{Chapter} 13

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{Chapter 13}

Katie pulled the chuck wagon to a stop at the end of the day in the place where they would camp.

“Hey Katie. Guess what’s just over there?” Mark pointed east.

Katie looked in the direction but didn’t see anything.

“There’s a little river over there about half a mile” Mark smiled.

Katie giggled. For once she wouldn’t have to make a dry camp. This also meant that she could finally take a bath!

“I’m gonna go help them bed down the herd. You be careful” Mark looked around. “We’re pretty close to Indian country now.”

Katie looked around, seeing many places that an Indian could hide. She wasn’t afraid, because she had a trunk full of weapons in the chuck wagon.

Smiling, she looked in the back of the chuck wagon to see Justin laying there, sound asleep. It was nearly time for his mother to find him, but Katie knew that it would wait until after the herd was bedded down.

She strapped the baby on her back and took a pail toward where Mark had pointed out the river.

She fetched water and prepared supper, having it all ready and piping hot by the time the cowboys came into camp after bedding the herd down.

Adam was at the back of the line, and looked even worse than he had yesterday. Mark had put him on drag again, and Katie didn’t appreciate that at all. Adam was covered in dust and his face was etched with fatigue. For a nickel Katie would march right over there and give Mark a piece of her mind, yet she knew that Adam wouldn’t want it that way.

Katie handed Adam his plate and poured him a cup of coffee.

“Sit with me?” she asked.

Adam narrowed his eyes at her. “What about Mark?”

“He can answer to Toni, that’s what,” Katie said in confidence.

“Toni?” Adam looked amused now.

“Yes. I’ll simply tell her the issue and she can take care of him” Katie poured herself a cup of coffee and went to sit on the wagon tongue that faced opposite the camp.

Adam sat beside her and looked down at his plate, not touching it.

“Not hungry?” Katie asked.

Adam shook his head. “Not really. I’m too tired to eat.”

A smile lingered on the end of his words. Katie felt her heart soften. Adam was not cut out to be a cowboy. He was a lawman, and that’s how he was born.

She put a hand on his shoulder. “I don’t think he should be treating you this way.”

Adam shook his head. “I’ll be fine. I’m just a wimp for now. I’ll get used to it.”

Katie smiled. “You’re not a cowboy, that’s the problem. Why even take this job? You don’t know a thing about cattle.”

Adam fell silent for a moment. “Several reasons.”

“One of them being?” Katie pressed.

Adam studied her for a moment. “What if I told you that it was so I could spend more time with you?”

Katie stared at him for a moment and noticed a faint blush come over his face as he looked away. She forced back a smile.

“I don’t know what I’d say,” she said.

Adam sighed. “Well, that’s not one of the reasons.”

Katie put her head down. Why did she feel put out?

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