Nigel was a little surprised at June’s openness and candour. All the reports he’d read indicated she had strong barriers and armour, (which he’d been privy to during their first encounter) no doubt a self defence mechanism. She’d was a
One nasty incident
She’d certainly given him the once over and the look on her face during their first meeting wasn’t one of gratitude respect or acceptance but of deep weariness.
They’d covered two miles walking side by side and as he searched the left side of the trail, she searched the right so they covered ground faster. He’d known the moment she stepped onto the grid and he’d been right about her. She was very capable, and as an artist and writer, her attention to detail was obvious.
“You known Jackson long?”
“Years. My brother and Jackson were pretty much inseparable from the instant they met.”
“So they’re pretty close then.”
“Jackson’s family.” June turned and looked over at him a question on her face.
“Jackson ever pulled any pranks or the like on Roland?”
“Oh, silly little things, hiding his favourite shirt, squeezing the tube of toothpaste dry, silly little things pretty much not worth mentioning.”
“He ever go for anything bigger?”
“Your brother strikes me as incredibly able. I doubt he could be taken in easily. Yeah?”
“Someone, a personal best friend, might though.”
June stopped dead in her tracks. “What exactly are you implying, Nigel?”
“I have to cover all the possibilities, June. It could be a hoax, foul play, an accident or something else.”
“Let me get this straight, you aren’t considering the possibility that Jackson has something to do with their disappearance, are you? Why? What possible motive could he have? They’ve been friends forever, he’s wealthy, he’s as capable as Roland at everything out doors. Where are you coming from on this?”
“Nowhere in particular. It just seems odd that one, your brother is an avid hiker and photographer, has mad skills, wouldn’t
“Your right on that, he wouldn’t! Ever!”
“We know they left together, just the two of them, but at some point, someone else joined them. We found a third set of footprints.”
“A few miles from the start of their hike. Looks to be male, heavier set than either Roland or Jackson, bigger build. None of the people we’ve questioned remember seeing him but they remember seeing Roland and Jackson leave together, joking and laughing.”
“So you have no idea who that would be?”
“They ever meet up with someone else?”
“Not usually. If they took a team with them, it was set up in advance, planned in detail.”
“So it’s likely this individual invited himelf along.”
“You think he’s responsible for their disappearance?”
“Too early to tell, but it begs the question why he joined and whether they willingly accepted his presence.”
“You suspect something sinister then?!”
Nigel wasn’t sure how to answer her. Then he went for broke. “Yeah. I’m sorry, I do.”
June reacted as though she’d been body slammed. He waited until she caught her breath before continuing with his theory.