The Forgotten Daughter - Page 19

It was only then that Josie realized his hands barely rested on her sides; the pressure forcing her against him was from someone pressed against her back. She’d danced with Scooter many times over the past few weeks, and had never experienced the sensations she was feeling right now. Every inch of her body was sizzling. She’d like to believe it was her anger, but knew it wasn’t. This was different.

In fact, she wasn’t mad at Scooter for interrupting her journey to Duluth. That had been a bad idea from the minute Gloria had suggested it—the two of them would surely have been missed. She was mad because he wanted her to stop. That wasn’t an option. Not even if she wanted it to be.

She’d never gotten a good look at Francine Wilks or her henchman. For her to pick them out in the crowd tonight was impossible. There were too many people. She was comforted knowing the same was true for them. There was no way for them to make a link between the woman handing out condoms and her or the resort, not unless they recognized her car. To be on the safe side, for the past couple of trips she’d made to Duluth, she’d swapped cars with Twyla, who’d been so busy planning this party she hadn’t questioned why. Neither of their cars was so unique they stood out in a crowd, so even if Francine or her man saw the family vehicles in the garage out front, they still wouldn’t know.

“What are you thinking so hard about?” Scooter asked.

Snapping her head up, Josie replied, “Nothing, other than I wish there was more room.”

Scooter started to lead them sideways, which was a slow task.

“Are we bowing out?” she asked, not sure whether she was pleased or not about that idea.

“No, but I see Dac. I’ll ask him to move some tables and give us some room on the grass. If either of us leave to do it, we’ll be eliminated.”

She joined his efforts, elbowing people aside, all the while dancing, until they were at the side of the dance floor. Scooter yelled for Dac Lester, who quickly found a couple of other men to assist him. Drawing her hand over her head, Scooter twirled Josie around, off the dance floor and onto the grass. Other couples followed. Soon the grassy area was as full as the dance floor, but at least there was room to actually dance.

When a few people started shouting for disqualifications Slim Johnson yelled above the noise of the piano that the grass area was officially part of the dance floor.

“Goodness, people sure are serious about this contest,” she said when the next dance had them in each other’s arms once again.

“A hundred bucks means a lot to people,” Scooter said. “Some of the folks here don’t make that much in a month or more.”

They were so close his chin was just over her shoulder, making his breath tickle her ear. Josie leaned back to look him in the eye. She hadn’t been any more enthusiastic for this dance-off than she’d been the last time, but she’d gone along with her sisters. As usual, she’d do anything to keep the focus away from her. “I understand that. I’m the one who suggested the prize be cash. Norma Rose wanted to give away a bottle of whiskey again.”

Scooter did have a rather fantastic grin. It was one of those smiles that fed others. “And a snow globe?”

Josie, although grinning, shook her head. “That is one of Norma Rose’s prized possessions. It was back then, too, she just couldn’t admit it that night.”

“And now she can?”

“Yes, Ty won it for her at the amusement park.”

He nodded and pulled her close to lean over her shoulder. Josie once again scanned the crowd, her thoughts returning to Francine Wilks. Guilt was eating at her, too. There were young girls in that warehouse Francine kept under guard. Girls that needed to be returned to their families. Gloria was sincerely disappointed, and Josie had to admit, she was, too. Uneasy or not, she could have put more effort into sneaking away. Those girls had little hope. Now that she’d participated in the dance-off, no one would be looking for her. Not even Scooter. He’d soon be too busy setting off fireworks to give her a second thought.

“What are you thinking so hard about now?”

She leaned back again. “Why do you keep asking that?”

“Because you keep becoming as stiff as a board,” Scooter said. “And that tells me you’re conjuring something up.”

Just as her mind was coming up blank, Josie’s gaze landed on Scooter’s sister, Maize. She was standing on the sidelines, watching the dancers with a hint of longing in her face. Certainly not a wallflower, Maize could be dancing with any number of men. She chose not to. Once very lively and outgoing, Maize had been changed by the incident with Galen Reynolds.

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