Even in Rem’s wildest dreams, he never would have thought a bomb would bring Bristol Bachmann back into his life. He had been pretty sure he’d never see her again, no matter how much he wished otherwise.
He followed her fast descent down the stairs into the mechanical room, her black Lab easily traversing the narrow, almost ladderlike stairs. How could she suddenly be here, at one of the dams in his charge?
And did she have to be exactly the same as he remembered? She still told it like it was, no matter how much it hurt to hear. Her swinging ponytail revealed she still had the same long, wavy brown hair with hints of mahogany, though he couldn’t see the highlights of color in the murky belly of the dam. That adorable hint of a cleft still nestled in her chin, and her gray-blue eyes drew him in like a magnetic storm cloud.
A cloud that had unloaded on him the last time he’d seen her. The memory of her fury rained on his mental walk down memory lane. He had deserved no less then, but right now he didn’t need her to remind him of his past failures. He lamented those every day as it was. He had enough of a burden to carry today, dealing with a bomb threat on Minnesota’s most famous dam, which happened to be in the heart of Minneapolis.
He rolled his shoulders and shifted his gaze to her dog as he mentally reviewed the evacuation procedures, double-checking he’d done everything he could to get all visitors and staff safely out. Lord, please let this be a hoax. Let there not be any bomb so no one will get hurt.
The dog—Toby, he thought she’d called him—drew Rem’s attention with his ecstatic movements. His floppy ears stayed hiked above his forehead as he smelled along the walls, crevices, around pipes—wherever Bristol directed him to search with her hand, pointing and touching specific items.
Bristol walked quickly to keep up with the fast-moving dog. Energy rippled off Toby, while Bristol was a study in quiet concentration. She had worn that same expression at the academy in classes, drills and during exams, when Rem had watched her instead of doing his work.
It was the look that said no one and nothing was going to distract her from her mission. Even him.
She was so driven. So sure of what she wanted to do with her life. Like his dad. A born cop. Born hero.
“Keep looking for something unusual.” Her voice halted his thoughts. She was actually looking at him. For a second. Then she switched her gaze back to her dog as they moved toward the junction box along the dam’s north wall. “You’ll know it better by sight here than I would. Look up at the walls especially. Toby will have a harder time scenting the explosives if they’re a distance up.”
Rem did as she said, not noticing anything out of the ordinary on the dark, damp walls, other than a few surface cracks he already knew about.
“What would happen if a bomb detonated here? How badly would it damage the dam?”
“Depends on where it is.” The possible grim scenarios running through his head had him silently praying again. If this is real, please help us find it in time. “If it’s close enough to the dam structure to cause a breach, it certainly wouldn’t be good, given how high the river is right now with the snow runoff and spring rains. We’re nearly at record-high water levels.”
He glanced her direction in time to catch her watching him before she turned away. Her ivory-toned skin looked paler in the shadows of the dimly lit mechanical room, but that couldn’t be a reaction to what he’d just said. She’d always had nerves of steel and more guts than most of the guys in training at the academy. Maybe she shared his uncertainty this time. “I’m praying we’ll find the bomb in time or it will turn out to be a hoax.”
She threw him a glance, eyebrows raised. Because he’d mentioned prayer or she didn’t think it was a hoax? She turned away to climb the short metal staircase that led to a raised platform along the wall.
He stayed at the base of the stairs, looking up to watch as concern cinched his throat tighter. The longer they took, the more likely a bomb would go off if there was one. “I’m leaning toward a hoax myself.” He forced a confident tone, hoping she might agree with him and he could relax. “This dam has pretty decent security and safety procedures in place. An unauthorized person would have a tough time getting inside to plant a bomb.”
He stepped away from the stairs to check behind the boiler where Toby had already searched, hoping what he said was right. This dam hadn’t implemented all the security measures he’d suggested, but he hoped what they did have in place had been enough.
“I wasn’t told anything about the caller.” Her voice floated down as she returned to the stairs. “But such threats do often end up being false alarms.”
“I hope you’re right.” Despite the confidence he’d tried to fake, the feeling he’d gotten from the phone call said otherwise. Maybe she needed to know that. He drifted back toward her as she reached the bottom with Toby. “The guy sounded pretty serious, though.”
“You spoke to the caller?” Those blue-gray eyes turned on him for a second, then disappeared as she turned to head for the closed door that led to the hydropower room.
“Not exactly. I only said, ‘Hello,’ and then listened.”
“But he called you?”
“No.” Rem rubbed a hand against the back of his neck. “He called this dam and asked to speak to the person in charge. I was here for a safety meeting, so someone forwarded the call to me.”
“I see. This room is clear.” She paused at the unlocked door and opened it.
He reached above her to hold the door while she went through with Toby into the much louder, larger space that housed hydropower turbines.
“What did the caller say?” She threw the question over her shoulder as Toby pulled her toward the nearest turbine.
Rem extended his stride to keep up. “He said he wanted to unleash the river from its shackles, to let it be free and natural again.”
“An environmental terrorist.”
He barely caught what she’d said as she signaled to Toby to search around the base of the huge turbine. “Sounded like it. Sometimes they don’t want to hurt anyone, but just want to get attention, right? I’m hoping that’s all the guy has in mind and he isn’t really a bomber.”
“You always were optimistic.” Like with their relationship, her sardonic tone implied.
She continued without looking his way for a reaction. “I was told the threat didn’t indicate the location of the device at this dam or number and type. Did you tell Dispatch everything when you called?”
As if he would’ve held information back. Rem pushed his fingers through his hair, reining in irritation. It was his fault her opinion of him was so low. “He only said he was going to start his mission with the Minnesota Falls Dam by blowing it out of the river they never should have tried to hold back.”
She glanced at him as Toby led them to the next turbine. “Is that word for word?”
“Pretty much.” He’d scribbled down the exact words as soon as he’d realized it was a bomb threat.
“So he didn’t say anything about a bomb specifically?”
“No.” Just what was she getting at? That he’d called the police for no reason? “The police seemed to think it qualified as a bomb threat when I called them.”
“Yes, it does. I just hoped he might have given us more to go on, even if unintentionally.”
His irritation cooled as he let her get ahead, disappearing around the turbine with Toby. Why was he being so sensitive?
The answer followed easily enough. Because it was Bristol. And it stung, way down deep, to be reminded of how much he’d damaged her trust in him.
“Jones!” Her shout broke through the machinery noise.
He lurched into a run around the curved turbine wall, stopped when he saw Bristol.
Toby sat in front of her by the turbine, his front paw lifted in the air.
Rem’s gut twisted with the deduction he didn’t want to believe.
Bristol met his gaze. “Toby’s found the bomb.”
(c) Jerusha Agen, Harlequin Books/Love Inspired Trade, 2021. Used with permission by the publisher.
A Thrilling K9 Suspense
It’s up to a K-9 handler and her canine partner to stop a bomber before it’s too late.
Someone’s planting explosives on dams in the Twin Cities, and Bristol Bachmann and her bomb-sniffing dog must move quickly to find them before everything ends up underwater. That means relying on the dams’ supervisor – an ex-boyfriend Bristol never thought she’d see again. Hopefully Remington Jones has grown up from the rakish charmer she knew in her academy days. Because lives now depend entirely on them….
It’s an environmental terrorist who wants the dams gone, and his bid to set the waters free has lethal consequences. When he sees Bristol and her K-9 working to stop him, he sets his sights on them. Can they evade him in a lethal game of cat and mouse and protect the cities from devastating destruction before the clock runs out?
About Jerusha Agen
Jerusha Agen imagines danger around every corner, but knows God is there, too. So naturally, she writes suspense infused with the hope of salvation in Jesus Christ.
With a B.A. in English and a background in screenwriting, Jerusha is a speaker, writing instructor, and Fear Warrior who sounds the call to battle against fear in our everyday lives.
Jerusha loves to hang out with her big furry dogs and little furry cats. You’ll often find her sharing irresistibly adorable photos of them in her newsletter and on social media.