This is what’s going on now – the lads have taken Emily out to the theater to avoid the hubbub over the “arrest” of Devon Day and the Sweetwater Kid …
Chance’s baseline expression…
Emily leaned over as we took our seats in the box. “I am not certain that I quite agree with you, my dear.”
I was only half-listening, having caught a glimpse of the positively scandalous neckline on the dress Mrs. Scott flaunted in the box across the theater from us. That lady gave me a knowing smile and turned so that I could admire her silhouette. Emily slapped my arm with her fan.
“What?” I hastily put on a Contrite Face. “I mean, do forgive me, my dear. I must be feeling my age tonight if my attention could wander from your radiant beauty.”
She snorted and slapped me harder. “Age be damned, Chance Knight. If you’re 25 I shall eat my hat, feathers and all. And I saw what Eudora Scott had the audacity to wear at her age.”
I ducked my head as sheepishly as I could. My blasted curls promptly flopped over my eyes. Kye chuckled and I reached behind Emily’s back to clout him one on the shoulder. His answering punch was immediate and painful. I readied my fist once more.
“Boys,” our companion murmured, swatting each of us with the fan. “While it might be amusing to watch the two of you wrestling, I do feel that it is something we should save for the privacy of your own home.”
Kye’s ears went red. I hiked an eyebrow at Miss Sharp. “I shall have to remember that sometime. I had no idea that your interests lay in that area.”
“That is not what I meant, and well you know it. We were discussing Devon Day and the Sweetwater Kid.”
“We were not.” Ye gods, was there no escape?
“Do you really believe that all outlaws belong behind bars?”
My eyebrow rose once more. “I believe that I was merely asking a rhetorical question, my dear.”
An obstinate expression crossed her face. This was an expression I was familiar with, and I restrained a sigh. I was not going to be able to weasel my way out of an argument. And I knew from sad experience that even a sudden about-face to her side would not save me. I shoved my hair back out of my eyes and glanced upward in supplication. The ceiling had no answers for me, not that it ever had.
Emily crossed her arms. “You are prevaricating, my dear. Mr. Hamilton asked you a direct question, and you side-stepped the issue.”
Kye leaned forward, rubbing the bicep I had punched. “Chance don’t never give his opinion, Miss Emily. Ain’t you noticed?”
“I had noticed. And I am pinning the scoundrel down in this instance.” She turned to fix a glare upon me. “What is your true opinion of the outlaws in question?”
This was why I avoided such questions. I could hardly tell the woman the truth. I widened my eyes and tugged a half-smile onto my lips. “I cannot understand your interest in the subject, my dear. The question is moot at this point, as the law has caught up to them at last.”
This was the truth, though Emily would never know it. Having to give up our lives as Devon Day and the Sweetwater Kid was nearly as bad as actually going to jail. Damn Kirkham and his Association. I’d had my eye on the Deweyburg bank for months. All that silver from the mine … and now my plans were foiled forever.
Emily kept up her glare. “The point, my dear, is that you are dancing around the subject. I should like a straight answer. My interest is irrelevant.”
Fortunately, at this point the orchestra increased their volume, signaling the beginning of the play. The lights in the house dimmed, and a spotlight focused all attention on the stage. I heard a sigh from my companion as I happily turned my attention to our evening’s entertainment. Perhaps by the intermission, the woman would have forgotten the entire incident.
No such luck. As soon as the gaslights came back up, Emily extended a hand, and as I helped her to her feet, leaned close to my ear. “Do not think that I have forgotten our conversation. I am going to get an honest answer out of you — one way or another.”
God forbid. The only time Chance Knight gave an honest answer was when there was nothing at stake. And even then, I have been known to bend the truth, just to keep my hand in. If only Emily weren’t so very sharp. She had an alarming tendency to see through many of my schemes. In fact, I had recently began to suspect the woman might actually be immune to my Faces. And a con-man without his Faces is … well, the thought just did not bear dwelling upon.
I managed to avoid the issue as we mingled. I also managed to get a close look at that scandalous dress. Emily thumped my shoulder as I angled towards the Scotts, but pasted on a smile as the lady turned to display her prodigious bosoms.
“Eudora,” she murmured, kissing the air beside Mrs. Scott’s cheek. “It is warm in here, isn’t it? So sensible of you to dress for the heat.”
Mrs. Scott, thankfully, was one of those women with more bosom than brains. She merely smiled happily and angled her best assets in my direction. Her husband took firm hold of her elbow and steered her toward the refreshment table. Kye, on his way back from the same area, stepped out of the way and hoisted his plate above the couple’s head. He glanced downward and his face went red. I elbowed him as he returned to our side.
“You need some air, partner?”
Kye’s elbow hit my ribs with a thump, nearly shoving me into a potted palm. He shoved half of a slice of cake into his mouth, probably to avoid answering me.
Emily turned her back on the retreating couple. “I trust no more will be said about this unfortunate wardrobe choice. The woman does not have the sense of a ground squirrel, after all.”
I leaned close. “She’s got a couple of things no ground squirrel has, though.”
“A gentleman would not deign to notice.”
Good thing I never claimed to be a gentleman.