Welcome to Tuesday Tales- This week's word is Sandwich
Shannon heard screams and realized they were her own. Swatting at the closest person she tried to sit up.
“Shannon, dear, you need to lay still so Virginia can sew up your face. She has the finest hand around and her stitches are tiny and uniform,” Edith explained as she tried to hold Shannon’s shoulders still.
“Edith, let me sit there. I can hold her down better than you.” It was the man from the street.
He sat at the top of her head out of her line of sight holding her shoulders with a powerful, yet not punishing grip.
“Don’t try to talk, Miss. The faster we get this done the better. I got you. I know it hurts but I need you to keep your head still. Poor Virginia is trying to do her best by you. I don’t know how you got tangled up with Hardy but he’s bad news. Shh, it’ll be fine.” He dabbed at her tears with a perfumed handkerchief.
Closing her eyes, she tried to concentrate on his voice but the fact she was going to have a big scar across her face whirled in her head. John Hardy was right, no one would want her now. She took a big chance coming to Texas to marry a man she didn’t know but it was that or the workhouse. The whole trip she kept imagining what it would be like to be a wife of a rancher and she hoped he’d want children. Her imagination wasn’t wild enough to consider what just happened.
“Slow deep breaths, Miss, concentrate on breathing. You’re almost done.”
Finally she grabbed hold of his voice and made it crowd out everything in her head. The pain was excruciating but his strong, kind male voice became her lifeline. She was so very tired and as she listened to him then her world went blank again.
She woke up the next morning confused but the pain of her cheek reminded her of her plight. Sitting up she fingered that large bandage covering the whole side of her face. Answering John Hardy’s request for a bride was the biggest mistake of her life but considering the alternative, there was no contest. Weighing the workhouse against a dream of a husband and children, living on a ranch, John Hardy won out.
Gingerly she stood up afraid she’d feel light headed but other than the cut, she was fine. The room was nice, much nicer than anything she’d known. The yellow curtains matched the finely stitched comforter. There was one glaring omission, a mirror. There was a faint outline on the wall where it had hung, at least that was her guess. Her face must look as bad as she imagined.
She still wore her traveling outfit but a quick search of the room turned up nothing. Her bag hadn’t been brought up. Quickly she braided her hair until it hung neatly down her back and opened the door in search of the staircase. Voices drifted up the stairwell as she made her way down and she recognized one of the voices as being the man who helped her yesterday. Upon hearing her name, she stopped.
“She can’t stay here and no man will marry her now. That scar once healed will be a hideous sight. You can’t expect any man to want to gaze at her across the dinner table,” Edith insisted.
“She can’t go back to the saloon either. You know what will happen,” the man said, his voice strong and calm.
“Cinders, I don’t know what to do. I’ve already done my Christian duty by allowing her to stay the night. I feed her a sandwich for heaven’s sake.”
Shannon could imagine poor Edith wringing her hands and she was right, she had done a lot for her. It was time to leave. Straightening her shoulders, she climbed down the stairs. If ever she needed a backbone it would be now. “Good Morning.” Her words came out as barely a squeak.
Edith turned at nodded to her. “Morning. I’m so pleased you’re up and around.”
“Yes, I’ll take my leave now but I wanted to thank you. Both of you.” She quickly glanced at the tall cowboy. His blond hair and winter-sky blue eyes caught her attention and she looked again.
“I’m Cinders, ma’am, and I’m glad I was there to help you. Uh, where are you planning to go? The stage will be through here later this afternoon. You could wait for it and start your way back to where you came from.”
Trying to give him a faint smile brought her too much pain. “Yes, well thank you.” Shannon grabbed her bag from the bottom of the stairs and headed out the door. Glancing around the town, there didn’t seem to be any prospects of a job and Edith was right, no man would make her his wife.
“I’ve been wondering how long it be before you’d be out in the streets. If you beg me nicely, I’ll let you stay here. I can’t marry you now of course since I’d only be able to bed you with the lights off,” John Hardy said as he leaned against his saloon, striking a match on the wall and lighting a cigar. He narrowed his eyes and gave her a snide grin.
“I…I was just going to look for a job over at Eats. I’m a fair cook.” She hated how her voice trembled, because she couldn’t afford to appear weak. “Good day.” She stepped off the wooded boardwalk into the street.
“Don’t you dare walk away from me,” he warned.
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