Fiddlestix – Part 13

Although she’s exhausted, Fiddlestix can’t seem to settle down and find the sleep she so badly needs. Now that she’s stopped moving, her thoughts have a chance to catch up, leaving her with an eerie, unwavering concern.

Instead of falling asleep right away, her eyes drifted shut, but her mind remained obstinately alert. She was able, in the dark and quiet, to reflect upon the recent events, filtering them. Why had Scarlet Varin run away? What if Varin’s interest in finding her was not fear for her safety, but a desire for revenge?

Sitting up in bed, she was no longer sleepy. That was one hell of a ‘what if’! Maybe the reason she left without a word was not fear from the outside after all. Could Varin be planning not only to find Scarlet, but destroy her safe zones? By coming here, had she put Deacon’s people at risk? What about Karl? They were even more vulnerable. Varin was a rich man, he could easily pay to have a private army come against them. But why?

“I’ve been a fool,” she castigated herself. Dressing quickly, she left the room, heading back to Deacon’s office.

Deacon looked up surprised, but pleased, when she walked in unannounced. “Hannah, I thought you were sleeping.”

She shared her speculations with him. With each word, Deacon’s face clouded more, his blue eyes going gray with worry.

“Do you think the men know?” He referred to Blacksmith and Buzzard.

“I doubt it.” They were hired only a few weeks ago.”

“So, what do you want to do?”

“Contact Karl,” was her clipped reply. “I assume you can do that?”

“Not without the proper codes, Belle.”

“I can handle that, if you can get me a clean line.”

Deacon’s face was set in lines of deep concern. She felt guilty having been the cause of this, but it could not be helped.

“I feel so stupid, Deacon.”

“Why, Belle?”

“I fell for a sob story,” she complained. “It was naive of me.”

“No, just shows you have a tender heart and you’re a true romantic.” He chuckled, kissing her playfully. “Come on, Belle, we’ll get that phone for you.”

They walked to the main communications room. Deacon’s younger brother, Jasper, met them at the door. Once he heard Fiddlestix’ suppositions, he leaned against the wall, tapping his foot, thinking. Jasper was brilliant, but because he took his time working through possible ramifications before replying, he was slow to answer.

“I think,” he rubbed his nose with the back of one hand, “that before you come in here or make any calls, we need to debug you and your pals.”He even spoke in a slow, Southern drawl.

“Debug?” Deacon was incredulous.

“Anything you were wearing or had with you, even your sidearms. It all needs to get scanned. You aren’t coming in this room without you do that, Hannah.”

“Jasper, come on!” Deacon was incredulous.

Jasper’s dark eyes riveted his older brother. He was taller by several inches and had about fifty pounds of muscle on Deacon.

“You put me in charge of communications security for a reason, Deacon. Don’t make me remind you why.”

“He’s right, Deacon,” Fiddlestix said, her natural paranoia kicking into high gear.

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