“Sean said she was in danger?” Jack saw red. Lacey had befriended this kid and now it appeared he was a primary element of her trouble.
The detective nodded. “He said a man gave him that card as he waited outside Dr. Campbell’s house. The man asked Sean to make sure she received it and then warned him to be very careful because a bad man might hurt the dentist again.”
Jack’s head jerked up to meet Callahan’s eyes. “You think Sean’s telling the truth?” Sean wasn’t their man?
Callahan inhaled and pressed his lips together. “If he’s not, then he’s a damned good actor. He can’t have much of an IQ. Seems honest and truly scared for Dr. Campbell.”
Jack sucked in a deep breath. The threat to Lacey was still walking the streets.
“Could he describe the guy?”
“Yeah. A man.”
“That’s it?” Jack scanned Callahan’s face, incredulous. They had an eyewitness, and that was the best description?
“A man with a hat.”
“Aw, shit.” Jack looked at the card. It seemed so innocent on the outside, but deadly inside. “You printed this already?”
“It’s clean. Just the kid’s prints on the envelope.”
“I don’t think he’s a kid.”
“He’s not. I’d estimate him to be around twenty-seven or eight. Just seems young.”
“I don’t like the message written inside.” Jack took a deep breath and calmed the urge to rip up the card and bag. “This asshole’s got a big finale planned in two days. With Lacey at the center.” Jack met the detective’s eyes, sensing the anger boiling just under the cop’s cool surface.
“I know. What I don’t understand is why he’s telling us his next move.”
“Could be a decoy.”
“Could be. Might not be.” The detective looked at him pointedly. “You want to wait around to find out?”
“She needs to disappear.”
“I’m with you a hundred percent. Make it happen.”
Jack couldn’t bring himself to tell Lacey about the card.
He stood twenty feet away in the police station lobby, silently watching Lacey tell Brody good-bye. Surprisingly, his chest didn’t tighten as Brody kissed her on the forehead and hugged her tight for five long seconds. The message in the card had desensitized Jack’s jealousy. He was too angry to be concerned with Brody.
With that note, the killer had confirmed that Lacey was on his list. God damn, the man was getting cocky. Jack shook his head. No. The killer had been cocky from the beginning. The psycho had broken into Lacey’s house and stolen her ring. Then had taken the chance to drop Suzanne’s ring in Lacey’s coat pocket at work. The man was getting overconfident, arrogant.
Hubris could trip him up.
Jack knew he should tell Lacey about the message. But surely, the situation with Kelly showed her how much danger she was in. If she couldn’t see that, then she was blind.
He wasn’t taking her back to her house. If she needed something, he’d buy it for her. He’d call one of those animal sitting services to look after her cat. Lacey wasn’t getting out of his sight.
Now if she’d just agree.
And the chances of that? He shook his head.
Brody was going back to Mount Junction. He had more digging he wanted to do. He’d seen the card, and Callahan had to yank the plastic bag out of Brody’s hands before it ripped. He told Jack and Callahan what he’d discovered about the Stevenson land and the circumstances around Amy Smith’s death. No one liked the coincidence about Stevenson, and Brody wanted to meet with Amy’s parents. Privately Jack and Brody had discussed what to do with Lacey. She’d be furious if she knew Jack planned to stick to her like glue for the next few days. Or weeks. However long it took for the creep to be caught.
Jack watched the reporter step away from Lacey after a final hug. Brody gave him a long silent stare as he moved through the police station door and out into the snow. Jack evenly met his eyes.
Brody was handing off a costly treasure and Jack silently swore it wouldn’t be damaged on his watch.
“You can’t make me stay here!” Lacey planted her feet on the home’s walkway, eyeing the strange house in anger.
“That’s right, I can’t. But if you know of another anonymous place to stay, I’ll be right beside you.” Jack tugged at her arm.
She didn’t budge. He stepped in front of her and squeezed her shoulders with heavy hands, grabbing her attention. “Lacey! Your friend is missing. Three men are dead. Do you really think you should be by yourself?” He wanted to shake her.
“But I don’t even know this guy. I don’t want to impose on anyone’s privacy or lead a psychotic killer to his house.” She looked past him to the front door.
Jack refused to take her to a hotel. He didn’t know how electronically connected their killer was, but Jack wasn’t about to risk his credit card being tracked. There was no doubt in his mind the killer had connected him with Lacey. He’d sent that message via DVD.
“Alex and I go way back. There’s no one I would trust more with my life or yours.” He held her gaze, silently imploring her to listen to reason. She wasn’t one of his employees. He couldn’t order her around. She was a stubborn woman who was more worried about a friend who’d died a decade ago than herself.