Excerpts from A Basket of Trouble

Excerpt #1

Chapter 1

The Opening

“Would you please stop fidgeting?”

Claire Hanover jumped, startled out of her troubled thoughts by the bemused sound of her husband’s voice. She looked out the car window and saw they still had a ways to go. Then she glanced at Roger sitting beside her, his steady hands on the steering wheel.

“Sorry,” she said. “I’m anxious about the stable’s opening event. I want everything to go well for Charley’s new business.”

“Honey, I’m sure everything will be fine.” Roger took his gaze off the road for a moment to eye her hands. “And if you keep picking at the cellophane on that gift basket, you’ll tear it open before your brother gets a chance to.”

She stilled her nervous fingers and pressed her palms against the sides of the large gift basket on her lap. She had taken a lot of care in choosing the contents and decorating it with vintage horse tack and a bow made from a horse-themed bandana. The last thing she wanted was to destroy the basket before Charley could even see it.

Claire took a deep breath to calm herself and slowly blew it out. “Okay, okay, I’ll try to be still.”

Roger reached over and gave her arm a squeeze. “We’ll be there soon.”

She peered at the cornflower blue Colorado sky, where a few puffy white clouds floated on a light breeze. At least the weather was holding for the opening. Being early June, the summer monsoon season hadn’t kicked in yet, with its afternoon thunderstorms. Claire wondered how the summer storms would affect the trail rides through the Garden of the Gods Park that Charley was offering at his stable. But, he had dealt with the same weather pattern in Durango before he relocated to Colorado Springs a few months ago.

In fact, her younger brother and his wife, Jessica, had managed his stable business in Durango very capably for quite a few years. But then the economic downturn had dried up tourism in Durango. After struggling to hold on, Charley had looked around for alternatives. Anxious to help, Claire had suggested he investigate Colorado Springs, where she and Roger lived, because summer tourism was still fairly steady there.

In a serendipitous turn of events, the owners of a large parcel of commercial land near the intersection of Garden of the Gods Road and 30th Street were happy to negotiate a lease with an option to buy. And, Charley was able to reach an agreement with the city to run commercial horseback trail rides down Foothills Trail through the adjacent Blair Bridge Open Space and into the scenic Garden of the Gods Park.

Thankfully, Charley had found a buyer for his property in Durango. That gave him the funds to make the move and buy a downsized home in Colorado Springs. They didn’t need as much space because their son, like Claire’s and Roger’s two kids, was grown and on his own. An added benefit of the relocation was that Charley would be living closer to Claire. She hoped that would bring their relationship closer, too. They had been drifting apart lately, and that bothered her.

She needed to find out why.

Excerpt #2

As they walked under the wooden sign into the yard in front of the trailer, a wiry young man with walnut-colored skin and long black hair tied back in a ponytail came high-tailing it out of the barn. He shouted, “Señor Charley, señor Charley!”

Holding a coffee cup, Charley stepped out of the trailer onto its porch. “What is it, Pedro?”

Pedro skidded to a halt, eyes wide in alarm. In between huffs, he said, “Es Kyle. He muerto!”

Claire gasped.

Charley dropped his cup. It shattered and splashed coffee on his boots. “What?”

“Gunpowder stomp him! Andale!” Pedro waved Charley toward the stable.

The two of them took off running, the hard soles of their leather boots crunching in the gravel.