Wyatt’s arms were solid on either side of Charlotte, holding the reigns high so he could keep her steady and not offend her. The horse cut the time it would have taken nearly in half, and the dot that was Blackwater was fast approaching. As they entered the city, he could immediately tell that they weren't welcomed. No outlaw types like Wyatt were ever welcomed in 'civilized' places such as this. He rode the horse to a hitching post, where he got off and wrapped the reins in a convoluted knot, then turned back to Charlotte and offered her his hand to get down from the horse. "C’mon. I don' wanna stay here long," he explained. His eyes shifted back and forth, and then locked on the sheriff's office where he was sure the two marshals were located. He helped Charlotte down off the horse and led her toward the saloon in the center of the town. When he entered, the entire room fell silent and everyone turned and stared at him, as well as Charlotte. "What the hell're you all lookin' at?" he asked, which caused most of them to turn back to their conversations.
He made his way to the bar, knowing Charlotte wasn't far behind him. "Bartender," he started, getting the man's attention. "Whiskey." The bartender filled a small glass with brownish-gold liquid and set it down in front of Wyatt. The bartender was a taller man, and very well groomed for his job. Everyone in town was overdone. Any further out west and everyone would look like the two thieves they crossed paths with earlier. "You ever heard of any Union soldiers ridin' about in these parts?" Wyatt asked the bartender.
The man shook his head. "No, sir,” he replied. “There’s no war here.” Wyatt sighed and brought the small glass to his lips, taking a sip.
He turned to Charlotte. "That's what I thought. Those men weren't soldiers," he explained quietly. "More likely they were some criminals who killed a few soldiers and took their uniforms." He downed the rest of the glass. He certainly needed it. "You want a drink?"
Eyes fell on them from every direction as they entered the town on the slow moving horse. Judgmental glares directed more at Wyatt than at her stabbed at them, and whispers between women and the occasional cursing man haunted her ears, but she tried not to react. Charlotte kept her eyes down, along with her head, and let the pieces of her hair that had fallen down conceal who she was. No one would ever expect her with a man like him, so she told herself all would be well as long as no more attention was drawn to them than necessary. They would be in and out. The horse continued forward painfully slow. Her body was taking the toll from the heat; a sheer layer of sweat matted her skin, her hair was messy and her clothing torn apart to use as a makeshift bandage; she looked like anyone but herself. She was never so affected by heat before that moment and chalked it up to the stress of her brother's death, which she remained plenty sick over.
He offered to help her down with his hand again and she took it, sliding off the horse and back onto the dirt. She looked up at him for a minute, his eyes elsewhere. She followed them to the Sheriff's office. Wyatt then began down to the saloon, where they both went in. Eyes fell on them; harsh eyes of people she had seen before and bought from. People she grew up around. Wyatt snapped at them and they all immediately went back to their conversations which probably featured them now. Humiliated and hurt, Charlotte followed behind Wyatt to the bar. She absently traced the marks on the sticky wood, avoiding glances as he asked her if she wanted anything. "I don't usually drink," she explained in response to his offer, not looking up. "Now might be an exception." Her eyes lifted to him and she smiled slightly. A tiny glass was placed in front of her and she stared at it for a second before bringing it to her lips and taking a small sip from it. The inviting looking gold liquid was disgusting, and possessed a bitterness and sharpness that burned as it spilled down her throat. Charlotte made a sour face and set it down. She laughed at herself under her breath. "I wasn't lying."
He chuckled softly. "I can tell.” He raised his hand for the bartender to fill his glass once again. He drank the whiskey quickly and set the glass back down. Charlotte stared at the almost-empty glass in front of her. He cleared his throat. "So, uh, I figure that since we got a common enemy and all, I should probably help you out. I gotta get back those Whitton twins anyway. That is unless them fake soldiers didn't kill 'em already," he said, pushing around the empty glass with his fist. "Why don't you tell me what's in that box of yours?" he asked. She thought about his question. If he was going to help her, she would have to tell him eventually. But all she knew about him was that he could shoot whiskey and had remarkable aim. How could she trust that he wouldn’t be like any other man she and the wooden chest were confronted by and steal it for himself? She drew in a breath to answer when a loud, booming voice silenced the room. A voice she regretted recognizing. Not him, she thought. Anyone but him.
The sound of his footsteps bounced off the walls. Their power and sureness made it seem as if no one else was in the room. Only them. Charlotte swallowed thickly with nerves, trying to figure out what she was supposed to do. What she was supposed to say. The man leaned against the bar, took the drink from in front of her and finished it.
"What're you doing back here so soon? Is everything all right?" She wouldn't look at him until his fingers harshly scooped up her chin to meet his eyes. Reluctant, her eyes met his harsh gaze. His voice lowered and he stated, "You didn’t already deliver it."
"John," she greeted in a soft tone and smiled, though there was no real emotion behind it. Her eyes said that. She jerked her chin away, not with anger, but passively. "Everything is fine. Jesse forgot to bring something, so we came back to get it and decided we wouldn't leave until the morning." He didn't care about that. His gaze was over her head on Wyatt, eyes narrow and suspicious. "You know you aren't supposed to be in here," the girl reminded in a hushed tone. "We'll talk in just a minute. Outside." The man lingered, not looking away from Wyatt. Finally, he moved away and turned slowly to go out the doors and walk around to the side of the building. She exhaled in relief once he was gone.
"I’m sorry about him," Charlotte apologized to Wyatt, then stood and looked out the window. "I wasn't expecting him to realize I was back as fast as he did. Someone must’ve seen us and ran to him." She sighed and pushed off the bar, composed herself more with every step she took. All the eyes in the room were on her as she took her exit. As soon as the door closed behind her, the conversations resumed.
Between the building she left and the one next to it, John was waiting. They exchanged a few sentences before his hand raised and he slapped her clean across the face. She felt her eyes water as she slowly straightened back up. "I'm not yours anymore, John. The second I left with Jesse was the second there wasn’t an agreement anymore." He said nothing, just shoved her away so she stumbled back into the dirt and huffed off back to wherever he came from, undoubtedly a whore house. Charlotte was quick to stand and brush herself off, but she didn't go back inside. She refused to face those people. Instead, she just stared at the stone street in front of her. She stood up straight, searching desperately for all her confidence that seemed to have been smacked and pushed to the ground just as she was. There was more than one reason she wanted out of the damned town.
Wyatt was silent as the man spoke down to Charlotte, returning John's gaze with a small narrow of his eyes and a scowl. As he left and Charlotte apologized, Wyatt simply nodded in reply. Something about the man didn't sit right with him. He kept a close eye on Charlotte as she followed John outside, and decided to follow behind them to make sure he didn’t do anything Charlotte didn’t like. He slipped off the stool, ignoring the bartender’s warnings of not paying, and took the same path around the building as Charlotte and John did. When he rounded the corner, Charlotte was on the ground holding her cheek. Wyatt instinctively reached for his revolver but didn't draw it, deciding that shooting the man stumbling away in the middle of town, of Blackwater, was probably a bad idea. "Who the hell was that?" Wyatt asked, his tone rather calm. He felt an anger stir inside of him as he had watched Charlotte shakily stand, but he knew better than to let his emotions take control of his actions, "Some angry ex-lover?" he asked half-jokingly.
She turned her head to look at him, looks of both surprise and embarrassment on her face. "No," she muttered, clearly not amused. "Ex fiancé. It was off when I left, but that’s what I was supposed to marry. He's going to tell everyone I'm back with Jesse, but people are going to realize Jesse's not here soon. Everyone here loved him. If I’m back, they’ll assume he is, too, and try to find him to figure out what’s going on and why we’re back so soon. Everyone thinks we’re going back to our college on the other side of the country so he can accept an award. Not to…deliver a will." She glanced at him, glad she caught herself before telling Wyatt what was really in the wood chest, and then walked to the end of the alley and looked down the street at John as he stalked away into the building surrounded by scantily dressed women. "If you're leaving, you should go. He'll send after us if I'm gone. Especially if he thinks I'm with you." Charlotte turned her head back to Wyatt. Half of her wanted to go with him, her heart's half; but the rest of her was afraid to go, afraid that something bad would happen if she did, her mind's half.
Wyatt shook his head. "I ain't afraid of him," he declared, watching the man vanish into the brothel. “And I said I would help you. I ain’t goin’ back on what I said.”