“Nurses and doctors!” he said, still rubbing his hand over his face. “All night… I only saw nurses and doctors coming to check on her. No one else!”
“You were supposed to stay at her door,” Luke said. “But you didn’t, did you?” He could just guess why. A reason that was about five-foot-two, one hundred and twenty pounds…
Shame there, flashing on Andy’s face. “I just went down to talk to Sissy. Ten minutes, I swear—and I could still make sure the hall was clear from the station. I could see the room!”
Bullshit. If he’d still been able to make sure the hall was clear, Laura wouldn’t be dead.
“That’s the only time you weren’t right next to Laura’s room?” Monica asked, pushing back her hair.
“Then who did you see? Who passed you when you were chumming it up with Sissy? Who?” When she got going, Monica could be fierce.
Hard. Smart. Sexy.
He cleared his throat.
Andy blinked a few times. “I-I… a doctor. Yeah, yeah—a doctor. He had on green scrubs and one of them little hats and—”
“Did you see his face?” Luke asked.
Andy’s eyes met his and fell.
Luke knew the answer before the quiet response even came. “No.”
Sissy Sue Hollings had enough nervous energy to fill up the whole room. Her body vibrated. Her curls bounced, and her eyes shifted from Monica to Luke to the Sheriff, then back. One really big circle, over and over again.
Monica crossed her arms. “When you were talking with Deputy Vickers—”
“At approximately 4:30 a.m.,” Luke felt obliged to help.
“Did you see a man walk past the nurse’s station?”
Sissy Sue’s lips parted.
“Did you, Sissy?” Now Davis was stepping up. He’d suspended Vickers, told the deputy he’d be sitting on the sidelines, but Davis’s anger still had his cheeks tinted red. “Did you see him?”
The faintest of nods. “But-but that was just a doctor—”
“Really?” Monica asked. “Which doctor was it? What was his name?”
Sissy’s mouth closed. A furrow grew between her brows.
Come on! “Did you see his face, Ms. Hollings?” Luke demanded.
She shook her head.
“Right.” Monica’s hands dropped. “And I’m guessing the idea of stopping him and asking for ID never crossed your mind.”
Or the deputy’s. But then, Luke knew exactly where Andy’s mind had been.
“He—he was a doctor…” Sissy’s whisper.
“No,” Monica told her. “He was a killer.”
Monica waited until she was alone to make the call. She didn’t bother calling the SSD. She used Hyde’s private line, a number she’d had for years.
“What happened?” No grogginess, no confusion. Blunt and hard. Always the way he answered the phone, and, of course, he knew it was her. He would have seen the caller ID.
Monica took a deep breath. “Laura Billings is dead.” She glanced down the long hospital corridor. Luke had gone back to talk to the family again. He’d come back with a list of names—friends, lovers. Luke had a way of working through the victims’ grief and always getting the information he needed. “He got to her, Hyde. Came right in the hospital last night and killed Laura in her bed.”
“Dammit. What about the guard? I know you stationed—”
“He walked right by him. Looks like our guy stole some scrubs and just slipped in.” Bold, but then, she’d already known that about the killer.
“This story is going to leak to the national media soon.” He sighed. “Kenton will be there in a few hours. Let him take care of the reporters. You just stick to working this perp.”
Her fingers tightened around the phone. “He made contact.”
Silence. Thick. The tension hummed over the cell.
“Run that by me again.” She could almost see him, pacing near that picture window in his den. He would have grabbed his cordless phone and gone in there immediately. He always thought better in his den.
“Earlier tonight…” Dawn was almost here now. “He slipped one of his notes under my motel room door and then he called.” She kept her voice even. Good thing she’d practiced doing that over the years. But if anyone could look past the surface, it was Hyde.
“He called the motel room?”
“No.” And this was worrying her. “My cell phone. I don’t know how he got access—and we need to find out—but he called my private line. I’ve already talked to Sam. The bastard used Laura’s phone, and he left it for me, right by our SUV.”
“Doubt it.” He wouldn’t have made a mistake like that. “I gave it to the techs down here for dusting. We’re also checking to see if any other calls were made by our guy.” The phone records should be ready for her by the time she got back to the station.
“Talking with Laura’s family.” She turned, gazing out the window, and knew he’d be doing the same. “He wanted me to know he was watching. Fair enough, because I’m sure after him.”
“I don’t like it. Dammit, I don’t like any of this.”
Neither did she. “It’s not unexpected. Perps can often fixate on the agents assigned to track them. He knows the SSD is here. It’s a pissing match, sir. He’s trying to show he’s not going to be scared.” That we should be scared.
“Monica…” Not Davenport, not this time. “Are you okay?” Soft, quiet, and she knew it wasn’t her boss who was asking. It was the man who’d seen her through the dark.
“He doesn’t scare me.” It took so much more than this guy.
“If you need me, I’m there.”
He’d always been there.
Footsteps sounded in the hallway, tapping lightly on the tile. She glanced over her shoulder. Luke was headed toward her. “Yes, sir, if we see the need for additional backup, I’ll make sure we contact you right away.” Her gaze held Luke’s.
“You do that,” Hyde said into her ear. “And you send me everything you’ve got on this perp. I don’t want him playing his games with you.”
The sheriff gave them a room to work in at the station. Not a big office. Maybe a ten-by-eight space with one window. But the size didn’t matter. Luke was damn grateful they’d finally gotten some privacy and a solid door between them and the good folks of Jasper.