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Macy gathered her belongings and, thanks to too much coffee, excused herself to the restroom before she reappeared to find Nevada waiting by the front door. She nodded to Deputy Sullivan on the way out and followed Nevada to his older black SUV.

She set her backpack on the back seat, dug out her yellow legal pad and a pen, and then slid into the passenger seat. The interior of the car was neat, and his supplies were carefully stored in bins in the back. Unlike in her vehicle, there were no stray french fries or candy bar wrappers on the floor.

Behind the wheel, Nevada slid on sunglasses and started the engine. A glance in his rearview mirror, and he began to back out. He reached for the radio, turning on a country western station. She played music constantly, but her choices tended toward loud, rude rock music.

He turned right and then made a quick left onto the interstate. “The Oswald house exit is ten miles north.”

“Did you get back to Deep Run often when you were with the bureau?” she asked.

“I visited when I could, but you know how the job is. I was lucky to get a break once a year.”

“Sounds familiar,” she said.

“Did you get to see your folks much?”

“After my mother passed, I never returned to Alexandria until the bureau sent me back. Visits to see Pop in Texas were rare.”

“I remember your father calling you in Kansas City.”

“He called more that last year than he ever had. Must have known the end was close.”

“And he never told you about your birth mother?” Nevada asked.

“Only in a message from the grave.”

“Why not?”

“My birth father, the monster, was still alive. I think Pop was afraid for me. The man who raped my birth mother had money and power.”

“Your father thought this man would retaliate against you?”

“I suppose so.”

“He was trying to protect you,” Nevada said.

“In his way, yes.”

Once they were a couple of miles north of Deep Run, the interstate skimmed through open farmland dotted with billboards. “Do you still have your place in DC?” Macy asked.

“I do,” Nevada said. “But I’ve spent less than a handful of nights in the DC place during the last three years.”

They passed a rolling pasture with a herd of cows grazing beside a red barn. Macy had lived in slower-paced communities during her career, but preferred the larger cities so full of much-needed distractions. “And you really like it here?”

“It’s growing on me.” He shrugged. “I’ve been sleeping in the same bed for the past five months straight and recognizing everyone I pass on the street.”

“And here I am busting my ass to get back in the fray.”

“Be careful what you wish for.”

“Don’t be too quick to judge. I’m still not convinced you’ll stay here in Mayberry after this case is solved. You were one of the best.”

“I could have worked Ellis’s case without leaving the bureau. I left for several reasons. Like an old FBI agent once told me, you got to know when to fold.”

She dropped her head back against the headrest. “Jesus, Nevada, now you’re quoting country western songs.”

He laughed. “I didn’t die, Macy. I’ve shifted gears.”

“To what, reverse?”

“To a path that doesn’t always lead into darkness.”

As they approached the upcoming exit, he slowed and took the westward route along a four-lane road that quickly narrowed to two. They passed more fields dotted with farmhouses, cows, and lots of nothingness. It was too damn far from civilization.

Nevada and Macy had been running in opposite directions since they had met.

©2019 Mary Burton

©2019 Mary Burton