Each week I welcome a guest to share a first meeting excerpt. Today on First Sight Saturday, Alethea Williams brings us a scene from her western historical, Walls for the Wind.
Alethea, I am so jealous! I adore Wyoming — wish I could live there — and just finished C.J. Box’s recent release. Now, on to your wonderful story.
SETUP OF SCENE:
Patrick Kelley, warehouse foreman for the Casement Brothers transcontinental railroad building contractors, first meets Kit Calhoun, placement agent for a New York City orphan train, at Hell on Wheels, Julesburg, Colorado Territory:
Patrick Kelley watched Kit and Connie make their selections, approving their careful pinching of pennies to get the best bargains. The mostly Irish railroad workers, and the gamblers and barkeeps and dancing girls who lived off them like parasites, spent money with a wild profligacy that Patrick still found astounding. As if none of them realized the generous paydays would one day come to an end with the finishing of the road. Lured after the war by a newspaper ad into coming west and working for the Union Pacific Railroad, Patrick was miserly with his earnings of thirty-five dollars a month.
Irish or no, you wouldn’t find Paddy Kelley frequenting the brothels and whiskey ranches. Patrick Kelley had plans, big plans, and he wasn’t about to squander his dreams on a diseased trollop or the turn of a marked card in a rigged game of monte. He shuddered at the thought of cards and their sudden attendant image of a pale scarecrow of a man. He deliberately turned his attention back to the two women.
These two: the milk-skinned, black-haired young beauty with the big blue eyes and two blond children sticking to her like incongruous burrs, and the auburn-tressed girl in the stylishly cut if plain brown dress—these two interested Patrick Kelley indeed. They had manners similar to the fine ladies who were always out here touring the new road with their wealthy gentlemen investor escorts, and consequently holding up the actual work of building the road. But the attire and apparent budget of these two seemingly matched that of his own immigrant underclass. He hovered near the warmth of the stove in the early morning chill of the vast warehouse, watching them debate over the quality of the washboard and tub they were considering, then fingering the selection of rough gray wool blankets before turning to pile their ultimate choices on the floor and wooden counter.
“Are you ladies bound for Cheyenne, then?” he asked as he tallied with a pencil the sum they owed.
“Ultimately, yes,” the raven-haired beauty replied coolly.
The apple-cheeked blonde toddler clung to her with both pudgy hands, whetting Patrick’s curiosity. Surely there was enough resemblance that the boy glued to the beauty’s skirt was the baby’s brother, but he could not make the numbers add up. Beauty herself couldn’t be but about twenty years old. Too young, surely, to be mother to these two flaxen-haired children?
He was even more intrigued when the auburn-haired young woman, minutely examining a bolt of muslin, asked Beauty in a half-teasing tone, “Mother, may I have a few yards of this as well?”
“We can’t afford cloth now, Connie,” the dark-haired woman replied patiently. “But perhaps a pack of needles and some thread would come in handy for repairs.”
She turned inquiring azure eyes back on him, and Patrick, with a touch of alarm, felt his knees start to tremble as her distant gaze suddenly sharpened and melded with his. He’d never seen her like; she was strikingly beautiful.
When he just stood there like a dolt, she said with a touch of asperity, “You do have needle and thread available, sir?”
END OF EXCERPT
Buy links for Walls for the Wind:
Author links – any place that you are, Alethea is too!
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Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Alethea-Williams/e/B0077CD2HW/
The Romance Reviews: http://www.theromancereviews.com/ActuallyAlethea
Alethea and I welcome your questions and comments. Come back every Saturday for a fresh excerpt from a guest author.