In the morning, Amelia stayed in her room until her father left for the jail. Then she went into the kitchen fried up some eggs and sausage and made a stack of pancakes and a fresh pot of coffee. She put the food on a couple of plates and placed them in her basket, along with a coffee cup, silverware, and a container of maple syrup. Then with her basket on her arm and the pot of coffee in her hand, she stepped out onto the wooden walkway.
Her father looked up from his desk when the jail door opened.
“Amelia, what are you doing here?”
“I’ve brought breakfast for the prisoner. You certainly don’t plan to starve him, do you?”
“That was very thoughtful of you. I’ll be happy to see that he gets it.”
Amelia stamped her foot and gripped the coffee pot tighter. “I will take it to him. He is allowed visitors, isn’t he?”
“I’m sorry, but, no, he’s not. I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“You mean you don’t think it’s a good idea for me? Well, what if I insist on seeing him? What if I refuse to leave until you allow me to see him?”
“Amelia, would you please be reasonable?”
“I’m not the one being unreasonable.” She glared at her father.
“Fine, but you’ll be staying on the outside of the bars, young lady.”
“Thank you, Daddy.” Her tone anything but appreciative as she stepped through the doorway into the short, narrow hallway that separated the jail’s two cells.
“Amelia, what are you doin’ here?” Cade rose from his cot and strode to the bars that separated him from Amelia.
“Well, good morning to you too. I brought you breakfast.”
Her father opened the cell long enough for her to hand the basket and coffee pot to Cade, then he shut the door and stood looking at Amelia.
“You can go now.” She raised her chin in defiance.
“You did what you came for, Amelia. You can go home now and I’ll bring back the basket and dishes later.”
Amelia crossed her arms and didn’t budge. She noticed from the corner of her eye that Cade had taken a seat on the cot and had begun to eat.
Her father sighed and, mumbling under his breath, he left her standing outside Cade’s cell and returned to his desk in the other room.
As soon as the door closed behind the sheriff, Cade rose and strode to the barred door that separated him from Amelia.
“Amelia, you really shouldn’t antagonize your father like that.” He reached through the bars and took her hand in his.
“Why not? He’s being ridiculous. He probably wouldn’t have locked you up if he hadn’t seen me with you twice. I’m so sorry about this, but you won’t be here much longer.” She moved closer and reached her arm through the bars so that her hand cupped his face.
He covered her hand with his and kissed her palm.
“Eat the rest of your food before it gets cold.” She smiled at him.
He reluctantly returned to the cot and resumed his meal, never taking his eyes off of her. When he finished, he picked up the napkin to wipe his mouth and a piece of paper fell from it and floated to his lap. “What’s this?” He looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
She bit her lower lip and waited as he read the words she had scrawled there.
In a few minutes, he closed the gap to the bars between them once again. “Amelia, I can’t let you do this.” He kept his voice low so it wouldn’t carry into the outer room.
“Cade, I’ll do whatever it takes to get you out of here so that we can be together.”
“But don’t you see, if you do this, we’ll never be free. Your father would never stop searching for you.”
“He can’t continue treating me like a child. I’m a grown woman.”
Cade’s eyes slid the length of her body down to her toes and up again. “I’m well aware of that.”
The half smile on his lips caused her heart to skip a beat.
“However, if we’re going to be together, I don’t want it to be a situation where we have to continually look over our shoulders. I’ve lived like that long enough, and it’s no life.” He slid his arms through the bars up to her elbows and held her there. “I want to be able to have a ranch and raise a family with you. We can’t do that if we’re constantly on the run.”
Amelia sighed. She loved the dream Cade had for them, but how could they ever make it come true if her father wouldn’t stop being so stubborn?
“We’ll just have to wait until the judge comes to town and take our chances with the trial.” Cade’s eyes pleaded with her to do as he said.
Amelia’s eyes grew round and her lower jaw dropped. She quickly recovered and said, “But, what if he finds you guilty? What if they . . .” She couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence and tears threatened to spill from her eyes. “I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you.” She whispered as the tears flowed down her cheeks.
Cade reached and used his thumbs to wipe her tears away. “It’ll be okay, Amelia. It will all work out.” He raised her hands to his lips and kissed them.
Amelia wanted to believe him, but she hadn’t missed the flicker of fear that had passed through his eyes.
Sheriff Williams returned and opened the cell to retrieve Amelia’s basket and things.
Amelia took them from him and looked longingly at Cade before tramping out the door.