Heâd never understood how or why he had survived when other men, better men, had died around him. Bullets caught those next to him, but always missed him. The bayonet had missed its real target, his throat, and had merely ripped into his cheek. Even in the Yank prison camp, heâd thrown off diseases that killed so many others. Heâd started thinking he lived a charmed life until heâd returned to Texas, and carpetbaggers had ridden up to Davyâs ranch. Hell, even then, he hadnât minded the outlaw life so much. His one regret was that heâd pulled Davy deeper and deeper into trouble.
He mounted his gray. He wondered whether Nicky Thompson would mention his explorations to her uncle. Kane wouldnât be surprised if Thompson already knew. Kane thought there was little that happened in the valley that Thompson didnât know.
Nat Thompson stared at Mitch Evers through hooded eyes. Since the episode a few days ago with Yancy, heâd asked Mitch to keep an eye on Nicky.
âShe met OâBrien?â Thompson said, his voice rising ever so slightly.
Evers nodded. âI donât think it was planned.â
âWhat in the devil was he doing riding at that time of the morning?â
âAndy says he does a lot of riding.â
âThen why in the hell didnât he stay on the run instead of coming here?â
Evers shrugged. âWe checked him out real good.â
âWell, heâd been in prison a few months. Maybe heâs just restless. But I think we should watch him.â
âHeâll have a shadow wherever he goes.â
Pain struck Natâs stomach. Heâd come to expect it now, yet he wasnât prepared for its growing fierceness. He tried to keep his face blank. He didnât want even Mitch to know how bad the pain was getting. In a moment, it faded. Not entirely, but enough so that he could straighten up. âI have another idea,â he said. âI think Iâll invite him for supper.â
He almost grinned at Eversâs surprised face. He would have, had not the pain continued to nag him.
âI know,â Nat said. âThereâs something, though, that puzzles me about Diablo.â
Worry etched even deeper in Nat. âSheâs never shown any interest in anyone before. Damn, I wish I could send her out of here, but I donât have everything ready yet. A few more months â¦ just a few more months.â
Kane finished shaving and gave himself a wry look in the mirror, trying to see deeper than the image that stared back at him, searching for the man inside. He didnât know why he even bothered with a razor, except that it separated him from many of the other guests. He didnât know why he cared about that, either. He wasnât much better than the worst of them. The law sure as hell didnât think so.
At least heâd never killed for fun. And the faces of those he had killed haunted him. All but one had been men in uniform, many little more than boys who were fighting for their country, just as he was. He hadnât felt anger toward them, nor any pride in killing them.
He had been here nearly ten days now, and he knew the others better than heâd like to. Most of them reveled in their kills. Their boasts sickened him, but there had been little else to do in Sanctuary other than share tales of banditry. Especially since he was avoiding Miss Thompson and, therefore, limiting his rides. Gambling, boasting, and whoring were the order of the day, not necessarily in that order. He knew he was considered odd because he did little of the last. So he gambled a lot, drank sufficiently, and listened appreciatively. He hoped his own lack of stories made him appear more discreet than reluctant.
But Davy was never far from his mind. As he looked in the mirror, he sometimes thought he saw his friend standing next to him.