The Brave Pay their Debt – Extended Epilogue

One Year later


“I don’t know, he just insists that you meet him in the parlor,” Elsa said.

“It’s nearly dinnertime. Who on Earth would show up now?” Cilla asked.

She and Emmett had just finished in town that afternoon, and they were expecting dinner directly. She wasn’t anticipating company, and she honestly had no idea who could possibly be coming to call at this hour.

Her life had changed drastically over the past year, but she had risen to the demands of the new life she lived.

It hadn’t taken her and Emmett long to marry. They had started courting the very night they found out she was the sole heir to the ranch, and before even six months were over, she accepted his proposal and they married.

They hadn’t had as large of a wedding as Luther had thrown. Not because she was worried that someone else would cause trouble, but because that wasn’t what Cilla wanted. She didn’t want to be anything like Luther, so she wasn’t going to use her wedding day to flaunt her wealth.

She had written to her father and told him what had happened once she found out that she was going to inherit the ranch, and she was surprised when he had returned her letter with one of his own, telling her how happy he was for her and how proud he was to have her as his daughter.

He had given his blessing when she told him she was going to marry Emmett, and to her surprise, both her father and her mother had come to the wedding.

Her father had looked over the ranch, clearly pleased to know it was now in the family, and he hadn’t shown any kind of emotion at all over Luther’s death. Though that in itself had never felt quite right to Cilla, Emmett insisted it wasn’t anything she ought to worry about, as she had done nothing but obey what her father had told her to do in the first place.

“It’s not your fault Luther got himself killed, and you deserve to have the ranch because of what you went through,” Emmett had told her. “If your father isn’t going to care about the fact that his alleged friend was murdered, that doesn’t have anything to do with you. Just be grateful that you didn’t wind up having to live with the man.”

Cilla still felt rather guilty not caring about Luther’s death.

It didn’t have anything to do with the man as a person, but she felt sorry for any person who could die and have the world almost celebrate the fact that he was gone. But still, she was so in love with Emmett, she didn’t question what he told her to do, and she, too, was able to come to terms with what had happened to her first husband and let it go.

Now that she was the one in charge of the ranch, Cilla made a point of opening the doors of the place to the other people in town. She treated the staff far better than Luther ever had, and she provided plenty of jobs to those who were in need. She forgave a lot of her husband’s debts, freeing so many from the burden of having to pay her back.

Before she had even been the new owner of the ranch for even six months, she was one of the most beloved women in town. The entire tone of the place changed, and though Cilla was too modest to say that she was the reason behind it, everyone knew she was.

Emmett had made a point of writing to Curtis as soon as they were able, and he let their friend know that they were going to be taking on the ranch and he was welcome at any time. In the past year, he had yet to come back through Durango, but he would write them letters when he had the chance, and he often promised he was going to make a surprise stop and visit them one of the coming days.

Cilla almost dared to hope that was who was waiting for them in the parlor, though she did find it odd that if it was Curtis, he would refuse to tell Elsa he was there to see them.

So, she and Emmett both headed into their parlor to meet the visitor, and both were shocked when they found the young man standing in the middle of the room.

“So, there she is,” he said.

“Do I know you?” Cilla asked.

“Unfortunately, no, but I know you,” he said. “And you.” He turned to Emmett.

“You’re going to have to slow down,” Emmett told him. “Who are you?”

“My name is Victor Jones, and I am the rightful heir to this ranch,” the man said.

Emmett and Cilla looked at each other.

“And how are you related to Luther?” Cecily asked.

“I am his son,” Victor replied. “The bastard cut me out of his inheritance because he hated my mother, but I’m telling you now, I am the rightful heir this entire ranch, and unless you hand it over peacefully, I am going to live up to our name and take it by force!”

“Settle down now,” Emmett said, but Victor snapped at him.

“Step back! You have even less right than she does to be here! And I’m warning you, I’m not going to be nearly so kind when I come back if you don’t comply,” he said.

“We had all the records searched,” Cilla said. “I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe you.”

“Believe what you want, but I’m not backing down,” Victor said. “And if you are going to fight me, then I can promise you now that I am going to keep coming back again and again until you finally give in and hand over what is rightfully mine.”

“Then I shall have you arrested,” Emmett said. “I’m not going to have you here harassing us or the staff when you have no standing. I don’t even know if you’re telling the truth!”

“I’ve heard of you,” the man said, challenging Emmett. “Alright, I’ll tell you what. Let’s settle this the right way. We don’t need to get the law involved. I challenge you, man to man. Winner takes all.”

“That’s ridiculous—” Cilla started, but Emmett stopped her.

“You know what? I accept,” he said. “If you’ve heard of me, then you know I’m not the kind of guy to back down. If you’re still going to have the guts to come here and threaten me, then challenge me to my face over what is ours, I will stand up to you myself.”

“Emmett!” Cilla cried. “No!”

She was already thinking about what happened to Luther, and she was almost sick with worry that the same could happen to Emmett. She knew him. He was a strong, sensible man. But he wasn’t a fighter. He hated violence, and he never engaged in it unless he was pushed to the point of having no other choice.

She hated to think of what this man might do if he thought he could get the ranch from them. She wasn’t going to hand it over to him, but she also didn’t want the love of her life to get involved in something that could cost him his life.

But Emmett was adamant that he wasn’t going to let this man come into his house and threaten to take it from him. Cilla knew Emmett had been through a lot in his life, and he was ready to stand up to anyone who threatened to take what he had now.

He had come too far to give it up to anyone, let alone someone who came marching into his house without any sort of proof that he was who he said he was, and made a claim that he was owed all that belonged to them.

When they were married, he made a promise to Cilla that he would fight for them and all that they had. But Cilla had always imagined that he had already done all the fighting that he would have to do.

She wanted to believe that they were safe now, and there was no more fighting to be done. She had lulled herself into the sense of security she felt this town provided—and considering they had as much as they did, she felt they were able to handle anything that came their way.

But she never thought they would have to face a man who said it was all his. She didn’t know who this person was, and that worried her. It worried her that he could be telling the truth, and it scared her that Emmett was going to duel with this man for the rights to the ranch.

It was crazy to her, but no matter what she said, she knew Emmett had already made up his mind. He was going to go through with this and prove to this man, to her, to himself, and to anyone else that this was his land, and he wasn’t going to just walk away from it.

“Let’s make something of this,” Emmett told the stranger. “I want you to meet me on Saturday afternoon. Three o’clock sharp. Tell the entire town to be there; I want the whole world to see this.”

An evil smile spread across the man’s face as he looked Emmett over from head to toe. He clearly felt he was going to win, even without being anywhere close to the fight.

“I agree,” he said. “I think the whole town should know when the rightful owner of the ranch takes his place. Alright. I’m going to spread the word, and you had better be there. Because I’ll tell you right now, if you don’t show up, then I’m going to take it as acceptance that this is my property, and I will come in here with all the force needed to make sure you give it to me.”

“Trust me, I’m going to be there,” Emmett warned him. “And I hope you come ready, because you’re not going to be walking away from that fight.”

“I look forward to it,” the man said.

And, without another word, he left.

“Emmett!” Cilla said as soon as they were alone. “Emmett! Don’t do this.”

“I have to,” he told her. “This guy is trying to take our ranch.”

“We can take him to court,” she pleaded, but Emmett shook his head.

“If this is going to be tolerated, I’m going to warn you right now that he is just the first of more people than you can imagine coming forward and trying to take what’s ours. I’m going to make sure the entire town is there to see me stand up for this place. To stand up for us!” he said. “I’m going to make it clear to anyone who wants to challenge us, they can, but they might not be able to walk away.”

“But what if you’re the one who is hurt?” she cried.

“Then I’ll fall doing what I love,” he said. “Taking care of you.”

Cilla tried again to convince him not to go through with the fight, but there was no point. Emmett wasn’t going to back down now. He was going to do everything he said, and she had no choice but to be there for support and pray to God he won.

But Cilla knew she was going to spend the next few days sick with worry. She had already lost one husband, and this time, it would be millions of times worse.

Emmett was the love of her life, and she would give up anything for his safety. She hoped he knew what he was doing.

Because she hated everything about this.

Sure enough, Saturday came and people had arrived from all over the territory to watch the duel.

It wasn’t something that happened often anymore, and Cilla hoped the sheriff might put a stop to it before the men were able to draw their guns on each other.

But there was no law that stated that they couldn’t settle their disagreement this way, and despite the fact the sheriff and his deputy were both present, Cilla knew they were going to go through with the duel anyway.

“You don’t have to do this,” she tried one more time as Emmett prepared to step out onto the street.

“I do,” he said. “I have to show the world that no one is going to take what we have from us.”

“But we already have the world with each other,” she cried, and he put his hand to the side of her face.

“You are my world, yes, but I am not going to let anyone take your world from you,” he said.

“You’re my world!” she cried. “Not the ranch, you!”

“And you’re going to have both,” he promised her.

He kissed her, and she knew her lips were salty with tears. It was the last thing she hoped would stop him, but it didn’t. He knew she was scared, but he was determined, and Cilla was going to be there for him.

She didn’t want him to go, but she was going to stand and support him throughout the entire fight, even if it meant she was going to have to watch him lose.

Victor showed up, a gun on each hip and a smile on his face.

“I’m surprised you didn’t run,” he said when Emmett walked over to meet him.

“I told you if you were going to be here, then I would be, too,” Emmett said. “And good job, it seems you did get the whole town in on this.”

“It’s not every day they get to see someone step in and take what’s theirs,” he replied. “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to aim where you aren’t going to suffer.”

“Don’t do me any favors,” Emmett said.

Victor smiled that same cruel smile and Cilla almost had to walk away. She didn’t want to watch this, but she wasn’t able to tear her eyes form the scene, either.

“Alright, gentlemen,” the sheriff addressed both men. “You’re going to start in the center there. Walk four paces opposite each other, turn, and fire. I’m afraid it’s going to be quite clear who the winner is. Are you sure you want to do this?”

Cilla had to bite her tongue to keep from screaming at them to stop, and Emmett made it clear that he was going to go through with it.

Victor grinned, and Cilla feared he was going to cheat. Both men took position, and the sheriff gave them the cue to start. She held her breath, watching as each took a wide pace forward. She counted each step, and when both men turned and the guns went off, she couldn’t stop the scream that sprang from her lips or prevent her hands from flying to her eyes.

The crowd roared, but it took all the power in her to look at the street.

Victor had fallen back, his hand over his shoulder where he had been shot. Emmett stood proud, completely unharmed.

“Emmett!” she sobbed, breaking through the crowd and running toward her husband. She threw her arms around him, sobbing into his neck as she held him. “Oh, Emmett! You won! You won!” she cried.

“You think this is over?” Victor shouted as he struggled to his feet.

Silence fell over the crowd as people looked toward the man in surprise. Many assumed that he would be glad to be alive and get out of there, but the man was far too arrogant to stop, even if he had nearly lost his life in the duel.

“You should have shot to kill, because I ain’t going to stop until I have what’s mine!”

“Emmett, no!” Cilla cried as Emmett broke away from her and marched over to Victor. She caught up with him just as he pointed his gun at the man’s chest.

“I shot you where I knew you were going to live,” he said. “If I wanted to kill you, I would have. I gave you a second chance at life—and I suggest you take it, because next time, you aren’t going to be so lucky.”

Victor’s expression changed when he realized how serious Emmett was, and he backed down.

“Heal up and get the Hell out of Dodge,” Emmett told him. “And if I ever see you here again, I’ll throw you out myself.”

“Yes, sir,” the man managed before limping off.

A cheer erupted around them, and Emmett took Cilla in his arms once more. He kissed her deeply right in front of everyone, and they cheered again.

Finally, Emmett pulled back, looking down into his wife’s eyes. “I told you I would be okay,” he said. “And I would make sure you have your world to go home to.”

“Take me home,” she said with a smile. “Please.”

“With pleasure,” Emmett said. He lifted his bride into his arms, as though it was their wedding day all over again.

The crowd parted as they pushed their way through, and Cilla threw her arms around Emmett’s neck. Her heart still raced from the excitement, and her smile was filled with relief.

She was proud of her husband. She was proud to be his wife. She was proud of what they had done together, and she looked forward to the future. She couldn’t wait to get back home and just enjoy being together.

Nothing was better than that.

Her life was perfect.


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21 thoughts on “The Brave Pay their Debt – Extended Epilogue”

  1. I liked the plot of your story Derek. Although I thought there was a little too much introspection during the first part of the story, it does lead up to a spectacular ending.

  2. I really did not think I would like this book. I. Didnt get interested until after the stagecoach robbery then I couldn’t. Put it down until it was finished. In the end I like this book.

  3. I really loved this story. I enjoyed that they found the strength to get through the trails that they was set before them. Even before knew and acknowledged the love that they had for each other. Then knowing that there was nothing that could come between their love.

  4. Wow! What a ride!!! You outdid yourself on this story, Derek. Like others, I thought thr beginning of the story was a bit tedious. But by the time they were on the road, things took off. Great story.

  5. Well, Derek, I also thought the beginning was too drawn out and then for a while I began to wonder if the couple was ever going to eat other than the one time. But all in all it turned out well. I don’t know what happened to the poor man who killed Luther but he should have been given an award but also help for his mental state. I did enjoy the book but as I read it from time to time I remembered reading it before. I read so much and some stories are similar so wasn’t teal sure for a while and I had not recalled the ending. Good job!!

  6. The extended epilogue was just as I said before and I’ll say it again, it was the topping on the (cake) story! This book was absolutely wonderful! So don’t miss this one and really enjoy it! BMA 🌬😉📚🤠💙🐝🎶

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