Hat Creek Trouble

The One with the Dancing

It had taken me a few hours to fall asleep on the bedroll Woodrow had left for me. I wasn’t used to sleeping on the floor. When I woke up, there wasn’t a shred of light outside and the fire had almost died. I grabbed a piece of wood and set it on top of the fire, then blew gently until it caught hold of the log.

After it was blazing a bit more, I added another log. I went to the front window, but couldn’t see anything. The rain had stopped sometime in the middle of the night. The light that had been on the porch last night had gone out and the sun was still far behind the horizon. I went back to the fire, trying to chase the chill from the room.

I’d added one more log as the sky went from a hazy gray to a very soft pink. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but the cabin was starting to make me claustrophobic. My shoes had dried pretty well, so I pulled them on and took the blanket Newt had given me last night and wrapped around my shoulders.

As quietly as I could, I walked over to the door and cracked it open. I could hardly see the outline of Woodrow’s body on the porch, just off to the side of the door. I opened it and stepped out, gently pulling it closed. I tip-toed down the stairs and hit the dirt before anything happened.

“Little early for a walk, ma’am.” Woodrow’s voice came, scaring the crap out of me.

“Yeah, well. I just thought I’d just some fresh air.” I said weakly.

Woodrow threw off his blankets, slid on his boots, picked up his hat and rifle, and came to stand near me. “Best if I come with ya then. Lots of animals in these woods.” He said, cradling the rifle.

“Were you in the Army, Captain?” I asked after we’d walked for a while.

“No, ma’am. Texas Rangers.” He said simply.

“Well, Captain. I believe we’re quite a ways from Texas.” I said, hoping I was right. I didn’t exactly know where the hell we were, but I didn’t know of many forests as thick as this one in Texas.

“Yes, ma’am.” Woodrow said.

“So how’d you end up all the way up here from Texas?” I asked as we walked at a slow pace.

“I reckon it was Gus’s idea, ma’am. He decided Montana would be as good a place as any for a cattle ranch.” Woodrow told me.

“Is Gus not here?” I asked, trying to remember the names of the men I was introduced to last night.

“No, ma’am. He died of the blood poisoning about the time we reached this valley.” Woodrow said, but I could see there was a sorrow under his blank features.

I nodded. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

We walked for another ten or fifteen minutes until the sun crested the mountains and the whole valley was basked in orange light. “You’ve made a beautiful home here for these men, Captain Call.” I told him.

He just barely tipped his hat. “If you don’t mind me asking, ma’am,” He said, pausing for a moment. “I reckon I’d like to know the story of those shoes.”

I swallowed the lump in my throat. “Well, Captain. I’m not from around here. I’ve never been to Montana before. Yesterday, I was at work at the lawyer’s office. Yesterday evening, I was at my apartment in Denver, with my roommate. Today, I’m in Montana on a cattle ranch.” I said with a shrug. “I don’t know how I got here. I don’t even know what year it is.”

He stopped walking and looked over at me. “Ma’am, I ain’t a man to call a lady a liar. But I believe you about as far as I can throw you.”

I nodded. “That’s understandable.” I told him, thinking. “When I left Denver, yesterday, the year was 2014.” I told him, trying to gauge his reaction.

He stood still for a moment, mimicking a statue. Then slowly turned his head to look at me. “That ain’t rightly possible, seeing as its 1877 now.”

I blinked. I had been sent back almost a hundred and fifty years to the past. But why? I was confused. Gerry once said that when time traveling is successful, the time warp sends you to a time where it needs you to fix something. But didn’t it only take you back in time, at the spot where you were? But how would I know. I hadn’t seen Back to the Future in a long time. Maybe time travel just took you wherever the hell it wanted to.

“We best get you back to the cabin.” Woodrow said and we wandered back to the house to see Woodrow’s men sitting around on the porch. “We wasn’t sure if you was still sleeping, so we figured we’d just sit here.” Pea Eye said, taking off his hat when he saw me.

I wasn’t sure what to say back to him, so I just smiled. I opened the cabin door and went to put another log on the fire. Woodrow and Needle went about getting breakfast ready and I just sat on the floor, watching them.

“Did you sleep alright, ma’am?” Newt said, coming to stand a few feet from me.

I smiled up at him. “Yes, I did. Thank you.”

He smiled and nodded, then turned to find something else to do. Newt made me smile a little bit. He’d obviously not had much interaction with women. I could tell he’d had some, but it was pretty obvious that none of these men were married.

Woodrow said that breakfast was ready and suddenly, all the men looked at me. “Come get breakfast.” He said again, looking directly at me. With Newt’s help, I stood from the floor. I wasn’t used to getting around in a dress. Fried eggs, bacon, biscuits and coffee. I poured a cup of coffee, then got a biscuit and a couple pieces of bacon.

I sat at one of the seven chairs around the table and waited for the rest of the men to it down before I took a bite.

“Why’d ya wait for us?” Newt asked, curiously.

I shrugged. “My parents always told me you never eat until everybody’s at the table.”

He nodded and dug into his food. It took about ten minutes before the boys finished their food and they all took their plates to the tub in the corner. Then they grabbed their hats and went out the door to the stables.

I looked over at Woodrow and tried to remember something about the old west I’d learned in History class in high school a few years ago. “I, um,” I started, wondering how to put my thoughts into words. “I don’t expect you to let me stay here for nothing. And it doesn’t look like any of your men are married, which tells me you don’t have a woman around. I can cook and clean; do dishes and laundry.” I told him.

“I’m not good with horses much, so if you wanted me to help with any of that, you’d have to train me along the way. But I can cook and bake, mostly. I’m good at laundry and dishes. I can clean and tend the fire.” I told him.

He watched me carefully. “Can you make biscuits?”

I thought about it for a moment. “Not… not off the top of my head.”

He just stood there for a moment. “Best get those dishes done. Don’t have a wash room, so you’ll have to do them in the lake.” He said, grabbing his hat and leaving the cabin.

I nodded to myself and put another log on the fire, to chase the chill from the cabin. I rolled up the sleeves of the dress Woodrow had given me and picked up the metal tub with the dishes in it. The weather today was gloomy and overcast, but I could tell most of the rain had moved away from us. We might get some sprinkling later, but it wouldn’t be bad enough to worry about.

I hiked the tub on my hip as I opened and closed the door. A few of the men were rounding up a stray cow, while the Captain and Pea Eye were putting a fence back together from the storm. I zoned out the guys as I started humming to myself on the walk to the lake.

It wasn’t too far from the cabin, but just far enough away, that if the lake flooded, the house wasn’t in danger. It was a pretty good idea; not that I knew anything about building a house. When I got to the lake shore, I kneeled down and pulled the dishes out of the tub.

I figured I could wash the dishes, rinse them in the lake, then rinse out the tub. Despite my general lack of knowledge of the Old West, my plan didn’t work out too badly. I couldn’t get the plates as clean as I would have liked, but I figured they were cleaner than they’d been in a while.

After I had finished washing the dishes, I scrubbed on the tub for a minute before dumping the water out. I stacked the plates in the tub and carried them back to the house. I then took the plates out of the tub and stacked them on the shelf on top of the wood range.

Then I saw that the fire was slowly dying out. I added two more logs before I realized we were almost out of wood in the house. I sighed, rolling down my sleeves. My parents had lived in the country when I was younger, before I decided to try my hand at Denver. I didn’t do too bad, but I always hated collecting wood for the fire place.

As I opened the door, Newt stood there, acting surprised. “Newt.” I said, with a small nod.

“Ma’am.” He said, sliding his cowboy hat off his head. “Captain Call asked me to come see if you needed help with anything.”

“Um,” I said, thinking about it. “I suppose you could help me bring some wood in.” I said.

“Yes, ma’am.” He said, putting his hat back on his head. He turned the corner of the deck and picked an arm full of firewood, then walked around me. I grabbed another arm full and followed him into the house.

Without thinking about it, I had started humming. It was so hard for me to work without music, that sometimes I made my own music.

Newt stopped and looked around, like he heard something.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, suddenly worried.

“I heard a funny sound.” He said.

I looked at him oddly, then it donned on me. I hummed a few bars and he looked around wildly. I gave a little laugh as I took Newt’s arm full of wood. “I was humming, Newt. It’s ok.” I told him, setting his arm load in the corner.

“Ma’am, what’s humming?” He asked.

I turned to him, confused. “You don’t hum randomly?” I asked him.

“No, ma’am. Can’t say I do.” He said, suddenly looking uncomfortable.

“Oh, well.” I said. “It’s a noise you make. Like singing, but without the words.” I told him.

He just watched me. I hummed along with a radio that played in my head. He tilted his head to the side a little bit. “How do ya do that?”

I thought about it for a moment, not sure how to explain it. “Um, it’s like singing without opening your mouth.”

“I don’t reckon I sing much either.” He said, looking slightly embarrassed.

“Oh, Newt. That’s just fine.” I told him with a smile. “Not everybody does it. Like not everybody dances.” I said with a shrug.

“Don’t dance much neither.” He said.

I smiled at him and set my hand on his arm. “I could teach you if you’d like. After you’re done working for the day.” I said, as I saw Woodrow walking around outside the window.

He smiled a little. “I expect I’d like that very much.”

I smiled. “My little brother didn’t know how to dance either, but I taught him. And if I can teach him, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.”

He smiled and ducked his head, a little red starting in his cheeks. “Well, thank ya ma’am.” He said.

“I have to go talk to Woodrow.” I said, with one last smile in his direction as I left the cabin. Woodrow was on top of a brown and white paint. I wasn’t good with horses, but I at least could tell a buckskin from a paint or a dappled gray. “Captain, could I talk to you for a second?” I asked him.

“Suppose so.” He said, never looking down at me; always looking at the men or the forest or the lake.

“I have a request.” I said, which made him look down at me, but he didn’t say anything. “I was going to request that you let me stay in the barn and move your men back into the house.”

“Ain’t much heat in the barn for a lady.” He said, returning his gaze to above my head.

“I just need an extra blanket and I’ll be fine.” I told him. “I feel guilty for your men staying in the barn.”

“No need.” He said simply.

“Captain, would you mind maintaining eye contact with me for longer than a few seconds?” I asked, getting slightly irritated.

He sighed loudly then turned his gaze downwards to look me in the eye.

“Let me sleep in the barn.” I said.

“Can’t rightly do that.” He told me.

“Why am I fighting you for the drafty barn covered in straw?” I asked, gesturing to the structure to my left.

“Ain’t right for a lady to sleep in a place with no heat.” He told me.

“Captain Call. I’m a stranger you took into your home at a moment’s notice. The least I can do is give you back the cabin that has heat in it.” I said.

Woodrow shook his head and looked displeased. “Ain’t lettin’ ya stay in the barn if there ain’t heat there.” He said, then looked over at Dish, Newt and Pea Eye. “Dish, Pea Eye, saddle your horses. Best see if we can find Miss McCrae’s traveling companion. Newt, you’re in charge. Keep an eye on the Miss.” And Woodrow trotted off, up the hill to a patch of trees overlooking the other side of the hill.

Newt came to stand next to me.

“He’s an awful stubborn man.” I said, looking after Woodrow.

Newt nodded. “Yes, ma’am.”

I sighed. “Do you need help with anything?” I asked him.

“Uh, no ma’am. I just gotta fix the shoe on Jasper’s horse.” He said.

“Can I help with that?” I asked.

“If you’d like, ma’am.” He said.

I smiled, putting my arm around his elbow as he led the way to the barn. Right away, him and Jasper went to work taking off the old shoe, that had been bent by something and putting the new one on. When Newt and Jasper started, the horse started trying to move away.

“Hey, now. Shush.” I said as it made a noise. You could tell it was nervous.

“Thought you said you weren’t good with horses?” Jasper said.

“I don’t remember telling you that, Mr. Fant.” I said as I stroked the side of the horse’s neck.

“Well, I wasn’t… I didn’t…” He sputtered out.

“I’m not usually good with horses. I’m sure they can tell that they make me nervous.” I said, as the horse calmed down a bit.

“Well, Dixon doesn’t seem to make you nervous.” Newt said.

“Well, I’m not riding Dixon. I’m standing on the same ground as him.” I said, stroking his neck again.

“Why do horses make you nervous, ma’am?” Newt asked as he finished the shoe.

I shrugged. “Never rode them much except for a few summers when I was a kid.”

Jasper made a noise halfway between and cough and a laugh, making me look at him. “Never rode horses much.” He said. “What kinda person doesn’t ride horses?”

Jasper was starting to get on my nerves. And his voice was getting worse the more he talked. I crossed my arms in front of my chest and stood directly in front of him. “Me, that’s who. Do you have a problem with that, Mr. Fant?” I asked.

Jasper began sputtering an apology that meant nothing. Newt stood up, pointing his finger at Jasper and opening his mouth to come to my rescue.

I held my hand up to stop Jasper and he looked uncomfortable as Newt stalled in his surge forward. “I see you normally get away with being indirectly rude. That’s fine. But you point that attitude in my direction again, I’ll box your nose so fast, you won’t feel it ‘til you hit the ground. Am I understood?”

Jasper now looked thoroughly embarrassed as Needle came to stand near us. “Yes, ma’am.” He said quietly as he tipped his hat.

Newt had a funny smile on his face.

“How about lunch? It’s probably time for a little break.” I said, taking a glance around.

“Yes ma’am.” Newt said, holding his elbow out for me.

I smiled and took it as we led the group inside for lunch. We hadn’t eaten the whole pan of biscuits, so thankfully, I didn’t have to make more. But then we heated up ham and beans on the wood range. “How long do you think Captain Call will be gone?” I asked.

“Couple days, possible.” Needle Nelson said with a shrug.

I nodded. I felt bad with him wasting time and energy, looking for a man that wasn’t out there.

After lunch, the men went back to work. There wasn’t any food left over, so I didn’t have to figure out how to save it. I gathered the plates in the tub and took them back down the lake to wash them.

I finished with the dishes and tidying up the cabin by the time the boys called it quits for the day. Despite the chill that hung in the air from the overcast day, the boys were all sweaty and tired.

Newt came up to me and looked a little shy, wringing the brim of his hat. “Ma’am, if you don’t mind,” He said, pausing for a minute. “I think I’d like that lesson now.”

“What lesson?” Jasper barked, before shrinking at the look I gave him.

“Newt told me he didn’t know how to dance. So I said I’d show him. I’d show you too, if you don’t give me no lip.” I said.

Needle and Newt kind of chuckled as I stood and gestured for them to come outside. The cabin was too small for me to be showing these three guys the two step.

“Ok, Newt. Come here.” I said, standing in the dirt patch in front of the porch. He walked down the three steps to stand in front of me. “Alright, so I’m going to show you the moves first, ok?” I said, watching his face.

“Yes ma’am.” He said with a nod.

I smiled, coming around to his side. “Ok, so you need to watch your feet while you’re learning, but when we start dancing, if you watch your feet, you throw yourself off.” I said and he nodded.

“Ok. The first step you take is with your right leg, then you take two quick steps with your left.” I said, demonstrating the move. “Does that make sense?” I asked, watching his face.

He seemed mildly confused. “One step with the right, then two with the left.” He said, more to himself.

I showed him again and he looked less confused.

“Now you try.” I told him.

Three steps later, he turned to me. “Like that?” He said, looking wary.

I smiled. “That was perfect.” He smiled proudly as I told him to do it again and he did great. “Ok. Now normally the guy leads. Those three steps are to lead.” I said, coming around to face him. “So this hand goes here,” I said, moving his left hand to sit right above my hip. “And this hand holds mine.” I said, taking his right hand to hold mine. “Is that ok?” I asked, seeing as he looked uncomfortable.

“Yes ma’am.” Newt said, a hitch in his voice.

“When was the last time Newt was that close to a girl?” Jasper laughed, elbowing Needle, who shook his head.

“Jasper, she’s gonna box your ears and I’m gonna hold you for her.” Needle said.

Jasper’s eyes were downcast as he stopped talking.

I set my right hand on Newt’s shoulder. “So since you’re leading, it’s your job as a gentleman to make sure I don’t run into anything or trip on uneven ground.” I said with a little smile.

Newt nodded. Well, at least he’d catch me if I fell. That was always a good sign.

“Ok, so do you remember the steps?” I asked.

He nodded. “Right, left, left.” He said.

I smiled and gave a little nod. “On the count of three, alright?”

“What if I step on your toes?” He asked, looking down at his feet.

I moved my hand from his shoulder to under his chin to pull his gaze back to my eyes and gave him a little smile. “Don’t think about it. The more you think about it, the worse you’ll do. Concentrate on those three first steps, then don’t think about it.”

“But if I don’t think about it, how will I know I’m doing it right?” He asked, nervously.

I couldn’t help but smile at him. “Think about something else. The sunset, your horse, a happy time.” I told him.

He thought for a minute. “When I was little and Jake Spoon lived with us in Lonesome Dove, he used to take me into town and buy me hard candy.”

“See, that’s perfect. Think about that.” I said. “On three, ok?”

He nodded and took a breath.

“One, two, three.” I said slowly and his right foot moved forward, sending my left backwards. Then his left came forward expertly, moving my right backwards. Then he made me stumble when his right foot came back again.

“I’m so sorry, Miss McCrae.” He said.

I smiled at him. “Newt, don’t apologize. You did great for you first time. And call me Selene. Miss McCrae was my grandmother. Let’s try again, yeah?” I asked.

Reluctantly, he nodded and took my hand again.

“One, two, three.” I counted and he did the exact same thing. Right, left, right.

I could tell by the look on his face he was getting frustrated. “I ain’t cut for this dancin’ stuff.”

I shook my head. “Everyone’s made to dance. It’s just a little different for everybody. Were you thinking about Jake Spoon and the hard candy?”

He shook his head at me. “No ma’am.”

“Ok, well let’s try something else. Will you try one more time for me?” I asked, hoping to soothe his irritated nerves.

He nodded, looking sullen.

I started humming a few bars to a song that wouldn’t come out for nearly a hundred and thirty years. His eyes went a little blank as he listened to me hum. “Does that help?” I asked.

He looked up at me. “I think so.”

I smiled. “Ok, one more try. If it doesn’t work this time, you don’t have to do it anymore and at least I can say you tried.”

Newt nodded. “Yes ma’am.” He said, taking my hands.

“This time I’m just going to hum a song. You can start whenever you want to, alright?” I asked.

Jasper snorted from the porch and I let go of Newt’s hand to turn to the porch. The look of fear in Jasper’s eyes as he stumbled to stand up was real. But Newt grabbed my hand. “He ain’t worth it.” Newt said.

I glared at Jasper. “One more comment, Jasper. Say one more thing.” I told him.

Jasper nodded quickly as Needle tipped his hat to me.

Newt pulled me back to where we were standing in the dirt as the sun was starting to fade from the sky, casting a pretty red glow on everything.

I sighed, pretending to let go of the tension I could feel starting in my shoulders. “Whenever you want.” I said and thought for a minute what to hum for him.

Billy Currington’s ‘Let Me Down Easy’ was as good as anything, I figured. I started humming along with the words I heard in my head and watched as Newt’s eyes focused on something directly behind my left shoulder.

It took him a minute, but then his right leg moved forward and I moved my left. Then his left came forward and I tried my best to focus on the tune instead of where my feet were moving. Newt’s left leg slid forward again, making me take another step back with my right.

I kept with the tune of the song in my head and Newt went straight back to his right leg. We moved in a counter-clockwise circle twice before I stopped humming and beamed at him.

He looked at me, a little dazed. “What?” He asked.

“Newt! You just danced me in a circle!” I said excitedly.

“Twice.” Needle added with a smile, holding up two fingers to emphasize.

“Really?” Newt asked, looking very proud of himself.

“Really, really. You did great.” I said.

He just smiled at me, a little red creeping up his neck to his cheeks. He went to sit on the porch, ducking his head to probably try to hide the red.

“Ma’am, I think I’d like to try next, if that’s alright.” Needle said, before Jasper could open his mouth.

“Of course.” I said as he stood with a smile. “Do you understand it the way I explained it to Newt?”

“I think so, ma’am.” He said.

We practiced the right, left, left steps pretty quickly, then we got into position. “On the count of three, ok?” I asked and he nodded. “One, two, three.” I said, counting slowly.

He took off a little fast, not allowing me to move my foot and he ended up tripping me. I laughed two or three times before Needle and Newt picked me up off the ground.

“I am so sorry, Miss McCrae.” Needle said, looking almost pained.

I just smiled. “Oh, it’s not the first time I’ve landed in the dirt and certainly won’t be the last. And stop this Miss McCrae stuff. Please.”

“I really am sorry, ma’am.” He said.

“Needle. It’s ok. It was an accident.” I said, moving his hand to rest on my hip and taking his other hand in mine. “Let’s try again, just a touch slower. One, two, three.” I told him and he started much slower this time.

He had a difficult time moving fluidly. He’d take a step, then pause. And take a step, then pause. Which, of course, threw off my own timing.

Needle looked disappointed. I set my hand on his arm. “Hey, it’s ok. I have had much, much worse dance partners. You’re doing great. Just gotta smooth you out a bit.” I told him.

He nodded.

“How about dinner? I’m getting a bit hungry.” I said.

The boys followed me inside and Needle put the Dutch oven in the bed of coals to warm up.

“She don’t know how to make biscuits neither.” Jasper said, under his breath as he intently watched the wood grain.

“Then you make them, Jasper.” I told him.

“I’ll show ya how.” Newt said, putting two cups of beans in the pot to cook. He pulled out a bunch of ingredients from the little cabinet next to the wood range and set them on the table. He started with putting the dry ingredients in a bowl, then scraping up the bacon fat from that morning and working it through with his hands. Then he asked Jasper to go get some milk, to which he reluctantly agreed.

When Jasper came back with the milk, Newt added about a cup and worked it through with his hands. He then took a knife and cut the dough into squares and had Needle bring the Dutch oven over. With the Dutch oven on the table, Newt put the biscuits on the bottom of the pan and Needle replaced it in the fire place, putting a few coals on top of it with a shovel.

I watched the ham and beans as the boys excused themselves to the porch. I figured they’d be smoking and drinking, so I told them I’d call them when dinner was ready. I sat at the table, and for the first time in a day, thought about Gerry. Was time moving the same way there as it was here?

Was he worried about me? Was there any way I could get a message to him? I wondered if I went to the post office if they could deliver a letter in a hundred and thirty-six years. What would I tell him? I could just picture the letter I’d write.

“Gerry,” I said quietly to myself. “Wound up in 1877 on a cattle ranch in Montana. Two of the six guys here are decently attractive and I have no way to get home. Might want to refresh me on the returning home part, since we never actually went through all that. By the way, if you could talk me out of wearing my rocker t-shirt and my neon converse, that’d help me out incredibly. P.S., seriously need to tell me how the frick to get back.” I laughed at myself as I stood to check the biscuits.

Almost done, but still needed a few more minutes.

I tried to imagine Gerry’s reaction to my imaginary letter as I sat back down. He’d look over at me from the other side of the couch with this look of awe on his face. Then he’d beam so big, you’d think his teeth would break and he’d explain every single way you could get back if you’d successfully time traveled. I’d just look at him like he was crazy.

Because, time travel? Really? This was real life, not a science fiction book. But as I thought about it; my life had suddenly become a Western, instead of a sci-fi book. And who figured I’d end up in a Western of all things?

Sci-fi or fantasy. Hell, a hopeless romance book where the guy dies at the end was more realistic then me ending up in a Western.

I shook my head, wondering how I was going to explain this to Gerry if I got back. Sadness washed over me. If, if I got back.

But I was broke from my thoughts as something crashed outside. I rushed to the door, yanking it open, to see Newt and Jasper wrestling on the ground. Needle stood, leaning on the support beam. “What the hell are they doing?” I asked.

“Fightin’, I reckon.” He said.

“Why?” I asked, confused.

Needle shrugged, but I could tell that he knew. “Best just let them work it out.” He said as Jasper nailed Newt in the jaw.

My hands covered my mouth. “They’re just going to beat the living shit out of each other?” I asked.

Needle ducked his head. “It’s the only way they work things out, ma’am. Probably best if you go back in the cabin.”

But I couldn’t. It was like watching a car wreck. I couldn’t look away from them. Newt got on his feet and sucker punched Jasper, knocking him back over.

It took another five minutes before they finally stopped, both panting and struggling to stand.

I couldn’t stand back anymore. I rushed over to Newt and took his face in my hands. “Newt. What on earth are you doing fighting Jasper?” I asked, looking over the cuts and bruises beginning to form.

Newt winced as my hand touched his face. “He wasn’t being a gentleman.”

“So you punched him?” I asked, still confused.

“Jasper started it. Newt just finished it.” Needle said from the porch.

“He hit me first.” Jasper squeaked.

“He may have, but you started it.” Needle said and I saw the pointed look he gave Jasper.

Newt’s lip was cut, as was a section near his nose and he had a bruise starting on his cheek and around his eye. Jasper’s eye looked like it was starting to swell shut, and his lip was split in two places, along with a bruise on his cheek.

I shook my head. “I don’t think anything was worth getting beat up this bad.” I told Newt, not worrying too much about Jasper right now.

Newt stood a little straighter and looked me dead in the eye. “Yes, ma’am. It was worth every punch I threw.” He said, with dead conviction.

I swallowed, wondering now if I really wanted to know what it was about or not. “If you say so, Newt.” I told him quietly. “Come inside and we’ll clean those cuts.” I said, laying his arm across my shoulders. “Needle, will you bring in Jasper?” I asked.

He nodding, roughly dragging Jasper up the steps.

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