Author’s Note: This is Part II in Book I of my series Tales of the West. You may read Part I: “Milly” here.
Genres: Fiction – Western/Action/Romance
Please be aware this story has elements of violence, gun violence, murder and death.
Ethan played by Boyd Holbrook
Ethan stayed behind Lincoln so he couldn’t catch wind of him on his trail. Ethan didn’t know what to think about why he left the hideout. But he broke their rules and nobody could do that, not even Ethan. The rules were there for a reason.
Do not leave the hideout for any reason…
Ethan was pretty sure that rule got told a dozen times over. But what if Lincoln was a spy? What if Lincoln was workin’ with the law, just like Milly, and turned on the Jackson’s? Lincoln was a Prescott, not a Jackson. Ethan didn’t trust him one iota and with good reason. And that falls under the second rule of not trustin’ anyone that ain’t kin.
Ethan thought on how true that turned out to be for him …
Ethan figured right about Lincoln goin’ into town, but he weren’t sure why. If he found him talkin’ to anyone there except Fran or the barkeeper, he was goin’ to have words to say to him, maybe words on the end of a bullet. Nobody questioned that.
But Lincoln weren’t talkin’ to anyone in particular. He got off his horse, went into the saloon, ordered up some whisky and sat at an empty table and drank.
Fran made her way over to Lincoln and sat down at his table. They talked for a while, but Ethan was alright with that. Fran was the only person outside the gang he trusted with his life.
Ethan looked around, but it was late and most people were in bed except the rowdy, gamblin’, whorin’ and drinkin’ kind. Lincoln didn’t talk to anyone else other than Fran the entire time Ethan was watching, so it didn’t look like betrayal. He just wanted out of the hideout. Ethan couldn’t blame him, but rules are rules.
Ethan walked into the saloon, and Lincoln downed another shot of whisky.
“Howdy… Lincoln” Ethan said, sittin’ down next to him
Lincoln looked up, but he weren’t surprised.
“Figured someone would come a callin’ either you or Floyd” Lincoln said.
“Why’d you leave the hideout?”
“I was goin’ crazy in that place… I swear I heard voices when nobody was there and I seen things nobody else was seein’”
Ethan knew exactly what Lincoln meant, but he couldn’t tell him that.
Ethan was gonna let this go with a warning. Lincoln wasn’t no threat to nobody as far as Ethan could tell.
Milly was gettin’ everyone she could into position in front of the Jackson brother’s hideout. But she was goin’ in after everyone else caus’ she thought they’d be ready to shoot at anyone comin’ in. Which is why Milly went around the back side of the house and out of sight of the lawmen.
But she weren’t the only one with that idea. A bounty hunter with a scar under his left eye was also makin’ plans to storm in from the back side of the house.
Milly took out her revolver and aimed it at the man
“Howdy” she said
Eli looked up from his hiding spot and could see Milly pointing her revolver at him.
“What?” he said
“You can’t use this entrance; I’m goin’ in alone, ” Milly said.
The man made a mocking sound when he laughed.
“I don’t take orders from nobody, least of all no little girl,”
“Well, I weren’t askin ya” she said, takin’ out her other pistol
“You can’t shoot at the hired help” Eli said shakin’ his head
“I can and I will if I have to,”
“Shouldn’t you be at home in bed with your parents singing ya lullabies’ or somethin?’” Eli teased.
That was it. Milly felt the temperature in her face shoot up twenty-fold and her hands were startin’ to shake as she tried to steady them.
“I seen a box in the ground with yer name on it,” Milly said
“Why you lil’…”
Without hesitation, Milly shot just above Eli’s head, hittin’ the tree behind him.
Eli scrambled forwards and fell out of the underbrush.
“You crazy bitch! You coulda’ hit me!” Eli shouted.
“If I were wantin’ to hit ya Mister, you’d be dead right about now”
“I heard all about you. I know you were runnin’ with the Jackson gang and you went and turned on ‘em. Yer the worst kind of traitor–a bounty hunter with no rules. You’ll never run another bounty again if I can help it” Eli said.
“Ain’t runnin’ bounties Mister so go right ahead” Milly said, grinning
It wasn’t a genuine grin. It was a fake grin to hide the fact that she were scared of this man and doin’ her best not to show it.
Eli stood up, whacked off his clothes and pulled down on his hat.
“If’n I run into you again, only one of us’ll be walkin’ away” he said, spitting at her
Eli walked a few paces forward and took off into the darkness
Milly took in a deep breath and slowly put one of her revolvers back into its holster. She looked directly at the door and waited in her spot for the deputies to charge the front entrance.
It were gonna happen any minute now and Milly felt somewhat excited that she might kill another Jackson tonight.
The plan was to wait until the deputies went into the hideout and Milly would quietly sneak into the house via the back door and hunt down Floyd. He was next on her list after Holden. And then Jason and then… well, she wasn’t sure on Ethan yet. She still hadn’t decided on him. He was the problem she didn’t need. And part of her was hopin’ he wouldn’t be there when she killed his brothers, but Milly also felt it wouldn’t matter none even if he were. She was gonna carry out her justice for the death of her parents no matter what.
She didn’t know if that meant she could up and kill Ethan Jackson. But she felt confident enough to know that she wouldn’t have a problem shootin’ him if he got in the way.
The deputies were slowly gettin’ into their positions right in front of the hideout. Milly could hear them whispering to each other as they moved. Only a matter of time now.
Milly was as ready as she’d ever be.
They scattered the deputies around the front of the hideout as far across as they could go. There were a lot of them–double the amount that hunted the Jackson’s down the first time.
Nobody was gettin’ in or out of this hideout alive, that much was certain. But it also meant some of these young men were gonna die. And Milly kinda felt bad about all these people gettin’ pushed into the crossfire of what she needed to be doin’. But there weren’t no way around it. The Jackson’s were wanted men in several states, hunted for months on end with no kind of progress. Even when Milly made her deal with the Sheriff to get behind the hunt for the Jackson Brother’s gang, they were hard targets to track and she was doin’ everythin’ she knew how to do. None of it worked – until now.
But what this meant for Ethan, Milly wasn’t sure. Everythin’ she said at the bathtub in Callan Ridge was all an act. She wanted Ethan to hate her for leaving and for what she was doin’ betraying him to the law. That was the only way she knew how to feel anythin’ for what they had. If Ethan hated her, it would be so much easier.
But Milly felt that Ethan probably wouldn’t hate her, no matter what she did to him. And she could never hate him for bein’ a victim, just like she was. The Jackson’s were a vermin that needed to be killed.
Ethan was the first man that ever cared about Milly, and he was the first man she ever loved.
And maybe the last.
Milly had to focus and stop thinkin’ on Ethan. She’d done that way too much lately, and she needed to be ready for what was comin’.
Everyone was in position and the Sheriff made his way to the front of the hideout with his gun in his hand.
“JACKSON BROTHER’S! We’ve got the place surrounded and we know you’re in there. We ain’t gonna make the same mistake as last time and we know you ain’t got nowhere to run this time neither,”
“So come on out with yer hands up and maybe we can avoid any unnecessary bloodshed!”
That was Milly’s cue. Milly got real close to the back entrance when she saw the door was slowly opening. She ducked back into the underbrush and crouched down as low as she could go.
-END OF PART XXXVI-
You can read Part XXXVII of Ethan’s story right here.