Romeo couldn’t sleep. Even though he knew they were safe, for the night at least, he couldn’t bring himself to close his eyes. Every time he did, he heard the gunshots. Every time he came close to falling asleep, the terror of losing Hunter and thus their only protection from the Eastwood family, made him gasp awake.
He looked at the sleeping form of Lola and pride engulfed his heart. She had been on the run for two weeks and not once had she complained about the rough circumstances. In fact, she seemed to be thriving in her new environs.
Only Lola could sleep on a night like this, he thought wistfully.
Romeo turned to see the other man. Though he couldn’t see Hunter’s face, he knew the gunslinger was awake. His theory was confirmed when he heard the gruff voice.
“Go to sleep. Worrying will only give you grey hairs and wrinkles.”
Romeo laughed. “Where did you hear that?”
The gunslinger turned to look at the unlikely saviour the kid had found in the form of her maternal uncle. Romeo was neither handy with a weapon nor did he have the skills to survive in the wilderness. Heck Hunter had more faith in the kid surviving without Romeo than Romeo surviving without her.
Hunter didn’t get up, though Romeo’s invitation for a late-night palaver was hanging in the air. True, sleep was impossible tonight but he would rest his body as well as he could. He had travelled far and wide to know the truth of that.
“Just an old wives’ tale,” he said, turning to look at the sky.
“She is so small…” whispered Romeo.
Hunter made no response; not because he didn’t have one, but because his response wouldn’t comfort the old man. The kid was indeed small, she was only ten, but she was strong and resourceful and to him that made her plenty big.
“She has nothing to do with the family feud. Why are they after her?”
“Nobody cares about that ol’ man. The kid is the closest thing they have to a Beaumort. That’s all that matters. Their vendetta is all that matters.”
Romeo shook his head, as if he still didn’t understand. Hunter had explained this to him many times but he couldn’t follow the reasoning. After all, he was a Beaumort himself. Why were they after Lola and not him? What made her so special?
“Do you think we will get some respite after…you know…what happened?”
Again Hunter had a response but not one that would comfort the old man. Thing was, he didn’t know. Had he been Bossman and had he been after the kid and had he been killed by a gunslinger, he would be mounting an ambush even from the land of the dead.
But, had he been in-charge of bringing the kid in, he wouldn’t have let her run wild for fourteen days, protection or no protection. So there was comfort in that. It was feeble comfort – Hunter had been one step ahead of them but only barely – but he would take any advantage he could get.
“Rest ol’ man,” said Hunter turning around and staring into the fire. “Tomorrow will be here soon enough and it will get what news it will.”
Romeo took Hunter’s advice. The gunslinger did not know this but his silences spoke more than his words. He had sensed Hunter’s confidence though he hadn’t sensed the caution behind it. He lay down on the woollen shawl, staring at the inky black sky, thinking he’d finally be able to sleep.
But this time, when he closed his eyes, he saw the dead bodies of his sister and her husband, covered in blood and riddled with bullet holes.