Read Sweet Silken Bondage Online

Authors: Bobbi Smith

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #United States, #Romance, #Western, #Westerns

Sweet Silken Bondage (35 page)

BOOK: Sweet Silken Bondage
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Their walk back from the doctor's office had
taken them past the jail. They'd witnessed the whole
dangerous scene that had transpired there, and the
doctor had stopped to speak with Macauley about
what had happened.

"Trouble?" She questioned hoping her fear didn't
show. "What happened?"

"Some hotheads and a crowd of would-be vigilantes tried to overrun the jail and hang the prisoner. I
feel sorry for whoever started it," Dr. Rivers informed her. "The sheriff is not the forgiving sort.
He won't rest until he catches him."

"That's terrible, but thank heavens nothing serious
happened. Sheriff Macauley is a good man."

"He certainly is, and he's a smart mem, too. He
told me that he'd found out about the trouble ahead
of time and had already moved that O'Keefe fellow
out of the jail to safety. There was no hanging
tonight."

"Good," Molly tried to sound surprised and relieved.

"You take the food over to the jail from the
restaurant, don't you?" Rivers asked astutely.

"Yes, and I've come to know the man quite well
over these weeks. He seems nice enough. I wonder
where the sheriff hid him out."

"Nobody knows, and Macauley isn't saying, which
may very well be for the best, all things considered.
Now, let's see about your mother. Your brother,
here, tells me she's been sick for a few days now."

"Yes, sir." Molly led the learned man back into
her mother's bedroom.

After checking Eileen Magee completely, Dr. Rivers drew Molly out of the room, leaving Jimmy to
tend to her. He handed Molly some packets of
medicine.

"Mix this with hot tea and see that she takes at
least a good drink of it four times a day. If you can
manage it, have her take more. If there's no improvement by tomorrow night, send for me again.
Hopefully, though, this will do it."

"Yes, Dr. Rivers, thank you," Molly promised.
"And here's your money."

"Now, Molly, you'd best keep that. You might
need it."

"We owe you so much. I insist you at least let us
pay on our back bill"' Molly smiled, "that you so
kindly never mention. Please, Dr. Rivers," she
added, "let me pay a little."

"All right, child, all right." He took the money
reluctantly. "I hope your mother's better by tomorrow. This medicine should do it."

"Thank you," she said simply.

When the physician had gone from the house,
Molly quickly called Dev. "It's safe now, you can
come out."

"I thought he was never going to get here, and
then I thought he was never going to leave."

"Me, too," Molly agreed. "But thank goodness he
did come. Did you hear everything he said?"

"Yes," Dev said, frowning. "I'm worried about
Macauley. What if they come back? He's in danger,
and he's going through all of this just because of
me.

"It's his job, Dev," Molly insisted, not wanting
him to feel guilty.

"It's not his job to defend an accused murderer
from a mob of wild drunks."

"It most certainly is. You haven't been convicted
of anything! You aren't guilty of any crime!" she
defended him passionately.

Dev looked up at her, surprised by the vehemence
in her tone. "You sound like you mean that."

Molly blushed vividly, then confessed, "I do mean
it. You didn't kill Santana. I'd bet my life on it."

Her professed faith in him warmed him. He
would need the memory of that warmth when he
had to leave. "You're right, Molly. I didn't kill
Santana, but outside of Clay, you're the only one
who believes me."

"I think you might be wrong there. I don't think
Sheriff Macauley would have allowed you to go with
me like he did, if he didn't trust you."

"That's true enough, but I've got to have some
kind of proof, something that will convince a jury."

"It'll turn up, you just have to have faith," Molly
lifted glowing eyes to his.

"Faith..." Dev repeated slowly. "Sometimes it
seems so difficult to keep hoping..."

"I know, but just remember, I believe in you and
so does your friend Clay. I'll never let you down,
and neither will he, if he's half the man you say he
is," Molly promised fervently.

"Clay is, but I hope you're right," Dev sighed, not
sure whether to be elated or despairing. "He's been
gone a long time."

"Molly..." Jimmy's plaintive call summoned her
from the other room.

"I have to see to my mother," she apologized,
sorry that she had to end the intimate moment with
Dev. "Well talk more later on."

"Don't worry," he gave her a bittersweet smile. "I'll
be right here waiting for you."

Their gazes locked for a long heart-stopping moment, and then she tore herself away to see what
Jimmy wanted.

 

Bertha Harvey pinned Molly with a glacial glare
as she returned to the restaurant some time later.
"Where have you been? You've left here over two
hours ago, and I ain't seen or heard from you
since!"

Molly had practiced her story for her boss all the
way there, and she was ready to face her with her
version of what had happened. "There was trouble
at the jail while I was there. Didn't you hear about
it?"

"Trouble?" Bertha's eyes lit up at the thought of
some excitement in town. "What kind of trouble?"
Business at the restaurant had been slow, and she
hadn't heard a thing about what was going on.

"There was a vigilante mob, trying to get to the
prisoner."

"Did they?" Bertha asked avidly. She'd been waiting ages now for a hanging.

"No," she said, not wanting to explain any more
than she had to.

"What about the prisoner?"

"I guess he's all right, I really don't know."

"What do you mean?"

"Evidently, the sheriff suspected something might
happen, and he moved O'Keefe somewhere for safekeeping."

"Did you find out where he moved him to?"
Bertha pressed aggressively.

Molly was growing nervous under her demanding
questioning. "No, he didn't say."

"Did you ask?"

"No," Molly answered, wondering at her point.
Why did she care about where the prisoner was?"

"I thought so," Bertha sneered. "What use are
you, girl? Aren't you even the least bit concerned
about the business we're going to lose?"

"The business?" She was astounded at her train of
thought.

"Yes! If O'Keefe's been moved out of the jail
permanently, they won't be needing us to bring the
meals over any more. We'll be losing some good,
easy money there." In disgust the older woman
turned away.

"You're talking about money when a man's life is
at stake!" Molly couldn't stop herself from protesting
Bertha's callousness.

The old woman shot her a frosty glare and
snapped, "I care about money. I don't care about
O'Keefe. Anyone with half a brain knows the man's
a murdering thief!"

"He hasn't had a trial yet," Molly defended.

"That's just a formality. The man's as good as
hung," Bertha announced with conviction. "I'll tell
you one thing, Molly, I'll just bet those vigilantes
don't give up. If they were as angry as you say they
were, they might just keep looking until they find
him and when they do-"

Molly couldn't suppress the shiver that wracked
her as she imagined a gang of wild, vicious men
dragging Dev bodily from her home. "The sheriff
will protect him," she countered.

"One man can't stop a whole town," her boss said
nastily and then turned and left the room.

Molly felt frozen inside as she watched her go. She wondered if what she'd said was true. If the
vigilantes didn't give up and kept searching for Dev,
how would she ever be able to keep him safe? She
couldn't let anything happen to him, but what good
would she be in trying to protect him? She didn't
even own a gun!

The thought of Dev being killed wrenched at
Molly. Knowing she would be fired if she left early,
she continued to work, but all her thoughts were
focused on getting home as quickly as she could to
make sure he was still there and still safe. She knew
his survival depended on her, and it was a heavy
responsibility to bear. Tomorrow, she decided, she
would go talk to the sheriff. If he wanted her to
keep him at her home, she would, but she was
going to ask him for a gun, just in case.

Dev was nervous as he paced the front room of
Molly's home in agitation. Jimmy had been watching over his mother ever since Molly had left the
house to return to her much-needed job, so he'd
been left alone with his thoughts, and he was finding that they were not pretty as the hours dragged
by.

Dev was worried, deeply so, but it was concern
for Molly that filled him, not for himself. He knew
his presence in her home was putting her in jeopardy. The idea that he might ultimately be responsible for her being hurt in some way troubled him.
He wanted to protect Molly, not place her at risk.
He wanted to take care of her, not rely on her to
protect him.

Again, the helplessness of his situation infuriated
Dev. He was used to dealing with problems and
dangers head on. He wasn't used to hiding out and
slinking around like a thief in the night. He almost
laughed at his unwitting analogy, but the compari son was too bitterly real.

Dev paused in the middle of the small room and
sighed. It had been hard being cooped up in the
jail cell, but it was even more difficult confining
himself willingly to Molly's house. Still, though the
door was locked from the inside and there was no
one to prevent him from walking out, he knew he
wouldn't leave. Too much depended on him staying
where he was.

Molly had told him to use her bed for the night,
and though he wasn't the least bit ready to sleep, he
decided to lie down for a while. When she'd first
offered him her bed, he'd argued with her, telling
her that he'd be glad to sleep on the floor. She'd
been adamant, though, telling him that Jimmy's bed
was big enough for the two of them and that it
would probably only be for this one night.

Dev stretched out on the softness of her small
single bed, relishing its comfort after the long weeks
of sleeping on the cot in jail. The pillow and covers
held the faintest trace of Molly's own sweet scent,
and just being that close to her filled him with
warmth and a strange sense of well-being. He lay
on his back and stared at the ceiling, remembering
the way Molly had moved around both rooms before she'd left, making sure that all the curtains
were tightly closed and how she'd told him to stay
hidden in here should anyone unexpectedly show up
at the door. It had been years since anyone had
cared about him that way, fussing over him and
worrying about him, and Dev found that he liked it
very much.

Dev's thoughts drifted as he lay there. He
thanked God silently for Macauley's quick thinking
in getting him out of the jail. He liked Macauley as
much as he could under the circumstances, and he
wished him no ill.

There was the chilling possibility that the vigilan tes might keep looking for him. There was also the
chance that their activities might have stirred sentiment about him to a fever pitch and force the
sheriff to go to trial before Clay could return.

Dev grimaced at the thought of going to trial. He
knew he had no defense to offer, no proof that he'd
never been to Santana's ranch in his life. There was
only his word on it, and, considering the general
opinion of him in town, his word of honor didn't
mean much. He knew he had to accept that the
threat of his hanging was very real, yet he railed
against the injustice of it all. He had found the one
woman he could love, but until this was cleared up,
if it was ever cleared up, he could never let anything come of his feelings for her. Lost deep in his
despair, he was unaware that Jimmy had emerged
from the bedroom and was standing in the doorway,
watching him.

"How's your mother?" Dev asked, concerned that
she might have worsened and that he needed his
help. "Do you need any help?"

"She's sleeping," Jimmy answered as he continued
to study him, his expression curious. "You're him,
aren't you?"

"Him, who?" Dev was surprised to find the youth
there with him.

"The man from the jail, the man they were
wanting to hang ...O'Keefe."

Dev returned the youngster's regard in silence for
a moment, then answered with the truth. "Yes, I
am."

Jimmy nodded knowingly, seeming far older than
his eight years. "I kinda figured you were. I knew
Molly had to have a real good reason to make you
hide like that."

"I appreciate you not saying anything."

The boy shrugged. "I promised Molly, I
wouldn't." He paused, then asked boldly. "Why'd you kill Santana?"

Dev's spirits sank. Did everybody believe him guilty? I
didn't kill him," he replied quietly, "but everyone
seems to think I did."

"Why?"

"The sheriff found a part from my silver belt at
Santana's ranch and that supposedly linked me to
the crime Truth is, though, I've never been to
Santana's ranch, and I didn't shoot him. I don't
know how that evidence got there."

BOOK: Sweet Silken Bondage
4.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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