A Rose By Any Other Name
(Old West)

by Jennifer


When Chrys ran into the saloon she was completely out of breath. Simon had finally caught up with her. She had thought she had lost him back in Bitter Creek but of course she had not. She scanned the saloon looking for a hiding place or a quick get away but a bright red jacket caught her attention. It couldnít be, could it? Then he turned around to face the man with the bowler hat he had been sitting with and there was no doubt in her mind that it was indeed him, Ezra Standish.

A little smile spread across her lips as she took in his chestnut hair and his mesmerizing green eyes. She had not seen him since Fort Latimer when they had done that con together. Unfortunately, things had gone wrong and he had ended up in jail. She had heard he had jumped bond, this was going to be some reunion she thought. She slowly walked up to him and tapped him on the back and he turned to meet her brown eyes.

He was shocked to see her to say the least. He was rendered speechless and few things could do that. There was no exchange of pleasantries or introductions before she pulled him to her and devoured his lips with her own. He ran his hands threw her curly brown hair like he had done in the past so many times. Slowly he pulled away to look at her. She looked the same. Her eyes still danced mischievously when she was in trouble, and he could tell this was the case. He had seen a few men enter the saloon directly after her and knew that this display in part was for them. What kind of trouble was she in now, he wondered. His eyes slowly drifted from her to JD Dunne, the youngest member of the seven protectors of Four Corners that admittedly Ezra himself was a part of. The kid looked dumbfounded his mouth hung open in surprise. He was waiting for some explanation from Ezra but that would have to wait because the three men that had followed Chrys into the saloon were approaching them.

"Sir," one of the gentlemen said as he tipped his hat in acknowledgment to Ezra. He looked at Chrys out of the corner of his eye, searching for any kind of clue of what he might be getting himself into. The man who appeared to be in charge wore a white cowboy hat, and was dressed in some kind of attire that Ezra would not have been caught dead in. Ezra watched the man in the middle direct his hired goons to grab Chrys but before they could Ezra had his derringer out. "How can I be of service to you, gentlemen?" Ezra southern voice questioned.

"That woman conned my daddy into leaving half his fortune to her, now legally there is nothing I can do about that unless I marry her and under our patriarchal law everything she owns will become the property of her husband." the man in the white hat explained.

Ezra dropped in derringer to his side, and sat down. His gold tooth showing he remarked, "Sorry gentlemen it seems I acted too rashly."

JD looked over at Ezra, was he really going to let these men take this woman and force her to marry the man in the white hat. He knew Ezra had tried to force his own mother into a marriage but that was to save her from impending charges but this woman had not done any thing wrong - at least to his knowledge. He wasnít going to let them take her until she had a time to explain. He got up to rise but Ezra shook his head, which told JD he had a plan.

The men had nearly made it out of the saloon when Chrys turned to look at Ezra. Her eyes spoke volumes. They reflected anger, hurt and desperation and for a brief moment he was sorry he had let the situation go on as long as he had. "Gentlemen, may I point out a problem with your scheme," Ezra asked.

The men turned back around and were about to answer Ezra, when Ezra interrupted. "There is a slight flaw with your plan gentlemen. You may have failed to notice the wedding band on the ladyís finger, and even may plan to ignore it. I assure you though the courts will not ignore it. Now, gentlemen, will you unhand my wife?" Ezra demanded more than asked.

After the men let Chrys go and they left the saloon cursing. They were not happy with the situation but Ezra being a good judge of character realized they would not resort to any kind of violence. He placed his hand on the small of her back and escorted her back to his table. He pulled out a chair for her then sat down next to her. JD just sat there gawking. He did not know if what Ezra had said was the truth. Ezra was a con man and he could have been just a story but something told JD that he had spoken the truth. His assumption proved true when Ezra confirmed that Chrys and him were married. JD was surprised because Ezra never mentioned being married or even mentioned her name. He knew Ezra was a private person but to forget to tell someone you were married was pretty major.

After the formal introductions Ezra pulled JD aside and asked him to keep the nature of their relationship a secret from everyone, especially the rest of the townís protectors. Ezra wasnít ready to answer questions about Chrys yet. He told JD he would tell everyone when he was ready but until then he was trusting him to keep the secret.

Ezra and his wife left the saloon and headed for his room where they would have more privacy. As Ezra opened the door to his room his wife asked if he missed her. Ezra didnít respond right away, he just looked at her a moment. Despite everything he still loved her. He remembered the first time they met. He was barely twenty then and his skills with the cards were as proficient as they were now. He had been playing a hand of poker in the back when she had walked in. He could still remember how innocent she looked in that floral print dress but that was how she wanted to appear. He had been taken in by her breath taking beauty and had been blind to her intentions at first.

She had joined another game in progress and in no time at all had won the pot. He noticed her skill seemed to equal his own as they had both won about the same amount of money. They both would have made off great if a man who had been watching them hadnít charged them with cheating. They had both fought their way out of there, just barely escaping the tar and feathers. After that they had been inseparable and one night when they had too much to drink they tied the knot at a local justice of the peace.

They loved each other, but they could never live together. They both had to try and top the other and after a while that got exhausting but they always did have fun together. Truthfully, besides his six comrades, she was the only one heíd trust with his life.

He shut the door behind them and answered, "What do you think?" as he brought her close to him and once again engaged his lips with hers. She would not be here long and he planned on making the most of it.

Meanwhile JD was in the sheriffís office trying to avoid anyone in order not to let Ezraís secret slip but it was not working. Buck had found him and could tell something was bothering him. He told JD he was not going to leave until he told him everything. That was what JD was afraid of. He kept pushing and pushing until JD could not take it anymore. He had to say something and Ezra had said he could not mention that they were married but he did not say he could not mention what had transpired between Chrys and Ezra. After all, the kiss they had shared had been witnessed by the whole saloon.

He looked at Buck and finally spoke, "Chrys came in and kissed Ezra."

"Chris did what?" Buck exclaimed, "Kid you must be joking."

"Now Buck I was there when it happened. They seemed to both be enjoying themselves." JD responded.

He didnít know how Buck knew Chrys and he didnít want to. One secret was enough to keep. He had never thought it would be so hard. As soon as he was finished keeping this secret he vowed not to keep another one but even so he was curious how Buck knew Ezraís wife. Suddenly he got worried, Buck only knew women in one context and that was physically. If Ezra found out about Buckís involvement with his wife he did not know what would happen.

"Kid, I think you must have misunderstood," Buck challenged.

"Buck I know what a kiss looks like," JD said in annoyance. He looked at the disbelief on Buckís face, "Well they are having dinner at the hotel tonight, you can see for yourself!" JD said as he stomped off.

Buck could not believe what he had just heard come out of JDís mouth. If anyone else had told him that he would not have even considered the possibility but he had heard it out of the kidís mouth. If Chris Larabee, their leader, kissed Ezra there had to be a good reason for it. One thing puzzled Buck, if this hypothesis was true. Why hadnít Ezra decked Chris? JD had not mentioned any kind of scrimmage; instead he had remarked that they both seemed to enjoy it. Could Ezra and Chris really have feelings for each other? Chris had always seemed to dislike Ezra but maybe that was just a disguise to hide his real feelings Buck thought to himself. He shook that last thought off. He needed to find the rest of the guys to see if they knew what was going on.

Buck had found all the guys but none of them had any idea why Chris who always dressed in black would kiss Ezra. They had all dismissed it at first until they heard that JD had witnessed it and he had not been the only one. Still the guys thought there must have been a reason. They could not believe Chris would have those kinds of feelings for Ezra, especially since the way he talked about women and looked at Mary Travis, the local proprietor of the Clarion. Still the other four men had their doubts so they decided to find out the real story.

Chrys Standish was busy fastening her necklace around her neck. She turned and smiled at her husband who was sitting on his rocking chair. She walked over to give him a soft kiss on the lips then picked up her suitcase that she had retrieved from the livery where she had dumped it when she first rode into town.

She made it to the door and turned around, "Iím sorry about dinner. I was looking forward to meeting all your friends."

He didnít reply and it two seconds she was gone. He pulled himself off the rocker and grabbed his jacket off his bed and put it on. Suddenly his door opened wide and Chrys ran in and threw her arms around his neck and kissed him passionately, "I love you Ezra Standish and donít you forget it," she said.

He broke into a broad grin exposing his golden tooth; "I love you too my dear, but if you donít hurry your going to miss your stage. I wish you could have stayed longer but you mother needs you now."

With one last kiss she was gone but she promised Ezra sheíd be back as soon as things were settled with her mother.

After their private reunion Ezra and Chrys had returned to the saloon where they found Chrysís brother waiting for them. He had spent the last week trying to track her down to let her know her mother was not well. He had always like Chrysí mother and he hoped she would recover. He could not wait for Chrys to return. He had not realized how much he had missed her until she had re-emerged in his life. He opened his door and made his way to the restaurant. He sighed; it looked like he would be dining alone.

He found himself an empty table and sat down. He was enjoying his supper when Chris Larabee walked in and pulled up a chair next to him and asked if he could join him. Ezra merely gestured for him to have a seat. During the course of dinner Ezra was not paying attention and he flung his potatoes, hitting Chris in the face with them. He apologized profusely and moved across the table to remove the potatoes from his face with a napkin.

The four men sitting at the opposite end of the restaurant misinterpreted this innocent gesture. Buck Wilmington, Josiah Sanchez, Nathan Jackson and Vin Tanner could not believe what they were seeing. Everything the kid had said appeared to be true. They were all stunned and speechless as they sat eating their dinner and watching the two gunslingers.

Ezra spied them from across the room and saw them pointing and whispering. He got a puzzled look on his face until he saw JD enter and walk over to the table where the four men were sitting. Ezra figured JD must have spilled the beans and told them about his wife. They must be here to check her out he thought. Well there was no use hiding from his past he thought as he got up and asked Chris to join him over at their friendsí table because he had announcement to make.

Chris and Ezra stopped in front of their table. Buck, Vin, Josiah and Nathan were all at a loss for words but JD was not. He wanted to know where Chrys was because she had promised to show him some poker moves that would give him an edge on his competitors. He hoped this lesson would be more profitable than the one Ezraís mother, Maude, had given him.

"Ezra, whereís Chrys?" he asked.

Buck turned to the kid, "JD are you blind Chris is standing right beside him."

"No Buck this is Chris not Chrys," JD tried to explain.

"Anyone else lost," Vin asked.

If they were lost then that meant JD had not filled them in. So Ezra had misjudged the kid, he was capable of keeping a secret. That however did not explain why they had been watching him and Chris.

"Mr. Dunne, is referring to Chrys my wife, not Chris our notorious partner. Their appellations are the same but they are spelt different," Ezra explained.

Realization dawned on the four men sitting at the table and they realized that the Chrys that Ezra had been kissing was not there Chris. They knew there had to be an explanation. They all looked at each other than burst out laughing. Ezra and Chris did not understand what was so funny until JD asked Buck, "If you didnít know Chris was Chrys, does that mean you thought our Chris kissed Ezra?"

"Afraid so," Vin answered for him.

Chris just glared at all of them. He couldnít believe that they had thought he would kiss Ezra even for a second

Ezra smiled and tried to suppress a chuckle, "Gentlemen, Iím afraid that despite Mr. Larabeeís attributions he is not my type."

Everyone was fighting to regain their own composure but the battle was lost when Chris Larabee asked Ezra, "Are you trying to say Iím not good enough for you?"

At that point they all broke out into a fit of laughter and could not stop. Every time they looked like they were coming to the end of their laughing spell one of the guys would catch the other's eye and they would all start up laughing again. That night the townís seven protectors did no get to bed until dawn because they stayed up swapping stories and telling jokes. In the spirit of the evening they even managed to laugh at a few of JDís jokes that were even worse than the dreaded paw one. That night the seven were no longer just comrades that protected a town together; they were friends.

THE END

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