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RELEASE DATE DECEMBER 29TH
After being holed up in his house all morning, Tyler drove out to the police station despite his doctor’s advice. While his shoulder was still healing, he needed something to boost his mental health more than anything.
Finding out that Rowan and Logan were an item had been a punch in the gut, and while he wouldn’t deny that it had hurt him, it had also made him realize what he’d been holding on to from the past was only holding him back.
As he walked into the office, Peyton looked up at him. “Officer Harper,” she said as her eyes grew wider. “I thought your father said you were still recovering.”
“Yeah, well, that’s no fun. I could only take so much of staring at the same walls. Is my father around?” He had noticed his car was out front, but that didn’t always mean he was there.
“He’s in his office, but he’s with someone.” She turned the page on the beauty magazine that was on her desk.
“Who is it?” he asked, wondering if it was someone about the case.
“He said he’s from the FBI,” said Peyton.
“Did you get a name?”
She gave him a sideward look. “I don’t remember. Landon or something like that.” She waved her hands dismissively.
“Have you heard anything about John Mooney? Has he caused any trouble?”
“No. He’s been on his best behavior, as far as I know. But I did hear that they are going to move him tomorrow. They are bringing in backup.”
Tyler didn’t think the man would give them any trouble. He had done his job for the men who hired him, and now he would probably serve his time without complaint. “Has anyone come in to see him?”
“Nope.” Peyton flipped another page. “It’s been pretty quiet here.”
About that time, his father’s door opened and his father stepped out with the FBI agent. He was dressed in a dark suit with shiny shoes that made him look like he hadn’t done hard work in ages.
“I appreciate you keeping in touch,” said his father as he looked over and spotted Tyler waiting.
His chest swelled proudly as he gestured for Tyler to join them. “This is my son, Officer Tyler Harper. Tyler, this is Agent Landon with the FBI. He’s going to be working on the kidnapping case.”
“It’s good to meet you, sir.” Tyler offered his hand. His first opinion of the guy was that he seemed very sure of himself by the way he stuck his chin out with his hand and looked down his nose.
Agent Landon grinned. “It’s good to meet you. I heard you took a bad hit. It’s good to see you’re getting around.”
“It’s good to be getting around,” he said. “I’m hoping that you’ll be able to figure out who did this.”
The man nodded. “Oh, certainly. But you don’t need to worry about that. I’m on the case. You worry about healing.”
Tyler looked at his father to see if he could get a read on his opinions as the man continued.
“So, how are you doing? Are you healing okay?” he asked.
Tyler thought the man was doing his best to look interested. He just didn’t feel he cared as much as he was pretending to. “I’m doing okay, considering. I’m mostly fighting boredom, but I’m keeping my mind sharp.”
“My son is a hard worker,” his father said, giving Tyler a pat on the back. “I’m sure he’s eager to get back to work.”
“I bet he is.” The man’s enthusiasm faded. “Speaking of getting back to work, I should really get going. I’ve got a meeting later, but I look forward to speaking to you soon, Captain. And you as well, Tyler.”
Tyler waited as the man left the building and turned to his father. “What was that all about? Did he come down to tell you he found something?”
“No. He more or less just wanted to come down and make an introduction. I’d call it more of a posture move to let me know that he’s got it under control.”
“I’d agree. But do you think he really does?”
“That remains to be seen, but sooner or later, it will come to light.” He turned around and headed back into his office.
Tyler followed him into the office and shut the door. “He seemed pretty confident. Did he tell you anything about where he’s starting? Does he have any leads of his own?”
“He just asked me some questions about the incident and if he could get a few copies of the reports we had on record. Mostly yours, Ms. Opal’s, and Ms. Jenkins’s. And the other eye witnesses.” His father walked around his desk, sat down in his leather chair, and kicked back. “But I can tell you right now, he’s not going to be too forthcoming, considering you’re a victim and I’m your father.”
Tyler expected as much. “Did you tell him about the discoveries I have made?” He had directly connected Wayne Greene to the kidnapping, as well as his attacker.
His father sighed. “You haven’t exactly made an official report of your findings, so no. I didn’t want to bring them up without a proper report. But you do realize that once you do create a report, I will have no choice but to do that.”
Relief came over Tyler. He hadn’t planned on sharing his discoveries with anyone else other than his father. The agent would have shut down any attempts by Tyler to investigate the event on his own. He didn’t have any plans to put any of it on the record, and now he wasn’t sure whether to tell his father why he was there.
He pulled out a paper from his back pocket and unfolded it. “I wanted to show you something and ask for help. But I won’t if you will feel like you’d have to tell him.”
“Just show it to me and let me make that determination. As far as I’m concerned, what you’re up to on your time off is your business. And I’ll only have to tell him if it becomes apparent that it’s necessary or when it is undeniable that we need his help.”
Tyler moved a few things aside and unfolded the papers on his father’s desk. He, Rowan, and Logan had pieced together printouts of the satellite photos.
His father curled his lip as he looked at the display. “What the hell am I looking at? A craft project?”
Tyler expected the insult. “It’s a map. We were searching for a place on the satellite images that could be the plant supply company we have already associated with the children and Wayne Greene. We scoured the internet, and while there are plenty of phone numbers to call and ask for assistance, there is not an address supplied to state where the business is located.”
“They have to do billing somehow. Wasn’t there an address for that?”
“We checked. But all collections are done by a separate party, so that was a dead end as well.”
“Have you any proof that this is that place? Was there anything visible on the street view? Just looking at it, I think it could be anything.”
“No. You can’t get that close from the outside, but I’m not sure why. My guess would be that it wasn’t able to be mapped, which means it could be private property. Look here.” Tyler pointed at the page. “We believe these are crop rows. And these are commercial greenhouses. Logan certainly knows what those would look like.”
“It could be a farm.” His father shrugged it off as if he still wasn’t convinced.
“But we can clearly see commercial trucks on the satellite view. They look to be the same type of trucks that go to Logan’s for deliveries.” He indicated them on the map with his finger.
His father leaned in toward the table and rapped his knuckles on the desktop. “Speaking of Logan. Wouldn’t he know more about this company he does business with? I find it odd that all this time, he spouts his innocence and how he had nothing to do with it, and yet, the first evidence found leads us right back to his family’s nursery.”
“Are you suggesting he’s in on it somehow? Because if so, that’s a stretch. Why would he help us?”
“Well, it’s just an observation. Maybe he had some prior knowledge.”
“That’s not fair, Dad. You know Logan didn’t do anything. And Rowan had a plausible idea about what might have happened to Jessica. I think that it deserves some investigation.”
“Rowan and Logan,” his father said, rolling his eyes.
“Look, I know you don’t like me working with them, but they both care about this case, and it’s better than having them go off without us. At least with me working with them, we can tell what they are up to so they don’t do anything stupid. Besides, I’m making my own determinations without their influence, using my own experience. I’d think you’d trust me to do that.”
He didn’t think his father could argue with that.
He took a deep breath and let it out. “So, do you really believe this to be accurate? This is where you think they took the little girl?”
“Yes, and I think that there’s something suspicious about this area here. It appears to be walled in. There are other buildings inside this walled-off area. It is my guess that there are people living within this. Like a commune of sorts. There are pools clearly visible from the view.”
“You don’t know what they are. Those could be retainer ponds.”
“Maybe. But they are too perfect. Look at this natural water feature compared to the other.” One was perfectly shaped and appeared to be surrounded by concrete. The other had much more natural edges.
“I see what you mean,” said his father. “So, you want me to think these kids are being held there.”
“I think they live there. I think Wayne Greene took them from their home, and the father was trying to get them back.”
His father shook his head. “But again, you are just guessing.”
“We’re putting things together, and that’s just a theory, yes. The boy told Logan about his home. He said there were large greenhouses and crops.”
“Which he clearly kept to himself.” His father’s jaw tightened.
Tyler felt it was only fair that he spoke up about that. “He wanted to tell me first. Which, I think, was a good move. You didn’t have any prior knowledge about this, and we had all agreed not to take it to you until we had proof.”
“That is all I’m asking for now. I’m sorry, but I’m not sure what you want me to say or do in regard to this. You clearly don’t want me to tell Agent Landon, which limits what I’m capable of doing.”
“I wanted to see if you could help me find out something more about this. If you’re right, fine, but I think it’s only fair that we look deeper, considering that this is the only place remotely close to what we’re looking for.”
His father stared at the map. Finally, he eased back in his chair and nodded. “Okay. I’ll see what I can find out. But I’m limited. If Landon finds out, I’ll be forced to tell him about your theory. I can’t see that going too well for either of us.”
“That’s fair enough.”
“I’ll see if I can find out any other information on the location, maybe public records, land sales. That might lead to a name.”
“It’s going to take some time, so until then, I’d like for you to give it a rest. And stay at home. I know you’re not supposed to be behind the wheel.”
His father gave him a hard look. “Let me see what I can find, and we’ll go from there. But don’t hold your breath.”
“Thanks.” Tyler knew he wasn’t going to sit on his hands and wait for his father to do anything. Time was precious, and he was determined to keep moving forward.