Silver-Tongued Devil - Lorelei James Page 0,1

paid from the railroad and Silas cleaned him out, that’s still likely true.”

“Well, at least he has money to pay Doc this time.”

Robbie snorted. “Silver lining, I s’ppose. I’ll help ya carry him to Doc’s place since he ain’t gonna make it on his own.”

“I’d appreciate it.”

They each grabbed one of Silas’s arms and legs. While Silas wasn’t overly heavy, they stopped twice to catch their breath on the trek to Doc’s cabin, which was tucked back in the trees at the crossroads outside of town.

After the third time they stopped, Jonas huffed, “We shoulda thrown him in the back of a wagon.”

“Aye,” Robbie replied, puffing beside him.

Jimmy met them at the tree line, holding a lantern and wearing Silas’s hat. “Doc says to bring him around back.”

Doc Moorcroft and his wife had lived in the area since before Wyoming had become a state. At one time Doc did all his doctoring in the log cabin. These days patients were seen in the addition on the back of the house near the stables, which also had a three-bed recovery room.

For years Doc’s place had been neutral territory. He offered settlers, ranchers, cowboys, Indians, whores, outlaws and law enforcement all equal medical treatment as long as they could pay.

Doc stood in the doorway, a robe thrown on over long johns, his white hair sticking up and his eyes narrowed behind his round spectacles. He harrumphed. “Silas again?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Bring him in.” Doc’s gaze moved to the gun belt hanging on Jonas’s hips, then he locked his eyes on Jonas’s. “Then I’ll expect you to step out and remove that, Deputy.”

Jonas knew the drill—no weapons of any kind were allowed, no exceptions. He gave Doc a chin lift in acknowledgement and Doc stepped aside to allow them to enter.

After hefting Silas up on the table, Jonas retreated and was surprised when Robbie followed him outside. Jonas raised an eyebrow. “You got a knife in your boot or something?”

“Nay. I be thinkin’ you’d rather have me lookin’ after that gun than young Jimmy.”

“True enough.” Jonas slid the leather strap free of the clasp and passed the gun belt to Robbie. “You don’t mind waitin’?”

Robbie fastened the belt around his own waist before he answered. “No sir. Nice night. I’ll just sit over there in the shadow of the rain barrel and keep me eyes open.”

“Fair enough.”

“What about me, Deputy McKay?” Jimmy asked.

The last thing Jonas needed was Jimmy back at Ruby Red’s Boardinghouse or Sackett’s Saloon, running his mouth that the deputy was unarmed. Trouble rarely came to Doc’s place, but Zeke West was a whole different kind of trouble. “You stay here on lookout with Robbie and hold onto Silas’s hat. If Doc needs anything, I might send you back into town.”

“Sure thing.”

When Jonas returned inside, he noticed that Doc wasn’t alone. Miss Dinah Thompson was setting out supplies as Doc instructed her. Rumor was Doc’s wife had taken ill, and Miss Thompson—their boarder and the local schoolteacher—helped Doc out when she wasn’t teaching.

From what he could see in the dim light, she was a pretty little thing, with honey-colored hair pinned up to reveal a slender neck and a strong jawline. Jonas had heard that Miss Thompson suffered from shyness, but bein’s he wasn’t a church-going man, and Miss Thompson wasn’t the type to set foot in Sackett’s Saloon or act in a manner to get herself arrested, their paths hadn’t crossed this closely in the past year that she’d lived in Labelle.

Her voice held a soft twang when she inquired, “Deputy?”

“Yes, Miss?”

“Would you kindly help adjust your brother’s clothing so Doc can examine him?”

Naturally she wouldn’t be stripping Silas down to his skin. Even in the lamplight Jonas noticed the red tinge to her cheeks and she wouldn’t meet his gaze. “Of course.”

Then she moved to the end of the table to set a bowl of water and a stack of cloths next to Silas’s bloodied head.

Doc removed Silas’s vest and tossed it aside.

That’s when Jonas noticed the blood stain spreading across the bottom of Silas’s white shirt.

“What the hell is that from?”

“Language, Deputy, there’s a lady present,” Doc said. “Dinah, dear, could you hand me the scissors? It’ll be easier to cut this shirt away than peel it off.”

“Yes, Doc.”

He sliced the shirt straight down the middle of Silas’s torso. The blood hadn’t clotted yet, since there wasn’t an open wound for the fabric to stick to because a small knife was still lodged in the flesh above Silas’s hip,