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Life has become tranquil for young Cuno Massey, now residing in a quiet little town where he’s taken a job driving a beer wagon. But trouble has always had a way of dogging the young gunslinger’s heels. It hunts him down here in Cottonwood, as well, when the middle-aged stalker of the pretty schoolteacher discovers her giving Cuno more than just reading lessons.
When Cuno’s accused of rape and murder, and a passel of toughnut outlaws start chafing at the bit to hang him from an old cottonwood, young Massey finds himself having to rely on his old gunfighting wits...as well as the courage of an aging lawman...to keep Jake Hardaway’s bunch from giving him a formal invitation...at gunpoint...to his own necktie party.
From the book:
Marshal Palmer grimaced. The room felt too small for him. He didn’t feel like he should be here. He didn’t feel like Horn should be here, either, lying dead on the floor. For some reason, Palmer felt responsible for them both being here, in this poor girl’s room. But he had a job to do...
He pulled up a straight-back chair from the wall, angled it toward the bed, just left of Bill Horn’s sightlessly staring eyes, and eased his considerable weight into it. He could hear the wood creaking beneath him.
Oh, sure, he thought, holding his hat in his hands. Now break the poor woman’s chair, you big oaf...
Silence. Then she drew a breath and, facing the wall, said, “What?”
“Did...uh...did that fella down there—I think I seen him drivin’ the beer wagon fer the brewery—did he...was he the one that...that assaulted you, Miss Strowbridge?”
Again, silence. Palmer studied her. She stared at the wall for nearly half a minute and then she closed her eyes tightly. She squeezed them shut and drew her trembling lips back from her teeth. Her shoulders jerked.
“Yes,” she said in a pinched voice as she sobbed.