Welcome- this week's work is Twenty- This is a new book I'm writing about a Mail Order Bride.
Shannon took a deep breath and slowly let it out before turning to face him. “We no longer have reason to ever talk again. I would think attempted murder would void any marriage promise.”
“Attempted murder? Are you crazy? You disrespected me and you got what you deserved. Anyway, I’m not talking about the marriage contract. I’m talking about the money I sent you to get out here. I demand you return it.” He threw his cigar at her feet and crossed his arms in front of his barrel shaped chest.
“That’s one of the reasons I’m trying to find a job. I’m good for the money, I promise.”
Her hopes dashed as his mocking laugh grew louder. “You stupid cow, I own you. You’ll pay me back I can guarantee it. I bet there are plenty of men willing to give you a go, even if you’re ugly as sin. Funny how a little liquor changes how a man defines beauty. It makes them willing to take any female offered. Of course I might have to give them a twenty percent discount for having to look at you.”
Boot steps echoed on the walkway. “Ma’am, get into my wagon. You’re going home with me.” Cinders hadn’t even glanced her way- he kept his gaze trained on John.
John glared at Cinders and laughed mockingly. His stance was wide and his right hand hovered over the gun in his gun belt. “I said she belongs to me.”
A lump formed in her throat as her heart beat wildly against her chest. She didn’t know much about men or guns but she did know the expression of hate on John Hardy’s face. “Thank you, Mr. Cinders, for coming to my aid but I’m not worth getting shot over. The fact is, I do owe him his money back and truly who would hire me now?” Her fingers gingerly touched her bandage.
Cinders didn’t take time to glance in her direction. He kept his gaze on John. “I’ll hire you. Now get in the wagon.” His voice was low and even as though he anticipated more trouble.
“Not until I get my money,” John snarled.
A tall, older gentleman clad in a crisp white shirt and wool pants stepped into the street. He stood between the two men while shaking his head. “I’m warning you, I haven’t had my breakfast yet. What seems to be the problem?”
“Cinders here is trying to steal my wife.”
The man turned and faced Cinders. “Is that true? You know a wife belongs to her husband. I can’t get into the middle of this. Now if the town would open its tight purses we’d have a sheriff here to take care of these matters and I’d be eating my breakfast.”
“Judge Gleason, I’m sorry about your breakfast but the fact is they aren’t married.”
“Yet!” John shouted
The judge turned. “Damn it, John, I’m right here. There is no need to yell into my ear.” He scanned the gathering crowd and rested his gaze on her.
Shannon quickly adverted her eyes as she tried to be inconspicuous, however it was impossible with the huge strip of gauze hugging her cheek. Slowly she lifted her gaze and met his knowing stare.
He smiled. “Well I can see what all the fuss is about. We don’t often have such a fine woman come to our town.”
John coughed loudly as he stepped toward her. “I’m still willing to take her even if she is hideous.”
Judge Gleason tipped his flat-brimmed hat. “Ma’am, would you like to join me for breakfast? You can tell me what this is all about.” He walked toward her, extended his arm and waited for her to place her hand on it. The crowd parted as he escorted her in the direction of Eats Café and he called over his shoulder, “Cinders, I want to talk to you too.”
“What about my story?” John asked.
The judge shrugged his shoulders and kept walking.
They reached the door to the eatery and Cinder’s opened the door and held it for them.
“I already know your story, Hardy.” Judge Gleason ushered her through the open door.