Love Wears No Gun by Diana L. Pierce...alias...Dee Grainger
No copyright infringement intended.
Several months had passed since Clay and Holly's niece, Dee, first came to Shiloh. She looked to Elizabeth and Stacy as being her new found sister and brother. Not a distant cousin, as they really were. When Elizabeth first met Dee they formed an instant bond stronger than most sisters would have, but Stacy was gone so much of the time he seldom spoke to Dee when he was there. Dee was letting it bother her and she really didn't know why she should.
Dee recalled all the letters she got from Shiloh from everyone there making her think she would sell the farm her father, Ben Grainger, left her in his will and move from Kansas to Wyoming, just to be near family. Even though her dad was only Clay's cousin who happen to have the same surname, Holly was a sister to her mother, Sarah who passed away when Dee was about sixteen. Dee thought Stacy could have at least written a few lines in one of those letters she got from all of them. The cow hands included themselves in the greetings even if the Virginian did have to write for those that couldn't. Dee was setting out on the porch when the Virginian rode up. "Nice day. Isn't it?" he said heading to the front door with a fist full of mail. She smiled at him nodding, "Yes it is. Did I get any mail?" He shuffles through the envelopes, "No, but looks like Stacy's been writing a lot, there's one for your aunt and uncle, one for Elizabeth and," he pauses turning one of them over, "Say, he even wrote me one, he don't often do that." He shuts the door as he enters.
Dee calls for her half grown pup she hadn't seen in an hour or so. "Chance!" She walks down toward the bunkhouse calling, "Chance! Where are you?" The bunkhouse door opens, Jim yells out to her, "He's in here, Dee, we've been playing fetch." Dee looks puzzled and goes to the open door, "Fetch? Not in doors. What's he fetching?" She looks inside. Jim chuckles, "Oh, just some dirty socks rolled up in a ball. He likes it, watch him." Jim throws the sock ball; the black and white pup retrieves it. Dee says, "You know he's not allowed in there. Come here, boy." Chance comes to her side as she's still standing by the door. Jim says, "Ah, he wasn't hurting anything we like him here with us." She stands on the porch with the dog as she's talking through the open door. "What is it with you guys? You really like hearing the boss man yell at you or do you like hearing him yell at me?" She stands with her hands on her hips sounding a little annoyed with them. She didn't know the man with the mail was walking up behind her. Jim laughs loudly, "You ought to know the answer to that, Dee." She didn't think it was funny, "Well, I ought to make you laugh out the other side of your mouth. I might just tell on you." And she turns around staring the Virginian right in his sober face. "Who's got you stirred up now, Dee, as if I didn't just hear you two kids arguing clear up at the house." That comment really got her temper flaring more than what Jim had said, "I'll have you know the kids are in the bunkhouse and they had Chance in there fetching their dirty socks. You're the one that said he wasn't allowed in there." He glares at her, "Simmer down." She glares back at him. "Don't be calling me a kid. I'm not much younger than you are." He clears his throat, "Then act like it." She storms off toward the house with her dog by her side.
The foreman passes out the mail to the cowhands. Trampas and a couple other men are playing cards. Trampas says, "Did you have to sound so mean to her?" The Virginian asks, "Would you rather I yelled at you instead?" Jim spoke up, "Guess it was my foolishness that started it, sorry Boss man." The foreman could hardly believe the confession he heard. "Don't tell it to me. Anyways I think she likes to argue. Just entertain her." There was a knock at the bunkhouse door and the door opened, in come Clay Grainger, he said, "Think we can spare someone to take a trip towards Laramie in a day or two?" The foreman replies, "Maybe, what you got on your mind?" The foreman could see his boss was troubled about something. Clay answers, "This letter Stacy sent. Did you read yours yet?" The Virginian opens his letter, "I will right now." He knew now why someone needed to go to Laramie. "Jim, think you could get along with Dee long enough to take her and Chance to visit the Adams?" Jim smiles, "You can count on me, Boss man. You know that."
Stacy was in a small town called Fisher Creek, a few days ride from Medicine Bow. He walks into the Saloon and bellies up to the bar. A friendly man smiles at him, "Howdy, my name is Johnny Marble." Stacy says, "I'm Stacy Grainger, nice meeting you." They shake hands. Then Johnny asked, "Are you related to Dealia Grainger?" Stacy said, "She's my cousin. We call her Dee." Johnny smiles, "Talk about a small world. You know I was engaged to her once? We both lived in Texas then." Stacy asks, "Why didn't you get married?" Johnny explains, "By the time I got back from Mexico on a fake business trip for her father, they moved away. I couldn't find her. He tricked me." Stacy said, "She's staying with my aunt and uncle in Wyoming right now, at a ranch called Shiloh, not far from Medicine Bow." He smiles, "She is? I wish she'd marry me." Stacy smiles, "After all these years you still love her?" Johnny nods his head. "Yes, I still love her and when I finally found her in Kansas after her father died I asked her again to marry me. But she found out I use to be a hired gun. I told her I didn't do that kind of work anymore. Dealia told me she couldn't marry a killer. She sent me on my way." Stacy asks, "Are you a killer?" Johnny said, "It was always self defense. I've made a lot of enemies, but I'm not wanted for anything. I've got to try one more time to convince her I can make her happy." Stacy says, "If you got all those enemies than someone's bound to want you dead. Don't you think that would be putting Dee in danger being with you?" Johnny looks at him, "I'm pretty fast. I could protect her. Anyways I'm on my way to Montana to help run my father's ranch. I was a kid when I saw him last. He knows I've lived a rather shady life. But he still wants me to come home as he calls it." Stacy really liked Johnny, but he knew he had told him too much. Stacy realized this may be why Dee moved to Wyoming more so than the family ties. He sent all this information to Shiloh in three letters.
Neither, the Virginian or the Graingers told Dee what Stacy had said in the letters about Johnny. They thought if they could send her to the Adams for a couple weeks, Johnny wouldn't find her and he'd be on his way to Montana without her. Dee was planning to visit the Adams who lived near Laramie anyways. That was a promise to keep for them giving her the Border collie puppy. The only thing was they didn't know if Johnny was headed their way yet or when he would be. The mail being so slow it's a wonder he didn't beat the letters to Shiloh.
In the mean while, the women were at the house talking. Elizabeth is with Dee in the living room playing with the puppy. Dee asks, "What did Stacy have to say?" Elizabeth thought for a moment, "He said to tell you he couldn't wait to see your new puppy and he was sorry about Curly's accident with the bull. He never thought Uncle Clay would ever have a dog here at Shiloh, much less in the house. He said he must be getting mushy in his old age." They both laugh. Dee asks, "Why didn't he write me a letter and say all that stuff? I wish he'd let me know him better." Their Aunt Holly was entering the room over hearing what was said, "Dear, Stacy cares as much about you as we do. He just gets busy. He did say he liked having another woman here to keep me and his sister company." Just then Clay came in the front door, "Hey, the Virginian said he could spare Jim to take you to see the Adams tomorrow if you still want to go, Dee." She thought that's strange he told her a couple days ago that there was too much work to be done for him to let anyone take off on a joy ride. She thought maybe he'd had enough of her and Jim teasing each other and wanted them out of his sight for awhile. "Yes, I really want to go. What made him change his mind?" Clay winks at her, "Oh, let's just say I put a good word in for you." She gives her uncle a hug. "Thank you, Uncle Clay." Dee heads to her room to pack for the trip and Elizabeth helps her. After the two leave the room, "Holly, you and Elizabeth didn't mention Stacy's letters to Dee, did you?" She reassures her husband, "Nothing about you know who."
Because of his slip up telling Johnny about Dee living at Shiloh, Stacy travels with Johnny as his guide as he didn't want him showing up there alone. Two days into the journey, they are made aware that someone is following them. It made for cautious travels having to be alert for an ambush. Stacy spots a gunman behind a rock with his sights aimed right on them. "Look out!" Stacy and Johnny both fire on the intruder. Neither of them knew which shot brought the man down. Johnny said, "Thanks. See what I mean about enemies?" Stacy a little shook by the drama, "I see and I don't think that was the same one on our trail earlier either. We're only a couple hours from Medicine Bow. I think we better inform my good friend the sheriff there. At least he'll warn us if anyone asks about you."
Back at the ranch in the bunkhouse the Virginian thinks he had better tell Jim why he wants him to take Dee on this trip. "Dee has an old flame coming to see her and Stacy has met him in Fisher Creek. Stacy says he's an ex gunslinger." Jim looks puzzled, "Dee doesn't know he's coming, does she?" The foreman explains, "He's still after her to marry him and she already told him she won't marry a killer." Jim tries to understand, "If they love each other, is it our business to interfere?" The Virginian answers, "Maybe not, but if we can save her from taking a bullet for him, guess we better try." The foreman hands the letter to Jim, "You want me reading your mail?" "Jim, you need to read what Stacy says about him and don't be telling Dee."
The next morning, Dee has her packed bags at the front door and is already to travel. "What's taking the funny boy so long? Guess I better go see." She hears riders coming in as she starts out the door. Stacy and Johnny tie their horse out front and start toward the house. Dee only saw Stacy at first, "Stacy, I'm so glad you made it back before I left." She gives him a hug and then notices who's behind him. "Johnny, what are you doing here?" She looks into that handsome tanned face with those green eyes that seem to look right through her, Johnny always had a way of causing her heart to melt just by looking at her. "Dealia, I couldn't go to Montana without seeing you one more time." He pulls her to him giving her a long dragged out passionate kiss. Her legs nearly buckle out from under her. Johnny always had that affect on her. If only he hadn't turned into a man many were afraid of. It was so hard for her to imagine Johnny hurting anyone let alone him being a hired killer those years she was away from him. She pulls away from him, "What's in Montana?" He smiles at her, "My dad's ranch. He wants me and my half-brother to help him run it." Johnny never talked of his dad before much less a brother. She grins at him. "I'm happy for you."
The trip was put on hold. Dee's boyfriend had made a good impression on everyone at Shiloh. The Virginian even hired him on for a few weeks to give Johnny extra experience needed for working the ranch he was headed to in Montana. It was his kind character that had them all thinking maybe they were wrong about keeping him away from Dee. But the fact still was clear to all of them that danger was bound to follow if he stayed there long or if Dee left with him. It was obvious Dee still loved him as much as he loved her. Even if she changed her mind about marrying him and went to Montana, they would have to travel separately.
One day while out on the range, Trampas and the Virginian are showing Johnny how to brand calves. He was catching on to it fast as if it were second nature to him. Trampas tells him, "Your dad will never know you're a green horn. You're doing a good job, Johnny." He's pleased, "Thanks. Is that the sheriff coming up here fast?" The Virginian looking concerned, "It sure is. Something's up." The sheriff approaches and said, "Johnny, that man that stalked you and Stacy coming back from Fisher Creek is still looking for you. He's told everyone in town you're a dead man when he finds you. He's out this way somewhere, I lost him." The Virginian gives orders to his top hand, "Trampas, keep things going, guess Johnny and I better see if we can help the sheriff find this guy." The three ride off to look around.
The three had been looking for the stalker for about an hour. They were watering their horses at a stream when someone started shooting at them. The three go for cover. Johnny realizes who the man is and yells out, "Baxter! Come on out. This fight is between you and me. The sheriff and my friend here need no part of this." The man yells, "You're right it's our fight. Don't shoot I'm coming out." The man said, "You picked on the wrong brother, Marble. You ain't taking me down so fast." Johnny says, "Wells Fargo never had me looking for you, it was your brother who robbed them." The man remarks, "And you killed him and now it's your turn to die." Gun fire is exchanged and the estranged stalker is down on the ground groaning from pain in his gun arm. The sheriff takes the man's gun and helps him to his feet. Johnny warns, "Remember this. If I wanted you dead, you would be." The Virginian finds the man's horse and helps the sheriff get him on it. The sheriff waves to them, "I'll take him to the doctor in Medicine Bow. If he rides away from these parts I may change my mind about putting him in jail." Johnny asked, "Well, Baxter, are you leaving? Don't bother coming back here. I'm leaving too, so it won't tempt you." Baxter agrees, "I'll leave." The Virginian and Johnny ride back toward Shiloh. The Virginian had seen the good side of Johnny. He knew he could have killed that man if he really were a killer. "Johnny, are you really leaving? What about Dee, you're not asking her to go with you after this are you? You know next time may not turn out as well?" Johnny listened to his new friend, "I want her to come with me. But I can't put her in danger. I love her to much for that."
The next day as Dee is showing Johnny the new tricks she taught Chance, Johnny tells her, "I'm leaving today. Think maybe once I get settled I could get you to come to Montana?" She looks at him, "I told you, Johnny, I can't marry a killer. I'm sorry." He holds her tight and in a sad tone says, "I love you, but I respect you for believing that love wears no gun."
Everyone said good-by to Johnny and Stacy as they are getting their gear ready to leave. Stacy told him, "I'll ride with you for a ways." Dee looks at Stacy, "Wish you would have sent me one of those letters." Stacy told her, "I promise I won't leave you out next time." The two men start to get on their horses and Johnny turns back and gives her one of those heart melting kisses. "Don't forget I'll always love you. You can count on me sending you a letter." She smiles, "I love you, too. You better tell me all about Montana."
A few weeks later the Virginian brings the mail into the house, he looks at Dee and says, "Guess who has two letters today?" She is so happy to see one from Stacy and one from Johnny. "I don't believe it. Stacy does remember I'm here." The Virginian laughs at her.