Heaven with a Gun

Free Heaven with a Gun by Connie Brockway

Book: Heaven with a Gun by Connie Brockway Read Free Book Online
Authors: Connie Brockway
Tags: Romance
probably some years older than Uncle Ox. Ox had lived like . . . well, an ox, and that tended to put years on a man’s face. For all Gilly knew, Ox might be a decade younger than Jim. All too obviously he was also a savage, bare-knuckle grappler, who’d think nothing of gouging eyes—even Jim’s glorious Irish blue eyes! Not to mention breaking bones and —
    She twisted free of Mort’s hold and started hopping one-footed toward the melee, the need to rescue Jim spurring her on.
    “Stop it! Leave him alone!” she hollered, red-faced with her efforts to get back into the closed circle of loud, drunk, cheering spectators. She tried to push her way through them, but they were having none of it, repelling her most determined efforts to break in. Mort caught her hopping up and down on the outskirts of the crowd and grabbed her around the waist, hauling her backward, her cast leaving a deep groove in the dirt.
    “Come on, Mrs. Coyne,” he panted. “You heard Jim. He doesn’t want you witnessing this.”
    A loud pained “uff” rose from the center of the crowd.
    “Just wait over here and—”
    “Wait for what?” Another cheer went up from the bloodthirsty crowd at the dull smack of flesh meeting flesh. “My husband to get torn apart? I have to stop this! Jim could get hurt!”
    “Ma’am?” Mort blinked at her incredulously.
    “You’ve got to help me stop this before Jim gets hurt!”
    “ Jim get hurt?”
    “Yes! Are you deaf?”
    “No, ma’am. But Ox’ll be the one who gets hurt. I mean, Ox is nasty, but he’s no champion like Jim. You didn’t know that?” His brow furrowed in perplexity.
    “Champion of what?” She broke free of Mort’s grasp just as the wildly cheering crowd parted, and Jim Coyne, one sleeve ripped off, blood trickling from one corner of his mouth, hair curling riotously, walked calmly from their midst. Behind him, she could just make out a prone figure lying in the dirt.
    She noted Jim’s rueful, apologetic expression, and tears started in her eyes.
    “Let’s go home, Jim,” she said, securing his arm and leading him down the street.
    Behind them, a thoughtful Mort James watched their departure.
    “I made me twenty-seven bucks betting on Jim Coyne.” Merry appeared at Mort’s side, waving a handful of bills under the front of his nose. “What’s wrong with you, Mortie James? You weren’t fool enough to bet on Ox, were you?”
    “No,” Mort said, gaze fixed on the flash of plaster appearing and disappearing beneath the belling swing of Mrs. Coyne’s skirts. “Miz Carmichael, wouldn’t you think it’s odd if a wife didn’t know her husband was the 1880 New York State Middleweight Boxing Champion?”
    “Huh?” Merry said, searching her person for a place to stash her winnings, finally tucking it deep in her cleavage.
    “Never mind,” Mort said.

Chapter Eight
     
     
    “Take your shirt off.” Her tone brooked no argument, so he did as he was told and stripped off his shirt while she went into the bedroom to get her dratted old horse liniment.
    “Come in here.”
    He appeared in the doorframe , looking wary.
    “I’ve spread a sheet on the bed. This stuff stains terribly and it stings at first. At least Juniper always twitches when I . . .” Her voice trailed off and as her gaze fell on his chest. “Sit down.”
    He sat. She approached cautiously, warily, as though he were a suddenly unknown quantity and not a man with whom she’d shared five damnably blameless nights, and scooped out a little dollop of the oily-looking salve and placed the jar on the table before stepping between his splayed knees.
    She swallowed, and his gaze fell on the movement with the intensity of a predator’s on its prey. Her skirts brushed his inner thighs.
    Business. It was all business, she told herself sternly. Gingerly, she spread the ointment on his left shoulder near the yellowing bruises that Tommy and his pals had given him a few days before. He winced and she winced in

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