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Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 7

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“Unless Jamie had lost her most recent lover and hadn’t yet found another. In that case, she might have needed to look at those pictures.”

Isabel smiled. “You’d make a fair profiler, know that?”

Rafe was more than a little startled. “I was just guessing, that’s all.”

“What do you think profilers do? We make guesses. Mostly educated guesses, and for some of us occasionally psychic ones, but at the end of the day they’re still guesses. Speculation based on experience, knowledge of criminals and how their minds work, that sort of thing. A good profiler probably gets sixty to seventy-five percent right if he or she is especially tuned in to a particular subject. A good psychic with solid control gets, maybe, forty to sixty percent in hits.”

“Is that your percentage?”

She shrugged. “More or less.”

He decided not to try to pin her down on that; he had a feeling it was one he wouldn’t win. He hadn’t known Isabel Adams an hour before reaching the conclusion that she was extremely unlikely to let slip by accident anything she didn’t want him to know.

Isabel said, “We have to find the box or that room. Both, preferably. I need to know how Jamie felt about her secret life, really felt about it. And I’m getting nothing about that here.”

“So you’re getting no sense of a secret hiding place my people missed?”

“No sense of anything secret. I mean at all; this lady obviously knew how to compartmentalize her life. This was her public self, what the world was allowed to see. All bright and shiny and picture-perfect. We know her public self. We need to know her private self.”

Rafe frowned as he followed her from the room. “Do you believe Jamie was targeted because of her sexual preferences? Because she was a dominatrix?”

“I don’t know. It’s about relationships, I’m sure of that. Somehow, it’s about relationships. I’m having a hard time seeing Jamie’s sexuality, or even the S amp;M games, as the trigger, that’s all. Given his history. But it’s the only thing hidden in Jamie’s day-to-day life, and that means we have to be sure how much it means.”

“Makes sense.”

“So we need to find that room. And we need to find it quickly. It’s been four days since he killed Tricia Kane; even if he waits a full week between murders, we only have three days to find him and stop him before another woman dies.”

And before Isabel moved up on the hit list, Rafe thought but didn’t say.

“You think he’s stalking her now?” he asked instead.

“He’s watching her. Thinking about what he’s going to do to her. Imagining how it’s going to feel. Anticipating.” She was surprised that after all these years and so many similar investigations, it could still make her skin crawl.

But it wasn’t just the fact of this killer, she knew that. It wasn’t even what he had done to his victims. It was him. What she felt in him. Something twisted and evil crouching in the shadows, waiting to spring forward.

She could almost smell the brimstone.

Almost.

“Isabel-”

“Not now, Rafe.” For the first time, there was a hint of vulnerability in her slightly twisted smile. “I’m not ready to talk about that evil face I saw. Not to you. Not yet.”

“Just tell me this much. Does it have something to do with you becoming psychic?”

“It had everything to do with it.” Her smile twisted even more. “The universe has an ironic sense of humor, I’ve noticed. Or maybe just an innate sense of justice. Because sometimes evil creates the tool that will help destroy it.”

Cheryl had planned to drive back to Columbia for the night, especially after Dana’s warning, but something was bugging her. It had been bugging her all day, ever since she’d noticed it early this morning.

She had her cameraman wait for her in the van and went to check it out, telling herself she’d be safe; it wasn’t even dark yet, for God’s sake. Of course, telling herself was one thing, and feeling it something else entirely.

Every time the breeze stirred it felt like somebody touching her with a ghostly hand, and she caught herself looking back over her shoulder more than once.

Nothing there, naturally. No one there.

The whole thing was just her imagination, probably. Because it didn’t make sense, not if she’d seen what she thought she had. Not if it meant-

A hand touched her shoulder, and Cheryl whirled around with a gasp. “Oh, Jesus. Scare a person, why don’t you?”

“Did I? Sorry about that.”

“You of all people should know-”

“I do. Like I said, sorry. What’re you doing out here?”

“Just following up a hunch. I’m sure the rest of you saw it, but it’s been bugging me, so… here I am.”

“You really shouldn’t be out by yourself.”

“I know, I know. But I’m not a blonde. And I hate it when something bugs me. So it seemed like a risk worth taking.”

“Just for a story?”

“Well,” Cheryl said self-consciously, “that’s part of it, sure. The story. And maybe to stop him. I mean, it would be so cool if I could help stop him.”

“Do you really believe your hunch could do that?”

“You never know. I could get lucky.”

“Or unlucky.”

“What’re you-”

“Not a blonde. But nosy just like they are. And you’ll tell. I really can’t let that happen.”

Cheryl saw the knife, but by the time understanding clicked into place in her head, it was too late to scream.

Too late to do anything at all.

Friday, 11:30 PM

Just occasionally, whenever her day had been particularly stressful, Mallory was so wild in bed that it took everything Alan had just to keep up with her.

Friday night was like that.

She held him with her arms, her legs, her body, as though he might escape her. The pillows were shoved off the bed, and the sheets tangled around them, and still they wrestled and rolled and held on to each other. They finished, finally, with Mallory on top, riding him fiercely, one hand on his chest and the other braced behind her on his leg, grinding her loins to his in a hard, hungry, rhythmic dance.

He held her hips, surging up to meet her, his gaze fixed on the magnificence of her face taut in primitive need, her eyes darkened, her lithe, toned body glowing with life and exertion.

When she finally came with a cry, shuddering, he spent in almost the same instant, feeling her inner muscles spasming, milking him dry.

Usually, at that point Mallory rolled off him to lie at his side, however briefly, but this time he held on and shifted their bodies himself so that they lay on their sides, facing each other. He kept his arms around her.

“Good,” she murmured, relaxed at least for the moment. “That was… good.”

Drained himself, Alan nevertheless consciously tried to control the moment, his hand stroking her back in a soothing motion, enjoying the sensation of her warm breath against his neck. “More than good.” He knew better than to comment on her passion, knowing from experience that it would only cause her to draw away, to start making excuses for leaving.

He had never figured out if it was the intimacy of the act that bothered Mallory when she allowed herself to think about it, or was reminded of it, or if it was her own lack of control that disturbed her. Either way, he was careful not to push that particular button.

He had learned.

“Long day,” he murmured finally, intentionally keeping his voice as easy and soothing as his hands.

“Very long.” She sounded a little sleepy. She moved just a bit against him, but closer, and sighed. “And a longer one tomorrow. God, I’m tired.”

He didn’t say anything, but continued to stroke her back gently even after he knew she had fallen asleep. He held her close and caressed her warm, silky skin, and felt her heart beat against his. And it was enough. For now.

A storm woke him before dawn, and Mallory was gone.

She hadn’t even left a note on the fucking pillow.

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