You Didn’t Need To Go To All That Trouble

Author:  taffey
Rating:  PG
Character: Cort (The Quick & The Dead)
Disclaimer:     The following story has been written with no intention of claiming ownership or solicitation,     No claim reassignment of copyright or copyrighted material is intended, nor should such be inferred by the publication of this work.  The movie character(s) have been borrowed and are not being used for any other reason except entertainment.  Please do not copy, publish or alter this work in any way without the written permission of the author.
 The tall, willowy blonde paused; her blue skirt stood still against her long legs.
“Ellen?”  Marcy realized her friend was no longer by her side.  “What is it, Ellen?”
Ellen slowly stepped off the plank board sidewalk and moved down the street.  Marcy followed Ellen’s gaze.  A tall cowboy was standing by the hitching post in front of the saloon.  The back of his black duster parted with the gentle breezes.  Ellen stopped and watched his still form, her eyes searching. The cowboy turned and began to stroke his horse’s forehead.  Ellen’s sky blue eyes sparkled with recognition.  She put her hand over her throat and felt her heart pounding.  Could it be?  The cowboy glanced in her direction and nodded.
 “Ma’am,” he drawled softy as he headed towards the saloon.
Ellen frowned.  Why didn’t he recognize her?  She glanced down at her skirt and short boots.  She wore her long hair up now and dressed like a lady.  But surely he could see who she was.  Maybe she was mistaken. .
“Ellen, are you all right?”
Reluctantly Ellen broke her gaze, realizing that she had left Marcy mid-sentence.
“I’m sorry, Marcy.  You were saying something about Mrs. Flynn’s hair?”
Marcy laughed.
“Never mind Mrs. Flynn’s hair!  I want to know about him!”
“He’s someone from my past–I think.”
“You must have had some past if that gorgeous man was part of it.”  Ellen turned in time to see Cort’s back disappear into the saloon.    “Unless he was a bad part of it.”
Ellen sighed deeply.
 “He was.  But he wasn’t the one who made it bad.”   She bit her lower lip.  How could a man she had known for only three days and hadn’t seen in five years make her insides feel like churned butter?  And why had he pretended he didn’t recognize her?
Ellen could see the saloon from her room over the dress shop she and Marcy owned.  She knew Cort was in there.
Her mind played back her life five years ago.  She had wanted to hate Cort because of his former life with John Herod–the man who killed her father.  Yet, she couldn’t.  Everything about him was so unlike Herod.
There was that evening Herod had invited her to his house for dinner.  Her plan was to kill him that night.   Looking beautiful in her long black dress and sapphire necklace, she passed Cort chained to the fountain, trying to reach a glass of water a foot away.  He glanced up at her and smiled.
 “You didn’t need to go to all that trouble just for me.”
“I didn’t,”  she replied lightly.
All she had to do was lean over and push the glass closer to him.  Intent on her mission, though, she kept walking.
Ellen snapped out of her reverie in time to see Cort emerge from the bar.  Grabbing a shawl, she hurried down the stairs.  It was irrational behavior; but it didn’t matter.
He stopped, mentally drinking her in.
 His voice was deeper than she remembered.
 “Why did you pretend you didn’t know me earlier?”
“I saw a different person.   Maybe married.   I didn’t reckon you’d appreciate your past visiting you.”
“I’m not married.”   So many emotions washed over her.
 “I know.   I asked the bartender.”  Her eyes spoke of so many questions she wanted to ask, so many things she wanted to say.    “I’ll see you later, then?”   Ellen nodded.
He was half way up the street when she thought she would burst.   Ellen hurried after him.   She wanted Cort to hold her in his arms, to talk to her—about anything.    It made no sense, but Ellen knew she needed him. Cort walked into Parson’s Jewelers.
When she entered the shop, Cort was at the counter looking through the glass at some earrings.  Mr. Parson was smiling; he always smiled when a sale was eminent.  A sinking feeling hit Ellen.  Cort wouldn’t be buying earrings unless there was someone in his life.  Ellen felt her throat constricting and wanted to run out of the shop; but her feet wouldn’t move.  She just stood at the counter watching.
 “Those.”  Cort pointed to a pair of brilliant square-cut sapphires.   Mr. Parson carefully wrapped the gems and placed them in a small box.  “Do you deliver?”
“Why, yes, we do,” Mr. Parson replied brightly.  “Where would you like me to deliver them?”
“To the end of the counter.”  Cort turned to face Ellen.  Her mouth opened as she inhaled sharply.  Mr. Parson chuckled.  He walked up to Ellen and handed her the box.  Five years ago, Cort’s blue eyes had been pained and sad.  Now they were bright and alive.  Glancing down at the small box she began to grin like a school girl.
Cort looked at her dress appreciatively and smiled.
“You didn’t need to go to all that trouble just for me.”
“I didn’t,”  she replied, tears in her eyes.
“You will.”  Winking, he tipped his hat and walked out of the shop.