Title: Stone Ponies
John Howard Novel Book Four
Author: Ronald C. Paxton
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4
Howdy Doody is out of prison and gunning for the man who ruined his life. John Howard knows he’s coming, and he’s ready.
BLURB: Stone Ponies
A threatening letter in the mail shatters the fragile tranquility of John Howard’s world. The note is unsigned, but the meaning is clear. Howdy Doody is out of prison and gunning for the man he blames for ruining his life. John was the one who caught Doody cheating at a major rodeo event and got him kicked off the national circuit. He was also the one who hired and then fired the disgraced cowboy when he caught him stealing from the Wild Pony Ranch cash box. Fifteen long years have passed, and now Doody was back. When a trusted employee is murdered John knows it’s time for him to find and stop the former rodeo cowboy or die trying.
EXCERPT: Stone Ponies
John glanced at his watch as he left the parking lot. He was getting used to the drive. It was long enough for him to organize his thoughts and prepare for the day ahead, but not so long that he was tired by the time he reached the ranch. Sometimes he and Sarah Jane talked; sometimes they made the trip in companionable silence. This felt like a silent day.
“We need to talk.”
“I’ve told you before, Sarah Jane, those are four words no man ever wants to hear.”
“You’re not getting any better, John. I thought the move to the lake would help, but it hasn’t.”
He flinched as Sarah Jane’s hand slammed the dashboard.
“You are notfine, John! You think I’m blind? The nightmares haven’t gone away. As soon as we get within five miles of the ranch, you start to tense up like a twelve-year-old boy trying to talk his way out of a poor report card.”
“It’s not that bad, Sarah Jane.”
“Not that bad? Not that bad? It’s gotten to the point that you don’t want to leave the house once we get to the ranch. How long has it been since you took JB out for a ride? That horse misses you, John. The men miss seeing you too.”
“I’m in my office working, Sarah Jane. I don’t have the time.”
“You’ve always made time for the horses, John, and the men. That’s what you’ve always been about.”
John remained silent. His stomach began to churn, and he could feel sweat forming under his arms despite the weather. The truck was eating up the miles. There was little traffic on the road this morning. The ranch was twenty minutes away.
“I want you to see Linda Smythe. Maybe she can help.”
“Who is Linda Smythe?”
“You’ve met her. Jason gives her private lessons. She usually rides Tulsa.”
John shook his head.
Sarah Jane sighed.
“She’s a drop dead gorgeous blonde in her late thirties with big breasts, full lips, and a perfect ass.”
“Oh,thatLinda Smythe,” John said.
“That’s right, smartass. She’s a psychologist. You need to talk to someone about this, John.”
Fifteen minutes to the ranch. His pulse started to gallop.
“Fine, set it up. Nowcan I have a donut?”
Sarah Jane smiled and touched his arm.
“No, but I’m glad that’s settled. You have an appointment late this afternoon. We’ll stop by her office on the way home from work.”
His cell phone interrupted a smart remark that was on the tip of his tongue.
“It’s Jupiter. He says it’s important.”
John slowed the truck and pulled onto the shoulder of the road.
“What’s up? We’re on the way in.”
Sarah Jane watched her husband. She could read John like an open book with large print. The news was bad. She fought to maintain a neutral expression.
“We’ll be there in ten.”
He put the phone away and eased back onto the road.
His hands felt clammy on the wheel. The perspiration under his arms was running freely now. He drew a deep breath and looked at his wife.
“We’ve got trouble.”
southern mystery; suspense; thriller; horse ranch; cowboys
Twitter handle: https://twitter.com/ronaldpaxton2