{Chapter} 3

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{Chapter 3}

“Adam, I’ve always told you that you were a greenhorn” Adam watched as Toni looked him up and down.

“I know. I’m not much at ranching, but I can learn anything,” he told her.

“What happened to being a deputy? Why work here when you can easily go back to that job?” Toni questioned.

Adam sighed. He wasn’t about to tell her that. “Because I don’t want to be a lawman for now. No one in Sundance must know that I’m here. I’m still tracking those men.”

“You don’t have a badge, Adam” Toni arched an eyebrow. “You’re not planning to handle them legally are you?”

“I took off my badge because I knew they would run for the border. My badge doesn’t work outside of Sundance, but a Colt works anywhere,” Adam told her.

“You’re planning on killing them?”

“I’m planning on doing what I have to in order to bring them to justice.”

Toni looked at him strangely. “Talk to the foreman. Heaven knows we could use another pair of hands. Give me about”

Adam replaced his Stetson. “Thank you.”

The door of the little kitchen on the MC Ranch burst open and Mark Curtis entered.

“Oh, hello Deputy” the man said, looking uneasy.

Adam knew that look. People gave it to him all the time. “It’s just Adam now, Mr. Curtis” he reassured him.

“Hmm. Toni, I need you to sign this” he held out a paper.

“What is it?” Toni asked, taking the paper.

“I don’t have time to explain, just sign it. It’s important,” Mark told her.

“Okay” Toni breathed and signed the paper.

A small smirk didn’t escape Adam’s gaze as it flittered across Mark’s face. Once it was signed, he took the paper and went out as quickly as he had come.

“You didn’t read it?” Adam looked at Toni.

Surely the woman wasn’t that careless.

“He’s my uncle. I trust him with whatever he’s got going on,” Toni said.

Adam wasn’t so sure. That smirk and that look in his eye didn’t look so innocent.

“Wade should be out at the barn. It’s his turn to do the chores,” Toni told him.

Adam nodded and tipped his hat before walking out to the barn.

 

It was settled. Just so happened that the MC was a little short staffed lately what with the cattle drive being in a few weeks. The idea of spending weeks on the trail with a bunch of dusty, smelly animals didn’t appeal to him at all, but he needed the job to earn some money so he could continue his search for the gang.

“If you’ll excuse me, I have to get to work. Why don’t you start today? I’m rounding up and the other boys are working on branding the yearlings. Erik’s taking a while rounding up the remuda, so you can help him. Sound good?” Wade put his barn shovel in a corner and walked out to his saddled horse. He caught sight of Adam’s blonde Walking horse. “She’s a beauty.”

“She’s a catch, that’s for sure” Adam smiled, rubbing Blondie’s neck before mounting.

“Oh, yeah. I forgot your pay. At the end of the cattle drive, you’ll get about eighty-five bucks. Around here normally it’s about forty a month,” Wade told him.

Adam nodded. Oh, yes. That would last him a long while.

**********

Aubrey went outside where her six-year-old son was playing with his dog, Sadie. She and Wade had still not told Jay that Sadie wasn’t a suitable name for a boy dog. They didn’t have the heart when both Sadie and Jay seemed content with the name.

“Jay? What are you up to?” Aubrey asked him.

Jay picked up one of the boards nearby. He had been working on the clubhouse for four months, and didn’t have one wall up. The boy was patient, she would give him that.

“I’m buildin’” Jay explained.

“So I see. Is Sadie helping?” Aubrey looked over to where Sadie lay on the ground, belly up.

“No” Jay giggled. “She’s a dog.”

Aubrey laughed and ran her hand through his blonde hair, loving the look of merriment in his pale blue eyes. Eyes that weren’t as deep as Wade’s sapphire colored ones, but still just as beautiful.

“Do you think Pa could help me with this?” Jay asked.

Aubrey sighed. Wade didn’t have time for much anymore except for work. “He’s got that cattle drive coming up, you know.” The thought of a month or more away from Wade was depressing to her. Yet, she knew that this was his job and just how it was supposed to be.

“I can wait” Jay said, throwing the board down.

Aubrey bent down to be eye level with him. “Why don’t you and I go inside and make some cookies? I think your Pa might be happy with that.”

Jay smiled. “Can I eat the dough?”

Aubrey thought a moment. “Maybe a little bit. But just a little” she held up one finger in warning.

Jay smiled. “Race you to the house?”

“You’re on.”

**********

Katie rolled over in her bed. Why couldn’t she get those grief-stricken, yet sad eyes out of her head? She had never cared about Adam in the last five years until she saw him earlier today. He was different. A difference that the loss of a family member couldn’t make. She couldn’t help but feel that the man was bent on revenge, even with his Christian raising. He should know that vengeance was God’s and God’s alone.

*Yet here you are harboring hatred toward him for five years, Kathrynn Morris*

She ignored her conscience and rolled back in the other direction. She focused her mind on another problem. The MC needed a cook to go along on the cattle drive, but none of them knew of a good cook willing to make that long dusty ride. The man they hired would have to be a good cook, because everyone knew that an outfit ran on its stomach. The boring beans, biscuits, and beef every night got bland enough after a while, it would only be worse if they didn’t even taste good.

Then she had a thought.

“I could be the cook,” she whispered to herself.

It was a splendid idea! She could tough it out, she was sure. She knew it was going to be long and hard, and that by the time they reached Grayson City, they would all be thoroughly worn out, but she could do it. She wasn’t a terrible cook, and the boys seemed to like her cooking. There would be plenty of her friends around to protect her of the strangers that Wade would have to hire in order to get the drive done.

Sitting straight up, she started to smile. She would go on her first cattle drive!

Then her smile faded.

She would have to get through Toni.

 

A few hours later, after she had fallen back asleep, a hard knock sounded at her door. She jumped up and rushed to it, still groggy from her deep sleep.

She swung open the door, and Tiny stood there. She couldn’t see his face, but there was only one man she knew who had such broad shoulders.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s the Boss Lady. She’s havin’ the baby.”

Ta-da! I have a name picked out for this baby and everything! It's gonna be awesome:)

What do you think about Katie going on the cattle drive?

What about Adam, too? Will she change her when she finds out he's coming along?

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