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Judith R. Parker
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For Jason Locke a promise give is a promise kept. Seeing two orphans safely to Denver City seems a simple thing. But when they are kidnapped, Jason must pursue and rescue them from Ezra Swope
Not only must he face the psychotic killer, unfriendly Indians and a perilous journey through the mountains in the bitter cold of the Colorado winter, but he must conquer his own inner demons.
Jason Locke kicked angrily at the tufts of dry grass, raising puffs of dust with each step. Pa had left before daylight to check the herd and Jason would be with him if it weren’t for that old muley cow. All cows were stupid but that milk cow was the worst. Not a lick of brains in her head.
He aimed a particularly vicious kick at a clod of dirt. Even if he had left the gate unlatched last night, that dumb cow should have had sense enough to stay in the pen. Now he’d have to walk at least three miles. He knew where she’d be, in the thicket down at the seep. Stupid cow critter. Why couldn’t the Indians run her off instead of stealing steers? A plaintive call broke into his thoughts.
"Wait for me. Jase, wait for me."
He stopped and glanced over his shoulder. His little sister, Cassie, was running after him as fast as her short little legs would carry her.
"Go home, Cassie. Just you get on home."
"I wanna go wiss you."
Anger and frustration filled his chest like a balloon, then burst. He turned on her. "Well, I don’t want you. You hear? I don’t want you!" He shook his fist at her. "Jist turn around and git home. I’m sick of you pestering me all the time."
She stopped, a stunned look in her eyes that stabbed him, increasing his anger. Her tiny face screwed up and a tear trickled down her dust-coated cheek. Clutching a cornhusk doll to her breast she stared at him, then turned and trudged back across the prairie.
Jason swung away, stalking over the dry earth. A man, and at the age of ten he considered himself a man, didn’t need a five-year old girl always tagging after him. Still, his conscience smote him. He should take her back to the house. He glanced back but she was out of sight. He stopped, undecided, then shrugged. They were only a quarter of a mile from the house. Once out of the draw, she could see the barn. She couldn’t get lost. And he had that fool cow to find. He turned back to following the cow’s tracks.
It was late afternoon when Jason got back with the milk cow. She’d been in the thicket, all right, but it had taken him hours to chouse her out. The durned fool hadn’t wanted to leave the tender grass and the shade. He was hot, tired and caked with dirt and sweat.
He led the cow into the barn and got down a pail and the milking stool. When he’d finished milking, he turned her into the pen, checked that the water trough was full and pitched in hay.
Picking up the pail of milk, he carried it into the kitchen side of the dog run.
Pa was sitting at the table puffing his pipe. His mother was at the stove, taking a pan of biscuits out of the oven. She turned and smiled. "I see you found the cow. You and Cassie best get washed up. Supper’s ready."
The words hit him like a sledge hammer blow. His throat was so tight he could barely force the words out. "Ain’t Cassie here?"
He saw the blood drain from his mother’s face. "No, she went with you. Didn’t she?"
"I sent her back."
A calloused hand on his shoulder swung him around. Tom Locke was on his feet, his eyes burning, a gray pallor visible under his tan. "Tell me."
Jason could feel the heat rising in his face while a ball of ice formed in his belly. "She was follering me. I... I told her to go home."
"This... this morning." The ball of ice had grown, squeezing his heart. "She couldn’t be lost, Pa. She couldn’t! We was just the other side of the draw."
Without further word, Tom strapped on his gun belt and taking a rifle from the wall, left the house and headed for the draw. Jason trotted at his heels. They found her tracks in the mud at the bottom of the draw. Found where she had followed the trickle of water, where she had stopped to build a small dam, then wandered on.
Where the draw branched, two tall cottonwood trees shaded a small glen. Half a dozen wilted prairie flowers were scattered amongst the churned up sand. The cornhusk doll lay broken, trampled under the hooves of unshod ponies.
Judith R. Parker makes her home near Ronald, Washington in the central Cascades with her husband, a retired civil engineer, two dogs and six cats. She is a retired corporate CFO.
Parker has been writing mysteries, suspense and westerns for over twenty years. Her short stories have appeared in regional and national magazines and an anthology, A KIND OF JUSTICE, which was an 2002 Eppie finalist. RIDE A COLD WIND won a 2002 Eppie for best western.
Parker is a member of Sisters-in-Crime, Women Writing the West, Western Writers of America, Epic, and a past board member of the Northwest Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.
“In Judith R. Parker's DEADLY DIAMONDS, the characters are real. The story is spell binding. I believe that this book is going to make it to the best seller list before the ink is dry.” --Sue Harigan, Member of RIO; reviewer for: All About Murder; All about Fiction; Book News; Murder Express; Carol's Book Reviews
"In the tradition od Louis L'Amour, author Judith R. Parker creates a tale that takes great pride in the human spirit. Parker's recreation of the pristine mountains untouched by humans in contrast to the evil of the man who chases her hero creates a marvelous juxtaposition. A quick, entertaining read, I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended." --reviewed by: Cindy Penn
"If you are looking for an exciting story, appealing characters and lots of action, look no farther. Parker's RIDE A COLD WIND, first in the Jason Locke series, fits the bill. Parker has a way with her writing that brings every emotion and sense into play. I highly recommend this book. And make sure you start it in the morning because you won't be able to put it down." --Quote by: Betty Sullivan LaPierre, Author of: The Hawkman series
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 220
Paper Weight (lb): 9.4
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