Chapter Seven

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"I'm going hunting." Zachary said when they arrived at the house.

"Already following orders." Tim said with a grin. Zachary shrugged.

"She's right about needing meat. Last night I talked to a man who told me about a big cattle sale tomorrow down in Rolling Prairie so I'll go there then."

"Would it be okay if I go hunting too, boss?" Tim asked Samantha. She laughed as she got off her and mare and led her toward the barn.

"As long as you're both back by suppertime." she said waving her hand dismissively.

"Haha. She's great." Tim said to Zachary once she was out of earshot.

"I know." he replied suddenly seeming very interested in his horses front leg. "In my parents old room under the bed there's a rifle and some ammo you can use today."

"Be right back." Tim said as he jumped off his horse and walked into the house. Zachary had just finished unhooking his horse from the cart when he heard Samantha's scream come from the barn.. He drew a revolver and ran to the barn as fast as he could.

"Samantha, are you okay?" he called out, not seeing her. Her voice answered him from the back stall.

"Yes Zachary I'm fine. Sorry I worried you but this little guy scared me." he walked down to the stall holstering his gun when he saw the puppy laying in Samantha's lap on the ground.

The innocence of the scene struck Zachary. He had been living the hard life for so long he had forgotten that such beauty and simplicity existed.

Samantha had a happy smile on her face. Her cheeks were flushed from her recent fear and her light freckles stood out. Her red hair was all pulled up but a few loose tendrils had escaped down her neck.

She was down on her knees in the straw holding that puppy and cooing as if it were a newborn baby. Zachary prayed that now that he had this woman these happy moments that had once seemed rare would become more common. Maybe the life of kill or be killed and chasing demons was over.

"I can see why you were scared. He looks ferocious."

"Oh hush. I was putting the mare in her stall and this little guy stuck his nose up my skirts. Nearly gave me a heart attack."

"Hey that's my job" Zachary said kneeling down and patting the floppy eared pup on the head. Samantha smiled and felt a delicious little shiver has his knee bumped into hers. Their eyes locked but then the pup growled and nipped at Zachary's hand.

"He's hungry." Samantha said.

"I'll be right back." Zachary stood and walked back out to his horse. He opened his saddlebag trying to push back the passion that Samantha had stirred within him. He was just taking some jerky out when Tim walked back out of the house.

"Found it." he said holding up the rifle. "What was Samantha screaming about?"

"She got attacked by a dog." Zachary replied. Tim's eyes widened.

"Is she okay?" he asked.

"I'm fine." Samantha replied walking out of the barn with the pup on her heels.

"She's lucky she survived." Zachary added dryly. Tim laughed.

"Look who's becoming a regular old comedian." he said. Zachary held out the jerky to the pup who ate it quickly.

"We'll make sure we get some rabbits for the dog." he said.

"Jake." Samantha corrected. "It was my brothers name." she added when Zachary raised his brow.

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