KILLER ON THE LOOSE
Emily followed Rick as they hiked west to intersect the trail leading to their SUV.
She hurried in silence climbing steep areas. The exercise felt good and relieved some of her sore muscles. The more distance between her and the compound the better. She flashed back on the crates of weapons and boxes of computer parts.
Rick had anonymously sent texts and alerts to the local law enforcement as well as the local branch of the FBI to retrieve the two men and confiscate the military weapons. The information included photos and the exact location of the property—the couple’s anonymous investigative protocol.
With everything Emily had witnessed at the property, nothing weighed heavier on her mind than the breaking news in DC. She immediately relayed everything to Rick about the missing girls and the bomb scare—but it wasn’t everything.
Emily never kept anything from Rick—ever.
She recognized Agent Nick Bracco from the news coverage and knew that he worked the terrorism division of the FBI. Several years before, she had met him before the trial in Indiana where she had to testify against fellow officers from the Crestview County Sheriff’s Department—before coming to California and meeting Rick. The fallout after the trial had ended her career as a deputy sheriff, but she reinvented herself as a covert vigilante detective after an incident.
Since then, and as far as anyone knew, she was legally dead. Very few people knew that she was still alive, but Bracco knew. Emily had contacted him a few times over the past few years for information on some of her cases.
“You okay?” asked Rick.
Emily looked at him and forced a smile. “Of course.”
“You look like you have a lot on your mind—more than usual.”
“Thinking about our next move,” she explained.
“Maybe our info was wrong?” Rick clearly wrestled with the facts leading them to this location.
“I don’t think so…”
“Is the kidnapping some kind of political maneuver or some type of exchange for someone or something else?”
“I’m not sure. I have to reevaluate everything. But I believe the girls are still alive.”
“Are you really okay?” his dark eyes searched Emily’s face.
“I’m just worried about the girls. We’ve never had a case intersect with something of this nature. It concerns me…”
Emily walked ahead and continued to the area where the SUV waited. She didn’t want to face more conflict until she had time to think.
Rick continued, “What I can’t figure out… why would the kidnapper go to such extremes with the bomb scare in DC?” he stopped and turned to Emily. “And what does it have to do with us?”
Emily’s phone buzzed. She retrieved it from her pocket and stared at the caller ID.
The name identified Nick Bracco as the caller.