Suzanne discovers Roy has duped her
The hot wind hit her in the face as she punched the door open and heard it slam against the wall. Her boots pounded down the boardwalk making it sound as if there were a stampede of horses following her. It didn't matter what she sounded like or who watched her. Her face felt as if the sun had burnt it to a crisp. Her heart felt as if it were beating so hard and breaking at the same time. She couldn't handle it, she had to hide.
Dust swirled behind her in a tornado and a team of horses screamed as the driver hauled their reins back to keep from trampling her to pieces. The hooves of the front two pawed the air over her head, but Suzanne marched on unaware of her near death experience. Her full skirts, grasped in tight fists swung back and forth as she made her way through the doorway of her rooming house and up the stairs.
"Miz Suzie," A voice called from somewhere behind her. She couldn't stop. Not for all the gold in the hills around her or all the guns fastened to the thighs of the cowboys below. One more voice and she wouldn't be able to hold back the tears dammed behind her eyes threatening to overflow at any moment.
She shoved the key in the lock and wrenched the knob almost twisting it off the door. Inside she slammed and locked it, thrusting the bolt firmly into place. Then threw herself onto her bed and let go. Tears flowed as she gripped the chenille bedspread into her mouth to stop the sobs.
"The lying, good for nothing,..." her thoughts filled in some of the expletives she'd hear over the last four months she'd been living in Eastern Oregon.
When she'd met Roy all those months ago, he'd just been someone that treated her as an equal, a friend. He'd helped her find housing on the first day and a job with the Monroe's as their children's governess. All of it manipulation to get her to where she could provide him with information. She'd eaten dinner with him on the back porch of the Monroe house and spilled all her secrets. The reason she'd run from Portland after hearing her father had paid her so-called-friends, to include her in their parties. That he couldn't pay them enough to marry her.
All she'd wanted when she arrived in Baker City, Oregon was to write articles about miners and the families they'd left behind. She'd been so naïve back then. She found out soon enough life in the small town was just as petty and prejudice as the big city.
She searched for a hanky and scrubbed her face. Her eyes hardened when she saw the curled edges of the folder filled with stories about life in 1909 in a mining town. She'd been so sure the newspapers would want these stories.
Roy had read them. He'd given her ideas and encouraged her to write about the real life here. The underworld life. The atrocities against the Chinese and other miners.
He'd lied to her. He'd told her he was a driver. He did drive wagons from Baker City to Pendleton. He'd pick up things at the smaller towns along the way. He'd taken her to see the wall the Chinese made from rock after mining the gold.
She'd never suspected he was a lawman. Not just a law man, he worked for a branch of the government she'd never heard of. FBI? What was that?
"It's a new branch just formed to track criminals across the country." She'd heard him say not just an hour ago. "I was sent here to act under cover and find the trail of opium coming into the country." She'd pressed her back against the wall, just as she'd done in her dad's office while he talked to the young men in his conference room.
"What about the girl?" The voice was unfamiliar to her ears. "I heard you had a local contact you'd set up to feed you information."
"Oh her. Yes, she's a half Chinese girl. She's been very helpful in getting me into the Monroe house. I was able to find the tunnel he uses to get the drugs stored and transferred on to the trains headed east."
"She knows nothing?" The voice asked.
"No. She thinks I'm helping her to write articles to send to newspapers back east. She wants to be a reporter." He guffawed. The sound pierced her skin and she shivered, but didn't move.
"She's not going to go running to the Sheriff when all this goes down. You'll have to get out of town and lets us clean up the mess. Mr. Monroe will be arrested and taken to prison along with the rest of his gang. You have their names too?"
"Oh yes. Here's everything I found and its a good case against them."
"It won't be long now. Another day or two and we'll have the operation closed up and you'll be on your way to a new job." She heard what sounded like a slap on the back. She could imagine the other man rewarding Roy for his good work.
"Now get the girl to a safe place so she isn't caught in the crossfire."
"Yes, Sir. She has a place at the rooming house. Mr. Monroe didn't want her sleeping in his house." Roy responded.
"Good. Keep her there for a couple of days till this is over. If you know what I mean. Its not like you care about her. Chinese are good for one thing." The loud laugh from the other man made Suzanne cringe.
"Right. I'll take care of her. Keep her out of the way." There was something odd in the way Roy answered. She wondered if the other man had his arm around Roy's neck. "She's no use to the bureau anymore."
With that she'd whirled and headed for the front of the building, not caring who saw her leave.
Her anger and tears stopped. She fell asleep exhausted from her spent emotions. A knock at the door awakened her, it continued a few times, but never grew louder. No one called her name. Footsteps sounded as the person moved away from the door and down the hall.
She lit the kerosene lamp and felt for her pendant watch. It was almost five thirty. The sun would be slipping behind the mountains and the town would be in darkness. She poured water into a basin and dipped the washcloth in. Just as she finished wiping the tear stains from her face she heard a scraping noise outside her room facing the back alley.
Fingers appeared below the partly open window and the window slid up. A head stuck through the curtain. A handsome face with blue eyes and a wide smile looked around the room until they found her. "Hello. Why didn't you open your door?" Roy put his arms and leg through the window the rest of his body still on the wide ledge outside.
Suzanne picked up the basin with its remains of wash water and threw it at him. Water sprayed his face and shirt. "Hey!" He roared trying to keep his voice from being heard outside the room.
She picked up the pitcher and flung its contents at him hitting him full in the face and drenching him. By now he was in the room and in two steps had his hands around her arms keeping them from throwing the metal pitcher in the water's wake.
"What's the matter with you?" He ground out marching her backwards and pinning her to the wall.
"You lying, thieving, shyster!" Her voice rose with each word.
"Hush! do you want to bring the whole place to the door?" He looked up to see the transom cracked a little to give the room cross ventilation. "What's going on?"
"You lied to me. You lied and tricked me. Get out, get out of my room." Tears of anger and hurt built up in her eyes and she tried to make the anger take over. She wasn't going to blubber in front of him.
Roy released the pressure on her arms, but didn't let go. "I'm sorry."
"So it's true, what I heard."
"What and where did you hear something?" His eyes, that she'd come to love, pinned her where she stood.
"I saw you going into the Mercantile. I thought I'd sneak around back and meet you when you came out. When you didn't, I went in the back door and down the hall. I heard you talking to another man and slipped into a supply room. The two of you went into the room next to me. I could hear everything you and he said."
He dropped his head, his chin resting on his chest. "Suzie, I'm sorry you heard that."
"Sorry you got caught is more like it," She brought her fists up to his chest, but he held them there, his large palms wrapped around them.
"I couldn't tell you I was an agent. I didn't know if I could trust you. At least at first. Its true." His expression of regret wasn't lost on her. She wanted to believe him. She would let him talk. "When I met you and thought I'd help you then go back to what I was hired to do. You seemed to get into trouble all the time. Going where women didn't go. Asking questions no reporter would ask. Causing yourself all kinds of problems. Then it was fun just watching you. When I was out of town I worried what you were doing. I'd hurry back driving as fast as I could to get the payload back to Baker City." He slid his hands around hers weaving his fingers into hers.
"Then it was too late. I'd come to l- respect you. I couldn't tell you what I was doing. You were treating this like we were spying, which we were, but it was for real. All the information I gathered from you, going into Monroe's office and into the basement where we almost got caught was for real. All I wanted to do was get what we needed to arrest Monroe and get you out of here."
His hand came under her chin as he raised her face to his, "I never meant to hurt you."
"Why didn't you just come out and tell me the truth?" she asked again.
"I guess I did and look what happened. You threw things at me." He grinned a lopsided grin at her. " I have to go on to my next assignment. I came here because I have a letter for you." He held up a slightly soggy envelope
Suzanne took it from him and opened it. The letter came from the Washington Post in New York. The Editor said they liked her stories and wanted her to do a series for them called 'Life in a Gold Town'
"Roy, They're going to pay me for my articles. They are going to send me a train ticket to come to New York and possibly work for them." Her eyes grew wide with excitement. The pain she'd felt just a short time ago lessened as the promise of a new life was offered.
"Congratulations." He stepped back toward the window.
"I won't see you before I leave. I want you to know I think the world of you." He coughed to clear his throat. "My heart won't be quite the same as it was before I met you."
Suzanne threw herself into his arms and hugged him, then pressed her lips to his for the first time.