Stephen Bly – Romantic Excerpt – Part 3 of 4

Shannon here: Western romance author, Stephen Bly shares a romantic excerpt from his book, Throw the Devil off the Train. Comment on any post dated May 2 – 7 for a chance to win a copy. If each post has at least ten comments, Stephen will give away three copies. Deadline May 7, 11:59 PM central time. Here’s Stephen:

Excerpt from Throw the Devil off the Train by Stephen Bly  

   By the time Race Hillyard shouldered his saddle and hiked across the tracks, a crowd had formed on the platform next to the westbound train. A few boarded the rain. The rest milled about saying farewells. . .

   The distant gunshot sounded like a celebration fired in the air, but the man in her arms didn’t need outside encouragement. Soft, unchapped lips pressed firmly with only a twitch of anxiety.

   Catherine graded it a level three kiss, perhaps headed for a four.

   She threw her arms around his neck and clutched tight. His whole face now felt warm and moist. The low moan bubbled up like lava from some buried source.

   That’s better. A definite four. I knew you could do it. But this is where I stop. I never go to a five in public. Especially in a crowded train station.

   She released her grip to study the wide, brown eyes and intense face. Women would murder to have such shapely earlobes. They seem wasted on a man. Hmmm. . .is that a smirk or a leer? This close, his nose does no look quite so long.

   Like reverse poles on a magnet, his lips jammed against hers again.

   He’s trying for a five, but he’s way too aggressive. She felt her mouth mash back against her teeth. Rose tonic water. . .men with silky soft mustaches always use rose tonic water. Why is that?

   “Move it.” The tone jarred her as if from a dream when she was trying to stop a fall off a cliff. “You two step over by the baggage and do anything that won’t get you arrested. I’ve toted this saddle all the way from the stockyard and I’d like to board the train.”

   Catherine’s eyes popped open. The growling speaker’s sun-tanned face was caked with a tad less dirt than his broad-brimmed black felt hat.

   Thick mustache, wide chin, hasn’t shaved in several days. He does not use rose tonic water.

   She tilted her chin. “Please, I’m going away for a few weeks and I don’t want him to forget me.”

   The tall man in the rumpled charcoal-gray suit and dingy white, tieless shirt tipped his hat. “Lady, nobody on this train platform is going to forget that kiss. Now, move aside.”

   Catherine suppressed a smile. “Must you be so rude?”

   Mister, you think that was memorable? You have no idea what a level five kiss looks like. And I’m quite certain you will never find out.

   The steam blast from the train caused her to stumble forward. Catherine clutched the hard, cold, rawhide saddle horn. The saddle crashed to the rough wooden deck of the station platform.

   The man’s face reddened, accenting his thick, black eyebrows. “Lady, you are a . . . .”

   “Just a moment!” The one in the crisp, three piece suit and unchapped lips stepped between them. “I say, are you insulting my fiancée?”

   “No one is insulting anyone. This saddle is heavy. I’m tired. I want to get on the train.” He swooped down and hefted his saddle, then shoved his dusty wool suit coat back to reveal a holstered revolver. “Get out of the way.”

   Is he threatening to use a firearm? I assumed this only happened in Mr. Buntline’s torrid novels. This must be what Gretchen meant when she said to be on the lookout for western ruffians.

   Catherine slipped her hand into Mr. Rose-Tonic-Water’s arm. “It seems obvious this man’s coarseness is equal to his insolence.” When she raised her chin, she felt the hatpin strain that kept the turned-down brim of her Tuscan straw hat at a rakish tilt across her brunette bangs.

   The man in the three-piece suit shuffled Catherine Draper to the side. “One more kiss?” he said aloud . . . He leaned close to her ear, his thin voice a soft whisper. “Thank you for allowing me to see you off. Will you wave to me from the window?”

   “Of course.” . . .

   She turned to view his retreat to the platform and a circle of friends. She waited for the whole group to turn her way. Then she dabbed the corner of each eye and offered a shy wave.

About the book: It’s 1880. Catherine’s got to escape from her hometown in Virginia. She seeks a new life with a fresh identity with her fiancé out in California. Race has his heart set on revenge for his brother’s death and a body in desperate need of quiet and sleep. But it’s a long, cramped, noisy train ride from Omaha to Sacramento. . .and something evil’s on board. Learn more at: or

 Come back May 7 for Stephen’s touching marriage testimony: When ‘In Sickness’ Hits.

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