The Maverick

By: Diana Palmer



As she watched, Garon Grier and Jon Blackhawk of the San Antonio district FBI office climbed out of the BuCar—the FBI’s term for a bureau car—and walked over the tape to join Alice.

“What have you found?” Grier asked.

She pursed her lips, glancing from the assistant director of the regional FBI office, Grier, to Special Agent Jon Blackhawk. What a contrast! Grier was blond and Blackhawk had long, jet-black hair tied in a ponytail. They were both tall and well-built without being flashy about it. Garon Grier, like his brother Cash, was married. Jon Blackhawk was unattached and available. Alice wished she was his type. He was every bit as good-looking as his half brother Kilraven.

“I found some bits and pieces of evidence, with the deputy’s help. Your brother,” she told Jon, “found this.” She held up the piece of paper in an evidence bag. “Don’t touch,” she cautioned as both men peered in. “I’m not unfolding it until I can get it into my lab. I won’t risk losing any trace evidence out here.”

Blackhawk pulled out a pad and started taking notes. “Where was it?” he asked.

“Gripped in the dead man’s fingers, out of sight. Why are you here?” she asked. “This is a local matter.”

Blackhawk was cautious. “Not entirely,” he said.

Kilraven joined them. He and Blackhawk exchanged uneasy glances.

“Okay. Something’s going on that I can’t be told about. It’s okay.” She held up a hand. “I’m used to being a mushroom. Kept in the dark and fed with…”

“Never mind,” Garon told her. He softened it with a smile. “We’ve had a tip. Nothing substantial. Just something that interests us about this case.”

“And you can’t tell me what the tip was?”

“We found a car in the river, farther down,” Cash said quietly. “San Antonio plates.”

“Maybe his?” Alice indicated the body.

“Maybe. We’re running the plates now,” Cash said.

“So, do you think he came down here on his own, or did somebody bring him in a trunk?” Alice mused.

The men chuckled. “You’re good, Alice,” Garon murmured.

“Of course I am!” she agreed. “Could you,” she called to the female deputy, “get me some plaster of Paris out of my van, in the back? This may be a footprint where we found the piece of paper! Thanks.”

She went back to work with a vengeance while two sets of brothers looked on with intent interest.





Two


Alice fell into her bed at the local Jacobsville motel after a satisfying soak in the luxurious whirlpool bathtub. Amazing, she thought, to find such a high-ticket item in a motel in a small Texas town. She was told that film crews from Hollywood frequently chose Jacobs County as a location and that the owner of the motel wanted to keep them happy. It was certainly great news for Alice.

She’d never been so tired. The crime scene, they found, extended for a quarter of a mile down the river. The victim had fought for his life. There were scuff marks and blood trails all over the place. So much for her theory that he’d traveled to Jacobsville in the trunk of the car they’d found.

The question was, why had somebody brought a man down to Jacobsville to kill him? It made no sense.

She closed her eyes, trying to put herself in the shoes of the murderer. People usually killed for a handful of reasons. They killed deliberately out of jealousy, anger or greed. Sometimes they killed accidentally. Often, it was an impulse that led to a death, or a series of acts that pushed a person over the edge. All too often, it was drugs or alcohol that robbed someone of impulse control, and that led inexorably to murder.

Few people went into an argument or a fight intending to kill someone. But it wasn’t as if you could take it back even seconds after a human life expired. There were thousands of young people in prison who would have given anything to relive a single incident where they’d made a bad choice. Families suffered for those choices, along with their children. So often, it was easy to overlook the fact that even murderers had families, often decent, law-abiding families that agonized over what their loved one had done and paid the price along with them.

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