Keta's latest release is Comes An Outlaw, a western romance where cowboys and ghosts take center stage. But don't worry...there's plenty of romance for the love-bugs too.
About Comes An Outlaw
When a tragic accident claims her husband's life, Jesse Santos must find a way to keep the ranch, the only home her 12-year-old son has ever known. The ranch hands have abandoned her, a gang of cutthroat ranchers want her land and an ancient Yaqui Indian insists a spirit has taken up residence in the house.
After a fifteen-year absence, her husband's brother, Coy, returns to his childhood home. He doesn't plan on staying, and he certainly doesn't intend to settle down with a widow and her son…no matter how pretty she is.
He's an outlaw, after all, and made a decision to put an end to his gun-slinging days long ago. Will his conscience let him walk away from family, or will his heart overrule his head?
Praise for COMES AN OUTLAW
"I loved all the components of this story. The Indian lore was probably my favorite though."
"The storyline is brilliant. This novella has many twists and turns. A page turner."
"Diablo has created a set of compelling characters. Jesse captures the essence of the time, when women had very few options, and even fewer good ones."
Setup and Excerpt:
In this scene, Jesse wonders if loneliness has driven her to desperation. Is she really holding a conversation with a ghost...or has her late husband returned to help her fight for her land?
Dawn caressed the homespun curtains in the cramped bedroom, rousing Jesse from a restless night's sleep. A delicate breeze rustled through the two-inch gap between window and sill, doing little to motivate the damp, heavy air in the room.
She tossed back the blue and white quilt, slid from bed and crossed the room to the pitcher and bowl on the bureau.
Gonna be another scorcher today, Jezebel. Might want to tie your hair back.
For a brief moment, she closed her eyes and willed the voice in the room to leave. He wasn't there, not in a real sense. Like every other day since his death, he invaded her thoughts, spoke in her head. She opened her eyes and fought the overwhelming urge to turn around, prove once and for all ghosts didn't exist.
"Are you set on driving me crazy, Cain? Don't I have enough to deal with without you tormenting me? Besides, I don't like it when you call me Jezebel, and you darn well know it."
That's why no one calls you Jezebel except me.
She spun around and glared at the rocking chair under the window. "Ah, another one of your tricks to make me think I'm losing my mind—call me something no one else does."
Yes, I'm in the rocker, the one my mother always sat in beside the hearth. You remember after she died, we brought it into our bedroom?
"Stop…you must stop." Her hands went to her temples. "If you were real I would see you sitting there."
If only I could show myself. You have no idea how hard it is to project my voice. Takes so much energy. I'm working on it though, have high hopes I'll get better at this spirit realm thing.
"I don't want you to get better at it; I want you to stop speaking to me entirely."
We talked about this, agreed that if something happened to one of us, we'd do our best to come back, watch over the other one.
She paced a small area at the end of the bed. "I only agreed because I thought it would never happen, could never happen. I wanted to please you, knew how much you loved your line of work, believed in it."
Nonetheless, Jezebel, it happened. I'm here and I mean to look out for you. I didn't want to leave you so soon but we must deal with what is now.
Stopping her harried pace, she looked to the chair again. "You don't think I'm doing my best to deal with what is now? And stop calling me that!"
You'll always be my precious Jezebel.
She heard a contented sigh filter through the still air.
My Jezebel with the tangle of long, copper hair, eyes the color of Robin's eggs and the lovely bowed mouth. I recall the first time I saw you. Slop bucket hanging off your tiny arm, you walked from the back room of Two Bits, skirted the bar and dropped to your knees to scrub the floor. Do you remember?
She hung her head. "How could I forget the day you saved me from a life of…well, destitution, offered me safety, security?" Looking up again, she fanned an arm over the room. "Offered me a home."
And I want to make sure you keep that home, our home, Grange's home.
"That's why you're here?"
For the most part. I always said this is a unforgiving land. People aren't careful it'll swallow them whole and—
Yes, and I aim to do everything I can to make sure it doesn't take you and Grange.
"I don't think I can do this, dark forces are at work, conspiring against your son and me. Lord knows I've tried, Cain, but how can a woman and a boy fight against the harsh elements, the day-to-day struggles without a man? Hard enough when you were here, but now, most days I think the land is going to win. Every morning I walk out onto that porch and think I'm walking into the fires of Hell. There's more…someone's been cutting the fence lines, scattering the cattle. Takes us days to get them back again."
Not someone, Jezebel. Search your heart; you know who's behind it.
She walked back to the bureau, opened a drawer and pulled out a pair of leather trousers. After pulling the nightshirt over her head, she grabbed Cain's flannel shirt from a hook, slipped her arms into the sleeves and pulled the trousers over her hips. "I know who the varmints are, all right. Domingo and Benito. Am I right?"
The Torres brothers.
"Yeah, and the low-bellied snakes they ride with, Mutton-Chop Walsh and Digger Newly." She blew an exasperated breath and looked over her shoulder to the window. "How do you expect me to stand up to that, Cain? I can't do it, I tell you. Let them have the land because it ain't worth dying for, or God forbid, losing Grange over."
You can't give up the land, love. Been in my family for generations. Ma and Pa will be turning over in their—
"I don't care. I'm not sacrificing my son, our son, for a piece of scorched earth in the middle of nowhere."
You're talking foolish now. You love the land as much as I do, I mean did. You're tired, worn out; I get that, but….
I never thought I'd hear you say you want to give up the land, give up on life.
"It's different now that you're gone. You might as well face it, I'm leaving, Cain. And you should leave too, find that white light you always talked about and forget about this place."
Help is coming, Jezebel.
"Yeah, and so are monsoon winds, dried up creek beds and taxes. Or did you forget taxes are due…again?"
I'm asking you to hang on for a little while, that's all.
"You expect me to believe a knight on a big white horse will be riding in soon to save us?"
He rides a Piebald.
I said he rides a Piebald with black and white spots, sixteen hands tall.
"Who…who rides a spotted horse and how do you know he's coming here?"
I'm fading, Jezebel. Used up everything I got this morning.
"No you don't! You can't waltz in here, drop your innuendoes and disappear like a snuffed out candle."
Trust me. Hang on…please hang on.
"Cain, wait…don't go! You can't leave like this!"
Hang on, Jezebel…hang on….
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