No Rescue for the Traitor – Extended Epilogue

3 Years Later

“So? What do you think?” Benedict asked, sitting back in his chair in Sheriff Forrester’s office. The older man was staring down at the paperwork Benedict had handed him, clear intent in his features.

“You’re thorough, I’ll give you that,” the sheriff said as he shifted through the pages.

Benedict had worked tirelessly on these plans. Over the last few years, the Pablo Javier gang had not disappeared. After Jacox, Garret, and the others were arrested, there were still enough of the gang about to start again. They had recruited more members and they had settled on West Oak as their key target ground for activities, as though in vengeance for Benedict and Hallie being the ones who put their friends behind bars.

It had taken a while for Benedict to realize the problem of the gang wasn’t going to go away. He’d been too busy devoting his life to Hallie, instead. These days, they worked together in the butcher’s shop, and with their son, Alvo, in their lives, they were always busy. So, for the first couple of years, Benedict had only thought of Hallie and Alvo. However, when it had become clear that Pablo Javier’s gang activities could harm not only his family but others in the town, it became time to take some action.

“I hear you’ve been talking to Sheriff Greenway about your plans for the town,” Sheriff Forrester said, looking up from the paperwork and shifting in his seat.

“I have.” Benedict nodded, not afraid to hide this. “He’s a good friend and has good ideas himself.”

“He’s a good man.” Sheriff Forrester revealed a smile before looking down at the paperwork again. “Well, it all looks good to me. That’s if we can get enough people to agree to the changes.” He gathered the papers together and passed them back to Benedict.

“That’s the hope,” Benedict agreed, looking around the office that was busy with marshals going about their work. This was one of the first things that was going to change, according to his plans. Marshals would do more patrolling of the streets, and less waiting around in the sheriff’s office.

“Well, they’ll be here soon.” Sheriff Forrester stood to his feet. “We’ll see what they say.”

Benedict stood to his feet, too, and moved to the window to look outside. Mayor Tindall had put his name forward to be mayor so many times now, it seemed half the town was seconding the call. Benedict no longer saw the idea as a thing of the future, but a thing that was very possible now.

That’s why he was here to see the sheriff with his plans. Other local gentlemen were coming by to view his ideas, starting with a way to drive the Pablo Javier gang out of town forever and stop them from coming back.

Benedict smiled, confident now in his purpose. He was going to make West Oak a safer place, not only for his family, but for everyone else, too.

“Benedict!” a familiar voice called. He looked to the door to see Mayor Tindall hurrying in, his arms wide open. “I’m so excited about today.”

“Thank you, Mayor.” Benedict smiled, eagerly passing the papers over into his hands. “I hope you’ll like the thoughts I have.”

“I don’t doubt I will.” He smiled back, clapping Benedict on the shoulder with his free hand. “The others will be here soon. Before that, I wish to talk about the election.”

“Oh?” Benedict asked, perching in a chair by the window.

“Yes, we must discuss tactics, my boy.”

“I hadn’t thought much of tactics to be honest, just the policies and practicalities,” Benedict admitted. He had rather hoped that his plans would speak for themselves, without the need to get involved in strategies for the election. He’d talked at length about it with Hallie, who had agreed with him that it was best to let his ideas do the talking.

He wished she were there with him now, so that he could hear her thoughts again and find comfort in her presence as his nerves grew. He settled himself with thinking of that morning when he had left her side. She had been so excited about the day, barely able to stand still.

“Then let me see to the strategies,” Mayor Tindall offered. “By focusing on talking about your ideas, we can put together a good campaign. All we need are a few opportunities for you to speak to the crowds about what your plans are. Leave that to me. You’ll have a winning campaign before you know it.”

“Thank you, Mayor,” Benedict said, somewhat relieved.

“Hopefully, I’ll be the one addressing you with that term soon.” Mayor Tindall chuckled and took the chair beside him.

Benedict was surprised by the smile that overtook his features. The more he thought about the future, the more excited he became about the possibility of being mayor and making true changes in the town. In his darkest moments, his mind kept slipping back to Curley and what had happened three years ago, when he was first approached about running for the position. He sometimes wondered what Curley would think about his life now, married to the man’s sister and going for a position he coveted himself.

When he’d confessed such thoughts to Hallie, she had looked at the whole idea with a refreshing thought.

“Perhaps Curley’s jealousy should remind us of what we should treasure in this world.” She had said these words as they got ready for bed one night after putting their son to sleep. Her words had struck a chord in him and made him even more determined to run for the position of mayor. He should treasure this opportunity and go for it. These opportunities wouldn’t always be there, and he should embrace the chance.

“You look deep in thought, my friend,” Mayor Tindall said, gesturing to his face.

“Forgive me, I was just thinking about my wife,” Benedict answered honestly.

“How is the lovely Mrs. Aritza?” Mayor Tindall asked with a smile on his face. “I hear she runs the butcher’s shop very successfully, indeed.”

“That she does. I’d be lost without her,” Benedict admitted with a nod.

Though Hallie, of course, couldn’t do all the manual work behind the shop, she had proved herself to be one amazing saleswoman up front. The last few years would not have been so successful without her.

“Here they come.” Sheriff Forrester walked their way and pointed to one of the carriages that was pulling up outside of the office. Benedict stood and made an attempt at straightening his clothes. He was desperate to make a good impression on these gentlemen.

Before they could move to the door and let in the new arrivals, there was a gunshot outside.

Benedict and Sheriff Forrester moved straight back to the window, peering beyond. One gunshot turned into a whole stream of shots, and those who had been attempting to climb out of the carriage suddenly jumped back in.

“What’s happening?” Mayor Tindall asked in panic, stepping back from the window.

“The shop.” Sheriff Forrester pointed down the street, and Benedict’s gaze followed. There were four men, each with a pistol in hand, shooting into a grocer’s shop, evidently trying to steal money from the cashier. Each man wore the familiar midnight blue and red striped bandana of the Pablo Javier gang.

“They’re back,” Benedict muttered with barely restrained anger. He stood straight and reached for the pistol in his holster, heading straight for the door. “Bring your marshals, Sheriff.”

“You’ve got it.” The sheriff nodded and started directing orders at the marshals.

Benedict didn’t wait for them. He’d seen the Pablo Javier gang cause enough problems over the years; he wasn’t going to wait for anyone. As he burst through the door, he ran down the front steps of the veranda before sprinting along the street in the direction of the robbery.

A carriage had been abandoned in the street; the people had run from it in the effort to save themselves, leaving it at an odd angle. Benedict used it as a perfect opportunity. He shielded himself behind the carriage and peered round the corner, watching the scene unfold.

Amongst the group were faces he had grown familiar with. He’d learned that one in the gang was Jacox’s brother who had taken over leading the group—and now, he could see someone similar to Jacox in his features and presumed this had to be the brother.

Benedict looked back, just once, seeing the sheriff and the marshals coming, but at a slower pace and still some distance away. One glance back around the corner of the carriage showed the tragedy that was unfolding.

So far, the group had broken the two front windows of the grocer’s shop, not only smashing the glass into smithereens, but also sending the shards all over the produce. The grocer and the grocer’s assistant Benedict could just make out at the back of the shop, trying to hide. Just as he saw one of them dive to the ground, one in the gang took a shot at them. They must have struck, as an almighty cry of pain came up from inside the shop.

Benedict cursed and stepped out from the carriage. This was exactly what he was going to stop when he was mayor.

He lifted the pistol in his hand and found the man who had shot. It was the one who looked so like Jacox.

After their exploits with the Pablo Javier gang before, he had asked Hallie to teach him how to shoot like her. Much to his amusement, their lessons had progressed for months, as the two of them had frequently got distracted when they were alone together. Their final lesson, where Hallie had taught him how to shoot an apple from fifty paces at least, she had been heavily pregnant. Glowing with it, she had been beautiful to watch as she demonstrated. When Benedict had shot the apple, proving himself a good student after all, Hallie had jumped for joy. Then, her face fell slack as her water had broken. It had been an eventful day indeed with him carrying her back through their house to their room, in preparation for the birth.

Now, he had to remember everything Hallie had taught him. He blocked out the sounds around him and concentrated only on his aim: pointing directly at the assailant’s hand. He fired. The shot connected with the man’s hand, and he dropped his weapon, crying out as it struck the ground.

The other members of the gang turned round, looking for who had fired. When their gaze found him, they opened fire, too.

Benedict dived back behind the carriage, using it as a shield to cover his body. The thuds of the bullets striking the carriage were matched just as Sheriff Forrester appeared at his side, sliding to a halt by landing against the carriage, too.

“How many?” Sheriff Forrester asked.

“Four,” Benedict answered. “One’s injured in the hand. One of the grocers inside is hurt, too, I think.”

“By jing.” The sheriff shook his head. “Time to try out one of your new tactics, I think.” He smiled and Benedict nodded. It was as good a time as any.

As the sheriff issued instructions to the marshals, Benedict stepped forward, leaning around the carriage again. As one, the group moved. Benedict and Sheriff Forrester walked out from the carriage, shooting as much as possible to cause confusion, while one of the marshals made a dive into the shop, to help the grocer. The other two marshals gave Benedict and the sheriff cover.

Benedict had his gaze firmly set on the leader as he picked up his gun again with his uninjured hand. Recalling all of Hallie’s instructions, he fired, this time striking the man’s other hand and forcing him to drop the weapon all over again. The man was amazed as he dropped the weapon, with both hands bleeding. He’d live through the wounds, but he’d find it difficult to run.

“Arrest him,” Benedict ordered to the marshal behind him. As he ran forward, the others dispersed.

One more of the gang was caught, but the other two got away. Benedict cursed as he watched them run, with one marshal in pursuit.

Today was not going to be the end of the Pablo Javier gang, sadly, yet as his eyes turned on the leader with bleeding hands, he couldn’t help but smile. They were a little closer to ending this gang for good. All he needed was a chance to put his plans into action.

“It worked,” Sheriff Forrester declared as he clapped Benedict on the shoulder. “Come back to the office. We’ll get these two processed. It’s about time you pitched your ideas to the dignitaries, too.”

Benedict eagerly followed. As he reached the veranda of the sheriff’s office, he was startled to find Mayor Tindall already there, talking at length to four gentlemen who had come to meet him.

“And here he is, gentlemen,” Mayor Tindall said rather dramatically, gesturing his way. “The man himself, and as you can see, a hands-on protector.” He laughed, prompting the others to chuckle too. “Come in, Benedict. Everybody is dying to hear what you’ve got to say.”

Feeling buoyed by what had happened, he hurried inside. Today had really shown it was possible to change West Oak for the better.

***

Hallie looked out of the window yet again as she paced up and down, waiting for Benedict to return. She’d closed the butcher’s shop up an hour ago at least and had been waiting on his return ever since. Just before she’d locked the door, she’d heard from one of the customers about the Pablo Javiers’ attempted robbery of the grocer’s and how Benedict had been part of the group that foiled them. Hearing the story made her even more impatient for his return, desperate to know that he was well.

She walked back the other way across the front room, trying to distract herself, but it was no use. It was a day that the two of them had been building up to for a while. She had seen again and again in how passionately Benedict spoke what the safety of this town meant to him. She was praying with every fiber of her being that the meeting went well, and they agreed to put forward his name to be mayor.

Judging by how well Benedict had cared for her over the last few years, she didn’t doubt he would be amazing caring for others, too.

She walked back the other way, peering out of the window another time just as she caught a glimpse of a figure walking up the pathway. It was him! She hurried out of the front room and to the door, flinging it open.

The moment his eyes lifted to hers, she felt that same jolt of happiness she had felt inside her ever since she had married Benedict. Looking at him now as he ran toward her, his dark eyes alight, she struggled to remember why she had kept her feelings for him a secret for so long. If she had only known what love he was capable of, they could have been together for even longer.

“Well, I’m pleased to see you’re in one piece.” She threw her arms around him, just as he did her. He picked her up off her feet and carried her further back into the house.

“One piece?” he queried.

“My last customers of the day were going on and on about the heroic actions of our future mayor, taking down the leader of the Pablo Javier gang. I think they were quite besotted with you,” she teased him just as he put her back on her feet and laughed heartily.

“That’s good if I want them to vote me in.”

“Speaking of which, how did it go?” she said excitedly, drawing him through into the kitchen where she had dinner waiting for them. “Did they like your ideas?”

“Boy, did they,” he said, shaking his head and sighing. “They wouldn’t stop gushing about them. The ideas may have been helped by the fact they had just witnessed the Pablo Javier gang attempting to rob a store.”

“So, it was them?” Hallie asked, letting go of his hand as she went to the stove to stir her cooking pot. She looked away from Benedict in an attempt to hide her nerves. She couldn’t help being scared of them every time she heard their names, not after what they had gone through, but she always tried to hide it.

“It was. They were wearing their bandanas,” he agreed and came up to stand behind her. As he laid a kiss to the crook of her neck, her fear vanished and she sank into his touch, instead. “I’ll never let any harm come to you, Hallie. There’s no need to be afraid.”

“I know.” She smiled and turned her head, stealing a quick kiss from him. “Seems like you’re not going to let any harm come to the town at all soon.”

“That’s the hope,” he agreed. “I want this place to not only be a happy one, but peaceful, too,” he explained. “So, families like ours never need be afraid.”

“Peace, I rather like that idea,” she acknowledged, just as he turned her away from the stove and wrapped his arms around her.

For a minute, they stayed in each other’s arms, embracing and enjoying the silence together. It stretched out for a while, with Hallie resting her head on his shoulder, and him planting a kiss to her forehead.

Then, a cry went up. They both snapped their heads up as Alvo’s tears came from the other room. Hallie couldn’t help laughing—it was his usual cry demanding that he was hungry.

“Then again, with Alvo around, I doubt we’ll ever get much peace,” she giggled.

“True, I’ll get him.” Benedict hurried off, collecting their son and returning to the kitchen a minute later. As the boy quietened in his father’s arms, bearing the same black hair and cocoa eyes, Hallie couldn’t stop smiling as she prepared their dinner.

Her mind briefly flicked to Curley, before it returned to her husband and son. She may have lost her old family, but with her new family, she no longer felt like she was missing anything from her life. It was complete.

THE END


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29 thoughts on “No Rescue for the Traitor – Extended Epilogue”

    1. A very exciting story Derek and a sobering thought that jealousy could cause so much trouble and heartache.

    2. I loved how the whole book came together and love how it ended A very good book to read and look forward to the next one.

    3. Another awesome western Derek!!!!! There is not one of your books that has ever not been so exciting to read. To be able to picture them in my mind as I read them, is just awesome. An emotional roller coaster is the only way. Loved every minute of it. Looking forward to your next book. Thank you

  1. Benedict is a hero, raised by a good father. Strong jealousy is an evil that should be taught against early in children. Enjoyed the book. Thank you.

  2. A well written,fast paced, interesting storyline. Derek thank you for sharing this story. Benedict and Halley had quite the adventure where good prevailed over evil. Thank you for such
    strong characters.

  3. I enjoyed the book. Any good man Hunter should also have
    at least a Winchester 76 and a double barrel 12 gauge coach gun. Real lawman never try to shoot a villain in the hand. They go for a kill shot. I’m reality they live longer..

  4. I enjoy the descriptions of the places they ride seeing as I’m from northern Canada and I’m sorry for what jealousy can do to people like the commandment says do not covet your neighbours. Thank you I look forward to your next book.

  5. Enjoyed this story a lot. Your books are making me read the true Western stories again. Thank you

  6. A great story of jealousy and how Benedict and Hallie managed. Nice to have a heroine as part of the story

  7. Hallie and Benedict’s love for Curley seemed so strong that they could not fathom the obvious. Jealousy is an evil monster and can seriously twist the imagination. This was a great read.

  8. Excitement from start to finish didn’t want to stop reading till the very end, keep up the good work.

  9. A great western that kept me reading. Plus the amazing fighting scenes that took place kept me on edge waiting for the next escape. A amazing author that I will be reading more of their works.

  10. This book was absolutely fantastic and I loved it! So many times I could not put it down, so I didn’t. Definitely a must read for excitement galore, lots of drama throughout the story, mysteries solved, lots of action packed scenes and moments of sadness and joy, lots of things with the exception of characters who will keep you turning those pages! The extended epilogue was so exciting and amazing moments of love and joy it was a wonderful experience and a great ending to this Author’s wonderful story. Can’t wait for His next one, so keep them coming! 🌬📚🎭🐝🎶

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