The guys are not mine and I don't make any profit.
A/N Okay, so this is a new AU. It is set in the decorations and mood of the Old West, but without any references to any historical events, personalities, etc.
Special thanks to Tiffany Pena for the beta-reading! She is really a saint, and sure has a patience of one!
Gathering the Larabees
A few people could be seen standing on the hill which served as a north border to Four Corners Valley. A white man of average height, in his late twenties; a slim youth with a rifle, his eyes were constantly checking the area for any immediate danger; and a black giant, in whose arms a little white boy was sleeping.
"Master," the giant called quietly. "It's time to go."
"A moment, Max," the man answered and glanced back along the valley. A town stood in the middle, surrounded by homesteads and small ranches; forest groves, a lake, and a gold mine could also be seen in the surrounding area. It was a rich and hospitable land, which had belonged to the Larabee family until only recently. Until one of the jealous neighbors had finally gotten greedy and ruthless enough to take it by force.
The man sighed. His own name was Robert Turner, and he was a rich heir of long deceased parents. His step-father, though, had been one of the Larabee's distant neighbors; Robert had never cared much for the man but had always adored his little step-sister, Cherry. So, when the girl had fallen in love with one of the Larabee brothers, James, Robert had helped them elope; he'd even given her away at the wedding down there, at the Four Corners church. He'd met all of the Larabees for the first time then; they were good men. Had been, Robert corrected himself mentally, swallowing the lump in his throat. A little rough around the edges, like most everyone here, but gifted with a strong sense of right and wrong and with their hearts in the right place. And when they weren't loved by the people who lived on their land then they sure were respected.
Anyway, Robert's step-father had died soon after the wedding, and Robert had finally gained access to his own money. He'd decided to see the world then, to travel for a couple of years before settling down somewhere near Four Corners and starting his own business. Cherry had been happily married and had a husband and three brothers-in-law to protect her, so Robert had left with a light heart. And that had been his first mistake. Of course, there was no way to know for sure if his presence in the area could have altered anything, but still…
Ben Davidson, a neighbor who'd claimed the land of Cherry's father, had decided he was strong enough to take on the Larabees. He'd had a number of guns loyal to him, had hired twice as many more, and had then attacked. Robert had some trusted men in the area, and they had wired him that there were signs of trouble brewing, so he'd hurried back immediately, but by then it had been too late. The battle had already been over by the time he'd arrived. Adam Larabee, the oldest brother, his wife and 5-year-old son had been captured; middle brothers, James and Eric, had been killed. Davidson claimed that the youngest one, Josiah, merely a teen, had been killed, too, but the body was never found. The fate of Cherry and Joanne, the Larabee sister, and their little boys was unknown. And Cherry's Vincent was only a few months old!
And then Robert had made another mistake. He'd focused on searching for Cherry, instead of trying to free the older Larabees; and when he'd realized that was a mistake, it had been too late again. Davidson didn't believe that mercy was a sign of strength; he'd wanted to make a point, to show everyone he was the new owner of Four Corners. He'd wanted to make an example of Adam Larabee; or maybe he just couldn't forget that the man had always bested him in horse races and shooting contests. The man hadn't just killed his prisoner; he'd organized a public execution. And had hired a couple of Indians to perform it.
Robert shuddered. He'd witnessed the execution, standing amongst the crowd, and he was sure he'd be having nightmares for months to come. After that, no one would dare to openly defy Davidson, not for a long time. And that son-of-a-bitch had made Adam's wife and boy watch it, too. Teresa Larabee, though, hadn't given the monster the satisfaction of a hysterical reaction, no tears or begging; she hadn't uttered a sound through the whole process. But she'd fallen down dead the minute her husband had finally been killed. The bastard hadn't dared to kill the child right there, though; his own allies wouldn't have approved of it. He'd postponed that action – and Robert hadn't been slow this time. He'd kidnapped the boy that night – and the smoke which was now rising above the town, was the result of the fire they'd started to cover their tracks.
Robert turned his head and looked at the boy sleeping in Max's arms. Adam Christopher Larabee, Junior, now the legitimate owner of Four Corners Valley. It was too dangerous for him to stay here; they'd be leaving soon. Though two of the most trusted of Robert's men, each one with a personal grudge against Davidson, were staying. They would search for any signs of Joanne, Cherry and Josiah, and at the same time feed the rumors that Adam's son was kidnapped by the Indians. It might be safer to fake the boy's death, but Robert wanted Davidson and the people of Four Corners, to know and believe that at least one Larabee had survived and would return some day for what was his.
Robert reached out his hand and touched the boy lightly. Chris hadn't uttered a sound since the execution, staring out into nothingness, but at least he ate when fed, though very little. Turner took a deep breath; he would pull the boy from this black void. He'd failed his parents and his sister, but he wouldn't fail Chris. He'd raise him as his own, would give him everything a good father should. The boy would be known as Chris Turner from now until the right time came. And then, when he was ready, he would reclaim his name and land, and get his revenge.
"Enjoy your victory while you can, Davidson," Robert hissed, throwing one last glance at Four Corners. "It might not be soon, but one day Chris Larabee will return, and then you will pay for everything you have done. I promise you that."
To be continued...