When Sworn Enemies Unite (Preview)


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“Tell me, Henry, when did the stones learn to walk?” Jacob Evans’ voice cut through the silence like a knife through burlap, the question dripping with accusation.

Two figures stood face to face, casting jagged shadows on the parched earth. The midday light beat down mercilessly upon them in the dusty outskirts of the bustling town of Sierra Roja. Between Jacob and Henry Peterson stretched a disputed ribbon of land—an invisible line that might as well have been drawn in blood for all the strife it represented.

Jacob’s stance was as unyielding as the distant mountains, his weathered face etched with lines that told of years under the harsh sun, fending off both nature and men like the one before him. His eyes, sharp as flint, bore into Henry with an intensity that could start fires.

“Your accusations are as empty as your head, Evans,” Henry spat back, his words laced with venom. Henry stood there, equally tough, as if he were carved from the very land they fought over. His temper was as fiery as the New Mexico sun above, and cornered, he was as dangerous as a rattlesnake at a campsite.

“Empty? It’s plain as day you’ve crossed onto Evans land,” Jacob growled. He pointed to the newly positioned markers that now favored the sprawling Peterson ranch.

“Those markers haven’t moved an inch since my pa set ‘em,” Henry countered, his jaw set, hands curling into fists at his sides. “And I’ll be damned before I let you claim otherwise.”

Jacob’s scoff was dry as the air that filled their lungs. “Your pa was as much a liar as you are. Can’t trust a Peterson, never could.”

The heat between them grew hotter than the noonday glare, words as sharp and deadly as the pistols they each carried at their hips. To anyone passing by, this was just another land dispute, but the reality ran deeper. It was a legacy of hate handed down from father to son, a tale of two families entwined in endless conflict. This was about pride, about history, about the deep-seated resentment that had become part of their very beings.

“Always the victim, aren’t you, Jacob?” Henry’s lip curled. “You think this land is your birthright. But you’re no more entitled to it than the coyotes that roam these parts.”

“Perhaps,” Jacob admitted. “But unlike a coyote, I know how to protect what’s mine.”

Henry’s laughter was bitter as old coffee. “Protect, or steal? From where I stand, there ain’t much difference when it comes to an Evans.”

“Careful, Peterson,” Jacob warned, his voice a low rumble of thunder on a clear day. “You’re edging toward a line you don’t want to cross.”

“Seems to me you’re the one crossing lines, Jacob.” Henry’s words were a red flag waved in the bull’s face, and the air around them crackled with impending violence.

“Enough talk,” Jacob said, every syllable measured, heavy with implication. “We settle this now, once and for all. Your lies end here.”

“Settle it, then,” Henry dared. His hand hovered near his gun, the only mediator their kind knew.

Jacob’s jaw clenched, the sinews in his neck standing out like the ropes used to corral wild mustangs. “You think you can just take what you want? This is Evans land—by sweat and by blood.”

“Blood?” Henry spat, the word loaded with a history written in gunpowder and grit. “The only blood here is from those you’ve wronged, Jacob. Your hands are just as stained as mine.”

“Wronged?” Jacob barked a laugh, bitter as the sagebrush around them. “I built this ranch from nothing, while you scavenged like a vulture, waiting to pick the bones of honest men.”

“Scavenger?” Henry’s voice rose, a crescendo of rage echoing off the barren landscape, his face reddening under the unbearable heat. “Evans, you’re the one who’s been eyeing my cattle, thinking I wouldn’t notice. You want a thief? Go look in a mirror!”

“Your cattle?” Jacob roared back. “The only thing I see when I look in a mirror is a man who won’t be pushed around by a lying snake!”

“Snake?” Henry shouted, his voice almost lost to the hot wind that kicked up dust around them. “I’ll show you a snake!” His hand twitched, itching for the gun at his hip, but he held back, knowing full well that reaching for it was a point of no return.

From the periphery, Jed Hawkins and the other ranch hands began to gravitate toward the quarrel, eyes wide and breaths held. The air had thickened with anticipation. They formed a rough circle to watch the situation unfolding before them.

“Look at ‘em,” Jacob said through gritted teeth, casting a disdainful glance at the onlookers. “They know the truth, Henry. They know which one of us is the rightful owner of this land.”

“Rightful?” Henry scoffed, turning to address the gathering crowd with a sweeping gesture of his arm. “Tell me, boys, does might make right? Because if it does, then yes, Jacob here might be the ‘rightful’ owner. But we all know the law of the land ain’t decided by brute force!”

The ranch hands shuffled uncomfortably, exchanging wary glances. They were torn, loyalty to their employers warring with the unspoken code of the land—a code that did not always side with the man who wielded the most power.

Jacob’s eyes narrowed and he took a step forward, the line between them now barely more than a whisper. “You would know about that, wouldn’t you? Beating your way through life, taking what isn’t yours.”

“Enough!” Henry’s shout was a whip crack, splitting the tension. “This ends today. Either you walk away, or I make you!”

The two men stood chest to chest in the calm before the storm, as the uneasy audience held its collective breath, waiting for the thunder.

The silence fell like a shroud over the crowd, thick and suffocating. Henry’s hand twitched at his hip, gravitating toward the well-worn grip of his Colt as if drawn by a magnetic pull. His fingers wrapped around the handle, the leather of his glove creaking under the strain.

“See here, Jacob,” he snarled, the gun now pointed directly at the other man’s heart, “I ain’t one for backing down.”

Jacob’s own hand was a blur, the sunlight glinting off his weapon as it cleared the holster. They stood frozen, statues sculpted in tension, each man’s gun an extension of his unwavering will.

“Put it away, Henry,” Jacob’s voice cut through the heavy air, his eyes locked on the barrel staring him down. “You shoot me, you might as well put a bullet through every acre of this land.”

The tight circle of ranch hands held their breath, eyes darting between the two patriarchs. Dust devils danced mockingly around them, the only movement in the standoff that seemed to stretch time thin.

“Think about your boy, Henry.” Jed’s voice pierced the standstill, laced with an urgency that tugged at the edges of the impending violence. “What world are you shaping for him?”

Henry’s grip faltered, the image of his son weaving itself into his mind—a reminder sharp as barbed wire. The thought of Franklin’s future, tainted by a legacy of lead and vengeance, weighed heavily on his arm.

“You snake,” Henry spat, but the venom in his words was diluted by doubt. He couldn’t unsee the truth in the ranch hand’s plea.

“Jacob, you got your son to think about, too,” Jed continued, emboldened, stepping between the two men. “Ain’t no pride in leaving your flesh and blood fatherless over dirt and grudges.”

Jacob’s steady gaze did not waver from Henry’s, but his jaw clenched, a subtle acknowledgment of the stakes higher than any parcel of land could ever reach. The thought of Tom, strong and determined, yet still needing guidance in a world rife with conflict—how could he rob his son of that?

Slowly, the guns descended. The metallic clicks of the hammers easing back into place were loud in the newfound quiet, punctuating the decision to step back from the precipice.

“Next time, Henry,” Jacob muttered, holstering his firearm with a finality that echoed in the clearing dust, “mark your boundaries clear, and we won’t need to dance this close to hellfire.”

Henry’s mouth twisted into a grimace as he shoved his own gun back into its leather home. “There won’t be a next time, Evans. This is over.”

Jed’s shoulders relaxed marginally, but he kept a watchful eye on both men, knowing the peace they’d found was as fragile as a desert bloom.

Henry’s eyes darted to the horizon, his breaths coming in sharp bursts as if the desert air itself was a barrier to his fury. “I’ve had enough of this nonsense.”

“Leaving so soon, Peterson?” Jacob’s voice carried an edge. “Figured you for more fight.”

As Henry pivoted on his heel, a rough hand clamped down on his arm. The touch ignited something primal within him, and with a snarl, he swung around, fist meeting Jacob’s jaw. The crack of bone against bone cut through the tension like a rifle shot.

“Shut up, Evans!” Henry roared, his knuckles whitening.

Jacob staggered momentarily but regained his footing, his eyes blazing with an incandescent rage that had smoldered between the two families for years. He threw a punch that landed squarely on Henry’s cheek, splitting the skin. Their movements were furious whirlwinds, each blow a manifestation of their deep-rooted animosity.

Jacob’s thoughts raced alongside his racing heart. Tom needed the land, the legacy—what would become of his boy if Jacob didn’t stand his ground now? Sweat mixed with grit on his brow as he ducked another wild swing from Henry.

“Should’ve known,” Jacob grunted, deflecting another jab. “You’re all talk, no cattle.”

“Better than being a stubborn old mule,” Henry shot back, his face contorted in loathing.

Their grunts and the thuds of flesh echoed off the silent audience of ranch hands, who watched, wide-eyed, as the men transformed into brawling beasts under the unforgiving sun. Each man was a mirror of the other’s disdain, their shared history fueling every savage strike.

Suddenly, Jacob’s boot found purchase in the loose soil, and his body coiled with the force of years of hard labor and silent suffering. With a guttural cry, he hurled a punch that caught Henry square in the temple.

The impact resonated with a sickening thud, and Henry’s eyes rolled back as his legs buckled beneath him. He crumpled to the ground, a heap of broken pride and festering enmity.

“Remember this, Peterson,” Jacob panted, standing over the fallen man. “Your stubbornness dug this hole.” His chest heaved with exertion.

Jacob’s breaths came heavy and ragged, his fists still clenched as he stood over Henry Peterson, the man who had been his nemesis for more lifetimes than he cared to count. Dust swirled around them, kicked up by the scuffle, sticking to the sweat and blood that marred Jacob’s skin.

“Get up,” Jacob snarled. “Get up and look at what your stubbornness has brought you.”

But Henry lay motionless, save for the shallow rise and fall of his chest. His hat had tumbled off in the fight, exposing a head of hair mottled with dirt and streaked with gray. The heat bore down, unyielding.

“You think this is the end?” Henry spat through bloodied lips, his words slurring. His body ached with the sting of defeat, eyes squinting against the harsh light, fixating on Jacob’s silhouette.

The ranch hands, a silent congregation of flannel and denim, shifted uncomfortably, their boots scuffing the dry earth. They exchanged wary glances, knowing they had witnessed a turning point in an age-old feud that had simmered like a pot ready to boil over.

“End? No.” Jacob’s laugh was dark, devoid of humor. “But it’s a start, Peterson. A start for you to learn your place.”

Jacob’s mind was a tempest, thoughts careening like wild horses. The weight of his father’s expectations bore down on him, each drop of Peterson blood on his knuckles both a triumph and a burden. His father had always said, ‘An Evans never backs down.’ Yet here he stood, wondering if the legacy he upheld was worth the savagery it demanded.

“Your pride will be the death of you, Jacob Evans.” Henry’s vow was quiet but carried the venom of a rattlesnake ready to strike. “One day, you’ll see.”

“Enough talk.” Jacob’s tone was dismissive, but a primal part of him resonated with Henry’s words, a warning that seeped into the marrow of his bones. What future had he wrought with his fury?

With one last disdainful glance, Jacob turned on his heel, his spurs jangling a mocking farewell. His shadow stretched long across the disputed land, a specter of the bitterness that grew there as surely as any crop.

“Let’s go,” he commanded his men, and together they left the Peterson patriarch in the dust, his defiant stare imprinted on the backs of their retreating forms.

“Remember this day, Jacob Evans!” Henry’s voice rose above the whispers of the wind. “I won’t forget it! And neither will you!”

The threat hung in the air, palpable as the heat, even as Jacob’s stride did not waver. Inside, though, a silent acknowledgment took root—the knowledge that retribution would come, as certain and as relentless as the setting sun.

Chapter One

Sierra Roja, 1875

The heavy batwing doors of the Crimson Star Saloon swung open, admitting Franklin and Natalie into a world swirling with the smoke of hand-rolled cigars and the earthy tang of bourbon. The raucous laughter of gamblers mingled with the jingle of spurs as cowboys shifted on their stools, staking claims on both cards and attention.

“Smells like every story ever told in Sierra Roja’s been soaked into these walls,” Natalie remarked, her eyes adjusting to the dim interior as they swept across the room, taking in the oil-lamp glow that cast a golden sheen over the patrons’ faces.

“Rebecca sure keeps a lively place,” Franklin replied, though his tone lacked the warmth of his sister’s. His gaze darted around the saloon, never settling, as if he expected trouble to spring from the woodwork.

Natalie sauntered further inside, her confidence at odds with Franklin’s stiff posture. Rebecca’s establishment was more than just a watering hole; it was a social nexus where the town’s heartbeat could be felt strongest.

“Relax, Franklin. You’re acting like a jackrabbit in coyote country,” she chided softly, hoping to ease the tension that knotted his shoulders.

“I’m fine,” he lied, fingers twitching at the brim of his hat, betraying his unease. He couldn’t shake the feeling that eyes were boring into his back, calculating, accusing. Every scuff against the wooden floorboards seemed to him an omen, each burst of laughter a potential cover for darker dealings.

“Let’s just find Rebecca and be on our way,” he muttered.

“Franklin, you worry like an old maid,” Natalie said, a playful lilt to her voice, though it was lost on him. He only half-heard her, his attention snagged by shadows that danced too erratically at the edge of his vision.

“Something’s not right,” he whispered to Natalie. But his sister, well-acquainted with his habits, merely rolled her eyes at another episode of his paranoia.

“Come now, let’s find Rebecca and enjoy ourselves. It’s not every day we make it to town.” Natalie tried to infuse some cheer into the situation, but Franklin’s nerves were wound as tight as a gun spring.

They moved deeper into the belly of the saloon, the stench of tobacco clinging to them like an unwanted second skin. Franklin’s head swiveled, eyes scanning for unseen threats, his hand ghosting toward the revolver hidden beneath his coat.

“Franklin, you’ll wear yourself out before any real trouble even thinks to start,” Natalie commented dryly. She watched Franklin’s rigid silhouette against the amber glow of the saloon’s lanterns. She suppressed a chuckle, sidling up beside him.

“It pays to be cautious, Nat,” Franklin grumbled, his words tight as the leather on his holster.

“Or paranoid,” she quipped, watching his jaw clench. She loved him dearly, but Franklin could outpace a wild horse when it came to jumping at shadows.

“Paranoid keeps you alive,” he shot back.

“Ha! And here I thought it was charm and good looks.” Natalie leaned against the bar, her laughter mingling with the piano’s lively tune.

“Speaking of charm…” a familiar voice cut through the clamor, rich and smooth as molasses.

“Rebecca!” Natalie exclaimed, her face lighting up as she turned to greet her friend.

“Evening, Natalie, Franklin,” Rebecca greeted them, her eyes sparkling with mischief as she took in Franklin’s unsettled demeanor. “I see our local specter hunter is on duty tonight.”

“Very funny,” Franklin replied with a scowl, though the corner of his mouth twitched, betraying his amusement.

“Come now, Franklin. Every time you visit, you act like you’re about to duel an outlaw.” Rebecca rested an elbow on the bar and tilted her head. “Sierra Roja isn’t that wild anymore, not since Sheriff Collins cleaned up the town.”

“Old habits die hard,” he admitted, his hand finally drifting away from the vicinity of his gun. “And I don’t trust Collins as far as I can throw him.”

“Franklin, you wouldn’t trust a saint if he handed you a bible,” Natalie interjected, earning a hearty laugh from her friend.

“True enough,” Rebecca agreed, pouring three shots of whiskey and sliding them across the counter. “But you’ve got to unwind sometimes. The only thing you’re hunting tonight is a good time.”

“Easy for you to say,” he countered, but he accepted the drink with a nod. “You don’t have people looking to settle scores with you.”

“Maybe not,” Rebecca said with a wink, “but I’ve got friends who’d stand by me if they did. Just like we’re standing by you.”

“Assuming you’re not too busy mocking me,” Franklin retorted even as the tension had begun to seep from his shoulders.

“Mockery is how we show love in this part of the country, didn’t you know?” Natalie raised her glass, the corners of her mouth twitching upwards. “To paranoia—may it always keep us on our toes!”

Their glasses clinked together, the sound rising above the din. For a moment, the weight of the world seemed to lift, allowing Franklin a rare respite—a chance to remember that even in the heart of uncertainty, there was solace in the company of those who knew him best.

Natalie leaned closer to him. “Frankie, I do wonder if you’d be more likable if you smiled more, or is that squint your face gets when you’re suspicious considered charming these days?”

Franklin’s brow furrowed, and for a moment, he seemed to search his sister’s face for the jest. His lips twitched, unsure whether to form a frown or a reluctant smirk. “Charming? I reckon I have bigger fish to fry than worrying about being ‘likable,’ Nat.”

“Ah, but that’s just it!” she exclaimed with a playful slap on his shoulder. “You’re always frying fish, even when there ain’t any in the pan!”

Rebecca chuckled from behind the counter, pouring another round of drinks for other patrons. “She’s got a point, Franklin. You’ve got the permanent look of a man who’s expecting rain in the desert.”

Natalie watched as her brother’s hand tensed around the shot glass, his knuckles whitening—a sure sign that their teasing had struck a nerve. She sighed inwardly; her efforts to lighten the mood were backfiring.

“Perhaps,” she continued, softer now, “if you let your guard down, folks might see the Franklin we know.”

“Or maybe I’ll end up with a knife in my back because I wasn’t watchful enough,” he muttered, setting down the untouched whiskey with a force that made the liquid slosh dangerously close to the rim.

“Or maybe,” Natalie prodded gently, “you’ll realize not everyone is out to get you.”

“Enough,” Franklin snapped, his response punctuated by the scrape of his chair against the wooden floor as he stood abruptly. “I don’t need this, not from you two.”

Natalie reached for his arm but he shrugged her off, his eyes darting irascibly over the crowded room before he marched away. He found solace at the far end of the bar where a group of men discussed cattle prices with fervor.

From her vantage point, Natalie watched him go, her heart squeezing with a mix of frustration and concern. He was like a stray coyote among dogs—similar in some ways, but never quite fitting in. With a sigh, she turned back to Rebecca and attempted a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“Sometimes,” she said, raising her glass to the absent figure of her brother, “I think Frankie would pick a scuffle with his own shadow if it dared to follow him too closely.”

Rebecca nodded, her expression softening. “He’s a good man, just wound tighter than a clock spring. Let him be; he’ll come around when he’s ready.”

Natalie hoped that was true. In the meantime, she’d keep the light banter alive, for when he returned, they would need it to dispel the shadows that clung so stubbornly to her brother’s heels.

Rebecca leaned against the polished mahogany of the bar, arms folded as she watched Franklin’s retreating back meld into the crowd. Her gaze held a warm glint, one that seemed to cut through the smoky haze of the saloon with understanding rather than judgment. She turned to Natalie, the clink of glassware providing a steady rhythm to their conversation.

“Your brother, he’s got a good heart beneath all that fretting,” Rebecca said, her tone even but carrying a hint of conviction. “Most men around here only show concern when it affects their pocket. But Franklin? He worries because he cares, deep down.”

Natalie arched an eyebrow, mischief dancing in her eyes. She picked up a stray peanut from a bowl on the bar and tossed it lightly in the air, catching it between her fingers.

“Cares, huh? I reckon if caring were a horse, Frankie’d have ridden it hard and put it up wet.” A sly grin spread across her face. “Seems to me like he’s more apt to worry a hole into his hat than find a moment’s peace.”

“Ah, Nat,” Rebecca chided gently, shaking her head, a smile playing at the corner of her lips. “You know as well as I do that the world’s a powder keg these days. Can’t blame a man for being a mite jumpy.”

“True enough,” Natalie conceded, rolling the peanut between her thumb and forefinger,. Her playful façade wavered for a moment, revealing the gears of concern turning in her mind. “But there’s jumpiness, and then there’s Frankie.”

The pianoforte player struck up a lively tune, and a couple near them began to dance, boots thudding softly on the wooden floor. The infectious energy of the saloon seemed to swirl around them, yet both women remained anchored in their spot, absorbed in their exchange.

“Alarm is one thing,” Natalie continued, tossing the peanut back into the bowl with a soft clatter. “But our dear Frankie would have us building bunkers at the mere whisper of trouble.” She sighed, a slight furrow creasing her brow. “He’s got to learn the difference between caution and calamity.”

“Give it time,” Rebecca suggested, her eyes following the twirling couples. “Franklin might surprise you yet.”

“Surprise me?” Natalie laughed, a genuine burst of humor laced with fondness for her brother. “Now that would be a sight more rare than a green sunset. But I’ll keep my eyes peeled just the same.”

She took a sip of her sarsaparilla and leaned back in her chair, smiling as she watched the dancers whirl across the floor to the jaunty tune that filled the air. The scent of whiskey mixed with the smoky haze from cigars and pipes created a heady perfume that seemed to thrum in time with the music.

“Frankie, you’re going to wear a hole in the brim of that hat if you keep fiddling with it,” Natalie chided gently, her eyes dancing with amusement as she observed her brother’s nervous movements upon his return.

“Sorry, Nat,” Franklin muttered, his fingers pausing in their constant dance around the rim of his hat. “Can’t help feeling we’re sitting ducks in here.”

“Only duck I see is the one on your plate,” she teased, gesturing at the remains of his meal with a playful flick of her wrist.

“Ha, ha,” he replied dryly, but his smile didn’t quite reach his eyes, which darted toward the window yet again.

A sharp clatter erupted from outside, followed by the unmistakable sound of hooves thundering against the dirt road. The saloon’s joviality faltered as heads turned toward the source of the commotion. A horse whinnied loudly, its silhouette passing in a blur past the grimy windowpane.

“I knew it!” Franklin shot up from his seat, his chair scraping against the wooden floorboards. “That’s no ordinary ruckus. I’m checking it out.”

“Franklin, sit down. It’s probably just old Bill losing his grip on the reins again,” Rebecca called out from behind the bar, her voice a mixture of exasperation and concern as she wiped down a glass.

“Or a coyote spooked the horses,” Natalie added. “You’re acting like every shadow’s an outlaw lying in wait.”

“With everything happening lately, maybe because they are,” Franklin countered, his hands clenched into fists at his sides. “Someone’s got to keep watch. I’m not about to let my guard down now.”

“Suit yourself.” Natalie sighed, shaking her head as she watched her brother stride with purpose toward the swinging doors. “But don’t come crying to me when all you find is dust and disappointment.”

His boots thudded heavily, each step punctuated by the creak of worn leather and the jingle of spurs. Franklin pushed through the doors, squinting against the fading light as he surveyed the deserted street. He’d been right to trust his gut—something was off, even if all he had to show for it were the swirling clouds of dust left in the wake of whatever had caused the pandemonium outside.

He emerged into the dusky street, the saloon’s rambunctious laughter fading behind him like the final notes of a fiddle song. The only traces of the earlier commotion were the chaotic patterns of hoof prints that scarred the dirt road and the settling haze of dust hanging in the air like a curtain of doubt. He searched the twilight for any sign of movement, any hint of danger lurking in the shadows that stretched from the buildings.

“Anything out there?” Natalie’s voice called from just inside the doorway, her silhouette framed by the warm glow of the saloon.

“Nothing but horse tracks,” Franklin muttered, eyes still scanning the horizon where the sun bled its last light into the purple bruise of the evening sky.

“Could’ve told you that,” came Natalie’s playful jab, a smile hiding in her tone.

He ignored her, stepping carefully over the scattered debris of a broken hitching post, evidence of a struggle or a hasty departure. His heart thrummed against his ribs, a steady drumbeat of unease. He had felt the tremors of something amiss before the horse bolted, he was sure of it.

“Probably just a jackrabbit got spooked,” he reasoned aloud, though his words did nothing to ease the tension coiling in his gut.

“Or a ghost,” Natalie teased, leaning against the doorframe with arms crossed, her smirk evident even in the half-light.

“Enough, Nat,” he snapped. He turned back toward her, kicking up small clouds of dust with each step.

“Come on back in, Franklin,” Rebecca’s call floated to him, a lifeline thrown across the divide of his paranoia. “The whiskey’s getting lonely without you.”

He hesitated, allowing himself a moment longer outside. With a resigned sigh, he retraced his steps, pushing past his sister with a scowl. She followed him, her chuckles trailing behind them like the tumbleweeds that rolled aimlessly across the plains.

Back inside, the clamor of the saloon rushed to greet him, enveloping him in a wave of noise and warmth far removed from the quiet and chill of the streets outside. Yet it did little to dispel the unease that clung to him like the acrid smell of gunpowder after a shootout.

“Find your outlaw?” Rebecca asked, her eyebrow quirked in amusement as she slid a glass of amber liquid across the bar top toward him.

“Only a fool would think this is over,” Franklin grumbled, taking the glass.

“Or maybe just a man who sees shadows where there are none,” Natalie countered lightly.

“Shadows can hide all manner of sins.” Franklin tasted the bitterness on his tongue as he finally took a swig of whiskey.

“Or maybe they’re just shadows,” Rebecca suggested, her tone softer now.

“Maybe.” Franklin’s reply was noncommittal, the word hanging in the air like a storm cloud on the horizon.

Chapter Two

“Will, these figures are tighter than a noose on a rustler’s neck,” Tom declared, his fingers tracing the columns of numbers that bled across the weathered ledger. He sat hunched over the table in the dim room, with his right-hand man, Will, across from him, squinting through the dusky air as if trying to see into the future that lay hidden in those pages.

The room was thick with the smell of ink and old paper. Dust motes danced in the narrow shafts of light piercing the drawn curtains, casting shadows over the financial documents that sprawled before them.

“Risks be damned, but these numbers don’t lie, Tom,” Will replied, his voice steady yet carrying an undercurrent of concern. His eyes, sharp and calculating, never left the documents, as if they could wring out a more favorable answer from the relentless arithmetic.

“When Sworn Enemies Unite” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Thomas Evans works like hell in the sun-scorched expanses of Sierra Roja to further his family’s legacy. As the master of his ranch, Tom faces not only the relentless challenges of the frontier but also the ongoing feud with the neighboring ranch owner that threatens to consume all he holds dear. When a series of attacks on both of their ranches starts causing suspicion between them, the line between friend and foe blurs, raising a critical question…

Can Tom unearth the truth behind the threats before everything comes crumbling down?

Meanwhile, Franklin Peterson, shaped by the promise made on his father’s deathbed to expand their land no matter the cost, finds himself at a crossroads between vengeance and salvation. The feud with Evans, his mortal enemy, as old as the hills themselves, has cost him more than he’s willing to admit and stems from much more than a simple land dispute. Yet, the sudden appearance of a common foe forces Franklin to reconsider what he’s fighting for.

When death comes knocking at your door there is no time for old feuds…

In the land where every sunrise brings hope and every sunset demands survival, the battle for Sierra Roja is about to begin… With the fate of their community hanging in the balance, can Tom and Franklin set aside a lifetime of animosity and trust each other to discover who’s out to get them?

“When Sworn Enemies Unite” is a historical adventure novel of approximately 40,000 words. No cliffhangers, only pure unadulterated action.

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