All she wanted was to grow up a rancher’s daughter, be a top hand and play her music. But, one day trouble came knocking and Riata Sampson was more than ready!
Not Your Average Girl
Riata Sampson sits cross legged with her laptop on the old double bed in the upstairs of her grandfather’s Victorian ranch house. Having just finished reading an email from the director of the Denver Symphony Orchestra formally inviting her to be the featured cellist. She closes the laptop and gets to her feet and approaches the vanity, leaning on the front of it she peers deeply into the mirror as if trying to see beyond her face, beyond the apparent.
What is apparent is that Riata is not your typical twenty-four-year-old. She is tall with an athletic build, a long blond mane she habitually wears in a single braid that hangs to her waist and eyes the color of Jade, a natural beauty. But beyond her beauty, an attribute she never paid much attention too there lies a complex girl, the complexity of which is not entirely her own doing.
The events that have brought her to this point wash over her as she stands before the vanity mirror and her eyes fill. Riata was a simple and happy girl growing up as a rancher’s daughter and the granddaughter of the fabled Grey Sampson, a man the community revered as a cowboy legend. Little did Riata know how her life would come to emulate the life of the grandfather she so loved.
The Bump in the Road
She was just eighteen, graduated high school with honors and had received a scholarship to Julliard. She was first known as the little cowgirl prodigy as a result of her obsession with a cello her Aunt had introduced her to at the tender age of seven. She had also developed the skills of an accomplished rancher and cowgirl spending every opportunity she could working and riding with her father Reese, her brother Clay and her grandfather Grey.
It was the summer before she was to leave for college when what became known as the Oxbow Incident happened. Her father Reese had been pressed into service by the county sheriff when four former miners that had lost their jobs at the mine decided they would steal the payroll and escape across the mountains, Reese was asked to guide the sheriff and his men into the mountains in pursuit.
Several days later word had made it back to town that the sheriff and Reese had been taken hostage by the four fugitives and when this reached Riata, she reacted instinctively. She quietly slipped away to the ranch, loaded her best mare in the horse trailer, grabbed her Henry rifle her grandfather had given her and her Vaquero pistol and headed for the last known location of her father.
Just Like Grey
She felt no fear in what she intended on doing, she knew that more than anyone else including her brother, she was the one that could find these men and free her father. Not only can Riata ride like the wind but she is extremely proficient with firearms and although Clay was very capable she knew in her heart of hearts that he could never pull the trigger on a man if it came to that. She spent every summer since she was twelve at mounted shooting competitions with her father and was a crack shot and although she never had to aim her gun at a person she knew with her father’s life hanging in the balance she could and she would.
So, Riata pursued these men and unknown to her Clay set out to get there first. She found them and when the time was right, she stormed their position, her horse at a gallop, her reins looped over her left forearm and rifle shouldered. When the dust settled, and the shooting stopped Riata discovered that her brother Clay had already reached the men and had been killed.
Three of the four men lay dead, her father and the sheriff saved by her in an assault that felt to them more like a military exercise than an eighteen-year-old-girl trying to desperately save her father. When word got out about what she had done her own legend emerged and eclipsed that of her grandfather’s, an unwelcomed side effect of her actions and one she took no pleasure in.
Revenge – A Dish Best Served Later
The story followed her to Julliard thanks to online gossip and when people found out that she was the killer cowgirl they treated her differently, the girls were more caddy than ever, and the guys were intimidated by her. She felt like she was living in a box she could not get out of, but in typical Sampson style she persevered. Now with school behind her and back home it had all come full circle. She no sooner got home when she received a text message telling her that the fourth man that had killed Clay and escaped was back under a different identity and working as a cowboy on a nearby ranch.
She stands there sorting through the past events and wrestling with what to do with this information. She just received the invitation of a lifetime, to be a featured cellist in an amazing symphony, she could pursue both her passions, unless.
From the moment she read the text message she felt the pull towards revenge for Clay’s death. She thinks to herself, “They already think of me as a killer.” But she knows this time it would be murder not justifiable homicide.
She understands this is one of those defining moments, a fork in the road and she is terrified what she may do. Will she give her critics and those that are jealous what they want and become a murderer, or will she stay strong and continue to forge her own unique path and find her happiness? Finally, her grip on the vanity loosens and she wipes her eyes, looking at her reflection she manages a smile and a moment of clarity. Making her way to the bed she opens the laptop and replies to the invitation, “I am honored to accept your invitation.” To be continued…