Treacherous outlaws and the U.S. Cavalry are after the seriously wounded Tom Wainwright and the stolen Army payroll in his possession. Completely spent, he collapses at the feet of young Evie Nelson. She must quickly decide who is friend and who is foe when her brother returns after an extended absence and brings some dangerous strangers with him. Evie soon learns that more than her life hangs in the balance in this exciting western adventure also featuring a crooked Indian agent whose greed drives a group of desperate Indians to the brink of starvation or war. Will western justice prevail?
Narrated by Todd Eflin
Read and Hear from the audiobook in this Free Preview of Chapter 1
Tom Wainwright looked in all directions, watching for signs of the danger that pursued him. He knew they would try to hit him when and where he least expected it.
It was getting harder to keep his eyes focused and his head up. A dust-filled wind bit into his skin and stung his eyes, limiting his vision. The bandana he wore over his nose and mouth was a mixed blessing. It reduced the amount of dust he inhaled but constricted his breathing at a time when he needed unrestricted air flow. As it was, he was panting and still not getting enough oxygen.
The heat had been unbearable for most of the day. The wind pounded it into him like a dragon’s flame. Wainwright leaned into it as he rode his sorrel. He badly needed a drink from his canteen but dared not remove his hand from the blood-soaked handkerchief that covered the .45-calibre hole in his right side. He’d been shot when he grabbed the $50,000 army payroll money and high-tailed it away. Now those he robbed wouldn’t stop chasing him until he was dead.
He thought, Taking the money at night gave me a head start, because they couldn’t track me in the dark. But I’m shot and they’re not. It’s only a matter of time before they catch me, take back the money, and finish the job of killing me—if I’m not already dead by then. With the amount of blood I’ve lost, I’m surprised I’m still alive. The wind might slow ’em down a bit, may even make my tracks a bit harder to follow. But I haven’t had the time or energy to properly cover them. Wainwright did his best to shake his pursuers. He rode in rivers for extended periods, sometimes going upstream and sometimes down. He only emerged in areas where his horse’s tracks would not be easy to spot. That would shake some folks off his trail, but not experienced trackers for long.
Wainwright’s mount was lathered. Its chest heaved. He’d pushed the horse and himself as hard as he dared all day. If I lose Buck, it’s all over for me too. The wounded man looked at the sun blurred by the dust-filled sky as it sank toward the horizon. He spoke to the struggling beast, hoping to encourage it and himself, “If we can just make until it’s too dark for them to trail us, we might be able to stop and rest for a while.”
A man in his thirty-fourth year, Wainwright felt ancient.
In the diminishing light, he thought he saw a young woman with long, honey-colored hair. Her dress billowed in the wind as she stood in the open doorway of a small cabin. Escaping through the doorway, the light of a lantern bathed her, making her hair and face glow as though she wore a halo. An angel. I must be hallucinating. Or am I already dead?