They were being followed. Jesse could feel it. He knew the tingling on his back meant they were being followed. He rested his hand on the but of his gun.
“You and Jenny huh?” Danny was saying. “I mean, I figured the two of you were gonna get hitched, but not so fast.”
“It’s just so I can help her with the farm. A girl doesn’t need to be alone so much. And if we weren’t wed and I came over all the time...well, you know how rumors spread and she was worried about her pride and such. Do you feel that?” Jesse asked.
“What, that we’re being followed? Of course I do. I ain’t stupid.” Danny replied lightly, not sounding offended, just stating a fact.
“I didn’t think you were Danny. I say we jump on them. It’s probably a Yank.”
“No, I think a Yank would be more sneaky. Maybe an outlaw or Indian.”
“No, you’ve got it backwards. I’ve played with Indians and outlaws. They know how to be quiet, it’s their job. Yanks are cocky. Let’s ambush him. I think it’s only one. He’s probably young, thought he could sneak up on us.
The idiot. Going off by himself. Who the hell is training these soldiers? Let’s hide out and wait for him.”
“Can’t wait.” Danny said and grinned.
They pulled their horses to the side and wiped away foot and hoof prints then waited. A few minutes later they heard another horse’s feet beating in the ground and Danny and Jesse drew their guns. Danny peeked his head out behind the boulder they were hiding behind, then began laughing.
“What the hell are you doing?” Jesse whispered.
“I don’t think we’re in much danger. And I know when to step out of issues. Looks like this is about to become a hassle between a man and his wife.”
“What?” Jesse hissed and looked at the rider and saw Jenny, her face covered in sweat, trying to figure out what happened. She had a rifle in her saddle bag and a canteen around her neck, which she opened and drank from.
“Dammit Jenny!” Jesse shouted.
Jenny’s eyes widened and she choked on the water. Jesse shoved his gun back in the holster and stomped over to her then pulled her abruptly off her horse. He made her face him to yell at her but she was still coughing.
He gritted his teeth and patted her back, with a little more force than necessary, until she calmed down. When she stopped coughing he grabbed her arms and shook her. “What the hell do you think you’re doing girl? I told you to stay with Jeff!” he roared.
“This is my war too. It was my idea to ride out here in the first place.” she yelled back.
Jesse gritted his teeth and felt the urge to give her a good whipping. He might have if he weren’t pressed for time. He couldn’t send her home, the Yanks would be close on her tail and he couldn’t risk it.
But he’d definitely teach her a lesson about disobeying him later. Didn’t she realize he was only worried about her safety? If he’d thought she could do the job he wouldn’t have objected as much.
But she was only sixteen and could hardly shoot. He knew she didn’t have the skills to protect herself.
“Get on your horse, Jenny. But you better understand now. You do what I say, when I say it and if I hear any back talk there will be hell to pay. You understand?” he asked then shook her again, harder this time to show he wasn’t joking.
She gritted her teeth then hissed, “Yes sir.”
He grabbed her by the hips and lifted her onto the horse, doing it purposely because he knew how much she hated to be manhandled. He sat her in the saddle and grabbed the reigns for her. She snatched them away when he offered them.
“Jenny, I want you-“ when she wouldn’t look at him he grabbed her jaw and yanked her face toward him so she was looking at him. “I want you to stay between me and Danny. And don’t do anything stupid. You listen to us and if you disobey, so help me God.”
“I ain’t scared of you.” she snapped and tried to look away again.
He snatched her face back and looked her dead in the eye. “I ain’t given you a reason to be scared of me yet. But I’ll put the chill in your bones if you do anything other than what I say. You don’t ride without permission, you don’ talk without permission, you don’t eat without permission and you don’t even piss without permission. You understand?” he asked, his voice hard.
Jenny had never had a man speak to her that way, and though her temper told her to snap back at him, her fear told her to just do what she was told. “Yes.”
“What was that?” he asked and tightened his grip on her chin and deepened his stare, like her father used to do when she didn’t answer correctly.
“Yes sir.” she replied.
“That’s what I thought.” He let go of her jaw and walked over to his horse and swung on. “Let’s ride.” he said to Danny.
Danny talked on and Jesse responded at times while Jenny was silent, and angry as hell. How dare he speak to her that way? What gave him the right...
She huffed out a breath in remembering that he was her husband, if only temporarily, and at the moment he had every right. But he just didn’t understand why she needed to do this. She had to have her revenge.
She had to make up for her father and her brothers’ lives.
They’d gone to fight for the south and the Yanks had demolished them. Jenny didn’t believe in slavery, but she believed in war. In the beginning she had understood the Yanks and why they waged war.
The only reason her family fought against them was to defend their land. And soon afterward the Yanks had gone from being right in her mind to being murderers. And she had to have her vengeance.
She wouldn’t rest until she had.
“So how many would you think there is?” Danny asked. “The paper likes to exaggerate you know. Maybe there ain’t nearly as many as we imagine.”
“Maybe.” Jesse agreed. “And maybe not. We just won’t know until we get there.”
“What should we do with Jenny?” he asked.
“Hell if I know. I suppose we’ll have to tie her up.” Jenny opened her mouth. He held out a hand. “Say anything and you’ll regret it.” he snapped.
She exhaled sharply then clamped her teeth together. She knew Jesse would have no problem with bending her over his knee and whipping her, and she would not be humiliated like that. At least not in front of Danny.
So she remained silent and clung to the dignity she had left. Besides, she wouldn’t appreciate the pain either. One look at his calloused and strong hands had her nearly shuddering. And she did shudder when she glanced down at his waist and saw the thick leather belt wrapped around him. Ouch.
She chewed on the inside of her cheek and listened to the two men discuss battle strategies. She could see Danny waiting for her to jump in or start screaming. And she could see the amusement in his eyes at knowing that Jesse had shut her up.
And that just really ticked her off.
She had an itch to grab for her rifle and blow a hole through Jesse’s leg. But she wasn’t anywhere near fast enough to manage that. So she sat in the saddle quietly and dreamed of different ways to torture Jesse.
Her dreams were interrupted when she heard Jesse and Danny venture back to the subject of what they were going to do with her. Tie her up, knock her out, strip her down and push her into a cave where she’d have to hide because she wouldn’t go out into the daylight in her bloomers.
They didn’t know her very well then. It didn’t matter what the Yanks saw. They would be dead seconds later anyway. Jenny listened and grinded her teeth. Their imaginations went wild and she knew now they were only trying to irritate her.
And that just wasn’t fair.
Her hands itched to grab the gun and show them a thing or two. But again she reminded her self that was impossible. And she wouldn’t shoot a man unless he was a... Yankee.
Her eyes widened. “Jesse-“
“Didn’t I tell you not to speak?” he snapped. And pulled on the reigns and stopped the horse to glare at her, to her relief.
She lifted her hand and pointed ahead. “Yankees.”
Jesse looked where she pointed, and his heart puttered. The Yanks were much closer than he thought. It should have taken them at least a day and a half to reach them. It was only noon.
They were camped. They were planning an attack, being camped so close to town. Oh hell. He looked at Danny and saw the fear in his eyes, thinking the same thing he was.
Jenny stared ahead and Jesse saw her hands tighten on the reigns. “Not yet.” he warned her. “Not yet. Look Jenny, we may need your help. But if you go now and they catch you they’re going to move. And every one who dies today because the town wasn’t warned will be on your hands.
There was a cave back there. We’ll make camp, and tonight we’ll sneak into the camp and find out when they plan to move and what their strategies are. They’re not going to think much of us because they’re bigger and they have trained soldiers.
We have an upper hand in surprise. You go now and you ruin that. And you may never have your revenge.”
Jenny’s grip loosened and Jesse sighed with relief. Then they rode back to make camp.
© Copyright 2017 Cherie Arlavine . All rights reserved.
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