Saturday, May 8, 2010

Of Cowboys and Demons

It's not too often that the villian becomes the victim, at least not in the strickest sense of the term. But have you noticed that every once in a while, a character that you love to hate gets a huge scoop of karma, and for some reason, even though you know he has it coming, you can't help but pity the poor bastard just the least little bit?

Let me introduce you to Liam Briggs.


Tessa handed him the drink she’d brought from the bar. “Here, baby,” she whispered. “You look like you could use this.”
Liam’s steel grey eyes, as cold as ice and as deceivingly beautiful as the Devil when he tempted Eve, caught a lurid sparkle. He was an attractive man, tall and well-muscled. His ruddy coloring and vibrant red hair were in keeping with his arrogant personality and short-fuse temper.~ To Stand with Angels

a business man,

There was a loud smack as Liam’s hand came down on the table. Cameron noticed that everyone sat up a little straighter, their eyes became a little more attentive, and a collective swallow passed round the table. “Listen up. Preston might just be stupid enough to come back here and that’ll work out nicely with the little arrangement I’m gonna set up with Bodeen.”
“Bodeen?” Cameron’s incredulous snort garnered an irritated look from his brother, though he chose to ignore it. “What the hell kind of deal are you making with him? I thought you wanted him dead!”
Liam smirked and nodded his head with condescending patience. “I do. I already told you that, Cameron. But I need Preston dead first. Bodeen’s the only one fast enough to go up against him and win. He offered to do it for five grand. I think I’ll take him up on that offer.”
“Five thousand dollars?” Cameron whistled. “That’s a lot of scratch to cough up just to have Preston killed.”
“Oh, Bodeen won’t collect,” Liam stated firmly. “I’ll see to that.”~ To Stand with Angels

heavy drinker,

“Baby, do you have to discuss this now?” Tessa protested. “Why don’t you just enjoy a drink or two with the boys and forget about this whole silly business, hmmm?” She rubbed his hand, now resting on her knee, provocatively.
When she pursed her lips into a sultry pout, Liam jerked his hand free and pushed her from his lap. “Shut your mouth, Tessa,” he spat. “What’s the matter? Don’t you like hearing how I plan to kill the pretty bastard you bedded behind my back?”
As he slurred the last few words, Tessa wished she hadn’t brought him the drink. Liam was already quite inebriated and now he was fast approaching the state of sheer belligerence. Instead of telling him exactly what she thought of his ridiculous jealousy and excessive drinking, Tessa rolled her eyes and decided to play the spineless, shrinking violet for a few minutes longer to humor him.
“I really don’t care who you plan on knocking off, baby. I just thought you might like to have some fun tonight.” She touched his cheek and veiled the sudden repulsion that crept over her. “Doesn’t that sound good, Liam?” She leaned down and kissed his ear while running a finger over his lips. “You still want me don’t you, baby?” she whispered softly.
With her smile, she hinted sweet, fleshy promises. Liam closed his eyes for a second. She knew he wanted her. When he opened them again, she saw the anger. He wasn’t going to let her beauty help him forget. Tessa realized that this time, she wouldn’t be allowed to gain his forgiveness with a night of passion.
“Not tonight, Tessa,” he growled as he shoved past her and headed to the bar for another shot of bourbon.~ To Stand with Angels


Kyle paused and looked at Briggs thoughtfully for a moment. “I’ll say one thing for him,” he added, “Preston is damn good with a gun. I actually had the pleasure of making his acquaintance, briefly, a few years ago. Back when he was still on the other side of the law, that is. Saw him kill a man in a square gunfight in Tulsa about two years before I met you. I’d say from his reputation he’s made quite a list of enemies. I think more than a few men would be happy to see him and his marshal brother dead and pine-boxed. Can’t say as I’m too fond of the notion of going up against either of them in a gun fight though. Heard a few weeks back that Dawson was here in Laramie, is that right?”
“Nope. I got rid of him about a month ago. The marshal was noising around, trying to put me up on murder charges of some kind. The bastard had a nice little hunting accident. Somebody mistook him for a mule deer and shot him with a Winchester at four hundred yards.” Liam noted with satisfaction that Kyle was clearly impressed.
“No fooling?’ he asked. “You hire guns to kill all your enemies, do ya, Briggs?”
“Sure,” Liam retorted. Pride swelled in his chest and he curled his lip in a sneer. “I’m too busy running my ranch and this town to bother with a little nuisance blood letting. That’s what money is for, Bodeen.” ~ To Stand with Angels get the idea.
He's the guy you want to hate.

But then it all starts to fall apart...

Smashing open the door, Liam stopped dead in his tracks. Wes stood beside a chair that pointed toward the west-facing window. An old man with a head full of disheveled white hair sat there, his posture was strikingly stiff. Liam couldn’t see his face, because the old man’s back was to him as he sat there staring out at the black night. Glancing around the room, Liam saw that no one else was present. Confused, he shouted, “Where the hell is Cameron?”
The horrified look on Wes’s face was all the explanation Liam needed as the old man in the chair turned to face him. “I’m here, Liam,” Cameron whispered. “But I won’t be for long. Neither will you. We’re all dead men.”
Liam nearly choked on the scream that burst from his lips. His eyes went wide with terror as he saw the shell of a man that had once been his younger brother. His face was pale, his eyes were sunken and blood-shot, his lips were blue, and his hair…Liam couldn’t take his eyes off his brother’s hair. It was white. So horribly white. “Cameron! What happened to you?” he cried with mingled pity and disgust at his brother’s loathsome appearance.
Cameron sat staring into space with a blank expression on his face. Slowly a dreadful smile parted his lips. He didn’t answer. Instead, he started shaking and manic chuckling filled the room. It was hysterical and bone-chilling. Liam watched in horror, trying to hold the panic he felt rising in his blood at bay as he listened to his brother’s chuckle grow into high-pitched, frenzied laughter. Fury took Liam for one brief moment of bravado and he was across the room in two paces, pulling his brother from the chair and slapping him soundly across the mouth.
“Stop it!” he snarled at Cameron. “Stop it right now, you filthy little bastard, and tell me what the hell is going on!”
Cameron’s laughter died away, but the vacant smile remained. “He is here,” he answered simply.
“Who is here?” Liam asked the question between tightly clenched teeth. When his brother just sat staring at him with the same eerie look on his face, Liam slapped him and asked again, louder this time, “Who the hell is here, Cameron? Tell me!”
“The One who owns your soul, Liam,” Cameron answered. His tone was light and taunting, like that of a child chanting a nursery rhyme. “The One who owns my soul.” Cameron’s smile widened. “He is here.” ~ To Stand with Angels

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