I’ve been writing now for a number of years in multiple genres. I can honestly say I’ve never had more fun than I have writing about my Montana Bounty Hunters. So, when I was approaching the last story of the last hunter in the series, I thought hard about what I wanted to do next. The solution was pretty easy.
I’d write more. However, the MBH agency in Bear Lodge, MT was chock full of hunters. I needed my bounty hunter agency to expand, so I chose another location in Montana, fictional again, of course, so I could have more fun with a new set of hunters, and this time, use the town itself as a new “character” in my story. So, welcome to Dead Horse!
The book will be available solely through Amazon, at first. I want as many folks who want to get it through Kindle Unlimited for FREE as possible. I already have the print version uploaded, too. That link will come soon. In the meantime, meet the first hunter in the series…Cage.
A former SEAL and MMA fighter, and now, newly minted bounty hunter, has to hunt down his first skip…his ex-wife.
Former SEAL Cage Morgan thinks he doesn’t need anyone. As a rising MMA fighter, he makes enough to do what he wants and doesn’t have to answer to anyone.
Then an old friend sends an emissary, Reaper Stenberg from the Montana Bounty Hunters, to offer him a job. He agrees to meet him, but he has no intention of becoming a bounty hunter…until he hears who Reaper needs his special skill set to take down—his ex-wife.
Elaine Morgan is facing jail time due to her chosen line of work. She runs an illegal, underground fight club with her brother. Up until now, she’s always run clean, fair fights, but her brother owes money to the wrong people. As she prepares to the take the rap for his poor judgment, she misses her court date—that’s just one more stressor to add to the pile, and she doesn’t have time to worry about the consequences.
Until the night of the fight that will free her brother of his dangerous debt. Only her ex-husband shows up there, telling her he’s taking her in, and he has the friends with him to get the job done. The hunters’ poor timing sets off a chain of events that has the Montana Bounty Hunters staging a daring rescue.
All the while, Cage and Elaine revisit their past love, finding that the time apart put their problems in a better perspective. As their connection grows, they both fear an uncertain future.
Opening scene from Cage…
As he approached the front door to the Dead Easy Saloon, Cage Morgan flexed his hands, wincing as he did so due to the deep bruising on his knuckles. Still, sore knuckles felt like a small price to pay considering the size of the purse he’d won the previous night at the MMA bout in Bozeman.
Thinking about the $36,000 deposit he’d made at the bank that morning, he wondered why the hell he’d agreed to this meeting in the first place. Cage’s needs were simple, and the purse would pay his bills for the next four to six months until he accepted the next match.
However, he owed Fetch Winter the courtesy of meeting with his representative to talk about the possibility of a job. He didn’t owe him a “yes,” but he had agreed to listen. Fetch had led the unit that had pulled his ass out of a firefight which had killed several of his SEAL teammates back in Afghanistan a lifetime ago.
From the outside, the meeting place was like any other roadhouse bar. Wood plank siding, a tin roof, and a red neon “Open” sign. He climbed the three steps to the porch then opened the door. Music played on a jukebox, customers lined a well-polished counter, and in the rear, the crack of striking balls and groans sounded from the pool tables.
As he passed the bar, the bartender’s gaze narrowed on him, and then a broad smile spread. He lifted his chin to Cage. “Great fight last night.”
Cage lifted his eyebrows and gave him a little salute but didn’t stop. He made his way to a small round table tucked into a corner of the main room and took a seat.
A waitress with dirty blonde hair so straight it had to have been ironed paused beside his table. “What can I get ya, hon?”
Her smile was flirtatious, and while she was kind of cute for a middle-aged woman in a skin-tight tank with the bar’s logo on the front and short blue-jean shorts, he wasn’t interested in encouraging her to linger. “Whatever beer’s on tap will do,” he said and pulled a twenty from his wallet.
She smiled and moved away, her skinny hips wagging.
She was back inside a minute with a foamy beer and handed back his twenty. “Kip, the bartender, says it’s on the house. He won a pile of money last night on your fight.”
He pushed back the twenty. “You keep it then, and thank Kip.”
Just then, a commotion sounded at the entrance of the bar. “Damn, are you Reaper, that dude on TV?” asked a man who was holding onto the arm of a large man wearing a ballcap who was trying to get through the doorway.
Cage watched as the man who looked like he belonged on a Viking longboat shook the man off his arm.
Cage couldn’t make out what he said to the smaller man, but the guy held up his hands and backed away, grinning. As soon as the big man’s attention left him, he scurried to the bar, leaning over the counter to talk to Kip, whose gaze shot to the big man.
He watched the man in the ballcap grimace then step deeper inside the bar, his eyes narrowing as he searched the counter and then the tables. Cage knew the second when his gaze came to rest on Cage, because the other man tipped his chin before striding his way.
As the man approached, Cage assessed him like he always did, sizing him up as a possible opponent in the ring. They were of a similar height and weight. His arms and chest looked powerful. However, Cage could tell by the way the man moved that he wouldn’t have his same speed. Not that he was planning to fight this guy, but old habits died hard.
The big man stopped in front of his table. “You Cage Morgan?”
The man sat and whipped off his cap. “Thought the hat would work.”
Cage’s mouth twitched. “That was supposed to be some kind of disguise?”
The other man made a sound a bear might make just before it took a bite. “Fetch sent me.”
“Said I was to try to schmooze you into taking a job.”
“I’ve been wondering why he isn’t here to do it himself.”
The other man raked a hand through his long blond hair. “I’m here to set up the satellite office. He’d have come, but he said we didn’t need the big guns. That you’d want this job once you heard what it was all about.”
Cage grunted and sat back in his chair. “You’re the guy in that reality TV show.”
Reaper gave him a dead-eyed look. “If I wasn’t makin’ bank, I’d take exception to your tone, dude.”
Cage snapped his fingers. “What’s it called?” He pretended the name escaped him.
“Bounty Hunters of the Northwest,” the other man said, sounding bored.
“Right!” Cage grinned. “I liked the episode when that wild man chased the bear.”
“His name’s Animal.”
Cage chuckled. “Fits.” He picked up his beer and drew on it, not knowing exactly why he was trying to rile the other man. Maybe it was because he viewed him as a competitor, and his instinct was to start the psych-out before a fight. Or maybe it was because he wanted to make sure the man didn’t waste a lot of time trying to convince him to take a damn job he didn’t want. “Can’t remember your name, though,” he lied.
“Reaper. Reaper Stenberg,” the big man said, his words a little garbled like he was grinding his teeth.
“Right,” Cage said. He took another swallow and waited for Reaper to give his pitch, but the waitress sauntered over again.
Her gaze went from Cage to Reaper, and Cage knew what was on her mind. Too bad for her, he knew Reaper was married, and he flat didn’t get into bed with another man, even if their dicks never touched.
“He’ll have the same as I’m having,” Cage said to hurry her away.
She was back inside a minute and set a beer in front of Reaper. He handed her a twenty.
“No, Kip said it’s free. He watches your show,” the woman said, sounding out of breath.
“Keep the tip,” Reaper said than turned his attention back to Cage.
The woman’s mouth tightened, but she moved along to another table.
“Saw you fight in Bozeman last night,” he said, his gaze direct.
Cage curled his fists and grimaced at the throbbing ache. “McMann gave me a run for my money.”
“You fight well. Heard you came to MMA through less than legal fights.”
Cage gave him a hard stare. “That was a long time ago.”
“Three years.” He took a sip of his beer. “Least, that’s what I hear. Bareknuckle stuff’s not for sissies.”
Cage almost smiled at the grudging compliment. “No, it’s not, but it’s hard on the body.”
“We could use someone like you. Fetch says you were a SEAL.”
Cage straightened in his chair. “I was.”
“Marine,” Reaper said, pointing at his chest with his glass.
“Won’t hold it against you.”
Reaper’s mouth twitched. “We’re building an office here. Broke ground last week. We hope to hire on eight to ten hunters to cover southwest Montana and into Wyoming and Idaho.”
“Sounds ambitious. From your TV show, it looks like you guys are sweeping up all the trash. Sure you’re leaving enough work for another agency?” Cage didn’t know why he asked. He still wasn’t interested, but he was curious about what Fetch was hoping to accomplish.
“America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Long as that doesn’t change, we’ll have plenty of bounties to go around. And it’s not just bounties on folks skipping their court dates or mandatory drug testing. We help find prison escapees, pitch in on law enforcement manhunts—anywhere our particular talents are needed. Our Bear Lodge office helped bring in a terrorist who was recruiting anti-government whackos intent on building an army here in Montana.”
“That all sounds fine and dandy for someone who wants to be a bounty hunter. I don’t.”
“Well, Fetch thinks you might change your mind when you hear who we’re hunting. He needs someone with your skills to get close enough to make the takedown.”
Cage narrowed his eyes. “My skills?”
“Your experience in those illegal fight clubs. You’ve got connections that can get you inside.”
Cage shook his head. He hadn’t been a part of that world in years. “Not interested.”
“Ask me who we’re hunting,” Reaper said, his expression neutral, his stare boring into Cage’s.
Cage was curious all right, but he didn’t want to ask. Didn’t want to know. He’d left that world and never looked back. Had the scars and the tattoo, thank you very much.
“Fetch explained how the money works, right? What a hunter gets as a percentage of the bond.”
“He did. And I still told him no.” Hunting people was something he’d done when he’d been in the Navy, and he’d been damn good at it. However, hunting Americans wasn’t something he had the stomach for.
“Ask me,” Reaper said, his voice lowering.
Cage wanted to tell him to go to hell. But he also wanted to know, because the hairs on the back of his neck were rising. Deep inside, he was still that man, the one who always found his target and always took him out. A cool dread washed over him, and he drew a deep breath. “Okay, I’ll bite. Who are you hunting?”
Reaper’s mouth curved. “Your wife.”