Chapter 36

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"Cade Jacobs, lay back down!" Exasperated, John looked at his still pale friend. "It's only been two days since you got shot and damn near bled to death. You need at least one if not two more days to recover." He, himself was exhausted. Between making sure Cade stayed alive to get back to Faith and keeping a constant watch on Kirby, he could sleep for a week.

Cade clamped his jaw as he slowly got to his feet. It had only been two days since he'd been shot but he had slept the entire time. All he could think about now was getting back to Faith and seeing his son. He wanted to feel his wife in his arms and tell her he loved her; that he had loved her but was just too stubborn to realize it. The physical need to touch her was almost painful. "You can stay if you want too but I'm leaving. I don't care if I have to tie myself into my saddle, I'm not spending one day away from Faith that I don't have to." Cade slowly bent down to get his bedroll and saddle.

"Move," John said, pushing his friend aside. "I'll get it." Twenty minutes later the three of them were on their way back to Red Valley. Cade pushed himself as long and as hard as he could. They rode until dusk, then made camp. He did as much as he could but as soon as he sat down, he was asleep. The next morning at dawn, they got up and did it all over again. It was about noon on the fourth day when they finally rode into Red Valley.

Both men had heavy hearts as they pulled up to the jail. John had told Cade all about the first time he'd arrested Kirby, then him breaking out of jail and killing Andy. More than once Cade had drawn his gun to kill the sorry bastard. But John had sworn to uphold the law, and the law said that Kirby was to be tried by a jury of his peers. There had been several times that he himself wanted to kill Kirby.

John could have said that his prisoner had tried to escape and shot him while Cade had been unconscious, no one would have ever known. He had heard about some Marshall's becoming judge, jury and executioner. They were no more than murder's themselves, becoming no better than the very men they had been chasing. No, that was a dark road that John was not going to go down.

The three men rode in to the back side of town, so very few people if anyone saw them. Cade had never been so happy to not only get off of his horse but also to come to a town. He wouldn't have been able to take another day of hard riding. His side had opened up again and really needed to be cleaned and bandaged. Gritting his teeth, he threw his leg over his horse, easing himself to the ground. Cade took a deep steading breath, stepped on to the dusty boardwalk, then over to the door. His hand rested on the knob for a few seconds before pushing the door open and the three of them walked inside.

"Sheriff, I've got an escapee for you." John said to the man across the room.

The heel of his warns boots rested on the top of his desk. His legs were crossed at the ankle. The chair was resting on its back legs as he read the weekly paper. Only his dark brown hat was visible from where John and Cade stood. "Oh, and just who would that be?" The sheriff said from behind his paper.

"Kirby Mahoney, sir."

That got his attention. The sheriff set the chair down on all four legs and leaned forward, laying the paper on his desk. All three men gasped. John and Cade looked at each other in shock and surprise. "Andy?"

"Don't look so surprised. Who else were you expecting to see sitting in my chair?"

"Kirby said he shot and killed you when he escaped." John walked forward and shook his friend's hand.

Andy cut his eyes over to Kirby. "He did shoot me but only in the arm. I was lunging for him and fell and hit my head on the corner of my desk. When I woke up, Kirby was gone. My arm hurt like hell and I had a lump on my head the size of Texas." Andy looked over to Cade. "What in the hell are you doing here? I thought you were gone for good." He extended his good arm and shook Cade's hand.

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