Hamm listened to the soft ticking coming from somewhere inside the motor home. It sounded like the vehicle’s engine cooling, but more than likely there was a clock nearby.
Cooking the casserole had been an impulse thing. After he’d gone inside that convenience store, he’d seen the package of macaroni sitting on the shelf, and the idea had blossomed unexpectedly. He had no inkling of how she’d react to his offer, but he certainly hadn’t expected her to be wholly accepting. During the brief hour it took as they ate and chatted, they’d been comfortable with each other. There had been no pretense or uneasiness. It was almost as if they’d known each other for years.
No. It’ll be a few days, a few weeks at the most, he told himself. Maybe a month or two. And then what? Damn it, man, what are you thinking? That she’ll want to have anything to do with you once this case is over?
An image visualized in his mind. It was Wryn trying to tiptoe through a mine field. Except, in this case, the mines were human. And if she accidentally bumped one, or if one of them reached out to grab her, she’d have a seizure. Her body would react in the same manner as it had when Melk had held her arms.
Headlights shone through the windshield. He heard a car slowly circle around them. It stopped outside the door, and suddenly blue and red lights began flashing inside. The local law authorities were probably curious as to why the travel trailer was parked here.
Sitting up, he grabbed his badge where he’d set it on the counter top. Clad in just his jeans, he padded barefoot to the door. He made sure to leave his Glock sitting in plain sight, so that the officer or sheriff would see it.
He glanced down the narrow hallway to the closed bedroom door and debated whether or not to disturb Wryn. The woman hadn’t tried to hide her exhaustion. She needed her sleep. No, it was best if he handled this alone. At the least, this was a simple inquiry as to their being there. At the most, they would be asked to vacate. If that happened, Hamm would have no choice but to wake her up to get the keys from her.
A lone figure opened the driver’s side door. Leaving it ajar, he walked around his patrol car. Seeing the word “sheriff” emblazoned on the side of the vehicle, Hamm knew he was most probably being confronted by a deputy, and he kept his hands in plain sight.
The officer gave a nod. “Good evening, sir. Do you have any ID on you?”
Hamm held out his badge and identification, which included his photo, and waited for the man’s look of surprise as he scanned it.
“Are you alone, sir?” the man inquired.
“No, sir. I have a fellow officer sleeping in the rear.”
The deputy shone his flashlight into the vehicle’s interior where he could see the blanket and pillow on the extra bed. The man froze for a second, and Hamm knew he’d seen the gun.
“Sir, are you carrying a weapon?”
“Not on me. My service pistol is on the counter. But, yes, I’m armed. So is my partner.”
The guy relaxed slightly, but he still needed answers. “Can I ask why you’re here in Bingham?”
Hamm almost asked what state they were in, but held off. “We’re on our way to Colorado.”
“No. It’s related to a case.”
The man flashed his light over the motor home. “Mighty odd way to travel. Wouldn’t flying get you there sooner?”
“My partner has a phobia against flying.” It wasn’t the whole truth, but it was the truth.
The deputy took Hamm’s ID from him. “Mind if I check this out?”
“Go right ahead.”
“Please remain where you are, sir. Don’t move.” The man returned to his vehicle where he called in to verify Hamm’s identification. As Hamm listened and waited, he heard a rustling behind him.
“What’s going on?” Wryn softly whispered over his shoulder. She was so close, he knew they’d touch if he leaned back slightly. Resisting the urge to look at her, he kept his eyes on the officer.
“The deputy wanted to know why we’re parked here.”
“I figured. I’ve had that happen a couple of times.” She yawned, and her warm breath blew across his bare back. It sent a wave of goosebumps down his skin.
After another minute or two, the deputy walked back over to the motor home and returned Hamm’s ID to him. “You check out.” He eyed Wryn. “Are you Wrynter Poe?”
To answer him, she held out her ID. Instead of taking it from her, he shined his flashlight on it to give it a cursory glance. The FBI logo seemed to make an impression on him. “How long were you planning on staying?”
“Just for the night. We’ll be moving on in the morning.”
The man nodded and finally smiled. “Well, it was nice meeting you. Have a good night.”
“’Night, sir,” Wryn called out to the departing figure.
They watched as the patrol car turned off its lights, then pulled away. Hamm turned to go back inside, when a hand lightly rested on his bicep. Stunned by this unexpected contact, he lifted his eyes to find hers intently studying him. For nearly a full minute they stood there, neither of them moving as they stared into each other’s faces. Then, with a sigh, Wryn withdrew her hand and walked back to the rear bedroom without saying a word.
By the time Hamm closed and locked the front door, she had disappeared inside and closed that door. He knew she’d been reading him. Maybe testing him. He wondered what she’d discovered.
Reluctantly, he returned to his makeshift bed, the memory of her hand on his arm burning like a brand.