There were four of them. They stood in a close huddle at the bay doors talking to Sean and Trina.
Dom and Matti stayed out of sight on the staircase to the dorms and watched. The sound of the conversation didn’t carry well enough for them to hear , but Dom couldn’t help notice one of the strangers seemed fairly fired up.
While his company listened to Sean with worn and weary expressions, a stern-faced man with wild crimson hair eyed his host with a hostile gaze.
Deciding it was time to investigate, Dom cleared his throat and made his way down the metal staircase.
“Hey there,” he called out in a jovial voice. “Do you folks need some help?”
The red-haired man turned his stare to Dom. Short in stature, Dom could tell he was the sort of person who made up for it with a big attitude. This stranger was on a mission; it was written all over his knitted brow and tight frown.
“We’re looking for someone,” answered another of the strangers. Broad bodied with a golden mane and tired green eyes, he looked like an angel with a broken heart. “We’re pretty sure she spent some time in this town a while back.”
The red haired stranger kept his unwavering glare trained on Dom as he thrust forward a tattered piece of paper. It was a grainy photo printed from a computer. Based on its condition it had been passed around quite a bit. The image was of two women in matching uniforms; Em and May on the run from the hospital and a pursuing Loyal.
“Her,” he said, jabbing his finger at Em.
From over his shoulder, Dom heard Matti draw a sharp breath. They were thinking the same thing: anyone who came around asking about Em was bound to be trouble.
Dom pursed his lips and considered his next move carefully. The uniforms Em and May were wearing in the photo were the same ones the rest of the team wore at that very moment. There was no way these people hadn’t noticed.
Setting a nonplussed expression across his face, Dom handed the photo back and shrugged.
“Can’t say I’ve seen them,” he lied. Behind the strangers’ backs he saw Karin shoot him a dubious look.
The red-haired man opened his mouth, ready to argue, but the angel beat him to it.
“Are you sure?” he asked in a voice so desperate Dom almost felt bad for lying to him. “Based on how they’re dressed they look to be part of your team.”
Dom didn’t miss a beat.
“All SAR teams in these mountain regions wear the same gear,” he explained with a nonchalant air. “It’s specialized for alpine terrain.”
“So you’re telling us you’ve never seen either of these people before?” the red-haired man demanded with barely-concealed frustration.
Sean stepped in to field the question, his demeanour gentle to Dom’s aloof. “Like I said earlier, they could be part of a different unit. We can put in some calls if it would help.”
A small wave of relief settled over Dom at knowing the rest of the team had remembered to follow the same carefully crafted story.
“Thank you,” replied a young woman with skin like freshly-turned earth and eyes of glittering amethyst. She gave Sean a polite smile while pulling the red-haired man back and out of his offensive stance. “That would be really helpful.”
She gave the team the name of the local inn where the party would be spending the night and thanked them for their time. With a silent nod of his head, the angel motioned for the doors and his friends followed suit, leaving the team to flood into the space they left behind, eyeing one another warily.
As the strangers made their way into the courtyard, a thought flashed across Dom’s mind and he shouted after them.
“Say we find anything – who should we ask for at the inn?”
The red-haired man turned, eyeing Dom severely.
“Ask for Parker,” he answered. “First name Jeremy.”