{Chapter} 30

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{Chapter} 30

Wade strapped on his gun the next morning as Toni doled them out to the remaining cowboys. All of the temporary cowboys had packed their gear and left early that morning to avoid injury should Mark and his men come back for the document that Erik had.

Cowards.

So the only men that stayed besides Wade were Rawhide, Tiny, and Gringo. They would have liked J.T.’s skills with a gun just then, but they knew they couldn’t have that.

“Toni!” Erik stated the name as an announcement as he entered the camp. “I say we burn this here document to ashes.”

He held up the legal statement that gave Mark full ownership of the ranch.

Toni nodded. “I agree. Leastways there’s no proof that I signed that blame thing.”

“We need to sit down and come up with a plan,” Adam said as he sat on the tongue of the chuck wagon, swinging his legs. “Should they decide to ambush, we need to be on the same board, right?”

The rest of them agreed.

“Right,” Adam nodded. “In my experience, the best way to counter an ambush is to be ready when it comes. I don’t think it’s safe to move. Here we have access to water and cover, whereas they could strike anytime on the trail while we’re in the wide open and exposed.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Erik said.

Toni nodded.

“What if they don’t come back?” Katie spoke up from where she was drying dishes. “We can’t stretch the food to last very long.”

“She’s right,” Wade said. “They might be waiting down at the ranch until we get back.”

Adam’s brow furrowed. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

“We could send the women on ahead,” Erik offered.

“No!” Toni and Katie yelled at the same time.

Erik grinned, revealing his intentions of humor.

Wade shook his head. “If we stay, we might be here forever and starve to death. If we move on, they could pick one of us off without any of the rest knowing where they were. Seems like there’s no right answer.”

Adam held up a finger. “Oh, but there is. Instead of waiting to the trouble to come to us, how about we go looking for it? Turn the tables, so to speak?”

Toni and Erik looked at each other, then at Wade, then at Adam, then back at each other.

“Seems like our only choice,” Toni resigned.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Erik agreed with Adam.

“I’m in,” Wade gave in. The sooner he could get to Aubrey the better.

“I think it’s a crazy notion,” Rawhide protested. “But I haven’t left Miss Toni’s side in years upon years, and I don’t plan on starting now.”

The other two cowboys agreed.

Adam turned to face Katie. “Kate? You with me, baby?”

Katie nodded. “I’m wherever you go.”

“Okay.” Adam rubbed his hands together. “Let’s work out a strategy.”

**********

“That went all wrong!” Mark punched the wall to an old abandoned barn they had found, his fist going right through the rotten wood.

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