HOME BEFORE SUNDOWN
George Pettigrew and his papa must leave the California rancho they'd lived on since his birth. They end up in New York City, where Papa marries and George gets a new beloved mama. George also meets Frank and Bart who become fast friends, and in Bart's case, even more.
The start of the Civil War leaves George the man of the family, but although he's found a job, it's difficult to pay the ever-increasing rent. Then Papa dies at Appomattox and Mama falls ill.
After Mama dies, her father takes George's siblings. When George learns his younger sister is being abused, he rescues the three children. But will dressing his sisters as boys and himself as a woman be enough of a disguise to keep them safe until they can reach the valley he's dreamed of? Will Bart leave behind his own family and go with the man he loves?
For some reason, Sunrise began to shift, her ears going forward before flattening. She was nervous, but why? Could the new shoe be bothering her? George kicked free of the stirrups, swung a leg over Nightfall's neck and slid down the gelding's side. He caught up Sunrise's reins and rubbed and patted her muzzle. "What's wrong, girl?"
"That's a mighty fine mare you got there, boy."
George jumped and whirled around. A man dressed in canvas trousers tucked into worn boots, and a shirt streaked with sweat stood there grinning at him. He carried a pistol in his waistband, and a stained hat sat on his straw-like hair. His eyes-George swallowed and barely kept himself from shivering. Those eyes were small and cruel-looking.
"You interested in trading her?" The man looked him up and down, and George tightened his grip on Sunrise's reins and stepped back.
"No, sir." He'd seen that look once before, just before a man tried to grab him. Papa had shot the man.
"No, sir. So polite." The man chuckled but kept staring at him, and George became even more nervous. "Are you just as polite begging?"
"I don't understand."
"Don't matter. I heard you talk Mex to that shit shoveler. You're Don Jorge's kid, aincha? I been tracking you a good while."
"I don't know what you're talking about. I don't know any Don Jorge." George felt sick, and he swallowed the bile that rose in his throat. He'd gotten too cocky, and now this man was going to try to take him away from Papa.
"It's a shame your grandpa's got so much money." The man licked his lips. "I'd have liked to keep you and have a taste of a sweet little boy like you. Well, maybe after I get you to your grandpa. He promised me a job on his rancho if I found you, and it looks like I have, so I'm gonna be around you a lot."
"You can call for your pa all you want, boy. He ain't here, but I am. I'm gonna shoot your pa. And then I'm gonna take you back to California and get me a heap of cash money."
George swallowed again and kept backing away.
"Hold still, boy. You ain't going nowhere."
George ducked and covered his head with his arms, and the man laughed.
"You a-scared of me?" He looked down at his big fists. "I reckon your pa trained you up right. I'm gonna enjoy-"
George wondered if the man heard the hammer being cocked or the shot that scattered his brains all over the stall's wall.
"Papa!" He scrambled to his feet and ran to his father, who scooped George into his arms.
"Are you okay, son?"
George nodded and tucked his head under Papa's chin. He'd seen death before, and that wasn't what bothered him. "He… he wanted to take me back to Grandpapa. I'm sorry, he must have heard me call Mr. Ike señor."
"It's all right. We'll just have to be more careful in the future." Papa stroked his hair and his back, which made George feel better until he realized Papa was shaking as much as he was.
"Who is he?"
"I don't know-some saddle tramp Don Jorge hired, I suppose. We'd better get out of here."
"Can we go back to the valley?"
"No. They'll come after me for shooting that bas-man."
"Will they send you to prison?"
"No, they'll figure he just needed killing, but a trial might rouse interest, and Don Jorge would send more men this way."
George felt his eyes well with tears. "I'm sorry, Papa. This is all my fault."
"It's not, and I don't want to hear you talking like that again. If it's anyone's fault it's your grandfather's for sending someone like this-" Papa nudged the man's boot with his toe. "-to get you." He gathered up George and threw him up onto Nightfall's new saddle. "Now pay attention to what I'm telling you. I've got the title to that land." He took the money belt from under his shirt and opened it, showing George the paper. "The valley will always be ours. Now. We're going to head on east, and maybe someday a few years from now, we'll be able to come back. How's Sunrise?"
"Mr. Ike said her foot's fine." George worked his boots into the stirrups and caught up the reins. "He replaced the shoe. He also said the coin was enough."
"Then there's nothing keeping us here. It's a good thing I got the supplies." Papa mounted Sunrise. "Let's go." He rode out first, watching to see if anyone came running, but oddly enough, no one seemed to have heard the gunshot. Or if they had, they hadn't been curious enough to investigate.
Sancho Panza stood outside the stable, waiting for them. Papa grabbed the mule's lead and glanced around a final time.
"The ladies are going on a picnic," George told him. "Maybe that's where everyone is?"
"Maybe, son. Wherever they are, Ike is sure to be back sooner than I'd like. We'd better not dawdle." He kicked Sunrise into a canter and George followed him.
And in spite of everything, he enjoyed the feel of his new saddle under him.
Tinnean has been writing since the 3rd grade, where she was inspired to try her hand at epic poetry. Fortunately, that epic poem didn't survive the passage of time; however, her love of writing not only survived but thrived, and in high school she became a member of the magazine staff, where she contributed a number of stories.
It was with the advent of the family's second computer - the first intimidated everyone - that her writing took off, enhanced in part by fanfiction, but mostly by the wonder that is copy and paste.
While involved in fandom, she was nominated for both Rerun and Light My Fire Awards. Now she concentrates on her original characters and has been published by Nazca Plains, Dreamspinner, JMS Books, and Wilde City, as well as being self-published. Recent novels have received honorable mention in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Rainbow Awards, and two of the 2014 submissions were finalists.
A New Yorker at heart, she resides in SW Florida with her husband, two computers, and a Surface 3 named Baby Jane.
Ernest Hemingway's words reflect Tinnean's devotion to her craft: Once writing has become your major vice and greatest pleasure, only death can stop her.
BARNES & NOBLES
If you'd like to sample her earlier works, they can be found at: