She spun back around. “You are a scoundrel, Mr. McIntyre, but I have learned my lesson. You want to own everything in this town, don’t you?” He dropped his eyes, but only for an instant. “So this is what I want.” Tilting her chin toward Mr. Ferrell, she kept her eyes on Mr. McIntyre. “I want it in writing that Mr. McIntyre cannot in anyway restrict us from the well. Also, I want monthly payments that will buy the lot in the space of one year. I’ll give you $100 for it.” [PAPERWORK AND THE LEGALITIES OF IT WERE PRETTY DICEEY BACK IN THOSE DAYS. IF IT WASN’T SPELLED OUT, IT WAS THROWN OUT.]
Mr. McIntyre snorted at the offer, but sobered quickly under her burning gaze. He studied her hard but Naomi didn’t wilt or redden under the scrutiny this time. If anything, she straightened up more defiantly.
“All right, let’s deal.” He took a match off Ferrell’s desk, struck it on his boot heel and lit the cigar. “The lot is a good acre and this is a boomtown,” he told her between puffs. “I’ll take one thousand dollars.”
“Back home you’d be hung for asking a penny over two hundred.”
“Let’s say we split the difference.” He blew a smoke ring, watched it float over their heads while he thought, and then countered with, “Four hundred.”
“And the water rights,” she demanded.
“And the water rights.”
This time they shook on the deal. Naomi couldn’t help but notice how fine and smooth his hands were, not big and calloused like John’s. Funny how hands could speak volumes about a man. She wondered when he had last done some actual physical labor or did he have a “man” for everything? [THIS THOUGHT ABOUT HANDS CAME FROM AN OLD COUNTRY SONG CALLED “DADDY’S HANDS.” MY DAD IS A MECHANIC AND HAS HANDS AS TOUGH AS RAWHIDE.]
“It’ll take me a few minutes to write that up,” Mr. Ferrel reminded them, peering over his spectacles. He looked as if he hoped they might take their obvious differences outside.
“We’ll wait,” Naomi assured him, tenacious resolution in her voice. Mr. Ferrell looked at Mr. McIntyre for the final answer.
He shrugged. “It’s fine, Davis. I’m in no hurry.”
“All right then.” The attorney sighed and pulled out a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Mr. McIntyre tapped his cigar on the ashtray then took his smoke to the window. Naomi settled back into her seat and stared into the top of Mr. Ferrell’s balding head.
“Mrs. Miller, I believe you and your sisters have arrived at an exciting time in Defiance’s life,” Mr. McIntyre offered in a conciliatory tone. “Our little town is growing. More people are coming every day. Businesses are expanding. A sixty-foot thick vein of quartz runs underneath our feet. They’ll be digging silver and gold out of the ground for another century.” She did not respond to his speech, but he kept going anyway. “We’ve already got two stages coming in every week. I’m courting the railroad as well. Yes, sir, in the not-too-distant future, Defiance could rival Denver. We have the common goal of seeing your hotel and restaurant succeed. I hope you believe that.”
She cut him a disdainful glance. “You’re not a complicated man, Mr. McIntyre. You will help us as long as it benefits you. I believe that.”
“Then we understand each other.”
“Oh, completely.” She turned her eyes back to Ferrell and focused again on his last few remaining hairs. She wondered if he’d pulled them out because of his business dealings with Mr. McIntyre. It would be entirely understandable. [ONE OF MY FAVORITE LINES IN THE BOOK. DON’T WE ALL KNOW PEOPLE WHO WANT TO MAKE US TEAR OUR OUR HAIR?]