Excerpt: Hitched in Time

Excerpt: Hitched in Time

In Marry Me Cowboy!

Chapter One

Dodge City, Kansas

July, 1878

It was Judson Black’s lucky day.

Of course there were prob’ly a dozen cowboys hittin’ Dodge today and thinkin’ the same thing. Difference was, Judson knew it was true.

Hadn’t he been first in line to get his hundred-dollar wages from O’Leary, the trail boss, on the stroke of noon? Hadn’t he found himself a room south of the “deadline” in the Great Western Hotel for a buck and a half? A room with a real feather bed and blankets that didn’t smell like he did &emdash; as if they’d been dragged through hundreds a miles of Texas dust and good red Oklahoma dirt? Hadn’t he even got one with a window that looked out over the street and with a basin and pitcher that weren’t even chipped?

Not that he cared. After two months’ driving cattle from south of Amarillo up to the rail line at Dodge City, water in anything other than a river or bog hole was a luxury.

And speakin’ of luxuries, what about that bath and shave and haircut he’d got at George Dieter’s Tonsorial Palace? By the time he’d swabbed off months’ worth of dust and grime and George had shaved him as close as a polished apple and cropped his shaggy dark brown hair so short he felt like a sheared sheep, he came pretty close to resembling that good-lookin’ feller who was his poor dead sainted mother’s son.

‘Course there were plenty of other bathed and shaved sainted mother’s sons out prowling Dodge looking for new duds and a high old time, too. But wasn’t it Judson who got the last pair of fancy boots in Mueller and Staeter’s Boot and Shoe Shop, while his best pal, Mert McGee, had to settle for plain old brown ones?

“I swear you are the luckiest son of a buck goin’,” Mert had grumbled that evening as they made their way into the Lady Gay Saloon.

And judging from the looks he’d been getting from the dance-hall girls and sporting women since they’d walked in, Judson reckoned his luck was just beginning.