Old Wounds New Beginnings

Part 7

By Kim (KP) Pritekel

These two lovely ladies may seem a bit familiar, but that's about it. You don't know 'em, honest.

Subtext: Yes, this story is of an alternative nature, what else would come from me? So, basically if you aren't old enough to buy me a beer, wouldn't buy me a beer, or live some place where they don't sell beer, go away. Otherwise, sit back, relax, and let me entertain you.

Violence: Well, folks. I'm going to be honest here. I'm not real sure how far I'll take this, but know that part of this takes place in a prison, and it's not a pretty world. There will be violence, including murder, and also some scenes dealing with rape. If this bothers you, then please move on, or cover your eyes during the scary stuff. I think it'll be more disturbing than graphic, though.

Language: Yup. Be warned.

Note 2: I have changed LaGrange, Texas to fit into the story, so if it is not like the real thing, just pretend, and don't hurt me. : )

Thank you to Barbara. Your ideas and knowledge of the Gaelic language was beyond helpful. : ) Slan.

If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am, or that I royally suck, feel free at:

© Kim Pritekel 2001

For Jen. I love you.

Part 7

Jamie pulled on her riding gloves as the bike idled between her legs. She looked out at the yard as the early morning darkness covered everything in shadow. It was a cool morning which she was grateful for. Any reprieve from the afternoon summer sun was a relief. She pulled the helmet on, and put the bike in gear, roaring down the main road, headed for the arched gate.

The hand thought of her conversation with Larry McClure the day before, as she turned left on the deserted, dirt road that would lead her toward LaGrange, and end up an hour later in Austin at Austin International Airport. Jamie had gone upstairs after supper to talk to the old rancher, not wanting to tell Tyg what she was thinking of doing. She knew that the feisty little blonde would never allow it, and would never allow Jamie to take such a risk.

“Come on in, Jamie.” Larry McClure had said with a cough-filled smile. The brunette had walked into the old man's room, her hat held in nervous hands as she walked to his card table where a nearly dead game of solitaire was spread out. “Have a seat.” he mumbled absently as youthful green eyes scanned the neat rows of cards, looking for that one hidden break that would win the game. Finally after nearly five minutes, the old rancher sighed heavily and gathered the deck in large, gnarled hands. He looked over at Jamie who sat in the chair in the corner, long legs stretched out, one booted foot crossed over the other. “What'cha doin' clear over there? I ain't talkin' to ya sittin' in Oklahoma.” Jamie chuckled and moved the chair closer to the table. “So what's on yer mind?”

Jamie sat forward, legs spread, hat dangling off her fingers between them, gently swaying back and forth.

“Well, I think I have a way of getting Hector off of Tyg's butt.” she said, her eyes hard, full of business. Larry McClure sat back in his chair looking at her under a heavy brow and hooded eyes.

“How's that?”

“Well, if you don't mind, I'd really rather keep you out of it, Mr. McClure. But I do have some connections.” the rancher looked deeply into Jamie's eyes, his squinting as he contemplated her, almost as if he were sizing her up. He let out a slow breath and nodded, a small smile curling up his lips.

“Okay.” he said simply. “So what'd'ya need, Jamie?”

“A day or two.”

“Ya've got it.” Jamie smiled and stood, plopping her hat back on her head. “Oh, an Jamie?” she looked down at the old man. “Good work with my granddaughter the other day.” Jamie stared, feeling her stomach flop with the rancher's secret smile. She only nodded, and walked out of the room.

Jamie stared ahead at the long road before her, that long stretch of highway. The plane was supposed to land at eight-thirty a.m. She knew she'd be there in plenty of time, but her nerves made her nearly want to turn the bike around, and ride back to the comfort and known world of the Triple M. And Tyg. She pushed the throttle, and held on as the scenery sped by, the early, intense rays of the rising sun painting everything golden, the cactus in the wild fields with bleached tips. The sky above was turning from ochroid to a deep blue with puffy white clouds floating overhead.

Jamie took the day for what it was worth, clearing her mind of what was to come, and the favor she would have to ask. She was not one to beg, but sometimes certain things in life were worth more then pride.

The Austin airport was small for the size of the city, but large enough to get lost in. Jamie looked around until she saw a ticket desk, and studied the map until she found the gate she needed, and headed in that direction.

The plane was not due in for another forty-five minutes, so Jamie decided to grab a cup of coffee at the near-by cafe. She found a small, round table at the back of the place, and sipped her black coffee out of the paper cup with the plastic lid. She sighed as the steaming brew warmed her insides. She wondered what Tyg would think when she found out that the hand was gone. Would she be angry? Jamie knew that Larry McClure would keep his word and not say anything about it. The brunette knew that that would be the risk she'd have to take, facing the wrath of the rancher. But it was for Tyg's own good, whether she realized that or not.

Jamie glanced around and saw that the small shop was nearly empty save for the young girl behind the counter reading a magazine. She remembered about ten years ago when she had flown into Austin, ready to do business. She had met Kyle Stockard in the very coffee shop she sat in, just three tables down. It wasn't to be a long stay in Texas. In fact, she had been set to fly out four hours later.

Stockard had been a small man who loved clothes, always dressed in the most popular styles. Never one to lose face with his enemies or allies by looking bad, like he wasn't in absolute control of every situation, which he generally had been. Until he'd met Jamie Madden.

Over several phone conversations they had come to decide that Jamie would fly down to Austin, where Stockard's headquarters had been, and make a price. Kyle Stockard had a truckload of black market guns and ammunition that he was itching to get rid of, the authorities already staking him out. So, Jamie had agreed to buy. She had plans to then re-sale for twice their value to a small time, yet wealthy, Mexican gang led by a man named Juan Muñez. Kyle and Jamie had sat at the table for hours, the tall woman missing her initial flight back home, but no agreement was ever reached. She had caught a later flight, and two days later Kyle Stockard had mysteriously disappeared, and Jamie had a hundred thousand dollars in her pocket, and a Mexican gang was very happy, and very armed.

Jamie downed the last of her coffee, and walked to the counter to order another. She thought of the last seven years, and realized that she had no right to complain, or bemoan the lost time. Truth be told, she deserved to be in prison for the rest of her life. And, if she weren't careful with what she had planned, that could easily happen.

She plopped down in her seat at her table, and absently stirred the thin straw around the steaming brew as she thought. She had the crippled lives of so many on her conscience. So much to atone for. The words that Stormy had once told her echoed through her mind.

“The world forgives who it wants to. The rest of us are fucked.”

Jamie was surprised as she realized just how much Tyg reminded her of Stormy. She wasn't sure why that had never occurred to her before. Maybe she didn't want to equate Tyg with such memories. Tyg was almost like the part of Stormy that had been missing; her compassion, love and caring, her kindness. They both had the fighting spirit, and stubborn nature. They even somewhat looked alike, too. What Stormy could have been if her cards had been dealt differently, and she hadn't been abandoned by an abusive father, and crack addicted mother. She sighed. Well, at least Stormy was at peace. She hoped.

The brunette glanced up at the clock above the register and saw that the plane would be landing in five minutes. With a deep sigh, she stood, pitched her half-empty cup into the trash, and walked over to the waiting area. She leaned back against the wall, her hands buried in the pockets of her jeans, one leg crossed over the other, and waited.

The huge 737 hit the ground, skidding slightly, then made its way down the landing strip until it turned into the port of gate 17B. Jamie pushed away from the wall, and walked over to the large window that looked out over the runway area, and watched as the door to the plane was opened, and the passengers could disembark into the connecting tunnel. She turned back to the gate doorway, and watched as people of every walk of life and race entered the airport, some quickly walking away toward the baggage claim, others looking around the crowded area for their loved ones. Then Jamie spotted a tall man with dark hair. Her heart skipped a beat as she realized that that good looking man was the boy she had last seen. Blue eyes, so familiar to hers, were looking around until they landed on her. A slight smile spread across a darkly tanned face, the slightest hint of white teeth showing between full lips. Jamie smiled back, making Johnny's smile grow wider. The brunette found herself wrapped in an enormous hug, her head leaning against a strong shoulder. For that moment everything seemed to click into place, and she felt whole.

“I've missed you, Jai.” came a low voice, husky from emotion held in check. Jamie tightened her arms in answer until she slowly pulled away, looking up into the handsome face of her brother.

“You grew up.” she said, eyeing his lean, six-two frame dressed in well fitted black pants with expensive Gucci shoes, and a light-weight tucked silk tee.

“So did you.” he said, running a fingertip over the slightest hint of lines near the corner of Jamie's eyes. She grinned and smacked his hand away.

“Thanks for coming. Do we need to pick up your luggage?”

“Got it.” Johnny grinned, holding up a large duffel for her to see. Jamie nodded toward the door, and began to walk away. Johnny followed as Jamie led them to her bike in the large parking lot.

“Hot damn. It's been a while since I saw this beast.” he ran his hand down the tank. “Carlos would never allow me to ride her.” Jamie grinned and nodded as she tossed the helmet at him. He caught it, and stared down at its dark, shiny finish. “You know,” he said, his voice quiet, almost reverent “I used to go in that old garage of theirs and sit on her. Not doing a thing, or touching nothin'. Just sit.” he raised wide, sad eyes at her. That face was the one she remembered. Jamie quirked one side of her mouth up, and grabbed him by his shirt, crushing him with a hug. Johnny squeezed his sister close, the one person in all the world who he loved above all else. “I'm sorry, Jai. So sorry.” he whispered into the warm skin of her neck. “I never meant for you to end up there. Never.”

“I know, little bro, I know. It's okay.” she whispered back, caressing his thick, dark hair as she gently swayed back and forth, just like she used to do when they were young, and she had to once again sooth a crying little brother.

Johnny pulled away, and smiled brightly down at his big sister. The sadness had melted from his eyes, and he looked younger, rejuvenated, as if hearing Jamie's words of forgiveness had lifted an immense weight from his shoulders.

“So what's this you need help on?”


Jamie tapped her fingers on the teller's counter waiting for the woman to return with the money. She glanced around the small branch of the bank with its potted ferns, boring music, and green and blue color scheme. A woman sitting at a desk in the corner was starting at her. Jamie met the woman's gaze, and brown eyes quickly looked away. She hated to be stared at. She turned back to the teller desk and saw that the lady had returned, and was counting.

“Okay, Miss. Madden.” the brunette put her hand out as the older woman counted the exact amount out into her palm, then placed the wad in a large envelope. “Will there be anything else we can do for you today?”

“I think you've done quite enough for one day.” Jamie grinned, and walked out of the bank. Jamie tucked the envelope into her jacket, and climbed onto the Harley, starting it up with a roar.

She stared out at the day as she rode through town, heading toward the motel where Johnny was waiting for her. She thought of the plan they had conjured as she passed by the slow business of the small, serene town. She had grown quite fond of LaGrange. Its simplicity she craved.

She wondered why a vulture like Hector would want anything to do with such simple people. Surly LaGrange was not a very lucrative part of his business?

She stopped at a red light, and glanced over to see a small shop on the corner of High street. A motorcycle dealer. Hmm. She squinted as she read the small lettering on the glass front: Collector? Wanting to sell? Talk to Fred! The only dealer worth talking to in Texas! Jamie turned back to see the light turn green, and gunned the bike.

The parking lot was nearly full as vacationers were beginning to come to Texas in droves, stopping in the state, or just for the night on their way to some other exotic, far away place. She pulled the bike up to room 401, and killed the engine, kicking the stand down.

“Hey, Jai. What's up?”

Jamie glanced over at her brother who wore only a towel around his hips, another towel around his shoulders. She grinned at the mass of disheveled hair on his head. She stripped out of her black leather jacket, and tossed it on the table by the door, plopping down into one of the chairs on either side.

“Got it. Only took an hour, too.” she said, running fingers through sweat-damp hair. Johnny sat on the bed and grabbed a comb from his bag. He nodded.

“Pretty good. How much were you able to get?” he began to run the black ACE through thick hair, grimacing as he hit a tangle.

“Seventy. Hope it's enough for that son of a bitch.”

“Hell, Jai. You know it ain't going to be. He's going to want more. I'd say at least a hundred.” Jamie drew her brows. “I would. Wouldn't you?”

“Shit.” she breathed, and stood to start pacing.

“I can lend-“

“No!” Jamie turned on her little brother with fiery eyes. “No. I will handle this. You're involved enough as it is.” she began to pace again, and stopped as she spotted something outside. The gleam of the sun off the chrome on her bike was almost blinding. She rubbed her chin in thought, then turned away.

“Jai, I know you don't approve of what I'm doing. So why are you doing this?” Johnny asked, tossing the comb onto the comforter, and headed back to the bathroom to get dressed. Jamie stared at that black comb for a moment, trying to think of why indeed. Finally with a sigh, she spoke.

“Johnny, as you know, I've done things in my life that I am not proud of. I think the only good thing that I did in the first twenty years of my life was bring you up to be the kind, compassionate, caring man you are today. If only I had not influenced you the way I did.” Jamie lowered her head and stared down at the worn, brown carpet at her feet. She felt a hand on her back, and looked up into blue eyes.

“Please don't say that, Jai. I chose this. Not you.” he said quietly. Jamie nodded.

“I wish I could think that, too, little bro.” she smiled sadly. “But all the same, no matter what I think of what you're doing, and no matter how much I wish to whoever listens to this kind of stuff that you weren't, I need your help now. I need the power of your influence, little bro. To back me up.” Johnny Madden stared into his sister's eyes for a moment, then a large, bright smile spread across his features.

“Is she really worth that much, Jai?”

“Yes.” Jamie said simply. “She is.”


The drive to Hector's place was quiet, both brother and sister getting into the mode of business. The Lexus Jamie had rented was sleek and black, the windows tinted dark giving the car a foreboding look. Just the impression they wanted to make.

The previous night Johnny had talked to Hector's second in command, Dennis, and they had worked out a schedule. The boss was under the impression that the Madden's wanted to do business with him, so he had readily agreed to meet with them. However, it had to be at his spread. His security blanket.

Johnny pulled the car around the circular drive, and stopped, a well-dressed man stepping off the large front stoop and opened Jamie's door for her, looking the tall brunette up and down as he stepped aside for her to get out. She wore a black, well tailored pant suit that she had picked up in Austin after getting her brother from the airport. The suit showed off her incredible body, long legs, trim waist, and her slightly rounded hips. She was any man's dream with black, shining hair down and lose to sweep around her shoulders. Her intense blue eyes were in stark contrast to the dark colors making them seem to glow. She felt like an imposter, like she was trying to reclaim a character she had created and thrown away a long time ago.

She stepped from the car and smiled at the man, then looked over to Johnny who wore a dark gray Armani. Together they made a striking pair.

“Mr. Alvarez is waiting.” the man said as he indicated the tall, double front door with his hand. Johnny walked around the car, and led the way. Jamie raised her head, proud, invincibility oozing from every pore. As she passed, the man took a slight step back. Inwardly she grinned. She had missed such power.

The inside of the house was just as grand as the outside. High, vaulted ceilings, fine, rich woodwork, shiny marble flooring in the foyer with Hector's monogram in the center of the floor.

“Welcome.” a woman said to their left. They turned to see a young woman with blonde hair piled high atop her head, dressed in a blue skirt and cream silk blouse. “Follow me.” she said with a smile. Jamie glanced briefly at her brother who raised a brow, then turned to follow the woman. She felt herself begin to change, almost a metamorphosis into the Jamie of the past. Confident, cocky, and won't take any shit. Her breathing slowed, a wave of energy filling her slowly, starting at the soles of her feet, and working its way up to turn her eyes from the color of the sky to ice.

They were led down a long hall with expensive art lining the walls, most looked to be originals, then suddenly stopped at an open doorway.

“Mr. Alvarez will be with you shortly.” the pretty blonde said, beckoning that they should enter, then closed the heavy wooden door behind them. Johnny sat automatically in one of the twin leather chairs that faced the massive, ornately carved desk that sat near the back wall of the huge office. Jamie preferred to stand, knowing that her height often intimidated men into caving. She had always used her looks to their most potential, building what she had had in as short of time as she had. She looked over at Johnny and saw he had watched and learned well. He sat upright, one ankle crossed over a knee, one hand casually placed over it. He was striking, reminding her somewhat of Dylan McDermott in his presence and the way he held himself. How could she not be proud in some way?

“Well, I'm sorry to have kept you.”

Jamie's attention was drawn to a deep, smooth voice behind her at the door. She turned to see a man of medium height, but impeccable appearance staring at her from the open door to the hall. He wore his salt and pepper hair slicked back with a slight wave in the back. His dark, nearly black, eyes were sharp, and alert. His expensive Brada suit was well tailored, and black, his silver and black tie tied to perfection. He was dashing. Jamie knew good taste when she saw it.

“Would either of you care for a drink?” he asked as he walked over to a panel in the wall, pushing a button to send a hideaway bar slowly unfolding from the wall. Jamie was impressed. Why hadn't she ever thought of that in her office? She shook her head to clear it. Hector poured himself a small glass of scotch, and glanced over his shoulder at his two guests.

“No thank you.” Jamie said, her voice full, rich, and serious. Johnny held up two fingers and shook his head.

“Well, down to business then, shall we?” the gambler turned a winning smile on the Madden's. He walked around the massive desk, and took a seat, adjusting his trousers as he sat, sipping from his drink, keeping watchful eyes on Jamie the entire time. “Well, Miss Madden. I must say, this is a real pleasure.” he gave the brunette a winning smile. “You've been out of circulation for awhile, I hear.” the hand nodded, crossing her arms over her chest, her cleavage pushing up ever so slightly, though Hector did not miss the motion. “What kind of time did you do?”

“Seven years.” Jamie said with the hint of a smile.

“Then I salute you.” Alvarez said, raising his tumbler before sipping. His eyes turned to Johnny. “And you, my boy, must be glad to have big sister back, eh?”

Johnny grinned, and glanced back at Jamie. “Well, we kept things going.”

“So I hear. It's been said that your little baby brother is the one to be reckoned with now, Miss Madden-“

“Call me Jamie.” the brunette said, taking a step closer, and sitting on the edge of the desk. Alvarez stared at the long leg that dangled over the side, swinging slowly back and forth.

“Jamie.” he corrected with a slow spreading smile.

“Johnny has exceeded every expectation I ever had, and then some.” Jamie looked to her brother with a wide, toothy smile that faltered for just a moment as she looked into his eyes. Johnny looked away, unable to take seeing that flash of disappointment. Jamie turned her attention back to Hector. “Well, as pleasant as this walk down memory lane has been, this is not why we're here, now is it?” she purred, giving the older man a dazzling smile.

“You are right.” Hector sat up from his reclined position, and placed his hands upon the desktop, looking from one to the other. “What can I do for you?”

Johnny looked to Jamie, waiting for her to state her conditions. This was her deal, and he'd let her do what she did best.

“Well,” Jamie stood and ran a hand through thick, dark hair. “I hear that you have some interests in a small ranch just outside of LaGrange.” she began, resting a hand on the edge of the desk, and pinning Hector with piecing blue eyes. Hector's smile was easy, casual.

“Yes. I have interest in many small and not so small ranches in that area. So?”

“So, I believe that by the time my brother and I leave here today you will have interest in one less ranch.” Jamie said just as casually. She ran her fingertips over the smooth finish of the polished wood, looking at her reflection in its dark surface. Jamie stood and began to stroll around the large office, fingering pictures hanging on the wall, running her hand over a small sculpture that stood on a pedestal in the corner near the window. Hector followed her progress with slightly narrowed eyes. “Of course we'll make it worth your while.” she continued, picking up a large table book of photography filled with black and whites. She glanced at the gambler to gauge his reaction.

“Why should I give a damn?” he asked, his voice slow, calculating, not wanting to evoke Jamie's legendary temper. Also, not to lose a possible good fish on the line.

Jamie chuckled lightly and turned back toward Hector. “Because you don't want to make me mad now, do you?” Hector met Jamie's steely gaze, and felt a small shiver pass through him. He knew of the fate of many who opposed Jamie and Johnny Madden. He had known Kyle Stockard, who had been a close business acquaintance.

“Well, that waits to be seen. What is this ranch that has caught your fancy, Jamie?”

“The McClure place.” she said simply, fingering an antique pistol that sat upon a side table near the sofa in the back of the room. She fingered the trigger absently as her eyes bore into Hector's. Hector knew that look, and swallowed. He flinched at the mention of the McClure place. He had been holding out on that deal for too many years to let it go now. He knew a good bit of land when he saw one, and Clay McClure had been such an easy pawn with his penchant for gambling. Such a shame he'd had to disappear with such a young daughter at home. He sat up a bit more in his chair, and played with his large, gold pinky ring, twisting and turning it. Jamie noted the action and grinned internally. She had him where she wanted him. God, she had missed this.

“I'm afraid the McClure place is not an option.” he said, after clearing his throat. He shook off his fear, and gave Jamie a winning smile, which she returned. She walked over to the older man, pistol still in hand. She knew his type, and had come prepared.

“Does this still work?” she asked casually, glancing down at the gun as if she had never seen one before. Hector swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing.

“I don't think that's the point, here. What is your interest in that worthless ranch, anyway?” he asked, trying to direct the conversation back to a more comfortable level.

“You know, I've always loved guns.” Jamie reached into her pocket and withdrew a single bullet, just right to fit an old six-shooter. She loosened the bolt and rolled the chamber barrel out.

“Listen, this is ridiculous-“ Hector cut himself off as Jamie slid the one bullet into a chamber, and slammed it shut, spinning the barrel with a simple flick of her finger.

“Now, where were we?” she asked, as she walked toward the desk once more, playing with the pistol all the while. “Now, what was your question? What is my interest in that worthless ranch? Well, we all have odd interests, don't we?” she walked around the desk until she stood next to his large, leather chair. Hector turned until he faced her, and looked up into the beautiful face of the brunette. He knew she was playing with him, but did not dare risk calling her bluff. “So, Mr. Alvarez, or can I call you Hector? I think we shouldn't waste any precious time squabbling about why or when or how. Why don't you just be smart, and make me an offer.” she leaned over the chair, resting her free hand on the arm, the other bringing the pistol up to lightly glide down the older man's face, tracing his lips with the tip of the barrel. Hector glanced down at the cold steel, then back up to Jamie's eyes. The barrel proceeded down over his chin, down the short length of his neck to trace the lines of his expensive, silk tie, and down to hop over jacket buttons, and finally settling in his crotch. He swallowed again as he felt her press the weapon against him, mixing the pleasure of the pressure with the fear of knowing just what was causing that pressure. “So what do you say?” Jamie asked, her mouth a breath away from his.

“You can have it for two.” he said, his deep voice breathy. Jamie smiled, pressing the barrel a bit more.

“Tell you what. You give it to me for one, and you can have both of your little friends.” she tapped his crotch to emphasize her point. Hector closed his eyes and swallowed.

“Okay. One hundred grand.”

“Good boy.” Jamie stood, pulling the pistol with her. She smiled down at the sweating man. “You're a smart man, Hector. I'll be by tomorrow, say around noon?”

Hector took a couple deep breaths, and a long sip from his scotch. His composure back, he smiled and nodded.

“Yes. Noon is fine.”

“Wonderful.” Jamie smiled brightly, and turned toward the door followed by Johnny. Jamie placed the pistol back in its place.

“By the way, Jamie,” the brunette stopped and turned toward the old gambler with a raised brow. “That pistol doesn't work anymore.”

“Well, then I guess it's a good thing that was a blank I loaded into it.” she smiled, and headed out into the hall.

The black Lexus wove through the light mid-day traffic easily. Johnny glanced over at his sister as Jamie sat silent, staring out the windshield as if in a trance. They had left Alvarez's place ten minutes before, and were headed toward the motel. He had never seen her pull off such an elaborate stunt with such a dangerous man, and wasn't sure what to think.

“You okay, Jai?” he asked, his quiet voice shattering the muffled silence of the plush car. Jamie nodded, but said nothing. “You pulled it off.”

“Yeah.” Jamie said quietly, her voice dead. She sighed deeply and turned to stare at the passing scenery, her stomach in knots. It had been so easy to slip right back into that way of thinking, acting. Too easy. She knew it was for a good cause, but still, what did that say about her? About how far she had come since going to prison seven years ago. How far had she come? Or had she at all?

“You did what you had to do, Jai.” Jamie glanced over at Johnny, always amazed at how he could read her. She smiled, and reached over to cover his hand that rested on the gear shift with her own, squeezing it slightly before releasing.

Jamie was glad to see the motel as it appeared just around the bend. She was dying to get out of the suit that helped to create the person she no longer was, and she had some business to take care of.

Dressed in a pair of jeans and a tank, Jamie grabbed her keys and helmet.

“Be back soon.” she said as she left the motel, leaving a confused Johnny behind. The brunette climbed onto the Harley, and ran her hands over the smoothness of the black tank, tracing the single word that meant so much to her, and whispering it with a breath,

“Saoire.” the freedom she had craved her whole life, and now finally had. But to what cost? Emerald green eyes flashed before her mind's eye, and she smiled. For Tyg. She was doing this all for her, for the one person who had given her that freedom. It was worth it.


Jamie stood near the large front windows of the store, staring in at the assortment of bikes and ORV's. She could hear Fred behind her, mumbling to himself, his biker boots crunching the gravel beneath his feet.

“What does this mean? What language is that, anyway?” the hand turned at the sound of his deep, gravelly voice. He was pointing at the tank.

“Gaelic. Means freedom.” she said, her voice dull, lifeless. He nodded and grabbed his long, blonde beard that had streaks of gray running through it.

“She's in unbelievably good shape. I'd swear she hadn't been ridden in a good while.” Jamie chuckled to herself, and nodded. “She's a real beauty, Jamie. How's thirty-five sound?”

“Works for me.”

“Give ya ten for the helmet?”


The inside of the cab smelled of stale cigarette smoke, and old food. Jamie sat on the slick, vinyl seat, feeling the large envelope in her back pocket. The cabby was a young woman with a baseball cap on that said The Saints Kick Ass. The girl kept glancing at the hand through the rear-view mirror.

“You new 'round here? Don't member seeing you before.”

“Yeah.” Jamie said absently.

“I'm Nic.”


The blonde cabby grinned at her, then began chewing her gum again.

Jamie walked into the motel room to find Johnny lounging around in a pair of shorts and a Rockies t-shirt. He glanced up at her as she dropped the motel key on the table and plopped down next to him.

“Where's the bike?” he asked, watching as the cab backed out of the space, and drove out of the lot.

“Sold it.” Jamie muttered. She glanced over at the look of shock she expected to see on her brother's face. “Had to. I was short on money for that asshole.”

“Jai, I would have given it to you. I know how much that bike meant to you.”

“Well, Johnny, I've learned that there are things in life far more important than a motorcycle.” Johnny looked into his sister's eyes, searching for what he knew he'd find, the depth of truth to her words. Jamie never said anything she didn't mean, and this was no exception.

“What's her name, Jai? I'd like to meet her one day.” Jamie smiled, and smacked him on the arm.

“Her name is Tyg, but I don't see that happening, little bro. Not the way things are right now, anyway.”

“Yeah.” Johnny turned sad eyes back to the television where Hard Copy was about to start. “I can't just walk away, Jai. Too much at stake.”

“It's your decision, Johnny. Only you can say what's at stake. Until then, we won't be in each other's lives.”

“Is this an ultimatum, Jai?” he asked, turning fiery blue eyes on his sister. Jamie looked over at him, her expression calm.

“No. Just stating a fact.”

Johnny sat up, running long fingers through his hair that was still damp from his recent shower. He nodded, almost as if he had come to some sort of conclusion.

“Okay, Jai. Okay. You know where I'm at if you feel like dropping by sometime.”

“Yeah.” Jamie said with a sad sigh. Deep down she had known that Johnny was lost to her, but had hoped by some miracle he would chose his big sister over crime. Not to be.

The next morning Johnny had headed out, having an early flight back to Colorado Springs. The car was not due back until that afternoon, so Jamie drove out to Hector's with one hundred thousand dollars bound into bundles of one thousand packed into a hard, metal case. She ditched the suit in favor of black jeans and a black tank. She looked no less stunning.

The blonde once again showed her to the large office from the day before, though this time Alvarez was ready and waiting.

“Jamie. Good afternoon. You're right on time.” the older man said with a wide smile, setting off his light-weight summer suit.

“Always.” she said with a half-quirked grin. She walked straight to the desk, and plopped the case onto the desk top.

“Always one for business.” he smiled again. The smile was not returned.

“I warn you, Alvarez. If I get even one scent of any of your piss ants on this land, I will not hesitate to finish what I started yesterday.” she said in a deadly calm, her palms resting on the top of the case, leaning over the desk slightly. Hector glanced up into eyes made of ice, and nodded.

“You have my word, Jamie. A deal is a deal.”

“Let's hope so.” Jamie said with a pleasant smile, and turned to walk out of the office, never looking back.

Jamie drove back to the motel, and arranged for the car rental dealership to pick the car up from there, and packed her one bag, wanting to walk around LaGrange before she headed back to the Tipple M.

She walked out into the bright late afternoon, and glanced around. The heart of the town was only a half mile to the east, so she headed in that direction, her bag slung over her shoulder, garment bag with her suit over her arm. She glanced down at the gray plastic, and suddenly bile rose in her throat. She looked to her right; at the side of the motel was a large, brown dumpster. She walked over to it, and tossed the thing in. She no longer needed it, and would never need it again. After all, what good was a suit on a ranch?


The road was long and hazy from the heat, sky and dirt mingling in a liquid dance. Jamie watched as city quickly turned to farm to ranch.

“So, I saw ya'll doin' some business with Fred yesterday.” Butch Rodgers said. Jamie glanced over at the feed delivery man who she'd run into in town, and had offered her a ride out to the McClure place since he was already on his way. “Tel me ya didn't go in git rid of that hog a yers.”

“Sure did.” she said with a slight grin.

“Ah, man!” he said, slamming the heel of his hand into the steering wheel. “Knew it. Woman ya shoulda tole me. I woulda bought her from ya if I knew ya was gettin' rid a her.” Butch glanced over at the hand, scratched the three day old beard he had on his chin. Jamie chuckled at his dramatics. She like Butch. One of the purest souls she'd ever met.

“Well, I'll keep that in mind, next time, Butch. It was kind of an unplanned thing.”

“Still a shame.” the driver said, stuffing a wad of Copenhagen in his left cheek.

The large diesel made its way down the bumpy road until the Triple M arch came into view, and passed carefully under it, the clearance no more than a few inches.

“They didn't make no trucks this size when that thang was built.” Butch said with an annoyed sigh. Jamie chuckled, and felt a sense of peace flood her as they entered onto McClure property. Butch pulled the rig up to the old barn, and cut the engine with a sputtering groan. Jamie jumped out, grabbing her bag from the floor of the beast, and headed toward the hand's cabins.


Larry McClure sat on the newly fixed porch, his trusty cards on the patio table before him as he played another endless game of solitaire, determined to win at least one damn hand. His head snapped up as he heard the rumble of Butch's feed truck. Hell, was it Tuesday already? Days flew by so fast anymore. He watched as the large, white rig pulled up to the barn, then was surprised to see a passenger hop down from the truck, and even more surprised to see that it was Jamie. He had begun to wonder if she hadn't gone A-WOL on them. As he watched her tug her bag from the cab a thought occurred to him. A large smile began to spread across sun-dried lips.

“Hot damn.” he whispered. “She did it.”

“Well, look who found her way home.” Larry turned to see Rosa walk up to the table, her eyes on Jamie, her and holding a tall glass of lemonade.

“I was wonderin'.” the old rancher said, taking the offered glass, and downing a third in one swallow.

“Wonder if Tyg knows she's back. Ain't she been throwin' a fit, though.” they chuckled as they thought of the threats the little spit fire had thrown at them both if they didn't tell her what was going on.

“Nah. Doubt it.” the rancher watched as Butch opened up the back door to the trailer, and whistled for Bobby to help him unload. Rosa looked down into the old, leathery face she knew as well as her own.

“What you smilin' about, old man? If I didn't know better I'd say you got lucky in a dream, or somethin'.” the housekeeper took a step back, hands on her ample hips as Larry began to laugh outright. “What ain't ya tellin' me?”

McClure looked up into amused brown eyes, and smiled wide and proud.

“That girl got us home free. No more Hector and his damn threats.” he answered, happiness filling his old body. Now he felt as though he were complete, as if his life had come full circle. He knew his granddaughter would be okay, and so would the ranch. How could he ask for anything more?

“How do ya know that? Ya got a little birdy in your head tellin' ya tales again?” the old man chuckled again, low and deep.

“Nah. I jus' know, s'all.” Rosa followed the rancher's slight gesture toward where Jamie had disappeared to, and looked back into smiling green eyes.

“That where she been? Runnin' off like some tomcat in heat?”

“Can't say fer sure.” the old rancher cut himself off as boots clanked across the wood planks of the porch. “Butch. How goes it?”

“Hey, old man. Good, real good.” the driver swiped his greasy baseball cap from sweaty brown hair, and wiped his forehead with his arm. “Damn hot one taday, hell yes 'tis.”

“Have a seat, Butch. I'll get ya some lemonade.” Rosa patted the trucker on the shoulder, then disappeared around the corner of the house. Butch plopped into a chair next to the rancher, and flung an arm over the back, stared out into the yard.

“Ya'll didn't get hit too hard, huh?” he said, scratching his stubbled chin.

“Nah. Any felled buildin's we done already got back up. Bad storm, but ain't hit hard.” Larry McClure said, sipping from his glass as the ice was starting to melt. “Hate watery lemonade.” he muttered as he downed the whole thing.

“Ya'll get up ta Dennison's place?” Butch asked, taking the glass that Rosa offered him with a grateful smile.

“Nah. Heard 'bout it, though. Got plowed.”

Suddenly Butch sat up a bit straighter in his chair as a thought occurred to him.

“Ya know, I could strangle that hand a yours! She done gone an sold that hog a hers!” he exclaimed, tired eyes wide, the whites bloodshot from too many hours on the road. Larry McClure looked over at the man and nodded. He'd suspected as much.

“Well, each ta his own, old buddy.” he caught Rosa's look of surprise. They all knew how much that bike meant to Jamie, but the rancher had the feeling she hadn't had a choice. “Each ta his own. 'M sure she had her reasons.”

The fifty pound bag of feed nearly slid of Tyg's shoulder as she heard Butch mention Jamie and her Harley. Was she back? The blonde walked around the side of the house where she could see her grandfather, Rosa and Butch sitting around one of the tables, drinking lemonade and talking. Jamie had sold her Harley? Why? Was that reason she had taken off for three days without telling a soul? Though the rancher had the feeling that her granddaddy knew far more than he was willing to admit. She had been pissed at him and Rosa for days.

The small blonde carefully lowered the bag to the ground, and peeked around the side of the porch, listening.

“Did she tell ya'll she was gonna do that, Larry?” Butch asked, running the cold glass over his forehead.

“Nope.” the old rancher said as he tipped his glass letting a half melted ice cube slide into his awaiting mouth.

“Hell, I saw her talkin' to ol' Fred Lott at his cycle shop, and just about dropped my jaw. Wonder what he gave 'er fer it. Hell, I'd bet close ta forty grand. What she need that kind a money fer, anyhow?”

Tyg drew her brows, and ran a hand under her hair around the back of her neck, rubbed the sweat-soaked skin as she thought. What the hell was Jamie doing? Was she going somewhere? That's a lot of money in one lump. She could feel her anger building once again. She wanted to march over to Jamie's cabin right then and demand to know where the hell she had disappeared to for three days, and why the hell she was selling one of her most prized possessions. The blonde knew she wouldn't have gotten rid of that bike for no good reason.


Larry wiped his mouth with the napkin, and tossed it onto the card table next to his empty plate. Damn, that women sure knew how to make some good fried chicken. He downed the rest of his coffee followed by a loud belch.


“That's real nice, granddaddy.” Larry turned in his chair to see Tyg standing near the door with a grin lighting up her face. He smiled and raised his eyebrows.

“My token of appreciation.” Tyg rolled her eyes, and walked into the room, pulling up a chair to the card table.

“Okay, old man. You've got some explaining to do. I'm not leaving here until you do, either. Got it?” the old rancher stared into the very serious face of his granddaughter. He'd known this would happen. Just a matter of time. All the same, he decided to play hard to get.

“What'cha talkin' 'bout, girl?”

“No, no. Not gonna fly. You know damn well what I'm talkin' about.” she grinned. Larry couldn't help but grin back. She had him. She'd had him since the moment he'd laid eyes on her nearly twenty-seven years before.

“What'cha wanna know, tiger?” he said, his voice low and serious.

“Hell, ya can start with where the hell did Jamie disappear to.” the old rancher shrugged. “Granddaddy! Come on, now.”

“I don't know. She ain't tole me nothin'. She jus' asked if she could have the time, and I said yup.” Tyg drew her brows, one hand running through blonde hair.

“Why she askin' you?”

“Probly 'cause she knew you'd react like this, would be my guess.” Tyg flashed fiery green eyes at the older man.

“This just don't make no sense.” she muttered, feeling like a pouting child.

“Listen, honey. Jamie came ta me a few days back and said she had a way a gettin' rid a that bastard Hector. I gave 'er my blessing, and off she went.” Tyg's head snapped up as she stared at her grandfather, fear grabbing at her gut.

“Oh god. Ya don't think she did anythin' stupid, do ya?” Larry McClure shook his head, and placed his palm on the side of his granddaughter's face.

“Nah, honey. She ain't stupid. I'm sure she found some other way, an I'd be willin' ta bet sellin' that bike a hers had somethin' ta do with it.”


Tyg paced back and forth in her room, fists balled up at her sides as she tried to get her anger under control. How dare she! How dare she take the rancher's problem into her own hands without asking first. This was Tyg's mess to take care of, and Jamie had no right to interfere. The blonde knew that whatever the hand had done it was for all good intentions, but damnit!

Tyg stopped pacing and plopped down onto the softness of her bed, hands behind her head as she stared up at the dark ceiling of the late evening. She had left her grandfather's room over an hour ago, but still could not straighten the whole thing out in her mind.

“Maybe I should go talk to her.” she muttered. “Nah. I'll probably kill her.” she sighed loudly, running a hand through her hair again. She glanced out the window as the night breeze gently blew her curtains just a bit. Part of her wanted to run out there anyway just to see Jamie. If she were honest with herself she'd admit that part of her anger was that she had missed the brunette, and had yet to see her. Jamie had not come in for dinner. “Damn.” She wasn't so sure how she felt about the fact that Jamie may have gotten rid of Tyg's problem for her. How did that settle in her stomach? Mixed bitter/sweet. “Ta hell with it.”

Tyg jumped up from the bed, and slammed out of her room, headed downstairs, and out the front door. The night was hot and sticky as August was quickly on its way; the hottest, most uncomfortable month. Tyg ran her hands through wild hair again as she thought of what she wanted to say.

“Okay, Jamie, you shouldn't have done that. No. Sound like a goddamn teacher or her mother.” she muttered to herself. “You had no right. This is my problem, and I had it all completely under control. Hell, but ya didn't, you fool.” she admonished herself as she got closer to the cabins where some of the lights still burned in the windows. As did Jamie's. “Ya shouldn't have sold your bike for just me, Jamie.” she whispered as she climbed the few stairs to the small cabin. She stood at the doorstep for a moment before she raised her fist and pounded on the hard wood. She heard movement from inside, then a moment later the door opened, light spilling out into the night, blinding her for a moment. Jamie stood in the door in a pair of sweat shorts and a t-shirt. She looked down at the rancher, her eyes slightly widened in surprise, but said nothing. Tyg stared up at her, her heart pounding in her chest until she thought she'd faint. Getting her emotions back under control, Tyg let her anger take over.

“Why,” she demanded. “Why'd you do it, Jamie?”

“Because I had to.” the hand answered.

“That bike meant so much to you.” Tyg said, her throat constricting the slightest bit as she swallowed her relief in seeing the brunette safe and home.

“So do you.” Tyg stared up into eyes turned dark from the light shining behind Jamie's tall form, and suddenly the need to feel Jamie, to know that she was really there was overwhelming, and almost made her anger dissipate. Almost.

“Don't do that again, honey. I was worried.” the blonde said as she pushed Jamie into the cabin, kicking the door shut behind her. She pushed her with a hand to her chest, advancing on the retreating brunette. “Do you have any idea how pissed I am at you right now?” Jamie said nothing as she continued to back up across the main room until her back slammed up against the back wall next to the back door. Tyg was on her in a heartbeat, her body pressed to the taller woman's, her hand flying up around Jamie's neck to pull her down. “You shouldn't have done that.” she whispered just before her mouth covered Jamie's, unable to stop herself. Jamie pushed her away slightly.

“I had to.” she said, nearly breathless. Tyg found her mouth again, pushing into Jamie's body, her fingers tangling in long, black hair.

“Why?” she breathed into the brunette's mouth, pulling her deeper into the kiss.

“I did it for you.” Jamie answered, her own hands finding Tyg's hips, and pulling the smaller body into her own. She could not fight what her own body had been craving for months.

“You could have been hurt.” Tyg moaned as Jamie's mouth found her neck, a hot tongue playing along the length, gently sucking in the skin.

“You're worth it.” Jamie said into the hollow of the blonde's throat. Tyg pulled back from her, and stared into blue eyes turned dark from arousal. She placed a hand on either side of the brunette's face, and stroked the soft skin with her thumb, feeling the speeding heartbeat in her temples before gliding down over hot skin to smooth over Jamie's lips, feeling the moisture from their kiss gather onto its tip. Jamie's lips opened, and she gently took the thumb into the dark, wet cave of her mouth. Tyg's breath caught, and she could not take her eyes off of that pink tongue that snaked out, drawing the thumb further in. Finally able to look away, green met blue, and Jamie kissed the palm of Tyg's hand, then took it in her own, and led the rancher back toward her bedroom.

Tyg couldn't believe this was happening as she followed the hand past the kitchen table, and through the doorway into the darkened room beyond. Jamie did not turn on a light, but instead turned to see Tyg in the blue hue of moonlight that filled the space. She could see the rancher was breathing heavily, as was she. She could feel the blood pounding through her ears as she pulled the smaller woman to her, needing to feel the heat, the solid presence of what had become an internal obsession. Jamie wanted to slow it down, to savor this like a dying man finding a few more minutes to live.

Tyg stepped into the welcoming circle of Jamie's arms, folding herself into the larger body for a moment, needing to just be held, know that it was Jamie who held her. Jamie stroked her hair with long, slow strokes, pushing stray hairs away from her forehead, caressing the skin of her face as she did. Jamie's hand dropped down to Tyg's neck, feeling the hot skin there, the smooth throat, and delicate bones. Tyg could feel her body beginning to respond, and she slid her hands over Jamie's back, running her nails down the brunette's spine, making her shiver. Tyg found the taller woman's lips again, and began a slow exploration that was starting a slow fire that threatened to burn them both alive.

Jamie closed her eyes, and was surprised to hear a moan escape her throat as Tyg's tender, yet entirely too passionate kiss, consumed her. Her hands wondered up to the rancher's hair, and lost themselves in its thickness, pulling the smaller woman that much closer as the hand deepened the kiss. Tyg's hands slid down Jamie's back until they found the end of her t-shirt, and slipped underneath the thin material. The skin covering the strong back was smooth, hot to the touch, almost searing. She was filled with an overwhelming, almost desperate need to see and touch Jamie. She pulled the shirt up, Jamie lifting her arms so the shirt could slide over her head. Tyg stared at the incredible sight before her. Jamie stood naked from the waist up, her shoulders strong and tan from hard hours working on the ranch. She reached her hands out to run fingertips along the strong collarbone, shadow filling the hollow pocket, and running down to glide over smooth, full breasts, and at last fall upon dark, hard nipples. Jamie ran her hands along Tyg's arms, pushing herself further into the rancher's touch, finding her mouth again. She reached around and placed large hands on Tyg's butt, pulling her body against her own. The rancher gladly gave in to the kiss, her hands cupping Jamie's breasts, squeezing, running her thumbs over rigid peaks as the kiss turned from a gentle exploration to a hurried feast of heavy breathing, and searching tongues.

Tyg felt herself being pushed back until something hit at the back of her knees, and she fell onto the softness of the mattress behind her. Jamie was on top of her in a heartbeat, her hands pushing at Tyg's shirt, wanting to touch what had haunted her for months. Tyg arched her neck as she felt a hot mouth on her neck, moving to her ear lobe, a teasing tongue driving her wild. Her fingers buried themselves into a mane of silk, pressing, needing more. Jamie's hands struggled with Tyg's bra, and finally got it unhooked, pulling it out from under the rancher, and tossing it to the floor with their shirts. Jamie moved from Tyg's ear, kissing, and sucking down a searing neck, and licked her way across defined collarbones, breathing in the blonde's scent as she buried her nose between soft breasts before kissing her way across to the soft swell, running her tongue around a hard nipple, tasting, sucking, gently running her teeth over the sensitive peak.

“Jamie,” Tyg breathed, cupping the back of her neck, guiding her where she needed her most. The hand moved to the other breast, caressing and teasing the other with fingers and palm. Still concentrating on Tyg's breasts, Jamie reached down and unbuttoned the rancher's jeans, sliding them down as far as she could before she moved away from the blonde and sat back on her knees. She looked down at the incredible creature who lay beneath her, eyes hooded by desire, fingers running up and down Jamie's thighs as she waited for the brunette to make her next move. Jamie stood and removed Tyg's jeans from short, but muscular legs, tossing them on the growing pile of clothing. She looked down and chuckled at the blonde's purple underwear.

“Hanes Her Way. Gotta love 'em.” Tyg grinned.

Jamie pulled them off, inhaling the smell and heat that radiated off of the blonde. She bent over the prone form before her, spreading her fingers and running her hands up the bent thighs, spreading them so she could fit between. Tyg reached for her, pulling her to her for a kiss that shook them both to the core. Tyg used her tongue to tease, and bring the hand back for more, her hips beginning to rock gently on their own, a shiver passing through her as the soft material of Jamie's shorts rubbed against her.

Jamie again pulled away, freeing herself from the last barrier, both moaning as skin laid upon skin. Jamie moaned again when she felt how wet Tyg already was. She kissed her lightly, then began to kiss and lick a trail down the blonde's jaw, over her neck and to her breasts as her fingers caressed the skin of her stomach, dipping lightly into her belly button, her mouth following the path with lips, tongue and teeth until Tyg's intoxicating wetness met the tip of her tongue, taking in the tangy liquid. Tyg chuckled as Jamie teased the thatch of dark gold hair with her nose, finally parting swollen lips with her tongue, licking up the full length of Tyg's sex, the blonde lifted her hips with the action, sucking in a deep breath as her hands shot down to grab Jamie's shoulders, and then entwine her fingers into her hair that tickled the insides of her thighs.

Tyg stared up into the dark ceiling, her mind whirling as she felt the incredible sensations of Jamie's tongue play across her most sensitive areas, sucking her in, nipping so gently that only pleasure could be felt. A wave of sensation shot up her spine as Jamie took her into her mouth, running her flattened tongue over and over until she could not keep her body still, her thighs pressing in on the sides of Jamie's head only to relax again as Jamie pressed further, taking more of her in, drinking more of her juices, the only sounds in the dark room Tyg's moans and increased breathing and Jamie's sucking mouth. She could feel herself rising higher, about to fall, Jamie the only person in the world who could break her fall.

Jamie could feel the slickness on her cheeks, and dribbling down her chin as she held Tyg tighter, her arms wrapped around writhing thighs, fingers squeezing the soft skin of Tyg's legs, soothing her and exciting her at the same time. She could feel Tyg's climax coming, her own body responding in kind. She spread the blonde's legs a bit wider as she attacked the sensitive bundle with zeal, taking the woman she loved as far as she could possibly go, surrounding her in a blanket of warmth and softness to show her just how much she loved her, how much she needed her, and how much she wanted her.

Tyg felt her stomach muscles constrict as her body was wracked with pleasure, waves sweeping through her like the torrents of the most turbulent ocean, all wrapped in the blue of her lover's eyes. Blindly she reached down until she felt the center of her world. She pulled Jamie up to lay on top of her, finding the hand's mouth, desperate to complete the bond, to seal their connection with a kiss.

Jamie supported herself on her elbows, smoothing sweat-soaked hair back from Tyg's face as they kissed, softly, gently, slowly. No one in any hurry

“I love you.” Tyg whispered against full lips. Jamie pulled away slightly, stared down into emerald eyes made slate from the night. She smiled, bending to gently lay a kiss on Tyg's forehead.

“I love you, too.”

Jamie rolled onto her side, pulling Tyg to her, back to front. Tyg protested when Jamie pulled her close, her cheek against the rancher's.

“Just let me hold you, Tyg. That's all I want.” she whispered. Tyg settled in against her, bringing the brunette's long arm around her, holding it tight against her heart, and closed her eyes.

Part 8

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