Page 39

“I love sushi and I’m more than intrigued to see what you behavior people have to say about our killer,” Jude said. Yet, at the moment, he didn’t really want to see Jackson, or any of the rest of the team. He wanted to reach out and draw Whitney to him, and forget everything around them.

Dangerous, he warned himself. Crazy.

“Come on into the kitchen,” she said.

He did so. The others greeted him as if it was perfectly natural that he had come. In fact, it seemed they’d been expecting him.

“Whitney has filled us in on the events at the veterans’ home,” Jackson said, shaking his hand in greeting. “Hopefully, that evidence will lead right to the killer. Take a seat, please, have something to eat, and I’ll explain our board. What we’ve done here is connect the past with the present.” Jackson pointed out the mapgraph they had created.

“Yes, I think I can follow it pretty easily,” Jude said. “You have Emma Smith and Martha Tabrum…the woman reported attacked by soldiers, who died the morning following the attack…and the woman whose throat was slit, whom the experts don’t believe were Ripper victims aligned with Sarah Larson and our Jane Doe whom we still can’t name. You have Virginia Rockford and Melody Tatum aligned with Polly Nichols and Annie Chapman. On the other side of the line, you have Carrie Brown—the New York victim of a like murder, and then…I’m not sure about the other names.”

“These are people I’ve dismissed, though to some speculators they’re also victims of the New York Jack the Ripper,” Jackson said. “Personally, I don’t believe that Carrie Brown was killed by Jack the Ripper. There were too many differences outweighing the similarities, in my mind. The Ripper’s victims were manually strangled and their throats were slit. In the Carrie Brown case, she was strangled with a piece of her clothing, and her throat was not slit. The other cases are even more ridiculous. One was killed in her house in the midst of a robbery, and the mutilations didn’t occur in the same manner, or at all. The Ripper never left his knife—the Carrie Brown murderer did. So, in my mind, our American ‘Ripper’ was not the same man. I do believe, however, that he was the elusive Jonathan Black.”

“So what the hell is our killer doing?” Jude said. “In my opinion, the Jack the Ripper of Victorian London fame was either in a mental hospital or dead after the Mary Kelly killing—if her killing wasn’t just a copycat killing. Whatever it might have been, I don’t see such a murderer sanely taking a break so as not to be detected. Our killer is imitating Jack the Ripper—as if he had come to America, and so, he believes the Carrie Brown killing to be attributable to the Ripper. But here’s where I grow extremely wary—with the coat deliberately given to the captain, it appears that the killer is trying to set someone up to take the fall.”

Jackson sat down. “I’ve been mulling this over all day, ever since Ellis appeared with Captain Tyler. If it didn’t appear that the killer was doing his best to imitate the Ripper, I’d assume he was just trying to cast blame on someone else, in fact, to pin the murders on someone else. But I find it unlikely.”

“Could we be looking at another person’s involvement? When you consider the London murders, it’s clear they grew steadily more violent,” Jude pointed out. “Polly Nichols was severely slashed. By the time he got to his next victim, he hacked up her organs. He grew fonder of killing—and mutilation. I don’t see such a man calmly determining that he’d better make it look as if the butler did it. So, who tried to set up Captain Tyler—and why?”

“Hopefully, you’ll have luck in the morning when you bring Major Radison to the station and show him some mug shots, along with pictures of a few of our principal players,” Jackson said.

“I’m glad you’re bringing him down to the station,” Will said.

“You don’t think the surroundings will bother him?” Jude asked.

“No,” Jenna told him. “I think he will actually feel better. Everyone will be kind to him at the station and will want his opinion.”

“Yes, and I’m glad. I just wonder how much he’s actually going to be able to help,” Will said.

“Why?” Jude asked him.

“Whoever it was bothered to come to the hospital in a cloak, or something similar—and a hat. He might have gone all the way—with stage makeup,” Will said.

“It always seems to bring us back to the movie being made—O’Leary’s,” Whitney said. “And Will is right. Anyone working around a set long enough has to learn something about makeup. So, was it really a mistake that the kidnapper who drugged and took Captain Tyler went to the wrong room—or did he do it on purpose? He was perpetuating the Jack the Ripper myth, even in ‘stealing’ and setting up Captain Tyler.”

“Whitney, tomorrow you need to get to the location where O’Leary’s is now shooting,” Jackson said.

She nodded. “Of course.”

“A task force meeting will take place tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.,” Jude said.

“We’ll be there,” Jackson assured him gravely.

“How’s the sushi?” Will asked.

“Pardon?” Jude asked.

“Sushi—dinner,” Will said, waving his chopsticks in the air.

Jude laughed. “Sorry, it’s great, and thanks.”

When they finished, Will and Angela went to study the bank of screens in the hallway. Whitney urged him to come back to the den, where Jake Mallory was set up. “You know that Hannah and I are sharing our information. We’ve done personality studies with Jackson on some of your movie principals.”

“And what are your conclusions?” Jude asked him.

“That you’re looking at three possible suspects. Obviously, that’s if the killer is working with someone. None of us believes that Sherry Blanco—though certainly a narcissist—has the necessary strength to pull off the murders. But it could be that she is in on what’s happening, if there are two people at work, which seems possible.”

Whitney looked at Jude. “You know, the royal family conspiracy theory maintained that the prince had help in the killings—his physician, Sir Richard Gull.”

“Gull was the carriage driver—there to whisk the prince away,” Jude said.

“So, Sherry could be the person making sure that the killer makes a clean escape,” Jake told him.

“And she could just be a spoiled star,” Whitney said. “And we could be barking up the wrong tree entirely.”

She leaned back, stretching. A yawn escaped her. “I’m so sorry!” she said.

Jude rose. “I’ll get out of here, let you have your house back and get some rest for the night.”

“You should just move in here while the investigation is going on,” Jake told him.

“Hey, I’ve got an apartment not that far,” Jude said.

Move in. Nice idea. Close to Whitney. Not having to leave…

“Well, good night. I’ll see you in the morning,” he said.

But he didn’t get out that quickly. As they started through the hallway toward the front door, they passed the bank of screens. Angela was leaning forward, pointing at something on it. “It’s still there, the shadow that seems to lurk just above the ground.”

Jude walked over to look. Lights set up at the empty excavation site glinted off the patrol cars now permanently parked along the chain-link fence. But despite the lights, a shadow undulated just above the surface of the ground.

“Is it the film?” Jude asked.

“No,” Whitney said firmly. “It’s high-speed film…captures light, shadow, movement and changes in temperature, really. Movement in the air.”

“Then it’s just a breeze—and the night is foggy,” he said.

No one answered him.

“It’s ghosts?”

“Really, there should be no activity,” Angela murmured. “The bodies there were found, and they were dug out of the pit where they were buried without prayer or ceremony.”

“Those bodies were discovered,” Whitney said.

Jude groaned. “You’re suggesting there are more?”

“Perhaps,” she replied.

“More victims?” he demanded.

Whitney looked at him at last. “Maybe not. According to the Honeywell book your father loaned me, Jonathan Black just disappeared. The city was in an uproar; the House of Spiritualism came under so much fire that the city fathers decided that it was going to be razed, and it was. They’d lost power. According to the book, the followers had grown afraid of Jonathan Black, who, it seemed, was their power for some time. It is possible that they got together and basically assassinated him. And if they did so…”

“They buried him in the walls or the foundations somewhere,” Jude finished for her. He stared at Whitney. “Do you know where he’s buried? I mean, like you knew how to find the bodies last night?”

Whitney shook her head. “No. We don’t know where his body might be, if it is there,” she said. “And, of course, a new Satanist might have worshipped his body, a piece of his body…or even some kind of relic he might have used as his ‘cross’ for others to respect as a symbol of some kind of supernatural power.”

“I can’t tell you where his body might be. Not yet,” Angela murmured.

Jude turned. He had to get out of Blair House. He didn’t want to become known as a ghost buster, with his department snickering behind his back.

But if Whitney had been the one to ask him, he realized, he’d have stayed through the night.

“Good night.”

In seconds, Jude was out in the street, revving his car’s engine and heading home.

He hadn’t even reached the house before he wanted to go back.

Tonight would bring those same dreams again. There would be some kind of gentle breeze blowing and moonlight slipping through the windows. He would see her as she came into his arms, as they fell onto the bed together, as he felt her sleek naked flesh next to his own…