Available June 2, 2015
Jake turned away, a feeling of numbness moving through his entire body. Suddenly there were no birds singing. Suddenly the beauty around him existed no more. He didn’ t want it to exist, for then he would have to face the fact that soon this freedom, the enjoyment of these simple things, all the love he had found these past years with his work and his family, all of it was going to be taken from him. … Lloyd! His son was going to discover the awful truth now! In the blink of an eye all their lives would be changed. As usual, his wise, patient, devoted wife had been right, and oh, how it would hurt Lloyd and Evie!
“You’ve got time to light out of here, Jake,” Jess told him. “You know I’ll look after the family till you can send for them again.”
A quick gust of wind swept down from the mountains and blew Jake’s hat off. He breathed deeply of the sweet smell of pine and mountain wildflowers. “No,” he answered, running a hand through his still-thick hair. Its near-black color now showed streaks of gray at the temples. “No more running. It wouldn’t do any good this time.”
The two men just looked at each other for several long silent seconds. There was no more running this time. Jake could be facing a firing squad or a noose before it was all over. Jess could see the man fighting tears as he put out his hand. “You’ve been a good friend, Jess. I’m trusting you to keep my family safe, help them however they need it.”
Jess grasped his hand and nodded, clearing his throat to find his voice. “This ain’t your fault, Jake, when you think about it. It’s your pa’s fault. If not for him, none of the other would have happened.”
Jake released his grip and walked to Jess’s horse, feeling as though someone had set a boulder on his chest. “Trouble is, Jess, Lloyd’s going to say the same thing. This is going to change his life, and he’s going to say it’s all my fault.” He mounted up. “And he’ll be right.”
Miranda lowered the rifle. “Good afternoon, Lieutenant.” She set the gun aside. “What brings you way out here?”
Gentry looked around warily. “Your husband about?”
“No.” Jake! He was here for Jake! Why? After all these years, why had God let this happen!