Striding toward her with water dripping from his long coat, Ian MacAllister looked like a small-town cop who’d already had a long night. He wasn’t particularly tall, somewhere just shy of six feet, but was built fit and solid. His hair was cut short and, even though it looked brown, Vivi could see streaks of a reddish gold in it. His jaw and general facial features were strong, both in structure and in bearing, and he was younger than she had expected, probably just a few years older than her own thirty-three. His heritage, at some point in time, was likely Scottish. Or, more precisely, she amended to herself as he stopped before her, Celtic.
“Ma’am?” he said, holding out his hand. “Ian MacAllister, Deputy Chief of Police.”
“Vivienne DeMarco,” she responded, standing up to shake his hand. Vivi motioned him toward an empty table in the back. When they reached it, he waited for her to sit then joined her as she pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to him.
“GPS coordinates,” he said, frowning at the numbers.
“I had a flat tire outside of town a bit ago. After I changed it, I heard something—thought it might be a bear, so I took a look around. There is no easy way to say this, but you have a body, or at least part of one, buried under the road at these coordinates.”
Ian MacAllister stared at her for a good long while. His eyes were green, an arresting and unusual shade—almost pastel. And though the color was soft and muted, his expression was not. Vivi had been around long enough to know he was taking stock. Finally, he spoke.
“You seem awfully calm to have just discovered a dead body, Ms. DeMarco.”
Reaching into her bag she pulled out her IDs again. He glanced at the card on top, the one identifying her as member of the Boston Police Department and Medical Examiner for the county. He pushed it aside and took a closer look at the second ID, the one granted to her as a permanent consultant with the FBI.
“So you see a lot of dead bodies, don’t you, Dr. DeMarco?” He pushed the IDs back across the table.
“My fair share, yes.”
“I assume, since you didn’t call 911, this isn’t an emergency?”
She shook her head and told him everything she knew. He listened to the sparse information, taking notes and asking questions. There wasn’t much she had to offer, so the interview lasted less than ten minutes.
“Thank you for your assistance,” he said, rising from his seat. “If I need to speak with you again, how can I reach you?”
“My number is on the paper with the coordinates,” she said, following his lead and standing. “I’ll be staying here tonight, but I’m on vacation and don’t plan to stay in this area for more than a night. If you need to talk to me in person, try to reach me in the morning.”
“Please do us both a favor and stick around until I give you the official okay to leave.” It wasn’t a request.
Vivi stared at the Deputy Chief of Police for a long moment. His intensity, his commanding confidence, and, not to mention, the fact that he didn’t seem all that upset about the thought of a dead body made her think he had seen his fair share too. Her eyes swept him in a study. Military of some sort, she would guess. But whatever his background, there was no doubt in her mind he was more than a small-town cop.
“I’ll stick around tomorrow, but if I don’t hear from you either way, I’ll be out of here the day after,” she conceded.
Check out the entire Windsor Series!
Tamsen Schultz is the author of the romantic suspense Windsor Series and the short story, American Kin. She’s an RWA Daphne Du Maurier Excellence in Mystery finalist and three time finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association annual contest. In addition to being a writer, she has a background in the field of international conflict resolution, has co-founded a non-profit, and currently works in corporate America. Like most lawyers, she spends a disproportionate amount of time thinking (and writing) about what it might be like to do something else. She lives in Northern California in a house full of males including her husband, two teenage sons, four cats, a dog, and a gender-neutral, but well-stocked, wine rack.