Chasing the Dead, a Bannister Brothers Novel
Western Romance (Paranormal)
Five Star Review
"Ghost and Evil Spirits, Oh My! Talking about one exciting adventurous story – WOW! This captivating story combines Indian culture spiritual beliefs with Catholic spiritual casting of Evil Spirits in order to conquer a cursed ghost and send him on to the depths of hell where he belongs."
About Chasing the Dead
The Apache kidnapped me to dispel an evil ghost from their village. If I tell them I don't possess the same skills as my madre, they'll cut my throat and feed me to the dogs. Celesta was the best spirit chaser in all of New Mexico before she died.
The most I can hope for is that Emmett, my fiancé, will rescue me. Is he capable of such a thing? Poppy must not have thought so because he sent Deacon Bannister to save me. Deacon…the man who walked away days before our wedding a year ago. The man who still melts my bones after one look.
We're running for our lives from Uday, the vaporous ghoul tracking us. He lusts after Sacheen, the beautiful maiden banished from the Apache village who travels with us. The warrior killed her father when Sacheen refused to marry him, and then Sacheen's brother killed Uday.
The ghost's powers grow stronger every minute on our journey back to El Vaquero...and so does my love for Deacon.
~ Madrid Arrende ~
From the crest of a knoll, Deacon and Gideon Bannister peered through their long glasses and looked down on the Comanche village.
"Their warriors are gone all right." Deacon scanned the encampment front to back. "So it was their pony tracks we spotted yesterday."
Gideon dropped the long glass and turned to his brother. "Riding single file with two dozen unshod horses screams war party to me."
Continuing his perusal of the village, Deacon smiled. "At least we agree on that."
"One thing we don't agree on is risking our necks for a girl we can't identify."
"Did you take a good look at her, Gideon? She's about Callie's age and the hair color is right."
"Callie and Tess had hair the color of wheat." Gideon nodded toward camp. "Her hair is darker."
"Mud, dirt, bear grease…could be any number of reasons for that. 'Sides, it's been seven years since we've seen our sisters. I'm not going to let a shade of hair stop me from finding out if one of 'em is down there."
"I don't like it, Deacon. Even if their best fighters left camp, doesn't mean they didn't leave a guard or two behind."
Deacon found his feet. "One or two of those heathens I can handle." He smiled again. "What? You gotta have solid bona fides Tess or Callie are down there before you go in?"
Gideon stood. "Didn't say that."
"Suit yourself, but I know they have a white captive in camp and I gotta know who."
"Ah, hell, you are one stubborn jackass."
"Yeah," he said with a snicker. "I took lessons from my older brother."
Gideon wrapped the leather strings around his long glass and, with Deacon dogging his heels, headed for the horses. "You got a plan?"
"You cover my back while we work our way to where they're holding her. See that copse of piñon? Stay hidden with the horses. The last thing we want is a squaw raising a ruckus."
"I cut through the tipi and yank her out. That's when you roar in with the mounts."
"Sounds easy," Gideon said. "But nothing ever goes according to plan."
"That's all I got, brother. Let's quit talking and free that captive." Deacon looked at the sky overhead. The sun would set soon, receding with the plum-infused sky. "Someone is out there wondering what happened to their daughter, their sister, their wife. She belongs to someone, Gideon, and I hope someone is doing the same right now for Tess and Callie."
Gideon mounted, watched his brother do the same and looked over at him. "Watch your back. Remember our mission is to get her out, not kill Comanche."
"Agreed," he said with a grin. "Unless they get in my way."
Deacon crab-crawled across the gritty sand—his left leg tucked under, his right leg extended while using his hands to propel his body forward. Over the years, he'd become adept at the maneuver, and fast. On more than one occasion, the technique had rendered him almost invisible and had saved his hide. Stretching his arm, he sank his long knife into the animal hides covering the tipi and dragged it downward. He glanced at Gideon out of the corner of his eye and then drew a deep breath. No telling who or what he might find inside the dwelling with the girl. Well too late for second thoughts now. He peered in. The girl had laid down on a berth of pelts in a corner of the tipi, her back to him, but her long, dirty-blonde hair fanned out around her shoulders. He scanned the confines and breathed a sigh of relief. At the moment, no one else occupied the shelter. He had one chance to get this right; grab the girl and drag her to the mounts Gideon would have waiting.
She must have sensed his presence before he got to her, no doubt a skill she learned from living with the Comanche. She jackknifed up and twisted her body around to face him. A moment of confusion furrowed her brow. Cornflower blue eyes in the pale, gaunt face registered fear. He raised a hand to calm her but not in time to cut off her scream. Gideon was right, 'nothin' ever goes according to plan'.
With no time to explain, much less allay her fear, Deacon grabbed her around the waist, scooped her into his arms and bolted for the gaping hole he'd carved out moments ago. A string of guttural Comanche words spewed from her lips, in perfect sync to her flailing legs connecting with his shins.
"Move!" Gideon shouted. "Two braves coming fast."
A shot from Gideon' rifle rang out, followed by the whistle of an arrow, so close to Deacon's ear, he felt its speed. "Stop fighting me, girl! I'm here to help you."
Reaching for the pommel of his saddle with one hand and clinging to the woman with the other, a scream tore from her throat. She slumped against his hip with an anguished groan.
He heard Gideon curse before he ripped off another shot. "Now or never, Deacon, get her onto the horse!"
Calling on all his strength, he heaved his body upward, hauling himself and the girl into the saddle. Pulling her close to his chest, he yanked on the reins and his horse bolted forward.
"Mary," she whispered weak-voiced. "Mary Whitcomb."
The hand curling around her back, met warm, sticky liquid…and the cold steel of a knife. "No, oh, no," he rasped. "Hang on, Mary. Don't you leave me."
"I'm done for, Mister. Tell," she wheezed the words. "Tell my folks I love them."
"You can tell them yourself soon, Mary. Stay with me, please stay—"
"I'm sorry I-I fought you…didn't know…."
A white-hot pain shot through Deacon's leg. He looked down at the shaft of an arrow protruding from his thigh. Sonofabitch, can it get any worse?
Mary's last breath escaped in a rush and then her lifeless body collapsed against him.
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