I don’t own them “ sigh” I’m just taking them out on a midnight ride since CBS put them to pasture all those years ago.
The original characters belong to CBS, any others are of my creation only.
This story is by no means canon. Johnny doesn’t know he’s a Lancer and Murdoch doesn’t know Johnny Madrid is his missing son.
This story has an R rating due to some language, but nothing drastic once in a while.
Word count: 52,990
“ You got everything you need Miss Teresa?” Wade asked.
“ Yes, we can head home now. Thank you for bringing me to town. I know you didn’t want to and I could have come alone.” Teresa said as she took his hand to climb up in the wagon.
“ No ma’am. Mister Lancer would have my hide if I let you come into town alone.”
“ I know, but sometimes he treats me like I’m still a little girl. I’m a grown lady now.” she stated as they headed out of town.
“ Yes ma’am you are, and I mean no disrespect in saying that.” Wade stated with a smile.
“ Thank you. I never thought that for a second Wade. You have been a true gentleman. Murdoch and Scott should be back from San Francisco in a couple days.” she said with a smile.
Johnny Madrid rode along at an easy pace headed to Morro Coyo. Two weeks ago he had hired his gun out to Wells Fargo guarding a shipment of money. That job had paid him well and when word got out that he was riding shotgun on that payload, the job went off without any problems. It never ceased to amaze him how, unless a gunfighter was needed, they weren’t liked and people wanted nothing to do with them. Now, five hundred dollars in his saddlebags, Johnny could afford some luxury for himself and his horse.
For the past five years he has lived by the gun. Killing only when needed. After his mother passed away when he was only thirteen he was placed in a mission where he received ridicule and abuse from the other children because of his blue eyes. Having a Mexican mother and a gringo father he never knew made him a halfbreed. His mother, Maria, never told him anything about who his father was, except that when he was barely two years old the big rancher threw them out of his house because he had decided he didn’t want a son like him. He had asked her once when six or seven about him and was forbidden to speak of the man ever again. All he had asked was what the mans name was and it had made his mother very angry for this.
Stealing what food he could to survive, hiding where he could, staying away from the missions and other children until one day when sneaking around a small village, Johnny witnessed two men face off in a gunfight and only one was left standing. He seen how the people at that time he thought, respected that man, when he didn’t know it was really fear they had for him. None of the villagers cared about the dead man laying in the street, so Johnny went unseen and took the mans gun and a small pouch of money hanging out of the dead mans vest pocket and crept away.
Every day he practiced drawing and shooting that colt, the same colt that now hung on his hip. He had found a gunsmith in Laredo who knew how to modify it to fit his hand perfectly. That man gave it a hair trigger, filed off the sight and cut away part of the holster, all so his draw would be better and faster. A young kid hell bent on making a name for himself, Johnny Madrid became fast and deadly. People spoke his name out of fear if he rode into their town. He never called a man out, didn’t have to. The way he wore his colt told them what he was, and there was always someone his age or older, sometimes even younger than him, more than eager to try and kill him.
As his reputation grew, so did his price. Having killed well over thirty men in his five years as a gunfighter, Madrid got the reputation he wanted, but with that reputation came a price. Not all men would face him on the street. Some had ambushed him knowing they couldn’t kill him in a fare fight.
The last five years of his life have been both good and bad for him. He’s spent a year in a Mexican prison, and during that time, because of who and what he was, he had been whipped and starved. Something the Mexicans liked to do to a prisoner. They tried to break him, but soon found out it would not be. When let out of that prison, Johnny had told the Mexican Rurales that they hadn’t heard or seen the last of him. And they hadn’t. He hired his gun out, sometimes just for food for him or his horse helping the villagers stand up against them. Now because of that, he had a bounty on his head in Mexico of a thousand dollars dead or alive, so he decided to leave the only land he knew and come across the border at Yuma and try his luck out with the gringos hiring his gun out.
The man who was the fastest and best, got the highest pay and Johnny cut into that real fast with his reputation. Staying just on the edge of breaking the law, several times he had been called out and gunned a man down right in front of the law and they could do no more than run him out of their town after. Many whores have been pleased by his strong healthy appetite for sex. Being no slouch in a bed, Johnny always managed to leave them wanting more, something he found himself smiling about a lot, because not only did he now have a dangerous reputation as a gunfighter, he also had one as a lover.
A man can change a lot in five years, and that is exactly what Johnny Madrid has done. At his mothers grave he silently vowed that if he ever, ever found out who his father was, he would make that man pay for throwing him and his mother out of his house. A promise to his dying day he vowed to keep.
Johnny stopped his stallion along a creek and got down, leading the big golden stallion he called Barranca down to the waters edge so he could drink. Removing his canteen he turned to fill it when a bullet slammed into his back dropping him to his knees. Barranca side stepped away from him a little as he fell forward unconscious.
Teresa and Wade rode along making small talk when they both noticed a horse standing riderless just off the road.
“ Oh my Wade look, someone has been shot.” Teresa said as Wade stopped the wagon.
“ Wait Miss Teresa, whoever shot that man could still be around.” Wade said as he grabbed her arm and stopped her.
“ If he’s still alive he needs help.” she said as she climbed down and hurried to the still form laying at the waters edge. She was stopped abruptly though from reaching the man by the stallion.
“ Teresa wait.” Wade yelled as he came around the wagon. “ That horse is not going to let you near his owner.” he said as he moved slowly toward the animal. “ Easy boy, we just want to help him. Take it easy.”
Barranca moved to within a foot of Teresa and stuck his nose out, smelling her hand she held out to him.
“ He’s not going to hurt me Wade.” she said as she stepped slowly toward Johnny, never taking her eyes from the stallion. Kneeling down she could see a red stain spread across his back below his left shoulder.. “ He’s been shot in the back.” she told Wade. “ Come help me turn him over to see if he’s still alive.”
Wade moved cautiously to her side as the stallion came over and reached down and nuzzled his fallen owners head.
Turning him over, Teresa heard a faint moan come from him. “ He’s still alive. Help me get him into the wagon so we can get him home.” she stated as she started to pick Johnny up.
“ Her, I’ll get him, see if that stallion will let you take his reins and secure him to the wagon?” Wade asked as he picked Johnny up and put him over his shoulder.
Teresa reached out slowly and took the reins and was relieved the stallion followed her to the wagon.
“ I tell you, ain’t no man going to go up against that gun of his and walk away.” Murdoch heard a man say as he and his son sat eating lunch in a small cafe.
“ Excuse me, I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. Who are you talking about?”
“ Johnny Madrid, he guarded the strong box from Los Angeles to here. Why he’s the deadliest, fastest gunfighter north and south of the border mister.” a burly man said.
“ I heard tell he’s gunned down over a hundred men, Ain’t nobody faster than Madrid west of the Mississippi that’s for sure.” another man added.
“ He’s a gunfighter, and all gunfighters are killers. I expect what you’ve heard about him is true.” Murdoch added.
“ I know that when a man faces him, looking into those blue eyes of his is the last thing that man ever see’s…Why they are so cold they can turn a man to ice I heard.”
“ Maybe you shouldn’t believe all that you hear.” Scott Lancer added.
“ Oh really? Well I’ll have you know, I heard a marshal down in Nogales once talk about how Madrid gunned down two of the best one time, right in front of him, then went into the saloon and spent time with a whore like he always does after killing a man, and then rode out of town like he didn’t have a care in the world.”
Murdoch stood up. “ Lets go son, we can be back at Lancer by tomorrow evening if we leave now.”
“ Lancer? You Murdoch Lancer from Morro Coyo?” the burly man asked.
“ Yes I am, and this is my son Scott.” Murdoch answered.
“ Well hell, you got the biggest spread in all the San Joaquin valley.”
“ It is, now if you gentlemen will excuse us.”
“Sounds to me those men like to believe gossip.” Scott stated as he went to his horse.
“ I’ve heard nightmare tales about Madrid son. He’s a dangerous man. One I’m glad is not around Morro Coyo. His kind always brings trouble.” Murdoch said as he got on his horse.
“ You think he’s still alive?” Scott asked.
“ Who Madrid?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, our Johnny?” Scott responded.
“ I don’t know son. I know that until I do know for sure that he is dead, I will have the Pinkerton’ keep looking for him. Mexico is a big country and Maria could have taken that boy anywhere down there.”
“ What if this Madrid fellow came across him and…….”
“ If he did, I will hunt him down and kill him for it.” Murdoch said with force as the two started out of town.
“Will he live Sam?” Teresa asked as she wiped sweat from Johnny’ face.
“ I don’t know, he’s lost a lot of blood, the bullet was deep, given he’s young and doesn’t get an infection he has a chance.”
“ All those scars on his back, who could do something like that to another person?”
“ Some of those scars are real recent, in the last year judging by the color of them.” the doctor said as he closed up his bag. “ Keep the wound dry and change the bandage twice a day. Try to keep him still so he doesn’t tear out those stitches. He will be out I expect through the night. Have Maria or someone come help you with him. I’ll come back by tomorrow afternoon and check on him again. Send a hand if you need me before then.”
“ I will. Let me go fix you something to eat and get you some coffee while you finish up here?”
“ Alright, you know Murdoch may not like that you brought this young man home.”
“ I couldn’t just leave him there to die Sam.” she said before leaving the room.
“ Young man, I don’t know who you are, or who shot you, but I sure hope you don’t bring no trouble to these folks.”
Teresa sat with Johnny, keeping a cool cloth on his face and wiping his chest and arms down. She knew Murdoch wouldn’t like her being in a room alone with a man, but considering he was wounded, she figured he was harmless. So far the fever hadn’t gotten to high, something she hoped wouldn’t happen.
Maria walked into the room as the sun started to rise with a tray of food and coffee.
“ Chiquita you should not have stayed with him all night.” she said as she sat the tray down.
“ He needed watched, he can’t hurt me Maria.”
“ The patron will not like having his kind in his house.”
“ His kind?” she asked.
“ He is a man of trouble, he will bring trouble to the hacienda.”
“ We don’t know that Maria…….Someone shot him in the back and I wasn’t about to leave him there to die. If Murdoch and Scott can’t understand that.”
“ You are like your father. He would be proud of the young lady you have become. You eat now and then go get some rest. I will stay with him for a while.”
That afternoon Teresa sat with Johnny again, wiping the sweat from his face and around the exit wound when her arm was suddenly grabbed.
“ Who are you?” Johnny asked.
“ Stop it, you’re hurting my arm. I found you along side the road, you had been shot in the back yesterday.”
Johnny looked around as his eyes started to focus more. “ Where am I?” he asked as a shot of pain wracked his back and he arched up, moaning.
“ Lancer. You need to stay still so you don’t tear the stitches out.”
“ Teresa, Maria said you where up here.” Sam said as he came into the room.
“ He just woke up Sam.” she said.
“ Whe…..where’s my gun?” Johnny asked between breaths.
“ It’s alright, you don’t need it. It’s in the dresser. Just stay still.” Teresa said.
“ I want my gun…….now.”
“ Teresa, let me in there.” Sam asked.
Teresa got up and stepped back.
“ Young man, my name is Sam. I removed a bullet from your back yesterday afternoon.” Sam said as he reached to check the wound.
“ I’m obliged to ya doc, thanks.” Johnny said between breaths as he looked at Teresa.
“ Well lets see how that wound is doing now. I’ll need you to sit up for me. It will be easier than having you lay on your side and we can change the bandage again also.” Sam said.
Johnny bit the inside of his mouth as he sat up with the doctors help. Dizziness and a sick feeling came over him as he leaned forward.
“ Tell me what you are feeling right now?” Sam asked as he started to remove the bandage.
“ I’m fine doc, just get it done.” Johnny said between clenched teeth.
Sam was no fool. He could tell that this young man wasn’t telling him the truth.
“ If the pain is to much I can give you some laudanum to ease it.” he suggested.
“ Nope, don’t need it doc. I’ve had worse than this before as I’m sure you and her have seen.” Johnny answered back glancing a shot at Teresa.
“ Yes, we have seen your scars. I couldn’t help but notice that some of them are not that old.”
“ Yeah well that’s what happens when you’re in a Mexican prison.” Johnny answered.
Teresa covered her mouth at hearing what he said. “ What..what were you in prison for?” she asked.
“ Beating another man.” Johnny told her. “ He beat an old man for no reason….I could have shot him, but beating him was better, let him feel what the old man felt.”
“ Teresa could you get me some hot water please? I want to cleanse the wound good.” Sam asked as he carefully removed the bandage from the back.
Teresa left the room giving Johnny a smile as she opened the door. “ I’ll bring some chicken broth back for you.”
“ She the owners daughter?’ Johnny asked.
“ Not by blood. Teresa’ father was killed when she was a little girl. She is Murdoch’ ward.” Sam stated.
“ She’s pretty.”
“ Yes she is. Teresa will make someone a very good wife in a few years.” Sam added as he took some salve out of his bag. “ The wound is a little red so I’m going to have Teresa put this salve on it when she changes the bandage……Now since we are alone, I want to ask you something.”
“ Ask away doc, can’t say’s I’ll answer you though.”
“ Fair enough……It’s real simple, Do you know who shot you in the back, and why?”
“ I got a lot of enemies and a lot of people who want my reputation and they can only get that if I’m dead. They don’t care how they do it.”
“ Do you have a name?”
“ That’s two questions doc…..Yeah I got a name.” Johnny answered as Teresa walked back into the room. “ It’s Madrid…..Johnny Madrid.”
“ As in the gunfighter Johnny Madrid?”
“ Yeah. You and the pretty lady there saved a gunfighters life. Does that bother you?”
“ No, It does explain the other scars you have.”
“ Yeah my life hasn’t been easy doc.” Johnny told him as he looked at Teresa. “ I’m sorry I hurt you. Is your arm okay?”
“ It’s fine.” she answered as she wet a cloth and rung it out to wipe his forehead. “ So you don’t know who shot you?”
“ Nope…….look I appreciate what you’ve done for me……..I’ll get out of here so you won’t be bothered by me.”
“ You will do no such thing.” Teresa stated firmly.
“ I’m afraid you are in no condition to be riding a horse young man. That bullet was deep and you won’t be able to use that arm for a spell.”
“ Like I said doc, I’ve had worse and survived without a doctors help.”
“ That may be, but as long as you are my patient, you will do as I say and stay put in that bed. I won’t be to happy if you go and tear out those stitches trying to leave here or bleed to death down the road.” Sam said with firmness.
“ There, you can lay back now. Teresa put some of this salve around the wound when you change the bandage twice a day.”
“ Okay. Maria has a pot of coffee on and a slice of cake waiting for you downstairs Sam.” she told him.
“ So how long you gonna keep me here doc?” Johnny asked.
“ In bed?……a week at least. You lost a lot of blood and need to build your strength back up. You go trying to get out of that bed as weak as you are and you’ll end up flat on your face.” Sam stated. “ After that, we’ll see how you are healing and maybe let you up to sit in the chair.”
“ I’m alright doc.” Johnny said as he laid back against the pillows. “ I’m not one for staying tied down in a bed.”
“ Well I’m afraid this time you don’t have a say in it mister Madrid. Sam said a week at least before you can try and get out of bed, so a week is what you are going to do.” Teresa ordered with a smile.
“ Well I have another patient to see on my way back to town so………hog tie him if you have to Teresa.”
“ Oh don’t worry Sam, I’ll keep him in bed until you say he can get up.”
“ Alright, when will Scott and Murdoch be back?” he asked as he closed his bag and headed to the door.
“ They should be back anytime now.” she answered as she sat down on the edge of the bed and picked up the bowl of broth.
“ Mind me young man, and do as Teresa says. She knows what she is doing, you’re in good hands.”
Johnny smiled at the girl and let his eyes wonder down her body. Young, but well figured, he let his eyes rest on her breast.
“ Here, it’s still hot.” she stated as she offered the broth to him.
“ You got any meat around here?” Johnny asked as he took the broth.
“ Yes, but Sam wants you to have broth for a day or two, just to make sure you’re not going to be sick.” she said as she offered him another spoonful.
Johnny noticed a bruise starting on her arm from where he had grabbed it, reaching out with his right arm he gently touched it with his fingers. “ I’m sorry I did that to you. I’m not one for going around and hurting a lady, especially a pretty one who saved my life.” he old her as his eyes again fell to her breast. Her shirt open just enough that when she leaned forward a little he could see more.
Teresa felt a tingle in her stomach as his fingers softly caressed her arm. The longer his fingers touched her, the more the feeling grew and started making other parts of her body feel hot, but not the kind of hot a person would feel from the sun, no this heat she was feeling in places she had never felt before where stirrings that caused her breast to rise, unknowingly as her body responded.
Johnny could tell the effect he was having on the girl by just touching her arm. Always one ready to pleasure a woman, he knew this girl was innocent in every way and what she was feeling inside right now, probably confused her some.. He deliberately let his thumb touch her left breast and seen her breath catch when he did before removing his hand.
“ I bet a pretty girl like you has a lot of gentlemen callers?” Johnny asked as he tried to get more comfortable.
“ I have a few call on me at the church socials.” Teresa said.
“ What about out here?”
“ No, I think they are afraid of Murdoch.”
“Doc said you’re his ward, that your pa died when you were a kid.”
“ He was murdered.” Teresa said as she stood up.
“ Murdered by who?”
“ A man my father fired for stealing.”
“ Sure is good to be home.” Scott said as the two Lancer’ rode under the arch just as the sun started behind the mountains.
“ I expect Teresa will be glad we’re home a day earlier than we said in the wire.” Murdoch stated as they rode into the yard.
“ Mister Lancer, Scott, welcome home.” Wade said as he came to take their horses.
“ It’s good to be home Wade.” Scott said as he dismounted and handed off his horse.
“ Wade, was everything alright here while we where gone?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes sir, all except the man me and Miss Teresa found shot in the back the other day.” he stated as he took Murdoch’ horse.
“ A man shot in the back you say?”
“ Yes sir. Don’t know who he is, not much more than a kid. Miss Teresa has been taking care of him and the doc was out again today to check on him sir.”
“ Thank you Wade…….Scott.” Murdoch said as he headed to the house.
“ Teresa.” he called upon stepping into the foyer.
Teresa came out of the kitchen. “ Murdoch, Scott, your home early.” she said as she went to Murdoch and gave him a hug.
“ Wade says you have a man here who’s been shot in the back.” Murdoch stated as he hugged her.
“ Yes I do, he’s upstairs sleeping.”
Murdoch headed to the stairs.
“ He’s asleep Murdoch.” Teresa stated again as she went to follow them upstairs.
“ Who shot him?” Scott asked.
“ He doesn’t know Scott…he’s not much older than I am……Murdoch please don’t wake him. He lost a lot of blood and Sam want’s him to rest. The bullet was deep and he can’t use his left arm right now.”
Murdoch opened the bedroom door and stepped inside, followed by Scott and Teresa.
Murdoch walked around the bed and looked down at Johnny. Reaching out he touched his forehead.
“ He has a fever.” he stated.
Teresa moved over next to him. “ It keeps coming and going. He told Sam and me that he would leave so he wouldn’t be a bother to us.”
“ What’s his name?” Scott asked.
“ Johnny.” Teresa said, hoping they didn’t ask his last name as she laid a cool cloth on his forehead.
“ Why don’t you two go get cleaned up and I’ll warm the stew I made for lunch up.”
“ How long will he be here?” Murdoch asked as he walked toward the door.
“ Sam said he had to stay in bed at least a week before he would allow him out of bed.” she told him.
Walking down the stairs Murdoch asked what she dreaded.
“ You said his name is Johnny……Johnny what?” he demanded.
“ Johnny Madrid.”
Murdoch stopped dead in his tracks at hearing the name.
“ You mean to tell me that that boy laying up there is Johnny Madrid the gunfighter?”
“ I want that killer out of this house now.” Murdoch demanded.
“ No…….Murdoch I don’t care if he is this gunfighter Johnny Madrid…..he stays…….someone shot him in the back and if I hadn’t helped him he would be dead. If you force him to leave this ranch, he will die. He has a right just like any other man to live. He has done nothing to us to deserve being thrown off this ranch.” Teresa said firmly. “ I mean it Murdoch, Johnny stays.” she in-forced before turning and heading into the kitchen.
“ What now sir?” Scott asked as he looked up the stairs.
“ Right now we are going to get cleaned up, eat some stew and after I am going to sit that girl down and have a long talk with her about that boy upstairs.”
“ And just what are you going to tell her? We know nothing about Madrid, except what we have heard and you know how people can twist things around, especially with a gunfighter.”
“ Don’t you dare stand there and defend that killer, not in my house.” Murdoch bellowed.
“ I’m not defending him sir. I am merely pointing out that until we talk to him tomorrow, we should hold off on passing judgment. Every person deserves to have their say. You taught me that.”
“ You heard those men yesterday about how he gunned down two of the best in Nogales, right in front of the sheriff there.”
“ Yes and I also heard them talking about how Madrid helped Wells Fargo also riding shotgun.”
“ Someone shot that……..that boy in the back. If whoever shot him finds out he is still alive, are you prepared for if they come here to make sure they kill him next time, because I will not risk anyone’s life saving his.”
“ I can’t help but wonder if you would feel the same way about him if he had saved Teresa’ life.”
“ Enough, I call the tune on this ranch, and what I say goes. I want him out of my house as soon as he is able to be moved. He can stay in the bunk house, and that’s is final.” Murdoch said angrily before heading to his room to clean up.
Scott couldn’t help but stand there and wonder how a man he had watched while growing up, show no fear, yet with a person as young as Madrid, he could see that fear in his eyes when told who he was, fear he knew was sourly for the safety of his family only.
Johnny woke up and seen the sun was already shinning. A tray sat on the table next to the bed with broth and a biscuit. Sitting up carefully he swung his legs over the side of the bed, needing to take care of bodily functions he stood up slowly and made his way to the dresser where he assumed his clothes had been put. Opening the top drawer he found his shirt, clean and folded up. Taking it out he tossed it to the bed. Opening the next drawer he found his pants and colt, after tossing the pants to the bed he picked up the colt and slowly walked back to the bed and sat down. Sweat ran down his face as he checked the colt, finding it still loaded he tucked the colt under his pillow and went about getting dressed.
Glad no one had come in a while later Johnny made his way to the door and opened it. Stepping out into the hall with just his socks on his feet he seen there was nobody around. Heading to the stairs he slowly started down them, leaning against the wall for balance. Once at the bottom, he stopped and wiped the sweat from his brow before stepping into the foyer and looking into the grand room. Hearing voice from down the hall and smelling food, Johnny cautiously walked down the hall to what he assumed to be the kitchen.
“ What do you think you are doing?” Teresa demanded as she got up from the table quickly and hurried to Johnny’ side.
Scott and Murdoch stood up and went to help him sit down.
“ Sam told you to stay in bed for at least a week Johnny. You could have fallen down those stairs and tore that wound open.” she scolded.
“ Need to use the outhouse.” Johnny said as he tried to stand up.
“ There’s a bedpan under the bed you could have used.” she told him. “ Scott, could you help him please and then get him back upstairs into bed?”
“ We’ll both help him.” Murdoch said.
“ I can make it, I’m not helpless.” Johnny said.
“ Right now you are boy, so I suggest you start doing as you’re told.” Murdoch demanded.
“ Don’t take orders from no one old man.” Johnny said as he tried to shuck the big mans hand off him.
“ As long as you’re in my house, you will do as you are told.” Murdoch reinforced.
Thirty minutes later Johnny was back in bed after his clothes had been removed.
“ Sam is not going to be happy with you lying to him like you did yesterday.”
“ I didn’t tell him I would stay in bed little lady.”
“ You didn’t tell him you wouldn’t.” Teresa snapped back.
“ Look, I’m not one for having others take care of me. I’ve been doing that most of my life.”
“ Letting someone else help you doesn’t mean you’re weak Johnny…..I just don’t want you tearing those stitches out.
“ Tell you what, you start feeding me real food and I’ll stay put.”
“ Alright.” Teresa said with a smile. “I’ll go fix you a plate of bacon and eggs……Oh Murdoch will want to talk to you.”
“ Which ones Murdoch?” Johnny asked.
“ The big man, the other one is Scott, his son, well one of his sons……..I’ll be right back.”
Murdoch stayed away from Madrid for two days, debating how or if he should even confront the man. Opening the bedroom door he stepped inside and closed it. Looking he seen Madrid was laying on his right side. Not knowing if he was asleep or not he walked over and looked out the window before turning and looking at the gunfighter he couldn’t believe he was in his house being nursed back to health by his ward.
“ You make it a habit of watching someone when they’re trying to sleep old man?” Johnny asked as he rolled over onto his back and tried to sit up.
“ Let me help you.” Murdoch said as he went to help him sit up.
“ Don’t need or want your help.” Johnny retorted.
“ You do if you don’t want to tear out those stitches boy.”
“ I ain’t your boy.” Johnny snapped back.
“ No you’re not, because if you were, I would teach you some manners.” Murdoch answered back flatly.
“ If you think you can, go ahead and try. Others have and well let’s just say they ain’t seeing the light anymore….What do you want?”
“ I want……….I want to know what you are doing here and why?”
“ I’d think that was pretty obvious on me being here and why?”
“ Don’t get smart with me Madrid……Why are you here in Morro Coyo?”
“ Not that it’s any business of yours, but I was on my way back to Yuma when I got bushwhacked. That sweet little lady Teresa is the one who found me and brought me here to your estancia.”
“ Who are you here to kill?”
“ I ain’t here to kill nobody. I only kill those who try to kill me…..I did a job for Wells Fargo, you don’t believe me check with them. I rode shotgun from Yuma up here to Sacramento. I seen you and that fancy one when I was there coming out of the Cattlemen’ Hotel.”
“ So I’m supposed to believe that you where just riding back to Yuma and someone shot you in the back?” Murdoch said. “ Who?”
“ I don’t give a damn if you believe me or not…..as for who……..take your pick of anyone who wants what I have old man.”
“ You call me old man one more time and I will teach you some manners. You said what you have. What, do you have money and they tried to rob you?”
“ Not exactly. I mean yeah I have five hundred dollars I was paid for that job, but no that ain’t it.”
“ Then why?”
“ You really are dumb ain’t ya. You never heard of Johnny Madrid?”
“ Yes I have heard of you, and I must say that what I have heard is not good.”
“ My reputation. I’m the fastest north and south of the border and as long as I’m still alive, them other gunfighters well, they can’t get paid the money I do on a job, so they want me dead and they ain’t particular how they go about doing it.”
“ I guess someone wanting to kill you for your reputation is no worse than you killing a man for money.” Murdoch said as he headed to the door. “ As soon as Sam says you are all healed up. I want you off my land. I don’t need the kind of trouble you’ll bring here.”
“ You know that for a fact do you old man? You know I go out and kill men for money?…….Let me tell you something,I have never killed a man who didn’t try and kill me first. Yeah I hire my gun out to help settle range wars and stop those less fortunate from being pushed around by you big ranchers.”
“ You so much as kill any man on Lancer land and I will have you locked up.” Murdoch said before leaving the room.
Johnny threw back the covers and swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up three days later.
“ Just what do you think you are doing Johnny?’ Teresa demanded as she walked into the room.
“ Damn girl, don’t you believe in knocking?” he vented as he stood there in just his long john bottoms.
“ I shouldn’t have to knock, if someone would do as they are told and promised me and stayed in bed.”
“ I needed to……I have to……” Johnny started, but noticed how the girls eyes where checking his body out. “ Oh yeah Madrid, just ripe for the picking.” he thought.
“ Oh…I’m sorry. It’s just under the bed there.” Teresa said as she walked around and knelt down, pulling the chamber pot out. “ I’ll come back in a few minutes.”
“ You don’t have to leave on my count little lady. That is unless you can’t handle seeing a man.”
Teresa blushed and bowed out of the room without answering him. Once outside the room, she took several deep breaths trying to get her breathing under control. Seeing him standing there in just his long johns brought back feelings she had never felt before deep down in her stomach and below.
“ You can come back in now.” Johnny called as he sat down on the bed, unsure of what to do with the bed pan.
Teresa opened the door back up and could feel the heat starting again in her lower body from just seeing him sitting there on the bed.
“ Um, how are you feeling?” Teresa asked standing at the end of the bed so she couldn’t see his bare chest.
“ I’m doing better than you are.” Johnny said as he stood up and turned toward her. “ In fact, I’d bet you have never seen a man in just his long johns have you?” he asked as he stepped closer.
Teresa let out the breath she had been holding as Johnny stepped over to her.
“ So where’s that old man?” Johnny asked.
“ Mmm….Murdoch is out in the barn with Scott looking at a horse. Why?” she asked as her eyes drifted from his face down to the floor.
Johnny stepped as close as he could and placed his right hand on the side of her face. Gently rubbing her chin with his thumb. He could feel her tremble just from his touch as he let his eyes drop to her breast rising and falling.
“ I……..I should go start dinner now.” Teresa stammered.
“ Do you really want to leave?” Johnny asked as he ran his hand down the side of her breast, hearing her suck in a breath.
“ I…..I should.” she stuttered.
“ You know, I never did thank you for saving my life.” Johnny said softly, knowing what he was doing to the girl.
“ It’s okay, you don’t have to.”
“ Oh I think I do.” Johnny said as he tilted her face up and brought his lips down on hers softly for just a few seconds.
Teresa couldn’t breath as she felt his lips on hers. Standing there after, just looking into his blue eyes.
“ Thank you.” Johnny said finally.
“ I need to go now, Murdoch will be angry if he catches me in here with the door closed.”
“ You came up here for a reason. Care to tell me what it is?” Johnny asked.
“ I came to see if you wanted anything special for dinner.” Teresa answered as she opened the door.
“ You any good at making spicy food?”
“ Yes, Maria is quite good at making stuffed peppers and such. I’ll have her make you some.” she said before leaving the room.
Johnny turned and went back to the bed and laid down, smiling at the effect he had on the girl with just that simple kiss. He knew that if he kept it up, she would give herself to him fully. Something inside him though gave him a different feeling about this girl. A feeling he really couldn’t put a finger on. No woman before had ever made him feel inside like this one was. Having been with more than his fair share of whores this girl was different. He’d been more than eager on more than one occasion to take a young girls innocence and make her a woman. Why was this one affecting him differently. Laying there thinking about this Johnny found his lower regions stirring just from thinking about her and how soft her lips felt on his. Sliding his hand under the blanket to take care of that urge he prayed nobody came into the room, at least for the next few minutes.
One week later Sam came downstairs to the grand room after checking on his impatient patient.
“ So how soon can he ride Sam?” Murdoch asked.
“ Not for another month at least Murdoch. He can get out of bed now and come down stairs, but by no means is he ready to ride.”
“ Does he know yet Sam?” Teresa asked.
“ He does. I told him under no circumstances is he to use that left arm yet. The muscles are still healing.” Sam told them. “ Look Murdoch I know you want him out of your house because of who he is, but I strongly advise against it. That boy up there could damage them muscles to where he will never be able to use that arm correctly.”
“ He is not leaving here until he is healed up.” Teresa stated firmly. “ I mean it Murdoch and Scott.”
“ Me, wait a minute Teresa, I haven’t even spoken to him. I’m not happy about having a gunfighter in this house because I’m concerned for your safety mostly.” Scott shot back in defense.
“ I am perfectly safe around Johnny. He has been a perfect gentleman around me.” she told them as she remembered the kiss and knew that they would both have thrown him out right then, had they found out.
“ Young lady I determine who is allowed to stay in this house. You brought that boy into our home and now because he is here, whoever shot him may come here to finish the job.”
“ Most likely they will.” came a soft voice from behind them.
Murdoch, Scott and Sam turned to the voice.
“ Johnny, you came down those stairs alone.” Teresa stated as she moved over to his side. “ Come sit down on the couch.”
Johnny took her arm and let her help him to the couch. Mainly because he wanted to feel her touch him, however slight it may be.
“ Thanks querido.” Johnny told her softly with a wink only she could see.
Scott walked over to him with Sam.
“ Johnny, I do believe I told you that I wanted someone with you when you come down those stairs.” Sam said with a little firmness.
“ I’m not helpless doc. I was shot in the back, not my legs.” Johnny said back.
“ Young man, I do believe I am the one who possesses the medical license, there for you as my patient will do as I say. If you choose not to, then I will restrict you to that bed upstairs, even if I have to tie you to it until you are healed. Do I make myself clear?”
“ I know my body better than you doc, I don’t like being a burden to anyone.”
“ You are not a burden Johnny.” Teresa added.
“ Can I get you anything?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah, you got any tequila?” Johnny asked.
“ You are not old enough to be drinking tequila young man.” Murdoch stated firmly.
“ Maybe to you, but I been drinking tequila since I was fifteen old man.”
“ I told you not to call me that anymore. You will show respect to others as long as you are in this house. Is that clear?”
“ Oh I hear ya. I have respect for others. I just don’t to those who like to boss me around and tell me what I can and cannot do. No offense doc.”
“ None taken.” Sam said.
“ You see, I’ve pretty much been on my own since my mamma died when I was a child. I’ve been the only one responsible for no one but me. I go where I want, do what I want and I don’t take orders from nobody. If I did I would have stayed in the Army…the Mexican army that is.”
“ May I make a suggestion?” Scott asked.
Johnny looked at him and didn’t answer.
“ We won’t order you around, if you do as you are asked.”
Johnny looked at Teresa then at Scott. “ You got a name?”
“ Yes, it’s Scott.”
“Scott huh, you his kid?”
“ I am hardly a kid, but yes I am his son.”
“ Just the one…….kid?” Johnny asked looking at Murdoch.
“ That would be none of your business how many children I have.”
“ Touchy subject old man?” Johnny asked.
“ Let me tell you something boy. While you are here there are rules that “ You “ will follow. You will not use inappropriate language around the women, especially Teresa here. You will do as you are told…asked. Breakfast is at six and dinner is at seven sharp. If you do not make it at those times, don’t bother. I run a strict house and “ my ” rules will be followed. Do I make myself clear?” Murdoch asked firmly as he stood with his arms crossed, glaring at Madrid.
“ Whatever.” Johnny answered back softly.
“ Well, I have other patients to see. Teresa, I think you are going to have your hands full with this one. Young man, you keep that arm in the sling so you don’t tear those muscles.” Sam stated and ordered as he picked up his bag and headed to the door.
“ I’ll walk you out Sam.” Murdoch said.
“ That’s a right fine looking stallion you have Johnny. Mind if I ask where you got him from?”
“ I didn’t steal him if that’s what you want to know?” Johnny snapped back.
“ No, I was just asking. He looks mustang.”
“ He is. Got him in Mexico, saved his life and me and him have been buddies ever since.”
“ You know we have the finest Capanero De Palomino’s in the San Joaquin running right here on Lancer.”
“ You don’t say? And am I supposed to be impressed with that?”
“ No, I was just saying.”
“ Yeah well Barranca is more horse than anything you got around here.”
“ Well If you will excuse me, I need to go check on a job.”
“ Yeah, you do that rich boy.”
Scott glared at Johnny. What was it about this boy that made him so irritable? “ I’ll see you later Teresa.”
“ Okay Scott.” she answered. “ How about some lemonade Johnny? I made it this morning.”
“ Got anything sweet to go with it?” he asked.
“ Oh I expect I might have a cookie or two in the kitchen. Why don’t you come with me and I’ll introduce you to Maria.”
Johnny stood up and followed her into the kitchen where he found an older Mexican lady pulling bread out of the oven.
“ Maria, this is Johnny. He’s going to be staying with us for a spell.”
Maria turned and looked at Madrid. Making the cross symbol with her hand, Maria turned and walked away from them.
“ Maria, what’s wrong?” Teresa asked.
“ El es el hijo del diablo. El trae la muerte a la patrona.” ( he is the devils child. He brings death to the patron)
“ Maria, that’s an awful thing to say to Johnny. He is my guest and you will not speak to him like that again.”
“Si senora, por favor, perdoname? Soy viejo.” ( Yes senora, please forgive me? I am old)
“ No es la primera vez que he sido llamado mamacita del diablo nino.” ( not the first time I’ve been called the devil’s child) Johnny told her.
Johnny sat in the garden a week later enjoying the sun on his face. What was it about this girl that made him feel that the more time he spent with her he found himself wanting to be near her more and more, except this feeling was different than what he would feel when with a whore. This innocent girl, ripe for the taking, was causing feelings inside he’d never felt before toward a girl.
“ Could be you’re falling in love Madrid?” he asked himself.
“ There you are. Maria said you had come out here. Are you alright?” she asked as she stepped over to him.
“ Yeah, just doing some thinking.” Johnny answered as his breath caught at the sight of her in her tight jeans. “ Where’s that old man and his son?”
“ Murdoch rode over to the Conway ranch to visit with Aggie and I believe Scott is out checking fence in the north pasture. Why?”
“ Just wondering is all. I don’t much care for the old man always watching me like he does.”
“ He doesn’t trust you, but I do.” Teresa said as she sat down next to him. Her leg touching his.
“ You do huh? That could be dangerous querido.”
“ Oh you don’t look very dangerous to me Johnny.”
“ I am.” he answered as he stood up and walked back amongst the roses, more out of sight from others. “ You plant all these roses yourself?”
“ Uh huh. I like to come out here to think or read when it’s nice.” she answered as she walked back to him.
Johnny turned facing her. He’d scoped the garden out and knew that they couldn’t be seen from where they stood.
“ So did you like that kiss I gave you?”
Teresa smiled as she reached up and started fixing the sling cloth around his elbow. “ Maybe.” she said.
“ Maybe huh? What’s that mean, maybe?” Johnny asked as he turned to face her.
“ It means maybe I’d let you kiss me again.” Teresa found herself saying before she could stop the words from coming out.
Johnny didn’t need to be told a second time. Placing his right hand on her chin he lowered his lips to hers, but this time he pressed a little harder and touched her lips with his tongue, just to see what she would do.
Teresa wrapped her arms around his neck and eagerly kissed him back, moaning when his tongue touched her lips.
Johnny broke the kiss off, but didn’t move away as his heart pounded in his chest. Looking into her eyes he seen a sign he knew all to well. Lowing his lips to hers again, he claimed her mouth this time, sliding his tongue inside and moaning as he pulled her into his chest more.
Teresa knew what she was allowing him to do, how he was touching her, where he was touching her, she shouldn’t be allowing, but somehow she just couldn’t stop him. Where all men this possessive of a woman? Was this a normal reaction her body was feeling toward the way he was touching her? Going with her gut feelings, Teresa decided to explore just a little and let her hands come around and slide inside his open shirt, feeling his chest hairs and touching his nipples as her tongue battled with his.
“ Oh damn girl. You sure do know how to get a man all worked up.” Johnny said as he kissed her forehead.
Teresa looked into his blue eyes and smiled. “ Kiss me again Johnny.”
“ Glad to.” he answered before his mouth claimed hers again.
Johnny spent every moment he could with Teresa after what happened in the garden. The more he was around the girl, the more he knew for sure he was falling in love with her. Every chance he could he claimed her mouth and touched forbidden areas of her body, longing for the time when he could have her naked beneath him as he made her his.
“ You think Lancer would let me court you out in the open Teresa?’ Johnny asked one afternoon in the garden.
“ I don’t think so Johnny. I heard him the other night talking with Scott about us and the time we spend together. Maria has told him also.”
“ Told him what?”
“ That we are often in the garden together in the afternoons, like now.”
“ You think he knows something is up between us?”
“ Johnny, what is up between us?” Teresa asked.
“ What do you mean?” Johnny asked.
“ Am I your girl?”Teresa asked.
“ Do you see me with any other girl?”Johnny told her.
“ No, but you’re restricted to the ranch right now too. How do I know that when Sam releases you, you don’t just ride off and break my heart?”
Johnny claimed her mouth with force and hunger for a long moment before pressing his forehead onto hers. “ I’ve never felt this way about any girl before Teresa. I think I’m falling in love with you.”
“ I already am in love with you…….I love how you touch me and kiss me. The way I feel inside when you do……I…I want to lay with you.”
“ I want to lay with you also Teresa. I want to make you mine, to make you a woman, but you know that when Sam says I can ride, he’s going to make me leave here.”
“ I know.” she said softly.
“ Would you leave here with me?………Do you love me enough to do that? Knowing who I am, what I am?”
“ Yes.” she answered back quicker than he expected. “ I don’t want to loose you Johnny. I don’t care about your past…..I care about our future.”
“ Teresa, look at me.” Johnny said.
Teresa looked into his blue eyes.
“ You have to know that at any time, I could be called out and killed. I know there is someone out there faster than I am and I want you to think about that.”
“ I know that Johnny. I’ve thought about that ever since you kissed me that first time here in the garden. I’m willing to take that chance. I’ll cherish every second of every day I have with you.” she told him before she claimed his mouth this time with hunger.
“ Oh querido, I don’t know how much longer I can stand not being able to touch your naked body.” Johnny said as he squeezed her breast gently.
“ I know Murdoch and Scott have a cattlemen’ meeting Saturday. They will be gone all day.”
“ Yeah, so you saying I’ll be here in this big old house all alone with you?”
“ Maria has to go to her sisters, so we will be alone. Why?”
“ Oh I think you know why girlie.” Johnny answered.
“I better get back inside and help her with dinner.” Teresa said before turning to leave.
“ Hey.” Johnny said as he grabbed her arm and pulled her back to him, claiming her mouth again as he ran his hand between her legs.
Teresa moaned and rose her right leg up to his waist as she clung to him, kissing him back with just as much hunger.
“Teresa, me and Scott have that cattlemen’ meeting we have to attend tomorrow, We won’t be back till tomorrow night. Since Maria has to go see her sister. I am going to trust you and you boy to be alone for the day. Cipriano will check in on you periodically, but he will be busy with the hands. BOY if you do anything to harm her in any way…..You will answer to me, understand?”
“ I ain’t your boy, ain’t nobodies boy. I don’t plan on hurting Teresa so relax old man.” Johnny said, knowing what calling him old did.
“ I think Teresa and Johnny will be alright alone for the day sir.” Scott cut in.
Teresa looked at Johnny and smiled. Tomorrow she would feel what it really meant to be a woman. To have a man touch her with no boundaries between them. No restriction of clothes, just flesh on flesh. The thought alone started making her hot and wet.
Johnny smiled at Teresa, he knew what she was thinking and found that tonight would be a very long restless night. If he was able to fall asleep at all thinking about what was to come tomorrow, he would be surprised.
“ I’ll see you tonight sweetheart.” Murdoch said as he gave his ward a hug.
“ Don’t worry about fixing dinner for us, we’ll eat in town.” Scott stated as he went to his horse. “ Johnny.” he said with a tip of his hat before riding off.
“ Mind what I said Madrid.” Murdoch said with force as he mounted his horse and rode away.
Teresa stood there a minute, watching them until they rode under the Lancer arch before turning and walking past Johnny inside.
Johnny turned and followed her inside and closed the door. Standing in the foyer at the bottom of the stairs he reached for her and pulled her to him and claimed her mouth.
“ Wait, Johnny, they could come back. We should wait a while to make sure, beside Cipriano is still here.” Teresa said between breaths.“ What do you want to eat?” she asked.
“ You.” Johnny said as he claimed her mouth.
“ Johnny.” Teresa said between breaths.
“ So Johnny, would you care to play a game of checkers with me?” Scott asked.
Johnny, sitting on the couch with his head down, but watching Teresa sitting across from his sewing, raised his head and looked at him.
“ No, I’d hate to embarrass you to bad in front of your old man.” he said as he stood up. “ Think I’ll get some air.” he said as he winked at Teresa and headed out the french doors onto the veranda.
“ Teresa, did anything happen while we were in town I should know about young lady?”
Teresa looked at him. “ No, me and Johnny just spent the day talking, he read a book and rested, while I did some baking.”
“ I don’t much care for the way he is always around you. He’s not good for you Teresa. I’m going to tell him to stay away from you. He’ll be leaving this ranch within two weeks.”
“ Murdoch, Johnny has done nothing wrong toward me. He hasn’t used inappropriate language around me at all. I like talking to him. You know, maybe if you or Scott would forget about who he is and try and get to know him, you’ll find out Johnny knows a lot of things, especially about horses and cattle.”
“ The only thing he knows how to do is use that gun. I don’t want you hanging around him and that’s final.”
Teresa stood up, anger clearly showing on her face. “ I have a right to talk to him and I will continue to talk to Johnny for as long as he is here.” she said firmly before storming over to the french doors. “ You of all people are the last person I would ever expect to be so judgmental and quick to condemn someone who has done nothing wrong. You know Johnny told me that he believes everyone deserves a second chance, and I believe that also, but you, you have your mind already set against him because of your stubborn Lancer pride.” she finished before storming out the doors.
“ I don’t understand why you don’t like Teresa and Johnny spending time together?” Scott asked.
“ That boy is nothing but bad for her. I don’t want Teresa around him anymore.” Murdoch said as he started to head outside.
“Is it because of him as a gunfighter, or is it some other reason?” Scott demanded.
“ Why are you being so friendly with him all the sudden? Have you forgotten who he is and what he has done?”
“ No sir, I have not forgotten who Johnny Madrid is.” Scott shot back. “ Look, he deserves a second chance just like anyone else.”
“ Not with an innocent girl like Teresa.”
Johnny stood brushing Barranca, unaware that Teresa had come into the barn. “ I got it bad buddy. I’m sure of it now. I am in love with her.” Johnny said as he brushed the stallions face.
Barranca pushed his head into Johnny’ chest and sighed.
“ Yeah, I know buddy. Doc will be releasing me to ride soon. I know that when he does that old man is going to run me off his land, but you know what amigo, I ain’t leaving here without Teresa.”
“ Is that so?” Teresa said as she walked up to them.
Johnny stepped around to Barranca’ left side “ Careful, he don’t really like strangers.”
“ Then why don’t you come out here and answer me?” she asked with a smile.
Johnny tossed the brush into the bin and walked out of the stall. “ Sorry amigo, but the lady can’t be refused.” Johnny said. “ You’re taking a risk coming out here alone.”
“ Am I?”
Johnny stepped over to her and grabbed her gently, pulling her to him. “ I’m tired of hiding my feelings for you.” he said before claiming her mouth hungrily as he walked her backwards to the empty stall across from Barranca.
“ Johnny, we could get caught. Murdoch might come in here, or Scott.” Teresa said between breaths as she clung to him.
“ Right…….now I don’t care querida…….I want to touch you.” Johnny said as he unbuttoned her shirt a little and ran his right hand inside as he delved his tongue around her mouth.
“ Oh Johnny.” she moaned.
“Teresa.” Murdoch called from outside the barn.
Teresa panicked as she buttoned her shirt back up.
“ Go on out to him. He doesn’t know I’m in here with you.” Johnny said, knowing he couldn’t walk out right now with the bulge he had in his tight leather pants.
Teresa walked out of the barn, her face a little flushed. “ What do you want?” she asked a little harshly.
“ I wanted to make sure you are not alone in there with that………Madrid.” Murdoch said. “ I think you need to come back inside the house now.” he ordered.
Teresa glared at him a moment before storming past and inside.
“ Well young man, let me see how you move that arm around. I want you to extend it straight out like this and raise it up as far as you cam. Now I want you to tell me if it pulls on those muscles any.”
Johnny was able to raise his arm about halfway before it started pulling on his back.
“ Okay, now out to your side and do the same thing.” Sam ordered.
Again Johnny could only bring his arm up about halfway.
“ Okay, try reaching your arm behind you.”
Johnny found this he couldn’t do at all. Bending his arm didn’t pull on his back, but any other type of forward or side movement he could only do halfway.
“ Okay, I think I’ve seen enough. You can put your shirt back on now.” Sam said as he reached into his bag and took out some ointment. “ Johnny, I want Teresa or whomever to rub this compound on your back three times a day before you do those stretches you just did. It will help loosen up the muscles and stop the pulling I know you’re feeling in your back.
“ What about riding Sam?” Johnny asked as he buttoned his shirt up.
“ I don’t think you are going to be able to saddle a horse or lift anything very heavy, let alone a saddle until you work those muscles more Johnny.” Sam answered.
“ But what about riding?” Johnny again asked as he tucked his shirt in.
“ You can ride, but I don’t want you lifting anything yet. You need to give it time to heal up.”
“ It’s been a month now doc.”
“ Yes it has and those muscles were damaged pretty good from that bullet. My having to dig so deep to remove it didn’t help.”
Johnny sighed. The thought of old man Lancer running him off now that he could ride was something he didn’t want happening. Not without Teresa with him.”
“ He can ride now, but he has limited movement of that arm. He can only raise it about halfway in any direction and I don’t want him lifting anything yet.” Sam stated. “ Teresa, I gave him some ointment I would like you to rub on his back around the wound three times a day before he does the stretches I showed him to try and loosen those muscles back up.”
“ Okay Sam.” Teresa said.
“ Just a minute young lady.” Murdoch cut in. “ Sam if he can ride, then I want him off Lancer property now.”
“ Perhaps you didn’t hear me Murdoch?……I……”
“ I heard you Sam. I want that boy out of my house and off Lancer property now.”
“ Wait a minute. Am I not a part owner of this ranch?” Scott asked cutting in.
“ Yes, but I call the tune.” Murdoch said flatly.
“ You can call the tune sir, I’m not challenging that. I am however going to challenge you making Johnny leave here when he is not fully healed up.” Scott told him.
“ How much longer then Sam, until he is healed up all the way?”
“ I don’t know. It could take a few days, weeks, months or it may not heal correctly at all. There is no way of knowing.”
“ I may not be a part owner of this ranch Murdoch, but I vote with Scott. Johnny stays here on Lancer for however long it takes his shoulder and back muscles to heal up.” Teresa stated firmly.
Murdoch glared at both his son and ward a minute before storming to the kitchen.
Johnny came down the back stairs to the kitchen Just as Murdoch and Scott were headed out the back door.
“ Teresa since he has again refused to be down here on time for breakfast, he can wait until lunch, if me and Scott are back. If not then I guess he’ll be hungry enough by supper time.” Murdoch stated as he looked at Johnny.
“ Ain’t the first time I’ve went without food old man, won’t be the last I’m sure.” Johnny said back as he went to pour a cup of coffee.
“ Teresa, Why don’t you ask Maria if she would make up some Tamales tonight?” Scott asked, looking at Madrid.
“ Tamales Scott? I thought you hated those?” she asked.
“ I think Johnny here can show me the correct way to eat them. I’m sure he has adequate experience in eating spicy food.”
“ Let’s go son.” Murdoch ordered.
“ So where you headed to fancy Dan?” Johnny asked with a grin.
“ Up to grand creek to check the damn.” Scott answered as he father walked past.
“ He goin’ up there with ya?”
“ No. my father is headed into town to take care of some personal business, he’ll be gone most of the day.”
“ So you won’t be back until tonight then Scott?” Teresa asked.
“ No, I’m afraid I’ll be up there a couple days Teresa.” Scott answered as he kissed her forehead.
“ Why don’t you show Johnny here around the ranch some. It’s a beautiful day for a ride and Sam did say you could ride again.”
“ Yeah, I was thinkin’ maybe I’d do that. Barranca needs to get out and run.” Johnny stated.
“ Well, I’ll see you later.” Scott said before turning to leave.
Teresa watched as Scott and Murdoch rode off as Johnny stepped up behind her and kissed her neck.
“ I was just thinking.. Something I learned when I broke my right arm as a kid down in Mexico.”
“ Yeah, what’s that?”
“ Swimming is good for the muscles. Working them in water is easier. It’s going to be warm today. You wouldn’t happen to know of a secluded swimming hole on Lancer property would you?” Johnny asked as he pulled her back into his chest some.
“ Maria could walk in and catch us Johnny.” Teresa said.
“ You think I care?” he said before claiming her mouth.
Teresa kissed him back. “ I know of a place we can go to about two hours ride northeast of here. The pool is deep and it’s totally secluded from anyone seeing it. My father showed me it before he was killed. Scott doesn’t even know about it.”
“ Yeah, well hell girl. Let’s go.” Johnny said just as Maria walked in from out back.
“ Maria, I’m going to show Johnny around the ranch today. Would you please pack us a nice lunch while I go ask Wade to saddle our horses?”
“ Senora, the patron does not wish you alone with him. I have heard him say so.”
“ I bet you just love telling him what goes on between us when he’s gone too, don’t ya Maria?” Johnny asked.
“ Johnny, why don’t you come with me so Wade can saddle Barranca for you?” Teresa asked.
Johnny glared at Maria a second before walking past her and out of the kitchen.
“ See, I told you nobody can see the pond from up here.” Teresa said as she stopped her horse.
“ So where is it?” Johnny asked as he reined Barranca around so he was facing her.
“ There’s a trail in the brush just ahead. We’ll have to get off and walk the horses down to a clearing where they can graze while we swim.” Teresa told him as she dismounted.
Johnny got down and patted the stallions neck before following her into the brush.
“ There you go amigo.” Johnny said as he patted the stallions neck before walking over to the waters edge next to Teresa. “ I don’t think I’ve seen water so clear before.”
“ It’s spring fed, from under ground my father said. At least he couldn’t find a spring above ground feeding it.” she told him as she started to take her clothes off.
Johnny sat down and started pulling his boots off as he watched her undress. “ So you swimming in your under……..whatever you ladies wear under your clothes, or naked?” Johnny asked.
Teresa smiled at him. “ A lady never swims naked Johnny.” she said as she pulled her shirt off.
Johnny looked and smiled as he could see her firm, plump breast through the white garment. Unbuttoning his shirt he stood up and removed his gun, laying it next to his boots.
“ Want some help?” Teresa asked as she spread a blanket out before she stepped over to him.
“ You can take anything you want off me little lady.” Johnny answered as he pulled his shirt off, reveling his well toned chest muscles and firm arms.
Teresa reached down and started to undo his silver conch belt as Johnny started kissing her neck and face.
Reaching down Johnny undid the concho’s on both sides of his leather pants so they would slip down off his slender hips.
“ Johnny, you sure don’t have much meat on your bones.” Teresa stated as she stepped back just a little as he stepped out of his pants. Her eyes slowly took in every part of him from his head down, stopping at his waist as she found herself wondering just what he looked like totally naked.
“ I have enough where it’s needed.” he said as he reached out and touched her neck with his right hand, letting it slide down to her breast and work his thumb over the left one’s hard nipple.
“ Bet I can see right through this when you’re all wet.” he said more as a statement than question.
“ Only one way you’re gonna find out.” she answered as she stood there enjoying the feelings he was causing in her lower body. Tingling ran from her breast down to her stomach and on down her legs.
“ The view right here is pretty good to me.” Johnny said as he bent his head to kiss her.
Teresa spun around and took of to the waters edge and dove in. “ You gonna stand there all afternoon, or are you coming in?” she asked.
Johnny went to the waters edge and dived in, coming up right in front of her. Wrapping his arms around her waist, he pulled her to him and claimed her mouth with passion as he let his right hand go down between her legs and touch the warm folds he sought.
Teresa bucked and moaned as she relished in the feel from his gentle touch as he tongue delved deep, wanting and tasting, eager for more.
Johnny felt his hardness grow and decided to let her feel it bulging in his long johns. Pulling her into his chest more he moved his hips forward and rubbed his hardness against her.
“ Johnny, stop.” Teresa asked.
Johnny stopped and looked at her. “ What’s wrong?” he asked, afraid he’d went to far.
“ Nothing.” she answered as she pulled her top off and threw it on the bank.
“ You going to take it all of?” Johnny asked with a smile.
“ Only if you do the same.” Teresa responded.
Johnny smiled, kissed her passionately then reached down and removed his long johns.
“ I want to wait until our wedding night, but with you standing here in front of me like this……..I want to take you Teresa. As you can see I want you bad.”
Teresa took his hand and started to the shore, walking up to the blanket she had spread out. Reaching down she pulled her bloomers off and stood there letting Madrid see her body totally now.
Johnny drank all of her naked, beautiful body in as he moved closer. Licking his lips he knew there would be no stopping now. Alone with the late summer sun shining down on their naked bodies, Johnny reached out and pulled her to him claiming her mouth with fierce hunger, moaning as he delved his tongue as deep as he could into the back of her mouth. Slowly he lowered her to the blanket as he lay her on her back. Laying down between her legs, he worked his way down to her breast and began sucking on them eagerly.
Teresa went wild as her body came alive with feelings she had never imagined she would feel.
“ Are you sure about this Teresa? He asked as he looked into her eyes.
Teresa wrapped her legs around him and tried to pull him down to her as she rose up and claimed his mouth hungrily.
“ Yes Johnny, I want you to make me yours.” she practically begged.
Johnny made love to Teresa like he had never done before to any woman he had been with in the saloons and bordello’s. Being with her seemed to be so much different. He couldn’t explain the feelings he was experiencing. How he wanted every moment to last as long as possible. Even though hunger urged him, going slow for her sake, not his, seemed to be the only right thing to do. Especially for the first time of an innocent young girl like Teresa.
“ You okay?” he asked finally able to speak some time later.
“ Yeah, I’m fine.” she answered, even though her lower body muscles screamed.
Johnny started to rub her chin with his thumb. “ It gets better the more we do it you know? After a few times it won’t hurt you no more.” he told her with a smile.
“ Is that so? Well then I guess we better keep doing it huh?” she said as she rolled him over onto his back completely and got on top of him.
Murdoch rode back to the ranch and handed his horse off to Walt before heading inside.
“ Teresa.” he called as he walked to the side board and poured a drink.
“ She is not back yet patron.” Maria said as she entered the room.
“ Not back yet? Where did she go?”
“ She left this morning with Madrid patron. Said she was going to show him around the ranch.” Maria informed him.
Murdoch looked at the clock, it was just after noon.” How long has she been gone?”
“ They left right after senor Scott.”
“ Thank you Maria.”
“ Patron, I should not say, but I think the boy, Madrid, I think he has dishonored young Teresa senor. I watch them, and I seen them kissing in the kitchen this morning. It was a kiss that should be done behind closed doors.”
Murdoch felt his anger rising as his neck got hot and the veins in his forehead showed and throbbed.
“ Thank you Maria. I will handle it. That………Boy……will be leaving this ranch when they get back.”
“ He is a dangerous man patron, please do not get hurt. Maybe you should wait until senor Scott is back?”
“ I can handle Madrid, don’t you worry about that Maria. You just stay in the kitchen when they come back.”
“ Si, I will fix you some lunch.” Maria said as she headed back into the kitchen.
Murdoch poured another drink and slammed it down. His anger building with every second on the clock. His sweet ward, an innocent young girl, ruined by a no good gunfighter who, in his eyes, only cared about getting what he wanted, and that being the girl who had come to be his daughter since her father, his foreman Paul, was murdered all those years ago. Slamming his shot glass down, Murdoch stormed out of the house toward the corrals.
“ Cipriano.” he called.
“ Si patron.” the segundo answered as he walked over to him.
“ Did you or any of the men see which direction Teresa rode out this morning with Madrid?”
“ I did mister Lancer. I saddled their horses. Thy headed northeast, up into the hills. She had saddlebags packed full of food and said they would be back before dark.” Walt told him.
Murdoch knew Paul always took his daughter up in the hills in the northeast part of Lancer. The range up there he found to rocky for the cattle to graze.
“ Thanks Walt. I want to know the minute anyone see’s them riding in.”
“ Si patron.” Cipriano answered.
Johnny opened his eyes and found Teresa still with him, with her eyes closed, facing him. Reaching over he started rubbing his hand over her stomach, silently praying for the day her belly would swell with one thing he had always silently wished for with every woman he had taken to bed. Now, with the girl laying with him in the afternoon sun, he just might get that. Madrid smiled as the woman who stole his heart started to stir.
Teresa stretched and yawned as she rolled onto her back. “ Hi.” she said as she stretched again.
Johnny rolled over onto her, more than ready to take her again.
“ I love you Johnny.” she told him as she wrapped her legs around him as he slid inside her.
Johnny looked down into her eyes. Always able to read a person, what Johnny seen told him the words she just spoke came from her heart. Lowering his mouth to hers, he kissed her gently.
“ I love you too Teresa. I never thought I would be lucky enough to fall in love given who I am, but you girl, you knocked me on my ass. Meeting you is the best thing to ever happen to me.” Johnny responded.
“ Johnny, make love to me again.” she asked
An hour later the two lay in each others arms.
“ I guess we should start back.” Teresa said with a sigh. “ I want to stay here with you forever Johnny.”
“ Yeah.” Johnny answered, noticing the sun in the west. “ The sun will be behind the mountains in about an hour.” he said as he went to stand up.
“ Johnny, can I ask you something personal?” Teresa asked as she got dressed.
“ Yeah.” Johnny answered as he pulled his boots on.
“ What you did to me today. Did you learn that from those women in saloons?” she asked.
Johnny was a little surprised by her question. Standing up, he started tucking in his shirt. “ The older ladies I did. They taught me how to both please myself and please the woman I’m with.” he told her as he fastened his gun around his hip.
Teresa walked up to him. “ I’m glad.” she said before kissing him.
Johnny smiled and claimed her mouth with hunger. The urge getting stronger. “ We need to get going or I’m going to take your clothes off you again girl.” he said with a laugh.
A short time later as the two rode down into an open pasture, riding side by side, hand in hand, Teresa looked at Johnny and smiled.
Johnny took her hand to his mouth and kissed it. “ I love you.”
“ And I love you.” she answered. “ Johnny, do you ever wonder about your father, who he is, where he is?” she asked out of the blue.
Johnny stopped Barranca and let her hand drop from his. “ No, my mother said it was just some man she lay with……..She was a whore and I was raised in whore houses mostly until she died.”
“ You’re not the least bit curious?”
“ Teresa, with who I am, even if I did find him, he wouldn’t want me for his son. I’m a mestizo, not good enough to be called son or…..” he started then looked away.
“ I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“ It’s okay. Come on.” Johnny said as he swallowed the memories and moved Barranca out.
Murdoch sat at his desk trying to go over his books, but having no luck at it with worrying about Teresa out there all day alone with Madrid.
“ Mister Lancer, sir.” Walt said as he came in the french doors.
“ Yes Walt.”
“ They are on the hill riding down now.”
Murdoch stood up and headed to the door. “ Thank you Walt.”
Standing there Murdoch waited as the two rode into the yard.
“ Teresa, you have some explaining to do young lady.”
Teresa got down from her horse. “ All I did was show Johnny around the ranch today.” she said, unable to look him in the eyes.
Johnny went to get down.
“ Hold it right there Madrid.” Murdoch ordered. “ I want you off Lancer property right now.”
Johnny ignored him and got down from Barranca. “ I’ll leave your ranch old man, but not without my things and Teresa.”
“ Teresa is going nowhere with you. Get in the house young lady, right now.”
“ Teresa, if you really meant what you said about loving me, you’ll ride out of here with me right now. Ride out of here and be my wife.”
“ I do love you Johnny, and I will be your wife.” she said to him.
“ Go get what you’ll need then.” Johnny told her. And grab my saddlebags and rifle.” he added.
“ I said she is not leaving here with you.”
“ You really think you can stop her from riding out of here with me old man?” Johnny challenged. “ I made her mine today. We’ve been together all day. You got no say in her no more. Teresa is mine now. She will leave here with me and she will be my wife and the mother of my children.”
“ You sonofabitch.” Murdoch yelled.
Johnny drew his colt and pulled the hammer back. “ If you want to keep on breathing, you’ll let us ride out of here. If not…..I got no problem killing you.” he told the big man as Teresa came back out.
“ If you leave here with him, I will have you hunted down.” Murdoch warned.
“ Murdoch, Johnny is a good person. I’m going to be his wife and the mother of his children. Children I may already be carrying.”
“ Teresa,I didn’t raise you to do something like this. He is no good for you. Please don’t do this.”
“ You don’t know anything about Johnny. He’s a good person, and he cares about me.”
“ He doesn’t care about you. He used you Teresa. He is no good.”
“ Let’s go Teresa.” Johnny ordered as he kept his colt aimed at Murdoch and backed Barranca up.
Scott rode into the Lancer yard the next day and was met by his father. One look told him something had happened. The man was clearly angry.
“ What’s wrong? Has something happened to Johnny?” he asked as he walked toward him.
“ That…he took Teresa out of here at gunpoint.” Murdoch stated angrily.
“ He did what?” Scott asked with a shocked voice.
“ You heard me. I want you to take some men and find them, bring her back home and kill that sonofabitch.” he ordered.
“ I’m not going to kill him sir. I’ll go after them, but I will not kill him.”
“ You’ll do as you’re told.” Murdoch ordered.
“Then why don’t you tell me everything that happened since I left?”
Murdoch told Scott how he had suspected Johnny was up to something with Teresa and how they had rode off together and spent the day doing what they had. How Johnny had pulled a gun and threatened him. What Teresa had said before they rode off.
“ She has not reached her majority yet, I will not allow her to marry that…..that……boy.”
“ Seems to me sir, if they already have been together romantically, there isn’t much more we could do, but allow them to be married, especially if Teresa is with child.”
“ If she is I will deal with that, until then, I want him in jail for raping her.”
“ Wait a minute. You just said they spent the day together and that Teresa willingly left with Johnny. That isn’t rape sir and you know it.”
“ It is if she is under age. Teresa doesn’t know what she wants, she’s to young.”
“ Okay, so which way did they head?”
“ South. I’ve had men tracking them, but they lost their tracks up in Cedar Canyon.”
“ What makes you think I can find them?”
“ Because you know that canyon better than the hands. I want you to find them and bring her back.”
Scott went inside and up to his room to grab some fresh clothes, coming back down a few minutes later.
“ If I do this, I go alone. I don’t need hands with me causing Johnny to get riled. If I can get them to listen to reason, they might come back with me.”
A rider galloping in got both their attention.
“ Mister Lancer, I got an important letter for you sir.”
Murdoch took the letter. “ Thank you.” he said before heading to the house to read it.
“ What is it?” Scott asked as he stood near the french doors.
Murdoch opened the letter. “ It’s from the Pinkerton agent I have searching for my Johnny.” he told him as he started to read the letter.
Morro Coyo, California
Sir I am Pinkerton agent Sam Carter. I have been looking for your son Johnny Lancer, whom you said disappeared as a baby with his mother. I am finally able to tell you I have located your son. It would seem the reason I have been unable to locate him until now is, he has changed his name. I am sorry to inform you, but your son Johnny Lancer goes by the name of Johnny Madrid the gunfighter. I do not know of Madrid’ exact whereabouts, but if you wish me to look for him I will. The last anyone here in Yuma knew, Madrid had taken a job for Wells Fargo guarding a shipment to San Francisco.
“ Oh my god, there’s got to be a mistake.” Murdoch said as he handed the letter to his son.
Scott read the letter twice to make sure he was reading it correctly. “ Johnny Madrid is…….. Johnny Lancer?” he said more than asked.
“ It’s got to be a mistake, there is no way that killer can be my son, no way in hell.” Murdoch roared as he slammed his fist down on his desk.
“ There is only one way to find out.”
“ Find out how?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Johnny’ birthmark, remember?”
“ My god, you’re right son. There is no way another person could have a birthmark like that.”
“ I’ll get them back here and one way or another we will check and see if he has that mark…….But I need to know something….If he is, how are you going to handle it?”
“ Right now I don’t know son, I honestly don’t know. Bring Teresa home, please.”
“ Yes sir.” Scott said as he laid the letter down on the desk and walked outside to his horse.
“ Scott.” Murdoch yelled as he went after his oldest. “ Son, whether it’s true or not, don’t trust him for one second. He’s a killer.”
“ You still going to feel that way if he is your missing son?” Scott asked as he mounted his horse. “ I suggest you think about that, because if Johnny Madrid * is * my brother. I’ll be damned if I will let you run him off this ranch.” Scott added before heading out toward Cedar Canyon.
Johnny opened his eyes and stretched, looking over at the woman, soon to be his wife, peacefully sleeping next to him. Three days the two of them had remained hidden in a small canyon with a small stream and plenty of grass for the horses. Carefully getting up he slipped on his pants and stirred the embers to get the fire going again so he could heat up last nights coffee. After taking care of his bodily needs he walked over and checked on the horses.
“ Hey amigo, how you doing buddy?” he asked as he rubbed the golden stallions face.
Barranca blew into his chest as Johnny scratched his favorite spot behind his left ear. Standing there he glanced back over at Teresa and smiled.
“ I sure am one lucky guy buddy. Got me a woman to love and give me children.”
Barranca placed his head on Johnny’ shoulder and sighed.
“ Yeah I know buddy. It ain’t gonna be just me and you anymore.” he told the stallion as he patted his neck before walking back over and pouring a cup of coffee and sitting down next to Teresa.
Sipping the hot brew he watched the sun come up over the mountains and thought about when they should get married and where they would live. If Teresa wanted to ride the trail for a while or settle down. The only money he had on him right now was the five hundred dollars he’d been paid from Wells Fargo and that sure wasn’t enough to buy land and a home. Not a decent enough one for the two of them to raise children in. Movement caught his attention as Teresa started stirring.
“ Hey sleepyhead.” he said as he reached over and touched her face gently. “ Good morning.”
“ Good morning.” Teresa responded back as she stretched and reveled her bare breast to him. Last night he had made love to her under the stars well into the late night hours.
Johnny smiled as he set his coffee down and leaned over and kissed here. “ Eres tan hermosa. Te amo Teresa.” ( you are so beautiful. I love you Teresa )
Teresa smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck. “ I love you too Johnny Madrid.” she told him as their mouths came together and the fire built as she reached down to undo his pants.
Johnny stood up and removed his pants quickly, Dropping down to his knees he claimed her mouth again with hunger.
Teresa ran her hands up and down his back, feeling what she thought was sweat until Johnny winced a little from the sweat entering the scratches.
“ What’s wrong?” Teresa asked.
“ I think I’m gonna start calling you my Pequeño tigre.” ( little tiger ) Johnny told her as he brushed her hair off her face.
It was then that Teresa noticed blood on her right hand. “ Johnny, what did I do to your back?”
Johnny reluctantly sat up so she could see his back. Four deep scratches ran from his shoulder blades down almost to his waist.
“ Oh my, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Teresa said with tears in her eyes.
“ Hey, don’t querida, it’s okay. You just got lost in the feeling is all.”
“ You just drive me crazy when it happens, I feel like I have no control over my body.” she told him as he looked down.
Johnny placed his right hand under her chin and brought her face up. “ Hey, seeing these tears hurts me way more than a couple scratches.” Johnny told her before pulling her to his chest. “ Querida, we need to talk.”
“ You’re not going to leave me are you?” she asked.
“ Leave you? Teresa I could never leave you……..Girl you stole my heart.” he told her. “ No, it’s about our future together……….I want to buy you a place to live, but I only have about five hundred dollars on me right now.”
“ We don’t have to buy a place just yet Johnny, we could ride to some town and I could get a job in a cafe or maybe in a seamstress shop making and repairing dresses and you could find work at a ranch or whatever.”
“ Teresa, listen to me. The most money I make is with my gun, hiring it out like I did Wells Fargo.” he told her. “ I don’t want to provide for you that way.”
“ So what do you want to do?” she asked.
“ Old man Lancer has a lot of land, and I know ranches that size have line shacks. We’re going to stay in one of those line shacks, right under his nose.”
“ I know of one in south mesa that he hardly ever uses. It’s big and there’s good shelter for the horses.”
“ How often would you say hands go around there?” Johnny asked as he poured them both some coffee.
“ They only go to south mesa in the spring, so we could stay there all winter and nobody would know.”
Johnny handed her a cup of coffee. “ So…….when did you want to become my wife?”
“ We don’t have to get married right away.”
“ I want to ride into Green River and buy you a ring.” Johnny said. “ I want people to know you’re mine.”
“ But if we ride into Green River people will see us and tell Murdoch we’re still here.”
“ I don’t care querida. Let him try and take you from me……I’ll fight to keep you.”
“ And I’ll fight to stay with you Johnny.” she responded as she leaned forward and kissed him as her right hand reached down and started stroking him.
Johnny moaned aloud as he lay down on his back and pulled her on top of him. “ Ride me.” he asked her.
Teresa sat in his thighs as she stroked his shaft hard, raising up when he was fully erect.
Johnny reached down and guided his shaft into her wetness with a thrust as she guided herself downward.
“ Oh querida, I can’t wait till you are carrying our child.” Johnny panted as he released his seed deep inside her.
Scott rode for three days checking every inch of Cedar Canyon, coming up empty handed. Knowing that if he went back to Lancer alone, his father would yell and demand he continue searching for them. Deciding to ride into Green River, even though it was farther than Morro Coyo, Scott wanted a hot bath and a soft bed. Walking into the hotel lobby he paid for a room and requested a hot bath, which he was told would be ready for him by the time he got back from taking care of his horse.
Johnny and Teresa rode into Green River and stopped at the livery and got down from their horses. Barranca smelling the grain, pushed against Johnny’ back.
“ Yeah buddy, I’ll make sure you get a double ration of oats. You earned it.” Johnny said as he led the stallion into the barn.
Two hours later Johnny and Teresa walked downstairs to the dining area to eat dinner. Sitting in a corner Johnny noticed Teresa’ mood suddenly change.
“ What’s wrong querida?” he asked.
“ Scott.” she responded
Scott came down the stairs and entered the dining area, looking around, his eyes stopped on a familiar face in the back corner. Walking over to the table with a smile on his face.
“ Teresa……..Johnny.” he said.
Teresa stood up and gave him a hug. “ Scott, what are you doing here?” she asked.
“ May I sit down? The three of us need to talk, especially me and you….Johnny.”
Johnny pushed the empty chair out with his foot.
“ Look, I’m not here to cause trouble, and I sure don’t want any from you Johnny.”
“ Then I suggest if you’re here to take Teresa from me, you’ll have the kind of trouble you don’t want.”
“ I’m not here to take Teresa from you Johnny.” Scott responded. “ Look, we need to talk and here isn’t the place for what I have to say. I have a room here and would like you to come to my room tonight so we can talk.”
“ Johnny.” Teresa said as she took his hand in hers.
“ Talking never hurt no one, guess listening don’t either, but I’m gonna warn you right now, if this is a trick, old man Lancer will find himself missing two sons.” Johnny said as his and Teresa’ food came.
“ Why are you here Scott?” Teresa asked again.
“ Well, I was up in Cedar Canyon looking for you. Seems when I came back a lot had happened. Our…my father wants me to bring you back to Lancer.” he said holding up a hand. “ Now hear me out Teresa, please?” Scott said, looking at Johnny.
“ Why don’t you just get to it and tell us whats up?” Johnny asked.
“ Okay, Murdoch wants you to come back to Lancer, he is……or was prepared to have you arrested for kidnapping and rape since Teresa here is under age. I told him that you didn’t rape her if she left with you willingly……..Teresa, are you sure this is what you want?”
“ Yes, Scott, I am. I’ve never been more sure than anything. I love Johnny, and he loves me. The only reason we came into town was……..” Teresa started, then stopped when Johnny sighed.
“ What does old man Lancer want?” he asked softly, but with coldness.
“ I told you, he wants Teresa to come back to Lancer.”
“ Ain’t happening. Teresa is going to be my wife and that’s all, so you take that back to that rich daddy of yours.”
Scott wanted to tell Johnny about the letter from the Pinkerton agent, but decided against it.
“ You know, you say you’re all grown up Johnny, you too Teresa, well I’m going to ask you to do something I don’t think you have the guts, let alone are man enough to do.” Scott said. “ Prove to me that you’re a man Johnny and come back to Lancer with Teresa to hear what I have to say. I give you my word that nothing will happen to either one of you……….You Johnny, after you hear what I have to say, can ride out, with Teresa or stay at Lancer.” Scott said as he stood up. “ Frankly I don’t think you’re anything more than a boy.” he said before walking away and up to his room.
Johnny sat back in his chair and looked at Teresa. “ I don’t trust him.”he told her.
“ Scott wouldn’t lie to us Johnny.” Teresa assured.
Johnny stood up. “ Come on.’ he said as he stepped around and pulled her chair back when she stood up.
“ Where are we going?”
“ You say he doesn’t lie, well I think we should pay him a visit and see what he’s not telling us.” Johnny said as he paid their meal and they headed to the stairs.
Scott opened the door, not surprised to find Johnny and Teresa standing there.
“ I don’t think you are telling the truth rich kid, in fact, I think you are leaving something out.” Johnny said.
“ So do I Scott. I’ve known you a long time so why don’t you tell us what is really going on?” Teresa demanded.
Moving aside he allowed them to come in. “ What guarantee do I get that you won’t shoot me Johnny, if I tell you what I’ve learned?” he asked as he closed the door.
“ My word. Regardless of what you or others think, I’m not a cold blooded killer.”
“ I never said you were, but you do have a temper.” Scott stated.
“ So do you Scott.” Teresa cut in.
“ Start talking rich kid.”Johnny ordered as he sat down.
“Okay, when I got back to Lancer our……..my father told me what had happened. Teresa if you really love him, that’s fine, but something I want to ask you Johnny, did your mother tell you anything about who your father was?”
Johnny looked at him hard. “ Why?” he demanded.
“ Because I have learned who your father might be.” Scott answered.
“ My mother didn’t tell me anything about who my father is, why the hell would you be wanting to know that?”
“ A letter came to the ranch the day after you two left. It was from a Pinkerton agent who has been looking for my little brother.” Scott said.
“ Yeah so.”
“ Scott, did he find Johnny down in Mexico?” Teresa asked.
“ Not in Mexico, no. He found him in Yuma, said he wasn’t there any longer. He said that he took a job for Wells Fargo, guarding a shipment to San Francisco and was in California now.”
Johnny stood up, all his senses suddenly went on alert.
“ It would seem Teresa, that my little brother, the reason the Pinkerton’ couldn’t find him all these years, changed his name.” Scott told her as he watched Madrid.
“ Changed his name? Changed it to what Scott?” she asked.
“ Johnny Madrid.”he said.
Johnny turned around and before Scott could act, grabbed him by his shirt.
“ You’re lying. There’s no way I am that bastards son.”Johnny vented.
“ There is one way to prove that Johnny.” Scott said as his hands reached up, and he tried to get free.
“ How?” Johnny demanded.
“ A birth mark, my little brother had a very distinct birth mark on his right hip…..in the shape of a heart.”
Johnny glared at him a few seconds before shoving him backwards onto the bed.
Teresa placed a hand over her mouth and looked at the man she loved. “ Johnny.”
Johnny walked over to the window and wrapped his arms around himself.
“ Do you have that mark Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ Yes he does Scott.” Teresa answered as she came up behind Johnny and placed her hands on his shoulders. She could feel him trembling as she ran her hands down and around his waist, laying her head between his shoulders. “ Johnny, say something.”
Madrid turned around.” What do you want?” he demanded. “ Because if………and I say if what you are telling me is true, and I’m not saying it is, there is no way your father is going to want me as a son. Nobody wants me as there son.”
“ You’re wrong there Johnny. I told our father that if I could get you to come back to Lancer, I would do whatever I had to do to keep you there. I lost you once little brother, I’ll be damned if I am going to lose you again.” Scott said with firmness. “ Don’t you think it’s about time you started settling down, I mean the two of you are going to be getting married, have you even thought about how you’re going to take care of Teresa? Where the two of you are going to live?” Scott asked.
Johnny headed to the door. “ Come on Teresa, we’re leaving.”
“ So the great Johnny Madrid, the man most people fear is going to tuck tail and run?” Scott said with sarcasm.
Johnny spun around and grabbed Scott, jerking him to within an inch of his face. “ Let’s get something straight right now rich kid………Johnny Madrid don’t run from nothing. That old man, even if he is my father, sure the fuck doesn’t want me for his son. As for Teresa, how I take care of her is none of your business, got it?” Johnny said firmly.
“ Teresa is my business Johnny, she’s like a sister to me. You don’t have a place to live and winter is coming.” Scott said.
“ We have a place Scott.” Teresa said.
“ Where?” he demanded as he glared at his new found little brother.
“ The South Mesa line shack.” she told him. “ Nobody will be using it until spring.”she added.
“ And what if our father or a hand decided to ride there. What are you going to do, shoot them?”
“ Killing that old man isn’t such a bad idea, since he threw me and my mother out.” Johnny said with coldness.
“ He didn’t throw you out Johnny. We awoke one morning and found your mother gone, you with her. He has been searching for you ever since. Our father is……….”
“Stop saying ……our father…….he ain’t my father. Never has been, never will be.”
“ You’re wrong about that Johnny.” Scott shot back. “ You may not like it, but Murdoch Lancer * is *
your father….so grow up boy. Prove to him that you can be a son……….better yet, prove to Teresa that you can be.”
“ Johnny doesn’t have to prove anything to me Scott.” Teresa stated.
“I disagree Teresa………..Johnny, I know what I’ve told you isn’t easy to accept after being fatherless all your life, but I swear to you, that what I said is the truth. That birth mark is the truth. Now if you weren’t my lost little brother, how would I know about it? I didn’t see you when you were at Lancer hurt. The only one who has seen you that way is Teresa, and she says you have a birthmark like that one, in the spot.”
“ Teresa, I’m leaving here, you can come with me, or stay.” Johnny said as he opened the door.
Teresa glanced at Scott. This news was also hard for her to accept as well,since the man she was going to marry turn I the youngest son of the richest rancher in the San Joaquin.
“ Give him some time Scott……Let me talk to him.”
“ Stay at the line shack Teresa, just don’t let him run.” Scott pleaded.
“ I won’t.” she answered before walking out of the room.
Scott rode into the Lancer yard the next afternoon. Johnny and Teresa had rode out of Green River that next morning Scott had been told by the livery owner. Walking into the house he found his father sitting at his desk looking out the big bay window.
“ He knows.” Scott said as he went and poured a shot and downed it.
Murdoch turned around. “ Where are they?”
“ I don’t know. They rode out of Green River this morning.” Scott responded.
“ I asked you to bring Teresa home.” Murdoch said as he stood up.
“ Yes sir, you did………Look I just told Johnny something that shook him up pretty good. He needs time to accept all this sir. We can’t force him to come back here.”
“ I don’t care if he likes it or not……..I want Teresa back here now……….Send a couple hands to bring her back here.”
“ No sir, I will not. Johnny has the birth mark, Teresa confirmed it. He doesn’t know you except for the little time he was here when shot, and you weren’t exactly nice to him then. He doesn’t trust us.”
“ I have done nothing to that boy.”
“ So the way you talked to him, what you called him, you say is nothing?” Scott demanded.
“ I do not have to stand here and justify the way I was to that boy while he was in my house.”
“ Our house, and if Johnny comes back here, it will be his and Teresa’ house as well.”
“ He is not living in this house, he most certainly is not coming back here and expect me to allow him and Teresa to live under this roof in sin, sleeping in the same bed unmarried.”
“ Sin, wasn’t it you who took Johnny’ mother to bed down in Matamoros and got her with child?”Scott shot back. “ You know it seems to me sir that Johnny is just doing what you did.”
“Don’t you dare stand there and compare me to that unruly boy. I won’t stand for it.” Murdoch said with force.
“ Fine, you searched for my brother all these years and now that we have found him, you, because of your bullheaded, has to be my way pride, you may loose Johnny again, and you know what, You do and you have no one to blame but yourself for it.” Scott said before leaving the room.
Johnny and Teresa didn’t go to the line shack, instead they rode to Cedar Canyon. Teresa could tell Johnny was doing some very serious thinking. He hardly talked to her, didn’t make love to her, just sat at the fire starring into the flames.
“ Johnny, am I going to loose you?” Teresa asked with a quiver in her voice.
Johnny looked across at her and gave her a slight smile. “ All I ever wanted when I was growing up, was a father…….I mean……I had a step father for a while when I was really young, but……my real father my mother never talked about him. I don’t know what to do Teresa…..Apart of me wants to go there and confront him, but I already know how he feels about me. I’ve been rejected by people just about all my life. Hated because I have blue eyes. Wanted only when they needed my gun………I want a life beyond that Teresa.”
“ Johnny, you can have that, you deserve that, go back to Lancer and hear what Murdoch has to say. You’re real good at reading people. Hear him out and then decide and whatever you decide, I will support you, no matter what.” she told him.
Johnny got up and walked over to her, kneeling down in front of her he claimed her mouth. “ We’ll ride down in the morning.” he told her as he started to make love to her.
Johnny and Teresa rode out of Cedar Canyon the next morning as the late summer sun beat down on them. The temperature already sweltering.
“ You okay?” Teresa asked as they stopped their horses on top of the hill, looking down at Lancer below.
Johnny took her hand in his and kissed it. “ As long as I have you I am.” he told her.
“ This can all be yours also,that is if you want it to be.” she told him.
Johnny leaned over and kissed her. “ Let ‘er buck.” he told her as he started Barranca down the hill.
Scott walked out of the barn with Murdoch.
“ Senor Lancer, look.” Cipriano said as he pointed at two riders coming in.
Scott found himself smiling as he watched Johnny and Teresa ride into the yard.
Murdoch stood there looking at the girl he thought of as his own daughter. “ Teresa.”
Teresa got down and walked up to him.
Murdoch took the chance and reached out and hugged her. “ I missed you so much darling.” he told her.
“ I missed you too Murdoch, but I’m not staying here if Johnny doesn’t.”
Johnny, still sitting on Barranca, looked at Scott. “ Guess you where wrong rich kid.”
“ I guess I was, you going to get down?” Scott said and asked.
Johnny dropped his reins and got down from the stallion. “ No matter what you have to say old man, Teresa is going to be my wife.” Johnny said.
Murdoch looked at him. “ Why don’t the two of you come inside.” Murdoch suggested. “ Cipriano, would you take care of their horses?”
“ Si patron.” Cipriano said as he took the two’s horses to the barn.
Johnny followed Scott and Murdoch into the house to what he was sure would be the hardest meeting he had ever faced as Madrid.
“ We have some time before dinner is ready, perhaps you two would like to freshen up?” Murdoch suggested.
“ Sure, Johnny?” Teresa answered as she reached for his hand.
“ Yeah, okay.” he said as he took her hand and they headed to the wash room out back.
“ I have a bad feeling about this sir.” Scott said as he walked over to the sideboard and poured them both a drink.
“ I still think the report is wrong son…………I don’t see that wild boy being my Johnny.” Murdoch stated flatly.
“ Our Johnny sir.” Scott corrected. “Teresa confirmed the birthmark.”he quickly added.
Murdoch glared at him. The fact that the girl he had raised as his own daughter could be involved with a known dangerous gunfighter still angered him. That and the fact that that gunfighter took advantage of her innocence, claiming he was in love with her.
“ I’ll tell you this much son. If he is and he stays here, I will put a stop to the two of them sleeping together. I will not have him sleeping together under my roof, not unwed.”
“ Even if it cost you them leaving?” he asked.
“ Teresa is not leaving here again with him. I will be damned if that boy is going to take that innocent girl off Lancer property again.”
“Look, I watched the two of them, Johnny cares for her. Do you know that the only reason they were in Green River was to purchase a ring?”
“ A ring bought with blood money.”
“ And you know that for a fact? Johnny just did a job for Wells Fargo. A job that paid him five hundred dollars I might add. He didn’t kill anyone or steal that money.” Scott noted.
“ He makes a living from that damn gun killing people……….Look, I’m not sure we can resolve anything like this son………Why don’t you go and get cleaned up for dinner?”
“ Alright, but just remember, I may not like the facts, but they are what they are sir. Johnny is my little brother and he is entitled to a third of this ranch. You owe him that much at least.”
“ And how do you figure I owe him a third of what I spent my whole life building?”
“ It’s not his fault his mother took him away from here and it’s not his fault he had to become Johnny Madrid just to stay alive. You need to stop blaming him for what you yourself know wasn’t his fault.” Scott stated firmly before heading upstairs.
Murdoch stood there a minute before heading into the kitchen.
“ Patrona,¿ por qué está aquí ese pistolero y con la señora?” (Patron, why is that gunfighter back here and with the senora? )
“ Hay una posibilidad de que Johnny pueda ser mi hijo.”( There’s a chance Johnny could be my son)
“ Él es un patrón de pistolero. Un hombre peligroso. Él no podía ser mi Juanito.” ( he is a gunfighter patron. A dangerous man. He could not be my Juanito)
“Lo descubriremos esta noche.” ( We will find out tonight ) Murdoch said before heading out the back door. He caught Maria making a cross and saying a prayer as he walked past her.
“ I don’t think this is a good idea Teresa.” Johnny said as he wiped water from his face.
“ We have to give them a chance at least Johnny.” she answered.
“ I don’t have to do anything but love you and give you what you deserve querida.” he told her as he handed her the towel. “ If we stay here tonight. I am not sleeping alone.”
“ And neither am I.” Teresa said as she stepped up to him and their mouths came together with hunger.
Johnny ran his hands down to her buttocks and pulled her into him, feeling his hardness starting.
“ I want you.” he panted as he started undoing his pants.
“ What if one of them should come here?” Teresa asked as she quickly undid her pants and slid them down to her ankles.
“ Let them.” Johnny responded as he kissed her.
Murdoch stopped outside the washroom and was about to knock when he heard grunting and moaning from the other side of the door. Blood starting to boil as the veins in his forehead protruded, he turned around and walked back into the house, avoiding Maria as he headed to the grand room and poured a stiff drink, went to his desk and sat down.
Murdoch was no fool, he knew all to well what was taking place on the other side of that door and it angered him at the thought of the two of them carrying on like that in his house, unwed. Laughter brought him out of his thoughts.
“ Johnny, stop.” Teresa pleaded laughingly as her and Johnny came into the room. “ That tickles.”
Johnny grabbed Teresa around the waist and pulled her to his chest. What he did next, he did deliberately. “ I love you Teresa.” he said before kissing her.
“ That will be enough. I will not have the two of you carrying on like that in my house.” Murdoch declared.
Johnny held on to Teresa, looked at Murdoch then deliberately kissed her again. “ To bad old man. She’s going to be my wife, so get used to it.” Johnny said with coldness.
Murdoch stood up and in three long strides stepped over to within a foot of the two. “ As long as you are in my house boy, you will conduct yourself in a proper manner. I’m perfectly aware of what the two of you just did in the wash room. Teresa I did not bring you up to behave the way you are young lady, neither did your father.”
“ My father and you both shielded me from what Johnny has showed me………We love each other and there is nothing wrong with showing our love.”
“ Or making it.” Johnny added.
“ That’s enough.” Murdoch yelled just as Scott stepped into the room.
“ Why don’t all three of you stop acting like children.” Scott said as he walked into the room.
“ I am not acting like a child young man.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ Could have fooled me. I could hear you yelling all the way upstairs.”
“ Your old man didn’t like me kissing Teresa. I think he’s jealous.”
“ You keep a civil tongue in that unprepossessing mouth boy.” Murdoch demanded as he glared at him.
“ Johnny, Teresa, why don’t we all sit down? Maria is serving dinner now.” Scott suggested.
Murdoch took his place at the end of the table, Scott to his right. “ Teresa why don’t you sit next to Scott, Johnny can sit next to me.” Murdoch stated.
“ Teresa can sit next to me.” Johnny said as he pulled the chair out for her.
“ Thank you Johnny.” she told him as she sat down.
Scott dropped his head so no one would see the smile he had at how Johnny bucked everything Murdoch said.
“You need to get something straight right now boy. I call the tune here and what I say goes and as long as you are here, you will do as you are told.” Murdoch stated.
“ Look old man, rich boy there says me and him are brothers. That you’re my old man. If that’s true……..why the hell did you throw me and my mother out huh?………Did you decide you didn’t want a half breed for a son any longer…..That you didn’t want your good son there corrupted by the likes of me?”Johnny asked, looking across at Scott.
“ Why don’t you show him the letter you received from the Pinkerton agent?” Scott suggested.
“ I did not throw Maria out of this house….I awoke one morning and found her gone and my son Johnny with her.”
“ Yeah, well that ain’t what I was told. So tell me something mister high and mighty Lancer………What proof you got besides that letter? ………I mean, how old was your Johnny when he was took from here?”
“ Almost three.”
“ And how can you tell if I am this kid you lost?”
“ A birth mark is one way.” Scott cut in. “ My brother has a very distinct birth mark on his right hip like I told you at the hotel Johnny…….You……..my brother also will have a small scar on the top of your left foot from where it got stepped on by a pony. You were barefoot and the pony’s hoof cut your foot. Sam sewed it up and you never said a word or shed a tear the whole time.” Scott added as he looked at his father.
Johnny sat there looking across at Scott, unspoken. He had a scar on the top of his left foot he never remembered how he had acquired. He did remember asking his mother about it once as a child and she wouldn’t tell him. Thinking back now, his mother never said anything about his life as a baby or young child.
Scott watched and could tell Johnny’ emotions were running, it showed in his eyes, eyes that had their own way of speaking so easily to a person, in so many ways. Eyes that one second could be as cold as ice and the next, full of love and caring. He knew what Johnny was just learning is a lot for any person to accept, especially one who has been wild a free most of his life. Untamed and free to go where he wanted, do what he wanted, when he wanted. Living on his own, reliant upon nobody, but his colt. Wanted by nobody, except for that colt. Never knowing what real love is, what a real family is and being wanted and loved by that family.
“ Are you okay Johnny?” he asked with concern.
Johnny looked at him, sadness in his eyes, then looked hard at old man Lancer. Clearing his throat, praying his voice held true.
“ Tell me something old man.” he asked sharply to keep his voice true. “ My mother never told me who my old man was, but she did tell me where she met him. If I’m supposed to be your Johnny, tell me where you met your Maria at.” he asked as he reached and took Teresa’ hand in his for the support he knew she would give him.
“ I met Maria, my Maria, Johnny’ mother a couple years after Scott’ mother Catherine passed away giving birth to him……….I met her down in Metamoros. She came out of a cantina down there and I thought she was the most beautifulest woman I had ever seen. And I mean no disrespect to your mother son.” Murdoch quickly added.
Scott gave a slight nod of acceptance.
“ Describe her.” Johnny asked as a sick feeling in his gut got stronger.
“ I was there on business and she had walked out of the cantina there. When I seen her, I thought she was as beautiful as a rose. We talked and became involved in what you would call a whirlwind relationship.” Murdoch stated. “ Maria had long gorgeous black hair, beautiful brown eyes, a laugh that could melt any mans heart.”
“ Did she………..did your Maria have any marks on her that…….that…….” Johnny struggled to ask as his voice started to fail him.
“ Yes, she had the same birthmark you are supposed to have young man. A birthmark in the shape of a heart on her right hip.”
Johnny stood up so fast, it knocked his chair backwards. Shaking he glanced at Teresa before turning and heading outside.
“ Johnny, wait.” Scott called as he stood up. “ Talk to him.” he demanded of his father.
“ Talk to him about what?” Murdoch asked.
“ Murdoch, Johnny just found out he has a father and brother. He’s in shock.” Teresa pleaded. “ Go to him, be the father he’s never had.”
“ Or at least try to be a father to him sir. Don’t go out there and yell or put him down for what he has done in the past. Don’t judge him.”
“ And don’t be telling him that me and him cannot be married, because we will be, with or without your blessing.” Teresa informed strongly.
Murdoch threw his napkin down on his plate and looked hard at Teresa. “ I will be discussing this relationship between the two of you later young lady.”
“ Sir, I suggest you think real hard about how you are going to talk to Johnny when you go out there.” Scott suggested strongly.
Murdoch walked outside and could see a light coming from the barn,walking over to the door he could hear a voice coming from inside. Stepping inside like he’d done hundreds of times before,Murdoch found himself staring at the business end of his new found sons colt.
“ I don’t much care for people sneaking up on me.” Johnny said as he holstered the colt and went back to grooming the stallion.
Murdoch stepped closer. ‘ I’ll try and keep that in mind.”
“ Good way to stay alive.” Johnny retorted as he continued to brush his horses coat.
“ I guess you have good reason to not be trusting?” Murdoch asked.
“ Kept me alive this long…………..you come out here for a reason old man?”
Murdoch let out a sigh. “ Do you think this is easy for me Johnny?……You think,after all these years searching for my missing son, to find out he’s alive and been…….living under another name, you think this is easy for me?”
“ Wouldn’t know, only care about me and Teresa………..Got no reason to care……..or trust you old man.”
“ Look, could you show me a little respect, and not call me old man?…….I am your father.”
Johnny stopped brushing Barranca and tossed the brush in the bucket. Looking at the man. “ Look, I know you don’t want me, I’m no fool…….I may have your blood running through my veins,but I’ve been around long enough to know when a man like me ain’t liked, or wanted.”
“ You know that for a fact do you?”Murdoch asked, keeping his voice as calm as he could. The last thing he wanted to do,was spook the boy.
“ Ain’t stayed alive this long, not knowing people, and being able to see the signs. I’m a gunfighter, and that makes people like you sick to your stomach. You only like me when you need my gun to do what you’re to chicken shit to do. Once that’s done, you want me gone………..I won’t embarrass you mister high and mighty Lancer. Me and Teresa will ride out of here come first light.”
“ Is that what you think of me? You think I don’t want you here because of who you are?” Murdoch asked.
Johnny looked at him a minute, then went over and sat down, placing his hands together between his legs, looking down at the floor.
Murdoch stepped over and sat down on the bale of hay next to him. “ Look, I’m a hard person sometimes. I run this ranch and expect the work to be done that I ask………..I’m no different than the men you hired your gun out to Johnny. The only difference is, you won’t have to kill people for me.”
“ I know more about ranch work than you think. I may not have an education like Scott or even Teresa, but I’ve learned my lessons………the hard way.”
“ Okay, from what I’ve read about Johnny Madrid, he cares about people…….So if that’s true, let me ask you this Johnny. Do you care about giving this a try?”
“ You read them reports, you know who, and what I am ol……..Murdoch. Maybe I should be asking you that? How you think your friends are gonna take you having a gunfighter son living here? My kind ain’t liked.”
“ Look Johnny, I know we haven’t gotten off on the right foot tonight, but I’m willing to give this a try, if not for myself, then for Scott to get to know the brother he lost all those years ago.”
Johnny raised his head and looked at him finally before standing up, stepping back over to the stallion.
“ When I was little, there were these two brothers in this small village, I used to wish I had an older brother. One who could teach me……..protect me.” Johnny said softly as he sighed.
Murdoch took a chance and walked over to his side and placed his left arm around Johnny’, resting it on his shoulders. He could feel him tense up at the unfamiliar touch.
“ I’ll make you a deal Johnny. You stay here at Lancer, work the ranch like Scott does at a dollar a day, and I will make you a third owner of this ranch.”
Johnny dropped his head a second then pushed away from the stall a couple steps, and wrapping his arms around himself tightly.
“ Look, we’ve both had a lot to take in tonight. Why don’t you sleep on what I’m offering you. Take as long as you need, but please think about it?”
“If you think this is going to split me and Teresa apart, you’re wrong……..I love her and we are getting married.”
“ I would like to talk to you about your plans with Teresa, but I think it can wait until tomorrow…….I’ve had Maria make up your room and Teresa’ room has all her things still in it.”
“ We ain’t sleeping in separate beds.” Johnny said firmly.
“ I will not allow that kind of behavior in my house, the two of you are not married……….yet.”
“ Well I suggest you get used to it then, because if we stay here, we sleep in the same bed.” Johnny said in a somewhat challenging voice.
Murdoch decided to let it go this time. Not wanting to fight what he knew would be an endless fight.
“ Alright then, can I ask that you keep the noise down then, so the rest of us can sleep?”
“ Can’t promise that, you see, Teresa brings out the………well I think you know, so I guess me and her will be sleeping in her room downstairs.”
“ Scott, I’m worried, they’ve been out there a long time. Do you think they’re okay?”Teresa asked.
“ I think they are……..the fact that they have been out there this long means they are talking.” Scott told her.
“ Murdoch is going to try and keep us from getting married Scott, I know it.”
“ Teresa, how do you really feel about Johnny?”
“ What do you mean, how do I feel?……….I love him Scott. I want to marry him and give him children.”
“ You’re barely eighteen and he’s what………nineteen. Teresa, how’s Johnny going to take care of you? Where will you live?”
“ He’ll get a job working a ranch somewhere Scott. I’m good at sewing, so I can work in a dress shop or even open my own maybe.”
“ It takes money to do that. Are you prepared to have what you want if Johnny has to go back to hiring his gun out?”
“ Scott, Johnny is smarter than you think. He knows horses really good. You should see him with Barranca, the things he trained him to do. I know if given the chance, Johnny could make a lot of money training horses for ranchers.”
“ You didn’t answer my question.”
“ He’s not a killer, if he has to, he could hire out like he did for Wells Fargo guarding money shipments.”
“ So then the little girl I thought of as my little sister, is going to become my sister in law, and make me an uncle?”
Teresa smiled and stepped up to him, wrapping her arms around his neck and giving him a hug.
“ I haven’t been a little girl for a long time Scott, It seems Johnny was the only one to notice that.”
Scott hugged her back and kissed the top of her head. “ You know, I don’t really know how I should feel about this…..I mean all these years without my brother, and now I have him back.”
“ Do you feel resentment or threatened by Johnny?”
“ Why do you ask that?”
“ Well, he is a Lancer, and he is entitled to be a part owner of the ranch. Does that make you feel threatened?”
“ No, I’m more concerned about how me and him will get along. Johnny seems to have a temper.”
“ After all these years of not having a brother, Johnny is cautious, he doesn’t trust easily. Just go slow, don’t ask him about his past, he doesn’t like to talk about it. He likes to keep his emotions inside, I’ve learned how to get them out, to get him to talk to me.”
“ I expect the way you do that is something that happens behind closed doors?” Scott asked playfully.
Teresa couldn’t stop her face from turning red. “ Scott Lancer, shame on you.” Teresa said playfully as the front door opened and Murdoch stepped inside.
“ Where’s Johnny?” Teresa asked as she walked over to him.
“ He’s still in the barn I expect.” Murdoch said as he reached out and pulled her into a hug. “ I missed you darling.”
“ I love him Murdoch, I will be his wife.” Teresa told him.
“I know that darling. You know, you are just like your father. Paul when he came here was one determined man to work for me. When your mother left you and he was left raising you alone, I was afraid I would lose the best friend, and foreman I could ever have. Raising you as my own daughter after he was killed, I brought you up as I seen fit. Teaching you what I felt was right, Maria teaching you the ways of a lady I couldn’t……….Teresa, if you are sure you want to marry Johnny, would you promise me one thing?”
“ Would you have your wedding here at Lancer and allow me to pay for it? After all, you’re like a daughter to me, and I would love to walk you down the isle.”
“ Oh Murdoch, I would be so happy if you did. Course I’ll have to talk to Johnny about it though.”
“ Alright, also I, even though I disapprove, I guess you and Johnny will be sleeping in your room.”
“ Thank you Murdoch. I think I’ll go out and talk to Johnny now.” Teresa said with a smile as she headed to the door.
“ I don’t think I have ever seen you make such a change in attitude so fast sir.” Scott said.
“ I’m still not sure how to talk to him. He did tell me one thing though son. He told me how when he was a child, he wanted a big brother to protect him. The woman I married, I never would have expected, would do what she did. Would allow her own child to be abused.”
“ I agree sir. I seen the scars Johnny has on his body. He’s had more than his share of abuse.”
“Expect it’s that abuse that has made that boy so shut up inside.” Murdoch stated. “ You know son, I never have asked you how you feel about all this?”
“ I’m actually looking forward to the challenge of knowing my brother.”
Teresa walked into the barn and found Johnny sitting in the back, barely see-able in the lamp light.
“ Johnny, are you alright?” she asked as she walked over and stopped in front of him.
Johnny stood up and reaching out, he pulled her to him and claimed her mouth with hunger, delving his tongue deep into her mouth.
Teresa moaned, caught off guard completely, she wrapped her arms around his neck as she pressed against him, feeling his hardness starting.
Johnny turned her around and started to lay her down in the hay.
“ Johnny no…… wait…….not here………….. please.” Teresa pleaded between breaths. “ In my room, in a bed.”
“ I guess I can wait that long.” Johnny said as he took her hand and headed to the house.
“I think I will turn in early tonight sir, something tells me tomorrow will be a very interesting day.”
“ Alright son. I will probably do the same.” Murdoch answered as the front door opened.
Johnny kept Teresa in front of him to hide his hardness which grew as she pressed back into him just enough to really drive him crazy.
“ Johnny, Teresa me and Scott are going to call it a night. Breakfast will be at six.” Murdoch said as he walked toward them, standing in the foyer.
“ Johnny, perhaps tomorrow me and you can take a ride around the ranch. I’d like to start getting to know you, that is if it’s alright, and show you the ranch.”
“ Yeah sure, I guess we could take a ride together.” Johnny answered as he kept his arms around Teresa.
“ Breakfast is at six Johnny.” Murdoch informed as he stepped past the two and headed upstairs.
“ Night Scott.” Teresa said with a laugh as she took Johnny to her room.
“ Good night.” Scott called back with a smile, knowing neither would be getting very much sleep.
“ Murdoch asked me if we could have the wedding here at Lancer. He want’s to walk me down the isle, give me away to you.” Teresa told him as she snuggled up next to his side and played her fingers in his chest hair.
“ Yeah, and what did you tell him?” Johnny asked as he rolled onto his side and started to play with her breast, squeezing them.
Teresa moaned. “ I told him I would talk to you about it.” she panted as she started to arch into him.
“ He raised you like his own daughter. You grew up on Lancer, if you want to get married here, that’s fine. I just want him to understand that you will be my wife, and he don’t try no tricks.”
Teresa pushed Johnny onto his back and straddled him.
“ I love you Johnny Madrid. Make me with child.” Teresa said.
Johnny fell back exhausted, sweat ran down his face as he tried to get his breathing under control.
“ You drive me crazy Teresa……….I love you girl, and I want you to be happy, just………I don’t know if I can stay here……he asked me to give it a try, but I don’t know…..I mean, all my life I believed lies my mother told me, lies Teresa, lies a mother should never tell her child.”
“Johnny, I know this is hard for you to accept, but once you get to know Murdoch, you’ll see, he really is a nice man………Listen to me, I will stand by you and stay at your side no matter what you decide. All I can do is support you, I will not tell you what to do. Only you can decide that.”
“ How’d I ever get so lucky having a sassy little lady like you come into my life.” Johnny asked as he hugged her.
“ Thank whoever shot you that day, because if they hadn’t, we never would have met.” Teresa responded as she snuggled down into Johnny’s left shoulder more.
Johnny woke and found himself alone in bed, sitting up and leaning back against the headboard he stretched his arms and rubbed his face as the bedroom door opened and Teresa walked in wearing a beautiful blue dress with white lace trim around the collar and sleeves.
“ You know, waking up alone is not something I care to be doing.” Johnny said with a smile.
“ You were sleeping so sound, I didn’t want to wake you.” Teresa said as she walked around the bed and sat down next to him
“ You can wake me any time sweetheart.” Johnny said before pulling her to him and claiming her mouth with hunger.
“ I thought I would show Johnny around Lancer some today….Let him see what he will be a part owner of.” Scott stated as he sipped his coffee.
“ That’s fine son……In fact, I was thinking of coming along with the two of you. That is if you don’t mind?” Murdoch said.
“ Actually sir, I would prefer to be alone with Johnny today…….After all, we did just learn of being brothers.”
“ Of course son, I’m sorry……I’ll show Johnny around the ranch another time……..Did you have a particular area you were going to show him?”
“ I thought we would ride up toward Cedar Canyon to start and work our way around to the dam and back…..I figure I could check the dam while there.”
“ Good, maybe I’ll take Teresa to town and do some shopping with her.”
“ Yeah, I have a feeling those two will be making you a grandfather before the year is out.” Scott said with a laugh.
“ Grandchildren around here would be nice.” Murdoch said with a slight laugh.
“ May I ask why it is you have had a change of heart about those two being together so fast sir?”
Murdoch looked at his oldest a second before standing and going to the stove to pour another cup of coffee.
“ I may not like what Johnny had to do in his past son, but if he gives it a chance, he can start a new life here at Lancer, a life he should have had all along.” Murdoch said as he came back over and sat down again.
“Do you plan on asking him sometime about his mother?” Scott asked.
Murdoch let out a sigh. “ I would like to know about her,but something tells me that Johnny isn’t going to speak of his mother to me.”
“ Maybe I could try and find out, ask him what she was like?”
“ No son. If Johnny tells you things about his past, he’ll do so in confidence and I don’t want you breaking his trust.”
“ Something tells me that trust is something Johnny doesn’t have a lot of, given the past he’s had.”
“ Trust has to be earned Boston…….It’s not something I give easily.” Johnny said as he and Teresa walked into the kitchen.
“ Morning son.” Murdoch said.
Johnny looked at him, a little speechless at hearing the word * son * said to him. “ Morning.”
“ I’ll fix you something to eat Johnny, since you missed breakfast.” Teresa said as she set a skillet on the stove.
“ A couple biscuits and coffee is good enough for me sweetheart.” Johnny said as he poured a cup of coffee and went to the table and sat down. “ So……..this is a working ranch right?” he asked, looking at Scott as he took a sip of the steaming hot brew.
“ Yes, this is a working ranch, why?” Murdoch asked.
“ Well I was just curious, Boston here said he was going to show me around today. He does that, won’t he be shucking his chores?”
“ Your brother can skip doing chores for a day to show you the ranch.” Murdoch stated.
“ Thanks.” Johnny said to Teresa as she set a couple biscuits down for him. “One thing the two of you might want to keep in mind, I don’t shuck work. If it’s needed done, I get it done…….So why don’t you tell me what you want me to do,and I’ll start working on it.”
Murdoch set his cup down. “ Alright, I’ll pay you what I pay Scott, a dollar a day, six days a week. No going to town in the middle of the week because I expect a full days work for a full days wages.”
“ Seems fair enough………Your hands, how they gonna feel about Johnny Madrid being your son, let alone working here?”
“ My men are good vaquero’s. Cipriano is my segundo, he is also your uncle.”
“ My uncle huh?………So what you want me to do?”
“ Well there’s a foot bridge that washed out last spring that needs replaced. Why don’t you ride up there, take notes on what all we need to replace it and then you can ride on up and check the damn.” Murdoch suggested.
“ And what’s he gonna be doing?”
“ I little brother, will be fixing fence, a never ending job around here, as you will soon find out.”
“ Yeah, cows are pretty stupid.” Johnny said as he reached over and took Teresa’ hand in his after she set down next to him. “ What will you be doing today?” he asked her.
“ Well, I have a wedding to plan.”
“ I thought I would take her to town and let her do some shopping, maybe buy a wedding dress, that is if it’s alright with you?”
“ Fine with me, she still hasn’t told me when she wants ta get hitched.” Johnny said as he brought her hand up and kissed the back of it.
“ Would you mind a big wedding Johnny? I’ll pay for it. I mean, Teresa is like a daughter to me.” Murdoch asked.
“ It’s whatever she wants…..as long as she’s happy, I don’t care.” Johnny said as he let go of her hand and brought his right arm up and put it across her shoulders. “ You do realize that when people learn of Johnny Madrid being here, they ain’t gonna be none to pleased about it. I’ve seen it before. My kind ain’t welcomed, unless they needed my gun.”
“ Lancer takes care of it’s own…..Whether you take your birthright name or not son, you are a Lancer and I will not allow anyone to try and run you off what is your birthright.” Murdoch said with firmness.
“ That goes for me also little brother.” Scott added. “ We know your past hasn’t been easy Johnny, working this ranch at times is long and hard hours. Sometimes we work right up until dark.”
“ And if that happens, Maria will keep a plate of food for you in the oven.” Murdoch added.“ I don’t know what type of work you did before,when you hired out to a rancher, but here it is like Scott said, long, hard exhausting work.”
“ I may be a gunfighter, but just so you know, I didn’t always use my gun…….You know what my kind are……..We’re fallen angels sent down from above the good book says.”
“ Why yes it does.” Murdoch answered. “ So you read the bible son?”
“ Partly, I know some of it……Don’t worry, I know how to read and write and can do sums.”
“ I didn’t mean to imply that you couldn’t…….I guess you could say I was a little shocked that you referred to the book to describe yourself is all.”
Well, I never did hit rock bottom, so you don’t have to worry. I ain’t wanted by the law and I never broke it, except maybe in Mexico.”Johnny said as he stood up. “ Wasting the day here. You paying a dollar a day, I guess I should get to it.”
“ I’ll see you tonight.” Teresa said as she stood up and walked with him to the front door.
“ Yeah, miss me.” Johnny said before kissing her softly on the lips. “ I love you.”
“ And I love you Johnny.” Teresa responded back. “ Be careful.”
Johnny finished up with writing down what all the foot bridge would need, stuck the pad and pencil in his saddlebag, swung up in the saddle and headed Barranca on up to the damn, checking along the way for any signs of big rocks or trees coming down in the next hard rain. Reaching the damn he got down and let the golden stallion graze on the lush green grass as he walked over and started checking around the edge of the damn before walking out on it. Water flowed over the dam at a fast speed. Three big downed trees partially blocked the dam, causing the water to flow over the edges washing away at the support beams sunk into the ground.
Barranca shied away from the sound over the roaring water and sloppy ground. Johnny reached down and patted the stallions neck.
“ Easy boy….Let’s go find Boston and have him take a look. I ain’t about to try and remove those trees alone buddy.” Johnny told the horse as he reined him away from the dam and headed to where Scott would be working.
Scott sunk another fence post when he heard a horse approaching, looking up as he wiped sweat from his face. Seeing who it was Scott walked toward his brother as the stallion slid to a stop.
“ What’s wrong?” he asked.
Johnny got down and told Scott what he found as he checked his cinch.
“ That dam won’t hold much longer. Those trees need to be pulled out of there today.” Johnny said.
“ Let’s go back to the ranch and get more men and equipment. We loose that dam and a lot of grazing land will be washed out. Lancer can’t afford to loose the grazing land below.” Scott said as he went to his horse, tightened his cinch and mounted up, reining south as Johnny swung up in his saddle.
Murdoch came out of the house at the sound of galloping horses entering the yard. Seeing that it was his two sons, he immediately knew something was wrong.
Johnny told him what he found as he jumped off Barranca.
“ Damn,…….Hank.” Murdoch called as he headed toward the barn.
Teresa came out of the house. “ Johnny, what’s wrong?”
Johnny told her before leading Barranca to the barn.
“ Hank, I want you and three more men mounted with ropes and pulleys……Three trees are blocking the dam. Johnny says it’s going to collapse soon.”
“ He’s a gunfighter, he doesn’t know……….”
“ Hank……I suggest you stop right there……..Johnny says the dam is going to collapse………his past has nothing to do with this. I will not have you or any other man second guessing either of my sons………..Now if you want to keep your job you will do what you are told, when you are told and by whoever tells you. Is that clear?”
“ Yes sir, I meant do disrespect to your son sir……..Johnny, I’m sorry.” Hank said.
Johnny ignored him, knowing Hank didn’t mean his apology as he started to unsaddle Barranca. “ I need another horse, he’s played out.”
“ Take whatever one you like son.” Murdoch said as he saddled his own mount.
Three hours later Johnny and Scott stood in the raging water securing ropes to the last biggest downed tree. Murdoch, Hank and Cipriano waited on their horses ready to pull after the boys got out of the water.
“ I think that’s got it brother.” Johnny said.
“ Yeah, lets make our way out of this water.” Scott added.
Slipping several times, the brothers made there way to solid ground, soaked all the way through.
“ Okay, lets take it slow and easy.” Murdoch said.
“ Watch your horse doesn’t slip or panic and rear up, dropping you in the river Hank.” Johnny said.
“ Just stay out of the way, I know how to handle a horse boy.” Hank snapped as he kicked his horse causing the animal to yank on the rope and rear up.
Johnny lunged and grabbed Hank and yanked him off his horse then went to calming the animal down.
“ You dumb sonofabitch.” Johnny yelled. “ You want to get yourself killed fine, but you’re not risking my old mans life or anyone else’.”
Hank made his second mistake after standing up, going for his gun. “ You halfbreed……..”
Johnny turned and drew his colt so fast, it startled the other men.
“ You’ve made two mistakes…….Scott take the rope off his horse.” Johnny said as he kept his gun aimed at Hank. “ I want you off Lancer land, and don’t you ever come back…….You do and I promise you that the way you’ll leave will be laying across that saddle.”Johnny said coldly.
“ You don’t tell me what to do boy……….I don’t work for you.” Hank snapped back with anger.
“ Yes you do, Johnny is a Lancer and you work for Lancer. “ Murdoch said as he pulled his wallet out. “ You have a weeks wages coming to you.” he added as he pulled six dollars out and handed it to him. “ No man works for me or my sons who refuses to do what he’s told.”
Hank stood there, not moving, glaring at the business end of Johnny’ colt.
“ Johnny, son, let him go……. Please.” Murdoch asked, seeing the deadly side of his son for the first time.
“ I see you on Lancer land ever again.” Johnny said with coldness in his voice as he stepped closer to Hank. “ And I promise you, we will finish this.”
Hank slowly walked past Johnny and got on his horse and rode east.
Scott stepped over to his brother and cautiously placed a hand on his shoulder.
“ We got a tree to remove little brother. Are you ready?” he asked.
Johnny slid the colt back in his holster and turned, looking hard at his father.
“ It’ll only get worse with me here.” he told the patriarch.
“ Lancer cuida lo suyo.” Cipriano interrupted. ( Lancer takes care of it’s own.)
“ Veamos si él o alguien más se siente así cuando alguien viene disparándome.”(Let’s see if him or anyone else feels that way when someone comes gunning for me.) Johnny said, never taking his eyes off his father.
“ I’ll kill any man who comes on Lancer land trying to kill you son……….I lost you once…….I would like that to not happen again.” Murdoch answered.
“ We’ll see.” Johnny said as he went to his horse and led it over and took up the rope Hank’ horse had. “ Let’s get this damn tree out of there. I’m tired of being all wet.”
Murdoch rode next to Johnny on the way back to the ranch. “ You said you weren’t wanted, why would someone come gunning for you son?” he asked finally.
“ I wondered when you’d get around to asking me that old man. You mean you didn’t figure it out from those Pinkerton reports you got on me?” Johnny answered back.
“ What those reports say and what is the truth are two different things…..You will find that I like knowing the truth son, not what I consider to be gossip.”
“ Fair enough I guess. It’s simple really. You see, as long as Johnny Madrid the gunfighter is alive, there will always be some fool come looking for me and call me out.”
“ Why?” Scott asked riding up on Murdoch’ right side.
“Money, they can’t get the highest paying jobs as long as I’m alive, that and the one who does kill me will have my reputation.”
“ I killed men in the war, fighting for freedom, I have trouble seeing a man being killed just for his reputation.” Scott stated. “ Whatever happened to the code of the west?”
“ Yeah well, this is the code of the west. You gotta do it to them, before they do it to you.” Johnny answered.
“ How old were you when……….” Murdoch started.
“ What, when I killed my first man?”
“ No, when your mother died, how old were you?”
Johnny stopped his horse, Maria was one thing he didn’t want to remember, especially her death.
“ Don’t ever ask me again about her.” he ordered before kicking his horse and galloping off.
“ Damn it. I knew I shouldn’t have asked him that.” Murdoch vented as he watched his youngest son gallop away.
“ Personally sir, I think you should refrain from asking him anything about his past. At least not until you two know each other better.”
“ I know son. It’s just that I want to know about Maria. I only knew her a short time before she stole your brother from me.” Murdoch answered with a trace of sadness to his voice.
“ Does Johnny know she was pregnant before the two of you got married?” Scott asked.
Murdoch stopped his horse and looked at him. “ I don’t know son. Why do you ask?”
“ Well sir, from the little time we have been around Johnny, I think that if he knew that, he might think that that was the only reason you married her.”
“ Our courtship was short, yes, but her being pregnant was not the only reason.”
“ So the two of you courted, you took her to bed and Johnny is a result of that. Personally I think my little brother, if he finds that out, is going to have issues with it. Especially since it happened not long after my mother passed.”
“ I loved your mother dearly son. I didn’t plan on what happened between me and Maria to happen,but it did,and I have no regrets about it. She was a beautiful woman whom I thought when I brought her to Lancer as my wife would be happy here.”
“ So you never seen that she wasn’t?”
“ No I didn’t. I guess I was too busy with building this ranch up to see she wasn’t son. That first year after Johnny was born, we took him everywhere with us. We would ride out to the lake on Sunday after church and have a picnic. I would ride Johnny around with me.”
“What was he like?”
“ Your brother, when he started walking, was always slipping outside to be with me. Sometimes Maria would get upset. I think his first word spoken was horse……..he would come out to me with his arms in the air wanting to ride……I remember one time he had got out of the house after dark and Maria was frantic. We searched every inch of the inside of the house. Finally I went out to the barn and found him fast asleep in a stall with this old draft horse mare. She was laying down in her stall and your brother was curled up next to her asleep. That mare just looked at me when I stepped in to get him and then laid her head down and went back to sleep.”
“ Maybe you should tell Johnny this sometime. I’m sure he’d like to hear about his life here.”
“ Maybe I will son. If the time is right, maybe I will.”
Johnny galloped into the yard and was met by Teresa, jumping down he took her in his arms and hugged her.
“ You are soaking wet Johnny.” she said.
“ Yeah………I won’t be for long though.”
“ Go take care of your horse and I’ll have a hot bath run for you and fresh clothes waiting.”
“ Only if you join me querido.” Johnny said with a grin.
“ How about we wait until the bedroom?” Teresa said
“ I’m gonna make love to you all night. Tasting every inch of you with my tongue girl.” Johnny told her as Scott and Murdoch rode into the yard. “ Be ready.” he said before turning and taking his horse to the barn.
“ Teresa.” Scott said as he swung down.
“ Well, I can sure see who played in the water. You are just as wet as Johnny is Scott.”
“ Yeah, ranching is a dirty job.” he answered. “ All I want right now is a hot bath and dry clothes.”
“ I’ll have a bath drawn up for you in your room will you take care of your horse. Do you want one as well Murdoch?”
“ Me, no darling, I didn’t get in the water. My two sons wouldn’t allow it. I’ll just wash up before supper.”
“ Okay, me and Maria made up a stew since we didn’t know when you would be back.”
“ Stew is fine darling.”
“ Patron, I will take care of your horse.” Cipriano said as he took the reins.
“ Thank you Cipriano.”
Scott watched his brother and how meticulous he was about grooming his stallion and how the stallion would toss his head when Johnny would talk to him.
“ Teresa and Maria made stew for supper tonight.” Scott said as he pulled his saddle off and put it on the stall rail.
“ Sounds good. I could use something hot.” Johnny responded.
“ You sure do spoil that stallion.” Scott said with a grin.
“ He’s a good horse. I take care of him, and he takes care of me.” Johnny said as he pulled an apple out of his saddlebags and gave it to the stallion. “ I’m gonna go get cleaned up now. I’ll see ya at supper.”
Johnny entered through the back door and found Teresa alone in the kitchen. Walking up behind her, he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her back into him as he pressed his manhood into her.
“ Let’s go to bed early tonight?” he asked as he ran his tongue up and down her neck.
“ Maria went home already, Scott and Murdoch are in eating now. Go sit down and eat some stew.”
“ Yeah, I’m gonna need my strength to make love to you all night………..You gonna come in and eat with me?”
“ I’m not really hungry, but I’ll come sit with you.” Teresa answered.
“ Are you feeling okay?” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah, I’m fine.” she said as she turned and wrapped her arms around his waist, pulling him into her.
“ You keep that up and I may forget about eating supper all together and just take you to bed and ravish your body.”
“ Promises, promises.” Teresa said with an ornery grin.
Johnny claimed her mouth, delving his tongue deep with hunger.
“ Uh, am I interrupting?” Scott asked with a sheepish grin.
“ Kinda.” Johnny said.
“ What do you need Scott?” Teresa asked as she moved away from Johnny.
“ Well, our father was wondering if the two of you where going to join us for supper?”
“ Yes Scott, we will be in there in a minute.” she told him.
“ Okay, uh Johnny, you might want to cool it a little when not in your bedroom. Our father isn’t happy and well, let’s just say you’re lucky it was me who walked in here, finding the two of you like I did and not him.”
“ Yeah, whatever…….Shall we go eat. Don’t want to keep the old man waiting.” Johnny said as he took a hold of Teresa’ hand.
“ Johnny, he really didn’t mean to make you angry when he asked you about your mother earlier.” Scott said sincerely. “ He only knew her a short time. He wasn’t prying into your personal past.”
“ My past ain’t none of his business. Especially about my mother.” Johnny said firmly.
“ I think we should go eat now.” Teresa stated as she led Johnny to the dining room.
“ Johnny, why don’t you go into town tomorrow and get the supplies for fixing the foot bridge?”
“ I haven’t showed you what we need to fix it.” Johnny responded.
“ Son, I trust you know what is needed and don’t need me to check over what you wrote down.”
“ Okay.” Johnny answered, a little surprised that his father was trusting him totally with the supplies.
“ I have an account at the hardware store in Green River. You should be able to get everything you need there.”
“Okay.” Johnny said as he put his right arm around Teresa.
“ Teresa, that was a very good stew. Thank you.” Murdoch said as placed his napkin on his plate.
“ Yes, and the biscuits were great as usual.” Scott added.
“ Well, shall we retire to the grand room for a drink?” Murdoch asked as he stood up.
“ I think me and Teresa are going to turn in.” Johnny said.
“Alright son. What you did this afternoon with your brother was hard work. Thank you.”
“ For what, risking my life, or getting Hank fired?”
“ I am not mad at you for Hank, son. The man put us all at risk not listening to you.” Murdoch stated firmly.
“ Yeah, well, me and Teresa are going to bed. I’ll see ya in the morning.”
Johnny followed Teresa into their bedroom and shut the door before starting to undo his silver conch belt.
“ So did you find what you needed for us to get married today?” he asked as went over and sat down on the bed to remove his boots.
“ Yes I did. Murdoch bought me a beautiful wedding dress.” she answered as she let her dress fall down around her ankles and stepped out of it.
Johnny licked his lips as he stood up and undid his pants. “You know, you standing there like that, with just your undergarments on, makes me want you all the more lady.”
“ Oh is that so?” Teresa asked with mischief in her voice.
“ I love you Teresa. I can’t wait until your belly swells with our child.” he told her as he rubbed it slowly an hour later.
“Will you love me in six months when I’m big and fat?” Teresa asked him.
“ Always, not matter how big you get……………wait a minute. What do you mean in six moths?”
“ What do you think I mean Johnny?” she asked as she rolled over to face him.
Teresa smiled as she ran her right hand over his cheek. “ I’m pregnant Johnny. I’m going to have our baby.”
“ You mean it, Really?” Johnny asked as a smile grew on his face.
“ Yes, I’m sure. Course I know I’ll need to see Sam, but I’m sure my love.”
“You can go with me tomorrow, nobody will have to know, not till you want them to.”
“ Okay, I want to be farther along before we tell them…….In the mean time, would you make love to me again?”
“ Querida, I’m going to make love to you all night.” Johnny told her before claiming her mouth as his left hand slid down and stopped over her stomach where he knew that in a short time he would get to feel his child moving inside her.
Johnny stopped the wagon in front of the hardware supply in Green River the next morning and set the break. A baby. The woman he loved was carrying his child. The child of Johnny Madrid, something he never thought he would have. He was glad the doctors office and house were on the edge of town, nobody seen him stop and let Teresa off before heading on in. Jumping down onto the walkway, Johnny untied the rope on the harness of the right horse and secured it to the post. After tipping his hat to a couple of ladies walking past, Johnny headed into the hardware.
“ So you’re Murdoch’ youngest boy huh?” the store owner Buck Cannon asked as he set a box of nails down in the wagon. “ Boy howdy, I sure would’ve liked to have seen the look on Murdoch’ face when you came home Johnny.”
Johnny just listened to the man ramble on. Not one for talking, especially to strangers, Johnny put the last of the lumber in the wagon.
“ Well that’s everything on your list Johnny. Tell Murdoch I send my regards would you?”
“ Yeah, sure.” Johnny said as he headed to the front of the wagon and started to climb up.
“ Hey Johnny.” Buck called as he walked to Johnny’s side. “ Listen,a lot of people in the valley, well they know who you used to be……..you know, Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter………well I just want you to know that a lot of us don’t hold that against you none.” he stated as he held out his hand.
Johnny looked at the mans hand a second before extending his own. “ Lets see how many still feel that way when I get called out in the street and gun a man down.” Johnny said before turning and climbing up in the wagon and releasing the brake.
“ The people of Green River really are good folks. You just gotta get to know them is all Johnny.”
“ Yeah, I’ll see ya mister Cannon.” Johnny said as he slapped the reins, headed back to Sam’.
Walking in the doctors office a few minutes later, Johnny pushed his hat back off his head to hang between his shoulders by the stampede strap.
“Johnny, that you?” Sam asked from the back.
“ Yeah doc, it’s me.” Johnny answered.
“ Why don’t you come on back.” Sam suggested.
Johnny walked down the hall to the last room on the right and looked inside.
“ Come on in Johnny.” Sam said with a smile. “ I’m all done examining Teresa.”
Johnny walked over and kissed Teresa on the forehead. His gut told him she was, but he would wait and let the doctor or his soon to be wife confirm the news.
“ Well young man.” Sam started. “ I expect you would like to know if what Teresa said is true?”
Johnny just gave a slight nod as he sat down on the bed next to Teresa.
“ Well, I’m happy to say that in about seven months, you are going to be a father my boy. Congratulations.”
Johnny let a smile come to his face as he hugged Teresa, pulling her into his side.
“ Sam, we don’t want anyone else to know about this just yet.” Johnny finally said.
“ Johnny, I don’t go around discussing my patients with others. That includes with your family.”
“ Thanks Sam…..How much do I owe ya?” Johnny asked as he helped Teresa down off the bed.
“ Nothing. Starting my day off like this is the best payment you could give me John.” Sam told him.
“ Teresa, Remember what I said about the first part of your pregnancy and what I don’t want you doing.”
“ I will Sam.” Teresa answered.
“ What? What can she not do Sam?” Johnny asked.
“ Sam doesn’t want me riding or lifting anything to heavy.” Teresa answered before Sam could.
“ Now I’m going to give you a powder I want you to mix up and drink if the morning sickness gets to be too much for you.”
“ Morning sickness?”
“ Yes Johnny, Teresa will be nauseated in the mornings. It’s nothing to be concerned about. Every pregnancy has it for the first few months. Rarely does it last past the fourth month.” Sam said as he handed Teresa the medicine. “ I’ll want to examine you again next month.”
“ Doc, when will she start showing?”
“ Well, let’s see, you’re around two months now. I’d say noticeable to others in another two months.”
“ When will I start feeling the baby move around Sam?” Teresa asked as she wrapped her shawl around her.
“ Oh I’d say the baby should really start moving around at five or six months.” Sam said. “ Teresa, I’ve delivered many a babies. I delivered both of you in fact. Delivering this child is going to be very special to me.”
Teresa walked over and gave Sam a hug and kiss on the cheek. “Thank you Sam.”
Sam hugged her back. “ You two better get on out of here now. You have any problems or questions don’t hesitate to send for me or ask, understand?………Especially you Johnny. This is going to be hard on both of you, this being her first child and all. You’re going to see Teresa’ body go through a drastic change. Some days she’ll not want to get out of bed, she could be moody………”
“ Moody?…..What do you mean by that Sam?” Johnny asked.
“ Sad, crying, angry…….she could also crave things she normally wouldn’t eat.” Sam told him as he went to his book shelf. “ Here. Why don’t the two of you read this. It’ll help answer a lot of your questions and also let you know what to expect as your pregnancy progresses.” Sam said as he handed the book to Teresa. “ That was written by a woman back east who has given birth to seven children.”
“ Thanks again Sam.” Johnny said as he extended his hand.
“ You know, I’d sure love to know how Murdoch takes this when you tell him. Scott too.” Sam said as he shook Johnny’ hand.
“ Probably not too good at first.” Johnny answered.
“ Finding out he’s going to be a grandfather, why wouldn’t he take the news good?” Sam asked.
“ Because we ain’t married yet Sam. He hasn’t been to keen on us being together as it is….Now me getting her with child before we’re married.”
“ Johnny, you’re to hard on yourself. You need to cut yourself some slack. Your father too. He really does care about and love you.” Sam stated.
“Guess I did what he did to my mother……Got her pregnant with me and they weren’t married, but at least I’m marrying you because I love you, and not because I have to.” Johnny said before kissing Teresa’ forehead as he reached to open the door to leave.
“ Johnny, just because your mother got pregnant before they were married, doesn’t mean Murdoch didn’t love her.”
“ Yeah, he can’t have a bastard child running around ruining his good name. We’ll see ya Sam, thanks again for everything.”
Sam stepped outside with them, his heart saddened a little that Murdoch’ youngest would think the way he was about his father.
“ You get everything you need son?” Murdoch asked as he walked up to the wagon as Johnny jumped down and walked around to help Teresa down.
“ Yeah……..Cannon sends his regards.” Johnny said as he walked to the back of the wagon.
“ The hands can get that son,why don’t the two of you come in the house. I’d like to talk to you about something.”
Johnny looked at the man, studying his eyes. “ Not if you’re gonna ask me about my mother.” he said finally.
“ No, no son, I’m not.” Murdoch responded,a little surprised his son would think that’s what he wanted. “ Listen Johnny, as much as I would like to know about your mother, I will respect your not wanting to talk about her, but if you ever do son,I promise you, I’ll listen and it will not make me put judgment on you……….You have my word on that.” Murdoch said as he placed a hand on his youngest upper left arm.” I would like to talk to you two about the wedding.”
Johnny put his right arm around Teresa and gave her a gentle squeeze as the three started toward the house.
“ I would like to think I’m getting to know my youngest son better on what he likes and doesn’t.” Murdoch said as he poured some scotch. “ I know you don’t know many people in the valley yet son and Teresa being raised here her whole life, I think she will agree on the few people I would like to attend the wedding will not pose a threat to you in any way son.”
Johnny looked from Teresa to Murdoch. “ It’s what she wants that matters the most to me. I don’t care what people think of me.” Johnny said as he walked over to pour a shot of tequila. “Teresa’ happiness is all that matters to me. It’s her day.”
“ Johnny, it’s your day too. I don’t want you feeling uncomfortable on our wedding day.” Teresa said as she walked over to him and put her right arm around his waist.
“ Son, can I ask you a question and you not get angry at me for it?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah.” Johnny answered.
“ Do you know how a wedding goes son?”
“ Some, I mean I’ve never attended one, but I know the two people getting hitched stand before a preacher.”
“ Yes, yes they do, after the father of the bride walks her down the isle to her future husband. The groom, you, stands up by the preacher with his best man if he has one.”
“ Best man?” Johnny cut in.
“ Yes, someone close to the groom usually. He holds the rings for the bride and groom until it’s time to put them on each others wedding finger.”
“ Don’t know anyone to be a best man but Boston. Reckon he would do it for me?” Johnny asked.
“ I’m sure your brother would be honored to be your best man son.”
“ Murdoch, you’ll walk me down the aisle wont you?” Teresa asked, giving him a smile as she walked over to him.
“ I would love to darling. You’re like a daughter to me anyway.” Murdoch said as he hugged her. “ Now, about a date. Have you two decided when you wanted to get married?”
Teresa looked at Johnny. Being with child she knew it would be a matter of time before she started showing.
A month had past, and the ranch got busier every day as the wedding day approached. Scott watched his new found little brother, and how he was with Teresa, loving and caring, finding it hard to believe his little brother was the same man so many feared on both sides of the border. Even with all his education, Scott couldn’t understand how a person who could be so cold and deadly, yet also be so kind and caring.
“ You know Johnny?” Scott said as the two bedded down their horses for the night. Noticing his brother just glanced at him and continued to brush the golden stallion, he continued. “ You are a mystery, Johnny.”
Johnny stopped and walked out of Barranca’ stall and over to him. With a slight smile he asked. “ Yeah, mystery about what?”
Scott walked over to him after putting his brush away. “ You’re feared by men on both sides of the border, yet I watch you with Teresa, that spoiled horse of yours, and others, and I see a kind, loving, caring person……I don’t see the deadly killer everybody fears.”
“That’s simple Boston.” Johnny said as he stepped closer. “ I only show my Madrid side when I need him………and trust me, you’ll know when I do.”
“ I don’t doubt that.” Scott answered. “ You know, I hate that all these years I’ve had it easy, when you, you had to turn to that colt just to survive………Hell Johnny the worst thing I had to worry about was not pleasing my grandfather. You, you had so much more.”
“ Look Scott, it ain’t no big deal……I did what I had to do below the border to stay alive…. Sure I was hell bent to make a reputation for myself back then, but now that I got it, I’d give anything to change that…….To have grown up here at Lancer, and not have had my mother steal me away and tell me lies about the old man like she did. It’s in the past though, water under the bridge I believe you said once.” Johnny said as he put an arm around his big brother. “ Look, I’m getting married in a week to a beautiful woman. I have a father I’m getting to know more and more every day, and a big brother I would give my life for. I’m a third owner of the biggest cattle ranch in California. My life is almost complete.”
“ Almost?” Scott inquired as the two headed toward the house.
“ Yeah almost. I figure when my past can stay my past, then my life is complete.” Johnny answered.
“ You mean when you don’t have to wear that any more?” Scott asked as he pointed to the colt on his brothers hip.
“ You know Boston, I do believe you are a smart person.” Johnny said teasingly with a slap to his brothers stomach.
“ Well It’s nice to know you think that little brother.”Scott said back with a smile as he put his brother in a head lock and rubbed his head.
The big day finally arrived. Lancer was buzzing, getting ready for Johnny and Teresa’ wedding. Half a steer was cooking over a pit. Decorations were being hung over the yard near the house. Tables were set up near the veranda, some with crystal punch bowls, china dishes, fine silverware and crystal glasses.
Aggie Conway and her fiance Buck Addison stood talking with the Lancer patriarch,Murdoch Lancer. Aggie and Murdoch’ friendship went back many years. Every year at the local horse auction, Aggie and Murdoch would bid against each other for the best horses. Last year Aggie didn’t show up at the auction and Murdoch, concerned rode to her ranch. It was then he learned of her engagement to Buck. At the auction the Clarkston stables had brought four prime cutting horses, Murdoch knew Aggie wanted, but she pulled the wool over his head and sent a hand to do her bidding. By doing this, Aggie was able to acquire the four horses for a measly hundred and fifty dollars. Standing there reflecting back on that day, Murdoch wrapped an arm around Aggie and hugged her.
“ I think if we ever stop competing against each other at the yearly auction, the town folk would be upset.”
“ Most of the people that go to that auction, go just to watch the two of you.” Buck stated.
All three shared a laugh at that.
“ I think I will go check on the bride to be.” Aggie said.
Teresa smiled as she walked arm in arm with the man who raised her. Her dress, a beautiful blue with white lace trim around the sleeves that came down to her knuckles and around the bottom of the dress. She had a white lace veil over her head and face. A small bouquet of roses in her left hand.
Scott stood watching his little brother with a smile on his face. The short time he’s known him, he’s both come to love and respect him for all he’s done, who he was, but mostly for who he is now. His little brother who was forced into manhood longtime ago, and it was that man, Johnny is now who was about to take a beautiful bride.
Murdoch watched his youngest son as he walked arm in arm toward him with the beautiful young lady he had raised as his own daughter. Pride swelled inside as he thought about the future. A future he hoped would include grandchildren running around the big estancia.
Teresa smiled as she walked up and took her place next to the man she had come to love. The man, Johnny Madrid Lancer who in just a short time, had managed to sweep her off her feet and show her what love is. The man who’s child was now growing inside her.
Only a select few of Murdoch’ neighbors where invited to the wedding. Aggie Conway and her future husband Buck Addison, Jake Mendoza and his wife Luicia and Charlie Poe and his wife Martha.
Johnny couldn’t stop his right hand from shaking as he slipped the small gold wedding ring he’d bought on his beautiful brides delicate finger.
“ Teresa, I promise with all my heart to love you and only you until my dying breath.”
Teresa had tears of joy running down her face as she slid the matching gold wedding ring on her husbands finger.
“ Johnny, I promise I will be the best wife and mother to our children that I can be.”
“ By the power of god on this twelfth day of August Eighteen seventy two I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.” the minister said.
Johnny lifted the white veil and gently claimed his now brides lips.
“ Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Johnny and Teresa Lancer.”
Scott slapped his brother on the back. “ Congratulations brother.”
“ Thanks Scott.” Johnny answered as he held his new bride close.
“Congratulations son. May I kiss the bride?” Murdoch asked as he walked up and shook his sons hand.
“ Thanks.” Johnny answered.
Murdoch hugged his daughter in law as he placed a kiss on her forehead. “ You are so beautiful. Your father would be proud.”
“ I know. Thank you for all you’ve done for me.” Teresa said with a smile.
“ I expect lots of grandchildren to chase around this big house.” Murdoch said with a smile.
Teresa looked at Johnny and smiled. “ We’ll do our best.”
Everyone was dancing, laughing and having a good time. The weather was perfect for August, not to hot.
“ Right now I’m the luckiest man on earth.” Johnny said as he held Teresa close as they danced. “ I love you so much Mrs Teresa Lancer.” he said with a smile.
“ And I love you Johnny Lancer.” she answered before kissing him firmly on the lips.
“ Johnny Madrid.” a voice called out. “ Let’s see just how good you are Madrid.” Hank yelled as he stepped out away from the side of the barn. “ I’m going to kill me a half breed, and on his wedding day I see.”
Johnny stopped dancing and turned toward the voice. “ Aggie take Teresa inside please.” he asked as he gently pushed her away from him.
“ Johnny no, my place is with you.” Teresa begged as Aggie took her arm and guided her away.
“ Hank, I promise you, you won’t get away with this.” Murdoch stated as he stepped closer to his youngest.
“ You can turn around and ride out of here alive Hank, right now.”Johnny said. “ I got no more quarrel with you.”
“ Maybe not, but I got one with you.” Hank answered back. “ I ain’t letting no half breed who thinks he’s a gunfighter tell me what to do.” Hank said before he spat chew on the ground, juice running down his chin. “ You know, I could’ve killed you anytime I wanted, but I decided what better day for you to die than on your wedding day.”
A rifle being cocked could be heard. “ Unbuckle your gunbelt real slow like Hank.” Scott ordered as he kept the Henry rifle aimed at the man.
“ This is between me and him, not you Scott……….or does he need you fighting his battles for him?”
“ Stay out of this brother.” Johnny said firmly, never taking his eyes off Hank.
Scott looked at his father, then brother. “ Alright Johnny, but I promise you that if for some reason he does kill you……”
“ I know.” was all johnny answered as he just stood there calm. Inside he prayed this didn’t happen, not on his wedding day, not in front of these people who had never seen Johnny Madrid in action, especially not in front of his new bride. Married only a couple of hours, Johnny prayed his unborn child wouldn’t grow up fatherless.
Hank stepped to within thirty feet of Johnny and stopped. His right hand out from his side, fingers flexing. “ You ready to die Madrid?” Hank asked, then he made that fatal mistake that all before him had done just before he felt the bullet slam into his chest, spinning him around dead before he hit the ground face first.
Johnny seen the sign he watched for right before an opponent went for his gun. Faster than ever, he drew, fanned the hammer back as he pulled the trigger just once, his bullet hitting it’s mark hard, spinning the man around. He knew Hank was dead before he hit the ground. Johnny stood there a few seconds before sliding the colt back in it’s holster Just as Teresa ran to him.
“ Johnny, Johnny are you okay?” she asked as she hugged him.
“ I’m fine…..I just need to be alone a bit…….I’m sorry.” he said before kissing her on the forehead then walking toward the barn.
“ Teresa, let’s let him be for a spell. He won’t leave you darling.” Murdoch said a she wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
‘No, my place is with him. He needs me right now more than ever. He shouldn’t be alone right now.” she said before heading to the barn.
“She’s right sir. Johnny shouldn’t be alone right now.” Scott said.
“ Damn that man. Why. Why can’t that boy be left alone?” Murdoch vented.
“ Because he’s a gunfighter, and a damn good one, the best of his kind they say.” Buck Addison stated.
“ My son is not a gunfighter anymore. He’s my son, a rancher and husband.” Murdoch defended.
“Do you really think that that boy can live in this valley and not be called out because of his past Murdoch? He’s a gunfighter and he always will be.”
“ Buck, that’s enough.” Aggie cut in. “ Johnny deserves a chance at a life here in this valley as Murdoch’ son. He deserves a chance to not have to live by his gun anymore.”
“ And just how many innocent people will get hurt or killed because of him being in this valley, Aggie? You just seen him gun a man down. How many more will there be?”
“ Buck, I suggest you stop right there. Aggie is a dear sweet friend, and it’s because of the love and respect I have for her that I don’t ……..”
“ Do this.” Scott cut in right as he hit Buck hard in the mouth knocking him down. “ Nobody….and I mean nobody talks about my little brother like that…….You got that?” Scott demanded as he stood over Addison, fist clenched.
“ Mark my word Lancer, that boy is nothing but a killer, and more men will come to this valley to try and kill him.” Buck responded as he stood up. “ Let’s go Agatha.”
Teresa found her husband grooming his prized golden stallion Barranca like she knew she would.
“ You should be out there with our guest.” Johnny said softly.
“ I would rather be in here with my husband who needs me right now.” she answered as she stepped into the stallions stall with him.
“ Why today? Of all the days for him to call me out, why today?” Johnny said with some anger to his voice.
“ It’s okay Johnny. It wasn’t your fault.” Teresa said as she stepped up to him.
“ I love you Teresa. I’m so sorry this happened on our wedding day.”
“ Johnny, I love you and I’m just thankful you’re still here to see your first child be born and help me raise him…..or her.”
“ Are you sure you can handle that? I mean, he won’t be the last to call me out. There will be others.” Johnny said.
“ Can you accept what just happened out there, because it will happen again.” Johnny said.
“ I knew when I fell in love with you Johnny, what the risk would be, and I told you, I will cherish every second I have with you.” Teresa responded.
“ My wedding day, and I couldn’t even feel safe enough to not wear this.” Johnny said as he pulled the colt out. “ What kind of man wears a gun on his wedding day.”
Teresa stepped over to Johnny. “ A man who just wants to live, and watch his child grow up. A man I want to grow old with.”
“ Johnny.” Scott said as he walked into the barn. “ Are you alright?” he asked as he walked over to them.
“ Thanks Boston, for being there to back me up.” Johnny said.
“ Your welcome. That’s what brothers do.” Scott responded.
“ What happened to your hand?” Johnny asked.
“ I’m afraid I didn’t like what someone was saying about my little brother.” Scott responded.
“ Buck Addison I bet.” Johnny said.
“ I do believe my new sister-in-law still owes me a dance! You feel like coming back to your wedding reception?” Scott asked.
“ You mean nobody left?” Johnny asked.
“ Just Addison. He tried to get Mrs Conway to leave with him, but she stayed.” Scott responded.
“ You feel like dancing with my brother?” Johnny asked.
“ It will be a pleasure dancing with Scott.” Teresa answered.
Johnny walked into the grand room and found his father sitting at his desk going over the monthly expense report.
“ Murdoch, I found a dead steer in the south mesa pasture.” Johnny said.
Murdoch put the expense ledger down he was going over. “ Do you know what killed it son?”
“ Yeah, it was shot.” Johnny responded. “ Whoever did it though, did us a favor. Seems the steer had a broken left hind leg.”
“ Why didn’t one of the hands report it to us?” Murdoch demanded as he stood up.
“ I don’t think it was one of our hands that shot it. I checked around and found tracks from two riders. One is riding a horse with a bar shoe on the left front. Nobody that works for Lancer rides a horse with that kind of shoe. I figured I would take a ride into town in the morning and see if the blacksmith remembers making a shoe like that for anyone, and see if there’s been any strangers around.” Johnny said as he walked over and poured a shot of tequila.
“ Your brother has to go to Green River tomorrow. I’ll have him check at the blacksmiths there and swing back through Spanish Wells and ask there also.” Murdoch said.
“ You seen Teresa?” he asked.
“ She wasn’t feeling well. Said her stomach was upset, so she went to lay down for a while.” Murdoch answered.
“ I think I’ll go check on her before I clean up. Scott’s not back yet?”
“ No, not yet.” Murdoch answered. He had his suspicions for Teresa not feeling well since he had been through it with both Catherine and Maria, and deep down inside it pleased him knowing his son would be a father, and he would have a grandchild to spoil.
Johnny opened the door to their bedroom, walked in, and closed it quietly. Teresa lay on the bed on her right side sleeping in the middle of the bed. He couldn’t believe that in just four months the woman he loved would give him a child, his child. Something he never dreamed would happen.
Walking over, he sat down on the side of the bed and smiled as a pair of brown eyes opened and looked back at him.
“ Hi.” Teresa said.
“ Hi. Murdoch said you weren’t feeling well. Do you need Sam?” Johnny asked.
“ No.” Teresa said as she sat up. “ I’ve been laying here thinking.”
Johnny leaned over and kissed her gently on the lips. “ What about?”
“ Well, the baby is due in about four months. I’m not going to be able to hide my pregnancy much longer, I think we should tell Scott and Murdoch tonight.” Teresa responded.
“ We can if you want to. It’s up to you.” Johnny responded.
“ How was your day?” Teresa asked.
“ Okay, lonely without you.” Johnny said.
“ I’m going into Morro Coyo tomorrow, I can pick you up some peppermint if it will help settle your stomach.” Johnny suggested.
“ Thank you. Sam said it usually stops at four months, but I guess our child wants to be different.” Teresa said with a smile.
“ Have you felt the baby move yet?”
“ No, not yet. Help me up please.”
Johnny stood up and took her hands in his and pulled her up. Wrapping his arms around her. “ I love you so much. I never knew I could be this happy Teresa.”
“ Me either. I hate to say this, but if you had never been shot, we never would have met.”
“ Possibly.” Johnny said. “ You need anything?”
“ No. I’m going to go see if Maria needs any help with supper. You go ahead and go get cleaned up.”
Scott walked into the house and removed his hat and gun belt, hanging them on the stand by the front door next to his brothers.
“ Johnny’s back already?” he asked as he walked down into the grand room.
“ Yes. He came back about an hour ago. Seems he found a steer shot at south mesa pasture.” Murdoch responded. “ Seems it’s hind leg was broke and that whoever shot it, did us a favor.”
Scott walked over and poured a shot of whiskey and took a sip. “ I found tracks from two riders just off our property line. It would seem one of the riders is riding a horse with…….”
“ A bar shoe on the left front.” Johnny cut in as he walked into the room.
“ Yes, is that the tracks you found?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah, just off property, so whoever shot that steer, shot it with a rifle.” Johnny responded.
“ Is Teresa alright son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah. She’s helping Maria finish up supper. ” Johnny asked.
“ Scott, when you’re done at the bank, I want you to check with the blacksmiths in Green River and Spanish Wells tomorrow. See if they’ve made a shoe like that and can remember who it was. Also, see if there’s been any strangers around.” Murdoch requested.
“ Alright. If you will excuse me, I think I’ll go get cleaned up for supper.” Scott said before turning and heading upstairs.
Murdoch waited until Scott had gone upstairs.“ Johnny, I’m sorry. I’m going to visit Agatha tomorrow, I’ll see if she has a hand working for her riding a horse with that shoe. I’ll also ride over and see Jake Mendoza too.”
“ Uh Murdoch, me and Teresa have something we want to tell you, Scott,and Maria after super tonight.” Johnny said.
“ Okay son. Though I think I have a pretty good idea what it is.” Murdoch said with a smile.
“ You do huh, and just what would that be old man?” Johnny asked with a grin.
“ Lets just say, this old man as you like to call me, will be very happy to experience what I never got to do with your brother and got just a short time to experience with you.” Murdoch responded.
“ Don’t let on that you know. Teresa wants it to be a surprise.” Johnny responded. “ I never thought……..”
“ There you are. Is Scott back yet?” Teresa asked as she walked into the room. “ Did I interrupt something?”
“ Yeah, Scott’ back. He’s getting cleaned up.” Johnny responded.
“ No sweetheart, you didn’t interrupt anything.” Murdoch said.
“ Somethings wrong.” she said as she walked over to Johnny. “ What is it?”
“ Nothing you need to worry about.” Johnny said before giving her a kiss on the forehead.
“ Am I not your wife and a Lancer?” Teresa asked.
“I found a dead steer, it’s hind leg was broke, and someone had shot it.” Johnny responded.
“ Was it one of our hands?” Teresa asked.
“ We don’t think so, because nobody has said anything to any of us about it.” Johnny responded.
“ That ranch, Lancer, the one were we shot that steer, I was told they might hire us to work through the fall and winter. Man at the mercantile said they have some horses to round up, break and drive come spring to fill an army contract.” Sandy said. “ Said old man Lancer is a real good fella to work for.”
“ Winter coming and all. I guess we can ride out and see.” Joe responded.
“ Uh, Maria, would you sit down please. Me and Teresa have something we want to say, and we want you to hear it also.” Johnny said.
Maria sat down next to Scott. “ Por favor, dime que no te vas a ir?” Maria asked.( Please tell me you are not leaving )
“ No, we’re not leaving Lancer.” Johnny responded.
“ Maria, Scott, Murdoch, I’m going to have a baby.” Teresa said.
“ A baby! You mean I’m going to be an uncle?” Scott asked with a smile.
“ ¿Mi pequeño Juanito va a ser papá?” Maria asked as tears welled up in her eyes. ( My little Juanito is going to be a papa?)
“ In about four months.” Johnny said.
“ Muy pronto. Hay mucho que debemos hacer antes de que llegue el bebé.” ( So Soon. There is much we need to do before the baby comes.)
“ Murdoch, you’re being awful quiet. Aren’t you happy?” Teresa asked.
Murdoch stood up and walked around to her. “ I had my suspicions that might be what was wrong with you.”
“ You did. Why?” she asked as he gave her a hug.
“ I was married. Catherine and Maria went through the same thing. I’m happy for the both of you.” Murdoch said.
“ Congratulations little brother.” Scott said as he stood up.
“ Maria, are you alright?” Johnny asked.
“ Si, I am so happy for you both. A baby in the house again will be so nice.” Maria said.
“ I think this calls for a celebration drink.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Have you two thought of a name yet?” Scott asked as the walked over to the sideboard.
“ If it’s a girl we are going to call her Mary Elizabeth.” Teresa responded.
“ That’s a beautiful name Teresa.” Scott said. And if it’s a boy?”
“ If it’s a boy, I thought I would name him after his great grandfather Ian Lancer.” Johnny said. “ That’s is if it’s alright with you Murdoch?”
“ I would like that very much son. Thank you.” Murdoch said with a smile.
Excuse me. I think I’m going to go talk to Maria.” Johnny said.
“ He’s anxious to feel the baby move.” Teresa said.
“ I remember the first time I felt you move son. I was so happy. I couldn’t believe it. I can understand Johnny and what he’s going through.” Murdoch said.
“ We know people will probably talk, it’s pretty obvious I was pregnant before we married. We both talked about it, and decided that what others think or say doesn’t matter, because me and Johnny love each other, and that’s all that matters.” Teresa said.
“ You know, I believe I still have baby things packed away in the attic we had gotten for Scott and when Johnny was a baby. You two are more than welcomed to go up and look.” Murdoch said.
“ I’d like that Murdoch, thank you. That is if it’s alright with you Scott?”
“ I didn’t know you had anything still of my mothers!” Scott said.
“ I didn’t have the heart to get rid of any of it son. I guess I was hoping I would get you back and be able to use it.” Murdoch responded.
“ I can understand that. Teresa, if you want to use some of the baby stuff my father still has, you may.” Scott replied.
“ Thank you Scott. I would be honored to use it.” Teresa responded.
Johnny walked into the kitchen and found Maria standing at the sink, wiping her eyes.
“ María,¿ estás bien?” ( Maria, are you alright?)
“ Sí. Estoy muy feliz por ti y Teresa.” ( Yes. I am so happy for you and Teresa.)
“ Gracias. Nunca soñé que tendría la oportunidad de ser padre.” ( Thank you. I never dreamed I would ever have a chance to be a father.)
“Serás un bien padre. Espero que tengas un hijo y él crezca para ser una buena persona como su padre.” Maria said with joy. ( You will be a good father. I hope you have a son, and he grows up to be a good person like his father is.)
“ Realmente no lo logramos al principio. Claro que tampoco sabía que era un lancero. Los siento.” ( We didn’t really hit it off at first. Course I didn’t know I was a Lancer either. I’m sorry.)
“ Es bueno. Vas a estar con tu esposa. La vigilaré mientras trabajas. Ayudé a entregarte, y ahora puedo ayudar a entregar a tu bebé. Mi corazón está lleno de mucha felicidd. Todavía tengo la manta de bebé que hice. Lo guardé, esperando que algún día pudieras usarlo con tu bebé.” Maria said. ( It is good. You go be with your wife. I will watch over her while you work. I helped deliver you, and now I get to help deliver your baby. My heart is filled with much happiness.I still have the baby blanket I made you. I kept it, hoping that some day you would get to use it with your baby.)
“ Me sentiría honrado de usarlo mamacita. Gracias.” Johnny said before giving her a kiss on the cheek. ( I would be honored to use it mamacita.)
“ Tú ve, sé con tu familia. Es un momento de celebración.” ( You go, be with your family. It is a time of celebration.)
Johnny gave her a hug before walking back to the grand room.
Murdoch rode up to the Conway house and got down. Agatha walked out as he tied his horse.
“Murdoch, what a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting you.” Aggie said.
Murdoch stepped up on the porch. “ Agatha, it’s good to see you.”
“ I haven’t seen you since the wedding.” Aggie said. “Let’s go inside. I just made some fresh lemonade.” Aggie said as they walked into the house. “ Sit down. I’ll be right back.”
Murdoch removed his hat, and sat down on the couch. Once a week over the years he’s come to his oldest, dearest friends house to visit and have supper.
“ Here we go. Nice cold fresh lemonade.” Aggie said as she set the tray down and poured two glasses, handing one to Murdoch before sitting down in the blue chair across from him.
“ One of our steers was shot at south mesa. It seems it had broken a hind leg and it wasn’t a Lancer hand that shot it.” Murdoch explained.
“ And you have no idea who it was?” Aggie asked.
“ No, do you know if any of your hands ride a horse with a bar shoe?” Murdoch explained.
“ I don’t believe so. I’ll look around the barn and corrals and see if I see a track like that and let you know.” Aggie responded. “ How are Johnny and Teresa doing?”
“ Fine, just fine. I’m going to be a grandfather in about four months.” Murdoch stated.
“ You are. Oh Murdoch, that’s wonderful news. Wait a minute, four months, that means Teresa……….well that doesn’t matter. Is she alright? Does she need anything?” Aggie asked.
“ She’s fine. I had my suspicions with the way she’s been feeling in the mornings and tired in the afternoons.” Murdoch responded.
“ I bet Johnny is so happy.”
“ He is. Teresa said he’s getting impatient to feel the baby move.”
“ You still have all the things from when Johnny was a baby don’t you?” Aggie asked.
“ Yes. I told Teresa those things were up in the attic, and she was more than welcome to go up and look at them. Scott was a little surprised I still had some of his things his mother and I bought for him.” Murdoch responded.
“You mean you never told him before now?” Aggie asked.
“ To tell the truth, I completely forgot about it until last night.” Murdoch said. “ You know, just between you and me, I never thought any of this would happen. My wayward little boy coming home, let alone becoming a father.”
“ Which is more shocking?” Aggie asked.
“ In all honesty, my son becoming a gunfighter just to survive. I still have trouble accepting that.” Murdoch responded.
“ What happened at the wedding, that still bother you that Johnny had to kill that man?”
“ He tried everything he could to not kill that man. You were there, you seen it.” Murdoch responded.
“ Yes, but you didn’t answer my question. Does what happened at the wedding still bother you?” Aggie asked.
“ Yes. I can’t help but think that Teresa doesn’t realize what she has gotten into marrying Johnny. I don’t think she realizes he could be gunned down and her left a widow.”
“ Murdoch, don’t you think Johnny would have told her what could happen?” Aggie asked.
“ I don’t know. Those two……..the way they got involved, he seduced an innocent girl and got her pregnant before they were married.”
“ Didn’t you do the same thing with Johnny’s mother? I only ask that because it seems it’s okay for you to have done it, but not alright for Johnny. Am I wrong?”
“ No, I guess I see your point. Listen, I need to get going. I still need to ride over to Jake Mendoza’s place and ask him if any of his cattle have been shot.” Murdoch said as he stood up.
“ Jake Mendoza sold his place last week Murdoch. His wife’s health was getting worse so he sold out and moved to Colorado. I thought you knew.” Aggie told him as she stood up.
“ Do you know who bought it ?” Murdoch asked.
“ Why yes I do. I know the buyer very well.” Aggie responded. “ I bought his place Murdoch. I can use the extra land for grazing and water.”
“ It is good grazing and water.” Murdoch said as he walked out the front door.
“ Tell Johnny and Teresa they should come by for supper some time before the baby is born.” Aggie suggested.
“ I’ll do that.” Murdoch responded as he untied his horse and mounted up. “ I’ll see you Aggie.”
Johnny rode into Morro Coyo and stopped at the blacksmiths, dismounting as the owner came out of the barn.
“ Hey Johnny, Barranca got something wrong with a shoe?” Henry asked.
“ No. Henry, you haven’t had any request for a special shoe to be made recently have you?” Johnny asked.
“ Special shoe……..no, no I haven’t made any special shoes……..wait a minute, I completely forgot. Two weeks ago two men rode into town, one of them’ horse had a split starting on his left front hoof. I made a special shoe with a bar across the back to keep it from spreading out and splitting more. He was about like you are with Barranca with that horse of his. Big bay horse.” Henry said as he turned to go back in the barn.
Johnny got a sick feeling in his gut. “ What about the other rider, can you describe him?” Johnny asked as he followed Henry into the barn.
“ Never seen either man around here before. The other one was riding a big flashy paint. I ain’t never seen a horse like that one before. Right nice looking animal.”
“ Their names wouldn’t happen to be Joe and Sandy would they?”
“ Yeah, that’s what I heard them call each other. The bigger man, Joe, he seems to be the boss of the two.” Henry said.
“ You know if they’re in town now?” Johnny asked.
“ No, they were last night, but you missed them. They both rode out at dawn.”
“ Which way were they headed?” Johnny asked.
“ Southeast.” Henry responded.
“ Thanks Henry.” Johnny said as he took out a dollar coin and gave it to the man.
“ You don’t have ta pay me Johnny.” Henry said as he tried to refuse the coin.
“ Have a cold beer on me Henry.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle. “ I’ll see ya.”
Scott rode out of Spanish Wells at an easy pace neither blacksmith in Spanish wells or Green River remembered making a special bar shoe. Two riders approached him at a gallop, moving his horse to the side to let them pass as they slowed their horses down and stopped.
“ Howdy.” Joe said.
“ Hello, can I help you gentlemen with something?” Scott asked as his right hand rested on his colt.
“ We’re looking for the Lancer spread. We were told it might be hiring, but I’m afraid we may have gotten our directions wrong. You ever hear of it?” Joe asked.
“ Yeah, we heard Lancer might be hiring extra help.” Sandy said.
“ You heard wrong I’m afraid. I’m Scott Lancer. The only work you might be able to find around the valley would be fall branding, weaning and castration of calves.” Scott responded.
“ So Lancer isn’t hiring?” Joe asked.
“ I’m afraid not. We have a full crew.”
“ Well how do you like that Sandy, guess we heard wrong about a big spread like Lancer needing help. Sorry to have bothered you friend.” Joe said as he kicked his horse into a trot, followed by Sandy.
Scott waited and watched the two riders gallop off back toward Spanish Wells before dismounting and looking at the tracks. Seeing what he suspected, Scott mounted back up, kicking his horse into a gallop back to Lancer.
Johnny walked into the grand room and found Teresa sitting in the blue chair sewing.
“ Hello beautiful.” he said with a smile.
“ Johnny, you’re back early.” Teresa said as she put her sewing down and stood up.
Johnny wrapped his arms around her and hugged her. “ I got you some peppermint to help settle your stomach.”
“ Thank you.” Teresa said.
“ Murdoch and Scott not back yet?” he asked.
“ No, not yet.” Teresa responded.
“ Lucky for me then.” Johnny said as he kissed her.
“ Am I interrupting?” Scott asked as he walked into the room.
“ As a matter of fact, yes you are brother.” Johnny responded.
“ No you’re not Scott.” Teresa said.
“ I hope you had luck finding something out in Morro Coyo about that shoe brother.” Scott said.
“ As a matter of fact I did, Henry made the shoe. He told me about the two men, Seems the one is riding a flashy paint horse.”
“ Paint horse?” Scott cut in asking.
“ Yeah, the other one is riding a big bay. Why?”
“ I had two men approach me on the way home. They claimed they were looking for the Lancer ranch and got their directions wrong. Said they were told Lancer was hiring.” Scott responded as he walked over and poured a shot of whiskey and took a sip.
“ The one riding the paint, he have Sandy blonde hair and the other one curly black hair?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes.” Scott answered.
“ You know who they are son?” Murdoch asked.
“ I found out from Henry who they are.” Johnny said. “ I’ve heard mention of them down around the border a couple times. Joe, riding the big bay is a gunfighter only when he needs drinking money. Sandy wears a two gun rig that’s for show. Young kid with a rough past like me.”
“ So you know them?” Scott asked.
“ No, I don’t know them Scott. I said I heard mention of them down around the border.”
“ So why are they here?” Murdoch asked.
“ How the hell should I know. Maybe they’re just riding through looking for a job through winter.” Johnny snapped back.
“ I think you need to calm down and be a little more rational about this.” Teresa said firmly. “ It’s not Johnny’s fault they came here.”
“ Isn’t it?” Scott asked. “ Two men from his past show up here……..”
Johnny walked over to his brother. “ That’s my wife your talking to brother, so I suggest you keep your temper down…………….Let me tell you something…… all of you……… I made it very clear what could happen if I stayed here. I told you that men would come for me. You accepted that and asked me to stay here anyway,you said that you would face it with me. Yeah it’s my fault they’re here Scott. Just say the word and I’ll ride out of here and never come back.”
“ Johnny no, Lancer is your home.” Teresa cut in.
“ That’s right son. Lancer is your home. I lost you once, I don’t want to lose you again.” Murdoch added.
“ Look, I’m sorry. I was out of line. I never meant to say that. I don’t want you leaving. Teresa is right, Lancer is your home. It’s just that none of this makes any sense. You said men would come for you, that you would be called out because of this reputation these men want from you, yet these two are not calling you out.” Scott said.
“ Not all gunfighters play by the rules.”Johnny explained. “ And Scott, you meant to say what you did. Listen, I’m new at this brother thing just like you are. I don’t want you not saying something to me because you’re afraid it would upset me or hurt my feelings. I’ve been called everything you can imagine, you’ve seen my scars, so you know I’ve had horrible things done to me. I don’t want any of you to not say what’s on your mind to me.” Johnny said firmly.
“ Son, when you hired out to range wars…….”
“ I never worked a job with them. I only know what I know from hearing about them. Sandy has always had a thing for riding a flashy paint horse.” Johnny answered. “ Hell it might not even have been them.”
“ Johnny, I don’t want you leaving the house.” Teresa said.
“ She’s right. I want you staying close to the house son.” Murdoch added.
“ Wait a minute. I don’t hide from nobody, and I’m not about to start now.”
“ That was before you took on a responsibility.” Scott said.
“ Teresa knew the risk involved when we got involved. I have a responsibility to her and our baby yes, but I also have a responsibility to this ranch and everything on it. Ride into Spanish Wells and see if they are still around tomorrow. Tell them you were wrong. Tell them Lancer is hiring.”
“ Wait a minute Johnny.” Teresa cut in. “ There’s a chance they won’t come after what Scott has already told them, so why don’t he ask them to come to work rounding up wild horses? You yourself was planning on doing that next week weren’t you?”
“ Yeah that herd up at Black Mesa.” Johnny responded.
“ Alright then. In the mean time…….I need to discuss with you two monthly expenses of this ranch. With winter just a few months away, we need to start thinking about feed for the cattle through winter in case it’s bad. Right now, we don’t have enough money in the bank to feed all the cattle, so what I would like to propose is selling off the steers and older breeder cows.” Murdoch suggested.
“ You mean the ones that might not make it through if winter is hard?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes. We could start fresh with a couple new bulls and two year old’s in the spring.” Murdoch responded.
“ New blood would be better. They say cross breeding with Brahmans is working good in Texas. Makes the cow bigger and better.” Johnny said.
“ But at what cost of feed per cow son. Right now it’s taking roughly six pounds of feed per one pound of beef per cow. That’s a lot of feed to put out in the winter months.”
“ It also takes about eighteen hundred gallons of water per cow per pound of beef, unless we can find some other kind of feed to supplement.” Scott stated.
“ Unlike a horse, cows are nothing but trouble all tied up in a leather bag.” Johnny said with a smile.
“ That may be true son, but keep this in mind, as long as I’m alive, and I call the tune, Lancer will always be a working cattle ranch, not a horse ranch.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ I never said it wasn’t.” Johnny snapped back.
“ You know. If we grew a lot more feed and kept the cattle in a feedlot, it would benefit Lancer better. We’re already having to feed them when we take them to rail until they’re shipped. Why not do that right here on Lancer and then drive them to market when it’s time to ship them?” Scott asked.
“ Doing that would take to much money to build the pens and grow the feed.” Murdoch responded.
“ In other words brother, as long as he calls the tune, Lancer will never change with the times like other ranches.” Johnny said. “ We’ll always just be hired hands and not partners.” he added before heading outside.
“ When is that boy ever going to realize he is not a hired hand and start acting like a part owner of this ranch?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Maybe when you start treating him like one more.” Teresa said before heading outside to find her husband.
“ She’s right you know. You treat Johnny most of the time like a hired hand and not a partner.” Scott said. “ Johnny does almost twice as much work as me and the other hands, yet you never once bother to thank him for the hard work he does.”
“ I thank him.” Murdoch responded.
“ No sir. You say that’s good or don’t bother to say anything at all. Not once have you bothered to thank him.” Scott stated. “ If you will excuse me. I need to get cleaned up for supper.”
Teresa found Johnny sitting in the barn on a bale of hay. “ Why is it you always walk away instead of standing up to him Johnny?”
Johnny looked up at his wife. “ Why, so we can butt heads and get into a verbal fight?”
“ No, so he knows you’re more than a hired hand. Make Murdoch see you are a partner in this ranch Johnny. Trust me, he is a very stubborn man who sometimes needs someone to stand up to him. Kind of like my husband can be.” Teresa responded.
Johnny stood up and walked over to her. “ I’m sorry if what I said in there upset you.”
“ Johnny, I love you with all my heart, and I will always be there for you, but don’t you ever think you can get away with talking to me like that again. I knew the risk when I fell in love with you and I accepted those risk, but I will not stand by and let the man I love deliberately make himself a target.”
Johnny put his hands on her shoulders and ran them down her arms. “ I guess I’m still getting used to the fact I have someone who loves and cares about me.”
“ Yes you do.” Teresa responded before reaching up and pulling his head down to kiss.
Johnny started running his hands over her body, and around to her breast, squeezing gently as he kissed her with more passion as his hunger grew. “ Let’s go into the shadows.” he said as he felt himself stirring.
“ Jake Mendoza sold his ranch.” Murdoch said as they sat eating breakfast the next morning.
“ Sold out, why?” Scott asked.
“ It seems his wife’s health was getting worse, so he sold out and moved her to Colorado.” Murdoch responded.
“ Who bought his spread?” Johnny asked.
“ Agatha……. Oh, before I forget, she would like the two of you to come over for supper and to visit before the baby is born.” Murdoch said.
“ You told her about the baby?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes. I’m proud of the fact that I am going to be a grandfather young man.” Murdoch responded. “ Just because we didn’t get off to a good start son doesn’t change how I feel about the baby coming.”
“ Even though she was pregnant before we got married?” Johnny asked
“ Johnny.” Teresa cut in with a deadly look.
“ I don’t always say what I feel son, and sometimes I can be stubborn……”
“ Sometimes?” Johnny cut in. “ It seems you’re only that way with me, not Scott.”
“ If I may finish………I’m stubborn….I don’t always see things right or say what I mean, especially with you. I don’t know why that is, I know I don’t thank you enough or compliment you on things……….. Last night…..last night someone pointed out to me that you do more work on this ranch since you’ve been here than anyone else. That when you’re done with your chores, you always go and help someone else finish theirs………….Johnny, your not a hired hand, not like the other men who work here are. I’m sorry I made you feel like you were. I never meant to. I’m proud of both my sons and how they help me run this ranch. I know last night when I said what I did about Scott’ idea about holding pens seemed cold and made you mad. I just don’t see how doing that could benefit Lancer.”
“ You got a big mouth brother.” Johnny said, looking directly at Scott. “ Look what we have right now. We have cattle scattered around in different pastures that we have to move when the grass gets to bad or the water to low. We spend a lot of money on fencing every year because those stupid cows decide to go through the fence or a storm wipes it out.” Johnny explained. “ I’m sorry Murdoch, but I think what Scott suggested last night is a good idea. We build those holding pens out of timbers strong enough the cattle can’t bust them down. I think it would work.”
“ And what about feeding and watering them Johnny? What do we do, just pitchfork hay over the fence every day so they can eat?” Murdoch asked
“ If I may jump in here Johnny, I think if we build troughs along the front of the pens a wagon can fork the feed off. The same with water. We could build an irrigation system to get water to all the pens.” Scott suggested. “ That is what they are doing now at the holding pens we drive them too every couple years.”
“ I’m sorry boys. It’s a good idea, but I just don’t think it would benefit Lancer. Maybe in ten years or so it might, but right now.”
“ Right now our father wants to keep driving the cattle to the holding pens and continue to spend exuberant amounts of money of feeding them until they are shipped.” Scott said.
“ Don’t forget the cost of the pens used.” Johnny added sarcastically.
“ That will be enough out of both of you.” Murdoch ordered as someone knocked on the front door.
“ Who could that be this early in the morning?” Teresa asked.
“ I’ll find out.” Scott said as he stood up and headed to the front door.
“ I figured I would ride up to Black Mesa and take a look at that herd.” Johnny said.
“ That’s fine son. Check the fencing while you’re up that way would you?” Murdoch asked.
“ Sure. Teresa, when is Sam coming out to check you and the baby again?” Johnny asked.
“ He’s supposed to be out Sunday to have supper with us and check me and the baby then.” Teresa responded. “ Johnny finally got to feel the baby move last night.”
“ I bet you were happy to do that.” Murdoch suggested.
“ I thought he was going to jump up and down on the bed with excitement.” Teresa responded.
“ I can’t explain it.” Johnny said.
“ I know son. When I felt Scott move for the first time, I had a hard time not crying, I was so happy. Then when I felt you, I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. You kept butting my hand with your head.” Murdoch said.
“ Must be why we butt heads now so much.” Johnny suggested.
“ Can I help you?” Scott asked.
“ Mister Lancer, I know you told us yesterday that you had a full crew, but we’re desperate. We need a job.” Joe responded.
“ Won’t you come in.” Scott asked as he stepped aside so they could enter the foyer. “ It would seem my brother will be rounding up some mustangs and may need some extra help.” Scott said as he closed the door and stepped down into the grand room. “ Johnny, these two gentlemen are looking for work.”
Johnny stood up and walked over to them. He knew who they were from Henry’s description. “ You two ever work with mustangs before?” he asked.
“ I’m Joe and this here is Sandy. We’ve worked with mustangs some in Texas.” Joe responded.
“ There’s a bout a hundred and fifty of them I’ll be rounding up and bringing in that I have to have to break by spring for the army. I’ll give you a try, job pays a dollar a day with Sundays off. Go out and see our segundo, he’ll get you set up in the bunk house. You work out, you can stay on.”
“ I’ll take them out and introduce them to Cipriano.” Scott said.
“ Thank you Mister Lancer. We won’t let you down.” Joe said as he turned to follow Scott outside.
Johnny stood there watching them walk out the front door. Once they were outside, he walked over to the veranda doors and looked out at the two men’s horses.
“ Is that them son?” Murdoch asked as he walked over.
“ Yeah, that’s them.” Johnny responded.
“ I don’t like this Johnny.” Teresa said as she walked over.
“ I’ll be alright.” Johnny responded.
“ I want you to take Frank and Walt with you .” Murdoch said.
“ I figured I would bring in twenty head at a time to break. I won’t be driving them to Colorado until spring. Figured I’d break them over winter when the weather allows.”
“ Johnny, I want you to be extra careful with those two around son.” Murdoch said.
“ I’m sick of doing this Joe. We’ve been here over three months now.” Sandy said.
“ So am I, but at least we have food in our belly and a roof over our heads in this damn weather.” Joe responded.
“ I’m going back to El Paso come spring.” Sandy said.
“ You heard what Frank said. Johnny is going to be driving those mustangs to Colorado in the spring.” Joe stated. “ This is better than hiring our guns out.”
“ You know what I heard a hand say. He said Johnny Lancer is really Johnny Madrid.” Sandy said.
“ Madrid, that’s crazy. Everybody knows Johnny Madrid was killed in Mexico by a firing squad.” Joe said.
Johnny hit the ground hard as the jet black stallion continued to buck and jump, trying to get the saddle off. Standing up, he brushed some of the dirt off as Frank came over.
“ I don’t think you’ll be able to break that one Johnny.” Frank said. “ He’s full of pure meanness.”
“ Catch him up and put him in the chute and take the gear off him. He’s had enough for today.” Johnny ordered.
“ Maybe you should just let him go. Some horses are like a human, they won’t be broke.” Joe said as he walked up. “ That stallions been running free until now. You got plenty of horses for the Army. Why not let him go?”
“ Because he’s not going to the Army. That one stays here at Lancer.” Johnny responded. “ Go help Frank get him in the chute and the gear off him.”
“ Yes sir, right away boss man.” Joe said snidely as he started toward the chute.
Johnny grabbed Joe by the arm and spun him around. “ Any time you don’t want to follow orders, you can leave.”
Joe jerked his arm free. “ Don’t put your hands on me ever again. I never said I wouldn’t follow orders.”
“ Johnny!” Murdoch yelled as he walked toward him.
Joe stepped closer to Johnny. “ You’re lucky your old man walked down here.”
“ Take your best shot.” Johnny said
“ Johnny.” Scott yelled as he too walked up.
“ Stay out of this Murdoch…….Scott…. You want a piece of me Joe, now’s your chance.” Johnny said coldly.
Joe stood there clenching and releasing his right hand.
“ You’d like nothing better than me taking a swing at you.” Joe said with anger.
“ Joe, go on and help Frank.” Murdoch ordered.
Joe turned and walked over to help Frank. “ That Lancer pup sure thinks he’s got a right to boss people around.”
“ Johnny’s a good person. He’s just got a lot on his mind with filling the Army contract and a baby due any time.” Frank said.
“ What the hell is the matter with you?” Scott demanded.
“ Stay out of it Scott.” Johnny ordered before turning to walk away.
“ Like hell I will.” Scott said as he grabbed Johnny’ arm and spun him around.
Johnny jerked his arm free. “ No man disrespects me. I didn’t allow it before I came here, and I’m sure as hell not going to start allowing it now.”
“ Tell me……Just where did he disrespect you Johnny? Because what I seen was a man a little upset about what you asked him to do, and you got angry with him over it.” Murdoch stated. “ The men are cold, wet, and muddy son.”
“ I gave an order, I expect it to be done.” Johnny responded.
“ Yes, but something you need to learn as a part owner of this ranch. The men who work for us will not always like what we ask them to do. I can’t even begin to count the number of times hands have grumbled at me because they didn’t want to dig a new outhouse or repair the chicken coup or clear a wash. You have a lot of growing up to do son, especially when it comes to how you treat the people who work for you.” Murdoch explained. “ I think you need to call it a day and think about how you treated Joe.” he suggested.
Scott closed his book as thunder echoed outside. “ Sounds like a good storm brewing out there!”
“ Yeah, I expect the rain will start any time.” Murdoch responded.
“ You care to play a game of chess Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ Sure you’re up to being beat again?” Johnny joked.
“ We’ll see.” Scott said as lightening flashed and lite up the room.
“ Johnny……….I…..I think you better go get Maria!”
Johnny jumped up and hurried to Teresa. “ Is it time?”
“ Scott, go get Maria and see if a hand will go get Sam.” Murdoch requested.
“ I’ll go for Sam myself.” Scott said as he hurried to the front door and grabbed his coat.
“ Let’s get you back in bed Teresa.” Murdoch said as he hurried over to help. “ Johnny, get her in a nightgown and as comfortable as possible while I go get some water heating for Maria.”
Johnny went to the dresser and pulled open the drawer he knew Teresa kept her nightgowns in and grabbed one. “ Are you okay?” he asked as he came back over next to her. “ What do you want me to do?”
“ I’m fine. First close the door, then help me get this dress off so I can slip into my nightgown.” Teresa requested. “ Our child would pick a stormy night to be born.”
Johnny went and closed the bedroom door. “ Must be a boy.” he said as he came back over and helped her get her dress off and nightgown on.
“ Murdoch said you came into this world fast. That Maria started labor late evening, and by the next morning, you were born.” Teresa said as she pulled the nightgown over her head.
“ Maybe that’s why I do some things fast.” Johnny said with a smile as he helped pull her hair out of the nightgown.
“ You’re getting better at being slow.” Teresa said with a smile as she walked around to the side of the bed and sat down.
“ The only thing faster than my draw, is the way I fell in love with you. I never dreamed I would be so lucky Teresa.” Johnny said as he helped her into bed. “ I still can’t believe I’m going to be a father in a few hours.”
“ Johnny Lancer, I love you. Whether it’s a boy or a girl, I’m proud to be your wife and give you a child.” Teresa said.
Johnny knelt over and gave her a kiss as he tucked the blankets in around her.
“ Is it safe to come in?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah, I was just settling her in bed.” Johnny responded as Maria came into the room.
“ Ve, no puedes estar aquí, Johnny. Felipe me ayudará. Ella estará bien. ( Go, You cannot be here Johnny. Felipe will help me. She will be fine.)
“ Come on son. It’s going to be a long night.” Murdoch said as he guided Johnny out of the room and shut the door. “ Maria knows what she is doing. She helped Sam deliver you. Teresa is in good hands.” Murdoch said. “ Come on, let’s go make some coffee for when your brother gets back here with Sam.”
“ Were you like this?” Johnny asked as he stood up and walked over to get the pot of coffee.
“ If you mean a nervous wreck, yes I was son. Until I heard you cry, I was scared to death.” Murdoch responded.
“ You, scared. Of what?” Johnny asked.
“ Losing your mother and you during birth. I’m not trying to scare you son, but there is a lot that could go wrong, both during and after.”
“ So it’s kinda like with a horse giving birth then?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes, though I’ve never thought of it like that.” Murdoch said as Scott and Sam came into the house.
“ Your child would pick a night it’s storming to be born.” Sam said as he removed his coat. “ Is mother to be upstairs or down?”
“ Downstairs Sam. Third door on left. Maria and Felipe are in there with her.” Johnny responded.
“ Good. John, I know you’re a nervous wreck. I’ll let you know how she’s doing as soon as I can.” Sam said as he headed down the hall. “ Oh, I’ll need a bottle of either whiskey or Brandy if Maria doesn’t have some in the room already.”
“ There’s a bottle of whiskey in the room Sam.” Murdoch said. “ You want some hot coffee?”
“ Not right now. I expect that if this baby is anything like it’s father, he or she will be here real soon.” Sam said as he walked down the hall and entered the room.
“ Thanks Scott.” Johnny said. “ I owe you.”
“ You don’t owe me Johnny.” Scott responded. “ I am however going to go upstairs and get into some dry clothes.”
“ Alright son. I think maybe we should go into the other room to await the arrival of the newest Lancer.” Murdoch suggested.
“ I tell ya Murdoch, I don’t know if I can do this.” Johnny said as they walked past the bedroom and down the hall to the grand room.
“ You’re doing fine son.” Murdoch said as he walked over to the sideboard and poured two glasses of red wine and walked over to the couch. “ Sit down and try to relax.” Murdoch suggested as he handed a glass to Johnny.
“ I’m not much on drinking wine Murdoch.” Johnny said.
“ Humor me just this once son.” Murdoch asked as he sat down next to Johnny. “ You know, when I seen you for the first time, I couldn’t believe it. When you opened your eyes and I seen how blue they were I was so happy. Given at the time I didn’t know those beautiful blue eyes would cause you so much pain later son.”
“ Do you remember what the first word was I said?” Johnny asked before taking a sip of the wine.
“ I most certainly do. It was doggy.” Murdoch responded.
“ Doggy?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes doggy. You had a puppy Cipriano gave you. The two of you were inseparable. Your mother would get so upset at times because that pup was always with you. It would even manage to get in bed with you to sleep at night. When it was grown up, it became protective of you. A baby sitter in a way. Your mother was busy doing something and you got outside. The pup followed you like always, except this time he saved your life. A rattler had come up on the veranda right outside the door there. The pup knocked you down and caused you to cry, your mother came running outside and that dog bared his teeth, snapping and growling. Maria stopped, afraid he was going to attack you or her, She yelled and I was coming up, gun in hand to shoot the dog when it lunged at the snake not two feet from you. Maria grabbed you up and hurried back into the house. That dog saved your life. When he came inside you pointed and said doggy.”
“ What happened to the dog?” Johnny asked.
“ Sadly, saving your life from that rattler, he was bitten and died that evening. He’s buried out back beneath that oak tree. I carved his name in the trunk for you as a headstone.”
“ I guess in the short time I was here as a baby, I didn’t make it easy for you did I?” Johnny asked.
“ No, but let me tell you son. If I could, I would go through it all again. I have no regrets about the long nights staying up with you when you were sick, or comforting you during a storm, taking you for rides, reading to you.” Murdoch said as a lump started in his throat.
“ You can do that again with your grandson or granddaughter.” Johnny said.
“ I never thought this day would come. The day one of my sons made me a grandfather. Every year you stayed lost to me was another year of let down and heartache. When Scott came home, some of that heartache went away, but I knew it wouldn’t go away fully until you came home. Only then would my heart be happy again.” Murdoch said.
“ You didn’t really get much time with her did you?” Johnny asked.
“ With who son?”
“ My mother, before she took me away from you.” Johnny responded. “ What with building Lancer to what it is today, I guess you never spent much time with her!”
“ I spent every second I could with your mother. There were times I’ll admit I wasn’t around like I should have been. I swear to you son, I never knew how unhappy she was here, not until I awoke that morning and found the two of you gone.”
“ Guess it’s kind of like you and me, what we have.” Johnny said.
“ Are you unhappy here son?”
Johnny stood up and walked over to the fireplace as Scott walked into the room.
“ Am I interrupting?” Scott asked.
“ No. Murdoch just asked me a question.” Johnny responded. “ Pour yourself some wine and join the party brother.”
“ I thought you didn’t like wine!” Scott said as he poured a glass.
“ I don’t, but the old man asked me to humor him tonight.” Johnny said. “ To answer your question Murdoch, at first when Scott told me I was your son, I wanted to run. The only reason I didn’t was Teresa. It’s because of her I’m here. Can you believe that, Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter afraid of becoming your son you searched so many years for…….I……….when I was growing up, I wanted a brother, I even asked her if I had an older brother……..know what she did…….she slapped me. She slapped me so hard, she knocked me down, grabbed me up and ordered me to never ask about having an older brother again.”
“ She beat you for asking a simple question like that?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah. I learned real quick to not ask about my gringo father or why we left. Don’t get me wrong, my mother loved me, when she was sober, which really wasn’t that much towards the end.” Johnny said as he walked over and poured a shot of tequila and downed it.
“ How’d she die son?” Murdoch asked.
“ What, all those Pinkerton reports you have didn’t tell you?” Johnny asked.
“ No they didn’t son.”
“ She was murdered when I was eleven. That’s part of the reason I became a gunfighter. So I could find the sonofabitch and gun him down for what he did to my mother.” Johnny said as he walked back over and sat back down on the couch next to his father. “ He’s the only man I ever called out.”
“ How old were you?” Scott asked before Murdoch could.
“ When I killed him……….I was twelve. I’ve had my reputation as Johnny Madrid since I was thirteen.” Johnny responded. “ Don’t you have anything to say Murdoch?”
“ About what? About how a child was forced to become a man when he’s only eleven years old. I’ve been in Mexico son. I know how harsh, how brutal it can be, especially to an innocent child with blue eyes and dark hair………….I”
“ A mestizo.” Johnny cut in.
“ I don’t ever want to here that word or half-breed said in this house ever again.” Murdoch ordered.
“ It’s been a long time. Shouldn’t she have had the baby by now?” Johnny asked.
“ Relax son. If anything went wrong, Sam or Maria would have come out and told us.” Murdoch responded.
“ Looks like the rain has stopped.” Scott said as he looked out the big window behind his fathers desk.
“ The sun will be coming up soon. I just hope we don’t have to bad of damage from this storm.” Murdoch said.
“ Hopefully that foot bridge didn’t wash out again.” Scott stated.
“ I’m more concerned about some of those trees along the stream in the north pasture. Some of them already had roots exposed from the stream. If they come down, they could block that stream and cause flooding.” Johnny said.
“ I’ll have Frank tell a couple hands to check it out.” Murdoch said as Maria walked into the room.
“ Juanito, ¿ te gustaría conocer a tu hermosa hija Mary Elizabeth Lancer?” Maria asked as she walked into the room. ( Juanito, would you like to meet your beautiful daughter Mary Elizabeth Lancer.)
Johnny walked over to Maria. “ A daughter?” he asked.
“ Si ella es hermosa.” Maria responded. ( Yes, she is beautiful )
“ You going to hold your daughter son?” Murdoch asked.
Maria passed the baby to Johnny. “ Is Teresa alright?” he asked.
“ Yes, she is fine, doctor is with her.” Maria responded. “ It has been a long night. I will fix breakfast now.”
Johnny pulled the blanket back so he could see his daughter better. Taking her tiny right hand in his, he looked at how tiny her fingers were.
“ Would you look at the hair she has. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a baby with that much hair.” Scott said.
“ Look at her Murdoch………she’s so small. Was I this little?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes you were.” Murdoch responded.
“ I wonder why we didn’t hear her cry?” Scott asked.
“ Not all babies cry at birth son. Johnny didn’t, and if I remember correctly, I don’t think Teresa did either.” Murdoch said.
“ Uh Johnny, could I hold my new niece?” Scott asked.
“ Grandpa’s first.” Murdoch cut in.
Johnny let Murdoch take the baby. “ I’m gonna go see how Teresa is doing.”
“ She’s fine John.” Sam said. “ She’s asking for you.”
“ Go see her Johnny. Your daughter will be fine with us.” Murdoch said.
“ She’s fine. Tired, but fine. Go see her John.” Sam said.
Johnny took another quick peek at his daughter before leaving the room.
“ I can’t believe it. I can’t believe my little brother has a beautiful daughter.” Scott said as he looked at the baby.
“ Why don’t you hold your niece, maybe that will help you realize it.” Murdoch said as he offered the baby to Scott.
“ With pleasure sir.” Scott responded as he took his niece. “ She’s beautiful, and born on November 12th, 1873. How come we never heard her cry when she was born Sam?”
“ She cried, but stopped the minute she was wrapped in a blanket. Now Teresa is going to need help for a few days. She’s to stay in bed and drink plenty of water to help replenish what she’s lost. Maria and Felipe will help her and I expect you can help Johnny since you’ve been through this with him.” Sam suggested.
“ That was a long time ago Sam, but I think I can remember.” Murdoch responded. “ You know, it’s going to be nice adding a new date and name in the family bible.”
“ Especially since the last entry was Johnny, who I can’t wait to see changing a diaper.” Scott said with a laugh.
“ Is there any hot coffee I n the kitchen?” Sam asked.
“ I’m sure there is.” Murdoch said. “ Let’s go see Sam.”
Johnny opened the bedroom door and quietly stepped into the room. Felipe was just finishing up gathering all the soiled linens.
“ Ella sólo está descansando.” she said as she went to the door. “ Tienes una hermosa hija.” ( She’s just resting. You have a beautiful daughter)
“ Gracias.” Johnny said as Felipe walked out and he closed the door, and walked over to the bed.
“ Johnny, did you see our daughter?” Teresa asked.
Johnny sat down on the edge of the bed. “ I sure did. She’s just as beautiful as her mother.” he said before leaning over and giving her a kiss on the forehead. “ Are you alright?”
“ I’m fine. A little sore, but Sam said I should be able to get out of bed in a few days.” Teresa responded. “ Where is our daughter?”
“ She is out with her grandpa and uncle being fought over on who is going to hold her I think.” Johnny said with a laugh just as the door opened.
“ Can we come in?” Murdoch asked.
“ Of course.” Teresa said as she sat up more.
Scott walked in behind Murdoch, with a smile from ear to ear. “ Teresa, my new niece is absolutely gorgeous.”
“ She’s quiet. Just like her father was when he was born.” Murdoch said. “ I can’t begin to tell you how happy the two of you have made me.”
“ Okay people. This young lady needs some rest and as her doctor, I am ordering you all to let her get some.” Sam said. “ Johnny, you can stay as long as you behave yourself.”
“ Very funny Sam. I have every intention of staying with my wife and new daughter for a spell.” Johnny responded.
Johnny walked into the house with Scott well after dark a week later totally exhausted. For the past week everybody worked from sunup to well past dark at times cleaning up from the storm.
“ I expected you two hours ago. What happened?” Murdoch asked.
“ It takes time to remove trees that big.” Johnny said as he sat down on the couch.
“ You’ve been clearing that stream all week.” Murdoch stated.
“ Actually, we removed the ones that came down into the stream bed and then went and started removing four more that would have come down in the next storm.” Scott responded.
Johnny stood up. “ You want it done faster, then let us have a few more hands to get the job done.” Johnny replied. “ I’m going to go take a hot bath.”
Murdoch and Scott watched Johnny leave the room.
“ He’s exhausted sir. Between the baby at night, and working long hours.” Scott said.
“ Everybody is exhausted son. That storm did a lot of damage.” Murdoch said.
“ Yes, but they don’t have a baby waking them up at night.” Scott responded.
“ Why doesn’t he sleep in his old room upstairs?” Murdoch asked.
“ Because he want’s to help Teresa with the baby. He’s been working just as hard as everyone else. I’ve tried to get him to slow down, but you know Johnny, he wants to get it done.” Scott responded.
“ Yes I do. I believe Maria has supper keeping warm on the stove for you both.” Murdoch said.
“ You know sir, just until the baby is a couple months old, maybe you could have Johnny work half days.” Scott suggested.
“ I understand what you are saying son, but your brother is part owner of this ranch, and as such, he needs to pull his weight.” Murdoch responded.
“ Pull his weight? Did you not hear what I said? Johnny is doing more work than anyone else, me included.” Scott responded back.
“ Just because he has a baby doesn’t mean he gets to skip out on doing his chores and working this ranch.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ Is Johnny back yet?” Teresa asked as she walked into the room.
“ He’s upstairs getting cleaned up.” Murdoch asked. “ Scott, I’m sorry, you’re right son. We’ll discuss this with Johnny in the morning at breakfast.”
“ I think I’ll go upstairs and see if my little brother has fallen asleep in the tub. He should have been back downstairs by now.” Scott said as he headed to the stairs. “ How’s my niece?”
“ She’s fine. I just fed her so she’s sleeping.” Teresa responded.
“ I’ll send Johnny down.” Scott said as he went up the stairs two at a time.
“ Murdoch, you think tomorrow we could go through the things you said you still had in the attic?” Teresa asked.
“ Don’t you want to do that with Johnny?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes, but I think it would be fun if me and you did it. My whole life has been spent at Lancer, yet I know nothing about my husband when he was here as an infant.”
“ Murdoch, Teresa, you need to come upstairs and see this.” Scott said from halfway down the stairs.
Murdoch and Teresa followed Scott upstairs to where he stopped outside Johnny’s old bedroom. “ Take a look.” Scott said.
Murdoch and Teresa stepped inside the room and found Johnny sprawled out across the bed with his shirt and boots off, sound asleep.
“ He never made it to that hot bath.” Scott said.
“ Let him sleep.” Teresa said as she took the quilt from the end of the bed and covered him up. “ The baby waking him up and the long hours working cleaning up from that storm, I’m surprised he hasn’t collapsed sooner.”
Johnny woke late the next morning. Laying on the bed, he realized where he was and what must have happened, or so he thought. Sitting up he looked around for his clothes and found them on the chair next to the bed with a note.
You fell asleep last night before you took your hot bath. I tucked you in and let you sleep here because I didn’t have the heart to wake you up.
Your loving wife Teresa.
Johnny smiled and ran a hand over his face. A hot bath and shave was just what he needed. Wondering what time it was, he walked over to his dresser and opened the pocket watch he had. Seeing it was ten thirty in the morning.
“ Damn, I bet the old man is going to be angry I slept as long as I did.” Johnny said as he grabbed the clean clothes and headed to the bathhouse.
“ Here it is.” Murdoch said as he moved a small wooden box off a bigger one and set it down on top of a huge trunk. “ Me and your father carved these for Johnny and gave them to him on his first birthday.” Murdoch said as he opened the box and removed the leather cover. Inside the box were two hand carved animals, one a horse, the other a dog sitting. “ Your father carved the horse.” Murdoch said as he handed the figures to her.
“ Oh Murdoch, they’re so cute. I bet Johnny just loved them.” Teresa said as she took the figures.
“ Yes he did. He used to play with them downstairs every night before bedtime or if it was raining and he couldn’t be outside.” Murdoch said as he opened the trunk. “ Here’s the blankets and clothes Maria left behind when …………. I have something I would like you to have. It belonged to my mother and when she died, my father gave it to me before I left Scotland. He said to give it to my wife when I got married.”
“ How come you never gave it to Scott’s mother?” Teresa asked.
“ To be honest, I completely forgot about it until the other night.” Murdoch responded as he removed something wrapped in cloth from the chest and went over to Teresa and sat down next to her. “ This belonged to my mother.”
“ You didn’t have a sister your mother could give it too?” Teresa asked.
Murdoch cleared his throat. “ I had a sister…….she died from smallpox when she was twelve. I don’t think my parents ever got over the loss. My mother especially. She just wasn’t the same after. It was five years after my sister died, my mother took ill and passed away. Me and my father were all that was left. We moved from that house because the memories were to hard on my father. He told me to come to the states and make something of myself, so I did. I brought this with me, and I want you to have it.” Murdoch said as he unwrapped a gorgeous Silver on Copper Ornate Repoussé Jewelry Casket. It’s early nineteenth century French Louis the sixteenth my father said. Where my mother got it from I have no idea.”
“ Your father didn’t know?” Teresa asked.
“ No, I’m afraid not.” Murdoch responded as he handed the beautiful box to Teresa. “ You have always been like a daughter to me.”
“ Oh Murdoch, it’s absolutely gorgeous.” Teresa said as she looked at the Silver and Copper box with intricate detail etched into it. Opening the box Teresa found the inside covered with a gorgeous blue satin with a small mirror on the inside of the lid.
“ I’m glad you like it. I know my mother would want you to have it. We can take these two boxes downstairs and you can go through them and take whatever you and Johnny want to use for the baby. I also have a cradle in the corner over there that Johnny used. It will probably need a fresh coat of paint, but if you want to use that, you are more than welcome too.”
Teresa stood up, tears in her eyes and hugged Murdoch. “ Thank you. I’m the luckiest girl in the valley. I have three wonderful men who love me and who I love more than anything.”
“ I just ask you to make me one promise.” Murdoch said. “ Promise me you and Johnny will never leave here.”
“ We would never do that to you and Scott. I seen how hard it was on you every day Johnny was missing. Mary Elizabeth is going to grow up at Lancer surrounded by all of her family.”
“ You have no idea how happy you and Johnny have made me.” Murdoch responded.
“ Murdoch, I was wondering, do you think we could get a family portrait taken?” Teresa asked.
“ I think that’s a wonderful idea. I could have a photographer come out to the ranch and do it. You just let me know when and I’ll have it arranged.” Murdoch responded.
“ I think we should go see if a certain new father is awake and eat some lunch.” Teresa suggested.
Johnny came downstairs and walked into the kitchen, finding Maria holding the baby. “Donde esta Teresa?” Johnny asked. ( Where’s Teresa)
“ Ella está arriba en el ático con tu padre.” Maria responded. ( She is up in the attic with your father. They have been up there a long time. Did you sleep well?)
“ Sí. Supongo que estaba bastante cansado.” Johnny said. ( Yeah. I guess I was pretty tired.)
“ Has estado trabajando duro y con un nuevo bebé no duermes mucho.” Maria said as she stood up and walked over to hand Johnny the baby. ( You have been working hard, and with a new baby, you don’t get much sleep. I see how tired you are every morning.)
“ Intento ayudar a Teresa a zurcir la noche. Ven aca cariño.” Johnny responded as he took his daughter from Maria. ( I try to help Teresa during the night. Come here darling.) “ Creo que voy a poner una silla mecedora en nuetra habitación. Tal vez si la meciera por la noche, se iría a dormir mejor.” he added as he cradled his daughter. ( I think I’m going to have a rocking chair put in our room. Maybe if I rock her at night, she will go to sleep better.)
“ Eres un buen padre. Haces a tu papá orgulloso.”( You are a good father. You do your papa proud )
“ Nunca pensé que tendría la oportunidad de ser padre siendo un pistolero.” Johnny said.( I never thought I would get a chance to be a father being a gunfighter.)
“ Pero ya no eres un pistolero. Ahora eres un esposo amoroso, padre, hermano, e hijo.” Maria said. ( But you are a gunfighter no more. Now you are a loving husband, father, brother, and son.)
“ Todavía me estoy acostumbrando a esa parte de padre y hermano.” Johnny said as Murdoch and Teresa walked into the kitchen. ( I’m still getting used to that father and brother part.)
“ He’s awake.” Teresa said as she sat down next to Johnny. “ Was she a good girl Maria?”
“ Si, she was.” Maria responded.
“ Sorry about last night. I guess I was pretty tired.” Johnny said.
“ That’s fine. I know this is hard on you with the baby at night and working all day.” Teresa responded.
“ I was telling Maria, I think I’m going to get a rocking chair to put in our room so I can rock her at night when she just needs changed.”
“ Your mothers rocking chair is in the attic son. I can have it brought down and dusted off if you would like?” Murdoch asked.
“ I’d like that very much. So did you find some things you can use up there?”
“ Yes I did. Murdoch gave me a beautiful heirloom that belonged to his mother. It’s a……What did you say?”
“ It’s a French Louis the sixteenth Silver on Copper Ornate Repoussé Jewelry casket. I know my mother would want Teresa to have it.”
Johnny stood up and walked over to the window.
“ Is something wrong son?” Murdoch asked.
Teresa stood up and walked over to him. “ Are you alright?”
Johnny cleared his throat, turned and handed Mary Elizabeth to Teresa before giving her a kiss. “ I’m fine. I guess I’m still getting used to all this. Was there anything from my mother you want to use?”
“ Yes there is. A beautiful cradle that will need repainted, a box of blankets and a box of clothes too.” Teresa responded.
“ I’ll have a hand bring the stuff downstairs.” Murdoch said.
“ Johnny, I would like to have a family portrait done of all of us together.” Teresa suggested.
“ A family portrait huh? That sounds good. When did you want to do it?” Johnny said.
“ I was thinking for Christmas maybe.” Teresa suggested.
“ We could all stand in front of the Christmas tree.” Johnny said.
“ Exactly. It will be Mary’s first Christmas and all of us as a family together.”
“ I think that’s a wonderful idea.” Murdoch said as Scott walked into the kitchen.
“ He lives. I thought you were going to sleep the day away brother.” Scott said with a smile.
“ Just about. Probably would have, but stomach woke me up.” Johnny responded.
“ What’s a good idea?” Scott asked.
“ Having a Christmas portrait taken of all of us together.” Teresa responded as her and Johnny walked back over to the table and sat down to eat lunch.
Thanksgiving was wet. Another storm brought torrential rain and flooding throughout the valley. Rivers and streams rose overnight flooding pastures and roads. A rock slide washed out the road to Stockton and would take at least a month to clear if no more of the mountain side came down. Another rock slide took out a large section of train tracks east of Sacramento, leaving passengers stranded for three days until they could be reached. Nobody who lived in the valley could ever recall a November as bad. Lancer alone lost over a hundred head of cattle to flooding. A huge financial loss that come spring would be felt when the cattle were taken to the rails.
December and January were much like November, rain but not as hard. Now half way through February Johnny had just over a month to finish breaking twenty head of mustangs left before leaving for Colorado.
“ All that rain we’ve got the last three months has every stream, lake and pond on Lancer full and running.” Johnny said.
“ The grass in the pastures should be real good for grazing.” Murdoch said.
“ Yeah, if it ever dries out so we can get the cattle up in those pastures once we check the fencing.” Johnny said as someone knocked on the door.
“ I’ll get it.” Scott said as he got up and headed to the door and opened it. “ Frank, something wrong?”
“ I need to speak to Johnny if he’s here?” Frank responded.
“ Sure. Come on in. Have you seen my beautiful niece yet?” Scott asked.
“ No I haven’t.” Frank responded.
“ She’s three months old now, and I gotta say, she’s the prettiest baby I’ve seen in a long time.” Scott said with pride. “ Johnny, Frank here needs to speak with you, and see my beautiful niece.”
“ I’ll go see if she’s awake.” Teresa said before leaving the room.
“ What’s up Frank?” Johnny asked once Teresa was out of the room.
“ Some of the hands were asking me if I knew who you were taking with you to help drive that herd to Colorado in two months?”
“ I haven’t really gave it much thought Frank. You have some men in mind besides you and Walt?” Johnny asked.
“ Those two new hires, Joe and Sandy, they seem like real good men. Hard workers, especially Joe.” Frank responded.
“I’m not so sure about Joe. He has a temper and trouble following orders sometimes, and Sandy said he’s leaving, heading back to El Paso when winters over.” Johnny said.
“ I’m sorry if I’m speaking out of line Johnny, but Joe is a good hard worker. Me and the men like him. I haven’t had any trouble with him at all. He just gets frustrated when working in the rain or cold like the rest of us do.” Frank said.
“ I’ll keep him in mind Frank. I appreciate you speaking up. You’re a good man.” Johnny said as Teresa walked into the room with the baby.
“ Here she is.” Teresa said as she walked over so Frank could see her.
“ Oh my. Would you look at that head of hair. She must take after you on that Teresa.” Frank said. “ She’s beautiful. What’s her name?”
“ Mary Elizabeth Lancer.” Scott said.
“ Proud uncle.” Johnny teased.
“ Now I understand why you talk about her so much Scott. She is beautiful. Congratulations you two. I guess I’ll get out of here and get some sleep.”
“ Thanks again Frank. Have a good night.” Johnny said.
“ How many head you have left to break son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Twenty and just over a month to do it in.” Johnny responded as he walked over and took his daughter into his arms. “ Hello gorgeous.”
“ And if you don’t get them all broke before you leave, then what?” Teresa asked.
“ Those left I’ll just have to break on the way. I know how important the money is to Lancer that I get for these mustangs. Financially I know Lancer is hurting from losing cattle to the weather. I’m hoping we get enough to put us ahead.” Johnny responded.
“ Son, I told you when I agreed to you breaking and selling mustangs to the Army, that the money was yours.” Murdoch said.
“ I know, but the ranch needs the money.” Johnny responded.
“ Thank you. It will help keep us out of debt.” Murdoch said.
“ How long will it take you to drive them to Colorado and come back?” Teresa asked.
“ If I leave in mid to late April, I should be back the end of summer.” Johnny responded.
“ Al summer without you. Mary will be almost a year old. You might miss her first steps.” Teresa said.
“ What are your plans for that black stallion son?” Murdoch asked.
“ He’s a gift for Scott when I’m done training him.” Johnny said.
“ Me. I already have a good horse.” Scott said.
“ Yeah, but not one trained like he will be. When I’m done you will have a cow horse like no other.” Johnny said as he stood up and walked over to Teresa to give her the baby. “ I guarantee when I’m done training him he won’t spook and if he does, he’ll come back when called.”
“ I don’t know what to say brother.” Scott said.
“ It’s the least I could do since you’ll be doing my work as well as your own while I’m gone.”
“ I think I will go put our daughter to bed now.” Teresa said.
“ You need some help?” Johnny asked.
“ No no I got her. I’ll see you all in the morning.” Teresa responded as she headed to their bedroom.
“ Goodnight Teresa.” Murdoch and Scott said.
“ She’s going to miss you.” Murdoch said when Teresa was gone.
“ Yeah. It won’t be easy on me.” Johnny said as he went and poured a shot of tequila.
The drive now just week away, Johnny spent every minute of daylight working with the mustangs, breaking the remaining ones and working Sundays with the stallion he was giving his brother. Teaching the horse to accept being hobbled, ground tied, mounted from either side, backing up to keep tension on the rope when a cow or calf was on the other end, pulling logs or branches when needed.
Scott and Murdoch walked down to the corral and watched as Johnny worked the stallion on reining, backing up when asked, sliding to a stop and turning in a tight circle.
“ You know. I can’t help but wonder where Johnny learned the things he has about horses.” Scott said.
“ Your brother does have a way with them. I’ve never in my lifetime seen anyone get a horse to do what he does.” Murdoch responded.
“ I remember when I was in the army, this General said to us, teach your horse to love and respect you, for one day your life may depend on that horse.” Scott said. “ I believe the way Johnny has with a horse they call a horse whisperer. Someone who is able to somehow connect with the horse in mind. To become one with the animal. I’ve watched how he just stands in the corral and lets the horse settle down and choose to come to him.” he added.
“ I’ve heard of these horse whisperers son, and I think you may be right about your brother being one.” Murdoch said.
“ I still can’t believe he’s doing all this for me with that horse.” Scott said.
“Your brother loves you. In a way I can’t help but think he’s trying to make up for all those years you two were apart.” Murdoch suggested.
“ I don’t know how I can ever thank him.” Scott said as he watched Johnny gallop around the corral.
“ Just being his brother I think is all he will want son. Your brother doesn’t trust easy, and he doesn’t talk about his past, but he trust you. Don’t ever lose that.” Murdoch said as Johnny rode over to the fence.
“ I don’t intend too.” Scott responded.
“ Don’t intend to do what brother?” Johnny asked as he dismounted.
“ Let you get away without a night in town.” Scott said.
“ Yeah, I guess it has been a while since we went to town on a Saturday night.” Johnny responded. “ You going to just stand there, or are you going to come in and give your horse a try?” Johnny asked.
Scott smiled. “ It would be a pleasure brother.” Scott said as he walked over to the gate and went inside the corral.
“ Watch this.” Johnny said when Scott walked over to the stallion and tapped the horses left ankle with his foot. The stallion knelt down. “ I taught him that for if you ever get hurt and can’t pull yourself up in the saddle.”
“ What you’ve done with this horse is amazing Johnny. I don’t know how I can ever repay you.” Scott said.
“ There is one way you can. I need you to take care of Teresa and the baby while I’m gone. Watch over them, both of you.”
“ Little brother, that will be an honor.” Scott said as he mounted the stallion.”
“ Just pull back lightly on the reins and he’ll stand up.” Johnny instructed.
Scott did and smiled down at his brother.
“ Go put him through some paces. I figured tomorrow we could take him out. Today the two of you need to get to know each other.” Johnny said as he walked to the gate and went out to stand next to his father.
“ That’s a rally nice thing you did son. Teaching that horse everything you have for your brother.” Murdoch said.
“ Yeah well, I figured he deserved a good horse.” Johnny responded as Joe rode up.
“ Mister Lancer, Johnny, we have all the mustangs out at South Mesa like you asked. How many hands you want left keeping a watch on them?” Joe asked.
Johnny walked over to Joe. “ I recon three will be enough. That lush green grass will fatten them up good before we head out. I’ll want you, Walt and Frank to have two extra remounts when we leave. Geldings so the mares will behave. Barranca will be the only stallion.”
“ Your palomino. Is that so the mares will follow?” Joe asked.
“ Yeah. Go ahead and ride back and I’ll let you decide which three you want to stay and have three stay in the line shack to switch out at midnight.”
“ You want me to do that?” Joe asked.
“ That’s what I said isn’t it?”
“ Yes, it’s just that…….”
“ Joe, you’ve proved yourself to me. I know I’ve been a hard ass at times, but you’re a good man. I see nothing wrong with giving you that responsibility. You’ve earned it.”
“ Thank you. I won’t let you down Johnny.” Joe said before turning his horse to head back to South Mesa.
“ Me and Scott will be riding out tomorrow to look them over good.” Johnny said.
“ Yes sir. I’ll make sure there’s a pot of coffee on for ya.” Joe said before riding away.
“ I don’t think he heard you about going with him on the drive son.” Murdoch said.
“ He heard me. It’s like I said, he’s earned it. Frank was right, Joe’s a good man.” Johnny said as Scott rode up and dismounted.
“ You tell him?” Scott asked.
“ I told him. So what do you think?” Johnny asked.
“ I think he’s one hell of a good horse brother.” Scott responded.
“ Good. Now all you have to do is name him. You expecting someone?” Johnny asked.
“ No.” Murdoch said as he turned to see four riders riding under the Lancer arch.
“ Unless I’m mistaken, those are Cavalry uniforms.” Scott said. “ And I’d be willing to say one of them is a Major.”
“ A Major. Why on earth would a Major be coming here?” Murdoch asked.
“ Maybe they want Boston to re-enlist.” Johnny said as Scott walked out of the corral.
“ Very funny brother.” Scott said with a playful slap to Johnny’s stomach.
“ Can we help you gentlemen?” Murdoch asked.
“ We’re looking for the Lancer ranch and a man named Johnny Lancer.”
“ I’m Murdoch Lancer, this is my sons Scott and Johnny.” Murdoch responded.
“ I’m Major David Hunter and this is Captain Matthew Duncan. May we get down?” Major Hunter asked.
“ Yes, by all means gentlemen. Can I interest you in some cold lemonade up at the house?” Murdoch asked.
“ That would be fine sir. Corporals, see to the horses.” Major Hunter ordered. “ I knew a Scott Lancer back in Virginia. You wouldn’t happen to be the same man would you?” Major Hunter asked.
“ Yes sir.” Scott responded.
“ You were in the Cavalry unit if I remember correctly?” Major Hunter asked.
“ Yes sir. It’s been a long time sir.” Scott responded as he offered his hand.
“ I never……what……how in the world did you end up way out here in California? I thought you were from Boston.” Major Hunter said as he shook Scott’ hand.
“ It’s a long story sir, but I decided to come home and try my hand at ranching with my father and brother.” Scott responded.
“ You remember Captain Duncan, he was my first lieutenant during the battle in Shenandoah.” Major Hunter said.
“ Yes sir.” Scott responded as they walked into the house.
“ Johnny I………oh hello. I didn’t know we had company.” Teresa said.
“ Teresa, this is Major David Hunter and Captain Matthew Duncan. I served under Major Hunter back in Virginia.” Scott said.
“ I’m pleased to meet you gentlemen. Johnny, if you will take our daughter, I’ll go get some lemonade and I made a fresh batch of cookies this morning.” Teresa said as she handed Mary to Johnny.
“ You have a very nice home here Mister Lancer.” Captain Duncan said.
“ Thank you. Please, sit down.” Murdoch said.
“ What is it you wanted to talk to me about?” Johnny asked as he sat down.
“ I received a letter from a Colonel Henry Dodge telling me he was going to purchase a herd of mustangs from you and that you would be leaving in the spring to deliver them to Colorado.” Major Hunter said.
“ Yes sir. I’ve got a hundred and fifty head all broke. I’m leaving in about a week. Why?” Johnny explained.
“ Hundred and fifty head. That’s a lot of horses to drive all the way to Colorado. What if I told you the Army would still buy them horses, but have you deliver them to Fort Klamath in Oregon instead?” Major Hunter explained.
“ I’ve already promised them to the Colonel sir.” Johnny responded as Teresa and Maria came into the room with trays of glasses, cookies and lemonade.
“ Déjame llevar bebé para que puedas hablar.” Maria said as she set the tray of cookies and glasses down on the coffee table. ( Let me take the baby so you can talk.)
“ Gracias mamacita.” Johnny said as he handed Mary to her.
“ How old is your daughter?” Captain Duncan asked.
“ Five months.” Teresa said. As she handed out glasses of lemonade.
“ I have a son about that age.” Captain Duncan said.
“ How long would it take you to drive a herd that size to the fort?” Major Hunter asked.
“ Up north is a lot of mountains and a couple of deep rivers to cross.” Murdoch said.
“ Yes there are, but we need those horses.” Major Hunter said.
“ Why?” Johnny asked. “ I mean, why does the Army need horses brought up there instead of taken to Colorado?”
“ Settlers are moving into the valley up there. Fort Klamath sits between Crater Lake and Klamath Lake, winters are brutal. Mustangs are better suited to survive there. Am I wrong?” Major Hunter asked.
“ No, you’re not wrong. The mustang is a hearty, strong dependable animal adaptable to any terrain.” Johnny responded.
“ And smart too sir. My brother just gifted me with a stallion he trained.” Scott added.
“ Would that be the black one we seen in the corral?” Captain Duncan asked.
“ Yes sir it would.” Scott responded.
“ Would there be any stallions in this herd you’ve broke?” Major Hunter asked.
“ No, just mares and geldings. The only stallion will be my own personal horse. Less trouble.” Johnny said. “ Why am I feeling like you’re not telling me the whole story on why you want my mustangs?” Johnny asked.
Captain Duncan looked at Major Hunter. “ You ever hear of the Modoc or Paiute Indians?” Captain Duncan asked.
“ Yeah, they live in Northern California. Why?” Johnny responded.
“ We just executed four Modoc for the killing of General Edward Canby. We made the Modoc move to the Klamath Indian Reservation, which they did, but soon left and started killing settlers.” Major Hunter said.
“ It seems I remember reading something about that in the Sacramento newspaper. It said the Modoc claim they are being ill treated by the Army and left the reservation because they had no food.” Murdoch said.
“ The Modoc have lived on that land for hundreds of years Captain. Surely the Army can understand their being upset?” Scott asked.
“ The War Department ordered the fort to carry out orders and remove all Modoc from the area. You yourself know how it is Scott, we are given orders sometimes that we don’t like, but have to follow.” Major Hunter responded.
“ The way I see it Captains, I can bring the horses to you one of two ways. I cross over into Nevada with them and drive them up and come back over, or, I can take them up the coast into Oregon and come back over to your fort.” Johnny suggested.
“ You say you are leaving in about a week?” Major Hunter asked.
“ That was the plan.” Johnny said.
“ I’ll notify Fort Bidwell that you will be bringing them straight up the California, Nevada line and have them send a unit to escort you to a new settlement called Bly, where me and some of my men from the 14th Infantry will meet you and escort you on to the fort.”
“ Johnny, I don’t like you going into known Indian territory, especially when they are attacking.” Teresa said.
“ I assure you, we will keep your husband safe ma’am.” Major Hunter said.
“ How many men will you have with you?” Captain Duncan asked.
“ Me and three others.” Johnny responded.
“ I suggest you take more men. You could run into trouble from miners or even other ranchers wanting those horses.” Major Hunter suggested.
“ How come you don’t buy horses from the ranchers up there?” Johnny asked.
“ The ranchers I’m afraid don’t want to part with the horses they have, and they’re not too keen on the Army being there. Even though it’s for their own protection.” Major Hunter responded. “ I believe you were going to sell them at fifty dollars a head in Colorado. Is that correct?”
“ Yeah.” Johnny said.
“ The Army will pay you seventy five dollars a head per the War Department in Washington DC.” Major Hunter said.
“ That’s over eleven thousand dollars Captain.” Murdoch said.
“ Once the horses are delivered. I can have the money wired to your bank account in whatever town you wish Mister Lancer.” Major Hunter said.
“ It’s getting late. We should start back to Stockton.” Captain Duncan suggested as he stood up.
“ We have plenty of spare rooms here. You could spend the night, eat a good meal and get plenty of rest for your return trip.” Scott suggested. “ You could ride out and see the horses. They’re not that far from here.”
“That won’t be necessary. I did some checking around before we came out here. The Lancer name is well thought of in the valley. Besides we have to be back in Sacramento day after tomorrow. We do appreciate the offer though.” Major Hunter responded.
“ Well it was good to see you again Lieutenant Lancer. You were a damn fine soldier. You should be proud of your son Mister Lancer, he was one of my best soldiers at Shenandoah.” Major Hunter said.
“ Well I thank you gentlemen for coming all this way.” Murdoch said as they walked outside.
“ Thank you for your hospitality. The lemonade and cookies were good. It’s about eight hundred miles, I look forward to seeing you in say two months Johnny?”
“ Yes sir.” Johnny answered as he shook the mans hand. “ Thank you Major Hunter.”
Johnny, Scott, Murdoch and Teresa watched as the Major and Captain and two Corporals rode under the arch before turning to head back inside.
“ I guess I was wrong son. I had no idea those horses would bring you that much money.” Murdoch said as they walked into the house.
“ You mean Lancer. I told you the money I make from selling to the Army is for Lancer.” Johnny responded.
“ And I appreciate that, but you have a wife and child’s future to think about.”Murdoch explained.
“ And I know that. Look Murdoch, if I can sell mustangs to the Army or even other ranches outside California, both Lancer and my family will be……..how did you say it Scott?”
“ Setting pretty.” Scott responded.
“ Yeah, setting pretty.” Johnny repeated.
“ You know Johnny if word got out about your excellent way with breaking horses and what you can teach them, I bet people would bring their horses here for you to train, and I bet they would pay a damn good price for it too.” Scott suggested.
“ Maybe. I’ll think about it.” Johnny responded. “ I’m gonna got put the stallion up and get cleaned up for supper.”
“ Did I say something wrong?” Scott asked after Johnny walked away.
“ No son. I think your brother is a little mixed up over what the Captain said about the horses going to Oregon instead of Colorado.”
“ You thinking maybe the Major pulled some strings to get them? He is paying twenty five dollars a head more than Colorado.” Scott said.
“ Exactly. Why come all the way here when there are plenty of ranchers in California he could have went too.” Murdoch suggested. “ What about this Major Hunter, is he a good man?”
“ He was when I served under him during the war.” Scott responded. “ General Phil Sheridan seemed to like him.”
“ And the other man, Captain Duncan?” Murdoch asked.
“ What I’ve seen or what I’ve heard?” Scott asked.
“ Maybe both son. I would like to know if your brother will be alright.”
“ Major Hunter is a good man, but I wouldn’t trust Johnny alone with Captain Duncan. The mans ways are how shall I say it, beyond unorthodox.”
“ Maybe you should tell your brother tonight after supper.” Murdoch suggested.
“ If Johnny hadn’t asked me to watch over Teresa and the baby, I would go with him.” Scott said as Johnny walked over to them.
“ We need to talk brother after supper. I need to know what you know about Captain Duncan. I seen the scowl on your face when the Major introduced him.” Johnny said.
“ Alright brother.” Scott responded.
“ So this Captain Duncan you say is a not so nice guy. I don’t see what that has to do with the Army buying my horses?” Johnny said at breakfast the next morning.
“ No, he’s not. Or at least he wasn’t when I served under Major Hunter.” Scott responded.
“ So what do you think he’s going to do Scott, try and steal the horses?” Johnny asked sarcastically. “ I mean I was going to make seventy five hundred dollars selling them in Colorado. Selling them to the Army at Fort Klamath in Oregon is closer and I’ll make eleven thousand two hundred and fifty dollars. That’s three thousand seven hundred and fifty dollars more money. Money Lancer needs right now with the winter we just had.”
“ There’s no need for you to be sarcastic toward me Johnny. All I was saying is the man has very unorthodox ways of doing things. Don’t trust him.” Scott snapped back.
“ It’s not him I’m dealing with Scott. It’s Major Hunter, or do you not trust him too?” Johnny responded.
“ Yes I trust Major Hunter. Unless he’s changed, I trust him almost as much as I would trust you with my life.” Scott said.
“ I appreciate that brother. The feeling is mutual. Look, I won’t be alone. Frank,Joe and Walt will be with me.” Johnny stated.
“ Johnny, I know you asked Scott to watch over your family while you’re gone, but I would feel better as your father if he went with you as well as a couple more men.” Murdoch suggested.
“ We can’t spare any more men go with me. I’ll be leaving you short handed as it is.” Johnny responded.
“ I can hire a couple extra men to fill in until you get back son. It would make me feel a lot better knowing your brother was with you.” Murdoch said.
“ It would make me feel better too Johnny.” Teresa added. “ Please.”
“ Okay. I’ll take Scott and three more men with me. Well let them know when we ride out to look at the herd.” Johnny said as Maria set a plate of bacon on the table.
“ Tú también me harás sentir mejor, Juanito. Teresa y el bebé estarán bien mientras te vayas. Tu tío Cipriano cuidará a su gran sobrina con su vida.” Maria said. ( You will make me feel better too Juanito. Teresa and the baby will be fine while you are gone. Your uncle Cipriano will guard his great niece with his life.)
“ Gracias mamacita.” Johnny said as he grabbed some bacon. “ I guess you and that stallion will have time to get to know each other better.” he added.
“ I thought you only wanted Barranca to be the only stallion?” Scott asked.
“ I did. But if one of us stays at the back, and one at the front with the lead mare of the band, we should be alright. We’ll just have to make sure and keep them apart at all times so they don’t fight.” Johnny responded.
“ The lead mare?” Teresa asked.
“ Yeah. Every herd of wild horses has one. It’s usually the oldest, smartest most cunning mare. You remember that big chestnut mare with the star and four white socks? She was the first one I broke.” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah. I remember you saying she might not make a good horse because of her temperament.” Scott said.
“ She won’t, but I could be wrong. The only reason I’m keeping her is because she’s the lead mare of that herd. Once we get them there, It’s up to them if they want to mess with her.” Johnny responded.
“ Are you planning on telling them about her son?” Murdoch asked.
“ I’ll remind them that they’re only green broke and will need finished.” Johnny said. “I saddled the horses earlier, so I’ll meet you outside.”
“ Murdoch, would you hold Mary please? I want to walk outside with Johnny.” Teresa asked.
“ Of course. Come to grandpa sweetheart.” Murdoch responded as he took Mary.
Teresa followed Johnny outside. “ Johnny, you think maybe we could spend some time alone together before you leave?”
“ I don’t see why not. What’d you have in mind?” Johnny asked.
“ Maybe taking a ride, just the two of us for an afternoon.” Teresa suggested.
“ I’ll see what I can do.” Johnny said before kissing her.
“ Are you ready or shall I go back inside?” Scott asked as he walked out.
“ I’m ready brother. I’ll see you this afternoon.” Johnny said before giving Teresa another kiss before swinging up in the saddle.
“ How they looking?” Frank asked Joe.
“ Looking good. Seem content on all that lush green grass.” Joe responded as Walt rode up.
“ Why don’t you two go get some breakfast. I just made a fresh pot of coffee.” Frank said.
“ Sounds good.” Walt responded.
“ Hey Frank, you’ve worked at Lancer a while haven’t ya?” Joe asked.
“ Three years. I don’t think there’s another ranch in the valley that would treat a hand as good as Lancer does. Cept maybe the Conway ranch. Why?” Frank asked.
“ So you were here already when Johnny came home?” Joe asked.
“ Sure was. Walt here was too. Mister Lancer was so happy to have both his boys back home again.” Frank responded.
“ Especially Johnny. He had the Pinkerton’s looking for him since he was taken away by his mother when just a baby. Found him just in time too.” Walt said.
“ What do ya mean?” Joe asked.
“ He was about to be executed by a Mexican firing squad.” Frank responded.
“ So it’s true then. Johnny is Madrid?” Joe said.
“ Was. He’s not no more. All he wants to be now is Johnny Lancer, and that’s fine by us. He’s a damn good man.” Walt responded.
“ What about the other ranchers and people in the valley. They know who he was?” Joe asked.
“ Yeah they know, and most have no problem with him being an ex gunfighter.” Frank said.
“ I’d heard things about him, Madrid that is, when down around Laredo. People below the border call him their Patron Saint. I heard how he would hire his gun out for just a belly full of beans to help a village. Most range wars he hired out to, he always took the winning side and always stayed on the side of the law.” Joe said.
“ I’ve heard tell it’s not easy for a man to get out of the game once he has a reputation like Johnny does. All he wants to do is be the son of a rancher, and now a husband and father.” Frank said.
“ What if people find out where Madrid is? Won’t they come calling him out to take that reputation?” Joe asked.
“ A few have. Even one Johnny fired. He came calling on Johnny’s wedding day.” Walt responded. “ You wear your gun like a gunfighter does. Are you one?” Walt asked.
“ Nothing like Johnny. Don’t worry, I’m not about to call him out. I like him. I just became a half ass gunfighter to have money for whiskey, women and food.” Joe responded.
“ You know, Johnny selling these horses to the Army is gonna bring him over seven thousand dollars. That alone makes the long trip to Colorado well worth it.” Frank said.
“ Are you serious. That’s a lot of money. Hell if people find out he has that much money on him coming back, we could be robbed.” Joe said.
“ Johnny will have the money wired to the Lancer account. He won’t carry that much money on him.” Frank said.
“ So will he pay us when we get there, or when we get back here?” Walt asked.
“ I don’t rightly know. Here he comes now with Scott, so why don’t you ask him.” Frank suggested.
“ Joe, Might I suggest you not mention what was said here a few minutes ago.” Frank suggested.
“ Not a problem. Truth be told, I’m glad Johnny Madrid got out of the game.” Joe responded as Johnny and Scott rode up.
“ How they doing?” Johnny asked as he got down.
“ Real good. They’re settled down now and loving that lush green grass. You gonna use that big chestnut mare as the lead mare?” Joe asked.
“ That’s the plan. Why?” Johnny responded.
“ She’s the boss. Any of them others start getting out of line and she sets ’em straight. All those geldings I think have their stallion urges gone now.”
“ Let’s go up to the line shack. I need to talk to you fellas about something that happened yesterday.” Johnny suggested.
“ Sure. We’re still going to Colorado ain’t we Johnny?” Walt asked.
“ That’s what I need to talk to you boys about.” Johnny said as he tied Barranca to the hitch rail and stepped up on the porch.
“ There’s a fresh pot of coffee made.” Frank said. “ I’ll get the pot and some cups.”
“ Have a seat guys. After you left yesterday Joe, we had some visitors. A Major Hunter and Captain Duncan came to the ranch. It seems they bought our herd.” Johnny said as Frank brought the coffee out and poured everyone a cup.
“ They came all the way out here from Colorado to tell you that?” Walt asked.
“ Not exactly. They came from Fort Klamath in Oregon. Those mustangs are going up there instead.” Johnny responded.
“ The War Department is paying Johnny seventy five dollars a head to bring them up there.” Scott said.
“ Seventy five dollars a head. Wow Johnny. That’s a lot more money than Colorado. How come?” Joe asked.
“ It seems they’re at war with the Modoc and Paiute Indians. The Major is setting it up for us to be escorted by soldiers from Fort Bidwell.”
“ Wait a minute Johnny. Fort Bidwell is in northwestern California.” Frank said.
“ Yes it is. He wants us to take the herd north then cut east to Fort Bidwell where they will escort us to a small settlement called Bly where we will be escorted to Fort Klamath by Captain Duncan and a detachment. I felt it’s only right to tell you fellas the change in plans due to the chance of encountering hostile Indians.” Johnny said.
“ We’re still going with ya Johnny. We all knew the risk when we were going to Colorado. Ain’t no different.” Joe said.
“ I appreciate it, and I promise I will pay you guys good for this. Scott will be going with us as well as three more hands.” Johnny said. “ I want you all to have at least one fully broke extra remount so we don’t wear a horse out.”
“ You riding that stallion Scott?” Frank asked.
“ I had planned to.” Scott answered. “ Me and Johnny will keep Barranca and the black apart, if that’s what you’re concerned about.”
“ That chestnut mare may not like Barranca Johnny. She knows the black. He was the stallion of this herd.” Frank said.
“ Mostly. She’ll get used to him.” Johnny said before taking a sip of coffee.
“ Can I ask you a question Johnny?” Joe asked.
“ We getting paid when we get there or when we get back here?”
“ The money will be wired to the Lancer account. You’ll get paid when we get back.” Johnny said. “ There’s one more thing you all need to know, the Major said we could run into trouble from the local ranchers and miners up there. The miners might try and steal some horses for food or whatever, and the ranchers, they’re no to happy with the Army being there…….So they find out we’re bringing horses in to them, they might try something.”
“ I thought since it will be our last time in at least two months, we would all ride into town tonight and have a few beers my treat.” Johnny suggested.
“ That sounds good to me. Thank you Johnny.” Joe responded.
“ Thank you.” said Frank and Walt.
“ How many pack horses we taking for supplies?” Frank asked.
“ Four will be enough. I’ll have two men handle them while the rest of us handle the herd.” Johnny said.
“ You know, I gotta say, I’ve watched you training that there black Johnny, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone have a way with a horse the way you do. It’s like you get in their head.” Joe said.
“ I would have to agree with you on that Joe. My little brother has a gift.” Scott said.
‘ I learned it from an old man in Mexico. He taught me that if you break a horse’ spirit or are mean to them, then you did something wrong when breaking them.” Johnny responded.
“ I heard tell Indians break their horse in the water. That it’s the safest way for them to get used to someone on their back because they can’t buck.” Joe said.
“ I heard that too, and some may. You won’t find a more loyal horse than an Indians. It won’t let anyone ride it but it’s owner.” Johnny responded. “ Let’s head back to the ranch and get cleaned up and head into town.”
“ What about the herd?” Frank asked.
“ They’re settled down now. They’re not going to leave the area.” Johnny responded.
“ Not with all that green grass and plenty of water.” Walt said.
“ And no stallion to lead them away.” Scott added.
Murdoch looked up from the ledger he was writing in when Teresa walked into the room. “ My grand daughter sleeping?”
“ Yes. Can I ask you something and it stay between us?” Teresa asked.
“ You know you can ask me anything you want young lady.” Murdoch said.
“ It’s about Johnny. He’s going to be away from us for about four months. You don’t think he will…………That he’ll……..”
“ Be unfaithful to you while he’s gone?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes. I know I should have faith in him, and trust him. It’s just that……..”
“ Teresa, Scott will be with him and keep him from doing anything of the sort. Besides, I don’t think he would be that stupid. Johnny has changed a lot since marrying you. He loves you and I really don’t think he would do anything to risk losing you and the baby.” Murdoch responded.
“ Then why am I having these doubts about it?” Teresa asked.
“ I know it’s none of my business, but has something happened between you and Johnny to make you have these doubts?” Murdoch asked.
“If you mean in bed, no. Johnny has been very wonderful and understanding. That’s the problem. Before he left with Scott this morning, I asked him if we could go for a ride to be alone and he said he would see what he could do. It’s like he doesn’t want to touch me anymore.”
“ Teresa, Maria felt like you do also. I never meant for her to after she had Johnny. I knew her body would need time to heal so I let her be.” Murdoch explained. “ Maybe Johnny isn’t sure you’re ready for that again. Tell ya what, tonight during supper I will tell John I want him to ride up to Black Mesa and check the fence out. I’ll suggest that he take you with him. Give you two some time alone. I can manage my grand daughter while you’re gone.”
“ Oh Murdoch, you think it will work? I mean, I know he has a lot on his mind with the drive less than a week away now. I just want some time alone with him before I’m alone without him for four months.” Teresa responded.
“ We’ll give him no choice, and if it doesn’t work, you can always threaten him with sleeping upstairs.” Murdoch said with a slight laugh.
“ Johnny, I want you to ride up to Black Mesa tomorrow and check the fence line and creeks for me.” Murdoch asked.
“ Can’t one of the hands do it Murdoch? I’ve got the drive coming up in a few days.” Johnny responded.
“ I want you to do it. Now I’ve been pretty lenient toward you about the horses and slacking on your chores. I want you to do this. You can go into town for a couple beers tonight with the men, but I want you back at a reasonable time for tomorrow. Is that understood?”
“ Yes sir.” Johnny answered.
“ Why don’t you go with him Teresa? The two of you need some time together, just the two of you before he leaves.” Scott suggested. “ I can watch my niece tomorrow, unless Murdoch has something I should be doing as well?”
“ I think that would be alright.” Murdoch responded.
“It’s getting late fellas. We better head back.” Johnny said as he took the last swig of his beer.
“ We leave now we can be back by midnight.” Frank said. “ I have to ride out to Black Mesa tomorrow and check the fence and creeks.”
“ Murdoch has Johnny doing that tomorrow Frank.” Scott said.
“ Okay. I got other stuff I can do before we leave.” Frank said.
“ Lets go.” Johnny said as he stood up and headed to the door.
“ Thanks for the cold beers Johnny.” Frank,Joe and Walt said.
“ You earned it.” Johnny said as the five of them stepped outside and down to their horses.
“ Johnny Madrid……I’m calling you out Madrid.” a voice yelled from the shadows across the street.
Johnny stopped next to Barranca and laid his head against the golden stallions neck. “ No.” he said softly.
“ Come on over and face me Madrid.” the man said as he stepped into the middle of the street.
“ Johnny.” Scott said.
“Scott.” Johnny said and received a nod as he walked out into the street.
“ Oh my god. Is this guy really doing this?” Joe asked.
“ Listen to me, you have got to stand still and not say anything to distract Johnny.” Scott ordered as people came out of the saloon to watch.
“ I don’t know you mister. Ride out now and we can forget all about this.” Johnny said.
“ Not a chance Madrid.” the man said as he went for his gun.
Johnny drew and fired, hitting the man square in the chest as his gun came up and fired, the bullet hitting at Johnny’ feet. Standing there a few seconds before walking over to the man laying in the street dying.
“ It didn’t have to happen.” Johnny said as he knelt down next to the man.
“ You……beat me.” the man said softly. “ I thought I could kill you.” he said before his eyes closed.
“ Johnny.” Scott said as he walked over to his brother. “ Lets go home.”
“ It was a fare fight Johnny, we all seen it.” a voice yelled.
“ That’s right. He called you out.” another said.
Johnny stood up as the undertaker walked over. “ I never got his name Carl.” he said.
“ I know it. He came by and told me the other day. He’s been hanging around town waiting for you to come in.” Carl stated. “ He ever gave me money for his funeral. Said he wanted you to kill him. Said he was sick and dying and didn’t want to die that way, so he was going to have you kill him.”
“ What?” Johnny said.
“ He said he had a cancer and didn’t want to waste away dying a horrible death from it like the doctors told him he would. Said he’d been looking for you and heard you were here.” Carl stated. “ I’m sorry Johnny. I didn’t know you were in town or I would have told you.”
“ What was his name?” Johnny asked.
“ Gram Parker. Never said where he was from though. Just wants his name and date of birth and death on his tombstone.” Carl said.
“ Thanks.” Johnny said before walking with Scott over to Barranca, mounting up and galloping out of town.
“ Is he alright Scott?” Joe asked.
“ He just needs a little time alone. Lets go home.” Scott responded.
Johnny and Teresa spent the day riding fence talking and making love in the warm afternoon sun. Teresa knew her husband was still bothered by what happened in town, and couldn’t believe what Scott said that morning as Johnny just sat there eating his breakfast. Riding back to the ranch, Johnny told her what happened and why the man did it. Her heart ached as she listened to the hurt in his voice.
“ You had no way of knowing why. It isn’t your fault Johnny.” she said.
“ I wish I had never picked up a damn gun.” Johnny responded.
“ Johnny, picking up a gun made you who you are today. And I’m proud to have you as my husband.”
Johnny stopped his horse. “ Teresa, I need to tell you something. I don’t want you thinking I’ll be unfaithful to you when I’m gone. There’s no woman anywhere that could make me feel as good as you do. I will never be unfaithful to you. I love you and will never do anything to risk losing you or our daughter.”
“ It has been on my mind, but after making love with you this afternoon, I know I don’t have to worry about you being with another woman when your gone. Just make sure you come back home to me and Mary Elizabeth.” Teresa responded.
“ I plan too.” Johnny said before leaning over and kissing her.
The day finally came. Four pack horses full of supplies and eight riders gathered around the corral.
“ You boys be careful, all of you. I want you all back safe and sound.” Murdoch said.
“ That’s the plan old man.” Johnny said as he checked Barranca’ cinch and then walked over to Teresa. “ I’ll miss you both.”
“ We will miss you.” Teresa said with tears in her eyes.
“ Me or Scott will send a wire when we can letting you know how we’re doing.” Johnny said.
“ I’ll be counting the days until I hold you in my arms again Johnny.” Teresa responded.
Johnny gave her and the baby a kiss, shook Murdoch’ hand and mounted up. “ Let’s go get our horses and go to Oregon boys.”
Murdoch and Teresa stood there watching them ride away until they could no longer see them. It’s going to be a long four months.” Teresa said as she turned to walk back in the house with Murdoch.
Continued in (The) Mustangers
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