Francine pulled her Jeep over in the bend of the road and parked directly behind Frank\'s Bronco. She immediately noticed him sprawled face down in the snow. Frantically she jumped from her Jeep and ran to his side.
"Frank!" she bent down and violently shook the sheriff\'s lifeless body. "Frank!" she screamed. "Wake up dammit!" grabbing him by the coat sleeve she turned him over to face the sunlit sky.
His eyes began to flutter, then opened. He looked around disoriented for only a moment, then looked directly into Francine\'s eyes. A sudden anger quickly took over him.
"What the hell are you doing here?" he yelled.
As if his recent occurrence hadn\'t happened, Frank got up from the ground, brushed himself off, then stood to face her.
Ignoring his outburst, Francine yelled right back. "Jesus Christ Frank, what happened to you?"
"I asked you what you were doing out here?"
"I came to check on you...and from the looks of things it\'s probably a good thing I did."
"I\'m fine...really I am." he promised, looking her in the eye. "Go back to the diner Fran, I have a job to do. I promise I\'ll call as soon as I know something."
"Frank..." she pleaded.
"Go Fran!" he ordered. Ignoring the desperate look on her face, Frank jumped into his Bronco and slowly descended the winding hill.
Brooke wasn\'t the least bit shocked when Francine bolted out the front door after the sheriff. She may have been here for only a couple of weeks now, but she wasn\'t blind and the chemistry between the two of them hadn\'t gone unnoticed.
She busied herself in the empty diner wiping countertops that had already been wiped, filling glass salt and pepper shakers that were near overflowing, and she knew that if she could get one more napkin in the metal napkin dispensers, it would be a blessed miracle.
"Oh the hell with it!" she said and tossed her cloth, where it landed in a heap on top of the counter. She made herself a cup of black coffee and took a seat in one of the booths. She sipped her coffee while she watched in silence out the front window of the diner.
Outside, snow plows could be heard in the distance scraping roadways, clearing last night\'s outrage for anyone who needed to get in, or out of town. It was unseasonably warm and the heating of the winter sun had helped to clear the roadways. Icicles that had recently hung from gutters now dripped furiously, making a loud splashing sound as it poured into the concrete below.
Brooke jumped at the sound of the deep voice, sloshing coffee over the rim of her mug. She jumped from the booth slapping her kneecap on the underside of the table along the way. Struggling to hold in a stifling scream, she wiped the front of her apron as though thousands of wrinkles had recently invaded it.
"I\'m sorry, I didn\'t hear you come in." she said, composing herself.
"Excuse me!" she said.
"Your knee." he quickly added.
"Oh, yeah..." she laughed, looking up at him. "but it\'s okay now." she was looking into the brownest, most sexiest, dangerous looking eyes she had ever seen. The were unnaturally dark she noticed, with tiny specks of gold scarcely dispensed throughout. They were almond shaped and perfectly set above chisled cheek bones.
"I\'m sorry," she said once again.
"Can I get you anything?"
"Matter of fact," he said smiling, "a hot coffee sounds wonderful."
Brooke made her way back behind the counter and began preparing a fresh pot of coffee, cautiously stealing glimpses of him. She was pouring fresh grounds into the white basket, her back turned, when he spoke again, causing her to nearly jump out of her skin.
"Can you point me in the direction of a cheap place to stay for a day or two?" he couldn\'t help but look at her. It had been too many years since he\'d had a woman, although not by his choice.
"Francine might be able to help you out."
"Oh I\'m sorry," she could feel the heat rising in her cheeks. "she um...she owns the diner. she felt like a giddy teenager with her first crush unable to carry on even a simple conversation. The ring of the front door was loud in her ears, she was thankful for the intrusion.
"Hi Fran. We were just talking about you. This gentleman is looking for a place to stay for a day or two, and I mentioned that you may have a vacancy."
"As a matter of fact I do." she said, cautiously examining the man sitting in one of her red swivel chairs.
"Is something wrong?" he asked, taking a sip of his coffee, lowering his head.
"I\'m sorry," Francine said. "I\'m staring...forgive me, it\'s just...you look familiar, that\'s all.
"Do I know you by chance?" she finally asked him.
"I don\'t believe so mam," he said as politely as he could muster. "I can honestly say I\'ve never been here before."
"So what brings you here this morning?"
"Storm got me by surprise last night. I actually had to pull over and sleep in my truck, damn near froze to death too. Then she has the nerve not want to start this morning."
He was rambling on, she was sure of it. His answers seemed almost rehearsed. She could read people like a best selling novel, and she knew he was hiding something. She would worry about that later, for now she had other, more important things on her mind...mainly Frank.
Ignoring her suspicions for now, she turned her attention to Brooke.
"Brooke, the unit next to you is vacant. I\'ll leave the key on the desk, show him where it is please. Go on and close the diner up for the rest of the day, gonna cost me more to stay open on a day like this. Feel free to make Mr. "um...I\'m sorry, what did you say you\'re name was?"
"It\'s Logan," he said, "Logan Montgomery." he held out his hand in a friendly gesture.
Another rehearsed line, she thought to herself then accepted his hand.
"Pleased to meet you." she said. She turned her attention back to Brooke, "As I was saying, feel free to make Mr. Montgomery a breakfast special, on the house of course."
"Thank you ma\'am, that\'s awfully generous of you."
"I\'ll be at home if you need me dear." she said, then as quickly as she had come inside, she was once again gone.
"I hope you have a big appetite." the moment she said it she nearly laughed out loud. He could easily eat more than one "special" she thought.
He was tall, at least six-feet four, and just by the sight of him he could have easily passed for a professional wrestler. His dark skin was taut against layers of attractive muscle. His hair was a shine of black that hung straight, just below his shoulders. She knew it was silly but he reminded her of some kind of warrior.
"As hungry as I am I think I\'ll pass on the food. I think I could use some sleep a little bit more."
"Sure, it will only take me a minute or two to close down, then I\'ll show you to your room. It\'s just across the street some so it wont take long to walk there."
"Take your time." he said. I have all the time in the world. The more he watched her, the more he liked what he saw. A silent grin covered his mouth.
Francine paced back and forth across the wooden floorboards in her living room, nervously awaiting Frank\'s call. Her heart was hammering, her blood was racing.
"God, what\'s going on down there?" she whispered.
Chewing on her fisted hands like a teething puppy, she stared at the phone willing it to ring. When it finally did, she nearly jumped out of her own skin. She knocked a lamp from an end table grabbing for the phone, sending it crashing to the floor.
"Frank!" she said into the receiver.
"Frank!" she heard a strange clicking noise on the other end then immediately wondered if her phone was being tapped.
The phone went dead.
When the phone rang again she was near hysterical. She answered the phone yet didn\'t say anything.
"Francine...is that you?" a flood of relief washed over her at the sound of his voice.
"Francine are you all right?"
"Yeah, I\'m fine."
"I\'m going to stop by after I\'m finished here. It may be a couple of hours yet."
"Frank?" he could hear the nervousness in her voice.
"Don\'t worry Francine, nobody knows anything."
"The missing boys?" Before answering, Frank hesitated.
"I\'ll talk to you when I get there."
She hung up the phone and with her back to the wall, slid to the floor. A wave of nausea washed over her and she put her head between her knees.
"Dear God!" she prayed.