The fire returned to Josie’s belly. None of this was Scooter’s problem, either, or at least it wouldn’t have been if he hadn’t poked his nose in. “Put a stop to him? No one can stop Scooter when he puts his mind to something.”
“Men,” Gloria grumbled. “They’re all alike.”
“Are they?” Josie challenged. “What about my father? Where would you be if he hadn’t given you a place to live when your house burned down?”
“I work for your father,” Gloria retorted harshly.
“You write out prescriptions for people to obtain alcohol.” The utter shock on Gloria’s face made Josie flinch. The other woman was an excellent physician. People searched out her care for miles around. “I didn’t mean to sound so cruel,” she whispered. “I’m just so frustrated. What you’ve done, what we’ve done, has helped. Condoms are more widely used and protecting both women and men, but it’s not enough. Our weekly visits haven’t been enough for some time now.” The danger she’d put herself and Scooter in today made her stomach gurgle. “There has to be another way, Gloria. Maybe it’s time we tell Father. Maybe he could help us save those girls and—”
“No,” Gloria said. “We can’t.”
Although she hated to admit it, Josie said, “We’re in over our heads. I almost got caught today.”
Gloria’s curse could have rattled the windows. “That’s exactly what I was afraid of. Where? What happened?”
“At the docks.” Afraid to reveal too much, Josie said, “I got away and no one followed me.” She also buried the guilt swarming inside her. Whether she’d promised Scooter or not, she couldn’t sit around waiting for his phone call. There wasn’t time for that. “We have to get those girls out of there, and stop Francine from kidnapping more. My father—”
“Your father’s a bootlegger,” Gloria said. “The men backing Francine are mobsters. Ones who make Galen Reynolds look like an angel. Why do you think I’ve worked so hard to make sure no one connected what we did at the docks to this place? Francine’s men will target anyone involved.”
Josie shivered. “What are we going to do?”
“Not panic,” Gloria said. “And not tell your father. But we are going to have to act fast. That fireball the other night says the connection has been made. The only reason for you not to be followed today was the fact they already know where you live.”
Fear once again welled inside Josie. The resort was well guarded, but Scooter’s station wasn’t.
The door at the end of the hall opened and Norma Rose strolled in. “There you are. We’re going to be late. Will you be joining us, Gloria?”
“No, thank you,” Gloria answered. “I told your father I’d see to the guests here.”
Lost, Josie glanced between the other two women. “Late for what?”
“We’re going to Twyla’s for dinner tonight,” Norma Rose said. “Ty and Father are waiting downstairs.”
“Go on,” Gloria said, giving Josie a little shove as she lowered her voice and whispered, “We’ll talk first thing in the morning. I’ll have come up with a plan by then.”
Norma Rose had stopped several feet away and was now frowning. “Are you all right, Josie?”
“I’m fine,” Josie lied. Searching for an excuse, she added, “I’m just surprised. I thought Father and Ty moved Twyla’s furniture to town today.”
“They did,” Norma Rose said. “It took several trips with Ty’s truck and she wants to feed them dinner as a thank-you.”
Gloria gave Josie another little push. “You two best get going. Don’t want to keep the men waiting.”
In a matter of minutes, Josie found herself in the backseat of her sister’s Cadillac. Norma Rose sat beside her while Ty drove and their father rode in the front passenger seat.
“That’s good,” she responded to Norma Rose’s glowing report of how well Maize had handled things as Ty drove out of the parking lot.
Norma Rose frowned. “Are you sure you’re feeling all right?”
“I just have a headache,” Josie answered. She did. A pounding one.
“I can see why,” her father said.
Her insides hiccupped.
Chuckling, he added, “Spending all day with a dozen old biddies would give anyone a headache.”
She nodded while discreetly exhaling a breath of relief.
“Where was your meeting today?” he asked.
“Anita Weatherby’s,” she answered by default. It was her regular explanation. “I must have gotten too much sun. I weeded her rose beds after the luncheon.” Actually, that was probably why she had a headache. She hadn’t eaten all day.