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Secret Triplets

By:Holly Rayner

s hooded, gray, lifeless eyes weren’t helping either. He had no wrinkles to indicate his age however, except for a strangely prominent crease in the middle of his forehead.

“Are you?” His high, cold voice snapped me back to life.

I nodded dumbly.

“Yeah. I…that’s me.”

He eyeballed me dubiously, his liquid gaze rolling over my try-hard black and navy business suit, then my hopelessly blond hair.

“Come in,” I said before he could run away.

I opened the door, and, at the sight of my dismal little office, his doubtful expression became downright disappointed.

“You have worked in the industry…for a while?” he asked.

“Yes.” I flopped into my chair, making the thing almost fall over altogether.

I gestured to the mauve-cushioned wooden chair which he only stared at.

This was my first client in months; I couldn’t mess this up!

I jumped up, and the words flew out of my mouth. “Okay, here’s the deal. Those guys over there—Private Investigations—I can tell you right now, they can give you a better rate and more guys working on your case.”

The man squinted at me as if trying to see if I was joking.

I took another deep breath and plowed on. “But they don’t have what I do: six years of experience in the field, a passion that keeps me working on cases until the wee hours of the morning, and a doggedness that doesn’t stop until it gets results.”

He was still staring at me, his face unmoved.

“I know I don’t look like much,” I said, “but I can promise you this: I will work until your case is solved or you can have your money back. You have my word.”

At this, his eyebrows raised and stayed raised. Then he took a sweeping look around the room that ended on me. Abruptly, he slid into the chair.

“You have my attention,” he said.

I collapsed back onto my own chair, trying not to look as relieved as I felt.

“So, tell me a bit about yourself,” I said. “What is it you’d like looked into?”

“I’m Russell Snow. I’m trying to track down someone dangerous. Very dangerous. Really, an unhinged criminal.”

He searched my face for a reaction that I tried not to give. If he saw just what I was thinking, he might have left entirely. Why was this guy coming to me instead of the police for help with finding a so-called “unhinged criminal”?

“Okay,” I said.

He continued. “His name is Brock Anderson. I want evidence of his criminal activities so I can hand him over to the police.”

Each statement was a smooth sliding-out of syllables, after which his gaze scanned my face for their absorption. Finally, he finished up with, “So that’s your job. Follow him and get evidence.”

I nodded.

“Those ‘private investigators’ across the street were useless. What about you?”

He scanned my face, and I scanned his.

With that white hair and unsettling face, the name Russell Snow fit. It fit too well, I’d say. It was probably fake. There was something off about this request, this guy, all of it, and yet I was in no position to refuse any job.

“Okay,” I found myself saying. “I’ll do it. Just tell me what to look for and I’ll get to work. What evidence should I be on the lookout for?”

A half smile slid onto his lips and then fell.

“You’ll know it when you see it.”

My next scan of his face revealed nothing; it was lowered, focused on his phone as he texted. He was apparently under the impression that he had told me enough, when really he had basically given me nothing to go off.

“So what about you? What is your relation to this case, this Brock Anderson? Can you give me anything else to go off?”

He didn’t look up from his phone, only shook his head and said “no.”

Right, now this guy was getting on my nerves.

“And my fees, $50 an hour, you’re okay with that?” I said, and he nodded and waved a bony hand in an unconcerned figure eight.

“Won’t be a problem. I’ll pay $2,000 at least, more if it takes longer.”

And then he sat there, texting away, forgetting me entirely. As if he hadn’t just made an insanely lavish offer.

I stood up.

“Well, thank you for your time, Mr.…Snow. I will get to work on your case immediately and give you updates on my progress every few days.”

I held out my hand, but he only glanced up, nodded again, and then, after a good minute more of texting, rose and shook it.

“Work business” was his explanation before sweeping away.

At the door, he paused and grabbed my hand again.

“Miss Combs. Can’t stress discretion enough. We’ll be in touch.”

I found myself yanking my hand out of his iron, cold grasp. Then he was gone, leaving an even worse feeling behind him, an insidious uneasiness.

I watched him glide down the hallway and disappear down the stairs.

What had I gotten myself into?

Chapter Two

I raced back into my office with a twist of excited apprehension in my gut. Regardless of how sketchy this guy seemed, I had agreed to do his job, so now I had a job to do. A job. An actual job! I didn’t bother glancing at the clock. It didn’t matter what time it was. All that mattered was that, for the first time in a long time, I had a job.

My tracking didn’t start out well. The first internet search of “Brock Anderson” brought up over 18 million entries. The next, with quotation marks around “Brock Anderson,” generated a more manageable but still numerous 27,900. Nonetheless, I methodically scanned through the results, from a soda company’s Corporate Ergonomics Manager to the gangster-looking baseball player to the stud football jock to the porky child on Twitter who liked baseball too. But of all the pictures I scoured, none of them matched the description, and the subjects didn’t live anywhere near Boulder.

Searching “Brock Anderson Boulder” proved more promising; it brought up a site, which provided 99 entries of people apparently named Brock Anderson near Boulder. Luckily, only half or so mentioned no age or an age in the 3