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OWL’S SILENT STRIKE
A Gabriel Hawke Novel Book 9
BY PATY JAGER
And a body…
What started out as a favor and a leisurely trip into the mountains, soon turns State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s life upside down. The snowstorm they were trying to beat comes early, a horse accident breaks Dani Singer’s leg, and Hawke finds a body in the barn at Charlie’s Lodge.
Hawke sets Dani’s leg, then follows the bloody trail of a suspect trying to flee the snow drifted mountains. Hawke is torn between getting the woman he loves medical care and knowing he can’t leave a possible killer on the mountain.
Before the killer is brought to justice, Dani and Hawke will put their relationship to the test and his job on the line.
Hawke set down the pack and took a drink of water as he scanned the trees ahead of him. He’d been following the vague indentions in the snow all afternoon. He only had another half hour to forty-five minutes before the sun would be gone. He’d have to rely on his flashlight and keep going until his legs gave out.
He’d told Dani he’d be back by Thursday noon at the latest. He didn’t want her left alone longer than that or she’d come looking for him, broken leg or not. That was the problem with being in a relationship with a tough, determined woman. They didn’t always do what was best for them.
Dog trotted over to a tree, sniffed, and sat down.
“What did you find?” Hawke put the lid back on his canteen and shouldered his pack. He walked over, studying the ground and the bark on the tree. Twelve to eighteen inches of bare ground could be seen around the base of the two feet in diameter pine tree. The snow tapered down in depth the closer he walked to the tree. Something had bedded down here the night before. A dark spot on the ground drew Hawke’s attention.
He knelt on one knee and pressed a finger of his leather glove on the spot. Studying the residue on his glove, he determined it was blood. That must have been what Dog had smelled that drew him to the tree. The man’s wound was bleeding enough to leave a visual trail and to slow the man down as he weakened from the blood loss.
“Let’s see if we can find his trail.” Hawke rose to his feet but walked stooped over, shining his flashlight on the snow, looking for…there it was, a small pink dot. The snow had diluted the drop. “Looks like he left this way.”
Dog sniffed the pink quarter-sized spot and walked out in front of Hawke.
Using the beam of the flashlight, sweeping across the snow, he caught sight of the next drop as Dog stopped to sniff. Dog’s nose was following the drops better than Hawke and the flashlight.
The thought he could catch up to the suspect kept him going long after he’d planned to stop. Finally, Hawke called Dog back to him, and found a spot under a tree to rest his legs, fill his stomach, and catch a few hours of sleep. He hoped Dani was behaving herself.
Dani shoved a piece of wood into the fireplace with the pitchfork and leaned back, biting her bottom lip from the pain in her leg. Every time she leaned or reached it made the leg hurt. But they would be stuck on this mountain if she couldn’t prove to Hawke she was ready to travel when he came back.
That determination had her taking two more painkillers and moving to the edge of the bed. She grabbed the crutches Hawke made for her to use when she needed to go to the bathroom and instead, walked across the room and back, before collapsing on the bed. She was going to make it to the kitchen and back by the time he returned.
A sound outside had her reaching for the Beretta she’d slipped into her coat pocket when Hawke left. If there was someone still hanging around, she’d make sure he was here for Hawke to question. She stared at the door until her eyes blurred and she fell asleep with her hand on the weapon.
Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 53 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it. This is what Books a Plenty Book Reviews has to say about the Gabriel Hawke series: “The blend of nature tracking, clues, and the animals makes for a fascinating mystery that is hard to put down.”
Links to Paty’s website, blog, books, #ad etc.:
Also available here:
Newsletter- Mystery: https://bit.ly/2IhmWcm
TokTok – www.tiktok.com/@patyjag
Thanks, Paty, for sharing your story with us!
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