The Rescue (Print) - Guns of Colorado #1

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350 pages | Trade Paperback | 6x9"
Date of publication: 02/05/2016
  • ISBN: 978-1-943528-71-4
  • Model: 92847 words

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Heat Rating: 3 Flames

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When two young ladies and a young man are kidnapped, it sets a chain of events in motion no one could have foreseen.

When Yvonne Blackthorne and her traveling companions, Kaede Naito and Jose Delgado, are kidnapped, it sets in motion a chain of events that will forever alter the small town of Aspen Grove, Colorado.

Determined to rescue his sister, Constantine Gaylord Blackthorne sends Rei Naito--brother of Kaede--to find a well-known bounty hunter, Arizona Slim, to help rescue both girls.

But things are a lot more complicated than any of them expected and before it's all over with, they will need all their skill to track down the vicious Tanner Gang and see them brought to justice.




15th August 1869

Constantine Gaylord Blackthorne rode at the head of the miniature wagon train. Three paired teams of mules pulled each of four heavy freight wagons along the mountain road. A light coach--drawn by a team of horses--carried the most precious cargo, the women who would be working at the Lucky Gold Strike Saloon.

A sense of pride and accomplishment filled him. He'd worked hard, very hard, to get somewhere in this world. Disowned by his father at age six because he was different, because he could accurately sense when things would go wrong, or when things would go right, he'd spent his childhood in a boarding school. A school where he'd learned many things, not the least of which was that he preferred the sexual company of men to that of women.

But that didn't hamper his understanding of the money to be made by renting the services of women to those who wanted them. And in the boomtown territory of Colorado--latest to suffer the lawless madness of "gold rush" fever--CeeGee, as his friends called him, knew he stood to make a great deal of money catering to the needs of miners and drifters alike.

Tall peaks--a finger of the Rocky Mountains--surrounded the trail that wound between those crags of snow dusted rock. The crisp air carried none of the stink of eastern cities poised on the edge of the Industrial Revolution. Instead the scent of pine, spruce, and wildflowers scented the breeze. Birds chirped and flew by and small animals darted into concealment as they approached.

He'd lived in Colorado before, a few years back. He'd made his fortune here, first placer mining with a pan and later a sluice, then doing some hard rock mining with a partner. Unfortunately, like most such partnerships, it hadn't lasted. But CeeGee had his money by then and a "foreseeing" that told him what his next step should be: Finding his girls then a place to open a saloon.

They rounded a curve in the trail and their destination appeared--a cluster of businesses and a scattering of homes--the town of Aspen Grove, Colorado.

"Almost there now," he called back to the lead wagon, the one filled with his girls. Lady Jane, a flaxen-haired Englishwoman peered out past the driver's shoulder. "It certainly doesn't look like much, Constantine."

"Give it time, Janie-my-girl, give it time," he told her with a broad smile that made his dark eyes twinkle. "We'll make something of this town, but it's going to take a little hard work." Though what that "hard work" might be even he didn't know with any certainty. He knew some rough times lay ahead, but at the end of that patch of hard work there'd be a big payoff if they were patient and he remained diligent in following those glimmers of the future.

Evie, a fiery-haired gal with curves, which made the mountain trails they'd been following for the last few days appear straight, looked out over Jane's shoulder. "CeeGee's never led us wrong yet, Jane. But, after working in a big city like New Orleans the way you did, I suppose Aspen Grove is a pretty sorry looking place."

Lady Jane merely sniffed and adjusted the angle of her parasol to keep the sun from her delicate-featured face.

"Don't worry, ladies, I'm sure one of the local merchants can acquire anything your dear hearts desire to keep you all beautiful as a spring morning," CeeGee assured. "And, if not, we can send someone down to Denver City to order anything you like. Even dresses from Paris."


Lukas Hartmann leaned against one of the posts supporting the roof over the boardwalk of the Red Eye saloon. He smirked as the procession of a passenger wagon and three freight wagons led by a lone horseman rolled into town. They made their stately way along Main Street until they reached the saloon CeeGee had purchased which stood at the corner of Main and West streets.

Lukas stepped down into the dusty thoroughfare and frowned at the piles of horse crap. Not only did it make for an obstacle course of stuff you didn't want to step in, the manure stank up the place. Unlike cities farther east, there weren't any public works teams to clean up the streets. That was one good thing to be said about the east, and especially about riverboats: no horse shit. He picked his way across Main, ignoring the stares his "Eastern Dude" clothes were receiving from the miners and cowboys who were the town's patrons. He strolled along the street then turned into West Street where the wagons had come to a stop outside an empty building.

His smirk widened as seven fashionably dressed, though rather dusty, young women descended from the first wagon. Parasols snapped open with a sound like muted gunfire as the group of ladies gazed around with resignation on their pretty faces. Each one of them was decked out in the latest fashions from out east, with large bustles and becoming hats adorned with silk flowers or colorful feathers that fluttered in the light breeze. Lukas knew who they really were and stepped forward to greet them.

He bowed low with a flourish. "Good day, ladies. If I may, I'd like to welcome you to Aspen Grove and the Lucky Gold Strike Saloon." He indicated a large, empty building on their right. Most of the windows were broken, including the large plate glass one that still proclaimed SALOON on the bit of glass that remained. Lukas had already determined that it was structurally sound, but the inside was dark, dusty, and comprised of a few sticks of furniture. Sticks being the operative term as none of the former chairs or tables remained in one piece. He sniggered inwardly as seven pretty noses turned up in disgust. "It will be vastly improved in no time, I'm sure, not least by your pretty selves."

One of the women, a blonde with wide, cornflower blue eyes, turned to stare at him. "You may keep your pretty words for those who might want to hear them," she said with a disdainful sniff. "Is there somewhere in this horrid backwater where we can refresh ourselves with tea?" From her English accent, Lukas realized this had to be Lady Jane, CeeGee's best girl who would serve as the hostess of the establishment rather than being one of the working girls.

Lukas smiled at her. "Why yes, milady, Green's cafe and restaurant is just across the street on the corner of main. I can personally vouch for Mordecai Green's tea and coffee, and his dainties are delicious."

Lady Jane sighed. "What I wouldn't give for a decent lemon scone." She sighed, turned a rueful smile on CeeGee. "Perhaps we can find the right ingredients once the saloon is opened and I can try and remember how they're made. I'm sure you'd find them delicious, CeeGee."

CeeGee returned her smile a little sparkle of mirth shining in his dark gaze. After a moment he shook himself and replied, "I'm sure I would. If you ladies need more funds for the cafe, tell the owner to send someone to get me. Buy what you like and enjoy yourselves for now." His gaze went to the filth coated windows of the saloon. "I can see we'll all have a great deal of work to accomplish before we open."

Lady Jane and the others gave polite smiles to CeeGee then the group of them carefully picked their way across the street to the cafe while Lukas made his way to where the horseman had stopped to survey the town. "Hello, CeeGee. Welcome to your new home."

Their boss smiled at Lukas, but the earlier twinkle was absent. "I take it there were no homes for sale here in town?"

Lukas shook his head. "None that were the right size for your needs and so I bought up that land you mentioned to the south of the saloon and got some local workmen started on the blueprints you gave me."

"Excellent, Lukas. In the meantime I imagine we'll be living at the saloon, or have you found other accommodations for us somewhere?"

CeeGee dismounted from the tired horse he'd been riding. A very tall man, he filled out his dapper if dusty suit the way most Eastern gentlemen seldom did. A half decade of hard rock mining had left him as solid as the ore-bearing stone he'd formerly worked. He flipped one rein around the hitching post in front of the saloon. His dark gaze critical, he studied the false storefront where the old sign that proclaimed the name Broken Wheel Saloon, Clem 'Fuzzy' Barton, Prop was painted. The former owner had developed a fatal case of lead poisoning which left the place vacant, a fact that had been advertised in many papers across the territory. Lukas, acting as CeeGee's agent, purchased the establishment for next to nothing.

Lukas sighed. "I didn't want to choose your home for you but there are three actual homesteads close to the town up for sale plus four or five parcels of land. I took a look at the houses and was pleasantly surprised. Makes me wonder why their former owners up and left. I think they might suit your plans for expanding the town though and one or other of them might serve as a temporary residence."

"That's good to know, Lukas. Find out the asking prices on them, I might want to invest some money on good homesteads that I can rent or sell." He regarded Lukas for a moment then added, "We need to do our best to shelter and protect my girls, Lukas. The West is hard on people, especially women," CeeGee remarked as he headed for the boardwalk. "Some people give up and go back east where things are more familiar or they have family, but none of my girls have that option." He frowned, met Lukas's gaze. "For that matter, neither do we." He stepped up and went to the doors which were closed. "Do you have the key?"

Lukas fished in his pocket and pulled out a key and several folded sheets of foolscap. "You may be right about the hardships but... I'll tell you what's on my mind inside and away from prying eyes." He handed the key and papers over and waited for CeeGee to unlock the door.

CeeGee's right eyebrow rose into a dark arch of curiosity. "Something you haven't told me, is there?" he asked as he slipped the key into the lock on the right door. The lock resisted for a moment then the key turned and CeeGee shoved the doors open. The left one gave a groan and sagged on a broken hinge.

"That will need to be repaired immediately," CeeGee stated as he surveyed the interior.

Dust and cobwebs covered everything, showing that the place had been unused for some time, perhaps a year or more. Two of the windows facing West Street were shattered, leaving the place open to insects and the elements both, so neither the spiders nor dust had any impediment. Neither, apparently, had any looters been prevented entry as the place was bereft of glassware, booze, or even the usual mirrors and paintings such an establishment should contain.

"This is much worse than I thought it would be, from the advertisements." CeeGee turned to him. "Help me shut these doors and then tell me what's on your mind, Lukas."

It took a bit of effort but they got the doors closed once more and, for good measure, CeeGee used the key to lock them shut.

Lukas sighed gustily once the place was as secure as it could be. "Remember I've only been here a few days so haven't had enough time to take a peek at too many minds but, I'm uneasy enough to change my mind about leaving you and the girls alone and going back to the riverboats. There are 'good' people in the town, like the Greens and Elmer Kelly, the carpenter, but the sheriff and his deputies seem more like bullies than lawmen and there's something else I really don't like. The sheriff and his deputies have shielded minds. I can't read them at all and I can't work out why.

"Denny Stillman, the proprietor of the other saloon in town, is a definite crook. The cards are marked, the roulette wheel has a magnet under it, and the dice are loaded. He either beats the 'girls' working there or allows his patrons to do so. It's well known that he and Fuzzy did not see eye to eye and some think, but don't say, Denny had Fuzzy killed."

CeeGee frowned. "So the sheriff and his deputies can't be read and the owner of the Red Eye is a real piece of work, is that what you're saying?" He took a few steps deeper into the wreckage. Glass crunched under his boots and he stepped aside then turned to regard Lukas. "Do you know what happened to the girls who worked here before? Or didn't this Fuzzy keep any saloon girls?"

Lukas shook his head in sorrow. He'd only known CeeGee for about half a year but it was long enough to know the man wasn't going to like what he had to say one little bit. "Apparently, there were three girls here when Fuzzy ran the place. One ran off, one works for Stillman, and the third was beaten to death."

His estimation of CeeGee's dislike of the news was spot on.

"No one is going to be misusing my girls. Anyone that tries is going to find himself staring down the business end of a revolver." He looked around, motioned to the wall near the stairs going up to the girls' rooms. "We're going to need a house rules sign predominantly posted on a the wall there and we'll need to make sure everyone knows what it says, even if they can't read it for themselves. I won't tolerate my girls being struck, or forced to take men they don't want to have as patrons." He walked farther into the saloon, boots crunching through more glass, the remains of broken bottles from cheap liquor along with some glass beer mugs. "It's a good thing we've brought in our own glassware or getting this business opened would be delayed even more with this mess." CeeGee sighed and looked down at a dark stain on the floor. Dried blood. No mistaking it for anything else.

Guns of Colorado
About the series: Aspen Grove, a small town in the Colorado Rockies where big things happen. Aspen Grove seems to have an almost mystical ability to attract people of a different sort. People who don't fit in elsewhere. Ones with pasts they don't often speak about. The one thing they all have in common is a desire to make a safe haven for themselves and others who don't exactly fit in a typical town. People like Rei Naito, a former samurai displaced by the Meji. Men like Constantine Gaylord 'CeeGee' Blackthorne, a wealthy businessman who has visions of a different kind of town: one able to prosper through invention and ingenuity. Or men like Arizona Slim and Blaze Miller, who want to see the law come to the lawless frontier. Then there are the ladies, Yvonne, CeeGee's younger sister who came West to avoid a marriage she didn’t want, and Kaede, Rei's sister, both victimized by outlaws. What does Aspen Grove have in store for them? Only time will reveal the true destiny of Aspen Grove and the town's inhabitants.


About Auburnimp:

Auburnimp started writing when she was fifteen but never did much about it until she was older. She has had books published with Mojocastle, Liquid Silver Books, Dark Eden and Shadowfire Press.

In a chequered career she has been a knife thrower's target, a homeless vagabond, a housewife, a mother and on several occasions a feline midwife.

She now lives in a small house in Manchester England with a heap of dragon figurines, far too many books and her trusty laptop.

She has blue eyes but her hair color and length changes at a whim.

About Michael Barnette:
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Michael Barnette has been writing tales of manlove since the late 90s. Fleeing from the tropic heat of South Beach and Miami, Florida, Michael has steadily migrated farther and farther west and now writes within sight of the Flat Iron Mountains of Colorado. Readers can reach Michael via email at:



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This book was added to our catalog on Monday 01 February, 2016.

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