Read part one and part two.
Prompt: Relationships unravel or strengthen, a long-kept secret is revealed
“Did I? I don’t seem to recall.”
“So you be a liar and a thief.”
“How dare you accuse me…”
“You don’t have problems accusing everyone else.”
“Let go of me, you… you…”
The verbal volley made Jean’s head spin. He was just glad no guns were making their appearance just yet, though he could see the man’s trigger finger twitching involuntarily.
“Hold on a minute here,” he interjected, stepping in between them. “What are you doing here, Jane? Were you following me?”
“Oh Jean, I saw someone drive off with the coach and I couldn’t find you, so I came after him.”
“Then why did you say it was yours?” the man growled. “Who are you? And I don’t like being lied to, woman.”
“She’s my fiancee,” Jean said quickly, shooting a look at her.
“And who might you be?”
“I’m Jean Johnson. I’m here to visit with my cousin Randall.”
“That the truth now,” he replied, rubbing at his stubble. Jean wasn’t sure if it was a question or a statement, so he just nodded.
“Well, then. This is a pickle.”
“I always thought Cousin Jean was a girl.”
Jean laughed. “My mother was French.”
“And that makes it alright?”
“No, that makes it normal - in some faraway places, like the Roundeli Mountains.” Jean had a sneaky suspicion that this would turn out to be his cousin. The man looked less tense now, starting to smile genially at Jane. “And you are…”
“Ah. Glad to have finally met you, Cousin.”
The two men shook hands.
“Done with your letter writing, Bill? You’ll have to take the coach round to Cousin Randall’s place,” Jean addressed his coachman.
“All done, sir.” Bill purchased a couple of stamps and left the letter with the postmaster.
Noticing Jane’s pinched face, Jean hung back as Randall and Bill headed toward the door.
“Cousin Randall, you two go on ahead. I just need to have a talk with Jane for a little while.”
Not waiting for a reply, Jean turned on his fiancee. “What’s wrong now?” he hissed.
“I thought you didn’t want to announce our engagement just yet!” she said frantically. “Did you forget?”
“Forget? No - he looked like the family-man type and I didn’t know who he was. And it’s the truth anyway. You are going to be my wife, aren’t you?”
She smiled coyly angling her face up for a kiss. He kissed her on the nose.
“What if your mother finds out?” she whispered.
He put his arms around her waist. “We’ll steal the letter before it reaches her. Don’t worry, Jane. We’ll sort it out somehow. Practically though, what do we do now?”
“I’ve got to get back to Assart before Bob throws a fit.”
Jean looked out the window. “You had better leave soon if you want to make it before sundown.”
“Yes. But I’ll miss you.”
“You can ride up any day you want, missy.”
She giggled. Hand in hand, they headed out the door.
Randall was leaning against the coach inspecting his gun, the brim of his hat pulled low over his eyes.
“I do have a question, Cousin Jean.”
“What’s that, Cousin Randall?”
“If this here woman’s your fiancee,” he tilted the barrel carelessly at Jane. “How come this here coachman of yours doesn’t know that you’re engaged? And why would she not know your own coachman?”
Jean held her close, protectively.
Tune in next Wednesday/Thursday for the grand finale! :)
Edit: Read part four here.