Outlaw Hearts

Outlaw Hearts by Rosanne Bittner

Book: Outlaw Hearts by Rosanne Bittner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rosanne Bittner
won’t survive if I shoot you with that! What will it be, Jake? Will you kill me too? I thought that was one thing you did have principles about!”
    He pressed the revolver against her throat. “Don’t get in my way, Randy. Don’t say a word to them, and don’t get in my way, or I can’t guarantee anything. I’ve never hurt a lady on purpose, but if it comes to a shoot-out, that’s a different story. You stall those men and keep them outside. Don’t you betray me, woman, after all your fancy talk about not being able to take money for a man!”
    Miranda swallowed, feeling the cold steel against her throat. “It’s time for you to learn about friendship and trust, Jake,” she said quietly, realizing the sheriff must be quite close to the cabin by now. “You just revealed some very intimate things about yourself to me, and I listened and understood. Do you really think I would turn around now and let the sheriff shoot you down or haul you away? Do you really think that?”
    He took the gun away and slowly stepped back. “I don’t know, but I’ll damn well keep my ears open. Now get out there and make sure there is nothing around to give away my presence. And try to keep the sheriff outside!”
    Miranda breathed deeply, struggling for composure. She walked back into the main room, pulling closed the curtain at the bedroom doorway, then started for the main door when she noticed the little pile of black hair on the wooden floor. Jake’s hair! She quickly grabbed a broom and lifted a hand-tied rug, sweeping the hair under it and feeling Jake’s dark eyes and cold gun watching her every move.
    She put the broom back, glanced around the room. She smoothed her dress and ran her fingers through her hair. She opened the door then, stepping out and closing it behind her to greet Sheriff McCleave.

    Miranda walked off the porch, giving Sheriff McCleave a smile as he rode closer with two deputies. “Sheriff! What brings you out this late in the day? It’s nearly dark!”
    â€œEvening, Mrs. Hayes. Just checking on you. Heard a rumor that someone suspected of belonging to Bill Kennedy’s bunch was snooping around town asking about the shoot-out between that Jake Harkner and Luke Putnam. Grapevine has it Kennedy is looking for this Harkner fellow just as hard as the law is. Seems they had some kind of falling out, although we don’t know why; but just knowing the man might be in the area makes me uneasy. We’ve been out scouting around, checking with other farmers and such to make sure there’s been no trouble.”
    Tell him! Tell him! Miranda could not understand why she could not obey the small voice that commanded her to do what was right and logical. Did she really believe Jake could shoot down all three of these men? Or was her reason for not speaking up more illogical and unbelievable—that she didn’t want Jake to be hurt?
    â€œI’ve been fine,” she told McCleave. “Since I’m the one who shot Jake Harkner, it’s awfully far-fetched to think I would have anything to do with the man afterward, so it isn’t likely this Kennedy person would come here looking for him. People must have told him that Mr. Harkner is probably dead or in Indian Territory by now.”
    â€œThat’s true, but we have to make sure. Bansen, who owns the farm east of you, said a bunch of suspicious-looking men stopped at his place and asked for food and permission to water their horses. Bansen says they looked like the kind who would just as soon shoot you as look at you, so he didn’t ask for any money—gave the men what they wanted and they rode on. One of them said something about ‘looking for the skunk’ down in Cherokee country. My hunch is that it was Kennedy and his men, and if so, they’ve headed on south by now. Bansen is just damn lucky they were in an obliging mood, or him

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