Here’s an excerpt from “Return to Dead Horse Canyon: Grandfather Spirits,” the sequel to “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits.”
June 24, Sunday
When they arrived in Denver, Sara led the way to the Starbucks on East Colfax, a few doors down from the credit union where Bryan used to work. It felt right, as if the place that brewed his morning coffee would be where he’d do the deed himself.
They pulled into the parking lot, then filed inside, welcomed by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Sara did her best to act casual, though adrenaline pulsed through her as if her foe were already in pursuit.
They ordered. She removed her debit card from the zipper compartment in her purse. Will grasped her wrist and shook his head.
She frowned, confused. “It’s okay, Dad. I’ve got it.”
“No, Sara. I’ve got cash.”
Oh. . .
Beverages in hand, they looked around for a place to sit. “Should we go outside?” Connie suggested. “No one else is out there.”
While Sara debated, Will noted, “It’s awful sunny. Lots of glare.”
“True,” Sara agreed, pointing to a table near the window in back. After opening her laptop she laughed, afternoon sunshine from the south-facing window obscuring the screen. She and Connie switched places.
She connected to WiFi. As Firefox loaded Will’s expression reeked one final statement of disapproval. They held hands a moment, said a silent prayer. When she opened her eyes, it felt as if the coffee shop’s new-age logo was leering at her from the opposing wall.
Her hands shook as she typed in the WikiLeaks URL. The page loaded. The link for submissions beckoned. She entered the necessary information, then selected the huge file from the hard drive. She paused a single heartbeat, then held her breath and clicked send.
Even as a zip file it took a few minutes to upload. She gnawed her lip, eyes locked on the progress bar. Submission accepted popped up on the screen.
After sharing a collective sigh, they raised their drinks in a solemn toast. Paper cups touched amid expressions saturated with unknowns.
As Sara drained her Cappuccino she noticed a thirty-something man with brown curly hair and a neatly trimmed beard watching from a single’s table near the front.
He looked vaguely familiar.
Someone from Bryan’s work perhaps?
“I think we’re being watched,” she whispered.
“Was he here when we arrived?” Will asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“You need to start paying attention to things like that, Sara. Let’s go and see if anyone follows us.”
“Why would he? There’s not much he can do about it now.”
“You’d be surprised.”
As they pushed open the door and exited Connie said in a low voice, “Why don’t I drive the Benz and you go with Sara?”
“Good plan. I’ll help her go through the condo for any new listening devices. Meet us there. And keep a close eye on the rearview mirror.”
* * *
Even before he recognized the dark-haired woman at the back table, NSA IT specialist Jason LaGrange’s spidey sense told him that trio was up to no good.
In spite of the afternoon glare from the window beside her, when she’d glanced in his direction he remembered.
That picture. The one in Reynolds’s personal belongings. In the box he picked up at the credit union.
That was her.
Apparently oblivious to his scrutiny, he casually picked up his phone, zoomed in, and snapped a surreptitious photo while they got settled at the table.
She opened a laptop.
What the hell were they doing holding hands? Praying?
Already into the establishment’s Wi-Fi, a few keystrokes networked her computer to his own.
She typed a URL.
Or tried to, correcting a few typos before getting it right.
His eyes widened.
This was exactly what that Cracker Jack ops team was supposed to prevent.
He hit Cancel too late to stop the file transfer, but snagged a copy, its size identical to the one on the thumb-drive recovered from Reynolds’s place of employment.
He ground his teeth.
That incompetent bunch of wannabes had done nothing but screw up since Day One.
He texted Keller.
Heads-up. Target female just uploaded huge file to WikiLeaks.
The response was instantaneous.
WTF? Last report showed no movement or audio activity for several hours.
LaGrange attached the photo.
Then explain this.