Other times I would be ill or involved with the ministry out of town (youth ministry, remember).  I became consumed by the idea and over the next four years began to try to find out more about this interesting concept.

I started by asking my senior pastor friend about how he came up with the idea.  He told me that it was mentioned in a conference he had attended.  He couldn’t remember who the speaker was that mentioned it and he had taken no classes on it.   However, he had met another pastor at the conference that thought it would be easy to do and they had started walking together there at the conference.  When he returned to his church where he was the youth pastor, he started walking a part of the city and asking God to work in the city.

For me that was how prayer walking started.  To be honest, he and I did more relationship building with each other than praying; but every couple of blocks, one of us would add a quick prayer for God to work in our city.  How I do prayer walks these days and what I know about prayer walking has certainly grown since that simple beginning.

I am a person who wants to know as much about a subject as I can, so I began to look for any references to prayer walking that I could find.  I also continued to walk; and as I learned, I implemented what I was learning into my walks.  Soon my calling led me away from that inner-city ministry and into north central Florida.  Prayer walking was a part of my ministry everywhere I went from those first simple walks on.  I even began to learn from things that were happening in my prayer walks.

Soon I was asked to start a small church and prayer walking became the foundation that I started that church on.  I walked every day that we were in that ministry for four years.  I will admit that by the end of those four years my prayer walks did not even resemble what they had started with.  I did not simply walk and ask God to work in my community.  I learned how to conduct a walk focused and targeted on spiritual warfare for the community God had placed me in.

At the end of four years, I became the revival pastor of another church; and prayer walking as a part of a concerted spiritual warfare campaign to bring revival was the key to what I did.  Now after fifteen years, God has led me into a ministry that is all about prayer walking.  I still hold awakening services but only if I am allowed time of prayer walking the community as part of that awakening.  I will not speak in a forum that I don’t at least get an hour or two to walk and war over the venue before a word is preached.

I teach prayer walking now speaking not from just book knowledge but personal sweat equity and spiritual groaning and travail.  I couple that teaching with hands-on learning by taking groups on prayer walks and conducting debriefing sessions afterwards.

From here on out, I will be sharing what I have learned and experienced in the realm of prayer walking over the years.  Let us start with some of the history of prayer walking my research allowed me to find.

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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Book samples


Redeeming Reputation

Chapter One

“Nobody move! This is a hold up!” Those words woke David Nathaniel Ryder the Third from a deep sleep. As he opened his eyes, he saw two men with bandanas covering the lower parts of their faces. Each had a sixgun pointed at one side or the other of the train car Nathan and his fellow travelers occupied.

“Now this will all be over in a minute if no one tries to play hero. I want you to take any weapons you have on you and put them in the bag my partner is coming around with. Then take everything of value that you have and place it in this bag. Just do as you’re told and we’ll all get out of this without a problem.”

The shorter of the two began to walk up the aisle collecting weapons from the men in the passenger car. When he got to Nathan he stopped. “Come on, gambler, I know you have a gun somewhere. It’s either in an arm holster or a hidey on your arm.”

Nathan held up his Bible, “I believe you are mistaken, sir. I am not a gambler. I am a Minister of the Gospel on my way to the New Mexico Territory to work on a circuit.”

“If you’re one of those Bible thumpin’ preachers, why are you dressed all fancy like a gambler? I weren’t born yesterday, mister. I may not be a church goer, but I seen a few preachers and they dress plain and simple. Who you tryin’ to fool? Now hand over your piece.” The outlaw thrust the gunnysack at Nathan.

“I assure you I am indeed a preacher. These are the clothes I left New York in. I have not yet had a chance to change my attire into something more western.”

“You assure me, do you? You talk like one of those rich businessmen from New York. Maybe you’re carrying a lot of money.”

The taller outlaw noticed the commotion. “What’s the holdup, Shorty?”

“This here fella claims to have no weapon. He dresses like a gambler or fancy businessman, but says he’s a preacher headed for the territory. I think he’s a lying, Slim.”

The taller outlaw, called Slim, stepped closer and looked Nathan up and down.

“Well, Shorty, I agree he don’t much look like a preacher. What’s your name, Preacher?”

“David Nathaniel Ryder the Third.”

“That name sounds familiar to me. I think I heard about a rich preacher in New York named Ryder.”

Now it was Nathan’s turn to sigh. He had hoped not to have to admit to being the son of the most prominent preacher in New York. “That would be my father.”

“Shorty, he really is a preacher. He don’t have a weapon on him, but I bet he is loaded with cash. How about it, Preacher? Don’t your Bible say something about giving to the poor? I think you should hand over your money to us poor men right now.” Slim held out his gunny sack while pointing his gun straight at Nathan’s face.

Nathan reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a money pouch filled with gold double eagles. He opened the pouch and showed the contents to the outlaws. “This is all the money I have in my pockets. I will give it to you under one condition. You take it and leave all these other people alone. After all, this is more money than you will probably get from all of them combined”.

Slim looked Nathan in the eye and laughed. “I don’t think you understand the situation here, Preacher. I’m in charge, not you. Now put that money bag in my sack and sit down before I put a bullet in your noggin.”

Nathan thought about it for a minute. He knew with the training his grandfather had given him, he could defeat these two. However, he wasn’t sure he could do it without causing one of the other passengers to get hurt. He slowly put his money bag in Slim’s sack and sat back down.

Slim turned away from him and took in the other passengers. “Well, the good preacher has made his contribution to our poor box today. Now it’s time for the rest of you to do so. I want all jewelry, cash and anything else of value put in this sack as I come to you.”

With Shorty standing by the door just behind Nathan, Slim approached each passenger. They slowly dropped their valuables into the sack. Everything was going perfectly until Slim got to a pretty, dark haired mother and her young son. As he was collecting her money, he noticed a gold cross necklace she was trying to hide inside her dress.

“Lady, I said all your valuables. Now give me that necklace.”

Slim reached out to yank it off her neck and as he did so, her son, seeing the masked man reaching for his mother, reacted. “Leave my Mama alone!”

He grabbed Slim’s arm and bit him on the hand as hard as he could. Slim reacted without thinking and slammed his sixgun up against the side of the child’s head. The blow sent the boy flying, to land two seats down the aisle. Blood began pooling under the child’s head.

Shorty stepped towards the action, his pistol moving back and fourth, looking for any reactions from the passengers. Nathan watched in anger as the mother gave up her necklace and rushed to her son. He knew he had to do something. Just as he was about to rush Shorty, one of his Grandfather Nate’s stories came to his mind. It was a story about using Indian stealth and cunning to outwit several outlaws who wanted his gold.

He stood slowly and walked towards Slim. “You do not listen too well, do you, hooligan?”

Slim spun toward him, thrusting his gun at Nathan. “Whatcha talking about, Preacher?”

“I told you that was all the money I had on me. I never said it was all the money I had. I am escorting an offering to the New Mexico Territory from my father’s church for a mission project to the Mexican people.

“Why don’t you and your companion come with me, collect that strong box and leave these people alone?” Nathan motioned towards the baggage car behind him.

Slim, greed shining in his eyes, motioned to Shorty. “Well, Shorty, since the eastern preacher is so willing to part with his cash, why don’t you just take him to the baggage car and empty that strong box of its contents?”

Shorty motioned for Nathan to proceed to the baggage car. Neither outlaw saw the smile that played across Nathan’s face as he walked calmly out of the passenger car. No sooner had he entered the baggage car than Nathan dropped down on all fours and swept Shorty’s legs out from under him. As Shorty fell Nathan stood and used his right hand to knock the outlaw’s gun from his fingers. With a powerful left uppercut, Nathan knocked Shorty unconscious. Nathan dragged him farther into the baggage car, grabbed some of the rope netting that secured the passengers’ bags, and tied the outlaw up.

Nathan retrieved Shorty’s sixgun, then slipped his coat and shoes off. Running quietly to the far end of the baggage car, Nathan exited and climbed up on top of the car. He cautiously proceeded back to the far end of the passenger car. He dropped as stealthy as an Indian back down to the entrance to the passenger section.

He silently opened the door and rushed Slim but the padding of stockinged feet must have reached the outlaw. Slim turned straight into the flying fist of the young preacher. His feet flew off of the floor and he landed hard on his back. The sixgun in his hand discharged harmlessly into the ceiling. Before he could bring it back to bear on his attacker, Nathan wrenched it from his grasp and smashed the grip down between Slim’s eyes, rendering him senseless.

Nathan handed the gun to the conductor and informed him of the other outlaw tied up in the baggage car. He proceeded toward the place where the mother held her child’s head in her lap. Another male passenger turned to him and whispered, “Preacher, I’m a doctor. I’ve done all I can, but that little boy isn’t going to make it.”

Nathan dropped to his knees beside the child and did the only thing he knew to do. He placed a hand on the child’s forehead.

“Oh, God, we cry out for mercy and healing for this child!”

As the astonished passengers’ watched, the bleeding stopped and the knot on the side of the boy’s head slowly shrank. The child’s breathing became less labored. Nathan thanked God aloud for his healing touch and smiled at the mother. She just nodded her head and continued to love on her child.

Nathan stood and announced to the doctor, “Sometimes, Doctor, you just have to appeal to the Greatest Physician to do what only he can.” He turned to help the conductor drag the stunned outlaw to where his companion was tied up. Returning to his seat, he settled in to await the next stop and a lawman.

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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Book samples


Redeeming Grace

Chapter One

The two men entered into the Saloon and stepped to either side of the door allowing the walls to cover their backs. The younger of the two was holding a Winchester rifle in the crook of his arm. With a nod from the older one, he pointed the barrel at the floor and fired off a round.  Every motion stopped as all eyes focused on the men standing at the door way.

“Sorry for the interruption, gentlemen, but I needed everyone’s attention. I’m looking for someone that I heard has been seen around here.”

“There ain’t no law around here, Marshal, so it don’t matter who yer a lookin fer.”

Nathan nodded “So I’ve heard, Zeb Sweeny, don’t change the fact that I got paper on you and those three fella’s you’re playing cards with but I ain’t here for you or them. I’m here for your boss. Tell me where Diamond Dale is and I’ll let you slide this time.”

Several men around the saloon stood and loosened their six shooters from their holster. Nathan saw them and just smiled. “Boys, I don’t think you want to do that. I’m not here as a U. S. Marshal today, but that won’t stop me iffen y’all get involved in my fight.”

“Iffen you ain’t here as a law-dog then what business do you have here, Marshal; I’m sorry what was yer name Marshal?”

“Let’s just drop the Marshal for now. As you can see I’m not displaying a badge and I know that No Name doesn’t recognize any law but its own. As for my name, I’m Nathan Ryder but you probably know me as The Preacher.”

Several men suddenly realized they had someplace else to be in No Name and there was a small stampede out the batting doors.

Zeb Sweeny looked at the three men sitting with him and they all stood and began to spread out. “There’s gonna be trouble here tonight, boys.”

The rifle came off of Timothy’s elbow into a firing position. “Don’t have to be anyone die tonight. We just want Dale like The Preacher said.”

“Well, Deputy, Diamond Dale ain’t here and we are, so that seems to be a problem fer you and The Preacher now don’t it?”

Nathan saw where this was headed and while he did want to wrap up the Cavanagh Gang loose ends, he didn’t want to be responsible for getting Tim or himself killed.

“Zeb, there ain’t no need for this to happen; I’m here for Dale. He wanted a showdown but it seems like he keeps running away from me instead of facing me. Well, I’m here now in a lawless town so let’s give him what he wants, a shot at my reputation.”

“There’s only one problem with that Preacher, Dale ain’t here and he ain’t likely to show up since he’ll hear yer here. But to be honest, I wouldn’t mind taking a crack at yer reputation myself.”

Nathan sighed; today was not going to go his way. He slowly slipped the hammer thong off of his Peacemaker. “Zeb, you don’t stand a chance. If you get lucky and take my reputation then when Dale hears, he’ll just kill ya and take it fer himself. Either I’ll kill ya or he will, but either way ends with you in boot hill.”

“That’s enough talk,” The outlaw on the far left screamed as he clawed for his revolver. Nathan’s hand moved and his right hand Colt leaped into his hand. There was a boom to his right and Timothy’s Winchester spit lead at the outlaw. Zeb Sweeny threw himself to the right.

Nathan and Timothy spread out and sought cover as bullets started flying from outlaws all over the saloon. Nathan threw himself behind the bar and fired toward the members of the Cavanagh Gang he had seen spread out earlier. It appeared that Zeb Sweeny was slowly making his way from cover to cover toward the open window in the back of the saloon. Nathan fired at the outlaw called Johnson and saw him take a bullet in the chest as he rose to fire at Tim.

Timothy had moved left and turned a table over on its side as he ducked behind it. He saw an outlaw come out of the upstairs rooms and sight in on Nathan. He swung the rifle up and sent a projectile at the hoot owl trying to bushwhack his boss. The outlaw took the slug to the chest and fell over the rail landing on the bar just above Nathan.

Nathan looked at the body of the bushwhacker and nodded to Timothy, then went back to firing at the outlaws, intent on killing the two lawmen. After what seemed like hours, but was just minutes, the shooting slowed then stopped.

Nathan and Timothy stood and realized they were done fighting these outlaws. There were dead or injured men all around the saloon. They began to walk through the saloon with Nathan taking note of the members of the Cavanagh Gang that were dead. He pointed out a couple of them that were just injured to Timothy who tied them up and started sitting them by the door for transport back to Redemption and justice.

Walking through saloon, Nathan realized Zeb Sweeny had escaped through a window. Their best bet at catching up to Diamond Dale had slipped through their hands again. He knew once Timothy realized Sweeny wasn’t amongst the captured outlaws he wasn’t going to be happy. If they were lucky they might be able to pick up his trail outside the saloon and track him to Dale. If not, Timothy was going to be extremely upset. He seemed to be obsessed with catching Lucy’s killer.

Nathan spun as he heard the sound of someone moving behind the bar, his Peacemakers in his hands, instantly. He re-holstered as he saw the bartender with his hands in the air. “Whoa Preacher, I don’t want any trouble with you or yer deputy.”

“Sorry barkeep. Didn’t mean to startle ya. Sorry about the mess and loss of business for ya too.”

Nathan holstered his left hand Colt, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a couple of Double Eagles. “This should cover your damages.”

He tossed the Double Eagles on the bar and reached back into his pocket, pulling out another one. “This one is for giving Zeb Sweeny or Diamond Dale a message if you see either of them. Let them know The Preacher said ‘I’ll be back. I won’t stop till I catch them both.’ Tell them they can save themselves some trouble by just riding into Redemption and surrendering to me or my deputy.”

“I’ll do it, Preacher, but you know that by announcing where you’re living makes you a target don’t ya?”

“I reckon it does. But I pity anyone who comes thinkin’ they can take my reputation. I may not want this reputation, but I ain’t gonna roll over and give it away either.”

Nathan holstered his other Colt and turned and walked out of the bar after flipping the last coin to the barkeeper. Once outside, he saw Timothy tying the reigns of their prisoners together and on a lead rope tied to his mustang. “Nathan, Sweeny ain’t here.”

“I know Tim, he slipped out the back window.”

“How we gonna track him with this bunch along?”

Nathan started to answer when he felt a faint tugging in his stomach. He suddenly felt like he was needed back in Redemption. “Timothy, I know you don’t want to hear this, but we don’t. We need to head back to Redemption. Something is wrong there.”

“You got one of those weird feelings again?”

“Not like last time, but there is something saying get home. I can’t chance it Tim, I was too late to help Lucy because I didn’t do everything I could last time. Can’t take the chance this time. I’m not gonna be too late again.”

Nathan swung up into Quick Fire’s saddle. Timothy followed suit and the two lawmen and their prisoners turned toward the New Mexico Territory and Redemption. They rode out of town and quickly picked up speed pushing their mounts into a steady ground eating stride trying to beat Nathan’s feeling home.

Grace Ryder was spending time doing a little shopping in Redemption. She had been in town to see Doctor Soneman for Little Cindy’s check up. He had given the infant a clean bill of health and her mother too. The girl was growing so quickly that Grace had decided to go by the general store and pick up some new material to make some dresses for her daughter. She didn’t want to give her father-in-law something else to find fault with her about.

It seemed to Grace that ever since David Ryder had arrived in Redemption he was looking for some reason to not like her. She didn’t understand why, she loved Nathan and had been taking care of him and their new daughter as best she could.

However, David complained about the amount of time she spent looking after Cindy, or the time she spent with Peggy Jane Cotton teaching her to read and write. As far as David was concerned, she was wasting her time. She should be spending her time visiting the sick or helping widows or doing something as a pastor’s wife. When she wasn’t doing that, she should be taking better care of his mother’s house. To Grace, it seemed like nothing she did was the right thing for him.

On the other hand, her mother-in-law, Rebecca, was a joy to be around. She seemed thrilled Nathan had found a wife. She spent time playing with Cindy. She listened to the tales of Nathan’s trip west and how his reputation had happened. She loved Grace’s accent and commented on it and Grace’s beautiful red hair and emerald green eyes. She offered to help out with the house and even offered to give Cookie a break in the kitchen, not that he would admit to being happy cooking for everyone, but Grace noticed he always turned down any offer of help.

As Grace exited the general store and put Cindy into the small covered bassinet Nathan had added to the wagon, she saw several wagons, following a private coach, pull into town. She wondered who had arrived in such a spectacular way. The coach stopped in front of the hotel and a group of women started pouring out of the three covered wagons.

Grace wouldn’t have called the women ladies because none of them were dressed in what she would call decent attire. A large white man climbed down off of the coach and opened the door. Grace gathered her bonnet closer to her face as she saw who emerged from the coach. The sight of the woman in burgundy sent fear racing through Graces being. Of all the people she had thought might come out of that coach, this woman from her past was the most unlikely.

The woman was short but wide. She looked like she might have even put on weight since the last time Grace had seen her. She must have weighed close to four hundred pounds. Her blonde hair was done up in a stack on her head. Though big, she still had the look of a handsome woman. She gathered the other woman like a mother hen gathers her chicks and sent them into the hotel to procure rooms.

Grace, not wanting to be seen, snapped her reigns, sending Tiny into a quick trot out of town. Grace bit down on her lower lip trying to control the fear that was threatening to overwhelm her. Her past had once again caught up to her, this time in the form of Big Bertha O’Malley, former Madame of the New York City Gentleman’s Club.

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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Book samples


Redeeming Trail

Chapter One

Diamond Dale Cavanagh sat in the saloon in Independence, Missouri playing five card stud like he did most nights. Only tonight he was having trouble concentrating. There was a guy from the current wagon train who claimed there was a new gunslinger in the territory.

Joe was telling his tale and garnering free drinks with every repeat. “I tells ya the Preacher reaches out and beats him to his own gun and pistol whips him on the head. Kid Cody falls to the ground, out before he even realized he’d been outdrawn with his own six shooter. Then the Preacher walks over to the desk clerk breaks open the shooter and drops all the cartridges in his hand, then gives him the gun. He tells him you should send someone to get the sheriff so this cowboy can sleep it off. Then he turns like an eastern gentleman and offers the school marm his hand and escorts her to dinner purty as ya please.”

Dale tried to ignore the drifter but the tales just kept coming about how this Preacher took out three more men that night in a fair fight. He faced down the Kid’s brother, Black Bart, the next day. Later in the week he took on the rest of the Missouri River gang, killing all but two of them.

Dale folded his hand and walked over to the story teller. “Now I think yer just spinning tales fella. Ain’t no one that fast or good.”

Joe looked at the gambler with the diamond buttons on his shirt. “Lookie here mister I’m a tellin’ ya straight The Preacher’s quick as a greased pig and faster than lightnin’ on the plain. Why iffen an owlhoot meets The Preacher he’s a gonna met God either on his knee’s in prayer or face ta face.”

Dale looked the drifter in the eye and saw he believed every single word he was saying. Just about then the Western Union agent came in a shaking his head. “Well boy’s who’s buyin’ me a round? I just delivered the most interesting piece of news to the Marshal not five minutes ago. Seems like Kid Cody done went and got himself killed.”

“What you talkin’ bout Rusty?”

“According to the sheriff in Franklin some feller named the Preacher just out drew him and shot him dead.”

Dale downed his drink and motioned to the rest of his boys they were leavin’. If there was new talent in Franklin and the Missouri River Gang was gone then it was time for the Cavanagh Gang to increase it’s territory a bit east. Besides Dale needed to see this Preacher fella for himself and maybe add to his own reputation. “Mount up boy’s its time to head out to Franklin. I think we need to see this Preacher for ourselves and test his resolve.”

Twelve men climbed in the saddle and turned east. In a cloud of dust and the sound of thundering hooves the Cavanagh Gang set out for Franklin and a chance to see Diamond Dale brace the Preacher.

The wagon train was in sight of Boone Lick. Nathan Ryder halted the train to rest, water the teams and allow the wagoneers a chance to grab a bit of lunch and stretch the kinks out of the drivers. Nathan and Abner walked a bit away from the group to talk about the rest of the day.

“Abner, I don’t want to drive them too hard today. Where is the best camping point for us to stop tonight without pushing too hard? Besides you, Tim, Levi and me, most of these people are used to the easier livin’ in the east.”

Abner Gunderson took off his hat and scratched at the stitches on the side of his head. “I reckon yer right Nathan. Let’s see.” He pulled a map out of his breeches pocket and looked at it for a minute. “I figure we ought to be able to make it ta Arrow Rock round five tonight. That’d be the best place to make camp tonight. It’s got a stream that runs down off the rock and a wide space we can circle the wagons.”

Nathan nodded. “Sounds good. Let’s put some jerky in our stomachs and then round ‘em all up. Once we get there I want us to all eat together tonight and make some decisions. Also, I want to make sure the Richmonds and their servants understand what is expected on this trip.”

“I was a might surprised when ya let that tinhorn and his four wagons join the line. Are ya sure that was wise? That woman’s gonna right drive us crazy I’m a thinkin’.”

Laughing, Nathan nodded. “Yer probably right Ole Timer but I’ll tell ya like I told Grace this morning. If worse comes to worse I can always administer another lesson in life in the west or let you or Levi administer it.”

“That sounds right fun. I wouldn’t mind seeing that dandy try them there Queensbury rules on ole Black Bart fer sure.”

“Levi, Abner call him Levi.”

“Opps, I plum fergot.”

The two men went and got a bite to eat. After they were both satisfied Nathan looked at his wagon drivers and yelled, “Wagons Ready?”

From up and down the line came the answer, “ALL SET.”

Nathan and every other driver mounted up. Nathan, grabbing the reins in firm hands bellowed, “Wagon’s HO!!” Snapping the reigns set Tiny and Mouse to pulling the Ryder wagon westward once more. Never knowing trouble in the form of Diamond Dale Cavanagh and his Cavanagh Gang was heading toward Franklin with bloodlust for The Preacher, David Nathaniel Ryder the Third in their hearts. Trouble was going to find them soon enough and it would dog them this whole trail.

Levi Cody walked along with one hand on the harness of his lead ox. He was leading the team from the ground allowing his wife Maryann to get used to the feel of the reins in her hands. He kept sneaking a glance back at her thanking God repeatedly for the second chance to be a husband and father. No sooner had the prayer winged heavenward than he felt the small hand of his son slip into his.

Young Levi was trying so hard to be a man like his dad. The dad he hadn’t even known until a week ago. Levi let go of the harness and reached down and snagged the five year old boy and swung him up on the back of the ox. “Well son, why don’t you ride Ole Blue here a while so we can talk and rest yer legs a might?”

“All right Daddy, what ya want to talk about?”

“Tell me about your life in Philadelphia. Did you have many friends there?”

“Not a lot really. I spent most of my time with Mama listening to her talk about you and how we were gonna find you someday. But I did have one friend. His name was Joel Jensen. His Daddy said you used to work fer him as a policeman. Is that true?”

“Yes, I did until your uncle tricked me into thinking I was gonna be hung as a killer. Then I didn’t listen to your mama or Captain Jensen or God and I ran off to hide. What lesson do you think that should teach us, Little Levi?”

“I don’t know Papa, what lesson should it teach us?”

Reaching up and tussling his son’s auburn hair Levi smiled. “Always listen to yer mama cause she is one smart lady.”

Little Levi smiled back at his papa and nodded his agreement.

The two Cody men went on in silence for a while. One grateful to finally meet and get to spend time with his pa like other boys he’d known. The older lost in his thoughts of the new life he was gonna carve out of the New Mexico Territory for himself, his wife and his son.

Nathan kept stealing glances over at his wife sitting beside him in the seat of the wagon. It seemed almost like a dream he had; this beautiful woman beside him and she was his wife.

Lord, how things have changed in the short time I’ve been out west. You’ve blessed me with friends, more money than any one man has a right to and the most beautiful wife I could have ever imagined. Thank You for all You’ve given me. Lord help me be the type of Godly husband who always loves his wife like You command just as Your Son did the church.

He reached out his right arm and put it around his wife drawing her as close as he could. Grace looked up at him with her emerald green eyes and Nathan felt his heart skip a beat. I wonder if I will ever get used to how beautiful she is?

Grace smiled and laid her head on his shoulder content at what God had provided for her in a husband. She felt her husband squeeze her even closer and whisper, “I love you Grace Ryder. You definitely are flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone.”

Grace sighed and exaggerating her Georgian accent answered, “Why I do declare Mister Ryder, you sure know how to flatter a girl. Why if you keep this up I may just need my salts to keep from swooning.”

Nathan chuckled and put his arm down and concentrated on keeping Tiny and Mouse reined in. No sense letting those two big beautiful Swedish plow horses set a pace the mules and oxen couldn’t match.  The miles melted beneath their hooves as they drew nearer to their first night on the trail, heading for their new lives in Redemption.

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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Book samples