Home > Seek(2)

Author: Mia Sheridan

"No cloak and dagger. But in my line of business, you can never be too careful, you understand?" He threw back another handful of nuts.

"Then you should consider not eating those. Do you know how many dirty hands have probably been in there?" I wrinkled my nose, nodding to the bowl of peanuts.

He chewed, swallowed. "Ms. Barton, If I'm going to lead you into a ruined, dangerous part of Colombia, you'd better hope I'm not worried about a few germs on peanuts." He took another long drink of his beer before looking at me again. His eyes didn't appear to move, but I had the strange feeling he took me in from head to toe nonetheless. My skin tingled as if responding to the places his gaze had touched.

I frowned, unsettled by this stranger. "Anyway"—I cleared my throat—"you mentioned on the phone we'd talk in person. What do you need to know?"

He paused the barest fraction of a moment. "Your fiancé give you any indication he was thinking of skipping out on you?"

"What? No. Like what?"

He turned his head, staring ahead again as he shrugged. "You'd be the one with the feminine intuition. Any intuition things were heading south?"

Heading south. Literally. To Colombia as a matter of fact. I almost laughed because of the nerves bubbling in my blood. I took a deep breath and shook my head though he wasn't looking at me. "No. Things seemed fine. Good. Everything was normal. We had been discussing wedding plans the morning he left . . ." I trailed off, remembering that Monday two months before, picturing Alec shaving as I'd leaned against the sink and asked him if he liked peonies. "Darlin'," he'd said, "if I knew what a peony was, I'd give you my opinion on them." I'd laughed, and he had shot me a boyish grin, white foam still dotting his jaw. My heart stuttered at the memory. That morning now seemed like a distant dream, one you swore was real but woke from to find was nothing more than the sleepy meanderings of your own mind.

"Where did he tell you he was going?"

"Miami. He had business meetings there. He was only supposed to be gone a week, and when he didn't return on Sunday night, I started calling his cell phone. When he still hadn't called me back by Tuesday morning, I called the police." My heart felt heavy as I recalled those days—the panic I'd felt when I realized he was missing, the places my mind had gone . . . picturing him in ditches, lying dead in some alley.

"How many times did you talk to him during that week?"

"None." I shook my head. I knew he'd consider it unusual that I hadn't talked to my fiancé the entire week he'd been gone. "We rarely spoke when he went away on business trips. His work was his focus, with early mornings and late nights. He texted me when he arrived, letting me know he'd gotten there safely, and I didn't talk to him after that."

The man paused for a moment, but I didn't fill the silence with an explanation. That wasn't any of his business. Frankly, I'd always liked the times when Alec had been busy with his job and we'd have a small break from each other. I loved the anticipation of seeing him after he'd been away as it spiced things up when he returned.

"Did you call any of his coworkers to find out if he was really there?"

"No. Alec is an independent contractor. I didn't ask the name of the people he was meeting with. Something about . . . software design . . . that's all I knew. The police told me he didn’t check in to the hotel he was supposed to be staying at. As far as they’re concerned, he was never in Miami at all. When the police came to a dead end, I hired a private investigator."

"Who tracked him to Colombia."


"Any idea why he might have gone there without telling you?"

"No." I frowned. I wasn't sure that this man, who I'd hired to help me get to Colombia—to Alec—needed to know all the details I'd garnered from the PI or not. All he really needed to know was where I was going. Then again, I figured he probably knew most of what I was telling him and was simply asking me to verify.

When the PI I'd hired had tracked Alec to an oceanside town in Colombia that had recently been ravaged by an earthquake, followed closely on the heels by a massive tsunami, I'd asked him to help me find someone to take me there. He'd initially told me he didn't know anyone who took on that sort of job, but that he'd put the word out. I hadn't been overly hopeful, but then I'd received a phone call from this man telling me to meet him at this dimly lit bar in a questionable neighborhood.

"You sure he wants to be found?"

My chest tightened, and I picked at the label on the beer bottle next to my glass. "No," I admitted, on a whisper. That was the crux of this risk. No, he might not want to be found. He might be exactly where he wanted to be. But I just . . . I just couldn't believe it. Maybe it was only wishful thinking, maybe I was a complete fool, but what if . . . what if he wanted to get back to me, but couldn't? What if he was injured? What if he thought— I shook my head, forcing myself to stop the aimless questions bouncing around in my head. The same questions that had kept me from a full night's sleep for almost two months now. There was only one way to find the answers, and that's what I needed to do.

"Anyway, I appreciate your willingness to take this job." I paused. "I can manage it alone if I have to . . . I think . . . but with the damage from the earthquake making travel difficult and being unfamiliar with the area, not knowing the language very well . . . all those things would really slow me down, and I can't afford that."

The man turned back to me, quiet for a moment. "Truth is, I normally wouldn't take your job, but so happens I've got business in the area where you're wanting to go. I'm fluent in Spanish. And money's money. But we'll have to go over some rules before we leave."


"Yeah, rules. We'll be heading into an area ripe with crime. With the earthquake and tsunami having caused so much devastation, and taking down outside communication, it'll be even more dangerous. When the lights go out, that's when cockroaches appear."

"Cockroaches? Oh. Well, you're the expert. That's why I need you . . . am hiring you, so whatever you say goes. As long as you get me to Palomino, that's all I care about."

"And if things don't turn out the way you're hoping they will?"

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