Katie awoke to the sound of a light rain rattling the windows. The room was dark and empty. She checked the bedside clock and the bright blue LED display showed eight in the morning. She had slept for nearly twelve solid hours.
Brandon was sitting in bed next to her with his laptop resting on his legs. He had a determined expression on his face. She rolled towards him and started to push herself up then decided against it. All she wanted to do was go back to sleep.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t. They still had work to do. “What are you working on?” She asked.
Brandon closed his computer then looked down at her. “Good morning beautiful,” he smiled. “Did you sleep well?”
Katie frowned. He was avoiding her question. “Yeah.
Those pills really knocked me out.” She replied. “What were you looking at?”
Brandon slid down between the sheets and pulled her close. “We can talk about it later,” he whispered then climbed on top of her.
“Brandon, we have work to do,” she sighed as he removed first her clothes then his.
“It can wait a few minutes,” he whispered then kissed his way down her body.
She thought about protesting again, but changed her mind. His mouth and hands were wreaking havoc on her senses, causing her to forget her thoughts and plans. All she could focus on was the here and now. He paused when he reached her legs.
“Brandon, please,” she moaned. Her body throbbed and ached for release. He ignored her plea and continued teasing her body with his lips.
Katie wrapped her legs tight around his waist then rolled over, until he was the one lying on his back. She pinned his hands above his head then smiled. “It’s my turn,” she whispered then lowered herself on top of him.
She moved frantically, increasing the speed of her hips with each passing moment. Brandon matched her speed, even intensifying it with each thrust. She held tight to his wrists, keeping him in place while she drove him wild. Only when she felt the beginnings of her release did she let go.
Brandon clasped her hips tightly, holding her in place while his orgasm ripped through him. His lips found hers, and his probing tongue matched the rhythm of his hips, until, finally, they both collapsed.
“I love it when you take control,” he sighed once he caught his breath.
“You were taking too long,” she replied. “Now, what were you looking at?
Brandon read the desperation in Katie’s eyes. She needed to know the answer. He knew it would hurt her, but she needed to know it. He had been up since six in the morning. He slept hard for about four hours then woke up and got to work. Within an hour he had found two other rape reports that named Hunter Green as the perpetrator. Both cases never went to trial. The two girls’ names were Angela White and Casey Johnson. In his mind, it was safe to eliminate Angela White. She had died in a car crash in 2006, one year after her rape. Casey Johnson now lived in Chicago with her husband and two children. Casey seemed like an unlikely candidate for murder. She had a life and family. This killer traveled all over the country. Surely a husband and two children would notice her missing. That meant one of two things: either there were more victims or Brandon’s theory was incorrect. Brandon suspected it was not the latter. He still had a lot of work to do, but his gut told him he was on the right track.
“Brandon?” Katie’s question interrupted his thoughts. “Sorry, I was just thinking about something.”
“So, are you going to answer my question?”
It was now or never. Brandon took a deep breath, steeling himself for her reaction. “Rebecca identified the victim from yesterday.”
“Who was it?” “Hunter Green.”
Katie inhaled sharply then nodded. “Go on.”
“I’ll spare you the graphic details, but Rebecca determined the cause of death to be smoke inhalation.”
“So he was alive when the killer set him on fire.”
Brandon nodded. “I’m sorry.”
Katie nodded. “Would it be possible for me to read the autopsy report?”
“Katie, I’m not sure that would be a great idea. It’s rather graphic.”
“I can handle it,” she stated vehemently.
“Well, if you really want to. I’ll print it off for you in a minute.”
“So, what else have you found?”
“Well, I spoke to Chief Holmes after I read the report and we came up with a theory,” Brandon stated then stopped. This was the most devastating part of the conversation. Without a word, Brandon pulled her head to his chest and gently rubbed her head. “We think the ‘crime’ she wants you to confess to is your failure to report your rape to the police. She probably views it as a failure to warn others about danger.”
Katie nodded against his chest. “I guess that makes sense. This is so hard,” she stated. “How could a rape make anyone this violent? And especially doing these things to another woman. It’s beyond me.”
Brandon could hear the frustration in her voice. He felt that same frustration. “I don’t know.” Most female murderers leaned towards the less depraved side. Women were more likely to use poison or a gun to kill. Very few women tortured their victims.
What they were dealing with was a very sick individual. “But there are violent and depraved women out there, Katie. You know the phrase, ‘Hell hath no fury’…”
“‘Like a woman scorned’,” she finished for him. “I know.
Is there anything else you’ve found out?”
“Well, honey, I’m sorry,” he said, hugging her tighter. “I’ve been searching the police reports for rapes and I found two other women who reported being raped by Hunter. Neither one of the cases ever made it to trial.” Brandon felt Katie tense in his arms.
“This is all my fault,” she whispered. “If I had told…” her chin trembled as if she would cry, but nothing would come out.
“No. This is not all your fault. Believe me Katie, I know how rape cases go, especially on a college campus. They try to hush things up. If it does leak out, then they tear your life apart. No, don’t you dare blame this on yourself.”
“I still should have said something to someone instead of keeping it locked inside. Maybe if the police had three complaints they would have done something. Oh God, oh God.” Her voice had hints of hysteria in it. She was coming unglued.
“Katie stop,” he commanded. “You have done nothing wrong. You are the victim. This woman is a murderer. She’s using you as the reason, but believe me, if it hadn’t been you it would’ve been someone else. People like this aren’t normal. They want to kill. You’re just the excuse.”
Brandon felt Katie relax a bit in his arms. His explanation had brought her some twisted measure of comfort. He had not lied though. Every word he said was true. People like this would always have that drive to kill. It was in their nature.
Katie sniffled. “So, what do we do now?”
Keep you safe and out of sight, he thought. But he knew he couldn’t ask her to just hide and let him do all the work. Her brain needed something to do right now. She needed to feel useful, so he made something up. “Are you sure you want to help?”
“Well, there are a couple of things,” he began but Katie interrupted him.
“We need to have a press conference. This woman wants a confession, well I’ll give her one.”
“Katie, no. You don’t have to share this with the world. We will find other ways.”
“Brandon, people already know something. She left a message burning in a field, for God’s sake. The rumors will start flying. The longer I stay silent, the worse it’s going to get. I can’t hide forever. I want to ensure I have some sort of life when all this is over. I’ve kept the secret long enough. Besides, this may be a way of luring her out.”
Brandon was silent for a moment. Katie was suggesting painting a giant ‘X’ on her back, something that he refused to let her do. “No, I will not allow you to become a target.”
Katie pushed herself up then stared him straight in the eye. “I’m already a target. You saw the message yesterday. I’m next.
She’s searching right now. Please, let me do this. Let me take my life back.”
Brandon studied her face, the determined set of her jaw, the anger burning in her eyes. The color had changed from their usual steel blue to that of an angry storm. She was going to do this, either with his help or without. “Okay,” he surrendered to the inevitable. “But I want to read and approve your statement first. There will be no questions afterwards. You will say your piece about your rape then move on. Understood?”
“I’m going to call Chief Holmes, see about setting this thing up.”
“Fine. I’ll go get ready.” Katie climbed off him then stomped off towards the bathroom.
Medical Examiner’s Office 9:16 A.M.
Rebecca was about ready to fall over from exhaustion. She hadn’t felt this level of fatigue since she finished her residency.
Hopefully this would be the last autopsy she would have to do before she left on her maternity leave.
She set her things down and plopped down in her comfy office chair. Fortunately, she’d discovered the victim’s identity and finished the autopsy early this morning. She actually hadn’t left for her house until nearly three in the morning. Callum had actually been kind enough to pick her up then bring her back this morning. Usually she would gripe at the loss of independence, but today she was thankful. He really was a great man and even better husband.
She sorted through the items on her desk, which were fairly sparse. There was only a single file folder. She opened up the folder and looked through its contents. Harry had finished the initial test of the hair she found. They were still waiting on DNA results, but he could confirm that the hair was chemically treated, most likely with hair dye. So, they were looking for a bottle blonde.
The file also contained an analysis of a partial print left on a piece of melted plastic. Odds are it would not stand up in court, but hopefully it would help with investigative purposes. If they could narrow down the suspect pool it would help.
She set the file aside, picked up her phone and dialed Chief Holmes. She needed to know this information.