Cut and run, p.8

Cut & Run, page 8

 part  #1 of  Cut & Run Series


Cut & Run

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Page 8


  Hell, Zane had lived it before.

  “Does it matter?”

  Zane lowered his fork and looked across the table, eyes focusing on something over Ty’s shoulder. “I didn’t use to think so,” he admitted.

  Ty watched him with one expressive eyebrow raised. “And?” he invited with a wave of his hand.

  Dark eyes refocused and zeroed in on Ty’s face. “The threat of castration, unemployment, and hard jail time made me rethink things,” Zane supplied.

  “Yeah, well, hang out with hookers and you get into some kinky shit,” Ty offered with a straight face.

  The corners of Zane’s mouth turned up slightly. “Everyone has their hobbies,” he replied smoothly.

  “Whatever floats your boat, man,” Ty shrugged dismissively, obviously having lost interest in the conversation.

  Zane went back to finishing his dinner. Ty wasn’t just good at figuring out games, he was good at playing them. It was tiring trying to keep up with his banter, but it was also almost fun. Zane was reminded that this

  “partnership” might not last so long, and now he couldn’t decide if he felt ambivalent about it, or worse, disappointed. There was the slight possibility that they could have been a formidable team. But it was clear that Ty’s obvious disdain wouldn’t allow that to happen.

  They ate in silence for a while, and as soon as he was done with his dinner, Ty wiped his hands on the linen napkin and nodded at Zane. “So, tell me about the case,” he said without preamble.

  The other agent’s brain snapped back to its gathered data without further prompting. “Eight murders, different locations, nothing to tie them together. No pattern of victim choice, cause of death, time of death, or other establishable MO. Just the tokens left at the scenes, none of them the same.

  He’s taunting us,” Zane rattled off, pushing his empty plate away.

  Ty closed his eyes and nodded impatiently. “Does anything ring any bells?” he asked pointedly.

  Zane slowly stirred his tea, eyes distant as he reviewed lists and lists of details in his head. “I don’t have anything concrete, but the state of the victims really catches my interest. He’s being creative. That’s unusual. ”

  “Aside from the tokens, the dye job is what’s getting me,” Ty returned with a nod. “I feel like I should know why he did it. Why dye a natural blonde jet-black, then take her dark-haired roommate and bleach her blonde?”

  “Could be he was trying to switch them before he killed them, but they weren’t raped,” Zane said. “I’ll have to give it some thought. Chew on the details. ”

  “That’s what you’re doing now, genius,” Ty huffed.

  “No, right now I’m just tossing stuff out. Working the details requires more concentration and less distraction. ” Zane looked at him significantly.

  Ty rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair. “You wanted to work together,” he reminded.

  “When did I say that?” Zane asked quietly.

  “It’s in the silent pleading in your eyes,” Ty answered sarcastically.

  “What’s it going to be, Grady?” Zane asked, feeling very tired.

  “Decide now, so we can get to work. Together or not?”

  Ty looked at him thoughtfully and then smiled slowly. “Well, I’m quite enjoying you so far,” he answered.

  Zane studied that smile for a long moment before scooting his chair back. “Ready to go?”

  Ty reached for the empty bottle of Guinness and the flat Bud Light and tucked them under his jacket. “Ready,” he said cheerfully.

  Frowning at the concealed beer, Zane stood and flipped a large bill from his wallet onto the table. He figured the rest of the night would be interesting. Ty was enjoying him so far. Well, whoop-dee-doo.

  As soon as they hit the street, Ty extracted the beer and reached out and took hold of Zane’s elbow, pulling him to a halt. The taller man stopped and looked back at him, eyebrow raised in question. Ty raised the full bottle and sloshed the beer around, the scent wafting on the cool night breeze.

  Zane blinked, and then he raised his chin sharply. “Hell, no. ”

  “You do it or I will,” Ty told him matter-of-factly.

  Zane’s lips pressed together firmly on the simmering anger. There was no doubt in his mind that Ty would follow through. “Asshole,” he muttered, snatching the bottle from Ty’s hand. He knew why Ty wanted this; if they looked like cops they wouldn’t get close enough to ask a question. But that didn’t mean he liked it one little bit. Pouring the beer messily out into his left hand, he smeared the liquid on his shirt and throat, and up under his chin, like where a drunk would have dregs trailing. Wiping his hand off on his jeans, he stalked over to the nearest bin and threw the bottle into it so hard it shattered as it hit bottom. “Let’s go. ”

  Ty would never let the man know it, but the sacrifice earned him just a little bit of respect. He nodded and fell in beside Zane, beginning to whistle as he walked. As they got closer to the working girls, he began to sing softly, the words slightly slurred and off-key as he swung his empty beer bottle happily at his side.

  After the fifth street corner, Zane and Ty found a girl who knew the second victim. It took a couple of C-notes to get her to talk in the alley where she usually worked, and they came out with nothing more than finding out that the victim had been from Oklahoma and had run from her abusive husband.

  “Any reason she’d have some expensive sheets at home?” Ty asked the girl as she glanced around nervously.

  “She ain’t made the money to buy things like that,” the girl answered as she kicked her platform heel against the pavement. “She ain’t nearly made the money to feed herself,” she added with a shrug.

  Ty just nodded and looked her over carefully. She looked back at him defiantly, seeming to think he was contemplating taking her up on her services after all. Instead, he reached into his back pocket and took out three more bills and handed them to her. “Buy yourself a couple days off, huh?

  Safer,” he grunted as he turned around and began making his way back down the alleyway.

  Zane turned silently away as the girl stared at the money in her hands.

  Stalking after Ty, he lit a cigarette and pulled the collar up on his jacket as the wind picked up. It just made him crankier, blowing the stale smell of the beer off his shirt into his face.

  He nearly ran into Ty, who was standing and watching a couple walk slowly down the sidewalk, scowling impressively as they neared him.

  “Looking for a date, sugar?” the woman asked Ty. The man with her snorted and shook his head, looking away and sighing.

  “You look a little too official to be throwing out hooks,” Ty responded wryly. The woman smirked and nodded, tossing her blonde hair over her shoulder. “They tailed us,” Ty muttered as he turned to Zane and sneered.

  Zane grimaced, his mood going even further south with yet more trampling on his nerves. He should have known the Bureau would go looking for them when they didn’t show up at their prearranged hotel room. Annoyed, he turned to the side, watching the area around them, leaving Ty to talk to the newcomers.

  “Special Agent Marian Sears,” the woman introduced herself, showing her badge to them. Ty reached out and snagged it quickly, taking the woman’s arm and none too gently escorting her away from the alley. “And that’s Special Agent Gary Ross,” the woman continued, unfazed by the rude and slightly violent handling.

  “Do you have any concept of how much you stand out?” Ty asked the woman conversationally, not even acknowledging the introductions. “Or how very much I hate you both already?”

  “My feelings are hurt, they really are," Ross muttered as he followed along.

  Sears extricated herself from Ty’s grip and stopped, turning to face him. “We understand the need for secrecy in certain circumstances, Special Agent Grady,” she said in clipped tones. “But when the new detail
on a case that just lost two agents to a serial killer doesn’t show up when and where they’re supposed to, we tend to get concerned. ”

  “Next time I’ll have Momma write a note,” Ty drawled. She narrowed her eyes at him.

  “You two are outside orders,” Ross sneered in response to their rude welcome.

  “Your assignment does not include going undercover amongst the working girls,” Sears added.

  “If you’re even working the case out here,” Ross muttered as he looked down the alley and shook his head in disgust.

  Sears looked at her partner in apparent disapproval. Ross shrugged at her and then looked past Ty to glower at Zane.

  “Public drunkenness, huh?” Ross snapped at him. “I can smell the beer on you from here. ”

  “So arrest me,” Zane growled.

  “Wiseass,” Ross grumbled.

  “We’re working this case beside you, not under you,” Ty snarled to them both, losing the good-humored glint in his eyes as he interrupted the sniping. “Don’t go tailing us when you’ve got more important shit to do. You want us, you fucking call us on the phone. ”

  “Got a card?” Sears asked with a little smile, still completely unintimidated.

  Ty’s lips twitched in slight amusement again, and he reached out and took her hand. He reached under his jacket with the other, finding a pen in one of the inner pockets as Ross bristled angrily. Ty ignored him and held the woman’s hand in his, writing a number on the palm of her hand and then sliding the pen back into place slowly without releasing her.

  She smirked at him, looking him over in amusement and just a hint of interest, before she slid her hand out of his and took her partner’s arm to pull him physically away as Ty smirked after them.

  Zane took the few steps to stop beside Ty and watched them go, simmering. “They’re going to be trouble,” he muttered.

  “No, they’re not,” Ty grinned as he watched them walk away. Ross’s hand now gripped Sears’ elbow rather than the other way around, preventing her from looking over her shoulder at them as he griped about sexual harassment. “They don’t think much of us, which is just how we want it.

  They’ll want to work this case on their own, keep us out of the loop. Plus, see how possessive he is? He won’t let her near us again,” Ty chuckled darkly as he cocked his head to admire the sway of her hips.

  Zane looked after her. “He won’t, huh? What did you do? Cop a feel?”

  “Might need me a Sears catalog when we get home,” Ty drawled out with a sly smile.

  “Bastard,” Zane murmured. He dropped the cigarette butt to the concrete and ground it out under his heel.

  Ty sighed and looked around at the empty street corners. “Looks like our quarry has gone to ground. ” He growled in annoyance, beginning to walk slowly in the direction from which they’d come. “Did you happen to look at the report on that sheet the body was wrapped in?”

  “Bleached Egyptian cotton, six hundred-count king-size flat sheet, only sold at two places in New York; Bloomingdale’s and Henri Bendel.

  Retail cost four hundred-fifty dollars. No catches, no pulls, no tears, no stains besides blood, still smelled like plastic, thought to be fresh out of the package,” Zane rattled off as he lit up another cigarette.

  “Did anyone follow that up?” Ty asked before they crossed the street at a jog.

  “I’ll call Morrison and ask him to have someone call the stores. All the report says is that neither had them in stock for a five-day span around the discovery of the body. Bendel’s had a linen sale the weekend before,” he said.

  “I’m sure they were flying off the shelves. ”

  “Great,” Ty groaned. “We’ll go by tomorrow and talk to whoever.

  What else? Were the sheets changed with the two dye girls? Was it in the report?”

  “Nothing in the report said they were. ”

  “Goddammit,” Ty muttered. There had to be a connecting factor.

  “We’ll find the damn thing,” he muttered to himself.

  Zane stopped for traffic, working his way through the cigarette. “I still want to go back to the office. ”

  Ty exhaled heavily. “Do you understand what we were doing tonight?” he asked softly.

  Zane looked at him, not sure if he should be offended, but still irritated merely on principle. Ty looked over at him and raised a questioning eyebrow. “Enlighten me,” Zane invited tightly.

  “If it’s an insider that got Reilly and Sanchez, then he may already be tailing us,” Ty explained quietly. “I wanted to see if I could spot anyone. ”

  “You’re using yourself as bait?” Zane asked disbelievingly.

  “Are you getting hysterical?” Ty asked eagerly. “Can I smack you?”

  Zane merely sighed and looked away before he could give an acerbic response.

  Ty grunted in mock disappointment. “Anyway, if you do go back to Federal Plaza, make sure you’re not alone, and keep an eye on your six. I’m crashing,” he admitted.

  “I can take care of myself,” Zane said curtly. He ground his teeth as Ty snorted, and they each loped across the street to come to the front of their hotel. “I usually get going about seven in the morning,” Zane told Ty. “You?”

  “Nights,” Ty grunted as he headed toward the lobby doors. “I’ve been working nights. I’m on hour thirty-something trying to right them, so I really couldn’t say. ”

  Zane nodded, stubbing out the cigarette on the brick wall outside the doors and tossing it in an ashtray sitting outside the doors. “Just come bang on the door when you’re ready in the morning. I’ve got plenty to keep me busy. ”
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