JD Dunne glanced up as he heard footsteps stop in the doorway of his room.
“Are you leaving, JD?”Julianna Cox asked quietly as she looked at the two saddle bags perched on JD’s bed.
JD shook his head as he motioned for her to come farther into the room,”Not permanently. We found out who’s responsible for Casey’s attack. We’re ridin’ out as soon as the Judge gets here.”
Juliana nodded as she kept her gaze focused on her daughter who was sleeping peacefully in her arms. She didn’t want JD to see the tears that were threatening to flow.
“How long will you be gone?”The young woman asked as she fought to keep her voice neutral.
JD walked over to the small dresser and pulled out a shirt before retracing his steps back to the bed,”I’m not sure. We know who they are now but we have no idea where they are. Could take us days to track them.”The youth replied hoping he was keeping the rage he felt out of his voice.
While on one hand he was thrilled that they were finally doing something to avenge Casey. On the other he was angry with the others for keeping him out of the loop. He had more of a right than anyone to know that they had found new information.
“You’ll find them.”Juliana promised as she looked out the window to the mid-morning activity below.
JD stopped in his packing as he sensed something in his friend’s voice,”Are you goin’ to be okay here by yourself? I’m sure I could get Mrs. Travis to help with the baby....”
Juliana smiled as she shook her head,”I’ll be fine, JD. Just bring yourself back in one piece. I want Cheryl to get to know her Uncle JD.”
Before JD could reply Juliana turned and quietly left the room The youth shook his head as he went back to his task of packing the saddlebags. He knew Cheryl was hiding something big from him. JD just wished that she would trust him enough to tell him what she was running from.
Sam Cole awoke disoriented. His whole body hurt plus his shoulder felt like it was on fire. He just wished he knew why.
“Easy, Sam.”Noah ordered quietly as he helped his brother into a sitting position
At his brother’s concerned voice the memories of the night before came flooding back. Sam winced as pain shot through his injured shoulder as he moved it the wrong way.
Damn, he hated being shot..
“We couldn’t get the bullet out.”Noah reported grimly as he glanced around the crowded campsite. While Eli had greeted them with open arms and ordered his men to treat them the same Noah still felt like there was a gun aimed at them at all times.
“So that’s why my shoulder feels like its falling off.”Sam snapped.
“I’ll get us out of this.”Noah promised as he handed the younger man a canteen full of water.
Kelson glared at him,”Just like you got us into this?”
Noah’s eyes narrowed sharply,”Shutup, Kelson, just shutup. If it wasn’t for your foul up back in Four Corners’s we’d have collected our pay by now and been on to the next job. Just like always.”
Eli Joe took that moment to walk over to the group,”Gentlemen, lunch is served. I suggest you don’t skip meals never know when one might need to keep his strength up.”
Chris Larabee stepped out the door of the sheriff’s office just as Orin Travis was coming in.
“Chris.”Travis said in greeting as they stepped into the building.
“Judge.”Chris replied quietly as he closed the door behind them,”You made good time.”
Travis nodded as he sat down on the corner of the desk,”I gathered from your telegram that you know who attacked Ms. Wells?”
Chris leaned against the wall,”We have a general idea.”
Orin blinked in surprise,”All you have is a general idea?”
Chris nodded ruefullly,”A general idea’s the best we’ve had in days. At least it gives us a place to start.”
“Let me know if you need anything.”Travis replied as he stood.
Larabee nodded as opened the door and left the building.
Vin Tanner had gotten to the livery as soon as he had seen Travis talking with Chris. They’d be riding out soon and Vin wanted to double check that the horses were ready. The young brown haired man glanced up as soft footfalls entered the stables.
“For a man who’s good at trackin’,”Nettie Wells said quietly,”You’re a hard person to find.”
Vin looked at her with concern as he moved toward her,”Is Casey alright?”
Nettie nodded,”Yes, her memory’s still foggy but she’s fine.”The older woman pulled a brown wrapped parcel out of her skirt pocket,”I found this at the church, had your name on it. Figured you’d want to see it before y’all left.”
Vin sighed inwardly as he accepted the package from Nettie. It was the same as all the others but this one was very thin and about the size of a deck of cards.
“Thanks, Nettie.”Vin replied quietly as he returned to his horse placing the package in his saddlebag unopened.
“Someone’s got your trail, don’t they, son?”Nettie asked softly watching him carefully.
Tanner sighed inwardly he knew Nettie wouldn’t leave untill he told her what was going on. He wasn’t sure if Casey’s attack wasn’t in some way connected to his bounty. If that was so Nettie had a right to know what was going on and a small part of him needed to talk about it.
Vin turned to face the older woman who had become family,”Yeah, somebody has.”
Nettie nodded and sat down on a bale of hay and waited for him to continue.
Vin leaned against a nearby post as he rubbed a hand wearily across his face,”I don’t know who. Over the past week or so I’ve gotten three packages.”
“What was in them?”Nettie asked.
Vin sighed,”One was a small noose, the other a wanted poster, and a Ranger badge. I’m tired of runin’ but I should. We finally have a lead on who attacked Casey and I want to follow that through but if a Hunter’s after me I don’t want to put any one else in danger.”
Nettie stood and placed a comforting hand on Vin’s left shoulder,”I know you aren’t used to relying on folks, but trust your friends. Tell ‘em what’s goin’ on, they can help.”
“Maybe.”Vin replied as he moved away from the post.
Nettie nodded as she turned and headed toward the door,”I best be gettin’ back to Casey. I don’t like her wakin’ up alone.”
Vin’s soft voice halted her in the doorway,”Nettie, we will find the Cole brothers. I promise you that.”
The gray haired woman nodded sadly before turning and quietly leaving the barn.
Casey Wells stood in the doorway of the old church her arms folded across her chest.
Nettie watched her with concern as she folded a few of the spare blankets,”Casey, come away from that door. We don’t need ya gettin’ sick on top of everything else.”
Her niece didn’t move so Nettie stood and walked over to the door. It was only then that she saw what had captured her niece’s attention.
Nettie placed a comforting arm around her niece as they watched the seven peacekeepers ride out of town,”They’ll be back, Casey.”She promised softly.
“How do you know?”Casey asked quietly her gaze never leaving the road.
“They always do.”Nettie replied her gaze resting briefly on Vin’s retreating form,”No matter what gets tossed their way they always come home.”