By Lyn
Copyright 1999

Chapter One

"Ike! No!" BOOM!

Buck sat up in his bunk suddenly, bathed in sweat, the nightmare slowly fading. He looked around. Good. He hadn't woke any of the others. He swung his legs over the side of the bunk, resting his elbows on his knees, his head in his hands, waiting for the last of the dream to dissipate. Then he lay back down, staring at the ceiling until he fell asleep again shortly before dawn.

Cody and Noah were in the barn tossing fresh hay into the stalls, Cody grumbling as usual.

"I just don't see the difference. Why shouldn't I write a book that contains the truth instead of the hog wash that people like Marcus write?"

"Because either way, you're invading someone's privacy." Noah replied as he looked at Cody, who was leaning on the pitch fork instead of helping.

"You remember what happened to Jimmy don't you?" Buck added as he carried another bale over to the pair, sitting it down between the two.

"But Marcus wrote a bunch of lies. My stories would be truth."

"The truth as you see it." Noah muttered.

"And the truth can still cause trouble." Buck tossed in as the dinner bell rang. "best to let it be Cody."

The three young men walked over to the bunkhouse, stopping to knock straw off their clothes and to wash faces and hands. Teaspoon was already inside with Jimmy, Lou and Rachel. Kid was on a run and wouldn't return until morning.

They had no sooner sat around the table and begun passing bowls of peas and potatoes and platters of chicken when a wagon pulled up outside.

"I wonder who that could be?" Rachel said, rising to go look out the window.

"Hello the bunkhouse!" A woman's voice called out. "Are we in time for supper?!"

The riders and Teaspoon all looked at each other.

"Emma!" came a chorus of voices all at once. Lou and Jimmy were out the door in a flash, Cody close behind, followed a little slower by Teaspoon and Buck. Rachel and Noah brought up the rear. Lou was already throwing her arms around the woman.

"Lulla Belle! It's so good to see you again." Sam Cain, Emma's husband was getting down from the wagon seat. Emma turned to the others.

"Jimmy, handsome as ever. Staying out of trouble?" She pulled him into an embrace. "Emma," was all he said, returning the hug. Sam had walked over to her side and greeted Jimmy as Emma moved on.

"Cody. Still causing trouble?"

"Aw Emma!"

Teaspoon was on her, sweeping her around in a circle and planting a kiss on her cheek.

"Why Mr. Spoon! I'm a married woman now, you know!"

"Emma, you're a sight to behold. Wish I could say the same about you, Sam," he said turning to the lawman and extending his hand.

"Why thank you, Teaspoon. You make a man feel welcome."

Emma approached the silent young man standing at the bottom of the bunkhouse steps. A smile spread across his face.

"Hello Emma." She stepped up to him, wrapping her arms around him in a hug which he uncomfortably returned, still not used to such displays of affection.

"Buck, I'm so sorry about Ike. We came as soon as we could."

"Thanks Emma." He suddenly developed knot in his throat.

Sam had made his way through the group of riders, shaking hands and slapping shoulders.

"Emma, Sam, I'd like you to meet the two new members of our little family. This here is Noah Dixon, our newest rider and Mrs. Rachel Dunne. Rachel has taken over riding herd on these boys." They all shook hands.

"We were just sitting down to supper. Please join us." Rachel said, looking over the woman she had replaced.

"We really don't want to be any trouble."

"Don't be silly. There's plenty."

"Where's the Kid at?" Sam asked as they all filed back inside.

On to Chapter Two

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