One More Night

The Horton Auction Series #2

by Rhonda Strehlow

If love can transcend time then perhaps hate can, too.

While preparing an old saloon for auction, Honor Horton meets Jonas and Ruby... and Captain Davis, a love triangle that played out, unhappily, more than one hundred years ago.

When a lover from Honor’s past returns those complicated emotions mix with that of the long dead characters. The resulting chaos makes everyone wonder if there is a chance for a happy ending.




Every building has a story. Don’t tell me that you haven’t experienced it at one time or another. Footsteps in an empty house. Doors opening and closing. That watched feeling. Some stories just can’t wait to be told.

My name is Honor Horton and I’m an auctioneer. In my profession, I have the opportunity to get to know all sorts of people and visit many remarkable buildings. And those places talk to me. That’s the best way I can explain it. It’s a bit like watching excerpts from a movie, except that I can feel the emotions of the people I observe.

Today, Miss Hattie and I walk through the upstairs of her one hundred and twenty-year-old tavern, The Last Chance Saloon. We’re supposed to talk about her upcoming auction. But we get sidetracked. Behind each door is a memory that Miss Hattie is eager to share.


I’m at the top of the stairs and turn when I hear the voice. A middle-aged man sits at a scarred table. He’s dressed roughly, in a homespun shirt and worn jeans. In his left hand, he has a bottle of liquor. More importantly, clutched in the other hand is a large pistol.

I freeze. Miss Hattie continues moving down the hall and telling her stories.

“Cap’n. Why’d you do it? Why’d you take her? I’ve always loved her.” The words are slurred.

I open my mouth to call out to Miss Hattie, but before I can form any words, he shoots.

I duck.

He disappears.

“Honor!” Miss Hattie shakes my arm.

“A man at the bottom of the stairs just shot at me.”

“Grandpa Jonas.” She nods, momentarily stopping her tour to offer an explanation. “He’s a regular visitor. I feel his presence. He was a kind man, except where the Captain and Ruby, his wife, were concerned. Nobody dared mentioned the Captain’s name in his presence.”

The gun sounded real enough, and close enough, that I’m still shaking.

“I’ll tell you his story later. We don’t have much time, so right now I want to show you around.”

The walls in the first bedroom are covered in old-fashioned cabbage rose wallpaper. Twin oak beds with tall headboards covered in matching log cabin quilts and a dresser are lined up against the far wall. A beautiful floor mirror stands near the middle of the room and in one corner is a bird’s eye maple armoire.

I have a hard time bringing myself back to the present. But, Miss Hattie isn’t aware of my distress. She continues her tour.

“My daddy made all of the furniture in here for us girls. My four sisters and I slept in here, two or three to a bed. Of course, back then, there was no heat upstairs. On really cold winter nights we would all pile into one bed and sleep sideways.” She smiles at the memory.

“And this room here is where the hired help slept. I fell in love with one of the bartenders, Ivan Crispin, when I was about thirteen. He had to be all of sixteen. Mother put a quick end to that. But one day ...” We move on. Miss Hattie’s voice fades away.

In the next room, I see two scruffy looking men in baggy one-piece long underwear. They’re sprawled across the bed. By the smell, it appears they’re sleeping off a drunk. They snore so loudly I check to see if Miss Hattie hears them.

But no, she’s moved on to the next room where a gentleman with slicked back hair, dressed in an old fashioned suit, cleans a gun. He glances up. His eyes are dark and sorrowful but filled with determination. While I know he can’t see me, I shiver, and quickly move on.

In the third room, Miss Hattie and I linger. The room is bigger than the others we’ve seen so far. In the corner stands a small Christmas tree decorated with strings of popcorn and cranberries. Gathered around the tree is a family. There are slim pickings this Christmas. Seven oranges, two handmade dolls, a small bowl of hard candy, an apron, an axe handle, a spool of ribbon, and four lengths of material are spread out under the tree. Two of the older girls argue good naturedly over the pink sprigged muslin. A blonde haired beauty of about seven years old sneaks candy.

“I can see you, Selma. No more candy before dinner,” Momma says as she rocks a wide-eyed little girl sucking her thumb.

“Are we having turkey, momma?” Selma asks.

“Not this year, darling. We’re having ham hocks and sauerkraut, biscuits, fresh butter and blueberry pie.” The littlest girl claps her hands.

“Henrietta, sweetie, just about everything makes you happy, doesn’t it?” Momma cuddles the little girl who buries her head into the crook of her mother’s neck.

The dark haired father carefully lays a few sticks of wood in the fireplace and then pulls his chair up to the hearth. He picks up a well-worn Bible. The girls scramble to sit next to him.

“Hattie, do you want to sit by us?” The little girl drags her blue blanket behind her to sit at her father’s feet. He rests his hand on her messy curls, leans back, and in a deep baritone, recites the Christmas story, “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about...”

One More Night by Rhonda Strehlow


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