Author's Note: This book has instances of gross and horrid references. If murder, violence and horror are not your thing, you might just want to pass this one by. Thanks for reading me!
Gabe had no idea of how right he was.
A chair went flying across the room, followed by an orange streak as Buddha ran from the room. A vase followed, shattering in a burst of colored glass as it crashed against the wall. Papers flew as he pushed mail and dishes off the breakfast bar, a lamp crashed against the refrigerator, shards of pottery raining down onto the kitchen linoleum. He stood, chest heaving, his eyes tracking the room and taking in the damage he had caused as rage flared through his system.
He forced himself to be still, forced his mind to calm as he had when he was young. That little voice, the one that had stood him in good stead as a child talked to him now. "We'll get even, she'll see us, don't worry. She'll love us," it whispered quietly. "Take care of business, take care of now. Soon."
He wiped the sweat off of his forehead with a handkerchief he pulled from his pocket. With a smile, he turned towards the stairs, his next gift waited for him down there. And this gift was sure to get her attention.
He opened the basement door, pulling the heavy panel closed behind him. The screams started as soon as he turned on the light switch. He stood for a moment, enjoying the sound, letting it soothe him even more than the voice ever could have.
Starting down the stairs, he could see into the small plastic cube approximately half the size of the other room he'd always used. But that room was for Kaylee, he wouldn't let this one ruin one thing that was to be Kaylee's. Instead, the cube was shorter, barely tall enough for a woman to stand.
She was sitting in a chair, tied to the arms and legs with long thick plastic zip ties. The ties had rubbed into her skin, leaving deep wounds in the flesh of her wrists and ankles. Blood had dripped onto the floor around her. She was naked, vulnerable and fear shone in her eyes.
"Please, let me go," she begged as soon as she saw him. "I won't tell, I promise. Please, God." Her voice was muffled from the plastic, coming to him from the holes drilled across the top of the plastic cube.
He pulled open the door and went inside, dropping to his knees which put him at just about the same height as the girl in the chair. He came closer, staring into her eyes, letting his fingertips run across her arm and up to her shoulder. She tried to pull away, gasping at the pain in her wrist from the movement. His hand tangled in the snarled and matted hair just above her ears. It was the wrong color, sandy blonde, and cut short.
He pulled his hand back, taking her head with it until her throat was a tender and defenseless arched line, her pulse beating madly, pulsing against her pale skin. He leaned closer, feeling her shaking as his mouth touched that throbbing pulse. His tongue slipped out, licking at the salty tang of sweat her struggles and fear had left upon her skin, savoring the taste of her terror.
His eyes roamed over her naked body, eyeing the slightly sagging breasts, the scar that bisected her flabby stomach. Her sex was covered in light blonde wisps of hair, her frame so different from the taut, tawny bodies of the girls that he had loved.
He let his eyes show his disgust. She was nothing like his normal prey, so unworthy of his attentions. If only she hadn't done and said what she had that day, he wouldn't have ever even seen her. But she was here now, here and his to do with what he wished.
His hand slid down her front, cupping her breast even as she whined and tried to pull away from him. His fingers pulled at her nipple, tugging and twisting gently. It hardened under his ministrations, making him laugh. "Look at you." He laughed derisively. "You're like the rest of them. You fight and fight but your bodies crave my touch. In the end, you'll beg me, just like the rest of them did."
He moved away, leaving the cube and going to a small dresser off to the side of the room. After fumbling through a drawer, he returned, a brush in his hands. He carefully brushed the mats and tangles out of her short blonde hair, brushing it gently away from her face. Every time she would try to pull away, he would turn the brush, using it like a paddle on her arms and legs, raising bright red welts across her skin.
He finally finished, putting the brush handle side down inside the back pocket of his jeans. He moved around so that he faced her, using his hands to stroke over the smooth strands. He wiped the tears from under her eyes with his thumbs, smiling gently. Reaching into his front pocket, he pulled out a long trail of bright red silk ribbon. He wrapped it around her hair, tying it deftly into a bow and then moving the bow so that it lay just above her left ear.
The girl, sobs racking her form, tried to hold still for him. She prayed silently through her tears, begging God to help her. When her captor moved away once more, she prayed that he would leave, that he would go away like he had before. Even sitting in the chair, cold, scared and having to pee was better than having his eyes on her body, the disgust he felt evident. It was better than having his hands on her.
When he turned, she screamed. His face had changed, it was no longer kind or disgusted, now his eyes had grown hard and cold. He pulled off his clothes, grabbing her hips and dragging her forward in the chair, twisting the ties around her ankles so they bit even deeper in to her abused flesh. He plunged into her dry sex and as his hands closed around her throat, his body ripping into hers, she begged.
* * * *
Kaylee sighed and rubbed her eyes tiredly. Her day off had gone by far too fast and she was due in to the restaurant early this morning. Lucky her, she was doing prep with Devon. Another sigh slipped from her as she walked across the deserted parking lot to the back door. It was just one more little jab from Devon at her, forcing her to come in this early in the morning to work with her.
But she needed this job. She had bills to pay, rent due and she happened to like eating on a regular basis. So if she needed to kiss up to dragon queen Devon to keep her job, then so be it. She would.
As she drew closer, she noticed something strange. The employee entrance, also used for deliveries, was wide open, the door propped with a block.
Kaylee's step slowed. Devon never left that door open, she was almost anal about locks and security, keeping things safe and the health department off of their case. She looked around the lot, her eyes searching out the shadows. The only two cars were hers, retrieved from the crime lab yesterday, and Devon's. It was almost eerily quiet.
"Devon?" she called softly, looking in the open door. Everything looked okay to her. The door opened into the back hallway. Two doors opened from that hall, one going into the locker room that everyone used, the other going into the manager's office. The door to the office stood open.
Kaylee took a couple hesitant steps in. "Devon?" she called once more. "Where are you?"
Her heart was racing, she knew something was wrong. She knew it. She could feel it. Two more quiet steps forward and she could see just inside the manager's office. It wasn't a big room, more like a closet with a desk and a safe. Extra tills were stacked on a shelf off to one side. A chair sat in front of the desk, empty.
Kaylee took the last step that put her in front of the door. A gasp of horror escaped her lips as she stared at the figure sitting behind the desk. She backed away from the door slowly, turning and running out of the building, her hand digging through her purse, frantically looking for her cell phone. She hurried to her car, unlocking it quickly and sitting in the driver's seat before dialing 911.
She was still sitting there, on the phone with the 911 operator when the first police cruiser pulled up, lights flashing. One officer came toward her as she opened her car door.
"She's inside, in the office. She's dead. I know she's dead." She knew she was babbling and hysterical but she was terrified.
"Okay, ma'am. Did you see anyone else inside the building?" As she shook her head, he waved her back. "Sit back in your car and don't move." The officer moved towards the building, pulling his duty weapon as he went, his partner standing off to the side of the door. They went in together, one low the other high. She heard one of them call out. "Police!"
Two more cruisers showed up in short order and she was escorted to one of them and given a seat in the back. She watched as an officer taped off the area. Police went in and out of the restaurant, but no one came and talked to her.
Just as she was about to open the door and find someone, an unmarked car pulled up and Gabe stepped out of the driver's side. Another man stepped out of the passenger side and they both walked up to one of the uniformed officers. He gestured towards the cruiser that she was sitting in and Gabe nodded, talked a few more moments and then headed her way.
"Are you okay?" he asked quietly as he opened the cruiser door.
"Devon's dead, he killed her, the maniac with the red ribbons. And he left her for me to find, Gabe." She felt panicked tears slip down her cheeks and wiped them away with furious hands. She was scared and she hated herself for being scared. But she was also mad. "Why would he kill Devon? She doesn't have dark hair and she's so much older than his other victims."
"You've thought this through, haven't you?" Gabe asked, crouching down in front of the door to be at her height.
"I've been sitting in a car for over an hour, Gabe. I didn't have much more to do than think. It's like the box in my car. He's leaving things for me to find." She held her bag close to her stomach, wrapping her arms over it, huddling into herself. "How he knew my schedule, I don't know. All I do know is he left her there for me to find, he's following me and watching me. Do you believe me now?"
Gabe pushed the dark hair off his forehead and pulled a cigarette out of his pocket, looking at it and then putting it back in with a sigh. "I don't know anything yet, Kaylee. I've got to go work the scene. I need you to stay put here and then I'll be back to talk to you in a little while." He patted her on the shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze.
A car pulled in, a man in a suit getting out and storming towards one of the officers. Gabe saw him, gave Kaylee one last reassuring smile and then went to head him off.
"I'm sorry sir, this is a crime scene and you can't be here."
"My name is Tyler Wentworth. I own this restaurant." The older man puffed out his chest and tried to stare Gabe down. "I want to know what's going on here. Do you know what all this hullabaloo is going to do to business?"
He stood his ground. "Mr. Wentworth, I don't have all the facts yet. When I do, I'll be happy to let you know all the pertinent data. Until that time," he grabbed the man by the shoulder, "if you could go and talk to that man over there," he pointed towards the man he'd brought with him, Detective Alan Scott. "He'll have some questions for you."
The crime scene team along with the coroner's van showed up as he was talking. Gabe pulled a pair of latex gloves from his pocket, pulling them on as he turned toward the back door of the building.
Walking inside, he could smell a strong scent of cleaner. Under it, the unmistakable smell of death mixed with the scent of cooking from the kitchen area. The tiles on the floor gleamed, and he stepped to the side of the door, hugging the wall of the hallway. Tile floors were excellent for lifting shoe prints, as long as the killer hadn't cleaned behind himself.
He found himself in the entryway to the office, staring at the victim's body. Devon Basset sat behind the desk, her body dressed garishly in clothing that was too tight for her heavier body. Her face had been made up, bright blue eye makeup covered her eyes, harshly red blush streaked her pale cheeks, and garishly scarlet lipstick covered her lips and smeared over her skin.
Her blonde hair was brushed back and a red ribbon tied in a bow just above her ear. A red halter bit into her ample breasts. She was propped up behind the desk, tied to the chair behind her. One glance sent a chill down Gabe's spine. Kaylee was right, if this was the same man, Devon definitely wasn't his normal choice in victims, being twenty years older than the oldest of the first five victims. She was also heavier and with hair the wrong color.
Gabe moved into the room, cautiously. There was a sheet of paper on the desk, a pen lying lax in Devon's hands that were resting upon the paper. From what he could see on the paper, an almost illegible scrawl had written two words. "I'm Sorry."
"Sorry for what, Devon?" Gabe asked aloud.
The coroner came in, stepping to the other side of Gabe. "Oh my," he said as he got his first glance. "Someone really has a problem with women."
"Or with this woman," Gabe said. "How you doing, Mitch?"
Doctor Mitch Vetnor was their coroner, thirty two years old and a huge player of practical jokes. But he took his job and his patients seriously. "Doing good, Gabe. Was better before I saw this but..." Mitch shrugged. He reached around, feeling for a pulse. "Welp, she's definitely dead."
"Funny, Mitch, now tell me something I don't know."
Mitch moved around to the other side of the body. He carefully moved part of her hand. "She's just coming out of rigor. I'd say time of death was yesterday sometime, very early." He moved her head to the side slightly, exposing deep puffy bruises, caused by fingers. "I'd say cause of death was suffocation. And from the look of the bruises and the way they ring her neck," he looked up at Gabe, "I'd say she was strangled until she was unconscious and then brought around so that he could do it over and over."
"Shit," Gabe hissed.
"Yeah. I'll be able to give you more at my post after I open her up. This is one sick fuck, Gabe." Mitch stepped back as the crime scene analysts showed up at the door. "I'll get out of your way, tell me when I can take the body." He walked out.
Kiley Ames and Brandon Staples from the crime lab, each carrying a metal case, Kiley with a camera around her neck, stopped just inside of the door.
"Jeez," Kiley breathed. She sat down her case and lifted up her camera, taking duplicate overalls of the entire room before taking pictures of the note, the pen just lying on Devon's hands. "I thought our guy was into brunettes? Escalating?"
"Or making a statement." Gabe leaned over, staring down at the paper. "I wonder what he wanted her to be sorry about."
"We'll get it printed right away, Gabe. He's got to start making mistakes soon. They always do, sooner or later." Brandon lifted the note in his latex covered hands and slid it carefully into an evidence bag. The pen went into another. He sealed the bags and slipped them into another bag.
"Kiley, get some pictures of her wrists." He moved out of the way, holding her arms out slightly so that the ligature marks could be plainly seen.
Gabe stared down at her bare legs, seeing the same torn and bruised skin around her ankles. Large gashes, made by something very hard and tight that she struggled against ringed her ankles. Ropes caused bruises, burns and chafing marks. These ligature marks looked more like something made with plastic or wire.
Blood had run in streaks down her legs, drying on her pale skin. Gabe felt a surge of unprofessional rage well inside of him. Murder was dirty; it was a cheap thrill for a sick mind. Crimes of passion were more easily understood, rage could affect anyone. But a serial killer was like a sick dog. He killed for the thrill, for the joy, for the pleasure that he derived from someone else's pain.
And a man who would take a young woman away from her family for no other reason than his own personal perversions was the worse. That's what they were up against here.
"Get me results quick as you can, okay?" he touched dark haired Kiley on the shoulder. "And be careful. I don't want to come to a scene like this and find you."
Kiley tapped the Glock strapped to her side. "He wouldn't find me an easy victim, Gabe, but thanks for caring." She smiled and turned back to her work as Gabe slipped out of the room.
* * * *
Kaylee sat up straighter when she saw Gabe walk out of the restaurant door. Tears streaked her cheeks and her head throbbed from stress and crying. She gave him a tremulous smile as he walked up to the car door.
"This is my fault, isn't it?" she asked, her voice unsteady.
"No, this isn't your fault, Kaylee, how could you think that?" He crouched down in front of her. "A killer took her, he murdered her. It's his fault, not yours."
"But he left me that box, didn't he? He broke into my car and left that box. He took her and killed her. He must be watching me. So it is my fault she's dead." Tears slipped down her cheeks despite her best effort to stop them.
"Listen to me, Kaylee. You didn't do anything to attract him. This isn't your fault. You've got to believe that, okay?"
"Okay," she said, but he heard the doubt in her voice.
"I need to get a statement from you. I'm going to have you taken downtown. I want you to wait for me there."
"Can't I stay with you now?" Kaylee looked around the area nervously. "I feel like I'm being watched."
Gabe stared at the gathering crowd of people. Their killer could be there watching them right now. A lot of serials liked to watch the cops work the scene. They got a thrill out of standing so close to the men and women that were hunting them, out of seeing what havoc their handiwork wrought.
"Kaylee, I want you to look at the crowd out there and tell me if anyone seems even vaguely familiar. Can you do that?"
She took the hand he held out and got out of the car as he stood up.
"Just make it nonchalant., nothing overt. Just scan the crowd. We don't want to alert him."
Kaylee stared around at the crowd, her eyes scanning each face. She saw people that were regulars at the restaurant, a couple looking upset that they were missing their morning coffee because the manager managed to get herself killed.
She saw a few men that, to her untrained eyes, could look suspicious, but not a single one had their eyes trained on her.
"I don't recognize any of them, Gabe. I'm sorry." She glanced around again, catching the eyes of one man, a dark haired man. There was nothing unusual about him, nothing that screamed out that he was a serial killer. Why couldn't they all have wild eyes and bushy hair with a swastika tattooed between their eyes like Charlie Manson?
"When was the last time you saw Devon, Kaylee?" he asked.
"Two days ago. I was working a split shift that day, the day you came to the restaurant. She left about an hour before you came in." She rubbed a tired hand across her aching forehead. "She'd reamed me out at the restaurant for being late for my shift. Oh, God, the last thought I had about her was how I wished someone would kill her and put her out of my misery." She closed her eyes as shame flashed through her. "How could I wish that on anyone?"
"You're normal. That's how." He patted her arm. "She didn't seem upset or concerned about anything when she left? Was she alone?"
"I got nothing more than the usual Devon BS. She snapped at me and told me to be on time today. And," she tipped her head to the side, thinking, "as far as I know, she's never with anyone. She never had many friends."
"Okay. I'm going to have you taken downtown now. We'll get into this more then. I'll be there as soon as I can." He wished he could touch her in some way, let her know that he would be there for her. He'd had problems getting her out of is head since the first time he'd seen her, standing with a tray of food, making a face at a two year old boy that had sent the little boy into peals of laughter.
Even taking her home, seeing her in her bedroom, a precious stone set in beautiful surroundings, had made her more beautiful, more desirable. He could feel her pull; feel the attraction he had for her and knew he couldn't give in to it. She was a witness, a victim and a case. He had to think of the case.
So after taking measurements by how tall she thought the man had been after seeing Gabe outside her bedroom window, he'd left her his card, writing his home number on the back, and had gone back to work, to immerse himself in the case.
Now here he was again, feeling that pull, sensing she felt the same and not being able to act upon it. He put her back in the patrol car, called over the officer and gave him instructions and then went back to work. He had other interviews and a family to call.
* * * *
Kaylee stared at the dull gray walls of the small room she'd been left in. It was cold, dingy and very unwelcoming. She had her choice; she could stare at the dull gray walls, at the reflection of herself in the undoubtedly two way mirror, or into the cup of rapidly cooling grayish sludge the officer had dropped into her hands before leaving her here.
None of the three were very welcoming.
She kept seeing Devon's face, that garish makeup, those too tight clothes. And worse, the nasty swelled bruises that circled her neck. She thought back to that last day, how she had told her roommates so vehemently that she wished Devon would die or move to Tucson, one or the other, so she'd be out of Kaylee's hair. How could she have been so crass?
She glanced down at the watch that circled her slim wrist. Time seemed to be moving almost backwards, the hour she'd spent in this room felt like days. It must make for a fantastic interviewing technique. Leave the poor fool in this tiny space and let them stew until they think they'll go mad, than come in. She felt like she'd confess to Devon's murder herself just to get out of this room.
The door clicked open just as she was about to stand up and pace the floor again.
"Sorry I had to leave you in here so long," Gabe said, kicking the door closed behind him. In his hands he held two cups of steaming brew that held the aroma of real coffee and not the scorched and bitter smell of the diesel oil that was in the cup she'd nursed for an hour. "It couldn't be avoided."
"Thanks," she said, taking the cup from his hand. She took a sip and sighed. He'd even fixed it the way she liked, two sugars, one cream. "This is good."
"Yeah, I swiped it from Vice. They have the good coffee maker. I think they confiscated it at one of their raids."
She smiled as he had hoped she would. It was just a slight twist of her full lips, but it was there. He spun the chair across from her around, straddling it, leaning his elbows on the back. He pulled a small cassette recorder from his pocket, setting it on the desk. "I need to record this if you don't mind."
Kaylee stared at the tape recorder, her mind reeling. It was like a nightmare out of some bad cop drama on TV. "No, I guess not."
"Thanks," he said, pushing the record buttons. In a neutral voice he gave the date and time, his own name and hers. "Now Kaylee, I'm going to read you your rights." He spoke quickly before she could interrupt or get upset. "It's for your protection as well as our own. It doesn't mean you're under arrest or even under suspicion for anything. Okay?"
She got visibly upset, her hands wrapping around the Styrofoam cup shaking. She nodded her head, closing her eyes for a second as she listened to what he was saying.
"Now, do you understand those rights as I've just explained them to you?"
"Yes," she said, loud enough for the recorder to hear her.
"Good." He smiled, trying to be encouraging. "Now, Kaylee, can you take me through what happened this morning?"
Kaylee took another small sip of the coffee and sighed, feeling her head throbbing more as the caffeine hit her system. "Okay. Where do you want me to start?"
"You had to work this morning, opening with Devon..." he prompted.
"Yeah, and after she read me the riot act for being late the other day, I didn't want to be late this morning. I got to the restaurant around 6:30 a.m. and the first thing I noticed was the back door was blocked open." She took another sip and then sat the cup down, picking at the rim of it.
"Devon is a stickler for the rules. We aren't supposed to leave that open for any reason at all. It's too close to the manager's office where the safe is and it's also a health department law. It could cause food contamination from germs, that kind of thing because the dumpster is so close to the back door." She looked up at Gabe. "I knew something was wrong right then. Devon would never, not in a million years, leave that door opened."
"Okay, then what happened."
"I was scared, terrified actually. After the gift in my car and all of that, I haven't been able to quit being scared. I made myself walk in. I called her name two or three times and when she didn't answer, I went to her office. And I found...that," she finished, raising her hand to her mouth and pressing hard. "He meant for me to find her, he meant for me to, just like he had with the gift. Did he do this with the others, leave them gifts?" A tear streaked down her cheek and she wiped it away angrily.
"No, Kaylee, he didn't. That's why we're not so sure it's him. It could be a copycat, someone who's read the paper and then became fixated on you." He reached out and squeezed her hand gently, encouragingly. "Now, once more, when you left for work this morning, you drove in the way you normally do?"
"Yeah, I drove the same route I always do. I didn't stop anywhere because I wanted to be there early so Devon wouldn't have anything to get on my case about."
"You didn't see anyone?"
"No, no one, not on the drive in, not once I got to the parking lot. But I was more focused on the door then anything else." She felt a sting on her fingers, a drop of coffee falling from the lip of her cup that she had ripped apart, landing upon the back of her hand. She rubbed it off with her thumb. "I thought about it after I saw her, he could still be in the restaurant, or waiting outside for me to come out."
"So why didn't you stay put?" Gabe forced himself to sit up a little in his chair. He wanted to lean forward and lace his hand with hers, do what he could to help her through this ordeal. He knew the sudden shock of finding a dead body, how it felt to realize the person in front of him was dead. The icy feeling of shock that crept through, taking your breath. Horror, especially at the gruesomeness of murder, and the way it affected someone and kept affecting them no matter what was done was almost second nature in his job.
"I couldn't stay in that room with her," Kaylee said, her voice full of shame. "I couldn't wait there for the cops, Gabe. I just couldn't."
"It's okay, Kaylee. No one expected you to stay in there. I know a lot of new homicide detectives who can't handle death even half as well as you did." He wrote a few notes in his notebook, nothing probative, just taking enough time to get himself under control once more.
"Okay, now take me back, the last time you saw Devon before today. You said she read you the riot act. What was that about?"
"It was the morning that I called you the first time. I was late coming in because of the call, the one I made to talk to you. Devon railed on me about being late all the time. She waited until I was coming back off a break and started in on me just outside of the kitchen." Kaylee closed her eyes, seeing the scene in her mind as clear as a bell. "She was yelling at me and I looked around because I was embarrassed that she was doing this in front of everyone. I thought I saw this guy, he looked really interested in what she was saying, but when I looked again, he was gone."
"What did this guy look like?" Gabe sat forward, his pen poised above his notepad.
"I... I'm not sure. I just caught a quick look at him. You know, like out of the corner of my eye. When I turned to look again, he was gone." Kaylee folded her hands together in front of her trying to control their shaking.
Gabe sat down his pen with a quiet sigh. It was never easy. "Kaylee, I want you to close your eyes for me, okay, just relax and close your eyes." He waited, hearing her soft exhale in the muted silence of the interrogation room. She closed her eyes, her features softening slightly and he couldn't help but see the deep dark shadows around her eyes, the lines near her mouth that told him just how scared and stressed she actually was.
But there wasn't anything he could do about that but capture this creep and put him away.
"Okay, Kaylee, now I want you to listen to the sound of my voice. You know you are safe here, no one can harm you. I want you to think back on that last day, when Devon was yelling at you. I want you to look around you, see the kitchen staff working, the other waitresses. There are tables of people waiting to be served. See them?"
Kaylee let herself be drawn into the sound of his voice, welcoming the cool deep tones of it like a lifeline to take her away from the image of Devon in that grisly little office. She let his voice create the pictures, seeing the tables and the kitchen staff, Tina breezed by, a large tray up on her shoulder and a look of sympathy upon her face as Devon's voice seemed to buzz annoyingly in her ear. Then she forced herself to turn, to see the man sitting in the first booth, to study him though every bone in her body cringed away from it.
"Now Kaylee, turn and look at him. He can't hurt you now. You are safe, here at the police station and with me. Look at him and tell me what you see."
"He has blue eyes, pale blue, and kind of eerie. He's looking at Devon, not at me though."
"What about the rest of him?" Gabe asked, watching as she squinted as if trying to focus the image clearer.
"Dark hair, I don't know. Brown, I guess. It's all fuzzy except for his eyes." Kaylee opened her own, frustration and anger battling inside of her. "I can't see him. All I see are his eyes and then Devon, staring at me, dead."
Gabe felt his heart go out to the poor girl. It was hell being in the position she was in, but he couldn't afford to give out sympathy now. He had a man out there killing women and this one girl might be the answer to catch him.
"I'm going to have you put under police protection. We'll have you escorted to a safe house and someone will be with you twenty-four hours a day until we catch him."
Her head was shaking before he even finished the sentence. "No. Gabe, there is no way I'm going into hiding."
"Kaylee, think about what would be safest for you. We can even bring your friends along too if you'd like and are worried about them. I just want you taken care of." Gabe reached out and covered her folded hands with one of his own.
"Then you do it."
"What?" he asked, shaking his head at her sudden change of heart.
"I'll stay with you," she said simply."
His hand tightened on top of hers for a single moment before he leaned back in his chair, staring at her in consternation. "I can't baby-sit you, Kaylee. I have to solve this case."
"And who better than to have me around then you? He seems to be drawn to me, Gabe." She sat forward, more relaxed now that she had made up her mind than she'd been since she'd first pulled into the driveway of the restaurant this morning. "You said it yourself, I need protection from him. I want you."
"Kaylee..." Gabe stuttered to a halt, incredulous. He stood, staring into the two way mirror where he could see his reflection. But he knew his boss, Captain Tony Morales was on the other side, listening and watching his interview with Kaylee. And probably taping it as well.
"This isn't the only case on my desk, Kaylee. It's the most important right now, but not the only one. You'll be safe with the team that my boss picks out for you. No one will no where you are, not even me." He turned and stared at the beautiful brunette. "It's important that we work with you and that you work with us, Kaylee. You know that. So this guy doesn't have the chance to hurt anyone else.
"Fine," Kaylee sighed, giving up. She was tired and edgy, too much caffeine and too many nerves combining to make her feel fragile and restless. "I'll go with them, Gabe." She couldn't help the hurt that seeped into her tone, unfair as it may be. He was right, she wasn't his only case and she was making it too personal, but dammit, it was personal. How much more personal could it get then to have some sicko kill off your boss in hopes to make you happy?
Gabe walked over and squeezed her shoulder. "You're doing the right thing, Kaylee. Just relax and I'll get it set up for you now. We can send someone over to your place to pack you some clothes and personal things." He smiled at her and left the room.
If it was the right thing to do, it certainly didn't feel that way. Her stomach was tied in knots, churning from the coffee and stress. Her temples were throbbing in time to her pulse, making her feel even sicker than before. She pushed the cup aside, crossing her arms on the scarred surface of the table and resting her head on them, closing her eyes against the bright fluorescents.
That was the picture that greeted Gabe when he walked in. She seemed so tiny, so defeated in the too bare room. He wanted to sweep her up, carry her away like some knight of old and fix all her problems. But he couldn't, he just couldn't keep an eye on her and work the case at the same time. He needed her safe somewhere, out of sight of the killer, out of harm's way.
Kaylee felt him more than heard him come into the room. She lifted her head, working up a tired smile. "Everything ready?"
"Yep." He smiled back. "I've got some of the best in the area going to be watching out for you, Kaylee. You'll have someone with you twenty-four hours until we round him up." He reached over, taking her elbow and helped her to her feet. "It shouldn't take long and then, when this is over, you can go home and get on with your life."
He stood close, too close, Kaylee thought as she inhaled his intriguing scent. She had to fight herself to not turn and press her face in his chest, to ask him to wrap his arms around her, to hold her tightly against him until she could finally feel safe again.
Instead, she worked up a smile, weak as it might be, and walked out of the room.
Sep 16, 2018 in romance