Dark Heart Wolf - Haley Weir


Wolf Valley, Colorado

August 1871

Mary Ann yanked on the rope and secured the cover to the wagon bed. The wind nearly knocked her off of her feet several times. Her brother Leroy barked orders from the front as he strapped in the horses. The storm had been brewing for hours, but Leroy had a talent for procrastination. Mary Ann rolled her eyes and stumbled towards the house. Her brother cracked the reins and rode out of town as if there were no danger of the wagon going off the side of the harsh trail.

The wagon rolled out of sight just as a knock came upon the back door. Mary Ann strolled through the house and peered through a crack in the door. Sam Cassady leaned against the wooden post and smiled beneath the shadow of his hat. Mary Ann's heart beat furiously in her chest as she fought against the answering smile that teased the corner of her lips. "You better get that sweet talkin' grin off your face, Samuel," she chuckled. "You and I—"

"Wait." Sam inched a little closer, eyes locked on her lips as though compelled by something neither of them could see. "I know what you're about to say, and I...I'm only interested in being your friend."

"I thought Sam Cassady was too good for friends," she said teasingly.

"Not when it comes to you, apparently." Sam leaned forward and kissed her cheek. Mary Ann jumped out of reach and stared down the road, praying no one had seen him act so brazenly.

"You have a wife!" she whispered harshly. "If anyone were to come around and see you actin' so familiar, neither of us would be worth more than the dirt on your boots in this town. You must know how this looks. My brother leaves town and you come knockin' on the back door?"

"Look, I ain't here to start trouble, I just...somethin' brought me here, Mary Ann. You know about my family. You know we ain't like most folks around here. I'm at your house for a reason."

Mary Ann glanced towards the dark clouds rolling across the sky and shook her head. "No. Go home, Samuel. We can be friends but go home to that family of yours and wait out this storm." She shut the door before her resolve could weaken further and pressed her forehead against the wood. Mary Ann took a deep breath before turning around.

At the sight of a shadowy figure standing in the dining room, she nearly let that breath out in the form of a scream. If not for the recognizable hat of Boone Cassady, Mary Ann reckoned she might have keeled over from a heart attack. "Boone! What are you doin' here?"

"How often does my brother sneak off the ranch to see you, Mary?"

She lowered her head and strolled into the kitchens. Boone followed and sat in one of the chairs at the table without needing an invitation. "Your brother and I are just friends. I ain't too sure if your question means you think poorly of me or if you think poorly of him. Either way, I don't like the implication that I have led your brother astray."

"Has he been unfaithful to his wife?"

"Samuel and I just talk, Boone," she huffed in irritation. "He can't talk to you and he is not as close to Itsá as the rest of ya'll, so he comes here. I'm the only person who lives off the ranch that knows what you really are."

"I've known you your whole life." Boone smirked at that. "But I don't like the thought of you throwin' your life away all because Sam is restless."

“You don’t get it. I like Samuel. If he weren’t married, I think we would be together. But I missed my shot when Leroy took me away for a while, and I’ll always regret never tellin’ him how I feel. No one gets to decide whether or not Samuel and I remain friends. Not even you, Boone.”

“You push him away and then you draw him right back in. I can hardly stand the sight of my brother most days, but I love him. He’s my family,” Boon said. “I don’t want him gettin’ hurt just as much as I don’t want him hurtin’ you.”

“I’m tired of livin’ my life as if I was only born to meet the expectations of others.”

“That tiredness in you and the restlessness in him are exactly what I’m afraid will get the two of you into trouble.” Boone had made his point