Chapter One

Cullen Bohannan's hair whipped wildly in the wind as he rode his horse steadily, heading toward the nearby tree line just to the East. His hat was tucked away neatly behind him with the few precious belongings he had with him wrapped in a small sack.

He'd been riding almost all day and he was tired. He'd decided to make camp when he finally reached the trees.

When he did, he quickly dismounted the horse and tied him to a tree a few feet into the shadows of the woods. He took his pack and undid it, pouring some water from a canteen into a tin cup for the horse before taking a swig himself and sitting down heavily in the cool shade.

He was anxious. He was anxious and weary and unsure he was making the right decision. Usually he thought himself to be a good judge of what was right and what was wrong, even if he didn't always choose wisely in the end. This time he felt at unrest with every move he made.

He was only a mile out from his destination; Hell on Wheels.

Months had passed since he'd rode off that night; months of being on the run and evading the law whenever he had to. Months of cold nights and dark thoughts, months of regret and madness.

It took a little while but after a week or so after he'd left had he realized how much he had missed Hell on Wheels. He missed the hard work, he missed feeling the accomplishment of doing something important, he even missed the nasty swill they served as alcohol in the saloon.

Most of all though, he missed her and damn it all if he couldn't get her out of his head.

Her smile, her scent, her voice; she haunted him all those cold nights on the run. The look on her face the last night he saw her stayed with him each moment and he knew it was the driving force beckoning him back to the town. It should be the last place he would want to be and it was the only place he wanted to be.

It was getting around Durant and the Swede that were his obstacles, of that he knew. When he decided to return, he knew he had to gain some sort of leverage that would allow him to stay without either of them getting ideas to alert the authorities. He knew the Swede would do whatever Durant said, so digging up dirt on Durant would be the most logical choice of weaponry he could muster.

He knew this was stupid; he knew he should run far away and just reinvent himself someplace where no one knew him but for that he might as well be dead, he thought. Why live a long life without feeling anything but hate when he could have a few moments longer of something more?

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