Today is a special blog post. It’s the first blog tour I’ve ever taken part in! I’m excited to share with you a excerpt from A Mighty Fortress by fellow indie author Faith Blum. A Mighty Fortress is the first book of Hymns of the West, a series of Christian Westerns. Doesn’t it have a lovely cover? :) Make sure you check it out and visit Faith’s blog to see the rest of the posts on the tour: http://faithblum.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/introducing-my-first-blog-tour/
Enjoy the excerpt!
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Joshua left the coroner's office and trudged to the Leland residence. He hesitated before knocking on the door.
The door opened and Mrs. Leland stared at Joshua. “You look exhausted, Joshua!” She looked behind Joshua. “Where’s Neil?”
Joshua held up a hand to stop her question. “May I come in and sit down, ma'am?”
“Of course.” Her voice was more hesitant and Joshua knew she was figuring things out. “Come on in. I'll get you a cup of coffee.”
“No, thank you, ma'am. I'll just say what needs saying and leave.” Joshua sank into a kitchen chair and stared at his boots. “Your husband...”
“He's dead, isn't he?” Mrs. Leland whispered. Her eyes filled with tears and her lower lip trembled. “I had a feeling...I had a feeling something would happen.”
“Yes, Ma'am. We were ambushed. He was in the lead and took a bullet right in the heart.”
Mrs. Leland swallowed her tears. “And the prisoners?”
“In Helena under the Marshall's custody.”
Mrs. Leland lips turned up a slight smile. “You've done my husband proud, Joshua. Thank you.”
Joshua nodded. “You're welcome, ma'am. I wish...”
“God has a reason for this.” She laughed hoarsely. “I don't know what, but I know He does.”
Joshua looked down at the floor again. “Yes, Ma'am. I'm sure He does. I'd best be going. I'll see you tomorrow at the funeral, ‘less you want me to stay?”
Mrs. Leland shook her head. “No, but perhaps you could send Ruth or your mother here?” She gave Joshua a forced smile. “I don’t want to be here alone right now.”
Joshua tried to interrupt her, but she held up a hand. “Joshua, you are exhausted and need some rest. The best way you can help me right now is to get home, send your mother or sister over here, and then get some rest.”
Joshua closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Thank you, Ma’am.” He turned slowly and found his way to the front door letting himself out of the house.
Joshua allowed his horse, Poseidon, to choose his own pace on the way home. Home. That had a nice ring to it. If only he could go home and sleep for two or three days. But, no. He had a funeral to attend the next morning and he would be filling in as sheriff until a new sheriff was appointed or elected.
The voice seemed to float somewhere in his brain. Who had said it? He tried to look around, but his eyes and head would not cooperate.
“Is he hurt?” A male voice this time. Then someone touched him and he jerked awake. Ruth stood by his horse, William and his parents nearby.
William was the first to speak. “I'll take care of Poseidon, Joshua. You look beat.”
“Thanks.” Joshua tried to smile, but all he could do was slide his exhausted body off his horse and try to stay steady as he stood. “I am beat. I drove pretty much straight from Helena here.”
Joshua looked up and saw concern on his father's face.
“Only you?” Daniel asked.
Joshua closed his eyes against the pain in his chest. Why did his new best friend have to die like that? “Yes. We were ambushed and the sheriff was killed. His funeral is first thing in the morning.”
“Oh, poor Mrs. Leland. Mother?” Ruth breathed and turned to Harriet.
“Yes, Ruth, if your father is agreeable, you may go do your best to comfort the woman.”
The words rang a bell in Joshua’s head. “Oh, yeah, Mrs. Leland did ask if Ruth or Mother could go stay with her for a little while.”
Daniel nodded his consent. As Ruth walked to the stable to saddle her horse, Joshua realized that William seemed to want to ask him something.
“What is it, William?”
“What happened? You don't seem to be hurt, and yet the sheriff is dead.”
Joshua sighed. “Sheriff Leland was in the lead and I was in the rear. He took the first bullet and I shot the rest of the men.” He laughed bitterly as he recalled the day. “They weren't very smart about their choices. The sun was directly overhead and glinted off their rifle barrels. After shooting 'em all, I got the prisoners to Helena.”
William nodded before walking Poseidon to the barn.
“Good for you, Son.” Daniel's voice was husky with emotion. “You did the right thing. Now go in and get some rest. We'll wake you in time for the funeral.”
Joshua nodded his thanks and dragged himself into the house and to the bed that had been beckoning his name all day.