Shield of Justice
See part 1 for all disclaimers and copyright information.
Rebecca was awakened by a relentless pain in her left side. She shifted carefully on the office couch and reached between her body and Catherine to reposition her shoulder holster against her rib cage. Her watch showed that it was nearly 3A.M. Her head ached and her body felt empty -- drained of all emotion or energy. She realized she hadn’t eaten since early the previous morning. She knew that that combined with sleep deprivation was sapping her strength. Still, she forced herself upright and swung her legs to the floor.
"What are you doing?" Catherine asked sleepily, curling her body against Rebecca’s back and stroking her softly.
"There are things I need to do that can’t wait," Rebecca said quickly. "Can you sleep here the rest of the night? I’ll swing by and pick you up in the morning."
Catherine shook the sleep from her head and thought for a moment.
"I have to be back here for rounds at 9 o’clock. Can you be here at six-thirty?"
"Yes. Lock the door when I leave and don’t open it until you hear my voice. And don’t answer the phone!"
"But what if he calls again?"
"Then he’ll have to wait. I don’t want anyone to know you’re here alone," Rebecca replied angrily.
"Yes, I see. Of course." Catherine sat up beside Rebecca and met her steel gaze. "I’ll do exactly as you say. Please don’t worry about me tonight."
Rebecca’s face softened suddenly, and she bent forward to kiss Catherine. "Thanks. I know it’s hard being ordered around --"
Catherine stopped her with a gentle hand to her lips. "Nonsense. In these matters, you’re the expert and I trust you."
Rebecca reached for Catherine’s hand, squeezed it quickly, and pulled her to her feet.
"Come lock the door behind me."
"Be careful," Catherine whispered as the door closed firmly. She stood motionless for some moments, listening as Rebecca’s footsteps echoed down the empty corridor. The room suddenly felt chilly and she pulled her raincoat from the rack behind the door and threw it around her shoulders. She was worried, and she knew she had good reason to be. Rebecca was in far more danger than she was at the moment. Catherine was only too aware of how quickly reflexes and thought processes could be impaired by fatigue and stress. She fought the anxiety, knowing she could not influence Rebecca’s behavior -- that, in fact, Rebecca was behaving in the only way she could under these circumstances. Once again, understanding was small comfort. She sighed deeply, pulled the coat tighter around her shoulders, and resigned herself to wait out the rest of the night on her own therapy couch.
Rebecca slowly cruised the streets of the tenderloin. Even at this hour -- the darkest, loneliest part of the night -- there were people about on the streets. The vagrants were all tucked away in their cubby holes, in doorways or on subway grates, covered with bits of carpet or old clothes, their possessions gathered under their arms for safety. But there were still a few prostitutes huddled in pairs or leaning singly against storefronts, hoping for one more trick before morning. And cars continued to cruise by, the drivers faces were cast in shadow as they surveyed the possibility of a quick antidote to their loneliness. Rebecca circled the six-block area several times until she finally saw her. Standing alone in the archway of an adult bookstore, her long legs bare to mid-thigh despite the cold. Rebecca pulled her car to the curb and rolled the passenger window down. The girl had looked up as the car pulled over, and her look of anticipation quickly turned to dismay as she recognized Rebecca.
"Oh man! Can’t you leave me alone? You’re gonna ruin my business!"
"Get in," Rebecca said, pushing the curbside door open.
"Uh-uh. No way. You don’t have nothing on me --"
"Do you want to talk to me in here, or should I come out and walk around the streets with you a while?"
"Oh Jesus! I don’t need this!" she swore as she quickly crossed the pavement and slid into the small bucket seat.
"Put your seatbelt on," Rebecca said as she pulled away from the curb.
Sandy snorted in disgust. "If you cared so much about my well-being, you’d stay the fuck away from me. People down here start thinking I’m a snitch, I could get hurt."
"What people?" Rebecca said nonchalantly, her eyes on the road.
"Just people. And, besides, I don’t have any tips for you. Nobody knows nothing about no kiddie racket -- or if they do, they aren’t telling me."
Rebecca’s head turned slightly and her eyes met those of the young girl beside her. The eyes that looked back were the eyes of the street, bitter and old.
"It’s not about the chicken business."
Sandy looked surprise for an instant, but quickly recovered with an expression of disinterest.
Rebecca nodded. "A hooker was found dead last night. Her body was found at the Old Vic. Young girl, about thirteen."
Sandy feigned indifference. "So? It isn’t the first time. She OD’d or what?"
Rebecca shook her head. "Looks like the john did it." She looked directly at Sandy as she said, "I don’t want it to happen again. I want this guy -- and I need help."
Sandy remained silent, looking down at her hands, unconsciously picking at a broken nail.
"Sometimes ya can’t tell, ya know? A guy looks like Mr. Straightsville, and the next thing you know, he wants you to tie him up or let him piss in your mouth. It happens. You try to be careful, but sometimes you just can’t tell." Her voice was flat as she spoke, and she didn’t raise her head.
"I know. That’s why I’m telling you -- be careful. And tell the other girls, too. I can’t give you anything on him. I don’t have anything."
Sandy raised her head defiantly. "And if you did, you wouldn’t tell us any how, would you? Afraid we’d scare him off."
Rebecca shrugged. "Probably not," she said, and wondered if it were true. "Try to find out if any of the other girls have noticed anyone particularly strange lately -- probably fairly young, late twenties, maybe likes ass fucking."
"Yeck," Sandy said. "Most girls stay away from that. Depends on how much, you know. Some’ll do anything for the right price."
"Yeah, well, see if you can turn up anything."
"And if I don’t feel like it?"
"You keep testing, don’t you? Then, I’ll start visiting you every day, out in public, like you’re my new sweetheart."
Sandy sighed. "Had to ask."
"Right," Rebecca said as she pulled the car to the curb. "Go home, Sandy. You’re not gonna retire on what you’ll make the rest of the night."
As she pulled away she watched the girl in her rear view mirror
as she slowly wandered off into the cheerless night.
Rebecca returned to her apartment shortly before 5 A.M. The first thing to greet her besides the stale air of a space left too long undisturbed was a pile of junk mail that had been pushed under her door. She kicked it aside and went straight for the kitchen. She emptied the grounds from the basket of her coffee maker and ran water into the appliance. She found half a pound of espresso in the freezer and measured out enough for four cups. She left the coffee brewing and headed for the bathroom. Her jacket and slacks would have to go to the cleaners. They looked like they’d been slept in, she thought ruefully. She laid her gun on the toilet tank, threw her underwear at the over-flowing hamper and turned on the shower. She stood under the pulsing stream for a long time before she lifted her arms to lather some shampoo into her hair. With her eyes closed against the frothing suds, she recalled random images. The dead girl in the hotel room; Jeff lying so quietly on his side, just a trickle of blood behind his ear—like reruns of bad movies. And then she thought of Catherine -- serious when discussing a patient, soothingly gentle when Rebecca came to her exhausted in body and soul, vibrant in the throes of passion.
Rebecca’s mind rebelled against reason and caution. Catherine could be in danger from this psycho. Rebecca wanted him, no matter what it cost. She twisted the knobs viciously and stepped from the shower, gasping at the chill in the room. Her face in the mirror above the sink appeared lined with fatigue, but her eyes were clear and hard with determination. He had made a mistake killing that hooker. Rebecca had one tiny thread to grasp now, and she would follow it wherever it led until she could get a bigger piece and then another until all the pieces came together.
"I’m coming for you," she whispered into the stillness of the room. "Oh, yes, you fucker, I’m coming."
Refreshed from her shower, Rebecca drove quickly through the empty streets, just ahead of the rush hour traffic. The medical center, as always, was alive with activity, and she was forced to circle the block several times before she found a parking space near Catherine’s office. She hurried through the deserted hallways, anxious to reach Catherine. Her knock was answered immediately. Catherine, looking rumpled and weary, greeted her with a smile.
"You have no business looking so damn good when I know you haven’t slept all night," Catherine said, relieved to see that Rebecca, although obviously tired, seemed alert and controlled. She reached for Rebecca’s hand and pulled her into the room. Impulsively she kissed her, slipping her arms around her waist.
"I’m glad you’re here," Catherine sighed, not adding that she was also relieved to find her safe.
Rebecca held her gently for a moment, savoring the nearness of her. She felt somehow anchored in Catherine’s presence, as if there actually were someplace where the world had meaning. Here, in this woman’s embrace, Rebecca felt at home.
"Are you all right?" Rebecca said at length, not loosening her hold, not wanting the moment to pass.
"I’ve had better nights," Catherine said, her head resting on Rebecca’s shoulder, "but the morning looks pretty good right now."
Rebecca grinned at the woman’s resiliency, hugged her briefly and stepped back. "I’d better get you home."
Catherine nodded resolutely and moved away to gather her briefcase and papers.
As Rebecca maneuvered her car through the now congested streets, her mind returned to the case. She was desperately trying to weave a tapestry from an assortment of disconnected threads. Somewhere there was a pattern, some detail, she had overlooked or failed to recognize that would begin to make a whole of the scattered pieces. Catherine recognized the distant look in Rebecca’s eyes and left her alone with her thoughts. She was startled when Rebecca’s voice broke the stillness.
"How is Janet Ryan doing?"
"Physically she’s making good progress. She would actually be ready for discharge if it weren’t for her psychological state. She’s still terrified, and the assault has triggered flashbacks which are difficult for her to deal with now."
"Flashbacks?" Rebecca queried.
"Traumatic events will often provoke memories of similar occurrences in an individual’s past," Catherine answered, intentionally avoiding making direct reference to Janet’s specific case.
"Similar occurrences," Rebecca echoed. "Like rape?"
"Sometimes," Catherine stated.
Rebecca’s jaw tightened, a sign Catherine was coming to recognize as Rebecca’s response to anger. She waited, knowing that Rebecca would continue when her feelings were once again manageable.
"No wonder Janet can’t remember what happened out there," Rebecca said, her voice carefully concealing the rage she felt at the brutality visited on so many women by this maniac. Her fingers tightened on the wheel, the only sign of her inner turmoil. She had to remain objective if she hoped to stop him. She would somehow have to view this as just another case.
"Would she be able to look at a police sketch of a possible suspect?" Rebecca asked.
Catherine considered her answer carefully.
"I’m not sure," she answered truthfully. "Janet feels a tremendous responsibility to remember what she saw. That kind of pressure can actually make it more difficult for the amnesia victim to regain their memory for the event. I’d like to reserve judgment on that until I can speak with her again. Can you give me until tonight?"
"Do I have a choice?" Rebecca said, her frustration evident.
"Rebecca," Catherine responded cautiously, "your responsibilities and mine don’t have to be at odds here. I know you need Janet’s statement, and believe me, I want to see this man caught as much as you do. I simply can’t place her in psychological jeopardy to do that."
"Even if it means another woman is raped and murdered?"
"Even then, Rebecca," Catherine answered quietly.
Rebecca heard the pain in Catherine’s voice and knew suddenly how agonizing that decision was for Catherine.
"I’m sorry," she said, reaching across the seat to grasp Catherine’s hand.
"Don’t be. You have to use everything you can to put an end to this madness. And I have to take care of the people who put their trust in me."
And now those people include me, Rebecca thought.
Rebecca followed Catherine silently to the steps of her building, searching the streets for any sign of someone who seemed out of place. The sidewalks were crowded with people hurrying to work, but no one took particular notice of them.
"Let me have your key," Rebecca said at the top of the steps, her eyes scanning the heavy oak door for signs of tampering. She led the way inside and made a quick search of the rooms, checking the windows and patio as she went. Satisfied that everything was in order, she turned to face Catherine.
"You can go ahead and change; I’ll wait."
Catherine smiled at her, appreciating once again the presence of this intense, driven woman in her life, wishing she could somehow reach into that barricaded soul and comfort her. Instead she contented herself with a soft kiss, rewarded by the instant melding of Rebecca’s lean body against her own. In this way at least Catherine knew she could reach her, and she accepted sadly that for now that was all she could do.
Rebecca arrived at the station just after nine A.M. and was surprised to find Watt’s already at his desk, nursing a hot cup of coffee and a danish. He looked up when Rebecca sat down across from him with her own caffeine infusion.
His eyes scanned her face, giving no indication that he noticed the dark circles under her eyes or the fatigue lines etched in her finely chiseled features. Nor did he comment on the slight tremor in the long fingers that held the paper cup of coffee.
"Everything okay with the shrink?"
Rebecca looked for some hidden meaning behind his words but was met with his usual blank stare.
"Yes." She turned to the pile of papers on her desk in an effort to avoid conversation.
"I think it’s about time we went over what we got and figure out where to go from here before this creep bangs another broad."
Rebecca stared at him, astonishment evident on her face. She leaned forward on her elbows, and said softly, "Watts, you are a crude bastard, and I don’t give a good goddamn what you think. I’m in charge here, and we’ll do things my way."
Watts simply shrugged. "Don’t think the Captain’s as patient as I am. He wants a status report so he can meet with the media this morning."
"Shit, just what we need. More media people nosing around." She looked at Watts and had the feeling they finally agreed on something. "Did the artist get anything out of Bailey’s description?"
Watts grimaced. "It’s pretty general, but I’m having copies run off and distributed to all the precincts."
Rebecca was surprised, as she always was, when she discovered that Watts was actually thinking about his work.
She stood abruptly. "Come on, let’s get out of here."
Watts raised an eyebrow. "What about the Captain?"
"We can’t give him a status report if we’re not here. And then the media won’t have anything to tip our boy off with. Who knows what little tidbit might send him under cover?"
Watts grunted noncommittally, but he rose to his feet to follow her, grabbing a stack of photocopied sketches as he went.
He handed the police sketch to Rebecca as they pulled away from the station. She glanced at it quickly and felt her hopes plummet when she saw how nonspecific the rendering was.
"Just what we need," she sighed. "Everyman."
"Yeah," Watts agreed. "Ain’t life a bitch."
Rebecca ignored him, her mind sifting through possible courses of action, trying to come up with something they had failed to do.
"Have the homicide boys come up with any assaults or murders of prostitutes that might tie in with this case?"
Watts pulled out his tattered notebook and made an entry. "I don’t know. I’ll check it out. I suppose we ought to start interviewing all the hookers and find out if anybody knows anything."
"I’m working on that. Leave a bunch of those fliers in the back. For what it’s worth, I’ll hand them around."
"Yeah, and tell them about his bag of tricks."
"What did you say?" Rebecca asked quickly.
"You know, his gym bag. Maybe if they can’t remember his face, they’ll remember the bag."
"Or what he brings in the bag," Rebecca mused. "Watts, all three victims on the drive have been runners, all wearing running shorts. The dead prostitute was found with running shorts that she wasn’t wearing when she went upstairs with him. Maybe he needs them to get turned on."
"Yeah, well, I’ve heard of weirder stuff, but so what. You want we should put out a bulletin that no broads wear shorts outside the house?"
Rebecca sighed. "No, but at least I can get the word out on the streets. Maybe one of the girls will know something."
Watts grunted. "We don’t even know for sure it’s the same guy. We won’t have a DNA match for another week. Could be we’re chasing our tails for nothing."
"Right now we don’t have anything else to chase," Rebecca replied
Rebecca dropped Watts off to follow up on one of their other open cases and tracked down the homicide detectives working on Jeff’s murder. They were obviously hassled, but they took the time to fill her in. They had no new leads, but the rumor on the streets was that Jeff’s undercover man was getting too close to a major crime lord and that the two men were executed as a warning. A warning to both the police and anyone who might be thinking of providing the police with information.
She thanked them, knowing that they were doing what they could. Her beeper went off as she was leaving the building. She considered not answering it. She didn’t want to hear that the Captain was waiting for his status report. Something made her stop and call in.
"Watts wanted us to run you down," the dispatcher said when she identified herself. "Said you’d want to know that some doctor received an interesting package this morning. That make any sense to you?"
Rebecca slammed the phone down and was out the door before the dispatcher registered the dial tone at the end of his line. She went lights and sirens all the way across town to the hospital and left the car in the emergency zone outside. She stormed into the lobby and nearly collided with a woman pushing a baby stroller.
"Sorry," she muttered as she pushed her way to the elevator. The ride up to the psychiatric floor seemed to take forever. As soon as the doors opened, she saw Watts leaning against the counter in the nurses’ station conversing with a woman in white.
"Watts!" she shouted. "Where’s Catherine? Is she all right?"
He intercepted her and turned her away from the curious eyes of the people gathered around. "Yes, she’s fine. I took the call because I was in the squad room. When I heard what it was, I figured you’d want to know."
"What what was?"
"Your doctor friend is pretty smart. Someone sent her a dozen roses -- and since it wasn’t her birthday, she thought she should tell you before she opened the card. I guess she figured you didn’t send them."
"Damn it, Watts, just tell me where she is, and what the hell is going on."
"I am telling you. I’m waiting for the lab boys to pick up the flowers now. The card reads, `Thank you for last night. I’ll see you soon.’"
"Jesus Christ." Rebecca turned away, her face grim. "I’m going to talk to Catherine. We need to put a guard on her."
"I don’t think that’s such a great idea," Watts stated flatly. "Might scare him away."
Rebecca rounded on him, her temper finally snapping. "Listen to me, Watts! We are not using Catherine Rawlings for bait. You understand me? We are going to cover her like the Pope until this guy is caught."
"Hey, I know how you feel --" Watts began.
"No, you don’t know how I feel, and you never will know how I feel! So drop it. Now." Rebecca could never remember being so frightened. She had been shot at, maced, and ambushed by street punks, but she had never felt the panic that threatened her now. All she knew was that Catherine was being drawn further into a very dangerous game, and she felt powerless to stop it. She set her jaw and took a deep breath. It was time for her to take charge of the situation, and that was exactly what she intended to do. Catherine, as it turned out, had different ideas.
"Rebecca, you must understand. For any number of reasons I can’t let you assign me to protective custody. One very important reason is that I may be able to establish a relationship with this man. At the very least, we’ll have some idea of the state of his mind. Please, darling, think of how important that might be!"
Rebecca stood with her back to the room, staring out into the streets below without seeing. Watts had left them at her request once it became clear that Catherine was not willing to be assigned a guard. All of Catherine’s arguments made sense, and at any other time Rebecca would have accepted the logic of maintaining contact with this unknown psychopath. But she couldn’t accept it now.
"There’s a big part of me that knows you’re right," she said softly, her voice hollow. "As a cop, if I were a good cop, I should be elated that we have some conduit to this guy --" Her voice trailed off.
Catherine went to her, put her arms around her, leaned her cheek against Rebecca’s rigid back. Rebecca’s strain and tension were transmitted to her through the unyielding muscles under her hands. Catherine knew the rejection was not of her, but of the weakness that Rebecca perceived in herself because of Catherine. Rebecca’s inner struggle now was one that Catherine knew would need to be fought again and again -- the conflict between Rebecca’s need for absolute emotional distance and the disruption of that control caused by her involvement with Catherine. Catherine was determined neither to ignore the problem nor to allow Rebecca to face it alone. The outcome of that battle would determine just how much the two of them could share, and Catherine found that that meant a great deal to her.
"Rebecca, the way you feel right now is perfectly understandable," Catherine began softly. "You’re worried about my safety, and it’s different than it usually is because you care about me. We’re involved with each other, for heaven’s sake. We’ve made love, we’ve shared something of ourselves. I am not someone you can be objective about." And not someone you must push away to satisfy your sense of duty, I hope.
"I never should have let this happen," Rebecca said, her back still to Catherine. "It’s compromising my thinking, and that could mean jeopardizing your safety."
"Well, I, for one, am not sorry that it happened," Catherine persisted. She knew she was taking her own emotional risks by admitting to Rebecca, and to herself, just how important Rebecca had become to her. But one of them had to make the first move to breach the considerable defenses they both had erected around their hearts.
Rebecca turned to her then, and tightened her arms around Catherine, holding her fiercely.
"Neither am I," Rebecca answered, her voice rough with emotion. I’m afraid to even think about how much you mean to me. I just don’t know what I’d do if anything happens to you. Her tension began to lessen in the soft embrace of Catherine’s arms, and her mind began to clear. Even as she held her, Rebecca’s thoughts turned to what she must do to protect her. Where other emotions clouded her judgment, Catherine’s touch restored clarity. She was continually astonished, and still a little afraid, of the woman’s effect upon her.
"I don’t suppose I could persuade you to have a police officer accompany you around until this is over, could I?" she asked, her lips pressed to Catherine’s forehead.
"At least at night, when you’re at home?"
"Only if it’s you."
Rebecca leaned back and gazed down into the face that never failed to move her, memorizing the image -- wisps of grey at the temples, fine bones beneath ivory skin, liquid pools of swirling greens in her eyes.
"It’s not in my contract," she whispered, longing to forget everything except the desire to kiss those tender lips and lose herself in Catherine’s welcoming warmth.
"It could be," Catherine answered, her lips finding Rebecca’s.
Rebecca slept during the afternoon in an empty on-call room at the hospital and later drove Catherine home. She attached a voice activated recording device to Catherine’s telephone after they had agreed that Catherine would review the tape and erase any client related calls before turning it over to the police. Once again Rebecca did a security check and arranged for extra patrols to pass through the neighborhood. Finally she felt satisfied that she had done all she could do. The next move was up to him.
"I have to go out for a while," she said. "There are people I need to talk to --people I can only find at night. Will you be all right?"
Catherine nodded, silencing the fear she felt, not for herself, but for the determined woman she had come to care so much for. Every time she saw the gun harnessed against Rebecca’s chest, she was reminded of the potential violence Rebecca faced each time she went out into the streets. That fear was something Catherine knew she would never get used to, and that it was the price she must pay for allowing Rebecca into her heart. At this moment, however, she knew that Rebecca needed reassurance that Catherine was safe.
"Can I expect you tonight?" Catherine asked, placing her hand gently on Rebecca’s arm.
"Count on it."
Rebecca found Sandy without any difficulty. What surprised her was the lack of any protest when she pulled her car up beside the young prostitute. Sandy crossed the sidewalk quickly and slid in beside her.
"Let’s get out of here, okay?" Sandy said.
Rebecca pulled into the line of traffic and looked at the girl questioningly.
"Why so glad to see me?"
Sandy grimaced. "Things are getting really weird out here. All the pimps are uptight because the cops are pulling them in -- asking questions about the kiddie porn stuff. And now they’re starting to pull in the girls, asking about kinky johns and rough trade. It’s making everybody nervous. What’s going on?"
Rebecca smiled at the reversal in their positions. Suddenly she had become the informant. "I don’t know for sure. There may be a loose cannon around. Some guy who likes girls in gym shorts and gets a little rough."
"Rough like in dead."
Sandy leaned her head back against the seat and sighed.
"Shit, we don’t need this. Got anything on him?"
"Look in the back seat. There’s a sketch of someone who might be him."
Sandy looked at the police rendering and snorted.
"Oh, him. I must see ten dudes a night who look like this."
"Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of," Rebecca answered grimly. "The best I can tell you is that he’s white, late twenties or early thirties, probably well-educated, and won’t seem like a nut case. And this is important. He may have a gym bag or something like it. He seems to like his women to dress for his pleasure, with short nylon running briefs."
"What do we do if he shows?"
"If you can, don’t work alone. Stay in pairs or groups, so if he approaches someone, one of you can call me. Try to get the word out as quickly as you can. The girl he killed two days ago is the only prostitute we know about. I don’t want there to be another one."
Sandy looked at the woman beside her, surprised by the vehemence in her voice and the stony set to her features.
"Yeah, well, thanks," was all she said. Too many years on the streets had taught her not to trust what looked like kindness, because there was always a price attached. But she would remember the look on the tall detective’s face, a look that made her feel a little safer.
When she knocked on Catherine’s door a little after midnight, Watts answered it. He stepped out into the hall before she could say anything and pulled the door closed.
"She’s all right," he said quickly, noting the alarm on Rebecca’s face. "Our boy called. She called it in and I came over. Figured you’d rather have me here than someone she doesn’t know."
Rebecca took a deep breath and nodded, relief washing through her. "What did he say?"
Watts shrugged. "This dame--excuse me—this doctor--is one cool cookie. She insisted on clearing the tape of `unrelated’ messages before she’d let me hear it. She should be ready for us now."
"Thanks, Watts," she said as she pushed the door open.
Catherine was seated in front of a small desk with the tape recorder before her. She seemed lost in thought.
"Catherine," Rebecca called softly.
Catherine turned at the sound of her voice, and a faint smile flickered across her fine features. "I’m glad you’re back."
"I’m sorry I wasn’t hear when he called," Rebecca began.
Catherine silenced her. "It doesn’t matter--you’re here now. Shall we go over this?"
Watts shuffled in behind Rebecca and sat on the couch across the room, his notebook on his knee. Rebecca walked to the window and looked out into the night sky. She didn’t want to be facing Catherine when she heard this. She didn’t trust herself enough.
Rebecca prepared herself, knowing that she must forget that
it was Catherine this madman had chosen to call. She had to be focused, searching
for any clue to his identity. Still, she started suddenly when she heard Catherine’s
voice on the tape:
Voice: I’m so glad I found you home.
Catherine: I’m sorry, who’s calling please?
Voice: You know me, Doctor. Did you get my flowers?
Catherine: Yes. Why did you send them?
Voice: Because I wanted you to know that you’re special to me.
Catherine: Why is that?
Voice: Because I feel as if you understand me. I know that you can appreciate the things I’ve accomplished.
Catherine: What things are they?
Voice: You know—with the girls. When I fucked them. I was good with them—they’d never had it so good before. I took a long time with them, too. I didn’t just fuck and come, I let them feel me for a long time. Do you know how that feels, Doctor—to be fucked for a long time? Is that how you like it? I’d like to fuck you like that right now.
Catherine: Tell me about the girls. How did you pick them?
Voice: It’s not hard. They’re everywhere, just waiting for me to show them how good it can be. Sometimes I just wait for them to come to me.
Catherine: Where do you wait?
Voice: They think they know where—the police. But they don’t know anything. The next time it will be very special. I feel powerful, my cock is powerful. Maybe next time you’d like to feel it, Doctor. Would you like to feel my long hard cock pushing into you—would you?
Catherine: How will I recognize you?
Voice: You’ll know, Doctor. It won’t be long.
"Jesus Christ," Watts breathed as the tape clicked off. "What a fucking nutcase."
"Not exactly a clinical diagnosis, Detective, but fairly accurate," Catherine replied grimly. Rebecca had not spoken, and Catherine wanted desperately to go to her. She could see from across the room that Rebecca’s spine was rigid and the hand that rested against the window frame was clenched into a fist.
At last Rebecca turned, keeping her gaze away from Catherine. "Did we get a trace?"
Watts shook his head. "Just under the wire--he’s smart, this one."
Rebecca nodded, her face a careful blank. "Double the patrols through the neighborhood, and put a man on the street across from Catherine’s office and at each entrance to the hospital.
"Rebecca—" Catherine began.
"Do it, Watts." She turned to Catherine, her eyes simmering with repressed anger and the revulsion she had felt as she listened to that quiet, disembodied voice on the tape. She could envision his hands on Catherine’s skin, forcing her down, violating her. His words were the only violation of this woman she would allow. Nothing, not even Catherine’s professional responsibilities, would change her mind. If Catherine hated her for it, that’s the way it would have to be. She would not give this maniac any opportunity to harm Catherine. She was too precious for Rebecca to risk for a moment. "He’s changed his M.O., Watts--he’s got a specific target now. This is where he’ll come. Keep up the extra patrols in the park. I’ve got the prostitutes alerted if he shows there. Sooner or later he’ll come after Catherine." And when he does, I’ll kill the bastard.
Watts heaved himself to his feet. "Right. I’ll meet you at the hospital in the morning."
"I’ll need to see Janet Ryan in the morning," Rebecca stated after Watts left. She still had not looked directly at Catherine. She was afraid if she did she would lose what little control she had left. She trembled inwardly at the thought that any harm might come to her. Catherine had awakened a need in her which Rebecca had buried for far too long. With the undemanding acceptance of her body and her heart, Catherine brought Rebecca face to face with the loneliness of the half-life she had been leading. Rebecca did not want to return to that life, and it was Catherine she needed in order to go forward.
"I’ll want to be there when you question her," Catherine stated quietly.
"Is there no other way?"
"No. It’s not a random victim any longer, Catherine. It’s you he wants now."
Catherine looked into Rebecca’s determined face and knew there could be no other way. She held out her hand, saying, "I need you to hold me, darling."
Rebecca was across the room in an instant, gathering her close.
I will not let him hurt you!
Continue on to Part 7
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