The leaves shivered around her in a faint breath of icy air. Rayanna drew the borrowed coat to a close around her chest, gathering its worn fabric in her fist. “Lethean?”
Officer Bowery’s flashlight beam bobbed over the uneven terrain ahead. “If you’ve got a better name for yourself, I’m listening.” As the trail wound down the mountainside, the weakening light splashed against trunks on its banks.
“It’s just so philosophical. Not what I’d expect from–”
“From a stupid cop?” His broad shoulders stiffened as he stomped through a thick bed of dry brush.
“No offense, uh, officer.” Rayanna chewed her lip.
He snorted. “Yeah, why would I take offense?”
“Well, you have to admit Greek mythology isn’t a topic most people bring up in random conversation.” She peeled aside a pine branch and sidled around a decayed stump. “So forgive me if I found it odd coming from someone other than a college professor.”
“Hmph. So you assume.” Thorn bushes encroached upon the sides of the trail as it grew steeper, narrowing the path into a crooked, treacherous gullet. “Watch your step.”
“Are you saying you’re a professor and a cop? How could I have been expected to know that, or even guess?” She dared only a few glances up at Bowery’s silhouette as she picked her steps along the root-muscled slope.
“I wouldn’t expect you to know. But assumptions put everyone at risk. Things aren’t always what they seem. People most of all.” He paused.
To halt her downward momentum before crashing into his back, she grabbed the scaly wrist of a young tree. “What’s wrong?”
“That’s exactly my concern.” He spun to face her. “Do you hear that?”
*** TO BE CONTINUED ***