The Reluctant Bandit: lawlessness and the law Book 1
By Ami Hicken King
Genre: Historical fiction (western & romance elements)
Good guy or villain?
Charlie Stapleton begins his day with one dilemma—rob the mercantile in a booming mining town or his brother Jimmy dies–ending the morning with another–kidnapping the sheriff’s daughter. Conscientious and guilt-ridden, he’s now responsible for Jimmy and Annabelle, against their wishes.
Annabelle, the sheriff’s daughter, grew up sheltered for reasons beyond her understanding. Chafing at the restrictions placed on her by her single father and unwilling to be courted by her father’s deputy, she begins planning a “trip.”
Charlie’s actions propel himself and Annabelle into a long-standing chain of events so intertwined they blur the lines between law and disorder, and right and wrong. In the battle between the law, lawlessness, and corrupt business, who will be willing to sacrifice their goals and principles to gain resolution?
…As she lowered it into the basket, the hairs on the back of her neck raised. She turned around slowly to find Elroy staring at her with an odd look on his face. When they locked eyes, his lips thinned as he shook his head, and immediately turned toward front window. He was behaving oddly which made her heart pick up pace.
Panicked, she swiveled her head, looking around at the few people inside before taking a couple of tentative steps toward him.
Leaning forward, in his direction, she softly asked, “Elroy?” He didn’t look at her. Worried, she repeated herself a little louder this time.
“Elroy, you all right?”
Elroy wouldn’t look at her. She was still on the other side of the store but stopped when the door flung open. The bell clanged loudly before the sound was halted by the door itself. Her head whipped toward the banging sound, eyes widening at the sight of a giant man striding in. Normally, she’d have to squint when the front door opened because the store was poorly lit—
Elroy didn’t want windows smashed by thieves so his weren’t overly large—however, this man blocked nearly all the light that attempted to follow him in. Too busy gawking at this intrusion, the meaning behind Elroy’s action didn’t register right away—he was already pulling money out of the register and putting it on the counter before any demands were made.
“Give me your money.” The tall, broad man stormed into the mercantile, the door slamming shut after him. The air felt like it was sucked out of the room, running away with the sunshine, as the door shut slammed. She couldn’t see his face because of the hat pulled low. A bandana covered the rest of it. His legs were so long that they swallowed up the space between the front door and the counter using very few steps.
Noticing that he didn’t have a gun didn’t make her feel any better because his giant hands were large enough to snap a man’s neck, if need be.
Elroy wasn’t particularly big either, which made the situation all the worse. While Elroy could handle most of the miners, this man was not a miner. She’d never seen him before, and that’s when the gears started turning in her head, and a moment of panic washed over her.
He’s part of the gang papa was warning me about…
Once, again, the bell on the door chimed, but this time the door opened at a moderate pace, and it was papa who was standing there not some tall, broad- shouldered brut who blocked the light from coming in. Surprise and worry forced a gasp out of her, her hand flying to her mouth. “Papa.” An uncontrolled whisper of acknowledgement fell out of her mouth.
Before she realized what had happened, a long, muscular arm snaked around her waist pulling her snugly against broad warmth. “Step aside, sheriff.” The voice was steady and low, with no hint of anger or animosity, oddly enough. The sheriff didn’t move so the giant pulled
Annabelle in tighter, lifting her off the floor with a little shake. The air went out of her with a whoosh more because she wasn’t prepared for such handling and not because he was harming her.
Daniel’s eyes grew wide watching a stranger man-handle his daughter. Annabelle looked at her papa with wild eyes for guidance while he assessed the threat. The sheriff’s assessment and indecision was interrupted by the man’s still-even tone.
“Wouldn’t want your darlin’ daughter to get caught in the crossfire.” Papa’s eyes never left the man’s. Not once did he look at her, either.
Too scared to say anything, she cooperated. She especially didn’t want to anger the man holding her. For a moment, her worry was about getting a scolding for being out alone—laughable when she quickly realized how ridiculous that was, given the circumstances. Finally, shaking his head, papa stepped aside, face falling in momentary defeat. When Charlie walked
Annabelle past him, the sheriff whispered,
“Hang tight, Annabelle. I’ll find you, no matter what.”
I’ve always been curious as well as a verbal processor who thinks about things, a lot. This behavior also happens to drive my family a little batty. What may seem like random thoughts and words sprouting out of seemingly nowhere has a method in my mind—this includes the mid-sentence pauses, over-thinking, and a variety pack of humor. It can be entertaining and confusing, but never dull. Amongst the entertained: two male, rescue mutts—Yes, I talk to my dogs (I’m sure I’m not alone in that).
While I love wandering, wondering, and cloud watching, I also enjoy learning and connecting the dots in my inner and outer worlds. I’ve always been a voracious reader, fountain pen and paper product enthusiast, as well as lover of wax seal jewelry and pretty, shiny objects. I love a good story and analogies—written and spoken. Tell me your story, my spirit will listen.
I frequently stand on the precipice, watching and observing, but when I’m in, I’m all in. I’m your ride or die girl, or the Thelma to your Louise (or Louie, whichever the case may be). Coffee or tea? Yes, please.
Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to interact with you. If this sounds like something you would read, let me know!