Leandra J. Piper
Copyright 2012 by Leandra J. Piper
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used without the express written permission of the author or publisher for any purposes, except brief quotations in critical articles or reviews.
The rain was coming down in sheets the night the stranger rode into town. The saloon was packed, but quiet. No one wanted to test the barman. No one wanted to get thrown out into that windblown hell outside. Instead they huddled tight around their drinks, no one saying much. A game of cards meandered along in the corner, but nobody's heart was in it. It was the sort of rain that sucked everyone's spirits dry.
More than a few people glared when the door banged open, letting in a burst of the wind and the rain and the stranger. He was tall, that one, and his duster was soaked. Water streamed off his hat, and he left a puddle behind him when he finally stepped away from the door. What attention he gathered soon left him, the patrons knowing when to leave well enough alone.
He made his way to the bar and took himself a seat, setting both gloved hands right down on the polished surface. The barman got a better look at him then, and saw that he was pale, pale like he hadn't seen the sun in years. But the barman wasn't a young man, and he'd seen a lot of things, so he wasn't about to raise an eyebrow at even so strange a thing as that. "What can I get for you?" he asked the stranger. "Beer? Whiskey?"