Julia didn't know for how long she and Arthur stayed tangled in each other's arms. She didn't care to know and surely, she didn't want to let him go.
She still couldn't believe that Sean was dead, she couldn't bear the idea that at that moment at the camp, someone was burying him.
Was Dutch doing one of his great speeches as always? Was he even wondering where they were?
It didn't matter at that moment.
"We should go back to camp" Julia said in a whisper, almost hoping that the man wouldn't hear her.
Arthur sighed deeply and untangled himself from her, looking on the ground.
"Do you want to?" asked the man looking at her.
Julia sighed and shook her head, lowering her eyes on the ground.
"Me neither" answered Arthur looking around.
"Dutch might be looking for us" assumed Julia, even if she didn't believe her own words.
"Yeah, well...he'll understand" said Arthur getting up and reaching his horse.
"Let's find a place where to camp for the night" he said once he got in his horse and looked at Julia.
"Alright" she said lowly before she got on Wind Catcher.
She followed Arthur, not even paying attention to where they were going. Surely not to camp because they followed a path that led them to the opposite way.
"Let's get through here" said Arthur after a while as he turned left and walked into the woods, finding a dry spot where they could establish a camp.
Julia got down her horse and began to set up her tent while Arthur went looking for some wood. Then, she offered to go hunt something while was Arthur's turn to set up his tent.
After maybe an hour, Julia came back with a hare big enough for the two of them to eat it.
It was the twilight when Julia decided it was time to cook it and while she took care of it, Arthur sat to the opposite side of the fire and started to peel off his coat and shirt to check on his wound that after the shooting of that morning, it was hurting like hell.
Fortunately, the wound didn't open again, and it was just sore.
Julia watched the man as he put on his clothes again, but when Arthur moved his eyes on her, she diverted them on the hare.
"You okay?" asked the man and Julia nodded.
"It's almost ready" she said, turning the meat on the fire.
"Not really hungry" sighed the man, taking off his hat and passing a hand through his hair.
"You need to eat" Julia shot at him, giving him a warning look.
Arthur faintly smiled at her annoyed reaction and nodded.
When the hare was ready, Julia carefully divided it into two pieces and passed one to Arthur who took it and started to eat listlessly under Julia's scrupulous look.
When both of them finished, they stayed in silence, looking at the fire and stars above them.
Julia's mind was so full of thoughts, about what had happened and what have could happen. More than once her mind spouted her the image of Arthur dead with a bullet in his head and every time, she felt her heart sink into the depths of her stomach as a cold shiver went through her body.
What if he was Arthur? What she would have done?
She took a shaky breath and closed her eyes trying to chase away those thoughts and when she opened her eyes again and looked over at Arthur, she noticed he was looking at her in turn.
Was he thinking the same thing about her?
Her heart throbbed at the idea, but why would he?
"Stop thinking about it. It's' done, there nothing we could do anymore" said Arthur in a low voice while looking at the fire.
"You're right. It's just...this is the first time I saw someone I loved die" answered Julia shrugging.
"You loved Sean?" asked Arthur frowning at Julia.
"Yeah, I mean...I was starting to like him, you know. God, was he annoying, especially when he was younger" she said with half a chuckle.
"Yeah, he was an idiot" smiled Arthur shaking his head.
"I hated him so much more than once I wished he would die...but, now that he's dead...I just feel like an idiot too" admitted Julia staring at the fire.
"I didn't want to save him back at Horseshoe. He would have without a second thought and I...I thought about cutting him loose" said Arthur after a couple of minutes.
Julia looked over at him, noticing his disgusted expression on his face.
"What a pair of shits are we, uh?" she joked to relieve the tension in the air.
"You tell me" chuckled Arthur.
Julia smiled at him and he did the same before he got up and sighed.
"I'm gonna go to bed" he said looking at her.
"Yeah, me too. Wanna this fucking day to end" replied Julia getting up in turn and walking to her tent.
When she got in front of it, she turned and looked at Arthur who was staring at her.
"Good night then" she smiled at him.
"Good night, Miss" he answered smiling in turn.
Julia spent the next two hours on her covers, turning over and over trying to find a comfortable position to sleep, but her mind wouldn't let her, so she ended up seated in her tent exasperated.
She could hear Arthur's snores next to her and that nourished her exasperation so much that she needed to get out of her tent.
Julia looked over at Arthur, who was sleeping with his arms crossed on his chest, his lips slightly parted, and his face relaxed.
A weak idea came up to her mind and for a moment she scolded herself but decided to do it anyway.
She crawled near Arthur, whose eyes opened and looked over at her while she lied down next to him facing him.
"Sorry that I woke you" she whispered.
"You alright?" mumbled Arthur still half asleep.
"I can't sleep" Julia replied.
"Come here" said Arthur, putting a hand over her waist and pulling her closer to him.
Julia sighed against his chest while Arthur closed his eyes again, falling asleep.
She looked at him, smiling contently as she felt his hand on the waist tightening a little.
Her eyes moved on his lips, so close to her forehead and without thinking twice she lifted her head up and lightly kissed him.
Arthur flinched in his sleep making Julia smile as she pulled back.
He would never know, but it was okay. She nuzzled even more into his chest closing her eyes and lulled by the beating of the man's heart, she fell asleep.
Arthur was the first one of the two to wake up and when he did, he frowned at the presence of another body next to his. And when he realized it was Julia, he couldn't avoid her cheeks to grow red and his heart to beat a little faster.
The happenings of the night before came up to his mind and he cursed himself for that spontaneous gesture of grasping her waist and pulling her closer to him.
He was half asleep, for Lord's sake! He would never do such a thing, or at least not when he's got some sense.
He sighed deeply rubbing his face and that low sound made Julia squirm in her sleep, catching Arthur's attention.
He stilled afraid to wake her up and instead stared at her, feeling his awkwardness fade away the longer he looked at her.
Slowly, he moved his hand over her face and put behind his ear a chunk of hair that had fallen over her face during the night.
She seemed so relaxed and harmless when asleep, totally different from when she was wade awake and the contradiction made Arthur chuckled lightly.
He gently stroked her cheek and this time Julia's eyes flashed open, looking up at Arthur who smiled at her.
"'Morning ma'am" he said in a low, husky voice.
Julia smiled up at him.
"Morning to you" she whispered with a drowsy voice.
"Time to go back to camp" Arthur said sighing.
"We have to, don't we?" asked Julia sighing in turn.
"I'm afraid" replied Arthur looking over at the dead fire.
"Or...we could just stay here for a while" suggested Julia with a grin.
"I'd like that, but Dutch..." started Arthur, but Julia stopped him right away.
"Yeah...yeah, I know" she said seating up and passing a hand through her hair she huffed.
They slowly collected all their thing before they got on their horses and headed to camp silently.
Glancing at Arthur, Julia asked herself if he remembered about her little peck of the last night, but he didn't seem to have, and she couldn't understand if she was more pleased or disappointed by it.
However, the way to their camp was brief to think about it more than she already had, so she dropped the thought on the back of her mind and focused on Dutch, who was looking at them as they left the horses near the others.
"Hey, Dutch" greeted Arthur while they walked towards him.
"Where have you been?" asked the man hastily.
"We...needed some time. Did you bury him?" asked Arthur, glancing at Julia for a moment.
"Yes, Bill took care of it" Dutch sighed.
"How about the others? They all fine?" asked Julia, crossing her arms over her chest.
"The most part, yeah. Arthur, come with me. I need to talk to you" called Dutch, glancing at Julia for a moment before he put an arm across Arthur's shoulders and pulled him away.
"See you later" Julia said, making Arthur turn to her and smile.
She returned the smile and then headed to Pearson's wagon where she took a box of cookies that she ate while wandering around camp.
Turning her head to her left, she saw Miss Grimshaw scream something at Tilly, who was looking at the woman with a dreadful face.
Julia quickly headed to the woods, trying to escape the wrath of the old woman by disappearing between the dense vegetation.
She had just walked a few yards when she noticed a cross in the ground, and she realized right away she had reached Sean's grave.
Julia sighed and walked towards it, looking at the name carved on it before she kneeled let her fingers brush over the rough wood.
"Man, you were annoying, but this...I'm so sorry" she whispered to herself, smiling at the thought of what Sean would have replied with that ugly face of his.
Julia took a cookie from the box she had in her hands and balanced it on the wooden cross.
"I don't have flowers. Hope this will be good enough" she whispered again before she got up and turned, walking away.
She had almost reached the lake when she heard some noises around her and stopping where she was, she strained her ears to listen.
The sound of the leaves and wood being smushed reached her ears once more and turning to her right, she noticed a little figure behind a tree.
Julia huffed and kneeled, looking at the little boy who tried his best not to be seen.
"Jack, come out of there" she called.
The young body peered from the tree and then slowly reached Julia, keeping his eyes on the ground.
"What are you doing so far from camp?" she asked.
"I was playing near the lake" answered the little boy while shifting in his place.
"I see" said Julia smiling at him.
"Where's Sean?" asked Jack looking up at her.
Julia's eyes widened at his question and she stuttered a little before she answered him.
"He...he had to go away" she said shrugging and looking at the ground.
"He is alright?" asked again the child.
"Where he's now, yeah sure" replied Julia looking at him.
Jack gave her a suspicious look.
"He is dead?" he asked, making Julia sighed.
"Yes, I'm afraid" she answered giving the boy a fake, half-smile.
"Where is your mom?" she asked soon after trying to change the subject.
"She had to work. She never plays with me" complained Jack looking away.
"I'm sure she'd like to, but she can't" said Julia putting a hand over his head.
"You want to play with me?" asked the boy hopefully.
"Sure" smiled Julia and once she got on her feet, she followed Jack to the lake.
She sat down on the shore and looked at Jack as he collected rocks and strange wrecks from the lowest part of the lake so that only his small feet would get wet.
Julia commented on everything he would bring to her, sometimes praising him for founding something peculiar.
Thanks to the little boy, the thought of Sean had left her mind and she couldn't avoid sighing in relief, feeling relaxed and in peace.
That until she felt two rough hands grabbing her from behind and pulled her.
"Don't make a sound, sweetie" said a man covering her mouth with a hand.
Julia wriggled, trying to get away from his strong grip while she saw another man walk towards Jack who was standing there with his little dark eyes widened.
She bit down on the man's hand, who retracted his hand, giving Julia the time to scream at Jack.
"Run! Run, Jack!" she screamed, but her shouts were vain.
The man had grabbed Jack and was taking him to his horse.
"I got the boy! Let's head back to moma!" said the man.
Julia turned, partially freeing herself by the man's grip on her shoulders, and hit his cheekbone with her elbow, making the man stumble back.
She quickly got up and hit the man on the guts, but before she could hit him again, she felt something grab her arm and turning around she faced the other man who had a big rock in his hand.
Julia tried to duck his strike, but the man kept her in her place and others helped him doing so.
The rock hit her forehead, making her fell on the ground. She could feel the blood pouring out of the fresh new wound, but any energy she had left, she used it to try and get up.
"Let him go" she said lowly.
The two men laughed and then one of them kicked her in the guts, making her fall again on the shore.
Julia moaned in pain, squinting her eyes before she looked over at the two men.
"C'mon. Let's go" said one of the men walking away.
"We left her here?" asked the other pointing at Julia.
"We have to take the boy. That's the order" said the man urgently.
"Uh, alright. But if I see this bitch again, I'm gonna kill her" he said and turned to Julia, he took the big rock that was still near them and hit her again making her pass out.
Julia felt her head throbbing, and her stomach was burning, but that didn't stop her from opening her eyes and look around.
Her eyes fell on the footprints on the sand and she suddenly remembered the last events she had lived.
She groaned as she collected all her energies to push herself up and once she got on her feet, she stumbled towards the camp keeping a hand over her stomach.
The first person she met was Hosea, who turned to look at her the moment he heard her steps behind him.
"What happened?" asked the old man practically running towards her.
"They took Jack, two men...I don't know who they were...I tried to stop 'em but sons of bitches knocked me out" explained Julia, hissing in pain when Hosea touched her shoulder.
Apparently, she had a bruise there too.
"Let's go talk to Dutch" said the old man, pulling her gently.
"Where's Abigail?" asked Julia looking around the camp for the dark-haired woman who was nowhere to be seen.
"She was looking for Jack. Guess she's gonna find out soon" explained Hosea with a dark tone.
When they reached Dutch's tent, they found the man discussing with Molly, who was almost on the verge of crying.
Julia stopped a few feet away looking at Hosea who shook his head and pulled her closer to the two, who stopped almost immediately to argue.
"Dutch, sorry miss O'Shea...we got a problem" said Hosea overtaking Molly who huffed and turned her back at the old man offended.
"What is it?" asked the man, his tone still harsh from the argument with the redhead woman.
"Julia saw two men take Jack near the lake" explained Hosea pointing at Julia behind them.
"Who were they?" asked Dutch moving towards her, noticing her wounded forehead and her hand over her painful stomach.
"We don't know, maybe the Grays" assumed Hosea.
"No Gray's left alive" whimpered Julia feeling another throe of pain on her head.
At that moment, John reached them looking rather nervous and panicked.
"Hey, have you seen Jack? Abigail's gonna lose her mind trying to find him" he said trying to cover his obvious worry.
"Someone took him" answered Hosea putting a hand over the man's shoulder.
"What?" asked John in disbelief.
"I tried to stop them, I'm sorry John" Julia said lowering her eyes ashamed.
Turning her head to Dutch, she saw him walk towards Arthur who was coming to them.
"Arthur, have you seen that boy, Jack?" asked Dutch urgently.
"No" answered the man frowning.
"Where's my goddamn son? Where is he? Where's my son? They took him, didn't they? They took my son" yelled Abigail as she closed the distance between her and Dutch.
"Who took him?" asked Arthur.
"One of them said let's back to moma, must be the Braithwaites" said Julia, trying to revisit the happenings of a few hours back.
"What happened to you?" asked Arthur noticed the blood in her head.
The man stretched a hand over her head and brushed away the hair, to look better at the small cut on her flesh.
"She tried to stop them" explained Hosea briefly while Julia's eyes fixed on Arthur.
"Where's my son? If anything...where is my son, Dutch Van der Linde?" asked again Abigail trying to push the tears back.
"We will find him; we will bring him back to you and we will kill any fool that had the temerity to touch one hair on that boy's head. Abigail, you have my word" promised Dutch with his usual theatrical vigor.
"Just get me back my son" replied Abigail.
"I will get that boy back, so help me God right now" said Dutch as he walked to the horses followed by Julia, Arthur, Hosea, and John.
"Dutch, we just heard about Jack. You need some extra guns?" asked Bill in the distance followed by Javier, Lenny, and Charles.
"Yeah, why not?" Micah, Kieran, anymore strange turns up you kill 'em! ordered Dutch as he got on his horse.
All the others did the same, exchanging looks.
"Rest of you, let's ride" yelled the man galloping out of camp.
"You sure you can do it?" asked Arthur at Julia.
"I want to kill the son of bitch that hit me" she answered angrily.
The sun was already gone as all of them headed to the Braithwaites' manor led by Hosea and Dutch. Right after them John, Lenny, Charles, Bill, and Javier. Julia and Arthur at the end.
"They must've figured out what we was up to, Dutch" assumed Hosea.
"Yeah, we just got shot to hell by the Grays in town" agreed Arthur.
"I know...I don't want wanna even think about that right now. We have to focus on Jack" answered Dutch.
"I swear, I'll kill everyone there" John growled.
"Easy, John. Try to stay calm" Dutch appeased the man.
"I'm fine" huffed the other.
"How the hell did they get so close to camp?" asked Hosea.
"Jack and I was near Sean's grave. Or at least is where I saw Jack. We just got closer to the lake to play. Guess no one was on watch on that part of the camp" explained Julia.
"I don't know, but we are getting him back and they will pay. I promise you that" replied Dutch.
"What about the gold?" asked Bill.
"Who gives a damn about the gold? They got Jack" shot back John looking at the man.
"There is actually any gold?" asked Julia skeptically.
"I don't think so. Or if there is, it's hidden somewhere no one knows" Hosea answered.
"What?" snapped John at the old man.
"I've turned every stone" added Hosea.
"For Christ's sake, Hosea. After all that? Another perfect scam" complained John.
"We underestimated them. Guess Julia was right, after all" said the old man looking at her defeated.
Julia diverted her eyes, feeling the others' eyes on her for a moment.
"No, they underestimated us" said Dutch catching everyone's attention again.
"Enough talk. There's no point arguing how we got here, this is where we are. And we are going to fix it. So come on!" added the man, encouraging them.
When they finally saw the manor in the distance, they reached the big stone arch where they left the horses and took their rifles and best guns.
"Okay, get your heads right. Okay makes a move until I say so" said Dutch, giving everyone a warming look.
"First Sean, now Jack. We should have stayed out of all this" Lenny said shaking his head.
"Bit late for that, ain't it?" complained Bill.
"Quiet, we're going to fix this right now" repeated Dutch.
"We shouldn't have needed to fix anything, though" Julia mumbled loud enough to be heard by the man now near her as she reached his side. Dutch didn't say anything, just glanced at her before he stopped and turned to the others.
"Come on. Let's get this done. John, you sure you're okay?" asked Dutch stopping John by his arm.
"Like I said, I'm fine" the man repeated looking at Dutch who nodded.
"Follow my lead. Both these redneck families think they can ruin us? I don't think so..." said Dutch taking out his pistol.
Julia and Arthur exchanged a look before they followed the man.
He headed to the front house, everybody else at his sides, forming a line.
"There they are" said Hosea pointing at the house with his rifle.
"Who steals a goddamn boy?" Dutch asked rhetorically and sternly.
"I'm gonna let fly at those sons of bitches" spit John, his grip on his pistols harder.
"John, I need you to stay calm" Dutch appeased him again turning to look at him.
Then he looked back at the house and took a deep breath.
"Get down here now! You inbred trash!" he shouted to the house which doors opened soon after revealing four men that took position on the porch of the house.
Looking up Julia could see others hidden behind the columns of the house one the second floor.
"What the hell do you want?" asked one of the men.
They were too far away to understand which of them talked, but that didn't matter.
They would have all be dead soon.
With the corner of her eyes, Julia saw John sped up until Hosea stopped him by his arm.
"Easy, John" he told him, pulling him back.
"We've come here for the boy...you must've known we would" said Dutch as everybody stopped and he reached two of the four men who had climbed down the stairs of the porch, meeting him halfway.
"Shouldn't have messed with our business now, should you?" asked the man on the right.
"Whatever complaint you have with us, alleged...or otherwise...that is a young boy...that is not the way you do things. Hand him over" yelled Dutch giving the men a dreadful look.
"Get the hell out of our land" shouted back another man on the left.
At that moment other men came out of the house, supporting the others already out. They were a lot; Julia couldn't deny that. But they didn't know how dangerous the Van der Linde gang could be.
"If you ain't gonna be civilized about this..." Dutch said in a warming tone and before he could add anything more, he shot the three men standing in front of him.
Everybody moved quickly, taking cover where they could and started to shoot back.
Julia was pulled by Arthur behind a cart before he stood up and shot one man on the balcony.
"We take care of those up there. Here, take this" he said giving her one of his two rifles.
Julia took and nodded at him, before they both got out and began to shoot the men on the second floor, making them fall one after the other.
"Bill, Javier cover left. Arthur, John, Hosea, with me. The rest of you, watch out here for any other arrivals" ordered Dutch.
Julia looked over at Arthur and nodded at him before he followed the man inside the house.
Julia looked at him and then reached Charles who was scanning the surroundings with his sawed-off shotgun in his hands.
The man turned and looked at her briefly, nodding at Julia who did the same.
And so they waited, an ear stretched out for any sound coming from the woods around them and the other stretched to the house for any sign of Jack.
Suddenly, Charles stiffened near Julia and looking in the same direction, she saw other men coming.
"We got more coming in!" the man shouted alerting the others.
Julia took cover quickly, pointing her rifle to the men still too far away for her to shoot at.
She waited until they got closer and then shot two men running towards them before she noticed two wagons full of others coming.
She aimed at the lantern on the closer one, and when she shot the lantern exploded, burning the driver while she horses led the wagon towards a tree.
The only three men who got down it were killed by Lenny and Bill while Javier and Charles covered Julia as she ran towards the other wagon taking out of her satchel a stick of dynamite and lightened it up.
She threw it to the driver of the other wagon, hitting him in the face. The man took the dynamite in his hand and before he could realize what it was or he could throw it away, it exploded.
"My God..." Julia heard Bill saying as she ran back.
"They're coming from the left of the house!" yelled Charles as Julia ran with him to the other side of the house.
She took cover just before a bullet could hit her in the shoulder and then she shot back killing the man.
Julia was so intent in killing those bastards that she didn't notice one of them sneaking to her right and grabbing her.
The man pushed her on the ground and when Julia looked up at him, she recognized him right away.
"You whore" grinned the man getting on Julia who tried to push him away.
The man's hand reached her neck and tightened his grip, but Julia reached for her knife and stabbed the man on his side making him scream in pain.
Then Julia punched him making him lose his grip on her and quickly got up, taking her rifle.
She pointed it at the man's face who was still moaning in pain for his wounded side and when he looked up at her, his eyes widened as he tried to plead her not to do it.
"Too late for that" Julia said before she shot him in the face.
Half the man's head blew up while the body fell back on the ground.
"Jesus!" exclaimed Lenny on her side.
Julia smirked at him and then returned to shoot at the few men left who were starting to run away.
"Looks like they're running" said Arthur from above them and turning to look at him, Julia noticed the man's eyes on her.
She smiled at him before John called Arthur who had to divert his eyes from Julia.
She walked to the front of the house where the doors where wide opened and after a moment Julia heard the Braithwaite woman scream.
She stared at the stairs seeing Hosea and John coming down, after them Dutch who was dragging the woman.
"That's right. Burn this dump to the ground!" ordered Dutch as Hosea and John came out the rooms on the ground floor with candle holders, throwing them on the ground.
Soon the house flamed up and everyone got as far away as possible.
Julia waited for Arthur who put an arm on her shoulders and pulled her away looking behind him for a moment as the house became a big, red, and hot furnace.
"Where's Jack?" she asked Arthur who shook his head.
Julia sighed closing her eyes briefly and she couldn't avoid blaming herself for not being able to save him.
Dutch continued to drag the Braithwaite woman until he was far enough for the fire not to reach them.
The woman was crying while looking at her house being destroyed and her sons dying between the flames.
"You damn Yankee. I never like you" said the woman between her gritted teeth.
"Why'd you take the boy, Mrs. Braithwaite?" asked Hosea angrier than Julia had even seen him before.
"You stole my liquor..." began the woman.
"Boys are off-limits "Hosea interrupted her.
"You stole my horses. Ain't no rules in war, Mr..." trailed off the woman, rolling in the dirt.
"Matthews" answered Hosea harshly.
"Yes...yes that's it mumble" the old crone.
"Where's the boy?" asked Hosea again.
"My sons gave him to Angelo Bronte. So my guess is Saint Denis. Either there or on the boat to Italy" spit the woman giving them a weak smile.
"Let's go" said Hosea walking away.
"Arthur, come on" called Dutch as the man didn't move.
"What we're doing with her?" asked Arthur pointing at the woman.
"Leave her" answered Dutch.
"I told you she was crazy" said Hosea to the man his left.
Julia moved with Arthur, but she turned while she reached her horse watching the woman run to the house in flames.
When they all came back to camp it was already the sunrise.
Hosea and Dutch gave Abigail the sad news and the woman had run to her tent to cry.
John didn't know what to do, and under Hosea's advice, he stayed with her for a while.
Julia went to the medical supplies wagon, using some whiskey to clean the wound on her forehead.
At that moment she heard some steps and turning her head she saw Arthur.
"You okay?" asked the man.
"Yeah, fine. Killed the bastard who did this" answered Julia pointing et her head.
"Yeah, I saw you the other night. Lenny keep telling us how you blew the poor guy's head and that dynamite trick..." said Arthur with half a smile making Julia chuckle.
"I'm the Hound after all. I have to be deadly" she said winking at him.
"That's you are" he whispered smiling at her.
"John, come sit here" they heard Hosea saying and turning their heads they saw the old man sat at a table with Dutch and John, who had just sat down.
The two of them exchanged a look before they reached the three men.
"It's gonna work out, John. It's gonna work out, listen to Dutch" said Hosea.
"I don't expect you to understand this but I have never been more proud of you than I am right now, brother. You're doing the right thing" said Dutch staring at John.
"If I don't get the boy back safe I'm...she...she'll kill us all" answered John.
"I know, but looking at this logically, that boy is fine. They took him to scare us. Nobody takes a boy to harm him" reassured Dutch.
"He's right, John" Hosea nodded to the young man.
"What do you think, Arthur?" asked Dutch turning to look at him.
"The boy'll be fine, but of course Marston's scared rotten. We killed all those people...we stirred up all that trouble...for nothing" Arthur shrugged looking at Julia.
"No, no not for nothing. For living. Now, we get that boy back and we go" replied Dutch, making Julia huff a bitter laugh.
"For living? Is Sean living? And Abigail without her son, the most precious thing to her? I see surviving here, but living is far away from this" she said not to blame the man, but to make him see that his words were unfounded.
"I know that we have different points of view, but I have to admit that you gave us more help than we could've hoped for...trust me" Dutch said looking at Julia who didn't answer him.
After a couple of seconds, they heard Lenny calling for Dutch and turning their heads, Julia saw the last thing she wanted to see.
Milton and Ross.
"We got a problem" said Lenny as he walked the two men to Dutch.
The rest of the group was already there, surrounding the two intruders.
"Not a problem...visitors...a solution" answered Agent Milton looking around. Behind him Agent Ross had is usual rifle as he walked slowly, looking up and down at everyone.
"Good day fine people...Mr. Van der Linde...Mr. Matthews, I presume and who are you?" asked Milton turning his head to John who raised from his seat.
Julia exchanged a look with Hosea, who assured her by nodding and faintly smile at her.
"Rip Van Winkle" he answered.
"Huh...good day, sir "replied Mr. Milton unimpressed.
"Agent Milton, Pinkerton Detective Agency...Agent Ross. But I think some of you already know who we are, aint' so Mr. Morgan and Miss...?" trailed off the man looking at Julia.
"Still the Hound for you, agent Milton" she answered crossing her arms on her chest.
"And to what do we owe the pleasure, Agent Moron?" asked Dutch catching the man's attention.
"I don't know if you're aware but this...this is a civilized land now. We didn't kill all them savages only to allow the likes of you to act like human dignity and basic decency was outmoded or not yet invented. This thing it's done" declared Agent Milton.
"This place...ain't no such thing as civilized. It's man so in love with greed he has forgotten himself and found only appetites" answered Dutch getting up and facing the man.
"And as a consequence, that lets you take what you please kill whom you please and hang the rest of us? Who made you the messiah to the lost souls you've led so horribly astray?" asked the agent looking around at everyone.
"I'm nothing but a seeker, Mr. Milton" answered simply Dutch.
"You ain't much of anything more than a killer, Mr. Van der Linde. But I came to make a deal. It's time. You come with me and I give the rest of ya three days to run off disappear and go and live like human beings someplace else" offered Milton.
"You came for me? Risked life and limb in this den of lowlifes and murderers so that they might live and love? Ain't that fine" Dutch said smiling falsely.
"I don't wanna kill all these folk, Dutch...just you" replied Milton.
"In that case...it'd be my honor to join you...excuse me, friends I have an appointment to keep with..." Dutch said walking towards the man with his hands raised.
At that moment everyone took out his gun, which was a pistol or rifle that didn't matter. A simple gesture that made the tension in the air skyrocket.
Julia moved her hand to her pistol as well, but didn't take it out and instead stared at Agent Ross whose eyes fixed on her.
"I think your new friend should leave now, Dutch" said Miss Grimshaw.
"You're making a big mistake all of you" insisted Milton looking around.
"Yeah, dreadful" mocked Dutch.
"We have got something...something to live and die for. How awful for us, Mr. Milton. Stop following us, we'll be gone soon" he added with a more passionate voice.
"I'm afraid I can't and when I return, I'll be with fifty men. All of you will die. Run away from this place, you fools!" yelled Milton looking around once more.
"Come on" said Lenny taking the man by his arm, but Agent Milton wriggled out his grip.
"Get you damn hands off of me, boy" he said angrily and turning to Julia she looked at her up and down.
"The Hound...I guess the dog's always loyal to his owner" he said.
"Careful there, agent Milton. This dog has fangs, and it can smell your blood" threatened Julia, walking closer to the man, her hand still on her pistol.
The agent's face contorted into a wince before he turned and left with Agent Ross.
They all looked at the two men leaving and then turned to Dutch, who was behind Julia and put a hand on her shoulder.
She looked at him as he nodded, and Julia returned the gesture.
Was it right what she had done? No, it wasn't. She had fucked up everything she had built so far. Now, the only thing she could do was wait and see what it would have happened.
"What now?" asked Arthur.
"We get out of here and quick. Any ideas?" asked Dutch.
"I know a big old house hidden in the swamps outside Saint Denis. I'm sure they'll find us eventually, but it should buy us a few days" said Arthur.
"A few days is all we need" replied Dutch.
"Are you talking about Shady Belle?" asked Julia by the man's side.
"Yeah, exactly. We got into that dispute with the previous occupiers. Place is well hidden" said Arthur to Dutch who nodded convinced.
"You, Arthur and Julia ride out. And make sure no one else has moved in. Lenny...go follow those fools outta here make sure that they leave" he said to the young man, pointing at the men in the distance.
Julia felt a tap on her shoulder and turning she saw John who gestured her to follow him.
"And John we'll get Jack back and we'll get gone. Rest of you get packing!" added Dutch making the man turn and nod before the three of them headed to the horses.
Julia got on Wind Catcher, looking around quickly before she followed the two men out of the camp.
Sorry for the unbelievable late. I've been doing so many things this week that I couldn't sit down and finish this damn chapter.
I have to study for some exams, but my mind just doesn't want to collaborate. For this reason, though, I won't publish every week, maybe I'll need more time to write the next chapters.
Anyway, I hope you liked this new chapter. Hopefully, I'll post the next one soon.