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Cat Monroe arrives in Tombstone, Arizona searching for her father and brothers, who left Virginia for the West right after the Civil War. With the help of newspaper reporter Jake Spencer, she finds her family and a whole peck of trouble. She's falling for the newspaperman, but she discovers his family and hers are feuding over water rights. When her father finally accepts that she is his daughter, he wants to marry her off to a rich neighbor who has a dark past.
Scandal and murder are catching her in a snare—Who can she possibly trust in a town too tough to die?
“I told you this wasn’t finished, Spencer!” And he tried to land a fist on Jake’s jaw, an attempt which was deflected. Jake grabbed him by the shoulders and threw him to the floor. Henderson tripped Jake, and they rolled over, trading blows.
As the crowd gathered to watch the two combatants, Sheriff Cortland and one of his deputies pulled them apart. “What is going on here?”
Henderson pointed at Jake. “He was interfering with my intended.”
Cat, who was watching with horror from the sidelines, belted out, “I’m not your intended!”
The sheriff thought for a moment. “Mr. Henderson, since you are who you are, I’m going to let you two sort this out peacefully. If you can’t do it peacefully, I’m putting you both in jail.”
By that time, Albert and John had joined them. Henderson turned to Albert and pointed at Cat. “I wish you would control your daughter.”
Cat felt her whole body tense with a desire to get a gun and blow Henderson to kingdom come. “I can’t take this any more!” she exploded. “Father, I told you how I feel. If you insist on Mr. Henderson courting me, I will have to move out.”
“Cat, listen—” Albert moved to put a hand on her shoulder, but she shook him off.
“Leave me alone! Why can’t everybody leave me alone!” She ran out the side door and into the carriage lot, where she untied her mask, leaned on one of the hitching posts, and burst into tears full of hurt, anger, and frustration. She heard someone come over to her.
“May I help?”
She turned, and Polly was there. “What’s going on in there?”
Polly embraced her. “The three are glaring at each other in a Mexican standoff. I’m guessing if one went after you the others would fight him.”
Cat pulled back and raised her hands in a pleading gesture. “What am I going to do? Everyone thinks they know better than I do what’s for my own good. Why do men do that?” Polly just shook her head. Cat took a handkerchief out of her reticule and dried her face.
In another few minutes, Albert came up, with John behind him, and they were carrying the girls’ capes. “Put these on. We’re going home.”
Cat was tying her hood when they heard two shots go off, just around the corner of the building from where they stood. Everyone ran toward the sound, and then Cat screamed. Jake was down, clutching his arm where the red of blood was soaking it, and Henderson was in a heap on the other side of the walk. She heard horse hoofs beating down the dark street and caught a glimpse of a figure riding away. The white tail of the fleeing horse waved like a beacon. She ran to Jake and dropped down beside him. Peggy struggled through the crowd and exclaimed, “Oh, no! Jake!”
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