Chapter Fourteen



Tuesday morning, First Week

They would not see her cry. No, she wouldn’t give those brutes the satisfaction of seeing her cry. Really, to speak so coarsely to a lady? And lay hands upon her as well? How very very very rude, and inappropriate! Those oafs should be glad that she was mindful of her manners, or she would have been far more unpleasant with them!

…or…at least, Sarah should very much like to imagine she would have been, anyway. The truth was, the men had frightened her! If they had truly desired to harm her, she had little in the way of self-defense practically, to raise against them…and to make it worse, she knew so few people here in town, and her Father was away. There would be no reason, save for common decency, and human kindness that anyone should stand upon her behalf!

One would think that the young lady should be quite used to this. After all, a man of her Father’s standing, of his wealth and influence was not without his enemies, even back home, back East…and while Sarah had been quite sheltered and protected by those who loved her dearest, she was not so naieve as to be blind to that fact. And here, here in the West, it was even more so… there were always those who misunderstood her Father’s intentions, who saw his efforts not as an attempt to help those settled in those areas, and bring civilization to their home, but as a land grab. She’d heard some positively -horrid- things said about her Father during town meetings, things that she’d learned to simply think nothing of, to ignore as just the angry ramblings of men who just didn’t understand that her Father was there to help…but never, never before had one dared to actually lay a hand on her! Oh, she would, indeed, relay their message to her Father… and remember those men, remember them well, so that her Father would be forewarned should he make their acquaintance, and so that she could make a complaint to the local sheriff and deputies.

So lost in her thoughts, in her fears, and so focused on the struggle to maintain her composure was she that she hadn’t even taken note of the man approaching her, not until he was practically upon her…and so startled by his words was she that the oh, so tenuous masque of composure failed her, her eyes betraying the very fear, and distress she’d been trying to hide apparent in her eyes.

As he spoke, his hands lifted in a gesture of almost surrender, Sarah calmed, at least enough to compose herself again, her cheeks flushing, as a wary smile played upon her lips. Crystalline blue eyes lowered, then lifted, a deep breath taken as her gaze met the eyes of the gentleman who stood before her. How delightful a reminder of the nobility and chivalric nature of some , at least! Men of reason and honour did exist..and apparently, they could be rather handsome, as well…in that quite…rugged…sort of fashion. Not that she’d noticed his appearance overly, mind you!

After all, courting and marriage weren’t really matters she’d thought of before, although she did find herself thinking more and more that she might not be opposed to such things…with the right young gentleman, and her Father’s approval, of course.

“No, no, no, sir, I’m quite alright. Thank you ever so much for your kind asking, however.” The young lady spoke, her smile softening, as she grew obviously more comfortable in the man’s presence. “They didn’t harm me, they simply wished me to deliver a message to my Father upon their behalf. It should seem they’re rather intent to keep progress from coming to Tucson. It’s quite sad, really… that they would have the whole town suffer the loss of the railroad, and all that it brings with it, for some foolish, and very wrong notion that they’ve taken to heart…”

A sigh escaped as she shook her head. “As to their identity, I fear my father and I have only just arrived here in town, so I’m certain I shouldn’t be the best person to ask. I do believe that I heard one of the ruffians call the other Billy, though, if that should help you?” Sarah’s laugh, sweet, and melodic, rang out as she shook her head. “Although, given how commonplace that name is, I doubt it should be of great aide in finding him.”

Those blue eyes darted in the direction of the men making their exits. “I’m flattered that you’d go to such trouble for me, Sir, but I wouldn’t have you put yourself in any danger or delayed upon my account. I’ll speak with my Father when he returns to the hotel, and I’m sure he’ll speak with the local authorities.”

Turning her gaze back to the gentleman, Sarah smiled awkwardly.

“But come, I’ve forgotten my manners, my apologies, sir…”

Extending a gloved hand, presenting it as a proper lady would, for a proper kiss to its back.

“I’m Sarah. Sarah Prescott… and you are?”




Tuesday Morning, First Week

“Wuhl, they sure were intent on something, miss,” Tommy started to drawl, but she was intent on putting up a brave front. That endeared her to him almost instantly. His eyebrows rose at the news that the railroad was on its way in the form of this angel and her father and it became all too clear what sort of nastiness had been piled on her. And it was right up the alley of the sort of people he’d been tangling with recently.

Looked like he was staying in Tucson a bit longer than expected.

“I got a good memory for faces. Don’t need names,” he assured her, and a breeze caught her scent, making him take a deep breath before going on. Shee-it, they make ‘em pretty back east!

“Don’t mind tellin’ ya though,” he added, more gravely, “I don’t think much about a big gun like your father letting you go unescorted in a town like Tucson. And I ain’t authority, but I ain’t likely to let scalawags like them threaten you again, neither. You should have someone to keep a lookout…and if the deputies are too busy, you can count on me.”

Her gloved hand disappeared in his brown calloused paw, and he gave it as much of a squeeze as he dared as he brought it up to his lips. He felt both awkward and proud at the same time – not often an outlaw like him had to display social graces, but at least he knew what to do.

“Tommy Lillard, at your service.” He gave her the best smile he knew how, one he had been told by many a soiled dove was a ladykiller. He straightened a bit at the disparaging thought of Cort, Morgan, James and Virgil, all sitting on their flabby self-important tookasses, warning her father off from a man like him, but he wasn’t going to let that stand in the way of being a more pleasant memory for the young lady.

Hell, even if all the deputies decided they were going to play guard over her, Tommy was going to be there somewhere, somehow where she could see him. If she could see him, so could the rascals, and then there’d be some reckoning.

“I know of a way to cheer things up,” he said, and crooked his elbow to suggest that she walk with him a bit. “There’s a fandango Friday, and I ain’t had a partner in a long time. I’d be mighty honored if you’d go with me.”


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