Oliver was just a big old ox always throwing his weight around. He thought he was so big. Jacob swiped crossly at the moisture gathering in his eyes as he stumbled along.
Jacob had it in his head; he knew what he would do. He would go to town and declare his love for Miss Lane. He had some money in the bank saved for Christmas. There was a pin in the dress shop, It looked like the one his Ma used to wear, he would buy it for Miss Lane. It was expensive. It looked like one a beau might give his girl, all pressed flowers in a sliver case. Jacob smiled to himself as he hurried along. He would just make it before the shop closed for the night.
Rebecca Pender was just bringing the blind down when Jacob walked in. She stood with hands on hips scowling down at him.
"We're closed," she snapped.
"The door is still open," he told her.
"I was about to close it and don't be cheeky." she turned her pretty head in a quizzical look.
"Did you wipe your feet Jacob?"
Jacob ran to the door mat and made a big show of wiping his feet.
She threw her eyes to heaven as Jacob came slowly back to her.
He looked from her prim closed up face to her silly long skirt and still couldn't think what his brother Oliver saw in her.
"I want to buy the pin in that case." he pointed.
She just looked over her shoulder at it and back at him.
"It's expensive Jacob and what would you want with it?'
You could really tell Miles Pender had given her this shop for her 16th Birthday and she wasn't impressed with it.
"Look Becky will you just sell me the damn pin." Jacob began to fish the notes out of his pocket.
"It's Miss Pender to you and don't be so rude Jacob or I won't sell you anything."
"I'm sorry, look I have the money."
She took the pin to the counter and reaching under she produced a small box and some delicate pink paper.
"No box," he waved it away. "I only have the money for the pin."
"The pin comes with tissue and a box,"
She placed the tissue in the tiny box, took a polishing cloth to the pin and polished it to a gleaming shine. She placed the pin in the box and tying it up with a pink ribbon she handed it to him. Jacob was so taken with her handy work he had to be reminded to hand over the money.
"Thanks," he said under his breath as he walked away.
She followed him to the door as she meant to close it after him.
"Good luck, I hope she likes it."
Jacob turned to her with a look of outrage. "It's not for a girl."
His lip curled as he tried desperately to think what to say next.
Rebecca Pender just gave him a knowing smile as she pushed him out through the threshold and closed the door after him.
Jacob tried not to run to the hotel. He was a man now and must act like one. He so wished he had flowers. He had seen the men in their best white shirt holding a bunch of flowers. No one ever funs you in your best clothes if you're holding flowers. You have to be all togged out in your best when you're walking beside a lady. Jacob nodded to himself as he stepped up onto the porch.
He was about to pass reception when Miles Pender called out to him.
"She ain't here,"
Jacob sauntered over, trying to appear casual.
Miles Pender was checking through a list as he spoke.
You can try the saloon, that's where she usually is at this hour."
This was perfect, Jacob had enough money left, he'd buy her a drink. This was one time he wished he was wearing his Sunday clothes instead of his tatty school shirt and braces but it couldn't be helped.
He pushed open the double doors and sauntered in. His dark blue eyes scanned the many tables, as he wandered along the rows.
He froze, the smile slipped from his face as he spotted her in a shaded corner by the piano. She was sitting on the lap of a large man, he looked to be a miner. His hair was greasy looking and he hadn't even shaved. His was kissing her neck.
"Hay you quit that." Jacob growled up at him as he took hold of Eva Lanes hand and pulled her off his lap.
"Jacob," she snapped as she ripped her hand from his.
Jacob looked at her, his thin boyish face pale in the lamp light.
"But he was...being disrespectful to you."
Everyone around him suddenly laughed.
Ike Peabody slipped out from behind the bar and went quickly to stand by his side.
"Now Jacob isn't it time you were heading home son. Your brothers will be wonderin where you're at." he smiled, trying to keep everything light.
The laughter died abruptly as the miner got to his feet and walked slowly over. He took hold of the front of Jacobs shirt and pulled the boy to him.
"I ain't disrespecting nobody. Now why don't you buzz off you little worm."
With that he shoved Jacob backwards. The boy landed hard banging the back of his head on the boards.
Jacob got quickly back to his feet. A hot flame of temper overtook him and before he could think better of it he put a hand to the nearest table and swiped up a large gun.
In an instant the miner whipped out his own gun and clicked it ready. Jacob held the gun in both hands and tried to control the sudden fit of shaking that overtook him.
There was a sudden eruption of noise as everyone scrambled under the tables.
Only the miner and Jacob were left standing now with Ike Peabody standing between them.
"Get out of the way Peabody, the brats got it coming." the large man growled.
"You put the gun down now or you're barred from this establishment and there ain't another bar for twenty miles each way."
Ike Peabody tried to keep his voice even as he stood between them. He put a hand to Jacobs hands and slowly lowered his weapon.
"Don't help him Peabody, the kid wants his first shoot out. He's gonna get one here and now."
The miner raised his gun and took aim.
Everyone jumped as a shot rang out. Jacob got such a fright he dropped his gun.
The miner growled in pain and cradled his stricken hand. After a second he reached down to retrieve his gun.
"You reach for that gun and it'll be the last thing you do."
Glen Taylor walked slowly over and kicked the gun across the floor.
"I think you've had enough, it's time you went home." he told the man.
The miner stood his ground for just a moment weighing up whether it was worth the fight. Finally he swiped up his hat from the bar and pushed his way through the crowd on his way out.
"Deputy Taylor, am I glad to see you." Ike grinned as he let out his breath.
Glen patted his shoulder as he passed him. He then went to pick up the gun at Jacobs feet.
Jacob could feel Eva Lane looking directly at him.
"It's a good thing you came when you did," he told Glen "I didn't want to have to kill the man."
Glen put the gun down on the table beside the boy.
"Yep, that would have been a mighty shame."
Before Jacob could react Glen took him by the ear and marched him through the crowd and out of the saloon. The men all laughed as they went, more from relief than anything.
Once they were outside Jacob pulled away from him.
"What you do that for, making a fool of me." he whined.
"You made a fool of yourself, what the hell were you thinking pulling a gun on a man like that. You could have gotten yourself killed."
"I can handle myself."
Glen took hold of him by the color of his jacket.
"Where we goin?" Jacob asked as he was marched across the street.
"Where do ya think?"
Glen pushed him into the sheriff's office and took up a large set of keys.
"Let's see you explain to your brothers how you spent a week in the cells."
Glen put a hand to his shoulder and stirred him into the back room.
"It don't bother me."
Glen turned to put a key to the lock of the cell nearest the office.
"It doesn't bother you huh, well you just see when Oliver hears you were in the saloon chasing every floozy in town."
"She's not a floozy." Jacob yelled out.
Glen looked up as suddenly the boy began to whimper. He turned away and put hands to his eyes trying desperately to control the emotion welling up.
"Hay come on now," Glen said.
"She was my girl," Jacob spoke in almost a whisper. "I bought her a pin and everything."
His bottom lip began to tremble as he cradled the tiny box in his hands.
Glen put a hand to his shoulder and led him over to a bench to sit.
"Jacob, she ain't anybody's girl. She's an actress, she likes to travel around, do her own thing."
Jacob swiped a hand across his eye. "I made a fool of myself, they were all laughing at me."
Glen took a seat beside him.
"Jacob every man in that there saloon made a fool of himself over a girl at some time or other. That's just part of being a man. The women, they make fools of us all."
"Why do men chase after women then."
"Because we're idiots Jacob, damn fool love struck idiots."
Jacob smiled up at him and took a ragged breath. He held out the box.
"Here, you can have this. Give it to your girlfriend."
"No Jacob, you hold on to it. Put it in a safe place. One day you'll need it again."
Glen woke with a start and immediately grabbed for his gun. He shook his head when he realized that it was only Oliver Cayden standing at his desk.
"You trying to give me a heart attack boy."
Oliver tried to speak but couldn't make himself understood.
"Calm down Oliver, he's through there," Glen pointed.
Oliver could see Jacob lying asleep covered in blankets in an open cell. A tin cup and a plate with a pie crust lay on the floor by his bed.
"Oh God, what's he done now."
"Oliver take a seat, you want some coffee?" Glen got up and took down two chipped looking cups from the shelf.
An hour later Oliver and Jacob were on their way home. They sat side by side on the seat of the wagon Oliver holding the reigns.
Jacob looked over at his brother. He couldn't read the expression on Oliver's face. That wasn't good.
"You gonna switch me?" he asked.
"No," Oliver looked over at him as if he were nuts.
"Well you look like you're gonna switch me."
"I should, but no."
"Then what?" Jacob asked.
Oliver let out a breath "Jacob you're going to be chopping and hauling a lot of wood."
Jacob groaned to himself.
"At least, we'll have wood for the winter," he said under his breath.
"It's not for the fire," Oliver told him.
Jacob looked over at him then.
"Yeah me and Alister were thinking we don't really want David learning your tricks. You're not a great influence little brother so we thought it best that we build on to the house so that you can have your own room."
"My own room?" Jacobs heart nearly sprung out of his chest.
"Yep so that David won't be learning any of your ways."
"He's very young, I am a bad influence" Jacob nodded enthusiastically.
"Alister has already started in on the plans, I will expect you to start choosing your wood first thing tomorrow morning. If we all work together we'll have it up and ready before winter sets in."
Despite all that had happened Jacob couldn't take the smile from his face as they made the short journey towards home.