The Rifters Book 2
You’re never a hero until you are.
A junction erupts between the worlds in Settler, Oregon, a rift from which horrors attack our world. The Rifters defend us.
To trust unquestioningly is the first lesson Daelin Long must learn as the newest Initiate of the Rifters.
Her first day is a disaster. She stands on a deserted street in a town smaller than a city district, courting killer rocks from another world with her ancestor from the Revolutionary War. Normal no longer exists.
While she struggles, Earl Blacke grapples with atoning for his past ill deeds, running far and fast from Settler, Oregon. The Shaman of the Desert promises him redemption, and an old mine puts the possibility of a gold strike in his grasp. His luck has changed for the better, but he can’t have both.
The Rifters series is set in the town of Settler, Oregon. There’s a reason for its weirdness. Join the Settler community and become part of the story… Check out Settler HERE and see what inspires The Rifters HERE.
Cover by: EDHGRAPHICS
Edited by: Kelly Schaub
- The Initiate
- Rifters Book 2
- © M. Pax 2014
Ink burrowed under her skin, blue and purple snakes, the needle nipping incessantly forming stained windows. Daelin Long grit her teeth, thinking of old times, of stealing maraschino cherries from the parade of bars her mother had worked at, running off with her younger sister and brother, squealing and shrieking out into the night, all to get her mind off the pain. The ink gripped, searing, chewing up a more innocent version of herself, one that didn’t know about the horrors lurking in the woods.
Sabina Staley, Daelin’s new boss, sneered at the glowing pigments working their way into Daelin’s hand, managing the needle and ink. “Just a little more. Glad you’re not being a baby.” She yanked Daelin’s wrist straight, her black bubble-framed eyeglasses sliding down her steep nose, her green eyes glinting under the glaring utility light. “You’re off to a fine start in the Rifters and will be standing beside your sister in no time.” Her lips pursed as they usually did.
Praise. Daelin might not ever get used to it. Mostly she ached to get close to her sister again. They had grown apart, evident by the secret life Charming led. “It’s not every day a girl gets to behead a ghost.”
“You’re not a girl. You’re a six-foot woman with a healthy wallop.”
The single brash bulb in the task lamp hanging from the ceiling blinded Daelin to the curiosities beyond the recliner she lay in. Shelves of leather-bound journals locked by crystal clasps. Cabinets of gadgets constructed from crystals, coils, and gears. Aviator goggles rimmed with inductor coils winked, creating enigmas within mysteries.
Daelin had sworn an oath to protect the world against monsters, the same one her younger sister swore. Charming remained missing, presumably on a dig with the Paleo Institute, but the reason didn’t sit easy in Daelin’s mind. She couldn’t name why. A wild four days involving phantoms and murders had passed since she had moved to the dinky wilderness town of Settler, Oregon, from New York City. Her sister had persuaded her to take the county librarian position. Not that it took much convincing. Shaken after being laid off, robbed on the subway platform where she lost her severely needed severance pay, Daelin had no choice but to accept.
She had traded in skyscrapers for snowcapped mountains, the stench of the forgotten for the heady scents of juniper, sage, pine, and cedar, and the turbulent East and Hudson Rivers for placid twin lakes that reflected the majesty of nature, nothing but nature.
Settler sat inside the crater of a dormant caldera. Two craggy peaks marked the crater to the west. To the east, the crater walls had eroded to pine-covered ridges. Gold and East Lakes reflected the mountainous terrain and forest as well as the cinder cone that divided the two calm bodies of water. The town had tucked itself between the twin lakes and the twin craggy peaks. Farther to the west the snowcapped Cascades rose, adding to the stunning vista Settler already claimed.
The town hovered at a population of one thousand residents. In the summer months, creatures visited from other worlds, intending to stay and feed upon this one. The tattoo ushered in a responsibility for them, making it part of Daelin’s job to defend against those threats, to protect the town and its people, and by doing so protect the world. “In all the dictionaries,” she whispered. She hadn’t imagined managing a rural county library to be so exciting and deadly.
Grabbing a cup of copper ink, Sabina dipped in the needle and added dots and lines, filling in the glass-like cobalt and violet panels with a maze of circuitry. The metallic ink leached under Daelin’s skin, crawling into crevices her thoughts had never reached, urging her to shriek.
She held back the scream, swallowing until it dissolved to a tremble. “How does the tattoo make me a Rifter?” she asked, speaking through clenched teeth.
“They’re permanent circuits that draw the energy from the gateway. The energy interacts with Rifter-sanctioned equipment, boosting its effectiveness. The panels also remember your training to make you faster, stronger, sharper. As you progress through the ranks, your tattoo will grow, revealing your standing to all other Rifters.” Sabina’s snow white curls fell over her brow. With the back of her papery wrist, she swept them out of the way. “Those of this world and not. You’ll be a great temptation to the nefarious creatures, a weakness to be exploited. Be very aware of that.”
Great. She’d be creature bait. Daelin would learn as much as she could as fast as she could to get this phase over with. “I don’t see your tattoo.”
“It’s only visible when wearing the transputer. When I’m done, yours will do the same.”
“The device resembling a watch?” Daelin had seen the Rifters wearing them last night when she helped them defeat a murderous ghost. Yeah, her whole idea of normal had changed since moving to Settler.
“It’s a bracer. You’ll get one and a journal in which to keep your notes.” She shrugged at the shelves beyond the glare of the light. “Listen, the rift is overwhelming. If I tell you everything now, you’ll drown. Your fellow Rifters and I will dish information slowly, as you need to know it. We’ll never leave you floundering without a paddle. All right?”
“OK.” What else could Daelin say? She didn’t know what to demand, only knew she had sworn to become a guardian of Settler.
Reading an old journal by Patrick Swit, the founder of the town and the Rifters, was how Daelin had been given the oath, I swear to guard and protect this world from all enemies who mean it harm and from all things born of the rift. To unswear is to die.
The list of protectors dated back to 1892. Currently, nine Settler residents made up the elite team, including herself and her sister. Daelin hoped it would bring her and Charming closer, a sharing of their adult lives to strengthen the bonds formed in youth. If her sister ever came back to town. Taking off without a word wasn’t like her.
With the completion of each circuit, the bruises and scrapes covering Daelin’s body from the encounter with the phantom eased. Her lips moved more freely, the stiffness in her face and legs faded as if she had been dunked in a pool of pain relievers. “Ahh.” She shut her eyes.
Swabbing over the tattoo, Sabina cleaned Daelin’s hand and wrist then wrapped it. She pointed at the door. “Wald will mentor you through the initial phase of the Rifters. See him on your way out.”
The pledge Daelin had signed in Patrick Swit’s journal, the book explaining the origins of the Rifters, lay open beside the inks. Her signature looped below her sister’s. All the names had been scrawled in scratchy red. The color of blood, the color of warning and danger. The warning leaped from the page, pinching along her spine. The unsettled feeling grew and knotted her brow. Daelin sat up. The vinyl chair squeaked.
Sabina set the tattoo gun down, rising onto her feet, standing almost as tall as Daelin. “For now, your primary duty is to learn and to train.” Her long face mirrored her long nose. She gave Daelin a quick hug. “I’m glad to have you with us. There’s nothing to worry about. Everyone will see to it you’re trained well. Don’t be afraid to ask us questions, however, don’t question orders in this phase. It will keep you alive, and I’d prefer that outcome. Lesson one, what you must ingrain into your core, is to trust your fellow Rifters without question.”
Strands of Daelin’s black hair had broken loose during the procedure. She pulled out her hair stick, combed her fingers through her shoulder-length tresses, then twirled them back into presentable with the stick. “Understood.”
“The library closes at four o’clock sharp during the summer. I suggest you take naps before your Rifter duties, which start at sundown.”
“Yes, Ms. Staley.” Daelin straightened her sweater and jeans. The nights here resembled winter, not caring it was late June.
“Call me Sabina. It’s my preference, like you don’t wish to be called Darlin.”
Why had her mother named her Darlin Dae Long? The name cursed her from birth with silliness that prevented her from making a serious first impression. “Noted.”
Daelin pushed herself off the recliner, much like a dentist’s chair, and hobbled out of the concealed room in Sabina’s office suite, limping less than earlier, exiting through a painting of a fog-smothered forest, which opened like a vault into the county commissioner’s official office. She traveled down two flights of stairs, watching her gold and pink flowered ballerina flats to make sure she didn’t trip down the granite steps. The interior of the county building recalled bygone eras, a homage to decades and centuries forgotten by the big cities. White tile covered the walls. Tan and ivory speckled granite squares made up the floor.
Double wooden doors across the foyer opened to the reception area. Inside, a counter constructed from blond paneling separated visitors from staff. In this case, one man, Wald Macadam, Sabina’s indispensible third hand. Ivory linoleum graced the countertop and a silver bell.
Wald didn’t sit at his desk in front of the typewriter. Yeah, a typewriter. The outmoded machine went with the rotary phone, apparently a set Caslow County couldn’t do without. Daelin slapped the bell.
From behind a wall, Wald limped, wiping crumbs from his lips, his face as bruised as hers. He had joined the Rifters ten years ago according to the date scribbled next to his signature under the oath. He must have still been in high school. What had he defended the world against in that time?
The ghost she had battled last night had used Wald as a shield and a weapon in an attempt to defeat her, slamming him down as a roadblock to thwart her, chucking him as a cannonball to hurt her. It had hurt Wald worse.
His sparkly hazel gaze smiled at the bandage on her wrist then rose to stare into her intentions. She didn’t quite know what they were, so didn’t know what he learned.
“I’ll pick you up at your place at 9:30 p.m.,” he said.
It sounded like a date. He smoothed the shorn hair around his ears, an uninspiring medium brown. The top was longer, mussed in stylishly messy waves, much like Earl Blacke’s, a man connected to Daelin’s sister and her disappearance, a man with a million secrets. What could be more secretive than a team of people who protected this world from creatures that came through a doorway of light in the woods? Daelin doubted she’d ever understand Earl or all the bizarre nuances of Settler.
“Try to get a nap,” Wald said. “It’ll be a long night. Either something will greet us from the other side or we’ll greet the sun.”
What a date it would be out under the moon waiting for doom, and she had never lived anywhere so obsessed with napping. “Should I bring anything?” For certain, she’d wear her winter clothes. Despite it being the end of June, Settler had yet to get the memo summer had started. Sitting at four thousand feet above sea level, the area only had two seasons: a long winter and August. August hadn’t quite arrived, although yesterday afternoon hinted it might show up soon.
Wald wore slacks in a darker shade of gray than his cardigan and a black button-down shirt. His hazel eyes were slightly obscured by the swelling of his eyelids and cheeks. “No. I’ll bring everything we’ll need. The tattoo will help your injuries heal faster. That was some battle, huh?”
She reached out and patted the yellowing on his swollen cheek. “Your bruises don’t look as fresh as mine.”
“The tattoo.” He held his arm up. “I’ve been with the Rifters awhile. You were really brave. Bet you move up in the ranks quick.”
As long as she reconnected with Charming, Daelin didn’t care about the rest. “See you later then.”
She left the Caslow County offices, a three-story brick structure resembling a Victorian house complete with a steeple, the tallest building in town. Daelin checked her watch, ten to four. Instead of turning left at the corner to return to the library, she went right, traveling down Brucker Avenue, the main thoroughfare decorated for the founders day festivities that started tomorrow, Swit Days. At one end of the main street sat the fossil dig, at the other Gold Lake.
Between the natural landmarks, booths dotted the center of the street trimmed with clashes of music, splashes of vibrancy, and the scents of cotton candy and popcorn. Daelin waved at the shop owners she knew setting out specials on tables in front of their businesses. Downtown. Right. The rare storefront rose higher than one story.
Daelin’s new phone buzzed, the latest model everyone in the city had slept outside three days in line to get. It had been sent by her brother, who interned at the popular communications company. She pulled it out of her bag, checking the number, her brother’s. “Hey, Cobb. How are things in Atlanta?”
“Same as yesterday.” Cobra Moondae Buckley. He had the same troubles with his name as his sisters.
Their mother loved bizarre names. Darlin Dae Long, Charming Moon Knight, and Cobra Moondae Buckley. None of them had the same father. Their mother played drums in rock bands, loving music, loving her groupies. The chaos had created a strong bond between Daelin and her siblings, one she cherished.
Cobb’s normally sarcastic tones deepened, becoming serious. “I was able to get the location of Charming’s phone. I’m texting you the coordinates, which you can plug into your GPS app. It’ll get you within a yard of Charming. Umm…” he blew out a loud breath. “Look, is she all right? What’s going on?”
“She’s out on a dig with the Paleo Institute. I want to pop in and say hi. That’s all.” Daelin halted in the middle of her commute, an eight block walk. What else could she tell him? She couldn’t tell him about the doorway to other worlds in the woods. She couldn’t tell him both of his sisters hunted monsters. “So where?”
“Her phone isn’t out of town. Don’t you think that’s weird?”
Daelin tugged her sweater tighter against an icy breeze. “Maybe she dropped it.”
“According to the coordinates and an internet map of Settler, her phone is inside Blacke’s Ranch Resort and Spa. You know where and what that is?”
Yes, she did. Earl Blacke had disappeared the morning after the fight with the ghost. He claimed to have told Daelin everything he could about Charming. She suspected what he could say and all he knew weren’t the same. Now she had proof.
“Blake Barth? Really? That’s the name you’re using now? A cat could come up with something more original.”
Earl Blacke — the name he was last known by — didn’t wheel around, didn’t bother to answer Dante. With a pack strapped to his back and a good pair of boots, he didn’t need what Dante came to offer. What Earl needed was to decide who he was, who he was going to be, and find a purpose for himself. Dante couldn’t give those things to him.
“Midlife crises don’t start until after forty in this century. You’ve got over a decade to go until this is appropriate. Or maybe you’re getting your Zen on, huh? There’s an old television show I saw on the internet about a dude roaming the country with a bedroll searching for his Zen.” Dante yipped at Earl’s heels like a drunken miner down on his luck.
With forty years of his life to live over, Earl didn’t fret about his age anymore. “There’s nothing wrong with Zen. What do you know about it? You know less about this time and place than I do.” At least, Earl was human. Dante couldn’t claim that despite appearing like one.
“You can’t stay out here in the open, and you know it. They’ll find you, they’ll hunt you.” The concern had more to do with preserving his hide than Earl’s.
In 1888, Earl had left Northern California to escape his life gone wrong. He had ended up camping outside of Settler and had entered the rift in the woods when it burst open, not knowing what it was. It had spit him out in this century and returned his youth. The rift hadn’t let him near it since, otherwise he’d go through it now, hoping it’d give him a third lease on life.
The Cascades had faded to faint purple nuggets strung along the distant horizon. Earl headed east. He didn’t know where other than away from Settler, his past, war, and the possibility he might spill Charming’s secrets. He had promised not to, and he’d keep his vow. “The Rifters will prevent the hunters from leaving Settler.”
“So you hope. The other side will send nastier and nastier stuff until nothing can resist. They will eradicate us before we can mount an offensive. Your only choice is to leave this world.”
“Your offensive, your mounting. Not mine. Get it straight.” Earl reeled around, facing a man who could be his brother. They appeared about the same age, had the same medium athletic builds, the same cold blue eyes, the same stylish shadows of beards, and blond hair. Dante’s had more brown in it than Earl’s and had more length. Earl had more curl to his. “You’re only counting noble choices. Do you know where noble got me?”
“Here we go. Are you going to tell me about how the war used you up and spat you out again?” Like Earl, Dante wore faded blue jeans, cowboy boots, and a khaki button-down shirt. Unlike Earl, he didn’t wear a hat.
Lowering the brim of his brown cowboy hat, Earl put Dante out of his sight. “There’s no love for the soldier after battles are done. Society has no use for trained thugs and killers. The soldier forgets how to live with peace and kindness.”
Dust kicked up in a dirty cloud under Dante’s feet. He moved closer, poking Earl’s hat up, staring into Earl’s rotting soul. “Some worlds have figured out how to make the transition for their fighters. I could introduce you to their reformers.”
He shrugged out of Dante’s reach. “Just let me alone. I have to figure this out for myself.”
Dante squinted. “The self pity does nothing for you.”
“It’s not pity, it’s figuring. Something you don’t know much about.”
Arriving here with an honorable cause, Dante hadn’t given the maneuver against his peers the consideration he ought. Now the Governors of the rift would hunt him until he disappeared from all worlds. He hadn’t figured on that and had recruited Charming to get to Earl. Yesterday he had confessed he needed Earl as his general. No way would Earl agree.
Dante’s eyes rolled up toward the cloudless sky. “How do you figure that?”
“Oh, shut it.” Earl stepped around him, continuing across the dusty plains stretching between the buttes.
“Don’t you think running out on Charming repeats your old ways, the ones you want to change?”
“I did change. I did right by her.”
“Yet you’re leaving.”
“Maybe I’ll come back. I didn’t kill Earl Blacke. If for no other reason, it’s best to put some distance between me and the idiot ghost who kept calling me Bart. People might figure out who I really am.”
“It’s easy to explain the resemblance to anyone but the Rifters. Most of them already know, so why do you care? People have doppelgangers in every age. I’ve seen it online with celebrities and photos from the 1800’s. You’re running from fool’s gold, you fool. And you need to get this straight, you didn’t kill your other personas, you abandoned them. A distinct pattern.”
“Which is none of your business.”
“You didn’t pop out of the rift into this century on any whim, my black-hearted friend. I pried you loose from nonexistence, a place between worlds worse than any other.”
Earl shook his head. Dante was more stubborn than a miner who had found a speck of gold amid a heap of worthless rock. “And I suppose you lured me into the gate in 1888?”
Undaunted, Dante kept pace beside Earl. “No. You shouldn’t have been able to enter at all. That’s what’s special about you, why I can’t let you go.”
“You have no choice in the matter.” Earl pressed his lips firmly together, refusing to glance at Dante.
“I’ll let you have some time to sort yourself out. You’ll come round to my way of things. You have no choice in the matter.”
Oh, yes he did. Earl furrowed his brow into a snarl, directing it at the horizon and a puff of dirt. Dante had vanished, but not for long. Before he returned with more taunting, Earl would get good and lost. He veered south, picking up the pace.
“I curse you, Earl Blacke.” Daelin marched up the knoll on Madeline Street, past her sister’s tiny cottage, which had become her home, across the field of brush toward a dirt road leading to Blacke’s Ranch Resort and Spa. It sat behind the lava flow, hidden from town, in a world of its own.
Fists balled, she skirted through bramble snatching at her slacks, snagging her sweater, urging her to head back. She didn’t, ignoring the dust coating her shoes and the stones wanting to twist her ankle.
On the winding drive up to the ranch house, Daelin’s temper gave way to the frosty breeze blowing down from the peaks. Gold and Swit Peaks made for natural air conditioners, so did the Cascades farther to the west. The cool peaks also dried out lips.
She slowed to a stumble, fishing a lip balm out of her bag, discovering the key to her sister’s Jeep. Daelin remembered finding the mangled keychain in the woods, but not exactly where. Trying to recall made her head ache. The plastic frame holding a mini photo of herself and her brother had been cracked and coated in blood. Right. One reason warnings kept pricking her spine, why finding the phone was urgent, why Daelin had a twisted gut. It bolstered her resolve, and she stomped up to the house.
Guests of the ranch relaxed on lawn chairs set out on the grand porch. Draped in blankets, they sipped hot drinks and drank in the magnificent scenery — the mountains, the lakes, the deer grazing a few yards away.
Scott Zayas, one of the managers of the resort, led four saddled horses down the driveway toward the guests. Spotting Daelin, he stopped. Square and brown, he barely reached her shoulder, the top of his cowboy hat included.
“¡Hola! Señorita Long. What brings you out this way?” Hints of wisdom graced his eyes and mouth in feathering lines.
Standing in front of him, she felt stupid. What did he know about Earl’s tricks and Charming’s fate? Most likely nothing. Most likely Daelin hiked out here for nothing. What did she suspect Earl of? He had fought the ghost with as much energy as she had, sacrificing himself to give her a clear shot at victory, yet he was all snarled up with the same uneasy feelings Daelin had about her sister.
She tugged at her lower lip. If Earl hid something, Scott Zayas would know. The townspeople said Earl and Scott were tight. “I heard from my sister.” She searched Scott’s eyes and mouth for a reaction.
He twitched to shoo away a moth fluttering in his face. His expression otherwise didn’t change. “Did she say what the Paleo Institute found? Must be something good for them to have been out this long.”
“Some long Latin words I could never hope to pronounce again.” Daelin laughed then gestured at the stately manor. Constructed from great cedar planks, glass, and stone, the house harmonized with the beauty around it, reflecting majesty in its enormous spotless windows. She wondered what Earl had done to get all of his money. He wasn’t any older than she was. “What I can repeat without garbling it is she left her phone here. She said in the house.”
Scott nodded. “She’s always visiting Señor Earl when she’s around.”
The horses shuffled behind him. One sporting a blue splotchy coat extended its snout to determine whether Daelin had any apples or carrots. She took a step back.
“Go on in. Mist is in the lobby and will lend you a hand,” he said.
Would it be so easy to get her hands on Charming’s phone? Maybe Earl had nothing to hide. “Thank you, Scott.”
“Glad to be of use. Neighbors should help each other, and I know you helped the boss beat that murder rap.”
The ghost had used Earl like a puppet, forcing him to twist off heads and kill two townspeople. For the first victim, the excuse of, ‘a spook possessed me and made me do it’, sounded too silly for reason, even reason in Settler. For the second poor soul, witnesses had seen the phantom use Earl as the murder weapon. The ghost had proved Earl’s innocence more than Daelin.
She smiled stupidly, unsure what to say, deciding to quit talking about murderous ghosts. A little bit of normal was always welcome in this town. “Thank you. It shouldn’t take me long to find her phone.”
He jerked his head toward the horses. “Want to come riding with us? I can saddle another.”
She skirted around the beasts. “No, I’m good.”
“You’re just like the boss, avoiding the horses.” Scott laughed then clucked at his hoofed friends. They followed him across the lawn.
Two massive doors, one glass the other pine, made up the front entry. Inside sat a young woman, no older than nineteen, with a steep-planed face. Her skin, hair, and eyes all had the same shade of dark brown. Wearing a turquoise tunic that flowed past her knees and tan leggings, she made a pretty picture framed by the doorway.
Faded red leather graced the couches, loveseats, and ottomans arranged in the center of the parlor for optimal conversation. The back wall was all windows. Water poured down them in a waterfall, cascading into an indoor bed of river rocks. A herd of bronze mustangs galloped in front of it. The mirror of East Lake stretched beyond it outside, adding its hush of majesty. Monitors on the left wall displayed all the activities a guest could enjoy around Settler, and a desk with stacks of brochures and a computer sat under them. Greenery accented cedar and glass tables. Corridors branched off both sides of the room.
Beside the young woman on the couch sat a cell phone and laptop. She checked the phone then glanced up. Standing before Daelin reached the porch, the young woman smiled as if she drank the sun. “Welcome to Blacke’s Ranch Resort and Spa. I’m Mist Rider. Did Charming say where she left her phone?”
Scott must have texted. Cowboys with cell phones. The idea twitched Daelin’s sour mood into a more pleasant one. “Hi.” She introduced herself. “I was able to get coordinates to get us within a yard.” She checked the GPS app on her phone then pointed. “That way.”
Taking the left corridor off the lobby, Daelin navigated it to a metal door. The door had a discreet Private sign adhered to it. “In there. Let me call to be sure.” She dialed her sister’s number, pressing her ear to the door. Mist did the same. A faint roar came from inside.
“The growl is your sister’s phone. Mr. Earl is always nagging at her to change it, saying dinosaurs in this day and age are disturbing.”
On that Daelin would agree with him. A loud chirping beep followed the bellow, a sign Charming’s phone was dying. Daelin tried the knob. It didn’t budge. “Do you have the key?”
Mist shook her head. “Scott does. Let me go get him.” She strode down the hallway and hung a right. A few moments later Scott Zayas sauntered toward Daelin.
“That’s the boss’s private office,” he said.
“I just want to get my sister’s phone. You can stay the whole time.” She wished he wouldn’t. Earl had to keep secrets in there, and she wanted the time to unbury them.
“Está bien.” He unlocked the office and let her in, following her to Earl’s desk.
She dialed Charming’s phone again. The ringtone roared weakly, definitely coming from inside the desk. Daelin tried each drawer in turn, Scott peering over her shoulder.
In the top center drawer she noted a book on wild west outlaws. The photo on the cover reminded her of someone, but she couldn’t say who. With the book were some military patches and old photos. Earl didn’t strike her as ex military. What were those about? Scott gave her no time to dwell on the unearthed treasures.
In the top drawer on the right side of the desk, she found a laptop and power cords. A look at Earl’s computer could tell her a lot if Scott would leave her alone with it. No such luck.
The next drawer down contained a journal with a crystal clasp and a transputer, Rifter equipment. Earl’s name hadn’t been on the list in Patrick Swit’s journal. What if they were Charming’s things? Why would he have them? He had her phone. What had he done? Scott coughed over her shoulder. She’d have to think about it later, opening the last drawer.
Her sister’s phone lay on top of a file folder labeled Daelin. Why would Earl keep a file on her? She reached for it, needing to get a peek.
“That’s Charming’s there.” Pointing, Scott bumped against her arm.
Daelin couldn’t touch the file without him noticing. She’d have to figure out a way to get back in here and see what Earl Blacke had been up to.