Excerpt from Town Social

     
     "A saloon?" Sunny asked with unfeigned interest. "You mean, with drinks and gambling and women who..." Remembering Teddy, she glanced around to see where the girl was, finding her sitting at the other end of the counter trying to braid the doll's hair. Sunny lowered her voice, her curiosity about actually getting to see the inside of a saloon making her forget Jake beside her. "And women who... uh... cater to men?"
     Jake's laughter rumbled in his chest, and her cheeks flushed. However, she resolutely ignored him once more.
     "Ginny's girls don't do that," Ruth denied stoutly. "At least, not since her father got killed in the shootout with that cheating card shark last year and Ginny took over. She has to sell drinks and allow gambling, in order to pay her bills, but her place is more of a... well, a training school for her girls."
     Ruth emphatically nodded her head, shooting Jake a venomous look when he choked on a garbled laugh. "Not that sort of training, Jake Cameron, and you're well aware of it! But yes, that's more what I'd call it. Ginny teaches her girls to do bookkeeping and ordering. And she's got a couple of women who have very nice voices, who I bet we could talk into singing for us."
     Jake snorted, and Sunny added her own deadly glare to Ruth's.
     "Just what's so darned funny about this, Jake?" Ruth demanded.
     "Sorry," he replied around a strong hint of laughter. "It's just that I can't imagine any of the various women in Liberty Flats dressing up in their finery and heading over to hear one of Ginny's girls sing a tune."
     "You obviously don't know how important it is for women to have some culture in their lives," Sunny spat. "If I remember right, you don't even think there's any problem with women having to drag their skirts through animal droppings to cross the street!"
     Her voice rose in pitch, as she felt her resentment at his attitude deepen. She'd darn well show this man how absolutely wrong he was. She'd darn well show him that women had rights, instead of being delegated to the status of second-class citizens, whose opinions didn't matter and who couldn't even vote.
     "And since I'm responsible for Teddy's upbringing now," she continued, "I feel it's my duty to see that she's exposed to something more than training to be some man's servant."
     "Most men consider women helpmates..." Jake tried to interrupt, but she waved a hand to silence him.
     "Tell me more about the women who work with Ginny, Ruth. Would any of them perhaps have any other musical training? I would love to have Teddy take piano lessons, but Aunt Cassie's piano is totally out of tune."
     "I believe Perry, Ginny's bartender, keeps her piano in tune," Ruth replied. "At least, I seem to remember Ginny mentioning how nice it was that she'd discovered Perry's other talents after she hired him, when her other bartender married one of her girls and left a few months ago. I... um... don't know what Cassie would say, though, about Perry coming to her house, even to tune a piano."
     "I'll worry about that later," Sunny replied. "Right now, I'd really like to go meet Ginny. Thanks so much for offering to care for Teddy while I'm gone. I'm sure your selections for dress styles for Teddy will be just fine."
     She started for the door, pausing to turn partially around when she didn't hear anyone following her. "Are you coming, Ranger Cameron? If you've got other things to do, I'll just go on by myself. You are so busy, keeping that chair across the street warm."
     Ruth choked on a giggle, but instead of the annoyance Sunny expected to see cross Jake's face as he pondered the audacity of her words, he grinned straight back at her. Grabbing his hat from the countertop, he slapped it on his head and strolled towards her.
     "I wouldn't miss this for the world," he drawled.
 
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