Her cell phone rang. She glanced down, not recognizing the number but immediately identifying the Jasper County area code. Oh, hell. In that instant, Kenton was forgotten. “Hello?”
A whisper of breath. Soft laughter. “Did you really think I’d eaten my gun?”
Same distorted voice. She waved her hand in a cutting motion, and Luke and Kenton shut up. “No, I didn’t think that at all.” It’s him, she mouthed.
Luke immediately pulled out his phone and started dialing. She knew he’d be calling Sam at the SSD and trying to get a lock on the call.
“Good.” A sigh. “I don’t want to be disappointed in you.”
Luke’s gaze scanned the motel parking lot as he murmured into his phone.
“He still doesn’t know yet, does he?”
“Really, after all that f**king, I would think he knew you better.”
“I don’t want to play your stupid games!” she snapped. “Innocent people are dying so you can—”
“Is anyone ever really innocent? Jones wasn’t, but I still offered him a chance. Maybe I’m getting soft.”
Laughter. “Maybe I’m not.”
“I guess you were innocent once though, weren’t you, Davenport? But that was so long ago…”
Bastard. How did he know? How?
“You’re like me, aren’t you? Deep down, underneath the skin?” And she could almost hear pleasure in that grated voice.
“No, I’m not.”
“We’ll see. I’m watching you, Davenport. Learning all about you.” Softer now. “And I think I know—”
“What?” Her fingers were about to break the phone. “What is it that you know?”
“What scares you.”
Silence a moment, thick and hard. Monica pulled in a slow breath.
“What did he say?” Luke asked her.
He still doesn’t know yet, does he? That bastard’s voice. Playing his game.
She would have to tell Luke sooner or later. Because she wasn’t going to let this freak jerk her around.
You think you know what scares me, ass**le? Come on—let’s find out.
“Is Sam on the line?” she questioned instead.
“She’s gone. Kim’s running the check.”
Monica took the phone and rambled off the number on her cell. Bastard.
The moments ticked by in silence, then Kim’s voice came across the line. “It’s coming up as registered to a Sally Jenkins.” A pause. “That was… she was one of his victims, right?”
Yes. The bastard had taken her cell, just like he’d taken Laura’s, and probably Patty’s, too. Why? Had he really been planning this all along? Planning to call the cops and taunt them? Or planning to call her? Had he known the SSD would get involved when the murders were connected? Her unit had been in the papers so much recently with their other cases.…
“I’m getting the techs to use the satellites to try and track the GPS in the phone now.”
He’d trash the phone. She had no doubt of that. “I want to know every call this number has made.” There’d been no hits on Laura’s cell. The bastard had just called her, no one else.
“They can’t find a link…” Kim’s tight voice. “It’s not online. No echoes, no triangulation… the damn thing is gone.”
And the FBI’s tracking equipment was state of the art. They could use their satellites to track a cell within fifty feet of its location in just moments. She exhaled slowly. Dammit. “Keep trying, and if you find anything, let me know.” She ended the call and glanced down at her watch. Time was running out. “We’ve got to hurry.”
“Why, Monica, what’s happening?” Luke demanded. “What did Sam say?”
“Our killer took some souvenirs from his crimes.” She knew her smile wouldn’t be pretty. “He’s using the vics’ phones to taunt us.” Asshole. But he’d just had to make sure she knew…
He was still hunting.
Samantha Kennedy stepped off the plane. Not the fancy, private one usually reserved for the SSD. Ramirez had taken it because there was a serial ra**st on the hunt in Bloomington, Indiana.
The FBI had pull, though, and she’d gotten a seat on the first flight down to Mississippi. She hadn’t been able to fly in straight to Jasper. She’d had to go via Gulfport, one of the bigger airports in the state. Now she’d have a long drive ahead of her.
She hefted her carry-on over her shoulder, glancing around. Okay, Hyde had woken her up with his order to fly down here. He’d assured her that someone would be there to meet her at the airport. Maybe it would be Monica or that sexy new agent who made her blush way too much and—
She pushed her glasses back a bit on her nose and turned to the right. A crowd was in her way, folks milling past as they hurried to get their luggage. But behind the bodies, she caught sight of a deputy’s brown uniform with a gleaming silver star. Ah, my ride. She hadn’t seen the guy’s face yet, not with all those people blocking her. If only I had about four more inches. But being short—well, she’d learned to deal with it.
“Samantha Kennedy?” he called again.
Sam hurried toward him. “Yep, that’s me.” She didn’t get out on many field assignments. Hyde liked to keep her chained to her computer. But since Sheriff Davis believed their serial killer had been eliminated, Hyde thought it was safe to send her out. Finally. She’d been trained for this job, and for months, she’d wanted to prove that she could handle herself. She was an FBI agent, just like Monica and Kenton. She could do the job. Time to show her boss that fact.
The deputy bent down, his hat shielding his face, and reached for her bag.
“Aw, thanks, I really appreciate—”
He stumbled against her, apparently tripping on the luggage. “You okay?” His arms wrapped around her. Too tight.
Something pricked her. A sharp jab, right near her neck. Sam blinked and then staggered a bit.
“It’s okay,” he murmured, pulling her close. “I’ve got you.”
She tried to open her sagging eyelids. Tried to see him. “Something… wrong…” The words came out slurred because her tongue was thick and awkward in her mouth.
“No, Samantha.” A whisper in her ear. “Everything’s just fine.”