He’d break the bitch.

His steps were silent as he left the cabin. He had the perfect place in mind for his next attack. So perfect.

Mary Jane would appreciate it, he was sure. He’d talked with Romeo, spent hours getting the information so he could make everything just right.

A fitting ending. A final end.

Break her, then kill her. That had been the plan from the beginning. The moment Romeo had learned of the SSD and seen a picture of Mary Jane in the paper, he’d given the kill order.

Lure her to you. She was Hyde’s right hand at the SSD—it had been a safe bet that she’d come to profile the serial in Jasper. And if she hadn’t come, he would have just kept killing until she did show.

But she’d been the one to come first. Getting her into the game and out of her safe, D.C. office had been so easy.

Prove that you’re smarter than she is.

He had. He’d killed, he’d taken her agent, and, soon, he’d be taking Monica.

In the end, she wouldn’t be able to save herself.

Time to make her worst fears come true.

CHAPTER Sixteen

Romeo gets regular visits from his lawyer, a guy named Bryan Tate who lives in Gatlin,” Luke said, the faxed log in his hands.

Monica’s eyes narrowed at that. Gatlin? We keep going back there. “Run a check on him. Get Kenton to rip the guy’s life apart.” She wasn’t taking any chances.

“Romeo had a few sporadic visitors, too. A woman named Kristy Lee. She… ah…”

Monica glanced back at him.

“The warden said she was one of those women who get off on being with serials.”

The taste in her mouth just got worse. “Who else?”

His gaze darted to Davis. “Guess he already told you.”

“How many visits?”

“Just one.”

Can’t take chances. “Anyone else that sticks out?”

“Yeah. Jake Martin. He’s been to visit Romeo three times in the last year.”

Dammit. Martin’s voice drifted through her mind, that slight hesitation the first time they’d met. “I… know you.”

Sure looked like he did.

“I don’t usually forget faces….” The Watchman knew all about her past. What a coincidence; it was a past she shared with Jake Martin. “I’ll call Martin.” She’d rather talk to him in person, and she’d be doing that real soon. But she wasn’t going to let another minute pass without questioning him.

But she also wasn’t going to blindly focus on just one suspect, even though right then, Martin was looking suspicious as hell. Why’d he lie about West? The only answer that sprang to mind was a damning one. To throw suspicion onto someone else. Martin would know that she’d followed up on West, but maybe he’d just been hoping to buy a few days’ time. Killing time.

“Those were all the visitors he had in the last two years.” His lips tightened. “While you run down Martin, I’ll get started checking everyone at the station.”

Because they wouldn’t overlook the obvious signs. A deputy’s uniform. Someone who knew the area. Someone who knew the case.

“Do it,” she told him, and knew they’d make some enemies real soon. Too bad. They had a killer to catch. “And you need to start with Lee. He’s got a history in Gatlin.” The sheriff’s words were locked in her mind. He worked over in Gatlin County for a few years. Word was that he’d had him a bad break-up so he got out of Jasper.

Then he’d come back home, and people had started dying.

Luke walked away from her and cleared his throat as he approached the sheriff. “Davis, I’m gonna need to ask you a few questions about your staff here at the station.”

And Davis wasn’t slow on the draw; he knew this had been coming. “What do you need?” His shoulders stooped a bit.

Monica went back into her makeshift office and closed the door. A few moments later, she had the phone pressed against her ear and a slow ring drifted across the line as she waited to connect with the Gatlin County Sheriff’s office. One more ring. Another. Come on—

“Sheriff’s office.” The woman’s voice was slow, a bit sluggish. Seven a.m. must be too early in Gatlin.

“This is FBI Special Agent Monica Davenport. I need you to connect me with Jake Martin immediately.” If he was at home, sleeping in his bed, they could just drag his ass out.

“Sp-special agent—”

“Agent Davenport, FBI,” she said again and knew the words were clipped. “I need him on the phone, now. If he’s not there, then give me his home number because I need to talk to him ASAP.”

“H-he’s out of the office today… family emergency…”

Out of the office again? Big coincidence. Hyde had taught her not to believe in coincidences.

An image of Martin’s shiny star and perfectly pressed brown uniform flashed before her eyes.

The same uniform that Sheriff Davis wore. Standard issue—dark brown pants and shirt. Wide-brimmed brown hat. Yellow emblem high on the left arm.

I need to see that surveillance video. Kenton said Hyde had gotten a copy transferred over on his laptop. It was with him at the hospital.

“What’s your name?” She demanded and realized the silence on the phone had hummed too long.

“K-Kathy. Kathy Grant.”

“Kathy, give me his cell.” Did her voice tremble? Because she was trying real hard to hold back the rage.

The now-awake clerk rattled off the number, and Monica scribbled it down even as Kathy said, “H-he ain’t gonna answer. I told you, it’s a family emergency.”

Sometimes the job trumped family. If he was a good sheriff, Martin knew that. “Tell me, Kathy, did your office get a report of Kyle West’s death a few months back?”

“What? Kyle’s dead?”

Okay. Guess that answered one question, but it just raised more. “You’re telling me you never received official notification of his death?” Didn’t make sense. Someone from highway patrol had gone and seen May Walker. That person would have stopped by the sheriff’s office, too. Procedure would have dictated notification there.

For Jon to find the death notice in the system, someone had filed the paperwork. If not the Gatlin office, then who’d done it?

“No! I never—Kyle’s dead?”

“You really don’t know?” If only she could see her face. Sounded like truth, but some lies did.

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