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Книга Sense Of Evil. Содержание - 11

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“That’s sickening,” Rafe said.

“Definitely. He’s very twisted, our boy.”

“So his reasons for picking Jamie as his first victim in Hastings were probably twisted as well.”

“Well, it may have been about Jamie being a dominatrix rather than a lesbian. Her wielding so much power over other women, power he wanted and didn’t have. Maybe sheer jealousy was the trigger. Or envy. Maybe he couldn’t stand the fact that she could control the women in her life.”

“And he couldn’t control the women in his.”

“Maybe. Or it could have been the fact that her partners came to Jamie, willingly put themselves into her hands, submitted to her. And no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get that response from women. Ironic, really. He always goes for the smart, successful ones, the ones least likely to allow themselves to be dominated in a relationship, and yet to dominate women is what he desperately wants.”

“So for him it really is the unattainable.”

“Unless his taste in women changes, yeah.” Isabel’s voice was wry. “He’ll never get what he wants-except by killing them. It’s only when they’re dying and then lifeless that he’s the one in control, stronger than them.

“In killing Jamie, he could have achieved a particular sort of satisfaction, because she was a dominatrix. For the first time, he was able to dominate a woman whose specialty was dominating others. Even if he had to kill her to do it.”

“She possessed traits he wants to destroy?”

“That’s usually the case with a sexual sadist.”

“But not this time? Not our guy?”

Isabel frowned. “Targeting the breasts and genitals is a classic sign of a sexual obsession. But this guy, our guy, the sense I get is that he seems to be… punishing them for being women. So maybe he is trying to destroy the feminine traits in his nature. Or maybe he’s furious with them because they’re too female for him, literally too much woman for him to handle.”

“And that isn’t a sexually driven motivation?”

“Not really. More a question of identity. His.”

“This is fascinating,” Rafe said.

Isabel stared at him for a moment, then sat back in her chair with a sigh. “See, this is why my social life sucks. I always end up talking about killers.”

“My fault. I did ask.”

“Yeah, but the subject sprang to mind. Doesn’t say much about my sex appeal.”

Rafe eyed her. “It says we’re in the middle of a murder investigation. And so.”

“That’s a handy excuse. Can’t you tell when a woman is fishing?”

“You’re not serious? Isabel, you have to know you’re gorgeous.”

“My mirror tells me all the pieces fit together nicely, but that doesn’t mean I’m your type. Lots of men prefer petite redheads, or very slender brunettes. Or-women who don’t carry guns and know a dozen different ways to really hurt a guy if he pisses her off.”

He had to laugh. “I admit that last bit is enough to give any man pause, but you don’t see me taking to my heels, do you?”

“No, but since we sort of have to work together-”

“We don’t have to go out to dinner together. Isabel, I’m here because I want to be, period. Just for the record, I don’t prefer petite redheads or slender brunettes. And I never figured you for the insecure type.”

“And here I was thinking I was coming on too strong.”

Their attentive waiter appeared to clear the plates and take their order for coffee and dessert, and Rafe waited until he’d gone again to respond to her somewhat mocking comment.

“So what happened today?”

Isabel blinked. “You know what happened today.”

“What don’t I know? What’s got you so rattled that you’re pushing yourself to… make a different kind of connection with me when you’re not sure it’s what you want?”

“Who says it’s not what I want?”

“I do. Hell, you do. Look at your body language, Isabel. As soon as you decided to end the shop talk and get into more personal territory, you leaned back. Away from me. That’s not as good as a sign, that is a sign. Your words say you’re interested, but your body says stay away.”

“Dammit,” she muttered. “What was that I said earlier about you making a fair profiler? I’m changing my assessment. You’d make a very good one.”

“So I’m on target?”

“Well, let’s just say you’re not far off it. I am just not very good at this sort of thing.”

Rafe had to smile at her disgruntled tone. “You’re a very confident woman, Isabel-almost always. Very sure of yourself. But right now, at this moment, you’re scared. Why?”

She was silent, frowning down at the table.

“Something happened. What was it?”

“Look, this investigation is… different, that’s all. Odd things are happening. My abilities seem to be changing. And I don’t quite know what do to about it.”

“Have you reported this to Bishop?”

“No. Not yet.”

“Why not?”

“Because… I don’t know why not. Because I want to figure it out for myself.”

“And making a move on me seemed like a good way to do that?”

“Stop rubbing it in.”

“What?”

“My failure.”

Dryly, he said, “Who says you failed? Isabel, I realized I wanted you sometime yesterday. Early yesterday. Or possibly about ten minutes after we met. I also realized it was going to hellishly complicate the entire situation, so I’ve been doing my best not to think about it.”

“Maybe thinking about it would be good,” she said earnestly. “And doing something about it even better.”

“You’re still leaning back in your chair,” he pointed out.

“I can lean forward.” But she didn’t. She frowned again, honestly baffled.

“See?” Rafe said. “Conflicting signals. Even consciously, you’re not sure what you want.”

With a sigh, she said, “Trust me to find myself attracted to the one man who isn’t willing to take what he’s offered, no questions asked. Keep this up, and I’ll have to start believing in leprechauns. And unicorns.”

“Sorry about that. But I’m not a kid, Isabel. I’m a twenty-year veteran of the sexual wars, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. One being if you’re going to get involved with a complicated woman, you’d better damned well know what the complications are. Ahead of time. Before you trip over them.”

“That does sound like bitter experience.”

“It was. Not bitter, really, but I learned a hard lesson. And it’s more or less my own fault. You said the sort of energy that makes you psychic is something you have in common with our killer; well, I have something in common with him too. I like strong women. With strong, I’ve discovered, comes complicated, which can cause problems. Unless I know about the complications going in.”

“Okay. Well, I hear voices. There’s that.”

“Uh-huh. And?”

“I need coffee in the morning before I’m human. And cornflakes. I like cornflakes. I take really hot showers, always, so I tend to steam up the room. I hate silence in strange places, so I travel with a sound machine. Ocean waves. I have to have air-conditioning on full blast even in the dead of winter to sleep well. Oh-and I hate moonlight shining in the bedroom.”

“Isabel.”

“Not those sorts of complications, huh?”

“No.”

“Dammit.”

“If I were a profiler,” he said slowly, “making an educated guess, I’d say that your breezy manner and humorous attitude cover up a lot of pain. And I’m not talking about the headaches your voices give you. That evil face you saw-it really did change your life, didn’t it?”

Their waiter placed coffee and dessert on the table and went silently away again, and still Isabel said nothing. She picked up a spoon and poked at her dessert, then put it down again.

“Still not ready to tell me?” He fixed his coffee the way he liked it, his gaze remaining on her face, trying to make his own posture and expression as relaxed and unthreatening as possible.

She sipped her coffee, then grimaced and dumped cream and sugar in before trying a second sip.

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