Hmmm, heaven was built on spicy Szechwan chicken. Michelle popped the last bite into her mouth and sat back on the couch, her hand on her flat stomach. She had changed clothing before sitting down with Nick and the food, putting on a pair of short black leggings and an oversized FBI tee shirt her brother had gotten for her when he went to Quantico for some training classes a few months ago.
With her hair pulled up in a long blonde ponytail and no makeup, she looked all of ten years old.
"Full?" Nicky asked, amusement in his eyes. She had plowed into the chicken and vegetable dish as if she hadn't eaten in a year. Nick had watched in amazement as she had polished off the entire container and her half of the fried rice.
"Yep." She felt too good right now to let him bug her or provoke her. She sat back up and pulled her feet up on the couch, sitting Indian style facing him. She pointed at the cashew chicken mixed in with rice on his plate. "You gonna finish that?"
He pulled his plate out of her reach and then fed her a bite from his fork. To keep her occupied and out of his food, he reached behind him and picked up the file that he had brought with him, handing it to her. She reacted the same way she had with the food, eagerly opening the file and pulling out the copy of the letter that had been sent to him.
The note had been sent through prints and trace elements, and to their linguistics guy. There were no discernible prints on the plain white paper.
One hair was found in the envelope and was being sent to the lab in Lansing as they spoke, but the DNA results could take weeks before they got results back. Linguistics hadn't gotten back to him with their report yet. So most of what he had was the note and a bad feeling.
"You know, Nick, I thought that cutting letters out of newspapers and magazines had gone out of style when home computers and printers were invented. There's something a little freaky about this cut and paste job."
Nick snorted in agreement. "We got ourselves a purist, an old fashioned type of guy or else he's been watching way too many old movies."
The words had been glued to the page by Elmer's glue, something that could be picked up at any discount store around. The words themselves were a taunt.
"Don't you ever get tired of being a day late and a dollar short, Detective Saint?" Michelle read.
"Well isn't that just so nice of him? And what we needed, to be dissed by a psychopath." The letter was signed with a single initial that was cut out of a headline so that it was bigger than any other letter on the page, the letter M, the font in bright red.
"Yeah, made me feel all warm inside," Nick said around a mouthful of chicken and cashews. "Now all we have to do is look around for every white guy around the age of 30 to 35 who wears high end wool suits and has the first or last initial of M. Should be a piece of cake."
"Hey," Michelle laughed, in a much better mood now that she'd been fed. "Don't be such a pessimist. Maybe the lab guys can do something with the hair. Or maybe we'll get lucky and this guy likes to run with scissors and play in traffic. Maybe he'll run into a semi. "
"I have a feeling that the hair is just going to belong to one of our two victims. It was about twelve inches long and blonde. If not them, maybe to his newest victim." He gave her last comment all the dignity it deserved and ignored it. Was there a time that he had thought she was too classy to be a cop? He put his plate on top of hers and took both of them into the kitchen and rinsed them in the sink.
"I really don't want to think about a victim number three," she said as he reached under her sink for the dish detergent. Michelle had gotten used to him picking things up behind her. He was a neat freak and didn't even realize when he was doing it anymore. He thought better when he was doing something, anything, sitting drove him nuts unless he was busy. She had gotten used to taking things from his hands, putting them down and watching him pick them up to toss them around again.
She was reading some of the notes on the interviews she had missed out on today. They had tracked down the manager of the Blockbuster Video Store that Sheri Meridian had worked at and brought him in. He was a cranky old man who had finally called the police when one of his other employees had told him about the picture in the newspaper.
His interview was the usual, he didn't know nothing and hadn't seen her in a month. He thought she had just gotten tired of being away from her family and had moved back home. After a week of consecutive absences, he had called and fired her on her answering machine. What a sweet and considerate man. Michelle rolled her eyes.
Her coworkers weren't much better, it seemed as if no one knew much about Sheri besides the fact that her parents lived in a different state and that something bad had happened between them. Sheri had moved here recently, before that she had been in Toledo, Ohio. Before that, was anybody's guess.
Sheri didn't talk to her parents anymore. She wasn't the type to make friends and didn't socialize with any of them outside the job. The biggest consensus had been that Sheri was a stuck up bitch, to quote verbatim.
"What about a car?" Michelle called back to him, looking over her shoulder to where he was drying dishes and putting them away.
He walked out of the kitchen and grabbed his pack of cigarettes off the end table, setting them back down at a scowl from her. "I put a bulletin out on it today. She drove a," he looked down at the report she held, reading upside down, "1986 Honda Accord, blue." He sat down again, still looking longingly at his cigarettes. "With our luck, it's a piece of junk that has already rusted into the ground. But we'll look for it."
Michelle reached into the pocket of his coat and pulled out a square of Nicorette gum, tossing it to him and then flipped through the new pages in the file. "Not much here. I guess when I hadn't heard from you today, I hoped you were making an arrest."
"I called you." He sat the gum down next to the cigarettes with a grimace of disgust.
"Yeah, Jimmy just forgot to tell me. Did he tell you that he left me in charge of the scene today?" She turned a page.
"He did what?"
She flinched at the sudden anger in his voice.
"I'll take that as a no." She tried to ignore his silence and kept talking. "I was there watching the crime scene people doing their job. He figured I could handle it." She glanced up at him. His face was stony.
"Was I wrong?"
"How'd it go?" He didn't answer her question.
"Fine, I waited for them to leave, put the notice on the door and assigned someone for door duty. I have the key here. It's in my briefcase." She let the file drop into her lap. "Did I do wrong?"
"No, Jimmy did." And he could have gotten Nick's butt in a bigger sling than it already was in. But he didn't tell her that. There wasn't any reason to let her worry about it. He wasn't going to. He changed the subject. "So what do you think about the note?"
"As if you're uneducated," he scoffed.
She glowed at the compliment but didn't mention it. "I'd say he's trying to goad you into making this personal. It's addressed to you, he wants to see if you are smart enough to catch him." She paused and looked at the note again. "I would say that he wants to see how many times he can get away with it. This won't be the last note you get either. Unless we catch him right away, you'll probably get one after every body that is found."
"My take on it as well. I think we got us a game player." He rubbed his forehead, the lingering essence of the headache right behind his eyes. "It's not just the fantasy, or the hunt, or even the kill that gets these guys. It's proving they're smarter than whoever works the case. And the bigger the name in charge, the more the killer has to prove. Psychos like these are much worse than your run of the mill serial killer."
"Ah, but," she lifted a finger in the air to make a point, "he hasn't reached serial killer status yet. He's got to knock off a couple more to get that."
Nick snorted a laugh. "Yeah, but lets not tell him that okay?"
"Yeah, just cause this is blonde," she pulled a strand of hair forward over her shoulder, "doesn't mean that it's a life style."
"You sure?" He laughed and ducked when she swung at him. "Seriously," he added when he quit laughing, "I got five calls and a bunch of call back slips from the newsies today. Someone let it slip that we got an ID. They are going to be all over this."
"My feelings exactly. I no commented them, gave them the blah, blah, blah about waiting until the victim's next of kin had been notified. But you know that they are going to run it as soon as they can bribe, steal, or cheat someone out of the name." He sighed in disgust. "I know they got a job to do, I read the paper like everybody else. I just wish they would realize that what they do can really fuck up an investigation."
"Did you get a hold of her parents?" That was not a job Michelle would want to do. How do you tell someone that their estranged daughter was dead at the hands of a psychopathic killer? How do you tell a father that his little girl was tortured and abused and then thrown away like yesterday's garbage? She could only imagine what it would do to them to think of Sheri's last days on this earth and know the kind of pain and terror she must have experienced. Just the thought of that terror gave her shivers.
Nick saw the shiver that went through her body and understood it. The worst thing about this job was to explain to parents that their child had been murdered. And in a manner that was this grisly, there was no way to break it gently. He reached out and put a hand on her shoulder, rubbing gently at the knot of tension in the back of her neck.
"Yeah, I called them."
Michelle was silent as she leaned into his touch, knowing that there was more to tell and that he needed to get it out.
"I talked to her father in Arizona. They hadn't heard anything from Sheri since she moved out when she was seventeen, three years ago. He said they had a fight over some guy that she was seeing that wasn't good for her." His hand moved further down her back, still kneading at the knotted muscles.
"Want to know the really sad part? The guy dumped her a month after she moved out of the parents' house. He took everything Sheri had, money, jewelry and most of her clothes. Then he just walked on her."
Nick shifted on the sofa so that he could use both hands, turning her so that her back was more accessible to him. Touching her was doing wicked, wanton things to him, not touching her was slowly killing him. He almost bit through his bottom lip when she moaned in pleasure, a deep husky sound that sent heat hardening his cock, as if it could get any harder around her.
Michelle was in trouble and she knew it. But she wasn't moving or doing anything to take those talented, long fingers off of her body. Think about the case, the case was why he was here.
"Are they coming to get the body?" Was that her voice? She sounded so breathless, so unlike herself. His hands were at her waist, thumbs touching and almost under the waistband of her leggings, her tee shirt having ridden up under the gentle massage of his hands.
He scooted forward on the couch, coming so close that there were mere inches between their bodies.
He could smell her skin, the same smell of sweet sin that was in her bedroom. Her husky voice was a siren's call of seductive heat, luring him away from all thoughts of death and killers. She had said something. What? Oh yeah, the body.
He cleared his throat, leaning closer, his chest touching her back, his hands circling her waist.
"Yeah, they'll be taking a flight in to Detroit tomorrow. I asked them to come in for an interview before they leave for home. I don't think they have anything pertinent to add to the case but it can't hurt." His voice had gotten softer as he spoke until he was almost whispering.
She turned her head, looking over her shoulder at him, her eyes wide, pupils dilated with the pleasure of his touch. His hands were on her stomach, pulling her further back until she was on his lap, then gliding under her shirt to rest on her bare skin.
She couldn't breath, his hands were so hot against her bare skin, evoking feelings that she had never felt before, had never imagined were possible to feel.
"Nicky," she whispered.
"Hmmm?" His hands were moving restlessly on her body, sliding upward, finding out to his delight that she had nothing on under that tee shirt but skin.
"We shouldn't do this, Nicky." Her voice was nothing but a moan of pleasure as his questing hands found her breasts, lifting them. His thumbs moved over the rigid tips, around them, creating a havoc of desire to pool in her belly. She moved restlessly in his lap, her head falling limply back to his shoulder, wanting to deny her own words and let him do with her as he would, wanting nothing more than to drown in the pleasure of his touch.
His mouth nuzzled at her throat, tasting the soft warm sweetness of her. His hands found that she fit him perfectly, her nipples hard points against his palms.
"You're right, Chelle," he breathed against her skin. "We shouldn't do this." He nipped her flesh with his teeth and then laved the spot with his tongue, her shudder of pleasure almost his undoing. "Do you want me to stop?" He held his breath even as his hands continued to move on her, one slipping down to glide around her small belly button and steal beneath the waist band of her leggings and panties, fingers just touching the delicate flesh between her legs.
If she told him to stop, to take his hands off of her right now, it would be the hardest thing he had ever had to do and he probably wouldn't walk standing up straight for a week. But, somehow he would do it. He wanted her so badly, wanted to slip inside her, feel her stretch and give for his cock. He wanted to taste that part of her and bring her over that sharp edge into pleasure, hear her call out his name in her smoky voice. He wanted to take her until they were both too tired and numb to know their own names. And then he wanted her one more time after that to prove to both of them how good it was.
He turned her in his arms until she was laying across his lap, looking up at him. Her skin was flushed, her eyes fuzzy with pleasure wringing another groan from him. He shook her gently but impatiently, needing to hear her say the words before he lost control.
"Michelle," he said urgently. "Do I stop?" His lips were right above hers. "Do I?" he prodded again.
She opened her mouth, the tip of her pink tongue coming out to moisten her lower lip.
Did she know what she was doing to him? He groaned and wanted to chase her tongue back into her mouth with his own.
Her hands were on his chest, playing with the tie that he had loosened but hadn't removed yet. She used it to pull his head down further, her mouth finding his, anxiously needing to see if what he had made her feel earlier hadn't been a dream.
His control broke. "Too late," he growled against her lips. He swept her up against him, only releasing her mouth long enough to pull her tee shirt over her head. He kissed her frantically, long days of working with her, of getting to know her, of restraining his desire for her wrapped up in a kiss meant to devastate her control. He had to make her as needy for him as he was for her, if that were even possible. His hands were everywhere, almost harsh in his need of her.
His tie followed her shirt and her hands were busy trying to make stubborn buttons go through tiny holes. She laughed wickedly as he pulled away and tore open the shirt, buttons flying everywhere. He took her hands, placing them palm down on the hot flesh of his chest, groaning at the contact.
Michelle sat up, straddling his lap. She slid her hands down the smooth skin of his chest, stroking over his hard belly and then back up, wrapping her fingers around his throat. "Mmmm," she moaned, dragging her nails over the tiny hardness of his nipples. "I want you, Nick." Her smoky voice crooned seductively next to his ear as she let her hips push against the long bulge underneath the sleek pants he wore. She slid her hands up and over his muscled shoulders, pushing the shirt off and down his arms. Her teeth found the cord of his neck, nibbling and biting with delicate precision.
Nick took all he could handle of her sweet teasing, moaning when her teeth nipped just the tiniest bit too hard. Finally, he had enough. He pushed her gently, tumbling her back down on the couch while he worked to free himself of his ruined shirt. It went flying behind his head as he tore it off and landed on top of the lamp, diffusing the harsh light. He leaned over her, his legs pushing her thighs apart settling his hard body into the cradle of her hips.
She reached up and threaded her fingers in his soft hair, pulling his face down to hers, her lips finding his in a kiss that threatened his sanity.
Her arms pushed at his as they held his weight off of her, knocking him off balance so that he fell against her. They both moaned at the contact of his hard chest against the softness of her breasts. His long length fit perfectly against her slim curves, his hand curled around her thigh, drawing it up so her leg wrapped around his waist.
Michelle had wanted this, too, for what seemed like a long time. It didn't matter what happened later. She would deal with that then. Now was for her. Now was heat and lights, shocking streaks of need wrapped in an intensity of passion that she had never felt before. He kissed her and she felt it to the tips of her toes. He touched and her body sang with want and desire all coiled around bolts of fire. She wrapped her leg around his waist tighter, holding him to her, her hands slipping down the muscled length of his back.
He tore his mouth from hers. "You minx. Do you know what you're doing to me?" His breathing was unsteady, his heart thundering in his chest. She made him feel like no other woman ever had before. She was all soft curves and long lines, gentle and delicate with a core of strength that could shock and delight. Touching her was an addiction he never wanted to end. Kissing her was mindless, aching pleasure. She crept in, invading until he couldn't think of anything but her. She made him tremble with longing, desperate with hunger.
Nick pulled away, his hands sweeping the leggings down her body, her panties following swiftly behind. He looked down at the treasure he had uncovered.
"God, you are so beautiful." His hand followed his eyes, fingers teasing her nipple, caressing the line between her breasts to her stomach, and then finally coming to rest between her thighs. He parted her gently, looking into her eyes, his finger finding the tiny kernel of nerves and massaging it softly. He heard her surprised cry of pleasure and leaned closer, whispering in her ear.
"I want to watch you, Michelle," he breathed. "I want to see you when you come. I've dreamt about it, about you and I like this." He leaned back, loving the sight before his eyes. He felt her hands come up to his shoulders and dig in, her nails leaving little half-moons in his skin, seeing her head tip back and her body tighten. She was flame and golden beauty under him as she moved against him, desperate to find the pleasure that was just out of reach.
Her heart thundered in her ears, her body stretched taut as a bow string. She couldn't catch her breath. She could see him above her, his face almost harsh in passion. He was whispering to her, erotic things that made her hunger even more for what was coming. She raced to it, gasping as it swept over her, an explosion of heat that dragged his name out of her in a startled cry as the waves of ecstasy seem to flow endlessly through her.
Little aftershocks were still wracking her body when she felt him move off of her. She stared up at him in confusion through heavy lidded eyes.
She shrieked as he picked her up suddenly and threw her over his shoulder, smacking her bare rear end when she tried to climb off of him. He walked into her bedroom, holding her still with one hand while he pulled down the bedding then he dumped her roughly in the middle of her bed. She sat where she landed, eyes round in surprise, a hand covering her mouth to stop the giggles that wouldn't quit. She watched him as he grabbed a foil wrapped package out of his wallet, kicked off his shoes and climbed on the bed.
"My turn," he growled, advancing on her quickly, leaving no room for escape as he grabbed her ankles and dragged her under him.
The door creaked open and the switch was thrown. Light filled the underground room. Another soft click and the tape was stopped, the voices disappearing. The figure on the table blinked in surprise at the light and lack of noise, the quiet was more disturbing now than the voices. They had become friendly and familiar, even if the words were evil and bloody. The voices meant that she was alone and that no one would hurt her. She was safe with them. When they stopped was when she felt terror.
She no longer hurt. Her body had gotten to the point where the pain felt... right. The absence of pain would be strange now and absurdly unwelcome. Her feet and hands had turned black days ago from the circulation being cut off, she could no longer walk. Her body had been used in every way that her captor could possibly think of, horrible ways that would have been degrading and shameful if she still felt those things.
She no longer remembered what outside felt like, what the sun looked like. Those words were foreign to her now.
Day and night were terms that were distant memories. She knew light or darkness, no shades of dusk or tints of dawn. She couldn't think of what the wind was or how it felt against her skin. The only air she got was the stale air that was thinly circulated by fans. Trees, flowers, animals, those things were gone to her, gone like her innocence. Gone like her belief of heaven because she survived in hell.
She wasn't concerned with her nudity any longer. Any femininity had been stripped off her, any beauty she had once possessed taken violently. She was skin and bones, breasts flattened by starvation and deprivation. She was glad for it, ugliness would mean lack of desire on the part of her captor.
She probably wouldn't be able to recognize her own face. She doubted anyone else would either. She had been beaten terribly, bones broken and never set, starting to heal in ways that were grotesque and disfiguring. She had only three whole teeth left in her mouth, the rest were either completely gone or broken, her lips shredded against the ruined, fractured stubs. Punishment and abuse were the constants in her life. That and terror.
Her body had been viciously torn by objects used to rape her in ways too horrible to remember. She had been sodomized so violently that she had been sick for days afterwards. Any defiance or will had long since been taken from her by means too foul to think of without completely losing what little was left of her mind.
She still knew her name. He called her by it in saccharine tones, expecting her to do as she was told, even when it was physically impossible. The other didn't use her name. He only called her bitch, or whore, or other words that hurt as much as blows, cuts and burns did. She had lost one nipple to the other, the Knife, as he called himself. He had pulled her hair out in rage, spittle flying in her face from his screams and threats. He had lost himself to that fury, his fists flying in blows that broke bones and tore flesh.
She had thought that she would die that day and had faced disappointment greater than anything she had ever felt when she hadn't. She had tried to push him into killing her that day, had tried to fuel the rage that the knife brought despite the immense amount of pain. She just wanted it over, the battle of wills had been won, she had been defeated. But he had left her, returning later, once more in control of himself, to wash her wounds with care and kind words that only made losing worse.
She looked at her captor dully now, not caring what he thought or what he wanted, only remembering in a way that was strangely detached that she was the victim in this. Tonight he looked different, tonight he was dressed in black from head to toe. Her abused mind processed the fact and she knew it was almost over. If there had been any moisture left in her broken, dehydrated body, she would have wept for joy.
He was speaking to her but she had long ago forgotten how to hear or to care if she did. She felt him hit her hard enough to turn her head, felt her lip split again and she left it there, not interested in looking at him. She longed for the feel of the blade against her skin, puncturing, driving deep into a heart that no longer wanted to beat. She was defeated.
He cut through her ties, she couldn't feel it. He sat her up and she slumped bonelessly, only staying in that position because he held her there. Her head was bowed, chin hanging against her chest. What little was left of her stringy hair fell into her face and around her shoulders. He propped her up, holding her with one hand against her malnourished body. With the other he took the picture. The picture that he would label when he got back. The picture that would have only one word on it.
Mar 1, 2018 in romance