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A Matter Of Vengeance by Nancy Marie

All original characters belong to their rightful owners. All others belong to me and may not be used without my permission.


Johnny Madrid
Scott Lancer
Murdoch Lancer
Teresa O’Brian
Sam Jenkins
Jack Slade – outlaw
Luke Short – outlaw
Reno – gunfighter
Loretta Cooper
Ben Cooper – son (14 years old)
Sheriff Johnny Behan
Deputy Sheriff Billy Breckenridge
Texas Jack – gunfighter

Word count: 36,915

Chapter 1

” Where are you and your son headed? ” Scott Lancer asked as the stage bounced along.

” San Francisco to visit my sister. ” she responded. ” Is it always so bumpy? ”

” I’m afraid so ma’am. ” Scott responded.

” Were are you heading? ” she asked.

” Back home. Me and my father have a ranch in the San Joaquin valley. ” he replied. ” We came down here to look at some cattle. ”

” Oh my, I completely forgot my manners. I’m Loretta Cooper and this is my son Ben. ”

” Scott Lancer, and this is my father, Murdoch Lancer. ” Scott said as he noticed the other man sitting across from them raise his head and glare hard at his father. He couldn’t help but notice the ice cold blue eyes the man had.

” You’re Murdoch Lancer? ” Johnny asked with coldness in his voice.

Murdoch glared back at the young man, noticing his blue eyes. ” Do I know you? ”

” Yo no, pero conociste a mi madre, gringo bastardo…….Nombres Madrid, Johnny Madrid……Lancer. ”   ( Not me, but you knew my mother you gringo bastard. Names Madrid, Johnny Madrid……Lancer. )

Scott shot a look at the young man and then at his father. ” Johnny? ” he said softly.

Murdoch started to say something when a shot rang out and the stage started to slow down and stop.

” You draw that and you’ll get the woman and boy killed. ” Johnny said as he aimed his colt at the man. It took every ounce of his being to not pull the trigger and kill the man who did his mother wrong all those years ago.

” Alright, toss them guns out the window, come on out and don’t do anything stupid. ” Slade ordered.

” You want to try and use that scatter gun, go ahead, otherwise throw down that strong box. ” Short ordered.

The stage driver threw down his scatter gun and the strong box and raised his hands back up.

” Hey now, would you look at that.” the third man said as he got off his horse. ” That there’s a fine looking woman. ”

” Knock it off. ” Slade ordered before shooting the lock off the strong box.

” I’ll just be taking that there locket lady. ” Reno said as he reached for it.

” Please don’t. It’s the last thing my husband gave me before he died. ” she pleaded.

” Out here lady sentimental value means nothing. Hand it and that wedding ring over. ”

” No. ” she said.

” The lady said no! ” Johnny said coldly as he stepped in front of the woman.

” Well I will be damned. Look who it is! ” Short said. ” It’s our old riding friend Johnny Madrid. ”

Slade finished putting the money in his saddlebags and tossed them to Short. ” I got eyes. ” he said as he mounted up and rode over to Johnny. ” Leave the woman alone. Been a long time kid.  Mount up, we got what we came for. ”

Reno mounted up and turned his horse to face Madrid. ” You remember the last time I seen you, I said the next time we met, we would have to find out which one of us is better. ” Reno said as he aimed his pistol at Johnny, and  pulled the trigger. ” See you soon Madrid. ”

Johnny knew what was going to happen and tried to prepare himself mentally watching as Reno smiled just before he pulled the trigger

Loretta watched  in horror as Johnny staggered backwards and grabbed the back of the stagecoach to keep from falling. Going to his side, she pulled his shirt up to check the wound.  ” Help me get him in the stagecoach. ”

” No……I don’t need his help. ” Johnny said.

Scott ignored what Johnny said and helped get him back in the stage.

” How far to the next town or stop? ” Loretta asked as they put Johnny in the stage.

” Tucson, about an hour. ” he said.

” I can make it. ” Johnny said. ” It’s just a flesh wound. ”

” How could you be so stupid?” Slade demanded. ” Do you realize what you have done? ”

” What, we got the money! ” Reno responded.

” I’m not talking about the money you idiot. You shot Madrid. Why? ”

” Yeah I shot him. What’s it matter? ”

” It matters jackass because we rode together. He never did anything to us.  Shooting him, especially when he’s unarmed guarantee’s he will come after us for revenge. ”

” What the hell were you thinking? ”Short asked harshly.

” As usual he wasn’t. ” Slade said. ” We had a damn good thing going until you blew it. ”

” I hope he does come after us. I told him I wondered which one of us were the best. ” Reno said.

” We need to lay low for a while. Go north where Madrid won’t go. ” Short suggested.

” I’m heading to my brothers ranch in South Dakota. ” Slade said. ” I have nephew I haven’t seen since he was four and a niece I’ve never seen. ”

” South Dakota. ” Short said. He knew Slade had a brother with a ranch in Wyoming, not South Dakota. Seeing the look Slade gave him, told him he had a reason for lying.

” I’m sheriff Behan, I need you to tell me what happened. ”

” Sheriff, I’m Murdoch Lancer and this is my son Scott. ”

” Where you the only two on the stage besides Madrid? ” the sheriff asked.

” No sir.” Scott said. ” There was a woman….Loretta Cooper and her son Ben as well. ”

” Do you know if she’s staying here? ”

” I believe she is at the doctors worried about that……..”

” She didn’t want to leave until she knew he was going to be alright. ” Scott cut in and said.

” What’s Madrid to her? ”

” The one who shot him was going to steal a broach she’s wearing. It was the last thing she got from her husband before he died. Johnny stepped in and stopped it. ” Scott said.

” Did he know the robbers? ”

” Yes! ” Murdoch snapped.

” Not in the way you are thinking sheriff. He wasn’t with them. ” Scott said.

” We don’t know that. He could have been on that stage  as a scout for that strong box. ” Murdoch said firmly.

” You seem a little angry.  Do you know Johnny Madrid? ” Sheriff Behan asked.

” No, I never seen that……..I’ve heard all about that ruthless killer. ” Murdoch said with irritation. ” His kind are always trouble. ”

The more Sheriff Behan talked to Murdoch Lancer, the angrier he was getting at the man. Especially the way he assumed and talked about Madrid. ” You know Lancer… have a problem with gunfighters, that is damn obvious. ” Behan said. ” You’re not from here, so let me tell you something about Johnny Madrid you arrogant sonofabitch. That boy has saved a lot of lives along the border. There isn’t a rancher anywhere along the border who hasn’t been helped by Madrid. He is not a ruthless killer as you so claim. As far as I’m concerned you can take your ass back to wherever you came from. ” he said before leaving the hotel lobby.

” Just who the hell does that man think he is speaking to me like that. ” Murdoch demanded.

” I could say the same about you sir. ” Scott said. ” You seem to have no problem passing judgment on someone you know nothing about.”

” Know nothing about……I have heard the stories about Johnny Madrid.”

” Exactly…..stories. Stories that every time told probably change to benefit the one telling it…..Just like those dime store novels. Fabricated. ” Scott said as he stood up. ” Regardless of what you think of him, that woman and her son are still alive because of him. You judge a book by it’s cover to suit you, and that’s not right. What did he say to you in Spanish before we were stopped? ”

” Nothing. ”

” You dare stand there and lie to me. He called you a gringo bastard and said something about his mother and then said his name was Johnny Madrid Lancer. ”

” He is not my Johnny! ”

” You don’t know that. He’s been missing for twenty years. ”

” I know my son would never become a ruthless killer. ”

” Why…..because he was born Lancer? ” Scott demanded.

” Yes dammit! ” Murdoch said with anger. ” Where are you going? ”

” To see my brother. ” Scott said as he put his coat on and went to the door.

” You’re lucky Johnny. The bullet didn’t do any damage. ” the doctor said.

” I’ve had worse doc. ” Johnny said as he put his shirt back on.

” Let the wound heal. Stay in Tucson a few days. ”

” Behan still the sheriff ? ”

” He is and I expect he will want to talk to you about what happened. ” the doctor said. ” There is a woman and her son waiting outside to see you. ”

” She’s still here? ” he asked.

” Yes, and she seems quite worried about you Johnny. ”

Johnny picked up his holster and slowly walked out with the doctor.

” Thanks doc. ” Johnny said.

” You shouldn’t be walking! ” Loretta said. ” Let me help you to the hotel. ”

” I’m alright ma’am. It’s just a flesh wound. ”

” Don’t argue with me Mister Madrid.” she said as Scott entered the office. ” Would you help me get him to the hotel please?”

Scott seen the look in Madrid’s eyes telling him he didn’t need any help.

Thirty minutes later Johnny sat in a chair in his room with a bottle of tequila.

” Are you really Johnny Madrid? ” Ben asked.

Johnny looked at her and smiled. ” I am. Does that frighten you? ”

Ben walked over and wrapped his arms around his neck and kissed him on the cheek. ” Thank you for what you did for my mommy. ”

Johnny wrapped his left arm around him and hugged him back.

” Careful Ben, he has stitches. ” Loretta said. ” I can’t thank you enough for what you did. I should have let him have it. ”

” If you had your gun, would you have shot them? ” the boy asked.

Johnny looked at her mother. ” Ben, what you read about me in those dime novels, most of it is a lie. I have never murdered a man. ” Johnny said. ” Don’t ever get to a point where you take killing lightly. It’s not a good thing to kill a man or cause a man to get killed. Makes you sick inside. ”

” But isn’t it murder when you kill the men who call you out? ” Ben asked.

” No. I don’t want to kill them. They give me no choice. ” Johnny said. ”You know, it’s easy to kill a man, but it’s impossible to bring him back to life again. ”

” Then why do they call you out? ” he asked.

” Those men who call me out… so trying to take my reputation as the fastest. ”

” You could quite ” Loretta said..

Johnny looked at her and smiled. ” I’ve been trying to get out of the game. ” he said. ” I’ve been working for Wells Fargo for the last two years guarding gold shipments from San Diego to Los Angeles. ”

” Well we’ll leave you to rest. ” Loretta said as she wrote down where they would be staying in San Francisco. ” Again, thank you. ”

Johnny watched Loretta and Ben leave before looking over at Scott. ” Why you still here? ”

” I wanted to make sure you were alright. ” Scott said.

” Why so you can go tell that……Look, you know who I am……..lets leave it at that. ”

Scott smiled. ” I seen the look in your eyes on the stage when you heard who we were. The look you gave our father. ”

” Just because we share that old mans blood think that means anything. You mean nothing to me. ”

” When did your mother die? ”

” She didn’t die…..She was murdered. ” Johnny said as he stood up and walked over to the bed to sit down and remove his boots. ” I was ten. Now if you don’t mind close the door on your way out. ”

” Alright. ” Scott said as he went to the door and opened it. ” What will you do now? ”

” Why you writing a book? ”

” No, but if I was I would call it The Courage of Johnny Madrid. Take care of yourself. ” Scott said before leaving the room.

” I’m not going back with you sir. ” Scott said.

” What, why? ” his father asked. ” Don’t tell me you’re staying here because of him. He is not your brother and I will not allow you to stay here and get yourself killed because of him. ”

” Last night I learned a lot about him and he is not the ruthless killer you think he is. He has been on his own with nobody to care about him since he was ten years old. Maria was murdered in Mexico, he’s been abused most if his life and that is why he lives by a gun. ” Scott said firmly.  ” It might interest you to know that for the past two years he has been working for Wells Fargo guarding gold shipments from San Diego to Los Angeles. He has never been around when the robberies happened until yesterday. ”

” Do I have to remind you of your responsibility back at Lancer? ”

” Lancer will be fine without me there. It was before I came home. ” Scott said. ” When I come back….I’m coming back with my brother. ”

Johnny walked down to the livery stable ten days later. ” You ain’t retired yet Jack? ”

” Hey kid, how the hell ya been? ” Jack asked. ” I’ll never retire. You know that. ”

” Good. You? ” Johnny said and asked.

” Still kickin. What can I do for ya? ”

” I need a good horse. ”

” I got a good one, he’s about five. A mustang nobody’s been interested in. He’s in the last stall.” Jack said.

Johnny walked to the last stall and looked at the horse. Standing there was a stallion as black as midnight. Opening the gate he walked in and checked the horse over.

” Well I’ll be damned. You’re the first man to be able to enter that stall and not have him try and bite ya. ” he said.

” How much you want for him? ” Johnny asked.

” For you with tack….seventy five dollars. ”

” I’ll give you a hundred if you’ll shoe him? ” Johnny said as he led the horse out of the stall.

” I’ll get ya a bill of sale. ”

Johnny led the horse outside as Scott walked up to him.

 ” Good looking horse. ” he said as he patted the stallions neck.

” What are you still doing here? ” Johnny asked.

” I thought I would ride with you. ”

” Me. Why? ” Johnny asked.

” Because I don’t think you should do what you’re going to do alone. ”

” And just what am I going to do? ”

” Go after those men. ” Scott said. ” Look, I know how to take care of myself. ”

Johnny looked him up and down. ” It won’t be no Sunday picnic I’m going on. ”

” I didn’t think it would be. ” Scott said.

” I bet your old man is real happy you staying behind. ” Johnny said as he started brushing his horse.

” Are you always so disrespecting to older men, or is it just our father? ”

Johnny stopped brushing the horse and looked at him. ” Respect has to be earned from me. ”

” Fair enough.” Scott said before walking away.

” So who shot ya? ”

Johnny rubbed the blacks face. ” Reno. ”

” Reno, why the hell did he do that ? ” Jack asked. ” Didn’t you ride with him a few years ago? ”

” For a short time I did. Seems he’s robbing stages now with Jack Slade and Luke Short. ”

” You mean Slade and Short are the ones…..well hell, no wonder the law can’t find em. I heard tell an Apache couldn’t track Slade once the mans that good at covering up his tracks. ” Jack said. ” There ya go kid. All shod for ya. You want me to put provisions together for the horses? ”

” Yeah, about ten pounds each should be enough. ” Johnny said as he led the black back to his stall. ” You remember that place Slade said his brother has in Wyoming? ”

” Wyoming, let’s see…..we were all pretty drunk that night……I think he said it’s outside Casper somewhere at the base of the mountains. ” Jack said as the sheriff walked up to them.

” Johnny, how you feeling? ”

” Better. I was wondering when you would come talk to me. ”

” I figured I would give you time to heal up. ” the sheriff said. ” Lancer seems ta think you were involved in the robbery. ”

” The old man, I figured as much. Look, I wasn’t involved. ”

” I know you weren’t kid. I was just saying. ” Sheriff Behan said. ” So who was it? ”

Johnny looked at Jack. ” Reno, Jack Slade and Luke Short. ”

” The one who shot you…..Reno, you going after him? ”

” I’m leaving in the morning. ”

” I understand why. You take care of yourself. ” the sheriff said as they shook hands. ” Send me a wire when you catch them.”

Murdoch walked in the house, glad to be home and able to sleep in his own bed.  ” Murdoch, you’re home. ” Teresa said as she hurried to him and wrapped her arms around him. ” I missed you and Scott so much. ”

” I missed you as well sweetheart. ”

” Where’s Scott? ” she asked.

” He didn’t come back with me. ” he said as he walked over to his desk and started looking thru the stack of mail.

” Why, what happened? ” she asked.

Murdoch walked over to the sideboard, poured a shot of scotch and told her what happened.

” Johnny Madrid…….I’ve heard men talk about him. ” she said. ” Are you sure he’s your Johnny? ”

” I sent a wire to the Pinkerton’s requesting they find out everything they can about that boy. ”

” What’s he like? ”

” He’s arrogant, rude, unruly and has no manners. ” Murdoch said. ” It’s obvious that boy has had no proper upbringing. ”

” They say he was orphaned when only ten. That his mother was murdered right in front of him. ” Teresa said. ” That would have to be traumatic on any child to see. ”

” He should have been placed in an orphanage and not left to run wild like he has. ”

” Murdoch, you know how horrible those places can be, especially in Mexico. ” she said.

” He made the choice he made to live by his gun and become the killer he is. ”

” If you feel that way…..why did you allow Scott to stay behind? ”

” He’s a grown man. I can’t force him to do what he doesn’t want to do. ” Murdoch said. ” I’m going to go soak in a hot bath and rest before supper. ”

Teresa walked back in the kitchen to start preparing supper. She couldn’t help but wonder what Johnny was really like and if Scott would be able to bring him home.

” It’s beautiful here. ” Scoot said as he looked around at the tall red cliffs along the San Juan river.

” Gets colder than hell in the winter if you don’t know where to shelter. ” Johnny said.

” I wonder who built these? ” Scott asked.

” Pueblo Indians lived here about two hundred years ago. ”

” Can I ask how you know of these places? ”

” Why in the hell are you so interested in me? ” Johnny demanded.

” Easy, I’m just making small talk. ” Scott responded.

” That why you asked Jack about me? ” he said as he sat up. ” Let me tell you something, my past is just that. I don’t know you, and don’t want to know you. So don’t go thinking we are going to become buddies. ”

” Why are you being such a hard-ass? ”

” What he do, divorce your mother? ”

Scott listened to the anger coming from Johnny.  ”  My mother died giving birth to me. ”

” You didn’t grow up out here. Your hands are too soft. ”

” I was raised by my grandfather back in Boston. I’ve only come home just over a year now. ” Scott said.

” Boston huh? ”

” Yes. I went to collage there and then joined the union army. ”

” You were a tin soldier in the war huh? ”

” It was a cavalry unit I was in. I served under General Phil Sheridan. ” he said. ” I was captured and spent a year in Libby prison. A year after I was released I went home to get to know my…….our father. ”

” So just how big is that old mans spread? ”

” One hundred thousand acres with Ten thousand head of cattle. ” Scott said. ” We have a hundred and fifty vaquero’s, some with families working for us. ”

” Better get some sleep. ” Johnny said as he bedding down.

” Shouldn’t one of us keep watch? ” Scott asked.

” He’ll let us know if anything is around. ” Johnny said as he pointed toward his horse.

” Your horse? ”

” Yeah… horse. He’s a stallion. He’ll be on alert more than that gelding you’re riding. ” Johnny said as he tucked his colt in just under his saddle in easy reach.

” Why don’t we stay here instead of going on to South Dakota? ” Reno asked.

Slade leaned forward. ” We’ve only been here overnight. This place is not cheap to live in. ”

” It’s a miners town. ” Short added. ” I don’t see you up in those mountains panning or digging for gold seven days a week for a year. ”

” And maybe get a couple ounces if you’re lucky. ” Slade added. ” You want to stay here, go ahead. ”

” Me too. ” Short added. ” I’m not staying in no damn miners town. ”

” So when we leaving? ” Reno asked.

” In the morning. ” Slade said.

” I’m going to go find me some female company. I’ll see you two in the morning. ” Reno said as he stood up.

Slade waited until Reno left. ” He’s going to get us both killed. ”

” I figured you had it in mind to ditch him after he shot Madrid. ” Short said.

” How’d you know? ”

” Your brother don’t have a ranch in South Dakota. It’s in winter, outside Casper I believe you said. ”

” We’re leaving tonight. It’s a full moon out and he’ll be busy most of the night with a whore and getting drunk. ” Slade said.

” We’ll stop in Colorado Springs  for the night. ” Johnny said. ” We can get a room, sleep in a bed.  Find out if there’s been any Indian activity we should be aware of up north. ”

” What Indians could we come across? ”

” Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Crow. ” Johnny said.

” Jesus….and I thought the war was brutal. ”

” Oh don’t count the squaws out. They’re real good at torturing. They like to beat ya with a switches or sticks, jab you with a sharp stick as well as mutilate your manhood and flaying while still alive. Captives fingernails are ripped out also. ” Johnny added.

” Who’s the absolute worst? ”

” Comanche are the worst. They’re known as The Lord of the Plains and the most dangerous of them all. What they did during the Mexican and American war beats anything done in that there Civil War. ”

” I’ve seen some pretty horrific things done. ” Scott said.

” You seen men buried up to their chin with their eyelids cut off so their eyes were seared by the burning sun before they starved to death? ” Johnny asked.

” Jesus, they really are savages. ” Scott said.

” They’re down south, Texas mainly. You can’t blame them. The white man is raping their land, slaughtering the animals they depend on to survive, destroying rivers and streams for gold and anything else they  want to take. ” Johnny vented.

Research Notes : Chapter 1


Chapter 2

” You go do your shopping while I order some lumber. ” Murdoch said as he helped Teresa down. ” I’ll be back when I’m done. ”

” Murdoch! ” Agatha Conway said as she stopped her buggy. ” Hello Teresa. ”

” Agatha, it’s good to see you. ” Murdoch said.

” How was your trip? ” she asked.

” Good. ” he said. ” Have lunch with us later? ”

” I would love to, but I have to get back to the ranch. ” she said.

” Teresa is going to do some shopping as well. I need to go order some fence and post. I’ll be back shortly. ” he said before walking away.

” Is everything alright Teresa? ” Aggie asked as they walked into the store.

” He’s worried about Scott. ” she said. ” He stayed behind and he doesn’t know where he’s at now. ”

” Stayed behind, why? ”

Teresa told her what happened and about Johnny finally being found.

” Johnny Madrid….That must be why he couldn’t find him all those years. ”

” Murdoch doesn’t want to believe it. He has the Pinkerton’s checking to see if it’s real. ”

” How do you feel about it? ”

” I think it’s wonderful. He’s searched for so long now. ”

” Will Maria and Johnny be coming back to Lancer? ”

” Maria is dead. She was murdered when Johnny was ten. ” Teresa said. ” I guess that’s why he became Johnny Madrid, to stop the abuse he was getting. ”

” Oh my…..Murdoch had to be shocked to hear that? ”

” He’s in denial and I don’t know how to get him to see the truth. I’m worried about him Mrs. Conway. ” she said. ” He’s angry about Scott not coming home with him and I’m afraid that when Scott does come back with Johnny, Murdoch will run him off and Scott will leave too. ”

” You’ve gotten close to Scott haven’t you? ” Aggie asked.

”  Murdoch was so happy when he came home last year. I love having a big brother now. He’s so polite and well mannered. I’ve learned new dishes to cook for him. Food he would have back in Boston. ” Teresa said.

” And if Johnny comes home, how will you feel? ”

” What do you mean? ”

” Well, it’s been just you and Scott with Murdoch. Johnny comes home, Scott is most likely to spend time with him doing things together. Things not appropriate for a young lady to do. ”

” I won’t have a problem with that. I hope Scott and Johnny become brothers. I just hope Murdoch will treat Johnny as a son like he does Scott. ”

” I don’t think Murdoch will do that. ” she said.

” I hope you’re right. ” Teresa said as Murdoch walked int the store.

” You about finished? ” Murdoch asked.

” I am. ” she said. ” Can you come to supper Sunday? ”

” Sunday….I would love to Teresa. ” Aggie said. ” I’ll see you Sunday. ”

” What brings you this far north Madrid? ” the sheriff asked.

Johnny ignored the sheriff. ” You want another beer? ”

” Madrid… got lucky that day in Santa Fe.  El Paso county is my county and Colorado Springs is my town. I want you to leave. Your kind’s not welcome here. ”

” Big man with a tin star pinned on. I wonder if they would let you keep wearing that tin star if they knew what you were responsible for happening in Santa Fe?  Me and my brother will leave your town when we’re ready……in the morning.” Johnny said before heading to the bar to get two more beers. ”

” If you are his brother, do him a favor and get him out of my town and county tonight! ” the sheriff spat.

” Johnny is my brother. ”Scott said as Johnny walked back over to the table. ” You see, we have the same father, but different mothers. I wouldn’t push him or me sheriff. We just stopped for the night. Don’t push us. See……we both have our fathers Scottish temper, but Johnny, he has a bonus with his mothers Mexican temper too. ”

” How about I just throw the two of you in jail for loitering. ” the sheriff said.

” You can try……or you can turn around and leave. ” Johnny said coldly. ” The choice is yours. ”

” So what was it he did in Santa Fe? ” Scott asked after the sheriff left.

” Let a lynch mob have a prisoner. ” is all Johnny would say.

” Murdoch….if Scott gets Johnny to come home with him…..will you welcome him home, or will you run him off because he’s Johnny Madrid? ”

Murdoch looked at her. ” I don’t know he is my Johnny. ”

” But if he is? ”

” I don’t know Teresa. Riding with him on the stage he showed how rude, disrespectful and wild he is. He has no manners or proper upbringing, and a total disrespect for authority. ” Murdoch said. ” I don’t know if I can trust him to be in this house or around you. ”

” You have searched for him for twenty years. That search ends and you’re going to allow him to get away from you because of your stubborn Scottish pride? ”

” I have been searching for my son, Johnny Lancer……Not a gunfighter named Johnny Madrid claiming to be my son. ”

” But why would he say he was if he wasn’t? ” she asked.

” Money. I seen how his demeanor changed when he learned who I was. He could have been on that stage as a plant for someone else hoping I would believe him and welcome him home. ” he explained. ” Once here, he could be working for someone who wants Lancer. ”

” You don’t really believe that do you? ”

” Until I hear from the Pinkerton’s, I don’t know what to believe. ” h said.

Scott sat looking at the list of officers killed at Little Bighorn three days later.

” You alright? ” Johnny asked softly.

” Custer was an arrogant, self righteous bastard. ”

” You ever meet the man? ” Johnny asked.

” Just before the war ended, he joined up with General Sheridan. ” Scott said. ” He had one objective, to win and all cost. He didn’t care who it hurt or killed. ”

” Who’s on that list that you know? ”

” His two younger brother’s Thomas and Boston Custer and nephew, Artie Read. ” Scott said with  sadness. ” These men worth risking your life Johnny? ”

” You can go home anytime you want. ” Johnny said. ” Remember, I didn’t invite you along. ”

” I’m afraid you are not getting rid of me that easy brother. ” Scott said.

Johnny smiled as he poured two shots of whiskey. ” To the men of the seventh. ” he said.

Scott downed his shot and set the glass down. ” So what’s the plan now? ”

” I don’t know about you, but me, I plan on having a good time with those two girls over there. ” Johnny said. ” You want a woman…..I’ll pay. It’s a great way to relieve tension and spent up anger. ”

” You go ahead. I think I’ll go back to the room and sleep. ”

Johnny stood up, downed the last of his beer and walked over to the two young girls standing by the stairs.

Scott shook his head in disbelief as he watched his little brother go upstairs with the two young women.

Johnny closed the door softly and walked over to his bed in the hotel room. He could see his brother in the other bed. Removing his gunbelt and hanging it on the bedpost before sitting down to remove his boots.

” Have a good time? ” Scott asked.

” Yeah…..I did. ” he said as he stood up and removed his shirt and pants before climbing into bed.

Murdoch shook his head in shock at what he was reading. The Pinkerton’s had no problem finding out about Johnny Madrid and what he read, he had a hard time believing. From the night Maria left, taking Johnny with her, he had searched relentlessly for his son always wondering why she left and where they had gone.

Mister Lancer
Upon my investigation of the disappearance of your wife and son twenty years ago, I have learned their whereabouts. When your wife left you, she returned to Matamoros in the company of a man, a gambler, but left shortly after their arrival to a smaller town. Using the man’s name instead of her own they had posed as husband and wife and the small child with them had been said to be their son. The next time they had surfaced had been in Sonora where the gambler had been shot and killed and no one had been sure where the woman and child had gone… this had been all Murdoch had had for all these years but now the truth lay before him. The truth of Johnny Madrid and his life at least what could be pieced together there where many holes in the report as mother and child moved about resurfacing sporadically under the name Ruiz. Maria had no true employable skills but was quite skilled it seemed in entanglements with men and soon was popular amongst many patrons at several cantinas and bordellos moving on to the next town, when the Pinkerton’s got to close. It seemed the woman was never long without a man in her bed.
      Rumors abounded now that they had a name for Johnny as a youth, and as he read on he was horror struck. Some lead to use and abuse of his young son by many but most of all there was the hidden innuendo that possibly his wife herself had also taken part in many abuses of the boy. The half breed blue eyed Mexican in the border towns had suffered beatings and worse. One who was interviewed cited his memories of a starving young child yet precocious and full of energy, a child abused all for his difference. He was surprised the child had lived and was sure even that he had not. In time Maria had been killed by one of her drunken patrons in front of the boy. Put in an orphanage where further abuse happened by other children and even the padre. Every time he ran away, he was found and brought back to be abused more until one day he ran away, and was never found. No one had ever heard of him since but a few towns away the same blue eyes had appeared under the name of simply Juanito. He had worked hard trying to earn whatever pennies he could to survive and stolen what he could until a black smith had caught him. At that point however life looked up some for the child , the smith seeing  that the child truly had no hope in hell if someone did not take him in had been as kind as one could and allowed him to sleep in the loft. He soon discovered the child had a good hand with horses and kept him on even paying him more than just a hay stack to sleep on and food in his belly. The child had still been treated badly all over town for his mixed heritage but he was safe in the blacksmith’s company. The boy had met many a traveler at the blacksmith’s and soon the gunfighters that came through began to pull at the boys attention. Apparently the boy had noted the fear the others in town portrayed to these young men and mistook it for respect. Soon the boy’s interest had turned to the guns the men carried he saved and soon had his own. He would watch as the others practiced and copied them finally one took note of not only his interest but the raw talent was obvious. Soon the boy left and that was the last of young Juanito.
     It was here soon after that Johnny Madrid made his first appearance on the scene and his first kill in Sonora. A brash and confident young man with cold blue eyes whom unlike many of his trade had a quiet and calm demeanor. But as many would say from then on the man Madrid was as deadly as any they had seen. Always facing death with a relaxed countenance some said  death did not wish to find him, it was too afraid.  I talked to many lawmen down along the border and it would seem Madrid is not the hardened killer some like to say he is. In fact, every lawman I talked to spoke highly of the boy. One even witnessed him gun down two of the best in Nogales once and tried everything he could to talk them out of it, as is the case it would seem with every man who calls him out. He doesn’t look for trouble, but it would seem, trouble has a way of finding him, even ambushing him on a trail. He’s been shot numerous times, stabbed  four times, whipped and beaten. Spent a year in a Mexican prison for fighting in the Mexican war against the Rurales. Hires out in range wars and his last job he worked for Wells Fargo guarding gold shipments from San Diego to Los Angeles for two years up until a few months ago when he quit.

J. Mosley
Pinkerton Detective Agency

” Is that from the Pinkerton’s? ” Teresa asked.

” It is. ” he said as he stood up and walked over to pour a drink.

” What does it say? ” she asked.

” Read it. ”

Teresa picked up the letter and read it. ” It is him. Your search is over. Aren’t you happy? ”

” We’re strangers to each other Teresa. I don’t know how to be a father to a boy like that. He’s been wild and free most of his life. He’s had nobody to answer too but himself. Nobody to teach him right from wrong and so many other things. ”

” You weren’t sure about raising me, but you are. Give it a chance if he comes home. ” she responded.

” How far we come? ” Scott asked.

” About nine hundred miles. ” Johnny responded. ” We’ll be in Denver late tomorrow morning. ”

” What are your plans when this is over? ”

” Haven’t really thought about it. I recon I’ll go back south. ”

” Why don’t you come back to Lancer with me? ”

” So that old man can pass judgment on me like he’s already done? ”

” No. Lancer is your birthright Johnny. It’s your home and I want you to come back with me. ”

” And what do you think he’s gonna do the first time I get called out? ”

” We’ll cross that bridge if it happens. ” Scott replied. ” Look, we’ve been gone over two months now. Can you honestly tell me you haven’t thought about what you can have if you do? ”

” Yeah I’ve thought about it some. ” he responded. ” I don’t want to love by my gun forever, but for a man like me to just up and get out of the game will have it’s consequences. I’ll never be able to take this off and live a normal life. ”

” How do you know if you don’t try? ” he asked.

” You can be a real nagger at times you know that Boston? ”

” Boston? ”

” Yeah Boston. That’s where you’re from. ”

” Okay. Get used to it, because I plan to nag on you until you agree to come back with me. ”

” Why do you want me to come back with you o damn bad? ”

” Because I don’t want you to end up dead on some damn trail somewhere. I don’t want you alone anymore. ”

” I’m no alone. I have him. ” Johnny said as he indicated his horse.

” A horse doesn’t count……brother. ” Scott said with a smile. ” Besides I don’t want to be the one to tell Teresa you refused to come back with me. ”

” Who’s she, another one of his quick romance kids? ”

” No. Teresa is his ward. Her father was his foreman for years. He was killed six years ago when she was thirteen. Murdoch has been raising her ever since. ” he explained. ” She’s a very good cook. ”

” What’s she like? ” Johnny asked.

” She’s about your height, brown hair, blue eyes, slender. Her mother ran off and left Paul to raise her when she was a baby. Teresa, like you was born at Lancer. ”

” So how far to Casper from here? ” Scott asked as they sat in a cafe in Denver eating lunch.

” Three hundred miles roughly. ” Johnny replied.

” Can I get you two anything else? ” their waitress asked.

” No, I think we’re good. ” Scott said.

” You fellas just passing thru? ” she asked.

” Unfortunately. ” Johnny said with a smile.

” Johnny Madrid! ” Reno yelled. ” Come on out and face me Madrid! ”

Johnny sighed as he looked tossed his napkin down on his plate.

” What in the world is he yelling about. ” the waitress asked. ”  Who is Johnny Madrid? ”

” Me. ” Johnny said as he stood up and walked to the door. ” Reno. ”

” He must have seen us ride into town. ” Scott said. ” I wonder where the other two are? ”

” Not here. This is between Reno and me.” Johnny said as he pulled his colt and spun the cylinder.

” You sure about that brother? ”

” Sure enough to bet my life. ” Johnny responded before walking out onto the boardwalk.

” It’s time we find out who’s faster half-breed! ” Reno yelled.

Johnny stepped out into the street and faced the man as Marshal Wilson came out of his office.

” Stop this now. There will be no gun play in my town! ” the marshal ordered.

” Gun fighting ain’t against the law tin star. ” Reno said.

” It is in Denver. ” Marshal Wilson said as he stepped out to stand between the two men. ” Which one of you did the calling out? ”

” I did. ” Reno said. ” It’s time we find out who’s faster, me or Madrid there. ”

The marshal looked at Madrid. ” Long way from home Madrid. ”

Johnny nodded, never taking his eyes off Reno.

” Marshal, that man, Reno and two other men are wanted for numerous stagecoach robberies outside Tucson, Arizona and six witnesses seen him shoot Johnny while he was unarmed. ” Scott cut in and said.

” Guess I know now why you’re here in Denver. ” the marshal said.

Johnny’s view was partially blocked of Reno, but he seen enough to see the man go for his gun. ‘‘ Marshal down! ” he yelled as he dove to his left, drew and fired.

Reno stood on wavering legs as a red stain slowly spread across his chest. Dropping to his knees, he fell forward, dead from a bullet straight thru his heart.

Johnny stood up and walked over to the marshal. ” You’re getting old Bill.” he said as Scott walked over to them. ” You alright? ”

” Yeah. ” he said as two other men came over in dark blue uniforms. ” It’s alright Chief Wilcox. ”

” A man lays dead in my street and you say it’s alright! Arrest this man! ”

” Now hold on, Johnny saved my life. That man called him out and would have shot me in the back had it not been for him seeing him go for his gun and yell out. ” the marshal said.

” Marshal Wilson, do I need to remind you who is in charge of this town? ” the chief demanded.

” This is a matter for the marshal….not you. ” Johnny said. ” I may not be a lawman, but I know a thing or two about the law Chief Wilcox. Reno there is a wanted man  in Arizona for attempted murder and robbing several stagecoaches with two other men. Now since he crossed two state lines, that makes it a federal case. ”

Scott stood with his arms crossed smiling as he listened to his little brother explain to the Denver Chief of Police, the law. Amazed at how much of the law he knew.

Chief Wilcox glared at Johnny. ” He causes anymore trouble, it will be your job. ” he said before turning to walk away.

” You can have this badge any time you want it. ” Marshal Wilson said as the Chief waked away. ” Alright folks, clear the street. There’s nothing to see here. ”

Johnny walked over to Scott. ” Go get us a room for the night. ”

” You going to be alright? ” Scott asked.

” Yeah, I’ll be fine. ”

” Murdoch. ” Agatha said as she walked out of her house. ” What brings you here? ”

” I need someone to talk to and you being my oldest, dearest friend. ” he responded before giving her a kiss on the cheek.

” Come and sit down. ” Aggie said. ” Does this have to do with finding your youngest son Johnny? ”

” You know about that? ” he asked.

” Teresa told me. ” she said. ” How do you feel about it? ”

” At first…..I was in denial. ”

” And now? ”

” After reading this, I don’t know. ” he said as he pulled the letter out and handed it to her.

Agatha read the letter and handed it back to him. ” What do you have a problem with accepting the most? The fact that your son became a gunfighter……..or the fact that he’s not a cold-blooded killer like everyone says? ”

” Actually…..neither. ” he said. ” I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and what angers me the most is….Maria is dead…murdered in front of our son and I will never get an answer to why she left me. ”

” Maybe Johnny can give you those answers you feel you need if you feel they’re important to know now. ”

” I thought they were, but now……I don’t know what to say to him if he does come here. ” Murdoch responded. ” I don’t know him. ”

” And he doesn’t know you. Murdoch, if he comes home with Scott take it one day at a time. From what I read in that letter, he won’t know what it’s like to have a roof over his head and people who care about him. ” she said.

” It worries me to have him be around Teresa. He’s wild, and I don’t want him……”

” Teresa is nineteen years old Murdoch. There’s only a couple years between them. Why don’t you wait and see before you jump to conclusions. ” she said and asked.

” Where’s your friend? ” the waitress asked as she brought Johnny his coffee.

” Back at our room asleep. ” Johnny said. ” So where’s your customers? ”

” I’m closed, so they’re probably all home or at the saloon. ” she said.

” Closed. You want me to leave? ”

” No. ” she said as she walked over and locked the front door. ” Names Amanda. ”

” Johnny. ”

” I know. I heard about you when I was down in El Paso a couple years ago. Seems you’re quit a ladies man. ” Amanda said as she headed to the kitchen.

” I’ve had no complaints. ” Johnny said as he stood up and followed her into the back. ” We alone? ”

” Yes we are. ” Amanda said as she turned around and pulled her dress up over her head, dropping it to the floor. ” Been a long time since I had a man. ”


Johnny removed his clothes and walked over to Amanda. Claiming her left breast with hunger as his hands squeezed the right one, making her moan aloud . Sucking, biting and pulling on her nipples as he let his right hand go down between her legs and rub her folds. Sliding two fingers inside her as she spread her legs apart. Kissing his way back up to her mouth, he slid his tongue inside, tasting her and moaning when she took him in her hand and started working his hardness. Knowing he wouldn’t last long if she kept stroking him, he picked her up and backed her up against the wall as his fingers worked her, getting her hotter and ready for when he slid into her tightness.

Amanda couldn’t believe she was finally with the one man she had dreamed of being with one day. The one man she knew would make love to her in a way no other man could, or would. She had heard the girls talk about how good he was in a bed. How good he was at making them climax. Now she was going to find out if what she heard was true. One thing she had heard she seen was true. He was built like a stallion, big,long and thick. ” Oh my god, Johnny…..please I want you inside me. ” she begged.

Johnny guided his hardness to her entrance and entered her hard and fast. Thrusting up into her as she clung to him. Holding onto her, he dropped to his knees and never left her as he lowered her to the rug on the floor. Picking her legs up, he put them on his shoulders and thrust into her faster as the sweat ran down his face and chest. Her breast jiggling exciting him more as he leaned down and started sucking, pulling and biting on them. 

” Oh my god, I’m…..don’t stop! ” she pleaded as her body exploded. Her legs trembling as he continued to thrust into her deep until his own release finally came. Pressing into her as hard as he could, Johnny stayed like he was until he was finished.

Amanda had never climaxed as hard as she did just then. Her body shaking, she clung to his back as she kept her legs on his shoulders. ” Stay inside me. Please, I don;t want this to end, not yet. ” she begged.

Johnny looked into her brown eyes and smiled. ” I’m just getting started. ” he said as he had her turn over and get on her hands and knees. With a little help from his hand. He was hard again and entered her from behind, knowing this would drive her crazy as he reached around and pinched her folds as he started sliding in and out of her again. Raising up, he pulled her up and back against his chest, knowing he was rubbing her spot with every thrust he made. For almost an hour Johnny thrust into her slowly until he brought her pleasure again. Once she exploded, he picked up the pace, shoved her down to the rug and pounded into her, skin slapping skin until he shook and trembled as he released his seed deep inside her. Once he knew he was done, he pulled out of her and laid down on the rug to try and slow his breathing down.

Amanda placed her head on his chest. ” I dreamed of this night ever since El Paso. ” she said. ” You’re everything those girls said and more Johnny Madrid. ”

Johnny pulled her over on top of him and claimed her mouth with hunger. He couldn’t get enough of her and wanted to take her again, regardless of how long it took him to get hard. There was plenty he could do to her with his mouth and hands until he was ready. ” Like I said, I’ve had no complaints. ”


” What the hell are you doing here? ” Mark Slade asked.

” I thought it was about time I come see my nephew and meet his little sister finally. ” Jack said as he dismounted. And hugged his big brother.

” Short, how you doing? ”

” I’m good Mark. Trying to keep your little brother out of trouble. ”

” I fear that’s a lost cause. ” Mark said as he shook Luke’s hand. ” Ron, take care of their horses. How long can you stay? ”

”I thought I would stay the winter. You’ve said it’s beautiful up here in winter time. I thought I would stay and see for myself. ” Jack responded. ” We’ll work for you while here. ”

” Let’s go inside so you can meet Lucy and Matthew. I know Cora will be surprised to see you. ” Mark said. ” She was just asking me the other day about you. Wondering what you’ve been up too. ”

” Oh you know me. I work here and there, making what money I can, when I can. ”

” As long as you’re not in trouble with the law and wanting to hide out here, you two are welcome to stay. ” Mark said as they walked into the huge log cabin home. ” Cora, can you come in here? ”

” What are you yelling for Mark? ” Cora asked as she walked into the room. ” Jack…..oh my goodness, what a wonderful surprise. ”

” Hello Cora. ”

” Uncle Jack! ” Matthew yelled as he ran to his uncle.

” There’s my favorite nephew. ” Jack said as he scooped him up in his arms. ” Look how big you’ve got since I seen you last.”

” I’m your only nephew. ”

” Jack, this is your niece Lucy. ”

Jack set Matthew down and walked over to look at the little girl clinging to her mother. ” Hi. You look just like your mother and are as beautiful. ”

” Who is this man mommy? ”

” Lucy, this is your uncle Jack. ” Cora said.

” Can I have a hug? ” Jack asked.

Lucy stepped closer and let the man hug her.

” Hello Luke. ” Cora said.  ” How long can you stay? ”

” They’ll be staying until the spring. ” Mark said.

” I’ll put fresh linens in the guest rooms. ” Cora suggested.

” I’d prefer to stay in the bunkhouse. ” Luke said.

” You can stay in the house with us. ” Mark said.

” I know. I’d just prefer to stay out there and earn my keep. ” Luke said.

” Alright. Stay in the house tonight and I’ll introduce you both to the men tomorrow and get you settled in. ” Mark suggested.

” How long you think this snow will last? ” Scott asked as he looked out their hotel room window.

” Hard to say. Hotel clerk said there’s a Marshal Canton here. We’ll go talk to him in the morning.”

” You think they’re there? ”

” Only one way to find out. ” Johnny said.

” Back in Denver…….where did you disappear too?’ ”

” I was fulfilling an overdue wish someone had. ”

” Meaning you were with a woman and I would be willing to bet it was the woman from the cafe. ” Scott said.

” I’m a grown man. I don’t need your permission on who I sleep with. ”

” No you don’t. I just hope you’re careful and don’t make a mistake and get caught with a married woman. ”


Chapter 3

” That’s the entrance to the ranch ahead. The main house is a mile on up. ” Marshal Canton said. ” I think the two of you should wait at the gate. If they’re both there, we don’t want them seeing the two of you and running. ”

” I know Slade Marshal Canton, he won’t run. ” Johnny said. ” He gambled I wouldn’t come this far north. ”

” I don’t want any shooting. There are two small children in the house. ” the marshal explained.

” Neither do we. ” Scott said.

” Just so you know I want this to end peacefully. ”

” This is very good Cora. ” Jack said.

” Pa, can Uncle Jack go elk hunting with us? ” Matthew asked.

” I don’t see why not. ” Mark said.

” Do you want to go Uncle Jack? Pa’s letting me kill my first boy elk this year. ”

” Bull elk son. ”

” If you’re going to be the one shooting, I wouldn’t miss it. ” Jack said as someone knocked on the door.

” I wonder who that could be? ” Cora asked.

Mark stood up and went to the door. ” Marshal, what are you doing here this late? ”

” Mark, can I speak to you outside? ”

” I’m in the middle of eating supper Jess. ”

” It’s important. ”

Mark sighed grabbed his coat and walked outside. ” What’s so important you come here and interrupt my supper? ”

” Mark, this is Scott Lancer and Johnny Madrid, they came here from Tucson. ” Jess explained. ” They say your brother Jack is wanted for robbery. ”

” What? ” Mark said with anger. ” There’s got to be a mistake. ”

” There’s no mistake Mark. I have a dodger on him and his friend Luke Short. ” Marshal Canton said as he handed him the papers.

” I asked him when he came here if he was running from the law and wanted to hide out here. He said he wasn’t. Said he came to see his niece and nephew and spend the winter with us. ” he said. ” Who witnessed? ”

” These two were on the stage as well as five others. ” the marshal responded. ” A third man named Reno was killed in Denver. Are they inside? ”

” Jack is. Luke is in the bunkhouse. ” Mark said as he opened the door and headed inside.

Johnny and Scott followed the marshal and Mark into the house.

” Cora, take the kids upstairs. ” Mark ordered.

” What’s wrong pa? ” Matthew asked.

” Do as I said and go upstairs with your mother. ”

” Johnny. ” Jack said. ” I didn’t think you would come this far north. ”

” Guess you thought wrong. ” Johnny said.

” Jack Slade, I’m placing you under arrest for robbery. Keep your hands where I can see them and stand up. ” the marshal ordered.

Jack stood up and glared at Johnny. ” You never did us wrong. Reno was wrong in shooting you that day. ”

” Reno’s dead. Don’t make the same mistake he did in Denver. ”

”I’ll go peacefully. I don’t want my family hurt. ” he said as the marshal put the cuffs on him. ” I can’t say the same for Luke though. I don’t think he will come peacefully marshal. ”

” I’ll go get him. ” Mark said. ” I’ll tell him Cora wants to see him. ”

Twenty minutes later Mark walked in the house, followed by Luke.

” That’s far enough! ” the marshal ordered.

Luke turned around to find Johnny Madrid standing next to the marshal.

” It’s over Luke. ” Jack said. ” We gambled Madrid wouldn’t come after us here and lost. ”

” So we did. ” Luke said. ” I guess I can stop looking over my shoulder now.  For what  it’s worth Madrid, I didn’t know Reno was going to shoot you that day. Neither one of us did. ”

” Reno’s dead Luke. Madrid killed him in Denver. ” Jack said.

” Uncle Jack……..what’s happening? Why are you wearing handcuffs? ” Matthew asked as he came downstairs.

” Go back upstairs. ” Mark ordered.

” Mark! Give me a minute marshal. ” Jack said as he walked over to the boy. ” I want you to listen to me Matthew. I did something I shouldn’t have done when I was in Arizona. The marshal is here to arrest me for that crime. ”

” Did you kill someone? ” the boy asked.

” No…..No I never killed anyone. It’s important that you know that. ” Jack said. ” What I did was rob stagecoaches.”

” Maybe if you give the money back, the marshal will let you go? ” Matthew pleaded.

” It’s not that simple, I wish it was, but it’s not son. ” Jack said. ” I want you to remember something…….No matter how tough it gets….never….never take what’s not yours. ”

” I’ll remember. ”

” Good, and one other thing……I want you to go out and kill a big bull elk for me okay. Make your first one a big one. ”

Matthew wrapped his arms around Jack and hugged him. ” I love you uncle Jack.”

” You sure do like spoiling that horse. ” Scott said with a laugh.

” He’s the best horse I’ve ever had. ” Johnny said. ” I take care of him and he’ll take care of me. ”

” You’ve never really had much growing up have you? ”

” I don’t need much. ”

” What’s it take to make you happy? ”

” Clothes on my back, a good horse and food in my belly. What more do I need? ”

” How about a family. ”

Johnny stopped brushing the stallion. ” Never had one to know. ”

” You have always had one. You just didn’t know it. ”

” She never told me I had an older brother. ”

” Grandfather never told me I had a little brother. So I guess we were both done wrong. ” Scott said. ” How about we take the train from Reno over the mountains to Sacramento? ”

” As long as I don’t have to get rid of him….I’ll take the train. ”

” He got a name yet? ”

” Apache . ” Johnny said.

Scott walked over and patted the stallion on the neck. ” Well Apache, would you like to take a train ride? ”

” He must be getting used to you. ” Johnny said.

”  We could catch the train here in Cheyenne and be in Sacramento in three days. Another day and we would be at Lancer. ” Scott suggested.

” I said I won’t leave him. ”

” He can travel in a livestock car. ” Scott said. ” I’ll make the arrangements in the morning. ”

Johnny stood up and walked to the door. ” I’ll see you later. ”

Scott sighed and stood up. ” Little brother, your liking of women will not go well with our father. ”

” Teresa I got a wire from Scott. ” Murdoch said as he walked into the great room. ” They’re in Cheyenne and are coming home. ”

” Are they taking the train? ” she asked.

” It would seem they are. They should arrive in Sacramento in three days. ”

” That means they’ll be home in four day. ” she said.

” Depending on the weather they should be. ”

” So they’ll be home for Christmas. ” she said with excitement. ” Oh Murdoch, this is going to be the best Christmas ever. You will have both your sons home. I want their welcome home to be special. Especially for Johnny. ”

” Teresa, I don’t think Johnny is the kind who likes parties. ” Murdoch suggested. ” Let’s wait and see. Maybe ask him if he would like one. ”

” Do you think he’s ever celebrated Christmas? ”

” I doubt it sweetheart. I doubt he’s had much of anything really. ”

” He gets here he’ll have a family who love him, a roof over his head, clothes on his back and food in his stomach. ”

” Johnny is used to living out of his saddlebags. I doubt he will want a lot. ”

” Are you going to make him a third owner of Lancer like you did Scott? ”

” Let’s just take it one day at a time. Once he gets here, let’s let him settle in, get comfortable. ”

” Did you ever celebrated Christmas or Thanksgiving growing up? ” Scott asked.

Johnny sat looking out the window at the scenery passing by. ” I remember once she was drunk and angry. She decided to wake me up by beating on me with a belt. The buckle gave me the scar I have by my right eye.” he said softly. ” Ever since then, Christmas has meant nothing to me. ”

” You have a birthday next month. ” Scott said. ” All four of us do in fact. ” Johnny looked at Scott in such a way, he knew his little brother had no idea when his birthday was. ” Johnny, do you…..I’m sorry to ask this, and I don’t mean to anger you if I do. Johnny, do you not know when your birthday is or how old you are? ”

” No. She said I was a pain in the ass lazy, no good for nothing she wished was dead. ” he said. ” A couple months later, she was the one dead. ”

Hearing Johnny say what he did both angered and hurt him. ” Don’t you think it’s about time you started living the life you deserve? ” he asked.

” I’ve been living the life I deserve since I chose to live by a gun. ” Johnny responded.

” I’m sorry, but that’s not a life brother. ” Scott said. ” I’ve watched you when we ride into a town. How you watch every person you can. How you always sit with your back in a corner so you can watch the whole room, who comes and goes. ”

” Doing that is what’s kept me alive all these years. ”

” You got me to watch your back now. ” Scott said firmly. ” A job I take very serious. ”

” You should know by now, I don’t trust easy. ”

” I do. So tell me what I have to do to earn your trust brother? ”

” Since we’ve never…….Let’s take it one day at a time. ”

Scott stopped on the hill overlooking Lancer. ” From here, all the way to those mountains in the distance. ”

Johnny looked down into the valley below. He could see corrals, several small buildings and barns and a huge house to the left.

” Let’s go home brother. ” Scott said before starting down the hill.

” Don’t you think you should wait to see if they’re going to be here? ” Murdoch asked.

” They’ll be here and I want everything to be perfect. ”

” Who will be here? ” Scott asked from the foyer.

” Scott! ” Teresa squealed as she ran to him.

Scott barely had time reach out to wrap his arms around Teresa, when she was on him. ” Whoa……You didn’t miss me did you? ”

” You know I did silly. ” she responded as she hugged him.

Johnny stood back watching a young female he assumed to be Teresa run to his brother and hug him.

” Teresa. ” Murdoch said as he looked at Johnny.

Teresa let go of Scott and before anyone could say anything she went to Johnny and wrapped her arms around him. 

” Welcome home Johnny. ”

Johnny slowly hugged her back as he watched his father watching him.

” Teresa, that’s enough. ” Murdoch said. ” Go finish supper. ”

Teresa looked at Murdoch a few seconds before heading to the kitchen.

” Why don’t you come in and sit down. ” Murdoch suggested. ” Drink? ”

” Brandy. ” Scott said.

” How about you son? ”

” Tequila. ”

Murdoch poured all three a drink and handed Scott his. ” How was your trip on the train? ”

” Thank you. It was good. ” Scott said as he took the drink.

” Relax son. Have a seat. ” Murdoch said as he handed Johnny his shot.

Johnny noticed twice he had said son, and it was at him, not Scott. Taking the drink, he walked over to look at the map on the wall.  The L with a circle around it he assumed to be the brand. The detail of the map impressed him. He noticed seven other ranches on the map, all on the outskirts of Lancer. One road roads went thru the property to Modesto, with a road splitting off to Spanish Wells and Morro Coyo.

” One hundred thousand acres. ” Murdoch said. ” Ten thousand head of cattle and the finest Capanero de Palomino’s in the San Joaquin. ”

” A fare piece of land. ” Johnny said.

” I love this land more than anything god ever created. I have a gray hair for every good blade of grass you see out there. ”

Johnny turned and looked at him. ” That why you threw us out? ” he asked bluntly.

Murdoch started to say something, but held his tongue a few seconds. ” If the air needs clearing, let’s clear it. Scott’s family thought she was daft to marry me. Not a year off the boat from Inverness, and maybe they were right. He was born, she died and I left him in their hands. ” Murdoch said. ” A couple years later I met your mother down in Matamoros. She….we got married. Two years after that I awoke one morning and found her gone, you along with her. ”

” That ain’t the way I heard it! ” Johnny said with anger.

” I don’t care what you heard. It’s past. Bad or good, right or wrong, it’s past and gone. ” Murdoch said firmly.

” That’s real convenient for you to say isn’t it? ” Johnny asked with anger. ” Just sweep it under the rug and act like nothing happened! ”

” Johnny. ” Scott said, keeping his voice calm. He knew the two would come to blows. He had hoped it wouldn’t be so soon after arriving home. ” Why don’t we go get cleaned up and rest before supper? ”

” Why did you throw us out? ” Johnny asked as Teresa walked into the room.

” That’s not true! That’s not true about Mister Lancer and your mother! ” she said as she walked over to Johnny. ” Well he never made her leave. She left of her own free will……. ”

” Now look!! You don’t know what you’re……” Johnny cut in saying.

” She ran off with somebody. He was some kind of gambler or something. She just packed up and left with him. ” Teresa cut in and said.

” Did he tell you that? ” he demanded.

” No, my father told me, and it’s true! ” she responded. ” If anybody was done a wrong Johnny, it was Murdoch Lancer. And there’s something else you ought to know…..”

” Alright!!! ” Johnny said  as he started to leave.

Teresa reached out and stopped him from leaving. ” No, no listen! When your father wasn’t sure if he’d live or die,  I sat with him, and he kept saying your mothers name Johnny, asking for her. So if you want to hate him because he’s stubborn, or wrongheaded lots of the time, or proud, well there are faults, but don’t hate him for your mother Johnny, because he loved her!!! ”

Johnny looked at her and could tell she was telling the truth. Unable to find his voice, he smiled slightly before walking outside.

” I’m sorry Murdoch. ” she said with tears in her eyes.

” It’s alright sweetheart. He needed to hear the truth. ” Murdoch said before heading outside.

” I just hope he believes it. ” Scott said.

Johnny walked out to the stallion and started to untie the horse to leave when he voice asking him to stay. Placing his head against Apache’s neck, he fought back the tears that threatened to spill over. His whole life he had believed a lie. He knew the girl was telling the truth. He also knew the voice asking him to stay was his father.

” Please son……I’ve searched for you for twenty years. ” he said. ” I can’t stand to lose you again. ”

Johnny turned and walked a little ways away from him. ” She lied to me. She let me believe a lie my whole life……Why? ”

Murdoch walked over and placed a hand on his sons right shoulder. He could feel him trembling. ” I have asked myself why for twenty years son. Sadly neither one of us will get the answers we need. ” Murdoch said softly. ” Come back inside. Let us start from the beginning and start getting to know each other……please. ”

Johnny learned every inch of Lancer as he worked alongside his brother. Learning every stream, creek and pond on Lancer. Which ones have water year around, and which ones were seasonal. Slowly he let himself settle into a new life. One he never thought he would ever have, one not living by his gun. It took him a while to get used to working six days a week from sunup to sundown. Sundays he slept until ten, sometimes later. At least once a month he would go into town Saturday nights to gamble with the hands or have a few cold beers with his brother. Teresa tried to get him to attend church services with them, and every Sunday he would either sleep late from drinking Saturday night, or leave the house right after breakfast.

Murdoch sat at his desk pondering what he was told happened at the church social. The matter he needed to address involved his youngest son and the daughter of a man who moved to the valley a month before Scott came home. He liked that Teresa had someone close to her age to visit with. When Scott came home, he noticed the young lady started visiting three, sometimes four times a week. Always asking about Scott or ignoring Teresa totally if Scott was working close to the house. When they had the family over for supper, Murdoch couldn’t help but notice how the young lady was always looking at Scott. Once his son politely told the young lady he was not interested in her, she stopped visiting and became unfriendly even when Teresa tried talking to her in town or at church.

Johnny looked at Scott, sighed and handed him Apache’s reins.

” He doesn’t sound mad. ” Scott said as he took the reins.

Johnny walked into the house and removed his hat. ” Something wrong? ”

” I want to talk to you about Saturday the church social. ”

” Nothing happened Murdoch. ”

” You danced with Miss Martin? ”

” Yeah, just one dance. I was trying to be nice. ” he responded. ” The girl is……..I’ve danced with young women before Murdoch, but that one, she’s not…..she made me very uncomfortable. ”

” Did she say something to make you feel that way? ”

” It’s what she did and said while we were dancing. ” he said.

” What did she say? ”

Johnny looked at his father. ” She started talking about marriage……and….sex. ”

Murdoch looked at his son in total shock. ” She what? ”

” You heard me. Something told me she wasn’t right in the head, so I stopped dancing with her. ” he said with irritation in his voice. ” I have no interest in getting married yet. Hell Teresa is more mature than that girl. ”

” Murdoch, Johnny, I’m sorry to interrupt but Vera Martin and her father are here to see Johnny. ” Scott said.

” What the hell does she want now? ” Johnny said with irritation.

” Stay here. I’ll go see. ” Murdoch said.

” I can handle it Murdoch. They came here to see me….not you. ” Johnny said before heading outside. ” What are you doing here? ”

” I’m here to discuss our wedding. ” Vera said.

” What! Look, I don’t know you, and I don’t want to know you. Go home. ” Johnny said before turning to go back inside.

Vera took two quick steps and grabbed Johnny’s right arm, spinning him around. ” Don’t walk away from me Johnny. At the dance, you asked me to marry you. ”

” Young man, I don’t appreciate you leading my daughter on like you have. ”

Johnny jerked his arm free. ” I never led your daughter on, and I sure as hell didn’t ask her to marry me! ” he snapped back.

” Mister Martin, I’m afraid I have to insist you and your daughter leave, and never contact either of my sons again. ” Murdoch ordered.

”Let’s go Vera.” Owen Martin ordered.

” But pa, he……”

” I said let’s go…! ” Owen ordered as he mounted up. ” Lancer…….Nobody hurts my little girl. ”

Johnny stood there stunned. ” What the hell just happened? ”

” You go on to work with your brother. I’m going to ride to town and talk to Gabe and see what can be done about this. ” Murdoch said.

” No! ” Johnny said firmly. ” Let it go Murdoch. I don’t want the law involved. It will only make things worse. ”

” I would have to agree with him sir. ” Scott said.

” Look, it’s my problem…….I’ll deal with it, but only if it needs further dealing with. ” Johnny said as he went to his horse. ” Let’s go Scott. ”

Johnny had put what happened behind him and moved on. It had been six months since. Now spring round-up was starting. Fall calves needed rounded up, castrated and branded. Fences needed repaired or replaced in a few places. Every night he struggled to stay awake to play a game of chess with his brother before heading to bed.

” Frank, tell Scott I’ve gone to check for any calves we may have missed. ”

” You want one of us to go with you? ” Frank asked.

” No, It shouldn’t take that long. I’ll be back in a couple hours. ” Johnny said as he mounted up. ” Just keep the men doing what they are. ” he said as he rode away, unaware he was being watched from the treeline.

Scott walked in the house soaked to the bone. ” Johnny back yet? ”

” No, I haven’t seen him since breakfast. ”

” Frank said he was going to go check for strays we may have missed. ” Scott said. ” This storm came up fast. ”

” This storm blowing in as fast as it did, he’s probably at the North Mesa line-shack hold up till morning. ” Murdoch suggested.

” I’m going to go soak in a hot tub before supper. ” Scott said.

” I wouldn’t move around too much I was you. I had to hit you pretty hard on the head. ” a male voice said.

Johnny blinked several times as he looked for where the voice was coming from. ” Who are you? ” Johnny demanded as he tried to get up, but found he was sitting on the ground with his back against what felt like a rock wall. Both his arms and his legs were shackled, his shirt, boots and socks had been removed. ” Who are you? ”

” I’m the one in charge of keeping you alive for now. ” the man said. ” I’ll get ya some food and water. ” the man said before leaving Johnny alone in the darkness.

Johnny closed his eyes and tried to remember what the hell happened. He remembered finding a cow and calf he started moving them from the brush, when  Apache scream in pain as a rifle sounded and the horse went down hard, throwing Johnny from the saddle and everything went dark.

A few minutes later the man came back and set a plate down so Johnny could reach it. ” You’ll have to use your fingers to eat. ”

Johnny lashed out with his feet, kicking the plate of beans and water away.

” That’s gonna cost you. ” the man said before leaving.

” It’s Apache, he’s been shot! ” Scott said as he looked around on the ground for tracks. ” Damn rain washed away any tracks. ”

” Let’s ride over to the Simpleton place  where Owen Martin is living. ” Murdoch said.

” You think they have something to do with Johnny missing? ”

” I don’t know, but for his sake he better not. ” Murdoch said as they headed to the Martin ranch.

” Pa, when can I see him? ”

” When I say girl. Now get on inside and start lunch. ” Owen Martin ordered.

” But he’s my man. ” she said.

Owen stepped over and backhanded her hard across the face. ” You’ll be with him when the time is right. Now do as I said. ”

” Riders coming. ” Clyde said.

” It’s Lancer. Let me do the talking. ” Owen ordered.

” Where’s my son, Johnny? ”

” I ain’t seen that…….He ain’t here, now leave! ”

” Let me tell you something Owen Martin, if I find out you did something to my boy, you’ll rue the day. ” Murdoch threatened. ” If you have hurt him in any way, I will kill you. ”

” Don’t come on my land and threaten me Lancer! ” Owen Martin ordered. ” Get the hell of my property…! ”

Murdoch glared at the man.

” Mister Martin said to get off his property. ” Clyde said as he walked outside with a rifle in his hand aimed at Murdoch.

” Murdoch, let’s go. ” Scott said.

” If you had something to do with my sons disappearance It will be the biggest mistake you ever made. ” Murdoch said firmly before riding away.


Vera went into the food pantry and pulled the door open in the floor. Taking a lamp, she went down the stairs and stopped. She could see Johnny on the floor, sprawled out, totally naked. Walking over to his feet, she lifted the lamp to see him better.

Johnny looked in horror at who he seen standing there. ” You.” he said hoarsely.

Vera knelt down next to him and noticed the dried blood on the left side of his face from a gash above his eye.  Looking at him, she placed the lamp a few feet away before lifting her dress and straddling him.

” Get off of me you sick bitch! ” Johnny yelled as he started writhing around, trying to get away from her. Closing his eyes he tried to ignore what she was doing to him. Feeling the heat from between her legs as she started rubbing her folds against him, making him hard. Hating how his body betrayed him.

Vera moaned as she leaned down and started sucking and biting his nipples as she rubbed her folds against his hardness. Feeling herself start to climax, she pressed down onto him as hard as she could as she trembled. ” Oh that feels so good. It’s been so long since I felt my body do that. I chose you to be my mate for life. ” she said as she rose up and took him in her hand, guiding him into her as she slowly lowered herself down until he was buried deep inside her. ” We have to hurry so pa doesn’t catch us together. I’m not supposed to mate with you until I’m bleeding. ”

” What the hell are you talking about?  Get the fuck off me! ” he ordered as she leaned forward and started raising up and down as fast as she could. Johnny couldn’t stop his hips from thrusting up into her as he felt his climax start. ” No! ” he said as she sank down onto him as he exploded deep inside her.

” I feel it. I felt you release inside me. I feel your hardness jerking against my muscles Johnny. ”


” What the hell are you doing? ” Clyde demanded as he grabbed her by the arm and yanked her off Johnny.

” I wanted to mate with him. ” Vera yelled.

Clyde yanked her to the stairs as Owen came down.

” What the hell are you doing down here? ” he demanded.

” She mated with him. He just finished when I came down and caught them. ” Clyde said.

” Take her upstairs. ” Owen ordered.

Clyde yanked Vera up the stairs and shoved her to the floor. ” Get on up to your room. ” he ordered.

Owen glared at Johnny. ” You weren’t supposed to be with her yet. ” he said before he started kicking Johnny hard in his right side. ” You get her with child before she’s ready……I’ll kill you. ” he said with anger before storming back upstairs.


Chapter 4

Johnny didn’t know how long he was left alone after the girl came downstairs that day. He had no way of knowing how long he had been there. His ribs hurt him bad after the brutal beating he got from the father that day. None of them seemed to care until the two men came down and unchained him from the stake shackles and put a short ankle chain shackle on him, allowing him to be able to stand up, and move three feet. Every day a plate of beans were brought down and set on the ground for him to eat. Wondering if his family were still searching for him played in the back of his mind. Every time he heard the door open, he prayed it would be his father or brother come down the stairs. Given the beard he now had, he knew it had been months since his nightmare began. He often found himself wondering what his family were doing? Hearing the door open he stood back next to the wall in the corner as he was instructed to do every time they brought him food.

” It’s time. ” Owen said as he tossed the key to the shackle to Johnny. ” Unlock it and go upstairs. ”

Johnny did as he was ordered, making sire to keep his hands up as the father had a scatter gun pointed right at him. Clyde waited at the top of the stairs with another scatter gun, anger in his eyes.

” Keep moving up the stairs to the room at the end of the hall. ” Owen ordered.

Johnny looked around, noticing all the windows were covered over to keep any light from coming into the kitchen as he went upstairs to the open door, stopped, and waited.

” Inside. ” Clyde ordered as he jabbed the shotgun in the middle of his back.

Johnny walked into the room and found Vera standing next to the bed. The window in the room was covered with boards just like the downstairs ones. A tiny knot hole allowed light in allowing him to know it was daylight.

” I guess now’s as good a time to tell you what you will be doing boy. ” Owen said firmly. ”My daughter has chose you to sire a child. She’s bleeding, so she’s ready. You will mate with her several times the next three days to get her with child. If you fail, this will happen again until she is pregnant. ”

” You’re sick….all of you! ” Johnny spat.  ” This is wrong…….don’t do this! She’s just a child! ”

” Shut up! ” Owen yelled as he slapped Johnny hard. ” You didn’t get her pregnant that first time in the cellar. There’s no way out of this room except this door that will be bolted and locked on the outside. I’m going to leave you unchained to mate with her.. If you refuse, we will beat you within an inch of your life and break bones. You try and escape and I will cut you in half with this shotgun. ”

Johnny watched Owen and Clyde walk out of the room, and heard the door lock. ” Vera, please don’t do this. It’s wrong. Please don’t make me do this. ” Johnny pleaded.

” But I love you. I have from the first time I seen you at the dance. When you danced with me, I knew…..I could tell it would be you to father my child. ” she said. ” You’re so big and thick it didn’t even hurt that first time I was with you in the cellar. I felt you release your seed in me. ”

” How long have I been here? ”

” Five moons. ” she said.

” Five moons. He knew the Indians referred to full moons instead of months. Missing five months now, he couldn’t help but wonder if his family were still looking for him?

” How old are you? ” Johnny asked.

” Seventeen. ” Vera said.

” Where’s your mother? ”

” Pa killed her. I had a child last year. Pa said it wasn’t right, blamed her, killed her and the baby and fed them to the hogs. ”

Johnny felt sick inside hearing what had been done to this girls mother and baby. A part of him knew it wasn’t her fault she was the way she was. Having a child at only sixteen he felt was too young. ” I will never love you Vera. Your father can keep me a prisoner and force me to……..get you pregnant, but I will never love you. ”

” That’s okay, I know you’ll feel different once I have your child. ” she said. ” Don’t make me call my father back in here. ”

Johnny knew there was no way out of this. Silently he said a prayer to be forgiven for what he was about to do.

” Pa said animals mate and produce young to survive. He said that’s what we need to do. ”

” Sounds to me like you’re doing what he wants and not what you want. ”

” I have to if I don’t want punished. ” she said as a tear ran down her face. ” He’ll kill you if I don’t give him a grandchild, and he’ll probably kill me like he did my mother and first baby. ”

Johnny walked over to the girl and looked into her eyes, wiping away the tear that escaped and ran down her cheek. He felt sorry for the girl in a way. Her father had her mind so messed up, so confused.

” Please don’t tell pa I was weak and cried. ” she pleaded.

” I won’t. Vera, do you know how to be properly courted by a man? ”

” Pa said I was when you danced with he.” she responded. ” He said a man only dances with a woman if he’s wanting to mate with her. ”

” No, your pa is wrong. When a man likes a woman, he courts her. Takes her on buggy rides. They do things together, getting to know each other. What your pa told you, what he wants me to do to you should only happen between a man and woman who are married. ”

” Pa said we are married now. That we got married that day in the cellar when you mated with me. ” she said.

” Vera……it’s not mating. When a man and woman care about each other, love each other, they make love in a bed. Both of them willing participants. Not one willing and the other chained up like a damn animal. ”

” Pa will beat me,and force you to mate with me if you refuse. He’ll come in here and chain you down to the bed, have Clyde get you ready and watch us. ”


” I won’t do anything to hurt you. ” Johnny said. He knew it was a lost cause trying to reason with the girl. Placing his hand under her chin he lowered his mouth to hers. ” If I’m going to do this, it’s going to be my way, not like an animal. ” he said before kissing her softly on the lips. Running his right hand down between her legs, he parted her folds and slid three fingers inside her, working her to get her wet and hot for when he entered her. ” Touch me, get me hard. ” he said before sliding his tongue in her mouth.

Vera wrapped her fingers around him and started working him hard. ” Pa taught me how to do this. ” she said as her other hand started pinching his nipples.

Johnny was shocked at what she said. Feeling himself getting hard he stopped and watched her work him. Reaching down he stopped her. ” Go lay down on the bed. ”

Vera went to the bed and got on her hands and knees, waiting.

Johnny sighed, shook his head and positioned himself behind her. Spreading her legs apart, he guided his hardness to her entrance and slid inside her slowly until he was all the way in and stopped. Holding her by her hips he started moving in and out of her until he got lost in the rhythm. Pulling her up he reached down and started pinching her folds with his right hand as his left hand squeezed and pinched her nipples. Slamming into her harder and harder, the sound of skin slapping skin echoed in the room as he sought to release his seed inside her. Pulling out, he flipped her over and entered her again, grunting as the bed headboard slammed against the wall with every thrust. When she arched her back and pressed her head back into the pillow, he knew she was about to climax. Her muscles tightening around his shaft sent him over the edge and he released deep inside her as his body shook.  Exhausted, and breathing hard, he rolled off her and started to try and slow his breathing down, wiping the sweat away from his face.

Vera ran her right hand over her stomach. ” Five months from now my stomach will start showing the life we create together. ” she said.

Johnny took Vera as many times as he could the three days he was locked up in the room with her.  The last time he took her, he was so caught up in it, he didn’t hear the door open, and know her father was watching them.

” How many times he take you girl? ” he demanded.

” A lot pa. Just like you wanted, he took me every three hours. I know he got me pregnant. ” Vera responded.

” We’ll know in three, four months if he did. You tell him what will happen if you’re not? ”

” I told him pa. ”

Johnny was taken back to the hole and left alone. The only time anyone came down, it was to leave a plate of beans for him only. Not one word was spoken to him. As the days passed, he found himself wondering if he had got her pregnant. A part of him hoped he had, and the other part hoped he hadn’t. The part that hoped he had, hoped so so he wouldn’t have to do it again. The other part wanted to be with her again. Wanted to take her like he had the first time that day. He could feel her quivering as she climaxed, feel her muscles clamp around his shaft as he released his seed deep inside her. Wanting to be inside her again, he found himself using his hand to get the release he wanted. Closing his eyes, he worked his hand as fast as he could as he pictured Vera beneath him as he grunted loudly until his seed shot out onto the dirt floor.


Sam walked into the great room of Lancer to find Murdoch standing at the fireplace with his head down. ” Murdoch. ” When Murdoch turned around, Sam could see Johnny missing was taking a toll on his friend.

” Sam, I didn’t hear you knock. ”

” Teresa let me in. ” Sam said. ” Have you been getting any sleep at all? ”

” How can I sleep Sam when my son is out there somewhere. ”

” If you don’t get some sleep, you will be no good. ” Sam said as he walked over to the sideboard and poured a brandy for Murdoch. Walking over to him, he seen the bags under his eyes and the worry on his face. ” He’s still alive,and he’ll find his way back home. ” he said as he handed him the brandy. ” Drink. ”

” I hope. ” Murdoch said softly as he took the brandy. ” I know he didn’t leave Lancer willingly. ”

” It’s been over a year. ” Sam said.

” I know in my heart Johnny is still alive. I can’t lose him again Sam. It’s tearing me up not knowing anything. ” Murdoch said as he let the tears fall.

Sam knew losing Johnny again was taking it’s toll on his friend. Even Scott had changed. He had stopped coming into town Saturday nights. Sam suspected he blamed himself for his brother’s disappearance.

Johnny worked his hand fast to get satisfaction, shooting his seed on the floor just before the cellar door opened and Owen Martin came down into the hole.

” It has been four months since you mated with my daughter. She has not bled any since then. You got her pregnant, therefore you will not be mating with her anymore. ” the father said before going back upstairs and leaving Johnny alone in darkness again.

” Mister Lancer……….Scott! ” Frank yelled.

Murdoch and Scott hurried outside to find Frank and Walt taking a naked man from the back of a wagon.

” It’s Johnny! ” Frank said. ” I sent for the doc. ”

Scott took his brother in his arms and carried him to his room.

” Teresa, go get hot water and soap so we can start cleaning him up to check these wounds. ” Murdoch ordered.

Teresa hurried into the room with hot water and towels. ” Who would do such a thing? ” she asked as tears ran down her face.

” Go on outside while me and Scott clean him up! ” Murdoch ordered.

” I want to help. ” she said.

” Teresa, go now. You don’t need to see this. ” Scott ordered.

” My god, he’s so skinny. ” Murdoch said as he wrung out a towel and started wiping the dirt from his sons body.

” He doesn’t even look like my son. ” Murdoch said.

Scott took note of several old wounds he knows his brother didn’t have before he disappeared. Tears began to run down his face as he seen more horrible bruises show as his father wiped away the dirt.

 ” I seen this in Libby, he’s been starved, but given just enough food to keep him alive. ” he said. ” He’s shivering. I’ll get more blankets. ”

After an hour of washing Johnny’s body off carefully, Murdoch and Scott could see the horrible bruises all over his body.

” Murdoch, let me in there. ”Sam ordered as he walked into the room, stopping suddenly when he seen the condition Johnny was in. ” My god. ”

” We cleaned off all the dirt we could Sam. ”

” Alright, you two out so I can take care of my patient. ”

” Mister Lancer. ” Frank said.

” Where did you find him Frank? ”

” Top Mesa. He come staggering over the hill and collapsed. At first me and Walt didn’t recognize him with the long hair and covered in filth like he is. We emptied the wagon and brought him straight here instead of town. We didn’t want anyone seeing him like he was. ” Frank explained.

” Top Mesa, that’s up toward Owen Martin’s place. ” Murdoch said.

” Yes sir. ”

” Get a couple men to go with us. ” Murdoch said as Scott walked outside.

” What’s going on? ”

” Johnny was found at Top Mesa. ”

” Owen Martin. ” Scott said. ” I’m going with you. ”

” Go let Teresa know we will be back soon. ”

Sam came downstairs to find Teresa waiting in the great room alone. ” Where’s Murdoch and Scott? ”

” They went to Owen martin’s ranch. They think that’s where Johnny came from. ” she said.

” Owen……Oh lord. ”

” Is Johnny going to be alright? ”

” He’s been abused, beaten, and starved Teresa. He’s severely malnourished. ” Sam explained. ” Whoever had him, kept him in shackles. He has scars from them on both his wrist and ankles. He’s also had one around his neck. ”

” What do I need to do for him Sam? ”

” I don’t know how long he will be asleep, he’s exhausted. Given his condition, I would say they gave him just enough food to stay alive. ” Sam explained.

” How long will he be asleep do you think? ”

” I don’t know. Someone will need to stay with him at all times until he wakes up and knows where he’s at. ” Sam responded. ” I’ll stay until Murdoch gets back. ”

” Owen Martin, come outside! ” Murdoch yelled.

” Frank, you and Walt go check the barn. Be careful. ” Scott ordered as he dismounted. ” Somethings not right. ”

Murdoch dismounted and drew his pistol as he walked toward the front door that was open. Pushing the door open more, he stepped inside and stopped. ” Oh my god. ”

Scott walked into the house behind him. ” What happened here? ” he asked. It was obvious both men were dead.

” Mister Lancer……the barn is empty. ” Frank said.

” Go to town and bring Gabe and the undertaker back out here. ”

Scott walked into the kitchen and found Vera on the floor.  ” She’s been shot with a shotgun just like her father. ” he said. ” She was pregnant. ”

” What the hell happened here? ”

Scott looked around and seen the pantry door was open. Walking into the pantry, he found a hole cut in the cellar floor.

” What is that? ” Murdoch asked.

Scott lit a lamp. ” I don’t know. A hole’s been cut in the floor and it looks like someone dug a pit or something. ”

Murdoch covered Vera up with a blanket.

” There’s a neck shackle fastened to a post, wrist and ankle shackles also fastened to smaller post. ” Scott said. ” I think it’s where he was keeping Johnny. ”

” She was killed with a shotgun as well as both of them. ” Murdoch said. ” What the hell happened here? Walt, you wait outside for Gabe and the undertaker. We need to get back to Johnny. Tell Gabe to come there when he’s done. ”

Teresa sat with Johnny watching him sleep. His hair, long, tangled and filthy, his beard,as dark as his hair hanging just below his jaw. She couldn’t believe someone could be so cruel and keep him a prisoner for almost two years, starving and abusing him. When he started moaning and mumbling, what she thought she heard him mumbling made no sense to her.

” How is he? ” Scott asked as he walked into the room.

” He was just mumbling, but it made no sense what he was saying. ” she said.

” What did he say? ”

” He was talking about a baby. ”

Scott clenched his jaw, knowing what they found and suspected at the Martin ranch were true. Not wanting to explain anything to Teresa, he walked over and sat down in the chair. ” I’ll sit with him. ”

” Sam said he shouldn’t be left alone until after he wakes up and knows where he’s at. ” she said.

” I don’t plan on leaving my little brother alone ever again. ” he said as Teresa left the room. ” I hope what I’m thinking you were forced to do little brother, I pray to God is not true. ”

” Oh my god. ” Sam said. He couldn’t believe what Murdoch just told him they found at the Martin ranch. ” I knew nothing about the daughter being with child. She was just a baby herself, sixteen, maybe seventeen years old. ”

” I have a sick feeling inside on what Johnny was put thru Sam. ” Murdoch said.

” You thinking he got her pregnant? ”

” With what she said when they came here that day before Johnny disappeared…..I do. ”

” Whatever he was put thru, forced to do Murdoch, you and Scott have got to go slow with him on learning. ” Sam ordered. ” His recovery is going to take time. He may not want to talk about it at all. ”

” He’s so damn skinny. ”

” I expect they gave him just enough food to keep him alive. Once he wakes up and knows where he’s at, get him in a hot tub to clean him up. Let him eat small amounts of food when he wants. Too much food in his stomach at once could make him sick.  I’ll stop by in a couple days and check on him. ” Sam instructed as they walked outside. ” Just be patient with his recovery. ”

” Gabe, I’ve been expecting you. ” Murdoch said.

” Mister Lancer. How’s Johnny doing? ”

” He’s still asleep. Given what he’s been thru, Sam said he will probably sleep a lot. ”

” I need to know what happened at the Martin ranch! ” Gabe said. ” I’ve got a seventeen year old pregnant girl dead from a shotgun blast, her father dead as well as another man I’ve never seen there or in town before. ”

” He’s the one who pointed a shotgun at me the day Johnny went missing and we rode over there. ”

” I found his gun and holster in a bureau in the living room. ” Gabe said as he handed the gunbelt to him. ” I have three dead people and your son is the only survivor. I need to talk to him when he wakes up about what happened in that house. ”

” Now wait a minute Gabe, if you think my son murdered them people, especially a pregnant woman…..”

” Simmer down Murdoch. I’m just doing my job. ” Gabe cut in and said.

” It’s obvious he was kept in that hole in the pantry. ”

” I seen the hole and the shackles and chains. ” he said. ” I just need to know what happened to lead up to those three people being killed. ”

Scott stood looking out the window three days later watching the sun rise over the San Bonito mountains. A feeling of being watched made him turn around to see blue eyes looking back at him. Walking over to the bed, he sat down in the chair.

” Hey. ” Johnny said barely above a whisper.

” Hey yourself. Welcome back little brother. ”

” How……how did I get here? ”

” Frank and Walt found you up at Top Mesa. ” Scott said as he poured a glass of water.

” When? ” Johnny asked as he tried to take the glass with shaky hands.

” Here, let me help you. ” Scott said as he helped his brother sit up more so he could drink the water. ” Three days now. ”

Johnny drank the glass of water, welcoming the coolness on his parched throat. Pushing himself up more, he leaned back against the headboard and realized he was totally naked. ” I must be a sight? ”

” Nothing that won’t wash off. ”

” I haven’t had a bath………how long have I been gone? ”

” Just over a year. ”

” Murdoch? ”

” He went to town. ” he said. ” Why don’t I go fix you a hot bath and then you can eat something? ”

Murdoch walked out of the bank and was approached by his longtime friend Agatha Conway.

” Murdoch, I heard Johnny was found and is back home? ” she asked.

” Yes. I’m sorry I haven’t come by. ”

” That’s alright. Is he alright? ”

” I don’t know Aggie. They starved him. He’s so skinny you can see his ribs. ”

” Oh Murdoch…..I’m so sorry. ” she said. ” I feel you should know….there’s talk going around that Johnny was the father of the baby, and that he killed them. ”

Murdoch glared at her a few seconds. ” My son did not kill that girl, her father or the other man! ”

” I know that, and so does anyone who knows Johnny, but you know how people will speculate, spread rumors just to stir up trouble. ” she said.

” I need to get back. ” he said as he stepped down to his horse.

Agatha stood there and watched her friend ride away. She knew it wasn’t her he was mad at,and didn’t blame him for being upset over what she told him.

” Let me help you step into the tub. ” Scott said as he held onto his brother to steady him while he climbed into the tub.

” It’s hot. ” Johnny said as he eased down into the water.

” Listen, I know you’re uncomfortable with me being in here with you, but if you need help. ”

” I don’t think I have the strength to wash much, but I’ll try. ” Johnny said as he picked up the soap and brush.

Scott sat down in the chair and watched his brother slowly wash his body off, staring with his feet. When he got to his neck, he stopped and slid down under the water for a few seconds to wet his hair. When he came back up, he looked at his brother.

” Say no more. ” Scott said as he stood up, walked over and washed his brothers hair.

” Thanks. Would you mind shaving me? ”

” Not at all. ”

” You think I could get something to eat? ”

” Absolutely. Teresa has been waiting to feed you, fatten you back up. ”

” She see me? ” Johnny asked.

” She has. She’s worried about you, we all are. ” Scott said as he rinsed his hair of soap and helped him stand up. ” I’m sorry brother. ”

” For what? ”

” Failing to keep you safe. ” he responded as tears welled up in his eyes. ” I was so scared I’d lost you forever. ”

” It’s not your fault. ” Johnny said as he stepped out of the bath. ” Do I look cleaner and smell better? ”

Scott laughed as he helped his brother dry off. ” You do. Teresa changed your bedding while we are in here. I brought you a night shirt to wear. ”

” Thanks. Guess pants won’t stay on me very good right now. ”

” Let’s get you back to bed and get some food in you. ”

Johnny walked slowly down the hall, back to his room to find Teresa waiting for them. ” Hey. ” he said softly as he walked over to sit down at the table to eat. Looking at her, he noticed a tear running down her cheek. ” You crying for me querida? ”

Teresa gave Johnny a hug. ” Yes. I was so worried about you. ”

Johnny hugged her back , welcoming the feel of her hugging him. ” Just think, now you get to fatten me up again. ”

Murdoch walked into the house still upset over what Aggie had told him. Seeing his son come downstairs. ” How is he? ”

” He woke up earlier, took a hot bath, ate two biscuits with a cup of coffee, and is now sound asleep. ” Scott said. ” Can I ask why you found the need to go to town? ”

” I went to the bank to get the money to pay the hands. ” Murdoch said with irritation.  ” It would seem there are people in town who think your brother killed them people! ”

” Whoever is saying that better hope I don’t find out who they are. ” Scott said.

Johnny woke up to find he was alone. Seeing it was still daylight out, he slowly got out of bed, walked to his door, and opened it. Hearing his father and another man’s voice he couldn’t place, he walked to the top of the stairs and listened. Hearing what his father and the other man were discussing Johnny headed downstairs, and sat on the bottom stair, exhausted.

” Johnny, what are you doing? ” Teresa demanded from the top of the stairs.

” Resting. ” he said as she came downstairs. ” Murdoch! ”

Murdoch hurried to the stairs and helped his son stand up, and walk into the great room to sit down on the couch.

” Just what do you think you are doing young man? ” Murdoch demanded.

” Sitting on the couch. ” Johnny said softly.

” I find no humor in this young man. ” Murdoch said. ” What if you had fallen? Stop being so reckless. ”

Johnny looked up at his father and seen the worry on the man’s face. ” I wasn’t being reckless. ”

” Murdoch stop it! ” Teresa ordered.

” Johnny. ” Gabe said as he walked over to him. ” I need to talk to you about what happened at the Martin place. ”

” I don’t want to talk about it right now sheriff. ”

” I understand that, but three people are dead, and you’re the only one to walk away from that place. ” Gabe said.

” Damn it Gabe! ” Murdoch said with anger. ” We haven’t told him we found them yet! ”

” You found them? ” Johnny asked.

” Yes son. We found the bodies. ”

” There were four killed. ” Johnny said softly.

” Look, I have people in town angry over this, and some feel you murdered the Martin family. They want someone to pay, and given your past as Madrid, you can see what they feel the way they do? ”

” How dare you come in my house and accuse my son of murdering those people Gabe! Who he was in the past has nothing to do with who he is now. ” Murdoch said with anger. ” Owen Martin and his daughter came here, and when they didn’t get what they wanted, they waited and took my son. Kidnapped him, and kept him in a hole in their cellar for over a year. He was starved, beaten and god knows what else was done to him. ”

” That’s what I am trying to find out Mister Lancer. I need to know if what happened four days ago, if Johnny shot any of them, he was justified in doing it. ”

” Justified….My god Gabe, he was held prisoner in a hole dug under their cellar for over a year. You see how bad he was starved. He was covered in filth from not being allowed to bath that whole time. ”

Johnny sat on the couch listening to his father and the sheriff argue. Closing his eyes, as the memory of what he seen came flooding back. ” Stop it, Stop it, Stop it!!!! ” Johnny yelled as he threw the couch pillow he was holding across the room, and stood up. ” I didn’t kill them sheriff. I’m not going to tell to you or him about what happened because I don’t know what the fuck happened. I was in that fucking hole. I heard them arguing, then a shotgun, Owen Martin scream, then two more shots!. You want to arrest me, then do it! Otherwise, both of you leave me the fuck alone! ” he said before heading into the kitchen.

Teresa followed Johnny into the kitchen.

” I’m sorry for my language just now. ” Johnny said. ” I never should have talked like that in front of you querida. I’m sorry. ”

” It’s alright. You had every right to be upset. ” she said  ” You want a cup of coffee? ”

” Actually I’d like some milk. ” he said.

Teresa poured a glass of milk and set it down with a couple biscuits on a plate.

” They only fed me once a day. ” Johnny said as he enjoyed started to eat a biscuit. ” At least I think it was once a day. There were no windows. I was only allowed upstairs once, and all the windows were boarded over. ”

Murdoch walked into the kitchen. ” Gabe won’t be back son. ”

” Well now you know most of what happened. ”

” Most. ” Murdoch said.

” Yeah most old man. You want to know anymore you’re shit out of luck. ”

” That will be enough with the language young man! ”

” I’m done………I can’t stay here with you right now! ”

” So you’re just going to run away? ”

” The only thing I’m running away from is you old man. You don’t have a fucking clue what was done to me! What I was forced to do! ”

Murdoch lashed out and slapped Johnny hard across the face. ”

” Murdoch! ” Teresa yelled.

Johnny glared at his father. ” Don’t you ever touch me again. ”

Murdoch started to say something but decided not to, turned and walked out of the kitchen.

” I’m going to the South Mesa line-shack. Come with me Teresa. ”

” For how long? ” she asked.

” I don’t know. I just know I need to get away from him. ”


Chapter 5

” You sure about this brother? ” Scott asked as he carried the last of the supplies into the line-shack.

” I’m sure. ” Johnny said. ” Here he can’t slap me. ”

” Slap you? ”

” I was angry and upset. I said some words I shouldn’t have said in front of Teresa. ”

” He had no call hitting you. ”

” He won’t every again. ”

” Teresa, you sure? ”

” I’ll be fine Scott. ”

” I know. ” Scott said as he gave her a hug and kiss on the cheek. ” I’ll stop by when I can and on Sundays to play chess or checkers with you if you’re up to it. ” he said as he gave his brother a hug before leaving.

Johnny stood watching his brother leave before turning and going back inside. ” There’s a bedroom in there I’ll let you have. I’ll sleep out here. The tub for baths is in that room there. ” he explained.

” I had no idea the line-shacks were this nice inside. ” Teresa said as she put things away. ” I remember when my father was alive, he stayed at a line-shack that was a single small room with a small wood stove for heat and cooking. ”

” Yeah. The North Mesa line-shack is just as nice. ”

” Why don’t you go sit out on the porch in the sun while I start cleaning this place up. ” she ordered.

Scott walked into the house to find his father at his desk. ” What the hell were you thinking? ” Scott demanded as he walked into the great room. ” How dare you slap him. Jesus Murdoch, you know what he’s just been thru. We have to give him time to come to terms with what happened to him. Not slap him for venting his anger! ” Scott said.

” I will not allow that kind of language to be used in front of Teresa. ” Murdoch said with anger. ” Now she’s run off with him. She has no business being alone with him. He will dishonor or hurt her. ”

” Do you really believe Johnny would hurt her? ” Scott asked. ” He cares about Teresa dearly sir. Regardless of what you think, Johnny would never hurt her. ”

” He fathered that child. He got that young lady…….What’s to stop him from dishonoring Teresa. Getting her with child out of wedlock? ”

” You mean like you did his mother? ” Scott retaliated. ” Teresa is twenty two years old now. If…..and I say if her and Johnny do develop a relationship, that is between them since they are both legal age. ”

” He only knows lust. That boy knows nothing about loving someone. ”

” And you do is that it sir? You the great Murdoch Lancer, the man who’s lust got a woman pregnant all those years ago not two years after my mother died! ” Scott said.

Johnny and Teresa sat on the porch watching the sun go down. It had been two months since they came to the line-shack. His appetite was better and he had gained weight. Scott came by every Sunday to visit and eat Teresa’s cooking, which he missed. Usually the three of them would sit on the porch talking about the weeks happenings around the ranch.

” When you coming back to the house? ” Scott asked.

” I don’t know yet. ” Johnny said.

” I’m going to go start supper. ” Teresa said as she stood up and went inside.

” You look good brother. Teresa’s cooking is putting the weight back on you. ”

” They killed Apache. ”

” I know. We found him. I’m sorry. ”

” Best horse I ever had. ”

” There’s a herd of mustangs up at Black Mesa I seen yesterday. There’s a gorgeous Palomino stallion leading them. ” he said. ” How about next Sunday me and you chase him down and capture him. He’d make you a real good horse. ”

” Maybe. ” he said softly. ” He hasn’t been here once to see me. ”

” He’s giving you time to come to terms with what happened to you. ” Scott responded. ” It was hard on him Johnny. He thought he would never see you again. We both did. Sam was even worried about his health. He wasn’t sleeping, he was short tempered. When we found Apache and then rode to the Martin place, I thought he was going to shoot him. He threatened to kill the man if he learned he had hurt you in any way. ”

” I didn’t kill them. I was in the hole in the cellar. ”


” What I’m going to tell you….it’s not easy to say…….Some of it won’t be easy to hear…… I was taken upstairs and locked in a bedroom with her for three days. During that tie, Vera said when she was sixteen, her father took her newborn baby and fed it to the hogs. She said he killed her mother too and did the same thing.  I was forced to do it…..I didn’t want to, she was just seventeen. Her father told her that when a man dances with a woman, that means he wants to mate with her. That’s why she came to the ranch that day after the dance. The first time, I don’t know how long I was there. I don’t think it was very long when she came down into the hole I was chained up in. I was naked and sprawled on the ground, shackles on my wrist and ankles. She……she straddled me and gave herself satisfaction before she……Clyde came down right after while she was still on top of me and yanked her off. Her father heard the commotion and came down. Clyde told him what happened before he took her upstairs while her father kicked me viciously in the ribs, telling me she wasn’t ready to mate yet…….I begged her to not do it, but couldn’t stop her, or my body from responding to what she was doing. ” he explained.

” The next time I was given three days to get her pregnant. Anyways, we were locked in that upstairs bedroom where she told me what her father had done to her baby and mother. Her father had her brainwashed. She told me he would beat me severely and break bones if I didn’t do what he wanted. He said the time was right, that she was bleeding and needed to mate. Scott, that man was so sick in the head believing what he did. When he came and got us after the three days were up, he made me take her so he could watch. That sonofabitch had Clyde keep a shotgun  on me as he satisfied himself, standing in front of his daughter. Then  he threw me back in the hole and left me. ” Johnny said as he stood up and walked over to the steps. ” As I waited to learn if she was pregnant or not the father decided him and Clyde wanted to have some fun with me. ”

Scott got a sick feeling in his stomach as he heard what his brother was saying. He had heard the men scream while in Libby prison as the guards, even other prisoners did what he was saying.

” The night I escaped I heard them arguing in the kitchen. Clyde was angry and said I wasn’t needed anymore so he wanted to kill me. I heard Vera scream, a shotgun go off, her father yell you killed her. You killed my daughter and then two more shotgun blast go off. ” Johnny said softly. ” I didn’t know who was still alive up there so I waited a while, listening for any movement. Hearing no footsteps I climbed out of the hole, and walked into the kitchen. Vera was laying on the floor covered in blood. Her father and Clyde were laying across the room dead as well. Clyde killed Vera and the baby… baby. ” Johnny said as he started to shake.

Scott walked over and pulled his brother into a hug, holding tight when Johnny tried to push him away. ” Let it out brother. ”

Johnny let the tears fall as his knees buckled.

” I’ve got you, it’s okay. It’s going to be okay. ” he said as he held onto his brother.


Teresa climbed out of bed the next morning and put her robe on as the sun shined in the bedroom window. Quietly she opened her door and went out into the kitchen to start some coffee. Looking over she could see Johnny was still sound asleep. She had heard some of what Johnny said last night talking to his brother and cried herself hearing what happened. Hearing Johnny had been forced into getting the girl pregnant only to have them both murdered months later.  Hearing Johnny moaning, she walked over and seen he was dreaming. Seeing a tear run down his cheek. She knew what he was dreaming about, and it broke her heart. Placing her hand on his right arm, she gently started to wake him up.

” Johnny, you’re dreaming. Wake up. ” she said.

Johnny opened his eyes and found Teresa sitting on the bed next to him. Blinking several times he sat up. ” Sorry. ”

” Are you okay? ” she asked as she wiped away the tear that ran down his cheek ” I’m sorry Johnny. ”

” For what? ” he asked.

” The loss of your unborn child. ” she said. ” I can’t imagine what you’re feeling. ”

” I never got a chance to know if I had a son or daughter. ”

” You’ll get a chance to be a father again. ” she took a chance and said. ” A man like you, as good looking as you are will find someone to love, marry and have a family with. ”

Johnny looked into her eyes. ” If I do, I want her to be just like you. ” he said softly.

Teresa smiled. ” Careful, I might get jealous. ” she said with a smile. ” Besides, there’s only one me. ” she said before standing up.

” Teresa… you think you could ever love me? ” he asked.

” Johnny, I have already been loving you for so long in my dreams. Long before any of this happened. ”

Johnny and Teresa came back to the house after two months at the line-shack. For a month he fought with his feelings, and decided he had to tell his father how he felt about Teresa, and tell him they would be together with or without his approval.

 ” We need to talk. ” Johnny said matter-of-factually as he walked into the great room.

Murdoch looked up from the paperwork he was doing. ” Go on. ”

” I have feelings for Teresa, and she does for me. We want to be together, we want to get married. ”

Murdoch stood up. ” Feelings, married? Did you dishonor her while alone in that line-shack? ” he demanded.

” No, and even if I did, it’s none of your business since we are both of age!” Johnny responded as his anger started to build. ” We’ve grown close to each other and want to be together. Now you can accept it or not, I don’t care. ”

” I will not permit you to be together in this house! ”

” I don’t need this house to make her mine. I can make her mine anyplace we chose, and you can’t stop us. ”

” And how will you take care of her? ” he demanded. ” By going back and living by that damn gun. ”

” Is that what you think of me? ”

” I don’t know what to think of you anymore. ”

” Think what you like. ” Johnny said before turning and walking out of the room.

Johnny worked hard every day trying to put his life back together. The silence between father and son didn’t go unnoticed by the hands. Every day Johnny and Teresa grew closer together. The first time he kissed her, they were alone in the kitchen as she prepared lunch. Murdoch had gone to town and Scott was out working. Walking into the kitchen, he walked up behind her, and turned her around. ” There’s something I need to do. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. ” he said before lowering his lips to hers, and kissing her. Pulling back just enough to look into her eyes, he smiled when he found her standing there with her eyes still closed. Kissing her again, he deepened the kiss by sliding his tongue into her mouth and tasting her. Pulling her to him tighter as she wrapped her arms around him. Moaning aloud as his hands started roaming over her body. Touching her breast, squeezing them gently as he pressed against her.

Teresa waited for a long time for Johnny to kiss her like he was. Waiting to feel his hands on her, touching her in forbidden places. Feeling the heat from his body exciting her body as her lower extremities started reacting in a way she had never felt before. Gasping when he ran his hand down between her legs and touched her, rubbing her.  Lifting her right leg up as she clung to him. That’s how it was every time they stole a few minutes alone, hidden in some corner of the house, or room when nobody was around. Several times they would go to the barn well after dark and explore each others bodies. Johnny kissing, sucking and touching everywhere he could on her.

Several times he came real close to taking her innocence. Both of them were in the back of the barn in total darkness kissing passionately. ”  I want you so bad Teresa. ” he said.

” I want you too Johnny. ” she responded. ” Take me, take me now my love. ”

” I want to but…..not here. ” he said. ” Murdoch is going to Green River tomorrow, and will be gone all day. ”

” What about Scott? ” she asked.

” He’ll be out working. ”

” So what do we do for now? ” she asked.

” I can’t walk back inside with the problem I have. Would you help me make it go away? ”

” What do you want me to do? ” she asked.


Johnny undid his pants and pushed them down enough to allow his hardness to pop out. Taking her hand in his, he placed it on his manhood. ” Wrap your fingers around it and do this. ” he said as he showed her what he wanted her to do. ” It won’t take me long. ”

Teresa watched as Johnny showed her what to do. Finding it excited her, made her hot and wet between her legs. ” How about instead of me, I watch you do that? ” she asked.

Johnny leaned down and claimed her mouth with hunger as he worked his hand fast for maybe a minute before he exploded. Standing there on shaky legs as he worked his shaft until he was done. Looking down, he found Teresa was also pleasuring herself. Reaching down he stopped her. ” Not yet querida. With what will happen to you, I want you doing that in bed. ”


Johnny could hardly wait until his father and brother left the house the next morning after breakfast.. Murdoch had ordered him to clear brush from Cantua creek while his brother went to Modesto, and would be gone all day. Today he would make Teresa his. Something he thought about doing for a long time. Every time he was alone with her, he wanted her. He planned on marrying Teresa real soon and knew he should wait until their wedding night, but they both wanted to be together, and Teresa kept begging him to take her every time they were alone. Tired of satisfying his sexual wants with his hand, he would ignore his father’s words and make her his today.

Waiting until they were sure Murdoch and Scott were gone, he took Teresa by the hand and went upstairs to his bedroom. Once inside, he closed the door, spun Teresa around and claimed her mouth with hunger and passion as he started removing his clothes. Moaning as he devoured her mouth with his, tasting her as he walked her backwards to his bed. Pushing his pants down he sat down on the bed to remove his boots. His hardness standing out as he stood up.

Teresa  removed her clothes as she looked at Johnny, marveling at his body. Her eyes locked on his hardness, smiling when he reached down and started playing with it, wrapping his fingers around it. ” Oh my. ” she said with a smile.


Johnny couldn’t stop his breathing from becoming deeper and faster as he started working himself.

” Are you sure you want to do this? ” he asked as he stopped.

” I’m sure. ” she said as her own breathing started to get faster. ” Oh Johnny, don’t stop. Let me watch you. ”

Johnny was shocked Teresa wanted to watch him satisfy himself with his hand. Working himself he smiled as he watched her run her hand down between her legs and start touching where he so desperately wanted to be. ” Teresa! ” he said as he exploded. Knowing he could climax again, he pushed her down on the bed and got between her legs, pressing his hardness against her entrance as both of them had an urgency, a need they wanted to fill. Shoving inside her, he wasted no time grinding into her, thrusting as hard as he could as she bucked up against him. Setting a rhythm he found hard to keep as Teresa went crazy.

Both of them holding on to each other as they rolled around on the bed, bucking against each other.  After a few minutes he stopped and had her get on her hands and knees. Positioning himself behind her, he guided himself into her again. ” You’re gong to like this. ” he said as he grabbed her hair, pulled her back against his chest and started pounding into her with such force, the headboard was hitting the wall. When he reached down and started touching and pinching her folds, she felt like she would explode. Placing her hands on the headboard, she held tight as skin slapped skin. Her lower region, especially between her legs craving what he was doing. Begging him to not stop. Raising up she turned her face and their mouths came together with hunger as their tongues battled. Running  her hand down, she started touching and pinching her nipples before letting her hand go lower.

Johnny was shocked when he felt Teresa’s fingers touching his shaft as he slid in and out of her before she started touching herself. ” You keep doing that, I promise you’ll love what it does to you querida. ” he said as he continued slamming into her hard and fast. He knew her first time would be intense. After a few minutes, he could feel her muscles tighten around him, and knew she was starting to climax.

” Johnny, what’s happening to me? ” she panted.

” Don’t stop. Let it go…..Oh my god let it go! ” he begged as her muscles got so tight, he could feel them squeezing his shaft. All he could do was hold onto her as she bucked against him, her legs shaking uncontrollably as she called his name several times. ” I’m not done yet. ” Johnny said as he pulled out of her, rolled her onto her back and slid inside her again. Picking her right leg up, he  watched his hardness slide in and out of her, exciting him more. Her breast jiggling with every thrust he made.  Grunting, moaning and skin slapping skin filled the room for several minutes, Feeling himself ready to explode he picked up her left leg. ” Yes, yes, yes. I’m……… Teresa! ” he yelled as he finally released. ” Oh my god querida. You’re mine now! ” he said as he pumped into her several times before collapsing, covered in sweat, and breathing hard. Neither one aware of the lone figure standing outside the bedroom door.


All afternoon Murdoch thought about how to address what happened in his sons bedroom. When he heard them finally coming downstairs, he walked over and poured a shot of scotch and downed it.

” Murdoch. ” Teresa said.

Johnny stopped at the bottom of the stairs a second before walking on into the great room.

” Did I not ask you to clear the underbrush from Cantua creek today? ” Murdoch demanded. ” Answer me? ”

” You know what we’ve been doing, so just say what you want to say. ”

” With what you have done, you have showed me you are not responsible enough to be a third owner of this ranch. ” Murdoch said firmly. ” You put your lust over being a responsible person. Therefore I am having the partnership agreement amended, taking your name off the agreement. ”

” Murdoch, you can’t do that! ” Teresa said. ” Johnny has a right to……… ”

” He forfeited that right when he took you to his bed after I specifically forbid him of doing that. ” Murdoch said firmly.

” I am not your ward anymore. We don’t need your permission to be together. ”

” I want you both gone from this house. I don’t care where you go, but you are not staying in this house any longer. ” Murdoch ordered.

” I told you I was in love with Teresa! ”

” You don’t know the first thing about love. All you care about is satisfying your carnal lust and to hell with the consequences of your actions. ”

” Lust……wasn’t it lust you had when you took my mother to bed and got her pregnant? ”

” What happened between me and your mother is none of your business.  You’re an irresponsible person, and I want you out of my house……….now, both of you. ”

” None of my business…… Teresa, go pack some clothes. ” Johnny waited until Teresa left the room. ” You fucking bastard you married my mother four months after you got her pregnant! You dare stand there and lecture me about carnal lust. ”

Murdoch swung and hit Johnny as hard as he could, knocking him into the sideboard, the decanters falling to the floor and shattering. ” You dare use that language in my house. ”  he demanded as he dragged him to his feet and slammed his fist big into his jaw, snapping his head back as another blow connected with his midsection. Struggling to catch his breath, Johnny felt himself being jerked to his feet and violently shoved toward the door.

Teresa came running out of her room and screamed as she watched in horror as Murdoch beat Johnny.

” Get the hell out of my house before I kill you with my bare hands you sonofabitch! ” Murdoch yelled as he hit Johnny again in the face, knocking him into the sideboard, causing the crystal decanters to fall and shatter on the floor.

Scott walked into the house just after dark. ” Have you gone mad? ” he demanded. ” Frank told me you beat Johnny, and ran him and Teresa off Lancer. ”

” It’s of no concern of yours. ”

” If it involves my little brother it is my concern. ” Scott snapped back.

” I call the tune on this ranch. I have the final say in deciding who is or is not a part owner, and I will not allow an irresponsible person who refuses to do work. ”

” And there it is…..You have been waiting for a chance to remove Johnny from the partnership agreement. I’m surprised you didn’t have it done when he went missing. ” Scott said sarcastically.

” You signed the paper just like that ungrateful bastard. ”

” Johnny is your son, my brother and I will be damned if I’m going to allow you to run him off because he fell in love with Teresa. ”

” The matter is closed. It’s not open for further discussion. ”

” You don’t give at all do you? All pride and Johnny’s cut from the same mold. Not one inch of give. ”

” Boy……..I said the matter  is closed. ”

Scott knew it was useless to argue with his father. Heading outside, he was stopped by Frank.

” If you’re going after your brother, check with the doc. Mister Lancer beat him something bad. So I bet Miss Teresa made him go there. ”

” Thanks Frank. ”

” Can’t a man eat his supper in peace? ” Sam gruffed as he went to his back door and opened it. ” Teresa…..Johnny……what on earth? ”

” Hey Sam. ” Johnny said softly.

”What happened to you? ” Sam asked as he helped Johnny back to his exam room. ” Up on the table John, and take off your shirt. ”

” He didn’t want to come here. I had to make him. ”

” Those are some pretty serious bruises on your face John, what happened? ”

” Murdoch beat him. Oh Sam he was so angry. ”

” Why…….Aah I take it something has happened between the two of you, and he disapproves? ”

” Gee Sam, I don’t know……..maybe. ”

” That will be enough sarcasm from you young man. ” Sam ordered as he started to clean up a cut on Johnny’s cheek. ” Where all did he hit you? ”

” Face mostly, but in my stomach once. ” Johnny responded. ” I’m sorry querida. I knew he would be mad, but not……I’m sorry.  I’ll take care of you for as long as you will have me. ”

” I want to spend the rest of my life with you Johnny. ” she said. ” As I told you, I have loved you for a long time, long before you were taken. ”

” John, does it hurt when you talk? ”

” A little.”

” How many times did he hit you and how long ago? ”  Sam asked.

” Three, maybe four times. ”

” As long as it took us to come here. ” Teresa said.

” So about two, maybe three hours……I don’t think your jaw is broke, but it might have a slight fracture. ”

” He hits as hard as a mule kicks. ”

” I suggest you not go back to the house tonight. ”

” We can’t go back Sam. Murdoch ordered us to leave and said he is removing Johnny from the partnership agreement. ”

” That man has gone crazy. He worried himself sick worrying about you when you were missing. Worried about you for twenty years as he searched for you. ” Sam said. ” I am going to give that man a piece of my mind. ”

” It’s not worth it Sam. ”

” I have wanted to give that fool a piece of my mind for a long time now. ” Sam said. ” What are your plans? ”

” To get married and find a place to live. ” Johnny said.

” You’re going to be pretty sore come morning. I suggest you get a room and rest a few days. ”

” I can get us a hotel room. ”

” Teresa apply cold compresses to the bruises to help them dissipate, and soak in a hot bath to help with the soreness. ” Sam instructed. ” You’re in good hands John. ”

Scott rode into Spanish Wells and stopped at Sam’s. Dismounting he went  inside.

” They’re not here Scott. ” Sam said.

” Where are they? ”

” At the hotel. Murdoch beat Johnny pretty good. ” Sam responded. ” He’s pretty bruised up. They’re going to stay here a couple days so I can keep an eye on him. ”

” Thanks Sam. ” Scott said before heading to the hotel.

” Let’s get you in bed. ” Teresa said. ” Do you need anything? ”

” Just you. ” he said as he placed his hand between her legs.

” Johnny, Sam said you need to rest…..and to do as I say. ” Teresa said as she tried to stop him, but found herself unable to stop the fire that started to build in her. ” God the way you make me feel when you touch me there. ”

Johnny took her hand and pulled it down between his legs just as someone knocked on the door. ” Damn. ”

Teresa took several deep breaths as she walked to the door and opened it. ” Scott. ” she squealed as she wrapped her arms around him.

Scott stepped into the room and hugged her back. Looking over at the bed, he was shocked to see the bruises on his brothers face.

” You came a long way for nothing if you’re here to try and talk me into going back. ” Johnny said.

” Jesus…..Sam said you had bruises, but I had no idea they were this bad. ” Scott said as he walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed. ” What the hell happened? ”

Johnny and Teresa told him everything that happened. When they finished, Scott stood up and walked over to the window. ” What are you going to do? ”

” Get married as soon as I’m healed up, find a place Teresa likes, settle down and start a family with the woman I love. ”

Scott could tell his brother had changed, not from what happened between him and their father, but changed with Teresa. He could see in his eyes he was deeply in love with her.  ” I had a feeling something was starting between you two a long time ago. ”

” We snuck around, stealing moments together where nobody could see us. ” Teresa explained. ” This morning, we couldn’t stay apart any longer. We had to be together Scott. ”

” Married first would have been better. ” Scott said.

” You know Boston, I don’t give a damn about Lancer. Meeting you, coming there and meeting Teresa is the only good thing to come of it. ” Johnny said.  ” I knew he never really wanted me there. I was a fool to think I could ever have something like Lancer. ”

” Neither do I. ” he said. ” I don’t want to lose you brother. ”

” Why don’t you get a room for the night and we can talk about this in the morning? ” Johnny suggested.

” I already got a room down the hall. I’ll go stable my horse and see you two in the morning. ” Scott said as he walked to the door.


Teresa locked the door once Scott left, turned and walked back over to the bed. ” Where were we? ” she asked as she removed her clothes, climbed in bed, and straddled Johnny, surprised he was still rock hard. Raising up a little, she reached down and guided him into her. Leaning down, she claimed his mouth as she rose up and down his shaft. ” Get me pregnant Johnny. I want to feel our child inside me. ”

Johnny rolled her onto her side, lifted her left leg up and moved so he was between her legs. ” I can do that. ” he said as he started to slowly move in and out of her. ” Look at it querida. Look at me move in and out of you. ”

Teresa laid there watching Johnny slide in and out of her  until she felt her body start to change. Running her hand down, she pinched her folds, unaware Johnny had stopped, and was now watching her satisfy herself. When she pressed her head back into the pillow he knew she was close, so he started moving in a way it touched her spot every time to send her over the edge. When she finally exploded, he slammed into her, and  released his seed deep inside, pressing tightly against her as he felt her muscles spasm and milk him dry.


” Good morning. ” Teresa said.

” Good morning beautiful. ” Johnny said as he rolled over and kissed her.

” Scott will be waiting for us downstairs.. ” she said as she started to get out of bed, but was stopped. ” Johnny, we need to get dressed. ”

” After. ” Johnny said as he got on top of her and started to make love to her again. ” Only way I’m going to get a child is to keep trying until you are. ” he said with a smile.

” And what if Scott comes to the door right now? ” she asked.

” It won’t take me long. ” he said.


Chapter 6

Scott smiled when he seen his brother and Teresa come into the cafe. ” I about gave up on you boy. ” he said with a grin.

” Just took a little longer to wake up. ” Johnny said as he pulled the chair out for Teresa.

” I must say, watching the two of you walking in here together, you sure do make a good couple. ”

” So what’s the plan? ” Scott asked after breakfast an hour later.

” Where do you want to live? ” Johnny asked Teresa.

” As long as I’m with you, I don’t care. ” she said. ” Do you want a ranch?….a house in town?….It’s not just up to me. ”

” Do you want to move out of the valley? ” Scott asked.

” No. I like it here.”

” You realize you may acquire trouble from Murdoch. ”

” Speaking of Murdoch. ” Teresa said as she watched Murdoch walk in with the sheriff.

” Now what? ” Johnny asked softly.

” There he is Gabe. Arrest that horse thief! ” Murdoch ordered.

” Just simmer down Murdoch. I’m not arresting your son for stealing a Lancer horse. ” Gabe said.

” You seen there are three of them in the livery……Do your damn job and arrest him! ”

Scott stood up. ” You got a lot of nerve! ”

” Just simmer down everyone. ” Johnny lets all go over to my office and talk. ”

Johnny raised his head up and glared at his father.

” What the hell happened to you? ” Gabe asked.

” He beat him is what happened sheriff. ” Scott said.

” He do that to you? ”

” Yesterday. ” Johnny said before walking out, making sure the people in the cafe seen his face. Women gasped as they seen the horrible bruises.

” WI don’t know what the hell is going on between the three of you, but from what I see, it’s you who should be arrested Murdoch, and if Johnny wants to press assault charges against you, I’ll gladly arrest you. ” Gabe said.

” I was defending myself against him. ”Murdoch said firmly. ” He came at me in my house.”

” That’s a lie. ” Teresa cut in and said. She then told Gabe what happened between them, and what Murdoch said to Johnny.

” Johnny, this partnership agreement. How did you sign it? ” Gabe asked. ” What I’m getting at is, did you sign it Johnny Madrid or Johnny Lancer? ”

” Lancer, because it’s my birthright name. ”

” There’s a copy at the lawyers office. ” Scott said.

” I believe Johnny, but  I’ll take a look at it. ” Gabe said. ” Now, if he signed it Lancer, he’s not guilty of stealing any Lancer horses. ”

” One of those horses I rode in on last night Gabe.”

” And I rode in on the other one. ” Teresa added.

” Miss Teresa, would you mind going over to the lawyers office and ask him to bring his copy of the partnership agreement over here? ”

” Certainly. ” she said before leaving.

” Glad to see you put some weight back on again Johnny. Other than the matter at hand, how you been? ”

” I’m good. Marrying Teresa and going to settle down somewhere around here and start a family and horse ranch. ”

” This is cattle country boy. There’s no need for a horse ranch. ” Murdoch said.

Johnny walked over to his father. ” Let me tell you something old man. Wen you did this to me last night, you stopped being my father, not that you ever were, and you have no say in what I do. This valley is full of mustangs that belong to no one just waiting to be rounded up and broke. ”

” You set one foot on Lancer land and I’ll have you shot on sight! ”

” That’s enough you two. ” Gabe said as Teresa walked back in with Randall.

” Mister Randall, how did Johnny sign the agreement? ” Gabe asked.

” John Lancer. ” Randall said as he handed the paper to Gabe. ” His is the bottom signature. ”

” Can he have Johnny and me taken off the agreement? ” Scott asked.

” It’s a legal document. I don’t know what’s happening, but this document is on record in Sacramento. The only way you can have it changed Murdoch is to buy them out. Otherwise they are each a third owner and entitled to a third of Lancer. ” Randall explained. ” You stipulated in the agreement that you call the tune, but you never had me put in there stopping the boys from taking half of Lancer away from you if they wanted too. That includes all holdings in the silver mines, timber    stocks and bonds. ”

Johnny smiled. ” You want me gone, it’s going to cost you. ”

” I’ll be getting us a lawyer and have him contact Mister Randall  when we decide on a price. ” Scott said.

Murdoch glared at Johnny. ” You just crossed a line you should have never crossed boy. ” he said before storming out.

” Did he do that to you? ” Randall asked.

” Thank you for your time Mister Randall. ” Johnny said. ” We done here Gabe? ”

” Almost, listen, are you looking for a place to settle down? ” he asked.

” You know of a place? ” Scott asked.

” I was talking to Jake Mendoza the other day. He’s going to sell his place off. ” Gabe said. ” His wife’s health is failing and she needs to go south were it’s warmer. ”

” Thanks. Just might ride over there and see what he’s asking for it. ” Johnny said.

” Randall, as my lawyer, what we discuss goes no further right? ”

” Yes. It’s lawyer, client privilege. Why? ”

” Come to my ranch this evening and have supper with me. ”

” I have an engagement tonight Murdoch. My schedule is free for the next hour. ”

” Alright. I worked over thirty years to build Lancer up. It was nothing when I bought it. I will not allow that half-breed bastard to come here and take what I broke my back creating. ”

” Murdoch, I told you to get him off the agreement, you have to buy his third out. ”

” I’ll be damned if I will pay for what is already mine. ” Murdoch said firmly.

” Do you really want to deny your son what he is entitled too, deny him his birthright? ”

” It’s not his birthright. ”

” If this goes to court, he will win. ” Randall said. ” He will win because he didn’t grow up at Lancer. The judge could believe your wife and child were thrown off Lancer when he was a baby. ”

” I didn’t throw them out. ”

” Yes, but the judge doesn’t. Just count your losses, buy them out and move on. ”

” I’ll move on, but not until he’s dead. Who’s to say someone comes gunning for Johnny Madrid and he gets killed. ”

” Murdoch….I don’t want to know this. Don’t do this…….please. A piece of land and money is not worth doing what you just suggested. ”

” He’s a gunfighter. Men have tried killing him before. I let it be known Johnny Madrid is here. The Mexican Rurales and others seek to kill him. ”

” I have to ask you to leave Murdoch. Making me a part of this is not right, and I want no part of it. ”

” Johnny, Scott, what brings you here? ” Jake Mendoza asked. ” Is Murdoch going to be moving cattle across my land? ”

Johnny and Scott dismounted and shook the man’s hand. ” We wouldn’t know about that Jake. ” Scott said.

” We heard you’re selling and moving your wife south. ” Johnny said.

” The sheriff must have told you. Is Murdoch wanting to purchase my land? ”

” Not Murdoch, me. ” Johnny said.

” Us. ” Scott corrected.

” So what I heard is true about what happened! I’m sorry Johnny. ”

” Would you sell to us? ” Johnny asked.

” It’s ten thousand acres, but you already know that. All the buildings are solid, the corrals are good and strong. I just built a bigger chicken coop last spring. The house has two bedrooms upstairs and one downstairs. ” Jake explained.

” Can I ask how much you want for all of it? ”

” For you, a dollar an acre is a fair price. ”

Johnny took a deep breath and exhaled as he looked around the place.

” Walk around and look. Talk it over. I need to check on Mary. ” Jake said. ” Come in the house when you’re ready. ”

Johnny walked toward the barn with Scott.

” Ten thousand acres for a dollar an acre is a good deal. ” Scott said.

” The price is no problem.  I can pay that. ” Johnny said.

Scott looked  at his brother in shock.

” I worked two years for Wells Fargo, they paid real good. I just kept putting it in the bank. ”

” Let me pay half. If we’re going to be partners, it’s only right that I pay half. ” Scott suggested.

” We can build more corrals and build another barn for feed off to the left over there. ”

” You do realize we buy this, Murdoch will not be happy, especially when it comes time to move his cattle. ” Scott said.

” We will also control his major water source in the summer. ” Johnny added. ” I like the idea of having him squirm, and be at our mercy. ”

” Shall we go tell him? ”

” Mister Lancer, I rode over to the Mendoza ranch like you asked to let him know we’re bringing a herd thru next week and he’s gone. He sold out and moved south. ” Walt said.

” What? ” 

” Yes sir. The new owners said for us to go around from now on. That they don’t want Lancer cattle on their property ever again. ” Walt said.

” Just who the hell do they think they are? I have been driving my cattle thru there for the better part of ten years. ”

” The new owners are your sons, Scott and Johnny. ”

” What……I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow them to stop me from taking my cattle thru there. ” He said with anger as he sat down at his desk. Once alone, he opened the bottom drawer of his desk and pulled out a file. Opening it up, he started scanning thru it, looking for a specific report. Finding it, he started reading and found the name. ” Texas Jack. ” Pulling out a piece of paper, he set to writing a short letter.

” You think he’ll come here today? ” Scott asked.

” I’d bet a bottle of tequila on it he does. ” Johnny said. ” He was probably good and mad when Walt told him who bought the place and he can’t cross it anymore. ”

” Teresa happy with the place? ”

” I think so. She plans on turning the small room downstairs into a nursery. ” he said. ” You know,we can build you a house if you find a good woman who will have you. ”

” Maybe later I might look for a future wife. Right  now I’ll settle for being an uncle. ”

” Working on that brother….Trust me, we’re working on that. ” Johnny said with a smile.

” Here he comes. ”

” Just what the hell do you think you’re doing boy? ” Murdoch demanded as he stopped his horse.

” Fixing up our new place. ”

” Don’t play games with me boy. You know damn well what I’m talking about. You have no right stopping me from driving my cattle to the rail head! ”

” Do you know what he’s talking about Boston? ”

” Lancer has always had the right of way thru here. ”

” Your agreement was with Jake Mendoza and it was not in writing. Since we are now the owners of the property, Lancer is not allowed to cross. I don’t want your stinking cows tearing up good grazing we need for our horses. ” Johnny explained.

” You never showed up at the time of sale and signing of the papers to continue the easement, therefore we don’t have to honor it with you. ” Scott added.

” Take your cattle around. ” Johnny said.

” That’s two extra days going around. ” Murdoch said with anger.

” Not our problem old man. You brought these problems on not us. ”

”You little bastard……You’re a dead man. ” Murdoch said with anger before riding a way.

Johnny let out a big sigh as he stood there watching his father ride away.

” I’m sorry brother. ”

” I need you to make me a promise Scott. I need you to promise me that if something happens to me, you will take care of Teresa. ”

” Nothing is going to happen to you, but yes….I would be honored to take care of her brother. ”

Johnny put his boots on, stood up and walked over behind Teresa and wrapped his arms around her. ” God I love you so much querida. ”

Teresa turned around to face him. ” Johnny, you’re going to be a father. ”

Johnny stared at her a minute before smiling. ” You’re….really? ”

” Yes. ”

” Oh man, it finally happened. ” he said as he hugged her. ” When? ”

” Six months, so December ”

” A Christmas baby. Our son or daughter born on Christmas day would be so great. ” he said.

” It would. ” she said. ” So when are you and Scott going to start rounding up horses? ”

” We should be done with the corrals today, so probably tomorrow. Scott told me a while back about a palomino stallion he said would be a good horse for me. He has a good sized herd. ”

” You be careful. ”

Texas Jack sat  in his room reading a letter he received. A Pinkerton agent had tracked him down and delivered it to him. It was short and to the point. It would seem some rich rancher in the San Joaquin named Murdoch Lancer wished to hire his gun, and was willing to pay three thousand dollars to do the job he wanted done. Sending a wire to Lancer, he kept it simple and to the point, telling him he accepted and would arrive before winter.

Having spent over two months riding, Jack was now in Green River, in the saloon having a beer.

” You ever hear of a man named Murdoch Lancer? ”

Mac, the bartender was busy washing and drying glasses. ” Sure, I know Murdoch. ”

” What can you tell me about the man? ”

” He owns the biggest spread in the San Joaquin valley, runs it with his two sons Scott and Johnny….well he used to. Seems they had a big falling out, him and the youngest one and they both left. ” Mac said. ” Course I’m surprised a man like Johnny even stayed there as long as he did given what he was in his past. It’s a shame actually. That boy was trying so hard to give up that life. ”

” What life would that be? ”

” Lancer’s pup, he’s Johnny Madrid. ” Mac said. ” Seems him and Lancer’s ward got involved. The old man wasn’t having any of it, beat the hell out of him and threw him off the land.  He even tried to have his son arrested for horse stealing. Boy was that ever fun to watch backfire on him. Johnny and Scott, they’re both nothing like their old man. You wouldn’t know he used to be Madrid when ya meet him. He’s right nice. Married that girl Teresa and bought a place to start a horse ranch. ”

” Yeah, Jake Mendoza used to let Lancer cross his land when moving cattle. Johnny got that easement stopped when he bought the place. It angered Lancer something fierce. ” a man also standing at the bar said. ” I heard he was so angry about hat, he went and hired someone to kill him. Seems the partnership agreement all three signed for a third of Lancer each, Johnny sighed it as Lancer, so his lawyer told him the only way he can get Johnny removed as a third owner is to buy him out. ”

” How is it you two know so much about it? ”

” I used to work for Lancer, but quite last week. I like his two boys and want no part in killing Johnny or working for a man who could be that  cold. ”

” Much obliged for the info gentlemen. ”

” I’m looking for a man named Murdoch Lancer. ”

” I’m Murdoch. What can I do for you? ”

” It’s what I might be able to do for you. Names Texas Jack . ”

” I’ve been expecting you. Get down and come inside. Jess, take the man’s horse. ”

Jack followed Murdoch into the house. ” Real nice home you have here. ”

” Thank you. Drink? ”

” What you got? ”

” Scotch, brandy, whiskey, tequila. ”

” Tequila is good. ” Jack said. ” So why am I here? ”

” Sit down, please. ” Murdoch said as he handed him his drink. ” I want to hire you to kill someone. ”

Jack knew who he wanted him to take care of, but chose not to say anything just yet.

” It’s taken me over thirty years to build this place up to be the ranch it is today. A half-breed bastard named Johnny Madrid is trying to take it away from me. I want him killed. ”

” Johnny Madrid….You want me to try and kill Madrid for a thousand dollars? ”

” Look, if you can’t handle the job, leave. I’m a busy man. ”

Jack stood up and downed the drink. ” Lancer, I don’t like being lied to. ”

” I haven’t lied to you. I told you what I want and why. ”

” You must think I’m stupid. I talked to the bartender in Green River, along with another man. They told me a different story. One I’m more inclined to believe. You want me to kill your son… will cost you five thousand. ” Jack said. ” Three thousand to kill him, and two thousand for lying to me. Due upfront. ”

” You accepted the job for three thousand! ” Murdoch said firmly.

” You should have thought of that before lying to me. ” Jack said.

” I’ll have to go to the bank on Monday. I don’t keep that kind of money here. ”

” Alright. Where’s he at? ”

” He bought a place northwest of here. Follow the road to the fork, go right about three miles. ” Murdoch said.

” Alright. I’ll be back Monday afternoon. ”

” Looks like about a hundred head. ” Scott said.

” Yeah. Where’s the stallion? ” Johnny said as he looked around. ” There he is. ” 

 ” That’s that palomino I told you would be perfect for you. ” Scott said.

” He’s something alright. ” Johnny said. ” You go left,  I’ll take the right. Once I get a rope on the stallion, the mares should follow me back. We’ll run them into the big corral. ”

Texas Jack rode up to the house he assumed he would find Madrid living at. Seeing a pregnant woman and another woman in the garden as he rode up.

” Hello. Can I help you? ” Teresa asked as she walked over to him.

” Morning ma’am. Names Texas Jack. I’m trying to find an old friend of mine I rode with years ago in Texas and Mexico. ” he said. ” His name is Johnny Madrid, but he may be going by his birth name of Johnny Lancer now. ”

” That’s my husband. ” she said.

” Is he here? ”

” No, he’s out rounding up horses and won’t be back till tonight. ”

” Tell him Texas Jack stopped by, and I’ll see him real soon ma’am. ” Jack said before riding away.

” He sure is something. ” Scott said as they walked in the house.

” Sure is. ” Johnny responded.

” Wash up, supper is ready. ” Teresa said. ” Who were you talking about when you came in? ”

” The stallion we caught. ”

Teresa sat down next to her husband. ” What’s he look like? ”

” A beautiful golden coat with a white mane and tail that shine like silver. ” Johnny said.

 ” Oh Johnny, I almost forgot. A man stopped by this afternoon to see you. ”

” What man? ”

” I think he said his name was Texas Jack. ”

” He say anything? ”

” Just that he would come back to see you. ”

” An old friend? ” Scott asked as they sat down to eat.

”  What did he look like? ”

” Older man, but not as old as Murdoch. Wears his gun like you do. Black trousers, jacket and vest with a white shirt. He had a nice silver band on his hat. ” Teresa described.

” That him? ” Scott asked.

” Yeah, that’s him. ”

” I wonder how he knew you were here? ”

” This is real good Juanita. ” Teresa said.

” Thank you. ”

” You want to start cutting them tomorrow? ” Scott asked.

” Yeah, we’ll split them up and see what we can use and turn the others loose. ” Johnny said.

” Alright. I guess I’ll see you in the morning. ”

” Night Scott. ”

” I think I will turn in too my love. ” Teresa said as she stood up. ” Don’t stay up too late. ”

” I won’t. I’m just going to go out and check on the horses. Wait until you see that stallion tomorrow. ”Johnny said before kissing her goodnight. Heading to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. ” I thought you were done for the night? ” he asked Juanita as he poured a cup of coffee.

” Just finishing up. ” she said.

” You’re a good cook. ” he said as he went to the door. ” Thank you for helping Teresa. ”

” I don’t mind. ” she said. ” You going out to check the horses? ”

” Yeah. Goodnight. ”


Chapter 7

” That makes five thousand Murdoch. Can I do anything else for you? ” Jim Pierpoint asked.

” No. ”

” Is this money to buy out your son Johnny? ”

” Certainly not. I will not give that bastard a dime for what is rightfully mine. ” Murdoch snapped back. ” This is for a contract I acquired. ”

Jim motioned for a teller to bring a piece of paper to him. ” Listen Murdoch…….you have been a customer for a long time. One of my best, but I’m gonna have to remove your money from my bank. ” Jim said. ” I’m sorry but my board members feel the same way. Lancer is no longer a sound investment. This bank draft is for the full amount you had in the bank, minus the five thousand in cash you have. ”

Murdoch stood glaring at Jim in shock at what he just heard. ” You can’t do this! ”

” Look Murdoch, the board has made their decision. Lancer is no longer welcome to do business in this bank. Now please leave or I will have you thrown out. ”

Murdoch snatched the bank draft from his hand and stormed out of the bank. Looking down the street, he seen Johnny, Scott riding into town with Teresa and Juanita in a buggy.

” Johnny. ” Scott said.

” Yeah, I see him. ” Johnny said as he dismounted and helped Teresa down from the buggy.

” I want to talk to him. ” Teresa said. ” I want him to know he’s going to be a grandfather. ”

” You actually think I would ever acknowledge that bastard half-breed baby you’re carrying as my grandchild… thought wrong. ” Murdoch spat after listening to Teresa tell him the news.

Johnny spun around and started toward his father, but was stopped by Scott. ” He’s not worth it brother. He’s not worth it. ”

Johnny looked at his brother a few seconds before turning around and all four walked away.

” Your time is numbered boy. ” Murdoch yelled as they walked away. Looking around, he seen everyone on the street, including Agatha Conway, and Sam stood a few feet away. Mounting up, he rode out of Spanish Wells without saying another word.

Texas Jack rode up to Johnny’s house and dismounted just as Johnny walked out of the house.

” Hello kid. ” Jack said. ” Let’s take a walk, we need to talk. ”

Johnny stepped off the porch and started walking toward the corrals. ” Why you here? ”

” To see an old friend I thought you were working for Wells Fargo? ”

” I did for two years. ” Johnny said. ” You don’t leave Texas unless there’s a good sum of money to be made. You gonna tell me the real reason you’re here? ”

” You got a right nice little ranch here. How many acres is it? ”

” Ten thousand. ”

” How come you’re not living with your old man on that huge spread he has? ”

” Didn’t work out. Turns out he never wanted me. ”

” Is that because you were Madrid? ”

” Mostly. ”

” Your old man…..he’s used to getting what he wants? ”

” He brought you here to kill me didn’t he? ”

Jack pulled the paper from his pocket and handed it to Johnny.  ” When I accepted the job, I didn’t know it was you. ” Jack said. ” I found out from a bartender in Green River it was you he was wanting me to kill. ”

” So what am I worth to him dead? ”

” Five thousand. Three to kill you and two for lying to me. ”

” You take the money? ” he said. ” He paid me Monday afternoon. Seems he was really pissed off at you for something that happened while he was in town. ”

” We had words over something he tried to do to me, but failed. ” Johnny said. ” So since you took the money, you going to try and kill me? ”

” If I was going to try and kill you would I be here now telling you? ”

” To get me to drop my guard you could. ”

” When I came here, I didn’t know Johnny Madrid took a wife, changed his name, bought a ranch, has a kid on the way, and got out of the game. ” Jack said. ” I’m happy for you kid. Not many men get that chance. But! ”

” You gave your word. ”

” A man’s word means everything. Without it, he’s got nothing. ” Jack said.

Johnny sighed. ” When Scott talked me into coming here, he said it was my birthright. I thought I could actually have a normal life. ” Johnny said as he looked to see Teresa and Scott standing on the porch watching them. ” Will you allow me to see my kid when its born? ”

 ” When’s the kid due? ”

” Christmas. ”

” I’ll give you until spring to be with your kid.” Jack said. ” So you know, I won’t ambush you. It’ll be a fair fight. Face to face. I’ll call you out, and I will kill you.”

Johnny picked up a rock and tossed it from hand to hand before throwing it. ” Get the hell off my land! ”

” I’m sorry kid. ” Jack said before going to his horse, and mounting up. ” I’m really sorry ma’am. ” he said before riding away.

Johnny stood there and watched Jack ride away.

Murdoch sat at his desk going over the ledgers when the veranda door suddenly opened and his son walked in.

” Get the hell out of my house! ” he ordered as he stood up.

Johnny walked over to within ten feet of his father, pulled his colt, and pointed it at him. ” All I wanted was to live a normal life, but you never really wanted me to have that. ” Johnny said. ” It makes me sick knowing it’s your blood that flows thru my veins. No wonder my mother left you. ”

” Your mother was nothing but a whore, and you are nothing but a bastard. ”

” Yeah, your bastard. ” Johnny said with ice in his voice. ” Texas Jack showed me the letter you had the Pinkerton deliver to him. Nice to know I’m worth five thousand dollars to you dead. Your grandchild will grow up fatherless just like I had to do. I hope you rot in hell. ”

Scott walked into the saloon in Spanish Wells and looked around. Seeing Texas Jack sitting at a table playing poker with three other men.

” Why you here? ”

Jack looked up at the man. ” He know you’re here? ”

” How much? ” Scott demanded.

” How much for what? ”

” To leave my brother alone? ”

” What makes you think I’m here to hurt your brother? ”

” A man like you doesn’t just come all the way here from Texas to say howdy. I want to know who brought you here, and how much it would take to make you leave? ”

” You can’t put a price on a man’s word boy. I was hired to do a job, and I always keep my word. ” Jack said.

” You kill my brother, and I will hunt you down. ”

Jack stood up, and the other three men he was playing poker with quickly stood up, and moved away from the table.

 ” You’re wearing a gun, either shut up and leave, or use it boy! ”

” Walk away Scott! ” Gabe said from behind him.

” This man threatened me sheriff. I was sitting here minding my own business playing poker when he came in and started threatening me. ” Jack said.

” Let’s go Scott……! ” Gabe ordered.

Scott left the saloon and followed Gabe to his jail. ” He’s here to kill Johnny! ”

” What? ” Gabe asked as he closed the door.

” Someone brought him here. Paid him to come here and kill Johnny! ”. ” Scott said with anger. ” His name is Texas Jack! ”

” How do you know this? ”

” He came to the ranch the other day and talked to Johnny. ”

” That doesn’t mean the man is here to kill him. ” Gabe said. ” Look, he’s done nothing wrong, and until he does, I can’t arrest him. ”

” Go talk to the man Gabe. Ask him. ” Scott said.

” I want you to go home Scott. I don’t want you going anywhere near him again. ” Gabe ordered.

” He’s here to kill my brother, and you order me to leave town! ”

” He’s done nothing wrong, broke no laws. ” Gabe repeated. ” Go home…! ”

” Would you sit down brother? ” Scott asked.

” I don’t want to sit down. ”

” Teresa is fine. If she wasn’t Sam or Juanita would come out and tell us. ” he said as he put an arm around his brother. ” You’re about to get the best birthday gift ever. ”

Thirty minutes later, the loud crying of a baby could be heard coming from the bedroom

” Congratulations brother! ” Scott said.

Johnny looked when the bedroom door opened, and Juanita walked. ” Would you like to hold your son? ”

” Teresa? ” he asked as he took his son in his arms.

” She is fine. You can see her when the doctor is finished. ” she said.

Johnny couldn’t stop the tears from escaping and running down his cheeks as he took his sons tiny hand in his and looked at his tiny fingers. ” he’s the perfect birthday present. ”

” That he is brother. He definitely has your hair brother. ”

” He’s perfect. ” Johnny said as he kissed him on the forehead. ” Want to hold your nephew? ”

” I would love too. ”

Johnny passed his son to Scott. ” You’re sure Teresa is okay? ”

” She’s fine John, and asking for you. ” Sam said as he came out. ” I never dreamed all those years ago when I delivered you I would get the privilege of delivering your son also. ”

Scott walked over and sat down in a chair with the baby. ” I had no idea they are so small when born. ”

” You both were that size once. ” Sam said with a smile. ” If my memory serves me correct, I believe Murdoch said the same thing about you John. ”

” He never talked to me about my childhood, or asked. ”

” Go see Teresa, I’ll bring your son in later. ”

” Mrs. Teresa is having the baby. I seen Scott ride into town and fetch him out to their place. ” Frank was telling Walt, Jess and the other hands who knew Teresa and Johnny.

” I don’t give a damn about them or that half-breed baby she’s having. I should have killed that bastard when he was born. ” Murdoch spat. ” You men get back to work. ”

” With all due respect Mister Lancer…’s Sunday. ” Frank said.

” You’re not the same man I started working for three years ago. ” Walt said. ” You are full of nothing but anger and hate. Your first grandchild is being born, and you say such awful words like that. I want nothing to do with you. ”

” I’m done too. ” Frank said. ” You’re real quick to say terrible things about your own flesh and blood, and that’s not right. You searched twenty years for Johnny, he comes home, only to have you run him off again. You can go straight to hell Lancer. ”

” Then go!!! Get the hell off my land!!! ” Murdoch said before heading to the house.

Johnny walked into the bedroom, closed the door, and walked over to sit on the bed next to Teresa.

” Happy birthday papa. ” she said.

Johnny leaned down and gave her a kiss. ” He’s perfect. Thank you. ”

” He couldn’t wait two days to be born. ” she said.

Johnny laughed. ” No he couldn’t. Are you okay? ”

” I’m tired, and sore. ” she said. ” Sam said with rest I’ll be alright. ”

” You rest and let Juanita take care of you and the baby. ”

” Our son needs a name. ” she said.

” Why don’t we name him after your father? ” he asked.

” Paul, are you sure? ” she asked.

” I’m sure my love. ”

” Then Paul Lancer it is. ”

Sam walked into the Lancer house when he got no answer and found Murdoch at his desk with his head down.

” Murdoch. ”

Murdoch raised his head up. His eyes were bloodshot from crying. ” Sam…..What are you doing here? ”

” I came by to see how you are doing, and though you probably don’t care, let you know you have a grandson who was born this morning. ” Sam replied.

” He’s twenty five now. ” he said softly.

” Yes, and now has a beautiful son born on his birthday. ” Sam said.

” Is Teresa alright? ”

” She’s fine. Like Johnny, his son came into this world fast. ”

” I lost all three of them…….I….I killed my son. ” Murdoch said. ” I brought a man here to kill him and I can’t stop it. ”

” Good lord man, what are you talking about? ”

” I hired a man to kill my own son……I don’t know how to stop it. ” Murdoch said as he started to shake and cry.

” My god!!! Have you gone insane? ” Sam demanded. ” You have to go to Gabe and tell him. ”

” Gabe can’t stop it. I’ve already paid the man. He won’t leave until it’s done. ”

” Murdoch Lancer….you’ve done some pretty foolish things in the years I’ve known you. ” Sam said with anger. ” But to hire a man to kill your own son. You better figure out a way to stop it. ”

” I paid him five thousand dollars Sam. Texas Jack isn’t going to stop. ”

Sam glared at Murdoch a few minutes. ” Does Johnny know this? ”

” Yes, and he knows the man I hired to do it. ”

Sam shook his head in disbelief. ” I don’t know you anymore. ” he said before walking out.

Johnny woke in the middle of the night, got out of bed, and slipped on his pants. What woke him up he knew he couldn’t solve. He knew he couldn’t make love to Teresa for another month yet. It had been almost four months now since the last time he could. Though she helped him satisfy himself at night, it wasn’t the same as having her, being inside her, feeling her tighten around him as she climaxed.

Walking out to the kitchen he poured a cup of coffee and stood looking out at the shadows dancing in the moonlight. It had been a month since his son was born. He never heard Juanita’s bedroom door open, or her walk into the kitchen in a see-through nightgown with nothing on underneath.

” I heard a noise and wanted to see who was up. ” she said.

” Just me. I couldn’t sleep, so I got up so I wouldn’t disturb Teresa or the baby. Sorry if I woke you. ” he said as he stood up and walked over to the sink.

” Are you alright? ” she asked as she walked over to him and placed a hand on his right arm to turn him around.

” Juanita, I love my wife. Please go back to bed. ”

Juanita smiled as she stepped closer. ” She doesn’t have to know. ” she said seductively as she brought her mouth to his and ran her tongue over his bottom lip.

Johnny wrapped his arms around her and responded to her kiss, sliding his tongue in her mouth and moaning as the kiss got deeper. Turning her around, he pressed his hardness into her, rubbing her as his hands went to her breast. When she slid her hand into his pants, and started to caress him, he broke off the kiss and pushed away from her. ” Don’t!!! ”

Juanita stepped closer and tried to touch him again. ” I know you want me. Your wife will not know. ”

” I want you gone in the morning. ” he said as he turned and walked over to the window.

Juanita knew with a little more persuasion he would take her. She knew he was real close to betraying his wife. Removing her robe, she was now totally naked. ” Look at me Johnny. Tell me you don not want to suck on these as you move inside me. ”

Johnny turned around and looked at her naked flesh. The firmness of her breast, her hard nipples. ” I want you gone from this house in the morning. ” he ordered.

” Your father said you would be easy to seduce. You have proven him wrong. ”

” My……What the hell are you talking about? ” he demanded.

” He paid me to come here and seduce you. It disappoints me that I failed. I would have loved to feel you inside me. Your wife is very lucky to have a man such as you to share a bed with. ” she responded.

Johnny grabbed her by the arms and glared at her. ” You bitch. ” he said before shoving her toward her room. ” Stay the hell away from me. ”

When Paul was three months old, Johnny went to bed, and nuzzled up to Teresa. Running his hand down between her legs, touching her as he pressed his hardness against her.

” Johnny….I don’t want to make love with you and get pregnant again yet. ” she said as she pulled his hand from between her legs.

” Come on Teresa. ” he begged.

”  I don’t want to make love with you. I don’t feel like it.” she said as she shoved him off her and sat up.

” It’s been over four months. ”  he said as he tried again. ” I want you. I know I can change your mind. ”

” What I want is you out of our bedroom. ” 

” What? ” he said with shock as he stopped touching her. ” You don’t mean that! ”

” Yes I do. I don’t want to share our bed with you. ” she said. ” I told you I wasn’t ready yet. I told you I don’t want to get pregnant again yet. You can sleep in the empty bedroom upstairs, or on the couch. I don’t care, but you are not sleeping with me in this bed. ” she said firmly. ” Not until I am ready to accept you back.

Johnny got out of bed, got dressed and walked to the door. ” I don’t understand why you’re treating me like this Teresa. ” he said before walking out of the room.

” Is there a problem between you and Teresa brother? ” Scott asked a week later as the brothers unloaded spools of barbed wire

” What makes you think that? ” Johnny asked.

” You sleeping in the guest room or downstairs on the couch the last two weeks. ”

” Just having a slight disagreement brother. ” Johnny said as he wiped the sweat from his face.

” Such as? ” Scott asked.

” Such as it’s none of your business. ” Johnny said with irritation.

Scott went out on  limb. ” Are you cheating on her? Is that why you fired Juanita? ”

” I told you it’s none of your fucking business. ”

” I’m making it my business brother. You have a brand new son and a wife who loves you, and you love her. ” Scott said. ” Or did you just use her to get a son? ”

Johnny swung and hit Scott hard in the mouth. ” Don’t you ever say I used Teresa just to get a son. ” Johnny vented. ” She won’t let me touch her and kicked me out of our bed. ”

Scott spit blood out, and wiped his chin. ” Feel better? ”

Johnny removed his gloves and walked over to sit down on a bale of hay. ” I’m sorry Scott. You okay? ”

Scott walked over and sat down next to him. ” I’m fine. Why did you fire her? ”

” She came on to me the night before. She kissed me,and I got caught up in it, kissing her back. When she touched me, that’s when I realized what I was doing and stopped her. I told her she was fired, that I wanted her gone before Teresa came downstairs the next morning, and that I was going to tell her what happened. ”

” That’s not what’s really bothering you? ”

Spring was still two months away, and Johnny wanted to tell his brother what Texas Jack said, but decided not too, not yet.

” I don’t know. I think it’s everything that’s happened since I came back here with you. ”

” You having regrets? ”

” Not about you or Teresa. ”

” But you are about Murdoch? ”

” Let’s get this hay done. ” Johnny said. Shutting down the conversation.

Scott walked in the house and found his brother in the kitchen holding his son, feeding him. ” I have to go back to Boston. ”

” Boston, why? ” Johnny asked.

” My grandfather passed away. ” Scott said. ” I have to go back and settle the estate. It shouldn’t take more than a month. ”

” I’m sorry Scott. ” Teresa said.

” Take all the time you need. Just make sure you come back brother. ” Johnny said as he stood up.

” I’ll leave in the morning to catch the train in Sacramento. ” he said. ” You’re getting pretty good at that. ”

Sam stopped his buggy and got down as Johnny walked out of the barn.

” Hey Sam, come on inside. ” Johnny said as he shook the mans hand. ” What brings you here? ”

” I thought I would stop by and see how the baby and Teresa are doing. ”

” She’s in the bedroom resting. ”

” What’s wrong? ” Sam asked as he sat down at the table.

” She kicked me out of our bed last month. ” Johnny said as he sat down. ” Let me ask you something Sam, how long’s it take before a man can touch his wife again after she has a baby? ”

” The body is usually back to normal a month after, but the stomach can still be a little sore for another month. ”

” So three months after she’s healed up? ”

” Yes. John, some women they have learned suffer what is called postpartum depression. Lack of interest in romance is one of the side effects they have learned some women suffer. ”

” How long does this postpartum depression last? ”

” A month, sometimes longer. When she comes back, I’ll talk to her and see how she feels. ” Sam said as he stood up. ” You take care of yourself John. ”

” Thanks for coming by Sam. ” Johnny said as he walked outside with Sam.

Teresa came into the kitchen in her robe to find Johnny standing at the sink looking out the window at the darkness.

” You thinking about Scott? ” she asked.

” I’m thinking about us.” he said as he turned around to face her. ” Wondering if what I’ve done is going to cost me my wife and son? ”

Teresa walked over to him. ” You didn’t have to tell me what happened between you and Juanita, but you did, and for that I thank you for being honest with me. As for the other, I’ve talked to Sam and he told me I could be having postpartum depression. He said some women experience it after birth, especially first time mothers.”she said. ” I’m sorry Johnny. I didn’t know what was wrong with me until I talked to Sam. ”

” I know you don’t want to have another child so soon, and I can respect that. I should have respected that. Respected what your needs are, not just my wants. ” he said. ” Please sit down. There’s something I need to tell you. ”

” I knew somethings been bothering you. ” she said as she sat down.

” It’s why Texas Jack came here. That day he came here he told me he came here to kill me. ” Johnny said. ” He was brought here, and paid five thousand dollars to kill me. He showed me the letter a Pinkerton man delivered to him from the man who hired him…..It was Murdoch. Jack gave me until spring so I could spend time with my son before he does it. He won’t leave until the job is done or he is dead. ” he explained with a quiver in his voice and tear in his eyes. ” I always knew there would be someone faster than me come along. I just never figured he would be brought here by my own father. ”

” Is he fast? Can he beat you? ”

” Yes. ” he said as the tears ran down his cheeks. ” When I came here, I thought I could get out of the game and live a normal life. I didn’t want to be called out and kill a man just because he wanted my reputation. ”

Teresa suddenly became numb all over hearing her husband tell her this man came to kill him, and was faster than him. ” I can’t lose you. We can go away. Love somewhere else, Some place he can’t find you. ” she pleaded.

Johnny went over and got down on his knees in front of her. ” And what kind of life would that be for you and our son? ”

” I don’t care as long as I have you. ”

” I can’t run away from this Teresa…..I won’t run away from it. That’s not who I am. ”

” So you’re going to face him? ”

” Yes. ”

Teresa started shaking and crying as she wrapped her arms around him.

Johnny stood up, picking her up and holding her tight. ” I love you Teresa. You’ve gave me what I never thought I would ever have. You gave  a love, a son, and a life I always wanted. ”

” Make love to me Johnny. ”

” You sure? ”

Teresa took his hand and led him into the living room where she had a blanket spread out in front of the fireplace. ” I’m sure. ” she said as she removed her robe to show him she was totally naked underneath it.

Johnny smiled as he removed his clothes. ” What about Paul? ”

” He’s in the basket over there sleeping. ” she said.

” Guess we’ll have to be quiet. ”

Laying down on the blanket, Johnny and Teresa made slow, passionate love well into the early hours of morning on the floor in front of the fireplace.

” I’m going to go feed the horses. I’ll be right back. ” Johnny said as he kissed Teresa.

” I’ll go start breakfast. ” she said.

Johnny put his coat on and went outside. Stepping off the porch he stopped. ” No. ” he said softly.

” Hello kid. ” Jack said. ” I told you I would give you until spring. So what she give you? ”

”  A son. ” Johnny said. ” Don’t do this Jack, please. I don’t want my son growing up without his father like I did. ”

” Maybe that brother of yours can raise him up right for you? ” Jack said.

” You don’t have to do this!!! ” Johnny said as Murdoch rode up.

” Texas Jack….Don’t do this! ” Murdoch yelled. ” Hiring you was wrong, I was angry, please don’t do this! ”

” I can’t do that. When I take a job, I stay until it’s finished. ” he said. ” You paid me five thousand dollars to kill your son. ”

” I’ll pay you twenty thousand to ride away and not do this! ”

Johnny hated this. Hated not being able to focus on Jack only. What he didn’t like was Murdoch showing up. Now he had two people spread to far apart to watch.

” Time for you to die, and me to go back to Texas kid. ” Jack said as he drew and fired, his bullet hitting Johnny.

Teresa came outside just as both men fired. She watched as a red stain spread across Jacks chest.

Johnny felt the white hot, burning pain as Jack’s bullet sliced his left side as he drew and fired. Knowing Jack was dead, and he could feel the blood soaking his side.  ” Teresa. ” he said as he staggered a little. ” He got me. ”

Teresa went to his side, and looked at the wound. ” Let’s get you inside so I can tend that wound. ”

” He beat me and it cost him. ” he said.

Research Notes: Chapter 7


Chapter 8

Murdoch stood on the porch waiting for Sam to come out, when he heard a baby start to cry. Going back inside, he found his grandson being picked up by Teresa. Walking over to them he took the boys tiny hand in his. A lone tear ran down his cheek. ” I don’t know what to say. Why I…….How I could be such a fool. ” he said. ” All I can do is beg your forgiveness…..please. ”

” He’s hungry. Would you hold him while I fix his bottle? ” she asked.

” I’d like that. ”

” Forgiving you for what you have done Murdoch is up to Johnny. ” she said as she walked into the kitchen. ” He’s the one you hurt the most. ”

” I understand. ” he said as he sat down at the table. ” Can I ask where Scott is? ”

” Boston. Mister Garrett passed away. He went back there to settle the estate and won’t be back for three weeks. ” she said. ” You want you can feed him. That is if you remember how? ”

” Maria didn’t let me feed Johnny much, but I think I remember. ”

” Just keep the bottle up so he doesn’t get air. Otherwise he’ll get a tummy ache. ” she said as Sam came out. ” How is he? ”

” He’ll be fine. The furrow is deep, and will take time to heal. He just won’t be able to pick anything up for some time. It took twenty stitches to close the wound. ” Sam explained as someone knocked on the door.

Teresa opened the door to find Gabe standing there. ” Mrs. Lancer. I need to know what happened? ”

” Come in sheriff. ” she said as she stepped aside to allow him to enter. ” I was in the house, and didn’t know he was here. Johnny had just gone out to feed the stock before breakfast. I heard yelling, I’m guessing was you Murdoch, and came outside right when they both drew and fired. I didn’t even know Johnny was shot until he called for me. ”

” Murdoch, I’m surprised to find you here. ”

” I came to try and stop this Gabe. I offered to pay the man ten thousand dollars to leave, but he refused. Said he had a job to finish. ” Murdoch explained. ” He then said it was time for Johnny to die and for him to go back to Texas. ”

” You know I can arrest you for attempted murder Murdoch? You are the one who brought the man here to kill your son. ” Gabe said.

” If that’s what needs to be done. ”

” Sam? ”

” He’ll be fine. The bullet sliced a deep furrow along his ribs. I don’t think it fractured a rib. ” Sam said.

” Can I talk to him doc? ” Gabe asked.

” He’s still awake. ”

Gabe came out an hour later. ” Lancer…….I need to speak to you outside. ”

” Whatever you need to say, you can say in front of Sam and Teresa. ” Murdoch said.

” You should be arrested and sent to prison for what you’ve done. If I had my way you would be, but your son doesn’t want to press charges against you. ” Gabe said.

Johnny sat on the porch three weeks later. ” I love you. ” he said as he looked at Teresa sitting in the rocker, holding Paul.

” Can we have another? ” she asked as she stood up. ” I would really love to start working on you getting me pregnant again. That is if you can handle the job. ”

Johnny smiled. ” You know I can. I would love too have another child with you. ” he said as he stood up, walked over to her. ” Why don’t you put him down for a nap, and we can start this afternoon? ” he said as he lowered his mouth to hers and slid his tongue inside.

Teresa moaned aloud when Johnny slid his tongue in her mouth. Kissing him passionately always started a fire deep down inside her. A fire that only he could put out. ” Give me ten minutes to put him down. ” she responded when she broke the kiss off.

Johnny sat back down and started whistling until he heard a rider approaching. Sighing, he stood up and walked over to the steps. ” The only reason I don’t run you off is Teresa. She asked me to allow you a second chance, but hear me old man when I say this…..I will never forgive you for what you did to me. ” Johnny said firmly. ” You almost made my son grow up without a father. Just because I allow you to see your grandson don’t think we will be moving back to Lancer. ”

” Alright. May I get down? ”

” Of course you can. ” Teresa said from the door. ” I just put on a fresh pot of coffee. ”

” How you doing? ” Murdoch asked as he stepped up on the porch.

” I’m going to go check on Barranca. ” Johnny said before walking away.

” I don’t blame him for hating me. ” he said as he watched his youngest head to the barn. ” Who’s Barranca? ”

” A gorgeous palomino stallion he caught and broke. ” she said. ” I just put Paul down for a nap. ”

” That’s alright. Do you think he will ever forgive me? ”

” I don’t know Murdoch. You hurt him pretty bad. ” she said. ” You have said some pretty terrible things to him. Called him some pretty ugly things too. ”

” I just got so angry when the two of you became involved. I don’t know why I did. ” he said.

” I do, and if you think about it, you do too. ” she said as she poured two cups of coffee, and sat down.

” Thank you. I always did like your coffee. Okay, why? ”

” His past. When you came home without Scott, you were furious. You said there was no way your son could become a gunfighter, especially one like Johnny Madrid. You said he was nothing but a cold-blooded killer, had no manners, or proper upbringing. ” she explained. ” Murdoch, you condemned Johnny long before you even got to know him. You always kept that in the back of your mind. Your beating him that night hurt him inside more than anything. You called your own son a bastard, and then you called his son a bastard as well. ”

”It will haunt me the rest of my life. ”

” And it should. If my father was still alive, he would be shocked at how evil you were to your own son, and like Johnny, I can’t be forgiving, but I can’t remain angry either.

” Hey amigo. ” Johnny said as he walked up to Barranca. ” I don’t know what to do buddy. I wish Scott was here so I could talk to him. ”

” Talk to me about what brother? ” Scott asked from the door. When Johnny turned to face him, he knew something serious had happened.

” Is Teresa and Paul alright? ”

” They’re fine…….They’re in the house with Murdoch. ”

” Murdoch! What’s he doing here? ”

Johnny told Scott everything that happened.

” He beat me to the draw, but shot so fast, he only put a deep furrow in my left side. ”

” He dead? ”

” Shot thru the heart. ” Johnny said.

” So you hiding out here? ”

” I’m not hiding from anything Scott. ”

” Talk to me brother. ”

” I can’t forgive him for what he’s done. ”

” I can understand……and respect that. ”

” Teresa wants me to allow him to be a part of Paul’s life. ”

” Has she forgiven him? ”

” I don’t know. She said she was going to give him a piece of her mind the next time he came over. So I imagine that’s what she’s doing now. ”

” Well, I have missed my nephew, and would very much like to see him. ” Scott said. ” Brothers united? ”

” Brothers united. ” Johnny said as they waked to the house.

” You get everything handled back in Boston? ”

” I did. I put fifty thousand dollars in the ranch’s account so we can get this place built up to what you would like it to be. ”

Johnny stopped walking. ” Jesus Scott, you didn’t have to do that…..Thank you. ”

” I know I didn’t. We’re partners, and you’re welcome. ”

” Scott! ” Teresa said as she went and gave him a hug. ” I missed you, and so did Paul. ”

” I missed the three of you something awful. ” he said as he hugged her back. ” Boston has nothing for me. My home is here with my family. ”

” I’m sorry about your grandfather son. ”

” Thank you. He went in his sleep, so he didn’t suffer. Jacob said he went to checked on him later because he hadn’t come down for breakfast, and found he was gone. ” Scott said as he took Paul from Murdoch. ” There’s my favorite nephew. ”

” I believe he’s your only nephew son.” Murdoch said.

” He’ll have a little brother or sister within a year. ” Teresa said as she looked at Johnny.

” Your brother and Teresa have pretty much told me how they feel about what I have done. Would you like to as well? ”

” No. I’m pretty sure what they said is how I feel about the matter as well sir. ” Scott said. ” Whatever they decide, I will support whatever decision they make. ”

Murdoch stayed and ate supper with them that night and every Sunday after.


Johnny, Scott, and Teresa built their ranch up to be a successful horse ranch. Breaking, training and selling the finest bred horses in the San Joaquin. Teresa gave Johnny four sons and a daughter their first ten years of marriage. Scott married a beautiful woman named Susan, he knew back in Boston. Corresponding back and forth for a year, he talked her into coming to California and married a few months later. Susan gave Scott three sons and a daughter. Murdoch lived to see all nine of his grandchildren take their first steps and say their first words. It wasn’t until he passed away that Johnny and Scott decided to move back into the Lancer house a year after he passed. The brothers continued to raise cattle until the first of three terrible winters killed several hundred thousand head of cattle from Canada to Colorado. Most ranchers gave up and went back east, penniless. Those who stayed rounded up their remaining emaciated cattle, fenced off their land and grew crops to sustain their stock through winters. The brothers prospered and started selling their horses to ranchers in other states and even Mexico.

Now thirty years later, Scott rode to the top of the hill to join his brother. ” We’ve come a long way brother. ”

” Yeah we have. Thirty years ago I never would have thought I would live to be fifty two with a wife, four sons and a daughter. ” Johnny said.

” Been thru a lot together. ” Scott said. ” Some good, and some bad. ”

” The bad was just a matter of vengeance. ” Johnny said as they started down the hill to their waiting families.

Research Notes: Epilogue

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7 thoughts on “A Matter Of Vengeance by Nancy Marie

  1. Read this story very carefully. You need to sit down and have a serious discussion with your muse. Of all thing that could have happened, I never expected this. Your writing was well done as always and you managed to elicit many emotions in this reader. As always, loved the relationship between Scott and Johnny. You always seem to find a way for Johnny to forgive Murdoch his transgressions and allow him back into this life, usually one he has built with Teresa. Would like to see how you would handle one where he doesn’t. A straw that broke the camel’s back, if you will. I actually thought that was going to happen here after he hired Texas Jack. If you ask me, Murdoch has more sins to atone for than Johnny Madrid Lancer ever could.


    1. Straw that broke the camels back between Johnny and Murdoch will happen in next story I just started writing this morning Ann. I will fight my muse on writing another story anything like this one. I would rather torture Johnny than do what I did to him, but my muse wouldn’t leave me alone. He wanted me to have Johnny cheat on Teresa with Juanita, I wrote it several times and removed it. I said I am not having Johnny do that to her, period. Scott and Johnny have a bond that nothing will be able to break. They may have squabbles, brothers do, but they will always have each others back.


  2. Although I’m not a Scott/Teresa or a Johnny/Teresa person, this was really, really good. Murdoch sank really low trying to have his own son killed. I’m glad that Scott accepted Johnny as his brother and fought for Johnny! I could never forgive Murdoch like Johnny has. You have a way of making the reader feel everyone’s emotions! Great job, can’t wait for your next story,


    1. Thank you Judy. Next story Johnny isn’t going to be so forgiving to Murdoch. What he does will break the family apart in the worst way possible. I strive to put the emotions in there because I want the reader to feel them. Sometimes I cry when writing a scene and it takes a while to get it wrote. I want the reader to feel like they are right there with the characters like I do when writing. A famous western writer named Louis L’Amour did when I read his Sackett series.


  3. Nancy, you did a good job with this story. Although there are those who frown on a Johnny/Teresa relationship, they are closer in age, so, to me, it makes a little sense

    Though you used some dialogue from the pilot, you took a far distant road in this story. Your story took us on a wild ride, but a very fascinating one. It is good to see Johnny forgive Murdoch and to know the Lancer clan grow — starting with a boy.

    Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

    Paula R


  4. Well written story Nancy. I do like the way you’re able to tap intothrdepth of emotion in achcharscter plus I think Johnny & Teresa make a good couple. Well done can’t wait for the next one.


  5. Really great read. The way you use the characters in this story was masterful. I hate what Johnny went through and all, but I’m so grateful for the ending in the epilog that you gave him. He deserves to have a good life. Thanks for sharing your talent and keeping Lancer land alive. JML always ♥️


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