Her eyes looked so cold. Shards of ice. “There’s always something we could do.”
He really wanted to shake her. Or kiss her, hard. But too many eyes were around. “He was a killer. We closed the case.” The sheriff sure thought so. “End of story.”
“No, it’s not.”
Kenton cleared his throat. “Um, look, excuse me and all but…”
Luke glanced over at the other agent.
“You guys need like a moment or something? And, damn, man, what happened to your eye? I thought it was a gun fight.”
A rumble rose in his throat.
But Monica snapped first. “What I need is for you to get over there and stop Davis from screwing up my case.”
“Don’t let him tell the good folks of Jasper that they’re safe. They’re not.”
One brow rose. “The dead body on the ground says otherwise,” Kenton told her.
“Oh, it says something, all right.” And she crouched down, right next to the blood and the pieces he really didn’t want to think about too hard. “Right here.” She pointed to his wrist. The wrist that had slumped over Jeremy’s chest after he’d fired that last bullet. “Right here it says that he has rope burns.” A pause. “They’re on both wrists.”
“Ma’am, don’t touch the—” The tech began in a high, nervous voice.
“I’m not touching the damn body!” Monica surged to her feet. Kept those shards of ice on Kenton. “Strange, wouldn’t you say?”
Yeah, Luke would say that. Monica gave a hard hmmm like a revving motor then asked, voice tight, “Why was our killer tied up—pretty recently, by the look of those marks?”
“Maybe the ass**le was into S&M,” Kenton said, shaking his head. “Maybe his girlfriend got a little rough with him tonight.”
“Maybe he’s just not our guy,” she fired back at him. Her delicate jaw worked a minute, then she called out, “Hey, deputy!”
Vance stumbled to a halt at Monica’s call. He cast a fast glance down at the body, swallowed, then met her stare. “You—you don’t want me to touch ’im, do ya?” He’d just arrived on the scene, and he already looked like he might pass out.
“You can’t touch—” The tech said again.
Oh, Christ. Luke ground his back teeth together.
“No.” Monica clipped out. She swiped back a lock of her hair and said, “You knew him, right, deputy? Davis said he was a local and—oh, hell! Kenton, Davis is going live with some shit over there. Go stop him!”
Sure enough, Davis had a mike in front of him and a shining spotlight covered him as the camera lens zoomed in.
“Fuck.” Kenton took off at a lope. “Special Agent, coming through!”
Not that his announcement cleared his path. But it did get the attention of the reporter. Reporters always responded to Kenton.
“He’s not blowing my case.” Monica’s spine straightened.
Vance began to inch away.
“You knew him.” Monica pointed her finger at Vance’s chest.
A quick nod. “W-we all knew Jeremy. He was… always around. I-I think Lee went to school with him at Jasper High.”
“Davis said the guy’s dad died on the street. What was he talking about?” she asked.
Vance’s muddy eyes darted toward Davis. A no-longer-talking Davis because Kenton had the mike firmly in his hands. “About seven years ago, the sheriff shot him,” he whispered.
“How did it go down?” she pressed.
“H-he was dealin’.”
Luke wanted to be clear on this. “Dealing what?” he asked.
“Meth. Jason Jones—he was… I mean, I wasn’t here but I heard… he was making it, in his house. Word was… um, when the sheriff busted in, the whole place was near to exploding.”
Yeah, he didn’t doubt that.
“Jason, he ran. Sheriff and his deputies chased him.” Another quick glance at the sheriff. “The guy ran into the street. They told him to stop. Everybody said they told him to stop.”
“But he didn’t.” If the guy had been high on meth, no chance he would have backed down.
Vance scooted away from the body. “Is it—is it supposed to smell like that?”
“He defecated.” From the crime scene guy. What was his name? Gerry? He’d been around a lot lately. Probably more work than the guy’d had in years.
“Yeah.” The tech stood and held his camera tight. “It happens.” He strolled away, dark head bent.
Vance’s face flushed beat red. “I’m gonna be sick.” Standing over a body that had been blown to hell would do that to you.
“Come on.” Monica grabbed the guy’s arm and led him a few feet away. “Sit on the ground. Put your head between your knees.”
But his head flew up. “Everybody will see me.”
“Yeah, but at least they won’t see you puking all over the place.”
He sat and shoved his head between his knees.
“Breathe.” Luke advised him.
He did. Luke heard the deep, shuddering breaths.
Gerry came back and put a sheet over the body. Finally.
Monica’s shoulders had relaxed a bit, but a faint furrow lined her forehead. He could feel the energy rolling off her.
A bullet wound hadn’t slowed her down. But then, he’d never known anything to slow down Monica. She was tough, fierce, and even in the midst of a nightmare, sexy.
He was so screwed. Luke sighed and glanced at the deputy. “Gonna keep the cookies down?” Luke asked the guy.
Vance managed a nod.
“What happened after the sheriff told Jason Jones to stop?” Monica’s quiet voice. Not threatening or demanding in the least. Smooth and easy.
Ah, she’d changed her style. Probably because good old Vance was close to a breakdown.
“I-I told you, I w-wasn’t there, I’d just started workin’ in Mobile back then—”
He saw her jaw clench. “I realize you weren’t there, Vance. But what did you hear?”
“I—he—Jason pulled a weapon and fired on Davis.” He licked his lips.
Luke looked up and saw the sheriff stalking toward them. Moving at a pretty fast clip.
“Sheriff Davis fired back,” Vance’s words came faster, too. Probably because he’d just seen the sheriff closing in on them. “So did two deputies. They took him down—”