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| Chapter 1
“Will that be cash or charge, Miss Johnson?” Mrs. Thomas asked in a all too smug voice. Although she was one of the most respectable ladies in the town, she wasn’t the nicest. She was a stout older lady and was as blind as a bat. She had thick spectacles that always seemed to be slipping down her nose. She was the type of person that looked down on others who wasn’t like her. Rich. And poor Joanna Johnson and her family were not rich whatsoever and so were looked down on by the people of Meadowdale, among other reasons.
“Charge, Mrs. Thomas,” Joanna or Jo as her family called her, said with a smile. Although Jo had the manners of a monkey, she always was sweet and kind to Mrs. Thomas. Not because she liked her of course, but because it made her so furious with her that “the dragon”, as Jo called it, would come out. Her cheeks would turn a blotchy red and her voice would come out all hoarse. The only thing that was missing was the fire breathing part that automatically comes with the dragon look. But Jo just assumed she did that behind closed doors so nobody would know what she really was. Jo picked up her basket and with a final smile and a mischievous wink to go with it at Mrs. Thomas, she headed for the door.
“Well, in all my days…” Mrs. Thomas sputtered out as Jo left.
As Jo stepped outside of the Thomas Mercantile she ran right into a couple of rowdy ranch hands. They were disheveled from head to foot and looked half drunk even though it was a respectable hour in the morning. One was quite tall, but so was Jo. She was at a height of about 5’10 and the half drunk man stood only a mere couple inches taller. He had a crop of curly brown hair and a pair of brown eyes to match. He was on the slim side while his partner was the exact opposite. His hair was the color of the sun and his eyes were the color of the sky. He stood about a half a foot shorter than Jo. But they each had a hand on one of Jo’s arms and a smirk on their faces.
“Well, lookie here, Slim, we got ourselves a genuine sodbuster and you know what the boss thinks of those,” the pudgy short one said.
“Yeah, and you know what he said to do to sodbusters. Right, Will?” Slim replied.
But Jo didn’t have a mind to get whatever their boss said to do to sodbusters done to her, let alone hear it, so to catch them both unawares she flashed them one of her very seldom smiles and then she jumped backwards causing each of her feet to kick them in their guts sending them flying backwards. She flying back too hadn’t come to her mind, but she did and thought it was just a price she had to pay to get away from those ignorant pigs. But what she really didn’t expect was them getting up so quickly.
“Now your gonna get it, boy,” Will grunted while getting up.
Good, she thought, she not only damaged their ego, but she also caused them pain too.
“I wouldn’t come any closer if I were you,” she said as she slipped one of her most prized possessions out of her belt, a .44 caliber colt. She was still half laying on the ground, not bothering to get up. Her fall hurt her more than she wanted to let on.
“You don’t know what your saying, boy. Put that thing away before you hurt yourself.”
The one called Slim was up now and they were both slowly walking towards her.
“Fat chance,” she said then cocked the gun, “you’re the ones who should be afraid of getting hurt. Now stay where you are.”
She didn’t even have to say anymore. They stopped dead in their tracks the moment she cocked the gun. They obviously knew she meant business. Will motioned with his head to Slim to try to go around her while he kept her preoccupied, but Jo noticed this little motion and pointed the gun at Slim instead.
“You better think twice about taking orders from him. All he wants is to get out of this alive. He wouldn’t even think twice about you getting killed because as you can see he’s making you come around the back of me to catch me unawares so I’ll shoot at you so he would actually be the person catching me unawares. And before you say I might miss. How do you know I will. I could actually have a good shot or I might not, so tell me are you willing to risk your life on a chancy situation like this? I don’t think so. So if you actually want to get out of this alive I suggest you both hightail it out of here.”
Jo could of almost laughed at how fast there expressions changed from being empowered to being absolutely baffled. But when they turned to leave and then went to turn back she wasn’t surprised at all. Was in fact glad and would have been very disappointed if they didn’t because she loved a good fight. Anything really just as long she got to use her gun. She never killed anybody though, she just always shot the guns out of her opponents hands.
But before the two ranch hands could turn around fully two shots rang out from across the street. One after the other each of their guns fell to the ground while they clutched at their hands. They didn’t even bother to pick up their guns but they did use Jo’s advice and “hightailed it out of there” without even sparing a backwards glance.
But Jo didn’t even notice. She was too furious. Right when she heard the two shots ring out and the guns fall to the floor she jumped up despite the pain that shot up her back. That was her fight. Not whoever shot those shots. She was already walking hell-bent across the street towards the jackass that thought he could ruin her only fun of the day.
The jackass though, to Jo’s dismay, wasn’t just an ordinary jackass, he was a handsome jackass. He was young and, damn, the handsomest man she had ever seen.
Jack Matthews unfortunately didn’t know what was going on through this woman’s mind. He in fact thought she was a boy by the clothes she was wearing. She was wearing denim jeans, a black homespun shirt, black work boots, and a wide brimmed black cowboy hat. She also had a red bandana around her neck and a .44 caliber colt holstered in her gun belt. Everybody who lived in the town knew she wasn’t a boy, but a strange young woman by the name of Joanna, or Jo, Johnson who lived on the Johnson farm about 20 miles out of town.
Jo walked across the street in long strides with determination in every step.