Chapter One

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One year later

Paco Kansas

"What do you mean you sold the saloon?" Samantha demanded while stacking the freshly washed cups on the shelves below the counter.

"I had to, Samantha. The wife wants to move back east to the city and I do whatever I need to in order to keep the wife happy." Samantha looked at Hank and smiled. He was an older man with thinning white hair and a big belly. He had a thick mustache and an easy laugh and he loved his wife more than any man Samantha had ever known.

Hank and his wife Sharron had found Samantha one morning wandering around in a daze. She and her mare had both been close to death after traveling for days with no food.

They had taken her back to their home and Sharron had nursed her back to health. They had never asked her any questions about how she'd come to be there and she hadn't ever told them. She figured the less they knew the safer everyone was.

"What am I going to do, Hank?" she asked. He smiled and laid a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"You'll be okay, Samantha. I talked to the man about you before I sold and he's agreed to let you stay on here. And he knows you're not a working girl. He knows you're good at bar tending, cleaning and inventory."

"He seem like a nice guy?" she asked.

"Seemed to be." Hank replied. "Tonight's my last night. He'll take over tomorrow."

"Well let's have a good night then." Samantha said matter-of-factly.

The night went much too quickly for Samantha. Soon the crowd cleared out, the bar was cleaned and Hank and Sharron were standing beside the stage coach preparing to leave.

"You take care of yourself, Samantha." Sharron said hugging her tightly. "You are welcome to come visit us anytime you like."

"Thank you, Sharron." Samantha pulled away. "And thank you both for taking care of me." Hank smiled warmly and hugged her.

"I'm sure gonna miss you, Samantha." he said.

"We gotta be moving out folks. Time to load up." The stage coach driver stated, jumping up into the drivers seat. Hank and Sharron said one last goodbye and stepped up into the coach. Samantha watched with tear filled eyes as the carriage pulled away.

She walked back to the saloon and up to the new owner Mr. James Jameson.

"Hello, Mr. Jameson. I'm Samantha." she said introducing herself and holding out her hand.

"Hello Samantha.." James replied looking her up and down as if he were appraising cattle. She shifted her feet uncomfortably.

"So old Hank only used you behind the counter, huh?" he asked with a shake of his head. Samantha nodded and backed away from him.

"I'm going upstairs to my room to rest and I'll be down this evening." she mumbled quickly. James nodded and put his attention back on the paperwork in his hand.

Samantha didn't get much rest. She tossed and turned and wondered what Mr. Jameson would have in store for her that night.

She walked down the stairs that evening to find the saloon was already filling up. It was going to be a busy Friday night. James grabbed her arm before she made it down the last step.

"Get back upstairs and put on something more appropriate for the floor." he said eyeing her conservative blue dress.

"No. You told Hank…"

"Don't back talk me." he said shoving her against the stair rail. "I told Hank that because I assumed you were ugly. Now that I see you, I see that you can make me a lot of money."

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