The Holts… Chapter 5
Chapter 5, Hot Night
Kelvin stretched and blinked up at the fading sun just disappearing behind the hills to the west. The night was falling, but shimmers of heat still obscured the far end of the town’s main street. Lamps were being lit and hung out on the boardwalk in front of the business that would still be open for a few more hours. Other business owners were closing and locking their doors as they rushed home to dinner with their families or headed to the saloons/cantinas before heading home. This was already a hot summer and these long days did not help to keep things cool. Even though the desert would cool down nicely in a couple of hours the town would keep some heat longer. Many of the town’s people were bustling up and down the street. Off to take care of their end of day lives. He didn’t pay them much mind as his thoughts focused on the saloon across the street where Luke was stepping back up on the boardwalk to enter.
“When were we going to meet Dan and the others?” he asked Donni as he stepped out onto the street.
Donni didn’t answer and he didn’t bother repeating the question. He took it for granted that Donni was behind him, like Carlton had told him to be, and kept his eyes on Luke. Luke entered the saloon across the street as Kelvin slowly wandered after him. Kelvin sighed and pulled his hat down to shade his eyes from the fading light. Little 2-bit town without any real action. Maybe he could still get into a game tonight, even though Carlton seemed to want them to get back to the boarding house. His palms were itching for some cards.
“I’m getting sick of all this riding around! Why don’t we settle down somewhere… maybe get ourselves a little spread. Close to someplace like San Francisco. Now there’s a town! Big casinos and bars… lots’a card games and action. Carlton could run the business end of it, he’s good at that. Hell, we could be rich in a few months I bet. Wads of money to spend… you could probably find some little rich girl and settle down, Donni… Donni?” he turned as his brother didn’t answer a second time. Of course Donni wasn’t with him. Where…
Kelvin spotted Donni back on the boardwalk a couple of doors down from the boarding house. He was carrying some packages for a well dressed, petite woman. She had to be pretty to catch Donni’s eye. Ugh… Not again. She was laughing at something he had said. Of course she was. The laughter sounding like a young woman too. Kelvin heaved a sigh of pure exasperation and hurried back toward the couple. He stepped back up on the boardwalk, called out, and plastered a smile on his face as Donni and the woman turned to greet him. Had to keep everyone in town thinking they were nice guys as he stared daggers at Donni. No fighting with him now.
Donni smiled back at him, not noticing anything amiss, his focus only on the young woman, “Kelvin, I’d like you to meet Phoebe Gatlin. Her father runs a spread outside of town. Miss Gatlin, this is my brother, Kelvin Holt.”
Kelvin, being deflected, turned to tipped his hat to the young woman, “A.. aa. pleasure, Miss Gatlin.” Finally tipping his hat. She was a striking young lady probably about his age. Emerald green eyes that were soft and inviting, a softness defying the hue of that gem stone. Eyes set in a teardrop shaped face framed by straw-colored hair. A smile welcoming and gracious that stopped Kelvin in his tracks. A lady and young woman who appeared to have been raised in this harsh country side, but gave every appearance of having been unaffected by it. From her looks she was a rare gem that bespoke of wealth, refinement, and privilege. Yet that wealth and privilege did not seem to carry over to her mannerisms. The eyes of a card shark trained to read people, trained to read intentions at the table and lies all about him, always, gathered this information quickly. It was a quick cursory assessment to be sure. At first he hoped that he would get a better chance to complete his assessment. Then realized that it would never happen with Donni around. This woman could be trouble for him and his brothers. That was easily seen. History was about to repeat… again. A cool shiver moved down his spine, no matter how hot the end of the day was. She was trouble for Donni, and the Holts, at least for the next few days.
She smiled, looking up at him, “Why thank you, Mr. Holt. It is seldom that a lady meets a real gentleman in these parts. You and your brother are just a breath of fresh air.” Her accent was definitely from this area, but it was not near as strong as others in town. She had been raised here, that was certain, but probably did not spend all of her time here. or perhaps her parents were not locals. It was a voice that could distract a man from his goals. Breaking away from her eyes and gathering his thoughts again took effort.
“Uh, Donni… we need to attend to that business for Carlton,” Kelvin said softly and shyly smiled at her. Yeah she could be trouble for them all.
“In a minute, little brother,” Donni waved him away and turned back to Phoebe. He quickly took her hand as she and Donni strolled away laughing and talking leaving Kelvin standing stunned on the boardwalk. How had he done it? He just snatched her up and walked away right in the middle of them talking. It was done that quick. So easily moving away with the most beautiful woman Kelvin had ever seen or at least he was pretty sure she was. She for sure was the most beautiful woman he had seen in the past 6 months.
Kelvin angrily kicked a rock into the street. Damn Donni Holt! Carlton would be mad and as usual he would gripe at Kelvin for not watching his older brother. It wasn’t fair. He stalked back across the street towards the saloon, fuming, getting madder with each step. Donni and dad-blasted women. Carlton and Donni had ridden together by themselves for a long time and because of that fact they seemed a lot closer than he and Luke were with them. Sure he was much closer to them than Luke, but still they had a bond from riding together for years before he escaped the family farm too. But it just didn’t seem fair that Carlton put up with Donni’s antics all the time. He would give Donni the benefit of the doubt or over look his antics, all the time telling Kelvin to watch out for him.
Of course they all took it for granted that Donni wasn’t the brightest guy in the world, but sometimes he was positively pig-headed about chasin’ women. Donni was always getting them into trouble over women, dammit, he was tired of it. Beside he never even got a chance to talk to a pretty girl with Donni around. He was tired of it and it just wasn’t fair. Carlton would not be happy that they did not stay together. He would probably blame Kelvin again too.
Kelvin stopped in the middle of the street and thought for a second. Should he go tell Carlton now or join Luke at the saloon? Sure Carlton had sent them after Luke to make sure that none of them got into trouble, but Kelvin couldn’t be in two places at once. Besides he wanted to check out the game at the saloon. Maybe it would get his mind off of his brother Donni’s antics. Surely he wouldn’t get into trouble this quick. Besides a beer might actually help to calm him down. Carlton could wait.