Title: Ghosts in the Shadows
Genre: Contemporary Western
Haunted by a history of violence, Brit Moonchaser just wants to be left alone to finish sixty days of parole and make peace with his heritage, but when his former cellmate demands help with a mysterious search in the desert and then kidnaps a lady rancher with whom Brit shares a contentious history, he finds himself in the middle of a quagmire from which there will be no easy exit. Here, injured and trapped between Dixon (the cellmate) and the authorities who want to find him before he has a chance to live up to his reputation, Brit feels the noose tighten.
"You don't need my help, Dix." Brit held one corner of the paper between his thumb and forefinger and passed it back to Dixon. Staring at the indecipherable mess in the grotto's half-light wouldn't make anything clearer. "You need a psychic."
Barring divine intervention or a stroke of pure, dumb luck, whatever Dixon sought seemed destined to remain hidden. Brit had bigger concerns.
The search parties were closing in. Someone would spot them soon. Helicopters scanned from above, and although Brit hadn't seen any sign of men on the ground, he was certain the sheriff had professionals tracking them by now. In this part of the mountains cover was scarce. Sticking close to the towering rocks in single file minimized the risk the group would be seen from the air, but they couldn't hide the hoof prints of four horses forever.
Water was even harder to find. Brit had come up dry twice at spots where liquid should have trickled from the ground. The people had canteens. The animals didn't.
He turned away from the other man and stared into the desert. "We can't push the horses in this heat."
Dixon grabbed Brit's injured arm and yanked him back around. His voice was a harsh whisper. "Screw the horses. We're running out of time."
Brit gritted his teeth until the urge to shriek passed. "There's a hundred thousand acres out there, and all those damn rocks look alike. We lose the horses, and none of us make it out alive."