Table of Contents
Longarm peeked over the windowsill and watched as Casey and the four gunmen rode into the yard.
When they were within fifteen yards of the prostrate Jed Dodson, Longarm moved away from the window to the door. All five men dismounted and stared at Dodson, who looked dead.
Longarm distinctly heard Casey say, “Roll the old bastard over. I want to see if I got him in the heart.”
One of the gunmen stepped over to the body and reached down to turn Jed over onto his back. That's when the old rancher yanked his gun up and shot the gunman squarely in the face.
Longarm saw Casey and the other three men go for their guns, and he jumped out on the front porch and squeezed off both barrels of the shotgun. The thunder was so loud and the recoil so powerful that it knocked him a step back into the doorway. A huge cloud of smoke billowed outward, and then Addie opened fire, her bullets smashing through the front window of Jed's log house . . .
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THE GUNSMITH by J. R. Roberts
Clint Adams was a legend among lawmen, outlaws, and ladies. They called him . . . the Gunsmith.
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The blazing adventures of mountain man Will Barlowâfrom the creators of Longarm!
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
LONGARM AND THE WYOMING WOMAN
A Jove Book / published by arrangement with the author
Jove edition / September 2008
Copyright Â© 2008 by The Berkley Publishing Group.
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Custis Long walked swiftly past the U.S. Mint while bent into a cold November wind that was sweeping off the Front Range of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains. This bitter and blustery Monday morning he was on his way to the Federal Building, where he worked as a deputy United States marshal. As usual, Longarm was running about an hour late. He was impatient as he stopped and waited for an opportunity to sprint across Colfax Avenue, but then he heard a woman screaming for help.
Longarm twisted around in the hard, biting wind and lost his flat-crowned hat, which went sailing up into the sky. Like all of his clothing, the Stetson was expensive, and he would have gone after it had it not been for the shrill cry of distress. His blue-gray eyes swept the morning crowd of workers huddled in heavy clothing as they also looked this way and that to find the source of the trouble. Finally, and just out of the corner of his eye, Longarm saw two large men in wool coats dragging a struggling young woman off the street toward a dark alley.
Longarm was a big man, born and raised in West-by-God-Virginia. Tough and ruthless in a fight, nevertheless he possessed the deeply rooted instincts of a true gentleman of the old school. That meant, no matter what the odds, he would never turn his back on a woman in need.
Longarm wore his double-action Colt revolver on his left hip, and he also carried a hideout twin-barreled .44-caliber derringer that was attached to his watch chain. The derringer wasn't an accurate weapon, but it was deadly at close range. Now, however, he chose the revolver and with gun in hand, he went charging after the two muggers and the girl who had disappeared between a pair of brick buildings.
Longarm was tall and he had the foot speed of a natural athlete, so it only took him a few moments to reach the alley's entrance. He stared down the narrow and dimly lit corridor littered with rubbish, empty whiskey bottles, and dented trash barrels. About fifty yards down the alley where it opened up, he saw that the two brazen muggers had the woman down and were intent on either raping or robbing her on the spot. Maybe they wanted to do both despite the cold wind and weather. The victim's screams were weaker now, and Longarm suspected that the woman had already been knocked half-senseless.
“Freeze, you sonofabitches!” Longarm shouted as he raced forward with his gun in hand.
The muggers glanced up suddenly, and one of them fumbled for a gun on his hip. Longarm skidded to a halt, took a split second to aim, and shot the man through his forehead. He went over backward, heels kicking at the hard dirt and loose garbage.
The second mugger was much wiser. Abandoning his victim, he grabbed her purse and ran for his life.
“Stop him!” the woman cried, pushing herself up on one elbow. “He's stealing all my money!”
Longarm hurried up to the young woman, who was trying to climb to her feet but was obviously dazed and in shock. She was very lovely, probably in her mid-twenties, and she wore fashionable clothes that were now ripped and soiled. Her dress and petticoat had been pushed up to her hips, confirming his suspicion that the two would have raped her in the next few minutes. Her legs were long and very white, but he saw that both of her knees were scraped and bleeding. When Longarm reached her, she was struggling to pull her dress and undergarments down to her ankles at the same time that she was frantically attempting to get away from the dead man and his blood, which was forming a dark pool beside her.
“You shot him to death!” It wasn't an accusation, but there was a hint of disbelief in her voice that told Longarm she was unaccustomed to witnessing such sudden and violent death.
“Yes, I shot him before he could shoot me and good riddance.” Longarm knelt beside her and helped her cover her bare legs. “Miss, I'm a federal law officer. How bad are you hurt?”
She used her tongue to taste her own bloody lips. In a voice that trembled, she said, “I'll be all right. Please get my purse back!”
Longarm glanced up the alley. The second mugger was escaping. “I'm more concerned about you right now.”
“You don't understand! I had just over two thousand dollars in that purse and it's all the money I have in this world.”
It was a ridiculous amount of cash for anyone to carry on the street. “Two
“Yes!” She began to cry. “Those two must have seen me leave the bank and . . . he's getting away! If I lose that money, my father will be ruined!”
“I'll try to catch and arrest him,” Longarm said, helping the woman to her feet. “Can you manage to walk back to Colfax? It isn't safe to leave you here alone.”
“I can! Now go after him! Please!”
Because the woman sounded so desperate and the amount of her loss was so large, Longarm took off after the second mugger. He had no doubt that he could outrun the man despite his big head start. Longarm was concerned that, if the mugger ducked back onto Colfax or one of the other streets, he would quickly mingle with the morning crowd on its way to work in downtown Denver. Once that happened, the odds were that he would make good his escape and be two thousand dollars richer.
The mugger, probably thinking that there was not going to be a pursuit, paused to catch his breath about a hundred yards ahead at the exit from the alley. He was bent over gasping for air, and Longarm could tell that he was badly winded and in poor physical condition despite his size. Longarm didn't say a word as he ran forward as silently as possible in the hope that the mugger wouldn't look back until it was too late to escape.
But the mugger
look back, and when he saw the broad-shouldered federal officer coming at him with a gun in his fist, the man whirled and disappeared. Longarm rounded the corner exiting the alley back on to Colfax just in time to see the mugger knock over a couple of pedestrians and then vanish into the morning crowd.