Eudora “Pea” O’Brien is trying to find her place in the world after losing the last of her family. Her huge heart has her making unscheduled stops on her journey for a stray kitten, a pregnant teenager named Alex, running from an abusive boyfriend, and the charming scoundrel Valentine Bonham, a conman trying to go straight.
But one of the most remarkable—and important—characters she meets is the irascible, formidable Glory, martial arts expert and gun shop owner…but not like any gun shop you ever imagined. I’m pretty sure few if any of them sport lunch box collections or portraits of Amazon heroines.:)
Another place I’d seen on my travels was Farley’s Firearms, a gun shop housed in a portable building in front of a farmhouse along a deserted highway. I never saw inside it, but every time we’d pass it, I’d wonder about it. Somehow or another it burst into my mind when Glory arrived onstage in my oddball brain, and here’s the passage:
Then from around the building emerged an old woman with white hair cascading from beneath a battered bush hat, ancient work pants over what appeared to be combat boots. She wore possibly the rattiest Grateful Dead t-shirt on Planet Earth, a tattoo twining around one bicep and—
I squinted. Pearls? A strand of . . . pearls?
“Shut your mouth, girlie. Flies’ll get in.”
“I, uh—we don’t mean any harm.”
She glanced from me to Val and Alex. “You just snoop on private property because you think it’s your God-given right or something?”
I glared at Val first because, after all, he was the one who encouraged Alex.
The jerk had the gall to chuckle.
The woman frowned at him. “You there—what’s so funny?”
He took one step toward her. The dogs’ growl became a low roar. He paused. “Ma’am, Pea’s right. And please don’t blame her. She didn’t want to stop here.”
“Pea?” She snorted. “Someone’s got a nasty streak, calling you that.”
“You should talk.” I pointed at the dogs. “What did they do to deserve those names?”
One eyebrow arched. “You display your ignorance.” She made me wait, and I started steaming, but she was the one with the shotgun, after all.
“G-E-R-I. F-R-E-K-I.” She spelled them out for me slowly, like I was a first-grader. “They’re Odin’s wolves. You know who Odin is?”
Val and Alex were watching with interest.
I shrugged. Being a big reader can come in handy. “The king of the Norse gods, of course. Any idiot knows that.”
Her brows snapped together.
“Ma’am, we owe you an apology,” Val intervened before I could get us into worse trouble. “We were only trying to get close enough to see what your hours are,” he said. “We’re interested in your merchandise.”
Alex spoke for the first time. “I’m the one who’s interested.”
The old woman frowned. “You, little girl? You’re not even close to legal. Anyway, pistols aren’t cheap.”
“Your sign says Trade.”
“Don’t care what you want to offer, not that I believe you have two nickels to rub together amongst the three of you.”
“But you have to help me,” Alex insisted.
The woman cocked her head. “Why would I?”
Alex approached her. The dogs growled. At a sharp command from the woman, they stopped. Alex leaned close and murmured too softly for me to hear.
The old woman snickered. Cast a quick glance at me and smiled really big. She slung one arm around Alex’s shoulders and led her to the door of the building.
“Hey!” I shouted.
The dogs rumbled.
Things were spiraling out of control fast. I hadn’t bargained for any of this. I ignored them. Stepped forward.
The old woman entered, with Alex close behind.
“Hey, you!” I called.
The woman’s head reappeared. “You’re not only big, you’re noisy. What?”
Sometimes you gotta go along to get along, Sister used to say.
I exhaled loudly. “I want to see, too,” I mumbled.
“What’s that?” But it was hard to hear her over the dogs and Val’s chuckle.
“I will deal with you later, buddy.” I jabbed a finger in his chest.
He only grinned wider. “Ooh, I’m shaking now, Red.”
“Speak up, big girl.”
I wanted to have a hissy, a real conniption fit, but my mad had gotten me in hot water before. No style points for hissies, hon. And the woman, after all, is armed. Okay. All right. “Call off the dogs and let me come in,” I said.
The shotgun was pointed at the ground, and for a second I wondered if I could cross the space between us quick enough to yank it from her.
“Don’t even think about it,” Val ordered. The man was spooky sometimes.
The old woman spoke up. “Your mama should have taught you some manners, girl. What do you say?”
Alex was smirking, Val was staring. Even the dogs seemed to be waiting for the magic word.
I huffed out a breath of pure frustration. “Please,” I relented.
The woman cupped one hand around an ear. “That the best you can do?”
I stifled the urge to scream. Stomped my foot hard enough to send Val back a step.
“Come on, Red. We need to get in there before the kid does something crazy.”
“She’s gone way past that,” I muttered.
“Geri—” the woman said.
Geri’s ears perked. He bared his teeth.
“Prettypleasewithsugaronit,” I shouted. And bared my own.
“Hmmph.” The woman seemed disappointed. “Geri, Freki, down.”
The dogs looked at me as if to make certain I understood that if it were up to them, I’d be toast, then they plopped in the dirt.
“Welcome to Guns ‘N’ Glory.” The woman gestured us inside with a shark’s smile. “I’m Glory.”