Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sample Saturday - 2015/02/21 - Lonnie

Welcome back! In the opening scene of New Blood, Storekeeper Wes Haught has just seen a new girl in his store, and his reaction is zinging out of control. Here, he gets back on task to mollify his customer.

As the girl moved off toward the dry goods aisle, Wes reluctantly returned to his task, painfully aware of Mrs. Slonaker's fingers tapping the counter. Evidently, she had nearly reached the limits of her patience. Wes regretted peeving the woman. Their interaction was usually more cordial, more familial. He had looked on her as a surrogate mother ever since his own had been taken so suddenly ten years before. She had reciprocated with maternal warmth. Perhaps her morning had been less than satisfactory. He realized he was adding to her distress with his distracted manner, and turned to focus on her.

Mrs. Slonaker sighed, peered at the list on her paper and read out, “Five pounds of sugar.” Her voice held a strong note of disapproval.

“What else is on your list, ma'am?” Filling the order item by item would take several more minutes. The girl's father was clearly restless, and Lonnie’s promised minute had stretched beyond reason.

“A sack of potatoes and six cans of peaches.”

“Very well,” he said, and called over his shoulder toward the back room. “Lonnie! Stir your bones and bring out a bag of spuds. Move yourself.” He weighed out the sugar, sacked it up, and then grabbed the cans from a shelf and lined them up on the counter. “Will there be anything else, ma'am?” Without waiting for her answer, he glanced over the assembled groceries, and began writing the prices in a row down a scrap of brown wrapping paper so he could add up the bill. When he was finished, he looked up expectantly.

“That's all,” Mrs. Slonaker said. “The boys will pick up the order this afternoon.”

Wes nodded and began to add the figures. When he had finished, he gave the woman the total cost.

Lonnie appeared from the back of the store, a bag of potatoes over his shoulder. As he caught sight of the young lady, he stopped dead and whistled in a low tone.

Uh-oh. We can’t have any of that. Wes gave Lonnie a glance he hoped would quell his interest, and motioned to him to put down the potatoes and return to his nonsense in the back room. Lonnie gave him the evil eye in return, slung the potatoes onto the floor, and would have strolled over to make the girl's acquaintance if Wes hadn't cleared his throat with authority. “Did you sweep up that spill out back?” Better he plays with his gun than fouls the situation out here.

Lonnie growled a vulgar response, and returned to the back room.

Mrs. Slonaker tapped her fingers on the counter again. From her reddened face, Wes figured she’d heard Lonnie. Taking a deep breath, Wes returned his attention to the matter of the bill and mentioned the amount again.

The woman sniffed. Her countenance expressed her disgust at the treatment she had received today. “Put it on the ranch tab,” she said, and turned away, stopping for a moment to appraise the stranger from top to toe before she headed toward the door.


Thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoyed the sample. I appreciate your support of my work.

Author Marsha Ward's recent novel, Gone for a Soldier, is a 2014 Whitney Award Finalist in Historical Fiction. She wrote the novella, Faith and the Foreman, in the best-selling Timeless Romance Anthology Old West Collection, and is the author of an acclaimed novel series featuring the Owen family. Book 4, Spinster's Folly, won the 2013 USA Best Book Award for Western Fiction, and recently was named Finalist in Western Fiction in the 2014 International Book Awards. A former journalist, Ward has published over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories. She is the founder of American Night Writers Association, a.k.a. ANWA.


  1. I love this little snippet and congratulations on the 2014 awards! Well done.

    1. Thank you, Connie! I appreciate your visit.


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