The Forgotten Daughter - Page 53

Scooter shook his head. “That wouldn’t be the same Rose Nightingale,” he said. “Not as the one related to Nightingale’s Resort.”

“Why do you say that?” Clyde asked. “The one I knew was from Minnesota. White Bear Lake, Minnesota.”

“Could be more than one,” Scooter said. “But the Rose Nightingale I knew never went out east.”

Clyde was rubbing his chin. “She died several years ago, during the flu epidemic.”

“The one I knew did,” Scooter said, growing curious as to who this man might be. “And I know for a fact she never left Minnesota.”

“How do you know that? She’d have been a lot older than you.”

“Old enough to be my mother.”

Clyde’s eyes nearly popped right out of his head.

“Rose and my mother were best friends their entire lives,” Scooter said, a bit startled by the look on Clyde’s face...a face that looked almost familiar. “They grew up next door to each other. What one did, the other did. Trust me, my mother would have talked about Rose going out east if that had ever happened.”

“Tiny, about this tall—” Clyde held his hand next to his shoulder “—with blond hair and brown eyes?”

“Blue eyes,” Scooter said. “Sky blue, just like her daughters’.” Brought back to the mission at hand, he asked again, “You see the driver of this vehicle?”

Clyde was now frowning, but he nodded. “I sure did. I was wondering why someone would park in this lot when they clearly didn’t have any business with US Steel.”

“How would you know that?”

“It’s my job to know that. I’m the new manager. Just arrived last week. I’ve worked for J.P. for years. Mainly out east, but when things weren’t going as smoothly as they should here, J.P. sent me to see why.”

“J. P. Morgan,” Scooter said, to clarify. One of the richest men in the nation. The man had become an icon, who’d risen to power by eliminating the competition. Single-handedly, he’d created a vastly powerful empire when he’d bought Carnegie Steel Company for four hundred and eighty million dollars, and rumor had it he’d have paid more if need be.

“Yes, Mr. Morgan himself.”

Scooter couldn’t find it in himself to believe J. P. Morgan or Clyde Odell were connected with the likes of Francine Wilks, so he gave the man a nod. “I wish you well, Mr. Odell. I need to find the driver of this Chevy. Would you happen to know which direction they went?”

Clyde spread his feet a bit wider, like a boxer taking his stance as his face turned hard. “I hope you, Mr. Wilson, and that old lady that climbed out of this car aren’t involved in my dock workers being rolled.”

Scooter shifted the weight of the bike, giving his foot easy access to the kick starter. He wasn’t afraid of a fight, but getting in a brawl with a dock worker was not on his agenda today. “Rolled?”

“Yes, rolled.” Clyde popped the knuckles of one hand. “There’s a ring of thieves liquoring up my dock hands, plying them with whores and robbing them blind when they pass out. I’m here to put a stop to it.”

“Any idea who’s behind it?” Scooter asked, already convinced of the culprit himself.

“Oh, I know who’s behind it,” Clyde said, “and I know who’s behind her.”

Scooter took a chance. “Francine Wilks.”

Clyde merely lifted a brow.

“I’m not working with her,” Scooter said. “And neither is the woman who climbed out of this car. She’s not an old lady, she’s a young girl, one Francine is after.”

A surprised look crossed Clyde’s face, but he hid it quickly, as if not quite believing what Scooter had said.

Unable to think of anything to corroborate his story, Scooter said, “I’ve got to find her before Francine does.”

“Why?”

“Why?” Scooter almost shouted. Shaking his head, he said, “Josie, the girl I’m after, is trying to stop Francine from kidnapping Indian girls and putting them to work.”

Clyde let out an expletive. “Francine’s as nasty and evil as the rest of her family.” He waved a hand toward the lakeshore. “The girl you’re looking for is on the second pier, the big one, sitting on a bench.”

Scooter kicked the starter pedal. As he squeezed the throttle, something else crossed his mind, a flash of a memory that was insignificant, yet perhaps because the man had been helpful, Scooter felt inclined to say, “The only woman from White Bear Lake my mother ever talked about going east was Karen Reynolds. She does have blond hair and brown eyes.”

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