Fila shook her head and dropped her gaze to her lap again.
“She’ll stay here in Chance Creek, of course,” Claire said, her voice hard. “She’s not going back, that’s for sure.”
Hope swelled inside Rose. If Claire approved of that plan then it was bound to work out.
“It’s not going to be easy, though,” Autumn warned. “Do you have any right to be in the United States?”
“Yes,” Fila said softly. “I am a United States citizen.”
“That’s why you speak English so well,” Morgan said. “Because you grew up here.”
Fila’s relief at being understood was evident.
“You have to tell someone about those men, though,” Rose said.
They all turned to Fila and she nodded. “Of course,” she said softly.
“Won’t that be dangerous?” Autumn said.
No one answered.
“I’m telling you I saw them. Four Middle Eastern men driving right through town, as bold as can be.”
Cab resisted the urge to haul Kevin inside and lock him up in a cell beside Jason. He’d almost made it out the door of the jail when the old man came hobbling in looking for him.
“Why shouldn’t four Middle Eastern men drive through Chance Creek? It’s a free country last time I looked.” He had to get back to Rose and sort things out with her, before she drove herself wild with recriminations and self-doubt. He had to find the woman Jason managed to lose, too. This Fila person.
“Because they were looking for trouble. Anyone could see that.”
“Four men driving through town does not mean trouble,” Cab said, “or there’d be trouble every day of the week.”
“They were looking for something,” Kevin said. “Probably looking for the best place to plant a bomb.”
“Time to call it a night, old man.” Cab was pushed to his limit.
“Who you calling an old man?”
“No one.” Cab sighed. “Let’s get you home.”
“Aren’t you going to look for them?”
“No, I’m going to go home and check on Rose. She’s had a rough day.”
“Home. You mean Carl’s place? You left her there alone?” Kevin said. “At night? With all that fancy art and stuff he’s got in his house? I bet those crazy foreigners are heading out there to rob the place. How do you think they buy those bombs?”
“For the love of God.” Cab turned on the older man. “There are no terrorists in Chance Creek. There will be no attacks. I’ve been on my feet all day and I’m tired. Maybe if you did a lick of work you’d know what that’s like.” He regretted the words instantly and reached out as Kevin turned away. “Now, hold on there, Kevin. I’m sorry…”
“No.” Kevin shook his head, leaning heavily on his cane. “I know I’m not good for much these days, Cab. You don’t have to pretend otherwise. I do what I can. I like to think I’m watching out for the town if nothing else. Lived here my whole life.”
“I know that, and I’m sorry I was tense with you. Let’s get you home.”
“Let’s go to Carl’s first. I’ll help you check it out.”
“Not tonight.” Cab helped the man to the front seat of his truck and drove him home through the quiet streets. First Jason’s appearance, then his insistence on the existence of a woman in Alan’s cab who obviously was never there, now Kevin’s nonsense. What a night. He couldn’t wait to get home.
He hoped Rose was still there.
When they reached Kevin’s house he helped the old man up to his door and saw him inside. As he returned to his truck, his cell phone rang. “Yeah? What is it?”
“Cab? It’s Alan. You’re not going to believe this. I’ve been debating for an hour whether to call you or not. I feel like an idiot…”
“Spit it out, Alan,” Cab said, but he had a sinking feeling he knew what the man was going to say.
“Did you happen to see a woman at your house after I left? I totally forgot about her, what with Jason taking a swing at you and all the hullaballoo. I didn’t think to even check the back seat until I was back to town and then she wasn’t there.”
“Who wasn’t there?”
“The woman with Jason. The one who was supposed to go to the Cruz ranch. Said she was looking for Claire?”
Hell. “No, I didn’t see her, but Jason mentioned her, too. I’ll go look into it.”
“Let me know when you find her,” Alan said. “I should have called earlier. I should have gone back.”
“Don’t worry. We’ll sort it all out.” Cab clicked the phone closed. A knock on his window nearly startled him out of his skin. He bit back a swear word as he rolled the window down. Kevin leaned inside, gesturing to Cab’s phone.
“Was that about the terrorists?”
“She should stay here,” Rose said. “Cab’s the sheriff; she’ll be safe with him.”
“At the ranch we’ve got Rob, Jamie and Ethan,” Morgan countered. “We can call Rob’s brothers, too, and the hired hands. We can have an army over there to protect her.”
“She should be in town,” Claire said. “That’s much safer than on one of the ranches.”
“What does Fila want to do?” Autumn broke in.
All eyes turned to where Fila sat sipping the hot tea Rose had made for her. Fila scanned their faces. “I know I must speak to the police. I will… tomorrow.” She turned a pleading gaze to Rose. “I have traveled so far. I am tired.”
“Of course,” Autumn said. “You need a good night’s sleep and then you can face everything in the morning. I’ll call Ethan and get all the men together. You’ll be surrounded by guards,” she assured her.
Fila shook her head, tears gathering in her eyes again. “I have been surrounded by guards for more than ten years. Please… let me have one night…”
The other women glanced at each other. “But you need to be safe,” Morgan said gently.
“I know where to take her,” Rose said, and Fila lifted her gaze to hers, relief flooding her face. She nodded and Rose knew they were thinking the same thing.
“Where?” Claire said.
Rose took a breath. “That’s what makes it perfect; even you won’t be able to guess where it is. But it’s safe, I guarantee it. No one will ever find us there.”