As they sat drinking coffee, she watched Nigel digested every bit of information lifting his eyes to look at her only once.

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As they sat drinking coffee, she watched Nigel digested every bit of information lifting his eyes to look at her only once. Finally, he closed the notebook and handed it back, “Roland was clearly enjoying himself and from the sounds of it, so was Jackson which makes the ramblings stand out as mean in nature, hinting at something but I’m not sure what or whom.”

“Yeah, that was my take too.”

“Almost makes me think the writer had a grudge and an axe to grind.”

June stared directly into his eyes. “Agreed.”

They settled in as they’d done the previous night listening to the quiet serenity surrounding them. Finally, June asked out of curiosity, “Do you have time for hobbies or other interests besides work?  I ask because I imagine work takes up a considerable amount of your time.”

“People watching. Everywhere I go, whatever else I’m doing. People fascinate me.” He continued, “I play a bit of a guessing game by watching their interactions with family friends and others.”

“What have you found out?”

“That while everyone we meet wears a mask, some are more obvious than others. Those with little to hide, comfortable in their skin, don’t tend to hide as much.”

His thoughts turned to the woman sitting beside him.  June was a determined woman; her commitment absolute and Nigel was impressed with her character.  She was beautiful, her rich auburn hair and emerald green eyes were set in an exquisitely elfin face and she obviously worked out (hiking being one of her outlets) and he was attracted. He hadn’t allowed himself to become involved or even attracted to a woman in ages, primarily because his job took him away for extended periods of time.  Few women could or would understand and accept his dedication and commitment to his job, ultimately feeling second best, thereby dooming the relationship.

She couldn’t resist asking, “So, based on this talent of yours, what have you surmised about me?”

“You’re a bit of a people watcher yourself.  You are very aware of your surroundings which I suspect relates to the artist in you.  I’d say you see the reality as well as the beauty in things and you have a calm nature.”

June laughed. ” I’d say that’s a pretty accurate characterization. How did you know I’m an artist?”

“I checked. Turn around is fair play,” he suggested.

“Well, you strike me as very intelligent and good at what you do. You size people up quickly but let little of your inner thoughts and emotions show unless you feel it’s necessary or warranted. I watched you in action at our first meet. Although you were cautious with your words and what might have happened with Roland and Jackson you weren’t shy about assuring everyone regarding your capabilities before confirming your dedication when you said you wouldn’t quit until you found them, and you did so while looking directly into everyone’s eyes. You didn’t back down when the difficult questions were asked, but you managed to couch your response so as not to worry the vulnerable. You care.”

“Right on all counts.”

“Comes from training, being a cop,” he admitted. They sat silently for a little while before turning in to prepare for another early start.

Unfortunately, the following day ended similarly with no new results which had June feeling somewhat deflated when they’d had to stop.  Later that night after tucking in, sleep eluded June.  Realizing it was a futile endeavour, she got up and joined Nigel at the fire. She couldn’t shake the feeling they were being watched.

“Can’t sleep?”

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Sun Feb 9 , 2020
Mirth tickled the corners of her mouth.

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