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The open land was so beautiful. It felt like nothing bad could ever happen to her. The windows down, a full tank of gas and enough of a cell phone battery to carry her through.

She turned off the freeway and down the paved road to her aunt’s property. Aunt Helena had written bestselling crime thrillers and still dabbled at writing. But she’d tucked enough money away to buy a ranch in the middle of the mountains. And a Cadillac. At least Judy wouldn’t have to drive that damned beast down to the city. At least she’d try. Helena might put her foot down and demand Judy drive the enormous car.

She rumbled down the road, singing and tapping at the steering wheel until the rumbling of Roscoe changed slightly and smoke started to come out from the edges of the hood.

She pulled over and ran to the back of the truck where she pulled out a fire extinguisher. She took a deep breath and steeled herself, then opened the hood.

Fire was licking up from the distributor cap. She pulled the trigger and sprayed the fire. Once the fire was out, she unhooked the car battery. At least she still had a cell phone charge. Back in the car, with the wrinkly burned toast smell of the electrical fire in her nose.

And of course, she had no cell phone signal.

She locked up the car and began walking toward the highway where she knew she had a signal. As she walked closer to the highway, her battery charge dropped lower and lower. She turned it to airplane mode and kept walking. It was at least three miles back highway. But it was a beautiful day.

The fresh spring air, the clear blue sky. It was a perfect day in the mountains. She couldn’t have asked for better weather for walking.

She turned her phone on again and to her delight, saw she had one bar and twenty-four percent. She picked up the phone and called a tow truck.

Right as the gruff, “Handy Towing,” picked up, the line went dead.

“No, no, no,” she mumbled. This is just what she should expect. She turned and started walking the ten miles back to Helena’s cabin. Mansion, it could be called more reasonably. But, toward the cabin and toward the inevitable drive of Pearl, the enormous Cadillac.

But it wasn’t bad.

Better than being stuck out here in the wilderness. And it was a beautiful wilderness to be stuck in.

Roscoe was over the next hill, she was sure of it. It couldn’t be that far she’d walked.

The top of the black and white Jimmy was visible from the top of the next hill. It was going to be a long way back to Helena’s house.

Once she passed the Jimmy, she gave the truck a pat and peered under the hood to make sure the fire was out. Everything looked fine. And the fire was out quickly enough that it didn’t scorch the paint.

For how much she babied that truck, she would have expected a little more loyalty.

She hitched her purse over her shoulder and began the long walk up the mountain to her aunt’s house.

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