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James side and Troy standing just behind him. Unlike the people in
the colored town that they had passed on their way to James place,
this woman didn t look angry with him and Troy for being with
James. In fact, she looked right amused, a small grin curving her
plump lips.  Never thought I d see the day.
Chris didn t know what she referred to, so he turned to James and
found his mahogany complexion flushed red. In the brief time that he
had known the marshal, Chris didn t think he had seen him blush.
 Well, don t just stand there. Come on in. I ve got supper
simmering on the stove. And I guess it s a good thing I always make
extra, just in case.
 You make enough for an army as a matter of course.
She put her hands on her ample hips.  I ain t heard no complaints
from you.
 And you ain t hearing none now.
The woman folded her hands across her stomach and rocked back
on her heels, eyebrows arched.  So who is it you have here? I haven t
had the pleasure.
James motioned Troy to his side and put an arm around his
shoulder like he did Chris .  This here is Christopher Mi 
 Come here and let me look at you, chil . The woman put her
arms out like she fully expected Chris to obey so he did. He felt like
he didn t have a choice since the woman sounded like the one in
charge, despite James profession to owning the house.
As soon as Chris got within arms reach of the woman, she
grasped him around the shoulders, shook her head, and clucked her
tongue as she looked him up and down.
 Boy ain t nothing but skin and bones.
Three Men and a Bounty 115
 I m sure you can remedy that right and proper, James said.
 I m thinking that ain t the only reason you brought him here.
 Not likely.
 And what about this  un? The woman waved a hand at Troy,
who stepped forward as if summoned and gave a slight bow.
 Troy Barrow, at your service, ma am.
 Don t ma am me, though I suspect I do have some years on you.
The name s Lucy, and I run this here house when the marshal s not
here and sometimes while he is. She winked.
 Nice to make your acquaintance, ma am Lucy.
She smiled as she took the hand Troy offered and shook it.  I m
expecting you two are staying with us for a spell. It s too dangerous
to be traveling around these parts this late in the day. Although some
of us think danger is his middle name.
 We d be honored, Troy said.
Chris nodded his agreement, getting the hint that James was the
 some of us in question. He couldn t help remembering how calm
James had been when the shooting had started, how he d worried only
about protecting Chris and Troy before he d worried about himself.
Not to mention how James had saved Chris from being shot by that
Bart character.
Lucy put an arm around Chris shoulder and led him into the
house.
He smiled as he willingly followed. He liked her fiery, take-
charge attitude and sense of humor. He liked her and could see why
James had hired her. The marshal needed someone as tough as
himself to run his household. No one else would be able to put up
with his long absences and still welcome him home with a smile at a
moment s notice.
Would he be able to? Would he have to with Troy involved, too?
 My husband, Caesar, is out back in the barn seeing to the
animals. He ll be in directly, and you can meet him, too.
 Looking forward to it, Troy said, but Chris wasn t so sure.
116 Gigi Moore
Women tended to be more accepting of men like him, Troy, and
James, and Lucy in particular didn t seem fazed a bit by the fact that
James had brought home two men.
Despite the fact that Caesar obviously worked for James, Chris
didn t know how tolerant the man would be of him and Troy. He
hoped he proved to be just anxious, that his wariness was unfounded.
He didn t want to believe that anyone associated with James could be
intolerant or as hateful and mean as the men who d tried to brand him
at Whitfield s ranch.
Chris looked at his surroundings, impressed with the simple but
comfy furnishings.
The bare floors were polished to a high shine and covered with a
turquoise and burgundy Navaho rug.
A fire crackled in the stone fireplace, giving the room a warm,
welcoming glow.
Chris had just enough time to admire the living room before Lucy
rushed him and Troy through it to the kitchen where the appetizing
smells of seasoned meat, potatoes, and vegetables filled the air.
His stomach immediately started to growl.
Lucy laughed and patted him on the back.  Sounds like someone s
hungry. She turned to James and scowled.  And someone else hasn t
been taking care of this chil .
 Oh, that s not true. James is powerful good about taking care of
me. We just got& caught up in the woods and& 
James pulled Chris to his side before he could say anything else.
 I ll show these two the rest of the house and then they can wash up
and get ready to eat your delicious meal.
 Sounds like a plan, Lucy said.
Her chuckle followed them through the spacious house, and Chris
felt James grip on his shoulder tighten as if to give Chris strength.
James showed them the rooms on the first level of the house,
which consisted of the living room, kitchen, dining room, and a book-
lined study.
Three Men and a Bounty 117
Chris had never seen so many books in one place except a library.
He wondered if James had read all of them and blurted the question
before he could stop himself.
 Not all of them, but a fair amount.
Chris wandered over to the shelves, running his fingers over the
spines with a sense of awe. What it must be like to be so smart, smart
enough to read any of these books and be a U.S. Deputy Marshal. It
made him wonder what James saw in him besides a warm body. Sure, [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]