Jesse Putnam, once a union cavalryman and now a California rancher, has no one but himself to blame when he realizes the foreman assigned to help him investigate the problems on the Southern Californian acres of a railway baroness has a face that’s all too familiar. Even on the Barbary Coast of 1869, unknown vaqueros who share Jesse’s inclinations are few and far between, and Jesse didn’t even try to resist the heated attraction between them. But he never counted on his nameless companion of the previous night turning out to be Wardley Bridger, now his colleague and fellow investigator.
Bridger, at peace with his nature in a way Jesse is not, proves to be a calm and canny companion as they travel south and start sorting through a mystery that stretches out from the dusty Pueblo of Angles into the brush-covered hills of Ranchero Los Robles. But as the ghost rider’s threat overshadows both them and the ranchers of Los Robles, can Jesse still learn that friendship might merge with his shadowed hungers to gift him with a kind of bond he has never even dared to desire?
Originally published in Under This Cowboy's Hat.