Geeze. Sometimes when people don’t want to be found they really don’t want to be found. It’s a Saturday. I should be at C’est La Vino, sipping wine while hanging out with a friend or reading a book or doing anything that isn’t climbing through the woods in Vermont, probably covering every inch of exposed skin in poison ivy.
I slap a tickle on my neck and cringe when my hand comes away with the remains of a bug on it. Gross. I can’t believe I’m doing this. But I am. Because I need to see it through. Granted, I’m not a trained PI or wilderness tracker. They probably could have found Robert Logan and his cabin in the middle of nowhere far faster. But there’s nothing like a person knowing you’re desperate for money to pressure you into a job you’re not prepared for.
David Logan wants to find his son. He says it’s because he wants Robert to come to Samuel Logan’s wedding. He skipped his youngest brother Thomas’s. But I’m not dumb enough to believe that’s the only reason. Logan Sr. isn’t sentimental.
The real reason is that Robert is his oldest son, and there’s that thing between rich men and their sons. They want the oldest to take over the family business, whether or not they have any interest—as Robert clearly doesn’t.
When you’re a part of a family like the Logan’s, you don’t just vanish. And yet Robert did. It’s been almost a year since the family saw him last, and it’s taken a few months for me to get this far. Now I’m hiking in the middle of nowhere, searching for this cabin, and not having any fun at all.
But it’s worth it. I need the money. God, do I need the finder’s fee on this man, even though for anyone else it would probably be ten times higher. But I can’t afford to wait for that kind of fee. My reputation and former life are waiting, I just need enough money to buy it back. To exonerate myself.
I look ahead through the trees, and I think I see something. What looks like maybe a glint of metal. Please, for the love of God, let it be the cabin.
It’s not the cabin, but it is a pick-up truck. A big one. “Are you kidding me?” I say to the air as I step out of the tree line. Sitting right there is a clearly lined drive snaking away down the hill to my right.
Go fucking figure. I looked for a road for a couple of hours. The turn off must be so well hidden that you have to know it’s there to find it. That, or I’m just so bad at this outdoorsy stuff that it was right in front of my face the whole time. But I guess it doesn’t matter, I’m here. I pause for a second, wiping the sweat off my forehead. I should make at least a decent impression when I show up randomly at his door.
I hear a chopping sound as I walk closer to the house. It echoes down the hill. So someone is chopping here. I assume it’s Robert, but no one has seen him for months. For all I know, someone could live here with him. For a second I think I should just go around the house and say hello, but I don’t think surprising someone wielding an axe is a good idea. Somehow I don’t think someone who went to all this trouble to disappear likes surprise guests.
Instead, I walk to the door. There’s no knocker or doorbell. Why would there be? I take my water bottle instead. It’s metal, and probably loud enough to get noticed. Taking a deep breath, I bang on the door. It takes a couple of tries before the chopping falls into silence. I bang again, and I hear another door open, and rough, hard footsteps approaching before the door in front of me flies open and there’s Robert. And…oh my God.
I recognize him from his pictures, but none of the photographs did him justice. Especially since he’s standing in front of me half-naked. That’s right, Robert Logan isn’t wearing a shirt, his skin is shining with sweat, and he’s still holding the axe. I have to force my eyes upward away from his chest and stomach because I’ve never seen a body like his and it makes me think thoughts I shouldn’t be thinking about the man I’m bounty-hunting.
“Who the fuck are you?” His voice is dark and rough—exactly what you’d imagine coming from the image standing in front of me.
My mouth is completely dry and now that I’m here, I’m having trouble finding the words I’ve practiced for months. This is really not how I imagined this moment would go. “My name is Anna Collins,” I say.