Jim scrambled up on the boardwalk to peer through the open door. Clumps of men chatted in the hazy room, most at the wooden bar. Benteen stood at the far end, a foot on the rail, hunched over his beer. His gaze flicked to the mirror over the bar, the doorway to the street then the doorway leading to a back entrance. The sheriff sat at a table on the far side of the room, his back to a corner. Like Benteen, he watched the room, his gaze bouncing from the doorway to the back door to Benteen. When Jim looked into the room, the sheriff's dark eyes swung to him then away.

It may have been centuries since his former body had been here but for Jim's mind, it was just a few years. He'd been in limbo then he'd been reunited with Penelope just ten years ago. For him this was all poignantly familiar and known. He eyed Sheriff Ara Barton, who alternated his duties between Northfield, Faribault and the small villages in the area. Barton was a hard, fair man who came out of the war to settle here with his wife. He lost her in the Sioux Rising and never remarried.

Jim settled on the wooden planks to regard Benteen then Barton. Not much chance to remarry. Women were scarce on the frontier and pretty women were even scarcer. A low, anxious whine escaped him as he thought of Penelope. She wasn't a stunning beauty but she could make a frontier man go a little bit crazy.

I wonder what will happen this time, the Guardian Angel in his head said.

Jim yawned. Was that you on the train? You're not how I thought you'd look.

If you were expecting fluffy wings, pious smiles and long blond hair, think again. There was a distinct chuckle echoing in his head. I wonder what will happen. This is all new. Only some parts are fixed--the bank robbery, the gang approaching and the farm. Perhaps this time she won't choose Benteen.

Then what happens to me? How do I obtain her forgiveness?

You should learn to trust us. We wouldn't put you in a situation where there isn't a chance for forgiveness.

Damn angels. They always enjoyed philosophical riddles. Don't mean to offend, but that's not much comfort. I've learned you have an odd idea of fairness.

Perhaps. We'll see what happens this time around. Now she has you to help her. Perhaps that will change the outcome.

Jim's spirits lifted at that thought. That's right. He was here.

Her faithful dog.

He sighed and resumed watching Benteen.