It was 11:30 on Friday evening, most of the crew had already left for the night. Well almost everyone, everyone except KRZS news anchor Stephanie Dawson who was madly digging through her purse looking for her phone and keys. The lack of those two crucial items was the only thing still keeping her at work.
The city was alive, most people were hurrying out to the club with friends, or dates but Stephanie, she was just trying to get home to her bed, and a nice glass of wine. Her blonde head jerked up when she heard sirens outside the station. Not that it was unusual, sirens were a common sound in all major cities, and in St. Louis it was almost a non stop occurrence at all hours. However being a news anchor her life revolved around the happenings in this city, and sirens was usually an indication something was happening.
Stephanie was starting to get frustrated, her lips pressed tightly together as she searched yet again for the elusive keys and phone, she was contemplating dumping the entire contents of her bag on the tile floor of the station’s lobby when two men walked in. She looked up at them and gave them a polite smile as they headed in her direction.
“Ms. Dawson?” one of the men asked as the two stopped in front of her. Stephanie knew it wasn’t a question, just a way of being polite. As one of the main news anchors, most people in the city knew her face as well as her name. “What can I help you with?” she asked halting her search and looking between both of the men. “Ms. Dawson I’m Special Agent Daniels and this is my partner Special Agent Anderson.” the first man said jerking his head to his left at the other gentleman standing next to him, as they both showed her badges. Stephanie looked at them, feeling a shiver run up her spine as she looked at the photo id with the gold shield glinting in the over head lights. “do you know Dr. Robert Keller?” the second man asked as they both put their identification back in their jacket pockets, both men looking at her waiting for an answer.
Stephanie swallowed as she looked at him, standing well above his partner, just a bit taller than she was. He was probably in the 6′1” maybe 6′2” category judging by her height. He had very dark hair the color of night, and piercing blue eyes. Almost close to the color of the Sapphire necklace she got from her mother and step father when she graduated from college. Her hand went instinctively to her neck, to feel for the necklace she wore. She did it when ever she was nervous, and that man made her nervous.
“Y-Yes, I know Bob. He’s my boyfriend. Well he was, we broke up a few weeks ago.” she said her facial expression growing somber. Officers of any kind never come to your work and ask if you know a person if something wasn’t wrong, she knew what was coming. She had heard this 3 other times in the last 6 years, however usually it was the police department that came to ask her questions. Always the same questions, how long did she know them, what was the status of their relationship, where was she at a certain time. “Ms. Dawson, we need you to come down to our offices, we have some questions to ask you.” Agent Anderson said as he reached out lightly touching her arm, to escort her out of the building to their black SUV just outside.
Stephanie turned and looked at him when his hand made contact with her bare elbow, sending a shock through her arm. She felt like she had been burned. However his face never let on that he had felt anything. Either she was the only one that felt the jolt, or this man was really good at poker. They walked her to their SUV parked near the front door and helped her into the back seat. Stephanie sat back in the cool interior of the large vehicle. It’s leather interior cool against the backs of her bare legs, a big difference from the unseasonably warm weather they were having. She watched as Agent Anderson closed her door then calmly walked around the front of the SUV, and slid in behind the wheel and drove them the several blocks to the FBI building downtown. Skillfully maneuvering the large black SUV through the heavy Friday night traffic.
Stephanie watched as they pulled up to a iron fence, that opened when Agent Anderson punched a code into the keypad. Stephanie looked up at the large concrete building with it’s large glass windows as they drove through the gate and parked in the lot among the other black vehicles just like theirs. She opened her door and stood outside the large black SUV, while waiting for the agents she looked around. She glanced across Market Street at the large Drury Hotel. The front all lit up, cars pulling up as guests walked through the doors with their bags, checking in for a fun weekend. She knew St. Louis University was just down the block a ways. That’s where she had went to school graduating with her degree in broadcast journalism and starting her career as a news anchor with the station.
She followed the Agents into the clean and cool building, looking around at how busy the place was at 11:30pm. She figured the police station would be but the FBI? They must be working on something big for this many agents to still be here this time of night. Stephanie followed Agent Anderson down a hall lined with photo’s of agents to an office where he opened the door and motioned for her to enter. Stephanie walked past him, catching the faint scent of cologne. It smelled really nice, a good smelling mens cologne was a huge turn on for her. And this only added to his appeal.
“Please Ms. Dawson have a seat.” he said gesturing to the seat across the desk from where he was standing as he bent to sit in his own chair. Stephanie sat down in the black leather chair, feeling the gush of air as the cushion deflated a bit as she sat down and hugged her purse to her chest as she looked around the small office. It wasn’t anything fancy, small by comparison she guessed, but it was efficient. There were lots of books on the shelf beside his desk, mostly textbooks, file folders were neatly stacked in a tray on the corner of his desk. On the wall were awards, and diplomas. One of the frames was a Bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Stephanie looked over at Agent Anderson. “You graduated from UMSL?” she asked pointing at the degree. “Yes, many years ago.” he said smiling, as he looked over at the Degree. Stephanie’s heart skipped a beat as she thought he looked rather handsome when he smiled, the area around his eyes crinkled a bit and his blue eyes sparkled. “Now, I’m working on my Master’s at SLU so I can transfer to the Behavioral Analysis Unit.” he said searching through the stack of folders on the corner of his desk and pulling one out. “I went to SLU.” she said smiling at him, sitting forward a bit. The thought that they shared something in common made her a little excited. More than it should considering where she was, and why she was there. Agent Anderson looked up at her and smiled again.
“Ms. Dawson.” he started looking down at the file on his desk. “Please call me Stephanie. Ms. Dawson makes me nervous.” she said stopping him. “OK. Stephanie.” he said glancing up at her with a slight smile on his face. “You said you know Dr. Keller. How long have you known him?” he asked looking back down at the file. “Well I’ve known him for a few years. He works at the hospital with my mother. Uh, but we had only been dating for 3 months. He broke up with with me a few weeks ago.” she said looking at the folder in front of him. “Why did he break up?” he asked looking up at her with that piercing blue gaze. Stephanie found it very hard to think straight when he looked at her. Her hand went up to her neck to play with her necklace. “Nothing bad, we were both to busy. Between his patients and me covering stories more than usual, we didn’t have time to put towards us.” she said looking down at the floor. “Agent Anderson, what happened to Bob?” she asked in a quiet voice. The Agent looked at her across the desk, her expression was sad, it puzzled him that she seemed to already know what he was going to say. “I hate to tell you this, Stephanie, but Dr. Keller was found this morning, behind the hospital. He had been stabbed multiple times.” he said watching her reaction.
He watched as a tear slid down her nose, then fall onto her hand that was playing with the zipper pull on her purse. “Here.” He said quietly as he reached across the desk to hand her a tissue. “Thank you.” She said in a barely audible voice. “You don’t seem to be shocked.” he said leaning back in his chair lacing his fingers together, while touching the two pointer fingers to his lips. Stephanie looked up at him when he said that. Her eyes full of tears that had yet to fall. Stephanie was now quite confused, she was upset about Bob, but looking at this man across from her all she could think was that the look on his face was very seductive, how he was looking at her, how he was sitting, the way his fingertips touched his lips. She swallowed hard before speaking.
“No, see I’m cursed. Ever since I started to work at the news station, 6 years now, every man I have become romantically involved with has died. So, I had a feeling you were going to tell me he died, but killed I didn’t expect that.” she said wiping her eyes with the tissue he had given her. “Everyone?” he asked sitting forward his elbows resting on his desk, folding his hands across the file folder, that lay open in front of him, his eyes intently watching Stephanie Dawson’s every move. Stephanie felt the breath catch in her throat as he leaned closer. “Yes, that is why I have come to the conclusion I’m cursed.” she said looking down at the deep blue carpet under her feet. “Stephanie can you please write down the names of the other men you have dated that have died please?” he asked politely, sliding a sheet of paper and a pen across the desk to her. “If you can give me their name, when they died or approximately when, where it happened and what they did for a living. I would like to check into them.” Agent Anderson said watching her pick up the pen and begin to write.
After several minutes Stephanie passed the paper and pen back across the desk to him. He picked it up and scanned it. “You dated Dillon Matthews? The Race car driver?” he asked looking at her over the top of the paper. “Yes, Dillon and I were together 6 months I believe. Not that we spent much time together with his race schedule.” she said smiling. “He was a good guy though. He had a promising future, until the wreck in 2014.” she said wiping the tissue under her eyes. She really hoped she didn’t look like a raccoon. She had never tested her mascara’s claim of being tear proof.
“you dated Steven Jones, the actor?” he asked looking at her one eye brow raising in surprise. “Yes. We didn’t date long. Steven was a huge player, only wanted someone he could get publicity off of. Seems it’s good press to date a local celebrity while filming a movie. Plus he had another girl in LA.” she said rolling her eyes. “The Medical Examiner said he was drunk, hit his head in his pool and drowned.” she said watching him look at the paper again.
“The first boyfriend was Troy McMillon. A St. Louis Police Officer.” he read and then looked over at her. Stephanie’s shoulders began to shake as she began to cry again. “Take your time Stephanie.” He said in a sympathetic tone. “Troy and I met at school. He didn’t go there, but I did. He was there responding to a call from Campus Security. A girl got mugged one night as she was walking across campus and I happened to see it when I was coming out of the library, he was the officer that took my statement. He came back the next day to check up on me and asked me to lunch.” Stephanie said smiling at the memory. “He was a wonderful person, and a very good Officer. We dated for 2 years. He actually proposed to me at my graduation, and we were going to get married in June of the next year. Troy was killed that December when he responded to a call, for a home invasion. They checked the whole house, but some how they had missed the guy. He shot Troy twice, and wounded his partner.” Stephanie sobbed taking the second and third tissue from the handsome Agent.
“I’m sorry to have to make you go through all of that again, but it may be important. No one has brought this up until now?” He said folding his hands across his desk, and looking at her puzzled. Stephanie blew her nose and looked at him “N-No. They investigated all of them a while, did autopsies for drugs and alcohol on Steven and Dillon but ruled them all accidents, well I guess except Troy, his was a homicide, but not anything suspicious about a home invasion in St. Louis at Christmas time.” She said leaning over to throw the soiled tissues in the trash can beside the desk. “Well, to me they are already suspicious when they happen to be all connected to you.” he said raising his eyebrow again.
“You don’t think these are coincidences?” She asked looking surprised? “I’m not cursed?” she said in a sad yet hopeful voice. “No, I don’t think your cursed. Not exactly. But I do think something is going on. I will look into these other cases, and I will get back to you with what I find.” he said standing up from behind his desk.
Stephanie slowly stood and looked over at him. “Thank you Agent Anderson. Call me if you need any more information.” She said digging through her purse and handing him a business card. “If all else fails. Leave a message with the front desk at the station, they will get it to me.” she said giving him a weak smile. “Thank you Stephanie. It should take a week or so to track down some of these files, especially Dillon Matthews and Steven Jones. Hopefully I have something new to tell you then.” he said handing her a new tissue. “One for the road.” he said smiling at her. Stephanie took the tissue and felt her insides quiver as her fingers brushed his. “Thank you.” she said quietly before looking away.
“Agent Anderson, I hate to ask, but will someone be giving me a ride back to the station so I can pick up my car.” she asked looking through her purse again in an attempt to locate her keys. “Of course. I will take you back to your car.” he said cupping her elbow and leading her back through the building. Stephanie swallowed hard. Why when he touched her did her skin feel like it was on fire? Stephanie looked down where his hand was. Nothing out of the ordinary, no marks yet she could feel it. But looking at his face he seemed to be unaffected.
Stephanie looked at Agent Anderson as he opened the door to the SUV. He was a very good looking man, the pure definition of tall dark and handsome. She had noticed he wasn’t wearing a ring, or any visible signs that he had been any time recently. She wondered why. Was it his choice, or was it just that he was to busy with his job to work on a relationship. Either way it was a shame that he was single. Seriously Steph, Bob was just murdered and your checking this man out like you want to take him home, and interview him for the empty position? She thought to herself.
She sat quietly on the short drive watching the people out on the streets as they drove back to the TV station, where the handsome agent pulled around to the back lot where Stephanie pointed out her car. “Thank you for the lift, Agent Anderson.” Stephanie said as she opened the door and stopped. She turned back and looked at him for a second. “Agent Anderson are you any good at poker?” she asked seriously. The handsome agent paused and looked at her surprised. “I have been told I am pretty good at bluffing my way through a hand, why?” he asked with a slight grin on his face. “I was just wondering. Some of the guys at the station play poker and I think they were looking for a new player since a guy dropped out.” she said hoping he believed that story. So she was right, he could have experienced what she had felt both times he had touched her arm but was good at hiding it. Stephanie turned and slid out of the seat, she slowly walked up to her little red car and hit the button to unlock it. She went to open the door when he grabbed her arm. It wasn't tight, but firm enough that she knew he was serious. “Ms. Dawson. Please be very careful and alert. Something tells me these cases are connected, and that you may be in danger.” he said looking at her his blue eyes even more intense than they were earlier.
Stephanie took a deep breath at how close he was to her, her skin tingled from the touch of his hand on her upper arm. The scent of his cologne that caught her attention earlier, was now even more prominent, making her heart pound in her chest. “Thank you for your concern, Agent Anderson. I have mace.” she said looking away as she noticed herself leaning closer to him. “If you notice anything odd, don’t hesitate to call me or the police.” he said in a low tone, still holding on to her arm. He handed Stephanie his card and stepped back slowly, releasing the grip on her arm. She fought the urge to pull him back, because now that he was moving away she felt vulnerable and scared.
He stood there leaning against the hood of his SUV waiting for her to get into her car and lock her doors. His hands on his hips, giving her a glimpse of the badge clipped to his belt, as well as the gun hidden under his jacket. Stephanie started her car as she pulled on her seat belt. She stuck the business card in her purse and then glanced out the window at the man that had her feeling like a crazy love sick teenager. She gave him a smile as she put her little car into gear and headed towards the exit of the parking lot.
She drove across the city to her small blue ranch style house and pulled into the single car garage. Stephanie locked up her car, and then went inside. She set her purse and keys down on the kitchen table and pulled out the business card the handsome Agent had given her before she left. She ran a finger over the simplistic black and white card with the embossed FBI emblem on the front. Special Agent Cash Anderson. Stephanie smiled, the name fit him, unique and strong.
Cash took a drink of the strong black coffee sitting on his desk in his favorite UMSL mug, wishing it was something much stronger. It was fast approaching 1am and he was still trying to make sense of the interview he had just finished. Stephanie Dawson’s case was very puzzling to him, lucky for her he loved a good puzzle. For 6 years this woman had been connected to 3 deaths, all of the victims were her lovers and no one found it odd?
It was quite possible that it was due to them all being in different states, that is until the latest death this morning, marking the second death in the same city. So many theories ran through his mind, and a coincidence wasn’t one of them. He looked over what he had on the latest victim, Robert Keller. Everything she had told him seemed to be backed up by what others had said during interviews earlier that day. Ms. Dawson and the victim had dated for a few months, but mutually ended the relationship. But everyone they spoke to said that the two seemed friendly when ever Ms. Dawson would visit her mother.
He didn’t know her , but he couldn’t see what a 28 year old would be dating a 47 year old doctor, other than status. The other men on her list were just as high profile, except for maybe the officer. However they dated before she became a high profiled TV personality. Maybe her priorities had changed since that relationship. Maybe after finding fame a city cop wasn’t enough for her, she needed someone with a status to match her own.
Cash sat back in his leather office chair and thought about the woman. She was very attractive, there was no denying that. He had noticed she was fairly tall. He had specifically noticed she had nice curves, in all the right places where a man wanted something to hold. Her honey blonde hair highlighted with brown, falling just below her shoulders. Usually on air she had it pulled back from her face, yet tonight it fell free around her shoulders, framing her face and catching the breeze as they stood next to her car. He remembered how he felt this electricity course through him when ever he touched her. It was difficult to not show that the contact affected him. He remembered looking into her eyes, how they sparkled like two pieces of jade, glinting in the glow of the moonlight. He could see why men were attracted to her. Man, never had he been this affected by someone he had interviewed, or any woman for that matter. Then again it wasn’t every day he interviewed someone he watched every night on the 10 o’clock news.
Cash looked back at the file on the latest victim. There had to be something in one of the case files on the victims. Somewhere there had to be something that gave him a clue as to why, or even who was behind all of it. If Stephanie Dawson’s lovers were being picked off, it was a matter of time before she was the target.
Then Cash sat up straight. Unless she was the one killing them. He thought to himself. Could Stephanie Dawson be a black widow? He tried to imagine Stephanie stabbing Dr. Keller multiple times in the chest, he just couldn’t see it. She was so small and he honestly didn’t think she had the muscle to fight a man of Dr. Keller’s size and deliver that many blows with a knife at the same time. However it was an angle worth pursuing.
Black widow killers almost always killed for money. They would marry or get close to a man, get put into their will, and then kill them. He couldn’t see her doing this for financial reasons. Bob had a good job sure, most of them were well off, but he couldn’t see that being the reason. She was financially secure, there wasn’t a need for someone to support her, besides she didn’t seem to be living above her means. So if she was the killer, then what was her motive?
He needed to see those other case files. Cash picked up the phone and punched in a number to get the files for the other 3 cases sent to his office as soon as possible. He looked up out the small window of his office as he hung up the phone.
“Chris.” he shouted to get the attention of his partner. “What’s up?” his partner said as he stuck his head in the door. “Sit down man, you got to hear this.” he said pushing the file and paper across the desk so he could see them as his partner sat down in the chair across from him. Chris looked at the info in front of him and looked at Cash. “You thinking she’s the unsub?” he asked unsure if he and his partner were on the same page. Cash nodded his head. “Could be. I know women aren’t commonly known to be serial killers, but this isn’t a coincidence. Can’t be. It’s possible that there is another explanation but right now it’s an angle.” he said leaning back in his chair. “You order the other files for the other 3 victim’s yet?” Chris asked looking at the white paper that Stephanie had written the list on. “Yeah, called Files and asked for them right before I called you in. What I don’t get is I can’t see financial gain being a motivator. But I also don’t see her giving over this info freely, if she was the killer.” Cash said staring at his desk lost in thought. “Well, could be she thinks she covered herself well enough we would never suspect her, or one of those rare cases where she kills and has no clue she’s doing it.” he said looking at his partner across the desk. Cash sat up, “You think she could be repressing it?” he asked looking at his partner. “I’ve read a few cases over the years of it happening.” Chris said pushing the file back to him. “I think we should keep a close eye on Ms. Dawson.” he said standing up. Cash nodded his head in agreement.
“She seemed fond of you.” Chris said grinning at him. “Want to do some undercover?” he said laughing as he left the office. Undercover? There is a few things he would like to do with Stephanie Dawson under the covers, but investigating her as a potential serial killer wasn’t one of them. But maybe Chris was on to something. By putting himself on the list as the next target, he would draw out the unsub, who ever it was. If it’s not Stephanie, then he could protect her from who ever it is. He needed to read the other files first, get an idea of what he was dealing with.
Cash turned the lights off in his office, and headed to the elevator. Not much else he could do tonight. He should go home and get some sleep, that is if his brain would stop long enough to let him. He reached into his pocket for his keys, and felt the corner of the business card she had given him before they had left his office. He pulled it out of his pocket and smiled. He was pretty sure thoughts of Stephanie Dawson were going to give the case a run for it’s money in the battle to keep him up all night.
He drove the few blocks to his small apartment and unlocked the front door. He flipped on the TV for noise and went to change his clothes. He walked back into the kitchen and sifted through his mail, while he heated a frozen burrito.
He glanced over at the television as a replay of the 10 O’clock news came on. Cash smiled as he saw Stephanie talking about the dedication at the public library that afternoon. She looked just as she did when he spoke to her that evening, except he noticed she had let her hair down before they met up with her in the lobby of the news station. On the broadcast she had it pulled back, secured in the back with a clip. Then he saw the story that brought them together. She was reporting about her ex boyfriend but had no idea it was him, since police hadn’t released the name of the victim yet. He watched as he saw a visible change in her facial expression and her voice when she spoke about the killing.
He didn’t think she was capable of killing anyone. But he had seen people that were killers that you would never in a million years have thought were. This is going to be an interesting case. Cash thought as he turned off the TV, then went to get his late night dinner. Hopefully tomorrow he would know if he was protecting her or investigating her. Oh there will be investigating for sure. Whether it be official FBI business or not was yet to be determined. He thought at as he finished the burrito and then headed towards his bedroom.