Blair rested a hand on Jim's arm. "Don't go too deep, man," he said softly. "Look for disturbed earth, new foliage. Smell…" He thought a moment. "Decay, I guess." His stomach churned a little at the very thought of what Jim was enduring.
They worked through the area slowly for an hour, stopping every so often to examine patches of earth that looked as though it might have been dug into but were coming up empty. Jim was starting to look strained, the usual result of an in depth workout of his senses. Blair tripped on something partly buried in the ground at the same time as Jim called out a warning. "Look out, Blair!"
Blair looked down, one foot raised precariously and swallowed convulsively. "Oh god!" A small hand showed through a patch of overgrown bush, the fingers outstretched as though beckoning for help. Pushing down his nausea, Blair gave Jim a horrified look then turned to call back to the crime units still at the scene. "Find!"
Carefully, he knelt down and began to gently brush the earth away from the exposed hand.
"Easy, Chief," Jim advised him. "Don't disturb any evidence."
Blair looked up at him. "Trust me, Jim, I know what I'm doing. This used to be my job, remember." He felt a twinge of regret at his words when Jim frowned and glanced away briefly. Even now, it only took a few words to revisit the guilt over the dissertation. With a small sigh, he turned back to his task. There was a tiny, dirt-encrusted ring on the fourth finger of the hand and the memory came to Blair immediately: Brittany Fredericks. Her mother had described the ring Brittany had been given by her grandmother on her last birthday.