Picking up the scanner, she turned the dial on top, switching it from the channel used by the Savannah police to the one used by the local police department. It was silent, too. Not because of distance. Because nothing ever happened out here.
Tybee Island is a dot on the map eighteen miles east of Savannah. There isn't much to it—a handful of surf shops, a couple of bars, three stoplights, and you're done. But the miles of soft, golden sand fringing the sleepy little town brings tourists flocking in droves. That was why Harper chose it when she needed a place to hide. Nobody here noticed one stranger with so many of them around.
The little community was affluent, small, and quiet. There was so little crime, the local cops spent their days hassling teenagers and handing out speeding tickets. Harper rarely saw a patrol car on the streets after six.
Tonight was no different. Nothing moved. No cars had driven by while she was out here. The only sound was the sea.
Harper dropped her head back against the chair letting her eyes drift shut. She was so tired. If she could just stop worrying for a few hours and rest, she'd feel so much better.
Ten minutes later, she was still sitting there when the scanner burst to life.
"All units, be aware we have a report of shots fired on Cedarwood Drive."
Harper's eyes flew open. She stared at the device as if it had barked.
A male voice crackled from the handset. "This is unit Bravo Alpha nine. Dispatch, can you repeat that?"
He sounded as surprised as Harper felt.
"We have reports of shots fired." At that point, the dispatcher dropped the pretense of radio formality. "I've had three calls so far, two from Cedarwood, and one from the old folks' home on Rosewood." She sounded breathless with excitement. "Everybody says they heard gunshots, Tom. Better get yourself down there."
"Well, all right," the officer said, after a second. "I'll head over. It's probably fireworks, though."
The scanner fell silent, again.
For a second, Harper sat where she was. Then she jumped to her feet and ran back inside. After grabbing her keys off the cheap little table by the door, she hurried across the room to scoop up a notebook and press pass from where she'd tossed them on the sofa when she'd come home from work earlier that night.
She hurried back out, locked the three high-security deadbolts she'd had installed when she first moved in, then ran down the steps to the gravel driveway, and slid into the low-slung Camaro parked under the sprawling branches of a weather-beaten oak tree. The engine started with a velvety rumble.
Who needed to sleep? Just being inside that car made her feel about fifty percent better.
Finding a story out here in the back end of nowhere would do the rest.
The streets were empty. Harper didn't pass a single car as she navigated off the wide, ghostly main street onto narrow Cedarwood Drive.
It took only minutes to locate the patrol car, its blue lights flashing steadily on the quiet lane.
She parked a short distance behind it and walked over. The car was empty. The street was just off the beach and the ocean was louder here. The waves sounded angry, hitting the sand so hard she could feel the thud beneath her feet.
The wind whipped her hair into her eyes as she looked around for the driver.
"Can I help you?" The voice came from the shadows behind her. Harper spun around.
A police officer was walking toward her. He wore the all-black uniform of Tybee Island PD, a silver badge glittering on his chest beneath a name tag that read T. SOUTHBY. He was tall and sturdy, with a thick hipster beard and a quizzical expression.
"Oh, uh...Hi," she said, caught off guard. "I'm Harper McClain. From the Daily News."
"Right..." He still seemed baffled. "You lost or somethin'?"