“What in the hell are you thinking by following me?”
“I just want to talk. I’ve been thinking about you since we ran into each other last night.”
“You called me a sneaky bitch and told me to shut the fuck up. You really think some sleazy charm will make me forget that? Or help me forget all the nasty things you said about me in court? Are you stupid, Frank? Go back to your wife!”
Lacey’s heart was pounding its way out of her chest and she bit her lips closed, feeling the wall against her back. She was cornered.
Don’t piss him off.
He grabbed her upper arms and shook her, his angry face close to hers. “You’re a royal, stuck-up bitch, Lacey. You think you’re too good for me?” She felt his hot breath whip across her cheek.
Her eyes went wide. It’d been forever since he’d laid hands on her. A flashback of his fist to her mouth scalded her brain, and she twisted her face away, thrusting up her knee toward his crotch. He swung his hips out of the way, laughing at her.
A loud crack echoed through the skybridge and Frank’s eyes rolled up and back, showing more of the whites of his eyes than she ever needed to see. He let go of her arms and collapsed onto the concrete floor. Directly behind him stood a janitor, Sean Holmes, with his feet spread wide and holding his mop handle like a baseball bat. He’d unscrewed the thick handle and nailed Frank in the temple.
“Sean…” Lacey couldn’t speak as she stared at the young janitor. She started to step forward but felt her knees dissolve, so she pressed her back into the wall. It seemed a good place to lean. Otherwise, she was going to fall on her ass in three seconds. She dropped her gaze. Frank lay motionless at her feet. Silent in his baggy coveralls, Sean stared at her for a few seconds, then at the body on the floor. His lank hair fell forward into his eyes, blocking her view of his face.
“Call security, Sean.” She gestured to the white phone on the wall and dug in her purse for her pepper spray, twisting the top to release the safety. Some good it did her buried in her purse. Why hadn’t she dug it out the second she found that ring? She clung to it with both hands, pointing it at the body in front of her, trying to slow her breathing. Her legs shook and she fought for balance.
She must have caught Sean’s attention as he was cleaning one of the rooms when she’d dashed down the hall. He’d probably followed her, wondering what on earth was wrong.
“He was hurting you.” Sean’s words were measured and quiet. He raised his gaze to hers, not moving toward the phone. His brown eyes reminded her of a sad springer spaniel.
“Yes, he was.” She took a breath. “You did the right thing, Sean. Thank you for that.” Her legs still wouldn’t move, so she told him again. “Call security now, Sean.” Sean had some sort of mental handicap that made him speak and think slowly. The poor man was frequently the butt of student jokes and generally ignored or dismissed by the staff. Her firm command finally registered, and Sean moved to the phone, casting back apprehensive glances at Frank.
A few months back, Lacey had noticed Sean was droopy, not his usually cheery self. When she’d spoken to him, he could barely move his jaw. She’d dragged him to an empty dental chair, slipped on a pair of gloves, and ignored his terrified eyes. Doing an impromptu exam, she’d found a blown-out crater of a molar. He’d had to be in incredible pain. Unable to save the hopeless tooth, she’d numbed him up and extracted it on the spot.
He’d been devoted to her ever since. She suspected he had a childlike crush on her. It was sweet. It’d probably saved her from a black eye tonight. Or worse.
Lacey closed her eyes and took deep breaths. Had Frank put the ring in her pocket?
Near midnight, Detective Lusco sat scribbling frantically at his department desk, the phone tucked to his ear. Mason watched as Ray flipped over a page on his notepad and continued to write. The only conversation on Ray’s end was “Uh-huh. Yeah. Where?” The person on the opposite end had plenty to say.
Unable to sit still, Mason pushed out of his chair and paced the quiet room. No one else was working late in the department. No one else had a serial killer file on his desk.
Ray covered the receiver and caught Mason’s eye, waving him back to their desks. “It’s security up at OHSU. Dr. Campbell was nearly assaulted at the dental school.”
Mason froze as a million questions pounded his brain.
“She’s OK. She wasn’t hurt.” Ray’s forehead wrinkled and he gave a disgusted snort. “She says the man is her ex-husband.” He refocused on the call.
“Stevenson.” Same man who’d harassed Dr. Campbell the night before. Mason had planned to contact the man, but it looked like Frank Stevenson would be coming downtown courtesy of the Portland Police Bureau. Good. Mason had some heavy questions for him. He grabbed the binder he’d put together for the case and tore through the pages, looking for the info he’d dug up on the ex-husband. He stopped on a page and stuck a finger on the name at the top.
Frank Stevenson. Married to Dr. Campbell for approximately two years. Originally from Mount Junction. Podiatrist.
A foot doctor?
He checked Frank’s date of licensure. It was only four years old. He’d become a podiatrist after Dr. Campbell graduated dental school. The fact gave Mason a sense of satisfaction and he gave a grim smile. Dr. Campbell had showed up her ex in the professional sense. Could Frankie-boy have issues with that?
“A ring? Whose ring? What? You’re shitting me. She’s positive?” Ray was incredulous. He stopped taking notes, and Mason automatically knew it was something big. Ray recovered and went back to scribbling faster than before.