Maybe We'll Stay
- Relationships mend/are torn asunder
- The final event becomes another secret for generations to come
He hadn't meant to blurt it out like that, but it caught everyone's attention, including Emily's, making her green eyes widen. Zahn lifted his chin, trying to emulate the regal poise his parents had worked hard to drill into him.
Not unexpectedly, the man who had shot Lefty snarled, "Duke's got no power here."
"No, but my uncle the Corregidore of California does," replied Zahn. "And my cousin Damian, the alcalde." It was risky, dropping Damian's name. The alcalde wasn't exactly popular, and it showed on the faces around him. "But I won't be calling for help to deal with you. If you just walk away now, you will be able to walk." He tightened his fists, trying not to see Emily's growing panic out of the corner of his eye, keep his mind on the fight in front of him and not the possibility of his friend dying behind him.
He dared to look sideways. Emily had vanished from his sight. There was a scrape, a click, and then Lefty's voice, thick with pain but as stubborn as always, saying, "Don't you be counting me out just yet. You ain't by half finished the job."
Zahn smiled, feeling the weight of their friendship at his back. "Is this how you always greet newcomers to Renaissance?" he asked, squaring his shoulders, not letting his eyes flick to the revolver on the floor but keeping it in sight.
"He was cheating," snarled his opponent. He obviously saw where his gun had fallen, too. He dove for it at the same time Zahn did. Zahn was bigger, stronger; but the other man was determined, and had both hands around the barrel. Zahn heaved with his shoulder, crashing them both into the wall. A derringer cracked, bringing a shout of pain. Zahn sat up and saw another shooter, wringing his hand. Emily had produced the little gun from somewhere, probably the depths of Lefty's coat, which was wrapped around her.
"Watch out behind you, Zahn," she said calmly. "And you. How dare you accuse my brother of cheating?" The derringer was only a two-shot, but she obviously meant the second bullet to find a target, too.
Lefty had slipped back to the floor, struggling to continue the fight but obviously fading quickly. Emily's jaw tightened, bringing out a strong family resemblance. Zahn rolled to his feet, dragging the other man upright. At the same time, the doors of the saloon swung open. A broad-faced sheriff , followed by several deputies, poured through.
The small town was very well-organized. Within a few hours Lefty was under a doctor's care and the two other men were in a jail cell. Emily sat holding Zahn's hand by Lefty's bedside while they listened to what had happened at the saloon's gambling table. "I wasn't cheating," said Lefty while the doc stitched him up. "You know that, right, Em?"
"Well, I always know," she replied with a secretive smile.
"You really Alexander Von Theissen?" Lefty asked Zahn. "Earl of the Bronx, Count of Moswetuset? The runaway?"
Zahn blushed, but nodded. "Yeah. That's me. You know about that, eh?"
"I read the newspapers. " Lefty lay back on his pillows. "Why'd you run off?"
Zahn looked down at Emily's hand in his. "Father wants me to marry a vapid, vacuous idiot because she's the eldest daughter of the King of the Carolinas. I didn't feel like being a pawn in a political game. So I left."
Left smiled slowly. The medication was probably kicking in. "In that case, you may marry my sister."