They stopped at the hitching post outside of Belulah’s Boarding House, he taking her hands and she looking up at him with a troubled face. Lights from inside Belulah’s made the front porch glow, but it wasn’t the shadows there that Virgil was considering. He was intent on something else entirely. Chloe could tell the whole time they were walking that something was going on, but Virgil wouldn’t speak of it.
“I want you to run on inside and don’t look back,” he whispered as he leant down, presumably to buss her cheek in a gesture of affection. His thick mustache was soft against her skin, but the turn of his face and glint of his eye let her know he wasn’t in a romantic mood at all. Something had alarmed him.
“What’s the matter?” she whispered back, but he ignored her.
“It was a mighty fine dance, darlin’,” he said loudly, as he straightened. He tugged at his hat brim in a courtly salute. “It was a privilege escorting you. May I call upon you tomorrow?”
“Yes, you may,” Chloe replied in formal tones. Virgil was trying to shield her from view from someone, it seemed, but the dark engulfed the street. Movement caught her eye – she thought she saw the figure of another woman coming toward them, but why would Virgil think that a threat?
“I had a lovely time as well. I will see you again tomorrow,” she added, distracted.
Virgil gave her a nudge and she knew him well enough by now not to argue with the look on his face, the look that said he was prepared to deal death to anyone who crossed him. She made her way up the steps, paused and turned to see him stalk away into the dark, frock coat flipped away from his hip, hand on his pistol. He was probably worried about the safety of that other woman, Chloe reasoned. Part of her wanted to go on inside – this was the life of a sheriff in this town, always at dangers’ call.