Dance Hall Road

Reluctant Good Samaritan Buck Hoyt boiling mad, cursing and sputtering, hunkered down in front of the woman. Her eyes flew open, and long black lashes moist with tears brushed her dirty cheeks. The color of those eyes startled him. They were blue, blue as lake water in summer. Her complexion, beneath all the grime, he suspected, would be porcelain white, as white as his mother’s fine bone china, not nut brown and weathered as he’d presumed. He’d expected to find an Indian woman; that would’ve made sense. Indian women often went off by themselves to give birth. But a white woman, no, never.

Obviously terrified, she stared up at him, her beautiful orbs darting, flicking and flashing. She sat there shaking, her eyes blinking.

He growled and thrust the blankets at her, hating her, hating himself, hating the whole damn mess. “Here.”

She didn’t move. Ruthlessly, he snatched the howling baby from her to wrap him up tight in the other blanket before thrusting the socks at her. She sat there, looking stupid, and he groaned with foreboding—clearly, she was dumber than the boulder behind her.

Looking up through the falling snow, he complained to the higher power in charge. “Now I’m saddled with a damn half-wit whore and a squealing brat. Why me? You know who I am. I’m a devoted sinner, and I like it. Putting their lives in my hands is like putting both of them on the road straight to Hades. And if this is some kind of test, I can tell you right now, I aint’ got a snowball’s-chance-in-hell of passin’. No sir. And this woman is gonna suffer because you had to go and try to teach me some kind of lesson. There ain’t no sense in it, and you’re wasting your time.”