If looks could kill, p.15

If Looks Could Kill, page 15

 

If Looks Could Kill
 


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  “Good idea!” someone called.

  “And if that’s not possible, the main thing here is to be smart, be careful and don’t make yourself vulnerable.”

  There were more questions, coming faster and faster, like bullets themselves.

  Kyle answered tersely, especially when he was asked why he was at the home of Madison Adair, daughter of the slain movie star, Lainie Adair, his onetime stepsister.

  “In fact, sir, didn’t you just break into her house?”

  “Were you arrested and handcuffed?”

  Kyle fielded the questions well, ignoring what he chose to ignore and replying that—naturally—any man was concerned about the young women in his family under these circumstances. Yes, he admitted, he had been worried about his stepsister, but he had since been advised that Madison Adair was fine and away working on a fashion shoot.

  Madison noticed that he didn’t say where.

  When he excused himself and walked away from the interview, the camera focused on the pretty newswoman who had hit him with the most questions. She had done her homework well. She rehashed Lainie’s murder and “scandalous” life, then brought up Madison’s work, her resemblance to her mother and her occasional involvement with the police. By the time the newscast was finished, Madison wanted to sink into the floor.

  At the same time, she felt like an absolute ingrate, certain that the news hadn’t managed to capture the entire event. Kyle had nearly been arrested for breaking into her house, all because he had been worried.

  About her.

  She looked back at Kyle, who shrugged irritably. “At least they missed the fact that I was nearly shot as an intruder before I had a chance to flash my ID.”

  “Thanks for worrying,” she murmured. “And I’m sorry. I guess, under the circumstances, I should have called Jassy or Dad before taking off, as well as Darryl.” She sighed with weary exasperation. “That damned newswoman! She didn’t miss any of my life. We got to go through my mother’s death all over again.”

  “Ah, child!” Michelle commiserated.

  “They showed your house—right on television. Can’t you sue them for that or something?” Sheila asked.

  “I don’t think so,” Madison murmured. “I don’t think it matters, anyway. Where I live has never been a big secret.”

  Kyle was staring at her. He wasn’t pleased. From his look, she knew he was thinking that it probably hadn’t mattered before if her address was publicly known.

  But it did now.

  “Well,” Michelle said, “this killer will have to think twice now. With such a warning out, surely young women will be very careful.”

  Kyle shook his head very slowly. “If only that were true. If only they all understood the point. This man is extremely clever—and charming. Most rational people feel that such violent murders must be the work of a madman. They’re sure they would recognize such a man, that he must look like a monster, when his real power lies in his ability to appear to be not just respectable, but secure. A protector of the innocent. Hopefully we’ll have alerted at least some of his possible victims, and maybe we’ll slow him down long enough to catch him.”

  Michelle shook her head and made the sign of the cross over her chest. Hector followed suit. Madison was tempted to do likewise as she stared at Kyle.

  “Oh dear,” Sheila murmured, “what a depressing end to such a wonderful evening.” She stood very close to Kyle, smiling up at him. “I admit I’m afraid to go home alone now.”

  “Kyle has a car, he’ll see you home,” Madison said, even though she hated the thought of Kyle driving Sheila home.

  Was she protecting Jassy? she thought, mocking herself.

  She felt a little sick inside. Jassy was newly in love. If it wasn’t Kyle, could it be…?

  Oh, God, she had to talk to her sister.

  “That would be wonderful,” Sheila said, staring at Kyle. She appeared so petite, charming and wide-eyed with trusting adoration that Madison wanted to shake her.

  “Sure,” Kyle said, staring at Madison. “We’ll take Sheila home before going to your father’s place.”

  Sheila looked disgruntled; it wasn’t quite what she’d had in mind. But she acquiesced, and it seemed that she really was somewhat nervous. She livened up, however, on the drive to her house, chatting away with Kyle in the front seat. She talked about being alone and how much she usually loved her independence. “Of course, now…but I refuse to allow an animal like that to ruin my life! I don’t ever want to talk about him anymore. Madison, I hear your father is attending a gallery opening sponsored by Kyle’s father. How intriguing that they remained such good friends.”

  “The opening is Sunday,” Kyle told her. “We’d love to have you.”

  “Why, I’d love to come with you. Thank you so very much.”

  Kyle frowned. “Sheila, I didn’t—”

  “Oh, there’s the house, right there. I’ll just run in quickly. I’ve got my key—of course, I’m all thumbs right now. I hate to be such a nervous Nellie, but would you please come with me and just take a quick look around…?”

  Madison kept quiet, all but seething in the back seat. Sheila knew damned well that Kyle hadn’t asked her to the gallery opening on a date; it had been a general invitation. But Sheila had stated plainly that she was going to make a play for him, and that was what she was doing.

  Kyle parked the car in front of Sheila’s. But he didn’t follow Sheila along the walk. He got out and looked into the back seat, at Madison. “Come on.”

  “I’ll just stay here and wait for you. I think she wants a kiss good-night.”

  He shook his head, a slight smile on his lips. “Madison, surely you’ve seen enough slasher movies. The guy leaves one girl alone in the car, and, well, you know where it goes from there. I’m not leaving you alone. Come with me.”

  “I’m not in any danger.”

  “How do you know?”

  “I’d sense it.”

  He shook his head and was suddenly grave. “I think that’s my main paranoia in all this. I’m really afraid that you won’t sense it if you do become endangered yourself. Besides…”

  “What?”

  “You might not be in danger, but I am.”

  “From…?”

  “Sheila,” he said bluntly. “Get out. Come with me.”

  “Sheila is just as cute as a button.”

  “Yes, she is. Now come on, Madison, get out!” He hesitated. “Please?”

  With a deep sigh, she obliged. They walked Sheila to the house, where Kyle managed to explain rather charmingly that he couldn’t actually bring Sheila as his date, since he was obliged to be his father’s gofer for the evening. Sheila promised that she would be there even so, and said that if she could help in any way, any way at all, well, she would be delighted to do so.

  They left Sheila’s place and drove out to Jordan Adair’s waterfront estate. Martique was there, sleepily greeting them in the foyer, despite the quiet with which they approached the house. She quickly went back to bed, and they were alone, facing one another, once again.

  Madison was going to tease Kyle about Sheila and the way he’d managed to wriggle out of an actual date, but he turned on her like a Doberman.

  “Madison, I’m being dead serious, and you’re going to listen to me and pay attention. The news is out. And people will panic. Half the women in Miami will be buying handguns by tomorrow. I just pray that there won’t be any accidental deaths caused by someone who’s frightened and trigger-happy. But I’m telling you, Madison, and I mean it—don’t go off without letting me know again. Me. You made a fool out of me today, and you might have put yourself into grave danger.”

  “Kyle! Damn it, I’m grateful, but I didn’t do anything. You made a fool out of yourself. I appreciate the fact that you were worried, but you’re not responsible for me.”

  “No? Well, you’re not fit to be responsible for yourself, so someone has to be.” He dragged his fingers impatiently through his hair.
Madison, give me a break here.”

  “All right, Kyle, I won’t make a move without your permission!” she muttered sarcastically.

  He ignored the sarcasm. “Good,” he told her flatly.

  “Fine,” she agreed.

  “Good night.”

  “Good night.”

  She turned around and started down the hallway to her bedroom.

  “Madison!” he said, calling her back.

  “What?” she asked, turning to him. She felt strangely on fire. They were here, together. Martique was here, too, but she had retired to her own little room out back, beyond the pool. Madison had been living so many fantasies regarding him. She was breathless, frightened, burning….

  “Madison, have you noticed something?”

  “What?”

  He hesitated. “Well, I’ve been gone a long time, but…?”

  “Yes?”

  “Well, Jimmy usually calls on you not so much because you can feel and see from the victim’s point of view, but because…” He hesitated as she frowned at him. “Sometimes you can see the killer, as well. This time you can’t seem to get so much as a glimpse of the killer. What do you think that means?”

  She shook her head, swallowing tightly, because he was right.

  “I don’t know,” she told him. “Do you?”

  He shook his head. “No, I don’t. But it’s curious. And frightening,” he added softly.

  “I’m all right,” she said firmly.

  He nodded. “You will be. Good night, Madison.”

  That time, he turned and walked away from her, down his hallway. She heard the door to his bedroom open…

  And close.

  She gnawed lightly on her lower lip, then turned and walked the distance to her own room. It seemed like a very long walk.

  Filled with shadows.

  Kyle stayed up late. He plugged in his computer and modem and, despite the hour, contacted Ricky Haines in Virginia. Ricky didn’t care. His wife was a chemist with the bureau, and they were both dedicated to their work.

  Ricky sounded a little sleepy, but he assured Kyle that he had been running information through the computer all day, investigating the records of tattoo parlors and trying to come up with some connection in the lives of the four women killed. “Nothing yet, but don’t worry, we’re on the case. How about you?”

  “Yeah, I’m on the case. I’m in Key West right now—”

  “Key West?”

  “My stepsister is the psychic, remember? I followed her down here on a hunch.”

  “Yeah, sure. You know your stuff, Kyle.”

  Did he? It hadn’t been necessary for him to leave Miami. He’d just been so disturbed, what with the vivid scene in his nightmare and the fact that Madison didn’t answer her phone, that he had to see her. It didn’t actually fall under business. And if the case began to break while he wasn’t even in Miami…

  The case wasn’t going to break that easily. Unfortunately.

  “Ricky, there is one thing.”

  “What’s that, Kyle?”

  “They’re all redheads.”

  “Are they? From the one picture—”

  “I know, you can’t tell. It just appears that she had dark hair. But trust me, every one of the victims was a redhead.” He thought of his stepmother. “Work that angle for a while, okay?”

  “Sure.”

  He instructed Ricky to modem the most recent information on the lives of the victims into his PC, then said good-night. He sat for a while, studying the records of all four victims. Debra Miller, Julie Sabor and Holly Tyler had all been single, never married. Maria Garcia had been a divorcée. She’d left behind two small children. Her picture flashed on the screen, and Kyle got a sick feeling, deep in his gut. Sometimes he could be analytical. But sometimes it was impossible not to be human, not to feel the pain.

  From what he had, he couldn’t connect the women—except for the red hair. They lived and worked in different parts of town. Their jobs were completely different. Debra had been a Miami native, Julie from New York; Maria had been a Cuban immigrant, and Holly Tyler had been born in Minnesota. All that seemed to link them was the fact that they were all redheaded, young, vivacious and attractive. Maybe that was all, and maybe that was enough.

  Kyle rubbed his forehead, thinking about the methods and motives of serial killers from the past. There was usually something about a woman that sparked something in a killer’s mind. What was it? Just the hair, the vivacity? Where was the killer stalking his victims? Bundy had looked to college campuses, assured that he would find plenty of young, beautiful women there. But these women were slightly older, in their late twenties.

  He was getting nowhere. And he wasn’t nearly as tired as he wanted to be. He just didn’t want to shower, then lie awake tossing and turning all night.

  Worse. He didn’t want to sleep and dream about trying to reach Madison, just down the hallway, and discover the killer lurking between them, his knife glinting in the moonlight.

  Still, he turned off the computer and rubbed his eyes. He rose restlessly, then showered. When he’d soaped and scrubbed, he turned the tap all the way to cold. He stayed under the water for a long while, letting his flesh turn icy.

  Finally he emerged from the shower and turned out the lights except for the one in the bathroom, which was just inside and to the left of the door to his room. Years of training had taught him to sleep in darkness and shadows while illuminating any possible entrance.

  He closed his eyes, but he couldn’t sleep. He opened them and stared up at the ceiling.

  He could just get up, and walk down the hallway. No pretense. Just ask her if she wanted to sleep with him.

  Too obvious. Oh yeah. Definitely too obvious.

  He could just walk down the hallway and tell her that he’d gone for a drink of water, then taken a wrong turn while heading back to his bed.

  She was probably sound asleep.

  He’d seen the damned vision in his head so many times. He would step into her room, and there she would be. Maybe in a towel, maybe in silk. It wouldn’t matter. Coverings would drift to the floor. We both want this, let’s stop the arguing, let’s do it, get on with our lives, get it out of our systems, maybe…

  He couldn’t do it; just couldn’t. He thought that he knew Madison, thought that sometimes, just sometimes, the way she looked at him, the way she smiled when he caught her off guard…damn, the electricity was just there. If they didn’t get to it soon…

  He heard footsteps suddenly. Soft, furtive, moving quickly, just outside his doorway.

  He tensed, throwing his legs over the side of the bed and reaching quickly into the nightstand for his. 38 special.

  His door opened slowly….

  She was caught in the gentle light pooling from the bathroom through the partially closed doorway. She stood for a moment, blinded, while he sat in the darkness.

  She wore silk.

  A long emerald silk robe that clung to her body. Curved with it. Her hair spilled over it like a riot of fire in the night.

  She had come to him.

  10

  “Say it again, say it again,” Jimmy Gates teased, planting kisses against Jassy’s ankle.

  She hesitated, laughing. “Morphometric.”

  “Umm…more,” he begged, moving up her calf.

  “Periosteum deposits.”

  “When you talk medical, I just go mad!”

  She burst out laughing, pushing at his shoulder, leaping out of bed.

  “Hey!”

  “I’m thirsty.”

  “Oh, great. I’m making passionate love and you’re after a Pepsi!”

  “You’re not making passionate love, you’re teasing me, and you’re making me laugh so hard my ribs hurt! Can I get you anything?”

  He patted the bed. “Just you.” He paused a moment and shrugged. “And maybe a Michelob.”

  “A Michelob, coming right up.”

  Jassy scampered quickly in and out of the
kitchen, naked. The light from the bedroom was enough for her to find the refrigerator. She grabbed a Pepsi and a beer, then a bag of chips for good measure, and ran back to the bedroom.

  “What a woman!” Jimmy said, his eyes rolling dramatically. “Body parts, beer and chips—all in bed. How did I live so long without you?”

  “Frankly, I don’t know,” Jassy assured him, plumping up her pillow so that she could lean back and rip open the chips. “Want a chip?”

  “Sounds like heaven.”

  He sat up beside her, munching a chip and reaching for the remote control. He flicked on the television, where a local station was showing a repeat of the eleven-o’clock news. He watched the events of the morning, shaking his head. “We’ve got to catch this guy.” He glanced at Jassy unhappily. “You know, I’ve never failed to appreciate your sister, or to look out for her interests, when I’ve asked her to help me, but Kyle has me spooked on this.”

  “Why?”

  “Well, mainly because he keeps mentioning the fact that all the girls were redheads.”

  “From what I understand, there’s usually something that triggers this kind of killer. There was a case in California where a madman went only for brunettes. This man must like redheads. But I…Oh, I see. Madison is a redhead.” She was quiet for a minute. “But I can’t see why Kyle would be especially worried about Madison. Kaila’s a redhead, too.”

  “Well, I’m sure he’s going to worry about Kaila, too, except that she’s married, and she’s not likely to take off for the weekend with any new man.”

  “Kyle went down to be with Madison?”

  Jimmy nodded, swallowing a long drink of beer.

  “Well, that’s a relief.”

  Jimmy frowned. “It sounds as if you’re worried about her, too.”

  “Everyone in the city is going to be spooked by tomorrow. Not that we don’t have our share of homicides to begin with! But a serial killer…Yeah, I’m glad he’s with my sister. He’ll look out for her.” Jassy stared at him. “Why do you still look so unhappy?”

  “Your stepbrother has me spooked, as well. And you know what?”

 
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