Rimshot’s Hard Target
Copyright © 2015 Siobhan Muir
All rights reserved
Jaime nodded and pulled out a notebook from her purse. Stanton tilted his head and a little smile curled his lips. That’s not sexy. Down, girl!
“No Blackberry or tablet?”
“In this age of computer hackers and autocorrect, I prefer to write things down. Not only is it harder to copy, but I remember things better when I’ve written them myself. So.” She set her purse on the empty chair beside her and raised her gaze to him expectantly. “Why don’t you start at the beginning of who, when, where, why, what, and how, and we’ll go from there.”
Stanton leaned forward with his elbows on the table, a sigh deflating his chest. And what a marvelous chest it is. The corners of his mouth turned down, just for a second. Guilt? Interesting.
“Fifteen months ago in September, my younger sister went missing while out riding on our father’s estate.”
Their father’s, but not theirs.
“What’s your sister’s name and how old is she?”
“Bethany Stanton and she would’ve turned thirty-one this March.”
Jaime nodded. Would’ve. He’s already written her off. “You said she was riding. Horse? Quad? Motorcycle? Bike?”
“Horse. Champion Quarter horse stallion. Her pride and joy.”
And not cheap.
“We recovered the horse, but there was no sign of Bethany, nor of any struggle suggesting someone kidnapped her.” His voice hardened as anger seeped in. “After three days, our father brought in Army Special Forces to find her.” Disgust radiated from his wrinkled nose and the corners of his mouth pulled down.
Jaime raised her eyebrows. “Army special forces? Not the FBI?”
Stanton sat back in his chair and licked the inside of his lower lip as he chose his words. She wondered how much of this was actually classified and could get her killed from just knowing. Come on, Hensen, this isn’t a spy flick.
“My father is former senator William Stanton of Kentucky and is on several committees dealing with the security and protection of this country. He had many groups for use at his disposal.” The chief shrugged. “He called in a unit called…” She swore he almost rolled his eyes. “SNAIFU.”
Jaime blinked. “Snay-fu?”
“Supernatural Anomalies Investigative Field Unit.”
She swallowed a laugh. “That’s, uh, quite a mouthful.” She wrote it down along with its acronym. “This unit really exists? It’s not just something you’re making up to get a date with me?”
Stanton cracked a half smile that curled Jaime’s toes. “While I did want to see you again, Ms. Hensen, I’m not makin’ this up. You won’t find SNAIFU in the usual ways, but I know it’s a real unit. The public has been kept in the dark about it because of their missions.”
Jaime couldn’t hold back her laugh. “Come on. Vampires, werewolves, little green men, Area 51. Are you saying it’s all real?”
“No, I’m sayin’ there’s a unit specifically charged with investigatin’ supernatural anomalies, and they were the ones sent in to find my sister.”
She shrugged. “Okay. And they’ve had no luck?”
“No. Worse, two members of the squad sent went missin’ as well.”
Jaime raised an eyebrow. “How do you know this? Were you there?”
Stanton shook his head. “No, I’ve been here in Coronado with my squad. At the time of Bethany’s disappearance I was on a mission. But I still have friends in the grounds keepers and the stables of the estate and they told me what happened.”
Jaime wrote notes. “Do you have any names of the soldiers who went missing? Or of their commanding officer? Maybe I can get some other information about Bethany from them.”
Stanton frowned. “Here’s the thing. The commanding officer was one of the ones gone missin’. I think his name was McMacken. That’s what the stablehand said. One of the missin’ did come back. A woman named Bryant, but she was whisked away pretty damn quick for debriefin’. I don’t know any of the other names.”
“What were they there to do other than find your sister?” When the Chief raised his eyebrows, she shrugged. “There had to be something going on because what was so supernatural about one young woman going missing? Obviously there was some reason to bring in the SNAIFU.”
Stanton lapsed into an intense, thoughtful silence, and Jaime tried to ignore how sexy it made him. He put all his energies into whatever he did and when it came to thinking, the intensity ramped up. God, why didn’t I go home with him after Chris’s wedding? He abruptly raised his gaze and swung it around the café as if looking for those who might be listening in. The hair on her arms raised in visceral awareness and she resisted the urge to smooth them down.
“How ’bout we talk a walk along the pier? It’s pretty nice today.” He rose and shoved his arms into his leather jacket. He stood by her chair, waiting for her to comply.
It wasn’t nice out. It was windy as hell with a winter bite in the air, but something about his secretiveness made her curious. What did he not want others to hear? She stood and followed him out into the windy morning.