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“Not exactly how you intended to spend your wedding night?” Turner asked, as they headed toward the barn. Hughes had to make himself visible out back. He had no doubt that bastard Wharton had someone watching the house. Watching exactly where Hughes was.

Jude was the target. Jude and the girls. 

That would never sit easy with him. But he hadn’t gotten to where he was by being a poor strategist. 

Hughes had a brother who looked pretty damned near like him. Warren was already hidden and waiting to step into Hughes’s place here. From a distance, Wharton wouldn’t know the difference. Few did. 

He smiled. “This is just a minor setback, boy. I’m going to clean up a few things for my wife. Then she’ll be free to live without the threat of him over her head. Over any of the girls.”

Turner nodded. “Let’s see it done.”

They’d strategized long into the night. They had men watching Wharton and his crew. They hadn’t left town. Hughes hadn’t expected they would.

But they were damned fools. It had been easy enough for his nephew Mac to track them through the countryside. 

They’d holed up south of Barrattville at that little spit in the road some dumbass had named Value. Nothing more than dirt to value there. There was a trading post there, and it served the six or seven families who had sod houses nearby.

Wharton had taken over an abandoned homestead. 

Hughes couldn’t figure out what the bastard was thinking there. The idiot should have gone north, instead. Toward that little town Wichita Falls. There was a railroad up that way now. Wharton could catch a train right back to where he came from. 

The fire wasn’t going to be too bad. And he’d warned the hands and men he had guarding the place to hold their positions. He wanted no more than a dozen men visible.

He didn’t want Wharton knowing about the twenty or so others he had around the place. 

Wharton thought to attack him? Well, that wasn’t going to happen.

He watched as the flames were put out quickly. It wasn’t a large barn and the fire had been discovered quick enough. He smirked—he’d been meaning to have the hands pull that shack down to begin with. Warton was just helping him out, that was all.

And then it was time to put his plan into place. 

He was just heading back toward the house when the first bullets started to fly.

Hughes hit the dirt and rolled toward the nearest point of cover, four of his sons doing the exact same thing.

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