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Excerpt from Texas Rose - eBook Discovery

Excerpt from Texas Rose - eBook Discovery

"Betrothed?" Looking

"Betrothed?" Looking startled, Tyler tried to extricate himself from one woman while soothing the other. "Now, Bessie, why would I be two-timing the loveliest girl in all Natchez? The lady was just asking directions, and I was trying to be helpful. Miss, do you know the way now?" He smiled with disconcerting reassurance at his new acquaintance. Evie lifted her skirt and sent him a furious glare. "I most certainly do, Mister Monteigne. I'm sorry to have troubled you." With a swish of her heavy petticoats, Evie swirled away in the direction of her hotel and Daniel. Humiliation crept up to color her cheeks, but fury followed close behind. She should have known he was too good-looking to be Pecos Martin. A darned rascal, that was what he was. She should have guessed when he offered to take her back to his hotel. She could hear Bessie's loud voice carrying up the street, alternately berating the cad and cooing at him. Evie walked faster, but she couldn't lose the sound. The Monteigne man seemed to be placating her with pretty murmurs. Even a loose woman ought to know a cad when she heard one. The man didn't mean a word he said; she would wager on that. The fact that she had been lying to him from the very first word didn't stem Evie's wrath. She cursed as she ran up the hotel steps and heard the loving couple follow after her. Apparently Monteigne had sweet-talked his lady out of her temper. It was just her luck that the lying rascal would have rooms in the same hotel. Just because it was the only decent hotel in the area shouldn't matter. Lying cads belonged in the lowest den of iniquity in this terrible town. Villains weren't supposed to look like heroes. As Evie stormed up to the first landing, a Negro popped out of one of the rooms down the hall. Leaning over the balustrade,

he cursed at the sight below and loped past her, scarcely noticing as he swept by. Startled, Evie glanced down at the lobby. The sight of a black man in a white hotel didn't shock her that much. This was Mississippi, after all, and the Freedmen's Bureau had given all sorts of freedoms that would take some getting used to. She supposed it was perfectly all right for him to have rooms here. But since she had just come through the lobby, she knew the only sights to be seen were Mr. Monteigne and Bessie. The situation had some similarity to one in that novel Daniel had insisted she read, where the hero was actually a secret agent of the government. Perhaps Mr. Monteigne had a hidden identity and the Negro was his partner. She heard him speaking even before he hit the bottom step. His voice was too low-pitched for Evie to discern the words, but she was quite certain that the gambler wasn't any too pleased. Bessie's carrying voice made the problem a little clearer. "But Tyler, honey, I've just told you, I'm ready to give up the sporting life and get hitched. I thought we could celebrate. I want the whole town there when I walk down that aisle. Can't Ben wait just a while longer?" Evie peered past the ostentatious chandelier. The black man and the gambler were leading Bessie to the door. The fool ought to know better than to think a man like Monteigne would be pleased about getting married. It was rather obvious Mr. Monteigne's interest hadn’t been captured by Bessie's brains. But didn't Daniel's secret agent have lots of women? Perhaps if Monteigne wasn't Pecos Martin, he was leading a double life. That would be vastly entertaining. A rustle of silk in the second floor hall caught Evie's attention. Not wishing to be seen spying, she started toward the

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