Reed glanced down at his boots and then stared into her eyes. “Gracie, tonight ye will give me a full explanation of who you truly are and where ye come from. No more secrets. If ye still want to get back home, I’ll do my best to help ye get there, I promise. But please don’t keep lying to me, lass.” He searched her eyes and noticed a deep emotion of shame as she lowered her lashes, or it could have been regret.
“Why do you want to know me?” Reed didn’t answer her. She knew why. Nascongo was his town and it was his responsibility to know each and every one of them. Gracie was no exception to his rules. In fact, she was especially mysterious since two strange men come into town a couple days after she popped up.
She fluffed the skirts of her dress nervously. “Well, you will not believe what I have to say and if anyone else finds out what I tell you, then you might as well condemn me to a horrible death.” Reed’s brow furrowed and he took a step back.
“A horrible death? What have ye done to think ye deserve that? Mayhap ye need to tell me now.”
Gracie snorted. “I don’t think you can handle the truth, Mr. Ferguson. You men see a damsel in distress jumping in to prove you’re all macho and then cower from the truth because you can’t handle it.”
Reed’s jaw dropped. Where the hell did that come from? he thought for a moment and turned away from the impulse of throwing her into the river. She was back to being the old Gracie that always talked around the truth; the strange woman who acted like a man yet emanated a deep hatred for them.
“After everything I’ve done for ye, ye continue to practically castrate me?” Reed started walking and Gracie struggled to keep up with his pace.
“How am I castrating you, Reed, by being me? This is who I am. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut because where I come from, people, mainly men, take complete advantage of everything around them.”
“You think I took advantage of you? Since ye have a hard time keeping your mouth shut, why didn’t ye just tell me no?” Reed walked faster and Gracie hurried to catch up.
“What? I don’t think we’re on the same page, here.” He turned on his heels and charged toward her.
“Will ye stop talking like that? I get a headache trying to translate yer garble into plain English!”
“So how the hell are you going to understand the truth, Reed? Huh? You think I gave you a headache just now, wait until we put all the cards on the table later.”
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