Why couldn’t she remember the reason Mercy Kilpatrick had left town?

Or is she not telling me on purpose?

The thoughts swirled in his brain for a few minutes as he took the last turn to Leighton’s home. Special Agent Kilpatrick preferred to keep things to herself. When she’d made the comment last night about being from a small town, why hadn’t she mentioned that she was from his small town?

If she wants to keep it a secret, I’ll let her.

Sooner or later she’d be exposed. This was Eagle’s Nest. A poor place to hide secrets.

He pulled onto the soggy road shoulder in front of Underwood’s home. Mercy hadn’t wanted him to accompany her, but he’d insisted, arguing that Leighton was the type to shoot a stranger and then ask their business. It wasn’t completely true—although Leighton was known to answer the door with his gun in hand—but Truman wanted to keep his finger in the investigation. If his uncle had been killed by the same person who had shot Ned Fahey, he wanted to know. He planned to keep the two FBI agents as close as possible. He’d offered his little meeting room as home base so they wouldn’t have to travel back and forth to Bend, and they’d accepted.

When he’d heard the agents had been put up in the roach motel halfway between Eagle’s Nest and Bend, he’d called Sandy’s Bed & Breakfast. She had two rooms opening up tomorrow. He’d casually mentioned the B&B to the agents. “She’s got a great breakfast buffet for her guests. Eggs, hash browns, amazing bacon,” Truman had said to sweeten the deal. Mercy hadn’t seemed interested, but Eddie’s eyes had lit up at the thought of getting out of the bare-bones motel. They’d agreed to stop by and talk to Sandy later in the day.

He’d do what it took to stay close to the FBI investigation.

He stepped out of his vehicle and walked back to Mercy’s Tahoe. The two vehicles matched, except for the department logo on Truman’s door. Mercy slammed her door and pulled up her jacket hood. Her heavy coat had a bit of black fake fur trim around the hood that made the green of her eyes pop. Now that he knew she was related to the other Kilpatricks, he recalled that her oldest brother, Owen, had the same intense eyes. Truman decided they looked better on Mercy. The color was wasted on a man. Other than the green, she was all black. Black hair, coat, pants, and boots.

“Looks wet,” she commented.

Truman agreed. Leighton had several lake-size puddles lining the mud driveway to his home. Truman hadn’t wanted to risk the driveway even in his four-wheel drive. And there was Leighton’s gun reputation to consider. Parking on the road had been the wise decision.

The two of them headed down the drive, stepping where the mud didn’t threaten to steal their boots.

“Leighton!” Truman cupped his hands and hollered. “You home?”

The roar of a shotgun answered him.

TEN

Mercy was shoved into the mud and lost her breath as Truman’s bulk crashed on top of her.

“Leighton! It’s Chief Daly! Hold your fire!”

Her right ear rang from his shout. “Get off me,” she muttered. She’d landed on her stomach and tasted dirt. She elbowed him in the gut. “Get off!”

“Keep your head down,” he snapped. “Leighton? It’s Chief Daly!” he hollered again.

“Chief?” came a male voice from the house.

Mercy raised her head, trying to find a human to match to the voice.

“That’s right. Are you going to fire again?”

“Who’s with you?”

“Another officer.”

Mercy raised a brow but figured it was close enough to the truth.

“Sorry about that,” said the voice from the house. “I shot in the air, you know. Wasn’t shootin’ at you.”

“I figured,” answered Truman. He got off Mercy’s back.

She pushed to her knees and surveyed her clothes. Shit. Her knees, her thighs, and the lower half of her jacket were dripping with muddy water. At least the gravel had protected her chest and arms. Truman offered her a hand. She gave him a dark look and accepted. “Did you know he’d fire at us?” she asked as she wiped at her knees with a soaked glove.

“I didn’t know he wouldn’t.”

Same difference.

“And it was just a warning shot.”

She stopped swiping and stared at him.

He met her gaze and shrugged. “Different rules out here.”

He was right. At one time she’d known the rules. Had she been in the city for too long?

“Sorry about the mud.” He pulled a package of tissues out of his coat pocket and handed it to her.

She shook her head at the plastic package on her palm. “I don’t think these will cut it.”

“We’ll get a towel from Leighton. He’ll feel bad that you got muddy.”

He sounded sincere, and she stole a look at his face to see if he was making fun of her. He wasn’t. Concern shone in his brown eyes. She eyed the rest of him. Other than a little mud on his boots, he’d managed to avoid the filthy water.

“Glad I could break your fall,” she said.

“I appreciate it.” He grinned, and the last grain of her annoyance with him shattered. Police Chief Truman Daly had a smile to stop traffic. He probably breaks hearts right and left with that smile. The tall man had been serious and reserved since she’d met him, which was understandable because of his uncle’s death. But out here in the rainy woods surrounding Leighton’s property, he’d relaxed, even though someone had fired a gun less than a minute ago.

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