Stormwalker by Allyson James

Book: Stormwalker by Allyson James Read Free Book Online
Authors: Allyson James
    “There were no signs of trauma on her body, none of a struggle. She wasn’t visibly hurt. She could have died of heat stroke or severe dehydration. Tourists do that.”
    They did. People came out here from friendlier climates, not realizing how potentially deadly the desert was. One of Jamison Kee’s brothers led tours through Canyon de Chelly, a spectacular place but lethal if you weren’t careful and knowledgeable. He’d told me tales of lost hikers who’d fall into crevices and not be found, people wandering off by themselves without water in one-hundred-degree-plus temperatures. “This land might be beautiful and even nurturing,” he’d say. “But it will kill you in a heartbeat.”
    “The medical examiner thinks she passed out from heat exhaustion or sunstroke and died,” Nash said.
    “So how did she end up in my basement?”
    Nash bent me a look. “That’s a good question. The only fingerprints on the paneling were Maya’s.”
    “She was working down there when she found the body,” I pointed out.
    “Sherry Beaumont was also pregnant.”
    My eyes widened. “Was she?” That made it even sadder. “Her husband says the child isn’t his.”
    “That’s something you can’t blame on me, Sheriff.”
    “But you have an interesting boyfriend who turned up out of nowhere, and you claim to know nothing about his past.”
    Damn it. I wanted to spring to Mick’s defense, but it was true that I had no idea what he’d been up to for the past five years.
    “I did a little research,” Nash was saying. “I couldn’t find record of a Mick Burns who matched his description. I mean any record. He has no credit cards, no bank accounts, no property, nothing. This morning I talked to him for forty-five minutes and came out of the conversation with a big fat zero.”
    I wanted to laugh. “I lived with him for six months and didn’t get any more than that. What made you think you could wear him down in forty-five minutes?”
    “People usually talk to me.”
    “I’ll bet.” I had heard the story of how Nash, as a deputy when he’d come back from Iraq, had personally hauled to jail five big-city gang members who’d tried to hide out in Magellan. The hardened youths had been wetting their pants to get away from him in the end, according to Fremont. But then, they hadn’t been Mick. I’d always marveled at how gentle Mick could be with me, when his natural state seemed to be so hard-edged.
    I wished Nash would stop looking at me like that. He was making me wonder all kinds of crazy things, like why Mick had chosen to return the day before a woman was found buried in my basement. And why, if he was so protective of me, had he let the skinwalker nearly kill me?
    “I don’t think Mick did this,” I said.
    “Maybe he didn’t. But I want to know more about him.”
    I wanted to say, You and me both . “Can my workers continue in here?” I asked. “I can’t afford to just let this place go.”
    Nash looked around at the half-plastered walls, the studs still exposed between lobby and saloon, and gave me a reluctant nod. “Forensics say they’re done in the rest of the hotel. But stay out of the basement.”
    “Where my water heater is,” I said. “Thanks a lot.”
    Fremont arrived, ending our conversation. He at least assumed work would be progressing.
    Today, Fremont looked less buoyant, and his face was wan, as though he’d aged ten years overnight. “You all right?” I asked him.
    He gave me the nod of a man determined to bury himself in his work. “I’m fine. I didn’t get your bathroom hooked up yesterday. I want to finish.”
    “Sheriff Jones won’t let us in the basement.”
    Fremont shot Nash a dark look. “I don’t need to get to the basement.”
    I’d never seen Fremont this unhappy before. I felt a large twinge of guilt. After all, the skinwalker had been targeting me; Charlie had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. “Fremont, I’ve decided to buy you a

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