Fire Within

Part 7

by Anita Louise

(c) copyright 1/02

Anita's web site


Chapter Nineteen

Bobie was in her newly acquired jeep, heading toward Shae Canyon.  Her first thought had been to go through the Sheriff's  office to look for the address of Jim Trenton's mother, but thought better of it. Sheriff Burgess would give her what for, if he knew what she was doing.  Instead she found Mary Trenton's address in a phone book.

Sky was not an easy person to find. She smiled feeling lucky to have run into Ben Jenkins at the Hay and Feed store. The man was pleasant and seemed very concerned about her health as well as the health of Skylar Richmond. She didn't even have to ask, he blurted the information before she could. Bobie smiled reliving the man's itinerary of Sky's movements.  One thing in a small town, everyone seemed to know what is going on.

The woman  had been to several places in Springfield looking for the pickup she had borrowed from Max Fletcher. Upon not finding it she went about trying to rent one from Fullerton Motors. They didn't have a vehicle but young Sam Fletcher was heading to Shae Canyon  to take some pictures. Upon hearing she was looking for Mary Trenton's home he offered to give her a lift.

Several miles back she had turned onto a dirt road that needed to have lots of work done. Driving this while trying to miss all of the chuck holes was like running an obstacle course. In some spots it was like driving on a washboard, this made her appreciate the paved roads in a whole new light. The dry dust was now covering her new jeep with its consuming hands as Bobie sighed. She knew it would not stay looking new forever.  At this time she was thankful for its comforting ride. The other jeep would have her wondering where her kidneys had gone.

A lone coyote ran across the road, then stopped to give her the evil eye for trespassing on its territory.  Before long, the majestic canyons were coming into sight and it was then she came to several forks in the road.

Stopping the jeep, she sat back and strained her eyes to see if she could spot any new tracks. Bobie needed a sign someone had been through the area recently.  The phone book had an address, but it did not give the exact location. Bobie assumed she could just drive up to the woman's home. Never a thought that there would be more than one road in which to drive. After several  moments, she got out of the jeep. Shading her eyes with a hand, she gazed around the area. It was beautiful in a desolate sort of way.

Her boots were making tracks of her own as she paced the area, stopping, looking and walking.  There were two roads that held tire tracks and it took a lot of examining and walking before she decided to take the one on the left. It seemed to head toward a draw of some kind. Getting back in the jeep, she found her canteen and took a refreshing drink of water.  Once again attempted to call dispatch but all she could get was static and gave up.  "Here I come,"  she whispered.

Wolf Spider, a towering rock formation, loomed up ahead. If a person looked closely enough, they would see a monstrous half wolf, half spider formation that gave one thought perhaps there really were creatures roaming the area in times past.  A person would definitely not want to run into this guy late at night.  Bobie thought as she gazed at the grotesque geological pattern.
Stopping the jeep, she sat and stared, it was ugly, yet captivating in a strange way.

Bobie Parker grew up in the area. She knew most of the valley and mountain areas.  For some reason she had never been to  Shae Canyon.  There had always been superstitious rumors, of which she paid little attention. Suddenly all the things she had heard were coming back, sweeping her mind and body with thoughts, fears and legends she never really took seriously. The glow from the rising sun cast an eerie presence to the formation. Shivering, Bobie turned the jeep toward the draw, hoping she had taken the right road and Mary Trenton's home would soon be coming into view.

She smiled when she saw the drive covered with cinders that swept around in a beautiful curve that brought her up under a big juniper tree setting on a hillside. The house was grey stone, and tin covered the flat roof.  There were  two curving wings like the claws of a crawfish, out on each side.  In one of these wings the window was broken and covered with  wooden slats.  It looked as if someone started to construct something and changed their minds.

The house showed outward signs of needing a lot of repair. The screen on the front window and the smoke curling up from the chimney showed someone was home. After stopping the jeep, Bobie tried once more to call dispatch, to no avail.  She gazed around the area, looking for signs of life. The vastness, the desolate area made her now think about what she was doing.

Stepping out of the jeep, she walked toward the front door. After knocking and calling out the woman's name she stepped back and surveyed the house. It was actually standing up very good. Several minutes had past and no one came to the door.
She turned to walk back to the jeep as the door opened.   "What business you got out here?!"

Turning, she found herself staring into a cold rifle barrel. Bobie raised her hands and said, "Good Morning, I'm Bobie Parker. Looking for a friend of mine, she may have come out this way."

Mary Trenton was a tall plump woman, and her features were thick. Her mouth was set in lines of vindictive hatred. Her chest was heaving. She peered through slate gray eyes embedded under thick eyebrows, and her sun-reddened lids seemed like ruts in deeply cultivated land.  Her grizzled hair was pulled back in a loose bun as tangled hair tossed in waves over her forehead.

Bobie realized she was in a bad situation and could easily see the woman and Trenton were related. The woman holding the gun was sizing her up. She stepped into the sunlight and said, "Nothing out here but dust and snakes and things you don't want to see. No one has been by here, cept a young man going in to take photos. Best you get in your fancy jeep and hightail it back from where you came."

"I have come a long way. I know my friend was with the young man, and he was bringing her out here."

Mary Trenton snarled, "I live out here so no one bothers me.  Leave me be and I'll leave you be. Believe me girlie, you don't want to tangle with me. Told you ain't seen no one else ceptin you."

"Where is your compassion?  I need to rest. Could I just come in and catch my breath?"  She barely finished the last word before she felt the solid poke of the rife barrel in her stomach.  Mary Trenton continued to poke her, each time sending the woman backward until she was standing by her jeep.  "Get in, and get out.  That's my last warning. Next time it will not be the end of the rifle barrel you feel. It will be hot lead!"

Bobie's eyes met the woman's, before she said,  "I'm going. I thought people were more hospitable out here."

"You thought wrong. Now get!"

It didn't take Bobie long to step into the jeep and drive away. Glancing into her rearview mirror she could still see the woman.

Mary Trenton was every bit a force to watch out for. She and her son shared the same devious way about them.  There was no way Bobie was going to go back to town, not without finding out if Sky had been there. She turned onto the road and drove until she was out of sight. Then parked the vehicle, grabbed a canteen of water, a pocket knife and began her trek back, this time taking a river bottom. It was tough walking, the sand was thick and wanted to draw her in with every step.

It took longer than expected and she was glad for the cooler weather. Climbing up the side of an embankment she lay on her stomach and gazed over the top.  The back of the house was now in her vision. A wood porch faced a spectacular canyon view.  The back of the home was recessed however to keep the taut wall line and provide shelter in the weather. Whoever had built the home knew what they were doing.

Bobie lay there for a while, trying to catch her breath and decide on the best course of action.  If Jim Trenton was in the house, he would not be easy to take down.  Where was Sky? Did they capture her again?  Her mind swirled with thoughts and none of them good. She edged back down, until out of sight and took a drink of water. Laying the canteen to the side, she surveyed the entire area.  Taking a deep breath, she began to crawl upward. Gauging the distance to the porch, and praying no one stepped outside, she lay on her stomach and moved like a snake, toward it.

Bobie heaved a sigh of relief when she covered the distance and was able to get on her feet and move slowly toward the large  window in the back of the house. Keeping low and walking softly she peeked in. Inside its long, low stone walls was a rectangular iron stove. The Trenton living  room containing  vari-colored blankets and rugs displaying the skill of the women weavers from the nearby reservation. From the large beams across the ceiling hung several  baskets made by a  southwestern tribe.

In a far corner was a saddle, saddle bag, and bridle setting on a sawhorse. Hanging near a doorway was an Indian water jug.
On the walls, small framed paintings of Wildlife stared back.  Several wooden bookcases overflowed with rare and invaluable collections of history. Pottery, arrows, and some turquoise jewelry were displayed  in prominence. Indian rugs lie on the floor, priceless reminders of a time past. A wooden rocking chair and a  black leather couch, were the only pieces of furniture she  could see but there was no sign of Mary Trenton.

Just looking into the home, would give most people the feeling of warmth and love. There was no evidence in view that would suggest a woman like Mary Trenton lived there. Bobie wondered just how often Jim Trenton visited or if he was in the vicinity at this moment.  She waited for several minutes before walking to the back door and grasping the door knob.  Slowly she turned the knob, opening the door with great care. Once open, she stepped into the warm room.  It felt good to be in out of the coolness.

Walking carefully she made her way to one of the shooting branches of the house. From where she stood, it must have been the part that was unfinished.  Placing an ear to the door, she listened for sounds, there were none and so she opened the door and entered the dim lit passage. It was a lengthy walk, before she came to a room that looked to be a sleeping area. There were bedrolls on the floor and a metal cot in one corner. A small wooden table and several chairs set in the center.

She walked toward the table, staring at several tin cups. It was plain to see someone had been in the room and not that long ago.  Swallowing she walked toward the bedrolls, leaned over and patted each one. Feeling a lump, she took a closer look and smiled when the revolver came into sight.  She had not been able to get her own gun and felt lost without the protection it afforded.  Reaching out she grasped the gun, bringing it up to take a closer look.  Spinning the chamber she looked to see if it was loaded. There were several shells in the chamber.

Standing, she gazed down at the bedroll then the gun in her hand.  If whoever was in the room come back and the gun was not there, would they start an extensive search? She wasn't sure what she was going to do, it was then she realized the gun may have been left for a reason. Stepping back, her foot hit a plank in the floor. Stopping she reached over, and removed the rug.  Dropping to her knees, she laid the gun to the side and began to remove the planks.

When she was finished, what lay before her eyes was an opening that led down. There was a dim light in the distance but that  was all. No sounds.  Bobie wanted to see where this went but at the same time she knew there would be no way out. Deciding to talk to the sheriff and get a search warrant. She felt this would be there another day.  It didn't  take long to put the planks and  rug back.  Stepping away from the spot, she turned to go back the way she had come. At this time she heard footsteps as fear gripped her in a viselike grasp.

She felt a chill of panic and seemed to be frozen to the spot. Quickly looking around the room, she hoped to see some place to hide.  Realizing, there was none, she grabbed the gun, and crawled into one of the bedrolls.  Her head was down, her figure still as stone, as if awaiting execution. A finger on the trigger, she felt as if her heart had leaped into her throat. The footsteps had stopped within a few feet of where she lay. There wasn't even time to curse herself for being so stupid.

"You going to lie there all day,"  a melodic voice called out.

In that instant, Bobie Parker was overcome with happiness. Sky Richmond pulled the bedroll back, exposing a very surprised and happy face. "Well," Sky asked as her emerald green eyes sparkled toward the woman.

Bobie felt as if she was in a dream. A beautiful fantasy. "Sky? Wh--"

"Saw you come in, thought I would see what you were up too.  I have never seen anyone with so much courage. Deputy Parker, you are in the Lion's Den and still walk around as if you haven't a care in the world."

Bobie crawled out of the bedroll, still holding the revolver.  "I've been looking for you.  Bout drove me out of my mind when I couldn't."

Sky reached out and helped her to her feet. "I have missed you too. We have to get out of here before they come back."

"They?  Who are they?"

"Tell you once we are away from this house. Come on, we don't have much time."

Bobie wanted to ask so many questions, her knees felt weak, her heart beat mightily in her chest and at that moment she felt she might just sprout wings.  Sky Richmond was a sight, a wonderful one. She had almost given up on finding the woman. Though she knew in the back of her head, she never would.

Chapter Twenty

Bobie whispered, "What if  Mary Trenton is in the large room?"

Sky pointed to the boarded up window and said, "I came in this way, come on."  It didn't take long before several of the boards were pushed to the side leaving just enough space to crawl through. The two women had little trouble getting out of the opening.  It was fairly easy to put the boards back.  Before long they were both in the cover of the ravine and it was then they sat. Sky gazed upward and remarked, "I don't think it will rain today. Hope you brought some wheels?"

"Days not over yet. Jeep.  It is parked back aways. I decided to walk since Mary Trenton forced me to leave. The threat she made was very conducive to doing just that.  Course I wasn't going anywhere till I found you."

The woman's eyes were locked with hers, as Sky smiled. "Thanks. I felt the same way. Wasn't going to think of quitting until I found you."

Bobie noticed the blood on the back of the blue flannel shirt Sky was wearing. "Your back, it needs tending."

Reaching back, Sky grasped the shirt and pulled it away from her skin. "Fine. I'm fine. Want to tell me where you were?  The doctor said you would be back but you didn't show up.  I became concerned."

Feeling sheepish, as if caught in a snare, Bobie looked away. "Not sure."

Sky reached out, her fingers caressing Bobie's cheek as she gently turned the woman's face toward her. "Tell me. I need to know. Did you run into trouble?"


Sky looked at her, with such wisdom in her face, and in her eyes a pool of warm sea green melded into Bobie's distressed eyes. As Bobie related what happened. Sky sat and listened intently, all the while very quiet.

"I don't blame you if you are mad at me. I'm mad at myself.  I know I was tired but not so tired I couldn't have made it to your bedside."

Sky went to move and caught herself a low moan emitting from within as she bit at her lower lip.

"You're in pain.  I have your prescriptions in my pocket, have to get you back, and start you on your meds." Bobie knew the woman was trying to hide her discomfort, and the moan only brought it to the forefront.

"I can handle the pain. At least it lets me know I am alive. And Deputy, I  am happy to know you are all right, that nothing terrible happened to you. In so far as your making it to my bedside.  I am very flattered."

At that moment, Bobie's face matched the crimson of the canyon.

Sky reached out, grasped the woman's right hand and held it for an instant. "Color only adds to your beauty Deputy.  Now what say we find your jeep and get out of here."

Sky's touch had sent waves of  sensations through her body, it was as if a powerful current had swept over her. "Good idea. Are you rested enough?"  Bobie asked.

"By the way, did you ever stop to think, maybe someone doctored a drink? " Sky inquired as she began to scoot down the incline.

Bobie followed  and heaved a sigh of relief when she was standing beside the tall redhead. "Jeeps not too far down, tough walking in the sand but better than getting shot at. Oh, about your truck. I'm sorry I took it back, just didn't think you would be needing it any longer.  Sometimes I do before I think."

Sky took a deep breath and leaned over. "Give me a sec. Need to catch my breath. About the truck, that's all right. I really hadn't planned on using it too much."

A worried look traveled Bobie's face. Sky's color was off and the woman was not looking too good. "I could try to carry you."

Sky stood, hands on hips as she gazed down at the woman. "Carry me huh?  Sounds like it might be an interesting journey.  Thanks Deputy, but I can make it.  One day I hope to pay Trenton back for this."

"You and me both,"  Bobie murmured.

It was slow going and they stopped many times for Sky to catch her breath but when the dusty jeep came into view, both women were elated.  Clouds were now gathering and from the darkening sky  it looked like they were in for a storm. Opening the door for Sklyar, Bobie stepped back and said, "Take it easy the first step is high."

They were standing close and as Sky went to step in, she turned to Bobie, smiled and said, "I have long legs Deputy, maybe one day I will show you just how useful these can be. Nice jeep."  Once she was inside, Bobie closed the door and went around to the driver's side. It didn't take the woman long to start the vehicle, turn it onto the road and leave a trail of dust behind.

Sky tried to sit back but finally turned sideways in the seat and gazed at Bobie. "Hope you don't mind me staring at you the whole trip Deputy?"

Glancing toward the woman, Bobie shook her head. "Nope. I know it must be uncomfortable to lean on your back. Once we get back into town, might be a good idea to stop at Doc's and get him to patch you up."

Sky reached out to fumble with the radio knobs. "These are nice. I would imagine you get really good sound."

"Don't try to change the subject, Skylar Richmond."  Bobie kept her eyes on the road. The sky had opened up and rain was coming down in sheets. "Going to be hard traveling in this. These roads get washed out easily."

Sky had been trying to see where they were going and finally said, "Teach me to say it wasn't going to rain. I can't see where we are going, how are you doing it?"

Bobie pointed to the dash. "I set the directional course when I came in.  All I have to do is follow it."

"Sounds logical.  But this area is not a logical area.  Maybe we should find a place to pull over till it stops."

Bobie had been trying to maneuver around the holes in the road and finally stopped the jeep. "You're right. We need to find a port in the storm. I am trying to remember just where the hole in the rock was."

"All I can say is, sure am glad I am not out in this. I hope the young man that gave me the lift out was prepared."

"That is just like you Skylar, always thinking about someone else. I am sure he is fine. He is from these parts and  knows the area well.  It was nice of him to give you a ride out.  But I have to ask, what were you thinking? I mean, coming all the way out here, being left. You are not well, or haven't you noticed?"

"There is not a minute goes by I don't know what my body is going through Deputy. But if I were to lie down and let it take over I might never get well.  I missed you. I was worried for you. And I would do it again."

Leaning back in her seat, Bobie placed both hands on the steering wheel. "I would too. Go looking for  you. Now tell me, do you remember the rock I am speaking of?"

Sky nodded. "I think it is about ten miles in from the main road."

The downpour subsided as Bobie looked up clasping her hand together and said, "Thank you, thank you."

Sky looked out Bobie's side window and remarked, "Looks like more water out there than dirt."

Bobie's prayer was short lived as she gazed at what was once a road. "The rain washed it all away. Thank God for the directional signal."

Sky couldn't help but grin as a piece of mesquite wood sailed by. "Can it create water wings and sail us out of here Deputy?"

A look of despair was evident but not for long as Bobie grinned. "Maybe not wings but if it doesn't get any deeper, this baby will drive us out."

"From your lips to God's ears.  Hope you can swim Deputy," Sky mumbled.

"Swim just fine. Say a prayer for us and let's see what Swifty can do."

"Swifty?  You named your jeep?"

"Yep, it is sleek, and reminds me of a guy I once knew."

"He must have been some character to be named Swifty."

Grinning, Bobie started the Jeep, checked the signal and said, "Oh he was. Now you can think about it all the way back, just what was he swift at."

The jeep drove through the watered roadway easily, once in a while they would fall into a deep rut but  the vehicle pulled out and continued on its way.

Sky could see the hole in the rock coming into view. It was a huge sandstone formation with a large circular opening in the center.  A few juniper trees, and several smaller formations lead  up to the larger one. "There's the hole in the rock you have been talking about. You certainly have diverse country.  A person can drive fifteen miles and end up in a totally new environment.  There must be some really interesting archeology finds here. Makes me want to settle for a while."

Bobie glanced toward the woman. "After all that has happened you really think you might want to settle here, even for a while?"

"Well I hope that the torture does not become a habit but yes, I like this amazing country. I could spend a lot of time exploring."

Grinning Bobie added, "And doing your thing."

Sky nodded then wished she hadn't. The bite had been bothering her and every time she moved her head a certain way it throbbed. This sent shooting pains up her neck.

Driving onto a small hillside, Bobie turned the motor off and said. "Let me take a look."

Sky turned away. "No. Nothing can be done now. I feel it, don't need to know what it looks like. Why are we stopping?"

Pointing in the direction of the main road, Bobie replied, "Too much water.  Give it a few hours, let it subside. Don't want to push it. Swi-- jeep is heating up. I need to let it cool down."

Sky opened her door and stepped out. "Good. I can stretch my legs and breathe this wonderful fresh air."

Bobie opened her door and stepped out. She walked around and opened the hood. "This is what I get for pushing so hard."

Sky had stepped close, looking at the engine. "Some might say that's purty."

Stepping back Bobie brought her brows together in a frown. "You making fun of me Richmond?"

"Never Deputy. What do we do now?"

Bobie gazed up toward the hole in the rock and said, "A climb up there. We can take a few things from the jeep and take the time to rest."

Sky gazed upward. "That is a steep climb. Not too sure if I am up to it."

Realizing what she had suggested, Bobie quickly replied, "No need. We can sit in the jeep. I forgot myself for a moment. Sorry. I don't want you trying to make the climb and getting hurt . . . more than you already are."  When she glanced around, Sky was no where in sight.  Grabbing the keys, a few odds and ends from the jeep, Bobie  raced after the woman calling out, "Anyone ever tell you, you have a hard head woman?"

When she made it to the top, Bobie was surprised to see Skylar Richmond sitting inside the circular window. It was wide enough to make a good shelter. Waving toward the woman she said, "You sure move quickly for an injured person."

Sky stood, reached out and grasped her hand, pulling her up. "The last step is a difficult one. I don't want you thinking of me as an invalid Deputy Parker. I have always been able to carry my own weight. It was a nice idea to come up here. Great view as well, it is probably  the only dry spot in the entire area."

Bobie surveyed the area, then sat and said, "I don't think I will ever tire of the beauty that takes in our area. After all that rain, it is nice to find a dry spot. We can rest while the jeep cools down. Brought some jerky, eat, got to keep up your strength."

Sky sat and accepted the jerky Bobie offered. "Not hungry but I will eat. I see you brought up some water. I am thirsty."

Bobie handed the canteen to the woman but did not mention her face was perspiring and it was not hot out.  She knew Sky must have a fever and she also knew she had to get the woman to emergency help as soon as possible.

Sky handed the canteen back to the woman and said, "Don't try to hide it Parker, I know I am running a fever.  Been in the jungles before and other places where this is an occurrence.  My body has been telling me for sometime, guess it is now making its presence known."

"You look a little hot. Why wouldn't you after all you have been doing. I could kick myself for not getting back to Docs."

"Have you give any thought to what I mentioned?  You know, being drugged."

"The only ones that could have done anything like this would have been the sheriff or Belle Gardner. I can't believe either of them would do something like this. I have known both for a long time."

"Well you woke up in Gardner's bed.  Might tell you something."

Not liking the direction this was heading, Bobie changed the subject, "Tell me, I would love to hear of your last quest."

Sky grinned.  "My last quest is still in effect. It is this one.  I get you don't want to think of either of the people as having drugged you.  More than likely you were just spent out. Tired. We had been through a harrowing experience. Little sleep and our bodies were taxed to the limit.  Ignore the mind of a sleuth. Probably read too many Nancy Drew mysteries when I was a kid."

Chuckling Bobie looked at her and said, "You too?  I used to love these stories. Always wanted to see Nancy and . . ."

"Me too," Sky added.

Bobie stood and began to walk the bridge of the circle.

"Careful, it's a long fall,"  Sky warned but stood and followed the woman.

Bobie called back, "You haven't told me what you found out at Trenton's. Did you see who was there? What they are up too?"

Balancing on one foot then the other Sky answered, "I know Jim Trenton wasn't anywhere in my view. I did see several men and the woman coming in and out. Then when I went in, I also did a quick scan.  Brought back a sample I picked up."

Bobie stopped, turned and ran right into Sky who reached out grabbing the woman. "Hold up there Deputy. You make sharp turns."

"Sorry. I didn't realize you were so close. What did you pick up?"

Turning to go back, Sky replied, "Let's go sit."

Once they were safely back, both women sit. Sky reached into the pocket of her flannel shirt and brought out a small plastic bag. "The young man wanted me to take a hard-boiled egg in case I got hungry. Glad he did. I scraped this off the floor."

Bobie took the bag and gazed at the sample inside. "It looks familiar."

"It might be Uranium or some other substance.  I can't wait to look at this under my scope."

"Uranium. Can't imagine what anyone would be doing with this out here. Even why they would be looking for it."

"Maybe they weren't. These canyons, the entire area holds a treasure chest of minerals. Maybe someone just stepped on this and brought it into the house. Whatever it is should give us an idea where these people have been."

"Yes. Or what they are up to.  Mary Trenton is definitely up to something. Since you were already inside, I guess you know about the hidden passage."

"Found it. This is what many stories are written about. Sure would make one good mystery."

Chapter Twenty One

Bobie parked in front of Doc Taylor's office. The jeep was covered in mud but the vehicle brought them back. Both women were thankful to see civilization again.  Doc Taylor was looking at a chart when the two walked into the waiting area.  He surveyed each woman then said, "I see you found one another. Where have you been?  Looks like both of you been in a mud bath."

They exchanged glances and smiled.

"Miss Richmond, you don't look well. Let's get you to an examining room."

Bobie walked beside the woman, and when they entered the room she said, "While you are here and please stay here. I am going over to the Sheriff's office. Leave this revolver, get a trace on the owner. I need to report the strange goings on at Trenton's home. I will be back in a flash."  She looked at Doc Taylor adding, "If you have to hogtie her, do it."

Before either one could say anything, Bobie Parker was gone.

Quickly making her way to the Sheriff's office, Bobie felt some of the tension leaving her body. She was sure Ben Burgess would do what was necessary to find out what was taking place at Mary Trenton's place.  Meg Bartlett looked up from a magazine she had been scanning, surprise showing on her face as she said, "Bobie!  What brings you in?  You look terrible."

Walking toward the woman Bobie muttered, "Thanks, I needed to hear this first thing. Why so shocked to see me?"

"Well, I thought you had taken some time off. I know when I take time off.  I hate to come anywhere near work."

"Sometimes a person's job is never done Meg.  Is the Sheriff around?"

She shook her head. "Nope. He came in this morning for a short time but left to make some calls. Can I help?"

Bobie took out the revolver and placed it on the desk in front of the woman. "I need a check run on this. Owner and any fingerprints beside mine that are on it."

The woman stared at the gun then looked up at Bobie. "Supposed to be in a bag. No contamination."

Her tension had returned and it was all she could do not to reach over the desk and pull the woman out of her chair. "I know but I had no bag, I had nothing. This is important, see the sheriff knows about this."

"By the way, Sheriff Burgess has not been able to find Skylar Richmond and her boss has been in town looking to take her back with him." Meg beamed as if she had some great secret.

"Oh really? Will what if Skylar Richmond doesn't want to go back?"

She shrugged. "Don't know. I only know they are looking for her."

"Where is this 'boss'?"

She had placed the gun in a bag answering, "He is staying at the hotel.  Sure can see how the two of them can be a team. The man is delicious."

Bobie heard enough of the woman's gushing as she said, "Tell Sheriff Burgess there is something going on at Mary Trenton's and it doesn't look to be legitimate. I think he might consider a search warrant, find out what is going on."

Meg sat back and stared. "I'll tell him. By the way Bobie, do you know where Skylar Richmond is?"

"Haven't seen her,"  Bobie answered as she turned and left the room.

She knew she had to get back but for some reason the urge to see what Skylar Richmond's boss or significant other looked like was too much to forget.  After leaving the office she made her way to the hotel.

Once entering Tucker Hotel, she made her way to the desk.  When Walter saw her approaching, he stepped back. "Hold up Deputy.  You have that  look in your eyes and I guarantee I have not seen your friend."

"Not looking for Skylar Richmond if that is who you are talking about. I want to see Bernie Herbella. I was told he was staying here."

He was fidgeting with a pen and finally broke it spilling its contents on the desk. "Now see what you have made me do?"

"Made you do nothing. Now are you going to tell me what room he is in or do I have to hop over the counter and get it?"

He handed her the book as she quickly scanned the pages looking for the man's name. Finding it she thanked Walter, turned and took two stairs at a time.  It wasn't long and she was standing at the door, taking a deep breath she knocked several times. She heard the whistling on the other side of the door just before it opened to reveal a tall man. Good looking didn't even begin to describe him. He was gorgeous. She had never met a man that would even stand in his shadow.

"Can I help you?"  He was holding a towel in one hand. A pair of blue sweat pants hung low on his hips. He wore no shirt, and it was a well-built chest that gazed back at her.  "Are you lost?"

Realizing what a sight she was, Bobie replied, "No. I am looking for Bernie Herbella."

He smiled. "Then you found him. What can I do for you . . .  Miss?"

"My name is Bobie Parker, Deputy Parker."

He stepped back. "Come in Deputy.  I have been trying to find you."

She walked past him and the pleasing smell of aftershave. "Looking for me?  Why?"

He shut the door then turned and said, "Sky. I understand the two of you have gotten close. I need to talk to her."

Bobie was trying to size the man up. He was not only good looking, he seemed pleasant enough. "I don't know where she is. In so far as close, sheriff has put me in charge of making sure Miss Richmond gets everything she wants while here."

He wiped his face with the towel then pointed to a chair. "Sit. I want to hear all about what you two have been doing."

She stepped to the door. "Can't stay. I have things to do. I am sure Sheriff Burgess has filled you in on everything."

"The sheriff has been very helpful. I am also sure he has informed you I am here to take Sky back.  She may not have told you but we have a relationship, a close relationship"

"You seem like a nice man Mr. Herbella. In case you haven't noticed, Skylar Richmond is a grown woman. She can make up her own mind about this."

"Sorry to hear you say this Deputy.  You are out of your league where Sky is concerned.  I will find Sky and when I do, she will go back with me. There is nothing you can do about it."

Bobie stood on her tip toes, placed a kiss on the man's chin. "We will see won't we."

She was out the door before he could answer. All the way back to Doc Taylor's office she cursed herself for going to look for the man. He was good looking maybe too. She could see how someone like Skylar could become infatuated with the man. If Sky wanted to go back, she would not stop her. It was the woman's life and she was just a stop on her way.

Stopping the Jeep, she quickly disembarked and headed for the front door of the clinic. Once inside she scanned the area for Sky.  The woman was just walking out of  Doc Taylor's office. She smiled when she saw Bobie and said, "Did you get all you went to do done?"

Nodding she approached the woman and Doc Taylor who had just stepped out of his office. "Done. What's the verdict Doc?"

The man glanced toward Sky then said, "I'll let Miss. Richmond tell you."

"Are you ready to go?" Bobie asked Sky.

The woman replied, "Ready and wanting to see nothing but dust between us and this town."

Doc Taylor raised his eyebrows a worried look crossing his face. "Do me a favor Bobie. Take it easy. I don't know how much you two can take. I am only one man, not a God. I can't produce miracles."  He reached out and took Sky's hand. "It has been a privilege to know you Miss. Richmond. All I ask is the two of you watch out for one another."

The women agreed they would and left the clinic.  Once in the jeep, Bobie turned to Sky and said, "Want to tell me what Doc was referring to back there?"


"I know better. Either you tell me or I will go back in and hassle Doc."

"All right. I have a high fever. The bite is not getting any better, worse actually. I am a mess from head to toe. There that make you feel happy."

"No. But I do thank you for telling me. Now I have something to tell you."

"Better hurry. He gave me a injection of antibiotic and something for pain. I won't make a lot of sense soon."

"Number one. Sheriff Burgess has an APB out for you.  It's not to arrest you. It is to send you back.  I have opposed his authority and said it is up to you. "

Sky frowned and asked, "I take it there is more than one. What else?"

"Number two. Bernie Herbella is here in town. He is at the hotel and he wants to take you back."

"Damn! Why can't people just let me be? You say the sheriff wants me out of town. Why? I mean it was his doings that got me here in the first place."

Bobie shook her head. "I don't know. Town is talking about us, you know."

"That is no reason to send a person packing. All I have done is look into this murder, the murders."

"I told him that. But after you were hurt, he thinks it would be better for you if you went back."

"Then he doesn't know me very well. The poacher Jim Trenton is not the only form of evil I have come across."  The woman was seething as she asked, "Bernie. How do you know about him?"

"When I went to the office and left the gun. Meg Bartlett told me he was here."

"Gods. What is he doing here?"

Taking a deep breath, Bobie gazed into Sky's eyes. "You may hate me but I went to see him."

"Well at this minute I am not too happy. Might as well give me the big punch. Did you make some sort of deal with him? Bernie can be charming."

Shaking her head, Bobie replied, "No. I told him you are a grown woman and can make up your own mind."

Sky heaved a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness. I am so glad he did not twist you around his finger."

"Didn't give him the chance.  He told me something and you can answer this if you want."

"What's that?"

"He said the two of you have a close relationship, and that he was here to take you back. The man seemed to feel the two of you were one."

Sky laughed. "Bernie feels a lot of things.  Nothing close about us. Our relationship is purely business. So it seems he wanted to see if you had any feelings for me. The man was just goading you.  Don't get me wrong, I have known for a long time he has feelings for me. But those feelings have never been reciprocated."

"You don't want to go see him?"

Sky leaned back. She lay her head on the rest. "I want to get home. Get out of these clothes, relax and get some rest. Do you think you can handle that Deputy Parker?"

Bobie smiled. "Yup, can handle this well. Close your eyes. I'll have us home in no time."

The drive to her cabin near Willow Lake took longer than she thought. There was more traffic on the road and because of the recent rains, several detours. Skylar had drifted too sleep.  Bobie had to fight to stay awake. She was tired and for some reason  her body had not regained the strength and fortitude she was used too.

When she could see the lake coming into view, Bobie smiled for she knew the cabin was getting close. Home. Seems they had been away forever. It was then she realized the prescriptions for Sky were still in her pocket. Oh well, another trip to town, but another day, she thought.

 Pulling up to the cabin, Bobie turned to look at Sky. The woman was sleeping peacefully. She hated to wake her and waited a few minutes before gently reaching out and stroking her face. "Sky. We are here," she whispered.

Sky mumbled something and tried to reposition herself. It was then, Bobie leaned close, and once more whispered, "Sky wake up."

Sky opened her eyes and gazed into Bobie's. "Did you say something?"

"Said we are home."

Sitting up, Sky looked around. "Never been happier to see a place. Give me a chance to examine the specimen."

"Hold up there woman. I  think a good rest is called for first. Checking the specimen can come later."

"You're right. Can't wait to get into bed."  Sky smiled, as she opened the door.

Bobie practically fell out her side as she rushed to open the door for the woman. Sky seemed amazed at the speed of the woman. "Thank you kindly Deputy. I hope you will also tuck me in."

Bobie smiled as Sky walked past her and said,  "I look forward to some rest also Skylar."

The two walked up to the front door. Bobie reached out to put her key in the lock at this time the door came open.  Both were surprised but not half as surprised as when they gazed at the destruction that was facing them.


Continued in chapter twenty two

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