No Mercy for his Enemies (Preview)

Matt Wilcox dismounted among the pine trees, pulling a wanted poster out of his shirt pocket as he walked to the edge of the grove of trees. As he watched the ranch house, a blond-haired man stepped off the porch and he ruffled the hair of a tow-headed boy as three older blond boys followed him across the yard toward the corral. The man said something to the tow-headed boy walking beside him that made all four boys laugh. 

Matt glanced at the face on the wanted poster and then studied the blond man’s face when he passed by the tree where Matt hid. “Yup, it’s Black Jack Dewberry,” he mumbled and smiled, knowing the thousand-dollar bounty was as good as in his pocket.

He had been tracking the highwayman for a week up from Salt Flats, Texas, and across the Red River to the Oklahoma ranch house where he now hid behind the pine tree. Matt, in all his years as a bounty hunter, had never faced a more dangerous, murderous outlaw than the man walking toward the corral with his four sons. 

After Black Jack robbed a stagecoach, he always killed the passengers, be they men, women, or children, to leave no witnesses. However, one of the stagecoach drivers, shot in the chest and left for dead, had survived and given a good enough description of the outlaw for a detailed picture. 

Since Black Jack wore his Schofield revolver, Matt didn’t see any reason to take a chance arresting him. The wanted poster stated the bounty was payable dead or alive, but Matt had decided on the dead option. He hadn’t met a man faster on the draw than himself and didn’t see the need to test his skill with a big iron against Black Jack’s legendary speed.

Therefore, Matt hung back and watched Black Jack lift his youngest son onto the top of the wooden corral while the other three boys climbed up on their own accord. With all the boys perched atop the wooden fence, Black Jack walked around, lifted a rope off the peg, and opened the corral door. The black stallion pawed the ground, kicking up dirt and tossing his head as he faced Black Jack.

The moment Black Jack swirled the lariat over his head, the stallion jumped to the side and ran along the fence. When the horse passed, the four boys shouted and waved their hands at him to ward him off. As the stallion turned in front of Black Jack, the outlaw tossed the rope expertly. The noose settled around the stallion’s neck, and immediately the big horse stopped in his tracks.

Now!

Matt drew his single action Army Colt, stepped out from behind the trunk of the pine, and ran toward the corral as Black Jack, with both hands on the lariat, approached the stallion. Since all four boys faced their father, no one noticed Matt’s approach until he reached the wooden corral, stuck the pistol barrel between the poles, and fanned the hammer three times.

Black Jack suddenly bent backward as the bullet struck him in the back. He made a feeble attempt the reach behind him before falling face forward in the dirt.

The youngest boy screamed as he leaped off the fence and ran toward Black Jack, shouting “Daddy, Daddy” as loud as possible.

“Get back, boy!” Matt shouted as the kid threw himself on Black Jack while sobbing loudly. “One of you, come and get him!” he yelled at the older boys who hadn’t moved from atop the corral fence.

The biggest boy jumped off the fence, ran over to Black Jack, and pulled the younger boy off his father.

“Why?” the older boy asked as he lifted his younger brother in his arms.

“Your father is a murderer! The state of Texas wants him for robbery and murder. Go fetch your mother!”

The boy carrying his crying brother shook his head. “We ain’t got no ma, mister. And now you killed our pa. And you shot him in the back!”

“What I did, kid, ain’t against the law. Now take your brothers and get in the house. I’ll saddle your pa’s horse and take him back to Texas to collect my bounty money.”

“At least tell us your name,” the boy said, having to talk loud to be heard over his crying younger brother.

“Matt Wilcox,” Matt said.

“We ain’t going to forget your name, mister,” the older boy said as he headed for the gate, still carrying his younger brother.

“Just remember that your father was a murderer. And if I had taken him alive, he would have hanged,” Matt yelled after the boys as he watched them hurrying toward the ranch house. “Hmm, not my finest moment, I reckon. But he had it coming,” he added as he headed for the barn to fetch Black Jack’s horse and saddle.

Chapter One

12 years later

Matt dismounted the piebald gelding he had started referring to as Major. He studied the faint tracks in the sandy West Texas soil. 

“We ain’t but an hour behind him, Major,” Matt said as he turned and rubbed the horse’s forehead. “But it’ll be dark before we catch up with Ben Lomax.” 

Matt planned on this being his last bounty. He had to arrest Lomax and bring him in alive as the young man had only robbed the bank and hadn’t killed anyone. It didn’t matter none to Matt since he had stopped bringing in bounties dead twelve years ago, unless he was forced to shoot them.

Matt mounted Major, pulled off his black Boss of the Plains hat, and mopped his jet-black hair—a gift from his Comanche grandmother—with his red bandana. When he pulled it away, the bandana felt soaking wet. 

“What I do for one hundred dollars,” Matt mumbled as he reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a photograph. He smiled as he looked at the blond woman’s picture. “I do it for you, Elizabeth. Only for you,” Matt said and kissed the picture before putting it back into his shirt pocket.

Matt had been writing Elizabeth for four months, ever since reading her ad searching for a rancher for a husband. He had lied about owning a ranch but didn’t consider it a real lie. As soon as Elizabeth arrived in Llano and they tied the knot, Matt planned on using the bounty money he had squirreled away the past few years to buy a nice spread along the Llano River. He wanted to make sure he had someone to settle down with before hanging up his Army Colt for rancher’s chaps.

“Giddy up, Major, and let’s get this over with,” Matt said as he pressed the heel of his boots against the gelding’s sides. 

***

Night caught up with Matt before he sighted Lomax; however, since the outlaw had kept on a straight path west, Matt continued after it got so dark that he couldn’t see the tracks in the hard-packed soil.

Thirty minutes later, Matt smiled when he caught sight of the outlaw’s campfire. Matt figured the kid hadn’t robbed a bank before and didn’t know much about fleeing from a posse since he hadn’t tried to hide his trail. 

If the kid had staked his getaway on the speed of his horse, he had made a grave mistake. Matt had yet to cross paths with a horse that could run Major into the ground. The gelding had quarter horse, thoroughbred, and Indian pony in his bloodline, all of which had produced the finest piece of horseflesh in Texas.

Matt dismounted and tied Major to a mesquite tree far enough from the campfire not to alert Lomax should the horse nicker. Matt checked his Colt, a procedure he always performed before a possible dustup. After checking the load in his revolver, Matt headed toward the flickering campfire.

He moved through the underbrush with the craftiness of an Injun, thanks to the training his grandmother had given him as a boy. He smiled when he spotted the kid cutting a top off a can of beans. Whether outlaw or lawman, everyone seemed to eat beans on the trail.

Lomax had hobbled his horse so it could graze. Seeing that, Matt figured the kid did have a little cow sense after all, just not enough to rob a bank and get away with it.

Since the kid had his back turned in his direction, Matt didn’t have to hide behind the line of big beavertail prickly pear cactus. Instead, he walked upright between the cacti until he stood less than ten feet from the kid scooping beans out of the can with the blade of his hunting knife.

“Just finish your vittles and then raise your hands, Ben. You’re under arrest for robbing the Llano bank,” Matt said in a loud, piercing tone that cut through the chirping of the crickets and caught Ben Lomax’s full attention.

The kid froze.

However, Matt could practically see the wheels turning in his mind.

“You ain’t fast enough, so don’t try it,” Matt called out.

The kid thought otherwise. He dove left, snatching his Navy Colt as he fell. The move would have worked had Ben Lomax faced a man of lesser skill with a big iron, but Matt drew and fired before the kid could pull the trigger.

Three things happened immediately following the shot: the kid let out a loud moan and dropped the pistol prior to hitting the ground. 

“I’m hit,” the kid screamed. “I’m hit!”

“I know,” Matt said as he approached. “But I only winged you in your gun shoulder. You’ll live.” He stood over the kid, who squirmed in pain.

“Do something!” the kid yelled as he looked up with his lost puppy-dog eyes.

“I ain’t no doctor. Get up! I shot you in your shoulder. Ain’t nothing wrong with your legs.”

“I’m bleeding,” Ben yelled.

“Yup, that generally happens when you catch a bullet, at least every time I’ve seen a man shot,” Matt said as he reloaded.

Ben managed to get up on his knees, then stood. “Are you a lawman from Llano? If so, you’re pretty salty for a lawman,” he said, his voice laden with pain.

“Nope, bounty hunter. But I do hang out in Llano between bounties,” Matt said.

“What say I give you half the take from the bank for you to let me go?” Ben said as he stared into Matt’s brown eyes.

“Would you offer me a deal like that iffin I wore a marshal’s badge?” Matt asked.

Ben grimaced as he thought through what Matt had asked. Finally, he shook his head. “No, I reckon not.”

“Yup, I thought so. You see, I hate it that us bounty hunters don’t get no respect. An outlaw like you always thinks a bounty hunter is only interested in the money. Now, heck, I’m not going to toss that notion entirely in the fire, but most of us track down coyotes like you because it’s the right thing to do,” Matt said.

“Pop, you could have just said no. I’m bleeding like a stuck pig and ain’t in the mood for a lecture on the merits of bounty hunting. What I need is for you to patch me up before I bleed to death.”

“You call me Pop again and you ain’t going to live long enough to bleed out,” Matt said.

“Touchy about your age, are ya?” the kid said between moans of pain.

“Now that you mentioned it, you are my last bounty,” Matt admitted. “I’m hanging up my Colt for a pair of rancher’s chaps.” He nodded toward the kid’s overstuffed saddlebag, “You got anything in there besides money? I need a shirt or something to tear up for a bandage.”

“My Sunday shirt is rolled up in my bedroll next to my saddle. I ain’t had time to unroll it yet,” Ben said.

Matt walked over and picked up the bedroll, then untied the string. The blue shirt did look fancy, like something the kid might wear going a-courting.

“Hey, that shirt cost me a month’s wages in St. Louis!” the kid said weakly as he watched Matt rip a strip off the shirt.

“I reckon you can’t wear it iffin you’re in a pine box, can you?” Matt said. “Now, unbutton your shirt and pull it off so I can bandage your shoulder. It appears as though the bullet went straight through and didn’t hit the bone.”

“God, that hurts,” Ben complained through clenched teeth as he struggled to remove his shirt. “What’s going to happen to me?” he asked as Matt wound strips of cloth around the kid’s shoulder.

“Iffin you don’t bleed to death, and that ain’t a given, you’re going to prison for a long spell,” Matt said.

“I thought to take the money and start all over in California,” Ben said once Matt tied the bandaged and stepped back to admire his work.

“Bad choice, kid, a real bad choice,” Matt said. “Now, I’m going to fetch your horse for you to mount. Then, I’ll walk you over to where I tied Major, and we’ll proceed back to Llano.”

“You mean ride all night?” Ben asked.

“Yup, I ain’t sleeping under the stars and having to keep one eye open watching you tonight. I might as well be in the saddle,” Matt said. 

“How long have you been a bounty hunter?” Ben asked.

“Kid, iffin you’re jawing at me hoping to become my friend, you’re wasting your time. I’m not the friendly sort. In fact, there’s only one person I give a horse’s fart about and I ain’t even met her. Her name is Elizabeth Barrows from Chicago, my fiancée. She’s traveling from Chicago and should arrive by stagecoach from Houston in two weeks,” Matt said as he helped Ben on his horse.

“She one of those mail-order brides?” Ben asked after a loud grunt of pain as he settled into the saddle.

“Yup, and if you know what’s good for you, you’d better not say anything disparaging about her,” Matt said as he grabbed the bridle of Ben’s horse and led him toward the spot where he had tied Major.

“My shoulder’s still bleeding,” Ben called out to Matt.

“Then you shouldn’t complain about riding all night to get you to a doctor,” Matt said as he untied Major. He grabbed the reins of the kid’s horse. “Should I tie you to the saddle horn?”

“Heck, no, I ain’t never fallen off a horse in my life, and I ain’t going to now,” Ben said with a loud grunt.

“Suit yourself,” Matt said and pulled on the reins of Ben’s horse.

As Matt led Ben’s horse across the arid landscape, he wished he had enough light to take Elizabeth’s picture out of his shirt pocket and look at it. Whenever he felt tired or lonely, viewing her picture perked him up better than a cup of strong coffee. And having to shoot the kid and wondering if the kid would live long enough to make it to Llano had Matt wishing that he hadn’t agreed to track down Ben. If there had been a town with a doctor on the way to Llano, he would have stopped to get the kid patched up; however, Doc Willis in Llano was the nearest option.

Matt kept glancing back at Ben during the long ride back to Llano, fearful that the kid would fall off his horse, but the kid had the tenacity of a bulldog and refused to fall. Around ten in the morning, Matt spotted the church steeple of Llano as he wondered what made a young man break bad. Iffin the cause could be attributed to an abusive childhood, he would have turned outlaw as his own father had beaten him almost every night after a couple of swigs from the whiskey bottle.

No, Matt figured that a person had it in himself to be either good or bad. Of course, no one could be all good or bad, but good folks had more good in them than bad.

“Hold on, kid, we are at Doc Willis’ place,” Matt said as he leaped off Major and tied both horses to the hitching post before helping Ben out of the saddle and hurrying to a door with Doctor scrawled across it in white paint. Matt shoved the door open and half-carried Ben inside.

The gray-haired man lying on a bed in the corner of the room raised his head. “What in tarnation is your hurry!” the old man shouted, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

“Gunshot to the shoulder,” Matt said.

The old man sat up and pointed to a table in the center of the room. “Put him on the table.”

Ben grunted in pain while Matt lifted him onto the table.

Doc Willis walked over carrying a pair of scissors. “Who is he?” the doctor asked as he cut off Ben’s shirt and then the bandage.

“The kid that robbed the bank,” Matt said as he spotted the bullet hole in the kid’s shoulder.

“Okay, Matt, your part is finished here; you can mosey over and fetch Sheriff Wilkerson,” Doc Willis said.

“Am I going to live, Doc?” Ben asked.

“If the Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise, you’ll spend the next ten years in prison, I reckon,” Matt heard Doc Willis say as he walked out of the room.

Although he shouldn’t care one way or the other, Matt found himself glad the kid would pull through. He didn’t want his last bounty to end with someone dying. The number of men he had killed bringing outlaws to justice had begun to weigh heavy on his soul.

Seeing Sheriff Wilkerson’s roan mare tied to the hitching post, Matt knew he would find the pudgy, middle-aged lawman behind his desk, probably sleeping instead of sorting through wanted posters.

The sound of light snoring greeted Matt when he opened the door. Sheriff Wilkerson had his feet propped on his desk while leaning back as far as his chair would go without falling backward. He didn’t respond when Matt approached the desk.

“What the heck,” Matt said and stomped his foot as hard as he could against the floorboards.

Sheriff Wilkerson set forward in his chair so fast the chair almost slid out from under him. “What the hell, Matt!” the sheriff yelled as he pulled his boots off the desk.

“I brought back the kid that robbed the bank,” Matt said.

“He ain’t a kid; he’s a bank robber,” Sheriff Wilkerson said, shaking his head. “Where is he? Across his horse? Did you shoot him?”

“I winged him; he’s over at Doc Willis’ place,” Matt replied.

“Hmm, he’ll be lucky to survive Doc Willis patching him up,” Sheriff Wilkerson said. “That old goat is drunker than a skunk most of the time.”

“He hadn’t gotten out of bed yet, probably still sleeping off last night’s drunk,” Matt said. 

“I reckon I’d best get on over there and fetch the bank robber,” Sheriff Wilkerson said.

“Oh, speaking of the robbery, here’s the money from the bank,” Matt said as he tossed the saddlebag he’d carried in his left hand onto the desk.

“Did you count it?” Sheriff Wilkerson asked, leaning forward and peeking into the saddlebag.

“Nope,” Matt said.

“Are you still hanging up your spurs as a bounty hunter and marrying that mail-order bride??” Sheriff Wilson asked as he stood and stepped from behind his desk.

“Yup, and I’m counting the minutes until she steps off the stagecoach from Houston,” Matt said as he touched his hand to his shirt pocket where he kept Elizabeth’s picture.

Sheriff Wilkerson shook his head. “Matt, I never thought you would ever go loco over a woman you’ve never laid eyes on.”

“Sheriff, there’s something magical about her letters. I’ve fallen for her hook, line, and sinker,” Matt replied as Sheriff Wilkerson walked past him, heading toward the door.

“Or else something is wrong with you,” Sheriff Wilkerson said, opening the door. “Where are you going?” he asked as he held the door open for Matt.

“To the saloon for a drink,” Matt said. “Join me after you lock up the kid, and I’ll buy you a shot of whiskey to celebrate hanging up my gun and getting married when Elizabeth arrives on the stagecoach.”

“You know I never turn down free whiskey,” Sheriff Wilkerson replied as they stepped off the porch.


“No Mercy for his Enemies” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Matt Wilcox is an aging bounty hunter who wants nothing more than to stay far away from the bad decisions of his past. However, when he strikes up a friendship with the wrong person, he finds himself in the middle of a terrible revenge plot…

Is Matt’s courage and determination enough to face his greatest challenge?

On this mission of mercy, Matt finds himself in a situation completely out of his control when the woman he loves gets kidnapped. It’s up to him to pick up the abductor’s trail and pursue them. To his misfortune, he is caught in the beginnings of a range war, battling the angry children of a ruthless criminal he had once killed…

Can he defeat evil and right the injustices to put an end to the outlaws’ reign?

Unfortunately for Matt and Elizabeth, their troubles have just begun as they travel separate paths through a lawless part of Texas and battle vicious outlaws. If they ever manage to arrive at the Dewberry Ranch, will death and chaos consume them, or will a miracle save them?

“No Mercy for his Enemies” is a historical adventure novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cliffhangers, only pure unadulterated action.

Get your copy from Amazon!

5 thoughts on “No Mercy for his Enemies (Preview)”

  1. Definitely another exciting adventure filled story that has become your trademark! Release date, as I definitely interested to see how the bounty hunter’s bride pleases hi!!

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