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A Fine Pair of Liars

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It always delighted Maude when he told a good lie as a child. There was no surer way to make his mother smile than to very nearly convince her he was innocent of some mischief or another.

"Butter wouldn't melt in your mouth, Ezra Standish," she would say, laughing gaily, and all would be forgiven.

Nathan Jackson pretends not to think well of lying, but he does it better than anyone else would believe. Sometimes Ezra has to marvel that the good doctor has it in him to be so cold. Cool as ice, never so much as a blink or a wandering glance. Or maybe Nathan has got himself convinced, by day at least, that none of it is really going on.

No late night knocking at his door. No furtive hands in the dark. No hot breath in his ear or broken bed slats or rumpled sheets that still reek of sex when the first unwelcome light of morning intrudes through the curtains.

Ezra smirks, watching Nathan ignore him across the crowded saloon. He can appreciate a consummate liar just as much as his mother can—and while butter may not melt in his mouth, Mr. Jackson always does.