Read an Excerpt
“Slow down,” Jake laughed. “We have to talk . . .”
“No, we don't,” Kate interrupted. “We don't have to talk about anything. These kids are gonna bust if you don't let them out of this lab. Let's all go up to the draw and see what we can find. Come on. It'll be fun.”
“But it'll take us two hours to get up there!” Jake protested.
“So what?” Kate countered. “It's just a little after noon and it doesn't get good dark until 8: 30 thanks to this damned made-up government time. Come on, professor,” she teased, “loosen up.”
Amy and Chris had moved to stand behind Kate in silent solidarity. They looked like a couple of kids on Christmas Eve. Jake knew when he was defeated. “Okay,” he said. “Fine. The boss lady says we ride, we ride.”
Kate clapped him on the shoulder with her good hand, “Even if you did steal that line from Josh,” she said approvingly, “you delivered it like a top hand.” She turned to the two interns. “Either one of you know how to saddle a horse?”
“I do!” Amy said. “I was a summer camp counselor.”
“Of course you were,” Kate said. She eyed Chris. “You have any problem with horses?” she asked him.
“No, ma'am,” he said. “I don't know how to saddle one, but I can manage not to get thrown off.”
“Then you're a step ahead of where Dr. Martin was when he showed up on this place,” Kate laughed. “Come on, Amy, let's go to the barn. You two round up any equipment you think you need, but keep it light. We leave in half an hour.”
When Kate and Amy walked outside, Kate said, “I have to go talk to my sister for a minute. You go on to the barn. The tack room is at the back. My saddle has my initials on the fenders. Throw it on the big mahogany bay mare. Her name is Bracelet. She'll stand still for you if you use her name. Put any saddle you want on the old black. He doesn't care. His name is Horsefly, and he's liable to talk to you. Dr. Martin will ride him.”
“What about me and Chris?” she asked.
“I'll pick a couple of horses for you all from the pen when I get to the barn,” she said. “I won't be long.”
Jenny heard Kate's footsteps as she approached, but didn't look away from her painting. “Why are you having that kid saddle horses?” she asked without preamble, delicately shading a portion of her canvas to match the deep shadows on the bluff.
“That's what I walked over here to tell you,” Kate said. She described to Jenny what they'd just learned from the ground scans of the interior of the cave, and finished with a question. “You want to come along?” she asked.
Putting her brush down, Jenny turned on the small stool and looked up at her sister. “You won't let them tear anything up?” she asked, an odd note coming into her voice to match the apprehensive caution in her eyes.
Kate squatted down so they were on a more equal level. She rested her hand on her sister's knee both to balance herself and as a gesture of reassurance. “You know I won't,” she said. “And I know I probably should have asked you about all this first. Sorry about that, but I got . . .”
“Excited,” Jenny said, finishing the thought for her.
“Yeah,” Kate admitted sheepishly. “I did. To be real honest, I'm still excited.”
“The last time you got excited about going up to Baxter's Draw looking for treasure you got shot,” Jenny said, a shadow crossing her face at the memory of that night.
“Nothing up in Baxter's Draw is going to hurt me or you any more, honey,” Kate said. “I went up there by myself in the middle of the night knowing there was an intruder with a gun somewhere on this place. I was an idiot.”
“Damn right you were,” Jenny said, putting her hand over Kate's. “And you're not ever going to do anything like that again.”