Chapter 1 - 3 |
Chapter 4 - 6 | Chapter 7 - 10 |
Chapter 11 - 13
Chapter 14 - 16 | Chapter 17 - 19 | Chapter 20 - 22
Chris sighed and hung back in his chair, looking at Vin with tired eyes.
"Maybe you should talk this through with Travis...."
Chris' shoulders slumped. He stood up and walked to the window, to stare at the mountains in the distance. The ranch was there. Linda was there. God, he wished he was there as well. He needed to be with her, so he could hold her and protect her. He felt Vin come closer and lend his silent support.
Don't go there, Cowboy!
Don't Chris! She's safe, we'll keep her safe! You won't lose her!
Chris looked at his friend and saw the determination in those blue eyes. Eyes that tried to make him believe it wouldn't happen to him a second time. He wouldn't lose someone he loved again.
He thought he'd gotten over this fear, that he'd moved on, only to find that after all was said and done he hadn't. Right now all he wanted to do was leave everything and go to Linda, so this time he would be with the one he loved if anything threatened to happen.
Then he thought of all the pictures he'd seen of this man's, no, this monster's victims and he knew he couldn't do it. He couldn't let another husband lose his wife, or other parents lose their child. Or have some small kids lose their mother.
"I'm gonna ask her to leave Denver for a while."
That made Vin grin and Chris shook his head ruefully when he saw the man's mirth. Vin was right, she wouldn't budge. She was as stubborn as Sarah used to be.... Nope, she was even more stubborn.
He looked at the clock on the wall and suddenly became all business again. "Half past ten. Josiah, Kelli and Paul should be at the airport right now. Flight should take an hour or two, then the drive... luckily it's mostly interstate. So they'll be in Dillard when it's still early afternoon. Good. I better go get in contact with the authorities over there to warn them our team's coming."
So, y' already know what you're gonna do.
Chris sighed. "I can't let him take someone else, Vin," he said softly. "I just can't. My head tells me we shouldn't alarm him, but...." He again saw Linda before him, her laughing eyes and the way she moved when she walked away from him. What if that bastard really had gotten her?
Vin grinned. "You'll look real purty on the telli, Cowboy." He ducked just in time to avoid getting hit solidly by a pencil case and got out fast, his laughter trailing after him.
Damn, but Chris hoped he could get Travis to do the honors and warn the Denver people about the serial killer on their streets.
+ + + + + + +
Travis didn't budge, telling Chris handling the media would be his solid job. He did call them and set things up for a press conference in time to make it on the six o'clock news. Chris had opted for late afternoon in the hope that Josiah would have something by then. Later was out of the question though. The victims as a rule had disappeared in the evening and night and he wanted his warning out no later than at the beginning of the evening, regardless if Josiah had found anything.
Luckily Travis had agreed. "I've asked Mary not to come this weekend like she and Billy had planned," he'd confided in Chris. "She fits this killer's victim profile too well, blond, slim, very handsome." The old man had looked at Chris shrewdly. At one time everyone had thought Chris and Mary would make a couple. This was after Chris had saved Mary's son Billy and they had become friends. Although Chris had felt some attraction to Mary, it never had been very deep, certainly not enough to let go of the memory of Sarah for her.
"I've also told Billy that you're probably too busy to see him with a case, so Billy decided to come later as well. He likes seeing me and Evy, but visiting you on the ranch still is the biggest attraction for him to come back to Denver. He really resented having to move when Mary remarried, because he wanted to keep seeing you."
"Travis, I...." Chris felt uncomfortable. He knew Orrin had been very in favor of him and Mary marrying. And Billy, well.... That had been tough, he loved that boy.
"No, no, don't look like that! You did great with Billy, allowing him to come over at holidays and weekends too. Didn't you have a weekend planned soon anyway? He was really exited about that when we talked on the phone."
"Eh, yeah, we have," Chris mumbled. Oh God, he'd almost forgotten that. He'd better straighten it out with Linda soon! She didn't even know about Billy yet. And Billy didn't know about Linda.... What a mess! Murmuring something about 'still having a lot of work to do', Chris practically fled Orrin's office.
Finally he'd done all the things and made all the arrangements on the case he could think of. It gave him a moment he needed frantically to check on the new love in his life. After having made sure everyone knew that to disturb him in the next hour or so without a very good reason was courting death he confiscated Vin's cell phone and shut the door to his office to call Linda on it.
He didn't want to use his own cell phone, which was the one Josiah would call the moment he knew something. Cell phones were more difficult to bug than land lines, so they had decided to use those. He still had had JD check the cell phones of Josiah, Kelli and Paul before they left and afterwards also his, Vin's, Buck's and Ezra's. He was fairly certain that by now JD's and Pam's phones would be checked as well. Since they all were clear of any tampering he hadn't bothered with the rest, trying to keep the checking as low profile as possible.
"Dubois, not interested in any crap!" Linda answered.
Chris grinned, feeling instantly better. Linda occasionally liked to rattle people who called and this seemed like one of those occasions. He swiveled his chair so no one who tried to peek into his office would see him and put on his most seductive voice.
"Would you be interested in the better quality phone sex, Mademoiselle Dubois? You ask, you get."
"What? Who do you think you are?"
"My name is Chris and I can give you endless satisfaction."
"CHRIS! You dolt! Where are you? You're not calling from the office with an offer like that, are you? Trying to make some side money in the boss's time?"
Chris couldn't help laughing. "Yeah Linda, I'm at the office right now. Nothing much is happening at the moment and I really needed to hear your voice. What've you been up to?"
"I should have been up to my neck in some shopping," Linda told him. "You do know Inez's birthday is coming up in less than a week, don't you? She's been so kind to me and has really done everything to make me feel welcome, so I'd wanted to do something special."
Oh hell! Chris quickly looked at the small calendar on his desk. Tuesday, Inez's birthday was next Tuesday. He'd forgotten with all that was going on and now he couldn't ask Linda to make something of it. She would have loved to organize a party for Inez. Somehow the two had hit it off right away. Maybe because they were both women with fire in them.
"Chris? Are you still there?"
"Yeah, sorry. Just thinking about Inez's birthday. I'm afraid we'll still be in the middle of this case."
"That's alright. I'd love to organize the party for her. What do you think, would she want it at the Standish Tavern, or would she prefer it somewhere else? I could go look at places...."
"Linda, no! You can't go look at places! Damn it, I told you what's going on, as much of it as I can! And what's wrong with the ranch anyway?"
"Chris, I'll be careful, I will. I won't go anywhere dangerous, just the main streets. And while the ranch is fine, you people always do your celebrations there, there is nothing wrong with some change of scenery now and then."
"Sarah was careful too! Linda, please...."
"I just can't lose you Linda, I can't! I hate it that I'm stuck here instead of being with you. Damn...."
"Chris, I'm perfectly safe. I have Ben and Rob here and the other help, you know that.
"You'd be even safer if you'd leave Den...."
"Oh no, you don't! I'm not leaving, no way. I do have a ranch to run in case you forgot! Besides, we just saw each other again after a week of nothing and I'm not going to take another week without you!"
"It might come to that anyway, there is a good chance that I'll be stuck here until we have this guy."
"I know. But at least I'm close in case you do have a moment to pop over, since I'm not allowed to pop over to you."
"God, I love you Linda."
"I love you too, even when you're overprotective, Christopher Adam Larabee."
Chris laughed softly when he heard the determination in her voice. He could just see how she would look, with that small frown between her eyes and that slight pout she could get. If he'd been with her he wouldn't have been able to resist kissing that frown and that pout away. He would have taken her in his arms and wouldn't have stopped kissing her until she would laugh that delightful laugh of hers.
"Chris, this IS a phone call, remember? That means talking...."
"Sorry Linda, I was just picturing you, how you would look right now and how I would take you in my arms...."
"And how would you know what I look like right now?" she asked teasingly. "It's not like I always wear the same color, the way you do!" A bit hoarsely she added, "Not that I'm complaining, black really... suits... you."
"Oh, but I think I can guess. You're on your ranch, have probably been between the horses all morning. So you'd be wearing jeans and one of those soft flannel shirts that are too good and too expensive for ranch work."
She laughed, finally she laughed. He let that beloved sound flow all over him. "Hey, they're comfortable!"
"Am I right?"
A deep sigh answered him. "Yes, you're right and I can just see the smug smile you're wearing right now! Not fair when I can't wipe it off your face with a deep kiss that will have you go all weak in the knees."
"Guess you'll have to do that at a later time," Chris teased.
"Tell me about your morning," he asked wistfully. The next half hour he listened to her lovely voice talking about the new foals, their mothers, the mares that still had to foal and the antics of some of the young stallions. They ended discussing which should be gelded and which had breeding qualities.
"I think at least those five should be gelded and then sold to someone who could train them," Linda finally thought.
"You sell them untrained? Linda, they'd be worth much more if they would be saddle ready!"
"I know, but it's expensive to have them trained somewhere first and a lot of trouble. It's just not our main trade, so I never bothered with it."
"I could train them."
"You could? Chris, you train horses? I never realized...."
"Yep, always try to train as many as I can myself. It's difficult sometimes when work is too busy. George does his share now as well, but I still try and take them on myself. Those are really fine horses you have Linda, it's a joy just to watch them and I would love to do it for you."
They talked some more until his eyes fell on the clock. "Shit, Linda, I have to stop! It's been over an hour!"
"Oh hell! Guess I'll have to go and do some work as well."
"You don't sound enthusiastic."
"Administration." The suffering in her voice was undisputable and made Chris laugh.
"Better not keep you then," he teased.
"Larabee, you can be mean!"
"I try, I try! Please Linda, take care! I don't wanna lose you, ever."
"I'm too stubborn to lose, Larabee!" Then, softly, "I'll be careful Chris, for you! Promise. Just get back here soon."
The moment Chris had laid down Vin's cell phone, Vin stalked in with some sandwiches and a huge grin on his face.
"For someone with your rep of silence you sure can talk a blue streak, Larabee!"
"Stuff it Tanner." Chris flipped the phone over to him, which caused Vin to drop one of the sandwiches.
"Cranky, cranky. Just so's you know, that was your own late lunch! Here." Vin tossed the sandwich he was still holding and after having picked it up the other followed as well. Then he settled in the chair before Chris' desk. Soon his feet were up again. Chris arched an eyebrow, but this time refrained from commenting.
"That lady sure can make you talk!"
"We only talked horses, Tanner!"
"We did," Chris told his friend defensively. "We talked about her young stallions."
"Ya offered to train them!"
"Yeah. We don't have that many horses to train at the moment."
"And you're almost done with the quarterhorses you were working with. George was working with Blue Moon last Sunday, while you were dallying in the fields and creeks with your woman and he thinks she's good enough for trail competitions. It was damn fine to see her perform, Cowboy, you came real far with that wild lady."
"She's a joy to work with." Chris couldn't repress a smile thinking about the beautiful bay quarterhorse mare. "I love training all horses, Vin. But finding one I can train for real ranch work or Western competition like trail, that's still the best. The subtleties of the moves like making them go backwards, or sideways through the fence, I love it. I like that even more than the roping and cutting I've done."
"George thinks she'd be great at that as well."
"Yeah? He wants to start that kind of training, he can go find some cows for it all by himself!"
"You sure you've no regrets that we're trying for the best blood line for race horses now? I mean, you really love working them quarterhorses. Seeing you work with them, it's clear where your heart lays, Cowboy."
"Damn it Vin, I enjoy working at that blood line too, trying to find the best mare for Bounty Hunter and see what kind of foal we'll get, you know that. We have enough quarterhorses each year for me to train myself and that's just the way I like it! And they're a good extra source of income. Speaking of that perfect race horse blood line.... Vin, I've seen a mare at Linda's, a real beauty. She has something that makes me think she and Hunter would be perfect together."
Vin's eyes started to glitter. "Let's go and see her as soon as this mess is fixed! If you say that, she must be great. Eh... you think Linda's willing to sell her?"
"If she ain't, we could maybe make a deal. First foal for her, second for us."
While Chris finished eating they talked some more about the horses, but pretty soon Chris fell quiet. Apprehension came back and he started to look at the clock every few minutes, waiting for a call from Josiah.
He had done everything he could do at his end. He had alerted the authorities on their findings and made sure they would be ready to go help with the hunt for the killer as soon as they knew more. He had placed Buck with Mark, and Justin with Ross in strategic positions so he would know instantly if some bureau somewhere would not fully cooperate. The media was arranged. Now that call from Josiah was what could make all the difference. He really hoped Josiah would have some information to find the killer before he would be alerted by the six o'clock news.
He fervently hoped that he wouldn't be too late in alerting the people of Denver, that the killer wouldn't change his MO and would again wait until dark before snatching his next victim.
God, let this waiting be the right thing to do and not mean another victim!
He looked at the clock again.
+ + + + + + +
His head rested against the wall behind him. He knew he was concealed in the shadows here and no one would notice him watching the apartment building. The building where she lived. His hand caressed the gun in his pocket where it had joined his knife. He hoped that she would come out soon, so the hunt could begin. He was ready, ready to take her at a moment's notice.
Maybe this time he should act the moment she came out and not wait for the dark.
He licked his lips in anticipation when the door of the building opened, revealing a slender, jeans clad body and long, flowing golden blond tresses.
Oh God, he wanted her! His hand closed around the gun....
Chris was getting nervous and the whole office started to suffer with him. It was almost a quarter to four now and the moment he'd have to leave for the press conference came closer and closer.
Right now he was pacing his office, glaring at the clock, at his cell phone, at the clock again and at anyone who dared to open his door. Just when he was ready to snag his cell phone and call Josiah himself the damn thing started to ring.
After all the waiting it caught him by surprise after all and made him almost jump. Cursing he hit the green button and barked, "This better be Josiah Sanchez!"
"Eh, yes Chris, it's me. Are you alright?"
"Josiah, just tell me," he grated.
"It seems like you need the bottom line on this. Well, that bottom line is: we found him."
"Good!" Chris immediately stalked out of his office, gesturing Pam and JD to the conference room. He didn't have to let Vin know anything, his friend was already hurrying over.
"Tell me, Josiah," Chris said, tense. "All you've got. I'm setting the phone on speaker."
Soon Josiah's rumbling voice filled the conference room. "I'm at the sheriff's office. We're just back from interviewing the parents of the suspect. They had a good picture of him and Kelli says she recognizes him as the man who was watching Linda. She is with their digital sketch artist now, having the picture changed to ten years older and with longer, black hair instead of blond. The two pictures will be coming to you as soon as she's ready."
"How long?" Chris barked.
"Eh... Kelli? How long?" They heard some voices on the background. "About fifteen minutes."
"Make them hurry," Chris told him. "Name?"
"What? Chris, are you alright?"
"Josiah, I'm on a timeline. Name?"
Chris furiously penned it down.
"And except for Kelli recognizing him, he's the one why?"
"The girl killed with the tranquilizer gun? She wasn't the only one murdered. A young man was as well. The two had obviously been having some fun together and because Dillard is really small they had these murders booked separately to cover that fact up."
"Damn!" Vin said, showing the disgust they all felt.
"They thought it wouldn't matter, because to them it was a clear cut robbery murder. Everything the two victims had on them, wallets, id's, a big bowie knife from the boy, everything was taken."
"Bowie knife...," JD breathed.
"Yes, and also the tranquilizer gun," Josiah told them. "The victim, Josh LaPlant, worked at the Wildlife Safari Game Park in Winston, not that far from here. He was a hospital keeper and was training to be a Veterinary Technician. That's how he had access to the gun and the darts. The people at the Game Park didn't know that much anymore after nine years, but the Vet did remember that they had had to tranquilize a young lion with an infected paw. He trusted Josh to do that. The young man was very bright and very eager to learn. He would have gone far, is everyone's opinion. The young woman was Stacey Lincoln. She ran off when Josh was clubbed to death, only to have the murderer pursue her and shoot her with the gun. As far as forensics here could deduce, the sheriff told me, he then went back to Josh to finish the job, took all of his possessions and also went through the clothes of the girl to take what she had. They think he went back to the girl by then, but she was probably already dead or at least in a deep coma. It turns out that he shot her more than once, at least four darts were found around her."
"Brad Cleaver?" Chris asked apprehensively.
"At first they didn't think of him at all, Chris. The authorities here regarded this as a mugging, pure and simple and warned all the authorities that a dangerous mugger was running around lose, armed with a knife and a tranq gun, although they suspected it would be out of darts. What they failed to see was the enormous anger behind the attack. The way the boy was clubbed to death, the way the gun was shot at the girl repeatedly should have told them that it could very well be personal, but it didn't. As for Brad Cleaver, he was a year younger than Josh and not very popular. Josh was about the only real friend he had and like him, Brad worked at the Game Park. He couldn't learn well though, problems with calculating mostly, so he was no more than a handy man, doing all sorts of odd jobs like mending the fences. Josh let him in the hospital often though and he was very good at helping out, the vet told me."
"But? How did you get the name of this boy when he wasn't even a suspect?" Chris was getting impatient.
Right then JD whooped and took something off the printer.
"Chris, they sent the pictures! One of the suspect nine years ago and one of the manipulated picture!"
Without losing his beat in the conversation with Josiah, Chris held out his hand imperiously. He looked at both pictures and then passed them on to Vin. "JD, Pam, get me lots of copies! Josiah, don't stop!"
"Brad was in a daze after the death of Josh. He still went to work at the Game Park everyday, but after a while he wasn't allowed in the animal hospital anymore. A few weeks later he disappeared. Then the dead girls in Eugene came up and it was also discovered that a large bottle of Rompun had been stolen at the Game Park animal hospital, along with a box of darts. Chris, I talked with his parents and they said that Stacey was Brad's girl, while everyone else I've spoken said she wasn't, not really."
"And he found her with his best friend," Chris said softly.
"Yes. That started a rage that still hasn't stopped."
"Why was he never arrested?"
"By the time things were added up over here, he had left Eugene. They never knew about the girl in Carson City or any of the others. They just tried to find Brad Cleaver. Chris, I need to go to Litchfield Park."
"To find something out for sure. JD, what is the nearest zoo to Litchfield Park?"
"On it," JD called back. After a few minutes he smiled. "They actually have a zoo in Litchfield Park itself, the Wildlife World Zoo."
"Can you send the information on it, address, how to get there? Nearest airport?"
"That would be Phoenix," Pam stated. She had just put a stack of copies from the pictures near Chris on the conference table. "It's coming, Josiah."
Chris was absently picking up one of the pictures, the one that had added ten years and black hair to the original.
"Why?" he asked his profiler.
"Josh LaPlant had black hair, about the length Kelli has seen the suspect wear. Actually, they used the haircut we have from a picture of Josh on Brad's photo."
At that moment Nathan entered. "Chris, sorry to disturb, but we got the test results from Amarillo, from chief medical examiner Robert Metfield. It's positive, Rompun."
Chris sighed and finally set down in a chair. "I guess we'll find a zoo in every place he's been living, Josiah?"
"Yes Chris, that is what I expect. Everyone was very clear about one thing, Brad Cleaver loved animals, a lot. It is what he and Josh had in common, where the two had found each other. Only, Josh was the golden boy, popular, handsome, good with learning and training for a job that would have him help sick animals for real."
Chris looked again at the picture he'd kept holding and at the original. Not what you would call a handsome boy, he wasn't really ugly either, more... funny looking somehow.
"And very classic as well, Chris."
"Not to mention that he'd had to have access to the drug all these years," Vin added.
"So there's a big chance he's taken on the identity of Josh LaPlant," Chris sighed.
"That is what I want to verify in Litchfield Park, Chris. See if a Josh LaPlant worked there in 1997."
"You go, Josiah. Good job."
Soft laugher answered that statement and the line went dead. Chris looked at Vin. "Time for you to start the hunt, pard," he said softly. "Warn Buck and Ezra and inform the rest of the unit. I've got a press conference to get to. Damn! JD, Pam, make a sheet with facts and I need some of those pictures as well."
You'll do good, Chris!
Chris just snorted and stalked out. "A real friend would offer to trade places!" he called back. "Nathan, I wanna talk with you for a sec, while Vin gets the rest of the team."
"What's up, Chris?"
Chris sighed. "You said those test results came from Amarillo, from the chief medical examiner there. How about forensics here in Denver?"
"Didn't hear anythin' from them yet, Chris. When I called, they said it was still bein' worked on. I asked why the hell Amarillo could get me results and they couldn't and all I got was answers that didn't say anythin'. You know the kind."
"Yeah, I do. I better talk this over with Travis. Nate, what's your feel on the medical examiner in Amarillo, what was his name again, Metfield?"
"Robert Metfield? I didn't really meet him, Chris, only on the phone. But what I got I liked, a lot. He don't take crap and he's very, very thorough. Doesn't mind bending some protocols to get done what needs to be done."
"Sounds like he'd fit right into this team."
"Eh... Chris? I think he's over sixty."
"So? Do you think he'd be interested in a new position?"
"You know, I actually think he might be, he did grouse a lot 'bout how certain things go. Why? You want this team to have its own medical examiner now? Man, you don't think small, do you?"
"After the experiences with forensics in this case, I think we should have our own forensic team, with lab." Chris grinned at Nathan. "Hell yeah, I think great! I better, they are going to expect a lot from this team, Nate. I'll set up a meeting with Travis about this and I want you there as well. Now, get back in, Vin'll give you what we found. I need to leave for the press conference. JD, PAM!" he hollered. "One of you assists Vin with the hunt, the other is with me and takes his lap top and those damn pictures! Move!"
A few minutes later he was hurrying out of the building, Pam trailing behind him, burdened with her lap top and a bag full of papers.
+ + + + + + +
He hadn't done it after all, taken her right after she left her apartment building. Traffic had been too intense. Now he was sitting in a booth in the diner she worked in. A waitress, he hadn't expected her to be a waitress! Maybe she wasn't that good a prey after all, maybe he should first see if he could find the blond vision he had seen at the Street Mall yesterday. She had looked sophisticated, rich.
She came over to his table just then and with a smile he ordered a coffee and a sandwich. She smiled back, friendly as you please.
"Why does a nice young lady like you work in a diner?" he asked softly, as friendly as he could manage when she came with his order.
"Oh, but this is only to help me get through college," she beamed. "I only work the busy hours through diner time. After that I go to the library to study."
"Good for you. I hope you will make it through college," he told her. Oh yes, college girls were great prey! Their happy life on campus with all the student's fun, their enormous optimism about their future.... Yes, she would do perfectly!
"Why, thank you mister!" She looked so pleased at what he'd said and had practically danced away. Finally he had left, leaving her a generous tip and now he was waiting on a side street. It didn't matter, waiting was an important part of the hunt. Waiting and becoming inconspicuous to the prey.
He looked at his wrist watch. It was nearing five thirty. She would be busy at least two more hours, he knew after his little chat with her. He decided to wait inside the little pub that was right across the street from the diner.
There was nothing wrong in having some luxury during the waiting game....
Reporters, if he never saw one again in his entire life he would die a happy man, Chris vowed. My God, the things they could ask! No way did he see the relevance of him posing with the murderer's picture, sorry, alleged murderer. And what the hell was with the personal questions they tried to ask after everything had been covered about the killings, the type of victims and the suspect? As if his marital status had anything to do with this!
They even had asked him if, with this new unit having its base camp in Denver, he also lived here and if so, where exactly. Like he would ever tell them that! To have it splashed all over the television so every bad guy would know where to find him? Please!
Still fuming he marched out of the elevator and onto the twelfth floor of the unassuming federal building where they were housed. They had this whole floor at their disposal, but not everything was in use yet. Chris looked off to the left, where they had some empty offices and another big room, like the main office where his agents were housed. The bull pen as JD and Buck had immediately dubbed it. Made them feel more at home, they had stated when they decided to use the same nick name for this office as the office they'd had as an ATF team.
Instead of turning right, he turned left to those empty offices, completely surprising Pam who could barely jump out of his way in time. Oblivious to her, Chris walked on, throwing the door open to the empty space of the big one. He walked towards the middle of the room and looked around slowly.
It was big enough for a lab, he decided. Their own forensics lab. No more fights and hassles with DPD forensics or wherever they would find their new case. They could bring in their own team and have things done the way it should. With care and every eye for detail it needed.
Tomorrow he would take the idea to Travis. Nathan could support him with the story of their problems with forensics on this case. He'd better make Travis understand that he wanted the best for this, the very best! Cases could blow up in your face or be solved just depending on how good your forensic team was.
He had the feeling that the chief medical examiner from Amarillo, Metfield, would be just the one to head this part of MCAT. He liked what he'd heard about the man from Nathan and the way he'd immediately offered his help. Still, that was not a decision he was willing to make without meeting Metfield himself. Not where this was concerned and he was going to make it very clear to Travis that he wanted the last say on who would become their chief ME.
He was not going to sit back and have an unknown shoved into his face on this position, it was too important.
Anyway, all he could do was start this and put in his requests with Travis. He had a serial killer to catch first.
When he turned around he saw Pam standing in the doorway, looking at him with concern in her eyes. It immediately irritated him and without saying a word he brushed past her and went back to the more lively part of their floor.
Laughter emanated from behind the main office door. When Chris opened it, he instantly saw why. JD was simpering up to Nathan and asking him in a high pitched voice, "Mister Larabee, are you married?"
Nathan seemed to give himself extra height and put a furious scowl on his face before he answered, "What the hell has that to do with anything?"
"Yeah, JD, what the hell?" Chris asked in a lethal voice and the whole office fell silent.
JD turned a bright red and Nathan suddenly had a coughing fit.
"N... nothing Chris. We thought you handled that press conference really well," JD stammered. That for some reason made Nathan cough even harder and now Katrina suddenly seemed to be developing some kind of cold as well.
Before Chris could say something scathing to his unruly agents, Pam called out, "Oh look, a rerun! Now we can see it too, Chris." She hurried over to the television hanging from the ceiling in a corner and turned on the volume.
"Eh... Pam...," JD said lamely, but it was too late. There the press conference was, with Chris prominently in view. Even from where he stood, Chris could see his face was set in an angry scowl.
Damn, he hadn't been that bad, had he? He winced when he heard himself wipe the floor with a reporter who'd asked a particularly stupid question. Why wasn't that cut out? It had nothing to do with the real issue here! Just when the story ended with a prominent look at the pictures of their suspect and a very stringent warning for all blond haired women not to roam around without an escort the coming days, the phone in his office rang. Glad to escape the soft snickers of his team he hurried off.
He should have guessed it was Travis. "Have you seen the rerun of the six o' clock news, Chris?"
"Does the word 'tact' mean anything, anything at all to you?" Travis sounded annoyed, to put it mildly.
"I don't see why I should answer a bunch of dumb questions that don't have anything to do with the case."
"Yes, well, they loved it, they ate it up! Instead of cutting it out, they sure left in all your comments, didn't they?"
Chris sighed and fell into his chair. "Sorry, Orrin. They were really annoying. I needed to tell them about a serial killer, for Christ sake! That's a lot in my book, so why wasn't that enough for them? Why all those stupid questions about my private life? Anyway, I guess someone else better do it next time."
"I don't think so Chris. Apparently the public loved it and that means the networks love it to. I've been forwarded three requests for local talk shows already."
Oh my God! He really hated reporters!
"NO WAY!" he yelled and he'd almost slammed down the phone, before he realized he would be slamming it down on his boss. Travis' voice sounded very cool at the other end of the line.
"For a moment I thought you were going to hang up on me, Chris. I hope not even you would be that dumb. Anyway, I want you to think about it."
"Orrin, don't make me hang up for real. Entertaining wasn't part of the job description last time I looked."
"Chris, this could be a good thing."
"I'll send Josiah, that should be fun! He can give them lots of philosophical riffraff and one hour answers to their questions."
"It's you they want, Chris. You better think it over real hard. It's good to have a lot of exposure for this case, now that your team has found out who this killer is. You all did one hell of a job, again! But there is very little chance we will catch him here, in Denver, so this should go nation wide. I'm even thinking America's Most Wanted."
"I think we just better try and get him,'' Chris said belligerently. This conversation was really starting to piss him off all over again. "Since the moment we found out who he is, Vin has been out there doing his thing Orrin, so there is every chance we'll find him. You know he was one of the best bounty hunters around. I don't think he ever let anyone slip through."
"Chris, if you play it right, especially with the media interest, this could be good exposure for you! Strengthen your position as the commander of the MCAT unit."
There it was, politics. He knew it! Damn, he should've read the fine print on this job description. "Is my position in question, Orrin?" he asked, looking through the glass compartment between his office and the bull pen to where Reed was sitting.
"I already told you that not everyone was in favor of you leading this unit, Chris. And right now there are some questions raised about discipline in the team."
"Is that a fact?"
"Chris, aren't you taking this a bit lightly?"
"Oh, I'm not taking this lightly at all Orrin, you can count on that! I'm sorry, but I really have to go."
"I understand. Just catch this guy and Chris? The media might like the novelty of the way you handled this press conference for now, but I think a little tact would be a lot better in the long run. Will you please bear that in mind next time?"
Shit, now Orrin was talking about a next time as if it was a fact! He was sooo gonna set Josiah on them if there really came a 'next time'!
He had hardly slammed the receiver down when his cell phone rang.
"Larabee and this better be good, Buck!"
"Eh, how did you know it was me, sport?"
"Number display, Buck. You did hear of it? Just tell me something good!"
"Something good? Sorry, still hunting and driving all the cops crazy with sending them to every hotel, motel or whatever place we can think of that rents out rooms. I'm not that popular with the DPD anymore, stud. Anyway, just calling to congratulate you on your stunning press conference!"
Chris heard the laughter in his friend's voice and instantly resented it. "Buck...," he warned.
"No, no, really! The way you told those reporters that 'hell would freeze over' before you were going to answer a stupid question like what you thought about Denver, it was a joy...."
He did slam the phone down on his number three man.
+ + + + + + +
He couldn't believe it, he just couldn't believe it! One moment he was happily drinking his coffee, waiting for his prey to come out of the diner she worked in and the next moment he saw his face plastered all over the television in the bar he was waiting in! He'd hastily left and went back to his hotel. There he'd watched the rerun of the six o'clock news and it had left him cold!
His former name, his chosen identity, a picture and even where he'd come from, it was all there! Told by some man dressed in black he'd never ever seen in his life! How did he know all that? HOW? And so accurate?
The warning the man gave that all longhaired blondes with green eyes had better not venture out alone during the next days had been bad enough, but a deep rage started to burn inside him when he heard the guy call him names. He said things like 'insane maniac', 'bastard', even referred to him as a 'freak'. What really got to him though, was when this... this nobody told everyone that they figured out he was on some sort of rampage because he'd had a crush on a girl that didn't want him. 'Pathetic', this guy called him.
'Did you really think Stacey would want you, love you? God, Brad, you can be really pathetic.'
Then the laugher, HER laugher.... He knew it had been her fault all along, Josh...Josh had been a real friend until SHE came along....
God, and this guy looked like her! Look at that, blond hair, green eyes....
The man was looking straight in the camera, straight at him, when he told the world that he and his team were going to nail this sick, sorry excuse of a human being. By that time he had been screaming and raging against that arrogant son of a bitch who was ripping his life to shreds right there before his very eyes.
After the rerun he'd gone back to the diner, but what he'd feared had happened. Two young men had escorted his prey back to her car, looking around themselves constantly. One of them even got in with her and the other drove their own car behind them. He gave it up right then and there.
On his way back to his hotel room, he saw police officers coming out of another hotel, both carrying what looked like some piece of paper.
He was very careful when he entered the low priced, seedy hotel where he'd rented a room. It seemed that the police hadn't been there yet. Nonetheless, he didn't take any risk. He packed his bag, put his laptop in its casing, kept the tranq gun and his knife handy, and left.
He wasn't going to leave Denver though, not yet, he wanted revenge first. He needed revenge first. Revenge for the destruction of the life he had built so carefully.
+ + + + + + +
The best moment of the evening was when Josiah called from Litchfield Park. The profiler had had to bang on some doors to get his answers, but eventually he had been able to get a hold on the zoo director. Yes, they had had a Josh LaPlant work for them as a Hospital Keeper about eight years ago. The young man had started to work on everyone's nerves, so when the Zoo Hospital needed a reorganization, he had been fired.
"The only thing they could never fault him for, was his care and devotion to the animals. They found him odd, though. The zoo director couldn't really pin it down on anything, but he told me that some of the girls felt really uneasy with him around."
"Did they know where he went?"
"Not really. But the director remembered how one of the Veterinary Assistants talked to a VA from another zoo on a conference. It seems they really hit it off, started gossiping about the people they worked with and the VA found out that Josh was working at the zoo where this other VA came from. We have called him and he remembered it. Said it was four years ago, a conference in 2001 and that his colleague came from the Saint Louis Zoo. Chris, the director will have his administrative staff go through all the records and see if they can come up with his social security number, but he thinks the chances are not that good. The Saint Louis Zoo might still have it on record somewhere though."
"Yeah, or the zoo in the last place he was. It's a safe bet with all we know now that he's been working there as well. I'll tell Vin and Ezra to go for it. You coming back? They might need the jet to go there tomorrow."
"Yes, we are on our way to the airport right now and will come back immediately. Chris, you sound tired. Is something wrong?"
"Nah. Let's just get this bastard."
He warned Vin and Ezra that approaching the zoos would probably get them this guy, only to find that they were already on it.
"We'll have his social security number tomorrow Chris and then we'll be able to track him to where he lives now," Vin said confidentially.
"And what car he drives," Ezra added, putting down his phone while glaring at it.
"Credit cards won't take long after that either." Vin again. "We'll have him in no time."
"Let's just hope we were on time to keep him from getting another victim, that's my main worry now."
"I would also worry about that Chris," Ezra sighed, nodding towards the television screen. The sound was off, but they had the TV itself on constantly now and that had given them a very nasty surprise. A special had been sent out about the commander of the brand new crime fighting unit that was the government's latest idea to fight terrorism and organized crime. It had been all about Chris and it hadn't been very flattering.
"Yeah, well. I do wonder how they got all that stuff on me so fast. Bastards! Time to do something back!"
"Chris, how ever would you want to take on these journalists?" Ezra asked seriously, swiveling his chair so he could face Chris more easily. "We could sue for misinformation for what they told the public about the year after Sarah and Adam died. They paint you as a dangerous drunk and that is simply not true. But the allegations of misusing your position in the ATF will be harder to countereffect, after all you seldom worked strictly by the book of rules and regulations. I strongly advise against you just go and attack them."
"What I really want is a way to make them stop making public where I live and where our office is, Ezra. The worst is that they're advertising where Linda lives as well. Have those Marshalls already arrived to protect her?"
"They'll be there soon, Chris," Vin assured him.
"Anyway, I wasn't talking about the journalists," Chris said softly, his eyes going to Sam Reed, who was trying to hide a very smug smile ever since the special had hit the screen. "Reed? Inside."
Chris? You think he got anything to do with it?
You think he has the resources? How?
Just watch your back, Vin.
Shit! You think he's more than a spy for the brass!
Chris didn't answer, all he had were his thoughts and that just wasn't enough to go and make accusations. He was going to let them know he was on to their game though. Maybe that would have them show their hand somehow. While he was on his way to the office, he saw from the corner of his eye that Ezra was having another animated phone call.
Once inside his office he told Reed softly, "That was very stupid, Sam. Giving that information to the media also jeopardized a civilian. You should have left Linda Dubois out of it!"
"What are you talking about?" Reed smirked. "I can't help it if reporters do their job. I don't know why they would be interested in you, but hey, it has nothing to do with me!"
"Pack your stuff and get out, you are no longer part of this team."
"WHAT? You can't do that! I have a right to a full six month trial period and it's only been about two months! Just because some reporter found out all your dirty little secrets and about your private whore doesn't mean...."
He didn't get to finish his sentence, because Chris had slammed him against the wall, arm almost crushing his throat. Chris waited until Reed's lips started to turn blue and there was real panic in the man's eyes before releasing him. While Reed was coughing and trying to get oxygen back in his starved lungs, he quickly took the man's weapon.
"Give me your badge and cell phone and get out," he said softly when Reed was finally recovered. "Now!"
The look in Reed's eyes was one of pure hate. Then he threw his badge and phone on the ground and stormed out. Chris pushed a hand through his hair and sighed. The damage was done, but at least he'd let them know he wouldn't take anything else from them.
Now he had a difficult phone call to make. He didn't think Linda would take kindly to having some Marshalls stationed at her ranch.
+ + + + + + +
"Chris Larabee," he whispered, watching the big screen television. He was glad that he'd broken into this abandoned home with the idea to watch the television for more news. It was why he'd caught onto the special that one of the regional networks was running on the man who had shattered his life.
With addresses and all!
Now he was watching the rerun of the special. It was a bit modified, he saw with regret. The first one had pictured Larabee as a drunk and a loose canon who should never have been given his own ATF team after a year of drunken debauchery. So why would this man now lead a new special task force that was given much more power than any other agency currently existing? They had also had some FBI agent, Sanders or Saunders or something, complaining about Larabee and his gang busting in on a highly sensitive FBI investigation concerning bombs and hits on judges.
The rerun had a high police officer denying the allegations of drunkenness and telling whoever was interviewing him a sad story of a man grieving for the death of his family, complete with some pictures of that heartbreaking happening eight years ago. It was sickening! They also had some ATF agent telling them that Larabee's team had had the best arrest results of all the ATF teams there were, which made Larabee and his team the perfect choice for this new unit. And that case the FBI agent had been bitching about now got a whole follow up on it's own as the first success story of this new MCAT unit. It seemed that they were the ones responsible for apprehending the snipers that had been taking out judges all through Denver only last week and they even had saved the life of the Governor of Colorado.
He definitely preferred the first version! It didn't matter though. It still showed the ranch high up in the mountains where Larabee lived and even better, it showed where the beautiful blonde woman lived he had spotted on Tuesday.
Unbelievable that she turned out to be Larabee's whore! He wanted her now more than ever!
But even more than that he wanted revenge, revenge on the man who had ruined his perfect life. He would have to forge a new identity for himself and who said he would be able to take one that would still allow him to work at a zoo?
He needed to work with animals, he would die if he couldn't do that.
Damn, the live images they had of the ranch of that blonde whore just showed a police car coming up. He could forget her for the time being. Again he looked at the addresses he'd scribbled down. If the police were up there with his bitch, wouldn't that mean that Larabee himself was still in Denver, working? Here, in this government building they had identified on the television as being the one that housed the new unit?
Yes, he was going to start there. Larabee would probably not be in it now, but he would surely turn up in the morning. That would give him time to scout this new hunting ground.
He smiled and went to check his tranq gun.
"I don't know how you did it, but thanks," Chris told Ezra first thing Thursday morning. He had seen the rerun of the special on him and the new additions late Wednesday evening. In fact, Vin had dragged him out of his office to see it. He also had seen the satisfied look on Ezra's face. With Josiah coming in at that moment he'd had no time to talk to Ezra about it last night, but he'd asked the Southerner to come into his office this morning. Vin was there as well.
Ezra smiled and tipped two fingers at an imaginary hat. "I merely provided the network with some additional information," he said modestly. "Their journalistic values made them do the rest."
"Oh, sure! I heard you threatenin' their director with disclosure of some of his, what ya called it? Yeah, his finer hobbies," Vin smirked.
"Aah, well, that.... Just a friendly conversation about what constitutes for a reputable pastime."
Chris and Vin grinned at him and Ezra gave them a benign smile back. Then both Vin and Ezra looked at Chris, now very serious.
"Chris, why did you cast Reed out of our midst just like that, after seeing this program about you?" Ezra asked.
Chris sighed and looked at Vin. Then he looked back at Ezra and shrugged. "There was a lot of inside information in that program, Ezra."
Ezra whistled softly. "You think he was the original source of information towards the network! He was a very obnoxious man, but would he go that far?"
"He's been trying from the start to give me or Vin a bad rep, wanted to have one of us look incompetent."
"The entire office noticed that, Chris. We perceived he was trying for one of your jobs. Our bet was that his best chance would be Vin, I do not see how he would ever have made it to being commander."
"Great, thanks Ez! Feels real good you thought he might manage to take my job!"
"Ah, but even that would have been a very slim chance! Chris wouldn't have wanted him as his captain, we all knew that. And I think he knew it as well. So why try? It was why we thought it was more the character of the beast, if you will forgive my imagery."
Vin looked at Chris. "Ez is right, Cowboy. You would've kept him from getting my job, but I can't see him getting a shot at unit commander either. So what was he playin'? He did try to undermine us both at every opportunity!"
"I don't think he was expecting to get the job for himself," Chris said softly. "And I think unit commander would work best for them, although they could work with a captain in here as well."
"Put in their own man?" Ezra whistled. "Someone wanted his own man to lead this team. Oh yes, the politics that were the very reason to form this unit in the first place, a unit that would be able to work outside of that political red tape that is hampering so much in this great nation, is already at work to get a stranglehold on it." His eyes were actually gleaming and he started to rub his hands. "So one of the founders, as I so lovingly like to call them, would prefer to have control of this unit. Well, then I had better find out who is the one who brought Sam Reed into this unit."
"I already asked Travis," Chris told them. He was staring at his desk and playing with his pen.
"Chris?" When he looked up Vin was staring at him, hard. Chris looked back and finally he sighed.
"CASSIE," he admitted. The two kept looking at each other and then Vin nodded.
"Makes lots of sense. Hell, Chris...."
"You two do know that this is very rude, don't you?" Ezra asked, clearly not amused. "Perhaps I should point out that secrets shared are the least dangerous ones for those who know those secrets?"
Chris and Vin looked at each other again. Then Chris nodded. "Alright," he said softly. "I don't like spouting accusations without proof, but since Vin now knows it as well and you're good at these devious schemes, I'll tell you. I think CASSIE is the main reason they want someone in."
"CASSIE," Ezra repeated carefully, raising one eyebrow.
"Ezra, CASSIE can get into anything, any government program or database we want! You two really should listen to JD a bit more."
Vin snorted and Ezra rolled his eyes.
"It can even get into the witness protection program," Chris told them softly. "I made JD put a lock on that immediately, but I think with him and Pam at the wheel, CASSIE can find out almost anything, given some more time. Military data as well."
"I can see why that is of some benefit to the right kind of unscrupulous individuals," Ezra said thoughtfully. "I don't like the implications of all this, Chris."
Chris sighed and nodded.
"Anyway, I've got a meeting with Travis and you two have to find a serial killer. The rest has to wait. This as well, Ezra!"
+ + + + + + +
The parking garage was ideal to hide in. Good, because if his prey came out, it would be to take his car. He would be on police business or whatever this new unit would call it, or he would be on the way to his ranch or his bitch's ranch. And for both he would need his car.
He had his own old and beat down vehicle hidden further away. The first leg of the journey would have to be in his victim's car. If only he could find out which one it was, but that had not been in the programs he had found and watched about his prey. It also hadn't been on the internet, where he'd found a surprising amount of detail about this Larabee. Very up to date as well. It had made him wonder for a moment, but frankly he didn't care how all this information about someone leading a high profile law enforcement unit had become available on the net. He just cared for what he could use.
At least he had a really great view of the elevator from his chosen hiding place. He would follow his prey to his car and then make the kill. Keeping his hand on his tranq gun and on something else he had pursued late last night, he settled in to wait.
+ + + + + + +
"Josiah! You're back!"
"So I am, friend Nathan, so I am. We landed yesterday evening, rather late I might add and had a meeting with Chris, Vin and Ezra. After a nice argument, Vin managed to persuade Kelli to go with me for a good night sleep in my guest room and Paul went home. He's gone with Justin to take over for Buck and Mark with the DPD and Kelli is eh... in conclave with Vin at the moment. And what are you up to? You seem to have developed a heavy case of the right kind of suit. With tie!"
"Shut up, J'siah. Where's Chris? We're supposed to meet Travis."
"Really? What about?"
"I guess it was set as an update, but Chris got this idea we should have our own forensics team and medical examiner. Wants me along to tell Travis about the trouble we had with forensics on this case." The big black medic threw himself in the chair opposite Josiah's desk and started fidgeting with his tie. He didn't mind looking presentable at all, but he did mind ties.
"So how's little Adam? Didn't you miss him terribly?"
"We do have a jet, Nathan and it was only for one day. And evening. And the five quarters after midnight before I finally made it home. But who's counting?" Josiah grinned. "He and Mal are fine, Nate. It's Joanne that worries me a little at the moment. She kept away from Adam from the beginning and she still does. She's also angry." Josiah heaved a deep sigh and shook his head. "It seems that she is developing a big case of jealousy. Luckily she doesn't take it out on Adam, but she is mad at Mallory every time Mal picks him up. It's hard on Mal and had better not take too long."
"Damn," Nathan sighed. "Maybe Rain and me shouldn't wait too long if we want a second child. Sarah seemed to have no trouble with the coming of Maria at all, but then she was only one at the time. Maybe she was too young to realize it was competition. And in all the books I've read about children, they are developing territorial behavior around the age of two. So it might be smart to have the second one before that happens."
Josiah's booming laugh rolled through the office.
"What?" Nathan asked a bit peeved. "What's funny about that?"
"The fact that you think you can predict a child's behavior, brother! From books! So, how is Rain? When is her next check up?"
Nathan smiled happily. "She is doing so great, J'siah. She's positively radiant! I'm so glad she didn't have the trouble with morning sickness Mal and Inez had. It's as if she is even fitter than before her pregnancy. And she is so beautiful."
"That she is brother, that she is."
"NO! Linda, I'm not calling them off! Damn it, woman, don't you get it? That guy Kelli spotted eyeing you, that really was the serial killer! And now your address was all over the god damn TV!"
Chris stopped his march when he was close to Nathan and Josiah and rolled his eyes at his two friends. 'Women', he mimicked at them silently. Josiah and Nathan looked at each other and couldn't help grinning. It was just so good to see Chris all fired up about a woman, ev
n if she made him fume in anger as well.
"WHAT?" Chris shouted just then. "NO, I WON'T TELL THEM THAT! LINDA! NO, LIKE IN N-O! NO! STAY PUT!"
He looked in helpless rage at his cell phone and then at the two men in front of him. "She hung up," he told them.
The two friends couldn't help it, they burst out laughing. Chris glared at them, which only set them off again. Two heads peeked out of the door to the smallest of the conference rooms. Since Mark had likened the biggest one to a war room, no one on the team used the name conference room anymore. War room it was from then on for the biggest and the small one had been dubbed the Conflict room, although Buck had suggested another name in honor of the captain and his wife. Both heads had very tousled hair and kiss swollen lips, proving Buck's point.
"What's going on?" Kelli asked suspiciously. "Chris, did Linda give you a hard time again? You want me to call her and give her some hard truths?"
"No, no Kel, it's alright. She did agree to stay at the ranch after all. Well, in a way."
Vin grinned, Chris scowled at him and suddenly Vin was doubled over in laughter. "She... she didn't," he gasped.
"Hey, we're here as well," Josiah told the two friends mildly.
"She... she...," Vin lost it again. All heads in the bull pen were now turned towards Chris, who started to fidget.
"If you have to know, she wanted me to tell the Marshalls to take her shopping. Said she would be safe with them around and they could help her carry." Everyone started to laugh until Chris put his hand in the air, waving for silence.
"She also said she was certain that if she didn't go and do something, no one would think about Inez's birthday, including Buck. Which, by the way is next Tuesday."
The new agents all laughed again, until they noticed that the old team seven members suddenly looked very somber.
"We DON'T want Buck forgetting her birthday again," JD said emphatically. "No way!"
"Last year was awful," Josiah agreed.
"Remember how she wouldn't eh... talk... to him for two whole weeks?" Nathan added somberly. "It was hell for Buck not to get any... talking."
"Yeah, and that meant hell for us as well," Vin sighed. "Nope, we don't want that again!"
Five heads nodded emphatically.
"Think of something then. Buck's asleep in the lounge room at the moment, he and Mark had a rough night of it, but make sure you hammer it in about Inez's birthday the moment he wakes up. Nate, let's go. And leave that tie alone!"
Nathan looked at Josiah before standing up and shook his head sadly. Chris was in a real foul mood.
+ + + + + + +
That mood wasn't any better when the two men came back about an hour later. Chris' face looked like a thundercloud and Nathan looked very put upon.
"Travis didn't agree with the idea of a forensic team?" Josiah asked when Nathan had settled himself behind his desk and was viciously yanking his tie off.
"Oh no, he loved it. There was some entanglement 'bout the fact that Chris wants that ME from Amarillo, but he even gave on that point. Then he started 'bout Reed, 'bout the fact that Chris had thrown him out and that Chris really didn't need to anger the upstairs brass any further after the stuff on TV about him. That nonsense even made me mad, I can tell ya! Do you know why Chris threw Reed out?"
"Because the man is a disruptive force to the team, something we can't use on a sensitive case like this? But what are you talking about, stuff on the television? Did Chris make a big asshole of himself during the press conference? I know he was going to warn the public about this killer."
"Oh, he was a complete ass, you gotta see it to believe it, J'siah! Don't worry, I immediately called Rain and made her tape the rerun, this just had to be saved for the next generation! I can see some happy future family moments with playing that tape," Nathan grinned. "The public loved it though, so the networks did too. At least, I think they did, Travis started on some offers from networks who wanted Chris on a talk show. Chris got mad and then the stuff about Reed started. Nope, what was bad was some documentary that one of the nets did on him, real personal stuff and at first all negative. They changed it for the rerun and some other network made a whole different piece, but those accusations of Chris being a drunk will keep hanging I'm afraid."
"A documentary? On Chris? He must have hated that! Why did they make one?"
"Oh, come on! This unit is something really new, you didn't expect them to ignore more info about it, did you? Even if it was focused on the unit commander? Besides, it turns out Linda is rather well known in society. Seems the Dubois family is old money, so to speak, high rollers in the racing world. The media ate it up, them two together. Yep, Chris is getting to be quite a celebrity all on his own."
"He will hate that," Josiah sighed. "And Linda is jet set? Poor Chris.... So, do we get Reed back now?"
"Nope, Chris told Travis that Reed was the leak of information about him. Then there was a whole argument 'bout evidence and finally Chris told Travis he would appreciate it if he was allowed to do his job and if not, Travis could have his badge right then and there."
"Travis told him in very plain English Chris had better not use threats on him again and that was the end of the meet. Next time YOU go with him! But I think we'll get our own forensics team and our own lab."
"Well, thank God for small favors."
Just then Chris came storming out of his office. "Josiah, hurry up! They found the hotel room where he's been! He's gone, but maybe we can find something. I want you along to see if something there can tell you more about him. Vin, are you and Ezra any closer to tracking him down?"
"Waiting for some phone calls right now, Cowboy. I'm only waitin' for what 'll come in first, those phone calls or Ez with coffee, bagels and rolls from the nearest Starbucks," Vin told him. "Said he was in dire need of some real quality."
"That's Ezra. Phone me the moment you have something!"
The two friends looked at each other and finally Chris nodded.
Don't worry, Vin. I'll relax, promise.
+ + + + + + +
He didn't like it. This was taking a lot longer than he'd anticipated. He'd expected Larabee coming out of hiding and running around the city hours ago. Was that man like some spider in his web, having his agents do all the foot work?
I should just blow this place, he thought angrily, looking upwards to the ceiling. There, somewhere above him, they were all busy tearing his life apart. Yes, he should bomb the building! Maybe he would anyway, after he'd killed the leader of the pack.
He squirmed around a bit until he was comfortable again. A chime alerted him that the elevator had arrived and he readied himself, just in case. Like he had done dozens of times before, every time for nothing.
Oh my God, it was him! Yes, blond, green eyed... it was him! Together with an older man who shouldn't be a problem. Grinning he fingered his newest weapon. Nope, that guy shouldn't be a problem at all!
Following the two was easy as you please, slipping from car to car, unseen, undetected. Stalking his unsuspecting prey, hand ready on his weapon of choice. First the blond, then the older one. There, that black RAM, was that where they were going?
Yes, yes they were! And no one else was around!
He slipped closer, tranq gun ready now. Which was a good thing, because suddenly the blond one, the one he wanted, whipped around, eyes searching. The grey haired one said something, but the blond shook his head and put his hand inside his coat.
Instinct warned him to shoot, shoot now and he did. The dart bore itself in the blond's arm just when the hand came back out of the coat, holding a gun. His prey choked out a cry and the gun fell on the floor. When the older guy yelled something and ran around the car to help, he shot another dart in his prey's leg. He dropped the tranq gun and hurriedly brought out his new weapon. With a soft plop his gun with silencer sent a bullet straight in the unimportant one's chest.
With satisfaction he saw the big, grey haired man go down. The cry of anguish coming from his prey was even better. Slowly sliding down the car, eyes on his dying companion, the blond man cried out again, something that sounded like a name.
He smirked and stood up. The prey tried to lunge for the gun on the floor, but by now the sedative was working. Even if he got his hand around the gun, he would never be able to lift it up in time. See? He was already there and with ease he kicked the gun out of his prey's hand. He turned the still weakly struggling body over and searched it quickly for the car keys. His prey had been standing at the driver's door, which told him he was the one with the right key.
Yes, there it was.
Five minutes later he was roaring out of the parking garage, his prey bundled up on the back seat, hands hastily tied up. He would do a better job of it once he had reached his own car and made the switch. For now his prey was out and would stay out for several hours. At least. Long enough to prepare him for further treatment in his chosen place.