“Okay, little brother, are you going to explain the odd, little scar on your hip?” Scott smirked, “It’s new, I didn’t see it when we stripped you to remove Pardee’s bullet.” This time Scott didn’t try to stifle the small laugh.
Johnny scowled at his annoying big brother and tried to turn away but Scott grabbed his arm and refused to let go. “Come on Johnny, tell me.”
“It ain’t nothin’ Boston.” Johnny growled and tried to pull his arm free, “Now you best let go if you want to keep a working arm.”
Scott let go and held up his hands, “Johnny, I just want to make sure...you know...that it isn’t infected.”
“We need to make sure.” Scott shrugged his shoulders, “Of course I could tell Murdoch we need to send for Sam to make sure.” Scott continued his argument.
Johnny spun around and walked up to his smug brother and poked Scott in the chest. “You need to mind your own business, Boston.”
Scott recognized the Madrid glare and growl, and decided to back off some. “Please Johnny, I am not trying to insinuate myself but I am concerned.”
“What?’ Johnny backed off then shook his head and stomped off.
He watched Johnny stomp off to the barn and wondered how soon his brother and Barranca would race off. Well, not this time. Resolved, he followed his brother to the barn, there would be no running away this time.
Johnny stood by Barranca, his head resting against the golden neck. He was whispering in Spanish and combing the mane with his fingers.
“I’m sorry Johnny, I honestly didn’t mean to upset you.” Scott was beginning to think this time he had over stepped. “Look, I wasn’t trying to pry, you’re my little brother and I want to be the big brother you confide in…”
“Yeah Boston, I know, it’s just kinda embarrassin’.” Johnny turned and faced Scott. “Look, if I tell ya promise it’s just between us? And if you laugh I ain’t telling ya nothing, ever again, got it?” He was definitely slipping into Madrid mode.
“I promise.” Scott resisted saluting his brother. Humor was not needed under these circumstances.
Johnny walked over and closed the barn door then back to Barranca, just being close to his beloved horse seemed to reinforce him. Scott waited, he wasn’t going to push this conversation. Instead he sat on a bale of hay next to Barranca’s stall.
“Okay, Boston,” Johnny took a deep breath and continued. “Do ya remember the new saloon girl in Morro Coyo?” He looked at Scott and his brother nodded.
“Well, I went to check her out and she is really something.” A long pause and Scott was afraid Johnny wasn’t going to finish the story.
Finally, “She was really good and I was thinking I’m going to be seeing her again, might even give you a chance.” A bitter laugh, “That is until it happened…”
Johnny moved away from Barranca but stood with his back to Scott. He was having second thoughts about telling Scott about the scar, but what the hell, big brother won’t give up.
“Merida Scott, she branded me.” Johnny turned to face Scott.
“She branded me, I was sleeping and the next thing I know my ass is on fire.”
Scott bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing, he was sure Johnny would shoot him at the first snicker.
Johnny shrugged his shoulder, “She said I was the best she ever had and wanted to make me…” Another pause, Scott waited.
“Ya know that thing you use on your letters, the thing you push in the wax?’
“Y...e...s…” Scott dragged out.
“That’s what she used. Said it had her initial on it and that would make me hers.”
Johnny looked so defeated and Scott wasn’t sure where to go with this information. In fact he now wished he had never seen the stupid scar.
Well, he needed to assure Johnny so he went to his brother and put his arm over the other man’s shoulders. “Don’t worry Johnny, this is between us and no one will hear the story from me.”
Johnny looked relieved, “Thanks Boston.”
“By the way Johnny, don’t feel required to introduce me to the woman.”