Disclaimer: The characters are from my imagination, but are based on our favorite Warrior Princess and Battling Bard. J
Content Warning: None, but the plot thickens.
Acknowledgement: I want to thank my Beta reader, Pam.
Comments: You can send comments to my email. firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
Copyright © November 2004: R. A. Hughes
April 16, 1874
James leaned his head against the headboard. He was staying at the hotel just across the street from the jail. His injured shoulder was bandaged, and his arm was in a sling. The doctor told him not to move too much in order to give the shoulder a chance to heal. He knew with the injury he couldnt look for his daughter, and that made him feel like a failure.
Bill walked in carrying a coffee pot in one hand and two coffee cups in the other. "Good morning, James," he greeted.
"Morning, Bill," James said.
Bill poured the coffee into the cups. "Hows the shoulder?"
"A little bit of pain. I took some of the laudanum the doctor gave me. That should take care of the pain for a while," James answered.
They sat there in silence, drinking their coffee.
James finally broke the silence. "Are there any homesteads farther from here?"
Bill knew where this conversation was going, but decided to answer anyway, "Garcias place."
"Garcia. That name is familiar."
"Twenty years ago we hung a man by the name of Alberto Garcia," Bill mentioned.
James thought for a moment. "Yes. I remember now. He killed his wife for being unfaithful. Did they have any children?"
Bill nodded. "They had a son named Carlos, I believe. She had a daughter by the other man."
"What happened to the children?"
"They had family in Mexico so they moved there."
Deep in thought, James drank the rest of his coffee. He tried to figure out the approximate age that the children would be today. "The daughter, does she know who her father is?" he asked.
"Ive heard only rumors. Some people say its Charles."
"Charles McAllister?" James furrowed his eyebrows.
"Hes a good man. He was the first to express his sympathies when my wife died. Does he still work at the livery stables?"
"Yes. He should be there right now."
"I think I will pay him a visit."
James walked down the busy street toward the stables. The smell of fresh cut boards and paint filled the air. He began to wonder why he was leaving the growing town in the first place. A shouted greeting interrupted his thoughts. He looked over to see a tall, lean man standing in the large entryway of the stable. "Hello, Charles. Good morning to you."
"Top o the morning to ya, James," Charles said.
Charles McAllister was your typical Irishman. He had auburn hair and bright blue eyes. His family immigrated to the United States during the Potato Famine in the mid 1840s. After his folks passed away a few years ago, he inherited the horse ranch.
"Hows the ranch?" James asked.
"Its slowing down a bit. Im not getting any younger. I cant tame those horses like I used to," Charles answered.
"I understand what you mean by not getting any younger," James chuckled. "I just wanted to stop by to ask you a few questions. I hope you dont mind."
"I dont mind at all. Pull up a chair," Charles handed James a chair, and one for himself.
"I hate to bring up memories, but do you remember Sofia Garcia?" James asked.
Charles was taken aback by the question. He tried to form an answer, but couldnt. Sighing heavily, he looked at the ground. He was silent for a moment then looked back up at James. "Aye. I can never forget her even if I tried. She was a beautiful lass, and I cared for her."
"So the rumors are true. Are you the father of her daughter?"
Charles nodded. "She was unhappy with Alberto. He was hateful and didnt love her like he should have. I loved her with all my heart. She wanted to leave Alberto, but she didnt leave him soon enough."
"What do you know about her son, Carlos?"
"The lad was a troublemaker. He was very much like his Da, short-tempered and mean. I wouldnt trust him at all."
"Do you have a photo of Sofia and the children?"
"Aye. I have one round here somewhere," Charles went into his office, opening a drawer at his desk. He took out a photo from the drawer, and handed it to James. A teenage Carlos was standing to the right, in front of his mother. The daughter was standing to the left.
The look in Carlos eyes was familiar to James. They were cold, emotionless. He handed the photo back to Charles.
"Are you alright, James? You look like youve seen a ghost," Charles said.
"I think I saw Carlos before," James said, looking up at Charles.
"When?" Charles asked.
"It was a few days ago. They kidnapped my daughter."
"I dont know. They were wearing bandannas over their faces."
"Why would Carlos kidnap your daughter?"
"Probably revenge. I did have his father put to death."
"It was justice, James. Alberto deserved to die for killing Sofia," Charles said with anger.
James nodded. "I think it was also Carlos that shot me. He wanted to either kill me or slow me down. Now I cant look for my daughter."
"Ill help you, James. I know where the old Garcias place is."
"Thank you. Well, thanks for your time. Ill let you get back to your work" James shook Charles hand.
James walked out the stables with a new feeling of hope. With Charles help, he could possibly find Elizabeth, and maybe even bring her captors to justice.
To Be Continued
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