The Forgotten Daughter - Page 39

“What about the stands you built?” she asked. “We can’t carry them on your motorcycle.”

“We don’t have to,” he said. “Bronco had them hauled up to the barn last night.” The hours after she’d raced upstairs had been busy. Roger had ordered his men to comb the entire resort thoroughly upon hearing what had happened. No specific clues had been unearthed, or anyone identified, but by then a large number of partygoers had already left. Scooter had remained stoic and had stuck to his prankster theory. His gut told him Roger hadn’t bought it, but when the man had remained silent on the subject, Scooter had, too.

They arrived at his motorcycle and after he got the engine running, Josie climbed on behind him like a natural. He shifted into gear and took off for the dock, his skin blistering beneath his clothes everywhere she touched him. Thankfully it was a short ride.

Scooter told Josie to wait on the dock while he pulled the boat out of the boathouse. The resort’s boats were all dinghies, painted white with red trim, which made identifying the one on the water last night impossible. Just as frustrating was that several dinghies had petrol motors, all also identical.

He hopped in as soon as the boat hit the water and Josie caught the bow as it floated up to the dock. Once she was seated, he took up the oars.

Looking behind him at the boathouse, she said, “The doors have already been repaired.”

He nodded. “Bronco saw to that last night, too.”

She hung a hand over the side of the boat, skimming her fingers over the water. “A lot seems to have happened after I went to bed last night.”

Scooter considered not answering, but since she had no way of escaping, other than if she dove in the water and swam to shore, he decided to take advantage of the moment. “So, what made you so mad last night?”

She leveled a dull stare on him.

“I’m serious. One minute...” He bit his tongue. That hadn’t been how he’d meant to start out, reminding himself of things he’d never forget. Because he couldn’t take it back, he waited until his silence had settled before he said, “The next you were mad as a gopher and running for the house.”

Resting both hands next to her hips, palms flat on the bench seat, she let out a sigh. “No one knows who I am, Scooter. No one.”

“In Duluth, you mean.”

She turned, gracing him with a lovely profile as she stared out across the water.

“Plenty of people around here know who you are,” he pointed out. “More than one could have seen you in Duluth any number of times.”

Without turning, she said, “Maybe, but they wouldn’t have recognized me. I’m careful.”

In the hopes of making her understand, he attempted to tell her what she thought was a disguise was far from it. “Wearing pants and a shirt—”

“I wear those under other things.”

“What other things?” he asked. “When I picked you up—”

“I’d already changed,” she interrupted.

“How? When? In jail?”

“No, in my car.” The frustration in her voice said she didn’t want to tell him, but would in order to justify her actions. “I have several dresses. Old-fashioned ones I’m able to slip on and off quickly. Scarves with gray hair sewn in them, and a purse that everything fits into.” Lifting her chin, she said, “I’ve walked past you and you never recognized me. I’ve had tea at your mother’s table, with you in the kitchen.”

His mother had women from the Ladies Aid Society over all the time. He never gave any of them a second look. Minus six or seven of them, they were all pushing eighty. Yet he knew them all, by name and look. The tingle that inched over his shoulders made him stare at her more intently. A second later he saw beyond the Josie he’d always thought he’d known. Disbelief had him blinking his eyes and shaking his head. It couldn’t be, yet he asked, “Mrs. Weatherby?”

She shrugged.

As preposterous as it seemed, his mind was finding similarities. “You’re Anita Weatherby?” He shook his head again. The glasses and stringy gray hair he could understand, but... “No one could make their face look that old. That wrinkled.”

“I draw wrinkles on with a pencil.”

“A pencil?”

“Yes and then cover them with rice powder.”

He’d never closely scrutinized any of the women that graced his mother’s kitchen, but he would in the future. Scanning Josie’s face, he couldn’t imagine she was Anita Weatherby, but add glasses, ugly gray hair and a colorful scarf and... “Wrinkles can’t be drawn on,” he insisted.