Chapter Seventeen – The Meeting
Hell Bent for Leather
Hey, I know it's been a really, really long time. Will I ever finish this fan fic? Sure, I promise…it just takes some time for me. I have had a major case of writer's block, so, please bear with me! Also, our computer had failed and we lost the Word program…twice! It's good to be back! I indeed know it's been like two years…*mumbles*
Chapter Summary: Pat Garrett had saved Jessica Tunstall from Dirty Sanchez…he arrived right on time. Garrett informs Jessica that he has a meeting in Santa Fe with the Governor…and she had agreed to accompany him.
Another note…check this out: Beer, served at room temperature, was a popular drink during the Billy the Kid days, with Adolphus Busch introducing the artificial refrigeration and pasteurization of beer in 1880 with his Budweiser brand. Some saloons kept the beer in kegs stored on racks inside the saloon. Some saloons prided themselves on homemade beer and the beer was not always served at room temperature. Thanks Wikipedia!
Special thanks to my hubby Tom! Special thanks to everyone that has been reading this and sticking with me for the past…THIS FAN FIC WILL BE FINISHED SOON!
It was late afternoon when the transport from London touched down on the tarmac at Wheeler Airfield in New York. The plane was ultimately designed for the transport of cargo, but could accommodate passengers if need be. Cole had elected to resign his assigned seat and found the driver's compartment of a Willies Jeep a slight bit more accommodating. The pain in his left leg and the stiffness in his back were dulled by the ever present feeling of sorrow he felt in his heart for the woman who raised him.
A voice came over the intercom, snapping Cole from his repose. 'Major, there seems to be a reception party waiting for you!'
Cole managed his way to a window, and could see several black sedans with government markings parked on the far side of the landing strip. He could see the ground crew assembling outside as well. In a few minutes the plane was secured and the door was opened. Cole still on crunches, made his way to the exit.
Standing at the top of the stairway, Cole watched as two men dressed in black overcoats made their way up to him. Instinctively Cole's hand went to his hip.
"Major Cole Garrett, I presume." asked the older dark clad figure.
Cole nodded in acknowledgement.
"Sir, I'm Frank Wilson," he said as he produced and flipped open a leather wallet that housed a badge with the words United States Of America Secret Service.
"What I can do for you Mr. Wilson?" asked Cole with a bit of marvel in his voice.
Cole new damn well who Frank J. Wilson was, not only was he Secret Service, he was the head of the goddamn Secret Service! This was the man who went toe to toe with Al Capone in 1937 and won.
In a fluid motion Frank slid his identification back in his coat pocket and held out his hand to Cole. Frank smiled as Cole shook it. "I couldn't help but see you go for your side arm as we approached."
Now it was Cole turn to smile; old habits never die. "What's this all about?" Asked Cole, as he painfully moved to grab his duffel bag. With a quick nod from Frank, the other agent snatched up the bag, and headed down the gangway.
Cole straightened himself on his crutches as Frank spoke. "Major, I have been assigned to be in charge of your care while you are here in New York, so please…come with me." Frank held out his arm to motion Cole down the gangway.
The two men made their way to the second of the two cars. Cole noticed there were four agents to each car. "This is all for lil' old me, Mr. Wilson?"
1880-Rosewell, New Mexico
"So…tell me more about this meeting…" I asked Garrett, as I tasted my lamb with chick peas and mashed potatoes.
"There's not much to tell you, I have no idea why I was asked to come." Garrett said, sipping his beer. "I was summoned for a meeting…requested to arrive in Santa Fe no later than the end of next week."
I drank my wine, speculating what this…get together was really regarding. I looked at Garrett as I set my wine glass down. I felt that he was telling me the truth, not knowing what the agenda actually entailed.
"What is it?" He asked me.
"Nothing," I responded, dipping my fork in my mashed potatoes.
Throughout dinner, I drank my wine, but ate very little. My thoughts were on Garrett...I felt like I do know him pretty well…I feel at ease with him, but still…the heated kiss we had while I was in the bath thrilled me. No one has ever kissed me that way. Not even Billy…
The thought of Billy made me frown for a moment. I pushed my thoughts and feelings in regards to Billy deep down, so I could concentrate on Patrick F. Garrett.
"You alright, Tunstall?" Garrett asked me with concern. "You hardly touched your dinner."
"I'm fine." I told him.
Garrett reached out to touch my hand. "You sure?"
I nodded yes, for I could not speak.
Garrett gave me a slight smile, as he moved his hand off mine. I felt myself exhale and was surprised I was even holding my breath.
Back in the hotel room Garrett lit a cigar, as I made sure the curtains were closed and the door locked. Satisfied, I sat at the dressing table, and pulled my sleeves up, to check my wrist wounds.
Garrett was soon by my side, glancing down at my wrists. "It looks a lot better, Tunstall. Maybe Doc is right…you'd make a damn good physician."
"That would be smashing, wouldn't it?" I smiled up at him as I carefully tried to put the gauze back in place, but it was a struggle. Garrett helped me with a smile. His touch was gentle and kind. I thanked him for his help when he were done and rolled my dress sleeves back down.
I peered into the mirror, and was pleased to see a vast improvement of my facial cuts and bruises. I'd be fine in no time, I guessed. I opened the bottle of witch hazel once again, and treated my face.
As I worked on the wounds on my face, I could see what Garrett was doing in the reflection of the mirror. He looked comfortable as he smoked his cigar as he removed his gun belt, laying it on the back of the chair that was next to the bed. He removed his hat and then sat at the edge of the bed and took his boots off. I softly sighed, feeling safe for the first time in months.
An idea suddenly presented itself to me that instant…could I use my feminine wilds on Garrett to achieve a means to an end? I instantly felt ashamed of myself; a flash of anger turned my face red. That goddamned Billy…even apart, I could still feel the influence that side-winding bastard had on me. Were we really all that different? Upset at myself, I grabbed my hairbrush and started to brush my long, black hair. I soon felt relaxed.
Garrett clearing his throat brought me out of my repose. My gaze met his in the mirror. "You know Tunstall… you really are quite breathtaking," He partly stuttered. "Even with your bruised and battered face."
"Garrett!" I spat, feeling my face flush. I put my brush down, and turned to face him. He was already standing in front of me, a serious look on his face. "What is it?" I asked with concern.
Garrett didn't say a word as he held out his hand. I slipped my hand in his, and in an instant, I was standing right in front of him. "What…what's wrong?" I asked him. Okay, he was now starting to frighten me with his serious expression!
Garrett cleared his throat, his hand now cupping the sides of my face. "I love you…I want to marry you, Jessica Tunstall…"
I gasped with surprise. "Wha…what?" I stuttered, shocked.
Garrett looked quite serious. "You heard me."
"I…I…" I closed my eyes for a second, wishing that I would stop stuttering like a child. Could this be pre ordained? I had to search my feelings. I really could love this man! I suddenly realized that Garrett needed me as much as I needed him. I felt a tear welling up in my eye. Not a tear of guilt for the things I was only moments ago contemplating but a tear of joy, for at this instant I knew that Garrett was my savior… My knight in shining armor, poised to carry me out of the blood and dust that Billy had cast me into.
"This is the only way out for you, and you know it." His brown eyes held my gaze. "I meant what I said…I do love you…and who knows, maybe in time you could feel the same way about me."
I closed my eyes and looked deep into my soul. Did I really feel the same way about Garrett? After a minute of reflection, I knew it was true. I needed him as much as he needed me. Although Billy would always hold a place in my heart…our relationship was reminiscent of a child's fondness for sweets; at first you can't get enough…then after a while the very thought of another gumdrop or sucker makes your stomach churn.
The man standing in front of me was offering me the love I needed to escape my childhood.
The memories that I choose to keep of Billy will always be filled with his charm and passion for life. Billy will always have a place in my heart; how can you thank someone who has taken you from a fragile tomboy to a determined, confident woman? In this moment of recollection, I knew that Billy could take me no further in my maturing.
Garret was the one. I looked up and locked his gaze. "Yes." I simply said. "I will marry you." He produced a small blue velvet box from his jacket pocket. All movement stopped, and sound ceased in the small room as my attentions were locked on the box in Garrett's hand. "This ring," Garrett said as his voice cracked, "Was my Mothers, and her Mother's before her. It would bring their memory great honor for you to wear it as a token of my love for you." He opened the box to reveal a simple gold band with a single diamond. It was beautiful; He stood and removed the ring from its resting place and slid it on my finger.
Garrett's serious expression suddenly changed to a look of pure joy. "You've made me the happiest man alive." He pulled me close to him; his manly musk was an aphrodisiac to my womanly senses. I lost myself in his loving embrace, I felt all my insecurities melt away, and I gave myself to him freely. It went beyond a man and woman having carnal knowledge of each other…It was much more then the blazing passion between my legs and the rapid in and out I knew with Billy. It was an experience I have never felt before. Garrett brought me to exploding several times and loved me all through the night into the morning. For the first time in my life I made love.
The next morning I stood next to Garret inside the tiny church located in the middle of Roswell. My thoughts and emotions felt as constricted and confined as my body did, in the store bought dress Garrett provided for me. He had proudly paid for the dress with some of the reward money that he received from bringing in the body of Dirty Sanchez.
The sensible mature adult part of my psyche was in an outright battle with the younger and immature, free spirited will that has ruled my life up until this moment. I tried to take solace in words that my father would tell me as a child. But, no words would come. I realized at that moment that I was no longer a child…and could no longer think as one.
The ceremony was really quite beautiful and I let myself get lost in the words and promises that where made that day.
After the last 'I do' was said, I couldn't help but feel like I was a part of something bigger…something bigger than the both of us. My life suddenly had purpose, I was more than just a girl seeking revenge for my beloved father's death…there was life, a life stolen from me as a girl by a narrow sighted boy…a life returned to me by a man…a loving forgiving man who saw me as the woman I now was. Garrett's love would set me free.
Over breakfast we talked about which direction we would take to Santa Fe.
"You must remember you are still a wanted criminal, Tunstall-…" Garrett said between sips of coffee. He paused for a moment, and chuckled. "I mean Jessica." He smiled as he reached his hand across the table to hold my hand.
I returned his smile. "That's okay…I don't think I could ever call you Pat, Garrett." I started to laugh. "There is no way in bloody hell I can!"
Garrett chuckled as he squeezed my hand. His brown eyes seemed to sparkle with delight.
We arrived at the Governor's mansion in Santa Fe right on time. I was dressed in my usual outfit of men's clothes, since we were traveling.
A butler let us inside the building into a large courtyard. I noticed the high ceilings and archways, the beautiful fountains and vines crawling up the walls, with blooming flowers. As we quickly followed the Butler down the long hallways, I observed the expensive furniture, the nice paintings and the objects d'art. This was some luxurious residence.
Governor Wallace sat at a large table with three men. I right away recognized John Chisum, and District Attorney Rynerson. I have no idea who the fourth man was. They all stood, noticing me enter into the room beside Garrett.
"Well, isn't this a surprise…it's the Sweetheart Shooter herself." John Chisum said with a smug grin.
I frowned and opened my mouth to reply. Before I could react, Garrett spoke for me. "It's Mrs. Garrett now. Jessica and I were married yesterday."
The four men looked totally shocked at Garrett's announcement.
Garrett cleared his throat. "If I was called here to be implicated…I just want to say I'm now a married man…" Garrett glanced over at me. "I want to run a business…to start a family…" He explained.
The Butler came back with a crystal decanter marked "whisky" and six glasses on a silver tray. The Butler busied himself filling the glasses, and handed one to each of us. "To your nuptials." Governor Wallace toasted us.
I quickly downed the liquor, feeling uneasy. I didn't like this meeting at all. I wanted to leave. Before we entered, Garrett had convinced me not to bring in my pistols or shotgun. I did however, had my large Bowie knife attached to my leg. After the Dirty Sanchez ordeal, I would I ever be totally unarmed.
After our toast, Garrett and I sat down, as the Governor started to speak.
"I'd like you to meet Mr. John Poe, representing the Cattleman's Association."
I gave Mr. Poe a nod, as the Governor continued to speak "Mr. Chisum has informed me of your ambitions, Mr. Garrett...as well as your involvement with William Bonney."
Garrett didn't respond.
"And now that you are married to Miss Tunstall…well, that is an added bonus, you see."
Garrett was still quiet.
Rynerson leaned forward. "You see Patrick, a change is needed immediately. We need a Sheriff who can…eliminate this… problem."
"What are you getting at?" Garrett finally spoke.
"We're saying Sheriff of Lincoln County," Mr. Chisum chimed in. "Sheriff Pat Garrett to be precise."
I glanced over at Garrett, to see his eyes go wide with surprise. I am equally surprised as well, to say the least. This was the last thing I expected to happen. Garrett was not a political man at all, never a peacemaker. Garrett is a bounty hunter, a buffalo hunter, pals with Billy the Kid, and the Regulators…which included me, who had a bounty on her head. I was worth as much as Billy himself. Now these men were offering Garrett something I knew he couldn't refuse. They must desperate to capture Billy.
Governor Wallace then produced a huge fold of U.S Government greenbacks and set them firmly on the table in front of us. "We are offering you five hundred dollars up front… and five hundred later. And of course, all expenses will be paid. Is that acceptable?"
Garrett and I sat there in silence. I could feel a well of emotion building in me. Could it be possible for me to go so far right of Billy in what seemed to be an instant? It was as if we sat with demons, and the devil himself was offering me my salvation.
After a few moments, Garrett took another drink and then looked at me. I could sense the turmoil behind his well trained poker face expression. I glanced around the room and felt all eyes on me. I met each gaze with my own…these men knew as well as I did, they would determine my very existence in the next few moments.
It was a lot to digest in just an instant. But I had set my own feet on this very path when I accepted Garrett's proposal. I quickly made peace with the idea; the recognition of this life changing decision put me in the mindset of Judas, and how he must have felt holding thirty pieces of silver. Not that Billy was anybody's savior…but that made me feel the traitor none the less.
Garrett poured me another shot. I down it quickly, my hand shaking as I drank…I drank the liquor as if I were parched with thirst. Slamming the glass down on the table, I looked over at my new husband and nodded my understanding. The price to cleanse my sins would be the extermination of Billy.
"This is acceptable, under one circumstance," Garrett said. "A full pardon for my wife… otherwise there is no deal."
"Are you serious?!" Mr. Chisum laughed. "She has commented so many crimes; you need an abacus to calculate them!"
At this, I quickly stood and slapped my palms hard on the table. I could not bottle my contempt for this bloated sack of horse shit any longer.
"You sir," I exclaimed, pointing my finger inches away from his scowled mug; my voice cracking with anger, "Are the preverbal pot calling the kettle black!"
The room went silent for a moment, but the tension was broken by the mocking laughter of Governor Wallace. "The young lady has got your number, John." He sounded amused.
I continued to glare at Mr. Chisum. "Tunstall…" Garrett softly whispered, trying to calm me down. I gave Mr. Chisum another glare as I settled myself down and returned to my chair. Under the table, Garrett gently reached for my hand. I noticed the anger slowly leave my body, as if Garrett's touch soothed me.
I cleared my throat. "Most of the crimes I am accused of are fabricated, Mr. Chisum." I surprised myself of how calm I sounded, as I spoke. "Most of the killings I have done were done in self defense. I didn't want to kill anyone." I gave him a small smile. "I just wanted to make things right by liberating your cattle."
Mr. Chisum glared at me. Over the past year or two, the Regulators and I have stolen countless livestock from Mr. Chisum, as well from other prominent ranchers in New Mexico. I knew my last statement really riled him up, as well as Mr. Poe.
Governor Wallace smiled at me as he chewed his cigar. "I say it's a deal, gentlemen. I will sign her pardon as of today. After all, she is now married to Mr. Garrett. I believe her days with William Bonney are officially over."
The deal was struck. Garrett reached for the Governor's hand and said, "Those who practice evil in the pursuit of righteousness are promised a crown in hell."
We turned to leave and I could hear Garrett mutter under his breath, "May God save our souls."
Over the next week, Garrett and I made provisions to bring our endeavors to fruition. Of course we knew every hideout and everyone who helps and supports Billy. We got new supplies, weapons, and other assorted items needed. We sat at the table and poured over maps, discussed different routes, what we should and should not do when encountered by Billy and the Regulators. We realized we must tread lightly. Billy was a lot of things…but a fool he was not.
"This is mad." I shook my head. "I really cannot believe we are actually going to embark on this task."
Garrett held my hand, and gave it a gentle squeeze. "This must be very difficult for you."
I looked into his eyes. "Garrett…I realize if I was still with Billy...you would be hunting me down as well."
Garrett sighed. "I don't believe you were ever part of the deal, Tunstall."
"You don't know that for sure. I'm sure they would have got… rid of me as well." I couldn't bring myself to say killed. "After all, I was Billy's girl. Chisum hates me and would have wanted you to-"
"That's enough." Garrett told me, interrupting me. "I would not have agreed to any of this, if you were a part of it."
I sighed and thought aloud. "It's strange how your priorities change with your perception. And my perception now…for me to be free, Billy must be caged."
I was still in shock over reading the article the New Mexico Independent published a few days ago, announcing my full pardon, my marriage to Garrett, and that Garrett is officially now Sheriff Patrick Garrett of Lincoln County. I knew Doc, Charlie and Chavez would be pleased. I wondered what Billy would think of this news. I laughed for a moment, full well knowing he would be cross that the paper didn't mention him.
I was in the hotel room, packing some things, when Garrett walked in. I looked at him with shock…his beard was totally gone! His hair was cut; his mustache trimmed neatly, his black clothes and black duster made him seem like a totally different man to me.
"What do you think?" He smiled at me.
"Bloody hell!" I laughed, walking up to him. I softly touched his face. "You look so…God damned respectable!"
Garrett laughed, and grabbed me. He held me close to him. "I suppose you like it?"
I laughed. "Yes." Was all I managed to say, as his deep kiss stopped me from saying anything more.
Garrett stopped our kiss after a little while. "Are we ready to go?"
"Yes." I whispered, quite breathless after our kiss. Garrett laughed at my response.
"There will be somebody else riding with us." Garrett stated.
"Who?" I asked, packing my diaries into my saddle bag.
"Ashmun Upson. Do you remember him? He runs that newspaper down in Fort Sumner."
I think for a moment, remembering a short, bespectacled man with a New England accent. I also remember Ash being a drunk. "Why him?"
"He will be documenting our endeavor."
I laughed. "Are you serious? I don't think he's ever been on a horse!"
This caused Garrett to laugh as well.
I stood outside our hotel, ready to go. We were to ride to Fort Sumner first, so we could meet up with Ash. I was a little apprehensive to go, since the last time I was there, I caught Billy with Paulita….but this time it was different. I was a married woman, and also pardoned by Governor Wallace. It was a good feeling. For the first time in a very long time I felt secure, and I knew Garrett would do anything to keep me safe.
As Garrett was inside the lobby paying the hotel bill, I made sure my saddlebags were sturdy and prepared to go. I had a strange feeling in my belly, wondering what was going to happen next.
"Hello, Jessie." I heard a familiar voice behind me. My hand instinctively reached for a weapon that was not there. I took a deep breath and turned.
Like poison, I spit his name. "Billy!"
The last thing I remember seeing was his boyish smile, as my world went black.
WooHoo! After, what how many years, I finally updated this! Hells yeah! Please leave your review, I LOVE reviews, they make me happy! *doing a happy dance*