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Authors: Tell Cotten

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BOOK: They Rode Together
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Chapter four

 

 

When Butch got back to the ranch, there was a strange horse tied to the hitching rail.

He narrowed his eyes as he wondered who it might be. He dismounted, tied his horse next to the other horse, and stepped up onto the porch.

Bob Sprutt met him at the door.

He was a tall, thin fellow with blue eyes and light hair. He was good with a Colt, and he was also keen and educated.

“How’s the forgery coming?” Butch asked.

“Slow.”

“What’s the holdup?”

“Nothing much. It just takes time.”

Butch scowled and grunted in response.

“There’s a man and a woman waiting in the study,” Bob changed the subject. “They want to see Ike.”

“Oh?” Butch shot him a questioning look.

“I didn’t tell them anything.”

“Good,” Butch replied, and asked, “Who are they?”

“Never saw them before.”

Butch nodded. He checked his Colt and walked down the hallway.

The study had been Ike’s favorite room in the house. It was where he had spent most of his time, scheming and planning his business affairs.

Even though Ike had been dead for weeks, there was still the faint scent of cigar smoke in the room. There was a cowhide spread out in the middle of the floor, a fireplace in the corner, and a fancy desk next to the window.

The man and woman were seated in front of the desk.  They stood when they heard him.

The man was tall and wide and looked mean, but Butch paid him little attention. Instead, his eyes grew wide as he stared at the woman.

“Hello, Butch,” she smiled warmly at him as if they were old friends.

“Lucy Wells,” Butch said blandly.

“No, Lucy Nash,” she corrected.

They were both filthy and stank. Lucy’s hair was a mess, and the prison clothes she wore were worn and had holes.

“You look good, Butch,” she said pleasantly.

“You look horrible,” he replied bluntly.

She smiled.

“I really mean it, Butch. You look good.”

“I mean it too,” he said as he continued to stare at her. “You look horrible.”

“We’ve been traveling,” she explained. “I haven’t had a bath in weeks.”

“I can tell.” 

Lucy smiled again, as if they had just exchanged a private joke. Nobody spoke, and several awkward seconds passed.

“What are you doing here, Lucy?” Butch finally asked.

“Where’s Ike?” She asked as she ignored the question.

“You haven’t heard?”

“Heard what?” Lucy asked, her eyes wide.

Butch didn’t answer. Instead, he turned his eyes to Lucy’s companion, and they studied each other.

“Who’s this?” Butch asked.

“This is Rock Bullen,” Lucy introduced. “He rescued me.”

“Captured,” Rock corrected in a gruff voice. “I captured you, not rescued.”

Lucy shrugged, as if it made no difference.

“I told Rock that Ike would pay him handsomely for bringing me here,” she informed Butch.

“Why would Ike do that?” Butch looked curious.

Lucy tried to look insulted.

“Because I’m his daughter-in-law!”

A thought suddenly occurred to Butch, and he nodded slowly.

“You are, aren’t you,” he said.

“So, where is Ike?” Lucy demanded.

“Dead.”

Lucy and Rock were startled.

“Dead!” Lucy exclaimed. “What happened?”

“Lee Mattingly killed him.”

“Oh, that
man
!” Lucy cried, and her eyes flashed in anger.

Rock grunted his displeasure. He turned abruptly towards Lucy, grabbed her arm, and pulled her towards the door.

“Let’s go,” he said gruffly.

“Where to?” Lucy demanded as she pulled back.

“See about a reward.”

Lucy protested, but Rock paid her no mind as he dragged her along.

“Hold on,” Butch said quietly.

“Don’t try to stop me,” Rock shot him a warning glance.

“How much of a reward were you hoping for?” Butch asked.

“As much as I could get.”

“I see,” Butch replied, and added, “I need to talk to Lucy.”

“You going to pay the reward?”

“Perhaps.”

“Why?”

“That’s my business,” Butch said.

The room was silent as Rock thought on that, and he shrugged and nodded.

“All right,” he said as he released her arm. “Talk all you want.”


Alone
,” Butch frowned at him, and then he raised his voice. “Bob?”

Footsteps sounded in the hallway, and Bob appeared in the doorway.

“Yes?”

“Take our guest to the kitchen and fix him a cup of coffee.”

Bob nodded and turned to leave, but Rock didn’t move. He narrowed his eyes in suspicion as he studied them.

“Go on,” Butch growled. “She’s not going anywhere.”

“She’d better not,” Rock warned.

Butch forced a smile and nodded. Rock didn’t like it, but he still turned and followed after Bob.

Chapter five

 

 

Soon as they were alone, Lucy rushed over to Butch.

“Please, Butch,
please
. I’ll do anything, just help me!”

She stank even worse at close range, and Butch wrinkled his nose and stepped back.

“I might have a business proposition,” he said. “But that’s all.”

“Yes, Butch?” She looked eagerly at him.

He cleared his throat and told her about the railroad and his arrangement with Ed Hazel.

“I’m in the process of muddying up the records; trying to get all of Ike’s property in my name,” he finished. “But, that might not be necessary now.”

“And why is that?”

“You’re Ike’s daughter-in-law, his closest kin,” Butch pointed out.

“You mean
I’m
going to inherit all of Ike’s property?” She asked, and there was rising excitement in her voice.


If
I allow it.”

Hope filled her face, and she smiled warmly at Butch.

“You know I’ve always been very fond of you, Butch.”

“Have you now?” He raised an eyebrow.

“I think we would work really well together.”

“Perhaps.”

“What exactly do you have in mind?” She asked.

“We’ll use your name, but it’ll be my operation,” Butch said. “I’ll have final say in all matters.”

“Of course, Butch.”

“I’ve never been greedy. We’ll split any profit right down the middle.”

“That’s more than fair. Oh Butch, I’m so excited!”

“You try and double cross me, and you’ll be sorry,” Butch warned.

Lucy tried to look hurt.

“I would never!”

Butch grunted and said, “All right. I’ll pay Rock whatever he wants.”

He headed towards the door, but Lucy stopped him.

“We might have a problem,” she said.

“What’s that?” Butch stopped and turned towards her.

“There probably is a reward out for me.”

“How come?”

“I escaped from Huntsville,” she admitted, and she explained all that had happened.

Afterwards, Butch sighed and shook his head.

“Yes, that might be a problem,” he muttered.

“Couldn’t I just change my name?” Lucy looked desperate. “After all, not many folks know who I am.”

Butch’s face lit up.

“Yes, that might work.”

“I had a sister,” Lucy offered. “She died when we were young. Her name was Jenny.”

“I’ll mention it to Bob, and see what he can do,” Butch said.

Lucy looked pleased, but then her face turned dark again.

“We might have another problem,” she said.

“What now?” Butch raised an eyebrow.

“Lee Mattingly and Brian Clark,” she explained. “They were there when I escaped.”

Butch scowled and then sighed.

“Those two really get around,” he muttered.

“I want them killed,” Lucy suddenly declared, and her eyes flashed in anger.

Butch was surprised by her boldness. He studied her for a moment, and he nodded slowly in agreement.

“Probably be best,” he said, and asked, “Is there anything else?”

“Rock needs to be taken care of too,” Lucy said matter-of-factly. “He knows too much.”

“Is there anybody you
don’t
want killed?” Butch stared at her.

“You, of course,” she smiled.

“I’m glad to hear you say that,” Butch said, and asked, “Any suggestions on how we go about this?”

Lucy frowned. It was silent for a bit, but then excitement filled her face.

“Why don’t we hire Rock to go after Lee and Brian?” She suggested. “After all, he
is
a bounty hunter, and they
are
outlaws.”

Butch was amused by the thought.

“Think Rock could do it?”

“Yes.”

“Still, even if he caught them, he might not kill them.”

“No,” Lucy disagreed. “He told me that he always kills his prisoners. Said it was easier.”

“He didn’t kill you,” Butch pointed out.

Lucy smiled.

“I’m different.”

“Yes, you are,” Butch agreed, and asked, “What about Rock? How do we take care of him?”

“We can worry about him later, after Lee and Brian are dead.”

“You make it sound so easy,” Butch smiled, and added, “All right. I’ll talk to him.”

He started towards the door, but Lucy reached out and grabbed his arm. Her grip was firm, but then it softened.

“Are partners in business all we can be?” She asked gently.

Again, Butch was startled, but he managed to conceal it. He stared at her for several seconds before he firmly pulled his arm away.

“You should take a bath before you try to be romantic,” he suggested wryly.

Lucy scowled at him as he left the study. 

Chapter six

 

 

Rock followed Butch back into the study. He held a cup of coffee and was also chewing on a biscuit.

“Have a nice talk?” He asked sarcastically.

Butch strode over to Ike’s desk. He sat with authority, and Lucy stood behind him, looking proud.

Rock’s face showed slight amusement as he watched them.

“I’d like to offer you a job,” Butch announced.

“Doing what?”

“Lee Mattingly and Brian Clark. You know who they are?”

“Sure. Everybody does.”

“I want them dead – I mean – captured. Both of them.”

Rock narrowed his eyes. He glanced at Lucy, took a swig of coffee, and looked back at Butch.

“Why?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Butch replied. “Just give me your answer.”

“First I’d ask about the price.”

“Name it,” Butch waved a hand at him, and added, “You can also collect any reward.”

“Reward?”

“Sure. Lee killed a politician.”

“I didn’t know that,” Rock said. He thought on it and asked, “What about the local law? What are they doing about it?”

Butch snorted in disgust.

“Rondo Landon is the sheriff, and he and Lee are close friends. He won’t do anything.”

“Interesting,” Rock scratched his jaw. “I wonder if Rondo knows where they went?”

“He might, but he won’t tell.”

Rock smiled, but didn’t reply.

“So, do you want the job?” Butch asked.

“Sure.”

“Good,” Butch nodded and stood. “Now, how much do I owe you for bringing Lucy home?”

Rock named a price. It was high, but Butch didn’t argue. He got the money from the safe and paid him.

“By the way, nobody needs to know about Lucy being here,” Butch said.

Rock looked unconcerned as he folded the bills and put them in his shirt pocket.

“I won’t tell anybody.”

“Make sure you don’t,” Butch said.

“Think I’ll ride into town and stir up a little trouble,” Rock changed the subject, and asked, “Is there a town council?”

“Yes. Last I heard, there were three members.”

“What are their names?”

Butch told him, and Rock nodded.

“I’ll start there,” he said.

Rock put down his coffee cup, and without another word he walked out of the study. His footsteps sounded down the hallway as he went outside.

Butch walked over to the window. Lucy joined him, and they watched as Rock climbed on his horse and trotted towards town.

“Well, that’s that,” Butch said.

He glanced at Lucy, and she smiled back at him.

“I’m so excited!” She exclaimed.

“Yes, I imagine you would be.”

“Could somebody fetch me some hot water?” She asked as she turned from the window. “I’d like to take a bath now.”

“I’d appreciate that,” Butch said truthfully.

BOOK: They Rode Together
6.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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