The Risk (Page 6)

A scream pierces the night, but it’s not mine. I refuse to let them hear me scream.

“You scream pretty,” I hear Kyle saying, laughing from somewhere behind us, but I can’t see him or what he’s doing.

And I don’t want to see.

I don’t even want to see what they’re doing to me.

The memories used to leave me curled in a ball and crying for hours. Now they fuel me. Feed my mission. Drive me forward.

Make me a little murderous.

Shaking my head, I move through the house quicker, hiding the last camera in the stuffed bear on Tyler’s bed. Apparently his wife likes stuffed animals. Or at least I hope it’s his wife who likes stuffed animals. I’d hate to know I’ve trembled in fear over a guy who carries around a stuffed bear.

As I enter the last bedroom, I notice it’s soundproofed with large amounts of studio padding meant for musicians. This will be the perfect room, since he doesn’t have a basement. No windows are in here.

No cameras will be added in this room.

There are a few guitars lined up, all of them nice and shiny.

His whole life is nice and shiny. Just like all of them.

I can’t wait to paint it red.

Chapter 5

The only real valuable thing is intuition.

—Albert Einstein


“Who’s the girl?” Elise asks, clearing her throat as she sits down on the edge of my desk.

I’m grinning when I put my phone down, but I mask my expression.

“No clue what you’re talking about,” I lie, controlling all my micro-expressions.

“You can lie all you want to, but you give yourself away when you look at your phone. There are two reasons a guy smiles at his phone like that. Porn or a girl.”

Chuckling, I look away, studying some new evidence on the “Boogeyman” case. I hate it when the media gives the unsubs a name. It only feeds into their delusions and gives them the attention they crave. Fortunately they haven’t gotten wind of our mutilated, tortured victims’ case yet. I’d hate to know the name they’d conjure up for that one.

“We’re sending a team to Boston to follow up the new leads for the kills there. We’ve isolated the comfort zone and have narrowed down the suspect pool. You good with going? I’m staying current on the mutilate and kill case,” I say instead of responding to her other comment.

She blows out a long breath. “Sure. I’ll go to Boston. Stop staring at all those pictures though. They’re going to give you nightmares,” she says, motioning to the shots scattered across my desk. I always have board copies made for my desk. Seeing things from various angles helps you catch what you might otherwise overlook.

“I need to find the true motive behind these kills.” I motion to the latest dead and castrated victim.

“Sometimes there is no motive. We profiled the unsub to be sexually frustrated, most likely because he’s gay and can’t accept that. As a result, he’s on his way to becoming a sexual sadist once he does accept it. More than likely he was mocked, taunted, or rejected by these men. The local PD are being slow with getting back to us. I don’t think they’re taking this guy as seriously as they should. I talked to several townies, but they acted like no one there would ever be gay. As though it’s blasphemy to even consider. I wanted to flash pictures of my brother and his husband to them just for shock value at one point.”

My lips twitch.

“The smaller the town, the more resistant to outsiders they are. They don’t like us meddling in their town, and they sure as hell won’t want us there uncovering any dirt that might tarnish their reputation. But eventually we’ll have to set up there. The unsub will return for his endgame,” I say on a heavy breath.

She nods as she stands, and she grabs her keys off my desk before staring down at me as I stay seated.

“Just a friendly reminder…we’re all workaholics. It’s how we made this team. There’re always three or more cases going on at once, despite the lovely way TV depicts us as having just one case at a time and free time in between. Dating… Well, it’s not so easy. There’s a reason we’re all single, divorced, or both. Unless you’re sneaking around with someone who works here, you never get to see the person waiting at home for you.”

She turns and walks away, casting a look over her shoulder. I shrug it off. We do have some free time. It’s not much, but it’s enough. I hope. I’d hate to know my life was only spent chasing the psychotic until I die alone.

ME: We really need to see each other again. Texting sucks.

LANA: I agree. My fingers are getting cramps.

ME: Anything going on in two days? I have no breakfast plans.

LANA: Two days from now I’ll be in West Virginia. What about tomorrow?

ME: Can’t. I have to fly up to Boston for a quick briefing. I’ll be back tomorrow night, but I have too much work to finish up with. It’ll be well after midnight before I leave. IF I leave.

LANA: So, texting is fun, huh?

I laugh and groan, relaxing in my seat as Craig walks into my office.

“So the County Sherriff from that one-horse town finally called back. Just got off the phone with him. He actually lives there, and apparently thinks he runs all the police departments in the county. Anyway, he said there’re ‘no gays’ living in his towns. ‘Those are for city folk who forgot how to be men and women.’” Craig rolls his eyes, and I curse.

“Repression is a breeding ground for serial killers. Him denying anyone could be something other than who he wants them to be isn’t going to help us find this unsub before he strikes again.”

“I said almost the exact same thing. But he didn’t budge from his stance. He thinks it’s a coincidence those ‘poor boys’ got killed. He blames it on moving away from home, because the rest of the world is full of evil. Pretty sure he’s working with a cult mentality, and I wouldn’t be surprised if all the small towns he’s sheriff over drink that water.”

“We’re going to have to profile the whole town if someone doesn’t talk,” I grumble.

“You think the unsub is still a resident there?” he asks as he takes a seat in front of my desk.

“I think it’s unlikely but possible. We don’t have enough information to use for a more specific profile.”

He steeples his hands in front of his mouth, his eyes vacantly staring at the top of my desk.

“The media will spin all sorts of theories if they get ahold of this story before we’re ready to deliver a concrete profile,” he says absently.

“Well aware. At least we know the sheriff isn’t going to be spreading the story before we’re ready.”

He nods, still staring at nothing in particular.

“I don’t get how you do it,” he says, moving his eyes away from one of the photographs. “How do you get inside someone’s head that is this sick and sadistic?”

“How do you handle a thousand and one questions from the media?” I ask with a shrug. “We all have our strengths. I don’t get inside their heads. I crawl into their psyche. It’s the only way to understand their delusional mentality, because you can’t think like a rational person would. A convoluted mind is one that forms its own reality. That’s why I need to know more about these kills. He’s not leaving behind enough clues to piece together the puzzle.”

Chapter 6

I admit that thoughts influence the body.

—Albert Einstein


My life has started revolving around the chime of a phone. Well, for the past five months, it’s been like that, but a different phone. Usually it’s the cloned phone that has me leaping and rushing around to grab it. Not my actual phone. Not until Agent Logan Bennett a couple of weeks ago.

LOGAN: Craig just asked if you were gay.

ME: Who’s Craig?

LOGAN: You have no idea how much I enjoy that answer. In fact, I just drew a few curious looks about why I’m laughing.

I have no clue why he finds that so funny.

ME: Seriously, who’s Craig?

LOGAN: I really want to see you again.

ME: Well, let’s just both quit our jobs so we can finally have a date.

LOGAN: With the dead ends I’m finding on all my cases, I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t time for a career change.

ME: If it makes you feel any better, I contemplated a career change too. Met a guy yesterday who was trading all his wife’s dildos for a pressure washer. -.- The wife was furious when I showed up to inspect the quality of her “toys.”

At least that’s true. I hate the times I have to lie to him.

LOGAN: I just spat coffee all over my desk.

ME: How coincidental. She was apparently a spitter too. The husband informed me of that as if I wanted to know. #overshare

LOGAN: Stop. Please stop. Everyone here thinks I’m insane for laughing this hard.

ME: It wasn’t the most awkward encounter I’ve had, but it certainly won’t make any of my highlight reels either.

LOGAN: So the dildos didn’t get traded for the pressure washer?

ME: Nope. And I learned that she’ll need them more than ever, since he won’t be touching her for a while, according to her. He wasn’t happy when I left. Apparently it was my fault for showing up an hour early, because she would have been gone otherwise.