The Forgotten Daughter - Page 38

“Sit down, sit down,” Moe said. “I’ll fix you both something to eat. It’s been a while since breakfast. Not too many to cook for today. They all skedaddled. Doesn’t look like there will be many for tonight, either. Not with everyone off in all directions.”

Scooter sat and watched Josie’s cheeks turn pink as Moe rattled on about all the girls getting married, swept off their feet by handsome gentlemen. The balding cook made it all sound like one of the fairy tales in the books Maize was always checking out from the library.

The man never stopped talking, but that didn’t seem to interfere with his cooking. In no time he had bowls of potato soup, along with egg salad sandwiches, on the table.

“I had the soup simmering on the stove,” Moe said.

“Thank you,” Josie answered. “It looks delicious.”

“I’ve never known you to sleep in so late,” Moe said. “Putting on that party yesterday must have worn you plum out.”

Josie’s cheeks turned red again. Scooter tried to stop thinking about how cute she looked fresh out of her bath by spooning in a mouthful of soup. The soup was tasty, but not even the large chunks of bacon could distract his thoughts.

“That was quite a party,” Moe said, sitting down in a chair. “Silas was beside himself. He worked for two days on just the cake. He wanted it to be perfect for Twyla.” Moe propped his elbow on the table in order to set his chin in his palm. “Next it will be Norma Rose.” Sighing, the cook added, “And then you.”

Josie’s spoon clattered against the side of her bowl, and for a moment, Scooter thought it was his. The way his hand had shook at the cook’s words, it could have been.

“That won’t be for a very long time, Moe,” she said.

Moe lifted a brow before he shook his head. “I know your daddy hopes that. He’d be beside himself to lose all his girls in one summer. The man wouldn’t know what to do with himself. I suspect he’d learn to live with it, though.”

A heavy silence filled the room then, a silence only made thicker by the clink of their spoons scooping up soup. Moe was looking between the two of them, and much like Josie was doing, Scooter kept his gaze from meeting anyone else’s.

By the time the meal was over, his stomach was acting as if he’d eaten a bowl of grasshoppers instead of the thick and delicious soup. Marriage was not something he contemplated. Especially not to Josie. That would be a far-fetched fairy tale. The Princess and the Grease Monkey. Although he figured he had enough money to pay for the lemon-scented perfume she’d sprayed on her wrists this morning—it had been the first thing that had hit him when he heard the door open earlier—he’d never make the kind of money her father made.

He’d gotten whiffs of her perfume in the past, but this morning, with his eyes closed, he’d examined the smell fully. Dissected the scent right down to wondering where she’d applied it. Her wrists, behind her earlobes, in the hollow of her neck...

Scooter shot to his feet, thanking Moe and asking Josie if she was ready in one breath. The fresh air would do him good. At least he hoped so. Marriage wasn’t in the scheme of things and keeping her safe was where his focus needed to stay.

They exited the building through the side door, the very one she’d disappeared behind yesterday with Gloria. Norma Rose had asked the other woman to oversee the front desk, with some coaxing from Ty. Scooter and Ty had talked last night about the incidents. The fireball and the boathouse. Roger had been told about both and had appeared surprised. He’d said the fireworks show had been perfect. That he would never have known about the fire if he hadn’t been told.

He was upset, too. That someone had been so close to harming his daughters. On his own property, no less. The conversation had taken place in the hallway upstairs, where Roger had given Scooter permission to sleep in the chairs. He’d assured Scooter that his men were on duty, but considering the number of guests filling the resort, they all agreed that one extra person on guard was a good idea.

Scooter had come within inches of telling Roger all he knew. Common sense, or perhaps his will to live, had held him back. While sitting in that chair last night, he’d mulled over his options, and come up with a plan. Josie wasn’t going to stop going to Duluth until she had to. He was going to see to it that she had to.

“We’ll take my motorcycle,” he said, waving toward the parking lot.

She didn’t say a word, but her grin sparked an inner fuse inside him. One that really hadn’t needed to be lit.

The sun was straight overhead, sending down rays of heat that suggested today could be the hottest of the year so far. It had to be pushing eighty. He was already hot enough to burn toast. Had been ever since he’d heard Josie leave her bedroom. Imagining her soaking in a tub of water had taken over his mind.