Snowy, Snowy Nightsbysr71plt©
"And to you too, Jeremiah. Quite a snow we had up here. You look like you took the brunt of the storm right here."
"Yep. Almost two feet before it stopped. But it's meltin' off pretty good now."
"It seems to be, yes. Don't know if you heard, but for the first time in years, it didn't bury Antelope Gap on the west side. Folks over there said that, despite the snow, the pass never got shut down. Ain't that something?"
"Yep, that sure is. You take care now. And I hope you meet up with your man. But if he walked up this way into the storm, I doubt you'll be finding evidence of him before spring—and maybe not even then. Bears have gotta eat too."
Savage tipped his hat and the five riders turned and rode off.
Jeremiah waited until they were well out of sight before he gave Bran the signal that he could come out of the outhouse, where he had scurried to before Jeremiah could find out he'd been by the window.
But Jeremiah somehow had known Bran was there. "You heard?"
"Yeah, I heard everything real good," Bran said. "But I don't owe them anything down in Hayden and I'm of age. He didn't say anything about the painted pony, did he?"
"No, he didn't say anything about the painted pony. So, it looks like we fixed that up. But I meant whether you heard what he said about Antelope Gap. He's saying it's safe to go over that pass now—in fact, always was."
"But . . . if they're out there looking for me . . ."
"Maybe it's not that safe," Jeremiah quickly said. "But at night, of course." Jeremiah obviously wasn't looking for an excuse to see Bran off.
"Yeah, there's nighttime," Bran answered. They both looked at each other like they were thinking that the purpose of the night for them was something far different from riding over a mountain.
"Guess you have two choices then," Jeremiah said.
"Two choices?" Bran's heart began to beat fast.
"Yes. You can go over the mountain tonight—or you could wait and go down to my ranch with me in a couple of weeks. I've got enough food up here for two for a couple of weeks. And I got plenty of room down in the ranch house if you're interested in going in that direction rather than over the mountain. So, what are you thinking?"
"I think you know what I'm thinking," Bran said, a smile taking over his face. "But what are you thinking?"
"I'm thinking of what we could use to darken your hair. Just for a while. Just until Warren Savage stops lookin' for you."