Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons Read 19395 times


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #30 on: December 30, 2013, 03:39:38 am »
Sun streaming through the sheer drapes offered Jake a clue to the time as he opened his eyes.  He blinked at the brightness, and he rubbed his wrist over the heavy lids to clear the sand from his lashes.  With a yawn Jake stretched and silently admitted how tired he still was.  He’d likely slept nine or ten hours, but they were the first in almost 72.  There was still some catching up to do, but he figured now was not the time.

“This can’t become a habit.”  And yet Jake looked at the pretty paper on the walls.  The room was cheerful and comfortable.  He could easily stay awhile and the temptation allowed a few more minutes of quiet contemplation before getting out of bed.

His soiled clothing was draped over the chair.  Miss Lin hadn’t been successful in claiming the garments after all.  The faint memory of her antics last night caused him to grin.  That same smile dimmed as he also remembered how he’d sat on the floor like a babe and let Sal put him to bed.

He was wearing one of her father’s night shirts.   He let out a sigh of relief that he still had his pants on under the garment.  Somehow that seemed to make it alright – even a touch humorous.  Jake shrugged out of the nightshirt and bare-chested gathered the other clothing in his arms thinking to find Miss Lin and some coffee. 

Jake stepped out into the hall.  The armchair outside the bedroom door had a blanket and a book in the abandoned seat.  Curious, Jake walked closer.  His stomach fluttered at the thought that she might have kept watch over him.  She was reading the Doyle.  He realized what a sight he must have looked last night.  The crumpled clothes in his hand were just the tip of the iceberg.  He’d actually cried – although given the circumstances, he was human enough to admit he likely would again.  That particular combination of events would always trigger sorrow for him.  Not that he spoke of or liked to think about Jenna.  He was a doctor - so he’d brush it off as not wanting to lose anyone.  Babies especially.  No one could fault him for that.

He heard voices in the parlor.  It was early enough that he didn’t think company would visit, but was soon proved wrong.  At the doorway he hesitated.  Sal was talking to a man he didn’t recognize.  Jake had been in Black Falls two, going on three years.  He figured he knew everyone in a fifty mile radius as well as most of their relatives and business partners.  This man was unfamiliar.

They stopped talking and glanced his way.  Jake clumsily said, “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

Miss Lin bustled towards him.  “Now you give me clothes.  If I’d had them last night…”  Her look spoke volumes as she took the bundle from Jack and moved towards the kitchen.  Jake didn't dare ask for coffee.

That left Jake with Sal and the stranger.  He wasn’t shy and he wanted to do something to break through the tension he felt.  “I don’t think we’ve met,” Jake said, taking a step forward and offering his hand.  “Doc Scully.”
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 03:45:47 am by Beau »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #31 on: December 30, 2013, 08:14:42 am »
Seeing the look on Sally's face gave him pause, but made his grin spread wider. She seemed to recover well enough after a moment She looked at him, her brow knit in a bit of confusion, "Robert! What are you doing back around these parts? You come back to claim your Pa's land?"

"Something like that. You going to invite me in?" She blushed prettily and looked to be opening her mouth to say something when movement behind her caught his attention and she stopped at the look on his face.

His brow arched at the bare chested man coming down the hall, Miss Lin rushing to take clothes. His jaw tightened almost imperceptibly as the man stepped next to Sally and he saw her face flush as she looked at him. Just what was going on here? Was her messy state not what he thought? Could she be taking up with this man? Could she be married? He'd taken some pains to find out if she was attached, and at last report she wasn't. He didn't stoop to looking at her hand for a ring just now.

Then the man introduced himself.

Sal seemed to have regained her wits by this point, and cleared her throat, "Sorry, where are my manners? Jake this is Robert Harlaw, he and his folks are old friends."
"How do you do," he said formally as he tipped his hat, not extending his hand. Jake! Best find out about this quick.

Sal looked a little uncomfortably between the two, "Why don't you both go take a seat in the parlor." She gestured and moved a little stiffly. Sal didn't sit though and looked at them, "Just make yourselves at home, I'll just go see about some coffee... or tea if you prefer."

Robert shrugged, looking at her and trying to ignore the "Doc". "What ever is easiest,"  He looked around the old familiar room, not much had changed, though he really hadn't expected it to. He sat easily and watched Sal look at the Doc, not sure what she was trying to convey in the look she gave him.

After she was gone he sat back, arms spread across the back of the couch, after dropping his hat on his crossed knee and running a hand through his slick and well combed wheat colored hair as he surveyed the other man coolly, irritated at his casual half nude parade. "So you're the new Doc? I think Mel Jammison was pushing seventy when I left." he remarked as he let his eyes start looking around the room again. He could hear Sally and Miss Lin speaking in the kitchen and the shuffling of preparation of no doubt a tray of some sort, "I seemed to have interrupted your morning ablutions, I'm sure Sally would want you comfortable and I won't be offended if you wanted to finish what you started." he said dryly.


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #32 on: December 31, 2013, 12:07:20 am »
It didn’t go unnoticed that the man didn’t shake his hand in return.  Doc lifted a brow, but let his own arm fall to his side, offering a small bow instead. 

Sal offered to make coffee, and Jake didn’t feel self-conscious about his state of dress until the stranger said something.  He was a doctor.  Flesh was what it was.  He didn’t think himself handsome, but he wasn’t unfit either, and yet he knew a proper sense of decorum should be observed.

Jake wasn’t a territorial man.  He had a habit of running from his troubles rather than preening and fighting, but something about the situation here caused him to hesitate.  Maybe it was the look that Sal gave him. Maybe it was something else.  In the end he didn’t take the dismissal to dress and return to town.  He watched the newcomer make himself at home on the sofa and spread his arms like he needed all the space. 

Something about the familiarity poked at him, and caused Jake to walk to the fireplace.  He wondered at the man’s role, his absence and his objectives as well as the small twinge of jealousy that he recognized for what it was.  On the mantle was a tinder box which held cigarettes and a lighter.  Sal’s father had taken an occasional smoke after dinner.  Jake knew Sal kept it for sentimental reasons.  With a sense of ownership he didn’t really feel, Jake opened the box and he pinched a white tube between two hands and leaned against the wall casually.  His other hand toyed with the lighter. “I got in late last night.  Miss Lin was most adamant about washing my favorite shirt, but I just fell into bed.  She might be hurt if I don’t wait to wear it.”  He shrugged and replaced the unlit cigarette as though he’d changed his mind on priorities.  “Coffee though, that can’t wait.  I’ll go help Sal.  Shouldn’t be more than a minute.”

Jake smiled, rather proud of his acting skill, and strolled casually into the kitchen.  Miss Lin anticipated the need and handed him one of the workman flannel shirts, which was freshly laundered.  Jake shrugged into it and looked down at the buttons.  He should offer to help with the coffee officially, but other things were on his mind.  ‘So…” he said.

Miss Lin didn’t seem to be happy.  Jake would like to think it was the wayward stranger rather than the extra laundry.  Sal, however, was someone he cared about.  He wasn’t a teenager.  It wasn’t really his place to make trouble if her nervousness was suppressed joy over the surprise guest.  Hadn’t she said she wasn’t completely unexperienced?  Old friends meant familiarity. 

Jake wasn’t sure if he was adding two plus two correctly, so he paused to ask.  “Beat it or buffer.  Which do you want?”
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 12:13:31 am by Beau »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #33 on: December 31, 2013, 02:11:39 am »
Miss Lin had already scolded Sal a few times for dropping some of the nicer dinner ware as her hands were shaking. When Jake entered she dropped a saucer, righted it.

Jake was slipping into the borrowed shirt. Her face unconsciously turned up in a grin on one side and her head tilted in thought before she realized he'd asked her something and she concentrated on what she'd heard. Did it mean he wanted to go?

Sal looked at the tray the two pots, various containers of cream and sugar, with the coffee cups and what looked like a plate of pastries of some sort. She moved things around on the tray her eyes doing one quick sweeping glance as Jake did up the buttons before she forced herself to look at his face and not his bare skin. Her cheeks were a rose pink as she spoke, not answering directly, just in case. "Miss Lin cleaned your extra shirt from your saddle bag last night, but said it's still damp. From the way she was muttering when I came in I'm not sure there is much hope for the other coming out spotless. If ya didn't want ta stay spose I could bring them in to town later."

She looked back at the tray and poured one coffee cup and held it out to him, "There's cream and sugar if ya like." Her hand was shaking slightly as he took it and she pulled her hand back and quickly tucked it next to her body.

Robert being her made her feel awkward and not just a little uncomfortable. She hadn't seen him this side of ten years.

Eight years.

 They hadn't left each other on bad terms, but a bit awkward.

When Sal was fifteen she'd had a mind they might get married some day, but his family came from money,  two years later when a grandparent back east had died, they'd left to run the estate, leaving their farm behind, though as far as she knew they still owned it.

What is he doing here? She bit her lip, her brow knitting in concentration trying to puzzle it out.

She looked up at Jake "I..." she let out a shuddering sigh, "I have no idea why he's here. Jake I want to talk... I was hoping we'd get a chance to this morning. I'm so sorry..." She looked up hearing a sound from the front of the house. What now?

Robert had watched the older man fidget and inward he smiled. So, he wasn't as secure here as it originally looked. He let him leave to the kitchen, he was sure Sally wasn't going to ask him to leave, she had better manners than that.

He did stand up though and walk around looking at a few things in the room. He walked over to the cigarette box an wondered where Sal was, taking care of cows or something of the like.

He heard talking in the kitchen and walked quietly that way and listened. His brow furrowed hearing her. There was attachment here, not solid it would seem. He smoothed his features and walked back to the parlor and not so quietly moved the couch and started knocking on the floor boards, wondering if what he was looking for was still here.


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #34 on: December 31, 2013, 10:26:39 pm »
One step forward and two steps back.  Sal appeared more flustered than before.  Jake listened and then clarified, “I didn’t say I wanted to go.”

She pushed coffee at him, and he took it.  Rather than say exactly what he wanted to do, he took a sip of the too hot brew.  It scalded his throat but it was a welcome feeling. She said something about wanting to talk.  That would be for the best, but now was not the time.  Sal seemed very concerned about what was going on in the front of the house.

He couldn’t keep her.  Jake didn’t even know why he was entertaining thoughts of protection.  “I’m the one that should be apologizing – arriving unannounced and causing more work for you.  You stayed awake with me.” He tried to catch her eyes and impart with a look and more than his voice just how grateful he was.  “I won’t forget it.”

Indeed there was a sound.  A gentle knocking.  Jake hoped there wasn’t more company.

Buffer it is.

Jake decided to take the tray.  It was the least he could do.  “Let’s not keep the man waiting.”
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 10:31:08 pm by Beau »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #35 on: December 31, 2013, 11:12:23 pm »
When Jake spoke it was kind and reassuring and some of the worry wiped clean of her face as he looked at her directly. She smiled slightly and nodded, glad he was staying, glad he was here.

She was even more grateful when he picked up the tray, she was seriously concerned with carrying it right now. "Thanks." She gave him a nod and took a deep breath before pushing open the swinging door for him and heading back toward the parlor.

She stopped in the doorway, her arms crossing over her chest and a brow arching at the state the room was now in. "Rob... what are you doing?" she inquired, a little irritation seeping into her voice.

His head popped up behind the couch. "Sally! I found it!" He was holding up a rusting tin box and a floorboard.

"Tarnation! You're pulling up my floor?"

Robert stood, brushing his knees off and walking over, "It was the loose board, I'll put it all back. But look, it was still there." He held the tin out to her, ignoring the now shirted Doc over her shoulder holding the tray.

Sal gingerly took the box and looked down at it, turning it a little, a bit of twine falling to parts in her hands from age. Roberts hand reached to pull the lid off, "Don't tell me you forgot our treasure box?"

Sally looked up at him, recognition now on her face, a satisfied look on his own. Sal stopped his hand from opening it and he looked at her.

"I thought this was lost, or that you'd taken it with you."

Robert shook his head, "No. I hid it under that old loose floor board that we used to put things in."

Sal took a deep breath and was about to ask him just what he was doing here when the clock in the hall chimed the hour and Robert seemed to straighten even more, "Is it ten already? I'm sorry Sally, I didn't realize the hour, I'm supposed to be meeting someone over on the farm soon. You could come with me if you like."

Sal shook her head, "I've got things I need to do here," People I need to be talking to more'n you. she thought. "The place doesn't run itself, and the boys don't get much done without me hollarin' at 'em."

Robert shook his head, "Let Bill take care of it, or your Pa, I'm sure everyone here could survive without you for an hour or so."

Sal's head jerked a little at his words, her jaw tightening, "Guess you hadn't heard. I've been boss round here goin' on three years." She stepped ever so slightly back toward Jake.

He noticed the move and debated. Well that is news, he thought. Strange in all the information he'd been given, no one thought to tell him Sal had died. "I'm sorry to hear it Sally, I hadn't heard." This changed things... but only a little he supposed. "Well, if you can't come with me, maybe we can catch up later this evening, over dinner?"

Sal swallowed her eyes glancing once to Jake, "I don't know if I can tonight..." she trailed off into silence as she couldn't really say she had plans when she wasn't sure what Jake's plans or intentions were yet, and she didn't want to commit to catching up with him. This all was so odd. Him showing up without word, feeling a pang of hurt for some reason over the fact that he hadn't found out about her Pa. Or maybe it was just having to tell someone who knew Sal he wasn't around anymore, she thought she wouldn't have to have that awkward conversation, perhaps ever.

The silence was lingering though, but she didn't know how to fill it.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 11:49:37 pm by Peregrine »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #36 on: January 03, 2014, 08:43:34 pm »
He could feel the thaw.  Sal went from irritated to sentimental before Jake even put down the tea tray.  The other two occupants of the room had their heads together.  The contents of the box hardly mattered.  Memories were there. 

Jake reclaimed his coffee cup.  It seemed that Rob wasn’t going to linger so he didn’t bother pouring a drink for him.  Jake didn’t delude himself into thinking the man would depart because of his presence.  He was far too comfortable.

Sal seemed torn.  Jake decided to make it easier for her.  “I should be heading out too.” One more gulp and he set down the mug.  “There’s a few house calls to make.  At this rate I won’t make it back to Black Falls before moon-high.”

He couldn’t bring himself to add that he agreed with Rob that she worked too hard.  From experience he knew that if he seconded the motion for her to abdicate duty he’d get a lecture.

Jake made his excuses, added a ‘nice to meet you’ and left the room.  He’d find Miss Lin and gather his things.  Sal had work to do.  So did he.

Tanner was soon saddled and despite the curious look from Bill as to his presence, Jake was off to work.  He made a stop at Judge Hall’s place.  It was off schedule, but the Judge was in fine health.   They had lunch together.  Jake got caught up on the local gossip including word that the a few more fires had taken place during the week.  No real damage.  The proximity to Sal’s place, didn’t go unnoticed by Jake as he considered paying a visit to the Sheriff to see what was being done.

He made two more stops on his way back to town.  Jake’s back was sore and his eyes were tired as he rode into the stables not long after sun down.  He’d made better time than he’d figured.  He’d put that to good use with a long nights sleep.

Jake didn’t stop at the Copper Wagon on the way to his office and rooms.  He was thirsty for a drink, but didn’t feel like talking to anyone.  The last thing he wanted to hear was more gossip about the prodigal Harlaw.  News had traveled out to Benet Dixon’s place, and if he heard about it there, he’d get an earful in the saloon.  He wasn’t in the mood for more speculation about Sal and Robert, and how there might finally be a wedding in Sal’s future.  Karen Dixon had already waxed poetic on the subject while Jake looked in on her son who had sprained his wrist.

With a sigh, Jake unlocked the door to his office.   No lights were on, but he had the distinct feeling he wasn’t alone in the small space.

The strike of a match confirmed his suspicion.  A man was sitting in the chair behind the oak desk.  The glow of the flame highlighted his stark features.

Jake looked down as his boots crunched on something.  Glass was on the ground.  Only now did he notice that a side window close to the door was broken.  That explained how his visitor got inside.

“What do you want Hitch?” Jake said.  He didn’t wear a gun like the man before him.  Figured he couldn’t draw fast enough anyway to deal with the local rebel.

Hitch lit his cigar.  He swished his hand to extinguish the flame.  Puffed once.  Then his foot pushed the empty chair towards Jake.  “Have a seat Doc.”
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 08:44:42 pm by Beau »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #37 on: January 04, 2014, 02:38:39 am »
Sal was shocked enough by Jake's abrupt words and subsequent departure that she almost dropped the metal box in her hands. She glanced back at Robert, who hadn't concealed a look of satisfaction fast enough for her not to catch it.

He smiled at her and prodded gently, "Come to dinner Sally. We have so much to catch up on."

Sal shook her head ever so slightly, confused at Jake, and Robert. Her heart hurt thinking of the past and at the jumble that was her present, her eyes glazing over momentarily in thought as she stared at the box.

Robert bent his knees so his face was down lower into her line of sight, "Sally?"

She blinked and cleared her throat, "Sorry." She looked at Robert's hopeful face, "I don't think..."

He cut her off, putting his hands on her shoulders, "Don't say no. Say yes. Come, we'll talk. I've missed talking with you."

He was persistent, and she had a feeling that if she didn't agree, he'd just show up again. She ought to just get it over with so he'd leave her alone. Sal sighed, and gave him one floppy nod.

"Promise? You're not going to back out on me now are ya?"

Sal sighed again and shrugged a little to get his hands off her shoulders, "Barring disaster, I'll be there."

He supposed that is all he could hope for at this point. He let one of his hands that she had shrugged off trail down her arm and take her hand, planting a kiss on the knuckles, "I'll pray for a perfect day then."

Then Robert was gone too and Sal stood there, half in the parlor, half in the hall. She wasn't sure how long she stood there but she heard both men's horses leave. Finally she shook herself into action, setting the box on the tray of cold coffee and tea Jake had set down and went to righting the room, putting the board back, pushing the couch in place, straightening the rug, the low coffee table.

She looked around the room, it had been almost exactly the same since her mother had died, since her father had died. She saw the smoke box open, a fresh cigarette rolled. She walked over and closed the box with a snap and looked back to the tin on the tray, at Jake's empty coffee mug.

She felt exhausted, weary to the bone, guilty for not stopping Jake, for accepting Robert's invitation.

Jake had said he didn't want to go in the kitchen, but his actions spoke for themselves. He'd bolted the first opportunity he'd gotten. He'd done the same last week, letting her kiss him, taking her hand when no one could see, and then pulling away. She hadn't gone to their lunch date, but until last night, she had figured he hadn't cared.

She pushed the heal of her hand into her tired eyes. It was all so confusing! If he cared for her, why did he keep pulling away, leaving, saying one thing and then doing another. It made her feel stupid and then angry. Why should she feel guilty for accepting Robert's offer? He was an old friend and Jake had been given ample opportunity to stake a claim on her, any claim, even if it was a very small one, by staying when Robert was going, talking with her instead of running away.

Feeling angry and frustrated Sal threw herself into work that day, surly and shouting more than she usually did. She even took another crack at the blasted green pony, and had some success this time, enough that she was able to not get bucked off and was able to hand him off to one of her work hands.

Long before she needed to, she went inside, told Miss Lin she needed a hot bath and a fire built, and to pull out the curling tongs, and press a dress. If Jake was going to run away from her every chance he got, well then so be it, Robert seemed interested, maybe not in her really, but maybe so.

She spent the better part of the next two hours spiffing herself up, Miss Lin coming in to help with her hair. The tiny woman had even found some of her mothers old lace gloves, though the heels she brought were to small for Sal's feet, so she just had to wear a nicer pair of boots. All in all though, when Miss Lin was finally done pulling and tugging and patting at her dress and hair and turned Sal to look in the mirror, she almost didn't recognize herself. Her wild hair was tamed into a half swept up riot of curls, a pretty comb set in it that she wasn't sure where it had come from, her face framed by a few pieces that made her look soft and even pretty. She was in one of her mothers old gowns, corset and all,  a very fine cotton, dyed a stormy blue color, with fringes of lace at the square collar and the ends of the three-quarter sleeves. Miss Linn came up with a pretty necklace of her mother's, a silver locket on a nice chain. Sal bent her knees and gently moved her hair as it was clasped.

When she stood and surveyed the finish product she pursed her lips and for a wild moment, she felt panic. What am I doin? This isn't who I am! A small voice in her head whispered, But this is who you might have been, could be...

Before she lost her nerve she forced herself to put on her coat and over gloves and get out of the house, stopping on the porch to look at her dress, she couldn't ride a horse in this get up! She needn't have worried, Miss Lin had thought of everything and Bill was coming around with the buggy hitched up and a grin on his face. "Well, aren't you the prettiest sight ever to grace our little corner of heaven, Doc's not even gonna recognize ya!"

Sal stiffened at that, but moved down the steps to climb in and boot him out, she could handle the team herself and she didn't need anymore of an audience than she was already going to get once she was in town. "I'm not going to see Doc," she said as she settled in and Bill looked up at her and hand still on the lines.

"But I thought..."

"Didn't we both. Robert Harlaw invited me to have dinner with him."

Bill's face darkened, his hand tightening on the line and causing the horse to skip for a moment, "That no good rascal? That who come by the house this mornin? I can't think you'd ever want ta talk ta him again, and if your Pa was still here..."

"Well he ain't and Robert just wants to catch up, nothing more. I think he's making plans for his folks place, so he'll be around for at least a little while."

"Sally, don't go," Bill suddenly said fervently. "Don't go lettin him get under your skin again, he ain't worth spit and you know it! What if Doc sees ya? What if you're wrong?"

"I don't know that, it's been a long time. It's just dinner. As for Doc, well, maybe he should have asked me for dinner instead of runnin' off and lettin' Robert do it."

"He's a haunted man Sally, can't ya see that? Ya can't push him so fast, you're gonna push him away."

She'd had enough of this, she'd already had reservations about going before, but part of her wanted to see Doc jealous... or not. She hurt to think he might not care at all, but if that was the case, then she ought to find that out as well. "I'm gonna be late. Don't wait up, I'll take care of of the horse and buggy when I get back." Sal shook his hands from the reigns, giving them a good snap and jerking her away from him, leaving a trail of dust.

She pushed the horse and got into Black Falls just as the sun was setting. She pulled up to the stable and Morris came quickly up offering her a hand down and to take the reigns, "Evenin' Ma...Sal! Sally Hansen?!"

She ignored his shock and his slacked jaw. "I'll be at least a few hours, though I don't plan to stay over night," She handed him the reigns and didn't glance back at him as she stalked away, her face burning, and grateful for the dark so he couldn't see.

Once she got on the boardwalk she debated. Surely Robert would want to eat at Pat's place, not the Copper Wheel. She bit her lip and then walked down the walk. She could look in the window of the Copper Wheel on the way to Pat's, he wasn't that she could see and she almost sighed with relief as she hurried on to Pat's, the only other eating establishment in Black Falls, a little more formal, more like a diner or a restaurant.

She pulled the over gloves off, tucking them in a coat pocket and then pulled her head high and walked in. She spotted Robert almost immediately as she was taking off her coat and was pleased to see the shocked look of recognition on his face as he saw her. She hung up her coat. she put a pleasant smile on her face, though it didn't really reach her eyes and walked over. He stood and helped her into her seat before sitting and simply looking her over some more. She felt a blush creep to her cheeks and picked up the familiar menu, determined to be as casual as possible, "What looks good?"


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #38 on: January 05, 2014, 10:56:26 pm »
Jake wasn’t sure if he should sit in the chair that was kicked his way.  It probably made more sense to exit out the way he’d come and let Hitch finish his smoke in peace.  In the end though he tried to remain calm.  He shrugged and sat, even went as far as leaning back and crossing his ankles to mimic his unexpected guest.

“You got a problem Hitch that can’t wait for office hours?”

Hitch smirked. “I have a problem all right.  I hear you’ve been keeping time with my girl.”

He could play dumb, but Jake wanted the conversation concluded as quickly as possible.  “I didn’t realize you and Sally Jane had anything going on.”

“Her father promised her to me.”  Hitch’s eyes narrowed.  “I got no beef with you personally.  My town needs a doctor.  But you best watch your step where Sally is concerned.”

Jake’s brows rose at the continued territorial nature of the conversation.  He considered putting the man’s mind at rest, but he remained quiet instead.  After a moment he said, “Maybe you should stop lighting fires at her place.  Seems counterproductive.”

“Fires?”  Hitch said.  His smile in the dim light was filled with malice.  “You been talking to the sheriff?”

Jake leaned forward a touch nervous as Hitch lit another match. 

The gunslinger picked up a piece of paper from Doc’s desk and lit the edges.  “I might need to make an example of someone who gets in my way in that fashion.”

Although Jake remained seated his tone was cold.  “Put it down Hitch.  Sal’s not interested in me.  In fact, I believe she’s having dinner this evening with Robert Harlaw.”  Jake tipped his head towards the street.  “Maybe you should be having this conversation with him?”

Hitch wasn’t easily snowed.  He let the paper fall to the ground where the tiny flame fizzled against the wood floor.  “You don’t say?”  He stood.  Lit a second match and let it rest on Doc’s appointment book.  As the heat started to scorch the fine papers he moved closer to Doc’s chair.  He drew his gun.  “You’d best think on what I told you.”  He stepped to the side and hit Jake on the back of the head with the butt of the gun as he passed.  There was a certain satisfaction in seeing the tall man crumple to the floor.  “I don’t much like liars.”

The small fire around the desk was beginning to catch more life.  He nudged the Doc with his boot, but the man didn’t stir.  If he wanted to kill him he would have done so then, but he meant what he said about the Doc’s profession.  A certain amount of respect remained there, enough to let chance make a play.

After another moment or two, Hitch walked out onto the planked sidewalk and glanced from side to side to see who might be about.  He holstered his gun and closed the door softly. Puffing his cigar he walked on towards the Inn and Pat’s place.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2014, 10:59:25 pm by Beau »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #39 on: January 06, 2014, 07:36:00 pm »
It had been easy to forget just how lovely Sally could be when she actually tried to act like the female persuasion. She so rarely had before, and he certainly hadn't expected it when he'd seen her this morning. Perhaps.... just perhaps this could all be more than had been planned.

Sally broke through his thoughts with her question. He cleared his head and throat and picked up the menu, "I was thinking the chicken and biscuits myself."

Sal nodded looking things over, "I think I'll have the pot pie."

Robert nodded and set the menu aside ready when they were asked for their order. "Sally, you look, well beautiful." It hadn't gone unnoticed how many people were trying to casually look their way and ended up starring. His eyes gestured to one side then the other, "And I'm not the only one who thinks so."

Sal smoothered another blush and shook her head, "Thank you, but I think the towns folk are mostly in shock. I think the last time anyone around here saw me in a dress it was at the summer social. Though I'm not sure it counts where I was wearing pants under it." She shrugged and someone came over to take their order, stopping Robert's reply.

After he put in their order and before he could say anything she sat back as comfortably as she could in the hard chair and the corset and said, "So, how long you planning on staying, until you sell your old place?"

Robert's brow creased slightly at the question, "Oh, I'm not planning on selling it, I'm here to get it up and running again. My father has gotten into some rather large business ventures, trading shipping, and the like and there is potential in those acres for quiet the profit."

Sal nodded and forced herself to not physically deflate. He had come back for business. "I hope it goes well for you," was all she could think to say and she picked up her water glass taking a drink and scaring a few looks away as she let her eyes wander around the room.

"I hope so too, my father wasn't too keen on the idea of letting me come out here," a small lie, "but I wanted to come. I missed this wild territory, and the folks in it." He had caught her attention and was looking directly at her, lacing his last words with meaning.

Sal took another drink from her glass and was glad when she didn't have to make a reply to that as their food came. They talked more idly after that, remarking on the food for a few minutes. She wasn't sure how to feel about his remark. Too much double talk from too many folks lately left her wary.

Everyone turned toward the door, the sound of a bell and pounding feet on the boardwalk. Someone closer to the door stood up and polked their head out, "What's goin' on?" Someone slowed just enough to toss over their shoulder, "Fire, looks like it might be Doc's place."

Sally was on her feet, knocking back her chair and pulling her skirts up in an unladylike run as she rushed for the door, following the flow of people, leaving the meal and Robert behind. Or so she thought.

She could see smoke, but not flames and she'd gotten down the boardwalk to one of the buildings next to the Wagon Wheel, almost across the street from the Doc's place. There were flames coming out most of the windows of the first floor. She screamed, "Jake!" and she moved to run across the dusty road and those milling around,  toward those in the fire line, but strong arms around her waist yanked her back.

She shoved at the arms, clawed at them through the lacy gloves, tried to kick free, but was picked up off the ground, the arms only tightening as she screamed his name again "Jake!".

"There's nothing you can do Sally," came Robert's rough voice, his mouth pressed to her ear. "It won't do any good to rush in there and get yourself killed too." He repeated the first phrase a few times along with several other phrases trying to calm her. Was this a normal reaction for the situation? What was really going on between her and this Doctor?

Sal went slack and stopped fighting, her head hanging down as she felt a sob starting in her chest, shaking her gently against his hold. This was her fault, somehow she just knew it. Tears were streaking her face when she heard a small chorus of shouts go up.

Her head snapped up and she stiffened so unexpectedly she broke Robert's hold and was rushing forward again, when a tight hand on her upper arm stopped her.

She spun around, angry Robert was stopping her again, "Let me go Rob..." but it wasn't him, it was Hitch Soothbey.

"Best not get too close Sally, doesn't look safe and we wouldn't want you getting hurt for no reason. 'Sides, you're looking too mighty fine this evenin' to be joinin' a bucket line." His eyes were roving over her in the glow from the fire, a predatory smile on his face.

It took her that long to recover from her shock and then she yanked her arm from his hold. She wasn't wearing a gun in an easily accessible place or she would have pulled it on him. She glared at him though, "Keep your hands off of me Hitch."

She watched his eyes narrow, but his smile get more dangerous. Robert stepped up then. "Is there a problem here?"

Hitch looked like he was looking at her locket, but she repressed a shudder, feeling dirty and watched as Hitch looked up at Robert, rolling the cigar in his mouth to the other side. "No, no trouble at all. You are?"

That was right, Robert had left before Hitch had shown up.

"Robert Harlaw, Sally's escort for the evening. I don't think she wants you touching her."

"Says the man who was crushing her a moment ago?"

Robert's jaw tightened at that, "I believe my touch was more appreciated than your own."

"Didn't look it to me."

"Then perhaps you don't know Sally as well as I do," came the silky reply.

Hitch's hand twitched by his holster as he looked at Robert and then at Sally, who looked irritated and embarrassed at the same time if such a thing was possible. Even if she'd wanted to interject, which it looked like she had, they were trading insults and innuendo's too fast. He looked over the fancy suite, the high polished boots and he smirked. "From what I hear, the Doc knows her best," he said maliciously. "To bad he's not here to settle this for us."

Robert's hand balled into a fist and he was about to strike when an excited chorus erupted from the crowd and the bucket line and Sally was off again, pressing closer to see. He started to move past Hitch toward her, but paused when they were shoulder to shoulder and said quietly, "I know who your boss is." He let that settle for a moment, "Don't ever touch Sally again. She has been and always will be mine."
« Last Edit: January 06, 2014, 09:18:30 pm by Peregrine »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #40 on: January 16, 2014, 08:16:57 am »

It felt like a dream.  In slow motion, figures who couldn’t possibly be in the room floated before Jake’s eyes.  His family, including his  mother, father and younger brother all at John Hopkins to celebrate his graduation.  A wedding with Jenna in a beautiful ivory dress that belonged to her mother.  A small fireplace and a couple on a couch sitting together.  But then the light turned to dark, and Jake was covered in blood again.  He couldn’t breathe and he felt like he’d been running for miles.  The air was hot like the desert. The clack of a train roared in his ears.

His eyelids flickered and Jake sat up on his forearm.  Somehow the flames had moved around him, rather than over him in the small office.  They preferred the wood and paper over the man who still lay on the floor.  The sound he thought was a train was actually the crackle of the fire.  The air was filled with smoke and he coughed with the effort to inhale.

Jake knew he had to move, but his muscles protested and his vision blurred as he pushed himself upright.  Like a drunk man he staggered to his feet.  His ears rang with the sound of voices but if they were from the past or present he wasn’t quite sure.

Disoriented he stood.  The path to the door was blocked.  Later he would think that a fortunate twist of fate, for he turned towards the back of the office instead. He stumbled into the small room where he slept and found a body on the bed. 


Jake blinked and put a hand to his head.  He tried to remember if he’d known the man was there – didn’t think he’d had the chance to see.  Not that it mattered.  He’d have to find the strength to pull the sheriff from the building as well.  Assuming the other was alive.

The window here was his best chance of escape.   Jake picked up a chair and lifted it to shoulder height.  He swung towards the glass using more force than necessary to shatter the window.  The chair bounced and spun out of the opening.  Jake didn’t take the time to check for a pulse.  No obvious blood and bullet holes led to hope.  With a grunt  Jake put his arms under the Sherriff’s shoulders and dragged him off the bed and to the window.

Someone outside must have heard the sound of breaking glass.  Hands and voices were at the opening to greet Jake as he got close.  Help arrived to pull the Sherriff first through the window.

A ceiling beam fell.  The wood cracked and spun.  The fire roared up to greet the newest fallen victim.  He turned to look.  Mesmerized by the color he hesitated on the threshold of safety.


He didn’t know who said his name but it was enough to break the trance.  Jake forced his legs to move to the window ledge.   A pair of hands helped him out and onto the street.

Through the haze he could see a couple of men trotting ahead with the Sheriff between them.  The man needed air.  He probably needed a doctor.

Jake took another step and then fell to his knees coughing.  Belatedly he realized that Hank was trying to lift him back to his feet, a steadying hand around his shoulders.  Jake moved with the bartender towards the break in the walk and around the corner towards the front of the building.  He heard a cheer but didn’t understand that the locals were pleased to see him alive.

He wanted to find Hitch.  He wanted to warn Sally.  He coughed and stumbled again.

Hank offered encouragement.  “The bucket brigade is working.  Hopefully they’ll get this under control before it gets to the Copper Wheel.”

For some reason Jake found that funny.  Oddly he considered geography and how the bar was across the street and relatively safe in any case.  “Yeah,” he croaked.  “Good thing. I’m going to need a drink.”
« Last Edit: January 16, 2014, 03:31:06 pm by Beau »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #41 on: January 16, 2014, 08:17:27 pm »
Sal pushed through the crowd, coughing at a billow of smoke. She got through to the other side in time to see someone being hauled away by several men and then hear a creak and a crash from the building and flame and spark bursting higher. She turned covering her head and crouching,

When she started to stand Robert was there shielding her as well. She looked at him in a little confusion but then turned and raced toward the group of men, who were just now settling their burden in the back of a wagon.

"Carl, is the Doc okay?" she asked as she rushed up, cursing her skirts silently as they got tangled around her legs.

One of the men looked up puzzled, "This ain't the doc, this here's the Sheriff."

Sal's heart shrank to a hard painful stone in her chest and she couldn't draw a full breath and not just due to the corset. She whirled around to look at the building. It looked like they were mostly trying to contain the fire now. She turned back to the wagon, "Where's Jake? Has anyone... found him yet?"

Carl huffed and smirked, "Jake is it now Sal?" she gritted her teeth, let everyone talk, it didn't matter. "Well, just so happens that Hank is walking him along behind ya just now."

Sal turned again, her chest hurting from the rapid emotions tearing through her. He was alive! Walking, if somewhat shakily. Robert stepped into her line of sight just then, his face was blank, but something in his eyes looked angry. "Sally, would you stop running off like that! You're going to get yourself hurt and look you're shivering!" His jacket was quickly off and he was draping it, unasked for around her shoulders. "Come on, let's get you inside."

Sal wanted to scream she wasn't cold and run after Hank and Jake. "I'm fine, really Robert."

His hand was on her elbow in an insistent way a skeptical smile on his face, "I think you'll have to forgive me if I don't believe you. Come on, let's go back to Pat's there's nothing more we can do here."

Sal shook her head, and pulled her arm back, Nothing you can do she thought through a stoney face. "I said I was fine Robert. " She pulled his coat off and held it out to him as she spoke, irritated that he was still trying to keep her from Jake for some reason, "I'm sorry about tonight, we'll have to catch up... some time." When he didn't take his coat she shoved into his chest and picked up her skirts in a huff and stepped around him, not caring if he let it fall to the ground.

Her head swiveled looking for Hank's bulk supporting Jake and saw them slipping into the Copper Wheel. She took the boardwalk steps two at a time when she reached them and pushed past the swinging doors and right over to Hank as he was settling Jake in a chair.

He looked like the color of ash, except where his skin was red from the heat, but he was breathing. "What happened? Is he hurt?" she directed her questions at Hank as she briskly walked over. Jake didn't look fully coherent, but she was looking at him as she squatted down, her skirts billowing out on dusty wood floor. He looked singed, and probably burned again, and there was blood on his collar from somewhere, she was already pulling off the lacy gloves and dropping them in her lap as Hank replied, "Nothing a strong drink and a bath won't fix I think." She looked at Jake, resting her hands on his knees trying to determine if that was true as Hank turned to go get that drink and Sal nodded, sniffing, trying to keep from crying.

Good Lord how much can one man endure? she thought as tears rimmed her eyes and threatened to spill over.

She shook her head, letting it fall forward, her forehead almost resting on his knees, the curls in her hair bouncing and falling over her shoulders. "I was so scared you were dead," she choked out.

Hitch just started laughing as he strode up and stopped right next to Robert, rolling his cigar in his mouth again and crossing his arms over his chest. He watched Sal dash off. "Well don't that just beat all," he turned his head appraising the fancy man as he continued to speak, "And here I thought you said Sal was yours." His face smiled in a mocking way.

He looked back toward the bar, "Seems to me she's got other ideas, don't it?"

Robert had stood in a semi-rage filled shock. He listened to Hitch and seemed to compose himself by the end. Without any warning he turned and slammed his fist into Hitch's face, knocking the man to his rear in a swearing heap. Robert stood over him, his fists balled up, one smashing his jacket. "Sally is mine," he said through his teeth. I just have to remind her of the fact.

Several people had turned in shock at this little side drama. No one touched Hitch. He was started to scramble to his feet, his hand going toward his gun. Robert stomped the heal of his boot down on Hitch's shooting hand, hearing a satisfying crack and painful yelp from him. He left his boot on his hand as he spoke again, too quiet for those staying by to hear over the clamor of firefighting and the roar of flames, "I can obliterate you with a word you back water hick, remember that."

Robert took a breath, rolled his shoulders, snapped his jacket back out and slipped it on , tugged on it once and slid the buttons back together.. He tipped his head to a few people staring gap mouthed at him as he stepped over Hitch and turned and walked back toward Pat's and the Hotel on that end of town.

"Not if I put a bullet in your head," Hitch muttered as he rolled to his knees cradling his hand and watching the retreating back.


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #42 on: January 17, 2014, 01:22:38 am »
The hard wood of the chair felt cool against his back.  Jake sat with a sigh, but he wasn’t allowed to rest with a drink in his hand.  The swinging door of the Copper Wheel flew open.  He looked up, his neck heavy and his mind longing for a sack of ice to place on the bruise.  It was Sal who came in.  He blinked at the wonder of the sight, dispelling the duty he imagined would trudge through the door to order him to the damaged Sherriff, in favor of Sal in a skirt.  He had a weakness for pretty things.

Sal spoke and Jake listened, talking to Hank like he wasn’t there.  If he could have smiled in that moment he would have. The situation was grave, however, and Sal seemed weighed by emotion.

Her hand was on his knee and his hand came to rest on her bowed head.  “Don’t cry Sal.  I’m not worth it.”

He looked down at the golden curls and let the softness brush through his fingers.  Spun gold.

His brush with death sunk in with a shaky breath.  He shivered with the feeling that the next moments were vitally important. 

“Sally.”  His fingers tucked a strand of hair behind one ear so she’d be sure to hear him.  “Look at me.”

What he saw in her expression had him taking a metaphorical step forward rather than running to the door.  He wanted what he saw there.  Foolishly.  Selfishly. “Life is too short…”

The crack in his heart widened.  He wanted to kiss her. Hold her.  Reassure her, and himself that he was okay. Time slowed as he teetered on the brink of decision.  ‘I’m scared,” he whispered.

Someone else ran into the Copper Wheel. The swing door flapped against the wall.   The owner of the general store spotted Jake, but didn’t understand the importance of the tableau.  “Doc, you gotta come.  It’s the Sherriff.”

Duty called, but Jake didn’t look away from Sal.  He’d take that kiss before he responded to the summons.  Seconds counted. They were his seconds.

Always would be.


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #43 on: January 17, 2014, 02:26:46 am »
Sal blinked her eyes and swiped at her cheek as he asked her to look up at him, turning her hand into his and grasping his fingers.

She hadn't wanted to admit it to herself, but looking at him in this moment she knew she was falling in love with him. Why else would it hurt so much when he hurt? Why else would she have wanted his attention and jealousy so bad that she was dolled up to spend time with someone who was now a stranger to her.

She swallowed hard, worrying what allowing herself to know could mean, could cost her. She forced herself to concentrate as he spoke. He could so easily break her with his words now.

She nodded to his broken words, not sure how to reassure him, or if anything she said could be. She wanted to speak carefully. There wasn't time for it though as someone came racing in. She looked at Jake, knowing despite his own hurts he wouldn't think of himself first. That yet again they would have to wait.

"Bring him on in here boys, better lighting, I'll get a table cleared off," she turned as she heard Hank say and could hear him shoving tables together, scooping up half used glasses.

She turned her face back to Jake and was ready to offer her help, such as it was, when he kissed her. She was stunned for a moment, that he'd kiss her first off, and that he was doing it where folks would see.

She didn't hesitate in kissing him back. She could hear the sound of people coming up the steps. Too soon. Too soon, the kiss ended. She looked at him in wonderment and took in a shuddering breath, her ribs straining against the corset, her heart hammering.

She stood up with him giving his hand a squeeze, "Not sure what you'll need but I've got two hands. What do you need? How can I help?"


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #44 on: January 18, 2014, 12:16:43 am »
Jake followed the impulse and took the kiss when she turned back to look at him.  She was offering help, but he wanted a different sort of aid.  His broken heart warmed under the contact.  Brief.  But enough to make him more sure that he was on the right path for once.

“If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right,” he said.

Two men came into the saloon with the Sherriff.  Hank offered the pair a touch of privacy by taking command of the medical scene. “Bring him over here,” with a wave showing his handiwork of the pushed together tables.

Jake was torn.  He glanced towards the wounded man and then back to Sally with a clenched jaw of frustration.  “Don’t leave,” he said.  That was what he needed, for her to stay.  They’d talk.  This time for sure.

“He’s not breathing,” one of the bearers said.

Jake slipped into character and approached the prone body now lain on the wood.  He took the wrist of the arm that draped off one edge and tried to feel for a pulse.  His other hand moved to the man’s neck confirming, “His heart’s still beating.”

He tried not to think about who he’d been kissing a moment ago as he put his lips to the blue mouth of the Sherriff.  He exhaled air into the man’s throat and lungs.  His hand balance the man’s neck and head as he tipped his own head to the side to listen for the exhale and watch the chest fall.  He repeated the process of mouth to mouth a few more times before commanding, “Breathe, dammit.”

The Sherriff seemed to hear.  He twitched and coughed.

“Hold still,” Jake commanded as he saw the man’s eyes open in shock.  He offered a few calming words.  Someone brought a blanket.

Jake was about to offer a more thorough exam.  He knew the man must have been unconscious for some time.  But that was interrupted by one more person entering the bar.

The swearing and stomping demanded attention.  “Damn City Slicker broke my arm,” he bellowed.

Jake straightened and turned as Hitch strutted in.  He didn’t move from his post by the Sherriff.  “Did you try to kill him too?”

Hitch spit his cigar out on the floor where it slowly rolled on the wooden floor.  His good hand was on his gun but he didn’t draw.  He glared at Jake.  “Someone’s gonna die if my arm ain’t fixed.”

Jake still didn’t move.

Hitch pushed on towards him.  “You took some sort of hippocritic oath.  I’m hurt.” He shoved his arm towards Jake. “Fix it!”

Jake would do it.  He didn’t need Hitch mangling the creed to understand his obligations.  There was no question he would splint the arm, even if he waited a few heartbeats to respond.  He’d be none too gentle.


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #45 on: January 18, 2014, 06:13:13 am »
Sal watched the conflict wash over Jake's face, glad for the brief moment to at least have him tell her not to leave.

She gave him an abbreviated nod as he moved over to the Doc.

Well, she certainly wasn't going to leave, but even if he didn't give her instruction, she had to do something. She stepped toward the bar and behind it. She grabbed a wash basin and poured clean water into it and then looked around for clean rags.

If she couldn't help with the Sheriff, she'd at least be ready to help him when he was ready. She tried not to let the tense atmosphere rattle her too much. She glanced up once to see Jake pushing breath into the new Sheriff.

She bit her lips as she looked back around for the bottle that Hank kept for Jake and pulled it out. She set it next to the basin and had just pulled a fresh glass when Hitch crashed in. She was instantly on her guard, listening.

The glass slipped between her fingers, first at the thought that someone- Robert- had stood up to Hitch, but then even more so at Jake's accusation. She fumbled for a moment, catching the glass before it could shatter and draw attention to her. She gave Jake a long shocked look.

Hitch! Hitch had tried to kill Jake! and maybe the Sheriff it seemed. Why?! Why would he be so stupid?

Sal had a sinking suspicion that this could all be her fault. Just like her Pa, just like the ranch.... She felt like she might vomit for a minute.

When Hitch spit out his veiled threat Sal silently slunk down lower behind the bar and slid a hand up to the gun holstered just below her knee and slid it out. She stood back up slowly, silently cocking the gun as she stood.

Her eyes darted back and forth between Hitch and Jake for a moment, unsure what to do.

Her gun hand shook she was gripping her gun so hard. Hitch had most likely killed her father, had caused her no little amount of trouble and now it seemed he'd almost killed someone she cared deeply for again. Her jaw tightened and she was ready to draw on him and tell him to scram when his sardonic face turned to her.

So she hadn't gone as unnoticed as she'd thought. He was looking straight at her and smirking, "Sal, be a darling and pour the men some drinks. My arm is hurtin something awful thanks to your beau."

She glared and started to jerk her arm up, "You son of a.." but at some point Hank had come over and his hand on her forearm stopped her from doing something stupid. "I'll take care of my customers thank you." He looked down at her with a hard stare as he spoke emphatically, "Why don't you go and see if you can't help the Sheriff with a drink or something while the Doc sees to Hitch, Sal."

Hitch was laughing, "There's our spitfire. You can put fancy ribbons on a donkey, but it don't make it no show pony," he said through a hoot as he walked over to the Doc and put his arm out, his face wiped of all mirth when he spoke next. "Well, get to work! I ain't got all night, got places to be."

Sal's jaw tightened ever so slightly during all this but she nodded and pushed past Hank in the narrow space, pulling on her dress to get past and tucking her gun into the folds to keep it hidden as she made her way over to the Sheriff, keeping an eye on Jake and Hitch.

She sat down near the Sheriff's head and tucked the gun under her thigh before picking up a water glass on the table but just sat there, pretty sure she shouldn't really do anything.

She wanted to shoot Hitch in that smug ugly, stupid face, and would, if it looked like he was going to try something.

She couldn't recall clearly another time in her life she was so strung with tension. She watched Jake, her heart sinking at a nagging thought- she loved him, wanted him, but what if that meant she'd just put a target on his back?


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #46 on: January 19, 2014, 06:35:23 am »
As Hitch continued to talk, Jake realized who the ‘city slicker’ was.  The linkage became clear as Hitch turned his eyes towards Sal.  Apparently both arm and ego had been bruised.

Jake could feel the tension in the air, but he had no idea that Sally was armed and dangerous.  Part of him considered countering the insult hurled her way.  But he wasn’t her ‘beau’. 

Apparently her beau had the backbone that Jake lacked.  Jake was left to clean up the results of his handy work.
“I don’t have anything to splint it with,” Jake said.  “Someone burned all my supplies.”

Hitch spit on the floor.

Hank came to the rescue.  “There’s some wood pallets in the store room.”

“I’ll need a flat piece of wood about this big,” Jake specified, holding this hands twelve inches apart.  “And some cloth if you have it.”  He pulled a chair out and pointed to it, using words of one syllable to address Hitch.  “Take a seat.”

The Sheriff moaned, and Jake turned towards him, noting that Sal had taken up a post close by.  The look on her face spoke volumes.  There was little he could do, other than deal Hitch and hope the other would go away.  He wasn’t wearing a gun.  Hated to use one having seen the damage close hand too many times.  Now he had nowhere to work and probably no possessions either.   He might be spending a lot of time in the saloon in the days to come.

It struck him that he didn’t consider the option of moving on. 

The Sheriff tried to sit up.  Jake focused on the present.  He didn’t want the Sherriff rolling onto the floor, or calling out Hitch until he was more in control.  “Easy there,” he said.  One hand went to the man’s shoulder.  “Lay back and rest for a few more minutes.”  He wanted to know what happened, but now wasn’t the time to ask.  “Do you feel pain?”

“Headache.”  He tried to sit up again.  “Thirsty.”

Jake motioned for Sal to give the man some water.  “Make sure he stays put until I’m done.”

Hank returned, and Doc went to work.  He pulled the arm to straighten it, and Hitch howled in pain.  He drew his gun with the other hand and pointed it at Doc.  “You did that on purpose.”

“You’re welcome to splint it yourself if you think you can do a better job.”

Hitch cursed and threatened, but he didn’t take Jake up on the offer. 

Doc tried to look unconcerned about the weapon in the other’s shaking hand.  He could pretend to be calm.  He had practice delivering bad news, his expression blank and his voice business like.  Within a few minutes he was tying the sling and issuing instructions to keep the wound dry. 

Jake didn’t need to tell the other man to go.  Hitch stood and backed out of the saloon, still brandishing his weapon.  Only after he left did Jake allow himself a full breath.

Hank came over and patted Doc on the back.  They went to hover around the Sherriff, but by then it looked like the man had fallen into a restless sleep.  Jake him over quickly to reassure himself that there wasn’t a bullet hole he’d over looked.

Reaction started to set in.  His hands weren’t as steady as before.  He said, “I’d like to leave him here for a bit.  Do you have a room upstairs?  Someone to watch over him.”

“He can bunk with me.”  Hank said.  “I can have one of the girls check him periodically until I close up.”  He looked at the Doc.  “You want a drink?  A room for the night?”

He needed both, but Jake shook his head instead.  One more duty was left.  “I’ll be seeing Miss Sally home.”

Jake stood up a little straighter, although fatigue ate at him.  He didn't want her out in the dark alone.  Silently he hoped she wouldn't say that she wanted to check on Robert, or Robert would handle it.  The calm expression would only hold so long.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 06:42:25 am by Beau »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #47 on: January 19, 2014, 09:11:30 am »
Sal's hand tightened on her gun more than once, more so after Hitch drew his gun. Almost, almost she raised it to shoot him. He didn't deserve a speedy end though. He deserved a tight rope, a short drop, and to have his life strangled from him one wretched moment at a time for all he'd done.

So, instead she tried to watch the Sheriff, follow Jake's instructions, and help settle the wounded man as best she could. She watched Hitch go, sick to her stomach over it, over his actions and the way he was blithely just walking out free as you please.

She pushed back from her seat when Jake started to look the Sheriff over and walked over to a lone chair, putting her boot up on it and hitching up her skirt while everyone was talking about where to settle the Sheriff. She slid the gun back in the holster with a quiet snap of the leather and then brushed the skirts out before going over and pouring the drink she'd meant to before. She turned and walked back over at Jake's comment about seeing her home.

She shouldn't let him. She should dispell any feelings now before she got him killed, but she couldn't. She glanced at Hank who had the decency not to comment and waved the men back over to help him move the Sheriff.

Sal stepped a few paces closer to Jake, her hand out offering him his preferred drink. She didn't want to do this again. She didn't want to have to worry about fighting with him over who was going and who was staying.

She couldn't stay in town without Bill calling out a search party, but she doubted if she let him take her home that he'd be willing to stay and he didn't look fit to be walking more than a few paces, let alone ridding around in the night alone after taking her home. It would give them time to talk if he did take her home but maybe it was best to let him clear his head before he said anything or did anything she'd regret when he could think more clearly.

She swallowed, her heart a painful rock, knocking at her ribs, she spoke quietly and calmly, still aware of a few lookers on, "I... I don't want ta fight." She took a breath, "You're in no shape to be ridding out there whether I could convince you to stay or not because I hope you'll pardon my saying so, but you look like three shades of hell. Let's just get you taken care of and settled somewhere to rest, alright?"

She saw a soot covered someone come in over Jake's shoulder and looked up as he approached a little hesitantly toward them, clearing his throat and worrying his hat. Sal gave him an encouraging look.

"We uh, we got mosta the fire out Doc. We was able to save lots of the back section where you climbed out tha window. Few folks trying ta salvage what they can for ya right now. Few folks wondering bout you and the Sheriff and how both ya doin' so's they sent me in ta ask and tell ya what I told ya iffin' you're okay. You are okay, ain't ya?" 

Sal looked back at Jake. That would be the question. The townsfolk liked him, but she knew the truth was that many of them were more concerned over if this was going to scare him off, she wondered that herself a little. Less than half hour ago he'd seemed determined, if nothing else, given her the kiss, but he had a track record of doing one thing then saying or doing another, at least when it came to her.

Now she worried she'd be doing the same to him. She had a sinking feeling she might have to push him away to save him from the pit of misfortune that seemed to swallow those she cared about most.

What he did, what he said, in the next hour, could certainly change the course for her life, one way or another.


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #48 on: January 19, 2014, 03:02:47 pm »
She didn’t want to fight -- she didn’t want him.  Somehow the phrase seemed to translate that way as she made excuses.  In public he’d tried to stake his claim and in public she dismissed him.

He took the drink.  Stared down into the glass so she couldn’t see the hurt expression.  The light swirled in the colors as he spun the shot glass slowly in one hand without bringing it to his lips. He set the glass down, ever so delicately on the table.

Maybe if you stand up to Hitch she’d think you’re man enough for her.

There were ways he could deal with Hitch that didn’t involve a gun. He could administer more pain killers than necessary, but murder wasn’t his style.

No matter what they say in New York…

His thoughts grew darker.  Fortunately he was spared the self pity as one of the towns people interrupted.  The man looked nervous.  Jake blinked at him, only then remembering the fire that had driven him to the saloon in the first place.  Foolishly he’d let his world shrink to him and Sally.  Now reality seemed to balloon back out to overwhelm him.

“I’m not sure about the Sherriff.  We’ll know more in the morning.  As for me –“  Jake’s words were interrupted when Hank set a cloth covered bag of chipped ice in his hand.  He knew it was for his head.  Jake could feel his pulse throbbing in the back of his skull, and yet the ice joined the drink on the table.  He shrugged fatalistically. “I guess I’m just hard headed.”

But I can take a hint.

The smile on his face was weak at best when he turned back to Sal.  “Humor me and don’t ride in the dark alone.”  He didn’t need to explain that Hitch still had one good hand.  Sal’s life likely wasn’t in jeopardy, but he didn’t trust the man not to make other claims. He couldn’t help the step back he took, looking away and not quite able to meet her eyes. “You’re beau should see you home.  That’s what people who are courting do.”

Jake started to walk towards the exit, closely followed by the man who’d come to fetch him.  The other scurried out but Jake paused for a moment, one hand on the door, and looked back.  He wanted to capture the picture in his mind.  “In case I didn’t say it.  You look really nice.”

He took a deep breath to steady himself before he pushed on the door.  The smoky air reminded him that he had a mess to clean up.  Something different than the one he just stepped in.

The office looked horrible from his vantage point.  His step were slow as he walked towards it.  A few people rushed up to ask questions, but Doc couldn’t supply any answers.  He didn’t have any.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2014, 03:03:55 pm by Beau »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #49 on: January 19, 2014, 07:07:50 pm »
Sal watched him set the drink aside and talk to the man. Hank interrupting too. 

When Jake turned back to her he seemed to have thrown back up his hasty walls against her. She could see it in his eyes. Where there had been a glimmer of hope before, now there was nothing. He wouldn't even look at her now.

Good. You'll only get him killed. Said one voice.

You've lost your chance. Wailed another.

She pursed her lips trying again to keep the hurt from her face when he asked her not to ride out alone and stepped away from  her. Her heart nearly shattered when he spoke the next. "Jake, we're not..." she said feebly, reaching a hand out to stop him, but he just walked away. 

With his back turned she couldn't stop several tears from sliding down her cheeks, when she saw him turn back at the door she sniffed tried to pull it together, but any hope of that was lost after he gave her his compliment and quickly left, her reaching hand falling to her side.

She took a sobbing breath in and doubled over for a moment before a heavy hand on her shoulder pulled her upright and led her somewhere before pushing her down into a semi-comfortable chair. She swiped at her eyes and saw Hank, he'd brought her in the back room and was holding a drink out to her. She shook her head, "You know I don't drink."

He pulled up a chair looking her full in the face. Hank was one person who knew secrets about her and her life that now only Bill and Miss Lin also knew. "No, I know you've only ever had a drink a long time ago, but I figured you'd want one after tonight."

Sal swallowed, still struggling to stop the flow from  her eyes, grateful he'd brought her away from the viewing public. She shook her head again. "No, but if you could lend me something else to wear I'd appreciate it."

Hank raised a brow, "What you thinkin Sal?"

She almost laughed, did he think she wanted to turn floozy now? She sniffed her nose, forced herself to sit up straighter and drug her hand and arm across her face. "I'm thinking a shirt and pants will be easier to ride in and I'll send Bill in for the rig in the morning."

Hank shook his head at her, "The Doc asked you not to ride out alone."

Sal shrugged, "He also told me to have Robert Harlaw escort me home, but we both know I'm not going to do that either."

Hank took a deep considering breath, "What happened between the time Doc got the gumption to kiss you and when he walked out that door Sal? I saw the way you looked at him, have looked at him for some time. Why don't you go chasin after him instead of bein so dang stubborn?"

Sal swallowed, just like Hank to go straight to the heart of things when she least wanted him too.

"He... he doesn't want me, not really."


"Fine. I don't want him."

"Bull Shi"

She cut him off, "FINE!" She hollard, "Hitch dang near killed him tonight, and even if I can't say it for sure, I'm pretty sure it's because of me. Just like the fires at the ranch, just like my Pa, it's all my fault just like..." she trailed off and watched Hank sit back and survey her.

She felt retched, "Maybe I ought to be goin after Hitch instead."

Hank started, his hands were on her shoulders, gripping tight, "Don't you ever say that Sally. Never." He gave her a shake. "Your Pa would be rollin over in his grave if he heard that."

Sal stood up so fast he had to jerk back, "He wouldn't even be in his grave if I'd just agreed to Hitch in the first place!" She swiped at her cheeks again and pushed toward the door. "Now if you're not going to lend me something to wear I'm sure Morris will have something."

She didn't walk slow enough to let Hank pursue her fast enough not to be seen. It was in him to help, but only so far.

Out on the boardwalk the smell of smoke was still strong. Sal watched the dark silhouettes of people moving against the darker smoldering building. She hesitated, she wanted to run to Jake, make him see how much she wanted him, make him know it, believe it. Make him know he was the only one she considered, the only one she wanted to be with, not Robert.

A stronger, hardened part of her wanted to keep him safe more.

Her head turned toward the stables and she walked a few paces, a figure detached himself from the shadows. "Goin' somewhere Sal?" She saw the glint of moonlight on a barrel pointed in her direction. She tensed momentarily, "Seems I'm going to see your boss."

His face smirked and nodded, wagging the gun in the direction he wanted her to go. Well, looked like she wasn't going home unescorted, maybe not home at all. Blast this dress!


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #50 on: January 21, 2014, 05:46:13 am »
Jake saw Sal leave the Copper Wheel.  Pride made him thankful he was too far away to call after her.  His imagination replayed the final moments at the bar – filling in a picture of Sal upset.  That of course would be only wishful thinking since she obviously was heading towards Pat’s and the Inn.  Soon enough the rumors would be true.  Betty and the other women around town would be thrilled to plan a fancy wedding.

Maybe you could head to Phoenix that week. Visit The Shandy.  Get drunk.

Seeing the burned out shell of the building he wished he’d taken the drink offered.  A few of the women were sifting through the rubble.  Apparently women understood the delicate work of trying to save what meager possessions he had.

A glance over his shoulder and he saw Sal round the corner.  One hand formed a fist.  Then his fingers flexed again, a sign of the restless energy within.

“Found your pocket watch,” Carol Ann, the butcher’s wife approached Jake and held out the silver casing. 

Jake knew he was supposed to take the watch, but he hesitated all the same. Of all things to survive.

“Thank you,” it seemed he needed to say something since he couldn’t smile.  “This was a gift.”

His fingers flipped open the cover.   A picture of himself with Jenna nestled beside him in a posed photograph stared back at him.   The watch still seemed to work, which surprised him.  He looked away from the picture and stared at the second hand, almost feeling the passage of time.

Carol Ann stood close enough to see the picture.  She was young enough to be romantic.  “Oh, she’s pretty.”

Jake looked up at the sound of her voice.  He shut the watch and put it in his pocket.  “Yes, she was.”

He turned away to see what the others had found.  Carol Ann followed slowly, silently noting the past tense he’d used and filling in the blanks in her own way. 

Three walls still stood – or at least parts of them.  Jake walked onto the ashy structure and joined the others in surveying the supplies that remained.  The owner of the general store offered clothes if he needed it.  It was too dark to take a full inventory.  The air too cloudy with residual smoke.  He’d have to wait until morning to see for sure what could be salvaged.  But he knew what had caused the front of the space to ignite and burn so completely.  The fire had found its own fuel stacked neatly on a pair of shelves. 

The books are gone.

Jake was interrupted in his grief over the loss by Hank.  “Sal’s gone,” he said.

“Yes, I know,” Jake replied.  “Does that mean it’s safe for me to return and have that drink you promised?”

“If that’s what you want.  I think going after Sally might be better.”

“Do you now?”  Jake looked at Hank as the town’s people started to disperse.  He wasn’t sure he was in the mood for the bartender’s advice.  He turned and thanked a few other people present for their efforts.  Said he’d see another in the morning. 

Hank found another opening, and tried to get Jake’s attention.  “She’s got some fool notion that she’s responsible for this.”

Jake couldn’t think how that could be.  “She was nowhere near this building.”  She’d been at Pat’s apparently.  Robert had been her white knight.

“Hitch was.  She said something about going after him.”

“Excuse me?”  Jake said.

“And when Sal gets an idea in her head ---“Hank didn’t finish the sentence.   Jake was already walking away.   He didn’t notice the small smile on Hank’s face.

Sally had last been seen headed towards Pat’s.  Jake told her to have Robert escort her home.   Not his best move, but he wanted to be sure she’d done as asked.  Hank’s words held more truth than he wanted to admit.  He could see Sally taking matters into her own hands so he hustled over to the inn.

He was a bit surprised at how quickly life returned to normal.  Guests were seated inside the restaurant.  Music was playing.  Soot covered, Jake wasn’t exactly dressed for dining.  His hand went to his head, but his hat wasn’t there either.

Robert was seated in the middle of the dining room.  The chair across from him was empty.   Jake marched right up to the table and asked, “Where’s Sal?”
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 05:48:36 am by Beau »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #51 on: January 21, 2014, 07:27:08 am »
It didn't take Sal long to know she was in a heap of trouble. She had a gun she couldn't get to fast enough to aid her. She was being walked down a back alley that no one was likely to be looking down, and her first gun toting friend had been joined by two others.

They were all packing and while she'd seen them around from time to time, they weren't the regular thugs she'd had words with in the past. She had initially thought Hitch, but now she wasn't so sure.

She bit back a remark and stilled her fists when one of the men behind her gave her shoulder a rough shove to get her to turn where he wanted. She stumbled and heard the men behind her laugh, muttering something about "not so fancy" or something like it.

A few more pokes and prods later and she was being pushed up a set of small steps into the back door of a building, possibly the abandoned telegraph office. It hadn't ever taken this far out.

The room was dark and she didn't step too far in, not wanting to run into something. There was a glow from a corner across the room.

She started to straighten up, ready to face Hitch most likely, when she got another shove. She bumped into a chair as she was pushed toward the middle of the room. She heard the door shut behind her, the sound causing her to jump slightly, a shiver running down her spine as her head turned back away from the sound and the men moving around behind her.

The room started coming into better focus now her eyes had adjusted to the dim moonlight seeping in past the dirty windows panes. Not enough to identify the figure across the room, but to get a vague silhouette.

"Well, well, well Sally, we're in quite the tangle here." The voice was gruff, but she wasn't sure it was Hitch now. She tried to slow her racing heartbeat, the sound pounding in her ears.  "Search her."

Sal tensed hearing the men come over. "I don't know what you're talking ab..." a hand snaked out and struck her across the face, knocking her a bit off balance and she fell hard into a desk or shelf of some sort.

She took a painful breath, tasting blood in her mouth as she rolled her tongue across the front of her teeth and stood up again.

"Don't lie Sally, lookin like a woman for a day won't save ya. We both know why you approached my employer. But now you've gone and stuck your finger in a hornets nest and decided to shake it.  So, let's be honest with each other, humm?" The embers across the room flared again illuminating black eyes. "Now, finish searching her."

Robert looked up at the Doctor as he approached, setting down his utensils. He swallowed the food in his mouth and stood up slowly at the question. "Doctor Scully wasn't it? Feeling better?" He gestured to the side, several locals watching, and hoping to catch a confrontation. 

He took a few steps toward the wall and kept his voice low, a smile on his face, though his tone was scathing, "I think I should be asking you the same question. Last I saw her, she was chasing after you into the bar. If I had known she wouldn't be looked after, I would have followed her despite her... attitude."
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 07:37:18 am by Peregrine »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #52 on: January 22, 2014, 03:52:21 am »
Jake wasn’t prepared for Robert’s answer.  He expected Sal to be there.  When she wasn’t he figured Robert would say she went to the bathroom…or something.  His face might have betrayed some of his confusion but it didn’t save him from the biting comment.

One thing Doc took seriously was responsibility and he bristled under the insinuation.  Jaw clenched and eyes narrowed, he’d followed Robert to the wall so they could talk more discretely, but he wasn’t thinking about the present.  He was replaying the conversation in the Copper Wheel.  One hand went to his hip to tap gently, a habit he had when he was thinking.

What if she hadn’t been dismissing him?  What if she’d really been questioning his ability to ride?  If she was concerned for his safety it made perfect sense that she’d see Hitch as another threat and being Sal, she’d want to deal with it.

He blinked and looked around the room.  Sal didn’t reappear and Robert seemed seriously put out. 

Jake felt like he needed another kick in the head to shake some sense into him.  He was torn between wanting to swear in frustration and wanting to smile.

“I interrupted your meal.”  He took a step back.  “Sorry about that.”  Jake spun on his heal and started towards the door.  The stables weren’t far.  He’d see if she took her horse or not.  He didn’t have the foggiest idea where to start looking but he had a sinking feeling he’d better hurry.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 03:54:31 am by Beau »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #53 on: January 22, 2014, 04:54:47 am »
Robert took off after the Doctor as soon as he turned to leave. "Hey!" He caught up to him on the boardwalk, keeping pace with him, he grabbed his shoulder, yanking on it, "Hey! You don't just walk in demanding to know where Sally is, and then run out when you find out she isn't with me without an explanation. Just what is going on here?!"

Now he was mad. Not only had Sally dropped him like a rock and be rather rude to boot but now his apparent competition had lost her.

It took all he had not to just punch the Doctor and raise a general alarm.

"Now, I think we have an understanding, don't you think?"

Sal gritted her teeth, biting back the throbbing pain in her arm and a stabbing pain in her ribs that she was desperately hoping was just broken boning in her corset digging into her side. She bobbed her head up and down twice.

"Good. Don't forget, we're watching now." The shadow nodded and she felt rough hands hauling on her upper arms on either side. She tried to get her feet under her, but the third clocked her in the face again and she had the sensation of being hauled away but she was too dizzy and she had spots dancing across her vision.

She felt fresh pain as she was dropped a little unceremoniously on the ground somewhere. She heard a thud next to her head and heard them all laughing and joking as they strode away.

She dirt going in her nose and mouth as she tried to breath. She let her eyes move around trying to decide where she'd landed. They'd dropped her gun by her head, unloaded no doubt. She tried to push herself up and failed, waited a few minutes and tried again.

Her arms felt hallow and the palms of her hands and her knee and elbow joints aching and burning. She got to all fours and looked around again, grabbing her gun and shoving it in the holster, trying not to think about things too hard. She was one, maybe two, streets behind the main avenue. She put one hand out against the building they'd dropped her by and the opposite arm she pressed against her side, holding her ribs.

She got shakily to her feet, trying to decide what to do. She was actually not far from the Wagon Wheel, which was only a building away from the stables. She'd just stay back here, get to the stables, not let Morris see her and get back to the ranch.

She felt like the time she'd been thrown from a run away wagon, that was a likely enough story, and who would contradict her? Besides the initial blow to her mouth on the right side, most of the pain and hurt was along her left side. She gritted her teeth, that one on her left had liked to cause pain, maybe specifically to women.

She started moving down the building leaning on it as she went, then the next and the next, pausing to try and breath once in awhile. Sal had  been plenty beat up ranching but it felt different this time, maybe because of the heavy dress and under skirts, maybe because the hurt was made by fists and feet. She was shaking badly.

She'd almost made it past the back of the Wagon wheel when she heard the back door open, the sound of a man and a woman's laughter, and saw light flood out behind her. She paused in the shadow at the corner of the building, trying to be quiet and not draw attention to herself.

She heard the laughter turn to something more earthy and shuffling and she started to slip slowly away.

"Sal? That you?" She heard a woman's voice, one of the girls. Sal straightened as best she could and turned only a little bit, only her right side being exposed to the light.

"Yeah, sorry, just tryin to get a little breath of air and some privacy. I'll just be movin' on. Sorry." She started moving again.

"Sal you okay?" She stopped again, not turning or saying anything. "I just mean... you looked pretty upset when Doc left."

"I'll be fine, don't you worry."

"Alright... well, it'll all work out. Don't you worry honey."

She nodded again and moved away, shaking and glad it wasn't Hank who'd come out. She was just one building from the stables, she just had to hold it together for a little bit longer.


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #54 on: January 22, 2014, 06:10:16 am »
It took a lot to make Jake angry.  Robert charged after him, but he didn’t stop and explain himself.  Even when the other touched him and forced a confrontation, Jake just looked meaningfully at the hand on his shoulder, then back at the man.

I just did. Of course he didn’t say that even though there was a certain satisfaction in thinking it.

Robert was dressed up well.  Jake had an idea how much his suit cost.  He’d had a few like it in his day.  But clothes didn’t make the man.

He wasn’t completely sure why he humored the explanation.  Maybe it was the long lost gentleman in him. “Sal planned to go home.  I suggested that you escort her but it seems she didn’t take my advice.”  Jake looked up and down the street.  Robert didn’t seem to want him walking, but he could keep looking in the vain hope that Sal was close.  “You broke Hitch’s wrist.  He’ll be looking to take it out on someone.”  He left out the part about Hank and the possibility that the hunter was now the hunted.  “I’m going to check the stables and see if Sal took her horse.  Perhaps you’d care to visit the general store?  Sal likes the owner’s wife and she might have stopped there…”

And it’s in the other direction.

If Robert wanted to dog his steps so be it.  But he suspected the other didn’t want his company any more than he did and would like the opportunity to find Sal first and discuss Jake’s “mistakes”.  With a calm air he didn’t feel, Jake turned towards the stables.

Morris was adjusting the hay bales outside the back doors, and Jake waved to him as he got closer. 

“Glad to see you’re alright,” Morris said.  He put the pitchfork down and gave Jake a quick once over.  “You’re not planning on taking Tanner out are you?”

Jake didn’t want to say yes or no.  Sal had been right that he wasn’t in a condition to ride.  His head would likely roll off before he got the creek.   He shook his head and immediately regretted it.  He’d been running on adrenalin but now his brains felt like mush.

He didn’t have a lie in him.  So he sighed and said, “I’m looking for Sally Hansen.”

“Sal?” Morris said.  He appeared confused for a minute.  “Saw her come into town a few hours ago.  Rig’s still here.”

“Horse too?”

Morris frowned.  “Yeah, last I looked.”

Jake almost hoped that Robert would find her at the general store.  Almost.

“Thanks,” he said to Morris.  Briefly he wondered if Hank was yanking his chain.  He wouldn’t put it past him.  Everyone seemed to have advice and an opinion lately.

Still, Sal wasn’t with Robert.  So where is she?

Jake made the loop around the barn and walked back towards the Copper Wheel.  A blond woman was standing near the rear entrance.  Jake couldn’t be sure from the back in the dim lighting if it was Sal.  The dress looked a little different, although he couldn’t say for sure how.

He got that weird fluttery feeling in his stomach.  Random nerves that forced his steps to slow and his hands to go to his pockets.  “Sal?”


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #55 on: January 22, 2014, 06:47:50 am »
She'd gotten to the corner of the building between the Cooper Wheel and the stables when she heard someone say her name. She cursed her luck hearing and seeing who it was.

She kept trying to move toward the barn, seeing that he wasn't looking at her.

Leann turned around as Doc called, her fingers wiping a little at her mouth and cheeks, "Doc? It's Leann, but if you're lookin' for Sally she was here a minute ago. Wandered off when I came outside. Say, what's goin' on anyway? She was mighty upset when you left earlier."

Hank came out yelling then, "Leann if you're back here doin what I think you're doin I'm gonna fire ya!" He bellowed as he came out. He looked between her and Doc and raised a brow. "What's goin on?"

Sal had made it to the back door of the stables  by the skin of her teeth and pushed her way in. She got to Buck's stall, one of Bill's favorites she recalled oddly, and she flopped against the stall door and started to slip down it just a little. She must have made a noise because she could hear Morris coming her way hollaring that if she was a thief he had a slug he'd be happy to give her.

"Just me Morris, you mind hitchen up my rig?" she almost laughed at her own word usage, but she was afraid the sound would come out more like a sob so she swallowed it. It was dim in the stables but not Dark.

"Sal? What in tarnation! Doc was just in here lookin' for ya."

He was getting to close. She gritted her teeth and stood up only slightly, "Probably just to scold me again, I don't.. I don't wanna to talk to him. If ya'd just get my rig together..."

He was coming to close, it wasn't dark enough to hide and she was feeling a bit breathless and dizzy from her evening activities now. She knew she'd lost when his face came swimming into view, she heard him start to yell but she couldn't make it out as she felt her legs go hollow under her.

Morris put his arms out and around Sal just in time to keep her from flopping full to the floor and he started yelling. "Doc! Doc! Sal's here! Doc!" Hoping the other man wasn't too far gone, or that someone else would hear. Morris wasn't a weak man, but he wasn't young as he used to be either and after that horse had kicked him, his right leg hadn't ever been none to strong, he knew he couldn't haul her far.

Robert had glared back just as darkly. He hadn't wanted to do anything the other man said, but he did want to know Sally was alright.

He debated for a minute on following him to the stables, but he knew Sal and Mary Wellford were friendly and she might have gone to the older woman for help or advice.

So, a bit reluctantly he headed for the general store. When there were not lights on, even in the back living areas he figured Jake must have given him some sort of slip and marched back down toward the other end of town.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 06:30:54 am by Peregrine »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #56 on: January 22, 2014, 08:45:59 pm »

Leanne turned and Doc felt a twinge of disappointment.  Condemnation followed.

Jake gave his answer in the simplest way possible.  “There seems to have been a misunderstanding.”

Leanne walked closer to Jake.  “You look terrible.”

“Been a rough week.”

She moved closer and pressed her ample chest to Jake’s.  “I could make the night a bit easier.”

I have no doubt.  He liked Leanne.  But running from Sal was what got him in this situation.

Jake was saved from answering by Morris shouting his name.  The doctor squeezed Leanne’s shoulder as he excused himself and hustled on to the barn.  The urgency in the call had him jogging even though the impact of his boot on the ground hurt his neck.

It took a minute for his eyes to adjust to dim lantern light in the barn.  Morris was standing near a stall.  He could only assume he was holding Sal but that made no sense.

Morris called to Jake again, “She’s hurt.  Fainted.”

Jake moved forward to help him support Sal.  He took a swift intake of breath as he saw her face.  “Did she get kicked?”
Wishful thinking he knew. 

Morris said, “I didn’t hear nothing like that.  She didn’t say.”

Hank wasn’t far behind Jake.  “Let’s get her to the Wagon and upstairs to a bed.”

Jake ran his hands quickly along Sal’s neck and spine to ensure she could be moved.  “It seems I’m setting up shop in your place,” he tried to joke.

Hank had more to say, but he appeared to change his mind.  “She don’t deserve to lie on no haystack.”

Jake couldn’t agree more.  His arms weren’t broken.  His head hurt but that didn’t mean he couldn’t lift Sal and carry her on to the bar.  “Lead,” he instructed.

Hank went back out on the street and opened all the right doors. 

“Say it,” Jake said as they entered one of the upstairs rooms.

Hank shook his head.  “It’ll keep.”

Jake set Sal on the bed.  “I’ll need some ice, alcohol.”  Lots of alcohol.  “I don’t think anything’s broken, but I’ll need to make sure.”

Hank left them, and Jake talked to Sal as he examined her again.  It hadn’t been that long since he’d patched her up from a gunshot wound.  He didn’t like the uncivilized turn his life had taken.  He did what he could to save the dress, but he doubted she’d want to wear it again.  Loosening the corset he let his hands brush over her sides.  The touch was as gentle as he could manage.  “Bruised, but not broken.”  Damn lucky.

He could tell she was awake.  Unconscious people didn’t wince.  Jake pulled the sheet up and tucked it under her chin.
Jake sat back, although he let his hand find hers in the silence.  “You know,” he said.  “If you want to spend time with me there are easier ways.”  He couldn’t smile though.  None of this was funny.  “We make quite the pair don’t we.”

He didn’t want to ask her why she hadn’t gone to Robert.  It was obvious the man hadn’t done this.  Despite punching Hitch, he didn’t think he’d lay a hand on Sally this way.

Or at least, not where he’d get caught.

Jake dismissed the random petty thought.  It had been a long day.  A long week.  He had a concussion.  He could be excused for being human.

He pushed his boots off.  She was under the covers.  It was improper, but not completely, for him to stretch out on top of the quilt and lay next to her.  This time it was his turn to keep watch – even though his eyelids were heavy.  Jake leaned in and kissed her neck gently, before he let his own cheek rest on the pillow.

“I’m sorry Sally Jane.”


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #57 on: January 22, 2014, 11:26:31 pm »
Sal came back to her senses as they were moving into the Copper Wheel. She mentally swore, she needed to get home, to not have so many watching eyes.

It was worse than she'd thought when she heard Jake's voice next to her head talking to Hank before sending him away. Witch Hazel would have done her better than alcohol, but she stayed silent. She did little things to help him out as he checked her over, but she couldn't bring herself to open her eyes.

She felt exposed, and not just because she had barely anything on but the thin cotton shift and pantaloons and  corset that had been under everything. Jake had seen bits of her before when doctoring her up, but now it was different. Now it was the hole of her, and not just new hurts but old scars from a life not lead by a lady. He was talking to her as he checked her out.

She could only imagine what he was seeing, bruises for certain, some scrapes, a fat lip, a black eye? But would any of them be defined enough to describe what happened or was there a chance she could blame it all on a fall? She'd have to try anyway if it came to questions.

She was able to hold it together, not be obvious in her consciousness, that was until he removed the corset, a fresh flair of pain came from the release of pressure. Then he pressed on her ribs. Despite his gentle prodding it felt like she'd been slugged fresh.

"Not broken" she heard, and was glad of it, it would mean she would be up and around faster. He gave her back what dignity he could by covering her up and she expected he'd just leave then, but he didn't. Instead he took her hand and kept talking. Then he stretched out next to her.

It took every ounce of will power Sal had left not to grip his hand, not to turn into him for comfort. She had to keep him safe, she had to not want him so badly. As it was she couldn't keep one or two tears from slipping from her eyes back into her hair after he kissed her neck and settled next to her.

She wondered how long she'd have to wait for him to fall asleep, but that thought was interrupted by shouts from below them that died down and then Hank was back in the room.

He'd seen a figure that looked like Sal being hauled into the Bar by the messy Doctor and he started running down the boardwalk.

When he got into the bar though, neither of them were to be seen. He prowled around the room for a minute to make sure he wasn't missing them in a back corner. Then Hank was coming back down the stairs.

He moved over to the large man, "Was that Sally I saw being brought in here? Is she alright."

Hank pushed passed him over to the bar and started rummaging around, not answering him. He followed him over, staying on the patron side of the bar, but just barely. "Well?! You not going to answer me?"

Hank turned on him, "You ain't got any right asking after that girl, after what ya put her through, what ya done to her."

Robert glared ever so slightly, "So it is her." He turned and made a line for the stairs but quickly felt a heavy hand on his shoulder pull him back and spin him around to grab the front of his suite.

"You won't be goin' an botherin' her just now, the Doc's lookin' her over and makin' sure she's okay. Seems she fainted."

"Then I'll just," he started but Hank shouted over him as if he hadn't said anything.

"And when he's done, she's goin to rest and you're goin to leave her be 'less she says she wants ta see ya."

Robert grabbed the bigger mans hands and yanked them from his suite and smoothed it down. "Alright, but if she's going to just be resting I suppose you won't mind then if I stay and patron your bar until such time she's ready for visitors then."

Hanks face went hard, "Long as you can pay."

Robert yanked out a bill fold from an inner jacket pocket and showed it to him.

Hank just turned and went and collected the things from the bar, moved into a back room and out again, carrying a few other things and went back upstairs. Robert found a table and sat, ordering a drink when one of the girls came round. He was sure Hank would kick him out if he didn't.

Hank knocked once and then stepped in. He raised a brow at Doc as he laid next to Sally but simply shut the door and walked over to a side table setting down the things he'd brought.

"Brought up your bottle, and a bottle of rubbing alcohol and some clean rags, and a chunk of ice. Oh and a pair of pants and a shirt for Sally, they'll be too big." He shrugged, and she heard him come and step over and could tell he was looking at her, "She said anything yet bout what happened, who did this to her?"

Sally blessed her small amount of luck, at least she wouldn't have to try and get back in the dress or leave half naked when she was able to go.

"No," she said quietly, "she hasn't said anything because she feels the fool."

Inspiration struck her all at once. "I went to go see Mary Wellford and went up their back stairs in the dark to their apartment above the store, when no one answered the door I turned to leave and that blasted dress got caught so I took a painful tumble, probably hit every step on my way down to the bottom." She shook her head slightly against the pillow, "That'll teach me to wear fancy things." She tried to joke, but every word hurt, but she desperately hopped they'd believe it so she could just get out of here. Only the smallest part of her hoped one of them would call her out at her lie.

She opened her eyes, they'd put her in one of the nicer rooms, one with a small washroom attached, and made herself look at Hank, "If ya'd hand me that shirt, then help me to my feet I could use a moment or two to take care of some personal needs."

She couldn't look at Jake, but she also couldn't let go of his hand, no matter how light her hold.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 06:31:43 am by Peregrine »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #58 on: January 24, 2014, 10:07:39 pm »
Sally spoke, but Jake didn’t stir.  He felt dizzy.  He shouldn’t have tried to lie down with the bump on his head.  Maybe Sal shouldn’t have either with the lie she told.

So you fell down the stairs, skidding on your cheek and left side only?

“Um, hum,” was all he said.  He could tell she wanted to move and get away.  He tightened the grip on her hand rather than beg for her attention.

Hank handed over the shirt she requested, saying.  “You got company downstairs.”  He waited a beat and then added. “Harlaw.”

Hank’s tone had surprised him.  Jake opened his eyes and looked at Hank, saying,  “I can help Sally get where she needs to go.  You’ve been more than generous tonight.  Go ahead and take care of business.”

He half hoped that Hank would escort Mr. Harlaw out of the building.  Jake wanted to believe that he’d grow frustrated and go on his own, but he didn’t know the man.  In a similar position he’d want to see Sally.  The emotion he’d seen earlier appeared genuine.  It complicated things.

Jake sat up as Hank departed.  “Your gun’s missing.” He said to Sal.  The holster was there, but the weapon was gone.  “Should we get a message to Mary to look for it?”  That was the closest he’d come in calling out the lie.  “You don’t have to talk to me.  You’re not my responsibility.  But that doesn’t mean I’m not seriously thinking about finding a way to change that.”

He sighed and looked down at their linked hands before he used his other arm to help her sit as well.  In a partial embrace he said, “I can’t help if you run away.”  His smile was weak as he tried to interject some humor.  "I know a runner when I see one.  I look in the mirror every morning."
« Last Edit: January 24, 2014, 10:22:37 pm by Beau »


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Re: Pretty Paper, Pretty Ribbons
« Reply #59 on: January 24, 2014, 11:51:39 pm »
Sal felt his hand tightening on hers as she took the shirt in her free hand, gripping inordinately tight to it as Hank mentioned Robert. She squeezed her eyes shut, why couldn't anything ever be easy. He sent Hank away with a few words and then they were alone again.

He sat up and commented on her gun. Her brow furrowed in thought, he didn't believe her. She had thought she's pushed it in the holster, but she wasn't thinking too clearly, maybe she just dropped it in the dirt again, or maybe it fell out along the trudge she made. "I thought I'd collected it, probably fell out as I was making my way to the stables," was her reply. 

She swallowed at his next words, feeling something shatter inside her. Now he was saying he wanted her? How could she keep up with how often he seemed to change his mind?

He helped her sit and she took a minute to fight down all the flaring pains as he held her there. His arms around her felt so nice. She trembled for a minute and then pulled her hand away so she could pull the shirt carefully up her battered arm and over her head and then forced herself to stand up, the shirt falling down to her mid thigh.

She had to grip the bedpost to keep from falling over at first, her knee and thigh were throbbing and her rib was awful. She wanted to tell him everything. She wanted to confide in him. Maybe they could fight together. A flash of those black eyes came back to her. Maybe you'd just get him killed. Or worse. She couldn't keep from crying now. She was in pain in every way this side of Sunday.

She had thought she'd been beat-up and emotionally drained before, certain she'd hit a low before he'd shown up at her door last night.

Could it have really been only a day since?

Now, she wasn't sure how she wasn't breaking apart, falling to her elemental bits right where she stood. She'd had worry, weary, shock, surprise, anger, fear, love, and pain all tear a course though her and it was taking a heavy toll. She could feel her resolve dissolving like ice on a hot day.

She shook her head, and swallowed. To break now would be to fail him in so many ways. Better to hurt him a little now, than see him killed. She let out a short laughing sob and all she muttered was, "Bills gonna worry," as she limped over to the wash room. She left the door open between the them. Nothing really to hide now.

She opened the shuttered lantern that was lit and hanging on a peg next to a basin and pitcher. With the brighter light she could see her face in the foggy glass.

She touched a gentle hand to the bruise along her temple that ran into her eye and down her cheek, against the puffy and split lower lip and wiped the blood from her chin before her eyes narrowed at the over all picture. She looked like a battered saloon girl. She swiped her hand at her tear stained cheeks, unable to stop the rolling tears from continuing.

She reached up and started yanking pins from the mussed tangle of curls. Who had she been kidding?

She yanked her fingers through it a few times, but it just bounced back. So she pulled it over her shoulder and gave it a few twists, a pile of curls resting on her shoulder. She felt a little bit more like herself as she turned back into his direct line of sight.

She stood in the doorway for a minute, just looking at him, his soot smeared face, his singed clothes, the small worry line between his brows, his kind eyes, his soft mouth. It would be so easy to just walk over and lay her weary bones down next to him, to let herself believe for just tonight that she could have him. She bit her lip, the pain refocusing her, she forced herself to look around the room.

She wiped her tears away, kept doing so as she moved, she wanted to stop crying, but couldn't seem to. She moved over to where Hank left the pants and saw her boots on the floor. She had to leave him now, before she let her longing convince her to stay. She kept her back to him and tried to keep her voice steady despite a wince or two as she spoke, "You ought... ought to get some rest Doc... you certainly deserve it... after, after the week you've had," she was trying to get the pants on with one hand and without having to lean over much. "I'll go out the back way... ask Morris or one of his boys to see me home so I don't have anymore... accidents."

It was the best option, Morris could borrow a horse and ride back, or his boy could bunk with the men. If she went down the back, she wouldn't have to see Robert, or anyone else for that matter.

The pants slipped from her grasp to the floor and she swore quietly to try and settle the welling of emotion threatening to swamp her. She pressed her right hand down on the dresser and sucked in a shaking painful breath. She couldn't hold it together, her shoulders bent forward slightly and she started quietly sobbing. 

He kept a wary eye on the stairs as he swirled the drink he'd been served. Despite what Hank said, he half a mind to go up and pound on every door until he found Sally and see her for himself.

There was something else going on. Hank had taken to many odd things up to her if all she'd done was faint.

So either something had happened to Sally and she was so hurt she couldn't walk or...

What had he been carrying?

He reviewed. Towels and alcohol, and... clothes - a man's shirt and pants.

Or Hank was simply delivering items to the Doctor he'd requested. Which means... His hand tightened so fiercely on the glass it shattered, spilling his drink all over the table.

He heard one of the girls nearby exclaim and come over to make sure he was alright. Hank came down the stairs and Robert stood stiffly shaking his hand of debris and liquid.

He strode over and got in the mans face again, "Sally must not be that hurt if you didn't have to stay and help. So which is it? She's so hurt she isn't coherent? or she's fine? Or maybe you and the Doc thought it would be funny to play a lark and it isn't actually Sally upstairs and you're a filthy liar?"

Hanks face turned red, "It is Sally and she is hurt. She's resting and I wasn't needed."

Robert scoffed and rolled his eyes, "Certainly, is that what you call it when one of your girls takes the Doctor to bed?"

Hank moved so fast Robert barely had time to think. Hank half picked him up tossing him toward the door and half shoved him, but he managed to keep his voice low. "Get. Out." He shoved a stumbling Robert the rest of the way out the door.

Hank stood in the door and looked at him as he regained his balance. "Find your drinks somewhere else. You weren't welcome before you left the first time and you certainly aren't welcome now. You come back in here and I'm like to shoot you."

Robert glared and straightened his coat before glaring at a few watchers in the windows, who quickly turned away at the rage clear on his face.

Now he was more than half convinced it wasn't Sally at all. So the Doctor had a propensity for women who looked like her, he wondered if Sally knew.

He turned to go get his horse. Well, if she didn't, she was going to. If she wasn't here, and she wasn't with the Walkers, then she probably went home. He could feign being worried about her and ride out without someone wondering why he'd do it.

He'd get Sally to see who the better man was.