West (Chapter Three, page 1 of 2)

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A man of few words and rare emotions, Sheriff Taylor Hansen twisted to catch the woman before she tumbled off his horse to the ground. All but dragging her in front of him, he shook his head when one of his companions, a seasoned Choctaw named Running Bear, asked if he needed help.

There's nothing you can do for this one, he replied silently. Unlike Josie Jackson, he understood why she seemed to magically appear in the prairielands near the natives' village.

"We shall not speak of the latest starman," Running Bear said, referring to the word the natives used to describe the people who came from the sky in a bolt of lightning. "That makes six, including you, brother."

"Five too many," Taylor grunted.

He jostled her until he was somewhat comfortable and balanced. He guided the horse with his legs and found himself once more looking down into her face.

Josie Jackson was flawless with large blue eyes and soaked blonde hair framing a heart-shaped face. Clearly lost, she was nonetheless a potential danger, one that he alone understood. He didn't believe her shell-shocked story about how she got to be in the middle of the grasslands. He knew better than to trust any word she ever told him, and hoped she came to her senses before it was too late, like it had been for many others.

Trained to observe first and act quickly to protect the natural course of history, his duty was to wait and see why she was there before he determined the course of action required.

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