Authors: Jenna Byrnes
Tags: #Erotic Romance Fiction
She gazed at him levelly. “That’s what I meant by ‘can’t recall if I saw her leave’.”
Dix smiled. “You’re sure it was her? She doesn’t look her best in this photo, but it could be very important to the case if you saw her.”
“I’m positive. One hundred per cent, no doubt.”
“And if we needed you to describe the men she was with, do you think you might be able to do that?”
“Probably, some details, anyway. Might be easier if you found her friends and asked them. They got a better look at the fellas.”
“We’re hoping to do that. You don’t recall who paid the tab, do you? A credit card receipt would be amazing.”
“We weren’t that busy. I might be able to figure it out. Had to be one of them at that table. Sit tight, I’ll go pull the records.” She glanced up as a delivery man entered through the back.
“Hey, Marge. Finally Friday!”
“Like that means shit to me. I work the whole goddamned weekend. Gimme some extra longneck bottles, will you, Adam? The Royals have a three game away series this weekend, so we’ll have a crowd.”
“You got it.” He glanced at Dix and Mac for a second before turning and leaving.
Dix looked at his partner. “Recognise him?”
“Our beefy delivery boy from Last Call the other day.”
Marge returned with some receipts.
“Hey, Marge, what company does your beer deliveries?” Dix asked.
“Wilson Beverage Distributors. Why?”
“No reason.” He glanced at Mac. “You want to go through those with her? I’m going to step out and make a call.”
“You got it.” Mac turned back to the bar.
Dix moved to the front sidewalk and phoned Peyton at the office. “Hey, Nick, it’s Dix.”
“Hey there. Thanks for the coffee.”
“You bet. Need some info, please. Wilson Beverage Distributors services O’Malley’s Pub and Last Chance Bar and Grille. Both those places have the same route, driver by the name of Adam something. Blond curly hair, about twenty-five. Find out his route, and see if they service any of the other bars our vics were last seen at, would you?”
“I’m on it.”
“Thanks, man.” He ended the call and returned to Mac and Marge.
“Got a couple possibilities here,” Mac told him. “Stephanie Marcus and Beverly Baldwin. One of them is either our vic or her friend.”
“Excellent.” They jotted down notes and thanked Marge before leaving the pub.
“You can thank me by coming back, sweetie!” She winked at Dix.
“You are trouble.” He pointed at her, grinning. “I swore an oath I’d stay away from trouble if at all possible.”
The woman was cackling when they walked out.
Mac shook his head. “Why do women always go for the gay guys?”
Dix shrugged. “I dunno, but you wouldn’t want her to go for you, would you? Not exactly your type.”
“You’re right. My type has rapidly thinning hair and pukes at least three times a day. God, I love that woman.” He patted his heart.
“You’re a good man, Mac.” They climbed in his Navigator and Dix drove back to the station.
Peyton met them at the door of the homicide division. “Hey, good catch on Wilson Beverages. Adam Reese happens to be the delivery driver for each of the four restaurants or bars our victims were last seen at.”
Dix raised his brows. “Well, isn’t that a co-inky-dink?”
Mac tacked a photo of the driver on their evidence board. “I don’t think there’s any coincidence to it. I suspected the kid right from the beginning. He’s real beefed up, like he works out a lot.”
Dix looked at Peyton. “He hauls kegs and cases of beer for a living.”
Mac shook his head. “I don’t think that’s the only thing he hauls around. I say we go talk to Mr Adam Reese.”
Peyton held out a slip of paper. “He’ll be hard to pin down until about four-thirty. Here’s the warehouse address. Reese drives a silver Dodge Ram.”
Dix snatched the paper. “We’ll plan to meet him there at four-thirty, then. Nice work, Nick.”
“No problem. If you need anything else, just ask. Until then, I’ll be behind my computer screen, going over every detail of these women’s lives.” He kept talking as he walked away. “Madison Ames worked out at Curves every day on her lunch hour. Donna Reitz went to Max Fitness three days a week after work. Norma Lear loathed exercise and seemed to maintain her nice figure by the grace of God. Those were her mother’s words. She’s Jewish, in case you couldn’t tell.”
“So no similarities there.” Dix looked at the women’s photos. “Were the other two Jewish?”
“Nope. One Catholic and one who didn’t go to church.”
“Okay, then, keep at it. I know it’s tedious…”
“But important,” Peyton agreed. “I know.”
They all got to work, but Dix took a moment to call Bryan’s cell.
“Hello?” The sexy voice sent a shiver down Dix’s spine.
“Hey, handsome. How’s your day going?”
“Better now! I was thinking about you, actually. Wondering what time you got off tonight.”
Dix chuckled, and Bryan realised what he’d said. “I meant
. Anytime you get off after that will be strictly under my control.”
“Oh yeah? Sounds kinky. Well, usually five to five-thirty, but tonight we have to go talk to someone at four-thirty so I might be later. I can call you when I know for sure.”
“That’s fine. When I hear from you, I’ll leave and meet you at my place. I thought I’d bring some food from here, if that works for you.”
“Perfect. Have a good afternoon.”
“Not much chance of that. We’re working the case of victim number four today.”
“Ugh. Sorry. Catch the bastard, will ya?”
“That’s the plan. Talk to you later.”
Dix ended the call and thought about him for a moment. Bryan had said they were so much alike it was scary. Dix didn’t find it scary, he actually found it amazing. And he couldn’t wait to see where the relationship might go.
* * * *
Shortly after four, he and Mac drove to the Wilson Beverages warehouse parking lot and kept their eyes on the silver truck. Abby phoned his cell and he spoke to her while they waited.
“Stephanie Marcus is our girl. Her father and her friend Beverly just made a positive ID. I sent them over to your place, Peyton and the captain are going to interview them.”
“Great. I’ll touch base with them when we’re done here.”
“Dix, a couple more things. I definitely got skin under her fingernails, so she must have scratched the guy. Also, and this is new, there were traces of semen this time. Not much, so I suspect the condom broke or something like that. But we have the sucker’s DNA now.”
“Excellent. Nice work, Ab.”
“Thanks. Last bit of business is kind of odd. The unis found a cigarette butt near the body. A Camel Non-filter. I ran the DNA and it belongs to Stephanie.”
“So she was a smoker. Some people still are.”
“Not according to her friend. But she smoked that one.”
“You saying the perp made her smoke it before he burned her with the lit end?”
“That’s what I’m thinking.”
“This guy’s getting stranger by the minute.”
“I know it. Just hoping it’ll all make sense when you catch him and the story unfolds.”
“Easy as that. All right, then. Talk later.”
“Yep.” She disconnected the call.
He looked at Mac. “Perp left his DNA this time. Semen and he might have a scratch somewhere. Abby thinks he made this one smoke a cigarette before he burnt her with it.”
“Weird-ass fuck wipe.”
“Exactly what I was thinking. Vic was Stephanie Marcus. Peyton’s getting ready to interview her dad and a friend.”
Mac nodded. “We’ve got to stop this guy. He’s out of control.”
They both snapped to attention when their suspect approached his truck. “Here we go.” Dix opened his door.
“Adam Reese?” They approached him cautiously. “KCPD. We’d like to talk to you.”
Reese froze, his expression contorted in a mix of confusion and fear.
Dix glanced at the man’s arm and saw three small scratches, parallel, as if they’d come from fingernails. As the facts sank in, Reese turned and ran.
“We got a runner!” Mac yelled.
“Take the car!” Dix tossed his keys to his partner. He ran daily and might have a shot at catching the younger man. Mac probably wouldn’t.
“Got it, I’ll call it in.”
Dix took off, his partner’s voice echoing behind him. “This is unit twenty-two, we have a suspect on foot in the thirteen hundred block of Adams, heading west. One officer in pursuit.”
Reese had a block lead, and the kid showed no signs of slowing.
Dix’s adrenaline kicked in and he closed the gap between them. “KCPD,” he shouted. “Freeze.”
The man glanced over his shoulder but kept going. He took a left at the first alley and disappeared.
Dix rounded the corner and spotted him again. The next intersection would be a busy street with lots of rush hour traffic. He wanted to stop the man before they reached it. A foot chase on a busy sidewalk would be hell. “Freeze!” he yelled again.
Reese looked back once more, and when he turned around again he ran directly into Dix’s Navigator that Mac had just whipped in from the other end of the alley.
The kid rolled over the hood and landed on his back.
Dix and Mac reached him at the same time, weapons drawn. “Stay down,” Mac ordered.
Dix holstered his gun and cuffed the suspect. He tried to resume normal breathing but had to gasp a couple of times to catch his breath. He finally muttered, “What the hell, man? We just wanted to talk to you. Now you’re under arrest.”
“I didn’t do anything,” Reese protested.
“Then why did you run?”
No answer, just a sullen stare.
Dix raised Reese’s left arm. “How’d you get the scratches?”
“It was just an argument. I said I was sorry. Sent her flowers, even. I know she didn’t call the cops.”
“Stephanie Marcus? No she didn’t, because she’s dead. And we’ve got your DNA under her fingernails from this injury.”
Reese’s face went pale. “Stephanie Marcus? Who’s that?”
“Your last victim.” Mac took the suspect by the handcuffs and shoved him towards the patrol car that had just joined them.
“Victim? What?” Reese looked terrified as they guided him into the backseat of the vehicle.
“Read him his rights,” Mac told the uniformed officer.
Dix rubbed a hand over the dent in the hood of his Navigator.
His partner returned to stand beside him. “Is it bad?”
“Nah. Nothing the body shop can’t knock out.”
“I should have held on to my ’72 Ford construction truck. That puppy was made of steel, not fiberglass. Woulda taken more than a scrawny kid to dent that thing.” Mac got in the passenger seat.
Dix climbed behind the wheel and glanced over at him. “No doubt. Were the floorboards rusted out so you could see the road beneath your feet as you drove? My old man had one the same way.”
“Well, yeah, but a nice floor mat covered that up.”
“Right.” Dix chuckled and drove back to the Wilson Beverages parking lot. They waited for the crime scene unit to arrive and search the truck before impounding it. He drove them back to the station and glanced at his watch. Nearly six o’clock. “I need to make a quick call.”
Mac nodded. “Me too.” They went their separate ways.
Dix dialled Bryan’s number.
“Hey, sexy,” the man answered.
“One word of advice. If anything happened to me, and someone wanted to notify you, they’d use my phone to call.”
Bryan chuckled. “Oh, shit. Point taken. Second rule about being friends with a cop?”
“You could say that. But I think we’re quickly moving past the ‘friends’ business, don’t you? I haven’t stopped thinking about you all damned day. Well, except for that time I was chasing a suspect through an alley. My mind was kind of occupied then.”
“You chased a suspect? Oh, my God, Dix, are you okay?” His tone sounded amazed and terrified, all at the same time.
Dix was touched. “I’m fine, but I’m pleased that you asked.”
“You got him, then?”
“We have a suspect in custody, yes, which is the reason for my call. I need to question the man. I’m not sure tonight is going to happen.”
“Oh, it’s going to happen all right. Just might not be the schedule we’d outlined. Call me when you’re done, I don’t care what time it is. I’ll wait up for you.”
His heart filled with warmth. “Sounds nice. I’ve gotta go, but I’ll check back when I can. And Bryan? Thanks.”
“Don’t thank me, I haven’t done anything.
His voice grew husky. “Later, you can thank me. I know I’ll be thanking you.”
Laughing, Dix ended the call. He met Mac in the hallway outside the number one interrogation room, which had a large two way mirror. Peyton and the captain were there, studying Reese, who was handcuffed to the single table in the room.
Alvarez looked at him. “Abby wants this guy’s DNA ASAP to process it and see if we have a match. Instant test results aren’t conclusive, but should be enough to hold him if we’ve got a partial match.”
Dix nodded. “Is there a CSI tech around to do the swab?”
“Yes. You get him to agree, and we’ll send one in.”
“Okay.” Dix straightened his jacket. “We’ll start there.” He entered the small room. The mirror took up a good portion of one whole wall. The others were bare. He looked at Reese. “I’m Detective Dixon. I’ll remove those cuffs if you promise to behave yourself.”
“I know who you are. And I haven’t done anything,” Reese insisted.
Dix unfastened the cuffs and dropped them in his pocket. He sat in the chair opposite the suspect. “If that’s the case, why did you run? Innocent people don’t usually take off like that.”
Reese sighed. “I panicked. I got pulled over by the Sedalia police a few nights ago for suspicion of DUI. I didn’t get a ticket, they just gave me a warning.”
“DUIs are bad, but if it’s your first you wouldn’t do jail time.”
“I drive a truck for a living. My boss has a zero tolerance policy. One DUI and my job is history.”
“So you thought we were coming to talk to you about your traffic stop? Seriously?”
He shrugged. “I didn’t know. Like I said, I panicked.”