Bounty hunter Chet Johnson rides to Stand Alone, Kansas hunting outlaw Three Fingers George who brutally murdered his family. The outlaw has left, but the prostitutes hand him a child they say is his son by Angie who is dead. The baby resembles his deceased brother Luke. He cannot deny the child. Afraid to settle in one place, the prostitutes suggest he ask a woman at the edge of town to take care of the child.
Abandoned by her husband who lost her mining claim in a poker game to Three Fingers, Susan agrees to care for the child if she can join Chet in his search for Three Fingers to recover her mining claim.
As they search for the outlaw, Susan appreciates Chet's honesty and kindness, and Chet sympathizes with Susan's vulnerability. Will love overcome the fears both have and keep them together?
Angie was a different sort. The first time he met her, he knew she was out of her element, and he felt sorry for her. Her situation was desperate when her family was killed in an Indian attack. No one on the wagon train wanted to take responsibility for her. She was extra baggage they could not afford, and so he could not fault her for her taking up the sporting life. Too many young girls were left orphaned with no one to look after them. She was just getting started in the business and he was her first customer. He did not recall she had any name but Angie.
"Angie get a proper burial?" Chet asked.
"Yep. Put her right next to Ellie's brat," Vivina said. "Couple cowboys made her a casket shaped like a violin case. You know she liked music."
He didn't know.
"Picked some wildflowers for her myself and piled a few rocks at her head." Vivina, tough as old cowhide, sniffed and dabbed her eyes with a rag. "What's taking you so long, Bert?"
"Coming, coming." Bert thumped down the stairs carrying a bundle in her arms, her loose-fitting Mother Hubbard hoisted above her ankles. She gave Chet a cracked smile and thrust the bundle toward him. "Yer bastard."
Chet choked on his whiskey, coughed, and wiped his forearm across his mouth. "My what?'
"Angie's babe, the one she died for. Said he was yours."
"Impossible," Chet said. "No way knowing it's mine. She could a slept with anyone."
"Got her with kid when you was last here. Kid's spittin' image of you. Yer brown eyes, round face, yer lop-sided smile, yer sandy looking hair," Vivina said.
Chet refused to take the bundle from Bert. Picking up his hat, he headed for the door.
"What you want us to do with this kid?" Bert planted her large body in front of Chet. "Before she passed on, we promised Angie we'd look after him 'til you showed up. Now yer here. This ain't no place for a baby."
"I'm in no position to take on a kid. Why, I go where the outlaws take me. It's not my responsibility and if you got any kind of memory you know I got a mission." He skirted around Bert. She circled in front of him and thrust the bundle at him, forcing him to catch the child before he hit the floor.
The baby gurgled, squealed with delight, and thrust a tiny hand from the blanket. Chet placed the child on the bar without looking at him, removed his hat, and ran his hand through his hair. Turning his back, he hitched up his pants, stuck his thumbs in his tight fitting woolens, and headed for the door.
"I can't take care of a kid. Angie was a whore. Any cowboy visiting her could be the father. Outta' my way."
"Yer the pa," Vivina said, standing with folded arms. "Without someone to look after him, he ain't got much of a chance." She grabbed Chet's whiskey and gulped down the last of it, picked up the baby, and handed him to Chet, who had no choice but to take him.