Larriane Wills a.k.a. Larion Wills

Author of contemporary and historical romance, sci-fi, and fantasy.

Kyle only meant to repay an old debt, finding a mystery and near death instead of Jenny.


“Go away. Just go away before he kills you, too.”

She twisted her arms to free them from his grasp. Kyle tightened his hold. “What do you mean, ‘too’?”

“Who are you? Why are you doing this?”

“Lady, I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. Would you make some sense?”

“I can’t. I can’t,” she cried and laughed again. “I’m crazy.” She twisted her arms again to free herself, and when he didn’t let go, she kicked.

Her foot in his chest didn’t hurt, but it did surprise him. His grip slackened enough for her to jerk away, and Kyle let her go. The way she acted, she might be as crazy she claimed. She slapped the reins on the horse’s rump until Kyle worried she might kill herself the way she worked the horse into a frenzy. He turned for his horse and froze stone cold. The bore of a rifle pointed at his chest had that effect on him.


“Do you…do you think he’ll be angry when he learns he was married without his consent?”

“I don’t think so, least ways not at ya, not when the circumstances are explained ta him.”

Abby went out, and Blue Hand came in. “Sleep too little,” he stated.

George nodded. Abby had been hovering over the boy, sitting beside him day and night since his fever broke and he’d gone into a deep sleep. When they saw to the personal things like bathing him were the only times they’d been able to get her to leave.

“He asked who she was. That upset her. Damn it all, what are we gonna do when he wakes up enough ta tell her he ain’t Samuel?”

“Hears what wants hear.”

“He won’t. Once we get them clear of har, once he can travel on his own, he’ll leave her. Her heart will be broke all over again.”

“So sure?”

“That he’ll leave?” He nodded slowly. “Yeah.” Looking behind him to make double sure she couldn’t hear, he whispered, “She ain’t right in the head. No man would tie himself up to that.”

* * * *

The next time Kyle woke, his body fought the need for fluids with his mouth over accepting the bitter taste of the water the ugly old man poured in his mouth. He gagged, fearing he might puke, but it stayed down. The second water from a canteen came sweet, going down easy compared to the first, though it had a bit of a tin taste.

“Blue eyes?” he murmured. Where were the pretty blue eyes?

“She’s sleeping.”

“Sleeping?” Maybe he still slept. The pain eased away. Maybe he dreamed about pretty blue eyes, startled because he’d spun and nearly drew his gun on her. Abby, her name, pretty Miss Abby. Missy Abby. Abigail.

The old man moved, and Kyle’s head swam. His eyes rolled before he could get them back in focus. Farther away, the old man sat in a chair, staring.

“Hep the pain?”

“You talk like Faraway.”

The old man blinked and leaned forward. “Ya know Faraway?”

“Smart old man.” He felt like he floated. “Drug?”

“Yeah, the doc gave it ta us,” he said and dismissed it. “Faraway? Sure, should’a put it tagether. Colorado and the Lance ranch. Yar old Lance’s boy?”

“No, not son,” Kyle said, his thoughts drifting away. If he’d been a son, he would have stayed, but he was an outsider. Chancy and Lon needed time to get to know each other without any outsider. They both needed time to know their father without someone who didn’t belong to the family.

Three times more Kyle woke and either she or the old man poked a spoon in his mouth with a liquid so bitter he nearly choked, then water, followed by soup. The fourth time he got his hand up to block the spoon of bitter liquid.

“I know it must taste bad from the face ya make, but it’s ta ease yar pain.”

“No, not now.” Weak. God he could barely hear himself his voice was so weak. “I can’t think. Can’t…things slip away from me.”

George dribbled the laudanum back into the brown glass bottle. “Reckon it can wait a piece.” He traded the bottle for the canteen, finding the narrow opening of it made it easier to get water to Kyle’s mouth with him flat on his stomach. “Figure ya got some questions ta ask.”

“Why they’d shoot me?”

“Orders from Harsboro, no one trespasses and no one asks questions about Jenny. No one asks about a lot of things ’bout people dying on account of Harsboro.”

“He killed her. You told me he killed her.”

“Yeah.” He traded the canteen for a bowl and spoon, feeding Kyle while they talked. “Yar rememberin’ things now, so’s I’m gonna tell ya something. Harsboro knows yar har. He forced Missy ta marry up with ya. Told her he’d kill ya if she refused.”


“Now it ain’t legal, and me and Blue Hand, we’re gonna get you and Missy away from har afore Harsboro can do anything more, but ya gots ta pretent yar goin’ along with being her husband.”

Not that any of it much made sense to him, Kyle centered in on one thing to question. “Why would he make her marry me?”

“She’s his only offspring, and he can’t breed no more. Hell, he ain’t been able for a long time, but now he’s taken it in that head of his she’s gonna give him an heir of his bloodline.”

“He just married her off to the first man to come along?”

“The first he figured she’d agree ta. She thinks yar someone else who heped her, Samuel. ’Member, I told ya ’bout him that first night I found ya.”

“Jen—” Kyle started in exclamation and ended in a groan, clenching his hands and jaw against the pain of moving too much.

“Long ’nough,” George said, picking up the bottle.

“She was…all…glowing.”

“Yeah, she come back after Abby’s man went away, ’bout six months now. She’s been hauntin’ old man Harsboro ever since, scarin’ his hands off, and tormentin’ him. Swolla this down now, no matter how bad it tastes.”

Kyle took it, shuddering as the liquid burned its way down his throat. “Why…Indian…why?”

“Give yarself a minute and I’ll tell ya.”


“Boy, ya ain’t gonna stay awake that long.”

He couldn’t stay awake even long enough to put up a token argument, but his mind was clearer despite the pain and weakness. He was lucky to even still be breathing, his last thought as he drifted off in the haze of the opium derivative.