What's in Denver?
Grace woke up excited. Denver. She couldn't believe she was going to Denver to actually enjoy the city. She collected all the bags that she and Hank had packed the night before and pulled them outside. She grew more and more excited as she stood on the porch waiting for him. When Hank pulled up in his wagon Grace was beaming.
"Good morning," she said happily.
"Good mornin'," he said jumping to the ground. He kissed her lips softly before grabbing her bags. "You ready?" he asked her as he loaded her last bag onto the back of the wagon.
"Yes. I'm really excited," Grace said as he helped her into the wagon.
"Good. Let's go," Hank said joining her. He snapped the reins and the horses took off. They chatted about everything he wanted to show her as they reached their destination.
When they arrived at the train station, Micheala, Dorothy, Sully, Robert E., Loren, Jake, Myra, Horace and a few other townspeople were waiting.
"Where are you going?" Dorothy asked as she pulled Grace over to where she, Dr. Mike and Myra were standing.
"Denver," Grace answered.
"What's in Denver?" Micheala asked.
"I don't know. Hank wanted to take me," Grace said.
"Have fun, Grace," Myra said hugging her tightly.
"You can't possibly be really going," Dorothy said aghast.
"And why not?" the black woman asked haughtily.
"We just want you to be careful," Dr. Mike said glancing at Hank.
"I'm perfectly safe," Grace said. "Thank you for your misplaced concern," she said before she smiled at Myra and rejoined Hank. She hugged Sully and waved goodbye to Jake and Loren. As the couple walked across the platform to board the train, they were stopped by Horace and Robert E..
"Whatdya want?" Hank asked annoyed.
"You ain't takin' her nowhere," Robert E. said sternly.
"That's right," Horace said. "We care about Grace and we ain't gonna see her hurt by the likes of you." Grace felt Hank make a move toward the skinny man but he stopped when she squeezed his hand.
"Thank you for thinkin' of me but I'll be fine," Grace said.
"Not with him, you won't," Robert E. said glaring at the tall, blonde man.
"Robert E., standing next to me could be the worst renegade in the whole country and I would go with him before I stayed here with you," she said looking him in the eyes. "So why don't you run along and tell Dorothy what I said. Hank and I have a train to catch." The pair walked away leaving Robert E. dumbfounded.
They boarded the train went straight to Hank's private compartment. He took her shawl and she took a seat. He sat across from her and smiled to himself. He could see the excitement in her brown eyes. Denver was going to be amazing.
Hank pulled the tickets out of his waistcoat pocket when he heard the conductor calling for them. He rose to his feet and went to the door. Grace was asleep and he wanted her to stay that way.
"Tickets, sir?" the man as he glanced into the compartment. "Sir?"
"Yeah?" Hank said.
"No negros in the private compartments," he said frankly. Hank wanted to punch him.
"She ain't no negro, she's Grace and she's stayin' right here," Hank said sternly. "I paid for this compartment and I brought her along so she's gonna enjoy it."
"But sir..." the man began.
"She's stayin' right here," the tall blonde man said pulling his gun.
"Yes sir," the man said punching the tickets. Hank waved the man away with his gun before he put it back in his holster. The compartment was large. He had two benches and a bed. The bed was short and he didn't necessarily feel like being cramped so he lifted her off the couch and laid her down on the bed. He pulled off her shoes and covered her up. He kissed her on the forehead before he settled back on his cushioned bench.
When Grace awoke the train was pulling to a stop. Hank was awake and pulling on his boots.
"You ready?" he asked glancing over his shoulder at her. She nodded and put her own shoes back on. They de-boarded and stood on the platform with their bags. Hank hailed a carriage driver and they headed toward their hotel. Hank watched as Grace looked wide eyed at all the buildings. "We're here," he said as he jumped out of the carriage and held a hand out for her. She took it and exited the carriage. They were greeted by a black doorman.
"Sir," he said collecting the bags and setting them by the door. He looked at Grace and his eyes grew wide. "You gotta go in the back way," he said to her.
"Of course," Grace said.
"No. She's with me," Hank said pulling her close to him.
"Hank, it's fine," she said patiently.
"No it ain't and we ain't talkin' about it anymore," he said as he took her hand and pulled her into the hotel behind him. The lobby of the hotel was beautiful. High ceilings, crown molding, beautiful crystal chandeliers.
"Welcome to The Brown Palace Hotel," a short paunchy man said approaching them. He cut his eyes at Grace. "I'm Mr. Dell, the manager. What can I help you with?"
"I'd needa check in," Hank said looking down at the man.
"Very well, but...your guest...has her own entrance in the back of the hotel. Our doorman will be happy to show her," he said his nose in the air.
"Somehow I doubt that," Grace muttered.
"No negros allowed in the main lobby, sir," The blonde man made a move toward the manager but Grace squeezed his hand.
"I ain't gonna say this but once," Hank said as he pushed his long coat back and exposed the gun on his hip. "Grace is with me. I don't want no trouble comin' to her."
"Yes, sir," the man said flabbergasted.
"Now, I wanna check in," Hank said letting his coat cover the gun. Mr. Dell hurried over to the desk, grabbed the key and a bellhop and returned to them.
"Reginald will show you to your room," Mr. Dell said, his face flushed. Hank nodded briefly and followed the bellhop to the elevator.
"I could have went in the back, Hank," she said once the door closed.
"No you couldn't," he said glancing down at her. She held his hand tight as the square room zoomed up. The bellhop opened the door and led them down a long beautifully decorated hallway. He put the key in and unlocked the door and they followed him inside.
"This is the sitting area," he said pointing to the plush loveseats, armchairs and coffee table. "This is the balcony," he said pulling the doors open and allowed the sounds of the horseshoes clomping and people talking to filter into the room. "This is the bedroom." the bellhop said leading them into another room with a large lavish bed. It had a carved solid wood headboard and it was elevated off the floor a bit. "And here is your private washroom." he said opening a room off to the side of the bedroom. Hank handed him some money and the bellhop left.
"This room is beautiful, Hank," she said her eyes wide taking in all the luxurious things.
"I wanted this to be special for ya," he said removing his hat. "I'm gonna put my things away. You comin'?"
"Um, yeah," she said as she took a deep breath. She entered into the bedroom and she refused to look at the bed. She wasn't going to let herself think about what was going to happen later, when it was time for bed. No. She was gonna unpack and enjoy whatever Hank had planned for the rest of the afternoon.