Tara was thrilled to tears when Heyes and Curry knocked for her to let them in. She fumbled getting the chair out from under the knob and unlocking the door. She fiercely hugged them both when they came in, then sheepishly stepped back and let them briefly fill her in on what happened. The men then cleaned their guns while Tara fidgeted between looking out the window and pacing back and forth.
Finally it was time. Heyes pulled the bible cover from between the bed mattresses, removed the document and slipped it under his vest into his right shirt pocket. They all left the room together.
“We want you to go to the sheriff’s office and wait,” Heyes told her as they reached the street outside the hotel. “He won’t be there, but his deputy is.”
“He’ll keep a good eye on you,” Curry assured her. “You’ll be safe there.”
Tara took a deep breath, looking from one man to the other. “I don’t know what I would have done without you,” she said, solemn with gratitude. She leaned up and kissed Curry on the check, and then Heyes. “Please, be careful.”
“We will,” Curry nodded with a smile. “And we’ll be back before you know it.” Tara stood and watched as the two men mounted their horses and rode away down the main street.
Strutford was pacing a few yards from the cabin when Heyes and Curry rode up. They quickly dismounted and walked towards him.
“That the $2,000?” Heyes asked, pointing at the bag Strutford carried. Curry stood easy with his hand resting lightly on his gun belt while Heyes waited for an answer.
“It’s here. All of it.” Strutford growled, opening the bag and revealing the money within. “You got the document?”
“I sure do,” Heyes said with a big smile, patting the right side of his vest. “But I gotta ask.
Why did you send that boy to our room? We had a deal, and it didn’t do you any good.”
“I wanted to know where she was. The boy described you. I figured that’s where she was, and the document.”
“You figured wrong,” Heyes told him.
“And you ruined a perfectly good bible too,” Curry added.
“I do what I have to do,” Strutford answered.
“Like kidnapping me?” Heyes asked smoothly. “And killing her father?”
Strutford glared at Heyes. “That’s right. And that should tell you,” he said slowly in a cold, steely voice, “that I am not about to let anything get in the way of reclaiming that document. So you better hand it over right now.”
Suddenly two shots whizzed by Heyes from behind. He and Curry spun around to see Tara standing out in the open, the Derringer still in her hand. Snapping back to Strutford, they saw rage on his face and a gun in his hand, aimed at Tara. Curry drew and fired, hitting Strutford in the leg and felling him, but not before he got off a wild shot, hitting Heyes in the arm.
“That’s enough!” bellowed a deep, commanding voice, followed by several shots in the air. The burly sheriff stood at the open door of the cabin, gun in hand. “I’ll shoot the next man…or woman…that moves.”
“Why did you come after us with the gun?” Curry asked Tara the next morning outside the hotel. He and Heyes were packed and ready to leave. “Didn’t you think we could handle him?”
“I…I knew I’d never be safe while Michael was alive,” Tara admitted.
“Well, that was a pretty brave thing you did,” Heyes said, “except for the fact that you missed Strutford completely and coulda shot me.” He glared down at her.
“Will you ever forgive me?” she entreated.
“Well, I already have.” Heyes smiled.
“The sheriff being at the cabin, that was your doing, wasn’t it?” Tara asked.
“I figured he’d come in handy.” Heyes said.
“I thought you two might stay for the trial,” Tara said hopefully.
“You don’t need us,” Heyes said. “Strutford’s in jail, and the sheriff has the document, and your father’s diary. And he heard Stratford admit to killing your father.”
“Don’t worry, Tara.” Curry smiled. “It’ll be all right.”
Tara smiled up at him. “I know it will be, now.” She turned to Heyes. “I’m so sorry you were hurt because of me. How is your arm?”
“It’s only a scratch,” Heyes braved, flexing his bandaged arm.
“I don’t know how I can ever begin to thank you,” Tara said.
“We were glad to help.” Curry smiled.
“Things were getting kinda dull anyway.” Heyes added.
“Maybe this will help,” she smiled, pulling an envelope out of her travel bag. She handed it to Heyes who peeked in to see a wad of hundreds.
“You don’t have to do this, Tara.” Heyes said with surprise, handing the envelope back to her.
“Of course I do,” she said, pushing it back towards him. “$2000, right? That was the price Strutford agreed to?”
“It sure was,” Curry said. “But…”
“Well, then, that’s what you deserve. Please, take it.”
“All right, we will.” Heyes smiled. “Thank you.”
“I’ll never forget you,” she added. She leaned up and kissed Heyes, and then kissed Curry too.
“Bye now,” Heyes said as both men mounted their horses. Tara stood and watched as they waved a last time and then, urging their horses into a gallop, away down the road leading out of town. She never would forget them.