Blurb for Ace is Wild
Uprooted from a small Texas town, Florence “Ace” Fox is stashed in a camp for orphans, Weirdness abounds with the director talking of wizards and casting spells. He even claims she’s possessed, and that the entity is sending her power levels off the charts.
Rebel Wizards learn of her strength and decide they can use Ace to their benefit and greed to gain control of The World!! They plot against her.
In danger and on the run, Ace and her friends’ travel through the old west looking for a way to rid her of the entity. They discover that only the leaders of the wizarding world can help, but will she like their solution?
Jail, death, or powerless.
“I’m sure you’ll enjoy living with Saw much better than in town. He’ll keep you busy with activities so you won’t get into trouble,” the wiry old man yelled over the clank of the buckboard wagon, then spat out a dark string of tobacco.
Wrong, everyone will just feel better without me around.
Florence “Ace” Fox shoved back a long wisp of hair hanging around her face. The summer heat baked her clothes onto her body. No cooling breeze touched her skin, and the smell of the horses ahead turned her stomach. She had no desire to find a new home.
Shoot, she’d been perfectly happy, living with the preacher and his wife, but no, the town didn’t like her staying with the young couple. She, after all, had lived with Indians for a few months so she had to be nothing but a heathen.
Her wild, wicked ways would surely turn even the most God-fearing man into a beast so she had to be stashed away in a place where she wouldn’t hurt anyone.
Dad-blame-it, she’d never injured anyone in her life, not that she hadn’t wanted to, yet at five-two, and barely topping a hundred pounds, how could she compete with a man’s strength?
Didn’t matter, the people of Stoneville believed the devil lived inside her, so they were dropping her off in hell.
The parched land dotted with trees foretold a future without many comforts. She spotted a grouping of tents; a large one flanked by two smaller ones. A huge stone fireplace sat to one side of the campsite like it had once graced the inside of a cabin. Now no walls sheltered it.
The depressing sight tugged at Ace’s emotions. She fought the memories of the awful day when her parents had died. Tears blurred her vision and she worked to focus on her current situation.
“Hey, Saw, I have another orphan for ya,” Mr. Harris croaked out, probably because of the tight grip his shirt had on his neck. Every button closed. Not a speck of dirt marred the white stiff fabric or touched his black pants. His face worn with time, his thin hair plastered by sweat to his balding head, he looked to be well over a hundred, yet moved like a man half his age.
Ace scanned the area and caught sight of a big man emerging from the largest tent. Dressed in a faded, flannel shirt and cotton slacks, he appeared to be a farmer. Nevertheless, something about his sharp, eagle glare gave her the impression of a predator, a deadly slayer.
A shiver raced down her spine. She clutched the carpet bag in her lap tighter to her chest. “Are you sure this is a better place for me?”
Mr. Harris ignored the question. Instead, he tugged on the reins, drawing the wagon to a stop next to the mountain of a man. “Stay here, girlie, while I talk to Saw.”
The man beside her hopped off the wagon and tossed the reins on the seat. Every instinct in her body screamed for her to take control and grab the leather straps. If she slapped them against the horses’ rumps, she could be out of sight in no time.
Free with no means to take care of herself.
Dropping her bag to the buckboard’s floor, she turned and jumped over the side. Once on solid ground, she shoved down her skirt and silently wished for a cooling breeze.
Yes, she might have to stay here but she no longer had to mind what Mr. Harris said. The stogy old geezer had started their journey at the crack of dawn, provided her one chance to relieve herself, followed by hours of stone silence. A great traveling partner.
Stretching her legs, she walked to the large wall tent where the two men had disappeared. Their voices filtered through the flap.
“Damn it, Frank. Why can’t you take care of her? Your skills out rank mine.” The stranger’s deep voice almost seemed familiar, although Ace couldn’t recall ever meeting him before.
“Not the point. I have a different objective, which doesn’t include taken care of a tyro.” Mr. Harris’s voice held the same authoritative tone as when he talked to Ace.
“Wrong, you just want her blood on my hands so you can keep yours squeaky clean.”
The comment pierced through her heart. Did Mr. Harris bring her here so this man could kill her?
“Hey,” a masculine voice admonished. At the same time, a hand circled her arm. The strong grip tugged her away from the tent. “You’re not supposed to listen in on other people’s conversation.”
Irked by the interruption, Ace jerked her arm free and turned. The tall, slender boy beside her released his hold. “Even if they’re talking about you?”
“Especially if they’re talking about you, though why they’d want to is beyond me.” His gray eyes scanned her from head to toe. His dark frown revealed his opinion that he found her lacking. A pill bug, it seemed, would incite more interest from him.
Who cares what he thinks?
Shrugging nonchalantly, she sent her gaze over his sandy brown hair, tan face, broad shoulders covered by a blue button-down, cotton shirt to a pair of worn black pants. No shoes graced his feet.
“Payton, unpack the supplies from the back of the wagon.” Again, Mr. Harris issued an order and the boy turned to do his bidding. Why did everyone fall in line with his will?
Mr. Harris stepped through the slit in the tent. A short man, he barely topped her height by a few inches, a gnome really. His beady eyes missed nothing. Most, however, wouldn’t even give him the time of day. Unless of course, he opened his mouth, then like a nightingale his words sang through his victim’s heart, forcing compliance and a deep desire to please.
She’d seen him work his magic on the minister and his wife when he had convinced them to allow him to bring her here. Yet, his charm hadn’t swayed her into believing he had her best interest at heart. No, the man had no love for her. Instead, he had a different agenda he hadn’t bothered to divulge.
Staring past him, she eyed the other man. Tall, his dark brown hair and eyes seemed familiar. His lips parted into a half smirk, and the sight tickled a memory of her father. Pain coursed through her heart, tightening the muscles in her chest. She drew in a breath and glanced away.
Don’t show any weakness, she silently cautioned herself and shoved the beloved image of her father into the far recesses of her mind. No one would ever hold a candle to her father.
After a moment, she refocused. Her gaze swinging between the two men. She had to say she preferred the second man. What had Mr. Harris called him? Saw?
What an odd name.
“All right, Frank, she can stay, but don’t think your habit of dropping off orphans has gone unnoticed.” Saw lifted a brow. A sharp warning reflected in his dark glare. “And remember your promise.”
With a casual shrug, Mr. Harris walked in front of the team of horses. A smile crinkled his worn face. “Nothing I’m sure you can’t handle.”
Saw stepped closer and tilted his head in a brief nod of acknowledgement. “Ace, you best get your stuff.”
She blinked. Only one other person had ever referred to her as “Ace,” her father. Why had this man assigned her the same title?
Without answering, she hurried to the wagon and grabbed the carpet bag where she’d had dropped it moments ago. A change of clothes and a few personal items was all she could claim to own. She didn’t want to lose them.
Mr. Harris climbed onto the bench seat, the buckboard rocking with his weight. He retrieved the reins, then peered back at Saw, and nodded. “Watch your back, Saw. With the War Between the States heating up we need to be extra careful about our activities.”
Not waiting for an answer, he cracked leather against the horse’s rumps. The wagon shot away.
Ace reared back into a solid wall of muscle. Her gaze jumped to the man behind her. “Sorry,” she mumbled, her feet shuffling backwards to add space between them. “I didn’t see you.”
A grin fluttered at the corner of his mouth, then disappeared completely when his attention shifted to a point beyond her right shoulder. “Frank, you cussed old fool, you should have sent along a bigger tent.”
Saw stepped around her and spoke to the two boys carrying a roll of canvas and a cot between them. “Payton, Spike set up the tent on the other side of the girl’s.”
Ace eyed the second boy that had joined the first. Younger, he stood a few inches taller than her, had short blonde hair, and wore wire rim glasses. His clothes were a size too big and he tugged at his breeches, keeping his head down. He didn’t once look in her direction. She charted the course they took to the other side of the tent position to the right of Saw’s.
“They’ll have your tent ready for you to store away your things in a few minutes. Why don’t you step inside my tent so we can talk for a spell?” Saw indicated for her to enter the enclosure he and Mr. Harris had just exited.
Uncertain what they had to discuss, Ace turned. Her stomach rumbled with both hunger and unease. She gripped her bag a little tighter to her chest and stepped through the opening. The rough, cotton material brushed against her shoulder. Her gaze darted to the cot, which stood against one wall. A desk with a folding chair occupied the opposite one. A foot locker hugged the end of the cot and…She studied the fabric stretch out on the ground. Her steps didn’t crinkle or move the material at all. Instead, the cloth flooring stayed stiff beneath her feet.
Saw stepped in behind her and she shuffled out of the way so he could pass. The tent instantly shrank, his large frame filling the space with his powerful presence.
She drew in a breath and forced herself to remain calm. What did he want to say? Did he want to give her a list of rules or tell her she’d die by his hands?
If so, why have the boys in the camp set up her tent?
Not pausing until he had dropped to the surface of the cot, he pointed a long finger at the chair.
She edged forward and perched on the end of the seat. “What…” The word croaked out of her mouth like a frog. She swallowed and tried again, “…do you want to talk about?”
He stared, his eyes regarding at her as if he could see into her soul.
She shifted restlessly against the hard wood slats. “I, uh, didn’t ask to come here. Mr. Harris is the one who insisted I live with you.”
“Do you realize you have a powerful energy field?” Saw spoke as if she hadn’t said a word.
Ace blinked. Her adopted Indian father had told her the same thing many times. A spiritual leader of his tribe, he had a connection to the other worlds in the universe. Few people she’d met outside the Native American community understood energy fields or auras. What should she say? Was this a trick to make her admit she had some type of evil powers? Then he’d feel justified in killing her.
“Yes, people have mentioned that before.” She tucked her bag under her arm readying herself to spring into action should he make any unexpected movement.
“You haven’t though been taught to control your abilities and become a full wizard.” His sentence, more of a statement of fact than a question, didn’t require an answer yet she couldn’t let it go.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. There are no such things as wizards and magic. Those are things for horror stories and fairy tales.” She voiced the opinion of every white person she’d ever met, stifling the truth of what she’d seen during her time with her adopted tribe.
The sound startled her and she leaned back. Her shoulders hit the back of the chair. She stared at the man.
Without trying, she suddenly noticed how energy pulsed around his body. A golden glow captured her immediate attention. The fear she’d harbor against him melted. She drew in a cleansing breath. The man had no desire to do her any harm. In fact he had only her best interest at heart.
How did she know that?
She straightened, easing deeper onto the chair. “You’re a shaman too, aren’t you?”
He grinned and raised an eyebrow of inquiry. “Similar, but not the same. For now, though, why don’t you tell me a little about yourself? Where did you pick up the entity residing within you?”
Ace shook her head, uncertain what the man was talking about. She had no other entity dwelling within her spirit. “I’m sorry. I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”
He nodded. His piercing gaze nailed her, causing goose bumps to pop onto her skin. “All right, then tell me about your family. I believe your father and mother were killed when you were very young?”
The question revealed Mr. Harris had given Saw a brief history of her life thus far. “Yes, and then I lived with—” She paused not wanting to reveal the tribe she had belong to. They were good people and deserved to be left alone. “—a tribe of Indians for a while before I moved in with the minister and his wife.”
“That’s where Frank found you?”
“And you had no desire to come here?”
She eyed him cautiously. If he she said yes, would he take offense? Again, the gold in his aura calmed her fears. Her mind formed a connection to her father. Saw wanted to protect her from others. Why? She didn’t have a clue. “I was happy there and saw no reason to leave.”
“Maybe, but here you are going to learn the power you truly possess.”
Ace frowned. Puzzling bewilderment gnawed at her gut. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
He opened his mouth as if to respond, but the sound of yelling outside his tent had him rising to his feet instead. “Darn it, what now?”
Struck by size of his large frame looming above her, Ace waited for him to exit the tent before she rose and follow him outside.
“I don’t care who he’s talking to. I want to speak to him before this other imp settles in.” A willowy blonde kicked back her hair with a flourish and yanked her arm free of the older of the two boys, then stalked toward Saw.
He met her three steps from the opening. “Tabitha, what seems to be the problem?”
“I’m the oldest girl here. I should have a tent to myself.” Her earlier anger evaporated. In its place, she offered a shy smile and her bright blue eyes begged for understanding. “Why can’t the new girl share a tent with Vicki? I mean…” The girl glanced at Ace, did a quick assessment then dismissed her with a slight wave of her hand. “They look like they’re closer in age, and I really need a place to myself. Just have Vicki move in with her.”
“While you keep the bigger tent for yourself?” A note of amusement sounded in Saw’s voice.
Ace glanced in the direction she’d seen the two boys go earlier. The A-frame tent closest to Saw’s look to be about half the size of his. On the other side stood a new canvas structure, the size cut in half again.
A dark-skin girl stepped out of the middle tent, dressed like a boy in a pair of cotton pants and a button-down shirt. “Let Tabby have the smaller tent, Saw.” Her voice rang with a tang of Cajun flavor. She tossed her thick, braided hair back over her shoulder, her deep-brown eyes drilling a hole through the blonde standing next to Saw. “She’s like living with a viper.”
“Better than living with a lick-spittle?” Anger flashed in Tabby…Tabitha’s eyes before she looked at the adult in the group. “I’m older and need more space to myself than they do.”
Ace wondered about the animosity between the two girls. Dressed completely unalike, did they have anything in common or did everyone here come from different backgrounds? Rich, poor, or somewhere in between.
Saw raised a hand to keep Vicki at bay. Still simmering at the insult, the younger girl held her fists by her side waiting for a chance to dive forward and attack the other girl.
The man spoke with authority to both girls, the underlining tone ringing with how he wouldn’t waiver on the outcome. “Sorry, Tabby, if you want a place to yourself, you’ll have to settle for the smaller space.”
Saw waved a hand at Ace, directing her to step forward. “Okay, Ace, let me introduce you to everyone.”
The boys, who had been hovering nearby, now ventured forward.
Saw pointed to the blonde standing in front of him. “This here is Tabby.”
Ace studied the girl. Dress in a light-blue day dress, she appeared out of place in a camp where everyone lived in tents. No, hair done up in a French knot, expensive shoes, and uppity social graces pointed to the fact the girl was used to living high on the hog. Ace instantly disliked Tabby.
She did a little curtsy and gave Ace a half-hearted smile, a frown quickly followed. “My given name is Tabitha St. John. Saw, here, likes to give everyone shorter names and treats us all as if we’re hellions.” She waved a white, dainty hand as if he lacked any manners.
He ignored her and step back to draw the other girl forward. She shot a glare at Tabby before nodding at Ace in way of greeting. “Vicki, here, is your new tent mate.”
She smiled, her white teeth shining against her cinnamon-colored lips. “Victoria Montague.”
The clever roll of the girl’s name brought a smile to Ace’s face. “Florence Fox.”
Saw waved at the boys. “And those two over there are Payton and Spike.”
The older boy stepped forward and bowed his head. The hem of his pants riding around his ankles, he appeared to be outgrowing his clothes. “Payton Butcher.”
The younger one then followed suit with, “Nice to meet you. I’m Victor Walker, but everyone calls me Spike.”
The boy’s dirty-blond hair glowed with light around his head. His hazel eyes met hers. His glasses dampened the intensity of his gaze. Still a strange sensation shot through Ace. Heat sizzled in her cheeks. She shuffled her feet and dropped her gaze, staring at the ground unable to speak.
No, I can’t get involved with any of these people. Sooner or later, Saw, like everyone else, will ship me off to someplace else.
“Good, now that we’ve all been introduced. Payton and Spike, you both have work to do down at the corral. Tabby, move your stuff out of your old tent while Vicki shows Ace around.” He held out a hand. “I’ll keep your stuff in my tent until you’re through with the tour.”
Ace released her grip on her carpet bag and waited until Saw entered his tent before she turned to Vicki. The other girl stood eye to eye to Ace. “So is there much to see?”
Vicki laughed. “No, but it’s home.”
Thanks for taking the time to read about my adventures,