“I take it you aren’t close.”
He laughed at that. “You have no idea.”
Still, she made him work for it. This wasn’t her first rodeo, as they said out here in the West, and Jack Winchester was definitely not the first con man she’d come across in her twenty-eight years.
He was good, though, smooth, sexy and charming as the devil, with a grin that would have had her naked—had she still been young and naive.
She was neither. She’d learned the hard way about men like Jack Winchester back in her wild days.
But she also knew he would be suspicious if she gave in right away.
“One week,” she said, hoping she wasn’t making a huge mistake. Jack had showed up just when she needed him and this marriage charade. No wonder she was feeling this was too good to be true.
But given her lack of options …
He flashed her a sexy grin, and she told herself all she had to do was resist his cowboy charm for a week. No problem.
She closed her eyes and dozed until she felt him slowing down on the outskirts of what appeared to be a small Western town nestled in a river bottom.
“Welcome to Whitehorse,” Jack said with a laugh as they crossed a narrow bridge. “I thought we’d buy a few things for you to wear this week. I’m guessing you don’t have a lot of clothing in that backpack.”
That almost made her laugh as she pulled the backpack closer. “I definitely could use some clothes and a shower before I meet your grandmother.”
“No problem. Just tell me what you need. I’m sure there’s a truck stop at one end of this town or another. It’s the only town for miles up here.”
She looked over at him. He was making this too easy. Was he thinking that with a wife his grandmother would give him twice the inheritance? “You’re sure about this? Because I’m really not dressed to go into a clothing store,” she said, sliding down in the seat as they entered town.
JACK FELT A CHILL as Josey turned up the collar on her jean jacket and slid down in her seat. Who the hell is after her? And what the hell have I got myself into?
Still, the gambler in him told him to stick to his plan. He couldn’t throw this woman to the wolves. “My wife can have anything she wants or needs,” he said. “Just name it.”
And she did, including hair dye and a pair of sharp scissors. He hadn’t even lifted a brow, but he’d hated the thought of what she planned to do to that beautiful hair of hers.
It definitely brought home the realization that he’d underestimated just how much trouble this woman was in. “I’ll tell you what. Why don’t I drop you at the truck stop? You can get a hot shower, get out of those clothes and I’ll come by with everything else you need.”
“You don’t know my size.”
“I’m good at guessing.” He saw her hesitate. “Trust me.”
Like a dog that’d been kicked too many times, her look said, When hell freezes over.
She told him what else she needed, which turned out to be just about everything. He had to wonder what was in that backpack. It looked full. But apparently there wasn’t much clothing in it.
Whatever was in the backpack, it was something she wasn’t letting out of her sight. She kept the backpack close, taking it with her when he dropped her at the truck stop.
Jack watched her walk away, her head down as if trying to go unnoticed, and told himself he was going to regret this.
JOSEY DIDN’T EXPECT to see Jack Winchester again as he drove away from the truck stop. She wouldn’t have blamed him. She’d caught the look that crossed his handsome face when she’d asked for the dark hair dye and scissors.
Only a fool wouldn’t get the implication of that and Jack, she suspected, was no fool. By the time she’d showered, she’d found the items she’d asked for waiting for her just outside the shower door.
She took the scissors to her hair, surprised by how painful it was. It was just hair. It would grow back. But she knew she wasn’t upset about her hair. It was all the other losses in her life.
She let the dye set in her short hair as she avoided looking in the mirror, then took another shower, wondering if she would ever feel truly clean again. In the bags he’d left for her, she found jeans, shirts, a couple of summer dresses, sandals, undergarments, a robe and nightgown, and even a pair of cowboy boots.
Josey shook her head, amazed that he would make so many purchases including the two scarves she’d asked for. He really was good at guessing. He’d not only guessed her sizes right down to her shoe size, but he’d chosen colors and styles that she might have chosen for herself.
She’d been so touched, it had choked her up, and she realized how long it had been since someone had been nice to her.
Jack was waiting for her in the shade outside beside the Cadillac. It surprised her that she’d been dreading his reaction to the change in her appearance. She’d worn the boots, jeans and Western shirt he’d bought her, as well as a scarf tied around her neck that went with the shirt.
He smiled when he saw her. His gaze took in her hair first, then the rest of her. “I see the clothes fit.”
“Yes, thank you.” She felt strangely shy.
“I like your new look,” he said, nodding, as they climbed into the car.
“You do?” she asked, and braved checking herself in the vanity mirror. It startled her, seeing herself as a brunette with short curly hair that framed her face. Her green eyes appeared huge to her. Or maybe it was the dark shadows under them. She didn’t even recognize herself.
“It suits you,” he said.
“Thank you.” She snapped the visor up. Who was she kidding? Changing her hairstyle wasn’t going to save her. Nothing would. It was just a matter of time before the rest of her world came crashing down.
She saw Jack looking at her backpack again, even more curious. She’d put her dirty clothing and sneakers into one of the shopping bags, and had to stuff the second bag with the new clothing.
She’d have to watch him closely until she had an opportunity to hide the backpack’s contents for safekeeping during the week at the ranch.
If she lasted the week. If there was even a ranch, she thought, as Jack drove south on a highway even less traveled than the last one they’d been on.
She no longer trusted herself to separate the good guys from the bad.
JACK STUDIED JOSEY as they left town. The new hairstyle and color only made her more striking. A woman like her couldn’t go unnoticed, if that was what she was hoping. So far, he thought she was safe. The truck stop hadn’t been busy, and the clerk there hadn’t given either of them a second glance. She’d been too busy watching the small television behind the counter.
Jack had noticed that when Josey came out to the car she’d СКАЧАТЬ