Over the next week, Ida had totally reverted to her true self, and was trying everything she could think of to compete with young Charlene. She lowered the necklines of her dresses as far as possible, applied heavier makeup, and pulled in her corset so tightly that she could barely breathe. No matter how much she flirted, batting her eyelashes and rubbing up against men, the high-spenders clustered around Charlene.

After Miss Kitty's warning, Ida had to toe the line and act gratingly "nice" to the shabby farmers, and dusty trail hands that couldn't break through Charlene's many admirers. Most of them saw after one glance that Charlene was out of their league, and didn't even try, settling for the beautiful, but ten-years-older Ida.

On the seventh day of the frustrating humiliation, Ida had reached the breaking point. Seeing Charlene wearing expensive new dresses, and now today, expensive pearl drop earrings, made her see red.

"CHARLENE!" she shrieked.

The usual chatter, laughter, piano playing, and clink of glasses abruptly stopped as all eyes swiveled towards the beautiful, enraged Ida.

She had worked her way over, weaving through the outer ring of admirers, and was standing next to the table that Charlene had also taken from her.

Keeping a possessive hand on Pete's left arm, the lovely young saloon girl looked up at Ida, humor in her light green eyes as she gently shook her head to set the new earrings swinging.

'Well, hello there, Ida! Do you know my Pete?"

The older man looked down at the drink on the table that he was turning around in his right hand, feeling Ida's piercing eyes on him.

"Pete, this is my OLD friend Ida!"

The few snickers from the watching crowd turned to gasps as Ida grabbed a gun from the holster of the nearest cowboy with a lightning quick move, then pointed and shot Charlene in the chest two times.

Charlene's eyes were wide in surprise as her pupils dilated and she slumped against dumbstruck Pete.

The saloon erupted in screams and shouts and the scrambling of most of the cowboys and saloon girls running towards the swinging doors. The cowboy whose gun had been used hit Ida's forearm, making her drop his gun. He then grasped the backs of her arms, holding her in place.

Kitty ran over to check on Charlene, now sprawled on the floor in a spreading pool of blood. Sam had already headed out the doors to get the Marshal.

"Is she, she …dead, Miss Kitty?" Pete whispered. Blood covered the front of his three piece suit and his hands from lowering Charlene to the floor.

"Yes, Pete, she is. You'd better sit down." She noted how pale and stunned he looked.

Ida had been standing stock still from the moment the two shots had blasted forth. She couldn't even feel the firm hands on her arms, or hear the clamor in the saloon.

"I can have MY table back, and Pete will want ME!" she triumphantly thought to herself.

Matt had run down from his office, Chester hop-running along behind him, shotgun in his hands. Sam had gone for Doc. Bursting through the swinging doors, Matt quickly scanned and assessed the room for danger, then saw Kitty kneeling down by a young saloon girl lying on the floor, obviously dead.

"Kitty, are you all right?" He knelt down beside her, now worriedly scanning her for injuries after seeing the blood on her hands.

"Oh, Matt, this isn't my blood," she sighed, sadly looking down at the dead twenty year old girl she had so recently hired. The young beauty had been so excited at her first job, eyes sparkling with anticipation. Kitty had tried to warn Charlene over the past week about taking things too fast, but the girl had already changed from a guileless girl into an unstoppable scheming woman.

After checking on Kitty, the Marshal's appraising eyes took in Ida staring down at Charlene while a cowboy held her tightly in place, a six-gun lying on the floor at her feet.

Rising to his full six feet seven inches, Matt walked over to Ida Poe and glared down on her.

"You'll have to pay for THIS murder, Ida."

The beautiful saloon woman slowly turned her eyes away from Charlene and looked up into the coldest, iciest blue eyes she had ever seen.

End