The Avenging Angel, Book Three of the Catahoula Chronicles Series is live. Meanwhile, here is a short excerpt from the book.
Set up: Ethan has been seeking revenge for three murders and has been harassing those responsible who also happen to be members of a recently formed secret organization, the Ku Klux Klan. What he is doing is dangerous, and he ends up getting shot. Wounded, he can’t go home because Rachel is unaware of his nightly activities, so he goes to the only other person he can trust.
I heard a scream behind me and turned to look. One of my pursuers had hit a low hanging branch and was unhorsed. His companion stopped to help him but decided to take one last shot at me first.
The ball hit me in my left thigh just below the hip, but I could not stop to examine the extent of my wound and kept pressing hard until I came out on a road and turned south. Fearing some were pursuing, I pressed on until I was sure I was not being followed. I reined in Pepper and looked behind me and saw no one, nor did I hear any sounds of hooves. Assuming I had lost my pursuers, I turned Pepper to get more moonlight on my leg and found an entry wound but no exit. The ball was still inside—and had to come out. I couldn’t go back to Catahoula for help. I would be discovered. There was only one other place to go, so I tied a bandana around my wound to stem the flow of blood, pulled off my mask and hood and stuffed them in my haversack, and headed for Big Cypress.
The house was in complete darkness when I arrived at Big Cypress sometime around three in the morning. I knew Laura used the front bedroom on the right side and eased out of the saddle to gather a few pebbles from the drive. Not wishing to awaken the servants or her father, I tossed a pebble against her window. Nothing happened. I realized I still had old Zeke’s hat on and tossed it under the bushes beside the house. I was just about to toss another pebble at the window when I saw a face peering down at me—Laura.
“Ethan? What are you doing here?”
“I need help, Laura. I’ve been shot.”
“My goodness! I’ll be right down.”
“But don’t wake anyone, please.”
A few moments later, she appeared in her dressing gown at the front door and let me in. “You needn’t worry. Father is asleep in his bedroom. How bad is it?”
“Just bad enough I can’t go home like this.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Get the ball out and dress it.”
She helped me into the butler’s pantry in the back and lit a lamp. “Drop your trousers, then hop up on the table and let me have a look.”
I slipped my belt and loosed my fly to let my trousers down to my knees and painfully climbed onto the table.
“I’ll save you the embarrassment of making you remove your unmentionables.” With that she grabbed them by the bullet hole and ripped the leg open. “Hmmm, childhood, Virginia three years ago and now this? Seems like you are dropping your trousers for me a lot more than maybe you should, and yet we never…”
“That’s enough, Laura.”
“Just a little levity for the situation,” she replied as she wiped away the blood. “Nice clean hole. No fabric from the trousers or your drawers seems to be in the hole, so maybe you can avoid infection.”
She retrieved a bottle of brandy from the shelf and liberally doused a cloth with it. “This’ll burn a little, and you may want to take a few shots before I start probing for the ball.”
“You’ve done this before?”
“Kind of late to be asking that question, seeing as I have you on my operating table, so to speak. But to answer your question, yes I have—at least I watched the surgeons remove more than a few balls in that hospital in Richmond I found you in back in ‘63.”
I took a long pull of the brandy. “That seems like an eternity ago.”
“Yes it does,” she replied as she felt around the outside of the wound with her fingers. “You may be in luck and get to avoid my oh-so-delicate probing with my finger. The ball is right under the skin about two inches from the hole.”
I looked where she was pointing and did see a slight protrusion under the skin. “How’re you going to get it out?”
She pulled open a drawer in the server and retrieved a sharp knife and a stone. As she went to lapping the knife on the stone, she said, “Cut it out. I suggest you have another pull on that bottle.”