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Chanticleer Reviews Somerset Award as manuscript

Finalist 2013

Gold Springs, Montana was recently rocked by the murder of Cole Dennison, owner of Western Mining, the main town employer.  Mr. Dennison was found in his house with his throat cut. The first suspect should have been his recently estranged fiancée, however her incarceration in jail for breaking his jaw rather clears her name.  Sasha Stanton, owner of the Wolf Mountain Horse Company, was released for lack of case with the victim of her anger dead.  More shocking to find though is that the mine Mr. Dennison owned is out of gold.  Miss Stanton who until her father died had been away from town is the sole beneficiary of the will, a complete fluke since Cole had no chance to change it before his death.  Gold Springs being a company town is now owned by Miss Stanton.  In that one fact the town might have a chance at not imploding.  Local Lawyer Ethane Brandt has been helping with Miss Stanton's investigation into the mine's irregularities since the police have been arresting her employees and friends for the crime.  Sheriff Harland Lang would be wise to not antagonize her.  It could only end badly if the State Police are called in.  Corruption rumors have been circulating for some time.


A doctor of business that lectured at Dartmouth being arrested, surely there was something wrong with that picture. Wrong yes, but it was no mistake. She’d certainly broken her fiancée’s jaw right in front of the idiot that was booking her. The flash from the mug shot camera blinded her so she couldn’t even see the man.

“What’s your name, Sasha?” Sheriff Lang asked. The sheriff was rather portly, balding, and didn’t know what to do with her. A few bar fights was all he dealt with on occasion. A woman that broke a man’s jaw wasn’t his normal problem in the tiny jail. Mayberryesque came to mind. Kinbrae County was vast in size, but small in population. Gold Springs was the largest town and it held nearly 75% of the people at 6,500 people.

 “Are you seriously asking me that, Harland? You’ve known me all my life!” Everyone called Sasha Stanton a wolf, maybe it was the green eyes that peered into the soul of anyone that dared stand up to her.


“Alexandre Marie Stanton, also known as Sasha. Have been since my mother called me that when dad gave me a boy’s name and you were drooling after my mother as a teenage boy working for my granddad.”


Her hand clenched in anger at this whole damned fool situation. The family owned more than 700,000 acres of prime Montana real estate there since before there was a state or territory even. They named it after them when more people finally showed up. “2 Old Stanton Road, Johnstown, Stanton County, Montana.”


Sasha just glared at him. He was seriously going to do this, wasn’t he? “27, born March 12, 1981.”

“Eye color green, hair color brown, race Indian. How tall are you?”

Man was an even bigger idiot. “If you’re using that as an identifying feature, I’ll walk right by anyone out looking for an Indian.” She was a quarter Blackfoot, half French, and all Stanton. Far too much Stanton truth be told.

Sheriff Lang was getting annoyed at her. Considering most the people that went through the couple cells weren’t booked, just thrown in until the judge showed up this was getting annoying on her side too. “How tall?”

“6 foot. 6’2” in my boots and I’m not taking them off for you and your deputies to leer at. You can join the modern age and hire a woman if you want me searched. I’d thank you not to put my mug shot up there next to the magazine cover you tacked up on the wall either. Do you want me to sign it?” At 17 she was on the cover of a western magazine calling her Face of the New West. Her father was not happy, it was supposed to be about the ranch. Copies of it were all over the town, when she hadn’t been in 9 years. Not much at any rate.


Sasha closed her eyes. “Owner of the Wolf Mountain Horse Company, 1 Old Stanton Road, Johnstown, Montana, but make sure you get it right when you put it in the paper. Magna cum Laude in international marketing with minors in business administration and advertising at William and Mary College, a master’s degree in international business from the Sorbonne, and a doctorate in entrepreneurship at Cornell. I even have a bachelor’s in Equine Studies that I tested out of in two months. And lecturer at Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College when Ben called about my father killing himself.”

The sheriff looked up from the computer. “Were you really?”

“Are you really Sheriff?”

“Can you stop talking back?” Theo yelled. He was one of the deputies.

It was rather scary at how many people never left town. No one in that office had ever left, they were just elected by their friends and friends’ friends. Actual training for the job — what was that again? “Then stop asking questions you already know the answer to. You were humping my cousin Julie in the back seat of your old Chevy before you dumped her. I think you know the answers, you can save yourself the time.”

“Run her for outstanding warrants Theo. Any identifying marks?” Sheriff Lang asked. “Tattoos?” He asked with far too much twinkle in his eye.

Hell that idiot knew about it. “I don’t have any outstanding warrants. I don’t even have a parking ticket.” Sasha muttered instead.

The sheriff snarled at her. It didn’t work if it was supposed to be threatening. “I didn’t ask you. Show me the tattoo.”

Her heart grew cold, maybe it was the life sized wolf head tattooed on her back that made people think she was a wolf. Too many got the wrong idea about it. There were no teeth bared—the wolf head just sat there, gazing out as if it could see into a person’s soul. It was all black; the only color was the pair of blazing green eyes like hers. Each hair of its fur seemed to quiver as if alive as she breathed. It was a work of art, especially the eyes, but she didn’t want it there. “I’m not stripping for you.”

“I’ll make you if I have to.”

“Oh god.” Theo muttered staring at the computer screen. “Oh god.”

“What we have a little jailbird here lying to us?” The idiot seemed almost happy about it.


The sheriff turned away from her and hurried over. He froze as he looked over Theo’s shoulder. She didn’t need to ask. There was one thing in her police record, not speeding tickets or drunken parties. A rape, she put the bastard in the hospital when she woke up in the middle of it, she put him in jail too. They slowly looked up at her like she was a freak. She hated that look. “If that gets around town I’m suing your department. That’s my past to deal with not yours to gossip about. Maybe I should be the damn sheriff to get some privacy. I already have the right over in Stanton County, have as much experience at it.”

“Empty her pockets and put her in the cell.” Harland muttered.

“You already did that. I had 20 bucks, my keys, and granddad’s knife. Can you just put me in the cell and let me wait my time until Judge Perkins gets here in two days, because he’s out of town at his cabin for the Fourth of July.” Sasha said, and for once they listened.

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