Welcome to Tuesday Tales! This week I`ll be sharing excerpts from my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel, Laco Law – The Gnarled Oak. Laco Law is an M/M historical western romance, set in the fictional county of Laco, Texas in 1867.
This week our word prompt 'Free’. In this excerpt Clayton and Zeke grow closer to finding Boyden.
A note for my readers: This is a gay romance novel, and so the romance that occurs is man on man. If this is not your cup of tea, no one will think less of you if you read no further.
As this is my NaNo work, it is quite rough. I do ask that you overlook any glaring mistakes you may find. Please do check out the other wonderful writers after you`re done reading by clicking on the Tuesday Tales link at the bottom. Thanks for stopping in!
We never made it to San Antonio proper. We happened across a small group of sheep grazing free alongside a furrow that used to be a creek. Now just a ribbon of water trickled along the baked rocks. When the two young men who were guarding the flock saw us, they rose to their feet, their faces drawn into worry as Dog began prodding the nervous herd forward. Zeke spoke to his companion in Tonkawa. The canine seemed unhappy to be called back from his herding exercise for his tail hung low and still. I called the boys over. I judged them to be no older than twelve. They were proper bookends, each a perfect copy of the other. Twins they were, both with copper hair, freckles, brown eyes, and gangly legs and arms.
Both lads stood silently, brown eyes locked on Hessie`s hooves as I spoke.
“Can you boys tell me where we can find the home of Caldwell Emerson?” I asked. The boy on the left jerked his head upward. His face went pallid under the freckles.
“No Sir,” the lad croaked after averting his sight from mine.
“Never heard of no such name, Sir” the second one said. I shifted in my seat. A spark of misgiving flared to life. When I glanced over at my deputy, his body said he could care less. His eyes told me he had picked up the same tingle of suspicion that I had. I leaned forward a bit, my forearms resting on the pommel of Hessie`s saddle. Neither boy could find it within himself to look me in the eye. I asked once more. The reply was the same. The rather large herd of sheep had moved off. Dog yipped. The herd moved as a whole to the left. One did not need a nose like Dog to smell the fright the young shepherds exuded. I thanked them for their cooperation. Off they went as fast as their legs could carry them, shepherd crooks in their hands.
“Never seen such young people out alone with a herd,” Zeke commented. I watched the two boys until the herd swallowed them up. The rambling white wave of wool dropped down into the creek bed and out of sight.
“Odd they weren`t armed,” I said. Hessie and Storm started nipping each other. Zeke shook his hat at my paint. The mare tried to bite the leather hat.
“She is foul-tempered,” he snarled as he ripped his hat from her big yellow teeth. She whinnied in triumph.
“That she is,” I murmured lost in thought. The sheep, and their apprehensive caretakers, had climbed out of the nearly dry creek bed. There was something out of the ordinary about this situation. Granted, some folks out here had children younger than twelve doing the work of a man. Life was a daily struggle to survive in Texas. But to send the young ones off into the wild where coyotes, rattlesnakes, catamounts, and warring Indians were commonplace was foolhardy to say the least. Sending boys out without a sidearm to defend the flock from predators, or themselves from a passing war party? That raised my misgivings to monumental levels.
“You want to trail them?” Zeke asked. Dog was on his feet in an instant, his one ear standing at attention as was his fluffy tail.
“It seems Dog wishes to do so,” I remarked. With a soft word from his master, Dog trotted off into the high grasses and wildflowers. Zeke and I turned our horses slowly.
“We`ll ride the outskirts, stay out of the boys sight. Dog will keep the sheep tight,” Zeke explained. I thought that was a less than stellar arrangement but bit my tongue. “They have to either return to a camp or the main house. I suspect this far out it will be a camp. Either way, by this evening we should have a clearer vision of what we face.”
My reply was a grumble. Another delay, more time wasted. It chafed me terribly.
“I know going slow is not your style,” he said. I shot a fast look at him. Zeke waggled a dark eyebrow. He did amuse me, but not now. Not when Boyden`s life could be in the balance. “Clayton, we must know what we face. This Emerson, he could have a small army guarding him and his . . . shepherds.”
“If Boyden is in pain while we . . .”
“Then you can lash out at me for delaying his rescue.”
I threw a glare at Ezekiel then tapped Hessie`s sides. There are times that a man does not wish to say that he knows that the cautious road is the best choice.
Copyright 2013 ©by V.L. Locey
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See you next week with more from the old West!