A Brave Alliance to the Rescue (Preview)

Liberty, Missouri  

March 1879

The lightning flash was so brilliant and lasted so long that, for least a moment or two, it almost seemed like twilight had returned. A second later, thunder erupted, sounding so loud to Cy’s ears that it reminded him of those years he’d served as part of an artillery crew in Grant’s army. 

When the darkness returned and he was less visible in the street, he felt himself at ease again. The last thing he needed was to have his cover blown by a thunderstorm. Cy Fremont had trailed the Zanders all through eastern Kansas, and just this morning he’d followed them across the border into Missouri.

They were a crafty bunch, the Zander brothers and their additional gang members. Of all the criminals he’d tracked during his years as a bounty hunter, Cy had never quite come up against men like Leo and Russell Zander. 

Cy knew that in their younger days, back during the war, the Zanders had ridden with William Quantrill, and then later with the infamous guerrilla captain, Bloody Bill Anderson. It was apparent to the bounty hunter that the brothers had picked up some tricks and techniques from their fellow guerrillas. They had nearly eluded him three times since they’d departed western Kansas, and the Zanders didn’t even know they were being tracked. 

All of his hard work, his patience, his persistence had led him here, to the little town of Liberty, where, Cy knew, the first daylight bank robbery in history had been perpetrated. Another crafty bunch had committed that robbery all those years ago. Another group of men that had ridden with Missouri guerrillas during the war, and then afterward had gained a great deal of notoriety for their unsavory deeds, the group’s leader in particular.

Neither Leo nor Russell Zander were nearly as famous as Jesse or Frank James, but they were, in Cy’s view, just as dangerous, equally as cutthroat, and perhaps almost as elusive. 

Because the Zanders lacked the same publicity the James Gang had always enjoyed, the bounty on them was smaller than what Cy Fremont felt it ought to be. But business had been somewhat slow lately. He needed the work. His wife, Abagail, wasn’t happy about the prospect of him tracking a band of five men by himself, but Cy had no other choice, as he saw it. Bug Dolan, his longtime helper, had moved on to greener pastures in another industry entirely. 

Abby had encouraged Cy to follow Bug into the saloon business, but Cy couldn’t see himself spending every evening in the same spot, planted behind a bar somewhere, serving beer and whiskey to drunks and then cleaning up after them. He liked the adventure his vocation afforded him. He got to travel to interesting places, to ride his horse at breakneck speeds, to spend his days and many of his nights out under the heavens. Once in a while, he even got the opportunity to fire his weapons, his Smith & Wesson Schofield .45 and his Winchester repeating rifle, both of which he loved dearly. And he got to do it all in the name of justice. It was a dream life for Cy, except for the fact that he often found himself missing his wife while he was out chasing bad men across the plains. 

She’ll understand when I bring home this bounty, he thought to himself as he inched closer to the boardinghouse where the Zander brothers and their accomplices were bedded down for the night. 

Cy had watched them leave the Silver Star Saloon an hour ago, had followed them through town, through a torrential downpour and a lightning storm, until they arrived at this place. Dee’s Boardinghouse, it was called. The fact that they were renting bunks in a boardinghouse rather than rooms in a hotel led Cy to believe that the Zanders were intending to spend a fair bit of time in Liberty. 

For what purpose, he had no clue. 

For all he knew, they were planning to recreate the famous James Gang bank robbery. Despite their vast history of illegal exploits, the Zanders weren’t widely known, and that, Cy knew for a fact, bothered both brothers a great deal. 

  But that didn’t quite make sense to the bounty hunter, either. The brothers could scope out the local bank over the course of a few days; they didn’t need weeks or months to figure out the best way to rob it. 

Cy shrugged to himself. Anytime he thought he was beginning to gain insight into the criminal mind, some reprobate he was tracking would do something wholly unexpected. That, in fact, was an aspect of his job that intrigued him more than any . . . the lessons he’d learned over the years about human nature. Or, at least, the lessons he’d learned about the nature of degenerates and lawbreakers and murderers. 

Pausing across the street from Dee’s Boardinghouse, he scanned his surroundings. The street was almost empty as all the residents of Liberty had found their way indoors when the storm hit. Feeling confident that he wasn’t being tracked himself, Cy made his way across the street to the front entrance of the boardinghouse. There were no lamps burning in any of the windows, upstairs or down. He tried the front door and found it locked, as he’d expected would be the case. 

Reaching into his Macintosh and then into his vest, he drew out his lock kit. With some intense focus, putting to use a set of skills he’d spent time learning, he managed to have the lock open in less than a minute. 

After putting away his lock kit, he let himself into the building. 

The bounty hunter had observed the brothers earlier, during the daylight, when they’d checked into this place. He knew exactly which room the brothers were occupying. 

He considered it a great stroke of luck that the brothers, Leo and Russell, had chosen to bunk in the same room. I’ll catch them both while they’re sleeping, Cy told himself, while they still have a foot in dreamland . . .

Making his way down the hallway, the bounty hunter paused in front of the door labeled Dogwood

He drew in a deep breath and released it slowly. Then he drew his Schofield and reached for the knob. 

He was only half-surprised to find the door of the Dogwood room unlocked. The Zander brothers were both cockier than French generals. It probably wouldn’t occur to them that they might need to lock the door because someone might have tracked them over three-hundred miles to this place—a town ironically named Liberty, where they would both soon be losing all their freedoms. 

He entered as quietly as possible and immediately spotted them. Flashes of lightning outside the window, intermittent as they were, enabled him to see their sleeping forms from where he stood near the door. One bunk was situated on the far side of the room, not too far from the window. The second bunk was closer to the door, just a few feet in front of Cy. 

Pointing the barrel of his revolver at the Zander closest to him, he said, quietly but firmly, “Don’t move a muscle. If you understand what I’m saying to you, whisper ‘yes.’”

The response that came, a half-second later, nearly caused Cy to jump out of his skin. 

“Why, yes, I understand what you’re saying perfectly.”

The voice had come from directly behind the bounty hunter—and it had been nowhere near a whisper. An instant later Cy heard the unmistakable click of a pistol being cocked, right behind his head. 

“You were right, Leo,” said Russell Zander, also situated somewhere behind Cy. “Oldest trick in the book, and he actually fell for it!”

“I have to hand it to you, fella,” remarked the first voice, which obviously belonged to Leo Zander. “You are a persistent cuss. We thought we’d lost you a couple of different times back in Kansas. But you picked up our trail again, and just kept right on after us.”

“Bet he’s wishing right now that he hadn’t done that,” said Russell. 

Cy swallowed a lump in his throat. Then, keeping his voice steady, he said, “You can’t shoot me here in this boardinghouse. You’ll wake everyone up. They’ll have the sheriff here in no time to arrest you and haul you in.”

“As I see it, there are two problems with your statement,” Leo replied. “First, we don’t much fear the sheriff of Liberty, Missouri. We know who he is. He’s about seventy-years-old and is barely able to pull his trousers on in the morning. And second, we don’t plan to shoot you here in this boardinghouse. We plan to take you somewhere more . . . secluded, shall we say?”

“Brother, I believe by now you should have asked him to drop his weapon,” Russell interjected. “Just in case he’s a faster draw than he looks.”

“Fair point,” Leo agreed. Then, poking the end of his gun barrel into the back of the bounty hunter’s skull, he said, “You heard the man. Drop that pistol. No quick movements.”

Cy, seeing no other option for himself at the moment, did as he was instructed. As soon as the Schofield clattered to the floor, Russell swept forward and picked up the gun. He eyed it for a moment in the semi-darkness.

“Nice piece of equipment you got here,” Russell said, looking up at Cy. A moment later, tucking the pistol into his belt, he added, “Think I’ll keep this one for my collection.” 

“You know, you could just let me go,” Cy said, still facing away from Leo, the brother who had a gun pointed at his head. “I’ll ride back to Kansas and leave you be. I’ll never come after either of you ever again. I can make that pledge to you right now. I’d even be willing to sign something to that effect.”

“You done had that opportunity,” Leo told him. “Too late for that. But that does give me an idea. I think we should send you back to Kansas. You got anyone there we can send you to.”

“Please,” Cy begged them. “I have a wife back home. She relies on me. She has no other means of support.”

“A wife?” Leo said. “That will work just fine. You tell us your name, and we’ll make sure your widow gets your remains.”

Cy felt a swell of emotions rising inside him. He began castigating himself. How could I have been so careless? Abby was right . . . never should have taken on this job by myself. 

A thousand thoughts flooded his head, mostly memories. Some from his boyhood, but most of them were more recent. Images of times he’d spent with Abby, ranging from their courtship all the way up to the present day. She’d given him a good life. A life he had hoped to share with her for decades to come.

After a few moments, his thoughts shifted. He’s wasn’t dead yet, he reminded himself. He was an able man—a man with many unique talents. Holding out hope, Cy began to focus on potential escape strategies. There must be some way out of this, he told himself. He had faced off against criminals many times before, and there had been several close calls. He’d always managed to get the upper hand in the end. 

But nothing, no workable strategies, came to him. These two miscreants had him trapped, completely and thoroughly. The sickening realization came to him that, unless the brothers chose to show him some mercy, Cy’s life was over. 

“You gonna tell us your name, or you gonna make us torture you for it? You do want your wife to get your things, don’t you?”

Holding back the tears that were trying to fight their way out, Cy answered, “My name is Cyrus Fremont. I’m from Garden City, Kansas. My wife  . . . she lives there. Please allow me to write her a letter . . . you can send it with my things.”

“You getting all this down?” Leo Zander asked his brother. 

“Got it right here in my noggin,” Russell replied. 

“Good. Now where should we take him to finish him off?”

Russell answered without hesitation, “We should take him to the livery stable. That way we can get a better look at his horse . . . let me correct myself . . . we can get a better look our new horse.”

“Good idea, brother,” Leo said. “Get your Mackintosh on. Still raining pretty hard out there. I wouldn’t want you to catch a cold while we’re out murdering another bounty hunter.”

Chapter One

Cimarron, Kansas

May 1879

He started to count on his fingers, then quickly gave up. Noah couldn’t begin to remember how many men he had tracked down in brothels. It had almost become a cliché. Sure, he found a fair number of wanted men in saloons and gaming parlors. And occasionally he cornered one of his quarries in a hotel room or even out under the wide open sky. But it seemed like lately seven out of ten men he hauled in he’d located in a brothel, and most of them he’d happened upon when they were with crib girls, unclothed, in somewhat compromised positions. 

Noah Galloway had been in the bounty hunting business for five full years, and in that time he’d experienced more success than most men who’d been in the game for ten or fifteen or even twenty years. 

An older man Noah knew had recently offered his unsolicited analysis of the young bounty hunter’s success. “You’re not the best shot, or the fastest draw, or the best rider, but you’re certainly competent in all of those areas. What you have that many of your competitors lack . . . you, my boy, are fearless. Absolutely fearless. Like a damn grizzly bear!”

Noah’s friend wasn’t entirely wrong, but Noah felt that there was perhaps more to it than just his courage alone. The older friend had said nothing about the bounty hunter’s clever mind, his beguiling charm, or his uncommon good looks—traits that his female acquaintances tended to notice more often than the males. 

On top of those things, Noah had always felt that he was born under a lucky star. It was something his mother had told throughout his boyhood years. Good fortune just seemed to follow him wherever he went, like a friendly shadow. For that reason, he’d never taken life too seriously. Even in difficult times, he could find some kind of adventure to involve himself in, some way to turn darkness into light and joy. And Noah Galloway had always known how to enjoy life to the fullest. 

Standing out in front of the place, which was ironically called The Last Dance Inn, he focused on the information about he’d mentally stored about his current quarry. Lybrand Collier . . . A man wanted for robbery and assault in the state of Iowa. Had escaped from a local jail cell, under the watch of a feckless deputy who’d fallen asleep on the job. Lybrand Collier was thought to be dangerous, but he was not a known murderer.

To Noah, that last part didn’t matter much. Any man facing a lengthy prison sentence could become a killer in the blink of an eye. 

Stepping into the brothel’s central parlor, Noah approached the oldest woman in the room, who, he assumed, was the madam of the house. 

“Are you in charge, miss?” he asked her.

The woman had long black hair that was obviously dyed. She wore pale blue dress that featured numerous sparkling baubles sewn into the fabric. Her makeup was caked on, almost to the point that it seemed as if she was wearing a mask. The woman glanced Noah up and down and immediately a certain kind of look entered her eyes. 

“Hello, young man,” she said, glancing him up and down gain. “What can I do for you?”

It came to Noah then: the look in her eyes was of a predatory nature. Clearing his throat, he answered, “I’m looking for a man.”

The woman grinned at him.  “Well, sweetie”—she looked at him sideways—“you came to the wrong place for that.”

Noah shook his head. “Not like that, miss. I followed a man to your place. I’m sure he must be upstairs right now with one of your girls.”

The expression on the woman’s face suddenly changed; it had hardened, and the spark of interest he’d previously seen in her eyes quickly flamed out. “Are you a lawman?” she asked curtly.

“Not exactly.”

“Oh. A bounty hunter,” she said as realization dawned on her. “Young man, we don’t welcome your kind here. Men come to The Last Dance Inn to get away from their worldly troubles. We don’t allow such troubles to come walking through the door. No one here is breaking any laws, I assure you. So you’re going to have turn yourself around right now and march yourself back out that door.”

Noah stared at her for a moment, saying nothing. Then, heaving a sigh, he turned and strode over the threshold. 

Outside, he crossed his arms and stared up at the second story of the building. I know you’re up there, Lybrand, he thought as he began tapping his foot. 

Of course, he could just wait out here for the man to exit the building. He could still catch Mr. Collier unawares—Noah had always preferred that approach as it tended to reduce the amount of gunplay and other forms of violence the work sometimes brought about. But still, there was no method safer than barging in on a man who had his trousers down around his ankles and his body more or less glued to that of another human being. 

Still gazing upward, the bounty hunter happened to notice that a tall, relatively thick tree was growing just a couple of feet from the building that housed The Last Dance Inn. If he employed just a little imagination, he could see how a man might use that tree as a ladder to reach one of the brothel’s second-story windows. 

It didn’t take Noah long to reach his decision. Ignoring all of the possible things that could go wrong, he made his way to the trunk of the tree, and, reaching for the lowest bough, began pulling himself upward into the branches. 

Soon he had reached a branch in the tree that put him on the same level as the brothel’s second-story windows. There was a gap between the tree and the building that, from the ground, had appeared much smaller than it looked to him now. Four feet? he estimated, eyeing the gap. If he could stretch himself out far enough, he could reach a hand to the nearest windowsill. However, he realized, if he slipped while he was reaching for the sill, he would likely end up on the ground with a broken bone or two. 

Sucking in some wind, Noah made the reach. He wasn’t a large man with large beefy muscles, but he was strong for his size. He had always been more athletic than almost every man he knew. He could walk across the ground on his hands; only one of his acquaintances could do that. And he could do a backflip from a standing position. He’d heard of other men who could perform that feat, but he’d never met any in person. 

It was a close call—at one point he thought he might slip and fall—but he managed to reach the windowsill. After having swung his body down out of the tree, he was now hanging from the sill by his fingers. 

“Look, Mama!” he heard a voice call out from the street below. 

Glancing down toward the ground, Noah saw a young girl standing beside her mother. The girl was pointing directly at him. The expression on the mother’s face was priceless.

Noah smiled down at them. “Locked myself out of the room,” he told him.

Offering no reply, the mother grabbed her daughter’s hand and hurried her on down the street. 

Returning his attention to the window above him, the bounty hunter began to lift his body upward, until he could see into the room through the glass. Inside, he could see a man and a woman engaged in the very type of activity this business establishment specialized in. The woman seemed bored, he couldn’t help but notice. In fact, she practically looked like a corpse, laid out flat on her back, gazing up at the ceiling. The man was so involved in what he was doing that he didn’t notice Noah peeking in from outside. The man was not Lybrand Collier, but that was fine with the bounty hunter. The window was only a point of entry into the building. 

Fortunately for Noah, this particular window was already opened slightly. He was able to get his fingers up under the window, which then enabled him to force it open wider. 

His body was halfway through the window before the man in the room noticed him. 

“What in Hades?” the man said as he suddenly stopped what he was doing. Both he and the woman on the bed jerked their heads toward Noah. 

The man was scowling at him, but the woman parted her lips in a slight smile. 

“Howdy, folks,” said the bounty hunter as he pulled the rest of his body through the window. Once he was fully in the room, he rose to his feet. 

“Who are you?” asked the scowling man. 

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Noah answered. He started for the door. 

“Wait!” the man barked. He had pulled away from the woman and now he stood, partially naked and fully exposed, facing Noah. 

The bounty hunter paused at the door. “You really want to know my name?” he said. “Fine. It’s George Washington.”

The man flinched in surprised. The woman on the bed laughed. 

Noah tipped his hat at each of them before opening the door and stepping out into the hallway. 

One door down, he let himself into the room, surprising another customer who was also not the man he was searching for. 

Finally, when he opened the next door, he saw a face that was familiar. 

The man on the bed froze, his body still pressed against the crib girl who was keeping him company. 

“Who are you?” the man growled, his face knitted in a deep scowl. 

“Would you mind tilting your head just a little bit to the left?” Noah asked him as he reached his hand into his vest. 

“What?!” The man on the bed gritted his teeth. “Get out of here before I put a damn hole in your head!”

Noah remained where he was standing, near the doorway. He had unfolded the wanted poster he’d been carrying against his chest. Holding the poster up in front of him, he glanced back and forth between it and the man a couple of times. 

“What in God’s name are you doing over there?” the man questioned him, his mood obviously growing fowler by the moment.

Noah turned the poster around so that the front side was facing the bed. “I’m just double checking,” he said. “I have convinced myself that you are indeed Lybrand Collier. Tell you what . . . I’ll give you two minutes to finish what you’re doing there before you come with me.”

The man, Lybrand Collier, furrowed his brows. “I ain’t coming with you! I ain’t going anywhere till I’m damn good and ready. You’re going to turn and walk out that door or else I’m going to shoot your eyes out.”

Noah allowed the poster to drop from his hands and twirl to the floor. He instructed the dove to step away from the bed, a command which she immediately obliged. Then the bounty hunter grabbed Lybrand Collier by his left ear, yanking him off-balance. Before the man could recover his balance, Noah struck him in the center of his nose. He had pulled his punch some—he wasn’t trying to kill the man—but he’d still hit him hard enough to debilitate him. 

Blood immediately began gushing from both of Collier’s nostrils. He put both of his hands over his nose, but the blood flow was too much for him to stop it. While Collier had his hands over his face, Noah clapped a pair of iron cuffs around his wrists.

“What are you doing, buddy?” Lybrand Collier hollered. “Get those off me!”

“I’ll take them off after I get you down to the sheriff’s office,” Noah informed him. 

The handcuffs were attached to a chain; the bounty hunter gave it a hard yank and Collier lurched forward, stumbling off the bed. When he landed on the floor, he bumped his broken nose, which prompted him to curse and cry out in pain. 

Noah, tugging the chain again, pulled the criminal to his feet. 

“At least let me put some clothes on,” said Collier, now sounding more subdued. 

“I gave you a chance to finish up,” Noah answered firmly. “You didn’t want to do it my way.”

At the doorway, Lybrand Collier turned back and faced the woman, who was standing near the foot of the bed. Her expression at the moment was a strange mixture of surprise and relief. “You still owe me some time,” he told the soiled dove. “I’ll be back . . . soon. And I will ask for you by name.”

Noah regarded the woman. “Miss, you should know that if he does come back, it won’t be anytime soon. Twenty years, if he’s lucky and if he behaves himself.”

The dove flashed him a smile, a come hither expression if ever Noah had seen one. He tilted his toward her, and then, without another word, led his naked captive out into the hallway. 

“So much for hiding out in Cimarron,” Lybrand Collier mumbled as the two men made their way toward the stairs. 

“Wouldn’t have mattered where you hid out,” Noah remarked. “I would’ve found you. I find every man I go looking for. Sooner or later.”

A moment later, they began descending the chairs, the bounty hunter and his quarry. 

Everyone in the brothel lobby, doves and customers alike, paused their conversations so they could take a lingering look.

Chapter Two

Garden City, Kansas

July 1879

Pausing on the boardwalk in front of the saloon, Abby Fremont stood and stared down Main Street. She had never been a city girl—she’d lived her entire life in the countryside—but something about the activity, the hustle and bustle of the central business district, pleased her. The town had been growing rapidly in recent months, adding new buildings and new people, at a rate that was almost mindboggling. Some of the old-timers—folks who’d lived in the area even before there was officially a town—didn’t like all the change. She’d overhear them in the saloon complaining amongst themselves. Every now and then she would attempt to weigh in. 

“Isn’t it good to have new people around here?” she would say. “New people bring new perspectives. Without new ideas, the town will just stagnate—don’t you think?”

The old men never cared to hear her point of view. They didn’t like the change. They didn’t care for the new people or their ideas. 

Abby had always enjoyed meeting new people, hearing different points of view. A couple of Chinese families were among the town’s recent immigrants. Abby had gone out of her way to stop by their houses to welcome them to Garden City, and to the great state of Kansas. 

Talking to the Chinese women, along with the other new residents, was very beneficial to Abby. It was one activity that helped her take her mind off her grief. She wasn’t trying to ignore it, all the pain she still carried in her heart. On the contrary, Abby had allowed herself to sink deep into her grief. She even set times aside for it every so often. But she also knew that she couldn’t get lost in it. She couldn’t allow her grief to bury her or destroy part of her soul. Life goes on, she reminded herself frequently. Even after our loved ones pass on. 

Even after the love of your life passes on . . .

She felt a light touch on her shoulder, which startled her out of her review. 

“Abby?” said a voice from behind her, masculine yet gentle. “Are you . . . all right?”

Turning her head, she peered over her shoulder at her boss. Ray Dabney was a good man, a decade or so older than Abby. He was a bachelor, though he had confided to her on more than one occasion that he didn’t really want to be. Abby had always known that he was giving her subtle hints. She tried to give him equally subtle signals that she wasn’t interested in him that way. Ray become a good friend to her, almost an older brother figure. But there could never be anything more than that between them.

Besides, as she’d reminded Ray, she was not fully over Cy. It hadn’t even been a year since his death. She needed more time to heal, and to figure what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. 

“Are you all right?” the saloon owner repeated. 

Abby nodded. “I’m fine,” she said. “Just taking in the sights and sounds.”

Ray Dabney glanced down at the pocket watch he was holding. 

“I know my shift begins soon,” Abby told him. “I’ll be in in a minute. Just a little more fresh air, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course I don’t mind.” Ray reached up and pinched her cheek. “Besides, if you keep standing out here looking all pretty the way you do, you’re bound to attract some customers into the saloon.”

After Ray pushed in through the batwings, Abby faced the street again. 

Wonder what it’s like in a real big city, she mused to herself as she drew in a deep breath of the warm summer air. Chicago. St. Louis. New York City. She’d never been to any of those places. The largest settlement she’d ever visited was Dodge City, and that had been a truly enlightening experience for her. Not only had she enjoyed the town itself, but the trip had turned out to be very memorable for her. 

On that trip Cy had proposed to her. 

Abby exhaled heavily as she turned to enter the saloon. 

She didn’t know what she wanted the rest of her life to be like, but she was pretty sure her dream didn’t involve working at the Iron Horse Saloon the rest of her days. 

Maybe she would end up in a bigger city, with a bigger life, one day.

Maybe, it occurred to her as she pushed in through the Iron Horse’s swinging doors, Garden City wasn’t quite big enough to accommodate her dream.


Missouri State Penitentiary

Jefferson City, Missouri

The brothers hunkered down in the bush, both of them soaked to the bone as the rain and the hail continued to pelt them. Russell had cursed several times since they’d taken cover, and Leo, the older of the two, had shushed him each time. 

Based on the sounds of things, Leo estimated that the guards and the dogs were a good quarter-mile away from their current position. He was sure that the storm was throwing off the scent for the hounds. In addition to the rain—which was soaking the smell out of everything—the hail pellets were the size of minié balls, and that was something the dogs wouldn’t be accustomed to. 

Leo Zander still could not believe that they’d been captured. They had dodged three different bounty hunters and a slew of U.S. marshals who’d tracked them over terrain covering three states. It was a local deputy sheriff who’d finally taken them down. A man who was off-duty when he happened to spot Leo and Russell sitting in a café, having breakfast. It was a hole-in-the-wall town in western Kansas, a place called Blackwell. The brothers had been riding all night, so they were exceptionally tired; each had let his guard down. Ordinarily when they sat in public they laid a pistol on the table, so it would handy in the event they needed it. That was another precaution they’d overlooked on that particular morning. The off-duty deputy sheriff had accosted them, a pistol in each of his hands, one aimed at each brother. 

“Not too hard to spot identical twins who are on the run,” the deputy sheriff had said with certain amount of glee in his voice. 

The Zanders were not twins, identical or fraternal, but they did bear a strong resemblance to one another. They were cut from the same cloth in many respects. Leo was older than Russell by a year, and, like most older siblings, he called most of the shots. Russell went along with most of his older brother’s decisions, but like all other siblings they did have disagreements from time to time, which they typically managed to work out in a nonviolent fashion. 

With respect to the deputy sheriff in Blackwell, Kansas catching them flatfooted in the café, they had no disagreements. They were both equally at fault for that misfortune. Both knew that men, such as them, whose faces graced wanted posters across multiple states and counties should not take their meals in public places. Their success as criminals had made them fat and lazy, they’d later determined. They had simply grown too lax. 

The brothers might have resisted the deputy sheriff—might have attempted to rush him and take his guns—but reinforcements quickly arrived in the form of onlookers, regular Joes, who were in the café and happened to have their pistols on them. 

Harry Kinney was the name of the deputy sheriff. 

Leo and Russell both had the name etched in their minds. 

After they busted out of the penitentiary, both brothers had resolved, they would track down Harry Kinney and they would end his life in some very nasty way. Every day one of them thought of a new way to kill Harry Kinney. 

But first, Leo Zander thought, they had to get away from here . . . away from Jefferson City and the Missouri State Pen. 

Despite the discomfort that it brought, the storm had been a real stroke of luck for the brothers. They’d planned their escape for tonight based on the guard rotation. After having studied the guards for several months, the brothers had identified each guard’s weaknesses. They chose for their escape the rotation when the least competent team of guards was on duty. 

Their planned had worked . . . at least to this point. They’d convinced one of the guards to allow them into a part of the facility where inmates were not typically allowed. From there, they’d been able to access a corridor which ultimately led to an office area within the penitentiary walls. The brothers had easily overpowered the men working in the office, who were clerks rather than guards. The office area was also where they’d found weapons. Not guns, unfortunately. A couple of knives: a Bowie and a stiletto. 

The knives were a bonus they hadn’t counted on. 

Now, squatting in the bush, a good half-mile from the outer wall of the prison, each man held a knife . . . and each hoped he wouldn’t be forced to use it tonight. 

Leo knew—both brothers knew—it would be futile to use the knives against the search party. If the guards discovered the pair of escapees, their chance of escape would be all but over. The prison guards had guns, more men, and being Missouri boys, they knew the terrain better. 

The knives, if they were used at all tonight, would be employed for another purpose.

“I ain’t going back in there,” Russell had remarked to Leo right before they’d made their break, and then again right after they’d arrived at the bush. 

“I ain’t either,” Leo had agreed. “Not in a million years.”

And so the brothers had made a mutual vow—a pact of sorts. 

It was not a suicide pact as each would do the honors for the other. 

“I think they’re far enough away,” Russell said. “We should get moving—get our tails away from here. I don’t want to have to cut your throat tonight.”

“I appreciate that, little brother,” Leo replied. “But I will decide when we make a run from here. I’d like to wait just a few more minutes.”

They waited, listening carefully to the fading sounds of the nearest search party. 

A few minutes later, the rain and hail began to let up just a little. 

“Now we’ll go,” Leo said, glancing over at his brother.

Russell nodded and both men stepped forward out of the bush. As lightning continued to flash in the distance, they started running westward, through the sopping wet weeds and brush, moving as fast as their legs would carry them. 

As they moved away from their hiding spot, Leo could still hear the dogs, but just barely. 

At some point, after they’d been running for several minutes, it occurred to him that their escape had gone off perfectly. Better than they’d planned so far. 

Now, Leo knew, they needed to get far away from Jefferson City, as fast as possible. And it would be good, he’d already decided, if they exited Missouri altogether.

Missouri . . . the state that arrested us, tried us, imprisoned us, and then . . . lost us!

Leo Zander smiled to himself, drawing in a lungful of the moist air as he continued to pump his legs hard. 

The air outside the prison walls always smelled so much better than the air inside, he’d always felt. Even without asking him about it, he knew that Russell wholeheartedly agreed. 

“A Brave Alliance to the Rescue” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Noah Galloway is a brave bounty hunter drifting from one adventure to the next, seemingly untouched by danger. A dark secret from his past is still causing him trouble, though… Whenever he’s in a sheriff’s office, he’s afraid that his face might show up on a wanted poster. Even though his quick draw has saved him on more than one occasion, an unfortunate incident has put him on the run. From that moment on, he’s only had one thing on his mind; to find peace. In order to achieve that, he goes on a perilous hunt in order to catch the Zanders, a gang of ruthless criminals who escaped from prison, but an unexpected ally will appear and change his plans. Noah will have to choose between the dark desire of vengeance and his deeper need for redemption. Will he manage to escape every trap on his way and accomplish his mission of justice?

Noah experiences situations that put his skills and allegiances to the test, while he fights to prove his innocence. During his search for the Zander brothers, he meets Abby, another bounty hunter who wants revenge for her dead husband. Although there is friction between them, there’s also an obvious, undeniable attraction. Abby will open up to him about her struggles and Noah will trust her with his secret. Before he knows it, his unexpected interest for Abby will put his life in danger. After being framed for a crime he didn’t commit and tired of being haunted by his painful past, Noah will try to come clean with Abby’s help…However, will he manage to silence the echoes of his past and finally let Abby in?

Both Noah and Abby are struggling to escape their own demons. When they join forces for the greater good, they find encouragement in the tentative trust that grows between them. Can their alliance withstand the danger and coming confrontation and unite them, or will it tear them apart forever?

“A Brave Alliance to the Rescue” is a historical adventure novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cliffhangers, only pure unadulterated action.

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