Not Just a Gambler
Note: This short fic was spawned from me answering my own question. Where did our distraught gambler go after he told off Maude and stormed out of the saloon in 'Sins of the Past.'
Beth watched from across the street as Ezra stormed out of the saloon, down the boardwalk, and turned a corner down the nearest alleyway. She had been talking with Lucy who was beside herself over her condition and how Buck wasn't planning to take responsibility.
"Sorry Luce, but I need to get going," Beth said while placing a comforting hand on Lucy's arm.
Lucy sniffled before she answered, "Alright, you'll come calling later?"
"Yes, now you best get on home and get some rest," Beth said while looking down the boardwalk to see if Ezra had emerged.
"I'll tell Ma your coming for supper?"
Beth sighed, she wasn't up for Lucy's family this evening, but she wanted to get Lucy on her way, so Beth could be about her impulsive business. "Yes, please tell your mother I will be there."
Lucy squealed and hugged her long time friend. "They will be thrilled. See you then," Lucy said before she walked off and turned to give an excited wave.
Beth let out the breath she was holding thinking Lucy would find some reason to hold her there longer and when she saw she was in the clear turned and started in the direction of her desire, one Ezra P. Standish.
Beth found him down the alley and behind the ramshackle building that served as the telegraph office. She stopped in her tracks and watched as he paced and mumbled to himself. Beth knew it had something to do with the contest he and Maude had going; it was all over town and it infuriated Beth how Maude treated her son.
After standing in silence for a while, hoping the usually stealth gambler would pick up on her presence, Beth cleared her throat and said his name quietly. "Ezra."
He turned on his heals and the frown he was wearing grew. "Miss Connors, how long have you been standing there?"
"Long enough to see that you could use a friend," she answered, taking a few steps closer to him.
Ezra tilted his head a bit and she could see he was contemplating what to say.
"I saw you storm out of the saloon. I can only assume it has something to do with your mother and this silly contest the two of you have going." Not missing the way he put his poker face in place at the mention of his mother.
"I don't see how that is any concern of yours, Miss Connor?"
Beth completed the steps required to reach him and as she stood before him looking up into the dazzling green pools of his, she almost lost her nerve…almost. "Where you are concerned…I make it my business."
Ezra felt as if he'd been punched in the stomach. "Had she really just said that?" he wondered silently to himself and as he looked down into her hazel eyes he saw for the first time the raw passion she held for him.
"Anna Beth, please call me Beth," she said cutting him off.
"Beth, I never realized that you were aware of who I am," he stated, taking a hard swallow over the emotion he was feeling at what he saw in her eyes.
"Ezra, how could one not notice you?" she asked with a smile and a blush forming. "I have watched you from afar all this time, and where others find you hard to read, I find you to be as easy as a children's book."
Ezra's eyebrow went up with her last comment. "Do tell beautiful lady. What do you infer when you look at me?"
She smiled at this, and Ezra took notice for the first time, what a stunning woman she really was. Oh, he had noticed her before, but her father was a prominent landowner in the territory and after watching Buck get almost shot by her father, Ezra considered her off limits.
"A man with a golden heart and a conscience to boot. A man struggling with what he was raised to be and what he wants to be. I see a man who hides from the world all he is and pushes those away that get too close." Beth saw his face pale, she knew she struck a cord with him and that he was realizing just how much she had studied him since his arrival to the dusty little town. "I don't make out what others see, a simple gambler. I see a man that given love, would challenge heaven and earth to keep it."
Ezra grabbed her face with his hands and covered her mouth with his. No one had ever seen him, or even tried to see him as she had. As his mouth explored hers, he realized he had been a fool to have never acted on impulse and pursued her.
With his body he pushed hers up against the building and practically made love to her right there. Realizing where they were he pulled away. "My dear Beth, may I advise that we retire to somewhere more private."
Beth blushed, bringing her hand to her mouth, already missing the contact of his lips on hers. "Yes, I would love if you showed me your room."
Ezra gave her his famous cheeky smile, "It would be my esteemed pleasure." With that he pushed away from the wall and her body, ever the gentleman extended his arm for her to take and lead her up the back stairs of the saloon to his room, shutting out the world and his troubles.