“Are you wearing trousers?” The words were low, barely even whispered, but Rose still caught them and leveled Jean with a bland look.
“Yes,” she muttered, taking a moment to look him over. He looked well and thoroughly roughed up and she wished she could give the brutes who had done it a piece of her mind. There wasn’t the time though and she wasn’t sure they wouldn’t do the same to her if they didn’t hurry. “I couldn’t very well sneak into here in a dress now could I?”
She had learned a long time ago that her dresses were not made for sneaking. Besides, she could not breathe in the damn corsets and that would have made this twice as hard. A woman would never have gone unseen, not in a town that was so up in arms about witches. As it was, if she was caught like this she’d probably be the next accused of witchcraft and dragged before the town to be shamed and executed.
“You should go,” Jean murmured, seeming to come to himself for a moment. “This is dangerous.” She might have swatted him if he wasn’t already all bruised. Her fingers twitched as she fought back the need to check him more thoroughly and instead glanced at the door.
“Wasn’t I the one who warned you against playing cards with these men?” They weren’t traders and she strongly suspected their goods for sale weren’t theirs originally. Nothing about them screamed like they’d be the type of people to mess with and yet Jean ignored her warning and struck up a card game anyway.
This wasn’t the type of trouble that Jean usually got in for conning traders and cheating at cards normally and since she had been there when they so nicely ‘led’ Jean from the tavern, she knew it was going to end badly. Gambling was frowned upon by the leaders of Salem and so any trouble Jean got into because of it would be looked at as just.
She still couldn’t leave him here alone. As she thought about how they’d get out of there, she ignored the rest of his protests and eyed the window she had to climb through.
“Rosie,” the childish nickname got her attention and he raised his hand as if to remind her that he’d been shackled to the table. “There is no grand escape if I can’t use my hands. Your grand plan was all for naught I’m afraid.”
This time, she did swat him; lightly, on his arm, and not without the intention of apologizing later. “I do pay attention to things,” she muttered, pulling the pin out of the pocket of the trousers. The clothing really was foreign to her but it served its purpose. “I’ve watched you pick enough locks to be able to get you out of those.”
“Oh how Bridgette would beat me if she knew I taught you to pick locks.” He leaned back and held his hands out for her to get to work. She wasn’t as skilled as he was and couldn’t afford mistakes so this part of her plan had to take time. There was only the one pin.
“Imagine how angry she’d be if she found out I wore men’s clothing,” she muttered, mentally wincing at the tongue lashing she’d receive if this was ever found out. Rose was just lucky that Jean was out of it enough to not realize that she had to borrow a pair of his pants for this. “I think the sheriff would sentence her as a witch just from the way her shouts would carry.”
A smile she had expected but the rumbling laughter that she heard starting was not good. Slapping a hand over his mouth, she narrowed her eyes. “Lucas,” she hadn’t used his first name in many years, ever since he decided he preferred his middle, but it served the purpose to get him to focus on their situation. “You can laugh and tease after I get you home but I cannot focus with you laughing in my ear and we can’t afford one of your new friends to hear us.”
It didn’t take long for him to nod and not long after that she finally had the shackles off. Making sure he could stand on his own, she nearly missed his goofy little smile.
“My first name doesn’t sound so bad when you say it,” he whispered and she had to turn away to hide her blush. Stupid flirt, this was so not the time. Rose crossed her arms as she studied the route she had taken to climb in.
There was not much really besides the crates that had been stacked up and gave her something to jump from to the ledge at the window. Jumping down would make noise though and that could be hard. Jean joined her at the window and the moonlight gave her a better look at his wounds.
“Can you make it?” The question tumbled out before she could stop it as she studied the dark bruise on his jaw. She suddenly felt guilty for silencing him with her hand earlier. It must have hurt.
“Don’t have a choice. I can’t be so ungrateful to my heroine to stay here.”
She was about to protest but he was already climbing through the window and dropping out of sight. Leaning over, she let out a sigh of relief when she saw him safely on the ground. He leaned on the next house over and waved her down.
Taking a deep breath, she eased herself over the ledge. She did not think she could land quite as quietly as he did but she couldn’t stay here either. It took turning around and hanging as far down as she could before she thought she had a smaller distance to drop.
Even taking those precautions, she landed with a much louder sound than he did and froze for a split second. Standing here, trying to listen to see if there was anyone that had heard, she realized she probably looked foolish.
Scrambling from the crates, she grabbed Jean’s hand and started down the back way towards their houses. They had been next door neighbors forever and knew all the roads around Salem like the backs of their hands but she felt better with the physical contact.
“Go bathe while I change,” she told him, pushing him towards his back door. They could hear his father snoring from twenty feet away from the house, helped into slumber by his favorite whiskey.
“I am enjoying the trousers though,” Jean didn’t resist, which made things easier for Rose, but his teasing was not what she needed. Her face was still red from earlier. “Then again, the corset is even better.”
“Just go wash so I can check you over.” She walked past him towards the kitchen. Neither Jean nor his father cooked much so it was practically hers. Rose paused when she heard her name and turned slightly, running her fingers through her hair and wondering what he didn’t understand about bathing.
“Thank you.” Jean smiled that smile at her and she felt her heart skip a beat and reminded her of why she went after him in the first place. “But please don’t do anything so stupid again.”
“I make no promises.”
“Rose?” Stopping again and immediately regretting it when she looked at him again. The smile was gone and replaced with a mischievous little smirk. “Are those mine?” And there went all chance of this being forgotten.