The setting is Arizona Territory 1883. Abigail Spencer has ridden with a coworker out of Tucson to retrieve a stolen shipment, she hopes, which is meant to be an adventure. She finds more than she expected. Her life is about to change in ways she never imagined possible and this is the beginning.
She went to where Martin lay curled on his side, his eyes closed. There was blood on his hair. She felt for his pulse and determined it to be strong. She put her gun into the pocket of her jacket, threw it over her saddle, and took her canteen to where Martin lay. When she started to kneel at his side, she realized they were no longer alone in the clearing. How could she have forgotten that other man?
She ran toward her horse and gun, but before she could reach them, a horseman had raced to her, swooping her up in a long, hard arm. Although she couldn't see the face of the one who'd captured her, there were six men on horses now ringing her--hard, rough looking men.
She kicked out at the man, his horse, anything to force him to drop her. She heard a deep masculine laugh and it increased her efforts to free herself. She bent and bit the hand that held her, her teeth sinking deep into the soft flesh between thumb and finger. In another moment she landed on her knees, like a cat she leaped to her feet. Again she ran for her horse, but the man who had held her was quicker as he flung himself from his horse and put his hard muscled body in front of her. He was a solid wall, stopping her so abruptly that only his strong hand kept her from bouncing back so hard that she would have landed on her posterior.
"Looking for something?" he asked, white teeth flashing in a swarthy, bearded face as he turned and delved into her coat for the gun.
She reached for it, desperate beyond clear thinking. A tall man, he easily held it above her grasp and laughed again. "Don't think I'm that much of a fool, lady. I saw what you did to that one." He gestured with his thumb toward the body.
She didn't know if it was the cool grin on the rugged face or his words that infuriated her more. She only knew she was too angry to be frightened. "Give me my gun," she demanded.
He shook his head. The other men, who hadn't dismounted, laughed. One of them yelled, "I'd be glad to help iff'n you want." Another added, "She too much for you, boss?" "
The tall man laughed. "Maybe so. We'll see." He eyed her a little warily, then glanced down at his hand which was bleeding from her bite. "Hope you ain't been foaming at the mouth, Ma'am." He chuckled at her thinly suppressed rage.She knew, not knowing at what moment she'd recognized the truth, that she'd seen him before, that he'd filled her dreams for nights since. He was the man in black, who was no longer a dream but now a living nightmare. She chastised herself for having romanticized an outlaw. Had a wish gotten through at the shrine despite her skepticism?