catfish had nine livesOccupation: Pony Express Rider/Ghost

If I’d known it would be my last ride . . . well, I wouldn’t have gone that way, I s’pose.

The job was a good one, and I sure had needed a job. A wife, a baby, and me being not even twenty years old yet. Not many were hiring the likes of me. But The Pony Express had given me the chance I needed. And I was good at it, really good.

The Express had been lookin’ to hire young men who were skinny or wiry and who could ride a horse real fast-like, and who’d be willing to carry some mail as they rode their horse over stretches of wide open countryside. Easy enough.

Even though the job was pretty much the same thing every day, there were always some surprises on the trail. I’d wait at the station for my turn, for a rider to come in and give me his mochila and the letters that were inside it, slip that mochila over my horse’s saddle and get on out of there. Ten miles wasn’t too far to get to the next station, but those miles sure could be unpredictable. Sometimes animals got in the way, the trail wasn’t ever smooth and worn even, the weather was always doing something different, and we always had to be careful of other people. We didn’t want to run anyone down, but we also didn’t want to be bothered by someone with mean intentions on their mind, and there were some of those kinds, that’s for sure. We had a job to do and it was mostly about getting from one spot to the next spot as quickly as we could. We couldn’t let anything stop us or slow us down.

But that day of my last ride. Well, if I’d only known that I’d never see my family ever again, I’d never ride again, I’d never do anything again, I would have made some different choices. ‘Cause no matter what, it all comes down to choices, doesn’t it?

The Pony Express and my hometown, Broken Rope, were good to me. Real good. Up until that last day, up until the very end. No matter what happened, I’m sure grateful for what they gave me, but I wish I’d made it home.

Find out more about Astin in If Catfish Had Nine Lives, the fourth book in the “Country Cooking School” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is If Fried Chicken Could Fly.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on August 15 for the chance to win a print copy of IF CATFISH HAD NINE LIVES. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only, unless specified.

Meet the author
Paige Shelton lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her family. When she’s not working on a book she can be found either reading or looking for something good to watch on T.V. You can find more information about her and her four mystery series on her website,

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