Tiel's mind was already racing ahead, filling in the blanks. "So this isn't a kidnaping. It's a contemporary Romeo and Juliet."
"I didn't say that."
"But . . . ?"
"But that'd be my first guess. A view shared by Sabra Dendy's best friend and confidante. She claims Ronnie Davison is crazy about Sabra and wouldn't harm a hair on her head. Said Russell Dendy has been fighting this romance for more than a year. Nobody's good enough for his daughter, they're too young to know their own minds, college is a must, and so forth. You get the picture."
And what was wrong with the picture was that Tiel McCoy wasn't in it and Linda Harper was. Damn! Of all times to go on vacation.
"I'm coming back tonight, Gully."
"I think you sent me on this wild goose chase so it would be impossible for me to return."
"How far am I from El Paso?"
"El Paso? Who said anything about El Paso?"
"Or San Antonio. Whichever is closer. I could drive there tonight and hop a Southwest flight in the morning. Do you have their schedule handy? What time does the first flight depart for Dallas?"
"Listen to me, Tiel. We've got it covered. Bob's working the manhuntlaw enforcement angle. Linda's on the kids' friends, teachers, and families. Steve's practically moved into the Dendys' mansion, so he'll be there if a ransom call comes in, which I don't expect. And, bottom line, those kids'll probably turn up before you could get back to Dallas anyway."
"So what am I doing out here in the middle of freaking nowhere?"
The old man shot her a curious glance over his shoulder.
"Listen," Gully hissed. "The friend? Sabra mentioned to her a few weeks back that she and Ronnie might just hightail it to Mexico."
Mollified because she was closer to the Mexican border than she was to Dallas, Tiel asked, "Where in Mexico?"
"She didn't know. Or wouldn't say. Linda had to twist her arm to get that much from her. She didn't want to betray Sabra's confidence. But the one thing she did say is that Ronnie's dadhis real dad; his mom's remarriedis sympathetic to their predicament. A while back he offered his help if they ever needed it. Now, you're gonna feel really bad about yelling at me when I tell you where he hangs his hat."
She should have apologized, but she didn't. Gully understood. "Who else knows about this?"
"Nobody. But they will. It works to our advantage that Hera is a one-horse town, not on any beaten path."
"Tell me about it," she muttered.
"When word gets out, it'll take everybody a while to get there, even by helicopter. You've got a definite head start."
"Gully, I love you!" she said excitedly. "Direct me out of here."
The elderly lady emerged from the ladies' room and rejoined her husband. She admonished him for fiddling with the camcorder and ordered him to put it back in the tote bag before he broke it.
"Like you're an expert with video cameras," the old man retorted.
"I took the time to read the instruction book. You didn't."
Tiel poked her finger in her ear so she could hear Gully better. "What's the dad's name? Davison, I presume."
"I've got an address and phone number."
Tiel wrote down the information as fast as he reeled it off. "Do I have an appointment with him?"
"Working on it. He might not agree to go on camera."
"I'll get him to agree," she said confidently.
"I'm dispatching a chopper with a photographer."
"Kip if he's available."
"Y'all can meet in Hera. You'll do the interview tomorrow as soon as it's arranged with Davison. Then you can continue on your merry way."
Copyright © 2000 by Sandra Brown
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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