{Chapter} 8

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{Chapter 8}

Adam woke up to take the third shift after Wade to watch the herd. He was sore and bone tired, but neither of those things were any excuse to shirk his job. Wade gave him the rifle that the guard was given, the only weapon allowed in possession of any of the cowboys. Adam was thankful for the feel of the gun in his hands. He wasn’t used to not having his Colt revolver on his hip at all times.

He mounted his horse and rode out to where the herd was sleeping, some lying down, some standing. There was something intimidating about the animals. There were around three thousand six hundred head of Texas Longhorns out there, give or take a few, and all of them had a set of horns. Adam didn’t want to get on their bad side. Lightning flashed in the distance, and Adam’s stomach clenched. Not a storm…

One loud clap of thunder could startle the cattle and they could stampede. That would put a serious kink in their plans.

Then Adam recognized the simple heat lightening. His muscles eased and he sighed. He was too jumpy. Cattle didn’t like jumpy people. He just needed to relax and not worry about things so much.

He breathed deep and tried to forget all his problems. In his effort to forget them, they only caused more confusion. His relationship with Kate was more awkward than ever, Mark was up to some shady business, there was a disturbing man who he frankly wanted to shoot in the face and be done with, and he was dog-tired. There would be no relaxing for a long while.

He rode around the herd on Blondie, trying to be as quiet as possible.

Had he told Kate of his reasons for ending their relationship soon enough? She had looked so happy with Ben, and he wasn’t sure she was over her grief of his death yet. Was he even attracted to her anymore? She was still the free-spirited, meddling woman she was five years ago, but Adam felt that he had changed somehow… that he wasn’t what she needed.

Maybe it was his need for revenge. He had to bring his brother’s murderer to justice. If that came in between anything, relationships included, then so be it. He wouldn’t fall victim to injustice when he was the very man that used to bring the justice. Feeling in his pocket, Adam felt the shape of the badge that he still carried with him. He couldn’t force himself to leave it behind when he had left Sundance. Something about him was still attached to upholding the law… and to catching those who broke it.

**********

“Coffee in the pot, bacon in the pan!” Katie hollered to wake the cowboys before dawn the next morning.

The sound of her voice wouldn’t startle the cattle at this distance.

The cowboys stirred and were up and around in a record time. They ate quickly, downed cups of coffee, a few thanked her, and then they all went about saddling their mounts. Katie washed the dishes with surprising speed and broke down the camp, putting it all in its proper place in the chuck wagon. They shoved off just as dawn was beginning to break. Katie went on before the herd alongside Mark, and the cowboys went about waking up the herd and getting them moving.

“Isn’t this the first time you’ve been the trail boss and not Toni?” Katie asked of Mark.

Mark nodded. “Why do you ask?”

“No reason” Katie shrugged.

“You don’t just ask a question, Katie. You’re always scheming someone’s demise, aren’t you?” Mark spat out.

Katie huffed. Everything she did or said annoyed Mark. The two of them had never got along too well. Ever since Mark first arrived at the MC they had been on opposing sides. She even doubted his salvation, yet she knew that it was not her place to judge his religious status.

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