Deadly Fear Page 5

His index finger eased under the elastic. Sweet f**k. The woman could burn him alive with just a touch.

Her breath caught, went ragged. His hand climbed higher, pushed against creamy flesh, got ready to—

A hard knock rattled the door.


Monica wrenched her mouth from his. His gaze fell to her red lips, glistening from his mouth.

He wanted to kiss her again.

But more annoying as hell rapping came again. Not from his front door.

Monica had left that thin-ass adjoining door open, and the knocking was coming from her room.

“Agent Davenport?” A loud voice demanded right before another hard knock. “It’s Vance Monroe. I got them papers you wanted…”

Her eyes held his. As he watched, the fire faded, cooled.


She shoved against his chest, hard, and Luke rocked back.

“Get dressed,” Monica said, then she rubbed the back of her hand over her mouth.

Luke stiffened. No, she didn’t just—

“The case… the deputy has something we need to see.”

She swung away from him.

Luke grabbed her arm and swung her right back around to face him.

“What are you—”

He kissed her. Hard. Fast. When his head lifted, he glared at her. “Don’t wipe me away again, baby.”

Their eyes held.

So blue.

“Get dressed,” she repeated, gritting the words. “And let go of my arm before I have to hurt you.”

He dropped his hand.

The deputy pounded again and called for Monica.

She crossed the threshold, entering her room, and he couldn’t help but say, “Baby, you weren’t stopping me.” No, he had the claw marks to prove she’d been enjoying the hell out of him.

And she’d kissed him. Luke didn’t point that out. Yet.

She didn’t even slow down at his words, but he was pretty sure he heard her mutter “a**hole” beneath her breath.

He smiled and snagged his shirt off the side of the bed. Yanking it on, he slid into his shoes and slipped into her room just as the front door swung open to admit the deputy.

The guy was waving two pieces of paper, his hands shaking. “F-found it in Sally’s garbage. Just like you said—”

Luke’s brows shot up. Monica—and the deputy—had been busy.

“Davis has the original, but he said to bring you copies.”

Monica took the material from him, a faint line forming between her brows. Then she looked back up at Luke. “We need to call Hyde.”

Luke crossed to her side and took the papers from her.

The first was a grainy photo, as if from a newspaper. A picture of a smashed car, one turned into a pile of twisted metal. The headline above it read, “Local Fireman Victim of Drunk Driver, Wife Survives Crash.”

The next page made a curse rise to his lips. I know what scares you.

“Looks like the same writing.” She bit her lower lip, staring at the paper. “Same off-slanted looping on the ‘I’, same too-right angling on the ‘w’, same half-cut on the ‘y’ line.”

That near photographic memory of hers was so handy.

“Messy scrawl,” she muttered. “Like it’s fast, hurried, but this guy isn’t a disorganized killer. The writing is this way because he wants it to be.” Her eyes lifted and met his stare. “We’ll send the notes to SSD for a full handwriting analysis, but my gut says it’s the same.”

That hard fist in his stomach said the same thing. “We need to examine the papers.” Check for fingerprints, fibers, hell, even check to see if they could figure out where the paper had come from. In this business, he’d learned to never overlook any avenue.

“We’ll overnight them to Kenton. He can start the checks.” Her shoulders seemed to fall, just a bit. “This could go to hell, very fast.”

He knew what she meant. It looked like Davis had been right to call them in on the cases. Because if a serial were hunting in this sleepy southern town—and it seemed there was no denying that possibility now—more blood would flow.

The squeak of a door woke Monica hours later. She reached for her gun before her eyes even opened. Old habit.

The air conditioner had kicked off at some point and a light coating of sweat covered her body. Her tank top stuck to her as she climbed from the bed, her fingers tight around the butt of the gun.

Shadows. Silence.

She’d left the bathroom light on, another habit she’d yet to break, and the faint glow spilled onto the worn carpet.

No one’s here. But her heart kicked like a racehorse.

A car door slammed. Close. Out front.

An engine purred to life. Headlights flashed on, shining through her lone curtain as—


Monica ran for the door. She yanked it open and raced outside—

Just in time to see the fading taillights.

What in the hell?


She whirled at the voice, her gun still ready, and found Luke slipping from his room. He froze, his arms poised in front of him. “Easy with the gun.”

Her breath rushed out.

His gaze raked down as his eyebrows climbed up. “Nice outfit, Davenport.”

Screw him. Shorts and a tank top were not femme fatale material, but—ah, hell, Luke could probably see her ni**les through the thin top.

She lowered her weapon grudgingly. “Some jerkoff was out here, revving his engine and flashing his lights.”

“Uh, huh.” His hands fell to his sides. “And you thought that warranted, what, a bullet in the head?”

Ass. Monica shook her head and turned away. “Go back to bed.”

“Come with me.”


She swallowed. “My mistake earlier.” She’d be woman enough to admit that. Dante—he was her weakness. One she’d have to guard against. “Won’t be happening again.” The case—it came first. The victims.

The killer.

“Get your beauty sleep, Dante.” You’ll need it working with this unit. “Six a.m. will be coming fast.” She wanted to see the Moffett crime scene before she checked in with the Sheriff again and made another call to Hyde.

She pushed open her door and heard his whisper.

“Maybe it won’t happen again, baby, but maybe it will.…”


Monica hesitated, then said, “I can’t give you what you want.” Brutally honest. He deserved that. He’d deserved the truth before, but she’d been a coward. She’d wanted him, she’d taken him, and she’d wanted more.

But she wasn’t the kind of woman who got the picket fence. A happily ever after wasn’t in her future. No kids. No husband. She’d learned that long ago.

“You don’t know what I want,” he growled.

Goose bumps rose on her arms. His voice—that deep rumble. Her ni**les tightened.

Sex. Sex was all she had to give him, and even then, she had to be so careful because Dante was a lover who took too much.

“Come with me,” he said again. “Let me see if we were as good as I remember… or if I just made you a freaking fantasy in my head.”

A fantasy. That’s all she’d ever really been to him. He didn’t know what waited under her skin. If he did…

Monica shook her head. “Get some sleep. We’ve got a crime scene to check tomorrow.”

She entered her room. Shut the door.

Her knees started to shake.

Damn him. Couldn’t the man just leave the past alone?

The killer carried his precious burden through the woods, the load banging against his back as he walked.

He hadn’t planned to hunt that night, but then… he hadn’t realized just who’d be coming to town so soon.

The FBI. Hell, when he’d seen those two agents, he’d almost laughed. The woman—yeah, he knew her. He’d seen her picture plenty enough in the paper.

The FBI knew about his kills. Shit, he’d been so excited by that, he’d had to go in close and see the agents’ motel. Watch Monica’s room.

Then he’d had to hunt. Had to prove to her that he was the one in charge of this game.

His prey had been so easy to find. Too f**king easy. He’d planned to take her next week, so really, moving up the hunt hadn’t been hard.

He carried the bag easily, barely feeling the weight. She wasn’t crying anymore. No more whimpers, no more shuddering.

Fucking finally. The drugs were working. About damn time. The bitch had been getting on his nerves.

Sucking in a sharp breath, he stopped. This was it. He slung her body onto the ground.


Her eyes didn’t open. Would’ve thought she was dead. But she wasn’t. Hell, where would the fun be in such a quick death?

The hole waited for him. Deep and wide—perfect. He’d dug it with care, knowing this moment would come.

A smile lifted his lips. He wished he could see her face when—

No, no, he couldn’t do that. Not with this one.

The last girl—oh, yeah, he’d watched her. Seen the fear choke her. The terror bulge her eyes.


This time, he’d have to imagine the fear. For now, anyway.

The box was in position. He’d built it himself. Couldn’t damn well buy one of the things—that would just be stupid.

He stared down at the bitch. Red hair tangled over her face and hung on her busted lip.

She’d tried to run from him. The whore hadn’t realized that running wasn’t an option.

His c*ck swelled as he stared at her. So weak. He could do anything he wanted to her. No one could stop him.

No one.

He bent and trailed his fingers over her breast. A little small for him. He liked bigger tits.

The bitch moaned, and her eyes cracked open.

Would she remember him? Didn’t matter. She wouldn’t live to tell anyone about him.

So he smiled and, crouching more, he eased his arms under her back. Then he lifted her, just a few inches, and tossed her into the hole.

Her body slammed into the box.


When the drugs wore off and she woke fully, she wouldn’t even be able to turn over. He flattened his body over the earth and managed to slam the lid of the wooden box. His tongue snaked out, and he licked lips gone dry with excitement.

Too f**king easy.

The shovel waited for him, just a few feet away.

I want to see her face. Nothing like fear. No—damn—thing.

Guess he’d just have to catch a glimpse of her when the cops hauled her body out. If they found her.

He pushed up to his feet and went to get his shovel.

The house was really perfect for murder.

Situated near the edge of the woods, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Accessible only by a long, twisted old road.

No neighbors close by. No one to hear the screams. No one to see the kill.

Monica had a feeling there’d been a lot of screams coming from the broken little house at the end of Pine Bend.

The windows were boarded up. Vines snaked across the house. Yellow police tape criss-crossed the sagging front porch.

“Big coincidence that the cops raided this place right after the bastard’s kill,” Luke said as he climbed from their rented SUV.

Yeah, big coincidence. Only Monica didn’t really believe in coincidences. Never had. “The department got a tip about this place. It wasn’t just a chance raid.” That info had been in the notes Hyde gave her. She circled around the vehicle, her gun in its holster. Her gaze scanned the woods.

Secluded. No eyes to see.

A curse from Dante. “You thinking the killer called the cops?”

Her stare dropped to the ground. Studied the red dirt at the end of the worn road. Tire tracks. “I’m thinking what good is a kill if no one can appreciate it?”


Monica’s eyes narrowed as she said, “The way Patty was found, she was still… fresh. Bigger shock value. If she’d stayed here, decayed, police wouldn’t have known what happened to her without one thorough autopsy—” She broke off and glanced behind her.


The wind blew her hair, whispered in her ears. She motioned toward the house. “Let’s do a sweep.” Shouldn’t be much to see, but then again, she hadn’t really figured on finding that note before.

“I’ll go around back,” he said, “You take the front.”

Fine by her. So what if his voice was clipped, and he’d barely glanced her way all morning? They had a job to do. No time for screwing around.

No matter how good the screw.

Monica gave a nod and drew her gun. It never paid to be too careful.

Luke disappeared around the side of the house. She climbed the porch steps. They creaked and sagged beneath her feet.

Her cell phone vibrated, shaking against her hip. Shit, the freaking thing had made her jump. So much for Ms. Tough FBI agent. Sucking in a breath, she lifted it up to her ear. “Special Agent Davenport—”

“Another girl’s gone missing.”

She knew that slow drawling voice. Sheriff Davis.

“What?” Her fingers clenched around the phone. No, not this soon. Sweat slicked her palms.

“She didn’t come back home this morning… not answering her cell…” His voice faded in and out. “Her boss said she left after her shift… Need you and your partner at the station…”

Monica’s heart raced too fast.

“Her parents are here, got to tell ’em something—”

“We’ll be there, Sheriff, but I want to check—”

A crackle of static. Loud enough to have her wincing. She should be grateful to even get a connection out here, but—

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