There were lights in the private railcar. One of the railroad backers, no doubt. She'd bet they were out here keeping a close eye on their investment.
They drew closer and Katie could see someone on the observation platform. A red spark waxed and waned, moving as the man standing there raised a cigar to his mouth, then lowered it. As she watched, someone opened the door behind him, casting light across his face.
She stopped walking. She couldn't help herself. "Oh my God!"
"What? What's the matter, Katie?" Luke asked, stopping beside her.
"It's him!" she whispered, so softly he almost didn't hear her. For a moment she stood dead still, staring up at the man on the platform. Then she dodged back into the shadows between two boxcars.
Luke didn't know what was going on, but he knew she was either mad as hell or scared to death. Maybe a little of both.
"Let's get out of here," he said, pulling her back the way they'd come. She stumbled once, then trotted beside him. From behind them came the sound of low-pitched laughter.
Katie went along with him until they crossed behind some boxcars and were out of sight of the private railcar. Then she set her feet and pulled him to a stop. "Let me go!"
He held tightly to her wrist. "Why? You gonna go back there and shoot him?"
"Yes! I mean ... no. What makes you think I'd do a thing like that?"
"Lady, you were either mad enough to blow a hole in that dude, or you were scared witless." Wrapping an arm around her waist, he forced her to walk beside him. "Whichever, it was time for you to walk away. You meet your enemy all hot under the collar, he's got the advantage." A lesson every soldier learned the hard way.
Katie stayed close beside him, not speaking, but not releasing her vise-like grip on his arm. Luke became aware of something heavy and hard in her skirt, bumping his leg with each step. "You carrying a gun?" He meant it as a joke.
Her hand darted down to touch the heavy object, slipped between the folds of her skirt. "I'd be stupid not to, traveling alone like I am."
The strength of her voice stopped him in his tracks. Releasing his hold on her waist, Luke spun to face her. "Damn it, Katie, you really are!"
Even in the dark, he could see the flash of silver as her hand came from her pocket. "I said I was." She held it out for his view. A one-shot derringer, ornately chased with silver. It nestled nicely in her small hand.
"And I suppose it's loaded, too?" He couldn't keep the sarcasm from his voice.
Katie's frown showed in her voice. "Luke, I'd be a fool to carry an unloaded gun, now wouldn't I? That'd do me a whole lot of good."
"People who carry guns are askin' to get shot," he said, resuming his walk. He let her decide whether to join him or not.
Damn it all, anyhow! Luke ground his teeth. Here he'd been thinking what an easy job he'd have, protecting the pretty little girl from the occasional ruffian and ladies' man she might encounter. He hadn't entirely believed her story about the Boston swell. In his opinion, she must have given Whitney some reason to expect she'd welcome his attentions.
So why was she so scared of him? Scared enough to be carrying a loaded gun for protection.
What the dickens kind of crazy mess had he got himself into the middle of?