âI had nothing to do withââ
The phone line went dead.
âNANCY, I THINK Iâm in trouble.â He sat in his brotherâs den. The room had once been his fatherâs, but Walter had claimed it when he took over the Blackwater Ranch. Much of his fatherâs memorabilia remained: the mounted elk-head trophy, the old Sharps single-shot rifle that had been his grandfatherâs, the licence plates dating back to the 1940s.
âWhat do you need?â asked Nancy.
âI need you. And I think I need a lawyer.â
âHI, DADDY. I miss you! How was your hike?â
Cole pressed the phone into the side of his head so hard that it made a red mark. âSarah, listen, I have to tell you something.â
NANCY WEBBER CAUGHT the first flight from Vancouver to Calgary the next morning and by noon was at the Blackwater Ranch. Cole hadnât seen her in two weeks, and when she stepped out of her rental car, he was dumbstruck by how beautiful she was.
âHi ya, Curly.â Nancy embraced him.
She held on to his thick frame a few moments and then looked at him. âAre you okay?â
âBetter now that youâre here.â
âCome on, buy a girl a cup of cowboy coffee and tell her whatâs going on.â
âMom has an espresso maker. Sheâll make you a cappuccino.â
âI like Alberta more and more.â
They went inside, and Nancy hugged Dorothy Blackwater. Then Walter came in from the barn, and they all had coffee. After they were done, Cole, Nancy, and Walter went outside, walked to the barn, and leaned on a rail fence. They looked up at the eastern slope of the Porcupine Hills.
âI found Perry Gilbert,â said Nancy.
âThat was fast.â Cole held a blade of timothy between his teeth.
âWasnât hard. And Iâm a reporter. I know how to find people. He works for a law firm in Calgary. Iâve got his number. You really think youâre going to need it?â
âWhat do you think, Walter?â
âUs po-dunks in the Park Service have been cut out of this investigation. Maybe they just donât want me involved. I donât know one way or another. Talking with this Gilbert fellow couldnât hurt.â
âI think theyâre coming for me,â said Cole, shaking his head.
âITâS GOOD TO hear from you, Cole,â said Perry Gilbert. âWhatâs it been?â
âA little over two years,â said Cole.
âSeems like longer.â
âTell me about it. So, you work for a big firm now? What happened to being a public defender?â
âI discovered money can buy things.â Gilbert laughed.
âYou guys are all the same.â
âI got tired of being told which cases I had to take. Now I can choose.â
âWell, I seem to have got myself in a bit of bind, and I wonder if you might choose to help me. â
âTell me whatâs going on.â
Cole explained the matter to the lawyer. He finished and asked, âWhat do you think?â
âWhat a nightmare,â said Gilbert. âThe jurisdictional question alone is going to be a complete mess. Whoâs lead investigator for the RCMP ?â
âThatâs the funny thing. Itâs Reimer. Remember her?â
âSheâs Inspector Reimer now. She leads the Major Crimes Unit in Southern Alberta. What do you think I should do?â
âDonât talk with them again unless you have a lawyer present. If you want, I can help you out. Even give you a little discount for old timesâ sake. If they call and ask you to come in, agree, and then call me immediately. Hereâs my home number and my Blackberry. Got it, Cole?â
Cole had written the number down but was silent.
âCole? You okay?â
âI donât know.â
TWO DAYS PASSED. Cole, Nancy, and Walter rode up into the Porcupine Hills and