Deleted Scene 5: Surveillance

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Ned stripped off all of his clothes and stood naked on the shore of the lake. The sun had retreated behind the trees, and the water glimmered black in the shadow of the forest. He strode purposely forward and at knee-depth, dove into the chilly water. When his head broke the surface, he gave it a quick shake then wiped the water from his face. He ran his hands over his arms and then behind his ears, shedding dirt and grime.

He rubbed his skin all over and then glided toward shore, chilled. Maybe tomorrow he’d go use the campground showers, but it wasn’t worth the effort tonight; he was going back to work on the tunnel soon. He picked up the towel he’d snagged from the clothesline last night and vigorously scrubbed his skin dry. Then he donned the clean jeans and shirt he’d stolen. Not a bad fit.

He felt all right.

At the cellar, he cracked the trap door and slipped his dirty clothes inside. Then, clearing the brush from the dirt bike, he climbed on and headed for the main park drive. In this age of cell phones, pay phones with attached phone books were rare. He figured the park visitor center was a good place to start for information, and certainly nearer than a public library.

Fifteen minutes later he strode from the visitor center with a phone number and a hand-drawn map to Rainbow Resort. He’d poured on the charm and the woman was more than happy to help him. As he’d suspected, the resort was close by.

He switched the bike off as he turned into the drive designated by a roadside sign, and coasted down the gravel road. The sun was long gone from the sky and though open areas retained some visibility, shadows beneath the trees had reached out and joined together. He leaned the bike up against an unoccupied cottage and faded into the night, taking care to stay out of the pools of light shed by the resort’s floodlights.

A bonfire immediately drew his attention as he prowled the grounds between the lake and cottages. A large oak tree provided a hidden spot to stop and let his eyes adjust while he studied the group surrounding the fire. As details became clear with his extraordinary night vision, Ned identified at least six women and two small kids. He’d found the right people.

A sound to his left made him instinctively take a step behind the tree he’d been leaning against. Two people strode past him and approached the fire. As the orange glow lit the two faces, Ned recognized the girl from the park. The guy she was with was new though—and definitely not family.

When they sat down on the swing together he guessed the boy must be her boyfriend. A couple of creases in Ned’s forehead deepened as he watched the happy scene. What bothered him wasn’t the couple on the swing, it was the kids. When Honey told him she was pregnant he’d been ecstatic. He wanted kids, a family—a normal life.

What kind of person lied about being pregnant?

A bitch.

Ned glowered at the scene. He’d found the right place. Maybe if everyone left tomorrow he could break in and search the cottage. His instructions were clear: the girl had something he needed to retrieve.