Liam's Lily:Heroes for Hire, Book 14(4)

By: Dale Mayer

“Neither have I. That’s why I’m thrilled.” North pointed at the sign up ahead. “End of Days Rest Home.” He laughed. “That’s got to be a joke.”

“I doubt it. When you think an elephant can live longer than humans, that’s a hell of a name. How far did the sign say the ranch is?”

“Seven miles.”

Liam settled in for another few minutes’ drive. The traffic was almost nonexistent. “Any coffee left?”

North nodded. “Alfred set us up with enough coffee for the two-hour drive. He wanted to send us off with a basket full of all kinds of goodies.” North laughed. “I talked him out of that. But he was worried about us eating, since no Alfred exists where we were going and how pizza probably isn’t delivered out here.” North lifted the cloth insulated bag from the back seat to his lap, unzipped it, pulled out one of the two thermoses and refilled Liam’s travel mug.

Liam murmured, “Thanks,” and sipped his coffee with a pleased nod as he drove the truck just over the speed limit. When he saw the second sign up ahead, he slowed. “Looks like we’re almost there.”

Sure enough, another couple miles down the road he saw the turnoff. He slowed even more, put on a signal, took the corner and headed toward what looked to be an official tourist building with a massive barn to one side and a huge residence on the other side. He pulled up out front of the business and sat inside the truck, staring at the size of the barn. “Will you look at that?”

“Like I said, proportionately, elephants will need a lot more space.”

They hopped out and shut the truck doors. The barn rose high and wide. The fences were massive. Not just simple timber but appeared to be four-by-fours clamped together. Even at that, Liam imagined steel girders were inside for strength and the wood was more for a visual effect.

“What does it take to stop an elephant from going where the elephant wants to go?” Liam wondered aloud.

“There’s not really anything man can do to stop an elephant who wants to go in a certain direction,” a woman behind him said in a light and melodious voice.

He turned to see a woman with jet-black hair in a long braid down her back—tall, slim, dressed in jeans, a T-shirt and cowboy boots. He smiled, reached out a hand and said, “Liam O’Brien at your service.”

She nodded to Liam and then turned, her eyebrows rising slightly at Liam’s companion.

North stepped up and introduced himself.

She looked at them both and said, “Levi sent you?”

Just enough anxiousness was in her voice for them to immediately nod yes.

Relief washed over her face. “Well, thank heavens for that. He said he’d send someone, but …” She shrugged.

“If Levi says he will, then he will,” Liam said quietly. “I hear you’ve got yourself a spot of trouble.”

“I just don’t know how big a spot of trouble,” she said with a nod. “It could be nothing. Maybe it’s my imagination.” She stared off in the direction where the highway went past her place. “It’s just so hard to understand.”

“If you’ll fill us in, we’ll do what we can to help you get to the bottom of it,” Liam said with a smile.

North motioned toward the office and said, “Shall we go in?”

Her face cleared. “Oh, my goodness, yes. Of course. I’m so sorry for making you stand out here.”

Liam shrugged. “It can be here or there. It doesn’t matter. But the sooner we understand what’s happening, the sooner we can help you.”

She nodded and ushered them toward the door.

Liam didn’t know if it was the way she always moved, but her long legs ate up the distance quickly. Inside she didn’t slow down. She kept on toward the back of the building. He vaguely saw a reception area and what looked like a tourist section with information on elephants in the bookcases against the wall. “Do you do public tours here?”

She nodded. “We do some. Mostly schools and educational trips. We’ve got a lot of seniors who come out once a week.”

That surprised him. This place was a long way from anywhere. But, of course, it was only an hour from the closest city. Or rather the outskirts of Houston. Levi’s compound was on the other side of Houston, about an hour away. So that made their one-way trip at least two hours long.

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