An Old Foe comes Calling (Preview)


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Chapter One


Three Years Earlier

Cheerful music drifted outside the saloon, drowning the sound of the wooden doors as they swung back and forth in the hot afternoon sun.

Hank Gregory, the most infamous hustler in the entire Wyoming Territory, had just sauntered inside, ready to play a few hands of cards and enjoy a few drinks along with it.

He gazed around the saloon with narrow eyes, not at all shy about staring down anyone who dared to glare back at him. Not many challenged him, however, as nearly every man in the place knew who he was—and knew better than to try to fight him.

He was a confident man, especially in a saloon. It was clear he knew the kinds of people who worked in such places, and he knew how to maintain the upper hand no matter what happened.

It was how he made his money, and he obviously had no intention of stopping any time soon. Why should he? He ruled with an iron fist, and he knew how to silence any man who dared try to bring him to justice.

He frequented the small town of Big Rock, but this wasn’t the only town the man considered his own. He’d killed sheriffs and their men in many of the surrounding territories, and he made it clear to any new man of the law he had no problem in adding to his number.

As he grabbed a whiskey from the bartender and headed to a table, it didn’t seem Hank had a care in the world.

But he wasn’t alone.

On the other side of the saloon stood another man, his face turned toward the floor and his hat pulled low. He had a cigar in his mouth and he took puffs regularly, creating a ring of smoke above his head.

He didn’t speak to anyone else in the bar and ignored the saloon girls, seemingly unaware of what was going on in the room around him.

And that was just what he wanted.

Nathanial Teague had been waiting for this exact moment for a long time, and it seemed it had finally come. He’d trailed Hank Gregory for months, and as far as he was concerned, it was time the hustler was brought to justice.

Nathanial had been the deputy sheriff of Big Rock for only a year, but he’d been hunting Hank for much longer. He’d lost his father when he was just a boy, and the man who killed him was none other than Hank Gregory. Since then, he’d vowed to track down Hank and do whatever it took to bring the man to justice once and for all.

And that day had come.

Nathanial had worked hard, talking to the men who came through town and asking about Hank Gregory’s whereabouts every chance he could, until he finally learned that Hank was on the way. Then, Nathanial had written to surrounding towns, asking for help.

He’d assembled a small group of marshals who were all after Hank as well, and he’d posted them at each of the doors of the saloon that very afternoon, telling them to wait until Hank came through.

Now, as he glanced around the room, his men were in position—all he had to do was wait for the right chance to make a move.

It was a saloon. Men were drinking, tempers flared. Gambles were made and cheating hands were played. It was the worst time to try to bring a man in to the law unless there was just cause, and Nathanial knew he was going to have to bide his time for that.

Hank wasn’t a guy who would play by the rules; Nathanial had known that from the beginning. Once Hank had a few drinks and played a few hands, he’d start to cheat—and it wasn’t going to take long before someone called him out on it.

Most of the people in the saloon would mind their own business, but it only took one man who didn’t want to lose his money to say something before Nathanial had grounds to step in.

And, as luck would have it, that chance came sooner rather than later.

“You cheating bastard! I know you ain’t got higher than this! What are you doing, boy?” a drunken man drawled. “If you think I’m going to put down another dollar on this hand knowing full well you’ve been cheating from the beginning, you’ve got another think coming!”

“What’s wrong?” Hank asked. “You knew when you sat down at the table you were going to be tempting fate! Lady Luck just didn’t bother smiling down on you today, it seems. Pay up.”

“I’m not giving you another bloody cent!” the man shouted.

“I said, pay up!” Hank flew to his feet, tossing the table as he did so. Chips flew into the air, men looked up from their own card games, and several of the saloon girls cried out as they scattered around the room, heading for some sort of cover.

Everyone knew once a fight broke out, there was little chance of order being restored without guns being fired, and no one in the saloon wanted to get hit by a stray bullet.

Nathanial already had his hand on the holster of his own trusty firearm, ready to yank it out and start shooting at a moment’s notice. He wasn’t about to let Hank start shooting before he was in his rival’s face.

“Hank Gregory, you’ve met your match!” he shouted above the din of the crowd.

The man Hank had cheated was ready to throw punches, but Nathanial knew Hank was far more likely to pull out his gun and start shooting before he would get into a fist fight with someone, and he hadn’t been a moment too soon.

But instead of dropping his gun as Nathanial expected, Hank laughed in his face.

“Well, looks like you’ve got the drop on me, eh, Sheriff?” he cooed. “What, did you come chasing me all the way up from Little Brook down south last year? I was sure that would be the last I saw of you when your friend fell from his horse on that cold, wintery morning.”

“Shut up!” Nathanial snapped. “I’m taking you in for theft, and you’d better believe you’ll be standing trial for a lot more than a petty card game by the time we’re done with you. You’re wanted for murder, Gregory, and you’re not going to walk away from this one.”

“Am I not?” Hank sneered.

With catlike reflexes, he lunged forward, completely unafraid of the gun that was pointed at his chest. Both his hands slammed into Nathanial’s chest, knocking him to the ground in an instant.

“You’ve nowhere to go!” Nathanial shouted after Hank as the man bolted for the door. “You’re surrounded!”

But, to Nathanial’s horror, Hank not only made it to the door, but he ran right through—past the marshal who should have stopped him, and without anyone else in the saloon taking up the chase.

“Dammit!” Nathanial slammed his hands on the floor as he leapt to his feet. The marshals he had posted to guard the door were already on their way back to their horses, counting money in their hands as they did.

It was clear to Nathanial that Hank had been aware of his plan to take him in the saloon, and he had paid off the marshals without Nathanial even realizing it. The thought was bewildering, as Nathanial had watched the door like a hawk.

But there was a reason Hank had managed to evade the law for as long as he had, and unless Nathanial was able to catch him now, there was no telling when he would have another chance.

“Sorry, Sheriff! You’ve got to be better than that if you’re going to catch the likes of me!” Hank cackled as he jumped onto the back of his coal-black horse.

Nathanial had left his own mount right outside the saloon, intentionally tying a knot that was easily undone. In a flash, he was on the back of his mare and digging his spurs into her flanks, urging her into a full gallop before they had even reached the end of the boardwalk.

Hank was putting distance between them, but Sister was fast, and it wasn’t long before Nathanial started to close the gap. He was determined. There was a reason why he was the sheriff of this territory. He wasn’t the kind of guy who gave up easily, and he wasn’t about to give up now. He would hunt this man down until the day he died if he had to—and if Hank had his way, Nathanial knew this could be his last.

The town disappeared behind them; the prairie stretched out ahead for as far as the eye could see. There were mountains farther south, but Nathanial was more worried about losing Hank among the rolling hills than he was about his adversary reaching the mountains.

Hank could hide in the hills for days—weeks, even—and Nathanial didn’t have the resources to be out that long. He had to bring this man to justice today, or risk losing him for who knew how long once again.

“You’ve got nowhere to run, Hank! Give it up!” he shouted as he drew closer to his quarry. “You’re going to kill that animal before you make it out of here, and I’m not stopping until I run you into the ground!”

In response, Hank fired his weapon, trying to hit Nathanial off his ride. The bullets continued to whizz by, but Nathanial refused to stop. He couldn’t give up when he was so close to bringing this man into jail.

He wasn’t going to stop until Hank Gregory was hanged—it was a promise he had made to his father the day he died, and it was a promise he kept making to each new person who lost their life to the man. Nathanial wasn’t about to let Hank get the best of him, and he knew riding out onto the prairie as they were would only end in either his death or Hank coming back into town with shackles on his wrists.

Nathanial knew Sister was about spent, but he urged her onward, determined to catch up with this man.

Then, in a stroke of luck, he felt he saw a miracle take place right before his eyes.

Perhaps it was a prairie dog hole, perhaps it was a loose rock—whatever it was, Hank’s horse dropped out from beneath him, throwing his rider to the ground.

In an instant, Nathanial was also on foot, pistol drawn and ready to fire.

“It’s over, Hank,” he said, his chest heaving as he caught his breath. “You’ve nowhere to go. Put your hands in the air and come quietly, or I’ll shoot!”

“Alright, alright, you got me,” Hank said, holding his hands above his head. “I have to hand it to you, boy, I didn’t think you had it in you to follow me out here.”

“I’m not interested in talking,” Nathanial shot back. “Keep silent and keep your hands up!”

He stepped forward, his shackles already in his free hand. His heart raced as he approached the man, but he was excited. At long last, he would bring in the one man he had hunted longer than any other. He would finally see this man brought to justice—he could finally let go of the pain he carried on behalf of his father.

Then, Hank lunged.

The blows came down hard and fast on Nathanial’s face, knocking the gun from his hand. He’d not seen the attack coming, thinking an unarmed man wouldn’t attack a man with a gun, his experience not yet enough to teach him to be careful no matter what.

He fought back, but Nathanial wasn’t nearly the fist-fighter he was a gunslinger, and it didn’t take long for Hank to get the upper hand. He threw a second punch that caused Nathanial to spin, landing on his back and throwing his pistol from his hand.

“You stay back!” he shouted, crawling to the side to grab the weapon as Hank stalked over to him. Hank had withdrawn a knife from his pants, and he now smiled a wicked smile at his victim.

His gold tooth glinted in the sunlight, his weathered skin dark against the bright blue sky behind him.

“Shame, I would have expected more out of a man who was so good on a horse,” he said. “But still, I have to hand it to you. You did good, son.”

“Shut up!” Nathanial cried, his voice nearly cracking. Hank grabbed his shirt, yanking him nearly to his feet. But, instead of plunging the knife into his chest as Nathanial thought he might, Hank grabbed his arm, twisting it behind him.

“It’s your lucky day, boy,” Hank snarled. “I like you. I like your spunk. I don’t know what I would do with myself if you weren’t after me. I worry I’d get bored.”

He yanked Nathanial’s arm, causing him to yelp. “So, I’m going to give you a chance here. You’re young, but you’ve learned your lesson. I’m sure of it. I’m going to give you a warning, however.”

He put the knife to Nathanial’s ribcage, pressing hard enough to draw blood.

“If you ever come after me again, I’m not going to stop until I kill you and make sure every single member of your family—every single person you care about in life—is dead! You got that?” he snapped. “You got that?”

“I got it!” Nathanial managed, rage welling up inside him but powerless to do anything.

He was out of breath, he was unarmed, and he knew right now he was beat. But he wasn’t going to let this man scare him. He would come after him again, and he would bring Hank Gregory to justice.

“You aren’t going to get away with this,” he said. “You might have won today, but you’ll never have peace in your life until you’re brought to justice—and you will be!”

“You know what?” Hank said. “I think you might be missing my message. Here, let me give you something to remember me by.”

Hank whipped the knife away from Nathanial’s side, at the same time making another swift slice against Nathanial’s arm.

A flock of partridges filled the sky as the sudden scream scared them from hiding, before it faded into the whistle of the prairie wind.

Chapter 2


“Y’all behave, now. I’ll be back.”

Delfina carried the empty tray back to the kitchen, holding it level with her shoulder and on one hand despite the fact there weren’t any drinks left to carry after leaving her last table.

A beautiful young woman of only twenty-two, Delfina Bell was well-named. She was a Southern belle through and through, even though she lived out West.

Charming, curvy, and of African-American descent, Delfina was the most popular girl in the saloon. She had the darkest brown eyes anyone in the region had ever seen, and her spunky attitude was enhanced by her playful jet-black curls.

But few knew that she disliked the job, and she disliked what she had to do to be so popular.

The fact was, Delfina was the oldest of three sisters, and she worked hard at the saloon every day to ensure her sisters didn’t have to enter into the same industry. She hated having to pay special attention to the men who came through the doors, all in hopes of getting a better tip or higher pay for her efforts.

Her sister Estelle worked as a maid in the hotel just next door, and little Flossie was still in school. They were both young, pretty charmers themselves, and Delfina planned on doing everything in her power to make sure they never had to be in this kind of crowd, or around these kinds of men.

She spent her days waiting tables, chatting with newcomers, and hanging around the tables where the card games were played. Every now and then, she would run the gambling wheel, encouraging men to throw their money at Lady Luck in the hope of her smiling down on them, but her favorite part of the job was dancing.

It wasn’t that she enjoyed being the center of attention, but the fact that she was sweet on the piano player, Nate Teague.

Quiet Nate was an incredible pianist. He had a gentle smile and a soft, low tone, and made a stark contrast to the rest of the men who worked at the saloon. He was tall and handsome with green eyes, and Delfina didn’t blush at the fact she admired his muscular physique through his shirt and vest.

But perhaps the thing that caught her attention most about the man was the fact he was able to play so well despite missing a finger.

His pinky finger on his left hand was gone—and she’d never heard the full story as to why.

There were rumors and speculation, plenty of theories spread around by the other men who worked the bar or played games throughout the room, but no one was able to say with full certainty what happened. Not even Delfina herself was able to get the truth out of him.

Not that she didn’t try.

She spent more time at the piano, talking to the mysterious player, than anything else. She’d step away enough when the owner of the saloon was around so as not to get in trouble, but when he wasn’t there, she was hanging around the bench every spare chance she got.

And now, she seized the opportunity to stop by again.

“That’s one lively tune,” she told Nate, setting the tray on top of the instrument. “You got another? I’m feeling a jig coming on and want a tune to match.”

“You know I’ve always got another tune in me, Miss Bell,” he told her, looking up with his bright eyes and a sweet smile. “I love to watch you twirl and sway the day away like the rest of the people in here.”

“Yes, but I happen to like it best knowing you’re watching,” she giggled, her sweet Southern accent coming through.

She was open with her flirtatious charm, partly out of habit from her job, but partly because of her genuine attraction to Nate.

He smiled, letting his gaze fall back to the keys. He never stopped playing, not even when he looked up to carry on a conversation, which Delfina thought was one of the most magical things she had ever witnessed.

“You are a mighty fine dancer,” he said, nearly causing her to blush.

“Why, thank you. It’s a pity you’re here on the piano and can’t be out there on the floor with me. I wouldn’t mind a partner who was steadier on his feet than some of the others who accompany me,” she said.

He chuckled. “You compensate well for them. Besides, I’m sure you don’t have to worry about anyone taking their eyes off you, anyway.”

“Oh, you’re too kind.” She waved off the compliment with her hand.

“Drink for the pretty lady?” a cowboy drawled as he walked over, a drink in hand.

Delfina smiled. “Thank you, sir, I will.”

“My partner and I was wondering if you wanted to join us at the table over that way.” He indicated toward the corner of the room, and Delfina put her free hand on her hip.

“Well, I might be stopping by to see how y’all’s game is getting along later, but right now, you caught me when I’m in the middle of something, honey,” she said. “Thank you for the drink, though, I sure do appreciate that!”

He tipped his hat to her before heading back to his table, refusing to look the other men in the eyes along the way.

It wasn’t uncommon for Delfina to turn down an invitation from someone trying to get her to step away from the piano. She had no shame in doing it, and it made it all the more meaningful for someone when they managed to get her to indulge their request.

But right now, Delfina wasn’t in the mood to get to know another pair of strangers. She’d spent the afternoon bustling from one table to the next, making conversation with newcomers, flirting with the regulars, and most of all, trying to get a chance to talk to Nate.

“Turning down some tips?” Nate asked.

“The way they’re throwing money on the table, they’re not going to have much left to tip with, anyway,” she told him. “I’m not thinking that one is quite worth the work to put in.”

“Oh, making them work for your attention, makes sense.” He winked at her and she smiled again, shaking her head and reaching for the tray.

“Why don’t you finish this. You must get mighty thirsty over here playing all day without anyone stopping to give you a drink,” she said as she set the remainder of her drink in place of the tray.

“Appreciate it. I get along okay, but I’m not going to turn down a little something from my favorite saloon girl,” he said, causing her to blush again.

“You keep up that charm, and you might as well be the one out here waiting tables yourself.” She laughed. “Now, kick up that tune! I’m putting this in the kitchen and I want to have something to dance to when I get back.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Nate said as he segued the calm melody into something upbeat and catchy. It wasn’t anything Delfina could put a name to, but it was one he played frequently.

There were times she would stop Nate and ask him where he’d learned how to play so well, or where he’d learned certain songs, but he never gave her a direct answer.

“I picked it up somewhere along the way, I suppose,” he’d say with a shrug and a smile.

A shrug and a smile—how he answered so many of her questions. It was enough to drive her crazy with curiosity, but it did nothing to take away from his charm.

In fact, it only led her to want to know more about him.

And she wasn’t the only one.

Nate Teague was often a topic of discussion in the back dressing room, where Delfina stopped briefly to check her makeup and feathers.

Two of the other saloon girls were fitting themselves into dresses, getting ready to head out onto the floor for the night. Delfina was one of five other girls who worked at the saloon, but she was the only one who worked the full day and did so most days.

She did it for the money, but she didn’t deny it was nice Nate worked the same shift most of the time.

“And the way he plays is just mesmerizing! I could stand and watch him all day long!” Daphne was saying as she fixed a feather in her hair. “I’m telling you, that man has to be magic or something because I don’t see any other way he could play like that.”

“I just wish he’d talk!” Mary Jo lamented back to her friend. “I have so many questions, but he clams up as soon as I try to talk to him about his past.”

“You mean, how he lost his finger? Or how he got that scar on his face? I heard he got in a fight with a mountain lion and fought it off with his bare hands!” Daphne said.

“Really?” Mary Jo’s eyes widened at this. “That’s terrifying!”

“Well, if you just look at him, you can see he’s not afraid of anything. He doesn’t even look up to see who’s coming in or going out of the saloon—just plays and plays like he hasn’t a care in the world.” Daphne shook her head.

Delfina didn’t join in with the conversation. By now, she’d heard all the stories and all the rumors, and she knew there wasn’t any way they’d ever know the truth until they heard it from Nate directly—and since he didn’t open up to anyone, including her, she didn’t think that would happen any time soon.

Still, the thought of him fighting a mountain lion with his bare hands did make her think how heroic a man he was, and since he was so handsome and so mysterious, she didn’t deny that it was a real possibility it could have happened.

There were times she felt a twinge of jealousy when she heard other girls talking about Nate like that, but she had to remind herself that he was a loner. It didn’t seem to matter who wanted his attention, he kept things to himself.

He didn’t stay at work past his shift, and she couldn’t recall a time she’d seen him around town when she wasn’t at work, either.

“You girls had better stop your chatter and get out on the floor. You don’t want Mr. Barnes to catch you back here cackling like a couple of chickens when you ought to be out there working,” Delfina told them on her way back to the front of the house.

“Yes ma’am!” both younger girls said in unison.

While she wasn’t in charge of the other girls per se, Delfina did take her job seriously, and as one of the girls who had been at the saloon the longest, she wanted to keep good standing with their hardnosed boss.

He didn’t care for anyone standing around and getting paid for it, so she kept the other girls on their toes. Delfina liked the small group of girls she worked with, and she didn’t want to see any of them in trouble with the older man.

But as she stepped back out into the crowded dining room of the saloon, all thoughts of the other girls were pushed out of her mind. She hadn’t been gone long, and Nate was now in the middle of a tune that beckoned anyone to come and dance.

She let herself go to the beat of the music, moving her feet and swinging her hips with a smile on her face. She tossed her head, letting her wild curls dance along with her, falling to her shoulders and caressing the nape of her neck with an inky black that framed her dark features beautifully.

There was no denying Delfina was the most beautiful girl in the saloon, and she had the grace of an angel. Men from all around the room would stop their games to watch her dance to the music, and many would whistle and try to get her attention soon after the song stopped.

But Delfina would rarely stop once she started, and song after song would play, keeping her feet moving and her hips swaying long into the evening. Only when she had to stop and make sure everyone had their drinks full and food on their tables would she break from enjoying herself in the moment.

Throughout the night, she would often throw looks back toward Nate at the piano, and she’d flush with a bright smile if she ever caught him looking back at her.

She didn’t know what was going on in his head, but she hoped he was thinking about her—wondering about her as much as she wondered about him.

With as much mystery as surrounded that man, she was sure she’d never know the truth. But she’d never stop asking, either.

“An Old Foe comes Calling” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Nathanial Teague is a mysterious man full of secrets who has suffered a lot throughout his life. His job as a piano player keeps him busy every day, filling the saloon with his tunes despite only having nine fingers. Due to his reluctance to speak about his past adventures, no one knows what caused him to lose his finger. Except for a dark foe with evil intentions from his past…

How will Nathanial react to the threatening comeback of his former enemy?

As soon as Hank Gregory, a notorious hustler, enters the saloon for the first time in three years, Nathanial knows their confrontation will end in bloodshed. As if Hank’s presence wasn’t enough to cause chaos, he now appears to be turning his attention to Delfina, the girl who has stolen Nathanial’s heart. The moment he sees that, Nathanial realizes it is time to finally bring the vicious criminal to justice for the sake of love.

With his brave face on, he will find himself in the thick of a suspenseful adventure…

Once Hank reveals his true colors, Delfina finds herself in mortal danger and Nathanial is the only one who can save her. What started as a rescue mission, though, soon turns into a living nightmare, filled with blood trails until the very end. Will Nathanial defeat evil when he realizes that there’s even more at stake, including the fate of the woman he deeply loves?

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.

“An Old Foe comes Calling” 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!

3 thoughts on “An Old Foe comes Calling (Preview)”

  1. Can’t wait for your book; I was hooked by the time I read the fourth paragraph! I enjoy your writing. Thank you.

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