Chapter 35

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"W-what?" Kirby stammered as he flipped over onto his back, desperately trying to pull his pistol from its holster. There was no way he could get his rifle around fast enough. He squinted as he looked up at the man standing in front of him.

"If I were you, I would leave both of those guns alone. Get up, slowly." Cade broke out into a cold sweat from the pain in his side as he willed himself to concentrate on the idiot that had shot him. "Walk down to those trees to your right. Where's your horse?" Cade bent down as easily as he could and picked up both guns, then turned to follow Kirby.

"My horse is about two hundred yards behind the trees we're going to."

Oh God, he was going to have to ride, there was just no way he was going to be able to walk that far. Hell, he may not be able to even ride that far and they still had to get back to where he'd left John. Cade was working on putting one foot in front of the other as he walked down behind Kirby.

One of Kirby's booted feet slid on the rocky slope sending him down on his back side with a bone jarring thud. Cade wanted to laugh but he was in so much pain, all he managed to do was grunt. "Get up." They finally made it to Kirby's horse. Cade threw his leg over his saddle and slid to the ground, clenching his jaw against the pain. "Put your hands behind your back."

"What for?"

"Did you really just ask me that?" Cade asked, his voice dripping with sarcasm as he pulled a thin strip of leather from his saddle bag and began tightly tying Kirby's hands behind his back. Then he took the reins from the other horse and tied them to his saddle horn and slowly mounted up.

"How am I supposed to get on my horse with my hands tied behind my back?" Kirby whined.

"I don't give a damn how you do it but you've got to the count of ten. One – two- three-."

"Wait just a damn minute. You got to help me."

"No, I don't. Four – five."

"What are you going to do if I don't get on my horse?"

"Shoot you. Six – seven." Cade said in a bored tone.

Kirby's eyes widened, there was no doubt in his mind that Cade would shoot him. He was really surprised that he hadn't already. Without another thought, he shoved his dusty boot into the stirrup, hopped on his other leg a couple of time then muscled his way on to his horse. His ass had barely touched the saddle when Cade nudged the horses forward into a lope. Kirby squeezed his legs together and leaned forward to keep from doing a backflip off the back of his horse.

The ride back to John was more painful than the ride to get to Kirby, if that was possible. Cade knew he was still losing blood and needed to have his side dressed and cleaned before he passed out. Thoughts of Faith and his son came to his mind, giving him the strength to keep going. There was no way that he was not going back to them. They had been through too much, he had finally realized how much he loved and needed his wife.

John paced back and forth, waiting for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, after several hours, he heard the sound of approaching horses slowly making their way toward him. He looked through the trees into the setting sun to see Cade and another man. As soon as Cade saw him, he slumped over and slid to the ground, unable to stop the moan that escaped his pale lips.

It was then that John saw the other horse was tethered to Cade's saddle. A second later he realized the man on the other horse was Kirby Mahoney and his hands were tied behind his back. "What in the hell did you do to him?" John demanded as he knelt down, rolling his friend onto his back it was then he saw all the blood soaking through his shirt. "You shot him!" The Marshall drew his gun and pointed it straight at Kirby's chest. "You had better start talking and fast. My finger's itching to pull this trigger and blow your sorry ass to hell and leave you for the buzzards and wolves."

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