“You plan to have the babe out of wedlock?” Kane scratched his head.
She looked skyward and gritted her teeth. Was the man dense? “Can you stop walking? It’s hard to talk to you at this pace.”
He slowed but continued to walk. “Daylight’s a wasting and I’ve got a deadline.”
“Will you at least let me explain so you can stop the rumors?”
Her foot caught a gopher hole, and she tripped, falling headlong onto the hard ground. She cried out when her elbow kissed the ground.
“Goodness, you’re a walking calamity. First pickles and now, a sprawl in the grass. You wouldn’t perchance be related to me Aunt Nell?”
She groaned and rolled to her knees. Every joint ached. Twigs and grass stuck to her dress, and she brushed them away with sore hands. She moaned at the pain and glared at her scraped skin.
“Are you hurt?”
Now he asked. She shook her head. “I’m not sure.”
He grabbed her elbow none too gently and helped her stand. She tested her foot and found herself uninjured. Praise be. An injury would have complicated matters more. “Thank you, Mr. McKenna.”
“You’re welcome. Now, if you doon’t mind, I’d like to be gettin’ back to me work.”
“But . . .”
“Miss Joyce, do you see that armature?” He pointed a finger at the structure. “That’s a mighty important bridge to folks around here. Can you tell me in all honesty that your quest for a hoosband be as important as the building of that bridge?”
She swallowed hard and frowned, thinking of Sarabeth. “For one person, it’s even more important.”
He frowned. “To be sure, and I can sympathize with your plight. Unwed and pregnant must weigh heavy on your mind, but alas, I can noot help you, nor can any of me men. Good day, Miss Joyce.”
She stomped her sore foot and grimaced. “For the last time, I am not expecting!”
Her shout brought the attentions of his workers. Seventeen sets of eyes peered down at her, and the heat rose to her cheeks.