another blip of life passing me by. Sighing, I lean back and focus on the horizon. I catch a glimpse of Tommy admiring the same house, before quickly looking back to the road. Neither of us has said one word since our fight.
When we finally reach the scene, we park behind one of the cruisers and get out, but not before I grab my holstered Glock, my badge, cuffs, and phone.
Once out of the car, the first thing I do is head for the abandoned vehicle. I pocket my iPhone and open my jacket, clipping my weapon, cuffs, and badge to my waist. Tommy heads over to talk to the local PD already at the scene.
The cold air nips at my fingers and my breath forms thin clouds in front of my face. A quick peek inside the stolen vehicle reveals nothing out of place.
Out here on this dark country road, everything is eerily quiet, except for the low murmurs and activity of law enforcement. The early morning dawn casts a dim glow over the tall grassy field, painting the tips golden, and the light breeze caressing the grass makes it sway side-to-side, creating a peaceful, hypnotic effect. The sky is clear and cloudless. The cold crisp air smells of moist earth, dry leaves, and impending winter. I’m grateful we haven’t had any rain or snow to corrupt the scene. I don’t want to lose any potential evidence.
“Harper,” Tommy calls me over to where he is standing by the side of the road with an older uniformed officer. When I reach them, Tommy introduces us.
“Officer Fulton, this is my partner, FBI Special Agent Harper.”
“Anything?” I ask Fulton, but he doesn’t acknowledge me. Instead, he addresses Tommy.
“Nothing, it's as if he vanished. We’re doing a door-to-door canvas of the vicinity, just in case he’s still in the area.”
“I called for a canine unit, they should be here soon,” Tommy says to the senior cop. “We’ll do a second sweep, maybe the dogs will pick up something.”
Fulton continues to confer with Tommy, ignoring me. I’ve dealt with my share of discrimination during my career, especially from old timers like this guy. It’s gotten better but not enough for my tastes. Sometimes I just need Colton to do this thing; he can deal with this guy. I look at my watch. Starbucks will be opening soon, so I decide to make a coffee run. They’re still in the middle of a conversation as Tommy tries to veer the discussion my way, but this jerk is hopeless.
“All right, Colton, I’m going to get us some coffee. I’ll be right back.” I stick my hand out for his keys, which he reluctantly gives up. That Charger is his baby, yet he’s letting me drive it. I know what that means. Officer Big Pants is going to get an earful. I grin to myself, swinging the keys around on my finger, and head to the car to get my caffeine fix.
Back from my coffee run, I pull up to the scene. As soon as I get out of the car, I spot Tommy. He looks tired, his white shirt wrinkled, a few more buttons opened. The stubble along his chin is more prominent and his green eyes are dull, and the lids puffy. Walking over with the drink carrier, I hand him one of the hot coffees, which he gratefully accepts. Even though the rising sun edges up on the horizon, a cutting chill still shows our breath.
“No. Canine is en route,” he answers, cradling the hot cup with both hands.
I look out into the field. There’s nothing but tall prairie grass, scattered trees lining the view—not a building in sight. How far could this guy have gotten on foot? He has to be out there somewhere; after all, the car is still here. The scanner has been silent. The APB is out, but no sightings. Humming tickles the soles of my feet through my shoes. My wheels start turning. I have to go out there and take a look. I just have to. But Tommy needs a break.
I know that face. I saw it plenty of times in the desert. He’s gone without sleep for well over twenty-four hours. Who knows what time he went to bed at my place? All those empty