The sound of movement in the underbrush near me decided for me. Pulling up on the reins of my horse, I steered him towards the path as his ears pricked and twitched. He heard the same sound as I had. Patting his mane, I settled him down and reached for my shotgun. Sliding the double-barrel gun from its scabbard, I lay it across my lap and eased the hammers back on both barrels. The old side-by-side shotgun had gotten me out of many scrapes over the years.
Branches broke again—only closer now. I felt her tense up at the approaching sounds. “Easy girl,” I whispered.
Red Bell appeared from the shadows along the path. He was just as ugly as I remembered him. Sitting atop a blue Roan, he wore a worn hat pulled down low over his eyes. His jacket was torn and frayed at the edges.
“Evening, Red.” I greeted him quietly.
Startled, he turned to look over his shoulder. Spotting me, he spun the horse in the path to face me.
“I swore I’d kill you if I ever saw you again.”
He swallowed hard, looking at my shotgun. At this range, both barrels would take him off his horse and probably hit the horse too. Red backed his horse up a pace or two.
I shifted in my saddle, my shotgun never moving.
“Yeah, you could.” A toothy yellow grin appeared under his bushy black mustache. Red continued, “But then you’d never find her.” Red relaxed. He knew how his words affected me.
Red nodded yes as his old hat flopped with the sudden movement. “And Ray.”
“Rita said they were on the coast in San Jose.”
“You believed her?”
“Not entirely, but on this, I think she’s telling the truth.”
“So?” Red drew out the question.
“You know where Ray and Laura are?”
His head bobbed up and down again. “And you want to come with me.”
“I don’t think so.”
“You don’t? Without me, Carlos will shoot you on sight.”
“Carlos knows better than to try. He’d be dead before he cleared leather. You, on the other hand, are under arrest for murder and the robbery of the bank in San Jose.” I showed my badge with my free hand.
“You’re legal, eh?”
My turn to nod yes.
“What If I don’t come quietly?” His horse shifted around on the path. My shotgun followed him.
The sound of my shotgun echoed through the woods. Red fell from his horse, gun in his hand. He knew better than to try to beat a leveled gun, but he tried anyway.
I settled my horse down and headed down the path that led to the coast. Going home wasn’t an option now.