Forever His Texas Bride (Bachelors of Battle Creek #3)(4)

By: Linda Broday


That is, if she wasn’t too busy trying to get his moccasins off instead.

“Why do you think it’s amazing?”

“Because it makes perfect sense. I figure if I hadn’t been born, I wouldn’t be in here for picking old Mr. Vickery’s pockets.”

“So you’re a pickpocket?” Surprise rippled through him.

“Nope. I’m a spreader of good. I don’t ever keep any of it. I take from those who have and give to the have-nots. Makes everyone happy. Except me when I get thrown in the calaboose.”

“You’re a Robin Hood.” Brett had seen a copy of the book about the legendary figure at Fort Concho. He’d learned it so he could share the tale with Toby, Rand’s adopted son. Brett had taken the six-year-old into his heart and loved spending time with the boy.

“I’m a what?”

“A person who goes around doing good things for the poor.”

“Oh. I guess I am. It makes me so sad that some people have to do without things they need and no one helps them. This past winter, my friend Davy froze to death because the only place he had to sleep was under a porch. He was just a kid with no one except me to care.”

Rayna’s unexpectedly big heart touched Brett. She seemed to speak from a good bit of experience. “Do you have a place to sleep whenever you’re not in here?”

“I get along. Don’t need you to fret about me. Worrying about them putting a rope around your neck is all you can handle. Do you reckon it hurts a lot, Brett?”

“I wouldn’t know.” Hopefully, he wouldn’t find out.

“I’ll say a prayer for you.”

“Appreciate that, Miss Rayna Harper.” She was wrong about him only having to worry about getting his neck stretched, though. He could feel himself getting weaker.

He could also feel her eyeing his moccasins again.

Pressure on the bottom of his foot made him jump. He raised his head and saw that she’d stuck one bare foot through the bars and was measuring it to his.

“Stop that,” he said with a painful huff of laughter. “Doc’ll be along soon. I’m not going to be dead enough for you to get them.”

The next sound to reach his ears was sawing and her soft, “Oh dear.”

“Why did you say that? What’s wrong?”

“The sawbones had best hurry, or you won’t be needing him. They’ve started building the gallows.”

That ticking clock in his head had taken on the sound of tolling bells.





Two


Brett must’ve lost consciousness. Panic gripped him when he came to. For a moment, he couldn’t remember where he was or why he was behind bars.

When it came flooding back, he called, “Rayna, are you still here?”

“Oh dear Lord, I thought you were dead. You haven’t made a sound for hours.” Surprise colored her voice. Clothing rustled as she moved closer to the bars separating them.

“Not dead yet, so don’t get your hopes up,” he joked weakly.

The iron door separating the cells from the sheriff’s office rattled. Footsteps sounded, then a key grated in the lock to his cell. He turned his head to see a slight, spry man carrying a black medical bag.

“Doc?” Brett murmured.

The doctor hurried to the bunk and felt Brett’s forehead. “Sheriff, he has a raging fever. This bullet has got to come out. I want him transported to my office right away.”

Brett heard the sheriff’s gravelly voice. “Nope. Ain’t leaving here.”

“Get me some light then,” the doctor snapped. “Lanterns. Three of them, plus a pail of clean water and some cloths. And quick.”

“A lot of fuss for a stinking half-breed,” the sheriff grumbled.

Doc turned Brett onto his belly, and pain shot like a thunderbolt through him. He bit down on his lip until he tasted blood to keep from crying out. He couldn’t suppress a moan though.

“It’s all right, son. Not everyone in this town shares the sheriff’s views. I’m going to take care of you.”

Compassion showed in the gentle way the doctor removed Brett’s shirt, and Brett relaxed for the first time since this nightmare began. His mind drifted like a lazy cloud on a summer’s day. His ranch and beloved horses filled his mind. The smell of lush, sweet grass surrounded him, and the vivid blue sky stretched overhead as far as the eye could see.

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