{Chapter} 9

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{Chapter 9}

“The boys are getting impatient, Mark” Brant whispered after he had pulled Mark away from the rest of the cowboys.

“Give me more time, Brant. These things take time” Mark said.

“Time? These things take more than time. They take action… which is exactly what we’re not doing” Brant was getting irritated.

“Brant, you came to me without two cents to rub together. I’m gonna make you filthy rich, and you repay me with impatience? You’re lucky I don’t go find another scoundrel to do the dirty work for me and cut you out completely” Mark threatened.

“You wouldn’t” Brant’s voice dared him.

“Oh yeah? You act like I don’t have over a dozen cowboys at the ready over there who would do anything for an extra wad of cash. I’d watch my step, Alexander” Mark turned and walked back to the main part of the camp.

He felt sure of Brant’s loyalty, but his common sense told him to keep a good eye on the man. If Mark had learned anything in his life, it was to watch his back.

**********

Three more days passed, and all Katie remembered was dusty days and nights of deep sleep. She had slept a lot better now that she got to talk things out with Adam, though part of her still felt like she owed him. She hardly saw him except for at suppertime. Other than that he was working with the remuda with Erik. Mark had booted him out of the drag position.

Katie wondered how things were working out with Toni and Erik. She didn’t see them enough to be able to tell. She would pay extra close attention tonight to make sure they were getting along. Yet she knew better than to interfere with a relationship when the couple were married. She had no experience in that area.

Glancing off to the west, Katie’s heart fell when she noticed the lightening flashing and the clouds rolling - a sure sign of a storm.

“Mark? Are you seeing that?” she asked.

Mark’s jaw was tight, and he was obviously stressed.

“Wade!” He yelled, turning his horse around with the pressure of his knees.

Katie felt the pace of her heart quicken as the eerie feeling of impending disaster settled over her. She knew all too well what could happen when the herd got riled.

A stampede.

God, please. I’m begging you to keep us safe in this. Please keep the herd calm.

A clap of thunder echoed over to the herd, and Katie felt the tension grow until one could almost cut it with a knife. The cowboys were desperately trying to corral the herd, but even Katie knew that the chances of keeping over three thousand cattle under control with less than nineteen cowboys were slim.

She was far enough ahead so that she wouldn’t be impacted by the herd unless they ran straight, which was highly unlikely. No one ever heard of a herd stampeding the way you wanted them to go.

Rain began to pour down from the sky, soaking Katie through and through. A flash of lightening and a loud clap of thunder made her heart plummet and her stomach clench. A storm was a cattle drive’s worst enemy.

Another roll of thunder sounded, only it rolled on and on until Katie grew suspicious. Looking behind the chuck wagon, Katie saw what she had feared. There was their herd of cattle, running out to the west… toward the storm.

Cattle were the stupidest things alive! Besides that point cowboy who had let the dominant steer loose. Even Katie knew better than that.

**********

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