Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Man in Black --PG-13 excerpt

The Man in Black by Gwynn Morgan or www/

Blurb: Haunted by grief and guilt over the death of her domineering father, Melissa comes to Arizona  to visit her BFF Joanne Castle. They attend a mock gunfight enactment in the old mining town of Graveyard Gulch and she is entranced by the man who plays the sheriff, somberly dressed all in black compared to the gaudy garb of most of the other actors.
          Lawton finds himself drawn to the slender, shy and fragile seeming young woman but feels he is far too old for her and also fears the old enemy who has reemerged into his life may seek revenge through her, especially if Lawton seems to favor her. Soon however this mutual enemy closes in and he recognizes he can best protect Melissa by keeping her close. That may save her life but who can save her from him?


Only the man in black seemed real. He moved among the rest, lining some up, dismissing others, collecting dropped gun belts and stacking rifles beside the barn. As he approached one man who wore the elaborate charro outfit of a traditional Mexican rancher, he stooped to pick up a pistol. The Charro seized the moment. Snatching a wicked-looking knife from his boot, he lunged.

Melissa joined the crowd in a collective gasp. The blade glinted in the sun, transcribing a bright arc toward the black-covered back. At the last possible moment, the man in black twisted deftly aside. He whirled to flip the shorter but heavier man, sending him sprawling. Jolted from the Charro’s grasp, the knife flew across the corral.

Melissa gasped again. Shock held her immobile as the blade flashed through the air, settling into the dust not two feet from her toes. Catching her trembling lip in her teeth, she dared a downward glance. It had to be only a prop, but still, she shivered.

The Charro rolled into a deep puddle made by water dripping from the horse trough and came up spitting mud. The man in black ignored him, crossed the dusty yard in a loose-limbed amble and knelt to retrieve the knife. As he rose slowly to his feet, he looked straight at Melissa.

She found herself entrapped by the strangest and fiercest eyes she’d ever seen. They were a pale silvery-gray, hard and pure as the desert sun’s light. Time stopped as she burned and froze. Her head spun and her knees threatened to buckle, but she could not look away nor escape the impaling intensity of those incredible eyes.

She saw the rest of his face in a blur: sun darkened skin drawn taut over angular bones, nose a strong wedge dividing its planes, lips narrow and finely drawn, and a maze of squint lines feathering away from the outer corners of those compelling eyes. A slightly drooping ash-brown moustache bracketed his mouth.

Finally, he touched the brim of his black hat, gave a slight nod, and turned away. Melissa let her breath out in a rush. It couldn’t have been more than seconds, but she felt as if half a day had elapsed. For an instant, a dream-like image danced in the back of her mind, this time more pleasant than fearful, only to fade away before she could grasp it.

The last part of the little drama unfolded at a distance, almost beyond Melissa’s perception. All she could see was the one man’s face. Though weathered, lived-in and too hard to be considered handsome, she had never seen a face with so much strength of character. His eyes utterly arrested her. Icy in color, they nonetheless burned, branding their way across her body and into her mind. Her skin prickled as if seared by their touch. She suddenly understood how cold could burn.

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