Under the Western Sky is my retro-romantic suspense. Also from Tirgearr Publishing, Under the Western Sky takes readers back to 1976. This retro romance is full of faced paced suspense as well as the story of young love in bloom.
Libby Marshall and Bobby Menendez are happy in their new found relationship. Friends for years, they finally realize their feelings are much deeper than mere friendship. They are just beginning to explore this new relationship when Bobby’s cousin, Ramon, is beaten by white boys because he dared to date a white girl.
Racial tension is high in the small, Midwestern town as the police strive to find the guilty parties. Bobby and Libby wonder if he will be the next target as events unfold and the true evil is revealed — Under the Western Sky.
© Dellani Oakes
Excerpt from Under the Western Sky
Having worked summer stock out here several times, Bobby knew they kept a fully stocked tool shop. Tools made handy weapons. The shed would be locked, but he hoped to get in without too much trouble. Provided they hadn’t changed the combination on the padlock, he still remembered it.
Taking a deep breath, he scooted across the open stretch of land between the stage and the scene shop. This was where he was most vulnerable. A dim bulb lit the front of the shed and he would be visible until he got the door open. Saying a silent prayer, he dashed across, flattening himself against the side of the concrete brick wall. His hand found the lock as he slowly rolled to face the door. His fingers moved quickly, but his shaking hands made him start over twice before the lock gave a distinctive snick, falling open in his palm.
He eased the door open and a dim string of lights flickered on when he touched the switch. Moving with confidence, he found what he was looking for. Grabbing a tool belt, he filled it quickly with screwdrivers, hammers and chisels. He stuffed a bag of nails into his pocket; a razor knife went into another.
“I swear, I thought I saw something down here,” a man said, outside the shop.
Bobby flicked off the lights, grateful that they wouldn’t show outside. He slipped quietly into a corner between the router and the table saw, sliding silently down the wall.
“What’s in there?” He heard Tex ask someone.
Danny answered slowly, his words somewhat garbled. Bobby was sure his lips were swollen from the beating he’d taken.
“That’s where they keep stuff for the plays. Old scenery, paint.”
Bobby wished he’d put the lock back on the door, but it was too late to worry about it now.
“Open it,” Tex commanded.
“It’s probably locked, boss.”
“Open the goddamn door, moron. Here, I’ll do it myself!”
Wood creaked and shattered as Tex kicked it down. Bobby had to suppress a laugh. He’d have gotten through a lot quicker if he’d simply tried the doorknob.
“Keep him out here,” Tex said to his companion.
Tex entered the shop immediately running into a stack of lumber just inside the door. It was a dumb place for it, but as it was always there, Bobby had known to avoid it. Cursing loudly, the man tried to find a light switch but they were hard to find in the dark. Whoever had built the shop had wired it wrong, putting the switch on the opposite side of the shop. The only switch operated the string of Christmas bulbs Bobby had used to find his way around.
For the first time, Bobby noticed the sawdust on the floor. Although there were other prints in it, his were distinct and fresh. They didn’t escape Tex’s notice.
“Someone’s been in here,” he called over his shoulder.
While his head was turned, Bobby jumped up, pushing the table saw toward the big man. With a roar, the older man jumped out of the way as the heavy power tool fell on the floor.
“You little shit! I’ll get you for that!”
Bobby hurled a handful of nails at him, grabbing a 2 x 4 off another stack of lumber. Screaming, Tex flung his arms up to fend off the nails. Staggering, he stooped, grabbing another piece of wood for himself.
The two pieces of lumber cracked together, sounding like a gun shot. Grunting and cursing, Tex wailed away with his piece of wood. He was strong and his blows hammered mercilessly at Bobby. A lucky shot got in under Bobby’s guard, glancing off his elbow. Pain and numbness shot up his arm as the end of the wood connected with his funny bone.
He dropped his 2 x 4, fingers numb, arm throbbing. Tex advanced, taunting him with the wood. Bobby knew his left arm was useless, hoping the blow hadn’t broken it. Easing a hammer out of his tool belt, he held it low, waiting for Tex to move.
Tex grinned, laughing harshly. It was a cold, hollow sound in the cement shop.
“Not so feisty now, eh, muchacho?” He moved closer to get a better shot at Bobby.
Bobby countered his movement with his own, getting a better grip on the hammer. As Tex swung back, he hurled the hammer at him, catching the man on the side of the head. It was a glancing blow, but knocked him back a step. Roaring in pain, Tex rushed him, board cast aside and forgotten.
Bobby dropped into his fighting stance, ready for him. In one fluid motion, he grabbed Tex by his outstretched arm, locking it to his side. Putting one leg between Tex’s, he trapped the bigger man. Even with his left arm dangling limp at his side, Bobby yanked hard on Tex’s arm. With a satisfying crack and a yelp, he knew he’d dislocated his elbow.
He threw Tex to the floor, flipping him on his face, nose in a pile of sawdust. He yanked the injured arm straight up behind him, pinning him in place with a foot on his neck.