She did so without hope and the engine caught. Not smiling at her shouted thanks, he unhooked and closed the hood before finally coming around to her window. "It doesn't look like anything major," he said, "but if you intend to drive through more of the West Coast, you should have a mechanic check it out."
It was good advice; these roads were exacting. It wasn't that they were in bad condition—for being in the middle of nowhere, the roads were just fine. But they were empty. Long stretches of nothing but wilderness and water; break down in one of those areas and there was no guarantee anyone would come along for hours. As for cell signals, the mountains played havoc with them.
"I'm going to the Cove," she told him. "Does Peter still work in the garage?" Maybe her old schoolmate had gone on to bigger and better things by now.
Raising an eyebrow, the cop nodded. "It's not tourist season. You here to do a retreat with Shane Hennessey?"
Josie had told Anahera about the famed Irish writer who'd relocated to Golden Cove. "No," Anahera said. "I'm coming home. Thank you again." She rolled up the window before he could ask any more questions.
But this man, he wasn't someone she could simply ignore. He knocked on the glass politely after taking off his sunglasses to reveal slate gray eyes as dark as the clouds gathering on the horizon.
When she lowered her window a fraction, he said, "I'll follow behind you, make sure you get in okay."
"Knock yourself out," she said, not certain why she was being so antagonistic to someone who'd helped her.
Maybe it was knowing she was driving back into the past. She pulled out.
In the rearview mirror, she saw the cop take his time getting into his vehicle. Then she turned the corner and he was gone. But his SUV reappeared behind her soon enough, and then their party of two made its way into a town founded on a golden illusion.
The miners had thought they'd find gold here, find riches, find a future. Instead, they'd found nothing but a harsh and unforgiving landscape with water as treacherous as the rocks that crushed so many of them one after the other.
Will followed the unfamiliar vehicle through the heavily tree- shadowed road that led into Golden Cove. There was nowhere else to go from this point.
The town's self-appointed business council might have managed to get up a few signs, but come winter and even those signs wouldn't help those new to the area find the place Will had called home for the past three months. It wasn't surprising that he didn't recognize the dark-eyed woman with wavy black hair and striking cheekbones that pushed against skin of midbrown.
The skin was smooth but the eyes old.
Late twenties or very early thirties, he guessed, likely a child of Golden Cove who'd lit out of here the instant she was legal and who was returning to pay a visit to a parent or grandparent. You'd think with the town's younger residents almost universally restless, just itching to leave, the place would be a retirement village—but that was the strange thing with Golden Cove. It seemed to draw back its prodigals.
Peter Jacobs, the garage owner she'd mentioned, had spent six years working for a Formula One team and traveling the world before he landed back in the Cove. When asked why he'd given up his glamorous life in favor of running the family garage with his aging father and resentful younger brother, he just shrugged and said that a man got tired of Ferraris and wanted to return to the ocean.
Peter, however, had only been back for less than a year, and yet the woman with the car trouble had asked if Peter was "still" working in the garage, which meant she'd last been in Golden Cove at least seven years earlier.
Will's eyes narrowed: the woman and Peter might even be the same age or close to it. Could be they'd been schoolmates. And what, he asked himself, did it all matter? It wasn't as if he'd been dumped in Golden Cove to be a detective. He might hold the rank, but he'd been placed here as the community's sole policeman because he'd become a problem for the force—but was too decorated and senior an officer to simply fire. So instead, they'd put him out to pasture in Golden Cove and forgotten about him.
That was fine with Will. Prior to being offered this job, he'd been planning to quit. Since his plan after quitting had involved any remote job he could get his hands on, he'd thought why the hell not just bury himself in a sole-charge station that covered a sprawling geographic area but involved only a very small number of people?
There were far more trees in his patrol area than human residents.