Chapter Three

Two days had passed and night had fallen. The sky showed no stars, presumably still filled with the massive storm clouds that had been there all day. The wind was notably rough, practically ripping the cigarette from Cullen's mouth as he made his way to his train car; his other hand held steadily to the hat on his head.

He'd made it to his doorstep when he heard the first rumbling of thunder. He tossed the butt of his cigarette into the dirt and gave it a quick stomp with his boot. Looking up into the dark abyss, a drop of rain fell to his forehead and he closed his eyes in fatigue.

He took his hat off wearily and turned to enter his car, when he heard the faintest whoop! not too far to the east.

Whatever thought he had of sleep left him in an instant and was replaced with unease and awareness.

He walked a few steps out towards the neighboring tree line and listened.

A few had moments passed…..nothing.

Then…..whoop! was unmistakable. And this time it was closer.

His first thought was of her.

His hand went to the weapon at his belt and his head careened towards her tent. It was dark enough but not too dark for her to be at Durant's yet.

He walked swiftly to her residence while withdrawing the gun from its holster; the wind was whipping up a storm now. Dust and dirt swirled up in random patterns while the few people still in the streets began to run for cover.

"GET INSIDE!" Cullen barked to anyone he passed.

He'd made it to her tent just as rain began to cascade down on the town in sheets of furious anger.

Without announcing himself, he thrust open the flap to her tent and found her fussing with a lantern in the dimly lit area.

She turned towards him, startled, practically dropping the lantern on the floor in the process.

He took a long stride toward her and roughly grabbed the lantern from her hands, blowing it out.

He could feel her just staring up at him in the dark and as she began to say "What are you do –", he clamped a firm hand over her mouth.

She didn't resist him but he knew she did not yet understand what was happening. He had no time to coddle her as the flap to her tent flung open and the unknown face of an Indian became lit up as a streak of lightning passed behind him.

Cullen shot him straight in the face as Lily gasped and staggered back.

Without a moment's hesitation, Cullen grabbed Lily by her arm and rushed her out heading back towards the safety of his train car, stepping easily over the Indian's still bleeding corpse.

Outside was now chaos. People were screaming in the street, gun shots were being fired through the dark and blinding rain while Indians whooped and stealthily made their way through the streets.

The storm was in full force as a soaked and bedraggled Cullen and Lily rushed inside the near empty train car, with Cullen locking the door behind them.

He ran over to the window that faced the town and peeked through the curtain at the window, surveying and planning his next move.

Lily stood panting behind him, her hand poised at her stomach as she caught her breath.

"What do we do?" she asked, heaving.

Cullen turned towards her. "We don't do nothing. You're gonna stay here and I'm gonna go back out and help who I can."

He checked the ammunition in his gun and started back towards the door.

Lily side stepped in his way and put out her hand.

"I can't just stay here!"

"You can and you will." He went to step around her and she moved again.

"I will not! It's my right to help these people too!"

Cullen stepped closer to her so that his face was in hers and spoke with a fierceness that Lily had never been on the receiving end of before.

"I can't concentrate on helping anyone else if I'm worrying about your safety. Now you WILL stay here and you WILL get out of my way."

Lily moved closer to him, the defiance in her eyes lit up by another shot of lightning.

"I can't do that."

Cullen wanted to strangle her. Her face was so close to his he could feel her breath on his skin. She smelled like honey and sunshine.

"Lily, I-"

A frantic knock came at Cullen's door and they both jumped, surprised at it.

Cullen whipped open the door; the barrel of his gun in the knockers face.

It was Eva, the whore-turned-wife of Mr. Toole and good friend of Lily Bell, and she wasn't alone.

Cullen breathed a sigh of relief and opened the door wide to let her and the others she had brought with her into his home.

"We didn't know where else to go Mr. Bohannan sir, and I seen you and Mrs. Bell running this way so-"

He didn't let her finish as the last of the group scuffled in.

"Ya'll stay here and keep down low. Lock the door behind me and don't open it 'gain till I say so."

Lily gently put her hand on Cullen's arm as he aimed to leave.

"Please be careful Cullen," she said in a hushed voice as the others settled down.

Cullen couldn't bring himself to look at her so he stared at her slender fingers as they rested on his arm. He wanted to touch her in return but he couldn't. She wasn't his and never would be.

"I'll be back," he said abruptly as he turned and left.

Please leave a review…