THREE MONTHS LATER
I looked up from beneath my Stetson and gazed upon the most perfect man I had ever seen. He ordered his whiskey and as he waited for it, he slouched slightly and seemed to analyze the people in the saloon. His piercing grey eyes held their attention on the man playing the piano in the corner. His fingers began to twitch upon the counter and he seemed to be holding back a smile while he listened. His scruffy beard and shoulder length hair were a deep shade of chestnut brown, yet the light from the lamps made it seem almost like it had different hues in it. He was a truly beautiful man, if one could say such a thing. I shouldn’t be staring at him since he seemed like such a curious soul, but I couldn’t stop myself. Something drew me to him and wouldn’t let me go. I stood up slowly, paid and left the saloon as quickly as I could without his attention turning to me.
I made my way towards the livery, where Beauty was waiting for me happily as always. As soon as I mounted her, we rode out onto the busy main street and found our way to the room I rented a short ride away. I didn’t live with Mama and Rosemary, just visited as much as I could when I had enough time off of work. It was rare to have those moments with them, so I cherished them as much as I could. Mama needed all the help I could give her and Rosemary was the sweetest child. I did not want to miss out on any time I could have with them, but tonight I would need to sleep in my room since work began too early tomorrow. I was inside but only a few minutes when I heard a knock on the door. Who the hell could that be? Thank heavens I had not completely undressed yet. I grabbed my boots and my hat and wore them quickly. I opened the door to find the handsome stranger from the bar.
“Can I help you?”
I tried not to let my voice quiver, he towered over me, making me feel so small. He tipped his hat and gave me a pamphlet. I tried my best to stifle my shock.
“You know where I can find this woman?”
I shook my head, maybe a bit too violently.
I shook it again and added,
“I thought she looked familiar but she isn’t.”
He nodded, thanked me and left. As I closed the door behind me, I slumped down and starting shaking. He had found me.
I rode Beauty as fast as she could go until my home came into view. As soon as I tied her to the post, I ran to find them inside. I wasn’t thinking after the man had come knocking, he was beautiful but he was now a danger to them. My husband had probably paid him well to find us and find us he did, he just didn’t recognize me. I pushed the door open quickly and walked inside. This time I didn’t bother to change out of my clothes and make myself into the woman Rosemary would recognize. I walked to the bedroom where they slept peacefully and watched them both as their chests rose and fell with each breath. I swore under my breath and it was enough to wake Mama with a start. She was a quick old woman, grabbing for the revolver under her pillow and aiming it right at my face. I pushed it down slowly and smiled.
She got out of bed and we sat at the kitchen table.
“Someone in town is asking about me.”
She nodded and knew what it meant. Her daughter and grand daughter were no longer safe. I saw Mama’s eyes well up with tears, I put my hand on hers to try and reassure her. I didn’t want to run again, Rosemary deserved a chance to live a normal life.
“I think it’s the best thing for everyone.”
As soon as the words left my mouth I was holding back the tears myself. I couldn’t believe it had to come to this. I didn’t want him to win, if he wanted to chase me as long as I breathed I would allow it happily if it meant distracting him from finding Rosemary. I had to leave and this time I would be leaving alone. I just needed to know that the man back in town didn’t know what my daughter looked like. I needed to be sure that if I left, he would leave with me and me alone. I had an idea, I just didn’t know if it would work.