If looks could kill, p.7

If Looks Could Kill, page 7

 

If Looks Could Kill
 



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  “It’s okay,” Carrie Anne said, and hugged her tighter.

  Watching the surface of the water, Madison wondered uneasily if the man in her sister’s life could be Kyle. They’d both looked so comfortable that morning, sitting at the table with her father.

  Kyle had just arrived in south Florida, she reminded herself. But then, Jassy had said that her affair was just beginning. And most of their pseudofamily had visited Kyle through the years, including Jassy.

  Madison fought back a wave of sick jealousy, trying to tell herself again that Kyle was no longer a part of her life.

  Still…

  Jassy had talked about keeping things quiet. About having “reasons.” Madison felt a knot in her stomach.

  A few minutes later, the two broke the surface.

  “Got it!” Jassy called cheerfully. “Radio in, Madison. We’ve got to get the law out here.”

  Jassy. Cute as a button. Smart as they came. Perfect for Kyle? There wasn’t a squeamish bone in her body. Where Madison had nearly panicked at the sight of the severed arm, Jassy found the discovery intriguing.

  Madison radioed in, then took Carrie Anne with her to the galley to make coffee.

  A Coast Guard cutter arrived. Madison got her first chance to see Mr. FBI in action when a loudmouthed lieutenant started in on Jassy and Kyle for having picked up the arm. In a cool, polite tone, Kyle informed the man of who he was and why he was in Florida. Then he introduced Jassy and informed the man of her position. All very politely. But by the time he was done, he was receiving ingratiating apologies, and he and Jassy were being invited for a dive down to see if any more body parts might be found.

  They both declined. Jassy, however, was upset to realize that the arm wasn’t actually hers to investigate. She was Dade County, and this was Monroe. However, the lieutenant assured her consolingly that since the facilities in Dade were so excellent, the Monroe authorities would likely be glad to allow Dade a look at the specimen. Especially considering the recent occurrences in Dade.

  Madison didn’t have anything to say on the way back in, and when they reached her father’s house, she immediately took Carrie Anne in for a shower. Once her daughter had, surprisingly and obligingly, slipped into bed for a nap, Madison closed the door softly on her room and hurried down the corridors of the house.

  Her father’s office door was locked. When he was busy and no one was to interrupt him unless death threatened or the sky was falling, he taped a picture of a growling bear on the door.

  The picture was in place.

  Madison glanced outside and saw that Kyle was stretched out on one of the pool lounges, facedown. His bathing suit was wet, so he’d been in the pool. She slipped out the glass doors and went to his side, taking a seat on the lounge beside his.

  He turned over immediately.

  Shades in place.

  He sat up, as she was doing, looking at her. “Carrie Anne okay?”

  “Of course.”

  “Does she have any idea what we found?”

  “I’m sure she does, but she hasn’t really said anything. I told her that there had probably been an accident of some kind.”

  Kyle looked down, nodding. “Yeah, an accident, all right.”

  “Kyle, what are you doing down here? In the last year or so, Miami has had its share of bizarre killings. There was the guy who went after the prostitutes on Eighth Street, and the man who murdered the poor homeless people and set them on fire. And—”

  “And the cops worked those killings,” he told her. “But they were heavily patterned, easier to profile, and the cops had a better handle on the type of killer they were after.” He hesitated. “Plus, it’s sad but true. Who worries about the homeless except for the rest of the homeless—and some guys who actually work the streets and remember that they’re people, just like the rest of us. And prostitutes…” He lifted his hands. “People have a tendency to think that pimps and prostitutes get what they deserve.”

  “No one deserves to be murdered,” Madison said indignantly.

  He arched a brow. “Even by the law?”

  “I don’t know what you’re saying.”

  He shook his head with sudden disgust. “I guess I’m just at that stage of life where I’m not sure what’s right and wrong all the time. The last time I was called out, it was up to Massachusetts. This particular perpetrator had already been convicted of child molestation and murder, but because of the laws, he was given two simultaneous fifteen-year sentences. His behavior in prison was outstanding. He chiseled away at his time, was put into special programs…. He was let out of prison on a weekend pass. In two days, he killed two boys and a little girl. How could such a man ever be let out of jail?”

  “So you’re saying there should have been a death penalty and it wouldn’t have happened again?”

  He shook his head, looking out at the setting sun for a minute. “What happens when one innocent man or woman is executed? You can’t dig them back up and say you’re sorry. Then again, take a Ted Bundy. Who’s going to say that a man like that doesn’t deserve to die? The parents of his victims must have thought that electrocution wasn’t nearly cruel enough.”

  “You’re not answering me,” Madison reminded him softly. “What are you doing down here?”

  “Oh…”

  She spoke slowly. “Those other killings were solved. And I haven’t heard anything about another suspected serial killer in the news.”

  He shrugged. “Because no one quite knows what’s going on yet, except that certain evidence is pointing toward a serial killer.”

  “What evidence?”

  “Madison, you don’t really want—”

  “Kyle!” she said, then hesitated, still not willing to tell him about her latest dream. “I can’t get as excited about a severed arm as Jassy, but I’d like to know what’s going on,” she said firmly. “I live alone with a five-year-old and a housekeeper. I’d like to keep my child as safe as possible.”

  “Well, this man isn’t after children.”

  “You’re certain it’s a man?”

  He nodded. “I am.”

  “Others aren’t, but you are?”

  He smiled. A crooked smile. “I’m a profiler. It’s what I do. And I know it’s a man.”

  Madison found herself smiling, as well, shaking her head. “I thought you weren’t even starting until Monday?”

  “I got all the paperwork right before coming down. And I think I have a good picture of what we’re looking for.” He hesitated, looking at her through his dark lenses, then shrugged. “First month, right around the fifteenth, a young woman is reported missing. Beautiful young woman, a Debra Miller. She’d talked to her co-workers about a special date she was going on, no name given. She goes home. Goes out. No one knows where. The neighbors remember seeing her jump into her car and wave goodbye.”

  “And…her body was later found?”

  He nodded. “In the Everglades. Badly decomposed.”

  “God, I remember that. That was in the newspapers.”

  “Next month, a similar situation. This time it’s a young Latino mother of two, recently divorced.”

  “And her body—”

  “She remains missing.”

  “Well, then, perhaps—”

  “Perhaps she’s just missing. True. Third month. A third victim, twenty-five-year-old Julie Sabor, who’d very excitedly told her co-workers there was a new mystery man in her life, disappears. There’s a possibility she’s a Jane Doe in the Dade County morgue right now.”

  Any of them could have been the woman in her dream, she thought unhappily.

  “But, still…”

  “All on or around the fifteenth of the month, all young and beautiful, all with plenty of loving, caring family.” He studied her for a moment. “You didn’t know anything?”

  She shook her head. “I remember there was a story in the Herald when Debra Miller’s body was found. And I might have seen an article about a disappearance, but there ha
ven’t been any sensational news stories, and you know how things are down here. The local stations thrive on sensationalism.”

  “Well, the cops haven’t let too much out yet. They’re afraid they’ll lose what few fragile bits of information they share with the killer.”

  Madison felt him watching her through his dark glasses. The sun was nearly down. He didn’t really need them anymore. The light now was part of what made the Keys so spectacular. Pink light, gentle light. Soft streaks in pastel colors.

  “I wish you weren’t divorced,” he muttered.

  “What?”

  He shrugged, lifting his hands, studying his palms. “What I see so far is a killer every bit as clever and charming as Bundy. He’s smart. His psychological problems are incredibly deep-seated, and well hidden. He’s growing increasingly violent, and more obsessed with mutilation with each murder. He has an association with the middle of the month—not the full moon, but the middle of the month, doesn’t matter what the moon is doing. He’s attractive and accepted. He could walk into the best restaurant in the state and look exactly as if he belonged there. I think that he’s looking for something from his victims…and doesn’t get it. Or hasn’t gotten it yet. Then he grows angry. And then…”

  His voice trailed away, and he looked at her, his mouth grim. “I just wish you were still married, because I don’t think this guy goes for married women. He’s looking to charm someone, and he wants something in return.”

  She exhaled a long breath, looking out across the pool. “The fact that serial killers exist in the modern world is not a good reason to stay married, Mr. Montgomery.” She stared at him suddenly. “Would you give Jassy this warning?”

  He frowned. “Jassy is just so…She’s so full of common sense.”

  Madison arched a brow. “And I’m not? Kyle, how on earth could you pretend to know that now? To judge me now?”

  He ran his fingers through his dark hair impatiently. “I guess I just can’t say the right thing to you, Madison. I care about all of you—Jassy, you, Kaila. I don’t want anything to happen to any of you. Jassy always has her nose in a book. Kaila is married. You’re out in the world. I worry more about you.”

  Madison stood. “Don’t try to profile all of us, Kyle,” she told him quietly.

  “For God’s sake, Madison, I’m not trying to be offensive. You’re a model. Out with photographers, other models, men. You’re more susceptible.”

  “Right. Any handsome, charming man comes my way and I’ll just say, ‘Why the hell not?’ and drive away with him.”

  “There you go again, acting defensive. You’re divorced! You’re in a dating mode!”

  “Excuse me, then. I’m just going to go get dressed and put on some makeup. After all, my dad’s having a party. I need to show up in a dating mode,” she told him tartly, then smiled sweetly and spun around.

  “Madison!” he called after her.

  She didn’t stop.

  “Madison!”

  She turned. “What?”

  He walked to her, setting his hands firmly on her shoulders. “For the love of God, Madison, I don’t want anything to happen to you. And…”

  “And?”

  He hesitated, still studying her. “And I’m glad that Jimmy Gates has left you alone, and that you’re not part of this case.” He paused, frowning. “He has left you alone—right?”

  “You’re mistaken if you think that Jimmy forces me into helping him.”

  “So he still calls on you for your hocus-pocus,” he said bitterly.

  Madison stared at him, feeling the resentment building in her heart once again. “He doesn’t always call on me.”

  “You call him?” he demanded incredulously.

  “When I feel I need to, yes, I do! I didn’t ask for whatever it is that I have. I hate it. I really, truly hate it. It’s terrible to have to hurt for other people. But it’s worse to feel that you can do something and not do it. It’s worse to think that you could help ease someone’s suffering and ignore it.”

  He winced. “Madison, listen, I just have a bad feeling on this one. My turn to have a bad feeling, a really bad feeling. You need to keep your distance.”

  He hesitated for a minute. She was painfully aware of the heat emanating from his fingers as he clenched her shoulders. She liked Kyle’s hands. They were big. He had long fingers. He had his father’s hands. Artist’s hands. Capable of a light touch, and yet very powerful.

  The warmth of his touch reminded her of the chill she had felt today.

  Was he right on this? She’d never felt so unnerved as she had since last evening. Of course, she’d had that feeling, and then he’d arrived.

  She had the dream, and then…

  She looked down suddenly and remembered the unease she had felt when they were about to set out on the boat. Seeing again the flashes of a life she had seen in her dream, when she was diving toward the arm.

  The hotel room. Being in someone’s else skin. The euphoria, and then…

  Then the flash of the steel.

  “Madison!”

  He lifted her chin, putting her at a disadvantage again, studying her eyes while his remained hidden behind dark lenses. “Madison, I’m certain that the arm we found today belongs to a victim of this killer. He’s ranging from Miami to the Keys. Your territory, Madison. I don’t want you hurt. I don’t want you involved.”

  She had to be involved. She had no choice. She opened her mouth, ready to tell him about her flash of insight.

  But she didn’t want to tell him what she had been seeing. Jimmy was the one who had believed in her from the beginning, and she knew that she was only given a great deal of credence now by most of the homicide guys thanks to Jimmy.

  Not Kyle. She couldn’t tell Kyle. He was still staring at her through his glasses, his touch, his tone, passionate and intense.

  “Madison, what you see is dangerous, don’t you understand? You don’t dare be dangerous to this killer. I mean, I know how I felt when I thought you were invading the privacy of my life. Imagine a killer…”

  She pulled away from him, staring at him furiously. “Invading your life?” she repeated softly.

  “Madison, that’s what it felt like. Like I said before, I was in pain at the time, in agony, and I’m sorry about the way that I acted. But if this killer became aware that you could enter into his very thoughts…if he somehow came in contact with you, if he happened to be someone you met in a social situation…”

  “I’ll be very careful regarding who I sleep with in the near future, Kyle,” Madison informed him blithely. “Thanks so much for your concern.”

  Then she turned on her heels and forced herself to walk slowly back to the house.

  5

  By eight o’clock Jordan Adair’s party was in full swing. A trio was playing by the pool, and family and friends had arrived.

  Kyle’s father had been among the first to arrive, and they had greeted one another with a long hug and a lot of emotion. Then Rafe had arrived, and they had greeted one another warmly, as well.

  Jimmy Gates showed up, having become a close family friend. He’d cared deeply; they’d all known that.

  Kyle and Jimmy greeted one another with a careful, professional assessment. They would be getting down to business come Monday.

  Then Kaila had shown up with her three little ones—hassled, harassed and busy. Kyle, Rafe and their father had helped her deal with her brood while she explained that her husband, Dan, was running late. Kaila looked badly flustered. But Jassy, cute and sleek in a sleeveless, clinging black cocktail dress, came to take the baby. A minute later Madison—barely acknowledging Kyle, though she was friendly and warm with his father and brother—took the two older children. Older! The baby, Anthony, wasn’t quite two; Shelley, was three and half, and the oldest, Justin, was five. Kaila seemed deeply relieved to have the respite and was delighted when Rafe made her a piña colada and she had a few minutes to sit in peace.

  Kaila, like Madison, ha
d a wealth of long, deep red hair, huge blue eyes and finely chiseled features. Kyle thought she was very pretty and might have been mistaken for her sister, except that their personalities were so different, they moved differently. Kaila was always anxious; her movements were abrupt. Madison…Madison was subtle. Graceful. Agile. More…

  Sensual, he thought dryly.

  And furious with him once again.

  Tonight she was wearing emerald green. Redheads weren’t supposed to be able to wear green, but she pulled it off spectacularly. She was wearing an emerald green halter-topped dress. Her hair was swept up, and her back was bare.

  It was a sin to have a back so perfect, he thought. He was tempted, every time she was near him, to run a finger up and down its bare length.

  So tempted, he thought dryly, just as any other man would be.

  Once Madison had the kids settled and playing in Carrie Anne’s room, she moved among her father’s guests with incredible ease.

  Kyle noticed that she didn’t come near him. Well, she was angry with him again. Naturally. He didn’t seem to be able to express himself very well with her. He was concerned, that was all. And she didn’t seem to understand that whatever else her strange power might be, it was also very dangerous. Watching her talk, listen and laugh, he felt a strange knifing within himself. He tried to forget the way she had looked that afternoon, the passion in her eyes when she tried to explain how she couldn’t see the suffering of others without helping if she could….

  If only her damned power would go away. He’d hoped it might have done so. Apparently not.

  It wasn’t easy seeing Madison again.

  He thought of the women with whom he’d slept on a casual basis. No involvement, no great emotion.

  Easy to sleep with a woman when he didn’t care.

  This time, he did care, but even if her temper ever waned enough that she was willing, it couldn’t happen. He cared too much.

  Now, though he tried to be covert, he couldn’t keep his eyes off her as she sipped champagne.

  In moderation, he noticed. She kept the same glass with her all night.

 

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