The first thing I realized was my head was throbbing. And there was sand and dirt on my face. I went to brush it off... but found a rough resistance. My hands were tied... I cracked my eyes open... only getting blurry images. It was all black... and for a second i thought i had gone blind... but i saw a bright blur of red and orange... a fire. Dark figures walking about with quiet murmurs and dark chuckles. Five... six... Seven of them. I moved my head to look around and as I did I realized my shirt was wet around my neck and below my shoulder. It took me a second to realize what it was... in the dim firelight m shirt shone black... I swallowed... and tugged on my hands again. Tied to a post in the ground. I looked around for BIlly. I found him timed to a pose in the ground maybe a yard or two from me. I had to stop and stare for a second... his bright blue eyes scared me now. They were fixed on the figures by the fire. A bright and cold glare. My blood ran thick... the look of a killer. A crazy look that burned as bright as the fire.

"Billy?" i whispered. Billy looked over snapping his gaze to me. Suddenly his gaze was soft... starring at me worried.

"Hey... are you ok?" he asked now his entire focus on me. I relaxed a little.

"I'm not sure..." I siad, "I think my wounds opened again..." Billy muttered something i figured to be curse words and names directed at the men.

"Murphy men?" i asked.

"I think so." he siad.

"What are they going to do with us?" I asked. As soon as I asked Billy wearily looked away... he knew... he had heard them talking. "Billy..." he didn't answer. I didn't ask again.

"They're keen on the prize money for bringing in Billy the Kid dead or alive... not to keen on the alive part." he siad cooly. I looked at him.

"You don't look worried." i siad. He gave me a side glance and then i realized... "What? What else? What aren't you telling me?" He pulled on his ropes. "Billy?" He wasn't looking directly at me but i could see his eyes... they gave him away. That bright look that would make the devil himself think twice was gone... that cocky smile that always showed up in the darkest moments for no reason at all... was gone. He was worried. About WHAT?

"Billy WHAT..." i started.

"Look..." Billy licked his lips and glanced at the men then back at me. My heart skipped a beat. The look in his eye now? I couldn't understand... i couldn't quite grasp it.

"Listen to me..." he siad, "I won't let them. Ok? I won't let them touch you, ya understand? They lay a finger on you and they will be a gawk-eyed pale corpse before..."

"WHAT?" my voice cracked... I lost all feeling in my arms. My stomach tightened and i felt like a cold hand had a stone grip on my chest... i found it suddenly hard to breath. Panic started to swell...

"Look... me..." i couldn't make out what he was saying. I was looking at the dark figures looming out ahead of me... "Lisha... at... Lisha look at me."

Sheer panic made my gaze dart at him... my eyes locked with his and i froze.

"They aren't going to lay a finger on you... you understand?" His voice was smooth... so sure of himself "I'm going to get us out of here... both of us... before they can kill me... or do anything else got it? I promised to get you home safe and sound and that's what I'm going to do, you understand? Do you understand me? Nod your head..." I nodded. "Good. Now I need you to hang in there. Can you do that? Lisha? I nodded again, tugging furiously at me ropes, "Breath..." he siad, "Calm down..." I tried to... i really did... "Elisha..."

I looked over at him. He had a cocky grin and a spark in his eye, "Lish I got this." My breathing went back to normal. My stomach was still tight but i had the panic under control. I took a deep breath. We were going to get out of here.

Only a few minutes went by. I was getting more and more uncomfortable... getting lightheaded. I didn't know if it was panic or from loosing blood, but I was fighting the thought of dying. Panic came and went as thoughts drifted through my head. My blood would go cold anytime I thought i saw one of the figures look over at me or step our way. A quick look at Billy and it subsided.

Two men came over and I almost screamed. But they weren't going for me... they cut Billy loose. They threw him to the sand, one of them kicking him in the stomach.

"Some sharpshooter." someone muttered.

"The famous BIlly the Kid... eating sand off my boot. I like that."

"A sharpshooting left-hander. You know you killed my brother?"

"And my cousin. Leading a Posse for your head he was."

"Well then they were probably shooting at me first." Billy siad.

"Leave the rat alone boys." came a voice from the fire.

"We're just having a little fun..." the first one called back. He turned back and took a might fist across his face. Billy fell back, unable to catch himself with tied hands. I squirmed.

"You know my Cousin was Murphy..."

"Well you ended up with the short end of the stick didn't you." Billy laughed, spitting out blood.

"You killed him... right there in the streets."

"He killed John on the way home from a new years party. I made a promice..."

"A convict keeping to his promises! How cute!" Again the second one threw a fist across his face, and then second stepped into a kick.

"STOP IT!" came a high pitch voice... a voice? MY voice! Where the HELL did that come from! SHUT UP!

But they were looking at me now.

"He's ain't much is he?" someone else said.

"No Jeff... he sure aint."

"But she's something... en't she?"

"Yes Jeff she is."

I couldn't see their faces... their back to the fire.

"Frank Windy Cahill. He died at Fort Grant from an outbreak in which he got shot. He had a disrespect for my mother and left her broken. I made a promise to him. Poof. William Morton, Jesse Evens, Tom Hill, Frank Baker and Sheriff Brady... all died on separate days... all died by a gunshot. They shot Tunstall. Poof dead. The Morton brothers... poof. dead. I made a promise to them. Tom Kiddney... dead. Made a promise to him too. Poof Poof. Made a promice to Joe WIlalrd and Kenneth Peppin to..."

"They ain't dead..." siad one. Billy's eyes lit up.

"Have you heard from them lately?"

The two looked at each other.


"You little..."

"Boys..." Billy siad, they looked back at him, "I'm a man of my word."

"What?" they asked.

"I gave a promise. To keep her safe." The two men laughed, throwing their heads back.

"Well that may not be a promise you get to keep! How do you feel about that? You broke a promise kid..."

"I don't just make promises willy nilly. I make only the ones i know I can keep... the one where I know I have got one up on the other idiot."

"You listen here, you're the idiot."

"If i'm an idiot i wouldn't have lasted this long."

"Only an idiot would go up against the Santa fe ring... it's a hundred against one."

"Yet half of them are dead. My promises come with the knowing that i'm gonna do it... the knowing that it's already done. So I'll say this once. You lay a finger on her... i'll gut you open and lay your gizzard out for the buzzards. I promise." he siad, his face dark, his voice sending chills down my spine. His glare was sharp and had both men turning ghostly white. They starred at him... wondering.

Suddenly one of the men by the fire broke in a laugh. His dark figure was larger than the others... but not in a way that would slow him down. He was a barrel chested man with thick arms and a low hat.

"I like you kid..." he siad, "You got spunk."

"Thanks." Billy siad with a smile.

"Come on Skid... let's just kill him. Reward is for dead OR alive..." the first man siad. Skid, the larger man gave a smile, flashing stained teeth. He stood up and pulled his gun. I tensed and glanced at Billy. He smile slowly turned, his bright eyes on the gun.

Skid walked over, gun in hand and snapped a twig off one of the bushes. He squatted in front of Billy.

"You're a funny fellow." he siad, "But not to bright."

"I got dead buggers that would argue..."

"Alright. A wager then..." Skid siad.

"Skid what are you..." someone started but Skid shot a glare at them.

"You see this stick?" Skid held up a stick no bigger round than my pinky. It was partly broken at the top. To flimsy to stick through butter... "You make a promise... right now. You promise to kill me with this stick. You promise right now to kill me with this stick as soon as your dead."

"That's impossible." one of the men siad. Skid smiled.

"Can't kill a man when your dead can you?" he siad.

"Why? Why ask me to do that?" Billy siad, "You get nothing from it..."

"Don't I? You seem to take your promises seriously lad. I'm simply taking my own pleasure in destroying a convict high head. Everyone will know I caught Billy the Kid... but I'll live the rest of my life knowing I destroyed Billy the Kid's legend. You won't be anything when you're dead. Because you made a promise to me you couldn't keep."

"I ain't gonna make it." Billy siad. Skid pulled his gun and pointed at him. Billy spat out the blood in his mouth.

"I got dead buggers that would argue..." Skid smiled. Billy just starred at the gun.

"Promise..." he siad, slowly moving the gun to point it at me. "Or she dies. Either way I win. You break your promise to her... or make a promise you can't keep to me.