Conner wanted, really wanted, to be someone other than a saloonkeeper. When he was a little boy, he'd had great dreams of going out East and training to be a doctor, or becoming a reclusive cowboy, or even being Summeridge's mayor. His father was the tavern's owner; and, up until his parents' deaths seven years ago, he'd fostered the idea of maybe, just maybe, becoming something other than the dreary road set out before him. The O'Breen tavern had seemed his lot in life, but he'd hoped that somehow, someday, he could lead his own life, instead of following the profession that was expected of him.
In fact, Conner had been in the process of saving up as much money as possible to go out East and follow his destiny when the fever struck, wiping out his parents and a few others in Summeridge.
But that was seven years ago.
All his life, Conner had secretly fanned a flame for Alina. She was so innocent, so pretty, so gentle. So many of his friends had wanted a "spicy" wife, but not so with Conner. No, Alina had been the prize of his eyes for quite some time now.
Several times, he'd almost plucked up the courage to even talk to her.
And now, that treacherous scum of a criminal was threatening Conner's dream. It wasn't for purely selfish motives that Conner wanted the villain to stay away from Alina; no, Conner was extremely concerned for Alina's well-being, and so he determined within himself that he would never, ever let the criminal so much as lay eyes on Alina. When he'd discovered the note the villain had left on Alina's door, it had been as though Conner's world tumbled down around him.
No, Conner would see to it that Alina would be safe. She deserved to be protected! She deserved to be treasured! She deserved -
It wasn't until a half-drunk customer complained loudly about the wait that Conner realized he was stalling in his work. Pushing thoughts of the pretty brunette aside, Conner hastened to tend to his customers.
Plotting to save Alina would have to wait until the tavern closed.