Chapter 17

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It was all he could do to keep from wrapping his arms around her, carrying her to bed, and make love to her the rest of the night. When Cade had realized Faith was still in the house, his heart had all but stopped. The fire turned out not to be as bad he'd thought, but he didn't know that at the time. Foreign emotions began to swirl in the pit of his stomach. Something he couldn't identify, fear, and a seething hatred. Cade Jacobs never felt fear, ever but he did earlier at the thought of Faith dying in the fire. Bart Hurst had gone too far this time. This was attempted murder, and going to Sheriff Turner was useless. Cade had never killed anyone in cold blood, so he could only hope Hurst would draw on him when he went to go see him.

"How lucky can that stupid woman get?" Bartholomew Hurst asked to no one in particular as he paced the confines of his office.

"Boss, they shouldn't have been able to put that fire out. I poured the oil all around the window of her bedroom, just like you said. There wasn't supposed to be anyone near that house when I set that fire."

"No, you idiot! I said to pour it all around the outside of the house." Bart swore. He had to get rid of the woman, before she cost him anymore money. He thought about all the extra hay and such he'd had to buy because his own lands were full of nothing but brown, dried up weeds. "Get out! I need to think." Bart flopped down in his chair. He was going to have to figure something out before Cade Jacobs made it even more difficult.

Cade pounded on the front door of Bart Hurst's house. He waited a minute then banged again, this time a little harder. Ominous clouds covered the sky just as the sun was beginning its ascent over the horizon, while a ghostly mist blanketed the land making the available light, weak and gray. "Hurst! Open the door before I break it down!" Cade heard a shuffling sound, then grumbling as a bleary eyed housekeeper opened the door.

"Where's Hurst?' Cade demanded as he pushed past the housekeeper. He could hear footsteps from the ranch hands running across the yard and onto the porch. The housekeeper was an older woman that had on a sleep cap with sprigs of unruly gray hair sprouting out from underneath it. She had a white knuckled grip on her wrapper, holding the edges of it together at her throat while staring at him wide eyed.

Out of habit, Cade placed himself with his back against the wall so he no one would be able to get behind him. It was a good thing the housekeeper had left the lit lantern on the small table to the left of the stairs, she looked like she was about to pass out. Normally he wouldn't speak to an older woman so harshly but at the moment, he didn't care if she fell over dead.

"Hurst, get out here right now before I come get you!" The ranch hands had apparently overcome their shock as several of them pushed their way through the front door.

"Who in the hell do you think you are barging into my house at this ungodly hour?" Hurst barked as he made his way down the stairs. He was not used to anyone bucking his authority. When he realized who was in his foyer, he stopped halfway down the stairs.

"You've gone too far this time Hurst!" Cade said between gritted teeth.

"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about." Bart said as calmly as he could.

"The hell you don't you son of a bitch!"

"Now see here!" He started and stopped.

In two strides Cade was across the foyer then he took the stairs two at a time, reaching the other man in mere seconds, "No, you see here. I know it was one of your men that set fire to Faith Matthews' house with her asleep inside. I also know you're the one behind her fences being torn down and her cattle being stolen or slaughtered. I was hired because of you. This is your last warning, if you so much as sneeze in the direction of the Second Chance, I'll kill you. You understand me?"

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