Disclaimers: They are not mine. I don´t make profit from this.
Thanks to my beta Linda, and to Angela B., who encouraged me to post.
Feedback is welcome (Be kind, I´m still learning English)
Ezra finished the morning patrol. The town and the outskirts in complete calm, with the autumn weather starting to erase the memories of warm days.
He was in a good mood even if his face felt a little cold.
Ezra was looking forward dinner time. Being the middle of the week, the saloon would have few customers, but he expected his six friends to have dinner with him. After all, Ezra Standish did not offer to pay as a daily event.
After taking care of his horse, he proceed to the jail to report. There, he found J.D. with his saddlebags on the desk.
Afternoon, Mr. Dunne, Are you going to depart from this burg promptly? The nervous movements of the young man indicated clearly the worry he felt.
Hi Ezra, yes, uhm..., Casey was here earlier. Part of their barn was damaged by last night winds. We are going to fix it and check the house too. Can´t have the roof falling and hurting them.
That would explain JD´s excited demeanor. He was to spend time helping his sweet heart and assuring not just her safety but that of her aunt.
With a soft sigh Ezra asked, Should I presume that Mr. Tanner is traveling with you in this philanthropic mission?
Yeah, we are going to stay with them a couple of days to get all ready for winter. Sorry about dinner, maybe next week. J.D. took his bags and left the building.
Next week... Ezra left the jail in time to see J.D. and Vin riding out of town.
He went toward the old church. He didn´t find Josiah at first but the snores from the back room alerted him of where the ex-priest was.
Quietly he left the building; he would get a survey of the situation from Nathan.
In the street, he almost collided with Buck as he exited the bath house. With a crooked smile he teased the mustached man.
Getting ready for an important rendezvous, Mr. Wilmington?
Yup, Ms. Rose is going to be waiting for me at the back of the saloon. As I explained to JD, with Chris still mad at me, I thought would be better if I´m not around the front of the saloon. Have fun and drink a beer for me
He patted Ezra's shoulder before moving away.
The gambler stayed quietly in the walkway for a moment. With three of the seven otherwise engaged and out of his plans, he sought to talk with Nathan about Josiah.
He addressed the tall healer outside of Mrs. Potter store.
Good afternoon, Mr. Jackson, Do you know why Mr. Sanchez seems to be in need of rest this early in the day?
Abruptly, Nathan started to sputter, the emotion in the words clearly of disgust.
Some of us have to wake early every morning. We take our duty seriously and don't stay up gambling after midnight. Josiah has been helping the Brown family. With the mother still so weak, the oldest kid has take care of the twins, but they are just little babies and need a lot of attention, like the woman. But now that Mr. Brown is back, I gave Josiah something to help him rest, he´s going to come around tomorrow noon more or less
At Ezra's astonishment, Nathan continued grimly, I´m going to catch some sleep ,too, been busy these last few days and had to set Irving's leg after his fall. Don´t try to wake me or Josiah unless there is an emergency.
Don´t worry, Mr. Jackson. I will let Mr Larabee know, so he'll stay alert of any possible situation in our lovely town
No you won´t, interrupted Nathan.
You can´t tell Chris. He has not came back from his cabin. I think he told Josiah to not expect him before Saturday. He needed time to cool off, the healer explained.
Oh, I see. Maybe Mr. Tanner should visit him after he´s back from Mrs. Wells' homestead. He´s the only one not likely to end up shot if Mr. Larabee's wrath is still full force. Ezra managed to hide the hurt in his voice, but if Nathan had taken the time to look at his eyes, he could have seen the pain showing there.
Did JD go with Vin? Without waiting for an answer, Nathan continued. Hope not. Sstill, you and Buck can take care of the town just fine, IF you don´t waste time cheating at a poker table, he said, already leaving for his room.
After he disappeared, Ezra, let out a deep sigh, and re-directed his steps to the saloon.
As he had already stated, Buck wasn´t in sight, probably spending the rest of the day in bed like Nathan and Josiah, but without the rest and sleep in mind and certainly not alone.
He went to the bar and waited for Inez to finish cleaning some glasses.
It´s apparent, my dear, that your delicious viands won´t be degusted by my associates this night.
Inez started to speak only to be interrupted by Ezra's monologue. I seem to have lost my appetite, too, and I´m already late to the town patrol, so if you will excuse me, my Lady.
Maybe after your patrol? Inez let the hope show in her voice. I made chocolate cake.
I appreciate your effort, my dear, but I´m on jail watch, too, and tomorrow I´m leaving early to join my beloved Mother at Eagle Bend.
Ezra got his hat in place, brushed some invisible dust from his jacket and moved toward the door of the saloon, but Inez next words made him halt his step.
I´ll leave a piece of cake for you at the jail.
Turning slightly he captured Inez's gaze. With watery eyes he bowed his head a little, Inez's departing words floating in the cold noon air, Mr. Standish, I´m sorry... and Happy Birthday.
Author's Note: Thanks [???] to all my friends who inspired this story, to my brothers and to my sister-in-law and her chocolate cake.