Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 12

Isabel was frowning again. Her head tilted a bit, the frown deepening. Absently, she said, “Yes. Yes, I guess I am. The psychic stuff doesn’t throw him at all, and he was more than okay with the rest.”

“So if you can just deal with these control issues of yours, and always assuming we get this killer before he decides to add you to his blonde collection, maybe the universe really is offering you something special. A man who knows what you’ve been through, what you are, and doesn’t mind all the baggage you have to drag around with you.”


“At least accept the possibility, Isabel.”

Isabel blinked at her. “Sure. Yes. I can always accept possibilities.”

It was Hollis’s turn to frown. “Are you thinking about the long-term complications of him being settled here and you at Quantico?”

“No. I haven’t gotten that far. I mean, I haven’t really looked past now.”

Hollis studied her. “So what’s bothering you?”

“It’s just… I’m tired. Really tired.”

“I’m not surprised. You need a good night’s sleep.”

Still frowning, Isabel said, “I know I do. I can’t remember ever being this tired. So that’s probably why, right?”

“Why what?”

Softly, Isabel said, “Why I don’t hear the voices. At all.”


Sunday, June 15, 10:30 AM

GINNY HUNG UP the phone and frowned at the clock on the wall. Three times. Three times she’d tried to call Tim Helton, hoping his wife might have come home and he just hadn’t thought to report in.

It was after ten-thirty; dairy farmers got up at dawn, she knew that much. Even on Sundays. And Tim Helton wasn’t a churchgoer. Maybe he was out with his cattle. Except he’d given her his cell-phone number and said he always kept it with him. And a body would think he’d be eager to hear whatever the police might have to say about his missing wife. Unless she’d come home.

Or unless he knew she wasn’t going to.

Travis wasn’t at his desk, so Ginny couldn’t ask him, as she usually did, what she should do. This would have to be her call, her decision.

Surprising herself somewhat, Ginny didn’t hesitate. She got to her feet and headed for the closed door of the conference room.

Rafe shut the folder and shoved it toward the center of the conference table. “Okay, so neither the post nor any forensic evidence gathered at the scene has told us much more than we knew yesterday.”

Mallory said, “Well, the doc’s sure she wasn’t bound in any way when she died, and there are absolutely no defensive wounds, so we can reasonably infer she didn’t put up a fight.”

“Yeah,” Rafe said, “but if she was one of Jamie’s partners, submissive might have been her natural state.”

“So she wouldn’t necessarily have fought an attacker,” Isabel agreed. “Still, strangling is up close and personal; if somebody was very obviously trying to kill her, the reflexive survival instinct would have kicked in. At the very least, we should have found some skin cells underneath her fingernails. The fact that we didn’t lends weight to the idea that she didn’t realize what was happening to her until too late.”

Hollis said, “And our killer uses a knife, he doesn’t strangle. So that’s another argument for an accidental death at someone’s hands, probably Jamie’s.”

Mallory added, “Especially since forensics found bits of that old linoleum floor covering embedded in the vic’s knees, which places her in Jamie’s playhouse and in a kneeling, possibly submissive position. Which is, at least, more tangible evidence to confirm what we were pretty sure of but couldn’t have proven in court-that this woman was one of Jamie’s partners.”

“An unlucky one,” Rafe noted. “According to the info we have on the S amp;M scene, strangulation to the point of unconsciousness is fairly common. Supposedly intensifies orgasm.”

“Another thing I don’t want that much,” Mallory murmured.

Rafe nodded a wry agreement, but said, “We’ll probably never know why Jamie went too far, if it was anger or just a… miscalculation. But we need to I.D. this woman. Notify her family.”

Isabel said, “A forensic dentist at Quantico is comparing her chart to those we have from women reported missing in the area; we should know in the next hour or so if there’s a match.”

“But we didn’t have charts for every woman,” Mallory reminded her. “Either they used dentists we haven’t been able to track down, or no dentists. Lots of people are still scared of sitting in that chair.”

“And none of the missing women had ever been fingerprinted,” Rafe added.

“Is getting an I.D. even going to help us?” Hollis wondered. “I mean, it’s closure for her family, which is great, but what’s it going to tell us?”

“Maybe if she was a regular client of Jamie’s,” Isabel said. “We can talk to her relatives and friends, check her bank accounts, hopefully find a diary or journal if we’re very lucky. But, yeah, I know what you mean. It’s not really likely to put us any closer to the serial killer. Or help us identify and protect the woman he’s undoubtedly stalking even as we speak.”

“And we’re running out of time,” Mallory said.

There was a moment of silence, and then a somewhat timid knock at the door preceded Ginny’s entry into the room.

“Chief, excuse me for interrupting-”

“You didn’t,” Rafe told her. “What’s up?”

“I’ve been trying to call Tim Helton, just to check if his wife came home, and I can’t get an answer. He doesn’t go to church and by all accounts almost never leaves the farm. He should be there.”

“If he’s out in his barns-”

“He gave me his cell number, Chief, and he said he always wears it clipped to his belt. I tried the house number, too, but there was no answer. And just the machine at the dairy number. It’s like the place is deserted out there.”

Isabel said, “I don’t much like the sound of that. If this killer is escalating, there’s nothing to say he might not have decided to change his M.O. and kill somebody in or near her own home. Or just come back later and take out the husband as well.”

“What worries me,” Rafe said, “is that Tim Helton is the type to get his gun and go looking himself if he feels the police aren’t doing enough to find his wife. The detective I sent out there to talk to him said he was angry and just this side of insulting about our efforts so far.”

“He has a gun?”

“He has several, including a couple of shotguns and rifles, and his service pistol. He was in the army.”

“That’s all we need,” Isabel murmured. “A scared and pissed-off guy with a gun-and the training to use it.”

“No sign of his wife?” Rafe asked Ginny.

“Not so far. Or any hint from anyone who knew her that she might have gone somewhere on her own. In fact, everybody says the opposite, that she was a homebody and quite happy at the farm.”

“Solid marriage?” Hollis asked.

“By all accounts.”

“No children?”


Isabel drummed her fingers briefly on the table. “I say we go check it out. There isn’t much we can do here for the present, with no new information to go over. And we need to find Tim Helton, make sure he’s all right-and not conducting his own manhunt.”

Rafe nodded and looked at Ginny. “Anything new on any of the other missing women?”

“Not so far. Still nearly a dozen unaccounted for, if we go back a couple of months and take in the thirty miles or so surrounding Hastings, but only a handful even come close to fitting the profile. The reporter, Cheryl Bayne, is still missing; we tried the dogs, and they lost the trail a block or so from the van.”

“Where, specifically?” Rafe asked.

“Near Kate Murphy’s store. She’s the other woman missing from Hastings. We’re drawing blanks everywhere we check in looking for both of them.”

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