Unlikely Arrangement is co-written by two separate authors: Alexis and Alice (ChemistryOfLife)
Throughout the story, Alexis and I will occasionally leave authors notes at the end of chapters. This will be our only time to ask you to consider following and reviewing as you read or following ChemistryOfLife if you are eager for more updates. There are a total of 61 chapters for Unlikely Arrangement already prewritten on a document, and I anticipate posting every other day. If I forget, just shoot me a message!
The two authors went back and forth in writing a new chapter in their designated character's perspective. Alice wrote in the point of view of Tessa Hampton and Alexis from the point of view of Andrew Marshall. Special thanks to Myst Marshall for being an extra pair of eyes, editing all the stupid mistakes she caught that Alexis and I made!
Aside from the basic facts about the characters and plot determined by the coauthors at the beginning of the story, nothing was planned, mapped, or laid out in explicit detail ahead of time.
This is the story that the characters gave us to tell.
"Well, you could be a cowpuncher. Consider yourself lucky it isn't worse."
There were many things that should not be said in a public saloon. There were a few kinds of people that shouldn't even be in a saloon, though that couldn't always be helped. Idjits were idjits.
But existing in a saloon wasn't what got an idjit in trouble.
It was when they started running their mouths, loudly, in a bar full of the very people they were shittin' on.
So, it wasn't that big of a surprise when every ten gallon hat was turning towards the source of the shit-slinger, some fancy-ass little cuss with more money than body hair. Somehow, he seemed surprised that the whole room had gone quiet, and all eyes were on him.
"Hey, why don'tcha say 'at a little louder, son, I think there's a guy in Texas didn't hear ya," someone remarked, which got a few snorts around the room.
"Excuse me, sir, but, honest question: when did you last bathe?"
The man next to the first that had had a comeback made a sour expression. He had been prepared to ignore the original comment; asshole kids like that were all over the place when you dared to risk coming into town. But, if this little shit was gonna start somethin', he was gonna get what was comin' to 'im.
"Witchur momma," the first cowboy retorted, earning himself snickers in response. "Now y'all best git, before somebody makes ya."
The kid, barely a hair on his chin, got to his feet. "Butch," the person he'd been sitting with hissed, as if to try and weasel out of the situation, but "Butch" ignored him. "How dare you speak of my mother that way!" the boy exclaimed. "At least my mother doesn't spend her nights with horses, unlike you barbarians."
The second cowboy stood up and raised his revolver in one swift motion, pointing it at the younger, stupider man. He wasn't the only one, either, as many firearms ended up in the boy's direction. "You can leave this saloon on your feet 'r in a casket, kid," the cowboy said, scowling. "Get the fuck outta here."
"You wouldn't kill me," the boy responded cockily. "My father's Orville Vernon."
"Oh," the cowboy said, raising his hands sarcastically, and making a few others laugh. "Shit fellas, we got Orville Vernon's kid up in here. Well I guess that's that, right, ain't nothin' we can do—" Abruptly, he halted his sarcasm and fired his weapon, intentionally missing, but giving the boy a right scare regardless.
Butch jumped with the fright, which made the other cowboys laugh. He was soon taken by anger once again, and pulled out a gun of his own, which...admittedly, was surprising.
So the kid did have some ball hair.
"I….I will shoot you," he threatened, though he didn't seem very confident about that. The cowboy wondered if Butch even knew how to use the metal in his hand.
At this point, the barkeep decided that this was enough, and spoke up, "Mr. Vernon, I'm gonna have to ask you to leave."
"What did I do?!" the boy cried. "They drew first!"
"You started it, and I'm not letting them finish it, because they'll finish you," the barkeep said sternly. "Get out."
Wisely, Butch's little friend heeded the words and pulled the little fucker along with him, mumbling that they should just go. Butch seemed to take the high road, and didn't necessarily argue; but apparently he wasn't leaving without one last kick in the shin.
"Pity your mother didn't pick a nicer savage to sleep with."
Oh that was it.
"Drew," the first cowboy said warningly, but his warning was ignored, as the second spun around again and fired another two rounds at the cuss, except these two didn't miss. The squirrely friend of Butch's heard the shots and let go, about to bolt, until realizing Butch didn't follow.
Because Butch was wiggling on the floor, grasping at the holes in his chest.
Served 'im right.
"Goddammit Andrew…." the first cowboy muttered as Drew returned to his barstool.
"If it wasn't one of us, it'd have been somebody else, Emmett," Drew responded matter-of-factly, taking a swig of the whiskey in front of himself. And, to be fair, he wasn't wrong. He hadn't been the only one in the saloon ready to take shots at the mouthy fucker. It wasn't like the barkeep was about to kick him out for it, either.
Because Butch had it coming, and to be frank, ain't nobody in this room was gonna snitch. Not the barkeep, and not even Emmett either. So, Drew didn't know what the problem was, even as he could hear Butch's gasps getting fainter in the background.
"He was leavin', Drew," Emmett murmured, shaking his head and swigging his own whiskey. "Coulda just let it be."
Drew snorted. "Yeah, like he was ever gonna learn not t'run 'is mouth," he remarked. "You know what they teach 'em. He can get what he wants 'cause o' who his daddy is. Well, not anymore, huh. Ain't invincible now."
Emmett frowned. "Neither are you, Drew. Orville's gonna be cryin' for blood after this. You know that right? They grow up learnin' they're untouchable 'cause they are."
Andrew shrugged and opened his hands. "Technically ain't nobody touched him."
"You know how this goes, Emmett," Drew said, downing the rest of the whiskey and plopping the glass back onto the bar. "Sheriff will 'do 'is best' but ain't nobody gonna say shit, an' you know it. 'Sides, Orville's got daughters, ain't he? Or somethin'?"
Actually, come to think of it, Andrew didn't know shit about the Vernons. Just that they were old money fat cats and he didn't like them very much. Oh well.
Either way, Butch deserved it, and Drew wasn't remorseful in the slightest. He tipped his hat to Emmet and concluded, "I oughta be headin' back. See y'round, fellas."
And, as if nothing had happened, the other cowboys gave respectful nods Drew's way as he passed them on his way out. By now, Butch's friend had dragged him off and the door was clear, thankfully, so Drew wasn't stepping over a body, if a bit of a puddle of blood. The man approached his grullo and mounted up, clicking his tongue against his cheek to get the horse moving, before trotting away.
It wasn't often Andrew even got to spend time away from the ranch, with all the work that needed doing. He made sure to find time, though, since the situation was the same for...well, just everyone in his social circle. If they could make time, so could he.
But at the same time, what little he could spend away was always cut shorter than he'd have liked by the necessity to return. There was never a shortage of work to be done, between checking the fences, tending the livestock, and the fields—though there was less of that lately, since there were less hands and time for it—as well as making sure his senile mother didn't get herself killed falling in the well….
Honestly, he wouldn't be surprised if hell ran loose when he got back. But, that was the life of a cowpoke. Drew would be a liar if he said he'd be happy doing anything else with his life, and liars were a special bane of his, so that wasn't happening.
Unlike his brother, who decided to scamper back east because the west was too hard for him, Andrew didn't really have a choice in the matter, regardless of how he felt. He could sell the land, but where would he go? Where would Maw go?
Nah. The ranch was home, and it was gonna stay that way.
Even if Emmett was convinced Drew was going to jail.