Hiding in Plain Sight by Nancy Marie

Word Count 16,894


I don’t own them. I’m just taking them out for a little fun. All original characters belong to their rightful owners. Any other characters belong to me, and may not be used without my permission.

This story will be rated R for language, and some torture, but nothing drastic.

Johnny Madrid Lancer
Scott Lancer
Murdoch Lancer
Sam Jenkins
Ann Thomas
Mary Thomas
Frank Wilson
Roy Martin


“ It’s about damn time.” Roy Martin said.

“ We just had to be patient.” Frank Wilson said.

“ Patient hell. We been watching this guy for three weeks now. Why’s she so intent on us bringing him to her?” Roy asked.

“ She didn’t say, but I’ll bet he killed someone close to her.” Frank responded.

“ A ranch hand, she wants us to bring her what looks like, some half-breed ranch hand.” Roy said.

“ He’s not just a ranch hand you idiot. You ever hear of a gunfighter named Johnny Madrid, when you were down around the border?” Frank asked.

“ Yeah, but something like ten years ago he was killed. Why?” Roy said and asked.

“ He ain’t dead. He’s been hiding in plain sight for ten years on this here ranch. Seems his old man brought him home right before the Rurales were set to kill him.” Frank explained.” that man we have been watching for the last three weeks is non-other than Johnny Madrid. He goes by Lancer now, so people don’t know Lancer, and Madrid are one in the same person.”

“ Jesus Frank, we don’t stand a chance against him. How the hell we going to take him? We shoot him, and some other hand is going to hear the shot and come running.”

“ Simple, we’re gonna ride right on down there all casual like, and take him at gunpoint.” Frank said as he went to his horse, and mounted up. “ Keep that hog leg of yours out, but at your side so he don’t see it when we ride up.”

Roy mounted up, and pulled his pistol out, letting his arm drop to his side as they started down the hill toward the lone figure pulling brush from a stream bed.

Roy Martin, and Frank Wilson took any job they could to keep money in their pockets. When a woman approached them from out of the blue, offering them twenty five hundred dollars each if they would capture a man, and bring him to her, alive, neither man squabbled about the job. Both having asked questions right away about the person they were to bring to her, only got them told they didn’t need to know anymore than what she had told them. Frank, the older of the two, liked knowing all details possible before they took a job. Roy, all he cared about was the money, especially on their current job. He had a short temper, and was to quick to shoot first, and ask questions later to Franks liking. The only reason he rode with the man is because he would be dead had it not been for Roy saving his life one time six years back. Ever since then, they’ve rode together, hiring out their guns to anyone needing men like them.

Johnny heard the sound of horses approaching as he picked up a good sized branch, and heaved it out onto the bank. Looking up, he seen it was two riders he didn’t know. An uneasy feeling came over him as they rode down into the stream bed, separating themselves so he couldn’t watch them both at the same time.

“ You fellas are on private property.” he said.

“ Now that’s not a very friendly thing to say.” Frank said.

“  What do you want?” Johnny asked

“ This here Lancer spread be of good size. Wouldn’t you say Roy?”

“ Sure would.” Roy responded.

“ So far in fact, I’d say the closest hands are at least a mile away. Wouldn’t you?”

“ Look, I don’t know what you fellas want, but you need to leave. Like I said, this is private property, and you’re trespassing.” Johnny said as he started to turn, and go toward his gun hanging from a tree branch twenty feet away.

“ That’s far enough Madrid. We got what we want.” Frank said.

Johnny felt a shiver go down his back as he froze at hearing a name he hadn’t heard in a long time. “ Look, I’m out of the game fellas. I quit ten years ago. I don’t make a living by my gun anymore.”

“ Shut up! We’ve been watching you for three weeks now, just waiting to get you alone. Our boss wants you real bad.”

“So bad in fact, she’s paying us twenty five hundred dollars each to bring you to her.” Roy said.

“ Well, tell your boss she can come here and talk to me.” Johnny said firmly.

“ Oh that ain’t how this works Madrid. See, you’re coming with us.” Frank ordered.

“ Like hell I am.” Johnny said as he dove for his colt, and felt the red hot pain from a bullet slicing thru flesh along his ribs.

“ Damn it Roy, she wants him alive. We don’t get paid if we bring him back dead.” Frank said as he jumped off his horse.

“ He was going for his gun.” Roy said as he dismounted.

“ He’s still alive. Looks like the bullet grazed his ribs. Bring his horse here so we can get the hell out of here.” Frank ordered.

“ What’s keeping Johnny? That job shouldn’t have taken him this long to do.” Murdoch said.

“ I can do that surveying without him. Tell him to forget it.” Scott said.

“ That report has to go in by next week son. Your brother knows that. He’s been here ten years now. He knows what is a must be done on this ranch.” Murdoch responded.

“ Something could have happened to slow him down.” Scott suggested. “ I’ll ride out there and see.”

“ Alright, if he doesn’t have a good excuse for not being here.” Murdoch said.

“ I know, he will get a good tongue lashing from you.” Scott said as he walked out the veranda doors.

An hour later Scott dismounted where his brother should have been clearing the wash. A sick feeling came over him when he spotted his brothers gun hanging from a broken branch. Walking over, he removed the gun belt, and checked the pistol. He knew Johnny would never leave his gun behind. Turning to go back to his horse, Scott stopped suddenly, and looked down. There on the ground was a red stain on a rock. Touching it, he knew instantly it was dry blood. Hurrying to his horse, he mounted up, and followed the tracks toward the San Bonito mountains.

“ What if someone sees us with him draped over his horse like he is, and they start asking questions?” Roy asked.

“ Maybe you should have thought of that before you shot him?” Frank asked.

“ What, you think I’m going to just stand there and let him shoot me. Think again.” Roy said.

“ Think, that’s the problem with you Roy, you’re too damn quick tempered, and you’re too damn fast to shoot. All you had to do was let him know we already had a gun on him. He wouldn’t have went for his. You need to start thinking before you act.” Frank said. “ Look, nobody is going to follow us through that pass in the dark. It would be to dangerous.”

“ Johnny’s gone.” Scott said as he reined his horse to a stop, and dismounted.

“ Gone where?” Murdoch asked.

“ I don’t know. I found his gun belt on a branch, and blood on the ground.” Scott responded. “ He would never leave without his gun.”

“ Alright son, Take Frank, and Walt with you.” Murdoch ordered.

“ No, they’ll only slow me down. I’ll find my brother alone, and bring him back.” Scott said before heading inside to grab what he would need.

Murdoch turned and followed his son into the house. “ Do you know which way they went, and how many?”

“ Two riders, I followed their tracks to the San Bonito’s. I can take Cipriano’ pass and shorten the lead they have.” Scott said.

“ Son, they could be just waiting for you up there, and gun you down. I want you to take a couple men with you.” Murdoch said.

“ And I told you they would only slow me down sir. I will find my brother, and I will bring him back.” Scott responded before hurrying upstairs to grab some things he would need.

Murdoch went down the hall to the kitchen, opening a door, and taking out the basket they kept full of bandages and other medical supplies.

Scott came back downstairs, and went to the gun rack, removing his Henry rifle, and two boxes of rounds.

“ You said you found blood. I put everything you will need for a wound in this burlap bag son.” Murdoch said. “ Ten years…………Why in gods name did this have to happen? Why can’t they just leave Johnny alone?”

“ I don’t know sir, but I fully intend on finding out.” Scott said as he headed out the door to put his rifle, and saddlebags on his horse.

“ You be careful. I don’t want to lose both my sons.” Murdoch said.

Scott mounted up. “ You haven’t lost Johnny, and you won’t.” he said before turning, and galloping off, leaving his father standing there in total despair.

“ Patrón, is something wrong?” Cipriano asked.

“  Somebody took Johnny. Scott found blood on the ground out where he was clearing the stream. He followed their tracks to the San Bonito’s. I want you and Walt to follow him. Regardless of what he says, stay with him, and help him bring Johnny back home.” Murdoch responded, and ordered.

Johnny opened his eyes, but remained still. He could hear voices, two men talking. His right side hurt like hell, and then he remembered being shot.

“ Looks like he’s awake.” Roy said as he stood up, and walked over to Johnny, kicking him in his ribs.

“ Damn it Roy, knock it off. You know she wants him alive damn it.” Frank ordered as he stood up, and walked over to their prisoner. “ You tear those stitches out, and I’m gonna have your hide.”

Johnny curled into a fetal position as pain wracked his side from being kicked. Gasping for air as he hugged his chest.

“ Madrid, let’s sit you up so I can take a look at that wound.” Frank said.

“ Why you coddling him so. You know she’s going to kill him?” Roy asked.

“ Shut the hell up Roy. I’ve about had it with your ways of treating people.” Frank said.

Johnny slowly stretched out, and raised up. “ Why you doing this?” he asked.

“ As I said before, we’re being paid a nice sum of money to bring you to a lady. She wants you real bad. Why I don’t know, but I’m not about to pass up twenty five hundred dollars.” Frank responded.

“ Paid by who?” Johnny asked.

“ Don’t know her name. Right testy about telling us much beyond describing you. I guess she’s been looking for you for over ten years. A couple months ago she seen your picture in a paper. Something about a cattleman’s shindig in Sacramento she showed us. Only it didn’t say your name was Madrid. Said your name was Johnny Lancer, but she swore it was you Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter from down along the border. We did some asking around, posing as cattle buyers to not raise any concerns. It was real easy to learn where that big ranch was. We’ve been watching your every move for three weeks, just waiting for the right time to nab you.. Hell, we even thought about trying to hire on just to get close enough, but letting others see who we were wouldn’t have been too smart.” Frank explained. “ See as of right now, nobody knows who took you. When we ride out of here in the morning, we come across anyone, Roy there won’t hesitate to shoot them if you say or do the wrong thing. Understand?”

Johnny nodded. “ So how old is this lady?” he asked.

“ Right beautiful woman if you ask me. Sure as hell ain’t no saloon gal. I’d say she’s younger than you by ten years or more, long black hair, brown eyes. She’s from Texas, that much I do know from her accent.” Frank said as he walked over and fixed a plate of beans, and poured a cup of coffee, walking back over to Johnny. “ It’s not much, but it’s hot.”

“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he took the plate and coffee. “ Do I know you?” he asked.

“ You do. We worked a range war together once outside Cordova.” Frank said.

“ Pasqual.” Johnny said. “ Not Cordova, it was Pasqual.”

“ That’s right. That was fifteen or so years ago. You got a good memory.” Frank responded. “ As I remember, you got shot good in that one.”

“ Just one of many.” Johnny said as he ate. His mind trying to figure out who the lady could be. The description he was given,  meant nothing to him, but was clearly someone who hated him so much, she went to extreme measures to capture him.

Roy came over and dropped a pair of leg irons at Johnny’s feet. ‘ Don’t want you trying to run off in the night. Put them on, and let me hear the lock click.” he ordered.

“ I’m not wearing those.” Johnny said firmly.

“ It’s either wear them, or another bullet.” Roy said with anger as he pulled his pistol, and aimed it at Madrid.

“ Knock it off Roy, put your gun away.” Frank ordered.

“ I ain’t losing no sleep over this half-breed. Either he put’s them on or else.” Roy ordered.

“ Back off now. You’re not shooting an unarmed man……….not again.” Frank said firmly.

“ Go back!” Scott ordered.

“ We cannot senor Scott. Your father gave me and Walt an order to go with you, and you know I always follow orders.” Cipriano said.

“ Scott, we care about Johnny too. All we want to do is help you find the bastards who took him, and bring him home.” Walt said. “ Let us help you find him.”

“ Alright, but the minute you start slowing me down.” Scott said.

“ We will not slow you down.” Cipriano said.

“ Okay, the tracks I’ve been following from where they took him, were leading me west, but I think they doubled back on me, and I missed it up on the pass.” Scott explained.

“ Lightening in the distance. Storm coming this way. We don’t want to be caught on that pass in a storm Señor Scott.” Cip said.

“ This is Salt Canyon Mine.” Johnny said as they stopped.

“ She thought it would be the perfect place to bring you too. The storm last night washed away any tracks they might have been following. They won’t think to look here. That you would be hiding in plain sight.” Frank said as he dismounted. “ Climb on down.”

Johnny dismounted, and watched a woman walk out of the mine office building, carrying saddlebags. Long black hair, that shined like a ravens wings in the sun, and brown eyes. Her facial features said she was younger than him. A forehead partially covered by her black hair, cheekbones that complimented her face right down to her full, tantalizing lips. Johnny could tell she was at least six feet tall. The clothes she wore fit her snugly in all the right places he thought. The white shirt she wore was unbuttoned down to the top of her breast, allowing a nice view of the top of her breast. He could tell she was wearing nothing under the shirt, allowing him to see her full breast with the sun shining on them, as she walked toward him. Her hips were lithe as she walked toward him, followed by long slender legs that could wrap around a man, and never let go. It was then Johnny noticed the gun that hung low on her right hip. He could tell it was a well used, yet well took care of colt. Clearly a gunfighters rig from the way she wore it, and how the holster was custom made, just like his with part of the side cut away to allow faster clearance when drawing. His mind could remember ever hearing about a woman gunfighter, even after he had given it up to live the life of a ranchers son.

“ Here he is ma’am, just like you wanted, Johnny Madrid.” Frank said.

“ Who shot him?” she demanded.

“ He went for his gun.” Roy said.

“ I told you two to bring him to me alive. I said nothing about shooting him.” she stated firmly.

“ You also said nothing about him being the gunfighter Johnny Madrid.” Roy snapped back. “ Be thankful I didn’t kill the half-breed sonofabitch.” Roy said before the sound of a slap echoed the silence.

Tossing the saddlebags to him. “ Your twenty five hundred is in there. Take it a ride out.”

“ Fine by me. I only did this for the damn money anyways. I sure as hell ain’t sticking around so some Texas whore can order me around.” Roy said as he opened one side of  the saddlebags and took out his money. “ You coming Frank?”

“ Nope. I told you, I’m tired of your quick temper. It’s going to get you killed, and I don’t want to be around when it happens.” Frank said firmly.

Johnny stood there watching the woman closely. Just her close presence could be intimidating to a man, given her height of at least six inches taller than him.

“ Johnny Madrid, I’ve waited a long time for this moment.” the woman said.

“ A woman who looks as good as you do, all you had to do was ask if you wanted to meet me.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ I heard you were a woman charmer.” she aid as she stepped closer. “ By tonight you won’t be smiling.”

“ I don’t know you, so why don’t we stop playing the mystery bullshit, and you tell me why you want me lady, especially since I don’t know you.” Johnny demanded.

“ Oh you know me. You just don’t remember me is all, but you will. Does the name Thomas, Ann Thomas mean anything to you?” she asked.

“ I don’t know you, and even though you’re not a bad looking woman, I don’t want to know you.” Johnny said before he was slapped hard across the face.

Ann looked at Frank, and  nodded slightly.

Johnny went to turn to face Frank, when he felt a blow to the back of his head, knocking him out cold.

“ Take him inside.” she ordered.

Scott looked around on the ground for any tracks. “ The storm washed away any tracks we had to follow.”

“ Where did you noticed they doubled back on you?” Cipriano asked.

“ Top of the pass. I was going to double back when I met up with you two.” Scott responded.

“ There is only one place they could stay out of sight of you, and allow you to ride right past without seeing them.” he said. “ About half way up there is a narrow cutout big enough for three horses to fit in. The ground is sandy, so realizing they were there could easily have been missed.”

“ Okay, we know they doubled back on you. Let’s go back down the pass, and see if we can find any tracks at all.” Walt suggested.

“ How would they even know about that spot?” Scott asked.

“ Perhaps whoever it is, has been on Lancer, studying the area.” Cipriano suggested.

“ Which means whoever it is could have Johnny close by, and want us to think they took him off Lancer.” Scott responded. “ Let’s go back to Lancer, I want to study the map thoroughly of the area. Maybe Murdoch will know of a place they could go unnoticed.”

Johnny opened his eyes, and found himself standing up, his arms above his head. A chain ran from a beam overhead, down to the shackles he now wore on his wrist. His shirt had been removed, as well as his boots, and socks. He could feel a stickiness on his side, and knew the stitches had been pulled lose when they strung him up. He was grateful for being allowed to stand up freely, and not have the chains bite into his wrist. That was an experience he suffered thru while in a Mexican prison, and still had the scars from. Looking around, he could see there was no window, and only one door into the room he was in. Closing his eyes, he tried to remember anyone named Thomas from his past, and nobody came to mind. Especially anyone named Ann Thomas.

“ You still don’t remember do you?” Ann asked from behind him.

“  No I don’t. Look, why don’t you just tell me and stop playing this game?” Johnny responded.

“ Think back ten years. Down along the border in a small town called Del Rio, Texas.” she said as she walked up closer, but stayed behind him.

“ Ten years ago would make you no more that seven, maybe eight years old. What the hell did I do to you? I have never hurt a child in my life lady. I grew up being hurt by adults, and kids.” Johnny spat back.

“ That why you have all these scars on your back?” she asked.

“ Lady, I’m usually a nice person to a woman, but you are really starting to get o n my nerves. What the fuck do you want from me?”

 he demanded.

Ann stepped back a few steps, and lashed out with the leather belt she had in her hand. Striking Johnny across the lower part of his back five times.

Johnny lurched forward when the belt struck his flesh. Biting the inside of his mouth to qualm his stomach, and keep from screaming as she repeatedly struck his lower back.

“ Next time I won’t be so nice.” she said as she walked around to face him, and tossed the belt to the corner of the room. “ I’m a firm believer in being strict. When I ask you a question, you will answer it, and you will keep a civil tongue in your unprepossessing mouth. Do I make myself clear?”

Johnny could taste the blood from biting the inside of his mouth. A small trickle ran down his chin as he opened his eyes, and glared at the woman standing before him. “ You know, earlier I gave some thought to taking you to bed, now I wouldn’t touch you if you paid me.” he said before spitting blood out at her feet.

Ann slapped Johnny hard across the face. “ Go ahead and keep defying me. I have all the time in the world before I kill you.” she said before turning , and walking out of the room.

“ Real smart move Madrid. Pissing the lady off will not get you the results you want.” Johnny said before spitting out more blood. He could tell when she opened the door to leave, it was still daylight out, but wondered how long he was unconscious. “ Brother, I sure hope you’re looking for me.”

Scott walked into the grand room thru the veranda doors, and found Murdoch at his desk. “ I need the oldest map you have of Lancer.” he said as Walt and Cipriano entered the room.

Murdoch stood up, and walked over to a cabinet behind his desk, and opened the big long drawer. “ These are all the maps I have of Lancer son since acquiring it. What are you looking for?”

“ Señor Scott believes they are still on Lancer land, or close to it with Johnny.” Cipriano said.

“ They knew about a place on the pass when they doubled back on me. I rode right by them.” Scott said with anger.

“ On Lancer, there’s only five line shacks they could possible be at.” Murdoch said as he rolled out a map. “ Outside Lancer lines there’s the old mining town of Hardluck.

“ What’s this?” Scott asked as he pointed to an X on the map above Top Mesa line-shack.

“ That’s the Salt Canyon Mine. It’s been abandoned for about ten years or so. It collapsed, killing four miners shortly after you and your brother came home.” Murdoch explained.

“ I remember now. Isn’t there a shack still standing there?” Scott asked.

“ It might be still there. It wouldn’t take much to put up a corral behind it to keep the horses out of sight from anyone who might happen by.” Murdoch responded.

“ That’s where they have Johnny. I’ll bet my life on it.” Scott said.

“ Now hold on son. Lets think this thru. There’s only one way in to that mine, Whoever took your brother could have men watching the entrance, just waiting to open fire on anyone who comes too close.” Murdoch said.

“ He’s right Scott. There may be more than the two you were tracking.” Walt suggested.

“ A man on horse could not get to the mine from the rear, but a man on foot could.” Cipriano said.

“ That mountain is too steep. One wrong step, and whoever is coming down it would fall to their death.” Murdoch said.

“ There’s a deer trail that is well used that comes down  to Big Panoche creek so they can drink. It comes down just east of the shack a few feet.” Cipriano said as he showed the roughly where on the map.

“ It’s at least a half a days ride around that mountain to gain access to the top on the other side. If you leave at first light, you can make it by mid-day.” Murdoch said.

“ We will be ready to ride at first light Señor Scott.” Cipriano said.

“ I’ll have men with me waiting a safe distance away just in case son.” Murdoch said.

Chapter 2

“ Can I ask what your plans are with Madrid?” Frank asked.

“ He got a taste of what I have planned for him. Tomorrow he will bleed.” Ann said.

“ What happened ten years ago in Del Rio, to make you want to kill him?” Frank asked.

Ann walked over and looked out the window as he mind remembered the day that changed her life forever. “ I had a twin sister. We went to town once a month with our father. It was something we both looked forward to doing with him. Mostly because we would each get a penny for some candy…………We had just come out of the store, and were headed down to meet our father. I remember this man pushed me aside, and walked out into the street, stopped, and yelled.

“ Madrid, come on out here. I’m calling you out!” he yelled.

“ Me and my sister didn’t know what was about to happen. We started down the street, Mary telling me we had to get away from there, but I ducked into the alley. I wanted to watch, so  I stood there watching like everyone else was doing. This man came out of the saloon, and walked out into the street, stopping in the middle, and faced this man. I don’t remember the mans name that called him out. Madrid stood there, and tried to talk the man out of it. I remember Madrid telling him dying isn’t much of a living. They exchanged some more words, went for their guns, and Madrid beat him by I think half a second. I seen the bullet hit the man as he drew his gun, he raised it to fire, Madrid shot him again, the man turned toward me and my sister. I can still see the red stain spreading across his chest as he started to go down. His pistol went off as he fell forward, dead. I watched as Madrid walked to his horse, mounted up and rode out of Del Rio.” Ann explained with a quiver in her voice, and tears running down her cheeks. “ I turned to my sister, and that’s when I seen the red stain on her dress. The mans bullet hit her when he fell. Her eyes were open, but she was dead. I screamed for help, and our father came up in the wagon, pushed his way through the people standing around. He picked Mary up, and carried her to the wagon, and we went home. I vowed the day we buried my sister that I would find Madrid, and I would kill him for killing my sister.”

“ But Madrid didn’t shoot your sister. The other man did.” Frank said.

“ He may not have put the bullet in her, but he’s the reason she’s dead. If he hadn’t been in Del Rio that day, Mary would still be alive.” Ann said with anger.

“ So he never even knew your sister was killed by the other man?” he asked.

“ No. I told you he rode out of town after. I watched my father die a slow death after that day. When I was big enough, I started wearing his gun, and I would practice several hours a day, every day drawing, and firing. Me and this gun became one.” she said.

“ Let me ask you something. Have you ever killed a man with that gun?” he asked.

“ No.” she said flatly.

“ Let me tell you a little something I know first hand about that man in there that you are so hell bent on killing. I worked a job with Madrid once, a range war. I remember this kid named Andy Cutler signed on, Madrid took him under his wing so to speak. Hell the kid was all cocky from the start. Eager to kill, and prove he was good with a gun. We were sitting around the campfire one night, planning the next days strategies,  Madrid told that kid, don’t you ever get to a point in your life 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.” Frank said. “ That didn’t get thru to the kid, but what Johnny said next sure as hell did. He told Andy, It’s easy to kill a man, but it’s impossible to bring him back to life again. You might want to reflect on those words before you do something you can’t take back.”

“  Don’t try and lay some guilt trip on me. It’s because of him my sister is dead.” Ann said before jerking the door open, and going outside.

Frank stood there watching her walk toward the corral. He knew what he said got thru to her. He just prayed it got thru enough. A mans life was at stake. Turning around, he walked over to the door to the room Madrid was in, and opened the door. Madrid stood in the middle of the room with his eyes closed. He could see dry blood on his chin as he walked into the room.

“ You come to have your fun with me now?” Johnny asked without opening his eyes.

“ No. I came to talk to you.” Frank said as he closed the door. “ I just learned why she’s doing this.”

“ Yeah, why?” Johnny asked.

Frank repeated to him what she had just said, and what he told her in the hopes of stopping this.

“ Jesus. I never knew her sister had been shot. So she blames me for it?” he said, and asked.

“ Yeah. Look Madrid, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry. If I had known, I……….I never would have went thru with it.” Frank said.

“ It’s not too late. You can let me go.” Johnny suggested.

“ I can’t. She has the key to those.” he said. “ Listen, I know your arms have probably lost all feeling in them with being strung up like you are. I’ll see if I can talk her into unchaining you so you can sleep on the floor tonight.”

“ And tomorrow?” Johnny asked.

“ She said tomorrow you bleed.” Frank responded as he opened the door. “ I’ll also see about getting you some food, and water. I wouldn’t even treat a dog the way she’s treating you.” he added as he walked out, and closed the door.

“ This storm is getting worse. I’ve never seen it come down as hard as it is out there.” Frank said.

“ There’s hot coffee on the stove.” Ann said.

“ Thank you. Madrid awake?” he asked as he walked over and poured a cup.

“ I don’t know. I haven’t checked on him yet this morning.” she said.

“ I’ll check on him.” Frank said.

“ Leave him. I’ll check.” she said as she walked over to the door, and opened it.

Johnny sat up when he heard the door open. He could see from the light it was her. All night he thought about what Frank had told him had happened that day in Del Rio. One thing he never wanted to happen, was innocent people to get hurt, or killed when he was called out. He never knew the girl had been shot. He could understand her anger toward him, even though he wasn’t the one who shot her sister, he was still responsible just the same for her death.

“ I brought you a cup of coffee.” Ann said as she closed the door, and walked over to him.

“ Thank you.” he said as he took the cup from her, and took a sip. “ I never knew.” he said softly.

“ Never knew what?” she asked.

“ Frank told me. I never knew your sister had been shot. I know why you’re so bitter toward me.” Johnny responded.

“ You don’t know anything.” Ann snapped back.

“ You blame me for her death because the man who shot her is dead. You figure blaming me, and doing whatever it is you’re going to do to me will bring your sister back, and give you comfort in avenging her wrongful death.” Johnny responded.

“ It is your fault my sister is dead. If you hadn’t been there, that man would never have called you out.” she said as the tears began to fall.

Johnny stood up, and walked over to her. Taking a chance, he put his arms around her, and pulled her to him, holding her as he rubbed her back, feeling her tremble. “ Let it go.” he said softly.

Ann couldn’t stop the tears as she wrapped her arms around him, feeling his warmth as she cried for the first time in a long time.

Johnny felt her relax in his arms as her trembling subsided. Bringing his right hand up under her chin, he raised her face up, and slowly brought his lips down to hers, kissing her ever so lightly, and then deepening the kiss, feeling her moan as she tightened her arms around him.

Ann couldn’t stop what was happening. Never had she felt like she was right now. She had never been with a man, so everything Madrid did to her made her feel totally new feelings. Clinging to him and then letting her hands wander over his bare chest, playing with the hairs, and flicking at his hard nipples. Hearing him moan into her mouth when her hands went down to the top of his pants.

Johnny knew he was playing with fire. Knew what he was doing could get him killed that much sooner. Taking the chance since she wasn’t refusing him, he started touching forbidden places. Feeling her respond, he stopped, and looked at her. “ This can go one of two ways.” he said as he tried to control his urges. “ At least if you’re going to kill me, let me have the enjoyment of a naked woman to pleasure one last time?” he asked.

Ann looked down at the blankets she had given him last night to sleep on, on the floor, and then at Madrid. Stepping back, she slapped him hard across the face. “ You bastard. Do you really think I would let you touch me?” she demanded with anger.

“ You seemed to be enjoying it.” he responded.

Ann went to slap him again, but was stopped when he grabbed her arm.

 “ Lady, don’t try hitting me again.” Johnny said as he held tight to her arm.

“ Frank, get in here!” Ann yelled.

Johnny had a bad feeling something was about to happen, and it wasn’t going to be good for him.

Frank opened the door, and found a very angry Ann glaring at Madrid. “ What’s wrong?”

“ Unchain him, and take him outside.” she ordered.

“ In the storm ma’am?” he asked.

“ Do it now!” she yelled before walking out of the room.

“ Ann, don’t do this.” Frank pleaded as he followed her out into the other room.

“ That sonofabitch thinks he can play with my emotions.” she spat. “ He thinks he can seduce me. Take him outside now. Don’t make me say it again Frank.”

Frank went to unlock Madrid. “ What the hell happened?” he asked as he unlocked the chain.

“ She’s scared. I was seducing her, and she got scared. A woman who does that has never been with a man.” Johnny said.

“ Why in the hell would you do that?” he asked.

“ Figured if I was going to die, I might as well try and be with a woman one last time. Guess I picked the wrong woman.”

“ I guess so. Look, she’s pretty pissed off at you. Let me talk to her. Try to get her to see that whatever she is going to do is wrong.” Frank suggested.

“ Thanks, but I don’t think anything is going to stop her.” Johnny said. “ She’s going to kill me in the end. Might as well get it over with.”

“ I’m taking these damn chains off you. It’s up to you on whether or not you walk outside.” Frank said as he removed the shackles from Johnny’s wrist.

Johnny walked out of the room, and stopped, Ann was standing to his left, anger in her eyes.

“ Give him your pistol.” she ordered

“ Ma’am, don’t do this. It’s wrong, and you know it.” Frank pleaded.

“ I said…..give Madrid your pistol……….now!” she ordered before walking outside into the rain.

Frank pulled his pistol from the holster, and handed it to Johnny. “ Don’t go out there……please.”

“ I have to Frank, the lady wants to dance.” Johnny said as he took the pistol, and walked outside onto the porch. With no shirt on, he could feel the chill in the night air as the rain poured down. Making sure to keep the pistol down at his right side, Johnny stepped off the porch, and walked out to face Ann, who was already standing about seventy five feet away.

“ What you just did to me inside is going to cost you your life, you sonofabitch!” Ann yelled.

“ I’m not drawing on you!” Johnny said before tossing the pistol on the ground.

“ Damn you, pick it up!” she demanded. “ You got my sister killed. Pick up the damn gun!”

Johnny stood there, not moving. He knew Ann was full of hurt, more than anger. Hurt over the loss of her twin sister that day. A hurt he knew all too well from when he lost his mother.

“ Ann, don’t do this!” Frank yelled.

“ Shut up Frank. Pick up the damn gun Madrid, or I’ll shoot you where you stand!” she yelled as lightening flashed.

Johnny stepped back.” Doing this won’t bring your sister back. It will haunt you the rest of your life. I know, because every man who has ever called me out, haunts me to this day!” Johnny said.

“ It’s your fault she’s dead. She was only eight years old!” she said. “ I lost my sister, and best friend because of you Madrid! I’m going to make you pay for her death. You may not have shot her, but you’re just as guilty!”

Johnny turned to go back inside.

Ann drew her pistol, and cocked it. “ Turn around, pick up the damn gun, and face me!”

Johnny took two more steps, and felt the bullet tear thru his upper left thigh, dropping him to the ground.

Ann walked over, and picked up the pistol, and tossed it to him. “ Stand up…….pick it up, and die like a man!” she ordered.

“ You go to hell.” Johnny spat as he tried to stop the bleeding as Frank came over to him.

“ Let’s get you inside.” Frank said as he helped Johnny stand up.

“ Get away from him Frank. Pick up the gun Madrid.” she ordered.

Johnny  ignored Ann, and started walking with the help of Frank to the shack.

“ You bastard!” Ann screamed before pulling the trigger again, hitting Johnny in the back of his left shoulder, making him lurch forward onto the porch.

“ Ann, enough. Jesus, you just shot an unarmed man in the back!” Frank yelled as he tried to help Johnny.

Ann stood there glaring at Madrid laying in on the steps, blood running down his chest from the hole where the bullet exited his shoulder.


Ann dropped the gun, and fell to her knees as she started to shake from the cold, and shock of what she had just done.

“ I’m sorry Mary. It was my fault. You said we should leave. That we shouldn’t see what was going to happen. It’s my fault my sister is dead………..not yours.” she sobbed.

“ Go help her Frank.” Johnny said.

“ She’s fine. Let her get it out. I need to get you inside and try and stop this bleeding.” Frank said as he helped Johnny stand up, and go inside. “ Lay down on the cot. I’ll find something to use as a bandage to stuff in that wound.”

“ This is a bad storm.” Cipriano said as he looked out the window. “ The rain, it is coming down harder than I have ever seen before.”

“ Damn it. I guess all we can do is wait for it to stop raining, and pray Johnny is still alive.” Scott said.

“ He is still alive.” Murdoch said. “ He has been through much, and has always survived. He will survive this as well. Whoever has him, they will not be able to kill him.”

“ I hope you’re right……..Why the hell did this happen. He’s been home, living a good life for ten years, and now two people show up and take him. Why?”  Scott asked.

“ Perhaps the answer is someone from the gala you attended in Sacramento with your father?” Cipriano suggested.

“ I thought about that, but nothing comes to mind. He didn’t have any trouble with anyone. At least that I’m aware of.” Scott responded. ‘ Wait a minute. Our picture was on the front page of the newspaper.”

“ You thinking maybe somebody from his past seen his picture, and came here for revenge against him for something that happened in his past son?” Murdoch asked.

“ That has to be it. It’s been what, eight, if not nine years since he was called out last. It has to be someone from his past. Someone who seen that picture.” he said. “ That gala was almost three months ago, if it’s someone from his past, say down around the border. That’s enough time for them to ride here, ask around about him, and just wait for the right time to take him.”

“ I fear your brother will never have the chance to live a normal, peaceful life as Johnny Lancer.” Murdoch said with sadness.

Scott looked at his father. He could see the worry in the mans eyes.  They were all worried. Johnny had a lot of friends, people who cared about him. Even some who knew nothing about his past as a gunfighter. Nobody talked about it, because they all knew he was just trying to live a normal life.“ Not as long as someone wants Johnny Madrid he won’t, but a part of him will always be Madrid.” Scott said.

“ Why don’t you try and get some sleep son. It will be daylight in a few hours. Maybe the storm will subside by then, and we can go.” Murdoch suggested.

“ I’ll sleep when my brother is home, safe and sound again.” Scott responded.

“ You need a doctor Madrid.” Frank said. “ I think I can slow the bleeding down, but it will take a doctor to stop it. Is this what you wanted?”

Ann just stood in the doorway, not moving. Tears ran down her face as she continued to shake.

Frank went over and grabbed her by the arm, yanking her over to Johnny. “ Help me damn it Ann, he’s bleeding to death.”

“ I have an extra shirt we can use as a bandage. I’ll stuff some of it in the wound. Go saddle the horses so we can get him to a doctor.” Ann said.

“ Nearest doctor is in Green River. I don’t know if he can ride that far.” Frank said.

“ Lancer.” Johnny said softly. “ Take me to Lancer, it’s closer than town. My horse knows the way.”

“ Alright. I’ll go saddle the horses.” Frank said before hurrying outside.

“ I’m sorry Johnny. I’m so sorry for what I have done to you. I’ll turn myself in to the law after we make sure you are safe.” Ann said.

“ My mother was murdered right in front of me when I was ten. I know the hurt you are feeling. The emptiness of your sister being gone.” Johnny said as she helped him sit up.

“ Did they get the man who murdered her?” she asked.

“ I did four years later. The only law in Mexico is the Rurales, and they weren’t going to do anything about it. You seen the scars I have. Some I got while in prison in Mexico, others I’ve got growing up from other kids, and after becoming Madrid.” he explained.

Scott opened his bedroom door, and hurried downstairs. Someone was banging on the front door. Opening it he found a man holding his brother.

“ Johnny, oh my god.” he said.

“ He’s been shot.” Frank said as he carried him inside.

“ Give him to me.” Scott said as he took his brother in his arms, turned, and carried him upstairs. “ Murdoch, Murdoch, I need help.” he yelled as he carried Johnny into his room.

Murdoch opened his bedroom door just as Scott carried Johnny into his bedroom, and laid him on the bed. “ My god, what happened?” he asked as he hurried over.

“ He’s been shot.” Scott said. “ I’ll go get some bandages and heat some water.”

“ Send someone for Sam.” Murdoch ordered as Scott left the room. “ Who are you?”

“ My names Frank Wilson. This is Ann Thomas.” Frank said.

“ You  found my son, and brought him home?” Murdoch asked as he started to undo the bandage on his leg.

“ Not exactly Mister Lancer.” Frank said.

“ I shot him.” Ann said.

“ It’s a long story. We’ll explain it all to you later. Right now all that matters is Johnny.” Frank said.

“ Why in gods name did you do this to him?” he demanded.

“ Not her fault, Murdoch.” Johnny said softly.

“ I hope you have a damn good explanation for taking my son, and shooting him. Did you do this too him as well?” Murdoch demanded as he noticed the wound in Johnny’s side that was older, and had stitches that were now torn out.

“ No, Roy did that. Look, I promise you, we will explain everything after. Neither one of us is going to try and leave.” he said as Scott came back in the room.

“ I sent Walt for Sam. With the weather it will take him longer to get here.” Scott said as he set the basket on the table with the bandages in it. “ I’ll go get the hot water.”

“ Bring a bottle of tequila up here too son. We’ll need it for these wounds to clean them out.” Murdoch said. “ And have someone come keep an eye on those two. She said she’s the one who shot Johnny.”

Scott could feel his anger start to build when he looked at the woman, and then at the man. “ I’ve seen you in Morro Coyo before.”

“ You have. Look, you don’t need anyone to guard us. You have our word, we’re not leaving. We’ll tell you what happened, why, and turn ourselves in to the law after we know Johnny will be alright.” Frank said.

“For your sake, you better hope my brother will be.” Scott said firmly before walking out.

“ I don’t know Murdoch, he’s lost so much blood, and he’s running a fever.” Sam said as he dried his hands.

“ He had no shirt, or boots on when he was brought in, and it was pouring down rain.” Murdoch said.

“ I noticed he has whip marks across the lower part of his back that are new.” Sam said. “ The bruising has me concerned.  Do you know how long ago he was beaten?”

“ I fully intend to find out from those two downstairs. I want to know what the hell they did to my son, and why.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ He’s resting peacefully for now, I’m going to stay because I want to keep an eye on that fever.” Sam said.

“ I’ll have Consuela come up and sit with him for a spell.” Murdoch said as he started to the door. “ I want answers.”

Scott walked over to the sideboard, poured a brandy, and two whiskeys. “ This will help with the chill.” he said as he handed the woman the brandy.

“ Thank you.” Ann said as she took the drink.

“ Why were you in Morro Coyo?” Scott asked as he handed Frank his shot.

“ I think we should perhaps wait until your father is here also, so he can hear what we say.” Frank responded.

“ I asked you a question.” Scott said.

“ And I gave you an answer. Look, you have every right to be upset, and angry with us, but like I said upstairs, we will explain everything once we know Johnny will be alright.”

“ That’s impossible to know right now.” Sam said as him, and Murdoch walked into the room. “ He’s lost a considerable amount of blood.”

“ I want to know what the hell you did to my son, and why.” Murdoch demanded.

“  I would like to know when you beat him with what looks like a wide leather strap or belt?” Sam asked.

“ I think we should all sit down, and try to remain calm as they tell us what happened.” Scott suggested.

“ You asked me a few minutes ago why I was in Morro Coyo. I was there watching, and learning about Johnny. A gunfighter likes to know his opponent.” Frank said.

“ So you’re a gunfighter?” Murdoch asked with anger.

“ I’m not one like your son. I would hire out to range wars and such to make money to eat. That’s how I met Johnny years ago, we worked a range war together in Mexico.” Frank explained.

“ How did you know my son was here?” Murdoch demanded.

“ A picture in the paper. She seen it, and hired me and another man named Roy Martin to kidnap Johnny, and bring him to her.” Frank responded.

Scott walked up to the woman, anger is his eyes. “ Why?”

“  I watched Johnny from places here on the ranch, and in the towns, Green River, Spanish Wells, and Morro Coyo. We watched and waited for the right opportunity to nab him………..

“ I asked why?” Scott cut in.

“ We will get to the why.” Frank said. “ Me and Roy were watching Johnny clear that stream bed out when we decided then was the perfect time to take him. We knew other hands were at least a mile away, so we rode down to him. Roy had his pistol already drawn, but at his side where Johnny couldn’t see it. He went for his gun that was hanging on a branch, and Roy shot him. That’s where he got the deep graze. I sewed it up that night. You rode right past us up on the pass when we doubled back. It started raining, so we made camp for the night, and that’s when I sewed up the wound.  The next Morning, we took him to that old abandoned mine just off your property where Ann was waiting for us.”

“ You mean Salt Canyon Mine, up by Top Mesa line-shack?” Murdoch asked.

“ I don’t know about a line-shack, but yes, that’s the place.” Frank responded.

“ Did she pay you to take my brother?” Scott demanded.

“ Yes, twenty five hundred dollars each. She cut Roy loose when we got there. She was upset he had shot Johnny.”

“ Young lady, you better start talking, and your reasons for what you have done to my son had better be good.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ You can’t intimidate me Mister Lancer. To answer your question you asked earlier Doctor, yes I beat him with a thick wide leather strap. I struck him five times across the lower part of his back.” Ann said.

“ Due to the severity of the bruising he has, you may have caused damage to his kidneys.” Sam said.

“ He had a smart mouth on him, so I had Frank take him into the small room where I had a chain fastened to an overhead beam. I hooked the chain to his shackles, and had him tied up like that after I removed his shirt and boots.” Ann explained.. “ The next morning it was storming really bad. I took a cup of coffee in to him, Frank had told him why I was doing it. He told me he didn’t know, and we started talking. I made the mistake of letting my defenses down, and allowed him to console me when I started crying. It was the first time I had cried really since it happened. Next thing I know, Johnny was kissing me, and I was responding back to him. He said, he knew I was going to kill him, and asked if he could have one last time of pleasure. I grew furious at him, realizing what had just happened, I slapped him hard, yelled for Frank to bring him outside in the pouring rain.”

“ You have yet to say why.” Sam said.

“ I’m getting to the why sir. I said some hateful, nasty things to Johnny when he stepped outside. Frank had removed the shackles from his wrist. I had him give Johnny his pistol. Johnny stepped off the porch into the pouring rain and said he was refusing top draw on me. He dropped the gun on the ground. That’s when I drew mine and shot him in the leg. I was ordering him to pick the gun up and draw on me, but he wouldn’t. He turned to walk back inside when I shot him again……….in the back of his shoulder. He fell to the steps, turned and faced me yelling at me that he wasn’t going to draw on me. He said, you want to kill me, then kill me, Go ahead and aim the fucking pistol at him again, only this time make sure I do it right. I realized then as I stood there in the rain looking at him I was blaming the wrong person. It wasn’t his fault, or the man who’s bullet killed my sister. It was my fault, and all this time I had denied myself seeing that.” Ann explained.

“ Ann, are you going to be alright telling them?” Frank asked.

“ I’ll be alright.” she said with a shaky voice. “ When I was eight years old, me and my twin sister got to go to town with our father. It was a beautiful clear sky day. He stopped at the blacksmith’s to get a a shoe replaced on one of the horses. He let us go to the store alone to get our candy. Me and Mary had just come outside when this man pushed me aside, and stepped out into the street. He had called your son out. Mary said we needed to leave. That we shouldn’t see what was going to happen. I remember us heading back to our father when I ducked into an alley to watch. Mary tried to get me to leave, but I wouldn’t. When it was all over, your son got on his horse and rode out of town. I turned to Mary, and she was laying on the ground with a red stain on her chest. The man who called your son out had fired his gun as he fell dead, and that bullet hit my sister, killing her.” Ann said with tears flowing down her cheeks. “ After we buried my sister, I vowed I would hunt Johnny Madrid down, and make him pay for my sisters death. I had all but given up finding him because he had disappeared. My mother got sick the following year and died. I watched my father slowly die from a broken heart for the next two years. After he died, it was just me, so I started using a gun. I would practice every day for hours getting better, and faster as my anger and hatred for Johnny Madrid grew. I seen a picture of him in the paper, so I hired Frank and Roy to kidnap him for me. Last night was the first time I had realized the truth finally. I spent ten years hating a man for my sisters death that wasn’t his fault. I know what I did was wrong, and I will tell the sheriff so. I deserve to go to jail for trying to kill your son Mister Lancer.”

“Young lady, I’m sorry you lost your sister. I can promise you, if my son dies, I will do everything in my power to see that you go to prison for the rest of your life.” Murdoch said firmly. “ Scott, take him out and lock him up in the cell. You young lady, I will confine to a room downstairs. I don’t want you anywhere near my son.”

“ You have our word we will not leave. It’s not necessary for you to lock us up Mister Lancer.” Frank said.

“ If you think I am willing to let you just roam around until the sheriff can come arrest you……..”

“ You said there was another man. How  do we know he’s not out there right now just waiting to try and kill Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ You don’t.” Frank said. “ Look, I doubt Roy would, but I could be wrong.”

“ Scott, have a man posted in the tower. Tell the men to be on the lookout for anyone who doesn’t work for us.” Murdoch ordered.

Chapter 3 ( final chapter )

Johnny fought a fever for six days before it finally broke. Several times Murdoch, and Scott would place him in a tub of cold water.. Working in shifts, they stayed with Johnny round the clock until six days later when he finally opened his eyes. Now, four days later, he lay in bed thinking about what happened when his bedroom door opened.

“ Hey.” he said softly.

“ I thought you might be hungry.” Scott said as he walked in carrying a tray of food.

“ Where are they?” Johnny asked.

“ In Green River, in jail. Gabe wants to talk to you about what happened when you feel up to it.” Scott said as he set the tray of food down.

“ I don’t want them arrested Scott.” he said.

“ Johnny, they kidnapped you, and she tried to kill you.” Scott said.

“ I know what they did, and I know why. That’s why I’m not pressing charges against them.” Johnny said firmly.

“ You can’t be serious brother?”

“ Yes, I’m serious Scott. Ann has had enough guilt over her sisters death. She doesn’t need to be punished anymore.” Johnny said as Murdoch walked into the room.

“ He won’t press charges against them.” Scott said.

“ Are you sure about this son?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yeah, I’m sure. I’ve been laying here doing nothing but think about what’s happened, and why. I’m sorry if you can’t understand Scott. I think if it were you, you would though.”

“ I understand brother. It’s just that…….It’s hard. You’ve been living a good life for ten years, and then this woman shows up from your past. How many more are there out there? How many more are going to come and try and take my brother away from me?”

“ I don’t have that answer Scott. Maybe nobody will. What happened showed me that even after ten years, Johnny Madrid can never hang up his gun. I will never be able to go anywhere without it on my hip. I was a fool to even think I could live a normal life.”

“ What are you saying son?” Murdoch asked. “ Are you wanting to leave Lancer?”

“ No, that’s not what I’m saying Murdoch. What I’m saying is, I don’t want to lose the only family, or  real home I’ve ever had. I never thought I would live much past twenty one to be honest, and here I’m twenty eight.” Johnny said. “ I’m old for a gunfighter. Most of the men I knew are long gone.”

“ Johnny, is that why you won’t open your heart to a woman? You know, fall in love, get married, have children?” Scott asked.

“ Some. Who would want to spend their life with someone like me, with a past like mine? A past that even after ten years, comes back to haunt them?” Johnny asked.

“ I think you’re being to hard on yourself son. Yes I would like grandchildren from you boys. After all, I’m not getting any younger, but to hear you say what you just said, that troubles me. Any woman who cannot see what a good person you are, regardless of your past, in my book, she’s not worth the time of day.”

“ I may be wrong, but isn’t the oldest son supposed to be the first to marry and give you grandchildren?” Johnny asked.

“ Alright little brother. I think you’ve made your point.” Scott said with a smile.” Eat your lunch before it gets cold.”

“ I want to see them.” Johnny said.

“ See who son?” Murdoch asked.

“ Frank, and Ann. I need to talk to them.” he responded.

“ Alright son. I’ll send your brother in to tell Gabe what you said, and bring her back here. But not until you are stronger.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ Johnny, the other man, Roy, he’s still out there.” Scott said.

“ Yeah, I know. I’ll be seeing him again real soon.” Johnny responded.

“ So you planning on hunting him down?” Scott asked.

“ Nope, don’t have too. He’s still here.”

“ That man Frank said he’s not positive, but he doesn’t believe he will come around again.” Murdoch said.

“ He’s wrong. I’ve known men like Roy Martin before. He’s not going to forget about what happened. How Frank refused to ride out with him that day at the mine when she fired him .” Johnny explained.

“ Is he a gunfighter son?”

“ I don’t know. He could be. Name doesn’t ring a bell, but then again, I’ve been out of the game for ten years. So I don’t know.” Johnny responded.

“ So this man who helped Frank kidnap you, that shot you, is still around and could be coming after you again?” Scott asked.

“ Most likely he will brother. Relax, he won’t get the drop on me a second time.”  Johnny said.

“ No he won’t son, because you are staying here until this man is found and dealt with.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ Look, Murdoch, if you think I’m going to go into hiding from this man, think again. When I’m well enough, I’m ending this. I don’t want him hurting or using anyone to get to me.” Johnny said firmly.

“ Listen here young man……….I………..”

“ I’m not a little kid Murdoch. I’m almost twenty nine years old. I know you’re concerned for my safety, and I can appreciate that. I know men like Roy Martin, he’ll come here to the house.” Johnny cut in.

“ I don’t care how old you are son, you will always be my youngest, and a father has a right to worry about his children. If you ever become a father, you will be the same way.” Murdoch responded. “ So humor me please.”

Roy sat at a table in the saloon in Green River, drinking a cold beer when two men came. One young, and the other with Grey hair.

“ Hey Charlie, let us have a couple cold ones.” one of the men said as they sat down at a table next to him.

“ How’s Johnny doing?” Charlie asked as he brought them their beers.

“ He’s good. Damn lucky to be alive if you ask me.” the one man said as he paid for the beers.

“ Yeah, Mister Lancer said he fought a pretty high fever for several days, but is doing good now.” the other man said.

“ A lot of people still can’t believe what happened to him.” Charlie said. “ Kidnapped, and shot by a woman. They ever say why it happened?”

“ Nope, but I’ll bet it has something to do with his past.” the one said.

“ I’ve worked at Lancer for three years. I never knew he was the gunfighter Johnny Madrid. Hell he’s nothing like I heard down around the border.” the older man said.

“ What they say about Madrid?” the younger one asked.

“ In reality, or those damn dime store novels, it don’t matter. He’s Murdoch Lancer’s son, and a real good man to work with. A real hard worker.” the older man said. “ Scott too.”

“ I know. I was just askin’.” the younger one said.

“ Listen kid, Johnny came home ten years ago. His father had been looking for him ever since his mother took off in the middle of the night when he was only two. All he wants to do is live a normal life as a son, and brother. So do yourself a favor, and forget about it. Until this happened, Johnny’s lived a peaceful life as a Lancer.” the older man suggested

“ I’ve seen him face a man in the street. He’d been home a couple months when someone called him out. He came in with Scott to have a cold beer. Like you, I believed those damn dime store novels until that day. I watched him stand in that street and do everything he could trying to talk the man out of it. When the smoke cleared, that man lay dead in the street from a shot thru the heart. I have never seen anyone as fast as Johnny was that day.” Charlie said.

“ Yeah, but he ain’t no kid anymore. He’s got to be what almost thirty. There ain’t no gunfighter that old who can still draw that fast.” the kid said.

“ Finish your beer. We need to get those supplies back to Lancer before dark.” the older man ordered.

Roy sat there watching the two men walk out of the saloon. “ So the lousy bitch didn’t kill him. I knew she didn’t have the guts.” he said softly as he stood up, tossed a coin to Charlie, and walked out.

“ You’re not getting any younger amigo.” Johnny said as he put salve on a scrape on Barranca’ front right knee. “ As much as I hate to say it, I think I’m gonna have to retire you buddy. You’ve stumbled in the past, and this is the first time you’ve went down.”

“ How’s he doing?” Murdoch asked as he walked over to the stall.

“ He’s sore, but the swelling is almost gone, and this salve is helping heal the scrapes up.” Johnny said.

“ I know what Barranca means to you son, and he’s been a good horse, but have you given any thought as to retiring him?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yeah.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ He’s stumbled a few times. I guess I should since he’s pushing sixteen.”

“ He can still be used as a breeding stud if you want.” Murdoch said.

“ No, I think I’ll retire him. He’s earned it.” Johnny said. “ You come out here for a reason?”

“ I did. I rode over to Green River, and talked to Gabe. I told him what you said, and he says he needs to talk to you about the matter before he can release them from jail.” Murdoch explained. “ I told him you would come in tomorrow and talk to him.”

“ There’s nothing to talk about. I’m not pressing charges against them, so he’s got no call to keep them in jail.” Johnny said with a little anger in his voice.

“ And I respect your decision not too son.” Murdoch said.

“ Murdoch, I was wondering if you were coming in today.” Gabe said as the Lancer patriarch walked into the jail followed by Johnny.

“ Johnny, glad to see you up and around.”

“ Gabe, Murdoch said you had some questions you wanted to ask me about what happened.” Johnny said as he walked in.

“ Yeah, have a seat.” Gabe said as he stood up. “ Either of you care for a cup of coffee?”

“ No thank you.” Johnny said. “ Before I answer any questions Gabe, I want you to let them go. I’m not pressing charges against them.”

“ She told me why she did it, and feels she should pay for what she did to you Johnny.” Gabe said.

“ She’s paid enough for her sisters death. Let her go.” Johnny said.

“ How do you feel about this Murdoch?” the sheriff asked.

“ He don’t call the tune on this one.” Johnny cut in. “ This is my call Gabe.”

“ I have to side with John on this one Gabe. Even though she had intended on killing my son, and almost did, the girls paid enough.” Murdoch said as he gave his son a hard look.

The sheriff walked over and removed the keys to the cells from the hook. “ Alright. If you’re sure you want to do this, I can’t legally hold them.” he said before opening the door, and going back to unlock the cells.

“ John, you didn’t have to be that way toward me son.” Murdoch said.

“ Just giving back to you what you’ve always reminded me and Scott of all those years old man.” Johnny responded as Ann, and Frank walked out of the back.

“ Why don’t you both to come out to Lancer and have dinner with us Sunday?”  Murdoch asked. “ I have to go to Stockton, but will be back Saturday afternoon.”

“ Alright. I owe you that much at least.” Ann said.

“ We’ll be there Johnny. Thank you.” Frank said.

Roy stayed out of sight as he watched Frank and the woman leave the hotel the next afternoon, and ride out of town headed northwest. The only place they would be going to headed that way he knew would be Lancer. Mounting up, he figured he would say hi to his old friend, and if his hunch was true, have him tell Madrid he was coming for him.

“ Well, imagine my surprise when I seen Madrid ride into town, and have a nice little chat with the sheriff with his old man, and then watch as you two walk out of that jail free as a bird.” Roy said.

“ What the hell do you want?” Frank demanded.

“ I’m just curious as to why the sheriff let you two go is all? I mean, you did kidnap, and  try and kill a man.” Roy responded. “ Or did you work out some kind of deal with the law?”

“ I don’t know what you’re talking about Roy. Johnny didn’t press charges against us. That’s why we’re not in jail.” Frank said.

“ You take a liking to this……..”

“ Watch your tongue Roy. Ride on. We have nothing more to say to you.” he ordered.

“ That’s fine. You tell Madrid, I’m coming for him, and he won’t know when, where, or how.” Roy said as he turned his horse. “ And after I kill Madrid, I’m coming after you Frank. Nobody double-crosses me.”

“ I never double-crossed you.” Frank said.

“ I fired you because you shot Madrid when I wanted him brought to me unharmed.” Ann cut in.

“ I got plans for you too lady. Plans I’m going to enjoy.” he said before galloping off.

“ He used to be a good man. I don’t know what made him turn like he has.” Frank said as he watched Roy disappear from sight.

“ We need to tell Johnny.” Ann said.

“ He wants to talk to you, so maybe suggest a walk, or something, and tell him when alone. I have a feeling if we say anything around his father or brother, it will start a fight between them.” Frank suggested.

“ Yeah. I remember how they were the day we brought Johnny back.” she said as they rode on to Lancer.

Scott, came out of the house to greet Ann, and Frank. “ Climbed on down. I’m glad you decided to accept Johnny’s offer.” he said as  a hand came to take their horses. “ Come on inside.”

“ Riding up, I had no idea just how big your home is Mister Lancer.” Frank said.

“ Thank you. I’m afraid our father can’t be here tonight. He was detained in Stockton, and won’t be home until tomorrow afternoon.

“ It’s a very impressive estancia. It reminds me of one in Del Rio. My father told me a man named Paula Losoya Taylor built the very first hacienda some twenty years ago.” Ann said. “ I haven’t been back there in over ten years, but when I left, he was doing very well. He had these ditches dug all over his property to allow water to flow to his crops, where there would normally not be any water unless it rained. I can’t remember what they were called though.” Ann said.

“ Irrigation canals.” Scott said as he stood up, and walked over to greet their guest.

“ Yes, that’s it. Thank you……….”

“ Scott.”

“ Thank you Scott.” she said.

“ Listen, I promised my brother,  I wouldn’t bring up what happened to him, but I am  going to say this. I don’t think he should have let you go.” he said.

“ Neither do I, but unfortunately the sheriff couldn’t hold us without Johnny pressing charges.” Ann said.

“  May I offer you some lemonade?”

“ Lemonade will be fine. So………where is Johnny?” she asked.

“ He’ll be down directly.” Scott said as he poured a glass, and handed it to her. “ Mister Wilson, would you care for something a little stronger?”

“ Whiskey.” Frank said. “ This is as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside. I’m real happy for Johnny being able to have something like this.”

“ Our father bought Lancer thirty five years ago at auction.”

“ Just how big is this spread?” he asked.

“ One hundred thousand acres, with roughly twenty thousand head of beef.” Scott responded.

“ And some of the finest Caponero de Palomino’s in all the San Joaquin. There are more wild horses on this range, than a man could break in a lifetime.” Johnny said as he walked into the grand room. “ Ann, Frank, I’m glad you came.”

“ It’s the least we could do given all I’ve done to you, and your family Johnny.” Ann said as she noticed how nice he looked in a white shirt  with embroidered  stitching down the front, tucked into leather pants that fit low on his hips, she couldn’t help but notice fit him very nicely with  beautiful silver conchos running down the outside of each leg. A silver belt fastened snugly around his waist to complete the outfit.. His left arm still in a sling.“ You look very nice Johnny. Is your arm going to be alright?”

“ Yeah, Sam is making me wear this just to annoy me I think.” he responded.

“ Why don’t we sit down?” Scott suggested. Super won’t be ready for two hours yet.

“ Actually, I would like Ann to take a walk with me if she would? I have something I would like to talk to her about in private before supper Scott.” Johnny said as he gave her a slight smile.

“ Alright.” she said as she tried to avert her eyes.

Roy rode to the top of the hill and dismounted. A sign on the fence told him he was at the boundary of Lancer. Looking down at the valley below. “ Sure is empty looking on a Sunday.” he said aloud. “ I do believe I will just stay right here and watch you, then once it’s dark, I think I will kill you in front of your family.”

Johnny walked with Ann out toward the rose garden. “ You doing okay?”

“ I’m getting there thanks to you.” she said. “ This is beautiful.”

“ Teresa did all this years ago. She loved roses.” Johnny said. “ Course ten years ago, they were  no where near as big as they are now.”

“ I’m sorry.” she said.

“ For what?”

“ You said loved. I assumed she had passed.” Ann responded.

“ No, no, Teresa was Murdoch’s ward. She’s in San Francisco, married to some hot shot lawyer. We still see her at Christmas time. Her father was the foreman here until he was killed. Teresa like me was born on Lancer.” Johnny explained.

“ So who takes care of these beautiful rose bushes now?”

“ I do, but don’t tell anyone. Guess I got a knack for it, cause they sure are growing. I like to come out here sometimes to think.” Johnny said. “ I owe you an apology.”

“ An apology for what?” she asked.

“ That night at the shack. I tried to seduce you for my own personal gain.” Johnny said. “ I thought that if I could get you in a compromising position, I could escape.”

“ I see. So……..what I felt when you kissed me, you telling me that was all a lie?” she asked.

“ No, but my reasons were wrong. You were hurting from losing your sister, and I was using that hurt.” Johnny said softly.

Ann could see the pain in his eyes, and hear the sorrow in his voice. “ Johnny, I knew what you were trying to do okay. A  part of me wanted you to seduce me. I had no idea until I seen you, just how good looking you are. I thought you would look………..older. You got to remember, I was only eight years old when I seen you that day. I knew what could happen when I entered that room alone. The pain in your voice when you told me you didn’t know my sister had been killed, I knew it was real. When I lashed out at you, I should have been lashing out at me. I knew then I was blaming an innocent man for what was my fault. Until that day, I had never really cried for my sisters death. I’ve cried a lot since too, and it’s helped me to accept what has happened. What I am having trouble accepting, is what I did to you. I beat you, and I……….I shot an unarmed man.”

“ I’ve been beaten worse as I’m sure you seen the scars of.” Johnny said. “ As for shooting me after I dropped the gun, that was wrong. Ann, every man I’ve faced, I have tried to talk out of it. I don’t enjoy killing. Ann, I assume you’re good with that gun, don’t ever get to a point in your life where you take killin’ lightly. It’s not a good thing to kill a man, or cause a man to get killed. Makes you sick inside. It’s easy to kill a man, but it’s impossible to bring him back to life again.”

“ I think  I’m done wearing a gun. I think it’s about time I start acting more like a lady, and wear dresses and such. Only problem is, I haven’t worn a dress since I started using a gun.” Ann said.

“ I can imagine a lady like you would look pretty good in a dress. Find yourself some man, and settle down. Be a wife, and maybe have some kids.” he said.

“ I doubt that will ever happen.” she responded with a smile.

“ What about Frank? He seems to like you.” he asked.

“ I have no interest in Frank. At least not in that way.” she said. “ Johnny, when we left Green River, we were stopped by Roy about a mile out of town. He thinks we cut a deal with the law to be released from jail, and………he said to tell you he’s coming for you.”

“ I knew he was still around. Men like him don’t just go away. I appreciate you telling me alone. Murdoch, and Scott have become overbearing towards me. Murdoch thinks I should stay in the house.” Johnny said.

“ I can understand that. Especially after what you’ve been thru because of me and Frank.” she said.

“ I guess we better get inside.” he suggested. “ It should just about be supper time.”

“ How come you or you brother are not married?” she asked.

“ I don’t rightly know why Scott isn’t, but me, I almost did once, I thought she loved me, but that changed suddenly when she found out who I used to be. She left me a week before the wedding. Ever since, I haven’t took that kind of interest in a woman.” Johnny responded.

“ Did the two of you have your talk?” Scott asked at the table an hour later.

“ Yes we did.” Ann responded as she looked at Johnny.

“ That sounds like thunder, and rain.” Scott said as he stood up, and walked over to the veranda doors to look outside.

“ Doesn’t look like you two will be leaving tonight.” Johnny said.

“ We have plenty of guest rooms upstairs.” Scott said. “ I’ll have Consuela make sure two rooms are made up for you both.”

“ Man, when it rains, it rains here.” Frank said. “ Good thing it didn’t start raining while you two were outside.”

Johnny stood up, and walked around to pull her chair out.“ Would you care for some Brandy?”

Ann glanced over at Frank standing at the window, looking out at the storm. “ That would be nice.”

“ Consuela will have two rooms ready for you both in a few.” Scott said as he walked back into the grand room. “ Johnny, why don’t you get the fire started, I’ll go bring in some more wood to last us the night.”

“ Alright.” he responded as he walked over to the big fireplace.

“ I’ll help you bring some in Scott.” Frank said.

“ So what do you and Scott do in the evenings?” she asked as she walked over to the fireplace.

“ Me and Scott usually play a game of chess or some checkers. The old man, he’s usually at his desk going over the books.” Johnny responded as he struck a match, and started the fire.

“ It’s been years since I played. My father taught us…………..Every evening we would play checkers, except of Sunday’s. My father said chess can be traced back to the 6th century.” Ann said.

“ Yeah, a priest at the orphanage I was at taught me. He said chess originated in India during the Gupta Empire, and was known back then as chaturanga, which translates as four divisions of the military. Infantry, Cavaly, Elephantry, and Cariotry. We know the pieces as king, queen, knight, bishop, and rook.”

“ You know your history on chess. I’m impressed.” Ann said.

“ Why? Just because I was an orphan most of my childhood, doesn’t mean I didn’t learn.” Johnny responded.

“ I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply…….”

“ Forget it.” Johnny cut in.

“ This should be enough wood for the night.” Scott said as him and Frank walked in with arms full. “ Is everything alright?” he asked. He could tell something was wrong by the way his brother was looking at Ann.

“ Everything’s fine.” Johnny said as he left the room, and headed upstairs.

“ What happened?” Scott asked.

“ We were talking about chess, and when he told me the history of it, I said I was impressed, and I’m afraid your brother took it as me thinking he was stupid.” Ann responded. “Scott, I never meant to imply that about Johnny.”

“ You care about my brother now that you know him don’t you?” Scott asked.

“ Yes I do. I think Johnny is a wonderful person. I hate what I did to him Scott, and I would take it back if I could. I have to live with what I did to him for the rest of my life. Just like I have to live with it being my fault that my sister was killed that day in Del Rio.” she responded.

“ Have you bothered to tell him how you feel Ann?” Frank asked.

“ I almost did when we were in the rose garden, but decided not too.” she said.

“ Why?” Scott asked.

“ Why? I almost killed him Scott. How could he have any interest in a woman who beat him, and shot him twice, nearly killing him?”

“ You said Johnny is a good person. That he is. My brother believes strongly in second chances Ann. I seen how he was looking at you tonight during supper. He’s interested in you.” Scott said.

“ He told me he almost got married once. That a week before the wedding she left him, but never said why.” she said.

“ She was killed by a man who came gunning for Johnny. We had just come out of the church when he called Johnny out, she stepped in front of him when the man pulled his gun, and fired. She died in his arms. One week before they were to be married.” Scott explained.

“ Oh my…………What should I do Scott?” she asked.

“ Go to him. Tell him how you feel.” he suggested. “ His bedroom is the first door on the left.”

“ Thank you.” Ann said as she headed to the stairs.

“ You play checkers?” Scott asked Frank.

“ Not in a long time, but I think I can remember how.” Frank said.

Roy watched the house from the hill. When they storm rolled in, and the rain started coming down hard, he made his way down to a spot at the back of the house, far enough away he wouldn’t be seen. He had seen Madrid and Ann walk back into the house after spending some time in a patch of roses. He watched as a man came out the back door with Frank, grabbed some firewood, and took it back inside.

“ Four of you inside. Don’t matter, I’ll find you, and I’ll kill you Madrid.” he said with coldness in his voice.

Ann stopped outside the first door on the left, and knocked. “ Johnny, it’s me. Can I come in?” Getting no response, she opened the door slowly, and stepped inside. She could see Johnny standing at his window, looking outside at the storm. Closing the door, she walked over to stand closer to him. “ Johnny, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…..”

“ You shouldn’t have come up here Ann.” he said, cutting her off.

“ I had too come up here. I……….I need to tell you what I think you already know.”

Johnny turned and faced her. “ Don’t you know pretty girls and gunfighters don’t mix?”

“ You don’t look that dangerous to me.” Ann said.

“ I am.” Johnny said.

“ I don’t want to leave your room.” she said.

“ Ann, I can’t do what you came up here wanting. I can’t.” Johnny said. “ I’m sorry.”

“ I see. Can I ask why?” she asked as she walked over and sat down on his bed.

“ I would think the reason would be clear to you.” he responded. “ I believe people deserve a second chance, but……..I can’t bed a woman who tried to kill me, and I won’t bed a woman in my fathers house that I’m not married to. I’m not what you want.”

Ann stood up and started toward the door. “ I guess my coming up here made me a fool. I’m sorry Johnny.” she said before opening the door, and walking out.

Johnny woke up suddenly around midnight, slipping his pants on, he went to his drawer and pulled out the colt he kept at the back of the top drawer. Something was wrong. The storm had stopped, but the wind still howled. Every instinct told him something, or someone was in the house. Opening his door cautiously, he peered out, and could see no light coming from the rooms Ann, and Frank slept in. Looking down the hall to his right, he see light coming from under his brothers door. Looking left toward the stairs, he could see nothing in the darkness. Cocking the colt he stepped out into the hall, and walked to the top of the stairs where he seen someone standing in the shadows at the bottom. “ Scott?” he said softly just before shots rang out, and he felt the all to familiar white hot pain of a bullet entering his body. Fanning his colt, Johnny fired as he dove to the wall, and lay on the floor as his brother opened his door.

“ Johnny!”  Scott yelled.

“ Stay down. There’s someone at the bottom of the stairs!” he responded.

Scott stayed low, and made his way to his brother as Ann, and Frank came out of their rooms.

“ What’s going on?” Frank asked as he came up behind Scott, followed by Ann.

“ Someone’s in the house. Stay here with Johnny. I’m going to go down the back stairs, and come around behind them.” Scott said softly.

“ I’ll go with you.” Frank said. “ Ann, you stay here with Johnny. There could be more than one person.”

Johnny found it hard to hold his colt as darkness tried to take him. Shaking it off, he stood up, and moved closer to the top stair, he could see the body of a man laying on the floor, not moving. What seemed like hours later, he seen light shine from a lamp his brother had lit.

“He’s dead Johnny.” Scott said as he came up the stairs.

“ It’s Roy.” Frank said.

Johnny looked at Ann, and then at his brother. “ I think I need Sam.” he said as he brought his left hand covered in blood, away from his right side. I think the bullet hit a rib. Hurts like hell to breath now.”

Murdoch walked into the house the next morning. “ What happened? Why is Sam here?” he demanded.

Scott stood up, and walked over to him. “ Johnny’s been shot. Sam’s upstairs removing the bullet now.”

“ Shot, what the devil happened? Did she shoot him again?” he asked with anger.

“ No, Ann didn’t shoot him. It was the other man, Roy. He broke in during the storm. Around midnight Johnny came out of his room. I was in my room reading. I heard his bedroom door opened, but figured he was just going down to check on the fire. I didn’t know something was wrong until I heard the shots. When I came out of my room, Johnny was at the top of the stairs, and yelled at me that someone was in the house. Me and Frank made our way down the back stairs, and around to the man. Johnny had shot him twice in the chest, killing him. I went up the stairs to him, and that’s when he said he needed Sam, just before passing out.”

“ Why were they here in the middle of the night? Did she……….”

“ The storm left us no option but to stay the night Mister Lancer, and I can assure you, Johnny did not take me to his bed. I wanted him too, but he refused to do it out of respect for you.” Ann said.

“ Young lady, I think it’s best that you and Frank leave. I don’t want you around my son ever again.” Murdoch ordered.

“ It’s not her fault Murdoch.” Scott said.

‘ It is her fault. None of this would have happened if she hadn’t had him kidnapped, and………”

“ He’s right Scott. We’ll leave Mister Lancer. Scott would you tell Johnny, I’m sorry for everything please.” Ann said before walking to the door with Frank and leaving.”

“ You had no call to be rude like that sir.” Scott said.

“ I had every right. It’s my job to protect you and your brother. He has been shot three times now because of that woman.” Murdoch snapped back. “ I’m sorry for what happened to her sister. It wasn’t Johnny’s fault, yet ten years later not once, not twice, but for the third time he’s been shot because of her blindness to the truth son. Now if you want to be angry with me for trying to keep you boys safe, then so be it.” Murdoch said as he looked out the big bay window behind his desk at the two riders passing under the Lancer arch. “ How long has Sam been up there?”

“ About two hours now.” Scott said. “ There’s hot coffee made, and some biscuits on the table from last night.”

“ Thank you son, but I’m fine.” Murdoch said as he headed to the stairs. “ I’m going to go up and see how he’s doing.”

“ He’s unconscious still.” Sam said from the top of the stairs.

“ How bad is it?” he asked as Sam came down the stairs.

“  I have never known someone to be as lucky as that boy is Murdoch. He has a very deep furrow on his right side. I cleaned it out good and stitched it up. His ribs are  bound up to ease the pressure when he breaths.” Sam explained.

“ Johnny said it felt like the bullet  hit a rib because it hurt to breath.” Scott said.

“ Did he have a shirt on when he was shot?” he asked.

“ No, he didn’t Sam. Why?”

“ I found nothing in the wound like I would if he had. Which means he shouldn’t get a fever. The rib doesn’t feel broken, but it is most definitely fractured, and will cause him considerable discomfort for several months.” Sam responded.

Johnny came downstairs four months later, and sat down at the kitchen table. “ Morning Murdoch.”

“ John, you seem happy this morning. That wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that your brother is coming home today would it?”

“ No, I mean, yeah I’m happy Scott is coming back, but that’s not the reason.” Johnny responded as he poured a cup of coffee.

“ Then would you mind telling me why?” he asked.

“ Sam releases me to full work duty today.” Johnny said.

“ You feel you’re  ready to go back to full work son?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yeah. Spring rains will be coming soon, and the work will be picking up.” he said. “ Listen, Murdoch, about what happened. I know, as well as you, and Scott, that even though it’s been almost eleven years, someone could come along and call me out.”

“ Not………..”

“ Just hear me out please……….I made my peace with God when in that line-shack. I mean, I always thought it would be a bullet that killed Johnny Madrid, not a woman full of anger. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I hope you’ve accepted that that can happen to me at any time.” Johnny said.

“ I have, and I know your brother has as well. But hear me, as long as I am alive, I will do everything in my power to keep both my sons alive, and safe. It’s my duty as your father. Something I wasn’t able to do for you growing up, but am trying to do now.” Murdoch said.

“ Something we are both trying to do with you little brother.” Scott said from the entrance to the grand room.

“ Hey Boston, bought time you come back.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ Welcome home son. Have any trouble?”

“ No, all the contracts are signed.” Scott said as he walked over, and handed them to his father.

“ Thought maybe we were gonna have to send a search part out for you.” Johnny said as the brothers hugged.

“ No, see sending out a search party is what we do for you little brother.” Scott said with a smile.

“ Why, I was hiding in plain sight.” Johnny said, causing all three Lancer men to break out laughing.

The End


Research Notes:

History of Chess:

The history of chess can be traced back nearly 1500 years, although the earliest origins are uncertain. The earliest predecessor of the game probably originated in India, before the 6th century AD. From India, the game spread to Persia. When the Arabs conquered Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently spread to Southern Europe. In Europe, chess evolved into roughly its current form in the 15th century.

” Romantic chess ”was the predominant chess playing style from the late 15th century to the 1880s. Chess games of this period emphasized more on quick, tactical maneuvers rather than long-term strategic planning. The Romantic era of play was followed by the Scientific, Hyper-modern, and New Dynamism eras. In the second half of the 19th century, modern chess tournament play began, and the first official World Chess Championship was held in 1886.

Precursors to chess originated in India during the Gupta Empire. There, its early form in the 6th century was known as chaturanga, which translates as “four divisions (of the military)”: Infantry, Cavalry, Elephantry, and Chariotry. These forms are represented by the pieces that would evolve into the modern pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively.


Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email Nancy Marie directly.


2 thoughts on “Hiding in Plain Sight by Nancy Marie

    1. I’m glad you liked it. Johnny does have a big heart. I think it’s because he was so abused growing up maybe, and he figures it’s easier to forgive and forget.


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