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Guest: Cheryl Pierson

HELL ON THE BORDER

 It was said, “There is no Sunday west of St. Louis–no God west of Ft. Smith.” 

Indian Territory. A perfect haven for outlaws of every kind. They could run west of Ft. Smith where lawlessness reigned, where there were no consequences for any crime–until Judge Isaac Parker and his U.S. Deputy Marshals took charge. 

By 1870, the Indian Territory had become a hellhole not fit for honest citizens. The last civilized gateway into the territory was in Arkansas–Ft. Smith. 

The Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole) who had been relocated to Indian Territory, had their own judicial system for the Indians of the Nations. But their courts had no jurisdiction over intruders who found their way into the Territory. 

In 1875, President Grant appointed Judge Isaac Parker to what later became the Western Judicial District of Arkansas, including not only several counties in Arkansas and a strip along the Kansas border, but all of Indian Territory as well. The total area of the court’s jurisdiction was nearly 74,000 square miles, with Indian Territory accounting for over 70,000 square miles of that area. 

The lawmen, or the “Men Who Rode for Parker,” numbered less than 200 at the outset. Only one carried the title, “U.S. Marshal.” The rest were deputies. The marshal’s salary was $90 per month. the deputies received no salary at all. They could arrest for any crime committed in the 74,000 mile area–with or without a warrant. They earned usually no more than $500 per year. Up until 1898, a fee system was in place that allowed a deputy to collect $2 for each arrest he made. In addition, he could receive 6 cents per mile for going to the location of the arrest, and 10 cents per mile for himself and his prisoner to return to court. 

No arrest meant no payment, and if he should happen to kill a suspect in attempting the arrest, the deputy was expected to pay for the suspect’s burial. 

After all the deputy’s expenses were tallied, the U.S. Marshal deducted 25 percent from the total before he paid the deputy the remainder. 

During the 21 years of Judge Parker’s tenure, over 65 deputy marshals were killed in the line of duty. Some references list the number as high as 100. 

Being a U.S. Deputy Marshal was even tougher in real life than Hollywood could ever portray. The lonely existence these men led, riding out in search of desperate criminals over vast areas of land for a $2 arrest fee, is unimaginable today. The turnover rate was high due to the danger, the low pay, and the enormous amount of territory they had to cover. Weeks of separation from their families was also a deterrent. 

But the facts show what those deputy marshals did to bring Indian Territory back under the law again. Judge Parker tried over 17,000 cases during his time at the Western Judicial District of Arkansas–and there were never more than 200 men on the payroll to accomplish these arrests. Order could not have been restored without these men, willing to risk their lives to bring justice back to the wild borderlands of Arkansas, Kansas and Indian Territory. 

I love to write about these lawmen—my stories are fiction, of course, but with as much realism as research will allow. It doesn’t hurt that I have lived in Oklahoma all my life, so the research has been easy and lifelong. In my novel, TIME PLAINS DRIFTER, Marshal Rafe d’Angelico finds love in the most unusual place—the future.  

FROM TIME PLAINS DRIFTER:

Substitute teacher Jenni Dalton is flung backward in time 115 years with seven of her students when a comet passes close enough to Earth to rearrange the bands of time. They find themselves in 1895, Indian Territory with no way back to 2010.

U.S. Territorial Marshal Rafe d’Angelico was murdered, along with his brother, sixteen years earlier, in 1879. Now, he finds himself a reluctant angel, brought through time to help Jenni Dalton and her students escape the Dark One who is after one of them. But which one? And for what evil purpose?

Rafe only knows he doesn’t want to be an angel, now that he’s found the woman he wants to spend his life with. Keeping one step ahead of Satan’s man who’s teamed up with Rafe’s murderer proves to be the hardest thing he’s ever faced–until he’s forced to choose between saving the woman he loves and spending eternity in a Hell of his own making.

Will love be strong enough to save the TIME PLAINS DRIFTER? My second novel, TIME PLAINS DRIFTER, was released through Class Act Books on December 1st.

In this excerpt, Rafe has prepared himself to be honest with Jenni and tell her who and what he is, fully expecting her to reject him. But she surprises him with her understanding and acceptance, and he realizes he’s fallen a lot harder than he ever intended. 

EXCERPT:

He closed his eyes, letting the pleasurable feel of her wet mouth on his body wash over him, along with her voice. “Some things never change,”she’d said earlier. Her Oklahoma accent was a slow waltz to his mind, its lilting cadence urging him to accept what they had between them. Still, he couldn’t let it go. Couldn’t ever be dishonest with her, of all people.

“Don’t you want to know—”

She stopped him, placing two cool fingers across his lips, smiling at the tickle of his moustache against her skin. The smile faded as she absorbed the worry in his expression, the smoldering fire in his eyes, and made it her own.

“Not now, I don’t. You asked me—earlier—if I felt it. Whatever it is between us. I do.” Debating with herself, she hesitated a moment before coming to a decision. “I want you, Rafe,” she murmured. “I trust you.” She nuzzled his neck.“It doesn’t matter now, who—or what—you are.”

His hand closed in a fist around the shimmering satin of her copper hair, his chest filling with a sweet peace at her quiet words.

Dead…alive…Mexican…American…man…ghost…angel…

His mind churned as Jenni kissed him once again. Accepting him, for whoever he might be. She loved him. She hadn’t said it yet, but he knew it by the gentle way her lips grazed across his, then claimed his mouth completely, as if that was the only way she had to let him know how she felt. They breathed together, as one.

He answered her wordlessly, his tongue going into her mouth, fingers splaying and tightening against her scalp as he pulled her to him.

She came across his bare chest, the stiffness of the material of her own blouse gliding with gentle abrasion across his nipples. He groaned in pleasure and felt her smile against his mouth. She made the move again as she lifted her lips from his, emerald eyes sparkling into his searing gaze.

“We’ll talk later,” she assured him.

“It’ll be too late to change your mind about me then,” he said, half-jokingly.

“I won’t change my mind, Rafe.”

The sweet sincerity in her voice and the promise in her eyes reassured him. He pulled her down silently. As their mouths melded once more, he rolled, taking her with him, changing their positions so he lay atop her.

She gasped, yielding to him, her cool palms sliding over the fevered heat of his skin, across his chest and shoulders. He began to unbutton her blouse as he kissed her, his fingers moving deftly. He pushed away the first layer of material with his customary impatience, then started on the stays of her corset.

She twisted beneath him at the loosening of the undergarment. He pulled her upright momentarily, whisking blouse and corset over her head, dropping them in a heap on the floor.

In silent invitation, Jenni lifted her hand to him. She touched his side, and he flinched slightly as her fingers lingered over the very place the Bowie had gone into him earlier that day. Even though a red scar marked the spot, there was no pain for him, and he saw no puzzlement in her eyes…only concern.

“Does it hurt?”

It was as he had suspected. She’d seen what had happened, how bad it should have been…but wasn’t. And she had accepted it, unconditionally. They would talk later, as she’d said, but somehow, he felt he would find the words he needed to explain things to her. He shook his head slightly. “No.”

A vulnerable uncertainty crossed her face for a moment. “Well, then, Marshal—what’re you waiting for?” He unfastened her skirt and petticoat, then made short work of the stockings and underpants.

God. Rafe swallowed hard, reaching to trace the faded tan lines across her shoulders. He moistened his lips, his teeth sinking into the lower one momentarily. His pulse raced as his gaze moved over her face—then lower, to her breasts, her flat belly, and the triangle of soft hair, below.

 “Pierson’s fresh, well-crafted novel pits some unlikely heroes against evil incarnate. The characters are vibrant and tell a story of courage in difficult circumstances. An open thread invites a sequel.”   ~~Romantic Times Magazine~~ 4.5 Stars

I’ve enjoyed being a guest here at Slip Into Something Victorian and want to thank Isabel for inviting me over today.  To order Time Plains Drifter, Fire Eyes, or my short story, A Night For Miracles, see the links below.  Thanks so much for having me today!

Visit my website
Visit my blog
AND the historical blog

~Cheryl

 A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES is available at The Wild Rose Press: Widow Angela Bentley takes in three children and a wounded gunman one snowy Christmas Eve.  Will she find love on this, A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES?   

 I also have another Christmas short story, a FREE READ, available there, UNTIL THE LAST STAR BURNS OUT  

My debut novel, FIRE EYES is also available at The Wild Rose Press: Marshal Kaed Turner is given a rare second chance at love with the mysterious woman the Choctaw call “Fire Eyes.” But can he quiet the ghosts from his past and protect the love that was stolen from him once before? There’s only one way: Kill outlaw Andrew Fallon, along with the murdering band of men he leads.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Denise Eagan says:

    Wow, this sounds great! I didn’t know all that about the lawmen.

  2. Nice to have you come and visit us today. WOW I had no idea that being a lawman was such a difficult life. They certainly make the lawman’s life romantic and full of perks in the movies and television shows.

  3. Isabel Roman says:

    I love that first quote. Being a huge Errol Flynn fan, which previous posts will atest to, in the movie Dodge City they say something similar about no law west of the Mississippi and no God west of Wichita.

    Gotta love the mileage system, too. Did they know our current IRS? *G*

  4. Wow, what a great excerpt, Cheryl. Sounds like a great read. I really enjoyed your talk–I’m with Marlene, I had no idea it was so difficult to be a lawman.

    Thanks for visiting with us today!

    Nic

  5. Wow! Didn’t pay to be deputy and you could end up shot dead for your trouble!

    Loved the excerpt!!

  6. Cheryl says:

    Hi Denise,

    Researching this was a lot of fun. I wanted to write about the lawmen of this time period and learned a lot when working at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum here in Oklahoma City.

    Cheryl

  7. Cheryl says:

    Hi Paisley, and thanks for the welcome. I’m sorry I’m so late getting over here today–I have been sick for the last two days with “flu-like” symptoms. SIGH. Anyhow, you’re right–the lawman’s life was nothing like what they make it seem like in Hollywood. Or in fiction…LOL
    Cheryl

  8. Cheryl says:

    Hi Isabel,

    I was surprised to learn about the mileage system, but thinking back on it, I believe Rooster Cogburn alluded to that in True Grit. Did you know that they are re-making True Grit? One of the little actresses at the casting place where my daughter works is auditioning for the part of Mattie. I love Errol Flynn, too.
    Cheryl

  9. Cheryl says:

    Hi Nicole,

    Thank you! I’m so glad you liked the excerpt! Time Plains Drifter has done well, and I was worried about it–being such an odd sub-sub-genre. LOL

    Yep, it was a hard life, and one that has been glamorized SEVERELY. LOL

    Cheryl

  10. Cheryl says:

    Hi Susan,

    I KNOW! I’m thinking there HAD to be a better way to make a living. Not much money for a lot of risk.

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the excerpt. That means a lot to me.

    Cheryl

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