Excerpt: A whiskered old man with a crippled arm met Susan Flaggen in the yard. "What ya got thar?" he asked, holding the horse while she slipped off its rump, his gaze riveted on the unconscious man.
Susan gave him a look of irritation first, softening it quickly. Blazer wasn't the source of her anger. He was the only help, friend, and the nearest thing to family she had since her father died. He wasn't expressing the concern she knew he had, for which she was grateful. Lord knew she had enough worry of her own.
"Something I never intended to end up with," she told him. "I offered them the use of my horse. The next thing I knew, I had him."
"Yeah, so's who's dem and 'em?"
"Horace and Angela Norman." She began untying the ropes holding the unconscious man on her horse. "I'm sure he's the man Hatfield and his men are looking for. He fits the description, and I doubt there's that many wounded men around."
Blazer laid his good hand over hers to keep her from loosening the knots. "I got no good use fer Hatfield, but that ain't no good reason ta take a rattler in yar house."
She flipped his hand away. "They lied about who he is. He's a marshal."
"Do tell?" Scratching at the bristle on his chin, he stepped back for a better look at the man slumped over the saddle horn. "Which one?"
"I don't know."
Rubbing his whiskers, Blazer said, "Some ain't no better than the ones they chase."
"It really doesn't matter who he is. He's here, and we'll do what we can for him."
"I heared of one tall, big lion with dark hair like this har one. Iffen he be Tarbet, he be a hard one."
"We'll stay away from his fangs." She gave him an aggravated look. "Or is that claws?"
He ignored her sarcasm. "Ya let me," he told her, stepping up to be the one to pull the man off the horse. "I don't knows what we'll be draggin' so much as carryin', but we'll get 'em inside right enough."
He wrapped one of the man's arms around his neck and pulled. Getting the dead weight started was easy but nearly impossible to stop. Blazer dropped to his knees before he could stop his fall. "Draggin' fer sure," he muttered in a strained voice.
Susan pulled the other arm over her shoulders. Together they pulled the limp man up enough to drag him forward. Moving him, they both stumbled, stopping in the kitchen to catch their breath.
"Be some easier," Blazer panted, "iffen he was ta wake up a mite."
"If he ever does," she panted back and pushed the thought away. She didn't care to face the reality of him dying. "All right, through the pantry."
"Ya gonna put 'em in the cellar?" he exclaimed."They haven't stopped looking for him. Unless you want to drag him all the way up to the attic, it's the safest place I can think of."