The bullet whizzed by his head and slammed into the wooden wall. Needle-sharp splinters stung his skin as DEA Agent Alex Peterson ducked down to avoid another shot. The warmth of his blood mingled with cold sweat as he looked over his shoulder, wondering when backup would arrive.
He needed the shooter alive because he might have some clues to the leader of the drug ring. Trying to talk him into surrendering, Alex called out, “Don’t make this worse for yourself. Police backup will be here any second. Come out with your hands up.”
In response, another shot rang out from the warehouse, just as the sound of sirens erupted in the chilly morning air.
Two squad cars jerked to a stop in the parking lot behind him. The shooter immediately fired in their direction, the gunshots cracking the cruiser’s windshields.
With the shooter focused on the cops, Alex raced toward the warehouse. But as he neared the door, a volley of gunfire erupted from the officers and reverberated in the cavern of the building.
Then came silence. Dead silence.
Muttering a curse, he rushed in, gun drawn. A young man lay on the ground, blossoms of red on his chest.
Gun trained on the prone figure, he hurried over, kicked away the gun, and knelt by the shooter’s side. He checked for a pulse, but the young man was gone.
He peered at the shooter’s face. Barely in his twenties if he had to guess. Maybe even younger.
Alex rose to his feet, sickened by the death and the loss of the information he might have gotten out of this suspect. He pushed on. He had a job to finish and collected any evidence that might help him stop the drug ring spreading their poison in Boise.
“I know this may be hard for you,” his commanding officer said as Alex sat in the DEA office.
“It is…difficult,” he admitted. He hadn’t been to Jasper in nearly a decade. A long time, but possibly not long enough.
“You’re familiar with the area and the people. It’ll help that you won’t be going in there cold,” his boss said, eyebrow raised in obvious challenge.
“But I may not necessarily be welcome,” he said, worried about how he would be received in Jasper after so long. A vision of her came to him then. Waves of dark, nearly black hair around a full face. Intense blue eyes glistening with tears as she walked away.
A long silence followed as his boss’s gaze bore into him, but with caring and not condemnation. “You can’t keep carrying that guilt around and you’re the best choice.”
“I’ll go,” he said and in the back of his mind he wondered if she was still there and if she was, if she’d still hate him for all that had happened.
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