He turned onto Old Foster Road, driving slowly and prepared to pull onto the shoulder if he spotted racers headed his way.

The road was quiet.

Crap.

He spent a few minutes driving up and down the length of the road. It was a beautiful, clear day. The storm from earlier in the week had blown through, and now it looked as if Central Oregon could enjoy its Indian summer. Blue skies, hints of summer heat, but cool evenings. The last hurrah before cold temperatures kicked in for the winter.

Still no racers. He sighed, disappointed he wouldn’t have any kids to chew out. He called Lucas.

“Everyone’s split,” he told his dispatcher.

“Yeah, she called back and said it’d gotten quiet. I was hoping you’d spot them as they were leaving.”

“I didn’t see anyone.”

“Hey, Royce wants to talk to you.” There was a crackling sound as the line was handed off.

“Hey, Chief.”

“What’s up, Royce?”

“I talked to a bunch of people about the cave man rumors.” Royce cleared his throat. “According to Henry at Henry’s Meats, he had a couple of hunters bring in a buck, and they mentioned seeing a few weapons outside a cave not far from Owlie Lake. Henry didn’t keep any paperwork with their names on it, so I don’t think we can find them, but he said they also asked him about the cave man rumors.”

“Had Henry heard of that before?”

“No. He’s never heard of a cave man.” Royce said something unintelligible to Lucas. “Hang on, boss.” More unintelligible words.

Truman pulled onto the shoulder of Old Foster Road and waited, hoping the racers would return.

“Lucas has heard of the cave man.” Surprise filled Royce’s voice. “He says kids talk about it in high school.”

From Truman’s perspective, Royce wasn’t that much older than Lucas. Maybe five years? If Royce had heard about it in high school, it made sense that Lucas would have too.

“He said kids claim the cave man’s been seen at Owlie Lake.”

Truman had been to Owlie Lake a few times. Plenty of tourists stopped there to swim or hike. He could picture where the forest sloped back and up steep hills from the lake. A possible place to find caves.

“Sounds like it’s worth checking out.” He glanced at the time. He had a few hours before lunch. Plenty of time to take a casual walk around the lake. “Lucas, I’ll be out at Owlie Lake for a bit.”

He debated calling Special Agent Kilpatrick to see if she wanted to go with him.

What would he say? I heard another rumor about the cave man and a bunch of guns out near Owlie Lake? Shall we go see if we can find our murder suspect?

The corniness of it nearly kept him from reaching out to her until he remembered that she had grown up in Eagle’s Nest. How long ago had the cave man rumors started?

Mercy Kilpatrick had said she’d never heard of a cave man when Jane Beebe mentioned it that morning. But maybe she had a hunch where to find this cave.

Mercy slammed her vehicle door and waved a hand at the figure who sat on a rock and looked over the lake.

Police Chief Daly could have been posing for an outdoors magazine. She’d noticed he rarely wore a uniform, preferring jeans and work shirts with his badge. He was a good cop, she’d decided. He clearly cared about the people in his town and had an alert mind that didn’t miss much.

Unfamiliar self-consciousness rolled over her as she picked her way along the slick trail to his rock seat. Usually she didn’t give a crap about what other people thought of her, but suddenly she cared what Truman Daly thought.

He wouldn’t have asked me out here if he didn’t have some faith in my skills.

Or else he simply wanted a former resident’s opinion.

She twisted her lips at the thought. He could have asked anyone.

But I’m the only FBI agent who’s lived here.

She drew closer, choosing careful foot placement on the rocky lake shore. “Hey, Truman. Looks like we’ve gotten rid of the rain.”

He grinned, the corners of his eyes crinkling. Wow. He’s really good looking when he smiles. She couldn’t help but smile back.

“I was hoping you’d take another ten or fifteen minutes,” he told her. “I’m enjoying the sun. It’s pretty rare that I can sit and do nothing.”

“I thought Eagle’s Nest was a sleepy town with little crime. I’d guess you spend a lot of time with your feet up on your desk.” She spotted a faint scar on his chin. A fight? He’d skipped shaving that morning and the slight growth made it stand out.

How does the other guy look?

“I wish. There’s always something. And it’s never simple, you know? Nothing can ever be fixed with a web search or a quick phone call. Usually it involves me showing up in person and talking with someone for two hours. The people around here like to talk. A lot.”

“It’s a lost skill back in Portland. I must answer a hundred e-mails a day. It doesn’t leave time for casual talk, except in the elevator.”

“So you’re saying this is a vacation for you.”

Her brows rose. “Not quite.”

“Did you see your family yet?”

“Some of them.” She looked out over the lake. “I haven’t been to this lake in ages.”

His raised eyebrow indicated he’d noticed she had changed the subject. “When I called, you said you’d never heard of the cave man when you were growing up.” He didn’t get off his rock, so Mercy picked another large rock to sit on. If he wanted ten more minutes of sunshine before they started their search, he could have it.

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