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Chapter 36

Amanda was almost back to the pass when she heard the first gunshots. Oh my God! LEX! She pressed her heels to Thunder's sides, urging him to move even faster. She knew that the rancher was unarmed, and she was terrified of what she may find. Hang on, I'm on my way!

Tearing through the pass, Amanda had to pull the huge horse up quickly, almost colliding with the solitary figure on the path.

" Hey! Slow down! " Lex said, reaching up to grasp the heaving animal's reins.

Amanda slid off of the exhausted horse, stumbling over her feet and almost tackling the older woman.

" Amanda? What's wrong? Are you okay? " Lex wrapped her arms around the younger woman, who buried her face in the damp material of the rancher's chest.

The smaller woman choked back a sob. " Am I okay? " she squeezed tighter. " I heard gunshots." She pulled back away from the taller woman, using her hands to search the muscular form. " Are you okay? "

Lex grinned. " Oh, yeah…I'm just fine…" she took her hat off and shook the excess water from it, even though the rain still fell heavily. " A little damp, but fine."

The younger woman was not completely convinced. " Are you sure? You're not hiding anything from me, are you? " She continued to search the tall woman for any signs of injury.

Lex grasped her hands and smiled. " No…they weren't shooting at me…" she laughed. " But I'm not sure if that rabbit will ever be the same again."

Amanda smiled through her tears. " God…I heard the shots, and I thought…" she sniffed, trying to regain some composure.

The older woman pulled Amanda into her strong arms, then bent down to place a gentle kiss on the blonde forehead, which was partially hidden by her hood. " Were you able to contact the sheriff? " she asked, pulling back slightly. " I don't think those guys will be going too far right now."

" Yeah…Martha talked to him - he said that he'd come in the back way." She paused. " What do you mean, they won't be going very far? What have you done? "

Lex gave her a devious little grin. " Seems the tires on their trailer went flat…" she pulled a piece of wire out of her back pocket, " and this accidentally fell off of their truck." She laughed.

Amanda shook her head. " Never mind…I don't think I want to know." She walked back over to Thunder, untying something from behind the saddle. " Here…you look half-frozen." Handing the rancher her duster. She then grabbed the saddlebag and began to dig through it. " Oh, and Martha sent this." She pulled out the handheld radio and tossed it to Lex.

" Great. Now I don't feel so damn isolated." Lex stuffed the radio into an inner pocket of the large coat. Holding out her hand, she silently requested that Amanda move closer to her.

The small woman quickly complied, tucking herself comfortably up against the rancher's ribs. " Now what are we going to do? " she asked, gratefully absorbing the taller woman's warmth.

Lex looked down at her with a gentle smile. " I don't suppose I could talk you into going back to the house? "

" I don't think so." Amanda said seriously.

" That's what I thought." She gave the younger woman a gentle smile. " We, " she hugged her close, " are going to find a good spot to watch the fun." She sobered. " But we have to be very careful, since these idiots have guns." She held up a warning hand. " And, " no smile now, " You have to do exactly as I say, no questions asked, okay? "

Amanda gave her an equally serious nod. " Okay…as long as you realize that I'm not completely helpless, right? " she countered.

" Gotcha." Lex agreed, and led her down the trail back towards the clearing.

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