He peered through his binoculars at the tops of evergreens below. This region of the national forest had seen more than its fair share of incidents—including the small plane crash only yesterday. Fortunately, the pilot had survived.
Through the treetops, Jack could make out the Grayback River in the distance, carving its way between mountains, through canyons and meadows, all the way to Yellowstone National Park, located seventy miles south in the northwest corner of Wyoming.
As he looked through the binoculars, he hoped he wouldn't find anything, but, of course, there may be something—or someone—to find. If there was someone to find, he prayed they were alive. He released his pent-up breath. "I don't see anything."
Except birds circling above. Never a good sign, but scavengers could circle for a number of reasons.
Adjusting his binoculars, he shifted to peer at the bottom of the ridge. Wait. Maybe. Oh no. "Yeah, I think I see something." Jack cleared his throat. "Someone."
Next to him, Kylie remained silent while George panted.
Jack's gut dropped with the falling sensation experienced on an amusement ride. Or...falling from a cliff.
"What are you going to do?"
Kylie blew out a breath. "That's a big drop, Jack."
"I've got enough gear to rappel. Trust me, it's the one thing I'm good at."
"I'm sure that's not true, or you wouldn't be a detective with the county."
Jack couldn't think of a decent response.
Kylie crouched next to the Lab and gave him a treat. She rewarded him for finding someone, though that someone was likely dead.
After eight hours of searching the mountainous wilderness, the team of volunteers and various state and local agencies had become discouraged. Some worked well together and others not so much. Probably a good thing he hadn't had to work with Terra Connors.
He'd learned that she'd returned to the area and was working as a special agent for the forest service. He figured since she worked out of the forest service district office in Goode's Pass, and he worked out of the county seat of Big Rapids, he wouldn't run into her in his county detective job. Though she'd joined the SAR callout, he hadn't seen her yet.
Maybe his luck would hold out.
He shook off those thoughts. None of it mattered.
He had a job to do here, and though he wouldn't jump to conclusions, a knot twisted in his stomach. The search and rescue looked to be quickly shifting to a search and recovery.
With a heavy heart, he said, "We need to let the command center know we think we've found at least one body."
He reached for his radio as it squawked. "Tanner, go."
"We got 'em. We found the sisters alive and well. They got lost and were huddled together in a cave. Scared, but they kept their heads about them." Deputy Sarnes's smile could be heard through the radio.
Thank you, God.
Relief whooshed from the deepest part of Jack even as images from the past continued to torment him. He would concentrate on the here and now. He couldn't go back. He could only go forward.
He let the deputy's words hang in the air a few moments as he shared a look with Kylie, sure the woman had to be thinking the same thing.
"If they found the twins...," she said.
His thought exactly.
Then whose body is down there?