At 4:00 p.m., she steered off Highway 68 to the subdivision Rio had suggested as “the best place to run if you want to avoid people and cars, unless you live to suck up carbon monoxide.”
An early winter moon hung over the Rio Grande, its brilliance growing as Darcy eased her 4Runner down the steep hill into the El Mira subdivision. She followed the curve of the road through arid terrain thick with sage and dead wildflowers, their auburn stalks swaying in the gentle breeze. The rutted easement crossed over a wide bridge. Massive steel pipes jutted from both sides of the drainage culvert, and in the bed below the white trunks of a dozen aspens gleamed in the fading winter light.
She cruised through the deserted housing tract, the streets bladed and named, utilities to the lot lines, but few homes. No wonder Rio suggested this as a good place to run.
Darcy parked on a slight rise that overlooked the highway and climbed out. Cold air nipped at her. She shoved her hands into fleece-lined gloves and zipped her jacket. What a shame to leave Bullet behind. He loved these runs as much as she did, no matter the weather, but she thought it best for him to stay with Rio in case Green showed.
She warmed up with a fast walk, the distant whoosh of highway traffic barely audible as she reached the end of the lane. What a pleasant change these dirt easements were from the concrete byways of San Francisco. Nothing was above her but blue-gray sky and nothing around her but silence, eerie yet welcome. And unlike the smoke-laden air in town, the air here was flavored only with the faint spice of live piñon.
The high-pitched whistle of a bird of prey alerted her to his presence. She glanced up. A hawk soared overhead, swooped down, and disappeared. In his place, a jet streaked across the heavens, a white contrail in its wake. But her tranquil mood faded as Darcy jogged up Harmony Court, a street littered with construction debris. She jumped piles of loose PVC scattered in the roadway, dodged spools of electrical wire, and ran around concrete pipes. No matter where she went, she couldn’t escape man’s trash. The upside was that Harmony Court paralleled the snowcapped Sangre de Cristo Mountains, their emerald backs dusted in white. The closer she drew to the mountains, the thicker the vegetation. Sage gave way to dense piñon and juniper, the branches laden with ice. Her steady lope broke into a lung-bursting sprint.
She looped the cul-de-sac, her head slightly bowed, searching for cable or glass. Blue flashed from the corner of her eye. She whipped her head sideways. A man jogged toward her. He wore jeans and a blue parka. He yanked off his cap. Andrew. She came to an abrupt stop, almost tripping over her own feet.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish