Copper Cover

Chapter 1

Solomon was frisky. The horse’s handler was doing his best to keep up, but the star bucking bronc wasn’t making it easy. Miranda was snapping pictures as fast as her shutter could go. The morning’s photoshoot would yield a ton of great shots. Movement behind the horse added some dynamism, generally speaking, but it also had the potential to be distracting.

There seemed to be an argument going on in the distance. Curious, she changed her focus to the background behind Solomon, and saw a cowboy throw down his saddle and yell at his horse. The animal shied away, afraid, but the man kept yelling at it, fury written all over his face and posture. The horse was rolling its eyes and pulling away though he was tied to a rail. Mandy thought it might be an interesting shot, so she worked the camera’s shutter. In his fit of pique, the cowboy did a remarkable, reprehensible thing. He punched his horse right in the face. Pain and fear made the horse half-rear, trying to get away, but the cowboy kept yelling at the tied-up animal. No one but the other stock horses and bulls were nearby. Even Solomon’s handler had walked off for a break, but Mandy saw it all, her camera captured it all, and her mind barely wrapped around what she’d witnessed.

The dark-haired, black-hatted, cowboy turned away from the horse, his ire calming, but he looked up and saw Mandy there, camera in hand. He frowned. Mandy tried to remain poised and cool, slowly pulling the camera away from her face and down to her side, but she was terrified by the look of violence in his eyes. He started to stalk toward her. There was enough distance between them, and Solomon, too, so she had time to put her camera in its bag and zip it up quickly. She hurried away from the approaching monster and walked quickly out of the barn toward where the other cowboys and animal handlers had congregated, some smoking, some drinking the arena’s bitter coffee.

She lost herself in the crowd, finding a cowboy she knew, whom she figured would accept her company graciously. Having met him at a crowded party a few months prior, she knew him a little bit, or, at least enough to say hello.

Smiling though she didn’t feel it, she approached the redheaded saddle bronc rider with the gray hat. “Hey, Copper, how’s it going?”

He gave her a brief look of confusion, then smiled, his bright blue eyes crinkling at the corners. There were dimples on either side of his mouth, showing in a charming way on his clean-shaven face. Her heart stopped racing from fear. She felt comfortable and safe around him. He was a tall man and powerfully strong. Mandy was sure he’d protect her from danger should she need it.

Sparing a glance behind her, she didn’t see the mean cowboy in the crowd. Maybe he’d gone back in the barn. Hopefully, he wasn’t further abusing his horse.

“Hi, Mandy,” Copper said genially. “I’m good. You look very pretty today, but your hands are trembling. Is everything okay?”

She looked down at the hand holding her camera bag on her shoulder and realized Copper was right. Her fingers vibrated with upset. Copper was very observant.

“I… Umm. I saw something in the barn that bothered me. There was a cowboy confronting his horse and…”

There was a pause as Mandy tried to find words to describe the horrible event. 


“And he punched the animal. Right in the face.”

Copper’s frown was immediate, and his jaw tightened. “Punched it?”

She nodded. “He was yelling first, then he hauled off and smacked the poor horse. I have pictures.”

“May I see?”

They were digital so she could show him the thumbnails on her camera view screen. “Sure.” Her hands were shaking enough that she had to handle her camera extra-carefully. It took her a moment to get it out of the bag and turn on the viewer. She flipped the photos from the end of the series, finding the damning shots nearly immediately. “Here.”

Copper took the camera and looked at the photos in question. Dark red brows dipping down at the bridge of his nose, he mumbled something to himself.


“Sorry,” he said. “I know that guy. He’s Don Jacobs. A tie-down roper.”

“Oh. How well do you know him?”

“Not that well. He keeps to himself, for the most part. Seems to have some anger issues, judging by these pictures. He shouldn’t be hitting his horse.”

“No. Should I do something?”

“Absolutely. You should take these pictures to the Rodeo Cowboys’ Association Animal Welfare Board.” As he handed the camera back to her, she couldn’t help but see how his eyes had darkened with anger.

Read the back cover text.

Get your copy at Amazon now for an appealing low price, or free with your Kindle Unlimited subscription.