High Gun at Surlock (2006)

High Gun at Surlock (2006) by Terrell L Bowers Read Free Book Online

Book: High Gun at Surlock (2006) by Terrell L Bowers Read Free Book Online
Authors: Terrell L Bowers
Tags: Western
checked his reflection in the nearby mirror. His hat was perched slightly to one side, not a hair was out of place, and he had taken special care when shaving that morning. He swallowed his dread at facing the woman and hurried out of his office to go meet her.
    Alma was on the walk, regarding Big Mike with a critical eye as he unloaded her traveling trunk. She observed Huxton’s approach and turned to face him.
    ‘Charles.’ She greeted him with a cool reserve. ‘I thought I might have to seek you out.’
    ‘I received your message from the telegraph office and have been watching for the stage all morning. Yates is running about two hours late.’
    A tight frown furrowed her brow.
    ‘I expected to be riding in our new Concord by this time.’
    The word our grated on a nerve, but he hid the aversion.
    ‘It hasn’t arrived yet.’
    Alma backed up so that Mike Yates could not overhear their conversation. ‘What about the run to Cheyenne?’ she asked Huxton. ‘Have you decided how you are going to win the mail and shipping contracts away from our competitor?’
    ‘I’ve been corresponding with some influential people. Once we have our stage running I’m certain we’ll get our share of the business. There’s no comparison between a new Concord and that old Troy wagon you came in on.’
    ‘No argument there,’ she said crisply. ‘I don’t think there are even any springs under that wooden bucket.’
    Huxton tipped his head in the direction of a nearby eatery.
    ‘They serve a nice cup of tea at the Hot Grub Emporium. I believe they even offer cold lemonade.’
    ‘I’d prefer to get settled in a room first.’
    Huxton waved to Skinny Davis. The man hurried over at once.
    ‘Take Mrs Huxton’s things to the hotel,’ Huxton ordered. Then, looking at Alma: ‘I reserved you their best room this morning.’
    Alma nodded her approval, but watched after Skinny with an unmasked disapproval.
    ‘Are all of the men working for you of the same caliber as that one?’
    ‘He only does odd jobs.’
    ‘I thought you were serious about this business, Charles. You can’t influence people of importance by hiring scruffy, unsavory employees.’
    At that moment, Huxton spotted Kyler. He was dressed in a clean suit and had just come out of the barber shop.
    ‘Dane!’ he called out. ‘Come over here!’
    Hearing the name, Kyler stopped and looked around. When he spotted Huxton on the walk he hurried up the street to join him.
    Huxton felt an immediate relief as Kyler removed his hat to meet Alma. He had pegged Dane as a gentleman.
    ‘This is one of my drivers, Alma,’ he told her. ‘Kyler Dane, meet Alma Huxton, my sister-in-law.’
    Alma laughed. ‘How funny we should finally meet,’ she said. ‘I’m the one who recommended you to work for Charles!’
    Kyler appeared shocked by the news. In fact, he seemed almost struck mute. Charles chuckled. Kyler had obviously thought it had been his brother who had suggested he come to work for Huxton.
    ‘I thought you were a little taller,’ Alma remarked to Kyler. ‘My husband said you seemed to tower over him.’
    Kyler displayed an easy grin.
    ‘And he told me you were merely a handsome galtoo,’ he complimented her. ‘I can see we both made mistakes. He thought I was taller, and you’re much prettier than I expected.’
    The words of flattery brought forth a complacent smile, but Alma was a businesswoman. She grew serious almost at once.
    ‘What are your thoughts about the situation here, Mr Dane?’ she asked. ‘I realize you’ve only been working for Charles for a short while, but do you believe there is a future for this freight line?’
    Kyler turned his hat in his hands, as if deciding the correct answer. When he spoke he was blunt and to the point.
    ‘There’s a fair amount of work here, but the Yates line has a firm hold in the community. We can compete with them, maybe even undercut them on prices, but they aren’t going to give up without a

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