Story so far: Lola, hunted for a crime she did not commit, forms an unlikely alliance with her Uncle Romeo and a gunslinger she picks up along the way. On the run, Lola is soon kidnapped by a band of seven. Hunter and Romeo follow her and find her locked up in a house. Having no clue as to what he is up against, Hunter does not immediately attack or try to free his little charge. Meanwhile, Lola is released from her prison only to come face to face with a severely dehydrated Uncle Ro and a father she had thought dead. While Lola tries to decide what to do next, Hunter is planning his own attack.
Soft sheets…that is what finally brought Romeo out of his fevered sleep. A man known for his soft and comfortable existence, he would never have imagined a day would come where sleeping on the coarse desert sand would become second nature to him. The contrast thus was so stark that it woke him up, fearful for his life.
When he saw his brother-in-law’s face, tears leaked from his eyes. “You are alive?” he whispered, not sure if it was a fever-dream or the truth.
“But…how? I saw the wreckage. I saw your body! I cried over it. How are you alive? Does this mean that Rom…”
“No. She did die in the wreckage but Lola is here and she is dying to meet you.”
Just as Fences finished speaking, Lola barged into the room, a bowl of hot soup in her hands. The shock of seeing her father alive and well had slowly worn away but the resentment still burnt, hot and bright. And she nursed it, as surely as she had nursed her grief. But she let none of it show on her face.
She kept the bowl on a table and went up to her uncle. She had numerous things to ask. She started with the most pertinent, “Where is he?”
Romeo’s eyes leaked more tears. “He left,” he choked out. “He couldn’t be bothered Lola. He left me to die!”
Lola’s eyes narrowed. “He brought you till here, didn’t he? Why would he leave now? If we couldn’t be bothered then…”
“Hunter is a nobody Kiki,” sighed Fences irritably. The way he raked his hands through his hair told Romeo that it wasn’t the first time they were having this argument. “I know you think he is some sort of a god and the way he saved you from Eastwood’s henchmen he must seem like that to you but he is the last rung in a very long chain.”
“Verde what are you talking about? Hunter is a gunslinger! He has those…” Romeo stopped abruptly, surprised he was defending the man.
Fences smiled crookedly at the reminder of the benign identity he had taken to safeguard himself. He knew the two had no idea who he really was (even Romilla, who had been so quick of mind had never guessed) but he was unwilling to believe Hunter had cast his charm on Romeo as well.
“It doesn’t matter Romeo,” he said, losing his cool a little. He didn’t know this but he was actually jealous; jealous of the reverence and fear he could hear in both their voices, see on their faces for this unknown entity. It was the same kind of reaction people used to have for him…back when he went by the name ‘Fly Birds.’
“Hunter cannot save you. You have not seen what Lincoln is capable of. He is unhinged and cares for nothing but his revenge. He will not rest until Lola is in his custody and who knows what he will do then. We leave, tonight. We have spent too much time here. It’s not safe.”
Fences got up to leave. “He will come for me,” said Lola quietly, crossing her arms across her chest. She looked so convinced it broke her father’s heart a little.
“Kiki I know you think that is true. And I know you don’t trust me. But I am your father and you will do as I say.”
When her father left the room, Lola closed the door behind him and sat down next to Uncle Ro. “What do you think?” she whispered.
Oddly touched that she would ask his advice, he licked his lips, looking hungrily at the now cooling bowl of soup. Lola handed the bowl to him and he drank it straight. His manners too had taken a hit. He belched softly, wiped his mouth and closed his eyes for a moment to savour the sheets, the full belly, the soft heat of the fire, the clean air, the safety.
Romeo’s face scrunched as he thought. “He seems odd. I have never seen him walk or talk like that. He puts me in mind of Hunter to be honest.”
“Do not compare them,” hissed Lola passionately. “They are nothing alike, do you hear me? Nothing! Daddy is going to get us killed. We have to leave. We have to find Hunter.”
“But Lola Hunter is…”
“He. Is. Not. Gone.”
Romeo made a big show of looking around, as if waiting for Hunter to spring into the light and prove Lola right and him wrong. He looked at her sadly. “Lola how long has it been? I know you want to believe…”
Lola screamed in frustration, cutting off her uncle. She got up and ran her nails through her scalp violently, hoping that would satisfy her anger. That’s when she saw a chair and a naked window. Her fury with everyone, including Hunter’s prolonged absence, reached a crescendo. She picked up the chair and threw it at the window. She had expected the crack but not the shower of glass pieces. The window shattered in response to Lola’s anger and without conscious thought, she strode across the shards and jumped out.
Romeo stared at the window for the time it took Fences and Maggie to run into the room, Maggie going to the window, and Fences grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him mercilessly.
“She just…” said he, pointing helplessly at the shattered glass. “I didn’t…”
The resounding slap shook him to silence. It took him a moment to realize Fences had slapped him. Looking at him with hurt in his eyes, he said, “Verde…”
“My name,” he bellowed, “is Fences Deveraux.”
And he leaped out of the window into the night leaving behind a perplexed Romeo and a scared Maggie.
Enjoyed? Start from the beginning here: The Gunslinger, the Kid and the Ol’ Man