With that, he turned and walked into the living room.
“Cops,” Fullbright said when he had left the room. “They can be just as aggravating as actors.”
“Or M.E.s,” Jude said.
“Hey, I’m not exactly Mr. Personality, and I know it,” Fullbright said. “Why the hell do you think I work with the dead?”
By the time they finished the meal and cleaned up, Ellis was snoring softly on the sofa. Jude told Whitney that they should leave him there while he made some phone calls. She spelled Will, sitting before the bank of screens in the hallway, watching the strange rise and fall of the shadows in the foundations next door. While keeping one eye on the strange phenomenon that never changed, she fast-tracked the film from the night before. She realized that the killer had managed to dispatch his victim and eviscerate her just out of range of every camera that they’d set up.
At midnight, Jude and Jake came to find her; Jude had been making phone calls, reverifying alibis, and Jake had been running more programs, delving deeper into the backgrounds on the actors, actresses and crew on the movie set. They’d gone back through the security tapes from the various ATMs on Broadway from the night Virginia Rockford had been murdered, but once again, the killer had eluded the film. Jackson had given Hannah a ride home around midnight.
“Back to me,” Will told Whitney. “Go to bed.”
She looked at the two of them. “Ellis is still on the sofa?”
“We’re going to leave him there,” Jude said.
She was surprised. “He’s a cop. He has a gun. And we sleep in this house.”
“Someone will be watching him through the night,” Will assured her.
Jude offered her a hand.
She accepted it. Obviously, he was staying. It was probably far beyond the wrong side of protocol, but they seldom went by protocol. And every human being needed downtime; this was downtime.
The room was in shadow; she’d left the bathroom light on and it cast a gentle glow into the bedroom.
She’d barely closed her door before she turned into his arms. They wound up on the bed in a tangle of clothing, and as they clung to one another, desperate for the release in so many ways, they managed, bit by bit, to shed the annoying cloth that separated them. Guns wound up on either bedside table; shoes were kicked to the far corners of the room. Nothing felt so good, or so right. Immersed in his masculine scent and touched by the powerful heat of his body, Whitney felt the world disappear, and despite the urgent vigor of their love-making, she felt as if the world washed away. Energy and electricity seared through her, and she delighted in stroking the ribbed muscles of his shoulders, chest and abdomen. She found her own power in stroking his sex teasingly, and she forgot everything as their flesh rubbed erotically together, as he kissed and touched her intimately, and entered into her, filling her not just with delightful little orgasms, but with a sense that she was whole, and hungry for the ultimate climax. He moved slowly and almost teasingly, and she arched harder and harder against him until she felt the delicious, sweet burst of release, and in seconds, felt the shuddering impact of his body as he reached the same pinnacle. He fell down beside her, pulled her against him and whispered, “I think you’ve allowed me to survive this with a mind left.”
They hadn’t survived it yet, but she kept silent on that, brushing a kiss against the dampness of his chest.
They didn’t speak again; they had been sleep deprived since she had come to Blair House. She wasn’t aware then if he lay awake or if he had drifted; she only knew that sleep swept over her like a comforting blanket.
She didn’t know if she was dreaming, or if she had wakened. She felt first the soft wet touch of the dog’s nose on her hand, urging her to awake. She opened her eyes, and they were back.
Annie Doherty stood at the foot of the bed, and the other victims, past and present, were arrayed around her. She thought somewhat hysterically that it was getting crowded in her room; there were so many victims now. And they all stared at her beseechingly.
The dog whined. He barked, wagging his tail. He headed for the door; she didn’t. He came back.
She rose, and started to follow the dog; the victims were disappearing through the walls that led to the upstairs landing and the stairs.
She heard her name, but it was as if she was being called from somewhere far away. She knew that whatever it was that she needed to know, the dog was trying to tell her.
She opened the door to the hallway.
But she didn’t manage to open it. She felt arms on her shoulders and she turned to see Jude’s concerned face. “Whitney, you’re sleepwalking. And you’re naked.”
So she was. And now she was awake. But she still felt the urgency because of her dream. “Jude, we have to go next door.”
“It’s the middle of the night, Whitney. We’ll go in the morning.”
She shook her head vehemently. “Now, Jude. Now. I’ll get dressed. We have to get the others, and we have to go next door.”
She shook free from his touch and hurriedly gathered her clothing from wherever it had fallen on the floor. He did the same, and collected their guns and holsters from the bedside tables. Whitney raced ahead of him, banging on Jackson and Angela’s door, and running along the hallway doing the same to the others. Will, alarmed by the noise, came running to the bottom of the stairs.
Whitney heard Jude run down the steps to try to explain while she woke the others.
Jackson wasn’t with Angela. He’d been downstairs with Will; they had meant to keep an eye on Ellis through the night.
Looking disheveled but quickly alert, the Krewe of Hunters assembled in the downstairs hallway. Whitney glanced at Jude. He wasn’t protesting, but she thought that he was surprised that none of the others seemed to think that Whitney was crazy.
Ellis woke up, dazed, and then became alert. “What’s happening? Oh, God, not another murder—not the Mary Kelly repeat!”
“Bring him with us,” Jude muttered low against Whitney’s ear.
“Intuition! It’s our specialty,” Angela said.
“Will, stay on-screen. Jenna, you’re with Will. Come on.”
Two patrol cars were on the street, watching the site. An officer emerged from one of the cars, flashing his beam at them. “Stop. NYPD.”
Jude walked forward, showing his badge. “Detective Jude Crosby. We’re going into the site.”
“Uh, of course,” the officer said. “Now?” he added.
“Yes, keep an eye out, please.”
Whitney was beginning to feel like a fool. The dog and the women had disappeared when Jude had stopped her. A good thing, of course. If she’d made it past Will and Jackson in the hallway, she’d have been arrested by the officer for indecent exposure.
She bit her lower lip, waiting for Jackson to open the gate.
And then she saw the dog. He was halfway between the gate and the foundations, barking, wagging his tail, urging her forward.
“I see him,” Jake whispered softly at her side.
“Yes,” Angela said.
They followed the dog to the site, and down the stairs.
They had all been right. This special unit was special, all right.
The group of them started walking toward the hole, and they moved with purpose, or awareness of something he hadn’t caught.
He felt as if cold fingers crept along his spine, but Jude kept his face as expressionless as he could, and followed. They were crazy, but…
They’d found the skeletons of the 1890s murder victims, and that had brought in an excavation, and the historians and anthropologists were still set up, painstakingly digging bit by bit. What was Whitney going to find that the experts hadn’t?
He thought he heard a dog barking from somewhere, and then it seemed that an entire neighborhood of canines woke up.
He looked to the sky. It was a full moon as well.
Maybe the dogs were reverting to wolflike behavior, and baying at the moon.
Whitney stopped in the middle of the pentagram. So far, the dig into the foundations had been kept to the other side of the structural wall.
“Here,” Whitney said.
“Here, what?” Jude demanded, not able to keep quiet anymore.
Whitney looked at him. He’d come to know her very well. He couldn’t exactly put a name to the way he felt about her, but he felt his body tense and his heart seem to tear apart. Shimmering and bright, she was someone in his life who was suddenly able to understand him. She was sensual, she was ecstasy and she was a sweet, cooling shower of light that eased him when he needed it most.
And she had to be…special.
She was going to lie to him; he could see it in her eyes.
“Something I read…or something your father told me. Here. We have to dig here.”
“This is a historical site,” he reminded her. “And we’ve already been digging here. We may disrupt something the historians or the crime scene techs have going.”
He could just imagine the red tape. He could imagine what Deputy Chief Green would have to say to him. “You were there? You allowed this, after teams of scientists had been called in?”
He’d be back on patrol, or worse. His ass would be fired. Generations of New York City cops in his family, and he was the first who would be fired.
Jackson said quietly, “If Whitney is convinced, we need to dig. Now.” He looked at Jude. Jude was the final barrier. “I swear to God, it’s important if she says so.”
Jude threw up his hands.
Oh, yeah. He’d be branded as special, too.
He thought about the corpse of the woman on the gurney at autopsy that day, and he lifted his hands in a shrug. “At this point, what the hell.”
Once again, they headed to dig out the shovels and picks and spades. He, Jackson and Jake took up the picks. “I should help,” Ellis said.
Whitney told him, “Look for an area that might have been dug in the last six months or so. You’ll know because you’ll hear something hollow, or you’ll hit soft dirt.”