Fire Within

Part 6

by Anita Louise

bounty@cybertrails.com

(c) copyright 1/02



Anita's web site
 
 



Chapter Sixteen
 
 

Bobie heard the man's words and felt she was in a dream, a nightmare. Looking up at Doc Taylor, she mumbled, "Escape? How?"

"Not sure. The man was put in a private room, given mediation and a deputy was supposed to watch. Seems the man slipped away for coffee and when he returned, Trenton was gone."

She began to pace back and forth, her mind going in many directions. It was Doc Taylor that brought her back to the moment.
"Bobie, from all I have heard, Jim Trenton is evil and will not stop to pay the two of you back for his capture, the death of his friends and the jailing of one. I examined Skylar Richmond, what I have seen sends chills throughout me and I am not easily touched in this way."

She glanced toward the room where Sky was sleeping peacefully. "I will not let him get anywhere near Sky again. The man is also cagey, and if Sky is not in the hospital then he will come here. I want you to close down for a while, let Sheriff Burgess know what is going on and take the opportunity to go fishing."

The man stared at Bobie, the look on her face, the way she held her body, he had not seen determination like that for a long time. "I will continue working. Patients need me. I am prepared if the man should show up. I don't think he will. If you realize he might come here, then I am sure he also knows the police will be looking for just that."

She walked toward the door to Sky's room and asked, "Then what do you suggest I do, Doc?"

"I think you should get your friend up, and the two of you hightail it out of here, at least till the dust settles."

Bobie set her jaw, as a calculated look appeared on her face. "You've known me a long time Doc, does hightailing sound like something I would do?"

He shook  his head. A look of dismay covered his face. "No. But it is not just you now, it is her too. She has been through a lot. I know you have also but her body needs to heal and you going off  half cocked will only cause her to go after you."

She tipped her head to the side. Her mind mulling over the doctor's words. "You are right, knowing Sky as I do, she would come after me. I will think about what you have said. For now, I'm going to go wake Sky. If  we are not here, there will be no reason for Trenton or any of his cohorts to come looking."

He watched the woman walk back into the room and close the door. Bobie Taylor was a force to reckon with but she was only one woman and this man Trenton had many friends, people that would look at the man as if he was the injured party.  He sighed and walked into the waiting room.
 

Approaching the still woman, Bobie hesitated then whispered, "Sky. Sky wake up."

Sky didn't move. The woman's face was bruised and at that moment Bobie decided to leave her alone and let her rest. The most important thing for Skylar Richmond was sleep. She stepped out of the room and walked toward Doc. Burgess. The man's eyes lit up when he saw her approaching.

"Doc?  I wonder if it would be all right to let Sky sleep off the sedative?"

He removed his glasses, dropped them in a pocket of his white lab coat and replied, "Fine by me. I take it you have decided to go after Trenton?"

She shook her head. "No. I do have some things I need to do. Meet with Sheriff Burgess. Pick up my new vehicle and return Fletcher's pickup to him. Sky is in no condition to be traipsing around with me. I will make sure Sheriff Burgess puts someone on detail to watch your clinic."

He scratched the side of his nose, then answered, "She should sleep for several more hours. I will make sure she is all right.  Just promise me one thing, be careful."

She nodded and walked toward the front door.
 
 

Ben Burgess just stepped out of the Tucker Hotel and had pulled the collar of his Levi jacket up. The wind was blowing and the coolness of the air had sent many people scurrying  inside. Turning to walk toward Belle Gardner's tavern, he heard the words, "Sheriff, I was hoping I would run into you."

Before he could answer, Bobie stepped in front of the man. "I just heard, Jim Trenton got away and is out here somewhere."

A disgusted sound emitted from his throat as he muttered, "Gave my man the slip."

Arching her left eyebrow Bobie gazed into the man's eyes and said, "Easy to give someone the slip if they are not there watching."

The man took several steps back then narrowed his eyes and gazed at the woman. "You were there, were you?  Course you weren't, so don't go saying things you know nothing about."

"I heard . . ."

"Heard. People in this town have nothing better to do than gossip. Yes, the man did escape custody.  He was given a pill to sleep. Nurse said he took the pill and when she checked on him, the man was snoring away. I told you I was short a deputy, but one was assigned to watch Trenton. No one really knows what happened but he got up and walked out."

"Seems to me a man the size of him would be seen easily."

"It was late, no one was expecting this to happen.  Are you running the office now Deputy Parker?"

Bobie shifted from one foot to the other as she replied. "No. I apologize Sheriff. It is just, Sky is at Doc's and she is in no shape to face the man again. Doc and I both think he may try to get to her at his office."

Ben Scoffed, "Man has better things to do than go looking for your . . . your ward."

"From what I have seen of Jim Trenton, he holds a grudge and will stop at nothing to get even. Living in these parts for so long I am surprised I have not come across him before now."

"Goin over to Belle's want to walk with me, would rather talk inside than out here."

She nodded. The two walking side by side were the only ones on the sidewalk and it didn't take them long to approach Belle's Tavern.  Both sighed when they entered the warm room.

Belle looked up from the juke box she had been working on. "Sheriff, Deputy, what brings the two of you in here on such a cold evening?"

He glanced at his wristwatch then said, "Needed to get out of the cold and thought it would be nice to step in here."

The woman pushed the juke box into its previous place then turned and approached the two. "Have a seat, I'll get you something to drink."  She was pointing to a small table near the bar and asked,  "What's your pleasure?"

The two pulled out a chair and sat, both gazing up at the woman. Sheriff Burgess looked around the room then replied, "Coffee for me."

"I'll have the same,"  Bobi smiled.

Ben Burgess leaned back in his chair, unsnapped his Levi jacket and said, "Miss Richmond was supposed to be taken to the hospital, how did you end up at Doc Taylors?"

Bobie had been watching Belle Gardener flit around the area, the woman was now heading their way with two steaming cups of coffee. "Miss Richmond didn't want to go. Wanted to see a doctor instead.  Now that Trenton has escaped I am very happy she was not in the hospital. The man would have gone after her."

"Possibly he may have tried but I doubt he would have made it. For I know you Bobie Parker and if  Miss Richmond was in the hospital, you would have been right there by her bedside."

Bobie could not refute the man's words, because she knew very well, he was right.

"Here you go, two hot cups if java. If you need anything else, let me know."  Belle set the cups down then turned and walked toward the jukebox once more.

Taking a sip, Bobie stared at Ben Burgess asking, "Did you talk to Bernie Herbella?"

He blew on the coffee in his cup then replied, "Yes, he called me back. Seems he has already had words with Miss Richmond about returning and the woman turned him down. From what I understand she is no longer working for Bengal Corporation on this case. Woman is a hard head like you. No wonder the two of you get along so well."

Setting her cup on the table, she eyed the man. "Sometimes I think you are trying to get me to tell you something that is not there. We get along, that's that. If you recall, I was never in favor of the woman coming anyway. And yes, Skylar did refuse to go back. She is a world renowned adventurer, has solved many cases, discovered many digs and has defeated many oppressors of people.  I thought perhaps what they wrote about her was hype, it is not. The woman I have come to know is all that and so much more."

He leaned forward, a look of anticipation on his face. "Tell me about the more?"

Holding her cup between the palms of her hands, she moved it back and forth carefully, the liquid rising to the top then going back down. "Just take what you have read and double or triple it."

"Sounds to me like this woman has put you under some sort of spell. You are spouting pure nonsense Deputy, no one is capable of doing all the things written about her and definitely not double or triple. Woman has a good publicist that's all. Since she is no longer working for Bengal, then she is no longer working with you on the Kiva incident much less any other. The sooner she takes a plane back, the better."

Bobie was actually surprised to hear the Sheriff use the words, publicist. "I have come to know the woman. I believe it."

He scoffed, "You come back almost unscathed, she comes back all beat up, tell me that is someone that can do all the things you just said."

"Sheriff, she is a woman, an amazing woman but she cannot leap tall buildings and stop bullets in their tracks. No more than you or I."

He drank the last drop of his now cool coffee and said, "Seems to me the two of you have gotten too close. It will be good to see her on a plane and back to her world. We can get back to solving crime."

Setting her coffee cup down, Bobie stood and looked down at the man. "If Skylar Richmond wants to go back, I will be right there to see her off, however if she does not, I will also be right there to see no one interferes.  In so far as solving crime, the woman has been on the case since she set foot here. You might be amazed at the things she has already garnered."

He stood, frowned and mumbled, "I have the right to send her packing and you as my deputy needs to start obeying my orders."

"Sheriff Burgess, I admire you, always have. Since I lost dad, you have become a rock for me, someone I can always rely on.  But if you try to send Skylar Richmond away and there is no cause, I will fight you. In so far as obeying your orders, I always have. I am tired, and need to get some rest. Hopefully you will see things differently tomorrow."

"Oh by the way Deputy, your new jeep is in the back lot at Fullerton Motors, key is under the mat."

Bobie thanked the man then headed toward Belle and the jukebox.

Sheriff Burgess watched the woman walk away. Every day he saw more of her father than the day before. She had a stubborn streak and after talking with her, he also knew she was carrying feelings for the woman Skylar Richmond whether she wanted to admit it or not. Standing to leave the room, he cursed the day he insisted she cater to the woman's needs.
 

"Whatcha doin Belle?"  Bobie asked as she neared the woman.

Belle Gardener smiled up and replied, "Changing a few songs, and fixing the volume. It's done."  She went to push it back in place and Bobie reached out giving her a hand.

Belle brushed her hands together as if she had finished a taxing job and said, "You and the Sheriff seemed to be in a tight conversation.  Have anything to do with what happened out to Bear Mountain?"

"We just don't agree on a few things that's all."

She pointed to the bar then asked, "Want to join me in a hot toddy?"

Bobie shrugged and replied, "Why not, could use it to take the edge off."

Both women had seen the Sheriff leave. Bobie sat on a stool, her hands clasped together on the counter, and watched the woman make the two drinks. "How's business been? "

Setting the drink in front of the woman, Belle replied, "Slow, but doesn't surprise me. Two deaths, all sorts of superstitious things going around."  She walked around the counter and sat beside Bobie.
 
 

Chapter Seventeen
 
 

Belle Gardner sit in the pickup watching Bobie Parker scale the fence at the back lot of Fullerton Motors. When Bobie mentioned she needed to take the pickup back to Max Fletcher, she volunteered to help. Belle kept looking around, hoping no one would see them and get curious. To most people it might look like a robbery taking place.
She leaned back against the seat, and took a deep breath.  It was then she realized that Skylar Richmond had been in the pickup for the beguiling scent of her perfume was still in the air.

Bobie easily climbed the fence and once inside she spotted the jeep. Quickly making her way to the vehicle she found the key and started it; smiling as the engine purred. The new car smell greeted her like an old family member. So far no one had come along and she was counting on this. Having lived in the area, she knew that the gate near the far end of the lot could be jimmied open.

Belle saw the headlights before she heard the car horn. Turning she could see Bobie as the woman turned her blinker light on, then drove away.  Within a few minutes Belle was right behind her.

The drive out to Fletcher's stables was uneventful. The full moon made the drive easier. Bobie was happy there were no deer dashing across the roadway.  In the back of her mind, was Skylar Richmond a woman she didn't even know last year. She still felt the barbs of what happened and knew she would never forgive herself for getting Skylar involved in the poacher mishap.
Sheriff Burgess' words were also echoing in her thoughts. She was surprised at the man's vehement demand that Skylar leave town. Just didn't set right with her. Something was amiss and she hated to be kept in the dark.

Her new jeep Cherokee sport drove like a dream. The seats were comforting to her aching body but  in a way she missed the rattle and jar once in a while in her other vehicle. The last two days had put a strain on her. She was feeling the effects and caught herself beginning to doze off a few times, finally she pulled onto a rest area.

Coming up the road, Belle spotted the jeep and pulled in behind. Bobie was stepping out of her vehicle and she did the same thing. Approaching the woman, Belle asked, "What's the matter?"

Pacing the area, and stretching, Bobie replied, "Kinda sleepy. Thought I would pull over and try to wake up."

Walking beside the woman, Belle finally said, "You've been through a lot. Too much for one person to have to endure. Your mind is full of things to do, things that happened.  Since I have known you Bobie Parker you try to take everyone's troubles on your own shoulders. Maybe it is time you took time to rest, get away."

Bobie stopped walking, turned to gaze into the woman's blue eyes. "Can't. Too much to do. Still have two murders to solve, have to catch Trenton again."

"Sheriff has other deputies, let them do the work. The murders, what caused them will still be here when you get back, or perhaps the Sheriff will have these solved. And as far as Trenton, he is probably in the next state by now. Man is not going to hang around here. You need to quit taking everything so personally."

Bobie looked away, trouble lingering in her eyes. "How could I not take it personally, I am very much involved. You seem to know this Trenton pretty well if you think he has left."

"Don't know him, know of him and his family. I just don't think he would hang around here. Police are looking for him, half of his men dead. If he were to go looking for anyone, it would be you and it would be much healthier if you just weren't around."

Bobie walked to the jeep and leaned against the bumper. "And your words are supposed to make me feel better or?"

Realizing what she had just said, Belle looked despondent. "Sorry, didn't mean it quite that way. Just seems from all I have heard, you brought the man down and if he has a grudge against anyone it would be you. Couldn't hurt to take some time off, get away, think of other things."

"If I didn't know better, Belle I might think you were trying to run me out of town."  Bobie smiled though it was apparent her words were said in a serious vein.

Belle stared at the jeep and said, "Nice. Bet it runs smooth too."

"Too smooth, almost put me to sleep. We should be to the stables in about ten minutes.  You can drive back. That is, if you don't also feel like going to sleep."

"Nope, wide awake. My business is a tavern, open late. I am used to late hours.  I'd be happy to drive us back. Give me a chance to drive your new jeep.  Sure is purty."

Bobie touched her toes several times then jogged in place before she said, "Let's go. I'm awake and wanting to get this over with."
 

Before long, the two vehicles pulled into the driveway at Fletcher's stables and parked. The two women exchanged keys as Bobie headed to the house and Belle went to the jeep.  Max Fletcher was just pouring a cup of coffee when she knocked on the door.  Didn't take the man long to answer.  Opening the door, he was shocked to see Bobie Parker standing  there. "Bobie!  What brings you out this time of night?"

"Brought your pickup back, the one Sky borrowed. She will not be doing  a lot of driving for a while and I thought it best you have it back."  She handed him the keys.

"Come on in, I want to hear all about what happened?  How is Miss Richmond?  How are you?  I just made a new pot of coffee. I'll pour you some."

Shaking her head, Bobie replied, "It's been a long two days, I'm really tired. I think Cal told you all there was to tell. And Miss Richmond has seen a doctor and is resting comfortably at this moment. Something I need to do before I just crash."

He looked past her toward the jeep and said, "New Wheels, yours are Belles?  Nice, very nice. Does this one come with a top?

She turned to gaze at the jeep, its shiny new paint job glistened in the moonlight, it was indeed a beauty. Belle Gardener had the hood up and was looking at the engine.  Shaking her head, Bobie replied, "Mine. It is a replacement for the jeep I wrecked not long ago. Yes, the top can easily be attached and removed. Belle was nice enough to offer to come with me tonight. I was having the hardest time trying to figure out how I was going to get your pickup back and also get myself back to town."

There was no hurry about the truck, I could have had a hand drive me into town and picked it up at the Sheriff's office. Are you sure Miss Richmond will not be needing it?

"At the present time, I'm sure. Belle has always been a woman that loves to look at new things."

He grinned, "And a woman that can fix just about anything too. Mind if I walk you out to the jeep, take a look?"

She shook her head, turned and began to walk toward the beckoning silver jeep.
 
 

Once they approached Belle who was looking intently at the engine and didn't even hear them, Bobie said, "Belle, Max wants to take a look at the jeep, why don't you take him for a spin, down the road a short way and back. I want to go say hi to Dynamite."

The horse was happy to see the woman. She was completely in the moment as the two drove off. Quickly opening the gate and walking into the corral.  Dynamite nickered, and nuzzled the woman.  "Missed you. I hope you understand why I had to leave you there."  Her hands caressed the animal's face and neck. The woman, the horse, in the moonlight made a beautiful picture.
It didn't take Bobie long to jump onto the animal's back and canter around the arena.

It was a great feeling, the feeling of flying, even the cool air could not put a damper on the elation she felt every time she rode like this. After several rounds, she brought the horse to a slow walk and then stopped. Laying she hugged the animal's neck. Dynamite nickered as Bobie whispered, "You always give me strength, and peace. I have to go now, but I'll be back." With those words she slid from the animal's back, patted it several times then left the corral.

It was at this time, her jeep pulled into the area and Max Fletcher stepped out. "Some vehicle Bobie, lots of gadgets and runs like a top.  It will do you good. Horse is looking this way and nickering. I'll take good care of Dynamite, I can see you have been visiting."

Bobie glanced back then said, "Yes. Dynamite is family to me. I'm glad you like the jeep. It will be fine as long as another deer doesn't decide to jump out in front of me again."

He looked up, "Beautiful moon tonight, some call it a Lover's Moon. One thing about living up in these parts, never know when some sort of wildlife will decide to jump out in front of a person. You'll be fine. Now get. You look tired and I am sure a goodnight's rest is needed."

Bobie gazed up then said, "Well it is wasted on me but I am happy to see it so bright and full, makes driving a lot easier at night." She climbed into the jeep. Looked at Belle and said, "Let's go, I have lots of things to do."
 

As Belle turned the car onto the road to town she muttered, "You're not a robot, you need to take care of yourself. Even robots get rusty and can't work. You look drained."

"Thanks friend. I really needed to hear that."  She smiled toward the woman adding, "I appreciate your help. So sleepy, would you mind if I lay my head back and catch a wink or two?"

"No, go right ahead, I'll turn the radio on, listen to some soft music. We will be back in town before you know it."
 
 

Shivering, Bobie pulled the bed covers over her head. It had been a very tiring past two days and her body was feeling the effects. Pulling herself up into the fetal position, she prayed for warmth.  It was at this time, she felt a movement from behind. While she was trying to figure out what was happening, an arm draped over her chest, as fingers caressed softly in a friendly greeting. The warmth she felt behind her had Bobie feeling a glow she had not experienced before.

The sounds of slumber and contentment were all she could hear. She tried to move but couldn't. Turning her head a little, she whispered, "Sky? What are you doing?"

The woman sighed and spooned closer. "Getting you warm. You keep fidgeting like this we will both be awake all night. Close your eyes and try to relax."

Bobie had to admit, it was a most pleasurable feeling and she really had no desire to leave the warm comforting embrace of Sky Richmond. Even if the woman was half asleep. "All right. I'll be still. Nite."

Sky mumbled something about the weather, made several sighs and whispered, "Night."

From the soft sounds emitting from Skylar Richmond, the woman had drifted into a pleasant sleep. Whereas, Bobie lay, eyes wide open. Her hand briefly touched Sky's once then pulled away. She definitely was not cold anymore. Quite the opposite, she felt a heat rising from within and needed to get up. A glass of cold water, a walk around the room. Something was causing her unrest and it was driving her to distraction. It had nothing to do with being cold anymore.

"Bobie?"  Sky whispered in her ear. "What is the matter? You have been through so much. Is there something I can do for you?"

Bobie moved slowly, falling unto her back she gazed at the ceiling. Sky's arm still lay on her as she reached up placing her hand on it. "It is wonderful of you to want to help warm me up. I'm warm."

Drawing her hand away from Bobie, Sky raised herself on one elbow and glanced down at the woman. Bobie Parker was even more beautiful, hair mussed, looking very vulnerable at that moment. "Sorry.  I only wanted to help. Do you want me to move into the other room?"

Bobie reached out and grasped Sky's hand. "No. I-- There is not need to do that. It's not your fault I can't sleep."

"Have a suggestion."  Sky was intently gazing into her eyes.

Trying to smile, Bobie asked, "What's that?  I'll take any suggestion.What do I need to do, run around the block?  Exercise strenuously, what?"

Sky grinned. "Let me give you a massage.  It will relax your muscles, ease your stress and put you to sleep. I guarantee it. If it does not, you can--send me to my room."

Bobie nodded and said, "Never had a massage. But I'm game for anything right bout now. I hate to put you out though."

Sky sat up and tossed the bed covers back. "Believe me when I say, you're not putting me out. It will be my pleasure. We have a big day coming up and rest is needed.  I owe you a lot, relaxing your bod is only a start. Now roll onto your stomach. And you might remove the pajama top."

For an instant their eyes connected and Bobie muttered, "N--"  Her fingers fumbled with the buttons on her pajama top. "Not sure what to do."

Sky reached out grasped the woman's hands and replied. "It's all right. Leave the top on. I can still give you a massage. You may not feel it as deeply but it should be relaxing."  She smiled as the woman rolled onto her stomach.

Bobie didn't have the nerve to tell Skylar what she was feeling at that moment. Every fiber in her body had been wakened. She wasn't prepared for the woman's lengthy fingers to begin their task of kneading the muscles on her neck and shoulders. Jumping at first, but Sky's soothing words calmed her. At the same time, the woman straddled Bobie and the calmness was gone, replaced by a yearning fire.

"Sky?"

Sky was leaning down, her hands rubbing, fingers kneading, her body moving up and down with each motion. Bobie was not  oblivious to the sensation this was stirring as she murmured, "Are you sure this will relax me?"

Sky stopped, stared down and replied, "Sure hope so. If not, Iím out of practice. Close your eyes, try to think of something pleasurable, take a few deep breaths. Your muscles are tight.  You are a mess Deputy Parker."

Bobie was just starting to say something but the words never happened. The woman's hands were easing her aches, her body was beginning to feel like it was floating. Sky's essence was filling her with a calming peace.  The last thing she remembered was Sky's magical hands brushing her derriere, palpitating, kneading . . . rubbing . . .
 
 

Bobie stretched, and made several contented sounds, as a lovely smile graced her face. It was the smell of bacon cooking and fresh perked coffee that permeated her senses. Opening her eyes, Bobie yawned and at this time she realized she was in a bed and it wasn't hers. Tossing off the flower-covered comforter, she sit up. She was wearing a night shirt that had a happy face on the front of it. Her Boots were on the floor and her belt was hanging on a nearby chair. But her clothes were nowhere to be seen.  The last thing she remembered was riding back in the jeep with Belle driving.
Getting out of bed, she grabbed her head, the room was spinning and she quickly sit down.  Where was she? What had
happened? Sky? Where was Sky?

"Hey sleepy head, you awake yet?"  A cheery voice called out from the other side of the bedroom door.

Getting to her feet and staggering to the door, she opened it to see Belle Gardner holding two cups of coffee. "Belle?  What is going on?"

The woman handed her a cup of coffee and replied, "You were still sleeping when we got into town. So I brought you home.  Didn't know where to take you. Your place was just too far and I would have to stay the night. You didn't object."

Walking to the bed and sitting, Bobie looked at the cup of hot coffee, then set it on the end table. "Not thirsty. My clothes? How did I get into the night shirt?  I have to get out of here."

Belle walked into the room. Looked around and said, "Don't worry, I just removed your boots and belt. You changed your own clothes and I let you wear a spare night shirt I had. Hope you are not angry with me. After you fell asleep, I gathered up your clothes and washed them. They are dry and ready to wear again. I put them in the bathroom. Take a shower, you will feel better."

Bobie ran her fingers through her hair, stood and said, "I need to run some water on my face."  She staggered to the bathroom and closed the door.

Belle watched the woman, then shrugged and left the room.
 

Later when Bobie walked into the kitchen she looked much better. Belle glanced up from a pan of bacon she was cooking and said, "You look like you are ready to face the day, water must have helped. What's wrong?"

"Don't know, just feel groggy, should never have gone to sleep. Didn't realize I was so tired."

"I fixed you a plate, why don't you sit and eat something."

"Can't, have things to do. I appreciate your taking care of me, but I have to run, where are the keys?"

The woman turned off the pilot on the stove and walked to the kitchen cabinet, reached in and came out with the keys to Bobie's new jeep. "Here they are, and your jeep is parked right in back of the house."

She took the keys, attempted to smile then turned to walk toward the back door. "Why did you park it in the back?"

"Just thought it would be better back there. No special reason. Take care of yourself Bobie. Don't you be a stranger, you hear."

Stepping out into the cool air, Bobie took a deep breath and walked to the waiting jeep. She quickly turned the vehicle toward Doc Taylor's clinic, her mind swirling with unexplainable thoughts.

Before long she pulled onto the driveway at the clinic. Still feeling groggy she stepped from the jeep and almost fell. Stepping up to the door, her right hand grasped the knob and tried to turn it. Either she was weak or the door was still locked. She knocked, and called out the man's name over and over, no one answered. Finally she walked around the building and soon found a back window ajar. Even in her groggy state, she was able to open the window and crawl into the room.

The ticking of the wall clock in the waiting room was the only sound she heard. Scrambling to her feet she called out Doc's name again. Still no answer, quickly making it to the room where she had left Sky, Bobie flung open the door.  Her eyes widened as she gazed at an empty bed. "Sky!  Doc! Someone what is going on?!"
 
 

Chapter Eighteen
 
 

Bobie had searched all over, there was no sign of the doctor or of Sky. The aching of her head only added to the stress she was under. Skylar Richmond was her charge, and she had also become a friend. The woman had disappeared and there was not even a trace of where she may have gone.

Searching the area once more she walked to the receptionist area and looked on the desk. Shuffling through papers, she soon found the two prescriptions written for Sky. Putting these in her shirt pocket she proceeded to search for anything that may give her a clue as to what happened. It was the red light blinking on the answering machine that caught her eye. Quickly she began to play back the messages, there were two.

One was from the Doctor's sister and the other was a hang up. So she was no where in her quest. Calling the doctor's sister, she waited hoping the man was there. When Stella Taylor answered the phone, she sounded tired. It was then Bobie realized how early  in the morning it was.

"Stella this is Deputy Bobie Parker, I was wondering if by chance your brother is there or if you have heard from him?"

"Bobie Parker do you know what time it is?"

"Just realized, hope I didn't get you up."

"I was not quite ready to get out of bed. Your call changed this."

"Sorry. About your brother?"

"Haven't seen Mat since yesterday morning.  He is a busy man. What is it you need?"

Realizing she was not going to get anywhere with the woman, Bobie thanked her, apologizing again for the early morning call. Once she had hung up the phone, she made her way back to the window and left. Didn't take long to drive to the Sheriff's office. Ben Burgess's car was parked in front and she wondered if he was there. Sometimes he didn't take the car and preferred to go in his own pickup.

Glancing up the street, she mumbled, "Just cause you are up so early, doesn't mean everyone else is. Can you do anything else wrong?"  The office was open and it didn't take long to walk inside. Bill Green was standing near the coffee pot in conversation with Sheriff Burgess. Both men looked up when Bobie entered.

Bill pointed to the coffee and asked, "Pour you a cup?"

Shaking her head, then wishing she hadn't Bobie walked toward them. "Morning. I was wondering if  either of you have received any news concerning Doc Taylor or Skylar Richmond?"  She bit her lip when she mentioned Sky's name.

Ben Burgess stepped forward, reached out and placed his right hand on her shoulder. "Don't tell me you have lost Miss Richmond?"

She had a very lost look on her face. "Kinda."  Closing her eyes for a second she waited for the barrage to shower her but instead, was met by laughter. Both men were taking her words just the opposite of what you thought they would.
Stepping away from the Sheriff, she placed her hands on her hips and said, "I'm serious. What are you two laughing about?"

Bill picked up his cup of coffee and walked to a desk, leaving Ben Burgess to answer her question. He glanced toward the two and smiled then went about working on files.

"I can't help it Deputy. But since Skylar Richmond has come to this town, she has had you hopping. If she is missing, probably just a game. Woman wants you to find her."

"Really Sheriff, Sky is not like that and I have not been hopping. I don't find this very funny."

He reached for the  instant creamer and proceeded to put it in his coffee. "Not too much is funny anymore it seems. It is early, too early for you to be out traipsing looking for her or Doc.  Last I heard she was at Doc's, did you take her home?"

Thinking about last night, Bobie could only shift back and forth on her feet. She felt like a young school girl caught doing something she shouldn't have. But Bobie had no idea what happened and could not tell the sheriff she lost an entire night. "Yes, she was at Doc's but she is not there now and neither is Doc."

Taking a sip of coffee, Ben sighed, "Nothing like a good cup of java first thing in the morning. Want me to put out an A.P.B. for the woman? I can have her brought in."

"No. I surely don't want an A.P.B. put out.  People are coming to dislike me enough. Skylar Richmond would be furious."

He leaned against the counter, cup in hand, staring toward her. "Then what do you want me to do?"

"Nothing. I'll go see if I can find them. By the way hear anything more about Trenton?"

He shook his head. "Nope, all is quiet. You don't think Trenton is involved in their disappearance do you?"

"I don't know what to think. Thanks Sheriff, I'll talk to you later."

"Oh by the way Bobie, got a call this morning from Fullerton Motors, seems a certain jeep has turned up missing. The jeep seems to have found its way to you."

She managed to smile awkwardly. "Yes it did. Got to go. Bye." With those words, Bobie Taylor was out the door, leaving the two men exchanging glances.
 

Her new jeep was just rounding the corner on Maple street when she noticed Charlie Atkins getting out of  a pickup. Pulling her car along side the man's truck, she smiled and waved.  He looked at her quizzically then smiled and approached the jeep.
"What brings you out so early Deputy?"

"Looking for Doc, have you seen him?"

He thought for a second then replied, "Might be home. If not there, maybe at his sisters, if not there, the hospital perhaps."

When she heard the man's words, she felt like a blithering idiot. Why hadn't she thought to go to his house? And if he wasn't there, the hospital. Thanking the man she turned the jeep toward the hospital, since it was the closest.

There were a few cars in the parking lot which afforded her a place to park close to the main entrance. It didn't take long to make it inside the building and to the front desk. Marge Kilbrite smiled up from several charts she had been working on. "Bobie Parker, what brings you here at this time of morning?  Has there been a wreck or something?"

Bobie smiled and shook her head. "No wreck. I am looking for Doc Taylor, is he here?"

"Just a sec, let me check." The woman walked into a connecting room and talked to the duty nurse. When she finished she walked toward Bobie. "You're in luck. Doc just finished up an emergency appendectomy. He is in the O.R. I called and said you were looking for him."

She thanked the woman and stepped into the long marble hallway. Hospitals are not the most welcoming place but that early in the morning it gave her chills. Walking past the closed doors, the smell of disinfectant, cries, moans, and nurses on their rounds was enough to get her to walk faster, the sooner she was out of this environment the better.

Doc Taylor just stepped into the hallway when he saw her approaching. The man smiled and said, "Bobie, good morning. What happened to you?"

She felt relieved when she saw the man. "You may never know how good it is for me to see you Doc. Where is Sky?  Is she here?"

He pointed to a waiting room and said, "Join me in here, we need to talk."

Her feeling of relief was short lived upon hearing his words and the look on his face. She felt as if her world was falling apart. Once the two were seated, she gazed at him and asked, "Sky? I am worried about her. She was sleeping when I left and now I don't know where she is."

He seemed to be studying her before saying, "I thought perhaps she was with you. When she woke, the first thing she wanted was to know where you were. Then when you didn't show up, and she knew that Trenton had escaped, the woman became frantic. Seemed to think you and the man had met up and something had happened to you."

"God!  How could I have let this happen?"

He reached out and placed a hand over hers. "You didn't let anything happen. People have their own minds you know. I couldn't keep her. She went looking for you and for Trenton. Skylar Richmond is a big girl in case you haven't noticed."

Bobie looked away muttering, "I know she's a big girl.  I also know she is not well at this moment and has no business out somewhere looking for me. And God forbid it if she should run into Trenton."

He drew his brow together into a frown and said, "I gave her the best medical advice I could. I don't know what to tell you Bobie. Wish I could help."

She stood, reached down to shake his hand and said, "You have done a lot. Thank you so much for this. I will find Sky. She will either make it out to the cabin or she will go looking for Trenton. Do you know where he lives?"

He stood and replied, "No. The man kept to himself pretty much. Does not mingle with people if he can help it and would be  living in a hermit way, I think. His mother does have a place near here. But I am sure the police have it staked out. Doubt the man would go there. More than likely has left the area."

"Mmmmm . . .  That is what someone else mentioned to me. Just seems the man I met would be out to retaliate. But then I didn't really know him. The less I know the man the better. I will go now. Thanks again."

"Whoa hold up Deputy."

Bobie was surprised at the doctor's words and turned to ask, "What?  Hold up, why?"

He smiled, and replied, "I think there is a little thing about a blood test. Why don't you follow me to the lab, let me draw the blood and put this to rest?"

She tipped her head to the side and looked at him. "Put what to rest?"

"Sheriff said he wanted a blood test. You get the test, we put it to rest."

She smiled and said, "All right, what else can go wrong. Let's get this over. I need to find Sky."

Doc had been observing Bobie as she sit in the chair and extended her left arm. She had the look of an animal caught in a trap.
Rolling up her shirt sleeve, he placed a tourniquet, cleaned the area and got a syringe ready. "Relax, close your eyes and think of something peaceful, nice, this will all be over in a jif."

Closing her eyes, a painful expression traveled her face as she muttered,  "You say that, it is not you that is getting poked."

"That's it."

Bobie looked at the man, surprise on her face. "It?  You've done it?"

He showed her the tube of blood and replied, "Over." You don't look too good, maybe I should check you too."

She stood and rolled her sleeve down. "I'm fine Doc. Take care of my blood would you?"

He grinned then replied, "I will and you take care of yourself too young lady."
 



 

Continued in chapter nineteen


 
 

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