The McKinley Citizen — Preview

Excerpt from upcoming novel

“ROBERT,” LIZ SHORE shouted, one hand on her hip. The other gripped a spatula that dripped grease onto the floor. She stood at the door, staring out into the woods behind their house. “Robert, you’re going to miss dinner!”

There was no reply.

It’s likely Robert Shore was dead by now, or very close to it, but, of course, Liz had no way of knowing this. She sat at the dinner table and ate alone, sending glares at the door, through which she expected Robert to emerge at any moment.

He was always out collecting plants, or taking pictures of birds, or something. Liz wasn’t entirely sure. She watched television for a few hours, and, still fuming, went to bed. By the next morning, when she rolled over and found his side of the bed still empty, she was nothing short of irate.

She called Sally Moore and asked if Robert was at the Blue Boy getting donuts, like he sometimes did in the mornings after a long hike. Sally reported she hadn’t seen him that morning, but he had come in late Sunday night for a large cup of coffee. With trembling fingers, Liz called the Black Crow. Kyle Sharp answered and replied no, he hadn’t seen Robert in the bar in a few months. Her heart had been hovering in her throat and, relieved, sank back into its rightful place.

“Why?” he asked. “Is something wrong?”

“No, no,” Liz replied quickly, knowing Kyle would jump on a rumor like lightening. “Everything’s fine. He was late coming home last night, that’s all.”

She sped down to the Coffee Bean to meet Patricia, bursting through the door with panic written clearly over her face. “Pat, where’s Robert?”

Patricia answered that she hadn’t seen him, and called Alley to tell her to go out and look for him. Everyone knew his favorite spots –Widow’s Peak and the forest behind the Tree District. Then a sudden, terrible thought made her heart skip a beat.

“Have you called Dylan?”

Liz’s face blanched and she scrambled for the phone.

“Robert? No, I haven’t seen him since last week, when he came up to see the new cub.” Dylan White’s voice was emotionless. Liz figured he’d had a long night worrying over the preserve. She’d heard through the grape vine that he was preoccupied with their financial situation, but who knew if you could trust a rumor like that. “Haven’t seen anyone up here for a while, but I’ll go on patrol and see if I find him. He knows he shouldn’t be up here without me knowing it. But I know he’s smart enough to handle himself.”

It was only a few minutes before the phone rang again. This time, it was the Sheriff.

“We found him. It looks like a bear attack.”

Patricia looked up at Liz, wordless, and Mrs. Shore promptly burst into tears.

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