#3 in the Wanted: Dead Or Alive series
I don’t own them. I’m just taking them out for a midnight ride. 21st Century Fox put them out to pasture all those years ago, and they needed some exercise.
This is part three of a trilogy. The first being Wanted: Dead or Alive followed by Abilene Bound. If you have not read those two stories, you will be totally lost reading this one.
All Lancer characters from the show belong to 21st Century Fox (now owned by The Walt Disney Company). Jake Teague and Marcy Reed and Father Micheal belong to me and any other characters I develop in this story.
Word count: 82,410
Father Micheal left Morro Coyo, headed to the Lancer ranch. Ever since he witnessed Johnny call out and face the three gunfighters and get shot, he’s been troubled by what would make the young man do something so foolish. The only conclusion Father Micheal came to, was there had to be trouble between father and son. Having not seen any of the Lancer’ attend church since Johnny returned also told him trouble was brewing, or had possibly happened already. He had thought Johnny would bring his fiance into church so they could discuss wedding plans. Seeing a buggy heading toward him, Father Micheal stopped and was pleased to see it was Scott with a young lady sitting beside him.
“ Good morning Scott.” Father Micheal said.
Scott stopped the buggy. “ Father Micheal, are you headed out to the ranch?” Scott asked.
“ Why yes I am. I’ve been worried about Johnny, and since I’ve received no news since Sam let him go home, I thought I would ride out and visit. Is this the lucky young lady Johnny is to marry?” he asked.
“ Was to marry, yes. Marcy this is Father Micheal.”
“ Father, I heard quite a bit about you from Johnny. Unfortunately we will not be getting married.” Marcy said.
“ Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Murdoch was so pleased to hear Johnny had found happiness. Perhaps your differences can pass and you will still get married.” Father Micheal suggested.
“ I don’t think so Father.” Scott said. “ A lot has happened since Johnny was shot, and I’m afraid it isn’t good.”
“ Will I find your brother at the house?”
“ He’s there.” Scott responded.
“ Unless he took off again.” Marcy said.
“ Well, I’ll be on my way. It was good meeting you young lady.” Father Micheal said before driving away.
“ There was no call for you to be rude to Father Micheal.” Scott said as he slapped the reins and started toward Spanish Wells.
“ I want an explanation from you.” Murdoch demanded.
“ I don’t have to explain my actions to nobody but me old man. The sooner you realize that, the better off we’ll both be.” Johnny snapped back.
“ Your so called friend took advantage of an innocent girl. You walk around here like it’s all Teresa’ fault……”
“ Isn’t it………Jake wasn’t in this alone. Teresa was a willing participant. She’s as much to blame as Jake, maybe more so.” Johnny responded.
“ You will never change. You brought that……gunfighter into this house.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ Now I get it……..you’re not angry Jake took Teresa to bed as much as you’re angry he’s like me. My kind isn’t good enough in your eyes. We never will be.”
“ You’re a part owner in the biggest cattle ranch in the San Joaquin. Why don’t you start acting like it and take responsibility for it?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Part owner, that’s a hoot. How come you all the sudden had to go to Modesto on business and didn’t tell me or Scott until the night before?” Johnny demanded.
“ It was a business trip, and I don’t have to tell you about it.”
“ You do if me and Scott are part owners. Or are we just business partners only when it suits you?”
“ When you start acting more responsible like your brother does, THEN I will discuss business dealings with you. Until you can do that, you will do your days work like everyone else, period.”
“ That’s all I really am to you……..I’m just another hired hand. I’ll never be your son. Hell, you took Teresa side in this and don’t give a shit what she cost me, but you know what, that’s alright. I may have lost the only friend I ever had because of that bitch, but at least he accepted me for who I am. What’s your excuse old man?”
“ Don’t you dare stand there and talk like that. I won’t have that kind of language used in this house.” Murdoch ordered.
“ Let me tell you something old man. That………….Teresa split this family in half. I have a brother who betrayed me, a girl I thought of as a sister cost me my best friend, and a father who only cares about his precious ranch.”
Murdoch walked up to Johnny, and grabbed him by his shirt. “ I told you I will not have you using that kind of language in my house. If……..”
Father Micheal stopped his buggy outside the Lancer house, and climbed down. Raised voices could be heard from inside. Walking into the house through the open veranda door, he witnessed Murdoch grab Johnny by his shirt.
“ Mister Lancer, surely that is not called for.” Father Micheal said as he walked over to the two men.“ I thought we had discussed you controlling your temper sir?” he asked.
“ Father Micheal, I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you arrive.” Murdoch said.
“ I’m not surprised with all the shouting I heard. Perhaps we could all sit down and discuss what the trouble is?” Father Micheal suggested.
“ I’m the trouble Father. Just like always.” Johnny responded as he turned to leave.
“ We’re not finished yet young man.” Murdoch said.
“ Yeah we are. We were finished that day in Modesto. I never should have come back here.” Johnny said before heading out the door.
“ You see what I have to deal with from that boy? I get no respect from him. Every day it’s a battle. I can’t talk to him.”
“ Do you try to talk to him Mister Lancer, because what I heard was not talk.”
Murdoch ran a hand through his hair. “ That boy is so irresponsible.”
“ I can see you have not kept your word about not losing your temper.” Father Micheal said.
“ Why can’t I talk to him like I do Scott?” Murdoch asked as he went to his desk and sat down.
“ Because he is not Scott. He is Johnny. He’s lived wild and free most of his life. You would not expect a wild animal to become tame overnight would you?” Father Micheal asked.
“ I’m afraid taming a wild animal would be easier than taming that boy Father.” Murdoch responded.
“ I seen Scott with Johnny’ young lady headed to town on my way here. She told me there will be no wedding.”
“ No. There has been some developments that………….Johnny’ becoming more and more irresponsible.”
“ Irresponsible. Was that young man to just stand by and let those men gun him down?” Father Micheal asked.
“ What else would you call it Father. He rides into town and calls those three gunfighters out. You tell me how that’s being responsible?”
“ So you still feel Johnny is not a responsible person?” Father Micheal asked.
“ He has done nothing to show me he can be responsible. He ran the woman he was to marry off with how he’s become. His so called friend………He’s lucky he was already gone when I came home or I would have killed him.”
“ I heard what Johnny said when I arrived. Have you tried talking to him or asking him how he feels about what has happened?”
“ It never would have happened if he hadn’t brought that man here with him.”
“ Mister Lancer….what you tell me is in the strictest of confidence. Does it not take two willing people?” Father Micheal asked.
“ She’s just a child.”
“ I would have to disagree with you on that Mister Lancer. Teresa is a beautiful young lady. If I were not a man of the cloth, I could easily be one of those men.”
“ I find no humor in what you just said Father. I gave that………that man permission to court Teresa……with the understanding he was to respect her.”
“ But was he not a friend of Johnny’ from his past?” Father Micheal asked.
“ Yes, and he used to be a Marshal. He took a bullet saving Johnny’ life. I thought………”
“ You thought he would be alright. Would you have felt the same if he had not saved your sons life?” Father Micheal asked.
Murdoch glared at Father Micheal before standing up. “ If Johnny, and Marcy hadn’t disobeyed my orders on how to conduct themselves in this house, none of this would have happened.”
“ You did not answer my question.”
“ No…..I would not have let that man in this house, or near Teresa.”
“ So you only believe men, and possibly women too, deserve a second chance only if they are like your son Scott. That men like Johnny, and his friend Jake do not. That they are fallen angels sent down from above, and are beyond redemption?”
“ Are those very words you say not found in the good book Father?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes they are. Is your son not worthy enough to redeem himself? Do you not want Johnny to live a life of freedom here?”
“ As long as he has friends like that man around him, he will never redeem himself Father.”
“ Perhaps I should ask you this then. I could see deep hurt in Johnny’ eyes. This unfortunate event that has happened between his friend and Teresa, has it not caused him that friendship?”
“ Yes, Scott said Johnny confronted Jake, and the two of them almost shot it out right in front of Scott.”
“ I see. How would you feel if a dear friend you have betrayed you in such a way, that you were no longer friends? Wouldn’t you be hurting deep down inside?”
“ My friends are nothing like Johnny’.”
“ It does not matter. Wouldn’t you be hurt like he is right now? Betrayal is the worst kind of hurt a man can have Mister Lancer. Especially when it comes from someone you have known and trusted for many years.” Father Micheal stated.
Murdoch walked over to the sideboard. “ Drink?” he asked as he poured some brandy.
“ No thank you. I must be going. I have some things to take care of in Spanish Wells. Please tell Johnny he is free to come speak to me any time.” Father Micheal said as he walked to the door. “ I really hope you can find it in your heart to let your son in. The fact that he is still here, tells me he is just begging for you to love and forgive him. Perhaps you can do that when you are able to forgive yourself.”
Jake walked out of his office and over to the hotel cafe to get some lunch. It had been just over a month since he was sworn in as the new Sheriff of Spanish Wells. People still would stop and stare as he walked the streets, making his presence know that there was now law in town. It wasn’t Abilene, but at least the pay was decent. The jail had a small room with a bed he could sleep in at night in the back separate from the two jail cells, none of which had a window. The stove was good and would keep him warm on a cold winters night. Just inside the front door hung wanted posters of men running from the law. One poster in particular though, the man wasn’t running from the law. It was a private bounty he was all to familiar with. A ten years friendship had ended that day he left Lancer. What he had done, betraying his friend like he did Jake knew Johnny would never trust him again. Threats had been made and a line drawn.
“ Excuse me. Are you the Sheriff?” a Mexican man asked.
“ That’s what the star says. What do you want?” Jake asked.
“ I am new in the area and I was wondering if you knew of any jobs around town I could do?”
“ Do I know you mister?” Jake asked. Something about this stranger bothered him.
“ No, I have never been here before senor. I am sorry I bothered you.”
“ Hold on. You ate anything today?” Jake asked.
“ No. That is why I am looking for work.”
“ Sit down. You got a name?” Jake asked.
“ Pedro is what they call me.”
“ Well Pedro. I could use a deputy. You interested?” Jake asked.
“ A Deputy Sheriff, me?” Pedro asked.
“ Yeah you. You’re not wanted by the law or anything are you?” Jake asked.
Jake watched the young man as they ate their lunch. Something very familiar about the young man bothered him. He knew he’d seen him before. He just couldn’t remember where. Jake’ attention was suddenly drawn to the hotel counter. Two people had just walked in, both of which he knew. “ Excuse me Pedro.” Jake said as he stood up and walked over to them.
“ Scott, Marcy, what are you doing in Spanish Wells?” he asked.
Scott turned and glared at him a second before turning back to the conduct business with the hotel clerk.
“ Jake. It’s good to see you” Marcy said as she gave him a hug. “ I see you became the Sheriff of Spanish Wells.”
“ Yeah. This town needs law and order. Lancer, you might want to tell your hands when they come into my town, I won’t stand for any troublemakers.”
Scott turned and faced Jake, his Blue-Grey eyes glaring. “ Sheriff Teague, I will pass along your warning. I will also be telling any Lancer hands to stay out of Spanish Wells on Saturday nights. It’s much friendlier in Morro Coyo.”
“ You be sure and tell Johnny too. I don’t want his kind in my town.” Jake ordered.
“ Your town. You’ve been the Sheriff of Spanish Wells a little over a month. This isn’t your town. It belongs to the good citizens that live here.” Scott said. “ Here’s your key Marcy. Your room is paid for the month.” Scott said before walking out.
“ Lancer, give my regards to Teresa.” Jake said as Scott walked out.
“ Care to join me for some lunch Marcy?”
“ I’d love to.” Marcy responded as she followed Jake over to his table.
“ Marcy, this is Pedro. He just started working for me today as my deputy.”
“ Hello Pedro.”
“ Senora.” Pedro responded. “ Who was that man you came in with?”
“ Scott Lancer, his father owns a huge cattle ranch outside Morro Coyo.” Jake replied.
“ Well if you will excuse me. I shall go start earning my money. Senora.” Pedro said as he stood up. “ Thank you for my lunch Sheriff.”
“ Come on by the office later this afternoon and I’ll get you sworn in and a badge. You have a gun?” Jake asked.
“ Yes sir. It is in my saddlebags.” Pedro said.
“ Well you might as well get it out and start wearing it.” Jake suggested.
“ Yes si. I’ll go stable my horse and wait for you at the office.” Pedro said before leaving.
“ He run you off?” Jake asked after Pedro left.
“ No, I left Johnny because I couldn’t take the way he was treating me anymore. He’s changed Jake. He’s…………When I look into his eyes, all I see is coldness. He’s more Madrid than ever. Nobody wants to work with him. Last night I went to the barn to try and talk to him. What he did was not the Johnny I fell in love with Jake. He works sunup till way past dark. He constantly fights with his father. It’s like a part of him died inside when you left.”
“ So what are you going to do now?” Jake asked.
“ Find a job and save up my money so I can go back to Texas maybe.” Marcy responded.
“ How’s Teresa?”
“ Good. Mister Lancer won’t let her out of his sight. He has someone watching her at all times if she goes outside. She hardly speaks at meal time. Maria won’t talk to her at all. There was a big fight after you left. Johnny confronted her. He kicked her bedroom door in. When I entered the room, he had grabbed her by the arms and was being terrible to her.”
“ You know you could press charges against Johnny for what he did to you last night.” Jake suggested.
“ It wouldn’t do any good Jake.” Marcy responded.
“ Forcing himself on you like that isn’t right. No man has a right to do that to a woman.” Jake said.
“ You know. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if me and you.”
“ How about I help you carry your things up to your room?” Jake suggested.
“ I’d like that. Maybe we could have supper together tonight?” Marcy suggested.
“ I think that can be arranged.” Jake said as they headed to the stairs. “ Johnny is a fool to let you go Marcy.”
Pedro opened the door to the jail and walked inside and closed the door. “ Así que no me recuerdas, Te recuerdo y lo que me hiciste. Así que ahora tiene un padre y un hermano, y una gran estancia. Hacerte a ti y ese sueldo mestizo será muy divertido. Veremos quién es el mejor.” ( So you don’t remember me. I remember you, and what you did to me. So he has a father and brother now, and a big estancia. Making you and that half-breed pay will be so much fun. We shall se who is the best.) Pedro said as he looked around. Spotting the wanted posters, he walked over and looked at it. “ Así que tienes una recompensa privada por la muerte de una mujer en Abilene, Texas. La muerte de esta mujer será vengada, pero a mi manera. ( So you have a private bounty on you for the death of a woman in Abilene, Texas. This woman’s death shall be avenged, but my way.) Pedro said as Jake walked into his office.
“ You look like you seen a ghost Pedro.” Jake said as he closed the door and walked over to his desk.
“ This man Johnny Madrid, I thought he was killed down in Mexico by the Rurales?” Pedro asked.
“ Nope. Guess you heard wrong son.” Jake responded. “ You seen Madrid have you?”
“ Si, many years ago. Is he in these parts?” Pedro asked.
“ Why you asking?”
“ He is a saint to the people of Mexico. He helped a village once my parents lived in. I was maybe fourteen.” Pedro responded.
“ Madrid’ here, just not in Spanish Wells, but he’s here. He gave it up. Got out of the game and works a cattle ranch with his old man and brother.” Jake said.
“ His hermano?” Pedro asked.
“ The man at the hotel, Scott Lancer is his brother. They have a huge ranch outside Morro Coyo. Biggest ranch in the San Joaquin valley.”
“ So he is no longer Johnny Madrid?”
“ Son, he will always be Johnny Madrid. He just goes by Lancer now is all. Let’s get you sworn in as a deputy, I have an errand to run and won’t be back until this evening.” Jake said.
Scott stopped the buggy and got down, letting a hand take care of the horses. Walking inside, he found his father sitting at his desk.
“ You made good time son.” Murdoch said.
“ I took her to Spanish Wells and paid for the room for a month.” Scott said as he walked over and poured a drink “ I ran into Father Micheal, said he was on his way here to see you and Johnny.”
“ Yes he was here. His timing wasn’t good. I’m afraid he knows about what happened.” Murdoch responded.
“ Knows sir?”
“ Yes. Me and your brother were having an argument when he showed up. The doors were open so he heard what Johnny said.”
“ So once again you and Johnny butted heads. Will it ever end between you two?”
“ I don’t know if it will or not son.”
“ You’ll never guess who I ran into in the hotel lobby.”
“ Jake, he’s the Sheriff of Spanish Wells now. He wasn’t friendly. In fact, he told me to warn the hands he won;t tolerate any trouble on Saturday nights from them. I told him I would speak to the hands about staying out of Spanish Wells.” Scott said. “ He also gave me a warning about Johnny. He said to tell him his kind is not welcome in his town.” Scott added.
“Maybe someone should remind him that Spanish wells is not his town. It belongs to the people who live there. If he thinks he can use a badge to bully Lancer, he’s got another thing coming.”
“ I reminded him a\of that very thing. You going to tell Johnny were he’s at?”
“ No. I don’t want him or Teresa knowing he’s in Spanish Wells.”
“ He did ask about her. I wouldn’t answer him though I expect Marcy has filled him in on what has happened here since he left.”
“ Why don’t you go get cleaned up for supper.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Will Johnny be joining us tonight?”
“ No. Cipriano said he took off to go try and find that cat that’s been killing the stock. Said he would be gone a week.”
“ Hunting a cat alone is dangerous work. Why didn’t he take a hand with him?”
“ Why does your brother do a lot of the things he does?” Murdoch asked.
“ Tell me something, will things ever get back to normal around here?” Scott asked as he headed to the stairs.
“ I don’t know if it ever will son. Not after what has happened.
“ I guess Johnny was right then. Teresa split this family in half with me caught in the middle.” Scott said before turning and heading upstairs.
Johnny rode into the yard late afternoon a week later and dismounted. He was hungry and tired from hardly any sleep.
“ You want me to take him for you Johnny?” Frank asked.
“ Would ya. Give him a good rubdown and some extra oats, he’s earned it.” Johnny said as he removed his rifle.
“ Yes sir. Did you have any luck getting that cat?” Frank asked.
“ Yeah. Got her and her two babies. They won’t be killing anymore Lancer cattle.” Johnny responded.
“ You look all done in.” Frank said as he started to lead the stallion to the barn.
Johnny walked into the house and found his father at his desk with Scott. Teresa was sitting in the blue chair sewing. Laying his rifle on the table, Johnny walked over to the sideboard and poured a shot of whiskey.
“ You look like you need a hot bath and a weeks worth of sleep brother.” Scott said.
“ You have any luck son?” Murdoch asked.
Johnny downed the first shot and poured a second. “ Three of them, a mother and two babies. She was using an old oak tree as a den to get out of the weather. Tracked that damn cat for four days.” Johnny responded as he walked over to the fireplace to warm up.
“ Supper will be in an hour if you want to go clean up son.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Yeah, I think I will.” Johnny responded.
“ Son…….Thank you.” Murdoch said.
Johnny just looked at him a second before heading upstairs.
Teresa mumbled something that only Scott heard as she put her sewing away. “ I suggest you watch your mouth Teresa. You’ve caused enough problems. Johnny seems to be in a decent mood. Your rude remark was uncalled for.” Scott said.
“ Teresa, I want this to stop between you and Johnny. It ends now. Do I make myself clear.” Murdoch demanded.
Teresa put her sewing away. “ Whatever, it’s your house. You call the tune.” she responded before going to her room.
Scott walked over and poured a drink. “ I’m not going to stand by and let her tear this family apart sir.”
“ Just what do you suggest I do son?” Murdoch asked.
“ It’s pretty obvious she is trying to put all of what’s happened on Johnny. She needs to owe up to what she has done and accept the consequences of her actions.” Scott responded.
“ I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this past week. I know I was wrong blaming Johnny for what happened between Teresa and Jake. It’s nobody’s fault but theirs alone.” Murdoch responded.
“ Don’t you think you should tell Johnny that sir?” Scott asked.
“ I plan to do just that.” Murdoch said as he stood up and headed to the stairs.
Johnny laid back and closed his eyes as the hot water warmed his sore tired muscles. A bottle of tequila sat on the chair next to the tub, a shot of the gold liquid in his right hand. Sleeping on the ground the past week had taken a toll on his battered body. Letting out a sigh, he slumped down in the steaming hot water more. Eyes still closed, he could here his fathers footsteps in the hall stop outside the door. When the door opened, he silently wondered what it was he’d done wrong now.
“ Can I come in son?” Murdoch asked. Receiving no reply, he stepped in and closed the door. “ Can I have a word with you?”
Johnny sat up just enough to take a sip of his drink. “ You got something to say old man, say it.” Johnny said softly. No irritation or anger to his voice. Just tiredness.
“ I didn’t come up here to fight with you John. I came up here as a father to apologize for the way I’ve been since all this trouble started. I was blaming you for something that wasn’t your fault, and for that……I’m sorry.”
Johnny sat up and looked at his father. He could see in the mans eyes what he was saying was real.” Can I ask what you’re going to do about Teresa?”
“ What do you mean son?” Murdoch asked as he moved the bottle of tequila and sat down.
“ I’ll never forgive her for what she’s cost me. I know Jake is as much to blame, if not more. I have nobody to blame but myself for losing Marcy., but I’m not going to continue to take her snide remarks and dirty looks every time we’re in the same room together. She doesn’t think she did anything wrong, and …. YOU …. need to talk to her about this.” Johnny responded.
“ I plan on having a discussion with her at suppertime son. I’ve noticed the looks she gives you.” Murdoch said.
“ I did a lot of thinking this past week while I was hunting that cat, and I kept coming to the same conclusion. You’re always throwing at me that I’m not responsible for my actions…….”
“ I know now I was wrong saying that son.” Murdoch cut in.
“ Let me finish…..I’ve been responsible for anything I do my whole life. I’m not blaming you for the life I had below the border growing up. The only thing I blame you for is disrespecting my mother before you were married. A part of me will always feel that the only reason you married her was because of me. Teresa is old enough to owe up to what she’s done. She needs to accept responsibility for her actions and stop trying to blame me for it. I didn’t make her sleep with Jake. Either you do something about it, or I will.” Johnny said.
“ I plan to do just that son. Why don’t you take tomorrow off and sleep in. I think you’ve earned it.” Murdoch suggested.
“ You getting soft old man? Giving me a Saturday off.” Johnny said with a laugh.
“ Would that be so bad?” Murdoch asked as he stood up.
“ Scott tell you what I did to Jake?” Johnny asked.
“ He told me some of it son.” Murdoch responded.
“ I disobeyed Scott. He told me to ride up north and check the water levels, instead I rode south just so I could confront Jake about what he did.”
“ Is that how you got the bruises you had when I came back?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah. We got in a pretty heated argument and fight. He took off and I found him holding a gun on Scott when I got back here. I was ready to face him down.”
“ Johnny, I want to ask you something, and I want your answer to be truthful……If it came down to it, do you think you could beat him?”
“ I don’t know Murdoch. You seen him out here that day. He beat me to the draw then. I’d be dead right now if it had been someone else.” Johnny responded. “ Now can I ask you a question since we’re being truthful?”
“ Go ahead.”
“ You gonna tell me what that business was you had to take care of in Modesto?” Johnny asked.
“ A possible business deal son. Miners are paying high dollar for cattle outside Bishop. It’s a three hundred mile drive and I’m not so sure it would be beneficial to Lancer.”
“ We came through there. The pass wouldn’t be easy driving cattle over. If you had discussed it with me and Scott before hand, we could have saved you a trip.” Johnny stated.
“ Well, I’ll let you finish your bath. I’ll see you for supper.” Murdoch said as he opened the door and left.
“ You must think I’m stupid old man. I know you went to Modesto for another reason.” Johnny said as he sank back down in the tub.
Jake was doing his rounds, checking to make sure business doors were locked. He liked being Sheriff of Spanish Wells. Even though he hadn’t seen her, it kept him close to Teresa. Every day he longed to be with her again. To hold her in his arms, and make love to her. It had been just over two months since he left Lancer. At almost one o’clock in the morning, he was glad this rowdy Friday night was over. The two saloons in town now closed he crossed the street and seen a lone figure standing outside the hotel. Walking over to see who it would be up at this hour.
“ You’re up kinda late?” he asked.
“ I was watching and waiting for you.” Marcy responded.
“ Me, why?” Jake asked.
“ Well, I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I would invite you up for a nightcap.” Marcy responded.
“Towns asleep now. I think I’ll take you up on that.” Jake said as he followed her into the hotel and upstairs.
“ Is brandy okay?” Marcy asked as she opened her door and stepped inside.
“ Brandy is fine.” Jake said as he walked inside and closed the door.
Jake sat and talked with Marcy for well over an hour before he stood up. “ Well, I guess I should head on over to the jail and get some sleep now.” he said.
Marcy stood up and walked over to him. “ You don’t have to leave Jake. I have this big bed and it gets mighty lonesome sleeping in it alone.”
“ Marcy, I don’t………. I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”
“ I know your heart belongs to Teresa. I’m just asking for tonight.” Marcy said as she put her arms around his neck.
Jake brought his lips down and kissed her, sliding his tongue in her mouth as he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into him. Moaning as he started unbuttoning her dress enough he could push it over her shoulders and let it fall to the floor. Walking her to the bed, Jake pushed her down before shedding his clothes. His urge growing stronger by the second, he climbed in bed with Marcy and claimed her body with hunger well into the early hours of dawn.
Johnny came downstairs and found his father standing in front of the big window behind his desk, staring outside. “ Murdoch.”
Murdoch turned around. “ I was just thinking, remembering really, when you were a baby, and how I would stand in your room and watch you sleep at night. It was the only time you stayed still.”
Johnny walked over and stood in front of the desk. “ Guess it wasn’t easy for you was it?”
“ Losing you…..When I woke that morning and found your mother gone, and you with her, every day from that morning on has been harder on me than you will ever know son.”
“ She must have known you were looking for me. That must be why we moved around so much.” Johnny said.
“ I know I haven’t been……….It’s not easy………”
“ Murdoch, it’s okay. I haven’t exactly made it easy for you either.” Johnny responded.
“ Truth be told son, you’re not supposed to. A child is supposed to make it challenging raising them.” Murdoch replied.
“ You think it was easy for Scott and old man Garrett when he was growing up?” Johnny asked.
“ It most certainly was not.” Scott said. “ I was a challenge for grandfather. I was in trouble at least three times a week.” Scott said.
Murdoch smiled and laughed. “ I was just telling your brother how raising a child isn’t supposed to be easy for a parent.”
“ Se sirve la cena.” Maria said. ( Supper is served )
“ Thank you Maria…….Shall we?”
“ I imagine you’re pretty hungry little brother.” Scott said as they walked to the big table and sat down.
“ Juanito, es bueno que estés en casa. Mañana por la noche te prepararé un banquete.” Maria said. ( Juanito, it is good you are home. Tomorrow night I will prepare a feast for you.)
“ Gracias mamacita.” Johnny responded as he gave Maria a hug and kiss on the cheek before sitting down.
“ I have something I want to say about what has been going on in this house the past two months.” Murdoch said. “ Young lady, I am very disappointed in you. I can do nothing about what happened between you and Jake, but I can do something about the way you have been toward Johnny. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. It’s time you take responsibility for what you have done. You have tried putting the blame on Johnny for what you did, when there is nobody to blame but you. Now, I know Johnny’ behavior with Marcy taking her to his bed when I wasn’t here, or sneaking to her room after everybody was asleep was wrong, he’s owed up to that, but you have not. Your actions have put a great strain on this family at a considerable cost to Johnny I might add. Now, you have not once apologized to any of us for what you have done, and I would like to know why?”
“ I haven’t apologized because I don’t feel I need to. The only thing I am guilty of, is falling in love with Jake. You never once ridiculed Marcy for falling in love with him.” Teresa said as she pointed to Johnny.
“ Falling in love with someone and doing what you did are two different things young lady.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ You cost me the only friend I ever really had Teresa.” Johnny cut in. “ A ten year friendship is over because of you.” he added.
“ Well I guess he was never really your friend then was he?” Teresa asked.
Johnny took a couple deep breaths to keep his anger in check. “ Jake saved my life when I was in the orphanage. He became a big brother to me. I wanted the two of you to get together. I talked him into coming back here with me and Scott, to see if Murdoch would let him court you, and maybe marry you later when you were old enough. It’s because of you he’s gone. All you had to do was tell him no. He never would have forced himself on you. That’s not Jake’ style.”
“ He didn’t force himself on me. I wanted him to make love to me. You all treat me like I’m still a little girl when I’m not. I’m a grown woman.” Teresa said as she stood up. “ At least Jake seen that.” Teresa said before turning and going to her room.
“ It’s a lost cause I’m afraid sir. Teresa is never going to realize what she’s done.” Scott said.
“ I think I’m gonna turn in now.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ Alright son. Remember, I gave you tomorrow off so don’t worry about getting up early.” Murdoch said.
“ Goodnight brother.”
Jake woke Saturday morning and carefully got out of bed and got dressed. Opening the door, he looked at Marcy, laying sound asleep on the bed and smiled. “ Johnny, you’re a fool.” he said softly before walking out and closing the door. It was going to be a long day, and tonight he hoped there wasn’t to much trouble being Saturday night. Walking into the jail, he found Pedro sitting at his desk with his feet up.
“ You ate yet?” Jake asked as he closed the door.
“ Si. I ate some bean and tortillas.” Pedro responded as he stood up. “ You look like you didn’t get much sleep last night.” he said.
“ Yeah, a woman can cause that. Do yourself a favor Pedro, don’t ever let a woman tell you it’s just a one time thing, because what they really mean is they want an all niter.” Jake said as he went to the stove to see if there was any coffee.
“ I made a fresh pot earlier.” Pedro said. “ You were with the senorita from the hotel lobby. She looks like she could be a handful.”
“ Yeah, that she was. She’s the fiance…well ex fiance of a used to be friend.” Jake said.
“ Wow. It could not have been much of a friend if you take his ex fiance to bed.” Pedro responded.
“ His loss. All I got to say is he’s a fool for letting her go. She came all the way out here from Abilene, Texas with us to marry him and live a life a woman like her deserves.”
“ Perhaps Madrid decided he did not wish to?” Pedro suggested. “ A man in his line of work cannot afford to settle down.”
“ He can if he wants to get out of the game bad enough. He just hasn’t made up his mind yet if he wants to bad enough.” Jake said as he walked over to the door to the room with a cot in the back.
“ Listen, I’m gonna get a couple hours sleep. Wake me if I’m needed.” Jake said as he walked into the room and closed the door.
“ Maybe this woman will be better. Maybe I can use her to bring the two of you together.” Pedro said softly as he walked over to the desk and sat down. “ Now I have the law on my side to help me pay you back mestizo.”
Johnny walked out of the barn leading the stallion and swung up in the saddle. “ Hey Frank, tell my old man I went to Spanish Wells for some company. I’ll be back late tonight.” Johnny said as he spurred the stallion.
Scott rode into the yard late afternoon and dismounted. “ You seen my brother Frank?” he asked.
“ He left a few hours ago. Said to tell you or Mister Lancer he went to Spanish Wells for some company and would be back late tonight.”
“ Are you sure he said Spanish Wells Frank?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah. I’ll take care of your horse for you.” Frank said before taking the horse, and heading to the barn.
Scott walked to the house and found his father at his desk looking over survey reports. “ We have a problem sir.”
Murdoch looked up from the maps. “ Something wrong with that section I sent you to survey son?”
“ No. It’s Johnny. Frank just told me he went to Spanish Wells.”
“ I gave him the day off. He tried to get me to go with him, but…….”
“ Have you forgotten who is in Spanish Wells and who the new Sheriff is?” Scott cut in.
“ Yes I did. You think you should go there?” Murdoch asked.
“ And have my brother thinking I’m checking up on him. I don’t think Jake will be stupid enough to push Johnny.” Scott responded.
“ You’re probably right. After seeing Jake beat Johnny to the draw, It worries me after all that’s happened that those two will face off, and Jake will kill your brother.”
“ If he does, there won’t be a place he can hide. Badge or no badge, If he kills Johnny…….”
“ I know son. I feel the same way.”
Johnny rode into Spanish Wells and stopped at the saloon, one thing on his mind. A bottle of whiskey, and a satisfying woman in bed.
Dismounting in front of the saloon, Johnny tied the stallion up and stepped up to the bat wing doors Glancing around inside, he could see three girls standing at the bar and two more over in a corner watching three men play poker. Walking in, he went to the bar and ordered a bottle as he looked at the three girls standing at the bar. Two of the women were quit a bit older than him. With age comes experience, he thought. The third girl however, she wasn’t much older than twenty with long black hair, breast big enough to please any man, and a figure nice enough to say she could go all night.
“ What’ll it be?” the bartender asked.
“ Let me have bottle and……how much for her for a few hours?” Johnny asked as he smiled at the younger woman.
“ That one cost five an hour because of her age. She’s not soiled yet.” the bartender said as he set a bottle on the bar with two glasses.
Johnny paid for the bottle, and then slid the man a twenty. She will be when I’m done with her.” Johnny said as he picked up the bottle and glasses and walked over to the girl.
“ You can use the room at the end of the hall upstairs. She better not come back down all bruised up and sore that she can’t make me any money the rest of the night.” the bartender ordered.
“ You got a name?” Johnny asked as they entered the room and she closed the door.
“ Emma.” the girl responded as she started undressing. “ What you want me to do mister?” she asked.
“ First off, I ain’t old enough to be called mister, my names Johnny. Second you ever do this before?”
“ I’ve been with one. He had me suck him off. Said he didn’t want the risk of getting a whore pregnant.” Emma responded as she removed the rest of her clothes and stood by the bed naked.
Johnny set the glasses down on the table and removed his gun belt, hanging it on the bed post. Sitting down on the bed he removed his boots, then stood up and removed his shirt and pants. His hardness throbbing as he walked over to the girl and looked at her.
“ I’m not going to hurt you. That’s not my style.” Johnny said softly as he pushed a strand of hair from her forehead. “ I like it nice and slow. I won’t do anything you don’t like okay?”
Emma nodded as she reached out and started stroking him. “ Then we should get the first one out of the way so you can last longer.” she said as she dropped to her knees.
“ I’m gonna head on over to the saloon and see how things are going. Town will get busy once the sun goes down. Saturday night ranch hands coming into town for some fun.” Jake said to Pedro as he strapped on his gun.
“ What do you want me to do?” Pedro asked.
“ Do a walk around town. Some shops are still open, others are closed up till Monday. Just let yourself be seen. It gives the store owners comfort knowing there’s law around.” Jake suggested as he opened the door and walked out with Pedro. Looking over at the horses tied outside the saloon, Jake recognized one horse in particular. “ Sonofabitch.” he said.
“ Is something wrong Sheriff?” Pedro asked.
“ Nothing I can’t handle.” Jake said as he started across the street.
Pedro stood watching as the Sheriff went to a horse and checked the animal over before walking up to the saloon doors, looking around, and then walking inside.
“ Little early for you to be in here ain’t it Sheriff?” the bartender asked.
“ Madrid, where is he?” Jake asked.
“ I don’t want no trouble Sheriff.”
“ You’re gonna have a whole heap of trouble if you don’t tell me where he’s at.”
“ Top of the stairs, last room on the left at the end of the hall. He’s up there with Emma. Paid twenty dollars to have her for a few hours.”
“ You should be more careful who you let in your place.” Jake said as he started toward the stairs.
Johnny lay on the bed with his eyes closed, Emma laying partially on his chest. Feeling himself getting aroused again, Johnny rolled the girl onto her back and positioned himself above her as she reached down and guided him into her one last time. Both totally lost as Johnny thrust harder and harder as Emma moaned and clawed at his back, wrapping her legs around his waist as their tongues battled.
Jake opened the door quietly and stepped inside the room. He could see Johnny’ gun hanging on the bed post. When Emma seen him, he put a finger to his lips telling her to be quiet as he stepped over to the bed and lowered the pistol to Johnny’ head.
Johnny knew something was wrong when Emma stopped kissing him and was looking past him. Just as he started to reach for his gun, the cold unmistakable feel of a pistol against his head stopped him.
“ Don’t. You so much as move and I’ll blow your head clean off.” Jake said as he pulled the hammer back. “ Get dressed and leave girl.” he ordered.
Johnny moved off Emma just enough so the frightened girl could get out of bed and get dressed. Once she left, Jake pressed the barrel into Johnny’ head more. “ I told your brother to tell you your kind ain’t welcome in my town. I guess you don’t listen to well. Now, you’re going to get up real slow and get dressed. Don’t even think about trying for your gun because you’ll never make it.” Jake ordered as he stepped back from the bed, but kept the gun aimed at Johnny.
“ You got no call doing this Jake.” Johnny said as he got out of bed and started getting dressed. “ I’ve done nothing wrong.”
“ You came into my town after I told your brother I didn’t want you here. I could lock your ass up in jail for thirty days if I wanted too.” Jake said as johnny put his shirt on and buttoned it up.
“ Big man with a badge. Is that it Jake?” Johnny asked as he stood up to tuck his shirt in.
Jake stepped over next to him. “ I don’t need a badge to take care of you.” Jake said right before he hit Johnny with the pistol barrel on the left side of the face, knocking him into the table. “ That’s for Marcy, and what you did to her you sonofabitch.”
Johnny could feel a trickle of blood running down his face. “ So this is how it’s gonna be huh?” Johnny asked as he reached up and touched his temple. “ You’re going to throw away a ten year friendship?” Johnny asked.
“ You threw it away that day you found out I was with Teresa.” Jake responded. “ Get your boots on.”
Johnny reached down and grabbed his boots, the knife still inside his right boot.
“ You even think of going for that knife.” Jake said coldly.
Johnny put his boots on and stood up as Jake went over and grabbed his gun of the bed post.
“ Let’s go.” Jake ordered.
Johnny walked to the door and opened it, stepping out into the hall, keeping his hands at his side as he started walking down the hall to the stairs. Looking down, he could see everyone looking up, watching and waiting to see what would happen. Johnny walked down the stairs slow and easy and over to the bat winged doors.
“ Outside Madrid.” Jake ordered as he pressed the pistol barrel into Johnny’ back.
Johnny stepped outside and stopped. “ It doesn’t have to be this way Jake. We can put what happened behind us and move on.” Johnny said. “ That’s what you always told me to do, let the past go.”
“ I’m letting the past go right now by running you out of my town.” Jake responded as he tossed Johnny’ rig on the ground at his feet. “ Pick it up real easy, and put it on.”
Johnny reached down real slow and picked up his holster and put it on, making sure to not reach for the gun. Stepping down to the stallion, he untied the horse and swung up in the saddle. Blood still trickled down his face. “ You just crossed the line. You won’t get the drop on me a second time.” Johnny said before turning the stallion and galloping out of town.
Pedro watched from down the street as Jake came out of the saloon with his gun drawn on a man. Letting his hand drop down to his gun, Pedro watched as Madrid got on his horse and left. “ Soon mestizo. Soon I will watch the Sheriff gun you down.”
“ All that pacing isn’t going to help matters any son.” Murdoch said.
Scott turned and faced his father. “ I should have went after him.”
“ Scott, your brother is capable of handling himself.” Murdoch responded.
“ I should have told him Jake was the new Sheriff of Spanish Wells…..I should have told him what he said.” Scott responded.
“ Yeah you should have brother.” Johnny said from the foyer.
“ What the devil happened to you?” Murdoch said as he rushed to Johnny’ side.
“ I was blindsided.” Johnny said as he walked over to the sideboard and poured a drink. “ How long you known he was there Scott?”
Scott walked over to Johnny. “ Since I took Marcy into town. He warned me tell you to stay out of Spanish Wells.”
Johnny downed the shot and turned to face his brother. Anger could be seen in his eyes. Turning away, Johnny suddenly hit Scott hard in the left cheek. “ That’s for damn near getting me killed brother.” Johnny said with anger.
“ Johnny.” Murdoch called as he went to Scott.
“ Did you know?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes. Your brother told me what Jake said when he came back.”
“ Look….I’m sorry. If I’d have know you were going to town, I would have told you.” Scott said as he straightened up and walked over to him. “ He warned me about the hands if they went to town, and then he told me to tell you that your kind isn’t wanted in * his * town.”
“ How’d that happen son?” Murdoch asked.
“ I was busy fu…..with a girl when he came into the room. Told me this was for Marcy. Ordered the girl out of the room, had me get dressed and escorted me outside with a gun to my back.” Johnny said as he walked over to the couch and sat down.
Murdoch walked over to him. “ Let me see that.” Murdoch asked as he gently pushed the hair away. “ Lets go in the kitchen and get that cleaned up.”
Scott set a pan of warm water on the table and dipped a cloth in it. “ He had no call doing this to you.”
“ Told him he needed to let the past go. That what happened between him and Teresa was over………..Said he was letting the past go by running me out of town.”
“ Son, this isn’t deep enough for stitches.” Murdoch said as he cleaned the dried blood.
“ You could have a concussion.” Scott added. “ You want me to send someone for Sam?”
“ No. It’d be almost morning by the time he got here.” Murdoch said. “ I’m going to ride to Spanish Wells and have a talk with that man.”
“ No you’re not. What Jake did tonight…..he crossed the line. He’s not the same man we knew in Abilene. I told him the next time I see him, I won’t be backing down.”
Jake walked into the hotel lobby and found Marcy just getting off work. It was just after midnight when he walked in.
“ Jake, what brings you here?” Marcy asked as she walked around the counter.
“ You. Tomorrow’s Sunday. I was wondering if you would like some company tonight?” he asked.
“ Why Jake, are you wanting to romp with me in bed?” Marcy asked as she stepped up to him.
Jake looked around and seen they were alone. Pulling her to him, he delved his tongue in her mouth as he pressed against her. “ I’ve been thinking about being with you all evening.” he said when he stepped back from her.
“ I’ve been thinking about you a lot since our last night together.” Marcy said as she took his hand and started toward the stairs. “ Who’s minding the town?” she asked as she opened her door and stepped inside.
“ My deputy is.” Jake said as he followed her inside and closed the door, and undid his gun belt, setting it on the table next to the bed. Looking over at Marcy, smiling as he undressed. Grabbing Marcy by the arm he pulled her to him. Passion brought him here. Passion and a desire to fulfill a need. He didn’t care anymore as long as he got what he wanted, and Marcy was just the person to give it to him.
“ You must have been angry with someone or at something last night?” Marcy asked the next morning.
“ Nope, just had a hunger for you.” Jake said as he rolled over on his side to face her. “ I’m sorry if I was a little to rough.”
“ I’ll accept your apology for this time, but in the future, you go be rough with those whores in the saloon.” Marcy said as she got up and started getting dressed. “ I’m going to take Arabella out for a ride today. Care to join me?”
“ I’d have thought you would get rid of that horse since she was a gift from Johnny?” Jake asked.
“ Just because he turned out to be a bastard doesn’t mean I should forget our good times together. She was a Christmas present, and I intend on keeping her.” Marcy said as she pulled a pair of pants out of the top dresser drawer.
“ I’d love to go riding with you, but I told Pedro he could have today off.” Jake said as he got out of bed and started getting dressed.
“ Jake, I really need to talk to you.” Marcy said.
“ So talk.” Jake said as he got dressed.
“ I’m pregnant.” Marcy said.
Jake looked at her. “ Are you sure?” he asked.
“ Yes.” Marcy replied. “ I don’t know if it’s your baby………..or Johnny’.”
“ How come the old man wants this section surveyed?” Johnny asked.
“ He’s thinking of splitting that large pasture for spring calves. The grass is always lush and he figures cutting it in half would give them more grazing.” Scott said.
“ Makes no sense to me cutting a pasture in half.” Johnny responded.
“ True, but since we have about half the cows birthing in spring and the other half birthing in fall…..Something wrong?” Scott asked, noticing his brother looking around.
“I have a feeling we’re being watched.” Johnny responded.
Scott looked around just as a rider appeared on the hill to the north. “ I don’t know how you do it little brother.”
“ It’s not hard Scott. The birds tell you someone or something is near when they stop singing.” Johnny said as he watched the rider approach. An uneasy feeling coming over him.
“ Looks like he’s wearing a badge.” Scott said. “ Is it Jake?”
“ No.” Johnny said as he lowered his hand to his colt.
“ Afternoon.” Pedro said as he rode up.
“ Can we help you?” Scott asked.
“ I’m the new deputy in Spanish Wells. Heard me a rumor that Johnny Madrid was in the valley. Just wanted to see if those rumors were true.” Pedro responded as he got down.
“ Mister, you’re trespassing….so why don’t you get back on that horse and leave.” Johnny said coldly.
“ That’s not a very friendly thing to say.” Pedro said. “ Seems the Sheriff don’t think much of you Madrid. Said you used to be friends.”
Scott could tell his brother was getting mad. “ I believe my brother told you to leave…..So unless you have some other business with us, I strongly suggest you do as he asked.”
Johnny looked at the gun on the deputy’s hip. Like his it was well took care of. “ I’m not going to ask you again…….deputy.”
Pedro stood there a few seconds and smiled at Johnny. “ Heard you were killed down in Mexico….Sure glad I heard wrong.” Pedro aid as he got back on his horse. “ I’ll be seeing you again Madrid.” he said as he turned his horse. “ Oh, one more thing.” Pedro said as he reached into his pocket and pulled a small pocket knife out and tossed it to Johnny.
Johnny stood there watching Pedro ride up the hill and disappear.
“ You know him Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ I know him.” Johnny responded as he bent down and picked up the small knife. “ We done here?” he asked as he went to his horse.
“ Yeah. Johnny, were do you know him from?” Scott asked as he walked over to his horse.
“ The orphanage when I was a kid.” Johnny responded as he swung up in the saddle. “ It’s not a coincidence he’s here.”
“ It’s not?” Scott asked as he got on his horse.
“ No…….he’s here for me.” Johnny said before spurring the stallion into a gallop.
Scott galloped into the yard and could see his brother already walking into the house. Handing his horse off, he headed inside. Questions had to be answered. He just hoped his brother would answer them.
“ You get that surveying done?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah, It’s done.” Johnny said as he went to the sideboard and poured a drink.
“ Is something wrong son?” Murdoch asked as Scott walked into the house.
“ Johnny, why is that Deputy here? He knew you as Madrid, why?” Scott asked.
“ Deputy? What Deputy?” Murdoch asked.
“ Jake hired a Deputy. He rode out to us this afternoon.” Scott explained. “ Johnny, you said you know him from the orphanage. The way you said it, I take it it’s not good?”
Johnny downed his drink, and walked over to the fireplace, wrapping his arms around his chest.
Murdoch walked up behind Johnny. “ Son, are you alright?” he asked.
When Johnny turned around, neither Scott nor Murdoch were prepared for what they seen. A tear was running down Johnny’ left cheek.
“ A part of my past I never wanted you to know about.” Johnny said softly.
“ Why don’t we go sit down son.” Murdoch suggested. “ Scott, pour us some brandy.”
Johnny walked over to the couch and sat down, wiping away the tears that betrayed him.
Scott poured three glasses of brandy and walked over to the couch, handing one to each before sitting down in the blue chair.
Johnny looked up finally and took a deep breath. “ You know I was abused in the orphanage because of my blue eyes?” he asked.
“ Yes, sadly I know son.” Murdoch responded.
“ His name is Pedro, Scott. He was the oldest of the boys at the orphanage. The one who always started shit with me the day after I arrived. It didn’t matter what it was, I was the one always blamed for what he did. Whenever the priest wasn’t around, Pedro would hit and kick me. I’d run away and hide most of the time, but they would find me and drag me back and punish me. The priest said my mother had Durmió con el diablo. Que ella debería haberme matado cuando yo era un bebé. Que tengo a satanás en mi sangre.”
“ Oh my god.” Murdoch said.
“ I’m sorry. What did he say?” Scott asked.
“ That……….priest told your brother that his mother slept with the devil. That she should have killed him when he was a baby. That he has Satan in his blood.” Murdoch said with anger. “ What the hell was wrong with that man?” Murdoch asked.
“ A man of the cloth said that to you………..I’m not familiar with how an orphanage runs, but to speak to an innocent child like that.”
“ Hell Scott, I’ve had things said to me that would anger you for the rest of your life if you knew what they were.” Johnny cut in.
“ Son, how long were you there before Jake showed up?”
“ Two years. I had run away again, and they dragged me and threw me in a closet. When I was finally let out, Pedro and some other kids started in on me when I was outside. I was sitting in the sun when they came over and started beating me. Pedro had a small knife and he wanted to know what the color of Satan’s blood was…………They hit and kicked me, someone hit me on the back of the head with a rock I think and knocked me down. I remember laying there in a daze as Pedro sat on my chest……..I could feel the knife cutting my skin, the burning………..hearing them all laugh at me until suddenly the weight on my chest was gone. I looked and Jake had pulled Pedro off me and held the knife to his throat. I finally got up and walked over to him…..I hit Pedro several times, my last blow knocking him down. Jake took the knife and tour Pedro’ shirt open. He carved the word Satan in his chest. It was deep enough it would leave a permanent scar. After that, nobody bullied me anymore because Jake was always with me. I was beaten with a strap and locked away for two weeks after that. They all said I had done it to Pedro, even though Jake told them it was he who done it.” Johnny said.
“ That’s why he tossed that knife to you? That’s the knife Jake used?” Scott asked.
“ Surely Jake knows who he is?” Murdoch asked.
“ He does. I just can’t figure out why he would hire him?” Johnny responded.
“ Maybe it’s so he knows where he’s at son? If Pedro came here to get even with you, and possibly Jake too for what was done to him, Maybe Jake knows and hiring him as his Deputy is his way of keeping an eye on him?”
“ Come to think of it…….I remember seeing him sitting at Jake’ table when I walked into the hotel that day. He wasn’t wearing a badge then, so Jake must have hired him after.” Scott said.
“ I’m going to take a ride into Spanish wells tomorrow and have a talk with both of them.” Murdoch said.
“ No you’re not” Johnny responded. “ Not alone.”
“ Son, I don’t want any trouble.”
“ There won’t be…….unless they start it.” Johnny said before standing up. “ I’m gonna get cleaned up for supper.” he said before turning and walking out of the room, headed upstairs.
“ Damn it………Why now?” Murdoch asked with anger “ When is it ever going to end for him?”
“ Sir, I was told by one of the hands that they heard in Morro Coyo that Jake is seeing Marcy.” Scott said. “ That she’s with child.”
Murdoch looked at him and shook his head.” Pregnant…..Are you sure?”
“ No, but if she is. It could be Johnny’ baby.” Scott responded.
“ Oh my god…….Teresa could very well be also.” Murdoch said.
“ Has she said anything?” Scott asked.
“ No, But I haven’t addressed the issue either.” Murdoch responded.
“ Don’t you think you should sir?”
“ I’m sure she would tell me if she is son.”
“ Maybe not. We were pretty hard on her. Maybe she’s scared to say anything.” Scott suggested.
“ I suppose you’re right son. I guess we have all been pretty distant to her.” Murdoch responded.
“ Well, If she is, she won’t be able to hide it much longer.” Scott said.
Pedro rode into Spanish wells and dismounted in front of the Sheriff’s office. Walking inside he found Jake sitting at his desk, deep in thought.
“ You alright?” he asked as he went and poured a cup of coffee.
Jake turned to face him. “ What………yeah. Just thinking about something. You have a good ride?” he asked.
“ Yeah. Felt good getting out. Learned a lot about the area.” Pedro responded.
“ Where’d ya ride to?” Jake asked.
“ Morro Coyo area. Figured I’d let people know you had a Deputy and that the law is around if needed.” Pedro responded.
Jake stood up. He knew the kid wasn’t telling it all. “ Boy, I’m gonna give you a friendly piece of advice. I know you rode out to Lancer. I don’t know if you found what you were looking for, but I’m going to say this one time, and one time only, stay away from him. He’ll kill you. Lancer don’t like trespassers. Even if they do wear a badge.”
“ I seen him and his gringo brother from the hotel lobby. Madrid does not scare me any. He is just a man like anyone else. He bleeds red also.”
Jake walked up to Pedro. “ I know why you’re here boy.” he said.
“ I came here for a job and you gave me one.” Pedro responded.
“ You must think I’m real stupid. You think I don’t remember you. I know who you are. It had been bugging me why a stranger fresh in town would be asking about Madrid. There’s only two reasons anyone would be asking. You wear that gun low so people will think you’re a gunfighter, when I know you’re not.” Jake said.
Pedro spat at Jake’ feet. “ Do not stand there and judge me.”
“ Boy, it was me who put that brand on you that day, not Madrid. Let that hate go before it gets you killed.” Jake said. “ I want that badge. You’re not using the law to carry out your revenge. Not on me…………and sure as hell not on Johnny.” Jake said as he reached up and yanked the badge off Pedro’ shirt, tearing it. “ I want you out of my town……….NOW.” Jake ordered.
Pedro glared at Jake before turning and opening the door. “ This time I will make Madrid bleed. I will make him face you.” Pedro said before leaving.
Jake stood there for a few minutes after Pedro stormed out, thinking about what he said. “ Make Madrid face me……Just what the hell are you going to do?” Jake asked himself as he went back to his desk and sat down.
“ Scott, ride out and check the alfalfa field. It should be getting close to needing cut.” Murdoch said as he mounted his horse.
“ I would feel better if I went with you and Johnny to Spanish Wells.” Scott responded. “ We can have a hand check the field?”
“ I know we could son, but I would feel better if you did it. After you check the field, ride out and see how the men are doing on that foot bridge. We’ll be back late afternoon.” Murdoch said as he turned his horse to leave.
“ What’s the matter brother, you afraid I’ll get in trouble?” Johnny asked as he swung up in the saddle.
“ Maybe I am Johnny. Jake’ made it pretty clear you two are no longer friends, and now this Pedro shows up.” Scott responded.
“ I can handle it. I’ll see ya.” Johnny said before turning the stallion and riding out after his father.
Teresa came out of the house and walked up to Scott. “ Will you be back for lunch?” she asked.
“ No. I’ll take something with me. Murdoch wants me to check the alfalfa field then ride over and see how the men are doing on the foot bridge.” Scott responded.
“ I’ll fix you a sandwich.” Teresa said before turning to go back inside.
Scott stood there and watched her walk away. Whenever Johnny or Murdoch were not around, he noticed Teresa would talk to him.
“ Teresa.” Scott called as he walked toward her.
Teresa stopped and turned back around. “ Yes.”
“ How would you like to go with me? You haven’t been out of the house and it’s such a beautiful day.” Scott suggested.
“ I’d like that Scott. I’ll just go change into my riding clothes.” Teresa responded with a smile.
Scott turned and spotted Frank coming out of the barn. “ Frank, saddle Teresa’ horse. She’s going with me today.”
“ Yes sir.” Frank responded.
“ I know telling us what you did last night wasn’t easy for you to do son.” Murdoch said as they rode toward Spanish Wells. “ Thank you.”
“ My past hasn’t always been easy Murdoch. I know there’s a lot you and Scott want to know, but it’s best you don’t know some of it.” Johnny responded.
“ I’m sorry I couldn’t find you sooner son.” Murdoch said.
Johnny stopped his horse just outside Spanish Wells. “ You tried. That’s all that matters. She lied to me about you. I know that now. All we can do is forget about it and move on.” Johnny said.
“ You know Marcy is here.” Murdoch said.
“ We’re not here to see her.” Johnny responded as he kicked the stallion.
Jake came out of his office and seen Murdoch and Johnny riding toward him. Turning he walked back inside and sat down at his desk.
“ Damn. This is not what I needed today. Why the hell are you here.” he said to himself as the door opened.
“ We want a word with you and your Deputy.” Murdoch said as he walked in, followed by Johnny, who closed the door and noticed the wanted poster on him hanging on the wall.
“ Mister Lancer, I’ll answer any questions you have, But I told your boy, he’s not welcome in my town.” Jake responded.
Johnny stepped away from the door. “ You’re going to answer our questions or me and you can step outside.” Johnny said coldly.
“ Johnny…….we came here for answers, not trouble.” Murdoch cut in.
Jake stood up and walked around his desk. “ So ask.” he said.
“ Why’d you hire him?” Johnny asked point blank.
“ Who Pedro?” Jake asked.
“ You know damn well who I’m talking about.” Johnny snapped back.
“ Look, your Deputy rode out to Lancer yesterday and followed Scott and Johnny. I want to know why you sent him out there?” Murdoch asked.
“ I didn’t send him out there. Yesterday was his day off. When he came back yesterday evening, I asked him where he went. He said he rode around the valley introducing himself to people. I knew he was lying to me, so I asked him. He said he went to Lancer and seen you and your gringo brother. Said he’s not afraid of you, that you bleed red just like anyone else.” Jake told them. “ I told him he must think I’m stupid. That I don’t know who he is. I fired him, and he rode out of town. He came here for revenge against you Johnny. I told him it was me who cut him, not you.” Jake added.
“ Still don’t explain why you hired the sonofabitch.” Johnny said.
“ Boy, you’ve forgotten what I told you once, and I’m sure your father here will agree. Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer……… Jesus Johnny, that;s why I ran you out of town that day. I didn’t want him killing you. I knew what he was up to the minute he came in and started asking about Madrid. Saying he wanted to thank you for helping his village and some other things.”
“ Is that why you cold-cocked my son?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, I hit Johnny for what he did to Marcy. I told him that.” Jake responded.
“ What he did to Marcy?…….Just what did you do to her son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Nothing.” Johnny responded. “ We’re not here because of her.”
“ He forced himself on her roughly I might add, the night before she left Lancer. You’re lucky she didn’t want to press rape charges against you, because I would have no trouble arresting your sorry ass for treating her like that.” Jake said. “ She came all the way out here with us, gave up everything to be your wife, and for what, to be treated like nothing more than that whore you were with. That’s not like you Johnny. I don’t know what crawled up your ass boy, but you better figure it out, and soon, because Pedro fully intends on having us face each other.”
“ What the hell are you talking about?” Johnny demanded.
“ Before Pedro left, he said this time I will make Madrid bleed. I will make him face you. Meaning me. I don’t know how he plans to do it, but he wants us to face each other in a gunfight Johnny.”
“ Why?” Murdoch asked.
“ Because he knows how good we both are. He wants to see us kill each other.” Jake said.
“ You can’t beat me.” Johnny said firmly.
“ Look Johnny, You wouldn’t let me explain about me and Teresa that day. Instead you wanted to fight me. We’ve know each other most of our lives kid. Do you honestly think I want to stand out on that street and face you? Do you honestly think I want to kill you? You’re like a brother to me. Yeah we’ve had some trouble, but it’s nothing we can’t move past and still be friends.”
“ Thought you were putting the past behind you when you ran me out of town that day? Your words, not mine.”
“ Yeah, I said that. How many times have I told you to let the past go?” Jake asked. “ Boy, you’re to god damn stubborn.”
“ Look, instead of you two fighting, we need to figure out what to do about Pedro.” Murdoch cut in.
“ Find him and kill him.” Johnny said coldly.
“ He was going to try and use that badge I put on him to do it.” Jake said. “ If he’s not around here, then he’s somewhere on Lancer.”
“ Scott.” Johnny said. “ He found us yesterday. He could be out there right now and have Scott in his sights.”
“ Let’s go son.” Murdoch said as he headed to the door.
“ I’ll go with you.” Jake said.
“ Why?” Johnny asked.
“ Because this is my fault. I should have told you about Pedro that day instead of running you out of town damn it. Now are we going to stand here and debate this, or are we going to find him and put a stop to this?” Jake demanded as he pushed past Johnny and went outside.
“ Alfalfa looks good.” Scott said as he got back on his horse. “ It’s knee high, so I think it’s ready to be cut.”
“ It looks thick.” Teresa said.
“ Better than the last cutting. That rain we got helped.” Scott responded. “ Let’s head over and see how the foot bridge is coming.”
“ Okay.” Teresa responded.
“ Can I ask you something Teresa?” Scott asked.
“ How long are you going to be mad at Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ I’ll tolerate Johnny, because of Murdoch and you, but I will never forgive him for how he talked to me or treated me.” Teresa responded. “ I will never speak to him again.”
“ I was mad at you also, yet you are talking to me.”
“ You didn’t kicked down my bedroom door or grab me like he did. I thought he was going to kill me Scott. The look he had in his eyes when Marcy came into the room. He raped her you know?”
“ Johnny, that night before you took Marcy to town. Johnny raped her in the barn.” Teresa said. “ I know because I heard her crying in her room, and when I went in to see what was wrong, she told me. I seen the bruises on her arm from where he grabbed her.”
“ Teresa, are you absolutely sure about that?” Scott asked.
“ Ask her if you don’t believe me.” Teresa said.
Scott stopped his horse and started to undo his canteen when a bullet slammed into him, knocking him from his horse.
“ SCOTT.” Teresa yelled as she jumped from her horse and ran to him. “ Scott, say something.” Teresa said as she removed the kerchief from his neck and started wiping away the trickle of blood on his right temple.
Pedro smiled when he seen Scott fall from his horse. Kicking his horse into a gallop, he rode down and stopped, pointing the rifle at Teresa.
“ Move away from him.” Pedro ordered as he got down.
“ Who are you?” Teresa asked.
“ You go back to that big fancy house and you tell Madrid and his friend Jake, it’s time to face off. It’s time he pays for the brand he put on me. Tell them that the gringo brother here is my insurance that they do it. I’ll be waiting in Spanish Wells. If they don’t show, especially Madrid, I will kill his brother.”
“ He needs help.” Teresa pleaded.
“ It is just a graze and nothing more. I am a very good shot. If I wanted to kill him I could have.” Pedro ordered as he grabbed Scott’ horses reins. “ Now go.”
Teresa got back on her horse and looked at Scott laying on the ground before kicking her horse and galloping off.
Murdoch, Jake and Johnny rode into the Lancer yard at a gallop. “ Frank, has Scott come back yet?” Murdoch asked as he dismounted.
“ No sir. Him and Teresa haven’t come back yet.” Frank responded.
“ Teresa, she with Scott?” Jake asked.
“ Frank, we need three fresh horses. I want you and Walt to go with us.” Murdoch ordered.
“ Why did Teresa go with him?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Scott asked me to saddle her horse. They rode out not long after you and Johnny left this morning.” Frank responded as he took the reins and led the horses away.
“ I’ll kill him if he’s hurt either one of them.” Jake said.
“ You’re gonna have to beat me to it.” Johnny said before heading into the house.
“ Your brother should be with the crew repairing the foot bridge or on their way back.” Murdoch said as Johnny and Jake walked into the house. “ Why the devil did he take Teresa with him?”
“ Maybe he thought he could get her to talk to him.” Johnny said. “ We have about two hours of daylight left.”
“ Mister Lancer. You better come out here.” Frank yelled.
Murdoch, Johnny, and Jake hurried outside and seen Teresa galloping into the yard.
“ He shot him.” she said as she got off her horse. “ He shot Scott.”
“ Who shot Scott?” Murdoch asked.
“ A Mexican man. He sent me back to tell * you * to meet him in Spanish Wells. He said that if you don’t come, he will kill Scott.”
“ Teresa, was this man about my age?” Jake asked.
“ Yes. He said for the two of you too meet him in Spanish Wells. That Scott was his insurance that you came and faced each other.” Teresa sobbed.
“ How bad was Scott hit?” Murdoch asked.
“ A graze on his right temple. He said he’s a good shot and Scott would be okay. He said that if he wanted to kill him, he would have.” Teresa responded.
“ Teresa, was Scott conscious when you left?” Johnny asked.
Teresa walked up to Johnny and slapped him hard across the face. “ This is your fault. You and that damn gun you wear.”
“ Teresa, this has nothing to do with Johnny’ gun. That man is from the orphanage we where in. He used to bully Johnny until I stopped him.” Jake said as he grabbed her arm and pulled her away from Johnny. I put the mark on him, not Johnny. You want to blame someone, then blame me.”
“ It’ll be well after dark by the time we get back to Spanish Wells.” Murdoch said. “ Where would he take Scott? People in that town know him. Where would he hide?”
Johnny glared at Teresa. His cheek burning from the slap.“ He’s bent on me and you facing each other. He’ll want a good advantage point to see us come into town”
“ That could be any rooftop.” Jake said.
“ How many have a sign or wall he could hide behind though?” Johnny asked.
“ The hotel. It has that small balcony overlooking main street. The sign up there, we wouldn’t be able to see him clearly. It would be hard to get a shot at him from below unless one of us was back enough.” Jake said. “ And it sits right in the middle of town.”
“ Let’s go.” Murdoch said.
“ Nope. This is my show old man. It’s me and Jake he wants. You don’t call the tune on this one.” Johnny ordered as he went and grabbed the reins from one of the horses Frank led out, swung in the saddle and took off.
“ Damn kid is always in a hell fire hurry to try and get himself killed.” Jake said as he walked with Murdoch to their horses.
“ Frank, you and Walt stay here with Teresa.” Murdoch ordered as he mounted his horse. “ I’m going to ask you this one time and one time only….If it comes down to it, are you going to draw on my son and kill him?”
“ Mister Lancer, like I said earlier, me and Johnny, and I guess you could say you too, we had a disagreement, fight, squabble or whatever you want to call it. It don’t change how I feel about that son of yours. Both your sons.” Jake responded.
“ You didn’t answer my question.”
“ If Johnny draws on me, I’ll do whatever I have to do, except kill him.” Jake responded before kicking his horse.
“ Murdoch, please don’t let anything happen to Jake.” Teresa pleaded. “ If he gets killed because of Johnny.” she said before turning and walking toward the house.
Johnny rode to the edge of Spanish Wells and stopped. He could hear two horses galloping toward him in the distance and knew it was Murdoch and Jake. Kicking his horse, he rode on into town, not waiting for Jake. Two buildings down from the hotel he stopped.
“ Pedro…….I’m here you sonofabitch………Let Scott go. He’s not part of this.” Johnny yelled.
Pedro stood up with Scott in front of him as a shield. “ I told you to come with that bastard gringo friend of yours Jake……..You do not follow orders well mestizo.” Pedro yelled before he hit Scott in the back with the rifle butt. “ If I do not see Sheriff Teague, I will kill your gringo brother.”
“ I’m here Pedro.” Jake yelled as he rode down the street with Murdoch. “ Let him go. It’s me you want……..I’m the one who cut you.”
“ I will have my revenge on both of you……….Get off your horses now.” Pedro ordered. “ I see your gringo father has come………He can watch you die Madrid…..Get off your horse and drop your gun gringo.”
Murdoch looked at Jake, then Johnny before dismounting and removing his gun, dropping it to the ground. “ I don’t know who you are, but you won’t get out of Spanish Wells alive………You kill my son, and I will hunt you down.” Murdoch yelled.
“ Move over onto the boardwalk behind you so I can keep an eye on you……………….Do it now.” Pedro ordered as he put the rifle barrel against Scott’ head.
Murdoch stepped over onto the boardwalk and stood next to Marcy. Lamps were being lit and people coming out of their businesses.
“ He came in a few hours ago with Scott……He ordered everyone out of the hotel.” Marcy told Murdoch.
“ Did you see how bad Scott was hurt?” Murdoch asked.
“ He has a cut on his right temple. He seemed a little disoriented as Pedro forced him upstairs.” Marcy responded. “ I don’t understand why he is doing this?”
“ He was one of the kids who beat and tortured Johnny at the orphanage.” Murdoch said.
“ Why is he here now though?” Marcy asked.
“ Because Jake stopped it. I guess him and Johnny did something to Pedro that scared him for life. He wants them to face each other.”
“ Face each other…….You mean?”
“ Yes. That………he wants Johnny and Jake to shoot it out.” Murdoch responded.
“ I said get off your horses now.” Pedro yelled.
Johnny dismounted and swatted his horse on the rump to scare it off. Looking, he seen Jake do the same.
“ You know what I want Madrid……….Do it or your brother will die.”
“ This isn’t going to solve anything Pedro…….Making us face off, you know one of us will be left standing.” Jake yelled.
“ I know you can beat Madrid. You have been faster than him for many years…………..Now give me what I want, or watch me put a bullet in his head.”
Johnny could see Scott from where he stood down the street to Scott’ left. Knowing he was in the corner of the balcony put Pedro also on his left. Glancing at Jake, then back at his brother, Johnny devised a plan to hopefully get all three of them out of this alive.
“ You trust me Scott?” Johnny yelled before glancing at his father, seeing Marcy standing next to him.
“ With my life brother.” Scott yelled back before Pedro hit him again in the back with the rifle butt, causing him to go forward over the railing just enough, Pedro had to stand up more to pull him back.
“ Oh my god.” Jake said. “ Johnny don’t.” he yelled, but it was too late. Jake had no choice but to draw and fire.
Johnny drew his colt, spun and fired up at the balcony, fanning the coltas a white hot pain hit his upper left side, dropping him to the ground as Pedro stood up and fell forward, crashing through the railing and landing on the street below dead.
“ Johnny.” Scott yelled as he watched in horror as Jake shot his brother.
Murdoch ran to his youngest sons side. “ Johnny, how bad is it son?”
Johnny tried to stand up, but couldn’t. Every breath he took hurt. Reaching down, he touched the left side of his ribs and could feel the stickiness of blood. “ Scott.” he said as he sat back against his father.
“ Scott is fine son…Your brother is safe.” Murdoch said. “ Can you stand up if I help you?”
“ Hurts to breath.” Johnny responded as Jake walked up to him.
“ Let me look and see how bad it is.” Jake said as he helped Murdoch stand Johnny up. “ Damn fool kid. You trying to get yourself killed?” Jake demanded. “ Don’t look like the bullet went in. Looks like it bounced off a rib. Probably fractured or broke it.”
“ How bad is it Murdoch?” Sam asked as he walked up.
“ Possible fracture or broken rib. He said it hurts to breath Sam.” Murdoch responded.
“ Let’s get him to my office so I can take a look.” Sam instructed.
“ Jake.” Marcy called. “ Are you alright?” she asked.
“ I’m fine Marcy. Johnny was shot.” Jake responded.
Murdoch noticed Marcy run to Jake, and not once ask about his son.
Scott came out of the hotel. “ How bad is it?”
“ I don’t think it’s to bad son. He may have a fractured or broken rib from it.” Murdoch said. “ You need to let Sam check that wound of yours.”
Sam came out of his exam room, wiping his hands. You were right, It’s a fractured rib. I removed a small splinter and cleaned the wound out good and stitched it up. You can take him home this afternoon, but only in a wagon. I don’t want him on a horse at all for several weeks.”
“ And Scott?” Murdoch asked.
“ Scott’ wound was just a superficial graze. I don’t think he has a concussion, but I recommend he stay in bed a day or two and no riding for at least a week.” Sam instructed as Jake walked into the office.
“ How are they?” he asked.
Murdoch stood up. “ Would you mind telling me why you shot my son?”
“ Johnny drew his gun. I didn’t know he was going to do what he did. I thought he was drawing on me. I told you I would do what I had to do when the time came, except kill him.”
“ So just where were you trying to hit him then?” Sam asked. “ Because you’re lucky that bullet bounced off his rib. If it hadn’t, it would have went right through his lung and into his heart.”
“ I didn’t plan on Johnny moving like he did. If he hadn’t turned.” Jake said as the door opened and Marcy walked in.
“ You, after all we did for you……You not once asked about Johnny……..Why?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Because Johnny isn’t my concern any more. Jake is.” Marcy snapped back.
“ Is that baby Johnny’?” Murdoch demanded.
“ No…..It’s Jake’. Even if it was, you think I would let my child grow up around a person like that?……….He will never be anything more that a gunfighter.”
“ You knew who and what he was in Abilene Marcy. You were attracted to Johnny because of it.” Jake said.
“ I was a fool. That last night at Lancer when I went out to the barn to try and talk to him, and he raped me, I knew then what kind of person he was, and I want nothing to do with him.”
“ How dare you accuse my son of raping you.”
“ He’s not the perfect son you think he is Mister Lancer. Ask Teresa. She seen the bruises he gave me that night.” Marcy snapped back.
“ Get out of my sight. You better pray that’s not Johnny’ baby, because if it is, I will fight you in court for it.”
“ Take this squabbling someplace else. Anyone who isn’t injured or a Lancer, get out.” Sam ordered. “ Marcy, I don’t like being lied to. You’re lucky there isn’t another doctor.”
“ You don’t need to worry Sam, I’m leaving here. I don’t want my baby anywhere near the Lancers.” Marcy said before storming out and slamming the door.
“ Jake…..I don’t know what your plans are…….but I meant what I said…If that’s Johnny’ baby she’s carrying.” Murdoch said.
“ She said it’s not his baby….. That It’s mine.” Jake said before leaving.
Johnny slowly walked into the kitchen one week later and sat down at the table to eat breakfast. Scott and Murdoch were discussing repairs needed to the barn roof and chicken coop. Neither man had talked to him very much since the incident in Spanish Wells. Teresa glared at him as usual from the stove were she was fixing flapjacks. He knew something was wrong, he just didn’t know what. Why were his brother and father giving him the cold shoulder. He knew why with Teresa, she had been mad at him ever since she was caught sleeping with Jake. Jake, now why hadn’t he been out to see him, or had he, and Murdoch ran him off?
“ Here you go Scott, Murdoch.” Teresa said as she set a plate of flapjacks down in front of them and went back and got hers.
“ Have I done something to piss you off?” Johnny asked.
Murdoch looked at him. “ I’ll thank you to not talk like that around Teresa, John.”
“ You going to answer my question?”
Teresa stood up. “ Excuse me, but I don’t think I want to eat breakfast at the same table as a rapist.” she said.
“ What the hell are you talking about Teresa?” Johnny demanded.
“ You know perfectly well what I am talking about Madrid. You raped Marcy that night in the barn. I seen the bruises you gave her. You should be in prison for what you did.” Teresa said with anger.
“ Teresa, that will be enough young lady.” Murdoch ordered. “ This is not the time or place to discuss this matter.”
“ Discuss what…….I never raped Marcy.” Johnny said with anger. “ I don’t much care for you saying I did.”
“ The comment Marcy made the night before she left says otherwise Johnny.” Scott said. “ I thought I knew you, but I guess I was wrong. I don’t know if I want a brother who would stoop so low as to treat a woman like that.”
“ I never raped Marcy. She came into the barn to talk to me. I was in a bad mood. Yeah I made love to her in the hay. She never once asked me to stop.”
“ Because she was terrified of you.” Teresa cut in. “ So many women, me included are afraid of you and that damn gun you wear.”
“ No Murdoch, I’m going to have my say. Ever since you came back here, none of my friends come here to see me because of you. None of the boys in town would ask me to a church social, or even speak to me in town because of you. I’ve been kidnapped, Scott was shot and it’s all because of you. That’s all you are and all you will ever be, Johnny Madrid, the killer. I wish Jake had killed you.”
“ Teresa, that will be enough.” Murdoch ordered.
Johnny sat there in shock at what he was hearing. His family had turned on him. Now he knew why they hadn’t spoke to him the last week. Once again his past has cost him. This time much more than he could ever get back. Standing up, Johnny turned and walked out of the kitchen, and went back upstairs to his room, slamming the door.
“ You won’t be happy until he leaves here for good will you?” Scott asked.
“ Teresa, it wasn’t your place to say anything. I had intended to speak to Johnny in private about this matter.” Murdoch said.
“ He shouldn’t be here. He needs to leave before he gets someone killed Murdoch.” Teresa snapped back.
“ That will be enough. This is his home. I lost him twice. You better hope he doesn’t leave again, because if he does, YOU will also leave this ranch. I will send you back east to a boarding school. I will not permit you to speak to Johnny that way ever again. Do I make myself clear?”
Teresa stood up, tears in her eyes. “ I hope he dies.” she said before turning and going to her room.
Johnny sat in his room looking out the window when he heard a knock, and his door open. Looking, he let out a sigh as his father walked in, and closed the door.
“ You can turn around and leave if you come up here to accuse me bullshit.” Johnny ordered.
“ I came up here to have a talk with you. I think I’m owed some answers.” Murdoch said as he walked over and sat down in the other chair.
“ Why, you already have me convicted…..You got a tree picked out?” Johnny asked with anger.
“ I’m not here to judge you John. I want to know what happened?”
“ I told you what happened. Why the hell can’t you ever believe what I say?”
“ Because Teresa said she seen the bruises, and damn it………….It’s not like you to treat a woman like that. Especially the woman you WERE going to marry.”
“ Marry…that’s a real hoot. Marcy never planned to marry me. She was in love with Johnny Madrid. We come back here and I try to be Johnny Lancer and she changed.”
“ Marcy was in love with the Madrid side of you because that’s all she knew son. She never got the chance to know the Lancer side of you………..There is a Lancer side isn’t there?”
“ My past isn’t going to go away old man. You’ve seen that since I came back. What are you going to do if someone rides in here and guns me down huh? Someone who don’t call me out, but wants people to know he killed Johnny Madrid.”
“ I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow anyone to come in here and kill my son.” Murdoch responded.
“ Did Jake shoot me?” Johnny asked.
Murdoch sighed and leaned back in the chair. “ Yes. He said he thought you were going to shoot him. Why in gods name did you do what you did son?”
“ Pedro would have killed Scott. I did what I had to do to save my brothers life. I’d do it again if I had to.” Johnny responded.
“ Don’t you think it would have been better if you had let Jake know your intentions, instead of riding in there being reckless.” Murdoch asked.
“ Reckless…Is that what you think I am old man?” Johnny demanded. “ Is that what you think of me?”
“ I don’t know what to think of you John. You think that gun is the answer to all your problems……..Son, you’re not in this alone anymore. Stop shutting us out damn it. We’re a family and Lancer takes care of it’s own. Always has, always will.”
“ She never taught me.” Johnny said softly.
“ What, who never taught you?” Murdoch asked.
“ My mother. She never taught me about love. I’ve never hurt a woman Murdoch. I won’t do to them what I seen done to my mother. It’s not me. You can ask any whore I’ve been with since Anna. I’m not meant to have a woman in my life to love me, and give me children. I don’t deserve that.”
“ Yes you do son. Every man deserves to find happiness, including a good woman to love that loves him, but it has to be for the right reasons.” Murdoch responded.
“ Right reasons……..As long as I have Johnny Madrid hanging around, I’ll never have that.”
“ There’s something you need to know…..Marcy is with Jake now……..She’s pregnant.”
Johnny’ head snapped up. “ She’s what?”
“ She said it’s not your baby. That it’s Jake’.” Murdoch responded.
“ Jake’…….I guess he didn’t waste any time. I need you te send someone to Spanish Wells. Have them tell Jake I need to see him.”
“ Why?” Murdoch asked.
“ That’s between me and him old man. Now are you going to do it, or do I have to ride over there myself?” Johnny demanded.
“ Alright, I’ll have Frank go.” Murdoch said as he stood up. “ You didn’t eat any breakfast. Want me to have Maria fix you something?”
“ I’m alright Kinda lost my appetite. I think I’ll lay down now. Sam’ supposed to be out this afternoon to remove my stitches.”
“ Alright son. I’ll see you’re not disturbed.” Murdoch said as he walked to the door and opened it.
“ Is it supposed to be difficult?” Johnny asked as he started to remove his shirt.
“ Is what?”
“ I think if it wasn’t, two people wouldn’t know they loved each other son. A relationship is bound to have trying times, but it’s love that keeps that relationship together.”
“ Like us?”
“ Yes, like us son. Get some rest.”
Sam stopped his buggy outside the Lancer house and got down. The veranda door was open, so he walked inside, and found Murdoch standing behind his desk looking out the big bay window.
“ Everything alright?” Sam asked.
Murdoch turned around. “ What, I’m sorry Sam, I didn’t hear you come in.”
“ I asked if everything was alright. You looked like you were miles away in thought.” Sam said.
“ I guess I was. If you’re here to check Johnny’ wound, he’s up in his room resting.” Murdoch said.
Sam could tell something was wrong. Sighing, he shook his head and headed for the stairs.
Johnny sat at the table drumming his fingers lightly on the table when his door opened and Sam walked in. “ Hey Sam.” he said as he stood up.
“ John, If the mood in this house gets any more somber, I’d think there had been a death.” Sam said as he walked over to Johnny and set his bag on the table.
“ If Teresa and others had their way Sam, I would be.” Johnny said with sadness.
“ Why don’t you come over here, take your shirt off, and sit on the bed so I can check your wound, and explain to me what’s been going on?” Sam suggested.
“ My life isn’t worth shit anymore Sam, is what’s going on.” Johnny said as he pulled his shirt out of his pants and started unbuttoning it.
“ From the mood you seem to be in, I take it you two had an argument again?” Sam asked.
“ There hasn’t been a day go by Sam that one of them isn’t made at me. Hell this morning I go down for breakfast and wanted to know why they’ve been so……..I don’t know…….They’ve hardly spoke to me at all all week. Teresa accuses me of raping Marcy, and tells me I belong in prison or should be dead. Murdoch tells me that Jake was the one who shot me, oh and let’s not forget, Marcy is pregnant and swears it’s Jake’ baby, not mine and that even if it was, I would never be allowed around it because of who I am. So you tell me Sam, just what kind of mood am I supposed to be in?” Johnny said with sadness. “ Just between you and me Sam, I don’t know why I even bothered to come back here. Who was I kidding to think I could ever fit in here.”
“ This is your home John, your birthright. Don’t let others take that away from you.” Sam said.
“ How far along is she Sam?”
“ Johnny, you know I can’t discuss my patient with you.” Sam responded.
“ The last time I was with her was almost four months ago Sam…….I just need to know if there’s a small chance that baby she’s carrying is mine or is it Jake’?”
“ I could lose my license John.”
“ Nobody will know you said anything. I’m just asking how far along she is.”
“ Around four months.” Sam said as he undid the bandage around Johnny’ chest. “ I don’t know when she was with Jake, but I would say there’s a good chance it’s your baby she’s carrying……Lay down on your side so I can remove those stitches.”
Johnny laid down on his right side and brought his arms up under his face so Sam could see the wound.
“ Now, why don’t you tell me why Teresa wants you dead.” Sam suggested as he started to remove the stitches.
“ Because I found out she slept with Jake, and confronted her about it. I was angry with her for letting it happen.” Johnny responded.
“ I see…..And what about Jake, were you angry with him too?” Sam asked as he removed the last stitch.
“ We got into a fight. It was my fault mostly. I rode out and confronted him instead of doing what Scott asked me to do.”
“ I see, and Scott, he didn’t know this happened between them?” Sam asked.
“ No, not until I told him. Teresa has been angry with me ever since. What she said this morning to me, I never thought I would ever hear her say.” Johnny said.
“ You can sit up now.” Sam said. “ Families have disagreements, but it sounds like this one, Teresa isn’t willing to forget and move on. Can you?” Sam asked
“ Hell Sam, I’m trying to, but it’s a little hard to do that when they won’t let me.”
“ Has Scott said anything to you about any of this?”
“ He said plenty this morning. He believes I raped Marcy that last night she was here. Sam…….I have never mistreated a woman. She came out to the barn to see me. I was angry and tired,……..I guess I was a little rough with her. She never once told me to stop. The next morning is when I find out she’s leaving. Scott took her to Spanish Wells. I didn’t know where she was until Last week.”
“ I’m going to leave that unwrapped so you can soak in a hot bath now that the stitches are out. I want you to be careful because if you fall or hit that rib, it will break.” Sam instructed.
“ If that is my child she’s carrying, I don’t want it growing up being a bastard Sam. I don’t want it being treated like I was.” Johnny said as he stood up to put his shirt back on.
“ I can’t help you there John. From what you’ve told me, I don’t think Marcy will ever take you back. I think she’s set her sights on Jake. I’ve seen them together in town. They looked pretty happy together.” Sam said as he closed up his medical bag. “ Let me ask you this, Are you happy here?”
“ I want to be.” Johnny responded.
“ Do you want to stay here?”
“ I don’t want to live by my damn gun anymore Sam. I want to be Murdoch’ son, but I don’t see how that will happen if……….”
“ If they don’t accept who you are…….Which brings up another question,…..Who are you?”
“ I don’t rightly know anymore Sam.”
“ Okay, you say you want to give it up, living by your gun. That you want to be Murdoch’ son. Why don’t you start proving it to him John? Murdoch can be a fool sometimes, and he’s a very proud, stubborn man, but I know he would love nothing more than to have both his sons helping him run this ranch.”
“ And Teresa, what am I supposed to do about her? I don’t know how much longer I can take her evil looks and bullshit remarks.”
“ Confront her. Tell Teresa this is your home and not her or anyone else is running you off Lancer. Do it as nicely as possible in front of Murdoch and Scott, that way they know what was said. To tell the truth, I never thought I’d see the day Teresa would turn spiteful to anyone. She’s always been such a nice young lady.”
“ She was until that night with Jake. So how long until I can do any work or riding?”
“ Not for several weeks I’m afraid John. A fractured rib is much worse than a broken one. Try not to be around anything that will make you cough or have to take deep breaths.”
“ The old man isn’t gonna like that.” Johnny said.
“ I’ll inform Murdoch. You just follow my instructions. Soak in a hot bath this evening. It will help. Now, I have another patient I need to go see. If it gets to hurting to much, have Scott or Murdoch wrap it back up.”
“ I will, and Sam, thanks.”
“ I want to have a talk with everyone after supper.” Johnny said, breaking the silence.
“ What about son?” Murdoch asked even though he had a pretty good idea what was coming. Or at least he hoped he did.
“ It’ll keep to we’re done eating.” Johnny responded. Teresa’ dirty looks didn’t go unnoticed. “ Momacita, this taste wonderful.” Johnny said with a smile as Maria walked into the room.
“ No comiste desayuno ni almuerzo. Me alegra que esté comiendo la cena.” Maria said. ( You did not eat breakfast or lunch. I am glad you are eating supper.)
“ Un poco perdí el apetito esta mañana, y dormí durante el almuerzo. Lo siento momacita.¿ Me olvidarás ?” Johnny responded. ( Kinda lost my appetite this morning and I slept through lunch. I’m sorry momacita. Will you forgive me?)
“ I think it’s pretty rude to carry on a conversation with the hired help.” Teresa cut in.
“ So learn Spanish. You’ve lived here your whole life. It’s not my fault you don’t know the language.” Johnny snapped back as he stood up and walked into the grand room.
“ I see no need to learn a language that means nothing to me. She is the hired help and nothing more. She can speak English. She just chooses not too whenever you’re around.”
“ Let me tell you something Teresa, Maria is not just the hired help. She’s a part of this family. I’ll not have you being disrespectful of her. You will show her respect, and stop acting like a sniveling little girl.”
Scott looked at Murdoch, wondering if he was going to put an end to this discussion before it got out of control.
“ I think you both need to drop it now.” Scott suggested as he stood up.
“Your brother has a right to speak his mind Scott.” Murdoch cut in. “ Teresa, Johnny’ right. You should know Spanish, and I will not have you speak that way about Maria. She’s never done anything to you to warrant you speaking of her like you are. Maria is a part of this family. Do I make myself clear young lady?”
“ I am not a sniveling little girl. I’m a woman. Stop treating me like a child.” Teresa said.
“ A woman huh?………You think that just because you slept with Jake, that makes you all grown up. I got news for you Teresa, It doesn’t. The way you’ve been acting makes you anything but.” Johnny said.
“ What would you know about a woman? All you know are those saloon whores.” Teresa responded as she stood up and walked over to face Johnny.
“ Anna wasn’t a saloon girl whore. Neither was Marcy……I don’t know why you hate me so much Teresa. I’ve never done anything to you……..I risked my life to save you. I thought of you like a sister. You’re little remarks you think I don’t hear, and dirty looks you give me whenever I walk into a room need to stop. This is my home, I’m not about to let a spoiled brat like you run me off Lancer. I was born here and Lancer is my birthright. So I suggest you let all this hate and anger you have for me go because you’re gonna push me too far one day little girl……….And just in case you’re thinking you and Jake will be together again, forget it. He’s with Marcy.” Johnny responded.
Scott walked over and sat on the edge of the desk, a little shocked hearing what his brother was telling Teresa about Marcy.
The sound was almost deafening. Teresa slapped Johnny as hard as she could. “ You’re lying. Jake loves me. He wants to be with me, not her.”
Johnny glared at Teresa as he took a couple deep breaths to keep his anger in check. “ That’s the last time you slap me.” he said coldly.
“ I’m not afraid of you. I will be with Jake again, and you can’t stop me.”
“ Murdoch, why don’t you tell Teresa who Marcy ran to in Spanish Wells, when Johnny was shot.” Scott suggested.
“ Jake, she never once asked how Johnny was.” Murdoch responded. “ I’m going to say something. Teresa, I’ve turned a blind eye to how you have been treating Johnny, but not anymore. Now I love you like you were my own flesh and blood. Your father was my best friend for many years. I don’t think Paul would be too happy with your behavior lately………Now me and Scott did some talking the other night, he wrote his grandfather and asked him to do some checking around. I’ve decided I’m sending you back east, to Boston to a boarding school. Scott says there is one thirty three miles from Boston called The Governor’s Academy.” Murdoch said.
“ Teresa, this school was built back in seventeen sixty three. It’s a co-educational school located in the village of Byfield. It’s a beautiful place, and the teachers there are wonderful.” Scott said.
“ You went to Harvard, so how would you know?” Teresa snapped back.
“ Because I went there before I attended Harvard. My Grandfather has agreed to allow you to stay with him during the holidays and weekends if you chose to.” Scott responded. “ You can even attend some of his parties, meet some really nice people. There’s quit a lot that happens in the fall in Boston. Grandfather knows many wealthy people.”
“ So you’re just going to get rid of me because of him?” Teresa demanded as she pointed to Johnny.
“ It’s not because of Johnny. It’s because of your attitude young lady. I honestly don’t know what else to do with you Teresa. It’s like I don’t even know you anymore.” Murdoch responded.
“ You never knew me. You never loved me. I was just a fill in until your boys came home. You never wanted me.”
“ Is that what you think?” Murdoch asked. “ Teresa, I have always loved you. Watching you grow up has been such a joy for me. The way you would decorate the house at holiday time. Always checking on me when I stayed up late. It was you who took care of me when I was shot in the back when your father was killed. You once spoke about how you would love to go back east and see the big cities. I don’t understand why you’re not happy about this.”
“ How come you waited until now to send me?” Teresa demanded.
“ My decision is final.” Murdoch said. “ You are my ward for three more years, and during that time, I will do as I see fit for you. Sending you back east for a proper education and to learn how a lady is supposed to act is perfectly within my rights. You will leave the end of summer. Scott will take you to Morro Coyo where you will get on a stage and go to Sacramento, from there you will catch the train to Boston.”
“ But Lancer is my home. It’s all I’ve ever known.” she said with tears in her eyes.
“ It will always be your home Teresa, but it’s time you learn about things a young lady should know about, not cattle breeding and such.” Murdoch said.
“ It’s only for three years. Why I bet you won’t even want to leave Boston.” Scott said.
Teresa looked around at the three Lancer men, stopping and glaring at Johnny. This is all your fault. I wish you had never come back here.” she said before going to her room and slamming the door shut.
Johnny walked over and poured a shot of tequila, and downed it before walking out the veranda doors.
“ Did you know Johnny was going to do that tonight?” Scott asked as he went to the sideboard and poured two drinks.
“ I had my suspicions. Your brother doesn’t always say what’s on his mind, you know that. I think he has had enough and tonight was the final straw for him. I’m doing the right thing son. I don’t want to lose your brother again.”
“ My brother……..I thought I knew him, but ever since we came back home, I’m beginning to wonder if I ever knew him at all.”
“ Maybe when Teresa is gone, the two of you can start patching things up between you, and get to know each other again?” Murdoch suggested. “ I know he would talk to you about things he wouldn’t say to me son.”
“ Not any more he won’t. I’m just waiting for him to come at me because I knew about Jake and Marcy. About her being with child.”
“ Maybe your brother will just want to talk to you about it. He’s not likely to start a fight with you son, he’s nursing a fractured rib.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Somehow I doubt that will stop him sir. I think I will turn in early tonight.” Scott said as he headed to the stairs.
“ Alright son. I’ll see you in the morning.”
Johnny didn’t like being cooped up. Sam had said on his last visit that he would still have to wait at least a couple more weeks before he would clear him to ride. Leading the stallion out of the barn, he was stopped by his father.
“ Sam hasn’t cleared you to ride yet has he son?”
“ No, I’m walking him down to the south paddock so he can run and stretch his legs, and eat some of that green grass. He won’t let anyone else ride him, and he needs exercise.” Johnny responded.
“ Mind if I walk with you?” Murdoch asked.
“ No.” Johnny said.
“ You know son, I meant what I said before about you breeding this stallion to a couple mares.” Murdoch said as they walked.
“ You didn’t come out here to talk about breeding my stallion. You got something to say old man, say it.” Johnny said as he opened the gate and led the stallion in.
“ Alright……It’s your brother. I can’t help but notice the two of you hardly speak to each other.” Murdoch stated.
Johnny turned the stallion loose and came out of the paddock and closed the gate. “ Got nothing to say to Scott.”
“ Can I ask why?”
“ I think you know the answer to that.” Johnny responded as he hung the halter and lead rope on the gate.
“ Look..me and Scott gotta work this out between us okay. I don’t much like being betrayed, and it seems that’s been happening to me a lot lately.” Johnny said.
“ I take it Jake hasn’t been out to see you yet?”
“ Been over a month since I asked. Guess he figures I’m not worth his time. He’s got Marcy now, so……”
“ Maybe he needs time to think son.” Murdoch suggested.
“ To think……think about what? How he betrayed me?” Johnny asked. “ How he shot me?”
“ Son, Jake told me he shot you because when you drew, he thought you were going to shoot him. He could have killed you, but he didn’t.”
“ He should have known I wouldn’t try to kill him.” Johnny said.
“ I’ve never been in your profession son, so let me ask you this. If it had been the other way around, wouldn’t you have done the same thing?” Murdoch asked.
Johnny stopped walking. “ That’s the first time you’ve ever called it that instead of saying gunfighter.” Johnny said. “ I guess I see what you’re saying.”
“ Believe it or not John, I am trying to change. It’s just…….sometimes it’s so damn hard to talk to you. I lose my temper with you when I don’t mean to.” Murdoch responded.
“ I don’t exactly make it easy for you either………Guess we’re to much alike. You mad at me for speaking up that night about Teresa?”
“ No son, not now I’m not. I wish you had given me a heads up that you were going to do that.”
“ Had a good talk with Sam, he pointed some things out to me.” Johnny said. “ I screwed up Murdoch……I had a woman who loved me, and I blew it. I don’t blame Marcy for leaving me. If she wants to be with Jake, and he want’s her, so be it. I hope they’re happy together.”
“ I don’t think it’s fair for you to put all the blame on yourself for Marcy leaving son. It’s pretty clear she was in love with Johnny Madrid, and with you trying to become Johnny Lancer, I don’t think that fit into her plans.” Murdoch responded.
“ I guess if you want grandchildren running around this place, it will have to be from Scott.”
“ Can I say something son and you not get mad?” Murdoch asked.
“ I think you’re too hard on yourself sometimes. When your mother left me, when I woke up and found her gone and you with her, I blamed myself for a lot of years. I blamed myself because I was so busy building up this ranch I didn’t spend the time she wanted with her during the day. I now know that’s not the real reason she left me. It’s like with you and Marcy, she wanted to marry you because of who you were, Johnny Madrid. Your mother, she married me because she was pregnant with you and wanted only good for you, as did I. I still do. I didn’t know people were being the way they were to her because she never told me. I guess I didn’t think people I thought were my friends would ever be that way to your mother. I spent every minute I could with her, and you. She would get so mad at me when I would put you on a horse with me and we would be gone several hours. Those are the only real memories I have of you. I only got the first two years of your life with you. All those years later you show up here a grown man. Your mother took from me what I can never get back. I guess what I’m trying to say son is give it time. You’ll find someone fall in love and have children.”
“ You know, for a long time I was mad at you for getting my mother pregnant. I hated you for it in fact. I guess it was because of the way others treated me in Mexico. Murdoch, Lancer is my home, my birthright, and I’m not going to let Teresa or anyone run me off this place. I like having a place I can call home. A roof over my head and a bed to sleep in every night.” Johnny said.
“ Hearing you say that makes me happy son.”
“ Who’s that?” Johnny asked as he looked at a buggy approaching.
“ Looks like Father Micheal.” Murdoch said as he started walking toward the approaching buggy followed by Johnny. “ Father Micheal, What brings you to Lancer?”
“ I thought I would come and see how Johnny is doing.” Father Micheal said as he climbed down from his buggy. “ It’s good to see you out and about John. Your wound must be doing better?”
“ It’s getting there Father.” Johnny responded.
“ Is your other son Scott here?” Father Micheal asked.
“ He had to go to Morro Coyo for me. He should be back shortly.” Murdoch said.
“ A wire came for him. I told Ben I would deliver it since I was coming out here.”
“ A wire, why thank you Father. Let’s go inside and have some cool lemonade.” Murdoch suggested.
Scott walked into the house late afternoon. “ I finished that banking business you asked me to take care of. Oh, hello Father Micheal. What brings you out here?”
“ I came out to visit with Johnny and to bring a telegram that came for you.” Father Micheal said as he took the wire out of his pocket and handed it to him.
“ A telegram for me.” Scott said as he stood up. “ It must be from Grandfather.” he added as he took the wire.
“ Teresa, could you get us all some cold lemonade?” Murdoch asked.
“ Of course. I’ll just be a minute.”
“ Is everything alright son?” Murdoch asked his oldest.
“ What, oh yes, everything is fine. It would seem that Grandfather is coming here for a visit.” Scott responded.
“ Coming here…….Why?” Murdoch asked a little harsher than intended.
“ He doesn’t say. All he says is he will be arriving on the twenty fourth.” Scott responded.
“ The twenty fourth……That’s in two days.” Johnny said.
“ What’s in two days?” Teresa asked as she walked in carrying a tray full of cookies and lemonade.
“ It would seem my Grandfather will be arriving here Saturday.” Scott responded.
“ That’s wonderful news. You haven’t seen him since you left Boston.” Teresa stated as she handed out the glasses of lemonade to everyone except Johnny. “ I made these oatmeal cookies this morning Father Micheal.”
Johnny walked over to the sideboard and poured a shot of tequila and downed it.
“ A might early for that isn’t it son?” Murdoch asked, having noticed how Teresa had not brought him a glass.
Johnny turned and looked at his father. “ Excuse me. I think I’ll go back outside where it’s cooler.” he said before walking out the veranda doors.
“ Teresa, that was rude of you to do. I warned you about your behavior toward Johnny. I want it to stop, and stop now.” Murdoch ordered.
Father Micheal looked between the two. He could tell the hostility was still there between Johnny and Teresa. “ If you will excuse me. I did come out here to talk to Johnny. Thank you for the cookies and lemonade.” Father Micheal said before walking out the veranda doors to look for Johnny, finding him sitting in the shade by the front door.
“ Mind if I join you?” Father Micheal asked.
“ Not at all. I never got a chance to tell you thanks for warning me about those two behind me that day.” Johnny said as Father Micheal sat down.
“ I can see in your eyes that you are troubled. Would you care to talk about what’s bothering you?” Father Micheal asked.
“ You seen part of it in there.” Johnny said.
“ Aah Teresa. Is it possible she miscounted on the glasses?”
“ No. Me and Teresa had it out a month ago Father. She’s leaving in the fall. Murdoch is sending her back east to a private school, and that just gave her more reason to hate me, and want me dead.”
“ Want you dead. Surely she doesn’t wish that.” Father Micheal suggested.
“ Oh she does. She came right out and said it to my face several times. Said she wished I had never come back here. Lancer is my home. I’m not going to let her run me off.”
“ Is Lancer not her home as well?”
“ Never said it wasn’t. I’m not the bad guy here Father. I didn’t make her do what she did with my best friend. I’m not the one making her treat me like she is. She made those decisions. If she can’t accept that what she did was wrong, that’s her fault. I’m just tired of her treating me like shit.” Johnny responded.
“ I have talked a great deal with your father. Helping him see the errors of his ways in how he speaks to you, and even treats you. I’m afraid however that I would not be able to help Teresa. I’m afraid it is a lost cause. She has let her anger go too deep.”
“ You say she’s a lost cause Father, yet you didn’t feel that way about me. Why is that?” Johnny asked.
“ Because you have never hid who you are. You accept all that goes with being Johnny Madrid, and now you are accepting all that goes with being Johnny Lancer also. You say Teresa is not willing to accept what she has done. I am afraid that until she does, I cannot help her. My words would fall on deaf ears.”
“ I guess I see what you’re saying. Just never had it said to me like that before.” Johnny said with a slight laugh.
“ Your friend Jake, have the two of you spoken at all since he shot you?” Father Micheal asked.
“ No. I sent word over a month ago I’d like to see him, but he hasn’t come around. Guess he’s to busy for me.” Johnny responded.
“ I was in Spanish Wells last week, and I seen your friend in the company of the young lady you were to marry. They seemed very comfortable together.” Father Micheal said.
“ Seems I’m meant to be betrayed Father.” Johnny said softly.
“ Yeah. I know losing Marcy was my own stupid fault, but to have my supposed to be best friend sleep with her. That’s just wrong.”
“ Johnny, It’s none of my business why you and young lady are no longer, but don’t you think you’re being a bit selfish?” Father Micheal asked.
“ Selfish, how you figure?”
“ Since you two are no longer a couple, doesn’t she have the right to find a man and be happy?”
“ Yeah, but why Jake?” Johnny asked.
“ I see. So it’s not so much she has found another man to love her, it’s who that other man is, am I correct?”
Johnny stood up and walked over to the veranda wall, turned around and leaned back against it. “ I feel like Jake stabbed me in the back. I have no chance of getting Marcy back now.”
“ Can I ask why you feel that way?” Father Micheal asked.
Johnny pushed away from the wall and walked around it to stand in the hot afternoon sun. “ Because she’s pregnant.” he said softly.
Father Micheal stood up and walked over to stand next to Johnny. “ I see. How does that make you feel?”
“ How does it make me feel? Father……..I wanted to have children with Marcy. We were to have a life together. When Jake slept with Teresa, he betrayed me and my fathers trust doing that. I got so angry at him, It ended up costing me Marcy. The last time I was with her before she left…….there’s a chance that baby she’s carrying could be mine….How am I supposed to feel?”
“ Does she know if it is your baby she carries?” Father Micheal asked.
“ She told Murdoch I would never be allowed around it. That she doesn’t want her baby being around a gunfighter. Hell, she fell in love with me in Abilene, knowing I was a gunfighter. Now that I’m trying to get out of the game and become Johnny Lancer, she hates me.”
“ So it was the gunfighter in you that she loved. Maybe it is for the better that you two are not together?” Father Micheal suggested.
“ All the trouble that has happened since I came back here, with Teresa being kidnapped because of me. Scott got kidnapped because of me. Maybe I shouldn’t have come back. Maybe Teresa is right. Maybe I should leave? I’ve caused nothing but trouble since.”
“ What does your heart tell you?” Father Micheal asked.
“ Right now I don’t really know. Part of it is telling me to stay.” Johnny responded.
“ And what do * you * want to do?”
“ Live a normal life. Well as normal as possible. I want to be the son Murdoch never got the chance to be with. I want to be Scott’ little brother.”
“ Then I think you have your answer already.” Father Micheal suggested.
Johnny sighed and toed a rock at his feet. “ Yeah, I guess I do. I like having a place to call home. I just wished my past would stay just that……my past.”
“ Give it time. All good things come to those who wait John.” Father Micheal suggested. “ Now, how do you feel about your brothers Grandfather coming here?”
“ Harlan, I’ve never met the man. Don’t really know how to feel about him. I mean, I’m happy for Scott, but I know there’s no love lost between him and Murdoch.”
“ Is that because Mr Garrett raised Scott back in Boston?” Father Micheal asked.
“ No, it’s because Scott’ mother married Murdoch. Thought he was daft, not a year off the boat from Inverness. They married and came out here. She died giving birth to Scott. Murdoch left him in their hands to raise.”
“ Excuse me Father, but would you like to stay for supper?” Teresa asked.
“ That sounds wonderful. If it’s no bother.” Father Micheal responded.
“ Not at all. I’ll set another plate.” Teresa said before turning and walking back inside.
“ I think I’m gonna go for a walk Father. Thank you.” Johnny said.
“ I’m here for you any time you wish to talk John. You have a good heart. You’re a good person. Stop being so hard on yourself.”
“ Murdoch said the very same thing earlier today.” Johnny said before walking away.
“ I imagine you are pretty excited to see your Grandfather?” Father Micheal asked Scott as they ate supper.
Scott glanced at his father. “ Why yes I am. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him.” he responded.
“ Why that man is coming here is beyond me.” Murdoch said.
“Are you saying he’s not welcome here?” Scott asked.
“ No. I just want to know his reasons for coming here. Especially on such a short notice.”
“ And what…….I’m not reason enough for him to come here?”
“ Look Murdoch……He’s Scott’ Grandfather. Why does he need a reason other than that?” Johnny cut in and asked.
“ Because I know what kind of man Harlan Garrett can be. He isn’t coming here just to see Scott.” Murdoch responded.
“ With all due respect sir, my Grandfather shouldn’t have to explain his reasons for coming here. He is the man who raised me after all.”
“ Since he’s coming here. He can escort Teresa back to Boston with him.” Johnny suggested.
“ So you are going to Boston. I imagine you’re excited about going to a big city?” Father Micheal asked.
“ It’s not by choice I assure you Father.” Teresa responded as she shot an evil look at Johnny. “ I’m being shipped off to Boston because I’m an inconvenience around here.”
“ That’s not true and you know it.” Johnny cut in. “ When are you going to admit your behavior has been rude and what you did was wrong?” he demanded.
“ My behavior……..How about yours? How about the way you have treated me? I still have nightmares from that day you kicked in my bedroom door and grabbed my arm. If Marcy hadn’t come in when she did, god knows what you would have done to me” Teresa said with anger.
“ Why do you find it so hard to admit when you were wrong?” Father Micheal asked.
“ I wasn’t wrong in anything I did with Jake. What I did was no different than you coming down to Marcy’ room at night to be with her when you knew Murdoch didn’t want you doing that. You think that just because your last name is Lancer, that gives you a right to do whatever you want.” Teresa snapped back. “ Let me tell you something. Your last name may be Lancer, but that’s only because Murdoch married your mother so you wouldn’t be a bastard.”
“ TERESA, THAT WILL BE ENOUGH.” Murdoch ordered.
“ Actually Mister Lancer, I think Teresa should say what is on her mind. Get it out in the open. I expect there is more here than what happened between her and Jake.” Father Micheal suggested.
“ I will not permit that kind of talk in this house. Especially in your presence Father.”
“ I assure you, what I just heard is nothing compared to some of the confessions I hear………Tell me Teresa, why do you find it so necessary to speak so ill of Johnny’ mother?”
“ Because she was. She got pregnant with…………him and trapped Murdoch into marrying her.”
“ And what’s that make you?” Johnny demanded. “ Yeah he seduced my mother. Yeah they had sex before they were married. Yeah he got my mother pregnant with me before they were married. What if Jake had gotten you pregnant huh? What if that had happened and he didn’t want to marry you?”
“ I am nothing like her, so don’t you dare sit there and say I am. Jake loves me……..”
“ Loves you huh……That why he’s with Marcy? That why she’s pregnant? As for my mother, you know nothing about it because you weren’t even born yet. All you know is what he’s told you……or you made up in your devious little mind……..I have never done anything but love and protect you Teresa. I’m sorry you were kidnapped because of me. I’m sorry I was up the morning you snuck out of Jake’ room and came downstairs. I can’t change the past. What’s done is done. All I can do is worry about the future, my future and trying to be the son of a rancher.” Johnny said. “ You think I wanted to live by my gun………I was a half-breed kid in Mexico with no parents. I did what I had to do to stop the abuse I was getting, some of which I will carry scars from for the rest of my life. That part of my past will never go away. I’m sorry you want to hate me so damn bad now, because all I ever wanted to do was love you like the little sister I thought you could be. I guess I thought wrong.” Johnny said as he threw his napkin down on his plate and stood up. “ If you don’t mind.” Johnny said before walking away, and going upstairs to his room.
Scott stood up. “ If you’ll excuse me.” Scott said as he left the table and went upstairs talk to his brother.
“ I want to apologize for what just happened Father Micheal. I’m afraid Teresa and Johnny will never speak nicely to each other again.” Murdoch said.
“ That’s alright Mister Lancer. You know Teresa, it’s really not good to hold so much anger inside for something that has happened. Like Johnny said, it’s in the past. Surely the sweet young lady I met two years ago can find it in her heart to move on, and let the past go? Johnny seems to want to do that.” Father Micheal said.
“ We all do Father.” Murdoch added.
“ Well it’s getting late and I must head back to my church. Maybe I can see you all at services on Sunday?” Father Micheal asked.
“ I don’t know Father, with Scott’ Grandfather being here and all.” Murdoch replied.
“ I understand. Please give my best to Johnny and Scott.” Father Micheal said as he headed to the door.
Scott stopped outside Johnny’ bedroom door and knocked before opening the door. “ Can I come in?”
“ Go ahead.” Johnny responded as he walked over and sat down in a chair by the window.
“ I want to thank you for speaking up on my Grandfathers behalf.” Scott said after he closed the door and walked over to sit down in the other chair.
“ De nada…..So how come the old man don’t like your Grandfather?”
“ That little brother is a question I unfortunately don’t have an answer for..” Scott responded.
“ So what’s he like?” Johnny asked.
“ He’s up front and outspoken. Grandfather built an empire back in Boston. He’s a very important man to many. He’s a bit like Murdoch.” Scott responded.
“ Like Murdoch……I don’t think anyone is like our old man Scott.” Johnny said with a smile. “ So how long have you known?”
“ I’m sorry. How long have I known what?” Scott asked.
“ About Marcy and Jake.”
“ Does it matter?”
“ Yeah it does Scott. I’ve been betrayed by a lot of people lately. I’d really hate for you to be one of them.”
“ I’ve never betrayed you Johnny. Me and Murdoch decided it would be best to not tell you. I know now that was a mistake. I’m sorry.”
Johnny stood up. “ You know, once someone betrays me, it’s not easy for me to trust them again. I’ll ask you again, how long did you know?”
“ Since before Jake shot you. Marcy confirmed it in Sam’ office when she came in to see Jake when Sam was taking care of you.” Scott responded as he stood up and walked over to Johnny. “ So where does that leave us?” Scott asked.
Johnny drummed his left hand fingers on his thigh as he glared at his brother before turning to walk back over to the window.
Scott reached out and grabbed Johnny’ left arm. “ Johnny, I’m sorry.”
Johnny spun and swung, hitting Scott in the mouth, knocking him back into the dresser. “ Think of that the next time you and the old man decide to keep something from me…….brother.”
Scott got up and wiped the trickle of blood from his bottom lip. “ Feel better now?”
“ Yeah I do.” Johnny responded as he walked over and picked up the towel and dipped it in water, and handed it to Scott.
“ Thanks. Remind me to never really piss you off.” Scott said as he took the towel and held it to his lip.
“ Your Grandfather know about me?” Johnny asked.
“ He knows I have a brother yes.” Scott responded.
“ Does he know I’m a half-breed?” Johnny asked.
“ He knows your mother was a Mexican.” Scott responded.
“ Murdoch tell him that?” Johnny asked as he turned to face Scott.
“ No. Murdoch and my Grandfather have rarely talked.” Scott responded.
“ Then how does he know?”
“ I wrote and told him about you. How after all those years of searching Murdoch finally had you home. I asked him why he never told me I had a little brother.”
“ And what did he tell you?”
“ He never answered my question.”
“ You’re lying. What did he say Scott?”
“ He said I didn’t have a brother. That you were a gunfighter, and……….”
“ And what?”
“ Why does this matter Johnny?”
“ Because that man is coming here Scott. I need to know what to expect from him. That’s why.”
“ It doesn’t matter what my Grandfather thinks about you. You’re my brother and I don’t give a damn if he likes that or not.”
“ You gonna say that to his face the first time he calls me a mestizo or half-breed?”
“ Yes I will. I’m not going to let anyone talk bad about you Johnny. God knows you’ve had enough of that in your lifetime.”
“ You didn’t speak up downstairs when Teresa was saying what she was.” Johnny said.
“ I didn’t speak up because you were handling it. If you hadn’t then I would have.” Scott responded.
“ I need to get out of here.” Johnny said.
“ Sam hasn’t cleared you to ride yet has he?” Scott asked.
“ I got things to do.”
“ You mean going to Spanish Wells to see Jake?”
“ Among other things. I have something I want to finish that Jake interrupted.”
“ Interrupted…….Does this have to do with a certain young lady named Emma?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah, why?”
“ Because she is in Morro Coyo now. She was in the bank when I was there today. She knew I was your brother and asked me if you were alright. I didn’t tell you before now because I didn’t figure you would want Murdoch or Father Micheal knowing.”
“ Probably best. Guess I won’t have to ride as far for some fun.” Johnny said. “ She say were she’s working at?”
“ Only one saloon in Morro Coyo.” Scott responded.
“ Yeah, I just thought maybe she was working someplace else.” Johnny said.
“ You want some company when you go to Spanish Wells?” Scott asked.
“ No. I’m a big boy Scott. This is something I have to take care of myself.” Johnny responded.
“ You do realize, Murdoch isn’t going to be too happy about you riding before Sam clears you.” Scott suggested.
“ Sam will be here tomorrow. He’ll clear me.” Johnny said. “ You feel like doing some horse business tomorrow?”
“ What kind of horse business did you have in mind?” Scott asked.
“ I asked Frank and Cipriano to bring in some mares. I want to look them over. Find a couple that are good to breed my stallion too.”
“ Alright. I don’t think Murdoch has anything planned for me tomorrow.” Scott responded.
“ I’ll tell him at breakfast.”
“What about that long legged mare Johnny? The bay colored one over there? She looks pretty good.” Scott asked.
“ Trust an ex Calvary man to pick out a long legged one. Frank, put a rope on that bay mare over there and bring her over would ya?” Johnny requested as his father walked up to the corral.
“ You finding some good mares?” he asked.
“ Yeah, we’ve found five good ones so far. This long legged mare Frank is bringing over looks pretty good. Scott likes her.” Johnny responded.
“ She’s a tall mare. Beautiful chestnut color.” Murdoch said.
“ You like her Boston?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes I do. I think she will throw a good foal.” Scott responded.
“ Okay, that gives us six mares. Frank, go ahead and let the others go. These six will do for now.” Johnny ordered.
“ You sure you don’t want to pick out anymore son?”
“ Yeah. Those six will be a start. Go ahead and leave them in this corral Frank. I’ll bring my stallion up from the paddock to see if any are ready.” Johnny said as he came out of the corral with Scott. “ I’ll say this Boston, you sure know horse flesh.”
“ Well thank you Johnny.” Scott responded.
“ I think I’ll go get cleaned up before Sam gets here.” Johnny said.
“Alright son.” Murdoch responded. “ Your brother do that?” Murdoch asked when Johnny was out of earshot.
“ Last night. He doesn’t like us not telling him something. Especially when it concerns him.” Scott responded. “ He asked me about Marcy and how long I knew about her and Jake.”
“ I see. So you told him.”
“ Yes sir I did. He’s pretty hurt over Jake not coming here.” Scott responded.
“ I can understand that. Him and Jake have been friends a long time. It’s a shame that friendship had to end the way it has.” Murdoch said.
“ It cost Johnny more than we will ever know.” Scott said.
“ I have a feeling your brother is going to be taking a ride to Spanish Wells if Sam releases him to ride.” Murdoch said.
“ You going to try and stop him?” Scott asked.
“ No. He deserves answers. I just don’t know if I want to let him go alone.” Murdoch responded.
“ He’s a grown man. I don’t think he’s going to want one of us tagging along.” Scott suggested.
“ No, I suppose not son.” Murdoch responded.
Johnny stopped the stallion outside the Sheriff’s office in Spanish Wells and got down. Tying the horse to the rail he stepped up on the wooden boardwalk and looked around. People on both sides of the street watched as he dismounted and walked up to the Sheriff’s door. Opening the door, Johnny stepped inside and shut it. Jake was sitting at his desk going through wanted posters.
“ You too good to come out to the ranch?” Johnny asked softly.
Jake looked up. “ Johnny, What are you doing here?”
“ I asked you a question.”
“ I’ve been real busy here. Every time I figured to ride out to Lancer, something came up.” Jake responded.
“ That’s bullshit Jake.”
“ Look, if you come here with an attitude, you can turn right around and leave. I’m not in the mood for your shit Johnny. I have enough trouble of my own to deal with.”
“ Yeah I guess you would seein’s how you stole my girl. Oh don’t look so surprised. Did you think I wouldn’t find out…Tell me something Jake, did you do it to get even with me? Because a friend never stabs another friend in the back the way you did.”
“ She came on to me the first time. I was vulnerable Johnny. I was missing Teresa and Marcy played off that. I don’t have to explain my actions to you. You had your chance with her and you blew it.”
“ You betrayed my trust sleeping with Teresa……THEN you betray my trust sleeping with Marcy………Oh lets not forget shooting me. I owe you a big thanks for that.”
“ You drew on me. How the hell was I supposed to know you weren’t going to try and kill me?” Jake demanded.
“ You really think I would try and kill you. I guess you don’t know me then after ten years of friendship.”
“ Would it have been so hard for you to have let me in on your plan. How do you think I feel……..I had planned on only winging you, when you moved, and went down, I thought I had killed you. You think it’s been hard only on you guess again.”
“ I can see how hard it’s been on you. I mean, let’s not bother the Sheriff with seeing how his supposed to be friend is doing. Damn it Jake, it’s not supposed to be like this. You’re like a brother to me. Jesus, what the hell am I supposed to think?”
“ Look kid, I know we’ve both screwed up okay. All we can do is move on……unless you don’t want too?” Jake responded.
“ Move on. Hell Jake, that’s all I’ve been trying to do since you left Lancer, but Teresa won’t let me.”
“ Teresa………What are you talking about?” Jake asked.
“ She hates my guts. You wouldn’t believe the shit she’s said to me.” Johnny responded.
“ Why?” Jake asked.
“ Because Murdoch found out. She thinks she didn’t do anything wrong. Hell you should have heard her the other night when Father Micheal was there. She’s not the Teresa you or me knew Jake. She’s spiteful and mean. She’s even disrespectful to Maria, and she helped raise her after her father was killed. She still thinks she will be with you. I told her that you’re with Marcy now.”
“ Really. That sure don’t sound like the Teresa I slept with.” Jake stated.
“ She’s leaving the end of summer. Murdoch is having her go back east to Boston. She’s going to attend some school back there and stay with Scott’ Grandfather. Who by the way is arriving tomorrow.”
“ From Boston. I thought you said Teresa was leaving the end of summer. That’s over a month away.”
“ Yeah. The old man isn’t to pleased he’s showing up on such short notice either. No love lost between those two.” Johnny said.
“ So where does all this that’s happened leave us?” Jake asked.
“ I don’t know. I know I don’t want to throw away all those years as friends.” Johnny responded.
Jake stood up and walked around his desk to face Johnny. “ So don’t.” he said as he held out his hand.
Johnny shook Jake’ hand without hesitation. “ I need to know something Jake……..Is that my baby she’s carrying?”
“ No, it’s mine.” Jake responded.
“ How long after she left Lancer until you slept with her?” Johnny asked.
“ About a month I guess. I’ve only been with her a couple times Johnny. She’s distant from me. I don’t know if it’s the pregnancy causing it or what.” Jake responded.
“ Where is she?” Johnny asked.
“ At the cafe working. Want to go get some lunch?” Jake asked.
“ Yeah.” Johnny responded ans the two headed out the door.
“ There seems to be a huge difference in the amount of money we have from what the receipts total sir.” Scott said as he stood up and walked over to his father sitting at his desk. “ Five thousand dollars to be exact.”
“ I forgot to write that down son. I did a business deal while in Modesto. I guess I forgot to get a receipt. I’ll just entered a private transaction and the amount.”
“ A private transaction?…….You spend that much of Lancer money and forget to enter it in the ledger. That doesn’t sound like you.”
“ I’m not perfect son. Look, it had nothing to do with Lancer. It was a private matter I took care of. That’s all.” Murdoch responded.
“ You paid her off.” Scott said.
“ What…….paid who off? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“ Oh I think you do………You paid Rose off in Abilene That’s why I seen the revoked wanted poster on Johnny…….Do you realize what you have done when he finds out you paid her off?”
“ I did what I had to do to keep my son alive. I’d do it again if I had too.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ That’s not the point sir. You kept this from Johnny. I heard you tell him it was a business deal that fell through. God help you if he finds out you knowingly lied to him.”
“ He won’t find out. Only me and the bank know about it.” Murdoch responded.
“ Then I suggest you not let Johnny see the books sir, because he’s going to wonder the same as I did……..We’re supposed to be partners in this ranch. Equal shares to all of us, only you call the tune. You had no right using that much money from Lancer account.”
“ Who the devil is that?” Murdoch asked as a buggy came under the Lancer arch.
Scott looked out the big bay window at the buggy. “ Grandfather.” he said as he put the book down.
“ He’s not supposed to arrive until tomorrow.” Murdoch said.
“ That’s what his wire said.” Scott responded as he headed to the door.
“ Can things get any worse?” Murdoch said softly as he headed to the door.
“Grandfather, I wasn’t expecting you to arrive until tomorrow.” Scott said.
“ Scotty, my boy. I decided to not to stay at the hotel.” Harlan said as she climbed down from the buggy.
“ It’s good to see you sir.” Scott said.
“ What happened to your face?” Harlan asked.
“ It’s nothing. I’ll get your bags sir.”
“ It doesn’t look like nothing my boy. Looks to me like somebody hit you.”
“ Harlan.” Murdoch cut in.
“ Murdoch.. Who hit him?” Harlan asked.
“ It was just a small disagreement Grandfather. It’s nothing.” Scott said. “ Come on, I’ll show you to your room so you can clean up.”
“ Thank you.” Harlan said as he followed Scott inside.
“ Frank, have one of the hands take this buggy back to Morro Coyo would you?”
“ Sure thing mister Lancer.” Frank responded.
Johnny and Jake walked into the cafe and sat down at a table back in the corner. Patrons watched the two closely as they walked in.
“ Guess they remember the last time I was in town.” Johnny said as he sat down with his back to the wall and removed his hat.
“ Yeah, I guess so.” Jake responded.
Marcy came out of the back and stopped dead in her tracks. She couldn’t believe who was sitting with Jake. Taking a couple deep breaths she walked over. “ What can I get you today Jake?”
“ I’ll have meat and spuds. How about you Johnny?”
“ That sounds fine with me, and some coffee.” Johnny responded. “ You look good Marcy.” he added.
“ I don’t need no trouble in here Johnny. I need this job.” Marcy stated.
“ I don’t intend on starting any trouble Marcy. I’m just here visiting Jake and having lunch with him. You got a problem with that?”
Marcy turned and walked away, coming back a few minutes later with their coffee. “ Just so you know. I told your father, and I’m telling you. This is Jake’ baby I’m carrying, so don’t get no ideas.”
“ I hardly think this is the place to discuss who’s baby you’re carrying. We can have a talk later.” Johnny responded.
“ I have nothing to say to you.” Marcy said before walking away.
“ I sure don’t want to be around when you attempt that talk.” Jake said with a smile. “ So how bad was it?”
“ Just a graze. Laid me up until yesterday pretty much because it fractured a rib. Sam finally cut me loose to ride yesterday.” Johnny replied. “Where’s she staying at?”
“ She’s got that little house on the edge of town. Hotel manager owns it and is letting her stay there rent free so she can save up her money for the baby.”
“ You staying there with her?” Johnny asked as a man walked up to the table.
“ Sheriff, You’re Murdoch Lancer’ son aren’t you?”
“ One of them yeah. Why?” Johnny responded.
“I’m Jim Pearson, I work at the bank. I completely forgot to tell your brother Scott when he was in the bank to let your father know that that money transfer he had me do went through. I received word that the money was collected and deposited into the young lady’s account.”
“ Money transfer?”
“ Yes. Mister Lancer had me transfer money to a young lady’s account in Abilene, Texas a short time back. I assumed you knew about it. He sent me a wire from Modesto requesting it be done. I just assumed you were with him and knew.”
“ No, guess he forgot to mention it to me. How much money we talking?” Johnny asked.
“ Uh……maybe I shouldn’t be talking to you about this.”
“ I asked you a question friend. How much?”
“ Five thousand dollars to a young lady named Rose. That’s all I know.” the banker said before hurrying out of the cafe.
“ Johnny, you okay?” Jake asked.
“ Yeah, yeah I’m fine.” Johnny responded as Marcy came back with their meals.
“ Look, I’m sorry about earlier. You didn’t deserve that.” she said.
“ Forget it. Listen…….Marcy, I really do need to talk to you about something. Can we meet when you get off work?”
“ I suppose we can. Jake knows where I live. I’ll see you about three, if that’s alright with you?”
“ That’s fine. I’ll be there.” Johnny responded.
“ I stopped up on the hill, and the view was quit spectacular.”
“ We have roundup and branding starting next week.” Scott said. “ So I’m afraid you won’t see much of me until it’s done.”
“ That’s alright Scotty. Perhaps the young lady could show me around the ranch while you are working?” Harlan asked.
“ I would love to show you around next week Mister Garrett.” Teresa responded. “ Oh, we are having a party after the roundup is done. Murdoch has one every year for the hands. I could introduce you to some of the people in the valley that come.”
“ That sounds like fun…….and where is your other son……Johnny I believe?” Harlan asked.
“ Johnny won’t be joining us for supper tonight Grandfather. He rode to Spanish Wells this morning to take care of some business. He should be back around lunch time tomorrow.” Scott responded.
“ Is he the one who hit you?” Harlan asked.
“ Yes, but I had it coming to me.” Scott answered.
“ Had it coming…….I’m afraid I will never understand the ways of the west. What could you have possibly done to deserve being hit?”
“ You don’t need an excuse or reason for Johnny to hit you.” Teresa said.
“ Teresa, that will be enough.” Murdoch ordered. “ The boys had a slight disagreement of sorts.” he added.
“ I guess it would be hard for someone who’s lived his whole life wild, it would be hard for him to learn manners and how to be civilized.”
“ For your information Grandfather. I had it coming to me. I knew something I didn’t tell Johnny about, and should have. As for manners and being civilized, my brother is civilized, and he has manners. Perhaps you should get to know someone before you go passing such a harsh judgment against them?” Scott stated firmly.
“ Is this how you treat family? I did not raise you to be rude like this to me Scotty. It’s clear the few years you have been out here in this desolate wild place, you have forgotten your manners. Being around that half-breed brother………”
“ THAT WILL BE ENOUGH. I will not allow you to speak of my son that way. This is my house, and you will show anyone on this ranch or in this house some respect. Now I told Scott you were welcomed here. That welcome can wear out real fast if you chose to speak that way again.”
“ He’s right sir. You’ve never met Johnny, so I would appreciate it if you didn’t call him a half-breed. He’s my brother and nothing more.” Scott responded firmly.
Harlan glanced at Teresa. He could tell there was something bad between her and Johnny. “ You’re right. Please forgive me.”
Johnny knocked on the door of the house Marcy was staying at. “ It’s open.” he heard Marcy yell from inside. Opening the door, he stepped inside and closed it.
“ I’m in the kitchen.” Marcy said.
Johnny slid his hat back off his head to hang by the stampede string as he walked into the kitchen.
“ Have a seat. I thought I would make us something to eat. You want some coffee, or something a little stronger?”
“ Coffee is fine……You don’t have to cook for me. I can get something to eat later.” Johnny responded as he sat down.
“ I know you Johnny, you’ll go all night and not eat a thing.” Marcy said as she set a cup of coffee down for him.
“ Thank you..” Johnny said as he took the cup of coffee.
“ So what did you want to talk to me about Johnny?……….No wait, I bet I can guess. You want to know if this is your baby and or why I slept with Jake right?”
“ You didn’t waste no time do you?” Johnny responded.
“ Am I supposed to put my life on hold just because you wanted to act like a sonofabitch and treat me like shit?” Marcy asked calmly. “ You’ve been aggressive with me before Johnny when we made love, but that night in the barn, you hurt me, and you left bruises, both on my arms and thighs. I was so sore, riding in the buggy with Scott, I almost had him stop.”
“ I know what I did that night was wrong Marcy. I have nobody to blame but myself for losing you. I hope you and Jake are happy together. He’s a good man, really he is.”
“ So how are things between the two of you?” Marcy asked as she set a small platter of sliced roast beef, tomatoes and lettuce on the table with a loaf of fresh baked bread sliced thin.
“ We’re still friends, if that’s what you’re asking?” Johnny said.
“ That’s good. You two have known each other a lot of years.” Marcy said as she sat down. “ So how’s Teresa?”
“ Don’t ask.” Johnny responded.
“ Wow, a response like that tells me she is still angry at you.” Marcy replied.
“ You could say that yeah. Murdoch is having her go back east to Boston the end of summer. She’ll stay with Scott’ Grandfather or at this school about thirty miles away.”
“ That seems a bit harsh. Is she that bad?”
“ Let me put it this way. If I was gunned down, she would dance on my grave. I’ve tried to put it behind me, but she doesn’t want to. Even Father Micheal couldn’t get her to see the wrong she did. Sometimes what comes out of her mouth would shock you.”
“ I’m sorry. I know you thought of her like a sister.”
“ Don’t matter anymore………….So……..is that my baby?” Johnny asked bluntly.
“ No……I was with Jake a month after I left you.” Marcy responded. “ I’m just over four months along now.”
“ Do you need anything?” Johnny asked.
“ No. I’m fine. The worst part is over.” Marcy responded. “ How you been?”
“ Okay, all things considered. Sam released me to ride yesterday.”
“ You know, Jake was pretty torn up over shooting you. It hurt him pretty bad.”
Johnny stood up. “ Yeah, that’s what he said. I sent word over a month ago I’d like him to come out to the ranch. He said something always came up as to why he never did.”
Marcy looked at Johnny. “ And what……you don’t believe him?” she asked as she stood up and walked over to him.
“ I don’t know what to believe anymore……..I need to get going. Thanks for the talk, and supper.” Johnny said as he headed to the front door.
“ Johnny wait.” Marcy said as she walked after him. “ You just going to leave?” she asked.
“ Yeah. It’s a long ride back to Lancer.” he responded.
“ You could stay here.” Marcy said as she stepped closer and put her arms around his neck.
“ Marcy, I…….”
Marcy pulled his mouth down to hers. “ Kiss me like you used to.” she pleaded as she started running her hands up and down his chest.
Johnny claimed her mouth with hunger as he pulled her to him, moaning as her hands went between his legs and started massaging his hardness. “ Marcy………….Marcy, I can’t do this.” Johnny said as he grabbed her hands and stopped her.
“ Yes you can. I know you want to. I can feel it in the way you kissed me.” Marcy responded.
“ Not anymore. It’s over between us. It will never work. I’m not the man you want me to be. Not any longer.” Johnny said as he backed away from her.
“ Just tonight. Nobody will know. It’s not like either one of us is committed to someone.”
“ Jake cares about you. He cares about that baby. I won’t betray him like that. I’m sorry Marcy, I can’t……You take care of yourself.” Johnny said as he turned and went to the door, and opened it. “ A long time ago I would have.” he said before walking out , and closing the door.
Johnny walked into the saloon in Morro Coyo and sat down at a table. The reason he rode all the way there instead of going on home stood at the end of the bar and watched him walk in.
Emma smiled at Johnny as she walked over to his table and sat down. “ Hello stranger.” she said.
“ Yeah. I had something I had to take care of in Spanish Wells before I could come here.” Johnny said as the bartender brought over a bottle of tequila and two glasses. “ Scott told me you were in Morro Coyo now. More money in Spanish Wells, how come you came here?” he asked as he poured two drinks and handed her one.
“ Thanks. Didn’t really like the Sheriff after what he did to you. Some people were pretty upset at him for the way he treated you.” Emma said. “ I seen what happened. You know, with your brother, and you getting shot. I’m glad you’re okay. I wanted to check on you, but with your family there and all, I didn’t think they would appreciate a whore coming around.”
“ You’re not a whore to me.” Johnny responded. “ Thanks for caring though.”
“ You’re the only man I’ve actually been to bed with. After what happened with the Sheriff, the bartender, he kinda blamed me. Slapped me around and ordered me out.” Emma said.
“ Bastard. I hate a man who hits a woman, any woman.” Johnny stated.
“ So, what’s your plans for the night?” Emma asked.
“ I think you know that. Unless you don’t want to.” Johnny responded with a smile. He could feel himself getting aroused just thinking about being with her again. What Marcy had done to him didn’t help matters any as he could still feel her hand rubbing him.
“ Room ain’t much out back. Just a lousy cot and curtain for a door.” Emma said.
“ How about I get us a room at the hotel across the street?” Johnny suggested.
“ I take it you plan on finishing what you paid for that day in Spanish Wells?” Emma asked.
“ And then some. I’ve done nothing but think about you and that afternoon. You feel up to a night of it?”
“ Lead the way.” Emma said as she stood up.
Johnny stood up, picked up the bottle of tequila and walked over to the bar. “ Be taking the bottle with us.” he said as he paid for it, turned and started toward the door.
“ I don’t remember this picture.” Harlan said.
“ One of the small mementos you left behind at Carterville.” Murdoch said.
“ And this woman…..Is she the Mexican you replaced my Catherine with?” Harlan asked.
“ I didn’t replace Catherine. Nobody could ever replace her. I simply fell in love with another beautiful woman a couple years later down in Matamoros.”
“ So tell me, how did you meet this foreigner?” Harlan asked.
“ Grandfather, Johnny’ mother was not a foreigner. Mexican were here long before the white man. This used to all be Mexico’s territory.” Scott stated.
“ How I met Maria is really none of your business Harlan.” Murdoch responded.
“ I do believe the Pinkerton report says you met her in Matamoros, a whirlwind courtship, married her after a very short time and came back here with her. That must have been when you found out she was with child.” Harlan responded.
“ You mind telling me why in gods name you hired Pinkerton’ to check me out?” Murdoch demanded.
“ I always make it a habit of knowing everything I can about my foes. It’s no secret we hate each other Murdoch, Scotty knows there’s no love lost between us. He knows I raised him because you couldn’t be bothered with raising a motherless child when you had this big ranch to run. He knows that’s why you never tried to get him back, let alone come to Boston to see him.”
Murdoch stood up and walked around his desk. “ I had every intention of raising Scott here at Lancer. I sent Catherine away because it was the right thing to do at the time. We were being attacked by land pirates. By the time I got to her, you had had her buried and taken Scott away from me. You and all your money and power, I didn’t stand a chance in a court of law against you. I came to see Scott on his fifth birthday, you were gracious enough to let me see him for just a minute.”
“ I remember that day. That was you in the study with Grandfather. You told me he was a business associate later that night when I asked you about him. Why did you feel it was necessary to lie to me sir?”
“ Because you were my Grandson. The only thing I have left of my Catherine.” Harlan responded.
“ I am his son. He had more right to raise me than you did sir. What you did was wrong.”
“ Scott, It’s past. Bad or good, right or wrong, it’s past and gone.” Murdoch said.
Scott turned to face his father. “ That may be sir, but he owes me an explanation.”
“ What will it accomplish son? You’re here with me now, that’s all that matters. I have both my sons home.” Murdoch said.
“ I guess you can be more forgiving than I can sir. If you will excuse me, I think I’ll turn in now.” Scott said before turning and heading to the stairs.
“ Scotty never would have been that disrespectful to me before he came here.” Harlan stated after Scott was gone.
“ He wasn’t being disrespectful. What Scott said is the truth. You do owe him an explanation for your actions all those years ago.” Murdoch responded.
“ Perhaps my coming here was a mistake. It would seem I don’t even know him anymore.” Harlan said.
“ It’s just Scott’ been under a lot of stress lately with……Johnny and all that’s been going on.” Teresa said.
“ Well, I think I will turn in now. I look forward to our adventure tomorrow Miss Teresa. Goodnight.”
“ Goodnight Mister Garrett.” Teresa said as she walked over to Murdoch’ desk.. “ I noticed you didn’t tell Scott he could have a day off to be with his Grandfather.”
“ Showing Harlan around the ranch will have to wait.. You know this ranch is busy during the roundup. I need every available hand I have to get it done.” Murdoch responded.
“ Yet you let one son do what he wants.” Teresa said before turning and heading to her room.
Murdoch sighed and leaned back in his chair, glad that this day was coming to an end. He had his suspicions he knew where Johnny was and what he was doing after being cooped up for so long. Tomorrow he would have a talk with him about it.
Johnny opened his eyes as the first rays of light started to show on the horizon. Smiling as he felt Emma stir just a little. The woman was incredible in bed. The way she made him feel, what she did to him, no other woman had ever done, including Marcy. When Emma rolled onto her back, that was invitation enough for him for some morning fun. Rolling over, he raised up and positioned himself over Emma and started kissing her neck as he slowly lowered his body onto hers, hearing her moan softly as he guided himself into her.
“ Good morning.” he said as he started moving.
“ Good morning.” Emma said as she wrapped her legs around his waist and claimed his mouth. “ I like…….I like how you wake a person up Johnny.” she said as she started matching his moves.
Two hours later, Johnny and Emma were dressed. “ Wanna get some breakfast?” Johnny asked as he fastened his gun belt.
“ Sure.” Emma responded as she buttoned the last button on her dress. “ So……when will I see you again?” she asked.
“ Roundup and branding starts tomorrow. Probably won’t make it back to town until next Saturday night or Sunday.” Johnny responded.
“ A whole week. I don’t know if I will be able to stand that.” Emma said. “ You’re an addiction Johnny.”
“ An addiction huh…Don’t think I’ve ever had a woman tell me that before. Must mean I did something right last night.”
“ Oh you most certainly did.” Emma responded as she walked over and put her arms around his neck. “ I can be your girl only if you want Johnny.” she suggested.
“ I think I would like that. How about after breakfast we go visit Mister Baldanero’ store. I can ask him if he needs any help. It would get you out of the saloon.”
“ Really. You would do that for me?” Emma asked.
“ Yeah. I can’t be having my girl working in a saloon.” Johnny said before claiming her mouth.
“ I’m sorry about the rain.” Teresa said as she set a platter of eggs on the table. “ It’s the start of the late summer rains in the valley. Some just last a few hours, and some can last days and be really bad.”
“ I’m sure Scotty remembers spring and fall storms back in Boston. We’ve even had a few tornadoes.” Harlan responded.
“ I remember.” Scott said as he walked into the kitchen. “ One came down just two blocks from our house. Killed three servants and one of the children.”
“ On rarity we get tornadoes out here.” Murdoch said. “ Did your brother come home last night?”
“ No sir. I opened his door and his bed hadn’t been slept in.” Scott responded.
“ Probably with a saloon girl all night.” Teresa said.
“ Teresa, what Johnny does is his own business. He’s been cooped up in this house for almost two months until Sam released him to ride.” Murdoch said with a harsh look.
“ Cooped up…….Was the boy hurt?” Harlan asked.
“ He had a cracked rib.” Scott responded.
“ Oh. Did he get thrown from a horse?” Harlan asked.
“ No. He was shot.” Teresa replied.
“ Aren’t you afraid having that gunfighter around will endanger Teresa and Scott’ lives?” Harlan asked.
“ Johnny is not a gunfighter anymore Harlan, and even if he was, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s my son, Scott’ brother and he has every right to live in this house. Since you are a guest in this house, I suggest you start acting like one.” Murdoch said firmly.
Harlan glanced at Scott, and could tell his Grandson was not pleased with his behavior. Miss Teresa, if you don’t mind my asking. What kind of education do you have?”
“ Not at all. I completed school here two years ago.” Teresa responded.
“ So you are ready for college level schooling I presume?” Harlan asked.
“ Yes, I guess so.”
“ What would your major be in?”
“ My major? I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
“ Grandfather means what would you be studying in college. Your primary reason to attend.”
“ I don’t know. The only thing I know really is what happens on a ranch.”
“ Well, I’m sure we can figure something out before we get back to Boston.” Harlan suggested. “ Women back there are not so primitive as they are out here.”
“ Grandfather attends the Governors ball every fall. It’s the event of the year for most who live in Boston.” Scott said.
“ Yes. I am planning a big Christmas party this year also. There will be several young ladies your age attending. I will introduce you around. Help you make friends.” Harlan suggested. “ This is quit good. You are a very good cook young lady.”
“ Perhaps she could study home economics?” Scott asked.
“ To be a chef, that’s a splendid idea Scotty. That is if the young lady would like to learn about fine cooking and such?” Harlan asked.
“ All I know, I’ve learned here from Maria.”
“ Yes well……we can have you learn the proper ways of cooking. I could even have my kitchen staff teach you some things also.”
“ Maria is an excellent cook. She’s been cooking for me since before Johnny was born.” Murdoch said.
“ Yes I’m sure she is, but the young lady will need to learn how to prepare a dish, the proper way to set a table and how to place food on a plate.” Harlan responded.
“ How many hands do you think we will be needing for next week sir?” Scott asked, sensing his father getting irritated with the current conversation.
“ I expect thirty of the men should be enough. We’ll have several branding stations set up so it gets done faster if the weather cooperates.” Murdoch responded. “ I’ll have your brother take the wagon of supplies to the south mesa line shack when he gets back tomorrow.”
“ How many hands do you have working for you?” Harlan asked.
“ I have a hundred and fifty vaquero’s working for me. All live here.” Murdoch responded.
“ That’s a lot of men. I didn’t realize it took that many men to run a ranch.”
“ When you have one hundred thousand acres and a thousand head of cattle, it takes a lot of men. Fences always need repaired.” Scott stated. “ A cow is nothing more than trouble in a leather bag. A horse isn’t much better at times.”
“ And you prefer this dangerous lifestyle over the one you had back in Boston?” Harlan asked.
“ Yes sir I do. The works hard, the hours long, but to me it’s all worth it.” Scott responded. “ Work around here starts at sunup and can last past dark sometimes.” he added.
“ Well, if you don’t mind. I need to go give the hands their orders for the day. Scott, perhaps you could finish with the books today since it’s raining.” Murdoch suggested as he stood up.
“ Yes sir.” Scott responded as he wiped his mouth and stood up as well.
Johnny rode into the Lancer yard and dismounted. Handing the stallion off to a hand, he headed to the house. Being soaked to the bone, he knew Maria would pitch a fit if he walked through the house soaked and muddy. Heading instead around to the door off the kitchen to get a hot cup of coffee before heading upstairs to get some dry clothes to change into after he soaked in a hot bath. Opening the door, he seen Maria preparing lunch.
“ ¿ Puedo tomar una taza de café caliente para calentarme?” he asked Maria. ( Can I have a hot cup of coffee to warm up?)
Maria turned and looked at Johnny. “ Estás empapado de Juanito. Te daré una taza café. Tómalo mientras yo te traigo ropa limpia y seca para cambiarte. Quédate allí junto a la estufa. No quiero que se ensucie mi cocina.” Maria said as she poured a cup and handed it to him. ( You are soaking wet Juanito. I will give you a cup of coffee. You drink it while I go get you some clean dry clothes to change into. Stay right there by the stove. I don’t want my kitchen dirtied up.)
“ Gracias mamcita. Me quedaré aquí.” Johnny said as he took the hot cup of coffee. ( Thank you mamacita. I’ll stay right here.)
Maria headed up the back stairs mumbling about Johnny being soaked.
Johnny stepped over next to the stove welcoming the warmth into his chilled body.
“ I highly doubt Mister Lancer would approve of beggars in his kitchen when they should be out working.” Harlan said as he walked into the kitchen and glared at Johnny.
Johnny had an idea who this older man was. First impressions told him a lot about a person. This mans told him he didn’t much care for Johnny’ kind. “ You sure about that old man?”
“ How dare you speak to me like that. I am a guest in this house. I’ll have you fired.” Harlan said with anger.
“ You sure about that?” Johnny said as he stepped closer.
“ You’re nothing but a half-breed filthy beggar.” Harlan responded.
“ I’d be real careful who I was calling a half-breed old man. Real careful.” Johnny said coldly.
Scott heard raised voices coming from the kitchen area. He could tell one of them was his Grandfather. Standing up, he headed to the kitchen, stopping when he realized the other voice was Johnny’. When he heard his Grandfather call Johnny the one thing he hated, Scott stepped into the kitchen.
“ Scotty, I want this man fired for the way he spoke to me.” Harlan demanded.
“ I heard most of what was said Grandfather. Johnny, why don’t you go get cleaned up.” he suggested as Maria came down the stairs with a change of clothes for him.
Johnny just stood there, glaring at Harlan.
“ Now Johnny.” Scott said with a raised voice.
Johnny set the coffee cup down, and took the clothes Maria brought him, and headed out the back door to the bath house.
“ Maria, would you excuse us for a minute please?” Scott asked.
Maria went out the back door and closed it.
“ Let’s get something straight right now Grandfather. I heard what you said to Johnny. You were way out of line speaking to him that way. Even if it had been a hired hand, you will not speak to anyone on this ranch like that again. The Mexicans who work here are good decent hard working proud people. You may not like them, and that’s your right. What’s not your right is to treat them like you just treated my brother. Do I make myself clear sir?” Scott demanded.
“ I did not realize he was your brother.” Harlan responded.
“ It doesn’t matter if he is or not. You will not speak to anyone in this house, or on this ranch like that again.” Scott stated firmly.
Harlan glared at his Grandson a moment. “ Excuse me, I think I will go to my room.”
“ I asked you a question sir. I expect an answer.” Scott demanded as Murdoch walked into the kitchen.
“ Is something wrong son?” he asked.
“ Not any more sir.”Scott responded.
“ I will apologize to your brother for what I said to him. It won’t happen again.” Harlan said.
“ If it does, and I find out about it. I’ll have to ask you to leave.” Scott said.
“ Maybe I should return to Boston when this weather lets up?” Harlan suggested.
“ You don’t have to leave sir. I just want you to respect the hands and especially my brother.” Scott responded.
“ Johnny’ back?” Murdoch asked. Having a good idea what was wrong now.
“ He’s in the bath house cleaning up.” Scott said.
“ Excuse me. I think I will go have a talk with him.” Murdoch said as he started toward the door, leaving Scott to handle Harlan.
“ I didn’t raise you to be disrespectful to me.” Harlan said when Murdoch left.
“ No you didn’t. You raised me to have respect and treat others the way I would want to be treated sir. Something you seem to have forgotten. I expect a full sincere apology to my brother at supper tonight.” Scott demanded.
“ Very well. Harlan said before walking out of the kitchen.
Johnny laid back in the tub, relishing the feel of the hot water as it warmed his body up. Closing his eyes, he let his mind go back to Emma, and there night together. Only a year younger than him, she sure knew how to satisfy his cravings. Having her say she wanted to be his girl only, made him feel good. Would she accept that part of him that could show up at any time, even though he was trying to leave it behind? She’d seen what happened with Pedro, but did she really understand who Johnny Madrid really is? Sighing, Johnny sank down deeper in the tub as the door opened and his father walked in.
“ Hey Murdoch.”
“ John, glad you could make it back home.” Murdoch said as he closed the door.
Johnny sat up. He knew this wasn’t a friendly visit from his father. “ Yeah, The storm came in when I got to Morro Coyo. I didn’t feel like riding home in the dark in the rain.”
“ Morro Coyo. Scott said you went to Spanish Wells.” Murdoch said.
“ I did. When the storm started I headed to Morro Coyo, and got a room there for the night.” Johnny said.
“ Did you see Jake?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah, I seen him. We’re fine. I had lunch with him and we had a good talk. I also seen Marcy and talked to her.”
“ Marcy. How’d that go son?”
“ She says the baby isn’t mine. That she’s positive it’s Jake’.” Johnny responded.
“ Do you believe her?”
“ Don’t know. Not much I can do about it. I won’t fight her in court over it if that’s what you’re thinking. Jake’ asked her to marry him. If she does, I know he’ll take good care of the kid.” Johnny responded. “ I thought Harlan wasn’t going to be here till this afternoon.”
“ He arrived yesterday. You want to tell me what happened in the kitchen between you and him a little while ago?” Murdoch asked.
“ Not really. Scott handled it.” Johnny responded.
“ I have a good idea what happened son. I’m sorry.” Murdoch said as he turned to open the door.
“ I seen Jim Pearson in town. He said to tell you the money transfer went through to Abilene that you requested while in Modesto. You care to explain to me why you wired five thousand dollars to her, and then lied to me about it?”
“ I never lied to you Johnny. I went to Modesto on business.” Murdoch responded.
“ Yeah, you said to see about selling cattle to the miners. Tell me something, you plan on paying them all off that come after me?”
“ I will do whatever I have to do to protect my sons, so yes, if I have to I will.” Murdoch responded firmly.
“ Don;t work that way old man. You wasted five thousand dollars of Lancer money. We’re supposed to be business partners, you, me and Scott. You had no right keeping that from us. We should have talked about it.”
“ It had nothing to do with Lancer, therefore I felt I didn’t need to discuss it with you or Scott.”
“ Nothing to do with Lancer huh? Isn’t it Lancer that you want me to become?”
“ Listen, forget it Murdoch. I know what you meant. I’m only a business partner when it suits you. The rest of the time I’m just a hired hand. That’s fine. I’ll give you your dollar a day work.”
“ You’re not just a hired hand. You’re my son damn it. What I did, I did trying to keep you alive so you can live a life you deserve without having to wonder if someone is going to come and gun you down. Now if you want to be angry at me for that, so be it.”
“ I’m not angry with you Murdoch…….I guess I’m………I don’t know. Hell I’ve been betrayed so much since I came back here. Teresa hates me and wishes I was dead, now I have someone else in the house who hates me that I’ve never seen before today. Just next time, talk to me and Scott about it first.”
“ Alright. I will. You going to come in for some lunch?”
“ I don’t really think I should go back in there right now.”
“ Okay. I need you to take the supply wagon to the south mesa line shack if you would please. I want to make sure we have enough supplies for next week.”
“ Have Frank have it ready and I’ll take it up when I’m done here. I’ll get it unloaded and make sure everything is good to go.”
“ You won’t make it back in time for supper if you go alone son.”
“ That’s alright. I’ll just stay at the line shack tonight. I want to check the corral and chute before we use it tomorrow for branding the calves.”
“ Alright. I’ll have Maria fix you something to eat you can take with you.”
“ Murdoch……. thanks.”
“ For what?”
“ For asking me to do it instead of ordering me to.” Johnny said.
“ Finish up with your bath. Me or Scott bring your food out to you when Maria has it ready.”
“ Will Johnny be joining us for lunch?” Scott asked.
“ No son. Maria, could you fix something for John to eat. He’s taking the supply wagon to the south mesa line shack to unload and get everything ready for roundup.”
“ Si Patron.” Maria responded.
“ Surely he can take time to eat lunch with us?” Scott asked.
“ Your brother feels given what happened earlier he shouldn’t come in right now. He’s going to spend the night at the line shack and come back in the morning when he’s finished.” Murdoch responded.
“ Excuse me. I think I’ll go have a talk with my brother.”
“ Scott……..let him be. He’s doing this for sake of argument son. You know how Johnny gets if problems arise because of him.”
“ He didn’t cause the problem sir………Not this time.” Scott responded as he started to walk out of the kitchen.
“ Senor Scott. Juanito’s food.” Maria said as she walked to Scott and handed him some sandwiches she threw together and wrapped in a cloth napkin.
“ Thank you Maria.”
“ That all of it Frank?” Johnny asked as he walked over to the wagon.
“ Yeah Johnny. So the old man has you taking it there huh. You want someone to go along and help you unload it?” Frank asked.
“ No, I can manage.” Johnny responded as he walked to the barn to get his stallion.
“ Scott, if you’re looking for Johnny, he’s in the barn saddling his horse.” Frank said as he checked the harnesses on the team.
Scott put the sandwiches on the wagon seat and headed to the barn were he found Johnny filling a sack with grain. “ Murdoch said you weren’t coming in to eat lunch. Maria fixed a couple sandwiches for you. I put the on the wagon seat.”
“ Thanks. I figured I’d get this supplies to the line shack while it’s not raining. It needs to get there, and Murdoch asked if I would take it.” Johnny responded.
“ Johnny………about earlier in the kitchen…….I would like to apologize for my Grandfathers behavior. It was inexcusable. I’m sorry.”
“ Not your place to apologize brother.” Johnny said as he saddled his horse.
“ Thanks for letting me handle it. I was a little worried when I walked into the kitchen and seen the look on your face.”
“ You afraid I was going to shoot him?” Johnny asked as he led the stallion out of the stall, stopped and put the bridle on the saddle, and grabbed the sack of grain.
“ No, to be honest, I thought you were going to hit him.” Scott responded.
“ Not in the habit of hitting old men…….besides, I’ve been called worse.” Johnny responded as he started to walk out of the barn.
“ So I take it you seen Emma in Morro Coyo?” Scott asked, knowing the discussion about his Grandfather was over.
“ Yeah, had me a real good night with her. Got her a job at Baldanero’s and a place to stay. She don’t have to work in a saloon anymore.”
“ That was nice of you to do. So…..are you getting serious about this girl?” Scott asked as Johnny secured the stallion to the back of the wagon.
“ Maybe. I don’t know yet. I mean I like her. I just don’t know how serious it will get between us. She told me she’ll be my girl if I wanted.” Johnny responded.
“ Why don’t you bring her to the party we have after roundup?” Scott suggested.
“ You really think Murdoch is going to allow me to bring a whore to Lancer?” Johnny asked.
“ He doesn’t have to know that. You could tell him she’s new in Morro Coyo. Nobody has to know what she used to do Johnny.” Scott suggested.
“ You know, when I was with Marcy, I thought I was in love with her, but when I’m with Emma, I can’t explain the feelings I get, and I don’t mean the sex kind. Emma does something to me inside that Marcy didn’t do.” Johnny explained.
“ Sounds to me like you’re in love with her. Does she know about you?”
“ If you mean the Madrid side, yeah. She seen what happened. She knows. I just don’t know which side she likes. Not yet anyways.”
“ Why don’t you ask her next time. You know, so you know before it gets serious.” Scott suggested.
“ Been thinking about doing just that.” Johnny said as he climbed up in the wagon, picked up the reins and released the brake. “ I’ll see ya tomorrow brother.”
“ Alright, take care brother.” Scott responded as Johnny slapped the reins.
“ Your brother not eating lunch with us?” Harlan asked as Scott walked back to the house.
“ No sir. He feels he would only cause trouble. Something Johnny doesn’t like to do.” Scott responded as he walked past his Grandfather.
Johnny removed the last roll of wire and set it next to the other rolls. Grabbing the tarp, he covered them up. Looking around at the view as the sun began to set behind the San Bonito’s mountains. Having already settled the stallion for the night in the lean to, Johnny walked into the line shack and looked at all the boxes waiting to be put away. Exhausted, Johnny stoked the fire and poured a cup of coffee, to tired to put the stuff away tonight, he walked back outside and sat down on the steps and watched the beautiful sunset.
“ Maybe you’re right brother. Maybe I am in love with Emma.” he said aloud as a nighthawk swooped around catching bugs. Thinking about Scott’ Grandfather and how their first meeting went, Johnny knew the old man would never accept him as Scott’ brother. He could see it in the mans eyes. Now having two people in the house who hated him made him wonder if he really did have any right to get out of the game and try to not be the prodigal son anymore. Standing up, Johnny went back into the line shack and removed his gun belt, hanging it on a hook on the post, stripping his clothes off, he crawled in bed and lay there listening to the sounds of nature as sleep soon found him.
“ Morning son. You’re up early.” Murdoch said as he walked into the kitchen.
“ Yeah. I thought I would ride to the line shack and see if Johnny needed any help.” Scott said.
“ I’m sure your brother got everything unloaded last night. He’s probably still asleep.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Maybe. I would still like to ride down there and see.”
“ Alright son. The hands will be arriving with the cattle later on.”
“ Would you tell my Grandfather were I’ve went?” Scott asked.
“ Yes. I’ll tell him. I’m sorry you’re not getting much time to spend with him, but he showed up at a bad time.” Murdoch said.
“ Yes he did. This is a working ranch. If he can’t understand that, then he can go back to Boston. I’ll see you.” Scott said before walking out as Teresa entered the kitchen.
“ Morning Murdoch. Looks like the rains have stopped finally.” Teresa said as she started preparing breakfast. “ Was that Scott leaving?”
“ Yes. He’s going to the line shack to help Johnny get things set up and ready for branding.” Murdoch said.
“ He didn’t eat anything.”
“ He’ll get something to eat with his brother at the line shack I expect.” Murdoch responded. “ I’ll be coming back in the evenings during roundup and branding. Will you be alright here alone with Harlan?”
“ Yes Murdoch. I’m not going to have any men in my bed if that’s what you’re worried about.” Teresa responded smartly.
“ Young lady, I was not thinking that at all. I want this attitude of yours to stop. Between you and whatever happened yesterday between Harlan and Johnny, my son feels like he’s not welcome in his own home anymore. I want it to stop, and stop now. Do I make myself clear?”
“ Yes.” Teresa responded as she started frying bacon. “ He should be the one leaving, not me.” she mumbled.
“ What was that?” Murdoch asked.
“ I said, will you be eating breakfast before leaving.”
“ No. I need to get things going. Go ahead and fix breakfast for Harlan, if he’s awake yet.” Murdoch replied. I’ll eat with the boys at the line shack this afternoon.”
Johnny walked out of the lean to from feeding the stallion when he heard a rider approaching. Seeing who it was, he smiled as he walked into the shack and poured two cups of coffee, and walked back outside.
“ You’re up early brother.” he said.
“ I thought I would come give you a hand putting stuff away.” Scott said as he dismounted. “ You looked pretty tired when you left yesterday.”
“ It’s already put away. As for being tired. Worn out is more like it.” Johnny said as he handed a cup of coffee to him.
“ Thanks. So what’s left to do before the cows and old man get here?” Scott asked.
Johnny couldn’t help but laugh. Hearing his brother say what he just did.
“ Something funny?”
“ I’ve never heard you call Murdoch an old man before. Caught me by surprise is all.” Johnny responded. “ Just setting up and checking the branding pen and chute. I figured on doing that after I eat some breakfast. You hungry?”
“ I could eat. I skipped breakfast this morning. Wanted to get here to help you.” Scott replied.
“ Thanks. Come on in.” Johnny said as he turned to go back inside. “ I’ve been doing some thinking about what you said. You know, about Emma. I think you’re right Scott, I am in love with her.”
“ I’m glad to know you finally realized that brother. I hope it works out for the both of you this time. You deserve to be happy Johnny.”
“ Thanks. Somehow I don;t think it will be like it was with Marcy. I think Emma cares about me for all the right reasons Scott.”
“ Good. Now, what shall we have for breakfast before we start on the pen and chute?”
“ How about some flapjacks. Fast and simple to fix.” Johnny suggested.
“ Sounds good to me.” Scott responded.
“ Good morning Miss Teresa. Has everybody gone already?” Harlan asked.
“ Yes. Scott left at sunrise and Murdoch left about an hour ago.” Teresa responded. “ The rains have stopped. It’s a beautiful day out. I thought I would show you around Lancer today.” Teresa suggested.
“ That sounds fine. I take it you don’t care for Johnny much?” Harlan asked.
“ No I don’t. Ever since he came back from Abilene he’s different. I was kidnapped because of him. I lost a man who loved me because of him, and now Murdoch is sending me back east because of Johnny. This is more my home than it is his. He was just born here. I was born hand raised at Lancer.” Teresa said with anger.
“ So because of him…..you are losing all that you know and love?” Harlan asked.
“ I wish he had never come back here. Scott was even kidnapped because of him.”
“ What………Scotty was kidnapped, when?”
“ Two months ago by a man wanting revenge against Johnny.” Teresa responded. “ I’m wondering how long Murdoch is going to put up with the danger he puts everyone on this ranch in. You know he got an innocent woman killed back in Abilene?”
“ Dear god, how?” Harlan asked.
“ She was shot when he was called out. Her niece put a thousand dollar bounty on him. She wants him dead for killing her aunt who was minding her own business.”
“ I guess I can consider myself lucky that……..half-breed didn’t kill me yesterday. I will never understand how Murdoch could marry a Mexican woman, especially in such a short time after my Catherine died.”
“ Oh that’s easy. She trapped him. She was pregnant with Johnny before they were married. Nobody in the valley liked her. Murdoch lost friends because of her. Murdoch has it all in the Pinkerton reports in his desk. Everything he found out about them when they were down in Mexico.” Teresa said as she set a plate of food down in front of Harlan. “ You should have seen the shock when he learned Johnny was the famous gunfighter Johnny Madrid. He was so hurt that his son had done that. Course Johnny claims he had to do it to stay alive, but I don’t buy it. I think he likes killing.”
“ I learned some about him before I came out here. He has killed a lot that’s for sure.” Harlan said. “ This is quit good.”
“ Thank you. I think it’s horrible. I mean for someone to kill another just for money.”
“ Does Murdoch know that it’s because of Johnny, his mother was killed?” Harlan asked.
“ No. Johnny said she was beaten to death by a man living with them.” Teresa responded.
“ Yes, he was beating her, but it was Johnny who shot and killed her. They got in an argument about the boy stealing some money from him. It seems Johnny got to be very good at stealing, and that’s not all. It would seem he raped a young lady named Anna. It seems she was the daughter of a rancher he was hired to kill. He murdered her brother and father right in front of her.”
“ He raped Marcy too.” Teresa said softly.
“ Who is Marcy?” Harlan asked.
“ She’s the girl who came here from Abilene with him. They were going to be married, but Johnny started abusing her. The night before she left, he raped her in the barn. I seen the bruises on her.”
“ Did she report this to the local law?” Harlan asked.
“ Apparently not. She lives in Spanish Wells now. She’s seeing the Sheriff there. She’s pregnant.”
“ Pregnant……..with a child conceived from rape?”
“ No. Johnny said it’s not his baby. That it’s Jake’.”
“ I take it this Jake fella is the one you were in love with?”
“ I still am. He’s the Sheriff of Spanish Wells. He came here with Johnny and Scott. He used to be the Marshal of Abilene.”
“ Go from being a Marshal, to a mere Sheriff. Don’t you find that a little odd?”
“ He said he came back with them because of me, but thanks to Johnny, I will never get a chance to spend the rest of my life with him.”
“ What if you could be rid of Johnny, would Murdoch still send you way?” Harlan asked.
“ No. It’s all because of Johnny I’m losing my home. Murdoch made a promise to my father when he died that he would take care of me. Now that Scott and especially Johnny are here, he doesn’t want me here anymore.”
“ Has Scotty said that?”
“ No. I think Scott is afraid of Johnny. I think he’s afraid of what Johnny would do if he said anything.”
“ Perhaps the two of us can come up with a way of getting rid of that killer once and for all.” Harlan suggested coldly.
“ Murdoch hired two new hands while you were gone. Two young guys.” Scott said as they ate breakfast.
“ Oh yeah. What they look like?” Johnny asked.
“ Supposed to be brothers, about my age I guess. They both wear their gun like yours though. I pointed this out to Murdoch, he said we could use the extra help right now and that we shouldn’t judge everyone by the way they wear their gun.”
“ You think they’re here for me?” Johnny asked.
“ I don’t know. They’re going to be doing the branding. To be honest Johnny, there’s an uneasy feeling about the two.” Scott responded.
“ These two got names?” Johnny asked.
“ Carl and Billy Deegan.”
“ We better go get started on that chute and pen before the cows get here.” Johnny suggested as he stood up.
“ You know them Johnny?” Scott asked as he stood up.
“ I’ve heard of them, and you’re right about how they wear their gun Scott.” Johnny responded before walking outside.
Scott stood there looking at where his brother was just standing for at least a minute before following him outside.
Teresa stopped the buggy outside the line shack and got down. “ Scott will be down there at the corrals most likely.” she said as Harlan climbed down.
“ Then shall we take a stroll?” Harlan asked as he extended his arm to her.
“ They should be just about finished up.” Teresa said as they headed down to the corrals. Bellowing cows and bawling calves could be heard in the distance.
“ I will never understand what Scotty sees in doing this kind of work.” Harlan said as they reached the corrals.
“ There he is, over there with Johnny.” Teresa said as she pointed.
Harlan looked and seen Scott and Johnny working their horses, holding the cows and calves in a corner of the corral.
“ Looks like you’ve got a visitor.” Johnny said.
Scott looked and seen Teresa and his Grandfather standing by the corrals watching him. “ Why in the world did she bring him here?” Scott demanded.
“ How should I know.” Johnny said as he moved the stallion to stop a cow from bolting.
“ Hey, would you look at that brother.” Billy Deegan said.
“ What?” Carl asked.
“ Over there by the corrals. That’s one good looking filly standing there with the old man.” Billy said.
Johnny heard the brothers crude remarks about Teresa. “ You two would do better to keep your mind on what you’re doing and not looking at her.”
“ Fucking half-breed, thinks he can tell us what to do.” Carl said.
“ Come on Carl. We’ll be done today. We can get to know her better at the party I heard the boss has for all the hands after roundup.”
“ I know one thing little brother, I catch that half-breed alone, I’ll be teaching him a thing or two about bossing us around.” Carl said as he glared at Johnny before turning his horse and heading back out into the pasture.
“ Maybe you should ease up on those two a bit Johnny.” Scott suggested.
“ You heard what they said didn’t you?” Johnny asked.
“ Though their wording was a little unorthodox, I thought it was a compliment they were giving Teresa.”
“ Johnny, Scott, bring that bunch up.” Frank yelled.
Johnny and Scott started moving the cows and calves up toward the smaller corral with a chute to cut the calves away from their mothers to be branded.
“ That’s the last of them Frank.” Johnny said as he forced the last cow into the corral.
“ Why don’t you two go get some lunch.” Frank Suggested.
“ I think we shall. Be nice to smell something other than stinking cows.” Scott said before riding over to the corral fence and dismounting.
“ Boy ain’t that the truth.” Johnny added.
“ Scott, your Grandfather wanted to see you working, so I brought him out here.” Teresa said.
“ You shouldn’t be here. This is no place for a woman.” Johnny said.
“ I have every right to come out here Johnny.” Teresa snapped back. “ Mister Garrett wanted to see Scott. We’ve done nothing wrong.”
“ Go home, both of you…….Now.” Johnny ordered.
“ Now listen here…..I see no harm in coming out here to see my Grandson.” Harlan said.
“ This is a working ranch, no a playground.” Johnny responded.
“ Teresa, take my Grandfather back to the house. Neither one of you should have come out here.” Scott ordered.
“ That’s a fine………” Harlan started, only to be cut off by Scott.
“ Like Johnny said, this is a working ranch. Teresa showing up here has already caused problems with two of the hands. Now please sir, go back to the house. We will be done here in a couple hours and I will spend time with you tonight.” Scott responded as he poured a cup of coffee.
“ You’re not in charge here Johnny. Murdoch said I could show Mister Garrett around Lancer, and that’s what I am doing.”
Johnny came out the gate and walked up to Teresa. “ I am the one in charge here and I told you…….go home now.”
“ Come Teresa, Scotty my boy……I am ashamed of the rudeness from you. I would expect nothing less from this mongrel, but you my boy, totally inexcusable.”
“ Hey Frank, who are those two?” Billy Deegan asked.
“ The girl is Teresa, Mister Lancer’ ward. The old man is Scott’ Grandfather, visiting here from Boston.” Frank responded.
“ Ward huh. So she’s no relation to Lancer?” Carl asked.
“ No, but he loves her like she was his own flesh and blood. Why don’t you two go grab some food.” Frank said.
“ What’s that half-breeds problem? He acts like he owns this place. Always bossing us around.” Carl asked.
“ I suggest you not call him that. Johnny is Murdoch’ youngest son. You want to keep your job, I suggest you do what he tells ya.” Frank suggested before turning his horse and riding away.
“ His son huh. I don’t give a rats ass if he is or not. I’m gonna teach that half-breed some manners when this roundup is over.” Carl said.
“ And just how you gonna do that Carl?” Billy asked.
“ Simple. We wait until he’s alone during the party. He won’t be walking away from it, I guarantee that.” Carl said with a laugh.
“ I have a feeling he wears his gun like he does for a reason Carl. Like maybe he’s a gunfighter.” Billy suggested.
“ He ain’t no gunfighter. The only half-breed that were a gunfighter was Johnny Madrid, and he was killed in Mexico a few years ago.”
“ I don’t know Carl. That sure looks like a gunfighters rig he’s wearing.” Billy responded.
“ You get all the branding done son?” Murdoch asked as Johnny and Scott walked into the Grand room.
“ Yes sir. Two hundred and thirty calves branded.” Scott responded.
Johnny walked over to the sideboard and poured a shot of tequila, and downed it.
“ Something wrong son?” Murdoch asked, noticing his youngest quietness.
“ No, I’m gonna go clean up before supper.” Johnny said before heading upstairs.
Murdoch and Scott watched him leave.
“ Where’s Grandfather?” Scott asked as he went to the sideboard and poured two shots of brandy.
Murdoch walked over to him. “ He’s in his room resting. Him and Teresa came back from their ride, they’ve been pretty quiet. “ What happened?”
“ Teresa brought Grandfather out to the branding. A couple of the hands made some remarks about her Johnny didn’t like. He asked her to leave and well…….I think you know how that went.” Scott said as he walked over and sat down on the couch.
“ What was she thinking.” Murdoch said with a raised voice. “ She knows better than to go around the hands when work is being done.”
“ Yes sir, she does. But I think my Grandfather had a lot to do with her bringing him there. He said he wanted to see me working. That he hasn’t had much time with me this past week.” Scott responded.
“ Who were the two hands?” Murdoch asked as he walked over and sat down across from him.
“ The Deegan brothers. You remember me telling you I had a bad feeling about hiring them because of the way they wear their gun?”
“ Yes. I also remember what I said to you when I did.” Murdoch responded.
“ Johnny knows them, or rather he knows their kind. They’re gunfighters Murdoch, and I have a feeling they re going to cause problems for Johnny.” Scott stated.
“ Do they know who he is?” Murdoch asked.
“ They know he’s your son, Johnny Lancer, not Johnny Madrid as far as I know.” Scott said.
“ You want to talk to me about what else is bothering you son?” Murdoch asked.
Scott leaned back against the couch and let out a sigh. “ My Grandfather. Him and Teresa have been spending a lot of time together.”
“ Yes, that’s because we’ve been busy with the roundup. You think there’s more?”
“ Yes sir I do. I’m not sure, but I think Teresa has told him a lot about what’s been happening here, especially about Johnny. I think the two of them might try something.” Scott responded.
“ Like what son?”
“ You know Teresa has been trying her best to try and get Johnny to leave here. Grandfather showing up here unannounced like he did. The Deegan brothers coming here……I don’t think it’s coincidence sir.”
“ Son, I know you love your Grandfather, and I know he doesn’t like Johnny. I didn’t hear what was said that day in the kitchen, you did, but if you think Harlan is going to try something that could hurt your brother, or worse, what are you going to do about it?” Murdoch asked.
“ To tell the truth sir, I don’t really know what to do other than ask Grandfather to leave here. I won’t let him or anyone else hurt my brother. Lancer is his home. Johnny has a right to be happy.”
“ So do you son. If what you are saying is true……..I know it won’t be an easy thing for you to do asking your Grandfather to leave.” Murdoch said. “ Why don’t you go get cleaned up before supper. I’ll let the Deegan brothers go after the roundup party tomorrow.”
Scott stood up. “ Johnny’ no fool sir. I hate to think what will happen if he finds out my Grandfather and Teresa are trying to get him to leave here.”
“ I know he’s not son. Your brother has stayed alive this long because he’s not. If anything does happen, I think your brother will use good judgment on how he handles it.”
“ I hope so.” Scott said before heading upstairs.
“ Murdoch, could you please ask your son to not wear his gun at the party. I don’t want people feeling uncomfortable while here because he’s wearing his gun.” Teresa asked.
“ Teresa, everybody in the valley knows Johnny. I’m sure he will leave his gun inside.” Murdoch responded.
“ Mister Garrett is very offended by Johnny wearing it in the house. There’s no need for him to.”
“ If Harlan Garrett has a problem with Johnny wearing his gun and coming into his own home with it on, then he needs to come to me about it. Not have you do his talking for him.” Murdoch ordered.
“ Johnny doesn’t need………”
“ I don’t need to what Teresa?” Johnny asked from the foyer entrance.
“ It would seem my Grandfather is offended by you wearing your gun in the house little brother, and he has had the good grace to have Teresa say something about it.” Scott said as he came down the stairs. “ Where is my Grandfather?”
“ He’s upstairs in his room.” Murdoch responded.
“ Grandfather, would you come downstairs please.” Scott yelled.
“ Scott, it’s no big deal. I just think it’s funny that before he got here, you never said anything about me wearing my gun. I wonder why that is Teresa?” Johnny asked.
“ Scotty, there’s no need to yell my boy.” Harlan said as he came down the stairs.
“ Would you please have a seat I wish to address something and I want you to hear it so there is no mistake.” Scott said.
“ Scott, you don’t have to do this. Really.” Johnny said.
“ Yes I do brother.” Scott said. “ Teresa tells us that you are offended by my brother, and that you don’t like him wearing his gun in his own home. Well sir, I am offended by you. You show up here with barely any notice before arriving, and all you have done since you’ve been here is conspire with Teresa on how to get rid of my brother. Well it stops now. I know you’ve told him things that is none of his business Teresa. I also know you had hoped to start trouble yesterday coming out to where we were branding cattle. This is me and Johnny’ home. Lancer is a working cattle ranch, what we do is work from sunup to past sunset sometimes. Tomorrow I will take you to Spanish Wells, where you can either stay in the hotel there, or go back to Boston. I’ll not have you disrespecting my brother anymore.” Scott said firmly.
“ Scott, that’s very rude.” Teresa cut in. “ He came all this way to see you.”
“ With all do respect Teresa, this doesn’t concern you.” Scott said firmly.
“ Then I guess I will leave tomorrow and go back to Boston. I won’t stay where my own Grandson doesn’t want me around.” Harlan said.
“ It’s not that I don’t want you around Grandfather. It’s how you are treating Johnny that has me upset. The way the both of you treated him yesterday when he asked you politely to leave. A woman has no business around a bunch of cowhands during a roundup and branding. You could have gotten someone hurt. Teresa, you of all people know the dangers involved when rounding up and branding.”
“ I wanted to see what you do. Teresa took me out there so I could. I have hardly seen you since I arrived.” Harlan cut in.
“ I told you when you did arrive that we would be busy with roundup. That calves had to be branded. This is a working ranch Grandfather.”
“ I think we all need to calm down. Today is for the hands. They don’t get to have as much fun as we do, so lets try and have a pleasant day.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Johnny, you still going to Morro Coyo to bring Emma out here?” Scott asked.
“ Emma, who’s Emma?” Murdoch asked.
“ Johnny has a girlfriend. A very nice young lady who works in Morro Coyo at Baldanero’s store.” Scott responded.
“Yeah I was just heading out to go get her.” Johnny responded.
“ I think I’ll come with you.” Scott said.
“ Actually Scott, I have plans with Emma before we come back here.” Johnny responded.
“ I was hoping we could spend some time together before people started arriving Scotty.” Harlan said as he gave Johnny a cold look.
“ I could, but right now I have nothing I wish to discuss with you sir.” Scott responded before heading upstairs to his room.
“ This is your fault.” Harlan said. “ Scotty would have never been so rude to me until he came here. Since he’s been around you.”
“ That’s quit enough Harlan.” Murdoch cut in. “ Teresa, Johnny, leave us.” he ordered.
Teresa followed Johnny outside to check on the decorations being put up. “ I can’t believe you have the audacity to bring a whore to this party.”
Johnny stopped and turned facing her. “ Emma is not a whore.” Johnny said as he stepped closer. “ Don’t you ever call her that again and let me hear it.” he said firmly before walking away.
“ I don’t know why you really came here, but I have a good idea, so if the air needs clearing……let’s clear it, right here, right now.”
“ Very well.” Harlan responded. “ You stole Scotty from me. You bribed him into coming back here to this god forsaken place. What my Catherine ever seen in you, I will never understand. I will never forgive you for taking her away from me and bringing her all the way across the country just to die alone in the back of a wagon while you saved your precious ranch.”
“ I married Catherine because we were in love. She chose to come out here with me. I never forced her to leave Boston. I sent her away because we were being attacked by land pirates. Would you have rather she stayed and got killed or worse. You think it doesn’t bother me that my wife was alone when she gave birth to Scott. I have to live with the decision I made sending her away for the rest of my life.”
“ Of yes. I can see how broken up you were over her death. You go out and get a Mexican whore pregnant and bring that half-breed killer home to be with my Scotty. I know what you have done……Paying off that woman in Abilene. The niece of the woman that half-breed killed. I also know about Mexico, and what he did down there. Why he’s really wanted by the Rurales if he ever sets foot across the border again.” Harlan spat back. “ When I learned you had another woman and child, I did my own investigating. I’ve known for years where that killer was. I’ve known since he killed that girls father and brother in a range war. How he used her to get to them. I also know about the girl in Spanish Wells that came back here with him and Scott. How he pretended to love her when all he did was use her. He used her just like you used my Catherine. I won’t rest until that half-breed is dead and Scotty is back home in Boston with me. Maybe you should ask that killer who really killed his mother.”
“ Johnny told me what happened to his mother. I don’t need to ask him again about it.” Murdoch responded.
“ Are you sure about that?” Harlan asked. “ Or maybe you don’t want to know the real truth of what happened to your Mexican whore wife.”
“ You do anything to hurt my son, and I will see to it that you are arrested and put in prison for it.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ You’ll have a hard time proving I did. You be surprised what money can buy. If you have enough of it.” Harlan said before turning and walking outside.
“ Johnny….You’re in town early for a Saturday.” Emma said as Johnny walked into Baldanero’s store.
“ I came to see if Mister Baldanero would let you have the day off and come with me to Lancer for a party we’re throwing.”
“ So you want me to go to a party with you at your ranch?” Emma asked. “ I don’t think your father will approve of a whore being at his house.”
“ You’re not a whore. You’re my girl, and I would like you to come. He already knows I was coming here to get you.” Johnny said.
“ You’ll have to ask my boss.” Emma responded.
“ Señor Baldanero,¿ puede Emma tener el día libre para ir a una fiesta en Lancer conmigo?” Johnny asked. ( Mr Baldanero, can Emma have the day off to go to a party at Lancer with me?)
“ Si Johnny. She is a good worker. She can have the day off.” Mister Baldanero responded.
“ Gracias amigo.” Johnny said. “ I brought a horse for you to ride. You told me you hadn’t rode in a long time.” Johnny said.
“ Okay. I guess I should go change into something more appropriate for a party then. I’ll just be a minute.” Emma said before tuning and heading to the room in the back were she was staying.
“ You like the young lady yes?” Mister Baldanero asked.
“ I sure do. Ain’t seen a woman like her before.” Johnny said. “ I can’t thank you enough for giving her a job here.”
“ She is a good person. Her heart belongs to you I think. She talks about you a lot. Wonders when you will come in.” Mister Baldanero said.
“ Yeah, we’ve been pretty busy this last week with roundup and branding.” Johnny said as Emma came back out wearing a beautiful light blue dress with white lace trim. Johnny found himself just staring at her. “ Wow. You sure know how to take a mans breath away.” he said as he walked over to her and gave her a kiss on the forehead.
“ Why thank you. Shall we?” Emma said.
About halfway back to Lancer, Johnny guided his horse off the main road, up through some brush on a deer path to a thicket of trees along a stream and got down.
“ Is something wrong?” Emma asked as Johnny walked over to her horse and reached up to help her down.
“ Not a thing.” Johnny said when Emma’ feet touched the ground. “ I missed you.” he said before claiming her mouth as he started pulling her dress up.
“ Why Johnny Lancer, are you trying to seduce me?” Emma asked with a laugh.
“ You want me to stop?” Johnny asked.
“ Only until you spread that blanket out you have on the back of your saddle.” Emma responded. “ It’s been to long since I’ve been with you.”
Johnny went a undid the blanket, and walked over closer to the stream and spread it out on the grass in the shade. Undoing his gun belt and placing it on the ground nearby he smiled as Emma walked over and pulled her dress up over her head, revealing an almost naked body beneath. Undoing his belt, Johnny slid his pants down before sitting down to remove his boots. “ I’ve been thinking about being with you again all week.” he said as he pulled his boots off and removed his pants and shirt. “ Nobody can see us here.” he said as he reached for Emma’ hand and guided her down to the blanket with him.
“ That’s good.” Emma said before she pushed Johnny back and straddled him.
“ Aggie. I was hoping you would come.” Murdoch said as he walked over to his longtime friend.
“ Did you think I would forget?” Aggie asked. “ How have you been Murdoch? I haven’t seen you since the trouble. How’s Johnny doing?”
“ A lot has happened since then I’m afraid. I’ve been meaning to come over. I’ve missed our meeting once a week for supper.” Murdoch responded.
“ Mrs Conway. It’s so good to see you again.” Teresa said as she walked over with Harlan.
“ Teresa.” Aggie said.
“ Aggie, this is Scott’ Grandfather, Harlan Garrett.” Murdoch said.
“ Grandfather…..The one who lives in Boston?” Aggie asked knowing how Murdoch felt about the man. Many times he had talked to her about this man.
“ Yes. He came here to spend time with Scott.” Teresa stated.
“ I’m afraid my trip was a waste of time though. It would seem my Scotty has more time for this ranch than he does his own Grandfather.”
“ Well I’m sure Scott means no harm Mister Garrett, but it is roundup time and this is a working ranch.” Aggie responded.
“ If you will excuse us. I need to discuss some business with Agatha inside.” Murdoch said as the two walked away.
“ I’m sorry. She’s usually more pleasant Mister Garrett.” Teresa said.
“ Have they known each other long?” Harlan asked.
“ About twenty years I think.” Teresa responded.
“ So Murdoch has known her since after my Catherine died?”
“ Yes. She came to the valley before Murdoch met Maria.”
“ How does she feel about that?” Harlan asked.
“ I think sometimes as I would watch them together, how they laugh and talk that she wished it had been her instead of Maria.” Teresa responded.
“ Perhaps that would have been better for all if they had.” Harlan said.
“ A lot of people would still be alive if they had.” Teresa said coldly’ “ Shall we get some punch.” she suggested.
“ You are so bad Johnny Lancer.” Emma said with a smile as he helped her on her horse.
“ You weren’t complaining a little while ago.” Johnny said.
“ Oh trust me, I’m not complaining in the least. In fact, I like it when you’re a bad boy when we make love.” Emma said as Johnny went and got on his horse.
“ Good, because I thought maybe I would have to teach you a bad boy lesson.” Johnny responded with a laugh.
“ I just might hold you to that. So how far to your ranch?” Emma asked.
“ About an hours ride yet.” Johnny responded as they rode back to the road.
“ Are you sure about this Johnny?” Emma asked.
“ Yeah why?” Johnny asked.
“ I don’t know. Maybe I’m just nervous. I’ve never been to a party before. Especially one at a ranch as big as yours is.” Emma responded.
“ It’s just a ranch. You have no reason to be nervous. I know several people who are going to really like you.” Johnny said as he stopped his horse.
Emma stopped her horse. “ I just don’t want to shame you is all. You’re a good person. You could have any girl in the valley. How come you want me?”
Johnny moved his horse up next to her and reached out, taking hold of her left hand. “ True, I could have any woman in the valley, but I don’t want them. I want you. Emma, there’s nothing you could ever do to shame me. Hell, I should be asking you why you want to be with me.”
“ Well It’s not because you’re also Johnny Madrid, if that’s what you’re thinking. I mean, that’s okay in my book, just as long as you’re more Lancer than Madrid.” Emma responded. “ Don’t look so surprised. I knew who you were and who you want to be. I think it’s wonderful that someone in your line of business can get a second chance and leave that part of your life behind you and become the long lost son of a wealthy rancher.”
“ How’d you know?” Johnny asked.
“ Mister Baldanero and I have talked. I have also talked to Father Micheal. He thinks very highly of you.” Emma responded. “ I know your past can show up, and I accept that. Want to know why I can……..Your eyes. I see nothing but a kindred spirit in your eyes. You’re kind and caring about others. You don’t want to use your gun, but do when forced into it. Nobody has told me, but I think you were forced into living as Johnny Madrid at a very young age. Am I right?”
“ Damn girl. It’s………….everything you just said is true. It wasn’t easy growing up below the border. Hell it still isn’t.” Johnny responded.
“ Because your mother was a Mexican and your father and American?” Emma asked.
“ Yeah. Mestizo, half-breed. Take your pick. I’m cursed because I have blue eyes.”
“ I don’t see either of those horrible names you just said. I only see a man with gorgeous blue eyes, who stole my heart that first time we were together.”
Johnny leaned over and kissed Emma, sliding his tongue over her lips. “ And I don’t see a girl who worked in a saloon.”
“ You kiss me like that again and I might just make you make love to me again.” Emma said with a smile.
“ That can be arranged when we get back to the ranch.” Johnny said before kissing her again.
“ Oh it can huh. I thought there was a party at the ranch?”
“ There is, but we can go to the barn before we join the party and have our own party.” Johnny suggested.
“ Hmm, making love with you in the hayloft. That’s something I’ve never done.” Emma responded as she kicked her horse.
“ You will before the days over.” Johnny said as he kicked the stallion to catch up.
“ Oh Murdoch, I can’t believe Teresa would be that way to Johnny. When you left to meet them in Modesto, she was so happy he was coming home.” Aggie said after listening to what Murdoch told her. “ Do you think her and Scott’ Grandfather will try something?”
“ I don’t know. Harlan has made it very clear since he arrived how he feels about Johnny.” Murdoch responded.
“ What does Johnny think about all this?” Aggie asked.
“ He’s hurt. I can see it in his eyes every time Teresa says something bad to him.” Murdoch responded. “ It’s like I don’t even know her anymore. Johnny, I know feels responsible in some part because he brought Jake back here.”
“ But he had no way of knowing what would happen between them. He had no way of knowing Teresa would turn on him.” Aggie responded.
“ No, but one thing I’ve learned about Johnny is, he blames himself for things he shouldn’t.” Murdoch said. “ Johnny cares about people, and it scares me that because he cares so easily, it’s going to get him hurt.” Murdoch said just as Scott walked into the room.
“ Mrs Conway, it’s good to see you.” Scott said.
“ Hello Scott. It’s good to see you as well.” Agatha responded.
“ Son, have you seen your brother?” Murdoch asked.
“ I don’t believe he’s back from picking up Emma yet.” Scott replied. “ Did I interrupt something?”
“ No, we were just talking about the roundup. It sounds like you have a good amount of calves this year.” Aggie responded.
“ Yes ma’am. About a hundred more than two years ago.” Scott replied.
“ Who is Emma?” she asked.
“ Emma it would seem is a young lady Johnny is courting who lives in Morro Coyo.” Murdoch said.
“ Is she the young lady working at Baldanero’s store?” Aggie asked.
“ Yes ma’am she is. Johnny met her in Spanish Wells and she came to Morro Coyo to be closer to him.” Scott responded.
“ Where did she come from?” Murdoch asked.
“ You know, I’m not sure sir. Johnny never said.” Scott responded, not wanting to tell his father where Emma worked in Spanish Wells, and he didn’t know where she came from really.
“ Well, I’m sure she’s a lovely lady if she caught Johnny’ eye.” Aggie said.
“ Perhaps we should go back out with the guest.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Mrs Conway, do you know two men, brothers named Carl and Billy Deegan?” Scott asked.
“ Yes. They came to my ranch last month looking for work. I told them I wasn’t hiring, that I had all the help I needed. To tell the truth, I didn’t like their appearance. Something about them was off. Why?”
“ Oh, no reason. I was just wondering is all.” Scott responded.
“ They came here and I hired them to help with the roundup. Scott thinks I made a mistake hiring them because of the way they wear their guns. He thinks they’re gunfighters.” Murdoch said.
“ Do you think they’re here for Johnny?” Aggie asked as they walked toward the veranda doors.
“ They haven’t acted like they know he’s Johnny Madrid, but they have made it clear they don’t like him giving them orders. Frank said they asked him who he was, and when he told them Johnny was your son, that seemed to anger them more. Especially Carl.” Scott responded.
“ Let’s join the party.” Murdoch said.
Carl and Billy Deegan stood back watching every move Teresa made. Who she danced with and talked too. Both had asked her to dance, and both had been turned down.
“ Look at her. She thinks she’s to good to dance with us.” Carl spat.
“ How we gonna have any fun with her when she’s always with that old man?” Billy asked.
“ We just have to be patient and wait. We’ll get our chance soon enough.” Carl responded. “ Once we do, we’ll high tail it out of here for the border. They won’t be able to catch us in Mexico.”
“ You sure about that? What if that half-breed or the other son come after us?” Billy asked.
“ They won’t. Carl responded.
Johnny and Emma could hear the music as they rode up to the barn and dismounted.
“ Looks like there’s a lot of people here.” Emma said as Johnny helped her down.
“ Yeah.” Johnny responded.
“ Hey Johnny, you want me to take your horses for you?” Walt asked.
“ No, you go on and enjoy the party Walt. I got ’em.” Johnny responded as he started leading the stallion and Emma’ horse into the barn. “ Oh hey Walt, don’t tell anyone you seen me okay.” Johnny requested.
“ Sure thing Johnny. I’ll see ya later.” Walt said before walking away.
Johnny tied the mare Emma rode and lead the stallion into his stall and removed the saddle, giving him a quick brushing.
“ So, is that the hayloft?” Emma asked as she walked over to the ladder and looked up.
“ Yeah.” Johnny responded as he came out of the stall and started unsaddling the mare. “ You still want to go up there?” he asked as he led the mare into her stall and brushed her down.
“ You got someplace else we can be alone?” Emma asked.
“ Sure do.” Johnny said as he walked out of the stall and closed the gate. Reaching for her hand, Johnny grabbed the blanket off his saddle and led Emma behind the stacked hay. “ Right here.” he said as he pulled her to him and claimed her mouth with hunger.
“ You are so bad Johnny. Make me feel good.” Emma said as they lay down on the blanket. Each one as hungry as the other for their bodies to become one.
“ You haven’t seen bad yet .” Johnny said as he started claiming her body with hunger. Both striving to reach that moment of pleasure with urgency. He could feel her fingernails dig into his back, clinging to each other, not wanting it to end.
“ Are you sure we should come here Jake?” Marcy asked as Jake stopped the buggy.
“ Johnny asked me to come if I could get away. Hiring a new deputy has allowed me to do that.” Jake said as he climbed down and helped Marcy down.
“ He asked you. Does he know you are bringing me?” Marcy asked.
“ No, but I know he won’t care. There’s no bad feelings between me and Johnny now.” Jake said as they started walking toward the house.
“ Jake, Johnny said he asked you to come. Hello Marcy.” Scott said as he walked up.
“ Hello Scott. How are you?” Marcy asked.
“ I’m good. How are you doing?” Scott responded.
“ Getting bigger.” Marcy responded.
“ I’m good. Johnny hasn’t come back from Morro Coyo yet, but I expect him any time.” Scott said.
“ Morro Coyo/” Jake asked
“ Yeah He went to bring his girl………”
“ It’s alright Scott. I don’t have any claim to Johnny anymore. I’m with Jake now. I’m glad he found someone else. I hope she makes him happy.”
“ I don’t believe it. Of all the nerve.” Teresa said.
“ What’s wrong.” Harlan asked.
“ That’s what’s wrong.” Teresa said as she pointed to Jake. “ Johnny must have invited them here.”
“ The Sheriff and the young lady with him?” Harlan asked.
“ That’s Jake, and the one with him is Marcy, the one who came back here from Abilene to marry Johnny, but decided not to because he raped her.” Teresa spat, not caring if what she said was a lie.
“ My heavens. Why isn’t he in jail for that?” Harlan asked.
“ Because Jake is the only law around here, and they are friends. That baby she’s carrying is probably Johnny’.”
“ Another half-breed.” Harlan spat.
Teresa, fuming walked over to Jake. “ What are you two doing here?” she demanded.
“ Johnny invited them Teresa.” Scott said.
“ You have some nerve coming here Jake, especially with her.”
“ It’s good to see you too Teresa. I didn’t come here to fight with you. I’m here with Marcy because Johnny asked me to come. So if you have a problem with that, I suggest you take it up with him.” Jake responded.
“ Oh I will.” Teresa responded with anger before turning and walking away.
“ I see what Johnny means about her now.” Jake said.
“ She’s been like that ever since you left I’m afraid.” Scott said.
“ No wonder Mister Lancer is sending her back east to Boston.” Marcy said. “ She’s full of nothing but anger and hate over something that is over and done with.” she added.
“ Well, shall we go find a cool place for you to sit down.” Jake suggested.
“ Sam is here if you feel you need him for anything.” Scott said as they walked toward the party.
“ Thank you. I’ll be alright.” Marcy responded.
Johnny and Emma lay holding each other as their breathing slowed down. “ I could stay like this with you forever Emma.” Johnny said as he ran his hand up and down her arm slowly.
“ Can I ask you something and you not get mad?” Emma asked.
“ Sure. Ask away.” Johnny responded.
Emma raised up on her left arm. “ Do you like me for the sex we have, or for me?”
Johnny looked at her. He could tell she was being serious asking him this. “ For you. The sex is fantastic, but it’s you that I like Emma. I can get sex anywhere, you know that.” Johnny responded. “ The way I feel about you I can’t really explain. What I thought I had with Marcy and what I felt isn’t the same with you. To be honest, I’m new to this. My mother never showed me how to be with a woman. How to love her. What I know, I learned in bordellos with older women. I want to take this slow with you Emma. I don’t care about your past. I just want to have you be my girl.” Johnny said as he reached under her arm and pulled her on top of him. “ Are you having second thoughts about being with me?”
Emma started moving her hips, rubbing him. “ Does that feel like I am?” she asked as she reached down to guide him into her.
“ No.” Johnny said as he sat up and pulled her legs around his sides and started moving.
“ Johnny, I asked you that because I’m falling in love with you. I don’t want to get hurt.” Emma said as she moved with him.
“ I don’t plan on ever hurting you. I know now what not to do. I promise you, I will never hurt you Emma.” Johnny said before claiming her mouth.
“ Murdoch, why did Johnny have to invite Jake and Marcy here today?” Teresa demanded.
“ He asked me if it was alright and I told him he could. Jake is his friend. He has every right to ask him to come here. The fact that he brought Marcy is of no concern of mine.” Murdoch responded.
Teresa turned and headed into the house angry. Harlan watched her leave.
“ Something wrong sir?” Scott asked.
“ Has your brother come back yet?” Murdoch asked.
“ No sir. I haven’t seen him yet.” Scott responded.
“ Go see if he’s around. I know he doesn’t like large crowds, but if he’s here, he has people he invited he needs to visit with.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Yes sir.” Scott said. “ I’ll go see if his horse is in the barn.” Scott responded before walking away, heading to the barn.
Johnny slowed down trying to make the moment last as Emma straddled him. Hearing someone come into the barn, he put his hand over Emma’ mouth. “ Quiet. Someone just came into the barn.” Johnny whispered in her ear as he tried to stop, but his body had other plans he couldn’t control.
“ Johnny, I know you’re in here. Murdoch would like to see you little brother.” Scott said before walking out.
Johnny didn’t answer his brother. He couldn’t. When he heard Scott walk out he let go with a moan and lay back, pulling Emma down onto his chest. “ That was close.” He said.
“ You think he knows what we were dong?” Emma asked.
“ He knows. Guess it’s time to join the party.” Johnny responded.
“ If we must.” Emma said as she got up and picked up her bloomers and put them on.
Scott walked back to the party and found his father. “ Johnny will be here in a few minutes sir. He was in the barn taking care of the horses.”
“ Alright son. Thank you.” Murdoch responded.
“ Have you seen my Grandfather?” Scott asked.
“ I think I seen him go in the house a moment ago son.”
Harlan walked into the house and found Teresa in the kitchen. He could tell she was very upset. “ Are you alright young lady?” he asked.
Teresa spun around. “ Oh it’s you. You startled me. Yes, I’m fine. My whole life is ruined because of him, but I’m fine.”
“ Nonsense. There is nothing we can’t do to make your life better young lady. Now, tell me how I can help you be happy?” Harlan asked.
“ My life will never be the same as long as he’s here. I’m losing everything because of him.” Teresa said.
“ What if I could take care of your problem for you permanently?” Harlan asked.
“ Grandfather………..That will be enough.” Scott said with anger as he walked into the kitchen. “ Teresa, get out of here now.” he ordered. “ I’ll deal with you later.”
Teresa walked past Scott, anger in her eyes.
“ How dare you sir………How dare you stand there and talk about killing my brother. I will take you to town first thing in the morning and I never want to see you again.” Scott said firmly.
“ I’m your Grandfather. Surely you can’t choose that half-breed over me?” Harlan asked.
“ Oh can’t I.” Scott said. “ Let me tell you something sir, Johnny is more loyal to me as my brother than you have been all the years you raised me. I want nothing to do with a man who has so much hate for someone he doesn’t know. I never want to see you again after I take you to town.” Scott said firmly with anger before turning and finding his brother standing there with Emma.
“ Scott.” Johnny said.
“ How much of that did you hear Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ Enough.” Johnny said.
“ I’m sorry brother. I really am.” Scott said as he stepped over to him and put a hand on his shoulder. “ You shouldn’t have heard that. Not that way.”
“ I’m glad I did. Shows me what I mean to you. Thanks brother.” Johnny responded.
Harlan stood there watching them, anger growing. “ I won’t rest until you are dead.” he said with vehemency before walking out.
“ Who was that?” Emma asked.
“ My Grandfather.” Scott replied. “ So…….have you met our father yet?” he asked.
“ Not yet.” Johnny responded.
“ Uh Johnny, you know Jake is here and he brought Marcy with him?” Scott asked.
“ Good. I told him he could bring her. There’s no bad feelings between us anymore Scott. I’m over it and so are they.” Johnny responded.
“ Your home is so huge. I never dreamed it would be this big.” Emma said.
“ It is big. There’s nine bedrooms upstairs and five downstairs.” Scott said.
“ Oh my. Was your father hoping for a huge family why he built it so big?” Emma asked.
“ No, well we don’t know. He didn’t build the house. He bought Lancer before I was born and built it up to be the biggest ranch in the San Juaquin valley.” Johnny said.
“ So, can I assume you two will be staying around the party now?” Scott asked teasingly.
“ Yeah Scott.” Johnny responded with a laugh. “ Let’s go find the old man.”
“ You two go ahead. I need to find Teresa and have a talk with her.” Johnny said.
“ You sure Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah, I’m sure. Take care of my girl for me for a few.” Johnny said as he walked out the back door, headed to the rose garden. Finding it empty, Johnny knew one other place she would go.
Teresa walked to the barn to see the new litter of puppies. Standing there looking down at them, she started thinking back on everything that’s happened since Johnny came back to Lancer. Thinking about what happened between her and Jake, what Harlan had been saying to her since his arrival. How she had been treating him. The awful things she had said to him. Things she would have never thought she would ever say to someone she once loved as a brother.
“They’re right. It’s all my fault. I’m the one who should leave here. I’ve done nothing but hurt those who loved me.” she sobbed.
Johnny stood outside the barn listening to Teresa and what she was saying. He knew she would be in the barn with the puppies. She always came here to be alone and think if she couldn’t in the rose garden. Walking inside the door, he stopped. “ Teresa.” he said softly.
Teresa looked up at him with tears running down her face. “ Johnny I’m…………I…….I’m sorry.” she sobbed.
Johnny walked over to her and reached down for her hand.
Teresa took Johnny’ hand and let him pull her up to him. Wrapping her arms around him tightly as she cried.
“ Hey now, what’s all these tears for?” Johnny asked.
“ I’m so sorry for the way I’ve treated you. I can’t believe how horrible I’ve been to you.” Teresa said between sobs.
“ Hey. Like with me and Jake, we just had a fight is all. Brothers and sisters do that……….Teresa, look at me. Regardless of what you think of me, I will always love you. You will always be my sister.” Johnny said.
“ He wants to hurt you, and I didn’t help matters any.”
“ Who, old man Garrett. He can’t hurt me Teresa. He’s not the type to get his hands dirty.” Johnny said as he took out his kerchief and handed it to her. “ Wipe your nose and dry your eyes. We can’t have you going back to the party with your eyes all red from crying.”
“ Thank you.” Teresa said as she wrapped her arms around Johnny and hugged him tight again. “ I never meant any of what I said to you. I’m so ashamed of myself.”
“ You have nothing to be ashamed of. Just next time, if there is a next time….Lets handle it differently. Can we not fight?” Johnny said as he hugged her.
Billy and Carl Deegan watched as Johnny walked alone, unarmed to the barn. “ Payback time little brother.” Carl said.
“ Yeah, and he’s unarmed too.” Billy responded.
“ Go get our horses and tie them outside the barn while I go make sure.” Carl ordered.
Billy went and got their horses and tied them to the corral fence off the barn on the side, and walked around to where his brother was standing.
“ What you looking at?” Billy whispered.
Carl pointed inside the barn. “ Two times the fun.” Carl said as he pulled his gun and stepped inside the barn.
Teresa opened her eyes and gasped in horror as she stepped away from Johnny, never taking her eyes off the Deegan brothers.
“ Well, well, well. Would you look what we found brother Billy.” Carl said.
“ Looks like we got here just in time for the fun.” Billy responded.
“ Yeah, Looks like these two were planning a little fun between themselves out here in the barn by themselves and all.” Carl said as he stepped closer and brought the pistol up. “ Billy, get some rope so’s we can tie him up. He can watch.” Carl ordered.
Billy grabbed some rope hanging on a post and went over by Johnny, but not too close.
“ Go ahead and tie him to that post over there. He won’t do nothing because if he does, I’ll shoot her, and if she tries to get away, I’ll shoot him.” Carl ordered. “ You’re not so tough without your gun are you half-breed.”
Johnny wouldn’t move. He couldn’t believe this was happening. “ You two ride out now, and I’ll let you live.” Johnny said coldly as he looked at Teresa and motioned ever so slightly with his head for her to slowly back away from Carl.
Teresa had an idea what Johnny was going to do. Looking behind her, she made sure there was nothing she could trip over.
“ Big talk for someone with a gun aimed at him. I could shoot you now and nobody would hear the shot way out here.” Carl said. “ Get over by that post now.” he ordered as he stepped closer.
Johnny still wouldn’t move, and when Billy reached out to push him, he grabbed his arm Billy arms and jerked him off balance, turning just as Carl hit him hard enough on the head to make him drop to his knees.
“ Half-breed bastard.” Carl spat as he kicked Johnny viciously in the ribs. “ Billy, get up and get that damn rope on him now, only I want it around his neck. We’re gonna have us a hanging party.”
“ Yeah. I always wanted to know if a Mexican’ neck would stretch or not.” Billy said as he put the rope around Johnny’ neck and threw the other end up over a rafter beam and pulled it tight.
“ Pull it real tight and tie it off. We’re gonna have us some fun.” Carl said as he spun around and grabbed Teresa, yanking her to him.
“ What about his hands?” Billy asked.
“ You pull that rope real tight, he won’t be able to get to it to untie it.” Carl said as he shoved Teresa into an empty stall and slapped her hard, knocking her down as Billy came over. “ You hold her arms. I get first dibs on her.” Carl ordered.
Johnny tried to bring his right boot up so he could get his knife out, but every time he tried, the rope tightened around his neck choking him. He could feel the hemp cutting into his flesh, but didn’t care, Teresa needed him.
“ Hey, he’s trying to get free.” Billy said.
Carl stood up and walked over to Johnny and hit him hard on the left side of his face, knocking him out. Laughing, Carl went back to Teresa and started undoing his pants. “ Ain’t gonna bother us now.” he said as he dropped down and started ripping Teresa’ dress off her.
“ Shouldn’t Johnny be back by now?” Emma asked Scott.
“ He should, but maybe him and Teresa are finally talking.” Scott suggested.
“ Scott, who is this lovely young lady?” Murdoch asked.
“ Emma, I would like you to meet our father, Murdoch Lancer. Murdoch, this is Johnny’ girl Emma….. You know, I don’t believe Johnny has ever told me your last name.” Scott said.
“ I’m sorry. I thought he told you. It’s Peterson. Emma Peterson. Pleased to meet you Mister Lancer.”
“ The pleasure is all mine young lady. I can see why Johnny is smitten with you. You’re quit lovely.” Murdoch said. “ Where is Johnny?”
“ He went to talk to Teresa in the barn I believe. There was a small problem earlier I addressed, but unfortunately Johnny heard most of what was said.”
“ Harlan again?” Murdoch asked.
“ I’m afraid so sir. I will be taking my Grandfather to the stage first thing in the morning. I told him I want nothing to do with a man who can be so hateful to my brother. I am worried though. Grandfather swore he wouldn’t rest until Johnny was dead.”
“ Would you go see if your brother is alright?” Murdoch asked.
“ I’ll come with you Scott. If it’s alright?” Emma asked.
“ Come along.” Scott said.
Johnny opened his eyes and heard a muffled scream. Looking over, he seen Billy Deegan on top of Teresa, raping her.
“ You bastards. I swear I’ll kill you.” he said as he tried to get free causing the rope to tighten more.
Carl laughed as his brother finished and stood up. “ Let’s get out of here before someone comes looking for them.” Billy said as he fastened his pants and put his gun back on.
Carl walked over to Johnny, smiled and slugged him hard in the gut before turning and leaving the barn.
“ I won’t rest until I find you.” Johnny yelled as he looked over at Teresa laying there.
“ What the hell.” Scott said when he walked into the barn and seen his brother hanging. Hurrying over he untied the rope.
Johnny dropped to the floor and took several deep breaths before removing the rope from his neck and scrambling over to Teresa. “ Go get Sam now Scott.” he yelled as he reached out and pulled Teresa up to him. “ Emma, go get that blanket we used and bring it to me so I can cover her up.”
Scott took off and ran to get Sam and Murdoch. Finding his father talking to Aggie he pulled them aside and told them what he knew had happened.
“ Oh my god, go get Sam.” Murdoch said as him and Aggie headed to the barn.
“ Teresa, it’s alright. I got you.” Johnny said as a tear ran down his face. “ I’m so sorry I couldn’t protect you.” he said as he held her tight.
“ Don’t leave me Johnny. Please.” Teresa sobbed.
“ I won’t. You just stay still, Sam is coming.” Johnny responded.
“ They hurt me. Make them pay.”
“ I will. I promise you I’ll hunt them down and when I find them, they will suffer before I kill them.” Johnny said as Murdoch came into the barn.
“ Teresa.” he said as he knelt down next to them. “ Let me have her.” he demanded as he took Teresa from Johnny’ arms.
Johnny just stayed down on his knees, not moving as Sam came into the barn with Scott. Nobody noticed his neck or face due to the shadow.
“ Let’s get her to the house and in her room so I can examine her.” Sam ordered.
Scott picked her up and started carrying her to the house.
“ Take her in the back way Scott, so nobody out front sees her.” Murdoch ordered.
“ My god Murdoch, what the hell happened? Who would do such a thing?” Sam asked as they headed to the house.
“ I don’t know, but whoever it was. They will pay with their life.” Murdoch said.
Johnny sat there in the stall shaking after everyone left as tears rolled down his cheeks. A gentle hand on his shoulder brought him out of his daze.
“ Johnny, are you okay?” Emma asked as she knelt down next to him.
“ I couldn’t stop them.” he whispered.
“ Let me see your throat.” Emma asked
“ I’m fine.” Johnny said as he stood up and staggered a little.
“ Oh my god. Look at you. Johnny, you need the doctor. You have blood on the side of your face and a nasty rope burn around the front of your neck. Let’s get you to the house. Can you walk” Emma asked as she put an arm around him.
“ I tried to stop them. I tried Emma.” Johnny said as they walked out of the barn.
“ I know you did. It will be alright. Lets get you to the house so Sam can look you over.” Emma said.
Scott laid Teresa down on her bed and moved out of the way so Sam could start examining her. “ All of you out of here now.” Sam ordered.
“ I want to know who did this to her and I want to know now.” Murdoch demanded.
“ Johnny, I want Johnny.” Teresa sobbed.
Scott looked at Murdoch. “ Johnny, didn’t he come with us?” Scott asked.
“ No. He stayed in the barn. Why is Teresa wanting Johnny?” Murdoch asked.
“ Whoever did this, hung Johnny from a rafter beam just enough so he couldn’t do anything.”
“ They did what?”
“ I want the two of you out of here now. Go find Johnny so she will calm down.” Sam ordered.
Murdoch and Scott left the room and closed the door. “ It had to be more than one man to overpower Johnny to do this. There’s no way one man could do it.” Scott said.
“ Your brother wasn’t wearing his gun. I asked him not too today.” Murdoch responded as they walked into the kitchen just as Emma brought Johnny in the back door.
“ Sit him down here Emma.” Scott said as he went to his brother.
“ Teresa.” Johnny said softly.
“ Sam is with her now. She’s asking for you.” Scott said.
Johnny stood back up and started toward Teresa’ room.
“ Johnny, lets clean some of that blood off your face before you go in there.” Murdoch suggested.
“ I’m fine.” Johnny said as he continued to Teresa’ room and opened the door.
“ I told you to wait outside…..Oh it’s you Johnny. Come sit by her.” Sam said.
“ Johnny.” Teresa called out.
“ I’m here. I’m right here Teresa. I got you.” Johnny said as he sat down on the bed and scooted over next to her, and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
Sam glanced at Johnny and noticed the blood on his face. “ How bad is that/” he asked.
Johnny looked up at him and then back down at Teresa. “ I’m fine.” he said softly as he held Teresa.
“ Teresa, I want you to drink this. It will help with the pain.” Sam said as he mixed some white powder in a glass of water.
Teresa clung to Johnny’ arm, looking at him. “ Promise me you’ll make them pay…..Promise me.” she said as she started getting sleepy.
“ I promise. I’ll hunt them down and make them pay.” Johnny said softly as he kissed her forehead. “ You just rest.”
“ She’s asleep now.” Sam said. “ Let’s go out so I can look at you.” he suggested.
Johnny slowly pulled his arm out from under Teresa’ shoulders and climbed out of the bed. Walking around to the other side, next to Sam, he reached down and pulled the covers up over her and sat down next to her.
“ Will she be alright Sam?” he asked softly.
“ With time. She’s badly bruised, but I found no other injuries except the ones visible to her face and her arms around her wrist. I’m more concerned with how this will affect her mentally Johnny. What he did to her…….”
“ They doc. There were two of them.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ Oh my god.” Sam said as he removed his glasses and put things away in his bag.
“ Why do you think Teresa wants Johnny?” Emma asked.
“ I don’t know. Unless it’s because he was there with her when this happened.” Murdoch responded.
“ I need to find Jake and tell him what’s happened.” Scott said.
“ Son, it’s getting dark out. We won’t be able to track them in the dark. Johnny knows who it was. Lets wait until he comes out to tell us. We can start tracking at first light.”
“ He’s the law. He needs to know.” Scott said before turning and walking out just as Aggie came into the room.
“ Murdoch, there’s a storm starting up. People are starting to leave.” she said. “ Is everything alright?” she asked.
“ Teresa was raped.” Murdoch said.
“ What…… Where is she?” Aggie asked.
“ In her room with Sam and Johnny.” Murdoch responded, not noticing Harlan standing at the bottom of the stairs.
“ I’ll go see if Sam needs my help.” Aggie said as she started toward Teresa’ room just as Sam and Johnny walked out into the grand room.
“ She’s asleep. I gave her some sleeping powder. She’s badly bruised up on her wrist and face, but physically she’ll heal. I’m more concerned about her mental state. She’s going to need help recovering from this. Especially since it was two men who raped her.” Sam said.
“ Two men…….WHO?……..Who raped Teresa Johnny?” Murdoch demanded as Jake and Marcy walked into the house with Scott.
“ Mister Lancer…….I think you need to calm down.” Jake said. “ Marcy, would you go sit with Teresa.”
“ Agatha is in there. Marcy is the last person Teresa needs to see when she wakes up.” Murdoch said angrily.
“ He’s right Jake.” Marcy said as she went over and sat down.
“ You don’t look so good Johnny.” Jake said.
“ They had him hanging from a rafter beam when I found him.” Scott said as he walked over to Johnny’ side. “ Lets get you upstairs so Sam can clean those wounds out brother.” Scott suggested.
“ Just a minute Scott…….Johnny, I want to know who did this and I want to know now.” Murdoch demanded.
Johnny ignored him and walked with Scott upstairs.
“ Are you ever going to learn?” Sam asked. “ You can’t order Johnny to tell you something. I’m assuming he witnessed the attack. He’s probably going into with-drawl or shock from it.
“ With it getting dark and a storm coming…….whoever did this will be hard to track.” Jake said as he started to the stairs.
Murdoch walked over and poured a shot of scotch and downed it.
“ That’s not going to help.” Scott said.
“ Maybe now you know just how dangerous it is having that killer in this house.” Harlan said as he walked into the room.
Both Murdoch and Scott spun around.
“ Don’t you dare accuse Johnny of this.” Scott responded as he walked over to his Grandfather. “ What happened is not Johnny’ fault. He was damn near hung trying to stop it.”
“ That’s all very convincing isn’t it Scotty. How do you know he didn’t rape her and then had them tie him up so nobody would suspect him of this heinous crime?” Harlan demanded. “ He raped that young lady over there. God knows how many other women he’s raped and not been caught for.”
Murdoch walked over to Harlan, anger in his eyes. “ The fact that you are Scott’ Grandfather is the only reason I don’t hit you. How dare you accuse my son of raping a woman. You know nothing about Johnny. Get out of my sight.”
“ I know more about that killer than you think. Ask him about his mother. Ask him how she died. Wire El Paso and ask about a young lady who was raped down there just across the border four years ago.” Harlan said before turning to go back upstairs to his room. “ You won’t think your precious Johnny is so innocent.”
Scott stood there in shock at what he heard his Grandfather accuse Johnny of doing.
“ What is he talking about?” Emma asked.
“ It doesn’t concern you.” Murdoch responded.
“ With all due respect sir. Emma has a right to know. We all do. What was my Grandfather talking about happening in El Paso?” Scott asked.
“ A part of your brothers past I have no intention of sharing with any of you.” Murdoch said.
“ There was nothing in your Pinkerton reports about a rape in El Paso four years ago.” Scott said. “ Or do you have another report you have kept quiet about?”
“ Leave it alone Scott.” Murdoch ordered.
“ No sir…..I will not leave it alone. I have a right to know the truth. Did Johnny rape a young lady in El Paso four years ago?”
“ No he did not.” Jake said from the bottom of the stairs. “ I don’t know who is accusing him of that, but they are wrong.”
“ My Grandfather seems to think Johnny did.” Scott responded. “ I want to know the truth Jake.”
“ How is Johnny doing?” Emma asked.
“ He’s asking for you.” Jake said as he walked into the grand room. “ Sam thinks it would be a good idea if you went up there and stayed with him.” he added.
“ Just a minute.” Murdoch started.
“ You’re not the one he asked for Mister Lancer. Emma is. I know Johnny. I know what’s coming from this, and trust me, having a woman with him right now will be the calm before the storm.” Jake said as he stopped Murdoch. “ You go up there, and Johnny will shut down completely……He could even lash out at you. Are you willing to risk that happening?”
“ Lash out at me……why?” Murdoch asked as he watched Emma go upstairs.
“ Because you’re a man. Right now Johnny isn’t your son. I know this because I’ve seen it before. He’s Madrid, and it’s going to get bad.” Jake stated.
“ What do you mean he’s not my son? Johnny will always be my son, regardless.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ Scott……..You seen what he did to that man when we were coming back here. You know what I’m talking about.” Jake responded.
“ Murdoch, he’s right. What I seen Johnny do to that man would make you sick.” Scott responded as Sam came downstairs.
“ How is he?” Scott asked.
“ He won’t be able to talk for a few days due to the swelling. I want him to rest.” Sam said. “ Emma was able to get him to drink some laudanum to help with the pain. I’m worried about him though.” Sam said as he walked over and sat down. “ In Teresa’ room, he promised her he would find the men who did this and make them pay. What I seen in his eyes when he told her he would..i have to tell you Murdoch, Scott….it sent chills down my spine. Upstairs while I was examining his throat and cleaning up the lacerations on his face, his eyes had no life in them….they were deathly cold. You would think I was looking into the eyes of a dead man, that’s how cold they were.”
“ That’s because he’s not Johnny Lancer Sam.” Jake said.
“ I understand. Looks like I’ll be spending the night since the storm has started. I’ll go check on Teresa.” Sam said as he stood up and headed toward the hallway. “ Murdoch, Scott, I strongly suggest you not go up there. I know you want to talk to him, but as his doctor, I’m forbidding it, for right now.”
“ What’s this about El Paso Jake?” Scott asked. After Sam left the room.
“ I would prefer Marcy not hear this. Would you mind if she goes to one of the rooms and rest?” Jake asked.
“ Of course. Marcy, you can use the room next to Teresa’.” Scott said.
“ Thank you.” Marcy said as she stood up and left the room.
“ You mind if I get a drink?” Jake asked.
“ Help yourself. I have a feeling we will all need one.” Scott said.
Jake walked over and poured a shot of tequila and downed it. “ You know I’ve known Johnny damn near his whole life. What your Grandfather says about El Paso is true…….in part. By that I mean, a young lady was raped…viciously. She’s now in an insane asylum in Colorado. That’s how messed up she was from the attack. Three men attacked her. Me and Johnny were there in the saloon having a drink. We had just finished a job. This happened before I became a Marshal in Abilene. Johnny decided to call it a night and headed to the hotel down the street. He heard the girl scream and went to investigate. He found the men raping her. She had been cut up pretty good with a knife, trying to keep her quiet. Johnny only seen two of the men. He confronted them with his gun drawn, never seeing the third man until it was too late, and he got hit over the head. His gun went off and that drew the attention of others, including me. Johnny shot one of the men, but the other two got away. They were caught a week later and never made it to trial. Plenty of witnesses seen Johnny in the saloon and knew it wasn’t him. His name was mentioned in the newspaper as the one who saved the girl. Which he did. The two of us are the ones who tracked them down. What Johnny did to them would make you sick to your stomach. He cut them open with that knife he carries in his boot from their belly to their dick.” Jake said as he poured another shot of tequila and downed it. “ It was then I knew just how dangerous Johnny can be. Especially to someone who hurts a woman.”
“ Are you saying Johnny killed those two men in cold blood?” Murdoch asked.
“ Cold blood Mister Lancer………No. Johnny executed those men. What he did to them they had coming.” Jake snapped back.
“ Those men had a right to a trial.” Murdoch said firmly.
“ And what about the girl Mister Lancer……How fair would it have been to her to make her sit in that courtroom and face those two men. That girl is messed up for life because of what they did to her. You didn’t see her. You didn’t see what they did to her. She was fourteen years old Mister Lancer. She had her whole life ahead of her. Now she has a small room with a bed and window with bars on it. What the hell kind of life is that. Nobody in that town blamed Johnny for what he did. They thanked him. Her family thanked him. She came from a very wealthy family and was doing nothing wrong when those men raped her. All she was doing, the mother said, was walking home from school.”Jake said with anger as he glared at Murdoch. “ You like to assume the worst with Johnny all the time. You like to convict him before you have all the facts.”
“ What am I supposed to think after what he did to Marcy?” Murdoch demanded.
“ What he did to Marcy was get a little too rough. She told me the whole story of what happened in the barn that night. She liked Johnny being rough at times. She was rough right back with him if you must know. She got pissed off because Johnny stopped after he…….she wanted more and he didn’t. THAT is why she was mad at him. You’ll do good to get all your facts straight before you convict someone. Especially your own son. Now if you will excuse me…..I’m going to go back upstairs and spend the night with Johnny.”
“ Jake, you can sleep in one of the rooms up there.” Scott said.
“ No thanks. I know what might happen tonight so I think it best if I stay in Johnny’ room. I can sleep in a chair.” Jake responded before turning and heading upstairs.
Aggie had to get back to her ranch, but promised she would come over and help with Teresa if they needed her. Jake took Marcy back to town and did some checking around about anyone now gone from the valley who might be responsible for what happened.
“ Johnny plans on going after them doesn’t he?” Marcy asked Jake.
“ Can you blame him. I just hope the fool kid don’t get himself killed if he does. They have a two day head start on us and I have no idea which direction they went.” Jake said. I sent wires out down south to keep an eye out for two men who look like they might be running from the law.” Jake responded.
“ You think they headed to Mexico?” Marcy asked.
“ Possible. They would know the law can’t touch them down there.” Jake responded.
“ But Johnny Madrid can. Is that it? If he goes to Mexico, are you going with him?” Marcy asked.
“ Johnny’ a wanted man in Mexico. He knows the Rurales will kill him on sight if he goes down there again.” Jake responded.
“ You didn’t answer my question Jake.”
“ Yes. If he does, yes I will follow him. I’m sorry Marcy, but Johnny is like a brother to me.”
“ I understand. If you do, me and the baby will be right here when you get back.”
Johnny shut down. He refused to write down who attacked Teresa when Jake asked. Emma stayed by his side until the storm finally passed two days later. Sitting in the kitchen talking to Maria about Johnny and what he was like as a baby she was laughing when Murdoch walked in.
“ What’s so funny?” he asked as he went to pour a cup of coffee.
“ Maria was just telling me about Johnny as a baby and how you had to chase him all over once he started walking.” Emma explained.
“ Yes. John gave me and his mother quit a workout keeping up with him.” Murdoch said. “ Listen young lady. I’m afraid I was more than rude to you the other night. I would like to apologize for that.”
“ No apology necessary Mister Lancer. You were upset about what happened.” Emma responded.
“ Johnny seems to think a lot of you. It does me good to know he’s found someone to be happy with again.” Murdoch said.
“ But you have your doubts about us…..or I should say me right?” Emma asked.
“ After what Marcy did to Johnny, yes. I don’t want my son hurt again. He deserves happiness.”
“ Mister Lancer. I asked Johnny the day of the party what it was he liked about me. Point blank I asked him, was it the sex, or me. You know what he told me………He said me. He told me what happened between him and Marcy, and the mistake he made with her. Granted he said the sex is good between us, but it’s me he likes most. Now I’m sorry to put it to you so bluntly, but I know no other way to say it. I have no intention of hurting Johnny. I want a relationship with him. Granted you probably disapprove of us having sex, and that’s your right as his father. I know about him being Johnny Madrid, he told me. It’s Johnny Lancer I told him I’m falling in love with and I will accept the Madrid part of him when he has to be him. Your son is an incredible, loving, caring person. Did you know he cried in my arms that first night after the attack? He feels guilty and ashamed he couldn’t stop it.”
“ You do speak in an unladylike way. I know my son is a caring person. Sometimes I think he cares to much about some things.”
“ Why do you say that?” Emma asked.
“ From what I’ve been able to learn, and see.” Murdoch responded.
“ Would you rather he be cold and uncaring?” Emma asked
“ Certainly not. So what are your plans with my son?”
“ Just to make him happy and always be there for him, if he wants me to be. To support him when he needs it, love him, care for him, and let our relationship grow into something special for the both of us. Why do you ask?”
“ Because I find myself wondering if you seen him as Madrid, if you would feel the same way about him.” Murdoch responded.
“ I have seen him as Madrid. I was in Spanish Wells when he killed the deputy and saved Scott. I’ve also had several very good talks with Father Micheal about Johnny, as well as Mister Baldanero. Your son is liked by many people in this valley. Father Micheal thinks very highly of him. He feels Johnny is no longer a fallen angel sent down from above as the good book says.”
“ Morning. “ Scott said as he walked into the kitchen. “ I think I know who it was.” Scott said as he poured a cup of coffee and sat down at the table.
“ Who?” Murdoch asked.
“ The Deegan brothers, Carl and Billy.” Scott responded. “ The remarks they made that day Teresa brought my Grandfather out to the line shack and the fact that nobody has seen them since.” Scott said. “ The same two men I told you not to hire.”
“ Alright, so I made a mistake in hiring them. I’m going to have a hand take your Grandfather to town. I want that man out of this house.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ Maybe next time you will listen when one of your partners tells you something.” Scott responded. “ We are third owners in this ranch. Or is it like Johnny said, we’re just hired help?” Scott demanded.
“ Your brother was not here when I hired them.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ No he wasn’t, but their appearance alone should have told you they were no good.” Scott said as Harlan walked into the kitchen.
“ I have my belongings all packed up.” he said.
“ Good. A hand will be taking you to town. Teresa will not be coming to Boston to stay with you or attend the school. I want her nowhere near you anymore.” Scott said. “ If I find out you have done anything to jeopardize my brothers life, I will come back to Boston and have you charged and sentenced to the full extent of the law. I too know things about you Grandfather. Things you would prefer other people did not know. I would have no problem getting enough affidavits from people you have swindled and cheated.” Scott said with anger. “ If you hadn’t had Teresa bring you out there that day, this never would have happened to her.”
“ You can’t put this on me my boy. As for threatening me, I will let that slide this time, but only because you are my Grandson. I could crush him and have thirty guns show up here and kill that half-breed brother of yours. How I run my business and what I do back in Boston is irrelevant to what has happened here. I’m a business man, and I don’t let anyone stand in my way. So don’t threaten me Scotty. Because you have no idea who you’re messing with.” Harlan responded back.
“ Oh don’t I. You remember that little ledger you keep in your safe. You know, the one with all the names of people in and around Boston and other places that you extort money from. I happened to make a copy of that ledger before I left. I would be willing to bet, the law would be real interested in that book.”
Murdoch sat there, shocked at what he was hearing come out of his sons mouth. Never in his wildest dreams would he have ever thought he would see the day someone stood up to Harlan Garrett, especially have Scott be the one to do it.
Johnny got out of bed and got dressed. Three days he’d stayed in bed. His throat still soar, he was tired of just broth to eat. His stomach needed more if he was going to go after the Deegan brothers. Being the only one to know they headed south to Mexico, the sooner he got after them, the sooner he could keep his promise and give Teresa the closure she needed. Putting on his boots, Johnny walked over to the mirror and looked at his throat. Sam had told him he would have a scar, one of many he already had acquired in his short life. Sighing, Johnny walked over and opened his door and headed down the back stairs, stopping when he heard his brother clearly upset talking to someone he could only assume would be his Grandfather. Going on down the steps, Johnny walked into the kitchen and over to Maria, giving her a kiss on the cheek as he went to pour a cup of coffee. He could feel four sets of eyes on his back.
“ Juanito, no deberías estar fuera de la cama todavía.” Maria said. ( Juanito, you should not be out of bed yet )
“ Tengo cosas que hacer mamacita. ¿ Podrías alimentarme? Me muero de hambre solo en caldo.”( I got things to do mamacita. Could you feed me? I’m starving to death on just broth ) Johnny said before going over to Emma and sitting down next to her. “ Good morning beautiful.” Johnny said before giving Emma a kiss. “ How’s Teresa doing?”
“ She sleeps a lot and cries. She asked about you and I told her Sam had you on bed rest for a couple days with no talking.” Emma responded.
“ Did Sam say you could get up son, and did he say you could start talking?” Murdoch asked.
“ Don’t need his permission. My throats still a little soar still, but it’s not enough to keep me in a damn bed. I wasn’t shot.” Johnny said more harshly than intended. “ Sorry Murdoch. I think I’ll go see if I can get Teresa to come out here and eat breakfast with us.” Johnny said as he stood up and headed to her room.
“ You know what he’s doing.” Scott said.
“ I know son. We can’t stop him.” Murdoch responded.
“ What….what’s Johnny going to do?” Emma asked.
“ He’s going to be leaving soon, going after those men. He knows where they went I think.” Scott said.
“ My Juanito and Teresa, they are good now?” Maria asked as she set a plate of chorizos on the table
“ It appears so Maria.” Scott replied.
“ Do you mean Johnny will be leaving with Jake to track those two down and bring them back?” Emma asked.
Scott looked at Murdoch, then at Emma. “ No. he fully intends on doing it his way, and none of us can stop him. He made a promise to Teresa, one he fully intends to keep.”
“ Got that right brother.” Johnny cut in as he walked back into the kitchen with Teresa by his side. “ Teresa thinks she shouldn’t be out here because her hands shake. I told her we didn’t care if her hands shake. I want her to come out and have breakfast with us.” Johnny said. “ Teresa, this is my girl, Emma.”
“ I know that Johnny. We’ve already been talking about you in my room. I’m happy for you. I think she’s better for you than Marcy actually.” Teresa said.
“ Am I still being sent away to Boston?” Teresa asked.
“ No. You’re not going anywhere.” Johnny said firmly.
“ I need to say something to all of you. I don’t know what got over me and made me act like I did. Johnny, I treated you horribly. I wouldn’t blame you if you never wanted to talk to or see me again. I can’t take away what I’ve said to you. All I can do is offer you my sincerest apology.”
“ I already told you It’s fine. We just had a serious brother sister fight. It’s nothing Teresa. It’s in the past, let it stay there.” Johnny said as he wrapped his right arm around her and gave her a hug.
“ I would like you to take me to town Scotty, since it is the last time we will be together.” Harlan cut in.
“ Frank will take you to Morro Coyo sir.” Scott responded. “ In case you have forgotten, I have something more important to do.”
“ Could I ride to town with you? I really do need to get back to my job.” Emma asked.
“ No…..I’ll take you back.” Johnny said firmly. “ I don’t want you alone with him.”
“ Johnny, I won’t be alone. Either Scott or a hand will be with us.” Emma said.
“ I said no. I’ll take you back.” Johnny responded.
“ The young lady will be perfectly safe with me.” Harlan said.
“ Like Teresa was? I don’t care what you say old man. She’s not riding back to Morro Coyo with you.” Johnny said as Sam walked into the kitchen.
“ Well, I do believe I told you to stay in bed and rest.” Sam said.
“ Good morning Sam. You know how my brother is about following orders. Cup of coffee?” Scott said as he stood up.
“ Yes please. It’s been a very long night for me. Teresa, it’s good to see you out of bed. How are you feeling?” Sam asked as he sat down.
“ I’m alright. Johnny figured I’d stayed in my room long enough, and asked me to come out and have breakfast with them.”
“ What’s got you up so early Sam? Surely it’s not to come out here and see me?” Johnny asked.
“ No, I’ve been up all night delivering a baby.” Sam responded. “ Thank you Scott.”
“ Martha had her baby last night?” Teresa asked. “ Is she alright?”
“ Yes she did. Both mother and child are fine. I think it was harder on Stu than it was her. He was a nervous wreck until he heard that baby cry.
“ Sam, can Emma ride back to Morro Coyo with you?” Johnny asked.
“ Why I would be honored to have such lovely company with me.” Sam responded.
“ Thanks Sam.” Johnny said as he got up to get another cup of coffee.
“ How does your throat feel this morning Johnny?” Sam asked.
“ It’s alright.” Johnny responded.
“ Johnny, I know what you’re planning on doing. I just want you to know that I will wait for you. I want you to come back to me, please.” Emma said as they walked out to Sam’ buggy an hour later.
Johnny gave her a kiss. “ I will.” he said as he helped her into the buggy. “ Thanks again Sam.”
“ Johnny, I think it was a good idea getting Teresa to come out of her room this morning. She seems to have bonded to you.” Sam said as he climbed in his buggy.
“ Why is that Sam?” Johnny asked.
“ Security. You were with her before and when it happened. He mind hasn’t really accepted what’s happened yet. It may never accept it. What you did this morning though, is a good start to her doing that. See if you can get her to talk about it.” Sam said.
“ What about having her go back into the barn?” Johnny suggested.
“ I don’t know. It could help, but it could also make things worse for her. Ask her. See if you can get her to come outside today.” Sam suggested.
Johnny stood there watching the buggy drive away until it was passing under the Lancer arch. Wanting to go after the brothers, Johnny knew Teresa needed him more. He knew she would have to face her demon. He’d had more than his share of demons to face, and nobody around to help him do it.
“ How long until we reach Mexico Carl?” Billy Deegan asked.
“ Day, maybe two.” Carl responded.
“ You think anyone is following us?” Billy asked as he stopped his horse.
“ No. That storm coming in wiped out our tracks. They don’t know we headed to Mexico. Ain’t nobody gonna come looking for us just because we raped that girl and beat up a worthless half-breed. So stop worrying.” Carl responded.
“ If nobody’s looking, then how come we have to go into Mexico? Mister Lancer is an awful rich man, and we did hang his son.” Billy said.
Carl stopped his horse. “ Look. We go to Mexico for a few months and then we can come back. Ain’t nobody gonna pay us any attention down there.” Carl said.
“ Yeah, well how we gonna live. We haven’t ate since we left and I’m getting awful hungry.”
“ We’ll find a place to rest up and eat. Now come on.” Carl said as he kicked his horse.
Jake had no luck finding any sign of the Deegan brothers. Nobody had seen them since the day of the attack. He knew Johnny knew where they headed, and he knew it was just a matter of time before he went after them. All he could do was pray Johnny didn’t go back into Mexico, because if the Rurales found out he was back, they would kill him on sight.
“ Any luck?” Marcy asked as she walked into the jail.
“ No, nothing yet. They’re probably in Mexico by now. It’s out of my hands now.” Jake responded.
“ You’re still worried Johnny will go after them. That he’ll cross the border and be killed by the Rurales.” Marcy said.
“ Not much I can do to stop him. You ready to go get some lunch?” Jake asked as he stood up.
“ We both are.” Marcy said as they headed to the cafe.
Johnny sat in the rose garden with Teresa, just enjoying the sun. For the last three days, him and Teresa talked or just sat saying nothing at all.
“ Johnny, when are you going after them?” Teresa asked
Johnny sat up and looked at the barn, then back at her. “ When we can both walk into that barn and face our demons. I can’t leave you until we do that.”
“ You have demons, why?” Teresa asked.
“ Because I couldn’t protect you. I came too just when…………When they……..when they were leaving. I looked over and seen you laying there, and I couldn’t help you.” Johnny said with a slight quiver to his voice.
“ It never would have happened if I hadn’t went to the line shack that day. It’s all my fault.”
“ Teresa,………It is not your fault. What those two did to you was wrong. No man has a right to do that to a woman. You didn’t ask for them to do that. You were an innocent victim and nothing more.” Johnny said as he stood up and reached for her hand. “ Come on. We can do this.”
Teresa sighed as she took Johnny’ hand and stood up. “ I guess I really need to do this huh?” Teresa asked.
“ We both do.” Johnny responded as they started walking toward the barn
Murdoch hadn’t meant to eaves drop. He was coming out to tell them lunch would be ready in a few, but stopped when he heard them talking. Standing there listening to what Johnny said about confronting their demons tore at his heart. Never once had he thought about how Johnny felt about what happened. How many demons had his son have to deal with alone in his past he wondered. When Johnny stood up, he knew he’d seen him standing there. Watching them walk toward the barn a lone tear ran down his cheek as he turned and walked back inside.
“ Did you find Johnny and Teresa?” Scott asked.
“ Yes.” Murdoch said after clearing his throat.
“ Something wrong sir?” Scott asked.
“ How many times has he had to do it?” Murdoch asked. “ How many times has that boy had to face his demons alone?”
Scott set his cup of coffee down. Clearly something had happened outside. “ I can only imagine sir. Johnny’ life has been pretty rough.”
“ I never gave it a thought. How any of this is affecting him. He seen Teresa attacked. From what you said, I just assumed he didn’t. Has he talked to you at all about it?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, but I think he’s talked to Emma. She did say he cried that first night.” Scott responded. “ Something I’m sure was not easy for him to do.”
“ No, I expect not son. He just got Teresa to go to the barn with him. I heard her ask him when he’s leaving. He told her as soon as they confront their demons together.” Murdoch said.
“ You do realize Johnny will be going after them.” Scott said.
“ I know son. There isn’t anything we can do to stop him. I seen that look in his eyes. Will you be going with him?” Murdoch asked.
“ I think that will be entirely up to Johnny. Jake has had no luck and has received no reports of them being seen.” Scott responded.
“ Follow him then. Son, I’m afraid of what your brother will do when he catches up to them.”
“ You mean because of what Jake said Johnny did in El Paso. I assure you, there is no way I will be able to stop him. I’ve already seen his rage once and Jake couldn’t stop him.” Scott responded.
“ Is he that dangerous?” Murdoch asked.
“ Let me put it this way. With all the killing I seen during the war, that holds nothing against what Johnny is capable of doing. Especially when it involves someone he cares about being hurt.” Scott said.
Johnny stopped outside the barn. He could feel Teresa shaking as he held her hand. Walt came out of the barn and stopped. He knew what was happening. “ There’s nobody else in there Johnny.” he said before walking away.
“ You ready to do this/” Johnny asked as he squeezed her hand.
“ I can’t stop shaking.” Teresa said.
“ Just between me and you, I’m shaking too.” Johnny said softly.
“ You are? I thought you were tough?” Teresa asked.
“ I am, but sometimes even a tough guy has his fears.” Johnny said.
Teresa turned and looked at him. “ What’s your biggest fear?”
“ My biggest fear…….I’d have to say not being able to face my next fear.” Johnny responded. “ That and dying alone somewhere. Until I came back here and learned the truth…..I was always afraid I would die alone somewhere from a bullet, and nobody would care or miss me.”
“ I would care. I mean, I know I’ve treated you bad, and I’m so ashamed of that, but if I lost you, I would miss you so much.” Teresa said as tears began to fall.
“ Hey, come here.” Johnny said as he pulled her to him and gave her a hug. “ I’m new at this family thing, but you know what, I’m glad I have you, Scott and Murdoch now. I’m not alone anymore.” Johnny said as he hugged her.
“ And now you have Emma too.” Teresa added. “ She seems to like you an awful lot.”
“ Yeah she does doesn’t she. Course I like her too.” Johnny responded.
“ So is a wedding in the near future?” she asked.
“ Maybe. I’m going to take it slow with Emma. I made some serious mistakes with Marcy that I don’t want to repeat with her.”
“ Is Marcy’ baby yours Johnny?”
“ She says it’s Jake’ baby. I’ve never known her to lie and neither has Jake…………You ready?”
Teresa nodded and they both walked into the barn together. Letting go of Johnny’ hand, Teresa walked over to the stall she was raped in and stood there staring at the straw on the floor.
Johnny closed his eyes, trying to block the screams he heard when he realized they were coming from Teresa now. Walking over, he grabbed her and held her as tight as he could. “ Let it out. It’s okay, just let it out.”
Teresa panicked and started hitting Johnny in the chest thinking she was being attacked again. “ Let go of me. Please don’t do this…..Please stop.” she screamed.
Johnny stood there and let Teresa hit him as hard as she wanted. He knew she had to get the anger out. If she didn’t, he knew it could destroy her.
Scott and Murdoch heard the screams and went running to the barn, and stopped when they seen what was happening.
“ My god.” Murdoch said as he watched Johnny just stand there and let Teresa hit him.
Johnny wrapped his arms around Teresa and they both collapsed to the floor.
“ Why Johnny, why did they do it?” Teresa sobbed.
“ I don’t know sweetheart. I wish I did. I’m so sorry I couldn’t stop them.” Johnny said as Scott and Murdoch walked into the barn. “ I promise you, they will pay. I won’t rest until they do.”
Murdoch got a chill down his spine hearing his son say those words. “ Teresa.”
Teresa looked up and seen Murdoch and Scott both standing there. “ Oh Murdoch.” she said as she scrambled to her feet and went to him.
Murdoch wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. “ It’s okay.” he said softly.
Scott went over and helped Johnny up. “ You alright?”
“ I’m fine Scott. She needed to do that.” Johnny said as he walked over to Teresa. “ You okay now?” he asked her.
Teresa looked at him and nodded as she wiped away her tears. “ I………I think I will be. Thank you Johnny. I don;t think I could have done this without you. Are you okay?”
“ Me……..I’m fine. hungry, but fine.” Johnny responded.
“ Then I guess we better go feed you huh?” Teresa asked with a smile.
“ They say the way to a mans heart is through his stomach.” Johnny joked.
“ I think we might want to warn Emma then.” Scott said.
Johnny knew it was time. Having heard his father come up to bed an hour before. Getting out of bed, he slipped into his pants and shirt and threw on his coat. Having already packed what he would need earlier, he grabbed his saddlebags, rifle and boots and opened his bedroom door, looking to see if his father or Scot had any light showing under their door. Seeing none he headed downstairs, stopping at the bottom to put his boots and gun belt on. Grabbing his hat, he opened the door and went outside, heading to the barn to saddle the stallion.
“ Sorry amigo, but I made a promise I need to keep. We have to leave here for a while. Unfortunately we have to go back to Mexico buddy.” Johnny said as he tightened his cinch and slid his rifle in the scabbard. Leading the stallion out of the barn, Johnny walked the stallion a good way away from the place before mounting up and riding out, headed south. He knew Scott would find the note he left on his table when he came to get him in the morning. He just hoped they would understand why he had to do this for both himself and Teresa.
Johnny knew he would be running a cold camp until he came to a town where he could get supplies without anyone knowing him as Lancer or asking any questions. From now on until the task at hand was done, and his promised fulfilled he was Madrid. When he got close to the border he would start asking around about the Deegan brothers, knowing they would take the quickest and shortest route to Mexico, straight south. A one week trip on a stage from Yuma to Sacramento. Less for a man on horseback if he pushed his horse enough or was running from the law. The Deegan brothers already had a weeks head start on him and could go anywhere once they cross into Mexico, but Johnny knew their kind all to well. He knew they would stay close to the border and wait until they thought it was safe and come back across. One advantage he had over the Deegan brothers was that he knew all the border towns along the Arizona border. He knew Sonora well. Hell from Yuma to El Paso he ran that area hiring out to the highest bidder. Smiling Johnny kicked the stallion into an easy ground eating lope.
Scott woke up and stretched before getting up. Today he would be mending fence with his brother. Not his favorite thing to do, but it would give him a chance to talk to him. See if he could get him to open up about what happened. Heading to his brothers room to see if he was awake yet, Scott knocked on the door before opening it. Finding the room empty, he walked in and seen the letter on the table addressed to him. Opening it and reading what Johnny wrote angered him.
I’m sorry but it has to be this way. I made a promise to Teresa that I would track down the Deegan brothers and send them to hell for what they did to her. There’s no law that can punish them harsh enough for what they did, but Madrid can. I know you probably wanted to go with me brother, but I can’t worry about you and your safety, not where I’m going. Besides with your blonde hair, you wouldn’t fit in very well. Please take care of Teresa. She needs a strong hand and a shoulder to cry on once in a while. Nobody can help me with my demons, but you can help her with hers. Tell the old man thanks for being a father to me. I don’t know if I’ll come out of this alive, but I want you to know that even though we’ve had our moments, I’m proud to have known you and call you brother. Tell Jake I said to the old days and to take care of that baby when it gets here.
Your brother always
Johnny Madrid Lancer
Scott took the letter and headed downstairs, finding his father sitting at the table drinking a cup of coffee. Tossing the letter down in front of him, Scott took a deep breath before walking over and pouring a cup of coffee and coming back to the table.
Murdoch read the letter then placed it on the table. “ We knew he would be doing this son.” he said.
“ I had hoped he wouldn’t. You know he’s wanted by the Rurales down there. They catch him and they will kill him.” Scott said with anger.
“ Keep your voice down son. Teresa is still asleep. What do you want me to do/ You want to go after him? You read what he wrote. Scott, you wouldn’t survive down there son. Johnny’ a grown man. I can’t tell him not to go. He knows the risk involved.”
“ I don’t believe you. Are you going to just sit there and pretend nothing has ever happened?” Scott demanded.
“ Yes damn it. Johnny made a promise to Teresa, and if he thinks that going back into Mexico to keep that promise is the right thing to do, who an I to try and stop him.” Murdoch responded with anger.
“ You’re his father. It’s your responsibility to keep him safe. Look, I want the Deegan brothers to pay for what they did to Teresa too, but not at the cost of losing my brother.” Scott said with anger as he stood up.
“ Where are you going?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Into Spanish Wells. I want to talk to Jake. I want to know what Johnny meant by saying to the old days.” Scott responded as he snatched up the letter and headed to the front door.
“ Murdoch, was that Scott and Johnny that just left?” Teresa asked as she walked into the kitchen.
“ It was Scott. Johnny left some time in the night.” Murdoch responded. “ He went after the Deegan brothers. He went to Mexico.”
“ Mexico, Johnny can’t go back to Mexico. The Rurales, they’ll kill him if they catch him. Murdoch, Scott has to go after him and stop him. I don’t want him getting killed because of me. Please.” Teresa pleaded.
“ There’s nothing we can do. Johnny is a man of his word. He promised you he would get them, and he won’t come back until he does.”
Scott rode into Spanish Wells and dismounted in front of the Sheriffs office just as Jake walked out. “ I need to speak to you.” Scott said as he tied his horse to the rail.
“ Okay. I was about to go get some lunch, care to join me?” Jake asked.
Scott followed him to the cafe and sat down at a corner table. After they ordered their food, he took out the letter and handed it to him.
“ I take it Johnny left sometime last night is why you’re here?” Jake asked as he picked up the letter and read it.
“ Damn kid. Jesus.” Jake said as he put the letter down.
“ What does that mean, to the old days?” Scott asked.
“ It means I need to go after him and hope I can catch up to him before he gets killed.” Jake said.
“ I’m not understanding you.” Scott demanded. “ Where is Johnny going?”
“ He told me where he’s going Scott by saying that.” Jake said.
“ Yuma. He’ll cross the border there.” Jake responded. “ Listen, you go on back to Lancer. I’ll get packed and head out.”
“ What about your job here as Sheriff?” Scott asked.
“ This badge will mean nothing down there. Johnny’ going to need me. Those Rurales will learn he’s back the minute he crosses that border. There’s a bordello down there we went to a few times in Yuma. The woman who runs it, she took a fancy to Johnny. Chances are he’ll stop there and see if the Deegan brothers have been around.” Jake said as he stood up.
Scott followed Jake outside. “ Listen, I’m gonna go with you. I’ll send word to Murdoch.”
“ No you’re not. Like Johnny said, Mexico is a dangerous place. You go down there and the Rurales learn you’re his brother, they’ll use you to get to him. I know this is hard for you Scott, but trust me. I’ll find him and bring him back alive. I’ll go send a wire to the Sheriff down there to keep an eye out for him. He’s a friend of ours. Used to ride with us.” Jake responded.
“ Can he arrest Johnny, Hold him in jail until you get there?” Scott asked.
“ I’ll ask him to hold him, but it’s no guarantee. Johnny may not even go into town. That bordello sits on the river. Plenty of ways to get to it without being seen if you know how, and Johnny knows how.”
“ Alright. I’ll ride back to Lancer. You send word when you caught up to him. Let us know he’s alright and headed back.? Scott asked.
“ Sure will. I’ll send a wire when I reach Yuma.” Jake said before heading to the telegraph office.
Scott walked over and got his horse and noticed a lose shoe. Walking down to the livery he seen a man harassing a woman.
“ I believe the young lady said to leave her alone.” Scott said as he walked over and dropped his rein.
“ This is none of your affair mister.” the man responded. “ I just want to get to know the little lady better is all.” the man said as he grabbed the woman and yanked her toward him.
Scott stepped up on the boardwalk and grabbed the man. “ I said…….the lady isn’t interested.” Scott said before hitting the man, knocking him back into the alley.
“ I don’t know who you think you are mister, but you just made a big mistake.” the man said as he got up and lunged at Scott.
Scott easily moved out of the mans way, shoving him to the ground.
“ What’s the problem here?” Jake asked as he walked up.
“ This man was bothering the young lady.” Scott responded.
“ Jess, I’ve told you before to not come into town without your father. You’re drunk. Now go get your horse and leave before I throw you in jail for being drunk and disorderly.” Jake ordered.
Jess brushed the dirt off his pants, grabbed his hat and stormed off.
“ That boy is nothing but trouble. Are you alright Hope?” Jake asked.
“ Thanks to this gentleman I am Sheriff.” Hope said as she stepped closer. “ Thank you…Mister……?”
“ Lancer, Scott Lancer ma’am.” Scott responded.
“ Hope Dynasty. I’m glad you came along when you did Mister Lancer.”
“ Scott will do ma’am. Can I escort you to wherever you were headed?” Scott asked.
“ Why thank you, but I don’t think that will be necessary. I’ve burdened you enough.” Hope responded.
“ It’s no burden at all ma’am.” Scott said as he tied his horse to the rail. “ I was just going to the livery to get a lose shoe took care of.”
“ Scott, I’ll keep you informed.” Jake said as he headed to the livery. You want, I can take your horse down there and get that lose shoe took care of for ya.”
“ Thanks Jake.” Scott said as he escorted the lady down the boardwalk.
“ I don’t believe I’ve seen you around Spanish wells.” Scott said as they walked along.
“ I just came here last month.” Hope responded. “ Lancer. It seems to me I’ve heard that name before.”
“ Yes ma’am. Lancer is a cattle ranch outside Morro Coyo. My father started it almost thirty years ago.” Scott responded.
“ That’s it. Your ranch is the biggest one in the San Joaquin valley. Marcy was telling me about it. She said Mister Lancer had two good looking sons, but she didn’t say one of them would be so handsome.”
“ Why thank you ma’am.” Scott replied.
“ Call me Hope please. Ma’am makes me feel old.”
“ Can I ask what brought you to Spanish Wells ma……….Hope?”
“ I’m the new school teacher.” Hope said. “ That’s where I was heading when that…………when you rescued me.” Hope responded. “ I read where there was a shortage of teachers out west, so I decided to come out here and try to make a difference.”
“ Well I must say, you are quit an improvement over the last teacher we had.” Scott said as they reached the schoolhouse. “ So where are you from?”
“ Chicago. I attended the university of Chicago to become a teacher. I’m originally from a small farm town in Iowa. My parents wanted me to make something of my life and I chose teaching.” Hope responded.
“ Seems a long ways to come to be a teacher.” Scott said.
“ Yes, but if I can make a difference in just one child’s life, it will be worth it.” Hope responded. “ Perhaps I will see you again?” Hope asked.
“ Perhaps you just might.” Scott responded. “ Have a good day.”
“ And you.” Hope said with a smile before turning and going inside the schoolhouse.
Johnny rode into Barstow and stopped at the livery. The stallion needed grain, and he needed supplies. A scrawny rabbit two nights ago sustained his hunger some, but now he was hungry enough to eat a whole cow. “ Guess we got spoiled having a meal readily available every day huh buddy.” Johnny said as he patted the stallions neck.
“ Can I help you?” A young man about fourteen asked as he came down from the hay loft.
“ How much for a night?” Johnny asked.
“ Two bits will get him hay, grain and groomed.” the boy answered.
“ Here’s four bits. Give him a double. He earned it.” Johnny said as he paid the boy. “ Any place in town serve a good steak where I can also get a good nights sleep?”
“ Shiners hotel serves the best steak in town My ma’s the cook there.” the boy said as he reached out to pet the stallion. “ He’s a fine looking animal mister. Mustang ain’t he?”
“ Yeah, Modoc mustang. I’d be careful though, he likes to bite sometimes.” Johnny warned.
“ Ah, I bet he don’t have a mean bone in his body. Do ya boy.”
Johnny watched as the stallion lowered his head and pressed it into the boys chest. “ You have a way with horses. He’s kinda picky on who he allows to touch him.”
“ I’ll take good care of him mister.”
“ Johnny. He don’t need nothin special, just a good brushing, and maybe a rub down with a burlap sack if ya got one.” Johnny said as he led the stallion into a stall and started unsaddling him.
“ You’re him ain’t ya?” the boy asked.
“ Who?” Johnny asked as he pulled his saddle off and set it on the rail.
“ Johnny Madrid. I’ve read all about you. Though I don’t believe most of what they say about ya. I knows ya ain’t a cold blooded killer. Heck they call you a patron saint below the border. My paw told me so.”
“ Your pa huh? He know Madrid does he?” Johnny asked as he removed his rifle from the scabbard and came out of the stall.
“ Said he seen ya once down in Laredo. Said someone called ya out and he ain’t ever seen someone so fast. He also said you did everything ya could to talk ’em out of it.” the boy responded.
“ You got a name?” Johnny asked.
“ Well Tim, you seem pretty observant of your customers. You have two fellas, brothers call themselves Carl and Billy Deegan come through here in the last week or so?”
“ Yeah. They came through. Don’t much care for the way they treat their horses. If ya ask me, those two be running from the law.” Timmy said.
“ Oh yeah. What makes you think they’re running from the law?”
“ Because I heard the one keep sayin’ ain’t nobody following us.”
“ How long ago did they ride out?” Johnny asked.
“ Two days ago. Stayed drunk pretty much the whole time they was here.”
Johnny walked up to the boy and pulled out a ten dollar bill. “ Listen, I’d appreciate it if you didn’t say anything about who I am.”
“ You don’t have to pay me for that. It’s an honor to meet you. I just wish my pa were still alive to meet ya.”
“ Your pa’s dead huh.”
“ Yeah. Two years now. It’s just me and my little sister and ma now. I’m the man of the house now. I work wherever I can to help ma out.”
“ Well, I’ll tell ya what. You take this ten and I’ll give ya another ten for the information you gave me.” Johnny said as he handed Tim the money.
“ Twenty dollars. Ma is gonna be so happy. Thank you Mister Madrid. Can I tell her who I got the money from?”
“ After I leave in the morning.” Johnny said as he started toward the door.
Two days after leaving Barstow well rested with enough supplies to last him a few days, longer if he ate lite, Johnny watched as lightening flashed in the distance. With the Deegan brothers having spent a couple days in Barstow, that gave him a jump on being that much closer to them. “ Looks like we’re gonna get wet amigo.” Johnny said as he stopped the stallion and got down so he could put his rain slicker on, and got back in the saddle.
Late afternoon, Johnny could barely see as he headed to an old abandoned mining town where he knew there would be shelter for both him and his horse. Finally reaching the abandoned mining town, Johnny rode into the livery and dismounted. “ At least it’s dry in here amigo,” Johnny said as he got down. We’ll catch up to those two in the next couple of days and send them to hell.” he said as he striped his saddle from the soaked horse. “ I’ll get you some grain buddy.” Johnny said as he led the stallion into a stall.
An hour later Johnny sat next to a fire warming up, drinking a cup of coffee as bacon sizzled in the skillet and beans cooked in a small pot. He wished he’d thought to buy a bottle of tequila or whiskey before leaving Barstow.
“ Good morning son.” Murdoch said as Scott walked into the kitchen.
“ Is it?” Scott asked sarcastically. “ I’m sorry sir. That was uncalled for.”
“ It’s alright son. I know you’re worried about your brother. I am also.” Murdoch responded.
“ Jake said he would most likely cross at Yuma. Said there’s a………..someone he can trust to find out if the Deegan brothers are around.” Scott said as he poured a cup of coffee.
“ It’s been two weeks. I expect he’s in Yuma by now. Maybe he found them before he got to Yuma.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Doesn’t it bother you that Johnny rode after those men, knowing full well he intends to kill them?” Scott asked as he sat down.
“ Yes it does son. I never wanted to believe your brother would do something against the law.”
“ But the law can’t touch them if they are in Mexico.”
“ No they can’t. But your brother could bring them back to stand trial and go to prison for what they did to Teresa.” Murdoch responded.
“ When he comes back, how will you be?” Scott asked.
“ What do you mean?”
“ I mean, how are you going to treat him knowing what he did.”
“ I don’t know son. I don’t know. I wish none of this had happened, but it did. All we can do is pray that he comes back to us alive.” Murdoch responded.
“ Jake went after him. If he………..he’ll bring him home.” Scott said as Teresa walked into the kitchen.
“ You alright?” Murdoch asked.
Teresa sat down. “ When will it stop?” she asked with a shaky voice. “ The nightmares I mean.”
“ I don’t know. Was it real bad again?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, but……….I can’t stop seeing their faces. I can still feel them pawing me as they………..I just want it to go away.”
“ Maybe Father Micheal should come out and talk to you?” Scott suggested.
“ Does he know what happened?” Teresa asked.
“ No. I don’t believe he does. I haven’t seen him in a while, and I wouldn’t tell anyone unless you wanted me too.” Murdoch responded.
“ My professor told me once, that sometimes it helps to talk to a stranger about something than it does an family member.” Scott said.
“ Maybe that’s what I need to do then. Has there been any word from Johnny?” Teresa said and asked.
“ No nothing.” Murdoch responded.
“ I know this is my fault. I made him promise me he would find them and make them pay for what they did. I didn’t know he would be going back into Mexico. What Johnny said that day was right. I have split this family in half and now he may be killed because of me.”
“ Teresa, Johnny would have gone after them even if he hadn’t promised you.” Scott responded. “ I’m going to Spanish Wells today to see if a book I ordered came in. I can stop by and ask Father Micheal if he can stop by to talk with you.” Scott suggested.
“ You sure it’s for a book, and not that new school teacher I heard one of the hands talking about?” Teresa asked.
Scott smiled. “ Maybe. I just might go by there and ask her to Sunday supper. That is if that’s alright with you sir?”
“ That will be fine son. Check with Cipriano before you leave. See if he needs anything ordered.” Murdoch requested.
Jake rode out of Barstow at an easy lope. The boy at the livery told him Johnny had stopped there a week before tracking two men that had been there just a couple days before him. Marcy met him at the livery and agreed to finally marry him when he came back. Something he vowed to do once he found Johnny. She wasn’t happy he was leaving with the baby coming in just over a month, but still Marcy understood the loyalty Jake had for Johnny. Their friendship, though trying at times, but still strong.
“ I hope you realize what I’m missing coming after your damn ass Johnny.” Jake said aloud. “ Boy, sometimes you just don’t think.”
Johnny could see the lights of Yuma in the distance from the hill he was on. Purposefully waiting until dark he rode around town to the place he wanted to go too where he knew he could get warm and something hot to eat. Stopping the stallion he dismounted and listened to the sounds coming from inside. Being after two in the morning, Johnny knew most of the customers would be gone and the girls all but one asleep. It was that one girl, or rather woman he wanted to see. Quietly walking up on the back porch, he opened the door, stepped inside and closed it. Walking down the hallway he could see the faint glow of a lantern under her door. Opening it slightly, he looked inside and found her alone, sitting at her desk. Stepping inside, he closed the door quietly and removed his hat.
“ Up kinda late ain’t ya?” he asked softly.
“ Well as I live and breath. Johnny Madrid, you’re not dead.” the woman said as she got up and came over. “ If you ain’t a sight for sore eyes.”
“ Hello Dallas.” Johnny said as he hugged her. “ Been a long time.”
“ I’ll say. So where’s Jake?” Dallas asked.
“ Just me this time Dallas.” Johnny said as he walked over and sat down. “ You got any of that good Tennessee sour mash whiskey?”
“ Honey, I got anything your little heart desires.” Dallas responded as she went and poured a glass and handed it to him. “ So what brings you to Yuma?” she asked.
Johnny took a sip of the whiskey, relishing the warm feel as it went down his throat. “ I’m tracking two men Dallas. They raped someone close to me.” Johnny said.
Dallas walked over and put her right hand on Johnny’ left cheek. “ Looks like they got rough with you. That’s fresh.” Dallas said. “ Who are these two men you’re tracking?”
“ Brothers, Carl and Billy Deegan.” Johnny responded.
“ What makes you think they would come here?”
“ Because I heard them before they left. They thought I was still unconscious.”
“ Why don’t you let the law handle it?”
“ Because I made a promise to Teresa that I would find them and send them to hell for what they did to her.” Johnny responded.
“ I can find out in the morning if they’ve been around. They may have crossed into Mexico already.”
“ I appreciate it Dallas.” Johnny said as he stood up.
Dallas walked over to him. “ You have a place to sleep tonight?”
“ No. Figured I would throw my bedroll out back in the brush. I don’t want people knowing I’m around.”
“ Honey, if you think I’m going to let you sleep on a cold hard ground, when I got this big ole comfortable bed right here, you thought wrong.” Dallas said as she stepped up and started undoing his belt. “ You need sleep.”
“ That’s what I like about you Dallas. You’re always straight to the point.” Johnny responded.
Dallas opened the door to her room late the next morning and took a tray of food from one of the girls. “ See that I’m not bothered by anyone for a couple hours.” she ordered.
“ Yes ma’am. The girl said as she turned to leave.
Dallas carried the tray over and set it down on the table and poured a cup of coffee and walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed and offered Johnny the cup.
“ Thanks. What time is it?” Johnny asked.
“ Going on eleven. You were pretty tired last night after.
“ You have any luck finding anything out?” Johnny asked.
“ They were here. They left yesterday morning headed into Mexico to a small village about two miles across the border. You know the place?” Dallas asked.
“ Yeah. I know it.” Johnny responded.
“ There’s Rurales there.” Dallas added. “ You go in there, and they’ll catch you.”
“ That’s a chance I have to take Dallas. Those two have to pay for what they did.” Johnny said as he got up. “Anyone know I’m here?”
“ No. None of the girls know. You come back here when you’re done okay. I want to know you’re still alive…Oh, who’s Emma?” Dallas asked.
“ A girl I have back home.” Johnny responded.
“ She must be some girl for you to turn me down last night.” Dallas said.
“ Yeah, she is.”
“ You keep saying back home. You mean you found your father and got things straightened out with him?”
“ Yeah. Got me a brother too I didn’t know about.” Johnny responded as he put his boots on. “ My mother lied to me about him. She left him in the middle of the night. He didn’t throw us out. She left him with that gambler I told you about.”
“ The one who killed her and beat you almost dead……..I’m happy for ya Johnny….. So you give it up?”
“ Trying too. It’s not easy, but I got me a family who cares enough and are willing to put up with me.” Johnny responded as he sat down to eat breakfast with her.
“ Any chance of Jake coming this way too?” she asked.
Johnny smiled. “ He just might if my brother gave him the message I left for him.” Johnny responded. “ You like Jake still?”
“ Hell Johnny, you know I can’t commit to one man, but if I did, I’d want it to be someone like you or Jake.” Dallas said with a laugh. “ So when you leaving?”
“ The sooner I get this over with, the sooner I can come back.” Johnny responded.
Dallas stood up. “ When you come back, maybe we could one last time, for old times sake.”
“ It’s tempting, but…….”
“ But you’re in love with this Emma girl. I can respect that. Just make sure you come back.” Dallas said as she walked Johnny to the door.
“ You’re a hell of a woman Dallas.” Johnny said before kissing her and walking out the door.
Jake rode into Yuma and headed straight to Dallas’ place. He knew if Johnny had been there, he would stop at her place. Dismounting, he tied off his horse and walked up the steps and opened the door. Two girls were sitting on the couch reading, another sat in a chair, seen him and stood up.
“ What’ll it be handsome?”
“ Is Dallas still here?” Jake asked.
“ Yeah. She’s in her office in the back. I’ll get her.”
“ No, I’ll go to her.” Jake said as he started down the hall.
“ Second door on the left.” the girl said.
Jake opened the door and stepped into the room. “ Dallas.”
Dallas stood up and turned around. “ Jake. He’s not here.”
“ Where is he?” Jake asked.
“ Just across the border about two miles in a small village.” Dallas responded.
“ How long ago did he leave?” Jake asked.
“ Mid afternoon. Said he would come back here when he was done.” Dallas responded.
“ Thanks. I’ll be back. You look good Dallas.” Jake said as he turned to leave.
“ You too. Be careful. I told him Rurales were in the village.”
“ How long we gonna stay in this village?” Billy asked.
“ Would you just relax. Ain’t nobody gonna come looking for us down here. Drink some tequila and have yourself a girl.” Carl said.
“ I don’t want no tequila and I don’t want no girl. I want to get out of here.” Billy snapped back as he stood up and kicked a chair.
“ Damn it Billy. I’m sick of hearin’ ya whine like a baby. Why don’t you go on outside and get some air while I have me a time with this little senorita.” Carl ordered.
“ Fine.” Billy said before grabbing a bottle and heading outside.
Johnny knew the village had only one cantina at the west end. He also knew the Rurales had a place at the other end of the village. Moving in the shadows, Johnny watched as a lone figure walked out of the cantina and crossed the street. He couldn’t believe his luck when he seen it was Billy Deegan, alone. Looking, Johnny made sure there were no Rurales around this end of the village. Removing the knife from the inside of his right boot, Johnny went behind the buildings over to where Billy stood drinking from the bottle. Slowly walking up behind him, he grabbed Billy’ arm and spun him around, sinking his knife deep in the man’s gut and jerking upward as hard as he could.
Billy felt the knife enter him as he tried to scream, grabbing Johnny’ arm. “ You.” he said as he started to fall to the ground.
“ This is for Teresa.” Johnny said as he pulled the knife out and with one quick move, sliced Billy’ throat open.
Letting Billy drop to the ground, Johnny wiped his knife off and slipped it back in his boot before going back around to the cantina and quietly entered the back door, and slowly walked to the front and stopped to see how many people were in the cantina.
“El Capitán, él está aquí.” ( El Capitan, he is here.)
“ ¿ Quién está aquí” ( Who is here?)
“ Madrid, en la cantina.”
“ ¿ Por qué no le disparaste?” ( Why didn’t you shoot him?)
“ No puedo tomar Madrid solo.” ( I cannot take Madrid alone.)
“ Tonto. Si él se escapa, te mataré yo mismo. Movimmiento.” ( You fool. If he escapes, I will kill you myself. Move.)
Johnny knew the only way he was going to take Carl Deegan, was to shoot him. Something he knew would bring the Rurales. Stepping out into the cantina Johnny pulled his gun and walked over close to Carl and cocked the pistol.
“ I bet the furthest thing from your mind right now is me showing up.” Johnny said.
Carl shoved the girl away. “ You got no call to pull a gun on me. I ain’t done nothing wrong down here Lancer.” Carl said as he stood up and backed away a few steps.
“ It’s not Lancer…….It’s Madrid, Johnny Madrid, and you and your brother raped my sister.” Johnny said coldly. “ Now I’m going to send you to hell with your brother.” Johnny said before pulling the trigger, shooting Carl between the eyes right before a bullet singed past his head. Ducking, Johnny ran to the back door and out.
“ Stop Madrid, you cannot get away from me. I have you surrounded.” the Rurale Captain yelled. “ Fuego.” ( Fire )
Johnny dove for cover behind a barrel of water. He could see the stallion in the moonlight about two hundred feet away. Seeing a Rurale on his left, Johnny fired, dropping the man dead. Glancing around the corner, Johnny fired and took off running for his horse, dropping a few feet away as a bullet slammed into his right thigh. Getting up, he moved as fast as he could and got on the horse, turning the stallion, he spurred the animal into a run as another bullet slammed into his lower back.
“ Consigue los caballos. Quiero a ese mestizo muerto. No dejas que llegue a la frontera.”” the captain ordered. ( Get the horses. I want that mestizo dead. Do not let him reach the border.)
Jake stopped his horse when he heard the shots. Hearing a horse coming toward him, he moved off the trail and waited. Seeing it was Johnny slumped over the stallion’s neck, he rode out and stopped the stallion. “ Easy boy. Jesus Johnny.” Jake said as he grabbed the reins.
Jake could see the blood on Johnny’ right leg. “ Lets get you the hell out of here amigo.”
“ How’d you find me?” Johnny asked as he held on to the saddle.
“ Dallas.” Jake said as he got on the stallion behind Johnny.
“ Mister Lancer., to what do I owe the honor of your visit? Surely you don’t need more schooling?” Hope said.
“ No ma’am. I had to come to town and I thought I would stop and see if you would let me take you to supper at our ranch Sunday?”
“ I would love to. What time shall I expect you?
“ I’ll pick you up around eleven, if that’s not to early?” Scott asked.
“ Eleven it is then,” Hope said before ringing the bell for her students to come back in to class.
Jake stopped the stallion outside the back door of Dallas’ bordello and got down, reaching up, he pulled Johnny from the saddle. “ Just a little further amigo.” Jake said as he helped Johnny to the back door and opened it. “ Dallas.” he called.
Dallas came out of her office. “ Oh my god. How bad is it?” she asked as she hurried to them.
“ His right leg.” Jake responded.
“ Take him to my room. Lori……….Lori.” Dallas called.
“ Yes ma’am.”
“ Lori, go fetch Jeff. Tell him one of the girls is bad sick. Don’t tell him anything else. Understand?” Dallas ordered.
“ Yes ma’am.” Lori responded before hurrying off.
“ Is that Doctor Jeff Wilson?” Jake asked.
“ Yes. The same one.” Dallas responded. Damn fool. I knew he shouldn’t have crossed that border. Let’s get those clothes off him so we can clean those wounds out.” she instructed.
“ My back.” Johnny said softly.
“ You’ll be alright buddy. Docs coming.” Jake responded.
“ Bullet………..back.” Johnny said before falling back on the bed and passing out.
Jake rolled Johnny over. “ My god, I didn’t know he was shot in the back.” he said as he seen the red stain on Johnny’s lower right side.
“ You get his clothes off. I’ll go get some bandages and hot water to clean those wounds.” Dallas said before leaving the room.
“ Boy, don’t you go dying on me. I don’t wanna have to take you home to your family draped over a horse.” Jake said as he removed Johnny’ pants.
Doc Wilson came out of the room four hours later and sat down at the table in the kitchen. “ He’s alive. I was able to remove the bullet in his leg. Luckily it didn’t hit a bone. I repaired the damage it did to the muscle.”
“ What about the bullet in his back Doc?” Jake asked.
“ I couldn’t remove it.” Jeff responded.
“ Couldn’t remove it……..Why?” Dallas asked.
“ I’m not good enough. It’s lodged too close to his spine. If I try and remove it, I could end up paralyzing him……He needs a younger, better doctor than me.” Jeff explained.
“ Will he be able to walk with that bullet in him Doc?” Jake asked.
“ Once the wound heals up, he can do just about anything until the bullet moves, if it moves. If it does, it will cause him sudden sharp pains and a slight paralysis of his right side and arm, until one hits him so bad, it paralyzes him for good.” Doc said. “ Now, would one of you care to tell me who shot him?”
“ Rurales shot him.” Jake responded. “ He was escaping them when I found him.”
“ He knows he’s wanted by them. Why in the world would he ride across that border?” Jeff asked.
“ He had some personal business to take care of Doc.” Dallas said.
“ This personal business have anything to do with that rope burn around his neck Jake?” Jeff asked.
“ Yeah it did. It’s a long story, but the short of it is, Johnny made a promise and he kept that promise tonight.”
“ You know, it may not be safe for him to stay here. The Rurales have been known to come across the border sometimes, and if they know Johnny Madrid is wounded, they just might come across and do a search. They could come here since this is the closest place.” Jeff stated.
“ Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that. How soon can he be moved?” Jake asked.
“ Not for a couple days at least. He needs to build his strength back up from the amount of blood he lost.” Jeff responded.
“ Guess I’ll go talk to the Sheriff. Let him know what’s happened.” Jake said.
“ Can you trust him?” Dallas asked.
“ Yeah. He rode with us once. I can trust him.” Jake responded. “ I’ll send a wire so his family knows I found him.”
“ What are you going to tell them?” Dallas asked.
“ The truth. That Johnny’ shot and we won’t be coming home for a spell.” Jake said.
“ I’ll walk with you. My office is on the way. Dallas, you send for me if he needs anything. Watch him for a fever or the first signs of an infection. Try to keep him from moving around too much if you can. Get some fluids in him every chance you can. It will help replenish the blood he lost.” I’ll stop back in the morning and change those bandages.”
“ Rider coming.” Scott said as he came out of the house with Murdoch. “ Looks like Ben.”
“ Yeah. Hopefully he has word from Jake about your brother.” Murdoch responded.
“ Murdoch, Scott, I figured I better get this out to you as soon as possible,” Ben said as he took the wire out and handed it to Scott.
“ Thanks.” Scott said as he took the wire and opened it.
Found J, Shot bad. Will live. In Yuma at Dallas’
“ I’m going to Yuma.” Scott said as he handed the wire to Murdoch.
“ Scott, there’s nothing you can do for him. Jake said he would live.” Murdoch said.
“ I’m going sir. I can take the stage in the morning to Barstow and ride to Yuma from there. It will be faster than on horseback,” Scott said firmly before turning and going inside.
“ Thank you Ben, for bringing this out,” Murdoch said before turning and following Scott into the house.
“ Alright son. You go and help Jake bring your brother home were he belongs.”
“ Did you get word about Johnny?” Teresa asked as she walked into the room.
“ Yes. He’s in Yuma. He’s been shot bad. Jake said he’ll live though. Scott is leaving in the morning to go to Yuma.” Murdoch responded.
“ Scott, what about your lady friend Hope. She’s expecting you Sunday.” Teresa said.
“ I’ll write her a note explaining.”
“ You don’t have to write her a note son. I’ll ride to Spanish Wells and tell her.” Murdoch said.
“ Thank you sir. I better go pack. I’ll wire when I reach Yuma.” Scott said as he headed to the stairs.
Johnny drifted in and out of consciousness for four days. Dallas and Jake got as much water in him as they could and kept his body cool. Luckily the Rurales hadn’t come around. Something Jake was very glad of. On the fifth day, Johnny opened his eyes and looked around. Blurry, he could make out someone standing at the window looking outside.
“ Hey.” he said softly.
Jake turned around at the sound. “ Welcome back.” he said as he walked over and poured a glass of water. “ Here, drink this.”
Johnny started drinking the water, welcoming the coolness on his dry throat. “ I thought I was dreaming when I seen you.” he said softly as he lay his head back down.
“ You’d be dead you damn fool if I hadn’t come along when I did.” Jake said as he set the glass down on the table. “ What the hell is the matter with you Johnny?” Jake demanded. “ Did you want to get yourself killed?”
“ I kept a promise.” Johnny said as he tried to sit up more. “ You know I keep my word.”
“ Yeah, I know. I also know you had no right going across that border alone. Damn it kid.”
“ I’m not a kid Jake. I grew up hard and fast a long time ago. So just……..help me sit up. I hate being flat on my back unless a woman is on top of me.” Johnny said, trying to ease the mood in the room.
Jake helped Johnny to sit up just a little as he propped pillows behind his back.
“ Thanks. So how bad is it?” Johnny asked.
“ It ain’t good kid. Jeff removed the bullet from your leg.” Jake responded.
“ What about the one I took in the back?” Johnny asked.
“ It’s still in there. He said that you need to find a younger doctor to remove it. Said if he tried, he would end up paralyzing you.”
“ Where is it?”
“ Too close to your spine for him to try and remove. Said it may not ever move, or it could and………..”
“ And I wouldn’t have to worry about being called out anymore is that it?”
“ Yeah. He said it could cause sudden sharp pains and numbness in your right arm and hand and each time it happens, it will get worse until it just don’t wear off.”
“ How long I been here?”
“ Five days now. I sent a wire letting your family know in short what happened and that we would come back when you could ride.” Jake said. “ I’ll let Dallas know you’re awake and see about getting you something to eat.”
“ Jake…………..Thanks for coming after me.” Johnny said as Jake opened the door to leave.
“ Did you find them?” Jake asked.
“ Yeah. They’re in hell now.” Johnny said. “ You think you could bring something stronger than water to drink.” Johnny asked.
“ Stay put. I’ll bring you back some coffee.” Jake said as he walked out and closed the door.
“ Cheated death again Madrid.” Johnny said as he closed his eyes.
Scott came out of the Sheriff’s office and mounted his horse, heading to the big house on the outskirts of town next to the river. Riding up to the place just as the sun was setting, he dismounted and tied his horse off.
“ Scott, what are you doing here?” Jake asked as he walked up.
“ I came to see about my brother,” Scott responded. “ How is he?”
“ Come on in, I’ll take you too him,” Jake said as he went up the steps and opened the door.
Scott followed Jake to a door down the hall from the living room where a few girls sat around in their undergarments.
“ Whose this?” Dallas asked as she came out of her office.
“ Dallas, this is Scott Lancer. He’s Johnny’s brother.” Jake responded.
“ Brother? Honey, you two look nothing alike,” Dallas said.
“ We had different mothers.” Scott responded.
“ Is he awake?” Jake asked.
“ Yeah he’s awake. Getting restless too. He wants out of that bed. You go on in, I’ll see about supper,” Dallas said before walking away.
“ So that’s the lady you were talking about?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah, she saved me and Johnny’s lives a few times,” Jake said as he opened the door to Johnny’s room. “ You up to a visitor?” he asked Johnny as he walked in.
“ Only if it’s the Doc to tell me I can get out of this damn bed,” Johnny responded back as Scott walked into the room. “ What the hell are you doing here?” Johnny demanded.
“ Hello to you too brother.” Scott said as he walked over and sat down in the chair next to the bed.
“ Damn it Scott. I told you not to come down here. Yuma ain’t no place for you to be.”
“ Johnny, I came here because I was worried about you. It’s a little late to be angry at me now.” Scott responded.
“ Go home Scott.” Johnny snapped back.
“ Sorry brother, but you’re stuck with me until we all can go home together.” Scott said. “ Your wire said he was shot bad. Just how bad is it?” Scott asked.
“ He took a bullet in his right thigh, and still has a bullet in his back. The doctor here doesn’t think he’s good enough to remove it,” Jake responded. “ It’s about an inch from his spine.” Jake added. Then told Scott everything the doctor told them could happen if the bullet decides to move.
Scott stood up and walked over to the window, moving the curtain just enough to see out at the moons reflection dancing on the water.
“ Get it said brother,” Johnny said.
Scott turned back around. “ Jake, could you leave us alone for a bit?”
“ Sure…..Oh Scott, uh Marcy, had she had the baby yet when you left?” Jake asked.
“ No, not yet,” Scott responded.
“ Thanks. I’ll let Dallas know you two don’t want to be disturbed,” Jake said as he opened the door and stepped out, closing it behind him.
“ Tell me something Johnny……..have you always been inconsiderate, selfish and a pompous jackass?” Scott demanded.
“ What the hell you talking about? I left you a letter explaining why you couldn’t come with me Scott. This was personal. As for the pompous jackass, that depends on who you talk to,” Johnny snapped back.
“ Oh that’s right. That was so considerate of you leaving me a letter and then sneaking out in the middle of the night,” Scott said with sarcasm. “ What about being selfish?” Scott asked.
“ Selfish……….hell Scott, I’ve never been selfish in my life. Most of the damn jobs I took, I did for a plate of beans in my belly. I came down here because I made a promise to Teresa that I would get those bastards that raped her and left me hanging. So don’t stand there and say I’m selfish Scott, because I’m not,” Johnny said with anger.
“ When I said those things, I meant about you Johnny. You never think about you. It’s always for someone else that you do for.” Scott said. “ When are you going to start thinking about you? For once do something that’s for you and not somebody else brother.”
Johnny started fiddling with a yarn string on the quilt, unable to look at his brother.
“ You know what your problem is, you have to big a heart. You care too much about others and not enough about yourself. It’s not just you anymore Johnny…………You have a family that cares about you. I care about you. I had every right to come down here with you and avenge what the Deegan brothers did to Teresa and you.”
“ I took care of it Scott. I sent them straight to hell.” Johnny said softly.
“ You murdered them didn’t you?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah Scott I did. I gutted Billy and because of the Rurales I shot Carl in the head. At least I made one of them suffer.”
“ You sound almost proud of what you did.”
“ Maybe I am……..Go home Scott. You don’t need to hang around here. I won’t be able to ride for a few weeks yet. Go back to Lancer. Tell Teresa I kept my promise to her.” Johnny said.
“ I am not leaving, so you can tell Teresa yourself when we get home.” Scott responded.
Johnny sat in the kitchen drinking coffee when Lori came into the room.
“ You’re sitting in here all alone,” Lori said. “ Where’s your brother and Jake?” she asked.
“ In town,” Johnny said as he stood up and hobbled over to the stove to pour another cup of coffee. “ Scott went with Dallas to help her with supplies or something, and I don’t know where Jake’s at.”
“ Dallas said you got a girl back home, named Emma, I think she said.” Lori responded.
“ Yeah,” Johnny said as he poured his coffee. “ You want a cup?”
“ No thank you,” Lori said as she stepped closer to Johnny. “ Jeff said you’re healing up good enough that you’ll be able to leave soon.”
“ I reckon so. Kinda quiet around here.” Johnny responded
“ Saturday night’s our busiest night. Rest of the week we get a few stragglers in. Usually husbands cheating on their wives,” Lori said.
“ So…..just how serious is it between you and this girl Emma?”
“ I’m not committed to her yet.” Johnny responded.
“ Want to come to my room? We could just talk about old times or………….”
“ If I remember correctly, you’re real good at talking…….with your lips,” Johnny put his right hand up under her chin and tilted her head up a little. “ Which room is yours?”
“ Down the hall, last room on the right. I was hoping I would get one last time with you before you leave.” Lori said.
“ I’ll do what I can.” Johnny said before pulling her to him and claiming her mouth.
“ Johnny, lets go to my room before someone sees us.” Lori suggested as she took his hand and led him down the hall.
“ I appreciate you two helping me with the supplies.” Dallas said as Scott drove the wagon around back to unload.
“ It’s the least I could do after all you’ve done for my brother,” Scott said as he climbed down.
“ How come you ain’t been with any of my girls?” Dallas asked as she let Scott help her down from the wagon.
“ I guess I haven’t really thought about it ma’am.” Scott responded.
“ I’ll let you be with the girl of your choosing for free if you want.” Dallas suggested.
Scott couldn’t stop from smiling. “ Well, I do appreciate the offer, but…..”
“ But you have a girl back home also,” Dallas said as she opened the back door. “ I get Johnny Madrid in my establishment and can’t even tempt him. Then along comes Jake and then you, three men in my place, and none of my girls are making any money.”
“ I get the impression you like Jake some,” Scott suggested.
“ Honey, the first time I took Jake into my bed was ten years ago. He was fourteen. He’s been special to me ever since,” Dallas responded.
“ And my brother, how old was he?” Scott asked as he carried a box into the kitchen.
“ About the same age I reckon, Jake brought him here. Said he needed to get his mind off some girl who broke his heart in Texas named Anna or something like that. Your brother is real good at pleasing my girls. Why they just hate to see him leave. Lori, she became his regular gal whenever he was around.”
“ Johnny has a history with Lori?” Scott asked.
“ Sure does, that’s why I’m surprised he ain’t took her to bed yet. Those two could go all night. That’s why I have her room at the end of the hall. They made so much noise moving that bed and…………Well, I guess you get the picture,” Dallas said as she stepped into the hallway and stopped; a smile coming to her face. “ I guess that gal back home isn’t as important to Johnny as he said.”
Scott set a box down on the table and walked over to Dallas. “ Maybe it’s a customer Lori is with,” he suggested.
“ Honey, that’s your brother with her, trust me I know. You don’t believe me, check my room. You’ll find it empty.” Dallas said with a smile before turning and going back into the kitchen.
Scott stood there, shaking his head. He couldn’t believe Johnny would do such a thing. “ Guess we’re gonna have to have a talk on the ride home brother, about loyalty to a woman,” Scott said before turning to go back to unloading the wagon.
“ You may be interested to know, I sent a letter to Murdoch explaining what happened to you and asking him to see if Sam knows of a surgeon who can remove that bullet from your back,” Scott said as he sat down in Johnny’ room.
“ I’m not having the bullet removed Scott.” Johnny responded.
“ Can I ask why?”
“ Sam is the only doctor I would trust my life with like that Scott. If he can’t do it, then the bullet stays in me,” Johnny responded.
“ You know what can happen if that bullet moves. Are you willing to go through that?” Scott asked.
“ I’ve been through worse,” Johnny responded. “ I’m heading back tomorrow.” he added
“ Has the doctor said you could ride?” Scott asked.
“ No, and I don’t need his permission to leave here Scott. I stay around here any longer, and that Rurale Captain is going to come across the river after me if he learns I’m still alive. I’m not putting these girls lives at risk,” Johnny said as he stood up and walked over to look out the window at the river, and Mexico.
“ What are your feelings toward Emma?” Scott asked as he stood up and walked over next to him.
“ I like her Scott, I like her a lot. I’m hoping we can have something together.” Johnny responded.
“ Do you love her?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah…….maybe…..I think so………. Why you asking me about Emma?”
“ Because a person usually when they have a girl they’re in love with, they are loyal to that girl when they are apart.”
“ Oh I get it now. You know I was with Lori the other day while you were in town with Dallas,” Johnny responded. “ Let me tell you something brother, seeing Dallas and Lori again has made me realize how I feel about Emma. The other day, that was a last time between me and Lori.”
“ For your sake brother, I hope so. I would really hate to have to kick your ass for hurting that girl,” Scott said as he stood up. “ I’ll see you in the morning.”
“ I’m leaving at dawn, with or without you and Jake,” Johnny said as Scott walked out of his room.
Teresa walked into the grand room and found Murdoch standing at the big bay window behind his desk, a letter in his right hand.
“ Is that a letter from Scott about Johnny?” she asked.
Murdoch turned and looked at her. “ It is.” he responded.
“ What’s wrong?” she asked.
“ Johnny…………he was shot in the back by the Rurales while he was in Mexico,” Murdoch responded.
“ Is he……….did Johnny………..”
“ No. It seems the doctor in Yuma isn’t good enough to remove the bullet from his back. They will be coming home when Johnny is able to travel.”
“ The bullet is still in there?” Teresa asked.
“ Yes, about an inch from his spine.” Murdoch says as he walks over and pours a shot and downs it. “ If it moves, it could paralyze him.”
“ How are they coming home?” Teresa asked.
“ I don’t know,” Murdoch responded. “ I’ll ride into Morro Coyo in the morning and talk to Sam.”
“ Are you going to tell Emma?” Teresa asked.
“ No. She doesn’t need to know about this,” Murdoch responded.
“ She’s Johnny’s girl. Don’t you think she should know?”
“ If he wants to tell her he can when he gets back.”
Sam poured a cup of coffee and started to sit down, when a knock at his door stopped him. “ It’s not even eight o’clock in the morning yet,” he said as he set his cup down and walked to the door. “ It better be an emergency, being here at this early hour,” Sam growled as he opened the door. “ Murdoch, what the devil are you doing here so early?”
“ I’m sorry Sam, but I wanted to make sure I caught you before you start your rounds,” Murdoch responded.
“ Well, come on in and sit down. I’ll get you a cup of coffee.” Sam responded.
“ Thanks,” Murdoch said as he sat down.
“ So, what could be so important that you were up way before dawn to be here at this hour?” Sam asked as he brought a cup of coffee over and handed it to him.
“ It’s Johnny,” Murdoch said.
“ Johnny, I heard from Marcy that he had went to Mexico, after the Deegan brothers. She said Jake went after him,”Sam responded.
Murdoch removed the letter from his coat pocket and handed it to Sam, “ Scott sent this, when Jake wired that Johnny had been shot bad, Scott insisted on going to Yuma.”
Sam took the letter. “ Before I read this, I need to know…………”
“ No Sam, he’s alive. Jake was able to get to him, but not before the Rurales found Johnny just across the border; he was shot in the back Sam. Scott says the doctor in Yuma isn’t good enough to remove the bullet. The letter explains what the doctor told them.”
Sam unfolded the letter and read it. When finished he stood up and went into another room, coming back with a medical book.
“ From what I just read, if that doctors diagnosis is true, that bullet is lodged in this area,” Sam said as he set the open book down and pointed to the area on a drawing. “ From what that doctor says, the bullet is lodged here in the muscle about an inch from Johnny’ spine on his right side. Scott says Johnny was shot in the back, from what the doctor says he thinks where the bullet is located, Johnny had to be above the shooter when he was shot.”
“ Why does that matter Sam?” Murdoch asked.
“ It may have just saved his life,” Sam responded.
“ What about what the doctor said can happen to Johnny if the bullet moves Sam?” Murdoch asked.
“ It will be just like he described……each time will get worse until the effects don’t wear off and he’s paralyzed,” Sam explained.
“ How bad?”
“ His whole right arm will be useless. There’s a small chance it could affect his whole right side,” Sam explained. “ What is it you want from me Murdoch.” he asked.
“ Sam, can you remove the bullet?” Murdoch asked.
“ I can, but the operation takes several hours to do. This isn’t like removing a bullet from a shoulder. There are a lot of nerves in the back. Most likely the one that will be affected by the bullet the most will be this one here……………..the lumbar plexus nerves. Those are five spinal nerves, which rise from either side of the spinal cord below the thoracic spinal cord and above the sacral spinal cord. Those nerves rise from the spinal cord between each pair of lumbar spinal vertebrae and travel through the intervertebral foramina. The nerves then split into an anterior branch, which travels forward, and a posterior branch, which travels backwards and supplies that area of the back. Johnny will have constant small throbbing from all the smaller nerves the bullet most likely damaged,” Sam explained. “ I know what I just told you is probably very confusing to you.”
“ Sam, can Johnny live with the bullet not removed?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes, there’s a chance the bullet won’t move at all. There’s just no way of knowing if it will. Do you know when and how they are coming back?” Sam asked.
“ Riding, unless Scott can get Johnny to take the stage like he did,” Murdoch responded.
“ Actually Murdoch, taking the stage could do Johnny more harm than good. You know how rough and bumpy they are. Riding a horse believe it or not, will be smoother for him. He can stop and walk around,” Sam said. “ Are you going to say anything to Johnny’ young lady?”
“ No. This is a family matter Sam. The less people that know about this, the safer it will be for Johnny,” Murdoch responded.
“ She’s a very nice young lady. Everybody around town likes her, why don’t you?” Sam asked.
“ Do you know what she did before she came here Sam? I’ll tell you………she worked in a saloon. She was a whore,” Murdoch said with anger. “ I can’t believe my son had the audacity to bring that………..to bring her into my home.”
“ Murdoch, I know what Emma was. She has told me about her past and how Johnny saved her from doing that life. He was her first and the only man she has been with.”
“ You expect me to believe that Sam? I know what that girl is after and I’ll be damned if she will get it.”
“ Murdoch, a moment ago you said ‘ your ‘ house. Does Lancer not belong to Johnny and Scott as well?” Sam asked.
“ Yes, but I will not have my son bringing a whore into my home.”
“ Murdoch Lancer, would you just stop and listen to yourself. That young lady deserves a chance, just like you gave Johnny. She has been working very hard at Baldanero’s and helps Father Micheal on Sundays,” Sam cut in. “ Didn’t Maria also work in a saloon when you met her? Didn’t you bring her home to Lancer?”
“ I see your point Sam.”
“ I need to go to Spanish Wells and check on Marcy. Her baby is due at any time, and with Jake gone, she’s a little scared. Emma will be going with me to stay with her per Marcy’ request. I know Marcy will be asking, so if you would like, I can let her know what has happened.”
“ Thank you Sam. Can I at least buy you breakfast before you have to leave?” Murdoch asked.
“ I’d like that, but I really should get going.” Sam responded.
“ Alright. Come on out to the ranch for Sunday supper then,” Murdoch suggested as he stood up.
“ If Marcy has her baby, I just might take you up on that offer,” Sam responded. “ Murdoch, I can almost bet that you were not happy that Johnny went to Mexico. With everything that boy has been through since he came back from Abilene……..don’t crowd him. Regardless of what he did down there, be a father to him when he gets back instead of judge, jury and executioner.”
“ I’ve been thinking about that almost every day since Jake sent that wire. I don’t know how to take Johnny when he comes home Sam. He went down there and willingly committed cold blooded murder.” Murdoch responded.
“ Why don’t you wait until he gets back and give it some time, he just might talk to you about what happened,” Sam suggested as he checked his medical bag. “ Regardless of what he did below the border Murdoch, Johnny will always be your son. Nothing can ever change that.”
“ You doing alright?” Jake asked as they rode into Barstow and stopped at the livery.
“ I’m fine,” Johnny said as he slowly got down and led his horse into the barn.
“ Why, mister Madrid, you came back.”
“ Hello Timmy., same as before with him,” Johnny said as he removed his saddlebags and rifle.
“ My ma, she was more than grateful for what ya did for us Johnny. She said if I ever seen ya again, I was ta make sure and thank ya,” Timmy said. “ Did ya find those two you was looking for?”
“ Yeah, I found them. There’s a storm coming so you might want to bring the horses in from your corral,” Johnny said as he took out some money. “ This should cover all three horses.”
“ Thanks. I’ll take real good care of them for ya,” Timmy said as he took Scott’s horse and led him into a stall.
“ After I clean up, I think I’ll send a wire to let Murdoch know where we are,” Scott said as they walked to the hotel.
“ Yeah. I need to send one to Marcy, so I’ll go with you.” Jake said.
“ Well young lady, you have a beautiful healthy son,” Sam said as he dried his hands.
“ It’s a boy?” Marcy asked.
“ Sure is,” Emma said as she carried the baby over and placed him in Marcy’ arms. “ He has Jake’ dark hair,” she added.
“ Is he alright Sam?” Marcy asked, as she looked at his little hands; noticing the blue eyes staring back at her.
“ He’s fine. Good and healthy. Has all ten fingers and toes, and a good set of lungs, and his heart sounds fine,” Sam responded.
“ I wish Jake could have been here for this,” she said softly.
“ You get some rest, I’ll stop by in a day or two and check on you. Emma is here to help you with anything. She can send someone to get me if you need me,” Sam said as he closed his bag. He may be old, but Sam was no fool. He could tell whom the baby looked like.
“ Thank you Sam,” Marcy said.
“ I’m just glad I got here when I did. That young man was in a hurry to be born,” Sam said.
“ Yeah. I had no pains until after you showed up, even long after my water broke.” Marcy said.
“ Well, you have a beautiful son Marcy, congratulations. I’m sure Jake will be happy to see his son when he comes back.” Sam said.
“ Sam, will Johnny be alright?” Emma asked.
“ What happened to Johnny?” Marcy asked.
“ He was shot in the back by the Rurales. They’re coming home. I guess the doctor in Yuma couldn’t remove the bullet.” Emma said.
“ Johnny has a bullet in his back! How horrible.” Marcy said.
Sam sat down and explained to Marcy what he could about Johnny’ injury and what could happen. Both women, even though Emma had already been told, were in shock at the possibility of Johnny being paralyzed.
“ Emma, I’ve known Johnny a while, he’s strong. He won’t let this happen. When he gets home, Sam can remove the bullet and he will be fine.”
“ Well. I need to go check on my other patients. Take it easy for a few days Marcy. I don’t want you lifting anything until your muscles have some time to rest. Your whole body just went through a traumatic change.”
“ I’ll be good Sam. I promise.” Marcy responded.
“ We’ve come a long way and as much as I would like to be home, I think we had better stop in Salinas,” Jake suggested.
“ I think you’re right. That looks like a pretty nasty storm brewing to the west,” Scott responded. “ That sound good to you brother?”
Johnny remained quiet. His leg had been hurting him all day. Sharp stabbing pains reminding him constantly of the bullet wound he had in his leg. Though healed up, the muscles still complained.
“ What’s wrong?” Jake asked.
“ Nothing,” Johnny responded.
“ That why you’re sweating like you are……..Is your back bothering you?” Jake asked.
“ No…….it’s my damn leg hurting. Guess I’ve been in the saddle too long today,” Johnny responded.
“ A couple miles and you can soak in a hot bath and rest,” Scott said.
“ Sounds good to me,” Johnny responded.
“ We’ll cross the San Bonitos mountains tomorrow, half a days ride past them and we will be on Lancer land. You’ll sleep in your own bed tomorrow night brother,” Scott said.
Four hours later, Johnny, Scott and Jake sat in the hotel dining room eating supper when a man dressed all in black walked in and sat down at a table near the window. Scott noticed an immediate change in both Johnny and Jake.
“ You two know him?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah, we know him,” Jake responded as he glanced at Johnny and went back to eating his steak.
A feeling Scott didn’t like came over him. Clearly, this man wasn’t liked by either Jake or Johnny. Could it be a coincidence the man was in Salinas the same time they were, or did he have a reason to be there, Scott wondered as he looked at his brother.
“ Will there be anything else I can get you gentlemen?” the waitress asked.
“ I think I’ll have a piece of apple pie and some coffee ma’am,” Jake responded.
“ Make that two. How about you brother, you care for a piece of pie and coffee?” Scott asked.
“ No. I think I’ll go up and turn in,” Johnny responded as he stood up.
“ I guess just the check then ma’am.” Scott said.
“ A bit off your range aren’t ya Madrid?” the man asked as Johnny walked past.
Johnny stopped. “ I could say the same about you Sundown.”
“ Imagine the shock when I seen you ride into Salinas. Told myself, nah, that ain’t Madrid. That back stabber got himself killed in Mexico. At least that’s what I heard a few years ago. Imagine the surprise when I heard you were in Yuma a month ago,” Sundown said as he stood up. “ In fact, I heard you got yourself all shot up by the Rurales, while down in Yuma.”
Johnny stepped over to Sundown’s table. “ You want something?” he asked coldly.
“Well now, you see, I never got the chance to thank you for stabbing me in the back like ya did in San Angelo,” Sundown said as he sat back down. “ I’ll be seeing you real soon Madrid.”
“ Johnny, lets go.” Scott ordered as he took hold of Johnny’s right arm.
Johnny jerked his arm free and leaned forward, placing his hands on the table. “ You want a piece of me, we can dance right now.”
“ Lets go Johnny,” Jake ordered.
“ Guess your friends here don’t know what you did in San Angelo. Maybe you should tell them so they know why I’m going to kill you….and I will kill you Madrid. I’m just not in the mood to do it tonight.”
Johnny stood up straight and headed upstairs to his room with Jake.
“ There a problem here?” a man asked.
Scott looked and seen a badge pinned on the man’s shirt. “ No problem Sheriff,” Scott responded before heading upstairs.
“ Sundown, I don’t much care for you being in my town. Finish your meal and ride out,” the Sheriff ordered.
“ Why Sheriff, that’s not very hospitable of you, kicking me out of your town with that storm,” Sundown said.
“ That’s not my concern. The safety of the people in this town is, and I want you gone,” the Sheriff said firmly.
“ May I ask why?” Sundown asked as his food was brought to his table. “ I mean, you were such a good host in San Angelo, Sheriff.”
“ I don’t want any gunfighters in my town, especially ones like you,” the Sheriff said. “ You get any ideas about causing trouble in my jurisdiction and I’ll see to it you serve more than five years,” the Sheriff said firmly.
“ Yet you let a back stabber stay in this very hotel. I don’t think that is very fair Sheriff.” Sundown said.
“ I have no gunfighters staying here,” the hotel clerk said.
“ Who do you have that came in today?” the Sheriff asked.
“ The only guest I have are the three gentlemen who came in this afternoon before the storm hit,” the clerk said as he went and got his guest register book. “ Let’s see………yes, here it is, Sheriff Jake Teague of Spanish Wells, and Scott and Johnny Lancer of Morro Coyo.”
“ Lancer…..that’s the biggest spread in the San Joaquin valley,” the Sheriff responded.
“ Sure is. Mister Lancer has stayed here before, real nice family,” the hotel clerk said.
“ Sheriff, I can assure you, that Johnny…….Lancer, is really Johnny Madrid,” Sundown said as he cut his steak.
“ You got thirty minutes to eat and get out of my town,” the Sheriff ordered before turning and walking over to the hotel clerk. “ What room those Lancer brothers in?”
“ Eight. Hey Sheriff, I never seen the Lancer brothers. Didn’t even know he had any sons. I guess what I’m sayin is, I don’t want no trouble if that is Johnny Madrid up there,” the clerk pleaded.
“ Won’t be, and I highly doubt it is,” the Sheriff said before heading upstairs.
“ What the hell is he doing this far north?” Jake asked.
“ Who is he?” Scott asked as he removed his hat.
“ Trouble,” Jake responded as he looked at Johnny. “ Something happen between you and Sundown in San Angelo?”
“ You could say that,” Johnny responded as he sat down on the bed.
“ Care to share brother?” Scott asked.
“ I turned him in. There was almost a hundred thousand dollars in the bank. He found out about it, and was planning on stealing it. You know how stealing sets with me Jake. The day before, I went to the law and told them. They didn’t believe me at first, that is they didn’t until I put my reputation on the line.”
“ You stood in the street when they rode in, and stopped them,” Jake said. “ I heard about that attempted robbery being foiled, but the paper never said who it was foiled by.”
“ Now you know,” Johnny said.
“ Damn kid. You know Sundown won’t stop until one of you are dead,” Jake said as someone knocked on the door.
Johnny stood up and went into the other room, pistol drawn as Jake opened the door. “ Sheriff, what can I do for you?”
“ Can I come in?”
“ Sure, come on in,” Jake responded as he opened the door more and stepped aside so the Sheriff could enter the room.
“ Where’s the third one?” he asked.
“ My brother, he’s in the other room,” Scott responded
“ Come on out and say hello Madrid,” the Sheriff ordered. “ Just make sure you keep your hands were I can see them.”
Scott looked at Jake. “ Now just a minute Sheriff……..You got no right to come up here and…………..”
“ Hello Johnny. Long time no see kid,” the Sheriff said.
“ Long time Randy,” Johnny said as he walked back into the room. “ You gonna keep that thing aimed at me all night?”
“ Only way I can get the jump on Johnny Madrid,” the Sheriff said as he put his gun away and stepped up closer to Johnny. “ You don’t look so good kid.”
“ Been better,” Johnny responded as he held out his hand.
Randy took Johnny’s hand and pulled him to a hug. “ What the hell you doing in Salinas kid?”
“ Headed home,” Johnny responded.
“ To Mexico?” Randy asked as he glanced at Scott and then Jake.
“ No. Morro Coyo, with my brother………..Scott. Jake, this is a very good friend of mine, Randy Newton.” Johnny said.
“ Sheriff.” Scott said.
“ Brother…….wait a minute, you found your old man…….and a brother huh?” Randy asked.
“ Long story, but yeah. This here is Jake Teague, Sheriff of Spanish Wells, another good friend of mine.”
“ I heard of you. Only what I heard, you weren’t no Sheriff, you wore a Marshals badge,” Randy said.
“ I did until I decided to give it up,” Jake responded.
“ Abilene, Texas I believe. I heard how the kid here helped you out when you got shot………You seen who’s downstairs didn’t ya?”
“ Yeah, I saw. He’s sore about San Angelo still I guess,” Johnny responded. “ How long did he serve?”
“ Five years in Huntsville.” Randy responded.
“ Excuse me, but just where do you know my brother from?” Scott asked.
“ I’m sorry, Scott, Jake, this is the man who was the Sheriff in San Angelo when Sundown was going to rob the bank,” Johnny explained as he walked over to the bed and sat down.
“ Wow, talk about luck. I never thought I would see you again Johnny,” Randy said. “ You’re moving kinda slow, you alright?”
“ Yeah.” Johnny said as he gave Scott a look that clearly said to keep quiet.
“ So how long you in town for?” Randy asked.
“ Until the storm passes. Why?” Johnny asked.
“ I ordered Sundown out of town,” Randy responded. “ I don’t like his kind in my town,” he added.
“ And what kind is that Randy?” Johnny asked.
“ Murderers and thieves. Both of which Sundown is.”
“ If you know he’s a murderer, why don’t you arrest him Sheriff?” Scott asked.
“ He’s not wanted in California that I know of. Listen, I need to finish my rounds. It’s good seeing you again Johnny,” Randy said as he walked over to the door and opened it.
“ You too. Keep your powder dry,” Johnny said.
“ It was good meeting you two. Scott is it?” Randy asked
“ You take care of him. Johnny is a damn good man. I’ll see ya kid.” Randy said before walking out and closing the door.
“ I think I’ll turn in, I’ll see you guys in the morning,” Jake said as he stood up and walked to the door.
Sundown watched as the three riders rode out of Salinas, headed north. “ I know where you’re going Madrid, and it’s going to be so much fun killing you,” Sundown said aloud. “ Just one small thing I have to go back and take care of first,”
“ You know we were watched riding out of town?” Jake asked.
“ Yeah, I know, about half a mile out, in a stand of trees.” Johnny responded.
“ That man in town last night?” Scott asked
“ Yeah, Sundown. He might trail us all the way.” Johnny said.
“ What do you plan to do?” Scott asked.
“ Go home. Been gone to long now,” Johnny responded. “ Besides, I imagine Jake here is a father by now.”
“ Now that will take some getting used to.” Jake cut in.
“ Just wait until you get woke up in the middle of the night,” Johnny said with a laugh. “ Ain’t nothing like the sound of a hungry baby to wake you from a sound sleep.”
“ Johnny, you remember that baby at the orphanage? Man that kid had a set of lungs.” Jake asked.
“ She sure did. I think she woke up the whole damn place when she was hungry.” Johnny said with a laugh.
“ You keep going with Emma, and it can just as well be you woke up in the middle of the night brother.” Scott suggested.
Johnny stopped his horse. “ There they are,” he said. “ San Bonitos mountains.”
“ Yep, a couple hours and we’ll be home,” Scott responded. “ You stopping at the ranch, or going on to Spanish Wells Jake?” he asked.
“ I reckon I’ll see you two home and then head to Spanish Wells,” Jake responded. “ Don’t know if I still have a job though.”
“ Why wouldn’t ya? You were gone on business.” Johnny said.
“ Are you going to let Sam remove that bullet?” Scott asked.
“ Nope. Not bothering me, so why bother it.” Johnny responded.
Mister Lancer, three riders coming in from the south,” Frank said. “ It looks to be Scott and Johnny with Jake.”
Murdoch and Teresa hurried outside and watched the three riders rode under the Lancer arch. He could tell Johnny wasn’t sitting up straight in the saddle like he normally did.
“ You want me to send a man for the doc?” Frank asked.
“ No, let’s see what Johnny wants.” Murdoch responded.
“ They probably want a hot bath and a good meal.” Teresa said as Johnny, Scott and Jake rode up.
“ Welcome home boys..” Murdoch said as Scott and Jake dismounted.
“ Thanks, it’s good to finally be home.” Scott said
Teresa went to Scott and gave him a hug. “ Thank you Jake.” she said as she hugged Scott.
“ My pleasure. You gonna get down, or stay on the horse all day?” Jake asked.
Johnny dropped the reins and slowly got down.
“ I’ll take care of them for you.” Frank said as he took the reins.
“ Thanks Frank, can you saddle a horse for Jake, so he can go home?” Johnny asked.
“ Sure thing.” Frank said as he led the horses away.
“ Come on inside, you three look beat.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Teresa.” Johnny called.
Teresa walked over to him.
“ I kept my promise. I sent them to hell for you.” Johnny said.
“ Thank you,” Teresa responded before giving Johnny an quick kiss on the cheek. “ Come on, lets get you inside.”
“ Are you doing okay? ” Johnny asked as he hobbled along.
“ I’m fine. Better now that you’re home and safe.” Teresa responded as she helped Johnny to the house.
“ Would you happen to know if Marcy had the baby yet Mister Lancer?” Jake asked as they walked into the grand room.
“ Murdoch walked over to the sideboard and poured four brandy’s. “ Yes she did,” he answered as he took two of the drinks and handed them to Scott and Jake. “ She gave birth to a beautiful boy last week. Emma has been staying with her, helping her out until she gets on her feet again,” Murdoch said as Johnny and Teresa walked in. “ This calls for a celebration.”
“ I have a son?” Jake asked.
“ That’s what Sam said. We haven’t been to see him yet.” Murdoch responded.
“ See who?” Johnny asked as he walked over to sit down on the couch.
“ I guess I have a son Johnny. Marcy gave birth a week ago.” Jake said.
“ Congratulations buddy, I’m real happy for ya,” Johnny responded. “ Sorry you missed his birth because of me.”
“ Forget it. Friends make sacrifices to help a friend out. You doing okay?” Jake said and asked.
“ Just tired.” Johnny responded as he laid his head back and closed his eyes.
“ Why don’t you go rest before supper son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah, I think I will.” Johnny responded as he stood up.
“ You need some help getting upstairs?” Scott asked.
“ No, I can make it,” Johnny responded as he headed to the stairs, and stopped at the bottom. “ Congratulations Jake, and thanks again for coming. I know what saving my sorry ass cost you.” he added before heading upstairs.
Murdoch waited until he heard Johnny’s door close. “ Okay, talk.”
“ I explained everything in the letter I sent you.” Scott responded.
“ Something isn’t right,” Teresa said. “ He’s to quiet.”
“ Did you have trouble coming home?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, no trouble. We rode up the coast,” Scott responded. “ Stayed in Salinas last night because of a storm,” Scott said.
“ The two of you might as well know, I do not approve of what Johnny did in Mexico. He should have brought those men back to face a trial and be sent to prison,” Murdoch said with anger. “ What he did was flat out murder.”
“ You really don’t know a damn thing about him do you? “ Jake asked as he stood up. “ Scott, take care of him.” Jake said before heading to the door and leaving.
“ With all do respect sir, we may not like what Johnny did in Mexico to the Deegan brothers, but he is still my brother, your son. You might want to try remembering that,” Scott suggested. “ Also, I think you should know, Johnny said he’s not having the bullet removed.”
“ What?” Murdoch asked.
“ He said he doesn’t want it removed since it’s not bothering him. The doctor in Yuma said it may not move. There’s just no way of knowing, and Johnny doesn’t want to risk the surgery.” Scott explained.
“ That fool.” Murdoch said.
“ That fool has every right. It’s his decision to make, not ours,” Scott cut in. “ Now if you will excuse me, I think I will go rest before supper as well.”
Johnny woke and stretched before throwing the covers back and swinging his legs over the bed. Sitting there, he rubbed his face and head before standing up, walking over to the window to look out. The position of the sun told him he had slept through the night, missing supper and breakfast. He could see his father and brother talking with Cipriano and Frank in the yard. Rubbing his leg, Johnny walked over and started freshening up before going downstairs.
“ Well good morning,” Teresa said as Johnny walked into the kitchen. “ I kept some bacon and biscuits warm for you. It’ll only take a minute to whip up some eggs,” Teresa said as she poured a cup of coffee and brought it to him.
“ Thanks. Where’s Maria?” Johnny asked as he sat down.
“ She has today off,” Teresa responded.
“ How come nobody woke me up last night?” Johnny asked as he sipped his coffee.
“ We tried, but you were sound asleep, so we decided to just let you be. Besides, I knew you would wake up eventually to eat,” Teresa said as she cracked eggs. “ How are you feeling?”
“ I’m alright, ” Johnny said as he reached for a biscuit and felt a tingling in his right hand.
“ I imagine you will be glad to see Emma again?” Teresa asked as she stirred the eggs.
“ Yeah, I guess so,” Johnny responded as he shook his right hand. “ Does she know I was shot?”
“ Yes, I believe Sam told her what happened,” Teresa responded as she placed a plate of eggs in front of Johnny. “ Murdoch wasn’t going to tell her. He said it was none of her business what happened to you,”
“ He said that huh?” Johnny asked as he started eating the eggs. “ What else did he say Teresa?”
“ About what?” she asked as she sat down across from him.
“ Me, what happened in Mexico,”
“ He’s not happy about it. In fact, yesterday after you went to lay down, Murdoch got angry when Jake and Scott told him about someone named Sundown. Jake set him straight about it,” Teresa said. “ And then Scott told him about you not wanting the bullet removed, and why. Is that true Johnny?”
“ It seems my brother has a big mouth he needs to learn to keep shut! ” Johnny said.
“ Don’t be mad at Scott, Johnny, he’s just worried about you. We all are,” Teresa said.
“ You able to go in that barn any since I left?” Johnny asked.
“ Yes, I just hold on to the words you spoke that day,” Teresa responded.
Johnny stood up. “ Thank you for breakfast,”
“ What will you do today?” Teresa asked as she stood up.
“ Unless things changed while I was gone, this is a working ranch, so I expect I’ll be fixing fence, digging post holes or clearing brush,” Johnny said as he carried his empty plate over to the sink.
“ I’ll get that Johnny,” Teresa said as she walked over to the sink.
“ Guess I better go find out what the old man wants me doing,” Johnny said as he started toward the front door.
“ I didn’t think you would be awake yet son,” Murdoch said as he walked over to Johnny.
“ Guess I was more tired than I thought. Sorry about last night,” Johnny responded.
“ That’s alright son. Uh, where you going?” Murdoch asked.
“ To saddle my horse. This is a working ranch,” Johnny responded.
“ Don’t you think you should rest son? You just……..”
“ Don’t Murdoch, don’t start treating me like a little kid! I’m fine,” Johnny said firmly.
“ I have no intention of treating you like a child, even though you act like one at times,” Murdoch snapped back. “ You have a bullet in your back, take a few days and rest.”
“ Don’t coddle me old man. I don’t want it, or need it.” Johnny ordered. “ I know what’s bothering you so why don’t you just get it said?”
“ Johnny, I’m not going to fight with you your first day back home,” Murdoch responded.
“ You got a problem with what I did,” Johnny said.
“ Now is not the time to discuss what you did,” Murdoch responded.
“ It’s never a good time or place to discuss anything I do according to you. You’re never going to accept me for who I really am! What I did, I did because it was the right thing to do. Those men had no rights to a trial,”
“ So you rode down there, you became their judge, jury and executioner! Those men had every right to a fair trial. It was your duty to bring them back across the border, alive, not kill them in cold blood!”
“ And what about Teresa’ rights? How fair would it have been for her to have to sit in a courtroom and relive what those two bastards did to her. To have everybody in the valley know she was raped? You want to talk justice and the law old man, I delivered justice and in case you forgot, there ain’t no law below the border,” Johnny said with anger as he swung up in the saddle. “ What law and justice were you serving when you paid Rose off?” Johnny demanded.
“ I did what I had to do to keep you safe.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ And I did what I had to do to keep Teresa safe,” Johnny retorted. “ You know, Scott told me something once, it didn’t really make any sense to me until now. Being right by accident doesn’t excuse being wrong on purpose.” Johnny said before taking off.
Jake walked out of his office and headed to the hotel when he was stopped by Emma.
“ Jake, when did you get back?”
“ Yesterday. It was pretty late by the time I got back to town here, so I didn’t go see Marcy.”
“ Did Johnny come back with you?” Emma asked.
“ Yeah, he’s at the ranch, though I don’t know for how long he’ll be there,” Jake responded.
“ Why, what’s wrong?” Emma asked.
“ His old man is what’s wrong. He don’t start cutting Johnny some slack, that boy will leave!” Jake responded.
“ Let’s go see your son,” Emma said as she took Jake’ arm and started toward the hotel.
“ Emma, what’s the baby look like?” Jake asked.
“ Like you only a smaller version. Why?” Emma responded.
“ No reason I guess.” Jake said as they walked into the hotel and up the stairs.
Emma stopped and opened the door. “ You feel up to a visitor?” she asked.
“ Jake, when did you get back?” Marcy asked as she sat up more in bed.
“ Last night,” Jake said as he removed his hat and sat down on the edge of the bed. “ How you doing?”
“ Better, Emma being with me has been a blessing,” Marcy said as she swung her legs over the side of the bed. “ Would you like to see your son?” she asked as she stood up.
“ Yeah, sure.” Jake responded.
Marcy walked over to the cradle and pulled the blanket back a little. “ Well, you gonna come over here and see your son?” she asked softly.
Jake stood up and walked over to the cradle. “ He looks so little,”
“ Your son may look little, but he came into this world in a big way,” Marcy said as she reached down and picked him up. “ Less than eight hours from the first signs until he was born,”
“ Yeah, Sam said he’s never had a baby come into this world that fast except when Johnny was born.” Emma added.
“ Here, hold his head with one hand, and his butt with the other,” Marcy instructed.
“ I don’t know about this,” Jake said as she placed the baby in his hands. “ Wow, he is small,” Jake said as he walked over and sat down on the bed. “ I’ve never held something so small!”
“ Well, you’re doing just fine,” Marcy said as she sat down next to him.
“ He’s gonna need a haircut before he’s a year old!” Jake said with a laugh. “ I can’t believe how tiny his fingers are,”
“ I know. He has all his fingers, and all his little toes” Marcy said.
“ What color are his eyes?” Jake asked.
“ Blue….but they can change when he gets older!” Marcy responded.
“ You better take him now” Jake suggested.
Marcy stood up and took the baby from him. “ So do you even want to know his name?”
“ Yeah I guess.” Jake responded.
“ Is something wrong Jake?” Marcy asked.
“ Look I need to take care of some things, I’ll come back later, maybe this evening we can have supper together?” Jake suggested
“ Hold it right there” Marcy ordered. “ Emma, could you leave us alone for a few minutes please?”
“ Sure. I’ll go check the mail.” Emma said as she headed to the door opened it and left.
“ Out with it Jake!” Marcy ordered as she put the baby back in the cradle.
“ Okay, he looks nothing like me….I can’t help but think he’s Johnny’s baby, not mine.” Jake said.
“ Jake I was with you over a month after me and Johnny split up. Almost a year later I gave birth to a beautiful healthy son your son,” Marcy said firmly. “That is your son laying in the cradle not Johnny’s.”
Jake stepped over to Marcy and pulled her into a hug. “ I’m sorry.”
“ I missed you,” she said before their lips met.
Johnny rode to the north pastures looking for Scott, when he felt tingling in his right arm and hand again. Stopping the stallion, Johnny shook and flexed his hand and fingers. “ Easy boy, it’s wearing off.”
Scott pulled another stubborn weed from the creek bed when he heard a horse approaching. Shading his eyes from the afternoon sun, he could see who it was.
“ I thought you would spend the day sleeping brother?” Scott asked, noticing the look and sweat on his brothers face. “ You alright?”
Johnny stopped the stallion and dismounted, dropping the reins. “ Tell me something Scott, just what all did you tell them after I went to lay down yesterday afternoon?” Johnny demanded.
“ What do you mean?” Scott asked.
“ You know damn well what I mean,” Johnny snapped back. “ I had a very interesting conversation with Teresa this morning, and then the old man drills me. I want to know what all you told them in that damn letter you wrote, and what you said yesterday!” Johnny demanded.
“ All I said in the letter was about your injury and what the doctor in Yuma said. I asked Murdoch to talk to Sam about it and see if he knew someone who could remove it,” Scott responded. “ As far as yesterday, I told them what you said, that you were not having the bullet removed.”
“ Let me see if I got this straight, you took it upon yourself to tell Murdoch what I told you. Is that right….brother?” Johnny said sarcastically.
“ Yes, look Johnny, I’m sorry. I felt Murdoch had a right to know,” Scott responded.
Johnny walked up to Scott and hit him hard, knocking him down. “ It wasn’t your place to tell the old man a damn thing,” Johnny said with anger, before turning and going to his horse and mounting up. “ Don’t ever expect me to trust you again!” Johnny said before turning the stallion and riding away.
Scott stood there watching his brother ride away, shaking his head. “ Will you ever learn brother?”
Murdoch was in the yard talking to Walt when his oldest rode into the yard. “ You’re back early, you get that section of fence finished?”
“ Yes sir.” Scott responded as he dismounted. “ Is Johnny here?”
“ No, I haven’t seen your brother since he rode out of here late this morning.” Murdoch said. “ What the devil happened to you?” he demanded, noticing the bruise.
“ It would seem my brother wasn’t very appreciative of me telling you about his decision to not have the bullet removed,” Scott responded. “ I was wrong in saying anything about it. It wasn’t my place too.” he added.
“ You had every right to tell me about your brothers condition.” Murdoch responded.
“ No I didn’t sir. It should have been Johnny’s decision to tell you, not mine, and because of this, my little brother will never trust me again.”
“ Your brother has got to start realizing he has a family, people who care about him,” Murdoch said as a rider galloped under that Lancer arch.
“ Can I help you?” Murdoch asked the man as he brought his horse to a stop.
“ That depends, I’m looking for the Lancer ranch.” Sundown said.
“ You’re not welcome here Sundown, so turn that horse around and leave here now!”” Scott ordered.
“ Now that’s no way to be to an old friend of your brothers!” Sundown said.
“ I know perfectly well what you mean to my brother, and I assure you, you are not a friend.” Scott responded. “ You have two choices on how you’re going to leave this ranch, the choice is yours,” Scott said with anger.
“ And if I don’t?” Sundown asked coldly.
“ You don’t, and I’ll blow a hole in you so big we’ll all see what you had for breakfast.” Frank said as he pulled the hammer back on both barrels of a shotgun.
“ Get off Lancer land now!” Murdoch ordered.
Sundown smiled. “ You tell Madrid…….I’m gonna hurt him for every year he cost me in prison.” Sundown said before turning his horse and riding off.
“ I want to know who the hell that man is, and what does he want with your brother?” Murdoch demanded.
“ I’m afraid you are going to have to ask Johnny that sir.” Scott responded.
“ Your brothers not here. You know who that man is, you called him by name. Now I demand to know.”
“ Demand all you want sir. I have already betrayed my brothers trust once, It’s not my place to say. Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go clean up before supper.” Scott said before heading inside.
Johnny walked into the house and removed his gun belt and hat, hanging them on the hook by the front door.
“ Sorry, I’m late, my horse threw a shoe.” Johnny said as he sat down. “ Sure smells good Teresa.”
“ Where were you when he lost the shoe?” Scott asked.
“ Cedar Canyon. I told that new hand Cole to let you know I was walking back and would be late!” Johnny responded. “ Didn’t he tell ya?”
“ No, I have not seen nor spoke to any of the hands since this morning.” Murdoch responded.
“ You gonna tell me why you’re angry at me old man?” Johnny asked as he grabbed some beef and potatoes.
“ Murdoch, now is not the time to discuss it. Scott suggested.
“ Discuss what?” Johnny asked.
“ Sundown was here this afternoon.” Scott responded.
Johnny set his fork down and sat back in his chair. “ What’d he want?”
“ You. We ordered him off Lancer property.” Scott said.
“ I asked your brother who that man was, and he refused to tell me…..So I’m going to ask you, and I would like an honest answer…Who is that man and why did he come here?”
“ He came here to kill me.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ Why?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Because he spent five years in a Texas prison because of me.” Johnny said before leaving the table and going over to the sideboard and pouring a shot of tequila, and downing it.
“ Teresa, go ahead and clean up.” Murdoch ordered as he stood up and walked into the grand room, followed by Scott.
“ I turned him in. We worked a range war together and after, he learned of a large amount of money in the bank in San Angelo. He wanted me to help him and a couple others rob it. I didn’t. Instead I rode into town and told them what was going to happen. They didn’t believe me until I stood on the street that morning and faced the four of them.”
“ Randy, the Sheriff in Salinas, he was also the Sheriff of San Angelo when this happened?” Scott asked. “ You did nothing wrong Johnny. It’s not your fault.”
“ This man came here to kill you because of what you did in San Angelo?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yeah, once again because of my past.” Johnny snapped back.
“ I didn’t say that son. You stopped a robbery from happening. You saved a lot of people that day.” Murdoch said. “ I know it’s not easy for you to talk about your past. Telling me what you just did…….thank you.”
Johnny stood there staring at his father. “ You feeling alright?” he asked finally.
“ I feel fine. Did what I just said shock you?” Murdoch asked.
“ A little yeah. You usually yell at me or get angry when someone or something from my past shows up,” Johnny responded.
“ Can I ask you another question and you answer it truthfully son?” Murdoch asked.
“ I already know what you’re gonna ask,” Johnny said. “ The doctor in Yuma told me I have a fifty fifty chance on the bullet moving or not.”
“ Can I ask you to do me one favor son?”
“ Just one, hell old man you do that every morning me or Scott ride out to work on this ranch,” Johnny said with a smile.
“ Johnny, I believe our father is being serious right now!” Scott suggested.
“ Okay, ask,”
“ Would you let Sam check you over?” Murdoch asked.
Johnny walked over and poured a shot of tequila and downed it. “ I haven’t felt anything since we left Yuma, I don’t see why I should bother Sam with it.”
“ You’ve had no pains or numbness at all?” Scott asked.
“ Look, this is my right arm and hand we’re talking about. You think I would risk not being able to draw and defend myself?” Johnny asked.
“ No, but maybe Sam……..”
“ Look, I’m fine okay. I see no need to bother Sam about something that’s not bothering me.” Johnny said firmly.
Five months of winter had Johnny fed up with cows. It seemed like almost every day him and Scott were repairing fence and chasing the dumb beast back into a pasture. Green grass shooting up in any spots the snow melted away from, seemed to keep them more content as the days started getting longer.
“ Can I ask why you haven’t been to see Emma this winter?” Scott asked as he stretched wire.
“ Been to damn tired after work!” Johnny responded.
“Is it because your too tired, or is there another reason Johnny?” Scott asked.
“ What other reason? Look, I told you, I just haven’t felt like it.” Johnny said as he walked to the stallion and checked the cinch. “ Think I’ll ride over and check that stream bed out where it bends. After the winter we just had, don’t need it damning up when the rains start.” Johnny said as he mounted his horse. “ You finish up here?”
“ Sure. Johnny, I didn’t mean to sound like I was implying anything.” Scott said.
“ Forget it Scott. I’ll see ya back at the house.” Johnny said as he spurred the stallion into a lope.
Scott wiped the sweat from his brow as he watched his brother ride over the hill. All winter he watched Johnny as close as he could for any signs the bullet in his back had moved, and nothing. Not wanting to go into town had him concerned. Usually Johnny could hardly wait for Saturday night to go have a beer, play cards or be with Emma even. Could it be because of Sundown hanging around or something else keeping his little brother from going to town on Saturday nights, Scott just didn’t know.
“ Agatha, what brings you here?” Murdoch asked as he stood up from his desk.
“ Do I have to have a reason to visit my oldest, dearest friend?” Aggie asked.
“ Of course not, come in, can I get you some coffee?” Murdoch asked.
“ Actually, I could use something a little stronger.” Aggie responded as she removed her gloves and walked over to the sideboard.
Murdoch walked over to the sideboard and poured a shot of brandy, and handed it to her. “ Are you alright?”
Aggie took a sip of the brandy, and walked over and sat down in a chair by the desk. “ Where is your youngest son, Johnny?” she asked.
“ He’s out with Scott, repairing fence, why?” Murdoch responded as he walked over and sat down at his desk.
“ One of my hands was in Green River the other day and given a message by a man he had never seen before.” Aggie said. “ He must have thought my hand worked for you because he told him to tell Madrid that his time is almost up.”
“ Did he say if this mans name was Sundown?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, I didn’t think to ask him either. Whose this Sundown you mentioned?”
“ A gunfighter just like Johnny. Makes his living killing people for money.” Murdoch responded.
“ Why is he here to kill Johnny?” Aggie asked.
“ Because Johnny sent him to prison. It seems they worked together and this Sundown wanted to rob a bank, Johnny went to the law, they didn’t believe him, so he stopped it. There were some other men with Sundown, I don’t know if Johnny killed them or they went to prison too.” Murdoch said.
“ Murdoch, I get the impression you still don’t like what Johnny became to stay alive all those years.” Aggie suggested
“ I don’t think a part of me will ever fully accept that.”
“ You said makes his living killing people for money. Didn’t you work as a bounty hunter for some time? Isn’t being a bounty hunter like Johnny and this man Sundown?”
“ No, a bounty hunter makes his living hunting down people who are wanted by the law. They don’t go hiring their gun…………oh my god, I never thought of it like that Aggie. How could I have been so blind to not see that?”
“ Murdoch, sometimes it takes an outside person to point out what is right in front of you. Now, what’s this I’ve been hearing about Johnny having a bullet in his back?” Aggie asked.
“Yes he does. He was shot in the back while in Mexico. The doctor in Yuma couldn’t remove it and Johnny won’t let Sam examine him or try.”
“ Did he say why?”
“ He said he sees no need in being a bother to Sam about something that’s not bothering him…….My son is risking being paralyzed because he doesn’t want to be a bother to anyone.” Murdoch said with anger.
“ Has Father Micheal talked to him?”
“ No, Johnny won’t go to church, and the two times Father Micheal came here, Johnny took off or went to his room.” Murdoch responded.
“ Maybe he’s scared Murdoch. Hasn’t Johnny had to uphold this tough guy not afraid of anything or anyone image most of his life. Maybe this bullet has him so scared, he doesn’t know how to deal with it.” Aggie suggested.
“ Maybe I should have Johnny come visit you. Maybe you could talk some sense into him.” Murdoch suggested as the front door opened and Scott walked in.
“ Mrs Conway, it’s good to see you.” Scott said as he removed his gloves. “ That section of fence is repaired.”
“ Well, I should get back to my ranch. It was good seeing you Scott. Murdoch, now that winter is over, I expect you to start coming over for those Sunday suppers.” Aggie said as she walked to the front door with Murdoch.
Scott went and poured himself a shot of whiskey and walked over to the fireplace to warm up.
“ I’m sorry if I interrupted sir!” Scott said.
“ You didn’t son. Where is Johnny?”
“ He rode over to check a wash before coming home. Why?”
“ That gunfighter Sundown, he’s in Green River. He told one of Aggie’s hands to tell Johnny that his time is almost up.” Murdoch responded.
“ I had hoped that man had left.” Scott said as he walked back over to the sideboard and poured another shot.
“ Are you and your brother going into town?” Murdoch asked.
“ No sir. It would seem my little brother has no interest in going to town and having a cold beer with me.” Scott responded.
“ He hasn’t went to town all winter.”
“ No sir. I asked him about that and he said he was to tired. Personally I think he doesn’t want to face this Sundown. I think he’s afraid it will come between the two of you.”
“ Why the devil would he think that?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Maybe because of how you have expressed your feelings about his past before.” Scott responded. “ If you’ll excuse me, I think I will go get cleaned up before supper!” Scott said as he headed upstairs.
Murdoch had no more than sat down at his desk when his youngest walked in through the veranda doors.
“ Your brother said you rode over to check a stream. I didn’t expect you back until later. Is everything alright?”
“ Yeah. It’s gonna take more than one man and horse to remove a huge tree that came down across the creek bed. I removed some smaller stuff, but that cottonwood is to big for one horse to pull.”
“ Alright son. I’ll send a crew out with a team and get it cleaned up.” Murdoch said.
Johnny went over to the fire to warm up when he suddenly dropped the shot of whiskey. “ Damn it.”
“ You alright son?” Murdoch asked as he came over.
“ Yeah. Just tired and cold and hungry.” Johnny said as he reached down to pick up the shot glass. “ Relax old man. It wasn’t my right hand or arm.”
“ I’ll relax when you let Sam remove that damn bullet!” Murdoch responded.
“ Yeah, well that ain’t happening anytime soon.”
“ Mrs Conway…………Oh, I thought she was still here.” Teresa said as she walked into the room.
“ No, she had to get back to her ranch.” Murdoch said.
“ Johnny, you are a mess.” Teresa said before turning and going back into the kitchen.
“ Glad she’s so observant. Think I’ll go clean up.” Johnny said. “ Oh, why was she here?”
“ I’m sorry, what son?”
“ Mrs Conway, why was she here?”
Murdoch didn’t want to, but knew the results wouldn’t be good if he lied. “ One of her hands was approached while in Green River by that man, Sundown. He said to tell you your time is almost up.”
Johnny let out a small laugh. “ That’s real rich of him.” he said before starting upstairs.
“ Just a minute son.” Murdoch said as he walked over to the stairs. “ I know you’re the best, but what do you know about this man?”
“ I’m a lot better than I was when we rode together. He’s fast, but I doubt he can beat me.” Johnny responded. “ Why, you worried I’ll get gunned down?”
“ Would that be so bad son?” Murdoch asked.
“ No, I guess not.” Johnny responded. “ I guess I’m still getting used to people caring about me. Especially having a family who cares.”
“ Well get used to it. Listen, I know we will have our differences from time to time, but I will always care about you. I don’t want to lose you again.”
“ Thanks Pa.” Johnny said before hurrying upstairs before his father could say anything else.
“ Morning.” Johnny said as he walked over and poured a cup of coffee. “ Buggy is all hitched and ready to go as well as our horses Scott.”
“ What has you so happy this morning little brother?” Scott asked.
“ Morning son.”
“ I thought I would ride with you three to Morro Coyo and spend some time with Emma.”
“ We will be attending church in Spanish Wells, and I was hoping you would come with us son.” Murdoch said.
“ Nope, already got plans for the day.” Johnny responded.
“ I don’t much approve of what you have planned, especially on a Sunday son.” Murdoch said.
“ Don’t really care. Emma doesn’t go to church, so me and her will be spending the day together.” Johnny responded back. “ Look, she’s my girl so if you got a problem with me seeing her, get over it old man, because you’re not going to stop me.”
“ Johnny, I was hoping you would come so you could meet Scott’ lady friend Hope. She’s the new school teacher in Spanish Wells!” Teresa said.
“ School teacher huh. I bet she’s all prim and proper for the old man here. Bet he didn’t disapprove of her like he did Emma.” Johnny said with sarcasm.
“ Don’t you want to see Jake, and his son?” Teresa asked.
“ Let it go Teresa. It’s clear my little brother has other plans for today. He can meet Hope next weekend when she comes for supper.” Scott cut in.
“ Why don’t you ask Emma to come then Johnny? I could ask Jake if him and Marcy would like to!” Teresa suggested.
“ Maybe I will Teresa.” Johnny responded.
“ That woman is not welcome in this house.” Murdoch said firmly.
Johnny glared at his father. “ Why, because of her past?” he demanded.
“ You know perfectly well why young man.” Murdoch snapped back.
Johnny tossed his napkin down on his plate. “ As long as I’m a third owner of this ranch, I have a right to invite whoever I want to this ranch. If you have a problem with Emma being my girl because she worked in a saloon when I found her, I suggest you remember where it was you met my mother before you took her to bed and got her pregnant with me, and brought her here.” Johnny said with anger before standing up so fast, his chair fell back. “ If you have a problem with her past, then I reckon you still have a problem with mine.” he said before turning to leave.
“ Johnny wait.” Scott ordered as he stood up. “ Johnny’ right sir. He has every right to invite Emma here. Just because Hope is a school teacher doesn’t make her and better than Emma is. She’s his girl and he has a right to see her and have her come here for supper.”
“ Forget it Scott. That’s a nice speech and all brother, but in his eyes, he’ll never see Emma for the good person she is, just like he’ll never see past what I did in my past. I’ll see ya later brother.” Johnny said before walking out.
“ Will you ever learn?” Scott demanded. “ When are you going to stop judging him on everything he does?”
“ When he stops acting so reckless.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ Yes reckless. What else would you call it when he takes off in the middle of the night and goes to Mexico and two men in cold blood?”
“ Johnny went to Mexico because he made a promise to me that he would make those men pay for what they did to me.” Teresa cut in. “ Don’t be mad at him for keeping a promise to me Murdoch, please.”
“ He should have brought those men back here to stand trial for what they did.” Murdoch responded.
“ Johnny did what he did to protect Teresa from having to face those two in court. I stand by my brothers decision totally. Teresa, I’ll wait for you outside.” Scott said before walking out.
“ They’re both right you know.” Teresa said as she stood up to start clearing the table. “ Emma is a really nice person. She helped Marcy until Jake came back. People in Morro Coyo like her. Even Mrs Conway likes her. Why can’t you?”
“ The matter of my liking her is not for me to be discussing with you young lady.” Murdoch said as he stood up and headed to the door.
“ Men……Why do they have to be so difficult?” Teresa asked herself aloud as she headed toward the front door.
Johnny rode into Spanish wells late morning after finding out Emma had moved back to help Marcy with her baby early winter. Stopping at the Sheriff’s office, he dismounted and tied the stallion off just as Jake came out of the office.
“ Well, I do believe I’m seeing Johnny Lancer, course I don’t know for sure since I haven’t seen him since we got back from Yuma.”
Johnny held out his hand. “ Hello Jake. Been awhile.”
Jake took Johnny’ hand and pulled him into a quick hug. “ You been to busy to come see a friend?” he asked.
“ Been pretty rough at the ranch with the winter we just had.” Johnny said.
“ If you’re looking for Emma, she’s over at the house with Marcy. She stays there and helps her out with the baby.” Jake said.
“I just found out this morning that she moved back to Spanish Wells.” Johnny said. “ I expect she’s pretty upset at me for not being around?”
“ Have you seen her at all since you came back from Yuma?” Jake asked.
“ Well come on, you can walk with me to the house.” Jake said as he locked the door to the Sheriff’s office.
“ Thought you had a deputy?” Johnny asked as he untied the stallion and followed Jake to his house.
“ I do. He’s out of town on business for me. He’ll be back next week.” Jake responded.
“ Listen Jake, I want the truth. Is the baby mine?” Johnny asked.
Jake stopped and let out a sigh. “ I’m not going to lie to you Johnny, I think it is your baby, but I’m gonna tell you something right here, right now……That baby might be yours but it’s by blood only…….As far as anyone in this town is concerned, he’s my son. Marcy told me the truth when I got back. She knew she was pregnant before I slept with her.”
“ Why didn’t she tell me?” Johnny asked.
“ I don’t know. Unless it’s because of your past, and she wants a safe, secure environment to raise him in.” Jake responded.
“ She used you.”
“ She used both of us Johnny……Listen, I don’t have a problem raising that baby as my own, hell you’ve always been like a brother to me, but I need to know something right here, right now.” Jake demanded. “ Are you going to try and take that baby away from her? Because if you are…….”
“ I know what it’s like to take a child away from it’s loving parents Jake. I don’t want my son going through what I did when my mother took me away.”
“ I’m glad to hear that. Come on, lets go meet your son.” Jake said as he walked up the steps and opened the front door.
Johnny followed Jake inside and stopped.
“ Jake, I hope you remembered the………………Johnny.” Marcy said as she walked into the living room from the kitchen. “ Emma, you have a visitor.”
“ Hello Marcy. You look good. Congratulations on the baby.” Johnny said as Emma walked into the living room holding the baby.
“ Thank you. Did you tell him?”
“ Yes Marcy, I just told him on the way here. He knows it’s his son.”
“ I’m surprised you could be bothered to even come to town Johnny.” Emma said coldly.
“ Look, I didn’t come here to fight or cause problems Emma.” Johnny responded. “ I came here to spend Sunday with you.”
“ How many other women you been with Johnny?” Emma demanded.
“ Look, I’m sorry you’re upset I came here. Jake, I’ll come back another time.” Johnny said before turning to leave.
“ Johnny stop.” Marcy ordered. “ Emma, Don’t make the mistake I did. You let him walk out that door, you’re a fool.” Marcy said.
“ Johnny, come with me in the kitchen please.” Jake suggested.
Johnny followed Jake into the kitchen. “ What the hell did you do, tell her about Lori and me?” Johnny demanded.
“ What……..no. You know me better than that Johnny.” Jake responded.
“ Has Scott been around at all?” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah, I’ve seen him in town several times with the new school teacher Hope, Why?” Jake asked.
“ Because my brother has a big mouth.” Johnny responded.
“ I can’t help you there, but I can let you see your son.” Jake said.
“ Don’t you mean our son?” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah, come on.”
Johnny and Jake walked back into the living room. “ Marcy.”
Marcy walked over to Johnny and moved the blanket so he could see his sons face. “ Go sit down on the couch so you can hold him.” Marcy suggested.
“ I don’t……”
“ I was the same way Johnny. Trust me, he won’t break, and he’s no where near as small as he was the first time I held him.” Jake said.
Johnny sat down on the couch and held his arms out so Marcy could place the baby in them. “ What’s his name?” Johnny asked.
“ Samuel.” Marcy responded.
“ Samuel huh?”
“ Samuel Teague. Is that okay?” Marcy asked.
“ Yeah……… Samuel is a good name. He’s beautiful Marcy.” Johnny said with a quiver to his voice. “ So when did you two get married?”
“ Shortly after Jake came back from Yuma.” Marcy responded. “ He has your eyes, and hair. Scott said he asked your father and I guess you had hair like his when you were a baby.” Marcy said.
“ Scott’ been here?” Johnny asked.
“ He was here last Sunday with Hope after church.” Marcy said. “ He’s been stopping buy at least twice a month.”
“ I think your brother is getting pretty serious about seeing Hope.” Jake said.
“ Does he know?” Johnny asked.
“ Who Scott? Nobody knows but the four of us and Sam.” Marcy responded.
“ Looking at him, it’s not hard to see who the father is Marcy.” Johnny said.
“ Johnny, people are going to talk no matter what because I wasn’t married until after he was born. You think I let that bother me, no. I don’t care what others think about me.” Marcy said firmly.
“ I think he’s went to sleep on me.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ You always were headstrong.”
“ And independent.” Jake added.
“ Thank you.” Marcy said with a smile as she reached out to take the baby. “ You two are lucky I don’t shoot you both.” she said with a laugh. “ I’ll put him down for his morning nap. Emma, why don’t you and Johnny go up to your room so you can talk.” Marcy suggested.
“ I don’t think that would be a very wise thing to do Marcy. Not with Johnny.” Emma said.
“ Emma, I’m not going to tell you what to do, but whatever you decide, just remember only you can make that decision.” Marcy said before heading upstairs with the baby.
“ I think I’ll go help her put the baby down. I’ll see you tonight Johnny.” Jake said as he headed upstairs.
“ You knew this Lori long before you knew me, so I’m gonna say this just once. What you did and who you did in Yuma was wrong. Sam told me about the bullet in your back. Scott told me you’re not having it removed. That’s your right. What’s not your right Johnny, is to hurt me like you did. All winter I waited for you to come see me. Every Saturday night or Sunday I waited.” Emma said as she walked over to Johnny. “ You didn’t even come see me before you left. Course I guess you can’t be bothered with that, sneaking off in the middle of the night and all.”
“ From the sound of it, my brother’s told you a lot.” Johnny said right before Emma slapped him hard across the face.
“ Damn you. Scott shouldn’t have been the one telling me anything. It should have been you.” Emma said with anger as Johnny grabbed her arms and pulled her to him.
“ What do you want me to say Emma? You want me to leave?” Johnny demanded.
“ I want to know why you felt you needed to cheat on me Johnny? You told me that day in the barn that I was your girl only. That you learned from your mistakes with Marcy, now I don’t know if you cheated on her or not, and I don’t care. What I do care about is us and if I’m gonna have to worry about you cheating on me again.”
“ You have no claim to me, just like I have no claim to you. What we should have is trust Emma. Trust that I broke not you. If you want me to walk out that door and leave, I will. But just remember whatever you decide it will be your decision only.”
“ You got me out of a saloon and made me feel good about myself Johnny. You made me feel wanted, and I don’t mean the sex part with you either. I can never repay you or thank you enough for that, because god knows what would have happened to me if you hadn’t.” Emma said.
“ Just what are you saying?” Johnny asked.
“ Were you on the rebound from losing Marcy, or did you really want to have something with me?” Emma asked.
Johnny put his hands on her shoulders. “ At first I think it was. When I was in Yuma, whether you want to believe me or not, When I was in bed with Lori, I realized what you really meant to me. I know how that sounds.” Johnny said as he went over and sat down on the couch.
Emma went over and sat down next to Johnny, turning sideways so she could face him. What she seen in his eyes, she had never seen before. “ You’re scared?”
“ I have a bullet in my back that could end up paralyzing me whether I have it removed or not. I have a man in Green River who wants to kill me because he went to prison for five years because I stopped him from robbing a bank in San Angelo. A father who thinks you’re not good enough for me and disapproves of me seeing you. A brother I can no longer talk to. A son being raised by my best friend. So you tell me Emma, what the hell I have to be scared of.”
“ More than all of what you just told me, I think you’re afraid of commitment the most Johnny. You’ve been alone almost your whole life. You’ve never had someone to love. Not really, and I don’t count whorehouse women. You’re afraid to let Sam try and remove that bullet because you will have no control over how it goes. Your best friend is going to raise your son because he knows you would want Samuel to have a good life. The man in Green River you say wants to kill you, that’s his mistake. He’s not the first, and probably won’t be the last. And as far as your father goes, just remember, I’m headstrong and determined.”
Johnny leaned toward Emma. “ You think you know me pretty well don’t you?”
“ Yeah I do.” Emma responded. “ How about we go get a hotel room so we don’t disturb the baby.” she suggested.
Johnny rode into the Lancer yard Monday morning and dismounted. Handing the stallion to Walt, he went inside and found his brother and father talking. Teresa sat in her blue chair sewing.
“ Teresa, you can go see the baby any time you want Marcy told me to tell you. Course I’m surprised you didn’t go with my dear brother here since he’s been stopping there twice a month now with Hope since we got back from Yuma!” Johnny said as he poured a shot of whiskey and downed it.
“ Little early for that don’t you think?” Murdoch asked.
“ Nope. Tell me something big brother. Did you just decide out of the blue to tell Emma shit you had no business telling her that happened in Yuma?” Johnny demanded.
Scott stood up. “ I don’t know what you’re talking about Johnny.”
Johnny slammed his shot glass down and went to his brother. “ You’re actually going to stand there and lie to my face?”
“ Johnny, yes I’ve went over there when in Spanish Wells. Yes I’ve talked to Emma as I visited her with Hope.”
“ You sonofabitch.” Johnny said right before hitting Scott hard in the mouth. “ Don’t stand there and try and deny it. I’m not stupid. Emma told me what you said to her.
“ Johnny.” Murdoch yelled. “ That will be enough.”
“ Stay out of this Murdoch.” Johnny ordered. “ I thought I could trust you. I thought, wow I finally have what I always wanted, a big brother I could talk to, tell things to, keep secrets with. Boy was I wrong. You just couldn’t wait to tell Emma about Lori could you? Just like you couldn’t wait to tell her about my decision to not have the bullet removed. What you’ve done is the most unkindliest cut a brother could ever do. You betrayed my trust and I won’t ever forget it.” Johnny said before turning and going upstairs.
“ What have you done son?” Murdoch asked.
“ I was asked and I answered.” Scott responded.
“ Who is this Lori he’s talking about?” Murdoch asked.
“ I think I will go sit outside in the rose garden since it’s so nice.” Teresa said as she stood and headed to the front door.
“ She’s a girl at the whorehouse were Johnny was at. He’s known her and Dallas, the woman who runs the place for several years. Johnny slept with her. I confronted him about it and told him he would answer to me if he hurt Emma.”
“ Yet you felt the need to tell her about your brother and Lori, Why?” Murdoch asked.
“ Emma asked me if Johnny had been with any of the women while staying at the house. I told her I wasn’t sure.” Scott responded.
“ Your brother has a liking I’m afraid for the wrong kind of women.” Murdoch said.
“ With all due respect sir, Johnny hasn’t really known any other type of women until he came here.” Scott responded.
“ I want this matter between the two of you cleared up. I don’t want you two fighting. Is that clear?” Murdoch ordered.
“ It may not be that simple sir.” Scott said.
“ It’s past. Bad or good, right or wrong, it’s past and gone.” Murdoch responded.
“ You don’t give at all do you? All pride and Johnny’s cut from the same mold. Not one inch of give.” Scott said.
“ What do you want me to say? You want me to go up there and tell him his choice of women is alright? That I should allow him to bring that………….into this house?” Murdoch demanded.
“ It was alright for you to do with his mother!” Scott said harshly before walking outside.
Johnny only spoke to Scott when needed, and only about work being done. Several times Scott had tried to talk to him, and every time Johnny would ignore him or leave.
“ Why don’t we have Hope and Emma out for Sunday supper sometime?” Scott suggested.
“ Why, so the old man can tell me she’s not welcome at Lancer and order me to take her back?” Johnny asked.
“ No……..Look Johnny, we may have our differences and not be getting along right now, but you have just as much right to have Emma here as I do Hope.” Scott responded. “ I know you feel like I betrayed your trust Johnny, I’m sorry. Emma asked me if you had been with any of the women while in Yuma. I told her I wasn’t sure. It was Jake who mentioned Lori, not me. That’s as true as me standing here right now. I have no reason to lie to you.” Scott said firmly.
“ How come you didn’t come up to my room and tell me that?” Johnny asked.
“ Because you were pretty pissed off, and I didn’t want hit again. You can hit pretty hard.” Scott responded.
“ Yeah, I guess I can.” Johnny said.
“ Listen Johnny, I want to ask you something. I’m not asking this to start a fight with you, and I assure you, I have said nothing to Murdoch or Teresa about this……..Marcy’s baby, it’s yours isn’t it?”
Johnny dropped his hammer and walked over to the wagon to pull out another post. “ Yeah Scott, he’s my son.”
“ And you’re going to let Jake raise him because of your past. Because you want him to have a safe, stable life?” Scott asked.
“ Is that so wrong?” Johnny asked.
“ Not at all brother. In fact, I would say that is just about the most none-selfish thing a person could ever do. In fact, I think I know why.”
“ Oh yeah, and why’s that Boston?”
“ You don’t want your son growing up like you did. You want him to have two parents, not one growing up……..I’m proud of you for that Johnny.”
“ With this being Saturday, how about me and you play some chess tonight instead of going into town?” Johnny asked.
“ That’s the best offer I’ve had in a long time.” Scott responded.
“ Well I figured if I was going to go to church with you all tomorrow, I should get a good nights sleep.” Johnny said as he put the post in a hole. “ After I beat you at a game of chess.”
“ Where’s your brother?”
“ I believe he is talking to Father Micheal.” Scott answered.
“ Murdoch, have you seen the baby yet?” Teresa asked as she walked over with Marcy and Jake.
“ No I don’t believe I have.” Murdoch responded. “ Hello Marcy, Jake.”
“ Mister Lancer. This is my son Samuel.” Jake said.
“ Why would you look at that. He sure has a head of hair on him!” Murdoch said. “ He has hair just like Johnny did at that age. I remember Maria always saying she was going to cut Johnny’s hair off.” Murdoch said as he played with the baby’s hand. “ He has a good grip……Uh listen, I know what you are doing Jake, and I want to thank you. Marcy, I know I said some things in the past to you, I’m sorry. I could never do that.”
“ Why Mister Lancer, we have no idea what you are talking about.” Marcy said.
“ I think you do. Johnny is lucky to have a friend like you Jake, not many people would do what you are doing.” Murdoch said.
“ Mister Lancer, I know from what Johnny has said, that you don’t approve of Emma. Please give her a chance. She is such a sweet person. God knows what would have happened to her if Johnny hadn’t got her out of that saloon when he did.” Jake said.
“ I know. I’ve been pretty hard on him about her, but as some have graciously reminded me, I met his mother in a saloon.” Murdoch responded.
“ Why don’t you two bring the baby and Emma and come to Lancer for Sunday supper some time?” Teresa asked.
“ That sounds good. How about next month?” Marcy asked.
“ Wonderful.” Teresa said.
“ What’s wonderful?” Johnny asked as he walked up with Emma, Scott and Hope.
“ Everybody coming to Lancer next month for Sunday supper.” Murdoch responded. “ That includes you too young lady.”
“ Thank you Mister Lancer. I would love to.” Emma responded.
“ Johnny, what did Father Micheal say?” Jake asked.
“ Said he’d be glad too do it next Sunday after church.” Johnny said.
“ Good. Well I guess we better get this little one home so he can eat and take his afternoon nap.” Marcy said.
“ Yeah, we should start back to Lancer.” Murdoch said.
“I have some things I need to do before school tomorrow.” Hope said.
“ I’ll walk you to the schoolhouse.” Scott said as he untied his horse.
Johnny stood there with Emma as Murdoch and Teresa climbed into the buggy to leave.
“ Will I see you before next Sunday?” Emma asked.
“ If I can get away from work.” Johnny said before kissing her. “ I love you.” he said softly in her ear.
“ You better.” Emma replied back with a grin.
A shadow watched as a rider galloped into the yard. Seeing who it was, he stepped back down the hall into the shadows to wait.
Murdoch stopped the buggy and got down.
“ I wonder when Scott will be back?” Teresa asked as Johnny helped her down.
“ He seems to be getting pretty serious about Hope.” Johnny said.
“ She does seem like a nice lady.” Murdoch responded.
“ As opposed to Emma?” Johnny asked
“ No son. I didn’t mean it like that. I know I haven’t given Emma a chance. I’m sorry. I hope to get to know her.” Murdoch responded.
“ I hope you mean that.” Johnny said as he walked to the front door and opened it, letting Teresa and Murdoch walked in first.
“ We can eat in the kitchen Teresa.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Okay. Well the stew should be ready and I can whip up some biscuits if you want.” Teresa suggested.
“ Alright. That sounds fine. Me and Johnny can look over the new survey report while you do that.”
“ Johnny Madrid……………come on out and face me you back stabbing bastard.” Sundown yelled.
“ What the devil?” Murdoch demanded as he headed toward the door.
“ Murdoch don’t. It’s Sundown.” Johnny said firmly.
“ If you think I’m going to allow that man to come here and try and kill my son…….”
“ Stay out of this.” Johnny said firmly as he put his gunbelt on.
“ Johnny, you can’t go out there.” Teresa pleaded.
“ I’m waiting Madrid.” Sundown yelled. “ Or have you turned yellow?”
“ I have to Teresa, he called me out.” Johnny said as he walked over to the veranda doors and looked out.
Murdoch went to the gun cabinet and removed a rifle.
“ Murdoch, If he beats me, don’t.” Johnny asked.
“ I will not let that man ride away from this ranch if he kills you.” Murdoch responded firmly.
“ Come on out Madrid.”
“ If you don’t, it will be murder. I can’t go out there and face him knowing you will shoot him down in cold blood. I need you to promise me you’ll let him ride away from here if he beats me.” Johnny requested firmly.
“ Alright son…..I promise.” Murdoch responded.
“ I’m sorry you have to see this, both of you. All I ever wanted was to live a normal life when I came back here.” Johnny said as he opened the veranda doors and walked outside.
“ Bought time you come out here Madrid.” Sundown said.
“ You in that much of a hurry to die today?” Johnny asked as he walked over away from the house, closer to Sundown.
“ I’m not the one who will be dying today. Because of you, I spent five years in that Texas hell hole prison.”
“ Don’t much care for thieves or cowards.” Johnny said with coldness.
“ You should never had opened your mouth about what I was gonna do Madrid.” Sundown said.
“ It’s not to late for you to forget about this and leave.” Johnny said.
“ I ain’t leaving here until you’re dead.”
Johnny felt the sharp pain in his back and tingling down his right arm. “ You really think you can ride away from here if you kill me?” Johnny asked as the pain got stronger and the tingling spread to his right leg. Shifting most of his weight to his left leg as he prayed his arm wouldn’t fail him.
“ Murdoch, somethings wrong with Johnny!” Teresa said.
“ I see it.” Murdoch responded. “ Stay here.” he ordered as he went out on the veranda with the rifle. “ I’ll give you one minute to leave.” he yelled.
“ Got an old man fighting your battles for you now Madrid?”
“ I told you to stay out of this Murdoch.” Johnny said.
“ I can’t do that with what is happening Johnny.” Murdoch responded.
Johnny knew his father had seen him shift his weight to his left side as he struggled to stay standing.
“ You don’t look so good Madrid. Could it be that bullet in your back is bothering you?” Sundown said.
Murdoch heard a buggy approaching, looking he seen it was Sam with Scott coming under the Lancer arch.
Johnny could feel the sweat running down his back and face. Seeing Sundowns eyes change, Johnny knew he was going to draw, grabbing his colt as a bullet slammed into his left shoulder, Johnny tried to bring the colt up to fire, but his arm wouldn’t move.
Murdoch watched as Johnny went down. Seeing Sundown start to walk toward Johnny, Murdoch brought the rifle up and fired, hitting the man square in the chest, killing him before he hit the ground.
“ Teresa!” Murdoch yelled as he went to Johnny’s side. “ Just stay still son. Sam’s coming.”
“ I told you to stay out of it.” Johnny said before passing out.
Scott galloped into the yard and dismounted. “ Johnny!”
“ Help me get him up to his room son.” Murdoch said.
Scott picked his brother up and carried him inside just as Sam stopped his buggy.
“ Murdoch?” Sam asked as he climbed down.
“ I think he’s paralyzed Sam.” Murdoch responded.
Sam walked into Johnny’s room and set his bag down. “ Teresa, I’ll need plenty of hot water and bandages. Take my instruments down and boil them so they’re sterile.” Sam ordered as he laid his surgical instruments out on a towel then handed them to Teresa. Scott, start cutting that shirt off him.” Sam instructed as he handed Scott a pair of scissors.
Teresa wrapped up the instruments in the towel and headed downstairs.
“ What can I do Sam?” Murdoch asked.
“ Wait downstairs. I’ll remove the bullet in his shoulder and then see if I can remove the one in his back.” Sam said.
“ Sam, I can’t sit downstairs and do nothing.” Murdoch responded.
“ You can and you will. You have a dead man outside to take care of. Now go.” Sam ordered.
Jake rode into the Lancer yard at a full gallop and got down before his horse had stopped completely. Hurrying inside, he found Scott and Murdoch in the grand room.
“ How bad is it?” Jake asked.
“ Bad. His right side is paralyzed.”
“ Who killed Sundown?” Jake asked.
“ I did. He walked up to Johnny and was going to murder him in cold blood when he was laying on the ground. Johnny never got a shot off.” Murdoch explained.
“ I understand.” Jake responded. “ You care to tell me what happened?” he asked.
“ I just told you what happened!” Murdoch snapped back.
“ Take it easy Murdoch. Jake is just doing his job.” Scott said.
“ I need all the facts for my report Mister Lancer. A man was killed, and another wounded.” Jake said.
“ We came home from church,………… Teresa went to the kitchen to start lunch while me and Johnny went over the survey report when Sundown called him out.” Murdoch explained.
“ So Sundown was already here when you came home, or did he arrive after?” Jake asked.
“ How the hell should I know Jake? We hadn’t been home but a few minutes. I expect he was already here waiting.” Murdoch snapped back.
“ Was there anyone else besides you, Scott and Teresa here when it happened?” Jake asked.
“ I wasn’t here when any of it happened. Me and Sam were just coming under the Lancer arch when we heard the first shot.” Scott said.
“ Okay, so just you and Teresa were in the house with Johnny when he was called out?” Jake asked.
“ Why the devil do we have to do this now Sheriff?” Murdoch demanded.
“ Because I need to know what happened for my report I have to write up. I need you to tell me while it’s still fresh in your mind.” Jake responded.
“ Yes it was just me and Teresa when Johnny was called out. He made me promise to not interfere. To not kill that man if he lost. I’ll be damned if I was going to stand there and let him murder my son in cold blood.”
“ Will Johnny collaborate what you’ve just told me when he’s able to talk?”
“ What the hell Jake….You make it sound like my father murdered that man!” Scott said with anger.
“ I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that. Did any of your hands see what happened?”
“ No, I……….I don’t know if any of them did or not.” Murdoch said as Sam came downstairs.
“ How is he?” Murdoch asked.
“ He’s alive, but weak from the blood loss.” Sam responded. “ I was able to remove the bullet from his back. It was pressing against the subcostal nerve of his T 12 lumbar vertebra. I won’t know for a few days if the nerve was damaged or not.” Sam said.
“ And if it is?” Murdoch asked.
“ If it is, he will most likely have a paralysis in either his right arm, leg or both.” Sam replied. “ I want to keep him as still as possible for the next few days. I inserted a tube down his throat so we can get fluids into him to help replenish the blood he lost and build his strength back up.”
“ He won’t like that when he wakes up.” Scott said.
“ Doc, this paralysis you’re talking about, can it be permanent?” Jake asked.
“ Not always. They’ve discovered doing certain exercises and massaging the area helps. As well as hot and cold compresses called Hydrotherapy. Doctors have found it to be very therapeutic.” Sam explained.
“ I think I’ll go sit with him a while. Give Teresa a break.” Scott said.
“ Just a minute son. I think you better go to Spanish Wells and bring Emma here.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Yes sir, after I go see Johnny.” Scott responded before heading upstairs.
“ I’ll get her. You and Scott stay here with Johnny. I’ll bring Emma back here first thing in the morning.” Jake said.
“ Alright. Thank you.” Murdoch said. “ Sam, lets go get some coffee and you something to eat.”
Emma rode up to the Lancer house with Jake and dismounted as Scott came outside.
“ How’s he doing?” Jake asked.
“ Still unconscious. Sam said it’s best he not move around any more than absolutely necessary for a few days if possible.” Scott responded.
“ Can I see him?” Emma asked.
“ Of course. Teresa is with him now.” Scott said.
Scott waited until Emma went into the house. “ How did she take it when you told her?”
“ The look on her face, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a look like that before Scott. She didn’t cry, she hasn’t even asked me about the shooting. The only thing she did ask when I told her was will he live.” Jake said.
“ How about Marcy, how did she take the news?” Scott asked.
“ She’s concerned. Why do you ask?”
“ Because she was Johnny’s girlfriend, and she is the mother of his son.” Scott responded.
“ He told you?”
“ I knew before, but yes, Johnny told me. Not many friends would do what you are Jake.” Scott said. “ You know, when you did what you did with Teresa, I lost the respect for you I had because I felt you betrayed my brother, you betrayed his trust, a trust me and my father had in you also. I know now I was wrong. I owe you for saving my brothers life. If you hadn’t have gone to Mexico, Johnny would probably be dead. I’m forever beholden to you.”
“ Forget it. I would have done the same for you.” Jake responded. “ But only because you’re Johnny’s brother.”
“ About yesterday, I know you were just doing your job asking those questions. I’m sorry I lost my temper with you.”
“ So am I.” Murdoch said as he walked over to them. “ Have you had anything to eat yet this morning?”
“ No. Marcy and the baby weren’t awake yet when we left before daylight.”
“ Maria has breakfast almost done. Lets go in and have some and see what Sam has to say about our patient this morning.” Murdoch suggested.
“ Uh, Mister Lancer, Scott he wasn’t alone. I received this wire yesterday. Sundown killed the Sheriff in Salinas before he left there. Someone heard him talking with another man, who they don’t know, about coming here and killing Johnny as payback for San Angelo. Sundown was the only survivor sent to prison for that, so I have no idea who this other person could be.”
“ Damn it. How many people know about this?” Murdoch asked.
“ Just us, and Ben at the telegraph office. Why?” Jake responded.
“ Ben won’t say anything. The less people know, the better.” Murdoch said.
“ Jake, how many people know about what happened yesterday?” Murdoch asked.
“ Just the people here and Marcy.” Jake responded.
“ Let’s go have some breakfast and coffee.” Scott suggested.
Emma stopped outside Johnny’s room and took several deep breaths to prepare herself for what she would see when she stepped inside.
“ Are you okay?” Teresa asked as she came down the hall carrying a basin pitcher of fresh water and some small towels.
“ Teresa, how is he?” Emma asked.
“ Why don’t you come inside and see. Even though he’s still unconscious, you can talk to him. Let him know you’re here.” Teresa responded before walking into the room.
Emma walked into the room and stopped, and looked at Johnny laying on the bed with the blankets up to his waist, his left shoulder wrapped up.
“ What happened?” Emma asked.
“ Jake didn’t tell you anything?” Teresa asked.
“ He told me some of it.” Emma responded.
“ A man named Sundown waited until we got home from church yesterday and called Johnny out. He shot Johnny in the shoulder and when he was on the ground, he was going to shoot Johnny again, but Murdoch killed him. Johnny was never able to draw and fire his gun.”
“ What about his brother?” Emma asked. “ Was he with him?”
“ No, Scott wasn’t here when it happened.” Teresa responded
“ Not Scott, Sundown’ brother Emmett or something like that.”
“ He has a brother, are you sure Emma?” Teresa asked.
“ Yeah, Johnny told me about them when he came to see his son for the first time.” Emma said. “ How bad is it?”
“ The bullet in his back moved, Sam removed it along with the one in his shoulder. Johnny lost all feeling on his right side. Sam won’t know for a while if it’s because the bullet was pressing against a nerve, or if it’s permanent.”
“ Is that why he has a tube in his mouth?” Emma asked as she walked over and sat down on the edge of the bed.
“ It’s the only way we can get any fluids into him right now. I’ll leave you alone. Sam will be up later to check on him. Just keep him cool and call if he starts to wake up.” Teresa said as she went to the door. “ Emma, he’s going to pull through this.” she said before leaving and closing the door.
“ So how do we find out who this other man is?” Scott asked as Teresa walked into the kitchen.
“ Emma with Johnny?” Murdoch asked.
“ Yes.” Teresa responded. “ What other man were you talking about just now when I came into the kitchen?” Teresa asked.
“ There might be another man who came here with Sundown.” Murdoch replied.
“ Could it be his brother?” she asked.
“ Brother, what brother Teresa?” Jake asked.
“ I don’t know. I was talking to Emma about Johnny, you know, I told her what happened and who the man was and she asked me if his brother was with him. I thought she meant you Scott, but when I told her no, you weren’t here when it happened, she said she didn’t mean you, she meant Sundowns brother. I think he said his name was Emmett, or something like that. She said Johnny told her about Sundown and that it was weird he was in Salinas without his brother.”
“ I take it you didn’t know he had a brother?” Murdoch asked.
“ No. I was Marshal of Abilene when this happened in San Angelo. Johnny never said that much to me about it.” Jake responded.
“ Yet you knew Sundown in Salinas.” Scott said sarcastically.
“ I don’t much care for what you’re implying Scott. Yeah I knew Sundown. No I didn’t know he had a brother. I only knew him from working a job once with him and Johnny before I became a Marshal.” Jake responded firmly.
“ I didn’t mean to imply that you knew about the brother Jake. I’m sorry.” Scott said. “ It’s just that….to know that there is probably still someone around who wants to kill my brother.”
“ I know. I feel the same way.” Jake said. “I’m gonna ride back to Spanish Wells and send a wire getting a description of this other man. Someone had to have seen him. I’ll also check my dodgers and see if I have anything.” Jake said as he stood up.
“ You sit back down there Sheriff. I’m not letting you leave here until you eat some breakfast.” Teresa said firmly.
“ Yes ma’am.” Jake said as he sat back down.
“ Well it sounds lively in here.” Sam said as he walked into the room.
“ Morning Sam.” Teresa said. “ Would you like some breakfast and coffee?” she asked.
“ Yes please. I think I will go up and check on my patient. Since you all are down here, I take it Emma is with him?” Sam asked.
“ Yes. She’s been up there about an hour.” Teresa said as she handed Sam a cup of coffee.
“ I’ll be back down for that breakfast.” Sam said as he headed up the back stairs.
“ You can’t do this to me Johnny please. I don’t want to lose you. I can’t lose you.” Emma said as tears fell down her cheeks.
Sam stopped outside Johnny’s bedroom when he heard Emma talking. Hearing the unmistakable sound of crying, Sam entered the room.
“ Emma, are you alright?” he asked.
Emma turned away from Sam and tried to wipe away her tears. “ I’m fine. I was just talking to Johnny.”
Sam walked over to her. “ Listen to me young lady. I know you love that young man laying there very much. There is nothing wrong with shedding tears for him.” Sam said.
Murdoch stopped outside Johnny’s room. Hearing the conversation taking place inside both warmed and saddened him.
“ I owe Johnny my life. If he hadn’t got me out of that saloon when he did.” Emma said. “ He’s the first person who ever really cared about me. I love him so much.”
“ I know you do. Johnny can be a stubborn man sometimes.” Sam said as he started checking Johnny’s shoulder wound.
“ You know, all he really wants is for his father to accept him. To love him the way he does Scott.”
“ I know. Sometimes Murdoch can be a very stubborn man.”
“ They’re so much alike, Mister Lancer and Johnny.” Emma said.
“ Yes they are. Johnny growing up like he did, and Murdoch not having his son around to guide, and love while he was growing up…….Well, let’s just say, it’s not easy for either one of them. They’re both going to have to learn to be father and son.” Sam responded. “ I have noticed a change in Johnny though these past couple months.”
“ You mean since he learned Marcy’ baby was his?” Emma asked.
“ A baby can do that to a person yes, but no, that’s not what I was talking about.” Sam said. “ Help me roll him over on his side so I can check the incision on his back.”
“ When will he wake up?” Emma asked.
“ That looks good. No redness, the incision is closing up nicely. Okay, let him roll back.” Sam said. “ I would prefer he stay under a couple days, but knowing Johnny, I expect he’ll wake up when he’s ready to, regardless of what I want.”
“ When he does wake up, will he be able to move his right arm at all?” Emma asked.
“ The nerves are very tricky. Sometimes they can heal up on their own and you would never know they were damaged. Other times, the slightest thing can kill a nerve. We’re still learning about the human body, making new discoveries and cures every day.” Sam responded.
“ So you don’t know if he will or not!” Emma said as she sat down in the chair next to the bed.
“ No, I don’t. I’m sorry.” Sam responded. “ I’ll leave you be with Johnny now. I’ll have someone come relieve you in a couple hours.”
Two months after having the bullet removed from his back, Johnny sat in the rose garden, reading a book his brother said would help pass the time. Movement came back to his right arm and every afternoon for the past week he could be heard practicing out back of the house.
“ You got heavy steps Jake.” Johnny said.
“ I just wanted to see if you’d lost your touch was all.” Jake responded. “ I seen Scott in town yesterday. He said you wanted to talk to me about the shooting.”
“ Yeah, but not here. Take a ride with me.” Johnny said as he stood up.
“ Alright. I was wondering why that stallion of yours was saddled and tied out front of the house.” Jake said as they walked around to the front. “ Sam clear you to ride yet?”
“ I need some answers Jake, and you’re the one I can get them from.” Johnny said as he untied the stallion and mounted up.
“ Johnny, you’re not supposed to……….Oh, hello Jake.” Teresa said.
“ I’ll be alright Teresa. We’re just going for a short ride. I need to talk to him away from the house.” Johnny said as he turned the stallion and started riding away.
“ Don’t worry Teresa, I’ll watch him.” Jake said.
“ That east mesa section you wanted surveyed is done.” Scott said as he walked in and removed his gloves.
“ Good. Tomorrow you can start on that footbridge that washed out last winter.” Murdoch suggested.
“ I seen Johnny riding off when I was coming in.”
“ He hasn’t been cleared by Sam to ride yet. What the devil does that boy think he’s doing?”
“ Johnny has rode with injuries less healed than he has. It’s been two months.”
“ Which way was he headed?” Murdoch demanded.
“ They headed up the hill.” Scott responded.
“ Yes they, Jake was with him. Now if you will excuse me, I’ll go talk to Walt about that footbridge.” Scott said as Teresa walked into the room. “ Did you know Johnny rode out with Jake?” he asked.
“ Yes. Jake said he would take care of him. Johnny needs to talk to him about something, what I don’t know.” Teresa responded.
“ He has had something on his mind a lot since Sam let him out of bed.” Scott said. “ Has he asked you about what happened?”
“ No. I haven’t really talked to your brother that much.” Murdoch responded.
“ I told him what happened.” Teresa cut in. “ He asked me the other day. After I told him, he changed. He wouldn’t talk to me any more and said he wanted to be alone.
Johnny stopped the stallion on top of the hill overlooking Lancer and dismounted, dropping the reins to let the horse graze.
“ You know the old man told me once that he loves this ground more than anything god ever created.” Johnny said as he squatted down and pulled a blade of grass to chew on. “ Said he has a Grey hair for every good blade of grass we see on this ranch. What are you going to do to him Jake?”
“ I’m not sure I know what you mean Johnny.” Jake responded as he got off his horse.
“ I told him to stay out of it. That if I lost, I didn’t want him shooting Sundown. I wanted him to let him live and leave. Teresa told me what happened, what Murdoch did. It wasn’t him Sundown called out, it wasn’t him he drew on and shot, so as the law around here, I want to know what you’re going to do to Murdoch Lancer for the cold blooded murder of Sundown?”
“ Johnny, I did a full investigation, and decided your father acted in self defense. He killed Sundown because the man was about to gun you down in cold blood. You were already shot and on the ground. I would have done the same thing. Hell you would have done the same thing.” Jake responded.
“ What I would have done is irrelevant Jake.” Johnny snapped. “ Teresa said Sundown never pointed his gun at Murdoch.”
“ Why the hell didn’t you tell me he has a brother?” Jake demanded.
“ Who?” Johnny snapped back.
“ Sundown. I received a wire from Salinas. He killed Randy and he wasn’t alone.”
“What do you mean Randy’s dead?” Johnny asked.
“ His deputy in Salinas said he was gunned down in broad daylight in the middle of the street. He also said someone in town heard him talking to another man about coming here and killing you. Now I want to know about the brother. Emma said you told her about Sundown and said he had a brother. Johnny, the only reason I’m asking is, I gotta know if there’s another one out there just waiting to gun you down.” Jake said.
“ Hell Jake, as long as I’m alive you know men will come gunning for me.”
“ When are you going to accept the fact that you have a family now and people who love and care about you?”
“ You know why I can’t Jake!”
“ Johnny, you can’t change human nature. You can only be who you are.” Jake responded.
“I don’t even know who I am anymore.” Johnny said as he walked over to the stallion.
“ If that’s the case Johnny, then I think you should be asking yourself who you want to be.” Jake suggested. “ What can you tell me about the brother?”
“ He showed up in San Angelo about an hour after. I was filling out my deposition and talking to Randy when he walked into the office. Randy asked who he was, and when he said, I didn’t think anything of it then because of what he said.” Johnny explained.
“ What’d he say?” Jake asked.
“ He asked what happened, Randy told him, and then looked at me. Said it was bound to happen, turned and walked out.” Johnny responded.
“ What’s he look like?” Jake asked.
“ About like Sundown, ‘cept older, and he has a scar on the right side of his chin from a knife and a bad burn scar on right arm. He stayed around for the trial, then disappeared when they took Sundown to prison.” Johnny explained.
“ He never said anything to you from the time he showed up, until after the trial?” Jake asked.
“ Nope, not one word. I seen him in the saloon a couple times, but that’s all.”
“ Could be he was trying to talk his brother out of killing Randy. Maybe he came here to try and stop him from facing you.” Jake suggested.
“ Maybe. I’m not going to hide from him. If Emmett calls me out, I won’t refuse Jake.”
“ But you didn’t kill his brother, your father did.”
“ He comes after my father for it, he won’t live to see the sunset.” Johnny said as he checked his cinch and mounted up.
“ I’ll keep an eye out for him around Spanish Wells and Green River.” Jake said as he mounted up. “ Oh, Marcy would like you to come to supper next week.”
“ Alright. I’d like to see Samuel again.” Johnny responded.
“ You can see your son any time you want to Johnny. You don’t have to wait to be invited.”
“ We better get back. Don’t want the old man getting any madder than he’s already gonna be at me.” Johnny said. “ Oh Jake, just so you know, I’m gonna have a will done up leaving my third share of Lancer to my son if something should happen to me.”
“ You don’t have to do that Johnny. Besides, I don’t think your father will like that too much.” Jake said.
“ Don’t really care if he does or not. It’s his birthright.” Johnny responded.
“ Alright Johnny, if that’s what you want to do I won’t argue.”
Johnny walked into the grand room and found Murdoch sitting at his desk. “ Scott not back yet from doing that surveying?”
“ No, not yet.” Murdoch responded. “ Something on your mind son?”
“ Why’d you do it?”
“ Do what Johnny?”
“ Kill him when I told you not too.”
Murdoch closed the ledger book he was working on and leaned back in his chair. “ If you think I am going to stand buy and watch as someone kills you in cold blood, you thought wrong.”
“ Cold blood, isn’t that what you did? Didn’t you gun a man down in cold blood?”
“ No I did not. I killed the man who was going to gun you down in cold blood. He had already shot you and you were down, unarmed. Am I supposed to just stand there and let him walk up and shoot you?” Murdoch demanded.
“ I told you I wanted you to stay out of it. That I didn’t want you killing him if he beat me damn it.”
“ I’m your father, It’s my job to protect my children and I fully intend on doing just that.”
“ You know, when I took a ride with Jake the other day, he said I need to learn to accept the fact that I have a family and friends who care about me. Guess he’s right.” Johnny said.
“ I would have to say I’m inclined to believe him.” Murdoch responded.
“ He also said something else to me that applies to you also old man. You’ve thought of me as a cold blooded killer. Don’t try and deny it, because I know you have. Hell you thought I was with what I did in Mexico to the Deegan brothers. Just remember this Murdoch, you can’t change human nature, you can only be who you are. A part of me will always be Johnny Madrid, just like you will always be my father, the man who would kill, even in cold blood, to protect me.”
Murdoch stood up and walked around his desk. “ You know, your brother said something to me that I’ve been think about a lot. He said I don’t give at all. That I’m all pride and you are cut from the same mold. Not one inch of give in either one of us.”
“ Boston is pretty smart for an eastern dandy.” Johnny said with a smile.
“ Your brother has played peacekeeper between us a lot.”
“ Yeah, I’m pretty lucky to have him around.”
“ No matter what happens, stay out of this.” Johnny ordered as he watched a man walk into the saloon, stop and look around.
“ Johnny Madrid.” the man said as he walked over to the table. “ Or should I say Johnny Lancer?”
“ Emmett. I was wondering when we would meet up.” Johnny responded.
“ I heard my brother beat you to the draw because of a bullet you had in your back at the time. That my brother was walking up to murder you when your old man shot him dead. Is that true?”
“ What do you want Emmett?” Johnny demanded.
“ My brother was no good. I always knew he would get a bullet some day. So did our folks before they died.” Emmett said as he pulled a chair out and sat down. “ I’m not here to call you out. This your gringo brother you didn’t know you had?”
“ Excuse me, I think I’ll get us a couple more beers.” Scott said as he stood up.
“ I heard a strange rumor about you Johnny.” Emmett said as he watched Scott walk over to the bar. “ I heard you got yourself a rich family now, and I also heard you got yourself out of the game.”
“ You believe everything you hear?” Johnny asked.
“ Sometimes. Look, I hold no grudge against you or your father for killing my brother. I went to see him a few times when he was in prison, he was bitter. I tried talking to him, you know, telling him it was his fault he was in there and nobody else’, but he wouldn’t listen. He kept saying you were to blame and he would hunt you down when he got out.” Emmett said.
“ Where you there the day he was released?” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah, I was there. All he did was take what money I had and tell me to get lost.” Emmett said.
“ So what are you doing around here?” Johnny asked as Scott came back with three beers.
“ Why thank you. I don’t really know. I guess the only thing I’m sure of is I won’t do like my brother did. I won’t make a living by using my gun. That’s not me, not who I want to be.” Emmett responded.
“ You know anything about working on a ranch?” Scott asked.
“ Yeah, I worked for a big spread down between Corpus Christi and Brownsville for five years.”
“ King Ranch?” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah. The owners, well owner Richard King, hell of a fare man to work for. His partner I guess got killed by the husband of a woman he was having an affair with, anyhow, he hired me on and you’re treated good working for him.”
“ What kind of cattle he run?” Johnny asked.
“ Shorthorns, Herefords and some Brahmans. He’s thinking of crossing his Shorthorns with a Brahman bull, said it would give a better beef, more money for the pound.”
“ Brahman, that’s that kind that comes from South Asia ain’t it?” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah, he said he got them because they take to the Texas heat and humidity real good. They even fared better in drought than the Herefords and Shorthorns did. Least that’s what he said.”
“ Somehow I just don’t see Brahmans replacing Shorthorns or Herefords,hell even the Texas Longhorn.” Scott said.
“ Why not? If it can withstand the heat better, Brahmans just might be the cattle of the future Scott.” Johnny responded. “ Look how our Black Herefords are more docile and make better mothers that Red Herefords.”
“ Somehow I just don’t see ranches, especially Lancer having these Brahman cattle in the future.” Scott responded.
“ Sounds to me like you don’t like change.” Emmett cut in.
“ I have no problem with change, as long as it’s for the better.” Scott stated.
“ So you going to go back to Texas and see about working for this King Ranch again?” Johnny asked.
“ Yeah, like I said, the man is more than fare to work for, pays good too. Forty bucks a month, half day Saturdays, and holidays off.”
“ Sounds good. Tell me something though. How is it you know so much about my brother?” Scott asked.
“ It’s not hard to find out about Johnny Madrid, especially when he hangs up his guns and becomes a respectable rancher.” Emmett responded. “ Listen, I’m gonna take off now. Thanks for the beer Scott. Johnny, I hope it works out for you, I don’t want to hear one of those rumors is true some day.” Emmett said as he stood up. “ He seems a fair brother.”
“ Yeah, he’s not bad for being from Boston.” Johnny said with a smile. “ Keep your powder dry Emmett.”
“ I will. I’ll see ya around some day.” Emmett responded as he walked out the bat-wing doors.
“ Guess we should probably head back.” Scott suggested.
“ You think the old man might let us work half days on Saturdays?” Johnny asked as he stood up.
“ It wouldn’t hurt to maybe suggest it to him, though I highly doubt he would.” Scott responded.
“ How come you were so trusting to him?” Scott asked.
“ Trusting to who son?” Murdoch asked.
“Sundown’s brother Emmett. He came in the saloon last night.” Scott explained.
“ Because I knew he wasn’t a threat to me Scott. If he was going to do anything, he would have done it sooner. He’s a good kid. Just to bad his brother wasn’t.” Johnny responded.
“ Do you think what you did in Texas had any bearing on Sundown being like he was son?” Murdoch asked.
“ Me and him didn’t get along that good on the job we worked together before he wanted to rob that bank. A man’s destiny is his and his alone Scott. What that destiny is, only he can decide. Once you cross that line, there’s no going back. I chose to make a reputation for myself. To be the best at what I do. To live by my gun, but I never crossed that fine line. I stayed on the side of the law when I hired my gun out. Just like with you and the old man there. What the three of us are building together is a set destiny.” Johnny explained.
“ You know little brother, I don’t think I have ever heard anyone explain it to me quit like that.” Scott said.
“ It’s a trust and there’s nothing stronger than family trust.” Murdoch added.
“ Unless that family trust becomes betrayed trust old man.” Johnny said with a smile.
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