The Survivor: part 2
by lynka

 

Please see part 1 for all disclaimers.


Corey walked through the office with Rachel just a step behind. The captain caught her out of the corner of his eye as they passed his office. He poked his head out of the door yelling, "Hey! I thought I told you to take the weekend off. Do you ever listen to what I tell you?"

"Captain, it isnít that far and I really want to get to the artist before Ms. Woods forgets anything. She remembered a few things last night; a basic description and a tattoo that may help us identify this woman."

"You know, thatís not the point!" The captain responded. "The point is I gave you a directive Agent. That directive was explicit. It left no room for interpretation or in your case, mis-interpretation." He moved the agent out of earshot of the younger woman before continuing, "But Iím glad you came. Get her over to Ronnie then come back. Thereís some stuff I need to go over with you."

"Yes, sir."

"Rachel, this is Agent Ronnie Smith and this is the artist, Agent Bill Goodson. I need you to work with both of them so we can get a make up of this woman." Corey pulled out the chair in the interrogation room for the blonde haired woman then stepped behind them towards the door.

Rachel noticed that the room took on a new look in the daylight. It didnít seem so dark and lonely. It wasnít as intimidating as it seemed last night. She slowly took a breath in and just as slowly released it. Her green eyes met those of the young woman sitting across from her, "Where would you like to start?"

Corey interjected. "She doesnít remember much about what the woman looked like." She squeezed Rachelís shoulder. "Just do the best you can." She quietly said facing the blonde woman watching Rachel nod in understanding.

"Okay, itís best to start with the basics. The hair usually," the young agent took control of the situation and started the process of drawing out the info the artist needed.

Corey noticed that the young woman was collected and responsive so she slipped out the door and back to the captainís office. "Whatís up, chief?"

"Hereís some more files for you. The top one is on Ms. Rachel Woods, or what we could find out about her. Some interesting reading." The investigator started to glance through the pages while listening to the captain highlight the important notes for her, ",graduated top of her class with a degree in criminal psychology." The investigatorís blue eyes met those of her commander.

"I thought she said she worked as a Computer Training Consultant for some of the corporations in town."

"She does. Runs a very successful business I might add. She free-lances. Her minor was in computers."

"Interesting," Was all that escaped the tall womanís lips. So thatís how you knew what to do to survive. "What else?"

"The usual on her. A list of family and friends; previous employers; by the way, she also does some guest lecturing. Sheís very intelligent. Make sure you read the papers towards the back. Seems she applied for a position with us a while back. Keep her close, I donít want a loose cannon on this one."

"She applied with the FBI? This should make interesting reading later."

"If you think thatís interesting, you should read her Honorís thesis, Inside the Mind of A Killer"

Corey raised one eyebrow at her friend, "So what about our hero, the truck driver?"

"Nothing of real interest. Nothing on the truck driver. No one is coming forward to claim the spotlight. Weíre at a dead end there." Captain Daniels shrugged his shoulders, "No new information."

"That surprises me, John. Hereís a chance for some guy to be a hero and he doesnít step forward. Why do you think that is?"

"Beats me. Probably screwing around on his wife and doesnít want to get caught."

"Maybe. I think it must be because he wasnít supposed to be there, for whatever reason. Most likely it wasnít something illegal."

John interrupted her, "Why do you say that?"

"Because, if it was illegal, he wouldnít have stopped at all. My guess is that heís a decent human. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he doesnít want someone to know. Have a team head up to the area. I want them to follow up on every receipt for gas, food, and lodging they can find within a fifty-mile radius. This guy left a mark and I want him found. And John," Corey paused, "Iím going to need someone here in the office to work with me. I need to find out if any of the other women were lesbians."

"You think there might be a connection?" He questioned while sitting down and resting his arms on the top of his immaculately kept desk.

"Ms. Woods told me she was in a lesbian bar the night she was abducted. She was waiting for a friend that never showed and this woman must have spiked her drink. I need all the paperwork we have on the case so far. I never considered our killer to be a woman and I need to figure out why not. I need to be sure weíre still looking for the same person. Itís really got me bugged," Corey confessed not meeting the captainís eyes.

"Corey," he waited until the investigator looked up at him. "Did we have any reason at all to think it might be a woman?" he asked gently.

"No,but I canít believe I just didnít look at that possibility. I know none of the women were raped but somebody's depraved idea of sex isnít always the reason people die." Corey paused, "You know John, Iím going to need a team on this now that the focus has switched and Iím protecting Ms. Woods."

"Yeah, I agree. Who would you like?"

"How about Karen? Most of the work will be done from here." She extended out her arm to indicate the investigation rooms.

"Do you think Karen is ready for this?" John looked doubtful.

"I know sheís a rookie but sheís smart and has a level head. Besides sheíll be reporting directly to you and me. Iím also going to need agents Dunn and Larsen."

"Can I ask why you want your team to consist of only women?" He questioned the tall investigator.

"We are going to have to get word out quickly when we get her composite from the artist and women walking into a lesbian bar aren't quite as intimidating to the rest of the patrons. Besides if sheís sitting in one of the bars and the guys walk in sheíll know somethingís up and may just split. I donít want to take that chance. Just be sure Karen is always with either Dunn or Larsen if theyíre out in the field."

"You got it." But before the investigator could reach the door the captain interjected, "One more thing, Corey." His voice became a little softer and quieter as he leaned his heavy body down on his desk, "The press is all over this. Keep her safe."

"I will." Was all she said then turned to find the blonde haired woman.

"All done?" Corey asked as she entered the interrogation room. Slowly she walked to the sitting woman placing a gentle, reassuring hand on the small womanís shoulder.

"Just finishing up, Ms. Van," Ronnie offered. "She was very responsive. I think we got a good sketch to go by. We also have a good drawing of the tattoo. Weíve already scanned them both into the computer and downloaded them onto a disk for you. Weíll get this out on the wire and see what develops."

"Here you are, Ms. Van." The man offered the drawings to her. Corey took the drawings with her free hand giving a gentle squeeze before breaking the contact with Rachelís shoulder. She flipped through the papers. "You remembered a little more about her,huh." She looked at Rachel who bowed her head looking at the floor. "Looks good, Bill, as usual." Then she addressed the young woman sitting across from Rachel at the table, "Good work, Ronnie. Please follow through and make sure all local and area offices receive this. Donít release this to the media! Is that understood?" She paused until she got a nod of acknowledgement from them both. "Good. Let them still think we donít have any clues. I donít want her running. Whereís that disk?"

"Right here, Ms. Van." The agent reached across the table and handed the investigator a plastic disk container. The investigator placed her copies of the sketches and the disks in her briefcase.

"Rachel, I need to go meet with a team I am putting together to help with this investigation. Would you mind looking at some mug shots and see if anybody comes to mind? It shouldnít take me more then half an hour to give some them some directions on what I want from them. Then weíll head over to the mall."

"Iíll do whatever you want." Rachel met the blue eyes that seemed to smile at her.

Sitting around an oblong table in the conference room, the four agents studied the photos laid about the table. "It seems the entire focus of this investigation may have changed. We now have reason to believe that the murderer is a woman. The last woman who was attacked was picked up in a lesbian bar." She paused to observe the faces of her fellow investigators fixating on Marilyn Dunn. Agent Dunn was an average looking woman with no distinguishing traits. She knew her job well, as well if not better than Corey. She had always felt that Coreyís promotion should have been hers. She just didnít get the high profile cases that seemed to fall into Agent Vanís lap. She kept telling herself she held no animosity towards Corey but it wasnít true. She sat with her arms and legs crossed, smug in the fact that Corey had to admit that she needed help on a case. Her help. Corey cleared her throat, "Marilyn?" she looked at the agent sitting across from her.

"Oh,oh sorry. Just thinking about," she paused and picked up a picture of one of the victims. "this."

"Yeah, right." Corey couldnít help wondering what caused the lop-sided grin on Marilynís face. "I want you," she pointed straight at Marilyn, "and Judy to circulate this picture around the lesbian bars. Talk to the bartenders as well as the owners. I want this kept as quiet as possible so be very discrete. Do not mention why we want her except to mention she may be a possible witness to an assault. I donít want to spook her."

Corey shifted her gaze to the young rookie sitting to her right, "Karen, I need you to start making phone calls. Get a hold of the files. Call anyone listed as a contact - friends, family, anyone who knew these women. Letís find out if these women were gay, bi or even if they hung out in a lesbian bar maybe with a friend. If youíre in the field, youíre with Dunn or Larsen. Understand?"

"Understood."

"Okay. We need to find out if this latest attack is connected to the others as quickly as possible." Corey said passing out the drawing of the tattoo and the suspect. "Any questions?"

"How do we find out all the gay bars here?" Judy asked. "Iíve never had a reason to search them out before."

"Just hit one of the adult spots. Ask the clerks for one of the publications listing the gay bars. Once you find one, you can usually find a magazine or newspaper listing the others." Corey smiled at her.

"You sound like youíve been there before," Marilyn sniped in.

"Any more questions?" Corey asked looking at the three of them. "Okay, let's get started on this. Marilyn will you stay for just a minute?" Corey caught her in mid motion of getting to her feet. She sat back down.

Corey waited until the other two women left then shut the door behind them. Corey stood to her full height before leaning on the table only inches from where Marilyn sat, "I want to know right now what the hell your problem is!" her voice continued to rise in a yell. "Well," Corey waited.

Taken by surprise at Coreyís obvious anger, Marilyn couldnít answer for several heart beats, "I,I,donít have a problem investigator."

"Then donít you ever, ever do that again! I need you on this team but I donít need your attitude. If you want me to replace you right now just say so." Coreyís voice was as sharp as the blue eyes that bore into the brown ones of the agent across from her.

"That wonít be necessary, Agent Van. I would like to stay on this case."

Corey simply nodded and released Agent Dunn before going in search of Rachel. "Hey there," her voice was gentle. "find anything?" She watched the younger blonde woman shake her head. "You ready to go?" Rachel nodded, as she looked at the investigator. She had already decided she liked the investigator and had they met under different circumstances, they may have become friends. But it was unlikely that she would become the tall investigatorís friend, and most likely her companion was just doing her job.

Corey motioned for Rachel to wait as they approached the captainís office. Corey glanced to be sure the captain wasnít busy with someone before entering. "Hereís the sketches and a copy of the disk for the file. I put Agent Smith on the follow up to the offices. I would also like to keep the sketches internal for now. Keep the same info for the media, nothing. I donít want this woman to feel the heat and take off on us." Rachel listened to the conversation while she pretended to be taking in the sites of the office.

"Iíll hold off as long as I can. Not sure how much slack weíll get from the powers that be though, Corey. You know they want this book closed."

"I know. I just have a feeling that sheís not done with Rachel yet." Her eyes quickly darted to the captainís when she realized her slip.

He glanced up to check the younger woman standing by the door. Lowering his voice he said, "Rachel? Corey, Iím not even going to go there. Weíve been friends a long time. You arenít the kind to just allow people inside your walls. A first name basis with this woman worries me. Itís out of character for you."

"Itís nothing. Iím just trying to keep her at ease. Itís easier to use our first names then Ms. Woods and Ms. Van all the time. John, trust me."

"All right, kiddo. You know what youíre doing." He raised his voice a little for the young woman still at the door, "Now get the both of you out of here before I have a media circus camped outside my door." He waved her out of his office as if he were swatting a fly. She turned and left smiling at his attempt at anger.

"Are you in trouble?" Questioned the young woman.

"No. Letís go."

The two women strolled down the hallway to the back exit of the building. She could hear John as they reached the outer door, "And donít forget to check in!"

Corey just smiled. "Ready for some shopping?"

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

It being Friday afternoon the mall seemed more crowded then it should have been. The parking lot was full and the investigator had to park her beloved Explorer in the parking lot of Chiliís Restaurant. "Wow." Corey commented. "I wonder whatís going on in there? Are you sure you want to fight the crowds? She turned to the smaller woman who was eyeing the large, over stuffed parking lot.

"Normally I wouldnít but I really need to get some clothes. Tell you what if the stores are crowded weíll leave. I have a feeling it's just some promotion or something in the middle of the mall." She looked up at a pensive Corey. "I remember not long ago Wheel of Fortune was here trying out contestants."

"Okay,just stay close." The investigator went into her protective persona.

Sure enough when they reached to outside doors the signs announced ĎDiscovery Channel Challenge' in the center of the mall."

"Ahh" Rachel pointed. "Thought so"

Corey nodded. "What stores you want to try?"

"Well since thatís going on by Penneyís I think Iíll skip that place. Unless of course you want to go see what the challenge is?" She looked up at her companion and saw an amused and maybe intrigued look.

"Ahh." Corey grunted looking around.

"Iíd kinda like too. If it's okay?" She said as the taller woman looked down to meet her eyes.

"Well,if you really want to. But you stay next to me no matter what." She once again put on her no nonsense look.

"I promise. Just like glue." She stepped closer to her protector.

Corey started to reach out without thinking and circle the younger womanís shoulders to pull her closer yet. She caught herself when her arm was in mid motion reversed her momentum and finally scratched her back. "Okay, come on." She motioned the woman forward. Oh boy Corey, you're stepping way out of bounds here.

Their first stop was Dillardís where Rachel found two pairs of dark colored slacks and a blackish/green colored blouse. She held the blouse up for the investigatorís inspection. "What do you think?"

"Itís pretty. I bet youíll look great in it." She smiled at the small blush rising on the young womanís neck. Rachel added it to her pile on the register counter.

Back out into the mall the next stop was Sears. "I just want to pick up a couple pairs of jeans and t-shirts. Maybe a new pair of sneakers."

With the purchases out of the way Corey once again led her companion out into the mall. The area was getting crowded. She instinctively stepped closer to Rachel. "Iím not sure we should get in the middle of that."

Rachel looked down the mall only seeing a wall of people. "Yeah, I think youíre right." They stood a moment observing the crowd.

Suddenly a loud bang rang out echoing in the corridor. People started running towards them. Before Corey could grab Rachel she got swept up in the panicked crowd.

"RACHEL!" She screamed at the top of her lungs knowing she wasnít heard over the screams of the crowd. "RACHEL!" She screamed again as she jumped up and down trying to get a fix on the location of the younger woman in her charge.

Rachel had managed to get into a small alcove. She squatted and covered her head. Shaking inside she wasnít sure where she was or what happened. She felt warm hands touch her and she froze remembering the night she was taken to the mountains and that,that woman was there. She curled up circling her legs as she pulled away. Panic gripped her from every direction.

"Hey," a soft voice came to her. "it's me, Corey. Everythingís all right." She continued to speak to the frightened woman huddled up in the corner.

Finally Coreyís voice registered and Rachel looked over her shoulder seeing the friendly blue eyes fixed on her. "C..Corey."

"Yeah," the dark haired woman soothed. "itís me." Before she got the last words out she felt her arms filled with a very frightened and shaking Rachel. "Itís okay. Iíve got you," She cooed into the close ear while running her free hand up and down the womanís back trying to get her to calm down.

A security officer passing by stopped, surveying the situation. "Are you okay, maíam?"

"Weíll be fine. Iím an FBI agent. Just what the hell was that?"

"Just a M-80. We got the kid. Are you sure sheís all right?"

"Weíre fine. Thanks." Satisfied that the woman was in good hands, the security officer turned his attention to another crowd of teenagers milling around.

Long moments later the frightened woman took a deep breath and finally eased the death grip she had on the investigator. "Iím sorry,I was just so scared." She admitted. "What happened anyway?" She finally asked as she calmed her heart rate down to an almost normal pace. They both let go and just sat against the wall for a moment.

"Some kid threw an M-80 in the other corridor." She shrugged. "Guess he thought it was funny."

They both looked up as the police were guiding a young man maybe in his mid teens out the door in cuffs.

Corey looked over at Rachel seeing the puzzled look on her face. "You okay?"

"Yeah, just wondering what makes kids do stuff like that." She shrugged. "Ready?"

Corey smiled getting to her feet first and offering the smaller woman a hand up. She smiled as they walked back to the SUV noticing how close Rachel was walking next to her; so close Rachelís shoulder brushed up against the investigator's arm.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

The two women grabbed the bags out of the truck. "Boy am I glad thatís over." Rachel said reaching for some of the bags. "Wow,I didnít think we bought this many clothes," The smaller woman mumbled.

"Only half are clothes, the other half is food remember?"

"Oh yeah." A small giggle escaped. "That makes me feel better." Rachel waited for Corey to put down some of the bags so she could open the door. "It really is a beautiful cabin, Corey."

"Thanks. Grab the door while I grab these bags, would you?" Corey headed for the kitchen to put the groceries away while Rachel placed the bags with her new wardrobe in them on the chairs by the living area before joining the investigator in the kitchen.

"Letís see. Iíll need this, and this, and this for dinner." The young woman reached around the taller one grabbing the necessary ingredients for the meal. "Now if youíll show me where the pots and pans are, Iíll start dinner."

Corey smiled. "Under here." It had been a long time since anyone had cooked for her. She had joined John and his family on occasion but just to sit down and eat with another person, in as intimate a location as her cabin, well it had been years. "Iíll get out of your way. I have some reading to catch up on. Iíll be at the computer if you need help finding anything else."

"Okay." Rachel simply said then started humming to herself as she prepared their meal.

Corey cleared away the stuff that had started to collect on her desk. I really need to keep this desk more organized. She booted up the computer spreading out the papers from her briefcase while she waited. The new files joined the older ones as she tried to place them in some type of order. She decided to start on the file marked: Rachel Ann Woods.

Half an hour later Rachel called to her companion. Not receiving an answer she walked over to her hunched over her desk reading. "Hey." She said as Corey jumped.

"Oh,sorry." Corey smiled at her closing the folder she was reading.

"Dinnerís ready. Didnít mean to startle you but I called you and you were just so engrossed I guess you didnít hear me." Rachel pointed to the kitchen where two steaming plates sat on the table along with a bottle of wine.

"It looks great. Come on Iím starved." She directed the younger woman from her desk hoping she wouldnít ask or didnít notice what she was reading. Corey found the reading of Rachelís file interesting to say the least.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

"That was one of the best meals Iíve eaten in," She turned her thoughts inside, "well, forever." Corey sat back in her chair with her hand on her belly. "I think I ate way too much. Where did you learn to cook like that?"

Rachel laughed slightly at the compliment. "It wasnít that good! But thanks for the compliment. But to answer your question it was just a survival mechanism. " She reached out for the dirty plates and started to clear the table.

"Here, let me do that," Corey jumped up to take the dishes away from her.

"No, please. I really donít mind and I need to pay you back somehow for all this." Rachel protested.

"Look, it's kinda nice having you here and having someone to talk to. Itís been awhile. So, why donít we both do this?" Corey said as she carried the glasses to the sink.

After they were done with the dishes, Rachel laid the towel over the edge of the sink. "So," she began, "you didnít build this cabin to be shared, so what do you do around here for fun?" Her eyes found a very quiet Corey.

A smile crossed the older womanís face. "Come on. Iíll show you." Corey led the bewildered blonde to a door on the side of the cabin. Smiling she opened the door. "This," she said waving her hand for the smaller woman to enter. Rachel was amazed. Inside the room was a gym complete with weight bench, free weights, a treadmill, cycle and rowing machine. "And when Iím not in here, I usually run, hike, or take out the mountain bike." The blue eyes met surprised green ones. "Or sometimes, I just go fishing." A thought occurred to her. "How about spending the day on Woods Canyon Lake? We can fish, have a picnic, and just relax out there?"

A smile lit Rachelís face, "Sounds like fun, but if you donít mind Iíll skip the fishing and just relax while you do it. Okay?"

"Youíre on." Corey said sitting on the weight bench.

"How about showing me how to use these things one day?" She asked pointing to the weights. "I think Iím too sore to try them now."

"You bet. Stretching out those muscles might help the soreness. I can help you. Come on over here on the mat." Corey stepped behind the blonde putting her hands on her waist. "Just bend over, donít bounce. Take it easy, just go down slightly. Now bend to the side. Thatís it." Rachel followed the instructions moving so that Coreyís hands gripped a little tighter around her waist.

They moved in unison through different exercises. When she exhausted her resources of exercises, Corey reluctantly stepped back but let her touch linger for just a few seconds before stepping to the blondeís side. "Feel better?"

"Actually, yes I do, at least a little."

"Still sore?" She asked as they moved to the couch in the pit.

"Yeah. The muscles are still sore, but Iím moving a whole lot better."

"Well, itís only been a couple of days. But I know a sure fire remedy."

"Yeah? Spill it Special Agent Van."

"A soak in a nice hot tub. Feel up to it?"

Rachelís eyes darted to the fireplace. "I didnít buy a bathing suit, remember?" She whispered shyly.

"Donít need one. Come on," Corey replied pulling her to a standing position.

Corey turned on the bubbles then started to remove her shirt. She noticed Rachel looking around nervously. "Will it make you feel better if I turn around while you get in?"

"I just," This is so silly. I should just undress. Itís not like sheís going to attack me. "Thanks." Rachel stammered at her sudden uneasiness. When the investigator turned her back, she quickly undressed laying her clothes in a neat pile, then stepped into the tub. Turning her back to the taller woman she finally said, "Okay."

Corey turned around as she finished taking off her shirt sucking in a breath as she gazed at Rachel. The bubbles covered most of her up to her shoulders but the sight was beautiful just the same. Boy was she glad she filled the tub and set it to heat last night when they got there She finished piling her clothes next to the other neatly stacked pile before slipping into the tub behind the other woman. Gently she placed her hand on the back of an exposed shoulder. "Do these hurt?" She asked about the bruises she could see.

'A bit.' She thought. "Yeah."

"Did she give them to you?"

"Yeah. Iím not sure if it was when we were fighting or when she was just beating me. Do we really need to talk about this?"

Corey paused for a long minute before continuing. "Iím sorry but every time we go over this you seem to remember something else. It may just be a small detail or insignificant item, but itís an important piece of the puzzle. I want to catch this woman and I need your help. I can help you relax," she continued while starting to massage Rachelís neck and shoulders, "and give you a safe place to retell the events of that evening. Would you really mind going over this again?"

Rachel leaned into the hands moving over her soft shoulders. "I guess not. Where do you want me to start?"

"Start at the beginning when you got to the bar." She said as she intensified her massage to help relax the already tense woman.

"Okay." She took several deep breaths and let them out slowly. Corey continued her massage being careful not to hurt the younger woman where she was bruised. "I had stopped at Marlyís, a little bar in north Phoenix on Cave Creek Road. I was supposed to meet a friend there after work and have a couple of beers to celebrate her promotion. It was slow when I got there only a few people in the place: couple of guys shooting darts, three women sitting at a table and a woman at the far end of the bar. I sat down on one of the bar stools and ordered a beer from Anne, the bartender and before I knew, it was starting to get a little late. My friend hadnít shown up yet and I was nursing my beer. The bar started getting crowded and Anne got real busy. This woman walked up to me saying, ĎLacy. I thought I told you never to come to places like this.í I told her she had me confused with someone else. She kept on and I tried to excuse myself to go to the restroom. The woman grabbed my arm and Anne came around the corner of the bar telling her to let go of me or she would call out for her friends who started to circle around us. Reluctantly, the woman let go of me and backed up. I went to the restroom hoping she would be gone when I got back. On my way back to the bar, I stopped at the phone to find out what happened to my friend. She didnít answer, so I assumed she was on her way. I decided to wait for another half-hour or so before giving up and heading home. The woman came back with a fresh drink for me. I remember she said ĎSorry about that. Guess I had one too many. You could be a ringer for my friend. Hope this makes it up to you. Anyway, sorry again.í I told her it was all right she said goodnight and left. Anne came by asking if I was all right. When I said I was, she mumbled, ĎWhacko's,í as she headed to refill some drinks. I didnít think anymore about it. About a half-hour later I was really getting tired. I figured I just went over my limit since I donít drink much. So before I left I wrote a quick note for my friend in case she finally made it and I handed it to Anne. When I got out into the parking lot that same woman approached me again and she offered to take me home. I told her no that it was okay; I had my own car and was fine. I remember that as I started to go around her I stumbled a little. It was like I was really drunk but I hadnít have but two beers. She grabbed me." Rachel circled her arms around herself instinctively as she remembered what the stranger had said. ĎOh no, Lacy, youíll never tell me no again.í then she put something over my mouth.

The next thing I knew I was laying on the ground with my hands tied behind me and my mouth taped shut. I pretended to be asleep for a while until my head cleared. I guess she got tired of waiting for me to wake up and she kicked me in the stomach. I tried to scream out from the pain but my breath just stopped at the tape. I curled up in a ball mostly from the pain but to try and protect myself from another hit as well. I remember listening to her laughing then she said, ĎWhatís the matter bitch? Did that hurt?í I tried to look around, to see where I was. Between the moonlight and the firelight I couldnít see anything around me, it was just to dark. Besides the womanís voice there wasnít any noise except for the crackling of the wood. I figured we were out in the desert somewhere. I guess I didnít hear what she asked because she kicked me again only this time in the back. She bent down whispering in my ear, ĎIíve warned you about not paying attention to me.í Then she hit me in the face. She continued to beat me until I blacked out again." Rachel stopped to catch her breath. A sudden chill swept through her body causing her to shiver.

Corey pulled her closer whispering softly; "Youíre doing really good, Rachel. Iím right here. Iíll keep you safe." I promise.

Rachel took in a long breath before continuing; "She was stroking my face when I came to. Then she was on her knees picking me up in her arms and rocking me she was saying, ĎWhy do you make me hurt you, Lacy? I donít want too, you know. I love you so. I donít know why I hurt you. Can you forgive me?í This time I thought my best bet was to go along with her. I wasnít even sure what she wanted, but I had to get her to release me if I had any hope of getting away from her. So, I , ah, rubbed my cheek on her thigh as she stroked my hair. She said, ĎSee Lacy. I can be nice.í She finally removed the tape over my mouth and all I remember for an instant was taking a deep breath. Then she grabbed my face and kissed me over and over. She reached out and squeezed my breast." Rachelís hands covered the mentioned items ."I tried to crawl away but my hands were still tied. She must of thought I was trying to lie down for her because she turned me over and laid down on top of me. Her hands roamed all over my body." Rachel instinctively moved away from the hands that were on her back quickly wrapping her own arms around herself. Corey let her hold on the smaller woman go for the time being. "I told her I could love her better if she untied me. She was so caught up in the moment that she did it. When she started kissing my neck again, I grabbed a rock. She grabbed my left hand and looked down I thought maybe this would be my only chance so I swung as hard as I could hitting her in the head. I just dazed her but I managed to move out from under her. She started to get up and I hit her a second time knocking her out, at least I thought so. Anyway, I stood up and started to walk away from there. I donít know what direction I headed. When my legs became more stable, I started to run. Seems that I was running or walking for hours and I just had to rest. I sat down behind a large rock formation that was surrounded by smaller ones thinking I would be safe. Thatís when I realized I wasnít in the desert but somewhere in the mountains. It was hours yet until sunrise. I laid my head against the rock and closed my eyes." Corey noticed that Rachelís breathing had steadied finally. She reached her long arms back to Rachelís shoulders coaxing her back closer so she could continue the massage.

Rachel continued, "The next thing I know I was hearing her calling out, ĎLacy! Where are you? I know youíre out here somewhere.í I just froze. I couldnít have moved even if I wanted to. She was close-too close and heading for me. Then I heard a noise and she changed her direction. I knew I had to move and soon. I watched her move away in the opposite direction then took off for what I hoped was the sound of traffic. As soon as I cleared the cover, she was there right in front of me. ĎYou know you will never get away from me. Iíve told you that time and time again. This time I will have to teach you a lesson so you donít forget.í I knew she would kill me if she got me again so I used every last ounce of strength I had to fight her. When she grabbed me I hit her with my arm on her head. That dazed her enough for me to kick her. Her hand reached out and grabbed my shirt. We both fell to the ground kicking and struggling with each other. I tried to get up but she caught my ankle. I finally kicked her in her head and she collapsed. I ran towards the noise praying it was a road. It took me less time to reach it then I thought it would. Not knowing where I was or anything I saw a car coming down the road and waved my hands frantically. The car past me but pulled over on the shoulder. I was so relieved my body started to go limp. I only took two steps towards the car then she stepped out. We stood there facing each other for a minute. I knew I couldnít fight anymore. I just didnít have the strength. I saw a truck coming and stepped out in the middle of the road. I figured it would be better to be run over by a truck then to be killed by her. I remember the sound of the truck brakes then waking up in that room at the clinic."

Rachel turned around to face an all too silent Corey who seemed lost in her thoughts. "Iím sorry but thatís all I remember."

Corey refocused her attention on the blonde now facing her. "Um. Thatís all right. You remembered a lot."

Her green eyes were on the surface of the water unable to meet the gaze of the investigator, "I can only imagine what you think of me. Letting her," She turned away from Corey. "Everything was happening really fast. It was all I could think of."

Corey reached for Rachelís chin turning her face so she could meet her blue eyes. "I think you are one of the bravest people I know. Donít ever tell yourself any different. It wasnít your fault and you arenít to blame. Your quick thinking and actions are what kept you alive." When she received an acknowledging glance back, she released her hold on the younger woman. "How about some tea?"

"Yeah, sounds good." Rachel said.

Corey stood letting the water cascade off of her tall body like a waterfall. She closed her eyes and ran her fingers through her hair. When she looked back at her companion she noticed the flushed cheek of her profile. Corey simply smiled at the shyness of the blonde woman. "Sheezh, Iím not used to having to get towels. Iíll go get a couple." Wrapping a towel around herself, she tossed one to Rachel. "Iíll get the water for the tea started while you dress." That should give her the privacy she needs.

Rachel came into the kitchen wearing the sweats Corey had given her the night before, "Iíll finish this if you want to get dressed."

Corey smiled "I see you have chosen the leisure look for evening wear. Be back in a flash." She proceeded to the bedroom to put on her sweats and t-shirt while Rachel finished making the tea and brought the two cups of tea to the pit. She sat down on the couch in front of the fireplace curling her legs under her and studied the cupís contents.

Corey joined her a moment later. "Are you okay?" She asked taking a seat on the rug.

"Yeah." Time seemed to stand still as their eyes met. "So, investigator, did you learn anything new?"

"Oh yeah, itís amazing what a hot tub and a massage can get out of a witness. I should get one for the office." Both of their lips turned up at the edges before they busted out in laughter.

"Okay, okay. So tell me what you learned that I havenít told you before."

"Besides you being one of the bravest people I know? Seems the bartender, Anne, had more than just passing words with her. Hopefully, sheíll remember a little more about her.

I can also explain how she got a hold of you so easily. The blood work reported the same drug in you that was found in the other victims. She spiked your drink then just waited for you outside. Didnít your mother ever tell you not to accept drinks from strangers?" the investigator tried to get a smile from the smaller woman. "Itís actually more of what you didnít mention that has me intrigued. All of the victims look very similar to you: average height, slim build, long blonde hair, and green eyes. And they had good jobs leaving them financially secure. Iím assuming that you all resemble this ĎLacyí person, probably someone who left her. But all the other victims have one thing in common that you didnít mention. They were all wearing a thin gold wedding band."

Rachel sucked in a breath, "Oh my god. I remember she tried to put something on my finger but she never got the chance. It was just after she untied me. She took my hand in hers and looked down but thatís when I hit her with the rock."

"Well then, I guess that makes you the survivor." Corey smiled at her.

"Guess so." She said as she returned the smile. "Want to know what I learned from telling you the story in a safe environment where I could actually think about some of the details?"

"I would love for you to shed some light on this investigation." Corey challenged as she laid down resting her cheek on her arm.

"First, this woman is dangerous." This got a raised eyebrow in response. "Not dangerous in the physical sense, that you already know, but dangerous in the unstable sense. Her personality teeters between different extremes, three that Iíve seen alone. The problem is that sheís become a walking time bomb, capable of deteriorating in a flash. Anything could bring on a sudden breakdown. If that happens she would most likely become so violent that common sense would no longer apply and she would be capable of killing mass amounts of people to attain her goal." Rachel glanced down at the investigator noticing that she had the womanís full attention.

"Second, about the woman, Lacy. Most likely as you said, you will find that she is a lost lover who the victims resemble. Lost means left whether voluntary or involuntary."

"Excuse me?" Corey injected.

"It means either Lacy left her for whatever reason: another lover, tired of being abused, or any number of other reasons or sheís dead." Rachel thought a moment. "Maybe even one of the victims."

Corey sat up cocking her head to one side thinking. "You mention being abused."

"Yeah, this woman is a classic abuser. She was probably abused as a child. I would venture to guess both physically and emotionally. If she was a guy with a wife, she would be easy to spot but because sheís a lesbian or at least in a lesbian relationship, itís a little harder to see. If you find Lacy, most likely youíll find out that she abused her."

"This is extremely interesting. Go on. What else?" The investigator was sitting up cross-legged leaning forward with her hands folded under her chin listening intensely like a kid in a classroom.

"Or the attributes of the victims could be what sheís looking for in a lover. Thinking she is either unworthy of love or someone like that would never love someone like her. So she tried to force the woman to love her. In this scenario this woman would usually have had sex with the other victims. It may have even been forced but thatís not uncommon. She would want it to be consensual thinking the act of making love constitutes love. Of course it doesnít so when the women would want to leave for whatever reason, she wouldnít let them. Somehow, she would force the women into admitting they really loved her or maybe the women thought she would let them go if they said what she wanted to hear. Then when the women realized that she wasnít going to let them go they rejected her. The rejection reinforced the belief and the anger, disgust, hurt,Rachel shrugged one shoulder. "Brought on by the rejection. She would kill them. And that is if Lacy exists at all."

"This is a new one." She said surprised. "Why go through all the trouble to call you Lacy and what about the bands?"

"Thereís a new theory beginning to gain some credibility. Some people who fit this kind of disorder commit what is known as projection. That is, they project what they want themselves to be or what theyíre not to another person. They believe this person to be real but they never existed except in the personís mind. They believe this other person will make them , whole if you will, for lack of a better word."

"Thatís an interesting theory. Probably one not well received in the psychology world."

"Not yet. Anyway, using the theory in this case, Lacy could be a sister who got all the credit and good reinforcements from the family or everything she perceives sheís not but if she was then everything in her life would be good. So she creates this person in hopes that ĎLacyí will set everything right with the world and end all of her problems. That together she and Lacy would create the perfect balance. Thus the wedding bands, a perfect marriage. Getting the idea?"

"Think so. Itís pretty far-fetched. You analyzed all this like you know what youíre talking about and not like you just read it in Psychology Today."

Rachel shrugged, "I have a degree in Psychology, Criminal Psychology to be exact. I only minored in Computer Technology. The opportunities just werenít available in pysch so I went with computers starting my own business as a training specialist. I still keep current with the latest information. At least this is a chance to use some of it. And besides, I know you were just reading a file about me." She grinned at an embarrassed investigator. "It's alright I would expect nothing less."

"I,ahh,didnít know you knew what I was reading," Corey stuttered. "I,ahh"

Rachel reached out and touched her arm. "Corey itís okay, honest."

"So thatís how you knew what to do to get away from her?"

The younger woman yawned. "It really was my only chance."

"You still havenít mentioned any details about her car or even the truck or truck driver for that matter. We still have nothing to go on to find him. Do you remember anything about them?"

Rachel tried to think about the details then shook her head in defeat, "I was just so tired by then. Iím sorry. I just donít remember."

"If I had a way of helping you remember, would you?" Corey asked hesitantly. "Maybe if we got a hypnotist? What do you think?"

"Sure, Iíll try anything."

"Even more interrogations in the hot tub?" Corey couldnít help but tease her some to put a smile on her face again which she got at her suggestion. She didnít know why but that seemed important to her for some reason. Corey patted her leg as she stood up, "Iíll get your pillow and blankets."

Handing her the intended items Corey hesitated then finally said, "Goodnight."

"Thanks. Hope I donít wake you tonight," Rachel said looking towards the now slowly burning fire.

"If you do, donít worry about it. I really donít sleep much and when I do, Letís just say that someone could be standing outside the window being perfectly still except for their breath and I would hear them." She smiled reassuringly at the beautiful woman seated in front of her. Whoa, hotshot, back up. ĎBeautifulí where did that come from? Oh Corey! She chastised herself.

<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>

Part Three

original fiction <> homepage