Western Wednesdays—RANSOM by Frank Roderus + Giveaway

A kidnapping forces two enemies to work together in Ransom, a high-octane ride by the legendary Frank Roderus.  Now, usually I preview at least the entire first chapter, but I’m cutting this one short—for good reason. You’ll get a look at the two rivals, but I’m holding back a meet-and-greet with the woman that stands between them. So as to judging the true merits of these men and their conflict, you’ll have to dive into the whole of Ransom. Shameless ploy? Maybe, but I’m also offering a chance to win a paperback copy of Ransom. How ’bout it—what are some love triangles done right? Done wrong?

Happy Reading,
Allison Carroll
Dorchester Publishing

 Chapter one

A small, nattily dressed man came around the corner onto Hardesty Street. John Taylor saw him and immediately shrank back into the doorway of Swofford’s Farm and Ranch Supply. Taylor grimaced and hissed, “That son of a bitch.” His knuckles turned white from the force of his grip on the handle of the hammer in his hand. “Bastard,” he whispered. He felt an impulse to rush out into the street and use the hammer to smash Richard Hahn’s head.

“Did you say something, John?”

“I … no, Mr. Swofford. I didn’t say nothing.”

“Oh well.” The owner of the business hesitated, then gave Taylor a weak smile. “When you’re done repairing that facing, John, I have some paint in here for it.”

“Yes, sir. I’ll only be a few minutes more on this. Figure I can put on the first coat soon as I’m done pounding nails an’ the second coat this afternoon after lunch. How would that be, sir?”

A wagon rattled past, empty judging by the way the wheels bounced off the ruts they rolled over. The driver, Dean Caligan, raised a hand in greeting although whether to Taylor or to Swofford, John was not sure. Perhaps to both.

Taylor returned the gesture, Swofford did not.

“Fine, John. Fine,” Swofford said, sounding like he did not particularly mean it. He turned and went back into his store.Taylor peered into the street. All he could see of Hahn now was a glimpse of the SOB disappearing into the bank.

An image projected itself into Taylor’s mind, an image so vivid and unsettling that his knees buckled and he reeled back against the door frame that he was working on. The image was of Jessie. Jessica Taylor, damn it. Taylor. Not Hahn. Never would be Hahn if he had anything to say about it. He visualized Jessie lying naked, the way he had seen and loved her so many times through the course of their marriage. In his mind’s eye she lay open, loving, inviting. But the man she was inviting into herself was Richard goddamn Hahn.

Taylor squeezed his eyes tight shut against images he only imagined, but they remained. He could see them. Could hear Jessie’s little whimpers and moans. The way she used to sound for him. For him, damn it, for him. He could imagine Hahn…

John’s breathing quickened and his grip on the hammer tightened all the more. For one ugly moment his impulse to charge across the street and crush Hahn’s miserable skull was almost overwhelming.

“John.” Swofford had to repeat himself several times before he finally got Taylor’s attention.

“Sir?”

“Are you all right, John? You’re pale as a ghost. Are you sick?”

“No, sir.” Angry. Sick to his furthest depths, he thought. But he said nothing.

“If you’re not feeling well, John, you can finish this tomorrow. No harm done if you’d like to wait until then.”

“No, sir, I … I’m fine. Really.”

“If you say so. But if you change your mind, just let me know.”

“Thank you, Mr. Swofford. I’m all right. Really I am.”

“Very well. I’ll be inside if you need me.” He returned to his sales counter to be available if he was needed there.

Two of the town’s respectable married ladies came by. They entered the store, their skirts swirling and trailing a delicate scent of powder. There was already one of the less respectable women shopping in there. That could lead to fireworks but probably would not. Each would ignore the other and very soon the soiled dove would fly out into the street and away to the edge of town where her kind stayed.

John crept a few feet forward, out toward the sidewalk, until he could see the front of the bank. There was no sign there of Hahn. No sign anywhere of Jessie. He felt, quite suddenly, like crying. But grown men of thirty-six with a wife and a child do not cry. Never mind where that wife and that child happened to be living at the moment. Never mind that the low-life son of a bitch Hahn was half John Taylor’s size. Never mind the fact that John could break Hahn in half without raising a sweat and then break those pieces in half too. Lordy, he did want to do that. He would have too except for the fear of what Jessie might do if he maimed the bastard.

John regained control of his emotions, plucked a light finish nail out of the pocket of his canvas carpenter’s apron, and went back to the job Mr. Swofford had hired him to do.

As expected, the lass of the evening came hustling out with her eyes brimming with unspilled tears and her cheeks red.

John whacked the finish nail. Hard.

* * *

Dick Hahn smiled and leaned across Randall Bonner’s handsome desk. He accepted the papers the bank president handed him, fussily straightened them even though they were already straight, then slipped them into his folio and fastened the soft leather folio shut. “Thank you, Mr. Bonner. Seventeen hundred this quarter, hmm? The bank is doing well.”

“We both are, Dick.” The way the banker’s waistcoat gapped between the buttons suggested that he was expanding quite as much as his bank’s assets were.

“So we are,” Hahn agreed. “You’ve held back a reserve for depositor payrolls and such?”

“Of course.” The banker smiled. “Prudence, Dick. Prudence in all things. That is the way I see it. Always have.”

“Sensible,” Hahn agreed. Agreeing with his largest and most important client was all part of the business. “And your investments are liquid in any event. I shall get this ‘buy’ order away in tomorrow’s mail pouch.” He pursed his lips and nodded. “I really believe you will like this new security. I know the issuing agent personally. Met the gentleman when I was in Chicago last fall.”

“What is the promised yield, Dick?”

“One and a half. I could get you another quarter of a point elsewhere, but for that I’d have to lock you in for time certain. Better to keep things fluid in case of unanticipated need. I know you agree with that.” He winked. “Prudence. Remember?”

Bonner laughed. “Yes, always.”

“Are we all set for this quarter, then?” Hahn asked.

“Indeed. And don’t worry, Dick. I’ll follow with the transfer of assets as soon as I have the paperwork completed. A day, two at the most.”

“Very well, sir, and I will have an updated report on the bank’s total portfolio in another few days. Just as soon as I have confirmation that these purchases have been completed.”

“There’s no rush, Dick. You know I have every confidence in you.” Bonner reached for the humidor on his desk, offered a cigar to Hahn, who declined, and took out a fat, pale, very expensive Hernandez y Hernandez Presidente for himself. He used a silver cutter to trim the twist, then struck a match and lighted his smoke without bothering to first warm the tobacco. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like one of these, Dick?”

“Thank you, but I don’t smoke.”

“Oh my,” Bonner said with a shake of his head and a billow of exhaled cigar smoke. “You don’t smoke. Don’t run around with wild women either or I suspect I would have heard about it. Whatever do you do for fun?”

Hahn laughed. “Surely you don’t expect me to answer that, sir.”

“Surely I do not. Which reminds me, when are you and Jessie going to set a date?”

Hahn scowled. “When is that sorry son of a bitch John Taylor going to agree to the divorce? Jess has asked him for one. He continues to refuse her.”

“I’m sorry, Dick. I didn’t mean to bring up a painful topic. You know I’m pleased for you and Jessie. You make a wonderful couple and I know you will have happiness together.”

“We do, sir. We already do.” Hahn stood and tucked the folio under his arm. “If you will excuse me now, I need to get back to my office and prepare this order.” He sighed. “You know, things will be so much easier once we get the telegraph extended this far.”

“They say we should have a line in next year or thereabouts.”

“It can’t be soon enough for me.” Hahn leaned forward and shook hands with Bonner. “Thank you for your business and for the trust you place in me.”

“With every confidence. Really.” Bonner smiled. “Will you be sitting in on the poker game tonight, Dick?”

“Now, Randy. You know my heart is pure.”

“Never stopped you before, you old phony.”

“Nine o’clock?”

“As always.”

“I’ll see you there.” In truth, Dick Hahn hated the all but obligatory poker games Bonner hosted for a select few of his cronies. Those social events were important to his business, though. The participants were his primary source of clients. They were among the few in Thom’s Valley who could afford to think in terms of investment capital.

Hahn turned and made his way out of the bank president’s office and back to his own very nicely appointed small suite above Walker’s Dry Goods.

When Dick Hahn first set himself up in business, those two rooms were bare planking and sharp splinters. He spent nearly everything he had to decorate and furnish his office. Appearances were paramount in the investment business and he wanted Hahn & Associates—not that there were any actual “associates” yet—to charm potential customers the moment they walked in the door. Polished wood, wool rugs, and warm colors gave an air of opulence that reassured everyone including Dick Hahn himself. And soon, he believed, his own personal fortunes would match the impression he displayed for the benefit of others. One or two more corporate accounts in line with Randall Bonner’s and Dick Hahn would be well on the way toward genuine prosperity, perhaps even wealth.

Better yet, there was Jessie. There was always Jessie. In his mind and in his heart, there was Jessie.

Hahn was a happy man as he walked down Hardesty toward the comforts of his office.

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2 Responses to Western Wednesdays—RANSOM by Frank Roderus + Giveaway

  1. Al Avery says:

    I love westerns, and the author has done a fine job.
    I was only a club member for about a year before they stopped
    the club. Thank you very much for all your contiued work.

  2. LINDA B says:

    WONDERFUL EXCERPT FRANK, MY HUBBY WOULD LOVE FOR ME TO READ THIS TO HIM. DANG HAS NEVER READ A BOOK IN NEAR 20 YEARS!!! LOL

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