The captain inserted himself between her and the scene. "Abby, please. Your father will have my hide, and you don't want to see this."
Abby stepped around him. "He's a savage, isn't he? What has he done?" She knew she should turn away, but she couldn't.
"He's an Apache. They took a settler's son and we want him back. The men are trying to find out where the boy is. Now please, come away."
She ignored the hand he placed on her arm. "Beating him will make him tell you?"
"We hope so."
Abby's voice threatened to disappear as she raised her gaze to his. "On whose orders? My father's?"
Rigid above a sea of blue wool, brass buttons and braid, the face she encountered no longer resembled the elegant young officer whose easy laugh had charmed her moments earlier. This man was all hard lines and grim eyes. He was her father, three decades younger.
"Mine. Now come with me. Please."
"Yours? Your orders?" A crack of the whip drew her attention back across the parade ground. Red welts streaked across the Indian's skin. "I don't understand. You…?"
The voice no longer belonged to the man Abby knew, either. "This isn't St. Louis, Abigail. I can't afford to be young and idealistic anymore. I was naïve. Both of us were."
"I was quite fond of your young, idealistic naiveté."
The Army had claimed Jim too. One by one, everyone she loved had fallen beneath the hooves of a beast that devoured souls.