Disclaimer is stated fully in Part One of Return of the Remembered.

Part Four - Return of the Remembered

Josiah watched the big shadow of Grayland Adams emerge from the livery. He was smart not to leave after dark, but Josiah wasn't happy about seeing him heading toward the boarding house. The preacher emerged from the unfinished church and he sat on the front steps. He knew Nathan was watching from his clinic.

Josiah was about to follow Adams when he saw Ezra leaving the telegraph office. He whistled a signal that only the seven knew, and Ezra glanced toward it. Josiah nodded toward the boarding house and Ezra caught sight of Grayland Adams stepping into the house . . . where visitors to Four Corners spent the night . . . and where several of his friends lived . . .

Where JD lived . . .

Ezra nodded at Josiah and followed Adams into the boarding house.


Mary stepped out of the cafe, lips pursed, anger evident. She wasn't watching where she was going, she was so lost in thought. And when Chris Larabee startled her, she spun on him, furious.

"Hold on, Mary," Chris said, holding her arms. "What's wrong?"

Vin and Buck stayed away from the scene playing itself out.

"Let go of me," Mary demanded, and Chris released her immediately.

Chris searched her eyes. "Are you all right? Has something happened?"

Mary was confused for a moment. "Other than you scaring the . . . daylights out of me?" She straightened her skirt and looked at the ground for a moment. Then she looked back at the gunslinger. "I'm sorry, Chris. I'm just . . . hungry." She glanced back at the cafe. "I waited for half an hour for my supper . . . and it never came. I never even got my lemonade." Chris looked back at Buck and Vin and motioned for them to check it out.

"Did you call for the waitress or the cook?"

"It was a new woman - she had an accent. . ."

"We met earlier. She was slow but not that slow."

"I checked the kitchen - and there was no sign of her, or the cook, or my supper, for that matter."

Chris' brows furrowed. "Did you happen to see JD?"

"No." Mary began to feel a bit anxious. "Should I have?"

"I told him to wait for me there. That was maybe forty-five minutes ago."

"Then I should have seen him." Mary turned back toward the cafe, but Chris gently touched her arm and guided her in the opposite direction. If he is in trouble, the cafe may not be safe. Josiah had made his way into the street.

"Trouble?" he asked.


"Adams just went into the boarding house. Ezra's following him."

Chris sighed. "JD may not even be there. He may have been taken from the cafe."

"Then Adams couldn't have done it." Josiah shook his head.

"Maybe JD took off of his own accord." Mary knew the boy wanted answers.

Chris grit his teeth. What if JD had changed his mind and took off after Adams? What if he were waiting to ambush him?


"Mary - Let Josiah take you to Nathan's until things settle down a bit." She started to protest. "At least until everybody's accounted for."

"But . . ."

"Chris!" Vin's voice cut the awkward moment.

The tough gunslinger turned concerned eyes to Mary. "Please . . ."

Mary nodded.

Josiah's soft baritone was calming. "Let us know as soon as you know something."

Chris nodded and ran to see what Vin and Buck had discovered.


Ezra didn't just walk into the boarding house. He almost glided. Every move he made was polished. And he looked debonaire. Anyone watching him would think he owned the town. His eyes bore an aristocratic authority, his fine features revealing only what he wanted to reveal. His voice was musical and easy, and his lexicon was intimidating to a newcomer.

There were only a couple of folks in the big room downstairs, chatting and enjoying an aperitif. Under normal circumstances, he might have joined them, but now he needed be ready to intervene if Grayland Adams had any thought of chatting with JD Dunne. Ezra hoped the boy was at the cafe like he was supposed to be.

"You just can't leave a law-abiding citizen be, can you?" Adams squared off with the gambler - towering over him.

Ezra wasn't the least bit intimidated. "Oh, I don't think you are as law-abiding as you would have us believe."

"If you intend to slander my name, you'd best have proof."

Ezra took a step back from the mountain of a man, laughing to himself, infuriating Grayland Adams. "Proof from Maryland perhaps?" Ezra prodded. "From Massachusetts?"

Adams face became ashen. Ezra cocked an eyebrow and feigned a look of great concern. "Your orphanages? Oh, that's right, they aren't in your name. But they are yours, are they not?" Ezra's eyes became cold and his finger twitched on the release of his derringer.

"What do you intend for JD Dunne? Your 'son'? What exactly do you want from him?" Ezra's voice became calculating. "Don't you find enough . . . workers . . . among the children in your filthy institutions?"

A roar erupted from Gryaland Adams as he dove on the gambler. But Ezra had anticipated the move and stepped aside. The derringer popped into his hand and Ezra stood over the man who had landed on the floor.

"Don't think about assaulting me. I still have keys to the jail, and the fact that you have already attempted to do me bodily harm has given me pause to consider incarcerating you yet again. But, as I am sure that you intend to leave Four Corners first thing in the morning, I will do nothing to hinder your departure." Ezra's voice became nothing more than a hiss. "Now get the f*** out of my building."

Adams rolled on his side and got up warily. Ezra watched him lumber down the stairs - knowing he had made a permanent enemy. And he smiled to himself. So he didn't own the boarding house.

But if Grayland Adams could lie badly

Ezra Standish would thoroughly enjoy lying well.


Buck paced around the dimly lighted cafe like a caged cat. "Then where the hell is he?"

"All I know is that someone was dragged out of here." Vin Tanner was frustrated as well. They both turned when Chris emerged from the kitchen.

"And we know that the lemonade was drugged."

"What?" both of his friends asked at once. Chris handed the glass to Buck.

"What the hell is it?" He handed the strange smelling glass to Vin.

"Nathan will know," Vin offered.

Buck slammed his fist on one of the hard tables. "How could we just . . . lose him like this? We're so busy trying to scare the holy hell out of Adams, we can't even protect the kid. Someone just snatches him right out form under our noses." Buck got right in Chris' face. "JD was scared. He was hurting over his mama. And he trusted us - he trusted ME to get him through this." Suddenly Buck's eyes filled. "I let him down."

Chris put a strong hand on his old friend's shoulder. "We'll find him. And we will get him through this."

Vin looked at the floor for a moment. Then he spoke. "They can't have gone far." He grabbed a lamp. "Which one of you wants to track 'em with me?"

Buck looked around, frustrated. "I'm gonna go find Grayland Adams and shake the truth out of him."

Chris grabbed his arm. "No. Wait til he leaves town. He'll lead us right to him."

"What if it's too late, Chris?"

Vin spoke up. "He doesn't want him dead. He wants him to be his . . . slave."

Buck nearly came flying out of his skin. "If he touches him . . ."

"We all will." Chris' promise was as binding as a legal document.

"You comin'?" Vin asked.

Chris patted Buck's shoulder. "Go on. Find him."

And Chris uttered a prayer as his friends went out in the night.

"Please God, let the kid be all right."

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