Design a site like this with
Get started

The Price of Revenge by Nancy Marie

Word count 31,185

I don’t own them, I’m just borrowing them for a little imaginary fun. 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) for language. This story does put Johnny and Teresa together. Sorry but she was not his sister, and I like pairing them together.


Johnny Madrid Lancer
Murdoch Lancer
Scott Garrett Lancer
Teresa O’Brian
Sam Jenkins
Harlan Garrett
Val Crawford


Chapter 1

Murdoch sat at his desk with an open file in front of him. Three years ago his oldest son  came home from Boston. Having been raised by his grandfather, Harlan Garrett the first twenty four years of his life. His first wife Catherine died giving birth to their son twenty five years ago. Now he waited for his boys to come back from town. Harlan Garrett decided to make an unannounced visit to Lancer and Murdoch knew he had a reason. He knew the man would try and get Scott to go back to Boston. The man was ruthless, and would do or try anything to get Scott back.

Then a year after Scott came home, after twenty years of searching, his youngest son just seconds away from being executed had finally been found. A year before, he learned Johnny at the age of ten became orphaned, his mother murdered, the boy had been placed in an orphanage, Murdoch’s heart sank when he read how he had been abused by the other children. Repeatedly running away, only to be found and dragged back to be abused by not only the other children, but the padre who ran the orphanage as well. Locking him in a closet for days on end, beating him, and telling him he was the creation of the devil because of his blue eyes. The last time he ran away, they never found him again. The boy went to the mountains, and two years later emerged as Johnny Madrid, and started building a reputation well known all along the border from Laredo to San Diego as the deadliest, fastest gunfighter in the southwest.

When Johnny came home, he was shocked to learn he had an older brother,but accepted it, and soon you would think the two grew up together the way they bantered back and forth. Often he would sit and watch his sons playing a game of chess in the evening and wonder how his youngest learned to become such a skillful player. There was so much about the boys past he wanted to know about, but Johnny wouldn’t talk about, at least not to him. One thing did weigh heavy on his mind as a father, and that was Johnny’s past as a gunfighter. He had warned that men could come and call him out, try and kill him for his reputation.

Murdoch’s ward Teresa, though not his by blood, he raised like his own daughter. Her father, Paul, had been his foreman for many years when he was killed tragically one day by men stealing a stallion. Teresa having only been twelve at the time, needed a father, someone to raise her. Her own mother having run off when she was a baby, leaving Paul to raise her. Now at almost eighteen, he loved how both his sons treated her like a sister,and became very protective of her like big brothers would do.

Six months after Johnny came home, Murdoch made both boys a third owner of Lancer, and every day since they grew stronger as a family.


Scott stopped the buggy in front of the hotel in Spanish Wells. ” You coming? ” he asked his brother.

” No,you go ahead. I have a couple things to do. I’ll be along. ” Johnny said before riding on down the street.

Scott walked into the hotel.

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

” No thank you. ” Scott said as he looked in the saloon. ” Grandfather! ”

” Scotty. ” Harlan said as he turned.

” How are you sir? ”

” Sit down boy, sit down. Some breakfast? ”

” I had mine at sunup. ”

” Sunup! ”

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

” 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. ”

” Yeah, well we’ll see. ”

” Anymore coffee left? ” Johnny asked as he walked in.

” Johnny. ”

” Well this must be Scotty’ half brother Johnny Madrid? ” Harlan said as he stood up and shook Johnny’s hand.

” We’ll it’s not Madrid anymore sir, it’s Lancer. ”

” Forgive me of course. ”

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

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

” Mexican. ” Johnny said as he suddenly could see why his father disliked this man.

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

” We better get going sir. ” Scott said. He knew his brother wasn’t happy with the man calling his mother a foreigner.

Johnny stayed back from the buggy as they headed back to Lancer. Stopping, he dismounted to let Barranca graze when Scott stopped the buggy on the hill. He remembered the first time he seen it when Teresa stopped the buggy and showed him.

” Lancer? ”  Harlan asked.

” From here all the way to those mountains. ”

” Well I’ve never seen it, but I seem to know it so well. This wilderness. Where 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. ” Scott said as he started to get angry.

” 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. ” Harlan said. ” Let’s get on. ”


Murdoch watched as the buggy pulled up to the house. He could tell there was hostility in the air by the way his youngest came in the house, went to the sideboard and downed a shot of tequila. ” You alright son? ”

Johnny turned to face his father. ” Now I know why you dislike that man. ” Johnny said as Harlan walked into the great room. ” I’m going to work. You coming Scott? ”

” Surely Scotty doesn’t have to work while I am here? I did travel a considerable distance to see him. ” Harlan said.

” This is a working ranch, not one of those zoos you easterners like to keep animals in. ” Johnny said before walking outside.

” That boy could use some manners. ” Harlan said.

” Johnny has manners. ” Scott said. ” Perhaps he wouldn’t be so hostile toward you if you hadn’t said what you had about his mother back at the hotel sir. I’ll see you for supper. ”

” Let’s not waste anymore 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 have got your two sons at your side, this splendid ranch,wealth, everything you want. ”

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

Harlan walked around the desk and picked up a picture of his daughter. ” Dear precious Catherine. I don’t remember this picture. ”

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

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

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

” 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. ” Harlan said as he set the picture down.

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

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

” He was still my son! ”

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

” Now it makes sense why you’re here! ”

Really? ” Harlan asked.

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

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

” He has an estate right here! ”

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

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

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


” You alright brother? ” Johnny asked.

” I’m fine. ” Scott said as he tightened the wire so Johnny could fasten it to the post.

” So why’s he here? ”

” How the hell should I know! ” Scott snapped back.

” Easy Boston. I was just making conversation. ” Johnny said as he started to attach the wire to the post.

Scott yanked on the wire and suddenly causing it to snap from his hand, the wire coiling back around Johnny.

” Damn it Scott, what the hell? ” Johnny yelled as he felt the barbs cut into his flesh.

” Jesus….I’m sorry Johnny. Hold still. ” Scott said as he started to remove the wire. ” I never meant to hurt you. I’m sorry. ” he kept saying as he removed the wire.

Johnny knew his brother was upset about his grandfather being there, and would never hurt him on purpose. ” I know you didn’t do it on purpose. I shouldn’t have been asking you about him. ”

” We need to get you back and get this one on your arm cleaned up. It’s going to need stitches. ”

” Murdoch won’t be happy. ” Johnny said.

” It’s my fault. I never should have yanked on the wire like I did. ” Scott said as they mounted up, and headed to the house.


” Murdoch, where did Mister Garrett go? ” Teresa asked.

” Up to his room to rest before supper. ” he said.

”  I wonder why he came here? ” she asked.

” He’s here to take Scott back to Boston. ” Murdoch said.

” But I thought Scott liked it here? ”

” He does, but that man is vindictive. He’s going to try to get Scott to leave here. I just don;t know how. ” Murdoch said as the boys came into the house.

” Johnny, what happened? ” Teresa asked as she seen the blood.

” Barbed wire snapped back and got me. ” he said.

” Go upstairs and take your shirt off. ” Teresa said before heading to the kitchen.

” How did this happen? ” Murdoch demanded.

” It was my fault sir. ” Scott said. ” Johnny was asking me about why grandfather came here and I got angry and jerked the wire. ”

” That man’s not here half a day and he’s already causing problems. ” Murdoch said.

” Take it easy Murdoch. It was more my fault than his. ” Johnny said.

” He’s here to try and get you to go back to Boston with him son. ”

” I figured as much. ” Scott said as Teresa walked into the room.

” This one on your arm is deep son. It’s going to need stitches. ”

” I sent Frank to get Sam. ” Scott said.

” It has to be your brothers decision. ” Murdoch said. ” I don’t want him to leave either, but he’s a grown man. ”

” Are you going to leave here? ” Johnny asked Scott when he walked back in the room.

” No…..This is my home. I like living here. ” he said. ” Grandfather can try, but I will never leave Lancer. ”


” I had to put five stitches in his arm. ” Sam said. ” He won’t be doing any lifting or anything for about ten days. ”

” I’m sorry Johnny. ” Scott said.

” Would you stop apologizing Boston. It wasn’t your fault. ”

” It was my fault…..but thanks brother. ”

” Can you stay for supper Sam? ” Teresa asked as Harlan came downstairs. ” I made my pot roast that you like so much. ”

” I would love to Teresa. Thank you. ”

” Sam, this is my grandfather, Harlan Garrett. ” Scott said. ” Grandfather, this is Sam Jenkins, the only doctor in the valley, and a very good friend. ”

” Mister Jenkins. ”

” Call me Sam. ”

” Of course. I’m not used to how informal people are out here. ”

” I was in Boston four years ago, and I must say, that is one big city. ” Sam said. ” I don’t think I would like living in a town with that many people. ”

” It does take some getting used to Sam. ” Scott said. ” When I came out here, I couldn’t believe the lack of people. How open and wild it is. ”

” Perhaps tomorrow you could show me around Lancer Scotty? ”

” I can’t sir. That section of fence needs to be finished tomorrow so the cattle don’t get into the sand trap there, and I have other work to do. Especially with Johnny unable to work for about ten days. ”

 ” Oh, why can’t he work? ”

” Supper is ready. ” Teresa said.

” He had a mishap this afternoon. The perils of working on a ranch. ”

” Oh, is that why your arm is bandaged up? ” Harlan asked as they walked over to sit down and eat.

” Barbed wire has a vicious bite if mishandled. ” Johnny said.

” You didn’t have to be so formal because I’m here Miss Teresa. ”

” This is how our meals are every night. ” she said.


Murdoch walked into the great room to find his son looking at the books. ” You looking for something son? ”

” Thought I would look at the paperwork end of a steer. ” Johnny said. ” Is that okay? ”

” It’s fine. I’d be glad to answer any questions you have. ”

” You do the entries weekly or monthly? ”

” I try to do them weekly, but as you know, running a ranch is a full time job. ”

” Yeah. I’ve got an idea that might make it easier to know the expenses. ” Johnny said. ” What if you categorized them. Say wire and post in a column, lumber, feed. You know, split it up. From what I see you have everything together and don’t know what you’re spending on each product every month. ”

” Not to offend you son, but can I ask how you learned something like that? ”

” I worked for a big ranch in Mexico for a year. The owner taught me. ” Johnny responded. ” Give it a try. You can always go back to this way of you don’t like it. ”

” Alright, but only if you help me get it started. ”

” Got nothing else to do for a few days. ”


Harlan walked over to the big bay window in the great room and looked out at the forming storm clouds. ” Looks to be a storm coming up. ”

Johnny looked up from the ledger, glanced at the man, and chose to ignore him. Silently he wished Murdoch would come back. Teresa was busy in the kitchen preparing some kind of eastern dish Garrett requested.

” You don’t care for me much do you John? May I call you John? ” Harlan asked.

” I don’t know you. ” Johnny responded as he sat back in the chair.

” It must have been hard growing up in Mexico without a mother? ” he said as he walked over to the desk. ” Why didn’t you come home when your mother was murdered? ”

” Mister Garrett, I’m not at liberty to be talking to you about my life. ” Johnny said as he stood up. ” It’s none of your business. ” he added as he walked past the man and went to the sideboard.

” Rudeness seems to be something you are good at. ” Harlan said. ” I’m just trying to make pleasant conversation. ”

” I’m busy, so go find someone else to bother. ” Johnny aid as he walked back over to the desk,and sat down.

” Johnny Madrid, orphaned at ten, ran away from the orphanage to the mountains, only to emerge two years later as Johnny Madrid, the deadliest, fastest gunfighter from Laredo to San Diego. ” Harlan said. ” I know more about you than your father has in his twenty years of searching Pinkerton reports my boy. Things I’m sure you wouldn’t want Scotty to know about. ”

Johnny stood up. ” Don’t threaten me old man. ”

” I don’t make threats boy, and I always get what I want. ”

” If you mean Scott going back to Boston with you….forget it. He won’t leave here. ”

” I didn’t come here to get Scotty to go back to Boston with me. I came here to run you off Lancer forever my boy. ” Harlan said. ” You’re a danger to my Scotty, that innocent girl Teresa, and even Murdoch as long as you’re here. ”

” You sonofabitch. ” Johnny said as he stepped over to him.

” Johnny. ” Teresa said. ” What’s wrong? ”

” Go to hell old man. ” Johnny said before walking outside.

” What did you say to Johnny to make him so angry? ”

” I asked a simple question about his childhood and he became angry. I think he was going to strike me had you not came in the room. ” Harlan said.

Teresa knew the man had to have said something more to make Johnny angry enough to want to strike him. Deciding to leave the matter, she went back into the kitchen.

Harlan walked over to the desk and picked up the ledger book Johnny had been working on. ” Never underestimate me half-breed. ” he said as he picked up the pile of receipts, walked over to the fireplace and tossed them into the fire.

” What the hell are you doing? ” Johnny demanded as he hurried over to try and get the receipts out of the flames.

” That’s just the beginning of what I can do to destroy you and get you off this land. ” Harlan said before walking away.

Johnny stood there watching the man walk away. It took every fiber of his being to not beat the man. He knew if he told Murdoch what happened, he wouldn’t believe him. He knew without those expense receipts come tax time, it would cost Lancer.


Scott couldn’t help but notice the somber mood his brother was in when he sat down to supper.

” Everything alright brother? ”

Johnny looked at him. ” I’m fine. ”

” Did you get the books done son? ”

” No. ” Johnny said. ” Something happened. ”

” Oh, well I’m sure we can fix it son. We’ll take a look after supper. ”

” I seriously doubt you can Murdoch. ” Harlan said. ” I seen the boy get angry, take all the receipts and throw them into the fireplace. ”

” Is that true son? ” Murdoch asked.

” No. ”

” You have the audacity to sit there and lie to your father? ” Harlan asked.

” Harlan, stay out of this! ” Murdoch ordered.

” The boy has no proper upbringing and sits there lying to your face……”

” Grandfather…..enough! ” Scott cut in and said.

” He’s nothing but trouble. Mark my word, he will bring trouble to Lancer, and or get someone hurt. ”

Johnny stood up and tossed his napkin on his plate of uneaten food. ” Yeah, I guess you would think that old man. ” he said before heading upstairs.

” Murdoch, I don’t think Johnny did it. ” Teresa said. ” Mister Garrett and him had words and Johnny went outside. ”

” Yes we had words. I asked the boy about his past and he became angry with me. If the young lady hadn’t walked into the room when she had, he would have hit me. ” Harlan said. ” It was after she went back into the kitchen that he came back inside, walked over to the desk, grabbed the receipts and threw them into the fireplace. ”

” I don’t believe that, and you shouldn’t either Murdoch. ” Teresa said. ” Johnny wouldn’t do that. ”

Murdoch looked at Harlan and noticed the slight smirk on the mans face. ” You ever disrespect my son like that again, I will throw you out of this house. ”  Murdoch said firmly as he stood up, and headed up to talk to his youngest to find out what really happened.


Johnny stood looking out his window in total shock at what had just happened. Up until two weeks ago everything had been good between him and his father. Not wanting to hurt his brother was the reason he didn’t speak up. ” Yeah. ”

” Can I talk to you son? ” Murdoch said as he stepped into the room and closed the door.

Johnny walked over and sat down on his bed. ” Nothing to talk about. ”

” I want to know the truth. I want to know what really happened son. ” Murdoch said as he walked over and sat down in a chair. ” Teresa said something happened between you and Harlan before and you went outside angry. He says you came back in and threw them in the fire. ”

” I didn’t do it Murdoch. We did have words. I went outside and when I came back in, he was at the fireplace tossing the receipts in. I  asked him what he was doing and he said that’s just the beginning of what he can do to destroy me, and get me to leave Lancer. ” he explained. ” Murdoch, he said he knows things about me when I was in Mexico that you don’t have in your Pinkerton reports. Things that would make Scott hate me. Murdoch, how in the hell would he know about me being orphaned at ten? ”

” Perhaps Scott said something to him in a letter maybe. ” his father suggested.

” I don’t think Scott would do that. He said it was things you would never find out about in the twenty years you searched for me. He knew I started being Madrid at twelve. I said don’t threaten me, and he said he doesn’t make threats. That he always gets what he wants regardless of the cost. ”

” Why didn’t you say something downstairs son? ”

Johnny gave his father a look that said why.

” Because of Scott. You don’t want to hurt your brother. ”

” I’m sorry Murdoch. ”

” It’s alright son. Just try and stay away from the man if one of us isn’t around. ”

” You think you will ever trust me the way you trust Scott? ”

” Come back downstairs and eat supper. ” Murdoch said as he stood up.

” I’m not hungry. ” Johnny said. Once his father left the room he let the tears fall. His question had gone unanswered in words, but it spoke volumes in answer. His father would never trust him like he did Scott.


Johnny took his time clearing the brush from Cantua creek. Supper time he spoke very little, and avoided his brother whenever possible since the ledger book incident. Hearing a horse approaching he looked and sighed when he seen who it was. ” Damn. ”

” Is there a reason you’re avoiding me brother? ” Scott asked as he rode up and dismounted.

” I’m not avoiding you Scott. ” he said.

Scott stepped closer and grabbed his arm. ” I think you are. Ever since the ledger incident, you hardly talk to me. At supper time you avoid any conversation, and when asked a question, your answer is short and directed to Murdoch. Now I want to know what the hell is going on Johnny? ”

” Leave it alone Scott. It’s for the best. ” Johnny said firmly before jerking his arm free.

” Why do you have to be so damn secretive about every fucking thing? ” Scott demanded.

” I’m not being secretive about anything Scott. Leave it alone. It’s for the best. ”

” For the best tells me something happened between you and grandfather before the receipts were thrown in the fireplace. ” Scott said. ” What did he say to you? Talk to me Johnny……please. ”

Johnny told his brother everything said that day between him and Harlan. The threats made, and who really threw the receipts into the fireplace. When he was finished, he waited for his brother to explode.

” I’m sorry brother. I never thought grandfather would stoop that low. ” Scott said. ” Listen to me….I don’t ever want anything to come between us again. You’re my brother, and I don’t want to lose you. ”


Harlan watched as Scott and Johnny bantered back and forth while playing a game of chess. Deep down inside it angered him how well the two got along. He knew if he could get rid of Johnny, he could get his grandson to go back to Boston  with him where he belonged.

” Checkmate Boston. ” Johnny said.

” One of these days you are going to show me how you beat me so easy brother. ” Scott said with a smile.

” Maybe. It’s getting late. I think I’ll turn in now. See you in the morning. ” Johnny said as he headed to the stairs.

” Goodnight son. ”

” Goodnight brother.”

” Goodnight Johnny. ” Teresa said.

                                                                                  Chapter 2

” Murdoch, could you take me into town to get some things? ” Teresa asked.

” I can’t sweetheart. Ask Johnny, he’s outside. ”

” I could take the young lady to town. ” Harlan said.

” No thank you. ” Teresa said before heading outside to ask Johnny.

” It would seem rudeness is abundant in this house Murdoch. ” Harlan said.

” She wasn’t being rude, and I’m not about to let her go with you to town. ” Murdoch said right before a shot could be heard.

” Murdoch!…..Murdoch Teresa’s been shot! ” he heard his son yelling.

Murdoch hurried outside to find Teresa on the ground as blood spread across her left shoulder.

” Take care of her! ” Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle and took off.

” Walt, go get Sam and find Scott! ” Murdoch ordered as he picked Teresa up and took her inside.

” What can I do Murdoch? ” Harlan asked.

” Nothing, get out of here… ” Murdoch ordered.

Sam came into the room a short time later. ” Let me in there Murdoch. ”

” You got here fast. ” Murdoch said as he stepped aside.

” I was headed back to town when Walt found me. What do we have? ”

” She was shot. The bullet creased her arm. ” Murdoch explained.

” Alright. Go downstairs while I clean this up. ”


Johnny rode to the treeline where the shot came from and dismounted. Walking around he found a rifle shell casing from where the shot came from. Looking toward the house, he seen whoever shot had a clear view from the stand of oak trees. Mounting up, he rode out in circles looking for tracks, and found them heading east. ” I don’t know who you are, but when I find you, you’re a dead man. ” he said aloud as he followed the tracks.


Murdoch went to the sideboard and poured a shot of scotch.

” When are you going to realize having that half-breed here is putting everyone on this ranch in danger Murdoch? ” Harlan demanded. ” That could have been my Scotty shot. ”

” What happened? ” Scott demanded as he hurried into the great room.

” Teresa was shot. ” Murdoch said. ” Luckily it was only a crease in her right arm. Sam is upstairs now stitching it up. ”

” Shot by who? ” he asked.

” Shot by someone wanting to kill that half-breed brother of yours! ” Harlan spat. ” Your half-breed brother got that innocent young lady shot! ”

” Someone gunning for Johnny shot Teresa. ”

” How do you know it was someone gunning for Johnny? ”

” Because he was the only one with Teresa when she was shot. ” Murdoch said.

” So you assumed it’s his fault? Without evidence, you accused Johnny? ”

” Scotty…….”

” My name is Scott….not Scotty. ” Scott cut in and said with anger. ” Ever since you came here you have tried everything you could to make Murdoch angry with Johnny. To get him to leave Lancer thinking I would go back to Boston with you. Well let me tell you something grandfather, I am not going back to Boston…..ever. ”

” You stay here and that half-breed with get you killed. ” Harlan said with anger.

” Johnny is my brother, and there’s not a damn thing you can ever do to change that. ” Scott said with anger.


Sam came downstairs. ” She has three stitches in her arm, and won’t be able to use it for a while. Other than that, Teresa will be fine. ”

” You were lucky this time Murdoch, but what about next time? What is it going to take for you to realize the danger everyone here is in as long as that boy is here? ” Harlan asked.

” What is he talking about? ” Sam asked.

” Teresa was with Johnny when she was shot. ”

” Surely you’re not blaming him for this? ” Sam asked.

” He was the only with her when she was shot Sam. ”

” You got no call putting the blame on Johnny. ” Scott said. ” Can I see her Sam? ”

” I gave her some laudanum for the pain, she’s resting. ”


Johnny rode up to the house just after dark and dismounted. Walking inside, he found his father and Harlan in the great room. ” How’s Teresa? ”

” She’ll be fine. It was just a crease. ” Murdoch said. ” Where did you go? ”

” Where did I go? I went after the shooter Murdoch. ”

”Who is it Johnny? ” Murdoch asked with anger.

” What? ”

” Who is gunning for you? ”

” Don’t put this on me. ” Johnny said. ” You don’t know it was me the shooter was after! ”

” Who the hell else would it be boy? You were the only one out there with her. You’re the damn gunfighter. ”

” Why don’t you ask that old man who it was. I told you what he said about doing whatever he had to do to get me to leave Lancer! ”

” How dare you put this on me boy. I would never do something to cause injury to that young lady. ”

” I’m sorry Teresa was shot. ” Johnny said. ” You know I would never do anything to get her hurt. You also know that when I came here to live, this could happen. That men could show up gunning for me, but this time it’s not me they’re gunning for! Where were you standing when Teresa was shot? ”

” What……Don’t….”

Where were you standing Murdoch? Johnny demanded.

” At the sideboard. I was going to pour a drink! ”

” I found where the shooter fired from. It’s a direct line from there to that window the sideboard is in front of. I found this shell casing. It’s from a Henry forty four forty rifle. ” Johnny explained. ” It’s you they were trying to shoot Murdoch, not me. Teresa was collateral damage. ”

” That’s preposterous. Can’t you see he’s trying to stave off the truth Murdoch? ”

” Believe what you want. ” Johnny said before heading upstairs.


Murdoch stayed up all night doing some serious thinking about the days events. He knew when Johnny came home there would be risk of the boy being called out. He never imagined someone would shoot Teresa. Refusing to believe he was the intended target. He knew it had to be someone gunning for his youngest. He also knew he couldn’t take the risk of someone else getting shot. Opening the safe, he took out the partnership agreement, walked over to his desk, sat down and read every word of it.

Johnny came downstairs before sunrise and found his father sitting at his desk.

” Johnny, come here. I want to talk to you. ”

Johnny sighed. His fathers tone told him whatever it was he wanted to talk to him about, it wouldn’t be good. Walking over he seen a stack of money, the partnership agreement and other papers on the desk.

” I need you to sign this. ”

” Sign what? ” he asked as he got a sick feeling inside.

” Your third of Lancer. ” he said. ” I’m buying you out. There’s five thousand dollars there for your third of Lancer, as well as a bill of sale for Barranca. ”

Johnny stood there in shock. He couldn’t believe what he heard. ” Murdoch…..don’t do this……please. ”

” Don’t make this any harder than it already is for me son. ” Murdoch said. ” This is for the best. ”

Johnny signed the agreement, picked up the receipt, and money, went upstairs and packed just what he would need in his saddlebags. Heading back downstairs, he looked at his father standing there. ” You’re wrong Murdoch. It’s not me, it was you the shooter was shooting at. ”

Murdoch stood at the veranda doors and watched his youngest lead Barranca out of the barn, mount up, and ride away from the only place he had ever known as a home.


Scott walked into the great room. ” Have you seen Johnny? ”

” He’s gone. ” his father said.

” Gone where? ”

” Gone and he won’t be coming back. ”

” What the hell are you talking about? ” Scott demanded. ” What did you do? ”

” Don’t use that tone with me. ” Murdoch said with anger as he stood up. ” I have a responsibility to this ranch and the people who work for me. Teresa was almost killed because of that boy! ”

” You don’t give an inch do you, all pride and Johnny’s cut from the same mold. ”

” I will not stand here and banter with you about this. The matter is closed. ”

” It’s for the best interest of everyone. ” Harlan said.

” Grandfather, I want you to go upstairs and pack. A hand will take you to catch the stage to the train.. ” Scott ordered. ” I don’t ever want to see or hear from you again! ”

” Why are you being hostile toward me my boy? ”

” Why………you dare ask me why sir! ” Scott said with anger. ” You have done nothing but destroy this family since your arrival. You have managed to turn Murdoch against his own son, and run off the only person I love and really care about! ”


Johnny was both hurt and angry at what had just happened. Knowing where the hands would be working, he decided to take out that anger on what Murdoch coveted. By the time the sun set, all the fence around South Mesa had been cut, and numerous post destroyed. After dark is when he really hurt his father. Yanking down the fence at Black Mesa, he spooked the cattle into Cedar Canyon, where he knew it would take weeks to recover them, and fix the fence.

Johnny rode into Spanish Wells two days after leaving Lancer. he needed to know how Teresa was doing before he left the valley forever. Walking out of the bank an hour later, Johnny rode Barranca around the back of Sam’s office. Dismounting, he tethered Barranca and opened the back door. Listening, he heard no noise as he slowly walked to the front.

” Hello Sam. ”

” Johnny, you startled me. What are you doing here? ”

” I wanted to see you before I leave. ” Johnny said. ” I guess you’ve heard what’s happened? ”

” Scott said Murdoch made you leave. ”

” He forced me to leave Sam. He forced me to leave the only home I have ever known. ” Johnny said. ” He blamed me for Teresa being shot. I told him it wasn’t me the shooter was after. ”

” You said it wasn’t you the shooter was after. ”

” It’s him. I rode out and found where the shot was fired from. The shooter used a sharps rifle. ”

” Did you tell him this? ” Sam asked.

” I did, but he wouldn’t listen. He made me sign over my third of Lancer, and leave peacefully, or I would be escorted off the land. ”

” I’m sorry John. What are you going to do now? ”

” I’ve already done it. ”

” I mean with your life? ”

” I’m not going down south Sam. I’ve given that up. ” Johnny said. ” Maybe western Colorado. I’ve heard it’s got good land for stock. Maybe build me a log cabin along the river somewhere, find me a woman and have a family. ”

” You keep in touch John. ” Sam said as he shook his hand.

” Tell Teresa I’m sorry I never got to say goodbye to her, and tell Scott he’s everything a big brother should be. ” he said as he held out his hand. ” You’ve been a good friend Sam. Thank you. ”


” Mister Lancer, someone cut all the fence and destroyed several post at South Mesa and destroyed the fence up at Black Mesa too. ” Walt said.

” they also scattered the cattle into Cedar Canyon. ” Frank added.

” They did what? ” Murdoch demanded. ” Damn him, damn that…..Get men started repairing the fences and finding the cattle. ”

” Yes sir. ”

” Damn him. It will take weeks to round all them up out of there. ”

” What’s wrong? ” Scott asked as he walked out of the house.

” Your brother destroyed fence and scattered the cattle into Cedar Canyon is what’s wrong. ”

” Do you know it was Johnny who did it? ”

” Don’t you dare stand there and question me. I know damn well he did it. ” Murdoch said with anger before going back inside.

Scott couldn’t help but smile at what his brother did. Even though it meant work for him and the hands, he really couldn’t fault him for doing it.


” Murdoch, why did Johnny really leave? ” Teresa asked three days later.

” I don’t wish to discuss that matter with you, and I don’t want that name mentioned in this house ever again. ” he said firmly.

” I have a right to know. ”

” He ran him off Teresa. ” Scott said. ” He made him sign over his third of Lancer. ”

” Why? It wasn’t his fault I was shot! ”

” Yes it was. I never should have brought him here. ”

” You spent twenty years looking for him. ”

” I don’t want to discuss this anymore. ”


” Murdoch, what brings you here? ” The bank manager Jim asked.

” I need to make changes to the account. ”

” Okay, come on into my office. ”

Murdoch walked into the office and sat down.

” What changes we talking about? ” Jim asked as he closed the door, and walked around his desk to sit down.

” I need Johnny removed from the account. ” Murdoch said flatly. ” He’s no longer a third owner of Lancer. ”

” Okay, I’m sorry to hear that. Do you have a copy of the new partnership agreement removing him? ”

” No. ”

” Murdoch, I’m sorry, but my hands are tied. I can’t remove either one of your sons from the Lancer business account without a paper from your lawyer that makes it legal. ”

” Even though I’m the primary account holder? ”

” Yes. Until you change the paperwork with the lawyer, your sons have a right to take money from the account. ”

” I will also need you to have ready, twenty thousand dollars! ” Murdoch said with as he stood up. ” I’ll be back with that paper Monday morning. ”


Johnny stopped Barranca next to a stream in the Sierra mountains. Outfitted with two pack-horses, an extra mount and provisions to last a couple weeks, he decided to make camp for the night early since a storm from the west would catch him by dark.  Johnny didn’t want to push the horses in the mountains, in a storm. He had all the time in the world to get to where he decided to go. Once there, and settled, he would write Sam and let him know. Running a rope between two trees, he secured the horses. Once he had them settled he set about making camp for the night. Gathering enough wood for the night, he got a fire started, and brewing a pot of coffee. By the time he had his tent set up  the coffee was done.

As he started preparing his supper, he couldn’t help but start thinking about Scott and Teresa, wondering how she was doing. ” Sure do miss your cooking Teresa. ” he said aloud as he set about cooking some bacon and beans. ” Your biscuits would sure taste good right now. ”


Murdoch dismounted in front of lawyer Randall’s office and froze.

” Hello Murdoch. I bet I’m the last person you ever expected to see again? ”

” Ian Griffin, when did you get out? ”

” Two months ago. Took some time to track you down. I told you I would make you pay when I got out, and I will. Shooting the girl was an accident. It was you I was aiming at standing in front of the window. ”

” You sonofabitch. You could have killed her. ” Murdoch said with anger.

” She your daughter? ”

” My ward, but she’s like a daughter to me. ”

” You want to live, and want me to go away, it will cost you. Now I can’t help but think with all that land you have. That big ranch, you got some money. ” Ian said. ” So I’ll tell you what, to keep breathing, it will cost you…..twenty thousand dollars. That’s a thousand dollars for every year I spent in that hell hole prison. It’s Friday, I want the money by noon Monday, or it will be your son Scott who I put in my sights next time. ” he said before walking away.

Murdoch stood there watching the man walk away.

” Murdoch, what brings you here so early? ” Randall asked as he unlocked his door.

Murdoch followed the man inside. ” I need the partnership agreement changed. I need Johnny’s name taken off it. ”

” Oh, has he signed off his third of Lancer? ”

” Yes, last week. I made him……..I paid him five thousand dollars. ” Murdoch said as he took out the paper and handed it to him. ” I need the new agreement done up now. ”

” I’ll draw up another agreement, but it ill take time. ”

” I need it done now. You can write up a draft now. ”

” Why are you in such a hurry to have this done? ”

” I need the new agreement so I can have Johnny removed from the bank account. ”

” I’m sorry this happened Murdoch. Give me an hour and I’ll have it done. It will need Scott’s signature to make it valid. ” Randall said. ” Or are you having him removed also? ”

” Just Johnny. ” Murdoch said. ” I’ll be back in an hour. ”


” Scott, I want to leave here. ” Teresa said. ” I can’t stay here anymore. I want to go find Johnny. ”

” So do I. ” he said. ” I’ll check with Sam and see if he knows anything. ”

” So you’ll go with me? ”

” Yes. I just hope he didn’t go back down along the border. I’ll ride in and talk to Sam tomorrow. ” he responded. ” But you know, you are his ward until you turn twenty one. ”

” Twenty one,or get married. ” she said. ” We could tell Murdoch we got married and he wouldn’t know. We can leave now while he’s gone to Green River. We can go to Spanish Wells to see Sam, and when we come back, we can tell him. ”

” Tell him what exactly? ” Scott asked.

” The truth. That we got married so I can leave here with you and he can’t stop me. ”

” Teresa….do you have feelings for Johnny? ”

” I don’t know Scott…..maybe. I do know I want to be with him. ”

” Okay. I’ll go saddle two horses. ”

” I’ll be ready in ten minutes. ”


Murdoch walked out of the bank just over an hour later. Looking at his watch he seen it was now noon.

” You get the money? ” Ian asked from behind him.

” Yes. Take it and get he hell out of here! ” Murdoch said as he turned around and handed the money to him.

” It’s been a pleasure doing business with you. ” Ian said.

Murdoch mounted up and rode out of town, leaving the man standing there.


” Scott, Teresa, what are you doing riding young lady? ”

” We need to talk to you Sam. It’s important. ” she said as they walked into his office.

” I expect this is about Johnny? ” Sam asked.

” We need to know if you know where he went Sam? ” Scott said.

” He did come see me and he assured me he was not going back south. That he was done with that kind of life. ”

” Did he mention anything to you that would tell us where he went? ” Teresa asked.

” He said he was going to go to western Colorado, buy some land, build a log cabin, and have a family if he can find a woman to be his wife. ” Sam said.

” He was telling me last winter he’d been there once and liked it. Said the winters aren’t that bad. ” Scott said.

” I want to leave Lancer Sam. ” Teresa said. ” We’ve come up with a plan we think Murdoch will believe. ”

” I’m listening. ”

” We’re going to tell Murdoch that we got married today. That way I can leave Lancer. ” she explained.

” I never thought after twenty years of searching…..I never thought he would break that boys heart like he did. ” Sam said. ” You should have seen the hurt in his eyes Scott. ”

” Johnny had some fun before he left. He cut a lot of fences and scattered the cattle into Cedar Canyon. Murdoch was furious. ” Scott said with a smile.

” You young lady……you have feelings for John don’t you? ”

” Why do you ask that? ” she asked.

” The look you got when I told how he wants to find a woman to love him, and start a family. ” Sam said. ” I may be an old country doctor, but I can see the signs. You’re in love with that young man. ”

” I think so too Sam. ” Scott said.


” You’re going to like it where we’re going amigo. Fresh clean water, green grass that comes up to your belly. ” Johnny said as he saddled Barranca. ” You know amigo,I still would have taken you with me if he hadn’t given me a bill of sale. You’re the best horse I’ve ever had buddy. ” he said as he rubbed the stallions face.

 ” Buy us some land, and build a log cabin to live in with a nice sturdy barn for you. Maybe even get lucky and find a woman willing to want me and give me a family. ”

Walking over he checked both pack-horses and his extra mount, a beautiful dark colored sorrel mare with a long flowing flaxen tail and a long mane that went below her neck on both sides. About the same size and age as Barranca, he hoped when he allowed the two to breed, he would get another beautiful Palomino. Making sure he kept Barranca away from the mare until the right time.

” Lets go to Colorado. ” he said as he mounted up.


” Where the devil you two been? ” Murdoch demanded as Scott, Teresa and Sam walked into the house. 

” We went to Spanish Wells. ” Scott said. ” And got married. ”

” You did what? ” Murdoch demanded.

” Teresa is my wife, and we will be leaving here. ”

” Like hell you will. She is my ward and I will not permit this. ”

” You can’t stop us. ” Teresa said. ” The law states that I am your ward until I’m twenty one, or I get married, whichever comes  first, at which time I am free to leave Lancer. You have become a horrible man Murdoch Lancer. You searched twenty years for Johnny and in a matter of seconds you destroyed his dream, and threw him to the wolves. I want nothing more to do with you. ”

” I won’t allow this. I’ll go to the courts and have this marriage annulled due to your being under age young lady. The law will see it my way.”

” Go ahead and try. You can’t stop us from leaving here. ” Scott said. ” We’re leaving here tonight. Go get what you need Teresa. I’ll sign over my third of Lancer. I want nothing to do with it or you. ”

Murdoch stood in the yard watching them ride away thirty minutes later.

Scott stopped his horse once they were off Lancer land. ” We’ll buy what we need in town, go to Sacramento and catch the train east. ”


Johnny rode into Salt Lake City, Utah, cold, wet and tired. For the past two days it had rained relentlessly on him. Boarding the horses he went to the hotel and got a room. After a long hot bath and shave, he headed to the saloon for a drink. Walking into the saloon, he looked around and found it almost empty. Three men sat at a table playing poker, two other men stood at the bar engaged in a conversation as they drank a beer. Walking over to a table in the corner, he sat down as a woman walked over to him.

” What can I get ya stranger stranger? ” she asked.

” Beer and a shot of whiskey. ”

” You got it. ” she said before walking away.

Johnny couldn’t help but notice how she shook her butt when she walked away. When she came back, he noticed how her breast all but hang out of her chemise.

” Like what ya see stranger? ” she asked.

” Maybe. ” Johnny said.

” Don’t get many strangers in town this time of year. ” she said.

” Just stopped to get out of the weather ma’am. ”

” Yeah, you want some company it’ll only cost ya five dollars. That allows you to take as many pokes as you can handle in an hour. ” she said bluntly.

” Five dollars huh? That’s a lot of money for an hour. ” he said before downing the shot. ” I’m not looking for female company tonight. Just a drink and a warm bed. ”

” I can make your bed warm. ” she said.

” I’m sure you could, but like I said, I’m not looking for female company tonight. ” he said as he stood up and walked out of the saloon.


” Do you think he’ll be in Salt Lake? ” Teresa asked as they rode the train east.

” It’s been two weeks. If he’s going to Colorado, he would have to pass through there, and get supplies.”

” Can I ask why you agreed to do what you did? ”

” Because you deserve to be happy, and I felt the way Murdoch has become, you wouldn’t be happy there. ” he said. ” You deserve to be happy Teresa, so does Johnny, but let me ask you this. Have you given it any thought to what you will do if he doesn’t love you? ”

” No….I guess I haven’t. ”

” Well, like I said, you deserve to be happy. ”

” What do you look for in a woman? ”

Scott smiled. ” Maturity, my age, maybe a year younger. Slender, a brunette with a great personality. ”

” That seems simple enough. I’m sure you will find someone when you start looking. ” she said. ” Did you have anyone back in Boston? ”

” I had lady acquaintances, but one I really liked. Her name was Julie. We were even engaged once. ”

” You were! What happened? ”

” He father forbid our marriage because of my grandfather. It seems a business deal went bad between them, and Julie was sent away. ”

” I’m sorry. I think if we can find Johnny, all three of us can start a new life in Colorado. ”


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

” We’d like a room with two beds please. ” Scott said.

” Very well. How long will you be staying? ”

” I’m not sure. Were looking for my brother, he may have already arrived here. ”

” Well, we are the only hotel to have rooms with full water-closets for the guest.” the man said. ” I’ll just need you to sign the register. ”

Scott signed the register and noticed his brothers name from the day before. He had signed the register as Johnny Lancer.

” What’s your brothers name? ”

Scott took a gamble and hoped it was the right one. ” Johnny Lancer. ”

” Oh yes, Mister Lancer is a guest here. I can give you the room next to his. It has two beds for you and the young lady. ”

” Thank you. How much? ”

” That will be four dollars for the both of you. ”

Scott paid for the room. ” Is he in his room? ”

” His keys gone, and I haven’t seen him come down yet. I imagine he’s sleeping. ” the man said as he gave Scott a key.

” Thank you. ”

                                                                                    Chapter 3

Johnny was woke up to someone pounding on his door. Getting up, he slipped on his pants, grabbed his colt and jerked the door open.

” What? ” Johnny asked with anger at being woke up. ” Scott! ”

” Hey brother. ”

Johnny grabbed his brother and pulled him inside as he hugged him. ” How the hell did you find me? ”

” We talked to Sam. ” he said.

” We? ”

” Hello Johnny. ” Teresa said as she stepped into the room.

” Teresa. ” Johnny said barely above a whisper

Teresa walked over to Johnny. ” You never said goodbye. ” she said.

Johnny pulled her into a hug. ” I never dreamed I would see you again. ” he said as he gave her several kisses on her forehead and cheek.

” Oh I missed you. ” she said.

” Little brother, why don’t you get dressed so we can go get something to eat and talk? ” Scott asked.

” Okay, go on downstairs and I’ll be down as soon as I get dressed. ” Johnny said.

Walking into the hotel dining room fifteen minutes later, he smiled as he walked over and sat down with the two people he thought he would never see again.

” Talk. ” he said as he smiled at Teresa.

” Sam said you were going to Colorado to build a log cabin and live, so we thought we would join you. ” Scott said.

” I told Sam I was going to buy land, build a cabin and find me a woman to love me and give me a family. ” he said as he looked right at Teresa.

” I remember what you told me about Colorado last winter, and since we have nothing better to do. ”

” How did you get away from Murdoch? You’re his ward until you turn twenty one. ”

” We told him we got married, and we were leaving Lancer, and he couldn’t stop us. ” Teresa said.

” Married……you two got married? ”

” No brother. We only told him that so she could get away from him. ”

” He’s changed Johnny. He’s become bitter. He yells at the hands a lot for everything. ”

” Nice work by the way on the fence and cattle. ” Scott said.

” I was angry. I shouldn’t have done it. ”

” Actually I’m a bit surprised you didn’t do more than you did. ”

” He had it coming for what he did to you Johnny. ” Teresa said.

” How’s your arm? ”

” It’s fine. I’ll have a scar, but at least now I know what you feel, well sort of when you get shot. ”

” You have a white hot pain, and copper smell from the blood. ”

” How long were you staying here? ” Scott asked.

” I was planning on leaving in a day or two. Giving my horses a rest. I have Barranca, two pack horses and a beautiful mare I’m going to breed him to for an extra mount. We can pick up another pack horse or two and horses for you two before we leave. ” Johnny said. ” You’ll need good winter clothes too. We’ll be riding into snow soon, and it can get pretty cold. ”


” Murdoch, what do you want? I’m a busy man. ” Sam said.

” Did you know about it? ”

” About what? ”

” Scott and Teresa? ”

” I’m not at liberty to tell you a damn thing Murdoch Lancer. ” Sam said firmly. ” Now if you don’t mind, kindly leave. ”

Murdoch glared at Sam a few seconds before turning and storming out f his office. Walking over to Randall’s office he had the partnership agreement canceled. Scott willingly signed over his third of Lancer before leaving. Now he had nobody to leave his legacy too.  Except for Teresa being gone too, he was back to being alone in the big house. Mounting up, he rode out of Spanish Wells a man with a broken heart that would never heal.


” She’s beautiful. ” Teresa said as she walked over to watch Johnny brushing the mare.

” Got her in Modesto along with the two pack-horses. I’m hoping she’ll give good foals. She’s young and her color with Barranca’s should produce some beautiful foals. ” he said as he walked around to brush the left side. ” You leave Scott to do supper? ”

” For a few. I told him I needed to talk to you alone for a few. ”

” Talk to me about what? ”

” What you said you’re looking to have in Colorado. ” she said. ” I want that too Johnny, and I want it with you. ”

Johnny stopped brushing the mare and looked at her. ” You sure about that Teresa? ”

” I’m sure. ” she said.

Johnny dropped the brush and walked over to her. Placing his right hand under her chin, he slowly lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her gently on the lips.

” I’ve dreamed of the day you finally kissed me Johnny. ” she said softly.

Johnny smiled before kissing her again. Running his tongue over her bottom lip before sliding it inside, moaning as he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her to him. After what seemed like forever, he broke off the kiss before he got carried away. ” Does Scott know how you feel about me? ”

” He does. That’s why he helped me find you. I want to be happy, and I can only do that if I’m with you. ”

Johnny kissed her again, moaning as he tasted her.

” Would you marry me? ”

” Yes. ” Teresa said. ” Yes I will marry you Johnny, and I will give you children. ”

Johnny picked her up and spun her around. ” I’m going to make you my wife the next town we come to. ”

” How far is the next town? ” she asked after he put her down.

” Green River, about twenty miles. ”

” This snow is making it hard to see where we are going Johnny. ” Scott said the next morning. ” How do we know we’re still following the river? ”

” Trust your horse Boston. ” Johnny said.

” My horse? ”

Johnny stopped Barranca. ” He knows where there’s food and warmth. He’s not going to walk off into the cold river. ”

” I hope you’re right, because right now I can’t feel my feet. ”


” Murdoch. ” Jim Pierpoint said as he climbed down from the buggy.

” What are you doing here? ”

” Can we go inside to talk? ”

Murdoch walked into the great room.

” You’re delinquent on your loan payment to the bank. The board want to know why and so do I? ”

” I’ve had some problems. ”

” Murdoch, you wouldn’t be in this predicament if you hadn’t taken out twenty thousand dollars. The board want their money back. I’m sorry but since you have made no payment, they want their money back in full. ” Jim said.

” They can’t do that to me! ”

” They can and they will Murdoch. They feel Lancer is no longer a sound investment. They wanted you to have the money in full in ten days, but I talked them into giving you thirty days. At which time if it’s not paid in full, The bank will take possession, and Lancer will go up for auction. ”

” Get out of my house! ” Murdoch ordered. ” Get the hell out of my house now! ”


” You folks look half froze. ” the livery owner said.

” How much to board all them? ” Johnny asked as he helped Teresa dismount. ” Hang on to your horse until you get your legs back. ”

” I got a good stove in the office. The young lady can go sit in there and warm up. ” he suggested.

” Thank you. ”

” Ten horses and gear will be four bits a horse if you want them to have hay and grain it will be six bits a horse. ”

” Just four horses in the barn. The rest can go in your corral out back. ” Johnny said as he helped Teresa into the office to warm up.

” That’s a good looking mare and stallion. Take your pick of stalls. I got a small room at the back you can put your pack gear in so nobody bothers it. ” the man said. ” Three dollars a day for the four inside with hay and grain, and four dollars a day for the six in the corral with hay only. ”

Johnny pulled some money from his saddlebag. ” Here’s twenty. We’ll be here at least two days. I want the mare kept away from the stallion. ”

” She can go in the first stall on the left if you want? ”

An hour later, Johnny, Scott and Teresa walked into the hotel.

” How many nights will you be with us Mister…….Garrett? ”

” It depends on the storm, at least two days. ” Scott said.

” Very well. I have two rooms available, one with two beds and a single in the other. ”

” We just need two rooms with one bed in each. ” Johnny said. ” You have a bathhouse here? ”

” We do, it’s at the end of the hall. The door locks from the inside so the young lady will be perfectly safe as she takes a bath. ”

” Is there a church or preacher in town who can perform a marriage? ” Teresa asked.

” No ma’am, but we do have a sheriff who is the justice of the peace also. ”

” So you two are really going to do it? ” Scott asked as he paid for the rooms.

” Tonight if we can. ” Johnny said with a smile.


” Congratulations brother, Teresa. ” Scott said. ” I think I am going to go to my room and sleep until spring. ”

Johnny walked Scoot to the door. ” Thanks brother. I’ll see you tomorrow. ”

” Goodnight. ” Scott said before leaving.

Johnny closed and locked the door. Pressing his head against the door, he closed his eyes. ” I never dreamed this would ever happen. ”

Teresa walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around him. ” I’ve been dreaming of this night ever since I realized I loved you Johnny. ” she said as her hands started undoing his pants.

Johnny turned around and started undoing the buttons on the front of her dress as she undressed him. He had already removed his boots earlier. ” Are you afraid of what’s going to happen? ” he asked.

Teresa looked into his eyes and smiled. ” A little, but I know you will teach me how to make you happy. ”

Johnny pushed her dress off her shoulders so it would drop to the floor. ” God you’re so beautiful. ” he said as he looked at her naked body for the first time. ” I have to say, I’ve had some pretty good dreams of making you mine. ”

” And tonight those dreams will come true for both of us. ” she said as she pushed his pants down.

” You okay? ” he asked two hours later as he held her in his arms.

” I’m fine. ” she said.

” Yes you are. ” Johnny said as he rubbed her stomach. ” I can’t wait to feel our child inside you. ” he said as he started to make love to her again.


” We making camp here? ” Teresa asked.

” Yeah. This place will give us shelter from the wind and snow. ” Johnny said as he dismounted. ” Gather some wood up and get a fire going under the cliff while me and Scott take care of the horses. ”

An hour later, Johnny and Scott had the horses taken  care of.

” You okay? ”

” I’m fine. The coffee should be ready in a few. ” Teresa said.

” I love you. ” Johnny said as he put his arms around her, and gave her a hug. ” I never thought I would be happy again. ”

Teresa wrapped her arms around his neck. ” I love you Johnny. ” she said before kissing him.

Johnny slid his tongue in her mouth and moaned when she pushed him away. ” Aah querida. ”

” Later. ” Teresa said. ” I need to start or supper. ”

Scott laughed softly as he poured two cups of coffee. ” Give it up brother. You’ve lost. ”

Johnny gave his brother a puzzling look. ” Does marriage change a woman? ” he asked.

Scott handed him a cup of coffee. ” Never been married to know, but from what I’ve observed, it does. ”

” Thanks. ” Johnny said.

” Johnny, there’s a rider coming. ” Teresa said.

Johnny and Scott looked to see a lone rider coming through the canyon toward them. ” Easy Scott. ”

” Well I will be damned! ”

” You already are old man. ” Johnny said. ” How the hell are you Val? ”

” It’s snowing, I’m cold and half froze. How the hell you think I am kid! ” Val said as he got down and they shook hands.

” Scott, Teresa, this is a very good friend of mine, Val Crawford. ” Johnny said. ” Val, this is my brother Scott, and my wife Teresa. ”

” Your wife? Damn kid, I leave ya alone for four years and ya go and get hitched. ” Val said. ” Last time I seen ya, them Rurales caught ya, and was taking you to prison to be executed. How ya do ma’am. Did you say brother? ”

” I did. It’s a long story. Let me take care of your horse while you got sit down and drink some hot coffee. ”

” I’ll get his horse Johnny. ” Scott said.

” Start talking kid. It’s going to be a long cold night. ”

Johnny told Val everything that happened to him since they had last seen each other.

” That was a right fine meal ma’am. ” Val said as he set his plate down. ” You gonna teach her how ta make skillet coffee? ”

” No. ” Johnny said firmly. ” What are you doing so far north of the border? ”

” Comin back from Montana. Had me a job up there and thought I could get back south before the snow. ” Val said. ” How about you? This ain’t no place to have a new bride. ”

” She’s tougher than she looks Val. ” Johnny said. ” Headed to Colorado to buy some land, build a log cabin hme and raise a family. ”

” Colorado……You still wanting to have that horse ranch? ”

” Yeah. That mare and my stud are the start. Why? ”

” You never been ta Montana have ya kid? ”

” Never had a reason to go that far north. ”

” Well let me give ya one. ” Val said as he poured another cup of coffee. ” Kid, the grass up there is so damn tall. It comes up past a horses belly. There’s plenty of timber ta build a thousand cabins. Water so clear you can use it as a mirror. The mountains reach right up into the clouds. It’s the perfect place to set up a horse ranch. ”

” Montana is a big state. ” Scott said.

” Yeah, where? ” Johnny added.

” Take yur pick, west side has plenty of timber and water. East side has plains, rivers and very little timber. ”

Johnny stood up. ” It all sounds good, but it’s not just me to make the decision. ”

” Winters can be brutally cold up there. ” Scott said. ” But with a good solid cabin to keep the cold out, I see no difference between Colorado and Montana brother. ”

” What about you Teresa? ”

” As long as I’m with you, I’m happy. ”

” It’s over seven hundred miles there. It would take a month or longer to get there. ” Johnny said. ” You go with us? ”

” Now why the heck would I want to do that? ”

” Because someone needs to keep you out of trouble, and you’re getting to damn old to be traipsing around from job to job. ”

Johnny responded.

” That pretty wife of yours promises me she’ll feed me good like tonight, I’ll go. ”

” Alright, we’ll head back to Green River in the morning.

” You know, we can take the train from Salt Lake up to Butte, and then another train to Missoula. ”

” How far is Salt lake from Green River? ” Teresa asked.

” Less than two hundred miles. ” Johnny responded. ” Basically we’ll go back the way we came. ”

” We can secure a car for the stock. ” Scott said.

” Ten horses, that won’t be cheap. ” Johnny said.

” I’ll pay for the stock and our tickets. ” Scott said.

” It’s getting late. I think I will turn in now. ” Teresa said. ”

” That’s a right fine woman you have kid. I’m happy for ya. ” Val said.


Murdoch sat at his desk trying to figure out how to get the money to pay back the loan.

” Murdoch. ” Agatha Conway said as she walked into the great room.

” Aggie, what are you doing here? ” he asked as he stood up and greeted his oldest, dearest friend.

” I came to make you a business offer. One that will save Lancer. ” she said as she removed her riding gloves. ” May I have a cup of coffee? ”

” I’m sorry, of course. ” he said. ” How did you….”

” Jim mentioned it to me. He doesn’t want you to lose what you spent thirty years building up. ”

” You said you have a business offer. ”

” I think we will get some serious snow this winter. ” Aggie said. ” What I want to offer you is this. I will pay off your loan, in full. ”

” I won’t allow you to do that. ”

” Murdoch Lancer, you are my oldest, dearest friend, but I swear sometimes you can be so damn stubborn. ” Agatha said. ”I want to help you because that’s what friends do. ”

” I appreciate that, but I cannot and will not allow you to do it Agatha. ”

” So because of your damn stubborn pride, you’re willing to lose Lancer? ”

” It means nothing to me anymore. I have no sons to leave it too. ”

Agatha stood there in shock, hearing her friend turn down her offer. ” Then I guess that’s it. ” she said before walking out.


” Val, what was Johnny like when you rode together? ” Teresa asked.

” He was a cocky little runt. ” Val said. ” Full of himself. ”

” How did you two meet? ”

” I stumbled on him out on the trail with a bullet in his back. Someone ambushed him, shot him in the back and left him for dead. ” Val explained. ” Buzzards is how I found him. ”

” That’s the only fear I have……Someone who’s faster calling him out. ”

” Was he called out when living with his pappy? ” he asked.

” No. He was so happy to be living the life he was as Johnny Lancer. ”

” What name he going by now? ”

” Lancer. Murdoch took everything away from him that day except Barranca and his birthright name. ” she said. ” He doesn’t want to live that life anymore. ”

” I’m glad he’s getting a second chance at getting out of the game. The kid deserves it. ”

” There’s so much I don’t know about his past. He won’t talk to me or Scott about it. ”

” I mean no disrespect ma’am,but there’s some things better left in the past. ” Val said. ” He has ghost that haunt him because of his past, and sometimes them ghost wakes him up. ”

” What are you two talking about? ” Johnny asked as he walked up behind Teresa and put his arms around her.

” So you two gonna start a family? ”

” That’s the plan. ” Johnny said.


” I’m gonna go check on the horses. ” Johnny said.

” Want some company? ” Teresa asked.

Johnny held out his hand and smiled.

” It’s gonna be cold back there. ” Scott said.

” We’ll be alright. ” Johnny said before heading to the livestock car. He had a plan that wouldn’t have him or his wife feeling the cold.

” He don’t like being cooped up in small spaces. ” Val said.

” I’ve noticed that. Can I ask why? ”

” The orphanage he was put in. They abused that boy. They would lock him in a closet for days at a time. ”

” Why? ”

” The why is easy, his blue eyes. ”

” I heard orphanages were hard, and could be cruel places. I just didn’t know they would be abusive too. ”

” Scott, I can tell Johnny trust you. Give him time and he might tell you some about his past. ”

” I’d give my life for him. ”


Johnny and Teresa walked down the aisle to their seats when a woman stopped Johnny.

” Shameful, you going off with an innocent young lady without a chaperon! ” a woman said.

Johnny stopped. ” Excuse me? ”

” You heard me. A young lady does not go off with the likes of you without a proper chaperon. ”

” Well ma’am, she don’t need a chaperon because you see, she’s my wife. So maybe you should just mind your own business instead of passing judgment on others. ” he said before walking away.

” What was that all about? ” Teresa asked as they sat down.

” Just a misunderstanding my love. ” Johnny responded as he looked at the woman.

” We’ll be arriving in Butte in thirty minutes folks. Thirty minutes. ” The porter said. ” Excuse me, aren’t you folks switching trains and going west to Missoula? ”

” Yeah, why? ” Johnny asked.

” Been some bad rains the last week. A bridge got washed out. No trains can go west . They do have a stage running though or you can get a refund since you paid full fare. ”

” We have our horses in a livestock car, so we’ll ride. ” Johnny said.

‘ Suite yourself. ” The porter said before walking away.

” We can get a couple rooms at the hotel and leave in the morning. ” Scott suggested.

” Might as well since it’s so late in the day. ” Johnny said.

” I wonder what land sells for in Montana? ” Teresa asked.

” It might be we have to stake out what we want and file a claim. ” Scott suggested.

                                                                             Chapter 4

” I never seen mountains so beautiful. ” Teresa said as they rode west along the edge of the road.

Johnny looked to the south. ” Sure are bigger than anything I’ve ever seen down in Mexico. ”

” Bigger than anything back in Boston. ” Scott added.

” I’m just happy there’s no damn snow. ” Val gruffed.

” It’s coming though. ” Johnny said.

” Where we going to live until we build a cabin? ” Teresa asked.

” Been thinking on that querida. ”

” Maybe there’s been people leave that came thinking they can handle the winter? ” Scott asked.

” What you mean a place already built, but abandoned? ” Johnny asked.

” Would save a lot of work and give us a place to live during winter. ” Scott suggested.

” We’ll check with the banks in Missoula and see what they got. ”


Johnny and Scott walked into the bank in Missoula a week after leaving Butte.

” Can I help you? ”

” You the manager? ” Johnny asked.

” I am. I’m Michael Parks. How can I help you? ”

” I’m Johnny Lancer and this is my brother Scott. We’re looking to buy a place and settle down. ”

” I see. What kind of place are you looking for? ”

”  Man at the livery said you have some properties we’re interested in looking at. ” Johnny said.

” Are you wanted a place in town, or with acreage? ”

” Acreage. ”

” Okay. I have a nice place about ten miles southwest of town. I can take you out there to look at it if you’d like? ”

” How about an hour? ” Johnny asked.


” There it is. ” Mister Parks said two hours later.

Johnny, Scott, Val and Teresa looked down from a hilltop at a beautiful, but neglected ranch. A two story cabin with a porch all the way across the front, and down the sides. A small lake could be seen just to the front right of the cabin, just behind the house on the right stood a barn with an open alley in the middle.

” How many acres? ” Johnny asked.

” Forty thousand acres. The previous owners widow Mrs. Rodney is looking to sell it. There’s several hundred head of horses that go with the place. ” Parks said. ” Charlie was starting a horse ranch when he was killed. ”

” You said his widow wants to sell it. What’s she wanting? ” Johnny asked.

” Why don’t you go down and look the place over, and then we can talk price. ”

Johnny stepped up onto the porch and pulled down weeds and vines blocking the front door. ” Looks like all the windows are still in. ”

” It’s big. I can see us raising a family here. ” Teresa said.

” Needs a lot of cleaning. ” Johnny said as he opened the front door.

” Just dust and weeds. ” Teresa said as she walked inside. ” Oh my, look at this place Johnny. Look at those two beautiful rock fireplaces at each end. What about all the furniture? ”

” Everything on the property is included in the sale. ”

” What does she want for all of it? ” Johnny asked.

” Ten thousand dollars and you can have it all. ” a woman said from the door.

” Kelly, that’s a substantial loss. ”

” Michael, I don’t care about this place. It was Charlies dream, not mine. I only came here because I loved him. I’m happy as a teacher in town, living in town. ” she said.

” That figures out to be twenty five cents an acre. ” Scott said.

” Can me and my brother talk for a minute? ” Johnny asked.

” Certainly. ” Kelly said.

Johnny walked out on the porch with Scott. ” What do you think? ”

” I think we would be fools to pass this up. ” Scott said.

” I only have five thousand. ” Johnny said.

” Let me pay for it Johnny. As a wedding gift. You can use the money you have for supplies and repairs. ” Scott suggested.

Johnny walked over to the porch railing and placed both hands on it. Dropping his head he sighed.

Scott walked over and put a hand on his brothers shoulder. ” Let’s do this together brother. Let’s build a legacy for our families. ”

Johnny unexpectedly turned and hugged his brother. ” Let’s do it. ”

Scott knew his brother wasn’t one to show emotions. Hugging him back, he could feel him shaking a little.

” Don’t you want your fine china? ” Teresa asked.

” Those were my mothers. I can’t see them being packed away and never used again. There’s four bedrooms upstairs, and one downstairs. Charlie had a good grasp on what the winters are like here in Montana, that’s why he built two huge fireplaces to keep the place warm in the winter. The porch I asked to have it go all the way around the house. ”

” I’m sorry about your husband. ” Teresa said. ” How long were you married? ”

” Four years. I met Charlie in Billings. It was love at first sight. He swooped me off my feet, we got married and came here to start a family…….but never got a chance.” Kelly said as Johnny and Scott walked back inside.

” Mrs. Rodney, we’ll take it. ” Johnny said.

Teresa ran over and wrapped her arms around Johnny as she squealed with excitement.

” We can go back to town and take care of the paperwork this afternoon so you folks can start settling into your new home. ” Michael said.

” I’ll have my bank wire the money to you. ”  Scott said.

” Do you have a name for your new place. Something to put on the paperwork? ” Michael asked.

” Lazy Bar J. ” Scott said.

Johnny looked at his brother and smiled. ” You sure you don;t want it to be The Lazy Bar J and S ranch? ”

” I’m sure brother. It’s my wedding present to you and Teresa. ”


” Murdoch, haven’t seen you around town much. How you been? ”

” Been busy Seth. ”

” Got an interesting wire yesterday. ” Seth said. ” Seems the bank needed to wire ten thousand dollars from your oldest boys account to a bank in Missoula, Montana for a Kelly Rodney. ”

” And you’re telling me this why? ”

” I just thought you would like to know where at least one of your sons is at. ” Seth responded.

” I have no sons. Now if there’s nothing else, I’m a busy man. ”

” You’re a cold-hearted bastard is what you are Murdoch Lancer. ”Seth spat. ” There’s a lot of people in the valley upset at you for how you did both those boys, and me personally, I hope you lose that damn ranch. ”

” I don’t give a damn what you or anyone else in this valley thinks of me and what happened. It’s none of their damn business. ”


Teresa stood on the porch watching a big herd of horses running thru the snow toward the house. She could see Johnny on the right, turning them toward the double gates of the huge corral they built. Two months ago the ranch legally became theirs. Watching her husband wheel the horses to the left, she smiled.

Johnny jumped off Barranca and closed the gate after the last horse went in.

Stepping off the porch, Teresa walked down to the corral. ” How many are there? ”

Johnny walked over and gave Teresa a hug and kiss.” About sixty head. ”

” There’s a bigger herd still need to round up. ” Scott said.

” Are they broke or wild? ” she asked.

” That’s what we’re going to find out starting tomorrow. ” Johnny said. ” Right now we just want to warm up. ”

” I have a big pot of stew on and made biscuits. ” Teresa said. ” Take care of your horses then come inside. ”

” I can’t feel my dang feet, so I doubt I’ll be able to walk once I get off this pony. ” Val gruffed. ” I don’t know why I let you talk me into coming here with you. I should be down south along the border drinking tequila with a pretty senorita. ”

” Stop your belly aching old man. ” Johnny said with a smile as he led Barranca to the barn.

” I want a tree. ” Teresa said as she finished cleaning up after supper. ” Christmas is two weeks away, and I want a tree to decorate. Tomorrow is Sunday, so I thought me and you could go out and find the perfect one. ”

Johnny smiled. ” I was going to cut firewood tomorrow, but I guess we can go find a tree. ”

” Looks like me and you will be cutting wood tomorrow Val. ” Scott said.


” Okay, that finishes the auction inventory inside the house. ” Jim said. ” Any personal belongings such as pictures and clothes you can keep Murdoch. I’ll also let you keep one horse. ”

” There’s more than enough outside in livestock to pay off the loan. ” Murdoch snapped back.

” It doesn’t work that way Murdoch. There’s no guarantee the livestock will payoff the loan. Once the amount owed is reached, the auction will stop, and you can keep all remaining, but if the house sells, you will have to vacate. ” Jim explained. ” Since it’s winter, I talked them into holding off. The auction won’t happen until spring. I’ll put adds in the papers. ”


” How about this one? ” Johnny asked.

” It’s perfect. ” Teresa said.

” Just like you were last night and this morning. ” Johnny said with a smile.

” I like waking you up like that. ” she said.

” I’m not complaining. ” Johnny said as he started cutting the tree down.

Teresa walked around to the back of the wagon as Johnny dragged the tree over to load. Reaching out, she stopped him. ” There’s a reason I brought a blanket. ”

Johnny smiled. ” Could be a might cold. ”

” Not for long. ” she said.

Johnny took her hand and led her back into the grove of trees where there was little to no snow, and made love to her as the afternoon sun shined down on them.


” Mister Parks, what brings you out here? ” Scott asked.

” Is your brother here? ” Michael asked as he dismounted.

” No. Him and Teresa went to cut down a Christmas tree. ”

” Do you know a man named Murdoch Lancer? I only ask because your last name is Lancer. ”

” He’s our father. Why? ”

Michael pulled out the newspaper and handed it to him.

Scott read the auction notice and offered the paper back to him.

” Keep it. I thought maybe you would want to know. ”

” We have nothing to do with our father or his ranch. ” Scott said as Val walked over to them.

” Mister Parks. ”

” Val. You fellas have done a lot cleaning this place up. ”

” Yeah, Johnny’s a slave driver. ” Val said with a laugh.

” Well I better get back. ” he said as he mounted up. ” There’s a Christmas party in town this Saturday at the church. Everybody is welcomed to come. ”

” Thank you. I’ll be sure and let them know. ” Scott said.


” Mister Parks came by today while you were gone. ” Scott said.

” What did he want? ”

” He wanted to invite us all to a Christmas party Saturday at the church in town ” Scott said.

” Oh can we go Johnny. I’d like to meet our neighbors and others in town. ” Teresa asked.

” I never was one to like my fun organized, but we’ll go. How about you two? ”

” Not me. I never was one for shindigs. ” Val said.

” I think I’ll stay here brother. Why don’t you and Teresa stay the night, come home Sunday. ”

” He came all the way out here to invite us to a Christmas party. ”

” No, he also asked if we knew a man named Murdoch Lancer. I told him he’s our father, and asked him why he was asking. He showed me this. ”

Johnny took the paper and read it. ” So he lost Lancer! ”

‘ What? ” Teresa said as she took the paper and read it. ” I wonder how? ”

” Unpaid taxes or he got a loan and didn’t pay it back. ” Scott said.

” It says the auction will be in the spring. ” Teresa said.

” This is your old man? ” Val asked. ” The one who did and didn’t throw you out? ”

” It’s of no concern of mine. He made it clear how he feels about me. ”

” So you don’t care about any of it? ” Scott asked. ” I know we have a life here now brother, but both our lives started there. ”

” My life started in Mexico, where he got my mother pregnant with me, then married her. Lancer was never my home, just a place I happened to be born at. ” Johnny said. ” A dream I woke up from that day he threw me out. ”


” I’m glad you and Teresa made it. I wasn’t sure if you would come or not. ” Michael said.

” Teresa said we should come and meet some of our neighbors. Me, I don’t much care for my fun organized.. ” Johnny said.

” Well, I’m glad you came. Did your brother and Val come too? ”

” No, they stayed at the ranch. ”

Michael motioned for a man to walk over to them. ” There’s a ranch, the Flying D, owned and run by Carl Simmons, and his two sons, Jeff and Pete, they pretty much do what they want. Sun River separates your property from theirs. Elk Creek separates your land from the Beaverhead ranch on the other side of you. This is Bill Roth, he owns the Beaverhead ranch. ”

” Like he said, Carl Simmons two sons who pretty much do what they want, take what they want. ” Bill said.

” I don’t want any trouble. Me, my wife, brother and friend just want to start a horse ranch, and live a peaceful life. ”

” So do we. Look, every person in this town is a good decent, hardworking person Johnny. Carl and his boys used to be too until his wife died about five years ago. Since then the boys have done what they want, and Carl lets them. ”

” Well ain’t you a sweet looking thing. ” Jeff Simmons said.

” I do believe she’s the prettiest thing we seen in a long time brother. ” Pete Simmons added.

” How about a dance sweet thing? ” Jeff asked.

” I only dance with my husband. ” Teresa said.

Jeff grabbed Teresa’s hand. ” Your husband won’t mind. ”

” Stop it! You’re hurting my arm! ” Teresa said loudly.

Jeff yanked her to him. ” All I want is a dance. ”

Johnny looked and seen Teresa being accosted by a man. ” Excuse me. ”he said before heading over to defend his wife.

” You got two seconds to get your hands off my wife! ”

Jeff glared at Johnny. ” You know who I am mister? ”

” No, but I do know you’re about to be needing a doctor if you don’t let go of my wife! ” Johnny said.

Pete grabbed Johnny from behind, wrapping his arms around him in a bear hug. ” Hit him brother. ”

Jeff swung and hit Johnny hard in the mouth, and then in the gut before he felt a boot between his legs, dropping him to the floor screaming in pain.

Johnny felt Jeff’s hold on him loosen just enough he could turn and hit the man in the face, knocking him backwards into the refreshment table, knocking it over. The punch bowls and glasses shattering on the floor. ” You okay? ” he asked as he checked Teresa’s arm. Hearing a sound he knew, Johnny spun, drew his colt, and fired so fast, everyone who seen it gasped.  ” Next one goes in your chest. ”

Jeff dropped his gun, stood up, and wiped at the blood running down his right cheek from where Johnny’s bullet creased him.

” Get your brother, and get out of here. ”Johnny said with ice in his voice.

Jeff went to his brother and helped him up. ” You ain’t heard the last of this mister. ” he said before leaving.

Johnny felt like a fox caught in a chicken coop. Everyone in the room staring at him. Wrapping his arm around Teresa, he pulled her closer to him for extra assurance.

” That was Jeff and Pete Simmons. ” Michael said. ” See what we were talking about? ”

” They bully a lot of people in town. Take what they want from the stores, and saloon. ”

” Why don’t you stand up to them? ” Teresa asked.

” We’re business men Mrs. Lancer. ” Seth said. ” I lose my saloon, I lose everything. ”

” So if that had been one of your wives just then, you would have stood there and done nothing? ” Johnny demanded.

” We’re not fighters. ” Michael said.

” You’re men aren’t you? ” Johnny asked. ” Look, I’m new here, but it seems to me, you folks need to toughen up. There’s more of you and only three of them. ”

” You want my husband to fight your fight. ” Teresa said. ” To risk his life just because the men of this town don’t have the guts to stand up to three bullies. ”

” Lets go Teresa. ” Johnny said.

” Wait a minute Johnny. ” Teresa said. ” If this is why you invited us here, let me tell you right now, we have no fight with anyone around here, but if anyone tries taking what is ours, they will be met with resistance from all four of us. ”

” What you did tonight Carl Simmons won’t let slide. He’ll be paying you a visit. ” Michael said as Johnny and Teresa walked out.

” Maybe now you’ll understand better why I don’t like my fun organized. ” Johnny said as he helped Teresa into the buggy.

” I’m sorry Johnny. I know it’s my fault for wanting to come. ”

” I didn’t say that. I’m not blaming you for what happened. You have a right to go to a shindig. ”

” I should have known thee would be a motive behind it. ”

” Where are we going now? ” she asked.

” Back to the ranch. ”


” What the hell happened to you? ” Carl Simmons asked.

” Me and Pete got attacked by a man at the party. ” Jeff said.

” Attacked by who boy? ”

” That new owner of the ranch across the river. ”

” Boy, I want the truth. ”

” We was just minding our own business when this fella comes over and kicked Pete between the legs. ” Jeff lied.

” And what did you do when your brother got attacked? ”

” I went to shoot him pa, but he beat me to the draw, and shot me. ”

” Ain’t been anybody faster than you boy. This man beat you to the draw? ”

” Sure did pa. I barely started to pull mine and he shot me. I never seen anyone that fast before. ”

” You gonna be alright boy? ”

” I’ll be alright when I pay that sonofabitch back pa. ” Pete said.

” Go on inside. Suppers on the stove. ”


” I’ve never seen anyone faster than Jeff! ” Bill said.

” You remember when I went to see my sister a few years ago down in Arizona? ” Seth asked. ” While I was there, I heard of a half-breed gunfighter named Johnny Madrid. ”

” What about him? ” Michael asked.

” I think Johnny Lancer is him. ” he said. ” He’s clearly a half-breed with blue eyes. They say he’s the fastest, and deadliest. ”

” Madrid wouldn’t be up here in Montana. ”

” He would if he was hiding from the law, or wanted to start a new life. ” Seth suggested.

” I’ll see what I can find out. If he is Madrid, our problems have been solved. ” Michael said.


” I thought you two were staying in town tonight? ” Scott asked when Johnny and Teresa walked in the house.

” Plans changed. ” Johnny said.

” What happened? ” Val asked.

” Someone wouldn’t take no for an answer, and made a mistake touching my wife. ”

” Looks like he landed a couple blows. ” Scott said as he looked at his brothers face.

” Hard to fight back when you’re in a bear hug brother. ” Johnny said. ” Teresa changed the odds when she dropped the one. ”

” Dropped the one? ” Val asked.

” Let’s just say he won’t be thinking romance for a while. ”

Scott cringed when he realized what Teresa had done to the man.

” Remind me ta never get yur wife angry with me. ” Val said.

” You said there were two of them. What did the other one do? ” Scott asked.

” Tried to draw on me. ”

” Tried? ”

” I didn’t kill him, but he’ll wear the scar I gave him the rest of his life. ”

” Who are these two you butted heads with? ” Val asked.

” Jeff and Pete Simmons of the Flying D ranch across the river. ” Johnny said. ” Seems they run roughshod over the people in town. Taking what they want, doing what they want. ”

” We’ve dealt with their kind before. ” Val said.

” Nobody here knows who I used to be Val, I want to keep it that way if I can. ” Johnny said.

” Only one problem with that kid. A part of you is always gonna be Madrid. ” Val said.


” Mrs. Conway, it’s good to see you. ” Sam said. ” Sit down, have some lunch with me. ”

” Hello Sam. ” Agatha said as she sat down. ” Have you seen Murdoch? ”

” Not since last month when a hand broke his arm. I didn’t talk to him. ”

” I rode out there, and he wouldn’t even talk to me. ” she said. ” He ordered me to leave. ”

” I don’t know him anymore. ” Sam said.

” I’m worried about him Sam. He’s become so bitter after the boys left. ” Aggie said. ” I offered to pay his loan so he wouldn’t lose Lancer, but he refused. ”

” Jim said he’ll only auction off what’s needed to pay back the loan. ” Sam said. ” But if someone offers to buy the house. ”

” He will have to leave. ” she said. ” Do you know where the boys are? ”

” I do. ” he said. ” They bought a forty thousand acre ranch in Montana, southwest of Missoula. I believe it’s called The Lazy Bar J ranch. From what Scott said in his letter, it’s like owning a piece of heaven. ”

” I’m happy for them. Johnny deserves to be happy. ” she said.

” God knows that boy deserves it with the life he’s had. ” am said. ” I was thinking of  going up there to see them. Would you care to come along? ”

” I’d like to Sam, but I have a ranch to run. ” Aggie said. ” You going to retire in Montana? ”

” I have a young doctor coming to replace me this winter. I’m not a young man anymore. ”

” You are more than entitled Sam. ”


” Can I help you? ” Teresa asked.

” My names Carl Simmons, I own the Flying D ranch across the river. I’m looking for the owner. ” Carl Simmons said.

” Who’s looking? ” Johnny asked.

” Carl Simmons. You know why I’m here boy? ”

” I know why you’re here. ” Johnny said.

” Boy, I want to know what right you had for beating my one son, and shooting the other? ”

”  Your boys put their hands on my wife. ” Johnny said. ” The one I shot, tried drawing on me and lost. ”

” That’s not what my boys told me……. ”

” Well they lied to you. ” Johnny cut in. ” Be thankful he wasn’t killed. ”

” Mister Simmons, your son grabbed my arm when I refused to dance with him. ” Teresa said. ” I told him I was married, he grabbed my arm and said my husband wouldn’t mind. It was me who kicked your one boy between the legs. ”

Carl dismounted. ” Getting your woman to lie for you, and calling my sons a liar! ”

Johnny stepped closer to him. ” I’m saying your sons lied to you. There’s plenty of witnesses to what happened to back up what I told you happened. ”

” I don’t know where you came from boy, but nobody hurts my boys. ” Carl said.

” Tell you boys to stay away from my wife, and we won’t have a problem. ”

” My boys fast, so I don’t know how you beat him to the draw. ”

” Maybe you should have told him while he was shooting bottles that there’s always someone faster. ” Johnny said. ” Now if you don’t mind, I have work to do. ”

” You better keep an eye on your stock boy. ” Carl said as he mounted up.

Johnny glared at the man. ” You know nothing about me, so I’d be careful who you go around threatening old man. ”

” I don’t make threats boy, I make promises. ” he said before turning to leave.

Johnny reached up an grabbed the reins of the mans horse. ” You want to know who I am……..”

” Johnny. ” Scott said.

” No Scott, he needs to know who he just threatened and why he should be grateful his son is still alive. ” Johnny said firmly.

” Names Madrid, Johnny Madrid Lancer. So you go ahead and make your threats against me and my stock. Just make sure you have all your affairs in order, because if I find any of my stock dead, I’m coming after you. ” Johnny said before letting go of the rein.

” The gunfighter Johnny Madrid, that’s you? ”

” Lancer is my birthright name. I came here to try and live a normal life. Your sons crossed the line with my wife, and paid for it. Let it go and move on. I don’t want any trouble. ”

” You touch my boys again, I don’t care who you are, I’ll kill you. ” Carl said before riding away.

Johnny sighed as he stood there watching the man ride away.

” I’m sorry kid. ” Val said.

” Why did you tell him who you were? ” Scott asked.

” The why is simple Scott, your brother was hoping to stop any further trouble. ” Val said.


Carl rode up to his house and dismounted. ” Pete….Jeff….get your asses out here now! ” he yelled.

Jeff and Pete came out of the barn. ” Something wrong pa? ” Jeff asked.

Carl backhanded his son hard. ” You lied to me about what happened. ”

” I didn’t lie to you pa. ” Jeff said as he rubbed his face.

” How many times have I told you two you if you want a woman, go to the saloon? ”

” We didn’t know she was married pa. ” Pete said. ” It was Jeff who put his hands on her. ”

” You still tried after she told you. ” Carl said with anger before hitting his son in the mouth, and knocking him down. ” You damn fool, you want to know why he beat you to the draw…..I’ll tell you……..He’s he one you read those damn dime store novels about, Johnny Madrid. ”

” No way pa, he’s lying. Madrid stays down along the border of Mexico. ” Jeff said.

” He’s not lying. I seen his eyes, and I warned him that if he ever lays a hand on either one of you again, I’ll kill him. ” Carl said firmly. ” Now get the hell out and check the stock. ”

                                                                               Chapter 5

” Murdoch, this is a receipt for the three hundred head of stock, four wagons and hundred head of horses. ” Jim said as he handed it to him. ” Your loan is paid in full. I’m sorry it had to come to this. ”

” Get of my land! ” Murdoch said before heading into the house.

Jim Pierpoint stood watching the man he had done many business deals with walk into the house he almost lost. If he only knew what Jim had done to save that house, and it’s contents from being auctioned off.

Murdoch walked over to the sideboard and poured a shot of whiskey, downed I and poured another. Nine months ago he was the happiest man alive. Both his sons were home, and everything was good. Good until he let his temper destroy all he had. Wrongfully accusing his youngest son, and refusing to believe the truth of what happened that day had cost him what he could never get back.


Johnny stopped Barranca on the hill behind the house late spring, and dismounted. Dropping the reins he walked over to a cross leaning over. Standing it up, he wiped the dirt off and read what was inscribed.

Carrie Ann Rodney
Born June 7th 1874
Died April 12th 1875

” Damn. ” Johnny said as he fixed the cross. Looking just to the right, he found a headstone toppled over, and broke in half.

Charles Rodney
Born February 23rd 1846
Died August 6th 1874

Walking back over to Barranca, he mounted up, and headed to the house.

” I was beginning to wonder if you were coming in for supper or not. ” Teresa said.

” I found two graves on the hill behind the house. ” Johnny said.

” What, who’s? ” she asked.

” Charles Rodney’s and their ten month old daughter. ”

” She never mentioned they were buried there. ”

” Maybe she wants to forget? ” Scott asked.

” Not liking a ranch your husband wants is one thing, but forgetting your own child’s grave. I could never do that. ”

” The cross is about done in for her. I think I’ll ride into town and have a real nice headstone made up for her. ” Johnny said.

” We need about four more spools of wire to finish the fencing. ” Scott said.

” Teresa, why don’t you see if you can get one of them rose plants to grow up there. ” Johnny suggested. ” Later I’ll build a nice white picket fence to put around them. ”

” I can do that. I’ll fix it up real nice for them both. ” she said.

” You want some company going to town? ” Scott asked.

” No, I’m just ordering the headstone and wire. I won’t be gone long. I should be back in time for lunch, and to help you and Val finish that lie along the creek. ”

 ” What was her name? ”

” Carrie Ann Rodney, born June 7th 1874, and died April 12th 1875. ”

” How old was Mister Rodney when he died? ” Scott asked.

” Twenty nine. ” Johnny said.

” Mister Parks said Charlie was killed. ” Scott said.

” I have a feeling he was killed by our charming neighbor. ” Val said.

” The only laws the army. ” Johnny said.

” I’ve been thinking about that ever since your little ruckus in town. ” Val said.

” You gonna wear a badge again? ” Johnny asked.

” They need some kind of law. There’s a lot of good decent folks being bullied by those two boys. ” Val said.

” Remind you if anything? ” Johnny asked.

” San Pedro., and I could have done without you remembering that job. ” Val gruffed.

” You’re still sore over that? ”

” Ya darn right I am. ”

Johnny couldn’t help but start laughing.

” Would one of you care to tell us what’s so funny? ” Scott asked.

” No! ” Val said.

” He was caught with a married woman and got shot in the butt going thru a window to get away. ” Johnny said as he tried to stop laughing.

” Alright you. That will be enough. ” Val said.

” You didn’t know she was married Val? ” Teresa asked.

” No. Unlike some big mouthed kid, I don’t fancy married women. ”

Teresa looked at Johnny. ” Married women? ”

” It was my past. ” Johnny said. ” I felt that if the woman’s husband kept her happy, she wouldn’t have been looking for companionship with another man. ”

” Didn’t it bother you knowing you were sleeping with a married woman? ” Teresa asked.

” Nope. She got what she wanted, and I got what I wanted. ” he said. ” I was a lot younger…..and not caring back then. ”

” And more reckless. ” Val added.

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

” I think I will as well. ” Val said.


” I found out who he is. ” Michael said.

” Who? ” Seth asked.

” Johnny Lancer. Only that’s not the name he’s known by down along the Mexican border. ”

” Are you going to tell us, or keep us wondering? ” Bill Roth asked.

” Down along the Mexican border he’s know as Johnny Madrid. ”

” The gunfighter? ” Seth asked.

” The one and only. His description matches. Seems he disappeared a few years ago and everybody thought he was killed in a Mexican prison. ” Michael explained.

” That’s how he beat Jeff to the draw. ” Bill said.

” Damn kid don’t know how lucky he is to be alive. I heard Madrid is the fastest of any gunfighter. ” Seth said.

” Says he rode with a man named Val Crawford. ” Michael said. ” Maybe we can interest Crawford in being our sheriff. ”

” Maybe. I’m sure he’s dealt with that kind before. ” Bill said. ” I need to get back to my ranch. I’ll see you later. ”


Johnny crawled in bed and snuggled up next to Teresa.

” You ever cheat on me and it will be the biggest mistake you ever make. ” Teresa said as she rolled onto her back.

” I will never cheat on you querida. You give me almost everything I ever wanted. ”

” Almost? ”

Johnny ran his hand down across her stomach. ” I must be doing something wrong. We’ve been married six months now and you’re not pregnant yet. ”

” It will happen. ” she said.

” Maybe we should also make love when you’re……”

” We just keep trying until it happens. ” she said.

” I have no problem doing that. ” Johnny said as he started making love to her.


” Can I help you sir? ”

” I’m Johnny Lancer. ”

” Lancer, Aah you  bought the ranch from the widow Rodney. What can I do for you? ”

” I want you to make a nice headstone for her child. ” Johnny said. ” I found Charlies and there daughters graves. She deserves more than just a wooden cross. ”

” I offered to make a nice one for her free of charge, but miss Rodney wouldn’t have it. ” the undertaker said. ” She’s a proud, sometimes stubborn woman. ”

Johnny wrote down the dates on a piece of paper and handed it to him. ” How much? ”

” Like I told her, no charge. She lost her husband two months after the baby was born. It got cholera, and the doc couldn’t do anything for it. ”

” Parks said her husband was killed. You know who did it? ” Johnny asked.

” Sure do, everybody in town knows it was that Jeff Simmons gunned him down. ” he said. ” Charlie won big at poker that night. Both the Simmons boys were playing as well and lost. Not ten minutes after Charlie left, he was shot and killed, and the money was gone. ”

” How much did he win? ”

” Five hundred dollars. ” he said. ” I’ll bring this out and place it for you when it’s done. Should take me a couple weeks. ”

” I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t say anything to Mrs. Rodney about this. ” Johnny said as he opened the door.

” Not a word sir. ”

Johnny ordered the wire and headed home.

” There’s that bastard! ” Jeff said.

” You go starting trouble with him, pa will whoop you big time. ” Pete said.

” He’s all alone. ” Jeff said.

” Pa ain’t gonna be happy you do this. ”

” I don’t give a shit what the old man likes and don’t like. I owe that bastard, and I’m gonna make him pay. ” Jeff said as he pulled his rifle, took aim, and fired.


” I wonder who that could be? ” Teresa asked as she walked to the door and opened it. ” Sam! ”

” Hello Teresa. ” Sam said.

” Sam, what on earth are you doing here? ” Scott asked as he walked to the door.

” May I come in? ”

” Of course. ”

” I thought I would come and see this paradise you described owning. ” Sam said as he walked inside. ” This is gorgeous. I have never seen fireplaces so big made from stones. ”

” You should have told us you were coming. We could have picked you up. ” Scott said.

” I was going to come visit sooner, but thought I better wait until late spring when the chance of snow is less. ”


Johnny opened his eyes and touched the left side of his face. Pulling his hand away, he found it covered in blood.  ” Hey amigo. ” he said as he slowly stood up. Closing his eyes. ” Easy buddy. I’m gonna need your help to get me home. ” he said before he suddenly threw up breakfast. Wiping his mouth, he staggered as his vision became blurry. Hanging onto the saddle, he knew he was in trouble.

Barranca stood completely still until he felt Johnny tap him on his left leg. Bending his right leg, he got down on his knees so Johnny could get in the saddle easier. The coppery smell of blood made the stallion want to flee, but he stayed still until he felt Johnny’s weight fully in the saddle. Standing back up, he started walking toward home.

” Take me home boy. ” Johnny said as he slowly slumped forward over the stallions neck.


” Sam, this is Val Crawford. ” Scott said.

” Pleasure to meet you Mister Crawford. ” Sam said.

” So you’re the doc who delivered Johnny? ”

” I am. ”

” Val and Johnny used to ride together. ” Scott said.

” Oh. So you have known John a few years? ”

” A few. ”

” Val Crawford…..You’re the man who found John when he was near death from being shot in the back. ” Sam said. ” He was I believe fourteen? ”

” Yeah, been friends ever since. ” Val said.

” How did the two of you find each other this time? ”

” We were camped in a canyon in Utah when he came riding up. ” Scott said.

” I was headed back south when I ran into them. ”

” I thought Johnny was headed to Colorado. How did he end up here in Montana? ” Sam asked.

” That’s my fault doc. I told him about Montana, and he talked me into coming here with them to freeze my butt off in the winter. ”

Teresa stood up and looked out the front window. ” Oh dear god no. ” she said as she hurried outside just as Johnny slid from the saddle. ” Johnny! ”

Scott hurried outside to find his brother on the ground, the left side of his face covered in blood. ” He’s been shot in the head. ” he said as he scooped his brother up, and carried him inside.

Sam grabbed his medical bag from the buggy and hurried inside. ” Let me in there Scott. Teresa, get me some hot water and bandages. ”

” Looks like he was shot in the head. ” Val said.

” The bullet left a deep furrow in his scalp. Scott. Get me a razor so I can shave the hair away from the wound. ”

” It’s bleeding so bad. ”

” That’s because the veins are closer to the surface than if he’d been shot in the body. Head wounds bleed profusely. ” Sam explained.


” You killed him as sure as day. ” Pete said. ” You shot him in the head. ”

” So what. He wasn’t the first man I’ve shot and killed. Besides, he had it coming. ” Jeff said.

” What do you mean he wasn’t the first? ” Pete demanded.

” I’ve killed before. Ain’t no big deal. ” Jeff said.

Pete stopped his horse. ” It was you wasn’t it? ” he asked as he kicked his horse and rode up next to his brother. ” You killed Charles Rodney that night and robbed him! ”

” So what if I did. Ain’t nobody can prove I did it. ” Jeff said. ” You best not say anything to pa about it either. ”

” You murdered a man. For five hundred dollars! ” Pete said. ” You told me you won the money that night! ”

” All he had to do was give me the money. He wouldn’t, so I shot him. ” he said. ” Ain’t nobody in that town gonna stop me from taking what I want, and that includes you and pa too. ”

Pete kicked his horse, and started to gallop off toward home when a bullet slammed into his back, knocking him from his horse. Laying on the ground, he watched as his brother rode up, dismounted, and stood there. ” Why Jeff, why’d ya shoot me? ”

” I can’t have you telling what I did. Pa will believe it was Madrid killed you, and I shot Madrid in self defense. ”


” Sam? ”

” He was shot, and he’s damn lucky. The bullet came real close to entering his head, but gave him a deep furrow instead. ” Sam explained. ” I could see no blood in his ears to indicate him having a skull fracture, but he does have a serious concussion. ”

” Them concussions….they can be bad can’t they doc? ” Val asked.

” Yes. He needs to be woke up every four hours. ”

” I remember Sam. Can I see him? ”

” Yes. It’s best if someone stays with him the first twenty four hours. ”

” I need to go take care of his horse. ” Val said before walking out.

” Talk to me Scott. What is going on? ”

Scott walked into the kitchen, poured two cups of coffee, and sat down. ” Johnny and Teresa went to a Christmas party at the church in town. Our neighbor across the river has two sons who run roughshod over people in town. The oldest son decided he was going to force Teresa to dance with him. Johnny got in a fight with them, then I guess the oldest one, Jeff tried to draw on Johnny, he shot him, but only creased him. ” Scott explained. ” The next day their father came here, confronted Johnny, and threatened to kill him if he ever touched his sons again…..And that was after Johnny told him who he is. ”

” You mean he told him he’s Johnny Madrid? ”

” Yeah. I tried to stop him, but he said no, the man needed to know. ” Scott said. ” I just don’t understand why Sam. Why can’t he live the life he wants? ”

” I don’t think we will ever have that answer son.. ”

” How long can you stay? ”

” Well actually, I’m not getting any younger, so I got a younger doctor to come in and replace me. ” Sam said. ” I showed him around over the winter, and everyone seems to be okay with me retiring. So I’m looking to find a place to settle down, and thought I would come give Montana a try. ”

” We have an empty bedroom you are more than welcome to use and stay as long as you want. ” Scott said.

” What would John say about that? ”

” Sam, do you really think he would let you go live in town? ” Scott asked. ” I mean, you can if you want too, but I know he thinks the world of you and would want you to stay here. ”

” How’s the fishing here? ”

” Trout bigger than a skillet. There’s wild garlic and onions that grow along the streams, and wild strawberries, huckleberries

blackberries, and raspberries too. ”

” Sounds good. ”


Carl Simmons came out of the barn and watched as his oldest son rode up leading his brothers horse. ” What happened? ”

” It was Madrid, he ambushed us on the road. ”

Carl walked over and looked at his dead son. ” If he ambushed you, why was your brother shot in the back? ”

” He waited until we rode past before he shot him out of the saddle. ”

” And what did you do? ”

” I drew and fired. I shot Madrid in the head pa, he’s dead. ”

” Take me to where it happened! ” Carl ordered. ” Get your brothers body down, go dig a hole to bury him in, and then take me to where the ambush happened! ”

” Why? ”

Carl hit his son in the mouth. ” Because I want to see where it happened is why! ” Carl said with anger before heading to the house.


Johnny opened his eyes, and closed them again. Reaching up, he felt a bandage around his pounding head. Opening his eyes again, he looked to his left to find Teresa in a chair next to the bed with her head down, sleeping. Reaching over, he took hold of her hand. ” Teresa. ”

Teresa opened her eyes. ” Johnny. ” she said as she moved over to sit next to him on the bed.

” My head hurts. ” Johnny said.

” Let me get the doctor. ” she said.

Johnny closed his eyes, as he sat up. Reaching up, he touched his head again.

” What are you doing young man? ” Sam asked as he walked into the room, followed by Teresa, Scott, and Val.

Johnny blinked several times. ” Sam? ”

” Hello John. I’m glad to see you recognize me. ” Sam said. ” Now, what are you doing? ”

” What are you doing here? ”

” We’ll talk about that later. ” Sam said. ” How’s your head feel? ”

” Like someone is pounding a sledge hammer against my skull. ”

” How’s your vision? ”

” A little blurry. My eyes keep watering. ”

” That’s to be expected. Do you remember what happened? ”

” I was riding along, coming back from town, next thing I remember I’m waking up on the ground with my head pounding and covered in blood. ”

” You were shot. ” Scott said. ” Someone ambushed you, and came within a hair of killing you. ”

” Can I have some water? ” he asked.

” Sam poured some water in a glass. ” Just sip it. John, when you came too, do you know if you threw up? ”

” Yeah, tried not too, but my stomach rebelled when I stood up. ”

” You have a nasty concussion. I had to shave your hair away from the wound so I could clean, and stitch it up. ”

” You shaved my head? ”

” Just a small area John. I want you to stay in this bed for at least twenty four hours, and rest, but you will have to be woke up every four hours thru the night. ” Sam said.

Johnny scooted back down under the covers, and fell asleep again.


Carl dismounted and looked at the blood stain on the ground from his youngest son. He noticed the tracks showed his youngest was galloping away when he was shot.

” You said you shot Madrid in the head. ” Where was he? ”

” Over there. ” Jeff said as he pointed toward a tree.

Carl walked over and looked on the ground. Seeing no blood or tracks, he started walking around. ” Did you check and make sure he was dead? ”

” He was dead pa. I shot him in the head. ”

” Then where’s the blood, and where’s the body? ” he demanded.

” I don’t know. Somebody must have come along and took it. ”

Carl walked over to the road and found a big stain of blood in the dirt. Looking around he seen no tracks except from one horse, and one person, Madrid. ” If he was over there where you say when you shot him, then why is there a big spot of blood on the ground here in the road? ”

” I killed him. ” Jeff said. ” Why you always gotta not believe me and what I tell you? You always believe Pete when he told you something. ”

Carl said as he walked over to his horse.  ” Because your brother never lied to me. He only got in trouble because of you. If you’re lying to me about what happened boy, I will beat you within an inch of your life. ” he said as he mounted up. He had a feeling his son was lying to him about what happened. That Madrid wasn’t the one who killed his youngest.


” I don’t want you riding a horse for several weeks John. ” Sam said.

” The way my head feels, that won’t be a problem. ” Johnny said.

” Still pounding? ”

” Not as bad, but yeah. ” he said. ” So how long you staying? ”

” I’m retired John. There’s a younger doctor who took over my patients. I came here to live. ” Sam responded.

” It gets cold here in the winter with lots of snow, and wind. ”

” I can handle the cold. ” Sam said.

” Johnny Madrid…..come out here you murdering bastard! ” Carl Simmons yelled.

” What on earth? ” Sam said.

” Come out here and face me! ”

Johnny got out of bed and slowly walked out into the living room.

” It’s Carl Simmons. ” Scott said.

” Why is he here calling you a murderer? ” Teresa asked.

” Stay in here Johnny. I’ll find out what’s going on. ” Scott said.

” No Scott, he’s pretty upset over something. Let me go. ” Teresa said. ” He won’t shoot a woman. ”

” Absolutely not. ” Johnny said.

” Come out here you back-shooting bastard. ”

” Back-shooting? ” Johnny said. ” What the hell! ” Johnny said before stepping out on the porch.

Carl watched as Johnny slowly walked outside. A bandage wrapped around his head. ” You back-shooting, murdering bastard. You murdered my boy! ”

” What the hell you talking about? ”

” Yesterday, you waited off the road, and shot Pete in the back when he rode past! ”

” I don’t know what you’re talking about Mister Simmons. Someone ambushed me yesterday on the road. ”

” My boy Jeff shot you after you killed my youngest. You blew a hole thru him with yur rifle.”

Johnny took three steps forward and grabbed the porch railing. ” I didn’t shoot your son. ”

Sam walked over to Johnny. ” Calm down John. ”

” Who are you? ”

” If you are speaking to me, my name is Sam Jenkins. I’m a doctor, and I have known this boy his whole life. He did not murder your son. ”

” Jeff said you waited until……..You never left the rode did you? ” Carl asked as Val rode into the yard.

” No. I was riding along and the next thing I know is I wake up on the road with my head covered in blood. ” Johnny said.

” He’s telling you the truth Mister Simmons. ” Val said. ” I went to where it happened. There’s only…..”

” I seen where it happened. ” Carl cut in and said. ” Jeff said you were off the road when you shot my boy in the back. He said he drew and shot you in the head, killing you. ”

” He came within a hair of killing my brother. ”

” Where Johnny was shot was on the road. There were no other tracks around him. ” Val said. ” Where your son was killed, there were two sets of tracks. One set of footprints shows your boy Jeff stood over his brother and watched him die. ”

” I did them boys wrong after their mother died. I never disciplined them. I let them get away with things they shouldn’t have. ” Carl said.

” Mister Simmons, you boy Jeff murdered his brother……I have a feeling I know why he done it. ” Val said.

” Your boy murdered Charles Rodney, and robbed him of five hundred dollars he won in a poker game your boy was playing in, and lost. ” Johnny said.

” Where’s yur boy now? ”

” I don’t know. He was gone when I got up this morning. ” Carl said. ” I’m a damn hard man Madrid, especially when it came to my boys. Like I said, I was to soft on them after their mother died. I’m not making excuses, I’m stating truth. I’m also not to hard to admit when I was wrong. I owe you an apology, I’m sorry for making false accusations against you Madrid. ”

” Mister Simmons, I came to Montana hoping to leave my past in my past. I’m not Madrid anymore. My name is Johnny Lancer. ”

” I have to arrest your boy for murder, and attempted murder. ” Val said.

” So he ran. Do you have an idea where he would run too? ” Val asked.

” He’s up in the mountains probably. He knows every inch of them. Hell he knows hiding places up there that I don’t. ” Carl said. ” You watch yourself Lancer. Jeff is real fast with a gun. ” he said before mounting up, and riding away.

Johnny smiled as he stared at Val.

” Stop yur damn gawking. Ya seen me wear a badge before. ” Val gruffed.

” So that tin star mean you’ll be leaving? ” Johnny asked.

” It does. I have a place in town they provide me ta live in, or I can sleep at the jail. ” Val said. ” Don’t think I’ll be giving you a break just because we’re friends. You screw up in my town boy, I’ll throw your butt in jail. ”

” You going to look for Jeff? ”

” Do I look stupid? He’ll come back down, and when he does, I’ll get him. ”


” How you feeling John? ” Sam asked three weeks later.

” I’m good. Glad to be able to move around and not get dizzy, and not have that damn pounding in my head anymore. ” he said. ” Let me ask you something Sam….Me and Teresa have been married nine months now, and she’s still not pregnant. ”

” It’ll happen when it’s supposed to John. In my thirty years as a doctor, I’ve come across so many couples who want to start a family right away. Just keep trying and it will happen. ” Sam responded.

Johnny laughed. ” You sure you want to leave the valley? ”

” I’m sure. Scott’s description of this place didn’t do it any justice. ”

” Summer is just starting. Have to take you trout fishing. ”

” That I look forward to doing. Scott said you have big rainbows. ”

” Bigger than a skillet. This fall I’ll be going after an elk for venison to hang in the cellar. ”

” I’ve never had elk, but I hear it’s quite good. ” Sam said.

” Sure is. Our neighbor Bill Roth owns the Beaverhead ranch brought us some last winter. Boy you talk about good meat. ”

                                                                                   Chapter 6

” Hello pa. ” Jeff said as he walked into the barn.

” What the hell you want? ” Carl demanded.

” I came to get some things I need. ”

” You need to give yourself up boy. There’s law in Missoula now. I know you murdered your brother, and I know you murdered Charles Rodney too. ” Carl said. ” Turn yourself in. ”

” I turn myself in, they’ll hang me for sure. ”

” Running away ain’t no life, and it ain’t gonna solve anything. ”

” It’s better than a noose around my neck. ”

” You always were good for nothing. ” Carl spat. ” Get the hell off my land now before forget you’re my son. ”


” You be the tin star of this town? ” Jeff asked. ” The one who’s friends with Johnny Madrid? ”

” Who are you? ” Val asked.

” Jeff Simmons. ” he responded before drawing and firing before Val’s gun cleared leather.

Val felt the bullet slam into his chest. Looking down at the red stain spreading across his chest, he staggered and fell to the ground.


” Who could that be this late at night? ” Teresa asked.

Scott got up and answered the door.

” Scott, is your brother here? ”

” He is. ” Scott said as he stepped aside and let the men enter.

”Mister Parks. What can I do for you? ” Johnny asked as he stood up.

” I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this Johnny, but……Sheriff Crawford is dead. ”

Johnny felt like he was kicked in the gut as he stood there unable to move.

” How? ” Scott asked.

” Jeff Simmons, he rode up to him on the street, gunned him down, and then rode out of town headed southeast. ” Michael explained.

” I’m worried about him Scott. ” Teresa said later that night as they sat in the kitchen. ” He hasn’t said a word since. ”

” He’s going to go after him. ” Scott said.

” We can’t let him. ” she said.

” Teresa, Val was Johnny’s good friend for a long time. I don’t want him to leave, but I’m not going to try and stop him. ”


Johnny came out of the house with his rifle, and slid it into the scabbard. He had a sleeping bag, small tarp and blanket bedroll secured along with provisions for a week in his saddlebags.

” Johnny, please don’t go. ” Teresa begged.

” I can’t believe you’re asking me to not go. I have too. I can’t let Jeff Simmons get away with gunning down the only real friend I ever had. ” Johnny said. ” I have a responsibility to fulfill. ”

” What about your responsibility to me, this ranch, and Scott? ” Teresa demanded.

” Don’t make me chose Teresa. Scott can manage the ranch while I’m gone. I thought you of all people would understand. ”

” I do, but Jeff Simmons is fast. He beat Val. I don’t want him to kill you too. ” she said with tears in her eyes.

” He didn’t beat Val, he never gave Val a chance to draw. ” he said. ” I’ll be alright. ”

” You take care of her Scott. It shouldn’t take me long to find him. ”

” I will. Bring him in alive to hang if you can brother. ” Scott said as they shook hands. ” You sure you don’t want to take Barranca on this one? ”

” I’m sure. I need a younger, stouter horse for the mountains. ”Johnny said as he swung up in the saddle. ” I’ll see you. ”

” You be careful John. ” Sam said.


Johnny sat on a hill looking down at a herd of cattle being moved.  It had been almost two months now since he left in search of his friends killer. Still full of anger, heartache and despair. He couldn’t believe his friend was gone, gunned down without a chance to defend himself.

” I promise you, I won’t stop until I find your killer my friend. ” he said as a blast of cold hit him in the face, making him hunker down in his coat more as he started down the hill.

” Cal, rider coming. ” Seth said.

” Yeah, I seen him up there watching us. ” Cal said. ” Howdy, get down and light a spell, and have a cup of coffee, and some grub. ”

” Thanks. ” Johnny said as he dismounted.

” I’m Cal Johnson, owner of the Circle Bar C ranch. This is my foreman Seth. ” Cal said as he handed him a cup of coffee, and plate of beans and biscuits.

” Johnny Lancer. Me and my brother own the Lazy Bar J. ”

” The Rodney place. Only it was called Crazy Woman ranch when Charlie had it. ” Seth said.

” You going to raise horses like Charlie was? ”

” That’s the plan. ”

” Is that one of your horses? ” Seth asked.

” Yeah. He’s a four year old. ”

” Damn good looking horse. All your stock look like this? ” Cal asked as he looked the horse over.

” Yes sir. ”

” If it’s alright, I’ll come see what you got next spring. ”

” That’s fine. You know Carl Simmons? ” Johnny asked.

” I do. He owns the Flying D across the river from your ranch. Why? ”

” I’m looking for his son Jeff. ”

” Can I ask why? ” Cal asked.

” He’s wanted for murdering his brother and Sheriff Crawford. ” Johnny said.

” That boy ain’t ever been right since their mother died. ” Seth said.

” Jeff came thru here a week ago. His horse went lame, we didn’t know about the murders. His horse just needed rest, said he was headed to Cody on business. ”

” Much obliged for the information, coffee, and food. ” Johnny said before mounting up.

” You got any provisions? ” Cal asked.

” Just what I have in my saddlebags. ” Johnny said.

” Joe, bring that extra pack-horse over here, and throw an extra tarp on him. ” Cal ordered. ” You take this pack-horse and provisions with you. ”

” I seen you once, down south a few years ago. ” Seth said. ” Only your name wasn’t Lancer, it was Madrid. ”

” I used to be. ” Johnny responded. ” I don’t have enough money to pay you for that. ”

” Montana is a good place for a man to leave his past behind, and start a new life. ” Cal said. ” You can pay me by catching that boy, and not getting yourself killed Lancer. ”

” Jeff likes the ladies. He’ll stop at every whorehouse he can between here and Cody. ” Seth said.

” You’re moving your herd down a might early? ”

” I have a feeling it’s going to be an early winter this year in the mountains. ” Cal said. ” That place Roosevelt dedicated as our first national park, Yellowstone already has snow so deep, cattle and horses can’t move. Bison is the only animal able to tread thru it. You top that next rise, look southeast and you’ll see. ”

” There a way to ride around it? ” Johnny asked.

” There is, but it will add five hundred miles if you go east and then south. Six hundred miles if you go west, south, and then east. ”

” Thanks..” Johnny rode away hating he would have to go into Wyoming to catch Jeff, which meant he would be gone away from his family longer thanks to early deep snow in the mountains.


” Young lady, can I ask when you started feeling sick? ” Sam asked.

” It started the other morning. ”

” Just in the mornings? ”

” Yes, I thought maybe I got a cold. ”

” Young lady, it’s not a cold… are with child. ” Sam said.

” Pregnant….are you sure Sam? ”

” Yes. Given the symptoms you are having, I would say you will have a baby come November. ”

” November. ”

” What’s in November? ” Scott asked as he walked into the house.

” Scott…..You’re going to be an uncle come November. ” Teresa said.

” An uncle……really? ”

” Yes really. ” Teresa said.

” Congratulations. ” he said as he gave her a hug.


Johnny, cold and hungry, decided to stop in the trees where the snow wasn’t as deep, and he could stay dry. Two hours later he sat down to enjoy a cup of coffee, and hot plate of bean. Leaning back against his saddle, he started thinking about  Teresa, and how angry she was that he left to avenge his friends death.  She said she understood, but he couldn’t help but wonder if she really did understand. ” If I hadn’t talked you into coming to Montana with me, you would still be alive, I’m sorry Val. ” he said as a tear ran down his cheek. I fully intend on keeping my promise to you my friend. Jeff Simmons will be sent to hell. ”


Johnny rode into Cody, Wyoming, and stabled his horse at the livery. Checking the horses in the stalls, he found a bay with the Circle Bar C brand on it.

” Can I help you? ” the owner asked.

” The man who rode in on this horse, he about six feet tall, brown hair, in his early twenties? ” Johnny asked.

” Who’s asking? ”

” Johnny Lancer. I’ve been tracking the man from Missoula. He’s wanted for murdering the sheriff. ”

” That’s him. Rode in yesterday. He’s at the whore house. ” he said. ” Want to stable your horses? ”

” Yeah, they’ve earned a good nights rest and feed. How much? ”

” Four bits each. ”

Johnny paid the man before pulling his rifle from the scabbard, and saddlebags off. ” Thanks. Is there a lawman in this town? ”

” Nope. ”

Walking outside, he seen there was a telegraph office, so he headed there to let Teresa, and Scott know where he was. Once done, he headed to the hotel to get a room for the night, a hot bath, and something to eat before going to the brothel to confront Jeff.


” What can I do for you? ” a woman asked.

” I’m looking for someone. I was told he’s been staying here. ” Johnny said. ” About six feet, brown hair, early twenties. Came in yesterday. ”

” That describes a lot of my customers. ”

” This one’s wanted for murdering his brother, and a sheriff in Missoula. He’s a dangerous man lady. ”

” My names Sylvia. I’m the owner. I have a man fits that description been here a week. ”

” What room? ” Johnny asked.

” Top of stairs. ”

Johnny went to the top of the stairs, pulled his colt, and opened the door slowly. Stepping inside, he cocked his colt.

The girl laying next to Jeff froze in fear when she seen Johnny step into the room with his gun drawn.

Johnny put a finger to his lips as he walked over to the bed, cocked his pistol and pressed it against Jeff’s temple.

Jeff jerked awake. ” You got me at a disadvantage Madrid. ”

” Like Sheriff Crawford when you killed him, or your brother when you shot him in the back? ” Johnny said as he glanced at the girl standing in the corner in fear. ” Get out. ”

The girl ran from the room, leaving the door open.

Johnny stepped to the end of the bed. ” Get up and get dressed. ” he ordered.

” Where we going? ” Jeff asked as he slipped his pants on.

” You’re under arrest for murder. ” Johnny said.

” I ain’t swinging from no rope. ” Jeff said.

” Let’s go. ” Johnny said as he picked up Jeff’s gunbelt.

” I thought for sure I killed you that day I shot you in the head. Is that why you came after me? Or is it because I killed that worthless tin star sheriff? I enjoyed riding up to him and blowing him away. ” Jeff said as they started down the stairs. ” You know, come to think of it, I think I enjoyed killing him more than I did killing my own brother. ”

” Shut up and move! ” Johnny ordered.

” Look at this folks, big bad Johnny Madrid thinks he’s gonna take me all the way back to Missoula, Montana to hang for killing some worthless tin star sheriff and my brother. ” Jeff said as he walked down the stairs. ” It’s a long ride back to Missoula Madrid. You sure you’re up to it with winter already starting in the mountains, we could freeze to death. ”

Johnny grabbed Jeff by the arm, and jerked him around. ” You’re not going back to Montana. ” Johnny said. ” You think you’re so hot and fast with a gun, I’m going to give you a chance. You’re going to walk out in that street and face me. You’re a big man when you shoot someone in the back, or gun them down in cold blood. Let’s see how you are when you’re facing someone who can shoot back. ”

” The law says you have to take me back to stand trial Madrid. ”

” You’re forgetting one thing, I’m not a lawman. Move! ” Johnny said.

” You’re Johnny Madrid? ” the woman asked.

” I used to be ma’am. ” Johnny said before walking outside. ” Put that on. ” he ordered as he tossed Jeff’s gunbelt to him. ” put it on. ”

Jeff caught the gunbelt. ” I’m not facing you. ”

” Put it on! ”

” No….I ain’t facing you Madrid. ” Jeff said. ” You can’t make me draw against you! ”

” Face me or hang. ” Johnny said as he shoved Jeff out into the street. ” Put it on or hang! What’s it going to be? ”

Jeff knew Madrid was serious. Strapping on his gun, he stepped out into the street. Clenching his hands several times to try and stop them from shaking. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest as a sick feeling came over him as he watched Madrid step out into the street and face him.

Johnny knew what the kid was feeling when he walked out into the street and faced him. ” Shaking hands, sweating, heart pounding in your chest. It’s no picnic facing someone is it boy? ”

” I know what you’re trying to do……..You’re trying to make me afraid of you, well I’m not. I can beat you. ”

Johnny drew and fired, hitting Jeff square in the chest before he could clear leather. Standing there, he watched as the kid looked down at the red stain spreading across his chest. He knew the kid was dead. His bullet tearing right thru his heart.

Holstering his colt as a man in a suit walked up to him.

” Twenty dollars will cover his funeral. ”

” Wrap him in a blanket and stick him in the ground. I ain’t paying twenty dollars to bury that murdering bastard. ” Johnny said as he handed the man five dollars before walking away.


” Got a telegram from Johnny. He’s in Cody, Wyoming. ” Scott said.

” Wyoming! He’s been gone two months. I thought he would be home by now! ”

” I’m sure he did too Teresa. ” Scott said.

” He never should have left. ” she said.

” Teresa, you know what Val meant to Johnny as a friend. ”

” Yes, but he should have let a marshal handle it. He has responsibilities now. ”

” To John, finding the man who killed his friend is one of those responsibilities Teresa. ” Sam said. ” I’m sure if he knew you were pregnant he wouldn’t have left. ”

” You and I both know he still would have left Scott. ” she said. ” I just miss him. ”

” I know you do. He’ll be home in time to see his child born. ” Scott said.


” Looks like a line-shack. ” Johnny said.

” A line-shack? ”

” Yeah, ranchers have them built on their property for the hands to stay in when needed. They usually keep them stocked with food and wood. ” he said as he dismounted. ” Stay here while I check it out. ”

Three days ago he couldn’t believe his eyes when he rode up on a woman all alone with no food, bedding, or anything. All he had been able to get from her was her name, Susan Brown, and nothing more. Having the extra horse he was returning to the Circle Bar C ranch made travel a little easier for them.

” It’s empty. ” Johnny said. ” Go on in out of the wind. I’ll take care of the horses. ”

Johnny wasn’t comfortable being alone with the woman, but had no choice. He couldn’t leave her to freeze to death. The first town they came too, he would send her to wherever she wanted to go.


” Congratulations Teresa, you have a beautiful little girl. ” Sam said as he wrapped the baby in a blanket.

” We have a daughter? ” she asked as she took the baby in her arms.

” I’m going to go out and let Scott know. You want him to come in? ”

” Yes. ” she said as she held her baby.

Sam walked out into the living room. ” Scott, you are an uncle to a beautiful little girl. ”

” Is Teresa alright? ”

” She’s fine. You can go in and see them. ”

Scott smiled when he walked into the bedroom, and around the bed to see his niece. ” How you feeling? ” he asked as he sat down next to the bed.

” Tired. ” she said. ” Would you like to hold her? ”

” I sure would. ” Scott said as Sam took the baby and placed her in his arms. ” Hey little one. I’m your uncle Scott. Boy is Johnny ever going to be surprised when he comes home. ”

” If he comes home. ” Teresa said.

” So what’s her name? ” Scott asked.

” Sylvia Lancer. ”

” Well Sylvia Lancer, welcome to the family. ”

” You young lady need to rest. I will check on you later. ”

” Scott, could you ride into town and see if there’s a wire from Johnny? ”

” As soon as the snow stops I will. ”

” It’s snowing? ”

Scott handed the baby back to her, walked over, and opened the curtains so she could see the snow falling.

” I guess that snow is what’s keeping Johnny from making it back to us little girl. ” she said. ” he’s going to love you so much. ”


” I met Ben….my husband back in Indiana. I was coming out of the mercantile, and he walked right into me. ” Susan said as she set her plate down. ” We got married and he decided he wanted to go west two years later. We started into the mountains,  he decided he was done with me. When he left he said he didn’t want a wife who couldn’t give him children, and that no man deserves a woman like that. I’ve seen five full moons so that’s how long I’ve been out here. ”

” You’ve been wandering in these mountains for five months without seeing another person? ”

” You’re the first person I’ve seen. ” she said. ” So what about you? You’re no prospector. Why are you in these mountains? ”

” Just passing thru headed back home from Cody. ” he said.

” Something brought you here. ” she said.

” I was fulfilling a promise to an old friend. ”

” Must be some friend. ” Susan said as she walked over to look out the window.

” He was right up to the day he was murdered. ” Johnny said as he set his plate down. ” I tracked his killer to Cody, and sent him to hell. ”

” Snow is really coming down. ”

Johnny spread his sleeping bag on one of the two cots, removed his gunbelt, and hung it on the post before he sat down and took his boots off. ” I’ll make sure the fire stays stoked so you stay warm. ” he said as he unbuttoned his shirt and removed it.

Susan watched from the window as Johnny snuggled down into his blanket. Walking over to the other cot, she laid down, and immediately fell asleep.

Johnny woke up just after midnight and stoked the fire. Walking over to the window he looked out to see the snow was still coming down hard. ” Damn. ”

” What’s wrong? ” Susan asked as she got up, and wrapped her blanket around her before walking over to him. ” The snow still coming down hard? ”

” Yeah. Sorry I woke you up. ” Johnny said before walking back over to his bed, and sat down.

Susan walked over to stand in front of him, and dropped her blanket to the floor. Standing there in just her bloomers, she knelt down in front of Johnny, and brought her mouth up to his. ” We can keep each other warm. ” she said as she placed her hands on his thighs.

Johnny knew that if he allowed Susan to continue to touch him like she was, he wouldn’t be able to stop her. Sitting on the cot he put his hands on hers, but when she brought her mouth to his, and ran her tongue over his bottom lip, he kissed her back, moaning when she touched him. Grabbing her hands, he stopped her.

” I can’t do this Susan. I’m married, and I love my wife very much. ”

” Oh god, I’m so sorry Johnny. You must think……..I’m sorry. ”

” What are your plans? ” Johnny asked the next morning.

” I don’t really know. I haven’t given it much thought really. ” she said. ” Actually….I thought I was going to die out here. If you hadn’t found me, I never would have survived this storm. ”

” What did you do back where you came from? ” he asked.

” Nothing. Ben wouldn’t let me work. ” she said. ” He said he wasn’t having his wife work. ”

” You said you can’t have kids. Can I ask why? ”

Susan sat up. ” Three years before I met Ben I was…….violated by a man. It was so bad, the doctor said I would never be able to be a mother. ” she explained as tears ran down her cheeks. ” I left that town after the trial, and settled in another town wanting to put it all behind me. After we got married, he was persistent on getting me pregnant. After a year and a half of trying, he got angry one night and started beating me. That’s when I told him about what happened…….The next day we left and you know the rest. ”

Johnny sat up. ”  It’s not always easy to leave your past behind. It has a way of nudging at you. Showing up when you don’t want it too. ”

” You saying that from experience? ”

” I am. My past has a way of showing up sometimes. ” he said. ” I used to be someone else a few years ago. I used to be a gunfighter down along the border of Mexico. I’ve got a second chance to leave that behind me and live a good life. ”

” You were a gunfighter? ”

” I used to be. ” he said softly. ” Where you want to go? ”

” The coast. I’ve always wanted to see the ocean. I hear there are plenty of towns building up all along there. ”

” If that’s what you want to do, I can help you get there. ”

” You’d do that for me? ” she asked as she turned to face him. ” Who’s Teresa?”

” My wife. ” he said.

” She’s a very lucky lady to have a man like you. Most men wouldn’t refuse what was offered them last night. ” she said. ” You sure now how to set a girl on fire when you kiss them. ”

                                                                                  Chapter 7 ( final chapter )

” Mister Johnson, take a look at who’s coming. ” Seth said.

” Well I’ll be damned. I thought maybe you got buried in a snowstorm Lancer. ” Cal said.

” I thought you should have your horse back. ” Johnny said.

” So I take it you caught up with Jeff? ” he asked.

” Yeah, he was in Cody like you said he’d be. ”

” You’re more than welcome to stay the night. ” Cal suggested.

” Thanks, but I’ve been gone away from my ranch long enough. ” Johnny said.

” Alright. I’ll see you in a couple months to look over that stock you have. ”


Johnny stopped on the hill and looked down at Val’s grave. ” Hey buddy. I kept my promise. I sent him to hell for what he did to you Val.” he said with tears in his eyes. ” You didn’t deserve to die like that buddy. I miss you. ” he said as he looked down at his ranch.

Seeing his brother come out of the barn, and stop, he knew he’d been spotted. ” Let’s go home boy. ”

Scott smiled when Johnny rode up. ” Welcome home brother. ”

Johnny dismounted and got pulled into a hug. ” It’s good to be home. Where’s Teresa? ”

” In the house. I’ll take care of your horses. ” Scott said. ” You go on inside and surprise her. ”

” Scott what………Johnny. ” Teresa said before she ran to him.

Johnny wrapped his arm around Teresa lightly as she hugged him. Giving her a quick kiss. ” Where’s Sam? ”

” He moved into town last month. ” Teresa said. ” I’m glad you’re home. ”

” It’s good to be home again. ” Johnny said as they walked into the house. ” Damn early snow in the mountains it took me longer to get to Cody and back. ”

”Johnny. ” Teresa said from behind him.

Johnny turned around to find Teresa standing there holding a baby.

” Would you like to meet your daughter? ”

Johnny walked over and looked at the baby she was holding. ” A daughter? ”

” I found out after you left. ” she said as she handed the baby to him. ” Her name is Sylvia. She was born in November. ”

” She’s beautiful. ” he said.  ” I’m sorry I wasn’t here when she was born. ”

” It’s alright. ” Teresa said. ” Just make sure you’re here for our next child. ”

” What do you think of my niece? ” Scott asked as he walked into the house.

” She has your hair. ” he said. ” You look just like your mother. ”

” She has your eyes. ” Teresa said.

” She’s yawning. ”

” She’s usually asleep right now, but meeting her father was worth waking her up. ” she said as she walked over and took Sylvia from Johnny. ” Why don’t you go take a hot bath before supper. ”

” I think I will. Oh Scott, the pack-horse belongs to the Circle Bar C ranch on the other side of the mountains in Wyoming. The owner,Cal Johnson is gonna come and check out our horses. He was impressed with that gelding I took. ” Johnny said. ” He’s the one who told me where Jeff was headed. Otherwise I might still be out there looking for him. ”

” I noticed the brand. ” Scott said.


” Have either of you seen Johnny? ” Teresa asked.

” Not since earlier. ” Scott said.

” Teresa, you might want to go look in your bedroom. ” Sam suggested.

Teresa went to the bedroom and smiled when she looked inside. Johnny was laying on the bed sound asleep with his daughter next to him, his hand holding hers.

” I guess he won’t be eating supper. ”

” It appears not. ” Scott said.


” We lost some big trees over winter that will be good firewood next winter. ” Scott said.

” You got a good deal on those two draft horses to pull them logs up. ” Johnny aid as someone knocked on the door. ” You put the bill of sale in the file? ” he asked as he walked over and opened the door. ” Mister Johnson, Seth, what are you doing here? ”

” I told you I would come look at your stock. ” Cal said as they walked into the house.

” I’ve been so busy since I got back, I totally forgot. ” Johnny said. ” Cal, Seth this is my brother Scott, and my wife Teresa. ”

” Scott, ma’am. I had to come up this way so I thought I would stop by. Is now a bad time? ”

” No, no. I’ll be glad to show you some horses. ” Johnny said. ” Scott, go ahead and finish what we were doing. I’ll be back later. ”

Teresa knew something was wrong. Something happened while her husband was gone. Since coming home three weeks ago, Johnny was quiet, and distant except when with his daughter. Every afternoon he took her, and walked up to visit Val’s grave. At night, he wouldn’t even attempt to make love to her, or hold her. She had a gut feeling that whatever was bothering him involved a woman.

” Scott, have you noticed a difference in Johnny since he came back? ”

” He’s quiet and seems a little distant. ” he said as he poured a cup of coffee.

” Something happened on his trip that changed him. Did you notice how he greeted me? He barely gave me a hug and kiss. ” She said. ” He didn’t even seem to care that Sam moved into town. ”

” You know Johnny, he’ll talk about whatever it is when he’s ready. ” Scott said.


” I like what I see. ” Cal said. ” I’ll tell you what, I’ll take thirty head and pay you fifty dollars each. ”

” They’re not broke yet. ” Johnny said.

” That’s alright. I got men who can break them. ”

” You have longhorns I see. ” Seth said.

” Yeah, Charles Rodney brought them in. ”

” How many you have? ”

” Couple hundred. ” he said.

” You interested in selling some of the she stock and a couple bulls? ” Cal asked.

” Yeah. Me and Scott talked about selling off most of them. ”

” Tell you what, I’ll pay you a four thousand dollars for thirty head of horses and a hundred head of longhorns. ” Cal said.

” That’s more than a fair price Mister Johnson. ” Johnny said. ” You got yourself a deal. ”

” Good, I’ll send Seth back next month with some men to drive them to my ranch. He’ll have a bank draft for you when he comes back. ”

” I’ll have the two bill of sales ready. ” Johnny said as he shook the mans hand. ” Can you stay the night? ”

” We can’t. We have someplace else we have to be. ” Cal said.


” How’d you do? ” Scott asked later that night.

” He bought thirty head of horses and a hundred head of cows and bulls for four thousand dollars. Seth will be back with some men next month to move them. ”

” Johnny, what happened while you were gone that changed you? ” Teresa cut in and asked. ” You’ve been distant and quiet since you came home. ”

” Teresa! ”

” No Scott, I have a right to know. ” she said firmly. ” You’ve been cold toward me, and I want to know what happened. ”

Johnny glared at Teresa a few seconds before standing up. ” You don’t want to know. ” he said before going outside on the porch.

” I told you he will tell us when the time is right. ” Scott said as he stood up. ” Stop being so damn suspicious. ”

Johnny grabbed the railing of the porch to try and stop shaking. Closing his eyes as the image of Susan came back to him. It wasn’t sleeping with her that haunted him. It was seeing what the cat had done to her. Hearing the door open, he wiped at the tears that ran down his cheeks.

Scott could see his brother shaking and knew whatever he was battling with was bad. Opening the door, he stepped out and stood next to his brother. Placing a hand on his back, feeling his body shaking. ” Whatever it is brother….I’m here for you. ”

Johnny cleared his throat. ” I just need a minute. ”

Scott gently squeezed his right arm before going back inside.

Johnny took a deep breath, and wiped his face. ” Suck it up Madrid. ” he said before going back inside. Walking over to the sideboard, he poured a shot of tequila, downed it, and poured another before taking the bottle, and walking back over to the kitchen table to sit down.

” I found Jeff in a whorehouse in Cody. He was with a girl when I went into the room and took him at gunpoint. I made him go outside, and forced him to choose between a bullet or hanging. I fulfilled my promise to the best friend I ever had. A friend who is now laying in the ground up on that hill out back. ” Johnny said before downing the shot, and pouring another.

” I was riding in the mountains, headed back when I came across a woman starved, cold, all alone wearing just a dress. After I got her fed and warmed up, she told me her name was Susan Brown. I couldn’t leave her there, so I took her with me. I told her I would help her get to wherever she wanted to go the next town we came too. ” he said as he looked at Teresa. ” A storm came up, and we found this line-shack to stay in. We were there two days before the storm finally stopped. While there she told me how she met her husband Ben and how she ended up out there where I found her. She said before she met her bastard husband, she lived in another town where she was raped. It was so bad,she could never have children. Her husband after a year and a half trying decided to beat her one night, and she told him why she wasn’t pregnant, and could never have children. He packed her up, and rode into the mountains where he left her to die. When I found her, she said she had been out there four months. ”

” He just left her there to die? ” Scott asked.

” Yeah. Told her he didn’t want a woman for his wife who couldn’t give him children, and lied to him. ”

” Where is she now? ” Teresa asked. ” I mean, where did she want to go? ”

” She’s dead. We started breaking camp just before dawn two days after we left the line-shack. The horses started spooking, so I went to see what was wrong. ” Johnny said. ” I was with the horses when I heard her blood curdling scream. When I got to her….a mountain lion had her by her head dragging her away. She was dead, her throat and chest were ripped open. I didn’t know the cat was there. I…I couldn’t help her. ” he said before standing up. ” You wanted to know, now you do. ” he said with anger before grabbing the bottle and going outside.

Teresa sat there as tears ran down her cheeks. ” Scott, I……I didn’t know it…..”

” That’s why I said to give him time, but no, you just had to push him. Well, now you know. ” Scott said before he headed outside to be with his brother.


Johnny looked down at his beautiful sleeping daughter in the crib next to the bed. ” Goodnight beautiful. ” he said softly as he bent down and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Walking back around the bed, he climbed in and snuggled up behind Teresa. Placing his hand on her hip, he gently rolled her onto her back and ran his hand down between her legs, and started rubbing her. ” Can I have you? ” he asked when he noticed her eyes were open.

Teresa pulled him on top of her, welcoming his touch as she wrapped her legs around him, begging him to enter her.

” If our next child is a boy…..I want to name him Val. ” Johnny said an hour later as Teresa lay curled up next to him with her head on his left shoulder.

” I was going to ask if you would want to do that. I know what Val meant to you, and I’m sorry if I seemed angry when you left. ”

” I did, but I got over it. ” he said before kissing her on the forehead.

” I’m sorry I pushed you at supper. I knew something happened that bothered you. I just……I’m sorry. ”

” What did you think it was? ” he asked.

” Honestly, I thought you slept with another woman, and then you tell me you spent two nights together in a line-shack. ”

Johnny gently grabbed her chin and turned her face so he could look in her eyes. ” I told you when we moved here that you complete me. You give me everything I want querida. There’s not another woman out there who could satisfy me like you do. ” he said. ” I’m not about to risk losing you just to bed another woman. ”

” So she didn’t try to get friendly with you? ”

Johnny sat up, and scooted back against the headboard.

” She tried. ” he said softly. ” I’m not going to lie to you Teresa. She started kissing me, and I kissed her back….I lost it when she ran her tongue over my bottom lip, and I let her…..I kissed her back, tasting her for a minute or so. That’s all that happened, I swear. I stopped her when she touched me. ”

” I see. Did she get mad at you? ” Teresa asked.

” No, she was ashamed at herself for trying to seduce a married man. ”

” You didn’t have to tell me, but I thank you for your honesty. ” she said as she played with his chest hairs.

Johnny took a deep breath and slowly let it out. ” I couldn’t protect her. I failed her Teresa. I told that woman I would get her out of the mountains safely, and I failed. ” he said softly as the tears threatened to spill. ” She told me she was scared to death she was going to die out there all alone. ”

Teresa sat up and looked at her husband, shocked she was seeing a side of him she never seen before. ” She didn’t die alone Johnny. You were with her. ”

” No I wasn’t. I was with the horses. If I had been with her, that cat wouldn’t have been able to attack her. ” he said.

” Johnny, you had no way of knowing it was a mountain lion the horses were spooking from. ” she said. ” You had no way of knowing that cat would come to the fire, and attack her.

” I’ve seen a lot of death, but seeing her……seeing what that cat did to her in a matter of seconds…..I can’t get it out of my head. ” he said.

Teresa could see he was trembling. Reaching for him, she pulled him to her breast, and just held him as he let the tears finally fall. ” It will be alright. She wasn’t alone my love. Susan was very lucky to have you with her when she died. ”


” Hello Murdoch. ” Cal Johnson said. ” Been a while. ”

” Cal, what brings you here? ”

” I was in San Francisco visiting my sister and thought I would stop and see an old friend. ”

” I didn’t know your sister lives in San Francisco now. ”

” She’s been living there with her mother going on ten years now. ”

” Well come on inside. ”

” Thanks. Hey listen, did you ever find your youngest son……..Johnny? ” Cal asked.

” Johnny…….he’s dead. ” Murdoch said as he handed Cal his drink. ” He was killed in Mexico.”

” And your oldest boy Scott, is he still in Boston? ”

” I assume he is. Why all the questions about my……..Scott and Johnny, Cal? ”

” There’s a new ranch started up a days ride from me in Montana, called the Lazy Bar J. The owners are real nice. ” Cal said.

” A couple brothers named, Scott, and Johnny Lancer. Now I don’t know why you just lied to me about your boy being dead because he’s not. He has a forty thousand acre horse ranch in a pristine area of Montana. I bought thirty head of horses from him as well as a hundred head of longhorn cattle. ”

” I don’t care to discuss personal business with you Cal. As far as I’m concerned, that killer is dead to me. ”

” Killer, you must be referring to his past as Johnny Madrid while in Mexico. ” Cal said as he set the untouched drink down. ” I don’t know what’s happened to you Murdoch Lancer. What I do know is you obviously know nothing about either one of your sons. It’s a shame Johnny and Teresa’s daughter will grow up without her grandfather in her life. ” he said before walking out.

Murdoch walked over to the door. ” I have no sons Cal. ”

” You have two wonderful boys Murdoch, you just choose not to. ” Cal said before riding away.


Johnny stood on the hill looking out over his ranch six years later with his four year old  son at his side. ” All this will be yours some day Val. ” he said. Turning he walked over to look at the four graves. Sam Jenkins had passed away from a heart attack a year after delivering his son.

” Papa, when can I help with the horses? ” Val asked.

” You mean rounding them up? ”

” Uh huh. ”

” You have some growing to do first. It’s dangerous work rounding up horses. ” Johnny said. ” Your mother would have my hide if I took you with me. You know, your mother did say you could go elk hunting this fall with me and Uncle Scott. ”

” Really? ”

Johnny scooped his son up in his arms, flipped him over so he could sit on his shoulders, and started walking down the hill toward home.

” You go on inside and get cleaned up for supper. ” Johnny said as he set Val down on the ground.

” I seen you up on the hill. Did you tell him? ” Scott asked.

” I did. He’s excited. We’ve come a long way brother. ”

” Yes we have. ”

” You know, I was standing up there looking down at this place, and it got me to thinking about everything we’ve lost, and everything we now have seven years later. ” he said. ”  I have a big brother who is the best, a loving wife who gave me a beautiful son and daughter, and a ranch that is becoming well known for the quality of horses we work so hard to train. ”

” You having regrets? ”

” Regrets, hell no. I was just thinking that all we have now is because of one thing that changed our lives forever brother. ”

” What’s that? ” Scott asked.

” The price of revenge. ” Johnny said.

The End:
12 – 21 – 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.



4 thoughts on “The Price of Revenge by Nancy Marie

  1. Saw your post that it was up and had to read it. This is one of my favorites that you’ve written. But, why kill poor Val?? Loved the rest of the story. The inclusion of Harlan was masterful. Murdoch is an idiot. Talk about thickheaded Scotsmen. Looking forward to your next one.


  2. Great story, this is my second time reading this and it never gets old. Thank you for sharing your talent and keeping Lancer land alive. JML always ♥️


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: