Chapter Thirteen

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Tim hadn't left Samantha's side in four days. She hadn't been awake very often in that time. After they'd arrived in Paco he'd taken her straight to Reverend Channing's house. The reverend and his wife had welcomed them in and Judith had quickly led Tim, who carried Samantha, to a small spare bedroom. Tim laid her down and left the room for Judith to clean the sleeping girl off and change her clothes.

Tim had explained what he knew to the Reverend and then had left to go get Doctor Grey. After the doctor had examined her and said that she was physically okay and confirmed that she had probably lost the baby he handed Tim a bottle of sedatives.

"If she wakes up and is too distraught then just give her one of these pills and it will help her fall back asleep. All I can say is to make sure she gets plenty of rest… Those men were rough on her." he'd said sadly and then he had left.

Sure enough several hours later Samantha had woken up screaming. Tim had tried to quiet her but it was impossible. She kept screaming for Zachary and screaming that she had lost their baby and Tim had been forced to give her the medicine and she had soon fallen back into a deep sleep. This had been a repeating pattern for days.

Today was the fourth day and the sun was almost set. He knew that Zachary should be arriving soon and he walked outside to watch the dusty main street for him. He rubbed the back of his neck with a weary hand. He hadn't had much sleep since coming into town…. Even though at first the Channing's had been against him staying in the room with Samantha saying that it was improper, they had quickly learned that they weren't going to change his mind and had given up. Judith had made sure that food was brought to him and Samantha several times a day and though he had managed to get Samantha to swallow some broth in her sleep he could see that she was losing weight.

Pounding hooves drew his attention back to the road and Zachary stopped his horse in front of the hotel. He hitched the stallion and pulled something green from the saddlebag before walking up toward the hotel door.

"Zachary we're over here!" Tim called. Zachary turned and saw Tim standing on the Channing's front walk. He jogged across the street to meet him.

"Where's Sam?" Zachary asked trying to hide the fear in his voice. Tim looked at him, his face full of exhaustion and sadness when he saw the green bundle in his friends arms was a baby quilt.

"She's in the house…. She's….." Tim was cut off when Samantha's screams again filled air.

"Zachary! Get away from me, Judith, I need Zachary!" Zachary was gone in a flash. He burst into the house and followed her screams up the stairs taking them four at a time. He entered the room and froze in his tracks.

Samantha's face was bruised… Her hair was limp and lifeless. She was wearing a thin white night dress and bruises were visible up and down her arms. She saw him and jumped out of the bed and into his arms. He held her tightly smoothing her hair and trying to soothe her as she sobbed against him.

"I lost the baby, Zachary… I lost our baby." she cried out. Zachary felt like his heart was being ripped from his chest in that moment. His beautiful wife was broken, bruised and sobbing in his arms and telling him that their baby was gone…. He carried her to the bed cradled and her in his arms as he laid them both down. He cried with her as he held her in his arms and rocked her gently.

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Tim sat out on the porch with a bottle of whiskey. Judith and Reverend Channing had refused to allow him to bring it into the house so he had settled for drinking it on the porch. He heard the door open behind him and recognized Zachary's footsteps. His friend sat down next to him, took the whiskey bottle from his hands and threw it hard, shattering it across the street.

"What the hell, Zach… " he demanded.

"What happened to my wife? You were supposed to keep her safe!" Tim felt his anger subside as he looked over at his friend beside him. Zachary's eyes were red and tear filled. He looked tired and, worse than that, he looked broken… Tim wondered if he would ever recover from this newest loss.

"I hurried back after I bought my cigarettes in town the day I rode in with you…. By the time I got close I could hear her screaming… I topped over the hill and saw them, Zach. It was bad. I shot and killed the man that was on top of her.. The other man got on his horse.. I shot him but he still got away." Tim said. Zachary was still for a long time.

"On top of her?" he said in a quiet cold voice. Tim looked over at him again and was shocked to see that the sad, tired broken man had been replaced by one that looked like a hardened, cold blooded killer.

"Yeah, Zach… She hasn't told me much. She's been out of it most of the time but from what I've gathered from her, she saw three men riding in. She hid upstairs with that pup and the rifle you left her. They were there looking for you and when they found her she shot and killed one of them. But the other two tied her up and beat her some…. Then they both… well took advantage of her."

"Both of them…." Zachary repeated feeling an anger like he had never felt before welling up inside of him.

"Doc Grey seems to think that's when she lost the baby… They were too rough with her." Tim added. He regretted the words immediately and cursed the whiskey in his blood for making his mouth run too much.

Zachary stood, his fists clenching. He wanted to punch something and the porch banister was the closest thing. He savored the pain he felt as his knuckles met the unforgiving wood since it took his mind off the pain in his heart.

"Zachary, there's more." Tim said quietly.

"What?"

"They were Marshall Matthews men… She was able to tell me that much." Zachary looked down at Tim and smiled in such a way that Tim's blood seemed to freeze in his veins.

"Then that fucking snake bastard will be here eventually and when he comes I'm going to blow his good for nothing jackass brains clean out of his head." With that Zachary walked back in the house and up to his sleeping wife.

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Marshall Matthews rode into Paco with his three remaining men late in the night. They rented some rooms at the hotel and then walked to the saloon.

"Do you think Marston is in town?" Benjamin Potter asked as they sat down at a table with some whiskey.

"Of course. From what that coward Maxwell said right before I blew his brains out, they left that woman in pretty bad shape.. He would have brought her here to the doc. In the morning we'll find that dog Marston and we'll kill him once and for all." Marshall said. The men looked at each other nervously. None of them were too eager to face Marston, especially now, but they knew that if they said anything to Marshall they were dead men.

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