Page 8 of The District

“No sexual assault, huh?”

“Nope, not for any of the victims. Your guy?”

“No.” He shook out another photo, this one a close-up of the victim’s throat and the ghastly, gaping wound. A necklace clung to the woman’s neck, still intact.

Eric’s pulse jumped and he held the picture closer to his face.

“What is it? You see something?”

He dropped the photo and he jabbed a finger at the victim’s throat. “This necklace...same one my kidnapper wore.”

Chapter Three

Christina jerked her head to the side, her jaw dropping. Was Eric seeing things? He’d rarely mentioned his kidnapping as an eleven-year-old in San Francisco. It had been a strange one—no ransom note, no demands, and the kidnappers released him on a street corner two days later.

At the time, the police had connected his kidnapping to the serial killer case Eric’s father had been working—the serial killings Joseph Brody would later be suspected of committing. Right before he jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge.

What did this murder victim, Liz Fielding, have to do with Eric’s kidnapping?

She snatched up the photo from the desk where he’d dropped it. “What are you talking about, Eric? Her necklace?”

“She kept her face hidden, they all did. I guess they figured that was easier than blindfolding me. And the woman, she’s the one who always checked on me. When she leaned over me, her necklace would swing forward. I got a good look at the medallion hanging from the chain.” He tapped the picture. “Just like this.”

She squinted at the necklace with the round pendant nestled against the dead woman’s chest. “It’s just a coincidence, Eric.”

He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I always thought it was some symbol of Satan or something.”

“And why wouldn’t you?” She studied the design of the symbol, black etching on the silver disc. It almost looked like the outline of a whale’s tail, but she could see how a child might see a pair of horns.

“Did you ever research it?”

“Honestly, I’d forgotten all about the design until two minutes ago.”

“How can you even be sure it’s the same symbol after all these years?”

“You have your feelings, and I—” he poked his chest with his thumb “—have mine.”

“It’s not the same necklace, Eric. This is not the same woman.”

“The age is right. My kidnapper was probably mid-twenties. This woman is mid-forties.”

“Eric.” She gripped his wrist. “Liz Fielding is not the same woman who kidnapped you. She’s wearing a similar necklace.”

Licking his lips, he wiped the back of his hand across his forehead. “You’re right. It just took me back. Crazy.”

He opened the desk drawer and slipped out a piece of paper. He started sketching on it with his pencil.

“Now what?”

“I didn’t have access to a computer or the internet twenty years ago. Now I’m curious what, if anything, this symbol means. Who knows? The meaning of Liz’s necklace might even lead to a break in this case.” He lodged his tongue in the corner of his mouth and continued drawing.

While Eric took his walk down memory lane, she perused the crime scene photos, checking them against the report. The detectives in Portland hadn’t identified a location where the killer could’ve been lying in wait, but he must’ve done so. He’d had his killing accoutrement with him, a blunt object for stunning his victim, a sharp knife for the cutting and the tarot card for the coup de grâce.

Maybe it wasn’t going to be Liz Fielding that day, but it was going to be someone.

She’d have to make a return visit to the area where Liz had been found and take Eric with her. She slid a glance at his face, the lines set in concentration.

He still made her pulse race, and warm, sweet honey pool in all the right places.

He’d broken her heart when he walked out on her. By the time she’d discovered her pregnancy he’d gone on a leave of absence and escaped to parts unknown.

Even when she’d heard he was back on the job, she couldn’t bring herself to contact him and tell him about Kendall. He probably would’ve accused her of using Kendall to get him back.

Once he’d discovered her notes about the Phone Book Killer, it had completely destroyed any trust between them. She’d been so outraged that he believed Ray’s lies about her, she didn’t bother explaining the truth to him. When she found out she was pregnant, it was too late. He’d disappeared from her life...but apparently not for good.