Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.
Part 3 can be found here.
Part 4 can be found here.
Part 5 can be found here.
Part 6 can be found here.
Part 7 can be found here.
Part 8 can be found here.
Part 9 can be found here.
* * * * *
Lana gripped Caleb’s arm, her nails digging through his shirt sleeve, fear rising in her throat. She ran her eyes over the area, trying to find the men Tom had brought with him; but they had disappeared into the landscape as if they were not there.
“How long have we got?”
The question came from Caleb, and Lana looked intently at the Sherriff.
“Not long. You need to go back inside and make it look as if you have no idea what is going on. Our best chance to end this is to take them by surprise and incapacitate as many as possible.” He turned to look at Jesse, Nick and Josh. “Get yourselves inside someplace where you have a good line of sight and can get a clear shot.”
The three men nodded and moved away as Tom looked back at Caleb.
“How many of them are there?” Caleb asked the lawman.
“Eight were counted riding out of town. They may have picked up more since then. We had reports of their being as many as twelve when they were raiding up north.”
Lana’s thoughts went to the children. She gave Caleb’s arm one more squeeze before turning to go back inside.
When Caleb went in a few minutes later, she had gathered the youngsters together and settled them on the floor in the middle of the house with their plates of food, as if they were having a picnic.
He stood just inside the door, watching her reassure them, and felt his love for her bloom in his heart. How he loved that woman!
He moved to where his rifles hung on the wall, praying quickly for a safe outcome to the day, for the protection of each man that had ridden out to help protect his family. He didn’t want their families to have to go on without them because they chose to help protect his.
When the door swung open a few seconds later, Caleb pulled his Colt from its holster, whirling around at the same time. Tom stood, hands raised high, just inside.
“Whoa, Caleb, it’s just me.” Tom chuckled nervously as Caleb settled the revolver back at his hip. “Remind me to never take you on in a gun fight.” He reached behind him and shut the door, sliding the bolt into place, smiling slightly at the younger man.
Caleb jutted his chin and shrugged in apology. “Sorry,” he mumbled.
The two men looked across the room at each other, silence filling the house; then stiffened as the sound of approaching horses filled the small space.
“Here they come,” Tom pointed out, moving to one of the windows to peer between the checked curtains.
Lana spoke quietly to the children, then moved to where Caleb was lifting down the rifles. She reached out and took the Sharps from him, pulling it from his fingers when he tried to hang on to it.
“If you remember, I could outshoot you when we were children.”
Caleb grinned at her and nodded in agreement before reaching for the cartridges that lay in a box nearby.
When shots rang out suddenly from outside, they moved quickly to the windows.
A bullet shattered a window at the front of the house and thudded into the wall over the fireplace. Lana looked from it to the children and moved quickly, motioning for them to follow her.
She led them into the bedroom and helped them crawl into her wardrobe, nestling them beneath her dresses.
With an admonition to be as quiet as possible, she took up a position in the doorway where she could see into all three bedrooms.
Shots continued to ring out, bringing with them an anxiety that rose with each one. When a shadow filled the window of the girls’ room, she stiffened, raising the rifle and pointing it into the room.
Part 11 can be found here.
Part 12 can be found here.
* * * * *
© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2012