I don’t own them, and no money is being made from this. I am just taking the Lancer men, Johnny mainly out for some fun, with a little pain along the way. Any and all characters from the show Lancer belong to their rightful owners. Any other characters not from the show are mine, and may not be used without my permission.
This story will be rated R for possible cursing, adult content, and torture. Warnings will be in place for those scenes.
Those who don’t like Johnny, and Teresa together I’m sorry to disappoint you, but they are together in this story. She * was not * related to them at all, and she * was not * their sister. Therefore I like putting them together in some of my stories.
This one is a little different for me to write. Scott has been at Lancer three years, and Johnny has been at Lancer two years when his past comes back, and it cost him more than he could ever imagine. The age difference is the age they are when Johnny is sent to San Quentin prison for five years, and the older age is when Johnny comes home.
Murdoch Lancer – 50 / 55 years old
Scott Lancer – 22 / 27 years old
Johnny Madrid Lancer – 19 / 24 years old
Teresa O’Brian – 17 / 22 years old
Cliff Baker – gunfighter
Josh Baker – brother
Allen Miller – gunfighter
Dan Martinez – gunfighter
Jess Harris – gunfighter
Johnny stood outside the main entrance of San Quentin prison as guard Jasper Morgan removed his shackles. Five years, and six months he’d been in this place. Five years, and six months of filth, bad food, and hard labor. The last six months the warden added on because of a fight that broke out in the yard. Even though he didn’t start it, Johnny was punished the hardest. Two weeks in the infirmary, four days in the sweat box, then two weeks locked away in a cell with only bread to eat, and dirty water to drink. Once returned to his regular cell, the warden felt he hadn’t learned his lesson well enough, so he had him put in a solitary confinement cell he had built out in the hog pens. The stench overwhelming day, and night. To keep from losing his mind, he would let his mind wander back to his past. Sometimes as a child in Mexico, other times at Lancer. The tragic day that brought him to San Quentin, a day forever burned into his mind would wake him up at night in a cold sweat, gasping for air, and trembling.
“Madrid, for what it’s worth, I never wanted to do the things the warden made me do to you those last six months.” Jasper said.
Johnny looked at the man. Jasper Morgan, and Owen Cooper, two guards treated him good. Giving him food when the warden was busy. Sometimes just an apple, or slice of bread.
“I know. I’m grateful to you and Owen.” Johnny said.
“Listen, I know you don’t have any money.” Jasper said as he reached into his pocket, and pulled out some bills. “It ain’t much, but it’ll get you cleaned up, and stage fair to wherever you’re headed.”
“I can’t take that.” Johnny said.
“Please, me and Owen want you to have it.” he said as he put the money in his hand. “ And for what it’s worth. Those dime store novels got it all wrong about you. Johnny Madrid ain’t no cold-blooded killer. What you did, any man would have done if in your situation.”
“ That’s enough chitchat Jasper.” Warden Emmett Parker said.
“You take care of yourself Johnny.” Jasper said before walking back inside the prison.
“In case you’re wondering why nobody is here to pick you up, I told them you had an extra year added to you sentencing. I’ll see you again, Madrid. Your kind always do come back.” the warden said before turning, and going back inside.
“Not if I can help it you won’t.” Johnny said before he started walking away.
Scott rode into the yard, dismounted, and handed his horse off to a hand before heading inside the house.
“We have everything ready for the drive.” he said as he walked over, and poured a shot of whiskey.
“You got all the supplies loaded in the wagons?” Murdoch asked.
“Yes sir.” he responded before downing the shot. “Who we going to have as a cook on this drive?”
“Cipriano’ cousin Miguel is going to be he cook.” Murdoch said.
“You think we should have Teresa stay at the Conway ranch while we are gone?” he asked.
“I asked her too, but she is still adamant about staying here alone. Aggie said she would come over and check on her.” Murdoch said.
“I will be fine Scott Lancer. I’m almost twenty two years old. I’m not a child anymore.” Teresa said. “Besides, you will only be gone two weeks.”
“You know, you have your fathers stubbornness young lady.” Murdoch said as he stood up.
“Murdoch, can we have a celebration when Johnny comes home?” she asked.
“Teresa, I highly doubt Johnny will want a party.” Scott said. “He probably won’t even come back to Lancer.”
“Scott Lancer, that’s a terrible thing to say. This is his home. Where else would he go?” she said, and asked.
“Back to his old way of life comes to mind. I’m going to go clean up for supper.” Scott said before walking away.
“Why is he being like that about Johnny?” she asked.
“He was hurt pretty bad when Johnny was sentenced to five years, and then to learn he had another year added for killing an inmate.” Murdoch responded.
“It wasn’t his fault. He was defending himself. That judge sent him to prison because of his past as a gunfighter.” she said.
“I know that, and so does Scott, but the fact still remains, if he hadn’t been called out, it never would have happened.” Murdoch said. “If he comes back, and wants it, you can have a party.”
“Will you welcome him home, or be cold, and distant to him?” Teresa asked.
“He’s my son, and still a part owner in this ranch. I told him the last time I seen him, Lancer would always be his home, and to come home to us.” Murdoch said. “There’s something you need to know sweetheart. Johnny may not be the same when he gets out. Prison can change a man. I’ve seen it make a man bitter, and full of hate. It’s not good inside. San Quentin is a harsh prison to serve five years in.”
“Not Johnny. I know he would never hurt me, and I know he will be fine.” she responded.
“I hope you’re right sweetheart. I hope you’re right.” Murdoch said as he walked over to look out the window. “ I remember the first time I seen him. I told him he has his mother’s temper. That’s a hell of a first thing to say to a son I haven’t seen in seventeen years.”
“But look how far the two of you have come. Johnny settled in, and Lancer is his home. He doesn’t want to go back to being Johnny Madrid.” she said.
Johnny walked into town, and stopped at the stage station, buying a ticket to Stockton. Having decided to leave his hair uncut, and the beard so he wouldn’t be recognized, and having an hour before the stage left, he decided to buy a meal of real food. Watching the waitress walk around taking orders, and serving meals made him realize how long it had been since he had a woman, any woman. In prison he was spared what happened to some inmates because everyone knew who he was, and nobody wanted to mess with him.
Two hours later as the stage bounded down the road headed to Stockton, Johnny found himself thinking about Teresa, and how he missed her. The day before he was sent away, she had come to see him, and told him she would wait for him, but five years, and six months is a long time to wait. Did she love him enough, or was she now engaged to, or married to some neighboring rancher’s son, Johnny wondered what she looked like now. When he left, he wanted so badly to take her in his arms, and kiss her one last time. A jolt from the stage brought him back to reality, and he realized he was starting to feel a little uncomfortable. Sitting across from him sat a well dressed woman. Her perfume reminding him of spring. Next to him sat another woman big enough to almost take up the whole seat.
“ Have you no decency mister?” she demanded.
“ Ma’am.” Johnny said without looking up.
“ Have you no consideration for the other people riding this stage, and having to smell you?” she demanded as she held her kerchief to her nose.
“ I do.” Johnny said as he raised his head, and smiled at the woman across from him. “ I’m sorry I’m offending you ma’am, both of you. I only had enough money for fare to Stockton. You see San Quentin don’t care what you look like when you get released.”
The woman across from him noticed the intense blue eyes, and found herself wondering what he would look like clean shaven, and shorter hair.
“ You should have been made to ride on the back, or up top with the luggage. You saddle tramps are all alike.” she said snidely.
“ You can come sit next to me if you wish. I’m not so quick to judge another like she is.” the woman said.
Johnny moved over next to her. You sure about this ma’am?” he asked.
“ Of course I’m sure. My name is Miss Amelia Baker, Mister?”
“ Johnny ma’am, just Johnny.” he responded.
“ Do you have family in Stockton Johnny?” she asked.
“ Nope. It’s as far as I could afford to go. I’ll walk the rest of the way.” Johnny said.
“ If you don’t mind my asking, where are you going?”
“ Morro Coyo. It’s about thirty miles south of Stockton.” he said. ‘ You from California?”
“ No. I came out here from Philadelphia to settle my brothers affairs.” Amelia said. I thought I would see some of the west before I head back.”
“ If you don’t mind my saying ma’am….”
“ Amelia please. Ma’am makes me feel old.” she cut in, and said.
“ Amelia. It’s not safe for a beautiful lady to travel alone out here.” Johnny said.
“ My mother said the same thing before I left.” she responded.
“ We will be back in two weeks.” Murdoch said as he hugged Teresa. “ Are you sure you want to stay here?”
“Yes. I’ll be fine.” Teresa said. “ Frank is here, so stop worrying.”
“ You’re too much like your father.” he said as he mounted his horse.
“ You mean stubborn like you are don’t you?” she asked.
“ You have to admit, she is a lot like you sir.” Scott said as he walked over to give her a hug. “ I’ll miss your cooking.”
“ Just my cooking Scott Lancer?” she asked.
“ And you.” he said as he hugged her. “ See you in two weeks.”
Teresa watched them disappear over the hill before heading back inside, too the kitchen to clean up from breakfast. Maria every year went to stay with her sister and her family. Cleaning up the dishes, Teresa found herself thinking about Johnny, and what Murdoch said about how being in prison can change a person. Ever since she had met him that first time, she marveled at how independent he was. Only two years older than her, she found herself wondering what it would be like to have a man like Johnny for a husband. Murdoch had ordered his sons to think of her like a sister, and that’s what they did, but before that tragic day, she felt Johnny started looking at her in a different way. Whenever he came up behind her, and wrapped his arms around her, she found herself feeling differently. A week before the trouble he came up behind her, his arms brushing down her breast, and she found her stomach doing a flop as he hugged her.
“ You’re going to make someone very lucky some day Querida.” he told her. Then he started giving her a rose every morning from the garden. Telling her she was as beautiful as a sunrise over the San Bonito mountains.
The last week Johnny was at the ranch, they stole time together in the garden talking about nothing in particular. Just enjoying the time they could spend together. She knew by how he looked at her, he was wanting something more from her. Then came the day she found out how he really felt about her. Murdoch had gone over to the Conway ranch for his weekly supper with Aggie, and Scott wasn’t back yet from fixing the north line-shack roof. She had been cutting roses in the garden, when he walked up behind her, turned her around, and put his right hand under her chin.
“ I’ve wanted to do this for a long time.” Johnny said before bringing his lips down to gently touch hers. “ I thought about doing that to you all day.” he said as he wrapped his arms around her, and pulled her to him closer.
“ I’ve wanted you to kiss me for a long time Johnny.” Teresa said.
That was the first of many forbidden kisses they shared together. Now at twenty two, she was old enough to decide for herself, and be with anyone she so wished to be with, and the only one she wanted to be with was taken away from her over five years ago.
“ Will you still want me like I want you Johnny?” she said aloud as she headed upstairs, and opened the door to his bedroom. Walking over to his bed, Teresa lay down like she had so many other times, and let the tears flow.
Johnny stepped off the stage, and offered his hand to help Amelia down. The other lady had rudely slapped his hand away when he offered her help.
“ So this is Stockton?’ she asked.
“ Yes ma’am. I mean Amelia.” Johnny said.
“ Johnny, would you let me pay for a room, and hot bath for you? It’s the least I can do.” Amelia said.
“ I didn’t do anything ma’am.” he said.
“ Oh but you did. That would have been such a boring ride had you not joined us. I tried talking to her from San Francisco, but she would have none of it.”
“ I find it hard to refuse such a beautiful lady, but only if you let me pay you back.” he said.
“ I think that can be arranged.” Amelia said as they walked to the hotel.
“ Yes ma’am, can I help you?” the hotel clerk asked.
“ Yes we would like a room with a private bath please.” Amelia said.
“ Yes ma’am. Room twenty seven at the end of the hall. I’ll get someone to draw a bath right away.”
Amelia paid for the room, and walked upstairs with Johnny. Once in the room, she walked over, and pulled the blinds.
Johnny looked around the room. The water closet room was at the back. In the one corner was a nice plush bed with a nightstand on each side. A table with two chairs placed over by the windows, and it reminded him of his bedroom back at Lancer.
Amelia could see Johnny was lost in thought. Walking over to him, she placed her hands on his chest, and ran them up around his neck. “ You having second thoughts?” she asked as she brought her mouth closer to his.
“ No.” Johnny said softly as he started to lower his mouth to hers when someone knocked on the door. “ Lousy timing.” he said as Amelia went to answer the door.
Two hours later, Amelia stood looking at the man standing in front of her with just a towel wrapped around his waist.
“ You want to eat first?” she asked as she walked over to him.
“ Later.” Johnny said as he pulled her to him, and claimed her mouth with over five years of hunger.
“ Who’s Teresa?” she asked as they ate breakfast the next morning. “ The only reason I ask is you said her name last night, and again this morning making love to me.” she said. “ Is she a girl at home waiting for you?”
“ She was, but I doubt she would still want me now after spending five years in a prison.”
“ You loved her, and she loved you?” she asked.
Johnny nodded. As he pushed his plate away.
“ I have an idea. Why don’t we get a couple horses, and ride to Morro Coyo. I can have my luggage sent on. It would give me a rest from that rough stage.” Amelia suggested.
“ It would mean sleeping out under the stars. Can you handle that?’ Johnny asked.
“ Not that we would be sleeping much, but I can handle it.” she said.
“ She rode out of Stockton with Madrid late afternoon.” Allen Miller said.
“ How can you remain so calm knowing Madrid was with your wife last night Cliff?” Dan Martinez asked.
“ Yeah, I thought she was supposed to just get him off the stage, not fuck the guy?” Jess asked.
“ That’s what she was supposed to do, get that half-breed sonofabitch alone. I’ll deal with her letting him fuck her, and when I’m done, she’ll never think about being with anyone else again.” Cliff said.
“ How you plan on making him pay for killing your little brother?” Dan Martinez asked.
“ With lead.” Cliff said with coldness.
“ Cliff, I know Madrid killed your brother, and I’m sorry for that, but Josh was drunk, and called Madrid out. I tried to stop him, but you know how your brother as when he got drunk.” Jess Harris said. “ Besides, Madrid was sent to prison for five years.”
Cliff walked over to Jess, and grabbed him by his shirt. “ Madrid wasn’t sent to prison for killing my brother. He was sent for killing that woman. There ain’t no amount of time that bastard can serve for taking my little brother away from me. If you don’t have the stomach for this, then ride out now.”
“ Take it easy Cliff. I was just wanting to make sure you’re sure about doing this. I’ve rode with you ten years. I watched Josh grow up. He was like a little brother to me, to all of us.” Jess said.
“ The sun will be setting in about an hour. We can make camp here.” Johnny said as he dismounted. “ I’ll take care of the horses, and then get a fire going.”
“ I’ll gather some wood up.” Amelia said before walking off.
Johnny striped the saddles off Amelia’s horse, pulled some long grass, and rubbed her down good. His mind started wondering if his brother would accept him back. The closer he got to home, the more questions would run through his mind. He watched as Amelia came back with an armful of wood, and set about starting a fire. He couldn’t help but wonder how a woman who grew up in Philadelphia could ride a horse so well, and knew so much about the west. Just something in the back of his mind kept telling him Amelia Baker wasn’t the proper woman she claimed to be. Something was screaming at him to not unsaddle his horse.
Walking over to the now glowing fire, Johnny sat down, and looked across the flames at her. “ I thought you said you grew up in Philadelphia?” he asked.
“ I did. Why?” she asked.
“ It’s just I’ve never met a proper lady who knew so much about camping out, and such.” Johnny said. “ Then there’s the name, it didn’t register with me at first. You said you had to go to San Francisco to handle personal affairs of your brother, and decided to travel around the west, alone. No proper lady would do that without an escort.” he said.
Amelia stood up. “ Well, now you have. My father brought me up to take care of myself.”
Johnny walked around the fire, and grabbed her by her arms. “ Your last name, Baker. I knew a Josh Baker, just over six years ago he called me out in Spanish Wells. Who was he Amelia, your brother, or husband? Is that why you became so friendly with me?” Johnny demanded.
“ Let go of me.” she ordered.
“ Answer me!” he yelled.
“ No, he wasn’t my brother, or husband. I’m married to his brother Cliff.” she spat.
“ You set me up for him didn’t you? That’s why you wanted to ride to Morro Coyo instead of take the stage?” he demanded. “How many are there?…….Tell me!” he said as he shook her.
“ My husband, and three other men!” she said as she tried to get away from him.
“ Who?” he demanded.
“ Allen Miller, Dan Martinez, and Jess Harris. He’ll kill you, and won’t stop until he does. Josh was his only brother you bastard!” Amelia spat.
Johnny shoved her to the ground. “ Others have tried.” he said before he turned and went to his horse. Swinging up in the saddle he turned, and looked at Amelia pointing a pistol right at him.
“ Where the hell is Madrid?” Cliff demanded.
“ Gone. He figured it out, and left.” Amelia said as she stood up.
“ Figured it out………how?” he demanded.
“ Where the hell were you Cliff? I had him here for you to kill.” she asked.
“ I thought I would let you fuck that half-breed one last time before we came in.” Cliff said snidely. “ I mean, you seemed to enjoy it last night.”
Amelia slapped her husband hard across the face, and wasn’t expecting him to hit her back. “ You bastard!” she spat. “ I did what I did for you. I had to do something to keep him from leaving!”
“ My orders were to get Madrid off that stage. I don’t recall saying anything about you sleeping with him.” Cliff spat. “ Now tell me how he figured it out!”
“ My last name alright.” she spat.
“ How the hell we going to find him now Cliff?” Dan asked.
“ There’s blood on this branch. She must have hit him.” Dan said.
Johnny stopped his horse on top of the hill. Looking down, he could make out the house in the blackness of night. Lamps turned down low, shined in the grand room windows, and a couple rooms upstairs.
Walking his horse up to the house, he dismounted, and walked to the front door of the house, and opened it. Stepping inside, he closed the door, and heard the unmistakable sound of a pistol being cocked.
“ Who are you, and what do you want?” Teresa demanded from the top of the stairs.
“ To not be shot again” Johnny said as he looked to the top of the stairs. The lamp on her left cast enough light, he could see thru the white nightgown she was wearing. “ Querida.”
Teresa stood staring at the man standing at the bottom of the stairs with shoulder length black hair, and a beard. Picking up the lamp, she walked down the stairs, and stopped in front of him. Looking into his blue eyes, she knew without a doubt it was him.
“ Johnny.” she said softly.
“ I need your help.” Johnny said as he staggered toward her.
Teresa put her right arm around him, and felt a sticky moisture on it. Looking at her hand covered in blood. “ You’ve been shot. Can you make it upstairs?” she asked.
“ I can make it.” he said.
“ Does he know about us?’ Cliff asked Amelia.
“ Yes! I told you last night he figured it out.” she said.
“ The only way he would figure it out is if you screwed up.” Cliff said.
“ Maybe she told him while he was poking her?” Dan asked.
“ Shut up!” Amelia yelled.
Cliff backhanded her hard. “ When this is all over, if you’re still alive, what I did to you last night will be nothing compared to what I will do to you in front of Madrid. I might even let the boys have you for some fun.” he said with coldness.
“ You bastard. I should have never married you.” Amelia spat as blood trickled down her chin. Her right eye almost swollen shut. Bruises were starting to show on her cheeks, and upper arms. Last night, Cliff showed just how brutal he could be with a woman when he raped her. Something she never thought her husband would do to her. Married six years, he had always been kind, and loving to her. That was until his little brother was killed. When he learned Madrid would be released finally, he became obsessed with revenging Josh’s death. Now the thought of Allen, Dan, and Jess touching her made her sick inside. Making love with Madrid made her feel alive, alive, and wanting more, more of what she hadn’t had in a long time. Feeling him enter her, and move inside her as his hands touched her body everywhere they could drove her crazy. Kissing him was like nothing she had ever experienced before. Deep down inside she had hoped she could make love to him one last time. She didn’t fault him for being angry at her, how could she after using him like she had.
“ Sam, will he be alright?” Teresa asked with tears in her eyes.
“ He’s lost a lot of blood., and the bullet was deep.” Sam said. “ How on earth did he get here? Murdoch said he got a letter six months ago saying he had another year put on his sentence.”
“ I don’t know. I barely got him up here when he passed out.” she said.
“ When is Murdoch due back?” Sam asked.
“ Three days.” she said as she wiped a cool cloth over his face, and on his chest were bandages weren’t wrapped.
“ It hasn’t been easy for him in that place. He has fresh scars.” Sam said. “ It hardly looks like him with that beard, and long hair.”
“ I didn’t know until I looked into his eyes.” she said. “ He was standing at the bottom of the stairs. When I stepped down closer, his left arm was just hanging at his side. I didn’t know he’d been shot until I touched his back.”
“ You thinking about Teresa sir?” Scott asked.
“ I am. I’ve noticed how she has refused gentlemen callers ever since……..” Murdoch said.
“ Ever since what sir?” he asked.
“ Ever since Johnny left. They were pretty close, and……….”
“ I noticed how Johnny would look at her, and smile at her in the mornings. He was staring right at her when he got in the prison wagon.” Scott cut in. “ He’s all wrong for her sir. Johnny is wild, and dangerous. He gets people killed. Innocent people, he’s proved that.” Scott said.
“ I will not have you speaking badly of your brother. He was sent away for five years for what happened. You were there, you seen what happened. Why are you so angry at him for it?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Because he killed an innocent woman!” Scott spat with anger.
“ I can understand your anger son, but being angry with your brother isn’t going to help the matter any when he comes home.” Murdoch said.
“ So you can just welcome him back home as if nothing ever happened?” he asked.
“ Yes, he’s my son, and your brother.” Murdoch responded with irritation. “ He paid for killing that innocent woman by doing five years.”
“ I don’t believe I can sir. If he comes back to Lancer, don’t expect me to welcome him back.” Scott said.
“ So because of something that was not your brothers fault, you are willing to throw away everything the two of you had?” he asked.
“ So your brother is a condemned man in your eyes, and it doesn’t matter he’s paid the price in more ways than one for what happened. I would think you of all people would be forgiving. I’m sure you have done things during the war your brother would forgive you for doing.” Murdoch responded.
“ Fighting in the war is not the same thing as what he did sir.”
“ Isn’t it? Your brother fights a war every time someone calls him out. You killed men to stay alive, and that is what your brother does also every time he is called out.”
“ It’s not the same.” Scott snapped back. “ Would you approve of them together?”
“ Who, Johnny, and Teresa? She’s no longer my ward. Why do you keep asking me this son?”
“ Because I seen them together. Before……I seen them in the rose garden kissing.” he said.
“Teresa is all grown up now. She is no longer my ward, and old enough to make her own decisions. If her and Johnny do have something, I would have no problem with it, and you shouldn’t either.” Murdoch said firmly. “ We head home in three days. I suggest you do some serious thinking son.”
“ I have been, and I know he will never be good for her.” Scott said before walking away.
For five years Teresa wondered what would have been between them. As she got older, her mind started to wonder what it would be like to feel Johnny touching her naked body. To have him make her his. Many time she had sat in the rose garden, and wondered if he would feel the same way about her when he came home. She even dreamed about the day her stomach would swell up from their child. She had heard from other girls how it was like when a man and woman became one. How he would make her a woman, and make her his once he made love to her. Her friend Caroline had told how it made her body feel in a way she couldn’t explain. How her stomach did flops when he started touching forbidden places, how there was a quick sharp pain, and some discomfort, but after a few times, her body accepted them coming together with ease.
Teresa woke with a start, and immediately looked at the man laying in bed. Numerous times she had had dreams of them making love. Dreams of her and Johnny romantically together. Dreams that seemed so real she had a hard time realizing they were just dreams sometimes. Standing up, she walked over, and sat down on the bed, and gently pushed the hair from his face.“ Johnny.” she said softly “ Please don’t die.” she said softly as she ran the back of her hand over the beard he had.
Murdoch, and Scott rode into the yard, and dismounted. “ Frank, why the guards?”
“ Welcome home sir. I think Miss Teresa should tell you that.” Frank said as he took their horses.
Murdoch, and Scott hurried into the house. “ Teresa!”
“ Murdoch, I’m so glad you’re home.” she said as she came down the stairs, and wrapped her arms around him.
“ What’s going on? Why the guards?” he asked as he hugged her.
“ Johnny.” she sobbed.
“ Johnny?” he said.
“ Johnny’s in prison.” Scott said.
“ No he’s not Scott. He’s upstairs. He’s been shot.” she said as they headed upstairs.” He showed up here three nights ago with a bullet in his back. Sam dug it out, but he lost a lot of blood, and it was deep.”
“ Shot by who?” Scott demanded as they walked into the room.
“ I don’t know. He passed out before I could find out. He’s been unconscious ever since.” she said.
Murdoch looked down at his youngest son. “ It doesn’t even look like him with the beard, and long hair.” he said as he sat down in the chair next to the bed.
“ When is it going to stop?” Scott demanded.
“ Scott! Now is not the time.” Murdoch said.
“ Not the time sir. He shows up here shot in the back, putting Teresa’s life in danger, and you say now is not the time.” Scott snapped back.
“ Yes damn it! Now is not the time.” Murdoch responded with anger. “ When will Sam be back out?”
“ This evening.” she said as she looked at Scott. “ Why are you angry at Johnny?”
“ Why is pretty obvious Teresa. Ever since he came here over six years ago, he’s put this family in danger.” Scott responded.
“ You listen to me Scott Lancer, that is your brother laying there fighting for his life. He has done nothing but try to live a normal life as Murdoch’s son, your brother. It’s not his fault what happened that day.” Teresa snapped.
“ I’m not going to argue with you, either of you over this matter, but he wanted to live a normal life, he should have never started living his life by a gun.” Scott said before turning, and walking out.
“ Murdoch, welcome home.” Sam said as he walked into the bedroom, and found the Lancer patriarch sitting next to the bed. “ When did you get back?”
“ Sam, this morning.” he said as he stood up to let Sam next to his son. “ I didn’t expect to come home to find my son here.”
“ I must say, it was a shock for Teresa too when he walked in the house. She almost shot him.” Sam explained.
“ How bad is he?” Murdoch asked as he went to the end of the bed to watch.
“ The bullet was deep in his back. Given he doesn’t get an infection, and his fever stays down, he’ll recover.” Sam said.
Cliff, Allen, Dan, and Jess sat in the saloon in Green River drinking when they heard a conversation that peaked their interest. A man stood at the bar talking to the bartender Mac.
“ I tell ya, he showed up in the middle of the night damn near dead. Someone put a bullet in his back.” Walt said.
“ How’s Murdoch Lancer taking it?” Mac asked.
“ It was a shock to find his son out of prison, and home. Doc says he’ll be okay with time.” Walt said. “But get this, Scott is angry he came back. He won’t go up there and see him or nothing.”
“ Those two used to be so close. You know, I never did believe Johnny killed that girl.” Mac said.
“ How ya figure? They found him guilty.” Walt asked.
“ Yeah sure they found him guilty. But I think they used him because of his past.” Mac said.
“ You mean as Johnny Madrid. Hell he came home to his family and hadn’t been a gunfighter for a couple years.” Walt said.
“ You know, I seen him as Madrid once, and it just don’t make any sense. He hit with deadly accuracy whatever he was shooting at. It just don’t figure him killing that innocent girl that day.” Mac said. “ I seen him try to talk that kid out of it, but being drunk like that kid was, he wouldn’t listen. Johnny even tried talking him out of it when they went out into the street. That kid was looking for a fight, and he found it with the wrong person. Madrid put two bullets in him so fast, that kid never got his hand to is gun.”
“ Well, I better get on back. I’ll see ya Mac.” Walt said.
“ Now we know where he’s at.” Dan said.
“ Jess, you were with him that day. Is what the bartender says true?” Allen asked.
“ I told you, Josh was drunk. There was no stopping him.” Jess said.
“ How we gonna get to him now Cliff? Lancer is the biggest ranch in the valley.” Dan asked.
“ Bait.” Cliff said.
“ Bait. What bait?” Dan asked.
“ You heard them, Madrid has a brother.” Cliff said as he stood up. “ We use him to bring Madrid out.”
Murdoch stood outside in the hall listening to Teresa talk to Johnny. How she told him she kept her promise, and waited for him to come back to her. How she wanted to kiss him again like he did that day in the rose garden when he came up behind her, and caught her off guard. How she wanted to feel alive again inside when he touched her the way he did. It took every ounce of his every being to not walk into the room, and confront her. Turning, he walked back downstairs, and over to his desk. Sitting down he let his mind wander back to that day in Spanish Wells. Thy had all seen it happen. Him with Teresa just coming out of the bank, while Scott, and Johnny finished with loading the wagon, went into the saloon for a quick cold beer. Every person on the street that day in Spanish Wells seen it. Never before had he seen his son draw, and fire so fast. Two bullets that almost sounded as one hit the Baker boy, Hitting him in the chest, dead center, knocking him backwards a good ten feet, dead before he hit the ground. Nobody even seen the girl get shot until her mother screamed for help. The towns people immediately went after Johnny, wanting to lynch him right there on the spot. Val Crawford, the sheriff of Spanish Wells at that time, stopped them with a scatter gun. After the trial, and he put his friend of many years in the tumbleweed wagon, Val turned in his badge, and rode out of Spanish Wells headed back to Mexico. Several times he wanted to tell Johnny in a letter, but every time he couldn’t. The reason being, he felt his son would need to stay strong to survive inside, and not worry about his friend, or family. Every letter he wrote to his son, he would tell him about the ranch, never mentioning the holidays though. Without him there, Thanksgiving, and especially Christmas were hard on him and Teresa. Exhausted from the drive, and not getting much sleep as he watched over his son, Murdoch sat back in his big leather chair, and closed his eyes, just to rest them a few minutes.
“ Are you alright sir?” Scott asked.
“ I’m fine son. I was just remembering.” Murdoch responded as he looked around. “ You rode off early this morning. Would you care to tell me where you went?”
“ We have a dead steer.” Scott said as he walked over to pour a drink. “ Looks to be a big female with at least one kitten feeding with her on it. Frank found the carcass this afternoon.”
“ Any idea when it was killed?” he asked.
“ Within the last few days. He said the carcass is half gone, but the tracks show she’s been coming back every night to feed on it. Frank, and Walt will sit on it tonight, and kill them if they show up.” Scott said before downing his shot.
“ That’s good son.” Murdoch said as he stood up, and walked over to pour a drink. “ You didn’t answer my question. Where did you go this morning?”
“ Frank said Johnny rode a horse from Stockton to here. So I went to Stockton, to do some checking, and found out a woman bought that horse, and another the day before he came back here.” Scott said. “ The livery man said they were real friendly with each other too.”
“ Your brother has done nothing wrong. Why are you being like this son?” Murdoch demanded.
“ I just find it a little odd he meets up with a woman on the stage, and lets her buy him a horse to come here when the stage comes to Morro Coyo.” Scott responded.
“ Let it be son. Your brother will tell us when he is awake, and strong enough.” his father ordered.
“ I thought you would say that.” Scott responded as he headed to the door. “ You might be interested to know the woman’s name was Amelia Baker. As in Josh Baker, the kid Johnny killed.” he said before walking out.
Murdoch stood there a few seconds, and then hurried outside. “ Are you sure of this?” he asked.
Scott reached into his pocket, pulled out the bill of sale for the horses, and handed it to his father. ‘ It doesn’t excuse his killing that innocent girl, but whoever shot him, I believe it has something to do with that day. She’s either a sister, or sister-in-law being used to set Johnny up to possibly be killed by another family member. The man said they came in on the stage together, and she offered him a room, and hot bath after she bought the horses. He said they rode out late afternoon the following day headed to Morro Coyo.”
“Son, thank you.” Murdoch said.
“ I can’t guarantee me and Johnny will ever be like we were before all this happened, but until we know what, or who shot him in the back.” he said as he mounted up, and rode away.
“ At least there is hope for the two of you.” Murdoch said softly as he turned and went back inside. Looking to the top of the stairs, he decided it was time him and Teresa had a talk.
“ Teresa, would you come down here please.” he called out.
“ Yes Murdoch.” she said from the top of the stairs.
“ Come down here young lady. We need to have a talk.” he said before heading back into the grand room.
Teresa walked downstairs, the palm of her hands starting to sweat with nervousness as she walked into the grand room.
“ Have a seat young lady.” Murdoch said.
“ Is something wrong?” she asked as she sat down in the blue chair she always sat in to do her sewing, and needlepoint.
“ You know you are no longer my ward?” he asked.
“ Yes. When I turned twenty one.” she said.
“ You are now twenty two, and have grown up to be a fine young lady. Without a mother around as you grew up, I did the best I could to raise you up proper so you would make someone a fine wife some day. I’m going to ask you a question, and I want you to think real hard before you answer, and when you answer, I would like you to be truthful with me.”
“ Murdoch, you have been like a mother, and father too me.” she said.
“ Do you have feelings for Johnny?” he asked.
Teresa closed her eyes, and sat back in her chair. “ How did you know?” she asked with a quiver in her voice.
“ I heard you talking to Johnny earlier. Talking about what the two of you did before he went away.” He said. “ Did he dishonor you back then?”
“ No. I wanted him to, but he wouldn’t. He said we had all the time in the world, and then he was sent away. I told him the day before he left that I would wait for him, and I have. Murdoch, I love Johnny, and I know he loves me.”
“ There is just one problem. Teresa, John was locked up for over five years. That’s a long time for a man to go without a woman. Now I don’t know if you understand what I am trying to tell you or not. I’m trying to be as delicate as I can about this. Let me just say this, I will not permit the two of you too share a bed in this house until you are married. Is that understood?” he explained, and asked.
“ Yes sir.” Teresa said.
Johnny opened his eyes, and blinked several times. He was laying on his right side, and someone was touching him, holding his right hand, and crying. Moving his head, he could tell who it was. “ Teresa.” he said barely above a whisper.
Teresa raised her head, and looked into the blue eyes she fell in love with finally looking back at her. “ Johnny.”
“ Hey.” he said softly.
“ Here, let me get you some water.” she said as she poured some in a glass, and held his head up so he could drink.
“ Thanks.” he said as he looked around the room. “ Why are you crying?”
“ I was so scared I would lose you.” she said as she put her head down on his chest.
Johnny placed his right hand on her head, and caressed her hair. “ You shed tears for me?”
“ You have been unconscious nine days Johnny.” she responded.
“ Nine days.” he said as he rolled onto his back, and found he couldn’t move his left arm at all. Looking at it, he found it was bound to his chest.
“ Let me help you sit up, and I’ll put some pillows behind you.” she said.
“ Well, I see our patient has finally woke up.” Sam said as he walked into the room. “ How do you feel John?”
“ I’m alright doc. Was just taking a nap.” he responded as Teresa propped pillows behind his back.
“ Well, you gave us all quite a scare young man. Teresa, let me in there so I can check the wound.” Sam said.
Teresa went around the bed, and sat down next to Johnny, on his left.
Johnny noticed movement to his right, and turned to see his father standing in the door. A lump came to his throat, and tears welled up in his eyes as he looked at the big man standing there. Clearing his throat the best he could, he spoke. “ Bet you were surprised to see me again?” he asked.
Murdoch walked into the room, and stopped at the end of the bed.
“ You got something to say old man?” Johnny asked.
Murdoch smiled. He had waited so long to hear his youngest call him an old man again. “ I thought I would never hear you say that to me again son.” he said finally.
“ Your wound is almost healed up all the way. I removed the stitches the other day. If I leave the arm unbound will you behave, and not try to use it?” Sam asked.
“ He’ll be good Sam.” Teresa said.
“ Sorry for all the fuss I caused Sam.” Johnny said.
“ John, I’ve noticed you lost a considerable amount of weight. Your stomach will take time getting used to real food again. Teresa, why don’t you go get him a little beef brother, and a biscuit.” Sam asked.
Teresa squeezed Johnny’s hand before leaving the room.
Johnny watched her leave the room before looking back at his father. “ Scott out working?”
“ He went to Modesto to pick up some things. He should be back this evening son.” Murdoch responded.
“ Well, I think I will leave you two too talk.” Sam said as he closed his bag. “ John, you will have to build your strength up in that left arm again. Just continue to flex your fingers like you are right now a few times a day. It will get those muscles used to being used again.”
“ When can I take a bath, and shave Sam?” Johnny asked.
“ I see no reason why you can’t take a bath this afternoon. Just make sure you let your father help you.” Sam ordered. “ And maybe get Teresa to cut that hair of yours.”
Johnny laughed softly as Teresa walked back into the room with a tray of beef broth, and a biscuit. ‘ Thanks doc.”
“ I’ll walk you out Sam.” Murdoch said as he followed him out.
Teresa set the food on the table next to the bed. “ I thought you might like a cup of coffee with your broth.” she said as she poured a cup.
Johnny reached up, and took hold of her right arm. “ Not yet.” he said as he pulled her to him, and kissed her.
Teresa welcomed the feel of his lips on hers again. When he pulled away, she smiled. “ I dreamed of that every day, and night.” she said.
“ You dream of this too?” Johnny asked as he kissed her again, sliding his tongue into her mouth, moaning as he hugged her with his right arm.
Teresa moaned as she responded to Johnny kissing her. Her body started feeling different inside as they kissed.
“ I missed you Querida.” Johnny said when he finally broke off the kiss. “ My greatest fear was you would find someone else, and be married when I came back.”
“ I told you I would wait for you, and I did.” Teresa said softly. “ Murdoch knows about us. He heard me talking to you, telling you how much I wanted to feel you kiss, and touch me again.”
“ So I can look forward to a lecture, and told to leave you alone?” he asked.
“ No, he just said he will not permit us to sleep together in this house until we are married.” Teresa said.
“ Did Sam say you could come downstairs?’” Murdoch asked a week later.
“ I’ve been sitting here thinking about that day. I’ve thought about it every day since it happened, and………Murdoch, you’ve seen me shoot. I hit what I aim at.” Johnny said.
“ What are you saying son?” he asked
“ There were two bullets in Josh Baker. I fired twice. Neither of my bullets went thru him. That girl was to my left when she was shot.” he responded.
“ Are you saying you didn’t shoot her?” his father asked.
“ I hit what I aim at. I’ve never missed, and I’ve never shot or killed an innocent bystander.” Johnny said.
“ What are you saying son?” Murdoch asked.
“ There was another shooter behind me that nobody seen.” he said. “ I’m sure of it.”
“ Why didn’t you say anything at the trial?”
“ Why, they already had me convicted for it. That’s why they never called Sam to testify, and why it was never mentioned about the bullets, or how many times I shot.”
“ So you kept quiet, and went to prison for five years for something you didn’t do. Why?” his father asked.
“ Someone had to pay for her death. It might as well have been me.” Johnny said with sadness. “ How come Scott hasn’t come to see me?”
“ I don’t know son.” Murdoch said.
“ You know, but don’t want to say why.” he said. “ Guess that day cost me more than five years in prison. It cost me my brother too.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ When did Val leave?”
“ The day after he sent you to prison son. He said he never wanted to wear a badge again. Nears as we can figure, he went back south.” Murdoch said. “ I didn’t tell you in a letter because I knew how hurt you would be. I’m sorry.”
“ Seems to be what everyone likes to do to me. Hurt Johnny Madrid.” he said before walking away.
Johnny seen his brother go into the barn a month later.“ So how long you going to ignore me brother?” Johnny asked as he walked into the barn.
Scott glanced at his brother walking toward him as he started to saddle Charlie. “ I’ve been busy running this ranch, and don’t have time for small talk.” he said as he pulled his saddle off.
“ And at supper time, you seem to be able to talk to Murdoch, and Teresa.” Johnny said. “ I did my time for what happened Scott. Do I have to serve a lifetime of not existing in your eyes?”
Scott ignore his brother as he tightened the cinch, and put the bridle on Charlie. “ I think it’s for the better that we don’t talk to each other.”
“ You want me to leave, is that it Boston?” he demanded.
Scott led Charlie out of the stall. “ Do what you want. You always have in the past with no regard to others. You don’t need my permission.” he said as he started to walk past.
Johnny reached out his right arm, and grabbed Scott’s left, spinning him around. “ Talk to me damn you.”
Scott jerked his arm free, and hit Johnny hard in the mouth, knocking him backwards into a support beam. “ Go to hell Johnny.” he said.
Johnny felt a sharp pain as his back slammed into the beam. “ I’ve already been there…..brother.” he said.
Scott swung, and hit Johnny again in the face. “ Don’t you call me brother because we share that old mans blood!” he spat. “ You mean nothing to me! You are nothing more than a cold-blooded half-breed killer!”
Johnny stood there watching his brother lead his horse out of the barn. He never thought he would ever hear his brother say those words to him.
Murdoch walked out of the house and watched as a rider approached. “ Are you Lancer?” Dan asked.
“ I am.” he asked.
“ I have a message for your son. Tell Madrid if he ever wants to see his brother alive again, he’s to meet us in Spanish Wells at sunup tomorrow. Tell him to come alone, or his brother dies.” Dan said. “ Oh, this here is proof we have him.” he said as he removed Scott’s wallet, and tossed it to him. “ It’s time Madrid pays for killing Josh Baker.” he said before riding away.
Murdoch turned and walked inside. “ Johnny!” he yelled.
“Murdoch, what’s wrong?” Teresa asked as Johnny walked into the grand room.
“ A man just rode up to the house with a message for you. He said for you to meet them in Spanish Wells at sunup tomorrow morning, or your brother dies.” his father said.
“ Who?” Johnny asked. As he went inside, and quickly got dressed.
“ He didn’t say his name. All he said was for you to come alone, and it was time for you to pay for killing Josh Baker.” Murdoch said.
“ Who are they Johnny?’ Teresa asked.
“ Most likely the four men Amelia said were coming to kill me. Cliff Baker, Allen Miller, Dan Martinez, and Jess Harris.” he said. Sonofabitch! You remember what I told you about that day Murdoch?”
“ That you thought someone else shot that girl.?” he asked.
“ Yeah. Jess Harris was with Josh in the saloon. I paid him no mind because of the kid. He went out ahead of us, and to the right. He would have been to your left down the street.” Johnny said as they started for home.
“ I only heard two shots son. The two shots you fired.” Murdoch said.
“ There were three shots. His was so close to my second, it sounded like one.” Johnny said.
“ Who shot you in the back?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Amelia.” he responded.
“ Who is she?” Teresa asked.
“ She’s Cliff’s wife. She suckered me into leaving the stage. She played me.” Johnny said. “ When I realized who she was, we had stopped to make camp for the night between Stockton, and Morro Coyo. I confronted her and when I was leaving, she pulled out a pistol I didn’t know she had, and shot me in the back.” Johnny explained.
“ I’m saying this because Teresa said she made a promise to you before you left. I think you need to tell her what happened between you and this woman. She has a right to know.” Murdoch said.
“ What’s he talking about Johnny?” Teresa asked.
“ I met Amelia on the stage……..We shared a room for the night in Stockton. I slept with her.” Johnny said as he looked at the floor.
“ Did she mean anything to you?” she asked.
“ No, she meant nothing to me but release from being locked up.” he said.
Teresa walked over to look in his eyes. “ Murdoch, why did you feel Johnny needed to tell me this?” she asked.
“ I felt you had a right to know. I didn’t want you to find out the way I did about his mother later.” Murdoch said.
“ I’m not her Murdoch. I was going to tell Teresa about it when the time was right. It wasn’t your place to say anything.” Johnny said before going upstairs.
“ You better hope he shows in the morning.” Cliff said.
“ Dan just rode in.” Allen said.
“ Cliff, don’t do this. Let him go. He had nothing to do with Madrid killing your brother.” Amelia pleaded.
“ Shut up!” Cliff ordered. “ Madrid is going to lose a brother just like I did.”
“ So you’re going to kill him even if Johnny comes?” she asked.
“ That’s the plan. Can’t leave any witnesses.” Allen said.
“ You’re going to murder an innocent man, and call it justice for your brother. You bastard.” Amelia said with anger.
Cliff went to his wife and backhanded her hard, knocking her to the ground “ I’m done with you.”
“ What’s wrong with you?” Jess demanded as Dan came into the room.
“ I’ll deal with you in a minute.” Cliff said. “ What happened?”
“ I told him like you said. He was shocked, but if Madrid’s there, he’ll get the message and come.” Dan said.
“ Now Jess, I’m going to ask you something, and you better answer me. You were with my brother the day Madrid gunned him down. Both of you were in the saloon drinking when Madrid walked in with this one. I want to know how he knew who he was?”
“ He started talking shit about how Madrid was wearing his gun low on his hip, and that a greaser shouldn’t be allowed to wear one.” Jess said.
“ Go on.”
“ He went to get up, and I grabbed his arm to stop him. I told him to not do it. That I could tell the man knew how to use the gun from the looks of how well it was kept. He didn’t believe me, stood up, and yelled ‘ Hey Mex, you got no right wearing that gun like you are.’ I tried to stop him, but he wouldn’t listen, so I told him he was Johnny Madrid. That just made him all the more cocky. He yelled he was calling him out. Madrid turned, looked at him, and said he didn’t know him, and didn’t want any trouble. Then turned around to finish his beer. If you don’t believe me ask him. He was there.”
“ I’m not asking him. I’m asking you.” Cliff said. “ So let me get this straight, you’re the one who told my little brother that was Johnny Madrid? You’re the one who took him into that saloon, and allowed him to get drunk. You’re the one who let him walk outside, and get gunned down by that half-breed bastard knowing he didn’t stand a chance against him.”
“ Don’t go blaming me for his death. You know how your brother got when he drank. I tried to stop him. I even tried to kill Madrid, but missed.”
“ You killed her.” Scott said. “ Johnny didn’t kill that girl, you did.”
“ She never should have run out into the street.” Jess spat.
“ You bastard. My brother did five years for something he didn’t do.” Scott spat as he stood up, and went for Jess.
“ Lancer!” Cliff yelled. “ If you want to see the sun rise in the morning, you’ll sit your ass back down in that chair.”
Johnny came downstairs a little after three the next morning. The sun would be up in three hours, and that gave him plenty of time to ride to town, and think about how to get his brother free. He knew Cliff Baker, was a gunfighter, and a damn good one. He’d seen the man draw, and his speed when they worked a range war together in Texas once. When it was over, they went their separate ways, and he never seen him again. When he killed Josh, he didn’t know until after he had killed Cliff’s little brother. Over five years he had not touched a gun. When he was well enough, he practiced, but knew his draw was slow, and Cliff would beat him.
In three weeks he would have a beautiful woman to share the rest of his life with. The woman who kept him strong, and sane while inside. Every time he’s alone with her, it takes all he has to not make love to her before their wedding night. Just thinking about her having his child inside her made him smile, and he couldn’t wait to get her pregnant. Teresa had chose to get married on a Saturday afternoon at Lancer with a few close people. She knew he didn’t like crowds, and neither one really wanted a big wedding, or reception. Murdoch would walk her down the aisle to give to him since her own father was dead. He had wanted his brother to be his best man, but doubted that would happen, especially after being kidnapped because of him.
Stopping his horse on the hill, he looked down at what was once his home. He hadn’t told Teresa yet that he didn’t want to live there. That Lancer wasn’t his home anymore, and he was going to offer Murdoch to buy his third of the ranch, since it was more Scott’s home than his. He still had money in the bank. Enough to buy a small spread for him and Teresa close by where he could start a horse ranch. The Simple place sat empty on the border of both Lancer, and the Conway ranch. Plenty of water, and good grazing. Two big barns, and corrals were already built. The house needed some minor roof repairs, and the inside cleaned from sitting empty a few years. If he survived this meeting, and got his brother back, he would try and get it as a wedding present for Teresa.
“ Hold on brother. I’ll get you out of this, or die trying.” Johnny said as he turned his horse, and galloped toward Spanish Wells.
Teresa opened Johnny’s bedroom door, and found the room empty. His bed still made up. The top drawer of his dresser was partially opened. Walking over she reach in to the back, and found the small pistol he had kept there ever since he came home to Lancer years before, gone. On the bed lay on envelopes addressed to Murdoch.
“ Murdoch!” she yelled as she hurried down the back stairs. “ Murdoch, he’s gone. He left this on the bed.” she said as she handed him the envelope. “ His special pistol he kept at the back of the top drawer of his dresser is gone too.”
“ I should have known that boy would try and do this alone. Damn him. He was supposed to wait, and ride in with me, and some men. I’m going to have a serious talk with that boy when this is over.” Murdoch said as he opened the envelope, and read the letter.
By the time you read this, it will all be over, and hopefully Scott will be free. I signed over my part of Lancer. I don’t have a right to own part of it, Scott does. He’s been here longer than me. He was right that day in the barn. I am nothing more than a half-breed, cold-blooded killer. I probably won’t come out of this alive, I say that because what I never told you about Cliff Baker, is he’s a gunfighter, and a damn good one. With me having been locked up for over five years, he stands a good chance of beating me. Tell Teresa I’m sorry, and I love her, but she deserves someone better than me. Someone she doesn’t have to worry about being gunned down because of who they are. Tell her thank you for loving me, and wanting to marry me. She kept me alive while I was inside. Before this all happened, Scott was the perfect big brother, he still is, and I don’t blame him for hating me. I hate me for what I did, but I sealed my fate the day I picked up a gun, and chose to make a living using that gun. At the time all I ever wanted to be was Johnny Madrid, good at my trade. When I came back here, all I wanted to be was Johnny Lancer, a son, and brother, but I guess that’s not meant to be. I can’t keep putting you, Scott, or Teresa’s lives at risk because of a stupid reputation I thought at the time, was so important to have. My mother was a fool to leave you. Though you’re a bit bullheaded at times, and do have a temper, I’m proud to have known you, and glad I got the chance to be your son for a little while.
Murdoch shook his head, “ My god.” he said as a tear ran down his cheek.
“ What does he say?” Teresa asked.
Murdoch handed her the letter, before heading outside.
“ Dan, take a rifle, and get on the roof of the Mercantile across the street. Watch me, and when I rub my nose with my left hand., shoot that sonofabitch, but don’t kill him.” Cliff ordered.
“ With pleasure.” Dan said. “ Where you want me to put a bullet in him at?”
“ In a leg, drop him to the ground.” Cliff said.
“ He’s been locked up for over five years. He won’t beat you.” Allen said.
“ Yeah, well I’m not taking any chances.” Cliff said. “ You’re going to stay up here with her Allen. Jess you’re going out in the street with me and Madrid’s brother. Let’s go.”
Johnny stopped his horse just outside town as the first rays of light started to show. Pulling his colt, the one he had modified by a gunsmith in Cordova, to have a deadly hair trigger on it, the front part of the trigger guard cut away, and the sight filed off. To a person unfamiliar with the gun, it could go off with the slightest pressure on the trigger. In a gunfight, all he had to do was pull it, and fire. He didn’t have to worry about the second it took getting his finger in the trigger guard. Sliding the gun back in the holster, he pulled his second pistol out from his back, and checked it again. Spinning the cylinder, he put it back, looked to the east, and started into town.
“ Well, I guess he cares about you after-all.” Cliff said as he stood in the middle of the street behind Scott, with Jess standing just to their right.
Johnny rode to within seventy feet, and stopped his horse. “ I’m here, let my brother go.”
Cliff pulled his pistol, and cocked it. “ Get down.”
Johnny dismounted and looked at his brother standing in front of Cliff, his hands tied in front of him, a kerchief tied around his mouth.
“ You going to be a coward, or are you going to face me?” Johnny asked.
“ I am facing you. He’s just a little insurance for me is all.” Cliff responded. ‘ I hear you went to prison for five years, but it wasn’t for killing my little brother. They say you went for killing an innocent girl.”
“ Your brother had a chance to walk away.” Johnny said.
“ That’s what he told me. See, he was there also. It was actually Jess who killed that girl when he was trying to shoot you in the back. She just happened to run out into the line of fire at the wrong time.” Cliff said as he brought his left hand up to rub his nose.
Johnny dropped to the ground when a bullet slammed into his left thigh. Drawing his colt, he rolled onto his right side, firing, hitting Cliff as he ran to a horse, and mounted up.
Scott slammed his body into Jess as he pulled his pistol, knocking him to the ground. Grabbing the gun, he shot the man in the chest twice, killing him.
Johnny pulled his knife to cut the rope binding Scott’s hands, but a bullet entered his upper right arm, making him drop his knife.
“ The bank roof!”Scott said.
Johnny spun around just as a rifle went off to his right, and Dan Martinez fell from the bank roof dead. Looking, he seen his father, rifle in hand coming toward him. “ I’m sorry Scott.” he said as he limped to his horse, and swung up in the saddle.
“ Johnny, let him go!” Scott pleaded.
“ Not this time.” he said as he galloped off.
“ Johnny………….Let him go!” Scott yelled.
“ Son, are you alright?” Murdoch asked.
“ There’s one more in the hotel room with the woman.” Scott said. “ I need to go after Johnny, he’s shot.” Scott said as he went to a horse.
Cliff yanked his horse to a stop, and placed a hand to his left side. “ You got lucky Madrid.” he said. Dismounting, he pulled the rifle, and waited. Hearing a horse approaching fast, he aimed, and fired when the horse came into view.
Johnny rounded the bend in the road, and suddenly found himself flying thru the air as his horse squealed, stumbled, and went down. Landing hard on the ground, he rolled, and felt ribs break on his right side as he slammed into a rock.
“ I didn’t think it would be this easy to kill you.” Cliff said as he walked closer. “ Get up!”
Johnny struggled, and finally made it to his feet. His right side hurting with every breath he took, he could feel at least two of his ribs moving.
Cliff walked over to where Johnny’s pistol lay on the ground, and picked it up. “ Raise your hands up.”
Johnny raised his left arm. Every breath he took, his chest hurt. “ The right arm’s broke.”
“ You don’t say. Then I guess you won’t be able to draw against me. Looks like you’re losing a fare amount of blood from that leg wound.” Cliff said. “ Here’s what I’m going to do. You put two bullets in my brother’s chest to kill him, so I figure to put two bullets in your chest.
Johnny adjusted his balance so his right arm was out of Cliff’s view. Slowly he reached behind him, biting the inside of his mouth to ignore the pain from his ribs, and took hold of the colt he had back there.
“ You got anything to say before I kill you?” Cliff asked.
Johnny smiled that deadly Madrid smile, his eyes colder than an iceberg. “ Yeah.” he said as he cocked the colt, and whipped it around. “ Go to hell!”
Cliff brought his pistol up, and fired a second before Johnny. Both men going down as each one’s bullet found it’s mark.
Murdoch walked out of the hotel behind the crowd of men who escorted Allen Miller, and Amelia Baker to jail. Amelia kept insisting she was an innocent person in all this, but when Murdoch confronted her about using his son, and setting him up, she became enraged, and spewed profanity at him he had never heard a woman say. Walking out of the jail, he seen Sam coming toward him in his buggy.
“ Who’s shot, and where are they?” Sam asked.
“ Scott said Johnny’s shot, but I don’t know how bad. He took off after the one man, and Scott went after him.” Murdoch said.
“ I’ll get my buggy. Do you know which way they went?” Sam asked.
“ North.” Murdoch said as he untied his horse, and mounted up.
“ Alright, you go looking for them, and I’ll be along shortly.” Sam said.
Murdoch rode out of town praying his youngest would still be alive when his brother caught up to him.
Scott stopped his horse when he heard two shots up ahead. Listening, he heard nothing but an occasional bird in the distance as he cautiously rode forward. When he rounded the bend, he stopped. Laying at the side of the road was a dead horse, and not far away lay his brother on the ground. Jumping from the horse, he went to his brothers side, and carefully turned him over. His right side completely soaked in blood, as well as his upper left leg. Removing his pants belt, he fastened it around the leg to slow the bleeding. Tearing open his shirt, he found the wound in his upper right arm, and side. “ Hold on Johnny.” he said as he went to the horse to see if there was anything in the saddlebags he could use. Finding nothing he went back, removed his own shirt, and tore a sleeve off to wrap around the arm wound. “ You hold on brother. Don’t you die on me.” Scott pleaded as he wrapped the arm. Hearing a horse approaching, he looked up to find his father.
“ How bad?” Murdoch asked as he dismounted.
“ Bad.” Scott responded.
“ Sam’s coming behind me. We can put him in his buggy to get him back to town.” he suggested.
“ He’s lost a lot of blood from his leg, and I think he has broken ribs from the fall from the sound of his breathing.” Scott said.
Murdoch carefully felt his sons ribs, and found a nasty, dark bruise already appearing. “He has at least two, maybe three broken ribs. I could feel them move when I pressed on them.”
Sam stopped his buggy, climbed down, and hurried over. “ How bad?” he asked.
“ He’s been shot three times, and I think he has broken ribs from when his horse went down.” Scott said.
“ Was he conscious when you got to him?” he asked.
“ No. I carefully turned him over, and put my belt around his leg to slow the bleeding.” Scott responded.
“ Pick him up carefully, and place him in my buggy. If he has broken ribs, we don’t want one puncturing a lung, or going into his heart.” Sam ordered.
“ He should never have come.” Scott said as he paced around Sam’s office.
“ You know how your brother is son. There was no way of stopping him. He loves you, and it’s that love that made him come.” Murdoch said as he took the letter Johnny left them out, and handed it to him. “ Teresa found this on his bed early this morning.”
Scott took the letter, and read it. Tears welled up in his eyes reading what Johnny wrote about him. “ I…..I wasn’t right. Jesus Murdoch, I hate myself for saying that to him.”
“ Son, a lot of things get said when two people have a fight. Things that neither one means. I think if you give it some time, your brother will forgive you.” Murdoch suggested.
“ But how do I forgive myself Murdoch?” he asked as he wiped away a tear.
“ Only you can answer that son.” his father said. “ I think you need to just do some serious thinking about all you and your brother had, and see if you want more. I know if he survives, that letter all but says he will leave.”
“ So him and Teresa were going to be married?” he asked.
“ Yes. The way you had been treating your brother, he felt you wouldn’t care. So they decided to not tell you.” Murdoch said. “ They were to be married in three weeks.”
“ Don’t you think someone should go get Teresa? She should be here too.” Scott said.
“ Aggie went to the ranch to get her.” Murdoch said. “ I wish Sam would come out, and tell us something. This waiting is taking its toll.”
“ We can’t let him leave Murdoch. He has every right to be a part owner of Lancer. It’s just as much his home as it is mine.” Scott said.
“ Then the three of us will have to do some serious talking to him son.” Murdoch said.
Late afternoon Sam opened the door, and walked out to the front where Murdoch, Scott, and Teresa waited. Removing his glasses, he wiped the lenses, and then his face.
“ Sam.” Murdoch said softly.
“ I was only able to remove two of the three bullets. He’s lost so much blood, I don’t know if he will live thru the night.” Sam said. “ The bullet to his leg hit the femur bone. I removed all the bone fragments I could find, but there is significant tissue damage, and he could have a permanent limp from it. I’m concerned about the broken ribs, and the bruising in his chest.” Sam explained.
“ How bad is the leg Sam?” Scott asked.
“ It’s going to take a long time to heal. He won’t be able to ride a horse for several months. The bullet in his right arm, passed thru muscle, and will also take time to heal. He won’t be drawing a gun for some time. The third bullet tore thru his side, but missed and vital organs.
“ When can we take him home?” Teresa asked.
“ If he survives the night, not for two weeks at least.” he said. “ He’s going to stay here at least a week, and then I suggest you get a room at the hotel for him. I don’t want him bouncing around in a wagon until he’s stronger. I have a tube down his nose to his stomach so we can get water into him to help replenish the blood loss.”
“ Can we see him?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes, but I’ll warn you, he’s pale, and his breathing is shallow. I have a blanket pulled up to his waste, and his left leg isn’t covered up. I want to keep an eye on that wound for any signs of infection.” Sam responded.
Johnny rode up to the house, and looked down at a beautiful dark haired, blue-eyed little girl holding her arms up. “ ride horsey papa.” she was saying as he reached down, and pulled her up into the saddle. Turning the horse, he rode away from the house, with his daughter in front of him. Stopping, he turned the horse, and looked back at Teresa, and smiled. ‘ you’re the luckiest man alive’ he thought as he waved to her standing there holding his son in her arms. ‘ Gallop papa ‘ his daughter said. Pain, pain like no other he was now feeling, and his daughter was gone. He was laying on the ground with sharp pain in his chest every time he tried to breath. Pain, and the coppery smell of blood, but who’s blood, and why was it hurting so much to breath. Then suddenly he felt like he was floating, and found himself looking down at someone sitting next to a bed with a man laying in it, sleeping. Moving down closer, Johnny seen he was looking at himself, and the man next to the bed was his brother, and he was crying, but why.
“ Hey brother, you’re going to shed tears for me? That’s not like you.” he said as he found himself standing next to the bed, looking at his brother.
“ I wish I could take back what I said to you that day in the barn brother. I didn’t mean any of it. You’re not a cold-blooded, half-breed killer, and you do mean something to me. I can’t lose you again. Please wake up.” Scott said aloud as he sat back in the chair, and stared across his brother. Rubbing his eyes, he could swear he was looking right at him, and hear him.
“ It’s alright Boston. I know you didn’t really mean what you said that day in the barn. I was going to leave Lancer, but I can’t. I have a family, and a woman who loves me that I want to marry. I always wanted a big brother growing up, and now that I have one, I don’t want to lose him, or the old man.
Scott looked at the still form of his brother, and then back at his brother standing there looking at him. Closing his eyes. ‘ It can’t be. I have to be dreaming.” he said as he opened them again.
“ Relax Boston. You’re seeing me. I don’t know how, but you are.” Johnny said. “ I was going to leave, but the angel told me I have to stay. It’s not my time yet.”
“ We don’t want you to go. I want nieces, and nephews running around to spoil. We have so many things to do together. I can’t run Lancer alone when Murdoch dies. I need you brother.” Scott said.
“ Someone is coming, so I have to go. I’ll wake up soon brother. I promise.” Johnny said, and then he was gone.
Murdoch sat next to the bed, looking at his youngest boy. Three days ago they brought him home after two weeks in town. The black tube still in his nose so they could get water into him.
“ When you were born, it was the happiest day of my life when I held you for the first time, and looked into those blue eyes of yours. I remember your mother used to sing a Spanish lullaby to you.” Murdoch said.“ Ven tus ojos, pequeña, y duerme. Y sueña mientras los ángeles te vigilan. Tomaré tu mano. Y cuandote despiertas con el sol de la mañana, Yo todavía estaré ahí. ( Close your eyes little one, and sleep. And dream while the angels watch over you. I will hold your hand. And when you wake with the morning sun, I’ll still be here.)
Maria would sit next to the window singing that to you every night. I miss most of your life growing up because she took you from me. I can never get those years back. All I can do is hope, and pray I get the rest of mine with you son. I don’t want to lose you again. Please wake up.”
Standing up, he walked over to the window to look out at the darkness of the night, and let the tears fall.
Johnny opened his eyes, and blinked several times. He tried to speak, but found something preventing him. Reaching up to his face, he found something inserted into his nose. Taking hold of whatever it was, he started to pull it out, but started gagging.
Murdoch turned around, and went to his sons side. “ Johnny, son you have to leave that tube in you.” he said as he removed Johnny’s hand from it.
Johnny shook his head, and tried again to remove the tube, fighting his father.
“ Scott………Get in here!” Murdoch yelled as he tried to stop Johnny.
Scott hurried into the room, went to his brothers side. “ Johnny, calm down.” he said.
“ What’s wrong?” Teresa asked as she hurried into the room.
“ He’s trying to pull the tube out.” Murdoch said.
“ Johnny………..Johnny it’s Teresa, look at me.” she said as she climbed on the bed next to him.
Johnny looked at her, confusion on his face. Letting go of his brothers hand, he reached out, and touched her face as his body suddenly went limp, and he closed his eyes.
“ Sam will be here in the morning.” Scott said. “ What happened?”
“ I don’t know, I was standing at the window, stretching my back when I heard him gagging. I turned around, and he was trying to pull the tube out.” Murdoch explained.
“ I can’t take much longer being stuck in this bed.” Johnny said as he played checkers with Scott a week later. “ King me.”
“ I’m sure Sam will let you come downstairs soon.” Scott said as he stood up, and walked over to the window.
“ Something on your mind Boston?” he asked.
“ Johnny, do you remember anything after being shot?” he asked.
“ Not much.” he said.
Scott walked over and closed the bedroom door. “ I was sitting with you when you were unconscious at Sam’s, talking to you.” he said as he walked back over to the window. Turning around to face his brother. “ I seen you plane as day standing next to the bed. You were talking to me like we are right now.”
Johnny tried to reposition himself on his bed. “ Wait a minute. Are you telling me that wasn’t a dream?” he asked.
“ You asked me if I was going to shed tears for you, and told me how you always wanted a brother, and didn’t want to lose me.”
Johnny put his head back against the pillows, and closed his eyes.
“ You remember don’t you?” Scott said as he walked over, and sat down on the bed.
Johnny nodded. “ I thought I was dreaming.”
“ And I thought I was dreaming.” Scott said. “Listen, I said some pretty horrible things to you that day in the barn. I didn’t mean any of it, and wish I could take it all back.”
“ Forget it Scott. I know you didn’t mean it.” Johnny said. “ I was going to leave Lancer if I survived, but I realized I don’t want to lose what I have. For the first time in my life, I have a family to love, a brother, and father. I’d be a fool to leave that, and go back to living by my gun.”
“ Don’t forget you have Teresa too.” Scott said.
“ Yeah, about Teresa, I’m not so sure I’m right for her Scott.” Johnny said.
“ You know what your problem is little brother? You are afraid to really open up your heart, and let someone in.” Scott said. ‘ You are afraid that if you drop that tough guy image you spent most of your life building up, you’ll get hurt.”
“ I’ve been hurt Scott, and I’ve hurt those I care about.” he said. “ I did five years in prison, and shamed the Lancer name.”
“ You did five years for something you didn’t do, and the people of Spanish Wells know that now. Johnny, I’m the one who hurt you. I turned my back on you when you needed me the most. I wasn’t there for you. I didn’t write to you while you were in prison. A part of me…..well most of me was so damn angry about what happened that day, and it wasn’t for the girl being killed. It was because of that damn kid calling you out. I have to live with that the rest of my life.”
“ The six months when I didn’t get a letter from you, I figured you were too busy, or upset, but then after a year, I knew you didn’t want anything to do with me anymore. It was Murdoch, and Teresa’s letters that kept me fighting to stay alive in there.” Johnny said.
“ Have you talked to her?” he asked.
“ Yeah, we’ve talked.” Johnny said softly.
“ Do you love her?” he asked.
“ Yes. But…….”
“ But nothing. If you love her, and I know she loves you, then do something about it. Don’t run away from it. Don’t throw away what you can have with Teresa. Marry her, give me nieces, and nephews to spoil.” he said.
“ My first born will be a daughter Scott. She’ll have blue eyes like me, and hair like Teresa’s. Our second child will be a son who looks just like me.” Johnny said softly.
“ Can I ask how you know this?” he asked.
“ I seen them. I came home from working all day. Only it wasn’t Lancer I rode up too. It was the old Simple place. I wanted me and Teresa to have our own place. A place where I could maybe start a horse ranch someday.” Johnny explained before yawning.
“ Little brother, hold on to that dream. Don’t ever let it go.” Scott said as he stood up. “ I’m going to get out of here, and let you get some rest.”
“ I need to talk to you about something son.” Murdoch said. “ I have to attend the Cattleman’s meeting next week in San Francisco. I wanted you to go with me, but Sam said your leg is not strong enough, and with those broken ribs, he suggest it wouldn’t be good. So I’m taking Scott with me, and leaving you here to run the ranch while we are gone.”
Johnny looked from his brother, to Murdoch. ‘ You’re leaving me to run the ranch?”
“ Yes I am. I have complete confidence you can do it while we are gone for a week.” his father said. “ Is there a problem?”
“ No…..no. It’s……..No there’s no problem.” Johnny said.
Murdoch stood up, and walked over to his youngest. “ You’re a part owner in this ranch. I think it’s about time you start running it also.”
“ Thanks Murdoch. It means a lot to me that you trust me enough to do this.” he said. “ When will you be leaving?”
“ Tomorrow. There’s a good friend of mine going to be in San Francisco, and I want to visit with him while we are there.” Murdoch responded.
Johnny woke with a start, and sat up in bed. Lightening flashed lighting up the grand room. Standing up, he walked over to the big window, and looked out. The wind howled, as the rain came down hard. Feeling a chill, he went over to the fireplace, and added a couple pieces of wood.
“ Johnny.” Teresa said.
“ Yeah. Looks to be a good one out there.” he said. “ You okay?”
“ The thunder woke me up.” she said as she walked over closer to him. Standing there, she watched his muscles ripple in his back. “ What are you doing up?”
“ Couldn’t sleep, so I came down here to work on something.” he said. “ You still want me?” he asked.
“ Yes I do.” she said.
Johnny walked back over to the desk, and sat down. “ When I was at Sam’s, I remember having this dream about us. I came home from work, and rode up to the house. Our daughter came running out to me with her arms in the air. I picked her up, and took her for a ride. You came out on the porch with our son in your arms, and smiled at me as I turned the horse. I rode a little ways away, stopped, and turned to look at you standing there with our son. You were so beautiful in the evening sunlight.”
“ You sound like we weren’t living here.” she said.
“ We weren’t. I bought the old Simple place.” he said.
“ The Simple place. Why?” she asked.
“ I don’t know why, but it wasn’t Lancer.” he responded. “ Do you want to live here after we get married?”
“ I’ll live wherever you want Johnny, but I think moving away from Murdoch would hurt him.” she said.
“ The Simple place borders Lancer, and it would give me a start on my horse ranch I’ve always wanted.” he explained.
“ If a horse ranch is what you want Johnny, then that’s what we will have. Can I ask why?” Teresa said, and asked.
“ I don’t know really, except something is telling me the bottom is going to fall out of the cattle market. That we will have a bad winter. The worst winter ever that will affect ranchers all over.” he responded.
“ Have you talked to Murdoch about this?” she asked.
“ And have him blow his top, and say I’m being ridiculous, no.” Johnny said.
“ As a part owner of this ranch, I think you should talk to him, and Scott when they come back.” she suggested as she walked over, and looked at a paper Johnny had been working on. “ What is this?”
“ It’s the price the army is willing to pay for a four to ten year old horse broke to bridle, and saddle.” Johnny said. “ With the Indian wars, and more people coming west, I think Lancer can make a good living breaking, and selling horses.”
“ You should show this to Murdoch.” she suggested.
“ And have him bellow that Lancer is a cattle ranch, and we only break horses for ranch work. No, he wouldn’t go for it.” Johnny said as he stood up, walked over, and poured a shot of tequila.
“ What kind of wedding do you want Johnny?” Teresa asked as she lay back against his chest.
“ Whatever you want is fine with me.” Johnny said before downing the shot.
“ I just want it to be the family. I want to get married here at Lancer, with just us, and a few close friends.” she said. “ Is that okay?”
“ If that’s what you want. All I want to do is make you happy Teresa.” Johnny said.
“ Just being married to you will make me happy..” she said.
Johnny walked over, and placed his right hand under her chin. “ I love you Querida.” he said before kissing her.
“ Murdoch, Scott, welcome home.” Johnny said. “ How was San Francisco, and the meeting?”
“ It rained the whole time we were there.” Scott said.
“ Yeah we had a good storm a couple nights ago hit here. No damage though. The ponds are full, and the streams were out of their banks until yesterday.”
“ Any problems son?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, none I’ve been told about.” Johnny said.
“ Murdoch……..Scott, it’s so good to have you home again.”
“ It’s good to be home.” Scott said as he gave her a hug.
“ So how’d the meeting go?” Johnny asked.
“ Not good I’m afraid.” Murdoch said as he walked over to the sideboard, and poured four brandy’s. “ The cattle industry may be headed for trouble I’m afraid.”
“ It seems some scientist back east are saying that sometime in the next ten years, there will be a devastating snowstorm that will wipe out thousands, if not millions of cattle out here.” Scott said.
“ Those imbeciles back east have no idea what they are talking about. Why they are targeting ranchers spreading such rubbish will drive the price of cattle down.” Murdoch said.
“ They’re right Murdoch.” Johnny said.
Murdoch looked at his youngest. “ They’re not right son……”
“ Hold on Murdoch.” Scott cut in. “ Let’s hear what he has to say.”
“ Please don’t ask me how I know this, but it’s true Murdoch. Lancer needs to invest in something else within the next five years to sustain us through.” Johnny said.
“ Sustain us through what son?”
“ A winter like no other. Look, I’ve been to Wyoming, and seen how easterners are being greedy, and overstocking the grasslands there, in Montana, and the Dakotas Murdoch. This last January was colder than it’s ever been. I heard that it cost ranchers a lot of cattle dying from that cold. Lancer has nothing if the cattle market should ever fail.” Johnny responded.
“ Little brother, it sounds like you have something in mind.” Scott said.
“ I do. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid.” he said.
“ I think we should continue this discussion after supper tonight. I’m tired, and want to clean up, and rest.” Murdoch said.
Murdoch walked over to his desk, and sat down. Opening the drawer to look at the books, he found something on his desk that caught his eye. Picking up the paper, he found it contained a breakdown of cost, years, and profits made for the next ten years selling horses to the army. The profit numbers were more than he would make selling cattle in that ten years.
“ Murdoch.” Johnny said as he walked into the grand room with Scott.
“ Did you do this son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah. Look it’s nothing.” Johnny said.
“ What is it?” Scott asked.
Murdoch handed the paper to Scott. “ Can I ask how you came up with those numbers?”
“ It’s not hard. I just figured what the army pays for a horse, and multiplied it over a ten year period.” Johnny said. “ I may not have an education like Scott, but I know this would work. Lancer needs something to fall back on Murdoch. Everybody is going to need beef, I know that, but people are also going to need, and want horses. The closest places the army have remount forts are Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, and down in Pomona. There’s more people coming out west. I strongly believe we can make good money doing this.”
“ The numbers look good son, but it would take contracts. Have you thought about how you would get those?” Murdoch asked.
“ Ride to these places, and talk to the man in charge.” he said.
“ And what if they already have a contract with someone?” Scott asked.
“ Then I make them a better offer.” he said. “ Look, I know this is a cattle ranch, but I want you to know, I’m buying the Simple place, and I am going to have my horse ranch.”
“ Just hold on Johnny.” Scott said. “ How much do you think it would take to get this going?”
“ It wouldn’t cost Lancer anything. I’ve been saving money for a long time. I have more than enough to buy the Simple place, make the needed repairs, and get started.” Johnny said. “ If I need money, I’ll take out a loan at the bank.”
“ Might I remind you, you are a third owner of this ranch, and have an obligation to this ranch.” Murdoch said. “ You have to have a sound investment to take out a loan John. I will not permit you to use Lancer as that sound investment.”
“ I never said I wouldn’t still work here, and I never said anything about using Lancer to get a loan Murdoch.” Johnny said. “ Just forget it old man. It’s pretty clear I’ll never be anything in your eyes. Saying I’m a part owner of this ranch is just another way of you saying I’m just another hired hand.” he said before walking outside.
“ Why did you do that to him?” Teresa asked “ He said you would do exactly what you did when I asked him to show you this.”
“ Young lady, I built Lancer up to be a cattle ranch, not a horse ranch. It would take four years before he could make any money. During those four years he would have money going out for feed, and none coming in. He hasn’t figured in hiring help, or any of the other things that will come with having a business like this. He will have no idea how to keep the books, and I say that because he refuses to learn how by doing the books here.” Murdoch explained.
“ Maybe it’s because whenever you want Johnny to do something, you order him, but when you want Scott too, you ask him. Maybe you should think about that Murdoch. You call the tune on this ranch, but I am going to support him on fulfilling his dream of a horse ranch. He’s went long enough without having something that wasn’t his.” Teresa said before heading outside to find Johnny.
Murdoch turned and looked at Scott. “ All I said was………”
“ I know what you said sir.” Scott said. “ Not once did you tell him it was a good idea, or how about a thank you for thinking about the future of Lancer.”
“ I never once raised my voice. I thought we were having a business conversation.” he said.
“ What we were having sir, was a family conversation about starting up a new business. A business that has nothing to do with Lancer, yet everything to do with Lancer’s future.” Scott said. “ I have a lot of money I’ve never touched that grandfather left me when he passed away. I’m going to invest however much it takes to help Johnny get this horse ranch up and running. It will be my wedding present to them.” Scott said before going to find his brother.
Teresa found Johnny out in the rose garden sitting on the bench. “ You alright?”
Johnny stood up. “ Yeah. I told you he wouldn’t go for it.”
“ I’m sorry Johnny. Please don’t give up on your dream.” she said as she walked over to him.
Johnny put a hand on each side of her face. “ I love you Teresa.” he said before kissing her.
“ Johnny!” Scott called out.
“ Yeah.” Johnny said as they stepped apart.
“ I have something I would like to discuss with the two of you.” Scott said. “ I’m going to finance your horse ranch getting started. I have all that money grandfather left me, and haven’t known what to do with it until now.”
Johnny stood there looking at his brother unable to speak.
“ You going to say something?” Scott asked.
“ You would do that for me?” he finally asked.
“ I would. It’s the least I can do little brother. It’s not a loan. Consider it a wedding gift.” Scott said.
“ Thank you.” Johnny said as he went to his brother, and pulled him into a hug. “ You have no idea what this means to me.”
“ I think I do brother.” Scott said. “ Oh, I gave Murdoch a piece of my mind after you walked out.”
“ So did I.” Teresa added.
“ So when do I get to be the best man, and watch my little brother get married?” he asked.
“ In two weeks.” Teresa said.
“You don’t have to worry about that wedding present Boston. They sold the Simple place last week.” Johnny said as he walked over to the sideboard, and poured a drink.
“ Sold it to who?” Scott asked.
“ He wouldn’t say other than they paid cash.” he said before downing the shot. “ I’m going to go clean up.”
“ Johnny, I’m sorry son.” Murdoch said.
“ Yeah, you don’t have to worry now.” Johnny said before walking away.
“ I thought I heard Johnny?” Teresa asked as she walked into the room.
“ You did. He went to clean up.” Scott said. “ That place has been for sale for six years. I wonder who bought it?”
“Bought what?” Teresa asked.
“ Somebody bought the Simple place last week. Paid cash for it.” Murdoch said.
“ Oh no. Maybe there’s another place for sale.” Teresa suggested.
“ No other ranches are for sale close to Lancer, except that five hundred acres Jake Mendoza is wanting to sell.” Scott said.
“ Do you have everything ready for tomorrow?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes. I can’t believe my wedding is finally here.” she said.
“ It’s been a long time coming, but I’m happy for you sweetheart.” Murdoch said.
“ Well, I better get back in the kitchen to help Maria.” she said.
“ I think I will ride out and see how the crew is doing on that foot bridge.” Scott said.
Murdoch stood up, and headed upstairs.
“ Yeah!” Johnny said as he rinsed the soap from his head.
“ How did it feel riding again?” Murdoch asked as he closed the door.
“ Felt good.” Johnny said.
“ Can I talk to you son?” his father asked as he closed the door.
“ Yeah.” he said.
“ You know, when Paul died, and I was left with raising Teresa, I wanted the best for her. As she got older, I hoped she would find someone to marry that wouldn’t hurt her like I was. Someone who would love her the way she deserves to be loved.” Murdoch said. “ I never thought I would get the chance to see you get married son. I’m happy Teresa is marrying you. I know you will never hurt her the way your mother hurt me.”
“ If someone had told me eight years ago I would be getting married tomorrow, I would laugh in their face.” Johnny said.
“ I expect grandchildren running around this house.” Murdoch said.
“ Teresa wants to start a family right away, so this time next year you should have a grandchild.” Johnny responded.
“ You looked like you were going to pass out when the preacher said your now married brother.” Scott said.
“ It was a beautiful wedding, and you young lady were beautiful.” Murdoch said.
“ I would like to make a toast to the new couple.” Scott said as he picked up four glasses of champagne, and passed the around. “ Little brother, you have come a long way since that first time we met. I couldn’t be prouder to have you as my little brother. Teresa, you looked so beautiful walking down the aisle with Murdoch, and I want you to know you will always be like a little sister to me.”
“ I have something to say as well, and to give the two of you.” Murdoch added. “ John, I did a lot of thinking about what you want to do. I hope you will accept this wedding gift.” he said as he handed Johnny an envelope.
“ What’s this?” Johnny asked as he took the envelope.
“ Open it and see.” Scott said.
Johnny opened the envelope, and took out the papers. As he read the first one, a lump came to his throat. “ I…..it was you?” he said.
“ Like I said, I did a lot of thinking about what you want to do, and I know you will make it work.” Murdoch said.
“Murdoch I…. Excuse me.” Johnny said before turning, and going outside.
“ What’s wrong?” Teresa asked.
Murdoch went outside, and found his son standing on the portico with his arms wrapped around himself. “ Are you alright son?”
“ Why’d you do it?” Johnny asked.
“ Because it’s about time I start believing in you more. You told me you may not have an education like Scott, and that bothered me. Young man, you are smarter than I ever could be. I looked at those figures you did up, really looked at them, and I realized I would never be able to do something like that. Not that far ahead.” Murdoch said.
“ Would one of you please tell us what is going on?” Teresa asked.
“ He bought the Simple place for us.” Johnny said.
“ You will find it includes an additional five hundred acres adjacent that runs up to Top Mesa at Salt Canyon mine. After I bought the place, I had two gates installed so you can run mustangs from North Mesa right onto your property to your corrals. I had some hands do all the repairs on the property. The house has a fresh coat of paint inside and out. The barn roof is fixed, and there’s enough lumber to build several more corrals.” Murdoch said. “ Also, you need to know, that’s why Sam had you restricted last week son. I didn’t want you riding out there and seeing what was going on, and asking questions. It’s been hard for me to not tell you I was the one when you found out. The hurt I seen in your eyes that day hurt me just as bad inside.”
“ You have a look of shock on your face little brother.” Scott said.
“ I will still expect you to work here at least three days a week, and that will give you four days a week to work your ranch.” Murdoch said.
“ Rider coming.” Teresa said.
Johnny stood there watching as the rider rode up to the house, and dismounted. “ I won’t blame ya nun if ya want me ta leave kid.”
Johnny walked over, and extended his hand. “ You forget how to write?” he asked as the two men shook hands.
“ No I ain’t furgot how ta write a letter. I figured ya wouldn’t want ta hear from me since I was the one who sent ya to prison.” Val said.
“ You didn’t do anything but your job Val, and I don’t hold that against you.” Johnny said.
“Ya look good kid.” Val said.
“ It’s good to see you again Val.” Murdoch said.
“ Mister Lancer, Scott. It’s good ta see ya.” Val said.
“ Come on inside. Can you stay a while?” Johnny asked as they walked inside.
Johnny sat on the bed watching Teresa undress.
“ I thought Val was going to pass out when you told him we’re married.” Teresa said as she stepped out of her dress, and stood totally naked in front of Johnny.
“ Yeah, he was a little shocked.” he said.
“ Maybe tomorrow afternoon, he can go with us to see our new home.” Teresa suggested.
“ Tomorrow afternoon huh. Why not in the morning?” Johnny asked.
“ Because I don’t plan on allowing you out of this room before noon.” Teresa responded.
Johnny stood up, and removed his pants. Standing there looking at her. “ So many nights I would lay in my cell thinking about what it would feel like making you mine.”
Teresa stood looking at Johnny, letting her eyes slowly go from his head down to his waste. Her eyes taking in all of him, as her stomach started feeling like it had butterflies in it as he stepped over to her. Her heart started racing, and her breathing got faster when he brought his mouth down to hers, sliding his tongue inside like he had done so many other times. When his hands started wandering over her skin, she felt like she was floating on air. Moaning aloud when he touched her.
Johnny wanted to make her first time as easy and as painless as possible. He remembered a girl he had once in Mexico. She was the daughter of a man he hired out to. An innocent, beautiful girl who came to him one night late while he slept in her fathers barn. There was no going slow, he had been weeks without a woman’s company, and seen how she looked at him. When she came to him that night, she was innocent. When she left, that innocence was gone. Numerous times when he was alone with Teresa, he wanted to make her his, but didn’t. He kept telling himself that this night should be the night he made her his. This night, his wedding night, he would fulfill a dream he’d had for a long time.
Laying down on the bed, he reached for her to lay next to him. When she did, he claimed her mouth with hunger as his left hand started roaming all over her body, touching places he’d dreamed of touching for so long. When he started touching her below her waist, he watched as she closed her eyes, rolled onto her back, and moaned as he started to pleasure her. When he knew she was ready, he moved between her legs, and guided himself to her. Forcing himself to go slow as he enjoyed the feel of her hands running up and down his back, clinging to him when he entered her. Letting her body adjust to the new feeling as he sucked on her breast, causing her to dig her fingers into the small of his back. Raising up on his hands, he looked down at her as he slid almost all the way out, then thrust all the way into her, taking from her what she would never be able to get back. “ You’re mine now.” Johnny said as he took her innocence, and made her a woman.
“ Johnny, how many kids do you want?” Teresa asked in the early morning hours.
“ At least two. A son, and daughter.” Johnny said as he pulled her on top of him, and started making love to her again.
Ten years later the cattle industry crashed from a storm dumping more snow than ever across much of the west, killing thousands of cattle. Many ranches were lost, but thanks to Johnny’s successful horse ranch, Lancer survived, and was able to start over with new stock.
Riding up to his home, he reached down, and pulled his three year old son up into the saddle with him. Every night he took him for a ride to see the sun set. Stopping his horse, he turned, and looked back toward the house, and smiled as he looked at Teresa standing on the porch with their nine year old daughter standing next to her. Johnny Madrid, though still a part of him, hadn’t been needed again in the ten years he built his horse ranch up. Every Sunday Scott, and his wife, a woman who came to Green River to teach school, came for supper. Murdoch spoiled his grandchildren every chance he got since letting Scott take over running Lancer.
Johnny couldn’t help but smile at all he had now, and thought back to that day he was ambushed.
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