“What you did is between us. I can’t believe you.”
The pretty blond cleared his throat. “Ah, Ms Stewart—”
And honestly, she’d had enough of this shit. More than enough of it. “Open the door. Let him out. He didn’t hurt me. Though I may hurt him.”
“But, by his own admission, he did hurt you. He held you against your will, at the very least.”
She growled. Men! They were all such fools. “Do not try to tell me you are punishing him for things he supposedly did to me. I decide how that works, not you. You are not involved in this. None of you.”
The pretty blond just blinked.
“And I’m not pressing charges, so don’t try to tell me it’s about the law either. Let him out.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t,” said the pretty blond.
“Roslyn, it’s more complicated than that,” Sean said, stepping forward to take the blame. “A lot of people in town don’t trust Nick. Letting him walk out of here would not be in his best interests. You noticed people weren’t happy. They’re still coming to terms with what happened that night. They thought they were safe inside these walls and they found out the hard way that they’re not.”
“He’s right,” said the pretty blond. “For a lot of people it was a big shock on top of what they’d already suffered. Nick would make a good target to take their fears out on right about now.”
“What?” Her brain hurt. They couldn’t be serious. Blackstone was fast turning from a dream into a nightmare. “Are you telling me someone still might try to kill him? Are you fucking serious?”
“We won’t let that happen,” said the pretty blond, looking highly competent but not soothing her in the least. This was Nick’s life they were talking about. If anyone would be killing him, it would be her. And she didn’t want him dead, so there.
“I’m sorry, what was your name?” she asked.
“I’m Finn,” the pretty blond said. “Town sheriff, basically. Sean’s right. For now, Nick’s safer in here. If what you’re saying is true and he didn’t hurt you, eventually it might be best if we move him out quietly once things calm down. Let him be on his way.”
“Move him out quietly?” She shook her head in disbelief. “You’d send him back out there. Mind you, after what I’ve seen of this place that might not be a bad idea.”
“You’d stay,” the big idiot in the cage announced. “You’re safer here.”
She doubted that, but it was beside the point. The idiot was trying to separate them. Now, after everything. “Shut. Up. Nick. The adults are talking.”
Nick gave her another less-than-impressed look. “Ros.”
“I’m serious. You’ve said enough this year.” The world went wonky and she swayed, hip banging into the bars. “Whoa.”
“Get her a chair,” said Nick.
“No,” she said with vehemence. Because for all the supposed intelligent life forms surrounding her just then, not one of the three men were making a shitload of sense. “Open the door. If you won’t let him out then I’m going in.”
Nick paced in his cage. “Like hell. You just got shot.”
“That was days ago. Keep up.”
Finn offered her a hand. “Ms Stewart—”
“Roslyn,” she corrected.
“Roslyn,” said Finn. “Please, let me help you to a seat.”
“No. I’m staying with him,” she said. “Did I happen to mention I committed vehicular manslaughter the other day?”
“It was self-defense,” said Nick.
“No,” she said, waving her finger at one and all. “Justin shooting me might have been self-defense, but I chose to run him down. So actually it’s not manslaughter, is it? How far in advance does one need to plan before you can say it was pre-meditated, exactly?”
No reply was forthcoming from the sheriff.
“Never mind,” she said. “I am a vicious and unrepentant killer who should be locked up. With him, my idiot boyfriend.”
Finn stared at her, blank-faced.
Nick just looked pained. Fuck him. Love hurt.
“Open the cell door please, Sheriff Finn.”
“Don’t,” said Nick. “Get her out of here. She doesn’t belong here.”
She shot him a filthy look. What an asshole, working against her. “Seriously, Nick. I am so mad at you right now I can’t even say.”
Nick didn’t back down. “Finn, she’s wounded, for fuck’s sake. Please.”
The sheriff looked at them both like they needed the loony bin more than anything, their eyes full of confusion.
“Go on, Finn.” Another woman stood beside Lila, leaning against a desk. Roslyn hadn’t even noticed the two of them enter. Lila watched her with worried eyes, two pillows and a blanket clutched to her chest. What a wonderful woman.
“I figured you’d be staying down here,” she said, earning a bright smile from Ros. At last, someone who made sense. Maybe this town wasn’t a total waste.
“Thank you, Lila,” said Ros.
“Hi. I’m Ali.” The other woman raised a hand and gave her a smile. Her small, round belly pushed at the front of her shirt. “You probably don’t remember me. I spent some time sitting by your bedside while Lila ran errands.”
Finn crossed his arms. “Al, you’re meant to be home resting.”
“Pregnant, not broken,” said the woman in a bored tone of voice. “Let her go in with him.”
The sheriff didn’t back down one iota. “This doesn’t involve you.”
“You heard what she said, Finn. She chose him.” Ali rubbed her belly, unperturbed. “Every time she woke up she asked for him. Without fail.”
“Stay out of it.”
Ali cocked her head. “You of all people should know relationships are complicated. Go on. Let her be with him.”
“Al. This is business.”
“Why, so it is.” Ali gave her a small smile. It seemed she had friends she didn’t even know about. Blackstone was looking better by the minute. “Actually, I feel quite endangered by her presence. Don’t you, Lila?”
“Absolutely,” said Lila. “She terrifies me. Right, Sean?”
“Shit.” Sean wiped a hand over his face. He gave the dark-haired Lila a similar pained expression to the one Nick kept gifting Ros. Not bad, but Nick’s was cuter. Lila raised her eyebrows and the Viking groaned in defeat. “Never been so scared in my life. She’s so small and … wounded.”
Lila beamed at him and the big man smiled back reluctantly, the love he had for the woman clear on his face.
“Please, Finn,” said Ali, her eyes full of warmth and good humor. “Save us. You’re our last hope.”
“Fucking ridiculous.” Finn pulled a key a set of keys out of his pocket and shoved one into the lock. The door swung open and he stepped back. “Roslyn, if you change your mind just call out, okay?”
“Yay!” quietly cheered Ali.
“That’s enough out of you.” The sheriff gave the pregnant woman a long look. “We’re going to talk about this later.”
“I am at your disposal, my love,” Ali answered with a smile.
Roslyn stepped inside the jail cell. There really was a first time for everything. If she’d been feeling half-alive she might have strutted. Thrown in a little Elvis ‘Jailhouse Rock’ hip swivel, maybe just for fun. As it was, dragging her sorry carcass to the bed was about the most she could manage. Her legs were all wibbly-wobbly. Nick stood with his arms folded across his broad chest, doing his best to intimidate her or something. Yeah, right. She wished him all the best with that.
“Lucky I happen to like that scowly face on you,” she said. “Move over.”
He did so and she carefully lay down on the wide single bed. Oh yes indeed, that felt good. The cot was actually more comfortable than it looked. Life on the inside wasn’t so bad. Someone had even done some etchings on the wall beside her. They most closely resembled a man fornicating with a woman whose breasts were wildly oversized. The poor stick figure couldn’t hope to support such watermelon boobies, let alone handle the size of the guy’s equipment. The artist had been a real overachiever.
Lila shoved the pillows and blanket at Nick. “Get some food into her. Keep her comfortable. Send for me if she needs anything. Otherwise, I’ll be back later with her meds.”
The cell door clanged shut and Finn locked it. She was officially incarcerated. Huh. The places life could take you.
“Ah, life on the inside,” she said. “How did the theme from Prisoner go again?”
“This isn’t funny.” Nick knelt down beside her, dumping the linens on the floor. “What are you doing?”
“Spending time with my beau,” she said. “You?”
He breathed out a heavy sigh, poor boy. “I’m no good for you, Ros.”
“You’re awful cute when you trying to be self-sacrificing, Nicky. Less so when you’ve blurting out our personal affairs, but still.”
“I’m being serious.”
“Yes, so I see. I think you better hop down off the cross, honey. Someone else might need the wood.” She stroked his cheek with her good hand, teased the bristle of his beard. The hair on his jaw was a darker shade of brown than his head. He had the hottest mouth. The things that mouth could do. Hmm. Happy thoughts flooded her and her body came sluggishly awake, despite the pain meds and the ache in her shoulder. “What am I going to do with you?”
Nick wrapped his hand around her wrist, his thumb stroking over her pulse point. “You’re going to let me go. You’re safer away from me.”
“Perhaps. But I doubt it. I know for certain I wouldn’t be happier. Funnily enough, these days, that really matters to me.”