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The look Spivak shot Lance could have burned brick. Spivak nodded, and Stella circled behind him to release his hands. He rubbed his wrists, and Stella spotted scars in the crook of his elbow. Track marks?

She sat in the chair across from him, read him his Miranda rights, and slid an acknowledgment across the table for him to sign.

“I know my rights.” Ego lifted his jaw, but a line of sweat trickled down his temple. “I’m not signing anything.”

They’d intentionally shut off the air-conditioning vent in the room. Discomfort could loosen a tongue.

Stella pushed the paper aside. She raised her voice and spoke to the camera. “Let the record show that Mr. Spivak was read his rights and stated verbally that he understands them.”

Spivak’s mouth flattened as he realized his mistake. His eyes flickered to the camera.

Stella slid the file in front of her and opened it. “You have quite the record. You’ve been charged with assault, domestic violence, and statutory rape.”

“I was never convicted of anything except the rape, and I was railroaded on that.”

“You like little girls, Noah?” Lance cocked his head.

“She told me she was eighteen.” His face went smug.

Stella checked the file. “She was thirteen.”

“She looked mature for her age.” Spivak clasped his hands. “Must be the hormones in our food.”

“Where do you live, Mr. Spivak?” Stella asked.

With one blink, his eyes went dark. “With my parents.”

Stella leaned forward, interlocking her fingers and resting her forearms on the table. “Why were you outside the church tonight?”

“Contemplating God’s grand plan.” His eyes shrank to mean slits. “Why did he put us in the same place tonight, Detective?”

Stella ignored the question. “Who were you waiting for?”

“I was waiting for you.” Excitement drew him forward and glittered in his eyes. “Women aren’t meant to be in positions of power. Fate put us together tonight. I’m supposed to teach you to be a properly submissive female. I’d handcuff you, bend you over this table, and give you a lesson in a woman’s true purpose.”

“You little—” Lance said, his teeth bared.

Stella put a cool-it hand on his forearm to ward off the pending explosion. She glanced sideways at him. One more sign of aggression and she was kicking him out. He eased back a scant inch, but the muscles under her palm were rigid as stone.

Spivak’s eyes laughed at them. He was enjoying Lance’s reaction.

“If we drug tested you right now, would you be clean?” Stella gave his arms a pointed look.

“Yes.” He bent his arms to conceal the scars. “Those are from prison. I’ve been clean since I got out.”

“Isn’t that backward?” Lance asked.

“You try serving time,” Spivak shot back. “Many things happen in prison that aren’t optional.”

“You were forced to use heroin?” Lance asked in a skeptical tone.

“I was forced to do a lot of things,” Spivak said without breaking eye contact.

Hostility rose between the two men like heat waves off hot blacktop.

Time to change tactics.

Stella set a picture of Missy Green on the table. “Do you know this woman?”

Spivak glanced at it. Recognition lit his eyes, then pure spite twisted his mouth. “I’ve never seen her before.”

“Fucking liar.” Lance slammed a fist onto the table.

“He’s out of control. I’m not answering any questions without a lawyer.” This wasn’t Spivak’s first trip to the police interview room. He leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest, his nasty gaze landing on Stella’s chest. “Unless she strips down and gives me a look at her tits.”

And that was the end of the interview. Stella got up and opened the door for the uniform standing outside the door. “Put Mr. Spivak in holding.”

“I won’t be in here long, not once my lawyer gets a look at this.” Spivak pointed to his abraded cheek and split lip. “And when I get out, I’ll be keeping an eye out for you around town.” He pointed at Stella and licked his lips. “I want to bite into you like a ripe peach.”

He was looking for a response, so Stella didn’t give it to him. She gathered her papers into her folder. But inside, her stomach protested the images his words put in her head. Plenty of criminals tried to intimidate her with sexual insults and comments. It was one thing about being a female cop that she couldn’t get used to no matter how hard she tried. But this was somehow worse. Spivak wasn’t some idiot loser spewing empty threats. This man was cunning, cruel.

Based on the disgusting visual he’d given her earlier, he liked handcuffs.

Had he sent her the photo of Missy’s body? He was definitely the type who would enjoy tormenting a woman. Despite the heat in the room, goose bumps rose on Stella’s arms.

The uniform spun Spivak around with unnecessary force, snapped the cuffs on his wrists, and marched him down the hall.

Below the general sense of disgust, anger rumbled in Stella’s throat. She tapped Lance on the chest and pointed to the door. He followed her into the hall, where the camera on the ceiling didn’t record audio.

She leaned close and whispered, “What was all that?”

“He’s a lying scumbag,” Lance’s voice was low, but the rage on his face startled her. “I should have put his head through the wall. He’s a waste of oxygen.”

“He was goading you, and you let him.”

He studied his Frankenstein cop shoes. His shoulders slumped.

“Are you all right? This behavior isn’t like you.”

“I’m working on it.” He ran his hand through his buzz cut. “I’m sorry. I fucked up. It won’t happen again.”

Stella exhaled. “You want to talk about it?”

Lance clamped his teeth together. “I’m not real happy with psycho druggies right now.”

Like the one who’d shot him.

Lance punched his palm with his fist. “And the thought of that guy stalking you makes me want to snap his neck.”

“Spivak is going to jail, so neither of us has to worry about him,” Stella said. “Deal with this now. Don’t let it build.” As if she should give advice.

His head dropped in a single, curt nod.

He went into the conference room. Stella followed him, watching as he updated the whiteboard with Noah Spivak’s information. He pinned a mug shot of Spivak under “suspects.” His posture relaxed. “I’m sorry about the interview. And the alley.”

They both knew there would be repercussions from Lance’s aggression. Spivak had been around the legal block a few times. He’d play the abuse-of-force card for all it was worth.

“Yeah.” He sighed. “I came around the corner just as he hit you. I kind of lost my shit for a few minutes.”

“I know, and I appreciate your concern.”

“I’m just so fed up with everything. Everywhere I look in this town, I see drugs and crime. We catch the criminals, and the system lets them out. What’s the fucking point?” Lance pressed a hand to his thigh. “My leg won’t ever be the same.”

“I’m sorry,” Stella said quietly.

“What now?” Lance picked up a marker and listed Spivak’s arrest record under his picture. Frustration pressured his strokes, and the letters he wrote were sharp and dark. “He recognized Missy’s picture.”

“I know. Let’s see if we can get more information on Spivak. For now, we can hold him for assaulting an officer and illegal weapon possession.” Stella rubbed a sore spot on her butt. Her skid in the alley had likely left a few marks. “If my witness IDs him, we can apply some additional pressure.”

“When can you get your witness here?” he asked.

She’d called Gianna’s cell earlier, but the phone had gone to voice mail. “If she doesn’t call me back by morning, I’ll stop at her place tomorrow. We can’t talk to Spivak again without a lawyer. That’s not going to happen tonight.” She glanced at the clock. “It’s way past shift change. You should go home.”

Lance draped an arm over her shoulders. “You, too. Get some sleep.” He sniffed her hair. “And take a shower. You rolled in garbage.”

“A shower would be great.” Stella planned to spray her car with disinfectant, too. The interior smelled like a Caesar salad.

“I’m serious. Don’t do anything else tonight. Go home and ice your face.”

“I’ll leave soon. I want to update my notes from tonight’s arrest while the details are still fresh.”

“You and your paperwork fetish.” Lance stalked away. Though obviously making a great effort, he couldn’t completely conceal his limp. But it wasn’t his physical injury that bothered Stella the most. It was the murderous look on his face when he’d slammed Spivak into the bricks. If she hadn’t been there, how far would Lance have gone?


She turned to see Brody leaning into the doorway. He dropped into a chair and stared at the whiteboard. “What’s happening?”


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