“Or he found exactly what he wanted,” she said grimly. “I swear someone followed me Monday night. I managed to shake them. I didn’t notice you tonight, but I was thinking about other things. I bet he followed you.”

Unease crept into Truman’s muscles at the thought that he’d led someone directly to Mercy’s home. “Who would follow you? Why?”

Silence.

“The cases?” Truman asked.

“Maybe.”

“What else?” he pressed. “Why would someone in this remote area be interested in an FBI agent from Portland?”

Maybe they’re interested in the former teenager from Eagle’s Nest.

“I think it’s time you told me everything, Mercy.”

She shuddered.

TWENTY-NINE

He’d nearly lost them.

Then he’d spotted the chief’s Tahoe in a ditch. For moment he’d thought the SUV had run off the road, but it’d simply stopped in an awkward parking spot.

He’d hesitated to drive down the lane, but he hadn’t wanted to risk it on foot. Clearly the chief had gone in on foot, and he’d rather not meet the man in the dark. He felt safer in his vehicle. He waited for twenty minutes, debating his options, and then headed down the dirt road. He’d just spotted the haze of light behind an A-frame house when it suddenly went dark and he’d thrown his vehicle into reverse.

Steering awkwardly and stomping on the accelerator, he backed up the curving lane to the main road. Going after the police chief had worked in his favor. He’d been waiting to tail Mercy when he spotted the chief doing the same thing. When the chief had taken off after the agent with his lights off, he couldn’t help but follow.

Why was the chief hiding from Mercy Kilpatrick?

Sweating, he put his truck into drive on the main road and floored it.

I know where she goes now. But why?

He didn’t know and it didn’t matter.

What mattered was that she’d returned. He’d spent fifteen years sliding around in the shadows, purposefully not rocking the boat, and biding his time, playing nice with everyone. He’d forced himself to stay out of trouble, having seen what it did to his friend. But now Mercy had stirred up all sorts of memories and ruined his plans for the weapons.

The weapons.

His golden ticket.

He hadn’t planned on killing the preppers, but once he’d loaded up the weapons from the first, he’d realized that the old man would know exactly who had taken his bounty. Frustration had angered him; he hadn’t thought his plan through clearly enough. Teachers and friends had always gotten on his case, claiming he couldn’t see two hours into the future and needed to plan better.

But the preppers had been simple to fix. One shot. It’d been easy enough, and he’d known he’d have to do the same to cleanly steal the other weapons. The second time hadn’t gone as expected, but he’d never experienced anything like the rush of adrenaline from the fight with Jefferson Biggs.

He’d felt invincible.

The rush happened again with Anders Beebe, but then he’d heard the car outside. Furious at being interrupted, he’d left the weapons behind.

And now it was irrelevant. The feds had taken his weapons. All that work . . .

Mercy would regret her interference. His fingers tapped on the steering wheel as he remembered a night fifteen years ago. He hadn’t gotten what he truly wanted that night. Anger flushed his face as he thought about his stolen weapons.

Maybe it was time. He deserved it.

THIRTY

Truman insisted they immediately leave her cabin. She agreed, activated her security system, locked up, and drove him to his truck out on the road. They briefly argued about their next step. She wanted them to go to their respective places, but he put his foot down and insisted that their discussion wasn’t done.

“I’m not waiting until tomorrow when you can brush it off and avoid me,” he stated, holding her gaze.

Which had been her exact plan.

He plugged his address into her GPS and followed her out of the forest. After the drive she was surprised when she stopped in front of a tiny, newish home on a crowded street of identical homes in Eagle’s Nest. Nothing about the house said that Truman Daly lived there. She’d expected something more manly and rugged. Not the cookie-cutter starter home.

“I rented it,” he replied when she asked. “It felt safer than buying.”

Had he believed the police chief job might not work out?

He told her to wait in the living room while he did a quick walk of the home and checked the small, fenced yard. While she waited, a gorgeous black cat strolled into the room and leaped onto the arm of the couch to stare at her. Her golden eyes fixed on Mercy, and the tip of her tail flicked as she waited for Mercy to explain herself.

By the time Truman returned, the cat was on her lap, looking extremely pleased. Truman raised a brow at the sight. “That’s Simon.”

“It’s a female.”

“I know. I let the little neighbor kid name her. She showed up about a week after I moved in. No one claimed her, so I let her stay.”

A golden gaze slowly blinked at Mercy. That’s what he thinks. Clearly the cat had chosen where she wanted to live.

“I need a beer. What can I get you?” he asked.

“I don’t drink.”

“Sure you do.” He stared at her.

“Vodka and orange juice,” she admitted. She could use some vitamin C, and she didn’t want to argue with him. The next hour was going to be difficult enough.

***

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