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Darrin paced at a furious rate. Ever since the old pickup had been found, his nerves had been stretched to their limits. Josh and Trent were being extremely watchful of the kids, but Darrin still worried.
“You know all this pacing isn’t going to make the lab work go any faster, or the police any more able to find out who took the pickup.” Mitch held out his palm toward Darrin. “I know you think it was Ben’s father. But they can’t find anything. They are real big on finding actual proof in this part of the country.”
He glared at Mitch and let out a slow hissing sigh. “You know, sometimes you just aren’t that funny.”
Mitch paused and lifted a brow at him. “I’m always funny, you just don’t want to be cheered up sometimes.”
“And this would be one of those times.”
Mitch sighed and flopped himself on the couch. “Jim said he would come talk to us as soon as he knew something. ‘Come talk’, his specific words. Not give you a call. Not let you know sometime. Come talk to us. He also said it might be sometime today. You’re getting nicely worked up over some news that might not come for days. You need to relax.”
Darrin’s temper flared at Mitch’s words. He spun on his husband as his patience snapped. “How the fuck can you be so calm! They found something in that truck. Jim told us. But he wasn’t sure if it made any difference. It has to make a difference. He doesn’t say things like that unless he thinks it’s important. So shut the fuck up!”
Mitch cocked an eyebrow and glared. “Don’t get all shitty with me. I’m the one who’s had your back this whole time. Remember me? The guy you’ve lived with for a decade or so?”
Darrin threw up his hands in frustration, but knew Mitch was right. He took a few deep breaths to calm himself before he alienated his husband even further than he had already. “Okay. You’re right, like usual. I’m sorry I’m acting like a dick.”
Mitch stepped closer and wrapped his arms around Darrin. “You’re so close to solving at least one of our bits of drama that it’s making you crazy. I get that. I feel the same way, but we both can’t let our crazy flags fly at the same time.”
Darrin paused for a moment before letting out a small chuckle. “Yeah, that would be bad. Then the blue-hairs would think all the gays are crazy.”
Mitch grinned in response. “Yeah, and it isn’t like those women don’t have a whole box of crazies all their own.”
“Okay, this really isn’t getting anything useful done. Come on, the garden is still got a few things alive even through this latest heat spell, but it needs weeding. Today you get to help.”
“Ah, shit. Can’t I clean out the stalls or something?”
“Nope. Weeding. Get your butt in gear.”
The sun was beginning to touch the western horizon when Darrin heard a car coming down the remote country road toward their house. Mitch moved to his side with a hoe in his hand. He glanced toward Mitch. “Jim?”
Mitch shrugged, which was about all the response Darrin expected. They’d find out in a minute or two. No use guessing.
That short time still felt interminable to Darrin. This once the sheriff could speed a little. It wouldn’t hurt. Then the familiar black and white vehicle pulled into their driveway. Darrin could sense himself shaking as the sheriff stepped out. Even though he knew the exercise was useless, Darrin tried to read the sheriff’s emotions. And as with every other time, he failed.
Jim came to a stop and gave them a grim look. “I’m sorry I took so long, but I wanted to make certain I was right before I gave you guys any information. The forensics crew went over that pickup with a finetooth comb. A really finetooth comb. They knew it might play into a very important case for me.”
Darrin and Mitch nodded their understanding, but didn’t go any further so he could get to the point more quickly. Darrin was relieved when Jim continued without a pause. “Well they did their job. Found a couple of spots of blood.”
Darrin couldn’t control himself any further. “Why didn’t you tell us? Was it Ben’s?”
The sheriff held out his hand in a soothing motion. “It could have been from anything. It was so small it might be off some quail someone got a few years back. I didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.” He paused for a moment, seeming to gather his thoughts. “But to answer your other question–yes, it was Ben’s blood.”
“Did you catch his dad? Do you have him in custody?”
“We’re still looking…”
Darrin paused for a moment, waiting for whatever additional information the sheriff might have. But his nerves were too rattled. “What? What aren’t you telling us?”
“Well, Nanna talked to you. You remember what she said?”
“Sure. She said this was important to you.”
“She also told you the Kiowa Dog Soldiers might be involved.”
“Oh, yeah. She said that.”
“They are involved now. The Dog Soldiers are part of the search.”
“So they are like…deputies?”
Jim’s chuckle had a slightly ominous sound. “Dog Soldiers don’t answer to anyone…”
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