A Gold Rush Robbery (Preview)


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Chapter One

Texas, 1895

“Stop!” Patrick bellowed the word loudly, but the thief barely hesitated. He only glanced back enough for Patrick to see the fear on his face. His eyes were red, his skin flushed purple thanks to the exertion of his sprint across the train. “Don’t be a fool now, kid.”

The thief fled regardless, running away from Patrick and bursting through the door at the end of the compartment and into the adjoining carriage. Patrick had to fight the urge to roll his eyes as he pulled a blade from his holster and followed the kid down the train, walking.

“You know you can only run for so long, kid,” he called as the door swung shut between them. He kicked it open, driving his spurred boot into the wood. The door fractured and sent splinters flying everywhere. Other passengers on the train hid behind chairs.

Patrick stepped out over the gap between the two carriages, momentarily buffeted by the wind that swept around the fast-paced train. Reaching for the next door, he jumped inside, his gaze darting across the carriage as fast as a fly might dive to and fro.

The thief was running again. He pushed past those standing in his way, even shoving a lady who ended up in a stranger’s lap with her skirts around his hips. There was a guffaw of laughter until the thief pulled a gun. He turned sharply around, facing Patrick with that gun.

Patrick held the knife down at his side and pulled his own Colt pistol, aiming straight at the thief. “Don’t be foolish,” he ordered.

There were now panicked whispers running through the carriage. Each man crouched down and ladies hid behind their own hands, fearful of a shot going off. Patrick focused on the thief he had been chasing.

He was young, too young to be part of a gang as infamous as the Black Gold Gang. He must have been in his earlier twenties, at least fifteen years younger than Patrick, if not more. His hand shook around the pistol, showing his nervousness about using it.

“You want to be arrested for murder as well as theft?” Patrick asked, taking a step forward. “Don’t be stupid. One’s an arrest, the other’s hanging.”

“No, no.” The kid backed up, shaking his head so vigorously that his brown hat nearly slid off. “You can’t arrest me. You can’t! I won’t go back to prison.”

“If you’ve been before, then you know you can do it again. At least they give you a roof, eh?” Patrick said, taking another small step forward.

That humor was lost on the thief, who glanced behind him, his teeth chattering with his fear. He didn’t look away long, but it gave Patrick the opportunity to take another step forward. They were now just a few strides apart, with the thief’s hand shaking vigorously around his pistol, and Patrick’s grasp on the Colt steady.

“Don’t make me shoot you, kid,” he ordered, his tone serious.

Silence descended between them. For a second, Patrick thought the thief would come quietly. His bounty hunts were so much easier when the criminals gave up and just handed themselves in. Patrick wasn’t used to chasing thieves. He’d chased murderers until recent months. More and more, he was being sent to catch men from the Black Gold Gang. Some of these men were killers; others were just thieves, like the young man before him.

They’ve caused enough trouble. The sheriffs want to see the back of them.

“Come on, give me the gun.” Patrick put his knife back in his belt and held out his palm, ready to take the pistol.

The thief’s dark eyes flicked between Patrick’s hand and his face.

“That’s it,” Patrick murmured, taking another step forward. He lowered his voice and spoke slowly.  “This can all be over without anyone getting hurt. Just… give me the gun.”

When the thief stared longer at the outstretched hand, Patrick looked down, too. His brown skin was a contrast to the ruddy tones of the thief’s. Where the gang member was light-skinned, Patrick was much darker, not quite black, but as brown as rusted steel.

The thief took the smallest of steps forward, his hands loosening around the gun.

“That’s it.” Patrick softened his voice. “Give me the weapon and it will all be over.”

The skin around the thief’s eyes tightened. He frowned deeply and gripped the weapon harder. He’s changed his mind.

The thief acted fast and pulled the trigger. Patrick dropped to the ground, rolling forward down the aisle, barely managing to avoid the bullet. He could have sworn it skimmed his black hair.

People in the carriage screamed as the shot echoed and the scent of gunpowder filled the air. By the time Patrick recovered, standing again, the thief had made it to the back of the train.

“No more nice bounty hunter,” Patrick muttered to himself with a chuckle and stood straight, raising the pistol in his hand. He pulled the trigger just as the thief stepped outside of the back of the train. The shot buried itself in the doorframe, breaking the wood.

“We’ll all be killed!” one woman wailed.

“Bounty hunter, eh?” another man said as Patrick pushed past the passengers, hurrying to follow the thief. “Never seen one up close before. Did you see his scars?”

“Did you see how tall he was?” a young woman asked. “Wouldn’t want to get in a fight with him.”

Patrick ignored all the whispers and opened the door at the back of the carriage. The thief was standing on a platform, looking out over the tracks that passed fast beneath them. The train showed no signs of slowing down—if anything, it sped up. Boulders and sandy deserts flicked past them, the yellowish and gray scenery blurring as if it had been marred by a painter’s brush.

“You can’t escape now,” Patrick barked at the thief.

The man turned around. His eyes were so wide that Patrick could see the whites, the color of milk.

“You can’t jump off,” Patrick warned him, stepping forward. Seeing the thief had put his gun away, Patrick did the same and held his hands out. “See? No one has to get hurt. Just put your hands together and come with me. It’s over.”

The man hesitated. He gripped the railing of the platform and looked down at the tracks that clacked beneath them. His dark hair buffeted in the wind and his jowls shook.

“I can’t jump, but you can.”

“What?” Patrick leaped back, but it was too late. The thief tackled him.

With his arms around Patrick’s waist, he shoved him toward the railing. It bent beneath their double weight and Patrick hung out from the carriage, his torso swinging in the air and his arms flailing. He barely managed to stay on the train by hooking his foot around one of the railing posts.

A hoot sounded in the distance, a great honk from a train horn. Patrick bent his head around, struggling as the wind that came off the side of the carriage pounded his face as if fists were striking his cheeks repeatedly. Squinting, he saw a train coming the other way on another set of tracks. In Patrick’s position, that train could take him out.

No! I won’t die like this.

In his mind’s eye, Patrick had a flash of something. He saw Jake, his little boy. He saw the lad smiling gleefully, his brown cheeks dimpled as his bright blue eyes that were so like his mother’s stared up at him.

The train horn sounded again, and the steam drifted nearer.

When the thief pressed into Patrick’s stomach, trying to dislodge him completely, Patrick acted fast. With one foot hooked around the railing, he raised his other leg between the two of them and delivered a sharp kick into the thief’s stomach. The thief fell back, grunting in agony as he landed on the platform. Patrick gripped the railing and pulled his body up sharply just as the train whipped past them.

The wind grew stronger. Patrick looked around, wobbling on his feet with his arms moving madly to keep himself balanced. The train was flying by at great speed.

That was close… far too close.

The thief tried to stand, groaning at the pain in his stomach. Patrick drove a harsh foot into the middle of the man’s back and the thief capitulated, falling face-first into the platform boards.

“You’re under arrest!” Patrick shouted to be heard above the roar of the train. He bent over the man, took his wrists, and tied them behind his back so the thief couldn’t escape again. “For theft, larceny, assault, and…” He flicked his eyes to the train that had now passed them, and the open air behind it. “And attempted murder. Anything you want to say, kid?”

He rolled the thief over. The kid spat at Patrick, but he dodged it in time.

“You won’t stop the Black Gold Gang,” the thief shouted.

“Really? You think so?” Patrick took the man’s bound arms and dragged him to his feet. “I’ve caught two of you this last week. Like shooting rats in a barrel, eh?” He chuckled, pushing the man back through the door and into the train.

People’s eyes swung toward him, with uncertainty and fear. Patrick swiftly looked away, not wishing to return those stares. He knew very well what people thought of bounty hunters. They were distrusted, yet Patrick was good at his job, and he had a reason for doing it. Bad men did evil things and good men didn’t. That was the way of the world, and Patrick wanted to be there to put the bad men behind bars. Just as he had said to Estelle, his wife, when he had last seen her.

I can never give up this job. It’s my life.


Patrick pushed the thief through the doorway of the sheriff’s office. With a cry of pain, the thief fell to the floor.

“That you, Patrick?” Sheriff Whalen called to him.

Patrick chuckled as he followed the thief inside, stepping out of the heat and into the shaded room. “How did you know it was me?” he asked and reached for the thief’s shoulder, holding the man down on his knees so he couldn’t get back up again.

“You’re the only one who knocks by throwing a thief through the door.” Whalen laughed and looked up from his desk where he had been scribbling on paperwork. His craggy face smiled, and his white handlebar mustache twitched with his laughter. The skin around his dark eyes crinkled as the sheriff took off his white hat and stood. “You got another one?”

“As you asked.” Patrick pushed forward the thief. “Say ‘good day,’ kid. This man is your new best friend.” He winked and chuckled again. When the thief tried to spit at Patrick for the second time, the sheriff struck the kid around the head.

“Where are your manners? Barely old enough to be out of school. Sit there.” He pointed to a chair at the side of the room. “We’ll get you locked behind bars in seconds. Don’t even think about running,” Sheriff Whalen warned.

When the thief didn’t move straight away, Patrick laid a hand on his pistol. That was enough to send the thief scurrying like a rat to the chair. He sat down with his head bent forward, his bound hands at an awkward angle behind his back.

“You got him.” Whalen tore a wanted poster off the wall and held it up beside the thief’s face.

“Yes, I got him.” Patrick sat on the edge of Whalen’s desk, folding his arms. Whalen frowned at him as he always did when Patrick sat on the desk, but Patrick just shrugged and smiled. It was an old argument of theirs after many years of Patrick hunting for the thieves Whalen had lost.

“The Black Gold Gang.” Whalen whistled with the words as he lowered the paper. “You can’t have been with them for long. You must have been in your child rags a few years ago,” he said to the thief. “Hard to imagine you part of the biggest heist gang in the area.”

He turned the poster over and read out the crimes. “Guilty of assault and robbing jewelry stores, banks, and freight trains.”

“You should add attempted murder to that list,” Patrick said, earning Whalen’s attention. “I might have been singing with the angels right now.” He placed his hands together in a prayer position and smiled.

“He came that close?” Whalen asked, lowering the poster in his hands.

“Nah.” Patrick shrugged, not willing to admit just how close it had been.

“You’ll get yourself killed one of these days, Pat.”

That was what Estelle had said to him once when they had argued about the job, but he’d carried on regardless.

She just couldn’t understand why I have to do this job. Why I can’t give it up.

“Wait there, Patrick.” Whalen tossed the poster away and took the thief’s arm. “After I’ve locked him up, there’s something I need to speak to you about.”

“I’m not going anywhere without my bounty.” Patrick sat further back on the desk, placing his spurred boot on the sheriff’s chair.

“And get your boot off my chair!”

“Yes, Sheriff!” Patrick saluted him as if he was in the army, and shifted his boot to the arm of the chair instead.

Sheriff Whalen took the thief into the jail and locked him up. He returned a few seconds later, a smell wafting into the room with him. Patrick wrinkled his nose. He knew the scent of a jail by now—a tangy mix of sweat and excrement.

“Lord knows how you put up with that smell.”

“I don’t.” Whalen locked the door tight and leaned against it. “Something’s not right.”

“What? With the smell? You could start bringing flowers in here. I warrant that nice wife of yours has some growing in her yard.”

“As serious as ever, I see.” Whalen chuckled and returned to his seat, tapping Patrick’s boot off the arm of his chair. “I’m not talking about the smell. I’m talking about the Black Gold Gang.”

“What about them?” Patrick stood and moved to the back of the sheriff’s office, where a line of wanted posters covered the wall. Whalen was excessively neat, and each poster was perfectly aligned with its neighbor. Sketched faces stared out at Patrick, the eyes and the expressions sour. It felt as if a hundred eyes were watching him.

“I’ve heard whispers,” Whalen said, his voice deep as he leaned forward in his chair. “Whispers that suggest the gang follows someone else’s orders.”

His interest captured, Patrick turned around, his brow furrowing deeply.

“Reports of a masked, well-dressed man standing at a distance from the heists. Not every time, but sometimes.”

“That’s not evidence.”

“No, but there are whispers all the same.” Whalen picked up his hat from the desk and fanned his face, trying to cool down in the strong heat of the day. “I asked the gang member you picked up last week who their leader was. He refused to say.”

Patrick shifted on his feet, moving his hands to the edge of his gun holster and staring at Whalen.

“Exactly.” Whalen nodded slowly, watching Patrick’s reaction. “Most gang members squeal as soon as they can. They think if they give up the leader, it will give them a lighter sentence. I told him my suspicion, that the leader was someone who operates outside of the gang. He grew silent after that.”

Patrick cursed and looked at the wanted posters once again. They’d had many reports of the Black Gold Gang, but if there was another whose face hadn’t yet been seen, that meant there was a face missing from this wall. Without knowing who to look for, how was Patrick ever going to find him?

“I want this gang gone,” Whalen muttered darkly. “Thieves, thugs, the lot of them. The man you caught last week, he was responsible for killing a young couple who were just walking beside a freight train they were robbing. Imagine that?” His tone grew breathy, and he inhaled sharply. “It doesn’t bear thinking about.”

“No, it doesn’t,” Patrick agreed. He thought of Estelle and the number of times he’d walked with her. It seemed a long time ago now.

What I wouldn’t give for such a simple walk again.

Yet he feared any walk would end in another argument. They would talk about the only thing they could talk about these days: the job.

“Why did the man refuse to tell you the leader’s name?” Patrick tried to shift Estelle from his mind.

“He suggested he might end up dead if he revealed it.” Whalen shook his head dismissively. “He said something like, ‘That man’s power is everywhere!’ Ha! Mad. No man has broken into my jail yet.”

“What man would break into jail?” Patrick laughed. Yet something about the conversation unnerved him, enough to make his hands fidget on his gun holster. “You got another of the gang for me to chase?”

“Not yet, but I do have something for you.” Whalen reached into his desk and pulled out a drawer. “This one’s just come in. It’s so new I haven’t put it on the wall yet.”

He unrolled a thin poster and laid it flat on the desk, holding it down with the palm of his hand and splayed fingers.

“Who’s that?” Patrick asked, looking down at the wanted poster. A rounded face was turned up toward him, with thin lips pressed together and eyes that were not so angry as those etched into the posters on the wall.

“His name is Seymour Baldwin. He’s your next hunt.”

Chapter Two

“Quick, quick. It’s the last train of the night and we have to get on it.” Seymour pulled his daughter’s hand and tugged their luggage over his shoulder.

His wife, Minnie, scurried at his side, her steps impeded by the narrow skirt of her gown. She always dressed well, in fine clothes, but tonight that hardly mattered to Seymour. There were bigger concerns now.

“Quick,” Seymour pleaded again as they stopped by the side of the train. Night had fallen thickly and with the steam that came off the train, it was difficult to see the end of the platform at all. A rounded man stood a short distance away, a whistle in his grasp as he marched up and down beside the train, his figure silhouetted in the steam. Apart from that, the family seemed to be the only ones on the platform.

I hope it stays that way.

Seymour’s eyes flicked toward the smoke. He prayed no one would come for him, no sheriff, no marshals, no one. He’d managed to hide so far, but he had to get out town as fast as possible.

“Pa? What’s going on?” Penny asked at his side.

“Not now.” Seymour didn’t answer his daughter but reached for the nearest door on the train and flung it open. He pushed his daughter onto the train.

She stumbled up the steps, looking back at him. Penny usually had a smile on her face, but not tonight. Her narrow face was lit by the orange lantern light from above her on the train. Large green eyes that were just like his own stared back at him in fear.

“No need to worry.” Seymour forced a smile, struggling with his frantic movements as he pushed the cases onto the train. “Soon, this will all be over.”

“What will?” Penny asked, reaching for the bags and helping to drag them on.

“It doesn’t matter. Find a seat, Penny.” Seymour waved her inside and took his wife’s hand, pushing her up too.

Minnie froze on the carriage step and turned to face him. Her auburn hair was curling around her ears, frizzy in the heated night.

“Seymour.” Her husky voice deepened more than her usual gravelly tone. “What’s going on? This isn’t like you.”

“What isn’t?” Seymour shrugged and tried to release her hand from his, but she held tighter to him, refusing to let go.

“You’re a happy soul, the happiest I have ever known. You sing, you dance, you joke, but this…” Her eyes watered as she stared at him. “What’s happened to you? You’re a ghost.”

“Minnie, I beg of you.” Seymour paused, glancing back as the station master blew his whistle and marched down the platform. “I will explain it all to you in time, but for now, get on this train.”

She backed up, giving him the space to follow her. He closed the door behind them and poked his head out of the open window, craning his neck to search the platform. The steam was dissipating a little and gave him a clear view of the entrance.

No one has followed us.

He fell back into the carriage, sighing with relief, though his hands were still balled tensely at his sides. He couldn’t feel completely at ease, not yet. Not until the train was on its way and they had left their hometown far behind them.

“Seymour,” Minnie hissed, pulling on his arm to get his attention again, “you tell me at once what is happening. Why have we left our home in the middle of the night? Why did you not come home until so late? Why—”

“How many more questions, Minnie?”

“As many as need to be asked.” Her fingers gripped him, knuckles white with her desperation. “Tell me something.”

“We have to get away, alright? Our home is no longer safe.”

Seymour tucked the last of their bags under his arm and walked down the train compartment, following the path Penny had taken. He placed the bags on a shelf  overhead and sat down beside his daughter, leaving Minnie to sit opposite. She leaned forward, her legs trembling and her hands restless in front of her, clasping and unclasping again.

“Pa?” Penny’s voice was quiet. She leaned against his shoulder as she had done ever since she was a toddler, looking for some comfort when she was afraid. Seymour passed his arm around her shoulders, wishing more than anything he could keep her safe. “Why does it feel like we’re running away?”

“Because we are.”

“Why?” Minnie asked, her voice growing deeper.

“I have my reasons.” Seymour looked between them, not once blinking. “Please, believe me, I do it for the right reasons.”

Penny chewed her lip but didn’t answer. Minnie, on the other hand, smiled meekly. Seymour loved her for that smile. They had been married for many years, ever since they had met at the age of eighteen. She had put up with him for the last twenty years, and it was a wonder that she still loved him. He had never felt worthy of her, not once.

Now, maybe I never will be. Guilt clung at his shoulders as if it were a shadow that was always visible, whether it was light or dark.

Looking up, Seymour saw the lantern attached to the roof of the train swing over their heads as the train pulled away. The faster the train moved, the easier he breathed.

He waited until someone moving between the carriages had walked past them into the adjoining compartment. It left them mostly alone, bar a couple who sat at the far end of the carriage. Seymour leaned forward, looking between his wife and daughter, taking the opportunity of stillness to explain.

“We must go into hiding. I know where we will begin. From there, we’ll find someplace where no one can ever find us.”

“Seymour,” Minnie’s voice was quiet, “what have you done?”

“Nothing bad,” he insisted.

“Who are we running from?” Penny pulled on his arm, her cheeks paling.

“A man with power.” He sat forward, pinching the bridge of his nose as he thought hard of what he had done. The man he had wronged would come after him, he didn’t doubt that, but Seymour still didn’t regret his actions.

It was the best thing I could do. What other choice did I have?

“What man? What power?” Minnie asked, her voice growing irate.

“Shh!” Seymour pleaded, glancing toward the couple.

Minnie’s voice had caught the gentleman’s attention. He lowered the newspaper he had been reading and peered over the spectacles that rested on his nose, looking at Seymour and Minnie. Seymour turned his head away and lifted the collar of his jacket, praying it would hide his face.

“Who the man is doesn’t matter at this point.”

“Would he hurt us?” Minnie’s stiffened, her back rigid. “Would he hurt…” She trailed off, her eyes shooting to their daughter.

Seymour took hold of Penny’s shoulder again, a protective touch, and one that Penny leaned into. He had always kept his daughter safe. He had strong memories of her learning to walk as a baby and catching her when she struggled.

“He won’t hurt her, or any of us.” The latter part was said with some difficulty. Seymour’s teeth ground together as he considered what this powerful man would do if he got his hands on Seymour.

I don’t want to know.

“We just need to get away from here. Somewhere safe, somewhere that we can think.” Seymour spoke hurriedly, murmuring more to himself than his family anymore. He buried his head in his hands.

It had all happened so quickly, he’d had no choice but to run in the night. He knew no other way to keep his family safe, and now he realized he’d have to plan more carefully from here on.

But I don’t regret what I have done. I don’t!

He moved his hands and held tightly to the belt around his waist. In that belt, some of the money he had taken was hidden. He’d have to keep it safe if he was going to get his family far away from here, somewhere they could start again.

“Ahem.” Minnie cleared her throat and Seymour looked up. “We’re being watched, dear,” she said in a conversational tone, trying to seem unbothered by it. He flicked his head around to see the gentleman that had noticed them before staring openly at Seymour.

“Zounds!” Seymour muttered. He stood and blew out the lantern over their heads.

“Oh yes, much better,” Minnie said wryly. “How am I supposed to see your panicked face now?”

“You know it’s there,” Seymour whispered. “I don’t want him looking too closely at us.” He fussed with his collar, checking it was turned up again to hide some of his face, then took a flat cap from his pocket and pulled it low over his brow.

The journey continued. They passed two stops and traveled three hours, but the whole time, Seymour felt eyes on the back of his head. He looked around, trying to see something of the gentleman through the darkness. When they were some distance away from the third stop, the man fell into an argument with his wife. He snapped at her, nodding.

“It’s him, it’s him,” he hissed under his breath. “I’m certain of it. I saw the poster at the mine this evening.”

Seymour gasped and flicked his head around, confident he had been recognized.

“What is it?” Minnie asked, her figure just visible on the opposite bench in the darkness.

“I’ve been seen,” he whispered. “God have mercy, but I think he knows me.”

“What? How can he?” Penny was trying to look around Seymour’s shoulder at the couple, but Seymour held her back. He didn’t want to risk his daughter’s face being seen by anyone, even though he’d already put out the lantern to make it more difficult.

If that man finds me, then I’ll keep him as far away from Penny and Minnie as I can.

“He’s recognized me from the wanted poster.”

Penny fell back in her seat and Minnie reached forward. She gripped Seymour’s knee sharply.


“What did you say?” Minnie asked, her voice even huskier than before. “Why is your face on a wanted poster?”

“I can explain.”

“Then do so!” she begged.

Voices reached Seymour’s ears. The gentleman was talking to his wife again, but that sound had been joined by someone moving about the carriage. Seymour looked around to see the gentleman was on his feet and walking out of the compartment, heading to the next one, plainly looking for someone.

The train conductor.

Seymour’s jaw slackened as he thought of what could await him at the next stop. The train conductor could seize him and he’d be marched off the train, into the nearest sheriff’s office. Once he was put in jail, he wouldn’t live long.

“We need to get off,” Seymour said, moving to his feet.

“The stop is soon.” Minnie stood beside him.

“No, Minnie. We’re getting off now.” He took down their bags from the ledge and hooked them under his arms.

“Have you lost all good sense?” She pulled on his arm, nearly making him drop the bags. “Mad as a box of frogs?”

“Perhaps I am, but we need to get to the back of the train. Go, please, Minnie.”

He pushed her forward, then took Penny’s shoulder and urged her to stand, too. He walked behind them as they crossed the compartment, heading in the opposite direction of the stranger who had gone looking for the conductor.

As they crossed carriages, Seymour glanced back. There was little light left in the carriage, with two orange lanterns swinging back and forth. He thought he saw the gentleman in the next compartment talking to the conductor. Then he turned and pointed in Seymour’s direction.

I knew it.

Seymour closed the door sharply.

“A Gold Rush Robbery” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Patrick is a man on a mission in the rugged terrain of the Wild West. As a dedicated bounty hunter, he’s made it his life’s work to pursue justice and uphold the law. When he’s tasked with tracking down a thief who’s stolen from a gold mine owner, he discovers that not everything is black and white. As Patrick unravels the truth, he’s forced to question everything he holds sacred…

If only things were as simple as he thought…

Seymour Baldwin is ready to face whatever comes his way, even if it means going up against a bounty hunter as fierce as Patrick. Very soon though he’ll discover that they have more in common than they thought and that their struggle is greater than just one man’s theft.

Is it possible to trust his bitter enemy?

As they journey deeper into the Wild West, Patrick and Seymour confront a host of dangers, from bandits and outlaws to treacherous terrain and harsh weather. With time running out and danger lurking around every corner, can Patrick and Seymour emerge victorious and find the redemption they seek? Only time will tell in this epic Western Adventure.

“A Gold Rush Robbery” 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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