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Authors: The Wild Bunch [How the West Was Done 5]

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Karen Mercury

How the West Was Done 5

The Wild Bunch

Fidelia Schiller is hell-bent on a mission to find whoever murdered her brother and turned him into a guitar-playing ghost. She joins forces with Chess Hudson, who has wasted his youth on a wild European spree. But before he straightens up to manage the cattle ranch, Chess has one last blowout with stunning ranch hand Spenser Murphy.

The singing spirit leads the trio on a whirlwind journey following the trail of Spanish fly, giant spurs, and stuffed tigers. Chess is a tough and callous libertine who has known sensuality but not love, and Fidelia and Spenser have got him acting in ridiculous, passionate ways.

Meanwhile, a deranged maniac is running about, stealing Chess’s Stetson and staging a production of
 
Hamlet
. The trio must put an end to this madness before they themselves become victims of the Mirror Man. But to catch him they must work closely with him…too close for comfort.

Genre:
Historical, Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Western/Cowboys
Length:
50,481 words
 

THE WILD BUNCH

 

How the West Was Done 5

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Mercury

 

 

 

 

 

 

MENAGE EVERLASTING

 

 

Siren Publishing, Inc.

www.SirenPublishing.com

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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK

IMPRINT: Ménage Everlasting

 

 

THE WILD BUNCH

Copyright © 2012 by Karen Mercury

E-book ISBN:
978-1-62241-364-5

 

First E-book Publication: September 2012

 

Cover design by Les Byerley

All art and logo copyright © 2012 by Siren Publishing, Inc.

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.

 

All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

 

 

PUBLISHER

Siren Publishing, Inc.

www.SirenPublishing.com

Letter to Readers

 

Dear Readers,

 

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The Wild Bunch
by Karen Mercury from BookStrand.com or its official distributors, thank you. Also, thank you for not sharing your copy of this book.

 

 

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DEDICATION

 

 

For HN

Maybe. Maybe you wouldn’t be leaving if only I’d change.

THE WILD BUNCH

How the West Was Done 5

 

KAREN MERCURY

Copyright © 2012

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

July, 1872

Laramie City, Wyoming Territory

 

Chesney Hudson was a complete stranger to Laramie City. He knew less about it, in fact, than the roostered faro players who wobbled on weak ankles in front of the Bucket of Blood saloon. Chess only knew it was called the Bucket of Blood because a sign hung next to the door.

Chess should know this town like the back of his hand. Hell, his father, Simon, had practically built Laramie! If it weren’t for Simon Hudson, the Union Pacific Railroad would have gone through Tie Siding or Chugwater instead of Laramie. Laramie would just be a dusty prairie with a few bushes rolling gloomily by. And, apparently, some Indians eating sunflower seeds and spitting the shells on the ground.

Still, Chess wasn’t too eager to make his pedigree known just yet. Once he did, he’d have to behave in all sorts of highfalutin ways, and he didn’t feel like doing that just yet. Since he was pretty sure Simon drank ale at the Frontier Hotel, Chess shoved past the Indians and into the Bucket of Blood.

He wanted one or two last benders before he had to act responsibly. Once he met up with Simon, it would all be downhill from there. Simon would endlessly lecture him for that London faux pas involving hookers and Spanish fly, and then he would force him to go manage this Serendipity Ranch he had bought for Chess. Chess knew nothing about cattle or sheep. Chess didn’t
want
to know anything about cattle or sheep. But Simon had given him no option.

Chess had just settled into a lively game of faro and was starting to think Laramie was a very natty and up-to-snuff place when an annoying thing happened.

“Marcel!” cried some froufrou fellow, breathing clouds of licorice all over Chess.

Instinctively, Chess cringed over his chips, making a tent of his hands over them. He looked around, thinking a fellow gambler was Marcel, but the froufrou French guy now clapped him on the shoulder.

“Marcel! It is I, Robert Chauvet! I am sure you did not expect to see me in such a backwater place as this, but you must recall me from the boulevards of Montmartre. Those were quite the deranged days, were they not?”

This dandy frog did not ring a single bell with Chess, and he was beginning to think this was a ruse to get at his poke and take his gold. “I’m sorry, sir. I don’t recall you from Paris.” It was very possible he’d known this Chauvet from Paris, of course. Chess had spent many roostered months there, drinking absinthe and other things too untoward to think about now. Feasibly, this Chauvet dandy could ruin his reputation in Laramie before he even had a chance to stake one.

The frog continued, “Perhaps I was better known as Bullet Bob! Do you not remember, Marcel? Oh, ho! How we would crawl through the back alleys of Montmartre smoking our hashish, associating with only the most deluxe molly boys of the—”

“All right,” growled a beefy buffalo sitting next to Chess. He shoved his fist into Bullet Bob’s stomach. “That’s about enough, bub. We don’t smoke hashish in Laramie, and we don’t have much more of an appreciation for frogs wearing top hats, neither.”

“That’s all right,” said Chess, preparing to stand. “I was just leaving, anyway. Laramie ranch business to attend to.”

“Oh yeah?” said the buffalo. “Which ranch?”

Oh no
.
Perhaps that wasn’t the right thing to say.
“Oh, ah,” said Chess. He left about five dollars worth of chips on the table just to distract the other gamblers. “Just a ranch up in the Snowy Range.”

“Serendipity Ranch?” asked the buffalo. “I heard Neil Tempest just sold most of that acreage so he could spend more time in town being the marshal.”

To further distract the gamblers, Chess threw more coins onto the faro table. “Ah, that may be the one, I can’t recall exactly.”

He spun about to make his exit, but Bullet Bob gripped his arm. “You were an enfant terrible, my Marcel! Oh,
amusez-vous avec
l’absinthe!

Chess was so fed up with the bugger by now, he shoved him in his fancy waistcoat. “Listen,” he snarled. “Pull in your horns. My name isn’t Marcel. And I don’t smoke hashish either. Don’t talk to me anymore!”

Chess went like greased lightning down First Street, not daring to look over his shoulder until he’d gone an entire block. Bullet Bob, or whatever the frog’s name was, wasn’t following him, so now Chess could breathe. It was entirely possible he’d been in Montmartre, calling himself Marcel and drinking absinthe in a molly house, but he certainly didn’t want that business being blared all over Laramie.
Mon Dieu!
Of all the damned people to follow him to the middle of the bushes, it had to be some loco frog who could actually recall hazy, pickled bumsucking memories half the world away.

Now that he knew he wasn’t being followed, Chess headed for the only other place he knew in Laramie. He had gotten instructions where to find the Morning Star Gallery way back in Omaha from a like-minded associate.
Ah
.
This will be good
.
This will remind me of good times in London.

Allegedly, the Morning Star Gallery was one of those
poses plastiques
places where nearly, or hopefully, thoroughly naked women posed as living statues. It was a very popular pastime in London to sit in these establishments and pretend to be admiring the artfulness of the Greco-Roman whatnot when really one was only getting randy over viewing a woman’s titties. Chess didn’t have high hopes for a Laramie venue that would attempt to do the same. The best one could get here would be a gal depicting a bedraggled chambermaid.

Still, he’d heard this Morning Star Gallery had been moving west and gaining popularity, and it was a good sign that the bodyguard buffalo at the black-painted front door demanded two dollars just to enter. That was enough to keep out the low-life scum like Bullet Bob.

The interior of the Morning Star Gallery was so dark Chess bumped into a table. But it was also so quiet that the patrons sitting there didn’t seem to mind. Chess stood still to get his eyes adjusted. About twenty lithe women posed in various attitudes, most of them dusted with white powder to make their skin glow palely like marble. Cold blue glass lamps added to the lifeless effect, and not one of them blinked under the weight of their white curly wigs.

Normally, this wasn’t an overtly pornographic pursuit. Some of the gents in here probably really
were
admiring the Greek sculpture that happened to be nearly nude. But it wasn’t a coincidence that the Morning Star Gallery had been positioned in the very block that was already chock-f of whorehouses. Once fellows got an eyeful of these supple dolls pretending to be Eve or a Slavic beauty, they’d be raring to spend their nest eggs on the prairie flowers next door. It was a sound business tactic. In London’s Cleveland Street, Chess had even seen a Lady Godiva on a real horse who sent a room full of men stampeding to the nearest brothel in such a frenzy someone had been fatally brained by a falling beer keg.

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