Vengeance for the Innocent (Preview)

Prologue

Titus lifted one hand and grasped the edge of his hat with his fingers, adjusting it on his head. When he pulled it up a few inches, a cool breeze blew over his forehead and through his brown hair. He peered through narrowed eyelids at his brother, who was in the distance on his horse, moving quickly in and around the cows in the pasture.

Davis had come a long way in the last five years. He was a full ten years younger than Titus and had just celebrated his twentieth birthday. Both Ma and Pa had succumbed to tuberculosis when he was fifteen. It had been a challenging time for Davis, as Titus had already left to be on his own and returned as soon as he heard his parents had been taken to TB institutions to be treated and, most likely, die.

The whole thing had been traumatizing to Davis, who wasn’t the strongest of young men and leaned more toward a sensitive personality than a domineering one. But the boy was determined to learn ranching from Titus and had been working hard to become the man he now was.

And even now, Davis could still be heard sobbing lightly in his room in the middle of the night. It enraged Titus that he couldn’t comfort his younger brother, who’d had both his parents whisked away and isolated from him until they’d both died, having not seen their sons for nearly a year.

Davis missed them. Titus understood that. He’d done everything he could for five years to replace his parents in his brother’s life to the best of his ability.

“Hey!” He cupped his hands around his mouth and called to his little brother. “You ready to go? You ready?”

Davis lifted his hat from his head and waved it in acknowledgment, nodding vigorously. “Finishing up the count!” he yelled back.

Titus watched as the younger man made his way through the pasture toward him. It had taken a lot for Titus to agree to send Davis alone to sell some of the cattle at an auction in a nearby town called Derryville, which was two days distance from Remy, South Dakota, at a casual pace. Davis and Titus were born and raised in Remy, and now that his parents were gone, it was up to Titus to keep the ranch running. Someday, one or both of the brothers would have families and they would need the big house and the financial security that came with running a successful ranch.

Davis had never gone to the auction alone in any of the neighboring cities and towns. Either they both went or Titus went by himself. Titus had heard stories of bandits on the road and was nervous to send his little brother by himself.

But if there was one thing Davis knew how to do, it was shoot a gun. He had excellent aim and had won competitions nearly every time he entered one.

He wasn’t a fighter, though, and that was what worried Titus. In hand-to-hand combat, Davis would come out on the losing end. He would have to have time to shoot his opponent.

Davis insisted Titus was thinking too much about it. He wasn’t a kid anymore, he kept saying. It was time to loosen the apron strings and let him go.

It still made Titus nervous, but he did what his brother wanted and set up an arrangement for the auction house to deal with Davis this time. They wouldn’t give his younger brother any worse of a deal than they did Titus.

When Davis was close enough, Titus asked, “You seen Adam around?”

“Yeah,” Davis responded, pulling the horse up alongside his brother and looking down at him. Titus didn’t look up because the sun was directly behind Davis and would have blinded him. Instead, he turned his eyes to look out over the field again.

“He’s inside the barn. That old cow’s gonna have that calf any minute now.”

The thought of the new calf being born excited Titus. It felt like the expansion he’d been planning had already begun. Since he’d taken over, the ranch had become more prosperous than while under his father’s care. He was a smarter businessman and his brain moved faster than his father’s had. Titus didn’t respect his father any less for it. It was just a fact.

He had three ranch hands helping him and Davis run the place. Adam was one of them and considered the foreman. He was a capable man, strong and intelligent. He was also a charismatic, loud character, who spent most evenings in the saloon, playing cards and making everyone around him laugh.

“I’ll get on in there and help with that. You got everything you need? You sure you’re ready to go?”

“Yep, I’ll take care of everything, Titus. You don’t have to worry about me. I swear. You really don’t.”

Titus nodded, moving so that he could look up at his brother without the sun directly in his eyes. “I’m gonna count on that, Davie. You know it ain’t that I don’t think you can do it. I worry about your safety. That’s the problem. You keep an eye out for bandits and keep your gun at the ready at all times, you hear me?”

Davis chuckled, nodding. “I hear you,” he replied in an affectionate voice. “You’re just being a big brother. Always looking out for me. I can handle this, Titus. I promise you. I’ll be careful.”

“You better.”

Titus almost changed his mind at the last minute, but he held himself back and watched as Davis rode away. He would only be gone three or four days, depending on his speed getting back after the auction.

“Dear Lord, let me be making the right decision,” Titus prayed under his breath, finally turning to head to the barn and help Adam birth the new addition to the Triple-H ranch.

Chapter One

Samara sat behind the desk, a book open in her lap. She looked down at it, then up at the chart Dr. Anderson had drawn for her. In all her 24 years, she’d never met a man like Dr. Steven Anderson. He was married to a short but feisty woman named Clara, and they had three equally feisty daughters they were raising together. Dr. Anderson was the most supportive man Samara had ever known when it came to women’s rights.

He was teaching her how to become a doctor, despite the normal thinking that women weren’t capable of such a job. This thinking was, of course, ridiculous, as there had been many women healers in history.

Samara didn’t need to be famous or well-known. The thought of finding a cure for a disease did intrigue her, however, and if that happened to take place, well, she wouldn’t mind that one bit.

She compared what Dr. Anderson had drawn to what she’d read in the book and was pleased that she was able to connect it together. She was learning basic anatomy and the different names of various organs, where they were placed and what their function was. This course was nearly finished, and she was certain if someone had their skin removed, she could point out each organ and name it with information added.

Samara lifted her hand and covered her mouth, giggling. The thought of someone having their skin removed was gruesome, and it was if she’d suddenly realized that after thinking it.

“Are you having fun with your chart?”

She looked up to see her best friend, Kara, standing in the doorway of the clinic. Samara lifted one hand to beckon Kara in. “What are you doing out there in the heat? Come inside.”

Kara threw back her head and laughed, her shoulder-length curls bouncing in sync. “Heat? It’s barely 73 degrees out here. It’s balmy and wonderful. You should come out and go for a walk with me.”

Samara lifted one eyebrow, moving her eyes around the empty room. “As you can see, I’m at work and I’m terribly busy. I have to study, you know, if I ever want to be where Dr. Anderson is.”

Kara shook her head, stepping into the clinic and looking around. “I don’t see anyone here. And you can study anytime. I know you stay up late at night doing that. So take a break, give your brain a rest from learning. Come on. I need some company.”

Samara felt a streak of affection pass through her, making her chest warm. She wanted to go for a walk with Kara. Her stomach was growling, which meant it was probably close to lunch time anyway. Kara worked in the restaurant directly across the street—Samara’s usual lunch destination. There wasn’t much else to do in Remy, unless you wanted to take food on a picnic, which was also a favorite for Samara.

“All right, I suppose I can take off, but I’d better tell Dr. Anderson I’m leaving in case there’s an emergency.”

Kara looked relieved. Her grin was wide when she nodded.

Samara stood up and moved around her desk, setting the book she’d been reading on top of some papers she’d spread out on the surface. She was careful not to knock over the chart Dr. Anderson had so skillfully made.

She knocked twice on the door to his office with her knuckles and immediately opened it, poking her head through the door. “Dr. Anderson?”

He looked up from his desk, peering at her over his reading glasses with a curious look on his face. Sometimes, Samara wondered if the man ever got angry. If he did, she’d never seen it and had never heard a harsh word come from his mouth, even when his daughters did something they shouldn’t.

Samara wasn’t a wilting flower. She was slender but strong and had a stubborn streak that she had a hard time suppressing. She had to be—her parents and 12-year-old brother had died in a fire that had consumed their farmhouse in less than two hours.

Samara had just left home at eighteen, having taken a room at the boarding house to try being on her own for a while. Her father had purchased an insurance policy that had made Samara a rich woman. She didn’t need to work in the clinic. She chose to, because she had a passion for medicine and wanted to learn. She’d used some of the insurance money to build a new house on the plot of land she owned after clearing the debris from the original house.

“What is it, Samara?” Dr. Anderson asked politely.

“I want to go for a long lunch with Kara, if that’s all right.”

“Well, we certainly aren’t very busy. I’m sure I can handle things here if you just want to take the rest of the day off. I will send a messenger if I need you.”

“Thank you, Doctor. I’m learning a lot from what you’ve given me.”

“I’m glad, my dear. You have a good day.”

Samara smiled at him. When she turned around, she realized Kara had come up right behind her and was grinning wide. Samara jumped back slightly and giggled, shaking her head.

“My goodness, you scared me!”

Kara laughed with her. “You knew I was here, silly. Come on! Let’s go get some snacks to take with us on our walk.”

Samara followed her friend out and squinted when the sun’s light was brighter than she’d expected. She shaded her eyes. “I wish I had worn a bonnet today.”

Kara glanced at her friend, her smile remaining. “You probably should have. Your dark hair draws the sun’s heat, you know.”

Samara laughed. “Oh, pish! I don’t believe that for a minute. You’re not wearing a bonnet, either.”

Kara shook her head. “My hair is blond. It doesn’t draw heat. But it is a bit thin, and sometimes my scalp gets burned.”

“There you go. Now, hush about my brown hair.”

The two women laughed together. Samara went with Kara as the woman headed down the alley beside the restaurant and stepped up on the back porch where the door was to enter into the kitchen. She glanced over her shoulder. “Stay here, it’s a surprise.”

Samara pressed her lips together, pulling them back in an awkward smile. A trace of excitement filled her chest as she wondered what Kara had for her.

It only took her friend a few minutes before she came back out holding something behind her back. Samara dropped her eyes to Kara’s waist and then lifted them again. “What is it? Oh, you have to tell me. Come on, show me what you have.”

Kara whipped both arms around front so Samara could see what she was holding. What she held made Samara lift both balled fists in front of her face and squeak delightedly. “Oh, those are so pretty!” She looked up from the matching dark green bonnets Kara was holding into her friend’s sparkling blue eyes. “Are those for us?”

“They are! We’re gonna match! As soon as you said you wished you’d brought one, I remembered that I had these here. I kept wanting to give one to you, but you usually have one on already and I forget all about it. But look at this! We’re both without and in need, and here they are!”

“Oh, Kara, thank you! How sweet!”

Kara held one out to her and Samara took it, sliding it over her head and tying the straps under her chin. “Now I’m ready for a nice long walk in the sunshine,” she said, smiling and patting the bonnet. It was a soft material and the ties under her chin didn’t annoy her like some fabrics did.

“Oh!” Kara let out an abrupt laugh and went back to the door. “I almost forgot our snacks! Hold on, I’ll be right back.”

Samara turned away from the door this time, looking out over the field behind the long row of buildings that made up that side of the main road through Remy. The founders of Remy, a couple of successful businessmen who owned gold and copper mines, had set up the roads so that they went in a pattern of numbers. The first road, where all the businesses gathered, was called First Street. Samara often pictured a bird’s-eye view of the town, thinking it would look like a bunch of squares that eventually branched out in three directions to lead out into the country where the ranches and farms were. Those would eventually taper off into nothing but the South Dakota plains, the hills and mountains, the foliage, and the critters—for miles and miles before another town could be found.

The closest town to Remy, as far as she knew, was a day or two of travel from the furthest outreach of Remy’s town limits. The length between the north and south town limits was nearly six hours’ travel by itself. Everything was so spread out. Samara couldn’t imagine living in one of those big cities in the east, where it seemed from reports and pictures like they were sardines packed in a small can.

Samara didn’t like that. She didn’t want to live somewhere like that. She liked the quiet, peaceful town she lived in.

Kara came through the door with that same vibrant energy she always seemed to have. Her father and mother owned the restaurant. Kara worked there as a waitress and, since she would someday own it, often took time off when she should have been working.

Her parents, however, were not strict at all, and let her do whatever she wanted. As a result, Kara had a great deal of respect for them both and always tried to do the right thing. When she took a little extra time off, she worked harder for longer hours to make up for it. Her parents recognized this effort on her part and never bothered her when she decided to take off on a spontaneous adventure with Samara.

“Ready?” she asked, as if she’d been waiting all that time for Samara.

Samara laughed. “I’m ready. And starving! What kind of snacks did you bring?”

Chapter Two

The energy in the room was thick when Samara walked into the clinic. Dr. Anderson was shuffling through his office, making a racket that had the attention of everyone in the waiting room. There were three scruffy-looking men there, hats in hand and worried expressions on their faces.

“Samara!” Dr. Anderson had spotted her through his open door. She hurried to stand in the doorway, passing the men, who gave her curious looks. “You must help me,” the doctor continued, his voice frantic. He was pulling open drawers and glass cabinet doors left and right, his hands shuffling through the various boxes and medicine bottles.

“What are you searching for, Doctor?”

“We have an emergency and I cannot find the bandages and gauze, the shears, and several of the things I usually keep in my bag. Do you know where my supplies are?”

Samara was a little confused but crossed the room to the two drawers, where the doctor typically kept the items he was looking for. She pulled them open and began removing the boxes and rolls of gauze. “Where is your bag, sir?”

He indicated where it was, sitting open on the desk behind him, his eyes relieved when he saw the supplies in her hands. “There is a young man at the lumber mill who had been caught by one of the blades. He may lose his hand. I need you to come assist me. Can you do that?”

Samara blinked at him. Dr. Anderson was the kind of man who could keep his cool in any situation. She was surprised to see him acting panicky about an accident that had probably happened a few times before in his lifetime. He didn’t have any sons, so the young man at the lumber mill wasn’t related to him.

Unless he had a brother.

Samara distracted herself from the job they were about to do by wondering about the doctor’s personal life. All the while, she was gathering bottles of pain medicines, powders, and tools they might need.

Five minutes later, the two were out the door and headed to the wagon beside the clinic. She climbed up, slinging the bag of supplies she’d brought with her up into the wagon first and then pulling herself up. She settled in the seat next to the doctor and watched as the three men who’d been in the waiting room galloped toward the lumber mill. All three of them were leaning forward, their urgency apparent to everyone.

Samara braced herself as they rode down the street.

“You should be aware that this will not be a pretty scene,” Dr. Anderson said, quietly. “You are very interested in medicine, I know, but you haven’t seen anything like this. Maybe in books or pictures—it’s not the same when you see their faces, when you hear their agony. Prepare yourself, because these men have told me his hand may have been completely cut off. There will be a lot of blood. Are you sure you’re prepared for something like that?”

Samara nodded, moving her gaze to the doctor, who was looking at her. “I can handle it, Dr. Anderson. I know I can.”

She understood why Dr. Anderson had a doubtful look on his face. He was right, she really didn’t know how she was going to handle this once she was really there, seeing it up close. But she had a feeling she would be fine. She had a strong stomach.

It didn’t take long for them to arrive at the lumber mill. It took even less time to find the injured man. Everyone was gathered around him, talking among themselves. One of the men who’d been in the clinic ran over to them as soon as they arrived, directing them where they needed to go.

Dr. Anderson stopped the wagon and pulled the brake lever. Samara barely waited for the wagon to come to a complete stop before she grabbed her bag and jumped down. She held up her long skirt with one hand and ran toward the gathering of men.

The man who’d been in the clinic was eyeing her warily at first. She gave him a determined look and didn’t have to even say anything for him to turn and push several men out of her way.

“Let her through!” he demanded, shoving a couple more. “She’s gonna help Jack! Get out of the way! Move it, fella!”

Samara knew Dr. Anderson wasn’t far behind her. She dropped to her knees beside the man, who was stretched out on the ground, propped up against a huge barrel filled with water. The water was tinted red and blood was splashed over the side of the barrel, along the ground beside Jack. He was looking at her with a pleading expression, his face wet with a mix of tears, sweat, and dirt.

“Help me,” he moaned, holding up his right arm. His hand and forearm were wrapped in what looked like a huge, blood-soaked sheet.

Samara set her bag next to her and looked the man in his eyes. “I’m going to help you,” she said, softly. “But you need to stay calm, all right? I’ll have to unwrap your hand so I can see what’s happened. All right? It might hurt. Okay? But I’m here. I’m here, and I’m going to help you. The doctor is right behind me and he’ll know what to do. You’re going to be fine. Stay calm.”

As she spoke, she took the man’s arm and laid it down on her lap. She proceeded to gently unwrap the sheet until she exposed the deep cut in the man’s wrist. It looked like someone had purposefully tried to cut off his hand. It was barely hanging on. Blood had clotted around the edges, but she could see that the hand was only attached by some membranes and the dermis.

Her chest tightened and her stomach turned a little. She looked back up at Jack, pulling in a breath, concentrating on making her voice steady. She felt Dr. Anderson come up beside her. In the next moment, he was kneeling beside her, his eyes on the nearly severed hand.

“Well, ya got yourself in a pickle, didn’t ya, Jack?” the doctor said in a light-hearted tone. When Samara looked at the older man, she could see the concern on his face plain as day. The light-hearted tone had barely masked the worry in his voice. “Let me take a look at this and see what… we… can…” His words trailed off as he took a closer look, lifting the hand and noting what was keeping it attached to the man’s arm. He looked at Samara with intensity in his eyes.

If she had to guess, Samara would have thought the doctor was telling her the hand was a lost cause. There was no way Jack would ever have use of his hand again, even if they sewed it back on.

Samara was nowhere near far along enough in her studies to know how to handle such a situation. All she knew was that the hand would soon die off, the wound could become infected and Jack could die. Their best option, as far as she could tell, was to amputate what was left of the hand and let it heal.

She watched as Dr. Anderson cleaned and wrapped the wound, talking to Jack in low tones after giving him some morphine to help him with the pain. Jack’s reaction to the drug was to become humorous, and he told the doctor and Samara several short jokes that made them and the other men watching laugh.

Samara heard their concern even in their laughter. Their friend wasn’t coming back to work anytime soon. He might not ever be able to return. His life as he’d known it was over.

As they took Jack to the wagon to get him to the clinic for further treatment, Samara discovered the reason why Dr. Anderson had been so frantic.

“I know you’re going to tell Cathy, Doctor,” Jack said, slurring his words slightly, his voice soft. Samara looked at him as he walked with the doctor supporting him on one side and a coworker supported the other side. Her eyes flicked to the doctor to see his response.

Dr. Anderson didn’t seem to notice her surprise. He answered Jack quietly, “I have to tell her, Jack. She’s going to want to know what happened if she sees you again and you don’t have one of your hands. She’s going to ask me, probably because that’s what I do for a living.”

Jack suddenly began to cry. Samara’s chest squeezed with sympathy for the young man.

“She’s not going to love a man with one hand, Doc,” Jack cried. “I’m useless now. I’m useless.”

“You’re not useless!” the doctor replied firmly. “And I know my daughter. She would never judge you harshly because of this accident. You are the same Jack Frasier, the same young man she fell in love with. I’m sure this won’t change a thing.”

Jack’s tears abated but he continued to sniff and his face was forlorn. The men helped him into the back of the wagon, where he settled on a bench seat, holding onto the edge with the other hand. The doctor had fashioned a sling to keep his forearm attached to his hand for the time being.

“Are you really sure about that?”

The doctor gave him a smile. “I’m sure of it, Jack. I know my girl. Cathy loves you. Don’t you worry anymore, okay?”

Jack nodded. His coworker got into the wagon with him. “I’ll sit back here with him, Doc,” the man said.

Samara wouldn’t have guessed Jack was courting one of the doctor’s daughters. She didn’t know as much about him as she’d thought she did.

Chapter Three

Titus stood staring off the front porch down the path that led to the main road. It was the only way Davis would come back, and he was past due. Sighing, Titus went down the steps and walked across the dirt compound to the barn. Adam was inside, taking care of the newborn calf.

He put his head in the door and called out to the foreman, who was in a horse stall with the cow and calf all the way in the back.

“Hey, Adam! I’m headin’ to town. You need any supplies?”

He saw Adam pop up on the other side of the stall like a spring, almost making Titus laugh out loud.

“No, I don’t need a thing!” he called back. “Thanks, though.”

“If Davie comes back while I’m gone, you tell him to head to town and catch up with me. We’ll have a meal to celebrate him getting back.”

“You ain’t worried about him, are ya?” Adam asked. Titus thought he could hear a bit of teasing in the man’s tone.

He grinned. “I’m always worried about my little brother, Adam.”

Adam laughed. “I’ll tell him. You can count on it.”

“Okay, thanks!”

Titus left the barn behind and went to his horse, which was still in front of the house after his ride earlier in the day. He untied the reins from the hitching rail and glanced down into the water trough before getting up in the saddle to make sure the water was clean.

He arrived in Remy a short time later, heading straight for the lumber mill. The owner, Paul Battencourt, was a friend of his, and Titus wanted to talk to him about the accident that had taken the hand of Jack Frasier, a friend of Davis’.

He was glad to see Paul outside his office building, a small stack of rolled-up papers clutched in the same hand that had another paper pinched between his fingers and stretched out by his other hand. He was scanning the open document as if what was written there was Greek to him.

Titus rode up and stopped his horse in front of the building, looking up at the man on the front deck.

“Howdy, Paul. You got time to talk?”

Paul dropped his eyes down to Titus like he hadn’t seen him coming. “Howdy, Titus,” he said. “I’ll tell you something—sometimes, I wonder about the men I put in charge of this business. I think I might need to have my head examined. I’m not a good judge of character at all.”

Titus was amused by Paul’s self-deprecation and slid out of the saddle. He hopped up the stairs to stand beside his friend, dropping his eyes to look at the paper in Paul’s hands. The bottom half was taken up by drawings of several lengths of board, some with portions cut out and the edges sculpted. The top was a list of numbers and names that meant nothing to Titus.

“Well, I don’t think I can help you on this one,” Titus remarked, pulling back to stand up straight and giving his friend a sympathetic look. “Who drew this up for you?”

“Clark.” Paul shook his head, disappointedly, rolling up the paper so it was with the others in one large roll. “I swear. I’ve got a terrible head for business. I don’t know what my uncle was thinking, putting me in charge of all this. After what happened to Jack…” Paul pulled in a deep breath and sighed, crossing his arms over his wide chest. “I don’t think I even deserve to be in charge.”

Titus felt sorry for his friend. “Have you talked to your uncle? Is he upset with you?”

Paul hesitated before answering. His eyes were set on the horizon, but Titus knew he was thinking so deep, he didn’t see what he was looking at.

“He’s not upset with me,” he finally answered. “At least, he’s being real cordial about it and not letting me know. But I know he is, deep down inside. I know he thinks I’m failing at running this business.”

“You’ve been in this position for nearly seven years, isn’t it?” Titus responded gently. “Seven years is a long time with no mishaps like this to tarnish your reputation. You’ve run this business with efficiency and smarts since you took over. Don’t deny yourself that credit.”

Paul gave Titus a grateful look but shook his head. “I’m gonna have to wallow in self-pity for a few more minutes, Titus. I’m feelin’ real guilty about Jack, even though what happened really was an accident. It was human error, and no one was to blame for what happened but… but Jack himself. And I can’t see making the man pay any more than he already has. Can you?”

Titus shook his head in response.

“Yeah, me neither,” Paul continued. “So, I’m just gonna take the guilt and wallow in it until the feeling goes away.” He lifted the roll of papers and shook them in the air. “And I still have this to deal with.” He sighed again. “So what are you doin’ out this way? Where’s Davis?”

“He’s not back from Derryville yet.”

Paul lifted his eyebrows. “You let him go alone, huh? You think he’s ready for that?”

“Yeah, I think he is. I hope he is. He’s due back anytime, but you can never be too sure about arrival times, you know.”

Paul nodded. For a moment, Titus had thought he was distracted from his worries, but the look of dismay returned to the older man’s face after only a few moments of silence.

“I’ll tell you one thing Jack has in his favor,” Paul said, his voice suddenly quiet.

Titus lifted his eyebrows. “What’s that?”

“That pretty little assistant of the doctor’s. You’ve seen her, haven’t you?”

Titus recalled the slender, brown-haired woman he’d seen going in the clinic when he passed by. He had been introduced to her before—it was hard not to at least be introduced in a small town like Remy—but he couldn’t remember her name for the life of him. He knew Paul was about to remind him, but he struggled to remember it anyway.

He nodded. “Yeah… uh…”

“Samara. Samara Saxton. She owns that farmhouse out there. She’s the one who lost her brother and parents in that fire. Surely you remember the Saxton fire?”

The memory came flooding back to Titus’ mind. His father had been out there, helping to battle those flames. He’d been healthy back then. The farmhouse was a total loss. The young daughter of the victims wasn’t home and had survived.

That was the extent of what he knew about Samara Saxton.

“Oh, yes, I recall that happening. I wasn’t in town. My father helped fight the fire, but I was told it was completely destroyed.”

Paul’s face turned sorrowful and he nodded. “Yes, it was really horrible for Samara. But she’s thrived since then. She works as an assistant or a nurse for the doc. She was real good with Jack, real good. The doc did most of the busy work, I think—I don’t know, can’t really tell what I’m lookin’ at when they’re doing that stuff.” His voice sounded dismissive. “But she was taking good care of Jack, anyway, talkin’ real sweet to him, keepin’ him calm.”

“Doesn’t Jack have a lady friend?” Titus asked, wondering how Samara could talk sweet to a man who’d just gotten his hand cut off.

Paul gave him a wide-eyed look. “Not sweet talkin’ like that, Titus. Samara is a good person. She wouldn’t do that to another woman.”

Titus lifted his eyebrows but said nothing. He didn’t know Samara enough to judge her and he hadn’t been there to see how she’d treated Jack. “Well, I just hope she’s efficient, if she’s going to be helping the doctor. I’m not sure women should be in positions like that, working on injured men. Her sensitivities likely couldn’t handle it for long.”

Paul shook his head. “She seemed confident enough to me. You didn’t see it, Titus. There was blood everywhere; his hand was barely still on, just held on by some skin. It was hanging off, Titus. Hanging off. We wrapped it up to keep it together and try to stop the bleeding, but she had to unwrap it to look at it and she didn’t even flinch! I would have thought a woman would fall over in a dead faint at seeing something like that. But she didn’t. Not her. No, sir.”

Titus heard the admiration in Paul’s voice. He wondered if a woman could truly be effective in a position with authority over medicine and treatments. Women were undoubtedly smart. But Titus hadn’t heard of a woman practicing medicine before and the thought seemed strange to him.

He had also been unaware that she ran her own farm. That must mean she had animals and a garden and the other things a working farm needed. Who took care of it all for her? Did she have employees? She had to have employees.

Titus thought about Samara in silence for a few moments before Paul spoke again, bringing him out of his thoughts.

“I know a lot of people in other towns wouldn’t want a woman working on their injuries,” he said. “But if I were hurt, I’d let Samara take care of me. Just because she seemed so… so confident in what she was doing, and when she was talking to Jack and keeping him calm, it was… almost like she was talking to all of us men. We were all standing around listening to her. I couldn’t hear anything but that smooth tone in her voice.” Paul pulled in a deep breath. “If I wasn’t married…” he mumbled as he let the air out of his lungs.

Titus was surprised by Paul’s intense admiration. He thought maybe he should get to know this nurse or doctor’s assistant or whatever she was. She sounded intriguing.

“That’s quite a thing to say, Paul,” Titus said, quietly.

Paul turned his eyes to Titus. “She’s quite a woman.”


“Vengeance for the Innocent” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

After their parents’ death, Titus Hanover has been like a father to his younger brother, Davis. Davis might be helping him take care of the ranch they inherited, but when he requests to handle the cattle sales by himself, Titus warns him about the dangers that come with it. To his misfortune, things don’t go as planned and three men follow him back to the ranch where they attack and shoot Davis. Titus has no other option but to rush to the doctor for help, where he meets Samara, the doctor’s apprentice. But no matter what the cost, Titus won’t stop until he catches the bandits that nearly killed his brother. As the danger spirals out of his control, will he manage to get revenge for his brother’s suffering with Samara on his side?

When Titus asks Samara to take care of Davis’ wounds, she quickly leaves all her responsibilities behind and does everything in her power to save him. But Titus must find a way to unfold his growing feelings for Samara before it’s too late…Can Samara bring out his true nature and support Titus on his mission for revenge?

With secrets being well-kept and enemies amongst them, Titus and Samara will have to survive through a rough mission for justice. Will Titus triumph over the ruthless criminals and let his love for Samara flourish despite the perilous circumstances?

“Vengeance for the Innocent” is a historical adventure novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cliffhangers, only pure unadulterated action.

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