The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Page 21)

The Sheriff Catches a Bride (Cowboys of Chance Creek #5)(21)
Author: Cora Seton

Rose frowned. If he going to make a move after all, he wouldn’t do it in the carriage house Emory Thayer owned. He’d keep her here where they couldn’t be observed. He actually meant he wanted to drive behind her all the way into town. As if she was incapable of making it home by herself.

The buzz of longing that had grown inside her during the last couple of hours faded. On the one hand, his concern was sweet. On the other hand, his concern was… ridiculous. It was something her father would try. Or Emory. “Cab, it’s a ten minute drive,” she said gently. “I’ll be fine.”

“It’s no trouble and I’ll sleep a lot better if I know you’ve gotten home.”

“It’s barely nine o’clock.” Her voice developed an edge. Damn, she’d had fun tonight—she was on fire for him—and she didn’t want to argue, but she couldn’t let this slide. She remembered what he’d said earlier about her inability to stand up for herself.

“Humor me, okay?” He smiled and she wanted to humor him. She really did. But she was sick and tired of people telling her what to do, as if she wasn’t old enough to make up her own mind. She was twenty-four. Plenty mature to handle a ten-minute drive to town.

“It’s not necessary,” she tried again.

“It is for me. I promise I won’t even stop. I’ll drive right on by and swing back home.” He shut her door carefully and rapped his knuckles on the roof twice, as if giving her the signal that she was allowed to start her truck. Her annoyance blossomed into anger. It’d be one thing if this was a ruse to get closer to her, but it wasn’t; it was just a way to control her. What if she wanted to go visit someone else? What if she wanted to run an errand or stop and get ice cream?

What if she felt like driving in circles around Chance Creek? It wasn’t any of his business.

Damn it, why did everyone feel the need to parent her?

She stifled the urge to gun the engine and roar out of the driveway, but all she needed was for Cab to come after her with his sirens blaring. No, she’d have to handle this like an adult. Next time she saw him she’d explain that she appreciated his concern, but she didn’t need his supervision, thank you very much.

And if that didn’t work, she’d kick him.

Chapter Six

When Fila left her new friends in Washington, D.C., they begged her to come with them.

“You can crash with us,” Carla said. “We’re going to have so much fun!”

But Fila knew she had to put more distance between her and the men chasing her. That was another blessing America had to offer: its enormous size. She had money. Anna Langway had seen to that. Anna had first come to her village two years ago with a humanitarian project to immunize children against tuberculosis. Fila had managed to get her alone, and spill her story in rusty English that soon became fluent again. She told her of her youth spent in the United States. About the funeral that brought her family back to Afghanistan. About the shootings, and her delivery into Taliban hands.

Anna promised to do what she could to help, but when she came back the next year she said the organization she’d gone to for aid—Aria’s House, whose mission was to provide a home for child-brides who’d run away—had its funding cut and they had nothing to spare for her. Anna told her not to give up hope; she’d look for another way, but by the time she’d arrived in Fila’s village a third time, Fila had grown into a woman with haunting eyes and long, dark hair. Her high cheekbones and pretty figure made her stand out. Anna took one look and said, “It’s a miracle they haven’t married you off yet.”

“They plan to, next month,” Fila told her, and filled her in on all the details.

“He will be rewarded with many virgins in heaven,” she’d heard the men say of her husband-to-be. “But he will have one virgin while he remains on earth. A taste of what’s to come.”

“Aria’s House is back,” Anna whispered to her. “Aria Cruz is dead, but others have stepped in to endow it and her daughter sent a large donation.”

Fila had felt a surge of hope. Everyone had heard of Aria Cruz, the American woman who campaigned for the rights of Afghani women on her yearly trips to their country. Aria was an inspiration to those who remembered the way things were before the Taliban, when many women went to school and some even had careers outside their homes.

Aria’s work saved young girls from marriages to older or abusive husbands, but the rumor was she’d been killed by the Taliban herself. Others said a car accident claimed her life back in the United States. After Anna’s last visit, Fila had figured Aria’s House’s doors were closed for good.

So when Anna told her she’d be able to help, she counted it as a miracle and thanked God. Two weeks later, Anna passed her money, instructions and the props she needed to pull off her escape. Now she was on a train heading for Montana to find Aria’s daughter and thank her personally.

And to ask her a few questions.

For if anyone knew how to help Fila raise money to save even more women from forced marriages, it would be Aria’s daughter.

He was blowing it, Cab knew as he followed Rose’s taillights through town. She’d stuck exactly to the speed limit all the way in from Carl’s house and now she stopped at every stop sign, looked both ways and never went above thirty miles an hour. He knew Rose well enough to doubt she was usually this much of a stickler for the rules. He’d better stop and apologize for his overzealousness about her safety when they got to her house.

Or maybe he shouldn’t.

Maybe he should do exactly what he’d said he’d do and keep on driving. If he stopped, she’d think he wanted an invitation inside. Of course, he would like that sort of invitation, but not tonight; not while she was engaged to Jason.

The sleepy town dozed around them. In the living rooms where the drapes were open, the residents gathered around their televisions, but most homes were shut up tight, their curtains drawn against the wintery night.

He’d keep driving, he decided, but if he didn’t hear back from her by tomorrow afternoon about their shooting date, he’d give her a call.

Rose pulled into her driveway, climbed out of the truck and slammed the door shut. Cab had kept a respectable distance behind her as they drove into town, but she was still angry that he was there at all. If he thought he could stop at her house and she’d invite him in, he had another thought coming. She couldn’t help glancing over her shoulder, however, as Cab’s headlights swept the street as she walked up to the front door.