Copyright ©2011 Christmas Redemption by Paty Jager
Van removed his hat, knocked on the judge's door, and waited.
"Enter," announced a booming voice he'd never forget.
He clenched the hat brim in one hand and turned the doorknob with the other. He might be twelve years older, but his gut twisted with guilt like was fifteen again as he walked across the threshold and stared at the man who sent him to prison.
"What do you want?" the judge asked, lifting his gaze from the papers on the desk in front of him. Van remembered those dark, cold eyes from the trial. They scanned his person and stopped at his face and squinted. "I don’t know you. What do you want?"
Van cleared his throat. "I'd like to purchase the building next to the Red Dog saloon."
The man straightened his back and shoved the papers aside. "You do. Well, come on in and have seat."
Van crossed the room in four strides and sat in the chair in front of the desk. If he could pay cash and get out of here without the judge finding out who he was this could be a whole lot smoother than he'd presumed.
"What did you want the building for?" Judge Spencer pulled out a clean piece of paper.
"I'm a boot maker. I need a building where I can make my goods and sell them. The spot next to the saloon is on Main Street and will show off my wares."
"We have a boot maker in town." The judge frowned. "How do you propose to make payments if you're competing with him?"
"I won't make payments. I wish to buy the building outright." Van reached for his wallet inside his jacket.
The judge stared at his hand. "I'd rather make it on payments."
"I want to buy it outright. And I have the funds to do so." Why didn't the man want to sell the building?
"How'd you get all that money, Mr…"
"Donovan. Van Donovan."
The judge narrowed his eyes and peered at him. He shoved back from the desk. "When did you get out?"
"Two years ago."
Hatred glowed in the judge's eyes. What had he done to evoke such feelings in the man?
"How did you get enough money to purchase a building? You still robbing banks?"
Van shot to his feet. "No! And I didn't rob the bank twelve years ago either."
"You were an accomplice. Same thing."
"I was a mixed-up boy trying to get back at my father. I didn't realize the seriousness until afterwards. And I didn't handle the money or any weapons. I was just a lookout." Van ran a hand over his face. "I didn't come here to rehash my participation in something I've paid my dues for. I'd like to set up a business in the building you own. How much do you want for it?"
"That money was never found." The judge's point blank statement hit him like a gut punch.