Coming Up Roses
himself!”
    She’d been going to say they looked like
Annie Oakley, but decided it would be more diplomatic to use the
colonel’s name with boys.
    The children were ecstatic.
    “ Thank you, Miss Gilhooley,” said the
dasher.
    “ Thanks, Miss ‘Hooley,” said his
brother.
    “ I don’t care what you say, you blasted
interloper! Don’t you dare call my children brats! It’s not their
fault they loved watching Wind Dancer ride!”
    “ It’s not their fault they didn’t knock
her over backwards, you mean!”
    Rose cleared her throat, hoping either the
boys’ father or H.L. May would hear her and desist in his yelling.
She should have known better. Neither man paid her the least heed.
In fact, the fight seemed to be heading perilously close to
becoming a physical confrontation.
    As she did not want to be associated with an
embarrassing brawl, Rose came to the conclusion that, while being
ladylike and polite was a good way to behave most of the time, at
other times, harsher measures were required. Therefore, although
she’d never have done this under normal circumstances, she put two
fingers in her mouth as her brother Freddie had taught her to do in
Deadwood many years before, and whistled.
    The sound pierced the air like a volley of
Sioux arrows. H.L. May and his adversary both clapped hands over
their ears and spun around. They looked to Rose as if they were
trying to determine from whence the attack was being launched.
    The two little boys laughed and clapped as if
Rose had done something marvelous.
    Rose said, “Thank you.” She glared at H.L.
“Are you quite ready to resume our interview, Mr. May?”
    H.L.’s mouth had opened in what looked like
fury before he caught sight of Rose. Then his eyes widened, his
rage seemed to evaporate, and he stared at her. Rose had no idea
what his problem was now, but she appreciated his silence.
    Turning to Jesse Lee and Ernie James’s
father, Rose said sweetly, “Your sons are delightful, Mr. Wojinski.
I’m glad they enjoyed the Wild West. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we
need to be going.”
    Mr. Wojinski, too, seemed stunned. Deciding
to take advantage of the two men’s silence, Rose grabbed H.L.’s arm
and yanked. Hard. He stumbled forward before he caught himself and
straightened. Then he cast one last glare at Mr. Wojinski before he
took in the sight of the two little boys, who stared at Rose as if
she were a goddess and they were worshiping her.
    The boys’ father gave H.L. a final vicious
scowl and took his sons’ hand. “Let’s go, boys. I’m glad to see
Wind Dancer is nice, even if she runs with some rough company.” He
turned them around and stamped away.
    The two small voices rose in a duet. “Oh,
she’s real nice, Pa!”
    After a few more tense moments, H.L. said,
“Hunh.” With a curt nod, he turned away from the Wojinskis and went
with Rose.
    She waved daintily at the little boys, who
were staring at her from over their shoulders, and minced off. H.L.
wondered if her feet hurt, confined in shoes as they were now. Did
she wear shoes all the time except when she was performing? He was
about to ask, when she spoke first.
    “ What do you mean, getting into a fight
with that nice man?”
    Astonished, H.L. blinked as he peered down at
her.
    She looked absolutely gorgeous in that yellow
thing. Yellow did wonders for her dark chestnut hair and blue eyes,
especially when they were glinting as they were now, and her cheeks
were rosy. With anger.
    Good God, she was furious.
    “ I can’t take a step in your company
without you doing something outrageous or saying something horrid.
I don’t know why I consented to this interview with you,
anyway!”
    H.L. gulped twice before he could
speak. Two things interfered with his thought processes, which were
normally quicker than lightning. The first thing was how good she
looked. The second was anger. She was mad at him! She was mad at him , the man who’d just saved her from being
mauled by a couple of dirty

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