Author: flutegirl.anita PM
The riders make a deadly enemy.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Western - Chapters: 30 - Words: 79,304 - Reviews: 77 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 8 - Updated: 08-31-12 - Published: 11-02-11 - id: 7516947
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Horatio missed having a fireplace. The crackle of a fire always calmed him. His new house would be built and furnished in a couple of months. It had all the comforts he was used to. The atmosphere in his hotel room was not ideal for stimulating his creativity, but he was getting through it. He just needed to keep his distractions to a minimum, but his own people were not cooperating. He was trying to plan his next caper when he got the disturbing news that Charles had gone completely insane. There were wanted posters with his picture on it now. He had strangled a saloon girl in Deer Creek and killed her. The woman sported an eerie resemblance to Charlotte. She was a pretty woman of about medium height, a lithe body and long dark hair. Another woman was killed in Cottonwood and still another in Fort Laramie. Both bore the same description as the one in Deer Creek. All three of them looked like Charlotte. Horatio hoped he could find her before Charles did. She was much too valuable to lose especially if he had already lost Charles.
Horatio hoped that Charles wouldn't continue to leave a string of these dead women along, but feared that he'd leave a trail of them like breadcrumbs and someday they would end up at his door. No, that couldn't happen. They were going in the wrong direction for one. He couldn't help thinking that Charles was following after his sister. Well he couldn't deal with that now. He had other things to do. When the time was right he would have to take care of Charles, but that time was not now.
First, he needed to keep those riders occupied and put some more spies in place. With Charles and Charlotte out of commission, he needed to close the holes in his network. He spread a map over the desk in his room. Charles and Charlotte both covered a lot of ground. They would not be easy to replace. He needed to run his organization more like that Allen Pinkerton fellow. There was a lot he could learn from him.
Now, about those riders. He had been feeling like he was neglecting them. He looked at the list of riders he kept. There was only one check mark and that was next to the Indian's name. He felt woefully behind on his revenge. He just needed to put the next plot in motion. Oh he had some grand plans for them all. He just needed to get some invitations made and sent. He had a stationary salesman and a calligrapher coming this afternoon for consultations. This was an elaborate piece of revenge he was particularly proud of and had taken him weeks to put in motion. He had located all the guests he wanted to invite and now he just needed to kick over the first domino. Perhaps the most difficult to find was Mr. Marcus. Those boys had really put the fear of God into that man. He had been difficult to persuade but in the end the lure of the ultimate story proved too difficult for the man to refuse. It was all so exciting. He couldn't wait for the festivities to begin. That of course would take some time. He would have to allow the guests time for travel. It was going to be such a grand event. He was having an observation suite built right now with tinted glass so his guests of honor couldn't see him.
He looked at his guest list again. There really were a lot of colorful names on it. Tornado Pierce, they say was so fast he could kill three men before any of them had a chance to pull their gun out. He was young too and trying to make a name for himself. He would probably be the first one to arrive. 'Reverend' Gary Ross and his partner Adam Curtis, who was known to most people simply as 'The Apostle,' were the next two names on the list. They recited verses from the Bible and said prayers over their victims as they shot the hell out of towns and people. Horatio thought if the two of them were still alive at the end of his shindig, he might offer the pair a job. The only thing that worried him was the amount of time the pair spent drinking. They were champion drinkers both. The list was filled out with other names like, 'One-Eye Foster, Sunset Brown, and 'Three Fingered' Jack McDowell. The only other notable was David McCanles. He had a particular beef with his guest of honor. He just needed a way to compel his guest of honor to come to the party. He may have to stoop to take an easy avenue. Maybe he could kill more than two birds with one stone. He was feeling restless. Even though burying the Indian alive had affected the whole group of riders profoundly, he'd still only gotten revenge on one of them so far. He wanted to check off more names on his list.
Horatio started to change gears back from revenge to business. He really wanted to keep tabs on the territorial marshal. That man seemed tasked with finding him for the theft of the army guns. Sam Cain. He lived in Omaha. He would send someone along to keep track of the good marshal's progress. He wasn't interested in hurting the man or his wife, well not yet anyway. They hadn't done anything to him so far, but he had a feeling that Sam Cain was not a man that would give up easily. Also, he needed to keep him from interfering in his plans for Marshal Hunter and his boys.
Sam held Emma as she napped against him. There was nothing in this world he wouldn't do for her. She was his whole world. He wasn't sure he was reading the situation correctly, but he was almost certain if they spent any more time with the young woman sitting across from them on the stage, they would be taking her home with them. Sam was uncomfortable about this. He often could sense danger before it showed up. His many years of experience had taught to listen to his instincts. Amy set off all of these instincts. She was trouble. He looked over at the young woman and he was happy she was asleep too. It was a long trip back to Omaha and being that both women were with child, he was glad for the peace and quiet over the incessant talk about babies.
Amy's sleep looked fitful to him and she moaned like she was dreaming. He wasn't sure if it was a nightmare or a dream of a very different perhaps romantic nature. He decided it was romantic when she smiled when she moaned the next time. He felt a little awkward being awake to hear it, but when she uttered the name 'Buck,' he went completely slack jawed and understood what the hairs on the back of his neck were trying to tell him. This was could be Buck's Charlotte. She matched the physical description and she was the right age.
Sam pondered his next moves. If this was Charlotte, he wanted to keep her as far away from Emma as he could, but he knew that wouldn't be possible. Amy had told them of her brother that she was terrified of. This brother of hers was probably the man who had buried Buck alive. Sam couldn't think of anything worse than that. He didn't want anything bad like that happening to Emma. But Charlotte also knew things. She had an employer that was stealing the army's guns and he needed to know who that man was. She was the key to taking him down. Sam didn't know what her loyalty would be like. She seemed willing to tell Buck, but then that meeting didn't really turn out well for him. He could see Amy was terrified. She was using a different name and she was heading to hide out in a convent. From what Rachel and Teaspoon had told them about this girl, hiding in a convent would be a brilliant move on her part. The people she was running from would never think to look for her there. Sam felt it was best to lodge her with the nuns and socialize with her often. If Sam could get Amy, Charlotte, whatever her name was to trust him, then he could protect his family and get the bad guy. There was just one other little detail he was concerned about.
He strongly suspected that the baby Charlotte was carrying was Buck's child. He knew for a fact that Buck didn't know. Given the circumstances of his own upbringing, there would be no way Buck would abandon his child or its mother. He was not looking forward to revealing this information to Buck or to Emma for that matter. He would have to be told and it would throw his life into a tailspin right as he was finally getting the happiness he deserved. He looked down at Emma. He would have to tell her and maybe she could help him decide what and when to tell Buck. They would be in Omaha soon he would talk with Emma when they arrived. For now, he would just hold her a little closer and watch over the two women. Even though it scared him to death, the tiny fragile woman across from them had just become part of the family. He couldn't un-hear Buck's name, even if he wanted to forget it ever happened.
Jenny was settling in at her father's place. He had a nice room all set up and ready for her when she arrived. There were details that were very girly like a lacy bedspread, but there was enough room left in the décor that she could add her own things. It touched her that her father had put so much thought into her room. They would have dinner tomorrow night and talk about how their new living arrangement was going to work.
Jenny would probably start working in the store so she would have to restrict her social life to the evening, but that would work out for Buck too. He was coming over a little bit later to see how she had settled in and to take her riding and for a picnic dinner. She had only been away from Buck for a couple of hours and already she missed seeing him. He had a run tomorrow so she wanted to spend as much of today together as possible.
It would be a little hard for them, she knew. They had such a spiritual connection to each other that it seemed almost as if they didn't even need to be courting. She knew they needed to slow things down and let their heads catch up with their hearts. Everything happened so fast and they both felt bound to one another in ways that people seldom are, but they still barely knew each other. Buck didn't even know her favorite color and she didn't know his, although she suspected it was the bluish purple of the shirts he always wore. They needed time to learn each other even though they knew each other's souls.
Jenny went to the kitchen and started putting together some food for their outing. She packed up some sandwiches, pears and a small jug of apple cider. She was just finishing up when she heard a knock on the door. He was here. She smiled and took a quick look at herself in the mirror. Jenny opened the door to a smiling Buck holding a small bouquet of flowers. She took them from him and invited him inside. The grin on his face made the butterflies in her stomach dance as she all of the sudden felt nervous. After she put the flowers in water, they met each other in the center of the room and looked deeply into each other's eyes. Jenny could get lost forever in the depths of his dark eyes and he could also in her baby blues –he was the earth to her sky, the shore to her ocean. They didn't stop to think, they just started to kiss each other senseless. Jenny broke the kiss much to Buck's chagrin, but he realized the trouble they could get in if they allowed themselves to progress to the next logical step.
"We better leave for that picnic before it gets too late," she said breathing heavily.
"Yeah," he conceded as he ran his fingers through her hair.
Her eyes closed as Buck began kissing her again. This time he trailed a bunch of soft kisses down her neck into the opening of her blouse. Jenny gasped and said something under her breath in Lakota then pulled Bucks face up to her own completely giving into his charms. She had Buck's shirt almost completely open and untucked when she heard voices just outside the door. They both looked startled at each other and they both frantically started to re-button their clothing and smooth their hair as the voices of Teaspoon and Tompkins became louder. They both had the look of the cat that ate the canary as the two men entered the house.
"Hello, Mr. Tompkins," Buck said holding his hat casually in place to disguise his desire for the other man's daughter.
"Buck was just taking me out on a picnic," Jenny said smiling nervously at her father.
"Well, I know that," Bill explained. "I was just worried when it seemed the two of you were inside the house for such a long time."
"Oh, I still was working on some of the food for the picnic and Buck was patiently waiting," Jenny lied easily. "We'll just be leaving now."
Jenny shoved the picnic basket into Buck's arms and grabbed the picnic blanket while she ushered herself and Buck out the front door.
Teaspoon tried to keep from laughing as Buck gave him a look of thanks on his way out the door.
"Oh, alright," Tompkins said feeling like he was missing something. "Have a good time!"
"That was close," Buck whispered to Eagle Feather.
"Too close," she said giggling.