Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Chapter One

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pp. 7-14

The cowboy boots were dusty and well-worn, the pointed toes as scuffed as an old cattle trail and the cowhide uppers strangely split down the front. ...

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Chapter Two

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pp. 15-23

The cowboy boots were lustrous and still like new, a handmade pair as unblemished from underslung heels to pointed toes as the coat of a just-foaled colt. ...

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Chapter Three

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pp. 24-34

A fence row immediately at Charlie's left herded him due north through a grassy flat interspersed with low cedars and biting shrubs. Overhead, buzzards were silhouetted against a still-light sky, but the thickening vegetation ahead held only creeping shadows. ...

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Chapter Four

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pp. 35-43

The rocky ground was hard and uneven and the gelding restless, yet Charlie slept better than he had in a long while. He wasn't prone to philosophical reflections-few cowboys were. All he knew was that here lay the indefinable something he needed and craved, a quality or quantity without which his life would remain as empty and lonely as a cattle trail with no stock. ...

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Chapter Five

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pp. 44-53

In the canyon bottom at midday, L. D. rode in silence, staring at the sweat foaming white between the hindquarters of the leading appaloosa. In spite of himself, he couldn't keep from mentally replaying the ugly scene with Syers, and what bothered him most was that, damn it, maybe the SOB was right. ...

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Chapter Six

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pp. 54-62

Hearing the helicopter continue to make passes through the canyon, Charlie risked unsaddling the bay to let it rest as it grazed, and waited with the patience of a man for whom time no longer had meaning. The sun crawled higher, altering the grid work of shadows on the ground, ...

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Chapter Seven

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pp. 63-71

The sights wavered violently down the rifle barrel as Charlie rocked to the lunging gallop that flung turf with each thud of his horse's hooves. He found a coyote face-to-face through the sights and fired, discharging the weapon directly between the gelding's ears. ...

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Chapter Eight

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pp. 72-79

L. D. carried the morbid image with him all the way back to the Sims County sheriff's office. ...

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Chapter Nine

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pp. 80-87

Nightfall and the tranquility of the crickets carried Charlie away from the helicopters and automatic weapons and men bent on hunting him down. He rode free under a jeweled sky, a cowboy once more in his element. He turned his horse up slopes loose with rock and rimmed with ledges, crossed grassy veldts by starlight, ...

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Chapter Ten

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pp. 88-98

L. D. could read the blood lust in their eyes the moment dawn broke on the cedared Divide. ...

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Chapter Eleven

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pp. 99-109

The crisp snap of a twig ahead brought L. D. jerking the roan's head back at the timber's edge. ...

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Chapter Twelve

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pp. 110-120

L. D. 's knee ached to the jostling gait of the roan as they trailed the cowboy on across the plateau. He had never caught a thorn in a joint before, and he thought he already could feel it swelling through his chaps. Damn, it hurt, but he knew it was nothing compared to the agony of the deputy, ...

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Chapter Thirteen

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pp. 121-129

When L. D. and Milton finally worked their way on around to the far promontory and veered left with the rim, sunlight suddenly glinted from the bordering timber and a rifle barrel thrust out. ...

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Chapter Fourteen

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pp. 130-137

Sharing the dusk with his bedroll, L. D. sat with one knee upraised and stared down along his stiff, outstretched leg at his once-lustrous boot, now as scuffed as an old cattle trail. Damn, he was tired and beaten, tortured by the push across one last canyon to these flats where Charlie had drawn fire. ...

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Chapter Fifteen

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pp. 138-146

L. D. ran his fingers across the blood-stained rock that testified to Charlie's desperate night repose and withdrew them pale and trembling. You're in trouble, Charlie, he thought, studying the trail of broken limbs down from the bluff above. Damn it, Charlie, you're in bad trouble. ...

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Chapter Sixteen

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pp. 147-154

Syers could head off the horse. His boot could come off. His spur strap could break. ...

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Chapter Seventeen

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pp. 155-163

L. D. had a lot of regrets as he pushed his horse on through the storm, but his deepest right then was that he hadn't waited a few more seconds to ask Milton for his badge. The kid had looked up to him, and for two whole years L. D. had accepted and even enjoyed it. ...

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Chapter Eighteen

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pp. 164-172

L. D. whirled back up the west-trending rim to find its drop as sheer as that at the horse's breast, then wheeled the animal down-canyon into the timber fronting the rainy ledge. He had to find some way down! He had to get to Charlie, take him into custody, ...

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Chapter Nineteen

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pp. 173-180

The days passed, and back in the county seat, L. D. didn't break his silence even to Sarah. He kept quiet even as the floodwaters subsided and Syers sent out troopers, and on through the two days it took them to search the arroyo on through the gulch and to its confluence with the Colorado River. ...

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Chapter Twenty

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pp. 181-183

All during the hot drive home from the funeral in Greenleaf, L. D. 's emotions rose and fell just like the shovel of that backhoe in Charlie's grave. Deep inside, all right, he knew that Charlie now had found maybe the only peace he ever could have, yet he felt guilt a thousand times worse than before. ...

Author's Note

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p. 184