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Winter Kill

For Jason Locke, the ranch on the Green River is the realization of a dream, a chance to hang up his guns and build a new life. For Wiley Carr, it is the home he never had. For Avram and Sarah Kleinfeld, escaping the atrocities of Eastern Europe, it is a sanctuary and a place of renewed hope. For Wes and Dorinda Corning it represents a chance to steal a stake to further their ambitions. And for John Drayton, it is a time of soul-searching and decision. To add to the struggle, all of them must face the savage Wyoming winter.

A Hard Shell Word Factory Release


Judith Parker

Judith R. Parker is a former teacher and corporate CFO. She is the author of several novels and numerous short stories. Before turning to fiction, she wrote for professional journals on "boring subjects such as accounting procedures." She currently makes her home in the Cascade Mountains of central Washington State with her husband, two dogs and six cats.

Reviews

4 Stars!

"Winter Kill is an intriguing story of when the west was wild and to obtain land all you needed to do was place a claim. Jason placed his claim. Green River ignored it. It stands to reason there would be a gunfight to end the squabble. Don't miss this tale J.R. Parker has so skillfully weaved."

Brenda Ramsbacher -- Just Views


"J.R. Parker stakes a solid claim in the western genre with Winter Kill. Full of action, intrigue and human drama straight out of the last century, the book grabs you from the first paragraph and pulls you through to the exciting conclusion in a page-turning furor. Parker brings the past to life with her vivid descriptions and clever dialogue. The characters will haunt you long after the book is read. If you love fast-paced adventure, Winter Kill is one ride you won't want to miss."

Adrianne Lee -- author


"Against the spectacular backdrop of the Wind River Mountains in Wyoming territory, J.R. Parker has crafted an exciting tale of Jacon Locke's struggle to reclaim his ranch from land thieves and to finally find his own peack. A fast-paced adventure pitting human courage and frailty amid the brutal beauty of nature. An author of thrillers, J.R. Parker is a welcome new voice in Westerns."

Jo Dereske -- author of the Miss Zukas and Ruby Crane mysteries
Excerpt

Prologue

Jason Locke left the army patrol bivouacked beside the river and rode upstream. He rode warily with his rifle across his lap. His gaze continually swept the country, searching, assessing. This was Shoshoni country and they had always been friendly to whites but that didn't mean he couldn't run into a party of Blackfoot or even Cheyenne.

Removing his hat, he ran a hand through his hair, letting the breeze cool his scalp, and wiped the sweat from his face with the back of a calloused hand. He replaced the hat, cocking it low over his forehead to shade his eyes.

He was a big man, over six feet tall, with wide shoulders tapering to the narrow hips of a man who had spent his life on horseback. The face, under hair so black it glinted with blue highlights, was lean and chiseled. Not handsome. It was too rugged for that, but it was an interesting face, full of strength and character.

The grass beneath his gelding's feet was tall and beginning to cure on the stem in the hot August sun. On his left the ridge was grass covered with only an occasional tree. On his right lay the Wind River Range, rough and pine clad. Ahead the mountains thrust their majestic heads against a clear blue sky.

As he passed a clump of aspens nestled in the curve of the river, he felt a vague stirring inside him, a poised expectancy. He shook his head as if the motion could dislodge the feeling.

Ahead, he could see that the valley curved to the right. On impulse, he turned and sent his horse scrambling up between Gypsum and Battleship Mountains, following South Fork. He worked his way through the cool, quiet pines and up the side of Big Sheep Mountain. Suddenly, the valley on both sides of the mountain spread out before him. He pulled the horse up and sat, silent, his cold gray eyes softened as he absorbed the view.

The valley was shaped like a fish hook, the river he had followed forming the shank. It swung around the point of the ridge and back below him on the right. At the short barb end, two lakes sparkled in the sun, like jewels dropped in folds of green velvet. Beyond the upper lake stood a flat-topped mountain, its covering of snow glistening in the sun.

With a sigh, Jason relaxed in the saddle filled with a sense of contentment, of coming home. He sat for a long time, while his mind wandered. He hadn't had a home since he was thirteen, since the Comanches had raided their two-by-four spread and killed his folks. His gaze settled on the bench above the lower lake and his heartbeat quickened. Home. A longing grew in his belly until it was a gnawing ache. His horse snorted impatiently but he hardly noticed.

Everything he owned was on his back in his pack. A good horse and saddle, a couple of changes of clothes, his guns and thirty dollars in his poke. Not much to show for ten years of work.

Shadows were creeping in, covering the valley like a warm blanket on a chilly night, as he finally turned and rode, reluctantly, back down the mountain knowing that he would return, had to return. In this valley, he would someday make his home.