1 Roswell est. 1865
It was unseasonably cold for mid April in the town of Roswell New Mexico. People gathered their coats tighter around them as they went from place to place to ward off the chill from the biting wind. Store front doors were quickly opened and shut as customers and clerks did what they could to stay warm.
The man in black rode into town on his black gelding that had a streak of white on his head. Both he and the animal were oblivious to the cold and wind. He came upon the livery stable and dug out a fifty cent piece. He handed it to the boy who was looking at his horse. He got off the animal and gave the boy the coin. "Take care of Pony. Give him an extra cup of oats and brush him down real good" he said with a smile.
"Where you from Mr.?" the boy asked.
"Larabee, Chris Larabee. I'm from Four Corners and I'm just traveling through. Got some business I got to attend to then I'm on my way."
He walked over to the nearest saloon and as was his custom, he noticed all that was going on around him. One thing caught his eye. Near the saloon was a dress shop and sitting next to the window was a young woman sewing using the light that shown. From what he could see she was young and pretty.
He finally noticed the chill in the air as he walked into the saloon. There were very few customers in it at this time of day. He walked up to the bar "Whiskey and leave the bottle" he told the barkeeper. He was on his third glass when the girl from the dress shop entered.
"Hi Lou. Is May around? I have her dress finished" she said as she noticed the man drinking at the bar.
"She's in the back counting boxes. Watch the bar for a minute and I'll go get her."
"Sure thing Lou" she replied and looked over at the stranger again. She smiled.
This time he was looking back. He was drawn toward her. Her voice was as pretty as she was and he found himself smiling back at her.
"Hello" she said as she took a step toward him. She couldn't stop gazing into his eyes. They beckoned her toward him.
"You are a sight for these tired eyes. If I knew your name I'd invite you to dinner if I knew of a good place to eat."
His voice broke her out of the spell. "Misty, my name is Misty. The locals like to eat at Josie's. I could take you there if you'd like." She found herself blushing as the words came out in a rush.
"That would be fine. Let me get settled at the boarding house and I'll meet you back here in an hour" he said as put a coin on the bar for the whiskey. He walked toward the doors and said "My name's Chris by the way. Chris Larabee."
May walked up and tapped Misty on the shoulder. "Misty you have my dress ready?"
"Yes" she said as she stared at the man's back.
"Is anything wrong?" May asked as she looked at her friend.
"I just met the most amazing man. I"m going to dinner with him tonight"
"Are you out of your mind? You don't even know a thing about him!" May said to Misty.
"I know his name and I know that he has the most amazing eyes I've ever seen" Misty replied.
"I give up. Can I have my dress now?"
"What? Oh the dress. Here pay me when you can" Misty said and she slowly walked out of the bar toward the dress shop.
Misty was early for her dinner with Chris. She was eager to see him again. She had felt a connection when their eyes met and wanted to investigate it further.
He showed up with a bunch of wildflowers in his hand and smiled as she waited by the door. She felt herself blushing again and walked them toward a side road that led to Josie's Eatery.
As they were led to a table he pulled out the seat for her and waited until she was situated before sitting in his chair.
Dinner was delicious and the conversation was lively. While waiting for the main course, Chris took her hand and traced patterns on the back of it.
Misty was mesmerized. She told him of losing her father to a bad heart and keeping the dress shop after her mother passed away a few years back. He listened and asked questions. She sensed a genuine interest from him and as he looked into her eyes, she started to trust him.
When dinner was over, he walked her back to the dress shop. She wanted to feel his arms around her but he kissed her hand instead.
"Will I see you tomorrow?" she asked hopefully.
"I think I can arrange that. I'll meet you at Josie's for breakfast. I still have business in the area so I think I'll send word to Four Corners and let them know I'll be delayed" he replied as him tipped his hat and went to the boarding house. "By the way why are you named Misty?"
"Ma said my Pa was all misty eyed when I was born and since he died before I was christened I was named that way" she said with a coy smile.
"That's a nice story. I'm glad you told me."
Throughout the week they shared what time they could with each other. She found him outside the dress shop whenever she would break for lunch and he would surprise her with a licorice whip while he attended to business. He found himself talking to her about the loss of his wife and son and how he had come about living in Four Corners. By the end of the week, people regarded them as a couple.
The following Saturday Chris arranged for a picnic. He got a heavily laden picnic basket from Josie's and tied it to a cinch on his saddle.
He went to get her at the shop and he saw her come near him with a kitten in her hand. The kitten looked at Chris and hissed.
"I don't know why she did that. Bad kitty Boo" she said as she put the kitten down on the floor in the shop.
"I don't worry about all things liking me as long as certain ones do" he replied as he put an arm around her with a smile.
3 the picnic
Chris walked her out the door and reached for her arm. In one fluid movement, he placed her behind him on the saddle. They rode for over an hour until they found the perfect spot. He got down from the horse and grabbed her by the waist, placing her down next to him. For the briefest of moments he could feel her warmth next to him and he sighed.
He tied Pony next to the lake nearby and spread out the blanket. He laid out the feast before them and they ate with light conversation. They enjoyed the sunshine and the beauty around them. After they ate, he laid her down next to him and kissed her. She melted in his embrace. They held each other for what seemed like an eternity. She fell asleep in his arms. The sun was just starting to fade off in the western sky.
He slowly detached himself from her embrace and went to Pony. He got his rifle from the sleeve of the saddle and walked about twenty yards. He took careful aim...
She woke just before the sound of the rifle went off. A sense of foreboding caused her to look up. Her expression was that of shock and amazement. She saw his smile as he aimed the gun. The sound of the rifle going off pierced the early evening air as the bullet pierced her heart. He wrapped the body in the blanket and rolled it down the ravine.
He got on Pony and left in the opposite direction of Roswell.
Epilogue Four Corners
Chris walked toward the Clarion wanting to see Mary. It had been over a month since she was shot and her arm was merely in a sling as opposed to taped to her chest. Nathan was pleased with her healing and things were getting back to normal. Even Ezra was more likely to be found playing poker than at the ink presses.
On any given day Chris would be out looking for Rafe but the trail had gone cold. He had the men take turns looking for him in the surrounding areas. What was once a big posse was now just two men at a time searching every nook and cranny. Chris insisted that they double up just because of what happened the day of the hanging.
Despite the fact that he sent out wires to the surrounding areas and constant updates, he couldn't help but be concerned. He now knew he had looked into the face of evil and that Rafe had to be stopped and he was the one who had to do it. He wasn't just afraid for Mary but for his sister and all those unsuspecting women who Rafe could kill.
Mary heard the door open and smiled at Chris. "A letter came for you while you were away" she said as she touched his hand. She went toward the desk and handed him the letter. "Any idea who it's from?"
He opened it and once read, let it fall from his hands. His face turned white. Mary touched him and all he could of think of was her. "That bastard' he swore as he felt the rage boil within him.
To be continued