UPDATE: The winner is…Latifa Morrisette!
Below, I have a snippet from my story. It’s fun and fast! And all three characters will be ones you’ll see again if you follow my Montana Bounty Hunters. I have a new spin-off series starting with the release of Cage in July. So, if you want to hint of what’s coming, read on!
Answer my question above for a chance to win one of my Montana Bounty Hunter stories! There are presently nine books in the series, so plenty to choose from!
Excerpt from “In the Wild”
After a charging bison comes between her and her latest skip, a bounty hunter must rely on the survival skills of her park ranger rescuer
If not for her GPS device, Martika Mills wouldn’t have had a clue where she was. All she knew was that she was soaked to the skin, mud sucked at her boots, and two days into this hunt, she was no closer to finding Marlon Oats.
Earlier that morning, after sliding a twenty to a gas station attendant on the Montana border, she’d thought she was getting close. She’d gotten a description of the car Marlon had “borrowed” on his flight into the wilderness and had found it parked in a narrow roadside viewing point, just inside Yellowstone National Park.
After that, she’d followed the narrow stream into a deep gully off the road, knowing Marlon considered himself quite the fisherman, or so his mother had said. No doubt he intended to live off the land until the heat died down after he’d failed to make his date with the judge in Helena, where he was due to be tried for robbing a pawn shop in Springdale at gunpoint. His mother had been very helpful, liking the fact that Marti seemed like “a nice girl” who might “ask” her son to let her put him in handcuffs rather than shooting him. His mother didn’t want Marlon hurt, even though his skip might cost her the home she’d lived in since she’d married Marlon’s no-account, long-dead father.
Marti was just about to call it a day, figuring she had just enough daylight left to get back to her SUV parked behind Marlon’s at the roadside park, when she spotted a puff of dark smoke rising over the gully. Noting its direction, she climbed up a steep embankment, seeking footholds in mud and rock and grabbing vines along the sides of the rocky face until she stood at the top and realized the land on this side of the stream was flatter and filled with tall spring grass—and a herd of buffalo that didn’t seem to pay her any mind as she bent over and dragged in deep breaths. She glanced at her hands braced on her knees and grimaced, because they were covered in mud, which she shouldn’t give a shit about because her jeans were streaked with dirt as well.
Marlon had a lot to answer for, but thoughts of the rich bounty she’d score kept her from throwing in the towel. Her mother liked to say that stubborn was her middle name, which was a quality that worked well in her line of work. She always got her man because she never, ever gave up. She’d been bounty hunting for nearly three years now, the last one going solo because she didn’t like sharing her bounty with a partner or an agency, although she was considering working for one again. Agencies often served as bail bondsmen, too, and therefore had the downlow first on the richer bounties. Fetch Winter from Montana Bounty Hunters had been working on recruiting her to join a new satellite office he was trying to get off the ground in Dead Horse, Montana, to service southwest Montana and into Wyoming. He needed hunters with experience, and he’d heard good things about her.
She’d heard good things about the agency, too, if you discounted the cable TV show that followed his hunters out of Bear Lodge. Fetch gave his crews a higher percentage of the bounty than most agencies did, and he’d assured her that he wouldn’t be looking to do any spin-off series featuring his other offices, but he had admitted that the bonuses for the hunters who permitted the production crews to accompany them were very generous. The job was hers, if she wanted it.
But first, she had to find Marlon Oats.
Trying her best not to draw the herd’s attention, she walked along the edge of the ravine, keeping within the narrow line of trees standing along the edge of the ravine as she made her way toward the place she believed a campfire had been lit.
As she drew closer, she stayed hidden and peered into a clearing. A small tent had been pitched, one that had seen better days. One of the screen windows was torn, and one of the poles that held up the tarp over the door was missing. But she couldn’t make out whether anyone was presently occupying the campsite.
Just then, she heard movement coming from the stream below and a soft off-key whistling. Hunkering down, she waited patiently until the person climbed over the edge of the embankment and stood.
“Marlon, you sweet idiot,” she said under her breath. Her heartbeats quickened, and she drew slow breaths. She needed calm, not adrenaline, to get closer to her target.
Marlon strolled toward his campsite holding a string of four fish, which he lowered into a pot beside the fire. As he began taking them out, one at time, gutting and filleting them, and then tossing the pieces into a pan he’d filled with oil, she moved closer, choosing her footsteps carefully, grateful for the chorus of gargling grunts from the buffalo nearby that masked the sounds her feet made in the suctioning mud.
She studied Marlon to see what challenges he might present. A rifle leaned against the tent, and he held a knife in his hand. Slowly, she dropped her backpack to the ground and drew her own 10mm Remington from the holster on her thigh, and then began to work her way toward the edge of the tree line, knowing she’d eventually have to expose her position to prevent him from making a move toward the rifle.
Soft chuffing grunts sounded from the herd, but she ignored the animals, keeping her gaze fixed on the more dangerous game in front of her.
Then she stepped on a twig, and it snapped.
Marlon’s gaze swung toward her position, and his eyes widened. His gaze shot to the rifle, but she shook her head.
“I’m a Fugitive Recovery Agent, so you know why I’m here,” she said, keeping her tone low and hard.
Eyes still wide, his body tensed as though he was preparing to bolt upwards and make a run for it.
“Don’t even think about running,” she bit out.
He blinked, and his gaze went to something behind her. “Bitch, you might want to think about making a run for it.” Then a smile stretched across his face as he slowly stood and waved his arms.
What the fuck…?
Then she heard it. A deep, gargling grunt. With her handgun still held in both hands in front of her, she darted a glance behind her.
A large bison bull faced her from about twenty feet away, his head lowered toward the ground, his gaze fixed on her.
Marlon laughed then darted toward the tent.
No way was she letting him get anywhere near that rifle, even if he promised to shoot the bull. As big as the fucker was, Marlon’s peashooter wouldn’t do anything more than piss the animal off. “Marlon!” she rasped as loudly as she dared as she weighed her rapidly dwindling options. “Stay clear of that rifle, or buffalo or not, I’ll shoot your ass.”
“Your choice,” he said, raising a hand to his mouth and issuing an ear-piercing whistle. Then he turned and ran toward the gully.
Another grunt, this one louder and harsher, sounded, and she knew she couldn’t just stand there; she broke into a run, following Marlon as he ran parallel to the gully, keeping twenty yards ahead of her.
Behind her, she heard the heavy thud of hooves striking damp earth, coming closer and closer.
Any second now, she’d have to veer toward the gully and jump and hope like hell that she didn’t break something on the way down.
Then another sound came from a distance. An engine. Something small. She dared to glance back and saw an ATV running parallel but slightly behind the bull. The person driving it wore a green Park Service uniform.
Oh, thank God! But was he too late to distract the angry animal from trampling or goring her to death?
Ahead of her, Marlon gave a gleeful laugh and ran toward the naked edge of the gully, took one last glance behind him, then slid down the side on his ass, disappearing from sight.
Time for her to do the same, although with the way her hiking boots were gliding in the muck, she thought she’d be a lot less graceful and likely pitch headfirst over the rocky ledge.
The ATV’s motor revved, bringing it closer by the sound behind her. But she didn’t dare glance backward. The bull’s hooves were shaking the ground beneath her feet.
With her lungs and legs burning, she veered right, just as the ATV pulled into the path of the bison.
She peeked behind her again. The buffalo slowed then gave a loud chuffing grunt, trotting now behind the ATV. The ranger slowed, too, coming alongside her and reaching out an arm.
No way could she swing onto the back. She wasn’t particularly graceful, would miss by a mile, and get trampled for her efforts. She waved him away and veered toward the ravine.
Glancing backward, she watched the idiot ranger stop his ATV and begin waving his arms high over his head as he walked backward towards her.
“Get on the ATV,” he said, his voice calm as the buffalo ran several steps forward then made a little circle, which left him a few feet farther away when he halted, still grunting his warnings.
How like a man.
“I’ll take my chances in the ravine,” she snapped. “Besides, that’s where my skip went.”
“Get on the goddamn ATV! I’m trying to rescue your ass.”
“They teach you how to talk like that at ranger school?”
“Jesus Fucking Christ.”
He walked toward her, giving her Remington a hard glare.
She holstered it quickly but backed away, holding out her hands. “We’re good. The bull’s more interested in your Tonka toy than me now.”
Just then, the bull proved her right when he ducked his head and butted against the ATV, flipping it onto its side.