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Chapter One


THE BEGINNING


The odor of the pews and raw wood penetrates my sinuses with a scent reminiscent of the farmhouse. The year is 1869 and with all that has transpired since the war my heart has hardened, leaving a gaping hollow hole inside. Sanctuary in this old church provides me a temporary reprieve and further prepares me for a visit to my mom’s grave, the first in over a year.

Footsteps break my solace and I swing around with Colt in hand. The dark-cloaked pastor seems unprovoked by my action and raises his hand out to me as a sign of welcome.

“Joshua, is that you? It’s okay; you are in the house of the Lord and weapons of destruction are unnecessary here.” His voice echoes off the walls, but is at once both calming and quite peaceful. “How have you been since last we spoke?”

Without saying a word, I’m sure he can see by my leather cladding and well-worn gun holster that the hunter is also the hunted. There exists a long silence before I can swallow the lump embedded in my throat, and reply. “My hunt for my mother’s killer’s has lead me across several states, but as of yet I’m no closer than the day I started.” I bow my head in sheer exhaustion. “I owe it to her to bring them to justice.”

“Joshua, your mother’s death was not your fault.” He puts his hand on my shoulder and continues. “If you were there at the time you would be in a grave as well. The guilt you feel is normal, but in the eyes of the Lord the guilty will be punished. Whether He brings down the killers by your hand or by some other means is not your decision. This guilt you feel will continue to consume you day by day and will be relentless unless you release it.”

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