The sun shone brightly across the Arizona sky on the sleepy little town of Four Corners. The afternoon had been warm, making the day a lazy one. It was the kind of day that made a person wanna just sit on the boardwalk with a good book and enjoy the warmth and quiet that the town had to offer. The saloons had not yet picked up in business. It was early still. By night fall, there will be music blaring from the three saloons in town. Not to mention the drunken shouting match that always ensued after a long time of drinking. But this would all come later. For now, it was quiet.
Children played together at the end of the dirt street near the school house. Josiah had just finished with the afternoon story time. Judge Travis had asked Chris and Vin to help him with some horses at his ranch. JD had once again embarked on along afternoon fishing trip with Casey. Nathan had gone to Eagle Bend to gather medical supplies. That left little for Ezra and Buck to do but to sit in front of Slim’s saloon and enjoy the day. A half empty bottle of whiskey sit between the hired guns as they contemplated life.
“Now I know I can shot a hole in that sign, right smack in the middle of that O,” stated Buck so matter of factly.
“Kind sir, if killing signs is all you have to do today, then we have definitely surpassed boredom,” Ezra said with a hearty laugh. Buck joined in. Ezra, who had been looking at Buck, now shifted his gaze toward the end of the street. Approaching the two gentleman was a coach. Ezra looked at his pocket watch. It read 1:30 p.m.. It was kind of early for the stage. It usually didn’t make in into town until around supper time.
The coach pulled up across the street to the Rochelle Hotel. As the driver was hopping off the coach, Ezra turned his attention to the other end of town, not wanting to be rude by staring. Some how he knew that Buck would not turn away now if it meant that his eyes would be gouged out.
Ezra watched as the children played, laughing and kicking a ball....
“Well, well, will you look at that,” said Buck, interrupting Ezra’s thoughts. When he returned his gaze to the carriage, what he saw made him stand up and walk over to the edge of the porch rail for a better look. A young woman, mid-twenties, had exited from the coach and was surveying the town.
“If that ain’t the most beautiful woman I have ever seen,” Buck stated wildly. Of course, Ezra knew that any woman Buck ever met is the most beautiful he had ever seen. Buck just loved woman. But Ezra had to agree with him this time. She was truly a thing of beauty. She stood facing the end of town, surveying the buildings. Her long, curly chestnut hair blew behind her. She was average height, about 5’5”, but that was the only thing that Ezra could see that was average about this one. She was statuesque in build, curving in the hips with sultry pouty lips. Now Ezra felt that he was the one unable to take his eyes off of her.
Completely absorbed in her beauty, it wasn’t until Buck hit him in the arm that he became aware of his surroundings. “Now that is beautiful,” Buck said again with a yee-haw attached. “Yes” Ezra said to himself as he watched her. “yes, she surely is.” He couldn’t get a very good look at her eyes because she had her hand nearly over them to block the sun. As her gaze turned to the saloon and the two gentleman blatantly staring at her, she removed her hand from her eyes, placed it on her hip and smiled.
Ezra felt like he had been shot in the heart. She had these big beautiful dimples, and when she smiled, it made her whole face light up. “What beauty” was all he could muster. Still smiling, she turned from the men and preceded to enter the Hotel. As Buck began to ramble about how she was looking at him and how he was going to romance her, Ezra’s thoughts drifted off. Never had a woman made such a impression on him, merely by sight. When she smiled, he knew of nothing around him but her. Buck could think what he wanted but Ezra knew the truth. She had only glanced at Buck, but she had looked at him, or rather through him was more the way he felt. He knew from that moment that everything had changed.~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~
As she stood looking at this town, she felt only curiosity. Could her brother really be here? She had looked for so long. Well, she knew one thing for sure. If he was, she would only reveal herself if and when she thought the time was right. Looking over the buildings, she could see that this town was by far no Kansas City, but she didn’t want that anymore anyways. Not while he was still out there. There were few people out in the town today. “Must be the time of day” she thought to herself as she came upon a gambling saloon. Two gentlemen were standing at the railing watching her as she was watching them.
Startled and a bit embarrassed for not observing them sooner, she smiled at the men in a shy lady like manner. “Maam,” she heard them say as they both tipped their hats to her.
She looked at the men more closely. The first one was obviously the playboy of the town. He had such a charming smile and a look in his eyes that said ”You can trust me.” She would bet a lot of money that he had used that charm to lore many young women to his bed.
She shifted her gaze to the other gentleman, and was taken aback. He was handsome in a way that she had never seen before. He had closely cut brownish hair, and a rugged jawline. His dress was that of a southern gentleman, but there was something in his eyes that said otherwise. She couldn’t tell what color they were, only that they were guarded and untrusting. But she saw something else in them. They were hiding a big wounded heart.
She had spent many years perfecting her ability to read people by their appearance, especially their eyes. With him, it was difficult. He would be a challenge, and that made him dangerous. It also made it dangerous the way her heart seemed to be racing, just from gazing into his eyes. Was it fear or was it something else? She didn’t think him to be physically dangerous, but she had a feeling that if she weren’t careful she might lose her heart to him. That, she would never do. She had vowed, years ago, to never let that happen again. She would have to watch out for him. The other she knew she could handle.
Feeling that if she didn’t break this gaze with the southern gentleman, she would stand in the same spot for days mesmerized by his beauty, she gather all her strength to turn from him and walk into the hotel. There was plenty of time to see more of the town, and its people. For now she just wanted to get cleaned up. She suspected that in a couple of hours, the evenings entertainment would begin. She wanted to be ready.
It was nearly 8pm before the people of Four Corners made their way to the gambling saloons for a good game of cards and a couple of drinks. Ezra was seated at his usual table with JD, Buck and Nathan playing a game of poker. Chris, Vin, and Josiah were sitting next to them, drinking whiskey and watching the gatherers to the saloon. Buck had taken the liberty of filling in the others as soon as they had made it back to town, only his version was a bit different from the truth.
According to him, the mysterious woman had made numerous passes at him while she stood surveying the town. Ezra never bothered to correct him, because he knew it would never do any good. All were curiously waiting to meet this mystery lady, especially Ezra. He felt as if it were a mission to get a good look at her eyes. Being a true gambler, and a good one at that, he could tell a lot about a person from their eyes. Not being able to see her eyes earlier had left him distracted all the rest of the day. Not only was it bothering him that he hadn’t gotten a good look, but he also couldn’t get her smile out of his mind.
By 9pm, Lilly way into the saloon. Ezra had been keeping a close eye on the door but had gotten distracted when he was teaching JD a card trick. It was Buck’s announcement of “That’s her” that brought Ezra’s full attention back to the saloon.
She walked up to the bar, keeping her back to the gunmen, to order a drink. Buck wanted to be the first to greet the mysterious woman, and nearly broke his neck trying to get up to her. Several other men in the saloon seemed to be attempting to gather the courage to speak to her as well but Buck got there first. Everyone knew that if Buck was sweet talking a woman, they may as well forget it. Buck was notorious for being a charmer.
She turned to look at Buck as he greeted her, and Ezra could only see her profile, but it was enough to start his heart racing again. He couldn’t remember a time when a woman had this much effect on him. He watched as she threw her head back and laughed as if Buck had just said the funniest thing in the world. She playfully pushed him, and smiled. Ezra could tell that Buck was pulling out all the stops. He couldn’t blame him. She was truly like no one he had ever seen before.
After several minutes of polite conversation, he turned back toward the tables, leading the mystery lady with him. Ezra, who again was concentrating on the cards in his hand, looked up startled when Buck returned to the table.
“I would like to introduce you to everyone,” Buck said proudly as if he were displaying a prize or something. He began with the other table. She was facing the other direction so Ezra could still only see her profile. “This is Chris Larabee, Vin Tanner, and Josiah Sanchez. And over here....”
It was just then that she turned to their table. Ezra was so startled by her shear beauty that he stood up immediately. She had the most dazzling hazel eyes he had ever seen. She was breath-taking.
“.....and this is Ezra Standish.” Without thought as to what he was doing, Ezra reached out and grabbed the hand she had offered to him and gently kissed the back of it. “It is a pleasure to meet you...., uh...what was your name again? I must have missed it.” He felt like a complete idiot, but he was powerless to stop himself. She smiled again and laughed a little. She was so breathtaking.
“My name is Lilly. It is a pleasure to meet you to Mr. Standish.” She said so refinedly with a voice that touched his skin like silk. Lilly, such a fitting name for such a beautiful creature, was Ezra’s first thought, but what came out was: “Please join us Lilly.” And she did, taking a seat next to Buck. JD sat on the other side of her.
The eight of them laughed and talked for hours about all kinds of things. She asked all kinds of questions about Four Corners and the men were more than happy to provide any information that she requested. But in return, they questioned her, especially Chris who was suspicious of everyone. It turned out that she had arrived in Four Corners, stopping only for a few days, on her way to San Francisco. She was going out there to visit family.
“Ezra, you’re quiet tonight. What gives? I can’t imagine what could shut you up,” asked JD playfully. Ezra suddenly realized that he had been rather quiet for the duration of the evening. He knew that the rest of the men would know something was up because he was never quiet. He looked up only to find Lilly silently observing him. She has this look of wonder on her face that he couldn’t quite read. The truth was she made him nervous. He didn’t know why, she just did.
“I’m not quiet Mr. Dunne. Buck is just talking too much.” Everyone laughed knowing that that was a truth. Buck was going a hundred miles a minute. He was really trying to impress Lilly, and the truth of it was she didn’t seem all that impressed. She had turned her attention back to Buck who was going on about a gun fight he had where he had taken out five men by himself, so Ezra took the opportunity to look at her more closely. You could say he was staring, but he felt helpless to do anything less.
Lilly had pulled her hair back in an upward sweep, leaving only tendrils to brush her beautiful neck. Ezra noted the tiny freckle high on her cheek, and the perfect curve of her perfect lips. Her skin looked like satin, so smooth, only slightly tanned from her travels. Her dress was an olive green color, covered with creamy lace. The bodice enhanced her neck, exposing only a hint of her generous bosom.
As Ezra stared her neck, first at her chin and continuing down to the top of her dress, he happened to notice what looked like a scar right between her bosom. It appeared to be relatively fresh. He wondered how far it went down. It looked like it was from a deep cut. Ezra turned his attention back to Lilly’s face, wondering what had really brought her to Four Corners. He didn’t exactly buy the idea of just passing through, but he wasn’t sure why.
Lilly was looking at and listening to Buck, but her mind seemed elsewhere. She seemed to be thinking about other things. He watched as she looked from each man to the next as they all added in to Buck’s story, laughing politely and smiling a dazzling smile. And when she looked at him, her smile seemed to widen before she bashfully lowered her eyes. But for a split second, Ezra could have sworn that he had seen something else other than pleasure in her eyes. For a fleeting second, they looked guarded, wounded, and fragile.~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~~*~~~~~
She had decided that it was time to make her entrance. She knew that by now everyone would surely be expecting her to make an appearance. And she had to meet the townspeople. She certainly couldn’t afford to arouse any suspicions. She began thinking about where she should go to first, but she knew in her heart that she had to go where the southern gentleman was. He peaked her curiosity. She exited the hotel lobby and made her way across the street to the saloon. She stopped briefly at the door to take a deep breath. “All right sweetheart, it’s showtime,” she said to herself wondering what this night would bring. She had to make them believe that she was just a stranger with no real interest in this town other than for a visit. She had to get them to like her, but most importantly, she had to get them to trust her.
She sauntered into the saloon and went straight to the bar for a drink. It was better that they come to her. And with the way that the two men earlier had reacted, she didn’t think that would be difficult. Immediately, the man with the devilish smile was by her side, paying for her drink and pouring on the charm. Why, what else could she do but to lay the charm on thick in return. She laughed when appropriate, she tossed her long flowing hair, she batted her eyelashes, she did all that she could and he ate it all up. His name was Buck. “Quite fitting” she thought to herself.
After a few minutes of idle chatter, he wanted to introduce her to his friends. Finally, what she had been waiting for. She needed to get to know the men because she was sure that they could help her find her brother. As he lead her to the tables, she could see the gambler among the men and her heart began to race. She smiled charmingly as he introduced her to the three men at the first table, then he turned to the other table where the gambler was. Her heart was beating a mile a minute. She had not been able to see him close up before and that had bothered her.
Now as she turned to greet the men at the second table, he stood up and their eyes locked. She felt helpless to turn away. He had bright green eyes sharp as broken glass. His eyes were cunning yet there was something so vulnerable that she thought she could get lost in them. He smiled and she felt that she would faint. He was a magnificent creature. So strong and daring, so handsome, so savvy. His name was Ezra, a name that she would never forget. He took her hand and kissed it gently. She had to fight to muffle the sign she felt rising in her chest.
She finally forced herself to look back at Buck and that broke the spell. He seemed to sense it too. So for the rest of the evening, they told her stories of adventures they had all taken, they talked of places they had been, and all the while she listened and remembered. It was important that she remember all the information that she could. She never knew what would come in handy. And although she concentrated with all her might, she couldn’t help but steal glances at Ezra.
At last it occurred to her what had bothered her about him. He too was a gambler, a con of sorts. That was why she couldn’t read him, because he knew how not to be read. But she didn’t think that he could sense it from her yet. And she knew that the yet was only a matter of time. He was good, but she had to be better. And she had to find a way to stop her heart from melting when he smiled at her. That last one would prove to be a greater challenge than any she had ever faced.
Over the next several days, Ezra watched her. He watched where she went, who she talked to, and what she did. She seemed to like to talk. She talked to everyone, the townspeople, Mary, the other six men, even Billy. Billy seemed especially taken with her.Chapter 4
Partly he watched because he was curious, but there was more to it. He felt that there was something she was not telling them. There was something more to her being in Four Corners than just for a mere visit. But what, he had no idea.
One afternoon, as Ezra had taken up his usual post in front of the saloon, he saw her leave her hotel and head for the end of the street where the kids were playing ball. As she approached the children, they stopped their game and ran over to where Lilly stood. She talked with them for a few minutes and then took the ball from Billy's hands. What she did next surprised Ezra. She kicked it. As the ball soared through the air, the children chased after it, Lilly following close behind. Ezra watched, surprised by this youthful exhibition.
It was actually quite a glorious site. She ran around and laughed with the children as they continued their game of ball. Ezra was compelled to watch them play, hypnotized by her beauty. As she turned around to chase after the ball, her hair blew behind her. Her eyes sparkled, and she laughed.
Eventually JD and Buck joined in the game. Buck thought it cute to play keep away from the children, but Lilly and JD seemed to have other plans. With the help on the children, they tackled Buck and appeared to be tickling him. They seemed to be having a great time. Even Ezra, watching from a far, couldn’t help but laugh. She just seemed to bring the best out of people.
Ezra watched as Buck grabbed Lilly by the waist, from behind, and spun her around. Lilly just laughed and elbowed him in the stomach, before turning her attention back to JD and the children. Ezra thought to himself that it must be the first time, since he had known Buck, that Buck seemed unable to romance a woman.
He had laid the charm on very thick but Lilly didn’t seem to be affected by it. She, of course, politely laughs at his stories and listens to his tales, but she seemed to look at him only as a friend or a brother. In fact, she seemed to look at all the gunmen that way. He was puzzled by this idea. She was an attractive woman, intelligent, funny, caring, and yet she had no ring on her finger. She never talked of a husband, but then she rarely talked about herself at all.
Since she had come to town, he had tried his best to not be alone with her. He talked with her, but only with someone else there or as a group. He was certain that it was silly for him to do that, but he was afraid of the feelings that being too close to her brought out. To be able to touch her beautiful curls, to smell her perfume, to gaze closely into her eyes.....He wouldn’t risk being hurt again. He was a gambler because that way he could protect himself. He would be vulnerable if he didn’t, and that just wouldn't do.~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~~*~~~~~~*~~~~~
More than two weeks had gone by and everyday Lilly was becoming more and more like a resident of Four Corners. She helped Mary at the newspaper, she helped out with the children at the school house, she helped Nathan with his healing, there didn’t seem to be anything that she couldn’t do.
She could even play poker, although she always had to be somewhere else when Ezra wanted to join the game. He was beginning to think that she didn’t like him. She seemed so personable with the others, but seemed to keep a distance from him. He knew that he was doing the same and figured that she must have noticed it too.
“Hi Ezra” he heard from just over his left shoulder. He had been learning against a porch post, and watching the sun go down. He turned quickly to see who it was, although from the sweet voice he heard, he already knew. In his haste to turn around, he misjudged the post brace and smacked his head right into it.
Immediately his hands went to his forehead where he had hit the beam. He felt pain shooting through his skull. As he rubbed the spot, trying to make the pain subside, he felt hands as soft as silk place themselves over his. He could smell her. She smelled like jasmine. He opened his eyes and found himself only inches away from Lilly.
“Oh my god, are you okay?” she said trying not to laugh. Their faces only 5 inches apart. If he wanted to, he could reach out and kiss her beautiful full lips, but he pulled away. He had to fight the desire. Instead he chose to get mad. “It’s not funny” he shouted, still rubbing his head.
“Oh, I know Ezra, I’m sorry. I’m not laughing at you. It is just that....” she tried to finish, but the giggles were coming out. Again, she advanced toward him, wanting to rub his head. But he pulled away. “Ezra please...” she said as he stormed off. “Are you sure you are okay?” But he didn’t answer, he couldn’t answer. The only thing he could do was remember her face and the smell of jasmine.~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~
She had been coming out of the newspaper office after helping Mary with a layout when she noticed Ezra standing at the end of the porch. It was time to gain his trust. She thought she could do it. She had avoided him for too long. People would get suspicious if she kept trying to avoid him. She had been trying to learn to control the emotions that surfaced whenever she was around him and she thought she may have finally gotten a grip on them.
Approaching from behind, she didn’t realize that he was deep in thought. When she said hi to him, she startled him terribly. He reeled around and caught his head on the post brace. Feeling terribly guilty for causing him to hit his head, she went to him to try to provide some comfort. He had hit it hard, and it looked like it hurt. But it was also quite comical the way it looked from her angle. He spun like a top around so fast that he couldn’t have stopped even if he had wanted to.
Trying to get close to him, and trying not to laugh, she grabbed his hands and tried to rub the spot where he hit. He stumbled back a little bit and in that moment pulled her forward at the same time. Feeling her hands, he opened his eyes and stared straight into her soul. She could feel his chest against her and could see his lips waiting and wanting to be kissed.
Before she knew what happened, he was walking off. She tried to reassure him that she was sorry, and that she wasn’t laughing at him, but he wouldn’t hear of it. “Ego's bruise so easily,” she thought to herself as he walked away.
But in that moment that they were face to face, she felt it. She felt that ache of desire building inside her. She felt the longing to hold him, to kiss him. She hadn’t felt these feelings for so long that she wasn’t sure anymore how to combat them. She wasn’t even sure that she wanted to.
The next couple of days in Four Corners were rainy and drab. After the incident on the porch, Ezra had made sure to avoid Lilly like a plague. Lilly had noticed Ezra’s withdrawal. She was hurt by it, but decided that it was probably for the best. Instead she began spending more time with the others, especially JD. They seemed to have a connection to each other that neither one of them could even see. But Ezra could see it. That was something he would have to keep an eye on. JD was old enough to take care of himself, but Ezra still thought of him as a good friend, perhaps as a kid brother. He wanted to protect him. They all seemed to want to protect him. Ezra believed that it was because he was so young and all alone. He was impressionable and looked up to the rest of them.Chapter 5
This new found friendship with the men in Four Corners was hard for Ezra to get used to. He had never really been one to depend on people, let alone trust them. But he often found himself risking his neck for these six men that he called friends. What was more important was that they called him a friend. Having been pulled around to various scams by his mother left little time for Ezra to really develop a sense of trust. And most definitely not a sense of loyalty, but this was something he felt in this quiet town. He thought to himself how strange....
“Hey Ezra, we been volunteered to help the women set up for the bonfire supper tonight.” Ezra nearly jumped out of his skin. He has been so deep in thought that he hadn’t even noticed that JD was standing beside him. JD noticed his jump and doubled over with laughter.
“Sorry, Ez, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Of course you didn’t. What’s this about a bonfire?” Ezra asked trying to divert JD’s attention off the fact that he nearly scared him to death. While JD went on about the town wanting to have a bonfire celebration because the rain had finally stopped, Ezra’s mind drifted. He was disturbed with the fact that JD had been able to take him so completely be surprise. That was highly unusual for Ezra. He has always been very alert so that he knew what was going on down the block without even checking.
“I must be getting old” Ezra mumbled to himself.
“What?” JD said, looking puzzled. “You okay?”
“Why of course young man. Never better. I would be delighted to help with the festivities.” Ezra said, shaking off the self-doubt completely.
“Good. I’ll come get you before dusk.” And off he strode, presumably to go find Casey. It seemed to Ezra that everyday JD was getting more and more attached to her. No sooner had Ezra completed his thought when Casey and Lilly came out of the Mercantile store down the street. They were giggling like school girls, and Ezra felt his heart sink when he saw Lilly.
She was such a beauty. Her hair was pulled back in a braid that lie on her shoulder. She wore a tan tailored shirt that made her skin looked bronzed by the sun. Her cheeks were brushed with a soft red that made her look like so young and vibrant. She and Casey were crossing the street, and heading right for him.
Casey noticed Ezra first. She smiled at him, and waved. Lilly was looking at the package in her hands.
“Hi Ezra.” Lilly must not have realized that Ezra was there because when Casey said hi, she looked up obviously startled. She was good though. She quickly gathered her senses and politely smiled. Ezra realized he had been holding his breath and let it out in a force. “Okay Ezra” he said to himself, “Time to be charming.”
“Good afternoon ladies. May I say that you all are looking especially lovely” he said with his most winning smile. Casey, being the young girl she is, just giggled and blushed a little. But Lilly, again he noted her control.
“Why Ezra, thank you. You are looking quite dapper yourself” and she flashed a smile that instantly melted his heart. She had got him again. As she walked past him, he had the desperate urge to reach out and touch the long curls in her hair.
Turning to look at him, Casey asked “Are you going to come to the bonfire tonight, aren’t ya Ezra?” This stopped Lilly in her tracks. He could see that she was looking at him out of the corner of her eye.
“Why, I wouldn’t miss it for the world” he said so very boldly. For one moment he saw excitement in Lilly’s face, but she caught it quickly and regain her calm demeanor. He stood watching them as they walked away. Once they had turned the corner, he sat back down. Immediately he smelled that faint odor of jasmine and thought of her. Again, he felt his heart ache.
Lilly stood looking at herself in the mirror, her scar seemed more prominent than ever. She hated to look at it, but the dress she had wanted to wear to the campfire was too low cut and the scar was visible, just barely but still visible. After talking with Ezra, she had gone to Casey’s to help her get ready for the festivities and to give her some pointers on how to be coy for JD. She then came back to the hotel to get ready herself. She wanted to look magnificent for tonight. Everyone would be there and she had an image to keep. But she could only stand there, looking in the mirror at what he had done to her. She ran her finger along the fourteen inch scar and horrible memories flooded her, bringing tears to her eyes. The scar began at the base of her cleavage and ran to her belly button. It looked raw and purple and ugly. Quickly closing her slip, she tried to wipe away the memories of Ben Mosely. “Damn Him” she cursed to herself. “Damn him to hell.”
And if she could have, she surly would. Instead she only succeeded in sending him to prison for three years. But he had gotten out a year ago, and had vowed that she would pay. And she knew he would find her sooner or later. He had done it before. That is why she was so desperate to find her brother. She felt she just had to find him before she died, or before he killed her which was more likely going to be the case.
Jonathan was out there, but she just didn’t know where. She had come to Four Corners on a bit of information that she was able to obtain in Missouri. But she had befriended and carefully questioned almost everyone in town but found nothing. Her head told her that she should move on. She had been there too long as it was. He was liable to catch up with her eventually. But her heart told her otherwise.
The truth was that she liked it in Four Corners. The people had taken an instant liking to her, and she to them. She felt like she finally had some friends, something she wasn’t used to. These people seemed to want her around, to ask her advice, to confide in her. She felt like she was finally home. And then there’s that gambler, the one that made her giggle like a school girl. He made her heart race and her knees weak. He was so nice and sweet and handsome that it scared her. She wanted him so bad but she was so afraid of getting close to someone, especially since she knew that she was going to die.
The fact that she liked the town was another reason why she should leave because if Ben found her here, he would likely hurt them too. He had changed so much from when she first met him when she was a girl. He was evil and with him always came no good.
Unconsciously she turned her attention back to the mirror, and was running her finger along her scar again. The images of that night in the small village in Colorado came flooding back to her all at once. She couldn’t help but cry out in pain.
She knew from the moment she left her hotel that evening that something bad was in the air. She had been talking to a couple of men in the village about her brother. They had nothing for her that she didn’t already know so she headed back to her room. She was crossing through the alleyway to return to her hotel when he grabbed her. At that moment she was sure she would die. But he had made one fatal mistake. He was too loud.
He held her in the alleyway and cursed her for ever being born. He ranted and raved while hell danced in his eyes. Hate and rage had consumed him to the point that he wasn’t even Ben anymore. Not the Ben she had once loved with all her heart. Not the Ben that she had planned to spend the rest of her life with, to have children with. It wasn’t her Ben anymore.
He hadn’t been that same Ben for many years. She couldn’t help but think about the old Ben and the love they had once shared as this possessed demon continued to spit hell fire in her face.
At first, his change was so slight that she almost didn’t notice it. Then it seemed to snowball to include crazed outbursts for know reason at all. He had become an alcoholic, and allied himself with horrible men. Men with no character or morals. Thieves, murders, liars....he knew them all. Of course she had tried to get away, but you don’t get away from Ben Mosely so easy. She still believed that in that horrible monster somewhere was the man she had loved and trusted for some many years.
When he told her about the bank robbery that he and his cohorts were going to pull, she realized he was lost to her forever. But she still loved him, and didn’t want him to get hurt. After much thought, she realized that the only way to protect him was to inform the authorities so they could be ready for them. She believed that at the time it was the best thing for her to do, and she still did. Unfortunately Ben didn’t see it that way.
He saw it as betrayal, and no one ever betrayed him and lived to tell about it. He sent her letter upon letter from prison about how he was going to kill her, the things he would do to her and to her family. This went on for three years, three long years. The letters were vicious and cruel, but she believed them and that was probably why she was still alive today. She left town before his release and went in search of her brother. She knew she couldn’t hid from Ben forever. He would find her, and she would die. She had accepted that.
But at that moment, terror raced through her veins as he held her in the alleyway yelling and screaming. She wasn’t ready to die yet. She still hadn’t found her brother. Fortunately for her, he was so out of control and so loud that he had gotten the attention of some patrons at the saloon right around the corner. As he continued to scream and hit her, they both heard someone yelling from the opening of the alleyway.
“What’s going on done there? Do you need help miss?” said a large dark shadow, his hands resting on the holstered guns in his belt. Having seen a bit of salvation in this man, she screamed for help. At that same moment that she screamed, she felt the hot blade of Ben’s boot knife pierce her chest. She turned to look at him and saw him laughing madly. He proceeded to drag the knife all the way down her stomach before running away. The only thought in her head was that he was trying to gut her like a fish.
“That is to remember that I will find you where ever you go.” he said and then disappeared into the night. He hadn’t stuck the knife in far enough to kill her, but it went deep. Blood gushed from her wound as she fell to the ground. She could hear the men running toward her, or was it Ben? Had he decided to finish her after all? As she wiggled around trying to gain focus in her eyes to see who was approaching, she blacked out.
When she came to, she was in a hotel room with a healer. Her face was bruised and her chest felt like it was on fire, but she was alive. For now at least. Thinking back on it over the last several months, her only explanation for him letting her live was because he wouldn’t have been able to watch her die. She was certain that when he killed her, it would be slow and he would happily watch every second of it until she took her last breath.
Wiping the tears from her eyes, she again closed her slip and began to dress. The festivities would be getting under way soon and she still had to clean herself up. Looking back through her dresses, she finally found one that mostly covered the beginning of the scar.
“That will just have to do” she said to herself, tired from reliving that horrible night. “I have been able to hid it up till now.” She had so far. She wasn’t sure if she would be able to handle any questions about it. And that would be suspicious.
It was early evening when the townspeople began to gathered in the clearing by the church. Ezra and JD had been there since dusk helping Mary and the others set up tables and stuff. It looked great. There was food and drink, a fiddler and Josiah with his spoons, there were children playing games and adults talking about God only knew what. Chris and Vin sat by each other, not really talking but rather watching. Sometimes Ezra wondered how they could stand so much silence. Silence sometimes made him nervous.
JD and Casey were sitting by themselves, laughing and having a good time. Ezra watched as Casey flipped her hair, much like Lilly does, and playfully pushed JD, also much like Lilly does. “She is a quick learn” Ezra thought to himself. Thinking about Lilly made him wonder where she was. He wandered among the gathers to see if maybe she had arrived but he had just missed her, although he didn’t know how he could have. She was hard to miss. Walking by the bonfire, surveying the people, he also realized that Buck wasn’t here either. This made him worry.
“What if he finally got to her” he thought. Buck was persistent, and she was beautiful, but he couldn’t believe that. He knew how he felt around her and he thought she felt it too. He just had to be patient. He knew she would arrive soon.
The evening really turned out to be beautiful. It was still warm from the heat of the day, but a gentle breeze had blown in. The sky was full of stars, scattered across the whole sky. The moon was full, in its grandest form, and shined down brightly on the town illuminating everything in its path.
Ezra stood at the far end of the gathering, leaning against a table. He turned his face to the sky, amazed at all the stars out tonight. the breeze began to blow, and Ezra closes his eyes, letting it gently caress his face. In his mind, it was Lilly who caressed his face with a lovers touch, so soft and gentle. He took a deep breath, opening his eyes slowly. “If only she were.....”
It was then that he saw her approaching the gathering. She was breath-taking. She wore a peach colored sleeveless dress that seemed to bring out the color in her cheeks and the sparkle in her eyes. She had a big white flower in her hair, and her curls feel freely around her face framing a playful smile.
Next to her was Buck, all spit polished and in perfect form. She had a hold of his arm, and he had his hand on hers. “How did he managed that?” Ezra thought curiously. However Buck had done it, he sure was pleased with himself. He had a smile on his face from ear to ear. Lilly was scanning the gathers to see who had already arrived. She waved at Casey as her and JD waved first.
Nathan and Josiah walked over to joined Buck and Lilly at the outskirts of the clearing. All engaged in a conversation except Lilly. She seemed to be looking for someone. Ezra watched as she squinted her eyes, looking from one person to the next until she happened upon him. As they eyes met, a gorgeous smile over took Lilly’s face. Noticing him looking at her, she half nodded her head and half curtsied, and oddly enough it looked so graceful to Ezra.
All four of them made their way through the crowd to Chris and Vin. Watching them, Ezra realized that if he didn’t stop trying to avoid her so much, people were going to begin to wonder. He needed to keep himself close in the company of his friends, even if that meant being so close to her. He walked over to where they were all sitting and joined in on the discussion.~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~
She was just about ready to leave when she heard a knock at her door. Instantly terror filled her heart. “No, he wouldn’t knock first” she tried to reassure herself. That wasn’t Ben’s style.
“Who is it?” she said trying to clear her voice of any fear.
“It’s me Lilly, Buck.”
Laughing to herself, she opened the door. “Why Buck Wilmington, what can I do for you?” as soon as it left her mouth, she realized how loaded that question was. Buck began to laugh as she quickly back-pedaled the question. “I mean to what do I owe this privilege?” That was a little better, she thought.
Buck stood before her, a boyish grin on his face. “Why Miss Lilly, I would like to ask you something?” He kind of shuffled his feet as he shifted his position.
“What is it Buck?” she said pretty certain that she already knew the answer to her own question, but he looked so cute that she wanted him to continue. Buck looked at the floor then back at her. Revealing a lovely white flower from behind his back, “I would be honored if you would accompany me to the festivities this evening.” He was even bowing in front of her as he asked this of her. “How precious is that” she thought to herself.
She took the flower from his hand, and smelled it. She loved flowers, all kinds of flowers. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had given her a flower. Accepting the gift, she placed it in her hair. She stepped forward and, standing on her tip toes, still had to pull Buck down to her so that she could give him a kiss on the cheek. She pulled back, and smiled “I would love to.”
Buck was stunned by her kiss, immediately bringing his hand up to the spot on his cheek. He smiled his usual charming grin, raising one eyebrow to her. Obviously pleased, he let her know with a big yahoo.
Laughing, Lilly closed the door to her room. She has a good feeling about tonight. It had been a long time since she had been to any kind of social event. She was sure that it would go smoothly. Boy, was she wrong.
As they approached the gathering, she couldn’t help but look for the gambler. She had wanted to apologize to him again for laughing when he hit his head. He had been avoiding her as of late, and she didn’t want him to have any bad feelings toward her. She really didn’t think that was the case but “it couldn’t hurt to make sure” was the way she looked at it. Waving to Casey and JD, she continued to scan the crowd until she came across him standing away from the others, all by himself.
He looked so handsome standing there by the fire. He was wearing a brilliant green vest that seemed to light his eyes. He had taken his hat off and simply brushed his hair back. The wind didn’t seem to want to let it be because it ever so softly blew his hair toward his eyes. She almost couldn’t help the urge to want to go to him and run her fingers through it to put it all back into place. She did her best curtsy and gave him her most brilliant smile before the others began pulling her toward the gathering, and over to where Chris and Vin were seated.
It wasn’t long before Ezra also came over to join them. “Ezra, I really am sorry about causing you to hit your head?” she said as he pulled up a chair across from her. Everyone turned to look at Ezra.
“Now just what were you doing to cause him to hit his head” Buck said very slyly, trying to insinuate something more. The others laughed, but Ezra only looked puzzled. “The day on the porch in front of the Clarion,” she said trying to jog his memory.
Suddenly realization hit him and he blushed a little bit. “Think nothing of it my dear. Just a bruised ego.” he said smiling at her. She didn’t know if she would be able to restrain herself for much longer.
With that said, the subject was changed. The talking went on for hours. They laughed and had a great time. Drinks were brought to them, and food was served. She couldn’t remember when she had so much fun. Ezra was very quick-witted which made for many laughs. She liked that. She liked him and she liked to see him smile.
As they were discussing yet another of Buck’s most daring adventures, the fiddler began to play. Immediately Josiah joined in playing his spoons. They were both quite good. Everyone began to clap with the music. Lilly was standing with Casey enjoying the music when Buck started wildly turning in circles, doing what he fancied as dancing. They couldn’t help but laugh. In fact everyone was laughing. Buck, being the attention grabber that he was, ate it up.
Before she realized what was happening, Buck had grabbed Lilly by the hand and had pulled her right into his dance. He put his hand in the small of her back, still holding her other one and danced her around the fire. It was so fun that she couldn’t stop laughing. Before she knew what had happened, she had been passed off to Nathan who continued to twirl her around the fire. He was good. He spun her around and pulled her right back into his arms. He too passed her on, only this time it was Vin.
Looking around at the others, she noticed that she was not the only captive, Mary, Casey, and Sylvia from the hotel owner, among others, had also been ambushed and sucked into this dance. From Vin, she was passed to Chris. He also twirled and dipped and led her around the fire. Looking at Chris made her really laugh with glee. She hadn’t really seen him laugh or smile that much since she had been in town. It was a beautiful sight. He had a great smile.
JD grabbed her next. He was really funny to her because he was young and not quite that coordinated when it came to dancing. He tried though, and that filled her heart with love for the boy. He was so sweet, but he just went too fast. He spun her around and let her go. Feeling completely out of balance and fearing she would fall, she grabbed the first person she could get a hold of.
Laughing wildly, she landed right into someone’s arms. Looking up to see what unfortunate soul she had collided with brought her face to face with Ezra. He had been the one who had caught her. Only inches from his sweet lips, she looked straight into his eyes. Her heart wept with joy. She never knew that life could be so sweet yet so cruel at the same time.
Her arms had caught his neck and were still wrapped around it. He had caught her by the waist and now she could feel him sliding his hands to the small of her back. She could feel his chest against hers, his breath on her face, his eyes probing her soul. She felt his hand slid up her back until it was in her hair. Unable to withstand any longer, he drew her to him and kissed her as she had never been kissed before. His lips were soft yet strong at the same time. She felt their hearts beat as one, she felt love like none that she had ever known before, she felt passion that burned her soul....she also felt terror.
She pulled away from him so quickly that he almost fell forward. She wanted him so bad, and yet she turned away. Unable to comprehend what was happening, he only stared at her as she ran off. After a few seconds, she heard him calling after her. “Please, please” she thought “just let me go.”
Half way to her hotel, in the middle of the street, Ezra was finally able to catch up with her. “Please stop Lilly. Talk to me. I don’t understand what is going on,” he said as he grabbed her by the arm. She turned to look at him and began to cry. She wanted him so bad. She wanted to love him and to comfort him. He looked so confused. She wanted to tell him everything, everything about Ben, everything about her brother. She wanted him to hold her, and kiss her and to tell her that everything would be all right. But she knew that she had to protect him.
He put his hand to her face to brush away the tears. She caught his hand and kissed the inside of his palm. Rubbing his hand against her cheek, she stared dreamily into his eyes. “If only you could understand” she said as she kissed his hand again.
“Tell me what it is and I will understand. You can tell me anything. I can’t help you if you won’t tell me what is going on.” He pleaded with her. He put his arm around her waist again, drawing her to him. He gently kissed the tear that was on her cheek, then he kissed her forehead. “Please, let me help.” Looking into his eyes, she leaned to him and again kissed his lips. It was so passionate, so powerful and....
She had to get away. She had to think about his safety. “Please Ezra...” she said as she pulled away. “You can’t help.” And with that she turned her back, and started walking up the street. She couldn’t look back at him. She knew that if she did, she would run right back to his arms. He called after her though, but she ignored it. There was such sorrow in his voice that she began to cry.
She turned the corner to head back to her hotel. She had to leave first thing in the morning. Things had gone too far. She loved him and that was dangerous. If she got too comfort.....
Pain shot through her head like a bullet fired from a gun. She had been hit in the back of the head with such force that she flew forward and hit the ground with a thud. She drew her hands into her hair, rubbing the spot that had received the blow. She tried to roll over, but her vision was so blurred that she didn’t want to move. Trying to clear her mind and shake off the blurriness, she heard that all too familiar laugh, the one that haunted her dreams, the one that lived in her nightmares. It was Ben and she was going to die.~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~
JD had been watching as Ezra and Lilly had run off. He wasn’t exactly sure what had happened but he thought it best that he stay out of it. He sat there for a few minutes longer while this nagging feeling tugged at the pit of his stomach. Something wasn’t right. While he sat there trying to figure out what that feeling was, he saw Ezra return to the gathering, alone and upset. “I’ll be back in a minute” he told Casey as he made his way through the crowd. Ezra had turned to get out of the way so that he wouldn’t have to talk to JD now. But that was okay. He wasn’t interested so much in Ezra as he was Lilly. Something was wrong with her. He felt it, and that instinct had never let him down before.
He walked over to the main street of town, and headed for the hotel. As he was walking, he heard an awful, hateful voice cursing madly. He reached for his gun, and realized that he had left it back at the campfire. “Shit” he thought as he remembered that he had taken it off when they were dancing. He hadn’t wanted it to get caught on anything. Now he felt uneasy. He didn’t like this at all. He knew he should go get the others, but he wanted to make sure that the situation warranted it first.
As he approached the side street that lead to the hotel, he saw Lilly falling backwards. He watched as she was able to turn her body just in time to land on her hands and knees instead of her butt. “What in the hell is she doing?” he asked himself as he ran to her. Falling to his knees to see if she was okay, he heard the click of the gun from behind him. He turned his attention to the noise, only to see four men standing there. Three had guns drawn on him, only one ready to fire.
He looked back at Lilly, and saw she had blood running out of the corner of her mouth. “Please listen to me” she whispered, almost mouthing the words. “Get Chris and the others.” Amazingly she sounded really calm to him. “Or else, I am going to die!!!” She looked him right in the eye and JD could see just how serious the situation was. She has a dark bruise on the left side of her face, and finger prints on her neck. “Jump up and run. He doesn’t care about you. And don’t look back, no matter what I say.” Her voice was both pleading and urgent.
“Get out of here boy or else you gonna get hurt.” Ben said laughing. Ben wasn’t the one that JD paid much attention to. It was the others. They just stood there holding their guns on him, no smile or nothing. There was also something about their eyes. To JD, they all looked like killers. JD hated to leave her, but he knew he had to get the others. The situation definitely warranted it. He didn’t think he could handle this one alone, mostly because he didn’t want to risk Lilly. If he tried, he thought they would surely kill her. “No problem,” he said as he jumped up.
“Wait. Don’t leave me,” Lilly cried. He could hear that man laughing again. “You’re all alone whore, now get up.” JD took one last look before he got to the clearing, just as the man was pulling Lilly up off the ground by her hair. “Shit” he said as he ran back to the others.
“Everybody, we got trouble,” JD said as he ran over to where the others were sitting. “Chris, Vin, we got to help Lilly. Come on.”
“JD, stop. What are you talking about?” said Ezra, obviously concerned. JD could tell that everyone else had been feeling that uneasy feeling that something was wrong before he even got there. Vin and Buck automatically went for their guns.
“She’s down by the hotel. There is a couple of guys there, and one of them is roughing her up pretty bad. He seems to know her.” JD said as he turned to go back for her. He felt someone grab his arm. He turned. It was Chris.
“JD, how many?” He could tell that Chris was looking for a plan.
“Four, the one beating up on Lilly and three others. The others are the ones I am worried about. They looked like bad news.” JD said, but this time he was off and the others were behind him.
“JD, wait. You and Buck go around this way and come up from behind them. Vin get up on the roofs and see what kind of shot you can get. The rest of you come with me. We will just have to go straight in this one. I don’t think we can afford to waste any more time.” Chris said with authority, and they listened.~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~
As they approached the hotel, they could see Lilly doubled over on the ground. A burley man had just kicked her in the stomach, and with a great deal of force. “Aauughh” escaped her lips as the boot appeared to have made contact with her ribs. “You son of a bitch” Ezra shouted and pulled his gun from his holster. Hearing Ezra’s voice startled the man into realizing that the gunmen were approaching.
Before anyone knew what was happening, the man reached down and grabbed Lilly by the throat. He hauled her up in front of him, using her as a shield. “Ben, no.” she cried as he pulled a huge knife from his belt, and held it to her throat. Ezra shifted his gaze from the man to Lilly and he felt rage boil up inside him. Her face was bruised and blood was trickling from her mouth. She was coughing threw broken sobs from the force of the kick she had sustained.
“Hold up. Now hold up.” Chris said as he pushed the barrel of the gun Ezra was holding toward the ground. The three men that had been watching the assault now drew their rifles, and were aiming them at Chris and the others. “Now wait a minute. No one needs to get hurt. Why don’t you just let her go?” Chris said, trying to calm the situation down a bit and reason with the man.
Again, Ben was laughing. Chris was certain that he had to be mad. “What do you care what I do with this whore. We’re old friends. Ain’t that right Lilly girl?” He rubbed his chin against the side of her face as he eyed Chris and the others. “So which one is it Lilly? Which one you whoring with? Which one of them got your filthy legs wrapped around um?” His gazed shifted from Chris to JD to Josiah and then to Ezra.
“Well, sweetheart?” he said turning his attention to Lilly. Laughing madly, he licked the side of her face, starting at her chin and going all the way up to her hair. She tried to pull away, but he only pulled the knife closer to her throat. Ezra couldn’t stand it any longer. He started to lunge forward when Chris grabbed a hold of him. “Ezra, no.”
“Aha” said Ben, shifting his mad gaze toward Ezra. “so that’s him then. That your new love Lilly? You think he is going to protect you whore? So hero,” he said looking Ezra with hate filled eyes, “did she show you the present I gave her?”
His eyes regarded Ezra closely as he pulled the top of Lilly’s bodice open to reveal a grizzly scar that seemed to run the length of her chest. “Pretty, isn’t it?” he said tracing the scar with the tip of the knife blade. Lilly could see the look of shock and disgust on the faces of the men before her. She hadn’t wanted them to find out this way. She clawed at her top, trying to close, but Ben just knocked her hands out of the way.
“But that is only the beginning of what I am going to do to you, and in front of all your new friends. How fitting” Ben said as he raised his knife out in front of Lilly, the blade aimed right at her heart. Turning his attention back to Ezra, “you want her heart, gunmen? I’ll get it for you.” Just as he was bringing the knife down to her chest, a bullet hit him in the hand, knocking the knife out of his grip.
Not knowing where it came from, everyone ran for cover. Some dove behind barrels or the watering trough, some turned over tables for cover while others ran for the wagon. Just then Buck and JD came riding up from behind Ben. Jumping off their horses they sought cover as the gun battle ensued.
Ezra was trying to find a way to get to Lilly, but just couldn’t see how to do it. Ben was across the street from where Ezra was standing. He had Lilly right in front of him as a shield. Ben turned his attention to the riders, and as he did, Ezra watched as Lilly elbowed him in the face. Ben cried out in pain and drew his hands to his nose which was already gushing blood. Taking advantage of the moment, Lilly got to her feet as fast as she could and ran for the street. Seeing her stumble, obviously hurt, Ezra ran to her. He had to help her get to safety.
Ezra caught her right in the middle of the street, just as she was falling. He ducked down to scoop her up as a bullet whizzed past his head. She grabbed a hold of his neck and he carried her behind the wagon. Satisfied she was safe, he turned his attention back to Ben, only he wasn’t there anymore. Baffled, Ezra scanned the area where he had been, and caught sight of him just as he was making his way to the alley. Ezra headed after him, but was forced to jump back due to a new surge of gunfire aimed at him.
Fighting continued for a few more minutes. Finally, it was Vin, from the roof, that was able to take out the last shooter. Three were dead, but Ben was gone.
“Where the hell did he go?” shouted JD as he scanned the far ends of the street. “He can’t just disappear.”
“He ducked out the alley,” said Buck who was looking around for Ezra and Lilly.
“Well, let’s go get him.” said JD as he made his way over to his horse.
“Wait a minute now. It was dark, and there were too many places that he could use for cover in the outer areas of Four Corners. You know that. We will wait until morning to scout the area.” said Chris, trying to get JD to calm down. “What we need is to make sure Lilly is okay. Anybody know where she is?” Chris looked to Vin to see if he knew where either Lilly or Ezra were. Vin motioned to Chris that they were by the wagon. All the men turned and headed over to check on her.
Realizing that he would have to let Ben go this time, Ezra turned his attention to Lilly. She laid slumped over on the ground, clutching her ribs and sobbing softly. Ezra kneeled down on the ground beside her and picked her up into his arms. As he put his arm around her back, he ripped dress fell open, again revealing the grizzly scar. Ezra pulled her dress shut. He sat there, on the ground, and rocked her back and forth while she cried. Holding her in his arms, he stroked her hair. “Shhhhhh” he said softly. He let her cry for a few minutes more, just stroking her hair and rocking her gently. “Are you okay?” he asked, pulling away a little so that he could look at her face.
Afraid he was going to let her go, she tightened her grip on him, and pulled him closer. “No, please, don’t let me go,” she begged.
“It’s okay, I’m not going anywhere without you,” he said as he kissed her forehead, trying to comfort her. “That man is gone now. You are safe,” but was she? Ezra thought to himself. He had seen the look in the man’s eyes. He had meant business. He was just so thankful that they had gotten there when they did.
Chris and the others were gathering around Lilly. Hell, half the town had come to see what had happened. Noticing this, Ezra said, ”I don’t think we should keep her here in the street.” He made a gesture with his head to the people that were gathering. Realizing that he was right, Chris told him to take Lilly back to her room at the hotel. Ezra knew that Chris would want some answers as soon as she got herself under control. He did too, but the first thing he wanted was to make sure she was all right.
“Ezra, I really need to check her out and make sure she is okay.” Nathan was looking at Ezra with great concern. He too had witnessed the brutality that this man had unleashed on Lilly.
“Okay, lets take her back to her room.” Ezra put his arm underneath Lilly and picked her up. Instantly she turned her head to Ezra’s neck. She had tightened her grip again as well. “Please don’t leave me” she whispered barely audible, but he had heard her. He knew that she needed him now more than ever, and he was glad to be needed.
By the time they had gotten her back to her hotel room, she was more in control. She was sitting on the bed with Ezra right beside her, holding her hand. Nathan was standing in front of her, looking at her with concern as the others made their way into her room.
“Lilly, I need to get....” Chris had started to say when Nathan interrupted.
“Chris please, let me look at her first, make sure she is all right. Then you can get your answers, okay.” Lilly had her head in her hands.
“I owe you all an explanation.” she said looking up to meet Chris’s gaze. “And you will get it, all of it.” With that, she winced in pain, her hand immediately drawn up to her side.
“Ah hell, I need me a drink” said Buck, noticing that they really should leave so that Nathan could examine her. “What say we all go to the saloon and get a drink. Nathan can come get us when he’s done. That okay with you Lilly?”
Looking up at Buck with a painful smile, “Bring me back a drink, will ya? Hell, bring me back a bottle. It’s a long story.” Although, Buck could tell it really hurt for her to laugh, she did anyways and he couldn’t help but notice how beautiful it was. Everyone else laughed too.
“You bet sweetheart. We will be back in a bit. Nathan you come get us, kay?” said Buck as he opened the door, leading the others out.
“Will do.” said Nathan as he rifled through his bag.
As everyone was making their way out the door, Ezra turned to Lilly. Looking at her with those brilliant green eyes, “You gonna be okay?”
Sighing, she said, “I think I will be for tonight.” She managed to flash him as best a smile as she could. He laughed a little and kissed her on the forehead. As he was getting up to leave, she grabbed his hand. “Will you please stay?” she pleaded with him, her eyes probing him for a yes. She didn’t think that she could handle not having him right beside her.
“Of course, my darling. I will never leave.” he said as he kissed her forehead again. She had heard that before, but this time it felt different. She believed in Ezra. She trusted him, but did she really intend to tell him and the others the whole story? She still had to think about that.~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~
He sat on the bed to the left of her as Nathan checked her ribs and a couple of small knife slices that had drawn blood. He was amazed at the way she was able to sit there and take Nathan’s probing with such strength. He imagined it had to do with what ever it was that had happened with the man she had called Ben. Ezra just couldn’t imagine a person like Lilly even associating herself with a crazed man like that. And that scar....
Nathan had to look at Lilly’s ribs, and in order for him to do that, Lilly had to take off her dress. Nathan and Ezra, being the gentleman that they were, both turned their backs to allow her to cover herself with a towel. As Nathan was examining the ribs on her left side, he asked Lilly to raise her arm. As she did, the towel also raised, revealing the bottom of the scar that ran the length of her stomach.
“Jesus” Ezra said as he saw the scar. It was purple and raw and made his heart ache that anyone would ever want to hurt her like that. Still looking at the scar, he heard her let out a little gasp as she quickly covered up it up. He turned his attention to her face. Her face was red and looked full of shame. “No Lilly please, I only meant that I can’t believe someone could do something like that to such a beautiful woman as you.” he felt awful that he had hurt her. He hadn’t meant anything by it; it had simply caught him off guard.
Raising the towel, “May I?” Nathan asked comfortingly. Lowering her eyes as not to look at either men, she pulled the towel back up. “Whoever stitched it did good work.” Nathan said reassuringly. “Does it still hurt?”
Letting the towel fall to cover the scar, “It was a healer in Colorado.” she turned away from them both. “Not too bad anymore”.
Knowing that he made her feel ashamed of it, Ezra reached over to her chin and gently turned her head back to face him. She had turned back toward him, but still kept her eyes aimed at the floor. “Lilly, please look at me” he said very soft and comforting. She looked at him with wounded eyes. “You are beautiful” he said. He gazed into her eyes for a few moments. Although nothing more was said, their look had spoken mountains. Finally she smiled a weak and tired smile for him. He winked at her and kissed her on the cheek.
“Don’t look like nothing’s broken and none of the cuts are deep. You’re bruised pretty bad in different places including your face, but you’re not too swollen. I reckon your ribs are gonna hurt you for a while but they are actually in pretty good shape,” Nathan said looking up at Lilly with wonder. “I don’t know how you don’t have any broken ribs, but you don’t. It’s amazing since he kick...” Nathan realized what he was saying, and not wanting to make her relive it anymore than she was already going to have to, he said, “Well, lets just say you are one lucky lady. I’ll go get the others and give you a chance to get dressed.”
As he turned to go to the door, “Wait, Nathan.” He turned around to see her trying to get up off the bed. Ezra grabbed her arm and helped her to her feet. Walking over to him, she reached up and gave him a big huge. “Thank you Nathan. For everything.” she said smiling as best as she could. Her jaw hurt, and so did her eye. He just smiled and kissed her forehead, “You’re welcome.” Rubbing her arm as he left, he headed to the saloon to get the others.
She closed the door behind Nathan with her free hand. With her back still to Ezra, she pulled her slip back up to cover herself with. Turning to him, she realized that he had once again turned his back as to give her privacy. Smiling, she walked over to him and placed her hand on his back. A little startled, Ezra turned to face her. They stood in the middle of the floor staring into each others eyes for a moment, her hand resting on his chest.
She loved looking at his face. He had a warm and caring expression that seemed to comfort her at that moment better than she had ever been comforted in her whole life. She reached out and ran the back of her fingers down the side of his cheek. He brought both hands up to catch hers and kissed her palm tenderly. She needed for him to hold her, to hold her tight and never let go. Putting her arms around his neck, she drew herself to him and held on with every ounce of strength in her body. Wanting to return the gesture, Ezra wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her to him so tightly.
While still holding each other, Lilly whispered in Ezra’s ear, “Thank you Ezra, for everything you have done for me. You will never know what you mean to me.” He began to pull away, but she held him tight. “And when I tell you and the others about Ben, I will understand if you feel different.”
With that, Ezra pulled away to protest. Putting her hand to his mouth to stop him, “Please just wait until we all talk. Hear everything and then...” lowering her eyes again, “make whatever decision your conscious requires of you.” She looked back at him only to find him looking at her with such tenderness. “Just promise that you will hear the whole story okay?”
Just then, there was a knock. “Lilly, it’s us. Can we come in?” said Chris.
“And we brought the booze.” shouted Buck.
Laughing, and surprised with herself that she could, she grabbed her robe and put it on. “Come on in” she said as Ezra helped her back to the bed.
The door opened and the six men came back in. Buck really did have a bottle of whiskey in his hand. “You really want a drink?” Buck said as he gestured with the bottle.
Taking a deep sigh and thinking about all the explaining that this was going to take, “Yeah, I really want a drink.”
There were two chairs and a small sofa in her room, all of which were pulled up to the bed. Chris and Vin sat on the sofa directly in front of her. Buck and Josiah sat in the chairs on either side of the sofa. JD was sitting on the arm of the sofa, and Nathan sat down on the bed beside her. Buck handed her a shot of whiskey as the others sat patiently waiting for her to begin. Looking at the dark liquid in the glass and trying to decide exactly where to start. Raising the glass to her lips, she tossed her head back and downed the drink in one swift motion. She grimaced as the whiskey burned its way down her throat. Taking a deep breath, she handed the empty glass back to Buck, and motioned for another. Buck smiled and refilled her glass.
Holding the whiskey glass in her hands, she began at the only place she could, from the very beginning. She told them all about Ben and how they had met. She told them about her love for him and that she thought they would be together forever. She talked about his change, and how she had tried to salvage anything that was left of her Ben. She told them about everything, his bank robbery, how she had turned him in, the letters, his tracking her across the country. She told them everything, except for one small detail, her brother. She wasn’t sure why she couldn’t tell them about him. All she knew was that she couldn’t. It didn’t feel right, not yet anyways.
She watched their faces carefully as she talked to see if she could judge how they were reacting. She imagined that they all had stories so that wasn’t anything new to them, but she wasn’t sure how they would feel about a snitch. As she talked about the night in Colorado, she could see the anger in their faces for what Ben had done. She showed them what she could of the scar without totally exposing herself. She saw the sympathy in their eyes for what she had gone through. She also saw something that she hadn’t quite expected, each of those men looked at her with compassion and love.
They weren’t yelling at her or calling her names and telling her to get out of town as she had feared. Instead, Nathan had taken the drink out of her hand and had downed it himself. Setting the empty glass on the floor, he took Lilly’s hand in his. JD had jumped up off the arm of the couch and was pacing the floor, yelling about finding that bastard and killing him. Buck had leaned forward in the chair and placed his head in his hands. Vin reached out to her and placed his hand on her knee. Ezra had moved closer to her and put his arm around her back and was softly rubbing it.
But it was Chris that had surprised her the most. He looked at her with his dark eyes, and smiled. “You don’t have to worry anymore Lilly. He won’t hurt you ever again. You are safe now, here with us.” he said as he got up off the couch. He leaned down to her and kissed her on the forehead. “We’ll make sure of that.”
Looking down at Nathan’s hand still holding hers, she unconsciously began to caress the back of it. “So no one hates me for what I did?” she asked almost too afraid to hear the responses.
JD, who had been pacing, stopped dead in his tracks. All the men turned their attention back to her with shock and dismay. Buck was the first to move. He got on his knees on the floor in front of her and took her other hand in his. Looking up into her face, “Why on earth would you think that we would hate you, sweetheart?”
She sat looking Buck straight in the eye. She had fresh tears building up but they had not yet fallen. “Because I lied. I told you all I was only visiting. And I put you all at risk by not telling you that he could be coming. And because it was my fault that he even came here. And because I turned him in....” she trailed off as the tears began to flow. Looking up suddenly, “But I didn’t mean to stay so long.” She looked from one man to the next. “I had planned on leaving earlier. I have never stayed this long in one spot, but....” she again lowered her head as she trailed off.
“But what sweetheart?” Ezra said so comforting from beside her.
“I...I uh, I started to really like it here. And I ...ah..didn’t want to leave.” she said as she stared at the floor.
“Oh, Lilly. We don’t hate you. And we don’t want you to leave town. We like you here. We care about you.” said Buck trying to get her to look at him.
“Lilly, we do wish you would have told us to expect him, but I guess you didn’t really know whether to expect him either.” Vin said trying to reassure her.
“Lilly,” Josiah had taken her hand out of Nathan’s and pulled her up from the bed. Now standing right in front of her, “I know it can be hard to trust people, especially when you have something like that haunting you. There are two things that I want you to know that you can always do, okay? You can always trust us, and always count on us.”
It was those touching words from Josiah that finally broke her. She began to cry, cry with relief that she would no longer have to handle Ben by herself, crying with relief that she finally had some friends, crying with relief that she was no longer alone.
Josiah hugged her tightly which was a bit too much with his big frame. She jerked with pain from the pressure he had put on her ribs. Realizing her hurt her, he pulled away, apologizing as he did.
“I am just so thankful that I don’t have to face Ben alone anymore.” She said looking around the room at all her new friends.
This time it was JD that walked over to her and gave her a hug. Unlike Josiah, he remembered to be very gentle. “You will never be alone again,” as he kissed her on the cheek. She felt such a closeness to JD that she couldn’t explain.
“Well, I think its about time we get out of here and let the little lady get her rest,” said Buck noticing how tired she looked. “We’ll scout the area first thing to make sure Ben still ain’t around here somewhere.”
“I think that is a good idea. She has been through a lot tonight.” said Nathan as he walked over to her. Putting his hands on her arms, “you going to be all right?” She nodded and thanked him for his concern. He kissed her forehead, and opened the door. “Night then.” he said as he headed out.
The others began to follow suit, each offer their concern and happiness that she was okay. Chris and Ezra were the last two in her room.
“I really don’t think that you should be left alone especially when we haven’t been able to check out the area,” Chris said eyeing Lilly with great concern.
Looking at the Chris, she turned to Ezra. “I was kinda hoping that you would stay.” she said very softly, hoping that he would say yes. Being alone tonight was the last thing she wanted to do, especially when she was so tired.
Taking her hand in his, Ezra replied, “I wasn’t about to leave.”
“Great. I will feel much better knowing that someone is with her.” Chris said patting Ezra on the shoulder. “Night Lilly. Try to get some sleep,” Chris said as he kissed her cheek and headed out the door.
Although sleeping sounded so good, she wasn’t all that sure she would be able to do it. She was still so scared that Ben would come back to take care of her. It had been an awfully close one tonight. She was afraid next time she wouldn’t be so lucky. But Ezra was here and that made her feel better.
Shutting and locking the door behind Chris as he left, she turned to Ezra. She had never felt so tired in her life, but at that moment, all she wanted was for him to hold her. He must have been able to read it in her eyes because he stood before with his arms open, inviting her to him.
Before, she would have used restraint, she would have resisted, but now, she couldn’t. She was just too tired, and scared. Her ribs hurt and her head ached. Knowing she had to get some sleep, Ezra led her back over to the bed.
As she climbed into the bed, Ezra pulled the covers up and sat on the bed beside her. He stroked her hair as they looked into each others eyes. Nothing more was said between them because there was really nothing left to say for tonight. He only wanted to comfort her, to make her feel safe.
He sat beside her stroking her hair and her cheek as she began to drift off. “Geez, what a night.” he thought to himself as he watched her breathing become deeper and deeper. “I thought I was going to loose you my love” he said under his breath as he watched sleep overtake her. She looked so peaceful. Even with the cuts and bruises on her face, Ezra still couldn’t help thinking that she looked like an angel.
Her peacefulness made him realize just how tired he was. It had been a long day. The gathering by the church earlier that night seemed a million years ago. Satisfied that she was fully asleep, he kissed her forehead and made his way over to the couch. He took off his shirt and vest as well as his boots and sank down into the couch. He was asleep before his head hit the arm rest.
........She was walking down the center street of town. It was a dark afternoon and the town seemed deserted. A wild wind was blowing, and she had this eerie feeling that something was wrong. She looked from building to building for any signs of the townspeople, but found none. A sick feeling was beginning to grow in the pit of her stomach. “Where is everyone?” she asked herself as she approached the church at the end of the road.
She began to hear a commotion as she neared the place where the gathering had been. As she turned the corner, she saw the inhabitants of Four Corners. They were standing in a line that led to a small wooden platform.
She watched as Mary walked up the stairs leading to the top of platform. When she got to the top of the platform, she stayed facing forward. Lilly was very puzzled by this. She couldn’t understand why everyone in town was standing in this line. She saw them all, Chris, JD, Nathan, Lucinda from the Mercantile, Mr. Henderson from the Livery, even Billy. They were all waiting their turn for something, but she couldn’t see the end of the platform to be able to tell what it was.
Just then she heard a gun shot. She jumped, startled by the noise. It came from the platform. She turned her attention back just in time to see Mary fell to the ground. Blood was gushing from her stomach. Lilly let out a scream. She couldn’t believe what had just happened. She tried to run to Mary, but she couldn’t move. Then she heard that laugh, that crazy laugh that had haunted her for years. It was Ben.
She turned her attention to where the laugh had come from. She stood in complete horror at the sight of Ben standing at the end of the platform, a rifle in his hand. He threw back his head and laughed, shifting his gaze to her. She tried to scream again, but this time it wouldn’t come out.
She watched as Josiah walked up the stairs to the platform. She listened to that crazy laughter as Ben fired two shots into Josiah. She saw him fall to the ground, next to Mary. Only Mary wasn’t the only one on the ground dead. There were others, all from Four Corners.
“This is all your fault Lilly. If you had just died like a good girl in Colorado, none of this would have happened.” Ben shouted as he took aim again. She followed the gun barrel, only to see Ezra standing at the end of the platform. “No, No, NO....”
“NOOOOOO” she screamed at the top of her lungs. “Nooooooo.” She felt someone shaking her. “It’s Ben. He is going to do it this time. He is going to kill me.” she thought as the scenes began to fade slowly away. “Noooooo” she cried as she bolted upright in bed. She was disoriented, but she could feel a presence beside her. She flinched as she realized that the presence had a hold of her shoulders.
“Lilly, wake up. It was only a dream. Sweetheart, wake up.” Ezra said frantically trying to get her under control. He had both hands on her shoulders and was trying to gently shake her awake. He watched her as her eyes darted around the room, searching for something, or someone which he thought was probably more the case.
“But he was there, and he shot Josiah, and you were next.....you were next” she said as she continued to survey the room, tears falling freely from her big hazel eyes.
“Who Lilly? Ben? He is gone now. It was only a dream, Lilly.” Finally, she seemed to realize where she was. She put her head in her hands, and began to cry. His heart broke at the sight of her crying. She was in so much pain. All he wanted to do was to take all her pain away.
He laid down on the bed beside her. “Come here” he said gently as he pulled her to him. At first she resisted, still sobbing with her head in her hands. But then she gave in. She was just too tired and scared to fight. He put his arms around her and held her close to him. She laid her head on his chest and soon her cries began to fade. She snuggled up to him as he pulled the covers up.
His heart raced as he held her in his arms. He rested his chin against her head and stroked her hair. He loved holding her like this. He loved her being this close. He loved her needing him, but most of all, he loved her. Kissing her gently on her forehead, he pulled her as close as he could get her and held her tight. She had gone back to sleep almost instantly, but he savored the moment for a little while longer. He never wanted this night to end.
All of Ezra’s life had been one big game. His mother had introduced him into the game of the gambler when he was young and he had learned to perfect the role. He had learned to read people, to guard himself, and to never need anyone. But being in Four Corners had changed him. He had begun to depend on the others, he began to need them. And now, he felt his heart ache with the thought of not having Lilly. He loved her, and he had never loved anyone before. He wasn’t sure how to handle it.
Lilly stirred a little against him, moaning slightly. “Must be another dream,” he thought to himself as he kissed her head and pulled her close. She responded by kissing his neck and wrapping her arms tightly around him. Oh how he loved this. Eventually, he too drifted off, but they stayed in each others arms for the entire night.
Lilly felt the sunlight resting on her face. She felt disoriented, not quite sure where she was. She opened her eyes slowly, adjusting to the light. She looked around the room, realizing that she was in her room. “But what about last night? Was that real?” She started to raise herself up on her elbow and felt the shooting pain in her ribs. “Oh yeah, it was real.”
She carefully got herself out of bed and went to the mirror. She wanted to see just exactly what Ben had done. She never had a chance to look last night.
She didn’t look too bad considering the hell that Ben most likely had in mind for her. Her right side of her face was pretty bruised, but not swollen which was good. Her right eye was ringed a dark purple, and there was a small cut running out of the left corner of her mouth. She looked pale and her ribs hurt like crazy, but she was alive.
“Ezra” she said startled by the remembrance that Ezra had stayed with her last night. She turned quickly and looked around the room. “Where did he go?” she asked the empty room, half expecting an answer. She tried to remember what Chris had said last night. “To survey the area. That must be where he went, with the others,” she told herself as she turned back to the mirror.
Looking again in the mirror, she noticed something on the night stand behind her. She turned and went over to the table. It was a note from Ezra.
I went with the others to scout the area. I hope you slept well. I’ll be waiting for you at the saloon whenever you feel like coming down.Ezra
'What an angel he is,' she thought to herself, butterflies fluttering in her empty stomach at the mere thought of him. She thought back to the way he had comforted her when she had awoken from that horrible dream, the way he had held her in his strong, muscular arms, the way he had kissed her forehead. God, how she wanted him. She loved him with every ounce of her being. She needed him, but she was so afraid.
Ben now knew that she had feelings for Ezra. He would never let that happen. Ben wanted her to suffer, and she knew that he would do everything in his power to make sure she did. She had heard the pure hate in his voice when he had spoken to Ezra last night. If he thought for a moment that hurting Ezra would hurt her, he would do it in a heartbeat. And she was sure that he knew by now. She knew one thing for absolute certain. She couldn’t risk get Ezra hurt. She loved him too much.
No, she had absolutely no choice. Ben gave her no choice. She had to leave Four Corners. She owed it to Ezra or the others for saving her life. But she knew she needed help. She couldn’t get all her stuff loaded into a wagon especially in her current state. She would talk to Chris. He would help her. Although she was sure he would try to talk her into staying, she knew that he would not try to stop her. And she thought that she might be able to trust him not to tell Ezra.
Besides, she needed to continue with her search for her brother. She knew she was close. She could feel it. Being around JD made her even more certain that she had to find him. He was about the same age as Jonathan was, and she had such fun with him. JD was a sweet kid.
“That’s what I will do. I will get myself cleaned up and get Chris to help me pack up my stuff. I would never be able to live with myself if I got any of them hurt.... or even worse.” she told herself as the tears began to spill over again. Leaving was the last thing she wanted to do, but she had no choice because of Ben. “I hate him” she cried dropping her head in her hands.
She knew that crying wasn’t going to get her anywhere. “Oh well,” she said with a sigh. “Maybe someday I can come back.” Not wanting to think about it anymore, she began getting herself cleaned up. She wanted to be ready to leave by sun down. If Ben were going to come back, she knew that it would be at night. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she sighed as images of Ezra filled her mind. “At least now I know what real love feels like” she said as she began to brush her hair.
They had spent most of the morning riding around the hills that surrounded Four Corners, but they had turned up nothing. “If Ben was still in the area, he sure had a good hiding spot” Ezra told himself as he made his way to the saloon.
He walked past the hotel, and couldn’t help but to turn his gaze to her window, but there was nothing. “She is probably still sleeping” he told himself. He wasn’t sure how well she had slept because he couldn’t sleep much at all. Half of the night he spent thinking about that psycho and the horrible things he had done to Lilly. He just couldn’t understand it.
The other half he had spent watching her sleep. He couldn’t help but stare at her as she slept. He memorized every detail of her face, the curve of her lips, the high bones in her cheeks, even a little scar above her left eyebrow. He wondered what it would be like to kiss her whenever he wanted, to stare deep into her eyes, to make sweet love to her. Most importantly, he just wanted to be with her forever.
She seemed to quiet down a lot after he had gotten in bed with her. He hadn’t wanted to leave her this morning but he knew that he had to look for that bastard that hurt her. He had left a note on the table, and kissed her goodbye. He didn’t think that she even knew he had left. He knew it was better that way. She needed some sleep.
Now he just wanted to take a hot bath and to clean himself up. It had been a hot day yesterday, and then with the gun fight and all the havoc, he just wanted to rest. “Besides” he said as a sly grin spread across his face “I want to look my best for Lilly.” The thought sounded so strange to him because it had been so long since he had these kind of feelings. He felt nervous about them, but in a good way. He wouldn’t have traded that feeling for the world.~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~*~~~~~
“Chris please. I have to leave. He will be back and...”
“Lilly, don’t you think we know that he will be back. We have been guarding the town all day. We are ready for him. If you leave, you are a sitting duck. He will find you.” Chris said trying to reason with her as she knew he would.
“I know that Chris, but I can’t ask you men to risk your life for me. Now wait,” she said as Chris began to object. “I am forever in all of your debt for saving my life last night, but I refuse to sit here while Ben is still out there. If I leave he will follow me. And if he leaves, the town as well as you men won’t be at risk.”
“Lilly, we want you here. We can protect you. I already told you last night. You aren’t alone anymore.” he said so tenderly that her heart melted. “No Lilly be strong” she told herself.
“Chris please. I have already lost so much because of Ben, I can’t risk losing any more.” she said as she picked up her journal from the table. She carried it over to the bed where her bag was, oblivious to the small piece of paper that had fallen out, landing on the floor. Chris knelt down and picked it up.
“Jonathan Daniel Hinkland” Chris said eyeing her closely.
A gasp escaped her mouth as she whirled quickly around. “Please give that to me.” Chris could see the panic in her eyes. She reached over and snatched the paper from his hands. Turning her attention back to the bed, she folded the paper and shoved it in her journal.
“Lilly who is Jonathan Daniel.....”
“He is no one Chris.” She said with her back to him.
“You wouldn’t be acting this way if he was no one. Are you looking for him? Why Lilly? Who is Jonathan?” Chris persisted. He knew that this was something he had to know. He wasn’t sure why but he knew that he had to know. “Tell me Lilly.”
“Chris please. Will you just help me pack?”
“No Lilly. Not until you tell me who Jonathan is?” he demanded. He could tell she was about ready to give.
“I can’t.” she said turning around abruptly, tears rimming her eyes. “Please, I can’t” and with that she was out the door. Chris wasn’t about to let this go. He just had this feeling that is was very important for him to find out who this person was.
Vin and Nathan were out scouting the surrounding areas looking for Ben. Buck and JD were in their usual spots, sitting in front of the saloon talking about a carriage that had just arrived in town. A young woman had exited the coach and went into the Mercantile across the street.
“I bet I could get her to talk to me” JD told Buck so matter of factly, referring to the young woman. Buck threw his head back and laughed.
“Now that is one bet I would care to wager on” said Ezra from the doorway of the saloon. Both men turned their heads to see Ezra standing there.
“I could do it” JD said again. At least in his mind, he knew he could do it. He always got kinda tongue tied when it came to purdy woman. Besides, he had Casey, he didn’t really even want to talk to her but he wanted to impress Buck.
Ezra and Buck had made a joke, almost certainly at his expense he was sure. But his interest had changed. He saw Lilly and Chris headed toward the saloon, but it looked to him that they were arguing about something. “Hey look at that.” he said to Ezra and Buck. “What do you think that’s about?”
He looked up at Ezra to see what he made of it. The concern on Ezra’s face told JD that he wasn’t the only one curious about their conversation. JD really didn’t think that Chris would do anything to hurt Lilly but he couldn’t understand what was going on. He watched as Lilly walked quickly ahead of Chris. Chris was continually talking to her, only she didn’t seemed to want to talk. She shook her head, and didn’t say a word. Finally, Chris ran up to catch her and grabbed her by the arm, turning her abruptly around.
“What the hell is he doing?” Ezra said as he jumped off the boardwalk and headed for them. Buck and JD followed. JD just couldn’t imagine why Chris would grab her like that.
“Tell me Lilly.” Chris demanded.
“Chris don’t do this.” she begged just as Ezra, Buck and JD gathered around them.
“Chris what the hell are you doing?” Ezra said as he grabbed Chris by the arm.
“Yeah Chris, what’s the matter?” JD asked looking at the panic on Lilly’s face.
“Chris just forget it. It’s not important. Well, hello gentleman” she said turning her attention to Ezra and Buck. She saw the questions on their faces also and just couldn’t take it any more. She turned and started to walk away.
“Lilly, tell me. Who is Jonathan Daniel Hinkland?” Chris said again for the millionth time. She stopped dead in her tracks. She didn’t want the name known by all the men. Hell, she didn’t want it known by Chris, but she didn’t think he was ever going to let this one go. Slowly turning to face him, she said, “Chris, I already told you, I....” but she stopped when she saw the look on JD’s face.
This time it was JD who grabbed Chris, by the front of his shirt. JD looked pale, like someone had just kicked him. “What the hell did you just say?”
“JD, what’s a matter?” said Buck very concerned. He had never seen JD say even a cross word to Chris, let alone put his hands on him. JD idolized Chris. All the men knew it. Buck reached out and tried to pull JD back but he just shrugged Buck’s hand off of his shoulder.
JD looked from Chris to Lilly. Turning to face her, “why is he asking you about that name and how do you know it?”
“Why? Do you know a person by that name?” Chris asked very interested in how they both could know the name. JD just continued to stare right into Lilly’s eyes.
“Yeah, JD why?” asked Buck, putting his hand on JD’s back. He was afraid that the kid would faint. He was that pale.
“Yeah” he said eyeing Lilly closely. “Me. I am Jonathan Daniel Hinkland.” A gasp escaped her lips as shock filled her eyes.
“But...I....um...ohhh” was all she could manage before she fainted. It was lucky that Ezra had been standing so close to her because he was able to catch her before she had hit the ground.