The video equipment was recording her every word and expression, so Monica made sure she kept her face blank. Luke waited in the next room. He’d already done his interview. He’d taken his seat, recounted his capture and attack, all while covered in bandages, with stitches pulling at his flesh.
“Agent Davenport,” Hyde crossed his arms and studied her. “In your professional opinion, why do you believe Kyle West killed all of those people?”
She waited a beat. “From what he told us in that cabin, his mother physically abused him as a child. He killed her when he was only eleven. An action like that, from someone at such a young age, suggests intense psychological trauma. He said she was trying to kill him—so he killed her.” Monica swallowed and exhaled carefully.
“Kyle West was a very organized killer. He planned his crimes out in exacting detail.” And he’d timed the kills so well: When he’d taken Sam from the airport he’d drugged her, left her tied up and unconscious in the cabin, then popped in for an appearance at the police station.
Monica knew he’d gotten off on that.
Hyde glanced down at his notes, then back at her. “It appears he specifically targeted members of the SSD. Why?”
This had been all she could think about since leaving the hospital. One answer came back to her, one answer based on Kyle’s own words. If it hadn’t been for Romeo, I never would have found you. But he told me—he told me you’d be the perfect prey.
Bastard. She forced her fingers to stay loose on the chair. “I believe Kyle West was in contact with the killer known as Romeo.” Had to be. Still trying to hurt me. “I believe Romeo manipulated him and sent West on a hunt against the SSD.” No, a hunt against me.
Now Hyde blinked. “How the hell did that bastard know about us?”
“The SSD has been making headlines recently, and when Romeo saw your name…” the name of the man who’d taken him down, “I believe he saw his opportunity for revenge.” If there’d been a picture in the paper, maybe a shot of her and Hyde, he would have known her instantly.
“I plan to travel to Angola Prison to interview Romeo and confirm the suspicions that I have.”
“The f**k you are.” Hyde’s hands slammed down on the table. “Session’s over! Stop the recording—and get the hell out!”
The technician scrambled.
Monica raised her brows and stared back at Hyde.
“You’re not getting near him, you understand? That piece of shit isn’t going to touch you again, you’re not—”
She reached for his hand. Curled her fingers over his. Tough Hyde. Hard as nails.
The closest thing to a father she’d ever had.
“He can’t hurt me anymore.” She was quiet.
Hyde’s fingers shook.
“He’s nothing now.” She wouldn’t fear him, not ever again. “It’s time I put the past to rest.”
“You don’t need to see him. You don’t have to go there.”
“Yes, I do.” Because she had to face the monster in the dark. “I want to move on. I don’t want to be his prisoner anymore.”
The door opened. Luke stepped inside. “Monica? What’s going on? You okay?”
She gave a slow nod. “I’m fine.”
“He’s going with you.” An order from Hyde.
Luke tensed. “Going where? You already working another case? You need to—”
“It’s an old case,” she told him. “One that I should have closed a long time ago.” And she did want Luke with her.
“Davenport’s got it in her head that she needs to talk with Romeo. So she can—clear up your ‘suspicions’ about Kyle West.”
“Fuck no.” Luke kicked the door closed behind him.
Ah, the protector. There he was again.
Not that she needed protecting.
But still, it was nice that he cared.
That Hyde cared.
She wasn’t alone. Why hadn’t she realized that sooner? “I’m seeing Romeo.”
“I’ll see him,” Luke said, his voice dark. “It’ll be my damn pleasure—”
She shook her head. “I’ll be the one to talk to him.” She knew he wouldn’t talk to anyone else.
A muscle flexed along Luke’s clenched jaw and he gritted, “Then I’ll be right by your side.”
She liked that idea. Monica inclined her head toward Hyde. “Guess I’ll see you back in D.C.”
“Count on it, Davenport.” Fury there, and fear.
Not that Hyde would ever admit either, not to her. “Luke, can you, ah, give us just a minute?”
Luke’s gaze darted between them, but then he eased from the room and shut the door.
“Is this going to be a problem?” she asked Hyde bluntly.
His brows shot up. “You going to see a convicted killer who would like nothing more than to screw with your mind? Hey, how could that be a problem?”
“I meant me and Luke.”
He exhaled, and she knew his control was returning. Control. Hyde had taught her all about control and how to take it back. “You can’t work in the field with him anymore, not if the two of you are going to stay together.” A pause. “Are you… staying together?”
She hoped so. She wanted to be with him. “Yes.” Even if being with him cost her the job. Because there were some things more important than the job.
“You and me—we’ve bent or broken so many rules.” His teeth flashed in that tiger smile. “They didn’t want you at Quantico.”
She remembered. Because of her past. But Hyde had helped her.
The name change had been his idea, to give her a new start. And she’d been glad for it. Mary Jane had been through enough. She’d deserved some peace.
Monica—she deserved a future.
“You passed all those tests on your own,” he said, and the faint lines around his eyes tightened just a bit. “I knew you would.”
“Hyde…” She hadn’t been so sure of herself.
“You’ve walked a thin line.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose. The air conditioner clicked on above them, and a soft hum filled the room. “I worried about you.…”
His words echoed her own thoughts and had her tensing.
“Sometimes, when you go so deep into a killer’s mind, it’s not easy to come back out.”
Monica swallowed. “I came back out.” Maybe she wasn’t perfect, and she knew, with brutal honesty, that she never would be. But she wasn’t a cold-blooded killer.