My new novel, Wild Horses on the Salt, is scheduled for release on June 14, 2020. With that in mind, I thought I’d share an excerpt.
An unfamiliar place.
Becca blinked at the mid-morning sun that streamed through the room. She closed her eyes and opened them again. White painted walls. Thick, unfinished beams crossed the ceiling. Where was she?
She longed for a drink of water and was surprised to see a bottle on the square-topped table beside the bed. She sat up, grimaced at the pain in her side, and hugged the blue-and-white patterned blanket to her chest, noting the string of horse figures that galloped along the edge. She reached for the bottle, popped the top, and gulped.
Then she remembered her aunt making the frantic phone call and paying for the plane ticket. The woman’s tears as she placed a few folded bills in Becca’s hand. The red-eye flight: four and a half hours in the darkened cabin and the rumbling white noise that purred her into a series of uncomfortable dreams. The bleary arrival at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, where a tall man wearing a tan cowboy hat held a piece of cardboard bearing her name in black marker.
She’d been surprised by the chill in the air as she was ushered to the front seat of a pickup. Wasn’t this the desert? The place the TV weather folks always talked about when the temperature hovered near 110 degrees? She shivered, and the man turned up the heat.
Later, under a star-splashed sky, she mounted several steps. The man motioned for her to follow, so she trailed him across a pathway composed of smooth river rock embedded in cement. When they arrived at a small cabin, he removed his hat and held the door open. He smiled, nodded, and disappeared.
Becca studied the now bright room, which boasted an intricately designed Native American rug hugging the hardwood floor. A three-drawer pine dresser topped with a mirror rested between two large windows framed with white curtains. A radiator kicked on. Rebecca eased under the warm covers and quickly fell back to sleep.
A knock on the door.
“There’s still some lunch left. If you’re hungry, you’d better hurry.”
Becca curled into a ball beneath the soft cotton sheets and the horse-adorned bedspread. She didn’t want to move, but then her stomach growled. How long had it been since she’d eaten?
She stretched, and her assorted injuries made her wince. She crawled from beneath the bedding, holding her side, surprised to see that she had fallen asleep in her clothes. Becca eyed the small garment bag that rested unopened on a chair in the corner. She needed to brush her teeth. She eased herself slowly off the bed. The bruises on her hip and shoulder were still fresh and achy. Becca didn’t glance in the mirror as she crossed the room. She’d had a black eye before. Understood the rainbow transformation that would render the area purple, green, then a sickly yellow-brown before the wound would finally disappear from her skin, but not from her soul.
Becca ran her fingers through her hair, then opened the door.
“Hello, Becca.” Gabriella Strand was tall with streaks of gray in her dark hair that was cut short and looped behind her ears. She wore teardrop-shaped turquoise earrings set in silver, a black sweatshirt that boasted a herd of galloping horses, black jeans, and a pair of worn black cowboy boots.
If the woman standing before her was surprised by her appearance, she didn’t show it. Becca turned her bruised eye away. “Ms. Strand.”
Gabriella laughed. “Oh, honey, no one has called me Ms. Strand in a very long time. It’s Gaby. Didn’t your aunt tell you?”
“Yes. I’m sorry. She did…Gaby.”
“No need to be sorry. Now, let’s get you something to eat.”
Later, Becca stared at the empty plate before her. She’d devoured the ham, egg, and cheese scramble, four pieces of thick smoked bacon, a stack of fluffy pancakes smothered in real maple syrup, and a large pot of hot black tea.
Gaby sat and wrapped her large hands around a mug of strong coffee. The older woman gazed at Becca with dark eyes, her face etched with fine lines that indicated a lifetime spent outdoors in the Arizona sun.
Becca didn’t know what to say to this woman who she knew only through stories told by her Aunt Ruthie. The two women had been college roommates, both history majors at Northern Arizona University. After graduation, a continent had come between them, with Ruthie moving back to New Jersey and Gaby remaining in her home state. But the two women never lost contact, had often visited over the years. When it became clear that Becca needed to leave, her aunt had insisted she would be safe with Gaby.
“You don’t have to say anything.” Gaby smiled. “I left some towels in your room. You can shower or take a bath, if you’d like. Then, rest. We’ll talk later.”
All Becca could do was nod.
A woman flees an abusive husband
and finds hope in the wilds of the Arizona desert.
Published by Liaison – A Next Chapter Imprint
Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.
Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.
Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?
Kindle Pre-orders available at:
Paperback Pre-orders will be available soon.
“Ms. Montgomery weaves an intricate parallel tale, portraying the struggles of one woman, and that of a lost wild stallion—both fighting to rise above the cruelty of an unkind world. Her unique writing style, incredible knowledge of her subject matter, combined with her ability to create vivid scenes of the East Valley, and particularly the Tonto National Forest and Salt River area in Arizona, takes the reader on a fascinating (and educational) journey.” —Author Margaret Millmore