Dante gave a grim nod, and Monica tried to ignore the echoing sounds of Mary’s sobs.
Not the way the game was supposed to end.
His hands shook, so he balled them into fists, and when the FBI ass**les walked past him he ducked into the shadows of the parking lot.
The bitch should have been dead. No damn way should she have been breathing when those suits pulled her out of that hole.
He’d had fun with Laura. He’d sealed her up, but hadn’t buried her. Not right away. He’d let her wait. Let her scream. Let her know what was happening.
Hearing the screams had been even better than seeing her face.
You could hear fear so clearly. Those high, desperate cries, those broken sobs. He’d drunk in the sounds.
Then, he’d dumped the earth on her. Nice and slow. Letting her hear it, letting her know exactly what was happening to her.
He’d timed things so perfectly. Laura Billings should have died in that ground. Died trying to gasp air that just wasn’t there. And she’d been close to death…
But no, those ass**les had wrecked his plan and now—now he’d have to change the rules.
Laura would still die. She’d been chosen, and her reprieve would be brief.
He glanced over at the hospital as an ambulance sped through the lot, its bright lights flashing and its siren wailing.
Maybe it would be better this way. Laura had feared the darkness and the confinement before. Now she’d fear him.
So when he came for her, the fear would be even sweeter.
“Hyde is sending backup.” Monica tossed her cell phone onto her bed and put her hands on her hips. “He knows the killer’s notes are coming and he’ll have the techs and handwriting analysts work on them right away.”
“Who’s coming?” Luke asked. “Kenton or—”
“Kenton. Hyde wants him to handle the media fallout on this one. Kenton’s good at that kind of thing.” A pause. “And if there’s trouble, he’ll have our backs.”
Absolute certainty in her voice. Huh. He’d always thought she wasn’t the trusting sort. “Close to him, are you?”
Her hands dropped. “I’ve worked my share of cases with Kenton.”
Oh, so that guy was Kenton, but she acted like it would kill her if she called him anything but Dante. “Sleeping with him?”
Her eyes snapped to his and froze him in his tracks.
Jealousy could be one major bitch. Luke licked his lips. “Ah, what I meant…”
She paced toward him, bright spots of color on her cheeks. Her eyes were glacial and narrowed to slits. “I don’t need this crap from you,” she gritted out and jabbed her index finger into his chest.
He caught her wrist and probably held too tight. “My mistake,” he managed. The words seemed to stick in his throat. “Who you sleep with is your business.” Lie, lie, lie.
Everything about her was his business. Had been, from the moment he’d taken her into his bed.
“You think because I had sex with you…” She paused, lifted that chin up another notch, “that I screw all the men I work with?”
Oh, she’d better not. Kenton’s grinning face flashed through his mind.
“Don’t even think it, man. Not going to happen.” Kenton’s words. Had he meant…
She turned away from him. Straightened her shoulders. “I respect Kenton, do you understand that? We’ve been into Hell with some of our cases, and I have never—not once—seen him lose his control. He always does his job, and he does it damn well.”
Control. Oh, yeah, that had always been important to her. Not so much to him.
“And I don’t sleep with agents on my team, okay? I learned a lesson from you. Business and pleasure aren’t meant to mix.”
But they’d mixed so well.
Not sleeping with Kenton. Thank you, Jesus.
“The guy can have a bad sense of humor, but I trust Kenton to watch my back.” The heat was gone, and the control she loved was firmly back. Pity. He’d liked that flare of steam. “I trust him to do his job, a job I’ve seen him do very, very well.”
He gave a hard nod. “You trust everyone on your team, or you don’t trust anyone.” More words from Kenton.
“But that trust only goes so far, doesn’t it? Only as far as the job.” Shouldn’t have said it. But, he was the kind of guy who liked to push.
No, he liked to push her.
Monica froze. “Trusting someone with your life—you think that’s easy?”
“No.” The woman could twist and turn everything. She could trip a suspect up in two minutes, could get those confessions to spill so fast. “I think you trust them because it’s your job, but when it comes to the secrets you carry,” and he knew she had secrets because everyone had them, even him, “you don’t trust anyone.”
Now she did glance back. “Leave it alone, Dante.”
“You mean, leave you alone?” He’d tried that. Gotten a lot of sleepless nights and hard-ons as a result. He sucked in a deep breath and caught more of her heady scent. The case. Stick to the case.
Her eyes held his. Dammit, no one should have eyes that blue.
When she came, those eyes had gone blind with pleasure. Hell.
“Sorry,” he growled and eased back. The better to escape her scent. Her.
She didn’t blink. “It’s been a long day.”
A day filled with crime scene analysis. Witness interviews. And a lot of jack shit. Because the killer was good.
Or he had been, until Miss Laura Billings had survived his attack.
“Get some sleep,” she told him in that perfect, you-don’t-bother-me voice. “The doctor said Laura will be up tomorrow. We’ll find out what she knows then.”
Laura had permanent protection now, courtesy of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department. A deputy would guard her door every minute.
He’d seen Laura before they left the hospital. She’d been out cold, her breathing so soft and slow she’d appeared to be near death. ’Cause she had been.
When she woke, there was no telling what she’d say. Would she remember her attack? Remember the bastard who’d grabbed her and left her for dead?
Her face had been slack with terror when the ambulance hauled her away from the crime scene. A fear like that…“She’s not going to want to talk with us.”
“She has to talk.”