Prodigal Son by Nancy Marie

I don’t own them * sigh * I’m just borrowing them for some fun and adventure. All original characters from the show belong to their rightful owners. Any other characters belong to me, and may not be used without my permission. This story is rated R for language and mild romance.

Murdoch Lancer
Scott Garrett Lancer
Johnny Madrid Lancer
Teresa O’Brian
Sam Jenkins
Harlan Garrett
Mollie White
Amelia Sanchez
Don Luis Cortez
Alejandra Cortez
Mack Rogers
Adam Hughes

Word count: 66,830

Chapter 1

“ Pick him up!” Johnny yelled as he reined Barranca to a stop. Seeing two more steers to his left go up and over the hill, he reined Barranca around some downed branches and up to the top. Looking down the other side, he spotted a buggy sitting in the road with the right rear wheel laying on the ground. Sitting in the buggy was an old man.

“ Oh thank god. I was beginning to think nobody lives in this godforsaken, desolate area.” the older man said. “ Do you speak English?”

Johnny immediately got a bad feeling about his man.

“ Well answer me half-breed! Do you speak…..”

“ I speak English very well old man.” Johnny said. “ You’re on private property. You have a reason for being on Lancer land?” he asked. Usually he was polite with people, but this man gave him a bad feeling, and had immediately assumed he couldn’t speak English.

“ I know perfectly well whose land I am on boy.” the man said. “ Why don’t you go to your employer and have a buggy come get me. That is if you understand what I said.”

“ Oh I understand what you said perfectly well old man. You need to learn some manners.” he said before riding away.

“ To think Murdoch Lancer took one of those people to bed and spawned one of those half-breeds.” the man said as he watched the rider move two cows up and over the hill.

Hey Walt! Ride back to the ranch and bring a buggy out here to pick up an old man on the other side of the hill. He’s sitting there with a busted wheel.” Johnny ordered.

Scott walked into the house late afternoon. “ I finished with that surveying.”

“ Good. I’ll get that report sent in tomorrow.” Murdoch said as he stood up.

“ I seen Walt hitching up the buggy. He said something about someone needing picked up because their buggy broke a wheel.”

“ Yes, I talked to him.” Murdoch said. “ I guess Johnny came across the man while rounding up strays.”

“ Did Johnny say who the man was?”  he asked.

“ No.” his father said.

“ Are you expecting someone?” Scott asked.

“ No. Why don’t you go see how the crew is coming on the foot bridge?”

“ Alright.” Scott said before leaving.

Murdoch walked to the kitchen. “ Teresa, set another plate for supper. It would seem we have a visitor coming.”

“ A visitor……..who?” she asked.

“ That question will be answered when he gets here.” he said. “ It would seem his buggy has a broken wheel, so Walt is going out to get him.”

Murdoch walked outside with Teresa as the buggy pulled up and stopped. “ Harlan. What are you doing here?”

“ Murdoch, I don’t believe I need a reason to come see my Scotty.” Harlan said as he climbed down from the buggy.

“ Walt, take Mister Garrett’s luggage to a guest room upstairs.” Murdoch ordered.

“ I’ll show you.” Teresa said.

Murdoch turned and followed Teresa inside. “ Scott isn’t here right now. Drink.”

“ Yes, thank you.” Harlan said. “ One of your hands was quiet rude to me. Something I’m not surprised to encounter from the type of people you have working for you.”

Murdoch poured two brandy’s and handed him one. “ Let’s not waste anymore of each others time Harlan. What are you doing here?”

“ That’s not a very hospitable way of putting it.” Harlan said.

“ I don’t feel very hospitable at the moment.” Murdoch said.

“ Surely we can have a friendly conversation.” Harlan suggested.

“ Why?” Murdoch asked. “ Our last conversation wasn’t on that basis.”

“ Well perhaps you’re right, but that was years ago. Any differences between us are finished.” Harlan said.

“ Are they?” Murdoch demanded.

“ Well there’s nothing to be gained  by hostility Murdoch. You got your two sons at your side. Splendid ranch, wealth, everything you want.” Harlan retaliated.

“ That takes care of me. What about you, what do you want?” Murdoch asked.

Harlan walked over and picked up a picture sitting on the desk. “ Dear precious Catherine. I don’t remember this picture.”

“ One of the memento’s you left behind in Carterville.” Murdoch responded.

“ She was the only thing of real value in my life.” he said.

“ The only thing? What about Scott? Where does he register on that scale?” Murdoch asked.

“ Catherine was my daughter.” he said softly.

“ She was my wife. The mother of my son!” Murdoch said with anger.

“ I did what I thought was best. It was my responsibility.” he said.

“ To kill her? If she hadn’t been moved. If you had waited until I got there!” Murdoch explained.

“ What chance would she have had in that filthy little town. I wanted what was only best for Catherine.” he said.

“ Do you call that the best, leaving her to die in a wagon on a deserted road?” he demanded.

“ That’s all in the past.” Harlan said as he set the picture down.

“ Not to me it isn’t. No sir it’s right now! You kept my son away from me for twenty four years.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ What could you have done for Scotty? A down the hills dreamer with nothing.”

“ He was still my son!”

“ But I’m the one who raised him. I’m the one he belongs too.”

“ Now it makes sense why you’re here.”

“ Really?”

“ Yes, you want to take Scott back to Boston with you.”

“ Scotty has a legacy waiting for him in Boston. An estate of considerable worth.”

“ He has an estate right here.”

“ To be shared with his half-breed brother. No Murdoch, there’s no comparison between what each of us can give Scotty. He belongs in the world where he grew up. With the right people  where he can make something worthwhile of his life.”

“You’re forgetting one thing Harlan, he’s not a child anymore, he’s a grown man with a will of his own.”

“ Whether Scotty returns to Boston or not should be solely his decision. Without any outside influence. Not yours, Not mine. Agreed Murdoch.”

“ Mister Garrett, I can show you to your room if you would like to freshen up, and rest before supper.” Teresa said.

“ I’m not a fool Harlan. This is my home, you’re a guest in . Though uninvited, I will allow you to stay here and see Scott, but I will not allow you to try and persuade him in leaving his home.” Murdoch said. “ I have work to do. Supper is at six.”

Harlan turned and followed Teresa upstairs.

Scott walked in the house. “ The footbridge will be finished tomorrow.” He said.

“ Good. Your grandfather is here son. He’s upstairs resting.” Murdoch said.

“ Grandfather is here. Why?” he said.

“ He wouldn’t say other than he’s here to see you.” Murdoch said.

“ Johnny back yet?” Scott asked.

“ Not yet.” Murdoch said.

“ Is something wrong sir?” Scott asked.

“ Are you happy here son?’ he asked.

“ Yes. Did something happen between you and grandfather?”

“ I’m just concerned why he shows up here unannounced.” Murdoch said.

“ I plan to ask him that very question. If he came here thinking he can get me to go back to Boston with him. I’m afraid it’s a wasted trip.”

Scott said firmly.

“  Why don’t you go get cleaned up for supper.” he suggested. “ I have a feeling this will be an interesting evening.”

Scott smiled before turning to head upstairs.

Johnny walked into the house and removed his gun belt, and hung it on the coat rack by the front door. “ Sorry I’m late Murdoch……I.”

“ That’s alright son. Did you get the herd moved?” Murdoch asked.

Johnny sat down. “ Yeah.”

“ Well this must be Scott’s half-brother Johnny Madrid?” Harlan said.

“ Well it’s not Madrid anymore sir, it’s Lancer.” Johnny said as he sat down.

“ Forgive me of course.” he said.

“ Scott’s talked my ear off about you and Boston.” Johnny said.

“ Let’s see now, your mother was a foreigner now wasn’t she?” he asked.

“ Mexican.” Johnny said with discomfort.

“ Yes, I understand she was a very lovely woman.” Harlan said.

“ Uh grandfather, how long can you stay?” Scott asked.

“ I haven’t gave it any thought really.” Harlan responded.

“ What are you not telling us?” Johnny asked.

Harlan looked at him. He could tell there would be no fooling this man. Picking up his napkin, he dabbed at his mouth, took a sip of wine, and cleared his throat.

“ Grandfather?”

“  It would seem the news has not reached you.” Harlan said. “ It’s gone. Everything is gone.”

“ What do you mean it’s gone?” Scott asked.

“ They say about sixty five acres of Boston went up in flames. Fire chief engineer John Damrell said it started in the basement of a warehouse on the corner of Summer and Lincoln street.” Harlan explained. “ It was finally stopped at the corner of Washington and Milk street. Thirty people died…..and twelve of them were firefighters.”

“ My god.” Murdoch said.

“ Several businesses were lost. Both the Boston Globe, and Boston Herald, Shreve, Crump, and Low jewelry store.” he said.

“ That’s where I bought Catherine’s wedding ring.” Murdoch said.

“ The church where you and Catherine were married…’s gone.” Harlan said.

“ Trinity Church. It was built over a hundred years ago, back in the early eighteenth century.” Murdoch said.

“ Rice and Hutchins Shoe, Carter’s Ink, and numerous warehouses are gone.” Harlan added. “ Mayor William Gaston said the fire was like the one in Chicago that killed three hundred people last year.”

Scott stood up, and walked outside.

Murdoch stood up. “ Excuse me.” he said before heading outside.

“ Do they know what started the fire?” Teresa asked.

“ Some speculate insurance fraud.” Harlan said.

“ You mean someone started this horrible fire just so they could make money?” she asked.

“ Men have done worse things than that for money Teresa.” Johnny said.

“ But thirty people died. I hope they are punished.” she said as she stood up and left the room.

Harlan looked at Johnny. “ I’m sorry to be the bearer of such bad news.”

Johnny stood up. “ Interest you in something a little stronger than wine?”

“ A brandy would be nice.” Harlan responded.

“ You lose anything in that fire?” Johnny asked as he walked over to the sideboard.

“ No, I was one of the lucky ones.” he said.

Johnny poured two brandy’s and handed him one. “ You don’t care for my kind do you Garrett?”

“ About as much as you having respect for your elders.” Harlan responded.

“ Respect isn’t something I give freely.” Johnny said. “ You have to earn respect from me.”

“ I know your price?” he asked.

“ My price….What the hell you talking about?”” Johnny asked.

“ I know what it cost Murdoch to get you to come home.” Harlan said. “ One thousand dollars for one hour of your time…….Oh and let us not forget allowing you a third of this godforsaken ranch.”

“ Why I came back here is none of your concern old man?” Johnny said with irritation.

Harlan walked over closer to him. “ You know nothing about me, and what I’m capable of doing to get what I want.”

“ I know all about men like you. I’ve dealt with men like you before….so don’t think you can scare me with your threats.” Johnny said.

“ You sure about that half-breed?” Harlan asked with coldness in his voice. “ You may go by Lancer now, but I know of men who would gladly come here for the chance to kill you, or maybe even kill Murdoch just to get at you.”

“ Let me tell you something old man……….Anything happens to Murdoch or Scott, I’ll hunt you down and send you to hell.” Johnny said firmly.

Johnny walked into the grand room  to find his father sitting at his desk. Walking over he started drumming his fingers on the edge of the desk. “ Scott back yet?”

“ Not yet.” he said.

“ He’s been gone almost every day with that old man ever since he came here a week ago.” he said.

“ I’m aware of that son.” Murdoch said.

Johnny stopped drumming his fingers, and let out a sigh. “ You know, I know it was hard for you to locate me down in Mexico after all those years, you know trying to locate one stray boy.”

“ Took time.” Murdoch said.

“ Yeah…..Well what I’m wondering about is….you know….where Scott was all that time? What took you so long?” he asked.

“ It took time.” Murdoch said as Scott walked into the room.

“ Hey brother. Have a good time?” Johnny asked.

“ Most of it.” Scott said. “ Johnny…can you leave us alone.”

“ I think I’ll go see what Teresa is fixing for supper.” Johnny said before walking away.

“ Murdoch, I think you and I are due a little talk. There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.” Scott said.

Murdoch sat back in his chair. “ Well go on and ask it.”

“ It’s the past, I guess it doesn’t die that easy.” Scott said as he sat on the edge of the desk.

“ It will if you let it.” Murdoch said. “ No reason to dredge up the past. What we got is here and now. That has to be all that counts. You understand that don’t you son?”

“ Yes, I understand that. That means don’t ask questions. Especially why you never came to Boston to claim me.”

“ I wanted to take you with me. There just wasn’t any way.”

“ But you’re my father!”

“ Nobody knows that better than I do, and I’m grateful.”

“ Grateful for what? Because you let someone else raise your son!”

“ Listen Scott, all I ask in one thing. If you got any decisions to make, don’t make them out of anger.”

“ I told you I would not leave here and go back to Boston. Lancer is my home, but not knowing why you never came for me for twenty four years…..It makes me wonder.”

“ Makes you wonder about what son?”

“ About if I really do belong here.” Scott responded before heading upstairs.

Johnny could tell something was wrong between his father and brother.  The two men hardly exchanged words since that afternoon Scott spoke to him in private. Since his grandfather came to visit, Scott seemed to not want to talk to anyone. Evenings he spent usually talking to his grandfather, or in his bedroom.

“ Johnny, I want you and Scott to ride out tomorrow and check the line-shacks. Take notes of any repairs that will be needed.” Murdoch requested.

“ Johnny will have to do it alone.” Scott said.

“ Something wrong son?” Murdoch asked.

“ I’ve decided to go back to Boston with grandfather.” he said as he looked at the little brother he had come to love more than anything. “ We will be leaving at weeks end.” he said before heading upstairs.

“  It was a surprise to me too I must say, a very pleasant surprise.” Harlan said.

“ Really?” Murdoch said as he stood up. “ You come here unannounced to see Scott, and just a few days later he’s going back to Boston with you. Makes me wonder just what you said to him today.”

Scott avoided his brother as much as possible the two remaining days at Lancer. The morning of his leaving, he was confronted by his brother as he secured their luggage.

“ So just like that huh, you suddenly decide you’re going back to Boston?” Johnny demanded.

“ That’s right.” Scott said as he tightened a rope.

“ What’s the matter big brother, you get a little sand in your boots you gotta run home?” Johnny asked sarcastically.

“ Johnny!” Murdoch said.

“ I want to know why Murdoch. That’s all.” Johnny said as he walked around to the right side of the buggy.

“ I’m just not cut out for this kind of life that’s all. Anyway, you got along without me before. You’ll do just fine from now on.” Scott said.

“ I’m sure Scotty feels a deep regret, but after all he did live twenty four years of his life in Boston.” Harlan said as he climbed in the buggy.

“ Scott….Scott, we don’t want you to go.” Teresa said.

“ I know…..There’s no reason why you can’t come to Boston to see me.”

“ Planning on taking the afternoon stage?” Murdoch asked.

“ We’ll cut south and pick up the train..”

“ Good idea. Save a lot of rough travel.”

“ Yeah.”

“ Son…..take care of yourself.” Murdoch said as he stepped closer, and shook his sons hand.

“ Yeah.” Scott said as he glanced to his brother.

“ If you ever feel that you…..”

“ Scotty, we better be on our way.” Harlan cut in and said.

“ Bye Scott.” Johnny said as the buggy left the yard. “ Seems to me Murdoch,  you could have tried a little harder. You could have put up a fight.” Johnny said as he tossed a rock in the air,

“ He’s a man Johnny, not a little boy. It’s his decision.” Murdoch responded.

“ Well that may be good enough for you, but it’s not for me!” Johnny said with anger as he tossed the rock and walked away.

“ I never thought he would leave.” Teresa said. “ He seemed so happy here.”

“ I pray I don’t lose my other son too.” Murdoch said before turning to walk back inside the house.

Don Luis Cortez sat looking out the window deep in thought when his beautiful wife Alejandra entered the bedroom.

“ Are you alright my love?” she asked as she walked over to him.

“ He’s out there somewhere.” Don Luis said.

“ It has been five years. Perhaps he is no longer in Mexico.” she suggested.

‘”A man like him does not just disappear.” he said. “ If he is dead, we would have heard about it. Perhaps he is no longer along the border?”

“ You think maybe he went back to his father?” she asked.

“  From what he told me, his gringo father threw them both out when he was a baby. I doubt he would go back to him.” he responded.

“ Please get back in bed. You know the doctor does not want you exerting yourself too much.” she requested.

Don Luis stood up, and slowly made his way back to bed. “ You have been a good wife to me. It worries me that I will soon be leaving you alone.”

“ Do not worry about me my love. I will be alright.” she said as she sat down on the bed next to him.

“ I need you to do two things for me. In the top drawer of my bureau is a letter I have written. When I die, I wish that letter to be delivered to him if he is found, I want you and Father Francisco to deliver it.” Don Luis said.

“ Are you sure you want to do this my love? He may not take the news well.” she said.

“ If I had only known when he was here. It may anger him, but I know in my heart he will accept the news.” he said. “ He has a good heart.”

“ And the other?” she asked.

“ I want you to go back to Mexico City after. Sell the estancia, and go back to your family.” he said.

“ Have you sent the letter yet telling them you relinquish your part of that godforsaken ranch?” Harlan asked as they sat eating supper.

“ What guarantee do I have that you won’t do it?” Scott asked.

“ Scotty my boy. You have my word. You agree to stay here, and never return to California, and I will not put a bounty out on that half-breed half-brother of yours.” Harlan said. “ What my Catherine ever seen in Murdoch Lancer, I will never understand.”

“ She loved him sir, and I will not have you ill speaking of my father.” Scott said with anger. “ And I will not allow you to call my brother a half-breed.”

“ If he loved her so much, then why did he bed a Mexican whore so soon after her death and create that killer?” he demanded. “ And I might remind you young man, this is my house. Therefore I will speak in any manner I wish about any person I want.”

Scott stood up and tossed his napkin on his plate. “ That’s enough. You got what you wanted, just like you always do. You don’t care who you hurt in the process.” Scott spat before turning and going upstairs to his room. Five months ago his life was happy, and complete, now he felt alone in a strange place. He’d attended a couple of parties to see his friends, but it just wasn’t the same as before he went to California. He hated not being able to tell his father and brother the real reason he left, and hoped that some day he would be able too, and they would understand. He missed his brother the most, and prayed every night he wouldn’t leave Lancer and go back to living by his gun. Sitting down at his desk, he took out some paper, and set to writing the hardest letter he would ever write.

Johnny walked into the house six months after his brother left, and went to the sideboard. “ Got all the fencing done at south gully.”

“ That’s good son.” Murdoch said as he sat back in his chair. “ Randall came to see me today.”

“ Randall….What did he want?” Johnny asked as he walked over to the desk.

“ Your brother signed over his third of the ranch.” Murdoch said. “ He sent his copy of the contract signed and a short note telling he no longer will be a partner in the ranch, and he forfeits his share.”

“ Something isn’t right with this whole thing Murdoch.” Johnny spat. “ That old man used something against Scott to get him to leave here.”

“  I believe that also son, but there is nothing we can do about it.” Murdoch said. “ Your brother made his decision, and doing this confirms that whatever Harlan Garrett holds over him, he’s not coming back.”

“ So what now?” Johnny asked as Teresa walked into the room.

“ I’ll have the contract changed to were you are half owner.” Murdoch said. “ Why don’t you take some time off and go to town son? You’ve been working hard every day since he left.”

“ I’m fine.” Johnny said. “ I’m going to go clean up for supper.”

Teresa watched Johnny go upstairs. “ I’m worried about him Murdoch.” she said. “ It’s been six months. He’s hardly eating, he’s working himself to exhaustion.”

“ Scott signing over his third of the ranch confirms he’s not coming back, and I think that’s what he needed before he could start accepting it.” Murdoch said.

Alejandra stood on the porch watching the sun set.

“ Do you think they will find him?” Father Francisco asked.

“ I believe he is still alive.” she said.

“ It is hard to believe Don Luis is gone.” Father Francisco said.

“ My husband was a good man. I will miss him dearly.” she said.

“  Can I ask what you will do?” Father Francisco asked.

“ Once Johnny is found, and we deliver the letter,  I will be going back to Mexico City. It was my husband’s dying wish that I not stay here.” she said.

“ I worked for a man once down in Mexico. His name was Don Luis Cortez. He didn’t have a big estancia like most, but it was good sized.” Johnny said. “ His wife, Alejandra was a real elegant, beautiful woman. It wasn’t gun work, just ranch work or whatever he needed.”

“ What made you think of him son?” Murdoch asked as he shuffled the cards.

Johnny stood up and walked over to pour them both a brandy. “ I don’t know. It was four years ago. I worked for him thru the winter before I left.”

“ Why did you leave?” Teresa asked.

“ The Revolution of the North war.” Johnny said as he walked back over and handed his father a brandy.

“ Thank you. What was this man like?” Murdoch said and asked.

“ Strict like you on work being done.”  he said. “ Only he never lost his temper with anyone. At least not while I was there. There was something about his voice when you talked to him….He had a way of getting me to open up. I told him about my mother being killed when I was ten, and had lived on my own since. He told me he had a daughter who ran away years ago, and he could never find her. I guess the loss killed his first wife. He said  he met Alejandra in Mexico City and they were married a year later. There was just something about him I can’t explain. It’s like I knew him, but I’ve never seen him before the day he hired me. You would have liked them Murdoch. They were well respected, good people.” Johnny said.

“ I need you to go to Green River tomorrow and pick up our lumber order.” Murdoch said.

“ Can’t one of the hands do it Murdoch?” he asked.

“ They could, but I want you to do it son. You can take Teresa with you. I’m sure she will need some things.” his father responded.

“ Teresa, it’s good to see you.” Sam said.

“ Sam, it’s good to see you.” Teresa said. “ How are you?”

“ I’m good.” Sam said.

“ Did you come to town with Murdoch?” he asked.

“ No. I came with Johnny. He’s over loading lumber.” she responded.

“ How’s he doing?” Sam asked.

“ Not good. Mister Randall got a letter from Scott telling him he no longer wants to be a third owner in Lancer.” Teresa said.

“ Oh dear. So I guess there is no hope of him returning?” he asked.

“ It would seem not. I’m worried about Johnny, Sam. This is the first time he’s left the ranch since Scott left. He’s hardly eating. He looks like he’s not sleeping that much in the mornings. Whenever me or Murdoch ask him, he says he’s fine. I don’t know if he will ever be the Johnny we all love again.” she explained.

“ How is Murdoch handling it?” he asked.

“ Better than Johnny, and he’s afraid he will lose him too.” she said. “ If Johnny leaves….it will devastate him.”

“ I don’t think he will do that. Getting that letter will help him heal now. He knows Scott will not be returning.” Sam said.

“ I hope you’re right Sam.” she said.

“ It’s been a year. I’m sure Johnny will stay.” Sam said. “ Well, I need to finish my rounds.”

To: Chapter 1- Research Notes


Chapter 2

Johnny stopped the buggy and climbed down as Murdoch came outside. “ The order will be ready tomorrow.” he said as he helped Teresa down. “ I picked up the mail while I was there.”

“ Johnny, I hired two new men while you were in town.” his father said.

“ Who?” Johnny asked as they walked inside.

“ Mack Rogers and Adam Hughes.” Murdoch said. “ They’re in the bunkhouse getting settled in. I want you to take them with you  tomorrow to pick up the lumber.”

“ Okay. I’ll take Barranca, they can ride in the wagon. I’m going to go get cleaned up before supper.” he said before heading upstairs.

“ He never went to have a cold beer while he waited for me to finish my shopping.” Teresa said. “ He just sat outside and waited.”

“ He’ll come around sweetheart. We just need to be patient.” Murdoch said.

Johnny sat on his bed rereading the letter he got from his brother. It had been almost two years since Scott had left.


I know words can never heal the pain you felt, and are still feeling with me leaving. Believe me I didn’t want to go, but it was for the best. I can only hope that you will find it in your heart to forgive me some day.

He knew there had to be a reason Scott left, and he was it. Standing up, he walked over to look out his window at the stars. Now he had a serious dilemma to deal with, should he show Murdoch the letter, or keep it to himself? Sighing, he grabbed the letter and headed to his fathers bedroom and knocked softly on the door.

Murdoch opened his door. “ Is something wrong son?”

Johnny stepped inside and handed the letter to his father. “ It’s from Scott.”

Murdoch took the letter and read it. “ Son……sit down.” Murdoch said as he closed his door.

“ I knew that old man had something he was using to get Scott to leave here. I should have known it would be me.” he said. “ I’m sorry.”

“ I want you to listen to me son.” Murdoch said as he sat down. “ This is not your fault. I don’t want you blaming yourself for Scott leaving. He loves you, and did what he did to try and protect you.”

“ Why didn’t he say something though?” Johnny asked.

“ Harlan Garrett is a vile, ruthless, bitter man. I should have never allowed him to stay.” Murdoch said. “ I would like you to do something for me.”

Johnny looked at his father. “ What?”

“ Promise me you will never leave me. I couldn’t handle losing you again.” his father said.

“ Not a chance. Lancer is my home.” Johnny said. “ I’m sorry I’ve been the way I have since he left.”

“ It’s alright son. I know you have to deal with this in your own way.” his father said. “ Now go get some sleep.”

Amelia Sanchez stepped off the stage in Green River. “ Driver, could you tell me where the hotel is?”

“ Yes ma’am. Just across the street there.” he said as he handed her her luggage. “ You need some help with this?”

“ Thank you no. I can manage.” she said as she picked her luggage up and headed across the street.

“Can I help you miss?” the hotel clerk asked.

“ I would like a room if one is available.” Amelia said.

“ Yes ma’am. Will you be staying long?” he asked.

“ A month, maybe longer. Will that be a problem?” she asked.

“ No ma’am. It’s a dollar a day. There’s a water closet at the end of the hall you can use to freshen up. It has a lock on the inside so nobody can walk in on you.”

“ Thank you.” Amelia said as she paid for the room for a month.

“ Room seven, top of the stairs and to the right.” he said.

“ We finish loading this lumber, I’ll buy you two a cold beer.”  Johnny said.

“ Sure thing Johnny.”  Adam said. “ A cold beer sounds good.”

“ Won’t your father be upset?” Mack asked.

“ No, and he’s not here.” Johnny said as he watched a beautiful female walking toward them.

“ That’s a mighty fine looking lady there.” Adam said.

“ She’s too old for you Adam.” Mack said jokingly.

“ Hey, just cause I’m gray doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a beautiful lady.” he said.

“ She looks to be about your daughters age.” Mack said.

“ You have a daughter?” Johnny asked.

“ Yeah. I don’t get to see her though.” he said.

“ How come?” he asked.

“ She’s back east with her mother.” Adam said.

“ Hello.” Amelia said.

“ Ma’am.” Johnny said with a smile and tip of his hat. “ You must be new in town?”

“ Why yes I am. I came in on the morning stage.” Amelia said. “ I’m Amelia Sanchez.”

“ Johnny, and this here’s Adam and Mack.” he said.

“ Pleasure to meet you gentlemen.” she said. “ That’s a lot of lumber. You gentlemen building a house?”

“  No ma’am. It’s for repairs on line-shacks at Lancer.” Johnny said.

“  Lancer, is that a ranch you gentlemen work for?” she asked.

“ It’s me and my father’s ranch.” Johnny said.

“ Lancer’s the biggest spread in the San Joaquin valley.” Adam said. “ How many acres is it Johnny?”

“ One hundred thousand acres.” Johnny said.

“ Oh my. I bet it’s an impressive place. Perhaps you could show me it sometime when you’re not busy?” she asked.

“ I only get Sundays off, but I’m sure my father wouldn’t mind having a pretty lady join us for supper some time.” he said.

“ Well, I look forward to that time. Room seven at the hotel. I’ll be here a month, maybe longer.” she said. “ Adam, Mack, it was a pleasure meeting you.”

“ Oh boy Johnny, that pretty little lady likes you.” Mack said as they watched her walk away.

“ She was all but inviting you I’d say.” Adam said.

“ Yeah she was looking at you the whole time.” Mack said.

“ I wonder what a woman like that is doing here?” Adam asked.

“ Who cares why she’s here.” Mack said.

“ Let’s go have that cold beer.” Johnny said.

“ How did it go in town today son?” Murdoch asked as they ate supper.

“ Good. Mack and Adam are to hard workers.” Johnny said. I met a lady in town today.”

“ Oh.” his father said.

“ Yeah. Her names Amelia Sanchez. She came in on the morning stage.” he said.

“ She must be pretty for you to notice her.” Teresa said.

“ She is. I was thinking maybe we could have her out for supper some time.” Johnny said.

“ That’s fine son. I’m sure Teresa would like another female to talk to.” Murdoch said.

“ Where’s she from?” Teresa asked.

“ She didn’t say, and I didn’t ask. She’s staying at the hotel.” he said.

“ I wonder if she’s the new school teacher they said we would be getting?” Teresa asked.

“ I don’t think she’s a school teacher Teresa.” Johnny said. “ Not staying at the hotel.”

“ He has a point.” Murdoch said.

“ They found him.” Alejandra said.

“ They found him? That is wonderful news.” Father Francisco said.

“ He is in California, at his father’s estancia. A place called Lancer. It is in the San Joaquin valley.” she said. “ I will make our travel arrangements.”

“ It will be a long journey. Are you sure you want to go?” Father Francisco asked.

“It is one of two dying wishes Don Luis asked me to do.” she said.

“ Hello Scott.” Mollie said.

“ Mollie! It’s good to see you.” Scott said as he gave her a kiss on the cheek. “ Grandfather said you were back.”

“ You look good. I thought you went to live with your father in California?”

“ I did. I came back with grandfather.” he said.

“ Knowing how he is, I bet it wasn’t what you wanted to do?” she said. “ If you have time, can we go for a walk and talk.”

“ I don’t have to be back in class until two.” Scott said as they started walking.

“ Class?” she asked.

“ I’m a teacher’s aide for one of my old professors.” he said.

“ So tell me. What was it like?” she asked. “ Did you get along with your father?”

“ I did. I also learned I have a brother three years younger than me.” he said.

“ Oh my. That had to be a shock to learn.” she said. “ I thought your mother died giving birth to you?”

“ She did. My father married again a couple years later.” he said. “ But Johnny didn’t grow up at Lancer. His mother took him away when he was two. He grew up in Mexico, and had only just come back home two years ago.”

“ What’s he like. I mean, is he as handsome as you?” Mollie asked.

“ He is. His mother was Mexican, so he has dark hair, and the bluest eyes I have ever seen.” Scott said. “ So how was England?”

“ Noisier than Boston, and I don’t care to ever go back there.” she said as they stopped at a park bench and sat down. “ He forced you to come back didn’t he?”

“ I don’t want to talk about it.” he said.

“ Scott…You are a good person. I can tell you’re not happy here. Don’t let your grandfather control your life.” Mollie said. “ You’re a grown man who should live where it makes you happy.”

“ I’m afraid it’s not that simple Mollie.” he said as they started walking.

Amelia rode up to the big house, and dismounted as an older man approached her.

“ Can I help you?” Murdoch asked.

“ Hello. Is this the Lancer ranch?” she asked.

“ It is. I’m Murdoch Lancer. What can I do for you young lady?” he said and asked.

“ You must be Johnny’s father. I’m Amelia Sanchez. I met your son in town last week.” she said. “ Is he here?”

“ I’m afraid not. He’s out working, and won’t be back until late afternoon.” Murdoch said. “ Won’t you come in?”

“ I don’t want to impose. I know I showed up unannounced.” Amelia said.

“ That’s alright. Come inside.” Murdoch said.

“ Oh my, you have a lovely home sir.” Amelia said as she walked into the grand room.

“ Thank you. Where is it you come from?” Murdoch asked.

“ I believe where a person is from is irrelevant as much as where they are going.” Amelia said as she walked over and looked at a picture on the wall. “ This must be Johnny’s brother who is back in Boston with his grandfather. Scott isn’t it?”

“ Just what are your intentions with my son Miss Sanchez?” Murdoch asked.

“ Why Mister Lancer, I was just wanting to get to know him is all. Being new to the area and such.” she said.

“ I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression of me Mister Lancer. It was not my intention.” Amelia said as she walked to the veranda door. “ I’m sorry I showed up unannounced like I did. Please forgive me.”

Murdoch watched Amelia ride away. Tonight he would speak to his son about this woman.

“  It’s getting late. I think I will turn in.”

“ Alright sweetheart. Goodnight.” Murdoch said.

“ Supper was delicious tonight Teresa. Thank you.” Johnny said as he stood up.

“ I’m glad you liked it.” she said as he gave her a kiss on the cheek. “ Have a good night querida.”

Murdoch waited until Teresa was gone before standing up and walking over to the sideboard to pour two brandy’s.  “ I need to speak to you about something son.”

“ Okay. What’s up.” Johnny asked as he took one of the brandy’s.

“ The lady you met last week in Green River, Amelia Sanchez came here today.” Murdoch said.

“ She say what she wanted?” Johnny asked.

“ To see you, and get to know you.” Murdoch said. “ I asked her where she was from and she said where a person is from is irrelevant to where they are going.”

“ So she never told you?” he asked.

“ No……She then said something that I didn’t like son.” Murdoch said. “ Did you tell her anything about your brother?”

“ No, why would I. I just met the woman.” Johnny said. “ Why?”

“ Because when she was here, she seen the picture on the wall and knew who he was…….and she also knew he was in Boston with his grandfather.” Murdoch explained.

“ I never told her anything other than my name.” Johnny said. “ Maybe somebody in town told her about Scott?”

“ Maybe. I just find it a little strange this woman meets you last week and comes out here uninvited.” his father said.

“ Murdoch, you getting a little paranoid in your old age?” Johnny asked.

“ Just cautious son.” Murdoch said. “ I don’t want to lose you, and that letter your brother sent you said.”

“ I’ll be alright. If old man Garrett did hire someone, he would hire a man to try and kill me.” Johnny said.

“ But a woman could get closer to you.” he said.

“ She’s not a killer Murdoch. Just a beautiful lady in a new place is all.” Johnny said. “ I’m gonna head to bed. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“ Alright son. Goodnight.”

“ Hello. Am I at the Lancer estancia?” he asked.

“ You are. I’m Murdoch Lancer. What can I do for you father?”

Father Francisco climbed down from the buggy. “ Forgive me. It has been a very long journey. This is Alejandra Cortez” he said as he helped her down.

“ Won’t you come inside?” Murdoch asked.

“ Thank you. You have a grand estancia señor.” Father Francisco said as they walked into the grand room.

“ Thank you. Can I interest you in some cold lemonade?” Murdoch asked.

“ Thank you.” he said. “ As I said, we have journeyed a very long way.”

“ I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage father on why you are here!” Murdoch said as he handed them a glass of lemonade. ‘ Please, sit down.”

“ We are looking for your son. I believe he goes by the name Johnny Lancer now.” Alejandra said. “ Before he came home, he was known as Johnny Madrid.”

“ What do you want with my son?” Murdoch demanded.

“ Please forgive me. I mean him no harm.” she said.

“ Who is this person you come for?” Murdoch asked.

“ Don Luis Cortez.” she responded. “ My husband was a good man. He learned some valuable news about your son after he left.” he explained.

“ Where is Don Luis now?” Murdoch asked.

“ Unfortunately my husband’s heart gave out last summer.”

“ Murdoch………Oh, I didn’t know we had company.” Teresa said as she walked into the room. “ Hello Father.”

“ Teresa, this is Father Francisco. Could you see that one of the rooms is made up for him?”  Murdoch asked.

“ Certainly.” she said.

“ I don’t wish to impose on your hospitality Mister Lancer.” she said.

“ Teresa will show you to a guest room so you can freshen up and rest before supper.” Murdoch said.

Johnny walked into the grand room for supper and stopped. “ Alejandra, what are you doing here?”

“ Hello Johnny. I am here to see you.” she said. “ You look good.”

“ You’re a long way from Hermosillo.”

“ It has been a long journey to find you.” he said.

“ How is Don Luis?” Johnny asked.

“ I am sorry Johnny, he passed away last summer.” she said.

Johnny stared at Alejandra a moment, then stood up and walked into the grand room.

Alejandra and Father Francisco stood up and walked over o him.

“ How?” Johnny asked softly.

“ His heart gave out. He had a heart attack last summer, and it made his heart weak. The doctor could do nothing for him.” he explained. “ Shortly after you left, he learned some news that gave him more reason to live. That reason was you my son. Did he tell you he had a daughter from his first marriage?”

“ Yeah, he said she disappeared and he could never find her.” Johnny said.

“ As I said, it was not until after you had left that he learned where she was. Johnny….her name was Maria. He learned she had married and left Mexico only to return a few years later with a baby….His daughter was your mother. Don Luis was your grandfather.” he explained.

Murdoch stood up and walked over to them. “ You said you brought a letter for my son.”

“ Yes. The content of which I do not know.” he responded.

“ Alejandra?” Johnny asked.

“ She sold the estancia and has returned to Mexico City.” he said as he took the letter out and handed it to him.

Johnny took the letter, looked at his father, and then went outside.

“ I met Maria in Matamoros. She said she had no family.” Murdoch said as he watched his son walk out onto the portico. “ I thought she was happy here, but was wrong. Johnny was almost two when I woke one morning and found them both gone. I searched for him for seventeen years. I have a file with all the Pinkerton reports I received about him.”

“ My husband took to Johnny like a son. When he learned the news about his daughter.”

“ I’m sorry but you’re not Maria’s mother?” Murdoch asked.

“ No. Don Luis was married to Maria’s mother before me. She died from a broken heart. Her daughter was everything to her. I met Don Luis five years later in Mexico City when he was there on business. Two years later we were married.” Alejandra said.

Johnny opened the letter and started reading it.

Te dije que tenía una hija que se escapó de mí y de mi primera esposa cuando ella era muy joven. No mucho después de que te fueras supe que la habían encontrado. Imagino que ahora sabes que soy tu abuelo. Ojalá hubiera aprendido esto mientras estabas aquí. Inmediatamente comencé a buscarte, pero temo que mientras mi corazón se debilita, no tendré la oportunidad de conocerte como mi nieto. 

No hagas a tu padre como mi hija me hizo a mí. Ve a casa y conviértete en el hijo de un ranchero. Sé que harás una buena. Y recuerda, lo que sucedió en el pasado no puede cambiar lo que puedes hacer en el futuro.

Tu Abuelo Don Luis Cortés.

I told you I had a daughter who ran away from me and my first wife when she was very young. Not long after you left I learned she had been found. I imagine you know by now that I am your grandfather. I wish I had learned this while you were here. I immediately started searching for you, but fear as my heart weakens, I will not get the chance to know you as my grandson. Do not do to your father as my daughter did to me. Go home, talk to him, remember what I said about you’re only knowing one side of what happened. Go home and become the son of a rancher. I know you will make a good one. And remember, what happened in the past cannot change what you can do in the future.

Your Grandfather Don Luis Cortez.)

Johnny couldn’t stop from shaking as he placed his arms on the veranda wall, and put his head down. At least now he had answers to why he felt so close to the man, and why it was so easy to open up and talk to him like he did.

“ Mister Lancer. I think now would be a good time to go out and be with your son.” Alejandra suggested.

“ Johnny needs some time o accept all that’s happened and whatever is in that letter.” Murdoch said. “ He will come to me if he wants too. That is one thing I learned the time he’s been back home.”

“ He is a very proud young man who keeps too much inside.” she said as Johnny walked back inside.

“ Are you alright son?” his father asked.

“Do you know what he wrote?” he asked Alejandra as he handed the letter to his father.

“ No, and I did not ask. It was private. Between you and Don Luis.” she said.

“ How long can you stay?” Johnny asked.

“ I’m afraid we will have to leave for San Francisco tomorrow. I have a sister there I want to visit with before the ship leaves next week.” Alejandra said.

“ I’ll take you to catch the stage.” Johnny said.

Amelia came out of the hotel and watched as Johnny Lancer went by in a buggy with a beautiful older Mexican woman and priest. Mounting the horse she rented, she watched as he stopped and helped the woman down. Noticing a horse tied on the back, she headed to the livery to rent a horse for an afternoon ride.

“ Hank, I believe this is your rig.” he said.

“ It is. I rented it to a beautiful Mexican lady and priest yesterday. Said she was looking for your ranch.” Hank said. “ Thanks for bringing it back for me Johnny. How you been? I haven’t seen you much since Scott left.”

“ Yeah, Been pretty busy working.” Johnny said. “ You want help with the team?”

“ Naw, Been slow today. The lady inside and you are the only customers I’ve had so far.” Hank said as he walked closer to Johnny. “ That lady inside…..She’s been asking about you and Lancer all over town.”

Johnny untied Barranca from the back of the buggy and led him around to the water trough to get a drink as he checked his cinch.

“ Why Johnny Lancer, fancy meeting you here.” Amelia said as she led her horse out of the livery.

“ Miss Sanchez.” he said.

“ I was just going for a ride. Can you join me?” she said and asked.

“  I’ve got the rest of the day off.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle.

“ That’s a beautiful horse.” she said.

“ Thanks. I caught, broke, and trained Barranca two years ago.” Johnny said as he reined him around to face her. “ So where do you want to go?”

“  Well, since I’m not familiar with the area, why don’t you choose and I’ll follow.” Amelia responded.

“ Shouldn’t Johnny be back by now?” Teresa asked.

“ I told him to take the rest of the day off. He might stay in town tonight.” Murdoch said.

“ I can only imagine what he’s feeling with learning a man he worked for years ago turns out to be his grandfather, and now he can’t get to know him.” Teresa said.

“ I’ve been sitting here thinking about that letter, and Maria.” Murdoch said. “ She never mentioned she had family. I feel like I never really knew her at all now.”

“  You can’t blame yourself for what she didn’t tell you.” she said. “ All you and Johnny can do is keep building your relationship stronger.”

“ That is exactly what I intend to do.” he said.

“ I had a good time Johnny.” Amelia said as they walked to her hotel room.

“ Where do you come from?” Johnny asked.

“ Your father asked me that.” she responded. “ My response made him suspicious of me I’m afraid, and that was not my intentions. I….I’m from Saint Paul, Minnesota. My family was very wealthy. When I was away to school, my parents were killed. I was an only child, so I inherited my father’s wealth. People only wanted to befriend me because of my wealth. Men romanced me for the sole purpose of hoping to get money. I came out west to start a new life where people didn’t know me, or my family name.”

“ So because of that you built up a wall around yourself to keep men out?” he asked.

“ I did…..until I met you that day on the street.” she said. “ I’m sure you know I’ve asked around about you, and was told you used to go by another name until you came home a couple years ago….Johnny…I don’t care about your past or you being Johnny Madrid. I have an attraction toward you I can’t explain. I like you…a lot, and would very much like to get to know you a lot better.”

Johnny stepped closer to her, and placed his right hand under her chin. “ How well do you want to know me?” he asked softly.

“ Why don’t you come in my room and find out?” she asked as she unlocked her door.

Johnny smiled as he followed her inside. He knew he wouldn’t be going home tonight.

Johnny walked into the grand room late the next morning to find his father sitting at his desk looking at a map of Lancer.

“ I was beginning to think you weren’t coming back home.” he said.

“ Yeah, sorry.” Johnny said.

“ I hope she was worth it?” Murdoch said as he sat back in his chair.

Johnny looked at his father. “ If you mean Amelia Sanchez, yeah, she was.”

“ Son……I know…….”

“ Look, before you start lecturing me about her. Hear me out.” Johnny cut in.

“ Alright.”

“ She came here from Saint Paul, Minnesota. Her father had a very successful business there. When she was away at school, her parents were killed, and she inherited everything. People were only interested in her for her money, so she came out west to start her life over where people didn’t know her or about her money.” Johnny explained as he went over and poured a shot of whiskey and downed it.

“ Can I ask what your intentions are with this young lady?”

“ I don’t know Murdoch. I do know I like her, but beyond that, I don’t know.  I plan on seeing her more.” Johnny responded.

“ Is that because you spent the night sharing a bed with her?” his father asked.

Johnny looked at his father a few seconds. “ You call the tune on what goes on with this ranch old man. Not what I do with my personal life.” he said before turning and heading upstairs.

Murdoch watched his son go upstairs as he mentally kicked himself for asking him such a question.


Chapter 3

“ Scotty, I did not know you were here. Is your lovely bride with you?” Harlan asked.

“ No. I want you to know that Mollie and I will be leaving Boston.” Scott said.

“ Leaving Boston?” Harlan asked.

“Five years ago you forced me to leave Lancer. I’m going back to California, and there is nothing……nothing you can say…or do to make me stay here with you.” Scott said firmly. “ I should have never left.”

“ You leave Boston, and I will have that half-breed killed, and there will be nothing you can do about it!” his grandfather said firmly.

Scott stepped closer to his grandfather. “ Hear me when I say this. If anything happens to my brother………”

“ Don’t you dare come into my home, stand there and threaten me my boy.” Harlan cut in.

Scott glared at his grandfather a few seconds before turning, and walking out.

Johnny spent every Sunday for the following six months with Amelia, the two of them growing closer together. Teresa liked Amelia, and spent time with her talking whenever she came to visit. Murdoch came around and liked talking to her as well. He especially liked seeing his son as happy as he was when she was with him.

“ Johnny, I have to go to Sacramento for a cattleman’s meeting.” Murdoch said as they ate supper. “ Teresa will be going to stay with her friend Marcy while I’m gone.”

“ How long will you be gone?” Johnny asked.

“ A week. Will you be alright running the ranch while I’m gone?” Murdoch asked.

“ I’ll be fine.” Johnny said. “ When do you have to leave?”

“ Saturday. I should be back by Friday evening.” Murdoch said.

“ Johnny isn’t here.” Walt said.

“  Do you know when he will be back?” Amelia asked.

“ He’s out at South Mesa line-shack doing repairs. He’ll be back tomorrow. I’m taking this load of supplies to him. You can ride along with me if you’d like.” Walt said.

“ Thank you.” Amelia said.

 An hour later Walt pulled up outside the south mesa line-shack and climbed down as Johnny came outside.

“ Brought you a helper.” Walt said.

Johnny smiled when he seen Amelia. “ What are you doing here?” he asked as he walked over and helped her down.

“ I came to see you.” she said.

“ You help me unload this wagon, I can get out of here before dark.” Walt said.

“ Go on inside. There’s hot coffee on the stove. I’ll be in when we’re done.” Johnny said.

“ You in love with that girl Johnny?” Walt asked as they unloaded the wagon.

“ Is that a bad thing?” Johnny asked.

“ Not at all Johnny. Fact is, I’m happy for you. She’s a mighty fine lady. You deserve to be happy.” Walt said.

“ I am, she makes me happy.” he said.

“ Does she know about Madrid?” Walt asked.

“ She does, and it doesn’t bother her.” Johnny said.

“ You’ve been here six years now without anyone calling you out. I’m happy for you Johnny. I really am.”  Walt said as they unloaded the last few boards of lumber.

“ I thought I had everything until five years ago when Scott left.” he said. “ Amelia makes me feel good. I like being with her.”

 “ Me and some of the hands are hoping you two get hitched.”

“ I’ve been giving it some thought lately.” Johnny said as he wiped the sweat from his face.

“ Well, let me get on out of here. I’ll see you later Johnny.” Walt said as he climbed up in the wagon and left.

Johnny headed inside the cabin and found Amelia standing there naked. “ What if Walt had come in with me?”

“ I seen him leave. So I knew he wouldn’t be.” she said as she walked over to him and started removing his shirt.

“ You’re an addiction.” Johnny said as he undid his pants. “ A bad addiction.”

Amelia laughed as she pulled him back to the bed. “ Good.” she said as she pulled him down on top of her.

Johnny lay with Amelia in his arms a couple hours later.

“ Johnny….I need to tell you something.” Amelia said as she turned to lay partially on his right side. “ I’ve fallen in love with you.”

Johnny ran his hand up and down her back as he looked into her eyes. He could tell she was serious about loving him. Rolling her over onto her back, he positioned himself to enter her. “ I’ve been in love with you for some time now.” he said as he slid inside her and stopped. “ Do you love me enough to marry me?”

Amelia wrapped her legs tightly around his waist. “ Yes.” she said.

Johnny claimed her mouth with hunger as the two became one for the rest of the night.

Jasper walked into the saloon in Green River,  just after sundown, and looked around. Four men sat playing poker to his right, two men sat drinking beers at another table.

“ What’ll ya have?” Mac asked.

“ Beer.” the man said. “ Names Jasper. I’m looking for someone I was told lives around here.”

“ A lot of people live around here mister. This man have a name?” Mac asked as he brought him his beer.

“ Madrid, Johnny Madrid!” he said.

“ Ain’t nobody by that name around here.” Mac responded.

“ I think you’re lying to me, and I hate a liar.” he said as he grabbed Mac’s left arm. “ Maybe you didn’t hear me right the first time. Madrid, Johnny Madrid. Where is he?”

“ He’s not here.” Mac said.

“ Where does he stay?” he demanded.

“ Lancer.” Mac said. “ It’s a big ranch outside Morro Coyo. He lives there with his old man.”

“ Now that wasn’t so hard was it.” he said as he let go of Mac’s arm, downed his beer, and tossed a coin on the bar before leaving.

“ I have to go to the bank in Stockton.” Murdoch said as they all walked into the grand room after eating supper. “ I’ll be taking Teresa with me.”

“ Oh Murdoch, do you mean it?” Teresa asked.

“ I do young lady.” Murdoch said. “ We’ll leave in the morning and be gone overnight.”

Teresa walked over and hugged him.

“ Murdoch, we need to talk to you and Teresa.” Johnny said.

“ Alright son. Go ahead.” he said.

“ I asked Amelia to be my wife, and she said yes.” Johnny said.

“ Oh Johnny, that’s wonderful news. I’m happy for both of you.” Teresa said as she stood up and walked over to hug him.

“ Thanks querida.” Johnny said.

Murdoch stood up and walked around his desk. “ I’m happy for you son. Congratulations.”

“ Thanks.” he said as his father pulled him into a hug and patted his back.

“ If it’s alright, I would like a fall wedding.” Amelia said.

“ That’s three months away.” Teresa said. “ We have to get planning what you want, who you want at the wedding.”

“ Teresa……I was wanting it to be just family and the priest. I’m not one for big shindigs.” Amelia cut in and said.

“ Oh…of course. I’m sorry. It’s your wedding.” Teresa said.

“ What about the reception after?” Murdoch asked.

“ The reception can have your friends. I just want our wedding private.” she said.

“  I’ll expect this place to be overrun by grandchildren.”

Amelia laughed. “ I told Johnny I would give him all the children he wants because all I want to do is make him happy.”

“ Just being with you makes me happy.” Johnny said.

“ Are you alright?’ Mollie asked.

“ I will be once I see my brother.” Scott said.

“ Do you think he will do something?” she asked.

“ My grandfather is a vindictive man. He has had a hate for my father since he took my mother to California.” he said. “ He met Johnny’s mother in Matamoros a couple years after my mother died. His hatred grew when he learned she was a Mexican, and they had a child together.”

“ It sounds to me like your grandfather doesn’t feel your father deserves to be happy.” Mollie said.

“ It does in deed.” he said.

“ So what are we going to do when we get to California?” she asked.

“ That depends on where you want to live my love.” he responded.

“ Close to your family. I don’t ever want you to be separated from you family again.” Mollie said as she snuggled up to his right shoulder. “ How will they take you coming back?”

“ I’ve been thinking on that ever since we left Boston. Johnny was pretty hurt and angry that day. Then my sending that letter telling Mister Randolph I no longer wanted to be a third owner of Lancer, I’m sure hurt him more than any pain he had ever felt.” Scott said.

“ I will live wherever you want to live, and I will give you as many children as I can.”

Scott kissed his wife on the head as he wrapped his left arm around her.

“ We’ll be back tomorrow afternoon.” Murdoch said as he climbed in the buggy late morning. “ I left those army contract proposals on the desk for you to go over.”

“ I’m sure they’re fine, but I’ll go over them.” Johnny said as he helped Teresa into the buggy. “ Have fun.”

“ We will.” Murdoch said before slapping rein.

Johnny stood and watched the buggy pass under the arch before going back inside. Walking over to the desk, he sat down and opened the file to look at the army proposals. After reading each proposal carefully he took out pen and paper and started making notes and suggestions on how to make more money. Deep down inside he felt Lancer could make a great deal of money selling horses to the army as well as cattle, but his father wouldn’t budge on the idea. Even though he told him Lancer needed something to fall back on when the cattle market is low. Standing up, he walked over and put his gun on as he walked outside, mounted Barranca and rode out to check on the hands castrating calves.

“ You ready to go get some supper downstairs.” Murdoch said.

“ Yes. You know, I still can’t believe Johnny is getting married.” Teresa said.

“ That makes two of us. I hope he will be happy with Amelia.” Murdoch said.

“ She seems like a really nice person, and she definitely loves Johnny.” she said.

“ I expect there will be a little one by Christmas next year.” he said.

“ I hope so. I would love to spoil a baby, and I know you would too.” Teresa said with a smile. “ Do you think they will live at the house, or move away?”

“  I don’t know. I hope he stays at Lancer.” he said.

Johnny came down to the kitchen a little after four in the morning to fix breakfast. He wanted to be out at south mesa early to help round up and move the cattle.

“ Don’t do anything stupid!” a male voice said from the darkness.

“ Who the hell are you, and what do you want?” Johnny demanded.

“ I’m looking at what I want. Put these one and let me hear them click.” Jasper ordered.

Johnny put the handcuffs on and made sure they locked.

“ I want you to open that back door and step outside. I have two horses waiting. You try anything and I will shoot you where you stand.” Jasper ordered.

Johnny opened the back door and stepped out to the horses.

“ Get on the sorrel.” Jasper ordered.

Johnny got on the sorrel. “ Who the hell are you?” Johnny demanded.

Jasper got on his horse and took the lead rope of the sorrel. “ You’ll find out soon enough.” Jasper said as they started to ride away.

“ Johnny!” Scott said as he jerked awake and sat up.

“ What…Scott….Are you okay?” Mollie asked as she sat up.

“ Something’s wrong.” Scott said as he swung his legs over the side of the bed.

Mollie moved around to sit next to her husband. “ What do you mean?”

“ I don’t know, but something is wrong.” Scott said. “ Something has happened to my brother.”

“ We will be in Sacramento in two days.” she said. “ How far to your fathers ranch from there?”

“  On the stage another two days to Morro Coyo, and then three hours to Lancer from there.” he said.

Murdoch stopped the buggy and was met by Walt. “ What’s wrong?’ he asked as he climbed down.

“ It’s Johnny, he’s gone.” Walt said.

“ Gone, what do you mean he’s gone?” he demanded. “ Gone where?”

“ We don’t know. Nobody has seen him since around noon yesterday. Barranca is in the barn.” Walt said. “ And his gun is hanging on the rack by the front door.”

Murdoch knew his son wouldn’t leave without his gun or Barranca. Hurrying inside he looked around.

“ It looks like he was in the kitchen when someone took him. The coffee pot was filled with water but no coffee, and the back door was open.” Walt said. “ Tracks on the ground shows two set of footprints coming out of the house. I’ve had men out searching since this morning.”

“ I checked in town and Mac said there was a man named Jasper, and he was demanding to know where Johnny was. He asked for Johnny Madrid.” Frank said. “ He said he was wearing a marshals badge.”

“ Why would a marshal want Johnny?” Teresa asked.

“ Mac said he didn’t think he was a marshal. He said he wore his gun like Johnny does, and he grabbed his arm, forcing him to tell him where Johnny was.” Frank said.

“ Which way were they headed?” Murdoch asked.

“ South, but there’s no way of knowing if they will continue south.” Walt said.

“  If this guy isn’t a marshal, he’ll stay away from towns.” Frank said.

“ I don’t care how long it takes. We are going to search for my son, and bring him home.” Murdoch said firmly. “ I’ll send a wire to the Marshals office in Sacramento and ask them about this Jasper.”

“ Murdoch….somebody needs to tell Amelia.” Teresa said.

“ I’ll tell her tomorrow.” Murdoch said.

“ Get off your horse.” Jasper ordered five days later.

Johnny dismounted and stood next to the horse watching as Jasper dismounted, walked over to him, and removed the kerchief he kept tied around Johnny’s mouth so he couldn’t talk. “ Who are you? Why you doing this?” he asked.

“ Names Jasper.” he said. “ I’ve been paid right nicely by a rancher to bring you back to Texas..”

“ You’re not a lawman.” Johnny said.

“ Oh I’m a lawman. I just do a different kind of work.” Jasper said as he removed his canteen and took a drink before handing it to Johnny. “ I found there’s a lot more money to be made hunting down killers like you. The badge helps me find out what I need to know.”

Johnny took the canteen and welcomed the cool liquid on his parched throat. “ Just who is this rancher?”

“ You’ll find out who soon enough. As for the why….I’m taking you back for killing his son.” he said as he put the canteen back.

“ You going to tell me where it is in Texas we’re going?” Johnny asked.

“  You don’t need to know until the time is right.”  Jasper said. “ Now get back up on that horse.”

“ Lancer?” Mollie asked.

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

“ It’s beautiful.” she said. “ Are you nervous?”

“ Does it show?” Scott asked as he started the buggy.

“ It does. How do you think they will take learning you are now married?” she asked.

“ Teresa, if she is still here will be happy. My father will welcome you with open arms.” he said.

“ And Johnny?”

“ Johnny……I honestly don’t know. He was so hurt when I left. Even though it’s been five years since I left.” Scott said.

Jasper rode up to the jail in Barstow and dismounted. “ Get down.” he ordered.

Johnny dismounted and stepped up onto the boardwalk.

Jasper opened the door and shoved Johnny inside in front of him.

“ What’s this all about?” the sheriff demanded as he stood up, and walked around his desk.

“ I’m commandeering one of your cells for the night!” Jasper said as he grabbed the keys off the wall by the door, opened the door, pulled his gun. “ Inside!”

Johnny stepped inside the cell and turned around. “ Big man with a badge and gun.” he said.

Jasper lashed out and hit Johnny with his pistol butt, knocking him backwards.

“ Hey!….Stop that!”  the sheriff yelled.

Jasper closed the cell and locked the door. “ You have no idea who that is do you?”

“ No I don’t know who he is, or why you’re abusing him. The man is shackled.” the sheriff responded.

“ Does the name Johnny Madrid mean anything to you?” Jasper said.

“ The gunfighter, I’ve heard his name before.” he said.

“ He escaped after his trial, and I’m taking him back to Texas to hang for a murder he was found guilty of.” Jasper said firmly.

“ That don’t give you the right to come into my town and commandeer my jail marshal’s badge or not.” the sheriff said.

Jasper grabbed the sheriff by his shirt and shoved him up against the wall. “ I’m going to the hotel for a good nights sleep. My prisoner better still be in that cell in the morning. If he’s not….Barstow will be needing a new sheriff.”

Murdoch sat at his desk with a telegram he received from the marshals service in Sacramento. It had been ten days since his son disappeared. Opening the envelope he took the paper out and started to read it.

Mister Lancer
My name is Dallas Stoudenmire, I am the marshal of El Paso, and western Texas. I was contacted by the Sacramento marshal’s service asking about a marshal named Jasper. There is a marshal named Jasper who works out of San Angelo, Texas. This man has a reputation of working as a bounty hunter. It is believed he is working for a man named Martin Faver from the Cibolo Creek ranch outside El Paso. He is being paid to bring in a man named Johnny Madrid for the murder of his son Jake Faver, seven years ago. I could find no record of Johnny Madrid committing any murder seven years ago. I did learn that Jake Faver was killed, but by all witnessed accounts stated he was drunk in a saloon in El Paso. When the saloon owner ordered him to leave and stopped serving him, Jake became enraged and started beating the owner. The only man to step in and stop the beating was Madrid. After a few exchanged words, Faver tried to draw on Madrid, and was shot and killed. It was determined that Madrid killed Jake Faver in self defense, not cold-blood.

“  Hello sir.” Scott said from the foyer.

Murdoch looked up and stared in shock at his oldest standing there. “ Scott.” he said softly as he stood up, and walked over to him.

“ It’s good to see you sir.” Scott said as they shook hands. “ I have someone I want you to meet.”

“ Scott!”  Teresa yelled as she ran to him and wrapped her arms around his neck, hugging him. “ I missed you.”

“ Hello Teresa. I missed you too.” he said as he hugged her.

“ Who’s that?’ Teresa asked.

Scott let her go and took Mollie’s hand in his. “ Teresa, Murdoch, this is my wife Mollie.”

“ Your wife!” Teresa said.

“ Where’s Johnny?” Scott asked.

Murdoch stood there unable to speak.

“ Something’s wrong?” Scott said.

“ Johnny disappeared ten days ago.” Teresa said.

“ Come in and sit down son.” Murdoch finally said as he walked back over to his desk and picked up the wire he received.

“ What do you mean he disappeared?” Scott asked. “ Are you looking for him?”

“ I received this today.” Murdoch said as he handed the wire to him.

“ I’m leaving for El Paso tomorrow.” Murdoch said.

“ I’m going with you.” Scott said.

“ You have a wife.” Murdoch said.

“ We have already discussed this on the train sir. I’m going.” Scott said.

“ Alright. We’ll take the stage south and catch the train. It will save us a lot of time, and get us there before Johnny.” Murdoch said.

“ There’s the possibility this Jasper did the same thing.” Scott suggested.

“ I’m still going.” Murdoch said. “ Why don’t you take your luggage to your old room and the two of you can rest and freshen up.”

“ I brought you a cup of coffee and a blanket. It can get a little cold this time of year in these cells. You doing alright?” the sheriff asked.

“ I’ve been better.” Johnny said as he stood up, and walked over to take the cup of coffee. “ Thanks.”

“ Names James Mitchell, sheriff of Barstow.” he said. “ I can have the doc come look at that.”

“ I’ll live. Thanks.” Johnny said.

“ When’s the last time you ate?” he asked.

“ Six….seven days ago.” Johnny said.

“ I’ll get you some food.” the sheriff said. “ So how’d you end up in his custody?”

“ At Lancer. I came downstairs to make breakfast and he was waiting for me.” Johnny said. “ That was ten or so days ago.”

“ He says he’s taking you to hang for murder. Any truth to that?” James asked.

“ No. I’ve never murdered anyone sheriff.” Johnny said firmly. “ Every man I’ve ever killed called me out, and I always tried to talk them out of it.”

“ I know, I seen you gun down two of the best in Nogales once.” the sheriff said. “ I stood there and couldn’t believe I was seeing you try and talk them out of it. You gave those two men every chance to walk away.”

“ I need you to send a wire to Murdoch Lancer in Morro Coyo.”

“ Lancer….I know that name.” he said. ‘ Who’s he to you?”

“ My father. I need him to know I’m alive, and being taken to Texas.” Johnny responded.

“ I’ll go get you some food and send it.” he said.

“ Sheriff….don’t let him see you do it. He was serious when he said he would kill you.” Johnny said.

“ I know…..but his first mistake was coming into my town. His second was to threaten me. I’ll be back with some food for you.” the sheriff said before leaving.

“ I need to tell you why I left.” Scott said as they ate supper.

“ I have a pretty good idea Harlan was the reason you left son.” Murdoch said.

“ He was. The only good thing to come from that was Mollie coming back to Boston.” he said.

“  This is delicious Teresa.” Mollie said.

“ Thank you. So how long have you two been married.” Teresa asked.

“ Four months. It’s because of her I got the courage to face grandfather and tell him I was coming back here, and there was nothing he could do to stop me.” Scott said. “ He threatened to have Johnny killed if I didn’t go back with him. I didn’t want to take the risk, so I left. I’m sorry…..I should have told you.”

“ I think you should have told your brother more than me. When Randall came out with your letter. Your brother knew then you wouldn’t be coming back and started to heal.” Murdoch said.

“ So he took it bad?” he asked.

“ He did, but then he met a young lady named Amelia Sanchez. They were supposed to get married in the fall.” Murdoch said.

“ Johnny is so much in love with her Scott.” Teresa said. “ She’s devastated over what’s happened.”

“ Why is she not here?” Mollie asked.

“  She was here, but went back to Green River to stay in the hotel.” Murdoch said. “ I think it’s too painful for her staying here.”

“  Maybe if I had not left this wouldn’t have happened.” Scott said as someone banged on the front door.

Murdoch stood up and walked to the door. “ This is not your fault son.”

“ Sorry to bother you Mister Lancer, but I figured you would want this right away.” Harvey said as he handed him the telegram.

“ Thank you.” Murdoch said.

“ Is it about Johnny?’ Teresa asked.

“ It is. It’s from the sheriff of Barstow. Johnny is in his jail for the night. He says he was taken by this Jasper and they are headed to El Paso, Texas.” Murdoch said. “ We’ll leave at first light.”

“ What the hell you doing?’ Jasper demanded when he walked in. “ Did I say to feed my prisoner?”

“ As long as he’s in my jail, he gets food.” the sheriff responded.

Jasper opened the cell. “ Let’s go.” he ordered. “ Get your ass outside and up on your horse.”

Sheriff Mitchell followed them outside. “ You take care of yourself Madrid.”

“ You too sheriff.” Johnny said as he mounted up.

“ Stop your horse and get down!” Jasper ordered several hours later.

Johnny dismounted and stood there waiting.

Jasper dismounted and walked around to him. “ I don’t much care for you Madrid. I want to know what you and that tin star talked about?”

Johnny knew he couldn’t tell Jasper about the telegram. “ Go to hell!”

Jasper lashed out and hit Johnny hard in the mouth, knocking him down. Walking over he grabbed Johnny by the hair and yanked his head back.. “ Hell is where you’re going! Get your sorry ass up!”

Johnny stood up and spit blood out.

“ Start walking.” Jasper ordered as he mounted up.

Murdoch and Scott stepped off the stage in Fresno, grabbed their luggage, and headed to the eastbound train. Upon boarding, they took their seats. Each lost in thoughts of their own about Johnny.

“  What did you do the five years you were gone son?” Murdoch asked as the sun started to set.

“ Attended boring parties Grandfather had. He wanted me to work for him, but I refused. I got a job at Harvard as a teachers aide for one of my old professors. That’s how I ran into Mollie. I had two hours before I had to be back in class so we went for a walk, and talked.” Scott said. “ Mollie knew I wasn’t happy. She always could tell when something was bothering me.”

“ She’s a beautiful lady. I’m happy for you….Both of you son.”

“ Thank you. So Johnny found someone to love and spend the rest of his life with?” Scott asked.

“ He has. I have to say, at first I was not sure about her. She rode out to the ranch one day to see Johnny, and I asked her some questions she didn’t like.” Murdoch explained.

“ You mean you drilled her?” Scott asked with a smile.

“  I did not drill her.” Murdoch said. “ All I did was ask her where she came from. Her response was It’s not important where a person comes from as it is were they are going.”

“  Did she ever tell you?” Scott asked.

“ She eventually told Johnny. It seems she inherited a lot of money when her parents died. People only wanted to befriend her because of that money. She came out here to start a new life where she wasn’t known. Her first day in Green River she seen Johnny and fell in love with him. There was no keeping them apart. Your brother spent every Sunday with her, and during the week too.” Murdoch explained.

“ That had to make him tired.” Scott said.

“ He worried us, but got his work done. It was after you left that he hardly slept or ate.” Murdoch responded. “ When he got the letter from you, he brought it to me late that night in my bedroom. We talked for some time and then he went to bed and slept.”

“ I feel he’s not going to be happy to see me.” Scott said.

“ Give it some time son. You may have to start all over again with your brother.” he said.

Johnny couldn’t walk any further. The sun was almost down and he was exhausted. Dropping to his knees he tried to swallow, but couldn’t. His mouth was dry, and his lips cracked. For three days Jasper made him walk the hottest part of the day with very little water.

Jasper dismounted and started setting up camp for the night as he kept a close eye on Johnny.

Johnny was so exhausted he laid down where he dropped in the sand and closed his eyes, and let sleep claim him until the sun started to rise the next morning.

“ Get up Madrid.” Jasper ordered with a nudge of his boot to Johnny’s back. “ Get up and eat some food.”

Johnny sat up and leaned forward to stretch his back before standing up.

“ Take care of business then eat.” Jasper said as he started saddling the horses. “ I won’t make you walk today, but if you piss me off again, I’ll make you walk barefoot. Understand?”

Johnny walked over to the fire and picked up the plate of food. “ I do.” he said before eating the food fast and washing it down with the now lukewarm cup of coffee.

“ You don’t seem like a cold-blooded killer.” Jasper said.

“ Because I’m not.” Johnny said. “ I’ve never committed murder. Every man who’s ever called me out I gave a more than fare chance to walk away.”

“ What about when you hired out in range wars? How many men did you kill in them?” Jasper asked.

“ Like I said, I never murdered anyone. Every man I’ve killed, I killed because he was trying to kill me.” Johnny said. “ I’ve been ambushed and shot nine times, four of them in the back, and stabbed three times. I’ve also been whipped and beaten while in a Mexican prison.”

“ You were in a Mexican prison, Why?” Jasper asked.

“ I fought in the war.” Johnny said.

“ War……..that was a lost cause from the start. Revolution of the North I believe is what they called it.” Jasper said. “ So you took on the Mexican army. That took balls.”

“ Yeah, like you said, it was a lost cause.” Johnny said as a shot rang out causing him to drop to the ground.

“ Hey Jasper……I told you the next time I seen you, I would kill you!”!” a man yelled.

“ Stay down Madrid!” Jasper ordered.

“ An old friend?” Johnny asked.

“ Come on out and face me Jasper!” the man demanded before firing several shots. “ You took my brother from me. I told you I would make you pay!”

“ Mike, you know why I killed your brother!”  Jasper yelled.

“ Give me a gun……Let me help you!” Johnny said.

“ Stay down!” Jasper ordered as he shot toward  the rocks.

“ Look….Let me help you. I give you my word I won’t try and escape.” Johnny pleaded. “ Damn it….I can draw his attention allowing you to get him!”

Jasper pulled out the key to the cuffs. “ Don’t make me sorry I did this. Hold out your hands.”

Johnny held out his hands. “ You have my word.”

Jasper handed Johnny his pistol and watched as he spun the cylinder. 

“ Keep him busy, I’m going to circle around behind him.” Johnny said. “ Watch your back.”

“ You too.” Jasper said as he chambered a round in his rifle and started shooting toward the rocks.

Johnny cautiously worked his way thru the rocks until he was on the right of the shooter.

Jasper scanned the area the shots came from, hoping to locate Mike. Looking to his left, he seen Madrid make his way to within fifty feet of where the last shots came from. Moving around to his right more he felt a bullet crease his left thigh. Removing his kerchief, he quickly tied it around his leg before moving up, around behind his target.

“ What’s the matter Jasper……….You not have the guts to face me now?”

“ I’m right here!” Jasper said as he pointed the rifle at the mans back. “ Drop the gun and stand up!”

Mike stood up slowly, but refused to drop the gun. Spinning around he never got to pull the trigger as a bullet slammed into his chest.

Satisfied Mike was dead, Jasper walked back down out of the rocks and waited for Madrid to join him.

Johnny stood up and walked back down to where Jasper stood waiting. Seeing movement behind Jasper, he brought the pistol up and fired.

Jasper thinking Madrid was shooting at him, brought his rifle up and fired, hitting Johnny in the left side. Turning around he seen the shooter Johnny fired at drop to the ground.

Johnny dropped to his knees and then his back as Jasper came over to him.

“ I thought you were trying to shoot me.” Jasper said. “ I’m sorry.”

“ Didn’t have time to warn you.” Johnny said.

“  The bullets still in there. I need to get you to a doctor.” Jasper said. “ Can you ride?”

“ I can ride.” Johnny said

“ So where’s the closest town with a doctor?’ Jasper asked as he helped Johnny to his horse.

“ Ehrenburg.” Johnny said as he mounted up. “ It’s about ten miles.”

“ Ten miles, can you make it that far?” Jasper asked.

“ I can make it. I’ve had worse.” Johnny said.

“ Let me know if you need to stop, or feel like you’re gonna fall from the saddle.” Jasper said as he mounted up.


Chapter 4

Murdoch and Scott stepped off the train in Barstow. “ You go get us a couple of good horses. I’m going to go talk to the sheriff.” Murdoch said.

“ Alright. I’ll meet you there.” Scott said.

Murdoch walked down to the sheriff’s office, opened the door, and stepped inside.

“ Sheriff, I’m Murdoch Lancer.”

“ Lancer, you wasted no time getting here. I’m sheriff Mitchell.” he said as he stood up and shook the mans hand.

“ What can you tell me about Johnny?” Murdoch asked.

“ The man who has him…..the supposed to be marshal I disapprove of his methods. He cold-cocked Johnny after he was in the cell.” the sheriff said.

“ He’s a marshal from what I’ve learned named Jasper.” Murdoch said.

“ I fed your son. He said he hadn’t ate anything for a few days, and was barely getting enough water to survive. He came in the next morning and was furious with me for feeding him.” he said.

“ Was he hurt?” Murdoch asked.

“ His wrist were raw from the shackles, and he had a cut on his left temple from where he hit him. I asked him if he wanted our doc to look at it, he said no, that he’d had worse.”

“ Do you know which way they headed when they left?” Murdoch asked.

“ Southeast. They’ll have to cross the river at Ehrenburg. There’s a ferry there, and they can get supplies.” the sheriff said as his door opened and Scott walked in.

“ This is Sheriff Mitchell.” Murdoch said. “ This is my oldest son Scott.”

“ Scott, I’m sorry we have to meet under these circumstances.” the sheriff said.

“ I have two horses outside.” Scott said. “ Do we know which way they headed?”

“ Southeast. They have to take the ferry across the river at Ehrenburg.” Murdoch said. “ I’ll send a wire to Teresa letting her know.”

“ We need go get us some supplies.” Scott said.

“ Thank you for all you’ve done Sheriff Mitchell.” Murdoch said as he walked to the door.

Jasper stopped his horse outside a small building in Ehrenburg, got down and went to Johnny just as he started to slip fro the saddle. “ I got you.”

Johnny slid down into Jasper’s arms as darkness finally claimed him.

“ Damn kid, you couldn’t wait until I got you inside to pass out………….Hey you… me get him into the docs office.” Jasper said and ordered a man walking past.

“ Hey doc, got a customer for ya out here.” the man yelled.

“ Hold yur damn horses Stan!’ the doc yelled from the back.

“ Get your ass out here now doc!” Jasper yelled.

“ Now see here……..”

“ He’s been shot, and needs the bullet removed.” Jasper cut in and said.

“ Alright marshal. Stan, go ask Mrs. Wallace if she can come help me. Tell her I have to remove a bullet, and to hurry. It looks like this young man has lost a considerable amount of blood.” the doc said.

“ Only talk to her, nobody else.” Jasper ordered.

Stan gave the doc a quick glance before leaving.

“ I don’t care what you gotta do doc……You don’t let Madrid die!” Jasper ordered.

“ He’s Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter?” the doc asked.

“ He is, and he saved my life.” he said.

“ I’ll do all I can, but it’s going to be up to him on whether he lives or not.” the doc responded as he started removing Johnny’s shirt.

“ Do you think they will find Johnny?” Mollie asked.

“ They won’t stop looking until they do.” Teresa said. “ Amelia.”

“ Hi, I couldn’t take being alone anymore.” Amelia said as she walked into the grand room. “ Is there any word?”

“ Murdoch sent a wire telling they were in Barstow.” Teresa said. “ Amelia, this is Mollie, Scott’s wife.”

“ Scott came home?” she asked.

“ He did the day before they left for Barstow.” Teresa said. “ They left six days ago and took the stage and then train to Barstow.”

“ So you are Johnny’s fiance?” Mollie asked.

“ Yes.” she said.

“ Amelia, why don’t you stay here with us.” Teresa suggested.

“ I think I will. I’ve been sitting in my hotel room just waiting for Johnny to come into the room.

Jasper stood up when the doc walked out of the room Johnny was in. “ How is he?”

“ He’s alive, but won’t be able to ride for a while marshal.” the doctor said.

“ How long?’ Jasper asked.

“ I can’t answer that because he has a fever starting.” he said. “ I don’t want him staying here. This practice is all I have. There are men who will try and kill him if they find out he’s here.”

“ You just said he can’t ride. Just where the hell am I supposed to move him too?” Jasper demanded.

“ I don’t care, but he’s not staying here.” the doctor said firmly.

“ You listen to me doc…….Madrid saved my life. He didn’t have to, but he did. I promised him I would get him help, and until he’s well enough * you * will continue to take care of him in that room.” Jasper said firmly.

“ Now see here marshal, you have no right………”

Jasper grabbed the doctor by his white coat and pulled him up close to his face. “ This badge gives me the right.”

“ He can be moved to my boarding house at the end of town.” Mrs. Wallace said. “ I can take care of him there.”

“ Thank you ma’am.” Jasper said.

“ Looks like they’ve been dead a couple days.” Scott said.

“ There’s blood on the ground here.” Murdoch said. “ It looks like two people left, one of them is shot.”

“ You thinking it’s Johnny and the marshal?” Scott asked.

“ Closest doctor will be in Ehrenburg.” Murdoch said as he mounted up. “  Ten miles.”

“ If Johnny is in that town, we’ll find him.” Scott said as he mounted up.

“  He’s still fighting a fever.” Mrs. Wallace said. “ Can I ask about his scars?”

“ He’s had a rough life. He told me he had been whipped and beaten while in a Mexican prison. Shot four times in the back by men not brave enough to face him, and five times by men who did.” Jasper said.

“ Can I ask why he’s your prisoner?”

“  You a widow?”

“ I am. My husband was killed by Apache’s.” she said. “ Now will you answer my question?”

“ Five days ago I could have answered that with no problem. Now…….I don’t know. I’m taking him back to Texas to hang for a murder he is charged with by a rancher.” he said.

“ You sound like you have doubts.” she said.

“ I was told he was tried and found guilty, but escaped before he could be hung.” he said. “ That’s what I was told when I got there.”

“ When you got there?” she asked.

“ El Paso. The rancher Milton Faver owns the Cibolo Creek ranch. He says Madrid killed his son. Gunned him down in cold blood.” he said.

“ And you didn’t check and see if his allegations were true?”

“ No ma’am I didn’t. I received a telegram from a man telling me about it, and that Johnny Madrid was the killer. What I’m finding hard to believe is why after seven years does this man send a wire telling me this?” the marshal said.

“ Maybe you should be asking yourself who this man is that sent the wire, and why he did it?” she said.

“ I was wondering when you were going to open your eyes again.” Jasper said.

Johnny blinked several times as he tried to sit up. “ How long was I out?”

“ Been here a week.” Jasper said as he poured some water. “ There’s a bottle of laudanum if you need it.”

“ Don’t like that stuff. It clouds my mind.” Johnny said as he took the glass of water and welcomed the coolness on his parched throat.

“ I’m sorry I shot you.” the marshal said as he set the glass down. “ I thought you were trying to shoot me. I should have checked to make sure Mike was dead.”

“  Like I said, I didn’t have time to warn you.” Johnny said.

“ Something’s been bothering me.” he said.

“ What?” Johnny asked.

“ Why………You know I’m taking you back to be hung for murder, yet you saved my life when you could have killed me, rode away and nobody would have known it was you. Why?”

“ I told you…I’m not a cold-blooded killer….and I have never murdered anyone.”

“ You can understand why I * had * a hard time believing that.” Jasper said.

“ Had?” Johnny asked.

“ Yeah…..had.” Jasper said.

“ Who were they?” Johnny asked.

“ The one you killed was Mike, younger brother to a man I tracked down. He robbed a stage and killed three people, one of them a woman.” Jasper said. “ Mike was at the trial and swore he would make me pay for his brother’s death. They hung him the morning after the trial.”

“ And it made no difference to him what his brother did to get hung?” he asked.

“ Well I see my patient is awake.” Mrs. Wallace said as she walked into the room. “ How are you feeling young man?”

“ Ma’am……You’re the doctor?” Johnny asked.

“ No, but I help the doctor out when he needs it.” she said.

“ Johnny, this is Mrs. Wallace. For your safety she had you brought to her boarding house. She’s been taking care of you.” Jasper said.

“ The marshal has too.” she said as she felt his forehead. “ You feel a lot cooler. The doctor will be here this afternoon to check your wound and change the bandage. I’ll go fix you something to eat.”

“ Actually ma’am, I’m more tired than hungry.” Johnny said.

“ You’re tired because you haven’t had any food for over a week.” Jasper said.

“ He’s right. Not eating will make you tired.” she said before walking out.

“ Damn…….she’s been my nurse. That’s one fine looking lady.” Johnny said.

“ Forget it kid, she’s too old for you, and a widow.” Jasper said.

“ I didn’t mean for me.” Johnny said. “ I seen how she was side-glancing at you.”

“ Me…..hell I’m the last person a woman like that would want.” he said.

“ I used to think that way. I’ve had my share of whores, and because of my profession…. I thought I couldn’t have one woman to spend the rest of my life with. I thought that until I met a woman who changed my mind. A woman who knew about my past as Madrid and didn’t care. We were to be married in the fall.” Johnny said.

“ What’s her name?” he asked.

“ Amelia Sanchez.” Johnny said as the widow walked back in with food.

“ I want you to eat all of this, and then rest.” she ordered. “ Marshal, I want you to see to it he does.”

Murdoch and Scott dismounted at the doctor’s office and went inside.

“ Can I help you?” the doc asked.

“ I’m Murdoch Lancer and this is my son Scott. We’re looking for a man named Johnny Madrid He may have been shot about ten miles out of town.”

“ He’s with another man, a marshal.” Scott said.

“ What’s Madrid to you?” the doctor asked.

“ He’s my son. Please… he here?” Murdoch said.

“ He is. He’s at the boarding house. The marshal brought him in five days ago shot. Said Madrid saved his life and has been worried about him.” the doctor said. “ He’s been fighting a fever but it’s started to come down. I was just headed over there to check on him again.”

Murdoch and Scott followed the doctor to a small house at the end of town. A sign hanging outside said Wallace Boarding house. Walking inside they were met by a woman in a long plain blue dress. “ Doc, who are these men?” she asked.

“ Mrs. Wallace, this man says he is Madrid’s father.” the doctor said.

“ He is!” Jasper said from the bedroom doorway where Johnny was. “ He’s in here.”

“ Maybe you better let me go in first son?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yeah. He might not be happy to see me again.” Scott said.

Murdoch walked into the room and found his son sitting up in bed, and bandage wrapped around his lower chest.

“ Murdoch!” Johnny said softly.

“ Son.” Murdoch said with a quiver to his voice. “ Am I glad to see you.”

“ How did you get here so fast?” Johnny asked as his father walked over and sat down in the chair next to the bed.

“  We took the stage and then the train. Once in Barstow we bought a couple horses and have been riding hard ever since.” Murdoch explained.

“ You said we…….Who came with you?” he asked.

“ Your brother is with me. He’s waiting outside to see you.”

“ Scott is here?”

Murdoch stood up, walked over to the door and opened it. “ Scott.”

Scott walked into the room. “ I leave you alone and you go and get yourself in trouble.” he said as he walked over to his brother.

“ Yeah, happens when my big brother isn’t around.” Johnny said as they shook hands. “ So why’d you come back?”

“ I think that can wait until you’re stronger son.” Murdoch said. “ Mrs. Wallace said you only woke up this morning.”

“ Amelia?” Johnny asked.

“ Amelia, she’s upset and very scared she’s lost you. She was staying at the house, but went back to town because the pain was too much with you not there son. She loves you very much.” Murdoch said.

“ Murdoch…I want to talk to my brother alone.” Scott said.

“ He needs to rest………..” he said.

“ I’m fine old man. We need to talk.” Johnny cut in and said.

“ Alright. I’ll go get us rooms at the hotel and send a wire to Teresa.” Murdoch said as he walked out of the room, and stopped to glare at the marshal. “ You have some explaining to do marshal.” Murdoch said firmly. “ I want to know why you took my son, and you * will * answer questions.”

“ I’ll explain everything when and if Johnny wants me too.” he responded.

“ Start talking….brother!” Johnny said.

“ You have every right to be upset with me Johnny. I should have told you and Murdoch what was happening. Instead I chose to leave.” Scott said.

“ You left because of me didn’t you?” he demanded.

“ Not so much as because of you as it was to keep you alive.” he said. “ Grandfather had threatened to have men come and kill you. I seen how happy you had become living at Lancer. Happiness you deserved to have. I didn’t want you to lose that, so I decided to leave.”

“ How did he threaten?” Johnny asked.

“ Why does that matter Johnny. He threatened and it was over five years ago.” Scott said as he walked over to look out the window. “ I hate that man with every part of my being. He kept me from my father when growing up. Knew about you and never told me I had a brother. When he…….” Scott stopped and walked over to close the door. Walking back over, he sat down in the chair. “ Why did the marshal take you?”

“ We’re not talking about me.” Johnny said.

“ Please.” Scott pleaded.

“ I was supposed to have killed a ranchers son seven years ago.” Johnny responded.

“ Seven years…..Don’t you find that a little odd that after seven years a marshal shows up and arrest you?” Scott asked. “ It’s not like you’ve been hiding.”

“ I’ve been thinking about that, and talking to the marshal about it. He said he got a wire from someone telling him where I was, and that I was wanted for the murder of………Is that a wedding ring you’re wearing?”

“ It is.” Scott said. “ I got married four months ago to a woman I loved in college. It’s because of her I had the courage to face grandfather and leave Boston.”

“ You’ve been married four months, yet you’ve been gone over five years. So tell me brother………what did you do all that time?” Johnny asked sarcastically.

“ I became a teacher’s aide at Harvard. I worked for an old professor of mine. I refused to work for grandfather. I lived with him the first year, but my anger kept growing and I decided to stay at the college instead.” Scott explained. “ She’s waiting for me to come back at Lancer.”

“ She have a name?” Johnny asked.

“ Mollie. I think you will like her when you meet her.” Scott said.

“ I kinda have a previous engagement Boston.” Johnny said.

“ You have no idea how good it is to hear you call me that.” Scott said. “ And if you think we are going to let that marshal take you to El Paso and hang for something that was supposed to have happened seven years ago….you are sorely mistaken brother.”

Johnny put his boots on and stood up. Tucking his shirt in as his father and brother walked into the room.

“ I have something for you.” Scott said as he handed his brother a familiar gunbelt.

Johnny took the colt out and checked the cylinder.

“ I cleaned it for you this morning.” he said.

“ Thanks.” Johnny said strapping on the belt as the marshal walked into the room.

“ We’re not going to let you take Johnny to Texas!” Murdoch said firmly.

“  He’s still my prisoner, and this badge gives me the……”

“ That badge means nothing to us.” Scott said firmly.

“ Stop it.” Johnny ordered. “ Neither one of you have a clue as to what’s going on.”

“ I know perfectly well what’s going on young man, and I am not letting you go to Texas and hang for a murder I know you did not commit.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ Marshal….my brother is not a cold-blooded killer.” Scott added. “ Show him….show Johnny the letter from Marshal Stoudenmire.”

Murdoch walked over and picked up his saddlebags, opening one side he pulled out a letter and handed it to Johnny. “ This is what’s going on son.”

Johnny took the letter and read it.

Mister Lancer
My name is Dallas Stoudenmire, I am the marshal of El Paso, and western Texas. I was contacted by the Sacramento marshal’s service asking about a marshal named Jasper. There is a marshal named Jasper who works out of San Angelo, Texas. This man has a reputation of working as a bounty hunter. It is believed he is working for a man named Martin Faver from the Cibolo Creek ranch outside El Paso. He is being paid to bring in a man named Johnny Madrid for the murder of his son Jake Faver, seven years ago. I could find no record of Johnny Madrid committing any murder seven years ago. I did learn that Jake Faver was killed, but by all witnessed accounts stated he was drunk in a saloon in El Paso. When the saloon owner ordered him to leave and stopped serving him, Jake became enraged and started beating the owner. The only man to step in and stop the beating was Madrid. After a few exchanged words, Faver tried to draw on Madrid, and was shot and killed. It was determined that Madrid killed Jake Faver in self defense, not cold-blood.

“ That letter is proof you are innocent.” Scott said.

“ This is nothing I didn’t already know.” Johnny said. “ He told me about this.”

“ Why after seven years did he come after you son? Did he tell you that?”

“ No he didn’t. You said someone sent you a wire………who?” Johnny said and asked.

“ I never got a name.” Jasper said.

“  Who shot you son?” Murdoch asked. “ We found two dead bodies about ten miles from town. Who shot you?”

“ I did.” Jasper said.

“ You…….Why?” Scott demanded.

“ It was an accident. I thought Madrid was going to shoot me, when  he was in reality shooting the man behind me.”

“ The two men we found….who were they?” Murdoch asked.

“ It doesn’t matter who they were.” Johnny said. “ It don’t concern either of you.”

“ This man comes into our home, takes you away at gunpoint, then shoots you, and still plans on taking you to Texas……….As your father….it does concern me young man.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ With all due respect sir………Johnny’s right.” Scott said. “ He’s a grown man…..We should be supportive regardless of what his decision is.”

“ You’re going home. I don’t know who contacted me, or why. I’m sorry for all the grief I’ve caused you and your family Johnny.”

“ This isn’t over Jasper.” Madrid said.

“ It is as far as I’m concerned.” the marshal said. “ I’ll go back and tell them you were killed in an ambush. Go home and marry that little lady waiting for you to come home.”

“ I can’t do that, not as long as that man thinks I murdered his son.” Johnny said.

“ You can’t make a person see the truth son…….Please….come home with us”

“ And if he finds out you lied about me being dead?” Johnny asked.

“ I won’t be there. I’m turning in my badge, and going back to Colorado.” Jasper said.

Johnny lay on the bed in his hotel room in Bakersfield. “ Yeah.” he said.

Scott opened the door and walked into his room. “ You ready to go get some supper?”

“ I’m not hungry.” Johnny said.

“ You haven’t been eating much.” Scott said. “ You want to talk about what’s bothering you?”

“  What are you going to do now that you’re married?” Johnny asked.

“ Well….I thought me and my wife would find us a place close to Lancer to live.” he said. “ Lancer belongs to you and Murdoch. I have no rights to it.”

“ Why you say that?” Johnny asked.

“ You’ve been there almost six years longer than me. I left and had Randall change the deed.” Scott said. “ Lancer is your home, your birthright little brother.”

“ It’s your birthright too.” Johnny said. “ Murdoch was going to change the deed after you sent that letter……but I asked him not too. You’re still a third owner brother.”

“ I don’t know what to say.” he said.

“ I do. You can make me a promise right here….right now that you will never leave Lancer again.” Johnny said.

“ Only if you make the same promise brother.” Scott said.

“  I don’t plan on leaving. I have a woman waiting to marry me, and I promised the old man grandchildren.” Johnny said.

“ Amelia….Mollie, they got him!” Teresa yelled.

“ What?” Amelia asked as her and Mollie came out of the kitchen.

“ Johnny, they got him and they are coming home. They’re in Bakersfield.” Teresa said.

Amelia sat down on the couch and started crying.

“ What’s wrong?” Mollie asked.

“ I was so afraid they wouldn’t find him.” she said.

“ They have, and you will be with him again soon.” Teresa said.

“ That’s right, and you have a wedding to plan for too.” Mollie said.

“ She wants just family for the wedding.” Teresa said.

“ What about your dress?” Mollie asked.

“ I haven’t really thought about a dress to wear.” Amelia said. “ Fact is, I don’t have one suitable enough to get married in.”

“ We can go to Stockton, they have a couple of very nice dress shops there.” Teresa suggested.

“ The three of us…..dress shopping?” Amelia asked. “ Do you think Johnny and Scott would go?”

“ I bet they would, though I’m not too sure Johnny would be thrilled with it.” Teresa said.

“ Men never like shopping like we do.” Mollie said. “ I’m sure they will find something to entertain them while we shop.”

Murdoch, Scoot, and Johnny boarded the stage in Fresno with another man who took a seat next to Scott, across from Johnny.

“  You doing alright son?” Murdoch asked.

“  Considering it feels like this damn stage is jarring every bone in my body, yeah.” Scott said.

“ You know what your problem is Scott, you’ve gotten soft riding in those fancy coaches you have back in Boston.” Johnny said with a grin.

“ And don’t forget the streets are a lot smoother to ride on too.” Murdoch added. “ We should be home in two days.”

“ You one of those they call an eastern dandy?” the man asked.

“ Can I ask your name?” Scott asked.

“ Billy Taylor. Who are you?”

“ I’m Murdoch Lancer, and these are my sons Scott, and Johnny Lancer.”

“ You got a problem with people from back east?” Johnny asked.

The man glared at Johnny a few seconds. “ Not as much as I do with half-breeds.” Billy said. “ I’ve dealt with your kind before.”

“ Billy Taylor. I’ve heard of you.” Johnny said. “ You and your family were part of the Sutton, Taylor feud between Creed Taylor and a local law enforcement officer named William Sutton.”

“ How do you know about the Sutton, Taylor feud?”

“ Because I grew up along the border.” Johnny said. “ I heard the feud ended?”

“ It did. My brother Jack was killed as well as other family members and friends.” Billy said. “ I was sent to Galveston to stand trial and was acquitted. I thought I would come to California to start a new life. Get away from my past.”

“ My son coming home taught me something. He taught me that everyone deserves a second chance.” Murdoch said.

“ You just have to want it bad enough.” Scott added.

“ So you lived another life totally along the border?” he asked.

“ I did, but it’s in the past, and all I care about now is the future.” Johnny responded. “ You’re young enough you can have a better future. You just have to work hard at it, and want it bad enough.”

To : Chapter 4- Research Notes


Chapter 5

Johnny stopped his horse and dismounted as Amelia came out of the house with Mollie and Teresa.

“ Johnny!’ Amelia said as she ran to him and wrapped her arms around him tightly. “ I was so afraid I would never see you again.”

“ I’m here…..I’m never leaving you again.” Johnny said as he hugged her tight.

“ Told you we would bring him home.” Scott said as he dismounted and hugged Mollie.

“ Murdoch.” Teresa said. “ Welcome home.”

“ It’s good to be home sweetheart.” Murdoch said. “ Lets go inside and relax.”

Johnny kept his arm around Amelia as they walked into the grand room.

“ We’ve been preparing a special welcome home meal for the three of you.” Teresa said.

Johnny walked over to Teresa and pulled her into a hug. “ Thanks Querida.” he said before kissing her on the cheek. “ We need to have a talk later.” he whispered into her hear.

“ Johnny….this is Mollie.” Scott said.

Johnny walked over to her and smiled. “ Welcome to the family.” he said as he took her left hand and kissed the back of it.

“ I see what you mean Amelia.” Mollie said. “ He is quite the charmer.”

“ Yes he is.” Amelia said.

“ I need to go check on supper.” Teresa said. “ I’m glad you’re home, and safe Johnny.”

Scott walked over to the sideboard and poured five brandy’s. “ I think a toast is in order.”

“ What are we toasting?” Johnny asked.

“ Well….I wasn’t here when you asked Amelia to marry you, so I guess you could say it’s a delayed engagement toast from your big brother.” Scott responded as he handed the drinks out. “ A toast to the best brother in the world and his wonderful fiance: congratulations on getting engaged! I can’t wait to see your family grow.  I am so thankful to have a brother like you. I wish you both the best.”

“Thank you Boston. Growing up I kept wishing I had a big brother. I’m sure glad I have you.” Johnny said as he walked over to his brother, and the two hugged.

Murdoch cleared his throat. “ For a long time I thought I would never find my youngest son again, but with perseverance he’s home and has found a beautiful woman to share his life with. Getting engaged is a promise to be with someone for the rest of your life. I pray that your love only grows with time. May God bless your love. Congratulations!” Murdoch said.

Johnny walked over to his father. “ Thank you.”

Murdoch reached out and pulled his youngest into a hug.

“ Supper is ready.” Teresa said as she walked over to Johnny, took his left arm and led him to the table. “ I made you your favorite desert.”

“ You didn’t have to do that Teresa. Thank you.” Johnny said as he kissed her cheek before sitting down.

“ I think Mollie and I are going to turn in.” Scott said later that evening.

“ Alright son.” Murdoch said.

“ If you’ll excuse me. I have someone in the barn I need to go see.” Johnny said as he walked tot he door.

“ Don’t stay up too late son.” Murdoch said as he watched his son head out to the barn. “  I know the two of you are getting married, but until you are, I will not permit the two of you to share a bed in this house.”

“ I can respect that Mister Lancer.” Amelia said.

“  I will bid you a goodnight then.” he said.

“  Good night.” Amelia said.

Johnny stood with his arms wrapped around Barranca’s neck, his forehead pressed against his friends face. “ I thought I would never see you again amigo.”

“ He’s a magnificent horse.” Amelia said as she walked into the barn. “ I’ve been becoming friends with him.”

“ You shouldn’t have come out here.” Johnny said.

“ They all went to bed.” Amelia said as she rubbed Barranca’s face. “ Your father told me he forbids us sleeping together in his house until we are properly married.”

Johnny took her hand in his and walked her to the back of the barn into the darkness.

Billy Taylor rode up to the Lancer house and dismounted as Murdoch and Scott came outside.

“ Billy Taylor isn’t it?” Murdoch asked. “ What can I do for you?”

“ Mister Lancer….Scott. I was hoping you could use another hand? I’ve been to every ranch in the valley, and none of them are hiring?” Billy asked.

“ We could use an extra hand helping with clearing streams and fixing fence.” Scott said.

“ Walt!” Murdoch called. “ I pay a dollar a day with Sunday off. I expect the work to be finished, and get a full days work out of you.”

“ Yes sir.” Walt said.

“ Walt, this is Billy Taylor, he’s going to be working for us for a while. See that he gets settled in the bunkhouse and then take him out and put him to work clearing streams.” Murdoch ordered.

“ Thank you Mister Lancer.” Billy said before walking away with Walt.

Johnny came in the house late Saturday afternoon a month later to find his father at his desk. “ Murdoch,”

Murdoch looked up. “ You get that stream cleared out?”

“ Yeah.” Johnny said.  “ You know where Amelia is?” Johnny asked.

“ I think she’s in the kitchen with Mollie and Teresa.” he said. “ You and Scott going to town tonight?”

“ No, I made plans with Amelia.” he said. “ Since tomorrow is Sunday and it’s a full moon tonight, we’re going to take a late night ride, and camp out under the stars.”

“ Alright son. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Murdoch said.

“ Thanks. I’ll see you.” Johnny said before heading to the kitchen. “ You ready?”

“ Just been waiting for you my love.” Amelia said as she stood up.

“ Where you going?” Teresa asked.

“ For a late night ride. Johnny is taking me to a waterfall and we are camping out.” Amelia said.

Teresa glared at Johnny before going out the back door.

“ Seems to be a storm coming in.” Scott said as he walked in the house.

“ It feels like it’s getting colder.” Murdoch said as he stood up. “ You get the herd moved?”

“ Yes sir. They’re settled in liking that lush green grass.” Scott said. “ Johnny come back yet?”

“ Not yet. He’s clearing brush from Cantua creek. I told him I wanted it cleaned out today. If at all possible.” Murdoch said.

“ Does he have anyone helping him?” he asked.

“  Walt sent Billy to help him.” he said.

“ I think I will go soak in a hot bath.” Scott said.

“ Alright. After supper I want to discuss some changes with you and Johnny.” Murdoch said.

“ Starting to rain pretty good Johnny.” Billy said.

“ Go on and head back.” Johnny said.

“ What about you?” he asked.

“ I’ll be along. I want to check something out before I do.” Johnny said.

Billy walked to his horse and mounted up. “ See you tomorrow.”

Johnny watched Billy ride away before pulling the last of the sage bushes growing in the creek bed. A half hour later he walked over to Barranca as lightening flashed in the distance. “ I’ll give you a good rubdown and extra oats when we get back amigo.” he said as he patted the stallions neck before swinging up in the saddle when a bullet slammed into his back, knocking him from the saddle. Barranca bolting when lightening hit an oak tree not far from them and split it in half.

“ Shouldn’t Johnny be back by now?” Amelia asked.

“ He should, but the storm could be slowing him down.” Murdoch said.

“ You want me to hold supper?” Teresa asked.

“ No, just put a plate in the oven to stay warm for him.” Murdoch said.

“ Somebody just rode in.” Scott said as he walked to the veranda door, and went outside. “ Billy, didn’t my brother come back with you?”

“ No, he wanted to check on something before he came back.” Billy said.

“ Alright, go get dry and warmed up.” Scott said before heading back inside.

“ Is Johnny coming?” Amelia asked.

“ Billy said he wanted to check on something before he came back.” Scott said.

“ Let’s eat. Johnny will be along.” Murdoch said.

“ I’ll wait for Johnny, and eat with him.” Amelia said before she walked out onto the portico.

“ Did Billy say whether or not they got that wash cleared?” Murdoch asked as they sat down to eat supper.

“ No sir, and I didn’t think to ask him.” Scott said as he sat down.

“ Barranca just came back without Johnny!”  Amelia said with panic in her voice.

Scott and Murdoch hurried outside. “ Easy Barranca, easy boy.” Scott said. “ Something happened to spook him. From the mud on him and the saddle it looks like he took a tumble.”

“ Johnny wouldn’t run him in this weather, especially at night.” Amelia said.

“ This storm will make it hard to find him. We could ride right past him and not know it.” Murdoch said.

“ He was working at Cantua Creek. I’m going to ride to there and start searching.” Scott said.

“ Go wake up some hands, have one go get Sam.” Murdoch ordered. “ Have Billy come with us. He knows where they were working.”

“ Are you taking a wagon?” Teresa asked.

“ No, it will just slow us down in the rain and get stuck in the mud.” Murdoch said.

“ I’ll have everything ready for when you come back.” Teresa said.

Billy stopped his horse. “ We started working here and worked our way up about a mile before it started raining.”

“ Billy, just how hard was it raining when you left?” Murdoch asked.

“ Harder than it is now, and there was a lot of lightening.” Billy said.

“ Johnny!” Scott yelled.

“ Keep about fifty feet apart.” Murdoch said.

“ I smell smoke.” Scott said.

“ There, looks like lightening hit that oak tree!” Walt said.

“ Oh my god, there he is.” Murdoch said as he dismounted and ran to his son. “ Johnny!”

Scott dismounted and went to his brother.

“ He’s been shot in the back. He’s covered in blood.” Murdoch said.

 “ He’s still alive.” Scott said.

“ We need to get him home and warmed up!” Murdoch said.

“ Get him up on my horse son.” Murdoch said before going to get his horse. “ Walt, ride back and let them know we found him. Tell Sam he’s shot in the back, but is suffering from hypothermia. Make sure they have plenty of hot water to help warm him up.”

Sam hurried outside when Murdoch rode up with Johnny in his arms. “ Let’s get him upstairs and get those wet clothes off him.”

“ You ladies wait outside.” Murdoch ordered.

“ Teresa, make sure that bath is still hot.” Sam ordered.

“ Bath?” Murdoch asked.

“ The hot water will help warm him up. He’s too cold for me to try and remove that bullet.” Sam said.

Two hours later Murdoch and Scott were ordered out of Johnny’s bedroom so they headed downstairs to three waiting women.

“ His body temperature is back up.” Scott said.

“ Sam’s removing the bullet now.” Murdoch said. “  Did you have anyone else working in that area?”

“ No. Johnny and Billy were the only two there. Adam and Mack were at the line-shack two miles away.” Scott responded. “ Why?”

“ I think Billy might have been the one to shoot Johnny.” Murdoch said.

“ Billy…Why? He seems to like Johnny.” Mollie said.

“ Call it a fathers instinct.” Murdoch said.

“ You think because he came back before Johnny, he shot him?” Scott asked.

“ That and………Think back to when we rode together on the stage. Remember how he kept looking at Johnny?” Murdoch asked.

“ Now that I think about it, he did even when one of us spoke to him.” Scott said. “ Johnny never said anything when he learned you hired him.”

“ I think we all got fooled by him son.” Murdoch said.

“ Is Johnny going to die?” Amelia asked with tears in her eyes.

Murdoch walked over and put his arms around her, pulling her to him. “ Johnny’s not going to die.”

“ Amelia, it’s going to be a long night. Why don’t we go fix something for everyone to eat? ” Mollie suggested.

“ What do you want to do about Billy?” Scott asked.

“ Right now nothing. We don’t have any proof it was him, and I don’t want to accuse him of shooting your brother and be wrong.” Murdoch said.

“I’ll have Walt keep an eye on him.” Scott said. “ I think I’m going to go get out of these wet clothes now while we wait.”

Sam came downstairs just as the sun started to show the first rays of light. Seeing Teresa, Mollie and Amelia sleeping, he motioned for Murdoch and Scott to go to the kitchen with him.

“ Coffee Sam?’ Scott asked.

“ Yes please.” Sam said as he used the hand pump at the sink to wash his hands, and splash water on his face.

“ There’s food in the oven the girls cooked up earlier if you are hungry.” Scott said as he poured a cup of coffee.

“ Not right now.” Sam said as he sat down and took a sip. “ I believe he was shot in the back with a rifle.”

“ What about his fever Sam?” Scott asked.

“ He still has one and I’m hoping it stays down, but knowing Johnny I have a feeling it will go up again.” Sam said. “ If that happens, We’ll put him in a bath of cold water.”

“ Will he live?” Amelia asked from the door.

“ I’ve done just about all I can do. The rest is up to him I’m afraid.” Sam said. “ I want someone with him at all times to keep an eye on that fever.”

“ I’ll go sit with him. You two need sleep.” Amelia said.

“ Teresa made up the room across from Johnny’s for you Sam.” Murdoch said.

“ Thank you. I could use  some sleep.” Sam said.

Amelia sat with Johnny refusing to leave his side all day. Every time Murdoch or Scott came in to sit with Johnny, she refused to leave. Finally Murdoch gave her no choice but to leave and get some sleep.

“ How’s he doing?” Teresa asked as she came in with a tray of food.

“ No change.” Murdoch said as he stood up and stretched his back. “ Is Amelia sleeping?”

“ Finally. I think she cried herself to sleep.” Teresa said. “ She definitely loves Johnny.”

“ Yes she does.” Murdoch said.

“ Sam said he would be back this afternoon, and Scott is in the barn with Barranca.” she said.

“ Barranca, why, what’s wrong?” he asked.

“ He said Barranca has swelling in his right front leg. It’s not broke, but swelled up, and he’s not putting any weight on it.” Teresa explained.

“ I know what that horse means to Johnny. I’ll have the vet come out and check him.” Murdoch said.

“ He’s already been out. He said with several months, maybe a year of rest he’ll be alright.” Scott said as he walked into the room.

“ Your brother will be glad to know that when he wakes up.” Murdoch said.

“ I need you to wake up my love. Wake up and let me see those beautiful blue eyes of yours.” Amelia pleaded a week later as tears rolled down her cheeks. “ Please wake up Johnny.”

Sam walked into the room. “ He’ll wake up when he’s ready too my dear.” he said. “ One thing I have learned from this boy is you never rush him. Johnny does things in his own way, at his own pace.”

“ Well that is something I will be discussing with him.” Amelia said as she wiped her tears away.

Sam sat down on the edge of the bed. “ You care deeply for him don’t you?”

“ We are to be married in two weeks. I want to spend the rest of my life with him Sam. I want to give him children.” she said.

“ Might I suggest that when you sit with Johnny, you exercise his legs.” Sam suggested as he uncovered his legs and showed her. “ His leg muscles are becoming weak from not being used. Just bring his legs up and down like this. Start out slow and rub his calves and thighs down with lineament before you do it. It will help loosen the muscles up.”

Johnny opened his eyes four days later, blinking several times. He could feel someone touching him, moving his right leg. Looking he could see it was Amelia. “ Hey.” he said hoarsely.

Amelia looked to see Johnny looking back at her. Smiling she moved up and touched his face. “ I’ve been waiting so long for you to wake up my love.”

“ What are you doing to me?” he asked.

“ What Sam said to do. Working your leg muscles so you can walk when he allows you out of bed.” she said as she poured a glass of water. “ Here, don’t drink it too fast.”

Johnny sipped the water and welcomed the coolness to his dry throat and mouth. “ Thanks.” he said  Reaching up with his right hand he felt the tube inserted in his nose.

“ Leave that. Sam will remove it when he comes this afternoon.” Amelia ordered. “ It’s there so we could keep fluids in you these past two weeks.”

“ Ten days?” Johnny asked softly.

“ Yes, ten days. You had a very high fever for five days. When they brought you home, they had to put you in a tub to warm your body up. You were so cold, Sam couldn’t remove the bullet from your back until your body temperature came up. Don’t you remember?”

“ Bullet……..what….” Johnny said before closing his eyes and trying to remember. “ I was clearing the creek….It started to rain hard……The last thing I remember is getting on Barranca.”

“ I thought I heard voices coming from this room. Welcome back brother.” Scot said as he walked in.

“ I was just going to come tell you he’s awake.” Amelia said as she walked toward the door. “ I’ll be back in a few.”

“ How you feeling?” Scott asked.

“ Tired.” Johnny said.

“ What do you remember?” he asked as he sat down.

Johnny told him what he remembered and then tried to move, but found his left arm wouldn’t.

“ You were shot in the back by someone using a rifle.” Scott said as Murdoch walked into the room.

“ Son, you have no idea how good it is to see you awake finally.” Murdoch said.

“ Feel like I’ve been kicked in the back.” Johnny said. “ Who shot me?”

“ We’re not sure.” Scott said. “ When Billy came back, he said you told him to come back, and that you would after you checked on something.”

“ I don’t…….He……” Johnny stammered.

“ It’s alright son. You had a very high fever and was suffering from hypothermia when we found you.” Murdoch said.

“ How did you know I was hurt?” he asked.

“ Barranca came back without you.” Scott said.

“ There was an oak tree on fire near you. I think when the lightening hit the tree, it spooked him son.”

“ Johnny, Barranca took a spill. He injured his right front leg. The vet said he won’t be able to be rode for several months, possibly a year.” Scott said.

“ It’s not broke?” Johnny asked.

“ No. I’m rubbing it down three times a day with lineament to help with the soreness and swelling.” Scott said. “ He’s not too happy about being kept tied in his stall, but he has to stay as still as possible.”

“ He never liked being tied up very long when not under saddle.” Johnny said. “ Thanks for taking care of him for me brother.”

“ Son, we think Billy is the one who shot you.”

“ Does he know I’m still alive?”

“ He was with us when we found you and brought you back.” Murdoch said.

“ Is he still here?” Johnny asked.

“ He is. Walt is keeping an eye on him. He’s asked about you, but mainly goes out, does his work and comes back at night, keeping to himself.” Scott said.

“ Guilt. Billy didn’t shoot me Murdoch.” Johnny said.

“ Okay, can I ask how you know this?” Scott asked.

“ He’s been there before in the Sutton, Taylor feud Scott. He’s not going to risk going to jail, or being hung for murder.” Johnny said.

“ Then if he didn’t shoot you, who did?” Scott asked.

Johnny stood looking out the window thinking about the night he was shot. His gut told him it wasn’t Billy who shot him. That left two other people close enough to have been the shooter.

“ Johnny.” his father said from the door. “ Billy is here.”

Johnny tuned around. “ Thanks. Leave us.”

Murdoch hesitated but seen the look in his sons eyes, turned and left the room.

“ It’s good to see you up.” Billy said.

“ Thanks. Listen Billy, I want to talk to you about that night.”

“ They think I shot you don’t they?” Billy asked.

“ Yes they do.” Johnny said.

“ And you… you think I shot you?”

“ No I don’t Billy. If you had, you wouldn’t be standing here right now.” Johnny said. “ I want to thank you for helping with Barranca. Scott told me how you took over making sure he gets rubbed down with lineament every day.”

“ I know what that horse means to you. I figure it’s the last I can do.” he said. “ Maybe some day I’ll have me a horse like him.”

“  How about when I’m well enough the two of us take a ride out to Black Mesa and find one for you.” Johnny suggested. “ It’s the least I can do to say thank you.”

“ You don’t have………”

“ Billy…….I have a feeling you’re letting what happen bother you.”

“ If I hadn’t left you…….”

“ You would have been shot, maybe even killed.” Johnny said. “ Look, it’s not your fault. I want you to stop feeling guilty.”

“ Thanks Johnny. You know….I knew who you were that day on the stage.” Billy said. “ I knew you were Johnny Madrid.”

“ How come you didn’t say anything?” he asked.

“ Because I figured if Johnny Madrid could get a second chance….so could I.” he responded.

“ Listen, why don’t you come to my wedding reception this weekend?” Johnny asked.

“ I’m not one for big gatherings Johnny.”

“ Free beer and food. You might even find someone you like.”

“I’ll think about it. I’m real happy for you Johnny. You know, getting a second chance.” Billy said. “ I better get back to work.”

“ Thanks Billy. I’ll see you later.” Johnny said.

“ Congratulations brother. I guess this means no more Saturday nights in town.” Scott said.     

“ Just because Johnny is married now doesn’t mean he can’t go to town on a Saturday night for a beer. As long as that’s all he does.”

“ Just because I’m married don’t mean I can’t still have fun Scott.” Johnny said.

“ Well those women in the saloon can be pretty persuasive.” she said with a smile.

“ Any woman can.” Johnny said as Murdoch walked over.

“ May I have the next dance with my new daughter-in-law?”  he asked.

“ I would love to dance with you.” Amelia said.

“ I never thought this day would ever get here.” Johnny said as he watched his new bride dance with his father.

“ You deserve happiness Johnny. You know, Murdoch is going to expect grandchildren.” Scott said.

“ I plan on doing just that.” Johnny said as Sam walked over to them.

“ Johnny, when I brought you into this world I never dreamed I would be attending your wedding years later. I’m happy for you.” Sam said.

“ Thanks Sam. Unless you retire, you’ll be delivering my first born child in nine, ten months.” Johnny said.

“ Now that will be an honor for me to do my boy.” Sam said.

“ Johnny, can I have a dance with you?” Teresa asked.

“ I’d love too.” Johnny said as he took her hand in his and stepped out to join the other dancers. “ You look lovely today.”

“ I hope some day I have a man like you Johnny.” she said.

Johnny wiped the sweat from him brow as a rider approached. “ You finish with that section of fence?” he asked.

“ No.” Billy said.

“ Can I ask why you stopped working?” Johnny asked as he suddenly got  a sick feeling, and moved over toward his horse.

“ I think you know why.” Billy said. “ It’s just luck you didn’t die that night.”

“ Why Billy?” Johnny asked. “ Haven’t we been good to you?”

“ The why is easy. You’re Johnny Madrid.” Billy said.

“ Billy, don’t do this. Ride away….please.” Johnny pleaded.

“ Can’t.” Billy said as he went for his gun.

Johnny crouched, drew, and fired his colt as Billy’s started to come up. His bullet hitting the kid center of his chest, knocking him off his horse.

“ Morning son.” Murdoch said.

“ Morning.” Johnny said as he sat down.

“ Son, I’m sorry about Billy. I know you wanted it to not be him.” Murdoch said.

“ He could have let it go and I never would have known it was him.” Johnny said.

“  Johnny, I need you to ride to Rancho Las Animas, and pick up four cutting horses I purchased.” Murdoch requested.

“ Good morning.” she said.

“ Good morning.” Teresa said.

“ Ranch Las Animas? That’s over a hundred miles away outside Gilroy. .” Johnny said.

“ It should take you about ten days.” Murdoch said.

“ When did you purchase them?” Johnny asked.

“ Last week. I sent a wire telling him you would be coming.” Murdoch responded.

“ Why didn’t you discuss this purchase with me or Scott?” he asked.

“ Because I have been buying horses from Bernard Murphy for twenty years. He died last spring and the ranch is now run by his sons, Martin and Daniel Murphy.” Murdoch explained.

“ Okay, here’s your four bill of sales.” Daniel said as he handed them to Johnny.

“ Thanks. You have a real nice setup here.” Johnny said as he put the papers in his coat pocket.

“ Tell your father to send someone else next time Madrid.” Daniel said. “ Only reason you’re on this property is your father already paid for the horses.”

Johnny stepped closer to the man. “ Lancer won’t be doing business with you anymore boy.”

“Get off our land now half-breed, and don’t ever come back.” Martin ordered.

“ Toby, what brings you here?” Scott asked.

“ I have a telegram for you.” the boy boy said.

“ For me or my father?” Scott asked.

“ You.” Toby said as he handed the wire to him. “ I gotta get back.”

Scott took the wire and opened it as his father walked outside.

“ That from Johnny?” Murdoch asked.

“ No………my grandfather. He’s in Stockton and wants to see me.” Scott said.

“You’re a grown man son. I can’t tell you not to go. All I can do is ask that you not be sucked in like before.” Murdoch said.

“ I’m needed here.” Scott said. “ Losing Billy, and with Johnny gone.”

“ Son…..if you don’t go, make sure it’s for the right reasons.” Murdoch said. “ Do you want to see him?”

“ There’s only one reason I would want to see him…..and I already know he will not give me what I want.” Scott said.

“ Answers to why son?”

“ Exactly.” he said.

“ Send him a wire and tell him to come here.” Murdoch suggested.

“ I’d rather not sir. I have no desire to see him again…..ever.” Scott sad firmly before heading back inside.

“You may not want to, but I have a feeling you will son.” Murdoch said before turning to go back inside.


Chapter 6

“ Are you sure Sam?” Amelia asked.

“ I am.” Sam said. “ From what you have told me, I would say you will deliver in six months.”

“ Oh Johnny is going to be so happy.” Amelia said. “ He said I would before our first wedding anniversary.”

“  For right now you can do just about everything you’ve been doing.” Sam said. “ But as you get further along, I don’t want you lifting anything heavy, and no riding horses.”

“ Is the baby why I feel sick in the mornings?” she asked.

“  Your body is going to go thru a dramatic change over the next few months. You will gain weight, and your appetite could become different.” Sam said. “ Some day’s you won’t feel like eating at all, but you have to eat for the baby. There will be days you won’t want to get out of bed.”

“  What about……”

“ I will leave that up to you, as you advance along, you may have to make adjustments for comfort.” Sam suggested as he put his stethoscope away.

“ I think I understand what you’re trying to say Sam.” Amelia said with a laugh.

“ When is Johnny due back?” Sam asked.

“ Tomorrow.” she said. “ I can’t tell you how happy I am that it will be you who delivers our child.”

“ Well like I said at your wedding, I never dreamed I would be attending Johnny’s wedding… or delivering his first child.” Sam said. “ Did you come into town alone?”

“ No, I came in with Walt.” she said.

“ I’ll come out every month to do a check-up on you.” Sam said as they walked to the door.

Amelia turned and gave Sam a hug. “ Thank you Sam.”

“ Scott, your grandfather is outside.” Teresa said.

“ Grandfather is here?” he asked.

“ He’s outside.” she said.

“ I told him in the wire I don’t want to see him.” Scott said.

“ What are you going to do?” Mollie asked.

“ I’ll go out there if you want me too son?”

Scott ran a hand thru his hair. “ No, this is something I have to do.” he said before heading outside.

“ Scotty.” Harlan said as he walked over to him.

“ Why did you come here?” Scott demanded with anger. “ I told you I did not want to see you ever again.”

“ You are all the family I have. I was hoping we could what’s happened behind us?” Harlan said.

“ Why, so you can try and destroy my family like before?” Scott demanded. “ I told you back in Boston before I left that there is nothing…..nothing you can do to get me to ever go back there again.”

“  I’m not here to try and get you to go back.” Harlan said. “ I just wanted to see you.”

“ I don’t care. I have no interest in you, or seeing you ever again.” Scott said before going back inside.

“ Mollie, please talk to him? ” Harlan asked.

“ My husband has told you how he feels. Don’t ask me to do your bidding for you Mister Garrett.” Mollie said before going back inside.

“ You have nobody to blame for this but yourself Harlan.” Murdoch said. “ I don’t want to see you on Lancer land ever again.”

“ I would expect that from you.” Harlan said. “ That half-breed killer will get my Scotty killed one day. You mark my word.”

“ I suggest you leave here now old man before I forget who you are.” Johnny said from behind him. “ You took my brother from me once. It ain’t happening again old man.”

“ Johnny.” Murdoch said.

“ I’ve danced with the devil, have you?” Johnny asked.  “ You mess with my brother or family ever again…….I’ll send you straight to hell.”

“ Do yourself a favor and get off Lancer now.” Murdoch ordered.

“ While you still can.” Johnny added.

Harlan glared at Johnny a few seconds before climbing back in the buggy and leaving.

“ Welcome home son.” Murdoch said as he walked over to him.

“ Thanks. You won’t be buying horses from the Murphy brothers again.” Johnny said. “ The only reason I was allowed to pick these up is because you had already paid for them.”

“ What happened?” Murdoch asked.

“ Me. It would seem they know about my past. I was ordered off their ranch with the help of three rifles pointed at me.” Johnny said as Amelia came outside and put her arms around him. “ Hi.”

“ Welcome home my love.” she said.

“ You look tired son. Why don’t you go get cleaned up, and some rest before supper?” his father suggested.

“ Thanks. I think I will.” Johnny said before heading inside.

“ Something is bothering him.” Amelia said.

“ He comes home to find Harlan Garrett here. That’s enough to upset anyone.” Murdoch said. “ Give him some time.”

Johnny entered his brother’s bedroom without knocking. “ You care to tell me why he was here?”

“Don’t you believe in knocking?” Scott asked snidely.“ I don’t see it being any of your business why my grandfather was here Johnny.”

“ You have a right to feel that way Scott……..but let me tell you something right here…..right now.” Johnny said. “That old man split this family apart the last time he was here. I want to know if he’s going to take you away from me again?”

“ I didn’t run away Johnny. I left so you could have the life you deserve. You more than earned the right to be here….I haven’t.” Scott said.

“ You know, for having a fancy Harvard education, you sure do say some pretty stupid things sometimes Boston.” Johnny said.

“ If you came in here to insult me…….leave.” Scott said firmly.

“ I came in here to talk to my big brother. Like I said earlier, I don’t want to lose you again Scott.” he said. “ I’ll leave ya be.”

“  He said I’m all the family he has, and just wanted to see me.”

“ Do you believe him?” he asked.

“ No….He’s proved to me in the past that I cannot trust him.” Scott said as he stood up, and walked over to his brother. “ Grandfather only cares about himself, and will lie, cheat, and murder to get what he wants.”

“ Murder is a pretty harsh word Boston.”

“He has. He just hasn’t been caught yet.” Scott said. “ Those horses look good.”

“ Yeah, we won’t be buying from them anymore though.” Johnny said.” I was ordered off the property. The only reason I was able to get them is because Murdoch already paid for them.”

“ Did they say why?” Scott asked.

“ My past. Seems they knew who I used to be.” Johnny said.

“ You tell Murdoch?” he asked.

“ I hired out to this rancher in Mexico once.” Johnny said. “ He had a ranch south of Laredo. He was losing cattle across the border. The men stealing the cattle were a man named Texas Jack and his brother Ben. He’d lost about a hundred head already when he hired me. I caught them with ten head late one night. Ben made the mistake of trying to draw on me. TJ was taken to Nogales, Arizona where he stood trial and was sent to prison for twelve years.” Johnny said.

“ I thought they hanged cattle rustlers?” Scott asked.

“ They normally do, but for some reason, Arizona didn’t feel he deserved being hung since the cattle they were stealing were in Mexico.” Johnny explained.

“ Is everything okay?” Mollie asked as she walked into the bedroom.

“ Yeah. I was just leaving.” Johnny said.

Amelia found Johnny in the barn with Barranca. “ How’s his leg doing?”

“ Better. It’s not swelled up, and I don’t feel any heat coming from it now.” he said as he came out of the stall, latched the gate, and walked over to her. “ I’ll take him out to the paddock tomorrow and see how he does.”

“ You’re going to be a father.” Amelia said.

Johnny froze for a few seconds before picking Amelia up, and spinning around with her in his arms. “A father!”

“ Yes my love.” she said. “ Now please put me down.”

Johnny let her down, but didn’t let go of her. “ I can’t believe I’m going to be a father.”

“ You will be in about five months.” she said.

“ I have to be dreaming.” he said.

“ Maybe I should show you you’re not dreaming.” Amelia said as she let her hands start wandering.

“ Maybe you should.” Johnny said before claiming her mouth, unaware they were being watched.

Johnny and Amelia came downstairs the next morning to find his family at the table eating breakfast. ‘ Morning. Sorry we’re late.”

“ Nice of you too join us.” Teresa said.

“ We have some news to share with you all.” Johnny said as he wrapped his right arm around Amelia. “ You tell them.”

“ Murdoch….you’re going to be a grandfather in about five months.” she said.

Murdoch dropped his fork as Scott cleared his throat and stood up.

“ Congratulations brother.” he said with a big smile.

Murdoch stood up and walked over to his son. “ Congratulations son. Young lady, you have just made this old man very happy.”

“ I expect the two of you too spoil him or her rotten.” Amelia said.

“ I’m happy for you Amelia.” Mollie said.

Johnny walked over to Teresa. “ Hey, you’re awful quiet.”

“ Congratulations Johnny.” she said as she gave him a quick hug.

“ You alright?’ he asked softly.

“ I’m fine…..I…Congratulations.” Teresa said.

Johnny walked out to the rose garden three months later looking for Teresa. “ Can I talk to you  Querida?”

“ Johnny, you startled me.” she said as she stood up. “ I should go start supper.”

Johnny gently grabbed her arm and stopped her. “ You’ve been avoiding me. Why?”

“ I haven’t been avoiding you Johnny.” she said as she pulled her arm free and walked around to the side door, and opened it.

Johnny followed her inside and put his hand on the inside door to prevent her from opening it. Grabbing her arm, he spun her around. “ Teresa, something is bothering you. Ever since my wedding….you’ve hardly talked to me.”

Teresa’s heart started racing from being so close to him. “ I thought….Johnny……When Scott left, I thought we had grown closer.”

“ We have grown closer Teresa. I care about you. You’re my little sister.”

“ No I’m not Johnny. I’m not a little girl anymore. I’m nineteen years old.” she said. “ I thought it would be us.”

“ Us what?” Johnny asked.

“ I thought………Oh….. Why couldn’t you see me the way you see Amelia?” she asked.

“ Teresa, I did see you the way I see Amelia. I didn’t act on the feelings I had for you because……because I didn’t think you would like me in that way, and I knew Murdoch wouldn’t allow us to be together because of who I am.”

“ Well you’re wrong Johnny.” she said. “ I’ve had dreams of being with you. Of you making me yours, of you kissing me like you kiss her.”

Johnny stepped closer to her and put his right hand on her cheek. “ I would have married you if I had known.” he said before lowering his mouth to hers and gently touching her lips with his.

Teresa closed her eyes and clenched her hands when she felt Johnny’s lips touch hers. Her breath catching as new feelings started coursing thru her body.

“ If we were alone right now I would make you mine.” Johnny whispered before kissing her again, this time sliding his tongue in her mouth. Moaning he pulled her against his chest and pressed into her. “ Our being together can never happen.” he panted as he used his every being to resist claiming her body.

“ Johnny, I need you to escort Teresa to the orphanage so she can deliver medical supplies.” Murdoch said.

“ Can’t it wait until Scott gets back from Modesto tomorrow to take her Murdoch?” he asked.

“ No it can’t wait son.” Murdoch said. “ Now I could take her, but that would mean you would have to do the books, and we both know……”

“ Yeah, I know. So when do we leave?” he asked.

“ Right after breakfast. You can get there, deliver the supplies and should be back in time for supper.” Murdoch said.

“ Surely you jest old man. A wagon can’t……”

“ You won’t be taking a wagon. Everything is on a pack horse waiting outside.” his father said. “ Get there and try to get back before dark son.” Murdoch said.

“ Riding horses we’ll be able to travel faster.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle.

“ Be careful.” Amelia said.

“ I plan too.” he said before riding away.

“ Are you alright?” Murdoch asked as they stood watching them ride away.

“  I don’t trust her.” Amelia said.

“ Who don’t you trust?” he asked.

“ Teresa.” she said before walking back inside.

“ Go inside while I take care of the horses.” Johnny ordered as he dismounted, went over and helped her down. “ See what you can find for a fire.”

Johnny walked into the cabin and stopped. He found Teresa standing next to the fire with just a blanket wrapped around her.

“ Teresa…….I’m a married man.” he said.

Teresa walked over to him. “ It’s just the two of us here and I know you want me. I felt it that day in the foyer when you kissed me.” she said as she dropped the blanket she had wrapped around her and stood totally naked in front of him. “ I’m offering myself to you Johnny.”

Johnny smiled at her.” I do want you. I’ve wanted you for a long time Querida.” he said as he grabbed her, pulled her to him and claimed her mouth with passion and hunger. Sliding his tongue in her mouth deepening the kiss as he started running his hands over her soft skin.

“ You two get caught in the storm?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah, we made it to that old cabin just as it started to hit and waited it out.” Johnny said as he dismounted.

“ Supper is almost ready.”” Amelia asked as she walked outside.

Johnny walked over and kissed her on the cheek.“ Good because I am starved.” he said as they walked inside.

“ How was the trip?” Murdoch asked after supper.

“ Good until it started storming. We got soaked by the time we got to that old cabin along the river.” Johnny said. “ I was sure glad the roof is still good on that place.”

“ So the two of you spent the night in a cabin?” Amelia asked.

“ We had no choice.” Johnny said. “ She slept in the bed and I slept on the hard floor.”

“ Teresa, I’m going to ask you a question, and I want you to answer me truthfully.” Murdoch said.  “ Did something happen between you and Johnny in that cabin last night?”

Teresa sat down across from him. “ He’s married Murdoch. Why would you ask such a question?”

“ Because it’s been brought to my attention young lady that you have been…how should I say it…….acting inappropriately around Johnny.” Murdoch said.

“ Nothing happened we didn’t want to happen.” she said.

“ Would you care to explain that remark to me?” Murdoch demanded.

“ We………Johnny made love to me. We’ve wanted each other long before Amelia came here.” Teresa said.

“ Johnny is a married man! You’re sitting there telling me he dishonored you !”

“ Like I said, Johnny didn’t do anything we didn’t want to happen.” Teresa said with anger.

“ What’s going on?” Scott asked. “ I could hear you bellowing clear upstairs.”

“ Is your brother up yet?” Murdoch asked.

“ What is going on Murdoch?” Scott demanded.

“ Your brother dishonored Teresa when they were in the cabin waiting out the storm.” Murdoch said with anger. “ I am going to beat that boy senseless for what he’s done.”

“ If something did happen between them….Even though wrong, it was consensual. ” Scott said as Johnny and Amelia came downstairs.

“ Consensual about what Boston?” he asked.

Murdoch took two quick steps grabbed Johnny, and hit him as hard as he could in the mouth knocking him back against the stair banister. “ How dare you.”

“ Murdoch stop it. Johnny only did what I wanted him to do.” Teresa pleaded as she grabbed his arm.

“ What is going on?” Amelia demanded.

“ Tell her……Tell her how you betrayed her. How you seduced an innocent girl.” Murdoch demanded.

“ You seduced her?” Amelia asked. “ You bastard. I knew I couldn’t trust you two.”

“  He loved me before you ever came here!.” Teresa blurted out.

Murdoch grabbed Johnny again pulled him up and hit him hard in the gut, dropping him to his knees.

“ For the love of god Murdoch.” Scott pleaded as he tried to stop his father.

“ She wanted it……….. We both did. I knew you would never let us be together.” Johnny spat with anger.

Murdoch hit Johnny again in the face, splitting his bottom lip wide open.

“ Murdoch….enough!” Scott yelled.

Murdoch went to hit Johnny again, but found himself starring at the business end of his colt.

“ You touch me again old man, and I’ll blow your head clean off !” Johnny said in a voice so cold it sent chills down Scott’s spin.

“ Take it easy Johnny. You don’t want to do this brother.” he said softly. “ Put the gun away. He won’t hit you again.”

Johnny glared at his father a few seconds before he uncocked and slowly lowered the gun.

“ So our marriage never meant anything to you. You never loved me like you claimed. This whole time when we made love, it was really her you were making love too?” Amelia said.

“ I’m sorry.” Johnny said right before she slapped him hard across the face. “ You go to hell!”

“ You no good half-breed sonofabitch. Get the hell out of my house. Get off my land……!” Murdoch ordered.

Johnny grabbed his saddlebags, opened his dresser and stuffed his clothes in with anger.

“ Where will you go brother?’ Scott asked.

“ Away from here.” he said.

“ Do I need to remind you that regardless of what you have done, your wife is going to have your child in a few weeks?” Scott asked.

“ No……Look Scott, I can’t live this lie any longer.” Johnny said.

“  Leaving is not the answer.” Scott said.

Johnny  tossed his saddlebags over his shoulder and walked over to his brother. “ I can’t stay here Scott. I want you to do me a favor, promise me you will raise my son for me. Give him the chance the old man won’t give me.”

“ Give it some time Johnny. Give him a chance.” Scott pleaded.

“ Like he gave me when he hit me?” Johnny asked. “ I swore no man would ever lay a hand on me again Scott. If I stay here….I’ll kill him.”

“ Johnny, think about your wife and unborn child.” Scott suggested.

“ Amelia is better off without me. I never really loved her.” he responded before walking out.

“ Where you going?” Amelia asked as Johnny came downstairs.

“ Away from here.” Johnny said.

“ Johnny….please don’t leave.” Mollie pleaded. “ This is your home.”

“ It was never my home Mollie. Yesterday I let something happen that never should have, but at least now I know how he feels about me. I know in his eyes all I’ve ever been is a half-breed bastard. Take care Mollie.” Johnny said before walking out.

“ Murdoch…. for the love of god stop him.” Mollie pleaded.

Murdoch looked at her, then turned and went outside.

Johnny secured his saddlebags and slid his rifle in the scabbard.

“ Don’t go back to Mexico.” Murdoch said.

Johnny walked over to his father. “ I knew you never cared for the life I had before, but I never thought you would….that I would ever hear you call me a half-breed. That’s all I have ever been in your eyes. A half-breed bastard child.”

“Son please.” Murdoch said.

“ Don’t……don’t call me your son. You proved in there that I’m not!” Johnny said before turning to mount up.

Murdoch reached out and grabbed his arm, stopping him.

Johnny spun around and hit his father as hard as he could in the mouth, knocking the big man down. Standing there with his hands clenched in a fist, he glared down at his father a few seconds as tears ran down his cheeks before mounting up and riding away.

Scott came outside and helped his father stand up. “ I don’t think you will ever get him to come back here.”

Murdoch went into the house. Anger on his face. “ You young lady have just cost me my son. I don’t care where you go, but I want you gone from this ranch by tomorrow morning.” he ordered.

“ Do you know where Johnny is?” Sam asked.

“ No!” Murdoch said. “ And I don’t care if I ever see that boy again.”

“ Well I suggest you try  and find him. He has a son who just lost his mother.” Sam said with anger in his voice.

“ This baby is going to grow up here at Lancer.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ Like his father was supposed to?” Sam demanded.

“ It’s not my fault Maria took him away from me.” Murdoch snapped back.

“ I’m not talking about Maria. I’m talking about what happened here to drive that boy away this time.” Sam said. “ Murdoch Lancer, you are a complete jackass. How could you even think Johnny would do something so…….You not only believed he did it….You beat the boy. After all he’s done to prove to you he wanted to live here. After all he’s been through….You ran him off. You weren’t there to know what really happened, but because of his past….you took her word over your own sons.”

“ Are you done with your lecture?” Murdoch demanded.

“ God help you if Scott leaves.” Sam said as he picked up the baby, and headed downstairs.

“ Sam?” Mollie asked.

“ I couldn’t stop the bleeding….he’s gone.” Sam said with tears in his eyes and a quiver to his voice. “ Your nephew needs his father.”

“ It’s a boy?” Scott asked.

“ Yes. He’s healthy, but motherless.” he said.

“ I’ll do what I can for him Sam.” Mollie said.

“ Johnny made me promise to raise his son.” Scott said.

Johnny walked into the saloon in Prescott, Arizona. Nine months ago he came to the town for a drink, and ended up pinning on a badge thanks to some encouragement from Mike, a good friend from years ago down in Sonora.

“ You want your usual sheriff?” the bartender asked.

“ Yeah, throw me on a steak and spuds would ya Mike?” Johnny asked.

“ Sure thing.” Mike said as he brought him a beer. “ You look tired.”

“ You know, sometimes I want to just kick you in the ass for talking me into putting on this badge.” Johnny said.

Mike couldn’t help but laugh. “ I know what you need to get rid of all that tension. I got a new girl working here. Real sweet little thing named Becky.” Mike said. “ She’ll be coming in soon to start work. Serves drinks, and goes upstairs. She ain’t got a lot of experience, but I figure with time she’ll be a good money maker.” Mike said. “ Let me go throw that steak on for ya.”

“ Thanks.” Johnny said before walking over to sit at the corner table. An hour later he seen Becky come downstairs and walk over to the bar. Wearing a dress that stopped just above her knees. The neckline coming down low to show the top of her breast. Standing up when Becky walked over to him.

“ You must be the sheriff?” she asked. “ ,Mike said you need to get rid of some tension build-up. I think I can help you do that very thing.”

“ Which room is yours?” Johnny asked.

“ Upstairs at the end of the hall.” she said. “ Care to come up I guarantee I’ll pleasure you like no other girl ever has, and get rid of that tension.”

Johnny stood up and smiled at her before following her upstairs to the end of the hall. Walking in the room he turned around when she closed the door and locked it. Looking at her he smiled as his eyes settled on her plump breast all but hanging out of the top of her chemise.

“ Like what you see sheriff?” Becky asked as she walked over to him. “ Can’t get it on if you don’t remove them pants honey.”

Johnny unbuckled his gun belt and hung it on the bed post. “ I like.” he said as he quickly removed his shirt then undid his pants before sitting down in the only chair in the room to remove his boots.

“ Morning sheriff.” Mike said. “ You have yourself a good time last night with Becky?”

“ Girl knows how to pleasure a man.” Johnny said.

“ You ever write that letter you talked about?” Mike asked.

“ What letter?” Johnny asked as he sipped his cup of coffee.

“ To that doctor friend of yours back in Green River, California.” he said.

“ Sam Jenkins….no.” he said.

“ I’ve known you a long time Johnny.” Mike said. “ Hell women throw themselves at ya. There isn’t a woman in this town who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be pocked by you. And that includes the married ones too. Do you love this other gal?”

“ Yeah I do Mike. I can’t stop thinking about her.” Johnny said. “ Last night was the first time I’ve been with a woman since I left.”

“ What are you going to do if you have a kid?” he asked.

“ Nothing. Making a living with a gun, that ain’t no life for a child, and I don’t want my son growing up being like me. It’s better for everyone if I stay out of his life.” Johnny said.

“ Even though you know what it’s like to grow up without a father?” he asked.

“ It’s not the same. I know Scott will raise him up right.” he said. “ I’ll see ya later Mike.” Johnny said before walking out of the saloon.

Sam went through his mail, stopping at a letter postmarked Prescott, Arizona. Opening the letter he breathed a sigh of relief seeing it was from Johnny.

I’m not good at writing letters, but felt you deserved to know I was still alive. I’m sure you know what happened to make me leave Lancer forever. All I can say is I made a mistake, one that cost me dearly. I didn’t go back to the border. For the past year I have been the sheriff of Prescott, Arizona. I stopped here to do some thinking and ended up pinning on a badge. It’s a good town, kinda like Green River. I promise to keep in touch more with you. I do ask that you not tell any of them, Scott included where I am at. You can tell him you heard from me, and that I’m alright, but please, not where I’m at.  If you’re ever in the area stop by and I’ll buy you a cold one.

Your friend always

Johnny Madrid.

Putting the letter down, Sam removed his glasses and wiped away the tears that ran down his cheeks. He knew Johnny needed to know about Amelia passing away after giving birth to his son. He just didn’t know how to write it, or if he even could. He decided he would tell Scott the next time he seen him, and ask him if he should tell Johnny about her death.

Teresa stepped off the stage in Prescott and waited for her valise to be handed down to her. Snow started falling and the wind picked up.

“ Here, let me get that for you young lady.” a man said as he reached up and took her valise from the driver.

“ Thank you.” Teresa said as he handed her the bag.

“ Hotel St. Michael is a nice place if you’re staying over. Rooms are nice and warm in the winter.” the deputy said.

“ Hotel St. Michael, thank you.” she said. “ Can you tell me…… Johnny Madrid still the sheriff here?”

“ Yes ma’am he is. He’s the best thing to happen to Prescott too. But don’t tell him I told ya so……Names Keith Jackson, I’m Johnny’s deputy.” he said. “ You have business with the sheriff miss?”

“ I’m an old acquaintance of Johnny’s.” she said.

“ Well he’s gone right now, but I expect he’ll be back late tonight unless this storm slows him down. He gets a might testy riding that horse of his in bad weather.” the deputy said.

“ Barranca?” Teresa said.

 “ Yeah, I guess you do know Johnny. Not that I was implying you were lying to me.” he said. “The best time to catch him is at the Palace saloon in the mornings around seven. He likes to eat breakfast there and talk with Mike, the bartender. They go way back on friendship.” Keith said. “ Well I better let you get checked into the hotel so you can get out of this storm. Looks like we’re going to get some snow tonight. Maybe I’ll see you again miss.”

“ Thank you Deputy Jackson. I appreciate your kindness.” Teresa said before heading to the hotel.

“ See he gets extra oats and hay Stan. He earned it.” Johnny said as he pulled his rifle from the scabbard.

“ You bet. I got a nice hot fire going in my office if you want to go in and warm up some before you tread down to the jail.” Stan said.

“ All I want right now is some sleep Stan. Thanks anyway.” Johnny said before walking out.

“ Sheriff, you look half froze.” Keith said. “ Fresh pot of coffee on the stove.”

“ Thanks. How’s it been here?” Johnny asked as he put his rifle on the rack.

“ Quiet. I think people are staying inside with this storm.” Keith said. “ There was a new arrival this afternoon. A young lady looking for you came in on the stage. Right pretty lady too.”

Johnny looked at him a few seconds before  walking over to his desk and sitting down. “ What did she look like?”

“ About your height, long dark, somewhat curly hair, the prettiest brown eyes I’ve seen in a long time, and a smile that could brighten the gloomiest day. One fine figure of a woman too.” he responded. “ You know her?”

“ I know a lot of women that fit that description.” Johnny said. “ Go on home, I’ll see you in the morning.”

“ Okay. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Keith said as he put his coat on.

“ Oh, the pass is closed due to the snow. I barely got thru. The drifts are getting so deep wagons and the stage won’t be able to get thru.” Johnny said as he stood up and followed Keith over to the door.

“ Snowed in, that should make for some quiet time.” Keith said.


Chapter 7

“ Scott!” Sam called as he crossed the street. “ I need a word with you.”

“ Sam, I was going to stop by before I left.” he said. “ Is something wrong?”

“ No…..I got a letter from Johnny the other day.” Sam said.

“ Johnny….is he alright?” he asked.

“ He’s fine. He asked me to not say where he’s at, but to tell you he’s fine.” Sam said.

“ Sam please. Where is he?”

“ I’m sorry Scott, but I can’t break his trust in me. I need to ask you  a serious question. One that has been weighing heavy on my mind.”

“ On whether or not to tell him Amelia died?” he asked.

“ Yes. I don’t know what it will do to him.” Sam said.

“ Tell him me and Mollie are raising his son like he wanted and leave it at that.” Scott said.

“ If you would like, you can write him a letter and I will mail it to him. I just ask that you not let Murdoch know.” Sam suggested.

“ I have nothing to say to my brother Sam.” he said. “ I need to get back.”

“ Alright. Again I’m sorry I can’t say where he’s at Scott.” Sam said as Scott mounted up.

“ You’ve always been a good friend to Johnny doc. I wouldn’t want you to jeopardize that. I’ll see you.” Scott said before riding away.

Johnny walked into the St. Michael’s hotel and glanced at the register book.

“ Something I can help you with sheriff?”  the hotel clerk asked.

“ You had a young lady check in yesterday afternoon. I’d like to know what room she’s in.”

“ Twenty three.” he said.

Johnny stopped outside room twenty three and knocked. When the door opened his breath caught when he seen Teresa standing there.

“ Johnny.” she said softly.

Johnny stepped inside, closed the door, grabbed her, and pulled her to him. “ I couldn’t stop thinking about you Querida. I missed you so much.” he said before kissing her.

“ Oh Johnny, I’ve been searching for you ever since you left.” she said.

“ Murdoch know you’re here?” he asked.

“ No, he kicked me out right after you left. I been making what money I can making dresses for people in Barstow. That’s where I was when I learned you were the sheriff here.” she said. “ Your deputy told me you were gone when I arrived yesterday afternoon just as the storm started.”

“ Keith is a good deputy.” he said as he removed his coat and gun belt, then walked back over to her.

“ Johnny……I…”

Johnny started unbuttoning her dress.

Teresa closed her eyes as she stood there unable to move. She knew tonight would be two bodies becoming one like they did over a year ago. “ You realize our first time together it was storming?”

“ It’s going to be storming in here shortly.” Johnny said as he picked her up and carried her to the bed.

For two days Johnny stayed with Teresa in bed sleeping, and making love as the storm raged outside. Waking up the third day, he could see the sun shining through the curtains. Rolling over he rose above Teresa and climbed between her legs. “ Time to wake up. “ he said as she opened her eyes and smiled.

Reaching down, she took him in her hand and guided him to her as she wrapped her legs around his waist tightly.

“ I don’t know about you, but I am starved.” Johnny said an hour later as they got dressed.

“ Were does this leave us?” she asked.

“ What do you mean?” he asked as he strapped on his gun.

“ Are we a couple now?”  she asked.

“ I don’t know.” he said as he walked to the door.

“ Agatha, I didn’t know you were back.” Murdoch said.

“ I got back yesterday.” Agatha said. “ Are you still looking for Johnny?”

“ Have you seen him?” he asked.

“ Why yes I have. He’s the sheriff of Prescott, Arizona. I was boarding the stage when I seen him come out of the hotel with Teresa.”

“ Teresa……..I should have known they would.”

“ How long are you going to have this hatred you have Murdoch?” Agatha asked. “ Hasn’t Johnny taught you anything when he was here?”

“ He taught me plenty. He taught me you can never change a person of his nature.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ Murdoch Lancer, you are so blind.” she said. “ I have to go.”

“ Young lady, I’ve known Johnny a long time. He told me what happened to make him leave California.” Mike said. “ What I’m wondering is what are your intentions with him? The only reason I ask is because he is so much in love with you, everybody in town can see that.”

“ You’re a good friend Mike. Johnny is lucky to have you.” Teresa said. “ I asked him if we were a couple and he said he didn’t know. I know he’s been with a woman here named Becky. He’s spoke her name in his sleep. I think that’s all I am to him too.”

“ Why you say that?” he asked.

“ Because of what happened in California.” she said. “ He was married and he cheated on her with me. He won’t commit to just one person Mike.”

“ I see your point, but ask yourself this, which is better, having him even though you have to share him, or not having him at all?”” Mike asked as Johnny walked into the cafe.

“ You trying to steal my woman?” Johnny asked as he sat down.

“ In a heartbeat amigo.” Mike said. “ Having her company for lunch is better than those gals at the saloon.”

“ I don’t own her. I was in the Gardner store a little bit ago talking to Mrs Gardner, I told her how you are good at making dresses. She wants to talk to you about working for her.” Johnny said. “ She said she’s having more and more orders to be shipped all over, and if you’re any good, she could use you.”

Teresa couldn’t believe what she heard him say. Looking at Mike with hurt in her eyes. “ I’m perfectly capable of finding a job myself.”

“ I didn’t go in there with the intention of talking about you. It just came up. She’s a really nice lady.” he said.

“  Hello Johnny.” Sarah Ehle said. “ You been out of town or something? I haven’t seen you in almost a week.”

“ Been busy Sarah.” Johnny responded. “ Let me have whatever the special is today.”

“ Sure thing.” she said.

“ How’s your brother doing?” he asked.

“ Making pa angry at him. Seems he’s going to the Palace saloon drinking and spending time with a woman who works there.” she said.  “ I have Saturday night off.”

“ I’m working Saturday  night, but maybe I’ll stop by.” Johnny said.

“ I have to be the biggest fool in this town.” Teresa said as they walked back to the hotel.

“ Why?” he asked.

“ Because you practically told her you would be with her Saturday night. I’m not stupid Johnny. I know you’re sleeping with other women in town.” Teresa said.

Johnny unlocked the door and opened it. “ Don’t worry yourself with who I sleep with. We’re not married.” he said. “ You can either accept it, or not. I don’t really care.”

Murdoch walked in the house and went straight to the sideboard, pouring himself a stiff shot of scotch.

“ Something wrong sir?” Scott asked.

“ He’s in Prescott.” Murdoch blurted out.

“ Who’s in Prescott?” he asked.

“ That half-breed bastard and that whore Teresa. Agatha seen them together when she was leaving on the stage. It would seem he’s the sheriff of Prescott, and has been for some time.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ How dare you!…… dare you call Johnny a bastard!” Scott said with anger.

“ Because he is……I got his whore mother pregnant and then married her. I don’t for the life of me know why I even bothered looking all those years for that sonofabitch. He has cost me a fortune.” Murdoch said as he poured another shot and downed it.

“ What is going on in here?” Mollie asked. “ I just put Michael down for his morning nap. You two bellowing is going to wake him up.”

“ I’m thru with you sir. I won’t stay in the same house with a man who would speak so ugly about his own flesh and blood….. Mollie, go upstairs and pack.” Scott said. “ Johnny has been dealt wrongdoing his whole life, and it’s all because of you. If you hadn’t let lust win you over so soon after my mothers death.”

“ Don’t you dare stand there and judge me. Go on back to your grandfather. I don’t need you, her, or that damn baby in this house.” Murdoch said.

“ Maybe you should ask yourself who the real bastard in this house is.” Scott said before heading upstairs to pack.

“ You’ve had enough.” Mike said.

“ Just give me another beer. I’ll decide when I’ve had enough.” John  Henry ordered.

“ Get out.” Mike ordered.

“ I said give me another beer.” he ordered.

Johnny grabbed John Henry’s pistol causing him to spin around.“ Mike said you’ve had enough. Go home and sleep it off.”

John Henry swung at Johnny and found himself flat on his back on the floor.

“ Get up!” Johnny ordered.

Henry stood up and glared at Johnny. ‘ Give me back my gun.” he ordered.

“ You can pick it up tomorrow when you’re sober.” Johnny said. “ You can walk out on your own two feet, or be dragged out. The choice is yours.”

“ You sonofabitch….You’ll get yours. Both of you.” John Henry spat before leaving.

“ Thanks Johnny.” Mike said.

“ He comes back in send for me. I’ll throw his ass in jail.” Johnny said before turning to leave. Stepping out the door, he turned to his left as a bullet slammed into the back of his right side, knocking him through the glass window of the Palace saloon.

“ I told you you would get yours one day.” John Henry said.

Mike ran outside to see John Henry standing next to Johnny just before a bullet slammed into his chest.

“ Somebody get Doc Warren!” a man yelled.

“ What happened?’ Keith asked as he ran over.

“ John Henry ambushed him when he walked out of the saloon, and then shot Mike dead before stealing a horse and leaving.

“ Johnny is still alive.” Joe said.

“ Those cuts on his left arm and chest are deep.” Skip said.

“ Take him inside.” Keith ordered.

“ Look out, let me in there.” the doctor ordered.  “ A couple of you men pick him up carefully and carry him upstairs.” doc ordered.

“ Put him in the first room on the left.” Becky said. “ What are you going to need doc?”

“ Hot water and plenty of clean bandages.” he said.

“ I’ll tear up white sheets.” Becky said before heading upstairs.

“ Keith……Mike is dead.” Joe said.

“ Did anybody see which way that little bastard ran?” Keith asked as Johnny was carefully carried upstairs.

“ He stole a horse and headed east out of town.

“  Joe, Skip…I’m deputizing you two too help me find that sonofabitch.” Keith said.

Scott secured the last of the baggage then took the baby so Mollie could get in. Handing Michael up to her, he climbed in, looked at his father standing on the portico before slapping rein and leaving.

“ Can I ask where we are going?” Mollie asked.

“ Prescott, but first I want to stop and talk to Mrs. Conway.” Scott said.

“ I don’t want to lose Michael.” she said. “ I’ve been his mother since he was born. I won’t give him up.”

“ I’m not asking you too. The reason I’m going to see Agatha is to ask her if you can stay with her while I go to Prescott. A journey that far would be too hard on Michael at such a young age.” he said.

“ What happened?” she asked.

Scott took a deep breath before telling Mollie what his father said. Both remaining quiet for several minutes when he finished.

“ I can’t believe he would say something so horrible about his own son.” she said. “Would he still be angry if Johnny was here and got with Teresa after Amelia died?”

“ To be truthful, I don’t know any more. I think he’s so angry with himself for what he did to Johnny….what he said….but mostly afraid and angry.” Scott said.

“ Angry and afraid?”

“ Afraid Johnny had gone back to the border, and angry because he didn’t. He’s a lawman, and has been for a couple years.” Scott said.

“ That shouldn’t make him angry. He should be glad Johnny didn’t.” she said as Scott stopped the buggy and climbed down.

“ Scott Lancer….oh you brought the baby.” Aggie said as she came down the steps.

“ Mrs. Conway……I have a favor I need to ask you.” Scott said as he took the baby from Mollie and handed him to Aggie.

“Say no more.  I’ve been waiting for you two too come here. You can stay as long as you need too.” Aggie said.

“ It’s just while I go to Prescott to see Johnny.” Scott said.

“ Well let’s get you inside.” Agatha said.

Teresa hurried upstairs and stopped when she seen all the blood covering Johnny’s right arm and chest.

“ Wait downstairs.” the doctor ordered.

“ Let me help you. I’ve helped remove bullets from him before.” she said.

“ Fine. You can start by cleaning up that left arm, and removing the glass. Those cuts are deep and will need stitches. Can you do that?’ he asked.

“ I can. I’m very good with a needle and thread.” she said as she started gently cleaning the long deep cut on his upper right arm. “ What happened?”

“ From what I was told, he was ambushed by John Henry  when he came out of the saloon, and then shot and killed Mike.” Doc Warren said.

“ Why?” she asked.

“ He was drunk, and Johnny ordered him out of the saloon. He took his gun from him, but I guess he had another one. There’s forceps in the bag you can use to pull out the glass. Move that lantern over closer. It will reflect off the glass helping you find it easier.” he said.

“ What in the world is going on?” Margaret Ehle demanded as Keith, Joe and Skip entered the lobby with guns drawn.

“ Where’s your son John Henry?” Keith asked.

“ I haven’t seen him all evening.” she said.

“ Check the Palace saloon. You’ll probably find him there getting drunk as usual.” Joseph Ehle said. “ Damn kids worthless.”

“ What’s he done  now Keith?” Mrs. Ehle asked.

“ Shot and killed Mike, and ambushed the sheriff when he came out of the saloon.” the deputy said.  “ We are going to search every room in this hotel. I want the little sonofabitch alive.”

“ He’s not here deputy.” Margaret said.

“ You can either tell us where he’s at, or we will tear this hotel apart looking for him.” Mike said with anger.

“ I told you, we haven’t seen him.” Margaret said.

Teresa finished stitching up the deep cut on Johnny’s chest from the glass.. “  Will he live?” she asked.

“ He’ll live. The bullet passed clean thru. He’s gonna have to remain still for some time while those cuts heal up though.” the doctor said.

“ I’ll stay with him until he can be moved from here.” Teresa said.

“ He can be moved in the morning.” he said.

“ Nobody will bother him Teresa.” Becky said. “ You have my word on that.”

Teresa looked at Becky. “ I don’t want him staying here. I know he’s sleeping with you. Johnny is my man. Stay away from him!” she ordered.

“ Becky, maybe you should leave.” the doctor suggested.

“ Let me tell you something Missy, you’re not married to Johnny, and he’s been coming here to poke me for a long time. So unless he says otherwise, you don’t tell me to stay away from him.” Becky said firmly.

“ Enough….Becky get out……..Now!” doc ordered.

Scott stepped off the stage in Prescott and walked over to the jail. Opening the door he walked inside. “ Deputy, my name is Scott Lancer. I’m looking for my brother Johnny.”

Keith stood up and walked over to him. “ I’ve heard tell of you. I’ll take you too him.”

Scott followed Keith out the door and across the street to the St. Michael hotel.  “ It’s alright Joe.”  Keith said. “ Wait here.”

“ Scott got  a sick feeling in his gut. There would be only one reason an armed guard would be waiting outside a hotel room door.

“ Scott?” Teresa said as she came out of the room and closed the door. “ What are you doing here?”

“ Teresa, what’s going on?  Where’s Johnny?” he asked.

“ He was ambushed two weeks ago by a man he threw out of the saloon.” she said. “ Come in, I’ll let him know you are here.”

“ How bad is he?” Scott asked as he walked into the room.

“ He was shot in his right side, and has cuts on his chest, and arm from the glass.” she said.

“ I’ve had worse.” Johnny said from across the room.

“ You just can’t seem to stay out of trouble can you little brother?’ Scott asked as he walked over to him.

“ You know me, I don’t have to look for trouble, trouble always manages to find me.” Johnny said. “ It’s good to see you Boston.”

“ And you. It’s been too long. I missed hearing you call me that.” Scott said.

“ It’s alright Keith, you can leave us.” Johnny said as he slowly walked over and sat down in a chair.

Scott watched his brother move and could tell he was in pain. His chest and upper left arm were bound up in bandages.

“  Why’d you come here Scott?”

“ You look like hell brother.” Scott said as he walked over and sat down.

“ I’ve had worse. So why you here?” he said and asked again. “ Sam tell you where I was?’

“ No. It would seem Agatha Conway seen you and Teresa last month.” Scott said. “ I’m a little confused as to you have yet to ask about the baby.”

“  Sam told me she died giving birth to a boy.” Johnny said.

Scott stood up. “ Why the hell didn’t you let me know where you were?” he asked with anger.

“ My life ended that day I left.” Johnny said. ‘ I wanted to write to you. I didn’t because I didn’t want him finding out and you suffering his wraith.”

“ He found out from Agatha.” Scott said.

“ I bet he exploded finding out I didn’t go back to Mexico?” Johnny asked.

“ You could say that. We left that day. Mollie is staying at the Conway ranch with Michael.”

“ Michael?”

“ That’s the name we gave him. He looks like you except for his eyes. He has her eyes.” he said. “ Did they catch the man who shot you?”

“ No, but I will. When I’m well enough to ride I’m going after him.” Johnny said.

“ Who’s going with you?” he asked.

“ Nobody.” he said.

“ I’m going with you.” Scott said firmly.

“ No. You have a wife and baby to think about.” Johnny said firmly.

“ I’m going and you’re not stopping me.” Scott responded.

“  I don’t know how long it will take me to find that murdering sonofabitch Scott.” Johnny said firmly.

“ Who’s Mike?”  Scott asked.

“ Mike owned the Palace saloon where Johnny goes to sleep with a whore.” Teresa said.

“ Teresa……that will be enough!” Johnny said with anger. “ Mike didn’t deserve to be shot down like that.” Johnny said.

“  You going after him is foolish. You should let the U.S. Marshal handle it.” she said.

“ Let me tell you something Teresa. I swore an oath to uphold the law when I pinned on this badge. If you can’t accept that……then you can get on the next stage and leave.” Johnny said with anger.

“ And leave you with Becky and all those other whores you like to visit.” Teresa said.

“ That’s enough!” Johnny said.

“ How long until you’ll be well enough to ride?” Scott cut in.

“ The doctor said at least a month.” Teresa said.

“ My wounds are healed up, stitches come out tomorrow.” Johnny said. “ I’ll be leaving in a week.”

“ I’ll be ready. I think I will go get me a room, hot bath, shave, and some sleep.” Scott said as he stood up.

“ Yeah it’s pretty hard to sleep on a stage.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ Are you and Scott planning on having any kids?’ Aggie asked.

“ We’ve been trying.” Mollie said.

“ Well you are doing a wonderful job with this little man.” she said.

“ I can’t help but feel guilty at times.” Mollie said.

“ Guilty…why?”

“ Amelia died giving birth to Michael.”

“ Tragically yes she did, but you and Scott raising him is going to give him the life he deserves.” Aggie said.

“ A part of me is afraid Johnny will come back and take him away from me.” Mollie said as she picked Michael up.

“ It’s been over two years since Johnny left. I don’t think he is coming back.” Agatha said. “ He looked pretty happy when I seen him in Prescott.”

“ The way Murdoch spoke about Johnny, calling him those horrible names…I hope he doesn’t come back here.” she said.

“ Murdoch Lancer is my oldest friend. Knowing how hurt he was when he was searching for Johnny makes it difficult to understand what could make him lash out like he did.”

“ I don’t condone what happened between Johnny and Teresa. They both knew it was wrong, but Murdoch lashing out, beating Johnny like he did…….When Johnny pulled his gun, I thought he was going to shoot his father. I believe if Scott hadn’t been there….he would have.” Mollie said. “ I’m going to put Michael down for a nap.”

Johnny walked into the Palace saloon the night before him and Scott were leaving. Seeing Becky at the bar, he walked over to her. “ We need to talk.” he said.

“ Okay.” she said.

“ I know you’ve been with John Henry.” Johnny said.. “ I need to know if he said anything that might give me an idea where he went.”

“ He didn’t talk much when he was here.” she said. “ I do remember him talking once when he was drunk about having an uncle in Texas who owned a ranch.”

“ Did he say where this ranch was, or the uncle’s name?” Johnny asked.

“ No.” she said.

“ Thanks. I’ll see you.” Johnny said before walking out.

Ten minutes later Johnny walked into the Montezuma hotel and grabbed Joseph Ehle by his coat. “ You lying sonofabitch. You lied about knowing were John Henry went. I want the name of your brother, and where his ranch is at in Texas.”

“ You go to hell Madrid. I’m not telling you anything.” Joseph spat as Keith, and Scott walked into the lobby.

“ What’s going on?” Keith asked.

Johnny pulled his colt and cocked it. “ Tell me the name now or so help me….your wife will be a widow.”

“ Doug….my brother’s name is Doug.” Joseph spat.

“ Where?”

“ San Angelo…….he has a ranch there called the Circle E.”

Johnny shoved Joseph back against the counter. “ You’re under arrest for lying to me and withholding evidence in a murder investigation. Keith, take this piece of shit to the jail and lock him up.”

“ You bet.” Keith said as he took Joseph by his coat and shoved him out the door.

“ Johnny, why won’t you marry me?” Teresa asked as Johnny packed his saddlebags that night.

“ I told you before Teresa. I’ll never marry again.” he said.

“ So I’m nothing more than a whore to you?” she asked.

Johnny looked at her. “ You became a whore the day you let me take your innocence.”

“ You bastard….You used me then, and you’ve been using me ever since I came here.” she spat.

“ What did you expect? Did you really think I would marry you? I never asked you to come here.” he said. “ You could have left at any time. Still can.”

“ Murdoch was right……you are a half-breed sonofabitch!” Teresa spat as she slapped him hard across the face.

Johnny backhanded her hard across the face, knocking her onto the bed. Glaring down at her. “ I gave you what you wanted bitch. You ruined my life back then………You cost me my marriage, my son, my home…….everything.” he said with anger. “ You were just a way of release for me and nothing more. You’ve never meant anything to me!” he spat before grabbing his saddlebags, rifle, coat and leaving the room.

“  So if this kid is going to his uncle in Texas…which way do you think he will go?” Scott asked.

“ He’ll head south toward the border.” he said. “ This kid likes whores and drinking. He’s not gonna want to go without either one for very long.”

“ What if he doesn’t go to his uncles ranch?” Scott asked four days later as they made camp for the night along the Verde river.

“ Then I’ll keep looking for him until I find him.” Johnny said.

“ Even if he goes into Mexico?” Scott asked.

“ I told you, I’m not letting him get away.” Johnny said with anger. “ That sonofabitch ambushed me, and murdered my good friend. I’m not stopping until he’s………”

“ Until he’s what?” he asked.

“ Until he’s dealt justice.” Johnny snapped back. “ You can go home any time brother.”

Scott remained silent until they were eating supper.

“ I know it’s none of my business, but I’m going to ask you anyway.” Scott said. “ Why you treating Teresa the way you are?”

“ Look…when she showed up in Prescott…I told her I wasn’t going to be tied down by one woman ever again.” he said. “ I know I was wrong in what I did that night………but that bitch took everything from me……and she used her body to do it.”

“ Temptation can be hard to ignore.” Scott said. “ So what is she to you now?”

“ A whore and nothing more.” Johnny said as he poured a cup of coffee. “ That night when she decided to bare all to me and begged me to take her………she became a whore.”

“ A bit harsh aren’t you?” Scott asked. “ I mean this is a girl we both thought of as a sister.”

“ You weren’t there when she started acting different toward me. Brushing against me whenever Murdoch wasn’t around, touching my arm in a seductive way.” Johnny said.

“ No I wasn’t, but I wish I had been.” Scott said. “ Maybe I could have talked you out of it.”

“ Trust me Scott…..when I walked into that cabin and found her standing there totally naked with just a blanket wrapped around her, you wouldn’t be able to refuse her either. She was very persuasive and seductive.” Johnny said. “ I kept telling her I was married and it couldn’t happen. I couldn’t do what she wanted. She said nobody needed to know because it was just the two of us there. She then proceeded to start touching me. It was like she became a totally different person.”

“  I get the picture.” Scott said.

“ Good…because I don’t want to talk about it again.” Johnny said as he laid down on his bedroll.

“ How’s your wounds feeling?” Scott asked.

“ I’m fine. I’ll see you in the morning.” Johnny said before covering his face with his hat.

To: Chapter 7- Research Notes



Chapter 8

John Henry rode into Tucson, dismounting at the White Dove saloon, and walking inside. Figuring nobody would know who he was, or what he did, he walked up to the bar and ordered a whiskey and beer.

“ You have an upstairs for girls?” he asked as he paid for his drinks.

“ If you’re wanting female company, I have a girl who will please you.” the bartender said.

“ John Henry Ehle…..I’m sheriff Ed Drew, you’re under arrest.” a voice said from behind him.

John Henry looked in the mirror behind the bar at a man standing just inside the bat-winged doors holding a short-barreled scatter gun cradled in his arms.

“ What the hell am I under arrest for sheriff? I just stopped for some female company and a couple drinks.” he said as his right hand slowly went down to his pistol.

“ You’re under arrest for murder and attempted murder.” the sheriff said as he took a couple steps closer.

John Henry slowly pulled his pistol, turned and cocked it. “ I don’t think so sheriff.” he said before pulling the trigger.

“ What are you doing here Harlan?” Murdoch demanded.

“ I want to see my grandson.” Harlan responded.

“ He’s not here.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ When do you expect him back?” Harlan asked.

“ He’s not coming back…….Now get the hell off my land.” Murdoch said before going back inside.

Harlan sat in the buggy stunned at the words Murdoch said. Climbing down he went inside the house to demand answers.

“ You have a lot of nerve stepping foot in this house……..Get out….Now!” Murdoch ordered.

“ Not until I get answers.” Harlan snapped back. “ Where is my Scotty?”

“ I told you he’s gone…….He’s gone and he’s not coming back!” Murdoch yelled.

“ What did you do to make him leave here?” Harlan demanded.

“ I didn’t do anything…….Now get the hell out of my house!” Murdoch ordered.

“ If you didn’t….then it must have been that half-breed bastard son of yours. That killer.” Harlan spat. “ Hear me when I say this Murdoch Lancer…….I won’t rest until that…..devil you spawned is dead.”

“ You want to kill that sonofabitch….then go to Prescott.” Murdoch said before walking out of the room.

Harlan smiled. “ I aim to do just that.” he said before leaving.

“ Looks like we are about to have some company.” Scott said.

“ I seen him.” Johnny ordered.

“ A long way from Prescott.” the man said.

“ And you’re a long way from El Paso.” Johnny said. “ How you doing Jeff?”

“ I’ve been better.” he said as he sat down. “ Dallas Stoudenmire, United States Marshal.”

“ Scott Lancer.” Scott said. “ You’re the man who sent our father the letter telling about Martin Faver in El Paso.”

“ I am.” he said. “ I didn’t expect to see you in Tucson. You tracking John Henry Ehle?”

“ How do you know about that?” Johnny asked.

“ Newspaper article I read last month.” he said.

“ I have a feeling I know where he’s headed, and when I catch him……..”

“ When we catch him, he’s going to be taken back to stand trial for the murder of Mike, and attempted murder of Johnny, marshal.” Scott cut in and said.

Johnny glared at his brother. “ That why you’re here?”

“ No. How’d you end up being a lawman in Prescott?” Dallas asked. “ Jasper said you went back home to California.”

“ Long story. When did you see Jasper?” he asked.

“ Last year. He’s settled in as the law in San Angelo now. Gave up being a marshal after his ordeal with you.” Dallas explained. “ Got him a wife and kid on the way last time I seen him two months ago.”

“ I have reason to believe John Henry is headed to the Circle E ranch in San Angelo. Jasper being the law there will help me in arresting that murdering sonofabitch.” Johnny said.

“ Why there?” the marshal asked.

“ It’s his uncle’s ranch.” Johnny said.

“ Paper said you damned near died. That he ambushed you when you came out of the saloon.” he said. “ How’s your wounds doing?”

“ I’ve had worse.” Johnny said.

“ You know John Henry gunned down Sheriff Ed Drew when he was here a couple weeks ago?” the marshal said.

“ Seems he’s developed a taste for killing.” Scott said.

“  You the marshal taking that prisoner in Phoenix to Yuma prison?” Johnny asked.

“ I am. How did you know about that?” he asked.

“ Stopped there to see if John Henry had been seen. Sheriff there is nervous having him in his jail.” Johnny responded.

“ Barney K. Riggs, sentenced to life for killing a man involved with his wife.” the marshal said.

“ Guess you’re lucky Amelia didn’t kill you.” Scott said.

“ Who’s Amelia?” Dallas asked as he looked from Scott to Johnny, back to Scott.

“ Nobody.” Johnny said as he gave his brother a deadly look.

“ His wife.” Scott said. “ The dead mother of the son you refuse to acknowledge.”

“ You got married and have a kid?” the marshal asked.

“ You have a big mouth Scott.” Johnny said with irritation as he stood up, threw his napkin down and left.

“ I see he still has a temper.” Dallas said.

“ My brother has changed in a way I don’t rightly like marshal.” Scott said.

“ You thinking he’s going to kill John Henry when he catches him?” he asked.

“ A part of me does. Mike was a friend of his from years ago when he first became Madrid.”

“ I don’t know how long you have been friends with Johnny, but I can tell you he’s not a cold-blooded killer Scott. He may be angry about his friend being gunned down, but he’s not going to cross that line.” the marshal said.

“ Johnny is my little brother.” Scott said. “ We’ve only known each other since seventy two.”

“ He’s a quiet person, especially about his past. I might suggest you stay away from him tonight. The look he gave you I’ve seen before.” the marshal suggested as he stood up. “ It’s been good meeting you…..Just remember, don’t crowd him.”

Johnny walked into the saloon ordered a bottle of tequila and walked over to sit down at a corner table with his back to the wall. Downing several shots before one of the girls walked over to his table.

“ You want some company sheriff?” she asked.

“ Sit down.” Johnny said as he poured her a shot.

The woman sat down next to Johnny and took the shot, downing it. “ I’m Stephanie.”

Johnny filled her glass and sat back in his chair.

Stephanie downed the second shot and then put her right hand on his left knee, and started running her hand up and down his thigh, going higher each time until Johnny reached down, took her hand in his and put it between his legs. “ Oh my. I think we need to go upstairs and do something about this.”

Scott woke the next morning  and found his brothers bed hadn’t been slept in. Sitting up, he noticed Johnny’s saddlebags and rifle were gone. Getting up, he quickly got dressed, grabbed his gear and headed to the livery. Upon arrival he seen his brothers horse was gone.

“ He left around three. Asked me to give you this.” the man said as he handed him a piece of paper.

Scott opened the paper, hurt at the words he read.

Go home Scott. I don’t want you with me. Go home to your wife and son.

Johnny Madrid

“ You want your horse saddled?” the man asked.

“ I’ll do it.” he said. “ Which way did he go?”

“Southeast toward Mexico. Before he rode out, he said to tell you that if you decide to follow him, he’d shoot you.” the man said. “ The look he had on his face said he was serious.”

Scott led his horse out of the stall, thanked the man before mounting up, and heading east at a hard gallop.

ohnny stopped and dismounted late afternoon. Loosening the cinch he adjusted the saddle and let the horse have a breather. Walking him over to the shade, he tied him to a branch before pulling his canteen, took a small swig, swirled it around in his mouth and spit it out before taking a drink. When finished, he removed his hat and poured some in it to give his horse a drink. Figuring he had three hours of daylight left he decided to ride on to Whitewater river to camp for the night.. Tightening the cinch, he mounted up and started out again at a slower pace.

Scott rode at an easy pace. Knowing his brother had at least a four hour head-start on him, the words the livery man said his brother said angered him more and more as he rode along. His gut told him his brother went straight east, and not southeast to Mexico. He knew the last place his brother ever wanted to go back to would be below the border, or at least he prayed it was. Not familiar with the area, all he could do was keep the sun overhead until afternoon, and the keep it behind him as it started to go down. Stopping his horse on a knoll, he scanned the horizon for any sign of his brother in the distance. Looking around on the ground, Scott smiled when he spotted fresh tracks headed east.

“ Little brother, when I catch up to you, me and you are going to have a serious talk.” he said. “ You’re going to tell me why you are so bitter.”

John Henry rode into Silver City, New Mexico and stopped at the livery, dismounted, and led his horse inside.

“ What can I do for you?” an older man asked.

“  I need a fresh horse.” he said.

“ You got a bill a sale for this one?” the older man asked.

“ I said I need a fresh horse old man…….I said nothing about buying one.” John Henry said as he pulled his gun. “ Now why don’t you go ahead and strip my saddle off this one and put it on that sorrel there.”

“ You’ll hang for stealing that horse mister.” the old man said.

“ Unless you want some lead in you…’ll get busy and do what I said.” he ordered.

The old man removed the saddle, and put it on the sorrel. Tightening the cinch, he put the bridle on the horse and led it out of the stall.

Back in the stall.” John Henry ordered.

“ I won’t say nothing mister.” the old man said as he walked back into the stall and turned just as a knife pierced his chest.

John Henry went into the office and took the money in the drawer. Leading the sorrel outside, he mounted up and rode out of Silver City as the sun sank behind the Burro Mountains.

Scott smelled smoke. Dismounting he led his horse as close as he could to see who the fire belonged too.

“ I could blow your head off right now!” Johnny said from the darkness.

“ If you feel that’s what you want to do……..then do it……….brother!” Scott said.

“ Get on that horse….turn around….and leave!” Johnny ordered.

“ I can’t do that!”  Scott said as he decided to take a chance and walked closer to the fire. “ Come on out of the darkness!”

Johnny fired a shot, hitting the ground at Scott’s feet “ I don’t like repeating myself!”

“ I’m not leaving Johnny!”  Scott yelled. “ Come out and face me! Or is big bad Johnny Madrid a coward?”

Johnny stepped out of the darkness, and walked up to his brother. “ I’ve been in situations you  can’t begin to imagine……I’ve seen things that would make you sick and give you nightmares…..So don’t you ever call me a coward again.”

“ Coffee’s hot.” Scott said as his brother got up. “ I was beginning to think you were going to sleep all morning.”

“ Go to hell.” Johnny said as he walked over to the fire to warm his hands.

Scott poured a cup of coffee and handed it to him.“ I don’t understand you anymore. Ever since you slept with Teresa, you’ve changed. Why are you so bitter?”

“ Why…..You stand there and asked me why? Take your pick.” Johnny snapped back. “ I betrayed my marriage, lost my wife. My son is being raised by you and Mollie. That sonofabitch threw me out after everything I’ve done for that ranch and him. Tell me I shouldn’t be bitter.”

“ I’m not saying you shouldn’t be bitter Johnny.” Scott said. “ You weren’t there the day me and Mollie left. You didn’t hear what our father…..”

“ Don’t……That man means nothing to me anymore.” Johnny cut in. “ Don’t call him my father….He’s never been a father to either of us!”

“ You’re right, he hasn’t. You’re the one who has suffered the most because of him.” Scott said.

“ Untie me.” Johnny said.

“ I’ll untie you only if you promise me you won’t leave without me again….That we work together from now on….as brothers. Can you promise me that?” Scott said and asked.

Johnny looked at him a few seconds. “ You know….you really are a pain in the ass.”  he said. “ Alright big brother….I promise.”

“ One more thing. We take John Henry back to Prescott to stand trial.” he said.

“ He won’t go back. He’ll fight me on being extradited back.” Johnny said. “ But I’m going to do everything I can to get him back there because I want to see that murdering sonofabitch swinging from a rope.”

Madrid tracking killer to San Angelo, Texas. Stop. Awaiting further instructions. Stop.

Harlan wrote out his reply and handed it to the telegrapher. “ Send this.”

“ Will you be expecting a reply?” the man asked.

“ No.” Harlan said before heading back to his room. “ I’ll make you pay for leaving me, Scotty. This time I won’t fail in taking that half-breed away from you. This time he will be killed, and you can read about it in the paper.”

“ So where we stopping to get grub?” Scott asked.

“ El Paso.” Johnny said.

“ Wait a minute…El Paso. Isn’t that risky given Martin Faver is there?” he asked.

Johnny stopped his horse and dismounted. Removing his canteen to take a drink. “ I have no business with Faver. The horses need a rest. We could both use a bath, and a bed to sleep in for the night. I want to talk to Marshal Stoudenmire and find out if he’s been there.”

“ The last time we got a room with a bed to sleep in, I was the only one to sleep in that room.” Scott said.

“ I slept in a room, in a bed, just not that room or bed.” Johnny said. “ Besides, I have no interest in being with a woman tonight.”

“ Tonight, we’re that close to El Paso?” he asked.

“ Be there in about an hour.” Johnny said.

Murdoch walked out of the bank in Green River and stepped down to his horse. Looking across the street, he watched as Agatha and Mollie climbed out of a buggy. Having not seen his grandson for several months, he walked over to them.

“ Murdoch.” Agatha said.

“ Aggie, Mollie.” he said as he looked at the small boy sitting in the buggy.

“ What do you want, Murdoch?” Aggie asked as Mollie took Michael down.

“ I was hoping I could see my grandson.” he said.

“ You made it clear how you felt. You have hatred inside you for your own flesh and blood, Murdoch Lancer. It’s not Johnny’s fault.” Mollie said. “ I don’t want Michael around a man with so much hatred inside him.”

“  You’re the last person I expected to see in El Paso.” Marshal Stoudenmire said  as he shook Johnny’s hand.

“ Yeah. I’m tracking a killer named John Henry.” Johnny said. “ He murdered Mike, and the sheriff of Tucson when he tried to arrest him.”

“ Yeah, I read it in the paper.” Dallas said. “ What makes you think he’s headed to Texas?”

“ He has an uncle who has a ranch in San Angelo.” he responded.

“ Circle E ranch on the north end of town. Spread is ten thousand acres.” Dallas said. “ I don’t see his uncle letting him stay there if he’s wanted for murder.”

“ His uncle is the only relative he has to go too.” Johnny said.

“ Let me ask you something.” Dallas said. “ If he’s not there, what are you going to do?”

“ Like I told my brother, I won’t stop until I find him.” he said.

“ Most run to Mexico. Are you going to chase him if he goes below the border?” the marshal asked.

“  He killed Mike, ambushed me, and gunned down that sheriff in Tucson, Dallas. I’m not stopping until I find him or I know he’s dead.” Johnny said firmly.

“ You said your brother. Is he riding with you?” he asked.

“ Yeah, he’s a real pain in the ass too.” Johnny said as he walked to the door. “ He’s getting us a room for the night. How about supper later?”

“ I can do that, say around eight?” he asked. “ That Globe restaurant down the street, across from the hotel serves real good food.”

“ I’ll see ya at eight.” Johnny said as they walked outside.

“ Damn it!” Dallas said as he watched Martin Faver ride into town, see Johnny, and ride over to them.

“ What are you doing here Madrid?” Martin asked.

“ I’d appreciate it if your man there would take his hand away from his gun.” Dallas said.

“ I’m just protecting my employer.” the man said as he brought his hand up to rest on his pommel. “ You’d be Johnny Madrid?”

“ I see you’re wearing a badge now.” Martin cut in. “ Still don’t change the fact that you killed my only son.”

“ Mister Faver……I killed your son yes……he was drunk and beating the saloon owner to death.” Johnny said. “ Numerous witnesses said what happened. Your son went for his gun and gave me no choice.”

“  I’ve done nothing but think about it. You killed my son, but I couldn’t fault you for his being stupid.” Martin said.

“ When did you come to this conclusion?” Johnny asked.

“ A year after my boy…..I talked to the saloon owner, and he told me what happened.”

“ Then why did you send a marshal to arrest me?” he asked.

“ I didn’t send no marshal to arrest you. Dallas asked me about it and I’ll tell you what I told him then. I didn’t hire anyone to hunt you down.” Martin said. “ What’s done is done.”

“ They say you’re supposed to be deadly, the fastest and best. You don’t look like much to me.” the man said.

“ Opinions vary.” Johnny said.

“ Leave it be.” Martin ordered.

Johnny watched the man next to Martin closely. Years of experience told him the man was a gunfighter. “ Who’s the man with Martin?” he asked as he watched them ride away.

“ Milton J. Yardberry, a gunfighter wanting to build a reputation.” Dallas said.

“ I know the type. I’ve had my share of them.” Johnny said. “ I’ll see you at eight.”

“ Johnny, he’s fast. I’ve seen him in action. He’s faster than you.” Dallas said. “ Watch yourself.”

“ Just here for the night. I’ll be gone before sunup.” Johnny said before walking away.

John Henry rode up to the house at the Circle E ranch outside San Angelo. Dismounting as his uncle came out of the house.

“ Uncle Doug.” he said.

“ What are you doing here?” Doug asked.

“ You always said I was welcome, so I thought I would come and try ranching for a while.” John Henry said.

“ Not here you won’t be.” Doug said. “ I had a marshal come here. He said you shot and killed the bartender in Prescott, just because he refused to serve you anymore.”

“ Uncle Doug……I..I was drunk. I didn’t mean to kill him.”

“ You didn’t mean to kill him. Let me ask you this, did you not mean to kill him after you ambushed the sheriff when he came out of the saloon shortly after he took your gun from you, and you shot him in the back………then shot the bartender down when he came out of the saloon?” Doug demanded. “ Is that when you didn’t mean too?”

“ That sheriff humiliated me uncle Doug!” he said.

“ He humiliated you…..You little bastard.” Doug said. “ You expect me to allow your sorry ass to stay here……….You may be my nephew, but that don’t mean I have to. You have the deadliest gunfighter ever hunting your sorry ass. Madrid won’t stop until he finds you. The smartest thing you can do is go turn yourself in to the marshal in town.”

“ You won’t help me at all?” John Henry asked.

Doug swung and hit his nephew hard in the mouth, knocking him down. “ Get the hell off my land…….now!”

John Henry got up and wiped the blood running down his chin. Grabbing his reins he mounted up. “ I’m not swinging from no rope.” he said before riding away.

“ Johnny. You look a lot better.” Dallas said.

“ I feel a lot better. “ Johnny said as he sat down. “ Dallas Stoudenmire, this is my big brother Scott.”

“ Scott, it’s good to meet you.” Dallas said as they shook hands.

“ Marshal. I feel I already know you.” Scott said. “ The letter you sent….I would like to thank you for that.”

“ Letter………Oh you mean……….Forget it. That was nothing.” Dallas said. “ You being the big brother, you have your hands full keeping this one out of trouble.”

“ Just because you wear that marshal’s badge don’t mean I can’t kick your butt.” Johnny said.

“  You could try.” the marshal said with a smile. “ I’ve been thinking about what Martin Faver said. You know, about not hiring Jasper to come after you?”

“ Yeah, so have I, and I think he’s lying.” Johnny said.

“ When did you see him?” Scott asked.

“  This afternoon when he rode into town. Jasper has been known to hire out as a bounty hunter.” Johnny said.

“ If Martin didn’t hire him……then who did?” Dallas asked.

“ Jasper said I as tried and found guilty of murdering Jake Faver. I never stood trial.” Johnny said.

“ Yeah, Marshal Campbell told me what happened. Said it happened right in front of him and Constable Krempkau.”  Dallas said.

“ But again, who hired Jasper?” Johnny said.

“ I think the main question here little brother is, who would stand to profit from you being dead?” Scott asked. “ Of the time you spent below the border, is there anyone you can think of who would still have a grudge against you that long?”

“ About every Rurale or the Mexican Army.” Johnny said.

“ Johnny Madrid!” a man yelled from outside. “ Johnny Madrid…..come on out and face me half-breed!”

Johnny sighed. “ Guess he wants to better his reputation.” Johnny said as he stood up.

“ Who’s out there Johnny?” Scott asked.

“  Milton J. Yardberry. He works for Martin Faver.” Dallas said. “ He was with him this afternoon.”

“ Can he beat you?” Scott asked as he stood up.

“ There’s a chance.” Johnny said as he stood up. “ It’s just a matter of time before I face someone faster than me. I told you that before.”

Scott grabbed his brother by the arm to stop him. “ You’re not that man anymore. You don’t have to go out there and face him.” Scott said.

“ I’m waiting Madrid!”  Milton yelled.

“ I don’t back down Scott. The man called me out.” Johnny said before walking outside.

“ Marshal, this is your town………Stop this.” Scott pleaded.

Johnny walked outside. He knew this one wouldn’t be an easy one. The street lit by the lamps down each side wouldn’t provide that split second edge he had used every time to keep him alive all these years.

“ I’m going to kill you Madrid!” Milton said. “ Your time is over.”

Dallas walked out of the restaurant with Scott. “ Milton, I’m not going to allow this to happen……Not in my town.”

“ Gunfights ain’t against the law marshal.” Milton said,

“ It is in my town.” Dallas said as he stepped down into the street. “ Madrid is a lawman. You kill him, I promise you, you will hang for it.”

“ He’s a gunfighter and nothing more.” he said.

“ That’s where you’re wrong. He’s the sheriff of Prescott, Arizona.” the marshal said.

“ If he’s the law in Prescott, then why’s he here?” he asked.

“ Why he’s here is of no concern of yours. Turn around, get on your horse, and ride out…..Now.” Dallas said, and ordered.

Milton knew the marshal was serious. Turning to leave, he spun back around. Three shots reverberated the night.

Scott watched his brother and couldn’t believe the speed of his draw. Looking at Milton, he could see two red stains slowly spreading across his chest as the man’s gun arm slowly dropped to his side.

Johnny watched as Milton slowly dropped to his knees, and fell forward, dead. Turning, he walked over to some steps and sat down, his colt still in his hand.

Scott walked over to his brother. “ It’s not your fault Johnny.”

Johnny looked up at his brother. “ He beat me.” Johnny said before he laid back, his side soaked with blood.

“ Marshal!” Scott yelled as he knelt down next to his brother.

Dallas ran over to Johnny. “ How bad is it?”

“ He creased me good.” Johnny said.

“ Doc’s just down the street.” Dallas said. “ Can you walk?”

“ I can make it.” Johnny said as he stood up.

“ He ain’t here marshal.” Doug Ehle said.

“ But he was?” Jasper asked as he dismounted.

“ Three days ago. I told him I didn’t want a wanted man staying here.” Doug said. “ Told him to turn himself in to you. Said he wasn’t swinging from no rope. A couple of my hands seen him in town. Said he was headed to Mexico. He knows Madrid is tracking him, and figures he won’t follow him below the border.”

“ Madrid won’t stop until he finds him.” Jasper said. “ Your nephew is wanted for murder and attempted murder. The man he killed was a friend of Madrid’s. He’s not tracking him to take him back. He will kill him.”

“ My nephew has been bad most of his adult life. It was just a matter of time before he screwed up. I won’t fault Madrid if he kills him.” Doug said.

“ Madrid will probably come here. I’ll send a wire to El Paso and let him know John Henry has headed to Mexico.”  Jasper said as he mounted up.

“ Madrid’s in El Paso?” he asked.

“ He is. I’ll see you Doug.” he said before riding away.

“ You were lucky young man.” the doc said. “ Judging from the scars on your body I shouldn’t have to tell you about what not to do while having stitches in you.”

“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he put on the clean shirt his brother brought him.

“ How is he doc?” Dallas asked

“ Lucky.” doc said. “ The bullet sliced thru flesh only and didn’t hit a rib. Keep the wound clean and wrapped. I’ll take the stitches out in about ten days.”

“ I can’t stay here ten days doc. My brother can remove them when it’s time.” Johnny said. “ I’m tracking a killer.”

“  Alright. I suggest you wait at least two days before you go riding. Just to make sure you don’t get an infection.” he suggested. “ I’ll see you.”

“ I got a telegram from Jasper.” Dallas said. “ John Henry showed up at his uncles ranch four days ago, He ran him off.”

“ Does he know which way he headed?” Johnny asked as Scott walked into the room.

“ Yeah….south to Mexico. Said he knows you’re tracking him, and that you won’t follow him down there.” Dallas said.

“ He thought wrong.” Johnny responded as he strapped his gun belt on.

“ Wait a minute…..Johnny, you can’t go back into Mexico. The Rurales will kill you on sight.” Scott said. ‘ Or have you forgot you’re a wanted man down there?”

“ I haven’t forgot. I’m not going to let him get away with murder Scott. I took an oath when I pinned on this badge. An oath I fully intend on keeping.”

“ Look, I know you want John Henry to pay for killing your friend Mike.” Scott said. “ But ask yourself this, would Mike want you to risk getting killed yourself.”

“ He has a point Johnny.” Dallas said.

“ So you two are saying I just let him get away with murder?” Johnny asked.

“ No….what we’re suggestion is you let him cool down. Catch him another day.” he suggested. “ He’s not going to stay in Mexico.”

To: Chapter 8 – Research Notes


Chapter 9

“ So you’re turning in your badge?” Deputy Sidney asked.

“ Won’t be needing it where I’m going.” Jasper said. “ Should have gave it up years ago.”

“ What are you going to do?” Bill asked.

“ I have a job I took and should have finished some time back.” Jasper said.

“ A bounty job?” the deputy asked.

“ No….A personal contract to kill.” he said.

“ A what…….who?”

“ Johnny Madrid. I’ll see ya kid.” Jasper said before walking out.

“  How you doing?” Scott asked.

“ I’ve been doing some thinking.” Johnny said after the doctor left from removing the stitches.

“ You are not going across the border.” Scott said firmly.

“ I don’t need you telling me what I can or cannot do.” Johnny said. “ I never said I was going to Mexico. I said I’ve been thinking. There’s a huge difference.”

“  I heard what you said. I’m just reminding you.” Scott said.

“ Look! Do you want to hear what I have to say, or are you going to continue to lecture me over bullshit?”  Johnny asked with anger.

“ You selfish sonofabitch. You don’t give a damn about anyone but yourself anymore do you?” Scott demanded. “ As long as big bad Johnny Madrid does or gets what he wants, to hell with anyone else.”

“ I never asked you to come along.” Johnny said.

“ No you didn’t. I came along because you’re my brother, and I don’t want to lose you.” Scott said. “ You’ll be dead by the time you’re thirty if someone doesn’t stop you from being so reckless.” Scott said.

“ Reckless…..So you think me tracking a man who committed murder being reckless?” Johnny demanded.

“ I didn’t say that. Johnny….I’m proud of you for pinning on a badge and upholding the law. I just don’t want to see you cross that fine line, hit rock bottom. All you have going for you, I don’t want to see you throwing it all away.” Scott said.

“ Are you done with the lecturing?” he asked.

“ You know, at the risk of pissing you off, I’m going to say this.” Scott said. “ You don’t give at all do you? You’re all pride and cut from the same mold as our old man. Not one inch of give.”

“ Just because I share that old man’s blood don’t make me anything like him.” Johnny said.

“ You said you’ve been thinking about something……What?” Scott asked.

“ Jasper and who the hell hired him.” Johnny said. “ He told me a rancher hired him, paid him nicely to bring me in. I was under the assumption that rancher was Martin Faver.”

“ Yes, but he said it wasn’t him.” Scott said.

“ I think Jasper lied to me. Somebody else hired him, and I don’t think I’ve seen the last of him.” Johnny said.

“ If that’s true. Why did he let you go when he had you before?” Scott asked.

“ Guilt maybe. I don’t know.” Johnny responded.

“ I know you don’t like talking about your past, but can you think of anyone with money who would?” Scott asked.

“ No. I’m riding back to Prescott.” Johnny responded.

Jasper walked into the marshal’s office. “ Dallas.”

“ What are you doing here?” Dallas asked as he stood up.

“ That’s not a very friendly welcome.” Jasper said.

“ I heard you turned in your badge.” the marshal said.

“ Bounty hunting pays real good.” Jasper said. “ The man I’m hunting now will pay me ten thousand.”

“ I’ve got no dodgers on anyone with that……..”

“ It’s a private bounty, and given who the person is, killing him will be a blessing to everyone.” Jasper said. “ Killing Johnny Madrid is going to be fun.”

“ You’re hunting Madrid………Jesus……Who the hell……….”

“ It’s private. I know he was here. It won’t be hard for me to find out where he’s at, so why don’t you just tell me?”

“ Madrid’s not here, and even if he was, I wouldn’t tell you. Get the hell out of my town……!” Dallas ordered.

Jasper glared at Dallas a minute before turning to leave. “ I will find him, and I will kill him.” he said as he walked out.

Scott poured a cup of coffee and walked over to look out the cave as the sun set behind the Mogollon mountains. What his brother knew, the places he’d been and things he’s done always amazed him. Looking around, he wondered how his brother learned about this place. Walking over to a wall, he traced out a drawing chipped into the wall of the cave, wondering what they meant. Broken pottery could be seen strewn about the floor. Reeds weaved into baskets of different sizes lay in a corner in the back.

“ Beautiful work.” Johnny said.

“ Amazing work. Who lived here?” Scott asked.

“ Don’t rightly know for sure.” he said.

“ How did you learn of this place?” Scott asked as he walked back over to the fire.

“ I was shot up and happened to stumble upon it.” he said.

“ How old is Barranca now?”

“ I don’t know, around sixteen.” Johnny said. “ I need to retire him, I just don’t have the heart……or place he could live out his retirement.”

“ What if I could give him a place…….you too.” Scott asked.

“ I’m not that old brother.”

“ I’m going to make you an offer I want you to think about.” Scott said as he handed him a cup of coffee. “ A business, partnership offer.”

“  I’ve already been screwed over on that kind of offer remember?”

“ We both were. I’m offering you a chance to build a horse ranch. All you have to do is decide where.” Scott offered.

“ I’ll think about it.” Johnny said.

“ You know, you have a beautiful son, and you have not once asked me about him. Don’t you care?” he asked.

“ I care, but he’s being raised by the only man I trust to do that.” Johnny said.

“ I’m not trying to fight with you, and don’t want to. I want you when this is over to step up to the biggest challenge Johnny Madrid will ever face…………….being a father.” Scott said.

Johnny walked over to Barranca and rubbed his face. “ What do you think buddy?” he asked as the stallion pressed his head into his chest.

“ I remember once asking my mother why I had no father……..Know what she said……..She said it was because of my blue eyes. That he threw us out because he didn’t want a half-breed for a son……..I was five years old when she told me that, and forbid me to ever ask about him again. That day I left……I never thought I would hear him call me what he did…..I know I screwed up sleeping with Teresa. I had it all, and I threw it all away because of lust. I married a woman I loved. A woman who died giving birth to my son, and I wasn’t even there for her……or him. How do I rectify that?”

“ Nobody is perfect little brother. I think you can rectify what you’ve done by stepping up and being a father to your son so he doesn’t grow up thinking he wasn’t wanted or loved like you did.” Scott said. “ He’s young enough now he won’t know you weren’t there the first two years of his life.”

“ And what if I screw up again?” he asked as lightening flashed.

“ We learn from our mistakes Johnny.” Scott said. “ You are a smart person with a good heart. You just got sidetracked is all. I think if you can get your priorities straight, you won’t screw up again. That you will be a good father.”

“ And what about Mollie? She’s been raising him. How’s she going to feel if I ride back and take my son from her?” he asked.

“ He’s your son.” he said. “ I think if you accept my offer, everything will be alright.”

“  Equal partnership?” he asked.

“ Right down the line. I know you don’t like doing the books, so I can handle that end of it.” he said  “ Do you have a place in mind?”

“ There’s good land and wild horses in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.” Johnny said.

“And cold winters with a lot of snow.” Scott added.

“ You lived in Boston, What’s the matter, you getting soft brother?” Johnny asked with a laugh.

“ Not at all.” Scott said as lightening flashed. “ Looks like we are about to have a good storm.”

“ Looks like we could be here a day or two.” Johnny said.

“ Better here than out there.” Scott said as the wind picked up, and the rain  starting falling.

Mollie opened the door. “ Mister Randolph, could I have a word with you?”

“ Why Mrs. Lancer, of course. What can I do for you?” Randall asked.

“ I need to ask you a legal question.” Mollie said. “ It’s about Michael. I was wondering what legal rights I have with him?”

“ I discussed this with your husband. Scott had me draw up papers making Michael his ward with the condition the child be returned to his father when or if he comes back.” Randall said. “ I take it Scott didn’t tell you this?”

“ No……No he didn’t.” Mollie said. “ So even though Johnny hasn’t been in Michael’s life, he still has all rights and can take him from me?”

“ Yes. Scott told me how Johnny requested he take care of the boy while he was away on business. He hasn’t been proved  to be unfit, so the law is on Johnny’s side.” he said.

“ Thank you for your time.” Mollie said as she went to the door.

“ When will Scott be back?” Randall asked as he walked over to her.

“ He’s in Prescott and will be leaving to come home soon.” she said before walking out.

“It’s good to have you back Johnny.” Keith said.

“ Good to be back.” Johnny said. “ How’s it been?”

“ Quiet. A wire came for you a couple weeks ago.” Keith said as he opened the drawer, took out the telegram and handed it to him. “ Scott come back with you?”

“ Thanks. Yeah, he’s sending a wire to his wife.” Johnny said as he opened the envelope and read it.

“ So were you able to get John Henry?” Keith asked.

“ No. His uncle refused to let him stay there so he ran to Mexico, but according to this wire from Marshal Stoudenmire, he was killed in Del Rio.” Johnny said.

“ Can’t say I’m sorry to hear that.” Kith said. “ You had supper yet?”

“ No, not yet.” Johnny said as Scott walked in. “ Hey, John Henry is dead. He was killed in Del Rio.”

“ We were about to go get some supper. You going to join us?” Keith asked.

“ Sounds good.” Scott said. He couldn’t help but notice something was bothering his brother, and it wasn’t how John Henry died. There was something else in the wire he would ask his brother about when alone.

“ Welcome back Johnny.” Sarah said as she poured his coffee ten minutes later. “ Did you kill my brother?”

“ Sarah, no. He was shot and killed by someone else in Del Rio.” Johnny said.

“ Uncle Doug sent a wire telling he refused to help him.” she said. “ I wouldn’t fault you if you had. So what can I get you fellas?”

“ Special for me.” Johnny said.

“ Sounds good to me.” Scott said.

“ Me too.” Keith said.

“ Three specials coming right up. You’ve been missed Johnny.” Sarah said as she ran her hand over his left shoulder before walking away.

“ Damn Johnny, that girl wants you bad. She’s been asking me almost every day if I heard from you or when you were coming back.” Keith said.

Johnny looked at his brother. “ You send a wire to Mollie?”

“ I did.” Scott responded.

“ Three specials.” Sarah said as she set the plates down. “ You working tonight?” she asked.

“ Yeah, I’ll be making the rounds.” Johnny said. “ I can have Keith walk you home.” Johnny said.

“ I’d like you to do it Johnny.” Sarah said.

“ Sarah, I’m too old for you.” he said.

“ I can change your mind.” she said.

Johnny stood up. “ If you don’t mind, I lost my appetite.” he said before walking out.

Scott stood up. “ Young lady, you have a lot of growing up to do, and my brother is not the person to help you do that.” he said before paying for the uneaten meals and walking out.

“ Hello Mollie.” Harlan said.

“ Mister Garrett, what are you doing in Green River?” she asked.

“ I was hoping to see my Scotty.” he said.

“  Scott is gone, but I received a wire from him the other day saying he’s on his way home.” she said.

“ I went to the ranch and I must say, Murdoch was……..”

“ Murdoch Lancer is a vicious man.” she cut in.

“ So you and Scott don’t live at Lancer?” he asked.

“ No. He ran Johnny off, and then a few months later got in a heated argument with Scott and ran him off too.” she said.

“ Please tell Scotty I am now living in Stockton.” Harlan said.

“What about your businesses back in Boston?” she asked.

“ I sold all of them and moved out here to be closer to Scotty.” he responded. “ I’m a feeble old man hoping for a chance to be a great grandfather before I die.”

“ I have a son.” Mollie said. “ His name is Michael.”

“ You and Scott had a child?” he asked.

“ No, not together….yet.” Mollie said. “ No, his brother left his pregnant wife a couple of months before he was born. She died giving birth, and me and Scott are raising him.”

“ I knew that half-breed was no good.” Harlan spat.

“ Mister Garrett, Johnny may be a half-breed, but it’s no fault of his, and he didn’t run off, he was forced off Lancer. His father beat him, and ran him off.” Mollie said.

“ Surely he must have had it coming?” he asked.

“ He did. He willingly slept with Murdoch’s ward Teresa.” she said. “ Murdoch found out, beat Johnny before he ran him and her away from Lancer.”

“ And my Scotty, he went after Madrid why?” Harlan asked.

“ To try and bring him back here to be a father to Michael.” she said with hurt.

“ I take it you are not happy about that, if he should return?”

“ Michael is my son. I’m the one who’s been raising him. He has no right coming back to take him away from me.” she said.

“ Perhaps I can prevent that from happening. Madrid has been a thorn in my side for many years. Perhaps I can get that thorn removed for both our sake’s.” Harlan suggested.

“ Mister Garrett, I don’t care what you do to Johnny Madrid. Good day sir.” Mollie said before walking away.

Johnny sat at his desk sipping a cup of coffee when the door opened and Sarah walked in, closed and locked the door. Sighing, he stood up and walked around his desk. “ What are you doing here?”

“ I think you know why I’m here.” she responded.

“ Sarah……I’m too old for you.” Johnny said. “ Go home.”

“ I told you you’re not too old for me. If anything, you have experience, and that’s what I want.” she said as she walked over to him. “ I’m just asking for one time Johnny, not a commitment.”

Johnny walked over to the stove and poured another cup of coffee. “ Go home Sarah. What you want should come from a man you’re in love with, or married to.”

Sarah walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around his chest. “ Your heart’s racing. I know you want me Johnny. I feel you responding to my touch.” she said as she started rubbing him with both hands.

Johnny spun around and grabbed her hands, stopping her. “ I said go home!” he ordered as he pulled her to the door, unlocked and opened it. “ You’re playing a dangerous game……..Go home……now!” he said as he shoved her out the door, closed and locked it.

Sarah stood looking at the door as tears welled up in her eyes.

“ Are you alright?” Scott asked as he walked up to her.

“ He hates me. I just made a total fool of myself, and he hates me now.” she sobbed.

“ Johnny doesn’t hate you Sarah. If he hated you, he would have done what you wanted him to do. He didn’t do what you wanted because he respects you. Let me walk you home. Give it some thought and talk to him Tomorrow.” Scott suggested.

“ Hey brother.” Scott said as he walked into the jail.

“ Morning.” Johnny said as he finished washing his face and hands.

“ Sleep well?” Scott asked as he poured a cup of coffee.

“ I always sleep well.” Johnny said. “ You?”

“ I couldn’t sleep so I took a walk early this morning. She feels bad about what happened. I walked her home, talked to her, and suggested to her to think about what didn’t happen and why.” Scott said.

“  I’ll tell you, I almost gave in to her.” Johnny said.

“ Why didn’t you?” Scott asked as he handed him a cup of coffee.

“ Teresa, and how much of a mistake it was with her. I didn’t want to make that mistake again.” he said.

“ Okay.” Scott said a she leaned against the wall and crossed his arms.

“ Let’s go get some breakfast. I’ll give you my answer after. Not eating supper last night, I’m a little hungry.” Johnny said as the door opened and Sarah walked in.

“ Hello. Scott, I never thanked you for last night. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what you told me.” she said as she walked over and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

“ Sarah. What are you doing here?” Johnny asked.

“ I was wondering if I could have a word with you?” she asked.

“ I’ll meet you at the Palace.” Scott said as he walked to the door.

Sarah waited until Scott closed the door. “ Last night….last night I made a complete fool of myself with you….I want to tell you I’m sorry I put you in that position.” she said. “ I had no right doing that too you.”

Johnny walked over and poured another cup of coffee. “ Sarah, there was a time I would have took you up on your offer last night.”

“ You’re lucky to have a brother like Scott. What he said to me last night when he walked me home helped me see how much of a fool I was.” she said. “ I wish John Henry could have been a brother like him.”

“ You’ll find someone some day to make you happy.” he said.

“ I hope he’s like you.” she said.

“ You’re how old?” he asked.

“ I just turned twenty last month.” she said and asked. “ Can I…can I ask you to do one thing for me?”

“ That depends on what it is?” he said.

“ Would you  at least let me feel what it’s like to be kissed by a real man?” she asked.

Johnny sighed. “ Sarah, last night was hard enough for me to not make love to you.” Johnny said as he watched her breast rise up and down.

“ It’s just a kiss.” she said.

Johnny walked over to her and gently raised her chin up as he lowered his mouth to hers. Running his tongue over her lips, feeling them quiver, he slid his tongue inside and deepened the kiss. Stopping when he felt his body starting to stir.

“ Wow……you sure know how to take a girls breath away. Sarah said. “ I’ll cherish your kiss forever. Thank you.”

“ Johnny be joining us for breakfast?” Keith asked.

“ Yeah, he’s taking care of something and should be along.” Scott said.

“ Scott, is Johnny going to be leaving Prescott?” he asked.

“ Here he comes now. Why don’t you ask him?” Scott said.

“ Hey.” Johnny said as he sat down.

“ You have a visitor last night?” Keith asked.

“Yeah, and I sent her home.” Johnny said.

“ You want some coffee Johnny?” Becky asked.

“ Yeah, and steak, eggs and spuds too. I’m starved.” he said. “ What did you say to her last night?”

“ She was afraid you would hate her after what she did. I told her you don’t hate her. That if you did, you would have done what she wanted you to do. That you didn’t because you respect her.” Scott explained.

“ Thanks.” Johnny said. “ I did some serious thinking last night. If you’re serious about your offer, I’ll accept it with one condition.” Johnny said. “ That condition being I get my son back.”

Scott smiled and walked over to his brother. “ I had Randall draw up papers saying that very thing. That you get Michael back if you came back. He’s your son, and deserves to grow up with his father.”

“ What offer you talking about Johnny?” Keith asked as their food was brought to the table.

“ Going back with him and being a father to my son, and starting up a horse ranch.” Johnny said.

“ So you’re going to turn in your badge?” Keith asked.

Johnny sat back in his chair and interlaced his fingers against his chest. “ I am, but I want to know if you would like to become sheriff? I think you would be a good one.”

“ Me, sheriff?” Keith asked. “ I don’t know what to say Johnny.”

“ Well you can say you’ll accept the job.” Johnny responded.

“ Of course I’ll accept. Thank you.” Keith said as he shook Johnny’s hand. “ When you leaving?”

“ End of the week.” he said as Becky brought them their food.

 “ Here ya go. You going to eat all that Johnny?” she asked.

“ Yeah. I didn’t get supper last night.” Johnny said.

“ Did I hear right? You’re leaving the end of the week?” she asked.

“ Yeah, I’m going back to California. Keith will be sworn in as the new sheriff.” he said.

“ I hope you come see me before you leave?” she said before walking away.

Scott couldn’t help but smile and laugh as he looked at his brother who was watching Becky walk away.

“ After breakfast we’ll go see the mayor and get you sworn in as the new sheriff.” Johnny said.

“ Sounds good to me.” Keith said.

“Raise your right hand. I, Keith Jackson do swear that I will faithfully execute all laws precepts, directed to the Marshal of the United States for the Western District of Arizona under authority of the United States, and true returns make, and in all things well and truly, without malice or partiality, perform the duties of Deputy Marshal of the Western District of Arizona during my continuance in said office, and take only my lawful fees, so help me God. Sworn to and subscribed before me this 15th day of August 1885.”

“ Congratulations Keith.” Johnny said. “ The town is now yours.”

“ Congratulations.” Scott said.

“ Thanks guys.” Keith said.

Jasper rode into Globe, Arizona and stopped at the saloon. Heading inside he ordered a beer.

“ You tracking someone again marshal?” the bartender asked.

“ I’m not a marshal anymore Hank. I’m being paid very nicely to hunt down a man and kill him.” Jasper said.

“ Kill a man, who?” he asked.

“ A thorn in his side named Johnny Madrid.” he responded.

“ Madrid, isn’t he the sheriff of Prescott?”

“ That’s what I’ve been told.” Jasper said.

“ Jesus Jasper, Madrid is fast. There’s no way you can beat him. I’ve seen him face a man, that poor man never got his hand on his gun before Madrid’s bullet killed him.” Hank said.

“ Madrid’s days are numbered. I don’t care how I do it. He’ll be dead by weeks end.” Jasper said as he tossed a coin on the bar. “ I’ll see you Hank.”

Johnny walked into the Palace saloon around eight to find Becky standing at the bottom of the stairs. Walking over to the bar, he ordered a  shot of tequila, paid for it, and downed it before walking over to Becky.

“ Been waiting for you.” she said as they headed upstairs.

“ Been busy.” Johnny said as they walked into her room.

“ So what’s your pleasure tonight?” she asked as she closed and locked the door. “ You want a repeat of what I did last time?”

Johnny smiled as he started undressing.

“ That looks fresh.” Becky said as she walked over to him and gently touched the scar on his side.

“ Yeah, had some trouble in El Paso.” Johnny said as he undid his pants, pushed them down, then sat down to remove his boots. Once he was naked he grabbed Becky and shoved her down on the bed.

Johnny came downstairs three hours later walked out of the saloon heading to the diner, unaware he was being watched. He knew Sarah would be closing up, and walking home soon. Something she didn’t like to do alone late at night.

“ You all done?” he asked as he walked up to her as she locked the door.

“ Johnny, you scared me.” Sarah said.

“ I thought I would escort you home.” he said.

 “ Is what I heard true?” she asked as they walked along.

“ That depends on what you heard.” he said.

“ That you’re no longer the sheriff and you’re leaving?” she asked.

“ It is. That’s why I’m here. I thought I would escort you home one last time.” he said.

“ You know Johnny………some lady is going to be very lucky to have you some day.” she said.

“ I was married once Sarah. I doubt I’ll ever marry again.” Johnny said. “ I made a bad choice that ruined my marriage. She died a couple months later giving birth to our on. That’s why I’m going back to California. I need to be a father to that boy.”

Sarah stopped walking and turned to face Johnny. “ I’m sorry for your loss.” she said.

“ Madrid!” Jasper yelled.

Johnny sighed. “ Stay here.” he ordered as he turned and stepped down into the street.

“ Jasper, why you doing this?” Johnny asked.

“ I can give you ten thousand reasons why, but the only one that matters to me is me killing you.” Jasper said. “ I’ve been watching you all evening. I could have shot you in the back, but I wanted you to see who’s killing you.”

“ You can’t beat me and you know it.” Johnny said.

“ I think I can.” Jasper said as he went for his gun, but never touched it as his right arm jerked backwards and blood started pouring out of the wound.

Johnny drew and fired, hitting Jasper in his upper right arm, shattering the bone.

Keith came running out of the jail as lamps started coming on in windows, some venturing outside in their night clothes to see what was going on.

Jasper stood glaring at Johnny, his right arm hanging at his side, with bone protruding. “ Finish it.” he ordered.

“ Why you doing this? Why’d you come after me?” Johnny demanded.

“ Go to hell!” Jasper spat.

“ I’ve already been there.” Johnny said as Scott walked up next to him. “ You’re going to lose that arm.”

“ Kill me, my life’s over without my arm.”

“ Stay back doc.” Keith ordered.

“ I’m not going to ask you again!”

“ I’ll tell you only if you’ll end it for me.” Jasper said.

Johnny brought his colt up as he walked up to him, placing the barrel against his forehead he cocked the gun.

“ H.G. That’s all I know. That’s the name I got on the last telegram. He paid me ten thousand dollars to kill you.”

“ Paid you how?” Scott asked.

“ Wired it.” Jasper spat. “ He’s the one who sent me after you before.”

Johnny lowered the colt and un-cocked it.

“ What are you doing? You said you would end it!” Jasper yelled.

“ I lied. He’s all yours doc.” Johnny said before turning and walking over to his brother.

“ Johnny, I’m sorry. I didn’t know.” Scott said.

“ You know I’m not going to leave this alone.” Johnny said.

“ Neither am I brother. He’s gone to damn far this time.” Scott said firmly.

Agatha came out of the house and smiled when she seen two riders coming toward the house. “ Mollie….it’s Scott.”

Mollie came outside with a smile on her face that quickly disappeared when she seen who was with her husband. Stepping down off the porch, she walked over to her husband.

Scott dismounted. “ Mrs. Conway.”

“ Hello Scott………welcome back.” Agatha said.

“ It’s good to be back.” Scott said.

“Johnny, it’s good to see you.” Aggie said.

Johnny dismounted. He could see Mollie wasn’t happy he came back. “ Mrs Conway.”

“ Where’s Michael?” Scott asked.

“ Inside sleeping.” Mollie said. “ Why did you come back here Johnny?”

“  Mollie, Johnny came back…….”

“ I came back to be a father to my son.” Johnny said.

“ Your son……….Where were you when he was born? Where were you when Amelia died giving birth to him? Where………”

“ Mollie, that’s enough!” Scott cut in.

“ He has no right to Michael. I’m his mother. I’m the one who’s been raising him!” Mollie said with anger.

“ Johnny is his father, and he has every right to be here.” Scott said.

Johnny swung up in the saddle.

“ Where are you going?” Scott asked.

“ Spanish Wells. I’ll get a room there.” Johnny said.

Scott turned to face his wife. “ You had no right talking to Johnny like that. You have no idea what he has been through.”

“ He chose his fate when he dishonored his marriage.” she said.

“ It’s not your place to pass judgment on Johnny. He’s made mistakes yes……..and he’s has to live with those mistakes the rest of his life.” Scott snapped back. “ Mrs. Conway I’m sorry. I didn’t know my wife could, or would be so spiteful.”

“Well I will be damned.” Mack said. “ Take a look at who just walked in the saloon.”

“ I never thought I would see him back.” Adam said. “ I wonder what his old man’s going to say when he learns he’s back?”

“ Johnny never did us wrong. He’s a good man. If anything, his old man did him wrong throwing him out.” Mack said. “ Here he comes.”

“ Mack, Adam, good to see you boys. How ya been?” Johnny asked as he shook each man’s hand.

“ Been good Johnny. Still working for your old man.” Adam said.

“ Where ya been the last three years” Mack asked.

“ Prescott, Arizona keeping the peace.” Johnny said.

“ You were a lawman…..I bet that was a town with no trouble.” Adam said.

“ Let me have a beer.” Johnny asked the saloon girl. “ I had my share of trouble.”

“ You know, your old man kicked Scott off Lancer also a few months after you left.” Mack said.

“ Yeah, I know. I came back with Scott.” Johnny said.

“ Listen, we have ta get back to the ranch. We came in to pick up supplies.” Mack said. “ It was good to see you Johnny.”


Chapter 10

Harlan opened his hotel room door in Stockton. “ Can I help you?” he asked.

“ My name is Shannon, and I believe it is you I can help?” she asked as she walked into his room. “ I believe Mister Garrett, the services you need only I can fulfill for you?”

“ I was told you are very good at……..”

“ Seducing a man?” she cut in.

“ Yes…The man I want to hire you for is not like any other man.” Harlan said.

“ He is if he likes to poke women.” Shannon said. “ Just who is this man, and what all do you want me to do to him?”

“ I want you to seduce him, and then when he’s not expecting it…..kill him!” he said.

“ Okay, just who is it I’m to kill?”

“ A no good half-breed named Johnny Madrid!” Harlan spat. “ I am prepared to pay five thousand, half now, and the other half when I know he is dead.”

“ I know Madrid. Been with him a few times in Laredo. Thought he got himself killed down in Mexico a long time ago. Damn good man in a bed. Best man I’ve ever slept with.” Shannon said.

“ I am not interested in your adventures with him. All I want to know is…….”

“ You want him dead….I’ll kill him for you, but it will cost you a lot more than five thousand dollars.” she cut in.

“ How much more?” he demanded.

“ I’ll gut him for ten.” she said with coldness. “ See, you may not be interested in my adventures with Madrid, but it’s those adventures that will get me in the perfect position to gut him wide open. Madrid likes doing it to a woman while standing up. Five now, and the other five when he’s dead.”

“ Done.” Harlan said as he handed her the money. “ Now kindly leave my room.”

“ Old man………it’s been a pleasure doing business with you.” Shannon said as she walked to the door. “ A real pleasure.”

Murdoch walked out of the house. ‘ Mack, Adam, did you get everything on the list?”

“ Yes sir.” Mack said.

“ Johnny is back.” Adam said.

“ Johnny who?” Murdoch asked.

“ Your son Johnny.” Mack said. “ He’s staying in Spanish Wells. Let’s get this wagon unloaded.”

Murdoch walked back inside and over to his desk. “ I want to know why the hell you dare come back to this valley?” he said aloud as he sat down. “ There is nothing here for you……nothing.”

“ Hi. You looking to have a poke?” Shannon asked.

“ Looking to have more than that.” Johnny responded.

“ Two dollars will get you an hour.” she said.

Johnny followed Shannon upstairs to a room. Walking in he removed his gun belt and hung it on the bedpost. “ You afraid of me?” he asked as he undressed.

“ Been a long time Johnny.” Shannon said as she removed the white cotton robe she wore.

Johnny watched as her breast rose and fell in her  corset. “ Never expected to find you in California.” Johnny said.

Shannon untied the corset and let her breast fall free. Sliding her drawers down and stepping out of them. “ Laredo got to be too dull.”

“ You’ve gotten more aggressive.” Shannon said as she lay with her head on his chest a short time later.

“ Been a while since I was with a woman.” Johnny said.

Shannon knew what she had to do, but knew now wasn’t the time. She knew she needed to get him out somewhere alone where there would be nobody around to see them together. “ I was thinking of taking a ride tomorrow afternoon. Care to join me?”

Johnny rolled her over and positioned himself between her legs. “ I’m fixing to take a ride right now.” he said before claiming her mouth with hunger.

“ Good morning.” Scott said as he walked into the kitchen and found Aggie sitting at the table.

“ Good morning.” she said. “ What are your plans now that Johnny is back?”

Scott poured a cup of coffee and sat down. “ I made Johnny an offer to become business partners in a ranch. He has to decide where though.”

“ I see. Have you talked to Mollie about this yet?” she asked.

“ Not yet. I don’t want to lose my brother again. I want him living the life he deserves.” Scott said.

“ Even though you know how she feels about him, and Michael?” she asked.

“ Michael is Johnny’s son. He has every right to be a father to him.” he responded.

“ He gave up that right when he slept with Teresa, and then ran away.” Mollie said as she came into the kitchen with Michael.

“ He never gave up his rights as Michael’s father.” Scott said.

Agatha stood up. “ Mollie, I understand your hurt over Johnny coming back, but I think you are acting childish in this matter.”

“ Johnny came back to be with his son, and become a business partner with me in a ranch.” Scott said.

“ I see, and you didn’t feel the need to discuss this with your wife?” Mollie demanded.

“ You have no say in the matter.” he said.

“ I’m your wife….yet you chose that half-breed bastard over me.” she spat.

“As my wife you will stop this hateful attitude you have against my brother.” Scott ordered. “ I won’t have you speaking of him like that ever again.”

“ And if I don’t?” she demanded.

“ You don’t…..then I can make arrangements to send you back to your parents in Boston.” Scott responded.

“ You would choose your……You know what Scott, don’t bother. I already made arrangements to go back when Randall told me what you did behind my back. I filed for a divorce in Stockton. I’ll pack my things and move to the hotel there until the judge grants it.” Mollie said.

Murdoch rode into Spanish Wells and stopped at the hotel. Dismounting he went in to the front desk. “ What room is Johnny staying in?” he demanded.

“ Mister Lancer….I can’t tell you that.” Toby the clerk said.

“ You looking for me old man?” Johnny asked from the stairs.

Murdoch spun around and faced him. “ Why’d you come back here?”

“ I don’t see where that’s any of your business.” Johnny said as he walked down the stairs.

“ Tell me why you came back here you half-breed bastard!” he spat.

Johnny walked up to him. “ I suggest you turn around and leave while you’re still able to walk.” he ordered.

“ Let me tell you something you ungrateful bastard. If you think you’re going to take Lancer from me.” Murdoch said.

“ I have no interest in your precious ranch old man.” he said.

“ Gentlemen please. Mister Lancer I’m going to insist you leave now.” Toby ordered.

“ You set foot on Lancer and I’ll have you shot and killed.” he said before storming out.

“ Let’s rest the horses.” Shannon said as she stopped.

Johnny dismounted and walked over to help her down. Claiming her mouth as soon as her feet hit the ground. His hands started roaming over her body, squeezing her breast.

“ Hey, slow down.” Shannon said.

“ I couldn’t stop thinking about you all night.” Johnny said.

“ Me either. Let’s let the horses graze and go over to the trees.” Shannon said.

Johnny walked over into the trees with Shannon, and removed his gun belt.

“ I have nothing on underneath my dress.” she said.

“ Good, makes it easier for me.” Johnny said as he claimed her mouth.

Shannon ran her hands down between his legs with her left hand as her right went under her dress and pulled the knife out she wore on her garter. “ Turn around for me Johnny, I have a surprise for you.”

Johnny smiled at her before turning around. “ Must be something hidden under your dress.” he said.

“ It is.” She said as she brought the knife up. “ I’m sorry.” she said before plunging it down into the back of his left shoulders.

Johnny felt pressure and then excruciating white hot pain in the back of his left shoulder as he staggered forward a couple steps, then felt the unmistakable feel of a blade leaving his flesh. White hot pain coursed thru his back as blood started running down his back. Turning around he shoved Shannon away from him, the blade cutting across his left forearm. “ Shannon stop!” he pleaded as he pulled his colt.

Shannon glared at Johnny, angry she had missed stabbing him in the neck the first time. “ Can’t do that.” she said as she brought the knife up.

Johnny cocked his colt. “ Damn it Shannon……..don’t.”

“ Garrett wants you dead.” she said.

“ Harlan Garrett?” Johnny asked.

“ Paid me half. Sorry Johnny, but you’re worth a lot of money to me dead.” she said.

“ Damn it Shannon don’t!” Johnny said as he pulled the trigger, hitting her in the chest.

Sam stopped his buggy and looked toward the trees, he could see two horses and a lone figure standing. Turning his buggy, he approached and seen it was Johnny standing there with his pistol in his hand. Looking, he seen a body laying on the ground with a red stain spreading across her chest.

“Oh my god, Johnny!” Sam said as he climbed down and went to his side.

“ She gave me no choice Sam……I didn’t want to shoot her……..She wouldn’t drop the knife.” Johnny said.

“ Are you alright Johnny?” Sam asked. He could tell something was wrong.

Johnny looked his left arm, then at Sam. “ I can’t feel or move my arm, Sam.” he said before collapsing.

“ Johnny!” Sam yelled as he hurried to his side and seen his blood soaked back. “ Oh my god.”

“ She stabbed me. I had no choice. I didn’t want to shoot her Sam.” Johnny kept repeating.

“ Johnny, I need to get you in my buggy so I can get you to town so I can stop the bleeding. Can you get in my buggy?” Sam pleaded.

“ I don’t feel too good Sam.” Johnny said before he passed out.

Sam heard a horse coming and yelled. “ Help……I need help over here!”

“ Is that Sam?” Aggie asked.

Scott turned the buggy and slapped the reins. “ It is.” he said.

“ Scott, that’s Johnny!” Aggie said as he stopped the buggy.

“ What happened?” Scott asked as he jumped down and went to his brother.

“ I don’t know for sure. He said she stabbed him in the back before he passed out.” Sam said.  “ Help me get him in my buggy. I need to get him to town and get that wound closed.”

Scott picked his brother up and placed him in the buggy, then climbed in and put Johnny on his lap so Sam could climb in.

“ I’ll follow you.” Aggie said as she pulled Michael over next to her.

Murdoch walked out of the mercantile and looked as Sam drove his buggy past to his house. He could see Scott in the buggy with him holding Johnny in his lap followed by Aggie in her buggy.

Stepping down into the street, he found himself hurrying to Sam’s office as Scott climbed down and carried his brother inside.

“ Put him in there.” Sam ordered.

Scott carefully laid his brother down on the table and started removing his shirt. “What do you want?” he asked as Murdoch walked into the room.

“ Get out Murdoch!” Sam ordered.

“ What happened?” Murdoch asked.

“ It’s of no concern of yours.” Scott said. “ You made it perfectly clear how you feel about my brother….Now leave before I throw your sorry ass out.”

Murdoch stood  glaring at Scott when Aggie walked into the room.

“ Get out Murdoch!” she ordered. “ Scott, go out with Michael. I’ll help Sam.”

Scott started to walk out of the room. “ I’ll go let Gabe know what’s happened.”

Murdoch followed Scott outside. “ Who shot him?”

“ As I said, what has happened is of no concern of yours.” Scott said before walking away.

Murdoch watched his grandson walk away with his oldest. Walking over to his horse, he mounted up and rode out of town in the direction Gabe headed.

“ Will he live Sam?” Aggie asked.

“ I don’t know Agatha. He’s lost a lot of blood and he’s not as young as he used to be.” Sam said as he finished stitching the wound up. “ The knife went deep.”

“  I wonder what happened?” she asked.

“ All I know is Johnny said she stabbed him.” Sam said.

“ I’ve seen her in town. She works at that whore house.” Agatha said.

Sam looked at her, shocked by her bluntness. “ She has to be someone Johnny knows from his past.”

“ Thank god Michael wasn’t with him.” she said as Scott walked back into the room.

“ Gabe went out to bring the woman’s body back.” Scott said. “ He wants to know when Johnny is able to talk to him about what happened.”

“ Where is Michael?” she asked.

“ With Baldomero’s wife at the store. She seen us come in and took him when I was on my way to the sheriff’s.” Scott explained.

“ He shot and killed a woman. The look in his eyes when he was standing there looking at her. It wasn’t good Scott.” Sam said.

“ I don’t think he’s ever shot a woman before.” Scott said.

Murdoch rode about two miles and stopped when he seen Gabe off the road in some trees with the undertaker. Riding over he dismounted.

“ Gabe. What happened?” he asked.

“ Murdoch, this doesn’t concern you on what happened here.” Gabe said. “ Go on home.”

“ That killer comes back here and not long after this poor woman is laying there dead. Shot by him.” Murdoch said.

“ Mister Lancer, I’m the one wearing the badge….not you. Now leave. Stan, lets get her loaded up in your wagon.” Gabe said.

“ Looks like she attacked him here, he fell here according to the blood on the ground.” Stan said.

“ Scott said he was stabbed in the back and he lost a lot of blood.” Gabe said. “ Looks like self defense, but I need to talk to Madrid before I make a ruling.”

“ It’s murder Gabe. Madrid shot and killed that woman. He belongs behind bars!” Murdoch spat.

“ Lancer….you may call the shots on your ranch, but not here. Go home……now!” Gabe ordered.

“  Do I need to remind you that you wear that badge because you were elected by the Cattleman’s Association.” he asked.

“ Any time you want this badge, you can have it.” Gabe said firmly. “  Until then, I’m the law and I want you to stay out of this.”

Johnny opened his eyes, blinking several times. Realizing he was laying on his right side, he looked and could see his brother sitting in a chair next to the bed with his head hanging down, his chin touching his chest. “ Scott.”

Scott opened his eyes and looked at his brother. “ Welcome back brother.”

“ Where am I?” Johnny asked as he tried to sit up.

“ Easy, let me help you.” Scott said as he stood up and helped Johnny to sit up. “ Sam’s. He found you and we brought you here to get you sewed up.” Scott said. “ Do you remember what happened?”

“ Thirsty.” Johnny said.

“ Oh…okay. Let me get you some water.” Scott said as he walked around the bed to the small table and poured a glass of water.  “ Just sip it.”

Johnny welcomed the cool feel of the water on his dry throat. “ Thanks.”

“  You lost a lot of blood. Sam was going to put a tube in your nose if you didn’t wake up today.” Scott said.

“ I’ve had worse.” Johnny said as he tried to move his left arm. “ What did Sam say?”

“ What did I say about what young man?” Sam asked as he walked into the room. “ I’m glad to see you awake.”

“ Thanks. I was asking about my arm.”  Johnny said.

“ It was deep, and had cut your axillary nerve. Until it heals up, you will have limited movement in your left arm.” Sam said.

“ So is that your way of saying my arm is paralyzed?” he asked.

“  For the moment, yes.” Sam said. “ I don’t know if you will get full mobility back or not John. I’m sorry.”

“ At least it’s my left arm.” Johnny said.

“ Uh John, Gabe is outside, he wants to talk to you about what happened. Do you feel up to it?” Sam asked.

“ He has a job to do.” Johnny said.

“ Alright, I’ll tell him you will see him.” Sam said before walking out.

“ You want me to stay?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah.” Johnny said as Gabe walked in.

“ Johnny.” Gabe said. “ Uh Scott, I need to speak to Johnny alone about what happened.”

“ No…..he stays. I have nothing to hide from my brother…….or you Gabe.” Johnny said firmly.

“ Alright. Let’s start with the dead woman, did you know her?”

“ Her name is…….was Shannon. I first met her in Laredo when I was fifteen. She was working in a cantina. I seen her off and on numerous times. Up until the other day, I didn’t know she was still alive, let alone here in Spanish Wells.” Johnny said as he looked at his brother. “ We spent time together in her room talking about old times. She invited me to go on an afternoon ride with her…….We rode out where……….I removed my gun belt and she asked me to turn around, said she had a surprise for me…..I turned around, she said I’m sorry Johnny right before she plunged a knife in my back. I drew my gun and aimed it at her….I told her  to stop, but she came at me again and I had no choice but to shoot her.”

“ Okay, from what I seen of the area, and where your blood was on the ground and where she was laying dead, it matches up.” Gabe said. “ Did she tell you why she did it?”

Johnny looked at his brother. He didn’t want Gabe to know what she said about his grandfather being the one responsible for it. “ No.”

“ Okay, well as it stands, I see no reason to charge you.” the sheriff said.

“ Charge Johnny with what?” Scott said.

“ Murder.” Gabe said firmly. “ He shot and killed a woman. That might not set too well with some folks in this town. Especially if your old man has any say in the matter.”

“ What the hell does he have to do with this?” Johnny demanded.

“ He was here when we brought you in demanding what happened and followed me outside when I was headed to tell Gabe what happened..” Scott said.

“ He showed up when me and Stan were picking up the body. We had words and he threatened to take my job. Reminded me who gave me this badge. I told him he can have it back any time, but until then to stay the hell out of law business.” Gabe said. “ That man has a pure hate for you Johnny. I don’t think he’s going to let this go.”

“ I had words with him at the hotel. He demanded to know why I came back here. Told him it’s none of his business. He then told me that if I set foot on Lancer land….he will have me killed. That no half-breed bastard is going to take what’s his.” Johnny said. “ I told him I have no interest in Lancer. Toby ordered him out of the hotel.”

“ Technically there’s nothing I can do to stop your father until he does something.” Gabe said. “ I suggest you leave town as soon as you can Johnny, and don’t come back to Spanish Wells for a while.”

“ I plan to, Gabe.” Johnny said.

“ I’ll be taking him out to the Conway ranch until we find a place.” Scott said.

“ Sounds good. I’ll see you.” Gabe said before walking out.

Scott stared at his brother. His gut told him Johnny didn’t tell Gabe everything. Especially when he asked about why. That and the fact he had to shoot a woman.

“ When can he be moved Sam?” Scott asked.

“ He can be moved now. Just keep the arm immobile as much as possible.” Sam said. “ Johnny, Don’t expect this to heal up fast. It’s going to take time.”

“ Yeah.” Johnny said.

“ I’ll go get a buggy to take you back to the Conway ranch.” Scott said.

“ Barranca is at the livery.” Johnny said.

“ I’ll bring Barranca too.” he said before walking out.

“ Johnny……..I’ve know you long enough to know when something is bothering you.” Sam said. “ And I know what that is. You’ve never shot a woman before have you?”

“ No……I tried Sam……I begged her.” he said softly as he swung his legs over the edge of the bed. “ She told me why she was here. Who brought her here.”

“ And you didn’t tell Gabe because it would affect Scott?” Sam asked.. “ I’ve noticed his grandfather is around more. Is that the person?”

“ You know, for a country doctor you’re pretty smart.” Johnny said. “ How do I tell him? He already knows Harlan paid Jasper to kill me. I tell him this…..I don’t know what it will do to him.”

“ Scott has a good head on his shoulders Johnny. He loves you very much. So much in fact that his wife left him and went back to Boston.”  Sam said.

“ Jesus, he lost his wife because of me, why?” Johnny asked.

“ Because she feels you have no rights to your son brother.” Scott said as he walked in. “ I have a buggy outside and brought you a shirt..”

“ Scott….I’m sorry. I never meant…..”

“ I know. I tried to reason with her. She was angry when she found out what I did with Randall and went to Stockton and filed for divorce.” Scott said. “ Let’s get you out of here.”

Scott stopped the buggy and got down as Agatha came outside.  “ I’ll take care of Barranca.”

“ I can do it.” Johnny said as he got down.

“ Steve, would you show Johnny where he can put Barranca.” Aggie asked.

“ Yes ma’am.” Steve said.

“ Where’s Michael?” Scott asked.

“ Inside playing.” she said. “ I told him you would be home and that a special person was coming with you.”

“ Thanks. I think I’ll go in and tell him who it is.” Scott said.

“ You’ll find brushes in that box over there. Grain is in the barrels over there by the hay.” Steve said.

“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he removed the halter.

“ How old is he?”  Steve asked.

“ Sixteen. Me and him have been amigos a long time.” Johnny said. “ I caught and broke him when he was three.”

“ He one of those Capanero de Palomino’s that runs in the valley?” he asked.

“ He is.” Johnny said as he walked out of the stall and closed the gate.

“ Well, I better get back to work.” Steve said. “ Oh, can I ask you something?”

“ Ask what?”

“ Is it true, are you the gunfighter Johnny Madrid?” he asked.

“ I was. I just want to live a normal life Steve. I want to put my past behind me.” Johnny responded.

“ I hope you get it Johnny. A lot of the hands here know you. They know what happened at Lancer, and feel you were done an injustice.” Steve said before walking out of the barn.

“ We need to leave here Amigo. Get a place and start a ranch of our own. Maybe let you have some mares to pass on your bloodlines.” Johnny said as he rubbed his forehead. “ I’ll see ya later Amigo.”

“ Michael, I need to talk to you.” Scott said.

“ Hello Uncle Scott.” Michael said. “ Did your special friend come with you?”

“ He did.” Scott said. “ Michael, the man who came back with me is……..he’s my brother………your father.”

“ My father? Aunt Mollie said my father was dead.” Michael said.

“  Aunt Mollie had no right telling you that lie. Johnny has been in Arizona protecting a town and it’s people.” Scott said. “ He came back with me, and he wants a chance to be your father, but…….he’s scared you won’t want him around you.”

“ But he’s my father. Why wouldn’t I want him around me?” Michael asked.

“ Well how about we go meet you father, and you can ask him?” Scott asked.


Chapter 11

Murdoch rode into Spanish wells and stopped at the sheriff’s office. Dismounting as Gabe walked out of the jail.

“ What do you want Murdoch?” Gabe asked.

“ I want to know why Madrid isn’t in jail for murdering that woman?” Murdoch demanded.

“ It was self defense and the matter is closed.” Gabe said.

“ I’m going to call for a special meeting to have you removed from office. Come Monday, you won’t be the law in this town any longer.” Murdoch said.

“ That’s fine, but the law says you have to have a legal reason to terminate me. Not arresting a man for killing a person in self defense is not a reason.” Gabe said. “ Also if you continue to harass Johnny, I will arrest you for defamation of character and harassment.”

Murdoch glared at Gabe a minute before mounting up and riding out of town.

Johnny walked out of the barn toward the house. Stopping when Scott walked out if the house with a small boy next to him.

“ Johnny, you get Barranca all settled in?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah.”

“ Johnny, this is your son Michael.” Scott said.

“ Hello father.” Michael said. “ Uncle Scott told me about you. He said you were in Arizona helping a town, keeping the people safe.”

“ That’s true. I was the sheriff in Prescott.” Johnny said. “ How about we go up on the porch and sit in the swing to talk?”

“ Is it okay uncle Scott?”

“ Uncle Scott?” Johnny asked.

“ I’ve never said I was his father. I wanted to make sure he knew that. Knew that his father would be back.” Scott responded.

Johnny took Michael’s hand in his and walked up on the porch to sit in the swing. “ I’m sorry I haven’t been here for you like I should have.”

“Aunt Mollie said you were a bad man. That you kill people with your gun. Is that true?” Michael asked.

“ I have killed men yes….But only those who tried to kill me son. I’m not a murderer, and I’ve never murdered anyone.” Johnny said. “ Do you think that makes me a bad person?”

“ No.” he said. “ Why did she tell me those lies about you though?”

“ I don’t know.” he said.

“ Where did you grow up?” Michael asked.

“ In Mexico. My mother took me away when I was two. She died when I was ten and I went to live in an orphanage until I ran away when I was ten.” Johnny explained.

“ Why did you run away?” he asked.

“ Because it wasn’t a nice place. The kids there were mean to me because I was different.” Johnny said. “ My mother was Mexican, and my father a gringo. That made me what they call a half-breed here or a mestizo in Mexico.”

“ Am I a half-breed too?” Michael asked.

“ No, you’re my son.” he responded. “ Michael…there are always going to be people in this world who want to hurt others. Whether it’s because they’re different or weak, somebody is always going to be mean to them. I started using my gun to stop that from happening to me. I want you too remember something I learned a long time ago. It’s easy to kill a man, but it’s impossible to bring him back to life. It’s never an easy thing to kill another, it makes you sick inside.”

“ What are we going to do now?” he asked.

“ Well, me and Scott are going to start up a ranch of our own. How about the three of us do that together? I can teach you how to train horses.” Johnny explained.

“ Can I have my own horse?” Michael asked.

“ You’re what…four?”

“ Yes sir. I’ll be five in the fall.”

“ Well…..when you are seven, I will get you a good horse.” Johnny said. “ But you have to earn him, and do as I say with him.”

“ I’m a hard worker.” Michael said.

“ I want you to meet a very good friend of mine.” Johnny said. “ Walk with me to the barn?”

“ Sure. Who is he and why’s he in the barn?”

“ Well, he’s a horse I caught and broke when he was three, so he’s been my amigo for thirteen years now.” Johnny said.

“ That means he’s sixteen.” he said. “ Yep, Barranca and me have been through a lot together.”

“ Barranca? What kind of name is that?”

“ It means a narrow, winding river gorge.” Johnny explained as he opened the barn door. “ He’s in that stall at the end.”

Michael walked to the back stall with Johnny. “ He’s beautiful.”

Johnny opened the stall gate. “ Come hold out your hand and let him smell you.”

Michael held out his hand and laughed when Barranca started licking it. “ I want a horse like him Papa.”

“ Okay, we’ll look for one for you when we get that ranch I told you about.” Johnny said.

Scott walked outside to find his brother sitting on the porch steps. “ He finally fell asleep.” he said as he sat down next to him.

“  You’ve done a good job raising him these first three years. Thank you.” Johnny said.

“ I raised him the way I figured you would want him to be brother.” Scott said. “ She was brought here by my grandfather wasn’t she?”

“ Why you say that?” Johnny asked.

“I seen the look in your eyes when Gabe asked you. The way you looked at me.” he said.

“ He did. She said he paid her nicely to kill me. I was stupid enough to fall right into his trap.” Johnny said.

“ You had no way of knowing.” Scott said.

“ He needs to be stopped.” Johnny said. “ You know he’s not going to stop as long as I’m alive?”

“ I do. We need to tell Gabe, and have him arrested.” Scott suggested.“ So you have any idea’s on where you want to start this ranch?”

“ Montana. They say the land up there is greener than anywhere else. Lot of timber to build, wild horses running all over.” Johnny said.

“  Winter can be cold, it snows in Montana.” Scott said.

“ We arrive in the spring, that would give us time before the snows to build a cabin.” he said.

“ Montana huh. That’s a fare distance away.” Scott said. “ Or is that what you’re wanting to do….distance yourself from here?”

“ Mostly. I figure up there nobody will know who Johnny Madrid is.” he said. “ Everything we would need we can get from the land.”

“ Can I ask what part of Montana you want to build this ranch in?”

“ I figured we could take the train up to eastern Montana and start searching from there.” Johnny said.

“ Okay, but let me ask you this brother…How are we going to buy this land?” Scott asked.

“ I’ve got money. I’ve been saving it since I came back to Lancer. Last time I checked I had almost seven thousand plus what I had before I came to Lancer.” Johnny said. “ I recon I’ve got around twenty thousand in the bank.”

“ You’ve been saving all these years for a ranch?” Scott asked with shock.

“ Why are you so shocked Boston?” Johnny asked.

“ I……I didn’t know until now having your own ranch meant that much to you Johnny.”

“ It has since I seen a big estancia in Mexico. I decided then I was going to someday have one too.” Johnny said. “ Pretty stupid for someone like me to think I have a right to have huh?”

“ No……Johnny, you have every right to have a ranch, and I don’t want to ever……ever hear you say something like that again.” Scott ordered. “ I would be proud to help you achieve that dream.”

“ Partners?” Johnny asked as he held out his hand.

“ Partners. Fifty, fifty right down the line.” Scott said as he shook his brothers hand. “ So when do we start this adventure?  It snows early in Montana. We head up there now and we’ll end up stuck in Missoula for the winter.”

“ You afraid of snow now brother?”

“ No. I just know how cold it can get in the winter.” he said.

“ We can get a place in Stockton until spring. Get out of Aggie’s hair. We’ve imposed on her long enough.”

“ We need to talk to her about that. I’ll go see if she will come out here and talk to us.” Scott said as he stood up.

Johnny stood up and stepped down off the porch to look up at the stars. He couldn’t believe how much his son looked like him except for having brown eyes, that he thanked god for.

“ Johnny.” Scott said as he walked outside with Agatha.

Johnny walked back over to the porch. “ Mrs. Conway, we can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done for us by letting us stay here.” he said.

“ I’ve enjoyed having someone in the house with me Johnny. Your son is a remarkable young man.” Agatha said.

“ Yes ma’am he is. We’re leaving in the spring for Montana to start a ranch of our own. We’ll be leaving tomorrow for Stockton to spend the winter. We’ve imposed on you long enough.” he said.

“ Imposed on me. Let me tell you something Johnny, I have been so happy having your son, brother and his wife staying here. I’ve had nobody since Henry died. I will not permit you to go live in Stockton in some hotel for the winter. You will stay right here….and that’s final.” Agatha said firmly.

Johnny smiled. “ Yes ma’am. One thing I learned a long time ago, never argue with a strong willed woman. We’ll stay.”

“ Mollie, what are you doing in Stockton?” Harlan asked.

“ Catching the train to go back to Boston where I should have stayed.” she said.

“ Is Scotty with you?” he asked.

“ No, I divorced him. He chose that…..that half-breed brother over me. I’m the one who raised that child from birth, and he allows him to come back and take him away from me. I want nothing to do with Scott ever again.” she spat with anger.

“ You were raising his son?” Harlan asked.

“ Yes Harlan, I was. That child didn’t deserve to be thrown in an orphanage because of his mother dying giving birth to him, and his irresponsible father.” she said firmly. “ I should have known when Scott refused to let him call him his father or me his mother Johnny would be coming back. I should have left with Michael while he was gone.”

“ So instead of fighting for what you want… You choose to run away? My Scotty is better off without you in his life.” Harlan said. “ You’re weak.”

“ Better get onboard young lady.” the conductor said.

“ Thank you.” Mollie said. “ Mister Garrett…….I fully understand why Scott wanted to get away from you. You sir are heartless, and I don’t care to ever see you again.”

Harlan stood there in shock as he watched Mollie board the train, and pull out. Turning he headed back to his office.

Scott walked out of the house to find his brother coming out of the barn. He could tell something was wrong by the way his brother was walking. “ Johnny….what’s wrong?”

“ He’s gone.” Johnny said softly.

“ Who’s gone?” Scott asked.

“ Barranca……..He’s gone.” he said. “ I was brushing him……all the sudden he started trembling, collapsed and died.”

“ What….oh Johnny…….I’m so sorry.” Scott said.

“ He was old. His heart probably gave out.” Johnny said

“  That may be, but it still hurts losing someone you love, and I know what he meant to you.” Scott said softly.

“ He wouldn’t have made the trip in the spring, so it’s best he died here.” Johnny said.

Johnny and Scott sat in the saloon in Morro Coyo drinking a cold beer and playing poker with Steve and Josh from the ranch.

“ Johnny, can I have a word with you?” Vicky asked.

“Vicky, I’m busy right now.” Johnny said.

“ Please, after this hand?” she asked before walking over to the bar.

“ Isn’t she the owner of that whore house in Spanish Wells?” Steve asked.

“ She was. She closed it down after what happened to you.” Josh said.

Johnny looked at his hand and sighed. “ I’m out.” he said as he tossed his cards down, stood up and walked over to the bar.

“ Tequila.” he said. “ So what do you want?”

“ I want to apologize to you for what Shannon did to you.” Vicky said. “ I feel responsible for it in some way and I wanted you to know I closed down and I’m going back to Texas.”

“ It wasn’t your fault. She was paid by someone to do what she did. You had nothing to do with it.” Johnny said.

“ Maybe, but still………..I’ll see you.” she said before walking out.

“ How far is it to Montana?” Michael asked. As they waited to board the train.

“ I’m guessing about fourteen hundred miles. We’ll be on the train five days.” Johnny said.

 “ You excited?” Scott asked.

“ A little. Who’s that?” Michael asked.

Scott turned around to find his grandfather standing there. “ What do you want?” he demanded with anger.

“ I was hoping to talk to you. I heard you were leaving for Montana, and just wanted to see you and maybe talk.” Harlan said.

“ We have nothing to talk about.” Scott said.

“ I’m moving back to Boston.”

“ That means nothing to me.”

Johnny walked over to them. “ We know it was you who hired Jasper, and Shannon to try and kill me. Let me tell you something old man….There’s only one reason your sorry ass isn’t in prison right now…..If we ever see you again….I’ll finish what you started.”

“  A horse ranch in Montana. Do you really expect a killer like you to have something like that?” Harlan demanded.

“ Where we are going is none of your business old man. You stay the hell away from me and my brother.” Johnny said with coldness in his voice.

“ All aboard!” a man yelled.

“ See, I’m going to let you live with the thought of me coming after you, and I will come after you if anything happens again. So you keep that in mind.”  Johnny said before walking away to board the train.

“ He’s finally asleep.” Johnny said.

“ He lasted longer than I thought he would.” Scott said.

“ Yeah, seeing all this new country has him excited.” Johnny said. “ I still can’t believe I have a son. You’ve done a damn good job raising him for me Scott. I’m forever beholden to you.”

“ That’s what brothers do. So…about this ranch we are about to venture on building up. It’s going to be a lot of work for just the two of us” Scott said. “ You going to hire help?”

“ I thought about it. If we can find help. If not, then it will be the two of us building it.” Johnny said. “ I figure a couple wagons with good strong horses, and some saddle mounts.”

“ Have you given any thought to the Indians?” he asked.

“ I have. We’ll find out from the army what we have to expect.” Johnny said.

“ Yeah, it’s only been a couple years since Little Bighorn.” Scott responded.

“ I think I’ll try and get some sleep.” Johnny said.

“ Alright brother. I’ll see you in the morning.” Scott said.

Four days later the brothers stepped off the train in Missoula. “ Let’s get a room at the hotel, clean up, eat, and get a good night’s rest before we go talk to whoever is in charge at the fort.” Scott suggested.

“ Sounds good to me.” Johnny said. “ I could use a good hot bath, and I know this young man needs one too.”

“  So the two of you and your son want to start a horse ranch here in Montana?” Captain Wilson asked.

“ Yeah.” Johnny said.

“ Where you come from?” Lieutenant Moss asked.

“ California.” he said.

“  So you figured you and your son would come to Montana and live?”  the lieutenant asked.

“ And my brother. Is that a problem?” Johnny asked.

“ Most of the white men who are coming here, are doing so for gold.” he said.

“ Have no interest in digging in the ground for gold, Captain. Just raising horses and some cattle.” Johnny said.

“ There is a place already built a couple years ago by a man and his wife. It’s forty thousand acres the man purchased from Chief Red Cloud down along the Montana, Wyoming border.” the captain said. “ Charles Rodney’s widow Ann is looking to sell it. She’s staying with the White’s at their mercantile, and teaches school.”

“There’s an old man named Joe you’ll find at the saloon. He worked for her and speaks Sioux.” he said. “ He can take you out there and show you the place. Just look for him at the end of the bar. He wears a buckskin coat.”

“ I appreciate your information Captain Wilson.” Johnny said as he shook the man’s hand.

“  Madrid……I thought you were killed years ago in Mexico?”  Lieutenant Moss said. “ You still as deadly with that gun on your hip?”

“ Look……I just want too…..”

“ Relax. I was a private when I seen you for the first time down at Apache Wells. You saved my father’s life. I never thought I would get a chance to thank you.” the lieutenant said as he offered his hand. “ You remember?”

“ I do. How is your father?” Johnny asked as he shook the man’s hand.

‘ He was killed at Little Bighorn.” he said.

“ I’m sorry to hear that.” Johnny said before walking out, headed back to the hotel.

“ Where you been?” Scott said.

“ Couldn’t sleep so I went and talked to the army. The captain told me of a ranch for sale. The owner died last year, and his widow is looking to sell it.” Johnny responded. “ She teaches school and stays at the mercantile with the White’s.”

“ Let’s go talk to her.” Scott said.

“ I figured we would eat breakfast and then buy a couple riding horses.” he suggested.

“ There it is, the Rodney spread.” Joe said. “ Forty thousand acres of prime land.”

“ There any stock still on the land?” Johnny asked.

“ He had about a hundred head of prime Hereford cattle and the last time I was here there were about two hundred horses.” Joe said.

Johnny smiled as he looked down at the cabin with several outbuildings to the left of it. Several corrals had been built behind the barn.  A small fenced off area off the side of the cabin told Johnny a garden had been there at one time.

“ I know two other men who are good strong, hard workers. They worked here for Charlie.” Joe said.

“ I figured six hands would be enough, so anyone else you know, we can use two more. I’ll pay a dollar a day, Sundays off, but I expect a fare days work for a fare days pay.” Johnny said.

“ You know of anyone who would be interested in being a cook?” Scott asked.

“ I can ask around. Someone who would help watch the boy too I expect while you’re out working?” he asked.

“ Yeah.” Johnny said. “ Let’s go on down and get these pack horses unloaded.”

“ All that ours pa?” Michael asked.

“ All three of us son. You, me and Uncle Scott.” Johnny said as they rode down the hill to the house. Riding into the barn he dismounted and helped Michael down. “ Joe  why don’t you get started clearing the cobwebs from these stalls so the horses can be took care of while me and Scott take a look at the cabin?”

“ Okay. It won’t take long so after I’ll set to fixing that corral too for the pack horses to go in.” Joe said as he dismounted.

Johnny opened the door to the cabin and stepped inside. Walking over to the windows he opened this inside shutters to let the light in.

“ Up on that hill looking down here, I never thought I would see anything more beautiful than……….I’ll start making a repair list. The roof looked like it might need a couple places fixed before it rains.” Scott said and suggested.

“ Yeah. I seen a freight wagon out back with a broken wheel. You and Joe can go back to town and get what’s needed tomorrow while me and Michael start fixing things and cleaning.” Johnny suggested.

“ I get the feeling Joe is happy to be back here.” Scott said.

“ Yeah. He knows this ranch, so he can show us around.” Johnny said as he checked the water pump in the kitchen.

“ You happy to have sold the ranch finally Ann?” Martha asked.

“  I am I guess.” she said. “ Charlie would be happy someone bought it to do what he wanted to do.”

“ They seem like very nice.” Martha said. “ They’re brothers, but don’t look like brothers.”

“ No they don’t.” Ann said.

“ The little boy said his mother died giving birth to him. He’s four and seems very smart, and polite.” Martha said.

“  I expect he will be starting school next year?” Ann said.

“ They’re going to be needing someone to cook and clean for them. I can’t see men keeping that place clean and cooking.” Jim said.

“ Perhaps Bess would be interested in the job?” Martha suggested.

“ She was looking for a job, and she’s good with children.” Ann said.

“ When they come back in for supplies, I’ll make the suggestion to them.” Jim said.

“ Did you notice how Johnny wears his gun low on his hip?” Ann asked.

“ How a man wears his gun can tell a lot about him.” Martha said. “ But not always.”

“ I just have a feeling there’s something about him…..his past maybe.” she said before leaving.

“ I expect Cora is a little smitten with the young man.” Martha’s husband said.

“ She just met the man. She couldn’t possibly be smitten with him.” Martha said.

“ Why not? I was with you.” her husband said with a smile.

“ Pa, riders coming.” Michael said.

Johnny dropped the hammer and wiped the sweat from his face as he walked over toward the riders.

“ Howdy…..Names Bill Howell, and this here is George Watkins.”

“ Light and come sit in the shade. I’m Johnny, and this is my son Michael.”

“ Thanks. I own the Bar C ranch at the north end of the valley adjacent to your land. George owns the Watkins Creek ranch at the end of Hebgen lake. We heard Mrs. Rodney sold the place to two brothers from California. We had planned to stop by and say welcome sooner.  I have some of your stock mixed in with mine. Bulls and she stock I can have cut out next month when we start spring round-up.”

“ You brand those calves born last year?” Johnny asked.

“ Are you…..”

“ No…..I’m  not. Any calves born this year will most likely be sired by both our bulls, so you have your men fix the fence that I’m sure is down at that end, and we’ll call it even.” Johnny said. “ Any of your stock I find on my land, I’ll return to you or whoever’s brand they wear.”

“ Fare enough. You’ve done ranching elsewhere I take it?” Bill asked.

“ I’ve done my share.” Johnny said.

“ How about you young man, do you have a horse?” George asked.

“ I’m gonna get me one to break and train as soon as pa says I’m old enough.”

“ A boy should have a good horse.” Bill said.

“ Pa had a good horse, Barranca. He was sixteen, but died before we came here.” Michael said. “ He caught and broke him when he was three.”

“ Thirteen years is a long time to have a good horse. You listen to your pa, and take good care of your horse, and he’ll take good care of you.”

“ That’s what pa said too.” Michael said.

“ Well, we best be heading on home. My wife Laura might start worrying.” Bill said as he mounted up. “ It was good to meet you.”

“ I’m glad someone bought this place who knows how to ranch.” George said.

“ You and your brother getting settled in?” Jim White asked.

“ Yes sir.” Scott said.

“ What can I get you?”

“ Well, we need five pounds sugar, flour, salt, beans, coffee, lard, butter, ten pounds of pork, bacon and salt beef.” Scott said. “ And a couple dozen eggs.”

“ Alright. It will take me some time to put it together. I can have it delivered to you in a couple days.” Jim said.

“ That would be fine.” Scott said.

“ Will you be paying as you go?”

“ Yes sir. I’ll take some boxes of forty five, and forty four forty cartridges, a couple shovels, axes, and saws.” Scott added.

“ Okay. I can let you have the cartridges now.” he said as he set four boxes on the counter. “ The other you’ll have to get down at the hardware.”

“ What do I owe you?”

“ Lets see…..that will be twenty five dollars even.” Jim said. “ Me and the misses were talking and we were wondering if you and your brother would be needing a woman to cook, clean, and watch the boy while you work?”

“ As a matter of fact we are. Do you know of someone who might be interested in the job?” Scott asked as he paid for the supplies.

“ The widow Bess Evans. She’s right good with children and a good cook too. You can find her down at the boarding house.”

“ Much obliged.” Scott said before heading out and down to get lumber and roofing shingles.

To: Chapter 11 – Research Notes


Chapter 12

“ Looks like you put in a hard day’s work brother.” Scott said as they ate supper that night.

“ Yeah. We had visitors today. A Bill Howell from the Bar C, and George Watkins from the Watkins Creek ranches.” Johnny said.

“ I know Bill, and George. Real nice men. Bill and his wife came here twenty years ago. Got himself a nice place.” Joe said. “ George has been here fifteen years.”

“ Oh, I found us a housekeeper. A real nice lady named Bess Evans. She’ll be coming out by weeks end.” Scott said.

“ Good. I want to start building a bunk house for ten men to sleep in.”

“ Where will she stay?” Michael asked.

“ Well son, she’ll be sleeping in one of the three bedrooms down here.”

“ Will she be taking care of me when you’re out working?”

“ She will, and I expect you to be good for her. Do what she ask of you. Can you do that for me?”

“ I will pa.”

“ Maybe you could help her get that garden cleaned out and started.” Scott suggested.

“ Did you pick up those books I asked you too get?” Johnny asked.

“ I did.” Scott said as he stood up and walked over to his saddlebags, pulling out three books, he walked over and handed them to Johnny.

“ In the evenings after your chores are finished, I want us to sit and you are going to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic.”

“ But pa, I already know how to read and write.”

“ I know you do, but I want you to keep learning son. I want you having the education I didn’t have. I want you to be able to know if the words on a poster means a man is running for office, or from the law.” he explained.

“ So you want me to be like Uncle Scott?” Michael asked.

“ Yes. Now start cleaning up the dishes.”

“ Joe, what kind of game we have for meat around here?” Scott asked.

“ Elk and deer.” he said. “ Got predators too. Grizzlies, Cougars, Bobcats, and Lynx. Grizzlies hibernate late fall. They can bring down a horse, or even a steer if given the chance.”

“ We need a root cellar to store meat for the winter, so we need to make sure it’s as bear proof as possible.” Scott said.

“ There’s already one off the kitchen.” Joe said. “ I thought you seen the door to it.”

“ No, haven’t checked everything yet.”

“ A year from now this place is going to look so much different.” Joe said.

“ Tomorrow I want to ride out and take a look at some of this land we now own.” Johnny said. “ Find out where we have year round water and such for the stock.”

“ You have three good rivers that run year round unless it gets so cold they freeze over completely. Jefferson, Gallatin and Madison form the start of the Missouri river.”

“ Hello Mister Garrett.” Teresa said.

“ Do I know you young lady?”

“ Teresa O’Brian. I was Murdoch’s ward.”

“ Oh yes, please forgive me. What are you doing in Boston?”

“ I’m here to see some doctors about a sickness I have.”

“ Not serious I hope?”

“ That’s what I’m here to find out.” she said. “ I’m seeing a Doctor Oliver Wendell Holmes.”

“ I know Doctor Holmes. He is a very good man. Can I ask where you are staying while in Boston?”

“  At a hotel a couple miles away.”

“ Why don’t you stay at my house while here. It’s only blocks to the University, and my driver can take you to and from where you need to go.”

“ I can’t impose on you like that Mister Garrett.”

“ I’m a feeble, lonely old man. With my Scotty not wanting anything to do with me anymore, I would welcome the company.”

“ Scott’s not talking to you anymore?”

“ I’m afraid not. He is in Montana with his half-breed brother starting up a ranch there it would seem. I tried to reconcile with him, I even moved out to that godforsaken state to be closer to him.”

“  And he still wanted nothing to do with you?”

“ I tried the day they left on the train, but his…….I decided to come back to Boston since there was nothing in California for me anymore.”

“  What the hell is that stuff?” Joe demanded as he coiled his rope back up.

“ Well my little brother and Mike are covered in what would be petroleum.” Scott said with a laugh.

“ What the hell is petroleum?”

“ Oil, they make kerosene with it.” Scott said. “ And asphalt to pave the streets.”

“ Is it worth anything?” Johnny asked.

“ Enough you can do everything you want to do to this ranch.”

“ What are you going to do?”

“ I want to get a fence around it. I don’t want stock getting in there again.”

“ I see you two made it through your first Montana winter.” Bill Howell said.

“ Yeah. Lost some stock, but we managed.” Johnny said.

“ I understand you put feed piles out for your stock so they had food through the winter?” he asked.

“ Made getting it to them easier than trying to haul it through the snow.” Scott said.

“ I just might have to do that. Lose any stock to wolves?”

“ Found two dead steers but not sure if they were brought down by wolves or died from the winter.”

“ There’s a pack running to the northeast of your property that seems to come around in the winter.” Bill said. “ They showed up in the valley about four years ago. Usually kill elk, but have taken a liking to killing stock in the winter when the snow is deep.”

“ We’ll be building some line-shacks to stay in and watch.”

“ That’s good thinking. The government is paying ten dollars a hide.”

“ That’s a lot of money. A man could make a hundred dollars or more in a winter.” Scott said.

“ We going to name this ranch or keep the name Crazy Woman?” Scott asked.

“ I was thinking S and J.” Johnny said.

“ S and J…….how about J and S instead brother.” he asked. “ It’s been your lifelong dream to own. It should be your name first.”

Johnny smiled. “ I never thought I would…….we would have something so beautiful.”

“ Everywhere you look it is beautiful.” Scott said.

“ Tell me something, you ever think the two of us would be here….in Montana?”

“ After all that has happened…no I didn’t.” he said.

“ We’ve both lost loved ones and things we cared about, but in the end, it’s what you have and who you have that is all that matters.” Johnny said. “ And that would be you and my son. Making this ranch work comes second.”

“ Same here brother. Same here.”

“ I never knew……You know….when I came back to Lancer….I had my doubts about how he really felt about me when he learned who I became. I guess when I screwed up and slept with Teresa, that was the match that lit the fuse for him telling me how he really felt about me.” Johnny said. “ Those words haunt me still, and I think that if you hadn’t been there…..I would have killed him.”

“ You were hurt and angry, and had every right to be. No father has a right to talk to their own son like that. You’re not a cold-blooded killer Johnny…..I know that in my heart. You wouldn’t have killed him.”

“ Wanna hear something crazy……Just once I would have liked to have heard him say how proud he was of me……..Hell…….I still do.” Johnny said.

“ If………and I say if he rode up here right now……..What would you say to him?”

“ You mean besides asking him what he wants?…………I’d ask him why……….why he’s here, and what he wants?”

“ Would you let him see his grandson?”

“ I won’t put my son between our disagreement, and I won’t allow him to be used as a pawn either. He has to earn my respect again, and I doubt that will ever happen.” Johnny said before walking away.

“ Murdoch….it’s been a long time.”

“ Bill, what in tarnation you doing here?” Murdoch asked as the two men shook hands. “ I didn’t think you would ever leave Montana. Let alone come to California.”

“ Well, I figured twenty years was long enough, and since I couldn’t get you to come see me at my ranch in Montana, I would come see you.” Bill said. “ And meet those two boys you said finally came home.”

“ Come on inside.” Murdoch said. “ It’s been twenty years?”

“ It has.” Bill said. “ Your boys out working?”

“ They’re gone. Scotch?”

“ Sure. After all your searching….what happened? You sounded so happy to have them both home finally.”

“ I’ve asked myself that very question so many times, Bill.” Murdoch said as he poured two scotch and handed him one.

“ Well….why don’t you start at the beginning.”

Murdoch sighed as he walked over to the big bay window and looked out. “ I used to think this ranch was the most important thing in my life.” he said softly before telling Bill what happened.

“ Sounds like you regret what was said and happened.” Bill said.

“ In part I do. I never meant to say those words to him Bill. My god, my own son.”

“ Murdoch, there isn’t a man alive who is perfect. Who hasn’t made a mistake of some kind that he has to live to regret doing. And that includes me. I was married to Cora four years and I cheated on her. She found out and we almost ended it, but we stuck it out, and I gained her trust again. I’ve been loyal to her ever since.”

“ He’s gone, and I have nobody to blame but myself.”

“ Have you tried to reconcile with him or Scott?”

“ I tried, but my anger got the better of me when I seen him again three years later.”

“ That Scottish pride of yours.”

“ How’s your new neighbors who bought that ranch?”

“ Both men are hard workers. They’ve got that place cleaned up and running, changed the name from California…………Oh my…….Murdoch….do you know where your boys went when they left?”

“ No, and anyone who does is not telling me.”

“ I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before.”

“ What are you going on about Bill?”

“ What was Catherine’s last name before she married you?”

“ Garrett.”

“ Garrett, and Johnny’s is Madrid………right?”

“ Yes.”

“I know where they’re at.”

“ Who?”

“ Your boys…….Scott and Johnny. They bought Crazy Woman ranch and call it J and S. I know it’s them. Johnny has a ten year old boy looks like him except for having brown eyes. They got off the train looking to purchase land and fell into forty thousand acres down along the Montana, Wyoming border. They’ve been working hard to build it up to a cattle and horse ranch.” Bill explained. “ Place was run down, but they dug in and cleaned it up.  Hell they even taught me a thing or two I didn’t know. That boy Johnny……..why you know he had the smarts his first winter to make sure they had feed out as easy access for the stock so they could feed them. The snow gets so deep sometimes and drifts so deep a wagon can’t get thru. He split his herds in sections and only lost a few to the elements and wolves.”

“ You sure it’s them?”

“ I’m positive it’s them, Murdoch.”

“ Scott must have bought the ranch.”

“ Nope,  Johnny bought it. Ann Rodney’s husband died and she’d been trying to sell it. He got the whole thing for five thousand dollars.” Bill said.

“ How come you didn’t buy it?”

“ And expand my ranch……Like you I’m not getting any younger. I didn’t need to add on another forty thousand acres of fence maintenance to my hands.”

“ You’re getting soft.”

“ Come back with me Murdoch. Come back and try and make peace with your boys.”

“ When I started Lancer, it was to leave a legacy for my children, and grandchildren. I have a grandson I haven’t seen since he was three. I spent Johnny’s childhood looking for him and not being a part of his life growing up. You know….I would sell Lancer if it meant being back in my boys lives again. I have nobody to leave it too now.”

“ Well, I’m going back in a week. Do some thinking about coming back with me.”

“ I’m going to sell Lancer, Bill. I’m seventy years old, and have nobody to leave it too. If the boys have a ranch of their own in Montana, they’re not going to want this.” Murdoch said.

“ I can’t tell you what to do my friend. All I can ask is that you make sure it’s what you really want to do.”

“ It is. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time now.”

“ What will you do?”

“ Sell it and move to Montana to be closer to my sons and grandson. I’ll meet you in Bozeman in the fall.”

“ I want to leave at first light in the morning to get that herd down by noon.” Johnny said.

“ I’ll have breakfast ready for you and lunch when you come back.” Mrs. Evans said.

“  Michael, I’ll let you go, but only if you’re up and have your chores done for Mrs. Evans before we leave.”

“ I will. I’ll have the eggs gathered and the cow milked, and the stock fed.”

“ You best turn in now.”

“ Alright pa. Night.”

“ I think I’ll turn in as well.” Joe said.

“ Michael say anything to you about what he wants for his birthday?”

“ Not directly, but I think he’s wanting a rifle of his own.”

“ I was ten the first time I picked up a gun. By the time I was thirteen, I had a reputation started.”

“ He would have a damn good teacher to teach him the rights and wrongs of using a gun. Personally, I think he could use his own horse now to train.”

“ That’s what I was thinking along the lines of. There’s some yearlings in that herd we’re going after tomorrow. I’ll see how he does choosing one once we get them down here.”

“ Johnny should be coming out of the tree-line soon with the herd.” Sid said.

“ I’m glad he took his son on this one. The boy is eager to learn horses.” Scott said.

“ There they are. Just coming out of the trees.” Sid said as he pointed.

“ Scott.”

“Mister Howell, what……….what are you doing here?”

“ Take it easy Scott. He’s here at my doing.” Bill said. “ I didn’t know you and Johnny were his sons until I went to visit him. He’s here to try and make amends with you both and see his grandson.”

“ You know him?”

“ I’ve known your father since before you were born. We came out west together over thirty years ago. I came as far as Montana, and he went on to California.” Bill said.

“ That’s all good and well, but……..”

“ Scott please…..I know I’ve made mistakes. Huge mistakes I wish to god I could change, but I can’t. I don’t deserve forgiveness from either of you.” Murdoch said.

“ Get down and come sit on the porch. Johnny’s up on the mountain.”

“ He bringing a herd down?”

“ He is. They just cleared the trees.” Sid said as he pointed.

Murdoch looked and could make out a huge herd of horses coming down the mountain. “My god.” he said aloud.

“ That’s not even half of the horses we have.” Scott said.

“ I thought you men might like something to drink so I brought you some lemonade I made fresh this morning.” Mrs. Evans said as she set the tray down.

“ Murdoch, this is our housekeeper, and cook Mrs. Evans.”

“ Ma’am. Cooking for Johnny I imagine is a challenge.” Murdoch said.

“ Not really. He seems to be content with what I cook. He does have a dislike for eating his vegetables sometimes.” she said. “  Will you be staying for lunch sir?”

“ That will be up to my son ma’am.”

“ Go ahead and set a place for him at the table.” Scott said. “ I make no guarantees, but for now when Johnny gets back here, you will remain civil. If you raise your voice to him, or say anything like you did in the past, I will throw you off this land so fast, you will never see your grandson ever again. Do you understand me?”

“ I haven’t traveled all this way, doing what I have done, to blow it now.”

Johnny reined his horse around and watched Michael keeping the herd tight on the right.

“ He’s got good horse instincts.” Joe said.

“ Yeah. Reminds me of me when I was his age.” he said. “ Lets pick up the pace. I want a hot bath.”

“ You bet.” Joe said before riding toward the back of the herd as Johnny rode over to his son. “ I want you to stay at the back of the herd son. I don’t want the risk of that horse going down.”  he said as he pulled his gun, he started firing in the air to get the herd moving at a gallop toward the waiting corrals.

“ I hope they have the gate open.” Mike said as he wheeled them to the left.

Johnny kicked his horse and got in front of the herd to guide them into the corral. “ Get them all in here. Mike….get that mare!”

“ Stay here.” Scott ordered before walking down to the corral.

“ Mike see to it they have plenty of food for the night. I don’t want them thinking about all that green grass they left up there.” Johnny said as he rode back out of the gate and dismounted.

“ You made good time brother.” Scott said.

“ Yeah, I pushed them a little hard to get back.”

“ He means he’s been thinking about a hot bath.” Mike said.

“ Johnny, I need to talk to you.” Scott said.

“ Take care of your horse son. I want you to rub him down real good.”

“ Yes sir. I will.”

“  So what you want to talk to me about?”

“ Bill is here, and he brought someone with him.”

“ Scott, I’m tired. I don’t feel like playing guessing games tonight brother.”

“ Before I tell you, I want your word you won’t get angry.”

“ I’m going to get angry if you don’t just spit it out.”

“ It’s Murdoch.” Scott said and then told him what Bill had said.

Johnny looked up toward the house and could see his father, the last man he ever thought he would see on his land, standing on his porch.

“ Do you believe him?”

“ I don’t know, but I do know he’s aged a lot since we seen him last Johnny. His health doesn’t look all that good.”

“ He brought it on himself.” Johnny said before walking away with his horse to the barn.

“ Supper was very good ma’am.” Murdoch said.

“ Michael, help Bess clean up and then come get to your studies.” Johnny said as he stood up.

“ It sure is beautiful here.” Murdoch said as he walked out onto the porch.

“ You wouldn’t think that in the winter with snow drifts as tall as the cabin.” Scott said.

“ Back in Scotland when I was a boy, I remember snow being deep, and the wind off the ocean cutting thru you like a knife.”

“ Boston could be like that sometimes.” Scott added.

“ I better head on back to Bills spread before it gets dark.” Murdoch said.

Johnny turned around to face his father. “ Not too good riding after dark. Especially someone who doesn’t know the valley. Grizzlies are on the hunt for food before hibernating for the winter.”

“ You mean ole three toes.” Joe said.

“ Three toes?” Murdoch asked.

“ A big male grizzly likes to kill a cow before he goes to bed for the winter. Got caught in a bear trap ten years ago and lost two toes.” Joe said. “ He’s a big sucker too. Every bit of fifteen hundred pounds.”

“ He’s old and probably doesn’t have many winters left on the mountain.” Johnny said.

“ You boys have a really nice set-up here.” Murdoch said.

“ Well…..I think I will turn in now. It was good meeting you Mister Lancer.”

“ Why did you come here?” Johnny asked as soon as Joe was gone.

“ Johnny!” Scott said, not liking his brothers tone.

“ No, it’s alright Scott. He has every right to ask.” Murdoch said. “ I had hoped that maybe after all these years we could start over. That you would give this foolish old man a second chance. I don;t have many years left to live Johnny. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these past years. When Bill showed up at Lancer and told me where you two were, I knew without a doubt what I had to do.”

“ And just what is that old man?”

“ Johnny, regardless of your feelings, he’s still our father. Keep it civil. He came here so give him a chance.” Scott ordered.

“ When I built Lancer up, it was to have something to leave to my children. Somewhere along the way, I got my priorities mixed up. Especially when you came home John. Accepting who you had become to survive, I thought I could do, but was wrong. I know that now. What I said to you that day I wish to god I could take back, but I can’t, it’s past. Bad or good, right or wrong, it’s past and gone. All I can do is ask you to see it in your heart to some day forgive me for being the fool I have been.”

“ Second chances can mean everything to some….or nothing to those who don’t care to see the good in a person. Especially a person with a past.” Johnny said. “ Your destiny is what you make of it Murdoch. I know I was wrong when I slept with Teresa, and I’ve paid for that mistake every day since. It cost me more than any man should have to pay………..But I’ve started over. I have a life I love now with a brother, and son that mean more to me than anything ever will. You want my respect and forgiveness……you have to earn it.”

“ Fair enough……..I think you should know. I want to be near my grandson, and California is too far away. I don’t want to miss anymore of him growing up……..I thought about it for a long time…..and three months ago I sold Lancer.”

“ Sold it!” Scott said with shock. “ That was your life’s work.”

“ No son…Lancer wasn’t my life’s work. I’m looking at my life’s work right here.”

Johnny leaned against the porch railing. “ We have a spare bedroom empty downstairs you can stay in if you want?”

“ I’d like that.”

“ That first time we met, you made it clear you call the tune at Lancer when we became partners. This is me and Scott’s ranch, we work together as partners in every decision made. You have no say in what is done on this ranch………but….I will allow suggestions and take them into consideration.”

“ If you don’t mind John…..I’ll leave that to you and your brother. I want to spend my time with my grandson.”

Johnny looked at his father and what he seen cut thru him like a knife. He could see how he had aged in the last fifteen years, but there was something else he seen more than that. What he seen told him his father had changed.

“ Can I help you ma’am?”

“ I’m looking for Murdoch Lancer.”

“ Well, he’s gone. Sold this ranch to me two years ago and moved to Montana to be with his sons on their ranch.”

“ He sold Lancer?” she asked.

“ Yes ma’am. You’ll find him living on the J and S ranch down on the Montana, Wyoming border outside Bozeman.” he said.

“ What do we do now mother?” the girl sitting next to her asked.

“ I thank you for your kindness.” Teresa said.

“  Just a minute. Did you used to live here?” he asked.

“ I was born on Lancer. My father was the foreman here. He’s buried up under the tree.” Teresa said.

“ There’s two graves up there. A man named Paul O’Brian and a woman named Amelia Lancer.” he responded.

“ Amelia was Johnny Lancer’s wife.” she said. “ Do you know how she died?”

“ It says in childbirth. I believe the date was twelve years ago she passed. My daughter has been taking care of the graves, putting flowers on them. So Paul was your father?”

“ Yes sir. I was nine when he was killed. I became Murdoch Lancer’s ward.”

“ You and your daughter are welcome to come in and rest if you want.”

“ Thank you, but there are too many painful memories here. I thank you for your kindness sir.” Teresa said before slapping rein.

“ What are you going to do now mother?” Sara asked.

“ Find out how much the fare will be to travel by train to Montana.”

“ As long as we never see that man from Boston again.”

“ Mister Garrett was very kind letting us stay with him while there.”

“ He speaks angry words. His heart is heavy with anger he should not have.”

“ Mister Garrett raised Scott. When Scott left him and came home to Lancer, it angered him. Catherine was his world, his everything. When she died giving birth to Scott, he blamed Murdoch for her death, when in reality it was his fault.”

“ Mike….I need you and Sid to take two teams up and dragging those trees that came down last winter down here to start cutting up for firewood.” Scott said.

“ Can I ask you a question Scott?”

“ Ask.”

“ Do you and Johnny plan on hiring a couple more men to help out. This place is growing, and the work is a bit much for five people.” Mike said.

“ I’ve talked to Johnny about that very thing, and he’s in Bozeman right now looking to hire a couple more hands.”

“ Sounds good to me.”

“ Names Eli and this is my brother Noah. We heard you’re looking for a couple hands to work your ranch?” a man asked.

“ I am. Six days a week, Sundays off. I pay a dollar a day and expect a day’s work. “ Johnny said. “ What experience do you boys have?”

“ Branding, roping, fence repair, castrating. Just about anything needing done on a ranch me and my brother have done.” Eli said.

“ Where you boys from?”

“ Amidon, North Dakota. We worked for Arthur Clark Hidekoper at the Little Missouri Cattle Company.” Noah said.

“ You leave him or were you fired?”

“ We left due to a disagreement with the foreman there on his treatment of horses.” Eli said.

“  Me and my brother run horses and cattle both. We won’t tolerate abusing an animal. I find you lied to me, and I’ll send you both packing.”

“ That mean you’ll hire us?” Noah asked.

“ It does. I have a couple things to take care of. Be ready in an hour.” Johnny said as he stood up, and started for the door.

“ Looks like Johnny found two more hands?” Sid said.

“ Johnny, I see you found some more help.” Joe said.

“ Joe, this is Eli and Noah Miller. Mike and Sid out bringing those trees down?”

“ They are. They just went back a little while ago.

“ Bunkhouse is over there. You can put your gear in there, still got a couple hours before supper so start cleaning and cutting this wood up for firewood next winter.” Johnny said.

“ Bobcat got a couple hens. Came in broad daylight and killed them.” Joe said.

“ You set traps?”

“ I did. Damn cat killed our best laying hen.”

“ The Dorking….damn. Paid five dollars for that hen. Scott inside?”

“ Yeah. He’s in there with your father.”

“ You two get to working.” Johnny said before heading inside.

“ What’s he like to work for?” Eli asked.

“ Real good. Won’t find a better man to work for.” Joe said. “ You’ll find the axes in the shed there on the wall.”

“ Pa……’re home.” Michael said.

“ Have any luck?” Scott asked.

“ Hired two brothers. Set them to start on that firewood.” Johnny said as he walked over and poured a drink. “ I sent a wire to the H and T ranch. They say that’s the last place they worked. Said a disagreement with the foreman made them leave.”

“ But you have your doubts?” Scott asked.

“ It’s more as to how they said it. That and the look in the one called Eli’s eyes.”

“ You’ve always been a good judge of character brother. If you have doubts, why hire them?”

“ Need the help and they were the only people in Bozeman looking for work.”

Teresa stepped off the train in Bozeman with her daughter, and walked to the hotel.

“ Yes ma’am, what can I do for you?”

“ Me and my daughter need a room.”

“ Very well. Just need you to sign the register.”

“ I was wondering if there is someone in town who could deliver a message for me to the J and S ranch?”

“ My son would be glad to deliver it for you ma’am.”

Teresa pulled the already written note from her purse and handed it to the man, and paid for the room.

“ There’s a water closet and bath in the room for you and the young lady. The diner is open until ten.”

“ Thank you.” she said before picking up her bag and heading upstairs.

“ What if he doesn’t want to see you?” Sara asked.

“ He’ll see me.” Teresa said as she opened the door and walked into the room. “ Let’s get cleaned up then go get something to eat.”

“ This man….does he know he’s my father?” she asked.

“ He doesn’t know about you. The last time I seen him, it wasn’t good.”

“ What is he like?”

“ Well it’s been a long time since I seen him, but back then he was wild and reckless. He was the sheriff in Prescott, Arizona.”

“ My father was a lawman?”

“ He was amongst other things. Sara, there is something I never told you about your father that I feel you need to know. Down along the Mexican border he is known as Johnny Madrid, the gunfighter.”

“ You mean the one I read about in those dime store novels?”

“ I do. When we were together….I thought he loved me, but I soon learned I was wrong. Johnny loved women, and being with women. He couldn’t and wouldn’t commit to me. We had words the night before he left to go after a man who murdered a friend of his. I chose to leave while he was gone. I didn’t know I was pregnant with you until three months later.”

“ So he never wanted to marry you?”

“ Sara…..the first time I was with your father………he was married to another woman. What we did was wrong, but I had loved Johnny for a long time and didn’t care about it being wrong at the time. Our being together cost him his home and family.”

“ Maybe he’s changed. Maybe he will want us….want you again.”

“ All we can do is wait and see.”

“ You want me to go find the doctor?”

“ No, and I don’t want you to say anything to Johnny until we know how he’s going to be.”

“ But mother……”

“ I mean it Sara….promise me.”

To: Chapter 12- Research Notes


Chapter 13

“ I almost forgot, a letter was delivered for you this afternoon.” Scott said.

Johnny took the letter and looked at it. “ Who brought it out?”

“Hardy’s son from the hotel.”

Johnny opened the envelope and read the note inside.

We need to talk. Please meet me tomorrow.


Johnny felt like he’d been kicked in the gut as he reread the note, especially the name.

“ Is something wrong Johnny?” Scott asked.

Johnny walked outside, handing his brother the note as he passed.

“ Oh no.” Scott said as he read the note.

“ Who’s it from son?” Murdoch asked.

“ Teresa……she’s in Bozeman and wants to talk to him.”

“ Teresa? How the devil did she……….Lancer.”

“ What?”

“ Lancer. She probably went there and found out.”

“ She cost him everything once. I’m not going to let her hurt him again.” Scott said before heading outside.

Johnny stood leaning against a porch post as memories from years ago flooded back to him.

“ You alright?”

“ What the hell does she want Scott?……….What the hell could she possibly want with me now?” he demanded before stepping down off the porch.

Scott sighed as he watched his brother walk off into the darkness. “ Not again Teresa.” he said as he went after his brother.

“ I don’t know what she could want. I can’t tell you what to do Johnny. All I can do is be here for you. If you want me to go with you to see her, I will.”

“ I know you’re here for me. You’ve more than proved that. I’ll see her, but it won’t be in town. I’ll have Joe take the buggy to town in the morning and bring her out here?”

“ If that’s what you want.”

“ You going to go with us pa?”

“ No, I have a visitor coming I need to see son. You go and show your grandfather and uncle how to fish. I’m looking forward to some rainbow trout for supper tonight.”

“ You going to be alright?” Scott asked.

‘ I’ll be fine. I’m not going to jump in bed with her if that’s what you’re thinking?”

“ I wasn’t, but since you brought it up….Just remember she can be persuasive.”

“ Yeah. Go catch our supper.”

“ It sure is beautiful country.” Teresa said as Joe drove the wagon under the ranch arch.

“ Yes ma’am it is.”

“ Does it snow a lot here?” Sara asked.

“ Sometimes the snow is almost up to the barn roof, but that’s usually drifts from the wind that blows good sometimes.”

“ I’ve never seen snow before.”

“ Well, you see that big mountain in the distance. That’s Emigrant Peak. It has snow on it year round and the water that runs off it is so cold, it can give you one of those headaches if you drink it too fast.”

“ It’s so green. Look at that huge lake Sara.”

Joe stopped the buggy and got down as Johnny walked out of the house.

Johnny stood on the porch watching as Joe helped Teresa climbed out of the buggy, and then a small girl with brown hair down past her waist.

“ Thanks Joe, no. That will be all.”

“ Okay, I guess I’ll ride on out and help catch supper. Young lady, ma’am.”

“ Hello Johnny.” Teresa said. “ I bet you never thought you would hear from or see me again.”

“ Teresa, Thought crossed my mind a few times.” he responded as he stepped down off the porch. “ Who’s this?”

“ This is Sara.”

“ Hello Sara.”

“ Hello. You have a beautiful ranch. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

“ Yeah, it can take your breath away.”

“ She’s never seen mountains like these, or snow before.”

“ Being it’s Sunday, I’m the only one here. Everyone is gone fishing to catch supper.”

“ I never thought I would see anyplace more beautiful than Lancer.”

“ Come on up and have a seat. I have lemonade, and I think Bess made cookies yesterday if you would like some?”

“ Bess?”

“ Our cook.”

“  You look good Johnny.”

“ Why are you here Teresa?”

“ I was shocked when I went to Lancer and learned Murdoch sold it, and moved here to be with you and Scott. I’m glad you patched things up between you.”

“ That doesn’t tell me what you want, or why you’re here Teresa.”

“ Sara, would you go outside please while I talk to Johnny?”

“ Yes ma’am.” Sara said.

“ There’s puppies in a pen out by the barn if you want to go play with them.”

Johnny watched the girl leave the house as he walked over and looked out the window. “ Okay, you got the floor.”

Teresa tried to calm her nerves. Standing up, she started looking around the cabin. That’s a huge fireplace. It must have took months for you to make it. The mantel is beautiful.”

“ I didn’t build this. Most of the buildings were already built when I bought it. The bunkhouse, big barn and four hay sheds we’ve built.”

“ I left the day after you did in Prescott. I went back to San Francisco and stayed in a boarding house while I went to nursing school. I was trying anything to take my mind off you, but little helped, especially after……..after Sara was born.”

Johnny spun around to look at her.

“ Sara is your daughter Johnny.” she said. “ I wanted her to meet her father, and felt you had a right to know you have a daughter. I want nothing from you, so please don’t think that’s why I came here.”

“ My daughter? You knew where I was, and you wait what….twelve years to tell me we have a daughter together……..Why?”

“ I know it was wrong not telling you, but you have to remember how you were back then. How you preferred to bed any woman you wanted, even when we were together. I believe your exact words to me where it was none of my business who you took to bed. That I have no claim to you. I also remember you telling me I can either accept it or not. And then they night you left me in Prescott, you called a whore. You said I became a whore the night we made love in the cabin.”

“ I’m perfectly aware of what I said to you. You played me that night, and cost me everything……..but it’s more my fault than yours. I know that now. I was married, something you clearly cared nothing about. We both got what we wanted that night, and every time after. I just never expected you to get with child.”

“ I know Amelia died giving birth. Can I ask what she had?”

“ I have a son.” Johnny said as he walked over next to her. “ Does she know who I am?”

“ She does. She knows Johnny Madrid is her father. I’ve never kept it from her. She had every right to know.”

“ To know?”

“ She knows Johnny Madrid……..the gunfighter is her father.”

“ Nobody in Montana knows who I was. I’ve lived a peaceful life here raising my son, and building this ranch up.” Johnny said as he walked over and poured a shot.

“ I have no intentions of changing that for you Johnny……I just wanted……..”

“ Tell him mother……..Either you tell him all of it…..or I will.” Sara said as she stood in the door.

“ Sara hush!”

“ No mother. Don’t do this to him……please!” Sara said with tears in her eyes.

“ Tell me what?”

“ Mother is dying. She has leukemia…..She’s dying, and she came here hoping you would take me in so I wouldn’t end up in an orphanage.”

“ Sara stop………enough…..please. I asked you to not say anything.”

Johnny stared at Teresa. “ You’re dying…..How long?”

Teresa looked into his blue eyes as tears welled up in hers. Turning around, unable to speak.

“ The doctors don’t know for sure.” Sara said.

Johnny downed the shot and clenched the shot glass in his right hand a few seconds before throwing it into the fireplace, shattering it into a million pieces. “ Damn you.” he said before walking outside.

“ I wonder how it’s going for your brother?”

“ Here comes Joe, maybe he knows.” Scott said.

“ I doubt it. Johnny probably had him leave right away.” 

“ You all catch any fish yet?” Joe asked.

“ Two. They’re biting good today.” Murdoch said.

“ How’s Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ He was fine when I left. Took the young lady and child inside to talk.”

“ Child?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes sir. A beautiful little girl.”

“ What did she look like?”

“ Beautiful brown eyes, and brown hair down to her waist. Right petite little lady. She’s never seen mountains like ours or snow until today.” Joe said before walking over to fish.

“ You thinking?” Murdoch asked.

“ That the girl is Johnny’s? She could have met someone else and married after she left Prescott.”

“ Joe…… old would you say the girl is?” Murdoch asked.

“ About twelve.”

“ Damn. It makes no sense for her to keep it from him for all those years.” Murdoch said.

“ We don’t know what’s going on, and unless Johnny wants us to tell us, we have no right knowing.” Scott said firmly.

Johnny stood on the porch with his arms wrapped tightly around him as his body started to shake.

“ Johnny.” Teresa said.

“ Are they sure?” he asked with a quiver in his voice.

“ Yes. Doctor Holmes said my symptoms all point to me having what they call  leukemia.” she said.

Johnny turned to face her. He didn’t care if she seen the tears in his eyes. “ What are your plans?”

“ To make sure Sara is taken care of. Johnny…….I’m sorry to do this to you, but I have nobody else. I went to Lancer to see if Murdoch would……..I did a lot of thinking, and it was Sara who talked me into finding you. She wanted to meet you, get to know you. Have the three of us spend some time together while I’m still able to do things.”

“ What do you mean?”

“ The doctors said as it progresses, I’ll become weaker, get cold, there will be days I won’t want to get out of bed.”

“ Who’s going to take care of you when you get sicker?”

“ I’ll probably be in one of those hospitals they stick dying people in.”

“ Like hell you are. If you think I’m going to allow the mother of my child die alone in some hospital somewhere… think wrong. I’ll take you back to town tomorrow to get whatever you have at the hotel and bring you back here. I have two empty bedrooms downstairs you and Sara can use.”

“ I’m getting sick of him bossing me around.”

“ Sick of who Eli?” Noah asked.

“ Madrid. Do this, do that. I’m sick of being ordered around.”

“ Look…..I like Johnny. He’s a good man. Don’t go screwing this up for us.”

“ You like working for a dollar a day doing back breaking work?”

“ We get a roof over our heads, food, and Sunday’s off. Yeah I like working for him.”

“ Gonna take more than that to keep me breaking my back for a dollar a day.”

“ Look….you cost us a good job in North Dakota. Why ya got ta be so damn mean to horses?”

“ That jug-head got what she deserved, and I’ll bet every damn horse that crosses me.”

Murdoch and Scott sat looking at Teresa in disbelief after hearing her tell them about her leukemia.

“ Teresa will be living here.” Johnny said. “ I won’t have her going to some hospital to die alone. I’m going to take her back to town tomorrow to get what they have at the hotel. Her and Sara will be staying in two of the bedrooms down here.”

“ Why do I get the feeling there’s more brother?”

“ Because there is. Sara is my daughter.”

“ Your daughter?”

“ You heard me.”

“ When do you plan on telling Michael he has a sister son?”

“  In the morning.”

“ How long?” Murdoch asked.

“ To live…….The doctors don’t know. Mister Garrett is the one who told me you left with Scott, that the two of you were going to start a ranch up together. I remember you told me once you liked Montana, and I can see why. It really does take your breath away.”

“ Yeah, that it does.” Johnny said.

“ That Mister Garrett is a lonely, angry man.” Sara said.

“ Unfortunately young lady, my grandfather would rather be angry instead happy. He’s taken some drastic measures to try and get me to go back to Boston to live.”

“ I could never live there. Living here is so much better. There’s no noise, and I can see beauty everywhere I look.”

“ Sara, why don’t you go ahead and go to bed. I’ll be alright.”

“ I think I’ll turn in as well.” Scott said as he walked over and gave Teresa a kiss on the cheek. “ It’s good to see you again.”

“ And you as well Scott.”

Murdoch stood up and walked over to her. Reaching out, he pulled her into a hug. “ We’ve all made mistakes in the past, but one thing I know now for sure thanks to the boys is second chances are everything. It’s good to see you again sweetheart, and don’t you think for one minute I’m not going to spoil my granddaughter.”

“ That’s what grandparents are supposed to do.” she said.

Johnny watched as his father and brother headed upstairs. “ Care to have a brandy with me out on the porch?”

“ I’d like that.”

Johnny poured two brandy’s and walked outside with Teresa to sit and enjoy the cool evening breeze.

“ Did you ever think you would see me again?”

“ Honestly….no I didn’t. Keith told me you left Prescott and didn’t say where you were going.”

“ I hated leaving you, losing you again.”

“ I was a different person back then. Ever since Shannon tried to kill me, I haven’t been with a whore in a saloon.”

“ Who is Shannon?”

“ A gal I knew down along the border who showed up in Spanish Wells, only I didn’t know she was brought there by Harlan Garrett. She tried to kill me. Told me she had a surprise for me and to turn around. I did and she stabbed me in the back. I ended up killing her.”

“ Oh my…… had to kill a woman……..That’s terrible Johnny.”

“ I would have probably bled to death had Sam not come by right after.” he said as he stood up and walked over to the railing, turning to face her. “ You know querida, I never thought I would live this long. Back then after I screwed up my marriage…….I just didn’t care. I used you, and I used every woman I slept with after. Knowing that now don’t sit well with me. I’m sorry I ever hurt you Teresa. I never got the chance to tell Amelia that, but I want to tell you.”

“ It wasn’t all bad. We had some good times together.”

“  What’s she like….Sara?”

“ Independent and very headstrong……like her father.” she said with a smile.

“ I can say the same thing about you.” he said.

Teresa walked over to stand next to him. “ You look good Johnny. I can tell you’ve changed on the inside…….. and outside you’re still skinny, but I can tell you’ve muscled up more in your arms, and chest.”

“ Cutting firewood, and bucking hay will do that to a man.”

“ You’re the only man I was ever with……..There hasn’t been anyone else. When Sara was born, I concentrated on raising her, and going to nursing school in San Francisco. I Guess I didn’t want to take a chance on loving someone else again.”

Johnny turned to face her. Putting his right hand under her chin, he raised it up so he could look in her brown eyes. “ You deserved happiness, and because of me you never got it.”

“ I got what I asked for all those years ago when I cost you everything you had.”

“ God I was such a fool.” Johnny said before lowering his mouth, and kissing her gently on the lips before pulling her into a hug.

Teresa wrapped her arms around his waist. “ Maybe for the time I have left……..we can try again?”

“ One day at a time.” Johnny said. “ That’s all we can do.”

“ So is that a yes on trying again….If not for us, then for Sara?”

Johnny smiled before he lowered his mouth to hers again, kissing her softly, he pulled her closer and slid his tongue inside her. Running his hands up and down her back as their tongues danced. Knowing the effect she could have on his body, he broke the kiss off. “ It’s been to long for me Teresa. I don;t want us to jump in bed right away.”

“I understand. I don’t either.” she said. “ I think I will turn in now. It’s been quite a day for me.”

“ Good night.  I’ll see you in the morning.”

“ Do you understand what I’m saying son?”

“ Sara is my half-sister.”

“ Sister, son. I don’t want to hear you ever call her your half-sister okay?”

“ Sorry Pa. So Teresa is sick and going to die?”

“ Yes she is. I want to know how you feel about me and her trying again?”

“ If you two got married, she would be my step-mother right?”

“ Yes, but I know she would love you like you were her own flesh and blood.”

“ I always wanted a brother, but I’ll settle for a sister.”

“ That makes me happy to hear you say that son.”

“ Is Uncle Scott ad grandpa going to be okay with it?”

“ They already know and are okay with it son.”

“ That’s Three Toes tracks. he killed this mare.” Joe said.

“ That damn grizzly is becoming a thorn in our backside.” Mike said.

“ Well, let’s take this foal back to the barn and see what Johnny wants to do with her.” Joe said.

“ Bottle feeding a foal this young is time consuming.”

“ It is, but we both know a young man who is wanting his own horse to raise.”

“ Let’s talk to Johnny about this first without Michael around.” Joe said as he mounted up. “ Put her up across my saddle here.”

Mike picked the foal up and swung her up across the saddle in front of Joe.  “ This little one can’t be but a week old.”

“ I see no brand on the mare so she must be a mustang.”

“ Rough start on life. I wonder how she managed to escape him.”

“ From the looks of the tracks around here, maybe the stallion ran him off, but left the foal. A mustang mare won’t take an orphaned foal in.”

“ We need to track that damn grizzly and kill him.”

“ Already suggested that to Johnny and he won’t do it.”

“ Well, we’re going to suggest it again. Let’s get this little one back.”

“ Johnny….Joe and Mike are coming back early.” Scott said.

“ Looks like Joe have something across his saddle.” Noah said.

“ Finish loading this wire and post up.” Johnny ordered as he removed his gloves and walked toward Joe. “ What happened?”

“ Three Toes killed her mother sometime early this morning.” Mike said.

“ From the tracks on the ground, the stallion must have ran him off, and left the foal behind.”

“ Yeah an orphaned mustang foal don’t stand a chance at surviving. She’s lucky he didn’t kill her.” Johnny said as he pulled the foal down and let her stand. “ She’s maybe a week old.”

“ You think she’ll survive?” Scott asked.

“ She can with help.” Johnny said. “ She needs milk. Eli, go bring that sorrel mare over here.”

“ Why her?” Scott asked.

“ Her foal is close to being weaned.” Johnny responded.

“ She’s a damn mustang. You should’ve put a bullet in her instead of bringing her back here.” Eli grumbled as he snatched a halter and lead rope.

Johnny watched Eli storm off to get the mare. “ I’m getting fed up with your brothers attitude lately Noah.”

“ I don’t know why he’s angry over this little foal Johnny.”

“ Noah…….You’re welcome to stay on, but your brother……I’m going to let him go.”

“ He has a temper sometimes…..I don’t know why he’s not happy here. This is the best job we both have had since leaving North Dakota.”

“ Why did you really leave?”

“ Eli…..he took a whip to a mare……Beat her bloody on her face.”

“ Beat her………why?”

“ She was a biter. Only one person could get around her, Mister Hidekoper’s daughter. Eli had been drinking a little and took it upon himself to try and put a halter on her. I told him to leave her be, but he wouldn’t, and she bit him good.”

“ He abuses horses?”

“ When his temper gets the better of him.” Noah said.

Johnny watched as Eli started to lead the mare out of the corral. When she stopped suddenly and jerked her head back, he swung and hit her in the face with the rope. “ You strike her again and I’m going to let you know what that rope feels like.”

“ I’m getting tired of your bossy ways Madrid.” Eli said before hitting the mare again.

Johnny ran over and jerked the rope from his hands.  “ You sonofabitch.” he said as he handed the mare off to Noah. Walking back over to Eli he swung as hard as he could, hitting Eli hard in the mouth. “ You’re finished. Get your gear and get the hell off my land.”

“ You go to hell Madrid.” Eli spat as he stood up.

Johnny walked up to within a foot of him. “  Why don’t you try beating someone who can fight back?” he said before swinging and hitting him in the mouth.

Eli lunged at Johnny, driving his head into his chest, causing them both to go down hard. Rolling away, he got up and kicked Johnny hard in the ribs flipping him onto his side.

Johnny got up and swung, hitting Eli in the face again.

Eli swung, hitting Johnny in the mouth, splitting his bottom lip before Joe, Noah and and Scott pulled them apart.

“ Stop it……….He’s had enough Johnny!” Scott said.

“ Stop it Eli……..stop it now!” Noah ordered.

“ Let go of me!”

“ Not until you calm down.” Noah said as he held his brother.

“ You weak sonofabitch…let go of me now.”

Noah shoved his brother away.  “ Yeah I am weak…..I’ve been weak my whole life in your eyes because I won’t bully people or animals around like you do.  All my life I put up with the abuse from you………well not any more.”

Eli grabbed his brother and hit him hard in the face right before a bullet hit the fence post to his left.

“ My son ordered you off this land………I suggest you leave now while you still can.” Murdoch ordered as he chambered another round in the rifle.

“ If beating me makes you feel like a man……….then go ahead and beat me Eli, but it will be the last time you ever do.”

“ .Mike, make sure he leaves.” Scott ordered.

“  Let’s see if this mare will let her suckle.”

“ Michael…..I want you to come down to the barn with me.”

“ What happened to you today Pa?”

“ Joe and Mike found a mustang mare dead this morning. She had a foal, and they brought the foal home. She’s going to be your responsibility to take care of.” Johnny said.

“ Really pa?” Michael asked as they walked in the barn. “ She’s mine?”

“ She is…..but she’s going to be a big responsibility son. I got lucky and got a mare with a foal ready to be weaned accept her this morning. She’s going to be yours to raise up. Can you do that?”

“ I can pa. I’ll take good care of her.”

“ Then starting today, you have a huge responsibility to take care of.” Johnny said as he opened the stall and walked in. “ Come in here son. She needs to learn your touch, smell, and voice.”

“ Johnny…….can I talk to you?” Joe asked.

“ Yeah….just a minute.” he said. “ Talk softly to her as you run your hand all over her body, and legs. I’ll be right back.”

Joe walked back outside and waited.

“ What’s on your mind?”

“Noah…….he said he’s leaving because of what happened.”

“ Where is he?”

“ Bunkhouse.”

“ Show Michael what he needs to do to feed the foal for me. “ Johnny said. “ Michael, you listen and do as Joe says.”

“ Hello. Can I help you?”

“ I hope so. I’m looking for a ranch supposed to be around here somewhere. My grandson Scott Garrett runs it with his half-breed brother Johnny Madrid.” he said.

“  Oh you mean the J and S ranch. That’s fifteen miles south of town along the Montana, Wyoming border.” the man said. “ Scott and Johnny are real good men. People around here really like them. They’ve turned that ranch into something. Both them boys are damn hard workers.”

“  Yes well, can you tell me how to get there please?”

“ You can rent a buggy from the livery, or you can ride with that wagon loading up across the street. That’s Mike, one of their hands.”

“ Thank you.” Harlan said before heading outside and across the street to the wagon. “ Excuse me, the man in the hotel said you work for Scott Garrett.”

“ Scott and Johnny I do. Why?” Mike asked.

“ Scotty is my grandson. I have come all the way from Boston to see him. Could I ride with you?”

“ Sure, I could use the company. I’m all done here. You have any luggage?”

“ Yes, on the boardwalk across the street.”

“ Well let’s get them thrown on board and get going. I want to get back before dark. Climb aboard.”


Chapter 14

“ Why you leaving?” Johnny asked.

“ The why is obvious Johnny. I can’t stay working here and have the others think I would do something like my brother.”

“ That’s hogwash. Nobody here would think that. We know you’re a good, hard worker.” Johnny said. “ Do you like working here?”

“ You know I do. I’ve never worked for someone I respect more than you and Scott.”

“ Then why leave?”

“ I told you why.”

“ Tell you what, give it until the end of the month. If you still feel you need to leave, I won’t try and stop you.”

“ Johnny, Mikes back with the supplies.” Joe said.

“ We have a deal?”

“ I’ll stay Johnny.”

“ Good, come help Mike unload the wagon.” Johnny said before turning to walk to the house.

“ I’m sorry Johnny………I assure you….I’m nothing like my brother.” Noah said as they started toward the house.

Johnny looked toward the barn and could see Michael with the foal. “ How’d he do feeding her?”

“ He did real good Johnny. I think those two will get along good.”

“ Give him a ha……….”

“ Something wrong Johnny?”

“ Joe, go get Scott. What the hell are you doing here old man?”

“ I’ll take it kindly that you not use that language in front of the boy. I’m here to see Scotty….I didn’t come here to fight with you.”

“ Let me tell you something old man you’re not welcome here.” Johnny said as Scott came out of the house.

“ Grandfather…….what are you doing here?”

“ Hello Scotty……I know I’m not welcome here, but a matter of utmost importance came up and I had to come.”

“ You have some nerve.”

“ Johnny, I’ll handle this brother.”

“ I’m sorry if he wasn’t supposed to be here Johnny. He said he’s Scott’s grandfather and wanted to come see him.” Mike said.

“ It’s alright Mike.” Johnny said before heading inside.

“ What do you want?”

“ As I said….to see you. The young man here is why I have come. Could we perhaps go inside and talk?”

Johnny stormed in the house and went to the sideboard, pouring a shot and downing it.

“ Something wrong son?” Murdoch asked.

“ I can’t believe the nerve of that man.” he said as he poured another shot.

“ Who?”

“ Harlan Garrett that’s who. He’s outside with Scott right now.”

“ What?”

“ Mister Garrett is here?” Teresa asked as Scott walked into the house followed by Harlan and a small boy about Michael’s age.

“  If you would allow me to explain.” Harlan said.

“ So explain.” Johnny said with anger.

“ Johnny!” Murdoch said.

“ May I have something to drink…..please?”

Murdoch walked over and poured a glass of brandy and handed it to him.

“ Thank you Murdoch.” Harlan said before taking a sip of the brandy. “ One reason I came here is the hopes of a reconciliation between us Scotty.”

“ Supper is……Oh I didn’t know we would be having guest for supper.” Bess said.

“ Madame, would you be so kind as to take Adam into the kitchen with you and give him a glass of milk while we talk?” Harlan asked.

Bess looked at Johnny. “ Alright. I’ll hold supper.” she said.

“ Michael, go with them.” Johnny ordered.

Scott waited until they were out of the room. “ Reconcile……reconcile….you tried to have my brother killed……..twice. Why the hell should I reconcile with you?”

“ Can we please keep this a civil conversation?” Harlan asked. “

“ Don’t you dare stand there and lie to me. We know it was you who put Jasper on Johnny…..We know it was you who brought that whore to Spanish Wells to try and kill Johnny. He told you why you’re not in jail when we were leaving Stockton.” Scott said firmly.

Harlan stood there in shock at how Scott was speaking to him. “ I’m not getting any younger and I deserve your hostility towards me Scotty, but I would think you would have enough manners to give a foolish old man another chance.”

“ I will always be grateful for you raising me. I have never said I wasn’t.” Scott said. “ I just don’t understand why you lied to me about my father, saying he didn’t want me when growing up…………or why you never told me I had a little brother!”

“ Not long after Teresa left Boston, I was visited by Mollie. I must say, the reason for her visit shocked me, and I didn’t have to come here.”

“ Just get it said old man.” Johnny ordered.

“ Johnny!” Teresa said softly.

“ Murdoch came to see you, to take you home with him on your fifth birthday. I challenged him, and threatened him with having you sent away. He wrote to you and sent you presents on your birthday every year, but I destroyed the presents, and burned the letters. When I learned about Johnny, it angered me so much inside to know the man my dear sweet Catherine married thought so little of her to marry another woman……a foreigner so soon after her death. I’ve only ever loved one woman….your grandmother. I don’t want to be alone anymore Scotty. I want to die knowing I have your love and respect again. I let you grow up without your father…..just like Johnny did down in Mexico. The boy……Adam is your son Scotty. Mollie went to Africa and didn’t want to take the boy with her. She dropped him with me, asking me if I would bring him to you.” Harlan said. “ I didn’t want to make the same mistake with the boy that I made keeping you away from Murdoch.”

“ My son…….Mollie never said she was with child when she divorced me.”

“ Perhaps she didn’t know Scott. I didn’t know I was until three months later.” Teresa suggested.

“ How old is the boy?” Murdoch asked.

“ Seven…..And I must say, he is a very intelligent young man too.” Harlan said.

“ Where are you going?”

“ For a ride. I need to get away from the house and do some thinking.” Johnny said. “Want to come along?’

“ I’d like that.” she said.

“ You going for a ride?”  Scott asked.

“ Yeah…..I’ going to the eastern line-shack for the night.” Johnny responded. “  Hell of a surprise huh?”

“ One I was not expecting.”

“ I don’t know if I can handle having two Boston’s.” Johnny said with a smile. “ Michael likes him. He seems like a good kid.”

“ I think I know now how you felt inside when Teresa came here with Sara.”

“ Why don’t you use that brain of yours brother and draw up an addition to the house and  get the hands started bringing trees down for it tomorrow.” Johnny suggested as he led the horses outside. “ We’ll be back by noon tomorrow.”

“ What are your real intentions Harlan?” Murdoch asked.

“ My only intentions Murdoch are to be with Scotty.”

“ You hired Jasper to kill Johnny. Why?”

“  Because I felt he was the main reason Scott wouldn’t come back to Boston. I felt that if I got rid of him, it would destroy you so much that Scotty would have no choice but to come back to me.”

“ You could have kept the boy and Scott would have never known about him.”

“ True, but what kind of man would I be had I done that to him?” he asked. “ The same man who did it to you, and I no longer wish to be that man……….No Murdoch, we both have a chance to watch our grandchild and great grandchild grow up.” To me….that’s all that matters anymore.”

Eli watched from the tree-line as Johnny and Teresa rode to the line-shack and dismounted. Leaving his horse to graze, he crept down closer after dark and looked in the side window. Seeing nobody in the kitchen area, he crept to another window at the back and found them in bed making love. Knowing neither one would be leaving tonight he slipped back to his horse and set up a cold camp.

“ I can’t believe how gorgeous it is here Johnny. The colors dancing off the snow-capped mountains. The sound of the stream flowing past, the birds……I never thought there could be a place more beautiful than Lancer.”

Johnny walked up behind her, and wrapped his arms around her waist. Moving her hair aside, he kissed her neck. “ You know why I wanted to come here with you?”

Teresa turned around to face him. “ I’m hoping to make love to me?”

Turning her around he lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her, sliding his tongue in her mouth while he ran a hand down between her legs.

“ Oh Johnny.” she said as she wrapped her arms around his neck and threw her head back. “ Do to me what you did our first time together…..Please.” she pleaded.

“ I got something better planned for you Querida.” he said as he pushed her pants down and started kissing his way down her body.

“  You drive me crazy Querida.” Johnny said as he sat up and scooted back, placing his back against the wall an hour later.

“ I wish we could stay here longer.” Teresa said as moved to sit between his legs and lean back against his chest.

“ When we get back…. I’m not sleeping anywhere but in a bed with you from now on. I want to feel your skin on mine every chance I can, and every night from now on.”

“ Sleep together in sin?” she asked with a smile.

“ A little late to be worrying about committing sin my love.” he responded before kissing her forehead. “ I was talking about as man and wife.”

Teresa turned around to face him. The sparkle in her brown eyes gave Johnny the answer he wanted. “ Yes.” she said before kissing him.

Johnny was caught off guard for a second when Teresa kissed him. Grabbing her head, he delved his tongue in her mouth as he rolled her onto her back and the two became one well into the early hours of the morning.

“ What’s that?” Teresa asked as they started back to the house and heard the unmistakable scream of a horse being killed.

“ Stay here.” Johnny said as he pulled his rifle.

“ What is it?”

“ I don’t know. Stay here!” Johnny said firmly before heading off into the trees. His gut was telling him Three Toes was killing another horse. Stopping when he heard a blood curdling scream from a man. Hurrying toward the sound, he brought the rifle as Three Toes dragged a man by his head. Getting as close as he could he started firing, hitting the huge grizzly between the shoulders four times before the bear dropped the man and spun around. Firing again, he hit the bear in the chest four more times before it slowed down. Aiming the rifle, Johnny fired two more shots hitting the bear in the heart, dropping him dead. Reloading as fast as he could, he cautiously walked around the huge bear to its side and put four more shots in its chest to make sure it was dead before going to the downed man. He could barely make out that it was Eli covered in blood from head to toe. His skull crushed, and his chest tore wide open. “ Damn.” he said before heading back to Teresa.

“ Johnny!” Teresa yelled.

“ Yeah! I’m alright!”  Johnny responded as he walked out of the trees.

Teresa jumped off her horse and hurried to him. “ I was so afraid when I heard all those shots.”

Johnny slid his rifle back in the scabbard. “ Mount up, we need to get back.”

“ What happened?” Teresa said as she mounted up.

“ I killed Three Toes.” he said as he swung up in the saddle.

“ Welcome back brother.”

“ Thanks. Teresa please go inside.”

“ Something wrong?”

“ Where’s Noah?” Johnny asked as he watched Teresa walk into the house.

“ He’s out with Michael and Adam in the barn.” Scott said. “ What’s wrong?”

“ Three Toes killed his brother. He had a dry camp behind the cabin and got attacked this morning. His body is about three hundred feet back in the trees. I don’t want anyone, especially Noah seeing him.” Johnny said. “ Mike, ride in to town and bring the sheriff out here. He needs to know what’s happened and see the body before it’s moved. Joe go stay wit the body and keep predators away from it. His horse is there also.”

“ I’ll go have the boys come in so you can talk to Noah.” Scott said.

“ Thanks Boston.” Johnny said as he walked with Scott to the barn.

“ Hi pa.” Michael said.

“ Hey. I need you boys to go in the house and stay there for me.”

“ But I was working with my foal.”

“ Just do what I asked son. I need to talk to Noah alone. Go inside with Scott…!”

“ Yes sir. I’ll go start my school work.” Michael said before leaving with Adam.

“ Johnny….Scott…is something wrong?” Noah asked.

“ Sit down Noah…..I need to talk to you.”

Noah sat down and looked at Johnny. He could tell whatever it was Johnny wanted to say, it was serious.

“ I spent the night at the line-shack with Teresa. When we were riding away this morning, I heard a horse scream in pain. I figured Three Toes was killing another horse. When I got close enough…….I seen…….Noah…….I’m sorry……..your brother is dead.”

“ Eli is dead?”

“ I’m sorry.”

“ I guess in the end….he got what he deserved. Being mean to animals….he was bound to be killed by one.” Noah said with tears in his eyes and a quiver to his voice. “ Can I see him?”

“ No………Noah… don’t want to see your brother.” Johnny said firmly. “ Mike went to get the sheriff. We can bury him here at the ranch.”

“ Thanks Johnny.” he said as he stood up. “ I need to be alone for a bit.”

Johnny rode up to the small cemetery and dismounted. Pulling some roses from his saddlebag he walked over to a headstone and dropped down to his knees. Four months after marrying Teresa, she lost her battle with Leukemia. That was five years ago. Now it was only Johnny and Scott in the house raising their sons Adam, and Michael and his daughter Sara. Harlan passed away in his sleep a month after Teresa. Murdoch caught pneumonia that very winter and on his birthday passed away with both boys at his side. Johnny had taken it hard, and worried his brother with losing so much in a few months’ time. Now with a new century upon them, Scott wondered sometimes if his brother didn’t want to sell the ranch and go somewhere else. President Grover Cleveland had issued a proclamation creating Gallatin Forest Reserve for what was now known as Paradise Valley. Both brothers had seen the outcome of over milling of lumber on the mountain sides. The bare spots where trees once stood tall having been cut down and milled for more settlers coming into the state for gold.

Bill Howell, per his doctor’s orders, sold his Bar C ranch to Johnny three years past and moved to Arizona where his arthritis wouldn’t hurt him so bad in the winter. Michael now lived in the house handling the ranching on that end of the valley.

“ Hard to believe it’s been five years.” Scott said as he walked up to stand next to his brother.

“ I never thought I would live to see thirty five. Let alone raising a son and daughter.” Johnny said.

“ How about owning a half a million acre ranch?”

“  I guess we both got surprised.” Johnny said as he placed the roses on Teresa’s grave. “ I love you.” he said softly before turning, walking back to his horse, and mounting up. “ What was it Murdoch called me that day?”

“ The prodigal son. A person who leaves home and behaves recklessly, but later makes a repentant return.” Scott said.

“ Yeah, that’s me, the prodigal son.” Johnny said.

To : Chapter 14- Research Notes



April 2022



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.

6 thoughts on “Prodigal Son by Nancy Marie

  1. I love the parable about the prodigal son in the Bible and this story is a great version. I thank you for sharing it with us Lancer lovers. Your stories are a gift, and too good to read just once!


  2. I love your stories and read them again and again. I would like to suggest that you reread this one yourself. There are numerous mistakes with names, events, and timelines that make this story very confusing. I’ve read this so many times that I’ve got it figured out, but for a first time reader, that would prove difficult and take away some of the pleasure of reading it. I’ve noticed little mistakes in some of your other stories too but nothing like this. Guess your muse was way ahead of your hands on this one. All in all, still a great story.


    1. Thank you for commenting. I have read and reread this story and find nothing you speak of wrong with names, events and timelines. I always make sure my timelines are right. Please if you could, tell me who, what and where. A different set of eyes sees what another cannot.


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