Storing Up Trouble (American Heiresses #3) - Jen Turano

Chapter 1

SEPTEMBER 1886

The truth of the matter was this—she, Miss Beatrix Waterbury, had been banished from New York, and all because she’d had the great misfortune of landing herself in jail . . . twice.

Granted, misleading her mother about Mr. Thomas Hamersley and the romantic relationship they didn’t share, what with how Thomas was now engaged to another woman, hadn’t helped the situation. Nevertheless, she truly hadn’t thought her mother would make good on her threats to ship her off to stay with Aunt Gladys, but apparently she’d been wrong about that.

Smoothing red curls that had escaped their pins back into place, Beatrix lurched against the small sink of the retiring room as the train came to yet another screeching stop. Realizing the train had probably stopped at Crown Point Station, which meant Chicago was only an hour or so away, she hurried out the door and toward the Pullman car she’d been enjoying on her long journey from New York City to Chicago.

Even though she was hardly looking forward to a stay with her aunt Gladys, a lady she barely knew but distinctly remembered as being a somewhat querulous sort, Chicago was considered an up-and-coming city, which meant . . .

“Watch where you’re going.”

Beatrix stumbled to a stop, her forward progress brought to a rapid end due to the large man who’d stepped in front of her and whom she’d just barreled into, a man who was certainly solid and most assuredly surly, given the tone of his voice. When she lifted her head, the apology she’d been about to voice got stuck in her throat as her gaze settled on the man now blocking her way.

That he was not what she’d been expecting to see in a Pullman car was an understatement.

Dirty dark hair straggled over the man’s face, but it wasn’t the hair that held her attention; it was the vivid white scar running from the man’s hairline down to his chin. It was a scar that suggested the man was used to rough living, a notion further encouraged when Beatrix shifted her attention to his small, beady eyes that were filled with something that caused the hair on the nape of her neck to stand to attention. Uncomfortable with the manner in which the man was looking at her, Beatrix dropped her gaze, sucking in a sharp breath when she realized the man was grasping a deadly looking pistol in his beefy hand—a pistol that was aimed her way.

Her head snapped up. “Have you taken leave of your senses?” she demanded, which had the man blinking his beady eyes. “This is hardly an appropriate setting to have a pistol out, so I’ll thank you to tuck that right away.”

“I ain’t the one that’s taken leave of my senses. This is a holdup, it is, and I’ll thank you to stop yapping and hand over that bag you got swinging from your wrist.”

Hoping she’d misheard what sounded like ominous words indeed, Beatrix glanced around the compartment, finding many of the passengers sitting still as statues, the gentlemen looking furious, while some of the ladies were dabbing at their eyes with handkerchiefs.

Any hope she’d been mistaken died in a single heartbeat.

Switching her attention back to the man who was evidently intent on robbing her, Beatrix frowned. “Shall I assume the train hasn’t stopped at Crown Point?”

“’Course not. We’d hardly be successful robbin’ a train at a station, would we, but enough with the questions. I’ll have that bag, and quickly if you know what’s good for you.”

Beatrix clutched the bag closer to her. “This bag has no monetary value and was made for me by a dear child who’d be devastated to learn I no longer have possession of it.”

The man took a step closer to Beatrix, so close in fact that the pistol he was holding pushed into her side. “You’re tryin’ my patience.”

“I’d give him the bag if I were you,” a gentleman called out from behind the man sticking a pistol in her side.

Although Beatrix knew that was sound advice indeed, the idea of handing over her belongings to a thief left a sour taste in her mouth.

She was not a lady tolerant of those who sought to rob innocents of their possessions. However, the man was threatening her with a pistol, which meant her only course of action as far as she could see would be to cooperate—to a certain extent.

Forcing herself to meet the man’s gaze, she refused a wince when she detected a