A Lady in Defiance

A Lady in Defiance by Heather Blanton Page A

Book: A Lady in Defiance by Heather Blanton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Heather Blanton
mean to pry, Emilio,” Rebecca pressed, “but where
are your parents?”
    He rested his plate on his knobby knees and thought for a
moment. “Banditos burn our farm and shoot my parents when I was small.” He
shrugged. “I don’t remember Mama and Papa. The men who burned us out made us go
with them. We lived with them for a long time. I don’t know, maybe cinco −um,
five or six years. Then one night, Rose and I leave.” He greedily scraped up
some rice and cleaned his plate, satisfaction evident in the shadows on his
face. “We find Defiance, about, I theenk two years ago.”
    Rebecca pursed her lips thoughtfully for a second. “What is
it that you do for Meester−er, I mean, Mr . McIntyre?” Naomi and
Hannah grinned at the slip. The boy’s thick accent was infectious and
endearing.
    “Whatever he saze. Today, he say, help the seesters. Do what
they say.”
    Rebecca nodded. “Well, Emilio, we hope that he lets you come
back tomorrow. You’ve truly been an invaluable help, but please know there is
always room for you at our table whether you work for us or not. Will you come
to supper again sometime?”
    Lowering his head, Emilio looked down and scratched his knee
through holey trousers. Naomi could see he was struggling with the invitation
and the unexpected friendship behind it. She was rather surprised herself by
her enjoyment of his company, but he was such a sweet, unassuming boy. And he
had been a tremendous help. She thought he was as out of place in Defiance as
the three of them.
    “We hope you’ll come back to our table lots of times,” Hannah
invited between bites. “It’s good to have a friend in this town.”
    Tugging nervously at his collar, Emilio rose to his feet.
“Eef I say to Meester McIntyre that you need more help, this would be true,
yes?”
    “Oh, yes,” the sisters chorused.
    “You’ve been more help than we can tell you.” Rebecca
excitedly waved her cup in the air for emphasis. “Truly you have.”
    The boy nodded resolutely. “Then I tell Meester McIntyre
that.” Quickly, he turned, set his plate on his seat and disappeared into the
darkness, apparently taking a back trail to the saloon.
    The boy’s abrupt departure puzzled the girls. Listening for
his footsteps to fade, the three sat quietly around the fire, but their silence
stretched on. Staring up at the stars, Naomi assumed they were all speculating
about the future. Or perhaps knowing that they had a warm bed to sleep in made
it easier to dawdle outside beneath this stunning canopy.
    She had an urge to talk about the day, the boorish men, the
fighting prostitutes, but decided not to bring up any of it. Naomi felt so
emotionally fragile that she worried any talk about their current circumstances
might break down her defenses. She needed to be alone before she thought any
more about that.
    Eventually, as they sat there, they became aware of the
rising volume of noise in the town. Naomi had assumed with darkness Defiance
would settle down a bit; but if anything, it was more rowdy. Listening to their
fire pop and hiss, they could also clearly hear a raucous, non-stop piano
belting out half-recognizable tunes down at the Iron Horse Saloon, accompanied
by drunken laughter, raised voices, and the shrill giggles of tipsy women. From
the street, the jangle of wagons and clip-clop of horses were punctuated by
yelling, cursing and the thud of fists on flesh. Sounds they had heard
throughout the day, but now they seemed twice as loud and a hundred times more
frightening.
    Hannah looked off in the distance, her eyes wide and round.
“It’s noisy isn’t it? Will they do this all night long? Be so rowdy?”
    Naomi poked the fire and watched the sparks swirl towards
heaven. She suspected the party was just getting started. Fear and loathing in
her voice, she whispered, “I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.”
     
     

 
     
    Chapter 8
     
    As Rose grabbed a clean glass from the bar, she caught sight
of Emilio slipping in for

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