None of them looked remotely like a Pinkerton man. A Pinkerton agent would no doubt be wearing a proper suit. But the only male who looked the least bit citified was Ike Bruhn, home from his honeymoon with his new bride.
Sandy jiggled at his side. “Ya see ’im?”
“Nope,” Jerico grunted.
“Maybe he missed the train,” his deputy suggested.
“Naw, must be here somewhere. Look for a gent in a gray suit.” Pinkerton men always wore grey to blend in with crowds. He scanned the thronged station platform again.
“Check inside, Sandy. Maybe he slipped past me.”
His deputy jogged off and Jericho perused the crowd a third time. Nothing. Maybe Mr. Detective had chickened out at the prospect of fingering an elusive outlaw gang that was robbing trains. He narrowed his eyes and turned to check the station once more when someone stumbled smack into him.
“Oh, I am terribly sorry.” An extremely pretty young woman carrying a green-striped parasol gazed up at him. Her voice sounded like rich whiskey sliding over smooth river stones and for a moment Jericho forgot what he’d come for. She only came up to his shoulder and on her dark, piled-up hair sat the most ridiculous concoction of feathers and stuffed birds he’d ever laid eyes on.
He sucked in a breath to apologize, then wished he hadn’t. Goddam she smelled good. Soap and something flowery.
Made his head swim.
He stepped back. “’Scuse me, ma’am.”
She waved a gloved hand and peered at his chest. “Oh, you are the sheriff.”
“Yeah, I am.”
She smiled and his mouth went dry. “You are just the man I want to see.”
Jericho swallowed. “You have a problem?”
“Oh, no.” She twirled her parasol. “You have the problem. I have come to help.” She waited, an expectant look on her face.
“Help?” Jerico echoed.
“Of course.” The whiskey in her voice was now sliding over some pointy rocks. “I am Madison O’Donnell. The Smoke River Bank hired me to help catch the gang robbing their gold shipments.”
Jericho stared at her.
“I believe you were expecting me?”
He snapped his jaw shut. He sure as hell wasn’t expecting her. The last thing he’d expected was this frilly-looking female with her ridiculous hat. In her green-striped dress and twirling her parasol like that she made him think of a dish of cool mint ice cream.
“Whatever is the matter, Sheriff? You have gone quite pale? Are you ill?”
He jerked at the question. Not ill, just gutshot. “Uh, yeah. I mean No, I’m not ill. Just . . . surprised.”
She lowered her voice. “Most Pinkerton clients are surprised when they meet me. It will pass.”
Hell no, it won’t.
Madison O’Donnell picked up her travel bag. “Shall we go?”
Not on your life. “Uh, my deputy’s inside the station house. ’Scuse me, ma’am.” He strode past her without looking back. Inside, he found Sandy talking to the ticket seller.
“Charlie says nobody’s come in except the two Weatherby women. You want me to hang around and – ?”
Lynna Banning combines a lifelong love of history and literature into a satisfying career as a writer. Born in Oregon, she has lived in Northern California most of her life. After graduating from Scripps College she embarked on a career as an editor and technical writer, and later as a high school English teacher.
An amateur pianist and harpsichordist, Lynna performs on psaltery and harp in a medieval music ensemble, and she also plays cortholt, recorders, and tar (drum). She enjoys hearing from her readers. You may write to her directly at P.O. Box 324, Felton, CA 95018, USA, or at email@example.com. Visit Lynna’s website at www.lynnabanning.net.
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