Your Logo Here


Home



  When Trouble Finds You 

By Ruby

 

The seven weary riders made their way along the path with the sun just rising on a new day, they were on their way back to Four Corners from escorting prisoners to the sheriff in Julestown. 

 

The men were tired and pushing hard for home.  Escorting prisoners was on the bottom of the list for any of the seven peacekeepers, even if it did get them out of town for a while.  As they were making their way over a ridge the sight of cattle roaming free caught their attention.

 

"Some mighty fine looking animals to be let roamin free," Vin said looking suspiciously to Chris.

 

"Yep, suppose we should check things out," Chris said only loud enough for Vin to hear before he broke into a gallop and headed for the small herd.

 

"What's he doin Vin?" Buck said with annoyance in his voice.

 

"Goin to check things out," Vin replied taking off in the same direction as Chris.

 

"Now where's Vin goin?" Buck yelled.

 

"Well Mr. Wilmington, it appears Mr. Tanner as well is checking on the situation," Ezra said while brushing dust off the sleeves of his jacket.

 

"Hell Ezra I can see that.  Its just cattle. I don't see what needs checkin' out," Buck said looking at the remaining four men.

 

"It does seem strange they're out here with no one tendin' do um," Nathan said.

 

"Yeah well let's go check things out so we can keep on headin' home.  I got me a hankering for a beer and some personal attention from Miss Sally," Buck said wagglin his eyebrows.

 

They all chuckled and joined Buck in riding the distance to catch up with Chris and Vin who were now in the middle of discussing the animals they had just came across.

 

"Judgin' from the tracks it looks like they came from the east," Vin said.

 

"Vin, why don't you ride ahead a ways and see if you come across anything or anyone," Chris said with his eyes on the animals.  He had a feeling in his gut that told him there was more to this than just a few loose cattle.

 

Vin nodded to Chris in understanding and road off in the direction he believed the cattle came from.

 

"JD, you ride with him," Chris said firmly.

 

"Ok," was all the reply JD gave.  JD could tell by Chris's voice it wasn't the time for him to be asking all sorts of questions.  He learned by now that when Chris got that feeling it usually was justified.

 

"Mr. Larabee, am I too assume you feel foul play may be involved in these animals escape?" Ezra asked what everyone was thinking.

 

"Yes," was all the answer the black clad leader gave his men.

 

"Aw Chris.  A rancher's fence probabley just needs mendin' and they got loose over night.  I'm sure Vin's gonna come across some rancher looking for them soon enough.  If we don't get movin' we're not gonna' be back inta town tonight," Buck said annoyed.

 

"I think Chris is right Buck.  This needs checkin into," Josiah said backing Chris up. 

 

Josiah didn't know much about ranching, but he could tell these were well looked after animals and the man that owned them wouldn't be careless enough to let them go wondering off.

 

After twenty minutes had passed Vin and JD could be seen coming back over the ridge.  They were in a fast gallop and looked like they'd found something. Chris and the others came to attention immediately. 

 

"What did ya find?" Chris asked looking up at Vin to try and read his expression.

 

"We found a ranch, looked pretty deserted.  Thought it best to come and get ya' incase of trouble," Vin said while scanning the outlining area.

 

"Let's get goin' then and check this ranch out," Chris said quickly mounting his horse.

 

They all noticed immediately what Vin meant.  The ranch wasn't huge, but at this time of morning someone would be up and about tending to chores and the animals.  It was quiet, too quiet.

 

"JD, Buck you go check out the bunk house.  Josiah, Nathan the barn.  Vin, Ezra you're comin' with me.  Were gonna' check the house," Chris said dismounting and headed up the steps to the front door.  The men all went in their designated directions, Vin and Ezra joining Chris on the front porch.

 

"Seems a might strange no one came to welcome u," Vin said looking around as if willing someone to appear.

 

"Well then let us introduce ourselves gentleman," Ezra said taking a step to the door and knocking.

 

No answer. He knocked again with still no reply.

 

"Try the door Ezra," Vin said from behind him.

 

Ezra did and not to any of the men's surprise it was unlocked.

 

They made their way into the cozy ranch home and immediately the stench hit their senses.  They quickly exited the house.

 

"Ezra go get Nathan," Chris said leaning against the porch railing taking in deep breaths.

 

"Mr. Larabee, from the odor emanating from the house I hardly believe Mr. Jackson's services will be required," Ezra said with a sad tone to his voice.

 

"Just get him Ezra!" Chris shouted.

 

In a matter of moments Ezra returned with Josiah and Nathan.  The five men with covered mouths and noses reentered the home.  Vin was the one to make the gruesome discovery.  A man and woman were found shot dead in the bedroom.  He called for Nathan, who was able to surmise from the body temperatures, and odor that they had probably been dead going on two days.

 

The men quickly scanned the rest of the house and found no evidence of any other victims and they quickly made there way back out onto the porch.

 

After a few moments of silence from the men they heard a yell coming from the bunkhouse.  It was Buck. They watched as a little girl no older than four or five came running out with Buck and JD on her tale. Vin quickly jumped off the porch and intercepted the girl's escape.  He scooped her up as she frantically tried to break free of his hold on her.

 

"Hold on now.  We don't want to hurt ya," Vin said having a hard time keeping his grip on the frightened child.

 

Buck and JD came running over and joined Vin as the others joined them from the porch.

 

"We found her hidin' under one of the beds.  We tried to calm her down, but she took off runnin'," Buck said.

 

"You think she saw what happened to her parents?" Nathan asked horrified.

 

"I believe from the girls state that would be a correct assumption Mr. Jackson," Ezra said as he took a step towards the frightened child and put his hand on her head and gently ran it over her hair in a soothing motion.  Within a matter of a few seconds she stopped fighting Vin and looked at Ezra.

 

"My dear child we won't hurt you," Ezra said with his heart breaking at the look of shear terror he saw in the little girls eyes.

 

She didn't say a word.  Vin slowly let her go and they all watched as she took a step towards Ezra and buried her face in his leg and sobbed.  He bent at the waist and picked the girl up, he held her to him as she buried her face in the knap of his neck.

 

"What's going on Chris? Did you find anything in the house?" Buck asked finally able to break his gaze from Ezra and the little girl. 

 

"We think we found her parents," Chris answered, just as transfixed by the man holding the child as everyone present.

 

"I take it that it's not good," Buck said.

 

Chris just shook his head answering what Buck had already guessed.

 

"Chris, what do you think happened here?" JD asked with a lump in his throat.

 

"I don't know JD, but we're not leavin' until we find out," Chris answered before he walked off for a moment alone; the situation bringing back his own families murder.

 

After a few minutes Chris gave orders.

 

Ezra and Nathan took the child into the bunkhouse to see if they could check her for injuries. Buck and JD started digging graves.  They planned to bury the couple after Nathan took notes on the injuries.  If the law ever showed up it would be good to have.  Josiah started a fire in the stove of the bunkhouse; he figured a pot of coffee would do good right about now. Chris and Vin took the first watch.

 

~~7~~

 

 

The four women stood in silence as they looked down on the ranch.  Night had arrived, but with the full moon they had enough light to see the smoke coming from the stove in the bunkhouse and the horses tied near the coral that was located between the bunkhouse and the barn.

 

"I'm going in alone," Jules whispered to her three friends.

 

"I don't think that's a smart idea," Kate whispered while looking in her spyglass.

 

"Kate's right, we are going in together," Josie chimed in.

 

"No!  I'm not taking the risk of you getting caught.  For all we know that's Morgan's men down there," Jules whispered angrily while making eye contact with each of the woman.

 

"I'm counting seven horses Jules," Kate said while scanning the outlining area of the ranch for lookouts.

 

"I don't care if there's twenty men, I go in alone. They'll see four coming in before they see one.  Besides if they catch all of us there will be no one to get Amelia out," she said while looking at Max. 

 

"What?" Max defensively asked while looking up with tears in her eyes.

 

"Max I'm comin' back.  I need you to be strong. We get Amelia and we head for Mexico.  Morgan won't follow us there.  This is it, one last time Max.  For Amelia," Jules said while grabbing her friend's hand.

 

"Ok, for Amelia.  Just promise you won't do anything stupid Jules," Max said while wiping the tears from her eyes.

 

"Hell, you're talking about Jules.  Of course she's gonna' do something stupid, but she always gets out of it," Josie said putting her hand on top of Jules and Max's

 

"And that's why we should be goin' in with her," Kate said putting her spyglass away.

 

"Trust me.  I'm coming back and I'm gonna' have Amelia with me.  I ain't leavin' with out her!" Jules said defiantly.

 

She used the word trust; if nothing else, that they did have for Jules.  The four women trusted each other with their lives.  They'd been through hell and back together and never once let each other down.  They were sisters in spirit and they were each other's family.

 

Kate looked at the three women and put her hand on top of theirs.

 

"For Amelia!" rang four soft voices.

 

~~7~~

 

Jules quietly made her way to the back of the bunkhouse, she stopped and hunched down to listen and see if she could make out anything coming from inside to give her an idea of who they were and if they had Amelia.  She glanced over to the main house and noticed there was no indication anyone was there.  She worried for Jane and Red, but right now her main concern was Amelia.  If these were Morgan's men and they had Amelia, he would be coming soon. 

 

She slowly made her way along the side of the building and as she was about to peek around the corner a voice gave an order.

 

"Drop it!" came a mans voice.

 

"Damn it!" Jules spat under her breath.

 

"I said drop it!" came the voice again this time she picked up a hint of an accent.

 

Jules raised her hands in the air and let her gun fall from her right hand to the ground.

 

"Now you're going to tell me your reason for sneaking around in the dark," the voice said sounding as if it were closer this time.

 

She turned her head slightly and caught the sight of the man out of the corner of her eye.  He didn't look like any of Morgan's men, but by now she figured he probably had hired hundreds of men she didn't know to track her and the girls down.

 

"Just passin through mister," she said

 

With a chuckle the man responded.

 

"Sneaking around in the dark with your gun pulled hardly qualifies as passing through.  What is your name?" he asked and this time she was sure he was a southern boy.

 

"Non of your business," she whispered hoping he took the bate.

 

He took a few steps closer before he responded

 

'Repeat yourself sir!" and with that comment Jules swung her left leg out to her side bent at the waist and brought her foot around to the back of the mans knee causing him to be thrown off balance.  She quickly spun around and before he knew what hit him she pounced and was on top of him with her knife pulled from her boot and brought it up to his neck.

 

"Well it appears you have me at somewhat of a disadvantage," he said noticing for the first time it was a woman not a young man as he had first suspected and a rather beautiful woman at that.

 

"Yes, I prefer to be the one in charge," she said huskily with a hint of flirtation.

 

"Well, there is no need for a weapon," he said while running his tongue along his lower lip.

 

Jules didn't miss this action and quickly pulled her eyes from his mouth, now was not the time for chitchat.

 

"Who are you working for?" she asked leaning back a bit.  Their faces were a bit to close for her comfort.

 

"I work for no one.  I am a peacekeeper from Four Corners and those are my associates in the bunk house, whom will be arriving shortly if I don't show myself," he said with a hint of a smile.

 

Jules thought for a minute.  She remembered hearing about these men.  She racked her brain trying to remember from whom and how many there were.

 

"How many associates?" she requested, watching his expression to see if he told the truth.

 

"Six," came a voice from behind her. 

 

"Now get off him!" a man in buckskins said from beside her.

 

Jules slowly took the knife from the mans neck.  Once it was safely away from his neck she was grabbed from behind and pulled off the southern man.

 

"Get your hands off me!" she spat trying to get free. 

 

"Hold still now I ain't gonna' hurt you none," the voice of the man holding her said.

 

"Mr. Wilmington let the lady go," Ezra said while standing and brushing the dirt from his clothing.

 

"Lady!" came a ring of voices.

 

With that the man holding Jules whirled her around and took off her hat.  As her blonde hair spilled out onto her shoulders a roar of laughter erupted from the man in front of her.

 

"I'll be dammed, you was takin' by a woman Ez," he said smacking his hand on his leg, not trying to stop his laughter.

 

"All right that's enough Buck!" came a loud voice from a man dressed in all black.

 

Even Jules jumped at this voice.  His tone and the authority it held reminded her of Morgan. The man laughing stopped and then the man in black turned his gaze back on her and spoke.

 

"Now your gonna' tell us what your doing here and what you know about the people that lived here," he said with a look that meant business.

 

"I'm not telling you a thing until I know Amelia is okay," she said with a defiant look trying not to let the men see she was scared of their obvious leader.

 

At the mention of the name Amelia the men all looked at each other with confused faces and then a look of registration hit the southerner.

 

"Are you speaking of the little girl?" Ezra asked looking at the bunkhouse and then back to Jules.

 

"Yes and if you harmed one hair on her beautiful head I will kill you!" she said looking at each of the men.

 

"Now hold on what kind of monsters do you take us for?" Buck asked with a hurt expression crossing his face.

 

"I assure you we never would harm a child," came the southern drawl.

 

She looked at each of the men trying to read them.  Every instinct she had said trust them, but her past reared it’s ugly head and she decided to keep her mouth closed, just then a familiar and welcomed voice broke the moment of silence.

 

"Put your hands where I can see um!"

 

Jules looked over to see the faces of her three friends. The three women quickly spread out and encircled the seven men and Jules.  Each woman had a gun in both hands. If not for the seriousness of the situation, Jules would have busted out laughing at the looks on the men's faces.

 

"Just how many of you are there?" Buck asked with a raised eyebrow.

 

"Enough now get them hands up!" Josie yelled.

 

"I'm going to get Amelia, you keep them covered," Jules said breaking into a run to the bunkhouse. 

 

When she entered she saw Amelia lying on a cot and she was sleeping like an angel.  Tears welled in Jules eyes, but she quickly brushed them away and scooped up her daughter.  With Amelia secured in her arms, Jules made her way back out to the group in the yard.

 

"What the hell is going on!" the man in black yelled at her.

 

"The child shouldn't be moved yet miss, she's still in shock," a man standing beside the leader said with what seemed to be concern in his voice.

 

"Are you a doctor?" she asked surprised.

 

"He's a healer," the young man spoke for the first time.

 

"Jules, these men said they don't work for Morgan," Max said looking at her friend.

 

"And you believe um?  Max… Kate… Josie?" Jules said scanning her friend's faces.

 

"I think we need to get out of here either way!" Kate said starting to back up from the men.

 

"Your right.  What did you do with Red and Jane?" Jules asked.

 

"You mean the couple in the house?" the leader asked.

 

"Yes, where are they?" Josie said eying him up.

 

The men all looked at each other worried how the woman would react when they told them the news on the couple they had found dead only this morning.

 

"Where are they?" Kate yelled, starting to get annoyed.

 

"We found them this morning, they um… they'd been shot," the man in buckskins said.

 

The women looked at each other.  They knew bringing Amelia here would put Red and Jane in danger, but they were more than willing to help the young women and they adored the child.  Jules fought back the tears that threatened to spill and spoke.

 

"We gotta ride girls!" she said while making her way to the men's horses. 

 

"What about Red and Jane?" Max looked at her in horror.

 

"Max they knew what taking in Amelia meant.  They would want us to keep going," Kate said while backing up and coming to stand beside Jules who was still holding a sleeping Amelia.

 

"Come on Max!" Josie yelled while imitating Kate's back step, joining her sister and Jules.

 

Max stood in horror for a few more seconds.  Red and Jane with the exception of her four friends were the last of any sense of family she had.  They had taken the four women in many years ago when they first ran from Morgan and hid them until Amelia was born.  They had put their lives on the line for them and had finally paid the ultimate price.  Another yell from Josie brought her out of her shock and she started towards her friends.

 

"You ladies aren't going to get very far you realize this?" the man in black spoke with arrogance and annoyance intertwined.

 

The man was right.

 

 As the women were mounting the horses shots rang out from the very ridge they'd been on not only an hour ago. 

 

 

The women quickly realized there was no way they'd safely ride out with the bullets flying from the ridge above them.  They quickly dismounted as the seven men came running, hunched over trying to avoid being shot.

 

"Get in the barn!" the man in black yelled to them

 

"We need to get out of here!" Kate yelled.

 

"It's not safe, you won't get out of here alive. Get in the barn!"  Buck yelled.

 

Jules looked down at Amelia and back up at the men knowing they were right.

 

"In the barn now!" she said making eye contact with her friends. 

 

As they all filed into the barn Chris started shouting orders to his men.

 

"Vin, Ezra, Buck; climb that ridge and take as many as you can.  The rest of us will stay here and protect the woman," Chris said while starting to make his way back out the door.

 

"Hey, we don't need you to protect us!" Josie said while pulling out her colts and starting to follow him towards the door.

 

"Stay here, we'll take care of this," JD said with a cocky smirk crossing his face.

 

"I don't think so kid!" Josie replied, making her way out the barn door with the rest of the men following.

 

Upon agreement Jules and Max stayed inside the barn with Amelia.

 

Kate quickly made her way along the outside of the barn and joined the three men making their climb up the ridge to their assailants.

 

 

 

The men protested immediately, but quickly realized they had underestimated the woman as she took out two of the men shooting at them.  Impressed with her skills they continued up the ridge and swiftly took out the rest of the men.

 

Vin, Ezra, and Buck were relieved to see that all ten men had been taken care of, but it did nothing but alarm Kate.

 

"We need to get back down to the barn.  Something's not right here," Kate said, wishing she had her spyglass with her. 

 

"What are you talkin' about?  We got em' all," Buck said with a smile.

 

"This isn't all of them, trust me mister," Kate said looking down at the fallen men.

 

"The names Buck and how do you know this?" Buck asked looking down at the barn where their remaining friends were.

 

"Because Morgan always sends more," she said meeting his eyes.

 

Vin and Ezra checked the men to see if any were still among the living. 

 

"Nope, Nathan won't be needed," Vin said walking over to join Buck and Kate.

 

"I suggest we return to the barn.  I believe the lady is correct," Ezra stated as a feeling of being watched washed over him.

 

The group of four agreed and hastily made their way back to the barn.

 

Once everyone was safely back in the barn and Chris was satisfied none of his men were hurt he let the women have it.

 

"Now, I don't care which one of you tells me what's goin' on here, but I want to know now!" he said trying to keep his voice under control not wanting to scare the child.

 

"Cowboy, we ain't telling you nothin'," Josie said not the least bit afraid of the man.

 

All the men present got smirks on their faces knowing Chris was about to blow over the comment the fiery little red head made.

 

Chris took the steps needed to close the distance between he and the redhead.  He looked down at her and with clenched teeth spoke, "Don't call me a cowboy!"

 

Josie just smiled not realizing her comment would elicit such a response from the criminally handsome man.

 

"All right that's it.  Let my sister alone and Josie keep your mouth shut!" Kate said coming to stand between the two that were facing off.

 

Chris took a step back from the young woman.

 

"I think you owe us an explanation. We just put our hides on the line for you," Vin said looking at the pretty blonde with curly hair. 

 

Max was completely mesmerized by the man and his blue eyes and she saw something that told her they could trust these men.  It was obviously by now they weren't working for Morgan.

 

"We didn't ask for your help.  We've done fine on our own so far," Kate said

 

Jules sat and watched, as the banter went back and forth not able to take it anymore.  She carefully handed Amelia to Max and stood walking to the middle of the group.

 

"Your right we owe you the truth," Jules said meeting the eyes of the handsome man she had the distinct fortune of sitting on not more than two hours ago.

 

"Please do tell miss…?" Ezra said hoping to get the striking woman's name.

 

"My name is Mrs. Juliana Morgan," she said letting the name sink in.

 

"Mrs. Morgan? As in this man Morgan you ladies are obviously running from?" Buck asked stunned.

 

"Yes. Charles Morgan is my husband and Amelia is our daughter," Jules said meeting the eyes of Kate who was giving her a look of support.  Kate, Josie and Max knew how hard it was for Jules to trust anyone other than themselves, especially men.

 

"The man trying to kill you is your husband?" JD asked not understanding.

 

"Yes.  Morgan has been chasing us for two years now.  We are on our way to Mexico where his power can't reach us," Jules said.

 

"His power, just who is your husband?" Josiah asked

 

"He's a wealthy rancher who has most of the lawman in Kansas on his payroll," Jules answered while pacing; she was starting to feel caged in.

 

"How do the rest of you fit into all this?" Vin asked looking to Max again.

 

"My sister and I met Max in a saloon in Kansas City.  We ran into a bit of trouble and Max helped break us from prison.  The three of us made our way south and got jobs working for a large spread, which happened to be owned by Morgan. We weren't there long before we met his wife Jules.  She was…" Kate looked at Jules and couldn't finish her sentence remembering how they found her.

 

"The bastard almost beat her to death one night and left her in a horse stall to die!" Josie said bitterly finishing the sentence for her sister.

 

The group was quiet for a minute and the men were all absorbing the information. 

 

"We took her to the servant quarters and we cleaned her up.  Morgan came looking for her the next day, he told us to take care of her until she was better and not to speak a word of it to anyone or he'd kill Jules and us.  Over those few weeks we took care of her and the four of us became very close.  Right before she was to return to him Jules found out she was pregnant," Kate said taking a deep breath remembering back to that day and the mix of emotions that took over her friend.

 

The men looked at the woman they stumbled on a few hours ago holding a knife to Ezra's neck and then to the child in Max's arms.

 

"Amelia was that child?" Ezra asked with sorrow in his eyes for the child and her mother, not able to even comprehend how scared the young woman must have been

 

"Yes, and there was no way I could return to Morgan," Jules said with rage in her voice.

 

"Max new some people and with their help we staged Jules death.  Made it look like she'd tried to escape and died in a stagecoach accident. It worked too, until two years ago.  One of Morgan's men came across us in Julestown.  He went directly to Morgan.  Morgan dug up the presumed body of his wife.  Missing from the body was the locket Jules never took off.  Morgan put it together and realized what we'd done. He's been tracking us ever since," Kate finished and came to stand beside Jules and took her hand.

 

"Does Morgan know about Amelia?" Chris asked

 

"I didn't think so, but he was here.  I know it was his men that killed Red and Jane," Jules said with anger in her voice.

 

"Chris I think we need to get back to town and wire the judge," Buck said with a very serious voice in place; one he rarely used.

 

"I agree with Mr. Wilmington.  We are targets here," Ezra said

 

"Where are your horses?" Chris questioned looking to Kate and Jules.

 

"At the top of the ridge," Kate answered.

 

"Vin and Buck take one of the woman with you and get their horses; then we head back to town," Chris ordered.

 

"I'll take them." Josie said not wasting anytime and headed out the barn door with Vin and Buck right behind her.

 

"Do you think we can trust these men?" Kate leaned in and whispered to Jules.

 

"Yes, yes I do," Jules, said.

 

"I sure hope your right or we're as good as dead," Kate said looking at the men and then Jules.

 

~~7~~

 

The group of seven men, four woman and the small child safely made their way to the small town of Four Corners without any sign of Morgan's men.  The seven peacekeepers felt the safest place to keep the women and the child was the church.  Word was immediately sent to Judge Travis and his response was that he was three days ride away and would set out immediately.  The judge new from past experience when the boys called on him it was always warranted. 

 

Nearly noon on the first full day in Four Corners found the woman well rested and sitting in the benches of the church contemplating the situation.

 

"I don't think we should wait on this judge, Jules," Josie said in a whisper to the three women.

 

"I agree, what if he finds out about our pasts.  Kate, Josie and I weren't exactly model citizens before we met you," Max said with worry showing on her pretty face.

 

"I don't think the men plan to tell that to the judge.  I believe their main concern is to rid us of Morgan," Jules said making eye contact with each of her friends.

 

"You really trust these men don't you Jules?" Kate chimed in not believing what she was hearing.

 

"Yes I do.  They put their lives on the line for us back at Red's, even after we held them at gunpoint.  I believe when they say this judge can help us," Jules said while looking over at Ezra who was holding Amelia is his lap and reading her a book; a smile lit up the child's face.

 

The women all followed Jules's gaze and a smile crept on to each of the their faces.  Amelia looked so happy with the gambler. 

 

"He's really good with her," Max said breaking the silence.

 

"Amelia told me they all were very kind to her after they found her hiding in the bunkhouse," Jules said with a knot in her throat.

 

"Doesn't sound like many men we've known," Max said taking Jules's hand.  She knew this was hard on Jules. 

 

"Nope and yet we find seven of them in one place," Kate said

 

"Not too bad on the eyes either," Josie said with a giggle.

 

All the woman joined the youngest in the giggle.  It felt good to laugh.  Something the woman hadn't done in a long time.  None of them spoke it, but they felt safe as well with these men.  Not enough to let their guards down completely.  Heaven knows that after everything they'd endured the last two years on the run from Morgan it has taught them not to trust anyone, for some reason though they all were throwing hazard to the wind with these seven men. 

 

"So…if this judge does help us.  What then?" Josie asked after they got through with their fit of laughter.

 

"What do you mean?" Kate asked, giving her sister a questioning look.

 

"I'm saying where we gonna' go?" Josie asked.

 

"Never gave it much thought," Jules said looking back over at her daughter and Ezra who were now talking both oblivious to anyone else in the room.

 

"Something tells me your gonna' have trouble prying Amelia from the dandy over there," Josie said not missing where Jules glanced after the question.

 

"Yeah," Jules said letting out a sigh. 

 

"Maybe we could stay…here?" Max said looking down at her feet.

 

"We know why you want to stay here Max.  You've got your eye on that tracker," Josie said teasingly.

 

"I most certainly do not!" Max said her southern belle accent emanating quite clearly.

 

The girls just laughed.

 

"You got it bad Maxamilliana," Kate said through her laugh.

 

Max just blushed and stole a quick gaze out the window at Vin who was in deep conversation with Chris and a smile crept on her face.

 

"Yeah, your right," she said meeting her friend's watchful eye.

 

"Nothing wrong with it Max.  Just means your human," Kate said her serious tone returning.

 

The women's moment of bliss was extinguished when Buck came blasting through the church doors.

 

"We got company!" he bellowed

 

Ezra gently lifted Amelia off his lap and stood.

 

"How many Buck?" Ezra asked.

 

"About twenty," Buck said looking over at Josie and Kate who were making their way over to the two men.

 

"Now Miss Kate you and your sister are stayin' put," Buck said knowing already they were planning on joining in the fight.

 

"Twenty to seven don't sound right and you know we can fight Buck," she said with concern and not the hostility she had shown towards them the last time they told her to stay put.

 

"Believe me, we've handled more than this before.  I appreciate your concern though," Buck said with flirtation in his voice.

 

"Buck's right.  If this is Morgan's men and they see one of you ladies, I can only hazard a guess what the outcome would be," Ezra said while looking over to Jules who was now holding Amelia.

 

Kate looked from the men to Josie and then back at Jules who shook her head in agreement with Ezra and Buck.

 

"We'll stay here, but if it even looks like you all need help, we come running.  You got me?" Kate said making eye contact with Buck who winked at her.

 

"Agreed," Ezra said and started to follow Buck out of the church.

 

Amelia quickly jumped from her mother's arms and ran after the gambler.

 

"Ezra! Ezra!" The child yelled.

 

Ezra turned and bent his knees so he was at eye level with the child. She wrapped her arms around his neck leaning in and planting a kiss on his cheek.

 

"Thank you Miss Amelia," he said in happy surprise and as he stood he looked at Jules; they shared an intimate gaze and than Ezra was out the door.

 

The woman went to the doorway and watched as the seven men met at the center of town and conversed quickly and then split each going to their designated spot.  As the sound of hooves could be heard the woman quickly shut the door. 

 

Jules hid Amelia under one of the pews and joined the other woman at the window and they watched intensely as the gun battle ensued.  It seemed to be about over when Josie caught a glimpse of three men on the roof of a building and they're aim was clearly intended on the leader in black, who was not aware of them.  Josie looked to her sister and two friends as she pulled out her colts and before they could stop her she was out the door. Her quick exit from the church was not noticed by the men on the roof, but by a man in the shadows watching the fight hoping for a lead as to where the woman were and here it was.  He waited until Josie passed his hiding spot and then he made his way around the back of the church. 

 

Josie took out one of the men on the roof before she safely made her way to the side of Chris.

 

"What the hell are you doing here?" he yelled as she hunched down beside him.

 

"Savin' your hide!" she yelled back and pointed to the roof where the remaining two men were.

 

Chris looked to where she pointed and in a matter of seconds the men on the roof were no longer a worry.

 

Chris looked over to Josie with a half smile "Thanks."

 

Josie shrugged her shoulders and returned the smile. "Welcome."

 

They were quickly pulled from their moment when Vin's voice could be heard yelling.

 

"Nathan, Buck's been hit!"

 

Hearing that Chris quickly jumped up, he and Josie made their way to where Buck was sitting. Buck had been grazed on the arm and was going to be fine.

 

Kate who had been watching from the church quickly made her way to Buck as well. 

 

The man watching the scene from around the side of the church took this as his chance.  With the feisty redheaded sisters out of the way he'd have no problem getting to his wife now.

 

He quickly made his way in the back entrance of the church and found his wife, the southern woman, and a small child standing at the doorway of the church watching the scene out on the street.

 

Jules heard the creek on the floor and she quickly grabbed Amelia by the shoulders and carefully pushed her out the front door of the church and then she yelled to Max.

 

"Take Amelia, go, go!" she shouted as she turned around coming face to face with her husband for the first time since he came to her bedside the day after he almost beat her to death five years ago.

 

Max did as she was told and scooped up Amelia and ran as quickly as she could to the crowd that was gathering around Buck. 

 

Josie saw her coming and quickly ran to meet them. "Max what are doing?"

 

"He's here, Morgan is in the church.  He has Jules!" she screamed

 

Josie looked in horror at the church and then turned and yelled to Kate who was helping Nathan talk Buck into going to his clinic.

 

"Kate he's here!" Josie whaled getting everyone's attention.

 

Kate didn't need for Josie to tell her who.  Only one man would cause her sister that much alarm.

 

"Who, who's here?" Chris asked coming to Josie with Kate, Ezra and Vin joining him.

 

"Morgan, he's in the church with Jules," Max said.

 

~~7~~

 

Jules face paled as she set eyes on her husband.  He had a smirk on his face as he took a few steps closer to her and his gun aimed at her heart.

 

"You look as beautiful as ever my princess," he said, as his eyes looked her up and down.

 

"Your disgusting as ever!" she said with hate clearly reputed in her voice.

 

Morgan lost his smile and grabbed her by the shoulder.

 

"Now you're going to be a good wife and quietly accompany me to my horse.  If you make a sound I'll send the rest of my men in here and turn this little Berg into a ghost town. You hear me darlin'?" he said while poking the gun into her chest.

 

Jules shook her head in understanding, knowing he meant every word.

 

She allowed him to take her out the back of the church, as they made their way around the side Jules could see Max and Amelia standing with Josie and Kate surrounded by most of the peacekeepers.  Knowing Amelia was safe and that the rest of Morgan's men must be out of sight of the town or they would have been here by now to finish what the first group set out to do, she made her move.

 

Morgan was walking behind her and had the gun in her back.  Jules knew he wouldn't risk shooting her and alarming the men, so she took a gamble and stopped dead in her tracks and turned to face him.

 

"You really are a coward Charles!'' she hissed.

 

He did just what she was hoping he would and smacked her across the face with his left hand.  As her head snapped to her left she grabbed for the gun and he was taken off balance.  They wrestled on the ground for a few seconds before she was able to get her own gun unholstered and pointed it in his stomach.

 

"Now darling… you're going to listen to me!" she said with a grin on her face.

 

Jules quickly stood and kicked his gun far enough away that he'd never be able to get to it in time.

 

She smirked at him as he sat on the ground speechless.  By this point the group that had been headed to the front door of the church was standing behind Jules in aw.

 

"You underestimated me Charles.  You always did, " Jules spoke.

 

"You were nothing when I found you.  I turned you into a lady and you repaid me by running away!" he yelled.

 

"Get on your feet!" Chris yelled from behind Jules.

 

"These men can't save you Juliana.  You know the power I have," he said with a smirk on his face as he stood.

 

"Not if you're dead," Jules said as she cocked the gun.

 

"You don't have what it takes my dear," Morgan said.

 

"Five years ago you would have been right Charles, but I'm not that scared young girl anymore," she answered loosing her smirk.

 

Morgan lost his smile and lunged for Jules and the gun went off. Kate and Josie yelled Jules name at the same time and quickly went to her.

 

Kate and Josie pulled Morgan off of Jules as she laid there in shock.

 

"He's dead Jules.  He's dead.  It's over," Kate said looking into Jules eyes.

 

With that statement Jules let the years of pent up tears go as Josie and Kate held her and comforted her.

 

~~7~~

 

A few days later Judge Travis made his way into town.  Chris and the men were there to greet him as he exited the stage and after a quick visit with Mary and Billy, Travis joined them in the corner of the saloon and listened to the tale. 

 

The men only told the judge about Charles Morgan, letting out what they knew of Josie, Kate, and Max's pasts.  They felt the girls had suffered plenty for whatever deeds happened prior to meeting Morgan and his young bride. 

 

It didn't take the judge long to decide the women were innocent and that Jules shooting of her husband had been in self-defense. 

 

Judge Travis also took what names the women could give him of the lawmen that had been on Morgan's payroll and had done his bidding.  Judge Travis planned to see that these men were punished for the misuse of their badges.

 

As Jules stood and watched Amelia and Billy play ball with Ezra and Buck beside the church, her three friends came to stand beside her.

 

The women stood in silence for a while until Josie finally spoke.

 

"So…what now?" she said as the four woman got smiles on their faces.

 

"I was thinking it would be good for Amelia to stay in one place for awhile," Jules said, never taking her eyes off the children and the two men playing.

 

"Do you think this town can handle us?" Kate asked.

 

In unison the four women said,  "Nope," Causing them to break into a fit of laughter.

 

 

~The End~