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He didn’t know who had cried out.

He looked over at his own boat.

Brent, Nikki, Victor and Genevieve were also staring at the sad remains of a life gone tragically bad.

“Take your crews in,” Jay repeated curtly.

“Right. And you’ll let me know the minute you find anything out?”

Jay stared at him. He could imagine what the man was thinking. Yeah, right. I’m a cop, you’re not. Count on it.

Jay lowered his head. Maybe he’d regretted his own thoughts, unspoken but clear.

“Hell, yes, I’ll get back to you. You’ll just pull some of your government strings, if I don’t, right?”

“I would appreciate it,” Thor said simply, then hopped from hull to hull, returning to his own boat. He shouted out to Jack on the other vessel, “Bring her in.”

There was silence as the boats raced across the water, returning to dock at the resort. The police boats weren’t far behind.

News traveled fast. A crowd—being managed by uniformed officers—had formed around the docks.

Strangely, there was a sense of excitement in the air. As if people felt they were being a part of history, rather than witnessing a tragedy. News had traveled fast. It seemed everyone already knew it was another hooker who had been found, so as long as you weren’t a hooker, you were safe.

Thor was still tying down when the police cruiser came in, when the corpse was removed from it in a body bag. One of the cops had been as sloppy as the killer.

The bag wasn’t fully closed.

As two officers managed the weight, the top gave way. The woman’s face was clearly visible, eyes still staring.

Thor heard a startled gasp from behind him.

He turned to see Bethany gaping at the corpse.

She saw him, and instantly, a shield came up over her eyes.

“You knew her?” he asked sharply.

She shook her head vehemently. “Knew her? No, I didn’t know her.”

“But you’ve seen her before?” he asked.

“Hell, yeah,” Jack announced from behind them both. “She’s Victor’s blonde.”


I n his wildest dreams, Victor couldn’t have imagined this.

The interrogation room was like those he had seen on television—stark.

And the way the detectives spoke to him…He kept wondering what the hell had happened to “innocent until proven guilty.”

Jay wasn’t there. He assumed the powers that be had decided Jay was too close to him, and that others should do the baiting. Because it was baiting, nothing more.

Detective Suarez was lean, dark and sharp-looking. Mertz…well, even without the name, Victor would have been reminded of Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy. Mertz was stout, balding and sixty-ish.

But he wasn’t very funny.

“How many hookers have you done in?” Mertz demanded.

“Why did you kill her? And the one before?” Suarez asked.

“Don’t be a jerk. This is a death penalty state. Death penalty. We can keep you from the needle, Victor. We’ll help you—if you help us.”

“Where’s your friend Audrey? What happened? She isn’t the type you like to kill, so what happened? Did she suspect you were the murderer? You were walking her home, right? She said something, so you conned her into going with you so you could toss her overboard somewhere, too, is that it?” Mertz suggested.

“I didn’t kill anyone!” Victor exploded, thinking back to the way he’d ended up here.

One of the officers had walked up to him pleasantly enough, explaining that they would be talking to everyone from the boats, because of the circumstances surrounding the finding of both bodies.

Of course, he knew the dead woman. Knew her in every sense of the word.

“I thought she liked me. I didn’t know she was a hooker at first,” he’d told Jay.

“They just want to talk to you at the station. Don’t worry. It’s routine. Help us out,” Jay had told him. “Please.”

So polite at first.

And now…

“She’s dead, buddy,” Suarez said. “That means you killed her.”

“Yeah. That happens when you weigh someone down and dump them in the water,” Mertz added.

“Talk to us. We’ll help you,” Suarez said.

“Come on, buddy. The others, they were strangers. Whores. You know what I mean? But Audrey was your friend,” Mertz pressed.

“To the best of my knowledge, Audrey is alive and well.”

“And missing,” Mertz said.

“I walked her to her door. I watched her enter the house. I heard her lock the door after I left,” Victor said.

“But then you went back,” Suarez said.

“I did not,” Victor protested.

“Imagine the needle slipping into your arm,” Mertz warned. “They say it’s better than Old Sparky. Hey, Suarez, remember when that guy went to the chair and his hair caught fire?”

“Yeah. Why the hell he had hair at an electrocution, I don’t know,” Suarez replied, shaking his head. “They say the needle is much better. They say you’re unconscious before the heart goes into agony and the lungs shut down. But imagine what it must be like. Being strapped down. Feeling the needle. Knowing what’s going on.”

“For the last time, I didn’t murder anyone, don’t you get that?” Victor demanded.

“Was murdering a real woman kind of like chopping up that mannequin? Or are you going to tell us you didn’t do that, either?” Mertz demanded.

“I need a lawyer,” Victor said.

“You’re not under arrest,” Mertz said.

“Because you don’t have any evidence, do you, assholes?” Victor demanded, standing. His temper had finally burst. “I’m out of here—unless you think you can arrest me.”

Mertz grinned. “In that case, you’re under arrest.”

“For murder?” Victor asked incredulously.

“Theft,” Suarez said with a shrug.

“What?” Victor said.

“The mannequin,” Mertz said.

“But I didn’t steal the mannequin,” Victor protested.

“You broke it up and dumped it, right? Your friend Genevieve told Gonzalez all about it,” Suarez reminded him.

“And she was going to pay for it, and no charges were going to be filed,” Victor reminded them.

Suarez smiled grimly. “Imagine that. She was going to pay for it. Miss Wallace. She’s a good friend, buddy. A real good friend. But she can’t save you now. Trust me, we will find out the truth.”

“If you want the truth, you should be out there looking for it. If you want to arrest me, do it—and get me a damned lawyer. If not, I’m leaving.”

“We are going to arrest you,” Mertz said.

Victor groaned.

“We’ve gotten the shopkeeper to file charges,” Suarez informed him.

Victor slumped back into his seat.

“That is bullshit,” he informed them.

“Hey, the mannequin was stolen. It was in your cottage. Miss Wallace found you breaking it up. Is that what you really wanted to do with the women you killed, Victor? Slice them up?”

“I didn’t kill anyone,” Victor said.

“We think you did. We think there are more.”

“You think. You think! Think whatever you want, but you don’t have anything on me—you can’t have anything on me—because I didn’t do it.” Was this how most confessions were obtained? Torture was no longer legal, so he’d heard, but with both these guys right on top of him…

Shit. He could begin to question his own sanity.

“But you did steal the mannequin,” Mertz said.

“No, I didn’t.”

“You just chopped it up. Murdered it. Like you murdered those hookers.”

“If I’m under arrest, I want a lawyer. Now.”

“You should talk to us. We can get you a deal, keep you from the needle. No matter how many hookers you’ve killed,” Mertz said.

Victor gritted his teeth. “I want a lawyer. Now. I know my rights.” An idea occurred to him. “Hey, you guys forgot to read me my Miranda rights.”

Score one for him. The detectives stared at each other.

Mertz began to drone out the Miranda rights.

Damn Genevieve. What had made her feel she had to go to Jay, confess that they had ditched the mannequin? She couldn’t have known it would come to this. Still…

His hands twitched.

He fought the urge to throttle her.

Because everyone was talking, because everything was such a disaster, Genevieve had suggested they all get showered and cleaned up and come over to her house.

“A party?” Bethany had asked incredulously.

“No! But the police said they’re going to question us, so they can find us all there.”

The look on Thor’s face had indicated that he wasn’t fond of the idea, but she had already spoken. And so, by the late afternoon, they had all gathered at her place.

They talked in circles. “So what do you think Marshall having disappeared has to do with all this?” Alex asked.

“I wonder why they haven’t called the rest of us in,” Bethany murmured.

“I wonder why the hell they’re keeping Victor so long,” Jack mused aloud.

“I’m going to call the station and find out what’s going on,” Genevieve said, starting to rise.

Thor, at her side, placed a hand on hers. “What do you think?” he asked dully.

“They can’t seriously suspect Victor,” she said, horrified.

“They can,” Brent said, leaning forward. “Genevieve, Victor knew the woman you found.”

“So what? That’s just circumstantial. I think.”

“Right. And Victor would be smarter. He would have done a better job getting rid of the body,” Bethany said.

“Bethany!” Genevieve protested angrily.