Those Heartless Boys - E. M. Moore Page 0,1

calling, calling, calling.

My stomach churns. Today, my family’s legacy feels more like a curse.

“Do you—?”

“No,” I say, cutting him off. I don’t want to do anything right now, but if he’s about to ask me if I want to be the one to stand in front of all of those reporters and call off the search for my dad, he’s fucking crazy. I’ll never call off the search for my dad. Not until his dead body is in my arms. Not until I see it with my own eyes.

“That’s fine,” Lionel says, lips pulling down on his wrinkle-free face. “I’ll just go out there and give everyone the news.” He hikes up his jeans with soft hands around his belt buckle, acting more important than he is. “We did all we could, Dakota. You know how dangerous those mountains are.”

It doesn’t seem like we did all we could. If we did all we could, we’d know where Dad is.

Except, I’ve seen the skeletons up in the mountains. Plenty of them. Visitors go missing every year, never to be found again. The Superstitions are dangerous. But the idea that they took out my dad? No. My mind rebels against that thought. Dad was no beginner. He’s one of the most sought-after Superstition treasure hunters and trail guides around. He grew up among these rocks. He knows them better than anyone.

Lionel places his hand on my shoulder briefly and then parts the tarps to walk back into the tent. Everyone’s still milling around, not just the media but the volunteer searchers, too. They’re expecting the announcement that’s about to come, so I don’t know why it’s such a shock to me. At each step of the process, I thought it couldn’t get any worse. When Dad didn’t come home, I went searching myself. When I couldn’t find a trace, I contacted Lionel. Then, there were the volunteers and the attention and the planning and the questions. When everyone showed up to help, I thought we’d find Dad that day. I thought that every day since, too. Even today. Right up until this very moment.

I don’t know why I was so short-sighted. Every day we can’t find him is a nail in his coffin.

Lionel’s voice booms over a sudden influx of questions, and I jump. Once I get my bearings, I walk around the edge of the tent, staying to the side and out of view. Lionel asks for silence like he’s giving some sort of press conference, which I guess, in reality, he is.

Look at that, Dad. The Wilders are finally making the news. Just not in the way we wanted.

I skim the crowd, watching over the eager-eyed reporters. I can’t blame them. Nothing big ever happens in Clary, and one person’s pain is another’s entertainment. Everyone will want to know what happened to Clark Wilder, “Superstition Mountain Treasure Hunter of Almost Forty Years.”

While Lionel is giving what sounds like a well-practiced speech, the hair on my neck stands. My dad always told me to listen to my intuition. Intuition has helped us Wilders more times than we’d like to admit is one of his favorite sayings.

The feeling continues as I roam my gaze over the crowd, searching for the source. It takes me three passes, but eventually, my stare collides with Stone Jacobs.

My stomach bottoms out as his blue-gray eyes sear into mine. As usual, his face is impassive, unreadable, and he’s flanked by his friends who might as well be his brothers. Wyatt and Lucas are so far up the Jacobs’s ass, it’s not funny. I was surprised when they showed up to help search. The Wilder and Jacobs families haven’t gotten along in a century. Not since the Jacobs started searching for the Wilder treasure. Our mutual hatred has been ingrained ever since, and stoked like a fire every chance our two families get.

I narrow my gaze at their tiny group. No doubt those three assholes are gloating right now. The Wilders just lost their patriarch—literally—and while searching for the treasure no less. In their minds, that puts them a step above us.

Not on my fucking watch.

Two years ago, Lance, Stone’s father, threatened to kill Dad for stealing his wife. No joke. Death threats, fights, and underhanded dealings are all a part of our families’ mutual past. Dad couldn’t help it if Marilyn preferred a Wilder, though, right? I mean, who wouldn’t?

Sarcasm aside, I wish Dad wouldn’t have made Stone my stepbrother. That’s some disgusting shit right there. Sure,