Jackie woke up smelling smoke. She sat up and looked around the room. She gasped. Her room was filled with smoke and there was fire surrounding her room. She suddenly felt dizzy as the smoke filled her lungs. I've gotta get out of here. But the smoke was too much. She stumbled into a wall and hit her head on a shelve. Jacqueline's vision blurred until blackness surrounded her.
Chris gulped down another shot of whiskey. This seemed to be the routine for him lately. No bad guys lately, just a kid on the way. He hadn't even looked at Miss Jacqueline Quinn since he found out. It was too painful. But sometime he'd run into her. . . what then? He thought until his head started to ache.
He looked around, Ezra at the card table, Buck charming a lady, JD trying to get a lady to look at him, and Vin silently sitting at a table. Everything seemed the same but, it didn't feel like the care-free days in Four Corners.
Chris smelled something in the air. Suddenly the images of Sarah and Adam flashed before his eyes. Smoke. Chris jumped up. Buck looked over concerned at his friend.
"Do you smell smoke?" Chris asked quickly.
Vin stood up from his table started to run for the door. Chris and the others followed after him. Suddenly the men spotted the hotel up in flames. They had engulfed the hotel and clouds of smoke were surrounding the hotel.
Mary Travis ran over by Chris's side to watch the doomed hotel. Henry, the hotel manager, ran over to Mary.
"Everyone is accounted for Ms. Travis. . . except..." he frantically gasped for air from running to check on everyone.
"Except???" Chris demanded harshly.
"Except for Miss Quinn, sir," he managed.
Ezra who had come up behind Chris looked frantically at the burning building for a sign of Jacqueline. Chris stared at the fire. A scene of Sarah and Adam flashed by his eyes.
Sarah was dressed in a regular prairie dress and was gleefully laughing and Adam was running around laughing. Suddenly Sarah turned to Chris with horrified look on her face she opened her mouth in a silent scream. Suddenly Adam also turned toward him with a look of hurt and terror. He opened his mouth and scream ‘Daddy save us.' Then fire shot up and consumed his family.
Chris started to panic. He ran toward the burning building followed by Ezra and Buck. Chris frantically looked at the burning building yet all he could hear was Adam screaming ‘Daddy save us.'
No I can't let it happen again. Chris let out a yelp as he ran through the burning hotel. He could hear shouts from Buck in the background for him get out, but he kept racing forward. The flames danced all around him as the smoke smothered him.
He gasped for air that wasn't there as he searched for Jackie. Finally he saw a glimpse of Sarah's emerald necklace that she had given Jacqueline. He ran toward the emeralds and found Jacqueline slumped on the floor surrounded by flames. Grasping the girl as fast as he could he felt the fire burning at his arms, but it didn't stop him.
He ran towards the light and into the fresh air. Buck sighed a
sigh of relief and wiped a tear of joy before anyone could see the scoundrel's
"Are you leaving something out Jac?" Buck asked patiently.
Jacqueline glanced to the saloon where Josh stood watching her like
a hawk. He had almost killed her, and she wasn't going through that
again. "Ok, Buck let me scan my brain and come up with a random name
that I've never heard of. . .and figure out who mistakenly burnt down the
Chris slammed his fist down on the table where Jackie and Buck sat. "Damn it Jacqueline, it wasn't an accident!"
"Mr. Larabee, would you kindly lower your voice and stop the foul language for a mere second. Miss Quinn, if you can remember. . .was almost killed last week, and probably doesn't need your, how can I say...unpleasant attitude," Ezra warned.
As the tense silence fell over the crowd, Jackie glanced over by the
saloon again and saw Josh gone. "Well boys, I'll have to excuse myself
from this happy meeting," she quickly said as she left for the church to
find some peace with God.
The stagecoach pulled into Four Corners around noon. Josiah glanced over to see the top piled with luggage. At that moment Four Corners knew Maude Standish had arrived.
"Mother, the news?" Ezra impatiently asked.
Maude smiled at the boy. At least to her he was a boy. He had helped her put her ‘luggage' away and had gotten her a drink and a bite to eat. Yet every couple of minutes he'd ask her what news she had for him.
She sighed. "Alright, alright Ezra. Now sit down and listen to me."
Ezra sat in a wooden chair placed right by the bed. "How long is this news going to take, Mother? I do have an appointment set to play cards with a couple of individuals."
"Not long, just listen. Awhile after you were born I met a rich man while I was performing a con in New Orleans. Well, lets just say we like each other."
"Mother, why are you telling me this? I thought you had news, not some past romance story that I'd rather not hear," Ezra interrupted.
"Ezra, you have a sister. You never knew about her because after she was born her father, the rich New Orleans man, took her away claiming I was not fit to raise her. So he took her and moved to a place called Kittaning, I think. Supposedly he died when she was just a young child, and I've been looking for her since," Maude sighed after letting go her past secret.
"So mother, why are you telling me this now?" Ezra asked. He had heard someone mention Kittaning before, but couldn't remember who mentioned it.
"Recently you wrote to me that you befriended a young woman."
"Yes, Miss Quinn," Ezra said with an uneasy feeling.
"Ezra, the man's name was Jonathon Quinn. Jacqueline is your sister."
Jackie clutched her aching head. She couldn't think. She knew her choices were limited. Either she could stay in Four Corners and live with the threat of Joshua Thomas or she could tell the seven men who protected the town about his un-wanted presence. But on the other hand, she could run away from Josh. She was good at running. Hell, Chris never seemed interested in his un-born child, so why stay?
Suddenly she heard a voice that sounded familiar. She turned to
see a blonde woman calling after Ezra as he stomped off towards the saloon.
Hm, where have I heard that voice before? She glanced at the
woman's face again.
Finally an old picture of her mother that her father showed her when she was five. She smiled and walked towards the woman.
Maude paced back and forth trying to tell Josiah and Buck Wilmington why they should be worried about Ezra. But she left out the fact that her son had feelings for his half-sister before he knew they were related.
Buck laughed at the sight of Maude Standish fretting over Ezra drinking. "Now, Ms. Standish, I'm sure lil' Ezra is a big boy, and won't get too awful drunk."
Maude flashed an angry look at both of the men before seeing a young woman coming straight for them. The girl's long dark brown hair was tied up, and her brown eyes had a familiar gleam to them.
"Hey Jac," Buck greeted with a smile.
The girl flashed a small smile to the man before addressing Maude. "Excuse me for being up-front but, are you Maude Standish?"
Maude looked at the ground before looking the girl in the eyes. The gleam in her eyes reminded Maude of Ezra's eyes, when he was happy.
"Yes, I am Jacqueline." She choked back a sob before embracing the girl. "Oh my god, I thought I'd never find you!" She held onto the girl tightly as if she was going to disappear.
Meanwhile Buck and Josiah exchanged confused looks before Maude stepped back and let Jacqueline go. Jackie wiped the tears from her eyes before answering the two men. "Buck, Josiah, this is my mother," she softly said.
"Mother?!?" Buck and Josiah exclaimed in unison.
"But," Buck stammered, "that means. . ."
"Yes," Maude quickly stated, "Jacqueline is Ezra's sister."
Jackie's eyes widened, she never thought of it before. She knew her mother's last name was Standish, but didn't think of it when she met Ezra. Though Ezra and her were only friends, it seemed strange that they were related.
Buck glanced at Jackie before shaking his head in disbelief and heading
for the saloon.
Ezra set his shot glass down and rubbed his eye with the heel of his hand. He felt disgusted with himself, for feeling the way he did about Jacqueline. He also was angry at his mother, for not telling him this sooner. If she would have told me sooner, none of this would have happened, he thought. But he knew she did what she thought was best for him. Ezra sighed and filled the glass with more whiskey. He knew he was drunk now, but he didn't care.
Buck walked into the saloon and sat down by Ezra. He ordered some whiskey and silently watched Ezra for awhile. Ezra kept his gaze ahead of him as he soaked up his bottle of whiskey. "Hey Ezra," he said with a puzzled note in his voice.
"Mr. Wilmington, I'd appreciate it if you'd let me be," Ezra said, clearly irritated by Buck's presence.
"Wait, Ezra, just one question. . .why were ya so upset about Jackie being your sister? I mean she's a good girl and all. Unless. . ."
"Mr. Wilmington, exactly what are you attempting to suggest?"
"Well, Ezra, I just was thinking on why someone would act that way. I think you liked her."
Ezra's face hardened warning Buck to stop ridiculing him.
"C'mon Ezra, ya know you did. I mean it's not bad ‘cause ya didn't know and all. But ya had too, don't ya?" he said with a grin on his face. Sure this was a sensitive subject, but Buck liked to heckle everyone. Everyone knew that, but Ezra was just not in the mood.
Ezra's hand tightened around his shot glass. "Mr. Wilmington, I'm not in the mood."
Buck's laugh echoed throughout the saloon. Finally Ezra smashed down his shot glass, shattering it. He grabbed Buck by the collar and slammed him into the bar of the saloon so fast Buck didn't know what hit him. Before he could do anything else to Buck, Ezra heard someone behind him.
"Ezra, I think you should let go of Buck now."
Ezra let go of Buck and turned and faced Chris. In a split second, for no apparent reason, Ezra attacked Chris with a left jab. Chris fell back in disbelief at what the gambler had just did. "You think can just go around impregnating women, and pretend like nothing happened! Don't you have any decency?" Ezra yelled at Chris as he punched Larabee in the face again. Chris then grabbed Ezra and pushed him into the bar only a couple of inches from where Buck sat on the floor in disbelief.
"I don't know what the hell you are talking about," Chris said in a low voice so only Ezra could hear.
Ezra's face filled with rage as he pushed Chris back into a table near
by. Chris hit the table the wrong way and it tipped causing both
men to fall. Ezra was on top of Chris and put his hands around his
neck, strangling him. Chris gasped for breath. Suddenly Ezra
felt something hard smack him over the head. He fell to the ground.
Before he went unconscious he heard Buck's voice saying, "Dammit JD! What
have I told you? Never hit anyone with the butt of your gun!
It might misfire!"
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