Ezra had only been asleep four hours when he was rudely awakened by a rough, warm, wet tongue in his ear. His one good eye shot open, and before he could speak he heard Vin Tanner from beside him.

"Um, Ezra, I like you an' all, but you ain't my type."

"Then may I inquire as to why you have your tongue in my ear if I am not you type, Mr. Tanner?" The tongue was removed.

"That tongue in your ear. It still there?" The tongue had found Vin's ear again, and he felt a rush of warm breath on the side of his face.

"No, may I inquire. . ." Ezra was cut off by the sound of alarm in Vin's voice.

"It's back in mine now. I think we."

"Have company!" Ezra finished the sentence for Vin as they both jumped up as fast as their battered and bruised bodies would allow them.

Their abrupt movements and accompanying groans of pain had startled the creature that had been nuzzling both men. She backed away a few feet. It was the blood bay mare that Gregson had stolen. Searching for water, she had wandered right to the spot where the two men had collapsed. One blue eye looked at one green one, and despite the pain it caused, both men started laughing. They'd nearly been blown up, they were exhausted, they were scratched, bruised and hurt all over, and now a horse had been nuzzling both men's ears. The whole situation was just too ludicrous.

"This is one phase of our adventure we are not discussing with anyone."

"Hell, y'all are still givin' me grief over the twins tryin' to take me home with 'em. You think I'm givin' anyone any more ammunition you're crazy."

"Then the deal is, we say nothing about this to anyone."

"Done." Vin and Ezra almost shook hands, but they remembered just in time. They took one look at their hands and looked at one another. They stumbled over to the stream and plunged their aching hands into the still cold water. They drank again, and Vin managed to coax the mare over to them while Ezra discarded his tattered and torn coat. It finally dawned on Vin what Gregson had done.

"That bastard stole my horse!"

"Isn't this the same horse the seven of us are giving Miss Wells for her birthday?"

"Yeah, but we ain't given her to Casey yet, so she's still my horse. If that bastard wasn't already dead, I'd dig him up and shoot him full of holes."

"That would be far too kind. A horse thief and murderer deserves to be hung."

"You're right, Ezra. When I can breathe again without hurtin', I'm goin' back an' diggin' Gregson up just so I can hang him."

"I would be delighted to help you my friend. However, for the present, what do you suggest we do now that we have one horse?"

"I say we ride double back to Four Corners, sneak inside, bathe, get dressed, and only let Nathan look at our faces and hands."

"Now why do we want to pretend that only our faces and hands took the brunt of this escapade? I for one would like to have our illustrious healer try to ease my suffering all over."

Vin sighed. "That's how they do it. Ezra."

"Do what, Vin?" For the moment, Ezra could not imagine why Vin was acting much less talking in this manner.

"First they give you somethin' they tell you is good for the pain. Then when they've knocked you out with it, they strip you naked. Then you wake up, still in pain, naked in some strange bed. Then, they hide your clothes, and they keep you there forever."

"Now Vin, they didn't knock you out, you were unconscious from being shot. I am certain that no one is going to try and strip either one of us naked."

"Trust me, Ezra. Chris and Nathan and Miz Nettie will strip you down before you can say jackrabbit. They're just plumb mean when it comes to someone they know is hurt. They take it personal, like you did it on purpose to cause them worry. Our best bet is if Chris is really pissed with us. He'll just shoot us and put us out of our misery. Then Nathan and Nettie won't be able to strip us of our dignity."

Ezra hated to admit it, but Vin made a lot of sense. This was exactly what they had done to Vin the two previous times when he had been injured. The only way Nathan and the rest of them could keep Vin confined to bed until he had recovered was to take his clothes from him.

Nathan would hound them until they let him examine them, and Chris would take any steps necessary to ensure that whatever instructions Nathan said would benefit their recovery were carried out. Their only hope was to get back to town undetected, get cleaned up, and pretend they weren't bruised over seventy-five percent of their bodies. They just might get by showing Nathan their faces and their hands. Maybe the damage there would sidetrack Nathan from looking any further.

Ezra sighed, and Vin nodded in agreement. They both knew that somehow they would pay for their good idea. They were doomed either way. If Chris didn't shoot them straight out, Nathan would find a way to examine them and find all their bruises, and then the fat would hit the fire. There was no way short of a miraculous cure for bruises that they could keep any part of their dignity. They could barely see or stand or even breathe very well on their own right now, but they still had to find a way to get on the horse and ride back to town. They could only hope to delay the inevitable ruckus Nathan would raise when he saw the extent of their injuries.

Vin and Ezra both knew that the healer was fully capable of insisting they be incarcerated until he deemed them healthy and fit, and Chris would be in the mood to back him up. They couldn't rely on the others to help them out even if they could convince Buck, Josiah, and JD that their idea had worked perfectly. The fact that Gregson had nearly killed them would not be an acceptable excuse. The others weren't going to be happy when Vin and Ezra drug into to town looking like death warmed over. Then there were Mary and Nettie Wells. Mary and Nettie would manage to make both men feel guilty over any worry they might have caused them. If they were lucky and got back soon enough, maybe neither woman would have heard of their escapade until they were safely back.

Vin looked at Ezra with his right eye. Ezra returned the look with his left. They were both trying desperately to come up with an explanation for how they ended up being blown up without having to tell Chris and the others what they had been up to. Then it hit them at the same time.

"They don't know," Vin started.

"What we were doing out there." Ezra finished the sentence. It was getting rather spooky that these two were somehow finishing one another's thoughts. This development wouldn't surprise Chris Larabee, but if it continued it might just shave a few years off his life.

"They don't know Gregson snuck up on us from behind." Vin looked triumphant. Ezra was equally pleased.

"Might I suggest that Gregson saw our approach and set a trap for us?"

"That sounds like a real good idea, Ezra. We can tell 'em Gregson stole the mare and saw us comin' along."

"He falsely assumed we were after him, no he assumed we would come across him on the trail."

"That sounds good. Now, we just need a reason for us being out there."

"What if," Ezra paused to think, "we were trying to locate a gold mine some unfortunate was trying to use as collateral to repay the debts he accrued in a game of chance?"

"Yeah, he said he had to go to Eagle Bend to get the deed, and we were takin' a short cut to get there before him."

"Excellent, my friend. No one will ever deduce what we were actually doing. However, I suggest you let me weave the tale. We know big brother has a nasty habit of being able to discern when you are prevaricating or not."

"You sayin' I can't be subtle?"

"I am saying, my friend, that you and mendacity go together as well as oil and vinegar."


"You are an extremely bad liar, Vin."

"Am not." The tracker was indignant. Everyone was always telling him he couldn't tell a lie. 'Where did they get these ideas?'

"I have witnessed you terrorize men twice your size and twice as disagreeable into surrendering, but when it becomes a matter of lying to a friend, you, Mr. Tanner, could not cut your way out of a wet paper bag with a sharp knife."

Vin couldn't argue with that. Ezra had him dead to rights, so Vin just stood there leaning against the mare. Besides, he hurt too much to continue arguing with Ezra. The gambler was just as stubborn as Chris when he wanted to be.

"All right, have it your way. You tell Chris what happened, and if he ends up shootin' us remember I'm gonna be sayin' I told you so all through eternity. Get on the horse."

Chris would have appreciated watching the inept attempts of these two trying to mount a skittish mare in the moonlight when they could barely move. As it was, only the mare heard the moans, groans, and language that accompanied the three times they tried. Finally, they made it. It wasn't a happy partnership, since there was really no way either man could find a comfortable way to ride the horse with their injuries.

"Ow, watch it. That's my rib cage you're tryin' to crush."

"Would you kindly remove your elbow out of my one good eye."

"Well, if you want to walk, be my guest." Vin was just as sore, hot, tired, cranky, and hungry as Ezra. Buck and JD would have appreciated the scene immensely.

"If you would remove that rag that you call a coat, it would be much more comfortable. It is probably so full of debris that this poor animal will collapse under the weight of it before we go a mile."

"I'll dump you on the ground fore I'll dump my coat. Someone special made it for me."

"Well why didn't you say it held sentimental value? Mind-reading is not in my sphere of talents!"

This running dialogue continued only until Vin and Ezra finally started the agonizing trek back to Four Corners. Neither man spoke after that as they both had to use all their strength and concentration to stay on the horse. They had no idea that not only did Chris know what they had been doing, by this time he was also hot, tired, cranky, and just one step behind them.


Three and a half miles seemed an eternity to Vin and Ezra. They held the mare to a walking pace because they didn't want to tire the horse and end up on foot again. However, the only parts of their bodies that did not hurt were their feet. They wanted to keep it that way. Riding was sheer agony, and there was no comfortable means of riding the horse as bruised and battered as they were. Mrs. Potter and Inez, who had stayed together watching Billy and the Potter children as they waited for the searchers to bring the bodies back, were standing in front of Potter's store. It was Billy Travis who spotted the two dismounting very slowly in front of the bathhouse.

"Miz Potter, Inez, look!" He didn't wait as he ran toward his two friends. "Vin! Ezra! You're alive!" He would have jumped both men if Inez hadn't caught up at that moment and stopped the eager boy. She realized the slightest movement could topple the two men into a heap on the ground.

She wrinkled her nose in disgust. They smelled as bad as they looked, but she was happy to see them alive. "Where are the others? They have been looking for you since your horses came back yesterday afternoon."

"We didn’t see anyone. We figured no one knew where we were, so we came back on our own." Vin didn’t offer any more. His one goal was to wash the dirt and debris off, and then soak for a long time in a tub of hot water. He knew it would ease his aching body, and he wanted to do that before he put his clothes back on to hide his bruises from Nathan and the rest. For some deluded reason he thought if he had his clothes on, then they couldn’t take them from him. Ezra didn’t have the heart to disillusion the tracker by telling him that he had been fully clothed prior to the last two times the others had stripped him of his "dignity".

Mrs. Potter joined them and immediately started fussing over the two. "Oh thank God! You poor dears, we were so worried that you were dead, and look at you! Those eyes must hurt terribly. You need a bath, food, and rest. Inez and I will get your clothes. Jake, you get these boys inside and help them. Billy, you wait here for their clothes. Come along, Inez. We’ll take care of their eyes and hands while they’re eating."

Inez looked like she wanted to question both men, but Vin and Ezra took the escape Mrs. Potter offered them. Jake started to usher both inside while Billy waited for their clothes. Ezra paused a moment.

"Mrs. Potter?" She turned immediately, and Ezra asked a favor. "Would you mind bringing me two silk shirts, please?"

"Two, Mr. Standish?"

"Yes ma’am, please." The gambler smiled, and Mrs. Potter beamed despite the poor picture he presented at the moment. Inez rolled her eyes at the blatant manipulation of the sweet woman. Ezra used his left eye to wink at her. Now, Inez knew the two were up to something. She would be sure to alert Mary and the rest when they returned.

Even Jake, the man who owned and ran the bathhouse, insisted on fussing over the two men. It seems he was mighty glad to see the peacekeepers alive and in one piece, also. Several others stopped by and offered to help both men into the building. Everyone near them kept mentioning how good it was to see them alive. Vin just shyly nodded his thanks and ducked inside the building as quickly as he could. Ezra seemed to inhale the attention before making his departure from his adoring public to follow Vin.

Vin checked with his right eye to see who entered the building. He had that hunted feeling, and he knew who the hunters were. He was going to be very careful and not let Chris sneak up on him. He relaxed when he only saw Ezra walk very carefully into the bathhouse. Jake had insisted on helping Vin with his buttons and his boots when he saw the condition the tracker's hands were in.

"That's got to hurt a lot, Mr. Tanner. Holler if'n ya need more help."

Vin finished taking his torn clothing off and sunk into a tub of hot water. It stung at first, but then his aching and sore muscles began to respond to the heat. It felt like heaven, and Vin didn't really care if Chris came in and shot him now. He'd die happy. Then he remembered what Inez, Mrs. Potter, Jake, and the others said. He looked over as Jake helped Ezra with his buttons and boots. It didn't take all that long as the gambler's clothes had been in the same sad shape Vin's clothing had been in. He waited until Jake left the bathing room.

"Ezra, you hear what everyone was sayin'?"

"I heard them mention they were very happy we were safe and alive. It really is quite endearing of them, isn't it?"

"Yeah, but don't you find that a bit odd?"

"Certainly not. After all we have done for this town . . ."

"I ain't talkin' bout that. What about this bit that they were glad we're alive?"

"Let's ask young Master Travis when he brings our clothing the latest gossip concerning us." Ezra hadn't bothered to look up, yet. He was too busy concentrating on how wonderful the hot water would feel.

Vin winced when he caught the sight of Ezra's back as he gently lowered himself into the tub. If his back matched Ezra's, Nathan was going to have a fit. He'd let the gambler savor the luxury a moment more before they discussed what the others were talking about.

Vin closed his eyes; it felt so good just to relax in the hot, soothing water. He didn't notice Billy come in and set the clothes on a bench by the wall. Neither did Ezra. The water was cooling when Vin abruptly woke up. He'd heard what he thought was the pounding of horses' hooves, but he relaxed when he didn't hear anything more than Ezra's steady, even breathing. In hindsight, he knew he should have heeded his first inclination and thrown his clothes on and run.

Having one eye swollen shut didn't make keeping an eye out for danger very easy, and Vin missed the black apparition that appeared almost immediately in the doorway. He picked up the soap and gingerly began lathering his hair with it. The soap dripped down his forehead obscuring his vision even further. He and Ezra had better get cleaned up and dressed before Chris and the others got there. Vin caught a movement from the corner of his eye as he reached for one of the buckets of clean water by the tub, and then he heard a voice that literally scared the hell out of him.

"Need some help rinsing off?" The ice in the voice cooled the hot water that splashed over his head rinsing it. There was no place to take cover. He should have known Larabee would somehow find a way to catch him off guard. If he had just stayed awake he might have avoided this. Somehow he figured this was Ezra’s fault.

"Aw hell!"

The combination of Chris’s voice, the drops of water that had splashed on him, and Vin’s resigned voice woke Ezra from a blissful repose, well as blissful as his bruised body would allow. Ezra looked up in time to see the room fill with four other very filthy and angry men and two very angry women. He knew how Vin felt. There was nowhere to run, and they were in a very vulnerable position. He gave a very weak smile to the crowd before him. There was wisdom in taking the offensive.

"I believe there is enough room for you gentlemen, but Mrs. Travis and Mrs. Wells might prefer a little privacy. I know Mr. Tanner and I both value ours."

Mary had the grace to turn a bit pink, but as usual, Nettie stood her ground. "You boys feel like you look?"

There were two people Vin Tanner didn't want to cross. Chris Larabee was one; Nettie Wells was the other. He knew they knew, so he decided to play on their sympathy if he could. No way was Ezra's silver tongue going to work now. Vin just wished he knew how they had found out everything so quickly. He decided honesty really was the best policy. "Worse, Miz Nettie."

"Good!" Nettie turned to Chris, "Let me know when I can have my turn with them." Chris grinned, and Vin felt a shiver run up his spine. He heard Ezra gulp next to him when Mary gave her parting shot.

"Remember, you promised I could help you torture them." The two women left them alone with their five friends, but somehow the two men didn't think friendship would keep them alive very long. If looks could kill, Vin and Ezra might have preferred staying buried beneath the rubble. Chris had the same look on his face he usually reserved for some miscreant whose absence the world wouldn't mourn too much.

The soapy cloth suddenly became very interesting as Vin broke contact with the five glares directed at him and Ezra. He sighed loudly as he continued his bath and a stool was drug between them. Chris sat down between the two tubs of water and the two men who suddenly were very intent on finishing their ablutions and exiting as quickly as possible.

Chris looked over the bruises, scraped knees and hands, and the swollen eyes. Inwardly he winced and thanked God his two friends were safe and apparently in one piece. It wasn't going to prevent him from making them squirm a little more, but he'd decided he wasn't going to kill them right off. That would be a kindness, and Chris wasn't feeling kind after spending the night moving a hill of rocks and suffering all the emotional agony he and the others had suffered. He was just going to make Vin and Ezra suffer slowly over the years as he and the rest of their friends made sure these two didn't get any more good ideas. He nodded to Buck to begin the torture session. He didn't trust Nathan to be 'mean' once he saw the extent of their friends' injuries. As it was, Nathan was more menacing standing glaring at the two with his arms crossed.

"Well, they look purty good for two men that had a hill a rocks drop on top of 'em."

"Felt more like a mountain, Buck." Vin didn't think he heard too much sympathy in Buck's voice, and then there was JD.

JD was just standing there with that satisfied, 'You're gonna get it now!' look on his face. Vin couldn't sneak a peak at Chris's face because the man was sitting on his left side, and Vin would have to turn his head to look at Chris. He really didn't want Chris's undivided attention right now, so he looked over at Josiah. There was no help to be found there judging by what Josiah said next.

"The Lord does take care of fools and idiots."

"Well, we got one fool and one idiot." Buck was really enjoying himself. He was just so happy to see Ezra and Vin alive that he just had to share his good mood with everyone. Of course the fact that he was amusing himself at his two friends' expense only made it better.

"I'd say you were right, Buck."

JD laughed in sheer relief at Chris's response. He'd been so relieved to find the tracks of two men leading to the stream that his optimism had just grown until it was nearly bursting out every pore in his body. He hadn't lost two of his friends, his brothers after all, but he was still mad at them. Gregson could have killed them, and they had scared the hell out of JD and everyone else. Besides, they hadn't confided in him, and JD thought their idea really was a very good one. Maybe if he had been with them, he could have saved them from being buried under all that rubble.

"You boys want to tell us what happened?" Chris took Vin's chin in his hand and turned the reluctant tracker's head so he could look in Vin's unswollen right eye. Vin decided that ignorance was much safer than the lie he and Ezra had worked out earlier. Chris certainly knew which egg to crack first.

"Don't rightly know, Chris. One minute we were standin' there mindin' our own business, then, 'Boom!' Next thing I knew I woke up under a pile of rocks. I dug me and Ezra out, an' we came home soon as we could." There, he hadn't lied to the man in black, but he hadn't told him what they had been up to either. Ezra would be proud of him. The icy glare left Vin and focused on the gambler.

"Vin is correct, Mr. Larabee. He thinks he saw Gregson, that new hand from Darcy's ranch we had the misfortune to run across day before yesterday. I myself didn't even know anything was happening until Vin yelled for me to move. I only revived after our friend removed the debris that was trapping me."

Ezra was sticking with the truth, also. After looking into those knowing eyes he now understood the reason Vin Tanner couldn't to lie to Chris. It was something lurking in the back of those cool, green eyes that demanded the truth. Ezra knew the paltry lie he and Vin had come up with wouldn't help them out at all. So far neither one of them had lied to big brother, and Ezra felt like pleading ignorance was the best course to head off the storm that was threatening to consume the two vulnerable men. His optimism was short lived, however. Chris smiled at him and then turned to Vin.

"I'm not talkin' about Gregson. We know he tried to kill you and TJ Darcy, too."

A worried Vin jumped on that lifeline. "He had TJ? The boy all right?"

Ezra was just as concerned but equally happy for the respite. "You mean that mendacious bastard kidnapped that fine young gentleman? I trust he is safely in the care of his loving family at this moment?"

"The boy's fine, much better than you two. It was him that yelled and saved your sorry hides." Buck knew what Vin and Ezra were doing, so he told them all about TJ. Now, they could return to the real matter at hand. He smiled at the two men trapped in the tubs. Buck would've enjoyed a bath himself, but right now he was having a grand time watching Vin and Ezra squirm under the Larabee inquisition.

"What we want to know is why the two of you were out there in the first place." It was Josiah's turn again.

Neither Vin nor Ezra had missed the fact that Nathan had yet to say a word. He was still standing in the doorway, but his hands were on his hips now, and he was checking the two of them out right now as he stood there staring at them. That and his silence made both men nervous. He hadn't seen their backs, yet. Both men were fascinated by the glare in the healer's eyes. He was almost as formidable as Chris in this state. Vin envisioned a long incarceration. He'd be lucky if Nathan didn't lock him and Ezra in the jail naked for the next two months. This big brother thing wasn't much fun right at this moment. He always thought Nathan and Josiah each had a good sense of humor, but they weren't showing it now. Vin sighed, and Ezra echoed it as Josiah spoke again.

"TJ told us a very interesting story about the two of you, some dynamite, and a slingshot. Care to explain?"

They were dead men. Vin looked around Chris at JD hoping to head off the execution. "That bastard must've stole our horse, an' took TJ when the kid called him on it. But we got her back, JD."

No one but Ezra seemed interested in that deduction. Vin had to turn his head again, so he could see what look Chris had on his face. He wished he hadn't bothered. It was hotter in the room all of a sudden, even sitting in a cooling tub of water. That might work to their advantage. "They’re plannin' on killin' us with pneumonia, Ezra, makin' us sit here in tubs of cold water."

"I do believe death by pneumonia may indeed be their purpose, Vin. A bullet would be too kind a means of death. I believe our friends are bent upon revenge. They do not appear to care that we are suffering terrible pain and agony at this moment."

"Oh, trust me. We can see how much you are suffering. Having dug up every rock and piece of dirt searching for your bodies, I can imagine just how much you are suffering. Tell me, do you feel like you've inhaled half a mountain of dust and are wearing the rest? I know we do." Chris's voice was a combination of ice and anger. It was completely effective inducing additional shivers up their spines. It even succeeded in sending a few shivers up the spines of the other men in the small room.

Vin turned a pleading look at his best friend hoping for some sort of reprieve. He saw that nothing less than the full truth was going to get him out of the tub of water and to the nearest bed. He really did feel like hell. Ezra caught his eye. The gambler was just as miserable, and he nodded to Vin to give Larabee and the others what they wanted. It was their dignity or their lives, and both men were survivors.

Vin sighed and began, "Me and Ezra had this really good idea." Without looking he knew Chris had raised his eyebrow like he did when Buck or JD had done something he thought was outrageous. "Well, it really is a good idea if we're facin' some real bastards."

"And just what was this good idea?" Nathan finally spoke.

"Mr. Tanner and I felt we could use dynamite to even the odds when and if we ever face numbers larger than those we have faced together successfully. A sort of Ace in the hole if you will." Ezra gave a lame smile at his allusion to his gambling skills.

"You're tellin' us that you were playin' with explosives for our own good?" Chris made it sound like Vin and Ezra had been caught playing with matches and had burned the barn down.

"Weren't no playin' involved." Vin was righteously indignant now. "Ezra would sling the stick of dynamite in the air, an' I'd shoot it. You shoulda seen it, Chris. It worked real good." Chris had to fight to keep from smiling. Vin could talk quiet a bit when he was nervous or excited.

Ezra couldn't help but add, "Vin would hit the dynamite wherever he wanted it to explode. He never missed one shot. He is truly the finest marksman I have ever had the privilege to know."

Buck had to walk out of range to hide his smile. He'd already heard this story from TJ, and he was very proud of both Ezra and Vin for coming up with the idea. It beat the one he and Ezra had used against that Irish bastard who had tried to steal that land from the settlers. Josiah made sure neither one of the culprits could see either his or JD's appreciation of their idea. It really was a good idea when you had a sharpshooter like Vin Tanner and a devious mind like Ezra Standish. However, Josiah was beginning to agree with Chris. Sometimes Vin and Ezra thought too much alike not to worry what their next idea might be. It sure would be fun finding out what it was, though. Josiah had never wanted to die from boredom anyway, and being in this diverse group promised very little future boredom.

Chris appeared speechless at Ezra’s enthusiastic endorsement of Vin’s marksmanship. He should have known those two together would finally start noticing the things they had in common, especially that similar knack they had for ideas that no other person he knew would come up with. He looked in disgust at his two friends and finally motioned Nathan over to see their bruised backs. The only colors Chris could see were dark blue and purple splotches starting from the bases of their necks to spread out across their backs and only disappearing into the water. Chris had a good idea that those bruises probably extended much lower than he could see. Both men saw Nathan approach, and Vin and Ezra waited for an even bigger explosion than the one that had dropped a hill of rocks down upon them. It only took one glance, but that glance was enough to set off the usually quiet and genial healer.

"Dear God in Heaven! Do those bruises go all the way down your backs?" Vin would rather face an irate bear and Ezra a dissatisfied mark.

Nathan had knelt down behind Ezra and was examining his back looking for any cuts and abrasions. He motioned Chris to do the same to Vin. When he didn't find any, and Chris indicated neither did he, Nathan started issuing orders.

"I want y'all both as clean as you can get, so's I can check you both out. Y'all could have internal injuries or worse. And look at those eyes. Y'all are both lucky you didn't lose anything! Don't look at me like that. I'm gonna check for broken ribs, internal bleedin', everything." Nathan paused in his tirade long enough to take a breath. "I'll help this fool, an' Chris you better help that idiot." Nathan had just decided who was the fool and who was the idiot Josiah said God took care of. "I better not see either one of y'all do anything I ain't said you could do. Understand?"

"Now Nathan, I am quite capable of making these decisions for myself."

"It won't work, Ezra. I told you this would happen." Vin had already accepted the inevitable. Ezra would find out surrender was easier than fighting Nathan. The healer could and would play dirty.

"You will do what Nathan says, or I will not only let Miz Nettie have a piece of you, but I'll wire your mother."

Ezra sputtered at Chris’s threat, "You wouldn't."

"He would." Ezra barely heard Vin over the laughter that erupted from the other men. The gambler decided that like Vin, he would bide his time until he could make his escape. Only this time, it was Vin who knew that escape was next to impossible when Nathan and Chris were involved. Ezra would just have to learn the hard way.