I’m pleased to announce that my newest novel, Under the Western Sky, has just been released from Tirgearr Publishing.
Set in 1976, this retro-romantic suspense is set in a small town in Western Nebraska. Following in the wake of a botched FBI situation in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, the racial tensions in the small town are at an all time high. Bobby Menendez is dating Libby Marshall, a white girl. His best friend, Danny, is also white. Little do any of them know but a white supremacist organization seeks to make Danny and his father members. Can the three of them resist the pressure being put on them?
Below is an excerpt from Under the Western Sky.
Libby Marshal leaned over the pool table lining up her shot, slender hips twitching to KC and the Sunshine Band. She hummed distractedly as she eyed the table. Bobby Menendez stood behind her enjoying the view. His hands moved forward, tingling to touch her.
“Touch me and die, Roberto Hermida Menendez.”
“Man, how did you know?”
She made her shot, long distance across the felt top, snapping her pool cue, nearly nailing him in the balls when her arm came back.
“Shouldn’t stand so close,” Danny said across the table from her.
“Oh, man, the view!”
Bobby held his hands the width of her hips apart. He bit his lip as she faced him, a frown on her face. Her green eyes flashed at him. With a toss of her short, blonde, curly hair, she moved away from him with a glare. His dark brown eyes followed her, longing in his well tanned face.
“View’s damn good over here, and safer,” Danny grinned.
He’d been looking down her top as she bent over to shoot. He loved the fact that it was 1976 and even in this small, conservative, western Nebraska town, girls were liberated, freeing them from the confines of establishment undergarments. The no bra look was great! And Libby had such perky tits. Bobby could have his dangerous ass view, Danny went for tits every time.
“Boys, behave,” Toni’s father said from his office behind them.
Funny thing how Toni’s old man always had work to do when the boys came over. He would casually follow the four of them down to the pool room in the basement and sit in his work room fiddling with some electrical components while they played pool and listened to music. He didn’t mind them coming over, but they weren’t going to be unchaperoned either.
“Yes, sir,” they chorused.
They stepped back, snapping to attention, not quite saluting. Each with military fathers, it was hard not to when he talked in that tone. Fifteen years as a Marine before a shell shattered his right leg, didn’t go away. Everyone in town called him Captain Cristo. Only the very brave called him Grant.
“Girls, Mom’s got dinner almost ready. Why don’t you hustle up and help her set the table.”
“Yes, sir,” Libby replied, setting down her cue.
“Sure thing, Daddy,” Toni leaned hers against the wall, leaving a blue streak of chalk.
The boys hesitated, unsure how to proceed. They hadn’t been included in that request. Captain Cristo solved that for them by setting aside his work. He stood stiffly, old war wound tightening up on him. He motioned them into his work room, closing the door behind him.
“She may not be my daughter,” he said without preamble. “But you ogle her like that again, or put a hand on her,” he looked right at Bobby. “I’ll break all three of your legs.”
The boys exchanged a look. It took no explanation to know what the captain meant. Hard as nails though he may be, the words, break your balls, would never pass his lips in his wife’s house. He was very specific about language. Nothing stronger than damn passed anyone’s lips under his roof in her house.
“It happens I like you boys, or you wouldn’t be here.” He glanced at Bobby, who shuffled his feet, but met his gaze.
“Thank you, sir,” Bobby mumbled.
“I don’t forget being seventeen. I venture to say, I was as horny and troublesome as you two. If the Marines hadn’t grabbed me when they did, God knows where I’d have ended up.”
“My dad says the same thing about himself,” Danny ventured to interject quietly. “Only he was Army.”
“A Ranger.” Captain Cristo nodded sharply. “Damn fine heritage, boy. Your daddy too, Roberto. He was a great man. He died too soon.” He paused a moment, remembering Navarro Menendez with regret. “Just so we understand one another. Staying to dinner?”
“If Mrs. C. agrees,” Danny looked hopeful.
“When doesn’t she?”
“Honest, we don’t plan it,” Danny explained. “Just the girls call and invite us. It coincides.”
“Not a problem, boys. It’ll be a hard time for sure when I can’t feed a couple extra mouths. Go wash up, Emma will be calling us soon.”
They moved quickly to the small bathroom near the stereo and washed their hands under his supervision. They were drying their hands when his wife called from the kitchen above.
“Honey! Boys, dinner!”
“Coming, dear,” Grant yelled back.
They walked up together, the boys slightly awkward with the captain directly behind them. His eyes seemed to detect any inconsistencies, sifting away until he found the truth of it all.
“Let’s have Bobby over here,” Emma Cristo pointed to a chair next to the windows.
Libby was placing a large bowl of mashed potatoes on the table. She looked up rather dismayed. Danny winked at her and Bobby took his place beside her. Toni and Danny sat opposite the other two teenagers.
“I swear,” Emma said after their blessing. “I may have given birth to one child, but I’m raising a dozen. Not that I mind, I love a big family. I’ve got seven brothers and three sisters,” she told them, not for the first time.
“And I’ve got two of each,” her husband contributed. “But what Toni lacks in siblings, she makes up for in friends.” He ruffled Libby’s hair.
“You might as well adopt her, Dad, she’s here all the time.” Toni grinned, tossing her long dark hair over her shoulder.
She and Libby were such a contrast. She was tall, solidly built, with dark hair and eyes. The Indian blood Toni had showed in her features as well. Libby was shorter and athletically built with short blond curls. She was all Scotch-Irish and looked it.
Bobby and Danny responded quietly as they passed the food around. When they were asked a direct question, they answered, but didn’t initiate conversation themselves. They were very intimidated by Captain Cristo. He was pleasant and generous, but he also had a way of reminding a guy to be on his best behavior around the women.
“Who wants ice cream?” Emma asked as the teenagers cleared the table.
They all said they’d love it. The girls washed dishes and the boys dried. Once the dishes were back in the cupboard, she pulled a half gallon of vanilla out of the freezer and chocolate syrup and peanuts to go on top.
“Mom, since it’s Friday, can Libby spend the night?”
“I expected she would,” Emma replied with a smile. “Mom’s working late again?”
“Yes, until closing.”
Libby’s mother worked serving tables at the local bar. Nearly every night was a late night for a single woman with a child. Between her wages and a small widow’s pension, she barely got by.
Danny cleared his throat quietly. The captain’s dark eyes drifted over to him. He turned a little red around the ears, but continued to speak.
“Bobby and I were wondering if the girls could go to a movie tonight, Captain Cristo?”
“Did you ask the girls first to see if they wanted to go?”
“We thought we should ask you first, sir,” he answered sheepishly.
To Purchase Under the Western Sky