© By Julie Gray

Milly played by Eliza Scanlen

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Ethan played by Boyd Holbrook

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AUTHORS NOTE: This is part 10 in one of my untitled short stories. You can read part one here.

SHORT STORY TRIGGER WARNING – This short story contains elements of assault, sexual assault, violence and death.

Being part of the Jackson brothers Gang didn’t feel exactly how Milly thought it would feel. For starters, James and Jed still made Milly feel uncomfortable whenever they could. James with his creepy stares and Jed with his general, hateful attitude. 

Milly felt like she would always be the odd one out –  the “black sheep” of the Jackson Gang, no matter what she did. She could save all their lives twice over, and that still wouldn’t be enough for some of them. 

Ethan decided it was time Milly met someone outside of the gang. He took Milly to meet Running Elk–a native that had been friends of the Jackson boys since they were little. And Ethan said there wasn’t a better “knife” man anywhere. 

Milly had seen natives before but she’d never spoken to one. She didn’t tell Ethan that her pappy killed a few back on their farm and thought it best that since Ethan was friends with one, that story was probably one better left untold.

“Alright, just wait here Milly, I’ll go see if Elk’s around,” Ethan said, riding off ahead

Milly waited a while. Ethan finally returned with the native. It surprised Milly that he was as young as he was. She was expecting someone older, at least as old as her pappy was or even older. But Running Elk couldn’t have been much older than her. 

“Running Elk, meet Milly. Milly this is Running Elk,” Ethan said, getting off his horse.

Running Elk stared at Milly for a while before he got off his horse. He leaned into Ethan and whispered something that made Ethan grin. 

Milly felt her face turn red, but she just brushed it off. What did he know about her, anyway..?

Running Elk was better with a knife than Milly had ever imagined. He also brought along his bow and showed Milly a few tricks. Milly decided she liked the bow a lot and Running Elk was happy to let Milly use it all day long.

It was the most fun Milly had had in ages. In fact, being in the gang was kinda making her miserable. She was happy not to be alone but at the same time, she had never felt more alone.

Running Elk and Milly struck up something of a friendship. It was good for Milly to have someone outside of the gang. But Ethan didn’t count on Milly spending so much time away from the gang.

Milly was saddling up her horse and didn’t see Ethan watching her from behind. 

“Where ya goin’ Milly?’ Ethan asked

“To practice… with Runnin’ Elk,”

“We got a big job on today, I need you ridin’ with us,” Ethan replied

“Well, I don’t really wanna hold the horse’s reins any more… if it’s all the same to you, Ethan. I’d rather be doin’ somethin’ useful,” Milly replied.

“Are you sayin’ that you’d rather be with Runnin’ Elk… than helpin’ the gang?” Ethan asked.

Milly could hear that sound in Ethan’s voice. It was the sound of disapproval.

Milly bit on her lip and didn’t reply.

“Milly, I’m talkin’ to you!” Ethan said, grabbing hold of Milly’s arm and pulling her around to face him

Milly looked up at Ethan. He wasn’t wearing his hat today and Milly couldn’t remember what Ethan looked like without it on. The sun had tanned Ethan’s skin which made his blue eyes stand out. They were blazing right out of their sockets he was so mad. Milly thought it was best to stay clear of Ethan right about now.

Except Ethan had other plans. He was right in Milly’s face and he wasn’t budging neither. 

“Well? I asked you a question… “

“I think it’s best I don’t answer,” Milly replied, walking around Ethan

“You’re coming with us Milly, and that’s it and that’s all,”

“No… I ain’t. I told you… unless you got something else for me to do other than mind the horses Ethan… I ain’t goin’,” Milly replied.

“You’ve seen what can happen if things go bad Milly. Are you ready to get shot or … worse?” 

“Yes, Ethan … I’ve been ready for a long time–you just never give me the chance to prove it. At least Running Elk doesn’t think all I can do is hold the horse’s reins all day. He lets me hunt with him and kill things – which is more than I do with you!”

Ethan stood there, hands on his hips and looking away from Milly. He spat out whatever it was that he was chewing on.

“What’s the point of me having all these skills you taught me if I ain’t using them?” Milly was pushing things with Ethan for the first time and she kinda liked it.

“God damn it! Fine then–but you better stick right by me. You’ll be replacing Jed,” Ethan said, walking off.

Milly watched Ethan walk away. He turned back and looked at Milly with that one eye squinting glance he always gave her when he was mad. He was shaking his head too as if he couldn’t believe what had just happened.

Milly wasn’t sure what had happened either. This was the first time she had disagreed out loud with Ethan. 

Finally she was going to do something proper with the gang. But the thought of replacing Jed was surely gonna cause a stir. Still, how much worse could it get? Milly couldn’t see how Jed could hate her any more than he already did.

Milly was mistaken.

-End of Part X-

You can read part XI of this story here

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Freelance entertainment writer and reviewer. Visit my blog on https://thebrokenquill.com.


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