Artwork by Calli
The Nearest Distant Shore
by Little Mac
Chapter 1: Just Another Manic Monday
The incessant chirping of the phone on her bedside table woke Kate from her coma-like sleep.
“Mmrph Hello?” she asked, trying to shake the cobwebs from her brain.
“Kathryn did you plan on joining us at work today or do I need to reschedule your appointments?”
“Shit, what time is it Maria?”
Kathryn groaned. “I’ll be in, just a late night working on the Hawthorne house. Cover for me until I get there, will ya?”
“Make it quick. Mr. Peterson has already been in once looking for you.”
“Did he say what he wanted?”
“No, he just thought you’d be here by now. I’ll stall him if he comes back. Now get out of bed and get a move on.”
Kate swung her short legs over the side of the bed and walked to the closet. “Let’s see, board meeting at 10, better wear something conservative,” she muttered to herself as she plucked a navy blue pin stripe suit and a white silk blouse from the bar. Grabbing her blue pumps from the shelf she headed for the bathroom.
Shucking her Marvin the Martian boxer shorts and skimpy tank top, she hurriedly slid on a chemise, pulled on the silk shirt, and tucked it into the skirt. Glancing around the bathroom, she tried to remember where she had left her stockings. Not finding them, she ran a brush through her waist length platinum blond hair and quickly brushed her teeth.
A frantic search of the room refused to divulge the location of the elusive stockings. Finding an old pair of black hose she wondered if she could get away with a fashion faux pas. Any day but today, she thought. That witch of a Vice-President Sheridan Daniels would point it out in her oh so subtle, don’t you know how to dress at your age, way. She would probably do it in front of the entire board, knowing her. Kathryn didn’t know what the woman had against her, but she was getting very tired of her attitude.
Stepping into the livingroom she saw the blueprints she’d worked on until 2 a.m. laying shredded on the dining room floor, the cardboard tube now just wet brown wads on the carpet. Fighting back the urge to break into tears, she calmly picked up her cell phone from the table as she walked across the room and booted her PC. She was glad she’d worked out the designs on the laptop before committing them to paper.
“Peterson, Peterson, and Boyd. Kathryn Peterson’s office,” Maria said as Kate walked into her small kitchen. Pouring water in the coffee maker, she answered.
“Maria this is Kate, I’ve got a slight problem here; well, actually, several. Casey ate my blueprints; I’m emailing them to you now. Get graphics to print them priority one; I need them by 9:30.”
Searching the shelves in her refrigerator and not finding any coffee, she turned to the pantry and pulled out a new can of Folgers.
“Okay, coming through to me now,” Maria said. “I’m forwarding it to graphics with a red flag. Now what else can I help you with?”
Sliding the can under the opener, she inhaled deeply as the rich aroma of the newly released coffee assailed her nostrils.
“Would you mind going into the tunnel and buying me a pair of stockings? I’m wearing my blue pin stripe suit so try to get navy or maybe a sheer color. Oh and in a petite please, regulars just bunch up at my ankles.”
“Sure, no problem. Anything else?”
“Umm, let me think.” She turned, can in hand, and tripped over Casey, falling to her knees and watching her coffee fly across the kitchen. “Jesus Christ,” she hollered to the dog, “Why the hell do you have to sneak up on me all the damn time? Now look what you’ve done! I’m already late, you ate my project, and now I have no coffee! Sometimes I wonder why I don’t have you stuffed!”
The tawny colored Cocker Spaniel looked at her with a mix between shock and chagrin. The apologetic expression was soon lost as she took in the position of her owner and decided that what she really needed was a sloppy kiss.
Reaching down to scratch the pup’s ears she said, “You know I didn’t mean any of that right? You know I love you, don’t you?” A resounding lick followed by an intense butt wag was her answer. Patting her one last time, she stood and retrieved the cell phone from the floor.
Hearing Maria’s excited voice saying hello repeatedly, she chuckled. “I’m here Maria; guess you should put some coffee on to brew as well.”
“Geez what was that racket? You scared ten years out of me!”
“Just Casey deciding that a full can of coffee would look good on my parquet floors. Anyway, I can’t think of anything else, just the hose. I’m going to make a quick stop at the neighbors then I’ll be there. Give me a call in the car if you need anything.”
“Okay Kathryn just hurry!”
Glancing at her watch she had to stop herself from breaking into a dead run. “Damn,” she muttered. She was going to be so late. Knocking on little Timmy’s door, she pleaded silently for the boy to hurry. The door opened and she quickly asked the youngster if he’d walk Casey.
“For five I will.” Timmy stated.
“Yeah, yeah okay,” she said as she dug in her purse for her wallet. Finding it, she pulled the last of her cash out and handed him the five and a spare key to her apartment. “For an extra ten would you clean up the coffee grounds on the kitchen floor and the paper she shredded in the dining room?”
Spying the 20 he said, “Nope but I’ll do it for 20.”
Sighing, she handed over the last bill in her wallet and asked if he knew what extortion was.
“Nope never heard of it,” he said grinning at her.
Tousling his curly red hair, she smiled at him and took off for the elevator.
Unlocking the door to her Mercedes 450 SL convertible, she glanced at her watch again; she was going to have to hurry. Easing into the stream of traffic headed downtown on I45 she flipped the CD player off to catch the traffic report. Tuning into Mix 96 she listened to the banter between her favorite morning DJ’s as Larry was telling Schelby what his wife thought of his drag routine for the movie marathon that they’d hosted the previous day on the WB network. Kate had caught part of their act and had to admit it been humorous.
The traffic and weather report began blaring from the radio when the car beside her had a blowout and slammed into the car next to it. Shaken but happy that she hadn’t been hit, she continued on, glad that it hadn’t happened before she got there. Houston traffic was a bitch every morning, but when the idiots played bumper tag it made her wish she could stand to ride the busses.
Pulling out her cell phone, she dialed the office.
“Peterson, Peterson and Boyd,” came Maria’s much-too-chipper-for-a-Monday-morning voice.
“Maria, this is Kathryn. I’m almost there. Did dad come back? Did graphics bring the plans up yet? Do I have any urgent messages?”
Nope, no urgent messages for you yet. Yes, your father came back, I told him you were stuck in traffic but on your way. Yes, graphics delivered the plans. I got your stockings and there is a rather tight-lipped young man sitting here with a packet of papers waiting on you. How much longer until you get here?”
“Tight lipped? Meaning you don’t know what he’s doing there or he won’t tell you what he’s delivering?”
“Exactly. Said he had to deliver these papers to you personally and he’d wait. He’s sitting in your office tapping his foot against your desk.”
“I’m pulling into the parking garage now; I’m going to stop off at Starbucks in the tunnel and grab a cup of coffee then I’ll be up. Perhaps the nice young man would like a cup of coffee?”
“Perhaps he would, and if he asks I’ll point him towards the coffee pot.”
Chuckling, Kathryn said, “Tsk, tsk, now Maria act nice. I’m sure he would appreciate a little hospitality.”
“Maybe he would get that if he would at least say what company sent him here or what his business is.”
Kathryn had to laugh; she knew Maria’s curiosity was eating her up. She wasn’t the gossip queen of the Architectural firm for nothing. If she couldn’t get any information from this man, she had to be seething.
“Maria, I’m getting on the elevator. I’ll be there in 10.”
Shouldering her purse and laptop, she exited the elevator on the ground floor of the Chase Center and quickly traversed the lobby to the escalators.
The most magnificent thing about downtown Houston was the tunnel system. It stretched for miles in all directions and had just about anything and everything you could imagine from doctor’s offices to restaurants and shopping. Stepping off the escalator, she threaded her way through the early morning pedestrians and made a beeline for Starbucks. Seeing the long line, she changed directions and headed for the Wall Street Deli.
At least one thing was turning out right, she thought, as she handed over her MasterCard, forgetting she had spent her cash on housecleaning and dog walking. Signing the charge slip and picking up her coffee cup, she turned and ran straight into Mitchell. Juggling purse and laptop she tried to remain standing, and watched helplessly as her coffee fell to the floor, splattering her shoes and legs with the steaming liquid.
“Dammit Mitchell what the hell are you doing standing so close?”
“Hey it’s not my fault daddy’s little protégé can’t put one foot in front of the other.” Mitchell said.
“I am not Daddy’s ‘little protégé’, you pompous bastard. I worked my way up just like everyone else. Perhaps if you’d stop trying to score brownie points and actually do some work you might be able to move beyond junior executive. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do, not to mention cleaning up yet another of your messes,” she stated, looking at her legs and shoes.
For Kathryn Peterson, the week was not starting out well.
Morgan moaned as she reached out to silence the beeping of her alarm clock. “Ugh I can’t believe I set the damn thing on my day off,” she muttered to herself.
Rolling over and stretching her 6-foot frame out across the California King, she decided a shower and coffee then a nice 8 mile run along the beach would be just the thing to start her Monday off on the right note.
Sliding out of bed and stepping over the black lab/rott mix rug stretched out on the floor, she glanced out the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Orient Bay beach. Waves were gently lapping the light tan sand as the barest hint of a breeze stirred the sea grass growing along the edge of her property. Turning away from the window, she reached down and stroked the belly of her sleeping pup. “Come on J.D., let’s go get the coffee started and see to your breakfast. What do you think about joining your old mom for a jog to the Sound?”
Morgan smirked at the dog, “Guess I’ll take that as a yes?”
Morgan reached into her closet for the hunter green colored silk robe hanging on its hook and slid it over her nude body. Padding her way to the kitchen she asked the dog, “Were you a good girl for Mildred while I was away or did you eat all her coffee table books again?”
J.D. looked up at her with soulful eyes bright and innocent, “Woof?”
“Yeah, woof to you too. Guess you got her again huh?” she asked as she scratched the dog’s head. “What am I going to do with you? Looks like we get to make another trip to Prestons to buy her some more huh?”
“Yeah, bet you wouldn’t be so happy about it if I started taking that expense out of your rawhide allowance, now would you.”
Properly chastised, J.D. laid down on the blond hardwood floor by the island watching Morgan getting the coffee beans out of the freezer, ever alert to the possibility of some stray piece of food escaping her mom’s grasp. As Morgan closed the freezer door and moved to the grinder, J.D. exhaled a small “whuff,” realizing nothing was coming her way this morning. Reaching in the fridge for milk Morgan realized she’d have to make a trip to the A&P as well; the cupboards were bare.
As Morgan waited for the coffee to brew, she took stock of the house. She was glad to see that Tessa had been in to clean and dust over the weekend. She’d been gone longer than usual this time, almost a month, but was pleased to see everything tidy. She had gotten in so late the night before, or actually early this morning, she had barely taken her clothes off before falling limply into bed. She almost missed the whisk of the doggie door signaling J.D.’s arrival before Morpheus swept her away.
Leaning against the island, she let her mind wander to the events of the past month. Her latest assignment had been mentally, as well as physically, exhausting. This case was dragging on longer than any in recent memory. She had no idea when she decided on this line of work that chasing serial killers across the country would be so time consuming or mentally draining.
Shaking off her thoughts she filled her mug with the rich smelling French Vanilla coffee she had picked up from Starbuck’s, and walked into the master bath to start the shower running. Slipping out of her robe and cocking a cynical eyebrow, she appraised herself in the full-length mirror on the back of the door. “Not too bad, a few bruises and scrapes but mostly none the worse for wear, though I could use a little TLC right about now.” She whispered as her thoughts drifted to Megan.
She was still having a hard time adjusting to Megan’s’ sudden departure; even though it had been 6 months there were times when it felt like yesterday. Coming home from a 2-week stint at Quantico to find a note on the kitchen table had left her without the closure she needed. Short and to the point, that was Megan. Although after 2 years together, Morgan expected a little more than, “I can’t take this anymore, I need you here with me, not always running off to God knows where. Don’t come looking for me I don’t want to see you again, I just need to get on with my life. Megan”
Setting her mug on the counter and opening the glass shower door, Morgan stepped under the steaming water.
Kathryn sighed as she stepped on the escalator leading to the Chase Tower. Sometimes she really hated her life. If wishes came true, she’d live on a remote island with no phones or electricity. Reality, though, is never as kind as wishes, and as such, Kathryn found herself at 22 being the youngest architect at her Daddy’s firm. Now at 28, she saw no way out of the life that was slowly draining all the vitality from her. She’d had the usual struggles with junior execs like Mitchell belittling her abilities, and the partner-want-to-be’s trying to get in good with the boss’s daughter to advance their own careers. Kathryn felt she’d been fighting an uphill battle from the beginning, and it showed no signs of relenting.
Biting her lower lip to keep from falling into a depressive funk, she reached out and pressed the button on the elevator for the 70th floor. She watched with a satisfied smile as Mitchell ran for the door and it closed in his face.
She exited the elevator on the top floor and walked down the long hallway to her office.
“Good morning Maria, where are the hose?”
“Good morning Kathryn.” Maria smiled as she handed over the package. “You might want to do this in the bathroom; that man is still in your office.”
“Mmm good point, I’ll be right back. Can you get me a cup of coffee and spread out the plans for the Hawthorne house on the drafting table? I want to take a look before the meeting.” Kathryn deposited her laptop on Maria’s desk and dug the key for the executive washroom from her purse.
“Sure thing.” Maria answered to Kathryn’s retreating back as the young architect exited the office.
Unlocking the door and setting the package on the counter, she reached for the paper towels. Wetting them in the sink, she leaned over and slipped her pumps off. Wiping the sticky mess from her legs she thought, well at least I wasn’t wearing hose, which would have made it even worse. She finished with her legs and feet and wetting more towels in the sink began scrubbing the coffee from her shoes.
Kathryn had her skirt pulled up and was adjusting the top of the hose when Sheridan walked in.
“Not enough hours in the day for you to get dressed at home Katie?” Sheridan asked sarcastically.
“Oh plenty of time for that,” Kathryn replied sweetly, “Some of us even sleep in our own beds.”
“What a pity you poor dear, can’t get anyone to spend time with you?”
“You know Sheridan, that’s never been a problem for me. Least I don’t have to pay people to spend time in my presence.” Whoa Kate, claws in, she thought. No sense taking your bad day out on her, you’ll just make it worse for yourself in the meeting. Sheridan was one of the deciding factors on the Hawthorne house and she didn’t need her making waves on this project.
“I’m sorry Sheridan, it’s been a bad morning, and I didn’t mean to insult you. Please forgive me.”
“Humph, you meant what you said, no sense in apologizing for it. I just hope for your sake you did better than your usual mediocre job on the Hawthorne house.” Score one for me, thought Sheridan as she watched Kathryn’s face fall.
“Well, you have a nice day too Sheridan.” Kate replied, walking out of the bathroom.
“God I hate that woman.” Kate muttered as she walked back to her office. “What in the hell did I ever do to her?”
Sheridan had it in for Kathryn since her father turned down the marriage proposal she’d offered him. She couldn’t get to him so she’d taken to venting her hostilities on Kathryn. The bad part was, she liked the kid. She was an excellent architect and she’d worked hard for her position. Henry Peterson didn’t believe in promoting anyone not worth his or her salt, and Kathryn had proven herself worthy of her penthouse floor office many times over. She hated to admit it to herself, but she was excited to see what Kathryn had come up with for the Hawthorne house. She knew whatever it was it would be good and the owners would love it. Everyone loved Kathryn’s designs; the kid had a knack for finding out things people liked and incorporating them into the final plans.
Kathryn breezed past Maria’s desk with a slight frown creasing her brow. She opened the door to her office and came to a quick stop, startled by the young man standing there.
“Ms.Peterson?” He asked in a deep soothing voice.
Glancing at the man now towering over her, she said, “Yes and you are?”
“Sorry, my name is David, David Adams. I’m from the law firm downstairs. I have some papers I need to go over with you if you can spare a few minutes.”
Looking at her watch, she sipped her coffee and moved to the designs on her drafting table as she answered, “I’ve got five minutes for you then I have to be in a meeting. Can you cover it in that amount of time?”
“No ma’am but I can wait until your meeting is over, that is if you can see me after that.”
“How long is this going to take?” she inquired.
“Probably an hour at least. It concerns the inheritance your aunt left you in her will.”
“Whose will?” she asked, flipping through the plan pages.
“I’d really rather wait until we can go over this all at once. Can you see me after your meeting?”
“Yeah I have the rest of the day open unless I have to change any of the designs. Do you want to wait here or should I call you? The meeting shouldn’t take more than an hour and a half at most.”
“If you don’t mind I’d like to wait. I’m heading out of town as soon as I finish here; if I go back to my office they’ll try to keep me there.” He chuckled.
She grinned in return. “I know how you feel, it happens to me all the time. Make yourself comfortable. Would you like some coffee or something while you wait?”
“No thank you, I’ll be fine.”
“Okay.” she said, rolling up the blueprints and slipping her jacket on. “If you change your mind ask my secretary Maria; she’ll get anything you need. I’ll try to rush the meeting along.” Pulling her hair from under her collar, she walked away.
“Whew Maria you neglected to mention he was so cute,” she whispered as she breezed past the secretary’s desk.
“Humph well I didn’t think so!”
“That’s only because he wouldn’t give you any information. By the way, he’s from the law firm on the 17th floor and he’s here to talk about some will or something like that. I told him if he wanted coffee, you’d get it for him, so be nice. Maybe I can get a date out of this; he is so fine.” She muttered dreamily.
“Ack! Get to your meeting; I’ll take care of your potential suitor.”
Grinning, Kathryn walked into the large conference room.
Morgan turned off the water and stepped from the shower. Reaching for the extra long bath towel hanging on the rod, she briskly dried her deeply tanned skin and long raven hair. She looked in the mirror, and with a critical eye, she studied her face. She had small laugh lines starting to show around her intense blue eyes and a dimple accenting her strong jaw line. Her white teeth were set off by her tan and framed by soft full lips. She had a natural beauty that never needed help from cosmetics. Pleased with what she saw she ran her brush through her hair and grabbing her robe stalked naked back to the bedroom.
The phone rang as she was taking her jogging clothes from the dresser.
“Morgan, thank God you’re home. I woke up this morning and J.D. was gone. I thought I’d lost your dog.” Mildred’s voice sounded relieved.
“Nope, she’s here with me.” Morgan pulled on her panties and Speedo’s. “She showed up early this morning; I guess she heard the truck pulling in.”
“Good, good. Well you’ll never guess what’s been going on while you were gone.” Mildred was off and running.
With a sigh, Morgan wedged the phone between her shoulder and ear as she bent over and pulled her socks and tennis shoes on. Mildred could gossip for hours and knowing she was in no danger of stopping anytime soon, Morgan laid the phone on the bed and pulled her black sports bra over her head. Pulling her waist length hair out of the bra she walked to the dresser and thought about whether she should put on a tank top. Deciding she was more covered than most of the women on the beach, she put the shirt back and retrieved the phone.
“Mildred I hate to cut you short but I was on my way out. We’ll catch up when I bring your new coffee table books by okay?”
“Okay dear. She only got one this time, the ‘Lighthouses of the East Coast’ book you got me for Christmas.”
“I’ll stop by Prestons and pick you up a new copy in a few days. Talk to you later, and thanks for keeping the baby for me.”
“Baby? Humph that’s no baby dear, that’s a mini horse!” Mildred giggled and hung up the phone.
Morgan ran through a few warm up exercises before grabbing J.D.’s Frisbee and pulling the sliding door open to step out on the deck. Calling through the open patio door to her bedroom for the dog, she looked out over the bay watching the sunrise over the brownish water of the Atlantic. J.D. nuzzled her hand and she closed the door, breaking into a light run once she hit the sand.
Walking around the large mahogany table to the projection machine, Kathryn leaned down and whispered in her father’s ear.
“Sorry about this morning, Daddy. I had a late night working on the plans. Wish me luck.”
Henry squeezed her arm. “You don’t need any luck; I’m sure you’ll knock their socks off.”
Kathryn turned and smiled at the Hawthorne’s. “Good morning. I’ve added a few things to the design I think you’ll like. They don’t alter the outside appearance but they do take advantage of some interior dead space. I’ve also made some changes to the kitchen and master bathroom.”
She motioned the projectionist to dim the lights and started her presentation.
“Mr. Hawthorne, your wife indicated to me that you had an interest in the hidden tunnels and passageways of the White House. I’ve taken the liberty of adding a hidden stairway that leads from the downstairs study into an upstairs private study/office. The upstairs addition,” she pointed at the screen, “Can’t be seen from outside or inside the house and unless you know where the stairway entrance is located there is no other access. To this end, I’ve incorporated a safe built into the wall as well as electronic surveillance equipment and stereo/T.V. systems. If the power to the house is cut for any reason, this room is self-sustaining. It has it’s own small generator capable of running the outside lights and security cameras along with a hard wired panic button to the local police department in case of a break in.”
Kathryn ran through the additional changes and took her seat as the conference room lights came up; looking at the couple across from her, she held her breath waiting for their opinion.
“Katie,” Sheridan spoke, “This is simply unacceptable; the plans you designed will put us way over budget. Where do these hair-brained ideas of yours come from?” She asked incredulously.
“Kathryn. Sheridan, my name is Kathryn.” God she hated it when that bitch called her Katie. She’d always hated the name Katie; it made her sound like she was 5. “The actual cost of the room will add five thousand to the budget and the cost of the generator, safe, and surveillance equipment another ten thousand. The decorating costs will be figured when our clients decide what to put in the room.”
Kathryn looked to the Hawthorne’s. ” What do you think, Mr. Hawthorne?”
“I love it Kathryn,” Mr. Hawthorne stated emphatically. “I don’t care if it adds fifty thousand dollars to the budget. Build it. I like the changes to the kitchen and master bath as well. The whole thing is better than I imagined it would be. I want to get started building right away.” He leaned across the table and shook her hand. “You’ve outdone yourself Kathryn. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome Mr. Hawthorne. I hope you enjoy your new house for years to come.”
“I’m sure we will little lady, I’m sure we will.” He shook hands with her father and left the office, followed by the rest of the executives.
Henry raised his voice as Sheridan walked to the door.
“Ms. Daniels join us for a moment please.”
She turned and looked at the unreadable mask that was Henry Peterson’s face. Smiling at him, she said, “Sure Henry, what can I do for you?”
“You can empty out your desk and pick up your severance check from payroll.”
“What? Are you firing me? You have no reason to fire me.”
“I have a reason Ms. Daniels,” Henry said, advancing in her direction. “Your childish antics had the potential to lose this company a multimillion dollar account. You never speak before a client has their say and you never belittle a fellow employee’s work in front of said client. I expected better from one of my senior executives. I’m not going to sit idly by and watch you talk to my employees the way you just did. Now clean out your desk and take that sniveling assistant of yours with you.”
Sheridan stood in shock as the news settled over her, and then turning on her heel stalked from the boardroom.
Henry turned his eyes on his daughter. “Sorry about that Little One, but don’t worry you pulled it right out of the fire. Those prints were the best you’ve ever done, and I am so proud of you,” He said, pulling her into a hug.
“Thanks daddy, I put a lot of work into them. You know she’s going to cause problems don’t you?”
“There’s nothing she can do. I had the tape machine running in here the whole time. I kind of figured she’d be trying more of her games and I’ve reached my limits with that woman.”
Kathryn stood and placed a kiss on her father’s cheek. “I love you daddy.”
“Love you too Little One.”
“I have to run. I have a lawyer sitting in my office. Can we do lunch today?”
“Sure baby let me know when you’re free.”
Grinning, Kathryn walked back to her office.
Morgan enjoyed the early morning solitude the bay beach offered. Most people on the North Fork were either retired older couples or summer people. That was the deciding factor for Morgan when she settled here. She needed solitude and a place she could come and go without too much notice. She hadn’t counted on Mildred and Delores, two of the nosiest old women she’d ever met. Both were widows, having lost their husbands to heart attack and stroke respectively. Now with nothing else to do they watched the comings and goings of the natives.
Morgan smiled as she remembered the day she’d snuck up behind Mildred, gun drawn, when she heard someone breaking into the lab building skirting her property. She figured Mildred would faint dead away at the sight of the six-foot woman training a weapon on her. To Morgan’s surprise, the older woman merely put her hands on her hips and stormed over to her, taking the gun from her hand.
“Are you trying to give me a heart attack young lady?”
“No…uh no ma’am, I was just protecting my property. What are you doing breaking into my building?” Morgan stammered. She’d never had anyone stand up to her the way the hunched over grandmotherly figure standing before her had done. She was shocked to find herself meekly asking if she could have her gun back.
Mildred handed over the gun and raised her eyebrows at Morgan. “Now I wasn’t breaking in young lady I was just taking a look around. No one else has a building on their property and we was just a wondering what you might be a doin’ in there,” she said, gesturing over her shoulder.
“By the by my name is Mildred Tuttle and I live 2 houses down on the left.” Mildred held out her right hand.
Morgan shook her hand and said, “Morgan Sumners, pleased to meet you.”
“Now what might you be hiding in there?” Mildred asked.
“I’m not hiding anything Mildred, I use it for my work; it’s a lab of sorts.”
“A lab you say, what do you do? You some kind of scientist?”
“Well sort of. I work free lance for the government, kind of bounce back and forth between the FBI and the CIA. I do psychological profiling on murderers and kidnappers for the FBI and sometimes I get called in on terrorist activities for the CIA.”
“Well now isn’t that impressive, not mind you, that I know what any of that means, but it sounds impressive. Was wondering what was going on out here when they put this building up. Now how about inviting me in for a cup of tea and showing me what you’ve done with the inside of this house? Sure was a lot of activity going on round here the last few months.”
That confrontation had started a friendship between the two women that spanned almost 5 years. Morgan always left J.D. with Mildred when she had to go off island for work and she trusted Mildred to look after the place in her absence. She knew Mildred would keep an eye out for intruders as well as anything else that might take place while she was gone.
Morgan ended her reverie as she neared the sound and slowed to a walk, waiting for J.D. to catch up. She’d have to increase her time on the way home; she was due for a debriefing at 10:30.
Chapter 2: Lawyers and Wills and Inheritance’s Oh My!
Kathryn walked into her outer office and asked Maria for a cup of coffee before continuing on to her meeting with David.
“Sorry for the delay David. Now what was this about an inheritance and a will?” Kathryn asked.
“Well, as you know your Aunt Janice passed away and she named you as her sole beneficiary. The will has passed probate now and we’re ready to finish the reading and distribution of property. Do you want me to read the entire will or just hit the highlights?”
“What Aunt Janice? I don’t have an Aunt, Janice or otherwise. Both my parents were only children.”
“You are Kathryn Dawn Peterson…only child of Henry and June Peterson?”
“Yes that’s right, but I still don’t have an Aunt,” Kathryn said, somewhat perplexed.
“This is a bit unusual. I don’t quite know what to do here. You do have, or did have an Aunt. Your mother’s sister; her name was Janice Covington.” At the confused look on Kathryn’s face he asked, “This isn’t ringing any bells with you is it?”
“No, I’m afraid not, but if you’ll hold on a minute I know someone who can clear this up immediately,” Kathryn said as she reached for the phone.
“Daddy, can you come to my office? David Adams is here from the law firm downstairs and says I’ve just lost my Aunt Janice and inherited her estate. I’ve tried explaining to him that I don’t have an Aunt but he’s insistent. Can you straighten him out for me? …. Yes we can do that…Okay thanks daddy see you soon.”
Hanging up the phone, she turned back to David. “Come with me. We’re going to meet him in his office.”
David waited as she took the coffee from Maria and followed Kathryn down the long carpeted hallway to a set of dark double doors and into a lavishly decorated office. A stocky gray haired man extended his hand and gestured for them to sit.
“David is it?”
“Uh yes sir it’s David.”
“David, Kathryn tells me Janice died. Is that true?”
“Yes sir, she passed away about a month ago. You weren’t notified either?”
“No David, I wasn’t. Janice and I were never close. After June died, she stopped all contact with the family. We had…differences I guess you could say. I haven’t heard from her in must be 25 years or better. Not since Kathryn was a baby anyway. So you say she passed on and left her estate to Kathryn. Do you have the papers?”
“Yes sir,” David said handing them over to Henry.
Kathryn was stunned; she didn’t even know she had an Aunt, and her dad was going on as if it was no big deal, it was like he didn’t even care. Kathryn didn’t know if she were more upset that he seemed to have no concerns over this whole thing or that he’d kept someone out of her life because they had differences. This was a link to her mother, someone she could have talked to about her death. Maybe even someone that could have been a friend. She felt a profound sadness as she considered what had been lost.
Kathryn’s mother died when she was 2 and nannies and sitters had raised her. Her father had always been a loving presence in her life but he couldn’t be a mother to her. He had never remarried and probably never would, he had told her once that no one would ever live up to her mother in his eyes. Now 26 years later he was still single and still not looking. He loved Kathryn and she knew it, probably more than most fathers. He went to all of her activities growing up and still attended her softball games to this day. She’d never lacked for love and attention growing up and was probably still single herself because of it. Her father had given her an ideal of what married life should be through the tales of his own courtship and marriage to her mother. Kathryn knew if she ever married it would have to be to a man that would love her as much as Henry had loved June.
“Kathryn!” her father said loudly, snapping her from her daydreams.
“Sorry Daddy.” she said a bit sheepishly “I was just trying to remember…” Well, it wasn’t exactly a lie; she had been wondering about her.
“I was saying,” her father continued, ” That this is quite an estate and perhaps you should consult with David’s office to decide what to keep and what to sell off. I hadn’t realized she had amassed the fortune she has, but it appears that you are now worth more than your old man. You’re going to need some sound legal advice on this and I don’t think our lawyers can handle an estate this large.”
“Worth…. Uh, worth more than you?” Kathryn sputtered. “How can that be?”
David cleared his throat, finally something he could cover. “Well, Kathryn, she made some very sound investments. It seems that in the early 80’s she bought quite a large block of stock from a then relatively unknown company called Microsoft and for many years kept reinvesting. During the Internet stock boom earlier this year, she again invested wisely. She had quite varied interests; she liked archeology as well as computers. She acquired a consulting firm and turned it into a thriving enterprise, but she sold that off shortly before her death so that is liquid capital for you. However, I would suggest investing it in your portfolio. We’ve already had the names changed on the stocks as well as the various land deeds. As soon as we get your checking and savings account information, we’ll have your Aunt’s accounts closed and transfer the funds to your existing accounts.”
“Whoa David, slow down, I need time to adjust. You’re saying she left her entire estate to me, an estate worth millions?”
“Well yes, she left the bulk of her estate to you. She donated some of her archeology finds to various museums, but houses, land, cars, stocks and bonds, things like that she left to you.”
“Why? She didn’t know me; how could she just leave me all this stuff? Isn’t there anyone whom she could have left it to besides me?”
“There was another will drawn up splitting everything between you and her lifelong companion Mel Pappas, but Mel preceded her in death so that leaves you her sole beneficiary.”
“Am I under any obligation to keep these things? Can I donate them or sell them?”
“You’re under no obligation to keep any of the items listed in the will. You are free to do anything you want with the property left to you. If I might suggest, you could sell the apartment in Greece and the flat in Cairo, unless you think you would have a use for them. I would keep the stocks and bonds, and reinvest. That property in New York will only increase in value so I suggest keeping that. From what your aunt told me, it was her main residence but it’s a great vacation spot as well. Now this is only my opinion and you don’t have to follow my advice. You’re free to do whatever you like with your inheritance. ”
“Thank you, David. I appreciate your advice; Daddy and I will talk it over and decide what to do. If I have any questions, I’ll call you. In the meantime, if you stop back by my office Maria will give you the account information you need. Close my aunt’s accounts and transfer the funds to my savings account.”
“You’re welcome Ms. Peterson; I’m sorry we had to meet under these circumstances and you have my condolences on the loss of your aunt. I’ll have someone in my office transfer the funds from your aunt’s accounts into yours and when you decide what you’d like to do with the land holdings if you’ll let me know we’ll try to expedite matters. ” David stood and extended his hand to Henry. “Mr. Peterson, I would also like to extend my condolences on the loss of your sister-in-law and I am deeply sorry to have been the one to break this news to you. If there is anything I or anyone in my office can do for you please don’t hesitate to ask.”
“Thank you David; we’ll be in touch.”
David walked from the office and Kathryn closed the door behind him, turning on her father.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked, anger flooding her voice. “I had a right to know I had an aunt. What possible reason did you have to keep her from me?”
“As I told David, we had differences. You’ll just have to trust my judgment on this. I’m not going discuss my decisions with you or anyone. I do what I think is best, then and now. Don’t you dare presume that I do anything on a whim young woman, nor do I expect you to ever question my judgment. Is that understood?”
Kathryn stood stock-still and appraised her father’s reddened face, the bulging vein in his forehead testament that she had pushed him too far. “Yes sir, I’m sorry I questioned you. Maybe I just need some time away. This has not been my best month; do you think I can get some time off? I think maybe I’d like to fly up and check out the house in New York.”
“I think that would be a good idea. With the Hawthorne house finished you don’t have anything pressing, right?”
“No sir, actually I don’t have anything else. I’ve been working solely on the Hawthorne house.”
“Good, good. Yes, a vacation sounds like just what you need. Take the summer, decide what you’re going to do with your Aunts stuff, and then come back when you’re rested.”
“You’re talking four months! How can you expect me to be gone for four months? What will Maria do while I’m gone? What about our clients? I can’t be gone that long!”
Henry chuckled at the exasperated look on his daughter’s face; he could almost see the wheels turning behind those expressive eyes. So like her mother, he thought, everything about her reminds me of June. “I’m sure we won’t go under if you’re not here for a few months. As for Maria I’m sure she’ll have plenty to keep her busy, and if not she can take a vacation as well. Look honey, you don’t have to stay gone that long; if you want to come back earlier you can. I just think it would do you some good to get away. You do realize you haven’t taken a vacation since you started here, don’t you?”
“Yes sir, I know. I appreciate the time off. I’ll have my laptop with me so I’ll keep in touch.” She wrapped her arms around his waist. “I love you Daddy; I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too Little One,” he said, pulling her tighter to him, “Always remember how much I love you, and how very proud I am of you.”
“I will Daddy, I will.” She said, breaking the hug and kissing his cheek as she turned to leave his office.
The walk back to her office suite seemed to take forever as she thought about what her dad had said. She wasn’t to question his judgment period, and it had almost seemed to her that he was sending her away even though it was her idea to take a vacation. She only wanted two weeks but he was telling her to go for four months, longer if she needed it. She couldn’t remember a time when he’d ever raised his voice at her the way he’d just done. She knew she’d stepped over the line with him, but it still hurt to have him yell at her. Maybe they both needed some time apart; she had to understand why he’d shut her aunt out. Until she had answers, things would always be tense between them.
Barely controlling the tears that threatened to spill over, she stepped into her office.
“Maria I’m leaving on vacation; I’ll be gone for about four months. I need you to book me a one way flight into MacArthur airport in Islip New York, set up a car rental, no actually set me up with a lease car. I’ll be taking Casey with me so arrange that with the airport. Call the vet for me and get a health certificate for her faxed to the house, put a call in to David’s firm and get the keys to my aunt’s New York house. Am I forgetting anything?”
“What about your apartment?”
Oh yeah, I’ll arrange it with the super when I get home; call and leave me a message on my answering machine so I don’t forget. I’ll need to get someone in there to clean and check on things for me while I’m gone as well. Does your daughter still do that type of work?”
“Yeah she does, I’ll get her to do it for you. What kind of car do you want?”
“I’m pretty partial to my Mercedes so try to get me one like it or a BMW if you can. I talked to Dad and he said you can take a vacation too if you want. He thinks he can give you enough to keep you busy while I’m gone, but I think a few weeks off is in order.”
“Thanks Kathryn, I’d like that too. I’ll get your reservations made and let you know the details. Are you going to stick around or should I just fax you the information?”
“I’m going home. Have a messenger bring the keys and plane tickets by the house. I’m going to pack up my laptop and clean off my desk then I’m leaving.”
“Okay Kate, have a good vacation,” Maria said, picking up the phone to make the reservations.
Kathryn dropped her purse and laptop just inside the doorway; pleased to note that not only had Timmy cleaned up Casey’s mess he’d also vacuumed the carpet under the dining room table. Good, she thought, for twenty bucks he should have vacuumed the entire apartment. Sighing, she picked up the phone and informed the super of her vacation plans and that she would have someone stopping in weekly to take care of the place.
Hearing a plaintive wail from the utility room, she grabbed the leash from the bar and walked through the kitchen to her little wash room. Casey was clearly glad to see her mom, her little snub tail was wagging her entire body ecstatically. Kathryn leaned over the child gate and pulled the pup into a warm embrace. “Did you miss me Case? Mama missed you too baby.” She didn’t realize she was crying until she felt the cocker licking the salty drops from her face. This was what she needed, she thought, unconditional love, and understanding. It didn’t matter that the pup had no idea what was wrong just that she was her comfort after what was decidedly the worst day she could remember having in forever.
She walked back to the living room, cradling the squirming puppy in her arms, and sat on the overstuffed gray leather sofa. She thought about the day and what had occurred in her father’s office. He’d all but sent her away and why, because she’d questioned him about a relative she didn’t know? She couldn’t believe he had refused to answer any questions. It was so out of character for her normally open and honest father. He had never shied away from her questions before, even the embarrassing questions the puberty stricken teen had asked about what he’d called “woman stuff.”
Her curiosity peaked; she put the pup down and walked to the wet bar. She poured herself a gin and tonic and booted her desktop. She opened the patio door to let the dog run outside, the promised walk forgotten as she logged into her ISP and set off for AltaVista.
Her query on Janice Covington returned 130,170 hits and she started with the first on the list.
Janice Covington, Respected Archeologist Discovers Ancient Grecian Scrolls
Amid a flurry of activity, a woman sits calmly in a brown beat up old hat sporting what appears to be a bullet hole right in the front. This is Janice Covington, daughter of the famed grave robber Harry Covington and the woman who has made what amounts to the greatest discovery to date in Macedonia.
Dr. Covington and her friend, Professor Mel Pappas, translator of Ancient Writings for the University of Georgia Atlanta, have uncovered the scrolls, long believed to be fantasy, of “The Destroyer of Nations.” According to Papas, a woman known as Gabrielle of Potadeia, personal bard to the Destroyer, wrote these scrolls.
This discovery marks not only the change from fantasy to fact of the rumored “Destroyer” but also marks Dr. Covington as the leading Archeologist in the world. Fighting opposition from all sides, she continued her dig uncovering not only the scrolls, but also presumably the tomb of the God of War, Ares himself.
Though seemingly unfazed by all the uproar around her, Dr. Covington did offer these words to the press. “I am happy to bring to a close this chapter of Ancient Greek history; however, I would like to state that none of this would be possible without the help of Professor Pappas. The professor proved unbelievably helpful in locating the scrolls and the tomb of Ares. In the coming days we will have more information concerning the scrolls as Professor Pappas translates the ancient writings.”
Professor Pappas stated only that the person known as the “Destroyer” appeared to be a woman, and had changed in later life from one who wanted to rule the known world to one who did things for the greater good.
The authenticity of the scrolls has yet to be determined but to the archeologist and the translator, this discovery is already authentic. Pappas has said the scrolls vaguely reference more scrolls hidden in Thrace, and the duo will be breaking camp to head there within the following weeks.
Dr. Covington has also been credited with uncovering writings of Sappho as well as Homer and other Greek scholars. She has also found the remains of several temples to the Gods scattered throughout Ancient Greece. One of these discoveries, the temple of Artemis, led her to search for the Destroyer scrolls.
Dr. Covington has graciously agreed to allow us to follow her to Thrace and we will be updating this story as soon as we have something more to report.
The reporter’s name wasn’t listed with the article, but it was dated early 1940’s, and as the search engine showed there were plenty more articles on this woman. Kathryn scanned several more sites all saying about the same thing, Noted Archeologist, credit to her field blah, blah, blah. None really helped her to know the woman that was her Aunt. The only highlight of her search, was the site that had a picture of her aunt prominently figured; Kathryn had been astounded by the resemblance; in her younger years her aunt looked just like her. Her hair was a bit shorter and though it was hard to tell in the faded black and white photo, appeared a bit darker than Kathryn’s own platinum locks. Nevertheless, it could have been a picture of Kathryn herself; now she knew where her looks came from. She’d always wondered about that; she didn’t really take after either of her parents. Her mother had sported reddish blond hair and brown eyes, while her father had medium brown hair and brown eyes. She wondered if her Aunt had green eyes as well.
The ringing doorbell and Casey’s answering bark brought her back to reality. She opened the door to the office runner and took the envelope marked in Maria’s distinctive handwriting. Dumping the contents on her desk, she picked up the house keys and a note from David.
I hope things go well for you on the island and that you enjoy your vacation. I have taken the liberty of sending some of your Aunt’s journals out there for you to look over. If you don’t want to keep them the University of Atlanta has requested they be donated to the school. Mel Pappas was a professor there for a number of years and they’d like to preserve the journals.
If you need anything while you’re gone, don’t hesitate to call. Again, have a good time and I’ll be in touch. The directions to the house are on the back.
Sifting through the rest of the contents, she came across a letter from her father and another from Maria. Deciding to hold off on her Dad’s note, she picked Maria’s from the stack.
I couldn’t book you on a flight tomorrow, so you’ll have to leave today. I’ve enclosed the tickets and the confirmation on the car. Have a great time, and don’t worry about a thing.
Kathryn put aside the notes and picked up the tickets. “Ohmigod, Ohmigod, what was she thinking? Booking me on a flight that leaves in less than 2 hours? I haven’t even packed yet!”
Kathryn made a mad dash around the apartment, shutting off the desktop and grabbing Casey’s leash from the desk she sprinted to her bedroom. Pulling her suitcases from the closet, she began throwing clothes in the direction of the bed. She ran into the bathroom and sweeping her arm across the counter deposited her toiletries in the cosmetic case. She reached into the shower for her shampoo, conditioner, and bath pillow, adding the items to her case. Taking a quick glance around the room, she grabbed her robe from the door and headed back to the bedroom. She didn’t bother trying to be neat; she just threw the clothes and leash in the large suitcase and started for the dresser. Taking panties and bras along with her shorts tank tops and socks in her arms, she walked back to the bed and dropped the items unceremoniously into the suitcase.
Hoping she hadn’t forgotten anything, she hurriedly stripped the pin stripe suit off and dropped it in the dry cleaning pile on the closet floor. Selecting a pair of starched, faded blue jeans from the rack and a lightweight long sleeved T-shirt she quickly changed, grabbing her tennis shoes from one of the cubbyholes lining the closet walls. Pulling her hose off she threw them in the general direction of the open dresser drawer and put her socks on. Yanking on her jeans and T-shirt and running her belt through the loops, she closed the suitcases and pulled them into the living room.
“Now what?” she muttered to herself.
“Oh yeah, Casey,” She said, walking to the fax machine and picking up the letter from the vet’s office. She tucked it into the envelope and scooping up everything but the airline ticket closed the flap and set it by the suitcases. She folded the ticket, stuffed it in her back pocket, and called a cab. No sense in leaving her car in long term parking for 4 months; the bill for that would be enough to pay her car note for a month.
Walking out on the patio, she called for Casey and grabbed her travel cage, loading it with the various fleece toys she saw lying around. She’d have to give the pup some Benadryl the vet had suggested for travel sickness. After she chased her around the apartment that was; the pup hated the cage and tried to hide every time she saw it.
The doorbell rang just as she’d gotten Casey drugged and in the cage, opening the door to the cabby she pointed out the suitcases and left to make one last sweep of the apartment. Satisfied she’d not forgotten anything important she shouldered her purse and laptop as the cabby reached for the cage. Locking her door, she followed the driver to his cab.
Taking a last glance at the now sleeping pup, she handed the cage over to the skycap and headed for the United Airlines terminal. She’d just finished checking in her bags and the pup when her flight was called. Racing to the gate, she handed the flight attendant her ticket and was shown to her seat. With a sigh of relief she settled in, sliding her laptop under her chair just as the seat belt light came on. She buckled her belt and slid her father’s note from the envelope as the flight attendant went through the safety speech.
I am truly sorry for the argument we had this morning; please forgive me for raising my voice. In hindsight, I realize that what I thought would be best for you may not have been that at all. I’m sure the truth will come out eventually, I only ask that you not judge an old man harshly for the prejudices of youth. I love you Kathryn; your happiness and welfare have always been foremost in my mind. I always tried to do the best by you and now I feel I’ve failed the person I love most in the world.
Have fun, get a tan, walk on the beach, do something for yourself for a change. Things will be back to normal when you get home, just enjoy your vacation, and don’t worry so much about things past.
Kathryn dried the tears from her face and reached for her laptop. The seatbelt sign had gone off and they had reached cruising altitude. She booted and reached for the skyphone, plugging in her modem line she swiped her credit card and once again dialed into her ISP.
Accessing her email, she typed in her Dad’s address.
I’m sorry as well for our argument; I know you only have my best interests at heart. Sometimes I feel you don’t see me as a woman, but as the child you still want to protect. I think I’m old enough and mature enough to handle the truth, although it is still your decision and I respect your judgment on that issue, I do feel that I have a right to know. I don’t have any hard feeling towards you if that’s what you’re worried about. It’s just a little confusion on my part, and I’m sure it will work itself out by the time I return home. I love you too daddy, with all my heart. I promise to come back with a killer tan and some souvenirs for you as well.
After scanning and answering the various emails that had come in since this morning, she briefly considered continuing her search for her aunt. Naw, she thought, plenty of time to do that from the house. She did admit to herself that her dad’s cryptic note concerning prejudices of youth and of things past had piqued her curiosity, but maybe her aunt’s house would turn up some clues to that mystery. With a small sigh, she disconnected her laptop, putting it away and reclined her seat for a nap. With any luck, she’d sleep through the rest of the flight. She’d always hated flying and wished she’d had something to knock her out like Casey. Closing her eyes, she drifted into a dreamless sleep.
She awoke to the dinging of the seatbelt warning. Stretching, she raised her seat and glanced out her window seeing the airport approaching. She was glad Maria had been able to book her in first class; the seats made it easier for her to sleep and she felt rested for the first time all day.
Disembarking, she made her way to baggage claim and then to the car rental counter. Signing the lease, she took the keys and pulled her luggage along to the rented Mercedes convertible waiting at the curb. After the lecture on the car, she opened the cage letting Casey out in the front seat and pulled the directions from the envelope. Satisfied she’d be able to find the place, she put the top down and turned onto the Long Island Expressway for the hour and a half drive to what would be her home for the next four months.
Chapter 3: Food for Thought
Feeling rejuvenated from the jog, Morgan showered and changed into her favorite pair of baggy black pants. Throwing on a white T-shirt and black vest she headed for the safe house to be debriefed.
Morgan’s Toyota Land Cruiser purred down the Long Island Expressway, allowing her to lose herself in thoughts of the last month. For the first time in her career, she was stumped. She was certain in the beginning that the perp was a white male, early 30’s, and new to the serial killer world. Now she wasn’t so sure; she was leaning towards this being a seasoned professional.
She still believed it was a white male, only because it fit with the norm for profiling these killers. The stats showed very few ethnic races, and even fewer women, leaned toward the serial killer phenomenon. The baffling thing had been how this particular killer made each crime scene different, but also alike. The bodies were always found nude, always found by hikers or campers, and there was never any trace evidence. The differences were that all the crime scenes were staged to look like an amateur had committed them. They were all killed in different manners, some strangled, some mutilated, some shot, some stabbed, and the only constant was they were all dead.
The last scene she’d been called to had been the worst. This body was found in the Ozark Mountains. The body of a young woman had been found by a Boy Scout troop earning their camping badges. The bodies were never hidden, and this was no exception. She’d been laid out in a grisly tableau, at first glance, it appeared that she’d been decapitated and amputated with the pieces scattered about. After Morgan had taken over the scene, she saw a pattern to the pieces.
The woman had been amputated while still alive. Cause of death was hemorrhaging; she’d been alive and conscious until her head was cut off. The head was sitting on a stump facing the body with a sad almost wistful expression in the sightless hazel eyes. The torso was nude with the arms exactly two feet from the shoulders, each hand reaching for a piece of clothing mere inches from it’s grasp. The legs were crossed modestly at the ankles but far enough from the torso to make modesty a moot point.
Morgan walked around the body in a wide circle, careful not to disturb what trace, if any, would be there. She wondered if this woman would be a virgin like the last. That could be the reason for the crossed legs, a mocking symbol of the last barrier to innocence. Everything about this particular scene screamed innocence, from the crossed legs, to the hands reaching for the clothes, and the sad look on the victim’s face.
It was the lack of trace that had Morgan’s full attention now, everyone leaves trace behind; most people never realize the amount of hair and fibers they pick up and deposit throughout the day. These scenes were different though, they had nothing in the way of trace around them. For the forensic team that meant there were no clues to work from and no idea where the killer would strike next. They had no clear ideas of how long the killer had been doing this either. The lack of any similarities between the scenes meant they hadn’t been able to track the killer back to the first crime.
The victims were all dissimilar also, sometimes men, sometimes women, once a child. The escalation of the kills indicated to Morgan that the killer wasn’t being satisfied by the thrill any longer. It had now become a need. The bodies were showing up within weeks of each other now, whereas before it had been months. This by itself wasn’t uncommon but with this particular killer, it could be a double-edged sword. The killer could get better at hiding the evidence or could become sloppy in the search for the missing thrill.
This is what concerned her most. If the killer didn’t start slipping up, they’d never catch him. There were already so many reports in Morgan’s briefcase of unsolved murders that she’d never get through them all. It seemed like every police department with an open homicide case was convinced that the killer had struck in their town. She knew that it was likely some of those reports could be attributed to this killer, but most would be dead ends and a waste of her time. If there were no new developments and no bodies showed up in the next week she planned to sort through all the files.
So far, they’d found bodies in just about half of the continental united states, but not two in any one state. That seemed another constant; their killer didn’t return to the scene of the crime. There were so many variables to this case, none of which fit the standard profile. This killer picked no single victim type, was not partial to race, sex or nationality. No physical characteristics could be linked. Nothing. There was absolutely nothing physically similar about the victims. None of them were sexually molested and none of them fought back. “Besides the murder itself, what was the motive?” Morgan wondered aloud.
She pulled into the driveway of the non-descript half brick-half wood single story gray safe house. She was amazed to see the number of cars parked haphazardly around the lawn. This case was definitely garnering quite a bit of extra attention, and being that high profile that was never a good sign. Too many cooks are going to spoil the stew, she thought.
Walking to the door, she set her face into an unreadable mask. The door opened as she reached for the handle and the deputy director for the behavioral sciences unit stepped onto the porch.
“Morgan, we need to have a chat before you go in there.”
“What are all these people doing here Walt?”
“That’s what we need to talk about,” he said, taking her elbow and steering her to a bench under the stately old oak by the porch.
“No, we don’t have to talk about it; they have to go. My contract gives me exclusive rights to choose my team and you know that.”
“Not on this one; you need the extra help.”
“Wrong again Walt. I don’t need any extra help, what I need is for these people to leave so I can get my team focused. It doesn’t matter how many people you put on this case, no one’s going to solve it until our perp fucks up.”
“I don’t have a choice on this, Morgan. The director is breathing down my neck about finding this psycho. He wants more people on the team. You’ll have to adjust.”
“I’m not adjusting. SHIT Walt, do you understand that? I will walk off this case in a heartbeat and don’t think I won’t. You need to pull out my contract and read the fine print. If the bureau doesn’t ‘adjust’ to what I want, I can leave at any time, with full pay as well. So you decide, is it going to be my way or do I walk out of here?” Morgan was standing over the shorter man, fists clenched at her sides; every muscle in her body was tense with barely controlled anger. She wanted nothing more at that moment than to yank the desk-jockey off the bench and rip him limb from limb.
Walt stared into the cold blue eyes inches from his face and prayed he wouldn’t wet his pants. God she’s intimidating, no wonder she always gets her way. She must have the whole bureau glad she’s on our side. He pulled the cell from his jacket and hoped she didn’t notice how badly he was shaking. Sliding, literally, out from under her, he hit the speed dial and walked rapidly away.
“This is Deputy Director Walter Johnson, I need a secure line to Director Baxter ASAP.” Walt stated looking in Morgan’s direction. Baxter wasn’t going to like this one, but they couldn’t afford for Morgan to walk on this case. He knew Baxter was going to cave; he just needed confirmation before he gave Morgan the okay to boot everyone.
He never saw Morgan move, but suddenly, there she was behind him, taking the phone from his hand.
“Beat it Walt this is between me and Baxter.”
“Bax… it’s Morgan… listen I want that team you sent in disbanded now…. fine…. one more thing, there will be no more debriefings. Not from me and not from my team, understood?”
“The team can go, that’s a given, but why no debriefings?” Baxter’s voice came through the line.
“Is this a secured line?”
“Yeah, speak freely.”
“Okay I’ve been kicking an idea around; we can’t find any trace right? So, who knows enough about trace to totally eliminate it from a scene? An agent, and probably someone on my team at that, so we’re going to flush them out. I need you to give me a lot of leeway on this one, because I’m not going to go by the book.”
“Do you have any idea who the perp is?”
“I’m not 100 percent on that one yet but I have a few possibilities. I want to keep it under my belt for now. I’m not giving out any more information than I feel is absolutely necessary.”
“Alright Morgan, I’ll give you all the leeway I can, but I need results on this. You’re going to have to flush this termite from the woodwork as quickly as you can.”
“Count on it Baxter. I need jackets on everyone who ever worked any part of this case, plus taps and surveillance. If they sneeze, I want to know who handed them a Kleenex. Don’t put anyone on them from regional; pull a crew from the boonies, I don’t want anyone recognizable.”
“Okay we can do that, the taps will be in place tonight and surveillance will start tomorrow. Who’s in the loop on this one?”
“You and I. I don’t want anyone else to know, so no paper.”
Morgan flipped the cell in Walt’s direction and vaulted onto the porch. She paused briefly at the door to set the mask in place again then walked in with all the authority she could muster.
She strode to the conference table that took over what should have been the living room, and looking at the thirty-five or so faces staring at her told them if they weren’t on her original team to leave. Murmurs of protest were heard throughout the room, though none were acknowledged. When the last of Baxter’s men had filed out, she turned to her team. “We’re packing it up here folks and moving this party to my house. From now on all meetings will be held there and no information goes to HQ unless it goes through me. If you can’t keep your mouths shut, you won’t be working for me anymore. Am I making myself perfectly clear on this?”
Affirmative nods from the five people left in the room answered her question.
“Good, pack it up and head to my house.”
She left her crew to gather their notes and walked outside to Walt.
“After they move out, scrub the house. We won’t be working here anymore.”
“Yeah okay. Where should I meet you later?”
“Nowhere. As of now, you’re off the team; go back to Quantico. If I need you I’ll be in touch.
“Ball busting bitch, Walt thought to himself as he watched Morgan’s Land Cruiser drive off. We’ll see about being off the team. No insignificant contract agent was going to tell the Deputy Director of the F frigging BI what cases he could work.
Morgan escorted the five agents into the metal building that constituted her lab. Taking drink orders she made her way into the house. Placing the soft drinks on a tray, she grabbed herself a Dr. Pepper and keying the door code went into her study.
Turning on the lights she turned to the row of VCR’s lining one wall. The TV’s showed the inside of the lab and she hit the record button as she listened in on the conversations.
Good she thought, they were all wondering what she was up to. It was going to be easy to divide and conquer this bunch, she surmised, watching the group argue. None of them liked being cut off from HQ and that would come in handy for what she had planned. If the killer were one of hers, she hoped the stress of only having part of the facts would drive them to doing something stupid.
Smiling wryly at the TV’s, she shut off the lights and locked the door, taking they tray of sodas to the waiting group.
Morgan sat at the table listening as the operatives gave their reports. She wasn’t paying close attention to the group as her mind formulated a plan. The silence snapped her from her reverie.
“Okay guys this is the last time we’ll hold one of these meetings as a group. From now on, you’ll meet with me one on one. There will be no discussing this case either amongst anyone on this team or with anyone else. That includes the Director and the Deputy Director; from now on, we maintain silence. Any press releases will come directly from me. If I hear that any of you have broken silence on this case for any reason, not only will you be dismissed from my team but from the bureau as well. Each of you will be assigned certain parts of the case to work on and that is all you’ll do. There will be only one written copy of your reports and you’ll give those to me. All your notes will be turned in with your reports or shredded. Don’t leave anything lying around for anyone else to see. This case has become Top Secret and all rules apply. Any questions?”
“What about crime scenes?” Asked the fifty-ish balding man sitting next to her.
“You’ll be on the crime scenes with me, Bones, but no one else on the team is to be there. We’ll work the scene and I’ll filter the information to the appropriate team members. Anything else?”
“What about the rest of us? Are we going to be desk-jockeys for the duration?” The question came from the only other woman on the team.
“You’ll all have things to do outside the office Gin, but some of the assignments will require a certain amount of desk time. This will not be much different than the way we’ve been working this case so far, people. You’ll each be concentrating on a different aspect that’s all. Don’t act like this is the end of the world. I think we’ll crack this faster if we give our full attention to one thing each. Right now we’re running around like a dog chasing it’s tail, so we’re going to try this and see if we can get somewhere.”
There were a few moans and groans but no more questions from the group. “Good, now I want to meet with each of you to hand out assignments. If you have any questions, ask them then, once you drive away, you do not contact each other. If you need some information come to me; I’ll get it for you.”
“Bones, I want you first. The rest of you wait for me to contact you on the intercom, then come on up to the house for your assignments.”
Morgan sighed and leaned back in her chair; the meetings had gone better than expected. The trap was set, now she only had to wait for the jaws to snap shut. Time to put in a call to Baxter.
“Baxter, this is Morgan…. Do you have the jackets for me?”
“Yeah I uploaded them after we talked earlier. You ready for transmission?”
“Have you downloaded the new encryption database I sent you?”
“Yep, and I gotta tell you Morg, it’s a beauty. There is no end to your talents, girl.”
“I have many skills Bax, but you’d better watch out that almost sounded like a compliment. Use the new program to encode the files and send them over. I also want the tap logs sent directly to me through the database; no one sees them but me ok?”
“I gotta tell you Morgan, I don’t like this. You are way too fixated on this case.”
“Yeah I know Bax, but I just can’t shake the feeling it’s someone on the inside and they’re laughing at us. I want this guy, and I want him bad.”
“Don’t make it personal Morgan, it’s not personal. It’s a case just like any other case.”
“No, no it’s not Bax, if this guy is one of mine, then it’s very personal. I hand picked this team, they’re supposed to be the best of the best. I don’t want to think I’ve had a killer around me for the last five years and haven’t picked up some kind of a clue.”
“I can understand your position on this one Morgan, just don’t go off half cocked. If it is one of your people, we need them alive. The information we can gather will be invaluable to us in the long run.”
“I get your point Bax; I won’t kill them unless it’s absolutely necessary. I can’t promise not to rough him up a little though.”
“Do what’s necessary but no more Morgan; we can’t afford to let this guy go on a technicality. Make it a clean bust and I’ll make it worth your while.”
“Yeah yeah Bax, I’ve heard it all before. The jackets just made it through decoding; I’ll keep you up to speed. Talk to you again soon.”
“Okay Morgan, have a good evening.”
Morgan swiveled her chair to face the twenty-one inch monitor and with a roll of her trackball mouse lost herself in the personnel files. Two hours later, she was wondering how some of these people had ever been hired. Shaking her head, she reached for the phone.
“Baxter, you didn’t send the file on Walt.”
“What would you need Walt’s file for?”
“Because he worked on the team Baxter, I told you I wanted the jackets on anyone who ever worked on the team. Tell me you put a tap and surveillance on him as well.”
“No I didn’t. He’s been with the bureau for almost 30 years Morgan; I don’t think he’s our man.”
“You may not think so, but I’m not prepared to rule out anyone right now. Send his file and get him coverage.”
“Okay Morgan, I’ll get on it, by the time you finish dinner you’ll have the file.”
“Thanks Bax, talk to you later.”
Hanging up the phone, Morgan realized she hadn’t eaten all day. Heading for the kitchen she remembered she hadn’t bought groceries today either.
“J.D. come here girl, you want to ride to the store with me?”
“Woof.” She answered, bounding into the living room, carrying her leash in her mouth.
“Good girl, now if we could just teach you to put it on,” Morgan said, scratching her head and hooking the leash to the stud collar. “Alright saddle up and let’s go.”
Tucking her Glock 9 mil into the holster on the back of her pants, she grabbed the keys and followed J.D. to the truck.
Pulling out of the driveway, she noticed a strange car parked next door. She put the truck in drive and pulled back in the garage. Telling J.D. to go back in the house, she drew her pistol and crept onto the back porch of Janice’s house.
Chapter 4: First Impressions Last the Longest
Morgan reached over her head and unscrewed the bulb from the motion sensitive porch light, and peered through the deck window. Seeing no one in the kitchen she silently slid the patio door open and entered the house. She checked around the corner and moved into the hallway. Dropping to one knee she scanned the living room. There, by the fireplace, was a small blond woman peering at the pictures on the mantle. Morgan weighed her options and decided to circle around the woman and come in from behind.
Coming up behind the woman she placed the gun beside her head and whispered in her ear.
Kathryn was conscious first of the warm breath that whistled past her head then she heard the words “What the hell do you think you’re doing here?” seconds before the sound of the gun cocking against her head made her jump. She whirled to face the intruder in her house.
“I might ask you the same thing; this is my house.”
“No, this is Janice’s house. Who are you?”
“Who are you?”
“I asked you first.”
“Look I’m not going to play this game with you. Why don’t you put that gun away and we can sit on the sofa and talk.”
Morgan uncocked the pistol, replacing it in the holster, and followed the smaller woman to the sofa.
“My name is Kathryn Peterson, and I inherited this house from my aunt. And you are?”
“You must be June’s daughter; I’m Morgan Sumners and I live next door to you.” Morgan held out a slender hand and was surprised at the strength of the smaller hand clasped in hers. This woman had the most beautiful green eyes she’d ever seen outside a cat. Morgan couldn’t break contact as the emerald orbs pinned her in place.
“You inherited the house? Then you mean Janice…”
“Passed away about a month ago.” Kathryn finished for her and was shocked when the woman before her began weeping silent tears. Not knowing what else to do for Morgan, she wrapped her arms around her, rocking back and forth making shushing noises. This was the last thing Kathryn would have expected from the stranger sitting on her sofa. When Morgan had first come up behind her she thought she was going to die. When she turned to look at her she thought it would be from a heart attack instead of a gunshot. This was the most beautiful woman she’d ever seen. Kathryn had taken in the six-foot height, waist length raven hair, and eyes the color of the bluest ocean before she found her tongue.
Morgan pulled away from Kathryn abruptly and walked to the pictures on the mantle. Taking one, she gazed down at the smiling figures with their arms wrapped around each other. Morgan had taken the picture three years ago on the deck of Janice’s house. Mel was in good health that summer, the sun reflecting off her bronze skin, picked up the silver highlights in her hair and made it hard to believe that she would be gone in less than a month. Janice had been so devastated by Mel’s death that Morgan was sure the smaller woman would follow her into the grave.
Kathryn walked to the taller woman and putting her hand on Morgan’s elbow she pointed at Mel in the picture.
“Is this your mother?”
“No” Morgan smiled. “Everyone who saw us together assumed that, but no, she wasn’t. Sometimes she seemed the closest thing to a mother I’d ever had, and sometimes I even wished she were my mother. She never had kids of her own and I think she missed that. She was such a loving woman, very giving and kind. ”
Kathryn’s stomach began rumbling just then, bringing a chuckle from Morgan.
“Are you hungry Kathryn?”
“Yeah a little. It’s been such a hectic day for me, I forgot to get anything.”
“Unless you brought food with you there’s probably nothing here to eat. I was on my way to the grocery store. Would you like to come along?”
“That’d be great. I passed a couple of stores on the way in but it didn’t occur to me to stop.”
“They’re both closed now, so we’ll have to drive into Mattituck. The sidewalks roll up here around 7; if you need anything you have to go out earlier.”
“Would it be possible to go eat before we shop? I don’t really feel like cooking anything tonight.”
“Sure, Mattituck has some really great restaurants. What are you in the mood for?”
“I’ll eat anything at this point, but how about seafood?”
“Sounds good to me, let me make sure J.D. went home and I’ll bring the truck around.”
“Oh, my dog, I sent her home when I came over. She’s a little over-protective; I just want to make sure she’s not sitting outside waiting to pounce on you when we leave.”
Morgan turned around to go and found herself face down on the floor, nose-to-nose with a blond furball.
“Oh my god, Morgan, are you all right? Casey you bad girl, go lie down.” Kathryn knelt down by Morgan, surprised to see the woman laughing.
“Well that hasn’t happened to me since J.D. was a pup. Casey huh? Come here Casey, come here girl.”
Kathryn stood, shaking her head, watching Morgan roll around on the floor with the cocker. This woman was amazing, and Casey sure seemed to like her too. That, in itself was shocking; Casey generally shied away from strangers, yet there she was lying on Morgan’s chest and licking her face.
“Guess you’ve got Casey’s stamp of approval, and all over your face at that.” Kathryn said, lying down on the floor beside Morgan and reaching over to ruffle Casey’s hair.
“Yeah guess I do. Okay Casey let me up so I can check on my baby.”
Morgan stood, reaching down to offer Kathryn a hand up.
“Tell you what, why don’t you bring Casey to my house and we’ll leave her with J.D. while we go eat.”
“Are you sure that’s such a good idea? I mean, Casey doesn’t do well in strange houses, she has, uh… accidents.”
Morgan chuckled. “It will be fine; I have a doggie door and J.D. will show her how to use it. Besides she’ll have someone else to play with so she won’t be scared.”
“It’s fine with me as long as you’re sure. I’d hate for her to make a mess in your house.”
“It’s fine Kathryn, now come on, I’m getting hungry too.”
“So what do people do around here for fun?” Kathryn asked on the trip to Morgans’ house.
“I’m not around all that much, but when I’m home I like to take the boat out or shoot pool. Mostly I just hang around the house. There’s not a lot to do out here for younger people; this is mostly a retirement community. If you want to go out sometime I’ll take you up island.”
“Could we go out on your boat sometime? I love being on the water but I don’t have time for it much at home.”
“Sure. If I’m home this weekend we’ll take her out, maybe sail up to Maine. How does that sound?”
“That sounds like a great idea! I’ve never been to the East Coast.”
Morgan opened the patio door and ushered Kathryn through the kitchen and into the living room.
“Umm, Morgan, I don’t know you very well and I may be over-stepping my bounds here but, uh… could you leave the gun here? Weapons make me nervous.”
“I’ll take it off tonight, but if you’re going to be hanging around with me you’ll have to get used to it; it’s part of my job to carry a piece.”
“Thanks Morgan, I appreciate it.”
Morgan walked into her bedroom pulling the gun from her belt. She didn’t know why she was doing it; she never liked going anywhere unarmed. Deciding that Kathryn would be none the wiser, she pulled a snub nosed 38 from the closet and strapped it to her ankle.
“You ready?” Morgan asked, walking into the living room.
“Yeah, who painted this?” Kathryn asked, looking at the large oil painting hanging behind the peach colored sofa. The picture was done in muted grays and showed an angry ocean tossing a clipper ship against a rocky bluff.
“What do you think of it?”
“I love it; it’s beautiful, but haunting and angry at the same time. This artist has real talent. Maybe I can find another painting by him to take back home.”
“It was painted by a woman.”
“Did you buy it on the Island?”
“No, I didn’t buy it.”
“You know the artist?”
“You could say that.”
“Why isn’t it signed?”
“Because it was painted for me, not for the public.”
“So who painted it?”
“I did. You ready to go now?”
“My God Morgan you have such talent. Do you sell to the public?”
“No, I’ve never sold a painting. I usually don’t even hang them but this one, I don’t know. There was just something about this one that touched me and I wanted it around.”
“Do you have any others that I can see?”
“There’s one hanging at Janice’s hou… I mean at your house. Now if we’re finished playing twenty questions can we go eat before the restaurants close?”
Morgan was glad when they’d finally reached the Apple Tree in Mattituck; she hadn’t realized what a chatterbox Kathryn was. The girl seemed to notice and comment on the slightest thing as if Morgan hadn’t seen any of this before.
The hostess seated them in a darkened booth, handing them menus and a wine list before walking away.
“Do you like wine, Kathryn?” Morgan asked, picking up the list.
“Sure wine sounds fine.”
“Red or white?”
“I never know how to order wine. Aren’t you supposed to pick a color to go with what you’re eating?”
Morgan chuckled. “Yeah that’s the way you’re supposed to do it, but I don’t particularly care for white wine.”
“Me either. Get whatever you think is good.”
When the waiter arrived, Morgan ordered a bottle of Rocche 91 and the English cut prime rib, then glanced in Kathryn’s direction.
“I’ll start with the smoked salmon with rice pilaf and baby carrots followed by the broiled stuffed lobster with asparagus, finishing with the grilled shrimp skewers and corn on the cob.”
Morgan didn’t know who was more stunned by the blonde’s request, her or the waiter.
“Ma’am? Uh, you do realize you’re ordering three separate main course dinners don’t you.”
“Yeah I do, I haven’t eaten all day but I do want to save room for dessert.”
‘Room for dessert?’ Morgan thought incredulously.Where the hell was she going to put dessert… in her purse?
“Yes ma’am, we’ll have those right out for you,” he said, shaking his head as he was walking away.
“Do you always eat so much?”
“Most of the time. My metabolism is really good I guess. It doesn’t seem to matter what I eat or how much; I just burn it off.”
“Then you’re one of the lucky ones. I know if I ate that much at every meal my body would have it’s own address.”
“My dad says the same thing. I think he was really glad when I moved away from home just so his grocery bill would go down.”
“Where is home?”
“Houston, how about you?”
“What do you do there?”
“I work for an architectural firm.”
“As an architect or in some other capacity?”
“Both actually, I’m an architect but also president of the firm. My father owns it and we’re partners.”
“Must be nice for both of you. I’ll have to give you a tour of my house and see what you think. I had the old structure torn down and designed this one.”
“From what I’ve seen of the outside and inside you did a great job. It looks bigger than all the other houses in the neighborhood but it fits in with the surroundings. Is that big metal building yours as well?”
“Yeah, kind of sticks out like a sore thumb doesn’t it?”
“Not really, being the last house on the street you don’t really notice it because the house shields it from view. If I hadn’t walked over with you I wouldn’t necessarily know it was there.”
“Good. I’d hate to know I was bringing down the property values because of it. I got a lot of flack from Mildred after they built it, I actually caught her breaking into it one night.” The raven- haired woman grinned at her companion.
“Who’s Mildred?” Kathryn couldn’t seem to take her eyes off of Morgan, especially when the dark haired woman smiled.
“You haven’t met her yet? That’s hard to believe. Usually, if she sees a strange car going down the road she follows it. You’ll probably meet her tomorrow. She’s a little old lady that lives up the road from us. Between her and Delores they know everything that goes on in the neighborhood.”
Morgan asked the waiter for another bottle of wine as he set Kathryn’s last course on the table. She’d finished the first two platefuls, the remainder of Morgan’s prime rib, and showed no hint of stopping anytime in the near future.
“So you never said what you do for a living, Morgan.”
“I do occasional work for the government.”
“Occasional work? What does that mean?”
“It means I do consulting work when they need me.”
“Umm, so what do you consult on?” The smaller woman finished off the last course and settled back into her seat.
“Different things, most of it confidential.”
“That must be exciting, do they keep you busy?” She took another sip of her wine.
“Sometimes they do. I’ve been pretty tied up for a while but there are times when I’ll get a few months off to be a beach bum. What about you? How long are you going to be on the Island?”
“I don’t know right now. I think I’ll play it by ear and see how I like it here. My dad wants me to take the summer off and decide what to do about Janice’s house.”
“That’s surprising. Janice said Henry didn’t care much for her. From what she said, I’d think he wouldn’t want you here at all.” Morgan felt relaxed for the first time all day and made a mental note about how easy it was to talk to this woman and that she needed to watch what she said so she didn’t give away too much information.
“Do you know why they had a falling out? He wouldn’t say anything to me other than they had ‘differences,’’ whatever that means. We had an argument about her before I left, but he sent me a letter apologizing. He said I should forgive him the prejudices of youth or some such nonsense. It really hurt to hear I had an aunt I didn’t know. It was very hard on me when my mom died and I wish I’d had someone around that knew her to help me get through that time.”
“Janice was a wonderful woman, she spoke of you often. She kept tabs on you and was very proud of your accomplishments. She sent you birthday and Christmas cards every year even though she knew they’d be returned.” Morgan leaned closer to the blond before she spoke.
“She loved you and about you a great deal, you know, even if she wasn’t a physical part of your life.”
“But that still doesn’t explain why Daddy cut her off from us. Will you tell me what you know about that?”
“It’s not my place Kathryn; I’m not a part of your family.” Morgan’s chest tightened when she said that because for a while she had been a part of Janice’s family. They’d shared a bond that went beyond friendship. Janice told her once that family didn’t necessarily mean being born to someone, just that you loved them enough to call them that.
They’d made it through two bottles of wine and several pots of coffee before Morgan noticed the waiters placing chairs on the tables. “I think they’re trying to close the place. You ready to go shopping?” Morgan grinned; after the meal Kathryn had just consumed she wondered how the young woman would even be able to get up from the table.
“I didn’t realize it was getting so late.”
“2 a.m.” Morgan said, signaling the waiter for the check.
“Funny it doesn’t feel that late, it must be the company.” Kathryn smiled warmly.
“Probably just excitement from the trip, I know I’m not that much of a conversationalist.” Morgan paid the check and they left for the all night grocery store.
When they walked into the store they each got a shopping cart and split up. Morgan immediately headed to the frozen food aisle and picked out a week’s worth of T.V. dinners and blueberry waffles. She tossed in dog food; beer and sodas then headed for the checkout.
She was standing by the door when she saw Kathryn wheeling her loaded down cart to the front of the store. God I hope that’s for the month and not just a week. Though if dinner were any indication of how much she could eat a day, that food wouldn’t last a week. She’d never seen anyone who could eat that much. Kathryn had put away not only the dinners but two helpings of Apple Crisp and ice cream as well.
Kathryn hopped in the truck and reclined her seat a bit while Morgan and the sacker loaded their groceries in the back end. When Morgan got in she looked over and saw her passenger fast asleep, she looked so peaceful that she didn’t have the heart to wake her. Reaching over her, she buckled the sleeping woman in and started the thirty-minute drive back to the beach house.
The drive home was peaceful, broken only by the soft snores coming from the passenger side of the truck. Morgan pulled into Kathryn’s driveway and tried to rouse the sleeping woman. “Kathryn, wake up. We’re home.” Morgan said, gently shaking her new friend.
“Mmmrfph.” Kathryn answered, pushing Morgan’s hand away.
“Okay then, we’ll just have to do this the hard way.”
Morgan left the sleeping woman in the truck while she finished her task. Carrying the groceries into Kathryn’s kitchen, she unpacked them and put them away. She went into Mel and Janice’s bedroom and not seeing any suitcases headed for the spare bedroom, spotting the open suitcases on the bed, she searched for Kathryn’s nightclothes and laid them out. Closing the luggage, she set it on the floor and turned down the bed.
Opening the passenger door she unbuckled Kathryn, pulled the small body into her arms, and carried her to the bedroom. Laying her down on the bed, she tried again to rouse the sleeping form. Getting no response, she stripped Kathryn’s clothes off and redressed her in the pajamas. Tucking her under the covers, Morgan brushed a wisp of hair from Kathryn’s forehead and placed a gentle kiss on the sleeping woman’s brow before turning off the light and driving home.
Hefting her own groceries she walked into the kitchen and quickly put them away. This had been a crazy day but she freely admitted that she’d enjoyed her time with Kathryn. By the end of the evening it seemed like they’d been friends forever. Morgan had never been one to make friends easily and she was amazed to find herself so relaxed in Kathryn’s company.
Stripping off her own clothes she walked into the bedroom and fell naked into bed beside the dogs. She barely had the energy to push J.D. off her pillow and turn off the lights before she felt Casey snuggle up against her and they were all three fast asleep.
Morgan knew she was dreaming as she watched Megan walk toward her, shedding her clothes as she drew closer. She had just reached out her arms to pull the dream woman against her own nude body when Megan’s face changed into Kathryn’s. Cupping Kathryn’s head and wrapping an arm around the smaller woman’s waist she pulled her in close and woke as their lips met.
Bolting upright, Morgan pushed her hair off her face and scanned the room, almost disappointed to find she was alone and Kathryn wasn’t there. The dream had seemed so real and Morgan felt the heat in her body that said it felt betrayed by the dream as well. Looking at the sun starting to stream through the window, Morgan shook off the last vestiges of the dream and headed for the bathroom.
Showered, dressed, and full of coffee, Morgan called to the two dogs and started her morning jog down the beach.
Kathryn woke from a dream of Morgan undressing her to find the sun was already up. It took a minute for her to recognize her surroundings and then to realize that not only did she not know how she’d gotten from the truck into bed, she couldn’t even remember the drive home. Looking down at her pajamas, she knew Morgan must have carried her to bed and changed her clothes. “God how embarrassing is this? I just meet the woman, she feeds me, takes me shopping, and I fall asleep on her. I wonder if she’ll believe it was jet lag.” Kathryn thought, though most likely it was the wine. Morgan only had two glasses and Kathryn finished the rest. She knew she was a little tipsy but it wasn’t enough to fall asleep like she’d done.
Kathryn pulled the suitcases onto the rumpled bed and pulled an outfit from the now neatly folded pile of clothes. “Oh god she even folded the clothes in my suitcase.” Taking the clothes and cosmetic case into the bathroom Kathryn decided that after her shower she’d go over and offer to make Morgan breakfast.
Morgan jogged along the stony beach, running the dream through her mind once more trying once again to analyze its meaning.
She knew she missed Megan so it wasn’t uncommon for her to appear in Morgan’s dreams but for Kathryn to appear was unexpected. She liked the woman and she wasn’t above admitting that when she’d undressed her she had appreciated Kathryn’s figure. She had been breathtaking naked and it awakened Morgan’s dormant libido. She noticed her hands shaking as she forced herself to redress the woman when what she’d really wanted to do was bury her face between Kathryn’s breasts. She had found her smell intoxicating; identifying a blending of some subtle perfume mixed with the wine from dinner.
Maybe she was just horny; after all, it had been awhile since she’d been with anyone. It had been almost a year since things started going bad and Megan had cut her off, and since Morgan wasn’t the type to just crawl into bed with the first person to show any hint of interest, she’d been celibate. The more Morgan thought along those lines the more she felt in her heart that she was wrong. She was attracted to Kathryn and that was bad news; Kathryn had told her at dinner that she’d left a boyfriend back home. Straight women were nothing but trouble and Morgan wanted no part of that no matter how attractive she found her to be.
The problem, she decided, was that she felt comfortable with her new friend. More comfortable than she’d ever felt with Megan. She would have never taken off her gun for Megan no matter how many times she’d asked her to, and the mess she’d found in Kathryn’s suitcases! Morgan was an admitted neat freak and instead of being dismayed at the jumble of clothes and junk, she’d found it endearing. She had chuckled to herself, and watching Kathryn sleep she had folded the clothes neatly before leaving.
Kathryn finished her shower and once dressed, headed for the kitchen to start a pot of coffee before heading to the bedroom to hang her now neatly folded clothes.
She’d hung all the clothes, made the bed, and drank almost the entire pot of coffee before she’d decided that she’d stalled long enough and it was time she headed over to Morgan’s.
Shielding her eyes from the sun reflecting off the water she made her way to Morgan’s front door and rang the bell. When she rang it again and received no answer she made her way to the open door of the metal building.
Reaching the door she leaned her head in and saw what looked like a complete medical lab. She walked in the door when she saw Morgan sitting at the table, after getting no response to her greeting; she walked around the chair thinking the woman had fallen asleep. She barely recognized the scream coming from her mouth before the blackness overcame her and she slumped to the ground.
Morgan heard Kathryn’s scream as she stepped onto the deck and changed direction for the lab. Running through the open door she saw the woman lying on the ground before she noticed the figure in the chair. Leaning down she scooped Kathryn in her arms and raced for the house.
Taking the stairs two at a time she keyed the code for the study and flipped the monitors on for the lab. She wished she’d left the VCR’s taping all night but it hadn’t occurred to her. Walking to the desk she nudged the chair out with her foot and shifting the unconscious woman in her arms sat down. She was worried about Kathryn, she looked so pale and she wasn’t moving, her respirations were shallow and slow. Reaching for the phone she dialed Bones’ number and pulled Kathryn tighter against her.
“Bones, this is Morgan, I need you at my place as quickly as you can get here. We’ve got another one and it’s in my lab. I haven’t called the locals yet, so bring everything you’ll need. We might just get a break out of this one.”
“You mean we’re going to get it first, the locals aren’t going to like this one bit Morgan.”
“I don’t give a shit if they like it or not, it’s on my property and we may get something before they trample the scene. When you get here secure the lab; I’ve got a small problem on my hands right now. Once you’ve got it secured come up to the house.”
“I’m on my way. I’ll see you in about 20 minutes.”
“Step on it Bones; use the siren if necessary.”
Hanging up the phone, she pushed the hair from Kathryn’s face and pressed her lips softly against her forehead. She was cold to the touch and Morgan recognized the signs of shock. Shifting her weight Morgan stood and walked to the closet for a blanket. She stretched out on the couch, laying Kathryn on top of her and covering them both she wrapped her arms tightly around her.
Chapter 5: Home Is Where The Body Is
Morgan felt the woman in her arms start to stir. Leaning up slightly, Kathryn met Morgan’s eyes and promptly passed out again. Sighing, Morgan wrapped her arms tightly around the woman again and pulled her close. Lying back against the sofa arm, she closed her eyes.
The insistent beeping of the perimeter alarms alerted Morgan to Bones’ arrival. Scooping Kathryn into her arms, she walked downstairs to meet the forensic pathologist.
“Nobody’s been in there since me, Bones. Leave it for a minute. I need your help.”
Bones looked to the figure standing on the deck holding an unconscious woman in her arms. “Is that another one?”
“No. She thought the woman in the lab was me, and she passed out. I’m worried about her. She’s been out for a long time. Can you take a look?”
“Yeah let’s get her inside.”
Bones pried open Kathryn’s eye and shined a pen light at the pupil. Noting the reflex he probed her skull for bumps and finding one, waved smelling salts under her nose. Two or three passes brought Kathryn to a state of semi-consciousness; blinking rapidly she locked eyes with Morgan and lapsed into the blackness again.
“Morgan, you’re going to have to stay out of her line of sight until I can get her up and coherent. She seems to have a slight concussion, but I can’t find anything else physically wrong. The concussion shouldn’t be keeping her out this long so you must be the cause. What’s her name?”
“I kind of figured as much; Her name is Kathryn.”
“Is there someone who can stay with her while we finish up outside?”
“I’ll get a neighbor to come over, then I’m going to get started in the lab.”
“As soon as I get her stable I’ll meet you outside.”
Morgan walked out of the room as Bones started running the smelling salts under Kathryn’s nose again.
“Mildred can you do me a favor? I need you to come over and sit with a friend for awhile.”
“Sure I’ll come sit with your friend. What’s wrong Morgan?”
“Can I explain it when you get here?”
“Why yes I guess so; I’ll be right over.”
“Do me another favor Mildred and walk over by way of the beach. Come in through the patio. I’ll leave the door open for you.”
“OK dear, I’ll be right there.”
Morgan called up the stairs and told Bones that she was going out to the lab and to call her on the intercom when Mildred arrived.
Morgan pulled her forensic kit from the rear of the Land Cruiser and checking to see that the camera had film, started walking the perimeter of the metal building. She clicked off several pictures of footprints she knew didn’t belong to her or Kathryn. The sand made it hard to determine size and weight but she had several excellent tread patterns to work from. Finishing the roll she removed it from the camera and dropped it into the pocket of her shorts.
Replacing the camera she pulled the fingerprint kit from the case and slipping on a pair of surgical gloves walked to the open lab door.
Morgan studied the silver knob critically and pulled the black powder canister and a large round bristle brush from the kit. Swirling the brush in the powder she applied a light coat to the inside and outside knobs. The outside knob revealed several prints and taking wide clear tape from the kit Morgan tore several strips from the roll. She applied the strips one at a time to the knob and easing each off she secured them carefully to a 3×5 white index card. She dusted the jamb where the door had been forcibly pried open and pulled a few more latent prints from the door above the lock. Putting the fingerprint kit away she loaded the camera and took pictures of the pry marks for later tool identification. She’d measured and marked all the visible tool marks on the door and was stripping off her gloves when the intercom buzzed signaling Mildred’s arrival.
Brushing the white powder from the gloves onto her shorts, Morgan reached up and pulled the ponytail holder from her hair, letting the raven locks spill across her shoulders as she walked into the living room.
Bones was appraising Mildred of Kathryn’s situation when Morgan walked in.
“She conscious now but very disoriented and quite shaken.” Looking at Morgan he said, “She thinks you’re dead, and even though I’ve told her differently she persists in believing it was you she saw in the lab. Why don’t you go up to her and Mildred and I will fix her some tea.”
“Is she going to pass out again when she sees me?”
“I doubt it, but try not to startle her too much.”
Morgan walked up the stairs, trying to make as much noise as possible before entering the study.
She saw Kathryn sitting on the sofa, her head hanging low and supported in her hands. She could tell by the shaking shoulders that Kathryn was crying. Morgan took three long strides across the room and folded Kathryn in her arms, making the shushing noises that Kathryn had used on her the previous night. It took a few minutes before she felt the sobs subside under her and she pulled Kathryn’s still huddled form onto her lap.
“Hey Little One, shhh, it’s okay, I’m right here. Look at me Kathryn, It’s me Morgan. I’m fine; there’s nothing wrong with me. Come on Kathryn, look at me.”
Kathryn buried her head deeper into Morgan’s shoulder and refused to look up; placing a finger under her chin Morgan tilted Kathryn’s face up to look into hers.
“See Kate it’s me, I’m here. I’m fine, really, it’s all going to be okay.”
“Mor… Morgan it’s really you?” Kathryn sobbed. “But…but I saw you, your guts were hanging out you were … you were dead Morgan. I know you were dead I saw you dead I saw you I know I did.”
Morgan placed a finger against Kathryn’s lips to stop the hysterical babbling coming from the shaken woman.
“It wasn’t me you saw Kathryn; I was jogging on the beach when I heard you scream. I promise Kate it wasn’t me. I’m right here and see,” she said pointing to her exposed abs, “My guts are right where they’re supposed to be.”
Kathryn ran a trembling hand across Morgan’s stomach, needing to verify that all was as it should be. Satisfied, she took Morgan’s face in both hands and pulled her close, brushing her lips across Morgan’s so briefly that she wasn’t sure it had happened.
Pulling away, Kathryn looked Morgan in the eye. “Don’t you ever scare me like that again you hear me?”
Laughing, Morgan pulled Kathryn against her for a hug. “Yeah Little One I hear you. I promise to never come around you with my guts hanging out.”
“I’m going to be sick all over you if you don’t let me up.”
Morgan jumped to her feet, Kathryn still firmly in her arms, and dashed down the hall to the bathroom, depositing Kathryn in front of the toilet as a full pot of coffee left her stomach.
Wetting a washcloth in the sink, Morgan knelt down and pulling Kathryn’s hair away from her face she ran the cloth across her forehead and flushed the toilet.
“Are you done?”
“Yeah I think so, sorry about that.”
“Nothing to be sorry for, I did that for days after I saw my first dead body.” Morgan reassured her, rinsing the rag out and kneeling again by her side.
“Do you want to hang out here or go back to the study?”
“I’d like to go back to the study but I think my legs want me to stay here, they don’t seem to be very cooperative right now.”
“Put your arms around my neck.” Morgan said, lifting the woman from the floor and carrying her back to the sofa.
“You have to quit carrying me around all the time you know. People will think I can’t walk.”
“I don’t carry you around all the time!” Morgan protested.
“Oh no? Then how did I get in the bed last night? How did I get in here earlier? How did I get to the bathroom and back?” Kathryn asked, trying to hide the smirk she could feel on her face.
“Well, that doesn’t constitute all the time, besides you were asleep or unconscious most of the time and it was quicker for me to carry you to the bathroom than to give you directions.”
“Thank you for doing all this for me,” Kathryn said, tears starting to form in the corners of her eyes.
“Shhh it’s ok Kate don’t cry, everything’s going to be alright, you’ll see.” Morgan cupped Kathryn’s face gently in her hands and brushed the tears away with her thumbs before resting her hands on the smaller woman’s hips once again.
“I know. It was just that seeing that woman out there and thinking I’d lost you. I know we just met and all but I think of you as a friend and I don’t want to lose you. Especially not like that.”
“You’re not going to lose me, don’t worry about that. I’ll be here to carry you around for a long time.” Morgan reached out to ruffle Kathryn’s hair.
“I’m going to leave you with Mildred for awhile; Bones and I need to see what’s going on in the lab. If you need me push this button and tell me to come up, okay?” Morgan pointed out the intercom system.
Kathryn wiped the tears from her eyes and running a hand under her nose said, “Okay I’ll try not to bother you. Will I be able to see you on those?” she pointed to the rows of monitors on the wall.
“Yeah you can see me in those, but if you need me or just need to see me in person to reassure yourself, you call. Don’t worry about bothering me.”
“Okay.” Came the somewhat dejected reply. Morgan walked over to the shaking woman and gathered her briefly in her arms for a short hug. She released Kathryn and watched her walk to the sofa, noting that the shakes had somewhat subsided.
“Seriously Kathryn if you need me for any reason you call. Promise me.”
“Good. Do you want Casey in here with you?”
“Oh yeah that’d be great.” Morgan smiled at the change that came over Kate at the mention of her pup.
“I’ll get her and send Mildred in with some tea to settle your stomach.” Walking over to the seated woman, Morgan leaned down and placed a kiss on the top of her head. “Now don’t forget your promise.”
Joining the duo at the counter, Bones asked how Kathryn was doing.
“She’s okay. Like you said she’s pretty shaken up.”
“I’ll go check on her and meet you outside in a few minutes.” Bones said, heading for the stairs.
“Mildred, did Bones tell you what was going on?”
“He said Kathryn had a concussion and she’d seen a dead woman that she thought was you. Was there something else?”
“No that’s about it. I don’t want you to talk to Kathryn about this okay? Even if she brings it up you change the subject. I need to question both of you later and I don’t want either of you comparing notes.”
“Now Morgan dear, you know that poor child has just been through a very bad experience and she’s going to want to talk about it. How am I supposed to stop her?” The older woman stood with her hands on her hips.
“”It’s pretty easy to change the subject on her; try talking to her about Janice. She’s Janice’s niece and she doesn’t remember her. Tell her stories to keep her occupied until I get back. I told her if she needed me to call; if she needs to do that let her.”
“Well I guess you know best, Morgan.”
“Thanks Mildred, I really appreciate you doing this for me. I’ll be back in an hour or so unless she needs me before then.”
Stepping to the back of Bones’ car, Morgan reached into the trunk extracting a cotton/paper jumpsuit like the one Bones was wearing. Zipping the jumpsuit she pulled her hair into a pile and slid a paper hair cover on her head. Leaning over they both ran their fingers roughly through their eyebrows and lashes to remove any loose hairs and taking strips of tape from the roll in the trunk they taped the sleeves of the suit to their wrists and repeated the action on their ankles. Bones grabbed the portable vacuum and Morgan, slinging the camera strap over her shoulder, took gloves, tape, and their booties and followed him to the door of the lab. Usually precautions like these weren’t necessary but for the most part they had a clean crime scene; Morgan and Bones both secretly hoped they’d find something to break the case this time.
At the door Morgan leaned against the building, putting on a pair of the gloves as Bones did the same. They’d go in one at a time with Bones going first to run the vacuum around the doorway. Gloved, Morgan handed Bones his booties and steadied his shoulder while he jumped on one foot into the doorway and keeping his other foot outside the scene slipped the other bootie over his shoe.
Morgan entered the lab when Bones gave the clear signal. This was the first glimpse of the crime scene she’d had since rushing Kathryn out. From her position by the door she could understand why Kathryn thought the body was hers. It was sitting in a chair facing the table and from this distance all you could see was a female profile and long black hair.
Bones had finished vacuuming and was taking pictures of the body and surrounding areas when Morgan walked over for a closer look. From the front the corpse really did resemble her. The hair was shorter as was the dead woman but the features were sharp and angular like Morgan’s; the nude figure also showed a similar musculature. From what Morgan could see the woman had to be a body builder of sorts or at least a long distance runner. The gaping wound in the abdomen showed almost no traces of body fat.
“I’m done here Morgan, are you ready to do the body?”
“Yeah, there’s a box of gloves in the cabinet over the microscope. Change yours and do a nail scrape. It looks like there’s something under the nails on the right hand. I’m going to do a once over on the clothes.”
Morgan pulled a sheet of butcher’s paper from the roll and spread it over the counter. Putting the shirt on a hanger above the paper she ran a comb over the shirt in slow, even strokes, a half smile forming on her face as pieces of debris fell onto the paper. After going over the shirt several times she dumped the contents of the paper into a plastic bag and labeled it with a felt tipped marker. She repeated the process on the other articles of clothing and placed them into another bag for the police.
“Hey Morgan come look at this.”
Bones handed the penlight to Morgan and pulled the victim’s eyelid back, palpating the eyeball he pointed out the swollen red vessels lining the eye. Pointing to the high cheekbones he indicated the faint traces of bruising and broken capillaries.
“Yeah that’s what it looks like to me; she wasn’t alive when she was gutted.”
“Do you think it’s possible she may have fought back?”
“It’s possible. I got some good scrapes from the nails, looks like skin but we’ll see on those. I think the hemorrhages will point towards her being smothered. What do you think, is our guy getting sloppy on us?”
“From the load of fibers on the clothes and the tracks he left outside, he sure seems to be on this one. It doesn’t fit with the usual M.O. I think we have him rattled. What are your thoughts on bringing the rest of the team in?”
“It’s your call Morgan, but if you think it’s one of us I’ll bet you dinner there’s going to be some marks on someone and if you let it ride we may lose a chance on seeing any evidence.”
“I agree with you on that one Bones, but I need to call Baxter first. I want to keep the locals out of this one. They’re not going to like the FBI taking jurisdiction over a case they haven’t seen.”
Morgan tore another piece of the butcher’s paper from the roll and walked over to the corpse. Turning the chair around she laid the paper on the floor and leaned it backwards so Bones could brush out the hair.
“Could you fix time of death?”
“”Not with any degree of certainty, rigor’s come and gone. With the liver sitting in the lap I can’t take an accurate internal, and the thermostat in here’s been set to 50 degrees. Probably the closest I can get is 12 hours.”
“That’s what I figured. I closed up the lab at 7 last night, Kathryn and I left for dinner at 9, we got home a quarter after 3, and Kathryn found the body at 8:30. The lab was locked before I went to bed but I didn’t notice if it was opened when I went jogging this morning. Kathryn said the door was open when she came over and the alarm lines were cut before the door was jimmied.”
“Depending on where the body was picked up and how long it was kept before they brought her here, we could probably say roughly eight hours. Once I autopsy the body I’ll be able to tell more but I think she was killed somewhere else and brought here then gutted. There’s a small amount of blood pooling under the body, but not in the amounts I would expect to find if she were killed here.” Bones furrowed his brows in thought.
“Let me call Baxter and see if we can yank this from the locals and if he approves it you can do the autopsy here. I have everything you’ll need except for a gas chromatograph but we can get Bax to fly us one in if you need it.” Morgan glanced from the body to Bones and back again.
“I’m going to need one, from the bruising around the nose and mouth I have a hunch she was chloroformed.”
Morgan stripped off the jumpsuit and gloves as she walked into the office at the back of the lab. Reaching for the phone she pulled the cotton cap off her head and pushed the button to turn the scrambler on as she dialed Baxter’s direct line.
“Hey big guy, it’s Morgan; we’ve got a situation here.”
“What kind of situation?” Baxter’s deep voice filtered through the line.
“I’ve got a body in my lab.”
“Jesus Mary and Joseph on a raft, Morgan! What the hell’s going on up there?” The velvet overtones shot up several notches as the director yelled into the receiver.
“I think we’ve rattled our guy, but that’s not the situation. Bones is here and we’ve done the prelim on the scene. I haven’t called the locals to report it yet and that’s the situation. I want to keep them out of it, beyond letting them know we’ve got a homicide, I don’t want them involved. No one else gets on the scene and no reports will filed on this one. We’ve got a clean scene here Bax and a shit load of trace. This could be the best chance we’ll ever get for catching the perp; if the locals get involved they could mess this up.”
“So what do you need from me?” Bax was back to his no-nonsense demeanor.
“I need a gas chromatograph for Bones and a call to the locals to clear us so he can do the autopsy,” Morgan explained.
“Are you going to need access to the morgue?”
“No. I have everything he needs here but we’ll need transport of the body when he’s done.”
“Alright, I’ll make the arrangements and get back to you. Stay close to the phone.”
“You’ll owe me for this one Morgan.”
“Put it on my tab. I’ll talk to you soon.”
Morgan replaced the receiver and leaned back in her chair. This one was getting to her, she realized, taking a deep breath. It wasn’t just that the woman looked like her and was found on her property. It was getting personal now and anything could happen. She wished Kathryn hadn’t stumbled on the body. She liked the smaller woman and felt connected to her on a deeper level. It was a feeling she hadn’t had in quite some time; she didn’t feel that with Megan, hadn’t felt it in fact since Mel had died. It was a feeling of having known someone all your life, maybe even beyond.
An unexpected feeling of dread washed over Morgan and she struggled to breathe. “Kathryn!” She didn’t realize she’d said it out loud until the silence enveloped her again. Reaching across the desk, Morgan flipped a switch on the monitor mounted on the wall and watched as the video feed to the study linked. Mildred was standing over her desk hollering into the intercom box but nothing was being received in the lab because she wasn’t pushing the talk button. Fingering the small joystick, Morgan panned the study but didn’t see Kathryn anywhere. Angling the camera downward she spotted the crumpled heap lying below the video wall.
Morgan exited the lab at a dead run, not slowing down she took the stairs two at a time and burst into the study. Glancing at Mildred, she slid to her knees in front of Kathryn’s limp form and pulled her into her arms.
“How long has she been out Mildred?”
“Since she couldn’t see you on the screen anymore. I tried to call, Morgan, but you didn’t answer. The poor dear… she’s so pale. Is she going to be alright?” Mildred peered down at them both with motherly concern.
“She’ll be fine; she’s just had a bad shock and the concussion doesn’t help any either.” Morgan answered, standing and carrying Kathryn with her to the desk chair. “We didn’t hear you because you have to hold down the talk button to make the intercom work.” Morgan demonstrated by calling Bones.
“Bones, I need you to come check on Kathryn. She’s been out for about 30 minutes.”
“Open her eyes and see if the pupils dilate with the light.”
Morgan peeled back each of Kathryn’s eyelids and noted the pupils restricting.
“Yeah they restrict equally.”
“She’ll be okay. Give me a few more minutes here to finish up the fingerprinting and I’ll come check on her. Just keep her warm in the meantime.”
“Okay Bones, thanks.”
Mildred piped up. “Why do you call that man Bones? He’s not skinny you know?”
Morgan chuckled, “His real name is Leonard McCoy like the Doc on the old Star Trek shows. Captain Kirk always called the Doc Bones so we just picked up his nickname.”
Mildred took the blanket from the couch and tucked it around Kathryn, looking into Morgan’s worried face.
“You like her don’t you?”
“She’s a nice person.”
“No, you like her, like Megan.”
“It’s not like that with Kathryn, Mildred. I can’t explain how I feel about her right now, but I think we’ll end up being good friends. Listen, while she’s out I may as well question you. Did you see anyone around here this morning?” Morgan unconsciously reached out a hand and ran it gently over Kathryn’s forehead.
“No. I didn’t see anyone, but then again I was working my flowers out behind the house. But I didn’t hear no cars coming down the road.” Mildred looked thoughtfully at the agent and scratched her chin as if it might help her concentration.
“What about really early this morning, say between 4 and 8?”
“No didn’t hear anything I took a sleeping pill last night and turned in round bout 8. I didn’t turn a hair ‘til nearly 6 this morning.”
“Damn. Well there’s nothing else you can do here so I guess you can head on back home. I need you to do something for me though; you can’t talk about this to anyone okay? Not to Delores and not to any of your cronies at the post office. If you have to talk about it come to Kathryn or me, but no one else for the time being. Once we wrap this up you can be the first to fill everyone in.” Morgan watched Mildred’s face light up as she uttered the last statement.
“I understand but I’ll be expecting you to keep your word; this is the biggest thing to hit the Island since Billy Joel was here last. She’s not a local you know?” Mildred stated, pointing at the woman on the screen.
“I didn’t think she was, she doesn’t look familiar.” Except she looks like me, Morgan added silently.
“She looks like she could be your sister. No wonder the poor dear was so frightened for you.”
“It is spooky isn’t it? She has brown eyes and she’s a little shorter than me, but other than that we do resemble each other,” Morgan agreed.
Bones walked into the room and Mildred excused herself to go home, saying she’d call later to check on Kathryn.
Shrinking away from the smelling salts, Kathryn was embarrassed to find herself once again held in Morgan’s strong arms. She wrapped her arms around the taller woman’s neck and hugged her with all her strength.
“I’m sorry Morgan I don’t mean to be such a pain in the ass.” Kathryn said, burying her face in the raven tresses, mixing them with her own blonde locks. Inhaling deeply, she recalled memories of her childhood. Morgan’s scent reminded her of her Grandmother’s kitchen on Christmas morning. Cinnamon and nutmeg mingled with a musky scent she’d come to recognize as purely Morgan. She found it comforting and wanted to stay right there forever, but realizing she might be making her uncomfortable she pulled away.
“You are most definitely not a pain in the ass, Little One.” Morgan said, a little more emphatically than she intended. She pulled Kathryn’s head back to her shoulder.
“I must be squishing you; I should get up.” Kathryn sighed; she didn’t really want to get up.
“You’re not squishing me you’re fine, now stop squirming around and relax. You’ve had a bad shock and I’m not letting you out of my sight until I know you’re going to be okay.” Morgan tried her best stern look.
Bones finished examining Kathryn and Morgan had just leaned back and settled her deeper in her lap when the phone rang.
“Morgan it’s Baxter; you’ve got the green light from the locals, they don’t have the resources to cover a case like this. Just send over some pictures so they can help identify the victim. The gas whatever machine is on its way, it should be there within the hour.”
“Great, thanks again Bax. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I need the reports on everyone’s activities for the last 36 hours and then I want the rest of my team here. Can you call them in?” She ran her fingers absently through the blond locks.
“Yeah that’s the easiest thing you’ve asked for today. Let me know what turns up; I’ll send the files over as soon as I get them.”
Morgan hung the phone up as Kathryn yawned loudly.
“Bones is it okay for her to take a nap?”
“Only if someone stays with her.”
“Do you need my help with the autopsy?”
“Naw I can handle it on my own.”
“Okay then I’ll stay with her, but call if you need anything.” Morgan relaxed as she felt Kathryn settle in more comfortably next to her.
“Make sure you wake her every two hours; ask her what her name is and if she knows where she is. If she can’t answer correctly come and get me.” Bones said over his shoulder as he left the study.
“Think you can walk or do I need to carry you to bed?” Morgan asked with a smirk.
“I think I can make it home,” Kathryn gave Morgan a playful punch.
“Nope you’re not going home tonight; I told you I wanted you where I can keep an eye on you. Concussions can be nasty things, I’ve had a few myself.”
Kathryn extricated herself from Morgan’s arms, stood, and immediately fell to her knees.
“Guess that answers that question,” Morgan said, smiling, and scooped Kathryn into her arms yet again.
Morgan nudged the door to the spare bedroom open and seeing no linens on the bed changed direction for her own bedroom.
“Looks like you’ll be sleeping with me unless you’d be more comfortable in the spare room.”
Surveying the room as Morgan laid her gently on the bed, Kathryn couldn’t think of any place she’d rather be than here. It was done in deep blues and pale mauves. The seascapes hanging on the walls gave the room a nautical feel that went with the gentle motion of the waterbed. Kathryn stretched across the king-sized bed and told Morgan she couldn’t imagine being any more comfortable than she was now.
“How about in a night shirt and out of those jeans?” Morgan raised a quizzical eyebrow in Kathryn’s direction.
“Okay so that might make me more comfortable. Do you have a shirt I can borrow?”
“Nothing that would fit you. I usually sleep nude but I’ve got a T-shirt that will probably fit.”
“Like a gown,” Morgan added with a grin.
She rifled through the dresser and tossed a shirt at Kathryn.
“Marvin the Martian? I love him! He’s my favorite cartoon character; I have a whole collection of Marvin stuff at home!” The younger woman looked delighted.
Kathryn swung her legs over the side of the bed and bent over to remove her tennis shoes, swooning she laid back and tried kicking them off her feet.
Morgan laughed as she watched the woman on her bed try to coordinate her feet enough to push her shoes off. Taking pity on her, she walked over and removed her shoes and socks. She reached for the button on Kathryn’s jeans when she felt a small hand cover hers.
“Uh, I think I can do that part, I uh. I don’t… ”
“You don’t wear underwear, yeah I know, I dressed you for bed last night remember?” Morgan grinned teasingly.
“Oh God I forgot about that!” She put her head in her hands but not before Morgan caught the mortified look and blush that crept up from Kathryn’s shoulders to cover her face.
“It’s okay Little One, it’s not like I’ve never seen a naked woman before.” Morgan laughed as she removed Kate’s jeans and pulled the woman to a sitting position and undid the buttons on her shirt. Morgan’s hands stilled for a second as the parting shirt revealed bare breasts; shaking a little she pulled the shirt off Kathryn’s shoulders and slid the T-shirt in place. Reaching around Kathryn she pulled the covers back and settled the sleepy figure under the sheets.
“I’m going to take a quick shower. I’ll leave the door open, you holler if you need anything.”
“Mmrph.” Came the muffled response from the figure huddled under the covers.
“I’ll take that as an Okay.” Morgan said, stripping off her own clothes and heading for the shower.
Morgan stood under the cool spray, trying to get her hammering heart under control. Kathryn affected her in ways she was sure would shock the woman if she knew. She wasn’t conscious of her hands moving across her body until her nipples responded to her fingers, sliding her left hand lower, she slid through the wetness she found, stroking the heat into a raging fire and calling Kathryn’s name silently in her head as she climaxed against her fingers.
“This is not good Morgan; you can’t fall for a straight woman. You’re going to get your heart broken, she’s going to return home and you’ll never see her again.” Kathryn had told her about the boyfriend she’d left in Texas last night, Derek, a pilot for Continental Airlines. He wasn’t around much but Kathryn said she thought she was in love with him.
Morgan continued berating herself as she lathered her sated body with the cinnamon and nutmeg soap. Rinsed, she stepped from the shower, dried off, and padded naked back to the bedroom. She set the clock for two hours and slid into the sheets next to Kathryn. She leaned over and kissed the woman on the forehead, lips lingering a few seconds longer than politeness called for and lay back, falling into a deeply troubled sleep.
Kathryn awoke as Morgan’s lips brushed her head. She reveled in the feeling but maintained the premise of sleep until she heard the older woman begin to snore softly. Satisfied that Morgan was out she leaned up on one elbow and observed the woman lying next to her. This woman had brought feelings to the surface that Kathryn had never felt before. Derek was her first real boyfriend and even he had never made her feel as loved and protected as the woman lying next to her.
Sliding quietly closer she inhaled the scent of Morgan’s soap and reached out a tentative hand to stroke the raven hair sprayed across the pillow next to her head. “So soft, and so beautiful, just like you.” Kathryn whispered to the sleeping form. Mimicking Morgan’s earlier movements she leaned over to kiss her. Instead of the forehead Kathryn wanted to know what it felt like to kiss the full lips slackened in sleep. As she lightly touched her lips to Morgan’s she froze as long arms enveloped her, pulling her closer and deepening the kiss.
Kathryn’s heart pounded as she felt Morgan’s lips part, her tongue seeking entrance into her mouth. Her lips parted involuntarily allowing the probing tongue to circle her own. A rush of desire flowed through Kathryn as Morgan rolled her over and ran her hands across tightening breasts. A frustrated moan slipped unheeded from Kathryn’s lips as Morgan pulled her lips away and rested her head on Kathryn’s shoulder. Soft snores reached her ears and she realized that Morgan had slept through the entire encounter.
Kathryn wrapped her arms around Morgan’s nude body and wondered how far she could explore that long frame before she would awaken. With thoughts of the kiss and what she wanted to do to her new friend running through her mind, Kathryn joined Morgan in the land of dreams.
Chapter 6: Touching Souls
Kathryn awoke to the hum of the alarm clock in the bookcase headboard. Reaching over her head, she silenced the buzz as Morgan wrapped her lanky form more firmly around her.
What did the doctor say I needed to remember, name and location? I’m Kathryn Dawn Peterson and I’ve come home.
Home? Yeah that’s what this feels like. A feeling of peace and security that I’ve never felt at any time before now. Like the last piece of the puzzle has clicked into place. The kiss she had shared with Morgan had set sparks off in her body like nothing she had ever experienced before. She’d kissed a few men but none had touched the core of desire that one kiss with Morgan had ignited in her soul. Was this what she’d been missing all her life? There was a feeling of completeness that she felt while wrapped in Morgan’s arms.
Kathryn thought back to other women friends she’d had over the years. She would not consider sleeping with any of them. Probably the closest she would have come to was in college. Her roommate, Tracey, was gay and very open about it. They talked about having an affair once, but Kathryn didn’t have the same feelings for her and it would have ruined what was, today, a solid friendship.
With Morgan it was different. She was attracted to her on so many different levels that the feelings were scary. It wasn’t so much the instant attraction she felt, as it was the sense of having lived this life with her before. She knew at that moment, with absolute certainty, that she was falling in love with Morgan Sumners.
Snuggling in closer, she rubbed her hands up and down Morgan’s naked back, pulling the woman as close as possible without sharing the same skin. When Morgan shifted and tilted her face, Kathryn could no more resist kissing the soft lips before her than she could resist taking her next breath. It felt like the most natural thing in the world to her.
Morgan shifted; pushing her leg between Kathryn’s as she drifted deeper into her dream.
She was standing in the kitchen making coffee when two slender arms captured her from behind. Turning her around, she pulled her head down for a kiss. Lips met as hearts beat a rapid staccato against chests molded together. Pulling back, Morgan gazed into Kathryn’s eyes as long seconds passed in the green pools of desire. Sliding her arms around Kathryn’s waist, Morgan picked her up from the floor and felt the shorter legs wrapping around her waist. Kathryn tightened her arms around Morgan’s neck pulling her lips in for another long, soul searing kiss as Morgan blindly walked the halls to the bedroom.
Setting Kathryn’s legs on the floor, Morgan took a step backward and reached for the buttons on her shirt. Small hands clasped hers as Kathryn voice reached her ears in a breathy whisper.
“No, let me do that for you.”
Morgan stood helpless as Kathryn’s fingers undid the buttons of her shirt. One by one they opened, revealing more of Morgan’s body to Kathryn’s piercing gaze and curious mouth. For every button there was a kiss on the exposed skin; Morgan felt tingles running up her spine as Kathryn took an exposed nipple into her mouth. The shirt fell to the floor unheeded as a seeking mouth captured the swollen nipple neglected for its twin. Running her tongue around the hardened flesh she nipped with her teeth as moans of pleasure slipped from Morgan’s mouth. Knees gave way and they found themselves on the cold tile of the bedroom floor. Neither cared as light met dark in a dance as old as time.
Morgan rolled Kathryn onto her back and straddled one of the shorter legs she found between her thighs. Never had she needed contact more than at this moment. Leaning up on her elbows, she offered her breasts to the waiting mouth below her as small fingers found the waistband of her shorts and slid them from her hips. Not wanting to break contact, but needing more than she was getting, Morgan stood and removed the shorts, leaving them in a heap by the forgotten shirt. She gazed down from her height above the sprawled form lying below her and saw unbridled lust glazing the green eyes raking her exposed body. Sinking to her knees, she once again captured the leg between her own as Kathryn’s mouth devoured hers. She felt warm hands kneading her hanging breasts and then sliding lower, seeking entrance into the warm murky depths of her passion.
Parting her legs for the exploring fingers, Morgan gasped as Kathryn slid through her wetness finding and stimulating the bundle of nerves screaming for release. Morgan rolled to her side reaching between them to capture the hand, bringing her closer to where she wanted to be and guided the willing fingers inside her. Pushing Kathryn’s shirt up with her free hand, Morgan suckled the inviting flesh that was scant inches from her face only moments before. Never letting up on the wrist she held, Morgan pushed Kathryn deeper inside her as she rode the wave of pleasure that finally broke inside her.
Kathryn pulled her lips away and froze as the arms encircling her released their grip. She was about to move away and feign sleep when her wrist was captured in the larger hand. Startled, she fought the urge to pull her hand away as Morgan guided it between her legs. Feeling the wetness and heat coming from the still sleeping form beside her, Kathryn surrendered to Morgan’s desire. Gently, she explored the new territory opened to her. Sliding her fingers through the soft curls, she felt a jolt run through her own loins as Morgan gasped and moaned.
She had never touched herself the way she was now touching the sleeping woman lying half on top of her. Curious, she explored the depths of the opening beneath her fingers, feeling her own body becoming aroused as Morgan rode her arm and wrist.
Fingers stilled their motion as Kathryn felt Morgan raising her shirt and sucking her newly exposed nipples. Bringing her hand to her mouth, she tried to stop the groan she felt building in her chest. She never wanted this feeling to stop and thought it couldn’t get better, then she felt the hand around her wrist let go and slide between her own legs. All the blood in her body raced to meet the questing fingers stroking through the molten desire running from her throbbing center. Her hips matched rhythm with Morgan’s as lips met and willing fingers completed their mission.
Kathryn rolled away from Morgan, petrified at what had just taken place. This whole thing had been entirely her fault. She had kissed Morgan. She had let it go farther. She knew Morgan was dreaming and still she let it go on, taking advantage of the obviously erotic images running through the sleeping woman’s mind. How could she have done something like that? She wasn’t the type of person to take advantage of anyone. What if Morgan had woken up? How could she possibly explain what was happening to the unsuspecting woman? Sorry Morgan you were dreaming and I kissed you and we had sex even though you didn’t know what was going on. Hope it was as good for you as it was for me. She just hoped Morgan had slept through all of it. She didn’t know how she’d face her if she didn’t.
Morgan stirred as she sensed the loss of heat that was Kathryn’s body against hers. Stretching, she opened her eyes and turned her head to look for her sleeping companion. Kathryn was on the other side of the bed with her back to her. Morgan lifted the sheet, slid up against Kathryn, and ran her hand over her back, wanting to awaken her without startling her.
Emerald green met sky blue as Kathryn turned to face Morgan.
“Hey Little One. What’s your name?”
“Kathryn. What’s yours? Kathryn replied, trying to ease the anxiety that was building in her chest.
“Are you serious?” Morgan asked, her brows furrowed with worry.
“Naw, I was just kidding you Morgan. I know my name and where I am.” Unable to resist she asked, “How did you sleep?”
“Like a baby. What about you? Did you have nightmares or anything?”
“No, no nightmares. I really didn’t get any sleep. I dozed for a minute but something woke me and I couldn’t go back to sleep. Did you know you snore?” Kathryn giggled.
“Oh God! No, I didn’t know that. I must have been really tired. I hope that wasn’t what kept you awake. You should have punched me or something to make me roll over.”
“You rolled over on your own a few times. Don’t worry, you don’t snore that loud. Not enough to keep me awake anyway. I think I just had other things on my mind that kept me too occupied to sleep.” Other things indeed, Kathryn thought.
“Umm, happens to me sometimes too. Listen, why don’t you stay here and try to sleep while I finish up things outside? You can always call me if you need something. Just make yourself at home. I shouldn’t be more than a few hours and if you want, after that, we can grab a bite to eat then catch a movie or something.” Morgan tousled the platinum locks.
“Sounds like a plan.” Kathryn smiled at Morgan, relieved that she didn’t seem to know what had transpired.
“Good. I’ll be back in a little while to check on you. Remember to call if you need anything.” Morgan embraced Kathryn quickly then stood, dressed, and headed for the lab.
Kathryn lay contemplating the ceiling for awhile after Morgan left, once again running the stolen moments of passion through her troubled mind. Raising her hands to brush the hair from her face, she caught the scent of Morgan on her fingers. With a sigh, she left the bed and headed for the shower. Sooner or later, she was going to have to talk to Morgan about her feelings, but for now, later was soon enough.
Walking into the lab, Morgan smiled at her team. It was the hottest part of the day and yet the agents were all wearing suits and ties. Even Gin was wearing the stereotypical black FBI suit seen so often in the movies. Morgan imagined how uncomfortable they must be while she, on the other hand, was wearing her shorts and tank from earlier. She was going to have to put in a call to the surveillance team supervisor; she needed pictures of these people with their arms exposed. The skin she had found under the fingernails of the victim could belong to any one of them.
She had stopped in the study on her way over and was pleased to note that the agents had taken her talk to heart. No one mentioned the case; they were all waiting for her to get the ball rolling. This newest victim threw a wrinkle on the case she hadn’t anticipated. She was going to have to fill them in as a group, and that meant possibly giving the murderer inside information. Even though she loathed doing it, she had no choice this time.
“Okay guys, here’s what we have,” She said, moving to the head of the table. “White female approximately 26 years of age. Time of death can’t be established. Time of discovery 8:30 this morning. Bones thinks, and I agree, that she couldn’t have been dead more than 8 hours before she was found. The body was left in the lab between 3 A.M. and the time it was discovered by my neighbor. The victim appears to have died from suffocation but was disemboweled here. We have quite a bit of trace evidence and even some fingerprints to work from. What I have in mind is splitting us up in teams of two. I want this worked as quickly but as accurately as possible.” Morgan moved to the head of the table.
“Bones, I want you with John Stevens, working the autopsy results and victim identification. She’s wearing a college ring. Notify the school and try to get a positive I.D. on her pic. Get them to send an annual if they have one with her in it. I want school records as well; we may have to use those to find her family.”
“Gin, you and I will do the crime scene photos and fingerprint analysis. Contact Albert Grayson and have him give you access to the NCIC computers. You can do the search from the computer in the lab office.” She nodded at the only other female agent.
“Walt, you’re with Douglas Evans. I want the two of you doing hair and fibers. Send me any results no matter how insignificant you think they are.” Morgan tapped her pen against the table.
“The same rules still apply here folks. You can talk to your partner, but no one else on the team and no media. I’ve contacted Baxter and the locals are out of this one. If they try to contact you, send them to Baxter or me. If you need to bring anyone else in, call me first. I’m going to turn this over to Bones and let him explain what was found in the autopsy.”
Morgan stepped back as Bones took her position at the head of the table. Signaling Walt to follow her, she walked into the lab office. From the reports filtering in from the surveillance teams, she knew Walt wasn’t her man. He was so predictable it was almost laughable. The man had no life to speak of. He ate his meals at the same time everyday. Wore suits by the same designer. Purchased gas at the same station. He even used the same stall in the men’s room every time.
Closing the door behind him, Walt took the seat opposite the desk.
“Walt, I’m sorry if I was abrupt with you the other day. I know it pissed you off, but I need your help on this one. Do you have any idea what we’ve got here?”
“Yeah, we’ve got a wolf in FBI clothing.”
“How long have you suspected that?”
“I thought about it with the last victim, but it really hit home with this one. You yanked someone’s chain and they’re letting you know about it.”
“I have to ask you to do something for me, and I hope you’ll understand my reasons. Will you remove your shirt?”
“I understand,” Walt said, standing and removing his jacket and shirt. “You’ve ruled me out as a suspect but you haven’t ruled me out.”
“Yeah, something like that. No offense meant though.”
“None taken. I’d probably do the same if I was in your position.” Walt turned in a circle, holding his arms out for Morgan’s inspection.
“Thanks. You can get dressed again. You have to find some way to get Douglas to expose his arms to you while your working. Bones and I will do the same with our crew. And watch the evidence, I don’t want any of it to disappear. We’ve got scanned images of the fibers and fingerprints, but I want to have the originals when we go to trial.”
“Who do you suspect?”
“I’m not sure yet, but I know who I don’t.”
“You, me and Bones.”
“Why are you ruling out Bones?”
“He didn’t try to cover up any of the trace when he did the initial examination. He pointed out the signs of chloroform, and the petechial hemorrhages that come with suffocation. All the stuff I wouldn’t know to look for, he showed me. I watched him gathering the hairs and fibers, and he was extremely careful not to cross contaminate anything. I think our guy would take an opportunity like that to hide the evidence, not preserve it. Besides, he took his shirt off to put on the jumpsuit and he didn’t have any marks on his upper body.”
“Then Bones knows about the possibility of defensive wounds on one of us?”
“He knows what you and I know. That’s why I split the teams the way I did. Each of us needs to watch our partners closely.”
“I agree. We done here?”
“Yeah, let’s get started.”
Morgan and Walt re-entered the lab as Bones was wrapping up the autopsy summation.
“Thanks Bones. Okay guys, let’s call this meeting to an end and get started. I want be updated daily. Gin, we’ll be staying here to work. The rest of you are free to go.”
Morgan waited until the others left before handing Gin the stack of scanned fingerprint pages.
“Do you think there’s enough ridge detail to get a good tracing from these?”
“Do you have tracing paper here?” Gin asked, removing her jacket and reaching for the prints.
Morgan’s eyes narrowed and she grasped Gin’s arm.
“What happened here? Cat get you?” Morgan peered intently at the marks now exposed to her view.
“No, I was out taking some pictures and got tangled up in a mess of thorns.” The woman answered immediately and seemed unaffected by the inquiry, but that didn’t mean a damn thing as far as Morgan was concerned.
“Must have been a hell of a shot to risk getting this scratched up. We need to put something on these. It looks like an infection is starting.” Handing Gin the tracing paper, Morgan told her she was going to the house to get bandages.
“You don’t have to worry about it Morgan. I have some antibiotic spray at home. I’ll clean it later.”
“It’s no trouble, and if you wait, the infection is going to get worse. I’ll be right back. Why don’t you get started on the tracings?” Morgan headed for the door.
Gin leaned back in her chair as Morgan exited the lab. Calling up an image of Morgan in her mind, she sighed, thinking of her boss. They had worked together on a few cases in the past and Gin had been attracted to her almost immediately. She’d been pleased that Morgan always requested her as a member of her team. Morgan’s opinion of her work had become paramount to her self-esteem. If Morgan thought she was good, then she must be the best. Secretly, she hoped Morgan asked for her because she liked her, not her photography skills. Gin did some checking and found that Morgan’s taste ran to the female sector and that meant she had a chance with her.
All of her fantasies centered on Morgan asking her out on a date and then taking her to bed. In her fantasy life, Morgan was the consummate lover; attentive to her every need and desire. She was always satisfied, and Morgan professed her undying love every time.
She knew that was the reason Morgan chose to work with her on this victim. They would spend all their time together, and Morgan would confess her attraction to her. Gin just knew Morgan would sweep her up in her strong sinewy arms and kiss her until she was breathless. That had to be the reason. Of course! It was so obvious now. Morgan wanting to treat her wounds was just an excuse to touch her. As if she needed an excuse! No, she didn’t need an excuse. She was more than willing to have Morgan touch her anywhere and at any time. If she’s too nervous to make the first move, I’ll make it for her, Gin thought as Morgan walked back through the door.
Morgan walked into the study, her face brightening at the sight of Kathryn sitting at her desk watching the monitors.
“Hey Little One. Whatcha doing?”
Kathryn swiveled her chair to face the door, a smile lighting up her eyes at Morgan’s unexpected arrival.
“I was getting bored waiting for you to come back, so I thought I’d see what you were up to.”
“And now you’re even more bored, huh?” The agent grinned.
“Not really. Who is she?” Kathryn asked, pointing at the monitor.
“Virginia Joseph. She’s our crime scene photographer.” Morgan answered, adjusting the camera angle and zoom to capture the scratches on Gin’s arms.
“Why are you looking at her arms?”
“See those scratch marks?” Morgan pointed to the monitor and Kathryn leaned in for a closer look, her own arms brushing Morgan’s lightly.
“Well I suspect the killer we’re tracking is a member of my team. The woman you found in the lab had skin under her nails.”
“What difference does that make?” Kathryn looked up into the taller woman’s face. She was still looking intently at the screen.
“When you find skin under a victim’s nails, you think defensive wounds. Then you look at your suspects to see if they exhibit any such wounds.” She glanced down and her eyes met Kathryn’s inquisitive ones.
“So, that automatically makes her your killer?
“No, but it does make her a suspect.”
“How do you prove it isn’t her?” Morgan smiled. Kathryn was nothing if not curious, and she seemed genuinely interested in the answer.
“That’s the tricky part. I have to get a blood or tissue sample to compare to the scrapings. If I do this next part just right, I may get lucky.”
“What’s the plan?”
“See that short gash close to her elbow?” Kathryn studied the monitor for a second before answering.
“I’m going to pick some of the skin away from it and stitch it closed. Hopefully, I’ll get enough of a sample to do a comparison.”
“Ugh. I think I’ll try to miss that scene.”
“Probably be for the best. Don’t move the cameras though, okay? I want to catch all this on video in case we need it for a trial.”
“How you feeling anyway? I forgot to ask.”
“Much better. I took a shower and played with the pups a little, but I am getting hungry. How much longer are you going to be?”
“Probably at least an hour, but I can get her to come back tomorrow. There’s nothing that we’re doing that I can’t put off overnight.”
“Don’t put it off; I can wait another hour or so.” Kathryn’s stomach rumbled loudly in protest and she looked sheepishly at Morgan. “No matter what my stomach says.”
Laughing, Morgan reached over and patted her arm. “I’ll make it quick, I promise. If you want, there’s stuff in the pantry to snack on. Like I said earlier, make yourself at home. Be back soon.”
Morgan grabbed her medical bag from the closet in the study and raced back to the lab.
Hopping up on the table, Morgan moved the tracing out of the way and placed Gin’s arm on her lap.
“This looks bad Gin. It’s going to need a few stitches. Are you allergic to Zylocaine?”
“Not that I know of, but I can get that done at the hospital. You don’t have to bother. Really.” It was a weak protest, as Gin was more than happy that Morgan wanted to bother with it.
“I’ve done this many times. It’s no trouble, so stop worrying about it.” Morgan positioned the arm where she thought she’d need it and waited for the other woman’s consent before continuing.
“Many times, huh? You aren’t going to hurt me, are you?”
Do you trust me?”
“Honestly? I don’t know. I want to though.” In more ways than just this, Gin thought ruefully.
“Go with that feeling. Just don’t look while I deaden and stitch. It will be over before you know it.”
Morgan knew the fates were with her as she watched Gin slump unconscious in her chair. The sight of the needle going in her arm had effectively solved Morgan’s dilemma of taking a tissue sample. Grabbing a slide and fixative from the shelf over the microscope, she carefully cut three sections of flesh from the arm. She set the glass covers gingerly over the sample, slipped the slides in her pocket and tossed the bottle of fixative across the lab as Gin began stirring.
“Welcome back. Are you okay?” She looked down at the disoriented woman.
“Are you done?”
“Nope, I was worried about you. I didn’t think to finish while you were out. Don’t look this time, and I’ll try to make it quick.”
Gin groaned as Morgan finished stitching the wound and bandaged the arm.
“See? It wasn’t that bad now, was it? I did such a good job that you won’t even have a scar when those come out.” Morgan smiled.
“How long is that going to take?”
“I can take them out for you in a couple of weeks.”
“What can I do to make this up to you?”
“You don’t have to do anything. It was my pleasure.” In more ways than one, Morgan thought, quite pleased with the way things had turned out for her.
“Still I feel obligated. How about I take you out to dinner?” Gin held her breath, hoping for a favorable response from the beautiful woman in front of her.
“That would be nice. Let me know when you want to go. You ready to get started on the photos?”
“Sure, point me in the direction of your darkroom.” Gin was elated, Morgan had agreed to go out with her. Her plan would work after all. And maybe, just maybe, after dinner her fantasies would come true as well.
“Actually, I was hoping you could teach me how to do the developing. I’ve had the darkroom since I built the lab but I’ve never learned to use it.”
“Sure. It’s not all that complicated really. You just have to watch what you’re doing.” They entered the small room, closed the door, and went to work.
Morgan leaned against a table opposite Gin and watched as she selected several bottles of chemicals and started mixing them in the black tubs on the bench. She knew all about developing pictures, but she wanted to keep the dialog to safe ground. She was waiting to see Gin’s reaction to the pictures, especially the footprints.
“So, you said you were taking pictures when you got hurt. What do you shoot?”
“Mostly nature scenes. I like unusual rock formations and I have some really great pics of malformed trees.”
“I usually take my camera along when I sail. I love the storms that come up on the ocean.”
“I wouldn’t have guessed that you liked photography.”
“It’s not a serious hobby for me; I prefer to paint. I usually take the pictures to paint by later.”
“Painting, huh? Oil or watercolor?” Gin was inwardly pleased that the conversation was becoming somewhat personal.
“Mostly oil. Watercolors are harder to master and messier. What about you? Have you always been interested in photography?”
“Pretty much. I picked it up in high school and seemed to have a knack for it. Then in college, I decided to make it a career. I wanted to be a photo journalist, but soon found out that writing wasn’t my forte.”
“How did you get started with the FBI?”
“An agent came to my school to give a lecture, and afterwards we talked. I was intrigued by the stories he told and asked if there were any photography jobs with the Bureau. He put me in touch with Walt and the rest, as they say, is history.”
“Right place, right time, huh?”
“Pretty much. But I’m glad he talked to me. I love this job and it’s a much better career than photo journalism.”
“Where did you go to college?” Morgan found the woman to be quite easy to make small talk with and hoped to glean some sort of an unintentional personality profile from the conversation.
“Southern Illinois University. How about you?”
“I went to Harvard.”
“Have you always wanted to be a criminal psychologist?”
“No, actually I always wanted to be a singer.”
“You’re even further from what you wanted to be than I am. Not much call for singers at crime scenes.”
Morgan laughed. “No, haven’t had anyone ask for a singer on a scene yet.”
“So, why profiling?”
“Long story. My brother was murdered by a serial killer that was never caught. Back then, I was more idealistic than I am now. I thought if I went to school and learned the trade, I could do what the Bureau couldn’t do, and catch him. Didn’t work out that way though. As far as I know, he’s still at large and unidentified.” For a moment Morgan was lost in her own thoughts and nearly jumped when Gin’s voice broke the silence that had elapsed.
“So, why don’t you work for us full time?”
“I don’t want to be tied down to one place. I like having the freedom to roam when and where I want. If I had a full time job, I couldn’t do that.”
Morgan walked up behind Gin as she started to process the footprint pictures and placed her hands on her shoulders, leaning over her. She was amused at Gin’s reaction. A slight gasp escaped her lips and then she’d relaxed against Morgan with a sigh. Curious, Morgan thought, Wonder if I can play this angle. If she’s attracted to me, I can get her to open up. Kathryn popped into her mind as she wondered about the best way to seduce the red headed photographer. Why did she feel like she would be cheating on Kate with Gin? They were friends, not lovers. There was no reason she should feel that she was cheating. She didn’t want Kathryn to know about her lifestyle, and that was a problem. She would ask questions if she started dating Gin. Morgan wasn’t in the closet by any means, but she wasn’t a flag waver either. Not knowing how Kathryn felt about gays, she didn’t want to broach the subject and raise suspicions.
The phone ringing in the lab interrupted her thoughts and, with a sigh, she patted Gin’s shoulder and walked from the room.
“Morgan, it’s Bones. I have some good news and some bad news for you. We ran the skin samples through the lab, and it belongs to the victim. Dead-end on that one. The fibers are more promising, though. We have several carpet fibers that are definitely from a vehicle. We’re trying to match them to a manufacturer now.”
“Damn. Well, thanks for the update. We’re about finished with the pictures; I’ll scan them and send them over. Try to identify the tread pattern from the shoes. Maybe we can catch a break there. Any more bad news?”
“Nope, that’s it. I’ll be in touch.”
“Okay. Talk to you soon.”
Morgan replaced the receiver and walked back to the developing room.
“Bad news. The skin matches the victim’s.”
“Too bad, but maybe we’ll catch a break on something else.” Gin was busy putting the caps back on the bottles and replacing them on the shelves.
“Yeah maybe. Hey, you want to do dinner tomorrow night?” Morgan thought she might as well get the ball rolling as soon as possible.
“Sure, want to meet somewhere or should I come here?”
“Why don’t you meet me at the Rhumbline, say…seven?”
“Perfect.” Gin didn’t try to hide her smile.
“Good. If we’re finished up here, you can head on home. I’ll clean up later.”
“I’m done, but I can stay and help you if you want.”
“Not necessary. I need to make some calls and finish some paper work. Let’s just call it a night.”
“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow night then.”
Morgan walked Gin to her car then secured the lab before going to the house.
Walking through the house, Morgan looked for Kathryn and found her on the balcony staring at the ocean.
“Hey Little One, what’s on your mind?” Morgan’s voice drifted on the breeze and settled comfortably in Kathryn’s ears.
She turned to see Morgan reclined against the doorway. “You know my dad calls me that.”
“Nope, didn’t know that, but it fits you. You are pretty little, even considering how much you eat.”
Kathryn smiled. Her eating habits had earned her more than a few raised eyebrows over the years and was a standing joke with her friends.
“Must be nice to live right on the ocean like this. It’s really beautiful at night.” Kathryn sighed. She felt completely at peace and was looking forward to spending a little quiet time with Morgan.
“Yes it is. You ready to grab a bite or do you want to stay in?” Morgan smiled. She already knew the answer to the first part.
“I would say stay in, but you don’t have anything to eat except T.V. dinners and I’m starving.”
“How about an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet then? Think they’ll have enough to fill you up?”
Kathryn brightened at the suggestion. She loved Chinese, but she loved buffets even more.
“Let me change and we’ll head out. What do you think about renting a movie to watch when we get home?”
“Sounds like a plan. You aren’t the blood and guts type of movie person, are you?”
“Not usually. I see plenty of that in real life; I don’t need Hollywood’s distorted version. I lean more towards comedies or romantic movies.”
“Me too. Maybe they’ll have something neither of us have seen before.”
Kathryn trailed Morgan to the bedroom and waited as she changed. Sitting on the bed, she wondered if she should ask to sleep in the spare room that night. The sight of Morgan in her faded blue jeans and form fitting T-shirt erased the thought from her mind. She hoped Morgan would pick a romantic movie for the night. Morgan laced her boots and they left for the restaurant.
Chapter 7: My Eyes Adored You
Morgan smirked at Kathryn as she plopped down on the sofa and unbuttoned her shorts.
“Guess they didn’t know when they advertised an all-you-can-eat buffet that you could eat it all. Bet they had to close when we left to re-stock the refrigerators!” Morgan teased her good-naturedly.
“Hey! It’s not my fault that you left me here alone all day practically wasting away to nothing. Besides, it was a great restaurant. I haven’t had Chinese food that good in a long time.”
“It’s always been one of my favorite places to eat on the Island. I’m going to change into something more comfortable. Why don’t you start a movie?” Morgan turned in the direction of the bedroom.
“Which one do you want to see first?” Kathryn sifted through the plastic boxes in her hands.
“What were our choices again?”
“Step-mom, Beaches or Fried Green Tomatoes. What do you want first? Drama or comedy?”
“Let’s go with a drama. Save the comedy for last. You picked nothing but tearjerkers. Are you going to need tissues?”
“I’ll bring some with me. Be right back.”
Morgan returned, clad in a midnight blue silk robe and handed Kathryn a box of Kleenex. Dimming the room lights, she asked, “Want some coffee? I was going to make a pot, but if you don’t want any I’ll heat some instant.”
“Coffee sounds good. Do you have any microwave popcorn?”
“Yep! Popcorn and coffee coming up.”
Morgan and Kathryn sat on opposite ends of the sofa as Beaches started. Kathryn threw a kernel of popcorn at Morgan when she made a crack about the lead child’s hair and was surprised when she ducked her head and caught it in her mouth. “How do you do that?” led to “I have many skills.” Which led to two kernels coming Morgan’s way. Catching two led to three and then to a contest to see just how many she could catch at one time. Four was her limit and the pups cleaned the rest from the floor.
Morgan jerked as Kathryn ran her finger up the sole of her foot. “Ticklish, huh?”
“Oh yeah you are.” Kathryn said, grabbing Morgan’s foot and raking her nails up and down the bottom.
Morgan squirmed and grabbed Kathryn’s wrist. Rolling over, she pinned the blond beneath her and attacked her ribcage.
“Two can play this game,” Morgan purred in her ear as she rested the full weight of her body against Kathryn’s wiggling frame.
“Stop!” Kathryn sputtered, “I’m going to wet myself and your couch.”
Morgan released her and Kathryn rolled them over pinning Morgan beneath her this time. Wrapping her shorter legs around Morgans, she proceeded to return the rib attack. “You are a sucker…did you know that?”
Morgan wrapped her arms around Kathryn and looked into the emerald green eyes now staring seriously back at her.
“I’m only a sucker for certain people.”
“Are you now?” The smaller one grinned.
“Of course, I can also be just the opposite. I do have many skills you know.”
“I can see that. You can be very intimidating, especially with your line of work. You are quite an imposing figure you know?”
“It comes in handy sometimes. Especially when I have a reluctant witness. I just turn the look on them and they spill their guts.”
“Oh God, lets don’t talk about gut spilling.” Kathryn shuddered, remembering the body she’d found that morning.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.” Morgan wrapped her arms tighter around Kathryn and was pleased when she laid her head on her shoulder.
“It’s okay. I’ll probably have nightmares for awhile, but they’ll go away eventually.” Kathryn inhaled the intoxicating scent of cinnamon and nutmeg deeply into her lungs. God this woman smelled great. She knew she should move, but it felt so good to lie there and Morgan wasn’t complaining. Releasing her hold on Morgan’s legs, she relaxed further in the embrace and settled in to watch the movie.
The movie ended and both women stood, heading for bed. Walking to the dresser, Morgan selected drawstring boxer shorts and a tank top for Kathryn to sleep in and went to the closet to hang her robe.
Kathryn’s own modesty forced her to the bathroom to change as she caught sight of Morgan’s nude body. Evidently, modesty wasn’t something Morgan gave thought to. But she admitted to herself that she liked admiring the agent’s body, though not nearly as much as she’d liked touching her earlier. She wondered if Morgan would have a repeat of the dream and was shocked as she realized she was hoping she would.
She hadn’t been adamant about her sexuality, but she hadn’t been forthcoming either. If Morgan had said she was gay, or even bi, Kathryn knew without a doubt that they would be going to bed for very different reasons than sleep. She knew she wanted Morgan, but had no idea how one went about seducing another woman. Maybe a call to Tracey was in order. She could offer some advice in that department. Dressed, she returned to the room finding Morgan already under the covers with her hands behind her head contemplating the ceiling.
“Penny for your thoughts.”
“Just a penny? You’re an heiress. Surely you can afford a dollar,” Morgan smirked, raising the covers for Kathryn to slide into the bed.
“For a dollar, you better have some very interesting thoughts. Otherwise, I’m gonna want a refund.”
Morgan didn’t know about that. She’d been thinking of the blond and how much she liked her. How much she was beginning to desire her. These were probably not thoughts that Kathryn would want to hear. No doubt she’d race to catch the first flight off the Island. Morgan didn’t know how long she’d be able to hide her feelings from the woman lying beside her, but she’d try for as long as possible. She wanted Kathryn in her life, even if they remained nothing more than friends.
Something about the little architect sparked a protective streak in her and she liked caring about someone again. It had been way too long since she’d cared for anyone, including herself. When Megan left she withdrew into herself, shying away from friends and family. She threw herself into her job and had little time for anything else, pushing her reserves to the limit trying to hide from the loneliness. With Kathryn, she found she liked sharing her bed and that was a startling revelation. She’d always preferred to sleep alone. Even Megan preferred it that way. They would meet in each other’s bed to make love, but always returned to their own when it was over. With Kathryn, she liked knowing there was someone beside her.
“Yo…Morgan.” Kathryn said, waving her hands in front of Morgan’s face. “Do I need to run next door for my green lantern secret decoder ring?”
“Huh? Decoder ring? What the hell are you talking about?”
“You’re concentrating so hard on the bumps in the ceiling I thought there must be a secret message in the texture.”
Morgan chuckled, “Nope, no secret message. I was thinking that sometimes the fates do get it right. Like our meeting. It happened at a time when I really needed a friend. And I think you did too.”
“I needed a vacation. The friend was just an added bonus. But it’s going to be hard to leave here when my break is over. I’m going to miss you when I have to go back home.” Kathryn wiped a tear from her eye before it ran down her cheek, glad Morgan hadn’t taken her eyes from the ceiling.
“Yeah, I’m going to miss you too. It’s funny, huh?”
“That I didn’t know you three days ago and yet I’ve known you my entire life.”
“You feel that way too? I thought I was going crazy or something. But I know just what you mean.”
Morgan turned her gaze back to the ceiling, knowing if she continued looking into those green eyes she was going to tell Kathryn she was falling in love. She didn’t have time for that right now. She had to put the case first. The way she’d been distracted by Kathryn today was very out of character for the dedicated profiler. Under normal circumstances, she’d never take a nap in the middle of the day. If one of her team members had tried that they would have woken up on the unemployment line.
And Gin. What was wrong with her, stopping to consider Kathryn’s feelings instead of seducing the woman? She did what the case called for. Every time. No exceptions. Until now. Now she was dividing her mind between the case and the woman she was starting to believe had hung the moon. Could she do both? If worse came to worse, could she choose? Would she choose? She didn’t need the job, but she did need Kathryn.
Her safe haven. That’s what Kathryn had become, a place to calm the raging storm inside her soul. Without hesitation, she knew that she could lose herself in Kathryn and still remain whole. She’d never experienced that with any woman before. There had been a few women to share her bed, but none had shared her heart. Megan had come closer than anyone had but Morgan thought it was because they both valued their independence. It wasn’t until Megan became clingy that the relationship soured. The more she wanted Morgan’s undivided attention, the more she’d pushed her away. Reflecting on the end, Morgan wondered if she missed Megan or just missed having someone around. She’d loved her, but she hadn’t really loved her. Not the way Megan needed to be loved.
Still, if Megan returned tomorrow, she’d take her back. Megan knew her in ways Kathryn didn’t. In ways Kathryn never could. She knew the demons that lived with her, understood the need for vengeance that drove her. Kathryn couldn’t touch that core of hatred and remain unscathed. Morgan didn’t want her to see the dark places in her soul that thrived on hate. Kathryn was purity and light. Morgan didn’t want to taint Kathryn with her blackness.
“Are you going to answer that or do you want me to?”
The phone ringing finally broke into Morgan’s consciousness and she reached for the receiver.
“Morgan it’s Bones. We’ve got a copycat.”
“What?” Morgan asked incredulously. “What the hell happened between here and there to bring you to that conclusion?”
“She was sexually molested.”
“Why didn’t you bring that up here?”
“I couldn’t be sure until I had a gynecologist in to look. But that’s not all, Morgan she had something carved into her abdomen. I think that’s why she was gutted, to erase the marks.”
“Can we piece together what was there?” Morgan was sitting up now, concentration evident in her features.
“No, but it looks like words. Like the killer carved a message in her, then changed his mind and tried to cut them away.”
“That’s not our guy. He wouldn’t do that. The trace concerned me, but this really doesn’t fit his M.O.”
“The funeral home is coming to take the body. Do you want to look at it before then?”
“Is it going to talk to me?”
“I don’t know Morgan. I don’t pick up the vibes like you do.”
“What time is the hearse coming?”
“It’ll be here in about 2 hours or so.”
“I’ll be there. Don’t let them leave with her.”
“We’ll hold her. Just hurry every chance you get.”
“I will. Bye.”
Hanging up the phone, Morgan turned to Kathryn; “I have to run into town. Get dressed.”
“Why can’t I stay here?”
“Are you going to use a gun if I give you one?”
“You know I won’t.”
“Then you’re coming with me. I don’t want you staying here by yourself.”
“Morgan, I’m a big girl. I can stay by myself for a few hours.”
“There’s a killer out there somewhere. Do you really want to stay here and end up like that woman you found this morning?”
“Enough said. Where are we going?”
“To the town morgue.” Morgan answered, tossing a pair of sweats on the bed for Kate. “Put these on, it’s going to be cold in there.”
“Harvard?” Kate asked. “Didn’t know I was keeping such prestigious company.”
“I don’t think of it that way. They had the best criminal program so I chose them. Nothing about prestige was involved in that decision.” Morgan’s brow furrowed; did Kathryn really think she would pick a school based on the name alone? Morgan turned from Kathryn and let her long stride carry her down the hall to the closet.
“Hey, I was just kidding. I went to Yale, it’s not like I have room to talk.” Kathryn had to run to catch up to Morgan. She didn’t know what had set her off, but she didn’t like the look she saw on her face as Morgan turned her back and fled down the hallway. Placing her hand on Morgan’s arm, she saw the determined set to the finely chiseled jaw and wondered if Morgan would change her mind and leave her here alone.
Instead, Morgan turned and wrapped her arms around Kathryn. Burying her face in the honey blond locks she whispered, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to snap at you. I have a lot on my mind right now; this case is wearing thin on my nerves. Forgive me?”
“Of course. I’m sorry too. I know it’s been a rough day. I didn’t mean to make it worse.” Kathryn returned the hug, pulling Morgan tightly against her trying to tell her what she couldn’t say.
Morgan pulled her black leather bomber jacket on and handed Kathryn a chocolate brown matching one. Megan had forgotten to pack it and Morgan admired the way it fit Kathryn, the brown bringing out the blond in her hair even more. She resisted the urge to whistle in appreciation as she ushered Kathryn to the garage.
“I don’t want to piss you off again, but why did you get mad about the Harvard remark?”
“I wasn’t mad at you… I’ve taken a lot of flack about going there from my family. I didn’t come from a wealthy family; I had to work my way through school. If it weren’t for scholarships and odd jobs, I wouldn’t have made it. I think my family resents that I’ve done so well for myself.”
“I heard you talking to Gin about your brother. He was killed by a serial killer?”
“Yeah, he was one of the few male victims of the zodiac killer.”
“They never caught him right?”
“No, they had several good leads and quite a few suspects. I think it was close to 2500 at one time. Once, a cop stopped him right outside a crime scene and he sent them on a wild goose chase. Later, the cop couldn’t identify him from a line-up. That was before my brother. If the cop had been paying more attention, he would have seen all the blood on the perp and maybe my brother would be alive now. I was devastated by his death. He was the only one in my family that I was really close to. I was a change of life baby for my mother, and I don’t think she wanted me. Matthew raised me until he left home. I was 10 when he died, and from that moment on, I knew that I wanted to work for the FBI.”
“God Morgan, I’m so sorry. Do you keep in touch with your mother or father now?”
“My dad died ten years ago and my mother and I were never close. After dad passed away, we quit even trying to keep up pretenses. I hear from her every now and then, mostly when she needs money. She started drinking when Matt died and after dad, it got much worse. During the last year when we were talking, she was never sober when I called. Didn’t seem to matter what time it was, she was always drunk.”
“Do you have other siblings?”
“I have an older sister.”
“Do you ever see her?”
“Not for a few years. She’s taken a vow of silence and until that’s over we won’t talk to each other. She used to write, but that tapered off after awhile.”
“A vow of silence?”
“Mmm, she’s a nun. She told me she wanted to get closer to God, so she took the vow.”
“And you don’t write her now?”
“I don’t really have much to talk about to her. Our lives are too different. We can’t relate to each other. She believes in “forgive and forget” and I believe in “an eye for an eye”. There’s no common ground for us anymore.”
“What about you? Do you have any family besides your dad?” Morgan glanced briefly at Kathryn as the light changed to green and they made a left at the intersection.
“Not that I know of. But, then again, I didn’t know about Aunt Janice, so I guess it’s possible. I’m an only child and both sets of grandparents passed away a long time ago. I used to wish I had a sister or brother when I was a kid, even made up an imaginary sister for awhile, but I outgrew that phase. I know it hurt my dad while I was going through that. We both missed my mom so much and, I think, he thought he was failing me by not having more children. I’m sure they would have if my mom had lived.”
“So, your dad never remarried?”
“No, I don’t think he ever will. He doesn’t date anymore. Guess he’s given up on trying to find someone like mom.” A breeze from the open window blew a few strands of hair onto Morgan’s cheek and Kathryn resisted the urge to brush it gently away.
“Are you ready for this?”
“We’re here.” Morgan said, turning into the driveway of a large gray building. The headlights of the land cruiser picked up the peeling paint and faded lettering above the door.
“Whose idea of a joke was that?”
“Mecklenburg’s Meat Market? Is that what you Yankee’s name your morgues? Meat markets? That’s disgusting.”
Morgan grinned at the look of horror on Kate’s face. “I’m not a Yankee. I’m from San Francisco, and it’s just temporary. The morgue burned down last year, so the county rented this building until the new facility is finished. This place already had freezers and floor drains, so it seemed the perfect place. Care to guess what it was before the county took it over?”
“I don’t think I want to know.”
“It was a singles bar. They left the name the same. Didn’t last long.”
“I can understand why.”
Kathryn slammed the truck door and followed closely behind Morgan as she walked the corridors of the morgue. The building was dark and had a smell Kathryn couldn’t place. It was like disinfectant, copper, and something acrid. She put her hand over her nose and mouth trying not to inhale the scent. Her eyes were burning and tears flowed down her cheeks.
Morgan didn’t notice the smell; years of walking morgue halls had made her immune to the sights and scents. She rounded the corner and entered the autopsy suite. Bones was waiting with the funeral home attendants and she nodded at him before turning to Kathryn.
“I need you to sit on that stool in the corner. I’m going to ask you not to say anything for awhile. I’m not being mean or anything; I just need some quiet time with her. If you feel faint or anything, signal Bones.”
“Okay. I’ll be fine though, don’t worry. I won’t fall apart on you again.”
“Thanks. It won’t take long. I promise.” Morgan wrapped her arm around Kathryn’s shoulder for a half hug before sending her to the corner. Walking to the men standing by the table, she addressed the funeral home attendants.
“Can you guys step outside? We’ll call you when I’m done here.”
Morgan waited until they left before questioning Bones.
“Okay, tell me about the sexual molestation.”
“There’s no semen present or signs of penile entry. From the tearing and what look to be scratches inside the uterus, it appears she was fisted.”
“Fisted? What the hell does that mean?”
“”Pretty much what it sounds like, the hand is balled into a fist and forcefully inserted into the vaginal opening. From what the ob-gyn said, the perp opened his hand once inside the uterus and scratched the uterine lining.”
“Was she alive during this?”
“She was alive for everything except the disembowelment. That was post-mortem.”
Morgan pulled the sheet away from the body and took the cold hand in hers. This was the first time she had touched the corpse and sometimes she thought the bodies talked to her. Not literally of course, just some idea of what happened and where she needed to go from there. She had cases where one look told her more about the perp than she sometimes wanted to know. She wasn’t getting anything from this woman. Disappointed, she released the hand and studied the face, noting the similarities with her own once again. She wondered if this is what she looked like sleeping. Eyes closed, face slack with raven hair fanned under her shoulders. Letting her eyes travel downward, she examined the caterpillar like stitches in the woman’s abdomen.
“What are these Bones?”
“Those are the letters I was telling you about. We pieced them together from the tissue that was cut away. As close as we can determine, the letters travel in a straight line downward from below the breast area to the navel region. Before they were cut away during the gutting, we believe they said L. U. S.”
“L.U.S.? What does that mean? Think he was trying to spell out lust?”
“We found what appears to be periods after each letter. Doesn’t look like he was spelling any particular word.”
“His initials maybe?”
“Could be. Want me to have Gin run them through the known sex offenders database?”
“No, I’ll tell her tonight. Was there anything else you wanted to show me?”
“Yeah, we got a partial print from her neck, but I’m going to run that one myself. Here’s the toxicology report.” Bones handed Morgan the printout and pointed to one item close to the bottom. “See this? That drug paralyzes the body, vocal cords and all, but heightens the pain receptors. This one here keeps the victim awake. She knew everything that was happening to her but couldn’t cry out or move to defend herself. Both drugs will wear off within hours but remain in the bloodstream for days.”
“So, what we have thus far is, she was tortured while drugged, killed at another location by suffocation, and gutted at my place?” The agent frowned.
“We need to find the other crime scene. Anything show up that would give us a clue where to look?”
“We found one blond hair that, on microscopic, shows to be from a wig. It’s a synthetic manufactured by Wigs Express. They’re a mail order company out of California; Douglas is getting a search warrant for their records. We should get that back in a week or so.”
“Good. What about the skin under the nails, you said it was hers. Any ideas on that?”
Bones turned the corpse onto its side and pointed out several deep scratch marks on the back. “She had her hands tied behind her back at one point. I think she may have struggled with the ropes and scratched herself trying to get loose.”
“Makes sense. Anything else?”
“Nope that’s all we have.”
Tell the funeral guys they can have her. I’m heading home. If you come up with anything else, give me a call.”
“Okay, drive safely.”
“Always do,” Morgan answered, looking toward Kathryn’s sleeping form in the corner. “Hope I don’t have to carry her to the truck. She sleeps like the dead.”
“Has she been doing a lot of that since this morning?” Bones inquired, worried about the concussion she’d suffered. Sleeping too much was always a bad sign.
“Not really. She said she didn’t sleep long when she took a nap. She’s been alert and for the most part lucid all night. The head injury certainly hasn’t affected her appetite, she eats like a horse.”
“I do not eat like a horse!” Kathryn interjected from the corner; “I just have a healthy appetite.”
“If it gets any healthier, Diner’s Club is going to issue her a gold card.” Morgan whispered to Bones.
“Come on Little One, let’s go home. We’re finished here.”
Morgan waited as Bones looked Kathryn over once again and then made her way through the meat market to the truck.
“What did you mean when you asked Bones if the body would talk to you?” Kathryn inquired as they made their way through the darkened streets towards home.
“It’s an old forensic term; the dead speak for the living. Sometimes you can get the corpse to tell you who killed them or how they killed them. Clues to lead you to the next step. I’ve had cases where the bodies spoke volumes about their killers.”
“Doesn’t it bother you to look at all those bodies?”
“Sometimes more than others. Like today, I know that woman died because of me. It’s a waste of human life to kill someone like that. Knowing she was killed for no other reason than that she looks like me. Wondering if she’d still be alive had I made other decisions? Wondering why a copycat picked me out of the crowd. That’s what makes this job so hard. Not knowing if what you’re doing is the right thing.” Morgan looked troubled.
“You shouldn’t beat yourself up over this. There probably wasn’t anything you could have done to prevent her from being killed.” Kathryn reached over and put a reassuring hand on the agent’s arm.
Morgan knew it was her fault the woman died and she had a gut feeling that she could have prevented it if only she’d done something differently. “You’re probably right. It’s just really hard sometimes to uphold the professional detachment needed to do this job.”
“I don’t see how you do it at all, let alone stay detached. Human nature has to enter into it somewhere. The need to help those who couldn’t help themselves.”
“That’s a large part of what keeps me up nights. I want to see justice for the ones that need it most. Families and friends always want to see these killers go to jail so they can feel better about themselves, so they can feel the killers get what they deserve. I want to see justice done for the victims; I want to believe they know someone was out there doing what was needed for them.”
“Righting wrongs and making the world a safer place for all of us. That’s an awesome burden for any person to carry around by themselves.”
Morgan pulled the truck into the garage, and shutting off the motor and headlights, she turned to look at Kathryn. She had such a trusting look on her face and it broke Morgan’s heart to know that this woman had more faith in her than she had in herself.
“I carry it alone because I can. Let’s hit the sack, I’m worn out and you must be exhausted too.”
Kathryn let the subject drop, knowing that she’d pushed Morgan farther than she should have. They could have this conversation later when they were both more comfortable with each other. “I passed exhaustion about two hours ago. I’m running on sheer determination right now.”
“And just what are you so determined about Little One?” Morgan asked with a smirk.
“I’m determined to stay awake and walk into that house under my own steam. I think I’ve been carried around like a sack of potatoes more than enough for one day.”
“Good, I don’t have the energy to carry you up the stairs again. I’d have to drag you up by your feet and that wouldn’t be good for your head.”
“Probably right about that one.” Kathryn replied, handing Morgan her jacket to hang in the hall closet. Silently, they ascended the stairs and undressed for bed. When Kathryn exited the bathroom, she found Morgan already in bed and seemingly asleep. She crawled in beside her, placed a light kiss on her forehead and turned out the bedside light and fell into a dreamless sleep.
Morgan wasn’t sleeping, she just didn’t want to pick up the conversation they’d had earlier. Feeling Kathryn’s breathing even out, she turned in the moonlight and looked at her sleeping companion. I hope you never lose faith in me Little One. I may have to rely on yours when I can’t find my own. Morgan returned the kiss to Kathryn’s forehead and laid back. Within minutes, she felt Kathryn drape herself across her body. Wrapping her arms around the sleeping figure, she followed her into sleep.
Morgan walked through the fog surrounding her. Holding her arm straight out in front of her, she couldn’t see her hand. She could feel her heart pounding as she stumbled blindly for the forest she knew lay ahead. She didn’t know why she felt afraid, but shivers of fear ran up her spine as goose bumps broke out on her arms. The fog swirled around her face obscuring her vision and she fell. Hands stretched blindly in front of her, she fell to her knees onto a pile of something slippery. Bringing her hands up in front of her face, she waved the fog away trying to see what she was kneeling upon. As her vision cleared, she saw her hands were soaked in blood. Rivulets of the coppery tinged liquid slid down her forearms and dripped on her naked thigh.
The fog dissipated around her and, looking at the ground, she saw herself. She was naked as she was now, her abdomen ripped open, intestines and organs scattered around her. She screamed and pushed away from the sightless eyes staring at her. Slipping in the gore, she lost her balance and fell backward, hands flung behind her trying to stop the fall.
A maniacal giggle erupted from the woods in front of her and she squinted against the fog blocking her vision. She could barely make out a figure draped in a black cloak briefly illuminated by the full moon. She couldn’t see the face, no matter how hard she tried to bring it into focus. She tried to stand, only to be pinned in place by some unseen force. She struggled until her arms gave way from the exertion and perspiration ran down her face in rivers. A hand reached out from the robe and dropped a bloody knife onto Morgan’s lap.
“Is this what you were looking for? The knife you killed her with?”
“But I didn’t kill her… it wasn’t me. You did this! You killed her!”
“I was but an instrument you played. I wielded the weapon, you orchestrated the murder. All for you Morgan, it was always for you.”
“I never wanted this. I never wanted anyone to die for me.” Morgan pleaded with the figure.
“She was my gift to you, and yet you failed to show gratitude. I left you what you wanted. So many clues for you to follow this time, and still no appreciation falling from your lips. What more do you need Morgan? What else can I give that will make you mine?”
“Nothing, there’s nothing more that you can give. If having me stops this from happening again, I’ll be yours.”
“NO! She will never be yours; she will never be with you. Come with me Morgan, I’ll take you home. I can make this disappear forever; I can make you whole again. Trust me Morgan. Take my hand and we’ll walk away from here.”
Morgan stretched her hand toward the smaller one beckoning her as the black clad figure slipped behind Kathryn and plunged the knife into her heart.
“Noooo!” Morgan screamed as the welcoming blackness enfolded her consciousness and she drifted away.
Chapter 8: It’s Always Darkest…
“Morgan! Morgan let me go I can’t breathe!”
Morgan opened her eyes to the darkened room. She felt Kathryn struggling beneath her and rolled to her side, releasing the petite blond from her grasp. The dream had seemed so real. She’d remembered cradling Kathryn’s limp form in her arms as the fog swirled around them. Remembered the pain shooting through her heart as she’d watched Kathryn die in her arms. She’d remembered feeling lost and alone once again.
“Are you okay?” Kathryn asked.
“Yeah, sorry about that. Just a bad dream, I have them from time to time. I didn’t mean to wake you. I’ll be alright, you go back to sleep.”
“Want to talk about it?” She’d woken to Morgan screaming her name and then been enveloped in strong arms that wouldn’t release her. She’d thought briefly that Morgan was trying to strangle her until she felt the hot sting of the tears coursing down Morgan’s cheeks.
“I don’t remember much about it. It was foggy, you were there, and someone else. I don’t know who, but you were hurt and I thought you were dead. That’s about all there was to it.” Morgan didn’t want to talk about the dream anymore. She didn’t want to show Kathryn how much she cared for her. How vulnerable she was to those feelings. It was easier for all concerned if she kept Kathryn at arms length. As long as she kept her heart locked away from the blond sharing her bed she could keep it safe.
“What did the other person look like?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t see their face.”
“Male or female?”
“I don’t know that either. All I could see was a black cape with a hood. The voice wasn’t gender specific; it sounded sort of hollow, almost an echo. It seemed familiar but I can’t place it. There was a laugh too. Kind of evil and high pitched, almost a keening type of sound.” Morgan let the memory of that laugh wash over her and felt the goose bumps break out on her arms. It was so familiar; she knew that laugh, that voice. She’d heard it before, if only she could remember where.
Knowing it would come to her eventually she lay back against the pillows and drew Kathryn against her. “Come on Little One, let’s try to get some sleep.”
Kathryn relaxed into the embrace and was soon sleeping once again. For Morgan sleep wouldn’t come that easily, she lay staring into the darkness, her mind turning the dream over and over. Morgan knew the dream was trying to tell her something but she just couldn’t see it right now.
Giving up on sleep for the night, she left the bed donned her robe and padded silently to her study. Opening the closet she hefted the Ovation case and removed the guitar. Leaning back in her chair she propped her feet on the desk and let her fingers roam the fret bar at will. Eyes closed in the darkness she let the dream images take her through the fog once again.
Morgan didn’t know how long she sat there strumming familiar chords and letting the music soothe her nerves, didn’t know exactly when her thoughts had turned from the dream to the dream woman lying in her bed. Kathryn would return to her own house today and Morgan felt a sadness settle over her at the impending separation. She’d grown accustomed to having the blonde near and didn’t want to see her go. All she’d ever searched for she knew she’d found only to have it forever out of reach. Straight women were trouble and being in love with a straight woman was one can of worms that she didn’t want to open. She knew Kathryn would never return her feelings and she didn’t want the heartbreak that would accompany a proclamation.
Kathryn slipped quietly into the study and curled up under the blanket on the couch. She’d woken up when Morgan left the bed and had lain listening to the haunting music until loneliness forced her to seek the source. Standing silently in the doorway she took in the sight that was Morgan. Legs stretched out on the desk played hide and seek in the folds of her robe. The sliver bars of moonlight streaming through the curtain made the tears falling from the closed lids into silvery streaks against bronze skin.
Morgan knew when Kathryn entered the room without opening her eyes. The air had changed in the room and seemed to crackle with an electricity all it’s own. She continued strumming the guitar humming to herself and waiting for Kathryn to break the silence between them. She knew without a doubt that if she opened her mouth first she’d ask Kathryn for what she couldn’t give.
Kathryn lay against the sofa arm wrapped in the blanket listening to Morgan play, soon her head found it’s way to the overstuffed pillow under her arm and the strains of music lulled her to sleep. She never knew when Morgan abandoned the chair and knelt beside her on the floor. Didn’t awaken as Morgan began to sing quietly to her.
3 in the morning I can’t close my eyes
A battle is raging in my heart and mind
It’s down to the wire I’ve just got to let her know
Tell her I love her or she’s gonna go
All of these changes make me so afraid
Would I be throwing the life I love away
I’ve always played the part of the one who’s free
I’m used to looking out for no one but me
Am I a fool to fall?
I could lose it all
In a single night
She could change my life
Should I turn away?
And not let it show
Am I a fool to fall?
Well here I go
Nobody told me it would be like this
What she does to me how could I miss
I know the feelings I know why the fools rush in
In less than a heart beat I’d do it again
Am I a fool to fall?
I could lose it all
In a single night
She could change my life
Should I turn away?
And not let it show
Am I a fool to fall?
Well here I go
Should I turn away?
And not let it show
Am I a fool to fall?
Well here I go
Morgan set the guitar aside and reclined against the couch watching Kathryn sleep. The blonde’s eyes jerked behind her closed eyelids and Morgan knew she was lost in dreams. Reaching out she ran her fingers through the hair on Kathryn’s brow. “I love you Kathryn, I wish you knew how much. There’s nothing I wouldn’t give to hear you say that back to me.”
She wondered briefly if she could get by with holding Kathryn while she slept but knowing there would be no way to explain it in the morning she picked her up and carried her back to the bedroom. Laying her on the bed she slipped out of her robe and curled around the sleeping form.
Dawn broke over the bay and fingers of sunlight made their way into the room where a small blond woman lay sleeping alone. She stretched her muscles tight from sleep and reached for Morgan finding instead a note in the empty space where she should have been.
I’ve taken the dogs for a run. There’s coffee in a thermos in the kitchen if you want. Don’t go off exploring on your own, no repeats of yesterday please. Be home before you know it.
Kathryn’s fingers traced the bold strokes across the creamy paper. No repeats of yesterday. No problem! As much as she’d loved spending the day with Morgan she didn’t want to find any more dead bodies in her lifetime. She shuddered remembering that this time yesterday she was walking into the lab. Shaking off the memory she crawled out of the bed and wrapped herself in Morgan’s robe. Pulling the collar to her face she inhaled the scent of the statuesque agent. With a sigh of contentment she made her way to the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee. She was scanning the fridge for breakfast fixings when the phone rang.
“Is Sumners there?”
“She stepped out for a minute, can I take a message?”
“Tell her that Gin called and I won’t be able to make dinner tonight. I’ll call later and reschedule.”
“Okay, anything else?”
“No that’s all. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome, bye.”
Kathryn replaced the receiver and took her coffee out on the deck. Scanning the beach and not seeing Morgan she decided to go home for the things she needed to make her breakfast.
Morgan walked into a house smelling of bacon and omelets. Stepping into the kitchen she watched silently as Kathryn cut up vegetables and added them to the egg mixture cooking on the stove. I could get used to this, She thought. The idea of waking up every morning to this incredible woman was taking hold of Morgan. She wasn’t conscious of moving until she found her arms wrapped around Kathryn.
“Good morning Little One.”
Kathryn sighed and leaned into the hug for a minute until she realized what she was doing. Stepping away she looked up at Morgan.
“Phew! go take a shower and come eat. Breakfast is almost ready.”
Morgan snatched a piece of bacon from the plate and side stepped the swat aimed at her butt. Chuckling she headed down the hall to shower.
Standing under the stinging spray she let her mind drift to fantasies of Kathryn. She imagined the scene in the kitchen differently. Walking up behind Kathryn and burying her head in Kathryn’s hair she fantasized the smaller woman turning and pulling her head down for a kiss. She imagined picking Kate up and setting her on the bar, leaning in between her legs and capturing her lips for a kiss that could only be done properly from the same height.
As her fantasy hands slid up the skintight tank top Kathryn was wearing she reached down and switched the hot water off. She had to cool off or she wouldn’t be making it to breakfast any time soon. She had washed her body and hair and was rinsing the conditioner out when she saw Kathryn step into the bathroom. She shut off the water and slid the shower door back taking the towel offered.
“Thought you might want a cup of coffee while you were dressing.”
“Thanks.” Morgan answered, taking the offered cup.
“Gin called while you were out, she said she couldn’t make dinner tonight and would reschedule later.”
“Hey Morgan?” Kathryn asked, her heart was beating triple time as she watched Morgan run the towel over her lithe form. “Do you have any plans for today?”
“Nope not anymore. You want to do something?”
“Sure, I thought maybe if you wanted we could go window shopping or something. I wanted to visit Greenport, they had some great looking shops.”
“Do I want to know what I’m getting myself into?”
“Probably not. I uh, I like to shop.” Kathryn cast her eyes downward to keep Morgan from seeing the blush creeping over her cheeks. Morgan had no way of knowing that Kate liked shopping even more than she did eating. Speaking of eating… “Hurry up and get dressed; breakfast is finished.”
Morgan handed her now empty mug back and stepped around Kathryn, heading for the dresser.
“Be right there; give me a minute to comb out my hair.”
Morgan followed Kathryn’s lead and selected a deep purple tank and tucked it into her tightest black 501’s. Sliding her feet into a pair of calf skin black boots, she laced them and headed for the bathroom to brush the tangles from her hair.
Kathryn stifled the urge to let loose with a wolf whistle as Morgan glided into the dining room. Wow! She definitely knows how to fill out a pair of jeans, Kathryn thought, handing Morgan her plate. They settled into companionable silence and finished the feast Kathryn had prepared.
Morgan pushed her chair away from the table and carried their plates to the sink. Kathryn followed with the serving dishes and Morgan loaded the dishwasher.
“That was great Little One, I can’t remember the last home cooked meal I’ve had.”
“Thanks, if you want I’ll cook us dinner tonight.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.”
“What do you want?”
“Ugh I’m too full right now to even think of dinner. Surprise me.”
“Okay, it’s a date.”
“Want to go in my truck or your car?”
“Why don’t we go in mine so we can put the top down?”
Morgan attached the ankle holster with the snub nosed 38 to her leg, hooked her pager and cell phone to her belt, slid her keys in her pocket and locked the house, following Kathryn next door to the waiting convertible.
Morgan and Kathryn never saw the figure that followed them around Greenport. From shop to shop they went, blissfully unaware that their every move was being watched. Lurking in the shadows of buildings and hiding behind newspapers, brown hate filled eyes studied the two women; anger building with every smile that passed between them.
She will be mine. The figure thought, watching as Morgan pulled her pager from its holder and read the message. She grabbed Kathryn’s arm and steered her toward their parked car as the figure slipped once again into the shadows and followed.
Kathryn pulled the car into her driveway and shut off the motor as Morgan opened her door.
“I’m going to take a nap, why don’t you plan to come over at 7 for dinner?”
“Sounds good to me, do you want to finish the movies we rented? I think Janice had a VCR but if she didn’t we can go back to my place.”
“Sure we can do that.”
“Want some help getting all this stuff inside?”
Kathryn had loaded the trunk and back seat with purchases. Morgan figured she would be a shopper but she’d had no idea that Kathryn would make a mission out of it. She’d bought other things besides what was in the car but those would be delivered. She had decided to keep Janice’s house and was planning to redecorate.
“Naw, go make your phone call. I can get this.” Kathryn pulled the first of many packages from the car.
Morgan unlocked the door and greeted the dogs. Setting her keys on the counter she walked upstairs to the study and dialed the familiar number.
“Bax, its Morgan. What’s up?”
“We got a letter from your killer.”
“Can we get a court order to obtain the personal information on this guy?”
“We’re working on it, but we can’t find a judge willing to set precedence on the Internet. There are other ways of finding out what we need to know.”
“I’m not willing to jeopardize the case by using a hacker, are you?”
“If need be, yeah I’ll risk it. We need a break Morgan and if this is it, then we’ll do what we have to.”
” What did it say?” Morgan shifted the receiver to her other ear.
“Said the news release you gave was wrong, said he wasn’t a copy cat and you should know better than to just dismiss the evidence.”
“Is that a summation or the email?”
“Summation. I’ll forward it to you.”
“What do you think Bax, is this our guy?”
“I don’t know. I want to rule it out as a crank, but if it is our man and we don’t follow up on this the media is going to have a field day at my expense.”
“I still think it’s a copy cat; our guy hasn’t written before no matter what we said about him. I don’t see him changing on us now.”
“You’re probably right Morgan. I’ll trust your judgment on this one.”
The phone rang as Morgan replaced the receiver and once again she raised the handset to her ear.
“Hey gorgeous, just wanted to remind you about tonight.”
“What’s tonight Billy?”
“The benefit. Don’t tell me you forgot.”
“Yeah I forgot, but I’ll be there.”
“Fantastic! Smooches babe, we’ll see you later.”
Morgan replaced the receiver again and leaned back in her chair. What was she going to tell Kathryn?
Deciding to jump off that bridge when she came to it, Morgan showered and dressed for the benefit.
Chapter 9: It’s A Thin Line
Morgan strode in the bar, looking to the entire world the picture of confidence. She had worked hard to convey that persona even though her insides felt like jelly. Why she let Billy talk her into this every year, she didn’t know. She’d run into him a few months back and he asked if she’d sing at the AIDS benefit again this year and without thinking she’d agreed. She had known Billy and his lover Greg for many years and cared deeply for this cause. Since the day Greg tested positive the normally quiet and subdued Billy had thrown himself into helping raise money for a cure.
She’d been so caught up in her workload and trying to deal with her growing feelings for Kathryn that she hadn’t remembered or even practiced for the set she was supposed to do. Going into this cold was putting butterflies in her stomach. Hell, forget the butterflies, she felt like she had a flock of gulls flying in there.
Billy had been shocked when he called and she told him she’d forgotten all about the benefit but that she’d be there. She spotted him standing by Greg’s wheelchair and walked over.
“Hey Billy,” she said as she leaned over to plant a kiss on Greg’s cheek. “How ya feeling big guy?”
“You know how it is Morgan, the counts are up but the energy levels are down. I’m hanging though.” Greg said as he wrapped an arm around her waist. “How have you been? Found a lucky lady to keep you awake at night?”
Morgan ruffled his thinning blond hair and smiled affectionately at him. “Nope no one unlucky enough to give me a second glance yet. You know how the island is, some expect to see me with Megan, and the rest are too intimidated to approach me. Guess I’ll have to shop off island to find a replacement.”
Morgan’s’ heart lurched at the last part of her comment, though meant in jest it still hurt to think of Megan. The love they had shared was special, or so she thought. Maybe it wasn’t for Megan; she’d walked away from 2 years without so much as a second glance. The thought was bringing the heat of tears to Morgan’s eyes.
“Yo, earth to Morgan!” Billy said, waving a hand in front of her eyes.
“Sorry, took a hike through old times there for a sec. What were you saying?” Morgan asked.
“Just wondering what you were going to sing tonight. How many songs do you plan to pleasure us with?”
“Don’t know. I haven’t had any practice so, I guess as many as they’re willing to pay to hear me sing. I haven’t prepared any songs. I’ll just open with something and ask for requests and see how that goes.” Morgan leaned on her guitar case and surveyed the room.
“Sounds good to me. We need to start setting up. You ready to go?”
“Yeah. Give me a minute and I’ll meet you backstage.”
As Morgan walked out of the bar she was pleased to see the place filling up, it looked like it was going to be standing room only before long. She hoped the crowd was willing to part with more than the bar tab. All the proceeds from cover to drinks were going to the benefit. Last year Billy had raised twenty thousand and wanted to double it this year. He’d told her on the phone this morning that they were going to do it a little differently this year and have the audience pay to keep a performer on stage. Highest bidder chooses the song. Good thing for her that her musical tastes were so varied, no telling what this crowd would have her singing.
Locking the hatch on her Land Cruiser, Morgan turned and walked back to the bar. Moving through the crowded room she thought she caught a glimpse of Megan. Craning her head around to get a better look she didn’t see her. A wave of disappointment crashed over her as she decided on her first song.
Walking through the chaos backstage she worked her way over to Billy’s side.
“Hey Billy, is Megan here tonight? I thought I saw her.” Morgan asked with a casualness she didn’t feel.
“Not sure Morg, I know Greg invited her, give me a minute and I’ll go work the crowd and see.”
“Thanks Billy, I appreciate it.”
“Still haven’t made it to over her huh babe?”
Morgan sighed ” I’m trying Billy, really I am. Some things just won’t stay dead and buried you know?”
“Yeah,” Billy said wrapping the taller woman into a comforting hug. “I know, but you know the old cliché, time heals all wounds.”
“I know it but I don’t believe it,” Morgan answered, “Seems time just festers this one, maybe I need a heart amputation.” she joked.
“Naw, I wouldn’t go that far, your heart is what I love most about you.” Billy stated and punctuated with another brief hug.
“Now get tuned so we can start this party.”
“Yes sir,” she saluted and turned to get her Ovation 6 string from the case.
Morgan slipped the guitar strap across her shoulder and taking a pick from the case started tuning. She paced the small backstage area waiting for Billy to finish his surveillance and report back on her Megan sighting. Patience was never Morgan’s strong suit and she found her palms sweating as she waited.
After what seemed like hours to Morgan she saw Billy heading her way.
“Damn what took you so long?”
“Aren’t we Miss Impatience tonight?” Billy kidded her. “Yeah she’s here, you can’t miss her she’s front row center and looking good I might add. She’s cut her hair short but it looks cute on her. I stopped and said Hi, and she asked if you’d be singing tonight. Maybe there’s still a little something there huh?” Billy asked with a grin.
“I don’t know about anything being there for her, but for me that something is taking a long time leaving.”
“Why don’t you talk to her? Try to work things out?”
“Oh well no time for that.” Morgan said as she heard the M.C. announcing her.
Kathryn had been hurt by Morgan’s quick brush off of their dinner plans with an obvious lie. She thought she knew her pretty well, certainly well enough to tell a lie when she heard it. Further proof was had as she watched Morgan put her guitar case in her truck and drive away. The curiosity bug had bitten her right in the ass and she had to know where she was off to. Surely she wasn’t going after some killer armed with a guitar case. She laughed to herself. Not unless she was doing an old B movie with a machine gun hidden in there ala Baby Face Nelson.
Mind made up she grabbed her purse and took off in the rental car. Staying far enough behind so Morgan wouldn’t see her she watched her turn into a parking lot of a place called “The Swamp”. Hmmm, Kate thought, smiling to herself, maybe she did have a machine gun in that case and she was going to hunt crocodiles.
She pulled into the parking lot after Morgan walked into the place and noticed a banner stretched across the front of the building saying “10th Annual Cause for the Cure AIDS Benefit”. Looking at the lot full of cars she decided she could get by with sneaking in and not running into Morgan, Just long enough to see what she’s up to, she thought, Then I’ll leave before she sees me.
Kathryn slipped into the smoky, dimly lit club and made her way through the throng of bodies to the large bar. After getting the bartenders attention she ordered a Fuzzy Navel and looked for a place to stand so she could observe without being obvious. What was Morgan doing in a gay bar she wondered? This was the first time Kathryn had been to a gay bar and The Swamp was nothing like its name. She didn’t know if she was more surprised by the sheer size of the place or by the fact that she couldn’t tell by looking that these people were gay. If it weren’t for the fact that everywhere she looked she saw same-sex couples she would never have guessed. The only gay people she knew were her old college roommate Tracey and her partner Kellie. To her Tracey looked like the stereotypical lesbian. Short hair with a muscular build, her standard dress t-shirts, jeans and work boots. She’d never left doubt in Kate’s mind from that first introduction that she was gay. But Morgan, Morgan wasn’t gay…was she? Naw, she couldn’t be, she looked nothing like a dyke. She was all soft curves and gorgeous hair, and those eyes. God she could look in those eyes forever.
Signaling a waitress for another drink she struggled with the feelings she was still trying to understand, she just couldn’t put her finger on why Morgan had captured her interest so completely. She had never followed anyone before and the idea that she was doing it to her friend surprised her even more. There was just something about Morgan that she found intriguing. Maybe it was the air of mystery she had about her, and sadness, Kate decided there was definitely a sense of deep-seated sadness in her. At times Kate found herself looking at her new friend and thinking she needed a hug. She accepted the drink from the waitress as she thought, Why do I want to hug her? I’ve never been the touchy feely type, and why do I feel like slugging whoever put that sadness in her eyes? This is so out of character for you Kate, she thought to herself, you’re not the violent type either.
Seeing a spot by the stage that shielded her from the musicians but afforded her a clear view of the stage and room, she moved over and staked a claim.
Taking time to study the room, Kate gasped at the number of people crowding into the place. There must be 700 or more people here. She muttered to herself. It was quite a crowd for the island. She wondered how many day-trippers had come for the benefit. She glanced up as the M.C. took the stage and the crowd quieted.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I would like to start out by saying how pleased we are with tonight’s turn out. The annual AIDS benefit is in its 10th year and tonight we hope to raise more funds than ever before. Please dig deep into your wallets and give all you can to this worthwhile cause. Tonight we’re going to change things up a bit. As some of you may already know we are auctioning off the entertainment. What that means is, the entertainers will sing a few songs for you and if you like them then you bid to keep them on stage. The highest bidder gets to pick a song for the entertainer to sing to them. After each song the auction starts again. Any questions?”
There was a smattering of applause but no questions, so the tuxedoed M.C. continued.
“Okay then, let’s get this party rocking. Our first songstress is someone who has lent her talented voice to this event for the last five years. Please give a warm welcome to North Forks favorite lesbian… and single at the moment I might add… Morgan Sumners!”
Kathryn choked on her drink. Well that answers that question. She watched amazed as the crowd went wild for her friend. She had no idea Morgan was this popular, but evidently these people loved her. She found herself letting out the breath she didn’t know she was holding as Morgan took the stage. My God she’s beautiful, Kathryn thought to herself, stunned by the physical beauty she saw before her. Morgan was wearing a blue silk shirt that picked up the color in her eyes and projected it across the room like a shooting star. Her black jeans sculpted her firm thighs and accented the curve of her hip and ass. Breathe Kathryn breathe. She told herself. She couldn’t believe the physical reaction she was having to her friend; her body had never responded to any man the way it was to Morgan. She wondered if she was looking at her differently now that she knew she was gay, no she corrected herself, you’re looking at her the way you always do. Only now you’re seeing her as something more than she was before. You’re seeing her with a little less mystery and a lot more interest.
Morgan adjusted the strap on her guitar and walked to the microphone. “Well that was quite the introduction Wes, you forgot the not looking part after the being single though.”
The crowd broke into laughter as she cocked her eyebrow in Wes’ direction.
“But seriously folks lets try to give all we can tonight. I don’t have to tell you what a worthwhile cause this is, not just for our community but for all the people suffering this horrible disease around the world.”
She backed away from the microphone a step and looked down, locking eyes with Megan she felt her heart jump. She looked different, but the same as well. The hair was shorter and the eyes were distant, but it was her Megan all the same.
Fingering the familiar chords she’d played so often after Megan left she stepped back to the mike and still looking in Megan’s eyes she started singing.
There’s a letter on the desktop that I dug out of a drawer
The last truce we ever came to in our adolescent war
And I start to feel the fever from the warm air through the screen
You come regular like seasons, shadowing my dreams.
The Mississippi’s mighty and it starts in Minnesota
At a place that you could walk across with five steps down
And I guess that’s how you started like a pinprick to my heart
But at this point you rush right through me and I start to drown
And there’s not enough room in this world for my pain
Signals cross and love gets lost and time passed makes it plain
Of all my demon spirits I need you the most
I’m in love with your ghost
Dark and dangerous like a secret that gets whispered in a hush
When I wake the things I dreamt about you last night make me blush
When you kiss me like a lover then you sting me like a viper
I go follow to the river play your memory like a piper
And I feel it like a sickness how this love is killing me
But I’d walk into the fingers of your fire willingly
And dance the edge of sanity I’ve never been this close
In love with your ghost
Unknowing captor, you’ll never know how much you
Pierced my spirit, but I can’t touch you
Can you hear it, a cry to be free?
I’m forever under lock and key as you pass through me
And my bitter pill to swallow is the silence that I keep
It poisons me I can’t swim free the river is too deep
Though I’m baptised by your touch I am no worse than most
In love with your ghost
In love with your ghost (shadowing my dreams)
In love with your ghost
In love with your ghost
Morgan watched as a tear that matched her own slid down Megan’s face. She saw Megan silently mouth the words “I’m sorry” as she returned and launched into Melissa Etheridge’s “Your Little Secret.”
Kathryn was in a word… stunned. She witnessed the exchange between Morgan and the woman sitting in the first row. Was that the woman who put the sadness in her eyes she wondered? She knew Morgan had never taken her eyes from the woman as she sang the hauntingly beautiful song and she caught the whispered I’m sorry from the unknown woman’s lips. What kind of a hold had that woman had on Morgan?
Kathryn found herself getting angry with the nameless woman that was staring so intently at the woman she’d come to call friend. She wondered if what she felt was jealousy. Jealousy that this woman had touched a part of Morgan that she felt was closed off to her. A part she was finding hard to ignore in her own self. With a startling clarity she finally understood that what she wanted from Morgan was the part she’d given to that bitch in the front row. She wanted her heart. With that revelation she leaned back against the wall and decided she’d need a plan to get Morgan to see her as more than her neighbor. More than just her friend.
Morgan wrapped up the last notes of the song as Wes took the stage to start the bidding.
“Ok ladies and gentlemen, who wants to keep her on the stage?”
Hands raised and wolf whistles rang out across the bar as Wes called for the opening bid.
“Let’s start this one at 500 dollars, who’ll give me five hundred for Morgan to sing you a song?”
Bids were called out across the bar, finally the bidding stopped at 1500 and Kathryn looked over to see Megan writing out a check.
Morgan strapped on a lapel mike and adjusted her guitar strap, stepping off the stage and standing in front of Megan.
“What would you like to hear?”
Megan leaned over and whispered to her, so low the mike didn’t pick it up and Morgan began strumming.
Kathryn felt the jealousy take hold of her heart like an iron fist as she watched the look of pain flash across Morgan’s face at the request. She didn’t recognize the tune as Morgan looked at her guitar, picking out the notes. She looked so hurt, and all Kate could think was; I’ll never do that to you. Just love me like I love you and I’ll never hurt you.
Morgan fought back the tears as she launched into Megan’s song. Morgan knew the words and she knew they were meant to close the door, as she started singing, her clear voice rang out across the bar.
I came here to let you know
The letting go
Has taken place
I have held the winter’s son
Set my pace
Isn’t that what we wanted all along
Freedom like a stone
Maybe we were wrong
But I can say goodbye
Now that the passion’s died
Still it comes so slow
The letting go
Piece by piece I take apart
This complicated heart
And I hope to find
Something I can prove is real
I can feel is truth
I can say is mine
That’s all I ever wanted to be
The closer I got
The further I could see
But when lovers change
And the night feels strange
We choose our road
The letting go
I came here to let you know
The letting go
Has taken place
Morgan finished her song and without a second glance walked to the bar and ordered a Jack Daniel’s neat.
Wes walked back to the stage and started the bidding on Morgan’s next song.
Kathryn, never taking her eyes from the woman she now realized owned her heart, wondered if she should make a bid.
Morgan sang another five songs, none to Megan who had gotten her point across, and was bringing in less and less per bid. Kathryn decided it was now or never, and raising her voice she called out, “Twenty-five thousand.”
You could have heard a pin drop as every head turned to her corner.
Morgan looked stunned but couldn’t place the familiar voice. Then her eyes widened in shock as Kathryn made her way from the shadows to the stage, check in hand.
Morgan turned off her mike, stepped off the stage and placed her hand on Kate’s shoulder. “What are you doing here?”
“I followed you. I wanted to know what made you lie about our dinner date, and now I’m going to sing a song for you.”
“You’re going to sing to me?” Morgan asked incredulously.
“You think they’ll let me do that? I know I bid for you to sing, but I have something to say and I need to do it the only way I can.”
“I don’t know, let me ask Wes.”
Morgan signaled Wes over and they huddled for a minute while Wes nodded his head enthusiastically.
Morgan walked back to Kathryn, “He said for twenty-five thousand you can sing all the songs you want. You just put us over the mark from last year.”
“Good.” Kathryn said as she reached up and removed the guitar from the taller woman. “I want you to join me at the piano. You have to listen to what I’m singing because I’ll never get this out otherwise.”
Morgan placed a hand on Kathryn’s arm stopping her forward progress, “How long have you been here anyway?”
“Since a few minutes after you pulled in, why?”
“No reason, just wondering.”
Morgan was panicking now. “Oh God she saw what happened between me and Megan. She knows.” Morgan’s knees almost gave way as the realization hit her. “Now she knows I’m a lesbian, and she would have to have figured out about Megan. How am I going to explain this?” Then she thought, Why should I have to explain anything to her, she’s just a friend, right? Wrong, she’s been more than a friend for a while now, she just doesn’t know it.
Kathryn’s hand on her arm propelled her from her thoughts and toward the stage as Wes regained the microphone.
“Ladies and gents,” he said “We have something a little different happening here but since we’ve achieved our goal in one donation I’m not going to argue. Morgan’s friend….” he paused raising an eyebrow quizzically in Kate’s direction.
Morgan said, “Kathryn.”
“Morgan’s friend Kathryn is going to sing a song to Morgan. Sorry ladies, looks like she’s not quite so single after all.”
The crowd gave a collective laugh as Morgan glared at the short pudgy man and Kathryn just stared at her shoes.
Taking the stage Kathryn walked to the piano and handed the pianist Morgan’s guitar and seated herself. Morgan draped her long frame against the side of the piano, her eyes pinning Kathryn as she started playing. Morgan didn’t recognize the song but the crowd did as they whistled and clapped.
Kathryn’s voice carried over the din as she sang,
Listen as the wind blows from across the great divide
Voices trapped in yearning memories trapped in time
The night is my companion and solitude my guide
Would I spend forever here and not be satisfied
And I would be the one to hold you down
Kiss you so hard I’ll take your breath away
And after I wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes dear
Through this world I’ve stumbled so many times betrayed
Trying to find an honest word to find the truth enslaved
Oh you speak to me in riddles and you speak to me in rhymes
My body aches to breathe your breath your words keep me alive
And I would be the one to hold you down
Kiss you so hard I’ll take your breath away
And after I’d wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes dear
Into this night I wander its morning that I dread
Another day of knowing of the path I fear to tread
Oh into the sea of waking dreams I follow without pride
Cause nothing stands between us here and I won’t be denied
And I would be the one to hold you down
Kiss you so hard I’ll take your breath away
And after I’d wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes dear
I’ll hold you down kiss you so hard
I’ll take your breath away
And after I’d wipe away the tears
Just close your eyes
The audience went wild as Kathryn stood up and without looking at Morgan walked off the stage and out of the bar.
Morgan stood at the piano, tears streaming down her face and thought to herself She loves me, or at least she wants me. She didn’t know what to say and looking up realized Kathryn wasn’t there. She looked around and not seeing her walked off stage to Billy.
“Where is she?”
“She left, finished her song then walked right out the door. Why didn’t you tell me about her, Morgan? She’s a beauty and definitely has the hots for you. Where you been keeping her stashed?” He asked.
Morgan shot him a look and said “I have not kept her stashed anywhere, she’s just a friend.”
“Aw come on no one sings a song like that to someone who’s just a friend. She loves you. Do you love her?”
“She’s the best friend I’ve ever had.” Morgan said.
“From where I’m sitting I can see you’re deluding yourself; she’s more than a friend Morgan and you’d be a fool not to run after her. She has more love in her eyes for you than Megan ever had. That torch burned out long ago, it’s time to drop the stick and go after what you really want. I know you thought you were singing that Ghost song to Megan but are you sure you weren’t singing part of it to Kathryn?”
Morgan ran a verse through her mind.
Unknowing captor, you’ll never know how much you
Pierced my spirit, but I can’t touch you
Can you hear it, a cry to be free?
I’m forever under lock and key as you pass through me
Oh yeah that’s Kathryn alright, She thought.
“You know Billy sometimes you are too damn smart for your own good.” She said affectionately as she hugged him. “Thanks for the eye opener, guess sometimes I really don’t see the forest for the trees huh?”
“Happens to the best of us. Now go get her before she thinks you don’t care. And Morgan, good luck, you deserve happiness you know, not everyone is like Megan. Tell her thanks for the donation from all of us.”
“I will Billy and thanks again.”
She couldn’t wipe the smile off her face as she stepped off stage. Megan reached out to stop her.
“Why did you sing that song to me if you had someone else?” Megan asked angrily.
“Well at the time I didn’t know I had someone else, but now that I do, I don’t intend to make the same mistakes twice. Good-bye Megan.”
“Morgan,” Megan said, grabbing her arm to stop her again, “I, uh well, I just wanted to say I’m sorry for the way I left. I should have given us a chance. Maybe we can talk for awhile, see if we can work things out?”
“Water under the bridge now Megan, just water under the bridge. Now I really have to go; the love of my life is out there somewhere and I want to find her. She owes me a kiss, if I remember that song correctly.”
Chapter 10: The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men
Morgan worked her way through the last of the back slappers in the audience and raced into the parking lot. She scanned the lot but the Mercedes convertible wasn’t there. Walking towards her truck she saw the note under the windshield wiper blade.
I hope I didn’t make a fool out of myself. If I didn’t, then meet me at my place for dinner in an hour and bring the wine.
Your Little One
Morgan slipped the note into her breast pocket and went back inside the bar. Walking through the crowd to the backstage area, she signaled Billy to come and join her.
“Where’s your girl, Morgan?”
“Waiting for me at home, according to this,” She answered, handing him the note.
Billy read the note and handed it back. “See, I told you she loved you. Now what are you doing here? You should be burning up the roads to get to her.”
“I’m scared.” Morgan replied. “I don’t want to mess this one up Billy. I love her so much.”
“You should be telling that to her not me; but Morgan remember this, she’s not Megan and she’s not any of the other women you’ve been with. This one loves you back. Megan wanted to own you and the others wanted your money. Kathryn just wants to love you. Let her.”
“I don’t want to lose her, Billy. I don’t want to go through what I did with Megan again. I would rather wonder what could have been than to know and have her walk away. She can remain the best thing that never happened to me and we could be great friends. I can be happy with that for as long as I need to be.”
“Mind telling me why you’re sitting here acting like you’ve broken up with her and you haven’t been with her yet? What’s wrong with you Morgan? Granted that Megan was a major part of your life for a long time, but you said yourself many times that you didn’t love her. Why are you all of a sudden acting like she was the great love of your life? I don’t know Kathryn, but from the way your eyes light up when you say her name SHE is the great love of your life.”
“I don’t know why. I just know I’m scared to try and I’m scared not to. And you’re right, I wasn’t in love with Megan but I did love her as much as I could. It still hurt when she left, no matter how I felt about her. I don’t think I’ve ever known true love. I don’t know that I even know what it is.”
“I think we’re all destined to meet our true love sometime in our lives. But if we don’t take the chance when we do, then we never know. I’m not talking soulmates and all that gunk, but real love. The kind that makes your heart race and your palms sweat. The kind that has the songs on the radio making sense for the first time, and has you smiling for no reason. Don’t mess this up Morgan, she loves you and you love her. Just admit it to yourself and quit trying to predict the future. Let it happen. And if you’re that scared, take it slow. But don’t give up without trying.”
“Thanks for the reality check Billy. You’re right as usual. I do love her. More than there are stars in the heavens, more than anything in the world. I know that much at least. The rest will fall into place in its own time.”
Billy wrapped his arms around Morgan’s shoulders, giving her a hearty hug and patted her butt. “Now get home and don’t forget the wine.”
Morgan pulled the Land Cruiser into the garage and hit the button to close the door. All the way home, her thoughts had been occupied with Billy’s remarks. She believed what he said about finding your true love and had decided on the way home that Kathryn was hers. She needed the gentle prodding that Billy gave her to finally put things in their proper perspective and now, looking back, she could see things much clearer.
Kathryn had been the catalyst that made her see her life for what is was. Empty and lonely. She was attracted to Kathryn from the first moment she laid eyes on her, but it took Billy to point out that she was in love. The problem she discovered was that Kathryn had usurped her position. She’d always been the one to chase; now she was being chased. The loss of control was what she feared most at that moment.
To truly love Kathryn would require total vulnerability on her part. She would have to trust implicitly, give her heart and soul to someone she’d known less than a week. She was going to have to open her heart, display all her wounds and hope that Kathryn gave back what would be freely given. I can do this, Morgan decided, reaching for the door handle. For Kathryn she’d do just about anything.
The cell phone chirped inside the truck, as Morgan was about to close the door. She listened to the caller and, with a sigh, replaced the phone in its cradle then slammed the truck door. In the bedroom, she exchanged her black jeans and tank for loose fitting jeans, a flannel shirt and hiking boots.
Putting the leash on Casey, she slid open the patio door and walked across the beach to Kathryn’s porch. She saw the petite blond through the sliding glass doors and stopped in her tracks. My God she’s beautiful, Morgan thought. Kathryn had changed after she left the bar. The black cocktail dress was cut low in front showing her cleavage to its advantage and was cut even lower in the back. Her platinum blond locks hung down freely. Black stiletto pumps and a gold choker completed the outfit. A slit in the side ran from the knee to the upper thigh and Morgan’s breath caught in her throat as she watched her glide across the kitchen. Timing, boy oh boy was she going to have to work on her timing.
Stepping onto the deck, she unhooked Casey’s leash and guided her into the kennel sitting against the house. She placed the leash on top of the cage and slid the patio door open. Walking silently up behind Kathryn, she slid her arms around her waist and buried her head in the shorter woman’s neck, placing small kisses along the white expanse.
With a startled gasp, Kathryn turned as Morgan slid her hands from her waist to hold her face in her hands. A gentleness that Morgan didn’t know she possessed came over her as she guided Kathryn’s lips to her own.
Kathryn sighed and leaned into the kiss. Wrapping her arms around Morgan’s neck, she let the kiss deepen briefly before pushing Morgan away. This was nothing like the kiss they had shared when Morgan was sleeping. This was the culmination of desire shared between two halves of the same soul.
“We can’t do this right now Morgan, I have…”
“Who is this?”
Morgan and Kathryn turned at the same time to face the man standing in the doorway to the living room.
“Derek, this is my friend Morgan Sumners. Morgan, this is my boyfriend Derek.”
Morgan sized up the tall, well-muscled, auburn haired man leaning comfortably against the doorframe before walking over to shake hands.
“Nice to meet you Derek, Kathryn’s told me a lot about you.”
“Funny, she never mentioned you.” Derek retorted, gripping Morgan’s hand tightly. He was surprised but strangely pleased to feel the return pressure from the woman standing before him.
“She probably just didn’t want to bore you.” She gave Derek’s hand one last squeeze before releasing it. “Here, let me fix this for you. It’s a little crooked.” Morgan reached over to adjust the bad toupee.
“Boring would be the last word I’d use to describe you Morgan. Do you want to join us for dinner?” Kathryn asked, trying to break the tension she could feel building.
“I can’t Little One, but if you have a minute I need to talk to you.” Turning to face Derek again, Morgan asked, “If that’s alright with you, Derek.”
“Far be it for me to come between a little girl talk.”
“Thanks Derek. I’ll try not to keep her long.” Morgan said. She wanted nothing more at that moment than to shove his head up his own ass. She didn’t know how Kathryn had managed to put up with him for the three years they’d dated.
“See that you don’t. We have a lot of catching up to do. Don’t we sweetheart?” Derek asked, pulling Kathryn roughly against his chest.
“Yes Derek. Yes we do.” She leaned up and placed a peck on his cheek, pushing lightly on his arms trying to get him to release her. Looking at Morgan, she saw the tightly clenched fists and knew that if she didn’t get her out of the house soon, she was going to hurt Derek. Walking over to her side, she cupped her elbow and steered her out the patio door. Morgan allowed herself to be led from the house, but she didn’t look away from Derek until Kathryn slid the door closed.
Kathryn raced to catch up to Morgan’s long strides as she watched the love of her life stalk across the sand to her house. She slowed as she reached Morgan’s house; she didn’t know what to expect when she walked in, but if Morgan’s reaction to Derek was any indication, she knew it wasn’t going to be good.
Morgan strode across the sand and leapt onto her porch. She was trying her best to control the rising anger she was feeling before having to face Kathryn. The earlier call from Baxter hadn’t been welcomed in light of the evening she thought she had planned. Now with Derek in the picture, Morgan didn’t know how the day was going to turn out. She just knew that whatever happened, it better end with Kathryn wanting her and not him.
Hearing Kathryn’s heels click on the porch, she rolled her head around trying to loosen up the muscles in her neck. She felt herself relax as Kathryn slid her arms around her waist, and allowed herself to lean into the embrace, wrapping her own arms around the smaller ones encircling her.
“How do you put up with that condescending prick? He doesn’t even have eyebrows, how can you be with a man like that?”
“He had cancer Morgan. He doesn’t have any hair, but I’ve never seen him this way before. I don’t know what’s wrong with him tonight.”
“Sorry, but why didn’t you tell me he was coming?”
“I didn’t know Morgan, I swear. I thought it was you when he knocked on the door. He called my office and daddy told him where I was. I’ll get rid of him and we can finish our evening.”
“We can’t, I have to leave. We’ve got another murder. I’m flying out as soon as Gin gets here.”
Morgan pulled Kathryn around in front of her and wrapped her in an embrace, laying her head on top of the blond one under her chin. “I love you Kathryn, with all my heart I love you.”
“I love you too, Morgan.”
“So, where do we go from here?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean what about you and me? What about you and Derek? I’m not asking you to choose Kathryn, but I want to know the score. I want to know if you still love him.”
“I don’t know Morgan. Right now I can’t even think of him. I know I want to be with you. I’ll deal with Derek somehow. Just trust me on this one, okay?”
“I don’t have a choice; I have to leave. Will you be here when I get back?”
“I’ll always be here for you Morgan.”
“Can I kiss you?”
“Do you want me to beg?”
“Hmm…do I want you to beg? I’ll have to think about that.” Morgan answered, a mischievous twinkle lighting her azure eyes.
“Maybe I’ll just make you beg instead.”
“Oh, you think so do you?” Morgan asked, leaning down and scooping Kathryn into her arms. She walked from the kitchen into the livingroom. Kathryn’s tinkling laughter trailing behind, she settled them on the couch with Kathryn cradled in her arms. Leaning against the cushions, she pulled Kathryn’s face closer to hers. Looking into the green depths, she put all kidding aside and asked, “Please?”
Carefully, Kathryn reached up and cupped Morgan’s face in the palms of her hands. Morgan felt the coolness of Kathryn’s fingertips press lightly on her cheeks. With infinite gentleness, Kathryn slowly leaned forward and pressed her mouth softly against Morgan’s. For a long, exquisite eternity, there was nothing else but Kathryn’s soft lips, and the slowly building fire of desire no longer denied. Despite all her doubts, Morgan found she was unable to resist. Sliding her arms around Kathryn and pulling her close, she took control of the younger woman with all the passion she had denied herself for so long.
Morgan slid her hands up, pulling the straps of the cocktail dress from Kathryn’s shoulders and buried her face between the creamy expanse of Kathryn’s breasts. Kathryn undid the buttons of Morgan’s shirt and cupped the milky breasts exposed to the amber light falling from the lamp on the end table.
“I want you,” Morgan said between the kisses that she was trailing over Kathryn’s neck. Morgan’s hands wandered down from Kathryn’s shoulders to her waist, down further to her thighs before wandering back up until her fingertips touched the other woman’s breasts. Kathryn moaned quietly and desire coalesced into passion before coursing through both of them as their tongues met once again. Morgan’s hands felt for the zipper at the back of Kathryn’s dress and gasped as the silky material gave way, exposing the generous mounds of her breasts to her heavily lidded eyes.
“Take me Morgan, I’m yours.” Kathryn’s back arched as Morgan moaned and captured a nipple between her lips. It was the most exquisite feeling Kathryn had ever known as Morgan’s tongue and teeth worried the hardened bud between her lips. Without breaking contact, Morgan turned Kathryn in her arms and laid her down on the couch, her hands sliding the dress from Kathryn’s hips and tossing it to the floor.
Morgan’s lips left Kathryn’s breast as her eyes drank in the sight of the beautiful body clad now in black garter belt, stockings and pumps. Morgan had never been one to get turned on by lingerie, but the sight before her had all the blood in her body rushing lower. She’d never seen anything sexier than the blond lying beneath her. Tearing her gaze from Kathryn’s naked form, she laid along side the prone woman and captured the pulse point of Kathryn’s neck with her teeth. Feeling the small form surge beneath her, she applied a little more pressure as Kathryn wound her fingers in the long black tresses, raking her nails against Morgan’s scalp.
Morgan’s lips trailed a line of fire down Kathryn’s neck and captured a nipple between her lips. She sucked gently as she felt the skin pucker and the nipple hardened under her ministrations. Her hand found the twin and teased it to match the one in her mouth. She loved the sounds Kathryn was making under her. Morgan’s body was aflame with desire and the need to posses her lover. Trailing lower, she let her lips and tongue discover the abdomen drawn taunt with expectation. Swirling her tongue in Kathryn’s navel, she chuckled as she heard Kathryn giggle. “Sorry love, I forgot.”
“Shut up Morgan, you talk too much.” Kathryn moaned, her hips rising from the sofa trying to convey what she needed.
Deciding to let the comment pass, Morgan obliged her lover and slid between the now parted legs. She was loving the feel of Kathryn’s legs encased in the stockings and couldn’t resist running her hands up and down the muscular limbs as her tongue slid through the golden hairs at the juncture of Kathryn’s thighs.
Kathryn’s hips bucked at the same time her hands grabbed Morgan’s head and pulled it against her center. “Oh God Morgan, please baby, I want you so bad. Don’t tease me anymore. I can’t stand it, take me.”
Morgan gripped Kathryn’s hips and pulled her tighter against her mouth, tongue parting the sodden hair, searching for the swollen bud. Finding it, she held it gently between her teeth as her tongue slowly swirled around and around. Kathryn was riding Morgan’s face for all she was worth, trying in vain to rush it along, only to be thwarted in her efforts. Morgan refused to be rushed in this endeavor. She didn’t know how long it would be before she had Kathryn in her arms again, and she wanted her to remember this night until she could repeat it.
Pushing Kathryn’s leg down to rest on the floor, Morgan slid her hand along the inside of the soft thigh to join her mouth. Guiding a long finger tentatively inside the warm and slippery tunnel of Kathryn’s sex, she paused as she encountered resistance. Pulling back, she leaned up and looked into her lovers’ face.
“You’re a virgin?”
“Not for long.”
“I can’t do that Kathryn.”
“Yes you can. I want it to be you Morgan.”
“Dammit Morgan! Would you please stop talking and just do it!”
“Are you sure?”
“I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”
Morgan lowered her head and picked up where she left off, sliding two fingers gently inside Kathryn until she felt the resistance again. Slowly, she pistoned her fingers inside, not breaking the barrier but allowing Kathryn to become accustomed to the feel of having something inside of her. She’d never done anything like this before and felt hot tears course down her cheeks at the trust Kathryn had freely given to her. She was petrified of hurting her and decided to take it very slow. She wanted to make it happen as gently as possible.
Kathryn, on the other hand, had decidedly different intentions. She waited as Morgan slid out a little and as she felt the long slender fingers gliding in again thrust her hips forward to meet them, rupturing the barrier as she felt an orgasm overtake her. The momentary pain she felt was inconsequential as waves of pleasure washed over her. Screaming Morgan’s name, she leaned on her elbows and stared between her legs at Morgan as she rode the orgasm to its conclusion.
Morgan’s teeth and tongue continued their attack through two more orgasms before Kathryn scooted backwards and held out her arms.
“Stop Morgan. Hold me please?”
Morgan slid her fingers from Kathryn with as much gentleness as she could muster and scrambled over Kathryn to enfold her in her arms. Kathryn buried her face in Morgan’s shoulder and slid her hands under the flannel shirt wrapping them around Morgan’s back as her body convulsed through the last waves before becoming still.
“Whew! Damn Morgan, that was better than last time. You weren’t kidding when you said you had many skills. Is it always like that?”
“It’s never been like that for me.” Morgan answered. Then the rest of Kathryn’s statement hit home, “What do you mean by the last time?”
The doorbell ringing cut off Kathryn’s reply. Saved by the bell, she thought, before pushing Morgan off her and reaching for her discarded dress. Snatching it from the floor, she raced for the stairs as Morgan quickly buttoned her shirt and ran shaky fingers through her hair trying to straighten the tangled mess.
Morgan tucked in her shirt and took a calming breath as she opened the door to let Gin inside the house.
“Hey Gin, come on in. I’m running late. Give me a minute to throw some things in a bag and I’ll be right with you.
“We have to hurry Sumners, the plane’s waiting on us.”
“I know. Just give me a minute, okay? I’ll hurry.” Morgan answered tensely. She wasn’t in the mood to deal with Gin right now. All she wanted was to meet Kathryn upstairs and continue what they’d started.
Morgan took the stairs two at a time and joined Kathryn in the bedroom.
“Sorry about that Little One. I should have known better than to start something I couldn’t finish.”
“Oh no, you finished. It was me that didn’t get the chance to get started. Just wait ‘til you get back though.”
“Yeah, we’re going to finish that conversation you started.” Morgan watched as Kathryn slid the black sheath in place and turned her back waiting to be zipped up. Walking over, she knelt behind the blond and rained kisses along the smooth back exposed to her.
“Don’t start something you won’t finish Morgan, because if you do, I can guarantee you won’t be going anywhere tonight but to that bed.”
“I wish Little One. You don’t know how much I wish for just that. I don’t think Derek would like it much though. He’s probably wondering where you are about now.”
“Forget Derek, this is where I want to be.”
Morgan zipped the dress and turned Kathryn to face her. “You’ll never know how much I love you Little One. Not if you live forever. Leaving you right now is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and it’s killing me inside to know you’ll be going home to him tonight.”
“I’ll be going home Morgan. Not going to him. Just because he’s there doesn’t mean I’m going to him. I’ll tell him I don’t want to date him anymore and ask him to leave. When you get back, it’ll just be you and me, I promise. I love you Morgan, I have since the first night. Believe me, I want you as much as you want me.” Kathryn wrapped her arms around Morgan’s waist and leaned up on her tippy toes to capture Morgan’s mouth with her own.
Morgan allowed the kiss to go on for a few seconds before she released Kathryn and turned to the dresser. Tossing clothes on the bed, she walked into the closet for her duffel bag and saw the shirt Kathryn slept in and added it to the pile on the bed. If she couldn’t have Kathryn in her bed tonight, she’d at least have her scent to lull her to sleep.
She tossed the clothes in the bag as Kathryn walked into the bathroom to comb her hair. Creeping up behind her, she placed a kiss on Kathryn’s neck. “I do believe you love. I’ll come home to you as soon as I can.” Meeting the green eyes staring back at her from the mirror, she thought what a perfect couple they’d made. The dark and the light complimenting each other in every way. She knew with stunning clarity that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with this woman in her arms. Nothing else mattered as much as Kathryn’s happiness and if she was as genuinely happy with Morgan as she professed to be, then she was going to spend the rest of her days making damn sure she stayed that way.
“Where are you going love?”
“Warwick, Rhode Island. We’re staying at the Sheridan by the Sunlan Airport. The body is in Goddard Park. We’ll probably spend the better part of the night there, but I’ll have my cell phone if you need me or just want to talk.” Morgan walked into the bedroom and picked up the pad and pen by the phone, writing her cell number as well as the Bureau number down and handed the paper to Kathryn. “Call me anytime you want, okay?”
“Okay, but I don’t want to bother you.” Holding up her hand to stop Morgan’s protestations, she said, “Look, I know first hand what you do on a crime scene and you don’t have time to be talking to me on the phone. If I need you I’ll call, but otherwise, I’ll see you when you get home. You have the number to Janice’s house, so you can always call me if you have time. This will be a good time to test that old saying about absence making the heart grow fonder.”
“I don’t need a test, I already know I’ll miss you. I love you Kathryn Peterson, don’t you go forgetting that while I’m gone. You’ll be on my mind the whole time I’m away.” Morgan hugged Kathryn one last time and kissed her thoroughly before releasing her. “I have to go now. Wait until I’m gone before you leave. The alarm will set itself once you lock the door. Oh shit! I forgot to take J.D. to Mildred’s. Will you let her stay with you tonight and take her over for me tomorrow?”
“Sure babe, now hit the road before Gin comes up here looking for you.”
Morgan grazed Kathryn’s lips one last time before picking up her bag and backing out of the bedroom. When she reached the stairs, she turned, feeling her heart lurch as she walked away from the most important thing in her life.
The trip to the airport was made in silence, as was the flight to Rhode Island, the look on Morgan’s face effectively stifling any notion her team had of trying to make conversation with the agent. She looked the way she felt. Pissed at having to leave Kathryn behind and miserable for the same reason.
Stepping off the small twin engine plane, she walked up to the agent waiting on the tarmac. Extending her hand, she introduced herself and immediately forgot his name as she got in the waiting car and was driven to the crime scene.
Pulling on a pair of surgical gloves, she walked toward the roped off area around the body. She looked around, taking in every detail of the beach and the people being held in a small group by the local police. Goddard Park was a state park and prone to tourists as well as locals in the summertime according to the agent who had driven her. There was a large carousel on the beach as well as a fire pit for campfires and hot dog roasting. Public restrooms skirted the parking lot and the victim was found outside the facilities close to the woods but within sight of anyone heading in that general direction.
Morgan walked the perimeter of the body, taking notes as she went. The victim was about 5 ’10 with brown eyes, a slight but muscular build and wavy brown hair. He was nude, as were all the victims, and appeared to have been bludgeoned. The slight depression in the side of his skull led Morgan to that assumption, but would bear out later on autopsy. His hands were folded across his chest, his feet placed together. To Morgan, it looked like he was already in his coffin.
She motioned Gin to begin taking photographs and took Bones aside to talk to him.
“This is our guy. I knew that body in my lab was a copycat. What do we know about this victim?”
“He’s a local. Name’s Jay Bennett. Thirty-one years old and he was here with his ex-girlfriend and some others including her new boyfriend. The police have her down at the station along with the boyfriend.”
“What were they doing at the beach on a Wednesday?”
“Don’t know. Didn’t ask. They’re going to hold the two of them until you can question them.”
“Fine. When Gin’s finished, do your thing. I’m going to the station. Meet me later at the hotel and we’ll compare notes. I don’t have to tell you to keep your eyes open.”
“No you don’t. See you later.”
Chapter 11: One Question Leads to Another
Morgan watched the scenery pass by her window without really seeing it; her mind was occupied with a certain platinum blonde sitting in New York with a Neanderthal. She hoped Kathryn would get rid of Derek as she promised. Morgan didn’t like the feelings of insecurity running through her mind but she couldn’t help it. She didn’t know how Kathryn would react to their lovemaking. Losing her virginity had to have been a little traumatic, not to mention losing it to another woman. Would Kathryn decide that she had made a terrible mistake? She had promised that she’d be there when Morgan got home, but would she be?
They pulled up behind a nondescript red brick building that Morgan surmised must be the local police department. She hadn’t been paying attention when they pulled in but from the looks of the place it was like every station she’d ever been to. Walking down the green halls she wondered why puke green paint was so popular with the boys in blue. It had to be inspiring for the drunks being held overnight. She knew it was turning her stomach and she hadn’t had anything to drink since the bar.
They stopped in front of a room and looking through the one way glass, Morgan saw a woman of about 29 sitting at the table. She was about 5 ‘8, 135 lbs. with light brown hair and blue eyes. Morgan turned to the agent standing beside her. “How long has she been here?”
“About four hours now.”
“Has she eaten?”
“Not since she’s been here.”
“Go to McDonald’s and grab us some burgers and fries. She’s going to be here a while longer.”
“Yes ma’am. Anything else?”
“What’s her name?”
“Pati St. Jean.”
“Okay, thanks, that’ll be all. Just hurry back with the food, I’m starving. Oh and cut the onions on both. Find out if the boyfriend wants anything as well.”
Morgan looked at the woman again before walking in the room. She was crying softly and from the puffiness around her eyes Morgan knew she’d been doing that for some time. Setting her shoulders and putting a concerned look on her face, she opened the door and stepped into the interrogation room.
“Hello, I’m Special Agent Morgan Sumners with the FBI, and you are?” Morgan extended her hand.
“Pati… Pati St.Jean.” She stood and shook the taller agent’s hand.
“Ms. St. Jean I understand you found the body?”
“Yeah. I was with my boyfriend and I left to go the restroom… that’s when I saw him.”
“How far was he from where you were heading?”
“Oh he was close… I mean where he was, just to the left of the restroom door… I thought I saw something and that’s how I found him.”
“Did you see anyone around the area while you were walking to the restroom?”
“Well the park is usually pretty crowded, and at that time of the day all of the families were headed home but the teenage crowd was just starting to get there, so there were a lot of people walking around… and it all happened so fast…. I mean I was walking and I thought I saw something so I went to check it out…and there he was.”
“Now I understand that this man… Jay Bennett…was a member of your group. It’s also reported that he was an ex-boyfriend of yours. Was he with someone or did he come alone?”
“Oh yeah… well Jay and I dated on and off… nothing really serious; he was a good friend of mine, and he came alone but I think I heard that someone was supposed to meet up with him later on.”
“And your boyfriend? What’s his name? He didn’t mind that your ex was along on an outing?”
“Rob? No he didn’t mind. He knew that there wasn’t anything really serious between Jay and I. We were just really good friends. Rob understood that; he’s not the jealous type.”
“So why did Jay leave the group?”
“Well I really wish I knew the answer to that. There weren’t any problems or fights if that’s what you’re asking. I think he might have wanted to use the phone to meet up with his mystery date.”
“You don’t know who he was meeting?”
“No, he tried to tell me about meeting someone special, but he was like that, you know? I mean he found the love of his life every week or so, so I didn’t really pay attention, and now that might have cost him his life. I wish I had paid attention to him now.”
“Why did the two of you break up?”
“Well it wasn’t really a break up. I mean, we were great friends; we mistakenly thought we could be great lovers as well. It just didn’t work. We had a lot of fun, but there wasn’t any chemistry between us. We both decided it was better to be friends. Everything went back to the way it was and then I met Rob and I believe that Jay was happy for me. I guess in the end he was a better friend to me than I was to him.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Well, when I met Rob he would listen to me go on about him for hours. Anytime I needed or wanted to talk about Rob he always listened, and offered advice and support where he could. But when he tried to tell me about his special person, I wasn’t there for him. I didn’t listen and I just thought it would be like all the rest. And because of that I may have cost him his life. I’m responsible for that.”
“Probably not. It’s a case of wrong place wrong time…. There’s nothing here to suggest any of this will be or is your fault…would you like something to drink with your burger?” Morgan asked as the agent brought in the food.
“Yeah I’ve been here awhile. Can I get a coffee? Black please. Thanks. And thanks for saying that, but I know I should have listened. Jay would have.”
“What about Rob, how did he get along with Jay? Was there any animosity between them?”
“No, actually they got along great, surprisingly enough Jay seemed to understand Rob, and Rob really liked him. Everyone liked Jay. He had a way of making you feel comfortable and safe.”
“Was Jay the type to go off with someone he didn’t know; would he help out strangers or anything like that?”
“Yeah, Jay would help anyone. He always had time to help someone out of a jam. That’s why this doesn’t make any sense. Jay didn’t have an enemy in the world. How could this happen?” She put her head in her hands and stared at the floor.
“So there’s no one you can think of that would have a vendetta against him? No one that would want him dead?”
“Oh God, I still can’t believe that he’s gone. No I don’t know of anyone who would want to hurt him. I know it sounds lame but everyone really did love him.”
Morgan finished her burger and tossed the wrapper into the sack, reaching for the fries. She was pleased at the way the interview was going. Pati was an excellent subject; she gave answers willingly and expanded her answers enough to allow Morgan to know what to ask next. If this killer was ever caught and Morgan had to bring this young woman to court the jury was going to love her.
“Why don’t you tell me about Jay…what did he like to do, what is his family like…what kind of person was he…that sort of thing.”
“Umm… well let’s see… he was a little older than I am; in fact his birthday is coming up. He was going to be 32. He has two brothers and a sister who lives out of state. They’re not a very close family. That bothered him, a lot more than he liked to admit. He always wanted a closer relationship with them but since their parents divorce it just split the family up. Well as I already told you he was a kind person, he enjoyed horseback riding and golf, and fixed up old cars on the weekends. He was a lot of fun and he never seemed to let the world get to him. He always listened and rarely judged. He was my best friend.”
“How many people were in your group at the beach?”
“Oh, five, maybe six… let me think there was Rob and me and Jay, and Laurie and Nathan, and Janelle. So there were six of us all together and we were waiting for Jay’s mystery person to show.”
“I thought he was leaving to call so he could meet them?”
“Yeah he was, wait a minute I think I’m confused here, I thought you wanted to know how many of us were at the beach. That would be 6, and Jay was talking about having his friend meet us, but while I was swimming he must have left. When I got back he was gone. Then I had to use the restroom, and, well, you know the rest.” Pati fidgeted in her seat, uncomfortable with the situation in general and weary from an already much too long day.
“Where was everyone else while he was gone? Were all of you in the water?” Morgan folded her hands on the table in front of her and assumed a relaxed position.
“No, not all of us. Rob doesn’t like the sun so he doesn’t go swimming. He usually brings one of those umbrellas and reads while we’re there. Laurie and Nathan were playing volleyball in some kind of pick up game. Janelle had fallen asleep tanning, so I was bored and went for a swim, but I wasn’t gone long. Just the length of the beach.”
“Let’s backtrack a minute. You said earlier that you didn’t know why Jay left the group but you thought he might have wanted to use the phone to meet up with his mystery date. So was he going to meet this person at the beach or somewhere else?”
“I don’t know why he left, I wasn’t there then. All afternoon he was talking about wanting us to meet his special friend. So I’m assuming that they would’ve met up at the beach, and then gone out later on when we all spilt up for the night. Usually after dinner.”
“Who was Jay with when he left to make the call?”
“Well, he was with Rob for awhile under the umbrella and Janelle was asleep on the blanket. Hey hold up a minute, you don’t think that one of us had anything to do with Jay’s murder, do you?” Pati’s eyes widened at the thought.
“We’re just covering all the bases here Ms. St. Jean. No one is accusing anyone of anything just yet. We ‘re trying to gather facts, that’s all.”
“I guess I’m just a little edgy. Sorry.” She sighed.
“That’s perfectly understandable Ms. St. Jean. I’m sure this is a trying time for you. Did you and your friends make a habit of going to this particular beach often?”
“Everyone goes there, not really for the beach though. It’s a state park so there’s lots of stuff to do and it’s central to everything so it’s easy to get to. But the beach is really pretty, and it has been kind of hot lately so that’s where we went. It’s actually walking distance from where we parked.”
“Did you all travel in the same car or did you bring separate vehicles?” Morgan made periodic notes on a tablet but for the most part kept her attention focused on the young woman in front of her.
“Some of us had separate cars. Rob and I shared one car and Laurie and Nathan and Janelle were in another. But Jay came alone.”
“How far was he parked from the restrooms?”
“Oh… well that’s harder to say. After you enter the park you can go anywhere you want, we always meet up at the large grove of trees by the carousel. There’s a large firepit for cookouts and lots of trees for shade. We met there and went to the beach. I’m not good with distances… but I’d guess 100 yards or so… but it’s probably less if you cut through the trees.”
“Did you see anyone suspicious around the restroom or parking area? Someone not dressed for the beach or park?”
“Well there were a lot of people there when we got there, and then when I had to use the restrooms it was crowded again, lots of people running around. Noisy families were getting ready to head home. But wait a minute. There was one guy… nobody really special, just a guy in blue slacks and a white shirt, but it was kind of odd because it was too hot for that kind of clothing. That’s the only thing that I can remember that seemed out of place.”
“Can you describe him? Was he short? Tall? White, Black, Hispanic? Hair color? Eye color? Anything that may help?”
“Describe him… well there isn’t much to say really… he was just a guy… not really tall but not short, so, average I guess. He was wearing a white shirt and blue slacks, I really didn’t get close enough to see his eye color, but he had on a baseball cap with a team logo on it. I didn’t see the name of the team. I don’t know what color hair he had. I guess I really didn’t get a good look at him. Nothing about him stands out in my mind. I’m sorry.”
“Could you pick him out of a line up?”
“No, I don’t think so. He looked like everybody else except for his clothing. If he had shorts and a tee shirt on I’d never even have noticed him.”
“Would you be willing to work with a hypnotherapist to see if we can pick up anything you can’t remember now?”
“Yeah, if you think it would help. I’ll do anything to help catch whoever did this.” Pati looked tired.
“Why were all of you at the beach on a weekday?”
“Laurie and Nathan work the night shift at the store with me, so they had the day free, and I work early mornings so I’m free during the day. Rob has a vacation day, and Jay was self- employed.”
“What line of work was he in?”
“He had started his own company doing web page design. It hadn’t really taken off yet but he thought it would.”
“Did he have anyone working for him or did he work alone?”
“He pretty much worked by himself. He couldn’t afford to hire anyone.”
“Did he live alone or did he have a roommate?”
“He rented this big old house from the old principal at our high school. He lived by himself but he usually had someone staying over. If someone needed a place to crash for awhile he let them.”
“Who do you think would have the most to gain from his death?” Morgan toyed with the pencil in her hand.
“I would say his family, but he really didn’t have that much. He did okay with the web stuff but he wasn’t getting rich at it.”
“Thank you for your cooperation Ms. St. Jean…we’ll have someone contact you tomorrow. Is there anything else you can remember no matter how small or minor that would help?”
“No I don’t think so…but I’ll think it over tonight and if I think of something then I’ll tell the therapist tomorrow. Or should I contact you?”
“You can contact me directly. Here’s my card and cell phone number…again I’d like to thank you Ms. St. Jean. I know this has been hard on you.”
“Yeah it has, you really don’t know how lucky you are until something happens. This morning my biggest concern was tan lines, and now I have a funeral to plan. I still can’t believe it… Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Goodnight Ms. Sumners.”
Morgan waited for Pati to leave with an officer before shutting off the tape recorder. She had made a few notes on her pad and would have the rest transcribed later. Unclipping the cell phone from her belt she dialed the familiar number at Janice’s house. She wanted to hear Kate’s voice, but the phone rang without being picked up. Flipping it closed, she reattached it to her belt deciding that Kate must have gone for a walk or maybe Derek had taken her out to eat.
A knock at the door alerted her to the desk sergeants’ presence.
“Agent Sumners, the boyfriend is here as well. Do you want to see him now?”
“Yeah, go ahead and bring him in, and another tape for this machine also.”
Morgan stood as the sergeant escorted Rob Thornton into the room. He was about 6’2 with short brown hair and hazel eyes that for a moment reminded her of Kate’s. Morgan admired the barbed wire tattoo running around his left bicep and wondered how anyone stood that kind of pain in what could be a very tender area.
Extending her hand she introduced herself. “Mr. Thornton, I’m special agent Morgan Sumners with the FBI. I’d like to ask you a few questions about what happened at the beach today.”
“Special agent with the FBI? Why would the FBI be interested in this case?”
“No particular reason Mr. Thornton, we just are. Mind if I call you Rob?”
“Oh yeah sure you can call me Rob, no problem. How can I help you? Didn’t Pati already cover everything?”
“She covered what she needed to Rob, but there are still things I’d like to go over with you. Such as what you were doing at the beach on a weekday?”
“I was there with my friends. I’m on vacation this week. We thought it would be fun to get together and go hang out at the park, but it was so hot that we walked over to the beach once we got there.”
“What type of relationship did you have with Jay?”
“Jay and I had a strange relationship. I’m sure Pati already told you that they’d dated briefly. Well that put me in an awkward position, but Jay understood that she was with me now, and he went out of his way to make me feel accepted. He always did that kind of thing for other people.” Rob slouched in the chair and chewed on his fingernails.
“Everyone seems to be painting Jay as a saint, why?”
“Well as lame as it sounds he was as close to one as you will find in this day and age. I don’t think he did it to be good, I think it was more of need to be accepted by others to fit in, you know. I know he missed his family a great deal.”
“Why did he leave the group?”
“I wish I knew. Just before he left, it seems like everyone else did too. Pati went swimming and Laurie and Nathan were playing volleyball. It left just me and Janelle with Jay. I was reading and he said something about stretching his legs. I know he was waiting for someone to show, but they never did.”
“Did you know this mystery date of his?”
“No I don’t think anyone did. He was closer to Pati than the others so if she didn’t know, no one did. He was closed off about certain things. As far as I was concerned his private life was just that… private.”
“Did anyone see you while Jay was gone?”
“I don’t know, Pati might have seen me from the water, or Laurie or Nathan may have when they stopped the game to switch sides. Why? Do I need a witness? Are you accusing me of something?” He stretched his legs out in front of him and looked quizzically at the stunningly beautiful agent sitting across from him. He felt slightly intimidated but somehow at ease all at the same time.
“I’m not accusing anyone right now Rob, I just wanted to cover all the bases. Did you see anyone at the park who didn’t seem to fit in?”
“Okay, but just for the record I didn’t kill Jay. Did I see anyone… it’s hard to say. There were a lot of people there. Lots of noise and people coming and going. The only guy I can think of and it’s probably nothing but there was someone there that was dressed, you know? Not in normal beachwear, but long sleeves. He was kind of strange I guess. Maybe it was a dare or something.”
“What made you notice him?”
“Well he was standing off to the side alone. He was standing next to people but he wasn’t with them. And he was wearing the wrong clothes. I mean it was hot and he had on long sleeves and a hat. He just didn’t look right, that’s why I thought it may be a dare.”
“Did you see him with anyone? Did anyone approach the guy?”
“No the first time I saw him he was alone, just kind of staring off into the ocean. The second time I saw him he was with Jay. Oh God! He was with Jay! Why didn’t I remember that before?” Rob sat up in the chair as the realization of the facts washed over him. Morgan noted to herself that although she wasn’t going to rule anyone out, his shock seemed genuine.
“What was he doing with Jay? We’re they talking or what?” She looked at him intently.
“Okay. Let me think a minute. Jay was walking toward the food stands, and then he was talking with the guy. I didn’t see who approached who but then Jay was nodding and they talked some more and then I saw Jay a little later on with a tire, so the guy must have needed help.”
“When you saw them again, were they at Jay’s car or somewhere else?”
“They were, oh God I can’t believe I forgot that I saw him. Pati and the rest of the group were so upset I just totally blanked. Okay let me think…they were at a car, but it wasn’t Jay’s… he had a silver truck. This was a black sports car, with tinted windows.” Rob was standing now, pacing back and forth in front of Morgan. She thought briefly about asking him to sit down again but decided against it.
“And the next time I saw Jay he had a tire in his hand so I guess he was helping him. I didn’t think twice about it at the time; Jay always did that kind of thing. But I was too far away to see the model of the car or the plate. I should have offered to help; I knew he was changing the tire. But I didn’t and I might have been the last person to see him alive.”
“Can you describe the man?”
“No not really, he didn’t stand out at all, especially from a distance. He was average. He had on a long sleeved white shirt and blue slacks, more like dress pants than jeans but I was far away. And a Patriots cap. I don’t remember any more than that.”
“Did you see his face? Even in profile? Distinguishing marks? Anything at all?”
“When I was close enough to see his face I paid more attention to his cap. It was the same one that I have but it was too hot to wear it. So I thought it was strange that he was wearing his, but I didn’t notice anything else about him.”
“Describe this hat for me. You said it was a ball cap?”
“Yeah, it was a New England Patriot’s ball cap. It has a dark blue background, with the word Patriots spelled out in red with white lines through it.”
“Was it new or old? Did it look worn or like he’d just bought it?”
“The colors were sharp, it didn’t have the worn look to it. I’ve had mine since ’94 and it’s faded now. This one didn’t look like that. He either just bought it or took exceptional care of it.”
“You said that at one time you were close enough to see his face but didn’t, how tall would you say he was?”
” Well keeping in mind that I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to him, I’d guess he would be around my height. I’m 6 ‘2, so he might be as tall or a little shorter. I’m not really sure. He seemed average.” Rob’s eyes were darting back and forth as he spoke, as if it might help him remember things more clearly.
“I want you to do something for me Rob. I want you to close your eyes and picture the scene. You’re walking up on this guy, what do you see? Try to think about anything besides the cap and his clothes. Was he clean -shaven, did he smell funny? What sticks out to you about this guy?”
“Okay I’ll try. I wish I had paid more attention while I was really there, but I’ll try. I had finished my book and was headed out to the car for a magazine. Jay had already left but he wasn’t with that guy yet. I had to go to the park because we all met there and walked to the beach. I can remember seeing him just standing there. It was strange too because all around him there was activity… mothers with children, teenagers laughing, that kind of thing and there he was all alone.
I saw the cap and the clothes and I just shrugged it off and went on to get the magazine. I don’t remember a beard so he might have been clean- shaven. The only smells I can remember are the hamburgers and fries and the smell of sun tan lotion. Sorry I can’t be of more help, I just didn’t pay attention.”
“That’s okay Rob, you’ve been a big help already. One more question, could you point out where the car was?”
“Where my car was or where the black car was?”
“Where the black car was. Did you happen to notice if it was a four door or two?”
“It was near the Carousel, just to the side of it near the woods. That’s a no parking zone so the guy must have had car problems. It was a sporty car, sort of sleek, I think it was a two- door. But I’m not sure; I didn’t think it was important at the time.”
“If you don’t mind, would you go back out there tonight with an officer and show my forensic pathologist where the car was parked? I sent Pati home with an officer and she’ll stay with her until you’re done at the park.”
“Is it that important? I mean, was I the last person to see him? If I wasn’t so interested in my reading I could have helped him. Oh God.” Rob sat back in the chair and looked up at the agent.
“No you weren’t the last person to see him, the killer was. Yes it’s important, we need to go over the first crime scene to see what evidence is there. To ease your mind Rob, there was probably nothing you could have done that would have kept Jay alive. But there is something you can do that may help catch his killer.”
“Thank you for saying that, but if I had taken the time to help him it may have saved his life or at least I’d have a better description of the killer. I knew he was going to change a tire, at the very least I could have offered to help, it was brutally hot out. I can’t change what I didn’t do, but I will do whatever you need me to. I owe it to Jay.”
“A piece of advice Rob, don’t waste time on what could have been’s or what ifs. It won’t help you and it won’t help Pati. You can’t change what’s happened, it wasn’t your fault and it wasn’t her fault. Let it go, mourn Jay for the person he was and don’t mourn yourself for what you could have done. Hindsight is always 20/20, but it does us little good.” Morgan leaned forward and studied him for a moment as he continued.
“Yeah I know you’re right, it’s just hard to know that you could have done something but chose not to. Especially since Jay was the opposite, he was caring to a fault. But I’ll deal with that later, right now I want to show the officer where I think the car was, and then I’ll look for closure.”
“Thanks for doing this Rob, I know it’s been a rough day for you and we’ll try not to keep you too much longer.”
“Yeah it’s been a long day, and it doesn’t look like it’ll get easier anytime soon, but this is important. I’ll do whatever you say.” He folded his arms in front of them and rested his chin on them.
“There’s an agent sitting outside, he’ll drive you back to the park. Bones will meet you there and once you show him where the car was you can head on home to Pati. You and Pati have my condolences on the loss of your friend. If there’s anything I or the Bureau can do for the two of you don’t hesitate to call. Pati has my card and you can call anytime, especially if you remember something later.”
“Oh ok then if Pati has the numbers, I’d like to go out there and see the site again, while it’s still fresh in my mind. If I remember anything else – if either of us does- we’ll be sure to call you first thing.”
“Thanks Rob, you can head on out there if you’re ready.”
Morgan sighed as Rob left; he had given her more information than Pati, but not enough to do much good. She was tired from the flight and the two interviews she’d done and decided that the field agents could conduct the rest of the interviews. She was going to the motel and to bed.
Pulling the cell phone out once again she dialed Bones and told him Rob was coming to point out the first crime scene. She signaled to the agent waiting by the desk, removed the second interview tape, and asked for a ride to the hotel.
Chapter 12: One Piece at a Time
Morgan shouldered her bag and reached into the car for her briefcase, saying thanks to the agent that drove her over. She closed the door and walked into the bustling lobby of the Sheridan. Walking up to the check in desk, she set her bags on the ground and waited for the clerk to find her reservation.
“Sorry ma’am, I don’t show a reservation for Morgan Summers.”
Morgan cocked an eyebrow at the teenage boy behind the desk. Looking at his nametag she lowered her voice an octave, trying to regain control of her temper. “It’s Sumners, Toby, that’s S-U-M-N-E-R-S, not Summers.”
Toby quickly punched in the correct spelling of Morgan’s last name and was relieved when the computer pulled up her reservation. With shaking hands he tore the receipt from the printer and slid it across the counter with a pen. “If you’ll sign here, Ms. Sumners, I’ll have the bellhop take your bags up.”
“I can take my own bags.” Morgan said, looking at the bill. “Why is Virginia’s name on this?”
“You’re sharing a room with her. The reservation was made for two.”
“I don’t want to share a room. Find me a single.”
“We don’t have any more rooms available ma’am. There’s a convention in town and all the hotels are booked.”
“Fine, just give me the key.”
Toby slid the key across the counter and started to give directions to the room, until he noticed he was talking to her retreating back. “Geez, and a nice evening to you too, Agent Sumners.”
Morgan slid the card key into the slot and walked into her room. Flipping the switch by the door, she set her bag on the floor and walked to the small round table and set her briefcase down before heading for the shower.
Reaching into her bag, she pulled out the shirt Kathryn had slept in as well as a pair of boxer shorts. With only one bed in the room she was going to have to share with Gin and didn’t feel comfortable sleeping in her normal bedtime attire.
Pulling on the shirt, she relaxed against the headboard and dialed room service, rubbing the towel briskly over her raven locks. She almost didn’t hear when the phone was picked up on the other end.
“Room service, may I help you?”
“Yeah, I’d like a cheeseburger with the works, fries and a Dr. Pepper delivered to room 1204.” Morgan had eaten at the interrogation but she was hungry again and her stomach had made itself known in the shower by grumbling loudly.
“Yes ma’am we’ll have that right up to you.” The pleasant voice answered on the other end of the phone.
Morgan hung up the phone and flipped through the channels waiting for room service to deliver her meal. She didn’t have to wait long, within fifteen minutes a knock on the door signaled dinner and signing the check she devoured the cardboard tasting burger and soggy fries. Popping the top on the soda she downed it in two swallows and tossed it back on the cart.
Allowing a small, undignified burp to escape, she picked up the phone and dialed Kathryn’s house again, surprised to hear the voice on the other end.
“Hey Little One, how’s it going?”
“Morgan! I’m so glad you called. It’s going okay, but I miss you. I wish you were here with me.”
“Me too baby, I miss you so much. I called you earlier but you weren’t in.”
“Derek wanted to walk along the beach.”
“Is he still there?”
“Yeah, I haven’t told him yet. He was acting funny all night and I didn’t want to get into an argument. You aren’t mad are you?”
“No, I’m not mad. I don’t want you getting into an argument with him either. I don’t want to talk about him, unless you need to that is.”
“No I don’t need to talk about him. How’s the case going? Are you going to be there long?”
“Not sure yet, we had a couple of semi witnesses but nothing really concrete. We may be wrapped up in a few days. At least I hope we are.”
“I hope you are too, I want you home with me.”
“Me too Little One. What are you doing tonight?”
“I was reading Janice’s journals, but now I’m brushing out my hair before bed.”
“Did I ever tell you how much I love your hair? I love running it through my fingers; it’s like silk.” Morgan smiled at the visual images running through her mind and then sighed at the loss she felt being away from her beloved.
“No you never told me that, but I love yours just as much. Hey, did you know that Mel and Janice were a couple? Like us I mean?” Kathryn sounded delighted.
Morgan chuckled at Kate’s naiveté; “Yeah I knew they were a couple. Like us huh? So you consider us to be a couple?” Morgan held her breath on that one. Let her say yes, if there is a God in heaven let her say yes.
“Well, yeah, I do, don’t you?”
Morgan released the breath she was holding, “Oh yeah, I just wasn’t sure about you. I don’t want to rush you into something you aren’t ready for.”
“I’m ready for anything with you.”
“Oh really? How about bungee jumping with me this weekend?” Morgan smirked; Kathryn had explained her fear of heights while they were shopping in Greenport and Morgan knew there was no way in hell Kathryn would ever be ready for that.
“Okay so maybe not anything, but just about anything.”
“Yellow just isn’t your color Little One; we’re going to have to work on your fear of heights.”
“Better men than you have tried, and nothing worked. I’ll just watch from the safety of the ground if it’s all the same to you.”
Morgan laughed, “If you won’t do it then I won’t either.”
“Thanks Angel, I appreciate that. You had me scared there for a minute. I thought you’d make me do it anyway.”
“I’d never make you do anything you didn’t want to, Kathryn.”
“I know you wouldn’t and so far there’s nothing you’ve asked that I didn’t want to do,” Kathryn dropped her voice to a sultry level, “And I loved every minute of what you’ve asked so far.”
“Speaking of which… what was that ‘last time’ comment all about anyway?”
Damn, Kathryn muttered. She’d been hoping that Morgan would forget about that before she got home. “Um well, it’s not really important.”
“It is to me. Come on Little One, spill it.”
Kathryn was glad Morgan wasn’t there to see the blush that was creeping up her neck. “Well, when we took that nap together, you uh, well you had this dream and you kind of got touchy with me.”
“Yeah, must have been a doozy of a dream because you were really enjoying yourself.”
“Oh God, I don’t think I want to hear any more about it.”
Now it was Kathryn’s turn to chuckle. “Aw come on Morgan, let me tell you about it. You were so hot, and so wet. It felt so good when you took my hand and put it inside you. I was so turned on when you touched me that I almost came right then, and then you kissed me. God that was wonderful; you have the softest lips.”
“Kathryn!” Morgan croaked, “I really don’t want to hear anymore.”
“Because you’re turning me on and you’re not here to do anything about it, that’s why.”
“I could be there. I bet I can get a flight out tonight.”
“Yeah but Gin wouldn’t like us making love when she’s laying next to us.”
“Gin? Why would she be with us?”
“We’re sharing a room. The hotel was booked so they put us together.”
“I don’t know if I like that too much.”
“Well I know I don’t, but there’s nothing I can do; everyone’s booked up for some convention.”
“Well you better make her keep her hands to herself or she’ll have me to deal with!”
“Don’t worry Little One, I belong to you heart, mind, body, and soul. I love you.”
“I love you too Angel. I’ll let you get to bed, it’s late and you’re probably going to have a long day ahead of you tomorrow. Call me when you can, okay?”
“I will Little One; sleep warm and have sweet dreams. I know mine will be because they’ll be of you.”
“You say the sweetest things Morgan, you should have been a poet. You sleep well too.”
Kathryn replaced the receiver without hearing the audible click of the other receiver in the house being set down.
Derek lay in the guest bedroom fuming at what he’d heard on the phone. How dare that dyke bitch try to take his Kathryn away from him. He’d invested too much in this relationship to let that amazon come in and steal it away.
They’d slept together too, that was the capper. For three years Kathryn had denied him, playing the innocent virgin. All those stories about wanting to wait until she was married, what a crock of shit. She didn’t want to wait, she was a queer, and she was just using him for cover. Well he wasn’t going to put up with that, he’d show her just what she’d been missing.
Derek was lost in thought, plotting his revenge, when the phone rang again. He waited until Kathryn picked it up before quietly lifting his receiver.
“Everything is going great daddy, how are things back home?”
“Mitchell has filed a wrongful termination suit and Sheridan is named on it as well, but other than that all is well. Maria misses you and so do I. Have you decided on what you’re going to do with the house yet?”
“I’m going to keep it, you’d love it daddy, it’s a great old house.”
“I’ve seen it, just a typical old salt box, nothing special about it that I can remember. Have you gone through Janice’s things yet?”
“Some of it, not everything. Daddy, what did you mean in your email about the prejudices of youth? Were you talking about Janice being a lesbian?”
“Ahem,” Henry cleared his throat before continuing, “Yes, I can’t abide by that Kathryn, it just isn’t natural. I didn’t want you around that kind of influence. If you’d turned out like that I would have never been able to forgive you. Did Derek make it up there? He called the office looking for you, I hope you don’t mind me telling him where you were. He’s such a nice young man, the two of you should settle down and get married, you’ve certainly dated long enough and I’m ready for grandchildren. I’m not getting any younger, you know.”
“I’m not ready to settle down with Derek or any man right now daddy. When the time is right I’ll get married, but don’t count on it being Derek that I settle for.”
Derek had heard all he needed and replaced the receiver quietly, as his plans took shape.
Morgan looked up from the case report she’d been studying as Gin walked into the room.
“How did things go at the scene?”
“Pretty good; Rob showed us the first scene and we got blood spatters and a few hairs. Bones is running them through the lab to see if they belong to the victim. We found the cap in a trash can but no hairs or fibers were found on it. We’re checking that for DNA traces.”
“What about tread marks? Any of those on the scene?”
“None that are usable. What we did get is a security guard that remembered the guy Rob saw. He was driving a black two door Honda Civic, and the guard remembers seeing the green Enterprise rental car “E” on the back. Douglas is at the Enterprise office looking at their records.”
“Good work Gin, you guys are doing great. When will Bones be back?”
“He said he’d come over as soon as he finished in the lab.”
“We’re finally getting somewhere. It’s about damn time this freak fucked up.”
“We don’t know it was him Morgan, this is a tourist site, it could have been anyone in that car.” Gin put her briefcase on the table and pulled a pair of royal blue sweatpants and a white t-shirt out of her duffel bag.
“I know, I know, it just feels right.”
“Well, I’ll take your word on it, but I’m waiting for the hard evidence. Are you done in the bathroom? I want a shower.”
“Yeah I’m finished.”
Morgan reached for the phone as soon as she heard the water flow.
“Bax it’s me, what has surveillance come up with on my team?”
“”Morgan, do you know what time it is?” Baxter let out an audible sigh.
“Yep it’s 12:30; what have they come up with?”
“Nothing, not a damn thing. Everyone was present and accounted for when this one happened. Is it your guy?”
“Yeah it’s him, no doubt about it.”
“Then I’m going to pull the eyes and ears, no sense running up the budget on this one.”
“Can you leave them on one of my people?”
“Why? If they didn’t do this one, then chances are they didn’t do any of them.”
“I know, just call it a hunch. Give me a month, then you can pull the plug on the whole thing, okay?”
“Okay, but one month only Morgan, that’s final. Wrap it up by then and we’ll get you a nice bonus.”
“I’m not guaranteeing wrapping up this case by then Bax. I don’t have enough to go on right now, but a month is all I ask on the surveillance. I don’t care about a bonus, but I would like a vacation when this one is over.”
“Any place in particular you want to go?”
“On a honeymoon.”
“Talk to you later Bax.” Morgan hung up the phone before Baxter could ask any more questions, and opened the door for Bones and Douglas.
“What have you got for me guys?” Morgan asked, showing them into the room and waiting for them to take their chairs.
Douglas admired Morgan’s long legs and loosened his tie while wondering what they’d feel like wrapped around his back. He pushed the wire-rimmed glasses further up his slightly crooked nose and answered her first.
“The car was stolen. It was found about two miles from the scene, burned. Nothing useable in the way of prints. It was a total loss.”
Morgan looked at Bones, “What about you? What did you find?”
“The victim was bludgeoned with a tire iron which fits Rob’s story about him helping the guy change a tire. He had one sharp blow to the head and was dead almost immediately. No prints or fibers on the body, but there were some fibers present at the attack site. There were two black fibers that were matched to carpet from a Honda Civic like the burned one. The tire iron from the torched car showed traces of blood but it was too burned to match with the victim. Several eyewitnesses saw the same guy Rob described but none really paid much attention to his face. Almost everyone described him the same way, baseball cap, blue pants, white long sleeved shirt, and medium height. Why do you think he took such a chance this time? I mean this place was packed Morgan, he would have to know he’d be noticed. Why pick such a public place?”
“He needs the thrill; it’s wearing off for him. The way he’s escalating the kills, he needs a new thrill, he needs the excitement of almost getting caught. He’s coming apart on us. He’s getting sloppy and disorganized and he’ll get worse. That’s when we’ll catch him. What else have you got?”
“Nothing,” Bones answered, “That’s the whole shebang.”
“Then we need a new direction; if we can’t go forward then we need to go backward.” Morgan reached for the phone and called the front desk.
“Toby, this is Agent Sumners in 1204, I need a conference room right now, preferably with a big open wall and a white board. Make sure there’s coffee and sodas available too. Thanks. We’ll be down in a minute.”
Morgan turned to Bones. “I need a map of the United States, a big one. Get some colored push pins, pens and legal tablets too. Better add felt tipped pins to that list as well. Meet us downstairs in conference room 2 as soon as you get that stuff.”
“Where do you expect me to find this stuff at one in the morning?”
“There’s a 24 hour Wal-Mart about two miles down the road, they should have what you need. The airport will probably be your best bet for a map as big as we need. Flash your badge and get them to cough one up.”
“What do you need me to do?” Gin and Douglas asked almost simultaneously. Gin, fresh from her shower, was standing there with wet hair and clothes that seemed to cling to her body and Douglas had shifted his attention from Morgan to her.
“I need you two to grab your case notes and any photos you have with you. We’ll meet in the conference room in thirty minutes.” With a look and a nod, she dismissed the group.
Morgan waited until the agents left and grabbed her bag to change into street clothes. Things were finally starting to fall into place and she had an idea of the how of the case. All she needed was the who to wrap it up.
Picking up her briefcase she left the room and stepped into the elevator.
Chapter 13: One by One the Pieces Fall
Morgan strode into the conference room and started unpacking the files from her briefcase. Locating a power and modem outlet, she plugged in her laptop. While she waited for it to boot and connect to the office she pulled a tablet and pen from the pile and started jotting notes.
Beginning from today’s homicide, she worked backward, filling in the facts they had so far.
Warwick – Rhode Island – Goddard Park
Springdale – Arkansas – Ozark National Forrest
Nashville – Tennessee – Percy Priest Lake
Houston – Texas – Hermann Park
Vernal – Utah – Steinaker State Park
Pierre – South Dakota – Farm Island St. Rec. Area
Pendleton – Oregon – Emigrant Springs St. Park
Southern Pines – North Carolina – Weymouth Woods St. Park
Albuquerque – New Mexico – Sen. W.M. Chavez St. Park
Reno – Nevada – Kings Beach
Columbia – Missouri – Finger Lakes St. Park
Kalamazoo – Michigan – Milham Park
Worchester – Massachusetts – Moore St. Park
Morgan locked down her hard drive and was searching through her data when the rest of her team filed in, closely followed by the dining room staff. Waiting for the coffee, sodas, and pastries to be set up, Morgan instructed Bones to tack the 12-foot by 8-foot map to the wall.
Gin passed out notepads and pens to the rest of the assembled team while Douglas and Walt filled drink orders.
Taking her notepad, Morgan walked to the map and began marking known crime scenes with the red pushpins.
“Okay people, these are the known dump sites we’ve been to. I want everyone to come up here and look. See if anything stands out to any of you.”
Morgan stood back, nursing her coffee and watched her crew stare at the map. It wasn’t exactly what she wanted, but it turned out to be better than she’d expected. The map didn’t show all the little country roads nor did it show the small outlying towns, but what it did show was enough for their purposes.
Morgan allowed Bones a slight smile when he pulled the small ruler from her briefcase and began taking map measurements. She had a sense of pride with this team. They were working together and comparing notes, making assumptions based on the facts and some not, but all good and all in the right direction. While she waited she sorted the pushpins into different colored piles. Red was set aside and the other colors were placed by each agent’s chair.
When the team finished their examination of the map they settled around the table and told Morgan their assumptions.
“You’re right on the money, now what we need to do is go through these old case files and see what fits the new profile.”
Morgan passed out the police jackets that she’d been carrying around in her briefcase and each agent took a stack and picked up their pins, heading for the map.
Two hours and three pots of coffee later the agents were seated around the table once again. Some of the pins had been placed on the map only to be removed later, but of the forty-three case files Morgan passed out only five came back as not belonging to their perp. Fifty-one murders in all. This would be the most prolific serial killer of this decade.
“What led you to your conclusions about the perp?” Morgan asked the agents.
Bones stifled a yawn and spoke for the group. “No gunshots. None of the victims fought back. The dump sites were always within 20 to 30 miles and there would be no record of him being in any state.”
“Very good Bones, we have method and opportunity. Now what about motive? Why is he doing it?”
“Isn’t that your area Morgan? You’re the shrink, you tell us.”
“Okay Bones, he does it because he likes it. He’s smart but he doesn’t want the publicity. He’s not doing it to be famous. He puts his victims in plain sight because he wants them to be found. He doesn’t want them to be eaten by animals or to rot in the sun. He doesn’t hide their identities nor does he take any personal belongings from them. He wants the families to have them back as soon as possible. That means he has a strong sense of family. He probably calls home at least once a week and his family thinks he’s the best son anyone could ask for.” It was late and Morgan blinked a few times to ward off the weariness she felt.
“The sex of the victims isn’t relative to him, nor is the race. He isn’t prejudiced but neither is he bisexual. He kills whoever trusts him. But the crimes are sexual in nature. He’s impotent, but he doesn’t get the thrill other sex killers get. He doesn’t experience an erection when he kills nor does he ejaculate when they die. He won’t be a virgin but he won’t be experienced either. If you put the dates in chronological order he’s been doing this for three years that we know of and it could be longer.”
“Something has him agitated right now. He killed one girl less than a month ago and a man today. What set him off today to make him escalate? He was sloppy when he usually isn’t. Why was he taking a chance? ”
“So what are we looking for?” Bones asked. Morgan had given them more insight into the killer in a few minutes than they’d had for the last year. She was onto something; the trick was getting her to share what she knew. Bones smiled inwardly; He had always been impressed with the way she did her job.
“I still believe he’s a white male, age could vary but I’ll stick him in the 30 to 35 year range. He’ll be white collar and in a visible position. He’ll be outgoing and friendly but not an extrovert. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he still lives at home with his parents. Never married, no kids, no ties outside of family. His parents will be well to do, but he’ll probably be an only child. He may have a girlfriend but that’s doubtful; he won’t be able to sustain a relationship for very long. He may have a string of failed affairs but most if not all will have been sexless relationships and he probably killed the first woman he tried to sleep with after he became impotent.”
“We’re missing one major piece in this puzzle,” Morgan said, looking over the group. “Anyone know what it is?”
All the agents looked at one another and as a group shook their heads no.
“We don’t have the first victim. His first kill was a woman and our oldest file is a man. We need to get on the computer and search out that woman. If the police did their jobs and we can find her, there will be evidence for us to use. His first murders won’t be organized and he won’t have control of the scene like he does now. He will have left the bodies nude and that’s where we’ll look. The nudity is important to him; he needs to feel superior to his victims. Stripping their clothes is symbolic for him, it’s power and he needs to feel power over his victims.”
“Find the first and we’ll find him. Gin, you still have access to VICAP, start running a record search. Use nudity as your search parameter. Branch out to nudity and woods if necessary, but for the first one I don’t think he’ll have that part planned out. He would have dumped her in the first available location; the woods would come later. Use my laptop; it’s logged into the bureau servers.”
Bones, you and Douglas go over the oldest case files and make notes of any forensics we can use. Walt, do the crime scene narration and eyewitness accounts, see if we can find a witness to the early crimes. John, I want you to stick the map with the new cases Gin finds, check for proximity and location. If it doesn’t fit let her know and move on to the next one. Gin, save the case files to disk if they fit and we’ll print them out later. If we don’t find the first victim send out a query to all police stations asking for any cases they haven’t listed that meets our criteria.”
Morgan’s cell phone chirped and she waved her hand to the group indicating they should get started.
“Hi Angel, is this a bad time?”
“Not at all, just give me a sec okay?” Morgan walked out of the conference room, through the lobby and into the parking lot. “Okay, what’s up Little One? You should be asleep.”
“I can’t sleep. I just wanted to hear your voice. I miss you so much.”
Morgan heard the tears in Kathryn’s voice and her brow wrinkled with worry. “I miss you too Kathryn, now what’s wrong? Did Derek do something to you?”
“Kathryn’s voice broke as the tears she tried to keep inside poured from her eyes. “No nothing like that; he went to bed early. I talked to my dad.”
“I asked him if he knew about Mel and Janice and if that’s why he kept her from me. Oh God Morgan he told me he would never forgive me if I turned out like her; he would disown me without a second thought. He’s all the family I have left. What am I going to do?” Kathryn knew she was blubbering like a child, but she couldn’t hold it in. If her dad found out, she’d be alone. She didn’t know how she’d stand losing both parents, but she didn’t want to lose Morgan either.
“Shh it’s okay Little One, it will all work out. He doesn’t have to know about us if you don’t want him to.” Morgan placed her hand over the phone and whistled for the taxi pulling away from the curb. When the driver pulled up next to her she asked him to wait and slipped him a twenty to ensure he would.
“Listen Kathryn I need to go, but I’ll see you as soon as I can. Hang in there for me. I’ll be there before you know it. I love you, remember that. We’ll get through this.”
Kathryn hiccupped and told Morgan she loved her too and couldn’t wait to see her, before hanging up the phone.
Walking back into the conference room she told the agents she had an emergency and had to leave; she’d phone in for reports but expected results when she did. Not knowing how long she’d be gone she put Bones in charge and walked out of the hotel to the waiting taxi.
Sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, Morgan subconsciously urged the whirlybird to go faster. It had cost her a pretty penny to hire the helicopter for the trip to the island but it was worth every cent to be able to hold Kathryn when she needed her. Morgan didn’t know when the shift from work first, relationship second, had occurred and right now she didn’t care. Kathryn had become the most important thing in her life and work be damned. She didn’t care if the killer was sitting right beside her; she’d let him go just to get to her heart.
Morgan thanked the pilot and checked that her gun was secure before jumping from the chopper into the waters of the bay. She didn’t want to wait for a car to pick her up and drive her up island, choosing instead to have the pilot hover low over the water outside her house. Wading through the knee-deep water to the beach, she ran to her house, stripping out of her wet jeans as she walked through the patio door.
She rushed through, pulling on clean dry pants and clipped her gun to the back of her jeans. Passing on shoes and socks she jumped the stairs and landed neatly at the bottom, already in step for the full out run she did to the house next door.
Stepping on the porch she quieted Casey and led her from the cage. Waiting for the dog to find an appropriate spot, she picked up the false stone on the deck and removed the spare house key Janice had hidden for her. She replaced the key and picked Casey up, tiptoeing quietly through the house.
She headed for the spare room but hearing the loud manly snores coming through the door she bypassed it for the master bedroom. Pausing, she heard the muffled sobs coming from the room and softly opened the door, stepping into the darkened bedroom. Remembering the placement of the furniture was all that saved her from breaking a toe as she walked to the bed and sat on the edge.
“Come here Little One, let me hold you.” Morgan whispered, pulling the huddled and shaking form into her arms. “I’m here now and it’s all going to be okay, you’ll see.”
Small hands reached up and grabbed Morgan’s face. “You’re here? You’re really here? I’m not dreaming, am I?”
“No baby, you’re not dreaming, I’m right here.” Morgan wrapped her arms tightly around Kathryn and pulled the small mass into her lap. She rocked back and forth making shushing noises until she felt Kathryn relax and the tears subside. When she was sure that the tears had stopped and that Kathryn was okay she asked if she wanted to go back to her house for the night. She wanted to hold Kathryn all night long but didn’t want Derek to find them together in the morning.
Kathryn’s nod was all she needed as she stood and adjusted her load. Walking quietly past the spare room she headed down the stairs and out of the house. Casey trailed along behind her and she waited for the pup to come inside before she slid the patio door closed and set the alarm. Walking up the stairs she laid Kathryn on the bed and stripped out of her clothes before pulling the covers over both of them. Wrapping her arms around Kathryn, she pulled her close until their bodies molded together and placing a kiss on the top of her head, they both drifted off to sleep.
The warming fingers of dawn danced across the king sized bed, finding the lovers still wrapped in a tight embrace. Kathryn was the first to awaken and she turned her head, looking into Morgan’s face. She still couldn’t believe Morgan had come to her when she needed her most. Too used to relying only on herself, this was a new experience for her. Sure, her dad was there for her, but business came first these days and she understood that. She snorted derisively. She knew Derek wouldn’t drop everything and come running just because she was crying over something silly. For Morgan to drop everything in the middle of a case and in the middle of the night no less was amazing to Kathryn. She knew then that she had lucked out when she fell in love with the dark haired agent lying next to her.
Bringing her thoughts back to the present, she was startled to see eyes of the bluest sea staring into hers. Tiny wrinkles became apparent as Morgan smiled at her.
“Good morning Little One, penny for your thoughts.”
“Morning Angel; I was just thinking how lucky I am to have you. You know, to steal a much overused movie line, you really do complete me.”
Morgan wrapped Kathryn in a fierce hug, whispering in her ear, “You complete me too, but I’m no Angel.”
“Yes you are. To me anyway. You’re the closest thing to a guardian Angel I’ve ever had, so get used to the title.”
“I can’t stay, you know? I have to get back to Rhode Island, but I want to know you’re all right before I leave. Do you want to talk about last night?”
“Nothing more to say really,” Kathryn replied, lying back against the pillows and crossing her arms over her face. “He doesn’t want a lesbian for a daughter, wants grandkids and all that. He never even asked if I wanted kids, just assumed it was my duty to churn the little buggers out on demand. He wants me to marry Derek, but I squashed that notion right away.”
“Why don’t you want to marry Derek? You’ve dated him for a long time, it’s only natural for your dad to think that you’ll get married after three years.”
“He’s hardly around, he has to fly off constantly and when he’s home he has things to do. I don’t want to be second best to his job or his family and friends. Besides, I love you! You’re who I want to be with.” She reached over and stroked the bronzed face.
“I’m hardly home either and for the most part my job has to come first. Do you really want to settle for that kind of life? You’ve only had a small taste of what bureau life is like; it can get so much worse. Then there’s your job too. We’d have to maintain a long distance relationship and that will come with its own set of problems.”
“Yeah but when you’re home, you’re here. You don’t talk about work all the time. I know more about piloting a 747 than I ever wanted to know. With you I don’t have to worry about getting your attention. I can handle you being gone for a few days here and there; at least you call when you can. I never hear from him unless he’s in town and sometimes not until he’s been there a few days. I’m last on his list of priorities. I can handle being second on yours.”
“What about the long distance relationship? How will you handle that part?”
“Honestly? I’ve given it a lot of thought lately and I want to stay here. I like what I do, but I need a break. I really don’t have to ever work again thanks to Janice’s generosity, and I’ve been thinking about a career change for awhile now. I think I’d like to try my hand at writing. I turned out some fairly decent short stories when I was in college and I’d like to see if I still have a talent for it. What about you; could you handle having me around on a permanent basis?”
“I’d love to have you on a permanent basis. I’d love it if you moved in here with me. I want to wake up to your smiling face everyday for the rest of my life, but that’s up to you. You need to figure out if what we have is really what you want. Use your head to decide and not your heart. This is a big decision and how we feel for each other shouldn’t be the only factor.”
Kathryn laughed and kissed Morgan on the cheek. “I don’t know about moving in right away, that’s a big step and you don’t know what you’re getting into there. Have you ever lived with a slob? How about I think about it while you finish up in Rhode Island and give you my decision then? You need to think about it too, this will be a change in your routine and you may not like the upset. Remember I come with baggage; you’ll have two dogs here full time instead of one.”
“It’s a deal, and as far as Casey, if you left the island you’d have to give me visitation rights to her. I’ve grown just a little attached,” Morgan answered. Lifting the covers she pointed out the blond ball of fur curled up at her side. “And I think she has, too.” Casey lifted her head and grabbed Morgan’s finger in her mouth, gnawing playfully before its owner reclaimed it and lowered the sheet over her head again.
“Yeah I guess you can’t be all bad if Casey likes you.” Kathryn teased, poking Morgan in the ribs.
“Oh so you want to have a tickle fight this morning do you?” Morgan quirked her eyebrow and rolled over on top of Kathryn, effectively pinning the blond to the mattress. Long fingers sought out tender ribs and began a gentle assault as the body beneath her squirmed.
“No!” Kathryn gasped, trying to catch her breath, “I want to do this…” Lifting her hands to Morgan’s face she pulled her closer until their lips touched. What started, as a gentle peck became a slow exploration as Morgan laid the length of her body alongside Kathryn’s. Tangling her fingers in the long platinum locks spilling across her hands, Morgan deepened the kiss until both women were breathless and weak with desire.
Pulling away she gazed into the hazel eyes staring back at her. “Do you want to do this?”
“Oh yeah, but I’m a little over dressed for the occasion, and uh, you’re going to have to show me how.”
“Both are easily fixed. It’s not the how, but the how long. I do intend to take it slow with you this time Little One, and you won’t be getting the chance to do anything but enjoy it.” Morgan tapped her on the nose before sliding her hands down the sides of the silk nightshirt Kathryn was wearing and grabbing the hem she pulled it up and over her head, tossing it to the foot of the bed.
Leaning up on her elbows she took in the sight of Kathryn’s warm naked body and felt she’d died and crossed over to the other side. Heaven couldn’t get any better than this she thought, leaning down to capture one of Kathryn’s rose colored nipples gently between her teeth.
Kathryn’s back arched up off the bed as she pressed harder against Morgan’s mouth. Wrapping her arms and legs tightly around Morgan, Kathryn flipped them over and pinned the taller woman underneath her.
“My turn to have fun and your turn to lay back and enjoy it.” Kathryn added please to her argument after Morgan’s eyebrow reached her hairline, and was satisfied with the response as Morgan’s hand guided her mouth to a waiting breast.
Kathryn’s moans matched Morgan’s as she watched her lover succumb to the pleasure her lips and hands were inciting. Kathryn felt her own desire flowing from her body as she touched the fire raging between Morgan’s legs. Taking her cues from Morgan’s movements she slid between her outstretched legs and tentatively ran her tongue through the black curls and into Morgan’s center. She felt Morgan’s tapered fingers wrap around her head, drawing her closer as her ears picked up Morgan’s cry for faster and harder.
Increasing her tempo and sliding two fingers deeper into the dark recesses of Morgan’s body, she picked up the pace to match Morgan’s thrusts. Looking up the length of Morgan’s body she watched her lovers’ face as her body tensed with the onslaught of her orgasm. Holding tight to Morgans bucking hips, Kathryn rode the wave with her and slid into the waiting embrace when it was over.
“What did you need me to show you again Little One; I’ve forgotten?”
“Oh I’m sure there are plenty of tricks you could show me.”
“Um bet I could, how about this one?” Morgan asked, mischievous twinkle lighting up her eyes as she flipped Kathryn on her back. The chirping of the cell phone called a halt to any amorous thoughts that Morgan had as she reached for it. Better be real fucking important or I’m going to reach through this phone and remove your spleen through your nose!
“Sumners. This better be good!”
“Morgan it’s Bones; we’re sending a chopper for you. We’ve got the first scene and there’s all kinds of stuff there. The police chief is going to take us to the crime scene and show us the evidence they collected. The bird will be there in 30 minutes so get a move on.”
“Where is this one?”
“A little town called Katy in Texas, it’s outside Houston.”
“Thanks Bones, see you soon.” Morgan snapped the phone shut and turned to see the sad face of her lover. “I have to leave babe; Bones has the worst timing in the world.”
“Where are you off to now?”
“Katy, Texas. Heard of it?”
“Heard of it? I was born there.”
“No shit? Want to come along? Bet I can sneak you on the plane.” Morgan grinned as Kathryn contemplated her question.
“I wish, but I should take care of Derek. I’ll be waiting to finish what we started when you get back. No more hysterics, I promise.”
“Thanks babe, I love you. I hope you know that.”
“I do, and you should know the same.”
“Not a one… well other than my dad, I would love for him to meet you.”
“Maybe in time, baby.” Morgan left the warmth of the bed and pulled clothes from the dresser, holding out her hand for Kathryn to join her in the shower.
Chapter 14: Picking Up the Trail
Morgan strode across the polished marble floor of the Katy police department and leaned against the counter in front of the desk sergeant. Clearing her throat, she introduced herself and asked where to find the chief of police. Following the directions she was given she knocked on the glass before entering Chief Ballard’s office.
She shook hands with the weathered gray haired man and took a seat opposite his desk. Leaning back in her chair she crossed one slim booted foot over the other and waited for him to light his pipe before getting down to business. A hazy cloud of cherry mixed with vanilla wafted in her direction as the tobacco caught fire and he puffed away on the stem. Satisfied the pipe would stay lit, Chief Ballard put the tobacco pouch and lighter in his desk and fixed Morgan with an inquisitive look. Clamping his teeth down on the stem he spoke slowly and with a thick southern drawl that seemed to wrap around the pipe.
“That feller Bones tells us y’all are looking to solve an old murder case of ours. What makes you think y’all can do that?”
Morgan coughed behind her hand to hide her amusement; small town people really had no concept of the power behind the bureau or the massive amounts of data stored in the giant computers. “We’re not saying that we can Chief, but we’d like to see the crime scene photos and look through any evidence your officers gathered. We’d like your help on this one if you can spare the men who investigated the original crime. Chances are we won’t solve this murder for you, but it may help us find a serial killer.”
“Now that’s a horse of a whole nother color Miz Sumners, your man Bones had me thinkin y’all was gonna come in here and wrap this’n up like a Christmas present or sumpthin. We don’t take too kindly to strangers comin here thinkin they can do our jobs better’n us, but we’d be right proud to help you out any way we can. I was one of the investigators on that crime and I’ll tell ya it was a might bit messy. Feller that did that had a burr under his saddle over sumpthin, dang near cut that poor girl up so bad her own mama couldn’t identify her. We found his T-shirt layin by the crick and the knife he used on a rock, fingerprints didn’t turn up nuthin and ever now and then we run’em again, always come back clean as spit shined boots though.”
“Bones didn’t have time to fill me in Chief so why don’t you tell me about the murder.”
“We don’t stand on ceremony round here Miz Sumners, you call me Bubba. Near as I can recollect it happened bout thirteen years ago. I was pretty new to the department and that was my first homicide. She was a local girl, just graduated from high school and headin off to the city for college. Found her out in a pasture near the outskirts of town. Folks round here call it Lovers Loop. Ain’t much more than pastureland but the kids kinda took it over. They used to race cars round the outside in a loop, figure that’s how it got its name. At night the kids go there to park and neck, sometimes they have a little beer party. She’d been dead a couple of days when we got to her. I tell you Miz Sumners; the sun ain’t too kind to things left layin round. It was July and it gets perty dang hot here during that time of the year. She looked like she’d been roasted, all swollen up and blistered from the sun like she was. She was a beautiful girl but like I told ya he cut her up so dern bad her own family couldn’t identify her body. We had to use dental records to figure it out. Sliced her face almost clean off. Old Doc Waters counted over four hundered different cuts on her before givin up on it. Weren’t hardly an inch of her that feller didn’t cut on.”
“Guess it’s too much to hope that there were witnesses?”
“Nary a one, not much call for folks to be out there in the heat of the day. Near as Doc Waters could figure she was killed around noon. Most folks know better than to be outside round bout that time. We was havin a heat wave that summer the likes hell ain’t seen afore. Lots of folks died from the heat and such. Kids hang round the lake when it gets hot like that, not much else to do but go swimmin.”
“Was she dating anyone?”
“Yup, she was datin that Johnson boy Steve. We checked him out and he wasn’t in town when it happened. He’d graduated the year before little Nancy and was off to school. Hurt him perty bad to hear bout what happened to her. Boy cried like a baby over her body at the funeral. Them two was gonna get hitched after he finished schooling but you might as well have buried him right alongside her.”
“Have you tried running the prints through the FBI computers?”
“Nope, cain’t say we have. Not much call for the FBI round here. We usually catch our bad guys without goin outside the department.”
“Would you mind if we checked them with our computers?”
“Naw you go on ahead Missy, be interrestin to see if anything turns up for ya.”
“How about the crime scene, could you take me out there?”
“Sure, but you ain’t gonna see anythin after all this time. Kids quit goin out there after Nancy and it’s grown up a lot since then. If you wanna go now I’ll get the old file and you can look it over on the way.”
“Thanks Bubba, I’d appreciate that.”
Morgan waited as Bubba stood and adjusted his pants; the saucer sized belt buckle attesting to the fact that he was past worrying about fathering children. She followed him through the homicide department to the file room and took the file he offered before walking out into the heat for the thirty-minute drive to the pasture.
Morgan slid into the passenger seat of the midnight blue Crown Victoria and adjusted the air vents as Bubba started the car. Opening the folder she perused the contents of the file, her eyes coming to rest on the pictures of Nancy Caldwell. Bubba hadn’t been exaggerating; the girl had been cut up pretty badly. Morgan ran through the rest of the pictures before setting the file aside and booting her laptop. She initialized the satellite linkup and scanned the ten print cards into the system. Within minutes the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or as it was better known, AFIS, spit out the results and Morgan smiled to herself. It was coming together better than she planned she thought as she memorized the face of the blonde haired, bearded young man staring back at her from the monitor. Confident she had his stats and face memorized, she shut the laptop down and tucked it away.
Stepping out of the car was like walking into an oven; Morgan inhaled sharply as the heat struck her full force. Walking around the pasture she could almost sense the crime as it happened. Bubba pointed out the dumpsite and the crick as he called it, though it was really nothing more than a stream running through the pastureland. It hadn’t changed much from the pictures and she looked at the rock where the perp had hung his shirt while washing the blood from his hands. He did indeed have a burr under his saddle as Bubba so eloquently put it, and Morgan knew just what that burr was.
Thanking the chief for his help she stepped from his car into the air conditioned lobby of the Hilton and caught the elevator to her room. Shucking her gun and clothes she stepped into the shower and washed the sand and grit from her lanky form before stepping out and wrapping the soft terry cloth bathrobe around herself.
She towel dried her hair as she picked up the phone and dialed Bones.
“Bones, this is Morgan. We got a positive on the prints from the Caldwell case; we need to get the forensics through the lab to make this stick. Can you get the county coroner to let you use his facilities?”
“Sure, have them send the stuff over and we’ll get right on it.”
“Thanks Bones, I need to call Bax and get an arrest warrant. Let me know what you come up with.”
Morgan cradled the receiver against her shoulder and dialed Baxter.
“Bax, it’s Morgan, I need you to get a federal warrant for the arrest of Steven Johnson and push it through for me.”
“How many counts?”
“One right now, he murdered a girl named Nancy Caldwell in Texas about 13 years ago. We’ll tie him in to the rest once we pick him up.”
“You got it, I’ll have the papers delivered to your hotel in an hour. What about search warrants?”
“We’ll need those too, for his parent’s house as well as any residence he may have elsewhere. Why don’t you get Gin to check the computers for alternate dwellings?”
“You’re doing a great job on this Morgan, just wanted to let you know that.”
“Don’t go getting all soft on me Bax, it’s just a job. When this is over I want two months off, no arguments and no bribes. I need some time to take care of a personal matter.”
“You wrap this one up and you can have all the time you need, but Morgan…?”
“Bring her by the house sometime, I’d love to meet her.”
Morgan felt the smile creep up on her as laughter welled from deep within her belly, “Sure Bax, but you keep your hands off her you old coot, she’s mine. We’ll come by for dinner when I get this all squared away.”
“Great! We’ll be looking forward to it. I’ll get Vivian to fix us a nice dinner.”
Morgan thought of her lover and decided she’d better fill Bax in on a few things before bringing the renowned eating machine to their house. “How about if I take us all out to dinner? You don’t have a clue what you’re getting into here Bax, she’ll eat you out of house and home. Besides you don’t take Vivian out nearly as much as you should.”
“Sounds good to me, I’ll let her know to expect a night out. I’ll get Gin started here and have those warrants over to you soon. Take care Morgan.”
Morgan replaced the receiver and lay back against the pillows, closing her eyes and letting her mind drift to Long Island and the beautiful blond waiting there for her.
Things in the Covington house were not going as smoothly as Kathryn would have wanted them to. Derek was reclined on the couch with his hands locked behind his head looking like the cat that swallowed the canary. She was pacing the oval braided rug in front of the fireplace from one end to the other and back again. He was waiting for her decision and she was running out of stall tactics.
“I won’t marry you Derek. I… I don’t love you. I can’t marry someone I don’t love.”
“You’ll marry me.” He brought one hand from behind his neck and examined the nails before turning the same smug look in Kathryn’s direction that he’d had since waking that morning. “You don’t have a choice Little One.” The sneer he added at the end let Kathryn know that he had listened to her conversation with Morgan the previous night.
“I do have a choice Derek and I don’t choose you. I won’t marry you and nothing you say will change my mind. Can’t we just be friends and let this go?”
Derek pantomimed picking up the phone and Kathryn listened in horror at his fake conversation.”Henry, this is Derek, listen old man I just asked your daughter to marry me and you know what she said? No? Well, let me tell ya, she doesn’t want to marry me, seems she wants to be a dyke and shack up with the whore next door. What do you think about all that Henry?” Derek removed the imaginary phone from his ear and turned to Kathryn, “How do you think dear old dad would take a call like that?”
“Why are you doing this to me Derek?” Kathryn pleaded with him, tears breaking her voice. It was all on the table now, he knew and he was holding all the cards.
“Because I can. What’s it going to be Katie? Me and your dad’s happiness or that whore and knowing you broke your poor dad’s heart?”
Kathryn bowed her head and took a deep breath. Gathering all the inner strength she could summon she met his eyes and said almost silently,
“I choose her.”
She was unprepared for the explosion of violence coming her way when he leapt from the couch and shoved her to the floor. Towering above her, fists clenched, he kicked her into the stones lining the fireplace before covering her with his weight. “You listen to me and you listen good Kathryn, you will marry me and you will do what I say.”
Kathryn choked back the bile she could feel rising in her throat as Derek told her his plans and what he had done already. She was trapped and with Morgan so far away there was no one to save her this time. Wiping the tears from her eyes she pushed Derek off her and asked if she could leave Morgan a note to keep the agent from coming after her.
“Yeah leave a note, but make it quick. I want to leave here in an hour, get your shit packed and be ready to pull out.”
Kathryn walked to the kitchen on legs that would barely hold her upright; glancing quickly around the small room she picked up the grocery receipt and composed her thoughts. She had to keep Morgan away from her for both their sakes, but she wanted her to find her too. How to convey that without making Derek suspicious was the hard part. Putting pen to paper she hoped Morgan would see through the lies and find the message.
Derek’s heavy footsteps alerted her to his proximity and she finished scribbling down the last lines as he snatched the note from her hand. He looked it over as he stalked hurriedly through the back entrance and across the pebbled beach to Morgan’s house. Satisfied, he pinned it to her door and quickly covered the rest of the distance back to where Kathryn was nervously waiting. He grabbed her arm roughly and steered her to the car. He hadn’t packed enough of her clothes and he’d left the house unlocked, but at the moment she didn’t care. She knew that Casey would find her way to Mildred’s and that the older woman would take her in. Trembling, she kept her gaze on Morgan’s house for as long as she could keep it in sight before the car rounded a bend and she let the tears fall unchecked from her eyes.
Morgan snapped awake; there was a sense of urgency and danger but she couldn’t find the source. Her mind settled on Kathryn’s image and she picked up the phone. She let it ring thirty times before disconnecting and dialing Mildred. Asking her neighbor to check on Kathryn, she paced the floor nervously waiting for the return call. When the phone rang she jumped across the bed to snatch the receiver from the cradle.
“Morgan dear, the car is gone and it looks like she moved out. There’s a note on your door from her, but she left her house unlocked and Casey’s sittin out here just a cryin for her. This just don’t look right to me honey, perhaps you best be getting on home.”
“Take Casey home with you Mildred; I can’t leave right now but I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“Now Morgan, ain’t nothing you’re working on can be more important than your lady. You get on back here and find her. Do you hear me Morgan Sumners?”
“I hear you Mildred, but Kathryn’s safe for now. I’m sure she’s off with her boyfriend. Maybe she drove him to the airport or something. I’ll be there as soon as I can, believe me. Just take care of Casey until I get back.”
“Alright Morgan but don’t you be dragging your feet. I got a bad feeling in my stomach bout this, you need to be here.” The older woman scolded her.
“Yes ma’am.” Morgan answered, hanging up the phone and stepping into her jeans. She pulled on a worn FBI T-shirt and tucked it into her pants adding socks and boots to the combination. Running her fingers through her hair to straighten it out she checked the clip in her gun and snapped the holster to her belt.
In the lobby she asked the desk clerk if she had any deliveries; taking the envelope she opened it and read through the documents before calling for a bureau car. Bax had a team standing by waiting to help her serve the warrants.
Fifteen bureau cars surrounded the nondescript gray shingled house as agents spilled from their doors with guns drawn. A knock on the front door went unanswered and Morgan drew her leg back and kicked it in. Entering the house in a crouch, gun thrust out in front of her, she yelled clear to the team after sweeping the area.
The agents rushed the house and carried out the search. The Johnson’s appeared to be gone on vacation and this would later be verified by a neighbor, but the search turned up some useful items for Morgan’s case and she was satisfied with the results.
Steven’s room offered several key pieces of evidence concealed in a locked trunk at the foot of the bed. Morgan had broken the flimsy lock with the butt of her gun and after sifting through the items she carefully cataloged them, sealing the evidence bags for further analysis at the lab. He was an amateur photographer and liked to capture his handiwork on film; he had shot several rolls of film at each dumpsite. Morgan recognized several of the crime scenes she’d worked and some that Gin had pulled from the FBI computers yesterday.
Morgan tagged the trunk containing the pictures as evidence and sealed the lid with tape, inscribing it with her initials. She instructed the junior agents to carry the trunk out along with the other items they’d collected and sat back on Steven’s bed, letting her mind take in the room’s décor. The room looked much as Morgan suspected it did when Steven was in high school. The twin bed was made up with a red and black plaid bedspread and sat under the room’s only window. Curtains that matched the spread were tied back to reveal a large oak hanging over the house; the tire hanging from a rope swinging gently in the breeze belied the scene of horror contained inside the window.
Football pennants hung from the walls and pictures of young Steven, resplendent in his uniform, and as the homecoming King with Nancy Caldwell on his arm, adorned every available surface of the room’s spartan furniture. According to the plaques on the walls he was the captain of the football team as well as Student Council President and a member of the honor society. Who’s Who Among American High School Students certificates hung alongside U.I.L. awards for debate, poetry reading, and solo instrumentals. From outward appearances he was the picture of the All-American boy, every mother’s dream child. Only the FBI knew what lurked behind Steven Johnson’s façade and Morgan was determined, sitting in this shrine to the wonder boy, to bring some form of justice to the families of the people’s lives he’d destroyed.
Nodding to the agent standing outside the room she allowed him to seal the door with crime scene tape and walked out of the house into the Texas heat, welcoming the searing intensity of the sun to ward off the chill she’d felt sitting in that room. Her part in this case was over. She had identified the killer, found his lair, collected the evidence, and would later testify at his trial if she was called, but in her mind she didn’t want nor need to be there for his arrest. She didn’t trust herself to remain in control long enough to read him his rights before she blew him to hell. Better to go back to the island and relax with Kathryn until she was needed again.
Drawing the scorched air deep into her lungs she turned from the house and climbed in the sedan for the drive back to the hotel. She wanted a shower and the first available flight back home. But first things first, she’d have to call Bax and tell him the case was solved and that they only needed to pick up Steven and have him bound over for trial in whichever state wanted him first. She had no doubt that Texas would be at the front of the line, he’d committed six murders here, and that was by far the most in any state.
Morgan stretched her legs out in the open space of the first class cabin and reclined her seat, closing her eyes for a nap. Bax had secured her flight on a non-stop to Islip. She’d be home in less than four hours and hoped Kathryn would be waiting for her. After the horrors of today she needed to feel the blonde’s arms tight around her, she needed to be wrapped in the warmth of Kathryn’s love. Smiling at the thought of two months alone with the love of her life, she drifted to off to sleep and let her dreams pick up where her thoughts left off.
Chapter 15: Home Ain’t Where the Heart is Anymore
Morgan paid the short-term parking fee and pulled the Land Cruiser out on the Long Island expressway for the one-hour trip home. Removing the cell phone from its cradle she called Bones for an update.
“Hey Bones, they picked him up yet?”
“Hey Morgan, what do you want first, the good news or the bad news?”
“Give me the bad Bones, always the bad first, makes the good news that much better.”
“Well Steven Johnson doesn’t exist anymore. No records of him after he left college. The fingerprints we have on file were from a job he applied for in college.”
“Fuck me running.” Morgan muttered to herself, they had the SOB but they didn’t have him.
“What did you say Morgan? I missed that, must be a bad connection.”
“Nothing Bones, what’s the good news?”
“Ah well, we can positively link him to all our crime scenes. He has hair from all his victims and they match perfectly on microscopic examination. If we find him we have a damn good chance of making all the charges stick.”
“Not if Bones, when. We’ll find him; he can’t stay hidden forever. Any information on his parents yet?”
“Gin’s working on it, they’re somewhere in the mountains, doing a nature hike or something like that. We’re trying to get them home now. Bax said he’d call you when we brought them in.”
“Make sure someone lets me know, I want to speak to these people. In the meantime we need to set up a hypnotist for the witness in Rhode Island, see if you can line up someone good. Maybe we’ll get lucky with that girl and she’ll pull a rabbit out of her ass for us.”
“I know one woman who’s pretty damn good at hypnosis, not the typical carnival act but a genuine hypnotherapist. I’ll give her a call and see what I can arrange for you. Hey, Bax tells me you’re taking some time off to go on a honeymoon. Do I get an invite to the wedding?”
“Geez does everyone know about my personal life here?”
“Probably not Morg, but Kathryn’s a sweetheart and you make a great couple you know? She’s good for you, brings out the softer side of you that you try so hard to hide from us. I’m happy for you, you’ve needed someone like her for a long time now.”
“Thanks Bones, she is pretty special. I love her so much it’s scary at times. As for a wedding, I think I should ask her first before I send out any invitations don’t you think?”
“Probably be a good idea. Don’t wait too long though. Someone may snatch her away from you.”
“I don’t see that happening Bones; we have this connection. It’s hard to put into words but for me it’s almost like she’s a part of my soul. Ugh I sound like a schoolgirl! But she does bring that out in me indeed. I love her more than I thought I would ever love anyone. I’m glad you approve too Bones, that means a lot to me. You never cared much for Megan and I understand why you didn’t but Kathryn is different.”
“Yeah she is, take good care of her Morgan, she loves you too.”
“I will Bones, listen I need to hang up now my exit’s coming up. I’ll be in touch later.”
“See ya Morgan, enjoy your time off.”
Morgan replaced the cell in its cradle and let her mind drift to Kathryn until the garage door closed and she went to the back of the house. The note Mildred mentioned earlier was still stuck between the glass in the patio door and Morgan’s eyes filled with tears as she read it for the third time.
Don’t look for me
everything is fine
really, I just need time,
everything happened too fast
know that it isn’t you it’s me
I can’t handle this
situation right now
the best thing is to leave
here and try to work
everything out in my mind
Kissing you was a mistake
I’m sorry if I hurt you
luckily you found out before you
loved me in return. I hope this
eases your mind in some way. I
Putting me ahead of your job will
lead to problems for both of us
eventually you’ll grow to resent it
and that would tear us apart
so I’m ending this before it
however hard this is right now
everything always works out
life changes all of us and
people change each others lives
mine changed very badly but
eventually it will straighten out
Laying her briefcase on the counter beside the note Morgan took a beer from the fridge and popped the cap. Leaning against the opposite cabinet she found her eyes drawn to the note. It just didn’t make sense to her. This morning Kathryn was looking forward to being together when she returned from Texas. They’d played in the shower, teasing each other until the water had turned cold. They’d made plans to take the dogs out on the boat this weekend, sailing up to Maine and back. Kathryn’s kiss good-bye in the garage had certainly left no doubt in Morgan’s mind that she wanted to be with her.
Morgan was on her eighth beer when the cell phone inside her briefcase chirped, and pushing herself up from the floor she staggered to the counter and popped the clasps holding the lid shut. Glancing briefly at the note she took the cell phone out before slamming the lid shut once again.
“Hey Morgan, its Bones, you drunk?”
“Not yet, but I’m getting there. Whatcha need Bones, I’m a little busy here.”
“I wanted to tell you I lined up the doctor for you; she’ll meet you in Rhode Island tomorrow afternoon. Pati’s been called and she agreed to show. Want to tell me why you’re getting drunk? What’s going on there?”
“Not where, gone as in she left me. Dear Morgan letter on the door, bags packed, ain’t coming back, gone.”
“Damn Morgan, I’m so sorry honey. Anything I can do for you?”
“Bring me some more beer.”
“Besides that. Why don’t you go stay at Mildred’s for the night?”
“I’m a big girl Bones, and she’s not the first woman to walk out on me you know? What time do I need to meet your doctor and where?”
“She’ll meet you and Pati at the police station where you interviewed her before, around 2 p.m.”
“What’s her name?”
“Dr. Antonia Grey. She has a copy of the interview questions and answers and we’ve given her a list of questions we want her to ask as well. Anything else she needs she said she’d ask you for when she gets there.”
“Sounds good to me. What are you working on right now?” Morgan tried to concentrate on his words as a combination of grief and alcohol washed over her.
“We’re looking into the rest of the homicides he committed in Texas, should have it wrapped up here tomorrow or the day after, then we’ll be heading back home.”
“Yeah, okay. See you when you get back. If you need anything holler.”
“Will do, and Morgan, lay off the beer and get some sleep. You can worry about all this tomorrow.”
“Yeah, whatever Bones. Later.”
Morgan slapped the cell phone shut and sent it spinning across the hardwood floors before reaching for another beer. She didn’t want to think about it tomorrow, she wanted to think about it now. Waiting for the beer to do its job she leaned back against the counter and chugged the remainder of the cool liquid from the brown frosted bottle before reaching for another.
She had worked her way through most of the case when the ringing doorbell broke through her thoughts and propelled her from the floor. Kicking empty bottles out of her path she staggered to the front door and fumbled with the latch. Half hoping it would be Kathryn she tried to get her fingers to cooperate with her mind as she finally threw the deadbolt and opened the door. Squinting against the glare from the porch light she trained her bloodshot eyes on the last person she expected to pay her a midnight visit. Stopped from slamming the door by a well-placed foot she stepped back and allowed the woman to follow her inside.
Megan leaned the guitar case against the wall by the door and locked the deadbolt. She’d seen Morgan in her cups before but never quite this bad, lending a hand to the staggering agent she tried to sit her on the sofa, but Morgan had other plans. Morgan pulled in the direction of the kitchen as Megan tried to steer her to the couch and both ended up in a pile on the floor. Megan wrapped her arms around Morgan’s shoulders and pulled her into her lap as the lanky brunette fell apart in her arms.
“She left me Meg, I fucked up again.” Morgan sobbed, holding tight to Megan’s shirt.
Softly stroking the long raven hair falling across heaving shoulders, Megan shushed Morgan and listened as the tale poured forth. Trying to pick out the relevant points from the slurred speech she rocked gently back and forth until Morgan ran out of words and tears. She didn’t understand everything that had happened but she did feel Morgan’s pain at losing the only woman she’d ever loved. She’d never have Morgan back in her life as a lover but she could have her as a friend and right now she wanted that more than she would ever want the other. They could be friends; they always had that, being lovers is what never seemed to work for them.
When Morgan’s tears subsided Megan pulled her to her feet and up the stairs to her room. Morgan paused in the doorway, eyes lighting on the rumpled bed as her mind remembered the reason for the tumbled sheets.
“I can’t stay in here Megan,” She muttered, “Too many memories.”
“Spare room, it’s the only place she’s never been.”
“You need a shower Tigger, let’s get you in the tub and I’ll make the bed for you.”
“Why are you being so nice to me? Why are you here at all?”
“I came to bring your guitar, you left it at the Swamp. I’m being nice because I’ve always been nice. You need a friend and we’ve always had that. No reason to stop now. Do you want me to leave?”
“Yeah, no, wait. You can stay, but I can’t be what you need. Not now, and probably not ever. I love her Megan, I’ll always love her.”
“I’m not asking you to love me Morgan, I got over wanting that a long time ago. I just want to be your friend. I’m here for you but I don’t want anything back. Can you understand that? Leaving you was hard, harder than being with you. I just got tired of being alone. Even when you were here I was alone; I need more than that. Someday I’ll have it, just not with you, and I’m okay with that. ”
“I never wanted to hurt you Meg. I tried to love you, I just couldn’t. There was always some part of me that held back. You never seemed to need me in the beginning and then when you did I didn’t want to be needed. It’s different now, she took something from me, and I can’t control myself like that with her. She just looks at me and it melts my heart. It’s like she reached into the darkest parts of me and turned the lights on, scared away all the demons of the past and set me free. I’ve never known love like this before.”
“I’m happy for you, really happy. You’ve needed someone like her in your life for a long time. Don’t let her go Morg, find her, and bring her home. Now come on, I can’t stand here holding you up all night.” Megan steered Morgan into the guest bathroom and helped her undress. Running a tub full of water she eased Morgan down and propped her against the wall. Satisfied that she wouldn’t pass out and drown, she closed the door softly behind her and carried the sheets to the spare room.
Megan smoothed the sheets on the queen-sized bed and folded the top over the down comforter. Sitting on the edge of the bed she let old memories surface. They had spent some happy times in this room, but more sad ones towards the end. She didn’t regret leaving Morgan; the relationship wasn’t healthy, and they both knew it. Endless hours were passed trying to work toward a goal both knew they would never attain.
Thinking about the petite blonde that she’d seen singing to Morgan at the bar and the look on Morgan’s face as she realized what was sitting before her had finally sealed the door on that part of her heart. Morgan had looked happier right then than Megan had ever seen her in their time together. If she allowed herself to admit the truth, she was a little upset when she saw them together. She’d tried one last stab at Morgan when she was leaving the bar, but it was more from past hurts than a desire to have her back.
She meant what she’d said earlier; she wanted to be friends, nothing more. She was glad Morgan had finally found someone to love and it seemed Kathryn loved her back. Tomorrow when she’d sobered up she’d get Morgan to tell her the whole story, what she said earlier had been disjointed and more like self flagellation than an explanation of what had happened between them.
She hoped Kathryn would come to her senses and return on her own, and if not, she wasn’t beyond making a social call herself. Perhaps Kathryn just needed to be nudged in the right direction. If anyone could explain Morgan to someone else she could. Two years together and six months apart gave her a unique insight as to just what it was that made her tick.
Shaking off her thoughts she walked back to the bathroom and helped Morgan wash her hair and body. Grabbing a thick towel from the cabinet she braced her against the wall and dried the water from Morgan’s lithe form. Wrapping her in the blue silk robe she’d brought from Morgan’s bathroom she led her to the spare room and settled her in the bed before going downstairs to pick up the empty bottles and shut off the lights.
Megan crawled in behind Morgan and waited while she settled her head in her lap. Stroking the wet hair beneath her fingers she hummed until she felt Morgan’s body relax and soft snoring sounds reached her ears. Turning off the light she cradled Morgan’s head against her stomach and joined her in sleeping.
Morning found Megan with a crick in her neck from leaning on the wall all night and Morgan with cotton mouth from too much booze. Megan stirred first and eased Morgan’s body from her lap, patting the still damp hair she tried to ease the agent into wakefulness.
“Come on Tigger it’s time to get up.”
“Yeah, yeah give me a minute, my heads gonna explode.”
“How about a cup of coffee and an English muffin?”
“Sounds good, put some of that sliced turkey breast and a little avocado on it and we’re in business.”
“God you eat like a kid Morgan, think of what you’re doing to your body.”
“Can you hold off on being a nurse until after breakfast Meg? I’m starving! Hey, put some of that garlic cream cheese spread on it too.”
“Ugh, I give up! Don’t blame me if your stomach rebels. Go brush your teeth and I’ll make the coffee.”
Megan waited until she heard the water running in the sink before heading downstairs to start breakfast. Seeing the note from Kathryn lying on the bar she picked it up and read it, quickly tossing it inside Morgan’s briefcase and setting it on the floor.
She poured them coffee and made Morgan’s sandwich deciding on plain muffins and jelly for herself. She was amazed at the things Morgan ate and still remained alive. Normal people just didn’t eat stuff like that and look like her.
Fifteen minutes later Morgan appeared and took the offered coffee and sandwich, swinging her long leg over a barstool and settling in. She had combed her hair and dressed while Megan cooked breakfast and now found herself at a loss for words. She remembered everything that happened the night before and was more than a little embarrassed to have been caught like that. Wallowing around in self-pity wasn’t her style and letting someone else see that in her was even worse.
Clearing her throat she took a stab at ending the silence between them and maybe repairing some damage too. “I…uh, well I want to thank you for last night Meg, you didn’t have to do that.”
“Yeah well it’s nice to know you’re human sometimes Tigger, for a while there you had me fooled.”
“I can tell you that right now I feel all too human, it would be nice to take my head off for a few hours. Thanks for bringing my guitar home too.”
“You’re welcome babe, but I meant what I said last night. You need to go find her and bring her home. What you two share is too special not to fight for it.”
Morgan laid her cup and saucer in the sink and walked up behind Megan, slipping her arms around the slender waist she hugged the smaller woman to her.
“You’re pretty special too you know. I’m am so very sorry for the way things turned out between us; if I could do it all over again I would have treated you better. I’m amazed that you even want to be my friend let alone that you forgive me.”
“We all have to grow up sometime Tigger, just took you a little longer than most babe. But you know I wouldn’t have traded our time together for anything in the world. Did us both a little good in the long run no matter how much it hurt at the time.”
Morgan released her grip and moved away, looking in the sincere brown eyes holding hers she saw the truth in Megan’s words and was glad to know that she did indeed still have her friend.
“You were always too good for me Meg. Much as I would like to stay and talk to you I need to catch a flight for Rhode Island. Work comes between us once again.”
“That’s okay babe, we’ll talk later. Take care of yourself huh?”
Morgan walked Megan to her car and stood watching as she rounded the curve and disappeared from sight. With a sigh she picked up her briefcase and climbed into her truck returning once again to the tiny airport at Islip.
Chapter 16: Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees
Morgan walked into the interrogation room and nodded at Pati, setting her briefcase on the table she extended her hand.
“Nice to see you again Ms. St. Jean. How have you been?”
“Hi, it’s nice to see you again too. It’s been tough. I never really noticed how much Jay was a part of my life until now. But… it’s getting easier every day. I’m a little nervous about today though. I hope I can help.”
“If you relax a little, everything will go fine. Try not to think about it too much. Do what the doctor tells you and we’ll go from there.”
“Ok I’ll try…it’s just that I don’t remember much of what I saw.”
“You’d be surprised what the subconscious picks up, Ms. St. Jean. If there’s anything there we’ll find it.”
Morgan’s cell phone chirped and she removed it from her belt. Flipping it open she shot an apologetic look at Pati and answered the call.
“Morgan it’s Bones. I need to know the name of the doctor that did the second autopsy. The number too if you have it.”
Morgan opened her briefcase and dumped the growing stack of files on the table. Her eye caught Kathryn’s note as it slid out between the folders. No time to think about that now. She retrieved the file Bones was asking about, took it to a corner table and began to dig through it for the necessary information.
Pati sighed, shifting nervously in her chair while Morgan spoke in low tones into the receiver. She glanced idly around the room until her gaze rested on the scattered files, which had partially covered up Kathryn’s note. She was about to turn away; to find something else of interest to look at while she waited but as she stared at the note her eyes widened in surprise.
“Umm…Agent Sumners? …Who’s Derek?”
Morgan closed the phone and walked back to the table. Putting the folder in her briefcase, she was startled by Pati’s question and found herself staring pointedly at the woman.
“What…what did you say?”
“I…I was just wondering who Derek was.”
“What makes you ask that?” Morgan’s heart was pounding wildly in her chest but to all outward appearances she remained calm.
“Umm, well, when you were on the phone…” She trailed off, uncertain how the imposing figure before her would react to the truth. “I just happened to notice the note on the table. I wasn’t trying to pry, really…I just…”
Morgan picked up Kathryn’s note. “This piece of paper?”
“Yeah that’s the one. I probably shouldn’t have read it, but I got bored… I guess my mind wandered. I’m sorry, Agent Sumners.”
Morgan’s pulse pounded so hard she could feel it in her temples. Was it possible that this woman had found something in the note that she’d missed? Morgan scanned the brief message once again even though she’d memorized it last night. Nothing in the note mentioned Derek’s name.
Walking around the table she handed the note to Pati. “How did you get Derek from this?”
“Well,” she began, obviously still nervous, “Your files there covered most of it up. The way it faced me only the first letter of each word was visible.” Pati looked up into expectant blue eyes. “And…well look, Ms. Sumners.” She reached over and set one of the files back on top of the paper, presenting it as she had seen it moments before. Pati was right; if you read only the first letter of each sentence….
“Oh my God.” Morgan drew in a sharp breath. Lengthwise from top to bottom, Kathryn had spelled it out. It said, “Derek Is The Killer…Please Help Me.”
Morgan snatched the note from Pati’s hand and immediately saw what she’d missed before. There it was plain as the nose on her face. Kathryn hadn’t wanted to leave after all. Now the note made sense, all the lies were just that…lies. She wanted to hug Pati and run from the room to the first available plane all at the same time. The only thing stopping her was she didn’t know what last name Derek was using. How would she find him? She needed a good description if she was going to pin anything on him and make it stick. Her sense of professionalism warred with every other available emotion as the realization of the truth hit her full force.
“Oh God…he’s got her…” She fought to regain her composure and to keep her knees from buckling.”Keep your head, Morgan. Focus. Focus.”
Settling back in her chair she eyed the woman across the table from her. A bakery clerk had laid the key to this whole case in her lap. Amazing. Morgan wondered if she could entice the woman to work for the bureau as a code cracker.
Realizing that she’d never answered the woman’s question; Morgan gazed into the brown eyes staring steadily back at her.
“Derek could very well be Jay’s killer. We don’t know yet. I need more information.” Like your last name, you bastard.
“Derek may have killed Jay? Wait a minute… now I’m confused. You have a suspect? You seemed upset by what the note said…why? I never heard Jay mention anyone named Derek. I’m sorry, I’m afraid I don’t understand any of this.”
“It’s a little more complicated than that Pati, may I call you Pati?” Morgan continued as Pati nodded her head in the affirmative. “You saw something in the note that I missed completely… It upset me because a friend of mine wrote it; someone I love very much. I thought it was a Dear John letter. I couldn’t see past the message or the lies for the hidden truth. I thank you for that. You’ll never know how much that means to me.” She smiled at the woman in spite of the frustration now welling up inside her.
“I’m so sorry that your friend may be in trouble. If Rob or I could have remembered something sooner, this Derek may have been caught by now. I’ve been over it a thousand times since it happened, but it just gets fuzzier. I wish I had paid closer attention.”
Morgan pulled her electronic phone book from her briefcase and smiled. “Don’t worry about it Pati, we’ll get the answers we need soon enough.” She raised her hand to stifle any other comments Pati would have made and dialed her cell phone. Her words came out clear but slightly rushed.
“Gin? I need you on the first plane to Houston. Kathryn left me a note and she named our guy, but she also says that he has her. I want you to check out her apartment and then go to her office. Try to find out anything you can on the guy she was dating. His first name is Derek; last name unknown. He’s a pilot for Continental Airlines so try to track him there as well. Take John and Douglas with you. One of you cover the apartment, one her job, and the other the airport. Call me with anything you find. I’ll be on my way there as soon as we wrap things up on this end.”
Morgan waited as Gin relayed the message to the other agents and then handed the phone off to Bones.
“Morgan, Bones here, I contacted the doc in Houston and clarified a few things. This second victim was sexually assaulted but the semen was found on her right calf. Our guy never penetrated her. The good news is he’s type AB negative and a secretor. If we ever catch him, this will go a long way to proving he killed this girl also. The family told the police his name was David Holt, but the police have no record of this guy. Our computers didn’t turn up anything on that name either, but we’ll keep looking.”
“Good work Bones, keep me informed.”
Morgan shut the cell phone as the hypnotherapist walked into the room. Standing, she extended her hand to the tiny gray haired woman.
“Morgan Sumners, Special Agent to the FBI.”
“Antonia Grey, but call me Tony.”
She smiled at the taller agent before turning her attention to Pati. “Hello dear,” she said, somehow exuding a softness that the woman found oddly comforting. “Just try and relax. You’ll be just fine, I promise.”
Pati nodded and tried to concentrate on the soothing voice.
“Pati you are wide awake and on the beach with your friends. You can see everything going on around you. You feel the heat of the sun on your face and the coolness of the water around you. What are you doing right now?”
Doctor Grey asked the question in a monotone that had Morgan’s own eyes drooping.
“I’m looking around and enjoying the noises from the other blankets. Kids are laughing and running, it’s nice here. But I’m bored. I want to do something.”
“What is your boyfriend doing?”
“Rob is sitting under the umbrella and reading a book. I can’t see the title.”
Tony consulted the folder of notes lying on the table before continuing, “What about Janell… is she sleeping yet?”
“No, Janelle is to the left of me. She’s laying down on the edge of the blanket talking about getting a perfect tan.”
“What about Nathan? Can you see Nathan?”
“Yes, he and Laurie are playing volleyball with some people a little further down the beach.”
“Can you see him clearly?”
“What color are his shorts?”
“His shorts are white and they have a red line running down the side of them.”
“How far away is he?”
“He’s just down the beach not far…I don’t know exactly.”
“Can you see the carousel?”
“Yeah it’s off to the side of me, the opposite direction of where Nathan is.”
“Listen to the music Pati, watch it turn around and around. Count how many people are riding.”
“There are kids everywhere…either waiting to go on or begging to go again. The parents are standing by too. I can see most of the horses have kids on them. But I don’t know how many people are riding. It’s turning too fast to count. But it’s not totally full.”
“That’s okay Pati, look at the parking lot… do you see Jay?”
“No, I don’t see him. It’s busy, and it’s hard to see through the crowd.”
“Look for him Pati, he’s there. Do you see him?”
“Yes, I see him! He’s coming from the food stands.”
“What is he doing? Watch him close, does he talk to anyone? Stop for anything?”
“He’s walking towards the beach. He’s not talking to anyone…wait he’s stopped and now he’s talking to a guy.”
“Tell me about the man Pati…how tall is he?”
“He’s a little taller than Jay, but shorter than Agent Sumners, I’d guess about 5 ’11. But that’s just a guess I’m not sure of it.”
“What about his clothes Pati? Describe his clothes.”
“His clothes, his clothes are all wrong for the beach. He’s wearing blue pants and a long sleeved white shirt.”
“Now Pati, imagine that you are standing right beside him…what color is his hair?”
“Umm. He doesn’t have any hair. He’s bald.”
Morgan straightened in her chair, leaning toward the hypnotized woman as Dr. Grey continued.
“What about the eyebrows Pati? What color are they?”
“He doesn’t have eyebrows. Just all smooth skin.”
“Does he have a moustache? Beard? Goatee?”
“No, he doesn’t have any facial hair at all. There’s nothing there.”
“Can you still see Jay? What is he doing right now?”
“Yes I can see him. The guy is gesturing at something and Jay is nodding his head. I can’t hear what they’re saying.”
“That’s okay Pati, we don’t need to hear. Just follow them with your eyes, what are they doing?”
“The guy is leading Jay away from the crowd. They’re walking down the small hill to a car.”
“Can you see the car Pati?” Doctor Grey’s monotone droned on, keeping Pati submerged in her subconscious.
“Yes but not clearly.”
“Focus on the car Pati, block out everything else. Imagine your vision clearing, you can see the car like it was right in front of you.”
“Ok I can see the car better now.”
“What color is the car Pati?”
“It’s a black car, all black; even the windows are dark.”
“What are they doing now Pati?”
“The guy is stopping at the back of the car, and Jay is following him. He’s pointing at something…I can’t see it, and Jay is shrugging his shoulders.”
“I want you to keep watching Pati, watch Jay, see what he’s doing.”
“Jay’s stopping by the guy, and now he’s looking into the trunk, he’s getting the spare tire out. The guy must have a flat, but I can’t see it from here, maybe on the other side of the car. They’re still talking and now Jay’s laughing.”
“You’re doing good Pati. I want you to sink deeper into the dream state, deeper and deeper. Now what are they doing?”
“Jay’s moving to the other side of the car and bending down or something. I can’t see him anymore. And the guy is just looking around, not really focusing on anything, just keeps looking.”
“Keep watching Pati, tell me what you see.”
“Ok…well the car is tilted up a little, and the guy is watching Jay now. Now I see Jay, he’s putting a tire into the trunk and going back to the other side. The guy is just standing there, arms folded, watching him.”
“Keep watching Pati, watch the man in the white shirt, what is he doing?”
“Ok, he’s watching Jay. The car is level now and Jay is putting things back into the trunk. The guy walks up beside him…and oh God.”
“It okay Pati, calm down…go deeper Pati. Deeper and deeper now, you see what’s happening but it’s a movie, none of it’s real…deeper and deeper. Feel yourself separate from the scene…now watch the man in the shirt, tell me what he’s doing.”
“Oh God…I can see him. Jay is leaning in the trunk and the guy is right there with him, now Jay is backing up and his hands are in front of him. The guy…he’s got the tire iron and he’s hitting Jay. He got him in the head, and Jay fell down…he’s not moving.”
“Keep watching Pati, remember it’s just a movie. Watch the bald man.”
“Ok the guy is standing over Jay now. He’s still not moving, now he’s dragging Jay away from the car and into the woods. He’s not very far into them but it’s hard to see with all the trees. He’s taking Jay’s clothes off him…leaving him naked.”
“You’ve done very good Pati, now I want you to relax your body, I’m going to snap my fingers and you’ll awaken. You’ll remember all that happened but you won’t feel guilt. You know you couldn’t have saved him.”
Doctor Grey snapped her fingers and Pati blinked her eyes sleepily a few times before focusing on Morgan’s face.
“I saw it, I saw the whole thing.”
Morgan walked around the table and laid her hand on Pati’s shoulder. “Yes, but you couldn’t have stopped him Pati.”
Chapter 17: If I Close My Eyes Forever
He was so sick of hearing her go on and on about that Amazonian bitch. What did she see in her? She just needed to know what she’d be missing by not marrying him. Perhaps a little lesson in pleasing a man would set her straight. Everyone knows that when it comes to pleasing a woman men were the only ones who could do it.
Waiting for the Viagra to do it’s magic, he listened to her going on and on about how much in love she was with the dyke next door. The thought of his Kathryn lying under that woman made his stomach churn. He had never made a move on her, letting her set the pace of their relationship. Now he found out she’d been giving it up for the giant queer and had the nerve to introduce her to him like nothing was going on. She was making a fool out of him and would have continued doing so had he not heard that phone call.
She paced circles around him, spouting off about how she had never loved him and never would. He could kill her like he had all those other people and with her dying breath she would still profess her love for Morgan.
He watched her walk back and forth, frustration building within him with every step she took. As she whirled around to face him, he slapped her hard across the face, splitting her bottom lip and sending her staggering backward. Kathryn fell against the wall, putting her hand out to stop her momentum. Derek sat in the overstuffed leather chair, feet propped up, and hands behind his head, a strangely calm expression now etched across his features. A low chuckle erupted from his throat and increased in intensity until he was laughing outright. Kathryn glared at him, holding one hand to her bleeding mouth, and took one step forward.
Derek stretched his arms over his head, lacing his fingers together and cracking his knuckles loudly.
“You amuse me, Little One.” He laughed again. “So much fun to play with.”
With fire in her eyes, the smaller woman made her way over to where he was sitting and leaned down until they were nose to nose, blood from her lip dripping onto his clean shirt.
“Make that sick bastard,” She said as she spit in his face.
A severe kick in the chest cut off any further thoughts she might have felt like vocalizing and propelled her halfway across the room where she fell like a stone to the hard wooden floor. She clutched her chest and tried to draw in a lungful of air to no avail. Gasping and wheezing, she writhed on the floor as Derek walked slowly around her, pausing periodically to kick her in the head. Blood now oozed from several orifices and dripped in erratic patterns onto the cherrywood.
“So tell me, my sweet,”` Derek said, “When that dyke bitch fucked you, did you like it?”
“Bite me,” Kathryn spat out between gasps, two of her teeth falling out of her mouth with the words.
Derek reached down and grabbed the platinum locks, jerking Kathryn’s head back and pulling her unceremoniously to her feet. She faltered, seeing spots before her eyes, and shook her head in an effort to stay conscious. He brought his knee up hard into her midsection and releasing his hold on her head, shoved her backward until she collided with the chair and fell backwards over it, landing in a crumpled heap on the other side.
“I asked you a question,” Derek said, his words slow and deliberate as he knelt down next to the trembling form.
The spots behind Kathryn’s eyes danced and transformed into a myriad of colors and patterns as she tried to raise her head and look in his direction. One swollen eye opened partially and she thought for a fleeting second that there were two of him and the mere idea seemed to be mildly amusing, although she couldn’t decide why it was so. Derek unbuttoned the fly on his jeans and advanced towards her, the placid look in his eyes making her decidedly uneasy. Nausea overtook her, the spots danced wildly, coherent thought became an abstract principle and before the blackness closed in around her, a single word fell from her lips.
Morgan glanced briefly at the patrol cars parked outside the Epplewhite’s house as she made her way down the road to home and wondered if the place had been vandalized once again. The Epplewhites were winter people and hardly used the beach house during the summer, choosing instead to divide their time between Vermont and Michigan during those months.
Pulling into her driveway, she smiled to herself, seeing Megan’s car parked in it’s usual spot. Proof again that they had weathered the storm of a bad relationship to find the rainbow of friendship waiting for them on the other side. Gathering her stuff from the truck she walked into the kitchen and found her ex lover putting groceries away. A momentary pang of guilt made itself known in her stomach as thoughts of what could have been with this woman surfaced briefly. Megan had taken good care of her during their time together and evidently still worried about her eating habits.
“Whatcha doing Meg?”
“Jesus Morgan, give me a heart attack why don’t you! Figured since I had to scrounge for breakfast this morning I could grab a few things for you on my way home from work.” She was still wearing the pale blue scrubs the hospital required of the nursing staff instead of the old starched white uniforms. Putting the last of the vegetables in the crisper she brushed her hands lightly over her pants before shutting the door and turning to Morgan. She couldn’t believe the change from this morning; Morgan had looked hung over and tired but now she looked like she’d been kicked in the stomach. Dark circles underlined her eyes and to say she looked haggard would have been an understatement.
Megan enfolded Morgan in her arms and held on as the agent fell apart. Heaving sobs wracked her frame and tears fell unchecked from her eyes. They stayed in that position until Morgan’s tears dried and she felt a little more in control before Megan led her to the sink and gently washed her face.
“Want to tell me what’s going on Tigger?”
“Kathryn didn’t leave me Meg, she’s in trouble and I don’t know how to find her.”
Gin’s search had turned up nothing that would be of any use to Morgan. Kathryn’s father had met Derek a few times and he remembered the boy being somewhat nice. He wanted Kathryn to marry him but really knew nothing much about the man. Kathryn had spoken of him quite a bit and from what she’d said he thought they would make a fine couple. He now assumed that there was nothing special about the relationship after talking to Kathryn a few days earlier.
Douglas turned up several pilots for Continental named Derek but none were their guy. Either he didn’t work for the airline or he wasn’t a pilot. Morgan leaned toward the latter and had Douglas pulling all personnel files on Continental employees named Derek hired in the last five years and based out of Houston.
Kathryn’s apartment had been tossed and nothing connecting Derek to her was found. Neighbors remembered seeing the man with Kathryn on several occasions but she hadn’t introduced him to any of them. The only one who seemed to know anything about Kathryn’s relationship with Derek was her friend Tracey and she didn’t know his last name either. John had questioned her extensively and came away with little more knowledge than he started with. They had socialized a few times and Tracey found Derek charming and personable but knew it was a dead end relationship for Kathryn. She knew that at one time Kathryn loved Derek very much but had seemed cooler about the relationship lately. She told him that Derek tended to monopolize the conversations, talking about work and how important his job as a pilot was. She said he treated Kathryn as a fixture and a waitress but nothing more. They didn’t seem to be enamored with each other like she thought they would be. She knew Kathryn was going to end the relationship the next time he was in town and assumed it had happened already. She’d talked to Kathryn before she left for New York but said Derek wasn’t mentioned by either of them.
“Have you searched Janice’s house?”
The idea hadn’t occurred to Morgan before Megan brought it up and instead of answering her she turned on her heel and raced out of the house. Vaulting the railing on Kathryn’s porch, she kicked the front door in and ran up the stairs to the bedroom followed by Megan. Most of Kathryn’s stuff was gone but Morgan pulled out her laptop and the journal on the bedside table. Opening the cover she identified her lover’s neat script and scanned a few pages until she was satisfied that it was indeed Kathryn’s personal journal and not one of Janice’s’.
A quick search of the house turned up nothing of value. Shouldering the laptop she took the journal and returned home. She set up the computer in her office and kicked back in her chair for a quick run through of the journal while she waited for the decoding software to break Kathryn’s power-on password. She read through it twice before the audible beep told her the laptop had been cracked and was booting up. The journal revealed a lot of surprises for Morgan but nothing of any use on Derek. Kathryn had talked about him but more as a friend than anything else. She had voiced her dissatisfaction with Derek’s long absences and his neglect of her when he was around.
Kathryn had been much more descriptive in her thoughts of Morgan and the sexual encounter that they’d shared while she was sleeping. Obviously Kathryn enjoyed it but she was still mortified to know she’d taken advantage of the woman she loved even while sleeping.
A search of the hard drive turned up a personal address book but only a pager number for Derek. Morgan dialed it and waited for a return call. Kathryn’s address book in her email revealed an address for Derek as well but no last name. She read through the emails from him that Kathryn had saved in a folder listed as Junk. Nothing but mindless ramblings from the man about his job and the cities he was in at the time. Morgan printed those out on her Laser Jet to compare those dates with crime scenes. She made a note of Kathryn’s email address and shut the computer down and placed it back in the case along with the journal.
Walking back downstairs she smelled the aroma of dinner in the process of being cooked; the rumbling in her stomach gave testament to her lack of food for the day. She pulled a stool from under the bar and silently watched Megan as she prepared their dinner. She was glad Megan was there, she didn’t understand it, but she was glad. If she had to spend another night alone she’d go crazy with worry. She knew that no matter how much she raved about Derek and the whole situation Megan would stay beside her and listen. She had developed a new admiration for Megan over the last twenty-four hours.
“Did you find anything useful?”
“Nope, other than a pager number and a useless email address he remains nameless. I sent a request to his ISP for his personal information but I have to wait until they verify my credentials before they’ll release anything.”
Megan scooped the stir-fry onto two plates, added silverware, and motioned with her head for Morgan to follow her to the deck. Handing Morgan a plate they sat at the table and watched as darkness crept across the horizon and stole the light from the bay. Morgan dug into her food with gusto, relishing the spices of the stir-fry as it melted on her tongue. Megan was an excellent cook and she didn’t mind showing her skills, cooking was almost cathartic for her. Morgan could always tell when Megan had a brutal day at the hospital by how elaborate the dish was at dinner that night. A four-course meal always meant she’d lost a patient she cared about and something easy and light meant it had been a good day. Morgan was almost envious of Megan’s way of relieving stress. She had never been able to lose herself in anything so completely that she could forget the problems of her life. Until she’d met Kathryn that is; the blonde had a way of chasing any coherent thought from her mind with nothing more than a smile.
Morgan lost herself in memories of Kathryn and would have stayed there all night had a cold nose against her hand not snapped her from the pleasant thoughts. Reaching down she enfolded J.D. with her arm and was rewarded by a lick across her face. “Where’s Mildred J.?
A breathless Mildred mounted the steps from the beach and paused to catch her breath.
“Morgan, you have to come to the Epplewhites, dear. It’s Kathryn.” She turned a sympathetic look in Megan’s direction before continuing, “You should come too Megan, she’s going to need you.”
Mildred’s words faded into the background of her subconscious; all she heard was Kathryn and Epplewhites and her long legs had her halfway down the beach before her mind registered that she wasn’t wearing her gun. She decided that it didn’t matter; if Derek had hurt her she would kill him with her bare hands.
Mildred explained the situation to Megan and helped her ransack Morgan’s lab for the supplies Megan hoped would be needed. Shoving everything into a bag, she tossed it into the car and followed Mildred’s directions to the Epplewhite’s house. Mildred’s description of Kathryn’s condition was not an indication of how bad it actually was and the sight stole her breath.
She had to pull Morgan back to get a good look at the naked woman lying on the floor and drew in a deep breath. If the woman wasn’t dead she sure looked it. Derek had beaten her so severely that Megan couldn’t tell where all the blood was coming from. The police officers standing around the room said she had finally died about 2 minutes earlier, almost to the minute Morgan walked into the room and knelt beside her.
Lifting her wrist, she felt for a pulse and finding none attempted the procedure on Kathryn’s neck with the same results. Morgan’s keening wail reached her ears and thrust Megan into action. Reaching over she slapped Morgan across the face to get her attention and asked if she could begin the chest compressions before tilting Kathryn’s head back and starting artificial respiration.
Now propelled into action, Morgan began barking orders to the policemen standing around the spectacle. She had one of the men calling Bones and another calling the coast guard for a life-flight helicopter. Morgan was glad that Bones lived so close to her as she heard his truck pull into the drive. He had brought the forensic wagon and had the officers unloading his equipment from the truck.
He began examining Kathryn while staying clear of the women doing CPR. The major source of blood was coming from a scalp laceration deep enough for him to feel the cranial bones beneath his fingertips. He didn’t have time to stitch her up and still save her life. Placing a gauze compress against the gash he moved Megan’s hand over the bandage and pushed against it. She maintained the pressure as she turned Kathryn’s neck to use the weight of her head to staunch the flow of blood being pumped out with each compression Morgan performed on her chest. Megan accepted the ambu bag from the officer and placed it over Kathryn’s mouth and nose, continuing to breathe for her.
Bones concluded his cursory examination and charged the defib machine, pushing Morgan away with his elbows he placed the electrodes against Kathryn’s chest and shocked her heart, pausing for a pulse check he increased the voltage to maximum and shocked her four more times before a feeble heartbeat was felt. Everyone in the room held their breath as the seconds ticked away and Kathryn’s heartbeat grew stronger. Megan continued to pump the ambu bag, steadily forcing air into Kathryn’s lungs.
A collective sigh was heard when Bones moved away and wrapped his arms around Morgan, reassuring her that Kathryn wasn’t out of the woods but she was alive. He moved to Megan and pulled a suture kit and a razor from his bag. Carefully shaving away the long platinum locks he sutured the gash that ran from Kathryn’s left ear to the back of her head.
The Coast Guard EMT arrived and took over for the exhausted FBI agents, starting an I.V. drip and plasma infusion they loaded Kathryn, Morgan, and Megan in the chopper for the 10-minute flight to Long Islands Regional Hospital.
Morgan followed the gurney from the landing pad into the surgical suite. The nurses tried to push her into the hall but gave up when force met an unmovable object. She explained to the head surgeon that she was a doctor and she wasn’t leaving Kathryn’s side for anyone.
Giving in to his request, she changed into scrubs and booties adding the hair cover to the ensemble before walking back to the operating room. Kathryn had been hooked to a ventilator in her absence and a nurse had just finished shaving the remaining hair from her head. Multiple scalp lacerations were visible once the blood was gently sponged away. Accepting a suture tray the PA began stitching the gashes closed.
Morgan took an involuntary step forward as the thoracic surgeon slid a scalpel below Kathryn’s ribcage and began carefully slicing through the muscle layers on her abdomen. Massive internal hemorrhaging was evident as the last of the muscles gave way under the blade and streams of blood ran like rivers from the incision site.
A plastic surgeon had been in to reset Kathryn’s broken nose followed by the oral surgeon to install the implants that would replace her missing and fractured teeth. Kathryn’s left arm and right leg were encased in plaster from the elbow and knee down respectively.
Six hours later Kathryn was in ICU minus a spleen, kidney, and several feet of intestines. She was comatose but breathing on her own. The doctor assured Morgan that while Kathryn was in critical condition it was possible that she could make a full recovery.
Morgan stayed by Kathryn’s side, daring anyone to try to remove her from the restricted ward. Megan whispered a few words to the floor nurses and Morgan was left alone to stand a silent vigil at Kathryn’s bedside. Cupping Kathryn’s bruised face gently in her large hands Morgan leaned over the still figure looking so tiny in the large bed with all the tubes attached to her, and placed a soft kiss against the pale unresponsive lips.
Chapter 18: Prejudices of Youth Revisited
Megan tapped gently on the door to Kathryn’s room in the busy ICU and motioned for Morgan to join her in the hallway.
“Kathryn’s father is on his way here. You might want to make yourself scarce for awhile.”
“I’m not leaving, if he doesn’t like it he can be the one to go.”
“Alright, I’ll check in later to see how it’s going.”
“Thanks for everything Megan.”
Morgan was sitting by Kathryn’s side holding her hand when Henry Peterson strode into the room. For a moment he was thrown back into the past and the last time he had seen Janice with Mel.
“Mel?” Henry asked, uncertainty clouding his normally powerful voice.
“No, you must be Mr. Peterson, I’m Morgan Sumners, Kathryn’s friend.” Morgan stood and faced the man who was obviously Kathryn’s father though no resemblance was evident to identify him as such.
“Are you related to Mel Pappas?” he asked, the uncertainty now replaced with distrust.
“No sir. We were mistaken for mother and daughter more than once, but we had no familial ties as far as either of us knew.”
“Are you like her?” He leaned back; arms folded across his chest, and eyed her with obvious scrutiny.
“Meaning?” Morgan bristled a little at Henry’s blatant accusatory overtones and unconsciously leaned in closer to her lover, pulling her hand into her lap.
“Are you one of those people?”
“One of what people? Female?”
“No, I’m sure you know what I’m referring to Ms. Sumners.”
“A lesbian? Is that what you’re asking me?”
“Yes.” Henry looked disgusted as the word was uttered aloud, but he held her gaze firmly.
“I don’t believe it’s any of your business Mr. Peterson.”
“That’s my daughter, and therefore that makes it my business.” He stared at Kathryn through the maze of tubes and wires keeping her alive.
“How so? One has nothing to do with the other.”
“I don’t want her having that kind of influence in her life.”
“I’m well aware of your feelings on the subject, Mr. Peterson, however bigoted and short sighted they may be. Your daughter is a grown woman and capable of making informed decisions on her own.” She softly stroked the fingers twined with her own, drawing comfort from their warmth.
“That may be true Ms. Sumners, however, she can be naïve about certain things.”
“How old is your daughter Mr. Peterson?”
“She’s 28, why?”
“Don’t you think she’s old enough to make her own friends without being influenced by another person’s lifestyle choices?”
“Yes, I believe she’s capable of making those decisions for herself, that doesn’t lessen my concern that she will choose to indulge in something she will later regret.” He glanced pointedly at the obvious display of tenderness as Morgan brought their clasped hands up and gently brushed them across her lips.
“If I were you Mr. Peterson, I’d be grateful that my daughter were still alive no matter who she chose to be involved with.” The respirator hummed quietly in the background.
“I think my concerns are more than warranted, Ms. Sumners. She’s in her current condition because of a poor choice of a partner.”
“She’s in her current condition because she thought it would make you happy to stay with Derek, not because she wanted to be with him.”
“He seemed like a stable young man. How was I to know he’d turn out to be a psychopath? Unable to look at either Morgan or his daughter, Henry began to pace slowly back and forth from the door to the large window.
“My point exactly, Mr. Peterson, if you’d let Kathryn make her own decisions and choices in life she might be a better judge of character than you give her credit for.”
“My daughter is an excellent judge of character, Ms. Sumners. She’s worked hard her entire life and she’s gotten as far as she has strictly on her own merits. However, she’s also been absorbed enough in her career to be a bit, shall we say, unexposed to some things. I just don’t want her to end up getting her heart broken because she has no idea what she’s getting herself into.”
He stopped near the bed and looked down on the agent.
“Work ethics and merits aside, your daughter has been absorbed in her work because she sought your approval. She remained unexposed, shall we say, because you kept her where you wanted her. Tied to a desk and daddy’s little girl. She has made her choice and if you can’t accept that then you should walk out this door right now and consider your daughter dead. She has the right to choose how she wants to live and like it or not she chooses to make her life with me.” Morgan’s voice was even and tempered but she could feel her frustration rising.
“I have no intentions of walking out on my child. You make it sound as though we have no tangible relationship and if that’s the case then you offend me, Ms. Sumners. I love my daughter and I only want what’s best for her. I know she’s upset that I didn’t allow Janice to be a part of her life, and perhaps I should have thought that one out a little more. Janice was a wonderful person and I know Kathryn would have loved her, but I could never condone her lifestyle. If she’d married a man, everything would have been different. When Kathryn regains her strength, I’m taking her home.”
“I hope for your sake Mr. Peterson that when and if Kathryn recovers you’ll allow her to pursue the things in life that make her happy, regardless of what those things are. I love your daughter with all my heart but if she decided to walk away from me to make you happy as much as that would hurt me, I would let her go. Do you love her enough to accept her decisions no matter what they may be? Could you love her enough to let her choose to share her life with me if that is what it took to make her truly happy?”
For the first time all day, the hint of a rueful smile appeared at the corners of the aging lips. “Kathryn’s mother was the best thing that ever happened to me. When I met her I was struggling to make ends meet and her father didn’t want her to go out with me because he didn’t think I was good enough for her.” The older man chuckled. “I asked him for her hand in marriage four times before he finally agreed. I think he was convinced that if I put up with everything he put me through that I was either hopelessly devoted to her or the most stubborn person he’d ever met.”
For a moment the old man seemed to be lost in his own memories. “The truth is, I would have done anything in the world for her. She was one of a kind.” He sighed. “Losing my wife was the hardest thing I’ve ever endured, Ms. Sumners. I don’t want to lose my daughter too. If she’s truly happy with you, if that’s what she really wants….” He trailed off. “It’s not something I’ll be able to get used to very easily, I hope you can understand that.”
“I do understand Mr. Peterson, more than you know. It seems to me that we both want what’s best for your daughter and we both want her to be happy no matter what it takes. I want you to know that if I am what makes her happy then I will spend the rest of my life making sure that she remains that way. She is the most important person in my life as I’m sure she is in yours. I only want to love her and share my life with her. I know where you stand on this issue Mr. Peterson, but I hope you can come to accept that your daughter will know the happiness you shared with your wife as long as she is in my life. You and I may never be close, but I hope in time that we can become friends. I know how important it is to Kathryn to have you approve of her and to have you in her life and I will never do anything to keep her from you.” She leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on the pale forehead, brushing a lock of hair out of Kathryn’s eyes.
“Well, I…I confess I didn’t expect…well, I guess I didn’t know what to expect. Perhaps if I had given Janice a chance…but that’s all water under the bridge, isn’t it? I don’t want to make the same mistake with my daughter. Thank you, Ms. Sumners, for everything you’ve done here. I understand you were the agent heading up this case.” He stared at Morgan for a long moment. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to stare…but the resemblance is uncanny. You look so much like Mel.”
“That must be a bit disconcerting for you I’m sure, but I’m not Mel and Kathryn is not Janice. Whatever ill feelings you three shared I hope you can put those behind you for Kathryn’s sake.”
“I’m sure I can try, Ms. Sumners. I never took the time to get to know Mel as a person, something I’ve just now come to realize. As for Janice, I spent some time with her when June and I were dating, but when I found out about her sexual preference, I forgot about the person and spent my life embracing only my own prejudice. For Kathryn’s sake, I’ll do my best to get past that, but as I said earlier, it’s going to take some time. Old habits die hard.”
“Perhaps we should start over then,” Morgan said extending her hand toward Henry, “I’m Morgan and it’s a pleasure to meet you.” Morgan stood up, reluctantly breaking the physical connection between herself and the woman she loved.
Henry smiled and shook her hand warmly. “Hello, Morgan. I’m Henry. It’s nice to meet you as well.” His face clouded over a bit as he turned his attention to his daughter’s still form. “I understand that Kathryn’s condition is fairly serious.”
“She had some pretty serious injuries; they removed her spleen and a kidney as well as some of her intestines. The doctors don’t know if she’ll come out of the coma but I know she will. She’s a fighter and she wants to live. I have to believe that she’ll pull through this. I don’t know what I’d do without her Henry.”
“She’s my only child, Morgan, and she means everything to me. She has to make it.” He ran his fingers through his graying hair and looked up at the agent. “If there’s one thing Kathryn has on her side, it’s tenacity. I have no doubt that she’ll give it everything she’s got.” He smiled. “Looks like she’s got a lot of good reasons to fight her way back.”
Morgan walked Henry to Kathryn’s bedside and left him alone with his daughter. Finding Megan standing outside the door she linked arms with the nurse and escorted her to the cafeteria for a much-needed cup of coffee.
Chapter 19: Sometimes They Come Back
Morgan barely felt the hand on her shoulder and her mind didn’t register the owner until Megan’s voice broke into her thoughts.
“Have you had any sleep today Tigger?” Megan’s shift was starting and she decided to check in on Kathryn before starting her rounds. The battered blond hadn’t woken from her coma or shown any signs of doing so in the last two months. The casts had been removed and all signs indicated that she should be awake. Physical therapists came in several times a day to work her unresponsive limbs.
At this point Megan was more concerned about Morgan than Kathryn. She knew Kathryn would wake up when she was ready but she was worried that Morgan hadn’t been sleeping or eating right since Kathryn came out of surgery. Sitting in the chair beside the bed she seemed a shell of her former self. Dark circles ringed her eyes and she had lost a considerable amount of weight, her clothes hanging off her now bony frame.
“Haven’t felt like it Meg. I don’t want to miss her waking up if she ever does.”
“You can’t keep this up babe, when she wakes up she’s going to need all of you and you can’t give her that if you don’t take care of yourself.”
“I know, but if something happens to her I want to be here for it.”
“You will be Tigger, you’ll be there for the rest of her life, but only if you take care of you.”
Morgan glanced at Kathryn, so small and so pale lying in the hospital bed with tubes and wires covering her body. Clasping her hands between her knees she dropped her head and stared at her shoes. The words coming to mind would be the hardest she ever gave voice to.
“She is lying here because of me, she almost died because of me, and yet she is the best thing to ever happen to me. She reaches inside me and makes me want to be a better person. She makes me believe in myself and in goodness. She is everything good, she is like the light, she shines and brings joy to people. She loves me, but she doesn’t know me Megan, she doesn’t know what I’m capable of. She has no clue that I’ll kill Derek on sight. She doesn’t know the darkness that lives within me. How can ask her to spend her life with me? The darkness would put out her light.”
Kathryn struggled against the IV’s attached to her arm and reached out to touch the side of Morgan’s face. Waiting for Morgan to look at her before answering the words that pulled her from the coma.
“Light only shines in the darkness my love.”
Morgan gathered Kathryn into her arms, unmindful of the various tubes and equipment attached to her as Megan pressed the call button to summon the nurses.
“I love you Little One, I was so scared you wouldn’t come back.” Tears fell from her eyes and ran like burning rivers down her cheeks and onto Kathryn.
“I’d never leave you Angel, but you have to let me go, you’re hurting me.”
Morgan released her grip but kept her in a light embrace; she didn’t want to let Kathryn out of her arms for a second. She had no choice a few minutes later as the room filled with doctors and nurses and she was jostled to the side of the bed.
Kathryn’s prognosis was good but she would be spending several more weeks in the hospital, her condition lowered from critical to serious. Within a week she was moved from ICU to a private room complete with her own personal bodyguard. Morgan moved in, sleeping on the cot furnished by the hospital, but within reaching distance of Kathryn’s hand at all times.
Morgan leaned against the bed, brushing the spiky blond hair growing from Kathryn’s scalp; she missed the long platinum locks that once hung there.
“It’ll grow back you know.”
“I know, but I still miss running my fingers through it sometimes.”
“It’s easier to keep now though. I’m thinking of keeping it short, not this short, but short.”
“Whatever you want to do with it is fine with me, don’t think you have to grow it long just because I like it that way.”
“Are you going to tell me what’s going on or should I guess?”
“Don’t know what you mean Little One.”
“You and the doctors keep conferring and I’m not getting any information. I want to know what’s going on.”
“Have you ever thought about having children?”
“It’s crossed my mind a few times, not seriously, but I have thought about it. I think I’d be a good mother. Why? Am I sterile now? Did Derek do something to keep me from having them?” The worried look on Kathryn’s face made Morgan’s heart sink.
“No, you can have all the children you want.”
“So what’s going on Angel?” Kathryn was perplexed at the look of sadness on Morgan’s face.
Blue eyes slowly trained on her and Kathryn’s heart jumped at the words her lover barely whispered.
“Too much to hope that it’s yours and not his huh?” The words fell from her lips as a wry smile replaced the shock evident just moments before.
“Yeah.” Morgan looked into her lover’s eyes, searching for the mixed emotions she knew she would find there.
“Well, nothing I can do about the father.” For all she had been through, Kathryn had always had a sense of practicality about her and uppermost in her mind at the moment was the simple joy of being alive. ” What do we want to do about the child?” Her voice was almost a whisper now.
“It’s not my decision Kathryn, it’s yours.”
Kathryn looked up slowly; meeting the inquisitive gaze of her partner. “We’re still a couple aren’t we? That makes it ours.” They had spent a considerable amount of time discussing their life together, coming to the conclusion that Kathryn knew what she was getting into and still wanted it. She loved Morgan and she would accept her for who and what she was.
“Yeah, but I can’t decide this for you Little One, it’s your body and it’s your emotions.” She smiled as the smaller hand in her own began tracing idle patterns against her fingers.
“I want to keep it, but will you stay as well?” She looked almost fearful; she didn’t want to lose Morgan over this or anything else for that matter. She was sure of the agent’s feelings but this was a new twist and she had to know what was going through Morgan’s mind.
“The child has nothing to do with the sins of its father. If you want to keep it and you want my help raising it then I’m here for you.” Morgan paused. “For both of you.”
“I love you Morgan.”
“I love you too Kathryn.” She squeezed the hand in hers affectionately.
The next few weeks passed in a blur as Kathryn began her recovery. She grew stronger everyday and after three weeks the doctors released her to Morgan’s care.
Morgan had tried to anticipate Kathryn’s every need once home, buying a hospital type bed and moving it into the den, along with a T.V., VCR, and hiring a cook to keep up with her appetite. In the hospital, Kathryn had begged until Morgan finally relented and brought her food on an almost hourly basis.
Megan agreed to be Kathryn’s full time nurse; after spending so much time together Megan and Kathryn had forged a friendship of sorts. Morgan needed both women in her life and they had discovered a fondness for each other as well. Megan genuinely liked Kathryn and found that she liked Morgan better when she was with the small blond as well.
The ride home was uneventful and once Megan had Kathryn settled into her new home she left for the evening. Kathryn had agreed to let Megan stay in her house for the duration of her recovery, wanting her nearby in case she was needed in a hurry.
The days passed quickly for the two lovers and soon Kathryn was complaining about being cooped up in the bed all the time. Slowly she ventured from the spacious den, enjoying the little freedom accorded her. She still wasn’t up to climbing the stairs but she could move around the first floor freely and they spent their nights lying together on the couch watching movies or just enjoying each other’s presence.
“You know what I’d really like to do Angel?” Kathryn asked on one such night.
“What’s that Little One?”
“I want you to take me out on your boat.”
“I don’t think you’re ready for that yet, why don’t we give it a little more time love?”
“I think I can handle it. I want to get out of the house for awhile and I’m feeling much better. I even went upstairs today and showered by myself. I think I can handle a few hours on the boat, Morgan. Please.”
“Let’s see what Megan says in the morning and if she thinks you’re up to it we’ll take her out.”
Pleased with Morgan’s acquiescence, Kathryn snuggled back in the strong arms and sighed contentedly.
Morgan pulled Kathryn closer to her and the two women fell asleep on the couch entwined in each other’s arms. The peacefulness of the night gave way to a different kind of darkness as Morgan slipped into an all too familiar dream.
Morgan walked through the fog surrounding her. Holding her arm straight out in front she couldn’t see her hand. She could feel her heart pounding as she stumbled blindly for the forest she knew lay ahead. She didn’t know why she felt afraid, but shivers of fear ran up her spine as goosebumps broke out on her arms. The fog swirled around her face, obscuring her vision and she fell. Hands stretched blindly in front of her, she fell to her knees onto a pile of something slippery. Bringing her hands up in front of her face, she waved the fog away trying to see what she was kneeling upon. As her vision cleared, she saw her hands were soaked in blood. Rivulets of the coppery tinged liquid slid down her forearms and dripped onto her naked thighs.
The fog dissipated around her and, looking at the ground, she saw herself. She was naked as she was now, her abdomen ripped open, intestines and organs scattered around her. She screamed and pushed away from the sightless eyes staring at her. Slipping in the gore, she lost her balance and fell backward, hands flung behind her trying to stop the fall and fell onto another vision of herself. Looking around all she saw were corpses bearing her face.
A maniacal giggle erupted from the woods in front of her and she squinted against the fog blocking her vision. She could barely make out a figure draped in a black cloak briefly illuminated by the full moon. She couldn’t see the face, no matter how hard she tried to bring it into focus. She tried to stand, only to be pinned in place by some unseen force. She struggled until her arms gave way from the exertion and perspiration ran down her face in rivers. A hand reached out from the robe and dropped a bloody knife onto Morgan’s lap.
“Is this what you were looking for? The knife you killed them with?”
“But I didn’t kill them… it wasn’t me. You did this! You killed them all!”
“I was but an instrument you played. I wielded the weapon, you orchestrated the murders. All for you Morgan, it was always for you.”
“I never wanted this. I never wanted anyone to die for me.” Morgan pleaded with the figure.
“They are my gift to you. I left you what you wanted. So many clues for you to follow every time, and still you don’t know me. You don’t want me. What more do you need Morgan? What else can I give that will make you mine?”
“Nothing, there’s nothing more that you can give. If having me stops this from happening again, I’ll be yours.”
“NO! She will never be yours; she will never be with you. Come with me Morgan, I’ll take you home. I can make this disappear forever; I can make you whole again. Trust me Morgan, trust your love for me. Take my hand and we’ll walk away from here.”
Morgan stretched her hand toward the smaller one beckoning her as the black clad figure slipped behind Kathryn and plunged the knife into her heart.
“She will never be yours Morgan, if I can’t have you no one will.”
“Noooo!” Morgan screamed as the welcoming blackness enfolded her consciousness and she drifted away.
Kathryn awoke to Morgan’s screams and knowing the cause didn’t try to awaken her. Brushing her hand across Morgan’s brow she whispered soothing words in her ear until she felt the body beneath her relax.
The dream was always the same and came nightly now. Kathryn knew that waking Morgan and making her talk about it made the dream worse. She had tried that in the beginning and the dream came back again in the same night. If she left her sleeping and whispered repeatedly that she was there and that she loved her then and only then would Morgan drift into a dreamless state and sleep through the night.
Morgan met with her team the next morning in the lab. Over the last two months four more bodies had turned up on her property and she was still clueless as to why or how this was happening. The bodies all bore the L.U.S. carved on their abdomen the same as the first woman found there. All the victims closely resembled Morgan though not all had her height.
They knew it wasn’t Derek, he had hopped a transcontinental flight and was seeking asylum in Rio. So far all efforts to extradite him had been met with opposition from the Rio government. Morgan had dutifully supplied them with copies of her reports and felt sure that his activities would continue no matter where he was. She decided to play the waiting game with the foreign government, knowing that when he started killing their people he would be sent home to stand trial. She’d entertained thoughts of having one of her contacts in the CIA take him out but Kathryn had talked her out of it. She wanted justice as much as Morgan but thought all the families needed the closure seeing him stand trial would bring.
“Bones, what do you have?”
“Nothing Morg, the trace is all the same. Blond wig fibers, untraceable no prints and nothing on video.”
“Gin, what about you?”
“Less than Bones, no tire tracks, no tool identification, basically I have nothing to go on.”
“Okay folks,” Morgan said, “Here’s an arial photo of my property.” She tacked the photo to the wall in the lab and started marking dumpsites with pushpins. “Two bodies in the lab, one on my front porch, one in the garage and one at the edge of the woods. I’ve had cameras installed around the perimeter of the house, lab and at the edge of the woods. Any other suggestions?”
Bones spoke up; “I’d put one up by the road, and maybe a few around the bay. The perp could be bringing them in by water.”
“Good idea, anyone else?”
“Any idea what we’re dealing with here, Sumners? Do you have a psychological evaluation on this perp yet?”
“I don’t know what we’re dealing with Gin, not enough of a pattern to go on yet. He’s targeted me for some reason; we know that by the victim’s appearance. He removes their hearts and carves those initials on their abdomens. The sexual molestation extends to fisting but not penile rape and that’s all we’ve got right now. I can do a psychological but we all know those don’t help much when it comes to finding the perp.”
“If there’s nothing else, we’ll meet next week and see where we stand. I’m taking Kathryn out on my boat tonight, don’t know when we’ll be back but if you need to reach me Bones can get in touch with us. Bones hang back a minute if you don’t mind, the rest of you are free to go.”
Morgan waited as the other four agents gathered their paperwork and drifted out of the lab.
“Okay Bones what aren’t you saying?”
“I’m going to reserve judgment for awhile Morg but if I get something definite I’ll let you know, besides I believe we’re thinking along the same lines already.”
“I’m not liking the sound of that Bones.”
“I know, but trust me on this one, okay?”
“You aren’t leaving me much choice my friend.”
“I’m sorry about that, but when I have enough I’ll let you know, I promise.”
“Don’t keep it from me too long Bones, I don’t want to have to pull rank on you. If it will help the case I need to know as soon as possible.”
“You’ll know as soon as I do.”
“Okay, now about those extra cameras. Can you get them installed, today if possible?”
“Sure Morg, I’ll get on it for you.”
Chapter 20: The Long Road Home
“Hold on…hold on to yourself
For this is gonna hurt like hell
Hold on, hold on to yourself
You know that only time will tell
My love, you know that you’re my best friend
You know I’d do anything for you
My love, let nothing come between us
My love for you is strong and true.
So now, you’re sleeping peaceful
I lie awake and pray that you’ll be strong tomorrow
We will see another day.”
The boat drifted lazily in the bay, the subtle sounds of the night harmonizing naturally with the waves gently lapping against her sides. The moonlight cast an interesting pattern on the railing of the deck; bouncing off the highly polished teakwood and reflecting it back out over the still water.
Kathryn stood on the deck, grasping the rail lightly as she peered out over into the depths. Running a hand through her slightly windblown locks, her face broke into a grin as she felt strong arms slip neatly around her and pull her in close.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” She remarked, enjoying the feel of the night and of the taller woman in whose embrace she now relaxed.
“Yeah, you are,” Morgan answered, nuzzling the golden locks and enjoying the unique scent of the smaller woman in front of her.
“I’d say you’re a little biased, my love.”
Morgan didn’t answer, but simply pulled her quarry closer.
Kathryn sighed contentedly. “Do you come out here very often?”
Morgan shifted slightly and scooped the blonde up into her arms, carefully carrying them both to a nearby deck chair. She settled her cargo in her lap before answering.
“I used to. It’s a rare treat now. My work keeps me in so many different environments I sometimes forget what it’s like to do something like this.”
Kathryn turned in the embrace and let her head drop onto Morgan’s shoulder. She hooked a finger through her partner’s belt loop and toyed with the fabric absently.
“You’re still wearing your gun.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry, Little One, but after everything we’ve just been through…” Morgan brushed a long finger under Kathryn’s chin and tilted it up until she was gazing into an endless sea of green.
“You understand, right?”
The small blond nodded.
“Actually it doesn’t bother me anymore.”
“I’m glad. I feel naked without it.”
The smaller one chuckled. “Do tell.”
Morgan raised her eyebrow until it joined up with her hairline. “Seducing an agent… hmm… you could get in big trouble for that you know.” The blue eyes sparkled in the moonlight like sapphires.
“Sure. Article 3, paragraph 10.”
Kathryn leaned up and captured the inviting lips of her target and didn’t break away until they were both breathless.
“You’ll have to show it to me sometime.” She grinned.
“Maybe we’ll get to it at some point,” the darker agent murmured, “However, I’m thinking about a few other things I’d much rather show you first.”
Kathryn looked into Morgan’s eyes and saw a sincerity that mirrored her own. Her heart skipped a beat.
“You make me forget where I am, Agent Sumners.”
Morgan smiled, then reached down between them and brought the smaller hand up and placed it against her own chest. Kathryn could feel the heart beating wildly beneath her outstretched palm.
“In case you ever forget again,” she purred, “I believe you’re right there.”
“Going soft on me are you?”
“Yeah pathetic isn’t it?” she smiled. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Kathryn replied, certain she was drowning in the pools of crystal blue and wishing this moment could last forever. She needed this; the images of the Derek’s attack intruded on her at the most inopportune moments and she wanted to hide from them for awhile. The more time she spent in Morgan’s arms the better. She felt safe and protected there, love cascading over them both like a blanket.
The tall agent smiled, and without another word, rose from the chair and held out a hand. The younger woman took it without hesitation and allowed herself to be pulled to a standing position. She leaned against Morgan and briefly squeezed the hand that held her own. Morgan looked down at her, concern etched in her features.
“You okay, Little One?”
“Yeah, just tired is all. This is just what I needed but I suppose I shouldn’t expect to be back on track so soon, huh?” She grinned.
Morgan leaned over and gathered the young woman in her arms, scooping her up in one fluid motion as she started for the stairs.
“I swear, Agent Sumners,” Kathryn purred, “Since I’ve met you I’ve spent more time in your arms than logging any significant time walking anyplace on my own.” The green orbs twinkled.
It was a short trip down to the cabin below, and the tall agent nudged the door open gently with her foot. The cabin was large but cozy and Morgan had it decorated in soft earth tones that seemed to match perfectly and blend in with the subtle nautical theme of the boat. The porthole was just above the waterline and soft moonlight streamed in and splayed itself across the bed on which Morgan gently deposited her precious cargo.
“Hey,” Kathryn remarked, “Wow, Morg.. This is really nice.”
“I wanted it to be comfortable.”
“Oh yeah… It’s fantastic.”
Kathryn gazed out over the water as she reclined on the bed. “I can’t get over how good this makes me feel.”
She shifted her position slightly to get the pressure off her still-healing ribs and rolled onto her back. Morgan deposited her gun and holster on a small table near the bed, kicked off her shoes, and joined her companion in her admiration of the peaceful atmosphere. She pointed out the rounded window to the flickering lights of the shoreline just visible from their current position. They twinkled and sparkled like diamonds in the darkness. Kathryn grinned.
“It’s beautiful, but I’m sure glad we’re on this end of it.”
“How are you doing, Little One?” She slid up slowly behind the blond, wrapping her arms around the smaller form, and careful of her numerous injuries, pulled her back against her chest. Kathryn sighed and let her head drop onto Morgan’s shoulder. The agent leaned down and kissed the top of the golden head.
“It gets better every day.” She turned her head so she could look into her lover’s eyes. “It’s gonna be a long road back. I…sometimes I close my eyes and I can still see him, hovering over me like-” Her eyes welled up as tears threatened to steal her composure.
“No,” Morgan said, stroking the soft hair and burying her face in it. “Shh…. Let it go, honey. You’re safe here. He can’t hurt you anymore. I’ve got you.” She kissed her over and over, trying to convey a thousand emotions that she had no words for.
Kathryn swallowed hard. “Hang in there with me, my love.”
“You know it,” Morgan answered with a smile. “I’m not going anywhere. You take all the time you need. We’ll get through this, I promise.” She ran her long fingers idly through the short silky locks.
“You want to sleep on the boat tonight?”
“Yeah, love, I’d really like that.” She smiled. “Do we need to go back for anything?”
“Nope.” Morgan answered with a twinkle in the clear eyes. “I made sure the galley was stocked to the gills.” She let her face break into a wide grin at the ensuing slap of her thigh. The smaller woman giggled anyway. “That’s my girl.”
“God, I love that sound.” Morgan said as she leaned down to kiss her again.
Kathryn closed her eyes and let out a contented sigh. She reached down, slipped her fingers through Morgan’s, and lay there enjoying the first peaceful night she’d had since Derek packed her things and took her from the beach house that day. After a few moments, the soft sounds of sleep reached Morgan’s ears and she reached over the side of the bed and pulled a quilt off the chair. Adjusting her position, she placed the blanket around both of them and joined her woman in slumber.
Some time later, Morgan awoke to a gentle but insistent rocking of the boat. Years of fine-tuning her senses allowed her to be instantly awake, eyes darting around the room, sending an instantaneous assessment of the situation to her brain. The wind had picked up, but that was all. Kathryn stirred briefly and sighed sleepily before tightening her grip on the agent’s waist. Morgan squeezed back gently in acknowledgement and smiled as the blond buried her head deeper into her shoulder. Morgan adjusted her position slightly and had just closed her eyes again when she felt a small finger run up the length of her arm, stroking the fine hairs softly. The darker one grinned.
“Hey Little One.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you. How are you feeling?”
“Mmmm,” Kathryn muttered into the strong shoulder. “Would you believe hungry?”
Morgan laughed out loud. “Ladies and gentlemen, I do believe my woman is well on the road to recovery.”
Kathryn giggled. “Let’s see what you’ve got in the kitchen, tall dark and gorgeous.”
Morgan slowly disentangled herself from the embrace and got to her feet.
“Stay here, babe, I’ll fix something for you and bring it back, okay?”
“Hmmm.” Kathryn appeared to consider this. Morgan raised her eyebrow.
“Sure, go ahead. Thanks honey.”
“No problem. Be right back.” The taller form made her way across the tiny room and disappeared through the doorway. She turned on the light in the galley to reveal a well-stocked, fully functional kitchen and, chuckling, made a selection from the cupboard. A few minutes later the cabin door opened again to reveal the FBI’s finest, clad in shorts and a T-shirt and carrying a tray laden with chips, cookies, orange juice and a steaming bowl of Spaghetti-O’s. She couldn’t keep the impish grin off her face as she set the tray down on the bedside table and turned to face her companion.
“Hey, honey, wait until you see what…” Morgan’s words died in her throat as her gaze fell on her companion, lying on her side in the moonlight, completely naked. “Oh my.”
Kathryn smiled, almost shyly, and held out her hand in a silent invitation. Without another word, Morgan joined her on the bed and gathering her into her arms, kissed her deeply and passionately, letting the younger one set the pace and finding herself only mildly surprised by the intensity of her partner’s response.
Kathryn pushed her tongue further into Morgan’s mouth, eliciting a moan from the agent and answering with one of her own as their muscles dueled for space there. Kathryn sucked lightly on her lover’s tongue as Morgan nipped at the smaller lips taking control of her senses. She was on her hands and knees, suspended above Kathryn in an effort to keep weight off her healing body, but Kathryn was having none of that. She growled and pulled the taller woman down on top of her, relishing the feel of Morgan’s body on hers.
“I need you,” Kathryn whispered, taking an earlobe into her mouth and sucking before running her tongue down the length of the agent’s neck until she found the pulse point and captured the soft flesh between teeth and tongue. She felt Morgan shudder and pull her head closer, enjoying the intense sensations which seemed to run from wherever Kathryn’s body touched hers, straight to that spot between her legs now begging for attention.
Morgan suddenly found herself flat on her back, reclining against soft pillows as the small one had flipped her over and was running her hands over Morgan’s torso, the palms of her hands gently but firmly caressing her sides as her thumbs rolled over hardening nipples. Morgan’s T-shirt had been pushed up to her neck and she helped small hands pull it over her head as Kathryn placed a quick kiss on the inviting lips before lowering her head to feast on the breast before her.
Morgan groaned from someplace deep within her as her fingers wound around and gently raked through the blond locks. Kathryn continued to lavish attention on the right breast with her fingertips as her mouth moved over to the other side of the agent’s chest to take care of it’s twin.
Morgan’s hands, unable to remain idle or in one place, slid down as far as they would reach and stroked her partner’s back, sliding around and underneath until they found the softness of the smaller breasts and cupped them rhythmically in perfect time to Kathryn’s ministrations on her own body. Kathryn sighed and involuntarily rose up to give Morgan better access, feeling her body being pulled up slightly as Morgan started at her quarry’s neck and sucked and licked her way down to her breasts, pausing there to show off her oral skills before running a hot tongue down the length of the body above her. She left small wet circles on Kathryn’s abs before delving into her navel and wiggling her tongue around. Kathryn’s moans were constant now; soft whimpers of pleasure that were like music to Morgan’s ears.
“You are so beautiful,” Morgan whispered. “So very beautiful.”
She put her arms completely around the tiny body and gently rolled them over, settling herself immediately between the small thighs and placing a sweet kiss on each of them before running her tongue from Kathryn’s knee to the apex between her legs, her soft exhalation of breath cascading over the smaller woman’s center. She felt her lover’s hands in her hair and smiled, running a soft tongue slowly between the velvet folds.
“So soft,” Morgan said quietly, tasting the sweet nectar that now flowed out of the smaller woman freely. Kathryn answered with a incoherent groan, her fingers winding tighter in the raven locks as Morgan found her most intimate place and wrapped her lips around it. She licked firmly but slowly, alternating between that and sucking it into her mouth, either action producing a stream of soft pleas from the younger one.
“I love you so much,” Morgan said, raising her head briefly to gaze at her companion before resuming her task. Kathryn threw her head back and groaned as she reached the pinnacle and a groan of pleasure from Morgan sent her over. The taller one slowed her pace as the waves washed over Kathryn and the trembling hips slowed. Morgan placed a soft kiss on Kathryn’s stomach and another on her upper chest as she made her way up to the soft lips and lingered there. She murmured gentle words of love into a perfect ear before falling back onto the bed and pulling Kathryn on top of her. She kissed the top of the golden head.
“I love you.”
“Gods Morgan.” Kathryn said, raising her head to look into the bluest eyes she had ever seen. She raised her hand to the taller one’s face and traced the contours with a small finger. Morgan turned her head and kissed the palm, sucking the fingers into her mouth and winking mischievously at her lover as she watched a broad grin break out on the beautiful face. Kathryn pulled the digits out of the agent’s grasp and replaced them with her lips, sharing a sweet kiss before it deepened and rekindled the fire between Morgan’s legs.
Kathryn slid down the length of Morgan’s lean form, planting kisses everywhere at once until she reached the taller woman’s toes and, giggling, slid off the end of the short bed, pulling Morgan with her until they were both left standing on the hardwood floor.
Morgan smiled and enveloped the smaller one in a fierce hug. She stole a kiss before Kathryn pushed her gently up against the wall and reclaimed her lips in a manner that left both of them breathless, rekindling the intense passion that always seemed to pass between them.
Tongues fought for position, hands roamed everywhere at once and deep groans erupted from their throats as they attempted to mold their bodies into a single being. Morgan’s larger hands stroked Kathryn’s back and reached around to the front to cup aching breasts. Kathryn closed her eyes for a moment against the fire she felt coursing through her veins and stilled her lover’s explorations with both of her own hands.
“No, let me,” Kathryn gasped, as she blazed a fiery trail of lips, teeth and tongue from earlobe to collarbone. Morgan sighed and pulled the young woman closer as Kathryn slid her hand down the length of the perfect frame and into the abundant wetness she now found between Morgan’s legs.
The agent let out a primal growl as Kathryn’s fingers found their target and plunged in deep, coated instantly with the hot silky liquid. She withdrew them only slightly and pushed them in again, Morgan’s hips finding a tempo that Kathryn matched easily. Morgan’s fingers squeezed a rhythmical pattern on Kathryn’s back, clenching and unclenching with every thrust as her lover bit down gently and groaned into a soft shoulder.
“God Morgan, you feel so good.”
Morgan groaned a reply and leaned forward, riding the small fingers as they moved in and out. Whatever thoughts she may have been entertaining were gone, propelled into the darkness and lost forever as her entire world centered upon the loving touch in front of her. All thoughts of control went the way of the wind as Morgan surrendered heart, mind, body and soul in the next instant. Kathryn felt the release and slowed her fingers until she felt Morgan’s hand cover her own, trapping the fingers inside as the aftershocks rolled over her in waves. Her breathing slowed and she pulled the smaller one to her chest, extracting her hand only after her heartbeat had returned to normal and she had professed her love for perhaps the hundredth time that night.
“You are incredible,” Morgan purred, hooking a finger under the delicate chin and tilting it up until their eyes met. Kathryn reached up and pulled the dark head towards her own and kissed her love.
“And I’ve waited for you my entire life,” Kathryn said, a single tear escaping and making its way down her cheek. They held each other’s gaze for a long time before Morgan lay back on the bed, pulling Kathryn down on top of her and stroking the soft locks. The contentment emanating from both women was almost palpable as they fell into a sweet slumber.
Chapter 21: All Good Things
The lovers spent an idyllic two weeks sailing the eastern seaboard and getting to know one another before duty called Morgan home and the pseudo-honeymoon came to an end. Kathryn’s recovery progressed rapidly under Morgan’s watchful eye and during their time alone together the nightmares that haunted Morgan’s sleep abated.
Morgan moored the boat in her slip at the Marina and helped Kathryn load their belongings into the Land Cruiser. Their conversation was minimal and as both reflected on their time together away from the cares of daily life. Neither wanted their time to end and both resented the intrusion of the real world.
The call from Bones had jarred the agent back to reality; another casualty had turned up despite the extra cameras and additional surveillance on her house. Her housekeeper Tessa found the latest victim in Morgan’s bed.
Bones had finished the preliminary trace evidence, but turned up nothing new. Blond wig fibers were found alongside carpet fibers from a now identified 92 Volvo. Method of entry into the house was as yet undetermined. The wires to the video cameras were not cut and no signs of forced entry were found.
Morgan pulled the truck into the garage and gave Kathryn a quick kiss before sending her home. She would join her later after the crime scene was done and all the evidence gathered. Morgan hated the idea of a dead woman in her bed and they’d decided they would stay at Kathryn’s until she could buy a new one. She ran her fingers through her raven hair and let an exasperated sigh slip unheeded from her lips before walking into the house and taking over the crime scene. From the sound of things this was going to be a long night.
Bones and Gin were sitting at the bar in the kitchen drinking coffee when Morgan walked in from the garage. Grabbing a mug from the cabinet she poured a cup for herself and joined them.
“Hey guys. What have we got so far?” She wrapped her hands around the mug and looked questioningly at her comrades.
“The victim’s been dead about 6 hours. We’ve done the fingerprints, hair and tissue samples. We’ve vacuumed for trace and lit the sheet around the body up with a black light. Luminol revealed handprints on the walls and there are some obvious smears on top of the sheets. Gin ran the fingerprints through VICAP but didn’t get a match.”
“Did anyone question Tessa?”
“Gin questioned the housekeeper and sent her home.”
Morgan turned to Gin and cocked an eyebrow. “Well?”
Gin opened her notepad and flipped to the appropriate pages and read her notes to Morgan. “She said she got here at her usual time. She had straightened the downstairs and was starting the laundry when she found the woman. She said she thought the woman was you and she checked for a pulse. She claimed she didn’t find one and the victim wasn’t breathing. She looked up the number for Bones in your address book and called him. She waited on the porch until he arrived then she showed him the body and I questioned her in the living room. End of story.”
Morgan nodded her head in appreciation of a job well done before asking, “What about the pictures, has anyone taken those? Has the body been moved since she was found?”
“She hasn’t been moved yet; we were waiting for you to get here before we disturbed the scene too much. We didn’t take pictures or uncover the body; we didn’t want to move her until you had a chance to look it over.”
“How did you get fingerprints, hair and tissue samples without moving the body?”
“She has her right hand hanging off the bed and the perp didn’t cover her head with the sheet. You’ll see when you look at her.” Bones answered.
“Okay guys, let’s get started.” Morgan rinsed out her cup and followed Bones to her bedroom.
Morgan walked around the bed and observed the woman from all angles before pulling the sheet away. The body was nude and face down, her hand hanging off the bed just as Bones described. Her manicured fingernails were grazing the hardwood floors and when Morgan turned her over she found the victim sliced open as the others had been.
Gin waited for Morgan to finish the cursory examination before moving in to take pictures of the body. She had already shot two rolls of the room before Morgan got there and now waited as the sheet was pulled away before snapping the last of the frames.
Morgan carefully bagged the hands and wrapped the top sheet around the body and then pulled the bottom sheet loose and did the same with that. She helped Bones lift the woman and Gin slid the black body bag under her. They carried her downstairs and put her in the wagon; Bones would take her to the morgue and do the autopsy there. Morgan and Gin pulled the crime scene kits from the vehicle and walked back inside.
Opening her kit, Morgan pulled the roll of butcher’s paper from it and tore off long sheets of the brown paper, covering the windows and patio doors, throwing the room into blackness. Turning on the lumilight she studied every inch of the bed and floor as Gin sprayed the areas with luminol. The blacklight picked up fibers and hair and reflected them back like shards of glass. Morgan took tweezers and a plastic bag from her case before picking the hairs from the bed and floor.
As they finished up, Morgan walked Gin to the door.
“You did well today Gin; I’m proud of the way you’re handling yourself. You’ve become a real asset to the team these last few months. We’ll do that dinner I promised you real soon.”
“Thanks Sumners, that means a lot coming from you. Compliments are few and far between.”
“I know, I’m sorry about that. I’ve never been one to do a lot of talking, you know?”
“Yeah, but it’s still nice to hear you’re doing a good job, even if it’s just once in awhile.”
“I’ll work on it. See you tomorrow Gin, have a good night.”
“You too Sumners, say hi to Kathryn for me.”
Morgan sat in her office mulling over what Gin said while she waited for her desktop to boot and the descrambling program to decipher her email. She had never given much thought to whether she complimented her team or not. She always assumed they knew she thought highly of them. She’d have to let them all know they were the best and she was proud of each of them.
Morgan waded through the various emails, deleting the ones that didn’t apply to her and reading the ones that did. A letter from Bax described several emails he had received from their killer. Mostly they were reiterations of the first one he had sent. He was still using the cat and mouse address and Bax hadn’t had any luck getting a judge to order Yahoo to give them the personal information for that account.
She transcribed her notes from this case and sent it through the scrambling program to Bax. She was baffled; there was no explanation for why they hadn’t caught this guy yet. He was leaving trace everywhere and he was messy. Morgan had discovered a trail of blood from the garage into the house with the luminol and blacklight. The killer had parked his Volvo in her garage and brought the body in through the kitchen. From the looks of the trail he had dragged the woman by the feet into the house and up the stairs. He had mopped up behind himself as usual but you couldn’t hide blood from the luminol no matter how old it was or how much cleaning was done.
Morgan shut her computer down and was locking her desk when the phone rang.
“Morgan, Bones here. The autopsy’s finished. The victim was killed the same as all the others. The heart is gone and the initials are carved in the abdomen. She was poisoned and butchered alive but not at your house. She had the carpet fibers embedded in her abdomen so when we find this guy he’ll have blood in his car. Blond wig fibers were found in the wound also. She was fisted like the others. Nothing else I can tell you that you haven’t heard from the beginning. How did things go on your end?”
“Same old same old. Nothing we haven’t seen before. He dragged her in from the garage, looks like a feet first job by the tracks. Bax says he’s still getting emails from the perp but no luck on getting a precedent set. What are we overlooking on this guy, Bones? We should have had him by now.”
“I don’t know Morgan, I’ve been doing some thinking on it but I don’t have anything concrete yet. When I come up with something I’ll let you know.”
“Still not going to let me in huh? Two heads are better than one you know.”
“Yeah I know, but like I said I still don’t have anything solid yet. Give me some more time and I’ll fill you in on what I’m working on.”
“I don’t like this Bones, not even a little. You’ve always been on the up and up with me and this isn’t like you. I’ll give you as much leeway as I can but don’t push me too far.”
“I won’t, trust me on this one Morg. I’ll get back to you soon.”
“Okay, talk to you soon. Don’t forget to send your report to me and email one to Baxter as well.”
Morgan keyed the door to the office and went to her room. Throwing some clothes in a bag she looked around one last time. She let her gaze settle on the blood soaked mattress for a few minutes. ‘What a waste of human life’. Closing the door she walked downstairs and out of the house.
Opening the patio door she called for Kathryn, then saw the note propped against a glass of wine. She felt a grin take over her face as she unwrapped the box her lover had left for her. Draining the wine, she prepared for a night to remember.
Chapter 22: A Captive Audience
Morgan shifted uncomfortably in the straight-backed chair and struggled against the ropes binding her hands behind her. She heard feet shuffling in the inky blackness and strained her eyes to make out the source. Deciding by the sound that it was human she called out. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
“My, my, do you actually speak to your mother with that mouth, Agent Sumners?” A female voice came out of the darkness.
“I ask the questions, you answer them. That’s how this works.” Morgan answered agitatedly, trying to obtain the upper hand. She was already frustrated that she had allowed herself to be caught unaware and captured. Not knowing who it was or what was going on made it that much worse.
“Oh that’s rich, coming from you. I’d say you aren’t in much of a position to ask me anything right now.” The voice seemed vaguely familiar, though Morgan couldn’t say for sure where she’d heard it before.
“You don’t seem to be understanding what I’m saying. I ask a question, you answer it. Is that too hard a concept for you to grasp? I want to know what you think you’re doing.”
“Do you know who I am Ms. Sumners?” Morgan was sure she had heard the voice…somewhere. As her mind struggled with the recognition she answered in the only honest way she could.
“I don’t have a clue.”
“Oh you wouldn’t, would you? You’re too busy moving around from one place to another, waving your gun around like some feminine hybrid of James Bond. Of course, when you are home you’re too busy fucking that cute little blond bimbo of yours… Does she like it fast or slow, Agent Sumners? Huh? Do you like it when she screams your name?” The voice shot up a few octaves at the end of the inquiry, momentarily betraying the emotion it’s owner was trying not to show.
Morgan made a mental note of this but continued in her usually levelheaded manner. “I don’t think it’s any of your fucking business.”
“Oh but I could very easily make it my business, Morgan. Do you mind if I call you Morgan?”
“Yeah, as a matter of fact I do mind.” Her abductor was still blanketed in shadow and Morgan was already growing tired of the game.
“That’s too bad. Morgan is such a beautiful name. My mother used to tell me that I had the most beautiful name in the world, but I’m not too sure about that anymore. I kind of like the way yours rolls off my tongue.” Morgan could hear the woman licking her lips in an exaggerated manner and she strained to see through the dimness.
“I don’t particularly care for the way it sounds coming out of your mouth.”
“You have such a piss poor attitude for someone who’s tied up in her own basement without a weapon. Or, didn’t you notice that either?” The feminine voice took on a hint of agitated desperation.
“I don’t miss much.”
“You must be a comedian on your off days.” Her kidnapper scoffed audibly.
“On the contrary; I just don’t have time to play childish games with you. Why don’t you just get to the point?” Morgan couldn’t wait to see just what that point was. Over the years, the agent had cultivated a keen sense of awareness; she was not easily distracted from her work and although she was annoyed with the turn of events she tried to keep her temper in check. This woman was clearly driven by emotion and Morgan knew how to work around it, but if she was the killer she had done an excellent job of avoiding detection so far and the agent had to admit that had taken some amount of intelligence.
Morgan silently cursed herself again for letting her guard down while the perp was still at large. The last thing she remembered was going to Janice’s house and seeing the note from Kathryn propped against a glass of wine on the kitchen table. Another loving gesture from her partner, who had instructed her to open the box, change clothes and meet her in the bedroom. The fancy Victoria’s Secret box contained a sheer, silky, deep green negligée, which Morgan had slipped into, enjoying the feel of it against her skin as she sipped the wine. A wave of dizziness overwhelmed her and she thought about walking out on the deck for some air, but the thought never materialized into reality and when she woke again she was tied to the chair in the basement.
“For weeks, you’ve been combing the countryside, hell-bent on locking up some psychotic killing machine and yet…for all of your knowledge and fancy schmancy technology, you still managed to come home empty handed. Why do you think that is?”
Morgan was beginning to enjoy the unsettling effect that her curt answers were having on this woman. Her mind was working overtime trying to place the voice and figure out exactly where Kathryn was during all of this. She had read the note quickly, smiling in anticipation over the thought of a romantic evening with the love of her life. Morgan was certain that the message was written in her lover’s own hand; her keen senses would have picked up even the slightest variation in the script. What was bothering her most was that she didn’t know if Kathryn had been forced to write it or if it had somehow been intercepted and used against her later. If this bitch had done anything to Kathryn, Morgan would spend the rest of her days making sure she paid dearly for it. “Shit happens.”
“Oh and so eloquently put, too.”
“Wasn’t it though? The point? Do you think you can get around to that before I grow old?”
“Who says you’re gonna have that chance, Agent?”
“I do.” Morgan wasn’t one to waste words.
“That’s what I like about you, Morgan…always the optimistic one. Did you know your eyes turn kind of a grayish blue when you’re angry? Kind of like the towels you use in the spare bathroom. You do know how to accessorize.”
“You’re beginning to bore me. Want to tell me your name or can I just call you bitch?” The tall agent sighed and leaned casually backwards.
“Still don’t have a clue, do you? Pity that, I bet my name would’ve sounded wonderful at the height of passion.” She spat the last word out with exaggerated emphasis, an almost hissing noise emerging from her lips.
“So I’m to understand that you’re a sexually frustrated woman who kidnaps other women against their will, ties them up in a basement and plays word games with them?” Morgan was looking for some type of emotional reaction from this psycho but the woman merely smiled.
“Let’s just say that I’m the one person who has all of the information you need to put this case to bed.”
“Do you now?”
“Oh yes. You see, I would’ve expected much more from you, Agent Sumners. Your perp was right under your nose all this time and yet you couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Oh that’s such an old cliche, isn’t it?”
“Tends to be over used.” If the bitch was trying to get a reaction out of Morgan, she wasn’t going to allow her the satisfaction.
“Not unlike your bed.” The woman’s voice was taking on an increasing crescendo of frustration, and she had begun to pace back and forth in her dark corner of the basement, still shielded from Morgan’s immediate view.
“What would you know about that?”
“Washing your sheets several times a week is such a chore.” The woman stepped from the darkness and leaned in closer, the garlic on her breath causing Morgan to flinch away in disgust.
“Well, Tessa, if it was such a chore then why didn’t you quit? I’m sure there are plenty of women on the island who would be more than willing to wash my sheets.” Well, now she knew who it was, the why was another matter altogether. Tessa had been questioned briefly but Morgan chastised herself for not giving it more than a fleeting thought. The woman had a key to her house and knew the alarm codes, and with Morgan’s lengthy absences, would have had plenty of time to educate herself on the layout, design and any other specifics of Morgan’s house that she needed.
“Ah you do have the power of recall after all.”
“I never lost it. The wig threw me for a bit. Nothing more than that.” She stared at the cheap blond hairpiece for a moment.
“Are you always this cocky?” Tessa’s face was inches from Morgan’s and the agent had to will herself not to spit in it.
“Are you always this stupid? Do you know the penalty for kidnapping a federal agent?”
“Somehow I doubt that bumbling group of backwoods wannabe agents you’ve assembled would be competent enough to find their own mouths at dinner let alone your rotting corpse, Ms. Sumners.” She took a step back and folded her arms across her chest in a self-satisfied manner.
“I somehow doubt that a two bit housekeeper will be able to kill an agent let alone get away with it.”
“That’s quite a mouthful coming from a bitch without a weapon. Besides, I seem to have gotten away with quite a bit already.” She leaned casually against the cold cement of the basement wall and raised an eyebrow in Morgan’s direction.
“Since you seem to be so talkative, why don’t you fill me in?”
“Oh you’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
“Probably not nearly as much as you’d like to tell me. All psychopaths like to brag about their crimes.”
“Well, I do have to admit that I’m quite proud of my work. It was so much easier to do, too, once you relaxed enough to think you had wrapped everything up so nice and tidy after psycho-boy gutted your girlfriend there.” Tessa gave a self-satisfied smirk. “What’s her name again? Kathryn? She’s a cutie, Morgan, I’d keep an eye on her if I were you.”
“I’ve had enough of these ropes, mind if I take them off? No? Good.” Morgan dropped the ropes that were binding her hands onto the floor and rubbed her wrists before crossing her legs and settling into a more comfortable position in the chair. She picked at a piece of imaginary lint and smoothed the satin fabric on her thigh; she knew without looking up that she had Tessa’s attention focused on her legs. Lowering her voice to a husky whisper she tried to lull Tessa into a false sense of intimacy. “Why did you do it Tessa? What did I ever do to you to make you want to kill all those women?”
“It’s what you didn’t do, to be more accurate. And I’ve got your gun in my hand, so if you ever want to see your precious Kathryn again, you’d better keep your ass in the chair.”
“I’m not planning to go anywhere, but it would be much more effective if you held it with both hands. You’ll never get an accurate shot one handed and if you miss the first time I’m afraid you won’t live to regret it.” Morgan purred before glancing up at her tormentor, waiting for the next move.
“They were so beautiful, Morgan, just like you. But they weren’t you.” Tessa caressed the side of Morgan’s face briefly with the barrel of the gun before stepping back again. “Oh they struggled a little bit, but once the drugs started taking effect they did anything I asked them to. They were like putty in my hands, really.”
“It was so easy to control them, too easy really. But I had their undivided attention at all times, suddenly I was no longer a faceless, nameless being…they all knew my name and they used it over and over when they begged for their lives… then the drugs kicked in, but even when they could no longer speak I could see it in their eyes…the pleading. You noticed that too, when you saw the bodies, didn’t you? You noticed everything…every detail, all of my handiwork. You scrutinized it and studied it and marveled at how I could have done it… and suddenly I had your undivided attention.” She looked pleased with herself.
“Why Tessa? Why did you do it?”
“It was for you, it was always for you Morgan.”
“I hear that in my dreams…but how…? How could you know that?”
“I’m flattered that you hear me in your dreams, it’s just such a pity that you never noticed me when you were awake.” Tessa circled behind the seated agent and ran her fingers through the silky black tresses briefly before moving to stand in front of Morgan once again.
“I never saw you Tessa; you were never around when I was home.” Tessa appeared not to hear.
“I loved you from the first moment I saw you, you were so beautiful and so strong. I did everything I could think of to get your attention but you never said a word, you never even thanked me, you just sent a check in the mail. You didn’t even say hello to me, Morgan, for Gods sake you could have at least given me that courtesy.”
“How was I to know that you were doing anything any differently for me than you did for all your employers? For all I knew you were just doing your job.” The woman did this for love? Morgan fought down the bile rising in her throat as she thought of the innocent lives that had been taken because of it.
“That’s just it, you didn’t notice a thing. I bet you never even thought about the fact that you had fresh flowers in every room or that I bathed your dog every week. Yesterday morning I even came two hours earlier than normal so you’d have homemade bread for your breakfast.” She laughed ruefully. “The ironic thing is that your little girlfriend there…she noticed. She’s the only one who ever took the time to say hello and goodbye and thank you. It’s a shame really, that I have to use her to get your attention…she’s been through so much already, the poor dear.”
“It’s painfully obvious that you’re trying to use Kathryn to bait me, so if you have something to say about her why don’t you just say it? If it’s just another of your games then drop it, I don’t want to play.”
Tessa reached into a pocket and pulled out a simple gold chain, Morgan instantly recognized it as the one Kathryn almost always wore around her right ankle.
“As I said, my dear agent, if you ever want to see your beloved again, you’ll cooperate.”
“And what is it you expect me to cooperate with, Tessa?”
“I’ve come to realize that no matter what I do, no matter how admirably I work to get your attention, you simply choose not to return my affections. But I will have you, one way, or the other. I can’t seem to get you out of my mind, my dear, and so…” Tessa waved the gun in Morgan’s direction.
“I want just one night with you, one glorious time. For an evening I want to be the woman in your bed, the one that makes you dizzy with passion, the one you surrender to.” She smiled, revealing a row of uneven but gleaming white teeth. “If the little bitch wants to watch me pleasure her woman, I’m sure that could be arranged.”
“And if I don’t agree?”
“Oh you’ll agree,” Tessa replied, cocking the pistol. “Because if I can’t have you for one night, nobody else will have you either. Ever.”
“Have it your way, but what will it accomplish? You have one night with me and then the rest of your life in jail, what kind of a bargain is that?” Morgan shifted in the chair.
“Oh I won’t be going to jail, Agent Sumners. I’ll be going from your bedroom to the airport. I already have a one-way flight arranged. You don’t need to know where. I’ll be gone, the killings will stop; that’s what everybody wants, isn’t it? I could have left already and nobody would have even noticed. There’s some humor in that, don’t you think? You knock yourself out trying to find your killer and she’s got a key to your house.” Tessa laughed maniacally.
“I don’t find anything humorous in killing innocent women just because they resemble me. I don’t find anything humorous in kidnapping. I don’t find anything humorous in using Kathryn as emotional blackmail so you can have a fantasy fulfilled. If you want a night with me then so be it, but you’ll never get on that plane and if you’ve done one thing to harm Kathryn I sincerely hope you enjoy your last day on earth.”
Tessa waggled the gun for effect. “This lovely piece of steel says I’ll be getting on the plane, Morgan, and if it’s not enough to convince you, there’s a little blond insurance policy that I’ll be more than happy to cash in on.”
“That’s assuming that I believe you have Kathryn. An ankle bracelet means nothing to me; you could have bought one like hers, or you could have stolen hers from the bathroom while she was showering. I think I’ll just wait for more proof if you don’t mind.”
Tessa scowled and then sighed. “Ah, well, isn’t that just like a Fed, always needing a little concrete evidence. So what will it take to convince you?” She reached into the same pocket, this time extracting Kathryn’s driver’s license and a battered photograph of a mother and child. “This, perhaps?”
“Still not anything you couldn’t have stolen from her. The only thing those prove is that you’ve been through her purse. If you have her somewhere then let me talk to her, otherwise let’s play your little charade and get it over with.” The disgust in Morgan’s gaze was unmistakable.
“Perhaps I’m tired of idle chit-chat anyway.” Tessa assumed a bored expression, then narrowed her eyes dangerously, and motioned for Morgan to stand up. “Get up, put your hands on your head and walk up the stairs slowly. Remember I have the gun. If I see your hands leave your head I’ll pull the trigger without a second thought.”
Morgan linked her fingers loosely behind her head and walked up the stairs. She paused at the top and turned to face her abductor. “Where to now, Tessa?”
“The bedroom, of course. And don’t try any of your fancy moves, either. My insurance policy is resting comfortably in the chair by the bed. A front row seat, if you will.” She laughed.
Morgan strode up the stairs towards her bedroom, her mind churning with thoughts of capturing Tessa, and how she would accomplish that without harming herself or Kathryn in the process. “Have you informed Kathryn of your little plan? Does she know that you intend to force me to fuck you against my will? Did she thank you for that too?”
Tessa ignored the jab as they entered the room and she closed the door behind them, watching Morgan’s face as she noticed Kathryn tied securely to the chair with a rope. The little blond looked at her lover with a mixture of relief and frustration as she struggled against her bonds. A pair of lace panties were stuffed in her mouth and she was muttering a stream of curses into them. Morgan managed a quick grin at the tenacity of her woman and winked in her direction. Kathryn’s purse was lying in the middle of the floor, it’s contents strewn in all directions. Morgan noticed with some amusement that there were three candy bars and a package of peanut butter crackers in with the other things. Tessa motioned for Morgan to sit on the bed.
Morgan sat on the edge of the mattress, facing Kathryn, and leaned toward the struggling blond, removing the panties from her mouth.
“Are you okay Little One?” Morgan asked, caressing the side of her lovers’ face.
“I’m fine Angel, she didn’t hurt me.” Kathryn leaned briefly into the caress before Tessa moved between them and motioned at Morgan.
“Scoot back against the headboard Agent Sumners.” As Morgan complied, Tessa bound her hands to the bedposts. “Sorry about the ropes, but I don’t have much of a choice in the matter.”
“Whatever. Why don’t you just cut the commentary and get on with it? What do you want me to do now?”
Tessa settled herself between Morgan’s legs and rested the cold steel of the gun against the side of her head. She kept her eyes locked on Morgan’s blue ones as she slowly ran her hands over the satiny fabric that clung to the agent’s breasts. Kathryn’s eyes grew wide and she glared at the housekeeper. “Hey!”
Tessa glanced at Kathryn for a minute before turning back to Morgan. “Shut up you little twit; watch and learn.”
Morgan stared at the ceiling, her gaze fixed on one spot, and eyes never wavering as Tessa laid the gun on the bed and leaned down, licking a trail from her knee to the apex of her thighs. Tessa slid her hands along the sides of Morgan’s full breasts and roughly flicked her thumbs across the nipples, pleased as they hardened in response.
Morgan’s eyes closed as a grimace of disgust crossed her face. Kathryn’s brow furrowed in concern at what Morgan must be going through. She knew deep in her heart that if it weren’t for her Morgan would have killed Tessa already or been killed by her. She knew she could make this easier on her lover and determined to do just that.
“Morgan?” Morgan heard her lover but couldn’t bring herself to open her eyes.
“Morgan, look at me Angel.” Kathryn whispered.
Morgan turned toward Kathryn and fell into the emerald pools beckoning to her, willing her body not to respond to the sensations Tessa was causing.
“I know why you’re doing this Angel, it’s okay. Look at me; think of me. We will get through this, I promise.”
Morgan stared at Kathryn, their eyes connecting as Morgan let her mind drift away to the last time she’d touched her lover. She felt Kathryn’s hands on her body and Kathryn’s lips on hers. In her mind Tessa became Kathryn and she endured the touches a little easier than before.
Morgan was staring intently at Kathryn and Tessa was concentrating so thoroughly on touching her fantasy that neither heard the door slowly opening.
Chapter 23: Just When I Needed You Most
“Don’t move.” A steady, deep male voice spoke slowly as the door swung the rest of the way open and Bones trained his weapon on the housekeeper. Tessa was startled by the sudden invasion but her own gun was still pressed firmly against the side of Morgan’s head and Kathryn’s eyes widened in fear as she heard the calculated click of the Glock 9mm being cocked.
Morgan glanced briefly at Kathryn, trying to convey with her eyes what she didn’t dare say out loud. She doubted the mental stability of the housekeeper at the moment and she understood all too well that reason often went the way of the wind when emotions were involved. Her eyes darted from Tessa to Bones as they waged their own war for dominance in the still hours of the pre-dawn. How he had managed to end up in her bedroom in the middle of the night with his gun drawn was a mystery; Morgan had noticed the lights of the alarm when she was coming up from the basement. Tessa had obviously activated it so they would not be disturbed and she knew Bones wasn’t privy to the code.
Tessa’s countenance had changed from uncertain to something resembling a calculated calm and her blue eyes narrowed dangerously as the pupils darkened and her expression turned cold. She could see the man’s shadow on the wall but she didn’t turn around to look at him. She spoke in even tones but never took her eyes off of Morgan.
“I’ll keep it simple, so you federal boys don’t have to think too much,” Tessa said slowly. “Close the door, throw your gun out the window and take your clothes off. If you’re harboring any other weapons I suggest that they join your gun on the lawn. When you’re finished, sit down next to the little bitch in the chair and don’t make another sound.” She stared hard into Morgan’s eyes. “Don’t think, even for a second, that I won’t blow her head off if you don’t follow directions.”
Kathryn looked from Tessa to Bones but said nothing. She knew that he wouldn’t risk Morgan’s life but he hadn’t put his gun down either and his mind was working overtime. He trained his gaze on Tessa’s trigger finger and spoke softly.
“How do I know you’re not going to kill her anyway?” It was a lame stall and he knew it, but he had nothing else to offer at the moment.
“You don’t.” Tessa said simply. “But I doubt you’re willing to take the risk.” She pushed the barrel of the gun into Morgan’s temple, and smiled as the agent flinched at the cold steel cutting into her scalp. “Now lose the gun.”
Bones tossed the gun out the window next to the bed and paused briefly before slowly removing his shoes and socks. He stripped off his shirt and trousers, revealing a snub nosed 38 tucked into his belt. His mind worked feverishly to formulate a way he could take out the housekeeper with the hidden gun but he had no doubts that she would take Morgan down with her. He reluctantly released it into the night, hearing a faint rustling as it landed in the bushes far below the upstairs window.
Bones made his way over to Kathryn and put his hand on her shoulder.
“All of it.” Tessa said from her position on the bed.
Kathryn blushed as Bones’ boxers joined the pile of clothes on the floor.
Morgan’s brain was running at warp speed; she knew the psychological implications of what Tessa had just done to Bones; in her years of study she understood the mental vulnerability of being naked and it was just another thing Tessa had in her favor. The housekeeper glanced briefly out into the night; she knew that if she jumped out the window it was at least a 15-foot drop to the lawn but that the bushes would somewhat break her fall. She had not counted on any intrusions; she had set all of the internal and perimeter alarms and the only other person that knew the code was tied up in the chair.
Tessa slid her body off of Morgan, never taking the gun from her temple, and stood next to the bed near the window. She motioned for Bones to come over and tie the agent’s legs together at the knees while she contemplated her next move. With Morgan and Kathryn subdued, and a naked, unarmed man the only other threat to her freedom, she felt her confidence rising. Bones looked apologetically at the taller woman as he bound her with the rope under Tessa’s watchful eye. She pulled at the thick bonds to make sure he hadn’t done anything to give Morgan an advantage and, satisfied, indicated that he should lie face down on the floor.
“Now then,” Tessa began, her speech cut short as the lights went out in the room, and the entire property was shadowed in darkness.
“What the hell?” Morgan and Tessa spoke simultaneously and the housekeeper moved closer to the agent. “If this is one of your tricks, Agent Sumners, you won’t live long enough to see it through.”
“It’s probably just a power outage,” Morgan offered. “You know as well as I do that we’ve had a problem with that all week long. Last weekend’s storm….”
“Shut up!” Tessa hissed in Morgan’s ear. “I can see the lights of your alarm system from here.” She turned and pointed out the window at the flashing yellow and green box attached to the metal building a few yards down the beach. “So don’t try to tell me-.”
Tessa gasped as she was catapulted forward onto the bed. She clutched the gun in her hand as if it was molded to her fingers as she wrestled with the lithe intruder who had come in through the window. Morgan watched in stunned silence as they rolled around the end of the bed and onto the floor, where Bones had joined the fray and was attempting to dislodge the weapon from the housekeeper’s hand.
Kathryn knew the gun was loaded and cocked and she followed the action as best she could in the dark.
“Morgan…” She yelled above the din.
“Hang in there baby,” The agent answered.
“Who the hell is that?”
“I have no idea.”
The sound of the gun discharging into the ceiling was followed by a strangled cry as a naked Bones and the new intruder landed on top of the housekeeper simultaneously. Her head hit the wall with an audible thump and she went limp. The lights in the house flickered once, came on briefly, and then went off again. Morgan noted with some relief that the gray light of early dawn was beginning to appear outside and she suddenly felt like a pawn in a real-life game of Clue.
“Bones,” Morgan said, struggling against her bonds. “Bones, could you get your naked ass over here and cut me loose?” Morgan watched as he retrieved his boxers from the floor and put them on.
“Scooby Doo?” Kathryn giggled, and Morgan had to smile.
“Keep it up, you two, and I’ll leave you there until the paperwork is done.”
“They are kind of cute, though,” came a female voice as a familiar figure stepped out of the shadows.
“MEGAN!” Morgan and Kathryn exclaimed in unison.
Megan grinned and began to cut the ropes binding her ex-lover to the bed. “My, my, Tigger, what’s going on here?” She teased. “I mean, if you’re both tied up…” She looked at Kathryn who was blushing a beautiful shade of pink and then trained her gaze on the half-dressed man. “And you, Bones, I would’ve figured you for Superman, maybe Batman, but Scooby Doo?” She grinned and helped Morgan with the last of Kathryn’s ropes. The blond pushed Morgan’s hair away from her scalp to reveal an ugly, swelling bruise.
“You okay Angel?”
“I’m fine Little One,” Morgan answered, giving Kathryn a quick kiss on the top of her head. She looked incredulously at Megan.
“Megan, what the hell just happened here? ” She moved over to hug her friend. “I owe you, Meg, big time. But how…what?”
“Let me see that.” Megan said pushing the hair away from Morgan’s face and examining the laceration. “Figures. You wrestle a gun wielding maniac in the dark and all you get is a scratch.” Megan tousled Morgan’s hair and moved away as Kathryn slid her arms around her lovers’ waist.
A fully clothed Bones joined them. He had already dispatched a team to come and pick up the housekeeper. “So Morgan, I guess I can let you in on my theory now… the butler did it.”
“Very funny, big guy. You should have been a comedian.”
“Naw I’ll leave that to you. You’ll knock’em dead I’m sure.”
Collective groans were heard throughout the room but one in particular caught Morgan’s attention. Tessa had begun to stir. Morgan reached inside her bedside table and pulled a set of handcuffs from the drawer. Kathryn’s raised eyebrow was answered by a smirk that dared her to ask.
Morgan cuffed the almost lucid housekeeper and rolled her over on her back. “Contessa Trumbull, you’re under arrest for murder, kidnapping, assault on a federal agent and anything else I can come up with. You have the right to remain silent and I would suggest you take that right. Anything you say I’m going to use against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney, if you can find one lower on the food chain than you are. If you can’t afford an attorney my heart bleeds for you. Do you understand these rights as they’ve been read to you, or do I need to write them in really big crayon?”
“Listen here you bitch,” Tessa hissed.
Morgan sat on the edge of the bed and crossed one foot over the other, leaning back on her elbows. “I can hardly wait to hear this. Should I get a notepad just in case something intelligent comes out?”
The irate housekeeper struggled against her bonds and lunged in Morgan’s direction as the agent put her foot on the woman’s chest and pushed her back onto the floor. “I did it for you, can’t you understand that?” The woman’s tone was almost pleading now and took on a hint of desperation.
“If you wanted my attention you could have found other ways of getting it.”
Tessa laughed ruefully. “Yeah, right, like you would have noticed anyone like me.” She looked up into the blue eyes. “But I did get your attention now, didn’t I, Agent Sumners?”
“Yeah Tessa, you got it.” Morgan shook her head and went to the closet, where she pulled a pair of jeans and a shirt from the rod. She dressed hurriedly as the footsteps on the stairs got closer. Megan ushered the police officers, closely followed by Walt, into the room and waited as Tessa was led from the house.
Morgan seated the tired group in her office and put a pot of coffee on to brew. Walt was there to take everyone’s statement, and once the drinks had been dispensed Morgan took her seat behind the large desk, pulling Kathryn into her lap and settling in for the long procedure.
“Who wants to go first?” Walt asked, opening his laptop.
“I think Bones should.” Morgan answered, “After all, he had this figured out before any of us and I want to know how he did it.”
Bones grinned and ran his fingers through his thinning hair. “Okay, let’s start at the beginning. I thought it had to be a woman because of the fisting. A man would have caused excessive tearing and since there wasn’t any it had to either be a man with very tiny hands or a woman. Then there were the alarms. The only wires cut were the ones to the lab. That led me to believe it was Tessa. She would have the code to the house and therefore not need to cut any of those wires. She wouldn’t have any reason to be in the lab, though. She knew Morgan’s schedule and knew when it would be safe in the house. She wouldn’t raise suspicion because she came weekly. I thought for awhile that it might be Megan. No offense,” He said, glancing at Megan, “Because she would have the alarm codes as well. I had a team watching her, but she was always accounted for when the murders took place. That left the housekeeper.”
“Tonight I came back after the autopsy and saw Tessa carrying Morgan across the beach from Kathryn’s house to hers. I called Megan at the hospital and waited for her to get here and disable the alarms. We hid in the livingroom and assessed the situation before we decided what our next course of action would be. Tessa led Morgan from the basement at gunpoint and we weren’t sure if she would shoot her or not. Megan listened at the door to Morgan’s bedroom while I called the police and came back to update me on the situation. We thought it would be best if I rushed the door. She waited a few minutes in the hall and when things went awry she had the police cut the lights while she jumped through the window. There was a brief struggle and Tessa was knocked unconscious. Morgan handcuffed her and read her her rights then the boys in blue took her away.”
Walt nodded his head as he typed in the last of Bones’ statement and looked at Morgan. “Who’s next?”
Morgan repeated verbatim the conversation she had with Tessa in the basement and later in the bedroom. Kathryn’s statement followed and Megan wrapped it up. Walt asked them to come in the following day and sign their respective statements and he and Bones left for the night.
Morgan locked up the house and followed Megan and Kathryn next door for some much needed sleep.
Megan settled in the room she had occupied during Kathryn’s recovery. Kathryn and Morgan went to the master bedroom and sat talking until the sun broke through the window before they curled around one another and fell into a dreamless sleep.
Epilogue: The End is Just the Beginning
For Kathryn and Morgan the next five months flew by in a blur. Winter had come and gone, and a delighted Kathryn watched the first snow of the season fall. She had never seen snow before and Morgan enjoyed watching her lover act like the child she was sure she had never been. Christmas had been a day of many firsts when Henry showed up on their doorstep, arms laden with gifts for both of them. He had come to love Morgan as a daughter.
Kathryn and Morgan were walking hand in hand on the beach as they had every night for the past month. Kathryn was close to her due date and growing bigger by the day. The full moon reflecting off the Atlantic lit their path and the March night air still held a hint of wintertime. Kathryn snuggled into Morgan’s shoulder as the agent wrapped her arm tighter around her lover.
“So when do you want to get married, Little One?” Morgan asked, placing a kiss against the blond head.
“How about June?” Kathryn gazed questioningly up into the pools of blue staring down at her.
“Why wait until then?”
“It’s our one year anniversary and maybe the baby will be settled in enough for us to take a honeymoon.”
“You want to take her along?”
“Nope, it will be a girl. She’ll have her mother’s golden hair and emerald eyes.”
“I’m holding out for a boy, Angel. I know in my heart we’ll have a son.”
“Either way we’ll find out soon enough.”
Morgan paused and drew Kathryn into her arms, feeling the swelling belly pressed against her stomach and thighs and gently cupped the face turned up at her, placing the softest of kisses against lips even softer. “Do you know how very much I love you Little One?”
Kathryn leaned against Morgan’s chest, hearing the steady beat of a heart in perfect sync with her own. “More than there are stars in the heavens, and for all of time, but only half as much as I love you.”
“You know we could debate this until the stars fall from the sky and the closest we would ever come to a resolution is a stalemate, Little One.”
“Could we put off the debate a little longer, my Angel?” Kathryn asked, wrapping an arm around her swollen belly.
“Why? I thought you enjoyed our little debates.” Morgan said, laying her cheek against the blond head.
“Because my love, it’s time.”
Continued in Swimming for Shore