Chapter Fourteen

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Samantha woke up and felt Zachary's strong arms still wrapped around her. She looked up at his sleeping face. He hadn't shaved in a while and he was still dirty from the road. He looked like he had that night they had first met at the saloon.

She lifted her head and kissed him gently but he didn't wake up. She smiled and got up out of the bed wincing at the pain in her legs. She realized this was the first time she had really been up in several long days. She looked in the mirror and gasped when she saw her reflection. She had dark circles under her eyes, a nasty green bruise covered her cheek and her arms were bruised as well.

She saw some hair pins lying on a small dresser in the corner and pulled her dirty hair back away from her face. She opened the dresser and pulled out a skirt and blouse. She hoped Judith wouldn't mind her using them as she put both on. She opened the door quietly so she wouldn't disturb Zachary and walked downstairs.

She found Judith and Reverend Channing sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. They both stood and looked uncertain when she entered the room.

"Samantha, are you feeling better this morning?" Judith asked. Samantha managed a small smile and nodded.

"Now that my husband is here I think I will be fine." she answered. They both seemed to relax and they sat back down motioning for her to sit as well. She did and Judith quickly stood again long enough to get her a cup of coffee before coming back to the table.

"We've had the whole town praying for you, my dear." Judith said. "Horrible thing that happened. I knew it would be dangerous for you to be with Zachary… That man has a lot of enemies.." Samantha felt herself growing angry.

"It is hardly Zachary's fault that the devil was inside those men, dear." Reverend Channing said softly and Samantha suddenly felt very grateful to him. She was too tired emotionally to deal with Judith's spiteful, gossipy ways. Judith huffed but refrained from saying anything else.

"Where is Tim this morning?" Samantha asked.

"He went over to the hotel last night to stay. Said he didn't want to impose on us anymore… I think he left because he knew Zachary would be upset once he learned that Tim had been sleeping in that room with you every night." Samantha had heard enough from Judith. She stood and excused herself before walking outside.

Her stomach growled loudly and she walked over to the diner to see about getting some breakfast. After she'd finished her eggs and bacon she ordered another plate to take to Zachary. She was walking back down the road toward the Channing's house when she heard someone call her name.

She turned and looked toward the sound and the plate fell to the ground. Marshall Matthews smiled a cold smile and walked toward her.

"Hello little, Samantha…. I told you I would find you one day." he looked at her bruised face and frowned.

"What happened to you darling?" he asked. Samantha spoke though she wasn't sure how.

"Ask your men. They are the ones that did this." Marshall was quiet for a moment.

"You're the woman from Zachary Marston's farm?" he asked.

"I'm his wife you bastard and if you touch me he will kill you." she said threateningly. Marshall nearly screamed in his rage.

"You slut! You belonged to me.. You had no right to go marry that man!" he grabbed her by the arm and began dragging her back to the hotel.

"Zachary! It's Matthews, Zachary, he's got me! Help!" she screamed hoping that he would hear her. She looked around the streets for help but the normally busy little town seemed to be deserted. She felt hopelessness overtake her as he pulled her into the hotel.

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