Quade growled angrily when he read Graham’s short reply. You’re not going to give up are you? But then you always were tenacious. You stayed in our relationship much longer than any other man would have, despite everything I put you through. Do you really want an honest answer to that question?
Whether he did or not Quade was going to give him one. Or at least a partially truthful answer.
‘No I didn’t take the picture. I haven’t been in Denver in years. And don’t ask where I am because I won’t tell you. Please Graham, if you ever thought I deserved it, now is the time to trust me. I can’t tell you why, but there is someone else searching for me besides you, and apparently he’s picked up on the fact that you are as well. How he did I have no idea, but he’ll use you, follow you, until you lead him to me. Go home, Graham. Go home and forget I exist.'
* * * *
Graham took out his cell as he left the City and County building. He had been able to look at a copy of the Ramires will and found, much to his surprise, that there was only one heir. Quade. The will also listed the address of the piece of property Quade had inherited. That would be the next stop in his search.
Opening his cell, the first thing he saw when he checked his mail was a reply from his elusive ex-lover. He read it as he hurried down the long flight of steps to the street, finishing it just as he reached Bannock.
“Damn it Quade, what’s going on,” he muttered under his breath, glancing around. Was he being followed, watched, right now? A possibility he knew from the photo—and from what Quade had said. If that was the case then the first thing he had to do was loose his tail. And there was one place where it might just be possible without too much trouble.
Closing his phone he strolled casually through Civic Center Park, taking a right on Broadway. Two minutes later he was entering the Library. He took the elevator up to the fifth floor, the only one not accessible by escalators or stairs other than the ones used in case of fire. And those had alarms to warn the librarians if someone opened the doors. He waited, browsing the stacks filled with genealogy books and records. After half an hour, seeing no one who struck him as someone who’d be interested in him, he got onto the elevator again, exiting it on the fourth floor. From there he worked his way down to the ground floor, stopping on each level to look cautiously over the balcony that encircled the central area, trying to spot anyone looking for him.
When he got to ground level, he left by the rear doors of the library. They led to a small plaza between it and the art museum. He spent the next hour visiting exhibits on the several levels of the museum, finding that, despite why he was doing it, he actually was enjoying that as well.
Eventually though, he needed to leave. Again he exited from a different location than he’d used to enter the building. Deciding going back to where he’d parked his rental car could be counter-productive, he went to the nearest bus stop. At this point it was awash with commuters heading home from work. Leaning casually against the side of the shelter, he waited until two buses had picked up passengers and left. When the third one came he moved at the last second to board it, earning him a glare from the driver as he slammed the doors shut and pulled out into traffic.
Two buses later, Graham found himself half way across the city from his uncle’s house. He got off the second one, and following the driver’s directions walked several blocks to the bus stop he needed to get him to Golden. By now it was dark and getting chilly so he zipped up his jacket before pausing under a streetlight to double check the address he was aiming for, and then count the money in his wallet. He had enough he thought to get a cheap motel room for the night, because he for sure as hell had no intention of facing the mountain until morning.
Feeling certain he’d managed to elude whoever was tracking him, Graham found a small motel on the southwestern edge of Golden. One where they didn’t look askance at the fact that he had no luggage, and wanted to pay with cash, not a credit card. When he saw the room he understood why. It was old, small and lacking in all but the basic amenities. Not that he really cared. He’d be there just long enough to get some sleep.
The sunlight coming through the thin curtains on the single window woke him early the next morning. After a quick shower, he dressed and then pulled up the map of the area on his phone. He realized he had quite a hike coming up and was glad he’d opted to wear jeans and boots yesterday for his trip to the C&C Building, rather than his usual suit and tie.
As he left his room he looked west to the mountain. It would be a formidable hike he knew, remembering times when he was a teen and had climbed there. Formidable, but he intended to do it none the less. He checked the map again, setting his co-ordinates, and headed out. He could just have walked up the Lariat Loop but opted instead to use the Chimney Gulch hiking trail which crisscrossed the Lariat, shortening his climb by many miles. Still it would be no walk in the park by any means.
Several hours later he’d removed his jacket and his shirt, tying both of them around his waist. The sun was beating down and he was drenched in sweat, both from it and from the difficulty of the climb. Stopping finally, he took the now warm bottle of water from his jacket pocket, along with two somewhat melted candy bars he’d picked up from the lone vending machine at the motel. Leaning against the trunk of a towering pine tree, knowing if he sat he might not want to get up again, he munched the candy while checking the map one more time.
“I’m getting to old for this,” he muttered, chuckling when the sound of his voice had a pair of chipmunks skittering away from where they’d been hiding. He looked up, noting that the sun was now past its zenith. A couple more hours and the shadows would be lengthening enough to make the climb dangerous. “Time to get moving,” he told himself sternly.