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For Steve.

Thanks for the time, the understanding, and the support. You've shown me what a true Texan hero is all about.




PROLOGUE



REPUBLIC OF TEXAS, 1843


ROB GARRETT LAY DYING. He knew it. He wanted it. But Dear Lord, why was it taking so long?

Unbearable pain radiated from his spine, eating through every inch of his body, searing his soul. Still, he remained conscious. Penance, perhaps.

He cradled the child to his chest. She was cold now, cold and still. Eternal sleep. I’m sorry, Pumpkin. I tried. But the smoke. At least you were spared this.

Fire. What irony. And Britt, nowhere near this time. He’d never know the score was settled.

Another wave of pain. He clenched his jaw against it. Please, Lord, let me die. Tears escaped his eyelids. Left a trail of salty pain down his cheeks. He smelled charred flesh.

What was that sound? His tortured eyes opened. Tried to focus. Recognized the face. White as the child in his arms. Then the gun. Praise God. A gun.

“Shoot me,” he begged, barely moving his lips. “Shoot…”

The baby was lifted from his arms. He watched the gun. “I tried to save her. She didn’t burn. I tried.”

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