{six}

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Alessandra had just parked her car when "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" played on her phone. As much as she wanted to be the first one on the scene, she didn't want to let another call from her best friend go to voicemail, so she answered it. Besides it was just the police out there now. She hardly ever did well introducing herself as her interaction at Carissa's scene had shown.

"Hey, Mel."

"All done with work?" her friend Melissa asked on the other end. "I waited until late to make sure I caught you."

"I'm sorry, but I just got called out. How's Annapolis?" Alessandra asked. She looked out of the window. No one else yet.

"It's good. I'm with mom and the photography's taking off. I take Maddie to D.C. with me sometimes to get some shots."

"That sounds really fun," Alessandra said with a smile and then looked at the time. Only two minutes had passed, but it was two too many. She looked out and saw a brown-haired man walk by. Nate. "I've gotta go."

"Okay," Mel said. "Seems like every time I get a chance to talk to you, something always happens."

"It can't be helped," Alessandra responded. "I don't have much control over the situation."

"I know," her friend's voice sounded sad.

Alessandra tapped her fingers on the steering wheel. "I'll call you tomorrow."

"Later, A," Mel said and then added, "Say hi to that gorgeous part—"

"Bye," Alessandra cut her off and hung up.

Ever since Mel had moved away, they'd been drifting further and further apart. It was good she'd gotten away from her controlling douche of an ex-husband and could do something she liked.

But it also meant moments like this. After all of this was over Alessandra would make it up to her somehow. She couldn't let it get to her now and needed to focus on the case.

After checking herself once more in the rearview mirror, Alessandra pulled her Blackhawks beanie lower and stepped out of her car. She smoothed out her thick, flannel jacket then checked her kit again and touched the camera hanging from her neck.

At least her headache was gone. Thankfully Dr. Kanda had been able to squeeze her in. Lately, the stress had gotten worse. The marathon days didn't help. She was thankful she'd convinced her boss Jim to allow Nate to come along.

Alessandra still remembered the look on Dylan's face when he found out Nate had been approved to join her. She'd felt a little bad at first. But in the end, it was the right call. There was no way she would be able to collect such a high volume of evidence by herself. She already had to process it.

And even if they wanted to experiment with this hybrid deal, she didn't work for the FBI. Not that she hadn't thought about what it would be like to work in a state-of-the-art lab in DC, but it wasn't practical right now.

She still had to do the bulk of the work at Chicago's FBI lab but with Nate in the field with her, the work would go by that much faster. Plus she was right there with him. Alessandra felt more comfortable with him as a backup.

Dylan's truck was here. She got a little annoyed because she hadn't seen it at all. Her breath came out in short puffs as she looked at the concrete sign: Riverdale Park and Campground. She'd already been here before because of Carissa, but it had been on the other side of the grounds.

The line of cabins stood off to the right. Most of them sat empty with their windows broken or missing. The full moon in the cloudless sky lit her way until she got out her flashlight.

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