Sheriff Decker’s hand was on his pistol. It was one of his favorite tactics, to lightly rest his palm on the handle as if to coyly say “Maybe I’ll draw steel on you, maybe I won’t. We’ll see. But either way, it’ll be because I want to.”

The Margrave stood stock-still in the face of that implied challenge. The few Richemont Dairy night-shift workers that hadn’t run away stuck to the periphery, flattening them behind idled machinery.

“You deaf?” Decker snapped. “Get out here with your hands where I can see them.”

“Or else?” The words had a playful, mocking tone. “Mayhap the lady likes her hands where they are.”

Decker lingered there a moment, hand still on the oiled leather of his gun belt, now stinging a bit from sweat. He could feel the workers’ eyes boring into him, their quiet laughter–it was always quiet but always there–about the soft boy born with a silver stick up his ass. He didn’t know how to use the gun, other than what he’d seen in the movies, but that didn’t matter now. He had to show them, those snickering sons-of-bitches, that Theodore Decker Jr. wasn’t soft.

The revolver popped easily free of its holster, and Decker brought it to bear on the Margrave, supporting his shooting hand with the other in a weak cup-and-saucer grip. “Put young hands in the air, or these boys will see some fancy shooting,” said Decker.

“Show them, then,” the Margrave said. “It would be a shame for them to miss such fanciness.”

Decker pulled the trigger, the heavy double-action jerking his aim upwards. The shot, when it came, was so loud that the sheriffs eyes widened in surprise, and he nearly let the thing spin out of his hand. Everyone dropped like a stone, fearful of ricochets. Without a moment’s hesitation, the Margrave darted forward. By the time Decker had overcome his shock, she was chest-to-chest with him. The gun was easily batted aside.

“The sheriff has had his shot,” she said. “Now let’s see what he has for an encore.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!