Warn Angel! (A Frank Angel Western--Book 9)
to catch up with the others,
who were already moving fast up the trail. Don’t you worry, Falco,
I’ll be there. If I got to crawl every inch of the way. And if you
double-cross me I’ll stay on your back trail for as long as it
takes to find you and cut your throat, Kuden thought. He cocked
back his head and looked at the sky. Off over the black hulk of the
mountains he thought he could detect a faint thinning of the
blackness. He checked his pocket watch. Four o’clock. He had a
couple of hours to get ready before it was light. He started
looking for a good place from which to kill Angel.
    ~*~
    By dawn, Angel was saddled up and on the
move.
    He had camped overnight in the lee of a huge
rock overhang crowned with small, closely set pine and thin silver
birch. Beneath the overhang, the blown fall leaves were still dry
and he made a comfortable mattress out of them. He picketed the
horse where it could be seen and built a fire. The night chill was
biting, and he knew that the dampness he could feel in the air
would soon be translated into snow on the high peaks. Soon, it
would be snowing even at this height, and when it snowed up here,
it snowed in earnest: five feet overnight was normal. Ten, fifteen,
twenty feet wasn’t remarkable. He didn’t want to be caught in the
open, hostile wilderness if the weather broke. So far October had
been mild, its winds soft even this high. He knew he’d have to buy
some heavier clothing when he got to Buena Vista. He figured it was
about ten miles north.
    Off to his left now was a sheer-sided
canyon, its north side the lower reaches of Mount Princeton, its
southern Mount Antero. The mountains soared away up above the white
chalk cliffs that bordered a creek that chattered beneath the
deeply shadowed cliffs on its way to merge with the Arkansas, close
to whose banks he was riding now. The trail was wide, and led
through stands of aspen and pine that broke up in grassy clearings
that sloped down to the purling river. Off to his right, the
foothills of the mountains of South Park began, and the towering
peaks made his progress seem painfully slow.
    A flicker of movement caught
his eye up on the crags. He saw it was an eagle, which spread its
wings and soared into the cloudless sky. It flew in a long straight
line from his right, coming lower as it crossed his path toward the
canyon on the left. Then, as he watched, it made a sharp, veering
turn away, the movement of the wide, strong wings accelerating in
steady beats. Angel watched it go, the frown of concentration
deepening between his brows. Easing back against the can tie of the
saddle, he braced his legs against the stirrups and let his eyes
move carefully across the barren rocks frowning down upon the
trail. Nothing moved. He looked for nothing, letting his own fine
eyesight do the work. He knew that anything that moved would catch
his eyes as long as they weren’t focused on anything in particular.
He saw nothing, and knew he was going to have to rely on the horse.
He got himself ready to move and gigged the horse forward, poised
but not tense. When the horse pricked up his ears, he went over the
far side, hearing the angry zzzzizzz of the slug a fraction of a second before the hard
flat clap of a Winchester echoed off the faceless rocks. Up to the
left, he thought as he rolled in the dew-wet grass. The horse had
shied at his sudden movement and the sound of the shot, but he had
thrown the reins forward, and the animal came to a stop, the reins
trailing, settling to placidly crop the thin grass. Angel lay where
he had fallen, face down, legs akimbo, doing his best to look dead.
He knew it would be a long wait now, the killer would take no
chances, might not even come down to make sure. He had heard no
sound of a horse moving away, but that didn’t mean one hadn’t. He
had to stay down and wait. There was no way he could get to a man
with a rifle hidden behind rocks. He had to try to make the man
come to him and he withdrew into

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