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Redeeming Their Treasured Love

They entered a treasure hunt for a monetary prize. How will they react when they realize the prize is redeeming love?

When the beautiful Clementine McClean saw her family dissolved by greed and illness at a young age, a retired US Marshal took her under his wing. Turning all her passion to administer justice and to save as many lives as possible, she became a bounty hunter. Can she save herself when she meets the only man who can challenge her identity?

When the brash and emotionally wounded Maverick Snow, returned from the Civil War, he only wanted to lose himself and forget his painful past. Participating in the largest Treasure Hunt Tournament in the Old West, he couldn’t predict that she would be the reason to find himself. But is he ready to face all his fears and replace them with love?

With so many armed players searching the area for clues, one wrong move is enough to escalate it into a life-threatening game. Now that Clementine and Maverick are forced to team up and leave their differences aside, can they stay alive, to win this game, and find love?

Written by:

Western Historical Romance Author


4.5 / 5 (86 ratings)



1872, Lockfort, TX

Clementine McClean inhaled the scent of the red, woolen scarf wrapped around her throat.

It still smells like Grandma, she reflected, tears spilling down her cheeks like rain. December chill drew long grey shadows across the land, their creeping fingers making Clementine shiver in her coat. The wind blew cold and harsh through her bundled layers.

Every moment of my life in this town has been agony, Clementine thought as her frozen fingers strangled the hilt of her knife anxiously, her knuckles turning white. Daughter of the legendary poker player, the man with unfathomable power… and in the end, what did it come to? Rage shot through her like lightning. What horseshit!

Clementine yanked her knife out of her belt and sent it whizzing through the air at lightning speed. It struck an ancient oak tree, its point sinking into the grizzled bark.

“Clementine?” a small voice came from behind. Clementine turned on her heel, her voluminous mahogany hair falling over her shoulders. Brown strands blew before her eyes as she gazed at the man that had called after her.

“Wesley,” Clementine said in a voice hoarse from disuse. “You came.”

“Of course, I did!” Wesley cried. His blond eyebrows pulled together anxiously, his large brown pupils quivering with worry. He raced towards her, scrambling down the grassy hilltop with a heavy bag in his arms. Wesley was well built but shockingly clumsy. The vision of his abnormally tall form tripping down a hill was one that had amused Clementine her entire childhood.

Not today.

“I came as fast as I could,” Wesley said as he neared her, placing her bag on the ground before her. “I tried to get everything you mentioned—Clementine, I’m so sorry about your grandma—”

“Thank you, Wesley,” she interrupted. “Did you find the cash my grandmother left for me?”

“Yes, here,” Wesley said, yanking a bundle of notes out of his pocket. The notes were tied tightly together with a piece of string. “Clementine, why do you need all this cash? And your clothes?” He took in a shallow, nervous breath. “Don’t say you’re leaving Lockfort?”

Clementine looked down at the cash in her hands. She could imagine the visage of her grandmother, as she lovingly stashed each note into the safe for her darling granddaughter.

She was the only parent I ever had. Clementine’s fingers tightened around the money.

“I’m leaving, Wesley,” she said, loud and clear. The sound of her voice seemed to silence the meadows around her, as though nature itself wanted to pay heed to this moment. “I’m leaving Lockfort and I’m never coming back.”

“Clementine, no!” Wesley gasped, his shoulders shaking slightly. “You can’t leave!”

“Why not?” Clementine snapped, her last word tasting like vitriol in her mouth. “What do I have to stay for, Wesley? Huh?” She reached up to clutch her scarf between her trembling fingers. “The only person that ever cared for me is gone and I … I have nothing to stay for.”

“I’m still here.” Wesley’s voice was small. Clementine looked up to see a thin film of moisture on his brown eyes.

“Oh, Wesley,” she said kindly, sniffing. “You’ve been my friend for so many years. You’ve been by my side through everything I’ve been through with my father. I can’t describe with words how grateful I am to you. But I need you to understand that it’s … it’s killing me to be here.”

Clementine’s voice broke. A mellow wind began to blow through her hair like a comforting whisper. “Each day since Grandma died, I looked around myself only to find … nothing. No change. The world stayed as it was when she was alive. Everyone went about their business. They shed a few tears at her funeral and moved on. My father ignored me at her funeral as he has ignored me my whole life. No difference.”

Clementine looked up at him shakily. “I lost the person I loved most on this earth, but this world moved on immediately. How can that be? How can I burn on the inside while the world outside stays the same as ever? I can’t live with this! I need something to change!”

Wesley stared at her in shock. “We can find a way to work on this! To make this better!” He shrugged helplessly. “I’ll go and talk to your father—”

“Do not mention him to me!” Clementine cried, stepping away from Wesley.

He raised a palm towards her in concern. “Clementine—”

“No, that man has disappointed me every single day for eighteen years!” she shrieked, as hot, fresh tears leaked out of her eyes. “He hates me, Wesley—that’s why he’s avoided me my entire life and that’s why he ignored me when Grandma needed help! If you’d gone to call him for help that day instead of me, he would have come—don’t shake your head, Wes, you know it to be true!”

Wesley didn’t reply, biting down on his lip as his tears fell.

“She could have been here … right now…” Clementine trailed off as her heart sagged under the overwhelming weight of loss. She breathed heavily, clouds that turned white in the chilly air. “I tried to see my father all week, but after everything that happened, he still couldn’t be bothered to see my face!” Strength returned to Clementine’s limbs as anger coursed through her. “I’m done being the excuse for his mistakes, Wesley! I need to move on from him. I want to move on.”

With that, she retrieved her knife from the oak, and lifted the bag Wesley had packed and brought from her grandmother’s house. She tested its weight before sliding it over her shoulder, tying its hooks across her torso. This bag was another, older gift, sewn for Clementine by her grandmother’s hand.

“Did you throw in some apples for Annie?” Clementine asked Wesley as she turned away from him. Behind her stood a tall, pitch-black mare that sniffed the fresh grass with her eager muzzle. The horse’s silken black mane billowed like the wavy grass beneath her hooves. Clementine dug her nose into the warmth of her scarf as she approached the mare. Annie responded to her closeness immediately, turning one brown eye up to gaze at her.

“Yes, I brought apples,” Wesley said, shuffling closer to Clementine. “Where are you going to go?”

Clementine paused as she reached for the reins. “I don’t know,” she replied honestly.

“What are you going to do?”

She tilted her head to gaze up at the rolling Texas skies. They were grey with approaching rain. She could feel the scent of it in the chilly air. “I don’t know,” she said once more.

“Then why leave?” Wesley demanded, flinging his arms out. “Why go away from everyone you know? Whatever you want to do will be easier to do if you’re here—”

“Because I don’t want to be here,” Clementine said simply. “What I want is to not be here.”

“We could get married,” Wesley said with sudden sharpness.

What? Married? Clementine turned to face him slowly, taking in a deep breath.

“Think about it! “Wesley continued, twiddling his thumbs anxiously. “We’ve been friends all our lives, Clementine! We have something between us! Don’t you think? If we married, I’d take proper care of you—like you deserve!  I would never let your father hurt you! We could live far from the town, so you’d never have to meet him, heck, we could move—”

“Wes, you love Lockfort,” Clementine said in a quiet voice.

“But I also love you,” Wesley said, his shaggy blond hair falling over his eyes.

Clementine lingered for a moment, but she was not thinking of her childhood with Wesley. It was as memories of her grandmother that filled her mind: the warmth of her kitchen, freshly baked cookies served with bedtime stories, so many cherished hugs that she’d never experience again.

“I’m sorry, Wes,” she said through gritted teeth, bracing herself within her coat. “I can’t be the person you and my father wished I could. I wish I wanted to stay, but I don’t.”

“Then what do you want?” Wesley asked.

His question was simple. Pointed.

What am I leaving for?

Far in the distance, the lamps of Lockfort glowered, signaling the approaching evening. In the opposite direction, green hills stretched endlessly, leading to unknown, unfamiliar lands.

Roads untrodden.

“I want to be free,” Clementine answered, her eyes scanning the alluring horizon. “I want to do what my mother always wanted to do before she died, Wes. I want to be out in the world and have my adventures. I want to be free.”

Wesley tightened his lips disapprovingly. “That’s hogwash, Clementine. You’re free here too!”

“No, I’m not.”

Clementine’s response was final and true. Wesley hung his head heavily, his blond hair falling forward to shield the resignation in his eyes. Clementine placed her palms on his shoulders, looking up at his pale face.

“I hope you’ll forgive me,” Clementine said softly, shielding her words from the howling wind. Wesley turned away from her, letting her palms fall down. Clementine stared at his back, at his sudden, anguished gesture. If she hadn’t just been through the most painful week of her entire life, she might have broken down at a moment like this. Now, however, she felt almost numb as she stared at Wesley’s defensive hunch.

I hope he’ll understand someday, Clementine thought. I stayed in Lockfort as long as I could. Now, it’s time for me to go. She turned to place one foot in a stirrup and mount Annie. The mare whinnied lightly in response.

“Will I ever hear from you again?” Wesley asked without turning back.

“I’ll write to you whenever I can,” Clementine said, wishing that he would meet her eyes. He remained with his back to her, his head tilting just slightly in her direction.

“You will?” he asked doubtfully.

“Yes,” Clementine said, shifting side-to-side as Annie stamped her hooves. “I’m moving away, not dying, Wes.”

“Right,” Wesley said, looking up at her with one brown eye. It was still wet with moisture.

“I better go before the storm comes,” Clementine said, laying one rein against Annie’s neck. “It seems to be chasing right after me.”

“Be careful, Clementine,” Wesley said in a low voice. Clementine flinched as she felt the hurt in his voice. She bit down on her tongue.

“You too, Wes,” she replied, veering Annie to the left. The rolling hills of Texas lay before her with the reddening sun cradled between their grassy slopes. The skies would become dark soon.

“What do I tell your father?” Wesley asked with an edge to his voice.

“He’s not going to care where I am,” Clementine replied as she moved away from him.

“But if he does ask,” Wesley insisted, without turning back, “what do I say?”

“Nothing. He no longer needs to know what I’m doing. I’m done with him.”

With her heels gently nudging Annie’s flanks, Clementine rode the mare up the crest of the hill. From there they would eventually find the roads that led away from Lockfort, towards the greater Texas region that lay beyond. Roads that Clementine had never walked before.

I should be afraid, Clementine realized as she gazed at the bewilderingly beautiful horizon. I should be frightened of leaving all this behind. From now on everything I do, I do alone. Then … why am I not terrified?

Clementine inhaled the cool evening air and the scent of her grandmother’s scarf captured her attention once more. Every lesson she was taught and each morsel of love she received from her grandmother flooded back to her, strengthening her inner resolve. Clementine’s fingers tightened around her scarf as she pulled it close to her face.

I can do this. Her grandmother’s kind, aged face flashed behind her closed lids. You taught me how, Grandma. I will take your lessons and I will be free.

With a final nudge to Annie, Clementine took off into the reddening evening, her coat billowing behind her. The thick, red scarf shielded her face from the cold wind of the approaching storms.

Balancing easily on Annie, Clementine steadily trotted away from Lockfort’s twinkling lights without a backward glance.

Chapter One

1880, Crest, TX

Maverick Snow was moderately bored.

True, he currently had a gun pointed at him with a heaving, panting man standing behind it, eyeing him with pure hatred. The gun shook in the man’s hands as he trembled with unfettered rage. The entire poker table sat silent as they watched.

“Nicky,” the woman that sat beside the threatening man growled impatiently. She ran the local salon and dressed ostentatiously to lure men towards her business. “Put the gun down. You’re bein’ a real freak.”

“It’s alright, Evie,” Maverick said in his classic low rumble, throwing Nick, the heaving, angry man, a cocky grin. “Losing hurts so big. If I was him, I’d wanna kill me too.”

“Shut up!” Nick Needleman spat, brandishing his revolver hysterically. “Shut yer damn mouth!”

“Control yerself, Nicky,” Jack Warren said crossly, chewing on his straw, his aged face hidden by his hat. “You’re stinkin’ up the game.”

“He bet two hundred dollars on a pair of queens!” Maverick interjected pointedly, chuckling loudly. “I think he wants to shoot himself more than me, frankly.”

“Why don’t you meet me outside this tavern, and I’ll show you who’s the real boss!” Nick screamed, spittle flying out of his mouth. Maverick chuckled once more. He knows he made a bad bet and he’s losing it. Pathetic.

Evie rolled her eyes at the enraged man from behind her cards. “You’re so dramatic, Nick.”

“Shut up, Evie!”

“Oi,” Maverick called to him, eyeing him from under his hat. “You embarrassed yourself enough with that hand o’ yours. You really wanna make this worse?”

Nick’s formerly pale face was utterly red now, a vein popping on his forehead. “I’ll fill you full of bullets, you scoundrel! I ain’t kiddin’!”

“Then do it,” Maverick barked confidently.

Nick gasped a little, his beady eyes widening with shock. He gathered himself quickly, scrunching his face up.

“I’m gonna do it!” Nick gasped.

“Go for it,” Maverick encouraged him. “Shoot me and take your chips.”

“If you think I’m jokin’, you got another thing comin’, boy,” he sneered viciously.

“Oh, I’m certain you’re serious,” Maverick said with a casual grin, stacking his chips together with an air of showmanship. “I’m sure you want to shoot me in the face and get killed trying to run away with chips you didn’t win.”

Nick’s eyes flashed left and then right. This poker house was rather modest, but its bouncers were fearsome, made hardy by rough days building the rails. They could sense harmful discord a mile away and they’d already begun to hover around the table, their fingers reaching for their guns.

“I’m also certain,” Maverick continued, fingering the edge of one of his chips, “that you’re such a terrible gambler that you’d rather bet on gettin’ outta here alive after killin’ me than winnin’ your money back in future matches.”

The gun’s muzzle had definitely lowered now. Nick threw one furious glare at Maverick before glancing at the bouncers again. The two closest to the table had their hands on the grips of their guns.

“Don’t make us shoot you, Needleman,” one of the bouncers said coldly. Nick flinched.

“I’m tired of sore losers wasting my time,” Maverick said bluntly, pulling out a cigarette.

“Meet me outside, you rascal!” Nick howled, wagging his gun at Maverick once more. “I’ll show you who the sore loser is!”

“Will you please stop encouraging him?” Evie asked Maverick with a roll of her eyes.

“The boy’s got a death wish,” Jack Warren muttered.

Maverick flashed them a broad grin. “He’s just too easy.”

Nick was purple with barely suppressed rage now. “You … you son of a—”

A blur tackled Nick Needleman to the ground, sending his revolver spinning across the cheap carpet of the poker house. One of the bouncers had charged into Nick head-on, taking him down with a tackle around his midriff.

“Got him!” the bouncer shouted for his partner’s benefit.

Maverick struck a match and lit his cigarette. Slowly, he took a drag and let out a puff, watching the bouncers hustle Nick out of the poker house from the corner of his eyes.

“Let me take ma’ gun!” Nick cried as they pulled him out. “I’ll take ma’ gun and get goin’, I swear!”

“Take your cards, please,” the dealer at the table instructed, drawing the players’ attention back to the table. The dealer looked more bored than Maverick felt — raging losers were a common sight in smaller poker houses like this one.

“You’re gonna get yourself killed one day, Maverick,” Evie commented as she pulled her freshly dealt cards to herself.

“That loon didn’t have the stones to kill me,” Maverick said, pulling over his cards.

“Not in the poker house, no,” Evie agreed, looking up from her cards with eyes as black as night. “There is such a thing as an outside world, you know.”

“And that’s why I don’t linger in towns, Evie,” Maverick replied evenly, puffing on his cigarette. “I call,” he said, throwing three chips onto the table.

Evie watched him for a second or two before speaking. “Don’t you ever feel like staying in one place?”

“No,” Maverick said simply. “Why would I?”

“I don’t know.” Evie shrugged, throwing in her chips to match the bet. “A loved one? Perhaps a lovely lady?”

Maverick looked up just in time to see Evie bite her lip at him. He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. She knows I’m winning tonight … and she wants a slice to herself.

“I work alone,” Maverick said, eyeing the dealer’s hands as they dealt the flop on the table.

“Check,” Jack Warren said through his straw, knocking on the weathered wood of their table. “Where’s yer family?” he asked Maverick abruptly.

Maverick narrowed his eyes above his cards. “Mind your own business, old man.”

Jack Warren chuckled at him. “Yer an angry kid, aren’t ya?”

“Just ‘cause you’re a thousand years old doesn’t mean everyone else is a kid,” Maverick commented dryly, throwing five chips into the fray. “I raise.”

“I’m sure that’s true, son,” Old Jack rumbled, turning his eyes back to his cards.

“Where are you headed from here?” Evie asked him, leaning forward. “Up north?”

Maverick frowned. The people in this town sure are chatty.

Maverick had come to this tiny town, Crest, only a week ago, to make some spending money at its poker house. The people in this sleepy, isolated town were boisterous, loud, and eager with questions. Poker was a beloved sport amongst the townsfolk, and the poker house was hosting a small, four-day tournament. Now, on this last day, the only people left playing out of the fifty that had started were Maverick, Evie, and Jack Warren.

Over the past few days Maverick had gotten to know Evie and Warren as much as a player could. He didn’t know a single fact of their past, but he knew their unconscious tells, the lies their eyes hid as they threw their chips into the center of the table. Maverick wasn’t interested to know their past either—he had never felt an urge to be attached to the players that passed him by.

The person you meet in a game is a ghost of that person. Designed to give you the answers you want to hear.

Evie, however, seemed quite interested in peppering Maverick with questions.

“Come on, is it a secret where you’re headed?” she asked with a sly wink. “Some big, quiet mission you gotta do alone?”

“You’ve quite an imagination, Evie,” Maverick deadpanned.

“I’ll have to use my imagination if you won’t tell me yourself,” Evie said with a flutter of lashes, pushing her chips into the center of the table. “All in.”

“All in,” Jack Warren said, adding to the formidable pile of chips.

“I match Evie’s bid,” Maverick said, thrusting his coins into the center. The mound of money that sat before them was enough to last Maverick an entire month.

“You’re gonna lose,” Evie said to him in a cocky tone.

“No, I won’t,” Maverick said softly, watching the dealer turn the cards over.

“And how are you so sure?” Evie challenged him.

“Because this game is in my blood,” Maverick breathed, fingering the side of his cards. Familiar, addictive thrill shot through him as he saw the final card put down by the dealer. “It’s the first thing I learned to do in my life. I won’t lose.”

“Show your cards,” the dealer said evenly.

Evie slapped her cards across the table. “Full house with two aces!” she cried.

“I have a bigger full house! Made o’ tens!” Warren said, flipping his cards over victoriously. “You’re done for, girly.”

“You too, old man,” Maverick said as he revealed his cards with a swipe of his hand. “Four of a kind with aces.”

Evie’s small face immediately flashed red, her fist closing tightly. “Damn it!” she cried, pounding the table.

Jack Warren sagged under the weight of his defeat, leaning back in his chair. “Dammit boy!” he murmured. “Pocket aces?”

“I’d have won with only one,” Maverick said evenly as he pulled his chips towards himself. He was victorious, the last man standing in the tournament, taking possession of nearly $1,000. The dealer leaned forward to collect his chips.

“Congratulations, sir,” he recited in a monotone as his hands moved in familiar patterns. “Your winnings will be converted to cash and I’ll bring it back here for you.”

“Thank you, Dennis,” Maverick said, slipping one of his chips towards him. Dennis gave him the tiniest hint of a smile before pocketing it.

“Can I get you anything while you wait?” Dennis asked him politely.

“A beer would be nice,” Maverick said.

“I’d like one too,” Evie piped up. “I’ll need some liquor to get over the loss tonight.”

“Same here, boy,” Jack Warren growled as he puffed on the cigarette.

Dennis nodded and left with Maverick’s chips. Maverick looked around lazily. It seemed to be pretty late in the night since it was dark outside, and few people were in the house. Most of the tables were empty or occupied by men snoozing beside their beer. A few hands worked in the kitchen, but with the slow, final movements of closing down for the night.

“What time is it?” Maverick asked.

“Lord only knows,” Jack Warren stated. “Time stands still in a poker house, I always say.”

“It’s quarter to three,” Evie said, pointing at something behind Maverick. He turned to glance at the grandfather clock behind him, its pendulum swinging in every next moment.

“Well, is either of you all headed towards Lockfort for the big tournament?” Jack Warren asked. Maverick knew which tournament he was referring to. Winning that competition was, in fact, Maverick’s next goal.

All the smaller poker tournaments that Maverick had played in the last few weeks were to secure enough money so as to make a comfortable trip to Lockfort and be able to pay for food and lodging within the city. One of the town’s most proficient businessmen and poker house owners, Jim McClean, was hosting an incredible, four-day competition. It was the McClean Poker House’s twentieth anniversary and the owner had planned a long tournament by combining poker with treasure hunts.

Maverick usually never participated in tournaments that mixed poker with something else; however, he made this an exception due to the generous reward being offered to the winner. It was a whopping $20,000 for the taking. That kind of money would keep Maverick comfortable for a very, very long time. That was the kind of money that unlocked unthinkable opportunities in one’s life. He knew this was a competition he could not pass by.

“I can’t go,” Evie said with a deeply dejected look. “My sister’s gettin’ married in two days and I absolutely have to be there. What about you, Jack?”

Jack Warren chuckled lightly. “I’m a bit too old to be travelin’ days just to play games.”

Evie raised an eyebrow. “Not even for twenty thousand dollars?”

“That kinda money’s gonna attract all kinds of fearsome players, I’ll bet ya,” he mumbled through his chewing straw. “It’ll be a waste o’ time for me to go. I won’t win.”

“You, however,” Jack Warren continued, throwing Maverick sideways glance, “could just have a chance to win.”

Evie looked at Maverick expectantly, her black eyes shining eagerly. Maverick felt no urge to reveal his future plans.

“Well?” Evie asked, leaning forward on her elbows. “Are you going to compete in the tournament or what? Do you know what the tournament is?”

Maverick rolled his eyes. “Yes, I know about the tournament—there’s flyers stuck to every second tree.”

“So?” Evie asked him. “Are you gonna compete?”

“I’m not sure,” Maverick replied evasively. He glanced over Evie’s head to check whether the dealer was returning with his cash.

“Maybe?” Evie questioned with a chortle. “Why must you be so secretive, Maverick?”

Maverick thought, Why do I insist on keeping so many secrets? Is it because most people aren’t trustworthy? Or is it because I’m not trustworthy?

Maverick cleared his throat. “Evie, we played together for a few days. That’s it.” He gave her a stony, indifferent stare. “I am not going to answer any of your questions if I don’t want to.”

Evie pouted. “I thought we were becoming friends.”

“I can do fine by myself,” Maverick said, stubbing his cigarette into the ashtray.

“Sure, we all can,” Evie replied. “But after the poker ends, we all need someone to talk, perhaps share a bed with?”

“Perhaps,” Maverick said softly. “That definitely may be the case for many, but for some it’s not. Some people just prefer to be alone. It’s the only way they feel free.”

“And if someone truly great wants to get to know you?”

Maverick shrugged. “Well, tough luck for them.”

The dealer returned then, carrying a thick wad of cash in his hands. Once Maverick had counted it and made sure that he’d received the entire amount he was owed, he pocketed the thick bundle into the recesses of his jacket. He rose out of his chair without ceremony, picking up his pack of cigarettes and his matches off the table.

“So, you’re leaving already, huh?” Evie asked with a grin. “I’d gotten used to seeing your pretty face around.”

Sorry, but you’ll have to be disappointed,” Maverick said. “It was a pleasure playing with you both, but I’ve got a long journey ahead of me.”

“Good luck, son,” Jack Warren said.

“Goodbye, Maverick,” Evie said to him with a soft wave of her hand.

“Goodbye,” Maverick said with a polite nod before turning away from the table. He stepped out into the freezing early morning with steady, purposeful steps. He made his way towards the nearby stables through the dark, wet streets, his boots splashing in the puddles that had collected after a night of rain. Maverick ducked into the stables, shaking his head to rid his hair of the moisture in it. His horse, Luna, a stunning, ivory colored mare, stood at the far end of the stables.

As Maverick approached, she snorted with excitement. With a long, waving white mane and kind, brown eyes, Luna was the most beautiful horse Maverick had ever laid eyes on. Maverick stood by her side for a bit, scratching her face, brushing her mane, and patting her neck. Once Luna had been sufficiently showered with the attention she’d been deprived of, Maverick began to saddle her for a long journey. Lockfort was far from this side of Texas, and it would take them more than a few days’ riding to reach the southern town.

Once she was tacked up, Maverick led Luna out of the poker house’s measly stables. It began to drizzle again—little drops of icy rain pattered on the brim of Maverick’s hat. The approaching dawn brought with it the chilliest wind of the night, but Maverick felt warm as he rode out of Crest. The thick bundle of cash in his jacket pocket spurred him along the path that lay before him.

Next stop, Maverick thought as he trotted into the night, Lockfort. My big chance to get started on my new life and leave the old troubles far behind me. Let’s hope Lady Luck is smiling on me soon.

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