Page 86

Kelly Cates had been an unexpected kink in his path. He pressed his lips together. Maybe she’d been scared by the murders in the paper and hid. After all, she was linked to the original Co-Ed Slayer case in her own fucked-up way.

She had a good reason to be nervous.

She was all right. His sister was all right.

Jack sat heavily on the curb holding his head in his hands, fighting the dizziness. Between the shock of Lacey’s disappearance and the relief that Melody was out of the killer’s clutches, he was ready to crack. When he’d seen Frank Stevenson come out of that house he’d known Lacey was in immediate danger.

He’d left her alone.

The guilt was crippling him. Why hadn’t he insisted she come with him? Why hadn’t he grabbed a uniform and planted him at the truck? In hindsight, there were so many things he could’ve done. A lot like the last time he let a woman down. If only he and Cal had…If only. If only.

He’d told Lacey he could keep her safe.

Instead he’d fucked up and possibly killed her. Rage boiled acid in his throat, and his vision tunneled. Count to ten.

She’d blown his mind last night. He didn’t know what to think. The feisty woman had crawled under his heart and set up camp. As they’d made love, her eyes had made a silent pledge and he’d found himself doing the same.

Images of his future all floated around Lacey Campbell.

He couldn’t lose her. He’d just gotten her.

His breakfast stirred in his stomach, threatening to reappear.

It was twenty-five degrees, and he sat in a melting pile of snow, sweating like he’d sprinted a marathon.

He had to do something.

It’d taken the police this long to find this house. Lacey couldn’t wait a week for them to find another. She probably couldn’t wait a day.

Voices sounded. He wearily turned to see the detectives approach. Callahan looked ready to spit fire and Lusco looked like he wanted to hit something, hard. They were good men; they cared about this case and were doing their damned best to find the slippery killer. Jack pushed to his feet as they approached, wincing as he felt the cold seep through his wet jeans.

He had to pull it together if he was going to find Lacey.

“Now what?” he asked as he watched the men circle his truck, studying it minutely. Were they expecting to find an arrow drawn in the snow? Pointing in the direction she’d vanished? He’d already checked. No discernible footprints. No nothing.

Lusco pulled out his phone and got his pencil ready. Callahan stopped next to Jack and looked him hard in the eye from under his hat. Probably measuring my sanity.

“Don’t worry. I won’t crack this time.” He managed a sickly smile.

Callahan studied him again and nodded. He didn’t look convinced.

“I’ve got Ray checking for any other real estate under the same name as this house. Our man is using the name Robert Costar instead of DeCosta. Ray’s also getting hold of your friend, Brody. Send him to question the old woman again. See if she knows where her son would go.”

Callahan took a breath. “She must have tipped him off.” The man was pissed, his mouth tight, his hat low. “Your sister’s fine. Just cold and freaked out. They’re taking her to the hospital to get checked, but she says he didn’t touch her.”

Jack ran a shaky hand through his hair. “Now what?”

“We wait.”

“I can’t fucking wait,” Jack muttered.

“I’ve got the local PD setting up roadblocks around the area. Checking leaving vehicles, but I think it’s too late. I suspect he whisked her out of here pretty quick,” Callahan stated grimly. Both men watched Lusco burn up his notepad with his flying pencil, his phone tucked under his ear. Jack prayed the man would come up with something.

Lusco glanced up as if he heard Jack’s thoughts. He nodded, his eyes bright.

“I’ve got another address under the name Robert Costar. It’s an isolated cabin outside Lakefield. That’s our boy’s home turf.”

“Lakefield,” Mason repeated.

Where Suzanne’s remains had appeared. They’d come full circle.

“Call Lakefield PD. Get them caught up and find out what they know about the location of that cabin, but I want county SWAT in charge of handling the cabin, not just the locals.”

Jack whirled toward his truck, mentally plotting out the shortest route to Lakefield. It was going to take a couple of hours for him to drive there, but if he—Callahan knocked his hand away before he touched his door handle. What the fuck?

The detective looked pissed. Reluctant, but pissed. “You can’t take the truck.”

“What?” Every nerve went on defense.

“It’s a crime scene. Your truck’s not going anywhere.”

Jack’s heart stopped. Crime scene? He stared at the detective, then at Lusco. Lusco nodded.

“Then I’ll ride with you.”

Both men shook their heads. “You aren’t going with us.” Callahan moved his face too close to Jack’s. “Keep out of it. You’re done here. Wait and we’ll call when we know something.” He held the younger man’s gaze, daring him to contradict him. Jack opened his mouth then shut it, feeling anger rocket through his veins. His hands itched to race off in his truck. He counted to ten again.

He nodded.

He’d figure out something else.

Callahan gave orders to two nearby uniforms, gesturing back at Jack’s truck. Lusco was silent, watching Jack like he expected him to jump in the truck and split.