Take a twenty minute break and get lost in a free short story.

Drama, suspense, and a touch of romance are combined to form a story about violence, friendship and the love of a horse. How far would you go to save a friend’s life?

Following is the introduction to “Mountain Justice.” It is free today through Saturday, November 21st, at Amazon.com.

MOUNTAIN JUSTICE

Gravel scattered across the driveway as he braked his truck to a halt. She glanced out the window in time to see him lurch from the driver’s seat. Trouble was coming. She went outside to meet him, and cringed when he staggered up the steps to the porch. She saw his arm reach out, at the same time a sudden pain jolted the side of her head, snapping her neck forward and knocking her to the maple planks of the splintered wooden floor. 

He took two steps forward, reached for her right arm, pulled her to her feet, and said, “I saw you outside the grocery store with that veterinarian. I saw that look you gave him.”

With her head pounding and her vision blurred, she pulled her arm backward, unsuccessful in her attempt to pull it from his grasp, and thought, “If I don’t get away, this time he is going to kill me.”

He hit her again. Her teeth punctured her lip and the familiar coppery taste of blood filled her mouth. She jerked her arm back and twisted away, breaking his grip. Somehow she got to her feet and sprinted down the steps toward the road. He was right behind her.

In three long leaps, she was across the dirt road, past the fenced paddock and into the woods. Vaguely aware of a sharp pain in her shoulder, she was focused on the heavy steps that pounded close behind her. Running as fast as she could, she felt like she was slowing down and imagined she could feel his breath on her neck. 

He was strong, and he could run, but she was faster, at least she had been before she was five months pregnant. She made it past the edge of the woods before she stopped to listen. Hidden by the width of the vast trunk of a giant old sycamore tree she leaned against the tree to catch her breath. It was quiet. Had he turned back?

Before she could breathe a sigh of relief, she heard his slurred shout, “Don’t think you can hide from me, sweetheart. I’ll find you and make you sorry you ran.”

If she could just stay hidden until morning, if she could just survive just once more, this time she would call the sheriff. It had to end. She moved her hands gently over the swell of her abdomen and whispered, “I’ll protect you.”

She felt his presence before the rustle of the underbrush announced him. She held her breath. He was close, perhaps no more than twenty feet away, but the crunch of the branches was softer, as though he was moving away from her, toward the stream. If he went down over the ridge, she could make it back to the barn and hide there until he passed out or left for the bar. She closed her eyes, and prayed for him to keep moving. Then there was silence.

When she opened her eyes, he was standing five feet away. And when he reached for her, there was nowhere to run. With a grip like a vice, he grabbed her wrist. Without saying a word, he dragged her through the brush and the thorns, stumbling occasionally, but hanging onto her until they got back to the house.

After a brutal shove up the steps and across the porch, he said, “I told you not to run from me.”

He kicked the front door open and thrust her into the house.  She tripped and collapsed onto her knees. He pulled her to her feet, so that he could knock her down again, and again, and again.

***

A licensed veterinarian, Rob Tully lived alone. The nearest town was about twenty-five miles from his home, a log cabin that was surrounded by woods, near the top of the mountain. His family had lived on that mountain since 1882 when his great grandfather acquired one-hundred-seventy acres of land. Although the cabin had been expanded and renovated over the years, the original structure remained a part of the home.

As a child, Rob was taught that the mountain would provide about everything a person needed. As an adult, Rob had found that to be true. Rob loved his mountain and the animals who shared it with him. He particularly liked to watch the vultures that flew above the cabin, roosting in the old walnut trees.  Gramps always said they kept watch and let a person know if trouble was rolling in. Great Grandpa Tully had been a good teacher and Rob learned a lot from him, not only about nature, but also about good vs. evil, and the wisdom of relying on what Gramps called, ‘gut instincts.’ Some called them premonitions.

Beyond the ridge, the sun was making its slow ascent in the clear sky and Rob expected a beautiful day. He was looking forward to seeing Annie later that morning. She had called and asked him to stop by and check on her horse in exchange for breakfast. He readily agreed. That woman certainly could cook.

Rob and Annie had been friends since childhood. Truth be told, he’d loved Annie since they were both about ten years old. He thought about the day they’d gone swimming. School was out for the summer and the weather was perfect for an afternoon at the lake. The grass was high, and billowed in the mild breeze, while the sun’s warmth evaporated the lake water from their shoulders. They were racing up from the lake when Annie saw something move in the tall grass. She froze in her tracks and waited for another motion, before she crept forward to see what was there.

“Oh, look, Robby! It’s a garter snake!” Annie, being Annie, had no fear of any living creature. She carefully picked up the snake and held it up for Rob to see. At the time, he was amazed, not only at the colors of the snake, but that it was absolutely unafraid of Annie.

The snake looked at him and slowly moved around Annie’s hand and lower arm. That’s when ten-year-old Robby knew he was crazy about the red-headed snake charmer. He’d loved her ever since.

***

Please pick up your free copy, at the “Buy on Amazon” link below, then hit the share button, and help me spread the word. Thank you for your continued support!

Free today through November 21, 2020.

If you enjoyed “Mountain Justice,” you might like my crime novel, RACE INTO MURDER. It is on sale for $.99 from November 19th through November 25th, also at Amazon.com.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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