Had Lacey liked his present? At first, he hadn’t planned to include the clip of her and Harper, but it’d pissed him off when the man had kissed her.
He’d been jealous.
The woman had struck an unexpected chord in him.
Now what? How did this affect the plan? He mapped out alternatives in his mind, sipping the hot coffee. Lacey had been a loose factor in the master plan. From the beginning, he’d never fully decided on her fate. He frowned. He’d developed a precise, cut-and-dried plan for everyone else. Why not for her?
Subconsciously, had he known she would be special?
Suzanne had been special. A fond smile crossed his face, bringing an answering smile from the attractive woman at the next table. The woman tried to catch his eye, and he looked out the window, ignoring her. He had serious planning to focus on.
He hadn’t watched that old bit of video in years. His throat had welled up as he viewed the film. Suzanne had been so lovely, blossoming as her belly grew with child. Out of all the girls, she’d been the chosen. He remembered running his hands along her swollen stomach, feeling the child kick. It’d hurt him deeply to kill her. He’d almost changed his mind, but he’d had no choice. She would’ve spent her life fighting to escape him. He couldn’t allow that, so she’d followed the fate of the others.
If you’re going to do something, do it right.
He pulled his mind back to the problem at hand. Lacey Campbell. For a second he pictured her in Suzanne’s position on the old bed, her stomach big. His insides tightened and he caught his breath. Could he risk it again?
The woman at the next table purposefully caught his eye this time and smiled again. He looked down into his latte, not wanting to encourage her. Women used to avoid looking at him. He’d been a scrawny geek as a teen. Braces, zits, glasses. If it was nerdy, he’d suffered from it.
But now he took careful preparation with his appearance. His clothes were neatly ironed, his hair styled, and his teeth freshly bleached. There was no reason to look like a slob. Too bad he couldn’t do anything about his height. The football coach had once stopped him in the high school halls. The man had scanned him from head to toe and had shaken his head over his size. “Good thing you’re smart.”
Damn right he was smart.
The football coach never knew who took a bat to the headlights of his precious Firebird during the homecoming game.
Follow-through was very important.
His first human kill had been a disaster, but he’d forced himself to finish the job. He didn’t realize humans would fight so much harder than animals. No species had a deeper will to live than humans. He’d witnessed it several times and never made the mistake of underestimating his target again. He was never overconfident and always in control.
Not like Ted Bundy. Bundy had lost control at the end and that weakness had killed him. He’d gotten cocky, believing he wouldn’t get caught and that jails wouldn’t hold him. He’d escaped custody twice and had planned to try again before his execution in Florida. When he died, Bundy had been fit and tan from sunless tanning lotion and working out in prison. He’d probably planned to escape and blend in with the sun-kissed Floridians. He didn’t succeed.
Tapping his fingers on the table, he wondered about his own end. It was a black hole in his plan. He couldn’t precisely picture the finale, but he wanted people to know he’d masterminded this. He hungered to experience the admiration and astonishment. There had to be a way. But to bask in the limelight he had to go public. How could he go public and not get arrested? He chewed on his lip, staring out at the snow. He could confess and then commit suicide. That would reveal his genius to the world and avoid the hell of prison. He knew a half dozen different ways to kill himself, some needing no instruments.
Prison scared him; death and suicide didn’t. He’d stood face-to-face with death, and it was peaceful. When his victims had glimpsed the magic beyond the physical world, their faces grew serene. What did they see waiting for them?
The concept of his death didn’t disturb him, but the mess death brought along with it did. Disgusting, smelly, unsanitary.
His plan needed more thought.
He glanced at the coffee-cup clock on the wall. He’d wait for five more minutes. No more.
Bored, he looked at the woman, willing her to glance his way again. She did. Her right eyebrow lifted a little, her expression warm and open. She was quite lovely, he decided, studying her details, a little older than he liked but well groomed. That was important. He frowned at her brown hair, wishing it golden. Flirting, she tossed her hair, flicking dark strands over a shoulder with her hand. He focused on the hand. A wedding ring.
Disgusted, he looked away. Cheating wives sickened him. Deciding he’d waited long enough, he rose from the table, ignoring the questioning look from his admirer. He headed for the door, dropped his full coffee cup in the garbage and pulled his coat tight against the expected wind. He politely held the door open for the man coming in and watched him stomp the snow off his boots. He grinned at his good luck.
Just the victim he’d been waiting for. It was going to be this man’s unlucky day.
Detective Mason Callahan stopped the DVD and briefly hit rewind. He ran his fingers in a rhythmic beat on the table as he deliberately watched the bit with the kiss again. He looked at the two people sitting at the table with him and raised a curious brow. The tension in the station interrogation room ratcheted up ten notches. Dr. Campbell turned pink and looked away, but Harper stared right at him, his eyes cool.