Rage washed over Bonnie’s face as she struggled to her feet. “What do you mean ‘Tobias?’ Is this some kind of sick joke?”
Vi gritted her teeth and pressed on. “I promise you, Bonnie, this is really happening. And I’m here to help you.”
“That’s right!” Tobias called, only inches from her head. Next, he added emphatic gesturing to the loud and elongated syllables. “Sheee iiiiz heeeeere tooooo helllllp yooooooo!”
Vi could no longer contain her irritation and rounded on the ghost. “Shut up, Tobias!”
“But I,” he stammered and his whole body seemed to deflate. “I wanted to help.”
“I’m trying to handle this but I can’t do it with you yammering.”
“Sorry,” he mumbled.
“Tobias?” a voice squeaked from the corner. Rage washed over Bonnie’s face as she struggled to her feet. “What do you mean ‘Tobias?’ Is this some kind of sick joke?”
Vi wheeled back to face her. “I can explain—”
“What is wrong with you? This is cruel!”
She made a desperate grab for Bonnie’s hand but the other woman snatched it away before they could make the crucial contact. “Please, Tobias is—”
“Don’t you dare say his name. Get away from me!”
“Bonnie, really! Tobias is—”
Vi’s plea was cut off by a ringing slap across her face. The widow let out a peep of surprise as they touched and she saw the form of her husband appear and disappear again.
Like many writers, I keep several active notebooks. There’s something bittersweet about scribbling on that final page and declaring the book full. But I closed the cover on my Steampunk convention notebook after a fantastic visit to Steampunk World’s Fair 2017. Then I flipped back through the pages, reminiscing about all of the wonderful seminars and workshops I attended, and I suddenly realized there is a gigantic backlog of material. Almost half an inch of notes about talks about things from sword fights to the French Revolution are languishing within these pages, but not for long!
Eventually, all of this fabulous content will be posted either on this site or Steampunk Journal. But if you want to get everything I write in one place and before anyone else, become a patron. $1/month gets you “behind the curtain,” and a free ebook of No Rest for the Wicked before it is released July 1. You can also read full chapters before the final ebook is published, 5 chapters are already available! Find out more.
The clock struck twelve.
Vi was alone when the scraggly form of Salty swung open the front door and let in the scuffle of people from outside. Two of the wizened little prune’s burly “business associates” followed him in, six-shooters hanging from their gun belts. Despite the burning sun outside, the interior of the saloon was cool. Later, the glow of the foot lights and the happy warmth of lanterns would light the room, but at the moment all was cool and calm inside its walls.
The bottle of whiskey sat open and inviting in the center of the table, an empty glass waiting in front of an open stool.
She motioned to the vacant seat. “Come sit a spell, Salty.”
“That’s very kind of you, Miss Viola,” he said with an oily grin. “But I’m afraid I have an appointment.”
“Interesting.” Vi poured herself another drink and held the bottle out. “It isn’t the sort of appointment I told you couldn’t happen here anymore, is it? Where you use my place of business to hustle people?”
Salty glanced over his shoulder and licked his lips; a nervous tic she’d noticed the first time they’d met. He jerked his chin at the bar. “Give us a moment, boys.”
I recently created a page with a list of 30 different talks I can do at Steampunk conventions and other special events. I absolutely LOVE getting up and talking in front of an audience, and I know event organizers are always hungry for content. Sounds like a match made in heaven to me!
I will keep the page updated as I add new topics, and I am also very open to researching a new topic or catering an existing talk to your event’s theme. Feel free to e-mail about appearances at Phoebe @ PhoebeDarqueling.com.
The henchman glowered. “This is her, right boss? I think she was planning to run.”
“Let her go!” Vi shouted and got to her feet. “She was on her way here, you idiot.”
Bonnie wrenched her arm free and walked over to Salty. “Here you are. It’s everything we owe you.” She threw the bank note onto the table.
He reached out a grubby hand and retrieved the paper. After a glance at the scrawl he tossed it back down. “Where’s the gold? And your husband? I made a deal with Mr. Murray to get paid in gold for my investment.”
“This spends even better than gold,” she replied.
“What about the interest?”
“Don’t push it, Salty,” Vi growled.
Bonnie pouted and her gaze met the other woman’s in concern. “What interest?”
“I gave you an extension, remember? This isn’t near enough anymore.”
Vi gave a minute shake of her head. They both knew the gold Bonnie had just deposited was worth twice what she’d owed, but Salty didn’t need to know it, too.
“But, it’s all I’ve got! You’ve got to accept it.”
“I’ll play you for it.” Vi slapped her hand down on the bank note and grinned. There was no way she was going to let this weasel extort more than he was owed, and Bonnie had played her role perfectly. “You and me. One hand of black jack owns the Murray’s debt. You game?”
My short story, The Vigil, is being published in an anthology and I’d love to see you at the Facebook launch event this weekend. Join me and 22 other talented fantasy writers during our launch event on Saturday to get a Chasing Magic for just $.99.
Plus, when you buy a copy of Chasing Magic on May 6 and post an image of your purchase confirmation in the Facebook event page, you’ll be entered into a giveaway for three Amazon gift cards, free books, and more fantast goodies.
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