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Counterfeit Law by Nancy Marie

I don’t own them. I’m just borrowing them for some fun. All original characters belong to their rightful owners. Any others are mine and cannot be used without my permission.

This story will be Rated R for language and up to closed door romance.

Johnny Madrid Lancer
Scott Lancer
Murdoch Lancer
Teresa O’Brian
Frank – Lancer hand
Walt – Lancer hand
Jim – Lancer hand
Doug – Lancer hand
William Holmes – owner, C. O. D. ranch
Judge Rubin
Guard Jasper
Guard Simon
Sheriff Young
Deputy Carter
Thomas Smith – Marshal, Phoenix, Arizona
Anna Marie Aguilar
Reinaldo Aguilar – uncle
Thomas Aguilar – son

Word count: 18,715

Chapter 1

” Uh Mister Lancer? ”

” That’s me. ”

” Yeah. ”

” I’m sorry which one of you said? ”

” I did. ” they both said at the same time.

” You’re Johnny? ”

” That’s right. ”

” Then you’re Scott Lancer.”

” No ma’am, he’s no Lancer. My mother only had one kid, and that was me. ” Johnny said.

”Likewise. ” Scott said.

”Oh well we didn’t expect you both at the same time, but actually you’re right. It’s Mister Lancer that had two. ”

”Two what? ” Scott asked.

” Wives, and sons….You two. ”

Johnny looked at his brother and couldn’t help but laugh at the way he was dressed.

” There it is, as far as the eye can see. The most beautiful place in the whole wide world, Lancer. ” Teresa said an hour later as she stopped the buggy on the hill and let the boys look at what would become their heritage.

Murdoch Lancer watched as the buggy came into the yard. Walking over to his desk, he sat down looking at the two pictures in small frames. One of a beautiful blonde woman, Catherine, the other his second wife, Maria. A knock on his door had him open the drawer and put the photo’s away.

” It’s open! ”

Scott opened the doors and stepped into the grand room, followed by Johnny.

” Drink? ”

” No thank you.”

” You drink don’t you boy? ”

” When I know the man I’m drinking with yeah. ” Johnny said with anger in his voice as he removed his hat.

” You got your mothers temper…… got your mothers eyes. ” Murdoch said. ” Well I want a drink.”

” You got something to say old man…..say it! ”

Murdoch walked over to his desk, opened a folder and took out two billfolds. ” A thousand dollars each.”

Johnny walked over, picked up the billfold and counted the money.

” Come get your money.”

” I’ll settle for that drink.”

” You’ll do as your told! ” Murdoch ordered.

” Will I? ” Scott challenged as he walked over and picked up the money. ” Thanks. What do I call you? Under the circumstances father hardly seems…..”

” Call me anything you like. We’re strangers to each other. Maybe that’s my fault, maybe it isn’t. ”

” No apology necessary. ” Scott said.

” You’ll get no apology from me. If the air needs clearing, let’s clear it. ” Murdoch said as he walked around the desk and faced his oldest. ” Your mother’s family thought she was daft to marry me. Not a year off the boat from Inverness, and maybe they were right. You were born, she died, I left you in their hands, period. ” he said as he turned to face his youngest. ” A couple of years later I met your mother down in Matamoros. She……We got married. Two years later I awoke one morning and found her gone, you along with her. ”

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

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

” Why’d you want us here? ” Johnny asked.

” I love this ground more than anything God ever created. I’ve got a gray hair for every good blade of grass you see out there.” Murdoch said. ” I want your arms, legs and guts if you got any. ”

” Alright, say I come up with all these arms legs and guts you’re talking about. What do you come up with? ” Johnny asked.

” One third. ”

” Of what.”

” Everything you see out there. One hundred thousand acres, twenty thousand head of beef and the finest palomino’s in the San Joaquin.”

That was six years ago. Six years Johnny worked hard from sunup to sundown six days a week. Several times he had butted heads with his father. Now he stood on the platform in Sacramento waiting to board the train with his brother.

” Are you sure you have everything you will need? ” Murdoch asked.

” Murdoch, will you relax. You have asked us that at least a dozen times now. ” Johnny said.

” He’s just being cautious little brother. ” Scott said with a smile.

Scott and Johnny gave Teresa a big hug and kiss on the cheek and shook his boys hand.

” Alright. Have a good trip boys. I’ll see you in four weeks. ” Murdoch said as the boys climbed aboard the stage.

” Yeah, and it’s going to be a slow trip back. ”

” Heard me something interesting today while eating lunch in the cafe.” Sheriff Young said.

” What? ” Judge Rubin asked.

” Seems Bill Holmes sold himself an expensive bull. ” the sheriff said. ” Seems the man’s two sons are coming to get the bull. ”

” Is there a reason you’re telling me this? ” the judge asked.

” We could use two more young men. ”

” I want no mistakes made. You hear me? ”

” Yes sir. There won’t be any mistakes made this time judge. You have my word on that. ” the sheriff said.

” Just make sure nobody is around when you do it. Now get out of here! ” the judge said and ordered.

” You’ve been pretty quiet since we left. You okay? ” Scott asked as they headed east.

” Just been thinking……and remembering. ” Johnny said. ” Six years ago I would have told someone they were nuts if they told me I would have what I have now.”

” You know, growing up my grandfather never said anything about having a little brother. ” Scott said.

” Murdoch said my mother knew about you and she never told me.” Johnny said.

”  I heard one of the prisoners got out of line this morning.” the judge said. ” I want that prisoner strung up and made an example of. I want him whipped. ”

” If he’s whipped judge…..he won’t be any good to work. ”

” I want an example made to the others of what happens when they get out of line. If you can’t do that….I’m sure I can find another man to wear that badge. ”

” I’ll do it. I was just saying it will put us a man down until those two get here.”

” Take someone from town, just make sure he’s not someone who will be missed. ” the judge ordered.

” How about we get a room for the night, sleep in a soft bed, eat a good meal and most of all…..”

” Take a hot bath! ” Johnny cut in and said as he stepped off the stage.

” Exactly. ” Scott said with a smile. ” We can catch the next stage east tomorrow. ”

” Might as well. ” Johnny said. ” This damn bull better be worth it.”

” From what Murdoch said, this bull comes with papers telling his breeding going back a hundred years. ” Scott said as they walked into the stage stop hotel.

” Can I help you? ” a man asked from behind the counter.

” We need a room with two beds for the night and a hot bath. ” Scott said.

”  Very well, if you would sign the ledger. The room will be five dollars. Our restaurant serves excellent steaks and is open until ten. ”

” Thank you. ” Scott said as he paid for the room.

” Your room is on the third floor on the left at the ed of the hall. Let the bellhop know if you need anything and please enjoy your stay with us. ” the man said as he handed Scott the key.

” Where do you think the boys are? ” Teresa asked.

” They should be in Los Angeles, eating supper I imagine. ” Murdoch said.

” Why did you have both boys go? ” she asked.

” I sent Scott with Johnny because I figured they needed to spend some brotherly time together. ” he responded.

” Does it make you nervous sending Johnny down there so close to the border. ” she asked.

” I would be lying if I said it doesn’t, but he hasn’t been down there for six years, so hopefully he doesn’t have trouble. ”

Johnny and Scott dismounted and looked around. ” Man has a damn nice spread. ” Johnny said.

” Can I help you? ” a man asked.

” Scott and Johnny Lancer here to see Mister Holmes about a bull our father purchased from him. ” Scott said.

” Seth Johnson, I’m the foreman here.  I’ll take you to see him.”

Scott and Johnny followed the man into the main house.

” Wait here. ” Seth said before disappearing down a hall.

” That’s one big fireplace. ” Johnny said.

” I personally put every stone in it’s place. ” Mister Holmes said as he walked into the room. ” You must be the oldest son Scott who grew up in Boston? ”

” Yes sir. ” Scott said as he shook the mans hand.

” And you must be the long lost Johnny. I’m glad you made your way back home. ” Bill said as he shook Johnny’s hand.

” Can I ask how long you have known our father? ” Scott asked.

” I met Murdoch about fifteen years ago in Sacramento. ” he said. ” Listen, I would like you boys to join me for supper tonight, rest up and you can leave in the morning. ”

” Does this bull lead? ” Johnny asked.

” He leads and is a big baby. My youngest daughter raised him up. You can put a baby on his back and he won’t move. I can show you some of the calves he’s sired. ”

” Are you sure? ” the judge asked.

” I’m sure sir. They left this morning with the bull. ” the sheriff responded. ” What you want me to do with the bull? ” the sheriff said.

” Did you take a man from town like I told you to do? ”

” Yes sir. He’s about eighteen and strong. He’ll be able to do the work. ” Sheriff Young said. ” Maybe we should slack off taking people for a few months after these two sir. ”

” We stop when I say we stop. ” Judge Rubin said. ” Leave the bull. Now take your men and go get them two. ”

” I think Murdoch is going to be real happy with that bull. ” Scott said.

” Yeah, his calves look damn good. The yearlings have good muscle structure. ” Johnny said as he stood up and just stood there.

Scott noticed the immediate change in his brother. ” What’s wrong? ”

” Where not alone. ” he said.

” Indians? ”

” No. ”

” I got two Winchesters aimed at you! ” Sheriff Young yelled from the dark. ” You on the ground…..stand up real easy, unbuckle that holster and toss it away.! ”

Johnny stood still, making sure his hand stayed away from his colt.

Scott stood up real slow and looked at his brother as he unbuckled his holster and tossed it away.

” Now you….with your left hand…..unbuckle that holster and toss it away! ” he ordered.

Johnny moved slowly with his left hand, unbuckled the belt and tossed the colt over by his brothers.

” Now both of you get down on your knees and put your hands on top of your head! ”

” Why don’t you show yourself big man! ” Johnny demanded.

” Johnny…..just do what he says! ” Scott pleaded.

” Get down on your knees and put your hands on top of your head! ” the sheriff ordered.

Johnny looked at his brother then slowly got down on his knees and put his hands on top of his head.

Sheriff Young stepped out of the darkness with a deputy and walked over to Johnny. ” I don’t like repeating myself boy. ” he said before hitting Johnny in the gut with his rifle butt.

Johnny dropped to his knees and started coughing.

” What the hell have we done wrong? ” Scott demanded.

” Shut up boy! Put the irons on their wrist. ” the sheriff ordered as he went over to their saddlebags and started rummaging thru them.

” Stand up! ” a deputy ordered.

Scott stood up and held out his hands as he looked at his brother still on his knees coughing.

” I guess this one don’t hear so good sheriff. ” a deputy said before hitting Johnny in the ribs.

” Don’t damage the goods. You break his ribs, you might as well shoot him now. ” the sheriff said. ” Put the iron on him then go saddle their horses.”

”  What are you arresting us for? ” Scott asked.

” Cattle rustling. ”

” We bought that bull from William Holmes at the C.O.D. ranch. There’s a bill of sale in my saddlebag. ”

” And just who would you two be? ”

” Scott and Johnny Lancer. Our father is Murdoch Lancer. We have a ranch in the San Joaquin valley. ”

” How you doing? ” Scott asked.

” I’ll be alright. ”

” Shut up! No talking! ” the sheriff ordered.

” We have a right to know where we are being taken! ” Scott said.

” You don’t need to know where we’re taking you. ”

” We have a right to a trial.”

” You were told to shut up. ” the deputy said before hitting Johnny in the back with his rifle butt.

”  Jasper, got two more for you. ” Sheriff Young said.

” Good, we could use younger, stronger men. ” Jasper said. ” Get down. Simon, bring me a couple of leg irons. ”

Johnny and Scott dismounted and looked around the yard. Just outside the entrance to the right sat a small house, inside were three bunkhouse buildings for the inmates. At the far end of the yard they could see a barn and corrals with both horses and mules, alongside the corral fence were four freight wagons and two smaller wagons. In the middle of the yard sat not one, but two big iron boxes.

” Take the cuffs off them. ” Jasper ordered.

” Watch this one, he’s got an attitude problem and don’t like following orders. ” Deputy Carter said.

” I have no problem teaching new inmates the rules. ” Jasper said firmly as he walked up to Johnny. ” Especially half-breeds. What’s the charges? ”

” Found them with a bull and no bill of sale. ” Sheriff Young said.

” That’s a lie. We had a bill of sale for the bull until you burned it. ” Johnny said.

Jasper glared at Johnny as Simon walked behind him. ” Simon… this half-breed what happens when he speaks without permission. ”

Simon grabbed Johnny around the neck in a choke hold, spun and putt him on the ground with his right knee dug into his spine.

Johnny knew struggling wouldn’t do any good, so he mentally prepared his mind for what he was about to have done to him. Having spent six months in a Mexican prison where he was beaten  weekly before a Pinkerton man working for his father drove up in a wagon and saved him seconds away from a firing squad.

Scott watched in horror as Jasper put brass knuckles on his right hand, knelt down next to Johnny and delivered three quick blows to his ribs.

” Let him go. ” Jasper said as he stood up. ” The rules are simple. When that bell rings three times, you assemble in the yard in front of your bunkhouse. Do what you are told six days a week and we will get along. You buck against any of my men,……you will be punished.  What you just got is just a taste of what me or Simon can do to you boy. ”

” When Warden Miller addresses you, you will address him as boss and only speak when spoken too. ” Simon ordered. ” You will both find empty beds with your prison clothes, a blanket and pillow.  Once you are changed, you will come back out here to meet the warden. You have ten minutes.”

Johnny and Scott walked into bunkhouse and found two empty beds with prison issue clothes on them at the far end of the room.

” Are you alright? ” Scott asked.

” It’s not the first time brass knuckles have been used on me. ” Johnny said.

” Murdoch will be looking for us when we don’t show up. ” Scott said.

” Places like this have a way of making people disappear. ” Johnny said as he removed his pants and put the black and white striped ones on.

”  I want us both to get out of here…….alive and together. ”

” We will. ” Johnny said as they walked back outside.

” I am Warden Miller. I have been informed of your crime and the judge has let me know that your sentencing will be ten years hard labor. ” he said. ” You will work from seven in the morning to seven at night. You will be provided three meals a day and work in all weather. If at any time you don’t do your work, you will be punished. I run a strict prison camp and plan on keeping it that way. You cross me up……I promise you……it will be the biggest mistake of your life. ”

” You’re the one who made the mistake. ” Johnny said.

Scott started to say something, but dropped his head and sighed.

Simon walked up behind Johnny and hit him in the small of his back, dropping him to his knees. ” Get up half-breed! ”

” Put their leg shackles on them and get them in the wagon. ” Jasper ordered. ” Take them out and get them started digging. ”

” Mister Lancer? ”

” I’m Murdoch Lancer. ”

” Marshals Smith from Phoenix. ” he said as they shook hands. ” I’m sorry it took me so long to get here. ”

” Please….come in. ” Murdoch said. ” I’m hoping you can help me. ”

” Maybe you should start from the beginning. ” the marshal said.

 ” Six weeks ago my two sons went to a ranch in Arizona to bring back a bull I purchased from Bill Holmes at the C.O.D. ranch. They took the train to Tucson. They picked the bull up, but never made it to Tucson with it. ” Murdoch explained. ” I received a wire from Bill telling me they found the bull, but not my sons. ”

” I know that area. There have been at least two dozen men between the age of  eighteen and thirty just up and disappear in the last two years. ” Marshal Smith said. Rumor has it prison camps have sprung up in the mountains.

” Shanghaied.  Taken and falsely imprisoned. Some are sold as slaves to ranches across the border in Mexico. ” Marshal Smith said.

” I’m going with you. It’s my sons they kidnapped. ” Murdoch said firmly. 

” Murdoch do you…….Oh I’m sorry….I didn’t know we had company. ” Teresa said as she walked into the room.

” Teresa this is Marshals Smith.” Murdoch said. ” The marshal will be staying the night. Please set another plate and make sure a guest room is made p for him. ”

” Will he be helping you find Scott and Johnny? ” she asked.

” I’m going to try young lady. ”

” I seen you that day. ” Amos said. ” I seen you called out and gun down two of the best in Nogales. ”

” You got me mistaken for somebody else. ” Johnny said.

” I don’t think so. I know your last name isn’t Lancer. ” he said. ” It’s Madrid, and you’re going to be my ticket out of this place. ”

Johnny stood up. ” They won’t let you go. They’ll kill you. ” Johnny said before walking over to his brother.

” Something wrong? ” Scott asked.

” He knows who I am. ” Johnny said softly. ” He’s going to tell them thinking it will get him free. All it will get him is killed. ”

Scott watched as Amos walked over to Jasper and talked to him, both men looking at Johnny.

” Permission to speak? ” Amos asked.

” Speak. ” Jasper said.

” It’s about the younger Lancer. ”

” What about Lancer? ”

” I know his real name.”

” What game you trying to play? ” Jasper asked.

” It’s about the dark haired one, Lancer isn’t his name. It’s Madrid, Johnny Madrid. ”

” Madrid was killed down in Mexico some years ago. ” Simon said.

” Ask him if you don’t believe me. I’ll stake my life on it….He’s Johnny Madrid. ” Amos said.

Johnny glared at Amos.  He knew from the way Jasper looked at him that there would be trouble.

” They’re going to kill you. ” Johnny said.

” It’s you they’ll be killing Madrid. ” Amos said.

” Simon, assemble the prisoners. ” Jasper dismounted and ordered before heading to the wardens office.

Simon walked over and rang the bell three times and watched as the men walked out of their bunkhouses and assembled.

Warden Miller walked out to the yard with Jasper and stopped in front of the assembled prisoners. ” It has been brought to my attention that one of you is an impostor. If this is true, that prisoner will be severely punished. Prisoner Amos says he seen this prisoner ten years ago gun down two men with lightning fast speed in Nogales. He says this man is a known gunfighter down along the Mexican border. ”

” Lancer…..step forward. ”

Johnny stepped forward and mentally prepared himself for the punishment he would get.

” You have heard the charges prisoner Amos has made against you. Is what he says true? ” the warden asked.

” I used to be, but go by Lancer now. ” Johnny said.

” Jasper…Simon….string him up. ”

Grabbing Johnny by his arms, Jasper and Simon dragged him over to the two poles sticking out of the ground. Tying his hands to each pole, they pulled the ropes tight and tied them off.

” Make sure he understands. ” the warden said before going back inside his office.

Scott watched helplessly as his brother was whipped by Jasper until his head slumped down and he no longer moved.

” How old are your sons? ” Marshal Smith asked.

” Scott’s twenty six and Johnny is twenty three. ”

”Did both your boys grow up at Lancer? ”

” No. Scott’s mother died giving birth to him. Johnny was born at Lancer, but his mother took him from me when he was a baby. He grew up in Mexico. ”

” How come neither boy come home sooner? ”

” Scott was raised by his grandfather in Boston.  Johnny’s mother told him I threw them out. That I didn’t want my son because he’s a a half-breed. ” Murdoch said. ” Maria was murdered when he was ten. ”

” Grew up in Mexico, orphaned at ten, now twenty three. ” the marshal said. ” Bought the time I became a marshal, there was a kid making a name for himself below the border. A half-breed kid named Johnny Madrid. Now you say your boy came back home six years ago. That’s about the same time Madrid seemed to have disappeared. ”

” My son * was * Madrid, but he gave it all up when he learned the truth and came home. ”

” That could be bad for him if they learn who he is. ”

” What do you intend on doing to this Judge Rubin, Sheriff Young and his deputy? ” Murdoch asked.

” Send them to prison. ” Marshal Smith said.

Johnny sat listening to his brother and a new arrival, a kid not more than eighteen talking.

” How’d they get you? ”

” I don’t rightly know. I was drinking and having fun, next thing I know I wake up in jail and the sheriff says I’m coming here to serve twenty years, but won’t tell me what I did. ” Mark said. ” They take you two like they did me? ”

” No. ” Scott said. said.

” We had come to a ranch to purchase a bull. We were headed home with it when the sheriff arrested us and brought us here. The sheriff said a Judge Rubin sentenced us to ten years for stealing livestock. ” Scott said.

” Sheriff Young and that damn deputy of his, I’m gonna get them two. ” Mark said as Jasper walked into the bunkhouse.

” Lancer…..the warden wants to see you. ”

Johnny stood up,  and looked at his brother before walking over to Jasper, and out the door.

Jasper opened the door and shoved Johnny inside.

” That kind of treatment is not necessary. ” a woman said.

” With all due respect lady, you have no idea what kind of man this one is. ” Jasper said.

” He is my property now, therefore you will not abuse him. ” the woman ordered.

Johnny stood there looking at this woman about his height, slender build with long black hair down past her waist.

” I asked for a Mexican. ” she said.

” He’s a half-breed. ” Jasper said. ” He’ll serve your purpose. ”

” I am Anna Marie Aguilar. ” she said. ” Do you speak Spanish? ”

” Answer the woman! ” Jasper ordered before hitting Johnny in the small of his back.

” Do not touch him again! ” the woman ordered. ” Are you alright? ”

” I’m fine. ” Johnny said as he glared at Jasper.

” I want the clothes and anything else he had when you arrested him. ” she said before walking outside.

Jasper shoved Johnny outside where he found a man waiting with a pack-horse and two saddle mounts.

” Take the sorrel. ” she ordered. ” Give Reinaldo his belongings. ”

” All you have is one man to guard him? ” the warden asked as he handed Johnny’s clothes and gun to Reinaldo.

” Do not worry about what I have. ” Anna said firmly.

” Permission to speak? ” Scott asked.

” Speak. ” Jasper said.

” Where’s my brother? ”

” You mean that filthy half-breed…….he’s long gone. ” Jasper said with coldness. ” The warden sold him yesterday. ”

Scott’s heart broke hearing his brother was sold like an animal and taken into Mexico.  He knew Jasper was telling the truth and knew getting himself beaten or killed would do his brother no good. Silently he vowed he would search every inch of Mexico and find his brother again.


Chapter 2

Johnny sat with his back to a tree watching the woman and man she traveled with. It had been a week since they left the prison camp. Wondering why a a woman would buy a prisoner made him very cautious. Why would a woman buy a man from a prison. With just one man to guard him, he could make an easy escape, but something told him to stay with this woman. Stay and find out what and why.

” Stand up and hold out your hands. ” Reinaldo ordered.

Johnny stood up and held his hands out.

” The senora would like you to take a bath. ” Reinaldo said as he cut the rope that bound his wrist. ”  You will find a set of clothes, a towel and soap on a rock down by the water. Do not betray my trust and try to escape. I am an excellent shot with my rifle. ”

” What does she want with me? ” Johnny asked.

” You will learn your purpose when the time is right. For now, go clean up and then come eat some breakfast.” Reinaldo said before walking away.

Johnny walked down to the water’s edge and looked around before removing his clothes. Stepping into the cool water, he welcomed the feel on his aching body. Sitting down in the water he set to washing over two months of sweat and dirt from his body. Scrubbing his head and hair vigorously. Once finished he stood up and turned around to find the woman, Anna sitting there on the rock watching him. Figuring she was not the lady she pretended to be at the prison, he walked to were he was barely in waist deep water.

” A respectable lady wouldn’t be here right now. ” Johnny said.

” I am not a little girl. ” Anna said as she found herself wondering what he would look like with a shave and his hair cut. His blue eyes seemed to mesmerize her when she looked in them, but she also seen much sadness in those blue eyes.

” And you’re not the lady you pretended to be at the prison. ” Johnny said as he stepped out of the water and grabbed the towel.

” Does that shock you? ” she asked.

” No. ”

” You have many scars on your back. Why? ” she asked.

Johnny refused to answer her question. ” What do you want from me? ”

” You will find out when it is necessary. ” she said before walking away.

Murdoch and Marshal Smith rode into the yard of the C. O. D. ranch and were met by Seth Johnson.

” Can I help you? ” Seth asked.

”  Is Bill Holmes here? ” Murdoch asked.

” He’s in the house. ” Seth said. ” Who can I say is calling? ”

” Murdoch Lancer and this is Marshal Smith. ”

” Go on ahead Mister Lancer, marshal. I’ll take care of your horses. ” Seth said as they dismounted.

Murdoch walked up to the door and knocked.

” I’ve been expecting you Murdoch, Marshal. Come in. ” Bill said. ” I’m sorry to see you again under these circumstances. ”

” So am I Bill. This is Marshal Smith. ”

” Marshal. Can I get you two a drink? ”

” No thank you. ” the marshal said.

” I haven’t been able to find any sign of either son. ” Bill said. ” Seth has had the men keeping an eye out when out on the range.”

” The marshal knows some about what may have happened to them.” Murdoch said.

” It seems there have been that I know of, two dozen men between eighteen and thirty disappear in this area. I have my suspicions that some are being sold for slave labor in Mexico. Others  are forced to work in mines or end up in prisons as far away as Texas. ” he explained. ” We haven’t been able to prove the sheriff and Judge Rubin are involved. The disappearances started not long after they showed up. ”

” Those two came in and settled down in Mowry. ” Bill said. ” To be honest….I don’t think either the judge, sheriff or his deputy are the real thing. Nobody knows where they came from. ”

” You’ve had a long journey. Martha will have my backside if I let you two leave here tonight.  I got six men who will be riding with you tomorrow. ”

” I appreciate that Mister Holmes, but I can’t let your men come along.” the marshal said.

” Alright. Just remember, if you need my help. ”

” Get down. ” Anna ordered.

Johnny dismounted and looked around to see a few sheds in disrepair. A busted down corral with a milking cow tethered to a post. Across the yard was a house.

” The small shack over there will be where you stay. The roof is good on it. ” Reinaldo said.

Johnny turned and walked to the shack. Opening the door he found a cot against the back wall. A table and single chair was to his left in the corner with a lamp sitting on it. A small window on the west wall allowed sunlight into the small room.

” Make yourself comfortable. I’ll bring you something to eat later.  ” Reinaldo said. The door will be locked at night from the outside. ”

Johnny listened as Reinaldo locked the door.

” He’s secured in the shack. ” Reinaldo said. ” Treating him like an animal will get you nowhere. ”

” I have no intentions of abusing him……or giving him the chance to run away. ” Anna said.

” Run away……He had plenty of chances to run away coming here and didn’t. ” he said.

” Tomorrow is Sunday, let him rest, but I want him to start working first thing Monday morning on the corral. When he is finished with that, he can start on the roof of the barn. ”

” Shouldn’t we fix the roof of this house first to keep out the cold and rain before it comes? The barn can wait. ”

” I have made my decision. Do as I said and have him fix the corral and barn roof Monday. ”

Murdoch and Marshal Smith rode into Mowry and dismounted in front of the jail. Opening the door, they walked inside.

Judge Rubin looked at the door. ” What can I do for you marshal? ”

” You Judge Rubin? ”

” I am, and this is Sheriff Young and his Deputy Carter. ”

” I’m Marshal Smith and this is Murdoch Lancer. We’re hear to investigate the disappearance of his two sons three months ago. ”

” Three months ago. I’m sorry marshal, but I’ve heard nothing of two missing men. ” the sheriff said.

” My sons came down here to purchase a bull from Bill Holmes at the C. O. D. ranch. They picked the bull up, but disappeared shortly after. ”

” Maybe they decided to take the bull and sell it to someone else and leave. ” Deputy Carter said.

Murdoch swiftly moved over to the deputy, and grabbed him by his shirt. ” The three of you kidnapped my sons. ” Murdoch vented.

” Let go of my deputy Lancer. ” Sheriff Young ordered as he went to pull his gun.

Marshal Smith pulled his gun. ” Sheriff, let it drop to the floor and kick it over here. ” the marshal ordered. I suggest you tell us where they’re at. You’re looking at life in prison for the charges against you. ”

” Where are they? ” Murdoch demanded. ” Where are my sons? ”

” I’ll have your badge for this marshal. ” the judge said.

” You can try. ” the marshal said as he picked up the keys, walked over and unlocked one of the three jail cells. ” Inside judge. ”

” You have no authority to arrest me. I’m a judge. ”

” I not only have the authority……I have a warrant for your arrest for a murder you committed in North Carolina four years ago. ”

” You never told me that. ” Murdoch said once the judge was locked up.

” One thing I learned a long time ago Mister Lancer, never reveal your hold cards until the time is right. ” the marshal said as he locked the judges cell. ” Now….you two have some serious charges against you and they carry serious time behind bars. You’re both looking at possible murder charges, aiding and abetting, kidnapping, false imprisonment and extortion. ”

” I didn’t want to do it marshal. ” Carter said. ” They threatened to kill me if I didn’t go along with what they’re doing.”

” You little bastard. ” the sheriff spat.

” Inside Young! ” he ordered.

Young walked over to the cell and stopped when the marshal put a hand up and yanked his badge off his shirt, then shoved him inside. ” Okay deputy….talk. Just what are they doing? ”

” Just what you said. Kidnapping young men between the ages of eighteen and thirty and taking them to Warden Miller. Your two sons the judge sentenced to ten years for stealing livestock. They had the bill of sale for the bull, but the sheriff burned it. ”

” Where? ” Murdoch demanded.

”Texas Canyon. ” Carter said.

” Texas Canyon is a two day ride northeast of here. ” Marshal Smith said.

” Isn’t that where Cochise was captured? ” Murdoch asked.

” Cochise was captured in the Dragoon mountains which is close to Texas Canyon. ” the marshal responded. ” If they’re in Texas Canyon, it could take us months to search that area. ”

” I want my sons back. ”

” In the cell. ” the marshal ordered. ” Why don’t you go get you a room for the night. We’ll leave first thing in the morning. ”

” What about them? ” Murdoch asked.

” We’ll take them to the sheriff in Tucson. ”

” I brought you your supper and another blanket. ” Reinaldo said. ” This small shack can get cold.”

” Thank you. ” Johnny said.

” Anna…….she is a good person. ” Reinaldo said. ” As you could see, the place is in need of repairs. Monday we will start those repairs with fixing the corral. And the barn roof. ”

” Seems to me the roof on the house should be fixed first. ” Johnny said.

” It is and should as I have tried to tell her. ” he said. ” I will bring you some food to eat. ”

” You don’t have to keep me locked up. I give you my word I won’t run off. ”

” I wish I could, but Anna……she is the boss. ”

” We got trouble. There’s a marshal and another man here. ” Jasper said.

” A marshal… ” the warden said as he stood up  and walked outside. ” What can I do for you marshal? ”

” Where are your prisoners? ” the marshal asked.

” It’s Sunday, they’re in the bunkhouse. ” The warden responded. ” Who you looking for? ”

” My two sons, Scott and Johnny Lancer. ”

” We have no prisoners by that name here. ” Jasper said.

” He’s lying. Me and the sheriff brought them both here! ” Carter said.

Murdoch dismounted and walked over to the front of the bunkhouse. ” Scott……..Johnny! ” he yelled. When the door opened and Scott stepped out, unshaven, long dirty hair wearing filthy prison clothes.

” Murdoch! ” Scott said in almost disbelief.

Murdoch walked up to his son. What he seen in his eyes broke his heart. Reaching out, he pulled his son into a hug.

Scott couldn’t stop the tears from escaping as he looked at one of the two men he loved more than anything. When his father pulled him into a hug, he knew he wasn’t dreaming.

” I’ve prayed for this day for a long time son. ”

” It’s good to see you sir. ”

” Where’s your brother? ”

” Johnny’s gone. The warden sold him. ” Scott responded.

Murdoch spun around and went back to the warden. ” Where is my other son? ” he demanded as he grabbed the man.

” Take it easy Mister Lancer. ” the marshal said as he put a hand on his shoulder.

Scott walked over to Jasper, grabbed him  by the shirt and hit him as hard as he could. ” You sonofabitch! You both know who bought him and where he went! ”

” Stop him marshal! ” the warden ordered.

” Where’s my brother? ” Scott demanded before hitting Jasper again.

” I don’t know what you’re talking about. ” Jasper spat.

Scott became angry and started beating Jasper.

Murdoch and the marshal pulled Scott off Jasper. ” Simmer down son. ”

” Simmer down…..I’ll simmer down when he tells me where my brother’s at. ” Scott said as he tried to get free.

” Stop it! ” Murdoch ordered.

” Hitch up those two wagons. We’ll take them to Tucson. ” the marshal ordered. ” They can join the judge and sheriff. ”

Johnny stood with his chin resting on the small windowsill watching the sun set. Having no idea where he was, or even which state he was in. For the past two months he worked six days a week fixing everything he could around the place. Reinaldo always brought him his meals. A couple times he had seen her with a small child, a boy on the porch when he would come back from working in the evenings. For the past week he had been stringing wire and setting post around the property. Every day he thought about his brother, wondering if he was still alive, wondering if anyone was searching for him.

” Why do they keep you locked up in the shack at night? ” a small voice asked.

Johnny turned around and smiled. ” Hi. Who are you? ”

” Only bad men get locked up. ” the boy said.

” I promise you, I’m not a bad man. ”

” My  mamma said I was to stay away from you. ”

” If she told you that, then why are you out here? ”

” Because you don’t look bad to me. ” the boy said. ” Are you going to help my mamma make those men stay away? ”

” What’s your name? ”

” Thomas. ”

” Well Thomas, I’m Johnny. ” he said.  ” Where’s your pa? ” Johnny asked.

” Ma said he died when I was a baby. ” Thomas said. ” He bought this place for us. ”

” Do you know what your mother plans to do with the property? ” Johnny asked.

” Reinaldo said she should sell it and live in a town. ”

” Where would you like to live? ”

” Texas. That’s where Reinaldo said my pa came from. ”

” I’m not going home without my brother. I don’t care how long it takes.” Scott said firmly.

” Son…..Do I need to remind you we have a ranch back home? A ranch I have been away from for six months now. ”

” I don’t give a damn about the ranch. ” Scott snapped back. ” My brother is more important than a piece of land. You want to go home…..then go. ”

” I don’t appreciate your attitude boy. I’m just as worried about your brother as you are and want to find him. ”

” With all due respect sir…..I don’t give a damn what you appreciate. ” Scott snapped back.

” We have no idea where he’s at. ” Murdoch said.

” You mind Reinaldo while in town. ” Anna said.

” I will ma. ” the boy said as he climbed up in the wagon.

Johnny watched as the wagon left. Looking down, he seen Anna look up at him before heading into the house. It had been six months since he was taken from the prison. Six months of hard work six days a week fixing up her place and even though he wanted to leave and find his brother, he made a promise he wouldn’t run off. All the needed repairs now finished around the place, he wondered what she had in store for him with winter coming on. Finishing the windmill, Johnny gathered up the tools, put them in the burlap sack and climbed down from the windmill.

” Windmill is fixed. ”

” Thank you Johnny. ” Anna said.

” Thomas said the hand pump is acting up in the kitchen. ” Johnny said. ” I can take a look at it if you like? ”

” Thank you. ” Anna said. ” Can I ask why you haven’t ran off? ”

” Because I’m a man of my word ma’am. I told you I wouldn’t. ”

” I feel like I’m abandoning him. ” Scott said as they walked out of the Pinkerton Detective Agency office in Phoenix.

” We’re not abandoning him son. ” Murdoch said. ” They found him once son, they’ll find him again. ”

” I failed to keep my promise to him. ” Scot said. ” I failed to be his big brother and protect him. ”

” Son, you were wrongfully imprisoned. What happened was not your fault and there was nothing you could have done to prevent it.”

” I failed to keep him safe. They whipped and beat him. ” he said.

” Your brother is not going to blame you for what was done to him son. ”

” Westbound stage is leaving in five minutes.” the driver said.

” Let’s go home son. ” Murdoch said before boarding the stage.

Johnny found himself liking the time they spent together and started thinking about her more and more during the week. Her son reminded him of when he was that age. He liked teaching the boy things and often wondered why Reinaldo didn’t. Once a month Reinaldo went to town for supplies and took Thomas with him the first Saturday of every month. He noticed how she looked at him differently now.  An hour ago Reinaldo took Thomas and left for town. Walking to the house, he knocked on the back door.

” Come in Johnny. ” Anna said.

Johnny opened the back door to find Anna sitting at the table. Closing the door he walked over and sat down across from her.

” Has Thomas told you about his father? ” she asked as she poured him a cup of coffee and gave it to him.

” Thank you. He said he died when he was a baby. ”

” He was murdered by a man trying to steal one of our horses. ” she said. ” I haven’t the heart to tell him the truth. ”

” Sometimes the truth isn’t always best ma’am. ”

Anna stood up and walked over to the sink to look out the window. ” Jim and I met in Dallas. I was twenty and he was twenty five. It was love at first sight for both of us……We got married three months later and came west. He bought this place to try and make a home for us.”

” And Reinaldo? ”

” He is Jim’s younger brother. He feels I should not be alone out here.” she said. ” He wants me to take Thomas and go back east with him.”

” How do you feel about that? ” Johnny asked.

” I like it out here. Back east there are too many people, noise and sicknesses. ” she responded. ” He said he would stay, but as you could see, he’s not much help except with his nephew. ”

” Does he have feelings for you? ”

” No. He asked me once, but I told him I could never think of him in that way. ” she said. ” I have not been with another man since my husband died. ”

” What do you want? ” he asked.

Johnny sat there looking at her. His eyes taking in all her curves. The plumpness of her breast and the fullness of her lips. Standing up, h walked over to her. It’s been a long time for me too. ” he said as he gently touched her face. Rubbing her chin with his right thumb as his left hand started roaming down her arm, brushing against her breast, stirring him. Lowering his mouth to hers, he gently touched her lips with his before running his tongue over her bottom lip and then sliding it inside her mouth, tasting her as he backed her up against the counter. Moaning as he mentally forced himself to slow down.

Johnny watched as Anna got dressed three hours later.  ” What’s the hurry? ”

” I don’t want Thomas to see us together like this. ” she said.

Johnny got out of bed and walked over to her. ” So that’s it? You get what you wanted and now I’m not good enough to be seen with? ”

” I never said that. ” Anna said.

Johnny grabbed his clothes and got dressed. ” You didn’t have too. ” he said before leaving the house.

” Scott! ” Teresa yelled as she ran out of the house and into his arms.  ” Oh I missed you so much. ”

” I missed you too little sister. ”

” Where’s Johnny? ” she asked.

” Son, why don’t you go clean up and rest. I’ll tell Teresa what’s happened. ” Murdoch suggested.

” I think I will sir. ” Scott said. ” I’ll see you for supper. ”

Teresa, with tears in her eyes went to Murdoch and hugged him. ” Is Johnny dead? ” she asked as they walked into the house.

” It’s a long story sweetheart. ” Murdoch said. ” How have you been? ”

” I’ve been alright. Worried about you and the boys. ” she said. ” Frank and Walt have been doing a good job running things. ”

” Good, good. I knew I could count on them. ” he said.  ” Sit down. ”

Teresa walked over and sat down.

Johnny finished hammering the cross into the ground and threw the shovel down.

” Why would the Indians do such a thing Johnny? ” Thomas asked with tears in his eyes.

Four hours ago Johnny and Thomas came back from fishing to find Reinaldo laying in the yard dead. He found Anna in the barn naked and dead. ” I don’t know. ” he said as he walked over to the boy. ” We need to get out of here before they come back. ”

” What will happen to me now? You are the only person I know. I have no family. ”

” You’ll stay with me. ” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle.

” Where do we go? ” the boy asked.

” Thomas, I have a home and family in California. We’ll go there. ” Johnny said.

” There it is Thomas. From her all the way to those mountains in the distance, Lancer. ” Johnny said.

” It’s so big. ” the boy said.

” One hundred thousand acres. It will be your home now. ”

” Will your father and brother want me? ”

” Of course they will. ” Johnny said. ” Let’s go home. ”

Teresa walked out of the house and stopped as two riders approached the house. She could tell one of them was a child, the other one with shoulder length hair and a beard. ” Hello. Can I help you? ” she asked.

” Hello querida. ” Johnny said softly as he dismounted and walked up to her.

Tears immediately welled up in Teresa’s eyes as she watched the rider dismount. Once she looked into his eyes, she knew it was him.

” You gonna just stand there? ” Johnny asked.

Teresa squealed as she wrapped her arms around Johnny’s neck and hugged him tightly. ” Murdoch……come out here! ” she yelled.

” Oh I missed you. ” Johnny said.

Murdoch hurried out of the house thinking something was wrong, stopping when he seen Teresa hugging a man.

” Murdoch, he came home. ” she said. ” It’s Johnny. ”

” Johnny! ” Murdoch said softly as he looked at his youngest standing there with shoulder length hair and a beard.

” Murdoch. ” Johnny said with a quiver to his voice.

Murdoch stepped closer to his youngest as a tear ran down his cheek. Grabbing Johnny’s arms, he pulled him into a hug. ” Thank God. I told Scott you would come home. ”

Johnny welcomed the feel of his father’s strong arms around him as he hugged him back. ” Scott? ”

” He went to town to check the mail. ” Murdoch said as he finally let his son go.

Johnny turned and walked over to the child. ” Murdoch, Teresa, this is Thomas. He’s going to be living with us. ”

” Hello señor, senorita. ” Thomas said.

” Let’s go inside. ” Murdoch said. ” You look tired. ”

” We are. It’s been a long ride. ” Johnny said as they walked into the house.

” This is your hacienda? ” Thomas asked. ” Johnny, I have never been in a room so big. ”

” Teresa, would you take Thomas in the kitchen? ” Johnny asked.

” Sure. I’ made some cookies this morning. ” she said.

” It’s alright. You go on with Teresa. ”

Murdoch walked over to the sideboard poured two shots of whiskey, handing his son one. ” I know everything that happened up to you being sold son. ” he said as they walked over and sat down. ” We looked with a marshal for you for months. I have the Pinkertons looking for you now. ”

” Thanks. I don’t even know how long I’ve been gone. ”

” Almost a year. ”

” I would pray every day that Scott was still alive and you would find him. ”

” Son, who’s the boy? ”

” He’s Anna’s son. ” Johnny said. ” She’s the woman who bought me. Two months ago me and Thomas came back to find Apaches had killed his mother and uncle. He has no family. His father was killed by a horse thief when he was a baby. I couldn’t leave him at an orphanage. ”

” I can understand that to a point son, but do you think it was wise? ”

” I know what you’re getting at Murdoch and though she bought me, she saved my life. ” Johnny said. ” They would have killed me in that prison. ”

” Can I ask why you didn’t leave her sooner? ”

” I could have, but I gave her my word I wouldn’t run away. ” Johnny responded. ” Thomas doesn’t know she bought me and I don’t want him knowing. ”

” What do you plan on doing with him son? ”

” I promised him he could live here with us and I’ll do whatever I have to do to keep that promise. ”

” We’ll have to make it legal son. I’ll have Randall come out here so we can find out what we have to do to adopt the boy. ” he said. ” You’ll probably have to talk to a judge, the boy too. ”

” Thanks. If you don’t mind, I think I will go take a hot bath and shave. ”

Scott walked into the grand room. ” There wasn’t any mail. ”

” Hello Boston. ”

Scott turned around to see his little brother standing there. ” Johnny! ”

Johnny walked over to his brother. ” I never thought I would see you again. ”

Scott pulled his brother into a hug as tears ran down his cheeks. ” I felt the same way little brother. ”

” Super is ready. ” Teresa said.

” Well who is this? ” Scott asked as Thomas came downstairs.

” You must be Boston? ” the boy asked. ” Johnny has told me much about you. ”

” Scott, this is Thomas. ” Johnny said. ” He’s going to be living with us. ”

” Good morning Mister Lancer. ” Thomas said.

” Good morning Thomas. Did you sleep well? ” Murdoch asked.

” Oh yes. I have never slept in a room or bed so big. ” the boy said.

” Morning Murdoch, Thomas. ” Scott said as he came into the kitchen. ” Teresa. ”

” Son. I need you to make sure the men start rounding up for branding today. ”

” Yes sir. Is Johnny awake yet? ”

” No, he hasn’t been down yet. ” Murdoch said. ” He was out in the barn pretty late last night with Barranca. ”

” Who is Barranca? ” Thomas asked.

” Barranca is Johnny’s horse.  He caught, broke and trained him five years ago. ” Scott said. ” He’s very special to Johnny. ”

” I have never had a horse of my own. My mother………she thought I was to young. ” the boy said. ” Johnny he teaches me how to ride and do other things.  Johnny, he did not sleep much on the trail. He worried much but would not tell me what. ”

” Let him sleep. Teresa, you can fix him something to eat when he wakes up. ” Murdoch said.

” You riding into town to see Randall this morning. ” Scott asked.

” No, I’ll send word I need  him to come out here. ”

” From what you and Johnny tell me, the boy has no living relatives to go to, so he would have to go to an orphanage. ”

” No! ” Johnny said firmly.

” Johnny wants to adopt the boy. ” Murdoch said.

” Alright, but that may not be possible. ” Randall said.

” Why? ” Johnny asked.

” Several reason. Your past being one. The judge will want to know everything about you, including your past John. He’ll talk to the boy alone and see what he wants. ” he explained. ” I don’t have a problem with it. I know the boy would be better off living here, but your past and… the boy came into your life may prevent that from happening. ”

” You said several reasons. ” Johnny said.

” I can’t represent you on this John. It would be a conflict of interest because I work for your father. ” Randall explained.

” Then I’ll adopt the boy. ” Murdoch said firmly. ” I know how important this is to my son. ”

” Johnny, you said this happened in Mexico. Where exactly? ”

” I was never permitted to go to town. ” he responded. ” The first town we came too when we left was Rio Doloroso. ”

” Is that a problem? ” Murdoch asked.

” I’m afraid it could be for Johnny. ” Randall said. ” Johnny, did you tell any lawman about what happened? ”

” No. I stayed away from towns along the border. ” Johnny responded.

” What are you getting at Randall? ” Murdoch demanded.

” There’s nobody but the boy to corroborate what he’s told me. ”

” Now see here. If you’re implying that Johnny……”

” I’m just stating what the judge may ask Murdoch. ” Randall cut in and said. ” Johnny, what proof do you have it was Apaches who killed his mother? ”

” I know where you’re going with this. You think I killed her to get back at her for buying me. ”

” It’s something that could come up. Something else that could come up is he has no wife. ” Randall said.

” A wife? ” Johnny asked harshly.

 ” Look, I’ll draw up the papers and present them to Judge Sawyer. It will probably be spring when he can hear this case. ” Randall said.

” And this judge, he is the one who decides if I can live with you? ” Thomas asked.

” Yes. ” Johnny said. ” Thomas, there’s a part of my past you don’t know about and that part could keep me from adopting you. ”

” Does this have anything to do with my mother buying you from the prison? ” he asked.

” You know about that? ”

” I heard her and my uncle fighting about it many nights when she thought I was asleep. ”

” That’s part of it. See there are no witnesses to how your mother and uncle died. I have no proof they were killed by Apaches and I never went to the Rurales in Mexico or the law in Arizona. ” Johnny explained.

” But we were fishing when it happened. ”

” We know that, but the judge doesn’t. He only has what we tell him. ”

” I will tell this judge you did not kill them, and I will tell him I want to live with you. I don’t want to go to an orphanage or live with strangers. ” Thomas said firmly.

” Tell him the truth. Thomas, never tell a lie to anyone okay. Lies can cause trouble hurt someone, or worse. ” Johnny said.

” I never lie Johnny. My mother told me the same thing. I will tell the judge the truth when I see him. ”

” Let’s ride over to Black Mesa. There’s mustangs there and there should be some foals with them now. ” Johnny suggested.

” He’s changed. ” Teresa said.

” He’s been thru a lot this past year sweetheart. We just need to give him time. ” Murdoch said.

” Do you think the judge will let Johnny adopt Thomas? ” she asked.

” I don’t know. His past could hurt him on this, but more than that…..he never went to the law about what happened. ” Murdoch said. ” Sometimes that boy just doesn’t think. ”

” I’m sure Johnny had his reasons. ” she said.  ” He was below the border and you know how the Rurales feel about him. ”

” I never should have let him go. ” Murdoch said as he stood up and walked over to look out the window. ” I never should have bought that damn bull. ”

” Murdoch….it’s not your fault. You had no way of knowing what would happen. ” Teresa said.

” It changed my son. I can see it in his eyes. ”

” Changed him how? ”

” When I look in his eyes….I see defeat. ”

” Maybe when he’s allowed to adopt Thomas, he’ll go back to the Johnny we all know and love. ” she said.

” Maybe. ”

” Just hold on. I ain’t hurting your damn calf. ” Johnny said as he tried freeing a calf from a mud bog. The mother storming around, tossing her head as her calf continued to bellow. Picking the calf up, he made his way to the edge of the mud and started to set the calf down when the angry mother charged, hitting him in his right side, knocking him down, making the calf bellow again. Letting the calf go, Johnny seen the mother coming at him again with her head down. Stuck in the mud and unable to move just as the cows head connected with his leg, her horn piercing his right thigh picking him up and tossing him in the air. Landing on hard ground, he struggled to breath, certain she broke ribs he knew he needed help. Taking out his pistol he rolled onto his back and fired three shots.  Trying to sit up to check his leg caused him pain in his chest, Pain he had to block out. He could smell the blood and knew the wound was bad. Needing to put a tourniquet on his leg, he undid his belt and pulled it out just as his brother rode up.

Scott topped the hill to see his brother on the ground. Riding down he quickly dismounted and went to his brother as Walt and Frank rode up. ” Walt, go get Sam, he’s been gored in his right thigh. ” Scott yelled. ” Frank, go back to the ranch and get a wagon out here fast. ”

Scott grabbed his belt and wrapped it around Johnny’s leg just above the wound.

” Hey brother. ” Johnny said. ” She got me good. ”

” Just stay still. ” Scott ordered.

” She hit me in the chest with her head and then got my leg. ” Johnny said between breaths.

” She hit you in the chest? ”

” Yeah. I went airborne while her horn was in my leg. ”

” You just stay still and take slow shallow breaths brother. Frank will be here soon with the wagon and Sam will fix you up. ” Scott said. ” Just hang on. ”

” This is a bad wound. ” Sam said. ” Full of mud. ”

Sam removed Johnny’s shirt and seen the horrible dark blue and purple bruise already showing on the right side of his chest. Gently feeling his ribs he could feel three broken ribs.

” Sam. ” Murdoch said as he walked into the room.

” A cow got him bad Sam. ” Scott said and then told him what Johnny said happened before passing out.

” That explains the horrible bruise on the right side of his chest. ” Sam said.

” Will he live? ” Murdoch asked.

” I don’t know. He’s lost a lot of blood. Now get out of here so me and Teresa can get to work on his leg. ” Sam ordered.

” I don’t want Teresa helping you on this wound. I’ll stay. ” Murdoch said.

” No you won’t. I want Teresa helping me. Now……get out. ” Sam ordered. ” Scott, bring me more hot water and bandages. ”


Chapter 3

” Mister Lancer, is Johnny going to be okay? ” Thomas asked.

” He’ll be alright Thomas. ” Scott said. ” But he’s going to take a long time to heal up from this wound. He’s going to be stuck in bed for some time. ”

” You can help take care of Johnny. ” Murdoch said. ” He’s very stubborn about following orders. Especially when it comes to healing up.”

” I will help him……but what if the judge comes while he is sick? ”

” Judge Sawyer will have to understand what has happened. ” Murdoch said.

” You know this man? ” the boy asked as Sam came downstairs.

” Sam? ” Scott said.

” Thomas, go on outside while we talk to the doctor. ” Murdoch ordered.

” No, I want to stay and hear what the doctor says about Johnny. ” Thomas said firmly.

” Do as you’re told young man! ”

” Murdoch, the boy has a right to hear. ” Sam said.

” I agree. ” Scott added.

” Johnny has three broken ribs on his right side, and very bad bruising on his chest because of it. We have learned that cold compresses applied to the area once the bruise is established, help diminish it. That’s something you Thomas can help Teresa do four times a day. ” Sam explained.

” I will help do whatever she tells me to do doctor. ” he said.

 ” Now, the wound in his leg, though it’s deep, it didn’t break the bone, but it did damage that may not heal up proper. By that I mean he could end up walking with a limp the rest of his life. ”

” So he won’t lose the leg Sam? ” Murdoch asked.

” No. Once I cleaned all the mud out, I was able to sew up the torn muscles, but the flesh will take time to heal and grown back. I’ll warn you, it’s an ugly wound when you change the bandage, which will have to be done three times a day at least until it stops leaking. ” Sam responded. ” He’s not going to be able to get out of bed and put any weight at all on that leg for several months and knowing how stubborn that boy can be about following my orders. ”

” We’ll keep him in that bed Sam, even if I have to tie him to it. ” Murdoch said firmly.

” Can we see him? ” Scott asked.

” You can. I don’t know how long he will stay unconscious. The next forty eight hours he will need to be watched around the clock for signs of infection and fever. ” Sam responded.

” Son, I need to talk to Sam, so why don’t you take Thomas upstairs to see Johnny. ” Murdoch suggested.

” Alright. ” Scott said. ” Come on Thomas. ”

” What’s on your mind Murdoch? ” Sam asked as he walked over and sat down.

” The boy and Johnny. We have a meeting coming up with Judge Sawyer about Johnny or me adopting the boy. ”

” I heard a rumor in town to that affect. ” Sam said.

” A rumor. That’s the last thing that boy needs going around. It could bring him trouble he doesn’t need. ” Murdoch said. ” Especially since he’s going to be laid up for a long time. ”

” He hasn’t been called out in years though. ” Sam said. ” Do you think he will again? ”

” There’s always that chance Sam. ”

” I have a couple other patients I need to see today. I’ll be back this evening. Keep an eye on him for signs of infection or fever. ” Sam said as he stood up and headed to the door. ” I see he’s been whipped again with what looks like a cat of nine tails whip. Slave owners favored it over a regular whip for the horrible marks it leaves. Murdoch, this is the worse injury John has ever had. This could bother him later. ”

” How so? ”

Sam climbed up in his buggy. ” He may hesitate or even never be able to get on the ground again around a cow. I’m not saying that will happen. I’m just saying it could. ”

” I’ll keep it in mind Sam. Thank you. ”

” He’s so pale. ” Thomas said.

” He lost a lot of blood. Because of that he’s weak and probably will be unconscious for a day or two Sam said. ” Teresa explained.

” The doctor said I could help you take care of him. He said something about cold compresses. ” Thomas said.

” You can help me change his bandage also, but I need to warn you, it’s ugly. ” she said.

” I have seen ugly. I seen what the Apaches did to my mother and uncle. There is nothing uglier than that. ” he said.

Teresa looked at Scott with shock. ” I need to leave the room for a few minutes, can you sit with him while I’m gone? ”

” I will watch him for you. ”

Scott followed Teresa out of the room. He knew why she had to leave the room. ” Teresa. ” he said once downstairs.

Teresa turned and had tears in her eyes. ” He’s just a boy. I knew Johnny found them, but I didn’t know Thomas seen their bodies. ”

” Thomas found his mother in the barn when Johnny went to check the house for her. ” Scott said. ” Come here. ”

Teresa let the tears fall as Scott held her tight. ” It will be okay. ” he said softly as he rubbed her back.

” What’s wrong? ” Murdoch asked when he came in.

Scott told him what happened.

” I’m alright. I was just shocked hearing Thomas say that. ” she said as she dried her face.

” Go get some rest so you can take care of Johnny later. ” Murdoch ordered.

Scott watched her walk away before speaking. ” We have that contract to deliver four hundred head of beef to Fort Bowie. We have to leave in two months on. Johnny was looking forward to taking Thomas on. ”

” It’s clear he won’t be able to go now. Your brother won’t be able to ride a horse for some time. Once he’s allowed out of bed, he’s going to be on crutches. ” Murdoch said. ” He’ll have to stay here and run the ranch. ”

Johnny opened his eyes a week later to find Scott sitting next to the bed reading a book. ” Hey. ” he said hoarsely.

Scott put his book down. ” Hey yourself. We were beginning to wonder when you would wake up. ”

” My chest hurts like hell. ” Johnny said.

” She busted three ribs. Sam has you wrapped up tight. ” Scott said as he poured some water and helped him sit up enough to drink it.

” Thanks. So how bad is it? ”

” It’s bad. You still have your leg, but I’m afraid you are stuck in bed for at least a month, maybe longer for it to close up, and…..Sam said you won’t be riding a horse for a long time. ”

” Damn cow. I should have put a bullet in her. ” Johnny said. ” I was going to after she attacked me the first time, but I wasn’t fast enough before she gored me and tossed me in the air. ”

” You lost a lot of blood little brother, a lot of blood. Thomas was very concerned for you when he seen how pale you were. ” he said. ” He’s been helping Teresa take care of you during the day. Me and Murdoch have been splitting the nights. ”

” What time is it? ”

” About two in the morning. Sam wanted one of us with you t all times to make sure you didn’t get a fever or infection. ”

” Did I? ”

” Not this time brother. ”

” Damn….laid up that long means I can’t go on the drive with you. ”

” It does. I’m sorry Johnny. ”

” I promised Thomas he could go on it. How am I going to tell him he can’t go Scott? ”

” He could go with me if you like. He can ride in the chuck wagon and help the cook. ”

” Really? ”

” Yes really. Me and Murdoch have already discussed it, and he said the boy could go.” Scott said. ” Why don’t you get some rest. I’ll be right here.”

” Scott…..I want you to know I don’t blame you for what happened to me in that prison. There was nothing you could do to stop it. ” Johnny said.

” I failed to keep my promise to you. I promised to always have your back and I didn’t. ”

” You couldn’t stop Jasper from whipping me or Warden Miller from selling me.” he said. ” You know……when I left there, I thought it was the last time I would ever see you again. ”

” Same here brother. Now rest.” Scott said as he fixed the covers.

” You feeling better son? ”

” Some. You getting things ready for the drive? ” Johnny asked.

” We are. Scott will go in town tomorrow with the wagon and get the supplies. ” Murdoch said. ” I’m sorry this happened son and you can’t go. ”

” Any word from the judge? ”

” That’s why I came up here. He’s downstairs. I told him what happened. Do you feel like talking to him? ”

” Yeah. Has he talked to Thomas? ”

” He has and I think it went well. Randall was there as was I. ” he responded. ” I’ll send him up. Do you want me here too son? ”

” I won’t lose my temper with him pa. I have too much at stake. ”

” Alright.” Murdoch said with a smile before leaving the room.

Judge Sawyer went upstairs and talked to Johnny for just over an hour before coming back downstairs. ” Murdoch, you have quite a young man up there. He told me about his past, which he didn’t have to do,but his honesty was greatly appreciated. The reason it took me so long to come here is because I had Mister Randall check his story out. The place had arrows from Apaches and they found the graves right where Johnny said they were. It would seem your son is a wanted man in Mexico. Wanted by the Rurales for what he did in the Mexican war. Were you aware of this? ”

” I am. I have all of that in a file on my son the Pinkerton’s found out when searching for him judge.” Murdoch said. ” Would you like to see them? ”

” That won’t be necessary. Johnny tells me he doesn’t go by the name Madrid anymore. That  when he came home six years ago he gave up the life of a gunfighter. I’ve heard of Johnny Madrid. It’s said he’s the fastest draw west of the Mississippi river. Has he been called out since coming home? ” the judge asked.

” He was twice within his first year here, but hasn’t been called out since Judge Sawyer. ”

” My brother tried to talk those men out of it judge. He doesn’t want to kill a man. They give him not choice. ” Scott said.

” I’m aware of that son. ” the judge said. ” As for Thomas being adopted by Johnny, which would you prefer on the paper, Madrid or Lancer? ”

” Lancer. ” Murdoch said.

” Very well then. Young man, you are now Thomas Lancer. Congratulations. ” Judge Sawyer said. ” I’ll need you and Johnny to sign the adoption paper. ”

” Is Johnny now my father? ”

” He is as soon as he signs this paper. Why don’t you take it up to him? ”

Thomas grabbed the paper and ran upstairs.

Thomas hurried into Johnny’s bedroom and jumped up on the bed with excitement. ” The judge said I can stay. ”

” Easy boy. Damn, you forget I have broken ribs? ”

” I’m sorry Johnny. I was so excited, I forgot. ”

” It’s alright son. ”

” The judge needs you to sign this paper to make it legal. ” Thomas said.

” Okay. I take it you’re happy? ” Johnny asked.

” I am. ” he said. ” The judge said something though.”

” What? ”

” He said you are the gunfighter Johnny Madrid. Is this true? ”

” I used to be. ”

” But not anymore? ”

” Not in over six years. When I came home I decided I wanted to live a normal life. I wanted to be the son of a rancher and a little brother. I didn’t want to live by a gun any longer. ”

” Did you kill many men when you were Madrid? ”

” Thomas….let me tell you something I want you to remember. ” Johnny said  ” Don’t you ever get to a point where you take killing lightly. It’s not a good thing to kill a man, or cause a man to get killed. Makes you sick inside.”

” But I heard the stories of you. Madrid is afraid of no one. ”

” Thomas….you know it’s easy to kill a man, but it’s impossible to bring him back to life again. ” Johnny said. ” Every foolish man who called me out, haunts my sleep at night. Every man I gave the chance to walk away. ”

” But you were a gunfighter. I thought that was the reason, to kill men? ” Thomas asked.

” I was abused as a child. I wasn’t much older than you when my mother was murdered. Three years later I found that man and shot him dead in a cantina. From that day on I thought the only thing important was building up a reputation as Johnny Madrid. It’s that damn reputation I was so hell bent on having that has men come calling me out. Living by a gun is no life. All it will get you is a bullet in the back on a lonely trail some day or shot down in some town. ”

” Would you kill a man again if you were called out? ”

” I haven’t been called out in almost five years now son.”

” But would you? ”

” To save my family, the ones I love I would. ” Johnny said. ” Now you take that paper back down to the judge. ”

” Thomas is excited to be going on the drive. ” Teresa said.

” Yeah. I told him he could go before all this happened. ” Johnny said as Teresa wrapped his chest. ” You realize it will be just you and me in this big ole house for four months? ”

” It was just me and Murdoch for a long time before you and Scott came home. ” she said. ” Then when Murdoch left I was here all alone for several months. ”

” He let you stay here alone? ” Johnny asked.

” You want your leg propped up? ” she asked.

”’ No, I’m good. ”

” I don’t think he thought he would be gone searching for you for as long as he was. ”

” Just how long was he gone? ”

” Six months. I cried myself to sleep many nights until all three of you came home. ”

” You cried for me. Why? ”

” Johnny Lancer…..I can’t believe you would even ask me that. ” Teresa said as she playfully hit his left leg before walking out of the room.

Johnny stood on the veranda porch with a crutch under each arm, watching the men getting the wagon team hitched up as the sun rose over the San Bonito’s.

” I wish you could go with us father. ” Thomas said.

” So do I son. I want you to do as Scott and Murdoch said.”

” I will. I’ll work real hard. ”

” Son, you do as Teresa says. ” Murdoch said. ” The men know you are not to ride a horse. ”

” And that goes for getting in a wagon too little brother. ” Scott said as he shook Johnny’s hand.

” Three months we should make it there. Four months we should be back. ” Murdoch said.

Johnny and Teresa stood watching Murdoch and Scott leave with the herd.

” You fellas just passing thru? ” Max asked.

” Were looking for an old friend we heard was around here. ” Jasper said. ” Supposed to be working at a big ranch called Lancer. ”

” Your friend might be gone. Lancer left two months ago to deliver a herd of cattle to the army at Fort Bowie. Your friend got a name? ”

” Johnny. We fought in the Mexican war together. We thought we would stop by and see him before we head back south. ” Simon responded.

” Well you boys are in luck. Johnny is there. He got gored by a cow four months ago. His leg wasn’t healed up so he could go, so he’s running the ranch while his old man and brother took the herd. ” Max explained.

” You mean he found his old man? ” Jasper asked.

” Sure did. Came home of I’d say almost seven years ago. Gave up being a gunfighter. ”

” Well if that don’t beat all. How do we get to this Lancer ranch? ”

” Just take the  road south ten miles, you’ll come to a fork in the road. Take the right one and it will take you right to the main house. ”

” Much obliged. ” Jasper said. ” But I wouldn’t plan on going there tonight. There’s a storm brewing up out there and it’s gonna be a bad one. ”

” Alright John, I think you can start walking around with a cane now. ” Sam said. ” The leg is healing up nicely. But no riding. ”

” I can lose the crutches Sam? ”

” Yes. ”Sam said as he closed his bag up.

” Stay for supper Sam? ” Teresa asked.

” I’d like to, but I want to get back to town before the storm hits. It looks to be a good one.” Sam said. ” Have you heard from Murdoch? ”

” Not yet. They should be almost there. Thanks Sam. ” Johnny said as he followed him out to his buggy.

Johnny looked at the dark thunderheads rolling in. thunder could be heard in the distance.

” Johnny, all the men came in early because of the storm. You want them to do anything around here before it hits? ” Walt asked.

” Just make sure all the gates are closed and latched and doors on the barn. ”

” Already did. I see you lost the crutches. ”

” Yeah, Sam’s letting me use a cane now. ” Johnny said. ” Tell the men to try and get some rest tonight. I have a feeling we’ll have a mess to clean up in the morning from this storm. ”

” Will do Johnny. I’ll see you in the morning. ” Walt said.

Johnny went back inside and closed the veranda doors. ” It’s going to be a long night. ”

” You alright? ” Teresa asked.

” Yeah. ” Johnny said as he sat down. ” This storm could be a bad one. ”

” After supper, you want to play some checkers? ” she asked.

” Sure.”

” That boy is a hard worker, Mister Lancer. ” Pedro said.

” I seen you letting him drive the team today. ” Scott said.

” He asked me so I let him. He listens real good. ”

” How far are we from the fort? ” Frank asked.

” We should be there in a couple days. ” Murdoch said. ” I’ll send a wire to Johnny letting him know we made it and are headed home. ”

” I wonder how he’s doing? ” Scott asked.

” Hopefully following Sam’s orders and not riding. ” Murdoch said.

” He promised me he would sir. ” Thomas said. ” Can I ask you something sir? ”

” You can. ”

” Can I call you grandfather? ”

” I’d like that very much Thomas. ” Murdoch responded with a smile. ” You better get some sleep. ”

Scott looked at his father and seen a tear escape and run down his cheek. ” You’ve waited a long time to be called grandfather. ”

” Yes I have son. That boy may not be Johnny’s by blood, but I love him just as much as if he was. ”

Johnny and Teresa grew closer together every day since being alone together in the house. I the evenings they would play checkers or just sit and talk. Teresa would tell Johnny what she would change in the house if Murdoch would let her. He would tell her about the changes he would like to see Murdoch make to cut unnecessary expenses. In the end both would agree and start laughing about how stubborn Murdoch could be.

” I’m never going to beat you. ” Teresa said as Johnny once again beat her at checkers.

” I’ll let you win the next one. ” he said.

” Don’t do me any favors. I’ll beat you eventually. ” she said as she stood up. ” I better stoke the fire. ”

Johnny watched her walk over to the fireplace. Standing up, he walked over to feel the warmth of the fire. ” I’ve really enjoyed being alone with you these past months Teresa. ”

” And I’ve enjoyed being alone with you too Johnny. ” she said.

” How come you don’t have a beau Teresa? ”

”  Because most of the boys around here don’t interest me. They’re not what I want. ” she responded. ” I want a man. ”

” A man? ” Johnny asked.

” Yes, a man. ” she said. ” I want a man who will teach me what it’s like to be loved. Who will love me for me and not this ranch. Someone like you. ”

Johnny smiled as he walked up and turned her around. Placing his right hand under her chin he slowly lowered his mouth to hers as he looked into her eyes before touching her lips gently.

Teresa couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move as Johnny’s lips touched hers. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach. She could feel her knees getting weak.

Johnny broke off the kiss, but didn’t move away. ” I’ve been wanting to kiss you all evening.” he said.

” So have I. ” she said.

” You want a man like me? ” he asked as he played with the top of her dress.

” Yes. ” Teresa said softly.

” Can I make love to you Teresa? ” he asked as he let his hands go down and touch her breast. ” Can I make you mine. ” He got his answer when she stepped closer, waiting to feel his hands on her body, his lips on hers. Just the thought of their naked skin touching excited him.

Johnny lowered his lips to hers again and ran his tongue over her lips causing her to shiver. Sliding his tongue in her mouth, pulling her closer as he tasted her.  Breaking off the kiss he stepped back just enough to look into her eyes. ” Teresa, I won’t lie to you. Once I make love to you, you mine forever. ”

Teresa untied her robe and let it fall to the floor. Standing there in front of Johnny wearing nothing but a thin white chemise that allowed him to see her breast, and bloomers. Taking his hand in hers, she got down on her knees, and pulled him down next to her on the rug in front of the fireplace. ” Make me yours Johnny. Show me what it’s like to be loved, to feel love, to feel you love me. ”

Johnny reached out and gently pushed her down onto her back. Slowly he began unbuttoning her chemise. Opening it up, he knelt down and began to gently suck on her breast as his right hand slowly ran down between her legs, feeling the heat starting to rise as he started rubbing her, touching forbidden places between the opening her bloomers had. ” It’s going to be a stormy night of passion querida. ”

Teresa arched her hips up as Johnny rubbed her. Feelings she never felt before ran thru her body. ” Oh Johnny, that feels so good. Don’t stop. ” she pleaded when he stopped and rose up to remove his shirt. ” We can’t make love with our clothes on. ” he said as he started undoing her pants.

Teresa smiled as she helped him remove her pants. Laying on the rug totally naked a few minutes later as she watched Johnny remove his pants and lay down next to her. Placing his hand between her legs again, he wanted to prepare her for taking him. Working her as he positioned himself between her legs Shocked when she took him in her hand and guided him to her as she wrapped her legs around his waist.

 A couple hours later Johnny woke up. ” What’s wrong? ” Teresa asked.

” The storm is getting stronger.” he said.

Teresa reached up and pulled him down to her. ” Make love to me again Johnny. ” she said before claiming his mouth with hunger.

Johnny moaned as he once again made Teresa his that night. Both oblivious to what was happening outside. Both unaware two men lurked in the shadows, watching the two naked figures on the floor making love.

The sound of a gun being cocked woke froze Johnny.

” Don’t try anything Madrid and the girl won’t get hurt. ” Jasper said. ” Stand up real slow like.”

Teresa opened her eyes and grabbed the blanket to cover herself up. ” Who are you? What do you want? ” she demanded.

” Shut up and get dressed young lady. You too Madrid. Put your pants on. ” he ordered.

” Just do what they say Teresa. ” Johnny said as he put his pants on.

” Who are they? ” she asked.

” Two of the guards from the prison I was in. ” he said. ” I don’t know how you escaped jail, but you won’t get away with this. ”

Jasper lashed out and hit Johnny hard up side the head, knocking him down.

” Stop it! ” Teresa ordered as she went to him.

” It’s payback time Madrid. ” Simon said as he walked over, shoved Teresa away from him and grabbed Johnny by the hair and pulled him up. ” I’m going to enjoy what we do to you. ”

” Put him in the chair then find some rope to tie him up. ” Jasper ordered. ” She can watch. ”

Simon shoved Johnny down in the chair and hit him hard in the face, snapping his head back.

” Don’t kill him yet. ” Jasper said as he walked over to Teresa. ” You do what we say and nothing will happen to you. Hurting women isn’t to my liking.  Sit down in that chair and stay put. Simon isn’t as nice as I am. I won’t let him touch you. So don’t fret about that. I despise a man who rapes a woman.  He wants that, he can get a whore. ”

” You gonna leave her alive after we kill Madrid? ” Simon asked as he tied Johnny’s arms behind the chair.

” You’re both dead men. I promise you, my father and brother will hunt you down and kill you. ” Johnny spat.

” Oh really, and just how they gonna know who did it half-breed? ” Simon demanded as he tied Johnny’s left foot to the chair.

Johnny brought his right knee up and busted Simon hard in the jaw and then lashed out, kicking him in the face.

” You sonofabitch! ” Simon yelled as he got up and hit Johnny several times in the chest and face.

” Enough! ” Jasper ordered as he walked behind Johnny, grabbed a hand full of hair and snapped his head back.

” Give me that. ” Simon said as he grabbed the knife from Jasper. ” I’ll teach you you sonofabitch! ” he said before placing the knife on Johnny’s ribs and cutting deep across them.

Jasper shoved Simon away from Johnny. ” I don’t want him dead yet. You cut him too deep and he’ll bleed to death on us before daylight! Go check out the upstairs bedrooms while I look around down here. ”

Johnny clamped his jaw shut tightly as Simon cut across his ribs. The last thing he wanted to do was give them the satisfaction of screaming out in pain. He had to stay alive as long as he could for Teresa’s sake. He knew that once he was dead, she would be left with no hope. Looking at her, he could see the fear in her eyes. ” I’m sorry querida. ”

” It’s not your fault Johnny. ” she said.

” Shut up. ” Jasper ordered before slapping Johnny hard across the face.

Johnny waited until Jasper went into the kitchen. ” Inside my right boot is my knife. Get it and put it in my hands. ”

Teresa quickly pulled the knife and gave it to Johnny, Sitting back down in the chair just before Jasper walked back into the room.

” You cook this young lady? ” he asked.

Teresa ignored him until she seen the look Johnny gave her. ” Yes. ”

” You’re a damn right good cook. ” Jasper said as he walked over to the sideboard, grabbed a bottle of whiskey and walked back over to Johnny. Pulling the cork he gave Johnny an evil grin before pouring some on the cuts. ” Don’t want that getting infected. ” he said.

Johnny knew what Jasper was going to do. Reaching deep down inside he summoned all of Madrid as he glared at the man while the whiskey burned the wound.

Jasper stepped back from Johnny and looked at him. ” I guess you’re stronger than I thought. Most men would scream out in agony from that. ”

” It’ll take a lot more than that to make me scream. ” Johnny said.

” We’ll just see about that. ”

” There ain’t nothing upstairs but nine bedrooms. ” Simon said. ” Why the hell a house need that many bedrooms is beyond me. ”

” For family. The old man probably wants grandchildren. ”

” Must be what Madrid was working on when we came along. ” Simon said as he walked over to Johnny. ” Tell me, is that what y ou were working on half-breed. We watched you doing her. I wanted to interrupt, to stop you, but Jasper there stopped me and let you finish. Said to let you have one last moment of pleasure. ”

” It was either let you finish, or let Simon finish her off for you. ”

” Hey! Where did ya get the whiskey? ”

” Over there. ” Jasper said.

Simon went over and grabbed a bottle. ” Look at this. I only heard of this fine scotch whiskey. Brandy, tequila….man you have a regular rich man’s saloon here. ”

” I’m going to get a couple hours sleep. You keep an eye on Madrid for a while. ” Jasper said.

” Sleep, I thought we came here to kill Madrid? ” Simon demanded.

” We did and we will. ” Jasper snapped back. ” We have all night. I just need a couple hours sleep, so shut up and keep an eye on them. Don’t touch the girl,and stay away from Madrid. ” he said before laying down on the couch.

Johnny watched as Simon started staggering around the room an hour later. He knew if the man passed out, he stood a better chance of getting Teresa out of the house. Feeling the rope finally let go, he repositioning the knife in his hand.

Simon staggered over to Teresa, and yanked her up. Grabbing her jaw he kissed her roughly.

Johnny watched helplessly as Simon abused Teresa. Never in his life did he want to kill a man as bad as he did right then.

” You’re a big man abusing a woman. ” Johnny said.

Simon shoved Teresa back down in the chair and staggered over to Johnny.

” I’m going to kill you for what you did! ” Johnny said.

Simon walked over to Johnny and laughed. ” Oh really? ” he spat before backhanding Johnny hard across the face.

” Yeah. ” Johnny said as he brought the knife up and plunged it deep in Simon’s chest. ” Teresa, get out of here! ” he yelled.

Teresa stood up and ran out into the pouring rain.

Jasper jumped up from the couch, pulled his pistol and fired as Johnny grabbed Simon’s pistol and dove for shelter behind the desk. Spinning the cylinder as he watched Teresa make it out of the house.

Jasper didn’t know what happened to get Simon killed and Madrid untied. Not knowing for sure where Madrid was in the room, he made his way over to the end of the couch toward the huge dining room table. Using the lightening that flashed outside, Jasper seen Johnny move behind the huge desk. Slowly moving to the other end of the couch to be closer, he grabbed a statue off the small table at the end of the couch and threw it at the window to draw Madrid’s attention.

Johnny crouched and listened for any movement, but the howling wind outside made it impossible to hear the smallest sounds inside. A bolt of lightning hitting close to the house, lit up the grand room for a few seconds allowing him a quick glimpse toward the fireplace just as glass shattered to his left, spinning around he aimed and fired, shattering a huge vase that sat on the floor next to the window. Rain and wind now came into the room, knocking anything not heavy down.

” Drop it Madrid! ” Jasper ordered.

Johnny sighed and slumped his shoulders. Standing up slowly, but not dropping the gun, he turned around to face Jasper.

” I said drop the gun! ” Jasper ordered as he cocked his pistol. ” Drop it now! ”

Johnny glanced down at the pistol in his hand as he reached deep down inside and summoned Madrid. In one swift movement he brought the pistol up and fired, seeing Jasper’s gun go off a split second later, the bullet slamming into him, knocking him backwards.

” Sam must be here checking on Johnny’s leg. ” Scott said as they rode up to the house and dismounted.

” I have missed him very much. ” Thomas said.

Walking in the house, they were met by Sam coming downstairs.

” Sam, is everything alright? ” Murdoch asked.

” You better come sit down. ” Sam said.

” Is my father upstairs? ” Thomas asked.

” Thomas, come sit down. I need to talk to you about something that happened while you were gone. ” Sam said and then told them what he knew.

Scott stood up and headed upstairs with Thomas. Walking into the room, they found Johnny sitting up in bed.

” Hey brother. ” Johnny said softly.

” Hey yourself brother. ” Scott said. ” I can’t leave you alone for a minute can I? ”

” I’ll be alright. ” Johnny said as he looked at Thomas still standing at the door. ” You gonna come see me son? ”

Thomas walked over to the bed. ” I missed you father. ”

” Come here and give me a hug boy. ”

” I don’t want to hurt you. ”

” You won’t hurt me as long as you don’t touch my chest. ” he said.

Thomas went around the bed and crawled up to give Johnny a hug around the neck.

” The doctor, he said a man cut you bad. ”

” He did across my ribs, but I’ll be alright. Did you work hard and do as you were told? ” Johnny asked.

” He did a real good job Johnny. ” Scott said.

” Pedro even let me drive the wagon. ” the boy said.

Johnny looked at Scott.  ” Thomas, go on downstairs, I want to talk to Scott alone. ”

Scott walked around the bed, reached down and pulled the sheet down to see the long cut across his brothers abdomen. ” Damn Johnny. ”

” Sam said I was lucky it wasn’t deeper than it is. ” Johnny said.  ” It’ll leave a scar, but hey it’s not like I don’t already have scars on my body. ” Johnny said.

” How can you joke about this Johnny? Those two should have been in prison. How in the hell did they get out? ” Scott demanded as he stood up.

” Hey….take it easy Boston. I sent them to hell where they belong. ”

” He was lucky Murdoch. Damn lucky. ” Sam said. ” The cut across his ribs is deep. ”

” And Teresa, was she harmed. ” Murdoch asked.

” She’s alright. Just tired from taking care of Johnny and cleaning up from the storm. ” Sam said.

” Murdoch. ” Teresa said as she walked into the room. ” When did you get home? ”

” A short time ago. ” he said. ” I heard what happened. Are you alright sweetheart? ”

” I’m fine. ” she said as she hugged him. ” Sam, how’s Johnny doing? ”

” Not happy he’s stuck in bed again. ” Sam said with a smile.

” Is Scott upstairs with Johnny? ” she asked.

” He took Thomas up to see Johnny. ”

” Excuse me. ” she said before heading upstairs.

” Johnny killed both of them. ” Sam said.

” When will it stop? When will that boys past stop? ” Murdoch demanded.

” From what Johnny said, the two men were guards at the prison. ”

” What…..those two are supposed to be in jail with Judge Rubin. ”

Johnny walked down the hall to Teresa’s room a month later.” We need to talk. ”

” Murdoch took Thomas to school and Scott is out working. ” she said

” We have to tell him. I can’t keep sneaking around like we are. ” Johnny said. ” I want Murdoch to know how much I love you. ”

” And just how much do you love me Johnny? ” she asked.

” Enough I want to spend the rest of my life with you. ”

” You want to marry me? ” she asked with a smile.

Johnny walked over to her. ” Yes I do. ” he said as his hands started running up and down her arms. ”  I want so bad to get you regnant. To have you give me children. ”

” I want to give you children Johnny. ” she said as she wrapped her arms around his waist. ” We have a couple hours before Murdoch gets back and Scott won’t be back until tonight. ”

Johnny smiled as he let his hands start roaming over her body. ” I want you so bad. ”

” I want to feel you inside me again like I did that night we made love for the first time. ” she said as she removed her dress and laid down on his bed.

Johnny removed his clothes as fast as he could and positioned himself between her legs. Guiding himself to her, both were soon caught up in the motion, the rhythm and frenzy of seeking satisfaction. One striving to create a new life, the other wanting a new life with the man she loved more than anything.

” Murdoch, we need to talk about something. ” Johnny said a couple weeks later.

” Alright son. What’s on your mind? ”

” Teresa…..When you were gone…..we fell in love. ”

Murdoch looked up at his youngest and could see he was dead serious. ” Teresa is of age. Can I ask what your intentions are? ”

” To get married and have children. ” Johnny said. ” I know she’s of age and we could get married without your permission, but that wouldn’t be right. You did raise her. ”

” I see. I had my suspicions something was going on between you two. ” his father said as he stood up.

” Are you angry with us? ” Johnny asked as Teresa walked into the room.

” No son I’m not. Can I ask what kind of wedding you want young lady? ”

” A simple one. Just family and a few close friends. ” she said.

” Can I ask when you want this wedding to happen? ”

” As soon as possible. Me and Johnny are anxious to start a family. ” she said.

Murdoch had his suspicions the two had already started that process, but kept quiet about it. ” Alright, I’ll ride into town and talk to the padre. ”

” I would like Mrs. Conway to be there. Would you ride over and ask her if she could come? ” Teresa asked.

” I will. ” Murdoch said.

” Will Agatha….Mrs. Conway come to the wedding? ” Teresa asked.

” She will, and she said she would love to help you with a dress if you wish. ” Murdoch said.

” Father, does this mean Teresa will be my mother when you marry her? ” Thomas asked.

Johnny looked at Teresa. ” Only if you want  too son. ”

” Thomas, I will never try to replace your mother. ” Teresa said. ” But if you would give me a chance, I would like to be a mother to you. ”

” I would like that very much. ” he said. ” I know my mother would not mind, but…. ”

” But what son? ”

” Will I have a little brother soon to teach and protect? ”

Johnny looked at Teresa and smiled. ” Would that be alright? ”

” I would like a little brother very much. ”

” And what about a little sister? ” she asked.

” That would be okay too, but I can’t teach a little sister man things. ” Thomas responded.

” There’s a lot you can teach a little sister. I grew up on Lancer and learned how to do a lot of things. ” Teresa said.

” Well, it’s getting late. I think you need to go get ready for bed young man. ” Johnny said.

” Yes sir. Will you be up? ” Thomas asked.

” I’ll be up in a few. ” Johnny said.

”  As a wedding gift, I’m going to let you have the next week off son. ” Murdoch said.

” With all the time I’ve already had off to heal up, you sure you want to give me a week off? ” Johnny asked.

” The south mesa line-shack has been cleaned and stocked and is yours to use for the week. ” Scott said.

” The line-shack, why? ” Johnny asked.

” Because you two are newlyweds and it’s customary you take your new bride on a honeymoon after getting married. ” Murdoch said.

” Thank you Murdoch. ” Teresa said.

Johnny stood next to his brother looking down at Lancer three years later. Teresa sat in the buggy with Murdoch, Thomas and their two year old son Michael.

” Ten years ago I woke up every morning wondering if that would be the day I died. ” Johnny said.

” It’s been quite a journey hasn’t it son? ” Murdoch asked.

” One I never dreamed I would be taking. ”

” One I’m glad you did take. ” Teresa said. ” I have something to tell all of you. Murdoch, you’re going to be a grandfather again in six months. ”

Johnny turned and walked over to the buggy. ” Really? ” he asked with a smile.

” Yes. ” she said.

” I hope this one is a girl. ” Thomas said. ” I want a little sister. ”

” I thought you didn’t want a little sister? ” Johnny asked.

” I changed my mind. ” he said.

” Let’s go home boys. ” Murdoch said before starting the buggy down the hill.

” So when you going to ask Julia to marry you? ” Johnny asked as he checked Barranca’s cinch.

” Actually I already have brother and she accepted. ” Scott said as he mounted up.

” Do you miss the life you had back in Boston? ” Johnny asked.

” I did at first, but not now. ” he said. ” I have a life here. A life I love and a family I love. You? ”

” The same as long as we have no more counterfeit laws. ” Johnny said as they started down the hill.



10 – 10 – 2022


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3 thoughts on “Counterfeit Law by Nancy Marie

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