Shallow Water by Nancy Marie

I don’t own them * sigh * I’m just borrowing them for a little fun, hurt, love, and adventure. All original characters belong to their rightful owners. All others belong to me, and may not be used without my permission. This story will be rated R, and does have Johnny and Teresa together, but not like I have put them together before. This story may not sit well with some readers, and for that I’m sorry, but I just write what my Johnny muse wants, and this is what he wants.

Johnny Madrid Lancer
Scott Garrett Lancer
Murdoch Lancer
Teresa O’Brian
Harlan Garrett
Sam Jenkins
Captain Martinez
Rurale Lopez
Rurale Mateo
Rurale Estaban
Jim Porter
C. C. Slaughter ( founder of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association )
James C. Loving ( founder of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association )
Billy Mayfield
Zack Taylor

Word count: 69,822

Chapter 1

Murdoch sat in the buggy with his ward Teresa, watching the stage go past and stop in front of the hotel in Morro Coyo. Climbing down he walked over and watched as the people exited the coach. A padre, a husband and wife and what appeared to be a salesman. The last passenger to exit the stage caught his attention, a tall sandy blonde haired man in his early twenties he guessed wearing a suit with a shirt having ruffles, and a Darby hat.

“ Is that him?” Teresa asked.

“ My god, he looks so much like his mother.” Murdoch said.

“ Scott.” he said softly.

“ Yes sir.” Scott said as he looked at the tall man standing before him.

Murdoch extended his hand. “ I’m Murdoch Lancer….your father.”

Scott looked at the man a few seconds before shaking his hand. “ Hello sir.”

“ This is my ward, Teresa.”

“ Miss Teresa.”

“ Walt will take your luggage to the buggy.” Murdoch said.

“ Thank you.” Scott said. “ It’s a might dusty around here.”

“ It’s always like this during the dry season.” Teresa said as they walked to the buggy.

Murdoch stopped the buggy on a hill an hour later.

“ There it is, as far as the eye can see. The most beautiful place in the whole wide world, Lancer.” Teresa said.

“ Lancer?” Scott asked.

“ From here all the way to those mountains in the distance.” Murdoch said. “ One hundred thousand acres, ten thousand head of cattle, and the finest Capanero de Palomino’s in the San Joaquin.”

“ So this is what you spent your time carving out after my mother died? Why you let grandfather raise me instead?” Scott asked with some anger to his voice.

“ Let’s get something straight young man. I loved your mother, and she loved this land. I went to Boston to get you back, but your grandfather threatened to drag it to court. I didn’t have the money he had to fight for you son. There hasn’t been a day go by I didn’t wonder about you. What you looked like all grown up.” Murdoch said. “ You may not remember this, but I came to see you….to take you home. It was your fifth birthday. That’s when your grandfather told me he would send you away if I tried to take you from him, and he would fight me with all his expensive lawyers.”

“ Why did you not write to me?” Scott asked.

“ I wrote to you at least six times a year and sent you birthday and Christmas presents every year son.” Murdoch responded.

“ I never got them.”

“ He’s telling you the truth Scott. Murdoch wrote to you. I know because I remember going with my father to mail the letters and presents.” Teresa added.

“ Your grandfather has never liked me since I took your mother from Boston and came out here. It’s not my fault he never gave you the letters and presents.” Murdoch said as he started the buggy down the hill.

Scott walked into the grand room late morning two weeks later and started looking around the room. Walking over to the big desk he found two pictures in small frames. The one he knew was his mother, but the other one….the other was o a beautiful Mexican woman.

“ Who is this?” he asked as Teresa walked into the room.

Teresa knew he didn’t know Murdoch took a second wife, and she knew he didn’t know he had a younger brother. Turning the picture over he seen the name written on the back, Maria Lancer eighteen fifty four, two years after his mother passed away.

“ Who is she Teresa?”

“ You should ask Murdoch.”

“ Ask me what?” Murdoch said as he walked into the house.

“ Who is Maria Lancer?”

“ Teresa.”

“ I’ll go help Maria with supper.”

Murdoch walked over to the desk. “ She’s my wife.” he said. “ I met her a couple years after Catherine died when I was in Matamoros. We got married and I brought her back here to Lancer.”

“ Your wife….where is she?”

“ She left me in the middle of the night two years after we got married.” Murdoch said. “ There’s something you need to know son….We had a child…..a son. She took him with her and I have been searching for them for the last eighteen years.”

“ Are you saying I have a younger brother out there somewhere?”

“ Yes. His name is Johnny. I don’t know if they are still alive or not…..I don’t even know where they are at…..All I do know is I will not stop searching for him until I have proof he is dead.” Murdoch said as he walked over and poured a drink. “ Johnny was almost two when I woke one morning and found them both gone.”

Scott could tell his father was hurting. “ When I was in Libby prison, many times I would dream about having a little brother. Someone to protect and teach.”

“ You were in prison?” Murdoch asked.

“ I was captured at Chancellorsville, and taken to Libby. I was released a year after the war ended. I spent two years in that hell hole.” he explained.

“ I’ve heard horrible stories about Libby and Andersonville prisons. I’m glad you were one of the lucky ones to get out alive son.”

“ I watched men die horrible deaths while I was in there. Starvation, freezing to death, sickness……men screaming in pain day and night.”

Scott said with sadness. ‘ Why didn’t you tell me about having a little brother before now?”

“ Your grandfather knew I had remarried and had a son with my second marriage.”

“ He never said anything to me about having a little brother.”

“ I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell you son. I didn’t want you thinking I didn’t love your mother because I did.” Murdoch said. “ I met your mother not a year off the boat from Inverness.”

“ Scotland?”

“ Yes. The first time I seen her, I thought she was a thing of beauty. Her beautiful long blonde hair. I courted her for almost a year before we got married. When Harlan learned we were coming out here, the anger he had in his eyes, the angry words he spoke that day….telling me he never would have allowed us to marry if he had known I was going to bring her out here.” Murdoch responded.

“Did my mother know of this before you married her?” Scott asked.

“ She did. We discussed it several times.” Murdoch said. “ Son….your mother wanted to come out here. I don’t want you thinking I forced her too.”

“ If my mother was anything like grandfather….she wouldn’t have done anything she didn’t want to do.”

“ When we seen this place from the top of that hill, she said  we’re home. The rose garden out back she started from one rose bush she brought from Boston. She was out there every day babying that rose.” Murdoch explained.

“ That must be why I feel so at ease when I sit out there.” Scott said. “ Can I ask how Teresa became your ward?”

“ her father, Paul was my foreman for many years. He was killed when some men stole a prized stallion I had. We trailed them to Morro Coyo. He was shot and killed, and I got a bullet in the back. If it hadn’t been for Teresa taking care of me, I think I would have died.” Murdoch explained.” Her mother died when she was a little girl. She was born and raised on Lancer.”

“ I think I will go get cleaned up for supper.” Scott said.

Tráeme a ese cerdo mestizo. Quiero mostrarles a los nuevos prisioneros lo que sucede cuando no siguen las reglas.” ( Bring that half-breed swine to me. I want to show the new prisoners what happens when they don’t follow the rules.) Captain Martinez ordered.

“ Muy bien capitán. ¿ Puerdo preguntarte qué planeas hacer?”  ( Very well captain. Can I ask what you plan to do?) Rurale guard Lopez asked.

“ Creo que necesita sentir dolor. Tráeme un balde de salmuera y mi látigo.” ( I think he needs to feel pain. Bring a bucket of brine and my whip.)

Johnny sat in a corner of his cell trying to block out the moans and screams of other prisoners. He knew what was coming to the new prisoners brought in two days ago, and he knew it was just a matter of time before the guards did to him what they now did to them.

“ Ponte de pie Madrid. El capitán quiere que les des un ejemplo a los nuevos prisioneros sobre lo que sucede cuando no siguen las reglas.”

(Stand up Madrid. The captain wants you to set an example to the new prisoners on what happens when they don’t follow the rules.) Rurale Estaban ordered.

Johnny stood up and walked over to the cell door. He knew it would be useless to fight the guards. His body still had bruises from the last beating he had received two weeks ago. It had been six months since he arrived at Puerto Peñasco, the worst prison a man like him could be sent to. The man who ran it, Captain Martinez hated mestizo’s with a passion, and liked beating them whenever he wanted. Three had died from infections they got from open wounds and the filth of the cells. Every day he wondered if it would be his last day in hell. If he would close his eyes and never wake to see the sun rise thru the small window ever again.

“ Fuera mestizo. El capitán te usará para mostrarles a los demás lo que sucede cuando no siguen las órdenes.” (Outside mestizo. The captain is going to use you to show the others what happens when they don’t follow orders.) Estaban said as he shoved Madrid forward toward the open iron door leading out to the yard.

Johnny stepped outside and stopped to let his eyes adjust to the brightness of the sun.

“  ¡Cuélgalo!”    ( String him up! ) Captain Martinez ordered.

Estaban and another guard dragged Johnny over between two poles, undid his wrist shackles and fastened the ones on the poles to his wrist as the prisoners were brought out. Removing his ankle shackles, Estaban spread his legs apart and fastened the pole shackles to his ankles.

“ Hay reglas que espero que se sigan en mi prisión. ¡Si  no sigues mis reglas, est es solo uno de los castigos que mis hombres te infligrán!” ( There are rules I expect to be followed in my prison. If you do not follow my rules, this is just one of the punishments my men will inflict on you.) Martinez said as he picked up the whip and walked over to Madrid, grabbing a hand full of hair, he yanked his head back.

“ Voy a hacer un ejemplo de ti mestizo. Tu dolor será como ninguno que hayas tenido antes, y te tendré gritando en agonía rogándome que me detenga.”   ( I am going to make an example of you mestizo. Your pain will be like none you have had before, and I will have you screaming in agony begging me to stop.) Matinez said.

“ Nunca me romperás.” ( You will never break me.) Madrid said.

Captain Martinez laughed before stepping back and uncoiling the whip.

Johnny readied himself the best he could inside for what was to come. Reaching as deep down inside as he could as the first of many lashes tore into his flesh.  After what seemed like eternity, the whip stopped hitting his flesh. Exhausted with trembling legs Johnny closed his mind off to every sound, every noise except the birds singing outside the walls. He could feel the blood running down his back and the burning in his wrist from the shackles. His arm muscles burned from being stretched.

“ Es hora de que grites mestizo.” ( Time for you to scream mestizo.) Martinez said right before he dumped a bucket of brine on Johnny’s bloody back.

Johnny bit the inside of his mouth, ready to scream out from the pain as darkness claimed him finally and his head dropped to his chest.

Scott walked into the grand room. “ I picked up the mail while in town.”

“ Did you have any problem at the bank son?”

“ No, Mister Pierpoint is a nice enough man.. Here’s the receipt.” Scott said as he handed the mail and receipt to him. “ There’s a letter  from the Pinkerton Detective Agency.”

Mister Lancer
It has been a long search, but I have finally located your son Johnny Lancer. The reason I could not locate him all these years is because he changed his name when he was twelve. I know it is your long lost son, and telling you who he is known as now is difficult for me to do, but you have to know. Your son, Johnny Lancer is known down along the border and in Mexico as the gunfighter Johnny Madrid.

Madrid is of mixed race. His mother was a Mexican and his father a rich American it is reported from California. Up until six years ago Johnny Madrid had never been heard of. In finding I have learned that at the age of twelve Madrid killed a man. Shot him several times in fact for the brutal murder of his mother when he was ten. It would seem that in my asking in the town of Sonora a man believed to be a patron of the late Madrid raped then beat her to death in front of the child. Madrid disappeared after that killing for a year then surfaced again in Cordova were he is said to have started his reputation as a gunfighter by killing three men for beating a prostitute at a bordello he was patronizing. Yes you read right. Madrid frequently goes to a brothel, especially after he kills someone.

I have numerous witness accounts of Madrid being called out on both sides of the border and every time this gunfighter would try and talk the caller out of it. In the end though Madrid would be the one walking away.

I have learned that his childhood was an unsupervised one. The boy ran the streets of the villages he and his mother lived in. He would work in livery stables when he could for pennies. He was beaten as a child I learned from a padre and bears the scars from such beatings. I learned that in the village of Candela some boys beat Madrid badly then one of the boys stabbed him just to see what color his blood was.

I can attest that on my own witnessing Johnny Madrid is the fastest gunfighter in the south. Any man who calls him out will die. I can also attest that Johnny Madrid was not born with said name. Before his mother died a padre told me he heard tell that the boys last name was in fact Lancer and that his father had thrown him and his mother out of his estancia when he was barely two.

Unfortunately your son is in Puerto Peñasco prison and has been there for two months. I went to the prison and talked to a Captain Martinez who said Madrid’s freedom could be bought for five thousand dollars. If you choose to pay the money it can be wired to the bank here in Puerto Peñasco.

Allen Martin
Pinkerton Agent.

“ Oh my god!” Murdoch said.

“ What’s wrong?” Scott asked.

Murdoch handed him the letter before walking over to pour a drink.

“ He’s alive.” Scott said.

“ He’s alive….and he’s in a Mexican prison.” Murdoch said as he walked back over to his desk. “ He’s also a gunfighter.”

“ So….at least we know he’s still alive. Are you going to send the money?”

“ Five thousand dollars is a lot of money son. I want Johnny home, but what guarantee do we have they will let him go?”

“ Are you saying you won’t pay to get him out?” Scott demanded.

“ I didn’t say that son. I know how they can be in Mexico. I……”

“ Either you send it….or I will. I want my little brother home where he belongs.”

“ Let me ask you something…..What if he doesn’t want to come here. You read the letter. She told him I threw them out. His whole life he’s believed a lie……A lie she told him.”

“ It said he was abused while in an orphanage… the padre. That he was beaten by other kids and stabbed just to see what color his blood is……What in God’s name would………”

“ Your brother is known in Mexico as a mestizo, or half-breed because his mother was Mexican, and his father American.” Murdoch said. “ They’re not wanted or liked in Mexico son. I never thought Maria would go back to Mexico. We’ll ride in first thing in the morning and send the money.”

Johnny heard the iron door open, but didn’t move. He knew if he moved he would start his back bleeding again.

“ ¡Levántate y sal de la caja! “ (Out stand up and come out of the box!)  Mateo ordered. “ Dije levantate.” ( I said get up.) Mateo said before grabbing Johnny and dragging him out of the iron box.

“ Here is your swine.” Captain Martinez said.

“ My god…..He’s been whipped and you put him in an iron box!” Pinkerton Allen Martin said with anger. “ No man deserves to be treated like this!”

“ El Madrid se merecía estar ahí.” ( Madrid deserved being put in there.) Mateo said with an evil grin.

“ Take that mestizo and get him out of here.” he ordered.

“ Let’s get you to a doctor.” Allen said as he helped Johnny stand up.

Johnny looked at the man. “ Who are you?”

“ I’m a Pinkerton detective. I just bought your freedom.” Allen said. “ Let’s get you to a doctor.”

“ You think the Pinkerton man was able to get Johnny out?” Scott asked.

“ I don’t know son. All we can do is wait until we hear from him.” Murdoch responded.

“ What was my brother like?”

“  Headstrong, stubborn, and very independent.” Murdoch said. “ When your brother started walking……we had our hands full. That boy would be gone so fast. I remember once your brother disappeared. We searched every inch of this house for him and couldn’t find him anywhere. We finally found him in the barn in the stall with a mare and her newborn foal. That mare was standing over him, protecting him. Maria was very upset and forbid him outside the house or around horses after that. It was a week later I woke and found her and Johnny gone.”

“ Why did she leave?” he asked.

“ She was unhappy here I guess. I learned she had been seeing this man…..a gambler and left with him.” Murdoch said. “I never knew she wasn’t happy living here.”

“ You can’t blame yourself for what another person does.” Scott said as Teresa walked into the room.

“ Murdoch, are we still going to the Governors ball in Sacramento?”

“ I’m sorry sweetheart…I completely forgot about it.”

“ Murdoch, you know I’ve been looking forward to attending it in two weeks.”

“ Teresa, something has come up and we may not be able to attend. I’m sorry.”

“ Is it because of Johnny?”

“ It is….he was found in Mexico in a prison. I bought his freedom and am waiting word on his release.”

“ They found him?” she asked.

“ Yes…..He changed his name is why he couldn’t be found sooner.” Murdoch said as someone knocked on the door. “ Who could that be?”

“ I’ll get it.” Scott said.

“ I almost forgot son. You have a letter from your grandfather.” Murdoch said as he handed him the letter.

Scott took the letter and opened it. “ What’s today’s date?”

“ Friday the ninth.” Murdoch said. “ Why?”

“ Grandfather is coming here. He said he will be here tomorrow.”

“ Tomorrow?” Murdoch asked.

“ That’s what the letter says.”

“  I’m Carl Anderson. Your friend is in bad shape. I’ve cleaned the wounds wit carbolic acid and stitched up the ones that were deep. Who did this to him?”

“ I’m a Pinkerton agent doc. I just bought that young man’s freedom from the prison. A Captain Martinez beat him.”

“ Martinez….That man is worse than an animal. There have been many deaths in that prison because of him.” the doctor said.

“ Doc, I’ve been searching for that young man for his father for a long time. Will he live?” Allen asked.

“ He has a chance if I can clear up the infection, and he has the will and strength to live.” doc said.

“ I need to go send a wire telling his father I found him.”

“ If he lives, he won’t be able to travel for at least three weeks.” doc said. “ You can move him over to the hotel, and I can come there to treat him.”

“ Alright doc. Thank you.” Allen said. “ I’ll go get us a room then.”

Scott stopped the buggy outside the hotel and climbed down. Walking inside he stopped by the front desk as he looked in the diner.

“ Can I help you?” the clerk asked.

“ No thank you.” Scott said. “ Grandfather.”

“ Scotty.”

“ How are you sir?”

“ Sit down boy, sit down.” Harlan said. “ Some breakfast?”

“ I had mine at sunup.”

“ Sunup?”

“ You’ll find that life starts a little earlier out here than in Boston.”

“ And life must be a lot more rustic. Those clothes, this town.”

“ I like it out here sir.”

“ Yes I assumed that since you refused to acknowledge numerous invitations to come home.”

“ Well I think it will be a little more time before I get back to Boston sir.”

“ Yeah, well we’ll see.”

Scott stopped the buggy on top of the hill.

“ Lancer?”

“ From here all the way to those mountains.”

“ Well I’ve never seen it, but I seem to know it so well. This wilderness. What a naive young girl came to search for her sugar dreams.”

“ Well she loved him sir. That’s why she came out here, to share her life with him.”

“ I’ve often wondered what it is that drives a man so hard. Makes him put ambition above all else. Even his own family.”

“ Murdoch didn’t have a family when he came here.”

“ Precisely. Murdoch had to force himself to make the trade.”

“ Trade?”

“ I raised you Scotty, not Murdoch. I took care of you for twenty four years while he was carving out his little empire.”

“ With all due respect sir, I’ve tried to show my gratitude.”

“ Gratitude! Gratitude is something I don’t want from you my boy……Well forgive me, I guess I’m getting to be a silly mottled old man. Let’s get on.”

Murdoch stood at the big bay window watching as the buggy came into the yard. Walking over to his desk he sat down and waited for the storm that he knew would invade the house.

“ I have a room all ready for Mister Garrett.” Teresa said.

“ Thank you sweetheart.” Murdoch said as Scott and Harlan walked into the house.

“ I’ll take your things up to the room Teresa has ready for you sir.”

“ Thank you Scotty.” Harlan said. “ Hello Murdoch.”

“ Let’s not waste anymore of each other’s time Harlan. What are you doing here?”

“ that’s not a very hospitable way of putting it?”

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

“ Surely we can have a friendly conversation?”

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

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

“ Are they?”

“ Well there’s nothing to be gained by hostility Murdoch. You got you son at your side, splendid ranch, wealth, everything you want.”  Harlan said.

“ That takes care of me. What about you? What do you want?”

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

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

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

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

“ Catherine was my daughter.”

“ She was my wife. The mother of my son!”

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

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

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

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

“ That’s all in the past.”

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

“ What could you have done fr 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, and not from his half-breed brother.”

“ I you ever call Johnny a half-breed again. He’s my son, Scott’s brother, and you will show him respect.”

“ Tell me something Murdoch, do you really expect that killer to be able to live here?”

“ That is of no concern of yours.”

“ Yes it is Murdoch. It is as long as my Scotty lives here.” Harlan snapped back. “ I know you paid to get that killer out of prison. Mark my words…..that five thousand dollars was a waste.”

“ Grandfather, why don’t you go upstairs, freshen up and rest before lunch.”

“ I think I will.”

“ Glad to see you finally awake.” Allen said.

“ Who are you?”

“ I’m a Pinkerton agent. I was hired by your father years ago to find you. He’s been searching for you ever since your mother took you away.” Allen said. “ I just recently learned you had changed your name to Madrid when you where a kid.”

“ My father threw us out.” Johnny said with anger. “ He didn’t want a half-breed son.”

“ Look kid…I only know what I know and that is your father has been searching for you for eighteen years. If you don’t believe me, I can provide legal document proof of how long he has searched for you.”

“ Why…….why the hell does he want me……he knows nothing about me.” Johnny snapped back.

“ He wants you because you are his son.” Allen said. “ Let me tell you something kid….When I was searching for you I learned a lot in just a few days about you. About how you help the little man. Why you were in that prison.”

Scott walked into the house a week later to find his father sitting at his desk. “ Any word on Johnny yet?”

“ Not yet.” Murdoch said. “ Is something on your mind son?”

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

“ Well go on and ask it.”

“ It’s the past, I guess it doesn’t die that easy.”

“ It will if you let it. 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.” Scott said with irritation in his voice.

“ 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, I don’t understand this hostility you have toward me. It seems ever since your grandfather came here, you’ve changed. You’ve become distant toward me. Last night you got angry at Teresa for no reason and yelled at her.” his father said. “ All I ask is if you got any decisions to make, don’t make them out of anger.”

“ Listen, I have another job I have to start. Doc said you’ll be able to ride.” Allen said.

“ Thanks.” Johnny said. “ So where?”

“ Lancer, Outside a town called Morro Coyo in the San Joaquin valley.” Allen said as he walked over to the door. “ There’s an envelope on the table. It contains a thousand dollars. Your father wants an hour of your time. You’re a good person Madrid. I hope you do the right thing. I’ll see you.”

Johnny sat there looking at the door for several minutes before standing up and walking over to the table. Picking up the envelope he opened it and counted the money. One thousand dollars for one hour of his time. Knowing he was still in Mexico, and still a target for the Rurales, Johnny headed to the livery so he could leave Puerto Peñasco after dark. The less people who seen him, the better his chances.

Research Notes: Chapter 1


Chapter 2

“ Did you tell your grandfather about Johnny when you were bringing him here?” Murdoch asked.


“ I’ve been sitting here think about the conversation we had when he got here.” Murdoch responded. “ Harlan knew where Johnny was and how much it cost to get him out of that prison.”

“ I didn’t say anything to him about it.”

“ Are you sure son?”

“ Positive. How do you think he knew?”

“ I don’t know son, but something tells me his being here just when we found Johnny is more than a coincidence.” Murdoch responded. “ Has he said how long he’s staying?”

“ No he hasn’t. I think it’s time we find out why he’s really here.” Scott said as Harlan walked into the room.

“ Grandfather, I need to ask you some questions, and I want the truth.” Scott said firmly.

“ I don’t like your tone of voice Scotty.”

“ And I don’t much care for you lying to me sir.”

“ I have never lied to you, and I did not raise you up to be disrespectful to me.”

“ Disrespectful…….That’s exactly what you have been to Murdoch. I want to know how long you knew I had a brother……and why you never told me? ”

“  Why………why should I tell you about him bedding a Mexican whore down in Matamoros….Getting her pregnant and then marrying her?” Harlan spat. “ Does the truth hurt Murdoch? How do you think that half-breed bastard son of yours is going to feel when he comes back here and learns that that is all he will ever be………a bastard. You got her pregnant before you married her. Your marriage date and his birth date are the proof.”

“ Get the hell out of my house………Now!” Murdoch ordered.

“ I’ll have Walt hitch up the buggy and take him to town sir.” Scott said before walking out.

“ This isn’t over Murdoch. I will have Scotty back, and you will have nothing.” Harlan said before heading upstairs to pack.

Johnny stopped his horse three months after leaving Puerto Peñasco and watched some hands moving cows and calves across a stream. He knew he was on Lancer land, he’d seen the sign a ways back where the fence was down. Looking to the back of the herd, he watched as a rider dismounted and walked over to a calf stuck in the middle of the stream. What the rider started doing to the calf angered him. Riding down the hill he stopped his horse and pulled his pistol.

“ You hit that calf again and I’m going to let you find out what that rope feels like.” Johnny said as he dismounted.

“ I don’t know who you are, but this is private property, and what I do to this stupid calf is none of your business.” the man said before hitting the calf again making it bawl.

Johnny walked out into the stream and swung, hitting the man in the mouth, knocking him down into the water.

“ What’s going on here?” a hand demanded. “ Who the hell are you?”

“  You the one in charge?” Johnny asked.

“ No….I am.” Scott said as he rode up.

“ Your hand here was beating this calf. I told him to stop and he hit it again so I hit him.” Johnny said.

“ Walt, ride back to the house with Toby and tell my father what’s happened here. Tell him to give Toby his final pay. You’re fired. No man who would beat a defenseless animal works for Lancer.” Scott said firmly.

Toby glared at Johnny a few seconds before walking to his horse, and mounting up. “ I don’t know who you are mister, but this ain’t over yet.”

“ You men get back to work.” Scott ordered. “ I’m Scott Lancer, I’m obliged to you for what you did mister.”

Johnny picked up the calf and carried it to the bank where it’s mother waited. Walking back across the stream, he mounted up. “ It was nothing.” he said before riding away.

“ Toby is one lucky son of a gun.” Pedro said later as they rode back to the house.

“ And how is getting fired lucky?” Walt asked.

“ That was Johnny Madrid this morning.”

“ Madrid…….are you sure?” Scott asked.

“ I’m sure. I seen him gun down two of the best once in Yuma.” Pedro said.

“ He’s here.” Scott said as he walked into the grand room.

“Who’s here son?” Murdoch asked.

“ Johnny.” Scott responded.

“ Walt said a man showed up and stopped Toby from beating a calf.”

“ Yeah. I didn’t know who he was until Pedro said something after he was gone.”

“ I guess now all we can do is wait and hope he comes here.” Murdoch said.

“ He will sir. I know it in my heart he will.”8cott said. “ I’m going to go clean up for supper.”

“ Alright son.”

Johnny stopped his horse and dismounted. The man had said his name was Lancer…………..Scott Lancer. Clearly he was older than him. Did his mother know he had an older brother and never told him? Could it be possible his whole life had been somewhat of a lie? Knowing there was only one way he would get answers, Johnny mounted up and headed to the one person he never thought he would ever see.

Just after dark, Johnny walked up to the big door and knocked. His stomach in knots he started drumming his fingers on his right thigh as he waited for the door to open.

“ Can I help you?” Murdoch asked.

Johnny stood there unable to move, or speak. Keeping his head down low enough the man couldn’t see his eyes.

“  Yes……Can I help you?”

Johnny raised his head up and looked at the face of the man who’s blood flows thru his veins.

“ Oh my god.” Murdoch said softly.

“ You got one hour of my time old man.” Johnny said before walking past him into the grand room.

“ First off young man, as your father, you will show me respect while in this house.”

“ Well see, that’s your problem right there……old man.” Johnny said. “ Anyone wants respect from me……they have to earn it.”

Murdoch sighed. He knew his son had had no proper upbringing, and didn’t want their first meeting to be bad.

“ Sit down brother.” Scott ordered.

“Don’t you call me brother because we share that old man’s blood… mean nothing to me!” Johnny said with anger. “ You want to know what he did to my mother? He gave her the keys to the road one day and said what’s your hurry, and just a minute, don’t forget buster here!”

“ That’s not true!….That’s not true about mister Lancer and your mother!” Teresa cut in. “ Well he never made her leave. She left of her own free will!”

“ Now look!! You don’t know what you’re……….”

“ She ran off with somebody. He was some kind of gambler or something. She just packed up and left with him.”

“ Did he tell you that?” Johnny demanded.

“ No my father told me, and it’s true! If anybody was done a wrong Johnny, it was Murdoch Lancer. And there’s something else you should know.”

“ Alright!” Johnny said with anger as he walked over to the sideboard and poured a shot of tequila and downed it.

“ No, no listen! When your father wasn’t sure if he would live or die, I sat with him, and he kept saying your mother’s name Johnny, asking for her.” Teresa said firmly as she walked over to him. “ So if you want to hate him because he’s stubborn or wrongheaded lots of the time, or proud, well there faults, but don’t hate him for your mother Johnny, because he loved her!”

“ Who the hell are you?”

“ Don’t use that kind of language in this house, or around Teresa.” Murdoch ordered. “ She’s my ward. If the air needs clearing, lets clear it. I met Scott’s mother Catherine in Boston, not a year off the boat from Inverness. Her family thought she was daft to marry me, and maybe they were right. She died giving birth to Scott……A couple years later I met your mother down in Matamoros. She…..we got married. Two years after that I awoke one morning and found her gone, you along with her.”

“ That ain’t the way I heard it.”

“ I don’t care what you heard. It’s past. Bad or good, right or wrong, it’s past and gone.” Murdoch said as he walked over to him. “ I love this ground more than anything God ever created. I’ve got a gray hair for every good blade of grass you see out there.”

“ And just what the……..What do you want from me?” Johnny asked.

“ I want your arms, legs and guts if you got any.” Murdoch said.

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

“ One third.”

“ Of what?”

“ Everything you see out there. One hundred thousand acres, twenty thousand head of beef, the finest Capanero de Palomino’s in the San Joaquin.” Murdoch responded.

“ One third huh?……….Just like that……you’re going to make me a third owner of this ranch?”

“ Trust me little brother… will earn every bit of it.” Scott said.

Johnny stood looking at him a minute before heading for the front door.

“ Johnny…..please don’t leave!” Teresa said.

Johnny stopped, turned and looked at her. “ You have no idea what will happen if I stay here Teresa. I have a different life, a life that could get everyone in this room killed.” he said before leaving.

“ He won’t leave.” Scott said. “ He was just told the truth. His whole life has been a lie. He needs time to think.”

“ Why in God’s name would she tell him I threw them out son?”

“ Unfortunately you will never get that answer.” Scott said.

“ I have a feeling Johnny doesn’t like to talk about his past.” Teresa said.

“  Neither do I sweetheart.” Murdoch said. “ He has no……we don’t know what manners Johnny has. His mother being killed when he was ten…..he’s had no parent figure in his life.”

“ I think you are judging him before you know him sir.” Scott said.

“ I want nothing more than get to know him, but I don’t see that happening.” Murdoch said.

“ You don’t give at all do you?” Scott asked. “ All pride and Johnny’s cut from the same mold. Not one inch of give.”

“ Want me to go after him, beg him into coming back here?” Murdoch asked.

“ Is that so bad?” Scott asked.

“ And how long do you think it would last? If nothing said here has gotten through to him…..if he hasn’t learned anything…..If what he’s running to out there is so important, then let it happen. Let it happen now.” Murdoch responded.

“ That may be alright for you, but it’s not for me.” Scott said before heading outside.

Johnny sat in the saloon in Green River with a bottle of tequila and a cold beer sitting in front of him. His whole life * had * been a lie.

“ Mind if I sit down?” Scott asked.

“ No, go right ahead.”

“ Yes sir, I see what you mean. This is really a great life.” Scott said.

“ So what…..the old man send you after me?”

“ No, he didn’t send me.” Scott said as he poured a drink. “ You know it’s a funny thing to find you here. I mean with all that talk about freedom. It’s a funny thing to find you jammed in between these four walls.”

“ I’m gonna take off tonight.”

“ Just gonna to take off?”

“ Yeah.”

“ Got any plans?……….I said have you……”

“ I heard you. Yeah I’m gonna head back down south. There’s a range war brewing and their hiring guns.” Johnny said.

“ Just gonna kill time, amongst other things.” Scott said.

“ That’s right.”

“ You’ll be dead before you’re thirty.” Scott said.

“ That comes to us all now don’t it?”

“ But when you go, you won’t even leave a small ripple.”

“ That it brother……I mean the sermons over ain’t it?”

“ It’s the only good thing that’s ever happened to you your whole life, and you’re gonna get up and walk away from it, and all for nothing. But I guess that’s all you got going for you from now on. It was nice to have met you brother.” Scott said as he stood up. “ Good luck.”

Johnny sat there watching him walk out, mount up, and ride out of town.

“ Did you find him son?”

“ I did. He was in Green River. He’ll come back.” Scott said.

“ How do you know he will come back?” he asked.

“ Because of what I said to him. I gave him something to think about.” Scott said. “It’s late. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“ Alright son. Goodnight.”

Johnny walked his horse from the livery stable in Green River at dawn, mounted up and headed east, back to Lancer. For the past four days he’d done nothing but think about what the girl had said about his mother leaving. He still had questions he needed answers to, some he would never get answers too, questions only his mother could answer. That and what his brother said to him. Those words stung, but were true, and he knew it. He knew that as long as he lived as Johnny Madrid, he would not live past thirty. Hearing it said to him made it more real, but it also brought another question to mind, could he live as Johnny Lancer. Looking toward the San Bonito mountains as the sun started to rise above them he never seen the rider come out of the trees to his left.

Teresa started downstairs to start breakfast when she seen someone sitting at the bottom of the stairs. Raising the lamp up, she could tell who it was. Continuing downstairs, she stopped just behind him.

“ Johnny, I was about to start some coffee and breakfast.”

Johnny could feel darkness claiming him as he looked up at her. “ Hey.”

“ Murdoch……Scott….help!” she yelled as she knelt down and looked at the wound.

“ Teresa…..what…..”

“ It’s Johnny……..he’s been shot.” she said.

Murdoch hurried down the stairs as Scott came out of his room and hurried downstairs also.

“ Get him upstairs to his room. Teresa get hot water and bandages.” Murdoch ordered.

Scott scooped his brother up and took him upstairs. Laying him down on the bed, he started removing his shirt so he could see how bad the wound was.

“ I sent Frank to get Sam out here.” Murdoch said as he walked into the room.

“ Looks like a bullet grazed him.” Scott said.

“ It looks deep enough to need stitches, and he could have a fractured or even broken rib.” Murdoch said as Teresa brought bandages into the room.

“ Is Johnny going to die?” she asked.

“ No, the bullet grazed him.” Murdoch said.

“ Murdoch……Frank said someone was hurt.” Sam said as he walked into the grand room.

“ It’s Johnny…..he’s been shot.” Murdoch said.

“ Johnny?” Sam asked.

“ My Johnny. We found him and he came home a week ago.” Murdoch explained. “ He showed up here this morning

“  Your Johnny?…….Where is he?”

“ Upstairs in his room. Third door on the left.”

Scott came downstairs. “ Sam ordered me out of the room. He wants Teresa to help him.”

“  Until he knows the rules around here……..I don’t want him alone with Teresa. She’s an innocent girl, and I don’t want him taking advantage of her.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ You like being judgmental. I mean….assuming Johnny would do something to Teresa?” Scott asked.

“ I am not being judgmental. I am stating the truth young man. We both know that boy upstairs has had no proper upbringing.” Murdoch said. “ Teresa is innocent and I want to keep her that way until she finds the right man to marry.”

“ Teresa is your ward and you told me to think of her like a sister, and I have.” Scott said. “ But keep this in mind sir, Teresa is only a year younger than Johnny. So instead of jumping to conclusion how about we give him a chance?”

“ He’s going to be fine.” Sam said as he walked into the room. “ He has nine stitches, and the bullet did fracture a rib. So he will have to stay in bed for a while, and no riding for at least eight weeks.”

“ We’ll make sure he follows your orders Sam.” Scott said.

“ Good…..Now would you two care to explain to me how that boy came here……..and the horrible scars he has on his body. Some of which are from being whipped recently.

“ Whipped?” Scott asked.

“ I thought you seen them when you removed his shirt?” Sam asked.

“ No, I was more concerned with cleaning up the blood to check the wound.” Scott responded.

“ Johnny was in a Mexican prison. I bought his freedom for five thousand dollars. The Pinkerton agent said he had been hurt and would need time to heal, but he never said what the injury was.”

“ Well I can tell you, he has horrible whip marks on his back. Marks that show he had brine thrown on them when they were open.”

“ Wait a minute……Sam are you saying my brother was whipped in that prison and then they threw brine on his back?”

“ That’s what his back tells me. He’s also been shot several times, and stabbed.” Sam responded.

“  Is he awake?” Murdoch asked.

“ No.” Sam said. “ Murdoch…..something tells me you are going to have trouble keeping that boy down. Now hear me out before you go off with that Scottish temper of yours. You go ordering and pushing that boy around……you will run him off.”

“ I agree Sam. Johnny and Murdoch are cut from the same mold. All pride and not one ounce of give.” Scott said.

“ Teresa knows what to do for his wound. I have rounds I need to get to. Just go easy with him.” Sam said as he walked to the door. “ I know you’ve searched a long time for that boy Murdoch, ry not to run him off.”

“  So where’s the old man and Scott?”

“ Murdoch is in town, and Scott is out working and won’t be back for supper.”

“ You know about me, know who I am?” he asked. “ Yet you’re not afraid of me.”

“ I do and no I am not afraid of you Johnny.” Teresa said.

“ You grew up here right?” he asked.

“ I did. I was born on Lancer. My father was the foreman here. When he was killed, I became a ward of Murdoch’s.” she explained.

“ Your father’s dead, where’s your mother?” Johnny asked.

“ My mother abandoned me when I was two. She decided she wanted a life performing in dance-halls instead of being a mother.” Teresa responded. “ Murdoch doesn’t know I know the truth. I know she has a dance-hall show called Angel Day and her Sunshine Girls.”

“ So you’ve never seen her since she ran out on you?”

“ No. My father and Murdoch told me she’s dead, but like I said…..I know the truth.”

“ And it doesn’t bother you, them lying to you?” he asked.

“ It did at first…..but then I thought about it and realized they both were just trying to protect me from being hurt by the truth.” she said.

“ What’s he  like?”

“ Murdoch or Scott?”

“ Murdoch.”

“ Caring and hardworking.” she said. “ He does have a temper though. Like I told you before, when he was shot and didn’t know if he would live or die…….he kept saying your mother’s name, calling for her. He’s been so hurt since she left. When he found out the Pinkerton found you, he was so happy.. He didn’t hesitate to pay the five thousand dollars to get you out.”

“ What did you say?”

“ He paid to get you out of that prison.” she repeated.

Johnny pushed his plate of half-eaten food away, stood up and walked over to look out the window. “ The Pinkerton man said he paid a thousand dollars for an hour of my time. He said nothing about him buying my freedom.”

“ Murdoch wanted you home.” Teresa said as she stood up and walked over to him. “ Please don’t hate him for doing that Johnny. Talk to him tonight. Get to know him.”

“ My mother told me lies.” he said. “  With her dead, I’ll never know why she did it.”

“  Listen…’s a beautiful day. Why don’t you walk out to the rose garden and sit in the sun for a while.” she suggested.

“  What did you do today John?”  Murdoch asked.

“  Slept all morning until Teresa woke me up to change my bandages, ate lunch, and sat out in the sun this afternoon.” Johnny responded.

“ Tomorrow I think I will show you the book end of running a ranch.” Murdoch said.

“ Why’d you do it?” Johnny asked bluntly. “ Why did you buy my freedom?”

“ Because you are my son……and I will be……….I wasn’t about to let you die in a Mexican prison.”

“  How do you know a part of me hasn’t already died in there old man?” Johnny asked.

“ Johnny……I spent over a year in Libby prison.” Scott said. “ I know what you went thru…..what you feel… you were treated.”

“ You don’t know a damn…..anything about what I went thru in a Mexican prison.” Johnny snapped back before standing up. “ I’m sorry Teresa, I tried.” he said before heading back upstairs.

“ What did he mean when he told you he was sorry…..and he tried?” Scott asked.

“ We talked during lunch today.” she said. “ He wants to get to know you…..both of you……but I think he’s afraid deep down inside because of the lies his mother told him about you.”

“ I don’t know how to get past that with him.” Murdoch said. “ How do I get my son to believe I love him, that I want him here?”

“ The answer to that is simple sir.” Scott said. “ Tell him.”

“ Murdoch, Johnny has never had anyone love him, or tell him they love and care about him.” Teresa added.

“ It would seem Teresa is having better luck getting Johnny to talk.”  Scott said.

“ I think it’s because I’m only two years younger than him.” she said. “ That and the fact we both lost our mother.”

“ I think Teresa should continue to talk to Johnny.” Scott suggested.

“ I told you I don’t want her alone with him.”

“ Why? Johnny wouldn’t hurt me.”

“ Because of the type of women he’s used to being around.” Murdoch said.

“ Murdoch, I’m eighteen years old. You know why no boys come calling, or want to take me to the church socials?……….Because of you. They are afraid of you and your temper.” she said. “ If…….and I say if something did happen between me and Johnny…..why would that be bad?”

“ Because he’s Johnny Madrid, and I don’t want you hurt.”

“ He wants to be your son, Johnny Lancer. He told me that, but like those boys who won’t escort me to the dance, he’s afraid of you and your temper. I’m not a little girl anymore Murdoch.” she said before getting up and going to her room.

Murdoch stood up and walked out on the veranda.

“ Teresa just might be the key to keeping Johnny here sir.” Scott said as he walked out on the veranda.

“ He’s lived a wild, unsupervised life son. How can I allow Teresa to be alone with him knowing that?”

“ By trusting them both sir. Sit down with Johnny and talk to him about spending time with Teresa. Tell him you will not permit him to act in an inappropriate way with her.” Scott suggested.

“ Have you ever been to a big city?” Teresa asked as they sat on the veranda.

“ I stay out of big towns. Too many people for someone like me.” he said.

“ So you think someone might recognize you?”

“ That’s a chance I don’t want to take.”

“ What about riding on a train?”

“ Nope. Never liked being cooped up in one place too long. And staying in a train car is like being in a…….Riding a stage is bad enough.”

“ You were going to say it would be like a prison cell weren’t you?”

“  You know what a pig pen looks like…..Well that’s what a Mexican prison is like. What they call food isn’t fit to feed a pig. At night was the worst. I’d sit with my back against the wall hearing the men moaning and crying from hunger or pain.” Johnny said softly. “ My whole life…..I’ve had people hate me because of my being a half-breed. Who……saloon women are the only ones who like me, and that because I know……..sorry. That’s not something I should be saying to a young lady.”

“ It’s alright Johnny. I won’t tell Murdoch anything we talk about. It will stay between us.” Teresa said with a smile.

“ How come you don’t have a beau?”

“ Murdoch. Most of the boys in town are afraid of him, so they don’t ask me to the dances or church socials.” she responded.

“  He’s proving he can be a hard case.”

“ But the two of you are talking.”

“  Yeah, but not like I talk to you, and I think it’s because you’re not intimidating like he is.” Johnny said.

“ Scott’s mother started this rose garden.” Teresa said as she stood up and walked over to one of the big plants full of beautiful big red roses. “ Murdoch told me how she brought this one all the way from Boston with them. That’s why it’s so much bigger than the other ones.”

Johnny stood up and walked over next to her. “ They’re beautiful…….like you.” he said.

Teresa turned to face him. “ Johnny, do you like me?”

Johnny stepped closer to her and let his eyes fall to her breast briefly before going back to her eyes. “ Teresa I……”

“ You’re twenty……..I’m eighteen.” she cut in and said. “ I like you Johnny. I can’t explain it, but when I’m with you, I feel so at ease and so……….different inside.”

“ Murdoch,  can Johnny take me to Green River in the morning?” Teresa asked that night.

“ Can I ask what you need to go to town for?”

“ I want to make a new dress for the church social next month.”

Murdoch looked at her, then Johnny. “ Would you mind taking her son?”

“ No. It gets me out of the house.” Johnny said as he glanced at her.

“  Teresa, would you excuse us please. I want to talk to Johnny.”

Teresa smiled at Johnny as she stood up. “ I think I will turn in now.”

“ I think I will also.” Scott said.

Murdoch waited until they were both gone upstairs. “ Young man, I know you have led a wild, carefree, unchaperoned life with no cares about certain things and I can’t do anything about that. Teresa is like a daughter to me John. I don’t want her hurt or used because she’s innocent. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?”

“ I know Teresa isn’t a saloon girl Murdoch, and I think you should know…….I don’t think of her as a sister.”

Murdoch walked over and poured two brandies. “ The two of you are spending a lot of time together. What are your intentions?”

Johnny walked over to him. “ I like her, and I would never do anything to hurt her……..or dishonor her.”

“ I take it she feels the same way about you?”

“ She does. Look Murdoch, I didn’t plan on……….”

“ Falling in love with her?” Murdoch cut in asking. “  Have you ever been in love Johnny…….Do you know how to properly court a girl?”

“  No.”

“ Johnny, Teresa is naive. She’s getting to an age where she is going to want to experience different things……Things with a boy. I expect you to conduct yourself in a proper manner with her.” Murdoch said firmly. “ I will permit you to court her…..but if you cross the line and dishonor her……….I will send her away to a boarding school. Do I make myself clear?”

“ Your brother told me he has feelings for Teresa.” Murdoch said as he stood up and walked over to the sideboard. “ Drink?”

“ No thank you. Does that bother you?” Scott asked.

“ I’d be lying if I said no son.”  he said.

“ Because of his past?”

“ Partly yes…..I know he wants to leave his past behind and live his life as Johnny Lancer.”

“ As I said before, Teresa might just be what we need to keep Johnny here. To settle him down.” Scott said.

“ I want you to help him properly court Teresa….and I want you to keep an eye on the two of them together when you can.” Murdoch said.

“ You’re going to look right pretty in that dress you bought.” Johnny said as they headed back to Lancer.

“ I wish today didn’t have to end. I’ve enjoyed being alone with you.” she said.

“ So have I, but we will be alone again.” he said.

“Can you stop the buggy please?”

Johnny stopped the buggy off the road next to a stream. “ Is something wrong?”

Teresa climbed down and walked over to the stream.

Johnny climbed down and walked over to stand behind her. “ What’s wrong?”

“ I don’t know……..I feel different inside when I’m alone with you.” she said. “ It’s feelings I’ve never felt before.”

“ Hey.” Johnny said as he turned her around to face him. “ Does that scare you?”

“ Some…..But being alone with you doesn’t scare me.” she said.

“ Good.” Johnny responded as he stepped closer to her and put his right hand under her chin. “ Makes it easier for me to do this.” he said before lowering his lips to hers and gently kissing her for a few seconds.

Teresa stopped breathing when she felt his lips ever so gently on hers making her whole body start to tingle inside.

“ You okay?” Johnny asked softly.

Unable to speak she looked up into his blue eyes, her heart melting, she smiled.

Johnny smiled and lowered his lips to hers again and ran his tongue over her bottom lip before sliding it inside her mouth to taste her. Moaning as he pulled her to him and deepened the kiss.

Teresa felt like she was floating when Johnny kissed her again. She had heard about kissing like this from a friend, but never dreamed she would experience it herself. Moaning, she slid her arms around him and started running them up and down his back.

Johnny knew if he continued kissing her like he was he would want to touch forbidden places. Touching her in ways she had never been touched. Breaking off the kiss he let his left hand slowly run down between her breast and stop. When she didn’t move away from him or startle, he unbuttoned her shirt just enough to slide his hand inside and touch her flesh. Kissing her again, feeling her moan as he rubbed and squeezed her right breast, enjoying the effect he knew he was having on her.

Knowing he couldn’t take it all the way yet he forced himself to stop. When his body started waking up. “ I need to stop before we both get in trouble.

“ I don’t want you to stop touching me Johnny. It feels so good. Please, we don’t have to make love, but there’s no harm in touching, exploring each other’s bodies is there?”

“ Not here Teresa. It’s too easy to get caught.” He said. “ Trust me…stopping wasn’t easy for me to do. Let’s head back.”


Chapter 3

Johnny stole every minute he could with Teresa. Sam released him for light work, but he still couldn’t do any hard riding or heavy lifting. His wound was healed up, but the rib still needed time to completely heal. In the evenings when he could be alone with Teresa, he would kiss her passionately, driving his body as well as hers crazy. Whenever he went into town, he would go to the saloon and go upstairs so he could relive the sexual tension he was feeling as he explored Teresa’s body, unable to make her his. Every minute they spent together his hands would roam over her breast, touching, squeezing them just hard enough to arouse her more.

“ John, I need to talk to you about something that has come up.” Murdoch said a month later as they ate supper. “ I know this is short notice, but me and your brother have to leave for Sacramento in the morning.”

“ In the morning Murdoch?” Teresa said.

“ Yes.” Murdoch said as he sat back in his chair. “ John… have been conducting yourself properly with Teresa, and because of that….I am going to trust you with her care while we are gone.”

“ How long will you and Scott be gone?” she asked.

“ Three days.” Scott said.

“ What is it you want me to do while you’re gone?” Johnny asked.

“ Handle any problems that may come up, but mainly make sure the men get them two month old calves rounded up at south mesa and start branding them.”

“ How many men you want on the crew?” Johnny asked.

“ Four men should be enough to move the herd and then three for the branding. The line-shack was just stocked so they can stay there.” Murdoch explained.

“ Okay. What else?”

“ That’s all. I want you to take it easy.” Murdoch said.

“ I still can’t believe Murdoch left us alone for three days.” Teresa said as she sat down on the couch and snuggled up next to Johnny. “ How’s it feel being the one in charge?”

“ Unreal in a way.” he said as he wrapped his arms around her and untied her robe. Reaching under her chin, he turned her face so he could kiss her.

Teresa turned her head and responded to Johnny’s kiss. Moaning when his hands went down to her breast and started rubbing, pinching and pulling on her nipples.

Johnny couldn’t stop himself from doing what he was going to do to Teresa right there on the couch. Moving from behind her, he gently pushed her down onto her back, got down on his knees next to the couch and let his hands pleasure her. Bringing her to her first of many climaxes they would experience together.

“ Let’s turn in.” Johnny said as he stood up a short time later.

“ I don’t think I can stand up.” she said.

“ If I can, you can.”

Teresa stood up and put her hand between his legs, feeling his hardness. “ Oh my.”

“ Go to bed.” Johnny said.

“ I can’t let you go to bed like that. There has to be something I can do for you?” she asked.

“ There is, but only if you want to. You can stop at any time.” Johnny said as he took her hand in his and went to her bedroom. Stepping inside he showed Teresa how she could help him. When she finished, he stood on shaky legs. “ I would have done that, but watching you do it to me turned me on even more.”

“ You better now?” she asked.

“ For now I am.” he said. “ Thank you.”

“ You’re welcome Johnny. Goodnight.” Teresa said as he left her room.

Johnny  stopped outside her door and sighed, walked over to the sideboard he poured a shot of tequila. The promise he made to his father to court Teresa right and not dishonor her he was finding harder and harder to keep. Tonight he allowed her to touch him. To see him, pleasure him, making it harder for him to resist temptation and make her his all the way. Every time he kissed her his body wanted him to do more. Tonight, even though he didn’t make her his in consummation he crossed the line touching forbidden places and giving her her first climax using his hand.

“ Murdoch, Scott this is Billy Mayfield and Zack Taylor from Texas. They’re here for the founders of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.” Jim Porter said. “ Gentlemen, this is Murdoch and Scott Lancer.”

“ Lancer….I heard of you. Your ranch is the biggest in the San Joaquin.” Taylor said.

“ One hundred thousand acres with twenty thousand head of cattle.” Mayfield said. “ Can I ask how long Lancer has been around?”

“  I bought Lancer thirty years ago and built it up from nothing.” Murdoch said.

“ Would you consider selling it?” Mayfield asked.

“ No…….When I’m gone, my two sons will continue to run it.” Murdoch said.

“ Two sons……….so you found Johnny finally?” Porter asked.

“ We did.” Murdoch said.

“  Now he’s from that Mexican whore you met in Matamoros, and got pregnant and married?”

Murdoch grabbed Porter by his jacket. “ Don’t you ever speak about Maria like that again. She was not a whore.”

“ You Mister Porter, I believe you were a member of the Wyoming Stock Growers and took part in the Johnson County War.” Slaughter added. “ You and about sixty other men decided to attack innocent farmers.”

“ Innocent farmers. Those bastards brought sheep into cattle country. They stripped the land, ate everything down to the soil wherever they went.” Porter said with anger.

“  Is that what you said to Ella Watson and Jim Averell before you and those vigilantes you rode with hanged them?” Taylor asked.

“ Funny the only witness to the hangings was a rancher named Gene Crowder and he was found murdered two days before the trial started.” Mayfield said. “ I find it more than coincidence that you show up here in California from Wyoming not long after that.”

“ I did nothing wrong in Wyoming trying to keep the land for cattle, and I will do the same here.” Porter said before walking away.

“ I’ll offer you three dollars an acre Mister Lancer.” Mayfield said.

“ Maybe I didn’t make myself clear……Lancer is not for sale.” Murdoch said.

“ Every man has a price Mister Lancer. Some it’s money, others like Porter it’s with blood.” Mayfield said.

“ Lancer takes care of its own. Something you might want to remember.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ Our boss asked us to make an offer, that’s all we’re doing sir.” Zack said.

“ You made it, and I gave you my answer.” Murdoch said. “ Let’s go son.”

“ I have a feeling we have not seen the last of those two men from Texas sir.”

“ So do I son. They knew about your brother so that makes me worried for his safety.” Murdoch said.

“ What those men said about Porter.”

“ Is of no concern of ours son.”

Johnny came downstairs just after six to find Teresa finishing up breakfast. Walking up behind her, he wrapped his arms around her and kissed her neck. “ Good morning beautiful.”

“ Good morning.” she said as she turned around to kiss him.

Johnny moaned as he ran his hands up and down her back.

Teresa stepped back. “ We could go to my bedroom.”

“ Murdoch will be back tomorrow.” Johnny said.

“ That gives us today to spend in bed.” she said as she started undoing his pants.

“ Teresa…….I can’t.” he said as he stopped her.

“  How long are you going to resist me?”

“ Resist you?”

“ Resist doing more than we do……I want you to make love to me? I want what I held in my hands last night inside me.”

“ Teresa, I want nothing more than to make love to you…….but I made a promise to Murdoch I would court you proper.”

“ But we’ve been seeing each other…..with his permission for a few months now. He wouldn’t know.”

“ I…….Teresa, when a man and woman come together…..when they make love it should be for all the right reasons……Not for lust.”

“ I don’t understand, we both want too.”

“ When I make you mine, I will take something from you  that you can never get back.” Johnny explained.

“ You mean when we come together like when animals……”

“ Yes.” Johnny cut in and said as he stood up. “ That’s it exactly.”

Teresa stood up and walked around to him. Bringing her hands up, she started running them over his chest. “ I want you Johnny.”

“ I need to go give the men their jobs for the day.” Johnny said before kissing her and walking out.

“ Johnny, if we got married?”

“ If you were my wife I would make love to you every chance I could……But marriage is a step I’m not ready for, and won’t be for a while. I’ll see you later.” Johnny said.

“ You alright?” Scott asked as the stage bounced along.

“ I will be once we get off this damn stage.” Murdoch said.

“ Maybe next time we should take our horses to Sacramento instead?” Scott suggested.

“ Maybe. I think when we get back I’m going to find out all I can about those two men, Mayfield and Taylor.”

“ You thinking they have a motive for being here?”

“ Why would two men from Texas come to California? They have enough cattle and ranchers in Texas.”

“ They said they were here for the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.”

“ I don’t think so son. My gut instinct tells me they are here for another reason, and that reason has nothing to do with Lancer.”

“ Do you think maybe Johnny knows these men?” Scott asked.

“ We’ll ask him if he does, or if he’s heard of either of them or this association they say they represent.”

“Johnny walked into the kitchen late afternoon to find Teresa at the sink washing vegetables. Wrapping his arms around her he kissed her neck.

Teresa turned around to face him. “ Johnny, do you want children?”

“ Some day I do.” he said.

“ With me?” she asked.

“ I don’t know Teresa, possibly, but…..I feel like you’re in a hell bent hurry for us to consummate our relationship instead of building it, making it stronger.” Johnny responded.

“ I’m eighteen…..Most girls my age have already married and or had a man.” she pleaded.

“ Don’t rush it querida. It will happen.” he said.

Murdoch and Scott walked into the house to find Johnny and Teresa eating supper.

“ I hope there’s some food left.” Scott said.

“ Murdoch, Scott, you’re home early.” Teresa said as she stood up and went to greet them.

“ I thought you weren’t due back until tomorrow.” Johnny asked as he stood up.

“ We decided to come back a day early son.” Murdoch said. “ I’ll explain why later.”

“ I’ll get you two a plate.” Teresa said before heading to the kitchen.

“ Just keep some warm for us Teresa, we need to freshen up before we eat.” Scott suggested.

“ Everything alright son?”

“ Yeah, everything’s fine.” Johnny said. “ I was just not expecting you back until tomorrow is all.”

“ I think I will go freshen up.” Scott said before heading upstairs.

“ I have Walt, Pedro and Frank doing the branding.” Johnny said. “ I rode out there today and they have about half the calves done.”

“ Good. Any problems?” Murdoch asked.

“ Nope. Everything’s been fine.”

“ This may prove to be harder to do than we thought.” Zack Taylor said.

“ At least we know he’s there.” Billy Mayfield said.

“ So how we going to do this?”

“ Let’s go to the hotel and ask him.”

“ We can’t go wake him up. It’s after midnight Billy.”

“ Then we’ll ask him in the morning.” Zack said. ‘ Let’s go find us a couple whores for some fun.”

“  Murdoch, since it’s Sunday, could me and Johnny have a picnic.” Teresa asked.

“ John is free to do what he wants on Sundays. I see no reason why you couldn’t.” Murdoch said.

“ Teresa, your cooking taste so much better than what we ate in the hotel.” Scott said. “ You are going to make someone a very lucky man some day when you get married.”

“I know I will, and so does he.” she said as she stood up. “ I’m going to go fix our picnic basket.”

“ You want to take the Buggy?” Murdoch asked.

“ No, it’s a beautiful day for a ride.” Teresa said as she headed into the kitchen.

“ I guess I’ll go saddle our horses.” Johnny said. He knew what Teresa had planned once they were alone. He knew that he would make her his before they came back, and there was nothing his father could do to stop them from coming together. He knew he wouldn’t be able to refuse her once he seen her naked. That thought alone had driven him to countless sleepless nights he would lay in bed thinking of what it would be like having her naked flesh under his as he made her his. As he ran his hands over her flesh, touched her breast, and between her legs especially. Many times the thought of touching her between her legs as she touched him made him have to satisfy himself, something he didn’t like doing, but had no choice in order to sleep.

“ You alright brother?” Scott asked as he walked into the barn.

“ I’m fine.” Johnny said as he saddled Teresa’s horse.

“ It’s just that when Teresa asked about the picnic, I couldn’t help but notice you didn’t seem to keen on going.” Scott suggested.

“ You’re reading into nothing brother.” Johnny said as he led the horses out of the barn.

“ Johnny, how about next week we take a ride out to Black Mesa and look at the mustangs.”

“ Those Capanero de Palomino’s Murdoch said are here?”

“ I figured maybe you would like something that is yours alone. There are some good stallions and mares running up there.”

“ I’d like that, but the old man isn’t gonna allow us to do that on a work day.”

“ He will because we sell horses to the army. It’s a contract he just got a month before you came home. This time next year we have to provide one hundred broke horses for the army at Fort Tejon.” Scott explained.

“ Okay.” Johnny said as Teresa walked out of the house and handed Johnny two packed sets of saddlebags and handed them to Johnny.

“ You two have a good time today.” Murdoch said as he walked outside.

“ We will.” Teresa said as she gave him a hug. “ Thank you.”

“ I asked Johnny about getting his own horse next week when we start rounding up mustangs for the army.” Scott said as they watched them ride away.

“ Would you be upset if I put your brother in charge of that contract?”

“ Not at all. I think it would be good for him.” Scott responded. “ When I mentioned him having something that would be his alone, he liked that idea.”

“ I have a feeling your brother has never really had anything that was his alone.” Murdoch said. “ Lets go in and get started on the month end book reports.”

“ What do you want?”

“ We did as you asked.” Billy Mayfield said.

“ And?”

“ He’s there alright.” Zack said.

“ Lancer refused our offer to sell, and he was very stern in telling us he won’t sell Lancer. That they will fight to the death to keep it.” Billy added. “ How come you want that land so bad?”

“ I don’t want the land. Just do what I am paying you to do. Find a way of killing that half-breed.” the man ordered.

“ You never said it was Johnny Madrid you want us to kill.” Zack said. “ The deadliest gunfighter west of the Mississippi.”

“ If you wanted to know, you should have asked.” the man said.

“ Why you want him dead?” Billy asked.

“ May reasons for wanting him dead are personal.” the man said. “ I will be leaving to take care of other business. I want Madrid dead, and  I don’t want to see either one of you again until the job is finished….Get out.”

 “ You know, there’s been something bothering me Billy. How come that old man wants him dead so bad?” Zack asked as they headed back downstairs.

“ You asked him and he said it was personal.”

“ I think we should ride to Lancer and tell Madrid.”

“ You think he’ll remember us?”

“ After riding together for a year, he’ll remember us.”

“ There it is.” Teresa said as they stopped their horses two hours later on a ridge.

Johnny looked down at a crystal clear small lake surrounded by granite cliffs with a waterfall. “ It’s as beautiful as you said.”

“ There’s a trail we can take down over there, but we have to walk the horses down it.” Teresa said as she dismounted, walked her horse over to it and started down the path. Once at the bottom, she mounted up and rode over to the waterfall, stopping under a huge cottonwood tree.

“ This is the perfect spot.” she said as she dismounted.

Johnny undid the saddlebags and blanket he put on the back of his saddle. “ I’ll take care of the horses.” he said as he set the blanket and saddlebags down.

Teresa spread one of the blankets out, then started taking the food out of the saddlebags.

“ So what all did you bring?” Johnny asked as he walked over and sat down.

“ Fried chicken from last night, biscuits, and a couple sarsaparilla’s I put in the water to chill.” she said as she removed her boots before standing up.

“ What are you doing now?” he asked.

“ Removing my clothes to go swimming.” she responded. “ You going to join me?”

Johnny stood up and watched Teresa remove her shirt and then her pants allowing him to see her in her bloomers and chemise. The sun showing all her curves.

“  I didn’t bring anything to swim in.” he said.

“ That’s alright.” she said as she started running her hands up and down his chest, feeling his breathing getting deeper and faster. Sliding her hands down, she pulled his shirt out of his pants and up over his head. “ I’ve already seen and touched you remember?”

Johnny reached down and stopped her. “ Teresa.”

“ I’ll be waiting for you in the water.” she said before going to the water’s edge and wading in.

Johnny stood there watching her enter the water. Sitting down, he removed his boots, stood up and removed his pants. Walking over to the water’s edge he waded in and over to her. Looking at her, he could see thru her white bloomers.

“ You’re so beautiful.” he said.

“ I know you want to Johnny.” she said  as she came to him and their mouths came together.

Johnny could feel his hardness pressing against her. Holding her to him, he moved his hips, rubbing her as he sought relief bringing her to her second climax with him without dishonoring her.

“ When are you going to talk to Johnny about those two men?” Scott asked.

“ I was thinking of doing that tonight when they get back.”

“ Can I ask what you would do if Johnny……..if him and Teresa…..”

“ If he dishonored her out of wedlock?”

“ Yes.”

“ Get very angry with him. He told me he wouldn’t dishonor her. Do you know something I don’t son?” he asked.

“ I think Teresa has plans to have Johnny…..I think she’s making it hard for him to keep that promise to you sir.”

“ Teresa knows nothing about that. She’s an innocent young lady.”

“ A young lady who grew up on a cattle ranch. She knows about it, just not in the human way.”

“ And just what are you saying son?”

“ I’m saying Teresa is almost twenty years old. She’s see both horses and cattle breeding. Her body is going to start………”

“ Enough…..I don’t want to discuss this any longer.”

“ Why? You took his mother to bed, got her pregnant and then married her. Like grandfather said that day, all Johnny has to do is think about the day you two married and the time he was born, he will know she was pregnant three months before you married her. If Johnny has made love to Teresa and got her pregnant………he’s only doing the same that was done to his mother.” Scott said firmly before walking away.

Teresa walked out of the water and removed her bloomers while Johnny’s back was turned to her.

Johnny turned around and found himself staring at Teresa’s totally naked body. A body he so wanted to make his, but wouldn’t because he gave his word to his father. “ Damn querida. Put your clothes on.”

“ I will after we make love. I know you want me Johnny.” she said. “ I know what happened the other night and today in the water you want to do inside me.”

“ I told you why I can’t. I gave my word, and I intend on keeping it.”

“  I love you and I want you to make me yours.” she pleaded.

“ Teresa…..I’m  a man of my word.” Johnny said. “ And I gave Murdoch my word I wouldn’t dishonor you. Why can’t you accept that, and just let us build our relationship. What you’re wanting shouldn’t happen until your wedding night.”

Teresa walked up to him with anger and slapped him as hard as she could. “ Go to hell.” she spat before grabbing her clothes to get dressed.

Murdoch walked out the veranda doors and watched as Johnny, and Teresa rode into the yard. “ You’re back early.”

Teresa ignored Murdoch as she dismounted and went into the house.

“ I’ll take your horses Johnny.” Walt said.

“ Hey, how’d the branding go?” Johnny asked as he handed him the reins.

“ Good, we got one hundred and seventy eight calves branded.” Walt said before taking the horses to the barn.

“ Is something wrong son?”

“ I’m done. It’s clear she has no intention of building our relationship up to the point I would consider asking her to marry me. I’m sorry.”

“ You don’t owe me an apology son. I’m proud of you for honoring your word.” Murdoch said. “ Why don’t you go take a hot bath. I want to talk to you about something before supper.”

“ I think I will. Where’s Scott?”

“ I think he’s up in his room reading a book or taking a nap.”

“ Feel better?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yeah.  You wanted to talk to me?” Johnny asked as he walked into the grand room.

“ I do.” Murdoch said as he looked up from what he was working on at his desk. “ Sit down son.”

Johnny walked over and sat down in a chair in front of his father’s desk.

“ Are you happy here son?”

“ Mostly….why?”

“ Scott said he told you about the contract I signed with the army to provide horses for them. I talked this over with him, and we feel you should be in charge of that contract son. Would you be interested in taking on that responsibility?” Murdoch said as he set a file on the desk.

Johnny sat there unable to speak for a few minutes. “ You would do that?” he finally asked as he picked up the file.

“ Yes. I think you would be the perfect man for the job. Now if you accept, I will still expect you to do work for the ranch when needed.”

“ Yeah…..yeah sure I’ll do it.” Johnny said as he read the contract. “ I think we can give them what they want.”

“  So do I. There are more wild horses on this land than you can break in a lifetime son.” Murdoch said.

“ That’s a lot of horses.” Johnny said.

“ Yes it is.” he said. “ You’re still upset about Teresa aren’t you?”

“  She’s mad at me because I kept my word to you.” Johnny said as he walked over and poured a shot of tequila and downed it to help calm his nerves. “ She stood there in front of me totally naked and refusing to…….It wasn’t easy to do, but I resisted temptation.”

“ I’m proud of you son. I know how seductive a woman can be. Your mother was very seductive.”

“My mother………is that what happened between the two of you in Matamoros. Did she seduce you into her bed?” Johnny asked.

“ We had what you would call a whirlwind relationship son.”

“I know you got her pregnant three months before you married her. I know I’m your bastard son.”

“ No you’re not! You are my son. Yes she was pregnant before we married, but that has no bearing on me marrying her. I loved your mother son.” Murdoch said firmly. “ We were legally married when you were born, therefore you are not a bastard.”

“ I’m not a fool Murdoch. I know when a woman gets pregnant before being married, that child is a bastard.” Johnny said.

“ You are not……..and I don’t ever want to hear you say that again.” he said firmly as he walked over and poured two shots. “ You worked range wars in Texas didn’t you?”

“ Around the border, why?”

“ Do you know two men named Billy Mayfield and Zack Taylor?”

“ I know them. We rode together for a year. Why?”

“ They were in Sacramento at the meeting. They said they were there on behalf of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.” Murdoch explained.

“ They’re god men Murdoch.”

“ Did you do a job with them in Wyoming?”

“ Yeah, I was in Wyoming for a short time.”

“ There’s something not right about them being here.”

“ Murdoch those two are harmless.” Johnny said.

“ Son…..I need to know…… these men have a grudge against you?”

“ No……I don’t know why they’re here Murdoch.”

“ Alright. I had to ask son. I hope you understand?”

“ Yeah, I understand.”

Johnny looked at his father then Teresa. “ Teresa…….I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I’m about to say, and I want Murdoch and Scott to hear it so there is no confusion. I’m ending our relationship here and now. You refuse to respect me, and seem to have only one thing on your mind. I have been with saloon girls and your behavior toward me this last month is the same as those women who are paid to have sex.”

“ Then go have sex with those………You’re nothing but a liar.”

“ I’ve never lied to you Teresa. Maybe someday you’ll grow up and realize that.”

“ Oh I am grown up Johnny. I’m more grown up than you or anyone else in this room realizes.” she said.

“ You may think you are……but trust me…’re not.” Johnny said. ‘ And if you think my giving you what you want makes you grown up you are sorely mistaking.”

“ Like you would know when all you know is whores in saloons.”

“ Teresa!….I will not tolerate you speaking like that in this house young lady.”

Teresa stood up, glared at Johnny a minute before storming off to her bedroom.

“ I’m sorry Murdoch. I never should have.”

“ It’s not your fault son. You kept your word to me, and I appreciate that.”

“ I’m gonna ride out and start bringing mustangs in.” “ Johnny said. “I seen a herd of about sixty head yesterday.”

“ When I was in the cavalry the army mainly used dark colored horses.” Scott said.

“ Yeah. Usually four to ten years on age, broke to bridle and saddle. No mares or stallions.” Johnny added. 

“ The agreed price the government is paying is two hundred dollars a head.” Murdoch said. “ They will have a bank draft for you when you deliver them.”

“ So any mares we round up, you turning them out?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah. All mares get turned out, and any mares in a herd with a foal at her side, I want to be careful  and not get them separated from their mother during round-up.” Johnny explained. “ You do realize we will need more corrals to keep these horses in.”

“ I have the lumber ordered for a big corral.” Murdoch said.

“ I’ll fix you Johnny. You’re going to be sorry you said what you did to me.” Teresa said as she sat in her bedroom.

“ Teresa……..come out here young lady…….now!” Murdoch ordered from outside her closed door.

Teresa walked into the grand room. She knew she was about to get a lecture from Murdoch for the way she treated Johnny at breakfast.

“ Sit down young lady. I want to talk to you about your conduct. A young lady does not act or talk the way you did. You accused Johnny of only knowing women who work in saloons…….Well young lady I did not raise you to behave like you are, and I don’t understand why you are in such a hurry for something special to happen. You’re eighteen years old, what you are wanting Johnny to do should happen on your wedding night, and for the right reasons…..not for lust, or curiosity.”

“ Maybe if you had practiced those words when you took his mother to bed….that half-breed wouldn’t be here.” she spat before leaving the room.

Murdoch stood watching as Johnny brought in a big herd of horses late afternoon a month later. Several new corrals had been built and a round-pen for breaking them in. A huge corral had been built to keep the broke horses in. All geldings meeting the specifications of what the army wanted.

“ He has a way with horses sir.” Scott said as he rode up and dismounted.

“ Yes he does.” Murdoch said. “ How’d it go today?”

“ Good. The men got the herd moved, and the footbridge repair should be done tomorrow.” Scott said. “ I think from observation, Johnny needs a couple more hands to help him break these horses.”

“ I was thinking about that watching him break horses yesterday.” Murdoch said. “ He has a way I’ve never seen before. He gentles them to the touch before he puts a saddle on them. Most men pin the horse, throw on a saddle and ride until the horse stops bucking.”

“ I heard Johnny tell Pedro that breaking a horse like that breaks the horses spirit.” Scott said.

“ It does, and it could kill the horse too.” Murdoch said. “ A few years ago I had a hand breaking a horse. He was told to stop because the horse was soaked in sweat, he didn’t and the horse dropped dead from it’s heart exploding. I fired that hand, and won’t tolerate anyone abusing an animal.”

“ You know it’s uncanny. Animal abuse is how me and Johnny first met.” Scott said. “ You know, we never did find out who shot Johnny.”

“ You thinking maybe it was Toby?” Murdoch asked.

“ It could have been. Johnny did get him fired.”

“ Your brother said he never seen who shot him.”

“ Looks like Johnny caught one of the palomino stallions.” Scott said. “ I’ll bet you a bottle of scotch that horse is for him.”

“ You don’t like scotch.” Murdoch said.

“ Alright, a bottle of Bushnell’s then.”

Research Notes:  Chapter 3


Chapter 4

“ I received an answer back on those two men, Mayfield and Taylor.” Murdoch said. “ They don’t represent them. The founders C.C. Slaughter and James C. Loving have never heard of either man, and have no interest in Lancer or cattle from California.”

“ So that brings us back to why they are really here.” Scott said as Johnny walked into the room yawning.

“You look tired son.” Murdoch said.

“ I am. That herd I brought in today has a palomino stallion in it. I want him for my own.” Johnny said.

“ We seen him come in. You need a good horse you can call your own.” Murdoch said.

“ Thank you brother.”

“ For what?”

“ I bet Murdoch a bottle of brandy that stallion was for you.”

Johnny smiled. “ I had him put in the small corral so he doesn’t get in a fight with another stallion.”

“ How old you think he is?” Murdoch asked.

“ Three. The right age to start breaking and training.”

“ What are you going to call him?”

“ Barranca.  It means a narrow winding river gorge in Spanish.” Johnny explained. “ When I ran away from the orphanage, I hid out in one for almost a year. I guess you could say that is where Johnny Madrid was born.”

“ Too bad you didn’t stay there.” Teresa said softly as she glared at Johnny, unaware he had heard her.

“ Since tomorrow is Sunday, why don’t you sleep in son.” Murdoch suggested.

“ I think I will. You know, Pedro is a good hand. He listens and is eager to learn.” Johnny said as he stood up.

“ Game of checkers tonight brother?”

“ Not tonight Boston. I’m gonna go out and check on Buttercups leg before I turn in.”

“ Can I come out with you and see her?” Teresa asked.

“ I’d prefer you not. You can see her in the morning.” Johnny said before heading outside.

Teresa went to her room angry and stopped outside her door. Instead of going to bed, she headed to the kitchen, went out the back door and around the house to the barn.

“ You’re gonna be alright. A few weeks of rest and you’ll be able to be ridden again.” Johnny said as he rubbed the mares left front leg.

“ How is she?” Teresa asked.

Johnny stood up and walked out of the stall. “ She’s doing good. A couple weeks rest and she’ll be as good as new.”

“ That’s good. Murdoch got her for my tenth birthday.” Teresa said.

“ I told you I didn’t want you out here with me.” Johnny walked over and put the bandages and wrap he didn’t use back in a bucket. When he turned around, he found himself face to face with Teresa.

“ Johnny….can we start over? I know we can make it work.”

“ Teresa, I’m tired, and you made it clear how you feel about me.” Johnny said. “ You weren’t happy with what I did do to you. You only care about taking all you can get, and don’t understand the consequences from it.”

“  I was wrong. This time away from you has given me time to see how wrong I was about you.” she said. “ I should have been respecting you as much as you were respecting me.”

Johnny looked at her. “ I want nothing more to do with you Teresa.” he said. “ It’s over between us.”

“ You bastard!” she said as lashed out and slapped him hard.

Johnny grabbed her arms. “ You little bitch…….Don’t you ever…..ever hit me again!”

“ Let go of me!” Teresa ordered.

Johnny shoved her back. “ Go back inside!” he ordered before turning away from her.

Teresa clenched her fist and gritted her teeth as she stood glaring at Johnny’s back.

Johnny opened his eyes to the smell of dirt and manure. Sitting up he closed his eyes as a wave of dizziness hit him. Touching his head, he found the side of his face covered in blood from a gash in his scalp. Standing up, he fought off dizziness as he staggered to the barn door. Clenching his teeth, he knew he had to make it to the house.

“ I’m thinking of sending Teresa to a convent school.” Murdoch said as he sat at his desk.

“ Convent school sir?” Scott asked.

“ It’s what she needs to learn to act like a lady more.” Murdoch responded as he stood up and walked over to the sideboard.

“ There is a school in Philadelphia. A lady I was seeing….Barbara, her father sent her there.”

“ You wouldn’t happen to be the reason for that would you son?”

“  I can’t imagine what would give you that idea.” Scott said with a smile as Johnny staggered into the grand room.

“ What the devil.” Murdoch said as he rushed to his sons side. “ Johnny, what happened?”

“ I got you brother.” Scott said as he grabbed his brother and held him up.

Johnny looked up at his father before giving in to blackness.

“ Take him up to his bed. I’ll get bandages and water.” Murdoch said.

Scott carried his brother upstairs and placed him in his bed. “ Jesus Johnny, what happened to you?” he said as he poured water in the basin and dipped a towel in it to start cleaning the blood away to see what happened to his brother. Seeing where the blood was oozing from, Scott started cleaning as much dirt as he could from the wound.

“ What the devil happened to him?” Murdoch said as he came in with water and bandages.

“ He wasn’t kicked in the head by Buttercup, but he does have a very deep gash in his temple from something.” Scott said.

“ Go wake up a hand to get Sam out here.” Murdoch ordered.

“ I’ll go get him myself, and get Teresa up here to help you.” Scott said before heading to the door.

Murdoch took over wiping away the blood and dirt so he could wrap the wound.

“ Teresa!” Scott yelled as he knocked hard on her door. “ Teresa…..wake up!”

“ Scott…what’s wrong?”

“ Go upstairs and help Murdoch with Johnny. I’m going to get Sam.”

“ What happened?” she asked.

“ We don’t know. Just go help Murdoch.” Scott responded as he headed down the hall.

Teresa tied her robe shut and slowly headed upstairs, stopping outside the room, watching Murdoch wipe blood away from Johnny’s wound. When she hit him, she had every intention of hurting him.

“ Teresa….don’t just stand there. Come help me.”

“ She was just standing there.” Murdoch said several hours later.

“ She was in bed asleep when Johnny was hurt.” Murdoch said.

“ Was she. For all we know she could have went out the back door and around to the barn.”

“ Now that I think about it…. those marks I found on his cheek look like scratches from fingernails.”

“ Sir, I think we should wait until Johnny is awake and can tell us what happened before we go making accusations.”

“ If she did this to him.”

“ If she did this to him what?” Scott asked. “ You raised her like she was your own daughter.”

“ Exactly. I raised her to be proper. Her behavior I would expect from your brother, but it’s him being the mature one, not her.”

“ And from the tone in your voice that surprises you sir?”

“ Given how your brother grew up….I guess it does son.”

“ I think you underestimate him sometimes.”

“ I think you both underestimate that boy sometimes.” Sam said. “ Now….before either of you ask me how he’s doing,  is there any coffee?”

“ I’ll get you some Sam.” Scott said.

“ You look tired Murdoch.” Sam said.

“ It’s been a long night.”

“ Here you go Sam.” Scott said as he brought a tray in with three cups and a pot of coffee.

“ Thank you Scott. Johnny has a deep laceration that took twelve stitches to close up.” Sam explained.

“ Will he be alright Sam?” Murdoch asked.

“ He has a concussion. He’ll need to be woke up every four hours. Make sure he wakes up completely and takes a little water to keep from dehydrating. He may not know who you are, where he’s at, or who he is.” Sam said. “Also, he may be sick to his stomach.”

“ Why?’ Scott asked.

“ A concussion can make him have memory loss, swelling on the brain or even blindness.” Sam explained.

“ Sam, is there any way you could tell what the wound was made by?”

“ I’m afraid not. What I do know is Johnny was hit from behind.”

“ Behind….why that…….”

“ Murdoch!” Scott said sharply.

“ Murdoch, I have known you a long time. The look I just seen on your face……What is going on?” Sam said and asked.

Murdoch let out a long sigh. “ As you know, Johnny has been courting Teresa for a few months now. He came to me and asked my permission to see her, and I gave it…..with the stipulation that he does not dishonor her.” Murdoch explained. “ I know coming to me….telling me Teresa was wanting more. She…….she did something that was not lady like and shocked me. When Johnny again refused, she lashed out and slapped him. He ended their relationship because he gave me his word he wouldn’t dishonor her. I thought everything was alright between them. She was civil toward him. Last night Johnny went out to the barn to check on her horse before he turned in, Teresa said she was going to bed. I think she went out the back door to the barn to try and seduce Johnny again, and when he refused, she lashed out and attacked him.”

“ What he was hit with……all I can say is I believe it was metal given the look of the wound.” Sam said. “ As for Teresa acting like she is….she’s unfortunately at that age young ladies want romance. The fact that Johnny has refused her shocks me given he’s had no proper upbringing.”

“ Me as well.” Murdoch said. “ Scott doesn’t think I should send her away. She could have killed him Sam. How can I let her continue to live here knowing that?”

“ I told you that when John wakes up, he might not remember what happened to him right away, or at all. Just last month I read an article where a Harvard student fell and hit his head hard on ice. When he woke up, he didn’t know who he was, or what his life was before the accident. Johnny could be the same way.”

“ And if he is, what do we do Sam?”

“ Nothing….If you tell Johnny what happened, it could cause problems. Be very selective in answering his questions……And Murdoch….by no means are you to ask him anything except what he remembers happened.”

“ Sam…..what about his past as Johnny Madrid?” Scott asked.

“ I don’t know.”

Johnny heard someone talking to him and shaking his shoulder. Opening his eyes, he blinked several times to try and focus his eyes. “ Leave me alone.” he mumbled.

“ I can’t do that little brother. I need you to open your eyes and sit up.” Scott said. “ Come on, sit up.”

Johnny rolled onto his right side, sat up and brought his legs over the side of the bed. Keeping his eyes closed as he fought dizziness and a wave of nausea.” Sick.” he said softly.

Scott grabbed the chamber pot and handed it to him. Pouring a glass of water he waited until his brother was done.

“ Drink some water.”

Johnny took the glass with a shaky right hand and drank some of the water. “ Thanks.” he said as his hands started shaking. Blinking several times trying to get his eyes to focus. “ Who are you?” he asked.

Scott remembered what Sam said they couldn’t do if Johnny didn’t remember them or what happened. “ You don’t know who I am?”

Johnny shook his head slowly before laying back down. “ My head hurts.”

“ It’s alright. Go back to sleep.” Scott said with a quiver in his voice as he covered his brother up. “ I’ll come check on you in a while.”

“ I woke him up.” Scott said as he walked into the kitchen. “ He didn’t know me. I got him to sit up, he got nauseous. I got him to drink a little water before he laid back down. Said his head hurts before he went back to sleep.”

“ He didn’t know you at all son?”

“ No. He was having a hard time focusing his eyes though.” Scott responded.

“ We’ll give him some time.” Murdoch said. “ Why don’t you go get some sleep. I’ll wake him up.”

“ I’m too angry to sleep.” he said.

“ I’ve been sitting here thinking about Teresa. Wondering if she did this to him or not. Accusing her without actual proof wouldn’t be right.” Murdoch said.

“  What do we do?” Scott asked.

“ Watch her and hope Johnny remembers what happened.”

“ And if he does?”

“ Then Teresa will be leaving this ranch.” Murdoch responded. “ I wrote a letter to Saint Mary’s Convent in San Francisco a couple months before Johnny came home.”

It had been two weeks since his injury. Every time Scott or Murdoch came into the room, he felt completely lost. Up until his concussion, he could remember nothing about his past and who he is. His life was blank like a child’s slate that’s been wiped clean.

“ Hello John.” Sam said as he walked into the room. “ How you doing today?”

“ Hey Sam. Been sitting here trying to remember something, anything before waking up in this room.” Johnny said.

“  Give it time John, the stress you’re putting yourself under isn’t good for your brain right now.” Sam said.

“ They won’t tell me anything Sam. I ask and get nothing. How am I supposed to remember when those two men won’t tell me anything?”

“ Have you had any dizziness or been nauseous?”

“ No. My headaches have pretty much stopped too.” Johnny said.

“ I don’t want you riding or doing anything to risk hitting your head again.” Sam said. “ You can start going downstairs. I know Murdoch would like you to join them for supper again.”

Johnny came downstairs the next morning to find Scott and Teresa at the table eating breakfast. “ Sorry I’m late. Murdoch leave?”

“ He did at sunrise. You okay?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah, I’ll be okay.” he said. “ I just couldn’t sleep last night.”

“  So what are you doing today Scott?”

“  I have to start balancing the books for the month, so I will unfortunately be sitting at the desk all day.” Scott said.

“ Books?’ Johnny asked.

“ Yes books. I have to make sure all the receipts are entered and then total them up so we know what we spent.” Scott said.

“ Welcome back sir.” Scott said as his father dismounted.

“ It’s good to be home son.” Murdoch said as they walked in the house. ‘Where’s Johnny?”

“ He’s upstairs resting.”

“ Has everything been alright between him and Teresa?”

“ As far as I know. They’ve been talking and getting along.”

“ Good.” Murdoch said as he poured a shot of brandy. “ I think I will go clean up and rest before supper.”

Johnny sat on the veranda porch watching his father talk to a hand. Walking around the yard he tried to remember anything about his past at the ranch. Any little piece of anything to help fill in the blanks. Walking around the hacienda to the back of the house he found Teresa in the rose garden.

“ They’re beautiful.” he said.

“ The rain has done wonders for them.” she said. “ You have any luck remembering anything yet?”

“ No, not yet. Sam said it could take time, or never come back to me.”

Teresa walked over to him. “ Don’t try so hard. You may not like the truth.” she said. “ I better go start supper. Excuse me.”

Johnny reached out and stopped her. “ Teresa… old are you?”

“ Eighteen. Why?”

“ Eighteen and no beau?” he asked.

“  Not anymore.” she said before walking away.

Johnny sat down on the bench and rubbed his temple. Every time he was near Teresa, his stomach got tight and his heart beat faster. Could he be attracted to her? Were they together before his accident and he just didn’t remember?

“  How is it coming with the horses son?” Murdoch asked as he sat watching his sons play checkers.

“ Good. We have fifty head broke.”

“ It’s late. I think I’m going to go to bed now.” Teresa said as she put her needlepoint away and stood up.

Johnny watched Teresa leave the room before standing up, walking over to the sideboard, and pouring a shot of whiskey. “ Did me and….was there something between me and Teresa?”

“  You were, but ended it before your injury.” Murdoch responded. “ She is only eighteen and what she was wanting, you wouldn’t give her and it angered her.”

“ That explains why I get a weird feeling in my stomach whenever I’m around her.” Johnny said. “ I think I’ll turn in.”

Johnny walked into the kitchen to find Teresa peeling potatoes.

“ Hello Johnny. Did you have a good rest?” Teresa asked.

“ Yeah, it was okay.” Johnny responded. “ Do you know where Murdoch or Scott are?”

“ Murdoch had to go to town and won’t be back until this evening.” Teresa said. “ Scott is out rounding up horses and won’t be back until supper time. You slept thru lunch. I can fix you a sandwich if you’re hungry.”

“  Murdoch said we were……..that before my accident we….you were my girl?” he stammered.

“ We still are.” Teresa said. “ Murdoch didn’t like us together……he forced you to end it.”

“ End it…..Why?”

“ Because we were going to get married and he thinks eighteen is too young for me.” Teresa said. “ He still thinks of me as a little girl.”

“ Even I can see you’re not a little girl.” Johnny said. “ You said you’re eighteen. Most girls your age are married. You ever fool around?”

“ I did a little with you before your accident.” she said. “ Murdoch forbid me being with you in that way, but you did things to my body I want to feel again.”

“ Murdoch isn’t here. Neither is Scott.” Johnny said.

Teresa walked over to Johnny. “ You made me feel so good touching me, and the way you would kiss me.”

Johnny smiled as he placed his right hand under her chin. “ Like this?” he asked as he lowered his lips to hers, running his tongue over her bottom lip before sliding it in her mouth, tasting her. Moaning as he deepened the kiss as his hands started roaming over her body.

Teresa felt like she was floating on a cloud when Johnny kissed her. “ We need to stop before someone sees us and tells Murdoch.”

“ I don’t want to stop.” Johnny said as his hands ran down her body to between her legs. Feeling the heat excited him as he started kissing her neck. “ I want to make love to you……..Can I?”

Teresa slid her hand between his legs and gave him his answer.

Murdoch rode into the yard and handed his horse off to Walt.

“Scott hasn’t come back yet.” Walt said.

“ Have you seen Johnny?”

“ No. I think he’s still in the house.”

Murdoch walked in the house to find the grand room empty. Walking to the kitchen he found it empty as well. Even Teresa wasn’t there making supper. A bowl of peeled potatoes sat on the counter. Walking down the hall, he opened her bedroom door to find her room empty. Sighing he headed upstairs hoping he wouldn’t find what his gut was telling him he would find in his sons room.


Teresa walked into Johnny’s bedroom and started removing her clothes as fast as she could as Johnny closed his door, walked over to his bed and removed his boots. Standing up, he removed his pants and watched as Teresa removed hers and stood before him totally naked.

“ God you’re so beautiful.” he said as he pulled her to him.

“ Take me Johnny. Make me yours.” Teresa begged.

Johnny pushed her down on the bed, positioned himself between her legs and started making her his. Totally unaware he was hurting her. That this was her first time ever having a man.”

Teresa clung to him tightly as she felt his hardness enter her and her muscles were stretched in ways they had never been before Ignoring the pain, she wrapped her legs around him, she pressed her head back into the pillow as her body started feeling like it did that night on the couch. “ I feel like I’m going to explode.” she said.

“ Let it go.” Johnny said as he slammed into her. His own climax starting to build. “ Let it go with me querida.” he begged as he released into her. His body shaking and feeling like it would never calm down. Continuing to move in and out of her, he felt himself release a second time. Lowering his mouth to hers, he kissed her with hunger as both their bodies released and shook. Johnny was so engrossed in making love to her, he didn’t hear his father come upstairs and open his door.


“ What the hell?” Johnny said as he quickly moved off Teresa.

“ You got five minutes to get dressed and come downstairs.” Murdoch ordered. “ Both of you!”

Johnny came downstairs just behind Teresa ten minutes later.

“ How dare you……..You little trollop.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ You got no call talking to her like that Murdoch.” Johnny said with anger. “ You got no right breaking us up.”

“ I didn’t break………You ended it because of what……..Johnny, she attacked you in the barn when you wouldn’t…….Teresa is the reason you lost your memory.” Murdoch said as he tried to keep his anger in check. “ She lied to you…..and she used you son.”

“ Lied to me….She said you made me end it with her because you think she’s too young.” Johnny said.

“ You made me a promise you wouldn’t dishonor her, and you had been keeping your word, but Teresa kept pushing for you to…….She’s been after you to do what you obviously did upstairs.” Murdoch explained.  “ Why I don’t know.”

“ The why is simple…..I want Johnny to get me pregnant.”

“ Pregnant………My god Teresa….you’re only eighteen. You don’t want a child yet.”

“ Why not…..You had him out of wedlock. You weren’t married to Maria when you got her pregnant.”

“ I don’t want to get married yet Teresa…….I’m only twenty.”

“ You will if you don’t want Johnny Madrid’s child growing up a bastard like you did.” she spat.

“ I don’t want to look at you right now, and if you think you can threaten me or my son, you are sorely mistaken. Get the hell out of my sight.”

Johnny walked over to the sideboard, poured a shot of tequila and downed it.

“ How could I have been so stupid!” he said as he poured another shot and downed it.

Murdoch walked over and put a hand on his sons to stop him from pouring a third shot.

“ Getting drunk isn’t the answer son.”

Johnny turned around, tears welled up and spilled out, running down his cheeks. “ I’m sorry Murdoch……I’m so sorry.”

Murdoch pulled his son into a hug. “ It’s not your fault son. She manipulated you. Played on your not being able to remember what happened before she attacked you.”

“ Why did she call me Johnny Madrid?”

“What’s going on?” Scott asked as he walked into the room and seen his brother crying.” What happened?”

“ Teresa lied to him again.”

“ I was a fool and dishonored her. She lied to me and I believed her.”

“ I’m sending her to a convent in San Francisco. I had inquired about it last year.” Murdoch said. “ I sent a wire requesting an escort for Teresa. They are sending someone here to escort her to the school.”

Scott found Teresa sitting in the kitchen crying. Sitting down across from her.

“ You just had to do it….Why?” he asked.

“ I don’t have to tell you why. There’s nothing you can do Scott. Your brother dishonored me.” Teresa said.

“ He didn’t force himself on you. You were a willing participant….. Murdoch took you in when your father died and raised you as his own daughter.” he said. “ I don’t understand why?”

“ Why is simple. I want part of Lancer and all its holdings. As his ward I’m entitled to nothing, but as his wife….I’m entitled to everything.” Teresa said. “ I’m tired of not being appreciated for all I do around here. I’m the one who sat with him when he was fevered. I’m the one who had to listen to him asking for that Mexican whore he married. Everything was fine until he came home. The only reason I wanted Johnny to make love to me is to take what is rightfully mine. What I have more than earned.”

“ To think I actually thought of you as a sister.” Scott said. “ You disgust me.”

Scott walked back in the grand room to find his brother standing over by the fireplace.. “ We need to talk sir.”

Murdoch went out on the portico. “ He wants to know who Madrid is. I think it’s time we tell him everything son.”

Scott told Murdoch what Teresa said, Why she was really doing what she was.

“ Where is she?”

“ I left her in the kitchen.”

“ Let’s go tell your brother everything.” Murdoch said as he headed back inside.

“ Who is Johnny Madrid?” Johnny demanded as Murdoch and Scott came back inside the house.

“ Sit down son.”

“ I don’t want to sit down Murdoch! I want some fucking answers!” Johnny demanded. “ Who am I!”

“Watch your mouth young man!” Murdoch ordered. “ I won’t tolerate that kind of language in this house!”

“ Who am I?”

“You’re my son….John Lancer….and Johnny Madrid.” Murdoch said. “ Sit down and we’ll tell you.”

Johnny rubbed his temple a few seconds before walking over and sitting down on the couch. Laying his head back, he closed his eyes as the pounding got worse.

Murdoch sat down across from Johnny and started telling him everything from when he met Maria right up to his accident.

Johnny stood up trying to remember what happened. The pain in his head was starting to make him feel dizzy and sick to his stomach.

“ You went out there that night to check on Buttercup before you went to bed. She was lame and you had been doctoring her.” Murdoch said. “ Me and your brother had stayed inside. We didn’t know Teresa had went out there.”

Johnny wrapped his arms around himself. “ She was behind me.” he said softly. “ I put the liniment away, turned around and she was there……She wanted me to……I told her I wouldn’t because I gave you my word I would never dishonor her.”

“ She had been trying for some time to get you to do that son.”

“ We argued….I told her to leave, to go back inside. She slapped me…… I grabbed her arms and shoved her away from me, turned around and……..that’s all I remember until I woke up on the floor and stumbled inside the house.” Johnny said. “ Why did she do it?”

“ She told me she did it because she’s not appreciated for what she does around here. That since we came home, she wasn’t the center of attention anymore.” Scott said.

“ Where is she?” Johnny demanded.

“ She was in the kitchen.”.” Scott said.

Johnny headed to the kitchen.

“ Should we stop him?” Scott asked as they followed Johnny to the kitchen.

“ No…Your brother needs to do this.”

Teresa got up from the table. “ What do you want?”

Johnny walked over and grabbed her by the arms. “ You tried to kill me……I remember it all  now. It was you that night!”

“ Let go of me!” Teresa demanded as she tried to get away.

“ You little bitch!” Johnny spat.

“ You didn’t think I was a bitch when we were upstairs and you were on top of me!”

“ You got what you wanted.” Johnny spat. “Murdoch,  Either she leaves…..or I do. I won’t stay in the same house with this bitch.”

Teresa lashed out and slapped Johnny hard across the face. “ I wish I had killed you!” she spat.

Johnny slapped Teresa back. “ Don’t you ever touch me again!” he said before heading upstairs.

Teresa stood there as tears ran down her face.

“ I wrote to a convent in San Francisco. Father Francisco and Sister Mary from the school will be coming here next week to escort you back there where you will spend the next three years being taught how to act proper, and like a lady.” Murdoch said. “ I will pay for the schooling, but you are not to set foot in this house ever again young lady.”

“ You forget one thing…..your son of yours dishonored me. I could be pregnant with his child.”

“ I will be telling them what has happened, and that you may be with child. If you are, they will know what to do.” Murdoch said. “ Until they get here, you will stay in your room when Johnny is here, and you will conduct yourself in a proper manner at meal time.”


Chapter 5

“ Mister Lancer, Scott, you need to come down to the corral. You have got to see this.” Walt said.

Murdoch and Scott walked down to the corral with Walt. Murdoch froze when he seen Johnny in the round pen with the golden stallion he had captured the day of his injury. For the first time he was getting a good look at the horse. Watching the stallion standing not thirty feet from his son, ears forward as Johnny softly talks to him.

“ I don’t like him being in there with that stallion. If he gets hit in the head before he’s healed up.” Murdoch said.

“ Just watch what Barranca does.” Walt said.

Johnny walked to the middle of the round-pen, never taking his eyes off the stallion. After taking five steps Barranca followed him. When Johnny stopped, the stallion kept walking and came up to Johnny, smelled his outstretched hand, then stepped closer and placed his head on Johnny’s left shoulder.

“ I don’t believe what I am seeing.” Scott said. “ Johnny has a gift with horses.”

“ Yes he does.”

“  En México le dirían un susurrador de caballos. Es un regalo de Dios.” Pedro said. ( In Mexico he would be called a horse whisperer. It is a gift from God.)

“ I think you might be right Pedro.” Scott said. “ I seen a man do almost the same thing during the war.”

Johnny walked over to the fence with Barranca following him. “ He still has his ears forward and is looking at me isn’t he?”

“ Yes he is son.” Murdoch said.

Johnny walked over and came out the gate. Once he closed the gate, Barranca bolted away and started galloping around the pen.

“ He’s going to make a good cow pony son.”

“ How you think he’s going to be when you put a saddle on him Johnny?” Pedro asked.

“ He’ll protest some, but it won’t be bad. We’ve got plenty of time to bond before I put a saddle on him.” Johnny said. “ I don’t want to break his spirit. You do that with a horse like him, and you ruin him. The thing to remember when breaking a good horse Pedro, is to build a bond with that animal if you can. Trust between horse and rider can save your life someday.”

“  I hope to know what you know to have a good horse of my own someday.” Pedro said.

“ You keep watching, learning and asking questions, and you will……. Always remember this, treat that horse the way you would want to be treated.” Johnny said.

“ Why don’t you go get cleaned up for supper son.” Murdoch suggested as they started toward the house. “ What the devil are they doing here?”

“ Mister Lancer, Scott.” Billy said. “ Hello Johnny. Been a long time.”

“ Billy…..Zack. What brings you two here from Texas?” Johnny asked.

“ Wrong intentions.” Zack said. “ You look good.”

“ I contacted Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.” Murdoch said. “  Funny thing…C. C. Slaughter and James C. Loving have never heard of either one of you, and they have no interest in Lancer or cattle from California.”

“ Back off Murdoch.” Johnny ordered. “ I told you these two are harmless. They’re not here to harm me.”

“ Maybe we should go to the house.” Scott suggested.

“ I don’t blame you for being suspicious Mister Lancer.” Billy said.

“ Johnny, we came here because we need to talk to you.” Zack said. “ We were brought here, and we both feel you have a right to know someone wants you dead.”

“ Sisters, welcome to Spanish Wells. There’s a hotel down the street.” the stage driver said.

“ Thank you. Can you tell us where we can find a ranch called Lancer?” Sister Mary asked.

“ Lancer. Sure, take the road south out of town and you’ll run right into it.” he said as he handed down their bags. “ The livery rents buggies. Lancer is about ten miles southwest of town.”

“ Thank you.” Sister Rose said.

“ It’s getting late in the day. Perhaps we should go to this Lancer in the morning?” Sister Mary suggested.

“ We could both use a good night’s rest and freshening up.” Sister Rose said as they headed down the street to the hotel.

“ What does this man look like?” Scott asked.

“ Man it’s still hard to believe you have a brother Johnny.” Zack said.

“ Teresa set two more plates for supper.” Murdoch ordered.

“ Just what we need, two more killers.” she said.

“ That will be enough Teresa. These men are my friends and you will show them respect.” Johnny said firmly.

Teresa glared at him a few seconds before heading to the kitchen.

“ Wow, I never thought I would see the day a woman would have hatred in her eyes for you Johnny.” Billy said. “ What you do to make her so angry at you?’

“ It’s a long story Billy.” Johnny said.

“ Which means you don’t want to talk about it.” Zack said.

“ About this older man.” Murdoch said.

“ Oh right. He’s wealthy, dresses real fancy in a suit. He never said your name. Just that he wanted the youngest son of Murdoch Lancer killed, and we found that out after we met you two in Sacramento.” Zack said. “ Johnny…..I swear we didn’t know it was you, and we have no intention of doing it.”

“ That’s right. You know us Johnny, we’re not killers.” Billy added. “ Range wars is one thing, but killing a man for another for money just cause he hates him……That don’t set right with me and Zack. Especially when that man is a good friend of ours.”

“ Where’s this man staying?” Murdoch asked.

“ He was in Green River the last time we seen him, but he said he was leaving to take care of some other business, but would be back. When we don’t know.”

“ Something I’m curious about. How did you know we would be in Sacramento?” Murdoch asked.

“ Article in the paper had a list of names telling who would be there.” Billy said. “ He had your ranch and name circled.”

“ I appreciate you two coming here and telling us this.” Murdoch said. “But here me when I say this…..If this is a trick to try and kill my son…..There won’t be a hole small enough to hide in.”

“ It’s not Mister Lancer. You have our word on that.” Billy said.

“ Let’s eat.” Murdoch said.

“ You boys looking for a job doing hard dirty work?” Johnny asked as they walked over to the table and sat down.

“ What kind of job?” Zack asked.

“ I have a contract to fill for the army rounding up, breaking and delivering a hundred head of horses to Fort Tejon, about two hundred and sixty miles south.” Johnny explained. “ We need to gather thirty head still. Scott’s been bringing them in with Walt and Pedro. You’ll meet them in the morning.”

“ We have fifty head broke already.” Scott said. “ The army is specific on the type of horses they want. Dark colored and sound. No mares or stallions. Four to ten years on age, broke to bridle and saddle.”

“ You have that many geldings?” Billy asked.

“ We’re gelding them as needed. Any stallions that come in, Johnny checks out and they either get released with the mares and foals or gelded.” Murdoch said.

“ Breaking horses is damn hard work Johnny. A man could get stopped on or killed.” Zack said.

“Bought the same risk as hiring out to a range war.” Billy said. “ The only difference is I won’t be shot at. I’ll do it Johnny.”

“ So will I.” Zack said.

“ Job pays a dollar a day with Sunday off. We’ll provide the horses for rounding up and three meals a day.” Murdoch said.

“ Out of curiosity what does the army pay for these mustangs?” Billy asked.

“ Up to two hundred dollars each.” Johnny said. “ We’ll be riding the mustangs.”

“ Question!” Billy said. “ They going to be on strings or in a herd?”

“ Strings. I’ll have five riders each with ten horses, and two riders with two pack-horses each with all our supplies.” Johnny responded. “ Once we leave, your pay will be a dollar a day until the horses are delivered. I’ll pay a bonus of twenty dollars to each man if we get all of  the horses there in one piece.”

“ Sounds good to me.” Zack said. “ I have to say, that was a right fine meal. Thank you.”

“  Thank you.” Teresa said as she stood up and started clearing the table.

“ Johnny up yet?” Scott asked.

“ He’s out introducing Billy and Zack to the hands.” Murdoch responded. “ I couldn’t help but notice the look on your face last night when they described the man who brought them here. You thinking it was Harlan?”

“ Grandfather is capable of doing just about anything to get what he wants.” Scott said. “ He’s made it no secret how he feels about Johnny, you, and me being here instead of with him back in Boston.”

“ It’s been several months since he was here. I don’t see him staying in the area that long son. I’m thinking it’s someone from your brothers past.” Murdoch said. “ And I’m not talking about gunfighters.”

“ You thinking maybe it’s someone he crossed in a range war.” Scott asked.

“ It’s an older man, so maybe someone who’s son your brother killed or got killed in a range war.”

“ Didn’t they say he left to take care of other business?” Scott asked as someone knocked on the door.

“  They did.” Murdoch said as he went and opened the door.

“ Mister Lancer, I’m Sister Mary and this is Sister Rose. We are from Saint Mary’s Convent.”

“ Huh……Oh please forgive me. Won’t you come in?”

“ Thank you. Is now not a good time?” Sister Mary asked.

“ No…now is fine. I was just not expecting you so early. Please, sit down.” Murdoch responded. “ This is my oldest son Scott.”

“ Can I get you some coffee or lemonade?” Scott asked.

“  No thank you.” Sister Mary said as she sat down. “ Your last letter said the young lady Teresa was in desperate need of female guidance. That she had become lost.”

“ Yes, well there have been some things happen since I wrote that last letter to you I’m afraid.” Murdoch said as he sat down.

“ Is the young lady your daughter?” Sister Rose asked.

“ No. Teresa’s father was my foreman for many years. He was killed when she was six and she became my ward.”

“ Your ward. So you decide what she does until she reaches her majority age of twenty one?” she asked.

“ Yes. There is something you should know.” Murdoch said. “ Something happened recently I feel you should be aware of.”

“ Mister Lancer, perhaps we should meet the young lady before you tell us any more about her?” Sister Mary asked.

“  Sir, I need to get going.” Scott said.

“ Yes. Have Teresa come in here please.” Murdoch requested.

“ This is a damn nice place Johnny.” Zack said.

“ Wow, look at that beauty!” Billy said. “ Is he one for the army?”

“  No. That one is mine.” Johnny said as Walt and Pedro walked up leading four horses.

“ Take them out to Black Mesa.” Johnny said as Scott walked up.

“ Murdoch would like to see you.” Scott said.

“ Okay. Try and get some with no foals.” Johnny said. “ I’ll see you guys this evening. Good hunting brother.”

“ You boys ready?” Scott asked as he mounted up.

“ Let’s go.” Walt ordered.

Scott held back as Walt, Pedro, Billy and Zack rode off. “ Johnny, there are two sisters from the convent at the house.”

“ For Teresa?” Johnny asked.

“ They are. I’ll see you tonight brother.”

“  Murdoch, Scott said you wanted to see me.” Teresa said as she walked into the grand room.

“ Teresa, this is Sister Mary and Sister Rose. They are from Saint Mary’s Convent, and are here to see you.” Murdoch said.

“ So you’re really going to send me away?” she asked.

“ There is only so much I can teach you about being a lady.” Murdoch said.

“ I don’t want to leave Lancer now Murdoch. Sending me away won’t change what has already happened.” she pleaded.

“ May I ask why you wish not to go now Teresa?” Sister Mary asked.

“ He wants to send me away to keep me from having what is rightfully mine now.” she responded.

“ A young lady needs to know things for when she takes a husband. How to take care of him, cook, clean, sew.” Sister Rose said. “ How to act in public, and dress. Trousers are not a proper ladies fashion.”

“ I wear dresses. Most of which I have made myself Sister. As for cooking and cleaning, I do all that and more right here.” Teresa said. “ You see, I’m the only woman in this house. It’s me who takes care of them. I’m the one who took care of Murdoch when he was shot in the back. His sons weren’t here to do it. They wanted nothing to do with him until months ago.”

“ Teresa….”

“ Mister Lancer, please let her speak.” Sister Mary requested.

“ Everything was fine until Johnny came here. He should have never been brought back here.” Teresa said.

“ Johnny, who is Johnny?” Sister Mary asked.

“ Johnny is my youngest son. His mother took him away from here when he was two. I spent eighteen years looking for him. Earlier this year he was finally found.”

“ In a Mexican prison.” Teresa cut in and said. “ He should have been left there.”

“ Young lady, clearly you have hostility toward the youngest son. Can I ask why you would say such a terrible thing?” Sister Rose asked.

“ Why don’t you ask Murdoch why I hate his son so much?” she demanded.

Murdoch sighed as he walked over to his desk, sat down and told them about Johnny.

“ I have heard of this man. You say Madrid is your son?” Sister Mary asked. “ He is considered a Saint in Mexico. Father Michael wrote telling of his plight to help the less fortunate.”

“ Johnny Madrid is anything but a Saint, Sister Mary.” Teresa said.

“ Young lady, you would do good to not judge a book by its cover.”

“ Sister Mary, there’s something you both need to know.” Murdoch said. “ There’s a chance Teresa could be with child.” Murdoch said as Johnny walked into the house.

“ Oh dear.” Sister Mary said as she stood up. “ Hello. You must be Johnny?”

“ Yes ma’am.” Johnny said as he walked over to them. “ Scott said you wanted to see me Murdoch.”

“ Mister Lancer, I notice both your sons and Teresa call you by your name. Can I ask why you permit this?” Sister Mary asked.

“ My sons didn’t grow up here at Lancer, and they are both grown men now.” Murdoch responded. “ Teresa has always called me by my first name ever since she was three.”

“ You said Teresa might be with child. That is a problem.” she said.

“ Why?” Johnny asked.

“ We don’t take in unwed pregnant mothers.” she said. “ I’m afraid Teresa would be sent to a home for women like her. But I must warn you. These places are not good. The baby could die, or be taken from her and sold.”

“ Can I ask is the father of the child one of your sons?” Sister Rose asked.

Murdoch looked at Johnny. He didn’t want what happened to be told, but found he couldn’t lie to the women. “ Teresa, please leave the room.”

“ Why?” she asked harshly.

“ Because I asked you too.” Murdoch responded. “ Leave the room….now!”

Teresa stood up and stormed out of the room.

Johnny sighed and walked over to the fireplace, wrapping his arms around himself.

Murdoch began telling the sisters what happened between Johnny and Teresa that day, and how she had treated him and tried to kill him that night in the barn.

“ I’m sorry Mister Lancer, but I’m afraid we cannot help the young lady.” Sister Mary said. “ I cannot bring someone to the convent such as her and put the others in danger. The young lady is clearly troubled and the type of help she needs can only come from a psychiatric hospital.”

“ If she was sent to a psychiatric hospital and was pregnant, what would come of the baby?” Johnny asked.

“ The baby would be taken from her for its own safety and placed in an orphanage.” Sister Mary said. “ There is a very good hospital in Santa Clara called Agnews Developmental Center. They can provide the help the young lady needs.”

“ Or perhaps since your son dishonored her he could marry her.” Sister Rose suggested.

“ I’m only twenty years old.” Johnny said softly.

“ Young man, maybe you should have thought about that before you dishonored the young lady?” Sister Mary asked.

Johnny walked over to her. “ Let me tell you something.”

“ Johnny……”

“ No Murdoch, I’ve listened to this woman long enough.” Johnny said with anger. “ Lady…..I spent three years of my life in an orphanage after my mother was murdered. I was starved and beaten by the people who ran that orphanage……You want to know why they did that to me…….because I’m a mestizo….a half-breed. I was the devils child that my mother should have drowned at birth. If you think I am going to let that baby… child grow up in an orphanage and be subjected to the same cruelty I was…..You thought wrong.”

“ Mister Lancer……it’s pretty clear your son has no respect for women or you.” Sister Mary said. “ Come Sister Rose, we are done here.”

Scott walked into the house late afternoon to find his father sitting at his desk. “ How did it go?”

Murdoch looked up. “ Not good. Your brother lost his temper with them when they said they couldn’t help Teresa. That she would need to be sent to Agnews Developmental Center in Santa Clara for the help she needs.”

“ Why couldn’t they help her?”

“ Because she may be pregnant and tried to kill me is why brother.” Johnny said. “Look Murdoch, I know you’re angry at me for what I said to them, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let my child grow up in an orphanage.”

“ An orphanage, why?” Scott asked.

“ They won’t let her keep the baby in the hospital. If she goes to a home for unwed mothers, the baby could die or be taken and sold. I won’t let my grandchild be taken away from here to grow up in an orphanage or be sold to live a life of god knows what.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ Where is Teresa?” Scott asked.

“ In her room. She’s been in there since I ordered her to so we could talk to them.” Murdoch said.

“ So what do we do?” Scott asked.

“ How long until we know if she is pregnant?” Johnny asked.

“ Three….four months I believe.” Murdoch said. “ Why? What’s on your mind son?”

“ I have a hundred head of horses I’m leaving within three months.”

Murdoch rode into Green River a month later and stopped in front of Sam’s office.

“Murdoch, what brings you into town?” Sam asked.

“ I need to talk to you.”

“ The look on your face, it must be serious. Is Johnny and Scott alright?”

“ They’re fine.” Murdoch said and then told Sam everything that has happened between Johnny and Teresa.

“ Well if she is pregnant, she will know in three months for her body will change.” Sam said. “ Don’t you remember what it was like for Catherine and Maria early on?”

“ It’s been twenty years so I guess I just forgot Sam.”

“ Murdoch, those kids are young. You brought Teresa up the best way you knew how to do. Johnny had nobody to guide him and teach him proper etiquette.” Sam said. “ Maybe, just maybe Teresa was attracted to that bad side of Johnny. Maybe when he acted proper around her, refusing her advances angered her and that’s why she lashed out. Maybe she couldn’t handle Johnny being respectful to her?”

“ So you’re saying they could still get together?”

“ Have you noticed how Johnny looks at Teresa or talks to her since you caught them together?” Sam asked.

“ He’s tried talking to her but Teresa would either ignore, or be spiteful to him.”

“ Let them work it out between them. There will be times when you can’t be a father. A time when you have to let your children learn from their mistakes and become stronger.”

“ You know, for someone who has never been married or had children, you seem to know a lot about being a parent.” Murdoch said.

“ Comes with being an ole saw tooth country doctor.”

Johnny found Teresa upstairs cleaning a guest bedroom. It had been a month since the two Sister’s had come to the house. Teresa remained quiet for the first week after they left, coming out of her room only to cook  and clean. Gradually she started talking to all three Lancer men, even being social and pleasant with Johnny. Scott was gone to Modesto, and Murdoch went to town to take care of business at the bank.

“ Teresa, can I talk to you?” Johnny asked. “ I don’t want to fight with you……..Teresa, everything that’s happened between us is mostly my fault. I’m the one who dishonored you. Granted the reasons it happened were lies, but that didn’t force me to take you. I could have refused. I care about you, and I’m sorry I hurt you.”

“ If you care about me……then why did you end it between us?” she asked.

“ Why did you get angry and slap me that day when I was trying to respect you?” he asked. “ All you wanted was for me to not respect you……why?”

Teresa sat down on the bed and let her head drop, not wanting to look at Johnny. “ I thought it would make me grown up…..and make you love me more.” she said softly.

Johnny walked over and knelt down in front of her. “ Teresa, that’s why I wanted to build our relationship. Make it stronger each day we were together. Being with you, kissing you, touching your body in intimate ways I was learning what your body liked. How you responded to whatever we did.”

“ That day on the couch when you touched me like you did…….and then when we finally made love and it happened again…..I never dreamed I would feel something as wonderful as I did then.” Teresa said. “ You want to know why I fell for you Johnny?”

“ My smile.” he said.

“ Some, but mainly because you were…….you didn’t have what Murdoch called proper upbringing.” she said. “ You were a free spirit.”

“ I still am a free spirit Teresa and I always will be.” he said. “ It’s just sometimes like a horse, I have to rein that free spirit in.”

“ I wasn’t trying to kill you that night in the barn.” she said softly as the tears began to fall.

Johnny put his right hand under her chin and raised her face up so he could look in her eyes. “ I know you didn’t querida.”

Teresa brought her hands up and placed them on his shoulders. “ I guess it’s like you said that day, I’m not as grown up as I thought I was.”

“ Neither am I.” he said softly. “ Making mistakes is part of growing up. We learn from them mistakes so we don’t do them again.”

“ So what happened between us, was that a mistake ?”

“ No.” Johnny said as he brought his mouth closer to hers. “ I have no regrets……Do you?”

“ No.” Teresa said as she closed her eyes and waited to feel his lips on hers again.

Johnny kissed her lips as he pulled her closer to him. Sliding his tongue in her mouth, tasting her again. Knowing it would be easy to end up in bed with her, he broke off the kiss. Clearing his throat, he looked into her eyes. “ I better go.”

“  Thank you for the cold beer son.” Murdoch said. “ Can I ask what’s on your mind.”

Johnny sat back and sighed. “ You know….I never gave it a thought before. I only cared about……..Makes me wonder how many of the women I took to bed……”

“ Becoming a father is a huge step in life. I never got that chance with Scott, and your mother only gave me a short time with you. What I can tell you is there is  nothing that can compare to hearing your child cry for the first time, holding him in your arms, seeing his perfect little fingers and toes.”

“ Was it easy for her……my mother?”

“ You were active. Countless times before you were born, you would kick. I remember the first time I felt you move, and I’m not to proud to tell you I cried.”

“ Was Scott like me?”

“ No. Your brother was the opposite. He hardly moved around at all.” Murdoch said. “ Can I ask what you plan on doing son?”

“ With Teresa….. Do what’s right and ask her to marry me.” Johnny said. “ We better get back.”

“ Alright son.” Murdoch said as he stood up.

“ Just think, in three months we’ll have twenty thousand dollars more in the bank.” Johnny said as they walked outside.

“ Hey half-breed!” Toby said from across the street when Johnny walked out of the saloon.

Johnny sighed as he patted Barranca’s neck.  “ Murdoch, move away from me.”

“  It’s Toby, the man you got fired son.”

“ You got me fired because of a stupid calf.”

“ Toby……you don’t want to do this……please.” Murdoch pleaded.

“ Shut up Mister Lancer. I’m going to kill this half-breed.”

“ Walk away, you don’t want to do this.” Murdoch pleaded. “ You don’t know who he is.”

“ Face me or I’ll shoot you down where you stand.”

“ I don’t have a beef with you. I don’t want to kill you.”

“  I thought I killed you that day!”

Johnny turned to face the man full on. “ You…’re the one who shot me in the back.” he said.

“ Damn worthless horse spooked, otherwise I would have put a bullet in your head.”

“  You know who I am?” Johnny asked.

“ Yeah….I know who you are. You’re a half-breed asshole who sticks his nose in where it don’t belong.”

“ He’s my son.” Murdoch said.

“ No he’s not. Scott is your son.” Toby spat.

“ You ever hear of a man called Johnny Madrid?” Murdoch asked.

“ Madrid is dead.” Toby responded. “ He was killed in a Mexican prison.”

“ No he wasn’t. I bought his freedom several months ago. My son is Johnny Madrid.” Murdoch said firmly. “ You continue with this Carl, and he will kill you.”

“ Bullshit!…..He’s not Madrid!” Carl spat.

“ Carl!” Sam Jenkins called out. “ I delivered Johnny twenty years ago, and he his Johnny Madrid!”

“ Get away from me Murdoch.” Johnny said.

Murdoch knew there was no convincing Toby, looking at his son, he felt a shiver run down his spine. What he seen in his sons eyes, the coldness sent chills down his spine.

Johnny had Madrid in full play as he watched Carl standing there. “ You wanted to dance…..lets dance.”

“ Toby…..he is Johnny Madrid.” Sam said.

“ Don’t do this Toby…..He is Johnny Madrid, and he will kill you.” Sam said.

Toby’s hand dropped to his gun, as a bullet pierced his heart.

Johnny stood there and watched Toby slowly fall to the ground as a red stain spread across his chest. Holstering his gun, he mounted Barranca and rode out of town.

Murdoch mounted up and went after his son, finding Barranca grazing on grass along a stream a mile out of town. Looking around, he seen his son knelt down next to the stream. “ You alright son?”

Johnny stood up. “ It’s not easy.” he said softly with a shaky voice.

“ I know son. Lets go sit down in the shade.” Murdoch said as he handed him his kerchief.

“ Thanks.” Johnny said as they walked over and sat down on a fallen tree.

“ I know what you’re going thru son. I felt the same way you re right now when I killed my first man when I was a deputy.” Murdoch said. “ The sheriff told me something he said would help. He said to never get to a point where you take killing lightly. It’s not a good thing to kill a man, or cause a man to get killed. Makes you sick inside.”

Johnny stood up and faced his father. “ I hear what you’re saying. It’s……I give them every chance to walk away.”

“ I know you do son. You gave him every chance to walk away.” he said. “ Shutting off your old life isn’t an easy thing to do son. The past has a way of coming up and nudging at you sometimes.”

“ We’re fallen angels, brought down to hell the good book says. Men beyond redemption.” Johnny said softly.

“ I don’t believe that. I wasn’t sure how to feel about you and who you became to survive, but since you came home, you taught me that every man deserves a second chance, that if a man really wants to change, he will.” Murdoch said. “ You have more than proved you don’t want to be Johnny Madrid anymore, but there’s a part of you who will always be him, and for that I’m thankful.”

“ All I ever wanted at one time was to be good at my trade.”

“ Son, it’s because of that trade I’m able to sit here and have this conversation with you.”

“ You got everything you’ll need son?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yeah, got the remounts and four good sound, strong pack-horses.” Johnny responded.

“ How many men you taking?” Scott asked.

“ Walt, Pedro, Billy, Jake, and Zack will each have a string of sixteen horses each with me. Emmett and Allen will handle the pack-horses.” Johnny responded.

“ You sure six men will be enough for a hundred head son?”

“ Yeah.” Johnny said. “ They’ll be in strings. Each of us will have sixteen horses.”

“ I seen you having them tethered together this past week. ” Scott asked.

“ They’ve taken too it just fine. We have them all matched up for each string.” Johnny said.

“ Why don’t you take today off so you’re well rested before you leave.” Murdoch suggested.

“ Why? Tomorrow’s Sunday.”

“ Do I have to make it an order young man?”

“ You better take it brother. You get back, we’ll be rounding up and branding.”

“ No rest for the weary.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ Noblesse oblige little brother.” Scott said.

“ So what are you two doing today?” Johnny asked.

“ I am riding over to visit with Agatha.” Murdoch said. “ Your brother is going to start surveying that far section up north.”

“ I am?” Scott asked.

“ Yes, and I am going to ride over and see my dear friend Agatha.” Murdoch responded

“ Why don’t you marry her?” Scott asked.

Murdoch looked at his oldest. “ Aggie is my dearest, closest friend, and that’s all she will ever be to me.”

“I think he’s scared to ask her to marry him.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ I think you might be right little brother.” Scott responded.

“ That will be enough out of the two of you.” Murdoch ordered as he stood up. “ You, get to work……and you young man go find something to do until supper.”

Johnny sat at his bedroom window thinking about the drive coming up, Teresa, and what to do for the next two days. Standing up, he went downstairs and found Teresa just finishing cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast. “ Hey.”

“  Johnny….you startled me….. I thought you were gone.” she said.

“ Been upstairs thinking.”

“ Thinking about what, the drive?”

“ That… and what to do today.” he said.

“ Me?” she asked.

Johnny stepped over to her. “ About taking you.”

“ Taking me…..Taking me where?”

Johnny sighed as he ran his hands up and down her arms. “ Upstairs to my room and making love to you.”

Teresa’s heart started pounding in her chest as her breathing became deeper and faster. Her body already starting to stir as her mind went back to the last time Johnny touched her intimately that day on the couch. The day she experienced her first pleasure. Remembering that experience, she swore she could feel Johnny on top of her, his hardness moving in and out of her.

“ Take me Johnny…….please.” she begged.

Johnny smiled as he took her hand in his and took her upstairs to his room. Closing the door, he started removing his clothes as fast as he could.

Teresa removed her clothes and watched as Johnny removed his. Her eyes scanned every inch of his body, noting how firm his chest muscles were, and how his stomach muscles looked like a washboard, letting her eyes drop lower, she smiled when she seen his hardness ready. A quiver ran thru her body when she thought of him laying on top of her as his hardness invaded her and made her his finally in the way she craved for so long. Walking over to him, she pressed against him as their mouths came together with hunger. There tongues doing battle with each other as their hands ran over each other’s bodies, touching places they’d never touched before. When Johnny walked her backwards to the bed, she took his hardness in her hand as he guided her down onto his mattress.


Enjoying the feel of her hand on him, he laid down next to her and let his right hand run down and show her how to work him. Once she started doing what he wanted, he ran his hand down and slid three fingers inside her, working her as he devoured her breast. Sucking on first the left one, and then the right one, swirling his tongue around her nipple and gently pulling on it with his teeth. Moving his hips, he knew she was bringing him close to exploding, moving his hand faster until he felt her muscles start to tighten. Rolling her onto her back, he climbed on top of her and guided himself  between her legs and entered her with one swift move. Stopping for a few seconds as he relished the tight feel of her around him.

Teresa arched her hips up into him, matching his thrust.

“ Oh Johnny……I love how you feel inside me. How you fill me.” Teresa said as she clung tightly to him.

Johnny rolled onto his back, taking Teresa with him, never leaving her body. Sitting up he devoured her breast as he held onto her, moaning as he slowly started moving in and out of her in a way he knew would drive her over the edge. “ I’ve wanted this for so long between us. You’re so tight, it’s driving me crazy.’ he said as he rolled her back over onto her back and dipped his hips, rubbing her spot as he slowly moved in and out of her. Knowing she was getting close to exploding twenty minutes later, Johnny thrust faster and harder as he felt his body explode, unable to stop it. Thirty seconds later his climax intensified as Teresa’s body exploded. Johnny thrust so hard his headboard was hitting the wall as his climax started, moving the bed with every hard thrust he did until he knew he was spent and collapsed on top of her, his breathing deep and fast, their bodies glistening in sweat.

Teresa clung to him tightly, her legs wrapped around his waist tightly. “ I’m yours now. I knew we would come together. I knew I would have you.”

Research Notes: Chapter 5


Chapter 6

“ There’s something I want to let you know about son.” Murdoch said. “ California passed a law last year that some are not happy with.  There was a shift in the economic dominance of grain farming over cattle raising that was marked by the passage of the California “No-Fence Law” Murdoch explained. “ This repealed the Trespass Act of 1850, which had required farmers to protect their planted fields from free-ranging cattle. The repeal of the Trespass Act required that ranchers fence stock in, rather than farmers fencing cattle out. The ranchers were faced with either the high expense of fencing large grazing tracts or selling their cattle at ruinous prices.”

“ So you saying because of this new law I could have trouble getting the herd delivered?” Johnny asked.

“ It could son. I just want you to be careful and alert.”

“ You worry too much old man. “ Johnny said as he slid his rifle in the scabbard.

“ Worrying is part of the job of being a parent little brother.” Scott said.

“ Let us know you made it there son.” Murdoch said.

“ Got plenty of time.” Johnny said. “ I figured to rest them mid-day and about halfway there give them a full day of rest at Tulare lake.”

“ Sounds good son.”

“ Be careful.” Scott said.

“ You know me brother…..I’m always careful. I’ll see you in three months.” Johnny said. “ Teresa.”

Scott and Murdoch stood watching Johnny rode toward the arch where the herd was waiting.

“ I will see you tonight sir.” Scott said as he mounted up.

“ Alright son.” Murdoch said.

Teresa stood behind them watching Johnny leave. Her mind going back to making love with Johnny, she knew she was pregnant with his child, and knew what she had to do, and in one week she would. Going back inside she set to cleaning up the breakfast dishes.

“ Is she there?” Scott asked.

“ She’s gone.” Murdoch said as he walked back out to the grand room.

“ Gone……Gone where?”

“ She left Lancer sometime last night apparently. I found this on her bed.”

I got tired of you treating me like a little girl, especially when I’m not. I guess you just couldn’t accept that. At least Johnny seen I was a woman that day he made love to me before he left.


“ Oh my god.” Murdoch said.

“ I’m going to town. She had to have got on the stage.” Scott said.

“ Don’t waste your time son, she’s gone.”

“ So that’s it, you are just going to let her go?”

“  We don’t know where to look son.”

“ If she’s pregnant…..that’s all the more reason we need to try and find her.” Scott said.

“ We need to figure out how we are going to tell your brother when he gets back.”

“ That she’s gone….or that’s she’s pregnant with his child?” Scott asked.

Johnny walked over and poured a cup of coffee.

“ Johnny, we were wondering about something.” Walt said.

“ What’s that?”” Johnny said as he poured a cup of coffee.

“ What do we do if we come across ranchers who don’t want us resting these horses on their land, eating and drinking their grass?” Billy asked.

“ I’ll remind them of the law that was passed last year.”

“ Law, what law?” Emmett asked.

“ The Disintegration law or No Fence Law.” Walt said.

“ Johnny, there’s three riders coming.” Zack said.

“ I see ’em.” Johnny said as they watched the men ride into their camp. “ What can I do for you sheriff?”

“ Where did you get all them horses?” the sheriff asked.

“ We didn’t steal them if that’s what you’re thinking tin star!” Jake said snidely.

“ Jake, I’ll handle this.” Johnny said.

“ What, these guys ride into our camp and accuse us of stealing horses.” Jake snapped back.

“ Nobody’s accused you of stealing boy.” the sheriff said.

Johnny walked over to Jake. “ I said I’ll handle it so keep your mouth shut.” he ordered.

“ I’m Martin Murphy. These are my boys, Stephen and Patrick.”

“ These are Lancer horses me and my men spent ten months rounding up and breaking.” Johnny said. “ They’re headed to the army at Fort Tejon.”

“ The army….I heard they found someone who could supply them horses.” Martin said. “ They asked me and some other ranchers around the area. You said Lancer. You work for him?”

“ I’m Johnny Lancer, Murdoch is my old man.”

“ Don’t you mean Johnny Madrid?” the sheriff asked. “ I seen you called out and gun a man down in Yuma.”

Johnny sighed. “ I used to be. I go by Lancer now.”

“ I heard of you. They say you’re the fastest.” Stephen said.

“ Don’t look so bad to me.” Patrick said.

“ Just goes to show what you know boy.” Martin Murphy said. “ I’m sorry to have bothered you.”

“ Our horses needed rest and water. We’ll be gone in the morning Mister Murphy.” Johnny said.

“ Let’s go boys.” Martin said.

“ You know… just proved what I heard about you is true Madrid.” the sheriff said before riding away.

Johnny stood there a few minutes watching them ride away before turning to face Jake. “You have a problem doing what you’re told?”

“ They were…”

“ What……You ever do that again and you’re done.” Johnny cut in and said. “ I won’t have a man working for me who can’t do what he’s told…..especially when he’s told to keep his mouth shut. You disobey me again and you’re done.”

Teresa boarded the train in Sacramento and took a window seat so she could enjoy the scenery as she headed east.

“ Hello.” a man said. “ Is this seat taken?”

“ Hello. No.” she said as she gave the man a smile.

“ Thank you. Names Brock.”

“ Teresa.”

“ How far you going?” he asked.

“ Cheyenne.”

“ Well it’s my lucky day Miss Teresa, I’m going to Cheyenne also and glad to have such a beautiful young lady to ride with.”

“ Are you going on business?” she asked.

“ I am.”  he said. “ My older brother Doug has a hotel there called the Cheyenne Cattleman’s Club. He asked me to come and help him run it. What about you?”

“ I guess you could say I’m starting my life over in a different place.” she said softly as the train started leaving the station.

“ You can tell me it’s none of my business, but are you running away from someone? ” Brock asked.

“ I am, but it’s been a long stage ride to here and I don’t want to talk about it.” Teresa said before going back to looking out the window.

“ What can I do for you young man?” the store clerk asked.

“ I need ten pounds each of beans, coffee, flour, potatoes, bacon, and five pounds of lard, pork, sugar and jerky.” Johnny said.

“ Hey Johnny, how about some green apples? I could make stewed apples and biscuits for breakfast.” Pedro asked.

“ Sounds good.” Johnny said.

“ You’ll need cinnamon if you’re going to make stewed apples.” the store owner said.

“ I’ll pick that up in the morning?” Johnny said.

“  We staying in town tonight Johnny?” Pedro asked.

“ I will. You ride on back to camp and let Walt know.”  Johnny said. “ I’ll be back in the morning after I get the supplies.”

“ Okay Johnny.” Pedro said before leaving.

“ Hotel across from the livery should be able to accommodate all your needs. There’s a diner next door that serves good food.” the store owner suggested.

“ Thanks. There a telegraph in town?”

“ Sure is, down next to the sheriff’s office.”

“Much obliged.” Johnny said before turning to leave.

“ You two interested in making some easy money? ” Virgil asked as he sat down at the table in the saloon in Visalia.

“ That depends. How easy we talking? ” Nick Watson asked.

“ And how much? ” Virgil Brooks added.

“ It seems the army at Fort Tejon is buying a hundred head of mustangs from a rancher up north.” Nick explained. “ The government is paying two hundred dollars a head.”

“ That’s twenty thousand dollars.” Jasper said. “  How’d you find out about this? ”

“  Two men just came in just came in to get supplies.” Virgil said.

“ Two men? ” Jasper asked.

“ Yeah, and one of them you will be real interested in Jasper.”

“ Yeah…..why?” Jasper asked.

“ He’s an old nemesis of yours. Johnny Madrid.” Virgil responded.

Jasper sat up straight in the chair. “ Where is he?”

“ He was placing an order at the mercantile. He’s staying the night.” Virgil responded.

“ Why is Madrid an old nemesis?” Nick asked.

“ Madrid killed my father.” Virgil said. “I  was nineteen when it happened. I was in Laredo with my old man when Madrid gunned him down in the street. Gunned him down and rode out of town.”

“ Madrid’s never called another man out, so why’d he kill your old man?” Nick asked.

“ He killed him and that’s all that matters to me.” Virgil said firmly.

“ So that’s why you’re always practicing!” Nick said.

“ You gonna call him out?” Jasper asked.

“ I’m going to let him know who I am and then make him wonder.” Virgil responded.

“ So he keeps looking over his shoulder for you?” Nick asked.

“ Exactly. Make him nervous.” he said. “ I kill him, that money will be easy pickings.”

“ So we’re going to trail them all the way there?” Nick asked.

“ Madrid won’t think we’re after the money, he’ll think we’re trailing to kill him!” Jasper suggested.

“ We’ll let him know tonight when they come in here tonight for a drink.” Virgil said.

Johnny walked out of the telegraph office and stopped.

“ Well as I live and breathe.”

“ What the hell you doing here, and what’s that on your chest?” Johnny asked

“What the hell’s it look like kid. What are you doing in Visalia?” Val Crawford asked as they shook hands. “ I’ve been the law here for a year now. Last I heard you were in Puerta Peñasca prison. How’d ya get out?”

“ Long story. Join me for supper tonight and I’ll tell ya.” Johnny said.

“ I can do that. Say six.” Val said.

“ That’ll give me plenty of time to clean up.”

“ Got a wire from Johnny. He’s in Visalia for supplies.” Scott said as he walked into the house.

“ That’s good son.” Murdoch said as he stood up. “ I’m going to hire a Pinkerton to locate Teresa.”

“ But we don’t know where she went.” Scott said.

“ She didn’t have much money. If she took the stage, I feel she went to Sacramento and got on the train east.” Murdoch said. “ I don’t want her to run again, so  I’ll have him locate her only.”

“ She could be in any town along the route.”

“ I’ve been thinking on that and I think she went to Cheyenne.” Murdoch said. “ When we went to visit Agatha, she talked to her about Cheyenne. What it was like when Aggie visited there.”

“ If she’s there, are you going to tell Johnny when he gets back?”

“ I’ll tell him and let him decide what he wants to do. It’s his child she’s pregnant with.”

Brock liked Teresa, but a part of him felt like she was holding something back. Something that happened between her and whoever hurt her. They talked more and more as the train went east, but her past he felt she wasn’t being truthful about.

“Can I ask what your plans are when you get to Cheyenne?” he asked.

“ Find a job and a boarding house I can stay at.” she said.

“ What if I could fulfill both those needs?” Brock asked. “ I want nothing in return, so don’t think that. I just want to help a pretty lady out.”

“ Why would you do that? You hardly know me.”

“ Let’s just say I have a soft spot for a pretty lady. My brother was always writing telling me he can never find good help. We’ll be in Cheyenne tomorrow. Give it some thought.”

“ Thank you.” Teresa said.

“ Damn kid. So she lied to you about yur old man throwing you out and now yur a third owner of the biggest spread in the San Joaquin.” Val said. “ So what’s up with the horses?”

“ Hundred head of mustangs going to Fort Tejon for the army.” Johnny said as he sat back. “ Took a year to round them up, select the right ones and break them to bridle and saddle.”

“ That’s damn hard work kid…..You always did have a way with horses though.” Val said as the waitress took their dishes.

“ Can I get you or your handsome friend anything else sheriff?” the waitress asked.

“ No, I’m good. You want anything else kid?” Val asked.

Johnny shook his head as he looked at the woman and smiled.

“ Damn, getting so a man can’t eat supper without being bothered by vermin.”

“ Who?” Johnny asked.

“ The damn mayor of this town. My job is on the line. Seems they feel two years is long enough.”

“ Excuse me, Sheriff Crawford, I need a word with you.”

“ Excuse me Johnny.” Val said as he stood up and tossed his napkin on the table.

“ You a friend of Sheriff Crawford’s?” the waitress asked.

“ I’ve known Val a few years.” Johnny responded.

“  You staying in town long?” she asked.

“ Just the night.” he said.

“ Names Martha, Val is a really nice man. A little crotchety sometimes, but most of the people in town like him.” Martha said before walking away.

“Buy you a cold beer?” Johnny asked as Val walked back over.

“ I’d like to but I need to get back to work. See you for breakfast?” Val said and asked as they walked out.

“ Yeah.” Johnny said as they shook hands and went their separate ways for the night.

Teresa stepped off the train with Brock and walked to the Cheyenne Cattleman’s Club. Feeling a little uncomfortable as she stood and watched Brook greet his brother Doug.

“ It’s good to see you brother.” Brock said.

“ Who’s this?” Doug asked as he looked at the beautiful young lady who had walked in with his brother.

“ This is Teresa O’Brian. She knows how to cook, and I told her she could find a job here.”

“ I have a really good cook, but I could use a pretty server.” Doug said. “ She can stay here. I have rooms for the women to stay in because the boarding house is at the other end of town. Susan, take Teresa upstairs and show her around. She’s going to start working for me.”

“ Thank you Brock.” Teresa said.

“ Join me for supper later?” Brock asked.

“ I’d like that.” she said before following Susan upstairs.

“ A might young for you brother.” Doug said.

“ She’s running away from someone who hurt her back in California.” Brock said. “ I told her I would get her a job.”

“ Look, is this girl going to bring us trouble?” Doug asked.

“ No.”

“ I’ve worked hard to clean this place up and in case you haven’t noticed…..that girl is pregnant with someone else’s child. I don’t want any trouble coming here looking for her.” Doug said.

Johnny watched five men enter the saloon and walk over to a table.

“ You okay Johnny?” Walt asked.

“ Yeah.” Johnny said as he watched one of the men stand up and walked over to his table.

“ Remember me?”  Virgil asked.

“ Should I?” Johnny asked.

“  Four years ago you killed my old man. Gunned him down and then rode out of town like nothing happened.”

“ Four years ago in Laredo, what’s your name?” Johnny asked.

“ Virgil Brooks.” he said. “ I’m not going to kill you now, but I will kill you.”

“ Look mister, I don’t want any trouble.” Johnny said.

“ I’m going to kill you, but it won’t happen today Madrid.” Virgil spat.

“ What’s the problem here?” Val asked as he walked in with a scatter gun cradled in his arm.

“ No problem. Just telling this murderer I’m going to kill him for murdering my old man.” Virgil said with coldness.

“ Nobody is killing anyone in my town.” Val said firmly.

“ I ain’t killing him in your town sheriff, but I will kill you Madrid.” Virgil said before turning and walking out.

“ Spill it kid.” Val ordered.

“ Said I killed his father four years ago in Laredo.”

“ I was called out by another man. It was his bullet that killed Lester Brooks. I shot him as he drew causing his shot to go wild.” Johnny explained.

“ That’s the kid?” Val asked.

“ Apparently.”

“ You didn’t kill his father kid. I was there and seen the whole thing.” Val said. “ He’s been in town a couple days with four other men.”

“ How much money we talkin’ for them horses?”

“ Twenty thousand upon delivery.”

“ If that’s the case, he won’t do anything until you have that money in hand.” Val suggested.

“ Yeah, kill me and steal the money.”

“ He’ll dog you all the way kid.”

“ Maybe try and make me on edge wondering when he’ll try.”

“ Others have tried that with us and failed. What time you leaving in the morning?” Val asked.

“ After I pick up our supplies.”

“ I’ll be leaving with you.” Val said.

“ What about your job here?” Johnny asked.

“ That was the town mayor came to see me earlier. I’m out of a job.” Val said. “ Been here to damn long anyways. Besides, someone has to keep your sorry ass out of trouble.”

“ Your brother’s place is stunning.” Teresa said.

“ Yeah. Listen, you’ve been reluctant to talk about what you’re running away from. Doug has worked hard to make this place successful. Is the father of that child you’re carrying going to come looking for you?” Brock asked.

“ I don’t know. If he finds out where I’m at, there’s a strong chance he will come here.” she said.

“ Teresa… to me…..please. I care about you. Tell me what’s going on…..please.” Brock pleaded.

Teresa’s eyes welled up with tears. “ My mother left me when I was a baby. My father as the foreman of this ranch. When I was six he was killed. I became the ranch owners ward. He had two sons, neither of which grew up there. They came home and I fell in love with the youngest son Johnny Madrid.”

Brock stood up and walked around the table to her. Kneeling down, he took out his kerchief and wiped away the tears. “ Have you thought about what you want to do?”

“ I really haven’t thought about it that much since I left.” she said. “ I was a fool to think he could love me. All he wanted to do was have me like he does the whores in the saloons. That’s all I was to him….a whore.”

“ Hey….look at me….You are not a whore.” Brock said. “ This Johnny Madrid used you to get what he wanted. He’s a jerk and blind to not see what I see in you.”

Johnny and Val rode up to camp and dismounted. “ You boys ready to go?”

“  Just about.” Walt said. “ Whose that?”

“ This is a good friend of mine, Val Crawford.” Johnny said. “ He’ll be going with us. Val this is Pedro, Jake, Allen, Emmett, Walt and I believe you know these two.”

“ Billy, Zack, never thought I would see you two away from Texas.” Val said as he shook hands.

“ Good to meet you fellas.” Val said. “ I see you haven’t lost yur gift.” Val said as he looked at the horses.

“ Thanks. Let’s get going.” Johnny said.

“ The big man spoke.” Jake said snidely.

“ You say something?” Johnny asked.

“ Yeah. You go into town and stay the night, sleeping in a bed, eating a hot meal, taking a bath while the rest of us stay here sleeping on the hard ground.” Jake snapped back.

“ You knew what it would be like when you hired on. Ride out now.” Johnny ordered.

“ I have pay coming.”

Johnny walked over to his saddlebags and pulled out the money pouch. Removing thirty dollars as he walked over and paid Jake. “ Been gone thirty days.”

Jake grabbed the money from his hand, turned and grabbed his reins. “ I ever see you again….I’ll kill you!”

“ You’re free to try any time.” Johnny said.

“ Oh you’d like that wouldn’t you half-breed. Put another notch on that gun of yours.” Jake spat as he stepped over to Johnny. “ You ain’t nothing without that gun.”

“ Val.” Johnny said as he removed his gun belt and handed it to him.

“ Kick his ass kid.” Val said as he took the gun belt.

Johnny swung and hit Jake hard, knocking him back into Emmett. “ Let’s see what you got.”

Jake spit blood out and wiped his chin. Glaring at Johnny, he lunged hitting him in the chest with his head as they both went down.

Johnny brought his knees up and flipped Jake over his head before rolling onto his side and getting up.

Jake  grabbed a handful of sand as he pulled a switchblade knife from the inside of his left boot.

“ Johnny…..He’s got a knife!” Pedro yelled.

Johnny seen Jake pick up the sand, so he had his eyes closed when he threw it. Reaching down he pulled his knife from the inside of his left boot and faced Jake. “ You want to dance, let’s dance.”

Jake stood staring at the big knife Johnny pulled from his boot. Holding his knife out in front of him, he could tell Johnny’s knife was well cared for…..and sharp.

“ You gonna play or not?” Johnny asked.

Jake slowly put his knife away, turned, mounted up and rode away.

“ You learn anymore about her past?” Doug asked.

“ It seems the ranchers youngest son…..a Johnny Madrid used her to sleep with her.” Brock replied.

“ What name did you say?”

“ Johnny Madrid.”

“ Jesus, Brock….Do you know who Johnny Madrid even is?” Doug asked as he ran a hand thru his hair.

“ Yeah, she said he’s the youngest son of the rancher. Why?”

“ Because she lied to you. Johnny Madrid is a gunfighter, and not just any gunfighter…..He’s the fastest, and deadliest gunfighter west of the Mississippi river and south of the border.” Doug said. “ He killed his first man when he was thirteen, a man who murdered his mother when he was ten.”

“ Are you sure?” Brock asked.

“ Yes I’m sure. I seen him kill a man in New Mexico once when I was coming here.” Doug explained. “ I want her gone from my hotel.”

“ No……Look I care about this girl. I don’t care who he is, he used her and I’m going to take care of her. Protect her from him if I have too.” Brock said firmly.

“ Take care of her……Jesus little brother, are you serious?”

“ Yes.” Brock said.

“ She’s pregnant with his child.” Doug said.

Research Notes: Chapter 6


Chapter 7

“ Brock, what are you doing here?” Teresa asked.

“ I realize it’s late, but we need to talk.” Brock said as he entered the room.

Teresa closed the door and walked over closer to him. “ It’s late and I’m tired. Couldn’t it have waited until morning?”

“ The son who used you. Did you say his name was Johnny Madrid?” Brock asked.

“ Why?”

“ Teresa, my brother knows the name. He said Johnny Madrid is a gunfighter. Is that true?” he demanded.

“ Yes. I told you he didn’t grow up at the ranch. He grew up in Mexico. His mother was murdered when he was ten. Johnny had a rough life being a half-breed. He’s been abused horribly…….his father paid five thousand dollars to get him out of a Mexican prison so he could come home.” she explained.

“ What’s the name of the ranch, and his fathers name?” Brock asked.

“ Lancer………Murdoch Lancer. The ranch is the biggest in the San Joaquin valley. One hundred thousand acres. Johnny is a third owner of it with his brother Scott.” she burst out saying.

“ If you knew he was a gunfighter…..why did you?”

“ Because he came home to change. He didn’t want to live that life any longer. He wanted to live a life as Johnny Lancer, the youngest son of Murdoch Lancer, and I believed him. Murdoch allowed him to court me.” she said. “ One day Murdoch and Scott were gone. I was upstairs changing the sheets on a bed. I didn’t know he was there until he grabbed me, forced me down on the bed and raped me.”

“ Come here.” Brock said as he pulled her into his arms to hold her as she cried. “ I’m sorry, no man has a right to force himself on a woman….any woman.”

“ He raped me several times before Murdoch got home. Every time it hurt so much, he was so rough, biting my breast as he……..”

“ Teresa, look at me. That’s not how it should be between a man and woman.” Brock said as he wiped away a tear with his thumb. “ It should be slow and wanting between both…..Like this.” he said before he kissed her gently on the lips.

Teresa welcomed the gentle touch of Brock’s lips on hers. Bringing her arms up onto his shoulders she ran her tongue over his lips, telling him she wanted more.

Brock stepped back and looked at Teresa. “ Making love to you is not why I came here tonight Teresa.”

“ I know.” she said as she ran her fingers thru his hair. “ Did you have someplace else to be tonight?”

Brock put his hands on her shoulders and removed her robe. “ No.” he said as he touched her breast.

Teresa reached down and pulled her nightgown up over her head. Standing in front of him totally naked.

Brock couldn’t believe the beautiful woman standing in front of him totally naked, wanting him to make love to her. Taking her hand, he led her into the bedroom and closed the door.

“ Private, you have a Captain Fowler here?” Johnny asked.

“ Who’s asking?” the private asked.

“ Tell him Johnny Lancer is here.”

“ It’s alright private.” Captain Fowler said as he walked up to them. “ I wasn’t expecting you until next week. You made good time. Sergeant show these men where they can put these horses and then show these men where they can freshen up and get them something to eat.”

“ Thank you captain.” Johnny said.

“ Join me for supper at six?”

“  Alright.” Johnny responded before following the sergeant.

“ My hunch was right.” Murdoch said.

“ Your hunch sir?”

“ About Teresa. She’s in Cheyenne, working at the Cheyenne Cattleman’s Club.” he said. “ She’s been seen in the company of one of the owners, a Brock Peters.”

“Brock Peters……I knew a Doug Peters at Harvard. He disappeared when the war started.”

“ The hotel is relatively new in Cheyenne. I believe it’s been open two years.”

“ What are you going to do?”

“ Let your brother know when he gets back.” Murdoch said. “ And support whatever decision he makes.”

“He should be delivering the horses next week.” Scott said. “ I’m going to go get cleaned up.”

“ A letter came for you today.”

“ A letter….from who?” Scott asked.

“ No return address.”

Scott took the letter and looked at the handwriting. “ Grandfather. It’s his handwriting.” he said as he opened the letter and read it.

Murdoch could tell whatever Harlan wrote, it upset Scott by the way his facial expression changed and he got angry. “ What’s wrong son?”

“ He’s coming back here and wants a meeting with me. Scott said.

“ I know it’s your decision son, but I don’t trust that man.”

“ You still think he was the one Johnny’s friends Zack and Billy described ?”

“ Yes I do. We both know what that man is capable of.” Murdoch said. “ When?”

“ He says he’s attending to some business in San Francisco and will be here end on next month.”

“ My vet says all the horses are in top condition.” Captain Fowler said.

“ We handled them all real good and they were broke with kindness.” Johnny said.

“ We’ll ride in to the bank in the morning and I’ll have a bank draft for twenty thousand dollars drawn up for you at the bank.”  the captain said.

“ If you don’t mind my asking, why do you needed so many horses captain?” Johnny asked.

“ We’re protecting the settlers and stage passengers from rustlers and robbers.” the captain explained.

“ I heard about those robberies. Every one done by three men.” Val said. “ The passengers all described the same men.”

“ Can I ask how you know this?” Captain Fowler asked.

“ I was a lawman in Visalia until last month when they forgot to renew my contract.” Val said.

“ Can you describe them?” Johnny asked.

Captain Fowler stood up and walked over to his desk. “ This is a sketch we got of one of the robbers.” he said as he walked back over and handed it to Val.

Val looked at the picture then handed it to Johnny. “ Look familiar?”

“ Virgil Brooks.” Johnny said.

“ Who?” the captain asked.

“ Virgil Brooks, he rides with two other men. A Nick Watson and another man known only as Jasper.” Val responded.

“ Can I ask how it is you know this one?”

“ He was in Visalia when I was there to get supplies.” Johnny said.

“ Tell him kid.” Val said.

“ I know him from my past captain.” Johnny said.

“ Your past…..So the sergeant was right. You are Johnny Madrid?” Captain Fowler asked.

“ I used to be. Look….it’s a long story.”

“ Johnny was called out four years ago by a man in Laredo, he killed the man, but that man’s shot went wild and killed Virgil’s father.” Val said.

 “ He blames me for his death.”

“ He confronted Johnny in the saloon in Visalia.” Val said.

“ I think he followed me here.” Johnny said.

“ Followed you.” the captain suggested.

“ To call me out.” Johnny said.

Lying in bed, Brock watched Teresa sleeping. Last night he couldn’t believe how alive, how different she became when he made love to her. He couldn’t help but have doubts about what she told him about the gunfighter raping her. If that was the case, then how did she know to do what she did to him  last night? If he raped her like she said, there’s no way she would have known.

“ Good morning beautiful.” Brock said.

“ I thought I was dreaming last night.” Teresa said as she snuggled closer to him.

“ I assure you.” Brock said before kissing her forehead. “ Last night was not a dream. You made me feel so good.”

“ What are your plans today?”

“ Nothing until ten tonight when I have to work the front desk until six tomorrow morning. Did you have something in mind?”

Teresa climbed on top of him. “ Staying right here all day making love with you.”

Brock smiled. “ I do love your boldness.” he said.

“ Boldness…..I’ll show you boldness.” Teresa said. “ When I want something…..I go for it.” she said before lowering her mouth to his and claiming it with hunger.

“ Okay, that’s twenty thousand dollars.” the bank manager said. “ I’ll need a signature from the two of you. If you would sign on the top line as the payer and you young man as the payee.”

Johnny signed the receipt after Captain Fowler. “ It’s been a pleasure doing business with you Captain Fowler.” he said as he shook the mans hand.

“ That’s a lot of money to have in your saddlebags.” the captain said.

“ I’ll be alright. I have plenty of help to get the money back to Lancer.” Johnny said.

“ Johnny Madrid……..come on out here and face me you murdering bastard!” Virgil Brooks yelled.

Johnny sighed. “ Thanks again Captain Fowler.”

“ Is that him?” the captain asked.

“ Yeah.” he said as he handed the saddlebags to Walt. “ Stay inside the bank……Val.”

“ You need someone to watch your back?” the captain asked.

“ Only one person I trust to watch my back.” Johnny said before walking out of the bank.

“ I decided on killing you this  morning.” Virgil said. “ Come on out and face me.”

Johnny stopped on the boardwalk and scanned the rooftops for the other two men who rode with Virgil. Spotting a rifle barrel the roof of the hotel across the street. “ Rooftop across the street.” he said to Val before stepping down into the street.

Val positioned himself so he had a clear view of the roof of the hotel. “ Where’s the other one kid.” he said softly.

“ I’m not the one who shot and killed your father that day.” Johnny said.

“ You may not have put the bullet in him, but it’s still because of you I watched my old man die that day.” Virgil said with anger. ‘ The man who shot my old man is dead, and now I’m going to kill the man responsible for him being shot.

Johnny watched and waited for the sign that always told him his opponent was about to draw. Catching movement from the rooftop to his right, he knew where the third man was now. He knew Val had the one to his left, seeing the one on his right raise up and take aim, he turned, drew and fired a split second before he heard a gun go off behind him, knowing it was Val’s. Spinning back toward Virgil, both guns going off as one.

Virgil looked down at a red stain spreading across his chest as his legs became weak and he dropped to his knees. Looking at Johnny, he tried to bring his gun up again, but fell forward dead.

Johnny dropped his shoulders as he holstered his colt and stared at the still form of Virgil laying in the dirt mere feet away.

“ It never gets any easier kid.” Val said softly.

“ Johnny, let’s go home.” Walt said.

“ I need to pay you men.” Johnny said. “ I owe each of you a hundred dollars. If you want to go back to Lancer with me, you’ll have a job, if not, I’ll understand.”

“ I think I’m going to go on down to Yuma.” Allen said.

“ I think I will too.” Emmett added.

Johnny paid the two men and bid them farewell. “ What about you Pedro?”

“ I like working at Lancer. I’ll go back with you Johnny.” Pedro said.

“ I think we’ll go back with you Johnny.” Zack said.

“ Yeah, California don’t get as hot as Texas.” Billy added.

Brock came downstairs just before eight to find his brother checking in a couple.

“ Okay, top of stairs and take the third hall on the right. Your room is about halfway down on the left.” Doug said.

“ Enjoy your stay.” Brock added.

“ Dining room is open until ten.” Doug said as he handed them the key.

“ Thank you.” the man said before they headed upstairs.

“ Where you been all day?” Doug asked.

“ Upstairs with Teresa.” Brock responded. “ I learned a lot more about her past. You ever hear of a rancher in California named Murdoch Lancer?”

“ Lancer…..yeah it’s the biggest spread in the San Joaquin valley. Why?”

“ Johnny Madrid is his youngest son. She says she was upstairs changing bedding in a room when Madrid came in and raped her.” Brock explained.

“ The look on your face is telling me you have doubts about what she says.”

“  She said he used her to get her in bed, and then she tells me he raped her.”

“  What is your reason for being involved with this girl Brock. I mean you’ve been in bed with her all last night and today. What the hell are you thinking?”

“ Look, you may be my older brother and all, but I don’t have to explain my personal life to you. What happens between me and Teresa is my business…..not yours.” Brock said firmly. “ My reasons for being with you are mine.”

“ I want her gone from my hotel. I don’t want her working here any longer. I will give her until the weeks end to find a place to stay and find another job.” Doug said before walking away.

“ You’re firing her over this?” Brock asked. “ She’s pregnant. You can’t throw her out!”

“ She’s pregnant with another man’s child.. She’s lied to you, and I don’t need Johnny Madrid coming into my hotel causing problems.” Doug said before walking away.

“ You want me to ride into town with you in the morning son?”

“ You don’t have to.” Scott said.

“ I know I don’t have to. I will if you want me too.”

“  Do what?” Johnny asked from the foyer.

“ Hey brother, welcome home.” Scott said as he walked over and hugged his brother.

“ Welcome home son.” Murdoch said.

“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he hugged his brother. “ Did I interrupt something?”

“ No…… son you didn’t. I just asked your brother if he would like me to go with him to town in the morning.”

“ I stopped in town and put the money in the bank. Nineteen thousand, four hundred dollars.” Johnny said as he handed his father the receipt. “ Murdoch…..Scott, his is a very good friend of mine, Val Crawford…..Val this is my father Murdoch Lancer…..and my brother Scott.”

“  Well I will be damned.” Val said. “ When the kid told me he came home, I had a hard time believing it. Especially about having a brother.”

“ I think we were both surprised about each other.” Scott said as he shook his hand.

“ Come sit down. Would you care for a drink?” Murdoch asked.

“ Whiskey is fine. I’m not one for that stuff the kid likes.” Val said.

“ Hey, you never complained about drinking tequila when we rode together in Mexico.” Johnny said.

“ That’s because it was all we had at the dang time.”

“ You’ll have to excuse Val.” Johnny said. “ It seems the older he gets, the grouchier he becomes.”

“ How did you and my brother meet?” Scott cut in and asked.

Val looked at Johnny, knowing how he felt about talking about his past. Having just met his family, he didn’t know if Johnny had shared any of his past with them.

“ Val found me down in Sonora. I……I was barely alive.”

“ He had a bullet in his back.” Val said. “ I dug it out and nursed him back. He was one sick pup for over a month. He kept drifting in and out from a bad fever and infection.”

“ How old were you son?”

“ Fourteen. A man called me out and taught me a valuable lesson to never assume the person I’m facing is alone. He had a friend on a rooftop who put a bullet in my back right when we drew.” Johnny explained. “ He saved my life and taught me a lot about how to stay alive.”

“ And we been getting on each other’s nerves ever since.” Val added.

“ That  may be, but there’s no one I trust more to watch my back.”

Scott was a little hurt with hearing his brother say he trusted no one more than Val to watch his back, but could also understand since they  didn’t know each other that well yet.

“ Where’s Teresa?” Johnny asked.

“ Uh……Scott, why don’t you show Val where he can clean up and will be sleeping while I have a talk with your brother?”

“ Alright. If you will follow me Mister Crawford.” Scott said as he headed to the stairs.

Teresa came downstairs around midnight and found Brock in the office. “ Hey.”

Brock turned in his chair to look at her. “ Hi. What are you doing up at midnight?”

“ I was lonely and couldn’t sleep.” she said as she stepped into the office.

Brock stood up and walked over to her. “Couldn’t sleep huh….I’d think after the time we spent together making love you would be tired.”

“ I slept, but woke up wanting you again.” she said. “ I can’t get enough of you Brock.”

“ I need to talk to you Teresa.” he said as he pushed her away from him. “ My brother is going to fire you in the morning, and he wants you to leave here  by the end of the week.”

“ He’s going to fire me, why?” she asked with irritation.

“ He doesn’t like me seeing you and feels the father of that baby you’re carrying will come here.” Brock said. “ I’m sorry Teresa. I’ll help you find another job and a place to stay.” Brock said.

“ You’re just like him……..You used me just like Johnny did.” Teresa spat.

Brock grabbed Teresa by the arm. “ You told me he raped you.” he spat. “ He didn’t did he……..Did he?”

“ No!”  she yelled.

“Doug was right about you….You’re nothing but a liar.”

Teresa lashed out and slapped Brock hard across the face. “ You bastard!” Shocked when Brock hit her back, knocking her back against the wall.

 “ You claim he raped you……I’ll show you what it’s like to be raped!” Brock said with anger as he started beating her and tearing her gown off.

“ Teresa left about a week after you did son. She said she wasn’t feeling good, so she stayed in her room, or we thought. I was in town and your brother was out working. When we came home, she was gone.” Murdoch explained. “ We don’t know if she left in the middle of the night the night before and just lied to us about not feeling good, or left that day.”

“ Is she pregnant?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes. I hired a Pinkerton to locate her, and he did. She’s in Cheyenne working at the Cheyenne Cattleman’s Club and been seen with the one brother Brock Peters around town.” Murdoch responded.

“ How did you know she would be in Cheyenne?” he asked.

“ A conversation she had with Aggie about her time there. It was a hunch that paid off.” he said. “ I know this isn’t easy to hear son. I want you to think about what you’re going to do, and whatever decision you make, I will support you on.”

“ She’s pregnant with my child Murdoch.” Johnny said firmly.

“ Like I said, I will support your decision son, whatever it is.” Murdoch responded. “ How did the trip go?”

“ Went good. I fired Jake about halfway there. The man refused to take orders and almost started a confrontation with a rancher named Martin Murphy and his two sons. The man has the wrong attitude for dealing with people.”

“ Can I ask where you ran into your friend Val at?”

“ Visalia. I came out from sending you that wire and he walked up to me wearing a badge. Seems he was the sheriff there for a couple years. They didn’t renew his contract so he left with me.” Johnny explained. “ Listen Murdoch……four years ago I was called out in Laredo. I killed the man, but he was fast and he cleared leather. My shot caused his to go wild and hit a man standing in front of the store.  The man’s name was Lester Brooks, his son, Virgil was with him when it happened. He was nineteen at the time his father was killed.” he explained.

Murdoch could tell his son was struggling to tell him what happened. Walking over to the sideboard he poured a stiff shot of tequila, walked over to his son and handed it to him. “ You don’t have to tell me what happened if you don’t want to son.”

“ Thanks. No…..I want you to know.” Johnny said before drinking some of the tequila. “ When I was in Visalia, so was Virgil Brooks. I didn’t know who he was until he confronted me in the saloon. He said he was going to kill me but not then. When I was at the bank getting the money, he called me out. Two other men Nick Watson, and a man called Jasper who rode with him where on rooftops to ambush me. Val killed Nick while I killed Jasper and Virgil. I didn’t kill his father, but he blamed me for it and wanted to kill me. Val even tried to talk him out of it.”

“ You were forced into a situation both times out of your control son. He couldn’t see and accept the truth, so he did what he thought was right.” Murdoch said. “ How many hands came back with you?”

“  Allen and Emmett went on to Yuma. The rest came back with me.” Johnny responded before finishing the tequila.

“ So Val was a lawman?”

“ Yeah, he’s been one a lot of times in different places.”

“ Do you think he would be interested in being the sheriff of Spanish Wells?” Murdoch asked. “ I’m asking because the bank there is going to start getting gold shipments three maybe four times a year on it’s way to San Francisco.”

“ You’ll have to ask him that Murdoch. I’m going to go take a hot bath and go to bed.”

“ Alright son. Sleep in in the morning. You earned a day off.”

“ Thanks.” Johnny said as he headed to the stairs. “ Don’t the cattlemen have to be the ones to approve a sheriff?”

“ Yes. They will be here this weekend for our monthly meeting.” Murdoch said.

Teresa opened her eyes and found herself laying in the dirt. Sitting up she felt something wet and sticky on her face. Touching it her fingers came back covered in blood from a cut on her left cheek, a split, swollen bottom lip and a cut to her forehead.  Sitting up, she found her whole body ached in pain. Her upper leg muscles screamed when she moved them. Looking around she found herself in an alley in the back of the hotel. Standing up she remembered what happened to her, how Brock had slapped and hit her several times before he raped her.

Standing up tears started rolling down her cheeks as her legs shook. Looking at her nightgown torn, showing her breast, she covered up the best she could and walked down the street. People stopped and looked at her when she walked out of the alley.

“ You alright young lady?” a woman asked.

Teresa looked at the woman standing there as the tears ran down her face.

“ Let me help you to the doctor.” the woman said as she wrapped her shawl around her.

“ Morning Mister Crawford.” Murdoch said.

“ Val….calling me mister makes me feel old, and I get enough of that feelin from Johnny.”

“ My son does seem to like riling you.” Murdoch said. “ Coffee?”

“ Thank you. We bicker at each other at times.” Val said.

“ Johnny said you’ve been a lawman before?” Murdoch asked.

“ I’ve worn a badge a few times. What’s on yur mind?” Val asked.

“  Spanish Wells, the bank there is going to start receiving gold three times a month on it’s way to San Francisco. The cattleman’s association and citizens of Spanish Wells feel the need for a sheriff. The job is yours if you want it.” Murdoch explained.

“ Ain’t nobody else interested in the job?” Val asked.

“ No. They wanted to ask Johnny to do the job.” Murdoch responded.

“ But you don’t want him wearing a badge?”  Val asked.

“ I want nothing more than my son to live a life as my son…..and not by his gun.”

“ Wearing a badge is different than being a gunfighter Mister Lancer.” Val said. “ If Johnny can get out of the game……it’ll be for the better. I care for that kid and don’t want him to end up dead in some street or on some trail somewhere from some young whippersnapper who thinks taking his reputation is worth his life.”

“ Job will pay forty a month.”

“ There a cot in the jail?”

“ I believe there is a room in the back for the sheriff to sleep. There are two cells., each with a cot as well.”

“ I guess I could stay around for a spell. Help keep the kid out of trouble.” Val said.

“ I’ll let the members know at the next meeting this weekend that you will take the job.”

“ Where is he?”

“ Still asleep. I told him to sleep in and take today off. He can take you into Spanish Wells later and show you around.”

Johnny came downstairs early afternoon to find his father sitting at his desk. “ Morning. You going to go in and pay the bills off?”

Murdoch looked at the grandfather clock. “ Good afternoon son. I will next week. Sleep well?”

“ I always sleep well.” Johnny said. “ Where’s Val and Scott?”

“ Val is outside and your brother went to town to get his grandfather.” Murdoch said as he stood up. “ There’s some lunch for you in the oven.”

“ Grandfather……You mean that………”

“ Yes, and it couldn’t be at a worse time.” Murdoch cut in and said.

“ Why is he coming back here. I thought Scott threw him off Lancer and never wanted to see him again?”

“ So did I. He wrote and said he was coming here, and he wanted to talk to Scott.”

“ Talk to Scott about what?”

“ That we don’t know son.”

“ I think I’ll go get something to eat and then take Val into Spanish Wells.” Johnny said.

Research Notes: Chapter 7


Chapter 8

Teresa opened her eyes to find herself laying in a bed in a room she didn’t know. Sitting up she looked around the room and found she was in a doctors room.

“ Well I was beginning to wonder when you would wake up young lady. I’m Dr. Brooks, Can you tell me your name?”

“ Teresa O’Brian.”

“ Well Teresa, can you tell me how you are feeling, and where it hurts?”

“ All over.” she said. “ But my face hurts the worst.”

“ Somebody beat you pretty bad.” Dr. Brooks said. “ How far along are you?”

“ Eight months.” she said.

“ Well as far as I can tell….the baby is okay.” he said as he poured some water. “ Marshal Dearborn is outside waiting to talk to you. Do you feel like telling him what happened?”

“ Do I have too?” she asked.

“ This sort of thing happening in Cheyenne does not sit well with the marshal or the other people who have been asking about you outside my office.” the doctor explained. “ Now….nobody can make you, but the person who did this too you needs to be punished. If you would like, I can have Mrs. Davis come be with you while you talk to him.”

“ Who is she?”

“ Mrs. Verna Davis is a widow who runs a boarding house at the edge of town. She’s in the waiting room and has been worried about you.” he responded.

“ They won’t believe me if I tell them who raped me.” Teresa said as tears began to fall.

“ Young lady, I promise you, our marshal is a very good man. He will arrest whoever did this too you regardless of who it is.” he explained.

“ Alright.” she said.

“ Drink some of this water and I’ll be right back.”

Teresa let out a sigh of relief when the doctor left the room. The whole time Brock was beating and raping her, she prayed for her baby to be safe.

“ Teresa, this is Verna Davis and Marshal Dearborn. I’ll just be outside.”

“ Young lady, I need to ask you a few questions about what happened.” the marshal said. “ You don’t have to tell me everything, but I need to know what happened.”

“ I think what happened to her is pretty obvious Henry.” Verna said.

“  Can you tell me who did this to you?” the marshal asked.

“ Do I have too?” she asked. “ I mean, how do I know he won’t come after me.”

“ I’ll protect you.” the marshal said.

“ Teresa, you can come stay at my boarding house as soon as the doctor says it’s alright for you to be moved.” Verna said.

“ He was so nice to me, on the train, and when we got here.” she said.

“ You mean Brock Peters?” Verna asked. “ I seen you with him a few times.”

“ Did Brock Peters do this to you?” he asked.

“ Yes, last night. He was working the desk and I came down to see him around midnight. I couldn’t sleep so I thought I would visit with him for a while. He was in the office.” she explained with a quiver to her voice. “  he told me his brother was going to fire me in the morning, and wanted me gone by weeks end.”

“ So you worked for Doug Peters at the Cattleman’s Club?” the marshal asked.

“ Yes. I took orders and brought people their food. His brother didn’t like that Brock was seeing me. He said he was falling in love with me. Next thing I know, he closed the door grabbed my arm and shoved me down on the cot in the back of the office…….I tried to fight him off, but he started beating me and then…….then he…..”

“ You’re saying Brock peters raped and beat you?”

“ Yes. I don’t know what he did to me once I lost consciousness I woke up in the alley next to the hotel.”

“ That’s where I found her and brought her here.” Verna said.

“ Alright…I’ll swear out a warrant for Brock Peters arrest. If this goes to trial, and it probably will…..will you be able to take the stand and testify?”

“ I will.” she said.

“ I think that’s enough marshal. She needs rest.” Verna said.

“ Marshal…….I scratched his face up real good. I know he was bleeding from some of them.” Teresa said. “ And I bit him hard on his right arm.”

“ Thank you. Get some rest.” he said before leaving.

Johnny and Val rode into Spanish Wells and stopped at the empty jail. “ That’s it.”

Val dismounted and looked around. “ That there the bank?”

“ Yeah. All the ranchers in the area use it instead of riding all the way to Stockton.” Johnny said as he dismounted.

“ Seems like a nice enough town.” Val said as they went inside the jail.

“ You got a coffee pot so you won’t have to make your skillet coffee.” Johnny said.

“ I don’t remember you complainin about my skillet coffee on them cold mornings!” Val gruffed.

“ No I never did.” Johnny said with a laugh as he opened the door to the cells. “ That door must be to where you’ll sleep.”

Val opened the door and found a cot with a blanket and pillow. A small window to allow light into the small room with a small table with a bowl and pitcher for washing up. “ You know, I’m happy for ya kid.” he said. “ Yur pappy seems like a good man.”

“ Yeah, nothing like what I was led to believe about him.” Johnny said.

“ So how big is Lancer?” Val asked.

“ One hundred thousand acres, with roughly ten thousand head of cattle.”

“ And yur now a part owner?”

“ Yeah, a third owner with Scott.”

“ Scott……You ever think you would have a brother like him?”

“ No…..When I was being abused I would wish for a big brother.” Johnny said.

“ Did she know about Scott?” Val asked.

“ Yeah, she knew. Murdoch said he told her all about his first marriage.”

“ What happened to his first wife?”

“ Scott’s mother…….she died giving birth to him. He was raised by his grandfather back in Boston.”

“ So neither boy grew up with their pappy?”

“ No. Scott has a college education and fought in the war. The only thing we have in common is we both survived being in prison.”

“ Prison?”

“ Yeah, he spent a year in Libby.”

Scott stopped the buggy. “ The last time you were here.”

“ The last time I was here, I was made to feel not welcomed by both you and Murdoch my boy.”

“And who’s fault was that?” Scott demanded. “ If you have come here to try and blackmail me into going back to Boston, that will not work. I’m a grown man capable of making my own choices. I like living out here. I like having a little brother and being with my father.”

“ I did not come here to try and get you to go back to Boston. You have made that quite clear with your harsh, cruel words.”

“ Why are you really here grandfather?”

“ My reasons for being here you will learn soon my boy.” Harlan said as Murdoch walked out of the house. “ Hello Murdoch.”

“ Harlan, let’s get something clear right now.” Murdoch said firmly. “ I have a cattleman’s meeting this weekend. While my guest are here, you will conduct yourself in a proper manner to every person in this house. If you cannot do that, then you can stay at the hotel in town. Do I make myself clear?”

“ I understand and I assure you, I have no intention of disrupting your meeting.” Harlan said. “ I am here to talk to my Scotty.”

“ I will be attending the meeting as well grandfather.” Scott said. “ And one more thing….My name is Scott, not Scotty…..Scott……Garrett….. Lancer.”

“  Johnny not joining us for supper?” Scott asked.

“ He took Val into Spanish Wells to show him around.” Murdoch said. “ He should have been back by now.”

“ Where is the young lady that cooked the meals last time I was here?” Harlan asked.

“ Teresa no longer lives here.” Scott said.

“ I thought she was your ward until she reached twenty one?” Harlan asked.

“ I’m not at liberty to discuss the particulars with you Harlan.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ Fare enough. As you know I have very good lawyers working for me if you need their service.” Harlan suggested.

“ I’m quite aware of your lawyers and what they are capable of Harlan. I won’t be needing them.” Murdoch said.

“ There is no reason for hostility Murdoch. I was just making a friendly suggestion.” Harlan said.

Doug Peters walked into the office the next morning to find it a mess and his brother sound asleep on the cot.

“ Brock….wake the hell up!” he demanded. “ What the hell happened in here?”

Brock sat up in bed.

“ What the hell happened to you.”

“ Nothing.” Brock said as he stood up.

“ Nothing! Your face is all scratched up and bloody. I find you back here sleeping when you are supposed to be working the front desk. The office is a shambles. What the hell happened?” Doug demanded.

“ Stop yelling at me.” Brock said.

Doug grabbed his brother and slammed him up against the wall. “ You stupid sonofabitch…..You did it again haven’t you?”

“ Let go of me!” Brock ordered as he tried to get free.

“ Get out…….Get the hell out of my business. I don’t ever want to see you in here again.” Doug ordered as he shoved his brother toward the door. “ Get out!”

Brock glared at his brother a few seconds before walking out of the office.

“ Brock Peters I need to talk to you!” Marshal Dearborn said.

“ Not in my hotel marshal. I don’t want my guest………”

“ I don’t give a shot about your guest. A young lady was raped and badly beaten last night.” the marshal said with anger. “She said you did it….and you know what…..I believe her.”

“ You sonofabitch! You raped and beat a woman who is eight months pregnant!” Doug said. “ Marshal…..I think you should go look at my office.”

Marshal Dearborn walked back and looked at the office. Walking back out he grabbed Brock by his shirt. “ She said she scratched your face up good while you beat and raped her. I’m going to see that you get sent to Laramie for what you did to that innocent young lady.”

“ That lying bitch got what she deserved last night.” Brock spat back.

Marshal Dearborn pulled out a pair of handcuffs. “ Hold out your hands.” he ordered.

“ Teresa, I want you to come stay at my boarding house. You should not be alone in your condition.” Verna said.

“ I have no money.” Teresa said.

“ Don’t worry about that. You need to worry about that baby and taking care of yourself. Now Doctor Brooks says you are about seven months along. That gives us a month to get ready for a new life.” Verna said. “ I have the buggy outside.”

“ Thank you. I appreciate your kindness.” Teresa said as she slowly got out of bed.

“ I brought a blanket to cover you up. We’ll get you something to wear later.” Verna said as they walked out of the room.

“ Thank you for all you have done for me Doctor Brooks.”

“ I will be seeing you again young lady. I want you to do as Verna says, get plenty of rest and drink plenty of water.” he instructed.

Teresa walked outside to find the marshal walking Brock towards her. Just the sight of seeing him made her start trembling all over.

“ You got him.” Verna said.

“ You little bitch…..I didn’t rape you. I gave you what you deserved!” Brock spat.

Teresa became angry all over. Walking up to Brock, she lashed out and slapped him as hard as she could. “ You might want to remember who’s baby I’m carrying.”

Marshal Dearborn watched Brock’s face turn as white as a sheet. “ He’ll pay for what he did to you.”

“ Thank you Marshal Dearborn.” Teresa said softly. “ He’ll pay more than you know.”

“ Let’s go Teresa.” Verna said.

Johnny walked into the grand room and found Murdoch, Scott and Harlan eating lunch.

“ Where the devil you been?” Murdoch demanded.

Johnny, already in a bad mood, sat down. “ In Spanish Wells doing what you said to do. You said to take Val to town and show him the jail and around town so I did. We had a few beers and lost track of the time.”

“ I told you to show him around. I did not tell you to stay all night, get drunk and stay and half the next day.” Murdoch said. “ As a part owner of this ranch, I expect you to do your fair share of the work.”

“ I do my share of the work Murdoch. I shouldn’t even be back from Fort Tejon yet, so cut me some slack old man.” Johnny snapped back.

“ As the one who calls the tune, I decide when work starts and what kind of work starts.” his father said firmly.

“  Perhaps if the boy had had proper upbringing, he wouldn’t be so defiant Murdoch.” Harlan said.

“ Grandfather….stay out of it.”

Johnny glared at Harlan. “  Look….just because you’re pissed off over him being here….that don’t give you a right to take it out on me.” Johnny said as he stood up, grabbed a couple biscuits and left the house.

“ Clearly that boy is wild and disrespectful Murdoch.” Harlan said.

“ Grandfather….keep your opinions about my brother to yourself. I told you to stay out of it. The conversation did not pertain to you.” Scott cut in and ordered. “ You couldn’t see that something is bothering him. That he was in a bad mood when he came in here?”

Johnny walked out to the barn to groom Barranca. He knew his father wasn’t angry at him, not really.

“  How did he do on the drive?” Scott asked as he walked in.

“ He did real good.”

“ You alright?” Scott asked.

“ I’m fine.” Johnny said.

“ I know you brother. Something is wrong.” Scott said. “ Talk to me.”

Johnny pulled the telegram out of his pocket. “ Murdoch wired that Pinkerton and asked him to find out if Teresa is pregnant.” he said as he handed him the paper.

“ Jesus…..Johnny, I’m sorry.” Scott said. “ What are you going to do?”

“ I don’t know Scott. She should be about eight months. A part of me wants to find the sonofabitch that raped and beat her and kill him. The other part of me wants to go get my child.” Johnny said.

“ When do you plan to tell Murdoch what has happened to her?”

“ When he’s in a better mood.” Johnny responded. “ Why is your grandfather here?”

“ Haven’t a clue. He said he wants to talk to me, but I have a feeling he is going to try something to get me to leave here.”

“ Blackmail?”

“ Possibly. Why don’t you saddle up, you can help me with checking fence and streams.”

“ Scott….thanks.” Johnny said as he started saddling Barranca.

“ That’s what big brothers are for. I’ll go let him know you will be riding out to help me.” Scott said before leaving the barn.

“ How are you feeling?” Verna asked.

“ I’m still sore. I’m just glad my baby is okay.” Teresa replied. “ Would you like some help?”

“ No, I have everything already done for supper tonight. I have three boarders and thought I would make an apple pie for dessert.” Verna said. “ You can sit and keep me company.”

“ Back at Lancer, I did all the cooking, breakfast and supper at six and lunch. Seven days a week.”

“ Is Lancer where you came from?” she asked.

“ I was Murdoch’s ward. I was born at Lancer. My mother ran off when I was a baby and my father raised me. He was Murdoch’s foreman until he was murdered. That’s when I became his ward. I was twelve.” Teresa explained.

“ Were you happy there?”

“ Oh yes. Lancer is the most beautiful place in the whole wide world. There isn’t a ranch in all of California as big or as beautiful as Lancer.”

“ How big is this ranch?” Verna asked as they peeled apples.

“ One hundred thousand acres.” she said.

“ Oh my that is big. Can I ask you who the father is?”

“ Someone who………Oh Verna….I made such a huge mistake.” Teresa said as tears started rolling down her cheeks.

“ Do you feel that baby is a mistake?”

“ What…..No not the baby. I mean me…..I left Lancer like a coward in the middle of the night.. The father had left a week before to deliver horses to the army. I imagine he’s back now and knows I left.”

“ So you were not married to this man?”

“ No…..Please don’t judge me. I’m not a bad person…..It’s just that…..his past could put both me and the baby in danger.”

“ Teresa, it is not my place to judge you. I have taken you into my home to care for you and that baby.”

“ He’s Murdoch’s youngest son Johnny Lancer.” she said. “ But he didn’t grow up at Lancer.” she said and then told Verna about Scott and Johnny both.

“ Okay, You said he would put you and the baby in danger…”

“ Because of who he is……was.”  she said. “ Down around the Mexican border and in the southwest Johnny is known by another name. A name he became after his mother was murdered. He was thirteen when he took the name Johnny Madrid, the fastest gunfighter west of the Mississippi river and north and south of the border. He came home hoping to change and live a normal life as Johnny Lancer.”

“ Did you love him?”

“ I still do, but with everything that happened between us, there’s no way he would ever want me.”

“ Now you don’t know that. Have you tried talking to him?” Verna asked.

“ We’ve had talks, fights and I’ve lied to him.” Teresa said.

“ Just because you had fights does not mean he doesn’t love you……or you not love him. As for lying to him… can make a lie right by telling the truth.” she suggested. “ Maybe you should think about going back and giving him a chance? That baby could be just what is needed to bring him or hers parents together.”

“ Johnny, that’s him. That’s the man we met with. The one who wanted us to kill you.” Zack said.

Johnny looked toward the house and seen Harlan Garrett sitting on the portico.

“ Are you sure it’s him?” Johnny asked.

“ It’s him alright. I can see that fancy gold chain for his watch from here.” Billy said.

“ Listen, he doesn’t know you two are here. Stay at the south mesa line-shack at night.”

“ Okay Johnny.” Zack said as they mounted up.

Johnny walked to the house.

“ Hello Johnny.” Harlan said. “ I would imagine someone like you being a part of all this is quite the shock?”

“ Someone like me…..Just what the hell does that mean?” Johnny asked with irritation.

“ Growing up in such a barren wasteland as Mexico with all those filthy poor peasants. Having to steal food to eat when your mother was drunk…..or had customers come to the shanty, filthy little shacks you would live in.” Harlan said.

“ Old man, you know nothing about me or my mother.” Johnny said firmly.

“ I know more about you than you think my boy.” Harlan said as he stood up. “ You don’t scare me one bit. I’ve been dealing with vagabonds like you for many years. I happen to know of a Captain Martinez being very interested in finding you.”

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

“ You know what I’m talking about. Murdoch paid five thousand dollars to get you out of that Mexican prison . Puerto Peñasco I believe was the name. I wonder how they would feel if they knew you murdered two innocent men while in there?”

Johnny grabbed Harlan by his jacket and pushed him back against the wall. “ You sonofabitch…..”

“ Let go of me now.” Harlan said as he pressed a small derringer into Johnny’s ribs.

Johnny let go of his jacket. “ You threatening me old man?”

“ I am…..and unless you want them to know what you did……You will do what I suggest.” Harlan said as he fixed his jacket.

“ I will give you the weekend to think it over. If you don’t leave here Monday…….I will tell them what happened while you were in that prison, what you did…….and….. I will bring in every gunfighter I can to shoot you down.” Harlan said firmly. “ My Scotty just thinks he wants to stay here. Once he knows just what kind of a brother you are and how easy it is for you to murder an unarmed, defenseless man, he will leave Lancer and come back to Boston where he belongs.”

“ You know nothing about what happened in that prison old man. You want to tell Captain Martinez where I’m at…..go ahead. You want to bring men here to try and kill me…..go ahead. But before you do, you better think about what Scott would think and say if I tell him about our little discussion.” Johnny sad before walking into the house and heading upstairs.

“ We shall see who Scotty believes half-breed.” Harlan said. “ We shall see.”

Murdoch walked out of the house as the barouche stopped. “ Welcome.” he said. “ Walt and Frank will show you upstairs to your rooms.”

“ Murdoch, it’s good to see you.” Hackett said. “I hope you still have some of that fine brandy you served last time?”

“ Don’t forget about those fine Cuban cigars.” Nelson added.

Murdoch laughed as they shook hands. “ Yes.”

“ Murdoch, I met your youngest son in Spanish Wells with another man.” Porter said.

“ Yes, Johnny told me he ran into you.” Murdoch said with a little irritation in his voice. “ Why don’t you all go in and freshen up. Dinner will be served at six.”

“Don’t let Porter get to you Murdoch.” Hackett said.

“ Murdoch, I hear you have someone to be the sheriff of Spanish Wells?” Santee asked.

“ Yes. I’ll discuss that and let you meet him this weekend.” Murdoch said as they walked inside. “ Where’s your brother?”

“ I haven’t seen him since breakfast.” Scott said.

“ Go find him and make sure he’s here for supper.” Murdoch ordered.

Johnny poured water over his face before taking a drink. All afternoon he had been clearing the brush from Cantua creek. Riding back to the house he seen how the brush had grown up, and would block the water. Hearing a horse approaching, he smiled when he seen who it was.

“ What are you doing out here?” he asked as he climbed out of the creek.

“ Looking for you.” Scott said.

“ Me….why?”

“ Have you forgot we have guest for the weekend?” Scott asked before dismounting.

“ The old man sent you huh?”

“ Yes. He wants to make sure you are there on time for supper. We head back now, it will give you enough time to take a bath before supper.”

“ Let me ask you something…..Murdoch has files on me from the Pinkerton’s right?”

“ Yes.”

“ Have you read what’s in them?”

“ Just the last one Murdoch got telling us you had been found, and where you were at. Why?”

“ Where’s Murdoch keep them?”

“Locked up in the bottom drawer of his desk.” Scott aid. “ Why, what’s going on Johnny?”

“ Something I’ll explain after those ranchers are gone.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle. “ Lets go keep the old man happy.”

“ Alright, that concludes everything except finding a sheriff for Spanish Wells.” Porter said as he watched an older man walk into the room.

“ Gentlemen, this is Harlan Garrett, Scott’s grandfather.” Murdoch said.

“ Gentlemen. Don’t let me interrupt your meeting.” Harlan said before continuing outside.

“ As I was saying, We all know more people are coming west, some of which are trouble.” Porter said as Johnny and Val walked into the room. “ Gunfighters, bandits, bums, farmers who will try and fence off our water and take away our grazing.”

“ Not all farmers are bad people Porter.” Johnny said.

“ I would expect a person like you saying that Madrid.” Porter said.

“ As I told you the other day in town, I go by Lancer now.”

“  Spanish Wells needs a sheriff to keep these troublemakers out, especially now that gold will be stored in the bank overnight three maybe four times a year.” Murdoch cut in and said as he gave his son a hard look of displeasure.

“ Why Spanish Wells?” Nelson asked.

“ It’s the halfway point.” Val said.

“ Gentlemen, this is Val Crawford, the man I would like to be the sheriff of Spanish Wells. Mister Crawford has been a lawman in the past, and was just recently the sheriff of Visalia where Johnny found him.” Murdoch said.

“ You’re a friend of Madrid’s?” Porter asked.

“ I’ve known Johnny a long time.” Val said. “ We rode together in range wars, and I don’t much care for yur tone mister. Johnny is a good man.”

“ He’s a gunfighter……”

“ Mister Crawford, you said Spanish Wells is the halfway point. What did you mean?” Nelson cut in and asked.

“ The army would stop in Visalia doing the same thing. They can only move the gold about twenty miles a day.” Val explained. “ There will be a detachment of soldiers with the shipment.”

“ So you have experience with this sort of thing?” Hackett asked.

“ I have.”

“ Okay, well Mister Crawford why don’t you leave us to discuss this and we will let you know.”  Nelson said.

“ Johnny, take Val outside while we discuss hiring him.” Murdoch ordered.

Johnny glared at his father a second before walking outside.

“ He sounds more than qualified for the job Murdoch.” Santee said.

“ He knows how the army does things.” Hackett added.

“ Driscoll, you’ve been pretty quiet. What do you think of Mister Crawford being appointed sheriff?”

“ I don’t think he should for one simple reason……..your son, Johnny Madrid.” Driscoll said.

“ I agree. How do we know they wouldn’t steal the gold?” Porter asked.

“ Val Crawford comes highly recommended for the job.” Murdoch said as he stood up and walked over to his desk. “ I had a Pinkerton agent check him out. This is just some of what the man has done.” he said as he walked back over and handed the file to Hackett.

“ That man Porter sure has a hate for you kid.” Val said. “ A man like that could be trouble.”

“ Yeah. We’ve dealt with men like him before.” Johnny said.

“ Yur brother was sure quiet in there.”

“ Scott was more concerned with his grandfather being in the room I think.” he said. “ Listen something big is going to go down after they leave tomorrow.”

“ You want me here with you when it happens?” Val asked.

“ No, but what will happen could cost me my brother.”

“ So it has to do with that old man, Scott’s grandfather.”

“ Yeah. I don’t know how he found out, but he knows about something I was forced to do while in prison.”

“ Is this something yur pappy knows about?”

“ I don’t know if he does or not.” Johnny said.

“ Okay, he’s accepted you knowing you were a gunfighter so why worry?” Val asked.

“ I like it here Val. Not having to worry about someone killing me in some town or dying alone out on a trail somewhere.”

“ That old man’s threatened to tell yur pappy about whatever happened in prison if you don’t do what he wants. Is that it?”

“ Yeah. He wants me to leave Lancer so Scott will leave and go back to Boston. Said if I don’t leave Monday, he’ll tell and he’ll bring in as many gunfighters as needed to kill me.”

“ Well the Johnny I know wouldn’t let an ornery old man push him around. You gone soft on me kid since coming here?”

“ No, but it’s not just me anymore Val.”

“ Kid, yur pappy and brother love you. They’re not going to allow what happened in yur past destroy their future with ya.”

“ Excuse me Johnny. Val they would like to see you back inside.” Scott said. From the portico.

Johnny and Val walked back inside.

“ Mister Crawford, we have made a decision and have decided to hire you as the sheriff of Spanish Wells.” Porter said. “ Meet us at ten Monday in Spanish Wells at the jail and we will get you sworn in.”

“ Thank you. I’ll be there.” Val said.

“ Well I guess that concludes this meeting.” Porter said.

“ Murdoch, I hear you got a contract with the army for horses?” Nelson asked.

“ It was a one time deal.” Murdoch said as.

“ The government is paying good money for horses. A  lot of ranchers wish they could meet the demand like you can.”  Nelson said.

“ “ Lancer is a cattle ranch and always will be as long as I’m running it. Horses take too long to be old enough to break. You’re putting money out for four years and getting nothing back. The cost of feed can run a considerable amount.”

“ We’re spending the same amount for cattle feed in the winter and in drought.” Johnny said.

“ As I said…..Lancer is a cattle ranch, and that is what it will remain being young man.” Murdoch cut in and said as he glared at his youngest.

“ Let’s go Val.” Johnny said.

“ Where are you going?” Murdoch demanded.

“ It’s Saturday. I’m going to town.” Johnny said.

Johnny came downstairs Monday morning for breakfast.

“ Johnny.” Scott said.

“ You get whatever is bothering you sorted out brother?”

“ I will this morning. Where’s your grandfather?”

“ I believe he’s still asleep.” Scott said. “ Why?”

“ Look….what I’m about to tell you isn’t easy, especially telling you brother, but you need to know. It was him. Your grandfather is the one who brought Zack and Billy here to kill me.” Johnny said. “ They seen him the other day when we were talking down at the corrals. He came outside, and they seen him. I’ve had them staying at the line-shack out of sight. I wanted to wait until after the meeting to tell you.”

“ What are you  not telling us son?”

“ He knew you bought my freedom. He knows things about my past growing up in Mexico before my mother died……He knows about something I was forced to do while in prison.” Johnny said as he walked over to the widow and looked outside. “ He said the two of you wouldn’t want me here if you knew what it was…..That he would tell you and bring in as many men as it would take to kill me if I didn’t leave Lancer so his Scotty would go back to Boston where he belonged.”

Scott could see how much his brother was hurting having to tell him what his grandfather did. “ At least now I know why he came back here. Johnny…..I’m sorry he’s using you as a pawn little brother.”

“ Son, whatever you were forced to do when you were in that prison, you did to stay alive.” Murdoch said as he took out what he had from the Pinkerton’s while they searched for his son. “ This is everything I have on you. I want you to read thru this file and if it’s not in there, then it’s hearsay.”

“ That’s right little brother. It’s in your past and can stay there as far as I’m concerned. I only care about my future with you.” Scott said.

“ Didn’t you hear what I said?” Johnny asked as he turned to face them.

“ Yes we did.” Murdoch said.

“ Johnny, eat some breakfast and then ride out and bring Zack and Billy to the house. Keep them outside. I’m going to confront grandfather about this.” Scott said as he walked over to his brother and put an arm around him. “  I don’t want to lose you brother….So don’t you dare think about leaving this ranch, because if you do, I will go after you, hogtie you, throw you across your saddle and bring you back here. This is your home and I will be damned if that old man upstairs is going to force you to leave here.”

“ Val is being sworn in as sheriff this morning. I told him I would be there.” Johnny said.

“ I totally forgot son. I have to be there as well. Let’s do this after.”

Research Notes: Chapter 8


Chapter 9

Teresa woke up to sharp pains in her stomach. Getting out of bed she grabbed her robe and headed to Verna’s room. Stepping out into the hall another sharp pain hit her, doubling her over. “ Verna…….help me!” she yelled.

Verna hurried out of her room. “ Oh my, let’s get her back to her bed. Mister Carter, go fetch the doctor. She’s having the baby.”

“ What can I do?” one of the male boarders asked. “ My late wife, I helped her deliver our son.”

“ Go to the kitchen and put some water on boiling for the doctor. Then go to the closet down the hall and bring me clean sheets and towels.” Verna ordered.

“ You’re going to be fine young lady. You’ll be holding that precious baby in your arms soon.” he said before leaving the room.

“ Dr. Brooks will be here soon.” Verna said as she wrung out a cloth and placed it on Teresa’s forehead.

“ The pain is getting worse.” Teresa panted as another sharp pain wracked her body.

“ Let me in there Verna.” Dr. Brooks said.

“ Verna…..please don’t leave me….I’m scared.” Teresa pleaded.

“ I’m going to stay right here. You will be fine.” Verna said.

“ Young lady I would say by sunup we will have a baby in this house.” Dr. Brooks said as he felt her stomach.

“  Raise your right hand. I, Val Crawford do swear that I will faithfully execute all laws precepts, directed to the Sheriff’s of the United States for the Western District of California 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 Sheriff of the Western District of California during my continuance in said office, and take only my lawful fees, so help me God. Sworn to and subscribed before me this 19th day of September 1872.” Mayor Sweeney said.

Val repeated the oath as he looked at Johnny leaning next to the door with his arms crossed. He could tell something weighed heavy on his friends mind.

“ Congratulations Sheriff Crawford.” the mayor said.

“ Thank you mayor.” Val said. “ Mister Lancer, Scott, Johnny.”

“ We need to get back to the ranch. Son, you know what to do.” Murdoch said.

Val waited until he was alone with Johnny. “ I’ve known you a long time. I know something is bothering you. Spill it kid.”

“ Teresa.” Johnny said softly.

“ Teresa, the young lady you got pregnant?”

“ She was beaten really bad…..and raped.”

“ Oh my…..what are you going to do?” Val asked.

“ She should be close to having the baby…..if it’s still alive.” Johnny said. “ I was going to go to Cheyenne in the fall.”

“ Does yur pappy know about this?”

“ About what happened to her……..not yet.”

“ I suggest you tell him kid. Let him know what’s going on.”

“ I need to go. I have another matter I have to take care of.” Johnny said as he walked to the door.

“ Promise me you won’t let yur emotions get you all confused over this kid. You know what can happen when you do.”

“ This situation isn’t the same as El Paso.” Johnny said. “ I’ll see you.”

Murdoch and Scott looked in the open veranda door to see Harlan sitting at the table doing exactly what they hoped he would do. The Pinkerton reports on the table in front of him.

“ What are you doing?” Murdoch demanded. “ Those are private files you have no business reading.”

“ If they’re private, then they shouldn’t have been left on the table.” Harlan said.

“Why are you here…….why did you really come here?” Murdoch demanded.

“ Did you come here again to try and blackmail my brother into leaving Lancer?………Did you think if you blackmailed him… would get him to leave here and get me to go back to Boston?” Scott demanded.

“ You should have never come here.” Murdoch said with anger as he picked up the file. “ You have had a hatred for me  ever since I brought Catherine out here. You’re the reason she died. You’re the one who left her all alone to die in that wagon. You stole Scott from me and didn’t care about your own daughter!”

“ Scotty would have no future here in this godforsaken place. Because of me he has an education and can be very successful, but he can’t do that living here!” Harlan said as he stood up. “ My Catherine would still be alive if she had never married you!”

“ You left my mother to die all alone in a wagon?” Scott demanded. “ You told me she died giving birth to me. She was still alive after I was born?”

“ Yes she was son. The woman with her when I got there said he took the only horses and left with you.” Murdoch said. “ You told her you were going to get the doctor, but you didn’t. You went straight to the train and left.”

“ I did what was right for my Scotty. If you had cared about him at all….you would have been there with her.” Harlan said with anger. “ You never loved her. If you had you never would have taken that filthy Mexican whore to bed and created that bastard half-breed you call your son! You bought that half-breed cold-blooded killers freedom for five thousand dollars. Tell me something Murdoch, would you have done that if you knew the truth about him?”

“ How dare you……….How dare you speak about my brother like that. Johnny is not a cold-blooded killer.” Scott said with anger.

“ No! Why don’t you ask him what he did while in prison?” Harlan demanded.

“ I know everything I need to know about my son. What he did in the past has no being on how much I love him.” Murdoch said. “ You hired two men to try and kill Johnny last year. You thought killing him would get Scott to leave me.”

“ Hypocrisy. You claim you have moral standards or beliefs, yet your own behavior does not conform. Why is that?” Scott asked.

“ I would think the answer to that would be simple?” Johnny asked from the veranda door.

“ I never hired anyone to try and kill that filthy. Half-breed!” Harlan spat.

Johnny walked up to Harlan. “ You sure about that old man? I told them what you said to me the other day. How you threatened me if I didn’t leave here. How you would bring in as many men as it would take to kill me. Go ahead, because we have something you will never have, Unity. Lancer takes care of its own…..and you’re not welcome here.”

“ Don’t threaten me.” Harlan said.

“ Billy….Zack come in here?” Johnny said as he watched the color drain from Harlan’s face when they walked in. “ Is this the man?”

“ It’s him and we can prove it.” Billy said.

“ That gold watch he has, it has an engraving on the back. Your mother gave it to him.” Zack said.

“ I’ve done nothing wrong. Killing a gunfighter is not against the law.

“  Hiring someone to do it is.” Val said as he walked into the house. “ It’s called a contract killing and it is against the law. You could get ten years for it.”

“ But that’s only if I press charges.” Johnny said. “ But because you’re Scott’s grandfather…….I’m going to be generous and not press charges, but only if you leave here, go back to Boston and never contact Scott again.”

Harlan glared at Johnny before turning and going upstairs to pack.

“ Thanks Val.” Johnny said. “ Billy, Zack.”

“ Any time Johnny.” Zack said.

“ You two head on back to work.” Johnny said.

“ You need me anymore kid?” Val asked.

“ No Val. I think he got the message.” Johnny said. “ I’ll see you Saturday night.”

“ Alright buddy. Scott, Mister Lancer.” Val said before leaving.

Johnny turned to face his brother. “ I’m sorry Scott.”

“ You did nothing wrong brother.” Scott said.

“ I’m going to head out and help Zack and Billy with that fencing….Murdoch, we need to have a talk tonight.” Johnny said as he started toward the veranda door but stopped when he heard a pop and then a second one as a white hot pain started surging in his right side and back.

Murdoch looked in horror as his youngest son fell thru the glass door, crashing to the patio.

“ No!” Scott yelled as he ran to his brother.

Val heard the crashing of glass, turned his horse and galloped back to the house. “ What happened?”

“ My grandfather shot him. He fell thru the door.” Scott said.

“ Where is he?”

“ He’s inside sitting on the stairs.” Murdoch said. “ I took the derringer away from him.”

“ Get that sonofabitch out of our house!” Scott ordered as he picked his brother up.

“ Frank, go get Sam!” Murdoch yelled.

Val drew his gun and went inside. “ Stand up!” he ordered.

Harlan stood up and walked over to the sheriff. “ I hope that half-breed killer dies.”

“ You better hope he don’t die.” Val said as Scott carried Johnny upstairs.

“ Mister Lancer, I’ll need to barrow a horse to take this …… To take him to jail.”

“ Just tell a hand to saddle you one.” Murdoch said as he walked up to Harlan, swung and hit the man as hard as he could in the mouth. “ You sonofabitch…….I will see you are hanged for this if my son dies.”

“ Take it easy Mister Lancer. Go on upstairs and take care of your son.” Val said.

“ Young lady, would you like to hold your son?” Verna asked.

“ It’s a boy…….I have a son?” she asked as he was placed in her arms.

“ Yes you do young lady. He has all his fingers and toes, and appears to be very healthy.” Dr. Brooks said. “ How do you feel?”

“ Tired.” she said.

“ Why don’t I take care of the baby for a couple hours so you can get some much needed rest?” Verna suggested.

“ That’s a good idea. I want you to rest and get something to eat. You’re going to need it when it comes to being woke up in the middle of the night to change a diaper or feed this little man.”

“ Have you thought of a name for your baby?” Verna asked.

“ No I haven’t yet.” Teresa said.

“ Well, there’s plenty of time to name him. You get some rest.” Verna said.

Sam walked into the bedroom and stopped. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Johnny’s chest and left arm were wrapped up in bandages. “ What happened? I was told he was shot.”

“ He was Sam….twice. He fell thru the veranda door and has a deep cut on his left arm.” Scott said.

“ Alright, let me in there. Murdoch go on downstairs. I’m going to be a while.”

“ Will he be alright?” Murdoch asked.

“ I don’t know. Go make sure I have plenty of hot water, and bandages.” Sam ordered.

“ I’m staying Sam.” Scott said firmly. “ You will need help.”

Sam could tell by the look on Scott’s face he wasn’t leaving the room until he knew his brother was alright.

“ Alright. Let’s see where them bullets are.” Sam said.

Murdoch stood looking at all the glass and blood on the portico stone floor.

“  Mister Lancer,  how’s he doing?” Walt asked.

“ I don’t know anything yet Walt. Sam is still upstairs.” Murdoch said.

“ I thought you should know a couple of hands went with the sheriff to take Scott’s grandfather to jail.” Walt said. “ We can’t believe what happened……I’ll have a couple men come clean this up.”

“ Thank you.” Murdoch said with sadness in his voice.

Walt knew how hurt Murdoch was. He knew from the amount of blood on the ground, Johnny was cut up bad.

“ Murdoch, you been standing there the whole time?” Sam asked as he came downstairs.

Murdoch turned and walked over to his desk to sit down. “ How is he?”

“ He has a very deep cut on his lower right arm that took twenty stitches to close up.” Sam said

“ Will he be able to use that arm again?” Murdoch asked.

“ I know why you’re asking. We won’t know for a while if he can.” Sam said. “ He’s going to need someone staying with him to keep him still. I was able to remove one of the bullets.”

“ Just one?”

“ The other bullet is too close to his spine Murdoch. Johnny is going to need a younger, better doctor to remove it.” Sam responded.

“ His spine? Sam are you saying my son is paralyzed?”

“ No. If he doesn’t have the bullet removed, it could cause paralysis in time. Leaving it in, it may not move and he can live a normal life. Or he could start having sharp pains that will cause his right arm to go numb and last longer each time it happens.” Sam explained. “ I’ll explain everything to Johnny when he’s awake and can understand what he is facing.”

“ As his father I want that bullet removed.” Murdoch said firmly.

“ As his father you would, but unfortunately it’s not your call Murdoch. Johnny is of age. It’s his decision to make.”

“ Then I will make sure that boy makes the right decision.”

“ You are going to need another person Murdoch. I’ll have the widow Rogers come and help.” Sam said as he walked over and poured a shot of whiskey and walked over to Murdoch. “ Drink this.”

“ I’ll be staying the night.”

Murdoch took the shot and downed it. “ Can it kill him?”

“ No, if the bullet moves it will paralyze him on his right side.” Sam said.

Teresa woke up the next morning to a crying baby. “ What’s wrong with him?”

“ Nothing that his mother can’t fix. This little man is hungry. Why don’t you feed him and I will go fix you some breakfast.” Verna suggested as she stood up and placed the baby in her arms.

“ Hey little one.” Teresa said as she positioned the baby so he could suckle. “ I’m sorry I’m late. You wore me out bringing you into this world.” she said as she played with his tiny fingers. “ You know I still have to give you a name and I think I know what that name is going to be. You see, I had a dream last night about you, and how special you are, but I already knew that. I’m going to name you after your grandfather, Paul O’Brian. He was a very special man, but sadly he was murdered when I was small. As soon as I can travel, we are going to take a trip to California. See that’s where your father is at. He’s a part owner of a very big ranch with lots of horses, cows and other animals. Your grandfather and uncle are there too, and I want you too meet all of them.” she said as tears ran down her cheeks.  “ See me and your daddy had a rough relationship, my fault mostly. I did things to him I’m not proud of and need to make right. You see Paul, your daddy didn’t get a chance to grow up at Lancer. I did like his mother did and ran away and that was wrong.”

Verna stood outside the bedroom door listening to Teresa talk to her son. Silently she vowed she would get Teresa back to California so the father had a chance to see his son grow up.

“ How’s my patient doing today?” Sam asked as he walked into Johnny’s bedroom two weeks later.

“ Tired of being stuck in this damn bed and all the coddling I’m getting from Murdoch.”

“ He means well Johnny.” he said. “ Try putting yourself in his shoes. He seen you get shot…..and he seen you crash thru the door. When I went downstairs after sewing you up your father was standing there just staring at the blood and broken glass. He’s never seen you shot before Johnny. That man was afraid he was going to lose you, and now he’s afraid you will be paralyzed from this.”

“ I know, I hear it every time he comes up here Sam.” Johnny responded with irritation.  “ It’s not his body, his choice or his…….”

“ Talk to me John. What is said between us stays between us. It’s doctor, patient confidentiality.” Sam said.

“ He’s pressuring me to have the bullet removed.” Johnny said. “ It’s my decision….not his.”

“ True, but he’s just thinking about what could happen if the bullet moves. That’s what he’s afraid of the most John.”

“ Another bullet in my body won’t matter none.”

“ What do you mean by that young man?”

“ I have a  bullet in me Sam. I couldn’t get it out so I cleaned the wound and stitched it up.”

“ Can I ask where this bullet is?”

“ Right here.” Johnny said as he reached up with his left hand and touched the area below his collar bone. “ It’s been in there three years.”

Sam felt just below the collar bone and could feel the bullet. “ Does that ever bother you?”

“ Sometimes when I wake up if I sleep on that side it will bother me. Especially if I sleep on the hard ground.”

“ I can remove it if you want?” Sam asked.

“ What… man while I’m having the one in my back removed?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes. That way you’re only bed ridden once.” Sam said.

“ Do you think she’s had the baby by now Sam?”

“ Teresa…….I would expect she had it a couple weeks ago.” he said. “ You thinking about what she had?”

“ Yeah…..I wish she hadn’t left. We could have made it work or at least tried.”

Sam stood up and put his instruments in his bag. “ I think if you let Scott help you…..I’ll let you go downstairs now…..But only if you have help. I don’t want you falling.”

“ Thanks Sam. I think I’ll take a nap now. I’m kind of tired.” Johnny said.

“  Teresa I have something I want to say.” Verna said as she sat down. “ I talked to Dr. Brooks, and he said you can travel now. My remaining boarder leaves the end of the week. Once he’s gone, I am going to close down the boarding house and the three of us are going to take a trip to California. That little man has some people he needs to meet, and you young lady need to have a talk with his father.”

“ Murdoch won’t let me see Johnny.” Teresa said.

“ You be surprised what a baby can do to a person.” Verna said. “ And you have no idea just how persistent I can be.”

“ I can’t ask you to do that. You’ve done so much for us already.”

“ I will not take no for an answer.” Vera said. “ Looks like Marshal Dearborn walking this way.”

“ Ladies.”

“ Marshal, what brings you to this end of town?” Verna asked.

“I thought it was time to come see the newest resident of Cheyenne.” Henry said.

“ When will the trial be?” Teresa asked.

“ He sure is a beautiful boy.” he said. “ There isn’t going to be a trial.”

“ What….why?” she asked as she stood up.

“ Sometime last night…..Brock was killed.”

“ Killed…..How?” Verna asked.

“ He was stabbed. Someone got in the jail and stabbed him while I was out on my rounds.”

“  Who could have done it?” Teresa asked.

“ I have my suspicions it was his brother Doug. It would seem he’s gone and nobody has seen him.” the marshal explained.

“ Oh my. Do you think he killed his brother?” Verna asked.

“ Given he sold his business and cleaned out his bank account…..Yes I do Verna.” “ He sold his business last month for half of what it was worth a week after I arrested his brother.”

“  So I don’t have to testify to what he did to me?” Teresa asked.

“ No you won’t.” Henry said.

“ Did you know this Verna?” she asked. “ Is that why you want me to go back to California, because there will be no trial?”

“ Know Brock was dead….certainly not.” Verna responded. “ I told you why I want you to go back.”

“ I’m sorry….I never should have thought such a horrible thing.” Teresa said.

“ Go back?” the marshal asked.

“ To California and face what I’ve done to Paul’s father.” Teresa said. “ I can’t do to him what Johnny’s mother did to him.”

“ I’ve been meaning to ask you about something you said the day I arrested Brock. When I said he would pay for what he did to you, you said he would pay more than I know.” the marshal said. “ I asked Brock and he said the father of your baby is the gunfighter Johnny Madrid. Is that true?”

“ Johnny Lancer is my baby’s father Marshal Dearborn.”

“ A man can change if he really wants too. I’m not here to pass judgment on you…..or him. I just asked a question.” he said.

“ He used to be. His mother took him away from Lancer when he was a baby. Murdoch searched for him for years. A Pinkerton agent found him in a Mexican prison. He paid five thousand dollars for his freedom so he could come home. His mother was murdered when he was ten, he’d been horribly abused as a kid until he became Johnny Madrid to stop the abuse.  He’s never murdered anyone marshal, and the only men he has killed are those who called him out.”

“ Seems to me you’re still in love with him?” he said. “ I think going back would be the best thing you ever did young lady.”

“  How you doing kid?” Val asked as he walked into the bedroom. “ I was told you wanted to see me?”

“  Yeah. I’ve been sitting here thinking and I want you to do something for me.” Johnny said.

“ I’m listening.” Val said.

“ I want you to let Harlan Garrett go. I’m not going to press charges against him.”

“ Are you……..Have you gone plum loco kid? That man tried to kill you.”

“ I can’t do it Val. You know how many men have tried to kill me.”

“ Yeah, but they did it facing you.”

“ Not all. I’ve been ambushed on the trail by men like him.” Johnny said.

“ Why…..Give me one good reason why kid.”

“ I can give you two.” Johnny said. “ One, he’s an old man and two….. the main reason I can’t do it, he’s Scott’s grandfather. Let him go.”

Val walked to the door. “ You’ve changed kid.”

“ Will you do it?”

“ Yeah, I’ll do it.” he said with anger before heading downstairs.

“ Something wrong sheriff Crawford?” Murdoch asked.

“ That boy of yurs. I don’t think I will ever understand him!” Val gruffed. “ He wants me to let that man go free. Says he’s not going to press charges against him because he’s old and he’s Scott’s grandfather.”

“ He said what?” Murdoch yelled.

“ Don’t yell at me…..My hands are tied. He don’t press charges I got no choice but to let the man go.” Val snapped back.

“ What about if I press charges?” Murdoch asked.

“You can’t. It weren’t you he tried ta kill.” Val said.

“ I don’t want that man set free!” Murdoch said with anger.

“ Mister Lancer…..I have no choice but to let him go.” Val said. “ I need ta get back.”

“You know, this is my first time ever riding a train.” Verna said as she looked out the window. “ When I came out here with my late husband……we came with a wagon train of Mormons. Very nice people who were going west to a place called Paradise Valley.”

“ What made you stay in Cheyenne.” Teresa asked.

“I don’t really know. When we left St Louis, we had intended on going to the ocean, but there was something about Cheyenne that had us stay here. People were starting to go west and we figured Cheyenne as the halfway point so we stayed. We were going to build a store, but my Samuel died not long after he finished our house.” Verna explained. “ When the railroad was finished, I decided to turn it into a boarding house for passengers going east and west.”

“ What did you do before you came out here?”

“ I was a teacher before I married Samuel.” she said. “ For foolish reasons a married woman….or even a widow cannot be permitted to teach school.”

“ I know they were thinking of finding someone to be a school teacher in Spanish Wells before I left.” Teresa said. “ Maybe you could consider teaching?”

“ I’m sure the rules for teaching are the same out west, but I’ll consider it after.” Verna said.

“ It’s a day’s ride on the stage to Morro Coyo.” Teresa said.

“ How far is Lancer from there?” she asked.

“ Ten miles.”

“ You’re nervous about seeing them again aren’t you?” Verna asked.

“ A little I guess.” Teresa responded.

“ Well once they see that sweet little man…..everything will be alright.”

“ When you see Murdoch, make sure Scott is there also. He has a way of keeping Murdoch from losing his temper.”

“ He has a temper?” she asked.

“ A Scottish temper. He came here from Inverness, Scotland, and wasn’t a year off the boat in Boston when he met Scott’s mother, married her, and moved to California.” Teresa explained.

“ I will make sure the young man is present.” Verna said.

Johnny came downstairs a week later to find his father sitting at his desk. He could feel the tension in the air the minute he entered the room. “ Your ignoring me since Val was here tells me you’re upset at my decision.”

Murdoch stood up and walked over to pour a shot. Downing it he walked back over to his desk and sat down. Never once looking at his son or saying anything.

“ So that’s how it’s going to be huh?” Johnny asked as he walked over to the desk. “ I asked you a question old man. You can at least have the courtesy to answer me.”

“ You made your decision just like all the others you’ve made with little to no regard to anyone else that decision might affect.” Murdoch said with anger. “ Just like not having that damn bullet removed from your back. You’re an irresponsible…….”

“ No regard….Let me tell you something Murdoch…….I did what I did for Scott. I don’t give a damn what you think of it. As for the bullet in my back…….It’s my body and not the only bullet I have in me.” Johnny cut in and said as he started to sweat and shake. “ You call the tune for what goes on with this ranch and you can’t stand the fact you have no say in what happens to me.”

“ You ungrateful little ……. Do you think I want to watch you be paralyzed? Do you think it was easy for me to see you be gunned down in my own home?” his father demanded as Scott walked into the house.

“ What the hell is going on in here? I could hear the two of you clear down at the corrals!”

“ Tell him…….Tell him how you let Harlan go free!”

“ You did what?” Scott asked with shock.

“ I had Val let your grandfather go.” Johnny said.

“ Why?” Scott asked.

“ He’s old……and he’s your grandfather. I couldn’t do it Scott….I’m sorry.”

“ He tried to kill you Johnny. Just because he’s my grandfather doesn’t mean you should allow him to get away with that.” Scott said.

“ It’s my decision Scott and it’s final.” Johnny said.

Scott walked over to his brother.. “ I appreciate your reasons brother, really I do. I just want you to make sure it’s what you want?”

“ It is.” Johnny said. “ I think I’ll go lay down.” he said as he looked at his father and still seen the anger in his eyes. “ I just wish…..I’ll see you later Boston.”

“ Are you going to be mad at him forever?” Scott asked after Johnny went upstairs.

“ I don’t want him to be paralyzed.” Murdoch said.

“ Neither do I, but it’s not our decision and we have to respect his.”

“ He told me it’s not the only bullet he has in him.”

“ We know he’s been shot before.” Scott said.

“ He didn’t mean it like that son. I think your brother has other bullets still in his body.” Murdoch said. “ Bullets from being shot before. Bullets he never had removed.”

“ Maybe when you calm down and come to your senses… can talk to him about that. Maybe learn a little about his past that isn’t in a Pinkerton report.” Scott suggested. “ I’m going to go clean up.”

“ Can I ask you something son?” Murdoch asked as he walked into his youngest sons bedroom a couple hours later.

Johnny looked at his father, but didn’t speak.

“ I need your help understanding……Not about Harlan……About you and something you said the other day.” Murdoch said as he walked around the bed and sat down at the small table. “ You said that bullet isn’t the only one in your body. Can you explain that please?”

Johnny could tell by his father’s voice and demeanor he didn’t come to argue. “ I got one in my left shoulder three years ago. I couldn’t get  it out myself, so I left it in there.” he said. “ It only bothers me sometimes when I sleep on hard ground on my left side.”

“ Why didn’t you have a doctor remove it son?”

“  Wasn’t none to be had in Mexico.” Johnny said. “ Listen……I’m sorry you had to see me get shot Murdoch. I want the bullet removed, but Sam said he’s not good enough to do it. You know I don’t trust easy. Sam, you and Scott I trust with my life. I don’t know if I can trust someone I don’t know to remove a bullet that could paralyze me if I don’t have it removed. Murdoch…..I’ve been thinking about this every damn day since Sam told me.”

“ Let me ask you something….and  you have my word it will go no further than this room. Are you afraid to have it done son?”

Johnny looked at his father and let out a big sigh. “ If I said I am, does that make me weak?”

“ Absolutely not son. There is nothing wrong with being afraid. You have no idea how afraid I was that you were going to die. I stood looking at all the blood and broken glass the whole time Sam was working on you. I lost you once……..I thought I had lost you again and it scared the hell out of me.” Murdoch said with a quiver in his voice.

Verna stopped the buggy and looked at the huge house.

“ Can I help you ma’am?” Scott asked.

“ What a grand home.” Verna said. “ Would Mister Lancer be home?”

“ You wish to see my father?”

“ You must be Scott Lancer from Boston?” she asked as Scott helped her down from the buggy.

“ Yes ma’am. Can I ask who is calling?”

“ Oh my I completely forgot my manners. Please tell him Mrs. Verna Davis from Cheyenne is here to speak to him.”

“ Cheyenne…..Does this have to do with Teresa?” Scott asked.

“Is your father available?” she asked.

“ He is. If you would follow me inside I will get him for you.” Scott said.

“ Oh my, what a beautiful home.” Verna said as she walked into the grand room.

“ My father is upstairs. Please….have a seat and I will go get him.” Scott said.

“ Young man, would you please come back down as well?” Verna asked.

“ Yes ma’am.” Scott said before heading upstairs.

“  Sam wrote a doctor back east to see if he could come and do the surgery.” Johnny said. “ He said he would let me know if he could and when.”

“Johnny…..I’m sorry to bother you but there’s someone downstairs to see you sir.” Scott said.

“ Who is it?” Murdoch asked.

“ I believe she said her name was Mrs. Verna Davis.” Scott said.

“ Get some rest son.” Murdoch said as he left the room.

Teresa sat looking out the window of the hotel in Morro Coyo, noticing the town hadn’t changed any in the time she had been gone. Looking down the street she could see Mr. Baldomero sweeping the walkway off in front of his store. Wanting to see the man and his wife, she knew she couldn’t. She couldn’t take the risk of someone seeing her with a baby. Standing up, she walked over to the bed where Paul was and laid down next to him, and drifting off to sleep.


Chapter 10

“ Can I help you?” Murdoch asked.

“ Mister Lancer?” Verna asked.

“ Yes, this is my oldest son Scott. What can I do for you?” he asked.

“ I have come here with another person from Cheyenne, Wyoming.” Verna said.

“ Teresa.” Scott said.

“ Yes. She asked me to come and speak with you.”

“ Where is she?” Murdoch asked.

“ She is waiting at the hotel in Morro Coyo.” Verna said.

“ Did she have the baby?”  Scott asked.

“ She did. You have a grandson. She named him Paul, after her father who was your foreman she said was murdered when she was young.” she explained. “ I don’t know what your other son looks like, but Teresa says Paul looks like his father.”

Scott breathed a sigh of relief hearing Teresa didn’t lose the baby when she was attacked. “ Is she alright?” he asked.

“ She had no trouble delivering the baby. He came quite fast.” Verna said.

“ I was talking about her being attacked?” Scott asked. Forgetting his father didn’t know about it.

“ Attacked?” Murdoch asked.

“ Yes. Teresa was working at the Cheyenne Cattleman’s Club for Doug and Brock Peters. She was seeing Brock when for whatever reasons he attacked Teresa when she was eight months along. That is how I met her. I run a boarding house in Cheyenne. She staggered out of an alley. I got her to the doctor and then had her move into my boarding house so I could take care of her. May I have something to drink?”

“ I’m sorry. Would you like some lemonade or coffee?” Scott asked.

“ Lemonade would be fine young man.” she said. “ I must say, you have a very lovely home here Mister Lancer. Teresa described it to me, but seeing it gives a totally different perspective.”

“Thank you.” Murdoch said as Scott brought a pitcher of lemonade in and poured three glasses.

“ What happened to the man who……?” Scott asked as he handed her a glass.

“ Brock is dead. Marshal Dearborn found him dead in his cell. His brother Doug is believed to have been the one to kill him. He sold his hotel not long after the marshal arrested Brock, and he cleaned out his bank account and has disappeared.” she said.

“ He got what he deserved.” Scott said.

“ Yes he did. What that man did to Teresa was horrible. She’s recovered and opened up to me about you two and Johnny.”

“ What does she want?” Murdoch asked.

“ She wants to meet with Johnny. She told me how his mother took him away from you when he was a baby. She doesn’t want Paul growing up like that, without his father around. She would like him to come to the hotel in Morro Coyo and meet his son.”

“ I’m afraid Johnny can’t do that Mrs. Davis.” Murdoch said.

“ My brother is unable to ride in a wagon or on a horse right now. He has a bullet near his spine and is awaiting a doctor coming to remove it.”

“ Oh dear. I guess I will discuss with Teresa if she wishes to come here with the baby.”

“ Mrs. Davis….I don’t know what all Teresa has told you about her involvement with Johnny before she left. I assure you, she will be safe coming here. I know my son has been worrying about her and if she had the baby. I can have a hand bring the Barouche and pick you and her up in the morning.”

“ That won’t be necessary. I will bring her here when she is ready.” Verna said as she stood up. “ I thank you for your time Mister Lancer, Scott. You young man are everything Teresa said about you. Have a good day.”

“ Thank you ma’am.” Scott said as they walked her out to the buggy.

Johnny came downstairs to find his father and brother sitting at the table to start supper.

“ Sleep well son?”

“ Yeah I did.” Johnny said. “ Who was your visitor?”

“ I want to talk to you about that son.”

Johnny got a weird feeling in his stomach suddenly.

“ The lady who came here, a Verna Davis from Cheyenne.”

“ Teresa?” Johnny said.

“ Yes. She’s here with this woman staying in Morro Coyo at the hotel.” Murdoch said.

“ The baby?”

“ Little brother….it would seem you have a son, Teresa named Paul after her father.”

Johnny stood up and walked over to the sideboard, poured a shot of tequila and downed it. “ I have a son?”

“ Yes you do.” Murdoch said.

“ Mrs Davis said he looks like you little brother.”

“ John, why didn’t you tell me she had been attacked?” Murdoch asked.

“ I’m sorry brother. I assumed you had and I asked her how Teresa was after.” Scott said.

“ I didn’t tell you because there was nothing we could do.” Johnny said.

“ Can you stop the buggy?” Teresa asked.

Verna stopped the buggy. “ Is something wrong?”

“ No. I want Paul to see what he has. From here all the way to those mountains way off n the distance, Lancer. The most beautiful place on earth.” Teresa said as she looked down at the house below. “ I didn’t think I would ever see it again.”

“ I must say I was a little taken aback seeing the huge house.” Verna said. “ The furnishings are very nice.”

“ Scott’s mother Catherine did most of the decorating. There’s a rose garden at the side of the house she started with one rose she brought from Boston. It was my favorite place to sit and think.”

“ I look forward to seeing it. I’ve never had much luck growing roses at the boarding house. I think it gets too cold in the winter for them.” Verna said. “ Shall we go on down?”

“ Let’s go let your daddy meet you.” Teresa said before giving Paul a kiss.

“ Settle down son.”

“ I can’t help it Murdoch.”

“ Personally I think he’s nervous.” Scott said.

“ You know, for being a first time grandpa and a first time uncle, you two sure are calm.”

“ That’s because we are older, and wiser little brother. We have learned how to hide our excitement.”

“ Mrs. Davis said Teresa came back here because she didn’t want her son growing up without his father in his life. She didn’t want him having a life like you did.” Murdoch said.

“ That’s what she said. Do you think there is some other reason sir?” Scott asked.

“ Given how she’s been in the past son…..I’m worried about what her reasons are…..and worried she might try and hurt you again.”

“ I don’t know what will happen between me and Teresa, Murdoch. Other than meeting my son for the first time, my main concern is the bullet in my back.”

“ I’m glad to hear that.” Murdoch said. “ Because I want no repeats of what happened in this house before between the two of you.”

“ They’re here.” Scott said as he walked over to the open veranda door.

“ Stay in here John.” Murdoch said as he went outside.

“ Hello Mister Lancer.” Verna said.

“ Mrs. Davis….Teresa, welcome.”

“ Hello Murdoch.” Teresa said.

“ Teresa, here let me help you down.” Murdoch said as he offered his hand.

“ Why don’t you take your grandson and let Scott help us down?”

Johnny watched from the grand room as his father took the baby in his arms. He couldn’t help but wonder what his father felt that first time he held him. “ Get it together Madrid.” he said as he walked over and poured a shot of tequila and downed it.

“ Hello Johnny.” Teresa said. “ I see you’re nervous  about this day as I am.”

“ What makes you………I’m fine.” Johnny said. As he turned to face her. “ You look good.”

“So do you.” she responded.

“ Johnny.” Murdoch said as he walked in with the baby. “ Teresa, my grandson is one handsome boy.”

Teresa walked over and took the baby from him. “ He looks like his father.” she said. “ Paul…..this is your father, Johnny. Johnny this is your son, Paul O’Brian.”

Johnny looked at the small human in Teresa’s arms. Reaching out he took hold of Paul’s tiny hand and felt his small fingers. “ He’s so small.”

“ Actually young man, your son is a big baby.” Verna said.

“ And he eats like his father does too.” Teresa added. “ Would you like to hold him?”

“ I….I don’t know.” Johnny said.

“ I was the same way with you my first time son.” Murdoch said. “ Hold your son.”

“ Hold your right arm like I am.” Teresa said as she placed the baby in his arms.

Johnny looked down at his son. Turning he walked over and sat down on the couch. “ Hey little man. I’ve been waiting a long time to see you.”

“  Can you stay?” Murdoch asked.

“ We brought our luggage.” Teresa said as she walked over and sat down next to Johnny. “ I want you all to be in his life.”

“ Scott, let’s get their luggage and take it up to a guest room.” Murdoch said.

Teresa watched them walk out. “ We have some talking to do later. When we can be alone I need to explain to you why I left. I owe you that and more.”

“ It doesn’t matter anymore Teresa.” Johnny said. “ You told me that what happened in the past doesn’t matter. Remember?”

“ I do, but not this time Johnny. I need to talk to you about what happened between us. About my being so horrible to you. Using you. Lying to you.” Teresa said as she watched Murdoch, Scott and Verna walk inside.

“ Teresa, why don’t I take the baby and put him down for a nap so you can visit?” Verna asked.

“ I should feed him first.” Teresa said as she stood up and took the baby from Johnny.

“ Sam, what are you doing here?” Murdoch asked.

“ I need to speak to Johnny. Is he awake?” Sam asked as he climbed down from his buggy.

“ He’s inside with Teresa and the baby.”

Sam stopped and looked at him. “ She came back?”

“ She’s been here two weeks.” Murdoch said.

“ Two weeks?”

“ She didn’t want anyone knowing she was here Sam.” Murdoch said as they walked inside.

“ Sam.” Teresa said.

“ Hello Teresa. Well would you look at that.” Sam said.

“ Want to meet my son Sam?”

“ Well of course I do young man.” Sam said as he walked over to look at the baby.

“ Congratulations young lady. Uh John, I need to speak to you in private.” Sam said.

“ If it’s about my surgery, go ahead and talk.” Johnny said.

“ Alright. I found a doctor in Baltimore.  His name is M. Whipple.” Sam explained. “ He’ll be here in a week.”

“ A week? ” Johnny said.

“ May I? Yes, a week.” Sam said as he took the baby.

Johnny handed the baby to Sam. Running his right hand thru his hair, he glanced at Murdoch.

“ Excuse me. I need some air.”

“ So…..was this little man born as fast as his father?”

“ Twelve hours. He was a little slow at first, but then decided he was coming out.” Teresa said. “ I don’t think I could have got thru it without Verna being with me.”

“ Sam, this is Mrs. Verna Davis.” Murdoch said.

“ Pleasure to meet you.” Sam said.

“ I think I will go see how Johnny is doing.” Teresa said.

“ Perhaps one of them should go?” Verna suggested.

“ No, I need to talk to Johnny alone Verna. I need to tell him.” Teresa said before walking outside.

“ Tell him what?” Murdoch asked.

“ That is between them Mister Lancer.” Verna said.

Johnny rubbed Barranca’s face. “ This damn bulletin my back is causing me nothing but grief amigo. I guess the doctor will be herein a week from Chicago to remove it.” Johnny said.

“ At least you don’t have to wait long.” Teresa said as she walked into the barn.

“ Yeah. I guess a part of me didn’t think Sam would find someone.” Johnny said.

“ I need to talk to you Johnny, about us, and what happened.”

“ I told you it doesn’t matter anymore Teresa. It’s in the past.”

“ Please…I have to. We haven’t had any time alone to talk.” she said. “ I did fall in love with you….but I ended up using you, lying to you, and even trying to kill you. You did everything right when courting me. I’m the one who did the wrong. That night in the barn, when I attacked you……I wasn’t angry with you…..I was angry at myself. I was angry because I realized I had lost you and it was my fault. I lied to you to get you to make love to me telling you lies. Telling you we were married and Murdoch forbid us being together. I wanted to give you a child Johnny, really I did, but I went about it the wrong way. You did everything you could to respect me, but I lied to you to get what I wanted. I know I don’t deserve it, but  I hope you can forgive me for all the hurt I’ve caused you?”

“ It wasn’t easy for me to keep refusing you. The hardest time was when we went swimming. Seeing you standing in front of me totally naked….I want to take you right then….but I made a promise and I’m a man of my word.” Johnny said. “ I wish you hadn’t lied to me when I did make love to you. I was rough with you and your first time should have been slow.”

“ You weren’t rough. It only hurt a little. What Brock did to me hurt.” she said as tears began to creep down her cheeks. “ I thought he was a nice guy….I mean he was at first. We spent a day and night making love. He had to be at work at eight. I woke up around midnight and went down to see him. We made love again in the office where a cot was kept. After….he told me his brother was firing me and I had till the end of the week to find a place to live and work. I got angry and said he used me just like you did just to get what he wanted. I know you didn’t, but I told him you raped me. I don’t know why I did…..and I have no excuse for doing it. He got angry….asked me if you did….and I told him no you didn’t rape me. He attacked me, beat me and raped me several times. When I woke up, I was in the alley. I got up and walked to the street. That’s where I met Verna. She took me to the doctor and made me live at her boarding house. She’s been a very good friend to me. It’s because of her I came here. I told her about you. I told her the truth about everything that happened between us. Doing that made me realize what a  selfish fool I have been. I realized I was just like your mother. I took your son away from you and realized I didn’t want to be like her. I want you to be in your sons life. I want him to grow up here with his father, uncle and grandfather.”

Johnny sighed as he walked over to her and gently wiped her tears away with his thumb. “ I wanted to go to Cheyenne and kill that bastard for what he did to you.”

“ How did……. Murdoch hired a Pinkerton to find me didn’t he?”

“ He did.” Johnny said.

“ How did he know where I went?”

“ It seems you were real interested in what Mrs. Conway said about Cheyenne from when she was there.” he said.

“ I was, but actually that’s as far as I could get with the money I had.”

Johnny raised her chin up to look in her eyes. “ I don’t want you to ever leave here again.”

“ I don’t know if I can stay here….but I promise you…..I will not take your son away from you ever again.” Teresa said.

“ What if I don’t want you to leave here?” he asked.

Teresa looked away from him. “ Verna made me realize something when I was talking to her about you. She made me realize I still love you.”

Johnny made her look at him again before slowly lowering his lips to hers. “ I still love you too.” he said before gently kissing her. “ When I came back and learned you had left I was angry but more than angry….I was hurt.”

“ So where does that leave us?” she asked.

“ I don’t know yet. We better get back inside before someone comes looking for us.” Johnny said.

Teresa walked out to the rose garden. She knew Johnny was there. Every afternoon since Sam told him the doctor would be arriving in a week he spent sitting in the garden.

“Johnny….you okay?” Teresa asked.

“ Will you marry me?” Johnny asked as he stood up and faced her. “ I want us both in our sons life, and I want us to be married.”

Teresa couldn’t stop the tears from escaping as she smiled at him. “ Yes.”

Johnny walked over to her. “ I can have Scott have the padre come out and marry us tomorrow if that’s alright?”

“ Tomorrow?” she asked.

“ I want to spend at least one night with you before my surgery.” Johnny said. “ Our son needs a little brother or sister.”

Teresa put her arms around his neck. “ I guess we better go tell them.” Teresa said.

“ That was a very good meal tonight Mrs. Davis.” Scott said.

“ Why thank you young man. My boarders seemed to like my cooking.” Verna responded.

“Scott, I need you to ride into town and bring the padre out here tomorrow.” Johnny said.

“ Okay, can I ask why?”

“ I asked Teresa to marry me this afternoon and she said yes.” Johnny said. “ We want to get married tomorrow.”

“ Married?” Murdoch said.

“ Yes married. We have a son together. It’s only right that we get married.”  Johnny responded.

“ I want you to be sure about this son. After all………”

“ After all we have been thru. That’s all in the past Murdoch. The only thing that matters now is the future, and that future I want with Teresa and our son.” Johnny cut in and said. “ What happened between us in the past is just that, in the past. Starting tomorrow all that will matter is our future together.”

“ What time should I tell the padre to be here?” Scott asked.

“ That’s up to Teresa.” Johnny asked.

“ Is four alright?” she asked.

“ Four it is. I’ll leave after breakfast.” Scott said.

“  There’s not much time to prepare.” Verna said.

“ I just want the people in this room at the wedding.” Teresa said. “ Murdoch, would you give me away?”

“ I would love too.” Murdoch said as he gave her a hug.

“ Would you be my best man?” Johnny asked.

“ I would be honored little brother.” Scott said.

“  Doctor Jenkins I presume?”

“ Yes. Can I help you ma’am?”

“ I’m Doctor Whipple. I was told you had someone who needed a bullet removed from their back.”

“ Oh dear. I was expecting a Doctor M. Whipple.” Sam said.

“ That’s me.  Doctor Martha Whipple.” she responded. “ Is there a problem?”

“ No….I had heard there were female physicians. I just never…….My patient may not be happy.”

“ I assure you Doctor Jenkins, I am the best there is to remove the bullet.” she said firmly.

“ Are you this way all the time?” Sam asked.

“ What way is that?”

“ So defensive. Quite frankly I have never met anyone as rude as you are being.”

“ You are right doctor. I’m sorry.” she said. “ Please, forgive me. It’s just that I have….you be surprised how many people I have met who refuse my service because I am a woman.”

“ You may run into that very thing with our patient.”

“ Well why don’t you tell me about our patient on the way to see him.” she suggested.

“ It’s late in the day and a long ride to Lancer.” Sam said.

“ Lancer?” she asked as she picked up her valise.

“  It’s a ranch. Our patient lives there.” Sam explained. “ In fact, he is getting married this afternoon.”

“ Married. Well we sure can’t interrupt the man’s wedding.” she said. “ Is there a suitable hotel in town I could stay at?”

“ There is just down the street.” Sam said.

“ Congratulations brother.” Scott said as he shook his brothers hand.

“ Thanks. Now it’s your turn.” Johnny said as he playfully slapped his brothers shoulder.

“ Did you think this would happen when you came back here?” Verna asked.

“ No. It wasn’t my intention or why I came back here, but I am happy.” Teresa said.

“ You are a beautiful bride. Today reminds me of when I married my Samuel back in St Louis. The black hickory were in bloom along the river and so beautiful.”

“ Scott’s been to St Louis.” Teresa said. “ He knows the mayor.”

“ You have never been anywhere until you left here have you?” Verna asked.

“ I’ve been to San Francisco and Sacramento with Murdoch.”

“ Teresa, I’ve been meaning to tell you there are baby things in the attic that belonged to Johnny. Maybe the two of you would like to go up and look?” Murdoch suggested.

“ You still have stuff from when I was a baby?” Johnny asked.

“ Yes I do. I believe your bassinet is up there.” Murdoch said.

“ I’d like that.” Teresa said.

“ I think I’m going to go change this little man and put him to bed for the night.” Verna said.

“ I can get him.” Teresa said.

“ Nonsense. It’s your wedding night. I’ll take care of him for you tonight.” she said.

“ Thank you.” Johnny said as he walked over and gave his son a kiss on the cheek. “ See you in the morning little man.”

“ John, why don’t you and Teresa take the big bedroom on the backside downstairs?” Murdoch asked. “ It’s bigger than either room you two have now, and will give plenty of room for things for the baby.”

“ Thanks Murdoch.” Johnny said.

“ When is Mrs. Davis going back to Cheyenne?” Murdoch asked.

“ I don’t know. We talked about her being a school teacher. She was back in St. Louis. They fired her when they found out she was married.” Teresa said.

“ We could use a school teacher here in Spanish Wells.” Scott said. “ I don’t think there are rules preventing a widow from being a school teacher.”

“ I’ll can find out if she can.” Murdoch suggested.

“ It sure is a wild country out here.” Mrs. Whipple said.

“ There are more and more people coming west. We just got a sheriff not long ago for Spanish Wells.” Sam said.

“ So is there anything I should know about our patient?” she asked.

“ Johnny has had a rough life. His body has scars from the abuse he endured as a child growing up in Mexico.”

“ I read a book about a man down along the Texas and Arizona border. A ruthless killer who has killed countless men.” she said. “ I believe it’s called, The Guns of Johnny Madrid.”

Sam had heard there were dime novels about Johnny and wondered if he knew.

“ Mrs. Whipple….out here it’s best to not believe everything you hear or read. Dime novels fabricate the truth purely to make money.” Sam said.

“ You sound like you know or have met this Johnny Madrid.”

“ Our patient has a hatred for medicine. He’s primarily done all the doctoring on his body himself. He has two bullets in him. The one in his back that you are here to remove, the other one in his left shoulder just below the clavicle has been in there three years.” Sam explained. “ He will refuse laudanum for pain so getting him under for the surgery will be a challenge.”

“ If he dislikes laudanum it could be he was addicted to it at some time.” she suggested. “ It is alcohol and opium, both of which can be addictive.”

“ Johnny doesn’t share his past. He keeps it to himself. He’s a remarkable young man who came home to change his life for the better.” Sam said.

Johnny removed his boots then stood up to remove his clothes as he stood watching Teresa undress. For the first time in two years he could have her and not have to worry about being caught. Being in the downstairs bedroom at the back of the house gave them more privacy without having to be quiet. Removing his shirt, he undid his pants and pushed them down to his ankles to step out of as Teresa removed the last of her undergarment. Walking over to her standing there totally naked, he put a hand on each side of her face, running his thumbs over the corners of her lips.

“ I don’t want to do anything to bring back bad memories, frighten or hurt you.” he said softly. He knew it would be her first time being intimate since being viciously attacked and raped four months ago. “ At any time you want me to stop…..I will.”

Teresa wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed herself into him. “ I’ll be alright.” she said.

Johnny lowered his lips to hers, ran his tongue over her lips as his hands started running over her body. His right hand going between her legs  he slowly started massaging her the way he remembered she liked him doing before. Sliding his tongue inside her mouth as he slid two fingers inside her, moaning when he felt her take him in her hand. Picking her up he watched as she guided him to her. Bringing her down slowly as he walked over to the bed, turned around and dropped to the mattress on his back allowing her to be the one in control.

“  Good morning Mister Lancer. I made a fresh pot of coffee and was going to start breakfast.” Verna said.

“ You don’t have to do that Mrs. Davis.” he said.

“ Call me Verna please.” she said as she poured two a cups of coffee and sat down.

“ Teresa said you were a school teacher back in St. Louis?” he asked.

“ Fifteen years ago since I met my late husband Samuel in St. Louis when I was a teacher. He came to fix a leak in the roof for me. They let me go saying a married woman could not be a school teacher.” Verna said. “ I loved teaching. Samuel decided we should go west. We joined up with a Mormon wagon train and came west. When we got to Cheyenne, Samuel seen a way for us t prosper. He built a huge house and……a year after it was finished he passed away in his sleep. Doctor Brooks said he had a heart attack. I went ahead with our dream of running a boarding house.”

“ If you could be a teacher again…..would you?” Murdoch asked.

“  Oh Mister Lancer, I would love to teach again.” Verna said. “ Teresa said a teacher was needed here.”

“ We do need a teacher in Spanish Wells.” he said. “ Would you be interested if I could get you the job?”

“  I would have to sell my boarding house back in Cheyenne, and find a place to live here.” she said.

“ I would be happy to help you.” Murdoch said as Scott came into the kitchen.

“ Good morning Scott.” Verna said.

“ Good morning.” Scott said as he sat down.

“ Son….I was just talking to Verna about becoming a school teacher in Spanish Wells.”

“  I think she would be a great teacher.” Scott said. “ Especially if she teaches as good as she cooks.”

Johnny woke up flat on his back and opened his eyes. “ I could get used to waking up like this.” he said.

Teresa looked down and smiled at him as she straddle his waist. “ You said last night our son needs a little brother or sister. The only way I can get…..”

Johnny smiled as he rolled her over onto her back. “ I can do that.” he said as he started making love to her.

“ I am starved and we have a son we need to see.” Teresa said an hour later as she put a dress on.

Johnny sat up in bed and started rubbing his right hand and wrist.

“ Are you going to get dressed?” Teresa asked.

“ What….actually I think I’m going to get a couple more hours sleep.” Johnny said as he laid down and covered up.

Teresa walked over and sat down on the side of the bed. “ Are you alright?”

“ I’m just tired from making love to my beautiful bride all night.” he said.

Teresa leaned down and gave him a kiss. “ Okay, I will see you in a few hours.”

“ Why you stopping?” Doctor Whipple asked.

“ I wanted you to see this.” Sam said. “ From here all the way to those mountains in the distance is Lancer. One hundred thousand acres with ten thousand head of cattle and more wild mustangs than a man could break in a lifetime.”

“ That’s too much land for one man to own.” she said with disgust in her voice.  “ Only difference from this and a plantation is slavery was abolished.”

“ Every man who works for Murdoch Lancer is treated like family. He has over a hundred men, some with families who work for him.” Sam said. “ I suggest you lose your bad feelings about him before we get down there. Especially with Johnny.”

“ I assure you Doctor Jenkins there is nothing wrong with my bedside manners with my patients.” she said as Sam started the buggy down the hill.

“ You sure he’s there?” Virgil asked.

“ He’s there. He’s been there a couple years.” Moses said. “ Living on a ranch outside a town called Morro Coyo.”

“ A ranch….Tell me about this ranch he’s been hiding on.” George demanded.

“ It’s the biggest ranch in the San Joaquin. One hundred thousand acres. He’s a third owner of it with his brother and father. They have roughly one hundred and fifty vaqueros working for them six days a week. Saturday nights they go to town to drink, gamble and whore.” Virgil explained.

“ There’s something else……..He’s going by Lancer now.”  Moses added.

“ Lancer huh, makes no matter.” George said. “ We’ll leave when finished here.”

“ Houston is a long way from Morro Coyo. It’ll take us two months to get there.” Virgil said.


Chapter 11

“ Good morning.” Murdoch said.

“ Good morning. You spoiling your grandson?” Teresa asked.

“ I am. Johnny awake?”

“ He was, but went back to sleep.” she said as she poured a cup of coffee. “ I think his right hand is going numb. He was rubbing it. I asked him if he was alright and he said he was, but he was rubbing his wrist and hand. I don’t think he knew I seen him doing it from my mirror.”

“  Have you noticed any other problems?” Murdoch asked.

“ No.” she said as she sat down. “ Murdoch…..I’m scared. What if he still ends up paralyzed  on his right side?”

“ I keep praying that doesn’t happen, but if it does, all we can do is help him cope with it.” he said. “ I talked to Verna this morning about being the school teacher for Spanish Wells.”

“ Do you think she will?” Teresa asked.

“ I don’t know. I believe I can get her the job.”  Murdoch said.

“ Where is she?”

“ I believe sitting out in the rose garden.”

“ Murdoch, wasn’t Sam bringing the doctor out today?” she asked as she walked over and took Paul. “ There maybe a problem, Sam is here, but he has a woman with him.”

“  A woman?” Murdoch asked as he stood up and walked to the veranda door.

“ Hello Murdoch.” Sam said as he climbed down. “ Congratulations Mrs. Lancer. How’s that baby?”

“ Thank you. He’s growing and eating like his father.” Teresa said.

“ Murdoch, this is Doctor Martha Whipple, the surgeon who will be removing the bullet from Johnny’s back.” Sam explained.

“ You’re…..Uh Sam…….I don’t….”

“ I know Murdoch.” Sam cut in. “ I already told her how Johnny may react to this.”

“ I mean no disrespect ma’am, but I will not permit a woman to cut open my son.”

“ Murdoch, it’s not your say.” Teresa said. “ She came all this way to keep Johnny from being paralyzed…..If he’s not already.”

Sam looked at her. “ What happened?”

“ I think he’s losing feeling in his right hand. He was rubbing it this morning.” she said. “ I asked him if he was alright.”

“ Let me guess,  he said he’s fine?” Sam asked. “ Where is he now?”

“ Sleeping.” Teresa said.

“ Go wake him up and have him come into the living room.” Sam said. “ Don’t tell him we are here.”

Johnny walked into the grand room to find his father, brother, Sam and a woman he didn’t know waiting for him. Giving Teresa a look that clearly said he was not happy she didn’t tell him Sam was there.

“ Sit down son.”

“ Who are you?” Johnny asked.

“ John, this is Doctor Whipple.” Sam said. “ She’s the surgeon going to remove the bullet from you.”

“ A woman?” he asked.

“ Yes…….Mister Lancer, I assure you, I am qualified to do this surgery.” she said.

“ Could we have some time alone with John?” Sam asked.

“ Sam…….”

“ Murdoch, we need to speak to John alone.” Sam cut in and said. “ Before you start complaining, it’s the same as with a lawyer. Doctor, patient confidentiality. John is entitled to privacy.”

“ Even I have to leave?” Teresa asked.

“Yes.” Doctor Whipple said. “ If John wishes to share with you what we talk about, that’s his privilege.”

“ Come on Teresa.” Scott said.

“ John, Doctor Jenkins tells me you have had bullets removed before…..and removed bullets yourself.” she said. “ That he will remove another bullet in you after I remove the one in your back.”

“ Yeah.” Johnny said.

“ You told me the one in your left shoulder bothers you sometimes when you sleep on that side on the ground.” Sam said.

“ There are a lot of nerves affected by the surgery. Your wife said you were having problems with your right hand this morning. The numbness is from pressure the bullet is inflicting on those nerves. The longer you leave the bullet in your back, the worse it will get until you are totally paralyzed on your right side.”

“ Even my leg?” Johnny asked.

“ It has happened. I’m not going to lie to you. It is a very long, very dangerous surgery John.” Doctor Whipple explained.

“ John…there’s one crucial thing we need to discuss. I know how you feel about medicine. I will have to insert a needle in your arm and administer morphine.”

“ Actually doctor, we have found that chloroform is less stressful on the patient and last longer, and there will be no need to use a needle.”

Doctor Whipple cut in and explained. “ I will place a cloth over your mouth and put a few drops on it for you to inhale. It will put you to sleep.”

“ What about addiction?” Johnny asked.

“ No, there have been  no cases of a patient becoming addicted to chloroform. Laudanum and morphine yes, but that is primarily because of the opium content.” she said. “ You’ve had an addiction before with laudanum haven’t you?”

Johnny looked at her, then Sam before standing up and walking over to look out the window. “ I don’t want them to ever know.”

“ John, you know I will never repeat what is said between us. I say that not because you are my patient. I say that because I value your trust….and friendship.” Sam said.

“So when we doing this?”

“ I would like to start in the morning. I will need a table to operate on and plenty of sterile sheets, bandages and hot water.”

“ You will have everything you need in the kitchen.” Sam said.

“ I’ll have two rooms made up for you to stay in.” Johnny said.

“ I would like to see the kitchen where we will be operating on him.” she said.

“ I’ll show her John if you want to go have them come back inside.” Sam said.

“ I need you to come inside.” Johnny said.

“ Why don’t I take Paul to my room while you talk to the doctors.” Verna suggested.

“Thank you Verna.” Teresa said as she handed Paul to her.

“ Hey little man.” Johnny said before kissing his sons forehead.

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

“ I’m fine.” Johnny said before heading back inside.

Murdoch, Scott and Teresa followed Johnny back inside.

“ Okay, the kitchen will work,  but it is going to need a thorough scrubbing. It must be as sterile as possible for the operation.” Doctor Whipple said. “ After everything is scrubbed clean, I want it covered with white sheets. Now Sam says you are prone to fevers. Is there an ice house close by?”

“ There’s an ice house in Green River, but I have ice in my root cellar for our meat.” Murdoch said. “ I have it brought in every month.”

“ They’ll be staying the night.” Johnny said.

“ I’ll get two rooms set up for you.” Teresa said.

“ Scott, would you be so kind as to help me bring the things in I have in my buggy?” Sam asked.

“  If you don’t mind, I’m going to get something to eat.” Johnny said before heading to the kitchen.

“ So when we get there, how we going to take him?” Virgil asked.

“ I’ve been thinking on that.” George said.

“  There’s a hundred and fifty vaqueros working at that ranch. Some of them are bound to be good shots.” Moses said. “ It’s just the three of us.”

“ It won’t be just the three of us when we get there.” George said.

“ Well unless you can do one of them there magic tricks I heard tell a magician can do…..I don’t see anyone but us three.”  Moses said.

“ We’ll have a few more men.” George responded. “ Men who won’t ask questions, and will do what they’re told.”

“ Maybe one of us can get hired there. It would give us a layout of the place, and the best time to nab him.” Virgil suggested.

“ I want both of you to try and get hired.” George said. “ He’ll recognize me.”

“ You want us to ride in together, or separate?” Moses asked.

“ Together. If they ask what experience you have. Tell them you just worked at our last job.” George responded.

“ Kings ranch…..That’ll work. If this Lancer ranch is as big as they say, surely they’ve heard of King’s ranch.” Virgil said.

“ Okay John, would you lay down on the table for us.” Sam asked.

“ Scott, would you stay with me thru this?” Johnny asked as he got on the table and laid down.

“ I’m right here little brother. I won’t leave you.” Scott said.

“ You will be asleep John.” Ella said. “ Your brother…….”

“ Your brother will be right here with you thru the whole procedure John.” Sam cut in and said firmly.

“  Can I speak to you a moment doctor Jenkins?”

Johnny waited until Sam left the kitchen. “ Hey Scott, promise me that if something happens you’ll help raise my son.”

“ I would be honored but nothing is going to happen to you brother.” Scott said.

“ I’m gonna be bed ridden for a least a month.” Johnny said. “ Maybe me and you could do some talking?”

Scott knew his brother didn’t like talking about his past. Hearing him offer brought a smile to his face, and an uneasy feeling to his stomach as he thought about his past. “ I’d like that brother.”

“ Would you please explain to me why his brother needs to be in there with us while we cut him open?” she demanded.

“ You obviously didn’t see the fear in John’s face when he got on that table?” Sam asked. “ I know that boy in there….he is scared to death about what is about to happen to him….So when you go back in there…..I suggest you improve your bedside manner and talk to him.”

“ It is not my job to play Psychologist with my patients Doctor Jenkins.” Martha said. “ However…..I am willing to do whatever I can to make him feel more comfortable.”

“ Good….now lets go help our patient.” Sam said before heading back into the kitchen.

Martha walked into the kitchen and smiled at Scott. “ John….I owe you an apology for my rudeness. Do you have any questions you want to ask?”

“ No…..Let ‘er buck.” Johnny responded.

“ Okay, I’m going to place this over your mouth and then put a couple drops of chloroform on it. Just try and stay relaxed and breath normal. All it will do is put you to sleep.” she said.

Johnny reached out for his brothers hand and kept his eyes focused on him as he smelled the chloroform, and his eyes started getting sleepy.

“ I’m here brother. Don’t fight it. Just go to sleep.” Scott said.

“ He took it better than I thought he would.” Sam said. “ Let’s get him rolled over and get that bullet out.”

“  Why haven’t we heard anything Murdoch?” Teresa asked. “ It’s been six hours.”

“ One of them will come out when they can and talk to us.” Murdoch said.

“ I know. It’s just…..It’s never taken this long before.” Teresa said.

“ This is a serious operation sweetheart. I just hope that doctor Whipple is as good as she says she is.”

“ She is.” Scott said.

“ Is Johnny okay?” Teresa asked.

“ He’s still asleep. They just finished up removing the bullet from his back.” Scott said. “ Sam is going to start removing the bullet from his shoulder as soon as Doctor Whipple is finished stitching Johnny’s back up.”

“ Has she said anything about……..” Murdoch started to ask.

“ No……..I need to get back in there. I made a promise to my brother I would stay with him.” Scott said before heading back to the kitchen.

Murdoch looked at Teresa standing there crying. Walking over to her, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him for a hug. “ You know, we’re going to have our hands full keeping him in bed so he can heal.”

“ I’ll tie him to the bed if I have to.” she said.

“  How long has that bullet been in his shoulder?” Martha asked.

“ Three years is what he told me.” Sam said.

“ Three years. That means he was shot before he was captured in Mexico and put in Puerto Peñasco prison.” Scott said.

“ He was in a Mexican prison…..why?” Doctor Whipple asked.

“ Because Johnny Madrid isn’t liked very well by the Mexican army ma’am.” Scott said.

“ Madrid…..Your brother is Johnny Madrid?” she asked.

“ He was.” Scott said.

“ She didn’t know Scott.” Sam said. “ I didn’t tell her who he was in his past.”

“ That’s why you were so defensive about Madrid when I said what I did?” she asked.

“ Yes……I delivered this boy in this house. Because of his mother, he never got a chance to grow up here. You seen the scars on his upper body from being whipped and abused.” Sam said.

“ When the Pinkerton got my bother out of that prison, he had been whipped severely……and then had brine poured on his back.” Scott said. “My brother is a good decent person Doctor Whipple.”

“ I’m ashamed to say on my way here I read a book called The Guns of Johnny Madrid, and it gave me a bad impression of your brother.” she said.

“ I’m finished here. We’ll need help moving him to his bedroom.” Sam said.

“ I’ll get a couple hands to help.” Scott said.

“ He’s going to be alright Scott.” Sam said. “ Let’s go tell Murdoch and Teresa.”

“ When will you wake him up?” Murdoch asked.

“ I’m not going to wake him up. His body needs to heal. He has a better chance of recovering without complications so I’m going to let him sleep. The chloroform will wear off in a few hours.” Doctor Whipple explained.

“ Then he’ll wake up?” Teresa asked.

“ He could, but it’s most likely he will remain asleep. His body knows it needs to heal, and it knows sleep is the best thing for him to heal. He could remain asleep for a day, or it could be a couple days.” she responded. “ I’m going to keep a close eye on him for any signs of an infection or fever. I want him to remain on his right side so we can tend to both wounds without having to move him and risk tearing his stitches.”

“ How long will he have to stay on his right side?” Scott asked.

“ A week and then I’ll let him lay on his back.” Martha said.

“ Excuse me Mister Lancer.” Verna said. “ I Have the kitchen cleaned up and have some food prepared.”

“ Thank you Mrs. Davis.” Murdoch said.

“ I want someone with him at all times until he wakes up.”

“ We should be there in a week.” George said.

“ What if we don’t get hired?” Virgil asked.

George tossed his coffee and stood up. “ Then we’ll figure out another way of taking him. I have to take a piss.” he said before walking off into the darkness.

“ Let me ask you something Virgil.” Moses said softly. “ Why we doing this? This Lancer has done nothing to us. I mean….it’s not like us ta go looking for trouble with the law, and if we do this, that’s what we will have.”

“ I know, but if we cross him, he’ll kill us for sure.” Virgil said. “ Just keep your mouth shut….and do what he says.”

“ Let’s get some sleep. I want to leave at dawn.” George said as he sat down and removed his boots.

“ Who are these other men, and how many ?” Virgil asked.

“ Floyd, Rufus, Mack and Clay will meet us in Morro Coyo.” George said.

“ I know Mack and Clay. We worked a job together outside San Diego.” Virgil said. “ Never heard of Floyd or Rufus.”

“  John, your healing up very good.” Doctor Whipple said. “ I don’t ant you riding a horse for at least a month.”

“ A month…….when can I get out of this bed?” Johnny asked.

“ Doctor Jenkins told me how you don’t like being tied down, and will pretty much do what you want.” she said. “ I strongly suggest you don’t this time John. That was a serious surgery I did on you young man. I’ll let you sit up in a couple days.”

“ I don’t think I thanked you for what you’ve done ma’am.” Johnny said.

“ You’re welcome.” she said as she sat down next to him. “ John….there is something I need to tell you…..Something I’m afraid I did coming here….I need to tell you and apologize to you.”

“ You don’t have to tell me…..I already know.” Johnny said. “ Like most people who don’t know me, they hear the name Johnny Madrid and they think cold-blooded killer. I’ve had so many people think that about me…..I just ignore it.”

“ I wasn’t brought up that way……..And I shouldn’t be….not in my profession.” she said. “ I’m afraid that on the train ride here…..I acquired a book called The Guns of Johnny Madrid. I was one of those people. When I learned from your brother about your past…..and who you are……or were….at first I was angry I wasn’t told……but then I realized….thanks to Doctor Jenkins, I don’t have the right to pass judgment on my patient. Regardless of what they have done…..I became a doctor to save lives. The short time I’ve been out here, I can see why men wear guns for protection and to survive. I’ve seen your horrible scars from the abuse you have been given, I’m sorry.”

“ I don’t trust easy. I told Sam I wasn’t happy having someone else cut me open…..Then you show up and…’re a woman doctor.” Johnny said. “ You’re good doc. Thank you.”

“ You’re welcome, but it’s I who should be thanking you for reminding me why I became a doctor.” she said.

“ You have no idea how good it is to see you sitting up finally little brother.” Scott said as he walked into the room with a tray of food.

“  After being flat on my back for two weeks it feels good sitting up.” Johnny said. “ That woman doctor or Teresa say I can eat that?”

“ Murdoch took Mrs. Davis, Teresa and the baby into town so you are stuck with me.” Scott said as he set the tray down. “ As for Doctor Whipple, she left this morning with Sam to go back home.”

“ I was wondering why I hadn’t seen her today.” Johnny said. “Woman means well, but she can get on your nerves.”

“ I think it’s safe to say we have all gotten on your nerves lately little brother.” Scott said.

“ How’d you end up in Libby prison?” Johnny asked.

“ We were in Cedar Creek. We had learned the day before of confederate forces coming there to take the courthouse the day before. We set up and waited. The next day we fought. It was October 19, 1864. The fighting took place in the Shenandoah Valley, near Cedar Creek courthouse. During the morning, Lieutenant General Jubal Early appeared to have a victory for his Confederate army, as he captured over 1,000 prisoners and over 20 artillery pieces while forcing 7 enemy infantry divisions to fall back. The Union army, led by Major General Philip Sheridan, rallied in late afternoon and drove away Early’s men. In addition to recapturing all of their own artillery seized in the morning, Sheridan’s forces captured most of Early’s artillery and wagons.” Scott explained. “ In heavy fog, Early attacked before dawn and completely surprised many of us who were still sleeping. His smaller army attacked segments of our army from multiple sides, giving him temporary numerical advantages in addition to the element of surprise. At about 10:00 am, Early paused his attack to reorganize his forces. I was wounded in the surprise attack and captured.”

“ So you were thrown in prison with a bullet in you?” Johnny asked softly.

“  I received medical treatment on the way to the prison.” Scott said. “ Being a lieutenant also got me treatment I didn’t care for. They tried to get information from me about General Sheridan and where he was heading.”

“ Let me ask you this Boston?” Johnny said. “ You’re a Harvard educated graduate with money, nice fancy clothes, and a big house to live in………what in the hell made you give all that up and join the Union Army?”

Scott knew his brother wasn’t being sarcastic reminding him of what he had that Johnny didn’t. “ You fought in Mexico for freedom. I did the same. I seen first-hand how slaves were treated on ships that came into Boston Harbor. I’ve seen them whipped, branded and worse by their owners.” Scott said. “ No man has a right to say he owns another man. I joined the army to abolish slavery.

“ If you look at it, me and you are slaves to Murdoch and this ranch.” Johnny said. “ The only difference is we’re paid a dollar a day and not whipped.”

“ In a sense we are I guess.” Scott said. “ What was it like inside Puerto Peñasco prison?” Scott asked.

“ Like  being in hell.” Johnny said. “ The Mexican Army don’t much care how they treat prisoners, especially ones like me. They caught me because I got foolish. I rode right into their trap. I could have gotten away, but a lot of innocent people would have been killed. Captain Martinez….he despised me because I gave the people hope and hope is something you’re not allowed to have in Mexico. I was forced to fight other men to the death for his entertainment. The day before Murdoch bought my freedom, I was strung up and whipped.”

“ Why?” Scott asked.

“ He kept trying to break me……..make me scream out or beg him to stop.” Johnny said. “ He couldn’t even with whipping me. He got what he wanted when he threw the bucket of brine on my back…..I screamed out in pain before blackness took me.”

Scott stood up and walked over to look out the window. He knew what Johnny just told him was something nobody else would ever hear him say. “ Nobody will ever know what you just told me little brother.” he said softly as he tried to keep his anger from showing. “ I remember grandfather had a colored man working for him as a servant when I was young, his name was Jacob. Thinking back on it now, he was in my life more than grandfather was.”  Scott said as he walked back over and sat down on the bed. “ Libby prison…..the first time I seen it, this big three story brick building that sits on the James river. Before it was a jail, it was a warehouse  that had been leased by Luther Libby and his son. They operated a ship’s chandlery and grocery business. Word has it from other inmates they had come to Richmond from a town in Wyoming called Sherman. The confederate government started using it as a hospital and prison when the war started. It was reserved for union officers only to be held the next year. Luther Libby was made a captain and put in charge of running it.  He ran it with his son George who had four other men as guards who did whatever they wanted. Those men, Floyd Brown, one named Rufus. I never did learn his last name. Mack Anderson and Clay Jackson, they liked torturing prisoners…..among other things. When we escaped thru the tunnel, I learned a few months later that they were sent to prison for war crimes they committed during the war.”

“ How many of you escaped?”

“ About a hundred and fifty of us made it out alive. Some at the back got crushed when they were pinned up against the sides of the tunnel.” Scott said as his mind flashed back to the screams.

“ The Rurales they’d come into a small village and take whatever they wanted, do whatever they wanted to the women. Beat or kill anyone who tried to stop them.” Johnny said.

“ I want to ask you something. Is having to fight those men to the death what grandfather threatened you with?”

“ I don’t know how he found out about it. That’s not something the Mexican Army wants known.” Johnny responded. “ The wrong people learn about that, it would end Captain Martinez’ career as well as any Rurale who took part in it. President Porfirio Diaz refused to raise their pay from one hundred and thirty pesos a day which is two bits American, making some men not reenlist.”

“ That Captain Martinez needs to be stopped.” Scott said.

“ Yeah he does, but there’s nobody who can prove what he does with the prisoners.” Johnny said.

“ There’s you.”

“ How am I going to prove what he does Scott?  I can’t go back there!” Johnny said.

“ You could write a letter to the Mexican government and tell them. Have them investigate him and what happens in that prison under his command.” he suggested. “ Or better yet, have Murdoch write it to President Diaz directly.”

“ I don’t want him knowing and I can’t risk Martinez knowing where I’m at and coming here…..I’m sorry, but I can’t.” Johnny said.

“ I’ll do it for you. I’ll write the letter using Garrett as my last name.” Scott said. “ I know you don’t……..can you remember the name of any of the men you…….”

“ I was never told.” he said. “ Thanks for lunch………and the talk.”

“ That’s what big brothers are for.”

“ When I was growing up…..I kept wishing for a big brother to protect me, to stop the abuse, but I never had one.” Johnny said. “ I’d give my life for you.”

“ And I would you as well little brother. Maybe when you’re healed up, you can teach me some of that horse knowledge you have when breaking a horse?” Scott asked.

“ That’s simple. You have to establish trust brother.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ Boys, how you doing?” George asked.

“ Doing good. You want to explain your telegram to us?” Floyd Brown asked.

“ Revenge my friend. Sweet revenge.” George responded. “ Bartender, bring us a bottle.”

“ Revenge against who?” Floyd asked.

“ The man responsible for us being in prison for three years.” he said. “ Lieutenant Scott Garrett.”

“ You know where that bastards at?” Rufus asked.

“ I do. He’s been living at a ranch not far from here called Lancer.” Moses said.

“ Who the hell are you?” Mack demanded.

“ Take it easy Mack. This is Virgil Hall and Moses Carter. We’ve been working together the last two years on the King ranch. They’re alright.” George said.

“ Yeah, well I don’t trust anyone I don’t know.” Mack said.

“ So what’s the plan?” Clay Jackson asked.

“ These two are going to ride to Lancer and get hired so they can give us the layout of the place.” George explained.

“ Lancer has one hundred and fifty vaqueros working for him. Some of which are good with a gun.” Virgil said.

“ Garrett is a third owner of Lancer with his younger brother and father.” George said.

“ Why you using these two?” Rufus asked.

“ Because he will remember us.” he said. “ He don’t know these two. I’ll have them ride out there in the morning looking for work.”

“ And if they don’t get hired?” Mack asked.

“ Then we go there and take him at night. I would like to take him when it gives us more time to get away.” George responded.

“ Can I help you?” Murdoch asked.

“ Are you Mister Lancer?” Vigil asked.

“ Yes, I’m a busy man, what can I do for you?”

“ We were told in town you might be hiring for fall round-up and branding?” Virgil asked.

“ I am. What kind of experience do you have?”  he asked.

“ We worked the King ranch in Texas the last two years mending fences, rounding up, branding, roping, breaking horses, clearing streams of undergrowth.” Virgil responded.

“ We’re good hard workers Mister Lancer.” Moses said.

“ What’s your names?” Murdoch asked as Scott walked out of the house.

“ I’m Virgil Hall and this here is Moses Carter.”

“ This is my oldest son Scott. These men heard in town we are hiring for fall round-up son.”

“ We can use a couple more hands with Johnny unable to work for a couple months.” Scott said.

“  I pay a dollar a day with Sunday off. Work starts at seven. You’ll be fed breakfast and supper.” Murdoch said.

“ Sounds good to us.” Virgil said.

“ Frank!” Murdoch called.

“ Yes sir.” Frank said.

“ This is Virgil and Moses, take them out with you to help with the fence at North Mesa. Make sure they sign the book to get paid, and show them where they can put their gear and will be sleeping.” Murdoch ordered. “ Keep this in mind gentlemen…..I expect a fair days work for a fair days pay.”

“ Yes sir. Thank you Mister Lancer.” Moses said.

Scott stood with his father and watched the two leave with Frank.

“ They said they worked at the Kings Ranch in Texas for the last two years.” Murdoch said.

“ Texas…..You think they’re here for Johnny?” Scott asked.

“ I don’t know son. I’m going to go ask your brother if he k knows those two men.”

“  Johnny, I need to speak to you.” Murdoch said.

“ Okay.” Johnny said as he walked over and sat down at the table.

“ I just hired two new men this morning to help with the fall round-up and branding.” Murdoch said.

“ I expect we need the extra help with me unable to work yet.”

“ Johnny, these two men came from Texas. They said they have been working the last two years for King’s ranch.”

“ And you think what…….that they’re here for me?”

“ King’s ranch is a long ways from here.” Murdoch responded. “ I just find it a little odd they ride all the way here to get work.”

“ These two got names?”

“ Virgil Hall and Moses Carter.” he said. “ Do you know them?”

“ Nope, never heard of them before.” Johnny said. “ You still going to San Francisco next week?”

“ Unfortunately yes. I will be gone a week.” he said.

“ Murdoch…..there’s something I need to tell you. Something that happened while I was in prison.” Johnny said softly. “ It’s something that’s not in those reports you have on me.”

“ Son, you don’t have to tell me about anything that happened in that place. I know how brutal a Mexican prison can be.”

“ I need to tell you. I was captured because I rode into a trap. There was this little village I would visit. The Rurales learned this and waited. When I showed up, I could have got away, but they threatened to kill a bunch of people. A couple of months after I was in prison, Captain Martinez grew bored with just beating me and having me work sunup to sundown busting rocks…..He decided to have fights.  The winner of the fights got a bath. At first it was fights with our fist…..but then he upped it. He made us fight to the death with knives.” Johnny said with a quiver to his voice. “ I was able to beat them in a knife fight because I was taught by an Apache I came across. He’d been shot and I saved his life. We became blood brothers and he taught me how to fight with a knife.”

“ Son, you were forced into something you never should have been forced into. What you did you did to survive.” Murdoch said. “ It’s like when a man calls you out, you don’t want to kill them, and you try to get them to walk away, but in the end…it’s you or him.”

“ Every man I’ve killed…….their face haunts me.”

“ We’ll have our chance next week.” Virgil said.

“ Okay, when and where?” George asked.

“ Old man Lancer is going to San Francisco for a week. It’ll just be Garrett, his brother, wife and kid in the house.” Moses said.

“ We don’t touch the woman or baby.” Floyd said firmly. “ Lieutenant Garrett is the one we want.”

“ What about the brother? ” Rufus asked. ” What if he tries to stop us? ”

” He won’t if he wants to keep his wife and kid safe.” Mack said.

“When does Lancer leave?” George asked.

“ Saturday so he can catch the train in Sacramento.”  Moses said.

“ Garrett stays up until eleven usually playing chess with his brother.”

“ Okay Monday night we take him.” Floyd said.

“Wait a minute, once we have him, where we going?” Moses asked.

“ Don’t worry about it.” George said firmly.

“ I’m surprised you let Teresa go with Murdoch.” Scott said.

“ Gives me a week’s rest.” Johnny said.

“ It won’t be long and he will be sleeping thru the night.” Scott said. “ So little brother… many kids you and Teresa going to have?”

“ As many as we can. Murdoch said he wanted this place full of grandchildren. Just following his orders.” Johnny said with a smile. “ Checkmate Boston.”

“ What…..One of these days you are……..”

Johnny noticed his brothers facial expression had changed and he was looking past him.

“ Don’t do anything stupid and you’ll be allowed to live!” George said.

Johnny stood up and turned around. “ Who the hell are you?” he demanded.

“ Hello Lieutenant Garrett. I bet I’m the last person you ever expected to see again.”

“ Libby……..what do you want?” Scott asked.

“ Revenge.” Floyd said as he walked into the grand room. “ I must say,  you have a nice home.”

“ Yeah, he’s living the good life while we were in prison.” Mack said.

“  You’re going to take a little trip with us Lieutenant.” George said.

“ A trip where?” Scott demanded.

“ Back in time.” Rufus said as he tied Scott’s hands.

“ The rest of the house is empty.” Moses said as he came downstairs.

“ You……..sit down in that chair over there. Moses, tie him up and gang him. Make sure he can’t get loose.” George ordered.

“ Do whatever they say Johnny.” Scott said.

“ We have his horse saddled and waiting.” Virgil said.

“ You bastard.” Johnny spat.

“ Be thankful we’re not killing you.” Rufus said as he tied Johnny to the chair.

“ Let’s go Lieutenant. Virgil, Moses, stay here until we get away from the house. We have no problems, let him live. Anyone sees us and tries to stop us…….kill him.” George ordered.

Scott looked at his brother. He knew as soon as Johnny got free, he would come after him.

“ Shut up!” Floyd ordered as he shoved Scott toward the veranda doors.

“ Okay, let’s go.” Moses said.

Virgil walked over to Johnny, smiled and then hit him as hard as he could, snapping his head to the right, knocking him out.

Sam watched as Johnny galloped into Spanish Wells and stopped at the sheriff’s office. Angry that the boy was doing exactly what he was told not to do, he headed toward the jail.

“ Val!” Johnny said as he hurried into the jail.

“ What in tarnation are you doing here?” Val asked.

“ I need your help.” Johnny said.

“ My help…..doing what?” Val asked.

“ Tracking.” Johnny said as Sam came into the office.

“ What do you think you are doing riding like that? I……..” Sam demanded.

“ Not now Sam.” Johnny cut in. “ Last night five men who ran Libby prison came into the house and took Scott. These men want revenge for being sent to prison for how they ran that place.”

“ That how you got that?” Val asked as he walked over and grabbed his rifle from the rack.

“ Let me clean that up John.” Sam said.

“ It’ll keep. We need to get going. They already have a days jump on us.”

“ Which way you think they went?” Val asked.

“ I don’t know. Sam, send a wire to Murdoch in San Francisco, letting him know what’s happened.” Johnny said as they headed outside.

“ John, you’re not healed up yet.” Sam said.

“ I’m going after my brother Sam.” Johnny said as he mounted Barranca.

“ Just the two of you?” he asked.

“ Val’s the only one I need to get him back. I’ll see ya.”

“ Don’t worry doc. I’ll take care of him. He’ll cool down and start thinking right.” Val said as he mounted up.

“ Rufus, go back and check our back-trail. Make sure we’re not being followed.” George ordered. “ The horses need a rest.”

“ Get down and don’t try anything.” Floyd ordered.

Scott got down and held onto his saddle until his legs got feeling back in them. All night and half the day they rode. Judging from sunrise they were headed northeast. Why and for how far he didn’t know.

“ Where you taking me?” he asked.

George walked over to him and hit him hard in the gut with his rifle barrel. “ I didn’t give you permission to speak.”

Scott dropped to his knees coughing and gasping for air. Knowing his brother would be tracking him, he knew he needed to leave some kind of sign. Raising up, he lunged at George, hitting him in his midsection as they both went down. Swinging hard he hit the man in the face, splitting his lip before he felt something slam up against the side of  his head and darkness claimed him.

George got up and spit out a mouth full of blood. “ Sonofabitch. Drag him over there and tie his ass up.” he ordered. “ He gets no water until I say.”

“ Rufus is coming back.” Mack said an hour later.

“ Ain’t nobody I can see following us. I covered our back-trail from the last few miles. If anyone is following, they won’t be able to now.” Rufus said as he dismounted. “ What happened to you?”

“ Just teaching our prisoner some manners.” George said. “ Go ahead and get something to eat and rest. Well leave when the moon is up.”

“ If we’re being followed, won’t they ride by the moons light also?” Moses asked.

“ They won’t be able to ride all day and night. We have a day’s head-start on them and they won’t know which way we went.” George said.

Murdoch stepped off the stage in Spanish Wells and was met by Sam and Frank. “ What the hell happened?” he demanded as he helped Teresa down.

“ We don’t know sir. Tuesday morning I went to the house to see what Scott wanted us to do that day and found Johnny tied up in the grand room. He wouldn’t say anything other than to have me saddle Barranca for him. He left and I haven’t heard anything since.” Frank said.

“ Johnny rode into town and got Val.” Sam said. “ He said was five men from Scott’s past when he was in Libby prison came into the house Monday night and took him.”

“ Johnny’s not supposed to be riding yet.” Teresa said.

“ He’s healed up enough he should be alright.” Sam said. “ Val is with him.”

“ Let’s get back to the ranch.” Murdoch ordered.

“ Yes sir.” Frank said. “ I’ve had men out looking, but there’s no way of knowing which way they went.”

“ Alright Frank. Sam thank you.” Murdoch said as he climbed up in the buggy.

“ There’s something else Mister Lancer. Those two men you hired, Virgil and Moses, they’re in on it sir. That’s how they knew it was just Johnny and Scott in the house.”

“ Those men came all the way here for revenge against Scott for what they did in that prison! Why?” Teresa said and asked.

“ I don’t know sweetheart. I just pray Val can keep Johnny from doing something he will regret.” Murdoch said as they left Spanish Wells.

“ We’ll get him back kid.” Val said.

“ Damn storm. This rain is going to wash away any tracks.” Johnny said.

“ Chances are they had to stop too kid.” Val said. “How’s yur back feelin’ ?”

“ It’s fine.” he said. “  Scott was one of the officers that testified against them. He said they were sentenced to three years in prison for what’s called war crimes.” Johnny explained.

“  So where ya think they’re going?”

“ Scott said to remember what he told me. If that’s true then them heading northeast makes sense.” Johnny responded. “ They’re going to Wyoming.”

“ Wyoming…….You do realize there will be snow and cold?” Val asked.

“ We’ll buy supplies and a pack-horse. So stop your damn complaining.” Johnny said.

“ Ya know, that brother of yurs is a whole lot smarter……and cooler. He don’t go storming off without thinking something out.”

“ What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Johnny asked with irritation.

“ It means us riding hell bent for leather like we was could’ve put one or both of us afoot ya dang fool.” Val responded. “ Kid….ya got to think before ya act sometimes. I know ya want  ‘im back, but ya need ta start thinking with yur mind and not yur heart. I know what Scott means to ya…..Hell I love ‘im too and he ain’t even my kin, but he’s yurs and ya know how I feel about you.”

“ You really are a pain in the ass.” Johnny said. “ I told him I would die for him……I can’t lose him Val.”

“ Ya won’t. Now lay yur butt down and get some sleep.” Val ordered. “ Ya ain’t doin’ yur brother any good worryin’ like ya are.”

“ You gonna leave him out in the rain all night?”  Moses asked.

“ Don’t worry about it.” Floyd said.;

“ How far we gonna take him before we kill him?” Mack asked.

“ Wyoming.” George said.

“ Why Wyoming, George?” Floyd asked.

“ We could get snowed in!” Clay said. “ Hell we could get snowed in before we even get there.”

“ That’s where he goes to die. Any of you don’t like it, ride out now.” George snapped back.

“ Me and Moses are out when we get to Salt Lake City.” Virgil said.

“ Yeah, I’m not about to ride to Wyoming where it’s going to be cold. We’re headed back south where all we have to contend with is rain.”

Moses said. “ There’s a real good whore in Yuma I like being with.”

“ Mister Lancer, we looked in every direction and couldn’t find any tracks the next morning. Whoever took him was real good at covering their back-trail.”  Walt said.

“ Johnny and Val will find their trail and get Scott back.” Teresa said.

“ Damn fool should have taken some of the men with him.” Murdoch said with anger.

“ We wanted to go Mister Lancer, but Johnny said no.” Frank said. “ Said he thought you would be upset if we were short hands for the fall round-up.”

Murdoch stood up and walked over to look out the big bay window behind his desk. “ All we can do is pray they find Scott and all three of them come home…..alive.”

“ Might as well not wear this anymore.” Val said as he took his badge off and put it in his saddlebag. “ Probably won’t have a job when I get back anyways.”

“ You’ll still have a job, so stop your damn grumbling.” Johnny said as he threw his saddle on Barranca. “ You’re getting to more grouchy in your old age.”

“ Old…….boy I ain’t to old ta tan yur backside.” Val said. “ In case you haven’t noticed, it’s getting colder at night an the dang snow will be falling soon.”

“ We’d have Scott by now if the damn weather would cooperate.” Johnny said.

“ Look kid, we need supplies before the snow starts. We won’t be any good to yur brother if we gets sick or dead.” Val suggested. “ And I’m not saying that because I’m an old man as you say. I’m suggesting it because Scott needs us.”

“ I know you are Val.”

“ Ya know…..they could have planned it this way.” Val suggested.

“ How you figure?” Johnny asked.

“ Maybe they knew it rains like it does in the fall…..and it would make tracking them harder.” he suggested.

“ Harder hell…..Damn rains been so relentless, an Apache wouldn’t be able to track in it.” Johnny said with disgust. “ We’ll buy a pack-horse and supplies in the next town.”

“ Get up Lieutenant.” Floyd ordered.

“ You said we’re going to Wyoming. What part?” Mack asked.

“ A small town called Sherman.” George said.

“ How the hell did you end up in Richmond?” Rufus asked.

“ My uncle passed away. My old man packed us up and moved us there two years before the war started.” George explained.

“ You know, when we agreed to help you with this, you said nothing about taking him all the way to Wyoming to kill.” Clay said.

“ Let’s kill him now and get it over with!” Rufus said.

“ No!!!! I told all of you that if anyone isn’t happy with going to Wyoming, they are free to ride away.” George said with anger.

“ We all had to serve time in prison because of him and others also.” Mack said. “ How come you have such a hate for Garrett and haven’t once mentioned anyone of the others who testified against us?”

“ Yeah, how come you have such a hatred for him?” Clay asked.

“  Leave…….I don’t need any of you. Ride out now.” George snapped back. “ Get the hell out…….I don’t need you!”

Scott watched and listened as his captors talked. His wrist were now raw and bleeding from the rope. His ribs, though not broke or fractured, were bruised and hurting. Given water only at night with a small amount of food. He learned with a few beatings to not speak unless spoken too. His gut told him his brother was looking for him and wouldn’t stop until he was found. He also knew the storms they’ve been in the past week washed away any chances his brother would have of finding their tracks.

“ You know, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these past two weeks. What we did in prison to the prisoners wasn’t right, even if it was during a war.” Mack said as he walked over to Scott. “ I served three years in prison for what I did to you and others. I was angry at first, but I can’t blame you for what I did. If it had been me I would have tried to escape too. I’m sorry Lieutenant Garrett, I’m not doing this. I can’t.”

“ Neither can I.” Clay said. “ I killed enough men during the war. I’m not killing someone years later because of what happened during the war. The killing has to stop sometime.”

“ Rufus, Floyd, you coming with us?” Mack asked.

“  I’m not as forgiving as you two are.” Rufus said.

“ Me either.” Floyd said.

Johnny and Val rode into Salt Lake City late afternoon one month after leaving Spanish Wells.

“ I’m so damn cold I can’t feel my hands, feet or face.” Val gruffed.

“  Go on over and get us a room for the night and order us two hot baths while I take care of the horses and see if we can get a pack-horse.” Johnny said as he took out some money and handed it to Val. “ If it’s not the damn rain slowing us down…’s snow.”

“ It’s slowing them down too kid.” Val said as he untied his saddlebags. “ You sending a wire to yur pappy to let him know where we’re headed?”

“ Yeah. I need to let Teresa know I’m alright.” Johnny said before leading the horses into the livery.

“ Can I help you young fella?” the livery owner asked.

“ Need to put them up for the night with hay and grain.” Johnny said.

“ Six bits will get them that and a good currying too.” he said.

“  There been anyone stop thru headed east in the last few days?” Johnny asked as he paid the man.

“ On the stage or horseback?” he asked.

“ Horseback. Eight of them to be exact.  One of them a prisoner.” Johnny said as he led Barranca into a stall and started removing the saddle.

“  Good looking horse. Don’t know about eight men on horseback, but I did have four men come in four days ago. Two of them have been in the saloon every night drinking. The other two weren’t happy there’s no soiled doves in town so they rode out the next day.” the man said. “ They friends of yours?”

“ Names Johnny Lancer. I’m tracking those men because they kidnapped my brother a month ago in California.”

“ Names Levi Jones. Your names Lancer huh?……..I was down in Tucson a few years ago and seen a man who looks just like you. Only his name wasn’t Johnny Lancer……It was Johnny Madrid. Watched him gun down a man. Fastest draw I ever seen.”

“ Look…..I gave that life up. Lancer is my birth name. I just want to get my brother back and go home.” Johnny said.

“ A second chance huh…….I got me a second chance when I came here.” Levi said. “ I was a drunk who ended up here. The town gave me a second chance. I wish you luck young man.”

“ You think they’ll come in?” Val asked.

“ The livery guy said they’ve been here every night.” Johnny said.

Val leaned forward. “ I want you to keep your wits about you kid if they come in.”

“ I’m not going to kill them. I want to know where in Wyoming they’re taking Scott.” Johnny said.

“ And what if it’s not the two that worked for Lancer?” Val asked.

“ It’s them.” Johnny said.

“ How ya know?”

“ I know because they just walked in.”

Val watched as to men walked over to the bar and ordered their drinks. “ How you gonna do this?”

“ Wait and watch.” Johnny said. “ Let’s see if they see me.”

“ Kid…..nobody here knows yur Madrid. Let’s keep it that way if we can.” Val said. “ They may not recognize you with that scrub ya got on yur face.”

Moses took a drink of his beer before turning around to look around the room. “ So what we doing tonight?”

“ Same thing we’ve been doing the last four nights.” Virgil said. “ Shit!”

“ What’s wrong?” Moses asked.

“ Sitting over in the corner……Don’t that look like the younger Lancer brother…..Johnny?” Virgil asked.

Moses looked at the two men sitting in the corner watching them. “ Damn, what are we going to do?”

“ Nothing. Finish your beer.” Virgil said as he turned back around.

Johnny stood up and walked over to stand behind them. “ Turn around!”

Moses started shaking as he slowly turned around to face him.

“ I don’t know what your problem is mister, but I don’t want any trouble in my saloon.” the bartender said.

“ Won’t be any trouble. These two are going to take a walk with me over to the sheriff’s office so we can have a talk.” Johnny said.

“ We’re not going anywhere with you mister.” Virgil said.

Johnny grabbed Virgil and spun him around. “ You sonofabitch……you took my brother!” Johnny spat. “ Where are they going?”

“ Let him go mister.” a man said behind Johnny.

“ Sheriff…..I’m Val Crawford….and this here is…..”

“ Johnny Madrid!” the sheriff cut in and said.

“ Sheriff, these two with five other men kidnapped my brother a month ago. We’ve been tracking them.” Johnny said. “ I don’t want trouble…….I just want to know where they’re taking him.”

“  We ain’t done anything wrong sheriff!” Moses said.

“ Alright, let’s all walk over to my jail and get this straightened out.” the sheriff said.

Teresa walked into the grand room to find Murdoch pacing the floor. “ You keep pacing like that you will walk a hole in the floor.”

“ It’s been a month. Why the devil haven’t we heard something?” Murdoch asked.

“ Johnny will send a wire when he can.” she said. “ We don’t know what way they went. He might not be near a town with a telegraph.”

“ We don’t even know if he’s found their trail, let alone if both of them are still alive.” Murdoch said.

“ I know in my heart Johnny and Scott are still alive.” Teresa said. “ Don’t give up hope.”

“ I can’t lose both of them Teresa.”

“ You won’t.” Teresa said as someone knocked on the front door.

Murdoch walked over and opened the door to find Toby standing there.

“ Mister Lancer, pa said I should get this out to you straight away.” Toby said as he handed him a telegram.

“ Thank you Toby. I believe Teresa baked some cookies today.” he said as he took the wire.

“ Thanks, but pa said to come straight back.” Toby said.

Murdoch opened the envelope and breathed a sigh of relief. “ They’re in Salt Lake City. He says they’re headed to Wyoming.”

“ Wyoming, why?” she asked.

“ He says that’s where the men are taking Scott.” he said. “ The weather delayed them and given it’s now November, they’re bound to have snow slow them down as well.”

“ I don’t understand why Johnny and Val don’t have Scott back yet?” she asked.

“ The rain probably washed away their tracks.” Murdoch said. “ I’m just wondering why they are taking him to Wyoming? As far as I know, Scott has never been there.”

“ Maybe it has to do with the men who took him.” she suggested.

“ Alright, you two sit down and don’t say a damn word.” the sheriff ordered Virgil and Moses. “ You……Madrid, start talking.”

Johnny looked at the man. “ You got a name to go with that badge?”

“ Names Porter Rockwell. I’ve been the law in Salt Lake since the Mormons came to this valley.” he said. “ I want to know why Johnny Madrid is in my town pulling a gun on those two men, making serious accusations against them.”

“  A month ago those two with five other men kidnapped my brother Scott from our ranch outside Morro Coyo, called Lancer.” Johnny said.

“ I’ve heard of Lancer. They say it’s the biggest spread in California.” the sheriff  said.

“ One hundred thousand acres.” Johnny said. “ Those two hired on so the others would know when they could take my brother. The weather has slowed us down.”

“ Why these other men want to kidnap your brother?” Sheriff Porter asked.

“ The leader, a man named George Libby, he ran Libby prison where my brother spent a year as a prisoner.” Johnny responded. “ My brother and over a hundred other prisoners escaped. They were sentenced to three years in prison for war crimes. They abused the prisoners in manners I’ll spare saying. Bottom line, they blame my brother for them serving three years in prison for what they did.”

“ I heard nightmare tells of that prison.” Porter said. “ Who are you?”

“ Names Val Crawford, I’m the sheriff of Spanish Wells and a good friend of Johnny’s.”

“ You’re out of your jurisdiction Crawford.”

“ I know that ya damn fool. Why ya think I’m not wearing my badge.” Val snapped back. “ Look…..everything Johnny told ya is the truth. All we want to know is where the hell those men are taking his brother.”

Sheriff Porter crossed his arms, sighed and studied both men a few minutes before walking over to face Virgil and Moses. “ So where they headed?”

“ We don’t…….”

Sheriff Porter grabbed Virgil and yanked him up. “ Madrid may be a gunfighter, but he ain’t no liar. Neither is Val Crawford…..Now you two got thirty seconds to start talking before I let Madrid get the information out of you any way he chooses.”

“ Madrid…..I’m sorry……I never knew who you were……We……They’re taking him to some town called Sherman. The leader George lived there before he went to Virginia.” Moses said.

“ The man is crazy Madrid.” Virgil said.

“ My name is Lancer…..Johnny Lancer…..I was trying to leave Madrid behind, but thanks to you two and the others.”

“ What you want me to do with these two?” the sheriff said.

“ Let ’em go.” Johnny said as he walked over to them. “ I suggest you two disappear. I don’t ever want to see either one of you again. I do……..I swear I’ll kill you.”

Val smiled as he watched the color drain from Virgil’s face.

“ I want you two out of my town tonight.” Sheriff Porter ordered.

“ There’s a snowstorm out there. We could freeze to death!”  Moses said.

“ That’s not my problem. I don’t want troublemakers in my town.” the sheriff said.

“ What about Madrid? He’s a gunfighter and he’s staying!” Virgil said with anger.

“ Madrid’s not staying either.” the sheriff responded. “ Now get the hell out of my town.”

Johnny stood with his arms crossed watching the two men leave. He wanted them in jail, but couldn’t wait around for a judge.

“ Madrid……I’ll let you stay the night, but I want you gone in the morning.” Porter ordered.

“ I have no intention on staying sheriff. We’ll be leaving at first light.” Johnny said.

“ You ride southeast about five miles you’ll come to a huge cottonwood tree next to a stream. Follow that stream and it will take you to a well-used game trail that will lead to a canyon that runs all the way into Wyoming. There’s shelter, game, and wood for heat.” Porter explained. “ I’ve used that trail numerous times.”

“ Much obliged sheriff.” Val said. “ Let’s go get some sleep kid.”

“ I’m sick of this snow and cold George.” Floyd said.

“ We need to find some kind of shelter before dark. The temps are going to drop, and we don’t have enough food or blankets to stay alive up here.” Rufus said.

“ Storms out of the north.” Scott said. “ We drop down to a canyon, it will give us shelter from the wind and less snow will be down there.”

“ I say you could talk?” George demanded.

“ Let him talk.” Floyd said. “ Go on Garrett.

“ See those red sandstone walls can have caves or cutouts deep enough from spring flooding to provide shelter and wood for a fire.” Scott said.

“ And how the hell do you know that?” Rufus asked.

“ My brother told me how he stayed in one a few times when he was…….”

“ When he was what…….running from the law?” George asked. “ You know, come to think of it…… two don’t look like brothers at all.

 He looks like he has Mex in him.”

“ Your fate is sealed George. You can kill me, but my brother won’t stop looking for you until he finds you…..all of you……and he will find you.” Scott said.

“ You think I’m scared of a……what do they call them Floyd?”

“ Half-breed. Half Mexican, half American. Given your looks my guess is your old man took a Mexican whore to bed and got her pregnant.” Floyd responded.

“ If I were you, I would be afraid.” Scott said as he glared at Floyd. “ My little brother is known by another name down along the border and in Mexico…….Maybe you heard of him……Johnny Madrid?”

“ I’ve heard of Madrid.” Rufus said.

“ Your brother is not Johnny Madrid.” George said with anger.

“ You go on telling yourself that.” Scott said. “ I promise you he will make you die a slow agonizing death when he catches up to us, and he will catch up to us.”

“  I smell smoke.” Johnny said softly as he stopped Barranca.

“ Yeah. Wind’s from the east so it’s up ahead.” Val said as they dismounted.

“ You stay here with the horses while I go take a look.” Johnny said as he pulled his rifle.

“ Be careful.” Val said as he removed his rifle.

Johnny worked his way up to a higher point to see ahead. He knew he was close due to the smoke being stronger. Creeping up behind a boulder he looked down to see a man digging a grave with his hands. A woman sat next to a fire holding the still form of a child in her lap. “ Damn.” he said as he stood up and walked back to where Val waited.

“ What is it?” Val asked.

“ There’s a man digging a grave with his hands. His wife is holding what looks like their dead child in her lap next to a fire.” Johnny said as he slid his rifle back in the scabbard.

“ Oh damn.” Val said as Johnny swung up in the saddle.


Chapter 12

“  When we gonna be in Wyoming?” Rufus asked.

“ We should be tomorrow now that the damn snow has stopped.” George responded. “ Stand up Garrett.”

Scott stood up. His body was chilled to the bone. His hands shook and his teeth felt like they were chattering.

“ I bet you being cold makes you feel like you’re back in Libby?” Floyd asked. “ In that big cell with all those other blue bellies. The wind blowing in the cold of winter.”

“ I personally liked watching them begging to be shot to end their suffering.” George added.

“ We did them a big favor.” Rufus said.

“What we did was no different than what you blue bellies did to us. How you treated us. You damn yanks thought you had a right to tell us how to live our lives. That we had no right to have slaves to work in our fields. Hell owning slaves is no different than you on that big fancy ranch with all those hands working for you.”

“ There’s a big difference. Our hands are free to leave any time they want. They get three hot meals a day, a roof over their head and paid to do the work they do. We don’t brand them and we sure as hell don’t whip them.” Scott said with anger.

Floyd walked over to Scott and grabbed him by his coat. “ My father lost everything because of you damn yanks. Everything he worked his entire life for was taken away from him because of Lincoln telling us we couldn’t have slaves.” he spat before hitting Scott as hard as he could, knocking him down.

“ Cool it Floyd. I don’t need you killing him like you did a few of those blue bellies when you got angry.” George said firmly.

“ You had no right having slaves.” Scott spat back as blood ran down his chin. “ No human being deserved to be treated like they were. I don’t care who the so called owner was. I have no remorse fighting for their freedom and I would gladly do it again.”

“ Shut up Lieutenant!” Rufus yelled as he chambered a round into his rifle.

“  I’m not a lieutenant anymore. The war has been over for almost eight years.” Scott said with anger. “ Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox.”

“ The war will never be over for me as long as any man who wore blue is still breathing.” Floyd spat.

“ Mister, we mean you know harm.” Johnny said. “ Smelled your smoke and seen what you’re doing. Figured we could give you some help burying your child.”

“ Ride on….I don’t need nor want your help.” the man said.

“ You got any food?” Johnny asked as he dismounted.

“ I said ride on mister.” the man repeated as he walked over and picked up the small child.

“  Look this is Ute country. You follow the stream west half a day’s ride you’ll come to a huge cottonwood tree. Turn northwest five miles and you’ll be in Salt Lake.” Johnny said as he went to the pack-horse, took out some food and set it on a rock by the woman.

The woman stood up and placed her hands on Johnny’s.“ God bless you young man.” she said before going to bury her child.

“ Let’s go Johnny.” Val said.

Johnny swung up in the saddle, said a silent prayer and rode away to leave them to their grief.

“ Murdoch….I need to talk to you.” Teresa said.

“ Is something wrong?’ he asked.

“ No….nothing is wrong.” she said. “ You’re going to be a grandfather again.”

“ I am?” Murdoch asked. “ When?”

“ Yes. In seven months.” she said. “ I want this one to be a girl.”

“ Have you and Johnny went up to the attic yet to look at what is up there from when he was a baby?”

“ Not yet. With Johnny having the surgery and all, we never made it up there.”

“ Is Paul asleep?” he asked.

“ Yes. I just put him down for his morning nap.”

“ Well then let’s go up there and take a look at what’s up there that you can use.”

“ I miss Johnny and Scott so much.” Teresa said as they went upstairs.

“ So do I sweetheart. Hopefully they will be home for Christmas.”

“ They were here at dawn. One of the horses threw a shoe.” Captain Marlowe said. “ I asked why the one was tied up and they said they were bounty hunters and he was wanted.”

“ Did you both to ask if they had a dodger on him or what he was wanted for?” Val asked.

“ I did and they had a paper on him. It said his name was Scott Garrett wanted for treason and crimes committed during the war.” the captain said.

“ The dodger is a fake captain. My brother was in Libby prison. Him and a hundred and fifty other prisoners escaped thru a tunnel.”

“ Wait a minute…..Your brother was Lieutenant Scott Garrett, one of the men who testified to the conditions and treatment of the prisoners in there. I thought those men were in prison?”

“ They got three years.” Johnny said.

“ The war’s been over for seven years.” the captain said.

“ Them being rebs explains their attitude and the looks we got.” Sergeant Carter said.

“ Sergeant, form a detail of men to go with them.” the captain ordered.

“ Yes sir.” the sergeant said as he stood up.

“ That’s not necessary captain.” Johnny said. “ We’ve been tracking these men all the way from California. They’re not soldiers any longer.”

“ You sure?” he asked.

“ I’m sure. I appreciate the information.” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle.

“ You know….word had it you were killed in a Mexican prison Madrid.” the captain said as he walked over to Johnny’s horse.

“ Don’t believe everything you hear captain.” Johnny said as he shook the mans hand.

“ Floyd, ride up there and check our back trail.” George ordered. “ I have a feeling we’re being followed.”

“ How long you want me to watch?” Floyd asked.

“ As long as it takes.” he ordered. “ If his brother is following us……kill him. Well gross Green river and wait for you there for one day.”

“ You better take an extra blanket to keep warm since you won’t be able to have a fire.” Rufus said as he handed him a blanket.

Floyd took the blanket and looked at Scott. “ If he is following us…..killing him is going to be a pleasure.” he said before riding off.

“ Something bothering you kid?”

“ Take a look out there Val, tell me what you see.”

Val scanned the horizon ahead and smiled. “ How the hell?”

“ Barranca, his ears perked up and are forward. He hears another horse.” Johnny said. “ I’m going to ride south and come up on that knoll on the right from behind. I want you to keep going, but watch yourself.”

“ You want me to be the decoy so you can get behind whoever is on that knoll?” Val asked. “ Just don’t dilly dally around getting up there.”

Johnny turned Barranca and galloped off to the south and then east staying in washes or the trees as much as possible.

“ Damn fool kid, have me be the sitting duck. Horse, me and that boy gotta have us a serious talk. You keep your ears open too ya damn crow bait.” Val gruffed as he continued east out into the open of the trees.

Johnny stopped Barranca near a stream with some exposed grass and ground-tied him. Working his way up the back of the knoll until he seen the riders horse grazing on the grass. On the other side of the horse he could see the head of a man behind a rock. Using the horse for  cover he started walking toward the man as a shot rang out. All he could do was pray Val was still alive. Walking up to the horse, he patted it’s neck before walking around to see the man stand up.

“ Drop the rifle!” he ordered as he chambered a round in his rifle.

“ Who the hell are you, and why you have a gun on me mister?” Floyd demanded.

“  Drop the rifle and walk over here.”

Floyd dropped the rifle and walked over to Johnny. His eyes got wide when he seen who it was. “ You…”

“ Reach down with your left hand and pull that pistol out and toss it away.” he ordered.

Floyd glared at Johnny, refusing to do what he was told.

Johnny brought the rifle up and hit Floyd hard upside the head, knocking him down. Walking over he kicked the man as hard as he could in the gut before reaching down and pulling the knife he carried inside his boot. Straddling the mans waist he drove the knife into his gut.

Floyd felt a sharp pain in his gut. Raising his head he looked down and found a knife sticking in his gut.

“ Where are they?” Johnny demanded.

“ Go to hell!”

Johnny  pushed the knife in more. “ Tell me where my brother’s at! You don’t and I promise you…your death will be long and agonizing.”

“ The river.” Floyd spat. “ They’re on the other side of the river waiting for me.”

“ Is my brother still alive?”

“ He was when I left them earlier.”

Johnny rose up, glared at the man a minute before plunging the knife deep in the mans gut and twisting it.

Floyd screamed in pain as he started coughing up blood. “ You….”

Johnny stood up and glared down at the man. That’s for what you did to my brother.”  he said before walking over to Barranca, mounting up and riding away.

Val watched as a rider on a golden horse came down the knoll toward him. No shot had been fired except the one that killed their pack-horse, he had a good idea how the man on the knoll died and it sent a shiver down his spin.

“ You alright?” Johnny asked.

“ Better than that man is or this horse.” Val gruffed. “ You learn anything before you killed him?”

“ They’re waiting for him to come back on the other side of the river.” Johnny said as he dismounted. “ We’ll come back and get this stuff when we have another horse.”

“ How ya gonna do this kid?” Val asked.

“ Divide and conquer.”

“ Who carved this?” Teresa asked.

“ Oh my, I completely forgot about this. I started carving this for Johnny when he was six months old. I wanted to give it to him on his first birthday.” Murdoch said. “ As you can see, he chewed on it a lot.”

“ You think maybe you could do it again for Paul?” she asked.

“ I would be glad to.” he said. “ Aah here it is. Johnny was Christened in this gown.”

“ It’s beautiful. Did Maria make it?” she asked.

“ She did. You and her are alike. She loved to sew and could……”

“ You alright?” she asked knowing the memories were hurting.

“ Just remembering.”

“ Murdoch….when I ran away….I did it because I was afraid of what people would say. When I was with Verna….we would talk.” she said.

“ She made me realize how wrong I was in leaving. That what I did was the same thing Maria did to you with Johnny when she ran away.

I can never give Johnny, you or Scott back those first few months you missed with Paul, and I’m sorry.”

“ You’re home now and that’s all that matters.” he said. “ The bassinet is over there if you want to use it.”

“ I would like that.” she said.

“ Well let’s take these things downstairs so we can clean them up.”

“  Floyd should have been back by now.” Rufus said.

“ He’ll be along.” George said. “ If he’s not by sunrise, we’ll leave without him.”

Rufus stood up and started to walk toward the horses when a bullet slammed into his chest and knocked him into the river.

Scott dove for cover behind the downed tree he’d been sitting on. His gut told him who killed Rufus. Looking toward the river he seen the body, face down floating away in the current.

George scrambled behind a tree with his pistol drawn. Seeing a rider to his right, he fired even though his pistol was no good at that range. Looking at his rifle lying next to his saddle, he scrambled over and grabbed it.

“ Go ahead if you think you can!” a voice as cold as ice said from behind him.

George clenched the rifle a few seconds before spinning around to fire as a bullet sliced thru his upper right thigh, dropping him to the ground as Val rode up.

Scott stood up and walked over to his brother. “ Good to see you little brother.”

Johnny pulled his knife and cut the rope binding his brothers bloody wrist. “ You alright?”

“ I’ve had worse.” Scott said before walking over to George. “ I told you my brother would come.” he said as he helped him stand up.

“ I should have killed you in prison.” George spat.

Johnny pulled his colt, walked over to George and aimed right at his forehead. “ This is for what you did to my brother in prison and for kidnapping him!” he said with coldness before pulling the trigger.

Scott stood there shocked at what he just witnessed. He’d never imagined he would ever see his little brother cross the line by killing another man in cold-blood.

“ Hey….big brother…..let’s get those wrist cleaned and bandaged up.” Johnny said as he took his brothers hands in his and seen how raw the skin was. Looking up into Scott’s eyes, he could tell he was in shock at what he seen him do. “ I told you I would die for you… you know I’ll also kill for you, I got no problem killing for someone I love. They had it coming to them for what they did to you and all those other men in prison and for taking you away from me.”

Scott couldn’t stop the tears from welling up in his eyes as he grabbed his brother and pulled him into a big hug. “ I thought I would never see you again.” he said softly into his right ear.

Johnny hugged his brother back as tight as he could, his own tears spilling over. “ I’m afraid you’re stuck with me Boston.” Johnny said with a smile.

“ Damn Rurales couldn’t kill him…..Some lowlife scum from the south sure as heck won’t be doing it.” Val said.

Scott walked over and shook Val’s hand. “ Thank you Val. Thank you for coming with Johnny….and for being a good trusting friend to him.”

“ Damn kids a thorn in my backside. Let’s get you to Fort Bridger so the dc can take care of them wrist, we can take a hot bath…..and not sleep on the damn cold ground.” Val gruffed.

“  Teresa……Teresa.” Murdoch yelled. “ Teresa they got Scott and they’re coming home.”

“ What…….they got him back?” she asked as she stood up and picked Paul up. “ When will they be home?”

“ The telegram says, I have Scott. In Fort Bridger. Will be home soon.”Murdoch read.

“ Where is Fort Bridger?” she asked.

“ Wyoming. It’s an army post and town.” Murdoch said. “ They can catch the train there home.”

“ That must be what they’re going to do, take the train home.” she said with excitement. “ I want to fix them a good welcome home meal.”

“ Maybe we should give them some time when they come home. They’re probably going to be tired.” Murdoch suggested.

“ You’re right. I’ll be so glad when I can wrap my arms around Johnny again.” she said. “ It’s been a long two months.”

“ When are you going to tell Johnny about the baby?” Murdoch asked.

“ After they have been home a while I’ll tell him.” she said. “ Will Val still be the sheriff of Spanish Wells when he gets back?”

“ Yes he will. Scott was kidnapped in his jurisdiction. He still has a job.” Murdoch said.

“ Keep this salve on them and keep them wrapped for a week and they’ll heal up fine.” the army doctor said. “ Change the bandage if it gets dirty or twice a day.”

“ What about scars doc?” Johnny asked.

“ He might have a couple small one, but nothing major will show.”

“ Madrid…..I need  a word with you.” Captain Marlowe said.

“ He knows you?” Scott asked.

“ Yeah.” Johnny said with a sigh.

“ You’re  Johnny Madrid?” the doctor asked. “ Hell I’ve waited a long time to meet you young man. Though I must confess I thought you were older.”

“ Do I know you?” Johnny asked.

“  Not personally, but I know of you. You saved my aunt and uncles life once a few years back from some men who were going to rob and kill them.” he said. “ He wrote telling me all about it. Thank you.”

Johnny shook the man’s hand before stepping outside to see what the captain wanted.

“ A patrol found a body on a knoll two hours ride east of here. Said it was one of the men who were here. One of the three who took your brother.” the captain said. “ The sergeant said he had been either stabbed or shot in the gut and left to die. Which he couldn’t tell. That patrol also found two horses grazing along the Green river, but no sign of their owners. I expect they succumbed to the harsh conditions of winter.” the captain said. “ At least that’s what my report will say.”

“ Is that all Captain Marlowe?” Johnny asked.

“ It is. You take care of yourself Madrid.” the captain said. “ I’m glad you got your brother back……alive.”

“ So am I.” Johnny said before walking away.

“ You’re lucky to have a brother like that Lieutenant Garrett.”

“ Captain, it was good to see you again.” Scott said as they shook hands.

“ You’ve never seen him kill before have you?” Val asked.

“ No…..I never thought he would kill someone in cold-blood like he did.” Scott said. “ He did it so easy.”

“  He hardly slept he was so worried about you. I’ve known him a long time and when I say this, you can bet it’s true. He’s never had anyone to love or care about that didn’t have four legs. You can bet he meant it when he said he would die for you……and kill for you Scott. Don’t condemn him for that.” Val said.

“ How did he kill Floyd?” Scott asked.

“ His knife.” Val said as Johnny walked into the room.

“  To take the horses back with us we have to wait two days for a train with livestock cars.” Johnny said as he removed his coat. Looking from Val to Scott, he could tell he walked in on a serious conversation, and he knew what that conversation was about.

“ How about we go have a cold beer and some food?” Scott asked as he started to the door.

Johnny reached out and stopped his brother. “ You having a problem accepting what I did?”

Scott looked at his brother. “  I don’t want to talk about it right now.” he said. “ But we will talk.”

“ So that’s how it’s going to be? I’ll see you later Val.” Johnny said as he grabbed his coat and walked out.

“ Did you not hear a word I said to you about that boy?” Val asked with anger.

“ I need to process everything that’s happened Val.” Scott said. “ He may be able to act like something never happened…….I can’t.”

“ You know I don’t know you all that well….but one thing I do know about you when you say something like that.” Val said. “ You are an arrogant sonofabitch. You think it’s easy for him to kill another man? Do you honestly think it doesn’t bother him when he takes another man’s life? If you do….then you are the dumbest jackass I ever knew. He’s haunted every night by ghost of the men he’s killed. I’ve heard him crying in the middle of the night. I’ve been with him when he wakes up screaming. You don’t know shit about your brother if you think killing comes easy for him. What you did tonight as drive him right into the arms of a whore for the comfort and acceptance he so desperately wants after he kills.”

“ He has a wife and child at home waiting for him.

Angry, Johnny went to the saloon farthest from the hotel. Sitting at a corner table for the past two hours he seen what he sought come downstairs.  He knew what he was going to do was wrong, but filled with so much hurt and anger, he didn’t care. What he wanted done to him tonight, he would never ask Teresa to do, and sleeping with a whore he would get that….and he would get rid of all of that anger. Seeing the girl look at him and smile as she walked over to the bar and watched as the bartender gestured his way. When he came in he told the man what he wanted and paid for the girl for the night. Sitting there he waited until she looked his way again and smiled.

“I guess I’m yours for all night?” she said. “ Let’s go.”

Johnny stood up and followed the girl up to her room. Once inside the room he closed the door and locked it before removing his gun belt

“ What all do you allow or do?” he asked as he sat down on the bed and removed his boots.

“ I’ll do whatever you want.” she said.

Johnny stood up and walked over to her. “ I need release.” he said as he shoved her down on the bed.

Scott sat at the window looking out at the dark street below thinking about what Val had said to him. Had he drive his brother into the arms of a whore instead of talking to him about what happened? Could they ever be close again or had he done irreparable damage to their relationship? If Johnny was with a saloon girl, it would be something he would have to deal with, therefore he decided he wouldn’t address the matter when his brother came back to the room.  Standing up, he walked over to the bed and sat down to remove his boots. Val had gone to bed not long after getting back from eating supper and was now snoring loud enough to raise the roof. Standing up, he started to pull his shirt out of his pants when the door opened and Johnny walked in.

“ I’m sorry.” he said as Johnny closed the door. “ I’m not angry with you Johnny…..I’ve never seen you kill someone like that before… shocked me I guess.”

Johnny looked at his brother before walking over to pour a shot of tequila and down it.

Scott walked over to sit down at the table. “ I thought….how can you kill someone so easy and have it not bother you……..but then I talked to Val after you walked out. Or rather he told me with anger how every man you’ve killed haunts your dreams at night. The nightmares you have from those killings.” he said as he poured a shot and downed it, then poured them both one. “ I’ve killed men during the war that still haunt me in my sleep…..Johnny…..I’m sorry….I never meant to be so inconsiderate toward your feelings. I’m grateful more than you will ever know for what you have done coming after me. I meant what I said when I said I thought I would never see you again.”

Johnny looked at his brother and could see the hurt and sincerity in his face. “ I remember the first man I gut shot. I did it deliberately so he would die an agonizing death. He had brutally raped and murdered a whore because she wouldn’t suck him off. The town had no law and the townsfolk didn’t have the balls to do anything about it. Hell most of them said it was just one less whore in town. No woman deserved what he did to her.” he said softly as he glanced over at Val snoring away. “ He shouldn’t have said anything to you.”

“ Don’t be mad at him for it. He had your best interest in mind, and helped me to understand you a lot better.” Scott said. “ I remember this rebel I came across once, he’d been gut shot and begged me to end his life. Said he couldn’t take the pain. That his whole insides were on fire. I took out my bayonet and without a second look, I ran it into his heart. He couldn’t have been more than seventeen. I still see him every night in my sleep laying there on the ground, with his eyes open.”

“ How old were you when yu killed your first man?” Johnny asked.

“ Nineteen. My first battle was at Antietam. Grandfather was angry when he learned I joined the Union Army to fight against slavery.” he responded.

“ Why was he mad?” Johnny asked.

“ Because he had slaves working for him in his businesses. When the war ended slavery, it meant he had to pay them a fare wage or let them leave if they wanted too.” he said. “ Most stayed, but some left to join their families down south.”

“ I did something tonight I’m not proud of Scott.” Johnny said. “ When I left here I went to  the saloon at the far end of town. I…..I started to do this whore……but couldn’t go thru with it. I almost did…..I mean….I was naked and on top of her, but I couldn’t do it.”

“ You didn’t go thru with it so don’t beat yourself up for it.” Scott said. “ Not doing it shows how much you love Teresa.”

“ If I loved Teresa like I should, I never would have went in that bedroom with her.” he said.

“ You’re young and you really haven’t had much time being married. You had to have a major operation on your back the day after your wedding, then stuck in bed, then you had to come save my ass.” Scott said.

“ I don’t know if I can walk away if it happens again.” Johnny said.

“ Then we’ll have to make sure it doesn’t little brother.” Scott said. “ Let’s get some sleep.”

“ That’s a view I will never get tired of seeing.” Scott said as they looked down at Lancer. “ I want to say something little brother. What happened back there in Wyoming stays there. They don’t need to know because I won’t say anything to them and you know Val won’t. So from right here on it’s just us the Lancer brothers coming home.”

“ Sounds good to me.” Johnny said. ‘ Let’s go home.”

“ They’re probably eating supper right now.” Scott said as they rode down the hill and slowed the horses to a walk into the yard.

“ You go on in Boston.” Johnny said.

“ We go together or not at all brother.” Scott said firmly.

Johnny dismounted and the brothers walked together thru the veranda door.

“ Scott……Johnny!!!” Murdoch yelled as  he stood up.

“ Johnny!” Teresa said as she stood up with Paul and ran to him.

“ Scott…Johnny….welcome home boys.” Murdoch said as he greeted them.

“ Thank you sir. It’s good to be home.” Scott said.

Johnny wrapped his arms around Teresa and held her tight. “ Oh how I missed you.” he said.

“ We missed you so much.” Teresa said. “ Come sit down and eat. You both must be hungry!”

“ Starved. We haven’t ate anything but jerky all day.” Johnny said.

“ Is Val alright?” Murdoch asked as they sat down.

“ He’s good.” Johnny said. “ Glad to be out of the snow and not having to sleep on a cold, hard ground.”

“ Johnny, how come it took you so long?” Teresa asked.

“ Storm wiped their tracks out.” he said. “ I remembered what Boston told me about George Libby being from Wyoming.”

“ It rained on us for a week.” Scott said. “ Between the rain and snow I’m surprised I didn’t get pneumonia.”

“ So am I son. I’m glad both my sons are home safe and sound.” he said. “ So what happened to the men?”

Johnny gave Scott a look of discomfort. A look his father noticed.

“ Actually sir, if you don’t mind, I would prefer to not talk about it. We just want to put it all behind us and get on with our lives.” Scott said.

Murdoch had a sickening feeling in his gut that none of the men seen justice from the law. His gut told him the justice they received came from his youngest, and it was brutal justice. “ Alright son. I won’t ask again.”

“ It’s getting late, I think I am going to put this little man to bed.” Teresa said five hours later.

“ I’m going to go check on Barranca.” Johnny said as he stood up and headed out the door.

“ Teresa, why don’t you go talk to Johnny. Me and Scott will put Paul to bed.” Murdoch suggested.

“ Teresa, don’t ask him…….listen if he tells you anything.” Scott suggested. “ Listen with an open heart.”

“ You glad to be back home amigo?” Johnny asked as he rubbed Barranca’s face. “ You did real good boy.”

“ Johnny.” Teresa said softly as she walked over to him.

“ I thought you were going to put Paul to bed?” he asked as he came out of the stall and closed the gate.

“ Murdoch and Scott wanted to do it.” she said. “ Are you alright?”

“ I’m fine. Just tired.”

“ It’s just…….you’ve been so quiet since you came home.”

Johnny walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her. “ I missed you so much. Thinking about you on those cold nights helped keep me warm.”

“  I did the same thing.” she said. “ The only thing it couldn’t help me with was the wanting you inside me.”

Johnny lowered his mouth to hers and slid his tongue inside. Moaning as he tasted her and felt her breast against his chest. “ Come here.” Johnny said as he led her over to sit on a hay bale. “ I need to tell you something that happened and I want you to listen and not say anything until I’m done.”

Teresa remembered what Scott said to her before she came out to the barn. “ Okay.”

“ When we got to Fort Bridger, me and Scott had a…….I went off to the far end of town to a saloon away from him and Val because of what I did to get him back.” Johnny said. “ Teresa…..I was with a whore….in her room…..I……I was on top of her…… ready, but I couldn’t do it……..I couldn’t make love to her…….I got up, got dressed and left. I walked around in the cold for a couple hours before I went back to the room. When I got there…..Scott was still awake and we talked. I told him what happened and we talked about other things. We told each other things from our past…..Teresa all the way home all I could think about is how much I love you. Scott told me by not making love to that whore showed me how much I love you. Our wedding night is the only time we’ve had together since we got married. The bullet in my back kept us apart in that way, then Scott getting kidnapped kept us apart longer. I have no excuse for what I did Teresa…..You had a right to know……and all I can ask is that you can hopefully forgive me. I’ll understand if you can’t….just don’t take Paul away from me…..please.”

Teresa stood up and walked over to a support beam. Turning around to face him. “ You didn’t have to tell me, but I’m glad you did. Honesty is the best thing for a marriage.” she said as she walked back over to him. “ Johnny…I’m a little hurt that you did it…..but I’m glad you didn’t go thru with it. It took a lot to tell me what happened….and didn’t happen.”

“ I’ll understand if you don’t want me to touch you ever again.” he said.

Teresa walked over to him and wrapped her arms around his waist. “ I need you, and want you inside me Johnny.” she said as he ran her hands down between his legs and rubbed him. Moaning when she felt his hardness.

Johnny took her hand in his. “ Here or you want to go to the house?”

Teresa guided him to the back of the barn into the darkness. “ Here to start.” she said as she removed her dress.


Johnny undressed as fast as he could and threw a blanket down on the loose hay. “ I’m going to get you pregnant.” he said as he laid down on top of her and ran his hands over her body, squeezing her breast before running his hand down between her legs and sliding three fingers inside her.

Teresa clung to Johnny as he brought her to climax with his hand. Digging her fingernails into his back as she begged him to enter her. Wrapping her legs around his waist as her body exploded in pure pleasure. “ Johnny……please.” she pleaded.

Johnny reached down and guided himself into her and though wanting to release  as soon as possible, he went slow, moving just right to bring her to a second climax twenty minutes later as his own body exploded and he released deep inside her. Exhausted he dropped his whole weight onto her as he tried to slow his breathing down.

Teresa clung to Johnny as her body slowly stopped shaking. “ Stay inside me please.” she begged.

“ Keep me hard and I will, but we can’t stay out here all night.” Johnny said.

Teresa rolled Johnny over onto his back and started moving her hips. “ We can long enough to do it again.” she said before leaning down and claiming his mouth with hunger, moaning as she felt him getting hard again while still inside her.


“ Can I help you?” Murdoch asked.

“ Mister Lancer I assume? I’m looking for Scott Garrett.” the man said.

“ That’s my son. He’s inside. Please come in.”

“ Mister Dawson….what are you doing here?” Scott asked.

“ Mister Garrett….It’s good to see you again.”

“ This is my father Murdoch Lancer, and my little brother Johnny and his wife Teresa.” Scott said. “ This is Bradley Dawson, grandfather’s attorney.”

“ Perhaps you need to speak in private?” Murdoch asked.

“ No Murdoch, whatever he has to say he can say in front of all of you.” Scott responded.

“ Why don’t we all sit down at the table?” Teresa suggested. “ I just made a fresh pot of coffee.”

“ The reason I am here Mister Garrett is……”

“ Scott please. I don’t go by Garrett anymore. My last name is Lancer.”

“ Very well sir. A year ago your grandfather made changes in his will. He had come here to see you, but never got the chance to tell you. He had tried again on his second visit, but for whatever reasons he wouldn’t say, he again couldn’t talk to you.” Attorney Dawson explained. “ I’m sorry to have to tell you this…….Your grandfather passed away from a heart attack not long after he returned. He sold all his assets and businesses. His home he left for his servants to live in and a substantial amount of money for them. I am here with a check for the balance of his estate in the amount of half a million dollars made out to you to do with as you see fit.” he said as he took out an envelope and handed it to Scott.

“ How much did you say?” Scott asked.

“ Half a million dollars. Your grandfather was a very successful businessman. As I said, he put all his affairs in order and sold or liquidated everything he owned. This envelope is a letter he wrote a week before he passed away. He asked me to give it to you.”

“ Did he…….Was it?”

“ He went in his sleep. I don’t believe he suffered.” Dawson responded. “ I will need your signature on the receipt if you would please verify the check amount?”

Scott opened the letter and pulled the check out. “ That’s……Half a million dollars is what it’s for.”

Six years later Scott held his first born son and showed him off to his brother.

“ How’s Jennifer doing?” Johnny asked.

“ She’s fine. Doctor said everything went fine.” he responded. “ I wish Murdoch had lived long enough to see him.”

“ Him and his granddaughter.” Johnny said. “ He wanted this place full of grandchildren. I think we’re doing a good job of that.”

“ So do I brother. So do I.” Scott said with a touch of sadness to his voice.

“ You know, I never thought a man like him would be brought down by a stroke.” Johnny said. “ At least he got to see the improvements you made to the ranch.”

“ Let me ask you something little brother…..With all we have been thru and dealt with since coming home, do you have any regrets or is it all water under the bridge?”

“ No regrets about any of it big brother.” Johnny responded. “ It’s all shallow water.”



8 – 16 – 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.

One thought on “Shallow Water by Nancy Marie

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