All the Lies (Page 22)
“I don’t want to see corkscrew penises.”
“Then I’ll pull up a blue waffle for you. Come over. Now. Before you do something stupid.”
“What is a blue waffle?”
I can almost hear his mocking grin. “You’ll see. Guarantee you won’t be thinking about killing for a while. Your mind will need to be bleached.”
“The things I do to stay sane,” I grumble, changing course as I go to investigate this blue waffle thing.
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
“Hey,” I say, relaxing when Lana answers the phone.
I don’t blame her for bailing on the madness that followed the sheriff’s unprovoked attack, but I’ve been worried since she hasn’t answered her phone for the past few hours.
The sheriff and his deputies are cooling down back at their station. Johnson won the war on the arrests, but he’s running out of juice. This is one more strike against him in the file Collins is currently preparing.
“Hey,” she says softly, her voice like a soothing balm.
“Where are you?”
I look around the cabin, finding no sign that she’s been back.
“I went for a run. I was getting…annoyed. I don’t like being annoyed,” she says sadly. “I hope you’re okay. I didn’t want to call until I knew for sure you weren’t around any of them.”
“I’m fine, Lana,” I say with a smirk. “Trust me, I can handle a few backwoods cops and an outdated agent with superiority complexes.”
“Don’t underestimate them.”
Her voice comes from behind me, and I toss my phone to the bed when I see her standing in the doorway, her chest rising and falling rapidly as a small sheen of sweat beads at her forehead.
“A body drops from the tower, and you go for a run,” I say on a sigh, not realizing how tense I was until this moment.
“They were attacking you. I knew if I said anything, I’d just make it worse,” she says as she pulls off her jacket and steps farther into the room. “And I suck at biting my tongue.”
My grin etches up as I move in closer, tugging her to me by her waist.
“I can handle my own battles, so you can use your tongue for better things,” I murmur against her ear, feeling her smile even though I can’t see it.
I start kissing a trail down her neck, and she presses her body to me.
“I’ve needed this,” she says, her arms tightening around me in an embrace.
As much as I’d love to do something more than hug, I realize it’s sort of what I need in this moment too. Mostly because she’s fucking ridiculously brave enough to wander around a town where a man was just skinned alive. Why can’t she be normal and lock herself inside this cabin?
I’m getting an ulcer over her.
“We’re getting away as soon as this case is over. Just you and me and a beach far, far away.”
“I know you said a week but…maybe longer than a week?” she asks, leaning her head back. “My treat?”
“I can’t take more than a week at a time, given our current work load. But maybe soon. And I’ll pay for it.”
She rolls her eyes before her head finds my chest, and she continues holding onto me.
“I love you,” I say softly.
Her arms squeeze me tighter as the chatter outside the window grows restless, everyone waiting on me.
“I love you too,” she says on a long sigh. “I take it you have somewhere to be?”
“Sort of have to find the guy who just skinned a grown man alive.”
She nods and steps back, wiping something away from her eye. “Right. Sorry.”
“You okay?” I ask, lightly gripping her chin and turning her to face me.
She peers up at me, her eyes hesitant. She never asks for anything, but always gives so much. Yet I see a question in her eyes, and I’m willing to do whatever she wants. Even if it’s getting the hell out of here and abandoning this case.
Then again, I still have a lot of justice to find in an extremely unjust town, while pretending to focus only on the current killer. Although, considering Johnson and the sheriff are already plotting my demise, I suppose I could give up pretenses. They know by now I’m doing more than gathering some background that could point to our killer. Hell, I’ve basically announced it.
I’m building a whole fucking case against them.
It’s just really hard to do without any physical evidence.
“What do you need?” I ask her when she grows silent.
“This afternoon, if you get a chance, do you think we could spend a couple of hours together?”
It’s the first time she’s ever asked that. Usually it’s me asking her to bend her life around my crazy schedule, not to mention put up with possible death threats.
“I can take off the entire afternoon,” I say, strumming her cheek with my fingertips.
I really can’t afford it right now, not with Johnson scheming with the director as I speak. But I won’t tell her that.
“Just a couple of hours,” she says with a small smile. “I know you have a lot on your plate.”
The chatter outside keeps growing louder, and I bend to press a kiss to her lips.
“I’ll be back at seven, and then I’m all yours for the rest of the night.”
She closes her eyes as I touch her, as though she’s absorbing the feel of my hand on her cheek.
“Okay,” she says softly, her eyes opening to reveal those haunting green eyes that have forever been seared into my memory.
I kiss her quickly, and head for the door, feeling like I’m doing something wrong. Never once, until now, has she seemed so vulnerable.
When I reach the outside, there are people lined up all around, everyone talking at once. What the hell? How long was I inside? This wasn’t going on when I came in.
“What’s going on?” I ask Elise.
She turns to me with a stoic expression.
“Apparently the amnesia is gone, and suddenly everyone wants to tell the tale of what happened ten years ago, along with everything that’s been going on before and since then. We’re going to be taking statements for the rest of the night.”
People are lined up all the way down the street, and I run a hand through my hair. I turn to see Lana standing on the porch, her eyes settling on the long line of people who are ready to spill the secrets they’ve kept for so long.
That coldness is back in her eyes.
It’s as though she resents them right now.
Fear is always a good motivator to make people grow honest.
I turn back to Leonard, and he gestures me toward him.
“I’m supposed to ride with Donny to the M.E. to get the report on Davenport,” I tell him.
“I’m taking his place. He’s going to help with this mess and deal with the deputies who keep showing up and trying to squash the line. Unsurprisingly, no one is backing down. I guess they fear a killer who has the power to skin a monster more than they fear the men who’ve had them cowering for who knows how long.”
I shake my head, leaving behind the mess.
As soon as we’re in the car, I crank it and start driving.
“Did you get ahold of Jacob Denver?” I ask.
“He’s in California on business, according to his answering machine.”
“You don’t say,” I murmur. “How very convenient. Look into it and see if there’s proof.”
“Alan confirmed the plane ticket was used and someone checked into a hotel under his name in California. He’s pulling security footage, but we both know that a ball cap will obscure most of the visible for a guy in a wheelchair. I’m guessing he planned this out carefully if he’s involved. His alibi will check out, even if it’s not really him.”
He raps his fingers on the dash like he’s nervous, and I give him a sidelong glance.
“What’s wrong?” I ask, curious.
“I have a feeling you’re not going to like the next part I tell you.”
He turns to face me, and I pause at a stop light.
“Alan has been getting watched closely by the director, so I had an old friend do some extra research. I found out that Jacob Denver has another business he’s basically a silent partner in.”
“Remember how I told you I had a theory, but thought I was wrong? But then we found out our unsub has a partner?”
“Sure. Why is this making you so nervous?” I ask, confused.
“Does the name Kennedy Carlyle sound familiar for any reason?”
I think of it, trying to mull it over. “The name Carlyle does… Shit. That was the name of the drunk drivers who were behind the wheel of the car that killed Jasmine Evans.”
He nods slowly. “They orphaned a daughter who was young. Same age as Victoria, actually. Their birthdays were even close together. Her name was Kennedy.”
“What does this have to do with anything?”
He raps his fingers harder, acting more nervous than I’ve ever seen him before.
“At first I thought it was just serendipitous. I visited the hospital to ask about Victoria Evans, but when I said a sixteen-year-old girl involved in a car crash on that date, they said they’d already spoken to one FBI agent about her. I got confused, until they handed me a file on Kennedy Carlyle instead of Victoria Evans. They couldn’t show me much, but they hit the highlights.”