Chapter 53 What Am I Bid?
After the plans were set for tonight's celebration at the saloon, Beau left the office upstairs and went down to see Georgia. Bart was free; Rusty Meyers was dead; all the awful things that happened to the Mavericks in this town were over. Time for something good. He hoped.
Georgia was in her office checking last night's receipts. Not too bad considering they'd closed the saloon early due to the anticipated event scheduled for today. Tonight would be worse; everything was on the house. Not often your best friend gets a 'last minute stay of execution.' She didn't care. They'd made enough profits in the last few weeks to pay for anything they wanted. She looked up when she sensed someone at the door.
It was Beau, looking tense. "May I come in?" he asked formally.
"Of course. What's on your mind?"
He closed her office door and took a seat in front of her desk. "So, Bart's free."
"Yes," she answered slowly.
"Meyers is dead."
"Nothing bad to contend with."
"Good. There's something I've wanted to talk to you about."
She looked at him, puzzled. The only thing he'd wanted to talk to her about – surely this couldn't be that, could it? "Yes?"
He sat forward and leaned on the front of her desk. He was very serious. "Georgia Mayfield, I think you know that I love you. I would be more than honored if you would marry me. Will you, please?"
She had every intention of saying no. She had made up her mind to say no. Every ounce of her being was screaming "NO NO NO NO." But what came out of her mouth was "Yes."
Beau sat there and stared at her. "Yes? You said yes?"
Once again. "Yes."
He couldn't get out of the chair and around the desk fast enough. Then she was in his arms and they kissed sweetly, tenderly, then passionately. He finally backed away from her. "I have a ring for you. It was my mother's. It's in Texas. I'll send for it."
"Beau – let's not tell anyone just yet. Let it be our secret for a few days. Is that alright with you?"
"Whatever you want, Georgia. Anything is fine with me. As long as you're happy."
"Thank you. I need time to talk to Jody."
"She knows I was going to ask you."
"She's still my daughter. I want to talk to her. After the party tonight."
Bret stopped by Bart's room around nine o'clock to see if he needed help getting down to the saloon. He knocked on the door and there was no answer. He knocked again. Still no response. Now what?
'Don't panic, Bret,' he told himself. 'Go see if he's in the dining room having a late supper.' So down the stairs he went, searching for his brother. He found Bart sitting at a table by himself, head in his hands, with a cold cup of coffee sitting next to him. He pulled out a chair and sat down. Bart looked up, startled to see him.
"Brother Bart, you're not ready to go." Bart had on the same clothes that he was wearing this morning.
Bart's eyes were bloodshot and he groaned weakly. "I'm not going."
"Why not?" Bret wasn't going to ask about the bloodshot eyes. He'd had those himself, a few weeks back.
"I have a splitting headache." He realized the implication of his statement and hurriedly added, "Just a regular headache."
"Anything to do with your eyes?"
"What? Probably. I assume an explanation is not required."
A shake of the head. "No sir, no explanation required." Pause. "But you have to go. You're the guest of honor."
Bart chuckled, not in a happy way. "More like the guest of dishonor."
"Why, because you finally reacted to everything that's happened?"
"Is that what it was?" He hadn't felt like this since – well, in a long time.
"Bart, you're human. I never could have held it together like you did."
"No. You've been in your fair share of tight spots."
"Not like that."
"So what's my excuse now? It's over and done with. Pike's dead. Meyers's dead. Pete Sanborn's dead. I'm not. Why now? Am I still falling apart? What do I do now?"
Bret needed to say something to get his brother out of the state of mind he'd found himself in. "You're doing it. You're going to visit Samantha and the ranch. There's nothing to do there but relax and heal. By the time you're back at full strength your mind will be too."
"What about the nightmares?"
"Are they back?"
"Oh yeah. That's how I got these." Bart pointed to his eyes.
"You've had them before, haven't you?"
"After you lost - "
"Yes." Bart cut him off before he could say her name.
"But they went away, didn't they?"
Bart had to think about that for a minute but realized they had, once he'd gotten his head on straight. Maybe that's all he needed. Maybe Bret was right. "Have any more aspirin left in your room?"
Bret clapped him on the arm. "That's my boy. Let's go get aspirin and get you dressed."
Bret cornered Jody at the party after he got Bart dressed and down to the saloon. "I'd like to talk to you, Missy," he told her.
"Yes sir," she answered. She went behind the bar and got out a whiskey crate and stood on it. She almost reached Bret's chin. "What can I do for you?"
He picked her up and put her back on the floor, then took her hand and led her into Beau's upstairs office. "This is serious. I want to talk business."
"With me?" What would Bret have to talk to her about?
"Yes ma'am. I know that Bart gave you his share of 'The Three Mavericks.' I've got a proposition for you."
So Bart had told Brother Bret about his generosity? Did he want Bart's share of the business?
"I'd like to sell you my share of the saloon, too. The only stipulation is that you'll sell it back to me if I ever come back and want back in, and you'll let me run the high stakes poker table again."
Uh-huh. There had to be a catch to all this. Where was the catch? "And just how much do you want to sell me your share for?"
She waited with baited breath to see what kind of an asking price he wanted. Probably out of her reach but she was listening all the same. "One dollar."
She must have heard him wrong. "How much?"
"That's what I thought you said. Why?"
"Look, Jody, I know we haven't gotten as close as you and Bart, or even you and Beau. Someday I'm gonna want to settle down and stay in one place and this gives me a back-up. Just in case that day comes sooner rather than later. Besides, I know what good care you took of Bart. He always wanted a sister and now he's got one. I don't think he'd have made it through all this without your help. Your help and your love and your support. And Beau's gonna need a partner. Somebody with a good head on their shoulders and somebody who will call him on his 'stuff' if he gets out of line. Bart trusts you; so do I. Do we have a deal?"
Her admiration for Bart's brother was growing rapidly. She stuck out her hand to shake his. "Yes sir, we have a deal."
Bret grinned a Maverick grin. "Looks like we're keepin' the business in the family."