Last Chance

by Fastdancr

Chapter 6: A story unfolds and a trick is played…
Buck hissed at the pain when his shoulder hit the back wall of the jail cell after being tossed into it. Ezra argued that his friend needed a doctor but then he had remembered this town didn’t have one. He also sadly remembered why. The gunslingers meanwhile had laughed and simply walked away, shutting the door to the outer office behind them.

Buck was sitting on the only cot in the cell with his back slouched against the wall. His eyes were glassy and beads of perspiration were running down the sides of his face as he tried to ignore the searing pain in his shoulder. Ezra walked over to examine his friend’s wound.

They should’ve taken Nathan along on this trip. The only thing the gambler could ascertain was the bullet had gone through which was a good thing. Now they needed to find some way to stop the bleeding.

“There’s blood in the street. Someone’s obviously hurt” a girl’s voice screamed as she tried to reason with the mindless idiots blocking her way toward the jail cells. Buck and Ezra instantly recognized the voice. “I’m not leaving till you let me see them” she growled. She had enough of these men and who they worked for.

Surprisingly, the men let her pass. They knew they would be dead already if looks could kill. Serena pushed past them with a menacing glare as she opened the door to the jail cells, letting it loudly slam shut behind her. In her hand was a small bag; its outside cover embroidered with different designs in all colors imaginable.

Buck was still sitting against the wall on the cot and his breathing had become labored. He bent forward a little so she could examine the bullet’s exit wound.

She handed Ezra her bag and he began removing the contents it held inside. There were a few bottles along with white bandages and tape.

“You’ll need to take off your shirt” Carefully Buck complied and she helped him take it off so he wouldn’t have to move his aggravated shoulder any more than necessary.

“You’re a doctor too?” Buck asked looking up at Serena as she looked closer at his wounded left shoulder. She subtly nodded, keeping her eyes on the task at hand.

“My father was. He taught me everything he knew” she said, beginning to tell the tale she was about to start when they had been sitting in the saloon earlier. “He was the only doctor this town had” she glanced briefly at the tall ladies man before she pointed to one of the bottles and Ezra handed it to her along with a few of the bandages.

“What happened?” Buck asked quietly. He wondered if he really wanted to know. She sighed and sat down beside him as she opened the bottle in her hand and laid a small bandage across her lap.

“The hired guns have been here about six months” she explained as she took the bandage from her lap and put it over the top of the bottle, then gently turned the bottle slightly upside down. “Glendale owns the mines, the saloon, and just about everything else in town” she put the cap back on top of the bottle and handed it to Ezra “This may sting but it will clean the wound. The other bottle I will leave with you. Its laudanum for the pain” she explained as she pushed the wet bandage against Buck’s exposed shoulder.

He tried not to make any noise except a sharp intake of air. “Sorry” she smiled apologetically as she continued to dress the bullet wound. “Anyway Preston decided one day that I should work in his saloon and make money for him. I told him never and my father had told him the same” her voice was almost a whisper by the end of her statement and she continued to stare at Buck’s shoulder.

She looked up only to point to the other bandages and tape. Ezra handed them to her, noticing she was trying her best to blink back suppressed tears. This wasn’t an easy story for her to tell and one she wouldn’t ever forget. She bit her lower lip as she took the bandages and tape and turned her attention to Buck’s shoulder.

“It would seem a few months ago, the esteemed Mr. Glendale became impatient with our young friend and her father’s rejection to his proposal.” Ezra continued hesitantly until she smiled gratefully. It was hard enough telling the story to the gambler that she really didn’t want to explain it again. “Shortly thereafter a brawl had broken out between the miners and their overseers. Invariably there were injuries on both sides and Mr. Hunter had traveled to heal them”

Buck looked from Ezra to the girl. He leaned back, closing his eyes. He knew what was coming next. It was obvious the only person standing in Glendale’s way of the money Serena might make for him was her father.

“He never came back that day” Serena’s voice cracked slightly as she finished bandaging up the wound. Only a little blood had seeped through. “Glendale told me later they shot him because he refused to help take care of the hired guns that were hurt”

“But you don’t believe him” Buck finished. He didn’t believe the explanation either. Serena shook her head as she began to tie the rest of the long bandages together to make a temporary sling. “Well one thing’s for certain… we’re going to get out of here and wire the others”

Serena shook her head as she stood up from the cot “You can’t send a telegraph from here. The wires have been cut”

Buck and Ezra exchanged glances. Their luck wasn’t changing for the better.

“I have an idea” the girl said, a sudden spark coming to her blue eyes. “I’ll be back in a few hours” she said with a wave of determination and a bit of nervousness. Buck slipped the sling on and she adjusted it before gathering up the rest of her supplies and walking out the door before anyone had the chance to change her mind.


As promised, she returned a few hours later. She knocked softly on the closed door to the sheriff’s office and smiled sweetly as one of the burly men answered with a permanent scowl on his face. In her hands was a tray with two bowls of steaming broth and a few biscuits. There was also a bottle of whiskey.

She carried the tray to the desk and set it down before turning to the two men standing in the room with her. She picked up the whiskey bottle “I figured you might be running out” she sent them an innocent smile as she handed one of them the bottle of liquor.

The man holding the bottle of whiskey looked at it skeptically while the other looked under the bowls of soup, plate of biscuits, and finally underneath the tray to make sure nothing had been taped underneath it. Satisfied that it was safe enough, they opened the door and watched as she walked into the jail cell.

Serena felt their eyes on her as she set the tray down on the cot between the two men. She checked Buck’s shoulder then moved to stand in front of Ezra. The gunmen were still watching them from the doorway.

“It’s not much” she nodded her head toward the food “But its good enough for tonight” a small conspiratorial smile twitched at the corners of her lips. She moved her hand just enough for a folded slip of paper to slide down from her wrist under the sleeve of her dress.

“Thank you, my dear” Ezra replied, taking her hand that held the note and kissed the back of it. She squeezed his hand and released the note. The gambler had long since mastered the technique of slight of hand and the folded note was gone before the saloon girl had even realized it.

“Goodnight” she whispered with a wink and quickly walked out the door of their jail cell. Moments later, the door to the outer office shut as well.

Chapter 7: Time to escape…

Buck rolled his eyes at his friend always having to be the perfect gentleman. Ezra grinned mischievously like a child who had a secret. As the ladies man reached for one of the hot bowls of soup, the gambler unfolded the note he had been given. Buck raised a suspicious eyebrow as he watched the former conman. He had missed the entire exchange.

“How?” the ladies man asked “When?” he looked from the gambler to the cell door and shook his head.

“The hand is indeed quicker than the eye. It would you serve you well to remember that” Ezra couldn’t resist annoying the mustached man. Buck glared at him over his soup. Ezra finished unfolding the note and a long sharp hairpin was taped to the top of it. Curious, he quickly read what was written inside.


I have given your guards a bottle of whiskey only it’s no ordinary bottle of whiskey! Hopefully they will be falling asleep soon. I hope the hairpin is enough to pick the cell door lock and I have a friend named Clem who works in the livery. You might have met him when you came into town. He hid your saddlebags so the other men in town wouldn’t steal what was inside of them. He’s waiting just south of town. There is a patch of boulders that are shaded by trees. He has your horses and saddlebags there and will be waiting for you. There’s a town a few miles south of there with a telegraph office. Outside, it’s been quiet so far; everyone is either in the saloon or north of town celebrating near the mines. I hope to see you again someday and wish you a safe journey. There isn’t another doctor in the town south of us but your friend should be okay as long as he doesn’t move too much. Take care and I wish you the best of luck!

Your friend,


Ezra carefully pulled the tape off the hairpin and handed the note to Buck. While he read it, the gambler bent down to where he was eye level with the jail cell’s lock. He put his arm between the bars and inserted the hairpin into the lock. Then, he put his ear up close to the other side and listened for the soft click that said the door was now unlocked.

Buck sat up on the cot and tried to refold the note. He tried to use both hands even though one arm was in a sling but he couldn’t grasp it and the note fell to the ground. Buck tried it once again only to have the same effect. Frustrated, the ladies man picked up the note from where it had fallen, laid the piece of paper in the center of the cot, and began to fold it one-handed.

It took him awhile but he finally got the task accomplished and Ezra had successfully picked the lock.

The gambler smiled as the iron door creaked open. He looked over his shoulder as Buck gained his feet. “Are you sure you can ride with your injury?” he inquired as the mustached gunslinger moved toward him stiffly.

“Better than hangin’ ‘round here” came the sarcastic reply as he slowly moved toward the door. Ezra nodded and put the hairpin in his pocket for safe keeping. Who knew when it would come in handy later? He moved silently toward the door that separated them from the rest of the sheriff’s office.

Quietly, he put his ear to the doorway and listened for any movement on the other side. When he heard none, he tried the doorknob. It was unlocked so the gambler opened it just enough to peek around the side. He smiled and made a mental note to thank Serena later. Sitting at the desk in the small office was the two ‘guards’. Both were passed out in their chairs with their shot glasses overturned and the whiskey bottle half full.

His young friend had pulled off quite a con so far! An earthquake could’ve happened and these two still wouldn’t have budged. Ezra held up the bottle; it looked and smelled like regular whiskey. Apparently appearances aren’t always everything as the gambler grabbed their weapons lying nearby. He opened the door leading to the outside in a similar fashion he had with the other door separating the jail cells from the rest of the office. The main street was completely abandoned and they could hear loud noises and bright lights emanated from the saloon.

The two peacekeepers from Four Corners quietly walked out the door, shut it firmly behind them, and snuck behind the building. They had the stars to guide them but unfortunately neither knew anything about them. Somehow they managed their way to the south end of Last Chance.

That name certainly fit this town in its present state of mind.

They jogged to the place specified in the note, occasionally looking over their shoulders to make sure they hadn’t been followed.

Standing behind a big boulder and a few trees was a tall heavyset man with wavy blonde hair and a baby face. He smiled at the two when they walked around the large rock. They had met him when they first rode into town and he seemed friendly. He was also a bit slow which is probably how he was able to leave town so easily. The rest of the men in town didn’t think he was smart enough to be a liability. They were sadly mistaken.

He was standing in between Buck and Ezra’s horses, holding their reins. Their saddles and accessories were in place just as they had been promised.

“Clem?” Buck called out softly as he walked up to blonde haired man who handed him the reins of his horse.

“Mr. Wilmington” he greeted before handing Ezra his horse’s reins “Mr. Standish”

Ezra smiled his thanks before reaching into his inside coat pocket. “We are greatly indebted to you for your help as your presence here could lead to danger if you were caught”

Clem shook his head, his smile never wavering “Nah they don’t even know I’m gone” he beamed. He was really a big kid at heart who hadn’t realized just how dangerous his town had become.

“Nevertheless we thank you for your assistance” he handed twenty dollars to Clem whose eyes widened.

“Never seen that much money before” Clem commented astonished “What’s it for?” he asked, not sure if he should take it.

“For whatever you wish” Ezra smiled, outstretching his hand which Clem proudly shook. The gambler then walked to the back of his horse where his saddlebags lay.

“Maybe buy your girlfriend a present” Buck suggested, outstretching his hand as well. Ezra rolled his eyes; Buck and women went hand in hand and the mustached gunslinger was clearly proud of his reputation.

“Don’t really have a girlfriend but I’ll save it for when I do” Clem grinned as he shook the mustached gunslinger’s hand.

“Sounds like a good plan to me” Buck nodded in approval. The two continued talking until Ezra appeared a few seconds later. He had carefully attached some money with the hairpin to a note and folded it before handing it to Clem.

The two peacekeepers quickly rode away from Last Chance while Clem walked toward it. He stopped by the saloon and walked in through the back door. He took the back staircase and walked down the hallway to the only room he knew of and slipped the note he had been given under the door.


They were just outside the town of Blue Creek when it started to rain. It seemed the more they rode, the harder the rain poured.

Buck looked over at his friend, bemused “One thing’s for sure” he commented as the heavy rain continued to drench them unmercifully “Once we get home… I ain’t leavin’ town for a very, very long time” he put extra emphasis on the word ‘very’. Ezra chuckled, sharing the sentiment.

Buck used his good hand to pull his hat further down on his head. He couldn’t believe their luck or lack thereof as they navigated through the rain and small town ahead of them.

The same thunderstorm had showered Last Chance as well. Clem watched from inside the livery and hoped his friends had beaten the storm. Serena hoped the same as she climbed the winding staircase to her room. She was tired and her feet hurt from standing behind the bar all night. She was glad for once that none of the men had been interested in her.

As she opened the door, she had stepped on the note before she realized it was there. Curious, she picked up the folded piece of paper and closed the door behind her. After making sure it was locked, she turned up the wick of the lamp on her nightstand and sat down on her bed beside it.

She grinned when she saw the hairpin, immediately knowing exactly who it was from. She didn’t understand the reason for the money at first and glanced down to read what was written…

My dear Serena,

Mr. Wilmington and I have met with Clem successfully. I must commend you for quite an ingenious plan. You’ll be happy to know the men at the sheriff’s office are in a deep state of unconsciousness and are unlikely to wake any time soon. We will notify our fellow comrades once we arrive in the next town. Unfortunately, it’s almost a three days ride from Four Corners to Last Chance, however, they should arrive relatively quickly. Among them is a skilled tracker who has an uncanny knack for finding shortcuts. We will be coming for you shortly. Take care until then.


P.S. Consider the money a donation to your medical clinic

Tears brimmed in the girl’s eyes as she reread the words. She hadn’t expected this. She had told him that she planned to reopen her father’s clinic if she were ever given the opportunity. Granted, she wasn’t a real doctor but her father had taught her everything he knew and she had always planned to follow in his footsteps. What had really surprised her most was that he said they would be returning. A part of her silently wished they wouldn’t. It was safer if they returned to Four Corners.

Although she knew nothing would change their minds, not even outnumbered and outgunned. She smiled knowing they would be back and just maybe her town would return to normal again.

Chapter 8: The seven reunited…

“Hey Chris” JD called out when he spotted the darkly dressed gunslinger heading for the saloon. Chris walked up to the wooden boardwalk a few feet in front of him before he turned around.

“What is it JD?” he asked the youngest of the peacekeepers. JD ran up to him with a small piece of paper slightly crumpled in his hand.

“Buck and Ezra” the young sheriff replied as he handed the telegraph message to the man dressed in black. Chris quickly scanned the note before turning his attention back to Dunne.

“Go find Josiah and Nathan” he said, crumpling the note. JD nodded enthusiastically and left the same way he came. Chris shook his head; leave it to those two to find some kind of trouble. He quickly walked away from the saloon to find Vin.

Vin Tanner had already saw him, meeting him halfway down the boardwalk “Cowboy” he grinned at Larabee’s scowl “Where you off to?”

“Lookin’ for you” Chris replied. He was in no mood for games. “Know any shortcuts between here and Blue Creek?” he once again crumpled the note in his hand. He should’ve known better than to let those two out of his sight.

“A few” Vin answered as he thought about the towns located near Blue Creek “Thought Ezra and Bucklin were goin’ to Last Chance”

“They were” Chris replied through gritted teeth “Come on… I’ll explain on the way” Vin nodded and followed him toward the jail just as JD, Nathan, and Josiah were heading to the same place.

It had taken roughly two and a half days for Ezra and Buck to make it to Last Chance. The rest of the seven had made it to Blue Creek in less than two days thanks to Vin’s shortcuts. The tracker had an instinct for this type of thing.

Since the terrain was mostly flat they had even traveled a bit after the sun had gone down.

Once they had made it to Blue Creek, their first stop was the livery. Next, they tried to figure out where the most logical place Ezra and Buck could be found. Great minds must think alike because they each came to the same conclusion: the saloon. This time, however, they had been wrong. The barroom was completely empty aside from a bartender and barmaid.

“Howdy” the bartender greeted the five strangers a bit apprehensively. Blue Creek was smaller than Last Chance and didn’t like strangers. Their biggest fear was turning into a town like the one located straight north of them. “Can I help you with something?”

Chris nodded “We’re lookin’ for a few friends of ours”

“One’s tall, got a mustache” Vin continued. He bit back a laugh at the bartender’s nervousness at Larabee’s presence. Most people were intimidated by the darkly dressed gunslinger. “Other one’s a bit shorter and talks fancy”

The bartender grinned wryly “The tall one likes to chase women?” he asked knowingly. Five collective grins answered him “They’re over at the jail”

“Figures” Chris muttered under his breath, irritated

“They’re not under arrest or anything. Just talking to the sheriff and his deputy” the bartender quickly amended. The remainder of the seven thanked him for the information and tipped their hats to the barmaid before leaving.

“Wonder how long they been in town” JD thought aloud “That bartender sure knew Buck’s reputation”

“Ain’t hard to figure out Bucklin’s mind, kid” Vin answered the young sheriff’s question while the rest chuckled in agreement.


“Why, Mr. Larabee, so nice of you to grace us with your presence” a smooth sarcastic voice drawled as the man dressed in black entered the sheriff’s office. Ezra opened his pocket watch before grinning at the man wearing a familiar black duster “And ahead of schedule I might add”

“Don’t make me shoot you Ezra” Chris growled at the smugly smirking southerner “What happened to you?” he demanded, turning a glare on Buck and his wounded shoulder.

“Did some girl’s husband catch you?” JD asked. He was smart; he stood on the other side of the office where Buck couldn’t get to him.

“Ha ha… very funny kid” Buck retorted. He was more irritated with the fact that too many people were standing in his way than what the kid had actually said. JD’s mocking laughter was helping matters.

“Oh and by the way Buck… I’m not a kid” JD added, proudly adjusting his bowler hat. He had the mustached ladies man exactly where he wanted him. Their antics were finally silenced when Chris glared at them.

“Well?” he demanded, still wanting an explanation as to why his oldest friend’s arm was in a makeshift sling that was slowly starting to unravel and fall apart.

“We got in a gunfight when they broke out the prisoner” Buck replied. Chris’ glare deepened.

“They WHAT?” he yelled. If someone hadn’t been paying attention, they definitely were now “And who’s THEY?”

Buck let out a sigh “You better sit down Chris” Ezra nodded in agreement which didn’t make Chris feel any better “It’s going to be a long story”

After relaying their entire adventure thus far, if one could call it an adventure, Ezra and Buck took turns explaining their latest plans. The townsfolk in Blue Creek were hesitant to get involved with anything related to Last Chance until Buck and Ezra explained that it was only a matter of time before Preston Glendale and others like him became greedy enough to want more land. At the prospect of possibly ending up like Last Chance, only then did the town get further involved.

With the sheriff and his deputy, the total came up to fifteen men from the town of Blue Creek. With the seven from Four Corners, it now made twenty two. They were still slightly outnumbered and outgunned but at least they now had a chance. Buck and Ezra told them the specifics of the town of Last Chance and everyone began working out the minor details. With a little luck, they could surround the hired gunmen before a fight broke out.

Chapter 9: Surrounded…

It was late afternoon when Ezra Standish calmly strolled into the saloon in Last Chance. He smiled as if he were right at home, passing a few hired guns as he lightheartedly walked through the batwing doors. A few card games were going on and a few more hired guns were sitting at the bar. Ezra smiled smugly when one had gotten off his barstool and walked to one of the back rooms before completely disappearing out of sight. Everyone else remaining in the bar wondered what tricks the southern gambler had up his sleeve.

The redheaded saloon girl was tending the bar as she had the day he and Buck had made the unfortunate acquaintance of Preston Glendale. Serena was there helping her. For a minute, it felt like déjà vu and every gambler had his superstitions. Nonetheless, Ezra’s calm façade was firmly intact and he had complete faith in his friends and the men from Blue Creek.

It took a minute for Serena to notice him and she had to look at him twice to make sure she wasn’t seeing things. What was he doing here and by himself… had he completely lost his mind?! He smiled as if he didn’t have a care in the world which did nothing to cease the adrenaline rush she was now feeling. Her friend was about to get himself killed.

Preston Glendale stormed out of his office and slammed the door. He was furious that they had escaped in the first place and even more furious when he realized they must’ve had help and he had yet to find the culprit.

Now that the foolish strangers had returned, he planned to end their existence once and for all. After doing so, he would find the person responsible for helping them escape their jail cell.

“Why such a dour mood, Mr. Glendale?” Ezra asked smugly “Perhaps a bit of summer air and sunshine will help to lighten your disposition” he grinned, his gold tooth glinting in the sunlight that streamed in through the saloon’s windows.

Glendale was about to shoot Ezra until he realized that, in his haste, he had left his gun in his office and he never wore a gunbelt. He grabbed the gun out of the holster of the man standing closest to him and pointed it at the well dressed cardsharp.

“I highly suggest you listen to my proposal before you find yourself in an undesirable situation” Ezra warned. His voice was even and tinted with a hint of danger.

Glendale laughed “You’re either the bravest man alive or the stupidest” he boasted while everyone had their eyes on him, wondering if he would really pull the trigger. Ezra didn’t even raise his hands in surrender. He just calmly stood there. He knew Glendale hired other men to take care of the problems he didn’t have the courage to face.

“Perhaps that’s a point you can argue with one Chris Larabee” the southerner wryly retorted. Still, all eyes were on Preston wondering if he would shoot the gun he still had pointed at Ezra. Preston was starting to become nervous by all of the looks in his direction and he slowly lowered his gun.

“I guess I could always shoot you after hearing this ridiculous plan of yours” he murmured. He didn’t have the courage to shoot Ezra and the cardsharp knew it. His men, on the other hand, were a completely different story.


Chris, Josiah, the sheriff of Blue Creek, his deputy, and three other men surrounded the mining camp with their weapons drawn.

“Throw out your guns” Chris yelled, catching the miners and hired guns off-guard. Some of them readily complied when they realized they were surrounded.

The stupid ones challenged the peacekeepers and quickly wound up examples of what not to do. Chris and the others wanted to make sure the men in town didn’t have reinforcements. The only problem was where were they going to put all of them? The jail cells weren’t big enough.


Vin, Buck, and five of Blue Creek’s residents stood hidden on various rooftops while Nathan, JD, and the others waited behind the back of several buildings along the main street or in the shadows of the alleyways. The rest of Glendale’s hired guns walked along the creaky boardwalk completely unaware of what was about to happen.

Meanwhile in the saloon, Ezra sat down at an empty table and absentmindedly shuffled his cards. If he was aware of the tension quickly filling the air, he didn’t show it. “By now my associates have surrounded the town and are awaiting my signal. Whether this ends peacefully or not is up to you” he glanced up long enough to catch Preston’s gaze.

“I’m not going to jail” Glendale evenly spat still holding the gun at his side.

“It would certainly be preferable to death” the gambler mildly argued, continuingly shuffling his deck of cards. “Mr. Larabee has already taken the liberty of wiring a territorial judge and he promises to arrive momentarily with a few federal marshals”

“I’m not going to jail” Glendale repeated “You made a big mistake coming back here” he raised the gun in his hand and this time, he was determined to shoot Standish.

Ezra saw the dangerous glint in the man’s cold gray eyes and tipped over the table he was sitting at as Glendale fired his gun. The bullet went through the table, barely missing Ezra. The gambler flicked his wrist and his derringer quickly slid into his hand.

Preston may have missed but the southern gambler wouldn’t. The bullet went straight through the mine owner’s heart and he was dead before he hit the barroom floor. The two men standing near the bar reached for their weapons until Ezra switched the derringer to his left hand and held his Remington Colt with his right. He pointed both guns in their direction and they quickly undid their gunbelts and let them drop to the floor.

Ezra motioned them toward the batwing doors and he followed along behind them. After hearing the gunshots, the rest surrounded the men walking along the boardwalks.

After all was said and done, the hired guns who survived the ordeal were taken to jail. There were two jail cells and close to thirty men. It was overcrowded to say the least but the peacekeepers could care less about the offenders’ comfort. They would be stuck there until the next day when the judge arrived.

Chapter 10: All is well that ends well…

Buck sat on the edge of a narrow bed in a building that had been abandoned roughly three months ago when the owner had been killed. It was a meek little medical clinic located near the hotel.

Now that her father had passed on and Glendale and his men had been taken care of, Serena ran the place.

It wasn’t anything special. With Clem’s help, she had spent most of her time over the past few days dusting and cleaning. Not that she minded. She was simply glad to be out and far away from the saloon.

She helped Buck out of his sling and the taking off his shirt so she could check his shoulder. “Its healing well but you should keep a bandage on it and wear the sling just to be on the safe side” she advised as she changed the bandage. This time she had a better sling to give him besides the one she had to make out of loose, unused bandages.

“Good luck” Nathan good-naturedly teased, standing in the doorway “None of ‘em listens when it comes to their health”

“I’ll listen to her” Buck wiggled his eyebrows flirtatiously “She’s better lookin’ than you are Nathan, no offense”

Nathan rolled his eyes “Just as long as all you do is listen” he teasingly admonished as he walked out the door. Serena laughed while Buck feigned hurt.

“He doesn’t trust me” Buck grumbled insulted. Serena shook her head as she playfully threw his shirt at him.

“I trust you Buck” she smiled and kissed him on the cheek before she helped him put his shirt on and then helped him with the sling. Buck smiled at still having his touch.

“See Nathan… she trusts me” the ladies man boasted proudly. “Nathan?” he repeated when he hadn’t heard the healer saying anything. He looked at the opened doorway and noticed that the handsome black man was no longer standing there. Serena tried her best to stifle her laughter “You knew he left?” he turned an accusatory glance in her direction. She smiled innocently, looking up at the ceiling. “Women” Buck muttered with a shake of his head.

“Not all of us are trouble Buck” the girl protested with a mischievous glint shining in her blue eyes “Just most of us”

“Uh-huh” Buck raised a suspicious eyebrow “Which kind are you?”

“The kind smart enough not to fall for your charms” she barely got out the sentence before she broke into laughter. The look on Buck’s face was priceless. It went straight from confidence to confusion to mock hurt. “Now get out of here before I charge you for the visit”

“Well now that you mention it…” Buck said suggestively as he walked toward the doorway. The girl rolled her eyes and grabbed the pillow off the bed and threw it at him.

Unfortunately, Buck had already stepped outside the doorway and the pillow hit Ezra in the face as he walked in. Buck stood on the boardwalk laughing hysterically. Ezra grinned and stepped toward the doorway with the pillow in his hand. As Wilmington started to walk by, still laughing hysterically, the southern gambler threw the pillow at his head.

Buck wore an expression of shock and disbelief as he looked from the pillow now lying at his feet to Ezra’s smiling chuckling face. “I’ll get you back for that one, Ez” he said throwing the pillow back at his comrade.

Ezra caught it and tipped his hat before replying “Whatever you say, Mr. Wilmington, whatever you say” with a few more chuckles he walked inside the clinic and Buck headed on his own way.

Serena tried to once again stifle her laughter. “Sorry Ezra… I didn’t mean to hit you” she said as she returned the pillow to its place.

“No harm done” the gambler said as he once again tipped his hat “I’ve already gotten my reprisal on Mr. Wilmington”

“I know” Serena replied as she smoothed out the wrinkles in her black skirt “I saw” she smiled a smile that clearly said ‘good job’.

She was dressed in a simple black skirt with a burgundy long sleeved blouse and the sleeves were made of a see-through material of the same color. Her long black hair was pulled back in a barrette. She looked down and smiled self consciously. “Guess I’ve gotten used to those low cut dresses”

“I, for one, hope you don’t plan to return to your previous employment” Ezra stated. He thought she looked her best now then when he had first met her. The bruise from under her eye had finally healed and so had her split lip.

“Never” the girl affirmed without even having to think about it. “My saloon days are long over” she smiled relieved before her face took on more of a serious note “Thanks for your help. You really didn’t have to come back, you know” she let out a small sigh, thankful that things had ended peacefully as far as the lawmen and their allies were concerned.

She didn’t really want him to go. It had been a long time since she had found a true friend and Ezra proved as much when he returned and did so without expecting anything in return. Ezra smiled inwardly. She could make a pretty good con artist if her eyes didn’t display what she was thinking.

“Perhaps one day you should come and visit” Ezra suggested smiling reassuringly to ward away the young girl’s sudden loneliness.

“I’d like that” she grinned brightly at the idea even if Four Corners was quite a distance away. The southern gambler reached for her hand and kissed the back of it. “You really should stop doing that… a girl could get used to it” her cheeks turned a dark crimson. Ezra kissed the back of her hand once again instead of releasing it “You’re a bad influence” she said, hitting him lightly in the arm and causing him to laugh.

“Blame Mr. Wilmington and the rest of my unruly associates” the gambler replied

“Uh-huh” her tone was unconvinced “I’m sure you never get into any trouble”

“Not unless I’m in their company” he grinned wide enough to show his gold tooth

“I dare you to tell them that” she replied teasingly. Ezra looked smug as he thought of that latest proposition. He very easily could tell his associates that with the vocabulary he used; they rarely understood him anyway. “You better get going before they come looking for you”

“Indeed” the gambler agreed “It would seem Mr. Larabee had been heavily drinking last night and is grumpier than usual” he stood by the doorway and spoke a little louder than normal.

It was beyond him what sort of thing could possibly make Larabee have to resort to alcohol!

“I heard that” came the warning reply in a low growl. Chris and the others were atop their horses waiting outside the clinic for the gambler to join them.

“Try to make it home in one piece” Serena advised. She hadn’t met Chris Larabee personally but knew of his reputation.

“Of course” Ezra winked. The girl shook her head before she wrapped her arms around his neck in a hug. He was a bit taken back by the action but he slowly returned the hug nonetheless. This girl had really gotten attached to him and looked up to him. It was a feeling unaccustomed to Standish, but he found he liked it.

A few seconds later he let her go and Serena kissed his cheek. He squeezed her hand reassuringly. He knew she would make a fine addition to this town in a similar way that Nathan had to Four Corners.

She watched from the doorway as the gambler took the reins of his horse. All sent smiles her way (even Chris) and tipped their hats as they turned their horses toward the end of town and quickly rode away.

The End!

End Author’s Notes: Hope you enjoyed! There might be a sequel if someone wants one or if someone would like to write a sequel themselves, they’re more than welcome to! =) Adios till the next story…