Ezra Standish was in his element. A high stakes card game. A winning hand he didn't fabricate. A worthy opponent. Enraptured audience. Life couldn't get any better than this for a gambler.
His emerald eyes lifted off a Royal Flush and studied the gentleman across from him. He estimated the man's age to be about five years older than him. He had slicked back auburn hair graying at the temples, was clean shaven, and he was dressed in a tailored suit.
The man, who'd identified himself only as Cord when he joined the game, had steely blue eye that were constantly in motion. Cord presented himself as a gentleman but had the wariness of a gunfighter. He did not wear a gunfighter's rig, but that didn't mean he wasn't carrying a weapon. He, himself, carried a Derringer in a sleeve sheathe, and a knife in his right boot.
"Mr. Cord, I do believe the next move is yours." Ezra drawled.
Cord studied him a moment. "Read them and weep, Standish."
A collective murmur arose from the crowd of onlookers as he set down his cards one at a time. Four eights stared up at Ezra from the table.
Ezra sighed, feeding the idea that Cord had bested him. Then he slowly revealed his cards. A-K-Q-J-10 of Hearts. He watched the color in Cords' face change as cheers and an unmistakable loud "Whoop'" from Buck filled the saloon.
Ezra's eyes did not stray off Cord's face. It would be a deadly mistake. He could see the thought pattern sliding through Cord's eyes, and his Derringer was suddenly in his hand and pointed at Cord.
"I suggest you resist the temptation do anything other than congratulate me on a well-played game and excuse yourself from these premises."
He waited, his hand steady, his gaze level on the other man's face. A hushed silence fell over the crowd the moment his Derringer appeared.
He knew without a doubt that he wasn't the only man with a gun drawn. Buck would have his out as well, and any of the others who happened to be in the Tavern. He just hoped Cord didn't have any cohorts in the crowd with a gun on him.
Cord slowly stood up and Ezra tensed. Through gritted teeth he said, 'I expect I'll be on my way. Your establishment has suddenly turned a lot less friendly."
He turned and pushed his way through the crowd toward the door.
Ezra didn't put his gun away until he was certain the other man was gone. Then a Cheshire grin creased his lips as he stared down at the large pile of coins and bills in the center of the table. He was a lucky man indeed.
Next Story: JD Dunne - Sheriff
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