By Susan Muller
I have read several blogs on Anna Kathryn’s website about society’s love for cowboys. My question is, why do we have such a fondness for these western heroes?
Is it the horses? Horses are beautiful creatures, without a doubt. They are also large, often mean, a tremendous amount of work to care for, and their upkeep is expensive. Nor do you smell like roses when you finish riding one.
Is it the tight jeans? Well, duh.
Is it the characteristics they embody? We think of cowboys as loyal, fair, honest, trustworthy, and protective of others.
In The Secrets on Forest Bend, my hero, Adam Campbell, was born and raised in Houston, but he’s definitely not a cowboy. I suspect he could ride a horse if he needed to, and if it’s rodeo time here in Houston, he might pull a pair of boots from the back of his closet.
It’s in his chosen profession that he resembles our idea of a cowboy. He’s a police officer, and that means he’s sworn to serve and protect. In this excerpt from The Secrets on Forest Bend, Adam quickly switches into cop mode.
His new girlfriend, Jillian, has an apartment above the gun store she owns, and they’ve come downstairs to look for something in the storeroom. Her assistant, Clara, comes to work early and puts her baby to sleep in the storeroom while she prepares to open the store. When an assailant enters, Adam doesn’t hesitate to face the armed man as he tries to protect the two women and the baby.
Adam and Jillian were in the back room with their arms around each other when the front door slammed open. He lifted his head. “It’s too early for customers, isn’t it?” Jillian’s closed shop was beginning to feel like a major department store.
“Maybe Cara went outside to get something from her car.” Jillian looked toward the front of the store, but a wall was in the way.
Adam motioned for Jillian to wait as he stepped quietly to the door. He heard voices, but couldn’t understand them. Kneeling down so his head was near the floor, he looked quickly around the corner, then snapped his head back.
“I can see Cara. Some man is holding her arm and pointing a gun at her.”
The man was stocky and had a good start on the beer belly that would most likely define him in later years. His sandy hair was disheveled, and his face had the pasty look of someone who spent too much time indoors.
“I’ll bet it’s her husband, Trevor. She’s gone to a lot of trouble to keep him from finding her.”
Adam glanced around the storage area. “Do you have a weapon back here? There must be something with all these guns.”
“I’ve got guns, but they’re not loaded. All the ammunition is on the other side of the room and to get to it we’d have to cross in front of the door. There’s a loaded gun under the counter, just below the cash-register, but he’d see you if you went out there. Did you bring your weapon?”
“No, I was trying to appear innocent and trustworthy. I even left my ankle holster at home.” He could kick himself for that decision. The first time in years he’d left home without a weapon and look what happened. His boss had better not find out about this.
“I’ll go out. It’s my store. It’ll seem normal.” Jillian started for the door, but he grabbed her arm.
“You have to take the baby and go out the back door. Take my car and get away from here. You can call for help on my radio. Wait for me at the IHop on the feeder road.”
“We discussed this. I’m not a hot-house flower. I can take care of myself. I don’t need you to protect me.”
“Damn it, for once will you listen to me?” He held both her shoulders. His voice was low, but intense. “I’m not trying to protect you. I’m trying to protect the baby.” Okay, I am trying to protect you, but I have enough sense not to say it out loud. “You know as well as I do that once he starts shooting, the bullets could go anywhere. These walls aren’t any protection. The baby could get hurt easily. You have to get her out of here before he realizes where she is.”
“I don’t want to leave you.”
“Now you know how I feel about you helping bring Marshall down. You have to leave, now. I’ll call you when it’s safe.” He kissed her quickly and handed her his keys.
As soon as Jillian and the baby were out the door, Adam smoothed down his hair and buttoned his shirt. There wasn’t anything he could do about his bare feet.
“Hey, man,” he said as he stepped out of the storeroom. “What’s going on?”
“Who the fuck are you?” The man jerked Cara around to face him.
“I’m Adam. I work here. Who are you?”
“You work here, uh? Well, you look like you just got out of bed. What have you been doing with my wife?”
Adam looked down and saw that his shirt was buttoned crooked. “Nothing, man. I just met her five minutes ago.” He tried to ease closer to the register, but Trevor had the gun pointed at him.
“That’s a likely story. She’s such a slut she wouldn’t care how long she’d known you. Anyway, she’s supposed to be working for some woman.”
“J. R.’s not in yet. This is my first day, so I don’t know what’s going on.” His face was slack, but his eyes never stopped moving as he judged the distance from his position to the gun under the register. Which could he reach quicker, the gun or Trevor?
What about you? Who are your heroes and what qualities to they exhibit?
Susan Muller is a native Houstonian who can ride a horse if necessary, but prefers a sports car. She loves to read, write, travel, and eat Tex-Mex. Follow her at www.susancmuller.com.