did you come?” he asked, as they strolled along the boardwalk like they had nowhere to go, no place to be, nothing to hide. Beneath the horrible bonnet, she frowned. “What?” “You should have taken Mikhail and disappeared. There wasn’t anything you could do for me.” “Obviously there was. You’re out, and the man who put you there is in.” Her frown turned into a smirk. “Ass.” Alexi wasn’t certain if she was referring to him or Pardy, and it didn’t really matter. “Where is Mikhail?” “Waiting outside of town.” She lifted a hand before he could speak. “Far enough away not to be found. He has done this before.” She was right. “How did you know what to say to the sheriff?” he asked. Cat let out an exasperated huff, sounding exactly like a wife great with child should sound—or at least what Alexi imagined one would sound like. “Everyone in town was talking about what had happened. Who Pardy said you were, what you’d done. And what you said in return.” Alexi paused, and Cat tugged him along at her side. “Don’t stop! We need to get out of sight.” Since she was right, he continued walking, but his mind was too full of questions to remain silent. “You heard what Pardy said I’d done.” She nodded; the brim of the bonnet flopped into her eyes, and she shoved it out. “Didn’t sound like you.” “Doesn’t mean it wasn’t.” “How true.” “Then why did you risk yourself to get me out?” “You wouldn’t have left me there.” It wasn’t a question; she believed he would have done anything to release her if she’d been the one in jail. Was she right? Probably. “What if the marshal hadn’t believed you?” “He’d have hung you, and I’d have cried.” “Over Jed?” he murmured. “Or Alexi?” She cast him a quick glance from beneath the limp, ugly bonnet. “Does it matter?” He thought it did. But he wasn’t sure why.
By the time they reached the hotel, Alexi was behaving so strangely Cat’s skin started to itch. Was someone watching them? Following them? Was that target she felt on her back real? “How long should we stay?” she asked. “Until full dark at least.” Cat understood why, but she didn’t like it. She wanted out of this town. Yesterday. They strolled through the lobby, heads together, murmuring like the lovebirds they weren’t. Alexi nodded to the clerk, who’d been here when the signora arrived but obviously hadn’t been when Jed had since the man stared at them without recognition. “Jed and Meg Nelson.” Alexi held out a hand. “Room twelve.” The clerk handed over the key after a quick glance at the register. Alexi’s scribbled name was so illegible, it could be anything, even Jed and Meg. Another trick of their trade. One never knew when an identity might need to be changed middodge. Once they were inside, Cat’s gaze circled the room, which was exactly the same as hers, right down to the deck of cards sitting in the center of the table. She crossed to the window, through which a tepid breeze blew. Tossing off her bonnet, she stuck her head out, banging the “baby” against the casing. She wasn’t used to having all this extra front. She reached around to remove her costume, and Alexi snapped, “Leave it.” Cat started and glanced over her shoulder. He was closer than she’d thought. Very close. “Why?” “All we need is for someone to knock on the doorand you’ve…” He waved vaguely in the area of her midsection. “Lost the baby?” He winced, and she heard what she’d said. The words gave her a strange, hollow feeling. But what was his excuse? Cat tilted her head. She couldn’t decipher his expression. His face seemed so…different. The bruises, she thought. She’d never once seen Alexi with a bruise on his face. It changed him, made him vulnerable. She wasn’t sure she liked that any more than he appeared to. Come to think of it—she tilted her head in the