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Authors: Jane Toombs

The Bastard

BOOK: The Bastard
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Golden Chances - Book


The Bastard




Jane Toombs


ISBN: 9781927111161



Books We Love Publishing Partners

Greens Drive

T1X 1C2



Copyright 2010 by Jane Toombs

Cover Art 2011 by Michelle Lee


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.


Publisher’s Note:

There are Seven Books in the Golden Chances Saga Join Author Jane Toombs as she takes you back to
at the time of Confederation and then, book by book lose yourself in this dramatic saga about the people Spanish, Anglo, Mexican and Indian who struggled, fought, made mistakes, loved
and survived to build the


The Bastard – Book 1

The Interloper – Book 2

The Dancer – Book 3

The Rebel – Book 4

The Fixer – Book 5

The Deceiver – Book 6

The Wild Card – Book 7


Amazon Exclusive.
.99¢ per title





Chapter One


Diarmid Burwash felt the heat of the fire before he saw the flames stretching their scarlet and gold tentacles toward him. Scarlet and gold, gules and or, heart and lion, and he the
who had no right to any of it.
Not to his father's coat-of-arms, to the family motto, nor even to the name.


Only the fire was his, hot and
, the flames ever reaching for him. If he stared into their shifting colors, he was lost.


but a dream, he told himself, struggling to be free of the invisible bonds holding him fast. He


," his mother's voice chanted in Gaelic from beyond the fire. "Look and you will see. The blood runs true, from him through me to you."


"No!" The cry was only in his head, he
speak. He
, he wouldn't be like
, that Ross-shire seer who died a horrible death a hundred years ago for his true prophecies.


Wake lad! Banish the fire!


Yet slowly, inexorably, his head turned toward the flames. His breath caught in his throat. He saw a valley, a
golden valley
with highlands beyond.
A land of promise, a land beckoning, beckoning.
Waiting for him...


Diarmid woke. He lay rolled in his blankets on the rough wood floor, face toward the dying embers of the night fire, glowing red eyes that winked slyly at him as if to deny they were real embers from a real fire. His mother was dead these six years, he
, thank God, he was thousands of miles from


Not only across the ocean
across all the forests and plains of
where gold lay in the streams like sand. In San Francisco, where a canny lad could earn his way and more by keeping his wits about him and working hard to supply the gold miners.


He sat up, the better to banish the dream and then leaped to his feet when he heard a slight scuffling sound, leather on wood, beyond the door.
From the store.
tough breaking in? He took a step toward the door, listening carefully.




When he heard Miriam's voice, soft and hesitant, he smiled, relaxing. Never again,
told him. He
believed her, she'd liked too well, what he could give her.


Opening the door, he reached for her.


"I shouldn't be here," she whispered as he led her to his jumble of blankets in front of the fire.


bother to answer. Miriam was here and they both knew why.
No point in wasting words or time.
He untied the ribbons fastening her dressing gown at the neck and pushed the gown down over her shoulders.


"Myron will kill me if he ever finds out," she said as the gown slipped to the floor.


"You're no
, you're a grown lass
Diarmid muttered, intent on lifting her nightgown over her head. Miriam, all of thirty, was undeniably homely but the rest of her more than made up for her face. No other lass
bedded had such soft and generous curves.


"But we're not married
she persisted.


Diarmid tensed. He
mean to wed her and she knew it. Even if he wanted to, he
. Myron
might accept him as a partner but
never agree to Diarmid as a brother-in-law. Besides, she was ten years up on him.


The feel of her warm breasts under his hands distracted him and he kissed her instead of speaking, pulling her down onto the blankets and yanking off his trousers.


"I want to tell you--" she began.


"Words can wait.

I who can't."
His hands stroked along her curves, seeking, finding, until she gasped, arching to him, as eager as he for the joining.


He thrust himself into her, intent on his own release. Her moaning cries excited him, 'twas all the better when the lass enjoyed the


He was pulling his pants on again when she spoke. "Diarmid, I'm afraid you'll be angry."


He waited. No need to ask why, there was no stopping a lass who meant to talk.


"I'm--that is, you and me--" Miriam paused,
finished in a rush. "Oh, Diarmid, I'm in the family way."


He sucked in his breath. Damn. Thirty might be old for a lass but not too old to bear a


"Well?" she demanded. "What are we going to do? Myron will raise the roof."


Too true.
Diarmid was who '
fall on. Best he
under this roof when Myron heard. "Lass, you leave everything to me
he temporized. "Above all, don't tell Myron or anyone else just yet."


"But what--?"


I've got to make plans first."


"I just know you're angry with me."


“Why should I be?"
the truth.
No cause to be angry.
He squeezed her shoulders, finding them naked. "Best you get dressed and nip upstairs, 'tis that near to dawn."


When the door closed behind her, Diarmid hastily donned the rest of his clothes and pulled on his boots. Yesterday, when he bought the buckskin horse,
worried lest he'd spent good money on a foolish whim. A man who craved land
afford whims. Now he saw that the buckskin, a rangy, tireless mount, was his ticket to freedom.
always been one to keep things to himself, so neither Myron nor their other partner, Irv Goldman, knew he owned a horse.


As he threw his sparse belongings into a pack and rolled the blankets to fit on the saddle, Diarmid paused. Because of the how and why of his leaving, he could hardly expect Myron and Irv to buy him out, but, by leaving in secret,
be giving up his hard-earned one-third interest in the store.


enough to make a lad wonder if marriage to Miriam would be such a bad bargain.
Myron should simmer down after a few days and begrudgingly accept what had to be. Irv, not
being related
, had no say.


As a widow, Miriam knew about marriage--
work hard at being a good wife. If he married
he'd retain his part interest in the store.
what about the land he must have, the land he'd been putting every extra penny aside for, even to sleeping on the floor in this back room to save money?


stand for any more of that, she'd want her own comfortable place, her own decent furnishings.
All costing money.
She was a city
, straight from
New York
, and she'd insist on staying in
San Francisco
, he was sure.


She was older, no
longer a
sapling to be bent this way or that. The way she meant to live
was already fixed
. Marriage to her would mean giving in to her or enduring endless argument.


Diarmid shook his head and resumed packing.
for him.
Once he left,
be careful to travel far enough so he couldn't be easily tracked. He'd meant to buy land not far from San Francisco but California was a big state, there must be plenty of available land in the southern part, down around the pueblo of Los Angeles. Maybe even the
golden valley
of his dreams. Once he found that, he might not have enough saved to buy it but possess the land he would, one way or the other.


Prising up an end of a floorboard near the hearth, he pulled out the tin box where he hid his money. Now he was ready to saddle the buckskin.


On the first three days of the
south he thought about Miriam only once. '
as though he was leaving her stranded, alone and penniless. Didn't she have a brother
take better care of her than Diarmid Burwash ever would? No matter what
done, Myron
would never disown his sister.


possible I'll never marry, Diarmid thought as his buckskin, Bruce, reached the summit of one of the many hills south of
San Francisco
At least not for many years.


He halted Bruce to gaze at the rolling grasslands beginning to turn green from the winter rains. A few head of cattle dotted the fields to his left. To his right, trees grew in the creases where one hill folded into another. Beyond the higher, wooded hills to his right was the ocean. A red-tailed hawk soared above him, master of the air as he meant one day to be master of the land. His land, owned by him and no one else, never to be lost or
away from him as his father's land in
had been.


Diarmid clenched his fists. Bastard or not,
had a right to that land!
There was no denying he was the spit and image of his father, dark they both were, hair, eyes and coloring.
Little difference that had made after his father died. Malcolm Burwash was scarcely cold in his grave before The McLeod had proclaimed a bastard such as Diarmid had no rights and seized the land for himself. When fourteen-year-old Diarmid tried to fight The
armed men, they'd knocked him senseless and fired the cottage. Watching all their belongings go up in flames had killed his mother.


Diarmid Malcolm Burwash was the only survivor. A thin smile twisted his lips. Survive he would until the time came to meet The McLeod in hell and settle the score. In the meantime,
find his own land.


The sudden, swift descent of the hawk caught his attention. He watched as the bird, claws extended, dropped from the sky, plucked a quail from the grass no more than five yards away, and rose rapidly, prey clutched in his talons.


An omen, Diarmid told himself.
succeed like the hawk, quickly, effortlessly.


The shout came from the slope directly below him where, Diarmid saw now,
a horseman
waited. A
dressed in black and sporting silver on his saddle.


The hawk's strike had promised good
perhaps this rider was its bearer. If not, Diarmid had his
, his father's knife, and he well knew how to use it.


he'd picked up Spanish in these past few years while delivering supplies to the mines. "
?" he called and urged the buckskin down to meet the


Diarmid soon found that Manuelo Amato, a young man about his age but not as tall or as robustly built, spoke approximately the same amount of English as Diarmid did Spanish. What the
wanted was a traveling companion if Diarmid was on his way south and willing.


"Bandidos, senor
Manuelo told him. "They see one man--" He drew a forefinger across his throat. "Two men is--how you say?--more safe."


"How far do you ride?" Diarmid asked.


"I ride to
San Diego
to visit my betrothed."


Diarmid shrugged.
Why not travel with Manuelo Amato?


seemed harmless and pleasant.
why not to
San Diego
heard of the place, a village south of
Los Angeles
with nothing much to recommend it, by all accounts. Still, coming on Manuelo so soon after the hawk's strike could mean something.
San Diego
was a comfortably long way from
San Francisco

BOOK: The Bastard
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