Deep ExtractionBy: DiAnn Mills
Shauna A. Dunlap, special agent/media coordinator, Houston FBI—Through every FBI novel, you’ve graciously answered questions and guided me in the right direction. I appreciate your friendship.
Lynette Eason—Thank you for your friendship and all the fabulous Skype brainstorming sessions!
Beau Egert—Your experience and knowledge in the oil and gas industry helped me create a realistic story.
Julie Garmon—Thanks so much for your willingness to read my stories and give me fabulous feedback.
Dr. Richard Mabry—I couldn’t write a single novel without your expertise and experience in the medical field.
Edie Melson—Our long talks and time spent together helped me discover so many things about my characters.
Alycia Morales—Your support and encouragement in the final stages of this book provided insight and the ability to finish on time.
Tom Morrisey—Thank you for sharing your knowledge about weapons and how they work. Over the years of writing, you’ve never declined my need for help.
Donna Rice, attorney and writer—I appreciate your help in writing the legal sections. Lost without your expertise.
Kathi Wilson—Your real estate assistance gave my characters homes in the best neighborhoods west of Houston.
ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN while the dead slept. Which was why some would say a woman shouldn’t tread alone through a cemetery at 2:55 on a Tuesday morning in April. But possible danger had never stopped Houston FBI Special Agent Tori Templeton, especially when her mind marched with determination. Her body refused to give in to rest, but it wasn’t a violent crime robbing her of sleep.
The worn path below a black sky ended at Kevin’s gravesite. She was here to visit the one person who could help her make sense of a puzzling world.
Tonight, like many nights in the past, she made her way to Kevin’s final resting place to talk to him about work, life, problems, and victories. Maybe someday she’d figure out his intrigue with God.
Her brother. Her friend. The one she looked up to and treasured.
Tori didn’t stalk a cemetery because of some superstition that he lay beneath a marble stone and could communicate with her. She visited the site because it signified peace. Maybe by a weird osmosis, she’d find what had given Kevin strength. She wanted to believe he lived pain-free with his God. No cancer. No side effects of chemo and radiation. An eternal home with a God he embraced tighter than life. At least he’d claimed those beliefs before he breathed his last.
“Special Agent Templeton?”
At the sound of the voice, a twinge of annoyance filled her spirit. The man greeting her was a friend, except she wanted to be alone. No need to face him. “Yes, Officer Richards.”
“Saw your car, thought I’d check on you.”
“I’m a creature of habit.”
“I noticed. Nothing’s stirring, so I’ll leave you to your thoughts.”
The sadness in his voice drew up a well of compassion, and she turned to him. “Wait. How’s your family?” The man walked the graveyard shift—literally—and he might need a listening ear more than she should ponder the existence of a good God in a world plagued with unrest.
“The same. Ups and downs mixed with hardheads and love.” He sighed and scanned the area. “Nice night.”
A familiar insect’s call reached her ears. “We have a choir.” She smiled into the shadows, where a light, twenty feet away, illuminated his stocky frame and highlighted his silver-gray hair, giving him a halo effect. She stared above his head at a slice of the moon resting on a canvas of stars.
“Cicadas are to the night as robins are to the day.”
“Well stated,” she said. “I never pay attention to them until it’s dark and quiet.” She brushed aside a leaf on Kevin’s gravestone. “We haven’t talked in over a week. Did your son join the Navy?”
“Yes. A good choice. I pray he learns discipline and respect for himself and others.”
He said the pray word. Not what she wanted to hear, and she drew in a breath. “Your daughter?”
“Agreed to rehab. Another prayer answered.”
Kevin had used the same language, and look where it got him. Was her brother’s confidence in a divine being a way to endure the devastation of cancer? A crutch in the midst of excruciating pain? Always the same questions as she searched for the why of tragedies. “How’s your wife?”