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God he hated this! Another stupid kid was trying to make a name for himself by taking down "The Best". Instead, this was going to be the kid's last day above ground. How many more would try to make a name for themselves in the west and end up dead before it all stopped? Sweat beaded on his brow, and trickled down his back between his shoulder blades, before being soaked up by the waist band of his black pants.

This was not the first time he'd been called out when he was minding his own business. In fact, it happened more often than not. The good thing is that most of the time nobody else in town called him out after the first one. Once they watched one of their friends die, they usually didn't want to join them. The problem with that was, he moved from town to town, never staying in one place for very long. So this was a process that was constantly repeated; and he was really beginning to become weary of it.

"You don't have to do this Kid! You can still turn around and go back home." Cade Jacobs said as a last ditch effort to get the kid to call it off. He saw the boy glance around at the eyes watching them through the windows and on the sides of the dusty street.

Swallowing hard the boy answered. "It's already done Jacobs. Let's get this over with, I got things to do."

A hot wind swirled on the street kicking up dust, blowing tiny particles of dirt into Cade's face. He could feel the grit in his eyes and mouth. Slowly he moved his hand to hover over the pearl handle of his colt .45. His entire body was so tense it ached. The sun beat down on his back and shoulders increasing his discomfort. He cleared his mind of everything, focusing on the person twenty five feet away.

Everything around him faded until all he saw was a killer in front of him, not the kid that was there a second ago, and that person wanted to kill him. His instincts, honed from years of practice took over. All he could hear was his heart beat and his blood rushing through his ears. Clouds rolled over the sun, momentarily dimming the brightness of the day. Sharp green eyes watched for any sign of movement, and then after what seemed like a life time, there it was, ever so slightly.

Only one shot was fired. The boy looked down in shock to see a red stain blossoming on his chest. His gun fell from his hands as he tried to stem the flow of blood, but it was useless. He fell to the ground on his knees. The boy's mouth was moving as he tried to form his last words. Cade became aware of his surroundings again as the tunnel he had been in faded back into openness. A woman screamed and came running over to the boy just in time to catch him before he fell face down in the dirt.

Cade didn't listen to what the woman was saying, he didn't want to know if it was the kid's mother or wife or sweetheart. He just wanted to be alone, as he always did after some fool called him out. He turned and walked into the nearest saloon. Reaching into his pocket, he fished out a couple of coins, slapped them down on the bar then reached around and grabbed an unopened bottle of whiskey. The bar keep started to say something but after being the receiving end of one of Cade's cold looks, he thought better of it.

He took the bottle, walked out of the saloon to his horse, slid into his saddle and rode out of town. As soon as he was completely out of sight, he pulled Rusty to a stop, jumped down and vomited in the nearby bushes. After he was through, he grabbed the bottle of whiskey, which thankfully had not been watered down yet, and began to drink himself into oblivion.

A/N: Here we go on another adventure in Red Valley! Sit down, buckle up, and hold on, because this is going to be a bumpy ride! I am so excited about this book!! I have been thinking about it for months now, but couldn't start it until Unexpected Hope was complete. Be warned, this book is going to be steamier than both of my previous books. Don't forget to vote and comment!

Keeping Faith  (Book 3 in the Red Valley Series)Where stories live. Discover now