This excerpt is from Follow the Dream, book two in my “Cowgirl Dreams” trilogy. Jake and Nettie have tried to put on a rodeo but had low attendance and poor earnings, so many cowboys didn’t get paid or were paid very little. I don’t have many “big” explosive moments in my novels, but this was fun to write.
A funereal mood enveloped Nettie along with the smell of stale cigarettes and yeasty beer when they walked though the swinging doors of the Ranchers Bar. She braced herself. This was the last place she wanted to be. She wished they could just go home.
Usually, after a rodeo, the saloon rollicked with laughter and shouts as the cowboys relived the highlights of their rides, embellishing the successes with each telling. Today the crowd was hushed. Men sat hunched over their drinks, and only a few forced laughs punctuated the low murmur.
Jake and Nettie settled on stools at the bar, and Jake summoned the bartender. “A round for the house, on me.” He downed his whiskey in one gulp, then turned to the room. “Gents, ladies, I’m very sorry about today’s poor purse. I’d like to buy you a drink to make it up to you.”
The pitch of the conversation rose a notch. Somebody shouted. “Hear, hear.”
“That’s the least you can do.” Another voice sang out.
A burly cowboy stepped up beside Jake. “It’ll take more’n one drink to make up for this.” With the speed of a rattlesnake, he drove his fist into Jake’s jaw.
“No!” Nettie shouted.
Jake’s head rocked back and he fell against the bar. His hand came up instinctively to feel for the damage to his face. Driving his weight forward, Jake ducked under a second punch. His return jab glanced off the cowboy’s shoulder. The man spun to the side. He recovered his balance with a roundhouse to Jake’s upraised arm.
The room erupted into a mare’s nest of shouts and commotion. The crowd surged forward to surround the two men. Nettie scrambled over the top of the bar, her drink flying, to land beside the bartender. She grabbed his arm. “Help. Stop them!”
He merely shrugged.
The two men rolled on the floor. Grunts punctuated slaps. She couldn’t tell who was landing punches where. The burly cowboy had Jake down.
No, now Jake rolled on top. He punched the cowboy in the nose. Blood squirted.
The cowboy heaved Jake off and swung a left to Jake’s eye. The onlookers shouted encouragement. “Git ’im. Punch his lights out.”
Nettie screamed. The din and confusion overwhelmed her with total helplessness. This couldn’t be happening. She had to stop this insanity. Where were the other women? Gone. No help from them.
Nettie slipped from behind the bar and out the back door. Her boot heels thundering on the wooden sidewalk, she ran down the street to the Sheriff’s office and yanked open the door.
“Bar fight. Help!” she yelled and ran back to the saloon. Sheriff Ingram lumbered behind.
* Margaret Fieland at http://margaretfieland.com/my_blog
* Lynn Crain at http://lynncrain.blogspot.co.at/
* Beverley Bateman at http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
* Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
* Connie Vines at http://connievines.blogspot.com/
* Ginger Simpson at http://mizging.blogspot.com
* Rhobin Courtright at http://rhobinleecourtright.com