Authors: Judy Christenberry
Until now she hadn’t realized how much she missed Brad since their ride home.
She worked for another hour before Abby came into the kitchen.
“Cinnamon buns!” she exclaimed. “And to think I almost stayed in bed longer.”
Just then, Kate entered, too.
“The smell of cinnamon does something
to me!” she said with an exaggerated spasm of glee.
“I’ve heard it’s the way to a man’s heart,” Abby said, playing along. She cupped her palms around her cheeks and turned to Sarah. “Is that why you fixed them for breakfast this morning?”
not!” Sarah caught on quickly. “I fixed them for the kids.”
“But did Brad eat one?” Abby asked, smiling.
Sarah jumped up to clear the table, hoping that would change the subject.
“I think Brad is particularly susceptible to cinnamon,” Abby added. “It’s a Logan trait.”
Kate laughed, too, but Sarah shushed them. “You mustn’t tease about things like that in front of Brad,” she told Abby.
“He doesn’t want anything to do with me.”
Abby’s smile disappeared. “Why do you say that?”
“He made it very clear to me that I
would be managing alone to take care of Anna and Davy.”
Kate frowned. “That doesn’t sound like my son.”
“I’m sorry, Kate, but he left me in no doubt.”
“Then, maybe, she’s right,” Kate said with a shrug.
“Okay, I won’t tease you anymore.”
“In that case, I’ll make a special dessert for you tonight,” Sarah said to lighten the mood.
“Does that mean we’re invited for dinner, too?” Kate asked.
“I’m happy to welcome you, but I guess that’s up to Abby.” The more people there were, the less likely she’d feel the strain of her and Brad not speaking to each other.
Abby welcomed them, too. “Of course, you are. It will give you some relief after having to cook for all of us. Bring the boys, too. It’s been a while since I’ve seen them.”
“And I haven’t met them yet. I still can’t believe you have two more babies at home.”
“Some babies,” Kate said through a laugh.
“Jason and Matt are already over six feet tall. Wait till you see them.”
In her mind’s eye the only six-foot-tall man Sarah saw was Brad.
It wasn’t long after lunch on Saturday when Sarah had sent Abby back up to bed for a nap and threatened the kids with naps if they woke her up. She settled them in the family room in front of the television.
She was cleaning up after lunch when someone started banging on the front door.
Startled, she hurried to the front of the house, intending to yank open the door before the banging got louder. But something made her look through the peephole.
She gasped when she recognized one of her stepfather’s friends, checking his pistol to make sure it was loaded.
Panicking, she ran back to the kitchen and immediately dialed Mike’s number. He told her to lock both doors and get the .22 that Nick kept loaded.
After she hung up the phone, she found the
.22. It felt cold and hard in her hand and she prayed she wouldn’t actually have to use it.
Then she remembered Nick’s cell number, which he’d given her in case of an emergency with Abby. She called it.
It was Brad who answered.
“One of Ellis’s friends is at the door and he has a gun!”
“Sarah, get the .22.”
“I’ve got it, Brad, but—but I’m scared.”
“We’re on our way, honey.”
She hung up the phone. When she heard banging at the back door, she moved into the hallway, so he couldn’t see her. Robbie opened the door to the television room.
“Who’s knocking?” he asked.
“Go back in the TV room and don’t come out until I come for you.” She knew her voice was harsh, but she didn’t have time to explain.
She was trembling as she hid behind the hall wall, hoping the man outside would give up and go away. But she didn’t think that was going to happen. When she heard the
glass breaking on the door, she knew he was going to force his way in.
Waiting until she heard him open the door, she stepped out, lifting the rifle to her shoulder. “Throw your gun down.”
“You don’t scare me, little girl.”
As he lifted the gun toward her, she squeezed the trigger on the rifle. Much to her surprise, she hit him in the shoulder and he fell to the kitchen floor, his gun skidding across the floor.
Covering her face with her hands, she sobbed into them, appalled at what she’d done.
Suddenly she heard footsteps pounding hard on the back porch. Brad came charging through, followed by Nick. He ran over to her and wrapped his arms around her. “Are you all right?”
“I—I think I hurt him, Brad! I didn’t know what else to do. He lifted the gun up like he was going to k-kill me.”
“You did what you were supposed to do.”
“But Mike will arrest me!” she said with a wail.
“No, he won’t, honey.”
Just then they heard the sirens of the sheriff’s car. “Here’s Mike now. He won’t arrest you, I’m sure.”
She sobbed against his shoulder, in spite of his reassurances.
Mike stepped into the kitchen. Nick was bent over trying to stop the bleeding on the man’s shoulder while Brad held Sarah.
“She shot the guy when he broke in and lifted up a pistol to kill her. She’s sure you’re going to arrest her.”
“Sarah, it’s all right. Calm down so I can ask you some questions.”
But she couldn’t seem to pull herself together, despite Brad’s help. He got her some tissues and helped her to a seat at the table.
Mike’s first question was “Where’s the gun?”
“If he raised his gun to shoot you, what happened to the gun?”
She pointed to the floor by the cabinets where the gun had ended up.
Mike picked up the gun and checked to see if it was loaded. It was. He shut the cylinder and put on the safety. “Okay, how did he get in?”
“He knocked out the glass and reached in to turn the lock.”
“Where’s Abby?” Nick asked.
“She’s—she’s taking her nap.”
“And the kids?”
Sarah finally remembered them. “Oh! I told Robbie to stay in the family room until I came for them.”
Mike held up his hand to Nick, who was about to run. “Stay seated. We don’t want them in here until we get him to Pinedale.” He nodded toward the gunman on the floor.
Mike went to the phone and called his office, asking for a car with two deputies to come.
“Can you get me an old towel that you don’t need?”
“Yes, of course.” Sarah stood and went to the laundry room where she kept some rags
for cleaning. She’d just put a towel in that pile this morning.
Bringing the towel to Mike, she stood there, as if she didn’t know what to do.
Brad came to her and told her to sit down. “I’ve put on a pot of coffee. I’ll have a cup ready for you in a minute.”
“How—how did you get here so fast?”
“We were just in the next pasture when you called.”
“I called Nick’s number, but you answered.”
“Yeah, I borrowed his phone to make a call and then forgot to give it back to him.”
“I was glad you got here so fast.”
“Yeah, but you managed on your own.”
“Are you sure Mike isn’t going to arrest me?”
“I’m sure, honey. He wouldn’t dare.”
“But I shot him!”
“Did you have a choice?”
“No,” she whispered.
“Mike,” he called to the sheriff who was talking quietly to Nick. “Would you tell Sarah that you’re not going to arrest her?”
“Sure. Sarah, you’re not under arrest. You were defending yourself. That’s justifiable.”
Relieved, she nearly slumped against Brad.
A few minutes later, the two deputies arrived. Mike helped them ease the wounded gunman into the backseat, the towel staunching the flow of blood. Mike told them to get him to the hospital in Pinedale and stay with him until they could bring him back. Then he came back in the kitchen to call the hospital in Pinedale, telling them the deputies were bringing in a patient with a gunshot wound.
Just then, a frantic looking Kate rushed into the kitchen. “What happened here?”
Sarah had gotten a mop to clean the floor. “I—I shot someone.”
“Mike?” Kate asked, knowing he’d give her the full story.
Kate reached out and wrapped Sarah in her arms. “Oh, honey, I’m so glad you’re all right.”
“I—I shot him, Kate!”
“You didn’t have a choice. Of course you did. That was the thing to do.”
Sarah again burst into tears, this time on Kate’s shoulder.
They were interrupted again when Abby woke up and came out to the kitchen. Before she could panic, Nick told her what happened. “Let’s go get the kids,” she said to her husband.
They reentered the room with Robbie wrapped around his parents’ legs.
Anna ran to Sarah, hugging her around the waist. “Are you all right, Mommy?”
“Yes, sweetheart, I’m fine. But I’m glad you stayed in the television room until now.”
Davy came over to Mike. “Did he have a gun?”
“Yes, Davy, he did.”
“Then how did Sarah get away?”
“She had a gun, too.”
Davy’s eyes grew round and he stared at Sarah.
“Did she shoot him?” Robbie asked, just as in awe as Davy.
“Yes, she did,” Mike said firmly.
Anna immediately burst in tears. “No! Don’t take her away!”
Mike came over to squat down to Anna’s level. “I’m not taking her away, Anna. She shot at the man because he was going to shoot at her. She didn’t do anything wrong.”
Anna continued to sob into Sarah’s waist.
Mike reached out to touch the child. “Anna, it’s all right. I’m not going to take Sarah away.”
“It’s all right, baby,” Sarah crooned to her. “I’m not going to leave you.”
“I love you, Sarah!” Anna said, forgetting to call her mommy.
“I love you, too.”
Brad put his arm around Sarah as her tears started to flow once more.
Nick came over to her. “You did a good job, Sarah. I’m sorry I didn’t say that at once.”
“It’s all right, Nick. I should’ve known that, too, but I was too upset to think straight.”
Mike urged everyone to sit down and relax and drink the coffee Brad had poured. “I’m
going to call the Denver police. I think charges will be added to your stepfather’s case.”
Sarah nodded. “Good. I don’t ever want him to get out of prison.”
“I think we can all drink to that,” Brad said, raising his coffee cup. The others raised their cups, too.
“Well, now that everything has settled down, I’d best get back to the office. After all, I sent two deputies to Pinedale. I’d better go protect the town.”
Mike stood up and Kate rose to kiss him goodbye.
“I’ll see you in a couple of hours, honey.”
“Where’s Grandpa going?” Robbie asked.
“He’s going back to work,” Abby assured him.
“Daddy, are you going back to work?”
“No, but I have to go unsaddle my horse. You want to come with me? I’ll let you ride him to the barn.”
“Okay!” Robbie said, jumping down from his seat.
Davy looked longingly after him.
Brad looked down at the little boy. “Davy, you can ride my horse back to the barn.”
“But I don’t know how to ride a horse, Brad,” he said sorrowfully.
“It’s all right, Davy. I’ll lead the horse. You just have to hold on. It’s easy.”
“Are you sure, Brad?” Sarah asked.
“I’m sure, Sarah. He’ll be safe.”
“All right. Thank you.”
Sarah watched Davy leave tightly holding Brad’s hand. She knew how forlornly Davy must have felt seeing Robbie go off with his father and knowing his own father wouldn’t be there for him. But his father had never been there for him.
She was grateful that Brad was reaching out for the boy.
“You don’t feel left out, do you, sweetie?” she asked Anna.
“No, I don’t want to ride a horse.”
“Good. We’ll just stay away from those old horses.”
“But I think both of you need to learn to ride,” Kate said.
“No, I don’t think so, Kate. Who knows where we’ll live after we leave here? We may be back in a city then.”
“I hope not. I hate to see kids grow up in a city.”
“We have to go where I can find a job,” Sarah reminded her.
Neither Abby nor Kate responded to that statement.
When the guys came back to the kitchen a few minutes later, they found Sarah trying to decide what to fix for dinner.
“Honey, we’re going to take you to the café for dinner tonight,” Brad said.
“Because it’s been a hard day,” Nick said.
“But I don’t think—”
“We’ll call Mom and invite them to come, too,” Nick said. “We all deserve a trip to the café tonight.”
“But will Abby feel like it?”
“Where is she?” Nick asked.
“She went back to lie down.”
“I’ll go ask her,” Nick said.
After Davy and Robbie bragged about their riding ability, they ran to the television where they could play their video game for a while.
That left Brad and Sarah in the kitchen alone.
Sarah quickly spoke. “Thank you for letting Davy ride your horse. That was very thoughtful of you.”
“He looked so sad, I couldn’t leave him out.”
“I appreciate it.”
“Have your nerves settled yet?”
“Yes, it took a while, but they’re fine now.”
Brad looked around the room. “Where did Anna go?”
“She went to our room. I think she was worn-out by her reaction.”
“Yeah, it took a while for me to settle down, too. It was a relief to find you standing when I came through the door and had to step over that man.”
“I know. I’m sorry that I called you. I don’t know what I was thinking. I—”
Brad held up a hand. “Stop apologizing, Sarah. I’m glad you called.”
“Yeah, and I’m glad you knew how to shoot a gun.” He grinned. “Though I’m a bit surprised.”
“Me, too. I’ve never even fired a gun before today. I guess I just got lucky.” But she knew the real reason for the shot. She’d had no choice but to protect the kids and herself.
“We’ll correct that right fast,” Brad said. “Starting next week I’ll give you lessons.”
“That’s not necessary, Brad. It’s not like I’ll have to use a gun ever again.”
“You never know, Sarah.”
She could feel her skin crawl. Was Brad trying to imply that someone else would come after her? That Ellis would send a steady flow of gunmen till one succeeded?
“There are bears here, you know,” he added.
She remembered him saying the same thing to her the first night she met him out on the government land. Back then she thought he was trying to make her life more difficult.
Now she knew that she couldn’t have been any luckier than meeting Brad Logan.