“M-my what? Bitch, you can’t—”

“I can.” She gave him another smile. Darkness. Screams. Blood. It was all ending now.

“You’ve just confessed to helping Kyle West plan the abduction and attempted murders of two federal agents,” Monica said. “You also colluded to help him kill a sheriff’s deputy.” The real Vance Monroe. She gave a careless shrug of her shoulders.

“That changes your game in here. You’re heading for solitary, and if the DA thinks he can get a murder charge to stick on you—” One more nail in his f**king coffin— “then maybe this time, you’ll get death.”

He fought against the guards’ hold. “Bitch! I should have killed you! Fucking cut you apart—”

She kept her eyes on him. “But if you’d killed me, then you would have been alone all that time, right, Dennis? No one to pay any attention to you. No one to see just what twisted hell you were wreaking.”

His body trembled.

She smiled. “Guess what? You’re going to be alone until you die, Dennis. All alone. Twenty-four hours a day. Just you and your cell. No, wait, you’ll get out…” Her eyes flickered to the guards. “To walk, if they let you, once a day. Maybe twice if you’re a real good boy.”

He shook his head. “No, no, I won’t f**king do this! You can’t—”

“And if you have another trial, I don’t think the judge will sentence you to more prison time. I mean, what would be the point? You’ll just get death this time.”

Veins bulged in his neck and on his forehead. Had he really once been handsome? Used that face to lure his victims?

“The DA will go after you only if he can get your death.” She smiled, fully now. “Good-bye, Dennis.”

“No, no, Mary Jane, don’t leave me! You have to—”

“You’ll be alone until you die,” she said again because she knew the words would twist in his gut. Monica rapped on the door so the guard outside would open it for her. The door opened. She walked over the threshold with Luke at her back.

“You think you know her, Dante?” Dennis shrieked. “You think because you f**k her that you know her?”

She wouldn’t glance back. One more door to open, and she’d be free.

“She’s just like me! You hear me? Just like me! Twisted, dark and—”

“Fuck off, ass**le,” Luke growled and the second door opened.

Freedom.

The door closed behind her, clanging loudly, echoing, but not loudly enough to block out the sound of the killer’s screams.

Dennis had always enjoyed the screams.

Monica and Luke turned in their passes. Got their weapons back. Left the prison, and walked into the light.

Blinding sunlight.

So bright it hurt.

The light could do that sometimes.

“You okay?” Luke asked her quietly.

She glanced back at the dark walls of the prison. “I’m just fine.” Her hands were shaking, her knees trembling, and she thought she might vomit.

But she was outside, safe, and that bastard would die in his cell. “I’m just fine,” she said again.

Luke caught her hand and brought her palm to his lips. His mouth feathered over her skin as he kissed her knuckles. “I love you.”

He knew her every secret. Knew the darkness inside. And he still stood by her.

“Do you… have any doubts?” About me?

“Not a damn one,” he said instantly.

No way would she ever lose him. Monica swallowed. “I love you, Luke.” Saying it seemed so easy now. The weight of her past was gone. She’d left it in that prison with Dennis. She could be free now. She could have a life. With Luke. “You’re mine, Dante.” She swallowed and tried to smile. “Don’t ever forget it.”

“Baby, I’ve known it for years.”

Epilogue

The call came in to the SSD two days later. Hyde listened to the voice on the line, then said, “You sure?” But he knew the warden wouldn’t make a mistake, not like this.

“Dennis Myers died last night.”

“How?” Because Hyde had to know how Romeo went down.

“He attacked a guard while he was on his walk out of solitary.” The warden’s voice sounded tired. Working Angola, that figured. “He’d never attacked a guard before.” Because his prey had been girls. Weaker. So much easier to hurt.

“He got a shiv,” the warden continued. “We think someone passed it to him along the cell walk, and he went after a guard named Regan Lyle. Lyle fought back, shoved Dennis against a cell door. His neck broke on impact.”

A quick end. Not nearly as painful as he deserved. “Thanks, man. Appreciate the call.” He hung up the phone, aware that the warden had done him a favor by calling so quickly.

Hyde turned his chair so that he could stare out the window. Myers had taken the easy way out.

Death by cop. Or, this time, by prison guard.

Hyde knew what had happened to the killer.

He’d seen Monica, and he’d snapped. Because the bastard had realized he didn’t have power over her any longer.

No one would mourn for Dennis Myers, but some folks might just throw a party. The story would hit the news soon. He should tell Monica first.

He stared into that darkness just a little longer.

The Romeo Killer.

“Playing the tough guy, Hyde?” That taunting voice had echoed through his mind for so many years.

“She’s mine!”

You didn’t forget evil.

But you could bury it.

His gaze turned back to the desk, to the files that waited for him. So many cases.

A photo stared back up at him, a black-and-white image of a building engulfed in flames.

Some serials liked to touch their prey. They liked to use knives to make the kills intimate. Romeo had always liked to get that close, as close as a lover.

But others… some others wanted to light up the night with their crimes.

Hyde took a deep breath, and he reached for the phone.

One ring. Two. Then Monica’s voice, soft but clear when she said, “Agent Davenport.”

So different from the broken voice that had once haunted his dreams. I-I’m not Katherine.

Hyde cleared his throat. “Monica. I’ve got some news for you.”

The monster was dead. The team was safe.

One more serial down.

His gaze lingered on that deadly fire.

The damn rest of them to go.

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