Chapter 5

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Cole had taken Cade over to Levi's first thing the next morning. To Cade's surprise, Levi's wife was just as bossy as Cole's. What was truly shocking was to see these men bow to their tiny wives every wish, and do it with a smile. What the hell? It was almost funny.

Cade brought his attention back to Levi, who was bouncing a little girl, about three years old, on his knee as he sat on the front porch steps. While a little boy, which he now knew was the girl's twin, wrapped his little chubby arms and legs around Cole's leg as he sat on the man's foot begging him to walk. "Faith asked if Cole knew of anyone who might want to work on her ranch. So don't, under any circumstances, let her know that I'm paying you too. God, she'd skin us all alive."

Cade found himself nodding in agreement and wondering just what in the hell he'd gotten himself into. "I won't say a word." He stood there for a moment, as he continued to take in everything that was going on around him. Chaos, that's what it was, and it was giving him a headache. He didn't know Levi, but he did know Cole, and it was mind boggling to see him this way. He'd gone...soft. How could someone like Cole be brought so low, so tame? He was one of the best trackers and one of the fastest draws there was.

"Don't worry." Cole said as he walked over to his friend with Mason still sitting on his foot, enjoying the ride. "You're time will come." He slapped Cade on the back and laughed as a look of sheer horror crossed his face.

"NO! HELL NO! I'll leave that to y'all. I like women just fine as long as I don't have to put up with their nagging and complaining. I like my own company and I don't like sharing my bed for sleeping, only other things." Both of the other men just shook their heads. There had been a time when both of them had felt the same way, but now neither one would change a single thing, even if they could.

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She could tell by the look on John's face that something else had happened. "What happened?" Faith sighed as dread began to fill her. So far she'd lost almost a hundred head of cattle. They had either been stolen or slaughtered and left to rot. So far, she had been able to replace the cattle without her brother finding out about it, but there was just no way she could keep it up. Right now, her money situation was ok, but it wouldn't be if she had to keep buying more cattle.

Then there were the notes that just appeared on the front door. Sometime during the night someone was sneaking on to the Second Chance and sticking them to the front door with a knife. They'd only found three notes so far. Each one was more threatening than the last. She wasn't afraid, yet; and the last thing she wanted to do was to tell Levi. This was not something she could hide for very long.

"Ten more head are missing and five more were slaughtered." John said solemnly. Then he handed her a sheet of paper. "This was on your front door this morning when we got up."

Faith looked down at the paper at the handwriting that was barely legible but the words were spelled correctly. YOU'RE NEXT! Ok, so now she was beginning to get afraid. "I know there are only four of us, but I think we are just going to have to take turns patrolling at night. We've got to stop whoever is doing this or I will be just like the previous owners.

A couple of hours later Faith was in the barn by herself when she heard a horse coming up to the house. Without thinking, she walked over to the entrance of the barn, staying in the shadows, as she watched the newcomer dismount, then head up the steps of the front porch. He knocked and waited, then knocked again. When it became apparent that no one was at home, he looked around the yard once again, not seeing anyone, he opened the door and stepped inside.

Having seen enough, Faith pulled her .38 pistol and quickly ran across the yard. She quietly crept up the front steps and opened the door, then closed it silently. "Can I help you?"

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