Mason pulled his badge from his hip pocket and his wallet from his back pocket, tossing them to the ground and out of his reach. The kid swooped in and grabbed them off the ground. He immediately rifled through the wallet.
“Huh, he’s a real card-carrying Injun.” The kid held Mason’s tribal ID card between two fingers and flipped it in the air.
The older man snickered, “Half-breed mutt with those blue eyes. I guess setting up a trap down here wasn’t such a waste after all.” He reached out and rubbed his hand over the kid’s hair.
“We can’t let him out of here,” Red Hair said.
Mason took a deep breath. “Look, no one has done anything wrong or broken any laws that I can see. He’s a photographer, and I’m here to make sure he doesn’t get lost. We walk away, no harm, no foul. You go on about your business and we go on about ours,” Mason said. And when Riece is somewhere safe, I track you down and throw your collective asses in prison. Maybe beat the shit out of you first. He didn’t voice those thoughts.
Then the older man spoke up and things went from bad to worse. “What we seem to have here is a redskin ranger, and that’s going to be pretty good hunting.”
Mason’s stomach twisted.
“I’m willing to bet he’s going to do anything to see to it that one is safe.” The man nodded at Riece. His eyes narrowed, and he stared down at Mason. “Being that you’re a squaw… or”—he turned to look at Riece, smirking—“is he the squaw?”
“Might as well have fun,” the woman said. “We’re out here to hunt, so let’s hunt.”
Mason stole a look at Riece. He was clearly confused. Mason, however, was beginning to see what they were up to. Drug dealers or escaped criminals would have been so much more preferable.
“If he’s a fed, then people know where he is,” the third man spoke up. “He doesn’t check in, they’ll come looking for him. Trapping hikers is one thing, but killing a fed? News flash, they’ll come after us, Banjoff.” Mason watched Riece shift his gaze downward. He was staring at his camera. When Riece looked at Mason, he lifted his eyebrows ever so slightly.
Banjoff, the older man, rounded on the third man. “Idiot! No fucking names.”
Red Hair moved farther from Riece and joined the argument. “He’s right. We should kill them and dump them. It’s too risky. He knows the area, and he’s trained. I don’t know, man.”
The man holding his weapon on Mason turned toward the others. Mason nearly burst out laughing. Big mistake, asshole. All three men were looking at each other. The kid was near them, yammering that he wanted to make the kill, and the woman was looking up the gully at the line Mason and Riece had used to get down here.
This was as good as it was going to get.
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