» Sally's Sweet Sister

Sally's Sweet Sister cover

Blurb

Description: In the cattle boomtown of Wichita, Kansas, prim preacher's wife, Rachel Stanton, has dedicated her life to her husband's calling, but after five years of a sterile marriage, she's grown dissatisfied. When he's murdered, she's the only suspect and must turn to her sister, a notorious madam, and flashy gambler, Sean Kelly, for help. Can two such ungodly people save her from the gallows?

Grateful because she once saved his life, Sean is determined to clear Rachel of the murder charge and return her to the kind of life such a good woman deserves. But when they flee a lynch mob onto the isolated prairie, his devilish attraction to her threatens his good intentions.
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Excerpt

RACHEL STARED AT the shadowy ceiling. She had left the lamp burning as low as possible because she couldn’t stand the thought of being in total darkness, but now the flickering light kept her awake. Stretching her arm out, she touched the cold sheet beside her. Where was Chester?

A soft tapping sounded at the door. That must be him. Rachel threw the covers back, leapt from the bed, and ran to the door. She fumbled with the leather strap that looped around the wooden peg and served as the door’s only lock. Then she remembered going to Chester’s funeral and leaned against the door as her heart raced.

The tapping sounded again. A familiar voice softly called her name.

“Sean?”

“Open the door, Rachel.”

She pulled the strap away and swung the door open. “Chester’s dead, Sean.”

“I know.” He stepped inside, closed the door, and protectively slipped his arms around her. “I’m sorry, so sorry.”

The warmth of his body reassured her. “Somebody killed him. We don’t know who.”

“Listen, Rachel, there’s some ugly talk going around. People are getting all worked up.”

She stepped away from him. “I know. People are mad at me for running away from Chester. I can’t blame them. It was a foolish thing for me to do.”

“It’s more than that. People are beginning to say you had something to do with his murder.”

“What?” She gave her head a little shake. “Surely nobody thinks I could ... do they?”

“People get all worked up about things like this. They have to blame it on somebody. Uncle Mitch and I have decided the best thing you can do right now is get out of town.”

Rachel stepped farther away from him. “It’ll take a while to pack our things and make arrangements to ship them. Perhaps I can leave town in a week or so.”

He followed her into the center of the room. “No, you have to leave tonight, right now. Just pack a small bag. You’re in danger here, Rachel.”

She pressed the heel of her hand against her forehead. What was he talking about?

His large hand touched the middle of her back. “You have to get dressed,” he said.

My goodness, she was standing in front of Sean with nothing on but her nightgown. What would Chester say?

Sean’s hand guided her toward the clothespress. “What do you want to wear?”

“I have to wear the black dress,” she said. “I’m a widow.”

“All right. Here.” He thrust the dress into her arms. Then he started pulling drawers open. “What else do you need?”

“Stop that. You mustn’t look in there. My personals are in there.”

He stopped and looked at her with an impatient frown. She hoped she hadn’t hurt his feelings, but she couldn’t allow his improper behavior.

She pointed to a chair on the far side of the room. “You sit over there and I’ll get dressed, but first I have to turn the lamp up.”

“No. Leave it as is.”

Of course, the lamp should be low as long as she was in her nightgown. She should have known Sean wouldn’t do anything to compromise her modesty. She gathered up the other clothing she needed and stepped behind the screen. As she dressed, she heard Sean moving about. He seemed to be in the kitchen area. The poor man must be hungry.

When properly dressed, she felt more like herself and stepped from behind the screen. “What are you doing?” she asked when she saw Sean putting a slab of bacon into one of her pillowcases.

“Gathering up food. We’ll need something to eat while we’re on the trail.”

“Sean, I appreciate your desire to help, but I think you’re making too much of this. Of course, people are upset about Chester’s death, and they may be angry with me, but I’m sure no one believes I killed him.”

“If you could have heard the talk in the Occidental’s bar tonight, you wouldn’t be sure.”

Rachel shrugged. “That was just saloon talk.”

“Much of what happens in this town is decided in its saloons.”

“If there is a problem, running away will not resolve it. Chester taught me that,” she said with a firm nod of her head.

He pointed toward the front door. “Chester faced a problem the other night and is dead now.”

Her hand flew up to her throat. “What a hateful thing to say.”

He glanced down at the floor, then back at her. “Yes, it was, and I’m sorry I said it, but I’m truly worried about your safety. Let me take you away from here now. Later, when everyone’s calmed down, you can face their accusations.”

“Perhaps in the morning I can decide what to do, but this is the middle of the night.”

He put the pillowcase on the table, walked to the clothespress, and picked up a battered carpetbag. “If you don’t want me seeing your personals, you better starting packing ‘em yourself, or I will.”

“You are being unreasonable.”

“Ra-chel, ooh, Raaa-chel.” An eerie voice sounded from outside.

“Come out, bitch,” another voice added.

“We’ve got something for you, whore.”

She stared at the door, frozen in horror as the men continued to shout obscenities. Sean grabbed her arm and pulled her into the shadows. He pulled a small handgun out from under his coat.

“What do they want?” she asked in a quaking voice.

“Hush.” He pushed her against the wall and stepped in front of her. “Don’t make a sound,” he whispered.

Strange, hollow noises echoed from outside. They sounded like an axe chopping into a hollow log. Rachel feared the men were breaking into the house, but the front door remained intact. Then a series of loud squawks split the air. Only one thing could make that particular sound.

“My pump organ. They’re chopping up my organ!” She pushed Sean aside and headed for the door, but he grabbed her, wrapped both arms around her and pulled her back into the shadows.

“You can’t go out there. That’s what they want you to do. Be quiet, Rachel.”

She stopped struggling and listened to the final dwindling squawks. The chopping noises went on for a while, but she knew the insides of her organ were too mutilated to hold air and make any more sounds. The men shouted and laughed, but their voices faded away until silence filled the night again. Sean continued to hold her tightly as Rachel pressed the side of her face into his shoulder and took long, trembling breaths, fighting against the sobs that ached in her chest.

Finally, Sean loosened his hold of her. “Will you come with me now?”

Unable to speak, she nodded. He had told her the truth. People believed she had killed Chester. Now they wanted to punish, perhaps even kill, her. She had to depend on Sean. Again he was the only one she could turn to.

Reviews

"This was a sweet western romance. Rachel, Sally, and Sean are all bound together because of events in their past. As a result they all have their own baggage that has shape them into the people that they are. Although this is not a complex story it is still an entertaining one that was a fast read. Ms. Winn has done a fine job bringing the west to life and peppering her story with interesting characters." ~ Luv2readinBruxelles for E-Romance Writers

"I read the e- book, Sally Sweets' Sister by Sarah Winn, and found this historic western to be a great read. I was immediately drawn in and the author kept my attention until the end. The sisters being like night and day or should I say, sinful and virtuous, made the story even more interesting ... I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. Take a bow Ms. Winn, you created a wonderful Historic Suspense/Romance. I truly enjoyed this book." ~ Nicki Hand, TCM Reviews

"Sally Sweets' Sister expertly blurs the traditional genre fiction lines between history, romance and mystery. It is a compelling romance within a strong mystery." ~ Karen Troxel for eBooks N'Bytes

"Part comedy, part court-room drama, and all romance, Sally Sweets' Sister is sure to please a variety of readers. Well worth a trip to the bookstore!" ~ Heidi Horner for Escape to Romance

"I found myself eagerly flipping through the pages wondering how in the world shy Rachel and ex-gambler turned cattle baron, Sean, can overcome their very different pasts and other obstacles so they can be together. Sally Sweets' Sister is a definite winner!" ~ Jan Springer for Road To Romance

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