“Crossfire” has a major facelift and expansion for a new release from Pride Publishing. It has grown from a 9k short story to a 30k novella.
The story is available as early download fromPride Publishing.
Want to read a little teaser? Okay.
Rick was going through his notes from the past few days, but nothing was coming to the forefront in their search. He’d been through the things they had found in Mark’s apartment and the results of the similar search of Rachel’s house. The damn topo map is the most promising lead, but narrowing the investigation down to around seven-thousand square miles still covers a lot of area, and we don’t even know if the map has a thing to do with where Mark took Jacob.
Rick sat tapping his pencil against his office desk when someone knocked. He glanced up to find Liz standing at his door. He motioned her in, knowing from her expression that she had information he didn’t want to hear.
Not in the mood for small talk, Rick shot to the point. “What’s the bad news?”
“A rancher called into the hotline. He reported finding…something.”
“What? Come on, Liz, what did he say?”
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “McCoy thought it was a child’s body. He thinks it’s Jacob, but this was never that kind of abduction. It makes no sense for Mark to hurt his son. It’s probably one of the weird false alarms we have from time to time. Info about Jacob has swamped the local media.”
Rick was already gathering what he needed from his office as he rapid-fired questions at Liz. “When did they find the body? Did anyone disturb the scene? Where did they find it?”
Liz took a deep breath and answered his questions. “The ranch hands found it on the McCoy place over in the western part of Grant County. They were riding the fence line this morning and saw buzzards circling the head of a canyon. They didn’t have cell reception, so he sent one of the boys back to call the sheriff’s office.”
She paused for a minute before continuing, “Gabe was the one on call there.”
Rick knotted with the tension Liz’s information sent through him. Before he could voice any concern, Liz cocked an eyebrow. “Gabriel’s their best investigator. He is the deputy sheriff. He’ll make sure no one will get close to the crime scene. He’s as meticulous as you are.”
Rick nodded as he double-checked that he had everything and realized he was missing his keys. He searched each pocket and came up empty. Rick pawed through the top of his desk for a second before realizing Liz was holding them. With a sigh of relief, he reached for the keys. “Thanks. I need to hurry. Gabe won’t be able to hold them off for long.”
Liz started out of the door with his keys in her hand. He scooted past the desk and chased after her. “Hey, Liz. I need my keys. Stop screwing around.”
“Get in the car. I’m driving. You’re too emotional. And, yes, I get that you will spend the whole trip complaining about my driving.”
Rick twisted his lips and lifted an eyebrow at Liz’s comment. He checked again to make certain he had everything he needed before sprinting to catch Liz’s receding form. The silence in the vehicle was palpable through the early part of the trip. But by the time they’d made it to the foot of the mountains, Rick felt more at ease, and the need for more information began to gnaw at him. When they turned onto the gravel road leading to the ranch, he couldn’t contain his police-trained curiosity.
“What did they tell you about the body?” Rick asked.
“I already given you what I know.”
“Come on. You know more than you told me. I’m not a civilian, give me the details.”
Liz glanced at him and from the heat he knew I’d pressed too far. “I told you everything. Sit back and try not to piss me off again. We’ll be there shortly.”
They pulled the four-wheel drive into the remote pasture where they discovered the body. They rolled to a stop beside the Grand County Sheriff’s SUV. By this time, Rick’s nerves were shot. The dread of identifying the remains was making him sick to his stomach. He took a second to steel himself for the worst case. When he spotted Gabe coming toward him at a brisk walk, his apprehension grew. He wanted to rush forward, grab Gabe and hold him tight, but this wasn’t the time or place for a display. The whole area was crawling with members of a variety of law enforcement branches. Neither of them would make this anything but professional.
Rick moved to intercept Gabe until they were close enough to speak at a normal level. “What do we have, Gabe?”
“Dan McCoy and his boys were riding their west boundary fence and noticed something in the wash. Dan used the scope on his rifle and decided it was a body.” Gabe dropped his voice until only Rick could hear him. “Something’s fed on the corpse. It’s not pretty. But everyone’s stayed away to preserve any evidence, so I don’t know if it is Jacob. We can see a red plaid shirt. I never remember him wearing anything like that.” Gabe paused for a minute before continuing. “Maybe it’s just me being wishful, but I don’t think this is Jacob.”