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The Homesteader
Mary Jean Kelso
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Molly Kling lowered her rifle. Her aim was steady as she felt the trigger against her finger. Lead zinged inches from the stranger's left leg.

No one was going to take what she had come for

"Get off my rocks!" Molly Kling called out.

"What are you talking about, lady?"

"I said, get off my rocks!" Molly lowered the rifle and felt the trigger against her finger. Lead zinged inches from the man’s left leg.

Her arms and fingers ached from holding the horses in check during the long drive from her homestead to the mountain, but her aim was steady.

No man was going to take what she had come for.

Now, the man stood. He stared at her in disbelief.

She didn’t know if he was surprised to see a woman out here in the backcountry without a man, or startled to be staring down the barrel of her rifle.

"What’s the matter with you? Are you crazy?" He glanced at the flat shale chunks protruding from the clay bank beneath his boots. "What are they, gold or something?"

"Better than that. Those rocks are going to be the foundation for my house."

"Hold on, now. Don’t get antsy with your rifle." The man raised his hands in front of him, waving his palms toward her.

"I said, those rocks are mine. I claimed them for my house. I drove all morning through the heat and dust to get them. I’m tired, I’m hot, and I’m not giving them up. Now, get down off my rocks or the next shot will draw blood."

"And I said, hold on. I’m unarmed. Can’t you see that?"

Molly lowered the rifle and looked at the man’s waist where she would expect to see a gun belt buckled. There was none.

"Now, will you listen to reason?"

"You’re on my--"

"Look, lady--" he paused, as if considering the term then went on, "--my horse threw me back there over the ridge. I’m on my way to look for work around Albuquerque. I’m hungry. I’m tired and I’m sore. And I don’t want your damn rocks!"

Molly bristled at his swearing. She considered his comment, squinting against the bright sun. They were alone with no lawman to arrest him for his vulgarity.

He dropped his hands to his sides while Molly decided his fate.

A scrubby tree a few feet taller than the man shaded him. He looked ragged, dirty, and disheveled. His hair hung in filthy strands to his shoulders, framing a square jawed face, with an unkempt beard and mustache.

She had seen many men with a similar appearance when she lived near the coal mines in Oklahoma. She found they were often stragglers meandering from one job to another. Or they were outlaws waiting to jump the first miner that let his guard down on his way home with his pay in his pocket. She had lost her own husband to one of these lurking opportunists. Now, she was left struggling to make a home for herself and her three stepchildren.

Out here, even a hundred miles from any coal mine, the man could only be trouble. She made out that, perhaps, some of the dirt could be attributed to being thrown from a horse. The man’s face bore dust, not the black grime of a mine. Not having any saddlebags, guns or bedroll would bear out his story, as well.

"I ain’t had a meal in some time." The man stared at the picnic basket.

"Haven’t had," Molly corrected out of habit.

Molly relaxed the hammer on the gun. She lowered the barrel, but kept the rifle nearby.

"That’s our lunch." She tossed her head toward the picnic basket where the children huddled behind her. She thought about the food. Surely, she had packed enough food she could share a sandwich with a hungry stranger. But she would not let her guard down.

"Rosie, please get the man one of those sandwiches we made," she instructed her stepdaughter.

"Yes, Ma."

The man stepped in rigid jerks down off the rocks and slid along the hillside until he approached the buckboard. He stopped and waited patiently a few feet away.

Molly noted the stiff way he moved from his perch on her rocks and his efforts to work the kinks out of his legs.

"Your horse do that to you?"

"Partly." He watched Rosie dig into the woven wicker basket.

Rosie picked up one of the large sandwiches and apprehensively held it out toward him. The stranger stepped forward and to

Mary Jean Kelso is a multi-genre author and a correspondent for The Lahontan Valley News, Fernley Today and other Nevada Appeal subsidiaries. She has been published in many newspapers and magazines, both as a writer and photographer. She was an Assistant Editor for three pharmaceutical magazines before concentrating on fiction. Her books include titles for children, young adults and adults. They are the historical and contemporary mysteries, romances and suspense novels. Previously published novels by Mary Jean Kelso include: Mystery in Virginia City, A Virginia City Mystery, and the third printing, Goodbye is Forever. The sequel is Abducted! The third in the series is Sierra Summer. Other titles include Goodbye, Bodie, Kat’s Cradle, The Homesteader, The Homesteader’s Legacy, Blue Coat, The Christmas Angel, its sequel One Family’s Christmas and the Andy and the Albino Horse series. Back to the Homestead is the 3rd in The Homesteader series.

Goodbye Is Forever - Nancy Drew has competition, Lynne Garett is in town. In a well constructed tale, a young woman learns how to deal with her amputation and how to rely on herself. On a vacation she becomes involved in a mystery that, in fact, is related to her. Mary Jean reveals the mystery layer by layer. The author has created a role model for young women everywhere. I enjoyed this story and found it easy to identify with the heroine. I look forward to other books from this talented author. -- A.Dee Carey Wings-Press Author, Fox in the Mist 2004, Mark of the Fox 2005

Goodbye Is Forever - Ms. Kelso has written a very intense story. She weaves action with a great plot leaving the reader mesmerized until the dramatic conclusion. This story keeps one guessing until the last page. Ms. Kelso made the characters very believable all the way down to their expressions as well as the whole setting of the story. -- Linda L. Lattimer, Wings-Press.com Author, Skeletons Too Close To Home

Goodbye Is Forever - This book contains a lot of interesting characters and unforeseen plot twist. The bad guys really gave me goose bumps. It also gives the reader a little bit of Virginia City history, but it is written so well into the story that you don‘t even realize your learning until you put the book down. Lynne Garrett is an excellent role model, she doesn’t let her disability stop her from pursuing whatever it is she feels needs to be done. When you have finished reading this book you can find more of Lynne’s adventures in Abducted and Sierra Summer. -- Terri, Fallen Angel Reviews

Fiction Books :: Romance Books :: Historical Books

ISBN: 1590885910
ISBN(13-digit): 9781590885918
Copyright: 2008
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
Binding: Perfect
No. of Pages: 295
Paper Weight (lb): 12.4

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