He watched her.
Before work, he would follow her to hers, watching as she would walk in to the restaurant. If she were alone, he could see her glancing around, checking cars, searching faces. She was looking for him. The idea sent a little thrill through his system. His prey knew she was hunted, she just didn't know by whom.
He went there for lunch when she worked the mid shift, never sitting in her section. He'd sit close enough to the kitchen, though, to be able to see her. He loved to watch her smile, see the way her eyes lit up. Or to listen to her laugh and hear the crystalline tones of her voice. He could feel his heart speed up whenever she approached. He'd even made eye contact with her once or twice. But never for long, never long enough for her to feel him, not the way he felt her.
He got her name off of her mail, at first guessing which she would be, Ann, Kaylee or Ruth. But then he saw it on her name badge and knew. Kaylee was such a pretty name, almost like the music that was such a big part of his life.
He thought about her while he worked, using his musician's hands to put small receivers together in a plant for eight to ten hours a day. It was mundane, boring work, flipping the same part around and putting in four little screws. He could do it in his sleep. But it gave him plenty of time to think about her, about his Kaylee.
He'd drive by her house at night, watching the lights in the house. He knew the nights when her roommates would be out and she would be alone. He could feel her in that house; feel the nerves, the tension in her body. It called to him, that tension. He could feel it even when he left her, driving to his own lonely home, his cat, Buddha, greeting him at the door.
Buddha would sit and meow until he got his dinner, then go off and do cat things while he worked. He would develop the pictures he took during the day, hanging them to dry while he pinned up the ones from the day before. His wall was full now, Kaylee staring at him from hundreds of faces.
He'd taken down the others, storing them away. He'd put away his keepsakes. He felt it was wrong to have things from another woman sitting around his home when his heart now belonged to one. The girl he'd thought to possess, the girl who'd been next for him, her pictures lay forgotten now, at the bottom of his closet. Kaylee had unknowingly given her a reprieve from the death sentence of being the object of his lust.
He waited for the urge to strike him again; the compulsion to kill that was so overwhelming that it had forced him to take his first life so many years ago in that other place. She'd been messy, screaming for help. She'd clawed and bit him, fueling his rage. He'd beaten her to death and almost ruined his hands in the process, something he'd never let happen again.
Now he had it perfected, his art. His basement was set up just the way he liked it, the room soundproofed so that even from upstairs, he couldn't hear them scream. He had cameras rigged up, recording every move they made, capturing every sound, every prayer that was uttered from lips that were his to kiss, his to control. His video cabinet was full of tapes, all color coded and marked in his own special rating system. The end was always marked in red, red for pain, red for death. He had five red coded tapes.
A cable led from the basement up to his bedroom on the first floor, giving him live feed to his television set in there. He had watched the girls, long into the night as they screamed and cried, prayed and fought, trying to find a way out of their plastic cage. He enjoyed watching them, seeing their reaction after he visited. Their tears and pain fueled his fantasies.
Now he spent part of his evening revamping the cage. It was see through plastic, small holes drilled in the top. In one corner were a toilet and a small sink. He didn't want to deprive them of necessities. A small cot with a tiny pillow was bolted down on one side.
That was all that was necessary for them. He provided everything else. But now, he added to the cage, buying things he thought Kaylee would enjoy. He bought a small chair, taking the time to bolt it also to the cement floor. A small rug would warm her feet and soft cashmere blankets covered the old cot that would be her bed until she became used to him and learned he meant her no harm, not like the other girls. No, she'd learn that he wanted her to be with him forever.
At night, he lay looking at her, seeing her staring back at him from a hundred faces, her eyes sad and happy, tired and smiling all at once. When he closed his eyes, he saw her as she'd been that night, her body highlighted in the soft glow of the lamp, her hair thrown back caressing her skin. He'd get aroused by the memory of her body, nipples hard and erect, pebbled in her excitement, the red satin of her thong damp against her swollen nether lips, snugged in tightly between those perfect globes of her ass.
His hand would stroke over his hard cock as he'd remember the way she'd touched herself, the way her hand had moved under that satin, the look in her eyes as she'd brought herself closer and closer to pleasure. He wished she'd taken off the thong. He wanted to see the rest of her, that place that his grandma had said was dirty but that he knew wasn't.
But that would happen. He only had to be patient.
* * * *
It was in the morning newspapers, splayed all over the front page in huge letters.
BODIES FOUND IN SECLUDED VALLEY
Kaylee read the first few paragraphs, saddened by the thought. Those girls that had been reported missing, all were found dead. There'd been such uproar for each one, a huge search using dogs and helicopters. No sign of any of them and now they were found. She sent a prayer out to the families of each girl.
"Did you see this?" she asked Ruth when she got up, enticed by the smell of the coffee that Kaylee had made. "All five of them are dead, strangled."
"It was on the news last night," the petite blonde Ruth said. "Almost all they talked about. I feel so bad for their families. Think about it. Your sister or daughter killed by some unknown creep. It would be awful having to think of how they died, probably scared beyond all thought while some stranger chokes you to death."
Kaylee barely managed to hide the shiver that wanted to snake through her system. Her hands went to her own throat as she thought of how those girls had been strangled. "Just be careful, okay, Ruthie. I don't want to be calling your parents and telling them that you're missing."
"Kaylee, honey, you missed something." She took the paper away from Kaylee and turned it back to where the story was continued on the next page. It had pictures of all five girls. "Look at the girls, Kaylee. I think you have more to worry about then I do."
All the girls were pretty, slim, and smiling in the pictures. And all five had long dark hair.
"Maybe we should bleach your hair?" Ruthie asked jokingly.
"Oh, you are so funny." She tugged on a lock of her hair. "Maybe I should cut it?"
Ruthie leaned over and gave her a hug. "Just be careful. Don't take any chances. Have someone walk you out of the restaurant at night. Not forever," she added as she saw the look on her friend's face, "just until they catch this psycho."
"Yeah," Annie said, walking in on the end of the conversation. "I was going to mention that to you myself. Besides, you said how they found a piece of ribbon outside? You remember my friend, Mitch, he's a cop? He told me last night that all the girls were wearing the same type of red silk ribbon in their hair."
Kaylee felt a chill creep through her system, a shiver of fear that she couldn't shake off. "Maybe I should call that Officer James? See if he thinks I should worry. I mean, ever since that night..."
Annie got down a cup, stretching on her toes, her night shirt climbing up the back of her legs. "You've been spooked, Kaylee. Both Ruth and I have seen it. We've been worried about leaving you alone here at night." The cup clattered on the counter and she filled it with the dark blend that Kaylee had made, stirring in sugar before coming back to the table. "I thought about getting a dog, you know, some extra protection. I just didn't think the three of us were around here enough to take care of a dog."
"No dogs," Ruth said. "You know what a mess they are?"
"Just like I said," Ann replied. "We aren't around enough to take care of a dog. Sheesh, try listening before you jump at me, Ruthie."
Kaylee got up, she was working the breakfast shift and she was going to be late.
"I think I'll call the detectives in charge of the case. My weirdo could be the same guy as their killer. They'd want to know, right?"
* * * *
Homicide detective Gabriel Hampton was thinking the same thing. He'd spent the past two days out on the side of a hill, picking up bones and bodies, searching for clues. He was filthy, tired and sore from slipping down the side of the hill. He wanted to go home, take a shower and grab some coffee and catch an hour's sleep before he'd have to come back in and start his day.
Instead, he was sitting in his office, reaming out a couple of uniforms for not doing their jobs.
"And why didn't you do a house by house to see if anyone had noticed anything?"
"It was a peeper, dammit." John James stood in front of Gabe's desk pissed off. "A house search wasn't going to do anything."
"And you know this how, officer? Are you clairvoyant?" Gabe watched as James fumed, his face turning red at being talked down to by someone not his superior. He knew what the man was thinking; he could see it in his eyes. He was trying to come up with an excuse.
Gabe hated excuses. "Stop," he said, holding up a hand. "Just shut up. Instead of arguing with me, just go out and do your job now. It's been a week but maybe someone will remember something." He rubbed his eyes tiredly as they left his office. He should flag the man's jacket, write up an official complaint for his file. And he would, when he had the energy left to look up the right paperwork.
"Gabe? You got a call," one of the guys out in the bull pen hollered in to his office.
"Message, asshole," Gabe said to himself. "Don't any of you know how to take a message?" He picked up the handset and hit the flashing button on the front of the phone. "Detective Hampton."
"Are you in charge of the dead girls they found out on Hill Road?"
The voice on the other end of the phone was soft, slightly hesitant and very female. Gabe found himself sitting a little straighter in his chair as he answered. "Yeah, what can I do for you?"
"My name is Kaylee Cranston, detective. I reported a peeping Tom last week. They found some red ribbon out where he'd been standing." She hesitated, waiting for the detective to jump in, to say something about the ribbon, but he was strangely silent. "Sir, do you think it could be the same guy who killed those other girls?"
Gabe was silently fuming. They'd kept the ribbon out of the newspaper and hushed for a reason. Somehow they had a leak. A leak in a case was never a good thing but one this early in the case spelled disaster.
"Ms. Cranston? May I ask how you came by this information?"
"Why? Is it true?" She waited for a second and when he didn't answer, Kaylee gave the phone a glare. "Listen, Detective Hampton, I had some guy watching me and now, I feel like someone is following me, watching my every move. It's scaring me, Detective, badly. I can't sleep and now I get told that some psycho is putting ribbons in girls' hair, the same kind that was found outside of my house the night that pervert was watching me. Can you understand why I'm calling you?"
"Yes ma'am. I can understand your fears. I've already sent out some officers to your neighborhood to talk to your neighbors. Have you seen anyone following you?"
"No," Kaylee admitted. "But I feel it. I feel eyes watching me during the day, sometimes at night if I go out."
"I'd like to speak with you more, later today. Maybe get a police sketch artist to work with you, see if you can recall any details of his face."
"I'm late for work now," Kaylee hedged. "My shift ends at four."
"Perfect," Gabe said. He took down the name of the restaurant and the time in his notebook and hung up.
* * * *
Kaylee left for work. She changed into her uniform in the employee locker room, throwing her purse and clothes into a locker and locking it securely. Grabbing her order pad, she hurried out onto the floor.
"You're late," hissed Tina as she hurried past with a full tray of food for one of the tables. "Devon's looking for you."
"Great, just what I need today on top of everything else." She plastered on a smile and headed towards her tables.
She managed to avoid her manager, Devon Basset, for half of the morning, but she couldn't avoid the main topic of conversation that everyone was buzzing about. The dead girls. By the time the lunch rush had stopped, she heard so much gossip, each story more absurd than the one before as embellishments were added.
And most of her customers took in her long dark hair, pulled up in a bun for work, and told her to be careful.
Devon cornered her just as she was coming off of break.
Kaylee let her words go in one ear and out the other, trying not to be embarrassed over the fact that she was being harangued in front of her co-workers and anyone sitting close enough to the kitchen to hear. She glanced over and saw one man, sitting in the booth closest to the prep area, his eyes trained on Devon.
There was a look in his pale blue eyes, a kind of internal rage that sent a shiver through Kaylee.
"Are you listening to me?" Devon asked, her voice pitched a little shriller at the thought that she might be ignored.
"Yes, Devon," Kaylee said, turning back to her manager. "I heard every word you said." She glanced back over at the table and the man was gone leaving Kaylee to wonder if she'd actually saw what she'd thought she had.
The rest of the afternoon passed slowly until just before four when the afternoon hostess, Barbie an older woman with a heart of gold and a soft spot for Kaylee, seated a single in her section. He was tall, dark hair shot through with highlights of gold and silver and the most mesmerizing blue eyes that Kaylee had ever seen.
Tina nudged her as they passed each other. "Tall, dark and scrumptious at table twelve. Want me to take him for you?"
Kaylee shifted the tray of burgers and fries she was hauling out to the floor. "Not on your life," she said, smiling sweetly. She delivered the food, brought out extra ketchup and saved a glass of ice water from being knocked over. Then she made her way to table twelve.
"Hi," she said, all smiles. "My name's Kaylee. Can I get you something to drink or are you ready to order?"
Gabe flipped out his badge, leaving it flat on the table so that it wasn't obvious. "Ms. Cranston?" he asked, even though he knew this had to be Kaylee Cranston. She looked just like the killer's type. Young, pretty with long dark hair and a figure that he'd had problems taking his eyes off of since he had spotted her.
"Detective Hampton," Kaylee sighed, her luck, gorgeous and a cop on a case. Someone up there hated her. "I have another ten minutes left on my shift. Can I get you some coffee while you wait? Maybe tempt you with something to eat?"
He ordered dinner, coffee and a burger. It would probably be the last chance he had to grab anything until he went off shift. And there was no telling when that was. He watched her work while he waited, she was pretty, but there was also something about her that made her sparkle, a quality that he couldn't put his finger on right away. He could see her being the killer's type, very easily. And it made him nervous.
She was also very easy on the eyes in a short black skirt with black nylons showing off long legs. A white blouse was tucked in, showing off her flat stomach and nicely rounded breasts, with the open buttons at the throat hinting at deep cleavage. He felt a stir in his groin as he watched her bend slightly to pick something up, her skirt riding a few inches up the back of her smooth thighs.
She slid his food in front of him and then slid into the bench seat across from him with a sigh. "Sorry, sore feet, it's been a long day."
"That's okay." He got out his notebook and pen and then looked at the burger.
"Go ahead. I've got time, Detective. And you look hungry."
Gabe gave her a grateful grin. "Thanks, it's been a long time since breakfast," he looked at is watch, "yesterday." He picked up the burger and took a bite, making Kaylee laugh at the groan of pleasure that he made at the taste of the food. "I've never eaten here before. Foods not bad," he said after he swallowed.
"Yeah, and the service rocks," she laughed, making him chuckle.
"And is very pretty too," Gabe said before he realized what he was saying. He felt a blush heat his cheeks and stared down at his food.
"Thanks," Kaylee said, smiling up at him and enjoying the blush that heated his tanned skin turning it darker. "I bet you say that to all the ladies you have to interview."
"Actually, that was a first." His eyes roamed over her pretty features, resting for a moment on her mouth. He felt a stir of interest in his body, something that hadn't happened since he'd gotten out of his last relationship, a relationship that had left him scarred and hardened and too bitter to get involved with someone this young, he reminded himself.
He finished off the rest of the burger, eating quickly. "Ms. Cranston, on the night of September 20th, you were in your home. Can you tell me what happened that night?"
"I don't see how going over this again is going to do any good but, okay, I'm game if you are. I was tired, it'd been a long day here, we'd been short staffed and I ended up working a double. I got home and Annie and Ruth weren't home."
"That's Ann Matthews and Ruth Ramsey, right?"
"Yes," she said, watching him scribble something into his notebook. "Anyway, I went in to the house and put away the groceries I'd gotten that night, then decided to take a hot bath to relax."
"Groceries, there wasn't any mention of groceries in the first report." He flipped back through his notebook to look at the notes he'd made earlier that day after he talked to her. Gabe was thorough, going through the original reports with a fine tooth comb and making notes to remind him of the details.
"I guess I didn't think about it that night," she said with a shrug. "I stopped and picked up a few things." Kaylee tried to look at the notebook, but with his illegible scrawl and it being upside down, she couldn't make out a word.
"Where do you shop, Ms. Cranston?"
"Kaylee, please, or Kay. Ms. Cranston is my dad's sister. She's an old maid school teacher. Um, anyway, I stopped at Bushes on 3rd Street on the way home. I just ran in for some milk and stuff. Why?"
"Is that where you always shop, Kaylee?" he asked, writing in his notebook.
"Yeah, it's right on the way home, pretty convenient when it's late at night. And their prices aren't too outrageous either."
"Did anything happen there, did you run into anyone you know, see anything strange, anything unusual?" Gabe peered up at her from under thick eyelashes. She was gnawing on her bottom lip, her teeth nibbling delicately. He felt this strong urge to reach over, to run his finger across her lips, to see if they were as soft as they looked. It was a compulsion that he quickly squashed.
"I ran into the store and ran out. I...wait. No. There was a guy. I was on my way into the store and checking in my purse to make sure I had my checkbook with me and ran into this man. I said I was sorry, he said he was sorry. I wished him a good night and that was it." She closed her eyes hunting her memory to see if she could remember what he looked like. She just saw so many strangers everyday, it was hard to pick one out of the crowd.
"Okay, you left the store, where did you go next?"
"I went home, put away my groceries and looked through the mail. I went down to my bedroom, it has its own bathroom." She could feel her cheeks flushing as she thought of what happened next.
Gabe caught the blush. "Then?" he prompted.
"I was getting undressed and saw eyes that were reflected in the mirror above my dresser. I grabbed my shirt and turned around. I couldn't see his face, it was too dark outside. I could just see his eyes. He took off running and I thought about looking to see which way he ran, but by the time I got to the front window, he was gone." Kaylee suppressed a shudder at the thought of that night.
"So he was probably watching you, what two, three minutes?" Gabe asked, writing in his notebook. When Kaylee didn't answer right away, he looked up. She was chewing on her lip again, her face flushed. "Kaylee? It was only a few minutes, right?"
"I don't know for sure. It could have been more like ten to fifteen," she said, not looking at him.
"He watched you for ten to fifteen minutes?"
"I don't know if he was out there for all that time or not." Kaylee wanted to slide under the table, she could feel those gorgeous eyes staring at her and she refused to meet them.
"Kaylee?" Gabe said softly, waiting until she finally looked at him. "Anything you say to me that won't be used on the case will be kept between you and me."
Kaylee nodded her head, smiling ruefully. She closed her eyes and swallowed. "I was..." she hesitated and he could almost see her mind working, "doing yoga."
"Yoga?" Gabe asked skeptically.
"Yoga," Kaylee said again, wondering if the lie showed on her face. "It works better in front of a mirror."
"And do you always do yoga in front of your mirror half naked?" Gabe knew she was lying, but he didn't know why. The expression on her beautiful face gave her away.
"No, but as I said, it was a hell of a day, and I was stressed, I did a few short exercises to get rid of some of it." She looked up and met his eyes, forcing herself to keep staring into the gorgeous blue of his. "Is there some law against that, Detective Hampton?"
Gabe smiled, admiring her gumption. "No, Kaylee. No law against that. And please, call me Gabe."
She couldn't help but smile back. It wasn't fair for a cop to be so damn good looking. "After that, I looked into the mirror, saw him staring at me."
Gabe wrote down something in his illegible scrawl then flipped his notebook closed. "You haven't seen him since?"
"I don't know. I only saw his eyes and only for that brief time." She shrugged. "I've been feeling kind of strange since then though," she said, acting as if it weren't a big deal. She didn't want to come off as a hysterical female. "Which is why I called this morning after I found out about the red ribbons being left. It's like there is someone watching me, following me."
"But you haven't seen anyone?" Gabe asked.
"No, but I feel eyes. How do I put this?" She squinted her eyes shut as she thought, her nose wrinkling. "Like the hair standing up on the back of your neck feeling that someone is out there watching you. That's how I feel."
"Okay. And this is just since the twentieth?"
"Yes. I'm not crazy, Gabe. Really I'm not. I know what I feel and I know that someone is out there watching me." She reached out and grabbed his wrist. "I feel it in the morning when I leave for work. If I go anywhere at night or out to dinner, I can feel it. Sometimes, even here at work, I get that creepy crawly feeling."
"Has any of your friends or co-workers noticed anything? Have you had anything taken from your car or missing from your home?" Gabe was willing to take her seriously. Their unknown subject had been working on an accelerated pace, taking his victims about one every two weeks according to the time line that he had worked up by the dates of disappearances. The medical examiner hadn't been doing very well on time of death.
With the last victim, Allison, they'd had a little more luck. Ambient temperature had preserved the body and animals hadn't had much of a chance to do more than start to feast. Insects had found her, and there they had their luck. Samples taken of insect larva and adults had been flown to the State Crime Laboratory where the state was lucky enough to have their own expert in entomology. They were still waiting on reports back from them.
"My friends think I'm losing it." Kaylee looked up at him. "I think I am too, sometimes. I'm scared, Gabe, and I don't like it."
Gabe reached out a comforting hand and let it rest on the hand she still had on his wrist. "It's an invasion of your privacy, Kaylee, a kind of rape of your own personal space. It's understandable for you to be afraid. But if you take reasonable precautions you should be safe."
He stared into the dark shadows of her eyes, feeling an intense attraction that he hadn't expected. He looked down, realizing that he was still holding her small hand in her own and he pulled away, clearing his throat. "Um, I can set up some defense classes for you and any of your friends that are interested. Sometimes, just knowing a few simple moves can stop an attack dead."
Kaylee smiled, she felt the attraction just as strongly as the detective. When he'd touched her hand, a sharp thrill had traveled through her nerve endings, surprising her. "Sure, Gabe. I'll let you know after I talk to them."
"Are you done for the day?" he asked, stashing his notebook back inside his jacket pocket. He pulled out his wallet to pay for his food.
"Yes. And your food is taken care of, Gabe." She smiled as he nodded his thanks and smiled back.
"Then how about I walk you out to your car, I'd like to see your backyard, the window this man was looking in, maybe if you see me out there, you'll be able to remember more." He stood up next to the booth and waited for her to rise.
"I just have to grab my stuff from the back, if you'd like to wait for me outside?" she asked, smiling up at him. He was a good head taller than she was, and she had to look up at him. One of the waitresses walked by with her arms full of tray piled high with food and Gabe took a step towards Kaylee, pressing against her as he got out of the way.
His body was hard against hers, making her catch her breath at the pleasure it evoked. She heard his mumbled apology and stuttered a reply, shifting away from him reluctantly when he stepped back. She hurried to the locker room grabbing her bag and waving a quick goodbye to Tina who smiled smugly and waved back, flashing her a thumb's up sign.
Gabe was waiting outside. When Kaylee came out the doors, he flipped a half smoked cigarette into an outside ashtray can and met her half way.
Kaylee glanced back at the cigarette still smoldering in the sand left in the can, then glanced up at Gabe.
"I'm trying to quit." He laughed. "I'm always trying to quit." He waved his hand out in front of him, letting her go ahead. She led him to an ancient red Camaro that had seen much better days.
He stopped her when he saw that the door was ajar.
"Wait here," he said, holding her arm back for a second. He reached under his jacket, pulling out a Beretta 9 millimeter and flipping off the safety. He stepped back, looking under the car quickly before going towards the door. Grabbing a latex glove out of his jacket pocket, he reached out and pulled the door open, looking through the window into the backseat.
No one was in the car but sitting in the passenger seat was a square box wrapped in silvery paper with a bright red silk ribbon tied in a beautiful bow on the top. The box was roughly the size of a woman's shoe box.
"Is it your birthday or maybe an anniversary?" Gabe asked, putting his Glock back into its holster.
"No," Kaylee said, her arms wrapped tightly around herself.
"Boyfriend with keys to your car who likes to leave you presents?" Gabe asked as he reached carefully into the car.
"I don't have a boyfriend right now, Gabe. What's going on?" She took a few steps closer to the car.
Gabe picked the package up carefully, making sure to not touch it with his bare hands. It was heavy and solid. He pulled it out of the car and placed it on the hood. "There's no card. Do you know of anyone who might leave you presents in your car? Does anyone have an extra key? Of course, I'm assuming you had this locked."
"Of course, I've been locking it everywhere I go since that night. And no one has keys to my car. I have an extra set at home and my parents have a set but they live in Texas." A quick surge of fear flowed through her. "It was him, wasn't it? He broke into my car and left me that."
"Kaylee," he turned and took her arms in his hands giving her a gentle shake. "It's okay. It could just be from a friend." He waited until she looked up at him and got control of herself. "I'll take it back to our crime lab, we'll x-ray it, see what's in it. If that's okay with you."
She was nodding her head before he was even through speaking. "Take it, please. I don't want it."
"Okay, Kaylee. I'm going to call this in, get someone out here to print your car and take this to the lab."
He looked into her eyes, making sure she was calm. He gave her a smile. "It'll just take a little while for them to get out here. And then I'll drive you home."
"What about my car?"
"Kaylee, I might have to have it towed into the crime lab so they can go through it. That's just a maybe though," he hastened to say. "Probably they'll just want to print it."
She closed her eyes and sighed, her shoulders tensing up. "I don't work tomorrow, maybe Ann or Ruthie can bring me back for it." She sighed again when he laid a gentle hand on her shoulder and squeezed.
He walked a few paces away and pulled out his cell phone, calling in for a crime scene unit. He turned as he spoke into the phone, looking back at Kaylee as she stood, her arms wrapped around her waist, her eyes searching the area. He caught her eye and smiled again.
When he was done setting up the lab and calling the techs, he called in for a unit to come and secure the scene. Then he went back to Kaylee.
"This will take a few minutes for the unit to get here. If you'd like to go back in and wait, it would be okay."
"Could I stay out here with you?" she asked quietly.
"Yeah," he said. "Yeah, you can. I'm going to bring my car over, you can sit in it and wait while I check out a few things. How does that sound?"
Kaylee smiled, relieved. She hated feeling and sounding like a scared little girl, but she couldn't help it. She'd never been more scared in her life. "Thank you."
He brought his car over, blocking off this end of the parking lot, turning on the blue bubble light that he kept on his dash. Opening the passenger door, he let Kaylee sit down inside, leaving the door open so she could see him. His head kept asking him why he was being so solicitous. But he pushed the thought ruthlessly to the side, taking a small flashlight out of his trunk. After getting a paper bag out, he walked over and carefully put the gift inside the bag, closing the top.
As soon as the first unit showed up, he sent them into the restaurant to do interviews to see if anyone had noticed anything. Though the employee parking lot was around to the back of the restaurant, which meant for a patron to have seen anything would be a miracle. He had them grab the manager and get addresses for all staff that worked that day, and then sent another team of detectives out to ask them if they'd seen anyone around the car.
When the crime scene people arrived, the car was taped off, the scene secured and waiting for them. After speaking to Gabe, they decided to tow the car to the lab where they'd be better able to print it.
"Bad news, Kaylee. I'm sorry, they want to take it to the lab. They'll only have it a couple of days though and they'll call you when they're through." He smiled as he crouched down to talk to her. "I can run you to the store tonight before I take you home if you need anything."
He heard himself offering before he'd thought the words. But when she smiled, and thanked him, he couldn't be sorry for them.
"Thanks, Gabe. That's very nice of you. But I'm fine. If you could just get me home..." she let the sentence dangle.
"We're almost out of here, let me just talked to my men and then we're gone." He patted her hands.
When he turned around he started wondering at himself. He'd always been good to victims, usually though, his victims were dead and the live people he dealt with were either the relatives of the dead or the suspects. He respected the relatives and tore into the suspects. He kept his hands to himself, did what was necessary and did his job, no matter how ugly, how gruesome and grizzly it was.
So why was he acting this way? He glanced over his shoulder, seeing her smile. Kaylee was beautiful. But he'd dated, slept with, had even once been married to a woman more beautiful. She was vulnerable right now, scared and confused, but he was around the vulnerable daily. What was so different about her?
He left orders to be called if anyone found anything, took a quick look around the lot. He was convinced that the person who had left the gift, whether it was their suspect or not, would want to be around for the unveiling. And having the police show up had probably pissed him off.
May 6, 2018 in romance