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Buried Deception (On the Edge) by Amanda McKinney

Buried Deception (On the Edge) by Amanda McKinney

Author:Amanda McKinney [McKinney, Amanda]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Montlake
Published: 2022-09-19T16:00:00+00:00


Chapter Twenty-One

Mia

Easton crouched down, studying the dirt. “See, here?”

With his finger, he outlined the almost invisible print but didn’t touch it.

“This is the corner of the heel, a boot, and you can see the tip of the toe here. And a bit of the tread here, but not quite enough to gauge the type of boot . . .” His voice trailed off before he continued, as if talking to himself now, working out the details in his head. “But I’d say the shoe size is about a nine.”

“A woman?”

“Maybe.”

“Cullen is kind of a short guy. Do you think it could be his? I think that’s close to the shoe size he would wear.”

“Yes, it’s his shoe size.”

“How do you know?”

“Assumption, based on the height from his most recent driver’s license photo that I had McNamara send me before we left.” Easton stood. “Stay there. Don’t move.”

After marking the print with a small yellow flag, he then carefully stepped away and began scanning the forest floor from left to right. He paused, taking note of something else.

“What is it? What do you see?”

Carefully, he stepped through the brush and knelt down, becoming almost invisible in the tall grass. “Someone was here too.”

“Someone else?”

“Not sure. Do you know if Cullen dips?”

“Dips what?”

“Tobacco.”

“No.”

“No, you don’t know, or no, he doesn’t?”

“No, he doesn’t. I’m sure of it. We discuss things like that, physical addictions, extensively in my sessions. He drinks; that’s it. Can I come over?”

“No, stay there. Hang on.”

Easton stood, pulled a small plastic bag out of his backpack, then knelt again. After a minute, he stood and made his way back to me.

“Did you just bag up the tobacco?”

“Come on.”

“Why?”

“Why what?” Easton breezed past me.

“Why did you take the dip?”

“This way.” He reached back, his palm open, and my hand slid into his. It felt more intimate than it should have, considering we were tracking a missing person. Carefully, he guided me around the track. “Stay right behind me, close.”

“What’s the significance of the dip? It’s so annoying when you don’t answer my questions.”

“It’s significant because it indicates someone was with or close to Cullen Nichols before he was reported missing. Assuming the footprint is his.”

“What are you going to do with it?”

“Not sure yet. For now, focus on these tracks.”

He held on to my hand, leading me through the brush, following a trail that I couldn’t see. The trees closed in around us, blocking the waning light. I didn’t care, though. I was preoccupied by the feel of my hand in his and why he wasn’t dropping it . . . and how much I didn’t want him to.

“So is this how you track?” I asked quietly at his back, not wanting to break his intense concentration.

“Technically, yes. The easy way. Finding a print is like hitting gold for a tracker.” He paused, then knelt in front of another print that I didn’t see. “Yes—the tracks belong to a man.”

I swatted at a bug zipping around my face, then bent forward, putting my hands on my knees as I studied the overturned earth.



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