A Promise in Defiance: Romance in the Rockies Book 3

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Authors: Heather Blanton
thing, like her sisters, but different—more
wide-eyed, and bubbly maybe. Those clear blue eyes and that fetching smile put
him in mind of a girl he’d known back in his teenage days. A girl he had not
allowed himself to think of in years, or how much he still missed her.
    He shook Hannah’s hand
and the pleasant greeting on her face changed inexplicably to fear. She jerked
her hand away as if he’d burnt it. “Logan Tillane,” she squeaked. “Doc said you’re
a bad man.”
    The blunt statement
caught everyone off guard, as evidenced by their sudden, awkward silence and
uncomfortable glances. Logan lowered his hand. “Doc?”
    “Our town doctor. I
work with him some. I sewed up a man’s arm today—a man who’s pretty unhappy
with you . . . but Doc said he should be afraid of you.”
    Logan licked his lips
and raised his hat to his chest, a contrite move, he hoped. “Well, a while
back, that man would have had great reason to fear me.” He fanned the hat
nervously. “I ain’t like that no more. Christ changed me. Everything about me.”
    Hannah smiled, and then
her shoulders lowered a little. “God does have a way of pulling us out of the
muck of our mistakes.”
    Logan relaxed too. “Yes
ma’am. He sure does. I hope my background will allow me to reach folks without
them feeling too judged. After all, if God can save a sinner like me, nobody is
beyond His reach.”
    Rebecca waggled a
wooden spoon at him. “Can I quote you on that, Preacher?”
    “Yes ma’am, you may.”
    The group chuckled, but
Hannah’s expression soured. “I hope you haven’t changed so much you can’t
defend yourself. I don’t think that fella I tended to today is through with
you. His name is Smith, and he’s in trouble all the time.”
    Logan took a deep
breath. He had not been tested much, not by out-and-out violence until today,
and it had grieved him to settle things that way. Either Smith would crawl back
under his rock or find excuses to make more trouble. Sounded like he would be
back for more. “I reckon I’ll do what I have to.”

    Billy Page stood
quietly at the door of the empty saloon. Empty except for a plump woman, her graying,
drab brown hair pulled back in a tight knot, fluidly dragging a mop across the
stained floor. She almost seemed to dance with it as she swayed left and then
right, working her way back behind the bar. The scent of the pine cleaner
almost covered the stench of stale beer and vomit . . . almost.
    He had come to Dodge
City to take her away from all of this, if she would go. He hoped she would.
Billy wanted to repay Eleanor for her kindness to him a few months back. The
woman had bailed him, a complete stranger out of jail, and even pushed Wyatt
Earp around on his behalf. But it was her last words that haunted him.
    I was a Hannah, only no
one ever came back for me.
    Billy couldn’t make
that right, but maybe he could improve the woman’s lot in life. He cleared his
throat and pushed through the batwing doors. “Eleanor?”
    The woman turned, still
holding a mug. In the few months since Billy had seen her, she’d aged a fair
amount. Her hair was nearly all gray now. Only a few streaks of brown remained,
and she’d lost some weight. Enough to add to the wrinkles around her eyes and
mouth. Dodge City was weighing on her.
    She stared at him for
an instant with only suspicion in her brow, then her eyes lit up and she
grinned. “Billy. Why, I’ll be . . .” She set the mug down and
came out from behind the bar. “It’s good to see you. Oh . . .”
her face sagged, “unless you’re headed home ’cause things didn’t work out with
your gal.”
    Billy pulled his bowler
off and pressed it to his chest. “No ma’am. Things worked out well. Hannah’s
agreed to marry me, and we have a beautiful little boy.”
    Even as a little
sadness shadowed the lines in her face, Eleanor clasped her hands over her
heart and sighed. “I’m happy for you. I truly am.” She

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