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Tyree walked along the paddocks, the corrals, and sat on a low hump of grass beyond sight of the house or the stables. Laying back in the cold grass, he sucked smoke deep into his lungs. He watched clouds drift by, going nowhere, just floating aimlessly with the wind.

His breath caught in his chest, creating a deep ache that twisted in a black emptiness that threatened to swallow him. He slid the gun from its sheath and held it up to the light, observing the glint along its cold, lifeless barrel. He heard the soft crush of grass and rolled up as Marcie rode her dark mare toward him. She slipped to the ground and walked, closing the remaining space between them. Her hair flashed light as it wisped around her shoulders. She wore tight breeches and a green shirt that snugged up around her under a sheepskin coat. Green eyes flashed as the light hit them. He choked back something akin to a moan as she slid down beside him.

“I didn’t want company. That’s why I came all the way out here,” his words sounded harsher than he intended. Momentary hurt flitted across her face as she sought his eyes.

“Sorry,” she said. “I just heard what happened. I wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“I’m not okay. But that isn’t something new. I’ll survive.”

“Tyree. I don’t know what to say. I know you must feel horrible. There wasn’t anything else you could do, even Lonny said so. It is an awful thing to kill someone. I can’t imagine.”

She sat cross-legged, leaning forward as she put a hand on his cheek, wiping a tendril of hair away from the thick scar at the edge of his hair. It made his skin tingle, warmed him, and caused a pain in his chest. He brushed her hand away and sorrowed at the hurt in her eyes.

“I didn’t mean…” He leaned forward and took her face in his hands, pulling her forehead to forehead.

“Please, Marcie Malone. Go away from me. I cain’t…”

“I’m your friend, Tyree. Everyone needs a friend sometimes, someone to talk to.”

“I don’t want you for a friend, Marcie.” He kicked himself for saying it, and he saw her pull back.

“What do you mean, Tyree? You don’t want to be my friend?”

“I want more than that,” he whispered. “You make me want to be something I’m not, Marcie. I can’t help that, but I got nothing for you. Please, just go away.” He pushed her away and stood up, walking away from her.


“I’m your friend, Tyree. I don’t believe you want less than that.”

Against his better judgment he turned around, walked up to her and put a hand behind her back, pulled her up close to him, and put his other hand behind her neck. He pressed his mouth against hers, and felt her pushing away from him, but he didn’t stop. He tasted her lips, and then she pressed against him, her lips against his, wanting his kiss, and he let her go. She appeared confused, angry, hurt. The back of her hand wiped at her mouth.


“You don’t know me. When you do, you will despise me. But I will always have this moment. Thank you, Marcie.” He moved away from her and walked alone back to the house.

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