"A Love Reborn"
By Lisa and Melissa



I knew this day would come. The day my neighbors would turn against me and blame me for their misfortunes. I was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang. The year was 1692, and twas not a good time to be different in Salem, Massachusetts. My name was Morgan Richardson and I was called a Witch, and as one I would not be allowed to live, for as I was reminded consistently throughout my short imprisonment "Thou shall not suffer a witch to live."

Of course, the truth of the matter was that I did indeed practice the Craft of the Wise, as my mother did before me. Of course I tried to be discreet, and it was during one of my secret forays into the woods that I met the man I knew I was destined to be with. "Savage" some called his kind. Kind and loving was what he was. He watched as I cast my circle and began the ritual of the full moon. I sensed him there, and sought him out. He emerged from the cover of the trees and stopped just outside of my circle. His name was Red Eagle, he was the most handsome man I had ever seen. His dark hair hung to his shoulders and his brown eyes were the warmest I had seen since arriving in this small town with my father five years before, he wore a breechcloth and buckskin leggings and shirt. I closed my circle and approached him. We spoke for several hours, he told me he had learned the white man's tongue from a man who chose to live among his people, he said he had been watching me for a long time.

We met there every night, well every night until the night Mrs. Hawthorn accused me of casting a spell on her, causing her to lose her child. You must understand that Mr. Hawthorn did not really try to hide his amorous intentions towards me. Then again, according to him, I had cast a spell on him as well - a love spell. So the virtuous Mrs. Hawthorn's accusation stuck to me like molasses, it didn't matter that the reasoning behind the accusation was jealousy.

Three days later I found myself here being led to the gallows. Former friends and neighbors spat at me and called me names, God fearing they called themselves, but they were nothing but murderers to me. I was glad my father had died two years prior and didn't have to see the hangman tighten the noose around my neck. As the reverend prayed for my eternal soul, I prepared myself to feel the hatchway drop and with it my body. I was grateful I had been given a quick death, some of the others were not so lucky. Some were drowned and others burned at the stake. The good reverend finished his prayer and the crowd once again took up the now all too familiar chant of "Kill the Witch! Kill the Witch!" I prayed to the Goddess for help, and just before the hangman pulled the lever that would have ended my life, a war cry carried to my ear.

As the crowd ran for their lives, Red Eagle stealthily ran through the trees and up to the gallows, upon which he freed me. Together we ran into the woods towards the area where his tribe had made camp. I stood there in his protection for many months and was treated with respect, for I was a Shaman in their eyes. I studied under their Medicine Man and was considered one of their own. I should not have to tell you, I fell in love with Red Eagle and we were married a short while later.

Several months later, I felt it safe to travel into the wood. For now word had reached us that the barbaric punishments being given to innocent women and men in Salem had come to an end. I was out gathering berries to make our meal special that night for we were celebrating the fact that I was carrying Red Eagle's child, and herbs for medicines for the tribe. Humming to myself, I was unaware of another presence. I was grabbed from behind, gagged and blindfolded. I never knew who my attacker was. The next thing I knew I felt the weight of the noose around my neck. Then the tears started. For I now knew two things for certain, first that I'd never live to see my husband again in this lifetime and second that he'd never know the child I was carrying.

As the hatchway dropped, I took solace in the knowledge that I would be reborn again, as would he, and I could only pray that I would find my love again, for ours twas special. How could I know it would take 170 years before I would see my beloved again on the street in a town called Rock Creek. His name was not Red Eagle, as my name was no longer Morgan Richardson. For in those 170 years we were reborn to different parents in different circumstances. But just as I knew I could remember what my past life had been like, I also knew that the man walking out of the Marshal's office had no idea of what he was to me then. For all he knew he was and has always been Buck Cross. But to me he would always be my loveÖ my saviorÖ my husband.


Chapter 1


As Buck walked out of the Marshalís office, he had no idea that he was being watched. Teaspoon had been called out of town for a few days, so he did what he always does : he deputized the riders. It was Buckís turn to put up with Barnett, but there was just so much that he could take at once. He needed some fresh air. Buck walked over and sat down in the chair, right outside of the office. He leaned back on the two back legs and rested his feet on the hitching post in front of him. It was a clear, crisp autumn day, and as Buck closed his eyes, he drew in a deep satisfying breath. Suddenly he felt something tickle his face and he raised his hand to wipe it away. Not two seconds later he felt it again, and once again went to wipe it away.

Damn mosquitoes, he thought to himself. Wonít leave me alone. When it happened a third time he opened his eyes and was going to look for something to smack it with, but instead was startled by a pair of gorgeous, twinkling brown eyes staring into his.

"Gotcha!" Lily laughed as she gently brushed his lips with hers.

"Lily!" Buck looked up in surprise. "I wasnít expecting you, but you are just what I needed." He smiled warmly at her. After a day of putting up with Barnett, seeing Lily seemed to bring some sanity back into his life. He brought the chair back down on all four legs again, and opened his arms, inviting Lily into his lap. Lily smiled back and accepted his invitation. She curled up in his lap, and nestled her head in the crook of his neck. She breathed in deeply, inhaling the leathery, musky, masculine smell that she loved so much. She sighed contently and thought to herself about the past few weeks.

When she thought about it, she couldnít believe that it had only been three weeks since the incident out on the prairie, three weeks since she had met the man of her dreams. After returning to Sweetwater, she had nursed Buck back to health, not willing to leave his side until she knew that he was going to be okay. It had only taken one look into his deep brown eyes for her to realize that this was the man for her. Even after everything that had happened in Spirit Canyon, she loved him like she would love no other. And what was more important was that she knew he loved her just as much, if not more. This was the man that she had been wishing for since she was a little girl, and it was just a simple twist of fate that had brought them together. For the past three weeks, they had spent their time learning about each other and each otherís pasts, and enjoying spending every minute of their time together.

For the other riders, it was taking some getting used to seeing Buck like this. As long as they had known him, there was always a part of him that seemed reserved and he always kept to himself. Then after Ike died, Buck seemed to pull into his shell even more, not wanting to talk to anyone or do anything. Now he was like a new person. There wasnít a day that went by where Buck wasnít seen laughing and smiling, and it was clear to everyone how strong his and Lilyís love was.

Lily closed her eyes and Buck did the same. Together they basked in the late afternoonís warm rays of sun, and daydreamed about their future life together.

"Buck! Buck, where are you??" called an annoyingly loud voice.

Buck opened one eye and looked over his shoulder, where Barnett was rushing out of the Marshalís office. He opened the other eye and looked down at Lily, where she was staring up at him with an amused expression on her face. She giggled and kissed him again. "Duty calls."

"Yeah, yeah, donít remind me." Buck grumbled. "He probably shot himself in the foot."

Lily laughed and playfully hit his arm. She went to climb off of his lap, and he unwillingly let her go.

"Will you still be here?" he asked her.

"Do you want me to be?" she grinned.

"Donít tease," Buck smiled mischievously. "Or youíll pay later." He walked over to her, held her arms at her side, and just stared at her for a minute, taking in her beauty and reveling in the knowledge that she was his. "I love you," he said softly as he leaned down to kiss her again.

Lily looked up at him with sheer happiness in her eyes. "I love you too Buck Cross." She stood up on her tiptoes and kissed him again. "Now you go take care of Barnett before he has a nervous breakdown."

Buck laughed, his entire face lighting up as he turned to walk into the Marshalís office, just as Barnett bellowed for him again.


"Iím-coming-Barnett!" Buck grumbled.

Lily laughed and walked over to the chair where she sat down again. She smiled as she looked around the town that she had grown to think of as home. So far, with the exception of the shopkeeper Mr. Thompkins, she had been greeted warmly by the townspeople. But Buck had warned her to Thompkinsí prejudices against Indians, so she really wasnít too taken aback by him. She sighed again and was about to get up and check on Buck and Barnett, when she got the prickly feeling that someone was staring at her. She looked around and was about to give up when she caught a glimpse of a young girl fleeing behind the Docís office.

"Hmm," Lily said to herself as she stood up. "Wonder what that was all about? Oh well," she said as she shrugged her shoulders and turned to walk into the Marshalís office to see what was going on.




Devon Morgan rode into town thinking about the last few weeks.

I don't know what led me to this small frontier town. Maybe it was the dreams? My dear grandmother told me I should heed what they told me. So after she passed on I packed what little I had and headed west. In the three months since I'd left Boston, I managed to save enough money to buy a home and start up a small farm. More than once, I had been told, mostly by men, that I should settle down and get married. I knew I couldn't do that, I had to find him, the man I'd been dreaming about for the last three years. The one my grandmother said was my husband in a past life.

At first I thought the herbs we had been collecting at night had affected her differently than it did me, but I knew there were things grandmother knew that no one could explain so I listened and learned from her. She told me to listen with my heart to what the dreams were showing me, and when I did, I realized she was right. I always knew our beliefs were different from those around us. To stay safe grandmother and I practiced our religion late at night, away from prying eyes. It wasn't until I began dreaming of my husband and ultimately my death, that I realized why it was done and why we must be cautious.

The dreams of my death always began as I leave Red Eagle sleeping to go into the wood to gather herbs for medicines. Although I never saw who ambushed me that night. His voice was all I needed to recognize the man that hanged me, the man who left Red Eagle never to know his unborn child or to ever see his wife's smiling face. Tears ran down my cheeks as I remembered the sadness I felt as he strung me up. I had yet to meet this man in this lifetime, I dreaded the day we might came upon each other.

Grandmother told me I had nothing to fear. She said most people never remembered their pasts, it was only a special few who did. She told me that even if I did find Red Eagle in this lifetime, he might not remember me, what we shared, or worst of all he may never feel the same way about me. As I rode into town, I remembered telling my grandmother I understood, I actually believed I accepted those facts, . . . and then I saw him.

He was sitting just outside the Marshal's office, and though he was wearing white men's clothes and not a breechcloth, I would have recognized him, he was still lean and handsome. I stood watching him for some time after I tethered my horse. It was as if everything I had felt for him as Morgan Richardson came flooding back to me, it was as if we had never been separated by 170 years. It was an omen, that since arriving here three weeks ago I should come into town today and see him here.

Then it was as if all of the air left my lungs at the same time, I could not catch my breath. A young woman approached him, sat on his lap and kissed him. I wanted to scream out, but he kissed her in return. He enjoyed it! They spoke for some moments then someone called him from inside. As he rose to see what was wrong they laughed together and he spoke the three words I longed to hear him say to me. My heart shattered. I turned and ran.

I ran without direction and without thinking. Suddenly I hit the solid form of a man. I was crying so I didn't look up into his face at first. Instead, I occupied myself with the task of wiping my eyes as he steadied me.

"Whoa there," He said, "You should watch where you're going."

The voice! It was the voice from my nightmares. I looked up slowly and saw the man who caused my death. I pushed away from him and screamed a soul-shattering yell, and ran the way I had come. I didn't notice the group of people who had gathered in the street after hearing my cry. In one fluid motion I untied my horse and was on it riding toward my homestead.

Buck, who had run out with Barnett just in time to see a mass of black curly hair ride off on a horse, looked at Lily questioningly. She looked up at him and shrugged. A man came from behind the doc's office looking ale and confused, he approached the two deputies.

"What was that about?' Barnett asked him.

"Got me." He answered.

"Know her?" Buck said.

"Can't say I've ever had the pleasure of meeting her before, but she does seem familiar."

Buck smiled at the older man, "Don't feel bad. Sometimes I have the impulse to run from you too Thompkins."




Chapter 2


Devon rode as fast as she could, not knowing where she was going, just that she couldnít stay where she was. Her vision was blurred by hot, stinging tears that wouldnít stop cascading down her cheeks. She felt a crushing pain in her chest and was having a difficult time breathing. Seeing Red Eagle with another woman practically ripped her apart inside, but coming face to face with her murderer almost sent her over the edge.

Devon rounded a corner and found herself at the side of a road. Since she was not in her right frame of mind, she continued riding right out into the middle of the road. She didnít have enough time to get out of the way of the horse and wagon that was coming straight towards her - all she could do was bury her head in her horseís mane and brace for the impact.




Rachel was humming softly to herself as she steered the wagon down the road, on her way to town. She didnít see the young girl frantically ride out in front of the wagon until it was too late. Her horses reared and whinnied, startling the horse the girl was riding. Rachel could only watch in horror as the young girl was thrown from her horse.

"Whoa! Whoa there!" Rachel cried as she tried to calm the horses. When she was finally able to climb down, she ran to where the girl was lying motionless on the ground. Rachel felt for her pulse and took relief in knowing that she was still alive, but unconscious. She struggled to pull her up to the back of the wagon, and as soon as she was secure, Rachel climbed back up on to the buckboard.

"Hah!" she exclaimed, urging the horses forward. "Hold on honey, youíre going to be just fine," she told the unconscious girl.




"Rider cominí!" Cody called out.

Lou walked over to him and squinted. "Hey, thatís Rachel! She was supposed to be in town, I wonder what happened?"

"I donít know," Cody answered.

"Cody! Lou!" The wagon had barely stopped before Rachel jumped out of it, calling for the riders.

Cody and Lou looked at each other and then ran over to the wagon to see what was wrong.

"Whatís the matta Rachel?" Cody asked at the same time that Lou spoke.

"Rachel, what happened? Whoís that?" Lou cocked her head to the side to indicate the girl in the back of the wagon.

"I donít know who she is," Rachel sighed wearily. "She was on a horse and just dashed out into the middle of the road in front of the wagon! Her horse got spooked, and she was thrown. Sheís alive, but unconscious."

"Letís get her into the house," Cody said as he gently lifted the unconscious girl out of the wagon and carried her up the porch steps. Once inside, he laid her down on the couch, while Lou got a basin of water and a cloth to clean the wound with. When Rachel wiped the cloth on the girlís forehead, she moaned and stirred.

"Do you want me to go get the Doc Rachel?" Cody asked.

"Yes, please." she answered.

Cody walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder. "Sheís gonna be all right Rachel, donít you worry."

Rachel looked up at him and smiled. "Thank you Cody."

Cody nodded his head, smiled, and ran outside to get his horse. On his way out he noticed Jimmy, Buck and Lily riding in from town. He still wasnít quite used to the fact that their quiet, moody rider was in love, and walking around with a goofy grin on his face half the time! Cody chuckled to himself as he watched Buck walk over to Lily and place his arm around her waist.

"Now, why do you look like the cat that ate the canary Cody?" Lily questioned, an amused smile on her face.

"Oh, no reason, no reason at all!" Cody grinned back mischievously.

"Hey Cody? Rachelís back from town already?" Jimmy asked.

"Huh? Oh, yeah!" Cody snapped back to attention. "She had an accident on the way into town."

"Accident?" Lily asked, a worried look crossing her face. "Is she okay?"

"Sheís fine, but the girl that was thrown from her horse ainít. Apparently this girl was upset about something, and just rode into the middle of the road without lookiní where she was goiní. Rachelís wagon spooked the horse, and she was thrown. Sheís unconscious and Rachel brought her back here. Iím on my way to get the Doc now."

Buck and Lily glanced quickly at each other before running towards the house.

"Whatís with them?" Cody asked Jimmy.

Jimmy shrugged. "Beats me, but Iím gonna go find out."

Cody nodded as he ran towards the barn. "Iíll be back with the Doc!" he yelled to Jimmy.




"Are you thinkiní the same thing that I am?" Buck asked Lily as they walked into the living room. Laying unconscious on the couch was the mysterious girl from town.

Lily gasped. "Buck! Thatís the same girl from before!"

Rachel looked up from where she had finished bandaging the wound. "Buck, Lily, do you know her?"

Buck shook his head. "No, but we saw her in town a little while ago. Lily said that she was staring at her outside of the Marshalís Office, but then took off runniní. In fact, she ran right into Thompkins, but then she screamed like she was scared of him and ran off again!"

"Well, even though Thompkins ainít the friendliest person in town, something must have happened to scare her like that." Jimmy said as he walked in the room from where he had been standing in the doorway listening.

"Well, from what youíre telliní me Buck, it sounds like we had the accident right after she came running from whatever it was that scared her." Rachel reasoned.

Buck walked over to where the girl was laying and took a close look at her. She was very beautiful, with thick masses of black curly hair, porcelain-like translucent skin, defined features, and a petite figure. Buck had the tugging feeling that he knew her from somewhere, but he couldnít quite place it.

"Mhmm," the girl moaned as she shifted slightly.

"Hey, it looks like sheís finally waking up," Jimmy said as all five of them gathered around her.

Her eyelids began to flutter, her long black eyelashes opening to reveal a stunning pair of violet eyes. The eyes widened as she took in the sight in front of her, five people leaning down over her with expectant looks on their faces. Her eyes traveled from Rachel, to Lou, to Jimmy, and then finally landed on Buck and Lily, when they widened even more.


Chapter 3


My head ached and I felt sore all over. I never had felt so uncomfortable in my bed, I finally gave up trying to sleep and decided that now was the time to get up and do my chores. The throbbing in my head only increased as I opened my eyes. Then I saw them, all standing around me.

As my eyes adjusted to the light I looked at them all. A pretty woman with strawberry blond hair, another woman who was dressed as a man, a rather handsome if not menacing looking young man, and . . . .Red Eagle and his new woman! I groaned. Understanding hit me suddenly. Seeing Red Eagle in the arms of another, running into Tinsdale the Witch hunter, fleeing the town and then my accident. I kept my gaze on my beloved and reached out a hand to him.

"My love." I said in a raspy voice.

The group looked at each other than at him with questions in their eyes. "Buck, do you know this girl?" The blond woman asked.

He looked over to the Indian woman by his side and spoke his answer to her, "No, I've never seen her before in my life." The young woman seemed contented with his answer.

Oh to hear his voice again, it was wonderful. I don't know what I expected him to do, but it was not to put his arm around the maiden and hold her to his side as the blond woman tended to the wound on my head. Seeing them together broke what small restraint I had on my emotions. The tears flowed quickly. As I cried, the blond woman ushered the group out of the room, telling them to wait for the doctor on the porch.

"There, there now. you're gonna be just fine. Don't cry." The blond woman said soothingly. "Are you thirsty?"

I nodded and she gave me a glass of water from a pitcher by the sofa. It took a minute or two but I managed to calm myself a bit to drink some and ask some questions. "Where am I?"

"You're in my living room. Are you in any pain?"

The pain in my head was no match for the one in my heart. I shook my head no and handed her the now empty glass of water. "Who are you?"

"The name's Rachel, and I keep house for some of the boys in the Pony Express. I'm also the one who ran into you on the road. And you are?"

"My name is Devon Morgan. I'm new in town, and the accident was my fault. I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing or where I was going. Are you hurt?"

"No I'm fine, I was worried about you though." She said with a kind smile.

I liked this woman. While we sat and talked for a while I found myself believing that we could be good friends, at least I hoped we could. We were deep in conversation, when the sound of hoof beats vibrated from outside. Minutes later an older man came in with a young blond man I hadn't seen before behind him. In the doorway stood Red Eagle, and his friends. Rachel spoke quickly to the doctor, explaining what had happened and how long I had been unconscious.

The doctor took over quickly. He emptied the room of everyone but Rachel, and just as quickly examined me. After finding me no worse for the wear, he turned to leave but was stopped by Rachel who spoke to him so quietly I couldn't hear what they were saying. The doctor opened the door and spoke to the men and women on the porch, then came back into the house followed by everyone else.

I sat up on the sofa. Rachel who sat by my side introduced me to everyone. The dark haired man was Jimmy, the blond man was Cody, the woman in trousers was Lou, and she introduced me to Red Eagle who she called Buck and the Indian maiden, Lily. As I looked at each in turn the two men, Jimmy and Cody looked at me with genuine male interest, especially Cody. Lou, however looked as if she didn't trust me. Perhaps it was my dress or maybe my hair or eyes. I was used to women disliking me for one reason or another without even knowing me. I smiled shyly at her but she gave me no response. I then looked over at Lily and Buck. My tears threatened to spill again but I would not let that happen. I looked away quickly and focused my attention on the doctor.

The doctor sat on a chair across from me. "I hear that you had a problem in town today, would you like to talk about it."

His tone was condescending, and I didn't particularly like the way he was speaking to me. I raised my chin a notch. "No, no problems." I lied, then I chanced a glance at Buck. He and Lily shared a quick and silent exchange that spoke volumes to me not only did they know I was lying but it showed me the way they felt about each other, it was the same way we looked at each other; once. I tried and failed to hold back the sobs that were now racking my body.

Rachel immediately put an arm around my shoulders. "What's wrong Devon?"

"I can't lose him!" I wailed.


I pointed to Buck, "Him, Red Eagle." The group turned their attention to Buck who shrugged and arched an eyebrow.

Rachel shook her head, "You're mistaken honey, his name is Buck."

"No, his name is now Buck, but it used to be Red Eagle."

Rachel turned to look at him. "My name has always been Running Buck Cross." He said.

No!" I yelled. "Not when we were married!"

Buck stepped back as if he were struck. He looked around at all the faces of his friends, then turned to Lily who's eyes were wide. Her gaze searching for answers and afraid of what he might tell her.

"We were never married." He said to her.

If I hadn't been hysterical perhaps I would have thought before speaking, but that wasn't the case. I wanted him back at any cost, even if that meant hurting this innocent young woman. "Yes we were!" I said and I held everyone's attention, then without thinking I added, "We were married in Salem Massachusetts in 1692!" The expressions on the faces before me went from suspicion to pity.

"Are you telling us that you and Buck have been married for almost two hundred years." Jimmy asked, "Because if you are I'd just like to say how good you look for your age."

In one moment I was put on the defensive, I had to make them believe. It was my only chance. "No what I'm saying is that he and I were married two hundred years ago."

"Oh well that makes more sense." He muttered.

"Jimmy . ." Rachel said in warning. It was then, in the silence that followed that I knew they all thought I was insane. I had to convince them.

"I can prove it."

"How?" Jimmy said.

I looked around the room at all the faces. "Haven't you ever known something, or were able to do something without ever knowing where you learned it?"

"Yeah, so." Lou said.

"It's because you've already learned it. In a past life." They were all still unconvinced. "I knew him, we were married, and then I was murdered."

"In 1692, in Salem, Massachusetts?" The doctor said, then looked at me with wide eyes. "My Lord are you saying you were killed for being a Witch?"

I sighed, "Yes."

"That's no proof you two were married." Lou pointed out.

"Okay, Red - I mean Buck has a birthmark." I said.

The group looked over at the Kiowa questioningly. "I ain't never seen a birthmark on him." Cody said.

"It's not where you could've easily seen it, but I as his wife did."

"Well now I'm interested." Jimmy said with a devilish grin. "So where is it?"

I blushed as I fumbled for the right way to phrase my statement. "It's well . . .it's umm . . .it's a crescent shape, and it's . . .er well it's on his left . . .cheek." There, I had said it. That should be all the proof they needed.

Cody looked at Buck's face closely, "I don't see no moon birthmark."

"Not that cheek." I said quietly.

Realization hit Cody quickly and he began to laugh heartily, the others in the room tried to hold it in. "So when Buck drops his drawers you see two moons?" Cody said between laughs, and the others in the room exploded in laughter.

Everyone except Buck and Lily. Buck looked down into Lily's face, her eyes were wide; shining with unshed tears and questions. The foremost question being how could Devon know about the birthmark that Lily had just recently seen for herself. Buck reached out to Lily, but she turned and fled the house.

He looked at me then, I hoped he would have come to me, wrap me in his arms and tell me he believed. Instead, he shook his head slowly and left to go after Lily.


Chapter 4


"Lily! Lily, please wait!" Buck called from the porch steps.

Lily stopped running and turned around, her long black hair swinging out behind her. When she faced Buck her cheeks were stained with tears, her eyes a harsh red, her breath coming in fierce gasps. Buck felt his heart leap into his throat at the site of her. He was causing her this pain, and it killed him inside, but he didnít know what to do. Devon must be mad for sure, but how could he explain how she knew about his birthmark?

Buck walked down the steps and over to Lily in three long strides. When he reached her, he took her hands in his and looked into her eyes. "Lily, you must believe me. I swear to you, I have no idea who she is. Iíve never seen her before today in my life!"

Lily continued to sob as she looked at Buck with pained eyes. "Then, how does she know? How could she?"

Buck shook his head and went to embrace Lily, but she pushed him away. "Lily-"

"No, donít. I want to believe you, I want to believe you more than anything." Lily looked over Buckís shoulder towards the house. "But how am I supposed to accept the fact that a woman you claim to have never seen before knows something that I only discovered two nights ago?"

"I told you, I donít know. But sheís crazy if she thinks that I believe her story!" Buck turned her chin so that she was facing him again and stared deeply into her eyes. "I love you Lily. I have given you my heart, and I donít ever want it back again. You are the woman that I want to spend the rest of my life with. You are the woman that I want to have children with. Not some crazy woman who says that she was married to me 170 years ago!"

"I know that Buck, and you know that I feel the same way about you." Lily blinked back fresh tears as sobs continued to wrack her lithe frame.

"Then whatís the matter?"

Lily wiped her tears away with the palms of her hands, and cocked her head to the right as she looked up into Buckís distressed face. "I think that you should go and see Red Bear."

"My brother? Why? Heíll just tell me what we already know. That Devon is mad!" Buck stated.

Lily shook her head. "Youíre telling me that there isnít at least a small part of you that is wondering if Devon could possibly be telling the truth?"

Buckís eyes shifted downward.

"I thought so," Lily stated gravely as she pulled out of Buckís arms.

Buck looked up, a hurt and hopeless expression on his face. "Lily-"

Lily walked over to him, smiled and gave him a quick kiss on his lips. "Donít think Iím saying that Iím willing to give you up. Oh no, if Miss Morgan thinks that she is going to get rid of me that easily, she has a lot to learn."

Buck gave a crooked smile.

Lilyís expression turned serious again. "But I do want you to visit Red Bear and tell him whatís going on. Maybe heíll have some advice."

Buck nodded. The last time he was having problems, he had gone through a ritual with The Man of Dreams. Maybe he will be able to help me again, he thought to himself. "Youíre right," he finally told her.

"I know I am." Lily gave a small smile. "When are you planning to leave?"

"Iím going to mount up and leave right away. I want this cleared up as soon as possible so that life can go back to normal." Buck told her as he gathered her in his arms again, burying his face in her hair. "And I want our life to get back to normal."

Lily looked up at him and kissed him again. "Be careful Buck."

"I will. Tell the others where Iíve gone?" He asked.

Lily nodded.

"I love you." Buck kissed her softly, their passion growing as the seconds passed by. Lily finally pulled away reluctantly and took a deep breath.

"I promise you, there will be plenty of time for danciní when you get back."

Buck grinned back at her, his eyebrow raised, a mischievous glint in his eyes. "Donít think Iím not going to hold you to it!"

Lily laughed a deep throaty laugh. "I wouldnít have it any other way! Now if you ever plan on making it to the camp before nightfall, you had better get moving!"

"Okay, okay!" Buck leaned down and kissed Lily quickly as he turned and mounted his horse, which had been left as it was since returning from town. "Iíll be back by tomorrow afternoon." He called as he kicked the horse and took off.

"Ride safe my love." Lily said softly as she watched Buck ride off. She was filled with apprehension and fear, for she wasnít sure she wanted to find out what Buck would learn back at the Kiowa camp.






As soon as Buck left, the room was draped in silence. After several minutes, I rose from my seat slowly and looked over at Rachel. She wouldn't meet my eyes.

"I'm sorry." I said quietly. "I only wanted him to know the truth. I'm not crazy."

"You could've fooled me." Lou said as she turned and left the small parlor, followed by Cody and the doctor. Jimmy stayed in the room with Rachel.

"Aren't you going to go too?" I asked.

He shook his head, "I don't want to leave Rachel alone in the same room with you."

I nodded slowly, and looked around for anything that might have been mine. "I better go. I have a farm to run and I've been gone too long as it is." Once again I turned to Rachel, and although I knew she might not take it, I held my hand out to her. "Thank you for being worried about me." My hand stood hanging in the air for about a minute before I dropped it and turned to leave.

"Jimmy, ride back with her." Rachel said softly.

Jimmy and I looked at each other. He shook his head as I said, "That's not necessary, if you just tell me in what direction to go I can find my own way home."

Rachel stood and walked up to me, a slight smile on her face. "You seem to be having a run of bad luck, I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if something happened to you on your way home. Jimmy will make sure that doesn't happen."

"I'd appreciate that."

Rachel looked over at Jimmy and nodded towards the door. "Why don't you go and saddle up Devon's horse, while she straightens herself up?" Jimmy sighed loudly then turned and walked out of the house.

Several minutes later, I left the safety of Rachel's house and walked out into the daylight. The doctor had left but the group of riders were all standing by the corral, everyone but Buck. I turned my face quickly and looked at Rachel, who was also looking for the young Indian.

"Rachel, I know everyone thinks I'm crazy, and I'd understand if you want nothing to do with me, but I'd like to repay your kindness. I'd like you to come to my home for dinner or lunch." I said hopefully.

Rachel saw the hope in my eyes, and nodded slowly. "I'd like that."

Jimmy interrupted us then. "Buck left to go see his brother. He said he needed to talk to him."

I took the reins from Jimmy and looked over to the group still standing at the corral staring at me. Seeing how easily Lily had gotten along with the group made me feel ashamed as if I had intruded on a family. I mounted my horse Starlight, with Jimmy by my side and headed for my home.

The ride back home was quick, although it seemed longer since Jimmy never spoke a word to me. I never knew I lived so close to the man who had been my destiny. I directed Starlight into my paddock, Jimmy beside me. As I dismounted, I decided to be a good hostess.

"Would you like something to drink or eat before you leave?" I asked.

"No." He said from his saddle on his Palomino.

"Alright, well thank you for bringing me home." I turned and lead Starlight into the stable leaving Jimmy behind.

Jimmy took the opportunity to look around the small farm. Devon had a small house with plenty of land, she had about 12 heads of the healthiest cattle he'd ever seen in a field and a diverse selection of crops. In front of her house she had a small garden of herbs and a small bed of flowers. It didn't look like the home of a crazed woman.

I was brushing Starlight when I felt him come into the stable.

"Why'd you do it?" Jimmy asked.

"Do what?" I answered without looking at him.

"Why are you trying to cause trouble between Buck and Lily?"

I stopped brushing and came around to stand in front of him, "I am not trying to cause anyone any trouble. I just want a chance to make him see what we had. I want to make him believe me and know I'm not crazy."

"No you're not crazy, you're just a witch." Jimmy said snippily.

"I may be a witch, but I'm not a liar." I said then turned towards the door. "Forget it," I said over my shoulder, "I can't explain it to you."

Jimmy ran after me as I left the stable and walked towards my house. He grabbed my elbow and turned me around to face him. "Try." He said

"I know to you it seems like I've never met him before. But I know I have, I have memories, real memories that I relive everyday. When I lived in Boston, I succeeded in pushing those memories to the back of my mind, then I saw him today and it was like a dam broke and everything I held in my heart came rushing out. I just needed to be with him."

Jimmy looked at me still unconvinced. "Then you saw Lily and him together."

I nodded, "And it was like my heart shattered in a hundred pieces. You don't know what it's like to love someone with every part of you and not have that person love you back, but instead give all the love they have to another person"

"Yes I do."

Jimmy's answer was so soft spoken that I wasn't sure I had heard him, but the hurt in his eyes was evident. "So then can you try to understand what I'm feeling?"

"Yeah, I guess I can." Jimmy then turned to leave.

I called out to him. "Jimmy -?" He turned, "-If you ever want someone to talk to about it, I'm always here."

Jimmy nodded slowly, mounted his horse and rode towards town.




Chapter 5


Jimmy thought about the conversation he'd had with Devon as he rode into town. Maybe she wasn't crazy? Maybe what she was saying was true? As he rode to the Marshal's office he noticed a large group of men standing outside of Thompkin's store yelling at Barnett who was trying to keep the peace. Jimmy tethered his horse and walked up to the group to see what they were about.

"That's my third cow in the past three weeks." One man said.

"I've lost four in the last two." Another man was saying.

Jimmy walked over to a farmer he and the boys had helped out on occasion, "What's goin' on?"

"Our cattle is dying and no one knows why." The man replied.

The voices of the men grew and they began yelling about their losses to Barnett. Jimmy was about to stand beside the deputy when the voices were silenced by a child's question.

"Why don't you ask the witch to help?"

The mother of the child smiled weakly and tried to pull the child away. Telling the small girl to hush.

"But mama," The girl protested. "Her cows are all nice and fat, and she did help you with the pain in your stomach with the magic potion she made."

The mother smiled at the group of men and turned to leave, but she was stopped by a burly farmer.

"What is she talkin' about?" The man asked.

The woman was flushed with embarrassment. "I went to welcome the new young woman into town, and as I was talking to her my stomach began to ache me as it has for the past several months. The doc hasn't been able to fix me, but Devon made me a tea and it hasn't hurt since."

As the men digested this new information, all Jimmy thought of was what kind of trouble would be headed Devon's way. He turned around, walked back to his Palomino, climbed up and was back off in the direction of Devonís farm all in less than a minute.






Devon walked out of her house and over to her garden. She was just about to pick some fresh herbs for tea when she heard the sound of a horse approaching. She wasnít expecting any visitors, but she was even more surprised when she saw who it was.

"Jimmy!" Devon called out. "Jimmy, what are you doing back here?"

Jimmy slowed his horse down, climbed off and walked it over to the corral. "Devon, we need to talk."

"I donít understand, whatís wrong? Did something happen to Buck?"

He grabbed her elbow and walked her in the direction of her house. "No. Itís more serious than that."




"So what you are saying is that the townspeople think that I am to blame for their cattle?" Devon questioned.

Jimmy nodded. "I didnít stick around long enough to hear the rest of the conversation, but by the tones of their voices they are very suspicious of you. Now that they know, or at least suspect, you of being a witch, you can bet that there is going to be trouble."

The two of them were sitting at Devonís table. After hearing Jimmyís news, Devon rested her elbows on the table and buried her head in her hands. After a minute or so, Jimmy saw the slight rising and falling of her shoulders, and heard the soft sobs.

"Oh Devon, no, please no, donít cry," Jimmy said as he reached awkwardly across the table to touch her shoulders. At his touch she began to cry even harder. Jimmy, feeling helpless, stood up and walked across to her and wrapped his arms around her from behind. There he held her, whispering comforting words until she was calm.

"Iím sorry Jimmy, I shouldnít have done that." Devon sniffled.

Jimmy turned her around and kneeled down so that he was eye level with her. "Do what? Let out your emotions? Thereís nothing to be ashamed of. Trust me, keepiní them bottled up inside only makes you feel worse." He finished, his gaze dropping to the floor.

"Like you?"

Jimmyís head snapped up. "What do you mean Ďlike meí?"

"Youíre carrying a lot of pain around inside your heart. I can tell."

Jimmy sighed. "If you only knewÖ"

"Tell me."


"Tell me Jimmy. Tell me about the pain, and why youíre in so much of it." Devon took his hand gently and smiled reassuringly at him.

Jimmy stood up and walked back over to his chair and sat down. He looked up at Devon with a defeated look in his eyes. "Remember when you told me that I don't know what it's like to love someone with every part of my heart and soul, and not have that person love you back, only give all the love they have to another person?"

Devon nodded.

"Well, trust me when I say that I know what that feels like more than anyone else, except maybe for you." Jimmy stopped hesitantly for a second, tiny tears appearing in the corners of his eyes and swallowed. "Iíve never talked about this with anyone beforeÖ"

"Please go on. You have my word that I wonít repeat any of this to anyone." Devon encouraged.

Jimmy nodded. "Oh Devon, I donít even know where to begin."

"Is it Lou?"

Jimmyís eyes widened. "How did you know?"

Devon smiled. "I could see the way that you looked at her. It was more than a friendly or sisterly look."

"I love her." His statement was so simple, but yet held so much emotion at the same time. "God, I love her more than life itself. Devon, there isnít a thing that I wouldnít do for her. I would lay my life on the line for her."

"Does she know?"

Jimmy shook his head. "She knows that I have feelings for her, but she doesnít know how strong they are."

"Why havenít you told her how you feel?"

"Because she loves Kid, not me, and thatís the way itís gonna be for the rest of her life." Jimmy bit his lip to try and keep from crying, but one lone tear found itís way down his cheek. "She will never love me the way she loves Kid. Thatís just a fact Iíll have to learn to accept."

Devon stood up, walked around the table and put her arms around Jimmy. It was her turn to be the comforter, not the comforted. As she embraced Jimmy, she felt his shoulders shake with the release of so much hurt and pain that had been building up inside of him for so long. His eyes overflowed with burning hot tears, and he felt like the weight of a hundred pounds was being lifted from his chest. He cried until he felt like he didnít have a drop of water left in his body.

"Itís okay Jimmy, I understand." Devon said as she held him, thoughts of Buck and Lily in her mind. "I know exactly what you are going through."

Jimmy looked up at Devon and cleared his throat. "You must think that Iím a real sissy."

Devon shook her head. "You donít have to be strong all the time Jimmy."


Chapter 6


Buck slowed his horse down as he approached the entrance to the Kiowa camp. He walked his horse through and climbed down. After making sure that his horse was secure, Buck walked over to the Chiefís teepee. He didnít have to ask for Red Bear because he was already waiting for him, standing at the entrance.

"Running Buck!" Red Bearís face lit up with a smile as he held out his arms. "What brings you back here my brother?"

"Red Bear, I need to talk to you." Buck stared at his brotherís face, the urgency evident in his voice.

Red Bearís eyes changed and his face took on a serious expression. "Is there something wrong?"

Buck nodded. "Very."

Red Bear nodded back. "Let us go talk somewhere private." He motioned to Buck to enter his tent. Once inside and seated, Red Bear continued. "You seem very distressed my brother, what is wrong?"

Buck sighed. "A strange girl came into town today, and insisted that she knew me. She claims to have been married to me 170 years ago, but was murdered because she was a witch."

Red Bearís eyes widened. "I see. And what do you think about that?"

Buck laughed. "I think she is crazy."

"Crazy, I see. Then what brought you here? If you have already decided that she is crazy, why come to see me about it?"

Buck blushed. "She knows something very personal about me, that only you, my mother, Song Bird, and Lily know about." When Red Bear gave him a confused look, he continued, blushing an even brighter shade of red. "She knows about my birthmark."

"Youíre birth-, ahhÖ your birthmark?" Red Bear looked down towards Buckís bottom, a smile playing across his face.

Buck nodded quickly. "Yes, that one."

Red Bear chuckled.

"Do you mind?" Buck said accusingly.

"I am sorry my brother." Red Bear tried to hide his smile. "Now what were you saying about this girl?"

"She knows about it. She was trying to convince everyone that she was telling the truth, and when nobody believed her she mentioned the birthmark." Buck shook his head. "How can that be? Red Bear, Iíve never seen her before in my life."

Red Bear nodded. "Maybe not in this life my brother. Maybe this girl is telling the truth."

Buckís eyes widened. "You mean?"

"I think we need to call the Man of Dreams for this. He will show you the truth."




An hour later, Buck was seated in the medicine manís teepee, along with Red Bear. There was a fire burning in the center of the tent, and Buck was shirtless with paint on his face and chest. The Man of Dreams sat across from him and held a small bowl full of liquid in one hand and a long pipe in the other. He chanted in Indian tongue, and leaned down to kiss the bowl and the pipe. He handed the pipe to Buck and instructed him to take a deep breath. Buck did, choking on the thick smoke. The Man of Dreams then handed him the bowl, and instructed him to drink all of the liquid inside. Buck raised the bowl to his lips, and had to force himself to swallow the thick chalky liquid.

"Now you are to close your eyes. Let the spirits guide and show you what you need to see." The Man of Dreams told him.

Buck closed his eyes, and at first he didnít see anything. The suddenly a woman appeared before his eyes. She had masses of thick curly black hair, and crystal clear violet eyes framed by long black lashes. She was standing in the middle of the woods, and was in the middle of performing some sort of ritual. She turned towards him and smiled, and Buck felt his heart leap from his chest. Devon! The next few scenes seemed to flash by in a matter of seconds. The scene changed and he saw himself, dressed only in a breechcloth and buckskin leggings, running up and freeing Devon from the gallows, where she was about to be hung. Marrying her in an Indian ceremony. Kissing her, making love to her, reveling in the wonder and beauty that she was. Hearing her tell him that she was pregnant, and feeling like the luckiest man in the world. And finally seeing her kiss him goodbye, as she left to collect fruit and berries for dinner that night.

Suddenly Buck was filled with the sick feeling of dread, for something told him that was the last time he would ever see his wife alive again. Buck tried to force his eyes open, but found he could not. Everything swirled around in front of him, and finally stopped and landed on an image of a blindfolded woman hanging from the gallows. He saw himself run over to where she was hanging, take his knife from his boot and cut her down, but it was too late. As he pulled the cloth from her eyes, he already knew that this was his wife, lying in his arms like a limp doll, her neck broken, their unborn child also lifeless inside of her. He closed his eyes and let out an animal howl of pain and horror. When he opened his eyes he was back in the medicine manís tent, and he was still screaming.

"Running Buck! My brother, calm down, it is okay!"

The sound of Red Bearís voice brought Buck back to the present and he looked around the tent frantically. "Red Bear, she was telling the truth! I saw everything!"

Red Bear nodded. "I know."

Buck scrambled to stand up, but Red Bear grabbed his arm. "I need to get to her!"

"No, you need to rest first!" Red Bear said sternly.

Buck shook his head and pulled his arm free. "No, I have to get to her now." Buck turned, picked up his shirt, vest and hat, and stumbled out of the tent. He was still very weak, but he wouldnít let that stop him. I have to let her know that I believe her, he thought to himself as he climbed up onto his horse. I just hope that Iím not too late. Please let her still be at Rachelís.





Back at Devonís, Jimmy and Devon had just finished some tea. Both had calmed down, and were mounting their horses to return to the way station. It had taken a lot, but Jimmy had finally convinced Devon to go and talk Teaspoon. Jimmy now feared for her safety, and knew that if anyone could help her, Teaspoon could.

Fifteen minutes later, the two of them rode into the way station. Rachel and Lily were busy hanging up freshly washed clothes to dry, and Devon didnít miss the perplexed look that Lily gave her. They both climbed down off their horses and ran over to Rachel, Devon sure to avoid Lilyís eyes.

"Rachel! Whereís Teaspoon?" Jimmy asked.

"Jimmy! Devon! Whatís going on? You two ride in here like bats out of hell!" Rachel exclaimed.

"Thereís big trouble. Is Teaspoon here?"

Rachel nodded. "Heís in the bunk-"

Jimmy ran off towards the bunkhouse, pulling Devon along behind him.

"-house." Rachel finished. She looked at Lily, who shrugged.





Buck rode into the way station, walked his horse into the corral, and ran over to where Rachel and Lily were still hanging clothes. Lilyís eyes lit up when she saw Buck and ran over to him.

"Buck! Youíre back!"

But Buck just walked right past her and over to Rachel. "Rachel! Please tell me that Devonís still here!"

Rachel looked at him and nodded slowly. "Yeah, she just got back here with Jimmy a few minutes ago."

Buckís eyes hardened. "Jimmy?"

"Buck, whatís going on?" Lily asked, the hurt visible on her face.

"Where is she?" Buck asked, still talking only to Rachel.

"Sheís inside the bunkhouse. Theyíre talking to Tea-"

Once again Rachel wasnít able to finish before Buck took off in the direction of the bunkhouse.

Rachel sighed. "-spoon."

"Rachel?" Lily asked quietly, tears filling her beautiful eyes.

Rachel held out her arms and Lily practically ran into them.






Buck ran over to the bunkhouse, flinging open the door. "Devon! Devon, I need to talk to you!


Chapter 7


Jimmy was telling Teaspoon about my accident and everything that I had said afterward when the door unexpectedly swung open. All heads turned to see Buck standing in the doorway.

"Devon, Devon I need to talk to you."

I stood up in shock at the look of complete desperation in his features. I took a step forward but was stopped by Jimmyís hand clasping mine.

"Buck, it has to wait." Jimmy said.

Buck looked down at Jimmyís hand holding mine, then back up at his friend. The look in his face was that of a man whose prized possession was being held by another.

"It canít wait." Buck growled, "I have to talk to her now."

Just then Rachel and Lily came rushing into the bunkhouse. Lily wore the same look of a woman rejected I had worn just hours before. I wondered just what had happened between these two.

"Whatís going on in here?" Rachel asked.

"Thatís what Iím trying to figure out." Teaspoon said, "Now why donít everybody just take a seat and explain. Buck your talk will have to wait."

Buck sighed loudly, seemingly complacent to the fact that our talk would have to wait. He took the seat directly to my left, while Jimmy sat to my right. The placement of the two didnít escape anyoneís notice, especially Lily or Lou. The two women sat with Rachel on a bunk to my left.

I watched Lou as Jimmy explained my situation to Teaspoon. Armed with the knowledge of Jimmy's feelings for her, I studied her for any trace of feelings for him. If the cold stare I was receiving were any indication, Iíd say that she was surely torn between two men. I had the chance in the minutes before Buckís entrance to meet Jimmyís rival. I assessed him and came up with the fact that if you could somehow combine the two men, heíd be almost as perfect as Buck.

Once everyone was seated, my story was told from everyoneís perspective but mine. Rachel gave the facts of the accident which brought me into their lives, she then told Teaspoon of my reaction to Buck and everything that I had said afterward, including the whole birthmark incident. I watched the older man as he was told these things and was surprised when he did not look at me judgmentally. Jimmy was next. He told everyone about what he had heard in town after leaving my farm, and how he believed I was in danger.

Teaspoon seemed to take a few minutes to digest all the information he had been told, then eyed me curiously.

"So what have you got to say for yourself?"

"Iím not killing cows."

"How can we be so sure?" Lou asked, "You, yourself say youíre a witch."

"What I am," I said, "is sick and tired of having to defend my beliefs to people who donít even want to try and understand. What I do is treat ailments with herbs and meditation. Yes I gave Mrs. Garnett a tea, but I never told her it was a magic potion. That is the imagination of a little girl who was never told any better."

"She does the same thing as a Medicine Man or Shaman in an Indian tribe." Buck said. As everyone stared at him he took my hand, "That is what you were, a Shaman right?

My eyes widened, as Iím sure, did everyone elseís. "How Ė how did you know?" I gasped, then I saw the glint in his eyes. "By the Goddess, you remember!"

He nodded slightly, and Lily gasped. I would have gotten up and thrown myself into his arms were it not for Jimmyís hold on my other hand.

"Thereís something . . ." Teaspoon began, "actually, thereís a lot I donít understand, but the first thing that pops into my head is what scared you so much in town?"

"Thompkins." Buck answered, "It was Thompkins wasnít it?"

I nodded.

"Why?" Rachel asked.

"Itís a long story." I said.

"So what do we do next?" Kid asked.

Teaspoon leaned back in his chair, and thought for a minute. "I agree with Jimmy, you could be in a lot of trouble. So I think you should stay here until we figure this thing out."

"No." I said. "I will not bring all of you into this. Besides I have to take care of my farm."

"I can have the boys check on your farm."

I shook my head; "I will not hide."

"Dammit Devon, donít be stupid!" Jimmy said.

"Iím not! I appreciate your concern, really I do, but I need to be home." I pleaded.

"If thatís how you feel, then I canít stop you. However as Marshal I have to make sure youíre safe." He looked at Jimmy and Buck each with one of my hands in theirs and knowing that Buck had been courting Lily, Teaspoon said "So Iím sending Jimmy home with you."

"No!" Both Lou and Buck said at the same time. As everyone eyed the two, I looked at Lily whose eyes were wide with shock.

"And why not Buck?" Teaspoon asked.

"I have to talk to Devon, and itís a talk best done in private."

Teaspoon nodded thoughtfully, and turned to the female rider, "Lou?"

"Jimmyís got a lot to do at the waystation, and Buck has responsibilities here." She glanced pointedly at Lily. "Couldnít you just send Barnett?"

"Barnett is an-"

"Jimmy . . ." Rachel, warned.

"Idiot. This is real danger Lou, you didnít see how those farmers looked."

"Jimmy, Iím just saying-"

"Would you be acting this way if it were anyone else in my position?" I interrupted, "Or is it just me?"

Lou stared straight at me.

"Lou didnít mean any-" Rachel began to say but was cut off by Louís soft spoken "Just you."

"Well then, there you have it" I said as I rose to leave. "Iíll make sure the lynch mob letís you pull the lever at my hanging." I said as I walked out.

Jimmy and Buck got up at the same time.

"Where do you think youíre going?" Jimmy asked.

"To take her home."

"Oh no, Teaspoon said I was going." Jimmy said as he grabbed his hat and walked to the door.

"I need to talk to her." Buck said as he met Jimmy at the door.

"What about Lily?"

"What about her?" Buck said, "Jimmy I need to do this. Lily understands that."

"Does she? Look at her."

Buck looked over at Lily, whose hurt features were silently begging him to stay. "Please understand." He said, then walked out into the night, never seeing Lily break into tears.



Chapter 8


I was on Starlight and turning her towards home when the sounds of hoof beats behind me made me stop. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw Buck coming my way.

"I forgot about our talk." I said as he rode up beside me.

"Weíll talk at your house." We both turned at the sound of another rider approaching.

"Youíre not needed Jimmy." Buck said angrily.

Jimmy shrugged, "Well someone needs to keep watch tonight, and since youíre leaving after your talk. . ."

"Who said that?" Buck asked.

"Boys," I said, "Can we figure this out later? I really just want to go home."

When we arrived at my house, Jimmy offered to take the horses to the stable to cool them off so that Buck and I could start our talk. I have to admit that having Jimmy worry about me felt good, especially after Buckís initial rejection.

Both Buck and I were silent as we walked the short distance to the house, but the sight that greeted us as we walked to the door made me gasp. Several windows had been broken and written across the front of the house in black paint were the words "WITCH GET OUT"

I looked over at Buck who was trying to keep his temper in check. "I never liked the color of the house anyway, now I have a reason to paint it."

"How can you joke about this?" He asked me.

"Whatís done is done." I said as I opened the front door. "Thereís nothing I can do to change it now."

"How can you be so forgiving? This is your home Devon."

As I lit the lanterns and grabbed a broom to sweep up broken glass I explained. "I live by one rule Buck. ĎThough it hurt none, so mote it beí. It means as long as I donít hurt anyone, I can do whatever it is I wish to do." I motioned for him to sit on the couch in my small parlor.

"All so called witches live by the same creed." After I picked up the pieces of shattered glass and put away my broom I sat across from him, Iíd decided that we needed distance between us if we were to talk. "I seem to have forgotten that rule the minute I saw you." I said as I sat.

"What do you mean?" He asked.

"I mean, I hurt Lily. I didnít mean to but I did."

Buck shook his head. "If you hadnít said what you did, I would never have remembered our past."

"And this is a good thing?" I said.

Buck stood up and knelt before me. "Yes, because now I know youíre not crazy and I can convince the others."

"No Buck, theyíll all think weíre both crazy, or worse, theyíll think what Lou does."

"Whatís that?" He asked

"Lou has the same look that Mrs. Hawthorn had when she accused me of casting a spell on her husband. I wouldnít be surprised if thatís her explanation for why you turned your back on Lily and Jimmy was so persistent in coming home with me."

"I canít speak for Jimmy, but Iím here because I need to know why."

"Why we were brought together again?" I asked. Buck nodded. "Who knows?" I shrugged, "Some say itís fate or destiny that brings people together, and maybe weíll just keep meeting in different lifetimes until we get it right."

Buck stood, walked over to my small fireplace and placed his hands on the mantle with his head hanging down. "I have all these feelings for you that I never felt before. Itís like a piece of my heart was missing and I didnít know it until you put it together again. I donít understand how, when I donít even know you."

He sounded so tormented, and though I swore to myself to keep my distance from him I still found myself taking him into my arms. He turned and held me against him and I felt as if I had finally come home. I sighed contentedly, "You know me Buck, Iím not very different from the woman you knew 170 years ago."

He pulled back slightly to look down at me. After what seemed an eternity he leaned down to kiss me, but I pushed him away.


I turned from him. "How much do you remember?"

"All of it." He said, his voice coming from the area in front of the fireplace.

I wrapped my arms around myself, and turned to face him. "Iím sorry I caused you so much pain then."

"You said it yourself, whatís done is done." He said, "The question is, whatís next?"

"Who knows?" We stood silent for a few minutes.

"Do you know what my favorite memory is?" He asked. I shook my head. "The way you looked when you smiled, your eyes could light up the entire village. Iíd like to make you smile like that again."

I wondered how long it had been since I had really smiled. "Well, I just about lost it when Cody said that thing about the two moons." I said.

Buck stared at me a moment then smiled, "Me too." Buck knew as he looked at me that I was trying not to laugh at the memory, so he arched his eyebrow and gave me the sternest look he could, knowing that I always laughed at him when he did. As usual the eyebrow worked itís magic and I began to laugh. Before I realized what had happened, Buck had me in his arms again.

"I missed that laugh too." He said, then bent his head to mine and kissed me.

A tremor ran through my body at the first touch of lips. His mouth played with my lips sensually and I found myself returning the kiss. With a moan, his or mine I still donít know, the kiss deepened and I threw my arms around his shoulders, molding myself to him, my hands cupping his neck, my fingers entwined in his hair.


The thought of her cut my passion like a blast of cold air. I tore myself away from Buck.

"Buck, I Ė we canít do this."

"Devon, I love you."

"Oh Buck, Iíve never wanted to hear anything so much in my life, but you donít love me, not really." I said.

"I know what Iím feeling."

"What about Lily?"

Buck ran his hand through his hair, "Why does everyone bring up Lily?"

"How many times have you told her you loved her, that you wanted to be with her, marry her? Buck Iíd love to spend the rest of my life with you, but can you honestly say that you love me more than Lily? Or does she still have a hold on your heart?"

Buck started to speak but I covered his lips with my fingers. "Think before you answer. There are a lot of things you need to work out before you can give me an honest answer, and if weíre going to be together I need to know that you are mine completely. You owe that not only to yourself but to me and Lily as well."

Buck listened silently and nodded. I exhaled sharply, "I think you should go now -" he looked at me in confusion. "-Before we do something weíll both regret in the morning."

He seemed to think about it for a minute then nodded, grabbed his hat and turned to leave. It was then that we noticed Jimmy standing in the doorway.

Buck glared at Jimmy then turned to me. "Donít worry Iíll be fine." I said as I walked him to the door. "Iíll make you two promises. I promise whatever you decide Iíll be here."

"Whatís the second?"

"I promise to smile more often."

Buck smiled slightly and kissed me on the cheek. "Take care of her Jimmy." He said as he walked down the porch steps.

I closed the door after Buck rode off, and caught my reflection in the hall mirror. My lips were swollen from Buckís kiss and my hair and dress disheveled. I could only imagine what Jimmy was thinking, but when I turned to face him I saw understanding, that only he could give me, in his eyes.

"I had him, and now I may be giving him away." I said quietly.

Jimmy came to me, wrapped me in an embrace and kissed the top of my head.

"What am I going to do without him?"


Chapter 9


Cody came running out of the bunkhouse at the sound of Louís voice. When he got outside, he found Lou standing with Lily. "What is it?"

"We need to go to town."

Cody groaned. "Now?"

Lou turned towards him. "Yes, now."

"But LouÖ" Cody whined.

"Look, weíre almost out of feed, and we have a bunch of stuff that Rachel wasnít able to pick up last time she went in." Lou was careful to avoid mentioning Devonís name in front of Lily. Ever since Buck took off out of the bunkhouse with Devon, Lily had been a wreck. Lou and Rachel had finally gotten her to calm down, and Lou wasnít about to get her upset again.

"Why canít Jimmy go?" As soon as the words escaped his lips, Cody knew he was in trouble.

Louís eyes hardened and she glared at him. "Jimmy ainít here, thatís why. Would it kill you to do some chores?"

Cody sighed. "Alright, alright, lemme go saddle my horse."




Twenty minutes later Cody, Lou and Lily arrived in town, Lou and Cody on their horses, Lily on the buckboard. Cody helped Lily off the wagon while Lou tethered their horses. They were just about to walk into the general store when they heard a loud commotion coming from the town hall. The three of them looked at each other and ran over to see what was going on.

"I tell ya, itís the witchís fault!"

"There wasnít no trouble Ďround here before she showed up!"

"I just lost two horses today!"

"Yeah, and I swung by her place earlier and anyone wanna take a guess at what I found? The healthiest horses and cows this side of the Missouri!"

Cody glanced at Lou and Lily. "Looks like we got here just in time."

Lou nodded. She wasnít happy with Devon for what she was doing to Buck and Lily, but she also believed that the girl wasnít responsible for the farmerís livestock dying. She pushed her way into the middle of the crowd, but stopped short when she saw that the gallows had been assembled in the middle of the street with a sign "KILL THE WITCH" in front of it.

"Weíre gonna go and find this witch and make her wish she hadnít ever stepped foot in Sweetwater!" Thompkinís voice boomed throughout the crowd.

Lou turned around and motioned for Cody and Lily.

"Oh my God!" Lily exclaimed when she saw the gallows. "Theyíre planning to kill her!"

"What are we going to do?" Cody asked, worry furrowing his brows.

Lou took a deep breath. "Weíre going to go back to the way station, get Teaspoon and get him back here! Heíll know what to do!"

Lily shook her head. "You two go. Iíll wait here for you." When Lou started to protest she continued. "Iíll just slow you down with the buckboard. Now go on! And hurry!"

Lou looked unconvinced, but hugged her friend. "Be careful. Weíll be back as soon as we can!"




Back at Devonís, Jimmy was poking around in her garden. "Hey, whatís this for?"

Devon looked up from where she was picking some last minute herbs before sunset. "I add that to my feed."

"Your feed?"

Devon nodded. "Yes, why?"

Jimmy looked thoughtful. "Devon, do you buy your feed from Thompkins?"

Devon shook her head. "No, Iíve always grown my own, and then I add these herbs to them so that they keep better. Why?"

A look of realization crossed Jimmyís face. "We need to get back to Teaspoon."

Devon looked puzzled. "Why? Itís almost dark, canít this wait until morning?"

Jimmy shook his head. "No, I think I discovered the reason why your cattle is so healthy, and everyone elseís is dying."

"You mean the herbs that I add in?" Devon cocked her head to the side and grinned at Jimmy. "I already told you, these arenít Ďmagicalí herbs."

Jimmy sighed. "No no noÖ. not the herbs! The feed itself!"

Devonís eyes widened. "The feed that-"

Jimmy nodded. "That you grow. Come on! We gotta get back to the way station and let Teaspoon know! I canít believe I didnít think of this sooner!"





Noah whistled to himself as he filled the water troughs. He heard a commotion coming from the barn, so he put the bucket down and went to investigate. One of the mares was whinnying and rearing, and looked very disturbed. When Noah looked further he saw the cause of the disturbance. There, lying on the ground, was Jacob, one of their newest fillies. Noah maneuvered his way over to Jacob, but it didnít matter. He was dead.

Noah sighed to himself. "So, itís affecting us now. Iíd better go get Teaspoon." Noah stood and was about to walk away when he noticed a particularly foul odor coming from the corner of the barn. As he walked closer, the smell intensified. Noah lifted a bale of hay and discovered another one underneath it, rotting away.

"Aw man!" Noah jumped back as he covered his mouth with his hands. He quickly put the other bale back on top of it and ran out of the barn. "Teaspoon! Teaspoooooooon!"





Back in town the riot was growing more intense by the minute. More and more people were joining in, and they now had lit torches in their hands. A few men were on horseback with hoods over their heads. There were chants of "Kill the witch! Burn the witch!" Lily hid in the shadows observing, praying that the other riders got back there soon. Suddenly she felt a hand clasp over her mouth, and hands pull her arms behind her back, where they were quickly tied.

"Lookie what I got here!" a man with foul breath muttered in her ear. The man shoved her forward into the crowd, finally taking his hand from her mouth. "Hey Thompkins! Lookie what I found lurking over there!"

Lily screamed and the man slapped her hard across her face. "Shut up you Injun!"

Thompkins walked over to her. "Well well, if it ainít the half-breedís little girlfriend."

Lily glared at him, blood dripping from the cut on her lip. "What do you want from me?"

Thompkinsí eyes hardened. "Men, I think we may have found the witchís accomplice!"

Lilyís eyes widened. "What are you talking about?"

Thompkins walked over to her and violently turned her around for everyone to see. "Seems that she only arrived in town a few weeks ago. Around the same time that all our cattle and horse began turning up dead. Makes sense that she would be the one helpiní out the witch!"

"No!" Lily screamed again. "Youíre wrong!"

Thompkins gave a deep laugh. "Oh no, youíre the one whoís wrong missy. You were wrong to come here, and you were wrong to mess with us! And now youíre going to pay."

Lilyís face paled. "Wh-what are you talking about?"

Thompkinís eyes gleamed. "String her up boys!"




Chapter 10


Buck rode fast, and furiously over to Devonís place. He had been thinking for the past hour, and it didnít take long for him to make up his mind. He felt like he had to let Devon know as soon as possible, he didnít like keeping her in limbo like she was. When he finally got there he was surprised to see the entire place dark. She canít be asleep alreadyÖ itís not even six oíclock yet, he thought to himself.

Buck climbed off his horse and went to her front door. He knocked but there was no answer. He walked around to the side of the house, but it was clear that nobody was home. He walked over to the barn to look for Jimmyís palomino and Devonís horse Starlight, but both were also gone.

Buck walked back to his horse, jumped on, and started back in the direction of the way station. Maybe they headed back there, he thought as he rode off quickly.




Cody and Lou had never ridden faster in their lives. They reached the way station in record time, their horses barely still before they were off of them and running towards the bunkhouse calling for Teaspoon. When they ran inside they found Teaspoon and Noah sitting at the table examining rotten hay on the table. Both looked up in surprise when Cody and Lou ran in.

"I swear, yíall must be tryiní to give me a heart attack today. First Buck, now you two come flyin here like thereís no tomorrow!" Teaspoon exclaimed.

Lou stopped and tried to catch her breath, while Cody answered.

"There may not be another tomorrow for Devon if Thompkins has his way."

"Thompkins? What are you talking about Cody?" Noah asked.

Cody started to speak, but Lou cut him off. "Thompkins is organizing a riot in townÖ they are determined to Ďfind the witchí and kill her! They have the gallows set up and theyíre prepared to hang Devon!"

"Oh hell, I swear I knew that man didnít have no sense in his head." Teaspoon sighed and looked towards the door. "Whereís Lily? Didnít she go to town with you?"

Lou nodded. "Yeah, but she took the buckboard and figured sheíd only slow us down. Sheís waiting for us there."

Cody nodded towards the hay on the table and covered his nose. "What is that?"

"That," Noah started, "is what weíve been feediní the horses. And that is also what was responsible for Jacobís death."

"Jacob? The new filly?" Lou asked, a note of sadness in her voice.

Teaspoon nodded. "Yup. And guess where the feed came from?"

Recognition filled Louís eyes as she understood what Teaspoon was leading to. "Thompkins?"

Teaspoon nodded again. "Thatís right. The same place that everyone in this town buys their feed from."

"Except for Devon!"

All eyes flew to the doorway where Jimmy and Devon had just come through, Jimmy yelling that statement.

Jimmy walked in and sat down at the table with Teaspoon. "Devon grows her own feed. She doesnít buy it from Thompkins."

"I see," Teaspoon squinted thoughtfully as he looked at Devon. "That explains why your livestock is healthy, while everyone elseís has been dyiní."

"I donít believe this!" Cody exclaimed. "Thompkins is in town organizing a witch hunt because he believes that Devon is responsible for the deaths of all those cows and horses, when itís actually him thatís responsible! Heís been supplying the bad feed!"

"What in the hell are you talkiní about Cody?" Jimmy asked. "What witch hunt?"

Lou turned to face Jimmy, her face serious. "Thompkins is leading a riot. They have the gallows set up and theyíre looking for Devon!" When Jimmy and Devonís eyes widened she continued. "We came back here to tell Teaspoon, and thatís when he showed us the feed!"

Teaspoon stood quickly. "We need to get into town now before Thompkins does somethiní he might regret! Lou, leave a note letting the others know whatís going on!"

While Lou scribbled a quick note, the rest of them ran out of the bunkhouse and saddled their horses. Within minutes they were all on their way back into town, praying that they would be able to stop the madness before it really got out of hand





When Buck reached the way station he was surprised for the second time that night to find nobody around. The entire place was deserted! Where the hell is everyone? He thought to himself as he walked towards the bunkhouse. There he found the note tacked to the door.

Thompkins is leading a witch hunt in town. Wants to kill Devon. Lilyís already there, weíre on our way now.

-- Lou

PS Ė Thompkins has been selling rotten feed, thatís why all the cattle and horses have died! Devonís didnít because she grows her own! Hurry!

Devon and Lily in town in the middle of a bloodthirsty crowd! Buckís mind went wild, and he felt like he could kill Thompkins with his bare hands. He ran back to his horse and rode like the wind into town. Heíd better not lay a finger on either one of them or heís going to have hell to pay with me, he thought to himself as he urged his horse to go faster.




Lilyís hands were tied behind her back as she was lead up the steps of the gallows. Her entire body was filled with fear as she looked out into the crowd of angry people. Is this my destiny? Am I to die like this without ever seeing Buck again? Without ever telling him that I love him again? These thoughts ran through Lilyís mind as she sobbed, praying for someone to save her as the noose was placed around her neck.

Suddenly the sound of horses approaching broke her out of her thoughts. She looked up quickly and saw Teaspoon, Cody, Noah, Lou, Jimmy and Devon ride through the crowd yelling to Thompkins to stop what he was doing. What happened next seemed to happen in a matter of seconds. As Devon screamed for Thompkins to let Lily go, she jumped off of her horse and ran up the steps to the gallows. Someone in the crowd raised their gun and fired off a shot, causing Devon to fall at Lilyís feet in a puddle of blood. A male voice screamed out and Buck came pushing through the crowd and ran up the steps to the gallows, sweeping up Devon in his arms. Cody came running after him, punched the hangman, took the noose off of Lilyís neck and untied her wrists.

Jimmyís eyes were wide with emotion as he observed the scene in front of him. Devon! He screamed silently, watching the red stain spread across her body. Noooooooo!




Chapter 11


I felt the bullet rip through my flesh as it entered and exited my body. I heard someone cry out for a doctor as I collapsed. I saw Lily looking down at me in horror and I followed her gaze down to my wound. I watched the red stain grow larger as my life's essence flowed from by body.

In the next moment Buck was by my side and holding me in an embrace.

"What . . .what are you . . .doing here?" I asked weakly.

"Shhhh, don't speak. Save your strength." He said as he caressed my face.

"There's nothing. . .more to do . . .for me."

Buck began to panic, "Don't say that! You're gonna be fine." He said as his tears began to fall. I felt their wetness in my hair and on my face.

I raised my hand and touched his wet cheek, I wiped his tears with my fingers. "Don't cry for me . . .I'm not in any . . .pain."

Buck tried to take my mind off the situation. "I went to your house, to see you."


"I made my decision. . ."

I smiled weakly and covered his lips with my fingertips. "The decision . . . has been made . . .for you. Fate has . . .a way of making . . . things right. . . this is not our time."

I gasped for air. "I'm getting so cold." Buck held me tighter.

"I need to . . . tell you something . . .and I don't want you . . to interrupt me."

Buck shook his head, "Devon-"

"Please I need . . . I need to talk and I don't . . .have a lot of time."

"Okay. I'm listening."

I tried not to cry, but I couldn't help it. "I never meant to hurt you . . .I only wanted the chance to . . . to make you happy. It was . . . wrong of me to . . . interfere in your life . . .I need you to make me a promise . . .and I'll make a promise . . . in return."

"Anything." He said his emotions making his voice rough.

"I promise to keep searching for . . .you until . . .we can be together . . ."


I trembled from the chills wracking my body, "I need you . . .to promise that . . .you'll keep Lily happy. . . that . . .that you'll love her . . .like you did . . . then."


"Buck, who was it . . .that healed your heart . . . after I left you . . .alone in Salem?"

Suddenly Buck remembered the Indian maiden who stood by him in his grief and who eventually took Devon's place as his wife.

"Lily." He gasped and looked up at her.

"You may not have . . .remembered it . . .but in your heart . . .you knew." Once again I gasped and coughed, blood dripping out the side of my mouth.

"Don't let them . . .touch me . . .bring me to your . . .Medicine Man . . .after I'm gone."

Buck nodded quickly.

"I'm so tired " My voice was becoming weaker, and I knew my time here had finally ended. "Buck, promise me . . .promise me . . .you'll stay with me . . .until I fall asleep. . . Promise me."

"I promise"

My world went black and my last conscious thought was of Buck and how much I truly loved him.


Devon closed her eyes and the once riotous crowd had by now become silent. Buck held Devon to his chest and rocked her back and forth, whispering for her to hold on. Her breathing became labored, then shallow and finally stopped several minutes later.

"Don't you give up on me! Devon please!" Buck yelled down to her when he realized she was gone.

Jimmy walked up to Buck from where he was standing by Lily, and knelt beside his friend. Placing his hand on the Kiowa's shoulder he whispered, "Let her go Buck, she's at peace now, and no one can hurt her anymore."

Buck looked up at his friend, then out to the crowd. He stood slowly, still holding Devon's now lifeless body in his arms.

"Are you happy?! Look at the result of your fear and ignorance" He said and held out her limp body, the crowd was too stunned to speak.

Jimmy was quickly by his side. "Don't do this." He said as he took Devon from his arms and moved to lay her away from the eyes of the crowd below. He looked down at her peaceful expression. "Thank you for listening and understanding." He whispered as he wiped a tear from his cheek, then kissed her cold lips softly.

Without her in his arms, Buck looked at the others on the gallows, his gaze stopped on Lily who was crying. He walked to her and held her in his arms, comforting her and gaining comfort in return. Then remembering that she was to be strung up as well he turned on Thompkins.

"You did this! This is all your fault!"

Thompkins looked out into the crowd, ready to rally them again.




Chapter 12


"You did this!" Buck screamed at Thompkins, a savage look filling his dark eyes.

Thompkins shook his head. "I donít know what youíre talking aboutÖ Half-breed."

Buck lunged forward, but Jimmy pulled him back. "You just couldnít leave her alone, could you?" Buck screamed again, his voice thick with emotion. "Youíre a miserable, bigoted, lonely man, and you have to make everyone else just as miserable as you are!"

"Now you just hold on there one minute!" Thompkins started to walk forward. "How dare you talk to me like that? She got what she deserved."

Jimmy stepped forward, forming a barrier between Buck and Thompkins. "What did she deserve? To be shot down like a dog? Or are you only sorry that you didnít get to hang her?"

"Again." Buck muttered so softly that only Jimmy heard him.

"She was a witch!" Thompkins exclaimed.

"She was innocent!" Buck cried out.

"She was killing off all our livestock so that hers would be the only healthy ones in town!" Thompkins tried to reason.

Noah stepped forward through the crowd. He had been holding back for as long as he could, but to see the sheer devastation in both Buck and Jimmyís eyes was too much for him to handle. "No Thompkins, youíre wrong."

"What are you talking about? We have the facts!" Thompkins voice was gruff with anger.

"And do the facts tell you that the reason all them cattle and horses was dyiní was because of the bad feed that they were eatiní?" Teaspoon countered.

"Bad-" Thompkins started to answer, but Teaspoon cut him off.

"Bad feed that you was selliní in your store."

Thompkinsí eyes widened, but still held doubt. "I donít know nothing of the kind! What makes you think that?"

Teaspoon folded his arms across his chest. "Because even our own horses have been affected. We just lost a filly today. And we found rotten feed in the barn, feed that we purchased from you a few weeks ago."

This time it was Jimmy who spoke up. "And the reason Devonís livestock didnít die was because she grows her own crops. She didnít buy none of yours."

Teaspoonís eyes scanned the now quiet crowd in front of him. "Anyone else here not buy their feed from Thompkins?" There was a murmur in the crowd as they all looked around, but nobody spoke up. Teaspoon nodded. "I thought so."

Thompkins hung his head in shame and remorse. "I donít know what to say." He finally looked up at Buck, who was back on the floor, cradling Devon in his arms, weeping silently. "Iím sorry Buck."

Buck looked up with fierce hatred in his eyes. "Itís too late for that Thompkins. Maybe you should have thought about that the first time."

And with that Buck stood up, leaving an open-mouthed Thompkins standing there. If Thompkins remembered what he had done 170 years ago, he didnít say, and weíll never know. But Buck knew, and it was something that was going to haunt him for the rest of his lives.

Buck kneeled down to Devonís body one last time and caressed her cheek. Suddenly he felt a soft hand on his shoulder and he looked up to find Jimmy standing over him. Jimmyís cheeks were stained with fresh tears, his eyes red and swollen.

Buck offered a slight smile as Jimmy helped him up. "Never thought Iíd see the day when ĎWild Billí Hickock cried."

Jimmy grinned, Devonís words echoing in his head. "You donít have to be strong all the time Buck." Jimmy looked at Devon one last time and turned back to Buck. "Come on, I think weíve given these people enough of a show."

Jimmy gently lifted Devon in his arms, carried her down the steps of the gallows, and over to where the buckboard was. He carefully lowered her into the back of the wagon, and kissed her forehead softly. "Goodbye my friend."

Buck walked over to Lily and opened his arms. She looked at him for a fraction of a second before she flew into his embrace. Buck held her for a few minutes, breathing in her love. He was immediately comforted and he remembered Devonís dying words. I need you . . .to promise that . . .you'll keep Lily happy. . . that . . . that you'll love her . . like you did . . . then.

"Iím so sorry if I hurt you Lily. I never meant to." Buck whispered.

Lily looked up at him with love shining in her eyes, and placed a finger over his lips. "Thereís no need for that. It took Devon show us that we were meant to be. That we were lucky to find each other again. Our love was reborn."

Feedback is always appreciated! Email the authors!
Copyright 1999 - This story is the sole property of the authors and may not be reproduced without their expressed written permission.
Back to the Hitching Post
Back to Tavern Tales