Flirting With The Law (Outlaw Brides Book 1)By: Vanessa Vale
“Are you sure you wish to do this?” I asked, glancing down at the two women before me, my damp hands smoothing down my dress even though it didn’t need it. We stood on the shady side of the Mercantile, just around the corner from the Rollinsville bank. The air was quite warm and being as anxious as I was, sweat dripped down between my breasts beneath my silk dress. On the outside, I appeared calm, or at least I hoped I did, but on this inside, I was shaking like a leaf.
Tara and Amanda were so young and innocent, even after two previous robberies. We were just about to commit the third. Hopefully, the last. If we were successful this time, we’d be able to walk away, never break the law again. Yet I’d still corrupted them. It had been my idea. All of it.
Norman Rollins had been the one who forced us to be criminals. We’d had no choice. He’d ruined us all. We’d been left with nothing. Families destroyed. Destitute. We were just getting back what rightfully belonged to each of us so we could survive. They had parents to return to, brothers and sisters, albeit much poorer, but I had no one. Mr. Rollins had seen to that as well. I was focused on revenge.
“You can change your mind,” I offered. One last chance. We’d gotten away twice, but there was always a chance we’d be caught. A very big chance. If I were a gambler, I’d say the odds weren’t in our favor.
I took a deep breath, hoped the smile on my face wasn’t as brittle and false as it felt. I hated robbing banks. It wasn’t in my nature to steal, but I had to do it. I was driven to. My anger pushed me.
But Tara and Amanda? They could walk away now. I would understand if they changed their minds.
We could be caught. I wasn’t sure if a connection was made between the various banks, all of them belonging to Mr. Rollins, and there was a chance the law was waiting for us. To catch us in the act.
I didn’t want either of them to feel guilty for changing their minds. They hadn’t yet, but I had to be sure. Each time, I asked. I was doing this, with or without them. I wanted to see Mr. Rollins suffer and taking his money was certainly a way to do that for someone so miserly. I could just shoot him and be done with it, but that would be too easy for him. I wanted him to know what it felt like to be helpless and broken. I wanted everyone to know what he’d done, the kind of man he really was.
“You look very pretty today,” Tara replied, adjusting the ribbon for her hat beneath her chin. “That shade of blue looks fetching with your dark hair. And the silk.” She sighed with obvious envy.
I was lost a moment in her change of topic, but I agreed with her. It was a lovely dress, the nicest dress I owned. Before Mr. Rollins wanted Daddy’s ranch, we’d been well off enough to have a few finer things. This dress had been one of them.
“We’re robbing a bank. I don’t think her dress is something we should be considering now,” Amanda scolded. She eyed my outfit. “It does look nice on you.”
I tried not to roll my eyes. What we were about to do…again, was not smart. It was downright idiotic, illegal and something completely out of our elements. Although, we seemed to be rather proficient at it since we’d successfully robbed two banks in the southwest corner of the Montana Territory. To me, that didn’t matter. I was driven by my anger and need to destroy the bank’s owner and if I needed to be an outlaw to do it, so be it. Even though they assisted in the robberies, Tara and Amanda weren’t outlaws. Not really. I doubted they ever missed a church service. It just continued to surprise me they were prepared to be accomplices in another bank robbery. I had to wonder what they’d told their families they were up to.
We’d devised a plan, but I doubted it was anything like the infamous James Gang’s routine. It had worked. Twice. No bank teller expected a well dressed woman to pull a gun on him. We’d used that to our advantage, but I doubted Tara or Amanda knew the gravity of our actions. They were young, not quite twenty and blatantly naive. Looking at them now, I worried for them. The weight of the revolver in my reticule was nothing compared to the guilt upon my shoulders. I was corrupting them with my own reasons for action. Yes, Mr. Rollins had taken their families’ ranches too, but they still actually had family. I wanted Mr. Rollins to be destroyed, just as he’d destroyed my father. But was this the way to go about it, pulling them in as accomplices?