From Chapter Four
Ramsey held firmly onto one end of the struggling steer; Kevin held onto the other. Caught in a loose stretch of wire, the steer stumbled over itself, unable to see through the thick curtain of snow. Now free from the wire, the steer lunged forward, and the edges of Ramsey’s heavy shearling fell open. Beneath the dark wool shirt, his skin chilled, and his thoughts unexpectedly shifted to Eliza. He had caught sight of her hours ago, watching over the cattle. He knew she toiled alongside the men all year long, but he’d never seen her work until now.
“Kevin!” Ramsey’s voice carried through the wind. They’d saved this steer, but they’d already lost four to the storm. He didn’t want to add a body to that count. “Kevin!”
“Here!” Kevin approached from behind, leading Ramsey’s horse behind him.
Ramsey lifted himself into the saddle, fighting to keep the wide-brimmed hat on his head. He leaned as close as he could to Kevin, his words fighting the storm. “Let’s do one more sweep then—”
Howling wind and vibrating moos from the herd couldn’t drown out the gunshot. The barrel blast resonated through the storm, the echo ricocheting off the mountains. He motioned his mount forward, propelling it through the nervous herd. Don’t move! Ramsey silently willed the cattle. A path swept through the snow, parting before him. A horse minus rider pranced in Ramsey’s path. The cattle, sensing or catching the scent of something they didn’t like, moved into each other, temporarily blocking Ramsey’s movement. The gun at his hip slid out of the leather. Three gunshots urged the confused cattle to move away from the sound. Ramsey jumped down from his horse, aware of faint shouting coming from multiple directions. His knees hit the ground, and he lifted the still body into his arms.
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