TALES OF THE WEST BOOK I PART I: MILLY – PART XIII

© 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 13 of 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.

Ethan took Milly into town instead of back to the farmhouse. They went to a hotel and stayed in a room until Milly had recovered from her wounds.

Milly’s face was roughed up pretty bad. 

It hurt Ethan to even look at Milly with all the bruises and cuts on her. But look at her he did. Ethan felt responsible for Milly. And if it weren’t for the bond between James and Ethan’s brother Holden, Ethan would have killed James without a single thought on it. And that’s no lie. 

But there was something else… 

Just looking at Milly now, Ethan had never felt so drawn to someone. Hell, he didn’t even feel this close to his own sister, and Ethan loved her more than the entire world before she passed.

But feeling this way about Milly also made Ethan feel terribly vulnerable.

Ethan shuffled around in his chair for a moment, as if the emotions he was feeling suddenly made him physically uncomfortable. As if someone could see what he was thinking. 

Ethan’s eyes were bloodshot. A single tear trickled down his cheek. Ethan looked around the room, wiping the tear away with the back of his hand.

But there was nobody there. Nobody but him, Milly and Milly’s sleeping dog.

Ethan just knew that Milly would probably be the death of him. And he also knew that he had to get a handle on these feelings and shut them away good. 

Feelings like this did nobody any good and did nothing but get you killed.

Milly finally stirred from her sleep. She had been sleeping for an entire day before she was finally well enough to get back on her feet. The swelling in her face had come down, the bleeding had stopped, and she was looking like herself again.

Ethan had got her some clothes since most of her old ones were ripped and in tatters. 

Once she was up and dressed and had eaten, Ethan had to talk to Milly about what happened and what would happen when they returned. It was important that they got their stories straight for when the others came asking questions. 

And they would. 

“Milly… we gotta talk …”

Milly wouldn’t look at Ethan.

“I mean, I can figure what happened at the bathtub … but the gang are gonna ask questions. James is gonna lie. So you best be ready for that,” Ethan said.

“I don’t wanna go back…” Milly replied

Milly finally looked at Ethan

“Yeah… I figured you’d say that. But you know, you can’t just leave the gang … right?” 

Milly looked down at her dog, who was crouching at her feet.

“I mean, I can protect you but… James’ n’ Holden go way back. This is gonna be… messy,” Ethan said, scratching his head.

“You can just let me go… they won’t know. You can tell ’em I took off or somethin’ and they’ll never know,” Milly replied.

“But I will. And they’ll go lookin’ for you regardless, Milly–and trust me, you don’t want the Jackson gang after you,” 

“Well, why didn’t YOU kill him then?” Milly asked, her voice angry and shaking with emotion.

And there it was.

Milly had wanted to say it the minute she could. The words were like acid in her mouth the whole time, just eating away at her. 

Milly’s dog lifted its head and jumped, as if it could feel Milly was distressed. The dog whimpered. 

Milly kicked him away from her leg.

“Get…” she snapped

Milly’s dog whimpered off into the opposite corner of the room.

Ethan’s eyes narrowed, as if he was trying to grasp Milly’s sudden change in mood.

He took in a deep breath. The room was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. 

“I shot him for you Milly… wasn’t that enough?”

“No… no it wasn’t enough …” Milly replied, the venom still in her voice

Milly got up from the bed and paced the room, her fingers jittering all over the handle of her pistol

Ethan just eased back into his chair. He observed Milly. He watched how she paced, how her finger moved absently over the edge of her pistol without realising. 

He also thought he didn’t mind the bruises on her all that much, either.

Ethan didn’t want to make Milly’s recent ordeal any worse. He only wanted to make things easier on Milly. So why couldn’t she see that? 

“Are we really gonna get into this now?” Ethan asked.

Milly didn’t reply. She just continued to pace.

Ethan got to his feet slowly and walked towards Milly.

“Milly …”

Milly ignored Ethan and continued to pace

“Milly… just… stop …” Ethan said, grabbing Milly’s arm

Milly’s pistol was already drawn and pointed directly at Ethan

Ethan looked down at the pistol and then back into Milly’s eyes

Milly stared at Ethan, biting her lip anxiously

“You wanna shoot me Milly?” Ethan asked

“Why didn’t you kill him, Ethan?” Milly asked again

“Milly…  killing scum like James? That doesn’t even register on the list of things I’d do to protect you. But killing him would only make it harder … for both of us,”

Milly just shook her head and stepped away from Ethan, the pistol still pointed at him

Ethan couldn’t stand to watch Milly recoil from him. Milly might as well have shot him dead instead.

“I would never hurt you Milly… you know that, right?”

Milly just looked away. She suddenly felt very weary.

Milly dropped her pistol and fell to her knees in a sobbing heap. 

Ethan walked over and looked down at Milly.

“Don’t cry, Milly… ain’t nuthin good gonna come from cryin’ over men like that… “

Ethan knelt down and put his arm around Milly.

She continued to cry into Ethan’s shoulder. 

Milly’s dog wandered back over and sniffed around Ethan. The dog was hungry. Ethan scratched its head with his other hand after wiping away another tear that had trickled down his face.

He turned back and looked at Milly as she continued to sob into his shoulder.

It was some time before she would stop.

-END OF PART XIII-

You can read part XIV of this story here

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

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