Ezra smiled as he looked down from the bluff, saluting the others. He still didn't know what had possessed him to turn back and save the others when he could have carried on riding towards his next destination and a new mark. He was a conman, a gambler, spinning lies in to a spider's web of deceit. These men were nothing to him and he'd never before had the urge to stop and look back at the shadows racing up behind him. He'd always had his focus on the horizon ahead, his eyes raised to the sky, looking for that moment when he would fly so high and have all he dreamed; riches beyond his wildest imaginings.
Except Ezra had a very vivid imagination.
The children had told him about the gold mine but it was a bust - played out decades before - and the tiny amount left would be expensive to mine and wouldn't cover the cost of the bullets he'd use protecting these people and defending the mine. Yet after only a moment's hesitation he had turned back upon hearing the gunshots and cannon fire, possibly towards his own death.
Later, once the bullets had stopped flying and the enemy was beaten, Ezra had looked at the ragtag group of men.
Each of them was so different from the others he could see no reason why they would want to stick together, but he imagined he could feel some cosmic force connecting them, like seven parts making up a whole. At least that was the lie he told himself as they rode back towards the small frontier town where they'd all come together. Later still, after he retired to a plain but comfortable room above the saloon, he lay down on his bed and let the lies drop away.
His thoughts turned to the mysterious, dark-clad Chris Larabee, recalling the way the light glinted off sun-kissed hair. He focused on the green eyes, running hot and cold, giving glimpses of a tragic past and intriguing future. Larabee wasn't a gambler at the tables but he played the odds daily, fingers as agile with a gun as Ezra's were with a pack of cards. Ezra had seen that spark of interest in his eyes though, one Ezra had read on other men's faces in the past, as if their kind could read each other and see beneath the masculine layers to a kind of want that most considered an abomination.
Ezra smiled up at the yellowing, cracked ceiling, letting the truth have its say. Chris Larabee intrigued him. Perhaps, at any other time or place, Ezra would have ridden away as fast as his horse could carry him as nothing but trouble had ever come from such desires, but here and now he knew he wanted to take a gamble.
The world was full of lies, and he loved weaving the webs almost as much as he enjoyed picking apart the lies to reveal the gold nuggets of truth, and Chris Larabee was a perfect challenge for both.