They thought running them off would be easy. One was a dude from the East, softened by easy living. The other was no more than white trash. They discovered Lon didn’t kill any easier than Chancy, and they both fought back, aided by two men those of the valley believed to be no more than legends. The Indians called them Lance and Knife. As well as the sons discovering why, so do their enemies when a family once torn apart unite to make war.
#1 He looked to be no more than a man coming in from the cold in search of a warm place to sleep. Saddlebags and blanket roll were over his left shoulder, and a rifle was in his left hand. Both hands were covered with gloves against the bitter cold outside. To hesitate before entering a strange room was normal. The next wasn’t. His glance fell on Catherine, and her expression of hatred held his attention.
Lars jumped to his feet, turning over his chair, and yelled. The room exploded. The roar of multiple gunshots was deafening, and the man was flung back out the door by force of the slugs tearing into his body.“I got him,” Tim yelled joyously, too enthralled to yet realize he was not the only one who had fired.
“One of us did,” Quirt said dryly.
“That was murder!” Lars shouted in rage. He lunged forward and drew up short when Quirt turned his gun on him.
“He went for his gun,” Quirt said in quiet malice. “We all saw his hand drop. You back off and take care of the lady.”
Lars shook with rage and fear. “He never moved,” he retorted, wanting to beat Quirt to death but knew if he tried, he would be killed. Catherine pulled him back, and, though he hated himself for his fear in facing the four men, he went with her gentle pressure.“Who was it?” she whispered.
“Clyde Fetchen,” Tim shouted. “And I got him.”
“You don’t know if it was Clyde. You neveBuy r took the time to find out,” Lars raged helplessly.
Quirt looked at Styles, and Styles shrugged. “I didn’t get a good look at him,” he said indifferently.“You killed a man without even knowing who he was?” Catherine asked in shock.
“Reckon we’ll find out.”
She stared until the spot moved.
Catherine started up the steps for the door, stopped herself for a moment, and ran down the porch instead. She watched Brivers through the window to be sure he didn’t see. In a series of quick dips, she had the bedroll, rifle, and saddle bags under her cloak when Lars drew the wagon up to the steps at the end of the veranda.
“You should have waited inside,” he told her as she rushed toward him and staggered when she shoved the things from under her cloak at his chest.
“He’s on the ground by the center steps,” she told him with a quick point. “I’ll keep Brivers busy while you get him.”
“Mr. Vanders? Do you think he’s the one she’s thinking of when she gets the angry look?”
“Yah,” he said thoughtfully. “He looks like Chancy. Even with one as dark as the other is light, they look similar, and she sure enough hates Vanders.”
“I wonder what he did to her.”
“It must have been pretty bad.”
To make them both start guiltily, Cathy answered. “Not at all.” Lars jumped to his feet, and both he and his mother blushed over being caught talking. Cathy didn’t seem to notice as she continued speaking with rigid control. “He’s the man I helped before.”
“What man?” Mama asked.
“Didn’t Lars tell you?”
“No, I didn’t,” Lars denied quickly. “I figured it was private.”
“Then I will.”
“There’s no need, child,” Mama told her. “We’ve no right to pry. Forgive us.”
Some of Cathy’s anger mellowed, at least toward them. With her voice not quite so sharp, she told them, “You do have the right to an explanation since you’ve taken me in.”
“You don’t need to explain anything,” Lars told her.
“You don’t,” Mama agreed, “but if you would like to talk to someone…” She left the suggestion hanging in the air.
“I came out here so I wouldn’t have to. If it had been anyone else there probably wouldn’t have been any gossip. His name was all it took to start a scandal. If I had known who he was, I wouldn’t have helped him.”
“You don’t mean that,” Mama said.
“You knew who Chancy was, what they said about him, and you helped him,” Lars said, drawing back slightly when Cathy glared at him. He still finished. “Your uncle said Chancy is as bad.”
Her voice rose as she retorted, “He isn’t. He couldn’t be.”
Mama tried to calm her. “Cathy, dear, you’re upset.”
“Yes, I am. What’s he doing here?”
“Ha! His father probably sent him out here to get rid of him.”
“Why? What did he do?” Mama asked in horror.
“What didn’t he do is more correct, drinking, gambling, womanizing…” The last word she spat out. “…and fighting. He ended up killing a man.”
“Murder?” Lars asked with a start.
“Oh, no, it was a fair fight, more than fair. He was so anxious to get even he didn’t even let his wounds heal before he went after him, the reason all of the talk got so nasty. If he’d been decent, had any consideration for me, he would have waited.”
“I don’t understand,” Lars said in befuddlement.
“His wound broke open.” Lars looked at Mama blankly making Cathy shout, “Everyone could see where he had been hurt!”
“Where was it?” Mama asked calmly. Cathy made a slashing movement with her hand. It went from the bottom edge of her rib cage on the left side to the top of her pelvic bone on the right. “Oh.”
“So what?” Lars asked innocently.
care of him alone. Papa wasn’t home.”
Kyle stood watch at the window with no idea anyone was nearby until the door opened, and the man’s form filled the open rectangle. Kyle drew his gun in reflex as the man stepped silently inside. Reason caught up with instinct even before Faraway knocked his gun down. Any man that good at sneaking could have already done damage if he’d meant them harm.
The man, with no more than an indifferent flicker of his black eyes at Kyle, told Faraway, “You were called.”
Kyle, on the other hand, stared openly at dark eyes, brooding in appearance and stoic in manner. He was dressed as Faraway, completely in buckskins, and in his crossed arms a huge Hawkins rifle nestled comfortably.
Faraway’s answer to the comment was a curt, “He can come in. I ain’t goin’ out.”
“You know why he does not,” was the passive reply.
“He won’t know he’s har,” Faraway snapped.
“Why?” a second strange voice demanded from the front door, causing Kyle to whirl and reach again for his gun.
He had it half out before he caught himself and sheepishly let it fall back in place. Again, if either had wanted him dead, he would be. “Don’t either of you ever make any noise?” he asked peevishly.
The second man, also dressed in buckskin, carried a large Hawkins rifle in the cradle of one arm. Both men appeared to be around forty-five. There the similarities ended. The second was as fair as the first was dark. His blue eyes swept over Kyle rapier sharp and settled on Faraway like daggers.
Kyle took as long to realize who it was and gasp. “Daddy bull.”
He was tall and thick like Lon, fair as Chancy, and similar enough in the face to be either one twenty years in the future even with the days’ old growth of beard he wore.
“Daddy bull fer sure,” Faraway said. “Called Lance and dat thar be Knife.”
Lance’s annoyance with Faraway’s sense of humor looked near to exploding. “Is he hurt?” he demanded in a quiet roar.
“Back yonder,” he told him with a nod and a jerk of his thumb over his shoulder.
Lance stalked off. No other way described the way he moved, though he did it without making a sound. Knife followed as silently. Faraway followed Knife, all without making a sound. Kyle followed Faraway. Kyle was a patient man, and the time was not right to ask the million questions running
Next in the series, Curse of the Sire
When I read the back of the book blurb for Mark of the Sire by Larion Wills, I thought I'd be dealing with a period romance that might not be my cup of tea. I was especially thrown by the title, which seemed to place the book more in English realms than in Colorado.
But after reading a contemporary adventure / romance by the same author, I knew that there would be a good story in between the relationship issues. And, you know, I really liked Mark of the Sire! Maybe I'm just not accustomed to the wide scope of the romance genre, but I found this novel to be more of a psychological western than just a romance (a girl gets guy story). It had the feel of old Bonanza or High Chaparral TV episodes that dealt with more behind the bad guy than an evil look, a black hat, and a fast gun.
Mark of the Sire tells the story of the ill-fated Van Anders and Fletcher families and their attempts to settle the Colorado Rockies. Enter spunky Catherine Lincoln, the daughter of a New York physician, who has fled to her uncle's ranch and his strict and limited vision of what a woman's place was. Cathy soon finds herself in the midst of gun battles and revenge as she tries to come to the aid of two very handsome young men. Her attempts at patching them up medically leads to gossip and danger.
Mark of the Sire is a fast-paced Wild West adventure with touches of humor and pathos. Larion Wills weaves a complex story of family loyalty and forgotten love. Highly recommended.
Sharon Tabor Warren
3.0 out of 5 stars Action-filled drama of Colorado Rockies
Reviewed in the United States on October 29, 2008
Fans of Larion Wills will welcome her new tale, set in the Colorado Rockies, with characters that range from worse-than-evil to the almost saintly. At least one, Lon Van Anders, appears to be both, as the reader follows his many exploits through a tale of plots, counter plots and sub-plots. The book is filled with action, some of which leaves various characters fighting for their lives with the help of Catherine Lincoln. Cathy's reputation was ruined in Chicago by Lars, but her medical knowledge and healing powers are accepted by him and others on the frontier as she moves through the story with calm determination to see that right is done and that Lars will recognize her feelings for him.