Jimmy hunkered down beside the fire and reached a stick into the can to stir its contents before it could harden. Just a bit off to the North a lone coyote howled its message to the moon and Jimmy found himself nodding, understanding the deep hollow emptiness that can eat you up inside.

He'd had that in his life. He'd been that lonely, when there wasn't anyone to talk to within a mile or so and he'd been reduced to screaming down the heavens just to hear some noise.

Wrapping his handkerchief around the lip of the can, Jimmy lifted it off of the rocks in the fire and settled back into the ring of dancing light that marked his camp. He fished his spoon from his jacket pocket and scooped up a mouthful of beans, blowing on it before dropping the reheated mess in his mouth.

Slowly, as he worked through his feast of beans his mind drifted back to the bunk house, wondering what the others were doing. The watch he'd tucked away in his saddle bag had revealed a few minutes ago that it was nearly seven o'clock and most likely Teaspoon had settled onto one of the chairs on the porch and was re-reading last week's newspaper to anyone that would listen.

Emma would be in the kitchen, either cleaning up their mountain of dishes or working on something delicious for the next day. There was always laughter when she was in the kitchen, especially if Cody was tryin' to wheedle seconds from her.

His mind went through each of the riders back at the Station and the few friends they'd made in town… smiling, he admitted to himself that even though he'd only been in town a few months, things had certainly played out differently than what he'd thought when he'd signed the contract with Russell, Majors & Waddell.

Certainly more than what he'd expected that first day he'd met the others…

He had the makings of a family here, rag tag though it is; it was something real… something warm and reassuring, knowing that when he'd get his chance to ride back into the Station, they'd offer him a warm smile and a seat at the table beside them.

It was more than he'd hoped for… more than he'd known he longed for… he certainly was thankful.

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