He’d said he’d leave his old life, settle down, marry her. She wanted to believe him, wanted to be his wife.
It had taken time. He’d said it over and over. As they walked in the meadow at the edge of town. As they sat by the fire at Mrs. Wilson’s cafe on damp days. As he’d walked her almost all the way home.
She’d finally believed that he’d changed, that she could marry him and be happy.
Her pa was another matter.
“Men like him don’t change, Lacey.”
“You did.” She didn’t make it a habit to challenge him, but since her mother’s death she’d grown bolder. Her pa pretended not to notice, just went on as if she hadn’t changed.
“I was never like him. And you’ll never marry him, I’ll see to that.”
She had wondered why her pa could change but wouldn’t allow it in another man.
And now, standing at the front of the little church where the town nearly spilled into the meadow, she wondered where he was; where they both were.
# # #
Meanwhile deep in the woods, two men stood, guns drawn, in a level place at the edge of the stream.
Their guns were not aimed at each other.