A Bounty Hunter’s Last Stand (Preview)


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Texas, 1887

Albert ‘Alby’ Thornton felt nervous as he watched the saloon from the other side of the street. He was rarely nervous about an arrest—especially one he’d worked so hard to prepare for.

In his mind, he reviewed the situation carefully, trying to shake the unsettled feeling.

Yes, Isiah Beeman was one of the slickest confidence-men in the West, a born con man, people said. He was also a wildly successful one, if the size of the bounty on his head was any indication. Five hundred dollars was a huge amount of money for the capture of a criminal. This man was no ordinary bunco artist.

Yet Alby knew that he himself was no ordinary man in his profession. In fact, it had become a source of pride that people called him the best, most well-known bounty hunter in East Texas. Like Beeman, he had been very successful.

I can handle whatever this grifter throws at me. No need to worry.

He had tracked the outlaw carefully for weeks, finally closing in on him at a gambling house in the small Texas town of Everett. He discovered that Beeman had rented a room at the hotel and registered under his real name, a fact which seemed to indicate the man was feeling confident that no one was on his trail.

If anyone should be feeling confident, it was himself, Alby noted with determination.

When he’d found out that Beeman gambled daily at the saloon, he even took the precaution of paying off the owner in order to get the man alone at the gaming table.

But that was yesterday. Now, he was sitting on the veranda of the dry goods store across the street, feeling uncharacteristically nervous as he watched his target walk into the saloon. The outlaw was armed with a pistol tucked into a belt holster—a fact that normally didn’t deter Alby at all. Coupled with the unsettled feeling that had suddenly hit him, however, he now thought about getting some backup for the arrest.

The idea was quickly dismissed. He’d already made more preparations than usual and didn’t need any backup. He’d made this kind of capture on many occasions. Everything was fine.

I’ll give Beeman a few minutes to get a drink and sit down to play. Then I’ll pay him a visit. It’s time to stop bellyachin’ and make my move.

At thirty years old, Alby Thornton was a veteran bounty hunter with ten years of experience in the trade. Tall, lithe, and athletic, he stood up from his chair and fixed his copper-colored eyes on the building across the street. A humid summer breeze ruffled his long black hair, and his palms felt sweaty. He took a deep breath, put on his wide-brimmed hat, and stepped off the veranda.


When Isiah Beeman walked into the Mad Bull Saloon that afternoon, he noticed the gaming table was nowhere to be seen. With a smirk on his face, he sauntered over to the bar. A thickset, beady-eyed man stood behind it, polishing a glass.

“Did the owner get religion or somethin’?” Beeman asked with a chuckle.

“I’m the owner, mister. What’s the problem?”

“I see your gamblin’ table ain’t around today.”

“Fight last night. Floor’s covered in beer, piss, and blood over there. I decided to move the table into the back room until we get the joint cleaned up some.”

“Is it open for business today?”

“You betcha.”

“A beer and a shot of rye then.” Beeman gazed around the saloon as the owner filled the glasses. There were no broken chairs or tables in sight.

Must’ve been a couple of gentleman contestants in that fight.

After paying for the liquor, he walked through the open door at the back of the room and spied the dealer setting up. “Good mornin’,” Beeman muttered. He didn’t feel very good at all, in fact. Last night he’d had too much to drink, and the hangover felt like the dull edge of a knife sawing on his head.

“Good afternoon!” the young dealer, dressed in a smart-looking vest and tie, called back to him with false-front bravado. “You’re the first customer of the day, and I haven’t quite finished setting up yet. Have a seat, mister. I’ll be with you in a moment.”

Beeman noticed that the backs of the players’ chairs were facing the door. “While you’re at it, you mind turnin’ the table sideways a bit?”

He glanced at him sharply. “Why’s that?”

“I just like to keep all my options open. In case some unwanted company drops by—if you know what I mean?”

“Of course, sir.” He dragged the table sideways and continued his preparations.

The outlaw put his drinks down and took a seat. The beer tasted good in the humid, hot room. He exhaled loudly with pleasure after taking the first sip.

Isiah Beeman had been born into a family of confidence men, criminals who defrauded people by gaining their trust then siphoning money from them by all manner of crafty schemes. His father and his grandfather had done it for a living, and they imparted their knowledge to the child.

Little Isiah had been an eager student. He soon surpassed both of them in dreaming up ways to defraud unsuspecting marks, constantly pushed the boundaries, creating situations that were riskier and riskier but more lucrative, scoring often and feeding like a ravenous tiger off the thrill of the chase.

Now forty, Beeman had a Texas-sized bounty on his head due to the success of his schemes. He refused to leave his home state, however, as the danger of being a wanted man only added an extra thrill to his work. Besides, he was sure that with such proven brilliance, he would never be caught.

On this sultry afternoon, he leaned back in the chair and waited for the dealer to open up, absent-mindedly curling the waxed tips of his mustache. He was overweight from a sedentary lifestyle but liked to cover it up with well-tailored suits such as the black pinstripe one he was wearing. A derby hat sat atop a full head of salt-and-pepper hair, the pale complexion of his face dominated by piercing black eyes, constantly scanning the world for his next mark.

“Very well, sir,” the dealer announced, adjusting his tie. “The gaming table is now open for business. What’s your pleasure today?”

“Birdcage,” Beeman said tersely, eager to try his luck.

This simple game was his favorite when hungover with a scattered, fuzzy mind. There were no complicated strategies to ponder, no schemes—just betting on various combinations of the dice.

The dealer placed a fancy-looking contraption on the table, a wire cage shaped like an hourglass. This was housed within a square metal frame and mounted on a revolving crosspiece with a crank attached. Three large dice waited temptingly in the ‘bird cage’.

“A dollar for a six,” Beeman said, slapping his bet down.

“A dollar for a six,” the dealer echoed. Grabbing the handle, he spun the cage around a few times. The die tumbled back and forth noisily then dropped down into one end of the hourglass. Six black dots faced upward. “Six it is, sir!”

The con artist grunted in pleasure and raked in his money.

Damn, I like it when I start the day by winning.


When Alby walked into the Mad Bull Saloon, he saw no one except the owner standing behind the bar. The bounty hunter threw him a meaningful glance, and the man nodded toward the back room.

He walked toward the open door, a knot of nervousness curling ominously in his stomach. Drawing near, he could see Beeman and the dealer inside.

Alby stepped in, closing the door behind him and drawing his pistol in one smooth motion.

Beeman was lifting a shot glass to his lips and stopped moving with it held halfway there. He slowly turned his head. “Lookin’ for a private game today, mister?”

“No, thanks. You’re under arrest for fraud, Mr. Beeman. Don’t move,” Alby walked slowly toward him, pistol at the ready.

“Mind if I finish my rye?”

“Go ahead, you won’t be havin’ any whiskey for a long time where you’re goin’. Leave the other hand on the table where I can see it, though.” As Alby bent forward to take the man’s gun out of the holster, Beeman suddenly and viciously smashed the glass into the side of his head.

Darkness closed around him as he fell to the floor.


Alby opened his eyes and was staring at the ceiling. It wouldn’t come into focus, and there was a searing pain in his right hand. Alby glanced at it. The hand was covered in blood, and something didn’t look right. With a start, he realized a finger was missing!

Where the hell’s my trigger finger?

Alby stared in horror and disbelief, wondering if this was really happening or just a bad dream.

“What’s the matter, Mr. Thornton?” Beeman asked sarcastically. “You look shocked.”

Raising his head, he saw the man sitting casually on a chair. He had one elbow on the table, and a pistol pointed at him. The dealer was sitting on the floor nearby. He turned his head and saw a sick, frightened look on the kid’s face.

Beeman reached into his coat pocket. “Missing something?” He pulled out a severed finger and held it up with a sneer.

“You bastard,” Alby wheezed hoarsely, still hoping this was all a bad dream. He let his head fell back to the floor and found that it was hurting as bad as his hand, which had a pool of blood beneath it.

Lost a lot of blood…

“Thanks for letting me finish my drink,” Beeman said cheerfully. “That was very kind of you. Came in very handy, too.” He put the finger down on the table. “I actually thought you had me there for a moment, Thornton. But even a famous bounty hunter like yourself can’t outsmart Isiah Beeman.”

“How do you know me?” he asked. Pain stabbed at his temple like a knife.

“A buddy of mine pointed you out in the street one day. He says, ‘That there’s the most dangerous bounty hunter in East Texas, Isiah. Watch out for him!’” He threw Alby a smug shrug. “Turns out you weren’t that big of a deal. Maybe your fame has gone to your head or somethin’?

“A half-breed like you ain’t got no business stickin’ your nose into a White man’s affairs. You got what you deserved. Came closer than anybody else to nabbing me, I’ll give you that, Thornton. But here’s a little word of advice.” He stood up from the chair. “If I ever see you again, I’m gonna kill you. Not only that. I’ll kill your fiancée, too. So, you better stay clear.”


“Oh yeah, I know about your little Black songbird. Who doesn’t know about the singer at the Creede saloon? My friend told me you two are fixin’ to marry. You’re both dead if I ever see you again, Thornton. Just remember that. I don’t like the law on my tail.”

Beeman picked up the severed finger and threw it at the wounded man. It landed on his stomach, bounced, then rolled grotesquely to the floor. “There’s a little gift to help you remember what I said.” He holstered the pistol and left by a side door.

“You okay?” the dealer asked shakily after the con man had gone.

Alby didn’t answer.

“I’ll go find the Doc.”

“Thanks,” he mumbled, half delirious with pain and loss of blood. He watched out of the corner of his eye as the dealer scrambled to his feet, the room spinning crazily around him.

How could I be so stupid as to give Beeman a chance like that? Should’ve listened to my gut and got some backup.

Anger rose up in his chest.

He’d better not touch Hattie, or I’ll kill him!

Filled with rage, Alby tried to sit up, but the pain exploded in his temple, and he fell back to the floor, gasping in agony.

Chapter One

Texas, 1890

Hattie Smith stood on the small stage of the Playhouse Saloon and nodded to her piano player. He put his hands on the keys and played a slow, minor-key melody that drifted across the room. It caught the attention of several customers, and they looked toward the stage.

Closing her eyes, she began to sing:

“A convict sat in a prison cell, doomed all the days of his life.

And his thoughts went out to the ones he loved, to his home, his babe, and wife.”

She opened her eyes. More people were listening now, looking at her with poignant expressions on their faces.

“A songster lit on his windowsill, and the poor soul’s heart was stirred, 

For he seemed to sing of days gone by—to the convict sang the bird. 

He seemed to sing of freedom, in the sky near the sun’s bright ray.

 And as it brought to his eyes the tears, the bird it flew away.” 

The melody shifted into a major key, and Hattie sang the chorus with a tremor of emotion in her voice, born of her own heartbreak.

“Come to me each day, come to me, I pray! 

Sweet messenger of freedom, come to me. 

Let me hear each note that bubbles from your throat.”

 Opening her eyes again, she knew the front rows of the audience would be able to see the tear trickling down her cheek.

“The convict, like the bird, would fain be free.

 The convict, like the bird, would fain be free!”

The Playhouse Saloon in Creede, Texas, was one of the few bars in the West that not only had a stage but hosted theatrical plays on a regular basis. The owners had banked on the fact that Westerners loved tragedies and comedies from Shakespeare to the other great classics, and their gamble had paid off. People flocked to the place from all over East Texas, western Arkansas, and Louisiana.

Hattie was the house singer, entertaining the customers during theatrical intermissions. When no play was in town, she was the main event. Born with a versatile and beautiful voice, she had become well-known in her own right.

Her father, Verne—a card dealer at the gambling table of the Playhouse—had convinced the saloon’s management to give Hattie a chance as an entertainer five years ago. She had been an immediate hit with the customers. They loved to hear her renditions of everything from parlor songs to cowboy classics.

The girl was glad to oblige. She loved singing. It also brought in needed income for her and the family.

Still living at home with Verne and her mother, Laura, she was a twenty-six-year-old ebony beauty. Thin and pretty, with brown eyes and long, curly black hair, she appeared on stage every night wearing gowns specially tailored by Laura, a seamstress.

The gowns were Western-styled, yet with a touch of elegance befitting a playhouse. Her bell-shaped skirts dazzled the audience with bright colors and patterns, tassels hanging from the hemline, and sequins shining in the light of the saloon’s oil lamps.

When the song ‘The Convict and the Bird’ came to an end, Hattie acknowledged the applause of the crowd. “Thank you so much, everybody.” She smiled warmly, wiping the tear from her cheek. “That’s a beautiful song, isn’t it? Gets me every time! I’ll be back to take some more of your requests after a little break. See you soon.”

She stepped down from the stage and made her way over to the bar. The bartender, well familiar with the routine, handed over a glass of water. “Thanks, Frank.” She smiled.

“No problem. You’re soundin’ great as always, Hattie.”

“Thank you.” She took a grateful sip. The saloon was filled with dozens of men smoking cigars and cigarettes, producing a thick haze which often, like tonight, parched her throat. The water on her breaks always tasted as sweet as a cold spring in a desert oasis.

“Any trouble from the punters tonight?” Frank asked.

“No, they’ve all been perfect as punch…so far.” She winked.

He threw her a serious look. “Any of ‘em starts gettin’ stupid, you just let me know. They’ll be out on their ear right quick, same as usual.”

“You guys take such good care of me here, Frank. I really appreciate it.”

“No problem. You keep the punters happy, Hattie.”

“I do my best.”

It was hard sometimes, though—especially when some drunk started in on her about being a Black girl in a White bar. I’ve probably caught some of the rudest comments a woman could ever hear, Hattie reflected. She’d learned to roll with the punches in her years as a saloon singer and tried to take it with a grain of salt, but the comments still stung.

At least I don’t have to dance with the customers like the other girls do. There ain’t a White man in Texas wants to get caught in public dancin’ with a Black woman.  

The owners of the Playhouse paid her the same as the saloon girls: ten dollars a week, and she appreciated that. A lot of nights, she made more than them in tips. On the other hand, the other girls got a commission on every drink they sold to the men.

It all about evens out in the end, I guess. And the girls take their share of grief from the men, same as me. 

She took another sip of water, gazing over at the card table where her father was working. Verne was dressed to the nines, as usual. He had on a crisp pinstripe vest and bow tie. Elegant matching dress pants were offset by a hot-pink shirt. She waved at him, catching Verne’s attention. He soon took a break and walked over.

“How are you tonight, my girl?” he said with a grin.

“I’m doin’ okay, Daddy.”

Hattie was glad her father liked to spend most of their breaks together. He always checked in to see how she was doing and how her night was going. She did the same. It gave her an extra feeling of security in the sometimes dangerous world of a Western saloon.

“Wow, your mama really outdid herself with that dress, didn’t she?”

“Yeah, it’s definitely one of her masterpieces, I think.” She giggled, striking a pose. “You’re looking pretty debonair yourself, as always.”

“One of the perks of the job, girl. A man gets to buy himself some sharp clothes!”

Her father was fifty-eight and trim with a receding hairline and flecks of gray in his close-cropped hair. A large handlebar mustache joined up with his sideburns and completed his debonair appearance.

“You excited about your brother comin’ home tomorrow?” he asked.

“I can’t wait to see Jep!”

“Me, too. Been too long since he got back. Sorry to see him resign his commission in the Army, though.” He sighed. “But I know what it’s like for a man to get frustrated. Sometimes, you got to make a move.”

“I don’t blame him neither,” Hattie agreed. “Jep had big hopes for his career in the Army.”

“I know, girl,” Verne said with a rueful shake of the head. “Maybe the brass would’ve come around eventually, I don’t know. But what’s done is done. Me and your mama are plannin’ a big welcome-home party for him. Sound like a plan?”

“Absolutely. Let’s do it! We’ll make it one to remember.”

He grinned at her. “Alright then, you have yourself a good rest of the night, Hattie. I got to go back to work now.” Verne turned around with a wave, and she watched him stroll away.

It was time for her to go back to work, too. She finished the glass of water, put it on the bar, and walked toward the stage.

“A Bounty Hunter’s Last Stand” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

No one has ever doubted Alby Thornton is one of the most feared bounty hunters in East Texas. No matter how tough the situation is, he never fails to capture the most threatening criminals due to his impeccable skills. However, the road ahead of Alby will not always be as easy. When he least expects it, a devilish con man catches him off guard by using sick and cunning violence. In the blink of an eye, their encounter throws the bounty hunter into a tailspin that derails his life instantly. Will Alby manage to put his skills to good use in order to defeat the ruthless man?

Deeply traumatized by the events of that dreadful day, Alby chooses to disappear somewhere in the Texas wilderness. Nevertheless, the one person he leaves behind is Hattie, his beautiful fiancée, who is a singer at the Playhouse Saloon. After her dreams of a happy future with Alby are crushed, Hattie is more than devastated upon discovering his sudden disappearance. Then, as if things couldn’t possibly get any worse, he informs her that, for her own good, they are never going to meet again. Will Hattie be able to track down Alby, or will she have to accept that he is forever gone?

Alby finally finds a place to hide from the disaster that has become his life. As luck would have it, Hattie’s brother finds him and offers an epic quest that could turn everything around. Is the bounty hunter willing to shed some blood for the sake of his life and his fiancée? Or will he be condemned to a life filled with misery and hiding?

An action-packed story, featuring complex and fascinating characters, and twists and turns that will take your breath away. A must-read for fans of Western action and romance.

“A Bounty Hunter’s Last Stand” is a historical adventure novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cliffhangers, only pure unadulterated action.

Get your copy from Amazon!


Grab my new series, "Legends of the Lawless Frontier", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

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