Lover’s eyes filled with possession, heat, and lust.
It would be too easy to figure out Dante’s fears.
But Dante wasn’t his prey.
They turned up ahead, taking Peter’s Junction, and his foot eased a bit on the accelerator.
That way—it led to the Moffett house. Why go there? Why tonight?
He pulled off the road, taking a deep breath. No, that wasn’t the taste of fear on his tongue. He wasn’t afraid. Never afraid.
But maybe Agent Davenport had learned more than he thought in Gatlin. If she’d stumbled onto his secret, someone would pay. Someone would scream and beg and bleed—and pay.
Behind him, a muffled groan broke the silence.
He smiled. Pay.
They took the flashlights from the back of the SUV. Big, thick Mags that were like mini-spotlights, cutting through the darkness that surrounded them.
“The woods,” she said, jogging ahead and pretty much seeming to talk to herself. “Why these woods?” The woman always hurried ahead of him.
He pulled out his weapon. He wasn’t about to take any chances on a killer’s hunting grounds.
His light swept the perimeter and caught the glittering stare of a possum.
Luke kept close to Monica, his gun ready. Branches bit and tore at him. An owl hooted somewhere far in the distance, and crickets chirped from the cover of darkness.
And Luke couldn’t shake the feeling that this was a very, very bad idea.
Monica halted just outside of the secured yellow police tape. Stars glittered overhead, and the moon was out, thick and full, giving them more light. She circled the grave. Her flashlight flickered over the ground.
Piss poor idea. He should have told her that, but no, he’d been drawn along with her. Always had been. Like a f**king moth to the flame.
Her light rose to the trees. He smothered a sigh. “You’re not going to see anything.”
She didn’t seem to hear him. She crouched on her knees. The light swung some more.
“Monica?” The back of his neck was tingling. Time to get to the motel. There were too many places for someone to hide in the darkness. Being in the open like this didn’t sit well. Not a damn bit.
She turned off her light.
Oh, that was just brilliant. He inched closer to her. Someone had to watch her ass. That was what a partner was for, right?
Her head tipped back. “I think—I think I can see a window from the house.”
What? The trees were too thick. The pines too tall. No way could she see—
He cocked his head—well, damn. It looked like lightning had struck a pine about ten feet away, knocking down the top section of the tree.
And giving a dead-on view of what was left of the house’s second story. The attic maybe? Or was that a window glinting—
“Laura’s parents said she got locked in a closet playing hide and seek.” She rose to her feet and brushed off her knees. “I think you need to talk to them again… and find out just where that closet was.” Her light flashed on. “Give you ten-to-one odds that Laura knew Patricia Moffett, and that they were playing at the Moffetts’ when that closet got locked.”
Well, shit. “You’re good.”
One shoulder lifted. “Maybe I just know killers too well.”
Maybe. But knowing killers could help her save victims and that was what mattered.
“Let’s get the hell out of here.”
“Right.” She fell into step beside him. It was easier getting out, but Luke kept his weapon close just in case. The sooner they left this death house the better.
No, the sooner they caught the perp, the better.
Monica paused near the house and glanced up at it. “Probably was a happy place once.” She shook her head, then kept walking. “I’ll call Hyde. Let him know what we’ve found and adjust the profile. Maybe we can get a warrant for May’s place and find some of Kyle’s letters for a handwriting comparison. That’d be damn lucky if we could.”
Luke stilled. His eyes swept toward the SUV. Something was wrong. That tightening knot in his gut told him things were about to go to shit.
The scene was off. He couldn’t see how yet, but…“That’s wrong.” A few cautious steps forward then, “Sonofabitch.” The tires were slashed. All f**king four of them.
No wonder the SUV had looked odd; it was sitting too low to the ground.
“He’s out here,” a whisper of sound from his lips. But Monica didn’t need to be told. He knew she understood.
He’s watching us. Hiding in the dark and watching.
“Might not be him.” Monica’s voice. Unruffled. Soft. “This is a known drug area. It could be anyone.”
Glass glittered on the ground near the passenger window. He inched forward. Maybe she was right. Maybe he’d find the radio jacked or the GPS gone or…
An envelope lay on the driver’s seat.
And, yeah, the radio was still there. So was the GPS.
“It’s him.” That had damn well better not be one of his twisted little scare notes. Oh, hell, no. First the calls to Monica, now this—
She brushed past him.
“Wait—what are you…”
She had her gloves on. Luke kept his gun up while she opened the door and snagged the envelope. He closed the distance between them, letting his shoulder brush hers. The light from the SUV spilled out, and he saw the familiar black scrawl.
But the name on the envelope—it wasn’t Monica’s.
No, she wasn’t the killer’s next fear puppet. The name on the envelope was his.
Agent Luke Dante.
Sweat slid down his back. Bring it, bastard. Bring it. “Let’s play,” he whispered. But you don’t know, do you, freak? You don’t know what scares me. “Open it,” he demanded, and his eyes rose to sweep the area.
“We need to call for backup. He’s got us trapped here and—”
“Open the damn envelope.”
Paper tore beneath her fingers. Something fluttered to the ground. He bent but she was there before him. Luke twisted, keeping his back to the vehicle, trying to keep her covered, keep them safe.
“Does he think he can scare me?” he snarled.
He shot a glance back at her. There wasn’t a handwritten note. No, her fingers were curled around some kind of old newspaper clipping. One that had been folded and creased. She’d just opened it, and he could see the big, black headline:
Romeo Killer Captured. One Victim Survives.
There was a photo under the block words. A grainy shot of a man—good-looking, grinning—as he was shoved into the back of a patrol car.