He knocked on her door and when it opened, the beautiful sight took his breath away. Her slightly damp hair was down and wavy, falling all the way to her waist. It smelled like flowers. His eyes traveled down her supple figure. She was wearing a different chemise.
“I woke up early and had a bath,” she said with a soft smile.
He stepped inside of her room, longing to take the white, lacy garment off.
“Jeremy,” she whispered as a flush warmed her face. “We shouldn’t. Gabriel’s in the next room.”
“We can be quiet,” he whispered.
He brought his hands to her little waist and slowly moved them up her narrow torso. She smiled shyly up at him as though it were her first time.
“Very quietly, then,” she said, biting her lip as though it would contain some of her excitement.
She slipped out of her undergarments; he marveled at her silhouette as she stepped over to the bed. How could someone so exquisite ever question her beauty? She caught him staring at her and she covered her breasts with her arm.
“You are so beautiful.”
He held her hand and pulled it away so he could look at her fully uncovered form. Then he kissed her soft lips. She sat down on the bed and pulled him to her; she helped him take off his clothes.
Her attempts to stay quiet as he pleasured her drove him wild. By the time they close to finished, their moans filled the room. In the wake of their escapade, Sally laughed breathlessly as they held one another. As he caressed the soft, smooth skin on her back, he thought of her drifting in the cold, murky river.
“Please don’t ever do anything to hurt yourself ever again, Sally.”
She wrapped her arms around him.
“I can try.”
He forced her to look at him. That was far from good enough.
“I mean it. You are so beautiful and unique. No matter what happens, no matter how bad things seem, I never want you to give up. Promise me you won’t.”
She brought her lips to his and kissed him.
“I wasn’t well. I’m not sure if I’ve ever been well.”
“You are well to me. Please, just never hurt yourself again. I will do anything to stop you from being hurt ever again.”
Her dreamlike green eyes misted over.
“I love you, Jeremy.”
“I love you, too. So much.”
He longed to stay tangled up with her in that way forever. They hesitantly rose from their sanctuary and got dressed. As Sally brushed out her hair, Jeremy went to the kitchen to prepare coffee and start making pancakes.
Gabriel sat at the table staring out the window.
“Hi,” said Jeremy.
Gabriel’s bloodshot eyes stared at him.
“While you two were playing happy married couple in there, I’ve been waiting to help you get out of here before something bad happens?”
“I just wanted to be close to her after being so close to losing her forever.”
“I’ve been up all night,” said Gabriel. “I tried reading the Bible, but I couldn’t focus on the words.”
“We just need to gently convince her that becoming a small town assassin is not the best way to go about this.”
“Is there a gentle way to put that she’s become just like them?”
Jeremy walked up to the table as his anger mounted.
“Be careful what you say about my wife. They murdered her mother and sister and tried to kill her. She’s just trying to prevent them from hurting anyone else.”
“Not all of those deacons are evil.”
“How do you know? Were you there when they murdered the first pastor here? He was like you, Gabriel. And I saw them all gather around him before they killed him.”
Gabriel shook his head.
“Don’t be sorry. Help me.”
Thunderous hoof beats interrupted the sound of forks scraping on plates. Jeremy’s racing heart drowned them out as he shared his best friend’s panic. They rushed to grab their guns and peered out the window. Sure enough, it was the two deacons and their sons. There were six of them in total.
“Looks like they know,” said Jeremy.
Gabriel groaned. “This is exactly what I wanted to avoid. We should have left at dawn.”
Jeremy stood there like a fool. He had wanted to relive a fantasy with Sally and his idiocy might have gotten the three of them killed.
“I know. I’m so sorry.”
The men dismounted and ran to the house. It was going to be a blood bath.
A gunshot fired and one of the deacons stumbled, running into a tree before collapsing. Sally burst out of her room with a rifle.
“What are you waiting for?” she cried.
“Get down!” shouted Gabriel.
Retaliating gunshots shattered the window and tore up the wall behind them as they hit the floor. Sally took care of the eldest and best marksman. There were five left.
Gabriel and Jeremy jumped up and fired their shots through the broken glass and ducked. Sally crept up next to the window and pulled the trigger. A pained yell filled the air.
“Where did you learn to shoot like that?” scoffed Gabriel.
Sally glared at him and started crawling toward her room.
Jeremy and Gabriel followed her as their enemies’ angry shouts signaled that they were about to break in to the house. With all them inside of Sally’s room and reloading, it grew quiet. Sally’s window was still bolted shut. They had the advantage of picking off their opponents if they were stupid enough to go inside.
“I didn’t want this to happen,” said Gabriel.
“You think any of us did?” spat Jeremy.
He shot a look at Sally, who smiled at him. Her girlish charm was an odd contrast to the violence and morbidity that surrounded them. He still found it hard to believe that someone who seemed so soft could single handedly murder men who had operated guns well before she was born.
“There’s three left that are not wounded at best. This’ll be over quick,” said Sally.
She stared down the hall with predatory longing in her eyes.
The silence continued as they waited.
“They’ve wised up. They want us to follow them now,” muttered Gabriel.
“The real battle begins,” said Sally as she rose and stepped down the hall.
Jeremy grabbed her by the arm and pulled her toward him.
“Sally, please stay here. I lost you once and I can’t lose you again.”
“You aren’t going to lose me. I’m the best shot here. You need me.”
“This is insane,” hissed Gabriel as he joined them.
“Then let’s finish them,” said Sally.
They all exchanged glances and crept to the front door. Blood and glass was splattered everywhere. Two dead bodies lay close by.
“I wonder if they went into the barn,” said Jeremy.
“They could be anywhere, waiting for us to walk out so they can pick us off,” said Gabriel. “I came back to help you two and now you’re going to get me killed.”
“None of us are going to die,” said Sally.
Her pride was not very reassuring.
Jeremy opened the door slowly. No gunshots came. He looked over his shoulder at Sally and then led the way to the barn.