Excerpt from Eve’s Amulet, Book 1:
Franz’s soldiers raised their weapons and put her in their sights, but Carmena didn’t back down. She leveled her rifle at the lieutenant’s chest. It was futile to hold the man at gunpoint when the rest of his armed squadron had him covered, but she had to buy time for her ranch employees to hide their best income-producing animals.
“Miss Luebber. Well, ain’t you the big sugar?” Franz tipped his hat. His gaze roamed down the line of her form-fitting gauchos, his eyes lingering on the bodice of her cotton blouse.
“What the hell do you want this time, Franz?”
“I was jest wonderin’ where all yer purdy horses were at.”
“I sold nearly all of our stock before you could get your stinkin’ filthy hands on any more of them.”
“Now, that ain’t a polite way fer you to address a military officer, is it?” The lieutenant leaned against the saddle horn. “Why, accordin’ to the Republic of Texas, I got me a perfect right to confiscate yer stock. President Jones knows it’s better ta let some of his constituents lose a few horses and steers in exchange for military protection.”
“I’m sure the president doesn’t encourage the military to steal private property for personal gain.”
The lieutenant pushed up the rim of his hat and more dirt clumped in the creases of his forehead than his neck. “Surely, Miss Luebber, you understand how we’s protectin’ the citizens of this great republic from sufferin’ at the hands of them no count Comanche Indians to the west—” He pointed north. “—Cherokee to the east, and them Mexicans to the south, who still think Texas belongs ta them. Why, I’m doin’ you a favor. The less you have, the less them Indians is likely ta steal from you. Y’all should be showin’ me how much you appershiate what I’m tryin’ ta do fer you.”
The heavy weapon remained steady in her hold. “Spare me your bullshit, Franz. You’re just a pathetic four-flusher interested in filling up your own purse.”
Hardened eyes locked onto the woman. “Corporal Boyce, McFaddin. Please help Miss Luebber here with that terrible heavy gun.”
Carmena confidently raised the rifle and pointed the single barrel between the lieutenant’s eyes. “I’m warning you, Franz.”
“Well, now, the way I see it, if you shoot me, my men will shoot you and take e’vra animal that’s left on yer property. No doubt yer ranch hands will come an’ rescue you but a course, they’ll have ta be shot for innerferin’ with the law.”
“You’re not the law. Not here or anywhere else!”
Franz slid off his horse and took a single step toward her. He peered into the barrel of Carmena’s gun and stopped. “Cureton, Tankersley, Burnell! Take a look around. I recollect seein’ a couple of youngins out back last time we visited. In fact, that little girl looked like she was just startin’ ta ripen up.”
The three soldiers scuttled toward the back of the house to search for the children.
Carmena clenched her jaw and curled her lip. “You’re a disgusting pig!”
Franz noticed the infinitesimal droop in her shoulders. “Lower your weapon, Miss Luebber, and no one’s gonna get hurt.” He nodded to Boyce.
Boyce glanced at the Winchester, formidable in her hands. His steps were reluctant and heavy up the stairs. Carmena didn’t flinch. Her well-aimed one-shot rifle focused on no one but Franz. The young soldier apprehensively pushed the steel barrel downward. Carmena never saw his apologetic eyes as her own were clouded with fury.Boyce whispered to the enraged woman, “I’m sorry, Ma’am. Jest doin’