Senior Deputy Delmar Johnson, startled at a tapping sound, darted a look around his shadowed office.
Just the rain … or the wind. There it was again. Like someone’s knocking to get in. His scalp prickling, he pushed back from his desk. Remaining seated, he interlaced his long fingers and reached overhead to stretch his back.
Still, he couldn’t shake his feeling of foreboding. Highway 1 stretched past his window, a slick ribbon of asphalt devoid of traffic. He’d stayed in his office long enough that now it was dark outside. Daylight hours had grown short, and December rains doused the Central Coast much of the day—again.
Television journalist Christine Christian was still listed as a missing person. Hate to think of anyone stuck out in this weather … living … or dead. Plenty of people in the “Missing” files. Seven weeks, now, and no one seems to know what’s happened to the popular broadcaster.
According to the satellite station where she had a contract, Christian had planned to drive north to the Bay Area to do seismic research for a few days. Then she’d been scheduled to fly to Tokyo from the local airport. That makes sense … study earthquakes in San Francisco, and in Japan. She’d never made her flight, however, and never turned up anywhere else.
When her boss reported her missing, the sheriff’s department had checked her Santa Maria condo, but found nothing amiss, and her rent paid for months in advance. Her car wasn’t at her residence and hadn’t been discovered at the airport.
Though there were no real leads, Del did have a police sketch of an unnamed man who’d visited Sally’s Restaurant in Milford-Haven. Owner Sally O’Mally herself had seen and talked to this guy, who’d said at the time he was looking for the journalist. But circulation of both that sketch and Christine’s photograph, had yielded nothing further, at which point the case had been filed away. Officially, Del had let it go. Yet something about the case wouldn’t let go of him.
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