Authors: Cassandra Gannon
Cowboy from the
copyright © 2014 Cassandra Gannon
Image copyright © 2014 Cassandra Gannon
by Star Turtle Publishing
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Also by Cassandra Gannon
The Elemental Phases Series
Warrior from the Shadowland
Guardian of the Earth House
Exile in the Water Kingdom
Treasure of the Fire Kingdom
Queen of the Magnetland
Magic of the Wood House
: Destiny of
the Time House
A Kinda Fairytale Series
Wicked Ugly Bad
Beast in Shining Armor
Not Another Vampire Book
Love in the Time of Zombies
Cowboy From the Future
If you enjoy Cassandra’s books, you may
also enjoy books by her sister, Elizabeth Gannon:
The Consortium of Chaos series
The Son of Sun and Sand
The Guy Your Friends Warned You About
The Only Fish in the Sea
The Snow Queen
The Man Who
Beat-up Prince Charming
To road trips with my
family in the American West.
Mule rides down the
Grand Canyon that nearly killed us.
Driving 100 miles
into the California desert to see a cement dinosaur.
Trying to visit all
of South Dakota in twenty minutes and still have time for the gift shop.
Colorado, food poisoning in Utah, sunburns in Wyoming, hideous hotel comforters
And some of the best
times I’ll ever have.
made an amazing choice in selecting our “Cowboy Adventure” package for your corporate
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locals, stunning vistas, and exciting adventures await you as you explore the
American West. This once-in-a-lifetime experience will bring your employees
closer and energize them to drive your business forward. Quaint mining towns, authentic
locals, and up-close encounters with nature are just part of our all-inclusive
for the trip of a lifetime, traveler.
We here at
Brown’s Glamping Tours guarantee this experience will be like stepping back in
Glampling Tours Official Pocket Guide
woman’s aura was bright gold.
the flat golden color of a coin or the gaudy shade of a cheap ring, but the
luminous glow of sunrays shining on water. Brilliant and clean. Like warmth
and light and life itself. Behind the bar, Cade Westin felt himself go still
right down to his core. No one could have an aura that pure. It was
else was gaping at the woman’s coat, which was bright pink. The kind of pink
that didn’t exist anymore, even in a big polis like Deadwood. For an outpost on
the ass end of nowhere, like Shadow-of-the-Gods, the woman’s strange clothing
was the most vibrant saturation of color anyone had ever seen.
who couldn’t see her incredible aura, anyway, which was even brighter than her
walked into Cade Westin’s saloon and the handful of regulars who’d braved the
snow for the promise of hard liquor fell silent. Some with them froze with
their glasses halfway to their mouths and all of them were wondering the exact
the fuck was she?
in the polis knew everyone in the polis, so there was no way she could have
passed unnoticed in their midst for even a day. But, on the other hand, strangers
didn’t just wander into Shadow-of-the-Gods at this time of year. The snows
were too high for horses and you’d have to be a suicidal idiot to hike in. Nobody
could survive on foot for more than a few hours in this weather.
even at the height of summer, a lady like this wouldn’t come to
Shadow-of-the-Gods. And she sure as hell wouldn’t enter Cade’s bar.
where had she come from?
woman pushed back the quilted hood of her jacket, looking around the dismal
interior of the tavern. A curly mass of strawberry blonde hair tumbled past
her shoulders. Shiny and soft. The color of it was nearly as amazing as her
incredible aura and the vivid shade of her coat. In a world where nearly everything
was dingy brown and faded gray, she was so fucking
She said to the room at large, her eyes scanning nervously. “Um… I’m sort of
lost and I think I need help. Which way is the lodge?”
miners stared at her with varying degrees of confusion, bafflement, and total
incomprehension. Nobody talked like that. Not anymore. Some Outlanders still
used the ancient dialect and, on the other side of the spectrum, it was favored
by the leading groups of humans. But Cade had never heard
it with her elegant precision. It was like listening to somebody recite from
an ancient text.
lodge?” She repeated. “The big log cabin-y place that sells t-shirts and
overpriced cocoa?” Whatever that gibberish meant, it came out sounding like
question. “If it’s too far to walk, I could just call a cab to take me back.”
She frowned down at the flat box in her hand. “I already tried, but there’s no
cell reception. Like,
.” She held up the box, moving it around
at arm’s length and shaking her head. “Do you have a landline around here?”
kind of phone or computer or… anything?”
with everyone gaping at her, the woman cleared her throat. Her eyes skimmed
over their grubby clothes and grubbier faces. “Is this the Wild West reenactment
thing? Shit, I didn’t check that stupid guide book, but maybe that’s happening
today. Am I not supposed to talk about modern technology?” She shoved the box
into her pocket, like it was somehow offending them. “Don’t worry. I’m not
going to ruin your little Dodge City act. I’m part of the Brown’s Glamping
Tours group. I just want to get back to my hotel and take a hot shower.”
one of those sentences made any sense. Cade’s mind shifted through them,
trying to decipher their meaning. Everyone else was doing the same, with an
equal lack of success.
She said again. “The sign outside says
is a hotel, actually. At
least, I think it does. In kind of… weird English.” She looked back towards
the door and the blizzard outside. “Which is good, because I can’t keep
walking out there. It’s getting dark and it’s way too cold. What the hell am
I going to do if I can’t…?” She trailed off and shook her head. “No. Let’s
could tell she was starting to panic.
fine.” The woman said to herself, trying to calm down. “Think positive. I’m
avoiding the evening sing-along, right?” She took a deep breath. “So if you
don’t have phones in this… um…
little town, do you rent rooms?” Her
eyes drifted over the patrons and she winced. “With locks. Like a
Westins did rent rooms. Technically. No one but the most desperate souls
would ever want to sleep in them, though. Drinking was the main pastime in
Shadow-of-the-Gods, so, most evenings, the tables downstairs were filled, while
the rooms above stayed empty. A lady like this one couldn’t have been more out
of place staying there, if she’d been wearing a sheep on her head.
I’ll make it simpler: I’m looking for the owner. Is he here?” She spoke more
slowly and added expansive hand gestures. “His name was on the sign outside.”
She pointed to the door. “I think it’s supposed to say --like-- ‘Cade’ or
‘Cane’ or something, but the letters are messed-up.”
recognized his own name buried in the thick accent and finally managing to
piece the rest of her words together. The woman used the most antiquated
vernacular he’d ever heard. Not even his grandmother had spoken so formally
and she’d taken pride in her erudition, insisting that her grandsons learn the outdated
dialect that her own grandmother had taught
socially conscious, she’d insisted that they all master the obsolete language
of the elite, even Cade, who she’d mainly seen as an embarrassment.
a little effort, all the Westin boys could understand this woman, but they were
probably the only ones for a hundred miles.
pointed towards the bar, looking shell-shocked. Still in his teens, the kid was
the youngest of the brothers, with brown hair and Westin blue eyes. Cade was
the only one without that distinctive turquoise gaze. He’d been born with his
mother’s inhuman purple irises.
Jake was rarely at a loss for words, so the woman had clearly made an
impression on him, too. Mostly, he played card games, lost money, and read cheaply
illustrated adventure stories. The boy loved every half-baked, tall-tale there
was. Especially, if it involved pretty girls or dangerous outlaws. Cade could
already see his mind concocting dramatic explanations for the woman’s
appearance. “I mean… um… Cade’s my brother.” Cade was actually Jake’s
half-brother, but none of them paid attention to the distinction. “He’s right
woman glanced over at Cade, meeting his eyes. She was scared. He’d never seen
anyone look so scared and there were a lot of frightened people in this part of
the ruined world. Cade felt his own tension level rise, imagining all the horrors
that could befall a lone, wealthy woman who looked like this one.
she was obviously rich.
coat and educated speech were dead giveaways. And then there was her body.
Even under the thick, unidentified fabric he could see she was curvy little
thing. Only the rich had money for extra food, so nearly everyone in the polis
was lean and hardened. This woman’s body was soft. And seductive. And
clean. Gods, she was so damn
. There wasn’t a speck of dirt on
her skin. …Her smooth, flawless, fucking
skin, which was going
to feature prominently in every erotic fantasy he ever had for the rest of his
took very good care of this girl. Someone important. And they were going to
want her back.
other half-brother Dekon was already getting ready for an invasion. Drawing
his laz-gun, he moved to the windows and scanned the whiteout conditions
outside, looking for approaching trouble. Deke had been a paranoid lunatic
even before the Wilderness War. Since he got back from the battlefields of the
Wilderness, he’d been a barely functioning, insomniac, madman. And that was on
his good days.
the patrons edged away from Deke, wary of what he might do with a weapon in his
one working hand. His left arm had been amputated at the elbow, but that only
made people more frightened of him.
leg snapped off of a mismatched chair, as Obby Howwe scooted out of Deke’s path.
Cade had built most of the furniture pieces in the saloon and, try as he might,
he never could get the damn things to stay together. Deke slanted Obby a
warning glare, irritated by the noise, and Obby nearly climbed beneath the slanted
table in fear. All the Westins had bad reputations, but most people believed
that Deke once killed a man for sneezing too loud.
was ridiculous. Actually, he’d just stabbed him.
glanced over at Cade and shook his head, indicating that no one was on the
street. Cade’s eyebrows slammed down, more confused than ever. Had she
arrived here alone? How was that possible? If she was really lost, whoever
she belonged to would level the whole polis to find her, again. Cade certainly
would if such a treasure was his.
didn’t notice the rising tension level. Or maybe she was just so tense herself
that she didn’t have room for anyone else’s tension. She crossed the room, her
boots thudding against the wooden planks in the silent room. Even her shoes
looked odd. Whoever had sewed them must have spent hours getting the stitches
that perfect. Every single thing about this girl screamed “expensive.”
was she here?
She looked him up and down, taking in his massive size. “Of course, you’re Cade.
You’re very… Cade looking, aren’t you?”
didn’t answer that, because he didn’t know what it meant. It didn’t sound like
a compliment. All his attention was locked on her aura, so he doubted he could’ve
come up with a response, not matter what she said. The woman fucking
It was all he could do to stay standing in the face of that kind of purity.
For the first time in his life, he knew the gods were real. They had to be, to
create someone so beautiful.
inside of Cade, something… clicked. He couldn’t explain it, but it felt like
some missing piece snapped into place.
she felt it, too. The woman looked away, her gaze flicking to the full-length,
centuries-old portrait of a naked woman hanging behind the bar. Legend had it
that the shapely blonde’s name had been “Mon-Row.” Until that moment, she’d
been the prettiest thing Cade had ever seen. Now, he knew better.
The woman stopped on the other side of the bar, nodding towards the picture.
“I’ll bet they have that same Marilyn shrine at the local Hilton. Diamonds are
a girl’s best friend, right?”
he didn’t respond to that, the
prettiest thing he’d ever seen gave him
an uneasy smile. Up close her hair was even shinier. He’d never imagined that
that shiny. The fire in the hearth was turning the
strawberry curls a magical shade between red and blonde.
gods, she was a work of art.
right.” She cleared her throat, when he continued to silently watch her. “I’d
like a room. Something private, with a bathroom and electricity. I can’t
believe I have to actually
that, but electricity seems to be
optional in this place, so…” Her eyes went to the lanterns flickering overhead.
like some electricity.”
had no clue what “electricity” was. Was she just making up words?
do any of your rooms have --like-- a heater? Anything warmer than everyplace
else around here would be great.” She was talking too fast. Cade could have
sworn she was shaking, not from the temperature, but from nerves. “Isn’t it