The Devil's Destiny image by Jordan

 

 

 

                       

                                  THE DEVIL’S DESTINY!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments---This story was written for Lanna’s Birthday. She wanted an Old West psycho/torture story. There are some graphic scenes in this, so be warned. Special thanks to Deirdre, thanks, Cowboy, for your help with this. The story turned out much better because of her wonderful influence. Thanks also go to Ninheve for her research talents, and Antoinette for Beta reading this at such short notice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                  

 

 

The late afternoon sun beat down on the town of Four Corners, lengthening the shadows and covering the street in a warm, dusty blanket. The stage pulled to a stop in front of the livery and the driver jumped down to open the door.

 

Chris Larabee never tired of watching people. You could tell a lot from the way people acted when they didn’t realize they were under scrutiny. He watched the first person step out of the stage and wondered just what brought this newcomer to the town. He listened to the man as he called to the driver in a thick accent he couldn’t place.

 

“Well now, my dear man, could you kindly hand me down my luggage,” the man requested.

 

Chris watched the newcomer, who appeared to be in his late forties or early fifties, as he struggled with the heavy bags. He finally gave up on carrying the bag and dropped it to the ground. Despite the fact he was taller, the visitor reminded Chris of Jock Steele. The pint-sized dime store novelist had made quite a name for himself and had an avid fan in JD Dunne.

 

The blond gunslinger stood up from his chair and pulled his hat forward on his head. His steady gaze went up and down the dusty street, searching for signs of trouble. He leaned his tense frame back against the post. His eyes were drawn once more to the stagecoach, where the newcomer was staring right back at him. Larabee kept his face serious until the man dropped his gaze and turned back to his bags. Leaving the guest behind, the leader wore a cocky grin as he set out to quench his thirst.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

‘Four Corners has just handed me what I’m looking for,’ Maguire thought as he headed for the hotel. He could feel the hint of darkness being reborn, and grinned as the excitement coursed through his body.  That malevolent power that he needed was now at his fingertips. "Soon," he whispered, eyeing the lean figure disappearing through the batwing doors of the local saloon, "...soon your soul will be mine..." his eyes lit up in delicious delight.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Chris glanced around the dull interior until his green eyes met a set of familiar blue ones. The lean buckskin clad body was lounging near the back of the room. He walked towards the table and sat in the chair next to his friend. Caution kept his back to the wall, so he could maintain a constant watch on the door. Neither man said a word as Vin slid a shot glass towards the man in black.

 

Chris lifted the glass to his mouth and dumped the entire contents inside. He swallowed the fiery liquid, sighing audibly as it traced its way down his parched throat.

 

“Thirsty, Cowboy?”

 

“Not anymore.” Larabee grinned as he set the glass back on the table. “Where is everyone?”

 

“Buck and JD are out on Patrol. Ezra is helping Nathan and Josiah fix somethin’ at the church.”

 

“Ezra Standish doing menial labor?” Larabee nodded as Tanner held the half full bottle of Red Eye over his empty glass.

 

“Well I wouldn’t say he’s doin’ much of anythin’ except gettin’ in the way,” Tanner laughed as he thought of the last time he’d seen Standish. The gambler was unable to hold his end of the board and he ended up pulling Nathan Jackson to the ground with him. The tracker hurried away before he collapsed in laughter.

 

Larabee grinned as he downed the second shot of whiskey. “Well, Pard, I think I’ll go out to the shack for a couple of days.”

 

“When’re ya plannin’ on leavin’?”

 

“First thing in the morning.”

 

“Gonna work on fixin’ up the barn?”

 

“Yeah, figure it’s about time I fixed the damage from the last storm.”

 

“Reckon. Anyone new come in on the stage?”

 

“Just one man,” Chris tried to hide the instant dislike he felt for the visitor, but Tanner was the one man who could read him easily.

 

“He do somethin’ ya didn’t like?”

 

“Besides reminding me of Jock Steele?”

 

“Ah, hell, I know ya didn’t like Steele, but he did a pretty good job with his novel. Leastwise that’s what Josiah says,” Tanner said as the saloon doors opened and a man he didn’t recognize entered. “That him?” he inquired, shifting his gaze briefly as the blond head dipped once. “Don’t see much of a resemblance with Steele. This guy’s at least a foot and a half taller and more muscled.”

 

“Never said he looked like him, just said he reminded me of him.”

 

“Looks like he’s comin’ this way.”

 

“Oh, great,” Larabee hissed, unsure why the sight of this man set the hairs on the nape of his neck on end.

 

“Gentlemen, might I enquire who runs this fine establishment?”

 

“Ya might,” Tanner said. “Don’t always mean ya’ll get the right answer.”

 

“Pardon me?”

 

"Depends on who's asking." The gaze shifted, turning to a cautionary shade of icy green.

 

‘Ah, so perfect, a worthy opponent for sure.’ The newcomer thought as he looked into the glaring green eyes. “I like to know the business people in town. It helps in my line of work.”

 

“Who are you and what line of work are you in?”

 

‘Already suspicious and I’ve only just met him. Oh, this should be good.’ “My name is Robert Maguire and I’m a salesman.”

 

“What sorta things ya sell?” Tanner asked as he tipped his chair back, leaning against the wall.

 

“Just about anything from glasses to newfangled brooms to clothing. I delve into everything. I have a catalogue if you’d like to see it, Mr...” Maguire paused and saw a steel curtain close over the blue eyes. They now reeked of danger.  He glanced at the menacing figure in black and his heart skipped a beat.  The pale green eyes were guarded well.  Smiling inwardly, he turned to the intense man.  "I didn't get your name..."

"No, you didn't" Larabee replied tersely, turning back to his whiskey.

 

‘Larabee, it must be him.' he recalled of the reply given by a stranger outside of whom he asked about the figure in black.  'Chris Larabee. A perfect name for the savior  of my destiny,’ he thought, his eyes shifting from one man to the other.  Another image formed, the best friend...the one who the greedy whino was all to eager to talk about.  It's funny how a piece of silver can loosen the right lips. Tanner...the tracker...lived with the Indians. “Would either of  you be interested in looking at my catalogue?”

 

“Not interested,” Larabee muttered as he looked at the salesman. He couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more to this pesky businessman. "I'm heading out," he rose and nodded to his partner.

 

“Want some help tomorrow?” Vin asked, reading the warning in the green eyes clearly, as they flicked to the stranger. The 'watch your back' was spelled out evenly and he nodded, giving his noted reply.

 

“Wouldn’t mind,” Larabee told his friend.

 

“If you change your mind...” Maguire's words were cut short, when the blond's eyes dissected them. 

 

Larabee nodded slightly to his friend as he headed out the door. An uneasiness settled inside, knowing something was very strange about Robert Maguire.

 

“Your friend doesn’t seem to trust me,” Maguire observed.

 

Tanner smiled as the man in black disappeared. “Does he have a reason?” he asked.

 

Maguire smiled warmly at the sharpshooter. “No, Sir, I’m just a salesman and I’m just here to sell my wares. I hope I can do business with you.”

 

“Ain’t nothin’ I need from no store,” Tanner told him.

 

“You’d be surprised, young man, but I won’t push anything on you. That’s not the type of salesman I am,” Maguire assured him.

 

“Mrs. Potter runs the store in town, ya might check with her,” the sharpshooter suggested, as he stood up,  "Ya stay a lot healthier, iffen ya mind yer business in this town, " he advised, then left the salesman sitting at the table.

 

‘Ah, I see you like to pick up for Chris Larabee. Well that will soon end. He is part of my destiny and soon his soul, his very being will be mine,’ Maguire thought, a tiny imperceptibly evil grin appeared on his face, but disappeared before it was fully formed. ‘Soon, Chris Larabee, very soon.’

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Larabee let Pony have his lead. He knew the horse could travel this path without encouragement from him. He relaxed in the saddle, letting the steed guide them home. As the tiny shack came into view he pushed Pony a little faster in his need to be alone for a while. He slid from the saddle and led the beautiful horse to the corral where he removed the saddle and gave him a good rubdown before turning him loose.

 

A shiver ran down his spine as he thought of the newcomer again. He wondered what it was about Robert Maguire that set his nerves on fire. This was a man he’d just met yet Chris knew instinctively there were hidden reasons for the man’s being in Four Corners. ‘Ah, hell, maybe he’ll be gone before you get back to town,’ he thought.

 

He moved towards his little shack, a smile on his face as he relaxed and let the solitude and warmth of the place ease away the tension. He opened the door and pushed his way inside. ‘Home,’ he thought, letting his grin widen.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Good day, Mrs. Potter.”

 

“Good day, Mr...”

 

“My name’s Robert Maguire, Ma’am and I’ve been told you might be able to help me out.”

 

“I will certainly try, Mr. Maguire. What is it you need?” Gloria Potter asked brightly.

 

“It’s not what I need exactly, Mrs. Potter. You see I am a salesman and I’ve been traveling extensively in search of shall we say the perfect person to sell my wares to.”

 

“Wares?”

 

“Why yes. I work for a rather large company in Boston and they are willing to ship things out to you on consignment.”

 

“Consignment?”

 

“Yes, Dear Lady, it simply means they’ll ship things out here for you to sell and you put it on display in your store. If it sells you receive a commission and the rest is sent back to my company. If it doesn’t sell my company arranges for it to be returned. So you see there is no money lost by you either way, but you stand to make a fair profit if you give it a chance.”

 

Gloria Potter smiled at the likable man standing before her. His short black hair was streaked with silver and she guessed his age to be around fifty. His dark brown eyes filled with excitement as he made his sales pitch. She nodded slowly as he passed her a catalogue, noting his hands were soft and unblemished as she accepted it. She looked up as the door opened and Mary Travis entered, newspapers in her hands. “Good afternoon, Mary,” she greeted.

 

“Good afternoon, Gloria,” she said and turned her attention to the man standing at the counter. She sized up the expensive well tailored grey suit and wondered where the man came from.

 

“Mary, have you met Mr. Maguire?”

 

“No, I haven’t.”

 

“Robert Maguire, this is the owner of the Clarion News, Mrs. Mary Travis.”

 

“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Ma’am,” Maguire made a flourish of lifting her hand and placing a gentle kiss on the back of it.

 

Mary smiled at the man, wondering why the touch of his lips had felt so cold on her skin. “Are you staying in Four Corners long, Mr. Maguire?” she asked.

 

“That depends on how things go,” Maguire told her. ‘And how fast I can get my hands on Chris Larabee,’ he thought, smiling sweetly at the two women.

 

“Mr. Maguire is a salesman, Mary.”

 

“Really, and what do you sell, Mr. Maguire?”

 

“Just look at this catalogue and all the fancy doodads,” Gloria told her as she slid the catalogue towards the blond woman.

 

Mary studied the catalogue, wondering what some of the unrecognizable items were for. “Some of these items seem a bit steep, Gloria,” she commented.

 

“I know but Mr. Maguire says his company will do it on consignment and I don’t pay for anything. I even make a profit if it sells. He says I can’t lose.”

 

“Gloria, there’s always a catch.”

 

“I assure you, Mrs. Travis, there’s none. I will even give you a written guarantee,” he offered.

 

“I’m gonna order a couple of things,” Gloria Potter said as she ran her hand over a picture of a silver brush and comb set. “I might even buy one of these for myself,” she said wistfully.

 

“It is beautiful,” Mary said.

 

“Beautiful ladies, such as yourselves, deserve beautiful things,” Maguire smiled at the two blushing women.

 

“Thank you, Mr. Maguire,” Gloria said.

 

“My pleasure, Ma’am. Could either of you recommend a good place to eat while I’m in town?”

 

“Inez, at the saloon makes some really wonderful meals,” Gloria told him. "There's a cafe in town and the dining room at the hotel is good."

 

“I shall take your word for it, Dear Lady, and now I shall bid you both good day and check the lady’s culinary attributes,” he said as he bowed and left the store.

 

“Man is a silver tongued devil,” Gloria Potter smiled.

 

“He would probably enjoy talking with Ezra,” Mary laughed and the two women continued to look through the catalogue.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Chris spent the night thinking about how his life changed since he rode into Four Corners. He’d slept well and woke up ready and willing to work. He started by making a big breakfast and attending to Pony. He readied the equipment he’d need to fix the barn and sat back to wait on the scrappy Texan.

 

Chris watched appreciatively as the tracker rode towards him. He knew the man was coming even before he’d caught site of the horse and rider. Two glasses of whiskey stood on the tiny table and he leaned his chair back on two legs. A small smile played on his face as the younger man rode into his yard and dismounted. Neither said a word as Tanner removed the saddle and turned Peso loose with Pony before walking to the small shack and sitting in the second chair.

 

“Drink?” Larabee asked, sliding the small glass across to the younger man.

 

“Thanks, am kinda parched,” Vin smiled as he downed the shot of whiskey.

 

“How’re things in town?”

 

“Quiet, almost too quiet,” Tanner told him as the blond filled their glasses once more.

 

“Buck still staying with Blossom?”

 

“Yeah, but not fer long. Her fella’s supposed ta be comin’ back next week.”

 

Larabee grinned as he downed the second shot, smacking his lips as the fiery liquid burned a trail down his throat. “Buck’ll never learn. He’ll probably be in her bed when her fella comes through the door.”

 

Tanner laughed, “yeah but he’s pretty damned quick at flyin’ through windows.”

 

Larabee laughed as he remembered Buck dropping to the ground before him when he’d first come to Four Corners. Before the seven men became friends and fellow peacekeepers. “Buck’s a carouser and always will be,” he grinned cockily.

 

“He’s gonna c...carouse with the wrong lady one of these days,” Tanner observed. "...end up with an ass full o'buckshot..."

 

“Buck’ll just talk his way out of it. He’s good at that.”

“Well we’d best get started if’n we’re gonna get this done ‘fore I leave tonight.”

 

“Reckon,” Larabee smiled as the younger man stood up and moved towards the barn.

 

“Looks like the wind near tore the whole side outta it.”

 

“Yeah, damned good thing Pony wasn’t in there,” Larabee said as he joined the younger man.

 

“Gonna be a lotta work,” the blue eyes observed.

 

“You up to the challenge?” Chris inquired, raising a single sandy eyebrow and wearing a cocky grin.  He saw the Tanner smile being born, before the retort came back.

 

“Reckon.”

 

“I have a good stash of red eye,” Larabee grinned as he removed his black shirt and draped it over the fence.

 

“Gonna need it,” Tanner exclaimed as he looked at the barn and then down at the buckskin jacket he wore. With a heavy sigh he peeled away the layers of clothing and soon was as bare chested as Chris Larabee.

 

Both men moved towards the barn and worked as a team. One grabbing new boards and holding it in place, the other hammering the nails. The sun beat down from above covering both hard bodies in a glistening sheen of sweat.

 

“Hot work,” Larabee said as he swiped at the sweat running into his eyes.

 

“Bar open?”  Vin squinted and saw the wet blond head nod, "Good...I'm parched...I need a drink."

 

“Yep, maybe more than one,” Larabee smiled as he dropped the board and headed for the shack.

 

“Sounds good,” Tanner smiled and followed his friend.

 

Larabee poured two drinks and sank heavily into a chair. “What’s Maguire up to?”

 

Tanner studied his friend. It wasn’t often people ruffled Larabee’s feathers but Robert Maguire seemed to have done just that after only a couple of minutes. “He really got ta ya didn’t he?” the tracker mused with a small smile.

 

“I just don’t trust him, Vin,” Larabee said. “Something about him doesn’t seem right. I can’t put my hands on it, but that man is trouble.”

 

“Well he’s made a good impression on the ladies.”

 

“What ladies?”

 

“Mrs. Potter, Mrs. Travis, and Miss Inez. They seem ta think he’s a real gentleman.”

 

“Keep an eye on him,” Larabee warned.

 

“I won’t have ta. Seems like he’s spending a lot of time with Ez. Spoutin' five-dollar words at each other.”

 

“Maybe Ezra will talk to him so much he’ll leave town.”

 

“Ain’t never seen ya like this, Chris.”

 

“Just keep an eye on him, Vin.”

 

“I will,” Tanner assured him as he drank the second glass of whiskey. “Reckon we’d best get some more work done.”

 

Larabee smiled as he stood up and moved back to the barn. Once more the pounding of a hammer broke the silence as the two men finished the repair work.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Maguire couldn’t help but admire the two lean bodies labouring under the hot sun. His vantage point was perfect and the special eyeglass he used made it easy to make out the beads of sweat running down the two glistening bodies. ‘It’s amazing the information a drink can buy you,’ he thought, remembering the thirsty drunk who’d eagerly pointed the way to Larabee’s home. He moved the glass from one figure to the other, knowing  once he took his intended victim the other man would be a force to be reckoned with. He turned away from the two men and hurried back to his rented horse. He wanted to be back in town before Tanner returned.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

“When’re ya comin’ back ta town?”

 

“A couple of days,” Larabee said as he reached up and clasped the younger man’s arm in their forearm clasp.

 

“Be seein’ ya, Cowboy.”

 

Larabee’s mouth curled up, “Watch your back, Tanner.” He warned and watched the younger man ride out, the sun just going behind the clouds as he relaxed back in the chair.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

It was four days later when Chris finally rode back into Four Corners. The streets were quiet, even for early afternoon and he briefly wondered where everyone was. Laughter reached his ears and he headed for the hotel. He dismounted and looped Pony’s reins over the hitching post. As he pushed open the door people turned towards him. Chairs were set up and every one was occupied with a member of the town, including the other six peacekeepers.

 

“Hi, Chris,” Dunne was the first to see him.

 

“JD, what’s going on?”

 

“Robert is showing us some of the things he’s selling in that catalogue. You should see this stuff, Chris.”

 

Larabee’s eyes met the dark eyes of Robert Maguire and again felt there was something strange about the man, something he knew he couldn’t just dismiss. ‘Why are you really here?’ he thought as the other man again broke contact.

 

‘So strong, so dark, so perfect. Soon, Chris Larabee, very, very soon,’ Maguire thought. “Now this is something you gentlemen could buy for your wife or special lady,” he said as he held up the silver brush and comb set that had caught both Mary Travis and Gloria Potter’s attention. “The detail on this is wonderful and it will last for years. It’ll probably become a family heirloom and be passed from mother to daughter for years to come,” he smiled as he looked around the room, his eyes once more coming to rest on the blond gunslinger. “What about you, Mr. Larabee? Is there a special lady you would like to present this too?”

 

“Yeah, Stud, who would you give a brush and comb to,” Wilmington laughed as he looked from Larabee to Mary Travis and back again.

 

“Well, Mr. Larabee?” Maguire asked.

 

“Told you before, I'm not interested,” Larabee directed and stared hard at Maguire, "...in anything from you." He turned slowly and left the room. He shook off the odd feeling once he left the hotel and headed for the saloon.

 

“Hey, Cowboy, what’s the rush?”

 

Larabee turned at the familiar voice, waiting for the younger man to catch up. “I need a drink.”

 

“Want some company?”

 

“You don’t want to see the other things Maguire is selling?”

 

“Nah, ya know I don’t cotton ta none of that useless city stuff.”

 

“Glad I’m not the only one,” Larabee managed, shaking his head and crossing through the batwing doors.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Maguire continued to show the items he managed to bring with him even though he wanted nothing more than to put his plans in motion. Designs that would soon see the blond gunslinger under his particular brand of care. He lifted a surgical instrument and showed it to the excited crowd, his eyes coming to rest on Nathan Jackson. He’d done his homework and knew this man was the town healer The ex-slave was a very good one from the praise the people heaped on him. “This is the newest surgical instrument from John’s Hopkins. As you can see its very strong and I’m sure Mr. Jackson can appreciate the fine workmanship.” He held up the scalpel turning it so the people in the room could see the carved handle and the well honed edge on the blade.

 

“It is a nice piece. How much for that one?”

 

“Sorry,” Maguire said, knowing he’d need this little gem for his own private use. “This one is only for show. I can have one sent with Mrs. Potter’s order.” Maguire opened the catalogue and quoted the price to Jackson.

 

Jackson thought for a few minutes, his eyes straying to the item in Maguire’s hand before making up his mind. “I’ll take one,” he said.

 

“A very wise decision, Mr. Jackson,” Maguire grinned as he marked in his book. When the final item was shown Maguire breathed a sigh of relief. With his prey so close, he was anxious for the game to begin.

 

“Mr. Maguire, would you like to join us for a drink?” Yosemite asked.

 

“Why that would be fine, Yosemite. All this talk has left me a little parched,” he followed the other men out of the hotel and walked with them towards the saloon. He knew Larabee’s men were with them and would form a circle around their leader. 

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Larabee heard the large group coming towards the saloon and poured himself and Tanner a drink.

 

“Sounds like Maguire is finished with his sales pitch,” Tanner said as the doors swung open and a group of rambunctious men piled in.

 

“So much for peace and quiet,” Larabee hissed as he downed the whiskey. He looked at the salesman coming towards their table.

 

“Mr. Larabee, I’d like to apologize for putting you on the spot back there. I really didn’t mean to offend you.”

 

“You didn’t offend me,” Larabee told him.

 

“Will you accept a drink to show you how truly sorry I am.”

 

“Go on, Chris, let the man buy you a drink,” Wilmington chortled with a wink as he slid into the chair beside his old friend.

 

“Please, Mr. Larabee,” Maguire begged.

 

“Ah, Chris, he really does sound sorry,” Tanner smiled at his friend.

 

“Alright, Maguire,” the leader hissed, clearly annoyed.

 

“I’ll be right back,” Maguire smiled as he moved towards the bar, his thoughts once more turning to his plans for the man in black. He returned with a bottle of the most expensive whiskey Inez had to offer and pulled a chair up to the table. He opened it and poured the first shot in the gunslinger’s glass, before filling the other six glasses and one for himself. “Salute,” he said as he raised his glass.

 

“What?” Dunne asked.

 

“It’s a toast Mr. Dunne,” Standish observed.

 

“Oh,” Dunne said as he raised his glass. “S...salute.”

 

Larabee swallowed the whiskey and nodded to Maguire. “Thanks,” he said.

 

“You’re welcome, Mr. Larabee,” Maguire smiled, but it didn’t meet his eyes.

 

“Well, Chris, how’re things at your place?” Wilmington asked.

 

“Fine, Buck,” Larabee answered as he accepted the bottle from Maguire and refilled his glass, his eyes meeting the dark ones of the newcomer. ‘It’s like there’s nothing in there,’ he thought as he passed the bottle back. Again the hairs on the nape of his neck stood on end as the man lowered his eyes and looked away.

 

“Did you and Vin get the barn fixed?”

 

“We did,” Larabee answered the ladies man.

 

“Well, gentlemen, I have a few things to straighten out at the bank. Now that I’ve got my orders I shall be leaving your fair town.”

 

“When are you plannin’ on leavin’?” Tanner asked.

 

“Sometime tomorrow morning.”

 

“There’s no stage tomorrow,” Larabee told him.

 

“I know, Mr. Larabee. I bought a fine horse from Yosemite. He assures me that I did indeed get a good animal.”

 

“Yosemite only sells the best,” Larabee agreed, not showing the relief he felt at the news that this man would be leaving Four Corners.

 

“Thank you, Mr. Larabee, I’m sure he does. Anyway, good day, gentlemen,” he said as he left the saloon.

 

Tanner met Larabee’s gaze and could see the relief shining there. ‘Ya really don’t like that man do ya, Cowboy?’ he thought as the blond lifted his glass.

 

 

PART 2 / PART 3 / PART 4 / PART 5 / PART 6

 

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© Winnie 2009

 

 

 

THE DEVIL'S DESTINY

By Winnie

Rating-PG13, for language and violence.