Sparks fly when Chip Cutter, the owner of a vacationing spot for rowdy cowboys, enters Dan Fargo’s Saddling Cowboys store, a retail shop that sells the finest saddles in Stockton County.
As the heat of the Oklahoma summer rises, so does the passion between Chip and Fargo. However, their budding relationship is threatened when fires break out in downtown Blue Coyote. Fargo’s abusive ex-lover Brent Trigger returns, determined to protect Fargo from the arsonist.
Fargo takes a personal interest in the fires and sets out to learn the identity of the arsonist. In the process, he begins to unravel other crimes happening in town. Rowdy gangs and nosy reporters push Fargo to the edge, challenging his sanity. Even when the arsonist is behind bars, Brent Trigger remains at large. Can Fargo and Chip put aside their differences, saddle up, and ride off into life’s wide blue yonder together?
Trigger walked into Saddling Cowboys shortly after ten in the morning.He looks pale and sickly, Fargo thought, raising his head from his ledgers, which consisted of numbers, balances, and monetary growth in the last month. Fargo noticed that the man’s plaid shirt was unbuttoned down to the center of his nicely designed chest. Blond tangles of hair caught his attention. Trigger always had a great looking chest, which Fargo enjoyed placing his head on and using as a pillow when they were a brief couple. Some men were only good as pillows, though, and Blue Coyote residents believed that Brent Trigger just happened to be one of them.
“Howdy,” Trigger said, removed a cowboy hat, held it in his right hand, and sauntered up to Fargo’s counter and ledgers. He carried a rolled newspaper in his other hand. “I hope I’m not bothering you.”
You are, Fargo thought.When haven’t you been a bother? Discreetly he rolled his eyes, wanting to get back to his books, and continue with his day of business.
Trigger placed theBlue Coyote Informer on top of Fargo’s paperwork and said, “You still do your books by hand. You know they have programs on the computer for that.”
Fargo ignored the comments and digested the main story of the local paper: Crime Rises Twenty Percent in Blue Coyote.
“Shocking, isn’t it?” Trigger said, tapping the article. “I don’t know who came up with the stats behind this article, but twenty percent to me seems pretty high.”
The article was written by Frances Tarkin, who was as old as dirt and had spent the last fifty years writing for her family’s newspaper. Tarkin’s work was easy to read, honest, and worthy of following. If there was anyone in Blue Coyote that Fargo wanted to have dinner and conversation with, it was Frances. Her family’s history was over two hundred years old in Oklahoma, some of which was criminal. Tarkin had a handful of interesting tales to share with anyone who would listen to her, some of which she mentioned in the articles that she wrote.
Trigger tapped the newspaper and said, “Young hoodlums are taking over the town; high school dropouts and troublemakers. I imagine they beat on you and have your cash.”
Fargo scanned the article. Frances’ points included: downtown businesses were considered targets; there was minimal police coverage after dark; and Blue Coyote didn't have enough community-funded programs for the younger generation to enjoy, preventing them from debauchery.
Trigger added, “I’m sure drugs are involved. They’re a big issue in this little Midwest town.”
It was the truth, Fargo knew. Meth was everywhere, and marijuana wasn’t too far behind regarding drug use in the downtown and surrounding areas. No longer was Blue Coyote a safe and livable community with Christian values. Drugs ruled and young adults were raising hell left and right. No wonder Fargo was mugged.
“You keep that,” Trigger said, pointing at the newspaper. “I have my own copy. I just wanted you to know what we’re both up against in this town. Everything’s going to hell in a hand basket.”
Fargo left out of huff of laughter, realizing that Trigger actually had said something important. He looked up from the paper and said, “Thanks. I appreciate this.”
Trigger nodded. “You’re a good guy, Dan. I should have treated you better when we were together.”
It was an odd comment and Fargo wondered if Trigger knew about his fresh romance with Chip Cutter. He was pretty sure that his ex did because Blue Coyote thrived off community gossip, which no one was protected from. Trigger was a shit, but he wasn’t stupid. Besides, Blue Coyote was a small town and its residents knew everything about each other.
“By the way, I have that list of enemies you wanted from me.” Fargo reached into a red leather journal at his cash register area and pulled out a sheet of yellow-lined paper that had ripped off a legal pad. On it were three names.
Trigger read the list out loud, “Jake Muslanski. Tiff Snare. Weston Ford.”
“Jake wanted a refund for me on a saddle, which I didn’t give him because I thought he was ripping me off. Tiffany ‘Tiff’ Snare is pissed off at me because I won’t go on a date with her. She stops in here quite often to call me horrible names, taunting me.”
“And what about Weston Ford?”
“I think you know him. He’s a rodeo champion from Nebraska.”
Trigger shook his head. “Never heard of him.”
“He borrowed a saddle from me and never returned it. I sued him, won, and he’s pissed off because he’s an asshole and I got the law to help me get my saddle back from him.”
“Was the saddle in one piece?”
“Surprisingly, it was. I sold it used to another country boy. A young guy from Chestcher.”