Chapter 3

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Chapter 3

"Dammit! I knew I should have made her sell that ranch as soon as she told me that she'd bought it." Levi slammed his fist down on his desk, then shoved back his chair and began to pace.

"Levi, I'm so sorry. I had no idea about any of this, I swear. If I had, I would have never purchased the property for her." Steven Gilford said as he watched his friend. He'd moved to Red Valley a couple of years ago to take over his uncle, Will Edison's law practice, shortly after his death. As soon as he'd laid eyes on Faith Matthews, his world had stopped. She took his breath away, and he found himself comparing every other woman he'd met to her in some way. Sadly, no one ever seemed to measure up. Steven had tried to court the lovely Miss Matthews several times, with the permission of her brother. Unfortunately for him, she was just not interested in him or any man. She was her own woman, independent and strong, one of the main things that attracted him to her.

Levi sighed heavily as he walked back over and flopped back into his chair. He reached up and pinched the bridge of his nose, then rubbed back and forth, trying to relieve the headache that was beginning to form there. "It's not your fault Steven. I don't know of a man that my sister can't manipulate when she wants to, including me. When she sets her mind on something, there's no stopping her. If you hadn't bought the property on her behalf, she would have just found someone else."

"It doesn't make me feel any better though. What I don't understand, is why didn't the bank tell me that this was the fourth time that property had been sold? I think it's fairly important that the first family left in the middle of the night. The second family's house burned down and the husband of the third family was found dead in one of the pastures."

"Well, my guess would be that they knew nobody would want to buy it if they knew everything that had happened."

"What could be so valuable on that particular piece of land?" Steven asked in confusion.

"Water." Levi answered. "Faith's property has a big stream that runs through the middle of it, in fact I think it's the same one that's on my property. And if you're going to have a ranch with a lot of animals, you have to have a lot of water. No water, no ranch. More than a few innocent families have died because their property had more water than their neighbor. I think we need to take a look at the land that's around Faith's."

"I think you're right."

"While I'm checking on that, why don't you do a little checking on the people that own the surrounding land?" Levi suggested. 

"I'll get right on that, and since I'm the one that purchased the ranch for your sister, it shouldn't raise too many eyebrows." Both men stood and shook hands, then went their separate ways.

Two days later Levi was standing with his friend, Cole Weston with his booted foot propped on the bottom rail of the corral and his outstretched arms propped on the top rail. He'd just finished telling his friend everything. "Has she had any problems in the two weeks since she moved over there?" Cole asked as he watched his daughter, Sara Beth get a riding lesson from Sam. She was the only one of his five children that had blonde hair like Grace, the rest had jet black hair like him. She looked and acted so much like Lilly, Grace's little sister that had died years before.

"No, she hasn't. Faith wouldn't tell me anyway, but John would as well as the other men over there. But that doesn't stop me from worrying about it. She's got John and two more hands that I sent over there but I would feel better if there was someone with her that knew how to protect her. I'm not saying that the other three wouldn't, just that they're ranch hands. You know what I mean." Levi said with a sigh. "I want someone over there that wouldn't think twice about killing someone if they had to. Do you know of anyone?"

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