Author: Tauna Petit-Strawn PM
An innocent card games leads to much more for Heath. Rating/Genre always subject to change.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Drama - Heath - Chapters: 23 - Words: 23,826 - Reviews: 93 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 06-10-11 - Published: 05-21-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7011328
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I do NOT own the Big Valley nor any of the original Barkley characters. Thanks to my Beta Reader, though all mistakes are my own.
Jim made his way to the house they'd been told about. He couldn't believe a man could force anyone to stay in the small home that came into their sight. "Hope he falls for this," He thought as he saw Heath making his way to the back of the house, "Mrs. Barkley doesn't belong here."
When Mr. Burner heard the horse approaching he stepped outside. Not knowing who the man was, he kept the rifle he'd brought out with him in his hands.
"Who are you and what do you want?" he barked quite rudely.
Jim wished he was free to hit the man; as it was he simply pulled out some money out of his pocket. He hoped everything he'd heard in the saloon was true, or the part he chose to use was anyway. He knew he needed to keep the man busy long enough for Heath and Nick to get in the back door. Jim began talking.
While Jim was keeping Mr. Burner busy, Heath and Nick slipped into the house through the back. Mary was glad she wasn't holding a pan when she saw them enter; she might have dropped it if she had been. As it was she slapped her hand over her mouth to keep herself from screaming. Heath wanted to take her in her arms and hold her, but instead he pointed to Nick and said, "Go with Nick." She wanted to fight him on it only she knew she didn't have the time. She ran out the back door all the time hoping Mr. Burner wouldn't come back inside before Heath was ready for him.
"You have got to be kidding, me!" Jim had successfully gotten Franklin Burner to listen to him, and now the man couldn't believe his ears, "You mean that no good gambler in Nevada actually got a conscious and is admitting to cheating me and is paying me back?" Mr. Burner was talking about a man by the name of Henry Langston, a former friend of his who had borrowed money from him only to disappear without paying him back. One of the men in the saloon had been talking about 'that mess'.
From where he sat Jim could see Nick directing Mary which way to go. He knew he had to get this over with as he needed to join Kurt, who was standing watch far enough away not to be seen, but close enough he could high tail it down to the place if he was needed. "Yes, he did, here." He threw the wad of money to the rat before him, "Now, my job is over. I need to get going."
"Surely you can stay. I'll have my cook fix us something," Mr. Burner was smiling as he counted the money in his hands. Jim again had an urge to slug the man right then and there.
"As I just said, I have another job to get done," Jim answered as he turned his horse around and started leaving.
Mr. Burner went back into the house feeling pretty good about things; that is, until he realized Mary was nowhere in sight. "Miss Mary! Where are you!" he bellowed as he slammed his fist into the wall and headed for the back door only to find Heath stepping out from the back bedroom.
"What!" Mr. Burner's face shone his shock as Heath exploded and sent him flying with his fist and foot. Getting to his feet, Mr. Burner lunged at Heath only to find the man moving out of the way and he hit the wall just as Nick hurried back into the house with his gun drawn.
"She's mine!" Mr. Burner, recognizing Heath, yelled, "You cheated me!" That got him Heath's boot in his stomach.
Heath gave Nick a quick glance, then turned his attention back on the man in front of him, "I don't cheat nor do I take kindly to a man taking my wife away from me and putting her through hell!" Heath said as he hit the man in the jaw when he managed to stand up. Heath was surprised that the man's attempt to fight back was quite pitiful. He'd figured, what with the man's size and occupation that he, Heath, would need help, hence the reason for making sure Nick was with him. Oh well, made his job easier anyway.
His wife! Shock waves ran through Mr. Burner as he grabbed a knife and threw it at Heath, Heath ducked and ran at the man, head first, knocking him down on the ground. Before the man could do anything, Heath, tired of the fighting the man, stood up and drew his gun, "I know a sheriff who wants to see you; he has a cell just waiting for you. Oh, and my wife, who is very much a lady, wanted me to give you this." Heath lifted the gun and knocked the man out cold. Nick only grinned as he and Heath managed to get the man outside and into the wagon that sat off to the side of the house, as if someone had gotten it ready to go someplace. Once they had the man secured in back of the wagon they headed towards the meeting place they'd chose to pick up their friends and Mary.
Mary was standing by the bedroom window listening to the music drift up the stairs and in through the door. Victoria and the other Barkley women were down stairs entertaining the guests. There was a lot of dancing going on; she just didn't feel like being in a crowd.
Heath, who had excused himself from the party, shut the door and walked up behind her slipping his arms around her waist and pulled her to him, "We're home, the river's calm and we're fine," he began nibbling on her ear, "I know I told the others we were tired and retiring early," not that he thought any of his family was 'buying that line', "but I'm hungry; how about you?" he whispered as he turned her around.
"Starving," she murmured as she pressed herself up against him. Heath let out a slight groan and laid her down.
While Heath and Mary fed each other, Audra stood on the veranda gazing up at the stars. Her mother walked up to her. "Are you okay?"
Audra sighed, "I keep wondering if I'm going to inherit Jarrod, Nick and Heath's luck, or if I'll get the chance to be courted properly like Eugene courted Rebecca." She desperately wanted a decent courtship.
Victoria gave her a small smile and chuckled, "Time will tell on that one; for now," she nodded towards the house, "Let's go inside and you can enjoy the dance."
"Is Jeffery here yet?" Jeffery was the grandson of a dear friend of theirs and quite the gentleman. Audra figured as long she didn't have a ring on her finger, she could still dream.
"Maybe, who knows?" Victoria smiled as she and Audra headed back in the house. Her sons, the ones who lived on the ranch with her, might have made her head spin when it came to marriages, but at least they were all happy and that was what counted. As far as her daughter went, Victoria hoped Audra would be able to find a man as good as Tom had been, as good as her brothers; however, until she did, the young woman had a family and a home she belonged to.