She had packed what belongings she had. She did not know why, but she knew better than to give her name away.
From the sound of things, it was time for her to get to work, and she moved quickly down the stairs, her door left open.
Private Admunsen was sitting in the woman’s spot, clumsily dragging his fingers over the ivory keys with no sense of dynamics. The music he played was appropriate for the saloon, but there was no build-up. She wondered if the man was even interested in sex — he was the only man in the place with his hands on something other than women and drinks.
The look of disgust was evident. The woman was far from refined, but she drew the gaze of men. At this moment, she offered a displeased glare at Admunsen, who was completely oblivious of her presence.
Her steps were slow and deliberate.
Warren was just passing through. He wasn’t interested in the local rumors, just a chance at fun with any of the women occupying the saloon. His own dance ceased and a hand moved to his hat before he placed it on his chest to garner a view of the woman walking down the stairs.
Her dress was fitted and modest compared to the others’ attire, but still spoke of her profession. The emerald gown was full-length with a bustle and trimmed in black lace; arms and shoulders were bare. She was not as slender as the others and the attire accentuated the inward pull of her waistline.
Eyes matched dress; strawberry hair caressed freckled shoulders, held back in pride.
Ignoring his dance partner, Warren moved his hands to his sides as he approached the lady. He met her where she stopped: by Admunsen, the mustachioed man drunkenly attempting some entertainment at the piano.
She did not notice him. With grace, she shoved the drunkard off of the piano bench. Without waiting for him to fall, the woman took her place there, straight backed, and began to play after adjusting her bustle.
“Come on, Admunsen,” Warren said gruffly, dragging the man away. He wasn’t getting paid, so he did not exert the energy to lift the man onto a chair (after all, he’d just fall over again). Instead, Warren rested the man against a wall.
Back on focus, Warren looked at the piano and the woman who began to play. The music she wove was no less raucous, but it was imbued with emotion and experience. Warren’s eyes lingered on her hands.
He was patient. He wanted to dance, but only she would do as a partner, and so he stood there in wait, wishing he’d worn his Sunday clothes despite being in a brothel.
She was aware of his presence, and the other women didn’t mind her garnering so much attention from the men at first — for it got the fellows to dance and drink, and eventually several couples disappeared up the stairs.
When she finished the song, she was aware of the proffered hand, and did not shy from the calluses earned from weeks on the road. He had bathed, at least, though it had been several days since his last shave.
She took a minute to examine him. The man was confident, and he was still finding words. Her hand remained with his.
At last she realized the meaning of the meeting when she noted his eyes, which were a deep blue.
“At long last the sea has come to meet the land,” she spoke.