La Vida

La Vida

by Kate Cortez

ISBN: 9781500519582

Publisher CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published in Romance/Western, Literature & Fiction/Westerns, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Romance, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

An action-packed western romance novel, La Vida takes you to a small town in northern New Mexico in 1883 where Abigail Harrison, the daughter of a local rancher, is determined to discover what powerful hidden force is behind the band of murderous outlaws who have been terrorizing La Vida and put a stop to it. But she can’t do it alone. When retired US marshal Tylor McBain rides into La Vida, he finds a brave, beautiful young woman whose pleas for help he just can’t ignore. Together, he and Abby must fight a dangerous battle to save the town and protect their newfound relationship.

Sample Chapter

The sign by the roadside read, La Vida, 5 miles. It was etched in black onto a dry and brittle wooden post, and it had a pointer that very much looked like a large finger heading east. As he stared hard at the sign, Tylor McBain, retired US Marshal, wondered just how much “life” there actually was in La Vida, and he hoped it was enough to include a skilled blacksmith. He’d certainly never heard of the town, nor seen its name printed on any map, but with his horse having slipped a shoe and now developing a rather noticeable limp, he knew he had no choice but to check it out.

As he ambled his way down the road, the warm autumn sun beating down upon his back, he contemplated this sudden change in plans. He’d been hoping to reach Fort Griffin, Texas, by the end of the week; now, with the delay, he realized it might be another two or three weeks before he got there. Silently, he prayed that the town’s mayor would hold the job for him until he arrived. From the way the man had written, excited to hear of Tylor’s retirement and eager to do the legendary ex-lawman a favor, he’d seemed like he would. To make double sure of the deal, Tylor had written him back from Denver and clearly stated he’d be arriving in but a few weeks; yet here he was over a month later, held up in northern New Mexico and long overdue.

It was another couple of hours before he had his first glimpse of the town. Even from far back in a nearby meadow, he could make out several large, wooden buildings, and he began to feel a glimmer of hope. As he drew even closer, he spotted fine one- and two-story homes, their clapboards painted in various colors, along a tree-lined avenue, and a small but rather dignified-looking hotel. The town wasn’t huge, but it was big enough to probably have a saloon or two, a bathhouse, and a blacksmith. Right now, he wanted all three, and he began to pick up the pace.

As he reached the heart of the town, his enthusiasm suddenly waned. There was something…odd about the place. The main thoroughfare, a long, dusty road that stretched all the way to the outer limits, was strangely deserted. Not a single person walked the street or the wooden walkways that lined it, and there wasn’t a horse hitched to a post nor a wagon or buggy in sight. His eyes scanning every building, every porch, every side street he passed, he had the distinct feeling he was in a ghost town. Yet there had to be people here. In the open windows of many homes, he noted pretty gingham curtains fluttering in the breeze, and almost every building seemed to have had a recent coat of fresh paint applied to it. He even smelled the aromas of food drifting from farther off, like freshly baked bread and roasting meat, and it made his stomach rumble. Sure that he would find someone who could help him if he only looked, he hitched his horse to a post and continued in a cautious, but determined, fashion.

Just as Tylor reached the corner of yet another side street, he was startled by the lone figure of an old woman, her head covered by a black woolen shawl, as she came tearing around it. She collided with his solid form and emitted a gasp, then, as he caught her by the arms to steady her, began to struggle frantically to get away from him.

“Muevese, señor! Muevese!” He only looked at her, confused. “Please leave! Let me go and run away!” When Tylor still held her fast, afraid he’d somehow frightened her into thinking he was a danger, she added, “They’re coming! They’re coming, and they’ll kill you!” She spun her head around and pointed back down the street from whence she’d come. There was such terror on her wrinkled face, he immediately looked, and was stunned to see three mounted horsemen, the bottoms of their faces covered by red cloths, come racing right toward them. The woman screamed, and this time when she struggled, he let her go. As she dashed away, he held his ground and stared at the oncoming riders.

It took but a second for him to realize they had no intention of slowing down, and that one of them had even drawn his pistol and seemed ready to fire at him. In an eyeblink, Tylor’s hand whipped to the leather holster looped around his hips, and he had his own pistol, a gleaming silver Peace Maker, raised and ready.

It all happened so suddenly; the horseman with the gun fired just as he volleyed back. A plume of dust exploded at his feet as his attacker’s bullet hit the ground, and then the man who’d fired it went flying off his horse. His two companions, startled that one of their own had been hit, suddenly jerked their mounts to a halt. A few yards from where Tylor stood, they stared back to where their companion had fallen before one of them whipped his head around to face him.

“You son of a bitch!” he snarled, his voice muffled beneath the cloth. “Who do you think you are?”

“Not a dead man,” Tylor returned, his voice steady, his dark eyes hard. His whole body was still tense and ready. “I’m not about to let someone I don’t know, and who doesn’t know me, run me down or fill me full of lead for no good reason.”

“You just made the biggest mistake of your life. Nobody does this to us,” the man hissed, and Tylor could almost feel the rage emanating from him. He realized then that it might very well have been true that no one had ever challenged this man, or his gang, in such a way before. “Do you know who you’re dealing with?”

“No, and I don’t care. Scum doesn’t need a name as far as I’m concerned.”

This statement seemed to send the rider into a new, uncontrollable rage, for he suddenly yanked up his pistol and would’ve fired had his companion, a much bigger and perhaps even older man, not reached out and seized his wrist.

“No!” His gruff voice held the tone of authority. His eyes were dispassionate. “You’ll be dead before you touch that trigger.” When the other gunman still held his piece aloft, as if unable to put it down, he added, “Not now; not today.” The implication that there’d be another time hung heavy in the air.

Tylor watched as the enraged man slowly holstered his piece and spun his horse around to go pick up his fallen companion. Before the other rider would join him, he eyed Tylor steadily.

“I don’t suppose you’d be the kind of man to shoot me in the back, once I turn around.”

“That would depend on whether or not you deserve shooting, wouldn’t it?” Tylor’s gaze was just as scrutinizing as he recalled the look of terror on the old woman’s face. What, exactly, had these riders done? It wasn’t anything good, of that he was more than sure.

Instead of answering, the man simply looked him over. Like him, Tylor was tall, with a muscular, formidable build, and a gleam in his eyes that spoke of experience and confidence. There was also integrity there; even with the distance between them, the man could sense it. That seemed to make him decide. Without another word, he reined his horse around, and both riders tore off back down the street. Behind them, they took the body of their companion, slumped over the saddle of his horse.

Once they’d disappeared, Tylor lowered his pistol and took a deep breath. There was a slight tremor in his hand as he did so. The anxiety and the anticipation of a fight, which had been coursing through his veins but seconds ago, had kept him steady, kept him from showing any fear. Now, as it began to wane, he felt nearly weak—and relieved. That feeling always came when he was still alive.

Slowly, he walked forward. When he emerged on the other end of the street, just beyond two brick warehouses, his face registered first shock, then horror.

There had been a shoot-out here; that was obvious. Bullets had shattered several storefront windows and splintered the wood of buildings. A wagon lay on its side; the horse it was hitched to was dead. In the middle of the dusty road, a man lay face down, a rust-colored blossom staining the dirt beneath him. Cautiously, Tylor looked around, just to be sure, before he approached. Kneeling, he turned the man around and heard him groan. He could barely open his eyes as he reached up and weakly clutched at Tylor’s black vest.

“Please. Please, help us.”

And that was when the people started to come out. Slowly, one by one, they slipped from hiding places behind buildings, within alleyways, and even from under wooden porches. As he looked around, he saw doors open up, and women, men, and children step forth. From a store, a man in a striped apron peered out at him, his nearly bald head shining with a layer of sweat. On everyone’s face was the haunted look of fear.

Bewildered, Tylor stared back at them, then at the man on the ground. He asked himself, What the devil is going on here?


Excerpted from "La Vida" by Kate Cortez. Copyright © 2014 by Kate Cortez. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Kate Cortez

Kate Cortez

Kate Cortez is a lifelong resident of New Mexico. She gained a degree in education from New Mexico State University and studied medieval history and the American West as a grad student at the University of New Mexico. Passionate about teaching, researching history, and writing, she is a teacher who is devoted to passing this love on to future generations.

View full Profile of Kate Cortez

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