Taking Care of Business

By CC 

A sequel to “Our Ranch.” 400 words.


Scott jumped as Johnny stepped out of the shadows. “How much did you hear?”

Johnny shrugged. “Not much.”

“You didn’t hear about the policy?”

“What policy?”

“I really didn’t want to tell you this,” Scott said, eagerly tugging the crispy papers from his shirt. “Murdoch wants you dead, for the insurance money.”

Johnny’s eyes narrowed as he stared at the document, turning the pages excruciatingly slowly. He was kind of dense, proved that the last few days, so Scott figured he’d better read it aloud to him. Using little words. No use taking chances. When he was finished he could see Johnny’s gun hand twitching, always a good sign. “Now, Johnny, don’t do anything rash.”

“Like what?” Johnny asked, still looking dense.

Jesus, how had Johnny survived this long? “Like shooting Murdoch first.”


Murdoch paced back and forth in his room. How had he made such a mistake? He’d blamed Johnny for the ranch’s problems, seen him shoot the Stryker boy and jumped to the wrong conclusion. No, it wasn’t Johnny Madrid who had put the ranch in the predicament it was in. In fact, he needed him.

It had taken Scott’s questioning to open his eyes to his folly. No, Johnny wasn’t the problem. It was that smart-ass Scott. He pulled open the bottom drawer and rummaged around for Scott’s policy.

This should be much easier.


Teresa closed the door quietly behind her and tiptoed to the barn. Davis was there, his bald head reflecting the moonlight like a halo. She fell into his arms and felt her knees wobble as he kissed her, soft and tentatively, his tongue coming home like a chipmunk to its den. She let the insurance man’s hands discover the papers hidden in her bodice.

“All here,” she said. “Three policies, one will, one wedding license!”

“And you’re cooking all next week?”

She nodded, tingling inside when he murmured, “Well done, Mrs. Bateman.”


Johnny sank into bed. He’d kill Murdoch tomorrow. That condescending Scott, too, with his “only good thing that’s ever happened to you” speech, and now reading to him like he was slow-witted. Asshole.

To think, he’d planned on sharing his good fortune with them tomorrow. And Murdoch had called his friends worthless. Murdoch should have such friends. Taking out that insurance policy on Wes had been the best thing he’d ever done.



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