Read Train From Marietta Online

Authors: Dorothy Garlock

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #FIC027000

Train From Marietta (3 page)

BOOK: Train From Marietta
3.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

The sounds of the train grew fainter until there was nothing left but the sound of her racing heart.

“You’ve been following me,” Katherine said accusingly.

“I knew it! You were paying attention to me. You like me, huh?”

“About as much as I like a toothache.” She slowly reached up, gingerly felt her ear. It stung when she touched it.

“Ah, come on … you were givin’ me the eye on that platform. I saw you.”

“If you think that, you’ve got scrambled eggs for brains.”

“You think so? Way I see it, I handled this pretty darn smart. I didn’t even have to force you from the car. I just sat back and watched you get off the train. I didn’t have to do a damn thing. You come along gentle as a lamb and ain’t no one the wiser. Bet you feel pretty dumb now, don’t ya? Who’s the smart one?”

“If you touch me, my father will hunt you down and kill you.” The fear that she felt when she’d first been taken was slowly receding. Now anger began to take its place.

“Big deal. I ain’t afraid.”

“Why are you doing this? I don’t know you.”

“But I know you,” the salesman said as he sat on his haunches, waving the gun around. “I’ve seen you go in and out of John Tyler’s office a buncha times. You even smiled at me once, and I followed you for a whole block.”

“You’re lying. I wouldn’t smile at someone as sleazy as you.”

“Well, lying or not, I’ve got you now, don’t I?” He grinned proudly.

Katherine decided it was useless to try to talk with this disgusting creature. She thought about the tall cowboy and wished that he would suddenly appear. But that was not to be; minutes later she found herself sitting on the ground, her back to a small tree, with her hands tied around its trunk.

“If you’ll be quiet, I won’t gag you. Let out one squeak, and I’ll stuff a dirty rag in your mouth.” It was getting lighter now. She figured an hour or two had passed since she left the train. She leaned her head back against the tree to try to relieve some of the pressure on her bound arms, but was instantly alert when the salesman came near and tickled her cheek.

“Get away from me, you slimy toad!”

He only laughed and tickled the other cheek.

To her relief, he went back to a small fire and fed it more sticks. She could hear the crackle of the flames, and a thin stream of smoke rose toward the blue sky. She hoped he knew what he was doing, or he could set the woods on fire.

Staring intently at the salesman, Katherine tried to think if she had ever seen him near her father’s office, but she could not remember him. Why had he taken her? What was happening?

Her ears picked up the sound of a motorcar approaching, and she wondered if she dared to scream if it came near. The sleazy little worm still had the gun and could shoot her. Was it worth the risk?

Finally the motorcar came into view. The big black sedan stopped not twenty feet from where she was tied. She called out, “Help! Help me!” and saw the salesman double over with laughter.

Katherine couldn’t believe her eyes when a familiar figure got out of the car. “Eddy, help me!” she called, pulling desperately at her restraints.

The handsome blond man was dressed in jeans, boots, and a western-type shirt. With a look of concern, he walked toward her, went behind the tree, and cut the rope binding her hands.

“Oh thank God! This little weasel tied me to the tree and hit me, Eddy! He hit me in the face!”

Eddy reached down and helped Katherine to her feet. She stood within his protecting arm and glared at the man tending the fire.

“I thought I told you not to hurt her,” Eddy said.

“Ah shit, I didn’t hurt her much. I was just tryin’ to keep her big mouth shut. Besides, she started it. Look where she bit me,” he said, and held out his hand.

“He put it over my mouth, Eddy. What did he expect?” Suddenly the strangeness of the situation struck her. “Wait. Wait just a minute. What’s this all about? What are you doing here, Eddy?”

“Just relax, Kate.”

“I can’t relax! Why did he take me from the train? He’s been on the same train with me since New Orleans. Was he following me?”

Squirrelly got up and threw a handful of sticks into the fire. “Would you believe how dumb she is? She got off the train all on her own when we stopped at the midway watering tank. I didn’t have to do a thing. Now she’s standin’ here thinkin’ that you come to rescue her. You got rocks for brains, sweetheart.”

“Keep quiet, Squirrelly,” Eddy said with a hard look.

“Do you know this slimy little worm, Eddy?” Katherine asked.

Eddy was embarrassed and looked away from her. “Come on, Kate, get in the car.”

It was then that she noticed the man sitting behind the wheel of the motorcar. He didn’t look at her. All she could see of him was a scar that ran down the side of his face. Eddy opened the back door of the car and stood waiting for Katherine to get in.

“I don’t understand this! Please, Eddy, tell me what’s going on.” The fear that she felt when Squirrelly had taken her from the train began to return. She had so many questions that she couldn’t begin to count them, but two kept coming back.
Why is this happening, and why is Eddy here?

“You’ll not be hurt, Kate, I promise.”

“But I’ve missed my train.”

“You’ll just be a couple of weeks late getting to San Francisco, that’s all. We’ll stay out here in the country for a little while. Maybe we can even do some hunting. They tell me there’s plenty of deer out here.”

“You know I don’t like to hunt.”

“Then why did you make all of those trips to John’s lodge if you didn’t like to hunt?”

“I just went to keep him company and cook for him.”

“Didn’t you ever use that expensive rifle he bought you?”

“I shot some bottles and tin cans.”

Eddy laughed. “The way John was bragging about you, I thought you had shot a moose!”

“Well, I didn’t,” Katherine said with a frown.

She didn’t like this. Not one bit. Edwin Jacobs had been courting her sister, Susan. She had never been attracted to him, although he was charming. Why was he here? How did he know this Squirrelly character?

“Eddy, what is going on?”

“Kate, please. Just trust me,” he answered, holding out his hand.

In the end, she realized that she didn’t have a choice; she had to trust him or, at the very least, go along with him. She couldn’t get away. The only thing to do was bide her time and wait for her chance. She took Eddy’s hand and got into the backseat. He slid in beside her.

After putting out the fire, Squirrelly got into the front seat, turned, and leered at her. He held up his hand and there, hanging from his fingertips, was one of her lace bras.

“Look at what I got.”

“Give that to me, you pervert!”

“Pervert? What’s that mean? She talks pretty fancy, don’t she?”

“Give it to her,” Eddy said sternly.

Squirrelly grinned, showing a large gap between his front teeth. “And if I don’t?”

“Give it to her now, Squirrelly.”

“I got my orders from the top guy; I ain’t takin’ no orders from you.”

“I’m in charge out here. You’ll take orders from me.” Eddy reached over and grabbed the bra from his hand. “How did you get this anyway?”

“Oh, she gave it to me. She’s sweet on me, ain’t you, darlin’?”

“I am not! My valise came open on the train, and everything spilled out. I stuffed this one in my pocket, and he grabbed it when we were struggling.” Katherine took the bra from Eddy and tucked it back into her coat pocket. “I really want to know what is going on! Why are you with these men, Eddy?”

“I’ll tell you all about it later, Kate.”

The car was traveling at a fast clip down a rutted road that snaked between the trees. The sun had risen in the sky, and the day was already getting hot. “Cover her eyes.” The voice came from the man behind the wheel.

“Right.” Eddy whipped out a scarf and tied it over her eyes. “Sorry, love, but this is necessary.”

“But—”

“Don’t be scared, nothing’s going to happen to you.”

Katherine was quiet as the car bounced along the rough road. Silence filled the vehicle. Periodically Eddy gave her hand a squeeze, but it did little to make her feel any less uneasy. After what seemed like an hour, but was probably only half that, the car came to a stop. She heard two doors open as the men in front got out, and then the door opened on her side of the car. A hand reached in and yanked her out. “Don’t touch me!”

“Well, la-di-da, ain’t she a fine lady.” She recognized Squirrelly’s voice.

She heard Eddy get out of the car, and then one of his hands was on her waist. “Come on, honey.”

“Where are we, Eddy? Why do I have to have my eyes covered?”

“I don’t see any reason for them to be covered now.” Eddy jerked the scarf off.

She blinked in the bright morning sunlight. When she was able to focus her eyes, she saw that they were in front of a rough log cabin, with one door and one window on the front. It stood alone, surrounded only by rocks and trees. She was in the middle of nowhere.

“What is this place?”

“It’s the Waldorf-Astoria!” Squirrelly said, and giggled.

“You’ll be all right here. I’m staying with you,” Eddy said reassuringly.

“Me too.” Squirrely giggled again, this time licking his lips.

Katherine shot him an angry glance, which set him tittering even more.

How could Eddy expect her to stay in the same place as that fool? Why was she here? What were they going to do with her?

Eddy turned and pointed back toward the car. “Let’s get our things—”

Seeing her chance, Katherine jerked away from him and ran up a small incline of rock at the side of the house. This might be her only chance. She had to make it count!

Running and stumbling on the loose rock, Katherine tried to break away. It was hard going, but slowly she made her way up the small hill. Halfway to the top, her foot slipped and she fell. The sharp rock cut her knees, but she jumped back up and kept moving.

As she neared the top of the rise, she felt a hand grab hold of her ankle.

“Now, where do you think you’re goin’?” Squirrelly’s voice came from behind her.

Quickly, and with all the strength she had, she kicked her foot back, feeling the heel of her shoe connect with something solid. Squirrelly let out a shout and a string of curses as he fell and then slid down the rock.

With her legs churning, the pain from the small cuts forgotten, she reached the top of the hill. Before her lay a vast area of small trees and shrubs. She had hoped that she would be near a road, another house, or that she could catch a glimpse of someone. Instead, there was nothing. Tears of disappointment filled her eyes.

“Where you gonna go?” a gravelly voice said from behind her.

Katherine spun around to see standing on the hillside the scar-faced man who had driven the car. She’d not heard him on the rocks! Hard eyes stared at her. They reminded her of the eyes of a wolverine she’d seen at the zoo.

“People that live in these parts respect what’s out there,” he said, low and menacingly. His hand reached to his belt and grabbed the hilt of a knife, slowly pulling it free. The sound of the blade sliding from the scabbard chilled her. He held the large knife out to his side so that she could see it clearly. “You ain’t got no respect.”

A bead of sweat slowly ran down her cheek. She didn’t know if it was from the heat or the fear that sliced through her.

“But this here’s something you better respect,” the scarred man continued. “’Cause if you don’t…,” he said, and made a slashing motion with his arm.

“Hayden!” Eddy yelled, scrambling up the hill. “There’s no need for that. Kate was just coming back down to the house. Weren’t you, Kate?”

“Yes. Yes, I was,” she answered, making her way back down the rocky hill. Hayden was dangerous! Even now he still had the knife out, his eyes boring holes into her.

“Put the knife away, Hayden,” Eddy ordered.

Silently, his eyes never leaving Katherine, Hayden slid the knife back into its scabbard. Without a word, he turned on his heel and headed back toward the car.

She stifled an impulse to thank Eddy for his help. Why should she thank him? He appeared to be in on this bizarre plot, whatever it was.

“Bitch! I’m not forgettin’ this!” Squirrelly had stumbled to his feet, his handkerchief held to his nose, a crimson stain of blood on the white fabric. His clothes were covered in dust and dirt from his tumble down the hillside.

“Shut up, Squirrelly,” Eddy said sternly.

“To hell with that! She’s gonna pay!”

“I said shut up!”

Squirrelly stared at them for a moment, the hatred evident in his eyes. He kept dabbing the handkerchief against his nose before he, too, stalked off toward the car.

“Eddy, I …,” Kate started, but no further words came.

“Don’t mess with those two, Katherine. They’d just as soon hurt you as look at you. Just do what we say, and everything will be fine.”

His tone was comforting. Katherine didn’t know if she’d ever been more confused in her entire life.

Edwin grabbed her by the elbow and led her into the cabin.

Chapter 3

“N
EXT STOP, MUDDY CREEK!”

At the sound of the conductor’s voice, Tate sat up and looked out the window. The first scattering of small houses came into view. The train would soon be pulling into the station. He stood and pulled his satchel and a large paper sack down from the rack above the seat, slung the bags over his shoulder, and started to move toward the back of the train.

He made his way through the other passengers who were gathering their belongings. When he reached the end of the car, he looked for the woman whose bag he’d dumped. She wasn’t in her seat.

He stood on the small platform that separated the cars and waited for the train to come to a stop. He peered through the door into the car behind him but saw no sign of her.

Tate hoped Jorge would be waiting for him. He’d sent a message ahead from Fort Davis to the Muddy Creek station agent asking him to notify Jorge Gomez to meet him today. If the message hadn’t gone through, he would be stranded here for the rest of the day.

BOOK: Train From Marietta
3.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Vida by Patricia Engel
Elly In Bloom by Oakes, Colleen
The Stronger Sex by Hans Werner Kettenbach
The Shifting Tide by Anne Perry
Head Over Heels by Lena Matthews
El laberinto de la muerte by Ariana Franklin
La secta de las catacumbas by Nicola Fantini
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett