The town seemed quiet as the young woman rode into town. She glanced around and noted the wary gazes men and women were giving her as she rode along.
She shrugged. Nothing new there. It wasn't like she looked approachable.
Although a young woman, she disdained the normal feminine attire of a dress and corsets and bonnets. Instead she opted for a white shirt, deerskin pants and matching jacket. A hat of the same material was pulled down low but not low enough to hide the quicksilver hazel eyes that peered out watching anything and anyone that moved.
Spotting the saloon she reined her horse in and dismounted.
She pulled off her hat and let her shoulder length light brown hair fall loose around her shoulders. Shaking it for a second she ignored admiring glances from some of the men standing nearby. Not that she was arrogant or anything just that she knew better. Those kind men would admire anything with curves in all the right places.
Returning the hat to her head she glanced skyward and nodded to herself. She then walked into the saloon.
As she did so she nearly ran into a man who had soaking wet shoulders and head. She sniffed and smelled the familiar aroma of brandy. With a shake of her head she shoved him aside. "Drunk," She muttered to herself before continuing on inside.
She marched up to the bartender and pulled her hat off.
"Excuse me." She said calmly.
He ignored her.
She rolled her eyes and muttered. "Oh no, not another idoit." She sighed.
Removed her hat and tossed it on the bar next to her then being of an extremly petite statue stretched up. Grabbed the bartender by the throat and hauled him down almost flat against the bar and stared into his face.
"Excuse me, maybe you didn't hear me?" She said lowly.
"Yes, ma'am..." He managed gasping.
"I'm lookin' for a young woman. She's got long braids, glasses and an attitude twice her size, Seen her?"
"Yes ma'am," He pointed. "She just left not to long ago."
The woman released him and snatched up her hat. She then turned and strode out the door.
Elixir watched her go, a worried look in her eyes.
"Sounds like she's looking for your friend Nutmeg," JD noted." Sure hope Nutmeg can handle her."
Elixir smiled. "She can."
Nutmeg was standing in the stables when she heard the sounds of a scuffle. Moving to the door she watched as a pretty young woman pushed a burly man twice her size away.
"Get your filthy paws off me!" She snapped, her hazel eyes flashing sparks.
"Ah, come on darlin' I was jus' havin' a little fun!" He complained.
"Unfortunately I wasn't and for what you had in mind it takes two people who want to have fun. Sorry tubby, you're not my type." She sneered.
"Why you little..." He muttered going for his gun.
She didn't move. She wore a hip holster but she never reached for her gun. She didn't need to. For as the man raised his gun a blur of brown feathers came screaming down out of the sky headed straight for his face.
The man yelled and dropped his gun and raised his arms to protect himself.
The young woman whistled softly and wearing a long leather glove on one arm reached out and the hawk flew to perch on her arm.
"Have a nice day," She said to the man who was kneeling down his arms covering his face.
She turned and spotted Nutmeg standing half in the shadows of the stable door.
"Excuse me," she called. "I'm looking for a young woman named Nutmeg, have you seen her?"
Nutmeg stared at this young woman trying to pin down the familiar face. Suddenly she remembered and a huge smile crossed her face. "Every mornin' when I look in the mirror." She called back.
A matching smile dawned on the young woman's features and she walked forward to hug the younger woman.
" 'Meg, it's been to long. Do have any idea how long I've been lookin' for you. Looks like you got yourself in a whole heap o'trouble this time."
Nutmeg grinned at the other woman. "You noticed?"
The older woman laughed. "Thought I heard something. 'Bout you and some other girl went an' killed three men?"
Nutmeg's face darkened and she filled her friend in on the whole story. By the time she was finished the other woman's face was as equally angry and furious. "I knew something bad had happened to him." She said, referring to Nutmeg's old Native friend.
"Honey, if you hadn't killed those men I would have. I'm glad you're in one piece. But honestly this town is too dangerous for you to be here."
"Well, I've been travelling in these parts for a month now and I've heard that some federal judge's travelling through every few months to do trials and the like. Anyway he hired some gunslingers to enforce the law around here. From what I've heard they're good."
Nutmeg shrugged. "Maybe so but Elixir and I've got some business that needs takin' care of."
The other woman released the hawk into the air and turned to face her friend. She stared into the younger woman's eyes and Nutmeg got that shivery feeling she always felt when her friend did this. It was as if Nutmeg's very soul was laid bare for the other woman to examine.
She shifted uncomfortably and waited. Finally the other woman nodded. "All right. If you say so. But I think that now that I've found you I'd better stick close, keep you in one piece and out of the law's hands."
Nutmeg nodded. "All right. It's good to see you again pard," She said with a smile.
"Very good. Now come on, I've got a yen for a nice cold glass of something sharp."
When they walked into the saloon again Nutmeg came face to face with a very angry Southerner. "My dear girl, you have been the cause of a great deal of discomfort on my part!" He snapped angrily.
Nutmeg's companion pulled her close and whispered. "What the hell did you do this time?"
"Caught him cheatin' at cards," Nutmeg answered in an equally soft whisper.
The other woman sighed and grinned. "You and I are entirely to much alike pard,"
"And that's a bad thing?"
"For you yeah, it'll get ya in a world of trouble."
Nutmeg nodded towards Ezra. "To late."
The woman stepped forward. "Excuse me."
Ezra stepped back and adjusted his collar. "If I ignore you will you try to choke me?"
The woman sighed. "I wasn't tryin' to choke him. I was...getting his attention."
"Well you did that in spades." Ezra countered.
Nutmeg looked at her friend. "Why do I get the feeling I missed quite a show?" She murmured to the elder woman.
"Long story," She called back.
"I'll bet." Nutmeg muttered.
Elixir walked over. "Who's that?" She said with a nod in the other woman's direction.
"An old friend. Trust me. She's here to help." Nutmeg responded.
Lixie just nodded.
"It's come to my attention that my friend here may have caused you some trouble."
"Some?" Ezra said skeptically.
"All right...A lot of trouble. But surely you've been caught before?" Ezra nodded. "And in this town, right?" She pressed.
Looking a little guilty he nodded.
"And you're still breathing, so where's the problem? You've still got your money and it's not like you were ever in any *real* danger now was it?" She continued.
Ezra looked skeptical again. "Oh really, how's that?"
She nodded towards Chris and Josiah. "Your friends over there. They've been watching us ever since we started talkin' and I doubt it's because of my figure." She grinned saucily as Ezra's face reddened. "No, they seem much more concerned with your safety than my figure."
Ezra nodded. "A very convincing arguement my dear. I am Ezra Standish, might I inquire of your name?"
The woman opened her mouth to answer but was cut off by Vin Tanner's voice.
"Marianne?" He stood in the doorway looking more shocked than any of the seven had ever seen him.
Marianne smiled brightly at the handsome ex-bounty hunter. "Hey Vin,"
she said calmly.
To be continued...
to Dust Trails