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A Sheriff to Save Her

“A knife to Lily’s throat? Dear God, please let her be all right.”

Placer Creek’s new sheriff, young and bold Spencer Sutter, must carry the weight of a heretical town. But leading the people to the right path proves challenging when he is considered to be unstable due to being without a bride.

Then the perfect chance for Romance comes his way – the beautiful and determined Lily Franklin, a schoolteacher trying to erase the stigma left from taking refuge in a brothel house after her parent’s home burned to the ground.

But when they both struggle to come to terms with the fact that they are deprived of their chance for love, everything changes, as Spencer finds himself working on a case that threatens the people he cares about – and Lily’s life is at stake.

Can Spencer save her before an unexpected man from the town’s past re-emerges and changes everything?

Written by:

Christian Historical Romance Author

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4.6 out of 5 (264 ratings)


December 1842 ….

The wind howled through the tall pine trees, the heavy falling snow making the branches above creak and moan beneath the weight. The sun had risen at its normal time but was completely obscured behind the ominous dark clouds that foretold of a worsening storm to come. The mountain rose several thousand feet, the snow-covered cap hidden in the clouds. Giant boulders and a ragged ridgeline gave the mountain a dangerous appearance as frozen cascades of ice and snow filled the deep crevasses and small seeps where water would flow later in the springtime.

A lone figure slowly emerged from the relative shelter of the forest, his body hunched against the blizzard conditions that had settled over the mountain sometime during the night. Each gust of wind felt like a million tiny needles being driven into the parts of his skin he’d not been able to cover.  He was shivering uncontrollably, but his jaw was set, and determination filled his eyes as he fought the elements in an attempt to conquer the storm.

Zachary Walker pushed himself to take one more step. He was colder than he could ever remember being – his shivers had shivers, and he could no longer feel his toes or the fingers of his left hand. His muscles were protesting each little movement, but he knew if he didn’t keep pressing forward it would mean his death. He pulled his leg up, forcing his knee up as high as he could in an effort to get his foot above the snow, only to have it sink several feet below the snow when he put it down again. Each arduous step was a reminder of the dire predicament he now found himself in. He needed to get down the mountain, but the deep snow was making the task nearly impossible. He stopped for a long moment, feeling the snow close in around his knees as his booted feet sank.

“Wish I still had them snowshoes,” he mumbled, his voice getting carried away on the bitter wind that was blowing around this side of the mountain. He’d started out yesterday on a mission to surprise his wife and son with a Christmas tree for the large family cabin. It was a tradition that his wife and her family had brought from Germany when they’d first come to the United States, and while not a tradition Zachary had grown up with, he’d been delighted to put a smile upon her face during the bleak winter months by helping her continue the tradition in their own home.

Ranching in the wilds of California was hard work, and he knew his wife had given up many of her usual comforts and the ability to stay close to her family by agreeing to travel West with him years earlier. Patricia’s family had already moved to Missouri before he and his brother had decided they’d had enough of the East coast and made plans to travel back to California and take their places on the family ranch. She and Zachary had been married for almost five years at that time, and while she’d agreed to stay in Pennsylvania when her family moved west, Zachary had known she was pining to leave the ever-growing cities and find a place they could call their own. Land. Open space.  That was what had prompted his great grandpappy to answer the call to migrate West.

For Zachary, moving back to California with his brother had been an easy decision to make, but he knew his wife missed being able to see her parents and siblings. On their journey, they had spent several weeks in Missouri before joining a wagon train heading west. They had eventually broken off, and he and his brother, their families, and a few trusted ranch hands they had hired along the way made their way south, ending up at Percy’s Crossing. That had been eight years earlier, and after only a fortnight in the small mining town, they had headed to the piece of land they had always known was their destiny. They’d been away too long, and he and Duane were eager to get back to the only place that had ever felt like home.

Since coming to California, Zachary and his wife hadn’t been back to Missouri, and he was hoping that he could take her back for a visit after the foaling season was over, but on a large ranch there always seemed to be a new problem that needed his or his brother’s attention. If not this year, maybe the next one.

A strong gust of wind almost knocked him over, and he pulled his thoughts back to the present and getting back to the trail that would lead him down the face of the mountain. He kept moving, one more step, another fall, another scramble to pull himself out of the deep snow and move forward another few feet. As he entered another small forested area, moving became easier, and he allowed his mind to wander back to the day before.

He’d not intended to be gone for more than half a day and had been looking forward to the stew Patricia had started just before the noon hour for their supper that night. However, that was before a large tree had succumbed to the weight of the ice and snow on its branches. His horse had startled at the horrendous sound, bolting down the mountainside, stranding him miles from the ranch he shared with his brother, Duane and his children. On the wrong side of the mountain. In the middle of one of the worst snowstorms, the mountain had seen this winter.

He and Duane normally went out together to get the family Christmas tree, but Duane’s wife had fallen ill and passed away almost a year earlier, and he’d not been the same since. Duane had grieved her passing something fierce, and it was only in the last few months that Zachary had seen any semblance of the brother he’d known for thirty-five years start to emerge once more. That didn’t mean Duane was up to celebrating Christmas. When Zachary had quietly mentioned the upcoming holiday, Duane had gone still and had retreated into his solitude once more. Duane had made it clear he did not intend to celebrate the arrival of the Christ-child – not this year. Zachary was hoping that some semblance of normalcy would help his brother deal with his grief.

That hope was why Zachary was now trudging through the deep snow by himself, the rope that he’d tied around the trunk of the nine-foot pine tree looped over his shoulders and torso, digging into his body as he dragged it behind himself. He’d gone after the same tree his wife had picked out during one of their summer camping excursions. It was on the opposite side of the mountain from the ranch, and while a closer tree might have been easier to retrieve, Zachary had been looking forward to the look of delight on her face when she saw her tree standing in the large gathering room of the cabin. If things had gone as planned, he would have been home before supper last night, and his wife, son, and five nephews would have been decorating the tree with the delicate ornaments that had managed to survive the trip across the Atlantic Ocean so many years earlier.

Determination filled his chest as he cast his eyes forward. Only one more open field of snow and then he would enter the forested area that would eventually take him home. “Dear God, give me strength…,” he murmured as he dug deep for the energy to keep going. Zachary didn’t consider himself a very religious man, but he’d been raised to revere the Good Book and with the knowledge of a God who loved and cared for his creations.

He paused for a moment, bowing his head and offering up a silent prayer to the heavens above. The image of his wife and son popped into his mind, and he couldn’t help but smile as he realized how blessed he was. He and his brother had been very successful with their ranch; he had a loving wife and a thirteen-year-old boy any parent could be proud of. Zachary James Walker. His son.

Feeling energized to see his loved ones again, he took a deep breath and then forced his legs to move forward a few more feet. He held little hope that a search party had been sent out in this weather to look for him. Prudence would demand they wait until the storm was over before heading up the mountain. Zachary had every intention of being home before that happened.

He hoped his horse had made it home safely, but with the storm and the distance they had traveled to retrieve the tree, he wasn’t holding out much hope. The fresh snow had covered any tracks that had been left the day before, and without the aid of the sun, Zachary was relying on his intuition to lead him in the right direction. He kept his feet moving, knowing it was up to him to save himself. There would be no search party, not in these near blizzard conditions and he wouldn’t survive another night without the warmth of a fire.

It had started to snow the day before, shortly after his horse had taken off and it didn’t show any signs of stopping in the near future. By his guess, at least two feet of new snow had already fallen, obscuring whatever prints he and his mount might have left for a search party to find. If he was going to get back home, it was going to be under his own power.

He’d taken shelter in a nearby cave for the night, rising with first light to start the arduous journey back down the mountain. If he’d known how things were going to go, he would have removed his snowshoes from the back of the horse, but as his wife was fond of saying, “Wishing didn’t get the washing done.” A gust of wind hit him in the face, and he ducked his head, turning his body to protect his exposed skin from the biting cold.

When the wind died down, he lifted his head and pressed onward. His legs ached and each step he took created agony in his cold and tired muscles. Up ahead, he could see the last open slope he had to traverse before he would be able to finish his downward descent in the shelter of the forest.

“You can do this. Just imagine how surprised everyone will be when you walk in carrying this beautiful tree,” he spoke aloud, needing to hear the sound of his own voice.  He started out across the flat open space, the white blanket of snow looking so peaceful but deceptively dangerous with the deep drifts and hidden rocks that were currently concealed.

“At least the tree isn’t sinking in the snow,” he reminded himself. Needing to hear his voice a bit more, he began to sing one of his late mother’s favorite Christmas carols. His deep baritone voice lifted itself above the wind as he sang God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. He was more than halfway across the open field of snow when a loud noise above caused him to pause and look up. Terror filled his heart at what he saw.

The new snow had added extra weight to the mountain ridge several thousand feet above him, making it too heavy to be supported by the previous snow and ice. Zachary panicked as he watched the entire ridgeline crack and then give way, beginning a rapid descent down the mountainside. Avalanche!

He yanked at the rope around his torso as he scrambled to get his feet up out of the snow and onto the surface. He finally managed to toss the rope above his head, and he fell forward, crawling and clawing his way towards the opposite side and safety.

Too late, he realized he was never going to make it. He turned his head, accepting his fate as the cloud of white approached, the rapidly descending wall of snow and debris coming straight for him. There was no way out.

“God, take care of my family,” he cried out as the snow surrounded him, tossing his body like a rag doll. He couldn’t breathe, but seconds later, it no longer mattered. His head hit something hard, and he felt nothing more. The avalanche had won, and once all of the snow settled, there wouldn’t even be a trace left behind of his existence. Zachary Walker had fallen victim to the perils of the mountain.

Chapter One

March 1852, one day earlier…

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I call this meeting to order,” Captain Mallory of the United States Army pounded his fist on the wooden podium that had most likely once been used to hold a preacher’s Bible. The church building had been boarded up when he and his regiment had arrived and opening it up and mucking it out had been only one of the many changes that he and his men had been making around the small California town.

The gathered crowd quieted down somewhat, and he nodded in approval. “If you would all find a place to sit, we’ll get this meeting underway.” He glanced around the pews and frowned slightly when he realized that not one person from the boarding house was in attendance. He made a mental note to speak with Spencer about that and to give him a few ideas as to how Spencer might use his new position to help alleviate the stigma and ostracism the women who had been living in the boarding house were currently enduring. Sighing, he pushed that thought aside, choosing to focus on the reason this meeting of the townsfolk had been called to begin with.

Everyone found a seat and those who chose to stand, did so at the side aisles and along the back of the small church building. Captain Mallory knew from talking to the townsfolk the last few months that the building hadn’t been used a church for quite some time, but he was hopeful that it would be restored and utilized for church services in the near future. He intended to make it known in the larger cities that a position was available for any preacher who would be willing to travel to this part of California and set up residence in the small town. He was hopeful that a younger circuit preacher would be willing to settle down and become an integral part of the burgeoning town.

“Thank you all for coming,” he addressed the gathered townsfolk. “As you’ve all been aware, some changes have been taking place since our arrival and the arrest of Percy Smythe. One of the changes you all were in agreement with was changing the official name of the town. I’m happy to report that I heard back from the State Capitol and you now live in a town called Placer Creek.”

A cheer went up from those gathered, and he smiled at Spencer, nodding for him to come forward. He paused for a moment to let the crowd calm down again and then proceeded to address the two items of business that were most pressing. Someone to keep law and order once the Army departed and someone to help educate the next generation.

“I’m also happy to report that I have been authorized to recognize Spencer Sutter as your new sheriff formally. I just need to hear a verbal majority in favor of his appointment.”

The owner of the general store immediately rose to his feet and answered loud and clear, “He has my support.”

One by one, the other members of the community rose to their feet and offered their verbal agreements as well. Captain Mallory noticed there were three men in the back of the room that had refused to stand and give their support. Two of them owned large ranching operations just outside of the town, and without their consent, Spencer could face considerable opposition in the event of an emergency.

He waved his hand, and everyone standing took their seat once more. “Mr. Moore. Mr. Stanfield. Mr. Calhoun. We haven’t heard from any of you on this issue. Would you like to say anything?”

The three men shared a look and then Mr. Moore stood up. “We are just a little concerned about Mr. Sutter’s age.”

Captain Mallory nodded, “Mr. Sutter is twenty-five years old.”

“We know that we are just…well, we’re all twice his age and wondering what kind of life experience he could have had that would prepare him to be the law around here.”

“Spencer, would you care to address their concerns?” Captain Mallory asked, stepping aside from the podium.

Spencer nodded and walked sedately to stand before the town he was determined to help by maintaining law and order. “Gentlemen, I understand your concern; however, I believe I have a calling to be this town’s sheriff. I realize it’s not a job most men would want, but ever since coming here, I have been amazed by the people in this town and their resiliency. You’ve all been beaten down these last few years, and I only want to lend my support and help in whatever way the Good Lord sees fit to use me.”

The three men shared a brief conversation and then Mr. Moore nodded his head slowly, “Well, we aren’t saying there won’t be problems, but if everyone else is willing to give Mr. Sutter a chance, we’ll do the same.”

Captain Mallory stepped back in front of the podium, “Very good. Then by the power invested in me by the State of California, I hereby deputize Spencer Sutter to act as the Sheriff for Placer Creek and the surrounding areas. He can pick his own deputies, and he will have the full weight and support of the State of California while executing his duties.”

He withdrew a silver star from his jacket pocket and then made a big show of pinning it upon Spencer’s chest. “Serve the people of this town well, Sheriff.”

Several people started clapping, and soon everyone joined in congratulating the newest member of their town. Once things calmed down, Captain Mallory had them retake their seats.

“We have one other matter of business to discuss before I call this meeting to a close. The matter of a schoolteacher. I have spoken with most of you individually about Miss Lily Franklin, and I would like to open the floor to any discussion you would like to have.”

A woman immediately surged to her feet, “How can anyone think a young woman who has been living in a brothel is a suitable person to instruct our children?”

“Ma’am, may I remind you that Miss Franklin only found herself taking refuge at the boarding house because not one of you were willing to open your doors and your homes to her in her time of need.”

“Now, see here,” the woman’s husband surged to his feet. “We were protecting our families.”

“I understand that, but I have spent some time with Miss Franklin, and she also has the backing of the entire Sutter family. She has said that she kept to herself while residing there and I believe her. She has prior teaching experience, was raised by Godly parents, and is the most qualified person to take over the responsibility of educating your children in their letters and numbers.”

Mr. Moore rose to his feet and cleared his throat to gain recognition. “We have the same concerns here, Captain.”

“Miss Franklin’s age?” he surmised.

“Yes. She’s only nineteen, meaning she would only be a few years older than some of her students. She’s single and that, in and of itself, poses some concerns for us. We would prefer a married female or even a male teacher.”

Captain Mallory felt Spencer’s irritation and shook his head at him. “I’ve got this,” he murmured for Spencer’s ears alone.

“Mr. Moore, while I do understand your concerns, isn’t the simple fact that Miss Franklin was a schoolteacher before traveling this direction with her beloved parents’ proof that age isn’t everything?”

“In this case, no. I’m afraid our objections stand this time. Miss Franklin is an unmarried, young female and not a suitable person to teach our children.”

“I imagine you have another teacher in mind?” he questioned, wondering who was going to volunteer.

Everyone glanced at their neighbor, but no one stood to their feet and expressed an interest in the job. After several long minutes, Captain Mallory sighed. “That is what I thought. You all want to find fault with Miss Franklin because she wants to dedicate her life to teaching your children for a measly salary she could easily triple in another town. And yet, not one of you are willing to commit to serving this community in such a fashion.”

“She’s unmarried,” a woman Captain Mallory couldn’t remember meeting called out.

“Yeah. If she wants to be the schoolteacher, she needs to get married.”

Captain Mallory was shocked. “You want to demand that an unmarried woman find a man to marry in order to do what? Prove she is a good teacher?”

“No, we believe she will be a good teacher, but a married woman handles herself differently.”

“You won’t change their minds on this issue,” Spencer told him quietly.

“No, but it will be up to you to do so. Good luck.” Captain Mallory addressed those gathered once more. “So, if Miss Franklin was to become engaged and get married, you would all give her your support in the role of this town’s schoolteacher?”

They exchanged looks amongst themselves and then nodded, almost in unison. “We would give her our support,” the self-appointed spokesman for the group declared.

“Well, I believe I will let you all work this out amongst yourselves. You have a new sheriff, and in the absence of a circuit judge, his word is now law. I trust you will all work together to find a solution to this dilemma. If I might leave you all with one last bit of advice…I believe it is fitting to use a Biblical reference, being as we are currently in a house of worship. Judge not lest ye be judged. This meeting is adjourned.”

Silence descended over the gathered crowd, and Captain Mallory hid his smirk as his men opened the back door, signaling to those gathered that this meeting was indeed over. He and Spencer waited until everyone had left the small church building before Captain Mallory and he discussed what had just taken place. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks, but the second half of this meeting didn’t go as well as I had planned. I thought they would oppose her because of where she’s been living. Not because she is only nineteen. Many of them were mothers before they were nineteen.”

“I know that, and if they were to stop and think about things, they would recognize the fallacy in their thinking. I believe they truly are upset because of where she’s been living and are only using her age as a convenient scapegoat so that they don’t have to appear overly sanctimonious. Give it a little time, and you’ll find a way to change their hearts and minds.”

Captain Mallory grinned, “Lily might just find a way to change their minds herself. She’s quite a woman, and if you don’t make your feelings and intentions towards her known soon, you’re liable to find yourself in competition for her affections.”

He smiled at the look of shock on Spencer’s face and was chuckling as he exited the church building. He and his men were leaving Placer Creek soon, and his only regret was that he wouldn’t be around to watch the transformations of both the town and the people who lived there.

Chapter Two

March 1852, Placer Creek, California

Spencer Sutter, Jim Calloway, and Clyde Jefferson dismounted in front of what had once served the small town as a schoolhouse, and all three men frowned in consternation. The small schoolhouse, with the unattached single bedroom house sitting a mere twenty feet away, had been sadly neglected and would need some serious work before either of them became usable. The paint was peeling, the roof of the schoolhouse was sagging, and the ground surrounding both was overgrown with weeds and small trees. The front porch of the house was only connected to the house on one corner, and the floorboards were missing in so many places, walking across it would be asking for injury.

“We are going to have to fix that roof,” Clyde muttered, gazing up at the roof over the schoolhouse and eyeing the obvious hole that had been allowing moisture and who knew how many critters access to the inside.

“And the porch,” Jim muttered, eyeing the house and shaking his head. “It might be better to tear down the house and just start again.”

The three men continued to appraise the buildings from their current position, no one willing to be the first to glance inside at the destruction they imagined the time and the elements had wrought on the abandoned structures.

“How many years has it been since this building was used?” Spencer asked, eyeing the windows and easily identifying several that were in need of being replaced. The stairs of both structures appeared to be intact but whether or not they would support anyone’s weight was yet to be determined.

“Five this summer,” Jim answered. Jim and his wife owned and operated the general store in town, and he’d been very instrumental in helping Spencer and his older brother Morgan when they’d gone after Morgan’s missing wife. Since that time, Jim had proven himself to be a loyal friend and one that Spencer felt he could trust to have his back as the townsfolk worked to erase Percy Smythe’s influence from the town.

“Well, five years is easily fixed with some new boards, a few nails, and a hammer,” Spencer commented. He took a breath and gingerly tried the steps leading into the schoolhouse, prepared in case they gave way beneath his weight. At 6’2” he was no lightweight and given the other men’s shorter stature, he figured he was the heaviest of them all. The first stair held, and he made his way up to the doorway, breathing a sigh of relief when his boots didn’t break through any rotten boards.

He grinned at the other men, “So far, so good.”

“You haven’t seen the inside yet,” Jim reminded him.

Spencer’s smile fled, and he nodded before pushing the door open to the schoolroom and glancing inside. “Well. We’ll definitely be needing to air it out for a while. I’m not sure what’s been living in here, but it has definitely left its mark.” There were deep claw marks and shallower scratches on several of the walls. A pile of debris had been collected in the corner closest to the pot-bellied stove used to heat the one-room schoolhouse during the winter months, and while Spencer didn’t see any movement, he could tell that something had been living inside the structure. The smell was horrendous – a mixture of wet fur, urine, and feces. He held his breath while he surveyed the remainder of the room, only pulling the door closed and backing down the steps when he saw spots dance before his eyes, and he felt himself in danger of passing out from lack of oxygen.

He stumbled a bit and bent over at the waist, drawing in several cleansing breaths as his vision began to clear up. “That is…I don’t even have a word for how it smells inside there.”

The other men chuckled as Spencer stood back up and coughed several times to clear his lungs of the smell. “What’s the living quarters look like?” he asked, hoping that structure had fared better than the schoolhouse.

Clyde was standing at the other doorway, and he grinned, “It fared pretty well. The roof seems to be intact and other than some dust and the smell of a place being closed up too long; it seems completely livable.”

“Good.” Spencer took one last walk around the buildings and then mounted his horse. “Let’s head back to town, and I’ll formulate a plan to get things fixed up here.”

“Is that little gal going to take the job of teacher?” Jim asked hesitantly.

Spencer eyed him and answered with a question of his own, “You have a problem with Lily serving this town as the schoolteacher?” Jim had been at the meeting the day before but had been markedly quiet when the discussion about Lily’s matrimonial status had been discussed.

Jim pursed his lips and then shrugged, “There’s been some talk. Not everyone is as willing to forget the past as you seem to be. You’re asking people to entrust their children to her. She’s very young.”

Spencer sighed, “Yes, and she spent months living in a brothel. Those are facts that no one can deny…”

Jim shook his head as he too mounted his horse, “I didn’t mean to…”

“I know you didn’t,” Spencer assured him, allowing some of his frustration with the town’s tendency to judge everyone fade away. “It’s human nature to see one thing and think the worst of people. I can assure you and anyone else interested in asking that Lily might have been forced to live at the boarding house, but it was simply a building that put a roof over her head. Nothing more. She would have gladly resided somewhere else, but not a single person in this town stepped forward and gave her that option.”

Spencer eyed Jim and Clyde as he finished his remarks, daring them with his expression to argue with his assessment of the situation. Jim had the good grace to look somewhat sheepish, and he dropped his eyes in acknowledgment of the truth of Spencer’s words.

“You’re willing to stake your own reputation by vouching for hers?” Clyde asked, clearly confused at the notion. Having been in Percy’s employ for quite a while, Clyde was clearly not used to anyone doing something simply for the purpose of helping another without anything to be gained from doing so. In Percy’s world, it had been every man for himself, and Percy had been the only one to benefit from most decisions that were made.

“I am,” Spencer assured both men. “I mean to set a good example as the sheriff of this town, and that means not unfairly judging others, thinking the best instead of the worst of people, and doing my best to get this town fully functioning once again so that new people might be enticed to move here.”

“Some new blood in town would be nice,” Clyde murmured. It was a known fact that the old town of Percy’s Crossing was not a good place to settle down, especially not if you had a wife and kids.

“It would be nice to see the school open again, and children sitting inside at those desks,” Jim added. “In fact, my Gladys was just commenting last night how nice it was to see the church open and people inside. Maybe we could entice a preacher to come here again?” he asked, hopefulness in his voice. “I mean, now that Percy’s gone and all? Do you think we might get a preacher to want to settle down here?”

“I’m hoping for that exact thing, and Captain Mallory is going to make our need known. We’ll just have to trust God to send us the right man for the job.” Spencer had been pleased to see people sitting in the pews of the church building and had made it a priority to see that occurrence happening more frequently – weekly if he had his way. Captain Mallory had been in full agreement that a little religion in the town would be good for everyone, and he intended to spread the word as he and his regiment traveled around the countryside.

“A church and a school? This would be like an entirely different town,” Clyde murmured. “We could sure use a big change like that. Percy hurt this town with his greed.” He pulled a face and then lowered his voice a bit, “I’m ashamed that I had anything to do with him.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself, Clyde,” Spencer told him. “You were just trying to survive an impossible situation, and in the end, you did the right thing and helped bring Percy’s reign of terror here to an end. You proved that you want what’s best for this town and I respect the fact that you want to make changes.”

Clyde nodded his head, “Thank you. I aim to make sure you never regret putting so much faith in me.” He glanced at Jim and then added, “The people of this town are good people, and we deserve a town that people want to become part of. We need a school and a church.”

“Then let’s make both of those things happen, gentlemen. I hope I can count on your full support?” Spencer asked.

“Of course,” Clyde nodded.

“The missus and I will do whatever we can,” Jim confirmed.

“Good.” The three men rode back into town, splitting up as they reached the main street and going their own ways. Spencer headed for the small building the Army had been using as a sort of headquarters for the last six months. Captain Mallory and his Army regiment would be leaving at the end of the week, and Spencer still had a few questions he was hoping to get answered before he assumed the role of town sheriff without any backup other than Clyde, who would be acting as his deputy.

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