The Gambler and the Preacher's Daughter - Conclusion
Letty sat on the messy bed in the small room above the saloon. Her new friend, Esther, sat across from her, brushing her long hair into thick waves around her shoulders. “Your father will be looking for you. I can’t take a chance that he will come here.”
“I refuse to go home.” She had managed to right her skirts and clean the dirt off her face, and Esther had combed her hair back into order in the bun on top her head. “The thought of my father making me marry that horrible man makes me sick at my stomach.”
“Is there someone I can get to help you? Do you know anyone else here in town?” Her eyes held sympathy for the other girl.
Letty thought for a moment, and she remembered the kind eyes of Rusty McGraw. She looked pleadingly at the girl across from her and nodded. “Do you know Mr. McGraw?”
“Rusty? Of course, everyone knows Rusty. He’s a good man.” Esther smiled. “You like him? You know he is a gambler, correct?”
She didn’t care if he was a thief or a murderer at this point. She just wanted to get away. And for some reason, she thought he would help her. “Can you find him? Bring him here?” Letty put a hand to her breast. “He’s not married, is he?”
The girl laughed heartily. “Of course not. Let me see if I can find him down in the saloon. There is a card game going on now and I could just wager my bloomers he is down there.” She reached out and took Letty’s hands in her own. “Stay here, I’ll be right back.”
Letty fell asleep on the bed while she waited. It was dark when she heard steps outside the room and she cowered in the corner of the bed against the wall. What if it was her father? Or Mr. Burke? Her heart thudded as she listened to the door knob turn and pulled the blanket over her head. What if the young prostitute had sold her out and went to fetch her father?
A masculine voice spoke softly. “I’ll take it from here, Esther. Thank you for coming to get me.” He chuckled in the darkness of the room. “Seems I am coming to your rescue again, Miss Letty.”
She let the blanket drop and looked up to see the tall, dark shadow in the room. It was Rusty McGraw. Her eyes widened as he approached the bed and a solitary tear fell down her cheek. “I didn’t know what else to do.”
The big man sat down on the bed and took her in his arms. “So, you’ve gotten yourself in a bit of trouble again?”
Letty nodded against the strong hard chest. “My father is going to marry me off to a man I cannot bear to be around.”
“I heard. Esther told me the whole story.” He set her away from him. “Did that old bastard hurt you?”
She shook her head. “No. I ran. And now I don’t know where I’m going to go because I fear if I go home my father will lock me in our rooms until he marries me to Mr. Burke.”
“Well, we can’t have that. A pretty young thing like you don’t need to be saddled with the likes of William Burke.” He reached out and brushed another tear from her cheek. “They are looking for you. The word is all over town. Heard you assaulted old William.”
Letty stiffened. “I slapped him because he tried to kiss me. The whiskey on his breath was nauseating. I need to get away.”
“I cannot take you out of town until later tonight. I’m not inclined to go getting myself shot.” He grinned. “I’m going to go downstairs to my poker game and try to get the word out that you were seen by some of the miners hiding in some brush east of town. When I’m sure it is safe, I’ll be back to get you and we will ride west.”
“Then what? Will you put me on a train back east?”
“We shall see. Things become much clearer after you have time to think.” He stood up and touched her hair. “I’ll take you to my cabin in the hills and give things time to settle down. Maybe, you will like me enough to stick around. It wouldn’t be a hardship on me to have the company of a pretty lady.”
Letty thought about that for a moment and smiled. It wouldn’t be a hardship on her to stay with this kindly, handsome man. Gambler or not. “I’ll be ready when you return.”
He tipped his hat and turned toward the door. “I’m counting on it. See you in a few hours.”
She felt her heart skip a beat and she realized, she may never want to leave Rusty after tonight.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my short story "The Gambler and the Preacher's Daughter". I hope you enjoyed the series and I promise, I will be regaling you with another story series soon. In the meantime, you can find my newest release "Deadly Vision" on sale for the month of July on Kindle as well as "Blessed Be" free on Kindle from 7/7-11/2022. Stop back soon!