‘TIL WE MEET AGAIN
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave Publishing
Book Length: Novel
Book Type: Ebook
With a serial killer loose in his city, Captain Quinn Logan has his hands full, especially when the next target just happens to be his ex-wife. Young, beautiful and blonde, Dr. Gabrielle Reddick ticks all the killer’s requirements. Gabi has taken great pains to stay away from her ex-husband since she returned to their hometown, but a friend’s death at the hands of a maniac puts Gabi face-to-face with Quinn once more.
Unwittingly setting herself up to be the killer’s next target, Gabi initially resists Quinn’s attempts to protect her, needing more space than he’s willing to give. But Quinn has always been determined, and it doesn’t take her long to realize that resistance really is futile. Old passions flare between them, forcing them to confront the depth of their feelings.
With danger surrounding them, Gabi and Quinn must learn to work together to catch a killer and rekindle their love.
Out of all his years on the force, Quinn admitted to himself that this was the worst crime scene he’d encountered—and he’d encountered more than his fair share. Reaching out a hand, he brushed the hair away from the face, a beautiful face, which came as no surprise. Every victim was identical—young, beautiful, blonde females in their early to mid-twenties, but the killer didn’t have a specific MO, which made others think there might be more than one killer. Quinn thought differently. He didn’t doubt for one second the same killer was responsible for all of the deaths.
Tossing one more glance at the unfortunate girl’s mutilated body, Quinn moved toward the medical examiner. “Can you tell me anything I don’t already know by looking at her?”
Dr. Saunders, an aging man with a paunch and glasses that tipped on the edge of his nose, grimaced. “Yeah, she was tortured.” He rocked back on his heels and shook his head. “But you’ll have my report in the morning.” He paused. “You look like hell. When’s the last time you got some sleep?”
Quinn didn’t bother answering the question. If the truth were told, he hadn’t slept much in the past month since the killings had begun. And he’d bet his last month’s salary not too many single, blonde females were sleeping too well, either. The thought sent a shiver down his spine as one particular blonde came to mind.
Scrubbing the back of his neck with one hand, he rolled his shoulders forward to ease the tension in his muscles. Since the killing spree had begun, the mayor had taken a particular liking to Quinn’s ass, chewing on it daily. But it wasn’t the mayor who had put Quinn back on the streets, working this crime like he had the ones in the years past. This was his choice…his duty to the citizens of this town.
“Captain, there’s something you should see in here.” A uniformed officer interrupted Quinn’s trip down memory lane, and he couldn’t decide whether to be grateful or irritated.
He followed the young officer into the bathroom just inside the victim’s apartment and immediately wished he hadn’t. “Shit.” It was all he could say. It seemed to fit the occasion.
Bloody, torn fingernails and toenails littered the bathroom counter while chunks of the victim’s bloodied hair soaked in the toilet, showcasing a perverted mind. Quinn exhaled on a pungent curse. Spinning on his heel, he bolted from the bathroom, leaning against the wall outside to catch his breath. “This is one sick bastard.”
“And you’re surprised?” Wade, the lead detective until Quinn had taken over, approached, offering a cigarette.
“No, thanks. Still trying to quit. Have you looked inside there?”
“Are you kidding me? Unfortunately, it was the first place I went after seeing the body. I had to go outside for some fresh air. The uniforms are canvassing along with Brick and Waters. I don’t think we’re going to pull in much information, though. Either no one’s seen anything or no one’s talking. Who can blame them? They’re all scared they’ll end up on this bastard’s hit list.”
Taking a deep draw on the cigarette, Wade exhaled, tilting his head back to send a cloud of smoke spiraling toward the ceiling. “Jenny’s scared to death. We were just going to send the girls to their grandmother’s house in Maine, but now I’ve told her I want her to go as well. I want her as far away from this as possible.”
Quinn pushed himself away from the wall and flicked a glance at Wade, his best friend since grade school. “That’s probably a good idea. Any takes on all of this”
Wade’s glance slid toward where the victim still lay. “I’m clueless. He raped this one, which was a different scenario.”
“Maybe he didn’t rape her.”
“Did you see what I saw on that body?”
Quinn pushed away from the wall and scrubbed his hands over his face. “We’ll wait for the coroner’s report, but I don’t think he raped her. I think he wants it to look like he raped her. Once the news gets a hold of this, more women will run for cover, and he knows it. He likes the smell of fear.”
He couldn’t shake the grisly scene from his mind or the images it brought with it. The young girl’s horrified screams as the killer held her, a knife pressed against her throat. Quinn surmised, from the girl’s torn fingernails, she’d put up a good fight. He shook his head and caught onto his partner’s words.
“Yeah, well, unfortunately, we’re all scared out of our wits. This guy has got us by the short and curlies, and he knows it. He’s calling all the shots.”
“Not for long. I’ll find him.” Quinn’s voice rang with self-confidence. He’d make finding this latest piece of scum top priority, and he wouldn’t stop even if it became the last case he closed in his twenty-year career.
“Hey, Cap, look at this.”
Quinn moved away from his friend at the summons, though Wade followed him as they made their way back to the body of the young girl. Following Detective Ryan’s index finger, he inspected the three-inch long gash on the victim’s back.
“What the hell made that?” Wade leaned closer for a better view.
“Looks like he sawed her.” The young detective shuddered.
“This wasn’t a saw. I’ve seen this before…one other time.” Lifting his head, Quinn pinned his friend with a steely gaze. “Remember, we had a homicide about six years back? The guy killed two women, both under the age of twenty. Looks like the same weapon.” He walked back toward the open front door and paused to look over his shoulder.
Wade’s brow furrowed as he tried to recall the case. “Oh yeah, the waitress from the steakhouse was his first victim. And then there was, oh hell, what was her name? Mayor Bertram’s daughter.” He joined Quinn on the small concrete enclosure leading to the back apartment where the victim had lived.
“Yeah, that’s it.” Wade whistled low between his teeth. “Both of them were killed with that ceremonial dagger that had been stolen from the museum in Asheville.”
“At least we know it’s not the same guy. The first killer died in prison two, three years ago, I think.”
“Two.” Quinn had been the first one to receive the call from the warden the day Henry Sparks’ throat had been slit. The only response Quinn had been able to provide was a sigh of relief.
“Think there’s a possibility this new killer knew Sparks?”
“Either that or we have a copycat. Call Buncombe County and see who Sparks bunked with, who his buddies were.”
“Wasn’t the dagger returned to the museum?”
A sick feeling settled in the pit of Quinn’s stomach. “You better check that out too.” His breath fogged in the chilly air. “This bastard wants us to get close to him. He’s getting tired of playing the game without a challenge. So now, he’s upped the stakes.”
* * *
From a safe distance, a man smiled as he viewed the scene unfolding just around the corner. The police scurried around like fucking ants, afraid the queen would destroy them in her displeasure at their inefficiency. He chuckled. They were so good at their jobs and yet couldn’t catch one man.
They would never be able to catch him. He thought like they thought, worked like they worked, and he was too damn good. He lovingly patted the lock of blonde hair and shimmering, gold bracelet, appreciating the blonde’s taste in jewelry. He liked adding nice things to his collection.
* * *
“Here, thought you could use this.” Wade placed a steaming cup of coffee on Quinn’s already cluttered desk and plopped his large frame in the only available chair.
Quinn wrapped a grateful hand around the cup and took a large swallow, wincing as the hot liquid burned its way down his throat. “Thanks. Did you find out anything else?”
“It was just as I suspected. No one knew anything about Sparks. His only roommate died of unknown causes within two weeks of his arrival. From there on in, Sparks had a room to himself. He was a loner. Warden said he didn’t hang round anyone in particular.”
“What about the victim?”
“Marie Younger was an all-around American girl. Loved parties, pizza and guys. Hated prejudice, intolerance and cruelty to animals. She didn’t have an enemy in the world—at least none that she knew about.”
Wade flipped open his notebook to refresh his memory. “She was a student at UNC, a senior, majoring in psychology. She had just broken up with her boyfriend a couple of days ago. He was mattress surfing with some other wave riders, if you get my drift, and Marie found out about it. He checks out clean, though, well, as clean as you can be when you’re an asshole. Marie was originally from Georgia. Her parents are on their way here to claim her body. I’ll talk to them when they arrive, but I doubt they’re going to know much more than what her roommates have already told me.”
He scratched his head and studied his notes before continuing. “I talked to her father on the phone already. He was pretty shaken up, of course, but he was able to assure me that his daughter wasn’t into drugs, illegal activities, and she wasn’t promiscuous. Of course, what do parents know when their kids are away? My college days are one big blur.”
Quinn rocked back in his chair, his fingers steepled. “We both know this wasn’t because of who she was, Wade. She could have screwed the entire football team at University of North Carolina and it wouldn’t have made a difference to this killer. This girl was killed because of what she was—a twenty-two-year-old blonde.”
Wade fished out a cigarette from his pocket, lit it, and inhaled deeply before responding. “Yeah, but once this hits the papers, the town’s going to panic. This girl wasn’t just killed like all the other ones. And with this guy picking off blondes, well, it’s not like we’re a major metropolis here. Pretty soon, he’s going to run out of targets. Then what? Is he going to change his tastes? That’s what’s got this town in an uproar already. The people want to know what the hell’s going on and I can’t say I blame them.”
Quinn spun around, fixing his friend and partner with a glare. “I don’t blame them, either, but if I knew anything, I’d tell them. We haven’t said anything because we don’t know what the hell is going on other than innocent women are getting killed. I think the news has already reported that.”
Wade held up his hands in a pacifying gesture. “Hey, you don’t need to tell me. I’m working on this crap, too, you know.” Pushing himself to his feet, he took two more long drags on his cigarette before dropping the remainder into his now-cold coffee. “Look,” a long stream of smoke accompanied the word, “I’m going to run home, take a shower, see the girls off, and then I’ll be back.”
“You should catch some sleep first. You look like hell.” Quinn noted with a dry smile.
“Yeah, well, you should try looking in a mirror, friend. You’re not going to win any Mr. America contests yourself,” Wade returned before sauntering toward the door.
“I’m the boss. I get paid to look like hell.” Quinn took another swig of the stout coffee.
“Then, you’re certainly earning your pay,” came the caustic reply as Wade slammed the door behind him.