story was inspired by a song: MAMA SAID.
It was written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich (1996) and can be found
in the album, Load, recorded by Metalica.
It is a beautiful Western song…
THIS HEART BE STILL
Holdup, Phase Two
4, 1:03 PM; Laramie
boots once again thundered along the boardwalks as he patrolled Laramie’s
streets, his head swiveling about like some lighthouse beacon as he searched for
anything or anyone out of the ordinary.
been “patrolling and worrying” for the rest of that morning – after he all
but scared everyone under their beds! – now it was already well past noon.
He hadn’t stopped for lunch, didn’t think he could have forced
anything down with his stomach so soured and clenched into knots.
And he was angry, at himself mostly.
knew he should be investigating what caused that fire, but he just couldn’t
stop thinking about what might happen to those he loved.
And he’d need a cool head and a steady eye to go poking around that
obvious arson, two important factors that he just couldn’t muster right then.
He wasn’t Mort, patient and thorough, a man who could just wait for
something to happen before he took action.
Jess needed to make sure Slim and Daisy and Mike were all right…
And he couldn’t do that either.
talky drummer had breezed into town on a Saturday night six months ago and
gathered a horde of men around at the Palace saloon; he got his drinks paid for
while he told witty tales and stories.
For some reason, one of those stories had stuck in Jess’ mind, but this
wasn’t a case of “The Lady or the Tiger.” To
Jess it was “The Tiger or the Tiger” because, either way he jumped, he’d
heard a commotion back up the north end of the street, the jangle of harness,
clatter of wheels and someone yelling at the top of their lungs.
He whirled, saw a stagecoach…
part of one, there were only two very tired, lathered-white horses trying to
haul that bulky thing down the street and a frantic, screaming driver trying to
get them to move faster!
jumped from the walk into the dirt and ran to join all the other curious people
coming out from everywhere, in fact had to push his way through some of them as
soon as the coach had come to a stop. He squeezed past the steaming team
standing spay-legged with heads down and blowing like twin bellows, shouldered
between two women with a, “Pardon, ladies,” and finally reached the driver
who was having questions thrown at him from every direction while the man was
trying to get the crowd to move back so he could dismount.
driver, a man Jess had never seen before, finally managed climb down and
immediately leaned back against the front wheel.
Jess urged people back from the man bent over his knees, trying to catch
grabbed the driver’s sweat-soaked sleeve.
driver gulped in a couple more breaths. “Special . . . shipment…
There was a . . . holdup at the . . . relay station.”
voices rose all around him, but Jess ignored then, bent closer to the man and
fired off, “When?
Was there anyone at the station hurt?”
last question got a nod from the driver. “Inside . . . shot,” he said before
he bent over his shaking knees again.
swallowed, looked around those pressing close and said, “Someone get the
doctor!” as he moved toward the door and yanked it open.
caught the reek of rusty-iron and copper overlaying the smell of dust even
before he opened the door, but the sight that met him inside still caught him
off guard and turned him cold through and through…
lay on his right side, curled into a tight ball upon the bloody floor of the
was so covered in muddy red, Jess couldn’t decide if he’d been shot in the
body or head or someone had just sliced him up to let him bleed to death.
Jess tried and heard only a squeak come from his tight throat.
He grabbed a breath and yelled, “Someone fetch the Doctor . . . NOW!”
and whipped off his right glove, tentatively reached out to make sure he didn’t
have to call the undertaker instead.
he even touched Slim’s prostrate body, a gentle hand grabbed his shoulder. “Allow
whirled with his fist cocked, then blinked at the short, bearded man in a dark
suit carrying a black bag.
He frowned, then muttered, “Sorry, Doc,” and moved aside to let the
doctor stand in the doorway.
whole population seemed to have come out for this Jess thought as he glanced
around at all the concerned and curious faces.
And the whole population was leaning in expectantly with held breath as
the doctor checked for a pulse.
Friedman straightened, announced, “He is alive,” (communally held breath was
expelled), “but in a condition most critical.
Someone could please find a door or something equally flat he can be
carried upon? And
hurry, if you please.”
a moment, only the women, the too young or too old, remained scattered around
the stage, most of the “able bodied men” had rushed away to search for “something
moved closer. “Doctor
Friedman?” he asked.
the neat beard, the doctor still looked too young to have graduated from any
He turned and compressed his lips, shook his head, “As soon as I have
him in my surgical room I shall know more . . . Deputy,” he augmented, seeing
the badge for the first time.
“There is upon the floor of this conveyance quite a lot of blood, and
much too much . . . filth,” he frowned.
“Please, allow me to examine him thoroughly…”
was he shot?” Jess interrupted.
Friedman’s black eyebrows rose.
“I would surmise somewhere within the area of the stomach.
I presume this attempt to staunch his bleeding was Misses Cooper’s
Jess asked hopefully.
“A pity the bandages could not hold with the undisciplined journey.”
He sighed, shook his head.
“I cannot determine until he is on my table how serious his injury,
must have patience until then.”
all right,” was rather a terse response, but Jess couldn’t hold back the
frustration or irritation that rose like demons to slaughter “patience.” He
grabbed a breath, let it out and swallowed the vile taste in his mouth, turned
when he heard many shuffling feet.
“They’ve found something flat,” he said in a voice that sounded
miserable to his own ears and moved aside to let the six men carrying the heavy
wooden door – it looked as though they’d ripped it off its hinges – to the
he couldn’t help with so many others easing Slim out, Jess heaved another
breath (with the tang of blood in it as he’d gnawed through his lip) and
started ushering the rest of the curious away so Slim, his “carriers” and
the doctor could get through.
slack face, even smeared with dirt and blood, looked awfully pale as he was born
away, Doc Friedman pressing on the red-soaked bandages and urging the men to
clenched and unclenched his hands, watching the men carrying Slim a moment and
knowing he couldn’t do anything to help.
Therefore he turned to the driver again.
the man had gotten his wind back with the help of some water someone had handed
the hostler and blacksmith were finally unhitching the totally exhausted horses
and leading the staggering, coughing team away, Jess asked, “Who are you and
man, somewhere in his early forties Jess suspected, still leaned against the
front wheel. He
took off his salt-stained hat and ran a gloved hand through his thinning hair,
answered, “Fletcher McAdams, Deputy; friends call me Fletch.
I work for the Overland Stage, usually make the Casper to Rawlins three
day run . . . ‘til Marv Washburn took sick.
He usually takes these . . . specials.”
know Marv. What
happened?” he asked, forcing himself to stay calm.
shook his head and set his hat on his head again with a disgusted tug.
“We’d just pulled into the relay station, didn’t see anything wrong
except there wasn’t anyone around but this young kid…”
stiffened and jumped in, “He have a sling on his left arm?”
frowned, shook his head.
“Naw, he was harnessin’ one of the relays.
Light yellow hair, kind of skinny kid, maybe sixteen . . . seventeen.”
the driver scratched his jaw.
“I was up front, unhitchin’ m’ team, not payin’ too much
attention to what Marshal Swanson was saying to the . . . to Gabe Ferguson, when
all of a sudden Johnny Dority, the shotgun guard, came crashin’ off the box
and hit the left wheeler’s rump before fallin’ to the ground! Liked to have
spooked the whole team right out of my hand, that and what happened next.
I’d swear there was gunfire comin’ from ever’ direction just
like that!” he snapped his gloved fingers, “so I just ducked and found what
cover I could until it was over.
There was bodies layin’ ever’where,” he shuddered.
“Then this wiry fella yanks me to my feet and shoves a pistol in my
face while the rest of ‘em took off the payroll.
There was close to sixty-seven-thousand in that strongbox an’ seven
good men guardin’ it!”
you see Slim…
Did you see the man in the coach get shot?” Jess asked.
shook his head. “Nah-sir.
I heard that, though.
That man,” the driver pointed in the direction Slim had been taken,
“was shot inside the house.
Sounded kind of like a misfire or a firecracker that went off…”
began to tremble, starting from his insides until his hands were shaking.
It was all he could do to keep the tremor from his voice . . . and he
wasn’t entirely successful.
“Just one shot . . . or more?”
the one,” Fletch answered and dipped his head in the direction of the Palace
maybe we could finish this out of the street, Deputy?
Maybe let me get something more than just water down my throat?
I’m getting’ mighty parched talking about all this.”
a minute,” Jess answered, the shakes still with him – though a shot, or
three, of Jack Daniels or Jim Beam sounded good to him right then, too.
“Did you see the other . . . people in the house?
A boy around nine and an older lady?”
I didn’t. A
little before I heard that shot come from the house, I was told to unhitch all
but the wheelers from the stage and help saddle some horses.
Bein’ I had that gun in my back most of the time, I did as I was told.
Then three men brought that wounded man out and laid him real careful
had bandaged him some, but I guess it didn’t hold,” Fletch said and shook
his head. “A
man who was puttin’ on some janglin’ spurs – I’d guess he was the leader
– told me to get to town just as fast as I could, like he was real worried
about that man, so I pretty near killed those horses gettin’ here.
Still took me almost twice as long to make this run, what with only two
pullin’ this heavy thing,” he ended and slammed a fist against the wheel.
nodded, knowing it wasn’t this man’s fault, any of it, only wishing he’d
said you thought the leader was a man with spurs?”
you identify any of these men you saw, Fletch?”
clamped his lips together and dipped his head.
“You bet I can, Deputy!”
managed a tight-lipped smile and clapped the driver on the arm.
“You go get your drink, Fletch.
Tell Sam, the bartender, the first one’s on me.
I’ll meet you there with some circulars you can look at.” He
turned and strode away.
Deputy,” Fletch called to his back, but Jess hardly heard.
he had something to do, some purpose other than just worrying over Mike and
Daisy . . . and Slim.
if he let that anxiousness get too big inside of him, it’d likely burst his
– 6 PM; somewhere west of the Sherman Ranch
had ridden astride before, in fact, last year she had raced to fetch
soon-to-be-retired old Doc Grisholm from Mrs. Pauly’s house (Marie Pauly had
been having a baby) to the ranch when a fever had struck all her boys down and
she needed some help.
Turned out it wasn’t anything major or too serious – though the old
doctor suggested Daisy wash all the linens and advise the Overland drivers to
take care of the teams themselves for the next couple of runs so none of the
passenger could spread it around.
None of her charges were happy with the meager “two day quarantine,”
but they were altogether shocked when Doctor Grisholm described Daisy “flying
like the wind” to their rescue. Daisy
was proud of herself . . . until the aches and pains took over.
she was forced to ride astride again, not on so wild a ride, but even more
desperate and serious.
Mike and she were being kidnapped and were being held for ransom.
it wasn’t only that which worried her, or the fact that Mike kept sending her
woebegone glances back over his shoulder.
It was Slim.
bullet had entered near the second or third lower “short-ribs” on his left
side and must have been deflected back out on the other side of his stomach by
one of those bones.
But she wasn’t given much time to see how badly he was hurt – she
prayed the bullet’s path was shallow and neither his stomach nor his
intestines had been punctured – nor was she given time to attend to him
properly before Darrell and his men had trundled poor Slim into the coach and
sent the driver away at a furious pace…
Or as much a pace as two already weary horses could pull a Concord all by
had managed to lessen the hemorrhaging as best she could, but she didn’t know
how well her hasty bandaging would hold . . . or if poor Slim would bleed to
death internally before he ever could be delivered into Doctor Friedman’s
Stages weren’t known for being the most comfortable conveyance for
traveling even for the hale and hardy…
ruddy-faced man who had grabbed her in the house was leading her horse.
Now he glanced back as she made an involuntary strangled sound and
frowned almost apologetically at her.
But he turned away before he could show any more compassion and scratched
his right side, pulling her horse’s head to the left as he held her horse’s
reins in his right hand.
He was called “Rash,” for obvious reasons.
He seemed to have some kind of skin disorder, not serious, but
This man wasn’t a “bad sort,” for an outlaw, she could see it in
his eyes and in the way he treated her and Mike with respect, even kindness.
then, someone else leading this “gang of thieves” had also been respectful
and “kind” . . . in the beginning when is suited him.
Then he’d quickly shown his true colors.
glanced around again, flashed a small smile as if to say he was all right.
Daisy smiled in return, even though she’d seen that tiny bit of
“pain” within his sun-narrowed eyes.
It would be a very bad thing if all this moving around, rough handling
and all, cracked his mending bone anew. She
had been given leave to bring Mike’s medicine along as well as a few hastily
packed bits of clothing for both of them, but nothing like those extra, sturdy
and flat “splints” Dr. Friedman had provided her with. Heaven forbid she’d
have to reset his poor arm with tree branches or something equally crude.
forbid she’d have to reset his arm at all.
horse was being led by that very tall, lanky fellow who’d enjoyed her apple
pie so much…
tall man who’d killed at least one of those men that littered the yard . . .
and no one had even thought to move.
She mourned them all in her own way, especially dear, young Gabe.
She only hoped the next stage would arrive soon enough to do something
about the bodies . . . before the chickens got to them.
that thought made her shudder…
shaking must have telegraphed something to her horse because Rash turned his
head again and mouthed, “It’ll be all right,” before he dipped his head in
a reassuring nod.
dipped her head and smiled in return – though, in her heart, she wanted to
spit at him and all the rest.
But that would only make things worse…
As if they could get much worse.
turned her thoughts somewhere else.
had lived at the Sherman Ranch for quite some time and had been to several
places on or near the ranch; she knew the road to and from Laramie quite well.
This area they were being taken through, however, held no familiar
was completely new to her…
she suddenly felt like slapping herself.
She should have been more observant!
She should have been looking about, familiarizing herself with the land,
the shape of rocks and trees and . . . everything else.
Just in case.
herself, turned a bit in the saddle – as much as she could without exposing
more or her “appendages” – and glanced back upon the trail...
scowling face of the buck-toothed Bob met her look (as if he would blame her for
his “exile” to the back with the packhorses) and she quickly turned her head
so much for that little exercise, she concluded . . . and felt sudden defeat.
But, no; she couldn’t allow that, couldn’t let Mike see a bleak look
in her eyes. Instead,
she sat straight and firm and, when Mike turned to look back again, she sent him
another encouraging smile.
dear child. To
have come into their care after such a traumatic experience only to be thrown
into another when all seemed so “right” with his world again.
What would all this do to his young, vulnerable mind . . . not to mention
his growing body?
traveled to who-knew-where for what seemed like hours and hours, though the sun
indicated it wasn’t but maybe two hours past noon, and paused for some hastily
consumed heavily smoked jerky, rock-hard biscuits and water as they rested the
– or Clay as everyone was calling him – positioned himself near Daisy and
Mike . . . like a hawk circling potential prey was what Daisy first thought
until Bob and a big man she heard someone call “Todd” wandered too close.
Darrell/Clay was suddenly on his feet, hand hovering over his pistol and
Todd and Bob moved away, giving the captives sneering smiles.
there was something left of that “Darrell” Jess had told them about, some
spark of goodness still present within the outlaw.
only she could find where it lay buried and exploit it…
Jess could stand it no longer, he marched purposefully to Doctor Friedman’s
house and knocked on the door.
He waited, then knocked longer and harder and, just when he thought
he’d just walk right in without being asked, the door was thrust open.
impatient frown of Mrs. Friedman met him, but it was her once white full-apron
now smeared with bloody handprints, splashes and spatters that caused Jess to
step back, his mouth and throat going bone dry.
He swept off his hat as an afterthought.
Harper,” Mrs. Friedman nodded, not exactly cordial, but civil enough under the
“There was no need to batter the door from its hinges.
I was in any event preparing to call Claude so he might bring you
“Is Slim all right?” he asked and heard his voice break.
Friedman flashed a brief smile.
“My Doctor-husband judges his chances of survival are very good, yet
the doctor can do just so much.
Mister Sherman must, himself, be strong of will to fight for his own
life, Deputy Harper.”
hissed a sigh and relaxed a bit.
“Slim is a fighter, Ma’am; he’ll pull through all right,” he
answered, but had to duck his head as his eyes started to water all of a sudden.
truth, Deputy Harper, the most pressing motive to send our hired man for you was
Friedman reached into the pocket of her bloody apron and, with thumb and
forefinger, withdrew a crumpled and folded piece of paper that looked like it
had been dipped in blood as well.
She held it by one small clean corner as if it were some bug.
let it fall into an upturned palm, frowned at it, then at the tiny black-haired
woman before him.
Sherman had it clutched in his hand; he held to it so tightly, we had to pry it
from his fingers before we could continue cleansing him for surgery…”
Jess barked, all his worries returning in a rush.
Friedman parked her small fists on her hips and gave him a disgusted look.
“That is the usual procedure after being shot in the stomach, Deputy
if you have finished with your silly questions, may I please return to aid my
husband-doctor in his endeavor to save the life of Mister Sherman?”
started backing off the porch, hat in one hand, bloody paper in another.
He dipped his head again, “Sorry, Ma’am, I...”
closed the door on him.
almost missed the first step, grabbed the railing before he fell backwards off
the porch, questions he should have asked rattling around in his head:
where’d Slim been hit; how bad; how much blood had he lost?
But it was quite evident from the gruesome floor of that coach that
“enough” blood had been lost; Jess just hoped it was “less than enough”
to kill his friend and partner.
a final look at the house (and a muttered prayer), Jess set his hat back on,
turned and, as he walked away, began to carefully peel the tacky blood-stuck
stopped right in his tracks.
was a sheet of Mike’s lined “school” paper, and probably Mike’s pencil
had been used, too.
But it wasn’t Mike’s neat printing that covered the page . . . and
that first heavily penciled line hit him like a sledgehammer to the gut:
exactly as this says or Miss Daisy Cooper and Mike Williams will never be seen
The Second Holdup
4th, 1874; 5 PM, Laramie, Wyoming
said everyone else has cooperated, Mister Piper, so now I’m just gonna have to
insist that you do the same,” Deputy Harper growled and slowly drew the
revolver from his holster, the barrel pointed down.
Bank’s manager, Chester Piper, glared at the man who was supposed to be the
acting law, then glanced at his own shotgun he’d fetched from home while he
was working late.
Harper had it now, held nonchalantly in his left hand.
Chester swallowed, squared his shoulders and gave his head a defiant
toss, his greased black hair shedding red-gold highlights in the sun’s
lingering light that came through bank’s windows.
“I also have a duty to the people of Laramie, Deputy, and it doesn’t
include allowing you, or anyone else, to steal that money I’ve sworn to
click-clack-click of the .45’s hammer being drawn back was very loud inside
that empty, quiet bank.
I told you to open that vault and take out every cent in there, Mister Piper.
swallowed again, his resolve shaken and his thin lips beginning to quiver as he
looked down that black tunnel of the gun-barrel.
How he wished he’d just gone home after all that excitement that
afternoon, but he had a duty to perform.
He had to make a written report concerning the shipment he would have
been responsible for, the preparations he’d made to assure it would be secure
through the night even though the money had never arrived.
He had ignored everything else that was going on . . . until this
so-called Deputy Sheriff knocked on the bank’s locked door.
Naturally Chester had to let him in.
how he regretted that.
This is robbery,” he sputtered at last.
like I said,” Jess Harper answered in a very seriously quiet voice, “I
haven’t got much choice right now, Mister Piper.
Not if I’m to save two people I care a whole hell of a lot about, I
you either get that vault open yourself and drag out everything in there, or
I’ll cold-cock you and tie you up with a gag in your mouth.
I’ll leave you a headache that I guarantee will last all the rest of
this night and into the next day, then I’ll just go drag Mister Shumway from
his supper at gunpoint and get him to open it.
Either way, Mister Piper, I get that money.”
considered that option and immediately didn’t like it.
“I’ll see you behind bars for this, Harper,” he spat out, but
turned, stomped to the vault door and began turning the tumbler.
“And I’ll guarantee you something: everyone in this town will
be right there in that court house with me to make sure you spend the rest of
your short life behind those bars until the hangman slips the noose around your
the look on Jess Harper’s face (had Mr. Chester Piper been watching) confirmed
the banker was probably right about that…
Jess didn’t care at the moment; he had “other important things” to think
about besides himself.
Where he couldn’t save all of his original family, he just might have a
chance to save at least two of his adopted family and he would do whatever
it took to get that done, no matter the consequences afterwards.
also didn’t care how many people he forced to give him their money, either,
though the banker was the first one to really put up such a strong protest.
Most everyone else understood what Jess was doing after he showed them
that first line of the bloody note – the rest being instructions; he kept that
hidden – especially after the evening stage, running over an hour late, came
through with more gruesome evidence, the eight bodies stacked like cordwood,
lashed to the top of the coach and covered by a tarp.
The people might have been reluctant to let go of their hard-earned cash,
count it out so Jess could write down the tally for each person, but they
didn’t begrudge him taking it for “this just cause.”
Even the Mayor finally nodded and opened his register.
And though Jess had “touched” the butt of his gun often to get his
point across, he’d never actually had to draw it until the banker gave him so
Quan at the laundry nodded, smiled and scooped out his register, eager to
Chinaman even brought out Jess’ “ordinary clothes” he’d almost forgotten
about, but was glad to get back into; he sure wasn’t anxious to meet up with
Darrell again in his Sunday-go-to-meetin’ outfit.
He had looked like he was going to a funeral.
vault was yanked open and Mr. Piper stepped away, as stern-faced and indignant
as ever, though he did look a little pale.
“There!” he thrust out a hand.
“Take it, you thief!
Take it all so you and that Texas outlaw friend of yours can be rich and
famous . . . and hang together!”
eyes narrowed with threat, but he grabbed a calming breath, lowered the
pistol’s hammer, shook his head and thrust the Colt back where it belonged.
“I’m sorry you think that, but I have to do this to save Daisy and
right now that’s all that matters to me. If
I can get them back alive and unhurt, and I can’t get your money back
as well, you just go right ahead and put a price on my head because…
Well, I’ll probably be dead then anyway.
Now, would you do both of us a favor and help me load that cart outside?
I need a tally…”
frowned and blinked at him, gulped like he’d taken a very large and bitter
pill, but nodded.
But, if you can’t get . . . Misses Cooper and the boy back alive…”
you think like that,” Jess warned, getting angry again.
the banker amended, “if you can, then, return . . . what you can.”
heaved a breath and nodded, then followed Mr. Piper into the vault.
had been afternoon when he’d begun his “gathering of Laramie’s wealth”
and night was quickly approaching when he brought out the last of the money (and
the shotgun, he didn’t want Piper to change his mind) to the one-horse cart
he’d “borrowed.” It
was pretty near full and the small cart canted backwards now, the shafts almost
lifting the little horse that usually pulled this “milk wagon” around town
right off his feet with the weight.
Jess guessed he’d gotten just shy of ten-thousand, most of it in
coinage, from all the businesses, and what the bank had in its vault brought it
over fifty-thousand all told.
part of the “heavy” load was the “thoughtful addition” of the Palace’s
His meager profits were offset by a case of his best Jim Beam whisky
nestled in with all that paper, silver and gold.
he whispered to the piebald pony, “they won’t be worth a damn in any fight
soon as they find this; they’ll be so drunk they can’t see their own
grinned, patted the pony’s neck and led him away toward the stable.
blacksmith had prepared a couple of “special” mules for him and he wanted to
get them packed before the daylight faded completely from the sky…
young man everyone called “Sandy Banks” (whose real Scandinavian name he was
happy to get shut of) lay on his belly at the peak of the roof, watching
everything through a loose board in the false-fronted two-story building across
and down the street from the bank. The roof was still hot from the sun that had
just dipped down behind the hills in back of him, but he didn’t mind the
discomfort or the sweat that darkened his clothes and dripped from under his hat
and into his eyes, not when he was seeing all that money pile up on that little
far as Sandy could tell, that Deputy was doing everything just the way Clay
it seemed he’d pretty much cleaned out most of the town, Sandy scooted
backwards, careful not to make too much noise, until he reached the rear of the
was a nice, convenient tree with a sturdy limb just a couple of feet from the
gutter at the low side of the roof and, after he made sure no one was in the
alley behind the building, he backed down the slant, then turned, got to one
knee and thrust with his other foot . . . and caught that limb just right.
He swung his legs up and the rest was as easy as pie.
When he dropped to the ground, he crouched, looked and listened, then
swiped a sleeve over his brow and stood up.
There was a well nearby and, again making sure no one was around, he went
to it, drank from the bucket and doused himself with the rest.
this was so easy,” he muttered and chuckled to himself before he went to get
his horse he’d hobbled in some good grass and water within a grove of old
trees on the other side of the ridge.
“And they thought I was just some dumb kid,” he said as he climbed
through the brush of the hill.
“’Ceptin’ Clay, that is.”
stomach protested its emptiness as Sandy picked at the splinter he’d gotten in
his left hand climbing those telegraph poles.
He hadn’t brought anything to eat except some jerky and that was almost
didn’t care; he’d get his share of good times as soon as he got back to camp
and he sure wasn’t gonna starve to death before then!
smell of kerosene and smoke was still on his clothes, too.
He could even smell it in his golden hair he’d tied back to hang
between his shoulder blades, but that would only confirm his part in Clay’s
wore it like a badge, the blaze of animal fire, just as intense as the real one
he’d started yesterday afternoon, within in his light blue eyes.
To Chapter 6
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