Fire Within

Part 2

by Anita Louise

(c) copyright 1/02

Chapter Four

It had been raining for the last few days a feeling of crispness was now in the air.  People
were walking by, their minds busily contemplating the next move.  Though the town was
now shadowed by the death of Pete White Feather, most  still tried to keep smiling and
getting on with their lives.

There was a difference though, people were not as apt to talk to strangers and even looked at
neighbors with a questioning eye.  Bobie had recently returned from Ben Jenkins place. She had
taken his horses back. The man was gracious and told her she and her friend could feel free to
borrow them anytime.  He was appalled someone had shot at them and they had so much trouble.

He seemed nice enough but even Bobie was beginning to hold a bit of wonder in his sudden
outpour.  The man was never a friendly person, he would shoot first before asking and was well
known to start fights at the first provocation.  With so much going on, she decided not to dwell
on Ben Jenkins sudden about face.  She was happy he took their borrowing of his horses so well.

When she arrived in town, it didn't take long to park the jeep.  She had been to the Sheriff's
office but Ben was not in. Meg Bartlett was way to chatty and wanted all the scoop on Skylar
Richmond and herself.  After picking up the mail, and checking a few cases, she decided to look
into the new visitors to the area.  With several files in hand she stepped out into the cool air.
Taking a deep breath, turned and headed up the wooden sidewalk. A hot drink sounded really
good at that moment.  She did not run into many people walking, but a few school age children
were tossing a ball back and forth not a care in the world it seemed.

Smiling she stopped to watch them for a few minutes. Pulling the light coat up tighter to her throat,
she shook her  head at the antics of the children, then approached the swinging doors to the
tavern.  Reaching out, she pushed one aside and walked in.

Belle's  Tavern was the place most people went, when they wanted to unwind from the day and
enjoy the  company of  friends and neighbors.

The woman smiled up from behind the counter where she had been pouring over a book.  Bobie
returned the smile and walked toward her.

Belle's eyes lit up as she neared, the book she had been concentrating on was a thing of the past.
"Howdy, sure is good to see a friendly face in here."

Bobie smiled, glanced around then turned her attention back to the woman.  "See quite a few
friendly  faces in the room.  Have you been tipping the tonic a tad early?"

She beamed, shook her head.  "Nope, just happy to see you made it in today."

Removing her Stetson, Bobie  sat on one of the bar stools.  "Would love a cup of hot chocolate."

Belle rolled her eyes, her face screwed up for a minute then she said, "As  cold as it is out, I
would  think something a little stronger would be more on your mind.  Sure it is hot chocolate
you  want?"

Bobie nodded, then glanced at the chocolate machine.   "Working. How about some hot cider?"

"I was giving you a hard time, hot chocolate will be ready in  a few minutes.  Where you been
keeping yourself lately?  I haven't seen you at any of the doings in town."

Removing the dark leather gloves, Bobie felt a warmth from within. As her fingers slipped from
them, thoughts went to the tall redhead that seemed to be invading her thoughts lately.

Having no idea just how long Belle had been talking she was suddenly brought out of her
musing by the woman's tapping on her forearm.  "Hope I didn't bore you so much you tuned me out."

Quickly realizing her  mind had strayed, she smiled at the woman.  "Nope, just thinking
about . . ."

"Must have been some about.  The way your face lit up, it was as if your entire body was somewhere
else.  Tell  me, what has you so full of good cheer?"    She  was a woman of robust frame, even
shouldered and strongly limbed, not tall and though stout, not obese; she had  a somewhat large
face, Her eyebrows were low, her chin large and prominent, mouth and nose sufficiently
average.  Her skin bronzed by the sun, hair nearly flaxen brought out the color of crystal blue
eyes.  When she smiled, laugh wrinkles were pronounced.  It  was evident, Belle Gardener was a
jovial woman.

Bobbie leaned back, stretched as if to get her aching muscles to unwind.  "It is not good cheer,
actually it is a desire to rid this area of the darkness that is over it."

Pouring her a cup of steaming hot chocolate she offered,   "It is a sad thing for sure. But that is
not what I saw when I gazed into your eyes just then.  Could it have anything to do with the
Amazonian Enchantress that is staying with you?"

"Wha . . ."   Bobie was not prepared for the woman's question.

"Throwing a shindig tomorrow night, everyone that is anyone will be here, you two coming?"
Finding her voice, Bobie replied, " She is not an Amazon, she is not an Enchantress she is just
a woman, and we are not a twosome.   Sheriff has told me to watch her, make sure she gets what
she needs in so far as supplies, help etc. Both of us are working on a case.  Where do you get off
saying we are a twosome?  don't tell me this town hasn't anything better to do than gossip.  Forget I
said that, pretty much what they do here."

Belle knew by the flash in Bobie's eyes she hit a nerve.  Smiling she shrugged, "Well, I didn't actually call
you a twosome, those words came from your mouth.  I was just talking.  No need to get all riled up."
She walked toward the cash register, picked up a ticket and walked back.  "Pete was in here the night he
died.  Though you might like to see his ticket."

Realizing she may have jumped right into Belle's curious trap, Bobie took a drink and said, "Good
chocolate, getting cold out and this sets real good.  You say Pete was in here, Sheriff never said
anything about this."  She reached for the ticket adding, "Was he alone?

"He walked in by himself, but he left with two other men."

Holding the cup she stared into it for a few minutes then asked, "Two other men?  Who were they?"

Belle shook her head.  "Don't know, never seen them before.  I think they are new to the area."

Standing, Bobie began to pace.  "I have to find the Sheriff, he needs to know this.  Tell me what
they looked like."

Belle glanced around the room then replied, "One of them sitting at the back table.  Before you
go off, tell me, are you and Miss Richmond coming to the doings?"

Taking a sip of the hot chocolate in her cup, she answered, "Don't know. Depends on what Miss
Richmond is doing. In so far as me, just do not feel like dancing, drinking and having a good
time as you all put it."

Her eyes quickly dropped to Bobie's right  hand, they grew large as embarrassment flooded her
face.   "So--  Sor--yy . . ."  she stuttered, backing up and crashing into the wall.

Bobie  looked around at the people that were now gazing at the woman whose face was redder
than  Rudolph's nose.   "It's all right. People are beginning to stare.."

Belle walked toward the counter, reached under a shelf and poured herself a jigger of whiskey.
Quickly downing it she took another, then turned and stared at Bobie.  "What must you think of
me,  going on and on like that?  God I wish I could hide in the nearest cave  and never come

Bobbie gazed at this woman, a woman she  had always seen in control of every situation who
was now  unsure of herself.  "I'm not upset. You are my friend and out here a good friend is hard
to find.  A friend who will be there if needed, regardless. Please do not let this change our

She tossed back another drink then walked around the counter, plopped on a stool beside Bobie.
"You are a good person, Bobie Parker,  a person I look up to.  A person I have grown to care
about.  After what happened to your father, I sometimes get carried away.   So please forgive me,

"Nothing to forgive."  Bobie drank the last drop of what was now cold chocolate.  "It's all right,
I am fine.  Things just kinda have me on edge.  I'll take this ticket and talk to you later.  Thanks."

"Let me get you another cup."  Belle  stood and Bobie  reached out, grabbing her hand. "No,
have to check this out. Some other time."

"Kay, you and Miss Richmond are  invited to my place for songs, eats, drinks and a
good time.  Let me know when you can come over. Tonight would be good for me."

Bobie could see it in her eyes, questions in the back, a river of pain ran through them.

"I will ask her if she wants to come by for a while.  Take care of yourself."

Belle watched the woman walk away and sighed.  "Shucks I should have known you probably
have something cooked up with that Enchantress.  Be careful Bobie Parker before you know it
she will have you under her control."

Holding her Stetson in her left hand, she approached the table.  The man was busy pouring over some
papers. He didn't look too tall sitting there, but he was stocky, with a short neck and wide shoulders
that carried him well. He sported a longish crew cut that was managed by some kind of jell. This made
it look as if one might be able to skate on his head.

"Pardon me."  Bobie's words were soft but resilient.

The man looked up, his brown eyes growing wider as he stood.  "Deputy Parker?  What brings you here?
Did I do something wrong?"

Reaching out to shake the man's extended hand, Bobie replied, "Yes, Bobie Parker, how did you

"People in the town hold you in high esteem. Person would not come here without knowing a
little about the area. Besides, your gunbelt, the clothes kinda give it away."

Her eyes were trying to see what the man had been so busy looking at.  "You know my name, but
I don't know yours.  I like to keep in touch with new people in town, specially since the . . ."

"Murder of Pete.  A sad thing."

Once again Bobie was taken aback. She wanted to talk to the man about Pete but wasn't sure
how to begin, he had now opened the door.  "Yes. And it is a sad thing. He was a good man.
Had no enemies as far as I know. Mind if I join you? I have a few questions."

He shook his head, pointed to a chair and said, "Sit, perhaps I can ask you a few too? As he went
to sit, his right arm hit a full pitcher of beer, sending it careening over the papers.  He jumped up
cursing and began to shake the newly christened papers.  With these in hand he rushed to the bar
and to Belle.

The woman had been watching the two, wondering just what was going to happen. The furthest
thing on her mind was him spilling his drink and not only getting the papers in his hand wet but
also Bobie.

Standing up, Bobie gazed around the room and began to walk toward the man each time shaking
her left leg, trying to get the liquid to drip off.  "Could have gone all day and not had this

Approaching the man and Belle she said, "What is so important in those papers?  Mind if I have
a look?"

His face was red as he tried to wipe them off but each movement was only causing a bigger mess .
Turning to face her he spouted, "They are ruined, all my work is ruined and its all your fault!"

Belle looked at him, then at Bobbie. "Maybe you shouldn't have been so clumsy.  Deputy Parker
is not the one that did this, it was you. A whole room full of people saw this happen.  What is so
darn important in those papers anyway?"

"Exactly what I want to know."  Bobbie said as she reached and took one from the man.

He glared at her but did not say a word.  She could not make heads or tails of it, the drink had
indeed ruined the paper. "Other one as bad?"

 He handed it to her and said, "Couldn't be worse."

After looking at it, she handed it back to he man and said, "Too bad this happened. I was really
curious what you were pondering over.  Maps are used for many things and if I let my mind go, I
can well imagine just what might have been on them."

He scoffed, "Don't let it go too far Deputy, only thing on them was my family's place.  I was
working on something with them. Now I have nothing to work with."

Still shaking her leg and feeling the coolness on her skin, Bobie offered, "I could drive you to the
recorder's office get you a set of new ones, that is if this is recorded."

He ordered a whisky, tuned to her and replied, "No need.  I have some people to see.  Doesn't
make any difference anyway.  Nothing I could do about it."

Sitting her Stetson on the counter, Bobie placed both hands on her hips and said, "If spilling the
drink was supposed to throw me off, make me forget what I walked over there for, you are sadly
mistaken.  Why don't you pick up a stool, sit yourself down and talk to me."

He seemed to mumble under his breath but sit down and ordered another drink. "You want to
know my name.  How I knew Pete White Feather. What I was doing with him the night he died.
Am I anywhere near?"

"You are right on. So Mr whoever you are, tell me."

He took a long drink, turned to gaze at her.  She was wet, waist down and he couldn't help grin.
"Sorry bout that, just looks funny."

Biting at her lower lip, Bobie replied, "Glad you think it is funny, I don't.  Now tell me, who are
you and what are you doing here?"

He shrugged, reached into a pocket and withdrew a billfold.  Handing it to her he said, "Answer
is in there."

She gazed at Belle then took the billfold, opened it carefully.  Her eyes gazed at the man's
picture before she asked, "Why didn't you come to the Sheriff, talk to me, anyone. What are you
doing here and who was the other man with you?"

He knew she did not want to mention what she had seen and replied, "Works with me.  If you let
me go for now, I am staying at the Tucker Hotel, I will be in this evening around seven, come by
and we will talk."

Handing the billfold back to him she nodded.  "See you at seven."

The man stood picked up the wet papers and left the room.

Belle walked over to her and asked, "What did you find out? Is he some mysterious alien sent
from another planet?  Kidding of course but what did you find out Bobie?"

"Standing, she placed the Stetson on her head, and said, "He is a man with many answers.  No
need to fret over this Belle.  Got to go and wash this off, change clothes. Take care."  She turned
and left the room.

Bobie walked toward her jeep.  Happy to be inside, motor starting and on her way to the cabin.
Rolling down the window she hoped the air would help to rid her of the liquor smell.  Grinning
she realized if she was picked up for speeding, she might be charged with DWI.

It was a pleasant drive, not many vehicles on the road.  Seeing several horses grazing in a nearby
meadow, her mind went to Skylar Richmond.  It had been some experience, getting shot at,
seeking refuge, then finding their way home bareback. She had to admit the woman knew horses.
She seemed to be well versed in many things.

Slowing for a herd of cattle to cross the road, she waved at the men on horseback that were
herding them.   It didn't take long and she was on her way again.   In her mind she could still see
the redhead, a look of sheer exhaustion on her face when she walked into the cabin that day.

Sky was pacing and groaning at the same time.  When Bobie entered the room, she stopped and
stared at the woman.  "You should have told me!  No bubble bath.  This was mean of you Bobie

Tongue in cheek, Bobie walked past the woman to the refrigerator and got a soda. Opening it she
walked back into the room.  "Knew it wouldn't do any good.  We weren't going anywhere and
all it would have done was get you all upset, like now."

"Always so cool Miss Parker?!"

Offering the can of soda to the woman who shook her head, Bobie said, "Don't have a bath, you
are right. But there is a wonderful hot springs within walking distance and I am sure your aching
muscles will love this."

Skylar Richmond's appearance changed, her eyes lit up as she said, "Not that I have anything
against a shower, they are nice just wanted a bubble bath.  Suppose a hot springs would do."

Bobie left the room and came back with several towels.  She headed toward the door calling
back, "Want to soak, better follow me."

It had been a lovely night, the second Sky got comfy in the bubbling springs she lay back and
sighed. "This is heaven."

Bobie nodded and said, "I'll be right on the other side of the big rock, when you get ready go
back or let me know you are going back.  Hope your first day was not too out of the ordinary."

Sky watched her walk away. "Not going to join me?"

Stopping she gazed toward the woman who was languishing in the water.  "Nope, give you your

Sky called out, "Wouldn't mind. Perhaps the great Bobie Parker is a tad shy.  No need to be
around me.  And in so far as an ordinary day.  Nope, was not what I expected for a first day but
surely one to get a person's juices flowing.  Have a good soak."

Shaking her head, Bobie headed for the warm water.  She too was tired and sore and wanted
nothing more than to soak the aches away.

Her cabin was now coming into view and for this, Bobie was happy.  She couldn't wait to take a
shower and change clothes.  When she left that morning, Sky did not want to go into town so she
left her behind. The woman wanted to make a few calls and rest.

Now, as she parked the jeep she wondered just what Sky had been up to. "Probably soaked in
the spring all day," she mumbled.

Entering the cabin she called out, "Sky!  It's me, don't go using any of that karate stuff."

There was no answer.  Walking into the different rooms, she could see there was no sign of Sky.
Beginning to come unwound, she tried to talk herself into being calm. Still searching for the
woman. Knocking on her bedroom door and calling out her name to no avail. She finally opened
it giving the woman fair warning she was coming in.  The room was empty.

Chapter Five

When Bobie Parker left to drive into town, Sky decided to putter around the place, get used to it.
She wanted to check outside, spent some time gazing at the beauty of the tall pine trees. It was
truly magnificent.  And for once she did not wake to the sounds of sirens.  Trying to put what she
had together she needed to figure out just what  might be taking place.  For sure the spirit world
was not foremost on her mind.

After making several calls to Bernie, and finally catching him in she told him what had taken
place. He became concerned upon hearing someone had shot at her. Quickly changing his mind
he wanted her to fly back.  Something had come up in Madrid and he was ready to send her there
and would send Larry in her place.

It was nice the man was concerned but there was no way she was going to relinquish this to anyone
else. She was there, and would do all in her power to see just what was happening. After all she
owed someone big time.  Shooting at her like some coward did not set well with the woman.

After several calls and taking a walk down to the lake, she made up her mind to go back to the
dig.  Her main concern was how to get there.  Not knowing just when Bobie would be back she
went inside and thumbed through the phone book. Seeing Max Fletchers name in big letters and
circled, she took a chance and called the man.  He was very nice and upon hearing who she was
and where she was staying he offered an old pickup for her to use.

Sky was happy to have transportation but was not sure how to get the vehicle.  She was relieved
when the man said he would send one of his hands to drive it over and one to bring the other
back.  She thanked him and offered to send money back.  The man refused and she did not push

It did not take her long to get a few things together.  Finding her backpack, she filled it, and
strapped on her gun belt.  One side held the gun the other a knife. She made sure to take water
and was smiling at the preparations when she heard the vehicle drive up.  She wondered
if it was Bobie but it was only the men from Fletchers.

Thanking them she watched as they drove off.  Both men's eyes had been glued to her every word.
She was having a hard time getting used to the friendliness of the people in the area.
Walking back inside she scribbled a quick note to Bobie, telling her where she was going and
that she would be back soon, not to worry.

Arriving at the foot of Devil's Mesa, she parked the pickup put on her back pack and began to
trudge up the crooked path.  It looked very different in the daylight.  Police tapes were stretched
out around the area and the do not enter signs were evident.  There was no sign of footprints,
the rain had made certain of that.

She reached down to make sure the cell phone was in the holster on the belt as well as her gun.
Seeing a small trail leading off the path, she decided to explore.  It seemed like it might run into
a canyon.  Looking back to make sure the pickup was still there she turned and began to take a
journey into the past, hoping to explore a lost civilization and maybe get a few answers.

The Kiva was definitely old, from all she could see, perhaps as old as 1500 A.D. What brought
them there? What happened to these people? Questions she always had and questions rarely
answered.  She soon found herself in a canyon both sides volcanic rock and both sides steep.
Stopping to catch her breath, she gazed around the area.

It was magnificent.  There was no sound, it was as if she had been catapulted back in time.
The walls were heavily marked.  Petroglyphs spelled out many stories.  Quickly walking to a
huge bolder she removed the backpack and began to examine the inscriptions.

She felt like a very small person standing next to this gigantic rock.  It was amazing.  Taking out
a piece of paper from the backpack she began to trace the carvings.  This occupied her time for
a while but then she decided a picture was worth a thousand words and vowed to get her camera
and come back.

She had been so busy taking soil samples, and scrapings she forgot the time. It was her stomach
that rebelled.  Realizing she had worked up an appetite, and after gazing at her wrist watch she knew
it was well past noon.

Sitting near several outcroppings she decided to eat.  Leaning back against the rock wall, she partook
in a ham sandwich, chips and a warm cola.  It was amazing, the area, where sand now covered the floor
of the canyon once must have had  water running over it.  This was a perfect scene to be shot in a western
movie. Any moment she expected to see Geronimo appear followed by  his mighty warriors.

Sky reveled in the feel of this ancient site, while enjoying the meal, food always tasted better outdoors.
The people, the joy, the sacrifices they must have made. There was no way to write it or say it but
she felt something. A presence, an aura, something was taking her into another plane.
Shaking her head she scolded herself for getting so carried away. Leaned back, closed her eyes and
took a short nap.

Once rested, she put the backpack on again and began to walk. Turning a corner in the canyon she stared
at the huge wall in front of her. It was enormous and there was no way of getting around it. This was when
she saw the etchings in the stone.  There it was . . . a steep basalt staircase set into the crevice of the high
cliff walls leading to the top. Gazing upward, sheltering her eyes from the hot sun, she wondered just how
strong these steps were and where  they led. Sighing she decided to attempt the climb.

Rocks crumbled but the steps held. It was a slow climb and half way to the top, Sky was thinking better of it.
Her fingers were raw from grabbing rock, as she tried to keep her balance.  Several times she had to remove
her knife and dig at the rock. Persistence paid off because she soon saw the plateau and heaved a big sigh as
she pulled her way to the top.

Removing the backpack, she lay back on the ground and tried to catch her breath.  Finally sitting up, she gazed at
the area.  It was a Kiva, more than likely a part of the one she and Bobie Parker had been to that night. This was
a big tribe.

The Kiva was surrounded by the unusual beauty of the volcanic rock and this overlooked the lakes in the area.
And to the north, the awesome pine trees, a forest of splendor all by itself.  It was intoxicating and breathtaking
at the same time. Her hands ached as did her body but she felt a surge of power.  It was a marvelous
experience walking in the footsteps of people so long ago.

When she felt rested, Sky began to walk around, take in the beauty of this awesome place. The elevation was
higher than many places she had been. But she was used to a drastic change in altitude.  Each step took her
closer to the people that lived there so long ago.   Natural fissures were located throughout the area, she could
only surmise these may have been used for some sort of religious ceremonies.  It had to be difficult to survive in
a time like this.

Wishing she had brought a rope, she wanted to climb down into one of the openings.  Perhaps there were broken
pots, weapons, still there or perhaps she might find a clue as to what was taking place in the area.  She satisfied
herself by taking in all the beauty of this magnificent place. Thinking perhaps she might return, rope in hand and
maybe a willing Bobie Parker too.

It was nearing sunset and she was no where near out of the area.  Digging out her flashlight in case she might need
it, she continued walking.  It was as she was taking the last steps toward the open pathway she heard a familiar voice.

"Are you daft woman!  This is a crime scene, what are you doing wandering around here by yourself?!"

Smiling she saw Bobie Parker trudging toward her. "Good Day to you Deputy Parker. I see you missed me.
Thought I would come out, take a look. Didn't harm anything. Actually I stayed away from the murder scene,
went further out and up."

"I couldn't believe it when I got back to the cabin and all I found was a note saying you were coming out here.
We have to get back, this place is not safe after dark as you well know.  'Miss you, you ask.'   From the look
on your face I might think it is just the other way around. People should always travel in pairs, you should know

Sky followed her down the path and let the woman's rambling about traveling in pairs pass.  Though she did admit
to herself it was a good idea.  Once at the bottom she gazed at Bobie and asked, "How was your day?  You look
tired Deputy."

"It has been interesting, probably not as interesting as yours but at least my hands are not all scraped up.  Met a man
in town, a man I think you will like to meet also.  We have been invited to a big doings at Belle's Tavern tomorrow
evening, been invited to Belles for dinner, drinks.  And people seem to think the two of us are a twosome.  There that
enough for you?"

Taking a deep breath and letting it out, Sky raised an eyebrow and replied, "That is some day I must say. A man
I might like to know, tell me who is he?  And being invited to a doings at the tavern might be interesting. Going to
Belles for dinner, well she is your friend not mine, here I will bow out.  In so far as our being a twosome, well I find
it flattering, sorry you find it so distasteful."   She walked past Bobie heading for the pickup.  "Meet you back at the
cabin, don't dilly dally."

Bobie watched the woman get into the truck and drive away. Quickly making it to her jeep, she too turned down the
road, hoping to get to the cabin before Sky decided to take off somewhere else. It wasn't easy keeping up with this

On the drive, Sky's words were gnawing at her.  'In so far as our being a twosome, well I find it flattering, sorry
you find it so distasteful.'  The woman was unlike anyone she had ever met. Finally admitting to herself that yes, indeed
they were a twosome of sorts. It was not an easy task keeping up with this dynamic woman.  She wished she had brought
the camera, would have been a lovely picture of the great Skylar Richmond, looking somewhat the worse for wear. When
they could find some quiet time, both women needed to talk.  It would be interesting to see just what Sky did and what she found this day.

As well, she needed to fill her in on what had been happening.  Bobie had to admit since Skylar hit town, things were definitely not quiet or mundane anymore.  Not that they were before but there was a whole different charge in the air now.  One she could not explain.

Chapter Six

Stepping  into the cabin, Bobie walked to the phone and called the Sheriff's office again.  This time Ben Burgess had been in but was now gone to the court house in San Pedro a neighboring town.  Lately he was a hard man to catch. She removed her gun belt and hung it up. Sky's backpack was setting in a corner of the room, and it took all she had not to take a peek.  The woman had been out all day, walking, and God knows what. She just hoped there were not crawling things in it.

She called out her name several times but the woman either did not hear her or was busy.  It was when she walked to the bedroom door and knocked she heard water running.  Sky was in the shower, relishing the warmth of the water by  the
way the woman was singing.  At least she was getting used to the shower, of course not a day went by the woman did not tease her, or get some sort of dig in over the bathtub incident.

Removing her boots, she set them near the door. Placing her jacket over a chair she picked up the folders and stretched out on the couch.  It had been a long day and she was not  much closer to solving Pete's murder. The man she met at Belles might give them a clue but he seemed edgy and did not want to really talk. The pitcher of beer was no accident, no one could have been that clumsy. But she knew the tavern was not the place to interrogate anyone. Especially an agent of the government, If indeed he really was.

When Sky stepped into the living room, she smiled, for there stretched out on the couch, papers on the floor and empty folders on her chest, lay a very peaceful Bobie Parker.  The woman had fallen asleep and from the look on her face was enjoying the nap.

Sky had changed into a pair of blue jeans, a leather shirt that was held together by a few buttons and many crisscrossed leather ties. Though her face was red from the being out in the sun, she looked rested. Tossing her head, red hair flowed back and forth, finally settling on her shoulders. She was barefooted and walked softly toward the papers.  Bending down, she reached out to pick them up, being careful not to awaken the woman.

Walking to the table, she sat and began to look through them.  Glancing back every once in awhile to be sure Deputy Parker was still in dreamland.  It was evident the woman was checking into newcomers in the town, she wasn't sure why but it was a start.  Finding the forms boring, she sat back in the chair and turned her attention to the woman that now held a look of happiness on her face.

Bobie Parker was a beauty, though the woman seemed to ignore this.  Sky found herself pondering what the two of them might have done in Egypt.  Grinning she whispered,  "Would not have been the same once you left Deputy."  Realizing she needed to think about the upcoming report to Bernie, she tiptoed from the room.  It didn't take long to put on socks and boots and go

When Bobie woke she felt embarrassed to have fallen asleep. Quickly getting to her feet and realizing the folders were empty
she set about to look for the reports. Spying them on the table, she wondered how they could have gotten there. Was she sleep walking?  The scent of White Diamonds permiated the area yet there was no sign of Skylar Richmond, just a few telltale signs she had been in the cabin.

Picking up the reports and placing them in the folders, she slipped on her boots and went looking for her roommate.
Took a while but she did find Skylar sitting on the ground, staring out at Willow Lake. The woman heard her approaching and turned to wave.

"Missed me again I see."

Bobie smiled, "How could I not, the place was way too quiet. What are you doing out here?"

"Wanted to think and you were busy off in dreamland, I didn't want to disturb you, so I came out here.  You're always telling me how tranquil it is and I should let myself go, become one with nature."

Laughing, Bobbie tipped her head to the side, "Kinda. But I think you and nature are pretty much buds if you know what I mean."   She plopped down beside Skylar.

Sky turned to gaze into the woman's blue green eyes.  "You look rested. Guess this means you are ready to go on a reconnaissance trip this night."

"I am ready when you are, pray tell me what trip are you speaking about?"

"Well you did tell me there was this man that I might like to meet.  I doubt it was because you felt we would be kissing cousins. So tell me what is up?"

Bobie told her what happened at the tavern and when finished Sky wrinkled her nose and said, "Thought I smelled beer. Then when I tossed my clothes in the laundry basket, I found yours. They reeked. Had me wondering just what you were doing at Belle's tavern."

"Very funny.  The man spilt a pitcher of beer all over the table and all over me.  He did not want me to see what he was looking at.  But I did get his billfold and his name is Jason Littleton, works for the government. Or so his identification shows."

"Hmmm . . . People can forge things so easily, I wonder if he really is. Did he have a gun?"

"Don't know, I did not search the man and it did not come to an out and out confrontation. But get this, he and another man were the last ones to see Pete White Feather alive, they all left Belles that very evening together."

Sky stood, held out a hand to give Bobie a hand up and said, "Good work Deputy.  I think it is time we went to see this man and get some answers."

"Your hand. I don't want to hurt you."

Sky grinned. "Hands are fine, I put something on them. Should be good as new in a day or two.  You will not hurt me, promise, now come on let's go."

She grasped Sky's hand and was soon on both feet.  The two stood and stared at each other before Bobie released her hold on the woman's hand. "Sorry bout that.  Not used to anyone giving me a hand up."

Sky's smile was warm as she said, "You know it is not a bad thing to accept help once in awhile Deputy. I am here and whenever you need anything, let me know. If I can do it, I will."

The two women began to walk back toward the cabin. Both stepping leisurely along the path. Bobie was actually beginning to like this woman, she had surprised her at every turn.  "Good to see you in jeans stead of those leather pants you wear."

Sky stopped, turned and stared down.  "Hmmm. Been checking out me and my leathers huh?  Happy you approve. By the way, when you get the time I would like to know more about the site, besides the murder."

Feeling her face flush, Bobie turned away and looked back toward the lake. "We do live and breathe in the same area, kinda hard not to see each other in clothes."  Sky's words had made an effect, one she was not sure of.

"Or out of them.  Did I miss something back there at the lake?"

Warmth had overtaken her as Bobie replied, "'Out of them.'   I . . . The hot springs.  You were so . . .so relaxed about disrobing. I apologize if I did or said anything to offend you."

"Nope you did nothing.  And don't worry Deputy, I have not seen you in the nude if that is why you are so flushed at this moment."

Any other time a full moon would have been wonderful, just not this night.  Fanning her face with her left hand, Bobie rushed past Sky.  "It's hot tonight, don't you think."

Sky stood and watched Bobie Parker until she was out of sight.  Throwing back her head she chuckled.  At that moment she would have bet her life that it was not the hot night that had affected the woman.  Quickly following she was soon back to the cabin.

When both women were in Bobie's jeep and heading toward the lights of  the town, Sky gazed out the window and
said, "Lots of antelope here, saw a few today but what really amazes me are the rattlesnakes."

Bobie glanced toward the woman for a second before she replied, "Antelope, elk, deer, bear, mountain lion, lots of wild life in these parts. As for the rattlers, lots of them too. Person has to be careful, they will strike without notice if you happen to invade their territory."

"They have territory, as in Rattlesnake territory, no trespassing?"  It was the woman's chuckle that gave her away.

 "There you go again, teasing me. Very funny.  They do actually, about twenty miles away, a canyon that is filled with snakes and it is known as Rattlesnake basin. What I meant by 'invade their territory,' anytime you happen to wander into an area they are in, they will strike, it is their nature. Will to survive, get the first hit in, that sort of thing."

"How comforting you are Deputy Parker, here I wander all over the area and could have been struck."

"Nah. You're too ornery, if a snake were to bite you, might get poisoned itself."

Sky grinned and for a brief moment their eye's met. "Can't figure you out Deputy, sometimes I think I have and then I'm not sure."

"Best not try, many have and none have succeeded. And you are definitely hard to figure Skylar Richmond.  Me, I kinda like my own space."

"Might be interesting to give it a go. I have heard you are a whiz at figures. In so far as you own space, I can see that, I do too, still once in awhile it is nice to mingle with others."

Their chatting had taken the monotony of the drive away and they were soon entering the town limits. Pulling into a parking space, Bobie said, "We are here, time to go meet the mysterious Mr. Littleton.  The second he sees you, he will think he has gone . . ."

Sky looked at her quizzically. "Gone?  Gone where?  Do I look that frightful?"

Stepping out of the jeep, Bobie turned to gaze at the woman. "Come on, don't dilly dally as you say."

Sky  was soon by her side as the two walked toward the hotel. "Waiting?" Sky's voice rang out.

Stopping, Bobie appeared to be annoyed then said, "Well, look at you, he will set eyes on you and think he is dreaming. Frightful doesn't even fall in your shadow woman. There are you satisfied, now let's go."

Sky  watched the woman walk away, each step mesmerizing, yet each step confusing. The woman certainly had a way of keeping a person on their toes. "Hey, Wait up!"  She ran to catch up to the woman as the two entered the main lobby.

Bobie walked to the desk, and asked for the man's room number.  Then she pointed to the stairs and blurted, "Race you!"

Sky shook her head at this unpredictable woman as she watched her take two steps at a time. The man at the desk also watched as the beautiful flaming haired woman took off after Bobie Parker like lightning unequaled.

Reaching the top of the stairs, Bobie turned to see where Sky was, when she didn't see the woman, her smile turned to a frown. It was in that instant, Skylar Richmond, landed in front of her. The woman had grabbed the chandelier, and somehow swung over.  Bobie was amazed and yet devastated the woman might have been killed.

"You, you, you . . . "

Sky grinned, "Yes me. Guess you did beat me but that was not fair Deputy Parker. You kinda threw my world into a tailspin and it took a few moments to get my bearings.  Have to say being around you is certainly not dull. Do you throw a sudden race at all your friends?"

Bobie smiled and winked.  "Just wanted to show you, I am not always dull and job related."  Reaching out she touched Sky's right arm. "Ready to get some answers?  Who knows maybe you will get a chance to kick butt. Show me this amazing style you have."

Sky nodded as the two women walked down the corridor to room 14.  After knocking and knocking to no avail, Sky glanced around and gave her famous yell, her right foot  flew out crashing into the door sending it open and into pieces.
This time she looked at Bobie and asked, "Well, coming in or not?"

Bobie stared at the remnants of the door and said, "Remind me not to get you mad. Yes, right behind you."

The two women walked into the empty room and began to search the area.  It was when Bobie went into the bathroom that she saw the man.  He was laying in a tub of blood red water, his throat had been slashed.

Continued in chapter seven

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