In the Dark Soil of Deceit (Preview)

Chapter One

Thththththoooooooooommmmmmm!

The barn erupted in a fireball that seemed as big as the sun itself, somewhere on the other side of the Earth. But the Double-A Ranch was suddenly rid of the night’s darkness nonetheless, crickets quieted by the sudden, hellish explosion.

Charlie Briggs’ heart leapt out of his chest. He wasn’t far off, in his modest quarters with the rest of the hands. They all looked up at once, the screaming of the horses shooting straight to the core of Charlie’s very being. Of all those on the ranch, the horses were his greatest friends and the best company to be found.

Charlie, his friend Kyle Sparks, and the other hands poured out of their quarters to run across the ranch toward the barn. Black smoke rose into the night’s sky, flames already eating away at one corner of the blazing structure.

There was no dog barking, instantly a sign of worry to Charlie. But the obvious crisis was the barn, the fire which had to be put out, and the animals to be saved, if any of them were still alive.

As Charlie and the other hands ran across the property toward the barn, Hal Aaron and his men ran out from the big house. His second Ralph Geoffreys was already armed, carrying a Winchester rifle. His men followed, pistols and rifles ready for action.

Hal and Charlie led their parties toward one another, the groups conjoining en route to the burning barn.

“Man the wells,” Hal shouted. “Form the bucket line!”

“No, the horses,” Charlie argued, undeterred in his charge of the barn, “we have to get the horses out!” He ran ahead, the others following his lead.

The horses called out from inside the barn. The doors buckled from inside, and Charlie knew they were desperate for release. He pulled the door open, but it seemed stuck. He and the others pulled at the door, Kyle scrambling around to find a wooden wedge stuck in the gap. He pulled it and tossed it, the door finally giving way.

A great plume of black smoke poured out of the huge doorway, the horses whinnying and running out in a flurry. Charlie stepped back as Torrent, the palomino, ran past him. He was followed by Snowflake, the white mare. Trouble came next, followed by Cloud, Sunshine, and Lucky Boy.

But that left both Shadow and Lefty still in the barn. Their cries cut straight through Charlie. The heat from inside the barn was terrific, air filled with smoke, flames crackling to illuminate the inside of the doomed structure.

Not the horses, Charlie thought, his mouth dry with the heat and ash, not the horses.

He pushed into the barn, his eyes burning, embers floating around to catch the nearest bale of hay. The flames rose up higher and heavier, crackling and spitting and spewing more smoke than any living creature could possibly survive.

He knew from experience that the animals were tangled or trapped. Shadow was rearing up, trapped in a stall by a fallen beam of wood. Lefty pulled at reins tangling his legs. Charlie drew his hunting knife and reached down, nearly blind as he grabbed the ropes. They flexed and pulled with the horse’s growing fear and urgency. Lefty whinnied and shook his head as Charlie pulled his knife’s sharp edge against the ropes, cutting through the fibers until they finally snapped free.

The horse clearly sensed its new freedom, and it burst forth and ran past Charlie, nearly knocking him back on its way out the door.

Charlie turned to Shadow, still rearing up and unable to navigate around the fallen beam. Charlie pulled at the beam, but it hardly gave. It jutted a bit in his grip, the roof of the barn creaking above. Kyle arrived beside Charlie and pulled at the beam, their combined efforts enough to pull the beam free. Shadow roared out his relief and ran past the fallen beam, a straight line to the opened barn door where the smoke escaped, along with any living thing that hoped to remain that way.

Kyle and Charlie scrambled to their feet, pulling themselves free of the fallen beam and crawling blindly through the smoke to stumble toward the exit. Charlie’s lungs burned and convulsed, his body jutting and spasming as he stumbled through the doorway. He reached around to make sure he wasn’t leaving Kyle behind, the two men finally finding the cool night air outside the hellish inferno, which was even then devouring the barn behind them.

The heat pushed them forward, the two men barely on their feet. Others rushed past, forming a bucket line from the well to the barn. Charlie and Kyle were both coughing, Charlie’s lungs burning, eyes still clamped shut.

“Briggs,” the familiar voice said nearby, stomping feet underscoring his approach. “Briggs!”

Charlie opened his eyes, lids fluttering as he tried to straighten up. He looked at Kyle, who was doing the same. He set his hand on Kyle’s shoulder, his face and red hair caked with soot. He didn’t have to ask, Kyle’s nod his only answer.

“Briggs!” Charlie and Kyle looked over as Hal Aaron walked toward them, the bucket line formed behind him. “What the hell is the meaning of this?”

Charlie looked at the burning barn and back at Kyle, who could only shrug and shake his head. Charlie turned to Hal. “Barn burned.”

“Barn—?” Hal shook his head. “I know that, clear as a bell!”

Charlie faced Hal head-on. “What more can I tell you about it?”

“Why in Sam Hill didn’t you obey my orders? I told you to form the line!”

Charlie looked Hal up and down. The man was older, but he was still formidable. “I told you… I had to save the horses. I wasn’t about to stand here and watch them die.”

“Well, that’s… that’s as may be,” Hal allowed. “But I give the orders around here, and you follow them!”

A tense silence followed in his wake.

“You’d let your horses burn? What kind of maniac would do that?”

Kyle said, “Charlie—”

But it was too late. Hal looked Charlie up and down. “The fire could spread if it’s not put out. A barn may not be much compared to the horses, but the horses compared to the house, the crops? Use your head, Charlie.”

Charlie knew the great man of the Double-A Ranch had a right to his perspective, and there was little chance or profit in trying to change it. That wasn’t Charlie’s job here.

His job was to keep his job.

But he wasn’t about to do it at the expense of his humanity. “I’ll run the fire line now, if you like.”

Hal glanced back at the ranch hands, working the bucket line efficiently enough. Charlie didn’t feel like an answer was necessary, and so it wasn’t. Hal didn’t seem ready to push the point, at least not there and then. Instead, he eyed Kyle, standing in the flickering light of the fire.

“You,” Hal said, “your name is…?”

“Sparks, sir, Kyle Sparks.”

“Sparks.” Hal seemed as if he was giving it all some thought. “Go join your friends on the bucket line, Sparks.”

Kyle stood in an awkward silence, nodding at him and glancing at Charlie before scurrying off.

Hal’s personal staff had already headed out after any possible suspects. The man would be brought back alive, if possible, though Charlie didn’t imagine such a thing would be possible. But he couldn’t miss the suspicious glare he was getting from his boss, twenty years his senior, with graying blond hair and a well-manicured mustache and goatee.

“You didn’t see anyone?”

Charlie paused before replying. “I heard the explosion. We came upon each other in the yard.”

“All right, all right,” Hal said, “but you didn’t see anyone? Nothing to report?”

“If I had anything to report, Mr. Aaron, I would report it.”

Another long, silent moment passed between the two men.

The elder turned his attention to the burning barn. “These are your men, mostly. See to the barn, save what you can.” Charlie nodded, Hal seeming lost in thought. “We’ll see what Geoffreys and his men turn up.”

Hal turned and walked away, leaving Charlie to supervise the salvaging of the barn, the men sending filled buckets one direction, empty buckets the other.

Charlie turned to look at that burning barn. It was more than just a collection of wooden beams and bales of hay, more than a place to keep the Double-A’s horses. The fire was more than just a burst of natural reaction, Charlie felt certain.

An explosion of that sort struck Charlie as manmade. It seemed clear enough that it was sabotage. What Charlie was looking at was more than happenstance or accident—it could yet prove out to be, but Charlie’s instincts told him otherwise. They told him to prepare for the worst. He took a deep breath, the air hot and filled with gagging ash. There was no escaping it, only beating it down little by little, standing downwind and letting it burn.

It was only a barn, after all, only a fire. Those things would pass.

But they would also return. Charlie knew what he was looking at was a portent, a herald of things to come. It was the latest strike in a war that was fast getting worse, more costly for both sides. It was as if the ranch had earned God’s wrath, or the devil’s. But the price would have to be paid in any case; this time in fire, the next in blood.

Charlie knew that no man could serve two masters, that he would have to be in the service of one or the other. His decision would have ramifications that would ripple throughout his life, he knew that. He’d reached a moment of truth, one which was only then revealing itself in those crackling flames, in that terrible, hellish heat.

Charlie had very nearly been consumed, almost losing his life on that very night. He lived still, but it was not the first risk to his mortality. At only thirty years, his life had come to a crossroads. His fate would be decided by his own hand, his own word, his own choice. He would have to chose rightly, and govern that choice with more wisdom than working on a ranch had ever commanded of anyone.

But Charlie had no choice. Those crackling flames seemed to be calling his name as they chewed through the wood, slowly eating their way toward him. They seemed to warn him of the fate he could not escape, the fires that would yet consume his soul in the end. In a lot of ways, Charlie’s fate was already sealed. It had always been a matter of time, and it remained so—less time than before, less than ever again.

Charlie would face that fire, he knew that. There was no point in running, there never had been. He’d never been inclined to run, and he wasn’t about to start. If the devil had come to collect his due, Charlie was ready to pay, but with no other lives than his own.

Come to me then, he silently challenged his old adversary, come, you pale rider, you grim skeleton. Bring me to your fiery master, waiting below. If you can better me, oh reaper grim, than you may have me.

It wasn’t the first time Charlie would issue the challenge, and not the last time his ancient foe seemed to back down, crouching in the shadows. It would strike at a more insidious time and place, when Charlie was not standing ready but could be taken unawares. That was the sneaky way of the Lord of Death, and of the fallen angel it so often abided.

If it is other, Charlie thought, so be it. But it was not rays of sunlight he saw breaking through those clouds from above, it was the raging fires seeming to be rising up from below. Come to me, but be ready for the fight of my life! 

Chapter Two

Charlie was up at dawn the next day, but that was nothing unusual. His duties at the Double-A Ranch always required an early morning. Whether he was grazing the cattle or shepherding the sheep or seeing to post-storm repairs, Charlie hadn’t slept in once in the six months since he’d arrived from Wisconsin.

And it was hard enough getting to sleep with his troubled conscience. But tough ranch work lent a certain feeling of exhaustion to the end of the day. And the Double-A had been a reasonably calm and quiet place to work. Other than the expected conflicts between other ranchers, local miners, and various transients, the Double-A was a smoothly-run operation, and Charlie’s aim was to keep it that way.

The calm they’d enjoyed had only been leading to a storm, and it was about to break right over their heads.

They hadn’t been able to save the barn. While not entirely destroyed, the building was going to have to be torn down and rebuilt. Hal had Charlie put his men on the job of clearing out the old wood and debris, so Charlie sent Kyle into Pueblo to hire some men suitable to the task while his other men tended to their normal tasks.

“I told you to take care of this,” Hal scolded Charlie, his authoritative tone rich in his throat.

“And I did,” Charlie responded calmly. “You can’t have the ranch go without hands for an entire day!”

A long tension lingered between the two men as a starling fluttered across the sky.

Hal shook his head. “When I give an order, I expect it to be carried out.”

“And it was.”

Charlie and Hal stood near the smoldering debris of the barn as the hired hands cleared out the charred wood. Charlie looked at the rubble at his feet, Hal doing the same.

“The fire started in this area,” Charlie pointed out.

Hal shook his head. “I don’t even see why we’re bothering with this. We know what happened here.”

“No,” Charlie said, “you suspect what may have happened here.”

Hal looked at Charlie, long and slow. “Now, you listen to me, young man. I’m only keeping you on here because you’re a good worker. You’re plain-spoken, and to me, that means I can trust you. But I won’t be spoken to this way.”

“Plainly?”

“Disrespectfully.”

Charlie looked around. “With all due respect, Mr. Aaron. I’m not given to being charming. If you want to be flattered, I think your own Ralph Geoffreys is the more likely man.”

“Geoffreys runs my security,” Hal said, pointing at the burnt barn. “That’s clearly more necessary now than ever before!”

“Then how did he let this happen?” Another tense moment passed between them. “And even if somebody is responsible, and it’s not just an accident, we don’t know who it was who was behind it.”

Hal shook his head. “It could only be Bruce Michaels at the Circle-M, I told you that.”

“You said it,” Charlie said. “Doesn’t make it so.” He kept his eyes on the charred debris at his feet, crouching to push a hunk of wood out of the way to sift through the rubble beneath it.

“Nobody else would go to such extremes,” Hal said. “Frankly, we’re wasting time standing here, milling around this garbage when I should be up in my study, planning my next move.”

Charlie looked up from his crouched position. He knew what his boss had in mind, and he was eager not to participate in it. He returned his attention to the charred rubble. The smell of wet hay and wood rot swept up his nostrils, tinged with the smell of gunpowder. In the muck not far from him, the ground coated with ashy mud, Charlie spotted a flat stone with a piece of charred twine still tied around it. He looked up, then around the ground to see several charred sticks, crumbled around a big, black spot on the ground. He pressed the tips of his index and middle fingers together, rubbing it between his fingers and thumb and sniffing it, pungent with the unmistakable smell of gunpowder.

“Well, you’re right about one thing,” he said. “This was no accident.”

Hal crouched down next to Charlie for a closer look and a keener understanding of what his young hand was explaining. Charlie pointed out the charred twine and sticks.

“This flat rock here was suspended above a mound of gunpowder.”

Hal asked, “Suspended… from what?”

“These sticks, leaned together and tied at the tips.” Charlie glanced around. “Your man didn’t bring anybody back?”

Hal shook his head. “Tracks up and down the main trail, but whoever did it was long gone.”

“Means there must have been a… a timing matter of some sort. Rats, maybe.” Charlie sifted through the charred twine, one end ragged. “Yeah, could have put butter on it, anything that would make a hungry little bugger cut through that twine. That means…” He looked further, thinking out loud, “given the force of the blast when the rock hit the gunpowder…”

Charlie stood up and took a few steps to the left, putting his foot under the collapsed slats of a burned wall nearby. He kicked the charred planks away, a dead rat laying burnt and still smoldering, as lifeless as the singed wood that was its funeral pyre.

“There you go.”

Hal glanced around, a clearly quizzical look on his aging face. “How long could a rig like that stay there undisturbed?”

Charlie shrugged as he gave it some thought. “Twenty-four hours; maybe more, but that’s unlikely. It’s no wonder your security didn’t find anyone, but it’s a bit odd that they didn’t spot somebody who didn’t belong on the ranch setting up such a contraption.”

Hal nodded, eyes fixed on Charlie. “It’s just as odd that neither you nor any of your hands saw such a man.”

“I’ll grant you that,” Charlie agreed. “But we spend our days working your ranch, Mr. Aaron. What about li’l Richie, the stable boy?”

“I grilled him last night, boy didn’t know a thing.”

“How can you be sure?” Reading Hal’s grimace, a chill ran up Charlie’s spine to think of what the great man might be capable of. He didn’t doubt that Hal would have extracted a confession if he could have.

“Trust me,” Hal said, “there’s only one man who could have done this.”

“Bruce Michaels—”

“Of the Circle-M Ranch, that’s right! It goes back to before your time. But you’re just going to have to accept that there are certain things you don’t understand.”

“Altogether too many things,” Charlie said, secure that his point was clearly made about his growing suspicions.

Hal went on, “We were friends, Michaels and I, but that was years ago… seems like a lifetime now.” He stared into some distant memory before shaking his head and sighing. “We founded our ranches around the same time, even thought of joining up, creating one big ranch.”

“It’s not a bad idea. That’s more profitable than a rivalry, friendly or not.”

“It’s not friendly.” After an angry pause, Hal continued, “That snake in grass can’t be trusted, that’s clear. Even in negotiations…”

“Negotiations,” Charlie repeated. “How close to a partnership did you get?”

“Never finalized it. He got greedy, and stupid. He was only trying to take my land, run me out of the business. But I wasn’t about to fall for that, no sir. That was not long before you came around. He’s been laying low since then, sure, but now he’d made another move.”

“Why now?”

Hal seemed to give it some thought before shaking his head. “Can’t say. Weather’s right for a fight. He could overtake us before the fall rains, wipe us off the map before the season closes.”

Charlie could see his boss’ way of thinking. Money, power, eliminating the competition to dominate the field—they were the cornerstones of the American way, it often seemed to Charlie. There was no limit to what those dubious motivations could drive a man to do, burning a barn the least among them.

But one glance around the ranch suggested different possibilities. The dogs had been found dead by poison, suggesting local Shoshone. They were known as ambush hunters, as well. But there was no more wisdom to setting Hal and his crew off on a blind war against the local tribes than against the neighboring rancher. Surely, something had to be done, the right thing. But it had to be done to the right person, or innocents would be harmed. Charlie wasn’t going to allow that.

Not again.

Hal said, “I’ll put Geoffreys and his men on it. You can go back to seeing to the sheep.”

“No, wait,” Charlie said. He knew what kind of action those men would be undertaking. He knew the lengths to which such men would go, and the depths to which such men would sink. Charlie knew that what was required was further investigation, a calm and reasoning mind, and discovery of the truth. And he himself was the only person on the Double-A Ranch that he could trust to do it.

“I’ll handle this myself,” he said, “if you don’t mind.”

Hal turned his head just a bit, as if to get a better view of Charlie’s surprising turn. “You? Why?”

Charlie knew he’d have to convince the great man, and he couldn’t do it with the truth: that he hoped to thwart any revenge, if he could, and bring a peaceable resolution to matters. That was the last thing Hal Aaron seemed to want.

“Like you said, Mr. Aaron, I… I haven’t been here long. I’ve done my best, ‘course, but… I don’t suppose I’ve really had a chance to prove myself… to you, personally.”

Hal stood in silent suspicion, letting Charlie continue.

“I… I came here for a new life, sir, a new start. I don’t want to keep moving on, keep… keep drifting from one place to the next. No, I mean to make Pueblo my home, and that means the Double-A.”

“You could get work at another ranch… at the Circle-M, perhaps.”

Charlie gave it some thought, and for the first time. But it gave him keener insight as to how Hal Aaron’s mind worked. “If I were to betray you, why would this Michaels fellow believe he could trust me not to betray him? That’s the problem with charming people, Mr. Aaron. It only leads to suspicion, and so it should. I don’t like to charm, or to be charmed.”

“No, that’s true,” Hal said. He nodded, seeming to come to conclusions of his own. “And you mean to prove your loyalty here, to win your place.”

Charlie nodded. “I know you don’t trust me, Mr. Aaron. I realize you’re more comfortable with… more agreeable men. But that doesn’t make them any the more trustworthy, does it?”

Hal didn’t seem to have to have to give that too much thought. “All the less so, in fact.”

“Exactly. Let me get to the bottom of this, find the true culprit. If it’s this man, this Michaels—”

“Bruce Michaels,” Hal clarified.

“Then I will deliver the man to you,” Charlie said, “and everything he possesses.”

Hal’s eyes sank to shrewd slits. “And… if not?”

“Then I’ll bring you whoever came against you,” Charlie declared. “They won’t get away with hitting us like this, whoever it is. I promise you that.”

Hal looked Charlie over and nodded. “Very well. But take heed of my words, young man. I will abide no betrayal, not from you or any of your men. Watch them closely, as you will be held responsible for them.”

Charlie turned to step away from the wreckage of the barn.

“And Mr. Briggs.” Charlie turned again, and Hal went on, “If you fail, you’ll be the one to stand for the barn.”

Charlie knew what that meant. He would be standing… before a firing squad. But that was the price of assuming the responsibility, and Charlie had little reason to expect anything less. So, he walked back to his quarters to gather some things and consider his next move, the first of what would likely be the last undertaking of his life.

Chapter Three

Leigh Ann Michaels stomped through the big ranch house, her father just a few steps ahead of her.

“It’s not fair!”

Her father, Bruce Michaels, turned and said calmly, “No, it’s not.”

With that, he turned and kept walking, his daughter on his heels. The house servant Toby stayed out of the rooms as the Michaels family stalked around the house.

“You can’t keep me prisoner here!”

“You’re not a prisoner,” Bruce said, rolling his eyes. “Don’t be childish!”

“Childish? It’s my being a grown woman that frightens you!”

Bruce stopped and turned again, but he said nothing of it, a clear sign to his daughter that she’d struck a nerve. He turned to walk on to the adjoining living room.

“You’d have me grow old here,” she said, “alone, an old maid!”

“I wasn’t the one who told you to fall for a gunslinger!”

“Dave wasn’t a gunslinger,” Leigh said, noting the anger in her voice. It was disrespectful of her father, and he would not abide that for long. But he had to know what he was tempting when bringing up Leigh’s late husband, David Davison. “He was a beautiful soul.”

“He robbed a bank and was shot in the back!”

“He only went along with that robbery in order to protect innocents against any unwarranted violence. Those other men were brutes, they needed somebody to lend a calming hand.”

“And how did such a sweet soul wind up in such brutal company? Oh, right, they held his sister hostage!”

“Only by threat,” Leigh said. “And you know they would have made good on it.”

Bruce brushed his hands over his graying blond goatee and mustache. “And where is she today? A floozy in a flophouse! A common prostitute!”

“It’s not Doris’ fault, Father, after what she had to endure. We should have protected her; she was married into our family.”

“That was never my choice, nor my responsibility.” Bruce shrugged and shook his head, graying blond hair growing closer to his arching shoulders. “Anyway, I offered her shelter here on the ranch.”

“As a servant,” Leigh pointed out. “Honestly, Father.”

This time, it was Leigh who turned, her father following her across the house, addressing her back. “And don’t you think I want you to get married again, to a suitable young man?”

“Suitable? You’re trying to barter me off as a business asset to one of your partner’s sons.” Leigh caught sight of herself in the mirror: young, blonde, pretty, trapped in that mirror and in that house.

“There’s nothing wrong with marrying well,” Bruce said, “or in being practical.”

“No, but there’s everything wrong with being entitled, obnoxious, moneyed sons of wealthy men. With their roguish charm and their European flattery. They’re just pretending to be the men they appear, Father.”

“That’s true, but so it is with all men. You think your late husband was such a tender soul? That’s the romantic in you, Leigh. But by this time, don’t you think it’s time to let the romantic step aside, make way for the adult, the mother, the matriarch?”

It wasn’t the first time Leigh had heard it, and it never sounded sweet to her ears. She loathed that he had a reasonable point. But reason and love did not always go hand in hand. Love and Leigh seemed never to go hand in hand again.

“Can’t I go into town, just for a change of pace?”

“Call it what you will,” Bruce said, “but I’ll not have you go husband-shopping on the streets of Pueblo. You know how people talk.”

“Yes, Father, I do. I know they talk about the crazy old maid at the Circle-M Ranch—”

“It’s not safe right now—”

“It’s never safe,” Leigh snapped back, “it’s only getting worse, according to you.”

“According to everyone.” His tone was clipped, rich with his dwindling patience. “I’d much rather know that you’re safe.”

But Leigh asked, “What’s so dangerous about now? What’s going to change next week or next month or next year?”

“Just… a lot of things, things you can’t be expected to understand.”

“Because I’m just a woman?”

“Because you don’t have enough information.”

“Inform me, then.”

Bruce sighed, pulling his daughter close and giving her a calming kiss on the forehead. The cuckoo clock struck one, the chime ringing through the silent tension in the house. “It’s complicated. Nothing you need to worry about.”

“If it worries you, it worries me.”

“I know, honey, I know.” After a moment to consider, Bruce sighed. “Take the Cavandish boys, and don’t stray from them!”

“Father, they’re like two shadows—”

“That’s just what I’m paying them to be.”

Leigh felt her own blue eyes rolling in her head. “And what’s any suitor to make of me flanked by those two goons?”

“That you’re well-protected. Now, go on, while there’s still daylight.”

Leigh gave it some thought. “I’ll arrange a trip in tomorrow. Anything you need me to pick up while I’m there? Maybe instead of a husband for me… a wife for you?”

“Don’t you dare!” They shared a little chuckle.

Leigh stepped away to the quiet of her lonely station as young woman of the house. The Cavandish twins passed through the house at Leigh as they walked toward her father’s study. She knew they’d been called to him, that he was going to be brief them on the trip into Pueblo the next day. They would be admonished to look out for her, threatened with death were they to fail.

Leigh would never be free of them, of her father’s shadow, she knew that, not until she was out of Pueblo entirely. But she could never leave her father’s side, not since the loss of her mother and his wife, Diane. He would be empty without her, broken, the course of his life redirected toward the grave. Leigh owed him better, and she wasn’t about to turn her back on that debt or on him.


“In The Dark Soil of Deceit” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Charlie Briggs is working as a ranch hand in one of the two biggest ranches at the gateway to the Wet Mountains Range. The neighboring ranchers have been feuding for years, but an act of sabotage in the barn where Charlie works seems to be the latest strike of one against the other. Being the loyal and righteous young man that he is, Charlie decides to go undercover and learn the truth behind the attack.

Only time will tell if he is to find the answers he’s looking for or more violence and bloodshed…

His investigation leads Charlie down a dangerous road he was utterly unprepared for. To make things even more complicated, he starts falling for the daughter of his bosse’s rival. Unable to fight his emotions for Leigh, and in his effort to protect her, he searches for a peaceful resolution. However, Charlie soon realizes that the stakes are higher than he had ever imagined… When past secrets and political trickery come to play, justice takes a back seat to deceit.

Does he stand a chance to succeed on a quest that threatens everything he holds dear?

Charlie and Leigh find themselves in a feud that could consume all of Colorado, and embroils them in a battle of wits with the most powerful and ruthless people in the state. Will true love survive, or will they be both sacrificed, pawns in the game of life in a new and frightening country?

A pulse-pounding drama, which will make you turn the pages with bated breath until the very last word. A must-read for fans of Western action and romance.

“In The Dark Soil of Deceit” is a historical adventure novel of approximately 90,000 words. No cliffhangers, only pure unadulterated action.

Get your copy from Amazon!

6 thoughts on “In the Dark Soil of Deceit (Preview)”

  1. The madness. Of a old Georges, set mine’s and misunderstandings , make for a mixture of truth and lies to find the real reason for the barn burning and start a ranch war. Then there is a logical ranch hand how wants to find the real truth and reason , and why.

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