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He shrugged, clearly not about to tell her what was really on his mind. Then he let out a sigh. “I just had coffee with Katherine Kidd,” he told her.

“Katherine Kidd?” she said.

“Beau Kidd had a sister,” he said.

“I remember. She was about my age. You know, he was buried the same day as my grandfather. I remember…I didn’t know whose grave it was, but I saw his parents there. His mother was sobbing. I didn’t see his sister there, though.”

“Maybe they wouldn’t let her go,” he said. “There was so much hatred for Beau at the time, so many people who believed he was a killer.”

“So has she hired you to work the case?” Christina asked.

“No one needed to hire me for this case,” he told her, then straightened his shoulders. “So, did I hear something about dinner?”

“Want eggs and toast?” she suggested.


She turned and walked to the kitchen, leaving him standing there.

A minute later, she felt hands on her shoulders and froze.

Beau or Jed?

She spun around. It was Jed, pitch-dark eyes meeting hers. “I don’t want to talk about this all the time,” he said. “I don’t want it to become an obsession, do you understand?”

“Right,” she murmured. “Um…do you want wine with your eggs?”

“Whatever you want.”

“Do you mind running down to the basement?” she asked him.

“Sure.” He turned away and headed for the stairs. She reached for a spatula, then jerked when she felt a touch on her arm.

This time it was Beau Kidd.

“What are you doing here?” she demanded, irritated.

He looked hurt, but all he said was, “Thanks.”

She shook her head. “You didn’t need to haunt me. He’s on it already.”

He was quiet, looking perplexed. “I can’t help it. The flower on my grave, the Ouija board…there’s a connection between us, though I have to admit, I don’t get it, either.”

“Well, I’ve got company, so there’s no time to figure it out. Would you just go somewhere else?”

They could both hear Jed’s footsteps on the stairs.

“Got a thing for him, huh?” Beau teased.

“Go away. Please?”

He let out a sigh. “I sure would love to see Kitty…my folks.”

“Try wafting over there, why don’t you?”

He grinned.

“Who are you talking to?” Jed called.

“I was just talking to the dog,” she returned, glaring at Beau.

Jed reentered, and when she looked back to where Beau had been, he was gone. Jed poured the wine while she finished the eggs. “I saw an old acquaintance of yours tonight,” he told her.


“Mike’s ex-wife.”

“Really?” Christina felt herself stiffen. She couldn’t help it. Angie had hurt Mike. She’d cheated on him and hadn’t particularly cared that he’d found out, or that she’d hurt him. He’d been head over heels in love with her, and she’d used that to her advantage. They hadn’t had any kids, but Mike was still stuck paying alimony.

“What did she have to say for herself?”

“She wanted me to suck up to you,” he said flatly.

Christina stared at him, curious. “Suck up to me? Why?”

“Because you’re going to be looking for singers.”

Christina laughed suddenly. “Wow. I don’t think of myself as being particularly vengeful, but…well, she could suck up to me from now to eternity, and I still wouldn’t use her.”

“So I figured.”

“I do think Mike is finally over her,” Christie said as she dished out the eggs, saving some in the pan to give Killer later. As she set their plates out on the dining-room table, she realized that she was nervous.

Just what had last night been? A moment’s insanity? The natural result of so many years of pent-up attraction, at least on her part?

Or was he here now because this was the beginning of something new, something different, for both of them?

She saw that she still had the Harrison Investigations home page up on the screen. Embarrassed, she closed it and got ready to shut down the computer, but just then a breaking news alert suddenly flashed on, and she gasped.

“What?” Jed demanded, just as his cell phone began to ring. “Another body?” he asked, staring at the screen while he flipped his phone open.

She shook her head. “No, no…not a body. A missing woman.”

A woman she knew.

“Yeah, Jerry, thanks. I just heard about it,” she heard Jed saying, though she couldn’t seem to pull her eyes away from the screen. Then Jed strode into the living room and turned on the television. Immediately, the missing woman’s face popped into view.

She was pretty. She was young.

She had long red hair.

And a voice like a lark.

“I know her,” she told Jed as he snapped his phone closed. “Her name is Allison Chesney. I was supposed to record with her on Monday.”

“She won’t be going anywhere on Monday,” Jed told her.

“But the computer only said that she was missing.”

“She’s been found,” he said grimly.


H e watched. Waited. Analyzed their body language.

They were both young, attractive, the man obviously in a hurry, the woman just as obviously anxious. The man was talking, his expression firm. He was clearly the kind who tended to speak with authority. When she responded, he could see that she was the type to defy authority. But pretty, so very pretty…

And then they kissed. Not the kind of peck a husband gave his wife when he was in a hurry. Not the kind of halfhearted kiss a man gave a woman when he was already long gone mentally. It was a kiss like a promise, brief, but filled with the future. Then the man left, and from his vantage point, he heard the lock snap.

He drew a deep breath and smiled. She was alone.

But this wasn’t the time. Not yet. It would come soon enough.

He left his hiding place and walked down the street, waving to the occasional passerby as he headed for the house, for the woman who knew him.

He felt as if his patience was paying off and things were finally going his way. All these years…He felt gleeful, like laughing. If they only knew.

Oh, if they only knew….

All the victims looked so much alike when they were laid out on an autopsy table. But it wasn’t the resemblance in death that drove the killer. Jed was certain of that. The sex, the power he wielded and the humiliation of his victims before death…those were what mattered to their murderer. And then, after death, they were left naked. And posed. But this murder was different.

This one felt far too close.

“Come on, Doc, tell us something,” Jerry pleaded.

Doc Martin shook his head. In sadness? Frustration? Jed couldn’t tell. Then Doc spoke. “Bruising…there, on the arms. And ligature marks on the wrists and ankles—see? That’s a change in MO. Maybe she refused to cooperate or almost escaped or something. She was gagged, too. You can see the marks, here. She lost a hunk of hair, too. Probably pulled out while she was being dragged around. Cause of death…just the same. Manual strangulation. Nothing found near her. She was killed elsewhere and dumped by the highway.”

“She didn’t reach home two nights ago,” Mal O’Donnell read from his notes. “But her sister thought she was with her boyfriend. The missing persons report was filed yesterday afternoon, and—”

“She was found by a family who pulled over because they didn’t think their four-year-old would make it to the next rest stop,” Jerry finished. “God…the uniforms said the little boy couldn’t stop screaming. There’s a kid who’s going to be in therapy.”

“What is that?” Jed asked when he saw Doc Martin frown and pick up a pair of tweezers. Then he saw what Doc had seen: something in the girl’s hair.

“Grass. A long blade of grass,” Doc Martin said.

Mal O’Donnell produced an evidence bag. “We’ll get it analyzed,” he said glumly.

“Who knows? Maybe someone will figure something out,” Doc Martin said.

“Yeah. That it’s grass. Ever seen a grassier frigging state?” Jerry demanded morosely.

“She was lying in the grass when she was found, but…was it that grass?” Mal O’Donnell wondered aloud, looking at Jed.

“This is the third young woman—this is getting very bad,” Doc Martin said, then began to recite the details into a tape recorder.

It was like déjà vu, Jed thought. They had heard it all before, but each time, it seemed to cut more deeply into the soul.

Killer had to go out.

Christina had stayed inside after Jed left, reading everything she could find on Harrison Investigations, but eventually Killer’s whining got to her.

At least he was housebroken, a fact she could appreciate.

“Okay, boy. I’ll wait on the porch,” she said as she opened the door, then stood outside, and let him race up and down the front lawn. October could be such a strange month, she thought. During the day it could actually feel hot, but at night the breeze swept through, cooling everything down to the point that it could actually feel cold. She felt that chill now as she stood there waiting for Killer to do his business.

Suddenly the chill grew even worse, almost unnatural.

“Killer!” she called. “Let’s go!”

She saw that the dog had gone dead still, standing with his nose in the air, sniffing. He was as rigid as if he were a lawn statue.

“Killer?” she repeated, a little less firmly. She looked around, trying to see what had caught the dog’s attention, but she saw nothing. Despite that, she felt deeply chilled and had an uncomfortable sense that she was being stalked. “Killer, now!” she snapped.