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Bad Company by Nancy Marie

This story is just for fun. No money is being made from this.

This story will be Rated NC – 17

Johnny Madrid Lancer
Scott Lancer
Murdoch Lancer
Teresa O’Brian
Sam Jenkins
Harlan Garrett
Ann Landry
Tom Bell
Ben Daniels
Will Tanner
Jess Tanner

Word count: 24,855

Chapter 1

Scott stood watching as the stage came into Morro Coyo and stopped. Watching as a young lady stepped off the stage wearing a beautiful southern dress with many frills, Latin and lace. When the lady looked at him and smiled, he swore his heart skipped a beat.

” Miss Landry I presume? ” Scott asked.

” Yes, I am Ann Landry. You are? ”

” Scott Lancer. My father was unable to come.  He had an unexpected cattleman’s meeting he had to attend, but will be finished when we get back to the ranch. ” Scott said. ” I have the Barouche across the street. ”

Scott stopped the Barouche on top of the hill.

” Lancer? ”

” From here to those mountains in the distance. One hundred thousand acres. ” Scott said.

” So much land for one man. ” Ann said.

” Out here it takes a lot of land to make a cattle ranch successful. ” Scott said before continuing on down the hill. ” Murdoch has spent the last thirty year building this ranch up to be the biggest in the San Joaquin valley, and in California. ”

” You think you could deliver another hundred head in six months Johnny? ” Major Carlyle asked.

” Six months isn’t much time to round up and break a hundred head. ” Johnny said.

” I must have you mistaken for someone else. The Johnny Madrid I knew would have no trouble fulfilling that order. ”

” Alright, alright….You want another hundred head it will cost you extra.” Johnny said.

” Extra. The government is paying you seventy five dollars a head now. ” Major Carlyle said.

” Fifty dollars less than what the government usually pays for military horses. You agree to buy another four hundred head in a year, I’ll bring you that extra hundred head in six months. ”

” Four hundred head. I’ll tell you what Johnny, you deliver that hundred head, I’ll agree to your proposal. I’ll even start the year after you deliver the hundred head. That gives you eighteen months to deliver five hundred head. ”

Johnny opened his saddlebag and pulled out a piece of paper. ” All I need is your signature. ”

” You had that already prepared. ” the major said with a laugh.

” Murdoch figured you would want more horses once you seen these. ” he said.

” Tell me something Johnny, are you happy living with your old man and brother? ” he asked as he signed the contract.

” Yeah I am. Not living by a gun, looking over my shoulder all the time is a lot better. ” he said. ” Getting out of the game is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. ”

” It’s changed you. Not many men get a second chance like you have Johnny. I’m happy for you. ” the major said. ” Listen, if Lancer is serious about providing horses for the army. I know of three forts south of here on this side of the bay area needing horses badly. ”

” Who would I talk to about it? ”

Major Carlyle wrote down the names and handed the paper to Johnny. ” I’ll contact them and let them know you will be contacting them. ”

Murdoch walked out into the yard. ” Miss Landry, you are as beautiful as your father said in his letters. ” Murdoch said.

”  You must be exhausted after such a long journey. ” Teresa said. ” Let me show you to your room so you can freshen up and rest before supper. ”

” I am a little tired. ” she said.

” I’m sorry my other son Johnny isn’t here to welcome you. ” Murdoch said as they walked into the house. ” He just left last week to deliver some horses to the army and won’t be back for two months. ”

” Johnny? I thought you only had the one son, Scott? ” Ann asked. ” Now this is a grandeur home. ”

” Thank you. Go freshen up and rest. Supper is at six. ” Murdoch said.

” It’s so vast and barren out here. How do you stand it? ” Ann asked as they ate supper.

” Running a ranch this size takes up most of the day and sometimes well into the night. ” Murdoch said.

” We have church socials, dances and other things we attend. ” Teresa said. ” Every year we have a party for the children at the orphanage at Halloween and Christmas. ”

” Orphanage? ” she asked.

” Uh huh. All the ranches get together and put it on for the children.  ”

” Tell me about you Scott. Father said you grew up in Boston. ”

” Yes ma’am. ” Scott responded. ” My mother died giving birth to me. My grandfather raised me. I came back here four years ago. ”

Ann looked at Teresa. ” Are you Murdoch’s daughter? ”

” No, Murdoch raised me. I’m his ward. My mother ran off when I was very young. My father was the foreman here for many years until he was killed by horse rustlers a few years ago. I became Murdoch’s ward and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. ”

” There was no wire from Johnny. ” Scott said.

” Johnny, he’s the son who grew up here? ” she asked.

” Johnny was born here, but didn’t grow up here. ” Murdoch said.

” He grew up in Mexico. ” Teresa said.

” Mexico, that had to be frightening for a child. I never seen or heard of a Mexican until I came west. ” she said.

” California has only been a state thirty one years. Before the war it belonged to Mexico. ” Murdoch said.

” Didn’t you tell me your father has spent the last thirty years building this place up? ” she asked.

” Mrs Landry, I acquired Lancer and all the land legally. The ranch had been abandoned for several years and was run down as were all the buildings that were on the property back then. ”

Scott spent all the time he could with Ann, becoming closer and closer to her the two months she’s been at Lancer talking in the evenings. Murdoch noticed how distant he had become toward Teresa, and how Ann would always suggest she and Scott do something together on a Sunday, never to include her. Ever since the girl arrived, he had an unsettling feeling he couldn’t explain about the young lady. Thinking Johnny grew up at Lancer, when he knew her father knew his search for the boy for eighteen years. Several things in fact just didn’t add up, things the girl had said. Today one of the hands came to Murdoch to complain about the woman showing up and disrupting the job at hand. Causing Pedro to cut his hand open from the barbed wire.

” I want a word with the two of you. ” Murdoch said as Scott and Ann walked into the room and stopped.

” Something wrong sir? ”

” There is. Miss Landry, Scott is a third owner of this ranch and has a responsibility to this ranch. ” Murdoch said. ” He is to work this ranch six days a week. It has been brought to my attention you have been riding out disrupting his duties and today caused a hand to get injured. From now on you will stay away from Scott when he is working. Do I make myself clear? ”

” It’s not my fault if your men can’t concentrate on their work when a woman is around. ” Ann responded snidely.

” I have spoken and as long as you are a guest in this house, you will obey the rules of this house. ”

” Excuse me. ” Ann said before turning and heading upstairs.

” Where the hell do you get off being that rude to Ann? ” Scott demanded after Ann went upstairs.

” Don’t you dare speak to me like that young man. Ever since that young lady has come here, I have noticed your rudeness toward Teresa. ” Murdoch said with anger. ” I heard how you jumped on Walt for not having a job done. A job you knew would take several days to complete. You’re never like that. Now I don’t know what that young lady has done or said to make you act the way you have been, but it will stop now. Do I make myself clear? ”

Scott ignored his father, turned and went upstairs.

Teresa turned and looked at Murdoch as tears ran down her cheeks. ” I don’t understand why he’s being like he is toward us. ”

Murdoch walked over and pulled her into a hug. ” I don’t either sweetheart. Maybe when Johnny gets back he can find out why. ”

Scott sat with his back to an oak tree with Ann sitting in front of him between his legs.” I’m sorry for the way my father talked to you. ”

Taking his right hand, he turned her face and lifted her chin up. Bringing his lips down to hers, he kissed her softly.

Ann turned around and faced him. ” I…..I’m falling in love with you. ”

Scott placed his hand under her chin. ” Good, because I’m in love with you. ” he said as he lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her again, sliding his tongue inside her mouth this time to taste her.

Murdoch sat back in his chair. ” Supper was very good Teresa. Thank you. ”

” I sure will be glad when Johnny comes home. I miss cooking for him? ” Teresa said.

” What kind of food does Johnny like to eat? ” Ann asked.

” Spicy food. ” Scott said. ” My brother is a half-breed. ”

” A half-breed….I don’t understand. ”

” Johnny’s mother was a beautiful…..”

” Johnny’s mother was a Mexican whore Murdoch took to bed, got pregnant and married. ”

” How dare you speak of Maria like that young man. ” Murdoch demanded. ” I have had just about enough of your rudeness. I want you to go to Modesto to the auction. Jim Peterson is selling a couple of his prized breeding bulls and I would like you to try and purchase one of them. We can use the new bloodline. ”

” That auction last a week. ” Scott said.

” You know we need new blood and we can only get that from bringing in new bulls. ”

” I made plans with Ann for Sunday. ” he said.

” Your plans will have to wait. ” Murdoch said. ” Running this ranch is more important than your romance. ”

Scott looked at Ann, then at his father.

” Why don’t I could go with you? ” Ann asked.

” Absolutely not young lady. You will remain here. A cattle auction is no place for a young lady to be. Scott will only be gone a week. ”

” I realize you don’t like me Mister Lancer, something I’m sure my father will be very interested in learning, but I am a grown woman, therefore you cannot stop me from going with your son to Modesto. ”

” I can, and I will. ‘ Murdoch said firmly. 

Johnny was exhausted when he walked into the kitchen to find something to eat before heading upstairs to bed. Finding some biscuits he grabbed a couple and turned to sit down.

” How dare you sneak into Mister Lancer’s home and steal food from him! ” Ann said.

Johnny looked at the beautiful woman standing there in a silk robe, her nipples showing through the thin material. ” I’m not stealing anything lady. Who the hell are you? ”

” Get out, get out now before I call Mister Lancer down here. ”

Johnny stepped closer to the woman. ” I asked you a question lady. Who the hell are you? ”

” My name is Ann Landry and I am a guest of Mister Lancer’s. ” Ann said sharply. ” You people think you can just walk in here and steal food. ”

”  I suggest you take your pretty little ass back upstairs. ” Johnny said.

Ann lashed out and slapped Johnny hard across the face. ” You bastard. ”

”  What the devil is going on down here? ” Murdoch demanded. ” Johnny……I didn’t know you would be home tonight son. ”

” I was just grabbing a couple biscuits before going to bed. ” he said as he glared at the woman.

” You’re Johnny……Oh dear, I am so sorry. ” she said. ” I thought he broke in and was stealing food. ”

”  How did it go son? ”

” I’m tired Murdoch. I’ll tell you and Scott about it in the morning. ”

” Your brother isn’t here. I sent him to Modesto to the auction.  He’ll be back in a week. ” Murdoch said.

” I’ll see you in the morning Murdoch. ” Johnny said, glaring at Ann before heading up the back stairs.

Johnny came downstairs early afternoon to find his father at his desk.

” I didn’t think you would be awake yet son. ” he said. ” You looked pretty tired last night. ”

” Yeah I was. I think I fell asleep as soon as soon as my head hit the pillow. ” Johnny said. ” Where’s our house guest? ”

” I believe sitting outside on the veranda. ” Johnny said as Teresa walked into the room.

” Johnny! ” Teresa squealed as she ran to him. ” Oh I missed you. ”

Johnny wrapped his arms around her and gave her a big hug and kiss. ” I missed you too querida. ”

” If you’re hungry I can fix you something to eat. ”

” I can wait until supper. ” he said.

” How was your trip? Was it prosperous? ”

” It was very prosperous querida. ” Johnny said. ” Major Carlyle wants another hundred head in six months, and another four hundred head. ”

” Five hundred head in six months son. It can’t be done. ”

” In six months no, but in eighteen months it can. That’s how long I have to deliver them. ” Johnny said with a smile.

” At what price? ” his father asked.

Johnny opened his saddlebag and took out the money. ” Here’s the thirty thousand dollars for the herd I took, and here’s the contract you had Randall draw up. It’s signed. Any and all horses Lancer delivers is to be bought at a price of seventy five dollars a head. ”

Murdoch took the money and laid it on his desk, then took the contract and looked it over. ” This Major Carlyle didn’t dispute the price? ”

” No. He knows me from when I was Johnny Madrid. ” Johnny said as Ann walked in through the veranda doors and stopped. Her eyes on the stack of money on the desk.

” Is there something you needed? ” Murdoch asked her.

Ann walked over to the desk. ” My goodness, that’s a lot of money. ”

” Young lady, this doesn’t concern you. ” Murdoch said as he picked the money up. ” Please excuse us. ”

” The major said there are a couple of other forts that could use horses too. ”  Johnny said once Ann left.

”  Where and how many? ” Murdoch asked as he put the money in the safe.

” Fort Baker, Fort Barry and Fort Cronkite. All three in the San Francisco area on this side of the bay. ” Johnny responded as he walked over and poured a shot of tequila and downed it. ” I figured to ride into town tomorrow and send a wire to each fort asking how many head and at what price. ”

” Do you know who is in charge of these forts son? ”

Johnny pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. ” Fort Baker is Major Hunter, Fort Barry is Major Price, Fort Cronkite is a Major Reed. ”

” Can I ask how Major Carlyle knows you as Madrid son? ”

” A small skirmish with renegade Apaches down along the Arizona border I helped him out of. ” he said. ” As far as I know, none of the others know me as Johnny  Madrid. ”

” You did good son, real good. ” Murdoch said as he sat back down in his chair.  ” I don’t want you taking on more than you can handle with these horses son. Rounding them up, breaking them and delivering them is time consuming and exhausting work.”

” I know, plus as a third owner, I have to do my work for the ranch. ” he said with a smile. ” Bringing in an extra thirty thousand a year doesn’t come with privileges. ”

” When I agreed to allow you to do this, I said as a side business remember? ”

” I remember, but if you will remember, I told you there is more money to be made in horses than cattle. ”

” Everybody needs to eat son, therefore beef will remain the money maker of this ranch. Lancer is a cattle ranch and as long as I’m alive, it will remain a cattle ranch. ”

” Because you call the tune. I think it’s a toss up between  you and a mule on who is more stubborn old man. ” Johnny said. ” I’m going to go check on Barranca. ”

Murdoch sat back in his chair and looked at the safe. He knew to make the money his son just did selling four hundred head of horses would take him three, possibly four years to make. Could it be horses were the way to go in the future? Not really having an answer, he decided he would do some checking and think about it more.

Ann watched as Johnny walked out to the barn. Standing up, she walked out to the barn, looking around before stepping inside and letting her eyes adjust she seen Johnny at the back with a horse. ” He’s gorgeous. ” she said as she walked back to the stall. Reaching out to pet him, she jerked her hand away when Barranca tried to bite her.

” He don’t like strangers. ” Johnny said. ” and neither do I. What do you want? ”

” I wanted to apologize for last night. ” she said. ” I thought…..”

” You already said what you thought last night. ” Johnny said as he tried to keep his anger in check.

” I’m sorry, I didn’t know who you were. ” she said as she stepped closer to him.

Johnny went to walk away but stopped when she grabbed his arm.

” I would like to show you how sorry I am if you would let me? ” she said as she put her right hand on his chest.

Johnny grabbed her wrist and stopped her. ” I don’t know you lady, and I have no interest in your game. ”

” I’m not playing a game with you Johnny. I want to show you how sorry I am. ”

” You got that right… are a sorry piece of work lady. ” he said before walking out of the barn.

Ann turned and watched Johnny walk out of the barn. ” We shall see when Scott comes back home Johnny.  Especially when I turn him against you. ”

Murdoch heard his son come in the house and go upstairs. He could tell he was angry and looking out the window, he seen Ann walk out of the barn. He had his suspicions about what just happened and prayed it didn’t lead to trouble when Scott got back.

” You got your bull. ” Scott said as he walked into the house and put the bill of sale on the desk. ” It will be delivered next week. ”

” Alright. Thank you. ” Murdoch said as he picked up the paper.

” Johnny make it back yet? ”

” He did. He’s repairing fence up at Black Mesa. I know he’s anxious to see you son. ”

” Where’s Ann? ” Scott asked.

” Upstairs resting I believe. ” Murdoch responded. ” Why don’t you ride out and see him? ”

” I’ll wait until  tonight when he comes home. ” Scott said before turning and heading upstairs.

Johnny walked into the house an hour before supper, exhausted from stretching fence and replacing fence post. ” Hey Murdoch, fence is almost finished. ”

” All of it son? ”

” Yeah. I should be done late morning tomorrow. Scott make it back? ”

” He got back late this morning. ” he said. ” I told him you wanted to see him. ”

” Where is he? ”

” Right behind you brother. ” Scott said.

Johnny turned around to find his brother standing there with Ann next to him. ” Welcome back. ” Johnny said as they hugged. Glancing at Ann, he could see the displeasure on her face.

” I hear you have eighteen months to deliver five hundred horses to that fort again. ” Scott said.

” At what the army is paying, I’ll deliver all the horses the the army wants. ”

” Seventy five dollars a head is quite prosperous. That extra thirty thousand dollars will help the ranch thru winter. ” Scott said.

Johnny looked at Murdoch, and then his brother. ” What else did she tell you? ”

” Tell me? Tell me what Johnny? ” Scott asked.

Johnny walked over to her. ” Eaves dropping on a conversation that was between me and Murdoch, is what I’m talking about. How much did she tell you? ”

” Then perhaps you should have been in a closed room instead of in this huge open room. ” she said.

” She told me what you said……and did in the barn. ” Scott said.

” Said and did in the barn? What the hell you talking about Boston? ”

 ” Hear me when I say this……….brother…..Ann is my girl……not one of your Saturday night whores. Touch her again and……”

” Scott! ” Murdoch yelled.  ” That will be enough of that young man. You know your brother would never do such a thing. ”

Teresa walked into the room and could immediately feel the tension between the brothers. ” Supper is ready. ”

Johnny glared at Scott. ” I’m not hungry Teresa. ” he said before heading upstairs.

Murdoch walked upstairs and  knocked softly on Johnny’s door.

” Yeah. ”

Opening the door he walked inside and closed it. ” I brought you a plate of food. ”

” I’m not hungry. ” Johnny said

” You worked hard today son. Come sit down and eat with me. ”

Johnny walked over and sat down at the table by the window. Picking up a fork, he picked at the food a few minutes before dropping the fork and sitting back in the chair.  ” What happened while I was gone? Who is that woman? ”

” She’s the daughter of a good friend of mine, Joe Landry. I was his deputy years ago. ” Murdoch said.

” Why is she here? ”

” She showed up saying she came because she needed to do a paper for her professor about the west for the summer, and then go back home in the fall. ”

” And Scott? ” he asked as he started eating.

” Your brother started spending Sundays with her and I didn’t see a problem with it at first. But then his attitude started to change toward me and Teresa. She started riding out bothering him during the day. I ordered her to stop and told her she would not be permitted to go anywhere on this ranch without an escort. That didn’t set well with your brother. To be honest son…..and I don’t say this to make you any angrier than you are, but the way your brother has been acting….”

” You would expect from me. ” Johnny cut in and said.

” When you were wild….yes. ” Murdoch said with a smile. ” The four years you have been here, I have seen a drastic change in you, son. I’m proud of you. ”

Johnny set his fork down and sat back in his chair. Looking at his father, he had never been told by anyone that they were proud of him.

” You still can’t take a compliment can you son? ”

” Never been given one before. ” Johnny said.

” There’s a lot of things you haven’t been given you should have had. ”

” What she told him, whatever it was she told him happened in the barn Murdoch… didn’t happen.”

” I know. I seen you come out of the barn. I could tell you were angry and I know you would never force yourself on a woman, or do whatever she told Scott. ”

” When’s the last time you seen her? ”

” She was five… fifteen years. ”

” She has a motive for being here Murdoch, and it’s not to write some paper about the west. Go into town and send a wire to your friend and ask him if he knows she’s here. ”

” What are you thinking son? ”

” I think her motive is to put brother against brother. She wants Scott and feels I’m a threat to her, so she’s going to do whatever she can to split us apart. ”

” Son, promise me you won’t get into a fight with your brother. ”

” I have no intention of fighting him Murdoch. ”

Scott sat at the desk going over the books when the veranda door opened and Ann  ran in. Getting up he went to her. ” What happened? ” he asked.

” I went for a ride and…..your brother…..he jerked me off my horse and……Oh Scott, I couldn’t stop him. ” she sobbed.

Teresa came into the great room. ” What happened? ”

” Johnny assaulted her.” Scott said as he put his gun on.

” Scott wait! ” Teresa yelled as she ran out the door to try and stop him. ” Scott, Johnny would never do such a thing, and you know it. She’s lying! ”

” I’ll kill him. ” Scott said as he swung up in the saddle and took off.

Johnny pulled a post from the wagon, dropped it in the hole and started packing dirt in around it when he heard a horse approaching at a gallop. Seeing it was his brother, he stopped working, walked over to Barranca and grabbed the canteen. Pouring water over his head to cool off before taking a long swig. Putting the canteen back on the wagon seat, he walked toward his brother.

” You in a hurry for a reason brother? ” he asked.

Scott dismounted and immediately lashed out at his brother, catching him totally off guard. ” You bastard. How dare you assault Ann. ” he said before he hit Johnny hard in the face, knocking him back into an oak tree. 

” What the hell you talking about Scott? I’ve been right here working since this morning. I haven’t seen her! ” Johnny spat as blood ran down his chin.

Scott walked over, shoved Johnny back into the tree and hit him in the gut, dropping him to his knees. ”She’s been assaulted and said you did it. Get up and fight me you half-breed bastard. ”

Johnny coughed and spit blood out as he stood up. ” You’re wrong brother. ” he said. ” I never touched her, or seen her. ”

Scott hit his brother again in the face, knocking him down. ” Get up and fight me, or do you only assault women you bastard? ”

” That bitch is lying to you.  I never assaulted her. ”

Scott grabbed his brother and pulled him up.  ” You dare speak of the woman I’m going to marry like that! ” Scott spat before hitting Johnny again, knocking him to the ground. ” You are nothing but the filthy half-breed bastard son of a whore! ” he said before mounting up and riding away.

Johnny started to stand up, but stopped as a wave of dizziness came over him and he threw up everything he had eaten before darkness claimed him.

Teresa hurried outside when Murdoch rode into the yard. ” Murdoch, something terrible happened. ”

” Calm down and tell me what happened. ” he said.

” That woman, Ann, she came back and said Johnny assaulted her. ” she said. ” Scott got angry and took off after him. He came back an hour ago and is inside with her. ”

Murdoch went into the house to confront his oldest. Looking at Ann, he could see a bruise on her face. ” What the devil is going on? ”

” What’s going on is Johnny assaulted Ann this morning. ” Scott spat. 

” I don’t believe that, and neither should you!  I want her gone. Young lady you have done nothing but cause problems since coming here. Tomorrow morning I want her out of this house. ”

” She is going to be my wife. If she leaves, I leave. ” Scott spat back.

” You can’t be serious son? ”

” I am and I will. ” Scott said. ” Either I leave, or that half-breed bastard son of yours does. You chose. ” Scott said before walking out of the room.

” Mister Lancer! ”

Murdoch hurried outside  to find his youngest being taken out of the back of a wagon.

” I found him on the ground unconscious. ” Frank said. ” Someone beat him up pretty good. Walt went for the doc. ”

Murdoch came downstairs to find his oldest standing by the fireplace. Trying to control his anger, he walked over and poured a shot of whiskey and downed it. ” You better start talking boy. ”

” I told you what happened. ” Scott snapped back. ” That bastard assaulted her. ”

” And you take the word of her over your brother. ” Murdoch said. ” That woman has been nothing but trouble since she came here. Now I don’t know what she has said or done to make you act the way you are toward your own family, but I’ll be damned if I will let her stay in this house. I want her gone, and gone now. ”

” Fine. I guess you made your decision. We’ll leave first thing in the morning. ” Scott said.

” You’re going to leave your home…… your family…..for her? ” Murdoch demanded.

” My family wouldn’t treat Ann the way you are. ”

” You beat your own brother and left him lying unconscious. ”

” That half-breed bastard is not my brother. He’s nothing but a killer. The bastard son of a whore you married so you wouldn’t tarnish the Lancer name. I want nothing to do with this ranch, you or him. I don’t want to see either of you ever again. ” Scott said firmly. ” Ann, go pack your things, we’ll leave tonight. ”

Johnny opened his eyes to find Murdoch sitting in the chair by the window. ” Murdoch. ”

Murdoch stood up and went over and sat down on the edge of the bed. ” Here drink some of this. ”

Johnny welcomed the coolness of the water on his parched throat.  ” Thanks. I look as bad as I feel? ”

” Sam said your ribs are bruised as well as your face. He had to put three stitches in that cut above your eye. ” Murdoch explained. ” You didn’t fight back did you? ”

” I made you a promise that I wouldn’t fight him. ” Johnny said.

” What happened son? ”

” I was hoping you could tell me that. Scott rode up and started beating on me, saying I assaulted that woman again. ” Johnny said. ” I never seen her and I tried to tell him that, but he wouldn’t listen. Murdoch, I was at Black Mesa shortly after I left here yesterday morning. I don’t even remember coming back here. ”

” Frank found you unconscious and brought you home. You’ve been out for two days. ”

” Where is he? ” Johnny asked as he slowly sat up.

” He left. I don’t know where he went. He said he was marrying her and didn’t want anything to do with us ever again. ” Murdoch said with sadness in his voice.

” Sam restrict me to bed? ”

” No, but with the bruises you have, I would like you to take it easy for a couple days. ” Murdoch said as he stood up. ” I’ll let Teresa know you will be joining us for supper. ”

Research Notes: Chapter 1


Chapter 2

Murdoch sat at his desk  thinking about the harsh words his oldest son said the day he left. Never had he thought Scott of all people would turn on them like he had. Especially turning on his brother and assaulting him like he had. Standing up, he walked over to pour a drink when Teresa walked into the room.

” I’m worried about Johnny, Murdoch. ” Teresa said. ” He’s doing the work Scott did, plus his own and doing the horses for the army. He’s so exhausted at night……last night he was falling asleep during supper. ”

” I know. I’m going to have a talk with him. ” Murdoch responded. ” I knew he would take it hard, but I didn’t know he would take it this hard. ”

” He’s so quiet, so distant since Scott left. ” she said. ” I’m afraid he’s going to collapse from exhaustion or worse, get hurt. ”

” It will just take him time to get over what’s happened and start living again. He’ll be alright. ”

” Good morning Scotty. ” Harlan said. ” Where is your bride? ”

” Ann will be down shortly. ” Scott said as he sat down.

” So when do you have to go back to Lancer? ” Harlan asked.

” I’m not going back grandfather. ” Scott said and then told him what happened.

” I knew that half-breed bastard was no good. ” Harlan said. ” Murdoch never should have brought that killer home. I’m just glad he never hurt you Scotty. ”

” Good morning Mister Garrett. ” Ann said.

” Young lady. Scotty has told me what that filthy half-breed did to you…..I’m sorry. ”

” I thought I would show Ann around Boston today. ”

” Good, good. Maybe later you can bring her by my office and show her around. ”

” What is it you do? ” she asked.

” Grandfather does many things. ” Scott said.

” Your home is lovely. I’ve never had someone wait on me before. ”

” Charles helped raise me. He has been with grandfather… many years you been here now? ”

” I started working for your grandfather five years before you were born Master Scott. ”

” Aah, so I have someone I can talk to about your elusive childhood. ” she said with a smile.

” Scott’s childhood was never elusive…..adventurous sometimes, but never elusive. ”

” Careful grandfather, you will give by bride bad images of me as a child. ” Scott said with a smile.

” Well I must be going. I have a meeting this morning. I look forward to seeing you for lunch. ” Harlan said as he stood up.

” Murdoch, what can I do for you? ” Randall asked.

” I need you to do two things for me. ” Murdoch said.

” Alright. Have a seat. ”

” I need you to change the partnership agreement of Lancer to exclude Scott. Johnny is half owner now. ” Murdoch said.

” I heard Scott left. Are you sure you want to do this? ” Randall asked as he put pen to paper and started drafting a new agreement.

” I’m sure. He’s been gone two years now. He wants nothing to do with Lancer, me or Johnny. ” Murdoch said.

” How’s Johnny doing? ”

” I think he’s finally accepted that his brother is gone. ” he said. ” He’s been busy with the army contracts. ”

” I heard he has four contracts to fill. You know Murdoch, it’s been seven years since the first agreement was signed in this office. Since then, I have seen quite a change in that boy. What’s the other thing? ”

” My will. I need you to draw one up for me. I want all stocks, bonds and holdings to be divided between Johnny and Teresa. She can stay at the ranch and be provided for as long as she stays. If she marries, she forfeits everything. I don’t want some man marrying her thinking he would get Lancer. ”  Murdoch explained. ” As for the ranch, it goes to Johnny with the understanding he still keeps it a cattle ranch. There’s to be no timber cutting or mining allowed and he’s not to sell off any land.  As for his horse business, he can keep it going as long as Lancer stays a cattle ranch.  I worked thirty hard years to build it up. I don’t want it changed. ”

” You know, I never thought it would be Scott to leave. Especially because of some woman he hardly knew. ”  Randall said.

” I know. It’s always been Johnny I feared would leave. ” Murdoch said.

” Where’s Murdoch? ”

” He rode into town. Said he had a meeting with his lawyer Mister Randall  and won’t be back until late afternoon. ” She responded.

” So it’s just me and you for lunch? ” Johnny asked.

” It is.” she said as she set a plate of sliced beef down.

”How about Sunday we go for a ride together? ” he suggested.

” I’d like that. ” she said with a smile. ” How come you don’t go into town on Saturday nights anymore? ”

” No reason too I guess. ” he responded. ” I like being here, spending time with you. ”

” I like spending time with you too Johnny. ”

” I have a son? ” Scott asked.

” You do. ” the doctor said.

” Is Ann alright? ”

” Your wife is fine. She’s resting. Would you like to see your son? ”

” Yes sir. ” Scott said.

” I’ll have a nurse bring him out to you. ” the doctor said.

” Grandfather…..I have a son. ”

” I’m proud of you my boy. Very proud. ” Harlan said as a nurse walked up to them holding his son.

Scott took the baby in his arms and smiled. His Grey-blue eyes sparkling as he picked up a tiny hand and looked at the fingers. ” He’s so small. ”

” You were this small when you were born my boy. ” Harlan said.

” Did my mother get to hold me at all before she died? ” Scott asked.

” Yes, Catherine passed away shortly after I put you on her chest. ” Harlan said with sadness. ” My great grandson will not want for anything. I am going to spoil him rotten like I did you. ”

” I want him growing up learning responsibilities. I don’t want him thinking he doesn’t have to work to earn money to buy the things he wants. ” Scott said as he handed the boy to Harlan. ” I will let you spoil him rotten until he’s ten, then I want him to start learning jut like I did. ”

” How did you do today son? ”

” Okay. Rounded up another hundred head. There’s a good yearling in the bunch I want to keep and train for Teresa. ” Johnny said.

” Me…..Johnny you don’t have to do that. ” she said.

” I know I don’t. I want to. ” Johnny said. ” You’re old enough now you need a good horse. Consider it an early Christmas gift. ”

” Thank you. ”

” I asked Teresa to go for a ride with me Sunday. You want to come along? We can have a picnic and do some fishing. ”

” No son, I think I’m going to relax here and read a good book. ” his father responded. ” You two go and have a fun day. You’ve earned it. You’ve been working hard and deserve it. ”

” You feeling alright? ” Johnny asked.

” I’m fine son. ” Murdoch said. ” Go and have a good time. ”

” Johnny…….do you think about him? ” Teresa asked as they sat in the shade of an oak tree by  a stream.

” Think about who querida? ”

” Scott. ”

” No…..I have no reason to. He made his choice. ”

” Murdoch isn’t taking it too good. I can see it in his face. He misses him. ”

” He’ll be alright. He lived most of……..He lived twenty four years without him. ” Johnny said.

” I miss him. I miss seeing the two of you banter, or sitting playing chess in the evening. ”

” He’s gone Teresa! ” Johnny said as he stood up and took a few steps away from her.

Teresa knew Johnny missed his brother terribly, but she also knew something else, something that happened that day was eating him up inside. Standing up, she walked up behind him and put her arms around his waist, hugging him. ” Tough guy Johnny Lancer…..I know you miss him. ”

Johnny placed his right hand on hers and patted them. ” Maybe a part of me does. ” he said softly. ” That day…….That day he said things to me Teresa, things I never thought my brother would ever say to me. Things I will never forgive him for saying. ”

” Please don’t let whatever he said destroy you. ” she pleaded.

Johnny turned around and lifted her chin to see tears welling up in her eyes. ” It won’t. I promise you that. ” he said softly as he looked into her blue eyes. ” You crying for me querida? ”

Teresa couldn’t find her voice. Being as close as she was to Johnny, his arms wrapped around her, holding her sent new feelings coursing thru her body. Unable to talk, she just nodded her head.

Johnny sensed something different about her. Looking into her eyes he seen something he had never seen before. If his hunch was right, that difference would change both their lives. Placing his right hand under her chin, he lowered his mouth to hers, he closed his eyes and gently kissed her soft lips. When he opened his eyes, he seen what he hoped to see. Lowering his lips to hers again, he ran his tongue over her lips before sliding it inside her mouth, tasting her for the first time. Wrapping his arms around her, Johnny held her close as he kissed her with passion for a few minutes. Knowing how easy it would be to go further than she was ready for, he forced himself to stop and step back from her.

” Did I do something wrong? ” she asked.

” No. ” he said. ” It would be real easy to make love to you right now Teresa, but that’s not how I want this to be…..I want you….oh boy do I want you, but it wouldn’t be right letting it happen like this…..out here. ”

” What are you saying? ”

” If you will have me, I’m going to ask Murdoch if we can be married.” Johnny said.

Teresa walked up to him and put her arms around his neck. ” Kiss me like that again and I will marry you Johnny Lancer. ”

Johnny smiled as he lowered his lips to hers and kissed her again with passion. Feeling her body trembling started to arouse him, so he broke the kiss off. ” Oh boy girl…..I think we better head back now. ”

” Pardon the interruption sir. ” Charles said.

” What is it Charles? ” Harlan asked.

” There is a policeman here to see you, Mister Scott. ” Charles said.

” To see me. ” Scott asked as he stood up.

” Yes sir, he is waiting in the study. ” Charles responded.

” Thank you Charles.” he said as he headed to the study.

” Mister Garrett? ” the policeman asked.

” Yes, I’m Scott Garrett. ”

” I’m afraid I have some terrible news sir.  The carriage Your grandfather, wife and son were riding in…..the horse spooked at fireworks and bolted. The driver couldn’t stop him. He went around a corner too fast and flipped over. The driver, your wife, son and grandfather were thrown clear of the wreck, but died almost instantly from hitting the ground,”  the policeman said. ” I’m terribly sorry for this Mister Garrett. There was nothing anyone could do to stop the horse…..or help them. ”

” They’re gone? ” Scott asked in disbelief.

” Yes sir. ” he said. ” I’m terribly sorry. ”

” Where are they? ” Scott asked.

” There bodies were taken to the undertaker sir. ” he said. ” I’ll let myself out. ” Again….I’m sorry for your loss. ”

Johnny walked into the grand room to find his father sitting in a chair reading a book. ” You still reading that book? ”

” It’s not one that’s easy to put down. ” Murdoch said.

” Can I talk to you? ”

Murdoch closed the book and set it down on the table. ” Alright son. ”

” I was wondering about you and my mother. How long before you married her? ”

” Not long. It was a whirlwind courtship. Why? ”

” Something has happened, something between me and……….me and Teresa. Something neither one of us planned on happening, but it has and there’s only one solution for. ” Johnny said.

Murdoch stood up and walked over to the sideboard to pour a drink.

” I haven’t dishonored her if that’s what you’re thinking. ” he said as he walked over to stand closer to him. ” We’ve fallen in love with each other, and I would like your permission to marry her. ”

Murdoch looked at his son and could tell he was serious. ” I was wondering when the two of you would realize it. ”

” You knew? ”

” Yes. I may be old as you like to remind me sometimes son, but I’m not blind. I’ve noticed how the two of you look at each other. Does she know you want to marry her? ”

” Yes. I told her today on our ride. ”

” Alright, I’ll give you my permission, but on one condition. Where is she now? ”

” In the kitchen I believe. ” Johnny said.

” Teresa……..would you come in here please? ”

” Is something wrong Murdoch? ” she asked as she walked into the room.

” Johnny has asked my permission to marry you. I told him he could, but on one condition. ”

” What condition? ” she asked.

” That I give away the beautiful bride. ” he said.

Teresa ran into his arms. ” Oh Murdoch, I wouldn’t want anyone else to do it. Of course you can. ”

” When is this special day going to happen? ”

” Well I don’t rightly know. ” she said.

” Well I suggest the two of you start making plans. ” Murdoch said. ” I need to know if you want a big wedding or a small one. ”

” Johnny, what do you want? ” Teresa asked.

” It’s whatever you want querida. I just want it to be the first of two special days for us. ” Johnny said.

” Two special days son? ”

” Our wedding day, and the birth of our first born child. ” Johnny said.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. ‘

Scott stood motionless, numb and cold as he listened to the words read over three graves. Three lives taken in an instant. Two of those lives his wife and six month old son. A wife he had only been married to three years. Standing there he looked around to see many faces he didn’t know. Faces of people attending the funeral who knew his grandfather, business associates mainly. The only people he really knew were the house staff.

Scott stood there watching as the three coffins were lowered into the ground. Picking up a shovel, he started shoveling dirt into his sons grave. When finished he did the same for his wife’s and grandfather. Once done, he threw the shovel and dropped to his knees sobbing.

Charles walked over and knelt down beside him. ” Let’s go home Mister Scott. ” he said as he helped the man stand up and offered him his kerchief.

Johnny wearing a dark pair of trousers, a white shirt with  a tie and his leather bolero jacket stood nervously watching Teresa walk out of the house with Murdoch into the courtyard where everyone waited. Looking at her in her beautiful light blue dress with lace around the collar and cuffs, a silk bow tied around her waist as well as a small one in her hair to keep it from her eyes.. A piece of lace draped over her head cascaded down her back around over her arms. He’d never seen a more beautiful woman in his life.

” Before the presence of God, I choose you to be my partner for life. You have inspired me to be a better person. Your love has done for my life what I did not know was possible. We will go forth as one. We will blend our families to become one family. In return, I promise to love you, be faithful to you, respect you, and stand by your side. I promise to never put anyone before you. I promise to do this for the rest of my life.”

” Since it is your intention to enter into the covenant of Holy Matrimony, join your right hands, and declare your consent before God and his Church. ” Father Michael said.

” I, John Lancer, take you, Teresa O’Brian, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life. ”

” I, Teresa O’Brian, take you, John Lancer, to be my husband. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life. ”

” John, do you take this woman to be your wife? Do you promise to be faithful to her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love her and to honor her all the days of your life? ”

” I do ”

” Teresa, do you take John to be your husband? Do you promise to be faithful to him in good times and in bad, through sickness and in health, to love him and to honor him all the days of your life? ”

” I do ”

” I pronounce you husband and wife. ” the father said. ” Congratulations. ”

” What will you do now Mister Scott? ” Charles asked.

” I don’t know. ” he said softly.

” Perhaps you could go back to your father and brother in California? ” Charles suggested.

” I have no family in California Charles. I told you what happened. What my brother did, what I said to him. ”

” Yes, and that is all in the past. ” he said. ” Did you not tell me your brother lived another life in his past. A life he chose to give up to be a son and brother? ”

” It’s not the same. ”

” Why is it not the same in your eyes Mister Scott? ” he asked. ” I have known you your whole life sir. I know what a fare and good person you are. I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, but before all the trouble happened, did you ever know your brother to abuse a woman? Did the two of you ever have a serious fight? ”

Scott looked at Charles. ” No, we got along. We would have disagreements, but never did we fight. Fact is, Johnny didn’t fight me back. He never once tried to defend himself as I beat him. All he did was say she was lying, that he never seen her that day. Not fighting back, not trying to defend himself tells me he did it. ”

” For a man to not fight back when he is being accused of such a heinous crime does not make him guilty of that crime. Perhaps he was shocked that you would even think he would do such a thing. Or perhaps he made a promise to your father that no matter what, he would try his best to get along with you. Even if it meant taking a brutal beating. ” Charles suggested. ” the Johnny you wrote to me about, that you described does not sound like the man you want to believe he is now. I suggest you go back to California and see if fences can be mended between the two of you once you are done settling the affairs here sir. ”

” Maybe I will in time Charles. ”

” Very well sir. Try to get some rest. Goodnight sir. ”

” Goodnight Charles. ”


” I have waited a long time for this night. ” Johnny said as he walked over to Teresa standing in his bedroom in her nightgown. Reaching up he undid the buttons in the front enough to push the gown off her shoulders, letting it fall to the ground. Stepping back, he took in all her beauty before pulling his shirt off, undoing his pants, and stepping out of them to let her see him. Stepping back over to her, he placed a hand under her chin, bringing it up as he lowered his mouth to hers. Moaning when she reached out and touched him. Sliding his tongue in her mouth, he deepened the kiss as he picked her up, walked over to the bed and gently laid her down on it. Laying down next to her, he started running his right hand all over her body, gently squeezing her breast as he sucked on them. Knowing how innocent she was, Johnny planned for her first time accepting him to be slow. He was shocked when she pulled him over on top of her and wrapped her legs around him.

” Johnny, please let me feel you inside me. ” she begged.

Johnny ignored her and continue touching her, running his hand down between her legs. ” We have all night my love. I want our first time coming together to be something you will never forget. ” he said as he slipped a finger inside her, feeling her tightness as he devoured her breast. Biting and tugging, then sucking on them as his tongue swirled around the erect nipples. So he had three fingers inside her as he worked his hand, feeling her body tighten, ready to explode, ready for him to enter her, Johnny moved between her legs as she spread the open wider. Guiding his hardness to her entrance, he looked down at her and smiled as he made on quick, hard thrust and buried himself to the core inside her. There had been no pain, no hesitation between them. Teresa wrapping her legs around his waist tightly, urging him to enter her. Clawing at his back when he did, arching her back when his tip touched her opening, begging him to keep going. 

Soon both had a rhythm , skin slapping skin as Johnny slammed into her with thrust after thrust, feeling her get tight and start to quiver, he knew she was there. He knew Teresa was about to experience the greatest feeling a woman and man could ever share together. Thrusting as hard as he could, Johnny spilled his seed deep inside her as her body convulsed and milked him dry. Covering her mouth with his to keep her from screaming, their tongues battling each other as they clung tightly together, neither one wanting the feelings of ecstasy to end until johnny finally rolled off her and lay on his back, trying to slow his breathing down.

” Are you alright? ” he asked.

Teresa rolled onto her side and started playing with his chest hairs. ” I can’t believe it finally happened. ”

Johnny looked into her eyes and seen a tear run down her cheek. ” Why are you crying my love? Did I hurt you? ”

” No. I feel wonderful my love. ” she said.

Johnny rolled over and pushed her onto her back. Running his hand down to her belly. ” I can hardly wait until your belly is swollen with our child. ”

” Oh Johnny, I want to give you children. ” she said as he moved between her legs again pressing himself into her, moving to get himself hard again.

Johnny claimed her mouth with hunger this time as his hands ran over her body, setting fires inside her everywhere he touched and kissed. Soon the two of them clung to each other again as they sought release. Both moaning and crying out when he again released his seed deep inside her an hour later.


Scott sat looking out the window, watching the snow come down. The words Charles spoke to him after the funeral running thru his mind. How could he go home and expect to be welcomed. It had been four years since that day. Had he been so blind with anger he didn’t see the truth of what really happened. The first time Ann said Johnny had attacked her in the barn the night after he came home. Why would she go to the barn? The second time, she said he attacked her when she was out riding. Why would she go anywhere near his brother if he supposedly had attacked her in the barn. It made no logical sense now that he thought about it. No woman would go near a man who had supposedly assaulted her, not without a motive. What that motive was he now knew. Ann, the woman he loved had for only reasons she knew, deliberately come between the brothers, and Teresa. Every time she suggested they do something together as a family, Ann would want it to be just her and him together on a Sunday.

” Mister Scott, are you alright sir? ” Charles asked.

” You’re right Charles. I’ve been sitting her thinking about everything that happened and she lied to me. Johnny never did the things she accused him of. ” Scott said as he stood up. ” What he motive was I will never know. ”

” So you will go home? ”

” In the spring. ” he replied as he walked over to the desk and pulled out some papers. ” I have sold all grandfathers businesses. I want nothing to do with running them.” he said as he pulled out an envelope and handed it to him. ” There’s a thousand dollars for every years you have worked for grandfather. I added another ten thousand dollars to say thank you for everything you did for me as I was growing up. ”

” I don’t know what to say sir. ”

” You are appreciated more than you know. I’m proud to know you. ” Scott said. ” There’s one more thing. I have left this house for you to live in or sell if you wish. ”

Johnny rode into the yard at a full gallop and jumped off Barranca before the horse had stopped. Hurrying inside he bolted up the stairs to his father’s room to be stopped by Sam coming out.

” What’s wrong? ” he asked.

” He’s had a heart attack. ” Sam said with a quiver to his voice.

” How bad is it? ”

” He won’t make it thru the night John…..I’m sorry. ” Sam said as the tears began to fall. ”He’s been asking for you. ”

Johnny turned away from him as Teresa came up the stairs and walked over to him. Wiping the tears away, he turned and went into his father’s room. Walking over to the bed, he sat down and picked up Murdoch’s hand. ” I’m here pa. ”

Murdoch opened his eyes and turned his head to look at his youngest. ” Johnny. ” he said barely above a whisper. ” Hold me son. ”

Johnny stood up, removed his gunbelt and climbed in bed next to his father, pulling him to his chest. ” I got you,” he said as tears ran down his face.

” Promise me……promise me you will never sell Lancer, son. ”

” I will never sell our home pa. You spent a lifetime building this ranch up. ” he responded. ” I love you pa. ”

” Fill this place with grandchildren son, and love them. I never got the chance to with you when you were growing up. ”

” I will. I’ll name my first born son after you pa. ”

” I prayed every day he would come back. ”

” I know you did pa. ”

” I’m so tired son. ”

” It’s okay, you can go to sleep now pa. You don’t have to worry anymore. ”

Murdoch used the last of his strength to reach up and touch his son’s face as the life left him.

Johnny knew he was gone when his hand fell back to the bed. Placing a hand on his chest, he could feel no more heartbeat as Sam came in. ” He’s gone. ” he said.

Teresa walked over to the bed, tears running down her cheeks. Bending down, she kissed Murdoch on the forehead.

” I’m sorry John. ” Sam said.

” For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.  A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to break down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh. A time to mourn, and a time to dance. ”’ Father Michael said.

” Murdoch Lancer lived such a life. A young man when he came from Inverness, Scotland to start a life he wanted here in California. He met and married his first wife, Catherine in Boston, and brought her here. With determination and hard work, he built this barren land up to be the biggest ranch in the San Joaquin. A ranch that has built a reputation over the thirty five years it has been here. I talked with Murdoch just last week about how proud he is with his son becoming successful with his horses. ”

Johnny, Frank, Walt, Pedro, Jim and Carl lowered Murdoch’s coffin into the hole in the ground with ropes. Once done, Johnny walked over, grabbed a shovel and started shoveling dirt into the hole.

” I’m worried about him Sam. He’s been so quiet since Murdoch passed away. ” Teresa said softly.

” Give him time. He’s lost two people he loved very much now. ” Sam said.

” It was a beautiful service Teresa. ” Agatha Conway said.

Teresa hugged her. ”How are you doing ? ”

” I can’t believe he’s gone. ” Agatha said.

” He passed away in Johnny’s arms.”

” Has he talked to his brother at all since he left? ” she asked.

” I have no brother anymore, Mrs Conway. ” Johnny said as he walked over and put his arm around Teresa.

” Regardless of how you feel, you should let him know his father is dead John. ” Sam said. ” He has a right to know. ”

” A right………He gave up that right the day he accused me of assaulting his wife and beat me for something I didn’t do. He chose that woman and her lies over his family. He gave up his rights when he left this ranch. ” Johnny said with anger. ” As far as I’m concerned, Scott is not welcome on this land. ”

” That’s being a bit hard for something that happened five years ago Johnny. ” Agatha said.

” Hard, Mrs. Conway? Hard is watching my father’s heart be broken more and more every day that went by without so much as a letter from Scott. I watched that man slowly die of a broken heart. Scott is the reason he had that damn heart attack. He’s the reason Murdoch died. ” Johnny with a quiver to his voice. ” He wasn’t here to watch a man as strong as an ox, slowly break down. Oh sure he wouldn’t admit it and tried to hide it, but we knew. So don’t tell me I’m being hard choosing to not tell him. ” he said harshly before walking over to Barranca, mounting up and riding away.

” I’m sorry, Mrs. Conway, Sam. ” Teresa said.

” It’s alright. I know he’s hurting and having trouble dealing with this. ” Agatha said. ” I’ll stop by in a few days and check on you. ”

” Don’t let him push you away Teresa. He’s hurting bad and needs to deal with what’s happened. ” Sam said.

” Who’s going to run Lancer now? ” Walt asked.

” Johnny will run Lancer. He’s the only son here. He will keep it running like it has been. ” Frank responded.

” And what if Scott comes back. He’s the oldest son. What if he comes back and challenges Johnny for ownership? ” Jim asked.” Granted I’ve only worked her two years, but I liked old man Lancer, and I like Johnny. I don’t want some eastern tenderfoot coming back here and destroying what Mister Lancer spent a lifetime building up.”

” Johnny won’t let that happen. ” Frank said.

” I won’t let what happen Frank? ” Johnny said from the bunkhouse door.

” We were just talking Johnny. ” Jim said.

” Who owns Lancer now Johnny? ” Frank asked.

” Until Mister Randall comes out with the will, Lancer will continue to be run as it always was. ” Johnny said. ” You men still have a job here if you want it. ”

” Some of the men are worried your brother will come back and challenge the will for ownership since he’s the oldest. ” Walt said.

” Yeah. I heard in some states the first born son is the one to get everything Johnny. I liked your brother and all up until he did what he did, but if he comes back here and challenges……”

” Scott has no grounds to stand on. He signed his third of Lancer over the night he left with that woman. ” Johnny cut in and said. ” Tomorrow is Sunday, Frank, Walt, I need you to ride to Green River and Spanish Wells first thing Monday morning and hire some more men. About twenty if you can. ”

” Twenty, can I ask what for? ” Walt asked.

” Bronc busting mainly. ” Johnny replied before leaving.

” Mister Randall, come in out of the cold. ” Johnny said.

” Thanks. I’m sorry I haven’t made it out here sooner Johnny. ” Randall said as he walked into the grand room. ” I’m here about Murdoch’s will. ”

” The men have been wondering what happens to Lancer now. ” Johnny said.

” Your father was very firm on what he had put in the will. Basically all of Lancer and its holdings belong to you. He had it set up so Teresa would be taken care of until she got married. Since she’s your wife, I think that part of the will we can ignore.” Randall said. ” Now, your father was very firm in having me stipulate that in order for you to take possession of Lancer, you are to sign this agreement he had drawn up that guarantees you will not allow the following to ever happen on Lancer. There is to be no mining or harvesting of timber. Lancer is to continue to be a cattle ranch with no less than a thousand head. The only exemptions being if the market were to fall out, disease, or weather. ”

” And Scott? ” Johnny asked.

” Scott was removed from the will. Murdoch said he signed his third over before leaving. Therefore he forfeits any and all rights to anything owned by Lancer. ” Mister Randall explained.

” Even though he’s the first born son, he has no rights to any of it? ” he asked.

” I think I know what you’re trying to ask Johnny. Scott has no grounds to challenge the will because he signed off all rights. ” Randall explained.

” He won’t be coming back here. ” Johnny said.

” Well I just need you to sign that you agree to the conditions your father put forth and I shall head back before it starts snowing again. ” he said. The wind picks up there could be drifts across the roads. ”

Johnny signed the paperwork where needed and shook Mister Randall’s hand.

” You come see me if you need anything Johnny. ” he said before leaving.

” So he left nothing in the will for Scott? ” Teresa asked as she lay in Johnny’s arms that night.

” Nothing. He said Scott forfeited all rights to anything belonging to Lancer when he signed over his third of the ranch and left five years ago. ”

Teresa turned to look at Johnny.  ” Are you okay with that? ”

” It’s what Murdoch wanted. I had to sign papers agreeing to his conditions. Even dead the old man is still calling the tune. ” he said as he suddenly got up and walked over to look out the window. ” Why…..why the hell did he have to die on me Teresa? ”

Teresa got out of bed and went to him, wrapping her arms around him when he turned to face her. ” It’s alright. Let it out Johnny. ”

” Please don’t leave me. I can’t bear to lose you too. ” he pleaded as the tears began to fall and his body shook.

” I will never leave you my love. ” she said as she tried to comfort him. ” Come back to bed my love. Let me hold you tonight. It won’t be long and I won’t be able too. ”

Johnny crawled back in bed and welcomed the warmth of Teresa against his back. Closing his eyes he relaxed in her arms and fell asleep finally.


Chapter 3

It had been five months since Murdoch passed away. Johnny busied himself during the day with the ranch, making sure the men finished their assigned duties and got the cattle moved down from the hills before winter snows. The last herd of horses had been delivered to Fort Gaston before winter. All repairs needing fixed had been done. In the spring two new barns would be built to store feed in the winter. Bigger corrals had been built with lean-too shelters for the horses to get out of the weather and provide shade from the hot summer sun.

” Can I help you? ” Johnny asked.

” I’m Jess Tanner and this is my little brother Will. We’re looking for work. ” he said as they dismounted.

” Where you boys come from? ”

” All over. ” Will said.

” Born in Texas, Dallas. ” Jess said as he looked at his brother.

” Texas huh. Why you in California? ” Johnny asked.

” We were up north trying our luck at gold panning. Got a hundred bucks for six months hard work. ” Jess said. ” So we decided to head south. ”

” What experience you two have with ranching? ” Johnny asked. He noticed how the brothers wore their guns low on their hip.

” Branding, roping, fence mending, driving, and castrating. ” Jess said.

” Not to many men looking for work in the fall. You two gunfighters? ”

” Gunfighters, no. We just chose to wear our guns like we do. ” Jess said.

” What’s it matter if we were gunfighters? As long as we do the work it shouldn’t matter. ” Will asked with a little anger.

” This is a working ranch. I pay a dollar a day, six days a week. ” Johnny said. ” You screw up, I’ll send you down the road. ”

” Sounds good to us. ” Jess said.

Johnny looked at the two brothers with an uneasy feeling in him. ” See my foreman Walt in the bunkhouse. I hope I didn’t make a mistake. ” he said softly as he watched the two walk away.

Finishing the November entries, Johnny looked at the grandfather clock and seen it was past nine o’clock. Standing up, he stretched his back muscles and walked over to look out the window. Opening the door, he stepped out onto the veranda and shivered. Walking back inside, he went and stoked the fire for what he had planned for the evening he knew would last all night. Walking over to the couch, he took the two blankets and pillows over to the rug in front of the fireplace and spread one out. Smiling, he turned and headed into the kitchen where he knew Teresa was at cleaning up from their late supper. Having been married seven months now and Teresa still wasn’t pregnant frustrated him. He wanted a son so bad, it was constantly on his mind.

” Feels like it might snow tonight. ” he said as he walked into the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee.

Johnny hugged her and then kissed her softly on the lips. ” I love you so much Teresa. ”

Teresa looked up into his beautiful blue eyes. ” And I love you Johnny. ”

Johnny took her hand in his and walked her into the grand room.

Teresa smiled when she seen what Johnny had done. Looking around she seen he had the curtains for the big bay window closed. ” What’s this? ”


Johnny walked her over to the blanket. ” This is the night I get you pregnant.  ” he said as he started undressing her. ” We’ve been married seven months now and you’re still not with child. ”

” It will happen my love. ” she said as she stepped out of her dress and laid down on the blanket.

Johnny quickly removed his clothes and stood over her, watching her run her hands over her body, touching places he would touch with both his hands and his lips before the sun came up. Dropping down to his knees, he continued to watch her pleasure herself some, exciting him more than she knew.

Teresa craved the feelings she got when he touched her body. She loved how he could set her on fire with passion. ” I can never get enough of you. ”

” I’ve never seen you do what you are before. ” Johnny said.

” I wanted to see how excited you would get watching me and it looks like it worked. ” she responded as she watched Johnny satisfy himself without realizing it.

” Damn querida. ” he said as he exploded.

” Just means you can finish me and will last longer my love. ”

” Oh I plan too. ” Johnny said as he covered her body with his and started what would last till well after midnight before he let her body explode in pleasure harder than she ever had before.

Johnny woke up around five in the morning and stoked the fire. Walking over to the big bay window he looked out to see it was snowing. Walking back over to Teresa laying on the rug, half covered up by the blanket, her breast showing, he smiled as he removed his pants and laid down next to her. Spreading her legs apart, he slowly entered her as he devoured her breast.

Teresa slowly woke up and started responding to what he was doing. Arching her back up, wanting him to suckle on her harder as her hands played with his hair. Moaning as her body started craving more from him. Putting her hands on his shoulders, she pushed for him to go lower.

Johnny knew what she wanted, and he was more than willing to give her that. Pulling out he started kissing his way down to the inside of her thigh as he rubbed her mound. He could feel his hardness throbbing, waning release, wanting to be back inside her. Claiming her with his mouth, he brought her to climax before  shoving his hardness in. Thrusting hard and fast until he released his seed deep inside her.


Rolling off Teresa he placed his right hand on her stomach and smiled. ” It’s December first, three months from now you’ll have a life growing inside you. ”

Teresa rolled onto her side to face him. ” No I won’t. ” she said with a smile. ” I’m already carrying your son. ”

Johnny raised up. ” What…..why didn’t you tell me? ”

” I was going totell you tonight, but when I seen what you did for a romantic evening, I couldn’t. ” she said. ” Are you mad at me? ”

” Mad at you……No. You just gave me the best news I could ever have. ” he said. ” When? ”

” Late April, early May. ” she said as she snuggled up next to him.

Scott rode into Spanish Wells and dismounted in front of Sam’s. Walking up to the door, he knocked and waited.

Sam opened his door and stared in disbelief at who was standing there.

” Hello Sam. ” Scott said softly.

” What are you doing here? ” he asked.

” Visiting an old friend. ” he responded. ” How are you? ”

” I’m fine. ” Sam said as he stepped aside and allowed Scott to enter his home. ” Why did you come back? ”

” I have my reasons. ” he said. ” I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over winter and decided I needed to come back and set things straight with my family. ”

” I seen how you set things straight with Johnny the day you left. ” Sam said with anger. ”

” That’s one of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about lately Sam. ” he said. ” I know how wrong I was now and I want to talk to Johnny and Murdoch about what happened. Try to make right what I put wrong. ”

” Where’s your wife now? ” Sam asked.

” She’s dead. ” Scott responded. ” She was coming home with grandfather when the horse spooked and flipped the carriage. My wife, grandfather and my six month old son were all killed. ”

” Oh my god……I’m sorry for your loss Scott. ” he said. ” As for putting right what you did wrong…’s too late. ”

” I won’t know that until I talk to them Sam. All I can do is try. ”

” Listen, I think you should stay away. Johnny has moved on with his life now. You hurt him in the worst way possible. ”

” Why do I get the feeling there’s something you want to tell me Sam, but won’t. ”

” I was just on my way to see a patient of mine when you showed up. ”

” Sam? ”

” It’s not my place to say. Now please leave. ”

Scott knew it was serious for Sam to be so short with him. ” Alright…..I’ll leave Sam. It was good to see you again. ” he said before leaving.

Sam stood there looking at his front door. ” God help you if you go to that ranch. ” he said as he picked up his bag and opened the front door to leave. ” It would have been better if you hadn’t come back. ”

Scott rode out of Spanish Wells and headed southwest toward Lancer.

Agatha Conway came downstairs with a baby in her arms. ” Congratulations Johnny. ” she said.

” Teresa? ”

” She’s fine, tired, but fine. ” she said.

” Would you like to hold your son? ” Aggie asked.

” I have a son ? ” Johnny asked.

” Yes you do. ” she said as she handed the tiny baby to him.

Johnny couldn’t believe he was finally holding his firstborn son. Looking at him, he couldn’t believe how tiny his fingers were. ” He’s so tiny. ”

” Sam said he came into this world just like his father, fast and is the same size you were. ” Agatha said.  ” Why don’t you take your son upstairs to his mother. ”

Johnny walked upstairs to their bedroom. ” She alright Sam? ”

” Teresa is fine.” Sam said as he dried his hands.

” There’s my two men. ” Teresa said with a smile.

Johnny walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed. Leaning over he gave Teresa a kiss. ” Thank you for our son. ”

” You’re welcome. ” she said.

” Young lady, I want you to rest for at least a day before you get out of that bed and try to go downstairs. ” Sam ordered.

” She will Sam. ” Johnny said.

” This from a man who is harder than oak to get to stay in bed when injured? ” Sam asked as he walked toward the door. ” I’ll stop by in a day or two and check on you. You start having any pain in your abdomen, send for me. ”

” I will Sam. ” she said.

” Now I get to make you stay in bed. ” Johnny said with a grin. ” I told you I would get you pregnant that night. ”

” What night is that? ” she asked as she started feeding the baby.

” Our son needs a name. That night December first in the grand room. ”

” Yes you did. ” she said before yawning. ” You chose your son’s name. ”

Johnny watched his son suckling on her breast. ” Just like me. ” he said. ” Michael because he is a gift from God. ”

”Yes he is. Well Michael, welcome to the family little man. ” Teresa said with a smile.

Johnny walked out of the house into the yard and noticed a lone rider on the hill overlooking Lancer. ” Hey Walt, take Jim with you and check that fence in the north pasture would you? ” he asked. ” After the hard winter we just had, there’s bound to be fence down. ”

” Sure thing. ” Walt said.  ” So far we’ve lost a hundred head due to the winter. You might want to have the vet come check some others. They’re pretty sickly looking.  I had them separated from the others. ”

” Alright. I stop by when I go into town and talk to him. If a hundred head is all we lose I guess we’re lucky. ” Johnny said as he looked up on the hill and noticed the lone rider was gone.

” How’s Teresa and your son doing? ” Walt feeling.

” What…. Oh she’s good. ”

” I’m happy for you Johnny. ” Walt said.

” Thanks. Come back and get what’s needed if any fence is down. ”

” You got it boss. ” Walt said before mounting up and riding out.

” Frank, take Pedro with you, ride out and check the foot bridge. ”

” Okay. What about spring round-up? We still doing that at the South Mesa line-shack? ” Frank asked.

” Yeah. I’ll ride out tomorrow and check it out to see what needs repaired. ” Johnny said as a feeling he couldn’t explain came over him.

” When do you want to start rounding up horses? ” Frank asked as he mounted up.

” Once I hear from the army on if they are still wanting horses. The harsh winter we just had, I have a feeling killed a lot of stock. ” Johnny said before heading back inside.

Scott rode up to the house and dismounted. Looking around he was impressed with the changes he seen. Walking up to the door, he stopped from opening it and knocked.

Teresa walked into the grand room. ” Supper will be ready in an hour. ” she said as someone knocked on the door.  Walking over to the door, she opened it. ” Scott! ” she said softly.

” I know I’m not welcome, but I had to come. I have to set things right with Johnny and Murdoch. ” Scott said. ” Can I come in? ”

” Scott…..”

Johnny stood up and walked over to the front door. ” What the hell! You got some nerve coming back here. ” he demanded as he stepped in front of Teresa.

” I don’t blame you for being angry with me brother. ” Scott said.

Johnny hit Scott hard in the mouth, knocking him back against a veranda support. ” Don’t you call me brother because we share our old man’s blood. You mean nothing to me anymore. ”

” Johnny don’t! ” Teresa yelled.

” I didn’t come here to fight with you again Johnny. ” Scott said. ” I came to see our father. To try and make things right again. ”

” Make things right, you’re a little late for that……brother. ” Johnny said with anger.

Teresa grabbed Johnny by the arm. ” Stop it…….stop it right now you here…….brothers fighting……You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

” He said enough the day he left Teresa. ” Johnny said with anger before turning and going into the grand room.

” Scott, come inside. ” Teresa said before turning and walking over to Johnny. ” Now you listen to me Johnny Lancer, Scott came all this way so you are going to listen to what he has to say. If you don’t, then you will hate yourself. ”

Johnny knew Teresa was right. Walking over to the sideboard he poured two shots and offered one to Scott. ” You’ll need this. ”

Scott walked over and took the drink. ” When will Murdoch be back? ”

Johnny looked at Teresa and then at Scott. ” He’s not coming back. He’s dead. ”

Scott felt like he was kicked in the gut by a mule. With a shaky voice he asked. ” Dead….how….when? ”

” Almost two years ago late summer. ” Teresa said. ” He had a bad heart attack. There was nothing Sam could do. He died in Johnny’s arms. ”

Scott looked at his brother and could see the hurt in his eyes. ” He can’t be gone.”

” Oh believe it….he’s gone, and you helped kill him. I watched that man die a little more every day from the time you left, until his heart gave out. Every day he would look up on that hill hoping to see you coming back home, and every damn day he died a little more. He finally realized you weren’t coming back after two years. ” Johnny said as he tried to keep his anger in check. ” You remember what you said tome that day……brother? You told me I’m nothing more than the half-breed bastard son of a whore. The only reason I didn’t fight back that day was because I made a promise to Murdoch I wouldn’t fight you……Right now I……..Right now I want to beat the hell out of you. ” Johnny said before walking out of the house.

Scott walked over and sat down on the couch. Covering his face with his hands, he cried.

” Give him some time to cool off Scott. I want you to stay until this is resolved between you two. ” she said firmly.

” He doesn’t want me here Teresa. I’ve caused enough pain in his life. ”

” He’s missed you terribly Scott. Sometimes late at night when he’s lying next to me, I hear him calling for you. ”

” Where is Murdoch buried? ” Scott asked.

” On the hill under the oak tree overlooking Lancer. ” she said. ” That’s probably where Johnny went. He goes there to talk to Murdoch sometimes. It really tore him up losing him. ”

” I’ll stay the night and see how things go. ” Scott said. ” I’m going to go stable my horse.”

Johnny sat down in the fresh green grass at his father’s grave and pulled some weeds from around the headstone. ” I’m sorry I didn’t make it up here much during winter. The snow was so deep, it was hard to even go to town.  I had a  feeling it was going to be a hard winter by the way the animals were acting, so I had the cattle brought down. We’re lucky from what I’ve heard and read in the papers.  That’s not why I came up here. I came up here because I have a problem and  I don’t know what to do Murdoch. Scott came back and……I know I probably shouldn’t have hit him, but I was so angry. Not for what he did to me that day. I’m angry at Scott for the way he hurt you. I watched every day how his leaving was killing you. I need you pa, I need you to tell me what to do. ” he said as he dropped his head and the tears began to fall. Sitting there Johnny suddenly looked around. Someone had touched him on his left shoulder. Standing up, he seen there was nobody around, nobody he could see. Then something his father said to him once popped into his head. Looking up at the blue sky, Johnny smiled. ” Thanks pa. ” he said before mounting up and heading back to the house.

Frank walked out of the barn and stopped. He couldn’t believe who he seen walk out of the house.  ” Oh lord. ” he said as Scott walked over to him..

” Hello Frank. ” Scott said as he extended his hand.

Frank ignored the offered hand. ” You got some nerve coming back here after what you’ve done. ”

Scott lowered his hand. ” I came back because of what I did.” Scott said before starting to walk away.

Frank grabbed Scott’s right arm and spun him around. ” Let me tell you something. You do anything to hurt Johnny again…..You’ll answer to me. ”

” Frank! ” Johnny said firmly as he rode up and dismounted. ” Stable our horses would you, and give his some extra grain. He looks like he could use it. ”

Scott removed his rifle and saddlebags. ” I have no intention of hurting him Frank. He’s been hurt enough. ”

” Thanks. ” Johnny said as he handed the reins over to his friend. ” You know where the wash room is if you want to clean up before supper. You can use your old bedroom. ” Johnny said before heading inside.

” So what did you do, take the train from Boston? ” Johnny asked as they sat down in the grand room after eating supper.

” I did until Wyoming. Had to go south from Cheyenne due to winter snows being so deep the trains can’t get thru. Stage is getting thru easier. ” Scott said. ” I’ve never seen so many dead cows Johnny. The streets in towns, out across the prairies is just littered with carcasses.  The snow was six feet deep in places if not more. ”

” We had more than our share here. Hasn’t been a winter like we just had in fifty years Sam said when he was here for Christmas dinner. He was just a boy when they got almost twenty feet of snow in two days. ” Johnny said.

” I don’t think Boston has ever got that much snow in a season. ” Scott said.

” So why isn’t your wife with you? ”

Scott sat back in his chair and fought back the tears that threatened to well up in his eyes.

” Scott.” Teresa said ” I would like you to meet your nephew, Michael Lancer. ”

Scott stood up and looked at the bundle Teresa was holding. ” May I ? ”

” Of course. ” Teresa said as she handed him the baby.

” I had a son named Michael also. ” Scott said. ” Ann chose that name because it means a gift from God. ”

” That’s why Johnny chose it too. ”

” You said had a son! You and Ann split up? ”

” She was killed along with my son and grandfather. ” Scott said as he handed the baby back to Teresa. ” Fireworks spooked the carriage horse. It took a curve too fast and flipped over several times killing them. ”

Johnny stared at his brother in shock at what he heard. ” Scott…..I’m….”

” I know. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking Johnny, thinking about everything that happened from the time Ann came here. Mainly I’ve been thinking about what she said happened between you and her. I was a fool that first time. Now I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness, and I’m not asking you to forgive me unless you want too. Both times she went to you. Now I know you never seen her that day I…….If had happened, and I’m by no means saying it did, but why would she ride out to where you were working when there are plenty of places she could have went. Even as I……you kept telling me you had not seen her and didn’t do it. Johnny, I don’t know what came over me that day. I said things to you I had no right saying to you. I had no right speaking to Murdoch the way I did. I left you laying out there, and you could have died because I was a fool. ” Scott said as he stood up and walked over to the sideboard and poured two shots of tequila.

Johnny stood up and walked over to his brother. ” You remember what Murdoch said to me that first time about my mother? ”

” Not exactly. ”

” He said it’s past. Bad or good, right or wrong, it’s past and gone. ” he said as he handed Scott one of the shots of tequila. ” What happened between us is in the past. From this moment on…. we can only go forward and not look back. ”

” Some of the memories are worth looking back on. ” Scott said.

” Can I ask what your plans are? ” Johnny asked.

” I sold all of grandfather’s businesses and left the house to Charles.” he said. ” I thought I would look for a piece of property with a house and barn. ”

” Why don’t you live here. ” Johnny suggested. ” I can’t make you a part owner, but Murdoch didn’t say anything in his will about you not living here. ”

” Lancer is yours, you’ve earned it Johnny. ”Scott said. ” I don’t think the hands who know me, who know what happened that day would be happy I came back and was living here again. ”

” Frank was just looking out for me. Look, you don’t have to work, you can just……be an uncle to my son. ”

”I can’t live here and not work Johnny. ”

” You are one stubborn …… Alright, how about this. I know the army is going to need horses after the winter we just had. Now I have a set crew for rounding up and breaking…..What I haven’t been able to get is someone to ramrod. You feel up to that job? I’ll pay a dollar a day, plus board and meals from the best cook in the San Joaquin. ” Johnny said.

” Sounds good, but on one condition. ” Scott said.

” I work alongside these men so we get to know each other before the drive. ”

” Alright. Your crew is Frank, Charlie, Jim, Pedro, Will, Carl and Jess. ” Johnny explained. ” Will and Jess joined last fall, they’re brothers who came here from Texas. Jim and Carl have been with me almost two years now and you already know Frank, Walt, Charlie and Pedro. ”

” I think I’m going to feed this little man and put him to bed. ” Teresa said as she stood up and walked over to them. ” Don’t stay up too late. ”

Johnny gave Michael a kiss on the forehead before kissing Teresa. ” I’ll be to bed shortly. ”

”  Goodnight Teresa. ” Scott said.

” So just like that he comes back here and we’re all supposed to be okay with that? ” Frank demanded.

” Look, Frank, you and Walt have been here longer than anyone else, so saying this to you isn’t easy. You can either work with my brother or leave. It’s that simple. ” Johnny said firmly.

” And who’s to say he hasn’t come back here to try and steal Lancer from you? ” Carl asked.

” Why my brother came back here is of no concern of yours. ” Johnny said firmly. ” Why I am letting him stay here is also none of your business. So I suggest you get your asses out there and do the work you’re being paid to do……now! ”

” You got no call getting all uppity with us Johnny. We’ve been here since before you came home. ” Charlie snapped back. ” We were busting our asses while you were making a living as Johnny Madrid. ”

” I’ll let that slide this time out of respect for my father resting up on that hill. ” Johnny said as he stepped up closer to Charlie. ” But hear me…..all of you…..You challenge my authority again and I will fire your ass. ”

” And it’s because of the respect I have for your father that I don’t tell you just what I really think of you.” Charlie spat back.

” Go ahead and say what you want. ” Johnny said.

” Alright I will. You’re the reason Murdoch died of a heart attack. Every day he worried someone would come here and get an innocent person on this ranch killed trying to kill you. You’re nothing more than a half-breed sonofabitch, and you can go to hell. ” Charlie spat.

” Get the hell off my land……now! ” Johnny ordered. ” Walt, hes got two weeks’ pay coming. Go ask Teresa to give you twelve dollars. ”

” Yes sir. ” Walt said before heading to the house.

” Anyone else? ” he asked with anger. When nobody else spoke up he spoke again. ” Any man who’s not happy with how something is done, come to me. I want to know and the only way I will know is if you tell me. I don’t want any man getting hurt. ”

” We understand Johnny. ” Frank said.

” Are you really Johnny Madrid? ” Will Tanner asked.

Johnny ignored him, turned and went back inside the house.

” Frank….is he? ”

” Johnny used to be, but hasn’t since coming home some ten years ago. You’ll do good to not ask him about it ever again. It’s a part of his past he wants to forget about. ”

” Scott, why did Charlie quit? ” Teresa asked as they headed back home from visiting the Conway ranch with the baby.

” Frank said he decided to challenge Johnny’s authority. ” he said as he stopped the buggy as two riders with burlap sacks over their heads appeared in the middle of the road ahead of them. Both men’s guns drawn and aimed at them.

” What do they want Scott? ”

” I don’t know. ” he said.

” No! ” Teresa screamed as one of the men shot Scott, then  rode over to the buggy, aimed his pistol at her and cocked it. Stopping when Michael cried.

” You’re lucky lady. That kid just saved you. ” he said before riding off.

” He just shot him. ” Teresa sobbed as she held the baby.  ” Shot him and then they laughed.

” Did you get a look at them? ” Johnny asked.

” No, they had a burlap sack over their head. ”

” Teresa, I know this is hard, but I need you to try and remember anything you can about him……Anything at all? ” Johnny asked. as Frank came into the house.

” Johnny I don’t know. ” she said with anger. ” He shot Scott….rode over to the buggy, aimed his gun at me, cocked it, and then laughed when Michael started crying. He said I was lucky. That the kid just saved me before riding off. ”

Johnny clenched his teeth, his jaw muscles flexing as he tried to control his anger. Reaching out, he pulled her into a hug. ” I’m sorry querida…..I don’t know what I would do if  I lost you and our son. ”

Frank walked thru the veranda door. ” Johnny, can I speak to you? ”

” I love you. ” he said before giving her a kiss. ” I’ll be right back. ”

” We found where Scott was shot. ” Frank said after they were outside. ” We found two sets of tracks from there up into the hills and then lost them. ”

” I find out who it is, they’re not going to jail Frank. I’m going to kill them. They shot my brother, and terrorized my wife. I’m going to send them both to hell. ”

Sam came downstairs. ” I removed the bullet. It missed the bone. He won’t be able to move the arm for a while. ”

” Will he be alright? ” Johnny asked.

” He’ll be fine John. I want him to stay in bed for a couple days to get his strength back. ”

” Can I see him? ”

” Of course. ”

” Thank you Sam. ” Teresa said. ” You must be hungry. Let me get you something to eat. ”

” Thank you. How’s this little man doing? ” he asked as he took Michael from her.

” He has an appetite like his father. ” she said as they walked into the kitchen.

” He’s four months old now. It won’t be long and he’ll be crawling, and then walking. ” Sam said.

” If he’s anything like his father, I have a feeling I will be chasing him around. ” Teresa said. ” Murdoch told me how he had to chase Johnny once he started walking. ”

” I remember John got out of the house once, Murdoch and Maria were frantically searching all over the house for him. They finally found him curled up in a stall with a mare and her newborn foal. ” Sam said with a laugh. ” Murdoch had a hard time getting him out of the stall. That mare was very protective of him. ”

” He does have a way with horses. ” she said as she set a plate of food down.

” Hey brother. I was wondering when you would wake up. ” Johnny said.

” Teresa…..the baby? ” Scott asked as he tried to get up.

” Easy, take it easy. They’re fine. Whoever shot you didn’t hurt them. ” Johnny said as he poured a glass of water. ” Drink some water. ”

” Thanks. How long I been out? ”

” Two days. Sam said you’re going to be alright. ” Johnny said as he set the glass down. ” I’m sorry Scott. ”

” For what? ”

” You were shot because of me. ”

” Do you know that for sure? ”

” No. ”

” Don’t blame yourself for something out of your control brother. ” Scott said. ” I did that when I lost my family back in Boston. I kept telling myself it was my fault they died. That if I had been with them, they would still be alive. Truth is, I would be dead also. ”

” We’ve both had our share of loss. ” Johnny said.

” You said you have your suspicions on who shot me. Promise me you won’t do anything foolish if you find out who it was. ”

” They’re going to pay Scott. They shot you, I can’t just let that go. Besides, remember what Murdoch said? ”

” No, what did he say? ” Scott asked.

” He said Lancer takes care of its own. ” Johnny aid as he headed to the door. ” I’ll let Teresa know you’re awake. ”

Scott watched his brother leave the room. ” I can see it in your eyes. Don’t cross that line brother. ”

Johnny stood looking out the big bay window thinking about who could have shot his brother and why. It had been two weeks since Scott had been shot. Was it someone trying to get at him? Someone from his past? All he had were questions and no answers.

” Johnny. ” Teresa said softly.

Johnny turned and walked back over to the desk and sat down. ” I don’t want you leaving this house until we catch whoever shot Scott. ” he said firmly. ” I won’t have my wife and son taken from me. ”

” Are you alright? ” she asked.

” I’m fine. ”

” I don’t think you are. You’ve hardly slept since Scott was shot. You’re course with the men. ” she said. ” You’ve yelled at me. You can’t keep going like this. ”

Johnny sat back in his chair and looked at her. Standing up he walked over to her and pulled her into a hug. ” I’m sorry querida. I never meant to hurt you. ” he said. ” I just hate that I don’t know who or why. ”

” I know. ” she said.

Johnny lowered his lips to hers and kissed her. ” I love you so much. I am so lucky to have you in my life. ”

” Am I interrupting? ” Scott asked as he slowly walked into the great room.

” Yeah. ” Johnny said with a laugh. ” How’s the arm feeling? ”

” Good. I now know how you feel on being unable to do anything. ”

Johnny couldn’t help but laugh. ” If you’re that bored I have plenty of book work that needs caught up on. ”

” I can do that if you want. ” Scott said. ” You still do it the same way Murdoch did? ”

” I do. ” Johnny said as he walked over to the desk and pulled the book and receipts out. ” I’ll be outside if you need me. ”


Chapter 4

Teresa climbed up in the buggy, reaching to take Michael from Johnny, she stopped as she watched two riders ride past them. Fear overcame her, and she started to shake.

Johnny noticed his wife sudden change as she watched the two riders ride past them. ” Teresa, what’s wrong? ” he asked as he handed her the baby.

” That horse…..Johnny that’s one of the horses the man who shot Scott was riding! ” she said with tears in her eyes.

Johnny looked and couldn’t see the riders, but the horses, one was a bay mare with two white socks on the front feet. The other horse stood out though with his dark sorrel color, white mane and tail. ” Which one? ” he asked.

” The one with the white mane and tail. ” she said. ” I’m positive that’s the horse Johnny. ”

Johnny walked around the buggy and watched the two riders stop at the saloon, dismount and go inside. ” Stay here. ” he said.

” Johnny don’t. Please! ” Teresa pleaded. ” Don’t go in there alone. ”

Johnny stopped and looked at her, seeing the fear in her eyes. ” I’m not going to let them ride out of this town. ”

” And what about us? What if you go in there and get yourself killed. ” she demanded.

Johnny climbed up in the buggy and slapped reins, taking off.

Johnny seen Pedro riding toward them and stopped the buggy.

” Hi Johnny, Mrs. Teresa. ” Pedro said.

Johnny got down from the buggy. ” Get down, I need your horse. ”

” Sure Johnny. ” he said as he dismounted.

” Johnny please don’t go! ” Teresa pleaded.

” Take them home. ” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle. ” I have to Teresa. ” he said before riding back to town.

” What’s wrong? ” Pedro asked.

” He’s going after the man who shot Scott. ” she said. ” We need to get back to the ranch and send men to help him. ”

Pedro slapped the reins and took off.  Ten minutes later they came into the yard and stopped as Scott came out of the house.

” Where’s Johnny? ” he asked.

” He took my horse and went back to town. ” Pedro said.

” I recognized the horse of the man who shot you. ” Teresa said. ” Him and another man are in the saloon in Spanish Wells. ”

” Frank…..Walt! ” Scott yelled.

Johnny rode back into Spanish Wells, dismounting in front of the saloon. Stepping inside the bat-wing doors, he looked around before walking to the bar.

” Hey Johnny. ” Mac said. ” Haven’t seen you in a long time. ”

Johnny glanced at Mac, then noticed the two men sitting in the far corner of the saloon playing cards.

Mac watched Johnny walk toward the table in the corner. He could tell trouble was coming, and the man to bring that trouble was Johnny Madrid, not Johnny Lancer. Reaching under the bar, he pulled out his cut-down shotgun and walked down to the end of the bar to wait. He knew Johnny wouldn’t come into his saloon as Madrid, a man he hadn’t been in a long time, unless there was a good reason.

Johnny walked up to the table and looked at the men sitting at the table playing poker. ” Which one of you is riding the sorrel horse with the white mane and tail? ”

Tom Bell and Ben Daniels looked up as the other three players who knew Johnny got up and moved away from the table.

” Why would you look at that Bell! ” Daniels said. ” I guess we heard wrong, the half-breed ain’t dead. ”

” Yeah, you know, it must be those seven years we spent in Yuma busting rocks in the desert sun. ” Bell said. ” Messed with our hearing. ”

” You two made a big mistake coming here. Stand up! ”

” And if we don’t? ” Daniels asked.

” You don’t and this here shotgun is going to cut you both down in size. ” Mac said as he pulled both hammers back.

Scott galloped into town with Frank and Walt. Dismounting, he went to his brother. ” Don’t do this Johnny. ” Scott pleaded.

” Tom Bell and Ben Daniels, you ambushed my brother and shot him…….Then you pointed your gun at my wife and son.  Spanish Wells ain’t got no jail or law, so we’re going to take you both to Stockton. ” Johnny said. ” San Quentin will be close enough to hell for the likes of you two. ”

” I ain’t going back to no prison. ” Bell said as he went for his gun.

Johnny drew and fired before Bell could clear leather. His bullet slicing thru the mans shoulder, causing him to drop his gun. Walking over to the man as he holstered his colt. ” I should have killed you both that day. ” Johnny said with a tone as cold as ice.

” Frank, Walt take this piece of shit over to Sam so he can get doctored up. ” Scott ordered.

” We’ll meet again Madrid. I owe you for seven years of my life. ” Bell spat as he was taken to see Sam.

” Johnny, it’s late. You can lock them both up in a small storage room in the back if you want. ” Mac said. ” Ain’t no windows and only one door to the room. ”

” I’ll have some shackles made up and ready for you by morning Johnny. ” Carl the blacksmith said.

Teresa came outside as Johnny and Scott rode up to the house and dismounted. Relief washed over her when she seen them riding under the Lancer arch. ” What happened? ” she asked.

” They’re locked up in a storage room waiting to be taken to jail in Stockton. ” Scott said as Johnny ignored Teresa and walked inside. ” Frank, have someone ride in and relieve Walt around midnight. I’ll come in in the morning. ”

” I’ll go back in Scott. ” Frank said before taking the horses to the barn.

” Michael asleep? ” Scott asked.

” No, he’s inside playing. ” she said.

” Why don’t I take my nephew for a walk down to the corrals before dark while you and Johnny talk. ” Scott suggested. ” I don’t know what happened between the two of you earlier, but it needs to be resolved. ”

Johnny downed a shot of tequila and poured another one as he watched his brother come in and pick up Michael. ” Where you going? ”

” Me and my nephew are going to take a walk while you and Teresa work out whatever is wrong between the two of you. ” Scott said as he started to the door. ” Those two men…..they from your past ? ”

” I’m sorry Scott. ”

Scott could see in his brothers eyes how much it was hurting him knowing his brother was shot by men from his past. ” You owe me a why. ” he said before walking out of the house with Michael.

Johnny stood watching his wife walk into the great room, stop and look at him for a minute before going to their bedroom. Sighing, he headed to the bedroom to talk to her. Opening the door, he found Teresa sitting on the bed with her head down. He could tell she was crying. Walking over he knelt down in front of her, took her hands in his and kissed the back of them. ” I’m sorry. I was so angry at those men for what they did…..I wanted to…….I shot the one who shot Scott. ” he said. ” But only because he tried to draw on me. ”

Teresa looked up at him with tears in her eyes. ” So you killed him? ”

” No. I shot him in the shoulder. They’ll be going to San Quentin for what they did. ” he responded. ” Scott wired the marshal to come get them. ”

” Johnny….you have a wife and son now. I can understand and respect you wanting to hurt them for what they did, but you have to think about us now. I want many years with you. I want you to be able to watch your children grow up. I don’t want you in the ground up on that hill next to Murdoch. ” she said as she hastily wiped at her tears.

Johnny placed his right hand under her chin. ” Hear me when I say this querida. I won’t stand by and let anyone hurt my family. ”

” I can respect that Johnny, but what I seen in your eyes…….I never seen you become Madrid before. It’s like you were a whole different person, yet still my husband. ” she said.

” I’m sorry. ” Johnny said as he wiped away a tear with his thumb. ” Do you still love me? ”

Teresa put her arms around his neck. ” I want you to make love to me tonight. ” she said.

” You sure? ” he asked.

” I’m ready. ” she responded with a smile.

Johnny walked out into the great room forty five minutes later to find Scott sitting on the floor with Michael. ” There’s my little man. ” Johnny said as he walked over and sat down.

” Everything alright? ” Scott asked.

” Yeah…..we had a good talk. She’s never seen me change to Madrid before. ” Johnny said as he picked Michael up and placed him in his lap. ” When are you going to start crawling? ”

” He’s going to skip crawling and go right to walking like Murdoch said you did. ” Teresa said as she walked into the room.

” Don’t feel bad brother. Grandfather said I did the same thing. ” Scott said with a smile as he watched Johnny whisper something in his sons ear and smile.

” Sharing secrets with your son already? ” Scott asked.

” Not really. I was just asking him if he would like a little brother or sister. ” Johnny replied.

” I remember Murdoch telling me once before you boys came home how he wanted this house full of grandchildren. ” Teresa said as she sat down.

” Well I tried my luck at marriage and family. I’ll leave it to you little brother. ” Scott said as he stood up and walked over to the sideboard.

Johnny looked at Teresa. ” So you have no plans to try again? ”

” I can’t go thru that loss again Johnny. ”

” Scott, that was……..”

” Teresa, I know what you are going to say and I appreciate it. I know it probably won’t happen again, but I won’t take that chance. ” Scott cut in and said. ” I think I’ll turn in early. Frank is going in to relieve Walt at midnight. I’ll relieve him at six and wait on a response from the marshal. ”

” I’ll come in in the morning. ” Johnny said.

” Goodnight Scott. ” Teresa said.

” Goodnight. ” Scott said before heading upstairs.

” He’s falling asleep. ” Teresa said. ” Let me put him to bed. ”


Johnny followed her into their bedroom, closed the door and undressed while Teresa was busy putting Michael to bed. Walking up behind her when she was done, he turned her around and claimed her mouth with hunger as he started removing her clothes. ” God I want you so bad. ” he said as he started running his tongue down her neck.

” Oh my. ” Teresa said. ” Get in bed while I undress. ”

Johnny climbed in bed and watched Teresa undress. Every piece of clothing exciting him more as he watched. ” I love watching you undress querida. ”

Teresa smiled as she climbed in bed and straddled him exciting him more. Raising up, she took him in her hand and guided him to her entrance. Slowly she lowered herself on him as she leaned down and claimed his mouth.

Johnny moaned as he entered her. Tonight he would take her as many times as he could before the sun came up. Surprised by her straddling him, he liked it since it allowed his hands to do whatever they wanted, touch wherever they wanted. Thrusting up into her as she came down sending him deep into her. Raising up, he started sucking on her breast and immediately sent her into a climax so strong it was all he could do to keep from exploding with her.

Teresa moaned loudly as she threw her head back when Johnny started sucking on her breast. Every nerve in her body exploded with excitement. ” Oh Johnny! ” she said loudly as her body quivered and shook.

Johnny flipped Teresa over onto her back and put her right leg up on his shoulder as he started moving in and out of her slowly at first as his fingers rubbed her. Picking up her left leg, he put it on his shoulder and leaned forward and claimed her breast again as he started thrusting into her. The sound of bare skin slapping bare skin filling the room as they both became lost in what was happening. Sucking on her right breast as he squeezed her left one, he could feel her muscles tighten around him and knew she was close to exploding again. Raising up above her, he watched as her breast jiggled and moved with every thrust he made. Driven to having satisfaction he ground into her as hard as he could as he again attacked her breast with his mouth until they both exploded in a wave a ecstasy. Four times Johnny took Teresa before the sun started to show the first hints of light over the San Bonito’s. Rolling off her in total exhaustion he closed his eyes as he let his breathing slow down and his body calm down.


” Hey out there, Bell ain’t doing so good. ”  Daniels yelled.

Frank stood up and walked over to the door. ” What’s wrong with him? ”

” He’s burning up with fever. You gotta help him. ” Daniel responded. ” Come on, help him! ”

Frank placed his rifle on the bar and walked over to the storage door. ” What’s he doing? ”

” What do you mean what’s he doing……He’s burning up with fever, soaked in sweat, breathing funny. ” Daniels responded. ” You let him die it’s murder. ”

Frank pulled his pocket watch out and looked at the time. It would be sunup in three hours and Scott would be coming to relieve him.  ” It’ll be sunup in three hours. There’s nobody here but me until then. He’ll just have to wait until then. ”

” You bastard. He’s dying and you won’t help him. At least give me a bucket of water to try and cool him off. ”

Frank went behind the bar and got a bucket of water Mac had there. Unlocking the door, he opened it and went to set the bucket just inside the door when it flew open and he felt a sharp pain in his chest.

” Come on, lets’ get out of here. ” Daniels said.

Bell looked down at Frank a second before stepping over him. ” Real nice of ya. ” he said as he removed Frank’s gunbelt. 

Scott walked into the saloon with Mac  and could see the storage door open. Drawing his pistol, he cautiously walked closer. Seeing Frank laying on the floor, his chest covered in blood from a single stab wound to his heart.

” Oh dear lord. ” Mac said. ” Is he…….”

Scott checked Frank. ” He’s dead. ”

” Why in the world would he open the door? ” Mac asked.

” I don’t know. ” Scott said. ” Stay here, don’t let anyone in. I’ll go wake up the undertaker. ”

An hour later Frank’s body was removed from the saloon. Going outside, Scott found a crown had gathered demanding answers.

” Scott, their horses are gone from the stable. ” Stan, the livery owner said.

” I need five men ready to ride in ten minutes. ” Scott said.

Johnny dismounted in front of the saloon and looked around. Something was wrong. Something had happened. Seeing Sam, he crossed the street. ” What’s going on Sam? ” he asked.

” I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this John. Frank is dead. ” Sam said. ” Scott found him this morning. ”

Johnny felt like he was just kicked in the gut. ” Where’s Scott? ”

” He rode out with several men about six hours ago trying to track them down. ” Sam said.

” How? ”

” He was stabbed. ”

” Which way did they go? ”

” Scott thought maybe they would ride for the border, so he went east. ”

Johnny was furious nobody came and told him what had happened. Walking back across the street, he mounted Barranca and headed back to the house.

Scott rode into the Lancer yard and dismounted as the last rays of light disappeared. Handing his horse to Walt, he headed in the house.

” You find them? ” Johnny demanded.

” No. We rode hard to the mountains and found no sign of them. ” Scott responded.

” That’s because they’re still here. ” Johnny said. ” Bell is shot, he’s not going to be able to ride hard. They’re hold up somewhere close. ”

” Alright, then why don’t you tell me where? ” Scott asked sarcastically.

” Don’t take an attitude with me. ” Johnny said.

” With all due respect brother……I think I am more than entitled to have a little attitude over this since you are the reason I was shot. ”

” Stop it right now you two. ” Teresa ordered.

” She’s right….I’m sorry Johnny. ”

Johnny walked over to the sideboard and poured two shots, handing one to his brother. ” Teresa…..leave us. ”

Johnny walked over to the desk and sat down once Teresa left the room. ” Before I was captured by the Rurales, I worked this range war, property rights dispute. Nothing big, but it would give me extra money with winter coming on. The court ruled in his favor. Daniels and Bell were hired guns working for another rancher. After the court ruled against their boss, they retaliated by poisoning his water and burning down his barn, killing his stock. ” Johnny explained.

” I take it they were caught? ” Scott asked.

” By me. ” Johnny said. ” I testified against them and they should have been hung, but the judge decided to send them to Yuma for seven years busting rocks. ”

” Seven years, so they have been out of prison three years? ”  Scott asked.

” I guess. ” he said as he stood up and walked over to the sideboard to pour another shot. ” I can just hear the old man now if he was still alive. ”

” Don’t go there brother because I don’t blame you for this. ” Scott said as he walked over to him. ” You did what was right. You had no way of knowing they would find you, and seek revenge. ”

” You need a doctor. ” Ben said as he changed the bandage.

” I’m going to kill that sonofabitch. ” Tom spat before taking a swig from the bottle of whiskey.

” And just how you plan on doing that when you can’t even hold a gun? ”

” He’ll be the one coming after us. ” Bell said.

” I got a better idea. ” Daniels said. ” You need a doctor, so I’m going to get you that one back in Spanish Wells.  If they want their doctor back alive, they’ll deliver Madrid to us. ”

” Alright, you go fetch that doc back here. ” Bell said.

” I’ll leave at dark. ”  Daniels said.

” Hold your horses, I’m coming. ” Sam said as he opened his door. ” What is so……”

” Don’t do anything stupid doc. ”Daniels ordered as he forced his way inside and shit the door. ” You get your bag and what you’ll need to doctor my friend Bell. ”

Sam put everything he thought he would need in his bag. ” They will hang you for killing Frank. ”

” Shut up. You put pen to paper and leave a note. You tell whoever finds it to bring Johnny Madrid to us. ” Daniels ordered.

” John…….You’re doing this to get to Johnny Madrid? ” Sam asked as he wrote. ”Bring him to where? ”

” We’ll let them know where once you doctor my friend up. I got a horse waiting. Let’s go. ”

Scott came downstairs with his saddlebags as someone started pounding on the front door. ” Now who could that be this early in the morning?” he asked as he opened the door to find Mac, the saloon owner, a shop owner named Stan and the blacksmith Carl standing there.  ” What are you doing here?”

” Where’s that brother of yours? ” Stan demanded.

” What do you want to see Johnny about? ” Scott asked.

” Doc Jenkins……..Those two bastards who killed Frank took him last night. They left this note. ” Mac said as he handed the note to Scott as Johnny walked into the room.

” It seems they want you brother.” Scott said. ” They’ll let us know when and where you’re to meet. ”

” We deliver you, they’ll let doc go. ” Carl said.

” What…..No! ” Teresa said.

” Note says they’ll contact us when you’re to meet them and you’re to go alone. ” Stan said.

” If you think I’m going to let my brother meet them alone! ” Scott said.

” Certainly not. ” Mac said. ” But what can we do? ”

” Yeah, we don’t know where or when. ” Stan said.

” Bell needs doctoring is why they took Sam. ” Johnny said. ” They’re using him to get to me. ”

” What are you going to do? ” Mac asked.

” Exactly what they want. ” he responded.

” Sam’s buggy and horse are still at the livery. ” Carl said.

” Probably made him ride. Hitching up his buggy would have brought attention they don’t want. Not to mention it would leave tracks easy to follow, and be slow going.”  Johnny suggested. ” With the weather, they’re most likely holed up somewhere they’ll stay dry. ”

” But where? ”Mac asked.

” Bell is wounded. That’s how they got Frank to open the door. ” Johnny said.

” What are you going to do? ” Carl asked.

” There’s only a few places they can hold up out of the weather. ” Johnny responded as they  headed outside.

” Johnny. ” Teresa called.

Johnny stopped. ” Take Walt and Pedro, check out those empty mines at the north end of Lancer property. ” Johnny said. ” I’ll check out the Simple and Mendoza places. ”

” Alone? ” Scott asked.

” No, I’ll take the Tanner brothers, Will and Jess with me. ” Johnny said. ” Seth, I want two men on the roof keeping a lookout at all times.  Hank, I want you standing guard at the front. ”

” Johnny, that’s not necessary. ” Teresa said.

” Yes it is. You are not to leave the house for anything. I want you and our son staying inside until this is over. ” Johnny ordered.

” Why…….why are these men after you? ” she demanded.

” Because I sent them to Yuma prison for seven years. ” Johnny said before heading outside.

” It’s infected. ” Sam said. ” I need to open it, clean the wound and stitch it back up. ”

” Just do what you need to do. ” Bell ordered.

” I don’t know why I’m bothering to. You’re planning on going up against Johnny Madrid.” Sam said. ” Lay down on the bed. He’ll kill you this time and quite frankly I hope he does. ”

Daniels grabbed Sam and yanked him up. ” Madrid cost us seven years of our lives in that hell hole prison. We will kill him and you can watch him die. ”

” You don’t scare me. ” Sam said. ” It’s you I will be watching die. ”

Daniels hit Sam upside the head, knocking him to the floor.

” Knock it off Ben. I need him to be able to fix my wound. ” Bell ordered. ” Once we kill Madrid, you can do whatever you want to him. ”

” I’ll be watching you real close doc, so don’t go making his pain to much. ” Daniels ordered.

Johnny walked in the house to find Scott back. ” Anything? ”

” Nothing. We checked all three mines. Nobody has been there in a long time. The shack at the Lorelei mine is collapsed, so it’s not usable. ”

” Mendoza and the Simpleton place had nothing as well. ” Johnny said as Teresa walked into the room.

” Where’s my little man? ” Johnny asked.

” You riding into town tonight? ” Scott asked.

” Yeah. Is Michael asleep? ”

” He is. ” she said.

” Scott….I want you to ride in with me. I’m going to stop and have Carl put a bar shoe on one of Barranca’s feet. It will make it easier for you to track me and not have to be close enough to be seen. ”

Johnny  headed into the bedroom to see his son before leaving. Bending down, he kissed him softly on the head. ” I’ll see you soon little man. ” he said before walking back out into the great room.

” Please be careful. ” Teresa said with tears in her eyes.

” Hey, I’ll be back…..I promise. ” Johnny said before kissing her. ” I have to keep my promise to my son and get him a little brother or sister. ”

” You better pray Madrid comes back with me. “” Daniels said. ” He don’t, you won’t see the sun set. ”

” Don’t screw this up. ” Bell said.

” You gonna be able to handle him while I’m gone? ”

” He won’t go nowhere. ” he said. ” He can’t outrun a bullet. ”

” I have no intention of leaving. ” Sam said. ” I fully intend on watching Johnny Madrid kill the both of you. ”

Daniels drew his pistol and put the barrel under Sam’s chin. ” I’m going to kill Madrid real slow just so you can watch him beg me for mercy. ”

” You don’t scare me. ” Sam said.

” Go get Madrid. ” Bell ordered.

Scott sat in the saloon sipping on a beer with his brother, waiting. ” The damn rain is going to make it hard for you to track me. ” Johnny said.

” I have a feeling he’s going to have you meet him someplace and then go to where they have Sam. ” Scott suggested.

” There’s only one person I trust with my life Boston. ”

” I can say the same brother. ” Scott said. ” I won’t let you down. ”

” I hate this waiting. ” Johnny said as Timmy Carter came into the saloon.

” Johnny, a man just gave this to me. He said to give it to you only. ” the boy said.

” Thanks. ” he said as he took the note and gave the boy a dollar. Reading the note as he stood up. ” Meet him at Salt Canyon . I’ll see you brother. ”

Scott stood up and walked outside. ” Keep your powder dry brother. ” he said.

Johnny rode Out of Spanish Wells headed northwest toward Salt Canyon. It would take an hour under normal conditions, the rain would slow him down. He didn’t want to risk Barranca slipping in the mud. As he rode along, he thought about everything he now had since coming home over ten years ago. A wife who gave him a son, a successful ranch and contracts with the army. He wondered sometimes what his father would think if he was still alive. Would he be proud of him for all he had accomplished was the one thing he found himself wondering the most.

” That’s far enough Madrid! ” Daniels yelled from the rocks. ” Carefully take that pistol out and toss it away. ”

Johnny removed the colt and tossed it to the ground.

Daniels came down from the rocks, keeping his rifle aimed at Johnny as he picked up the colt. ” You know of a town called Hardluck? ”

” I know it. ” Johnny said.

” Good, start riding, and remember, this rifle will be at your back the whole time and if we’re not back by dark, that doctor friend of yours will die. Move.! ”

Scott hunkered down in his duster more, pulling his hat down to try and stop the pelting rain from stinging his face. Reaching Salt Canyon he stopped and dismounted. Looking around for tracks from Barranca telling him which way his brother went. ” Damn rain. ” he said as he walked around a few minutes before mounting up. ” Come on brother, talk to me. Where are you going. ” he said aloud as he closed his eyes.

Barranca spooked as a bolt of lightning hit not far from them, shattering the oak tree three hundred feet away from them as they rode into Hardluck.

” Keep going right on thru town to the house at the other end. ” Daniels ordered.

” Well it looks like you get to live a little longer doc. ” Bell said. ” Let’s go say hi. ”

” Stop and get down. ” Daniels ordered.

Johnny stopped Barranca and dismounted as the front door of the small house opened

Bell walked outside with a pistol in his hand. ” Hello Madrid! You ain’t so tough now are ya? ”

Johnny ignored the man. ” You alright Sam? ” he asked as he noticed the bruise on Sam’s face.

” I’m fine John. ”

” You have me, let him go. ” Johnny ordered.

” Oh contraire Madrid. The good doc here gets to watch you die a slow death. ” Bell said before swinging his left arm, hitting Johnny hard on the right side of his face, dropping him to his knees. ” I’ve got so much fun planned for you before I let you die. ” he spat as he grabbed a handful of hair and yanked his head back. ” You see, everything those guards did to me and Ben in that hell hole…..we’re going to do to you.  Only difference is, we won’t have seven years to do it in. We figure a couple days should be enough to have you begging us to kill you. Tie his hands. ”

Daniels said as he took a small rope and tied Johnny’s hands behind his back. Before jerking him to his feet.

” String him up. ” Bell ordered.

Daniels went to the porch, grabbed a rope, walked over to Johnny, put a hangman’s loop around his neck, yanked him to the tree in the front yard, he tossed the rope over a strong branch about twenty feet up and pulled the rope tight enough it bit into his flesh and made it hard to breath.

Johnny hated that Sam would see what was happening. He knew it would upset his friend. Standing there as blood ran down the right side of his face, blurring his vision in his right eye.

” For the love of God don’t do this! ” Sam begged as he went to Johnny.

” Shut up and get away from him doc. ” Bell ordered.

” You can join him. ” Daniels added.

” It’s alright Sam. ” Johnny said as he stood up on his toes to ease the pressure a little.

” The guards liked to do this for fun. Stretch us up and leave us like this in the desert sun all day. Hundred degrees or hotter and they would leave us. The sweat making the rope cut into our neck as the afternoon sun baked us. The shackles getting so fucking hot, they would burn our flesh. ” Bell said.  ” Too bad we can’t make you feel that. ”

” Maybe we can. ” Daniels said before going inside the house.

” You can’t do this. ” Sam pleaded. ” It’s not John’s fault those guards mistreated you. ”

Bell walked over to Johnny, made a fist and hit him as hard as he could in the small of his back. ” Before we’re done with you, I guarantee you will be begging us to kill you. ” he spat as Daniels walked out of the house carrying a fire poker, the end glowing red.

Daniels took the red hot poker and pressed it on the back of Johnny’s left shoulder.

Sam couldn’t believe Johnny never screamed out in pain as his flesh burned. He knew he was strong, and had seen the scars from being abused growing up. “ My God. ” he said as a tear ran down his cheek.

Scott stopped his horse, looking at an oak tree smoldering from a lightning strike. Looking down at the ground he seen what he’d been looking for. ” I’m coming brother. I know now where you went, Hardluck. I should have thought of that sooner. ” he said as he turned his horse and took off for Hardluck.

Johnny shivered as the rain finally stopped just before sunrise. His neck hurt and his skin burned from the rough rope cutting into his flesh just below his jaw.  Lifting his head as much as he could, he watched as Daniels came outside with a whip in his hand.

” Hurting time Madrid. Last night was just a start. ” he said before he started whipping Johnny as Bell and Sam came outside. Strike after strike cutting into his flesh as the whip wrapped around his torso, leaving marks on his back and chest.

” Stop it! ” Sam yelled. ” Stop this now! ”

Daniels brought the whip back ready to strike Johnny again when a rifle shot went off and a red stain started spreading across Daniels back and chest as he dropped to his knees and fell forward dead.

Bell crouched down as Sam went to the tree and untied the rope allowing Johnny to drop to the ground. Untying his hands as Scott rode up to the house, rifle in hand.

Scott jumped from his horse and went to his brothers side. ” I’m here brother. I’m here. ” he said as they helped Johnny stand up. ” Come here! ” he ordered.

Bell looked at Daniels laying on the ground dead as he slowly walked over to him.

Johnny slowly walked over to stand in front of Bell. Neither Scott nor Sam noticed he had pulled a knife from the inside of his boot. ” I don’t care about what you did to me. You beat a friend and murdered another, shot my brother, threatened my wife and son and for that……I sentence you to hell. ” he said as he plunged the knife deep in the man’s gut and thrust it upward.

” John, I’ve known you a long time. I delivered you in this very house. ” Sam said a week after Johnny was brought home. ” But there’s something I need to say. It disturbs me that you could kill that man like you did. What I seen in your eyes before you plunged that knife into him was not the Johnny I know. He was unarmed, not a threat to any of us any longer. ”

” Frank was a friend of mine Sam. He didn’t deserve to die like he did and those bastards killed him. ” Johnny said firmly. ” I’m sorry you had to see what you did. I wish you hadn’t. I have no regrets killing that bastard and I’m sorry if it angers you. ”

” I guess I can’t understand how you can take another man’s life so easy. ”

” What the hell makes you think killing another man is easy for me? ” Johnny demanded. ” You think I wanted to kill every man who called me out? ”

” I’m not talking about them John. I’m talking about what happened in Hardluck. ”

” You seen what happened in Hardluck. You seen what they did to me, the scars I will have to remind me for the rest if my life. ”

Sam put his things back in his bag. ” You’re healing up nicely and Teresa can continue with what she’s been doing. You don’t need me anymore. ”

” So what are you saying Sam? ” Johnny asked.

” I’m your friend John, and I always will be, but I cannot accept or forgive you for what you did. ” he said before leaving the room.

Johnny walked outside two months later a faint scar showed around his neck from the rope. The scars on his chest and back from the whip were slowly fading. The burn from the poker on his side went deep and left a scar that would never fade. Thinking back to his conversation with Sam a week after he was brought back home still heavy on his mind. He had hated Sam seeing him abused like he was. Sam had said he understood why he killed the man, but would never forgive him for taking that man’s life the way he did.

” You up to playing a game of chess brother? ” Scott asked.

” What? ” he asked.

” Chess? ” he asked. ” You thinking about what Sam said to you? ”

” That and everything that’s happened. ” Johnny responded.

” Come on. A game of chess will take your mind off it. ” Scott said. ” Looking back only brings heartache brother. ”

” Heartache that started the day we had bad company. ” Johnny turned and started to go back inside, putting his arm around Scott’s shoulder. ” Heartache that started the day we had bad company. ”

10 – 28 – 2022



Research Notes Chapter 1

California Statehood
The Pueblo de San Jose was chosen as the first state capital (Article XI Sec. 1). Soon after the election they set up a provisional state government that set up the counties, elected a governor, senators, and representatives, and operated for ten months prior to statehood. As agreed to in the Compromise of 1850, Congress passed the California Statehood Act on September 9, 1850.

Thirty-eight days later the Pacific Mail Steamship SS Oregon brought word to San Francisco on October 18, 1850, that California was now the 31st state. There was a celebration that lasted for weeks. The state capital was variously at San Jose (1850–1851), Vallejo (1852–1853), and Benicia (1853–1854) until Sacramento was finally selected in 1854.



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5 thoughts on “Bad Company by Nancy Marie

  1. This was so hard to read but I couldn’t stop. The continued trauma of this family continually torn apart is what is shared in stories. I have so many written over the last two years I have not published. I’m trying to combine them. Thank you.


  2. Sam really got on his high horse after Johnny killed that guy. Before Johnny got there Sam repeatedly told those guys that Johnny would kill them like he was proud. You just can’t please everybody. SMH


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