Slave to Love(7)

By: Nikita Black


“What?”

“You weren't expecting to, were you?” she asked matter-of-factly.

Smart girl. “No. But I'm surprised to hear a rookie from SIS say so.”

Her chin went up. “It may come as a shock to you, Detective, but I went through the Academy. I've even read Robert Ressler.”

It wasn't any more than he'd expected, given her reputation for diligence and her aspirations for Homicide. The crime was much too ritualistic and specific to be an improvised grudge killing. Kindergarten stuff. He drawled, “I'm delighted to hear that. I assume that means you can write, too. From now on, you're in charge of typing up our reports.”

Out of the corner of his eye he saw her jaw clench, but damn, if she didn't muster a tight, “Yes, sir.”

And damn, if he didn't like how those words sounded in her mouth.

“Mick will do,” he stated coolly, hating that he liked it so much. Reactions like that could get a man seriously off track. “Or you can start calling me Master.”

Without giving her a chance to respond, he prompted Bobby to continue. In the rear-view mirror his partner flashed a grin that said he had no idea who was winning but he was sure enjoying the contest, then picked up his narrative.

“Two weeks ago the Connors turned up dead in their small bungalow just south of New York Ave, and we knew we were dealing with the same guy. Same signature, same exact posing of the victims. Ages twenty-eight and thirty-five, again no kids. She was an elementary school teacher, he was an engineer over at Jet Propulsion Lab.”

Caroline leaned over to examine the photos and Bobby's eyes strayed to the low neckline of her sweater.

But she was studying the pictures with only homicide on her mind. It wasn't her fault she even managed to make looking at crime scene photos a sexual experience.

“Where's the blood?” she asked.

He speared Bobby with a glare and the other man sat back in his seat, stacked his hands behind his neck and gave him another wise-ass grin before turning back to Caroline. “What do you mean? There's plenty of blood.”

Mick wasn’t interested in her for himself. He just wanted everybody to keep their minds on the case. Personal relationships on the job caused nothing but trouble. Big-time trouble. For him, this case was do or die; nothing and nobody was going to get in the way of taking it to its conclusion. Sexy Caroline Palmer included. She was a means to an end. Period.

Looking up at him, she said, “The male victims were stabbed in the back, but the blood's mostly in front.”

Damn, she had a good eye. He was impressed. “The Coroner thinks the men were stabbed right after ejaculation, presumably on the bed,” he answered. “Then, judging by the marks in the carpets, they were dragged to the chair where he gutted them with a second knife.”

“Same kind?”

“Nope. One’s a cooking knife, the other’s for hunting.”

“That’s unusual. Did he bring them with him?”

“Yep. Took them away with him, too.”

“Huh.” She sifted through the photos for a few moments. “No blood on the bed.”

“Correct. There were traces of plastic and absorbent material found in the back wounds.”

“Absorbent? Like diapers?”

“Exactly. We think he soaked up the blood as soon as he stabbed them in the back. Maybe even stabbed them through it to prevent spatter.”

“A neat freak?”

“Definitely. He washed any blood off the woman and changed the bed sheets afterwards, too. Forensics is checking all that, including the detergent residue for a match to the house linens. We’re hoping he brought his own.”

“If he did, what did he do with the blood-soaked ones?”

“Must have taken them with him.”

“So hopefully we’ll find them at his place when we catch him.”

He snorted softly. “Hope springs eternal.”

“So he’s let into the house by the victims, with at least two knives, leather gloves, ligatures, a pack of diapers and possibly a change of sheets. Sheesh. Think he brought the teddies, too?”

“Presumably. We have a team on trying to find the source.”

There was a pause as she digested all that, then Bobby went on. “Forensics reports are in the files. Basically, what they say is we got squat from the crime scenes in terms of traceable, usable evidence. But of course, our bad guy left a dandy pile of stuff for the profiler.”

“Special Agent Tim Woodruff of the FBI has been working with us on that,” Mick said. “He'll be in for a briefing tomorrow.” He caught her eye. “You'll want to read the profile extra carefully. This is the killer who'll be looking us over at the Brimstone fetish club. To nab him we need to know him as well as we know each other.”