M7FFA Entry

 

Queen of Hearts


by Mindi Welton


Ratings/Warnings: PG Smarm ahoy. This is my first fan fiction ever, comments are appreciated!!!




Mrs. Virginia Conner was a young widow who was living by herself on a very small farm just southeast of town. She was 26, with long brown hair pulled back into a bun, wearing a white shirt and long brown skirt. She was working out in the garden when three riders showed up. One was her younger brother-in-law, with a message from his older brother, Benjamin. Ben was following in a few days with the intent of marrying her and taking the farm and the small fortune she had inherited from her father. Ginny told John, the younger brother, to go back and meet Benjamin before he arrived and tell him that she wasn't going to marry him. John told her that she had no right to tell him what to do because she was a woman, so Ginny, pretending to reach down for her fallen garden hoe, picked up her shotgun and quickly fired two shots into the air.

"Get off my land and tell Ben there's no way on God's earth I'm marrying that lousy, good for nothing son of a bitch! This is my land now since David passed on and Ben has no right to it or me. And you know I have an eagle-eye so I suggest you start running."

John scrambled back into his saddle and the three turned their horses. John turned back while the others left. "Ginny, I suggest you give in 'cause when Ben comes down here he's bringing quite a company, and it might not be such a pretty wedding."

Ginny pumped her shotgun and fired over his head. John quickly turned his horse and rode off. Ginny lowered her gun, her look of anger changed to a look of fear.

The next evening Ginny rode into town and entered the saloon, dressed in a light blue dress. Everyone stopped talking and turned around. A few men began to whistle and there were a few calls of "Hello, what's this?" and "Hello, beautiful." She ignored them and walked over to a table of guys playing cards, one of whom was Ezra Standish.

"May I join you?" Ginny asked.

Ezra looked around the table at the disgusted looks from the other players. "This isn't really a game for ladies, ma'am."

"Are you scared of losing, sir?"

Ezra smiled, then rose and pulled out a chair. "If you insist." Ginny sat down while Ezra pushed in her chair, then sat down and began to shuffle the cards. "Five card draw," he announces as he deals the cards. An hour passes. Everyone ends up folding except for Ginny and Ezra. "Well, ma'am, we're getting down to the wire here. I'm going to call you." Ginny lay down a full house, but Ezra breathed in a deep breath as he threw down a flush in hearts. The other men got up from the table while Ezra raked in the cash.

"Let's play once more," Ginny said to Ezra.

"I do not believe you have anything more to lose, ma'am," Ezra replied while putting the money in a small brown bag.

"I have more than you know."

Ezra grinned wide. "It's getting late, ma'am, so unless you have something to keep the game interesting, I'd better be going."

Ginny slipped her hand under the table and pulled out a wad of cash from inside her stocking. "Five card hold. Three hundred ante."

Ezra tried not to act surprised, but his jaw dropped a little. "Anything else?"

"If you win, I'll add in two hundred more. If I win, you'll owe me a little favor. Nothing big or time-committing, I promise."

"Well, ma'am, it's your game."

Ezra shuffled and dealt the cards. Ginny sighed, and Ezra smiled triumphantly for a moment and lay down a full house, aces and threes. "Not so fast." She lay down her hand and showed him a full house of aces and queens. Ezra stared in disbelief. "You owe me," Ginny said to Ezra as she took her money back and placed it in her shoe.

"So what kind of favor do I owe you, Miss--"

"The name is Mrs. Virginia Conner." She moved closer to him. "I need your help. I can't tell you here. Meet me tomorrow, by the creek bend south of town, near the falls." Ginny turned and hurried out the door. Ezra just stood staring after her for a few moments, stunned by her last words.

The next morning Ezra, Chris, Buck and J.D. were sitting outside of the Sheriff's office. "So who is this woman, Ezra? Is she married?" Buck said, laughing while slapping him on the back.

"I have never seen her before. She seemed desperate for our help."

"Your help, you mean. Well, I didn't think you had it in you. I'm darn proud of you." He patted Ezra on the shoulder. Ezra shook him off and stood up. "She said she needed help, and from the desperation in her voice I thought she may need all of us."

"What was her name?" Chris asked Ezra.

"Mrs. Conner. Mrs. Virginia Conner."

Buck stopped laughing as he and Chris both recognize her name. "Conner... David Conner. He moved here about five years back with his wife and started a farm. He left to help his brothers up in Wyoming two years ago and ended up in a shootout in some saloon in Cheyenne. His wife didn't find out until they brought him back in a box." "It sounds like it could be a dangerous situation, Ezra," J.D. warned him. "Why would she want you to meet her alone?"

Buck turned to him. "The only thing dangerous here is the Ace of Spades is about to fall for the Queen of Hearts." Ezra shook his head, annoyed, and left the group.

Late that afternoon, Ezra rode alone to the creek bend. Ginny was sitting on the bank, in her white shirt and brown skirt, her hair pulled back. Her horse was grazing nearby. Ezra dismounted and left his horse by her.

"Mrs. Conner."

Ginny smiled, turning to him. "I'm glad you came. I was beginning to think that you wouldn't. You can call me Ginny."

"I'm Ezra, Ezra Standish."

"I know. I've heard of you. You're one of the Seven, as they call you." She paused and looked away from him, towards the creek." "Ezra, I'm in trouble. I live on the farm that's just across the creek over there." She nodded towards it and Ezra looked out between the trees and spied the house and the fence surrounding the small garden. "My husband and I moved out here five years ago from St. Louis. I just wanted to get out of the city, you know, and settle down. For a while we lived the perfect life. Then David got called up to Cheyenne by his brothersthey needed some help. He was supposed to be gone for a month, but three had passed when the wagon pulled up to the house, carrying his coffin. All I found out was in a letter from Ben and John, his brothers, that David had died in a shootout. That was two years ago. So I was left here alone. My pa and brothers died in the war, and my other kin stayed behind in St. Louis.

"But I managed all right. After the first few months it wasn't so hard. I hired some hands during the summer to help me with the crops and in the winter I'd visit the neighbors. I've been able to handle myself." She paused again, then looked at him. "I don't like to ask for help, Ezra, but I have some trouble now. The reason David and I did so well is that I have an inheritancea rather large one at thatfrom my father. David and I kept it a secret from his family, but somehow Ben and John found out. Right after David died he came down from Cheyenne and asked me to marry him, but I told him no, and with a little persuasion," Ginny paused and put her hand on the shotgun at her side, "He left and returned to Cheyenne. Two days ago John rode in here with two men telling me that Ben was coming down to force me to marry him. He said Ben was coming back with more men. I don't know how many, but I can't protect my land and myself if it's just me."

"Why did you come see me, then, and not one of the others?" Ezra asked her.

"Because I didn't want to create too much commotion in town, and besides that, none of the others are a match for me in a game of chance." She laughed for a moment. "I met David in a game of poker in St. Louis." Ezra smiled in response. "I didn't want the neighbors knowing I was talking with youthat's why I had you meet me here. I don't want Ben knowing what's going on ahead of time."

Ezra stood up and helped Ginny to her feet. "Ma'am, I'm sorry for the loss of your husband. I'll try to help youwe'll think of something." Ezra paused as he looked into her eyes. "I'll let the others in on what's going on. How many men do you think Ben will bring with him?"

"Five, maybe ten at the most. Ben doesn't have the greatest reputation in Cheyenne right now, from what I've heard."

Ezra nodded. "We'll think of something, Mrs. Conner," he repeated.

Ginny smiled. "It's Ginny. And I thank you, Ezra." Ginny mounted her horse and rode off. Ezra stood and stared for a moment, then mounted and left.

Two days later a group of eight riders rode into town, one dressed in a very expensive suit. J.D. walked out into the street and flagged the well-dressed man down. "Are you looking for the wedding, sir?"

"Huh?" he responded to J.D., turning his horse around. "I'm about to be married. I've just got to go tell the bride." The other riders started laughing.

"Oh. The reason I asked, sir, is that there's a wedding right now in the chapel, of Mr. Ezra Standish and Mrs. Virginia Conner."

"Ginny?" the man says, shocked.

"Aren't you the groom's guests? They've been waiting for you all afternoon."

"We're about to be." The riders all galloped off toward the direction of the chapel, J.D. smiling behind them.

The riders stormed into the chapel with their guns ready. Josiah was standing at the pulpit in front of Ezra and Ginny, dressed for a wedding, holding hands. Chris, Vin, Nathan, and Buck were standing in the front pews of the church.

"What is the meaning of this, breaking into God's home in the middle of such a sacred ceremony?" Josiah shouted. Ezra and Ginny turned around.

"I'm afraid there has been a mistake, Ben. I think I failed to mention to John that I was already engaged to Mr. Ezra Standish," Ginny said while Ezra just smiled and placed his arm around her.

"You can't do this to me, Ginny. I'll have your land and your money!" Ben shouted. "I'm afraid, sir, that Mrs. Standish would like you to leave. Now." Chris stepped towards Ben and showed his gun. "Ben, get out of here and get out of town."

"Who are you?"

"I'm Ginny's brother."

Vin pulled out his shotgun. "And I'm her cousin."

Josiah now pulled his gun out from behind the pulpit. "And I'm the Godfather." The riders started to back out. Ben wheeled around. "Where are you all going?" He then saw Nathan and Buck with their guns drawn. Ezra pulled out a gun from under his jacket and Ginny reached for the shotgun hidden on the floor under the skirts of her dress. J.D. entered with his gun drawn. "Sorry Ezra, I thought they were your guests."

"They were just leaving, right, gentlemen?" The rest of the riders put away their guns and left. Ben walked out, then turned around. "You've made a terrible mistake, Ginny." He left almost as quickly as he came.

Josiah started to laugh after they left. "Well, I think this is the record for the quickest wedding and the quickest annulling." They all laughed as they put away their guns.

"Thank you, Josiah, those were beautiful words," Ezra responded.

Ezra accompanied Ginny home from the chapel. "Well, Mrs. Conner, it would have been nice to have known you as Mrs. Standish." They both laughed. "Ezra, I thank you for everything." They dismounted, and Virginia started to walk away, but turned back. "I have a terrible secret to confess, Ezra. That night we played poker, I was just losing to raise the stakes. I let you win."

Ezra smiled. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but it's only on a rare occasion that I lose. I'm afraid you lost those other games fair and square."

"No, I let you win. I was really concerned there, for a while, because you kept dealing me aces and I had to give them up. But if you want to prove me wrong, you're welcome to come in and play a hand or two."

"I think I'll take you up on that, ma'am." Ezra entered the house.

Ezra and Ginny were sitting at the dining room table as evening fell. "Well, where are we now? Three games to two, Ezra?"

"Best out of seven," he responded. Ezra was about to deal another round when the sound of riders approaching startled them both. Ezra jumped up and grabbed his gun. The window in the living room shattered when a piece of dynamite flew through the window. Ezra grabbed Ginny and they ran out the back door, jumping. Ezra covered Ginny as the dynamite exploded, her house going up in flames. Chris and Vin emerged from the darkness and raced over.

"Are you all right?" Chris called out to Ezra. He nodded and looked at Ginny. She was shaken but not hurt. "We spotted them heading south after the two of you left."

"We'll head out after them, but it's starting to get too dark," Vin informed them.

"Don't worry, Mrs. Conner, we'll get them," Chris assured her as he and Vin headed out after them.

Ginny stood up and looked at the house. Ezra said nothing but stood beside her, placing his arm around her.

Ezra and Ginny entered Ezra's room. "Thank you for your kindness, Ezra. I didn't want to ask for help, but God knows what would have happened if you hadn't helped." Ezra smiled slightly. "Here you are, Ginny. I'll be downstairs if you need anything." He left a pistol on the bedside, then walked out the door.

Ginny managed to get to sleep after a while, but was awakened by the sound of her window opening. She screamed and Ben, along with two gunmen, crawled out of the window. She reached for the pistol but it was knocked away. The two men grabbed her and held her down on the bed while Ben stood above her. "So where is your pretty husband, Ginny? I didn't think you'd really get married." At that moment Ezra and Buck busted in the door. Ben grabbed Ginny and held the knife by her throat while Ezra and Buck beat the living hell out of the other two men. Ezra and Buck stood back from Ben and Ginny. "Stay away from my wife, pretty boy."

"She's not yours to have, mister. She doesn't belong to anyone. Put that knife down and let her go." Ben dragged Ginny over to the window. "Let her go!" Ezra shouted.

"She's mine. I had to kill David the first time, don't make me kill you, or her." Ezra looked at Ginny and motioned slightly towards the bed, where the pistol lay. She stomped on Ben's feet while Ezra quickly raised his gun.

"I suggest you leave the lady alone, now," Ezra said as he cocked the gun. Ginny quickly picked up the pistol and aimed at Ben's head.

Ben reached for his gun, but before Ezra could do anything Ginny shot Ben in the head. As Ben fell, Ginny continued to pull the trigger, shooting him four times before Ezra placed his hand on hers.

"It's all right, Ginny. He's gone. He's gone." She slowly lowered her arm, dropping the gun. Ezra slowly lifted her chin with his hand, and then he embraced her while she began to cry. Ezra said nothing but just held her. A few days later Ginny was dressed in a dark blue dress and a matching hat, standing by a stagecoach. Ezra stood before her. "You'll be all right back in St. Louis?"

She smiled, but sadly. "I've got family there. I'm going to go back for a while." She paused, then smiled in happiness. "I'll come back someday. I still have to prove to you that I can beat you in a game of chance."

Ezra smiled, then took her hand. "I'll look forward to it." They stood there smiling for a moment, then Ezra reached across and hugged her. Ginny pulled away slightly. "Ezra, you forgot to kiss the bride." Ezra smiled and they closed their eyes, gently kissing. Finally, Ginny pulled away and Ezra helped her into the stagecoach. She waved as the coach pulled out, and Ezra just touched his hat slightly, looking very sad.

"Well Ezra," Buck called out as he walked toward him. "It's always hard to see them go."

Ezra looked down for a moment. "I've never been a sore loser, Buck, but it's still hard when the stakes start getting high."

"A man sometimes doesn't know how much he has to lose until he watches it leave the table." Ezra nodded, then turned to Buck and they headed over to the saloon.




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