Gwen stopped cold. "Don't tell me you agree with Blair Ramsey? That her husband has not been seen or heard from in over twenty years because he's dead, because he's been murdered." Her voice rose with irritation.
"I'm only saying it's possible."
"And that's why we're here?" Gwen nearly screamed the words. "To track a killer? Do you really think it fair to drag me into one of your hobbyhorse investigations? Leading me along on this birdbrain mission of yours? I should have known better than to think this expedition was for anything as blameless as picking berries. When will I learn?"
"Shh." She grabbed Gwen's arm and peered at the now visible tin-roofed shack a few hundred yards away. Her pulse began to surge with elation. "I feel a bit light-headed."
"It's the altitude."
"Absolutely not." Gwen crossed her arms over her chest. "I am not budging from this thicket."
"Earlier today you agreed that it was good to accept challenges."
"Foolish risks are not healthy challenges." Gwen's nose made a decisive movement upward.
Ada had to agree with Gwen on that point. And perhaps Gwen was right and this was a foolish risk on her part. Felix may have been here on legitimate lumber mill business. And this whole exacting expedition served only as a sign of encroaching senility. After all, she was standing on a mountain four thousand feet above sea level. And she did not really have a good reason for doing so. Did she?
Margaret Zohlar's face flashed before her and she saw again the fear in her eyes, the confusion on her face. She sensed again that threat of emotional collapse, and knew she could not turn her back. She would do what she could! For Margaret's sake, she would not give up until she uncovered the truth.
The sense of duty experienced by brave soldiers, she was sure, now coursed through her veins and compelled her on. She abandoned Gwen to her own stubbornness and began to creep forward through a grouping of pine trees. She ducked and stooped, holding onto her hat with one hand and pushing back branches with the other, gingerly stepping in the direction of the dilapidated shack.
She jerked to a stop. Someone was coming. She heard footsteps crushing through brambles. They were coming closer, but she could not tell from which direction. She listened, her muscles tense, a lump forming in her throat. The footsteps stopped. She dared not twitch. Her heart pounded in her ears.
A scream ripped through the air and echoed across the mountains.