Refuge (Robledo Mountain #2)
Chapter 1

Copyright© 2020 by Kraken

I woke up slowly Saturday morning, with a feeling that something was different. It took a few moments, but eventually, I realized I wasn’t alone in bed. Opening my eyes in the half light of the pre-dawn, I looked over to see Anna’s head still on my right shoulder. With a smile I remembered the wedding, the reception, and our late-night exploration of possibilities.

It was hard for me to believe how much my life had changed. Staring at my still sleeping Anna, I couldn’t help but think that my life had vastly improved when I drove into that strange fog and passed out, less than twenty miles from home on that hot August night in 2016.

Of course, it took me a while to realize where and when I was after I regained consciousness, not to mention getting over the loss of everyone and everything I knew, as well as fighting my own personal demons.

Let’s face it! Waking up in a cave, fifty years younger, and a hundred and sixty-six years in the past, is mind bending. Time travel, with inexplicable age regression, is hard enough to deal with. Add in hearing spirit voices in your head, and I think almost anyone would have concluded they were experiencing a psychotic breakdown. The fact that the spirit voice was my dead wife, reminding me of promises I’d made to her on her death bed, just made it even more confusing.

I think I would have gone crazy if it hadn’t been for the help of many people. Chief among those was Anna, herself. My beautiful Anna, possessed of a rare combination of common sense, street smarts, and book knowledge; along with a no-nonsense way of expressing herself, that simply brooked no doubt of my sanity or innate goodness. This was despite the fact that she - or members of her family - had been the targets, both intended and unintended of three of the six attacks ordered by the mysterious “Boss” in Santa Fe.

The first two attacks had been about finding out where the gold I was depositing in Santa Fe was coming from. Five men died in those two attacks. When those attacks failed, the “Boss” changed his goal from finding out about the gold, to simply killing me. Forty-four men died in the next three attacks, I was wounded, and the extended Mendoza family as well as my friends had been directly involved.

The last attack had been yesterday, while Anna and I were walking alone from the church to the reception after the wedding. This time, though, we were prepared and had help. Tom Murphy, Giuseppe Gambino, along with Jorge and Juan Ortega ambushed the attackers when they opened fire on Anna and me in the street. Yolanda Ramirez (already the best sniper I’d ever worked with) and Sofia Gambino (Giuseppe’s wife) were on the roof of the Mendoza Stable, providing overwatch, just in case. Seven more men sent by ‘the Boss’ were dead when the smoke cleared.

I didn’t know how many more men ‘the Boss’ had, but I was certain that this wasn’t the last we’d hear from him.

In the meantime, Anna and I hadn’t had any time to talk about the last attack, or how she was holding up having killed her second and third man. Between the reception, dancing, ‘exploring the possibilities’ (as she called it) and sleeping; we were simply too busy. Today was going to be another busy day. We were riding to the fledgling Estancia Dos Santos, along with many others, to finally take up residence in the just completed Hacienda.

The light of early dawn bathed the room in a magical glow. Turning, I found myself looking into the bright twinkling eyes of a wide-awake Anna.

Pulling my head down to hers we shared a long kiss. “How did you sleep husband mine?” she asked while stretching.

“I slept extremely well Mrs. McAllister. How did you sleep?” I said distractedly. Her stretching immediately brought thoughts of ‘exploring other possibilities’ to the forefront of my mind.

Her response caught me off guard as I was still contemplating ‘the possibilities’. “I slept the sleep of angels, mi amor,” she replied quietly, while beaming me one of her special huge super megawatt Anna smiles.

I couldn’t resist. Bending my neck down, I gave into temptation, and we shared another long kiss.

“Mmmm. That was nice. We’d better get up, though, or we’re going to miss Tai Chi this morning,” she said reluctantly.

“Anna, I hate to break it to you, but it’s well past dawn. We’ve already missed Tai Chi. The others are probably eating breakfast already.”

“What!?” Jumping out of bed, she began frantically picking up her wedding dress and my suit. “How did we sleep so late. What will the others think?”

I wasn’t really paying attention to anything she said, as I was once again contemplating ‘exploring the possibilities’! It didn’t take her long to notice though, and she turned to face me demanding an answer.

“My love, we overslept thanks to a long day. We were married, had a gunfight, enjoyed a long day and evening of dancing, followed by one of the most pleasant experiences of my life when we closed the door late last night,” I replied gently, as I too got out of bed to pull her into a full hug and kiss her yet again. “What the others think doesn’t really matter, but they will probably think we overslept for exactly the reasons I just gave. It was our wedding night, after all.”

Blushing prettily Anna pulled my head down for another kiss. Finally breaking the kiss, her blush got even deeper. “If it’s anything like last night I’m really looking forward to ‘exploring more possibilities’, this evening.”

“Me, too!” I answered with a chuckle. “Just so you’re not surprised, we’ll probably miss tomorrow morning’s workout as well. We’ve got a long ride this morning, and the reception at the Hacienda will probably run just as long as last night’s; followed, of course, by more ‘exploring’.”

Snuggling deeper into my hug, she purred her response into my chest. “That sounds like a grand program for the day. I suppose we’ll just have to work on building up our stamina, so it doesn’t tire us out so much that we miss our morning Tai Chi.”

Another quick kiss and we broke our hug to prepare for the day. A few minutes later, rinsed off and dressed, we left the house.

Entering the restaurant, Anna waved me into the family dining room, letting me know she would bring our coffee and breakfast. It looked like that wasn’t going to change. Anna would continue to decide what we ate.

Tom, Yolanda, Giuseppe, Sofia, and Father O’Shea were in the family dining room drinking coffee, having already finished breakfast.

“Good morning everyone. We’re running a little late this morning and I apologize for that,” I said as I settled into my usual seat at the table.

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