Scooter’s eyes darted away from her. “You got clothes on under that dress?” he asked, now looking at her skirt.
“Then take it off. The scarf, too.”
She’d forgotten about her disguise. Pulling off the scarf, she said, “You wouldn’t have recognized me if I hadn’t told you about my Anita clothes.”
The brief gaze he sent her way was full of scorn. “I’d have recognized you. Dirty face and all.”
“It’s not dirt.”
He shrugged. “You got a way to wash it off?”
“Yes. I’m always prepared.”
He sneered and shook his head.
Josie sneered in return. She was glad he’d rescued her, but could do without his attitude. Digging in her pocket for the small container of face cream and the handkerchief she always carried, she discovered something else. “Oh, no.”
He snapped his head in both directions. “What?”
Josie pulled out the key. “Uncle Dave’s car. I have to go back and get it.”
“We are not going back for Dave’s car.”
“I have to. I can’t go home without it.” A shiver rippled from her head to her toes. “If my father finds out...” She couldn’t finish the thought aloud. It was bad enough just thinking about the repercussions of her father discovering she’d been at the docks. Grabbing Scooter’s arm, she pleaded, “We have to go back.”
“Don’t you see?” she asked. “He’ll know you saved me. He’ll—”
“I know exactly what he’ll do,” Scooter said, “and it’s too late to worry about that now.”
Josie wasn’t willing to accept that. “No, it’s not. If we get Dave’s car back, he’ll never know. Dac won’t tell, you won’t tell. I won’t tell.” He was shaking his head and Josie dug deeper, searching for a way to make him understand. “Think about your mother,” she said. “About Maize and Jonas. What will happen to them if...” Her throat swelled completely shut.
Scooter grabbed the key out of her hand as he let out a curse. “Get out of that disguise.”
“So we’ll go back?” she asked hopefully.
“No,” he said. “But I’ll figure out a way to get Dave’s car. You get out of that dress and clean your face.”
The warning in his voice had her lips snapping shut, which was just as well, as she really didn’t have any idea of what they could do. She was hoping something would pop into her head. He was rubbing his chin, as if thinking hard. She sincerely hoped whatever plan he was contemplating was a good one.
* * *
Scooter turned away as Josie shifted onto her knees and started unbuttoning the top of her dress. He didn’t need to watch that. His mind was already bouncing in too many directions at the same time. She may not have noticed the men who took chase after them, but he had. They’d been packing heat. Going back to face those guns would be suicide. They could be following them right now. He’d taken the motorcycle down every narrow alleyway they’d come across, knowing the bigger car on their tail wouldn’t fit, but still had no way of knowing if the men had caught up with them again or not.
Thank goodness Dac had been waiting exactly as planned, truck running and on hand to close the back as soon as they’d raced up the ramp. Dac also said he knew a back way south into Cloquet and was pretty convinced he’d be able to ditch anyone who might try to follow them.
On the way north, Scooter hadn’t meant to share everything he had, but in the end he was confident he’d chosen the right person to help him find Josie. And that fact also made everything worse. Dac had as much to lose by angering Roger Nightingale as he did.
He wasn’t overly concerned about losing his business. He could start over, but Dac’s family couldn’t, and Maize would lose her new job, too. His only option was to clean up this entire mess, every little detail, before telling Roger all about it. That he was going to do. Tell Roger. It would be the only way to assure Josie’s Duluth days were over.
She was wiping off the white cream she’d spread all over her face with an embroidered hanky, and this time he couldn’t pull his eyes away. The pencil lines she’d drawn on her face had made her look old. If he hadn’t known what to look for, he wouldn’t have been convinced that was her back at the dock. Of course, the way she’d been dragged along by the other woman had been a dead giveaway.
The rumble of the tires echoed beneath them and Scooter cleared his mind to listen more closely. There was no sound of any other traffic now. He pushed off the floor and carefully eased his head over the side rails. They’d just crossed a little bridge and trees lined the curving road on both sides—thick trees with underbrush so overgrown no one could hide in them.