In a Cowboy’s Arms

In a Cowboy’s Arms by Janette Kenny Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: In a Cowboy’s Arms by Janette Kenny Read Free Book Online
Authors: Janette Kenny
The calico cat hunched atop the crates gave him a quick look before resuming her vigilant stare at the doorway leading into the saloon.
    “Stop your damned whimpering, boy,” came a gruff voice tinged with disgust.
    “I c-c-can’t as long as you’re p-p-pointing that shotgun at m-m-me,” a young man said, his tone unnaturally high and strained.
    The responding curse was low and guttural, summing up the first man’s regard for the younger one. “Already told you I ain’t gonna shoot you dead unless you decide to hightail it, though I’d prefer that to having you kinned up with me.”
    Dade slid his Colt back in the holster, finally recognizing the gruff voice as well as the situation at hand. MacGarren had a small ranch ten miles or so outside of town and kept a handful of cowboys on full time.
    Word around Placid was that MacGarren was overpro-tective of his two daughters, both shameless flirts who were likely itching to find a young man. One of them had run off with a soldier from Fort Carson last year.
    From the sounds of it, the other one had found herself a cowpoke to warm her bed. Now there’d be a shotgun wedding, which was a damn site better than a funeral.
    Dade eased into the saloon, snaring the bartender’s and MacGarren’s attention. “Shooting your firearm off in town carries a fine.”
    The rancher worked his mouth into a knot. “It was worth it to run this no-account to ground.”
    “I thought you was aiming to kill me,” the younger man said, keeping a white-knuckle grip on the back of the chair he was straddling.
    He didn’t appear to be much older than eighteen if he was a day.
    Thank God the cowboy hadn’t taken a shot at MacGarren or he likely never would have lived to see nineteen.
    MacGarren had been an army scout and had true aim. If he’d wanted this boy dead, he’d have gotten the job done with one shot.
    “Now that you got him cornered, I suggest you put your shotgun back in its saddle scabbard,” Dade said.
    The older man snorted. “I’ll do that once he’s behind bars.”
    “The boy broken some law?” Dade asked.
    “He stole a horse.”
    Now that was a damn serious crime and one that could get him strung up in most places. “You want him tried for rustling?”
    “Nope, just keep him under lock and key until I can fetch the preacher,” the older man said.
    Dade looked at the boy and saw he was eager to flee. No doubt he’d do just that after the vows were exchanged. But at least the girl would be married and the child would have a name.
    “Let’s go then.” Dade motioned for the cowboy to get a move on.
    He was on his feet and out the door, but had the good sense not to run. Dade reckoned part of the reason was that MacGarren was right on his tail.
    The trio proceeded across the street under the curious stares of those who’d ventured out of their shops as well as those watching from behind the relative protection of closed doors.
    The banker was still on the boardwalk but Carson was nowhere to be seen. Panic knifed through Dade. Where the hell had the bounty hunter gone?
    He hoped to hell he hadn’t decided to visit the boarding-house. If he caught Margaret there, he’d haul her out of Placid before Dade could stop him.
    Dade hustled the boy into the jail with MacGarren trailing him. Damn these people for causing a ruckus at the same time the bounty hunter was searching for Margaret.
    “If all goes as planned,” MacGarren said as Dade closed the cell door with a resounding click, “we’ll hold the wedding tomorrow.”
    The cowboy stared at MacGarren with more courage than he’d shown so far. But then he was where the older man couldn’t get his hands on him.
    “Is Charlene all right?” the cowboy asked.
    MacGarren swore. “She’d be better off if I’d never hired you on, but what’s done is done. I’ll be back tomorrow.”
    “Tell her I asked about her,” the cowboy said, earning a curse in reply.
    “You going through with it?” Dade asked.

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