Grabbing her bag, Nyssa walked back into the station and asked the small wiry man behind the counter if a message had been left for her. He shook his head no. Feeling a little more than nervous, Nyssa made her way back outside.
Maybe she should just get back on the stagecoach before it left. She must be crazy to come hundreds of miles to see a man she had never even met. He could be a weird old coot for all she knew.
"He probably can’t even take the time to come and get. He’s probably sending some shmuck to get me. This is crazy," Nyssa mumbled to herself. Nyssa was so drawn into her own thoughts that she jumped when a buckboard wagon came to a stop directly in front of her. The driver pushed his cowboy hat back on his head as he turned to look at her.
She was preparing to turn down some buckaroo that thought she might be easy-pickings when the deep voice of the man that sat there asked her, "Ms. Dupre? Mr. Jones sent me to pick you up and take you to Mr. Dupre’s residence."
Nyssa stood up and grabbed her bag, walking to the wagon. She eyed the large guy in the seat. Not bad. She certainly wouldn’t kick him out of her bed for eating crackers. He was very easy on the eyes and big as a horse.
Shoulder length black hair, smoky gray eyes, darkly tanned skin, and shoulders as wide as the Mississippi. Oh yeah, he was a looker all right. He had thick muscular arms, a chest so broad and rippled that she could see each muscle move under his tight shirt. And those thighs. Damn! His faded Kentucky jeans were so tight she wondered if they were cutting of the circulation to his brain.
Because he was staring at her like he had just won the world’s biggest poker game. She wanted to look her fill but she was uncomfortable with him looking at her the same way, as if seeing her naked was the most important thing in the world. Yeah, it was a double standard and Nyssa knew it.
Nyssa glared at him as she climbed into the front seat, tossed her bag in the back and settled down. She turned to look at the sexy man again. It really was too bad she wasn’t looking for a lover. He would fit the bill to a tee.
But then, she knew he would have to speak and that would not be good. Because Nyssa was pretty sure he would have a sexy deep raspy voice, the same voice that had been so rude to her on the phone.
"Well, Ms. Dupre, welcome to Applegate Valley. Mr. Dupre was unable to come get you so he asked me to." Damn! She was right!
"You apparently know who I am. Who are you?"
"I’m the schmuck!" He chuckled.
"Oh, sorry." Oops!
He chuckled again as he snapped the reins and got the wagon moving. "No, you’re not."
Nyssa couldn’t help but laugh. "No, I’m not." Well, at least he had a sense of humor. She hoped. "I probably shouldn’t go around calling you schmuck. Is there something else I can call you?"
"I don’t know, schmuck kind of fits right now. But if you’re really curious, it’s Sheriff Lucas Nash."
The sheriff? Already? Well, hell! That just cut her visit time down to nearly nothing. Experience had taught her that once the local law enforcement was involved, she would soon be on the road to someplace new. She thought she would have a couple of weeks at least before she had to move on.
If it weren’t so important for her to meet with Mr. Dupre, she would have told the good sheriff to take her right back to the stagecoach station. Mr. Dupre had been good enough to provide her with an open-ended ticket. She could leave anytime she wanted, headed anywhere within 1,000 miles.
"So," Sheriff Nash began, "how well do you know Mr. Dupre?"
"I’ve never actually met the man." Well, it was the truth. She had never met him. They had been corresponding for about six months now. Mr. Dupre had contacted her through a newspaper ad Nyssa had placed in the Philadelphia Register concerning her search for her family. They had hit it off and begun writing letters back and forth.
When Mr. Dupre had asked her to come for a visit, how could she say no? He was nearly the only friend she had. Of course, that was because he didn’t really know about her and all of her little—peculiarities.
"Do you always go to visit men you’ve never met?" There was a slight tinge of jealousy and disgust in his voice when he asked.
Nyssa rolled her eyes as she stared across the cab of the bronco at the sheriff. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. I especially like to make sure that they are rich old men so I can milk them for all of their money. It’s what I’m good at," she replied sarcastically.
"Really? And you know that Mr. Dupre is rich because—?"
Geez! He actually believed that crap? "Are you for real?"
"Oh, I assure you, Ms. Dupre, I am very much for real," he assured her as he pulled into a long gated driveway.
Nyssa looked up the driveway to see the biggest Greek Revival style house she had ever seen. It was huge, at least three stories tall with several large windows in the front. She wondered how many windows were in the back and how many people had to be employed just to clean them all. Yikes!
"This is Mr. Dupre’s house?" She asked, astonished by the sheer size of the place.
"I’d think you would already know that, Ms. Dupre, considering you’re after Mr. Dupre’s money and all. Didn’t you do your research before you agreed to come down here?"
Nyssa snorted. "Oh my gods, are you serious? I thought that at least one person in this little backwater town would have a modicum of intelligence. Guess I was wrong."