Such a Peaceful Spot

Here is another section of my upcoming NaNo, inspired by a picture prompt over at the WriYe DreamWidth

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glade-creek-grist-millIlya stood on the bridge, looking down into the water that flowed beneath them. “How do they know that this is where he snatched her?” he asked, glancing over at Cedar. “Is there a witness?”

He shook his head. “No such luck,” he said. He pointed at the far end of the bridge, by the old grist mill. “They found her bag over there, just off the trail. Her identification was inside.”

“Might be that her abductor just tossed it there,” Jefferson said, scowling. “He might have been trying to throw us off. Right?”

Even as Ilya nodded in agreement, Lark was shaking her head. “We haven’t seen any hint of him trying to be so… clever,” she said. She moved towards the place that Cedar had indicated. “He’s rather impressed with himself, this one. He wouldn’t think there was a need to hide his trail or throw us off.”

“He thinks we won’t be able to catch him,” Ilya said. When she nodded, he frowned and looked over at Jefferson. “See what you can find, why don’t you?”

Jefferson rolled his eyes and followed Lark over to the end of the bridge. Even as he did what Ilya had suggested, he murmured that Ilya wasn’t in charge of him. He was, after all, the senior agent of the pair of them.

Ilya heaved a sigh and moved away from Jefferson. He could argue that the other was only a senior agent by virtue of having been in IIA longer. If you went by actual years of field experience, Ilya had spent more time honing his skills. However, Ilya wasn’t the sort to confront someone so directly.

For years, he’d considered himself a coward because of that. It had only been recently that he’d begun to realize that he wasn’t a coward at all. He wasn’t afraid of Jefferson. The matter simply wasn’t worth getting into a fight over. Jefferson knew his job well enough to know that he should do what Ilya had asked and, for the moment, that was enough.

He spotted something in the grass near the water and scowled. For a moment, he considered pointing it out, in the hopes that Cedar would get a closer look. However, he knew that he should be the one to do it. After all, he was the one who had seen it. Frowning, he made his way carefully down the bank to the edge of the water.

“What’d you find, Tanner?” Cedar called. Few of them used Ilya’s codename. Cedar, whether it was his training or something else, called most of them by their codenames, including Ilya. For his part, Cedar was the only one that Ilya consistently called by his codename.

Ilya shook his head. “Something that doesn’t belong,” he said. He snapped a photograph of it. Then, he pulled on a pair of gloves and reached out. He nearly overbalanced as he tried to grab the item without falling into the water. Chuckling softly, he took hold of it.

He frowned and then held it up for Cedar to see. “It’s a charm bracelet,” he said, stepping back from the water. “The clasp is broken.” He tucked the item into an evidence bag and tilted his head. “I suppose it could have come from someone else.”

As Cedar took the bracelet, Ilya made his way back to the bridge to stand beside him. Cedar shook his head. “Good job spotting this, Tanner,” he said, his voice faint. “It matches the description of a bracelet that the girl’s mother gave her.”

Cedar glanced towards Lark and Jefferson. “He must have attacked her there,” he said, frowning. “She dropped her bag and ran. He caught up to her here… they scuffled.”

“So… the vehicle he used to transport the victim,” Ilya said, glancing off into the trees. “It would have been somewhere in that direction.”

Cedar nodded and called to Lark that they were going to check something out. Then, as he set off – with Ilya trailing close behind – he said, “This is such a peaceful place. Who would think that anything like this could happen here?”

“Not the girl,” Ilya murmured. “That’s for certain.”

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