"Thanks, but I don't think we're headed the same direction." She turned to get Yedi and ride away. The rope settled over her and yanked tight at her chest. She stopped. He'd offered to help but now it appeared he had other intentions. A nagging sense of dismay eked at her. What could she do now? She needed to think.
"Missy, these parts ain't safe for the likes of you." The rope tightened, forcing her to stumble in his direction. "You need a feller to protect you an' I be thinkin' that feller should be me. Why not? I saved ya from a nasty death of starvation 'til you be too tired to fight off the varmints. As I see it, you owe me."
Had he never heard of chivalry? Was such nonexistent here?
"As I see it, you've done your good turn for the day."
"Ya come along with me an' I'll let ya keep yer 'orse."
Was he actually ignoring her? Did he really intend for her to be able to keep her horse? Or did he plan a subterfuge of some kind? She tried a different tactic. "Horse stealing is a hanging offense you know."
"Ya cook my meals and I'll feed you. I be thinkin' I might even share my blanket with you to keep ya warm."
Ah, gee thanks, you old buzzard. His leer turned uglier, stripping her with his cold blue eyes. Her skin crawled. He rubbed his rough beard.
"Been dreamin' of a warm bed. Even been prayin' fer one. Guess the good Lord answers prayers. Whatda ya say? Come with me and 'ave the nice things?"
"Never." Trish struggled against the rough bands about her arms and chest, trying to break free. It was a mistake. He pulled the rope tighter, cutting into her skin.
"I done fought meaner heifers than you, girl."
He tramped toward her, closing the distance between them until he was so close she smelled the layers of dirt and sweat. She threw her knee at his groin, intending to drive him to his knees long enough to escape. Instead she found her knee caught in layers of filthy cloth sending a more putrid whiff of his stench to her senses. He chuckled, his stale breath of decayed teeth and food engulfing her, turning her stomach. He dragged his filthy hand across her face, pinching her mouth between his fingers.
His eyes tightened on her. "Ya come along nice an' sweet like, an' I won't 'ave to get mean. Maybe ya like the feel of spurs to yar skin. I gave up cowboy'n in favor of huntin' for gold. But don't think Old Curly's lost his touch. I's can still rodeo with the best of 'em. Ya give me trouble an' I just might think of goin' back." He continued making his vile plans while he tied her hands. "That 'orse of yourn don't 'ave much for hind quarters on 'em, but Old Curly could do some right sharp 'orse tradin' an' get me one that do."
She tuned his sordid verbiage out for the moment. She had to watch for the chance to escape.
When he indicated she mount Yedi her hopes soared. Yedi would respond to her leg cues. She didn't have the chance to settle herself before Old Curly climbed up behind her, wrapping his filthy arms around her and hissing his lurid plans in her ear. Her stomach churned at his debasing comments and sickening odors.
This was not the kind of adventure she'd hoped for.