Saint or Sinner

Saint or SinnerLeroy Vance is a hardhearted bounty hunter, hot on the heels of a gang of outlaws, when he gets his horse shot out from under him. Injured, and on foot, in the wide flat lands, Vance faces almost certain death. Help comes in the form of a buggy driven by two foreigners, father and son. They take him to the nearest town, and drive off without a word. When he eventually tries to buy a new horse, Vance is directed to the ranch owned by the foreigners. There, he finds some excellent stock. But the ranch holds a secret. The foreigners don't train the horses themselves; that is done by the wife of the younger man, and her little brother, who are both abused and beaten by the men. Vance swears to rescue the woman and boy. But Fate has a few tricks up her sleeve, and a lot can change in a short time. Vance falls in love with the man's wife as he helps them to escape. But with her husband hot on their heels, will the trio escape? And will Leroy Vance, bounty hunter and sinner, finally find True Love with the wife of another man?

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Excerpt

The chase had been real hard, and real fast. The Curtis gang had almost a half a day's start on Vance, but out on the flat, mottled plains ahead, he could now see the cloud of dust being kicked up by the five riders as he drew closer to them.

In the still, dry air, the dust rose high and thick in a swirling gray plume, widening as it rose and dispersing slowly into the high, almost cloud-free, pale blue sky. With no wind to move it on or drop it back to the ground, the particles carried on travelling upward until they became all but invisible.

Vance knew the gang was heading for the hills, and they were moving fast, but he also knew he had a good horse under him; it was strong and light-boned but speedy, with a deep chest, powerfully sprung quarters, and plenty of staying power.

He’d been trailing this particular gang for some time, but was always just that little way behind them. Right now though, he was much closer than he had been so far. And there was no way—no way in hell—that he was going to let those bastards go; not now that he could almost taste their dust.

Vance was way too far back to be able draw a bead on them, or even to use his rifle. He couldn't be certain of hitting any of them from this distance, not riding at almost full-tilt, anyway. He needed to be a hell of a lot closer to them for that, but he didn't want to push his mount any harder just yet. He'd only have to hope the gang's animals were also getting pretty tired right about now. The way the men were pushing them on, it was more than likely. They’d soon be slowing down, and he'd have a better chance to catch up to them.

Trouble was, there was no doubt whatever in his mind that, if he could see their dust trail, they could sure as hell see his too—if they bothered to look back. And, judging by the way they were still moving, they were looking back over their shoulders all the time and urging their animals on at top speed.

They could only keep going at that speed for so long, though, before one of the animals, no matter how sure-footed it might be, tumbled on the rough ground and broke a leg…or maybe even its neck.

The same went for his own animal, though. They'd been pushing on hard for some time, and the big roan was starting to tire. He knew his horse well, and was well aware that there was still just a tad more run left in him. If he was going to catch them, he had to make the final push pretty soon now.

“Okay, boy, this is it. Let's go get 'em.” He spurred the heavily-lathered animal on one final time and felt the solid slabs of muscle respond, surging explosively beneath him.

Leaning as far forward as he could, Vance crouched down low onto the horse’s hot, thick neck. He let the reins lie loose, his face whipped by the swirling mane. Globs of foaming sweat from the animal’s neck splashed back on him. Horse and rider all but flew over the ground then, scattering up loose scree, dust, and dirt in a final, desperate burst of raw energy and power.

They were closing in on their prey fast, just a few short yards away. Vance was about to draw one of the two irons he carried, knowing that he would definitely hit at least one of his targets at this range. Hell, he could almost have reached his hand right out and grabbed a fistful of their horse’s tails, he was so close.

Then, one of the men at the rear of the group quickly turned in his saddle, drew a bead, and fired a single shot. Vance clearly saw the outlaw’s face, bearded, dusty, and scarred. They were close enough now for him to be able to see the evil gleam in the man’s eyes and the twisted smile on his ugly face. As the Colt aimed directly at him, Vance knew instinctively this day was not going to end well.

He pulled his own weapon fast, but in that tiniest of moments, just before he could pull the trigger, his horse jerked and catapulted forward. The roan’s face plowed deep into the ground, hind end standing right up in the air, poised, in that single, small instant, as if balancing on its head. Dust and dirt flew high around them. Somewhere in the distance, a man cheered.

Vance flew from the saddle into the air. He somersaulted, hit the ground hard, and bounced twice. It had been possibly the luckiest shot that outlaw had fired in his whole, miserable life.

Then, something very heavy crashed down on Vance’s side, knocking all the wind out of him. The air around him was filled with thick, choking dust.

His whole world flashed bright red before him, and then faded out into total blackness.

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