Authors Note: Readers, I made up a fictional (to my knowledge) town for this story. I have done some research on the time period so I will try to keep things as factual as I possibly can. Please note however that this story is fictional and a work of my imagination. Thank you and enjoy. Feel free to review.

Nevada- April, 1900

Eleanor grabbed her belongings and quickly stuffed them into her trunk. She needed to leave before he came home. Yes, she had to be gone.

She quickly hurried out the door and stuffed her trunk in the runabout, making sure to tie it as tight as she could.

There was no turning back now. As soon as she pulled away from the manor, she knew she could never turn back. Her brown hair flicked with the light breeze and she quickly dabbed away the tears from her eyes with her handkerchief. A new life, a new name and a new identity; that's what she needed so that she could never be found. She couldn't risk being found.

She was going to make sure of that…she could never be found.

X~X~

California- September, 1900

Nathaniel Crowe stepped off the ship and took in the sweet smell of the salty ocean air. How long had it been since he was last here in Ridgeview?

He walked off the dock and went up to the buggy that was piled with his luggage. "Hey, you, is this all my luggage?"

The young man turned and looked at Nathaniel's tall stature and sophisticated manner of dress. It was obvious this man was made of money. "Yes sir, it is," he answered proudly. Perhaps if he was nice he'd get a nice tip.

"Good, take it to the Meryton and have it all put in my room. Make sure that those trunks stay in pristine condition." Nathaniel handed three silver talents to the boy and immediately the boy began driving to buggy towards its destination.

"My god Nathaniel, you'll blind all these people if you keep showing off all your money," chuckled a man.

Nathaniel looked at the man and smiled. "Chester, it's so good to see you. I can't help if I feel like being in a giving mood. What say you take me to one of the nice establishments here in town and get something to drink?"

Chester smiled and ran a hand through his grey hair, "Very well Nate but only because I owe you from the last time you were here."

They climbed aboard the runabout and Chester instructed the driver in which direction to go.

"How is the family Nate? Is your mother all right?" asked Chester.

Nathaniel took out his pocket watch and checked the time. "My mother is the same as always. In fact, the entire community is doing well."

Chester shook his head, "I don't know how you did it but perhaps the smartest thing you ever did was buy that land. You own your own city now."

"Yes, it was quite an expense but luckily my father left me plenty of coin to do that. I've never been as satisfied as I am now."

Nathaniel Crowe was a rich man indeed. Nathaniel's father died when he was fifteen and left Nathaniel a considerable inheritance. Even as a young man he knew he wanted to do something great. So he ventured the states, looking for the perfect place to build what would be his legacy. He eventually came across Washington and met a man named Sylvester Hunter. The opportunity then presented itself. He spent most of his inheritance of this land, and over the period of fifteen years, Nathaniel build a wall, named his settlement and began building homes.

He could now happily state that he had thirty-five families living in Summerfield. The project itself was tiring and but productive. Summerfield functioned the way an actual city did. There were small shops, law enforcement and even a church. His dream of creating something from nothing came true and now he could sit back and watch as his "community" blossomed.

"I've been meaning to take a trip out there again. I yearn to see everyone again," remarked Chester.

"I find that after a long business trip, there's really no other place I'd rather call home than Summerfield," said Nathaniel.

Their vehicle stopped in front of a gambling hall, one of the many in Ridgeview. "Good lord Chester, it feels like it's been so long since I've been here," remarked Nathaniel.

"Yes but you haven't missed out on much. Everything is the same. Even the ladies are the same," said Chester, his eyes twinkling knowing full well his companion was wondering if Lola would still be here.

"Good, I'm glad. I promised the lady I'd come back and see her again."

"I think you'll find this place much more fun than last year. They've added a section to the back of the hall which features women dancing in the nude! And not only that, but they've settled some girls from the saloon here."

Nathaniel smiled. "I'm also glad to hear that. I've been traveling on that goddamned ship for nearly nine months! What do you say we take tonight and toast my return to this wonderful city?"

Chester took a seat at one of the tables. "I couldn't have said it any better myself."

After several drinks, Chester took his friend to the back of the hall, to a room where several women danced on platforms. Several men sat around the platforms enjoying the view as the women undressed and danced.

"Isn't this great?" asked Chester. Chester's round face was flushed and his eyes were bloodshot. He had had too much to drink

"Out of all the halls I have visited over the years, this is perhaps one of the best," Nathaniel said.

Chester hiccupped and looked down at his gold pocket watch. "It is nearly midnight Nate. I must get back to Abigail before she starts to worry."

Abigail and Chester had only been married a short five months but Chester, unlike most men, treasured his marriage and respected his wife. He'd never stay out too late and hadn't laid with another woman since his wedding. He was faithful and good to Abigail; traits Nathaniel respected.

"Yes, yes go on home. I'll stay here and flag down a cab when I decide to go back to my hotel," Nathaniel told him.

Chester hiccupped again, "Very well Nate, I'll see you tomorrow for us to go over our business affairs."

After his companion had left, Nathaniel watched the lovely ladies dances, but then suddenly, the flames of beautiful red hair caught his eye.

She was dancing on the platform to the side of him. She had milky white skin, pouty lips and green eyes. Her body was curvaceous and the white sheer gown she was wearing hugged every curve of her body. The way she moved her body mesmerized him. She was breath-taking.

He stood and moved closer to the platform and watched her, taking in every exquisite glance she cast in his direction. How much would he have to pay to spend the night with her?

He waited for her near the exit of the hall. It was early morning; had to be nearly 4 am. The dimly lit streets provided a mask of stealth and mystery as he waited. In all his thirty-years of life, there had never been a woman he couldn't have. He was a rich and powerful man and it all emanated from him the moment a woman set their eyes on him. He was a catch. He was 6'1 with dark hair with smoldering hazel eyes. He was long and lean but he was not fragile. For years, he helped build Summerfield and the hard work was evident on his muscled arms. The contours of his muscles defined the man and made him appear all that more powerful. He often walked with a cane, not because he needed the aid, but because it added to his person. The loftiness radiated the moment he entered a room. It was attention he was rather proud of. Pride, however, is a sin.

He heard footsteps. He turned, hoping to see the gorgeous red-headed dancer. However, he was surprised when the side of a revolver collided with his skull. He fell backward in utter shock as his assailant kicked him in the stomach. Nathaniel heard a loud, piercing scream and he turned to see the red-headed dancer running as another assailant came out of the darkness and grabbed her.

'My god, they're going to rape her!' he thought.

He immediately reached over and grabbed the leg of the man standing on his neck and twisted it. The man yelled in pain and fell to the ground. Nathaniel took this moment to quickly stand up and hit his attacker until the man fell unconscious. He quickly looked over to the where he saw the red-head and could see through the darkness she was being dragged away.

He picked up the revolver his attacker had dropped and pursued them. He found them, moment later, near the Bower factory. He ran to them, punching the man square in the jaw. The red-head screamed again and the attacker turned to counter against Nathaniel but Nathaniel quickly grabbed his arm and twisted it until a loud crack was heard. Nathaniel grabbed the man by the neck. "Leave now or I will kill you," he hissed.

He threw the man to the ground and the man grabbed his injured arm and took off running. Defeated…

He looked at the red-head. Her blouse was twisted and torn; fragments of her corset could be seen. She put a hand to her chest and Nathaniel could outline the lumps of skin heaving; threatening to pop from the corset.

"Are you alright?" he asked softly.

She was in shock. "He found me, he's going to find me…" she whispered.

"Who's going to find you?" he prodded.

Suddenly, her green eyes looked up at him; the fear she was experiencing clearly written in them.

"I must go," she stated.

"No, wait, please. Let me help you."

"No, leave me alone." She moved away from him.

"It's not safe for you to be walking in the dark by yourself," he told her, "let me take you home."

"No, leave me alone please."

He sighed. "You said someone was going to find you. I can take you somewhere safe. Somewhere no one can find you."

She immediately turned and looked at him. "Where can you take me?"

"I own my own 'city' if you will, there's a large gate around it, to protect from outsiders. Please, let me take you there. You'll be safe."

"I don't even know who you are. Why should I trust you?" she eyed him suspiciously.

He quickly wiped his hand on his shirt and put his hand out. "My name is Nathaniel Crowe."

She softly grabbed his hand and shook it. "Ruby." She stated simply.

"Ruby," he echoed, "Ruby, I mean you no harm. Let me take you somewhere safe. If not to Summerfield, then come with me and stay with me at my hotel tonight."

She made a face of disgust and turned away.

"Ruby, I was waiting for you tonight. I want to pay you to stay the night with me. We don't have to be intimate; I just want your company."

"Mr. Crowe, just because I am a whore does not mean…"

Nathaniel immediately cut her off. "I don't think you're a whore Ruby. I just want your company. I'm a very rich man and this is my first night in Ridgeview in nearly a year. I'd like some company and I'd like it even more if it's you."

She scoffed. "You don't know a thing about me."

He walked towards her a bit. "I know you're in some sort of danger and are worried about being found. I am a very powerful man Ruby, I can protect you. I can make sure you are never found."

"You swear that?"

"I do," he said, "Come live with me and I'll keep you safe."

"Must I lay with you?" she asked.

Nathaniel smiled a bit. "It's always an option Ruby."

She looked around. Ruby wanted more than anything to be safe and Nathaniel knew it. This was the perfect deal. She examined him, taking in his masculine jaw line, thick muscled arms, brooding hazel eyes and full mouth.

"It's a deal," she said.

Nathaniel smiled. "I promise I won't fail you."

Ruby hoped he was right.