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Tatum took a deep drag from her cigarette and released the smoke in a long sigh. “Me, neither. Having a dead guy by my camping spot sort of takes the fun out of it. Know what I mean?”
Shelley leaned against the side of her car, her back to them. An idea swam in the murky depths of unrecognized knowledge, below her awareness. It kept her on edge, tension building, drawing the muscles of her shoulders tighter. When she became conscious of its presence, she still didn’t know what the thought contained. She looked across the water of the bay, where a sail boat tacked against the breeze, probably headed home.
The sun moved below the distant horizon and night fell, the darkness slipping across the water toward them, faint gleams and glows resting for brief moments upon the expanse of the bay, then disappearing when the wind scuffed the smooth surface. The darkness below the water’s glassy veneer appeared bottomless. Shelley shuddered, and in that moment, the thought broke through into her consciousness.
That shirt on the body. Hadn’t she seen one like it before? She’d only gotten a brief look, but now, it seemed as though she’d seen it before. No. That couldn’t be. It only felt that way because the vision of the body lying behind the brush kept traveling through her thoughts, she kept seeing that awful sight. Yes. That had to be it. It wasn’t—couldn’t be—familiar. And yet….
She glanced over her shoulder at the van. The Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Van. Crime. The word echoed through her mind. A chill of awareness rose up within her thoughts. Yes. She had seen a shirt like that one. Farrell Gilbert often wore one like it.
Shelley’s breaths came in rapid succession. Should she tell the deputy she knew someone who wore a shirt that looked like that one? No. How could she explain it? And if—she pushed the thought away but it returned—if it was Farrell’s shirt…she almost gasped as a cold wave of dread washed over her. She turned slightly toward the van. She looked at the sheriff’s insignia on the side, and the words, “Crime Scene.” She swallowed hard. No. It couldn’t be true. Farrell had not been a crime victim.
But he’d disappeared. She argued with herself, gradually losing the debate. It was too horrible to contemplate that someone she knew, someone she worked with, may have fallen victim to crime. But there it was, floating in her thoughts like a dead fish in an aquarium, foul and repulsive. She shook her head. The shirt…Farrell’s disappearance…nothing but a coincidence. She crossed her arms, lowered her chin to her chest. A coincidence. It had to be.
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…And Night Falls by Tommie Lyn is available in Paperback and Kindle Edition.