The Risk (Page 11)

She rolls her eyes and mocks a gag, so I flip her off and start pulling up the latest case files.

“Everyone has flaws. You’re just in the honeymoon phase. Eventually she will get annoyed with cancellations and unavailability. Just like you’ll eventually start noticing things she does that irritate you. Right now is the shiny happy part that everyone loves. It’s why so many people get married after barely knowing each other. It’s also why they get divorced when they do know each other.”

She laughs, and I lean back, mulling that over. I don’t remember the ‘honeymoon’ phase being this damn good in the past.

“I’m overanalyzing this,” I say on a sigh.

“It’s your nature. It’s what makes you good at this job. But I’m telling you, right now the girl could fart out toxic waste that had you pulling on a mask, and you’d think it was cute. It’s part of the phase.”

She claps me on the shoulder as she laughs and walks away, and I look down as I get a text.

LANA: Your boxers are comfortable.

ME: You’re wearing them? Didn’t know I left them behind.

LANA: I figured you did it on purpose. So you’d have a reason to come back.

ME: Already got a reason to come back.

LANA: Now you have two…

There’s a picture attached to the last message of her from the waist down, definitely wearing my boxers. I run a hand through my hair, hating the fact I don’t want to be at work for the first time ever. I’ve always loved the job, yet a girl I barely know has me tempted to take my first ever sick day.

ME: Keep them on. I’ll be back tonight, and I want to see them in person.

LANA: Lucky for you I have no plans. And I’ll just be wearing these when you get here.

Groaning in frustration, I put my phone away, and I hurry through some of the slim new leads. The hotline tips get more ridiculous every day. The Boogeyman case is getting about as cold as my murder/mutilation case.

Several other cases are on the backburner, since no new murders have popped out. The ones that kill once or twice a year are twice as hard to find. Our only hot case is a murder/robbery serial.

I work, looking through some of the leads, examining the same photos as always. After two hours, I’m at the murder board, still trying to piece together what makes these women the targets.

None of them are overtly rich. They all have different family backgrounds. Different ethnicities. Different hair colors.

Though they were all attractive, there was no rape as incentive. Impotence is a possible in our profile, but…there’s something else that is driving him. There’s a reason why he selects and stalks these particular women.

My eyes look to their eyes, then their noses, then their mouths… Something clicks, and my heartbeat picks up.

Just as Hadley walks by, I grab her wrist, stopping her as my eyes narrow on one piece of evidence we haven’t been able to figure out.

“The lab analyzed that clay you found in the apartment, right?” I ask, lost in thought.

She nods. “Yeah. Nothing special about it. You could buy it at any arts and crafts store. And no one knows why it was there. It wasn’t found on the victim or anywhere else in the apartment. They think the unsub brought it in on his shoes or clothes.”

“And the faces had all been thoroughly cleaned then bleached. The hair had also been shaven off and the head was cleaned then bleached,” I state, still doing the math.

“Yes… Why?”

I look past her to where Donny is.

“Donny, look up art galleries in the area of the robberies/murders.”

He looks perplexed, but starts typing.

“Hadley, I need you to get on all the art sites you can find and see if anyone is selling bronze sculptures of faces. Narrow them down to the ones who started in the past four months, when the killings started,” I go on, walking toward Donny’s desk.

I turn to see her still standing there, confused.

“Now!” I urge her, and she scrambles to her desk.

Donny is typing furiously when I come up behind him. “Four in the area. None are selling bronze sculptures of faces,” he says, frowning. “Or was I supposed to be looking for something different than Hadley?”

“Call each one and ask if anyone tried to sell them the bronze sculptures. It’ll be faces only.”

He picks up his phone to do as I ask, and I go back to my computer, pulling up the program I need. I place all the victims’ pictures in the spots, and after a few keystrokes, my suspicions are confirmed.

“Symmetry,” I say on a long breath.

“What?” Craig asks, coming to look over my shoulder.

“He’s choosing them because of the symmetry of their faces. Perfect symmetry, which is supposed to be very rare, if not impossible. He’s choosing them because they have it, and he’s using their faces to mold art. He’s probably trying to sell it, and he’s fixated on anyone who has a symmetrical face. Women in particular. He may have a da Vinci fixation as well.”

My eyes scan the room, and I spot Lisa clipping her fingernails.

“Lisa, look at anyone in the comfort zone who might have ordered a lot of Leonardo da Vinci prints, or books on da Vinci. Focus primarily on anything revolving around the Vitruvian Man. The unsub would most likely be obsessed with that work.”

“And you think this because?” Craig asks, confused.

“Call it a gut feeling. We’ve solved a lot of cases with my gut.”

“Yeah, that’s why you keep getting promoted. But how the hell do you fit da Vinci in with clay, robberies, and shaved heads with bleach poured on them?”

“The bleach is a forensic countermeasure, just as shaving and removing all the hair then bleaching the head. He’s removing all traces of the clay from the body. The hair is probably being saved for the sculpture too. Not all artists can paint or draw.”

“I’m lost,” Craig goes on.

“Da Vinci wasn’t just famous for his intellect or paintings. There were large sculptures he created that have historians buzzing too. He drew it first, then he molded it from clay or beeswax—depends on which version of the story you hear. From there, he cast it in bronze to create another masterpiece. A man who is fixated on him and symmetry, but can’t draw or create art from nothing? That’s who we’re looking for.”

“Nothing,” Hadley says, looking frustrated. “Several molds are made from numerous things, but no bronze. Does it have to be bronze?” she asks.

“Yes,” I say, convinced this is the right lead to chase. “It explains the robberies. He’d sell the valuables he stole to buy the amount of bronze he needs. It’s not cheap.”

“We’ve scoured pawn shops and internet sites looking for anyone selling that stuff though,” Donny interjects.

“The right shady pawn dealer wouldn’t give a damn if we were asking about it, and would lie to keep from turning it over and losing that profit. If this guy is using forensic counter measures, then he’s done his homework on where to sell.”

Donny resumes his phone calls, and I do something that probably won’t help. I pull up the buy, sell, and trade site that Lana runs. She mentioned last night that she leaves things up for a month after they sell with a SOLD sign on it to keep people from asking what happened to it.

I scroll through the jewelry section, since that’s what was mostly stolen. But nothing is on there. Maybe I was just looking for an excuse to speak to her. Because I’ve got it bad and it’s pathetic.

“Got something!” Donny says, drawing all of our attention as he returns to the conversation he’s having on the phone. “Yes. Did he leave a number or an address to reach him?”

He scribbles something down as we all stand. I put my jacket on and holster my gun. Looks like I’m going to need my go-bag again. Fortunately it has several pairs of clothes.

He hangs up and holds up the paper.

“They’ve got a guy who has come into two of the four places trying to sell them a ‘growing’ set of bronze heads.”

“Looks like we’re flying to New York,” Craig says, eyeing me like I’m a weird fucking unicorn. “And I guess we’re getting the damn chopper since the department jet is already out on call. Why can’t we get our own private jet like they have in the movies and stuff?”

Hadely snorts, and they all talk amongst themselves as I pull out my phone and make a call that actually sucks.

“Yes, I’m still wearing the boxers. And eating ice cream,” Lana says, sounding bright and fucking giddy.

I hate my timing now. Usually I’m a hell of a lot more excited about a break in a case than this.

“I wish I could be there to see it,” I say on a long breath as I grab my vest and other necessities, shoving them into my bag.

“You have to cancel,” she says simply, her voice devoid of any emotion for me to read.

“I’m sorry.” I have a feeling I’ll get used to saying those two words if she sticks around long enough to hear them time after time. “We got a break in the case today. At least I hope so. I’m on my way out of town right now.”

“Don’t be sorry, Logan. You have a job—an important one. I admire you and what you do. You put monsters away, and I believe you’re actually looking for the right man instead of just another merit on your resume.”