printed copy

Blood Bond: A Hundred Ways To Kill #16

J.A. Johnstone, William W. Johnstone

ISBN 9780786028139
Publish Date 11/6/2012
Format Paperback
Categories Western, Pinnacle, Blood Bond, Johnstone Series
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The Greatest Western Writers Of The 21st Century

Young Matt Bodine and Sam Two Wolves. One is a rancher’s son. The other a Half Breed outcast. To kill one you’d have to kill them both. And that would take an army—and a whole lot of luck...

A Hundred Ways To Kill…And Twice As Many Ways To Die

Heading west to San Diego some honest pilgrims paid ten men good money to keep their wagon train safe. Soon word comes to Tombstone, where Matt Bodine and Sam Two Wolves are wearing out their welcome gambling with Wyatt Earp. The wagon train’s guards turned against their charges and headed off to Mexico with six young pioneer girls captive. Everyone knows the tortures of the damned that await the girls in the hellholes south of the border. But only Matt and Sam will do something about it.

But it’s going to take more than their bravery and shooting skills to rescue those girls from the merciless white slavers. On the way to Mexico Matt and Sam ride into a war party of Apaches. They’ll be facing outlaws and furious Apaches at the same time. For two blood brothers, the idea is to rescue those girls and blast their way North to freedom—no matter how many bullets it takes, or how many guns are shooting back...

Chapter One In September 1880, some of the most dangerous men in Tombstone, Arizona—meaning some of the most dangerous men in the world—undertook a desperate mission of mercy into Mexico. It began in Cactus Patch, a small town some miles northeast of Tombstone.

Too much whiskey, too much smoke in the air, too many losing hands of poker: Bob Farr had had enough of all three. He pushed his chair back from the card table and stood up. Three men remained seated: Joe Spooner, Don Brown, and Lee Lindsey.

“Where you goin’, Bob?” Joe Spooner asked.

“Get me some air,” Farr said.

“Going back to the ranch?”

“No, just stepping outside to clear my head. Maybe a break will change my luck.”

It was a friendly game of poker. The four men had been playing for small stakes. But even small stakes are big when you don’t have much money.

Ranch hands like Bob Farr and the others worked hard for low wages.

Bob Farr went to the front entrance of Shorty Kirk’s small saloon. He pushed open one of the double doors, went outside. He was in his early twenties, of medium height, slim, wiry. Farr was a clean-lined, clean-cut young fellow.

He felt slightly sick at his stomach. The whiskey wasn’t sitting right, but then, Shorty Kirk’s whiskey was none too good.

A fan of murky yellow light shone out through the saloon doorway, spilling across the ground. A line of horses was tied up at the hitching post at the front of the building. Bob stepped to the side, away from the door. Sweat misted his face. He leaned against the wall, tilting his head back, closing his eyes.

The earth moved beneath him. He had the spins. He opened his eyes, straightening up. That worked a little better for him. Not much, but better. Bob rubbed his face, trying to restore some feeling to it. He wiped his sweaty palms off on his jeans.

It was about ten o’clock. The night air was fresh after the smoky stuffiness of the saloon. Bob Farr breathed deeply, filling his lungs with it. After a while, the queasiness went away.

Somewhere across the street, a dog barked. Bob looked around. Cactus Patch was a mighty small town, more of a crossroads with a handful of buildings scattered around it. Some were adobe, others wooden frame, log cabin, or sod dugout.

Cactus Patch lay on a shelf at the foot of the west slope of a mountain overlooking Sulphur Spring Valley in Pima County, southwest Arizona Territory. Its nearest neighbor was Tombstone, whose silver- rich earth had birthed a roaring mining boomtown.

Unlike many villages and settlements which had lately sprung up around Tombstone, Cactus Patch long predated the silver strike. A freshwater spring sited near a mountain pass brought it into being decades earlier, a vital part of the area’s traditional cattle- and sheep-raising culture.

It featured a trading post, café, and two saloons, largely serving the small ranches in the gorges and side canyons honeycombing the foothills. It survived, but never flourished. Its growth was held in check by the Apaches, a dread power in the land until recent years, and still a threat.

A three-quarter moon hung midway between the eastern horizon and the zenith. The big, bright, orange-yellow September moon sailed through thin, hazy clouds.

Shops and stores were closed, dark, as were most of the dwellings. Cactus Patch folk were early risers, up and doing well before dawn. Inside the saloon were a handful of men—the poker players and a few solitary drinkers.

The street was bright where moonlight shone down on it; shadows were black dark. Stray breezes lifted off the western flat, blowing through the pass.

A girl ran out of an alley into the middle of street. She stopped, looking around, as if uncertain of which way to turn.

She was young, slim, with gently rounded curves outlined against a thin dress. Long pale hair streamed down her back. She breathed hard, panting, gasping.

She seemed played out. She lost her footing, tripped, and fell sprawling into the street, in a tangle of arms and legs. The ground was hard, stony. She cried out.

She raised herself up, looking back the way she had come, toward the alley on the east side of the street. Moonbeams fell on her, lighting her up in a silver wash. She looked about fifteen. Her face was the face of fear, dark eyes wide and staring, mouth gaping. She seemed unaware of Bob Farr’s presence.

There were few females in Cactus Patch, and even fewer young, good-looking ones. Bob knew them all by sight, and this wasn’t one of them. She was a stranger.

Where had she come from? This was hard country, thinly populated, and no place for young women to be traveling alone by night. Or in the daytime, either.

The girl rose, swaying, stumbling. Her thin dress was torn in more than a few places and showed a lot of leg: long, slender calves and rounded thighs.

A man came out of the alley, rushing to her. She gathered herself to run, but he was on her before she could make a break.

He was a big man, solid, thick bodied, a full- grown adult. Even by moonlight you could see he was some twenty years her senior. Mean faced, too.

He wore a white five-gallon hat, black vest over light-colored shirt, and chaps over denims. Shirtsleeves were rolled up past the elbows, exposing brawny forearms. A belt gun was holstered low on his right side, his spurred boots showed sharp- pointed toes. A short dog whip hung by a thong from his left wrist.

He caught the girl by the arm, causing her to cry out in pain. She struggled to break free. He pulled her back, lifting her off her feet and flinging her to the ground. He loomed menacingly over her, his shadow falling across her.

“Got ya, you blamed hellion! Give me a good hard run across half the county,” he said, snarling. “No little bit of a gal gives Quirt Fane the slip! I’ll learn ya what happens to runners—”

He lashed out at her with the short, thin whip, the lash curling around the curve of her hip. She shrieked, her voice weak, quavery. “Help! Help me, somebody, please—”

He slipped his hand free of the short whip’s looped thong and clubbed the girl with the pommel’s knobbed end, clipping her neatly behind an ear. The move, brutally efficient, was carried out with smooth, practiced ease. The girl fell unconscious.

Generally, on the frontier or elsewhere, it is wisdom not to interfere between a man and a woman. Bob Farr had once seen a saloon girl fly into a fury, trying to claw the eyes out of a deputy who had just cold-cocked the pimp-husband who’d been slapping her silly, slamming her with brutal open-handed blows that rocked her head from side to side, leaving her face swollen, and red-raw. It had been a lesson to Bob about the virtue of minding one’s own business.

But a decent, red-blooded young fellow such as he could only stand for so much.

This was no lovers’ quarrel, nor even some particularly fierce example of harsh family discipline. This was way out of line. Something was wrong here—bad wrong.

Bob would have acted sooner if he hadn’t been more than a little drunk. And from the time the girl had run into view and the man clubbed her down, everything happened so fast.

Quirt Fane stood with his back to him. Bob pushed off from the wall, starting forward. He moved quickly, long striding, light-footed. He was on the man before the other was aware of his presence.

The big hombre outweighed Bob Farr by fifty, sixty pounds. Bob grabbed him by the shoulder hard and spun him around. His right fist came up from hip level, striking out.

Knobby knuckles connected with the point of Quirt Fane’s chin, a powerful blow that landed right on the button with an audible thud. Quirt rocked back on his heels, knocked flat to the dirt street. The whip fell from his hand, the hat from his head.

Quirt sat up, blood trickling from the corner of a split, now-fat lip. He shook his head to clear it.

The girl stirred, moaning as if in the throes of a bad dream.

Quirt remembered his gun and reached for it. Bob Farr stood over him, hand resting on the butt of a holstered gun. “Try it,” he said.

Quirt Fane thought better of it. Instead, he raised the hand to his swollen jaw, rubbing it. “Back off, cowboy.”

“Like hell!” Bob said.

“You don’t know what you’re mixing into,” Quirt said warningly, voice thick with menace. “You tell me,” Bob suggested.

“You’re in over your head. Get out while you still can.”

“You’re the one who’s flat on his ass on the street.”

“Lucky punch. You hit me when I wasn’t looking.”

“A mite different from beating up some pore little ol’ girl, ain’t it?”

“What’s it to you? She’s my woman. Don’t go mixing in what don’t concern you.”

“Funny, she don’t seem willing,” Bob pressed.

“Fool gal gets some crazy notions sometimes. I got to knock sense into her,” Quirt said. “Maybe you need some sense knocked into you.”

“And you’re the one who’s gonna do it, huh?” “Looks like.”

“You figured wrong, sonny. Dead wrong.” Fane

then spoke as if to someone behind Bob Farr: “Take him, Dorado!”

Bob smiled thinly, with contempt. “That dodge’s got whiskers—”

He was brought up short by the sound of a gun hammer clicking into place. The soft scuff of shoe leather against street grit sounded behind him.

“You’re covered, amigo,” a voice said, with a thick accent.

Bob was mousetrapped and knew it. Quirt wasn’t alone; he had a sideman who had come up through the alley. Quirt was grinning now, an ugly grin that did not bode well for Bob Farr.

Bob stepped back and to the side, looking behind him.

Quirt’s sideman stood in the mouth of the alley: Dorado.

A black bolero hat topped a raw-boned, hollow- eyed face. The hat had a gold-colored hatband. Black hair parted in the middle fell to jawline length. He had dark shiny eyes, high cheekbones, and a mustache with the ends turned down framing the mouth.

A gun held at hip height was leveled on Bob Farr, a golden gun. It gleamed with an unearthly glow in the moonlight.

It was El Dorado, “the Golden Man,” a Mexican bandit with a golden pistol. Bob had heard of him. Who hadn’t? A gold-crazy bandido who decked himself out in gold ornaments: earrings, rings, bolo tie holder, belt buckle. And a golden gun—solid gold.

“Where are the horses?” Quirt Fane asked.

“Tied to a tree in back of the buildings,” Dorado said. He looked down at the girl sprawled motionless in the street. “What happened to her?”

“She’s all right. She started hollering. I had to quiet her.”

“You can carry her, too.”

Quirt picked himself up, dusted himself off. He slipped the whip handle thong around his left wrist, and pulled on his hat.

“And this one?” Dorado asked, indicating Bob Farr with a lazy wag of his gun.

“I’ll take care of him myself,” Quirt said ominously.

A man came out of the saloon: Pace Hutchins, one of regulars. “Coming back in, Bob? Hey!

What’s going on here—?”

Pace fumbled with his gun. Dorado fired first, the blast shattering the stillness of the night. Pace crumpled, falling backwards through the swinging doors into the saloon.

Bob Farr saw his chance and took it. A slim chance, a long shot, but better than nothing. His hand plunged for his gun.

Quirt lashed out with the whip, striking Bob across the face, going for his eyes. Bob turned his head away, raising his left arm to ward off the blow.

The girl was awake. Maybe she’d just come to, or maybe she’d been shamming for a while, playing possum. She jumped up and ran, angling across the street.

Bob Farr drew. Dorado shot him in the back. Bob staggered forward. Quirt’s gun was in his hand. He fired into Bob’s middle at point-blank range. Bob folded, dropping.

About J.A. Johnstone:

Being the all around assistant, typist, researcher, and fact checker to one of the most popular western authors of all time, J.A. Johnstone learned from the master, Uncle William W. Johnstone.

Bill, as he preferred to be called, began tutoring J.A. at an early age. After-school hours were often spent retyping manuscripts or researching his massive American Western History library as well as the more modern wars and conflicts. J.A. worked hard—and learned.

“Every day with Bill was an adventure story in itself. Bill taught me all he could about the art of storytelling and creating believable characters. ‘Keep the historical facts accurate,’ he would say. ‘Remember the readers, and as your grandfather once told me, I am telling you now: be the best J.A. Johnstone you can be.’”


About William W. Johnstone:

Just to give you a brief rundown on who William W. Johnstone is, here are the basic facts. He was born in Southern Missouri, the youngest of four kids. His father was a minister and his mother was a schoolteacher.

He quit school when he was fifteen and joined a carnival after getting kicked out of the FFL (for being underage), but he went back and finished high school in 1957. After that he worked as a deputy sheriff, did a hitch in the army, came back and went into radio broadcasting, where he worked for sixteen years.

Johnstone started writing in 1970, but he didn't get published until late 1979. He has written almost a hundred books including the best-selling Ashes series and the Mountain Man series. He began writing full-time in the early 1980s and hasn't stopped since. His first published book was THE DEVIL'S KISS and his favorite, so far, is THE LAST OF THE DOG TEAM.


Ashes
Blood Bond
Code Name
Dog Team
Eagles
Family Jensen
First Mountain Man
Last Gunfighter
Last Mountain Man
Loner
Luke Jensen, Bounty Hunter
MacCallister
Matt Jensen
Phoenix Rising
Savage Texas
Sidewinders
Town Called Fury
Trail West


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