Towards the Edge of Vengeance (Preview)

Chapter One

10 Years Earlier

“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”

Cheers erupted around the yard, and BJ watched as his father took Mrs. Gable in his arms and kissed her tenderly.

He knew he should be happier about today. His own mother had died when he was very young, and he didn’t even really remember having a ma in his life. When his father fell in love with Mrs. Gable, he assured BJ that would all change.

“You’ll have a ma again, boy,” he’d said. “Not only that, but you’re going to have a brother and sister, too. Won’t that be great? A real family!”

“Yes, sir,” BJ had replied. It was all he could say. After all, his father had fallen in love with the young schoolteacher, and her own husband had died the year before. It wasn’t as though there was much BJ could say or do to change his father’s mind.

The man had wanted a family. He’d wanted BJ to grow up with siblings. Most of all, he’d wanted BJ to have that tender, loving hand only a woman could provide. So, when he decided he would marry the beautiful young widow, the only thing BJ could do was to act like he was happy about the arrangement.

But the truth was, BJ had been dreading this day since he found out it was coming.

It wasn’t Mrs. Gable he’d had a problem with. No. In fact, BJ could see himself growing to love the woman dearly with time. She had been nothing but good to him since the day he’d started attending her one-room schoolhouse, and she had a smile as bright and warm as a summer’s day.

He liked her just fine, and might even call her his ma someday.

Her daughter, too, little Winifred, was as sweet as pie. She had bright blue eyes and golden ringlets that fell to her shoulders. They jiggled when she laughed, which she did a lot despite the hardship and trouble she’d had to deal with in her young life.

BJ had always liked Winifred, and he liked the idea of her being his little sister. His father had warned him it would be a big responsibility for him—that it would be his duty to take care of her and make sure she stayed out of trouble. He took the charge seriously, though he did enjoy his stepsister’s tomboy attitude and often found himself more inclined to get involved with her antics than to tell her to be careful.

She looked so pretty today, standing up by her mother as their parents married. His younger stepsister wore her Sunday best—a blue gingham dress with a row of black buttons running neatly from her throat all the way to the ground.

She smiled at him from where she stood, and he stuck his tongue out at her in return, causing her to giggle. A sharp look from his father caused BJ to stand stoically once more, though he couldn’t hide the smirk that etched its way across his features as Winifred also tried to regain her composure.

If it had just been Mrs. Gable and her daughter, BJ would have been very happy that day. He would have been glad to welcome the two into his family.

But he wasn’t that lucky.

Mrs. Gable, young woman though she was, had another child—a son by the name of Winston.

Winston was several years older than both BJ and Winifred. Mrs. Gable had been married when she was only fourteen years of age, and she’d had Winston by the time she was fifteen. Now, fifteen years later, Winston was nearly a grown man himself. He would be joining them in the household, but BJ already felt that he didn’t belong.

He was old enough to be finding a home of his own, BJ thought. Especially since his mother was now married to BJ’s father. It was time for Winston to move on with his life. He no longer needed to take care of his mother or his sister; BJ and his father could do that just fine without his help.

Of course, he hadn’t felt this way about Winston from the beginning. In fact, at the start of the relationship, his father had hoped the two boys would become close despite their age difference. He’d hoped for another hand around the farm, and someone who could be there for BJ while he was away with work and obligated to take care of chores around the house.

But the idea was nothing more than a passing fancy.

BJ never would say so. He didn’t want his father to fret about him or their new family, but the fact of the matter was that Winston was a bully.

From day one, he was relentless in his torment of BJ and his younger sister.

Their mother would pass it off as nothing more than children playing or arguing with each other, but BJ knew it was something much worse than just sibling rivalry.

From the first time they met, Winston had done everything he could to get a rise out of BJ. It all started when he dropped a bee down the back of BJ’s shirt while he was out in the schoolyard. The bee had stung him several times before he was able to smash it against a tree, and all Winston did was stand and laugh.

BJ could have gotten the boy in trouble for what he had done. But his mother was the teacher, and with Winston being so much older than himself, BJ didn’t want to gain the reputation of being a crybaby.

So, he had stayed silent for the past few years, not even telling his father the truth about the bullying when his father started courting Mrs. Gable, or even when his father told him the two of them were to be married by the start of summer.

Now, as he stood by and watched the two join their families into one, he did what he could to ignore the fact Winston was there, once again trying to get a rise out of him.

He made faces at BJ during the ceremony, and after the vows had been exchanged and the guests were enjoying the cake, BJ didn’t trust Winston when he invited him over to the barn.

“Why would I want to go with you?” BJ asked.

“We’re brothers now,” Winston said. “I thought you might want to show me some of your father’s new colts—our colts, I guess.”

“They’re not ours,” BJ quickly corrected the older boy. “They all belong to Pa, and don’t you forget it. Pa gets angry when we mess with them, especially the colts.”

“Come on, I’m not going to mess with them! I just want to see them,” Winston said. “You coming or what?”

“No.” BJ folded his arms across his chest. “And you’d better not go, either, or I’m going to tell Pa on you!”

“You little brat,” Winston shot back at him. “Why don’t you grow up? I’m going to look at the horses.”

He turned and headed toward the barn, and BJ didn’t know what to do. His father was very careful about who he let around the new colts, and he would never let Winston in there alone. The horses were far too impressionable when they were so young, and it didn’t take much for someone to teach them bad habits that it would take his father years to train back out of them.

On the other hand, his father would be furious with him if he found out BJ knew Winston was going to the barn and let him go there alone. Winston didn’t know enough about horses to be in there unsupervised. At least not with the colts.

BJ knew this from all the times they were at school and Winston would throw a fit over getting his clothes dirty in the schoolyard, or when he would complain that BJ would come to school and smell like either hay or horses.

The only reason Winston wanted to be involved with the horses now was because those horses were worth a lot of money. It was the entire reason why his father was so wealthy, and BJ wasn’t going to let Winston do anything to ruin those colts.

“Hold up!” he yelled, chasing after his older stepbrother. “You can’t go in there!”

“Watch me,” Winston said when the two of them reached the barn door.

“I mean it. You’re going to scare those colts, and Pa’s going to give you a whuppin for it!” BJ warned.

“Let him try.” Winston smirked back at him. “I’ll be in charge of the place soon enough, so he needs to get used to the fact there will be other people in with those colts. Besides, they’ll have to adjust to having other people around—I’m going to sell them young.”

“You’re not going to sell them at all!” BJ argued as he followed Winston into the barn. He had a knot in the pit of his stomach, and he wanted more than anything to get Winston to leave the building and go back to the party in the yard.

But he wasn’t going to go to his father. If he did, there would be no chance of ever having Winston’s respect, and the bullying would continue.

“There they are!” Winston pointed to a stall shared by two of the smallest colts. The twins were born just a few weeks before, and BJ’s heart sank further.

“No!” he shouted as Winston started to unlock the door. “You have to leave them alone!”

“I just want to play with them,” Winston said over his shoulder. “It’s not a big deal.”

“Stop it!” BJ cried, rushing over to the gate. “Stop it, now!”

“Get off me!” Winston shoved BJ backward as the smaller boy jumped onto his back, trying to pull him away from the door.

“Stop it, right now!” BJ cried again, this time rushing forward to knock Winston sideways. But Winston saw him coming and stepped to the side at the last minute, causing BJ to run into the gate itself.

The door rattled, and both horses whinnied, running around in circles within the stall and crying in fright.

“What is the meaning of this?”

A booming voice filled the barn, and both boys froze. Turning at the same time, they saw BJ’s father standing in the doorway, his hands on his hips as he surveyed the situation.

“BJ said he was going to show me the colts, but I think he’s just scaring them, sir,” Winston lied. “I tried to tell him it was okay and I’d see them later, but he insisted. I’m sorry.”

“Liar!” BJ shouted, causing the colts to scurry around the stall once more.

“Enough!” his father commanded.

“Sorry, sir, it won’t happen again,” Winston said. “I’d better be getting back to the yard.”

“You both had better be,” BJ’s father said.

BJ dusted off his clothes, hanging his head as he headed toward the door. Winston had already passed through and was on his way back to the party, but BJ stopped when his father put a hand on his shoulder.

“I’m disappointed in you, son,” he said. “You know better than to scare the colts like that. What you’ve done there is enough for me to have to work with them double now to keep them from being gunshy in small spaces. I don’t know what’s gotten into you.”

BJ winced.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he said. He wanted to tell his father what really happened, but there would be no point. His father was happy with the new family, and he would tell BJ the same thing as always.

Winston was his brother now, and though it was going to take time for the entire family to adjust, it was something they all had to work on. It wasn’t going to happen overnight, and they all had to try to make the best of the situation until things went to a new kind of normal.

“Come on, your new ma is going to wonder what happened to us if we’re gone too long,” he said, leading BJ out of the barn and onto the path headed back to the yard.

“I’m sorry,” BJ said again, but his father just waved his hand.

“This is a big day for us, BJ,” he said. “I want to give Abigail—your new ma—a warm welcome, and I need your help with that. I know you and Winston don’t always see eye to eye, but can you please do your best to make him feel welcome here? He’s been through a lot, too, losing his pa and all.”

“Yes, sir,” BJ said again.

“That’s my boy.” His father tousled his hair. “Now why don’t you run along and find Winifred? I’m sure she’ll be wanting a playmate now that the formalities are all over.”

BJ didn’t say anything but went to do as his father had suggested. His throat was tight with emotion, and he wanted more than anything to tell his father the truth about what happened. But he’d also heard what his father had told him, and he didn’t want there to be any trouble for Mrs. Gable.

It wasn’t her fault her son was so terrible, and BJ, well, he’d already waited for years to get his father’s permission to help train the colts. This would set him back some, but it wouldn’t be forever.

Besides that, he could find his new sister and tell her what had happened in the barn, and she would sympathize with him. She was nice, and she knew how terrible her brother truly was. While BJ felt he was gaining an enemy with this marriage, he was also gaining an ally who would be there with him through it.

Winifred was sitting with some of the other young ladies, clearly not having a good time trying to keep her dress clean.

“You want to go down to the creek or something?” BJ asked her when he reached the small group.

“Right now?” she asked. “Ma says I mustn’t get my dress dirty before Sunday. She’s not going to have time to do the washing, and I’m going to have to wear this to church, after all.”

“Aw, come on!” BJ encouraged. “You’re not going to get all dirty, trust me.”

“As long as we don’t,” she reluctantly agreed. “I could stand to get away from this stuffy party anyway.”

“That’s what Pa said.” BJ laughed.

The two of them left the fenced yard and headed down to the creek, but BJ couldn’t stop himself from keeping an eye over his shoulder.

“What are you looking for? You act like there’s a bear or something after you,” Winifred teased.

“I’ll tell you about it later,” BJ said. “But it has something to do with your brother causing trouble for me already.”

“Just ignore him,” Winifred advised. “I’ve been trying for years to get Mama to see how he is, and she just ain’t gonna listen. I suppose that means we’ve got to make the best of it until he’s old enough to marry and live in his own house or something.”

“I can’t imagine anything so terrible for a girl than to be married to someone like him,” BJ said, and Winifred laughed.

“I guess you’re going to find out what it’s like to be his brother now. Being his sister is awful.”

“I’m sure it is,” BJ said with a shake of his head. “But at least you’ve got me for a brother now, too. I’ll keep him in line so he doesn’t bother you like before.”

“Well, isn’t that just the sweetest thing you could have said to me!” Winifred gave her brother a quick peck on the cheek. “Alright then, you and me, we’re going to be allies in this, and Winston, well, he can just be on his own!”

“Don’t do that!” BJ roughly wiped off his cheek. “That’s not how allies act! If we’re going to stand up to Winston, then you’re going to have to have more tomboy in you than girly girl!”

“Aye aye!” Winifred saluted him, and BJ shook his head.

The two of them were down near the creek, and Winifred kicked off her shoes, wading into the water in search of tadpoles.

“Mind you don’t go in too deep and get muddy!” BJ warned.

“This was your idea!” She laughed. “It’s going to be your fault if I do wind up dirty, and you’re going to have to be the one to wash the clothes before Sunday!”

“I’ll tell Mrs. Gable,” he said.

“Ain’t you gonna call her ‘Ma’?” Winifred asked. “She is now, you know.”

“I suppose,” BJ said. “I probably will. I just have to get used to it, that’s all.”

“Like Winston.” She laughed again.

Before he could answer, the two were being called back to the yard.

“I guess the fun’s over,” BJ said.

“I guess,” Winifred agreed as she stepped out of the water and dried her feet on the grass. “But you know what?”

“What?”

“I sure am glad you’re my brother now. I would trade Winston for anyone, but I’m glad that it’s you,” she said.

BJ laughed. “I’m glad I’m your brother now, too. So come on, I’d better get you back to the house before you get in trouble.”

As the two headed back to the yard together, BJ felt a bit better, though not much. This was going to be a change, he knew that, and one he couldn’t imagine liking.

But, like so many other things in his life, this was out of his control. And if he was going to make it through, he would have to make the best of it, no matter what. As long as he had Winifred, he could handle his new stepbrother. After all, there were two of them, and just one BJ.

At least, that was what he hoped.

Winston couldn’t grow up and leave fast enough.

Chapter Two

Present Day

“You’re going to have to do better than that if you think you’re going to be the one running this place one day!” Winston laughed as he looked down at BJ on the ground.

“When you’re about to pull the bale, you need to let me know,” BJ replied, glaring up at his older stepbrother.

“You know that’s what we’re doing out here, so what makes you think I need to call it every time I make a pull?” Winston snorted. “So you don’t wind up on your back on the ground? I think it’s rather fitting for you, actually.”

“Shut up!” BJ yelled.

“Boys, boys!” Carl Davis ran forward. “Is everything alright over here?”

“Yes, sir,” Winston said with a laugh. “Just wondering what Junior’s doing lying around on the job when we’re all out here sweating our way through ‘til supper!”

“You alright?” Carl looked down at BJ.

“Fine. There was a bit of an accident with the way that last bale came down. It nearly toppled over the side of the wagon, and I didn’t want the horses to be spooked, so I stopped it myself,” BJ explained.

“With your body?” Winston laughed. “Then you wound up being the one on the ground anyway! You think if the horses were to spook with you down there, you’d be in danger of being run over.”

“Why don’t you mind the horses and the pulling like you’re supposed to be?” BJ asked his brother. He felt the heat in his cheeks, and he wanted nothing more than to climb onto the wagon and punch Winston in the face.

He hated the pranks his older step-sibling was always pulling on him, and this time, he could have been seriously hurt. Not to mention, Winston was always looking for ways to make it look like BJ didn’t know what he was doing—either around the horses or out in the field.

Their father hired plenty of help for the ranch but insisted both his boys learn how to handle things themselves.

“A good man knows how to run his own business, even if he has the money to hire others to do the work for him, so you boys are going to be out there with the hired help this summer,” he’d told them.

Winston had complained about the situation the entire time, while BJ had taken the task head-on. He wanted to prove to his father that he could handle the ranch. More than anything, he didn’t want his father to have any worries in his old age. The ranch meant the world to his father, and he was going to show the elderly man that he was leaving the place in good hands.

BJ resented the fact Winston was going to have a share in the property after their father passed, but there was nothing he could do about that. The fact that they were family, whether it was merely legally or not, meant equality all around.

But BJ was going to do everything he could to be the one his father named as being in charge of the place. He didn’t mind giving his brother a cut of the money, but he wanted the land. He wanted the house. He wanted to have the horses, as well.

Yet Winston couldn’t get enough of torturing him. Every time BJ turned around, it seemed there was another prank lying in wait. And no matter how much he tried to show his father what was going on, it didn’t help.

His father was blinded with love for Abigail, and after she also passed, he carried on that blind love with both her children.

Winifred had grown into a beautiful young woman. And with her age, she’d grown out of her tomboy tendencies and was now taking finishing classes with a woman in town. BJ missed the fun times the two of them had together, but he respected that she was growing up, and he desperately tried to show his father that he, too, was changing for the better.

But with Winston’s main goal in life being to make BJ look like a fool, BJ felt it was hopeless to imagine his father would see him for the man he was truly becoming. As a child, he’d fought to do well in school along with keeping up with work at the ranch, and as an adult, he dedicated all his time to the work of his father. But still, it seemed Winston was the one who always came out on top.

And Winston knew how to throw it in BJ’s face every chance he got. He never let a day go by without doing something to get on BJ’s nerves, even though BJ had tried time and time again to make peace with his brother.

“Enough horseplay, both of you,” Carl reprimanded. “This isn’t the time or the place for it. Take care of business and get back to the house. I don’t have the time to deal with this nonsense.”

“Of course,” Winston said before looking down at BJ. “Alright, bud, you heard the man. Get back up here and let’s finish loading this hay onto the wagon and get it back to the barn, what do you say?”

“I say you’d better stop your fooling around and let me get some of this work done before I let you know just how sick of this I really am!” BJ growled.

Winston put his hands up in mock surrender.

“Whoa, there! If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were mad at me. What’s the matter? Don’t you like the little joke I pulled on you?” he prodded.

“It wasn’t a joke and you know it!” BJ snapped at his brother. “You were just trying to humiliate me as usual, and I’m sick of it! I’ve put up with this since the day you moved into the house, and I’m telling you right now, it’s over!”

He climbed up onto the hay stacked in the back of the wagon and looked his older brother in the eyes.

“I don’t know what your game is, but my father isn’t going to hand all his money over to you, so you can just forget about that. I might have to share some of what’s mine with you, but I’m not going to let you take over. Not a chance.”

The smile faded from his brother’s face. It hadn’t been a friendly smile to begin with, but the look that replaced it was far more sinister. He leaned forward, closing the distance between himself and BJ. He clearly didn’t want to risk being overheard by any of the hired hands.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. “You might be Papa’s flesh and blood, but he’s my pa just the same as yours, and I’m going to get what’s rightfully mine as the oldest son in the family. Sorry, squirt, but you had your chance, and there’s a new sheriff in town now. So give it up.”

Winston turned and settled into the seat of the wagon, taking the reins and slapping them on the backs of the horses before BJ had the chance to argue with him further.

BJ clenched and unclenched his fists. He wanted nothing more than to get into a real fight with his brother. He was sick of the war of words the two of them waged on a near-daily basis. Instead, he wanted to get right down to it and prove to his brother that he was a man. He wasn’t going to put up with being bullied anymore—and he wasn’t going to sit by and watch his brother take everything that he was working for, either.

He couldn’t bring their father into it. Winston knew that as well as BJ did, and that was what his brother was using against him. No, if this was going to end, once and for all, he would have to be the one to make it happen without his father there to witness.

But BJ didn’t know how to make that happen. It seemed every time he tried to get the best of his brother, Winston would find some way to come out on top. BJ wouldn’t risk something that would only make him look bad, so he always shied away from getting into any sort of physical fight with Winston, though it was getting harder with each passing day.

Winston wasn’t a very big man, and BJ knew he could take him quite easily in any sort of fight they might have. But he also knew his brother would take that and go to their father as evidence BJ was jealous of him. He would twist it into something that would leave BJ in trouble with their father, and make Winston come out on top.

BJ walked to the back of the wagon and sat with his legs dangling over the edge of a hay bale. He wasn’t hurt physically, but he was sure that Carl was going to tell their father what had happened in the field that day.

And he was sure Carl would make it sound as though BJ was the one who had started it all. It was just what Winston would want. Something more to make it look like he was the one who took the work seriously while BJ was the one who thought everything was a game.

BJ was stewing over his emotions as they pulled up closer to the barn. He wanted to leave his brother to unload the hay on his own, but that would also look bad. Not to mention right here at the house, his father would be able to see with his own eyes that BJ wasn’t helping.

Now was not the time to try to talk any sense into his stepbrother. For now, he was just going to have to put up with his wounded pride and get through the rest of the work.

“Hey BJ!” Winston called from the front of the wagon.

“Yeah?” BJ replied.

“You want to take the horses and put them up for the night? I’m sure you can manage that without winding up lying around,” Winston said with a laugh.

“Let it go, Winston,” BJ warned him. “It wasn’t funny when you did it, and it isn’t funny now.”

“What? You don’t want to tell Pa about it at dinner tonight? I’m sure Carl is going to have plenty to report before we even get that far, so you’d better have some explanation for what happened, besides you falling off the wagon!”

“I didn’t fall, you pushed me!” BJ argued.

“With what? I was on the other side!” Winston smirked. “Perhaps you should have been watching what we were doing instead of staring off into nothing like you do so often.”

“I wasn’t!” BJ yelled. “I was working, and you waited for the chance to try to hit me with that bale! You’re lucky I saw it coming when I did or something bad could have happened.”

“I’m not thinking anything too bad would have come of it,” Winston said with a shrug. “Even if the horses had spooked, it’s not like they’re able to pull anything away too quickly.”

“You know what I mean. Pa has told us dozens of times to pay attention when we’re working and not fool around—” BJ started, but his older brother cut him off.

“Which is why I’m telling you that you’d better have some sort of a good explanation for him when he asks about why you were messing around with the hay on the ground when we were supposed to be loading up the wagon. On the other hand, we might get lucky enough that Carl doesn’t say anything,” Winston said with a shrug.

“And I’m supposed to think you’re not going to bring it up, either?” BJ asked.


“Towards the Edge of Vengeance” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

BJ did not have an easy childhood, but all the hardships and troubles have forged the lionhearted man he is today. Despite his bad luck, though, he has a chance to turn his life around after inheriting the largest ranch in town. Little did he know that one fateful day he would find it burned to the ground. Having lost everything, there is only one thing left to do: find the evil arsonist and make him pay dearly.

The road to justice will be long and bloody…

Wilhelmina’s life has never been a child’s play. After losing both of her parents in a horrific accident, she has no one to turn to but her cousins. Her arrival to their house is greeted by the ruins of a tragedy, but soon, she and BJ will form an unlikely alliance to fight a common deadly enemy.

This ride for vengeance could change her life in ways that she could never have foreseen…

When BJ finds out an old rival has escaped from prison, he has no doubts about who was behind the fire. Now his only goal is to give him a taste of his own medicine… Even though destiny seems determined to put BJ to death early, will his excellent gun skills allow him to survive? Or will he lose everything he cherishes in an insane orgy of violence?

“Towards the Edge of Vengeance” is a historical adventure novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cliffhangers, only pure unadulterated action.

Get your copy from Amazon!

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