Enemy Zone (Trident Rescue #1) by Alex Lidell

1





Sky





“New chick, it’s your lucky day,” Frank Peterson booms through Denton Uncovered’s messy newsroom. My new boss is loud enough to wake the dead, despite my being five feet away.

I force my face into a polite smile as Frank saunters toward me, his shoulders not quite filling in his sport jacket. I long to remind him I’m a twenty-three-year-old woman with a journalism degree, not a girl or a chick or whatever, but I don’t. New boss. New paper. First day. Denton Uncovered—a tabloid in remote Denton Valley, Colorado—isn’t exactly a premier paper, but after the fiasco in New York, it was the only place to give me the time of day. Part time. And I’d sent out dozens of résumés.

“My name is Skylar, Mr. Peterson,” I say. “Skylar Reynolds.”

Frank waves his hands in front of his face as if I’m an irritating mosquito and slaps a sheet with a scribbled address onto my desk. “Story for you!”

Here we go. My heart quickens, but I manage to keep from leaping out of my chair. “Yes, sir.”

Frank nods his approval. “Car accident on the corner of Main and First.”

My smile freezes on my face. Car accident. That’s not a story, that’s a police report.

Frank snorts. “Disappointed?”

Yes. “No, sir. I’m here for whatever Denton Uncovered needs.”

“Excellent. Because it’s not just a car accident, honey.” Frank leans over me, wafting his thickly sweet bug-spray-like cologne right into my personal space. Hell, maybe it is bug spray. I try not to gag. The fluorescent overhead lighting makes his bald spot shine as he moves, squaring off both hands in the air as if framing a picture. “Driver’s rumored to be Mr. Mason of Mason Pharmaceuticals, aka a lush, drunk more often than sober. Except you wouldn’t know that from his record—money talks in this town. If you hurry, maybe you can get through before he pays off the cops and walks free.”

Well, now Frank’s got my attention. There’s something that twists my gut at knowing that some rich asshole is paying off his DUIs. There are some things money should not be able to buy.

“On it, sir,” I say, already grabbing the key to my aging Toyota Corolla and begging the car gods that it actually makes it to the scene. I won’t have money to fix it until the first paycheck comes in, and that’s not for a few weeks with Frank’s payroll setup. Might not be enough even then. I took this job to build up field experience, but I’ll need to find a second one quickly if I want to eat.

I give the office one last glance. The photographer, James Dyer, bustles out the frosted door while Frank and I are talking, so I assume whatever he’s going out for has nothing to do with my story. Patrick Capaldi, the veteran sportswriter, is busy typing into his laptop behind me. I turn when the clicking of his fingers stops, and catch a smirk. Or at least I think I do. It’s gone as soon as I see it.

Weird.

But maybe I’m being paranoid. Scratch that. I know I’m being paranoid. But after the shit my ex-fiancé and his marine buddies pulled in New York, I can’t help it. While there are other female employees, I’m the lone female reporter. Still, I have no reason to believe that anyone here is misogynistic—for all his talk, Frank did hire me. I’ve had enough of that men-stick-together shit to last me a lifetime. Two lifetimes.

This is my fresh start.

My car mercifully starts on the second try, and I’m soon on Denton Valley’s main throughway. Denton Valley, Colorado, is nestled—as its name suggests—in a valley, the rugged snowcapped peaks of the Southern Rocky Mountains surrounding it like a scarf. The effect is one of protection, similar to a favorite pair of thick woolen socks. Or at least that’s the way I’m thinking about it. As I head toward the crash, I’m a little unsettled by the dense green—turning autumn orange—forest that encroaches from the side of the highway. This town isn’t tiny, but it’s nothing like my old stomping grounds in Brooklyn.

The road is curvy as hell, with the occasional deer deciding that of all the times to run across the road, doing so while I’m driving is ideal. With all my time in New York, I’m not exactly Fast and Furious when it comes to driving. Thankfully, it’s fall, so I don’t have to deal with icy road conditions. Yet. I can handle this. I can handle anything.

Exiting off the highway, I enter the more familiar-to-me urban area. The road flares and flashing lights guide me the final few hundred yards to the accident, both the red and blue ones of the ambulance as well as the amber lights of a tow truck. The vic’s car—a Cadillac Escalade that seems pristine except for missing its front half—seems to have been wrapped around a tree.