Well, of course he knew. There she was, walking past the bus stop with no bus in sight.
“I can give you a ride, if you want. I’ve got to head over to Williams High anyway. My idiot brother forgot his lunch. Again.”
Her lips wanted to curl because that sounded like Ryan Thompson. He was forever bumming off people. She turned fully toward him and hesitated.
The car braked. He leaned toward her, that smile stretching ever more. “Come on, Mary Jane. It’s like, five miles to the school. You don’t want to walk that.”
No, she didn’t. But she didn’t know him. And if her mom found out she’d taken a ride with this guy she’d be so pissed.
Mary Jane licked her lips.
His eyes narrowed a bit, and his smile seemed to tighten. “Come on…” he said again. “Why should a pretty girl like you walk when you can ride?”
He thinks I’m pretty? Her skin flushed. “Thanks, but—” But she didn’t know the guy. Good-looking or not, she didn’t know him, and her mom would freak. “But I’m okay.” She tried a smile. “It’s really not that far.”
The smile definitely dimmed. “You should get in the car.”
A chill rose on her arms. He didn’t seem quite so friendly now, and the longer she stared at him, the less good-looking he appeared. There was something about his eyes. They were so…
She eased back a bit from the car. “Actually, my mom’s on her way. She’s gonna meet me here and take me the rest of the way.” Her chest shook because her heart was pounding so hard right then.
His fingers drummed on the steering wheel. “Right. Well, you take care, Mary Jane. I’ll be seeing you.…” The car squealed away, and the scent of burnt rubber filled her nostrils.
She realized that her hands were sweating, her breath coming too fast. All because a cute boy had wanted to give her a ride.
No, something was wrong with him. The thought slipped through her mind. His eyes. Something had been wrong.
And she realized she was very, very glad she hadn’t gotten into his car.
She started walking faster. She turned on Maple Street, and heard the frantic barking of Ms. Milly’s two terriers and saw the back of a black Corvette. Parked just down from Ms. Milly’s sidewalk.
Her feet stumbled. Wh—
“Your mother’s not coming to pick you up.”
From right behind her.
She spun around and saw that dimpled smile. “In fact, she’s never f**king seeing you again.” His hand lifted. She opened her mouth to scream—
He slapped his right hand over her mouth and stabbed her in the neck with a needle. He leaned in close and caught her when her body went limp.
“Shh… don’t worry, sweetheart, I’m gonna take good care of you.”
She’d known he was lying. But she hadn’t been able to scream or fight, and her eyes had closed even as he’d thrown her into the back seat of his Corvette. And when she’d opened her eyes again—
Monica sucked in a deep breath. She shoved open the car door. Her face burned as she hurried toward the hospital.
She gave a hard nod to the security guard on duty. Keeping her head up, she walked quickly past the receptionist and into the elevator. Her index finger stabbed the button for the sixth floor. She waited. Breathed slow and easy. Slow and easy.
She’d learned that trick long ago. When she realized that she wouldn’t be getting out of that two-by-three-foot closet anytime soon. She’d known she could let the panic take her or she could take control.
She’d taken control and fought to never let go.
Wish I’d killed him. Her one regret, after all these years. If only Hyde hadn’t stopped me.
The elevator chimed, and the doors slid open. She saw the two deputies first. Not flirting with the nurses at the station, but standing guard in the hallway. A red-haired guy with a goatee, Paul, and Melinda.
She inclined her head as she passed them. Then she saw Kenton, sitting right outside Sam’s door. His arms were crossed over his chest, his brows drawn low as he watched her approach.
“She doesn’t want to talk,” he said the minute she drew closer. “Kicked my ass out.” A shake of his head. “But I told her I wouldn’t go far.”
She swiped her tongue over her lower lip. “I’m going in.”
His hand came out, blocking the door. “I know you’re the shrink, Doc.” Nobody ever called her that, least of all Kenton, so she knew he was trying to make a point.
Screw that. She didn’t have time for—
“But I think she needs to be alone. Let her cry. Let her heal, let her—”
“You don’t know what the hell it’s like.” The words slipped out because Luke had frayed her control. Or maybe that precious control had been slowly breaking and she hadn’t even noticed. “You don’t know what it feels like when a killer screws with your head, f**ks with your body, and makes you wish for death.” Over and over. Until you begged to die.
She’d seen it happen.
But I never begged. That had been another trick she’d learned. Not to beg. Not to give the killer what he needed.
Keep him wanting. Keep yourself alive.
His eyes narrowed a bit at the corners. “You’re sounding awful personal there, Davenport.”
“Move your hand.” Or the way she was feeling right then, she’d be more than happy to move it for him.
He gazed at her, then after a moment slowly moved his hand. “Make her better.”
“I’ll do more than that.” She slapped her hand against the hospital door. “I’ll take away her monster.”
And that was a promise.
“What the hell? Agent Dante? Agent Dante!”
The voice sounded hollow. Raspy.
Luke cracked opened his eyes, realized he was laying in—yeah, that smelled like garbage. He pushed up, wincing when pain rocked through his skull.
“Are you all right?” A hand reached out for him. The scent of cigars teased his nose.
He looked up and met Lee’s wide-eyed stare. “Someone jumped me.” His fingers pushed through his hair, found a freaking goose egg and the sticky wetness of blood. Shit.
“You got attacked? You—”
Luke was on his feet. His hand pressed against the side of the building as the world weaved a bit. “Where’s Monica?”
“I-I saw her drive out about thirty minutes ago. When I came out again, your car was still here but I knew you hadn’t come back in.” He leaned in close. “So I came looking for you. Man—you sure you’re all right?”