Unusual Suspects by Robyn B.

I don’t own Lancer or the characters of the show. I do, however, take the boys out for a run around the ranch. All characters of my making are not to be used without permission. This story has an NC-17 rating, not for sexual images but for some of the language.

Word count: 11,320

The jangle of the harnesses on the horses as they pulled the large wagon behind them, echoed in the stillness of the ride. One cowboy drove the team, the other had his hat pulled low over his eyes and he was sort of napping.

Scott would look over to his sibling and wonder, for the millionth time, how can he sleep in this rattling wagon. He chuckled to himself and said, ” How do you do it Brother?”

A soft, sleepy sounding voice said, ” Do what Boston?”

” Sleep in this rolling rattle trap!”

Smiling under his lowered hat, Johnny said, ” I catch sleep where I can Scott. I just block out the harnesses.”

He pushed his hat up a little and straightened on the hard wooden seat. He looked around and sighed softly. Still have more than half the way to go yet.

Scott looked at his brother and was thinking the same thing. This is a long damn ride in the wagon. Riding Remmie or Charlie, he’d be able to go a bit faster than these two plow horses were going.

” Did you see the size of this list Teresa gave me Johnny? We’ll be in town for two hours, loading the wagon.”

Johnny laughed softly and said, ” No, let me see it Boston.”

Scott handed his brother the piece of paper and Johnny opened it. He whistled softly and said, ” Man, why do they make lists so long!?”

The brothers laughed and Johnny handed the list back. Scott put it into his shirt pocket. The ride was all but quiet as they continued.

The wagon rumbled down the street to the mercantile. When the wagon stopped, Scott set the brake and jumped down from the seat. Johnny slid to the ground slowly on the other side.

Both brothers walked into the store and were greeted by the owner’s wife, as she came from around the counter. She placed both hands on Scott’s cheeks and then did the same to Johnny, chattering in fast speed to welcome both to her store.

The older brother handed her the long list and told her they’d be back in about an hour to collect the items. They very quickly left the store.

They walked to the telegraph office to gather up the mail that was there for the ranch. There was a lot of letters, and Scott saw one rather large envelope addressed to him. He pulled the letter out and slid it into his back pants pocket.

They both had a pile to carry back to the wagon and laid the mail into the back. Scott put his hands on the edge of the wagon, and said to his brother, ” Well, we have an hour to kill, wanna go to the cantina or the saloon?”

Johnny smiled and said, ” Cantina, I’m starving!”

A loud laugh came from the older brother, who said, ” You’re always hungry little Brother!”

They practically ran to the cantina. They sat at a table in back, and the waitress came over. She put her arm around Johnny’s neck and said, ” Hola boys. What can I get for you both?”

Scott opted for a steak and potatoes and Johnny wanted enchiladas and beans. They both got ice cold beers as well.

When their meals came, they still talked about what still needed to be done at the ranch. Soon, the hour for lunch was over and they stood to head back to the wagon to load it up.

It took the brothers an additional thirty minutes to load all the items from the list. When Scott went in to get the bill of sale for Murdoch to add to his ledgers, Johnny stayed by the wagon.

When his brother came back out, Johnny suddenly suggested he would drive the team and he could read his letter.

A smile lit Scott’s face and he said, ” Well, that’s very nice of you Johnny, thanks Brother.”

The brothers climbed up into the wagon and Johnny released the brake and slapped the reins over the backs of the horses. They began to move out, very slowly.

They had just cleared the town limits, and Scott pulled his letter from his pocket. He opened it and began to read.

Johnny cast sideways looks at his brother, and the frown on both brother’s faces got deeper.

Scott deeply sighed a few times and Johnny finally asked if everything was okay. Scott slowly lifted his head, and looked out across the terrain.

” I guess it’s okay. My friend says that he’d like to meet up with me in San Francisco in a couple weeks. He’s going there for business, he says.”

That statement perked Johnny right up. He said, ” Why you sound so unsure Boston? Isn’t he a friend, you said he was.”

” We have so much to get done at the ranch before the spring drive. I’m sure Murdoch won’t let me go.”

The smile that came to Johnny’s lips was reassuring to his older brother. ” Never know until you ask Scott. The old man might surprise you.”

” Maybe. I’ll have to think about it before dinner.”

The letter was returned to the pocket and the brothers were almost quiet, just as they were on the way into town.

They arrived at the ranch, and Jelly and some ranch hands came to take care of the supplies, plus the wagon and the team. Scott and Johnny went into the house and Scott handed Murdoch the receipt.

Johnny and his father watched, as Scott abruptly turned and bolted up the stairs. They soon heard the door of his room slam shut. That was not usual for him to do. Johnny was the door slammer.

” Something happen in town to upset your brother?”

Johnny walked to the bar cart in the corner and picked up the almost full bottle of tequila, and poured a glass. Murdoch saw it was a rather large glass full of the fiery liquid. He sighed as he watched Johnny bolt the drink in one swallow.

He grabbed the edge of the cart and closed his eyes, as the liquid fire slid slowly down his throat to settle pleasantly in his belly.

When he opened his eyes and turned around, he saw the raised eyebrow on his father’s face. He braced himself for the questions that were about to be thrown at him.

” Okay John, what happened in town? Now I know something is wrong. Your brother does not slam doors. You don’t bolt down a full glass of tequila like it was water. Now, what happened?”

Johnny stood in front of his father, blue eyes locked on blue eyes. He was the one who broke the lock. He walked to the couch and sat down, after emitting a soft sigh.

” He got a letter, from a friend, he said. After he read it, he seemed almost nervous.”

Murdoch sat on the coffee table in front of Johnny.

” What was in this letter, John?”

Johnny lowered his eyes and played with the rowel on the spur of the leg he had across his knee. Finally, he lifted his eyes to look at his father.

” All he said was the guy’s name and that he was a friend. “

” Nothing more ?”

” Nope. Scott said he’d tell me about this guy after dinner.”

Murdoch stood up after slapping Johnny’s arm and said, ” Well, have to wait for Scott to talk to you. I’m sure he’ll tell you if anything is wrong.”

He started to walk away from Johnny, but he still heard Murdoch’s words, softly whispered, ” I know how you two always talk.”

Those words bothered Johnny, but he wasn’t sure why that was.

Two hours later, Scott came down the stairs and went into the Great Room, where his brother and father were having before dinner drinks. He poured a whiskey for himself and went to stand by the fireplace, where a small fire was cheerily burning.

They were discussing what all will need to be done before the drive and Maria announced dinner was ready.

The three Lancers went to the big table and sat in their usual seats, while Maria and her kitchen help laid platters and bowls of food on the table.

While they ate, Johnny noticed Scott was not as talkative as he usually is.

When they headed to the Great Room, to relax, Scott poured drinks for his father and his brother. He poured one for himself and then excused himself. He went to the door and quietly slid out into the cool night air.

He turned sapphire eyes to his father, who sat behind his massive desk. To his surprise, he was being stared at by his father’s light blue eyes. Johnny also noted the arched eyebrow.

Johnny stood up, sighed gently, and said, ” Alright, I’m going.”

He found his brother at the low white wall on the porch, leaning against it.

” Figured you would come out here Brother.”

” Well, you did say you’d tell me about this friend of yours. Here I am Boston. All you have to do is talk and I’ll listen.”

He smiled at his little brother, a sad sort of smile.

” Okay Brother, I’ll tell you everything. My friend’s name is David Marks. I met him at University. Don’t know much about him, really. He was in a couple of my classes and he’d like to ride thru The Commons. After I left for the war, I lost track of him, until about two months ago. He was suddenly writing every week. Told me he missed our friendship, but I wasn’t really his friend, he was just always there. Wouldn’t tell me where or what he was doing for work either. And now, this letter he wants me to come to San Francisco. “

Johnny quietly took in his brother’s words and then softly said, ” It sounds like you aren’t real sure of this guy.”

” No, I wasn’t what you’d call a close friend. It’s kinda got me wondering what he’s after, you know?”

Johnny could see what it was doing to his brother. Finally, he was very brutal and said, ” If you are worried or something don’t seem right, then don’t go.”

” No, I think I need to go. Just to see what, if anything, he’s up to.”

They went inside and told Murdoch and he gave Scott permission to take the time off, if Johnny would cover his chores for the time he was gone. When Johnny agreed, Scott excused himself and went up to his room. There was no slamming door this time.

Johnny stood watching as his brother left the room. He had a very worried look on his face. Murdoch saw the look on his youngest son’s face and he put a hand on his shoulder.

His head turned to his father, who said, ” You’re worried, aren’t you Son?”

” Yea. It’s been bothering me ever since Boston got that letter today. I don’t know, something don’t feel right.”

His father walked back to his desk, and turned around and leaned on it.

” Do you think he shouldn’t go?”

A lowered head and a very soft voice said, ” No, I’d like to go along. Just to watch his back. But we can’t both be gone, too much to do.”

Murdoch thought for a few minutes and he said, ” No, if you think your brother could be walking into something, then go. I can move some of the hands to cover your chores. Check to see if Scott wants you along. He may not John.”

Johnny walked to the staircase and took them two at a time. He went down the hall to his brother’s room and knocked.

He opened the door and saw Scott putting some clothes into a small carpet bag.

” Hey Boston, I was thinking. “

Scott turned to look at Johnny and he smiled at him and said,  “Thinking, you should be careful Brother, you could get into trouble doing that.”

Johnny saw the smile and smiled back. He started to speak again.

” Well, I got a bad feeling Brother. Like maybe I should go with you, you know to keep an eye on your back.”

” You want to go to San Francisco? Can Murdoch deal with both of us away at the same time? Will he be able to get the work done with the both of us gone?”

” He said it was okay with him if you said okay. He told me if need be, he’d shift the hands around to help cover us being gone.”

Smiling, Scott quietly said, ” Leaving here at 6 in the morning to catch the stage out.”

As Johnny was turning around to leave, Scott said, ” Bring a nice set of clothes so we can go out to dinner.”

The look Johnny leveled on his brother caused his older brother to smile broadly.

He went to his room and took a small valise from his closet and started to put some clothes into it. He grabbed his nice white shirt with embroidery on it, his string tie and his shaving stuff. He slid two boxes of ammo into the sides of the valise. Johnny also pulled his short black bolero jacket and laid it over the valise.

It was heading to 11 pm and Johnny decided to get ready for bed. He kicked his boots off his feet, unbuckled his gunbelt and laid it over his headboard. His shirt was unbuttoned and he threw it into the basket Teresa finally placed in his room. He put his leather pants on the chair for tomorrow.

He slid between the cool sheets and slid his hands behind his head. His sapphire eyes slid to the window as he saw some heat lightning lighting up the night sky. The light from outside lit up Johnny’s room and he sighed softly as he turned over to go to sleep. His last thought was wondering if it would be raining in the morning.

Johnny slept fitfully and when the sun just started to peek over the top of the mountains, his sapphire eyes popped open. He laid in bed for a bit longer, to wake up and then heard the knock on the door.

Scott’s blonde head peeked into his brother’s room and he smiled and said, ” Rise and shine Brother. Got thirty minutes to get up and fed.”

Johnny smiled at his older brother and said, ” Well, if you would get out, I’d get up Boston!”

Scott laughed and said, ” So get up.” Which Johnny did. He climbed out of his bed, buck naked, and padded to the stand by the window and poured water into the glass bowl.

As he started to wash up, he heard his older brother sputtering and then the door shut. Johnny laughed, a rather evil sounding laugh, and he said to himself, ” Well, you dared me Boston!”

He got dressed and slid his gunbelt around his narrow hips. Grabbing his valise, hat and jacket, he left his room and headed down the back stairs into the kitchen.

He dropped his valise onto the floor by his chair and slid his hat and jacket to the back of the chair. Maria slid a cup of coffee into his hand, as he reached for the platter of scrambled eggs.

As the three Lancers ate, Teresa was very quiet. Johnny noticed and he quietly said, ” Anything wrong Querida?”

She lifted sad brown eyes to her brother, and softly said, ” I wanted you to meet my new friend Jessie. Now you are leaving with Scott.”

He saw the look of sadness that filled her brown eyes. He laid the fork down and turned his sapphire blue eyes to his little sister. A soft sigh slipped from between his lips.

” Querida, I’ll meet her when we get back. I need to do this, I have a bad feeling about all of this and I need to keep Scott safe. Okay?”

He smiled softly at her and she smiled back at her big brother.

“Okay Johnny, it can wait until you come back.”

The meal was finished with soft gentle banter between the Lancers. As the last sips of coffee were taken, Scott, Johnny and Murdoch started to head to the front door. Teresa came up to Johnny and hugged him and then Scott.

” Come home safe guys.” She then turned and almost ran back to the safety of the kitchen and Maria’s warm comforting arms.

The Lancers went out the front door. The boy’s horses were saddled and waiting.

” I’ll have Frank get the horses from the livery after you’ve gone. Have a safe trip and come home soon.”

The brothers tied their valises to the saddles, and Johnny slid his jacket on and put his hat on his head. They mounted up and Johnny gently smiled and said, ” I’ll bring Boston home safe Murdoch.”

A gentle deep chuckle came from the elder Lancer, and the brothers turned their horses to the arch and started the ride to town to catch the stage heading to San Francisco. “

The stage to San Francisco would take two days, if there were no delays along the way. Johnny hated to travel like that, but it was better not to ride that distance.

They talked on their way to town. They arrived in town an hour before the stage was there. They left Charlie and Barranca at the livery. They removed their valises and went to the stage depot. That was actually the mercantile, and they got their tickets.

After they were on the walkway, Scott said, ” We have an hour to kill, wanna go see Val before we leave?”

Sapphire eyes sparked and there was a very sly smile erupting on his face. The brothers very swiftly walked to the Sheriff’s office and very slowly opened the door. Scott looked in very carefully and saw Val was in his favorite position. Feet up on the desk, arms folded over his chest and his dirty hat pulled over his face. A soft snore was heard and Scott smiled at the man behind him.

They walked very carefully into the office, even Johnny’s spurs were quiet. On a silent count, Johnny swatted Val with his hat. As expected, Val woke up yelling and sweating a blue streak. He found two laughing Lancers in his office and he said, with a gruffy sound, “Boy, you keep doing that, and one day I might just take you on!”

Johnny leveled a Madrid stare and a slight smile on his best friend, and Val said, ” And don’t even try that look on me, Boy.”

The brothers finally stopped laughing and Johnny perched his left hip on Val’s desk. That was when the scruffy Sheriff saw the two valises by the door.

” You two going somewhere?”

Scott put his hat on the back of a chair and sat down.

” San Francisco. “

” Ranch business?”

Johnny shook his head and said, ” No, going to see a friend of Scott’s. I’m going along as added protection….I don’t feel right about this situation.”

Val turned sharp brown eyes to look at his buddy. He knew about Johnny’s super sensitive feelings. They had saved his ass on more than one occasion.

” Well, hopefully you won’t be needed, and it won’t become a drastic situation.”

Soon, the three men heard the wheels of the stage, and heard the harnesses jangling noisily. They said goodbye to Val and walked out to the stage. They threw their valises up and got into the coach.

The boys were the only passengers in there, so they each took a side. Johnny immediately put his legs up on the seat his brother was on, pulled his hat low over his face and crossed arms over his chest. As the coach began to move, Scott smiled at his little brother. He could sleep anywhere at the drop of a hat.

After awhile, Scott pulled out the book he had with him and began to wile away the miles with the words on the pages.

When they stopped to change out the team, Johnny sat up straight and said, ” Well, that killed a bit of time. Where are we Boston?”

Scott told him and they both sighed at the same time.

” Guess we should go in and eat and grab a couple beds Brother.”

They grabbed their valises and went into the small station. As soon as the smell of food hit Johnny’s nose, his belly growled.

A tall man behind a counter was cooking, and he looked up and said, ” Evening boys. Tonight’s meal is steak and potatoes. Grab a seat and it will be on the table in a couple minutes.”

The meal was delicious and the brothers ate two steaks a piece. When dessert was offered, Johnny’s eyes only sparkled brighter. Chocolate cake and a cold glass of milk.

The stage driver said, as he got up and began to walk to the men’s room on the right, ” Leaving at sun up boys. Sleep well.”

The boys followed suit and were soon snoring deeply. Sun up came very quickly.

They ate a quick meal of eggs, bacon and biscuits, and about three cups of coffee each. They grabbed their valises, put their jackets and hats on, and went to the stage. They once again threw their valises up and climbed aboard.

Once again, Johnny pulled his hat over his face and Scott pulled out the book again.

They arrived in San Francisco as the sun was beginning to set. The driver threw their bags down and then started loading the new passengers. The boys began to walk to the hotel they had reservations in.

Johnny looked around nervously, and pulled his hat low over his face. Scott noticed he sort of hunkered down into his coat, as if hiding.

“You don’t have to do that Brother. No one will recognize you.”

Just as Scott said that, a man and woman walked past the boys. The woman noted the low hung gunbelt on Johnny’s right hip, and she moved closer to the man with her. The man sent a hard glare at Johnny, and then they moved away.

Scott saw that, and then watched as his brother lowered his head, and then he heard the inevitable sigh that always followed Johnny lowering his head.

” It doesn’t mean they knew who you are Johnny. Don’t let it bother you so much.”

They soon got to the hotel and signed the book, retrieved the key to the room. They then slowly crawled up the stairs to the room. Johnny was so tired, he only managed to get his boots and his gunbelt off, before he fell face first onto the bed. A soft chuckle followed him. He turned to look at his brother and then got up and took his jacket, shirt and pants look off.  Then he got in the bed, pulling the cool sheet up to his waist.

When they got up the next morning and got dressed, Scott stood and looked at his brother, who was strapping his gunbelt around his hips.

” Why don’t you leave your gun here Johnny. Maybe no one will notice.”

Johnny looked at his brother and he laughed.

” How will I protect you, if my gun is left here, Boston? That was the whole reason I came with you.”

As the brothers kind of faced off, Johnny unbuckled his gunbelt, taking the gun out. He rolled the belt up and slid it into his valise. He took a handful of extra bullets and put them in the pockets of his jacket. Then he slid the Colt into the back band of his pants and pulled his jacket on.

Johnny gave Scott a lopsided grin and said, with laughter in his deep sapphire eyes, ” This better Brother?”

Scott laughed loudly and said, ” Perfect Brother!”

They grabbed their hats and went down to the restaurant to eat.

When they were done, Scott pulled the letter from his friend and said, ” He said to meet him at 10 am at The Hotel Bailey. I guess we should find this place.”

Scott walked to the front desk and asked the clerk where it was, and he said it was about four blocks away. They decided to walk.

Even tho Johnny was as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, he found himself actually looking at the surrounding buildings. He saw the people all around him rushing here and rushing there. It was then Johnny decided the city was just too noisy for him.

Soon the hotel came into view. They walked in and Scott walked to the desk. He saw a tiny lady sitting at a desk.

” Excuse me Ma’am? I’m Scott Lancer. Is there a gentleman waiting for me?”

The tiny lady came to the front desk and she looked at some notes and she said, ” Why yes there is. He is waiting in the parlor, thru that curtain.”

Scott told Johnny to hang back until he had a chance to talk to David and find out what he wanted. Johnny sat in a chair and looked at his brother as he went thru the curtain.

As Scott walked into the room, he saw only one man. As Scott walked towards him, the gentleman turned around.

” You! What the hell are you doing here?!”

” Hello Scotty. This was the only way I could get to talk to you. I’m in trouble Scotty and I need your help.”

He was all ready to turn around and leave, and Harlan Garrett reached a hand out and grabbed his arm.

” Please Scotty, I need your help.”

The voice was tired and very soft, but Scott stayed. As his Grandfather started to tell him what was wrong, Scott gasped out loud.

The curtain moved and Johnny was instantly there. He saw Harlan Garrett there and he turned confused sapphire eyes to his brother.

” You might as well join us Johnny Madrid. I may need your help as well.”

” What’s going on Grandfather? Because if you don’t start explaining why you led me to believe I was corresponding with David, I will walk out of here and you can figure this out for yourself.”

Johnny walked over to stand behind Scott and crossed his arms over his chest. The Madrid mask was firmly in place as he too waited for Garrett to start explaining.

As Harlan started to talk, Scott noticed his Grandfather didn’t seem to be alright. He was pale, shaking and seemed to be stumbling over his words.

When he got to the part where he said, ” I’ve been poisoned Scotty. Arsenic. It was a mild amount, but I’ve still got the after affects. I’ve been out of the house and my business. I’ve been here in San Francisco for the past two months to try and get well. I’ve been going to a hospital here for treatment. From what they are telling me, I will soon be able to function somewhat less than at 100%.”

Scott sat in a chair and was pale and breathing hard. ” Who the hell would do this to you? And why?”

Harlan lifted very sad eyes to his Grandson and he quietly said, ” I believe it was David Marks.”

Scott was shocked, to say the least. ” He’s a friend. Why would he want to poison my Grandfather? Hell, he told me he wasn’t even working, he was living off his family’s wealth.”

Harlan took a sip of his tea and said, ” Scotty, I hired him about six months ago. He was in charge of a lot Scotty, and he began to take over a lot more than I knew. Somehow, he had a new will made up in my name. He faked my signature and it was filed with George Bushman, my old lawyer. Then about three months ago, I began to feel sick. I was physically sick, tired, sometimes not even getting out of bed. After three weeks of being sick and getting sicker every day, Lloyd finally took me to a hospital. They did all kinds of tests Scotty, and it was confirmed I’d been poisoned.”

Johnny looked at his brother, and his deep sapphire eyes became hard as ice and his soft voice said, ” Have you had this guy arrested?”

 ” No, he left Boston. After he left, I was contacted by George that there was a will that was out and it gave David almost all of my wealth. George, of course, fought against it and none of my money or stocks has been taken by David.”

Scott had a very confused look on his face and he quietly said, “Just how do you think I can help? I don’t even know where he is. I thought I was meeting him here.”

Johnny walked to a long window and looked out. He was, as usual, checking to see if anything out of the ordinary was outside this room they were in.

Satisfied his brother was safe, at the moment, Johnny moved away from the window.

” Scott, what about taking him back to Lancer, until this David guy surfaces again. It’s clear, even to me, he can’t go back to Boston and he can’t stay here with no protection.”

Scott leaned back in his chair and he had a thoughtful but very worried look on his face.

” I think you are right Johnny. Where are you staying Grandfather?”

” Here in this hotel. I figured I’d keep a low profile and not be in a fancy hotel.”

All three men were unaware that they were being watched. The eyes were black as coal and his smile was evil and sadistic.

He left the dark corner he was in just seconds after the brothers and Harlan left. They went up to Harlan’s room and gathered his clothing. Then they went to the hotel they were in and packed what little they brought.

They hired a horse drawn cab to take them to the stagecoach depot and Scott purchased three tickets on the next stagecoach to Morro Coyo. They were told there was a three hour wait and that was when Johnny suggested they go and get something to eat.

They left all their luggage at the depot and walked across the cobblestone road to a decent looking restaurant. The three men ordered food and drinks, and then waited for their meals to come.

Scott and his Grandfather were talking quietly and Johnny found himself watching a very pretty girl as she worked. He caught her eye a few times, and she smiled at him a few times.

” You don’t have enough time to do anything Johnny.”

Sapphire eyes turned to look at laughing silver blue eyes and Johnny lowered his head. He got a sort of little boy smile on his face and he said, ” Ahh Scott, you can sure ruin a mood, you know that?”

Scott laughed and said, ” You’ll survive Brother. Besides what would Helen Burch say if she found out you messed around with a waitress. Her father only recently let his little girl go with you Johnny, do you want to risk losing her?”

Johnny tore his eyes from the girl and he said, very quietly,  “9No, I guess I don’t. I waited four weeks for her daddy to see I wasn’t gonna eat his little girl, don’t want to lose being with her.”

Their meals came, and while Scott and Johnny ate all of their food, Harlan only picked and ate very little. Scott noticed and said, ” Isn’t the food to your liking Grandfather? Perhaps you’d care for something else.”

” No Scotty, it was fine. I just don’t have much of an appetite lately.”

Scott was concerned and Johnny leaned over and said, ” When he gets some of Maria’s good cooking in his belly, he’ll be fine Brother.”

After that, Scott pushed his plate away and helped his Grandfather up. They went back to the depot and sat on a wooden bench and waited for the stage to arrive.

Neither of the brothers noticed that they were being observed. As the stage was coming into the depot, that mysterious person hid in the shadows of an alleyway. He waited until the stage left and then ran into the depot.

He was all flustered and he said, to the clerk, ” Was there three men going to Morro Coyo in here?”

” Yes there was Sir. The stage just left.”

He looked like he was going to cry and he quietly said, ” I have important paper for my boss to sign. When would the next stage be going to Morro Coyo?”

” Tomorrow morning at 8 am.”

” Oh dear, nothing until then?”

“Sorry, no Sir. Perhaps you can rent a horse and buggy and travel that way.”

He was directed to the nearest livery and bought a horse and light weight buggy, and took off behind the stage. He had packed a huge hamper of sandwiches and a huge jug of lemonade before he left.

The journey to Morro Coyo wore Harlan out, and he slept against his Grandson’s shoulder most of the way.

Their overnight stop was at the same station they stopped at on the way to San Francisco. Johnny was already drooling when they opened the door and walked in.

” Evening Gentlemen. Nice to see you both again. Tonight’s menu is beef stew, cornbread and apples with cinnamon. It will be on the table in a few minutes.”

Harlan sat and he looked worn out. Scott dished a little for him and gave him a small piece of cornbread.

” I don’t think I can eat this Scotty. My appetite isn’t what it used to be.”

Scott gave his brother a worried look and then turned troubled silver blue eyes to his Grandfather.

” Well, eat what you can Grandfather. It’s really very good.”

Harlan smiled weakly at Scott and he said, ” Alright Scotty. I’ll eat what I can.”

Harlan then picked up the spoon and slowly started to eat. He actually added a bit more and finished it all.

Once he wiped his mouth and finished his cup of tea, he softly said, “You were right Scotty, that was very good. Thank you for making me eat it.”

He stood up and said, ” If someone will point me to a bed, I think I shall retire. What time are we leaving in the morning Sir?”

The driver looked at Harlan and said, ” We’ll leave at 7 tomorrow morning Sir. Sleep well.”

Scott handed his Grandfather his small overnight bag and directed him to the men’s side of beds.

” Goodnight Scotty.”

As he took two slow steps, he stopped and turned.

“Goodnight to you as well Johnny.”

After Harlan left, Scott retook his seat and continued eating his supper. He saw that Johnny was watching him closely. Finally, Scott lifted his head and looked intensely at his brother.

” Get it said Brother.”

Johnny smiled slowly at his brother, and softly started to speak.

” He’s not getting any stronger Scott. In fact, he’s getting worse.”

Scott lowered his head a bit and he said, ” I know. I’m hoping this fresh air and good cooking will help. I think Grandfather got more of the poison than he said.”

Johnny got quiet and he too lowered his head. Even softer than before, Johnny said, ” When we were in that sitting room at the hotel, I had the feeling we were being spied on.”

” Are you sure Johnny?”

He leaned back in the chair and clasped his fingers together on his belly and gave Scott a patented Madrid look, complete with a slight smile on his lips.

Scott saw the look and then noted the sparkle in his little brother’s eyes, and he knew he was right. Because Scott also had the same feeling.

” Want me to stand watch tonight Brother?”

Scott turned to look at the closed door to the room his Grandfather was in.

Sighing softly, Scott ran his hand up into his hair. His silver blue eyes closed and he tried to get his mind going into the right direction.

” Do you not mind standing watch Johnny?”

Smiling widely, Johnny patted Scott’s forearm, that was resting on the table top.

” Wouldn’t have offered if I did mind Boston.”

Scott smiled at his brother and softly said, ” Thanks Brother.”

Johnny looked up and said to the guy cleaning up, ” You have something to put some coffee in, I’m gonna be outside all night? “

The man turned around and smiled at Johnny and said, ” Sure, I can give you some in a jug. Be ready in about ten minutes.”

Johnny pulled his jacket on again and checked to see if his gun was working correctly.

The elderly man gave johnny a big closed jug with hot coffee in it, and an empty cup. He turned to his brother and smiled, a very slow sly smile.

” Be careful Brother.”

He headed to the door and waved his right arm in the air.

Then he was gone. Scott stood and watched the door for a few minutes. Then he turned and walked to where his Grandfather was sleeping.

Making sure he was okay, Scott kicked off his boots, took his gun belt off and slid his gun under his pillow. Took off his shirt, but left his pants on. He slid the blanket up higher on his Grandfather, and then slid into the bed that was next to him.

Just before Scott’s eyes slid shut, he heard his grandfather’s soft voice.

” I want to thank you and Johnny Scotty. I didn’t know what else to do.”

” It’s okay Grandfather. We get back to Lancer and we’ll have Sam look at all the reports, and maybe he can come up with a medical plan.”

Harlan seemed to settle back into the bed he was in, and soon Scott heard his soft breathing.

Johnny had set the jug of coffee and cup against a post on the porch. He waited until his eyes adjusted to the darkness. He quickly scanned the area, noting where the stage was and the corral of horses and a huge barn.

Slowly, he moved off the small porch and walked towards the barn. His dark eyes scanning for anything out of the ordinary. He found nothing in or around the barn.

Johnny walked back to the porch and sat in a rocking chair he found. He poured a cup of coffee and scanned the area with eyes as sharp as an eagle.

While Johnny sat, his mind drifted towards Helen. She had the perfect tiny waist, long slender legs, long brown hair that caressed his chest when she leaned over him.

Johnny smiled softly to himself. The one thing he loved, really loved, about Helen, was her eyes. They were a soft caramel brown with gold flecks. Everytime she saw Johnny, they’d sparkle with the sun’s rays. God, he couldn’t wait to get home and back in her arms.

Nothing happened during the night, so Johnny stood up and stretched. He heard a soft crack in his neck and he chuckled.

” Damn! I’m getting old, shit’s starting to crack!”

He bent to pick up the jug and cup and went back into the station. The elderly man, who’s name was Kenny, was getting bacon and eggs and biscuits cooking for the boarders.

” Smells good. I’m starving!”

From the open door to the bedrooms, a soft laughing voice was heard.

” You’re always starving little Brother!”

Johnny turned and leveled his sparkling sapphire eyes on his brother. An answering sparkle was in Scott’s silver blue eyes, and he walked into the main room.

His Grandfather slowly followed behind his Grandson. He sat slowly at one of the long tables and Johnny turned concerned eyes his way.

” How did you sleep Harlan?”

He lifted tired eyes, and although he was very pale, he smiled and said, ” Rather well Johnny. Thank you for asking.”

When Kenny brought the coffee to the table, Harlan was pleased he brought a cup of tea and a small jar of honey, which he put in front of him.

” Thank you very much young man.”

Lenny chuckled and quietly said, ” That’s a right nice compliment, you calling me a young man. Mister, I’m seventy-two years old. Ain’t been a young man for ages.”

The three men at the table all smiled and the driver and his shotgun rider came in to eat.

” Team is hitched, folks. We’ll leave when you’re done eating.”

Scott put his Grandfather’s small overnight bag by the door, and went and sat back down next to his Grandfather.

When the huge platters of food were slid onto the table, Johnny’s eyes got very big.

As he began to spoon the scrambled eggs and bacon onto his plate, his other hand was reaching for warm biscuits.

Harlan was next to fill his plate. He ignored the bacon, but put a good amount of eggs on his plate. He put two biscuits on his plate. He split them open and put a small amount of honey on each side.

Scott smiled as he ate. His Grandfather’s appetite as beginning to get better.

” Anything worth mentioning from last night Johnny?”

In between forkfuls of eggs and bites of the bacon strips, Johnny said, ” Nothing Scott. Was very quiet. Went thru the barn too, saw nothing.”

Harlan was quietly eating his food, listening to the brothers as they talked.

He wiped his mouth on his napkin and softly spoke.

” What is it you think about when you are alone like that Johnny?”

Johnny very slowly turned to look at Harlan. Scott got ready to jump in, because he saw those sapphire eyes instantly harden into pieces of ice.

Then just as quickly they defrosted and Johnny quietly answered the question asked by Scott’s Grandfather.

Quietly, his soft voice washing over the table, Johnny answered the question that was asked.

” I was just quiet and watching for anything unusual. I also thought about someone, who is very important to me.”

Scott turned on the bench and smiled at his brother.


Johnny softly smiled and lowered his head. Scott knew all about how Johnny felt about Helen and that maybe she was the one for Johnny.

Harlan smiled gently. To Scott it looked like a genuine smile, but to Johnny, he suddenly saw a snake behind the action.

” Is she a girlfriend Johnny? Perhaps someone who is special?”

Johnny’s smile almost was fixed on his face and he quietly said,

“Yes, Helen is very special to me.”

Harlan’s smile got a little broader and he said, ” That’s wonderful. Everyone should have a special someone in their life.”

A lowered head to hide the slight smirk on his lips. Johnny now figured that Harlan was up to something. There was no way in hell that old man was interested in something good in his life. He’d keep an eye on Harlan Garrett as well as their follower.

The finished their breakfast and went out to reboard the stagecoach. Johnny tossed Harlan’s bag up to be placed with the others.

As they once again started out, Harlan and Scott shared a seat, Johnny had his all to himself. He also noted Harlan was actually awake and talking with Scott. He put his long legs out in front of him, scrunched a bit against the seat, pulled his hat down over his eyes and crossed his arms across his chest.

Scott’s smile was soft and genuine for his brother, and he didn’t make any remarks. He knew he was over tired, after having spent all night awake.

Mid afternoon, the coach was being stopped and the driver opened the small door.

” Got an hour to stop here, folks. I’m sure Marvin has lunch going. We’ll take off again in an hour.”

They walked in and saw a very jolly pair cooking. The woman was laughing and slapping the cook’s arms.

” Marvin, you are so funny at times! But now we need to be serious, we got people to feed.”

” I can laugh and cook at the same time, Mary my dear. Afternoon folks. Meal is all most done, have a seat. We got fried chicken, potatoes and sliced tomatoes grown in my own garden.”

Mary brought coffee and Harlan asked if he could have a cup of tea. She absolutely purred over Harlan and said, ” Why of course you can Honey!”

Johnny and Scott exchanged quick looks and a smile slowly came to Scott’s face, watching his Grandfather blush at her words.

Soon, their food was on the table and the three men began to eat. Johnny noticed that Harlan was eating better and his color was a bit better as well.

Even tho Harlan looked better and all, Johnny was still very suspicious of the old boy. This whole episode has Johnny’s nerves singing, and it was starting to get to him. He wasn’t real thrilled about having his nerves this tightly wound.

His sapphire eyes began to twitch and he scanned out the window to see if there was anything happening. Nope, all clear so far. Then why were his nerves singing to him?

They thanked Mary and Marvin for the wonderful meal and Mary’s face lit up.

” That was the first time we used that recipe for the chicken. Glad you all enjoyed it.”

They got back on the coach and continued on to Morro Coyo. As the stage pulled into town, Scott and Johnny both softly sighed.

Harlan was helped from the coach and stood on the walkway, brushing the dust from his traveling clothes.

” Why don’t we get you settled in the hotel here, get you a cup of hot tea, and you can relax for a bit. Johnny and I are gonna go to the livery and rent a carriage to go to Lancer.”

Scott settled Harlan in the restaurant, and ordered him a cup of tea and a piece of the peach pie he knew Grandfather liked.

He joined Johnny on the walkway and Scott watched Johnny’s eyes scanning every inch of town. He also saw that Johnny was stretched to his limit, and Scott needed to get his brother home. Johnny would feel safer at home and maybe he could relax a little.

As the brothers started to walk to the livery, Johnny slowly and very quietly said, ” Umm, Scott. I need to say something here. Now don’t take this wrong, but I’m not too sure of your Grandfather. This whole bit of business is not sitting right with me.”

Scott suddenly stopped walking and gently grabbed Johnny’s left arm. Hard sapphire eyes turned to his brother at the sudden grasp.

He released his brother’s arm and Johnny put his hands on his waist and all but glared at his sibling.

” What’s not sitting right Johnny?”

Johnny’s eyes softened and he lowered his eyes just a bit and softly said, ” This whole thing. Why would Harlan come all the way across the country and send you letters as someone else. If he’s been poisoned, as he said, he’d be sick and wouldn’t his Doctor in Boston want to treat him? “

Scott looked at his brother, and the sick feeling he was having, was being verified by Johnny. It was starting to make Scott a little on the suspicious side as well.

” So what do you think Brother? Do you think he’s been faking all of this, and he’s planning something?”

Johnny was shocked at Scott’s words. He wasn’t being fooled by the old goat after all!

” You are thinking the same as me, aren’t you Brother?!”

Scott smiled, a sly crooked type of smile and said, ” So, how do you want to handle this Brother?”

” Very carefully. He’s a tricky one and it wouldn’t surprise me if he and this David were in this together. Just don’t turn your back on this Scott. We’re gonna have Murdoch and Teresa in the mix now.”

Scott’s forehead wrinkled, as he realized that his family was in danger, if what Johnny said. This is his Grandfather! He wouldn’t trick him into coming to Lancer for revenge………or would he?

” You don’t think he’s been planning something, like revenge, on us do you?”

Sapphire eyes lifted to gaze at silver blue eyes. Both sets of eyes held the same answer to that question. Scott lowered his head and sighed. In his heart, Scott knew the answer.

Johnny saw the moment, on Scott’s face, when he realized that this could be a very dangerous situation. He had to keep everyone safe.

They got a small buggy and horse from the livery owner and hitched it up. Scott promised to bring it back to town after they got home.

” Ain’t no rush Scott. If I need it, I know where it is.”

Johnny chuckled as they started to cross the street to retrieve Harlan and head to Lancer. It will be good to have Maria’s good cooking again.

Scott went into the restaurant to get his Grandfather, and Johnny stayed by the carriage.

Suddenly, a soft voice called out to Johnny, and the smile erupted on his handsome face and he turned around.

Standing behind him, was the angel of his dreams. Helen!

She almost floated to his side and the smile was on her lips as she softly said, ” Hello Johnny. I was hoping I’d see you. I miss you.”

Suddenly, her brown eyes sparkled with those good flecks he loved and she leaned closer and whispered, the warm caress of her breath sent his senses reeling.

” And your touch. When am I gonna see you Johnny?”

Johnny’s smile became a sly wolf smile and he longed to pull her to his hard body. He swallowed hard and quietly said, “Soon Baby, real soon.”

Helen leaned up and her soft red lips caressed his and she turned to leave. As she was starting to walk away, she softly said, ” Don’t take too long Johnny Lancer, I need you so much.”

As she walked down the wooden walkway, Johnny fought to get his body, his heart and his breathing under control.

Scott, followed by his Grandfather, soon joined Johnny by the carriage. Scott saw the flushed face on his little brother and smiled gently. Scott’s eyes trailed to look where his brother was looking. Yep, sure enough, just as he thought, it was Helen.

” Hey Brother, ready to go?”

” Yea. Ready when you are Boston.”

They got into the carriage and Harlan looked around at the scenery. In his mind, the words screamed at him. ‘ Why the hell do you stay here Scotty! I can’t wait until there is no more reason to stay and you come back to Boston, where you belong!’

Almost early evening, and they were rolling under the white arch and the brothers both visibly relaxed. Harlan seemed to tense even more. He almost couldn’t wait to get on with his plans.

As Scott pulled the horse to a stop, a hand came out and took control of the horse. Soon Harlan, Johnny and Scott were out of the seats, their few pieces of luggage on the ground.

Murdoch came out and stood on the porch. He softly welcomed his sons home and then his light blue eyes fell to his ex father in law. He gently gritted his teeth, but when he talked, he was cordial.

” Hello Harlan. I’ll have Teresa show you to a room to rest before dinner. Boys, I’d like a word with you two.”

Before either of the brothers could say a word, their father turned and walked into the house. Scott and Johnny looked at each other, and knew there was gonna be loud, very loud words spoken.

As they entered the house, the brothers saw their little sister coming towards them, a soft smile on her lips. She lifted her head and kissed both her older brothers on the cheek and then turned to their visitor.

” Welcome back Mister Garrett. May I show you to a guest room?”

Harlan followed Teresa and Scott said he’d see him after he rested.

The brothers went into the Great Room, where their father was leaning back against his massive desk. Both boys could see he was holding the explosion under a tight rein.

” Well, would either of you care to explain why Harlan Garrett is under my roof again?”

Johnny walked to the bar cart in the corner, and poured three drinks. One he gave to his father, then his brother and then he leaned his butt against the side of a big chair.

” You wanna tell him Boston?”

Scott turned and sat on the couch and took a big sip of the whiskey Johnny had poured. He found himself looking down at the floor and he swallowed deeply.

The story came slowly, everything that happened, the talk with the Doctor in San Francisco that his Grandfather saw, everything.

Murdoch listened and looked between his boys. Just as he was getting ready to say something, Johnny softly added his concerns and thoughts. Scott agreed with his little brother and they saw the vein in Murdoch’s forehead begin to throb.

” So, you both think he’s up to something and you brought him here? Do you think this David character is coming here too? I’m going to send Teresa to Aggie’s for a few days I think. Just to keep her out of this.”

The brothers thought that was a good idea. Murdoch said he’d talk to Teresa after dinner and make arrangements to have one of the hands take her to Aggie’s.

” Maybe you should have Cip post some extra hands as lookouts, so that if David shows up, we won’t be surprised.”

Murdoch agreed and got up from where he was leaning, and went to the door. He was going to talk to Cip and get Lancer ready, just in case, for an altercation.

Scott looked over at his brother, and saw a slight smile on his face. Sensing where his brother’s mind was wandering to, he quietly asked his brother one simple question.

” Thinking of Helen?”

Sparkles shot into Johnny’s eyes and he softly said, ” Saw her in town today, and I wanted her so much Scott. I had all I could do not to take her into the livery and rip her clothes off.”

Scott smiled at his brother. He knew that Johnny and Helen have been intimate already. But to hear the fierceness in his voice just now, kind of shocked him.

” You need to be careful Johnny. You get her pregnant and her father will kill you!”

Johnny chuckled.

” We’re careful Boston. But when I’m near her, it’s like I can’t think of anything except being with her.”

A smile came to the older brother’s face and he said, ” I think, little Brother, that you are in love.”

He lowered his head to look at the floor. He drank the rest of his drink and then turned deep sapphire eyes to his brother.

He was very quiet for a few minutes and then very softly he said, “I think maybe you are right Boston. She’s all I can think about.”

” Never thought I’d hear my little Brother is in love. It was just a matter of time, before you opened your heart to someone.”

He laughed softly as he saw the pink blush traveling up his brother’s cheeks. Johnny lowered his eyes and a soft gentle smile came to his lips.

Dinner was a rather quiet affair. Teresa was subdued after Murdoch told her he was gonna send her to Aggie’s for a little while.

When she asked him why, Murdoch told her that there could be trouble and he wanted her safe. She then looked down as she realized he wanted to keep her safe. She wrapped her arms around his waist and he wrapped his arms around her.

After dinner, Harlan retired early and Scott picked up a book he’d been reading. Johnny was stretched out on the couch, one arm under is head. And Murdoch, as usual, was working on the books.

Without saying a word, Johnny suddenly got up off the couch and readjusted his gun belt. He headed to the door and Murdoch’s deep voice stopped him.

” Where you going John?”

” Just gonna check with the sentries. Tell them what to expect. Don’t know if this David is a bushwacker or what.”

Murdock looked at Scott and he lowered the book.

” John, what’s going on? You’re more nervous since you’ve come home. I can see you’re getting ready for a war.”

Softly, he said, ” Maybe it will be a war Murdoch.”

He pulled the door open and went out.

Once Johnny was on the porch, his nerves and senses took over. He saw every sentry and checked every dark corner of the compound.

He went into the barn and went to Barranca’s stall. The huge golden head came over the gate and a soft whinny was heard. Johnny scratched between his ears and softly talked to the golden horse.

After a few warm puffs of air from Barranca on his face, Johnny felt a bit calmer.

” Thanks Pal. Always feel better around you. I’ll see you in the morning.”

The soft whinny followed Johnny as he left the barn. He was heading to the house, when a shot rang out. It hit the ground just in front of him. He crouched and pulled his Colt. He raced to the stone wall and took shelter.

Scott and Murdoch joined him on the porch behind two pillars. Each with guns drawn.

Another shot hit the dirt. Johnny saw the flash, and it was a long way off. So he surmised they were firing from a rifle.

” It’s a rifle, up on the hill over before the arch. I think it’s at the overlook.”

” Cipriano!”

A deep voice came from the bunkhouse.

” Si Patron!”

” Send some hands up to the overlook. The shooter is up there. He’s using a rifle. Be careful!”

Soon, four dark horses were heard walking out of the courtyard. It was a moonless night, so they would be able to not be detected.

” You alright John? Any new holes I need to look at.”

” No new holes Murdoch. Whoever it was was hitting the dirt.”

The Lancers stayed behind their protections, until the four horses came back to the ranch.

Cipriano dismounted and said, ” They were gone by the time we got there Patron. Found a couple rifle shells and only one set of prints.”

” Alright, replace the sentries with fresh men Cip and we’ll see you in the morning.”

They went back into the hacienda and Johnny headed to the bar cart. He lifted the bottle of tequila and raised it to his lips.

As he was taking a deep sip, Murdoch noticed and growled.

” John! Use a glass!”

He slowly turned and slanted his eyes as he glared icily at his father. But he did pour some of the fiery liquid in a glass. Then Johnny poured two glasses of whiskey for Scott and his father.

He sat in one of the wing back chairs by his father’s desk. He took a couple sips and was very quiet. Scott got ready for the explosion that he knew was going to happen.

” Do you think it was David, Brother? Because it wouldn’t surprise me if it was.”

Deep troubled sapphire eyes slowly closed and he sighed deeply. He turned to look at Murdock.

” We better get Teresa to Aggie’s tomorrow Murdoch. Have a feeling this joker will try something again. And any one of us are targets.”

They were finishing their drinks and Teresa came out of her room.

” Sweetheart, why are you awake still?”

” Heard gun fire. I got worried and woke up in case I was needed. Glad no one is hurt. Is this what you were concerned about?”

” Yes, this guy was shooting at Johnny. Good thing it’s dark out, or he’s a lousy shot. We’ll track him tomorrow.”

Everyone was wound up, so no one went to bed. Teresa went into the kitchen to start coffee.

As soon as dawn began showing her face, Johnny got up from the couch. He went to the door, opened it and sort of trotted to the barn. Once inside he began to saddle his horse, who was excited about a morning run.

Cipriano and three other ranch hands were saddled up when Johnny led Barranca out of the barn.

They were just moving out when Murdoch came out onto the porch.

” Be careful Son. That shooter could still be lurking around.”

Johnny gave his father the one thing the old man still despised…….the Madrid look. But he did say he’d be careful. They all left the ranch, heading to the overlook.

Three hours later, they came back to Lancer. Johnny was a bit agitated, and he gave the reins to a ranch hand. He all but stormed into the house, yelling for Murdoch and Scott.

They came out of the kitchen, followed by Harlan. Johnny’s eyes slanted even more at seeing Harlan.

” What’s all this yelling about John?”

” I need to talk to you and Scott, alone.”

He made a deep point as his angry sapphire eyes swiveled towards Harlan.

Murdoch and Scott both saw the look and Scott said, “Perhaps you should wait for me in the garden Grandfather. You always liked the flowers here.”

Harlan slightly smiled and turned to go to the gardens. When he was out of listening space, Murdoch then turned to his youngest, who was very agitated.

” Okay, did you find out where he went?”

” Oh yeah, right to town. I went into the hotel and asked Agnes if anyone new had checked in. She told me only one new person, a David Marks.”

Scott got very angry and slammed both hands against the desktop.

” They are in this together! I’m going to get to the bottom of this, and now!”

He started to head to the garden and Murdoch stopped him.

” Hold up Scott. I think we need the two of them here. Johnny head back to town and have Val arrest him for attempted murder.”

Johnny smiled, that evil looking smile and said, ” No need Murdoch.”

 He whistled sharply and the door opened and in came Val and a man in handcuffs……David Marks.

Scott turned and stormed to the garden and came back with his arm wrapped around Harlan’s upper arm. He was sputtering and saying, ” Scotty, why are you holding my arm in such a tight grip. You seem angry.”

When they got to the Great Room and when Harlan spotted David Marks he said, ” I see you caught the one who was poisoning me. Good.”

Murdoch stepped closer and said in a low growl of a voice, “That’s not what Mr Marks has told the Sheriff. He told Val that it was your plan to kill all of Scott’s family, so he would have no reason to stay here. And in fact, you were also not poisoned. Had Sam look at those records from that Doctor. All the readings were wrong.”

Harlan started to sweat and tried to get out of Scott’s hard grip.

” That’s a lie! I was being poisoned!”

Scott shook his Grandfather and all but snarled, ” No, you planned this all out very carefully. Get rid of Johnny first, then Murdoch and Teresa would be easy.”

Suddenly, Harlan’s eyes got a hard look and he said, with anger in his voice, ” You don’t belong here Scotty, you should never have come here!”

Scott released Harlan’s arm and said, as he spun the old man around to face him, ” I’ve told you for years, I wasn’t ever coming back to Boston. I’ve made a life here and I have a family. A family you wanted to deny me for the rest of my life. We are done Garrett, you aren’t my family any more! I don’t want to hear from you ever again!”

As Scott began to walk out of the Great Room, he said, ” He’s all yours Val. I don’t ever want to see him again.”

Scott left the room and went up the stairs to his room.

Val put another pair of handcuffs on Harlan’s wrists and turned to Murdoch.

” Would I be able to have the use of a horse Murdoch, to get these two back to town.”

” Of course Val, have Cipriano saddle a horse for you.”

Val turned and took both of the men out to the porch and told his deputy to have the foreman saddle a horse for the other prisoner.

Just before Harlan was helped onto a horse, he turned to the hacienda and called for his Grandson.

” Scotty! You have to help me! Don’t let this uncouth Sheriff take me to jail! I didn’t do anything! Scott! Do you hear me!?”

Up in his room, Scott sat in a chair by a window, tears slowly running down his cheeks.

A soft knock on the door, and Scott quickly wiped his cheeks. He saw it was his father.

Murdoch sat on the edge of his bed and looked at Scott. Seeing how sad his son was, his voice was soft and gentle.

” Scott, I know you wanted to believe in your Grandfather. I’m sorry it ended like this. I wish I had some magic words for you, but I’m afraid I don’t. This pain I know you are feeling, it will go away Son.”

Scott leaned his head back against the chair and he sighed softly.

” I know Murdoch. I’m just feeling so stupid that I didn’t see this sooner. Johnny felt something was wrong back before we left for San Francisco. I would never have thought it would be Garrett who was behind this scheme.”

Murdoch noticed Scott referred to Harlan as Garrett and not Grandfather. He said nothing.

Softly, Scott said to his father, “This whole episode was so wrong Murdoch. I should have realized, it was just an unusual suspect. But then again, Harlan Garrett is not an unusual anything. Should have listened to Johnny. His senses are never wrong. I could have lost my family.”

” You didn’t Scott, we are here and we are safe. With a little time, it will fade in your mind and your heart. You are home, with your family.”

Scott smiled, sort of sadly to his father and said, ” I guess you are right Murdoch. Unusual suspects have a way of getting caught, don’t they?”

A smile came to Murdoch’s lips and he said, ” Yes they do Son, yes they do.”



Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or Email Robyn B. directly.


2 thoughts on “Unusual Suspects by Robyn B.

  1. Hi Robyn,
    I thought for a while that Harlan was sincere. But no up to his old tricks. Ad Johnny there to save the day! I enjoyed the story.


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