By DiAnn Mills
ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN
while the dead slept. Which was why some
would say a woman shouldn’t tread alone through a cemetery at
2:55 on a Tuesday morning in April. But possible danger had never stopped Houston FBI Special Agent Tori Templeton, especially when her mind marched with determination. Her body refused to give in to rest, but it wasn’t a violent crime robbing her of sleep.
The worn path below a black sky ended at Kevin’s gravesite. She
was here to visit the one person who could help her make sense of
a puzzling world.
Tonight, like many nights in the past, she made her way to
Kevin’s final resting place to talk to him about work, life, problems,
and victories. Maybe someday she’d figure out his intrigue with
Her brother. Her friend. The one she looked up to and treasured.
Tori didn’t stalk a cemetery because of some superstition that he
lay beneath a marble stone and could communicate with her. She
visited the site because it signified peace. Maybe by a weird osmosis,
she’d find what had given Kevin strength. She wanted to believe he
lived pain-free with his God. No cancer. No side effects of chemo
and radiation. An eternal home with a God he embraced tighter
than life. At least he’d claimed those beliefs before he breathed
“Special Agent Templeton?”
At the sound of the voice, a twinge of annoyance filled her spirit.
The man greeting her was a friend, except she wanted to be alone.
No need to face him. “Yes, Officer Richards.”
“Saw your car, thought I’d check on you.”
“I’m a creature of habit.”
“I noticed. Nothing’s stirring, so I’ll leave you to your thoughts.”
The sadness in his voice drew up a well of compassion, and she
turned to him. “Wait. How’s your family?” The man walked the
graveyard shift—literally—and he might need a listening ear more
than she should ponder the existence of a good God in a world
plagued with unrest.
“The same. Ups and downs mixed with hardheads and love.” He
sighed and scanned the area. “Nice night.”
A familiar insect’s call reached her ears. “We have a choir.” She
smiled into the shadows, where a light, twenty feet away, illumi-
nated his stocky frame and highlighted his silver-gray hair, giving
him a halo effect. She stared above his head at a slice of the moon
resting on a canvas of stars.
“Cicadas are to the night as robins are to the day.”
“Well stated,” she said. “I never pay attention to them until it’s
dark and quiet.” She brushed aside a leaf on Kevin’s gravestone. “We
haven’t talked in over a week. Did your son join the Navy?”
“Yes. A good choice. I pray he learns discipline and respect for
himself and others.”
He said the
word. Not what she wanted to hear, and she
drew in a breath. “Your daughter?”
“Agreed to rehab. Another prayer answered.”
Kevin had used the same language, and look where it got him.
Was her brother’s confidence in a divine being a way to endure the
devastation of cancer? A crutch in the midst of excruciating pain?
Always the same questions as she searched for the why of tragedies.
“How’s your wife?”
“Good, thanks. She told me you were welcome to—”
Her phone alerted her to a call. “Excuse me a minute.” She
yanked it from her shirt pocket and confirmed it was Assistant
Special Agent in Charge Ralph Hughes before answering.
“We have a possible homicide,” the ASAC for violent crimes
Her mind spun into agent mode, her job, the only part of her
life where she sensed purpose. “Who and where?”
“Nathan Moore, owner of Moore Oil & Gas, died in his home
ess rambled through her, though she did her best to over-
come it. She’d known Nathan since college days. “What happened?
Why suspect murder?”
“Due to the threats on his life and a call made to his attorney
prior to his death,” the ASAC said.
“What was said in the call?”
“Moore suspected someone was trying to kill him and getting
Tori stared at Kevin’s tombstone and recalled the day she and
Mom selected the blue-gray granite. Now Nathan’s widow faced
the same dilemma. “Are we thinking the environmental activists
are responsible?” Five days ago, one of Nathan’s drill sites had been
bombed—possibly part of a retaliation move for winning a lawsuit
filed by environmentalists who believed he was illegally dumping
backflow water from fracking. But a bombing was unlikely in his
home. “Was he gunned down? A break-in?”
“Moore’s death appears to have been a heart attack, the result of
natural causes. A medical examiner is on it.”
“Too coincidental for my take. I want to know who threatened
him, and I need you and Max at the Moore residence. He’s been
notified and will meet you there.” He texted her the Moore address
at Lake Pointe Estates in the Katy area west of Houston, but she
had it memorized.
The call ended and Tori rose to her feet. “Officer Richards, I
need to go.”
“Sure thing. See you again soon.”
“Count on it. Best to you and your family.” She hurried to her
car while the devastating news played havoc with her mind.
Why hadn’t Sally contacted her about Nathan’s death? They
were closer than sisters, weren’t they? Tending to her grieving sons
could have her emotionally spent. Even Tori was finding it hard to
accept Nathan’s death.
She shoved aside personal sentiments that ushered in disbelief.
Her investigative skills were needed. The ASAC had assigned her to
investigate a potential crime.
Nathan possibly murdered? He had sainthood stamped next
to his name. Charity work. Generous donations to worthy causes.
Incredible husband and father.
Who could possibly want him dead?