The Body Finder (The Body Finder 1) - Page 49

She waited for anything unusual to happen, noting that he moved slowly, if at all, but never actually left his spot.

It was as if he were standing guard.

And then it hit her. And she saw it so clearly then that she couldn’t believe she’d missed it before.

One of the colors, a sparkling, radiant green that he wore like an aura, shining through even the oily sheen that painted him, was also coming up from the ground at his feet. It shimmered brilliantly, hovering over the sediment on which he stood. Coming from the spot he was guarding.

There was a girl down there.

That was why he was here among the searchers, camouflaged like a chameleon in plain sight. To make sure that the girl in the ground was never unearthed.

Violet stumbled backward, nearly tripping over her own feet in an effort to escape him. She covered her mouth with her hand, stifling her own terrified yelp as she caught herself before she fell, and then froze, praying that he hadn’t noticed the sound of her clumsy feet crushing the twigs beneath her. Suddenly everything she did seemed too loud to her…each carefully plotted step she took echoed loudly off the trees, each labored breath she took was like an explosion. She tiptoed away, but even that seemed too obvious, and she told herself that she needed to act normal…to behave as though nothing had happened, and to sneak away unnoticed.

He never even looked up from his position.

Once she was far enough away from him, she looked around for help. It would have been too much to even hope to see her father or her uncle standing nearby. She wished she had her cell phone. She wished she had her pepper spray with her…and she cursed herself for leaving both of them back in her car.

She stumbled recklessly, no longer following the echo of a lost soul, but evading a killer. She was afraid now. Afraid as she had never been before, and she looked around for someone—anyone—that might be able to help her.

A woman in a vest appeared from around a thick cluster of dormant blackberry bushes, and Violet practically fell on top of her, not realizing how panicked she was.

“Where’s your team leader?” Violet asked hoarsely, grabbing the surprised woman by the sleeve. “I need to find someone with a walkie-talkie.”

The woman looked shocked by Violet’s unexpected ambush, but she didn’t hesitate. “He’s…over there,” she said, pointing. “On the other side of those trees.” But Violet was already gone, rushing off in the direction the woman had pointed.

She knew she looked wild. She felt wild. But she had just found the killer. She had just stood, practically within arm’s reach, of the man who had murdered God only knew how many girls.

And she had just detected another body. Maybe Mackenzie Sherwin’s.

She saw the man ahead of her, with a map in his hand, and she knew he was a team leader. She couldn’t see his walkie-talkie, but she was certain that he had one. Another man stood beside him, and they were talking when Violet exploded on them.

“You have a walkie-talkie?” she asked, sounding breathless even to herself.

The stern-faced man looked at her, taking note of the volunteer vest she wore before answering her. “You’re not on my team.”

“I need you to call for help. I need you to ask for Stephen Ambrose.”

The man placed his hand over his pocket protectively. Violet was sure that was where his walkie-talkie was stashed. “Where’s your team, young lady?” he asked with authority.

Violet was suddenly angry, her fear eclipsed by something more potent as she lost her patience. “I need you to tell someone to send Chief Ambrose out here. Tell him Violet needs him!” she demanded. She couldn’t believe this guy was giving her a hard time about teams—they were all out here for the same reason: to find Mackenzie.

A look of irritation flashed across his face as he slowly—hesitantly—removed the walkie-talkie from his pocket. He eyed her suspiciously, gauging whether he should be following the orders of a hysterical kid demanding to see the police chief.

“Now!” she screamed at him when he took too long. And then she fell to her knees. She looked up at him, pleading now. “Please!” she begged the man. “Please… call my uncle and tell him I need him.”

Something, either in her actions or her words, must have gotten through to him, because he was suddenly on the walkie-talkie, telling whoever was on the other end that he needed to get in touch with Chief Ambrose, and that it was an emergency. When he was finally patched through, it wasn’t her uncle on the other end but one of her uncle’s police officers who was acting as an intermediary for the chief on this chaotic day.

The team leader in front of her repeated what she’d told him, only pausing to ask her to state her name again, to make sure he’d gotten it right. The man was asked where he was and he repeated his coordinates twice. The officer on the other end told the team leader to wait a moment, and there was an extended silence that ensued.

Violet shivered there, staying where she was on the ground, unable to find the strength to get back up again. She thought that she should feel uncomfortable, huddled at this man’s feet, while they waited for word from the other end. But she was too tired, and too afraid, to care what any of them thought of her.

Finally there was a crackling sound from the walkie-talkie that filled the silent space, and Violet heard the words she’d been waiting for.

Chief Ambrose was on his way.

Violet leaned forward, putting her face in her hands, and started to cry tears of relief.

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