“I swear, ma’am, no.”
So maybe someone had screwed up the notification. Or maybe someone hadn’t wanted the folks at the Gatlin County Sheriff’s office to know that West had died.
“Thanks for the info, Kathy.” She disconnected the call. In seconds, she’d punched in Martin’s cell phone number, but when the call connected, it just went straight to voicemail. Damn. “Martin, this is Monica Davenport. I need to speak with you immediately. And guess what? I’ve remembered where we met.” She rattled off her number.
She’d get a trace on his phone. If he turned the phone on, the SSD would find him. She put in a call to the main office, giving them instructions to monitor Martin’s cell. If he turned his phone on, if he used it to make one call, the SSD could use the FBI’s satellite technology to pinpoint his location.
It was the same technique they were using to find the Watchman. If he used another victim’s phone… if he so much as turned on Patty’s cell…
Monica sucked in a hard breath and hurried out of the office. She almost slammed into Luke and the Sheriff. “I need those personnel files.” Monica met the Sheriff’s glinting stare head on. “We’re also going to need to talk to every deputy you have on staff—immediately.”
The sheriff shook his head even as he sagged back against the wall. “My men.” Not a question, not anymore. The red heat had faded from his cheeks, leaving him looking pale.
“Every possibility has to be explored right now.” But it was time for her to lay her cards on the table. “And the signs here are pointing to a law enforcement connection.” She’d called Hyde right after seeing the bodies of the victims in the morgue. No DNA evidence had been left behind at all—nothing. “Everything’s been too neat, Sheriff. Too tidy. No fingerprints. No hair. Nothing is left behind.” The guy had too much crime scene knowledge.
Davis ran a hand over his face and didn’t speak.
Luke stood at her side, aligning himself with her. Backing her up as she told the sheriff more news he wouldn’t want to hear.
“This person has far more than a civilian’s knowledge of crime scenes,” she said, “and he knows your area, knows all the back roads and the empty houses. He knows how to use a gun.” And how to keep it locked on prey from a perfect shooting distance.
“You tell us,” Luke invited softly. “Wouldn’t one of your deputies have all this knowledge?”
He flinched. “I work with them every damn day.”
“And it might not even be one of them,” she said. Because her other suspect was in the wind somewhere. “But we have to start ruling them out and narrowing down the field. Our killer’s upping the stakes, making it personal by going after one of our own. We’ve got to stop him before we have another body on our hands. He knows Sam’s alive. This guy—he doesn’t like for his prey to live. He’s going to attack again, soon.” He’d have to. His strikes were coming far too frequently. He’d taken Sam less than thirty-six hours after Jeremy Jones’s death. That kind of escalation… No, there was no way he’d just back off for a long cooling down period. He’d strike again, soon. Who would be his target this time? Another civilian? A deputy? An agent?
They didn’t have time to waste.
He gave a weak nod.
“Only the folks in your office knew Sam was at that airport.” And that fact pointed most heavily against Martin and right back at the good deputies of Jasper County.
“You think it’s one of us?” The shocked whisper came from behind her.
Monica glanced back, turning her attention to Lee Pope. He stood a few feet back, eyes wide in his pale face. “Somebody on our team?” He shook his head. “Doing that twisted crap?”
“Deputy, I’m going to need you to keep this conversation absolutely confidential.” Right. Like that was gonna happen. But she didn’t really mind. She wanted word to spread that the SSD was turning the focus on the sheriff’s office. It would help her stir the pot.
He spun away and slammed the door shut behind him hard enough to shake the glass in the window.
“You’re gonna make a lot of enemies, Davenport,” Davis warned her.
Yes, but what else was new? Making enemies, losing friends. Her way. Might as well go ahead and say it all. “I’m going to need to know your whereabouts for all the crimes, too, Sheriff.”
He gave a grim nod.
“So how’d that work for you?” Luke asked as they headed out of the sheriff’s office. The personnel files were locked in her briefcase. She’d review them when they were secure and away from all the prying—and glaring—eyes.
“About like I anticipated.” There wouldn’t be a whole lot more cooperation coming from the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office.
“We aren’t killers.” Lee came around the corner of the building, a cigar dangling between his fingers.
Her nostrils flared even as she tensed. “I didn’t say you were, deputy.”
He shook his head, and ash drifted in the wind. “I know these people—we go to the same church. I dated Melinda in high school. I know them.”
“Sometimes you don’t really know people like you think you do,” Luke said softly, and Monica’s gaze flew to him. “Sometimes, you never see past their surface until it’s too late,” he finished.
She’d never wanted to let him see past the surface. No, but she was trying so hard now because she didn’t want to lose him.
Luke was worth fighting for. She’d known that years ago. She knew it now.
The difference? This time, she wouldn’t be afraid to fight.
Lee raised the cigar to his lips and took a long pull. When he exhaled, cigar smoke plumed in the air, and he growled. “The things he’s done, it ain’t one of us.”
“I really hope it isn’t,” she said and meant it.
“I’d know it! If a killer were working with me, I’d know!”
She felt a bit sad as she told him, “No, Lee, you wouldn’t.” Because the guy they were looking for was perfect at blending in and hiding right in front of everyone’s eyes.
That was why he was so dangerous.
Sam jerked awake, gasping for air, the water choking her as she struggled to kick up and away from—
“It’s okay, Samantha.” Someone took her hand and held tight.