Whimsical's Author of the Week is Tara Manderino! Check her out!
About Tara: Always a daydreamer, author Tara Manderino loves to create
stories and situations for the people running around in her head. She first began writing in third grade when she realized she couldn't afford her reading habit.
She writes and is published in a variety of genres and finds that each one is her favorite at the time.
Tara resides in her native town in southwestern Pennsylvania. When she’s not chasing Lydia, the boxer, she’s writing her own stories, or reading, Tara likes to bake, watch old movies, and do a variety of crafts.
Find Tara HERE
And don't miss her book False Notes!
In late summer 1874, Simon Barr, one of the premiere agents of the newly evolving US Secret Service, arrives in the Oklahoma Territory, to meet his partner, Luke Hayden, and begin their investigation of a large scale counterfeiting operation. In town for a short time the Secret Service agents investigate a large scale counterfeiting operation that threatens the US economy, while finding romance along the way.
Simon meets Kirsten Bentzer, who is the niece of one man and the fiancée of another that he comes to suspect are
behind the escapade. His attraction to Kirsten catches him off guard and wars with his sense of duty. Surely, she can’t be innocent, no matter how much he wishes it were so.
“Oh no, off you go,” Simon told him as he pushed against him. “This is my mystery. You were sent here to deal with a bigger one.”
Luke stepped away from the railing, put his hands in the air and chuckled. ”If that’s the way you want it. Remember, the offer for dinner still stands. And if not dinner, lunch. I’ll be waiting at the Grand.”
Only Simon would have picked up the undertone in his friend’s voice, and nodded agreement. It was Luke’s way of telling him that if he didn’t see him at one meal, he would expect him at the next. If he still didn’t see him, he would come looking.
Simon anticipated the youth coming past the hotel at some point. When it hadn’t happened in the next few minutes, Simon resigned himself to the fact that he would simply have to go looking. Then, she made an appearance. It just wasn’t quite the appearance he expected. When he heard loud voices coming clearly from down the street, he turned in that direction, ready to deal with whatever came his way.
In the semi-darkness, he couldn’t make out the figures, but there seemed to be plenty of action behind the saloon doors. He stood on alert, straining to hear the words. Deciding he would have to move closer, he stayed in the shadows of the buildings, and steadily made his way to the voices. No matter how interesting the youth or how much he wanted to pursue that mystery, he couldn’t lose sight of why he was in town—to check on Gregory Weldon and follow the trail of counterfeit money that seemed to surface in Hobart.
“Told you before, you whelp, no matter how much money you bring to the table, it’s not going to be enough. Now, scat.”
“I need that information, Mr. Weldon.”
Simon’s brows snapped together. He knew that husky voice. Great, they were tangled together, the youth and his
number one suspect. The youth’s bravado made Simon break out in a sweat. He, or as he strongly suspected, she, was no match for the man confronting her. Weldon’s voice, if that was who was speaking, was deep and rough, sounding as if it belonged to a much older man.
“I told you I would pay anything for it.” Now Simon’s ears pricked up for an entirely different reason. Those were the words of a desperate person. Perhaps they really were tied together! That’s what he was here to find out. He pushed away any preconceived notion he might have had that the youth was innocent. He knew that neither age nor gender would have anything to do with a person’s acts.
Not a full moment later, there was a scuffle, and then the youth was practically thrust through the saloon doors. He stumbled, but before he could recover his balance, Simon came up behind him from the shadows and covered his mouth, grabbed him by the arm, and dragged him around the side of the building. The youth struggled to gain foothold on the walk.
Definitely a female, Simon thought, grinning to himself. No self respecting boy would fight that way. He locked one of his arms around both of hers, just below her elbows to still her. She still tried to kick him, but with his feet braced wide, she had a difficult time finding a target. “Hold still,” he whispered into her ear when it was close enough. “I’m not going to hurt you.” She slowed her thrashing but still struggled against him. When he made no untoward move, she stilled, looking at him warily from the corner of her eye. He could hardly blame her for that.
“I overheard you out there, and I have some questions.” He spoke softly so that his voice wouldn’t carry. She pulled against him, but he held her easily. “It sounds as if you’re in trouble. Are you?” When she made no response, he gave her a little shake. “Are you?”
Finally, she shrugged her shoulders.
He bit back a grin. Stubborn thing. “Perhaps we can help each other out.”
She stiffened in his arms, then started to thrash about, nearly slipping through his hands. He tightened his grip and
brought her back hard against his chest. “Just listen before you make any decision.” There was no response. “Will you do that much?”
At least he got a very reluctant nod that time.
“Fine. Now, I’m going to remove my hand, but I expect you not to scream. Got it?” Again, a hesitant nod. “Now you can lead me somewhere where we can talk.”
Slowly, he removed his hand and she looked at him warily, but she didn’t scream.
“How do you know I won’t lead you somewhere you can be killed?” her voice whispered in the dark.
Simon lowered his hands. There was always that possibility. “I trust you,” he said. “All I want is to talk, and from something you said, I think you can help me. We can help each other,” he amended at her cautious look.