Chapter 1

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"Papa, I will be fine. I want to stay in Charleston for a little while longer. I have so enjoyed getting to know my cousins, and the city." Ellie begged her father, giving him her saddest look.

"Ellie honey, I just don't feel comfortable letting you travel alone. It's just not safe." Levi replied. He truly hated denying his children anything.

"I am twenty years old! That's only one year younger than Aunt Faith was when she came looking for you!"

"Yes, and I wanted to choke her for doing it too!" None of his children had ever been told about Faith's abduction on her journey out west.

"What if I come with her?" Lydia Matthews asked her uncle. "I have always wanted to travel out west and I am twenty three." Lydia was Levi's younger brother Malcolm's oldest child. Despite being raised by Malcolm and Sarnia, his stuck up wife, the girl was nothing like them. She didn't care about fashion, needle point, and socials. She preferred to read, garden and ride horses; because of that, she wasn't her mother or her father's favorite. Her parents did as little with her as possible. Lydia was more like Ellie than any of Malcolm's other children. "Please Uncle Levi," she begged. Her slate blue eyes held a desperation that he knew all too well. This place had a way of suffocating a person.


His horse shifted uneasily mirroring the feeling of his rider. A tan leather gloved hand reached out to affectionately pat the horse's neck in an attempt to calm him. "Easy boy, I don't like this anymore than you do." The deep soothing voice of the rider had the desired effect. The beast settled down and patiently waited for whatever came next.

Off in the distance the shrill whistle of the train split the air. The puffs of smoke from the engine were tinted orange from the reflection of the sun just before it slipped below the horizon. "All right men, the payroll for the railroad is on that train. So let's go get paid!"

Seven horses began to make their way down the hill to a small copse of trees about fifty yards from the tracks. As soon as the engine passed by, they all kicked their horses in to a full out run. Seconds later the men were boarding the train. They split into groups of two as they entered the cars, one from the front and one from the back. The final man made his way to the engine to stop the train.

As soon as they entered the cars with their bandanas covering the lower part of their faces and their guns drawn, women began to scream. Blake Weston looked around, taking note of where the women and children were. A younger man began to slowly reach for his gun. "Don't do it. I'd hate to make the little lady next to you a widow at such a young age." The man looked over at his young expecting wife, her terror filled eyes begging him to obey. Nodding, he sat back in his seat, placing his palms on his thighs, showing that he meant to make no moves. Blake walked over and removed the gun that had been in the man's coat pocket.

Once the train came to a complete stop, all of the men were put in the back car, the women were put in the first car, and the children were moved to the second car. One woman refused to take her small baby to the car with the children and leave him. "Please," the woman begged, "he's only four weeks old."

Angel's finger tightened on the cold metal trigger of his .45. His first inclination was to shoot the woman and be done with it but he knew it would only bring more trouble. It was one thing to rob a train but killing a woman and her brat would have an angry posse hunting them down faster than anything else.

"You will not shoot her!" A woman said in a firm voice, without any trace of fear and her head held high in defiance. Angel lowered his gun and looked at the young mother. "Go sit down and shut up before I change my mind!" The mother threw the blonde woman a grateful look, choked back a sob and quickly took a seat on the opposite side of the train car. The blonde sat back down beside a brunette and quickly grabbed her hand. When the blonde turned her head to whisper something to the other woman, Angel could see a C shaped scar running from the corner of her right eye curving around and stopping under her cheek bone. She has spirit, and for some reason the scar intrigued him. She would have been beautiful if it hadn't been for that.

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