His phone vibrated with an alert from the camera he’d posted at the country ranch. As he glanced at the screen, he wasn’t sure what he expected. A random coyote. A sagebrush’s prickly arms reaching up toward a moonlit sky.

He sure had not expected to see a woman walking toward the stones in the dark. She knelt, ran her hand over the rock, and then looked to the other two as if she’d recognized them for what they were.

He stared at her face for a long moment. Then did a double take in the direction of the car that had just carried Faith away. The woman at the ranch looked exactly like Faith. Jack had been so mutinously silent during their chat, and now he knew why. There’d not been one baby on that night in 1988, but two. Twins.

When the phone vibrated with a text, he cursed until he saw the number.

He perched a cigarette on his lips and flicked the flint wheel of a gold-plated lighter until a flame appeared. He inhaled deeply, savoring the burn as the smoke flowed out of his nose and mouth.

Are we on track with our project?

He stared at the glowing tip of his cigarette and then typed. All is going according to plan.

Have you found it?

He hesitated. Not yet. But I will.

Watching the woman walk back to the truck that he knew belonged to Jack Crow, he could feel the skin on the back of his neck prickle the way it did when there was a problem. Who the hell was she? And then it hit him. She was Jack’s kid. Macy Crow. She was the little kid in all the photos he’d smashed. When she had looked up at the camera, her gaze had been defiant and annoyed.

You need to wrap this up, his employer typed.

So you’ve told me. He was a professional and didn’t need coaching.

All this needs to go away quietly and quickly.

The tone of the text reminded him that no matter how far he’d climbed, there would always be someone adding their two cents. Very annoying, and he had his limits. I’m on it.

Macy had been to the ranch, no doubt tipped off by Crow. If she was curious enough to go to the ranch at night alone, she was tenacious like her old man. He admired her grit.

Where would he send Macy next, if he were Crow?

When the answer came, he almost laughed.

Copyright © Mary Burton 2018