“We don’t have any proof that he’s guilty. We don’t even know where he is right now. We’re pulling up his driver’s license photo now from the DMV, and we’re waiting on a warrant to search a house belonging to the guy’s aunt.”
Her phone rang. Monica broke off and snatched her cell phone up from her hip. Luke caught the rasp of her breath right before she said, “Local number. It-it’s the number Sally had.”
Fuck. They’d gotten all the numbers for the vics because they’d known this call would be coming.
Her eyes were on Luke when she pushed the button to answer the call.
“I’m getting bored with you, Agent Davenport,” he told her, brushing his fingers against the pane of the window. “You’re supposed to be so good. I thought you’d be better at this game.”
“Killing people isn’t a game!”
Ah, she seemed angry. Good. “To me it is.”
She sucked in a sharp breath.
He smiled. “And to your pretty little friend, it’s a game, too.”
“You have Samantha?”
Did she really need to ask? Disappointing. And he’d been told she was such good prey. “She’s rather too trusting, don’t you think? Supposed to be so smart, and she never even saw me coming until it was too late.”
Because no one was smarter than he was. He didn’t need those f**king fancy degrees.
“Let her go,” Monica said, voice tight. “You haven’t killed her yet so just—”
“Are you sure?”
Silence. Then, voice quiet, “Yes.”
“How are you sure?” Not much time. He wouldn’t talk much longer. The agents with her would have already started tracking his signal. He’d have to make the dump fast. He turned away from the window, headed for the back door. Really, they should pay better attention around these parts. Just anyone could walk in.
“I’m sure.” He could almost see her. Dark hair straight and perfect around her delicate features. Face expressionless. His agent liked her control.
He wanted to shatter that control into a million pieces, and he would, when he shattered her.
“You haven’t played with her yet,” the agent who thought she was so smart told him. “You don’t know her, don’t know her fears.”
He laughed. He couldn’t help it. “Ah, but I do know. I told you, I’ve been watching.” A quick glance at his watch. “I’ll give you twenty-four hours.” He kept the voice distorter, a handy device he’d picked up down in a New Orleans novelty shop, over the phone. “Twenty-four hours to save her.” Plenty of time for me to play.
“What do you mean?”
“Find her.” That was all he’d say. “Find her, save her. Twenty-four hours.” And he’d be watching. Because Samantha Kennedy didn’t matter. Monica did. This was her test.
What do you fear, agent? “Find her… or you’ll bury her.” Perhaps Monica would bury her either way because twenty-four hours might just be too long. It was so easy to get bored, and he really doubted that Samantha Kennedy would be able to last that long.
Monica stared at her phone. Her face felt cold. Icy pinpricks shot through her skin. “We’ve got twenty-four hours to find Sam.”
“Fuck!” Kenton whirled around. “That bastard had better not hurt her!”
“He said if we don’t find her in twenty-four hours,” she found Luke watching her, his gaze steady and strong, “then we’ll bury her.”
I’ll find you, Sam. Don’t worry. I will find you.
Because she knew what it was like to be a killer’s plaything. To know that he could hurt you, use you, break you—and that help wouldn’t get there in time.
No, this time, I’ll get there. Hold on, Sam.
Monica drew in a quick breath. Can’t panic. Work the case. Think like him.
“Kenton, get me that picture of Kyle West. See what you can find out about his whereabouts. I want all deputies to know his face—everyone needs to keep their eyes open for him.” One step at a time. “Luke, notify Hyde. He’s gonna want to come down here.” She hesitated, just for an instant. “I’ve got to talk to Sam’s family.”
Luke’s eyes widened. “You’re telling them? Already?”
“Yes.” The grief would rip them apart, but she wouldn’t lie to a fellow agent’s family. “I have to talk to them. They’re the only ones who can tell me—”
“What? What are they gonna tell you?” Davis demanded. “How are you gonna find her? This bastard is jerkin’ us all around by the balls!” His voice rose to a yell as sweat beaded his upper lip.
“Yes, he is.” Monica kept her voice quiet and firm. She understood the sheriff’s fury. His people were dying. Now one of hers was, too. “But we are going to stop him.”
“How?” The sheriff’s faith was gone.
“Leave that to me.” She tossed her cell phone to the tech who’d stood watching them, mouth open. “You were connected with the SSD, right?” They’d set the link up on Gerry’s computer beforehand because she’d known this call would come. “Have they sent you the GPS data?” The SSD would have been notified the moment her phone rang. Kim had been standing by, just waiting. “I want him. I need to know where he called from.”
“I-I think from right outside.” A woman’s voice said.
Monica spun around. Deputy Melinda Jenkins stood in the doorway, her face tense. She lifted her hand and raised a cell phone wrapped in a clear plastic bag. “I was getting a smoke. I-I found this out back.”
Oh, damn. Every muscle in her body tightened. There. So close to them… the bastard wasn’t scared. “Gerry, I want that phone torn apart.” Find something. Anything.
“Get your men out there, sheriff.” The order was Luke’s. “If that ass**le was outside, someone saw him.”
The killer was bold. And he was laughing right in their faces. Too confident. He knew the area too well. Knew the sheriff’s station too well.
Every move they made, he seemed to be right there.
“If the bastard was here…” Kenton’s voice came slowly. “Then where the hell is Sam? Christ, is she—is she even still alive?”
Monica swung toward him. “She’s alive.”
His gaze held hers. Kenton and Sam had dated briefly, and though they might not have made it as a couple, Monica knew they were friends. She could see the worry and fear on Kenton’s face.