{Chapter} 11

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{Chapter 11}

Adam adjusted the rifle in his hands as he stood guard that night over what looked like only half their herd. Though the numbers were down right now, he had a lot of faith that they would eventually round up most of the others.

Footsteps came from behind him and he whirled around. Brant Alexander stood there, though Adam knew the man’s true identity was yet to be revealed. He hadn’t been around the man much, except for the occasional glimpse around the campfire.

“I’m here to take the next shift,” Brant said.

Adam stood and was hesitant about handing the gun over. He didn’t trust the man.

“Have I met you before the drive? You seem familiar,” Brant asked.

Adam shrugged. “It’s possible.”

“Are you gonna give me the gun?” Brant held out his hands to take the weapon.

Adam narrowed his eyes, and Brant looked nervous.

“You’d better get used to seeing me with a gun, Alexander. It’ll be the last thing you ever see. Mark my words” Adam reluctantly gave Brant the rifle and walked away.

He was so confused. Brant really looked like the man Adam had hunted down and killed in the face, but there was a different look behind his eyes. Something strange was going on, and it felt like a cruel joke.

**********

“Bacon in the pan, coffee in the pot!” Katie sounded her usual early morning greeting to rouse the cowboys while breakfast simmered and sizzled by the fire.

She filled their plates with beans and bacon and their cups with piping hot coffee as usual. Everyone seemed to be lagging around this morning, and Katie knew why. Even Toni had a case of melancholy due to the death of J.T. Miller.

Adam came around and leaned close to whisper to her.

“I need a favor,” he said.

“What‘s wrong?” Katie whispered back.

“It’s that Brant Alexander. I need you to keep a close eye on him,” Adam said, moving closer to stand beside her.

Katie shifted nervously at his nearness. “What’s he done?”

Adam sighed. “It’s a long, confusing story that even I don’t understand. I’ll tell you about it sometime…”

“Adam! Stop fraternizing and hurry up!” Mark’s harsh voice yelled.

Adam sighed and Katie smiled.

“Poor man. He probably doesn’t even know what fraternizing means,” she giggled.

Adam chuckled. “I’ll see you later, Kate… I mean, Katie.”

Katie smiled as he walked back toward camp.

She realized that he was a good man down deep. Sure, he was bent on revenge, but under that thick, hardened exterior, there was the heart of a man who loved serving people.

It was strange for her to think of him with something other than hate for once. More terrifying than strange sometimes, but it was a good feeling. Truth was, she had missed Adam and they’re long, light-hearted talks when they were together all those years ago. Katie felt old by comparison to the person she was back then. Back when she didn’t have a care in the world… back before Ben.

Then it hit her.

She hadn’t thought about Ben in the past two days. What was happening to her? Surely she wasn’t getting over his death so soon?

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