Of Karma, Kismet, and Finding the Way
For disclaimers, see part 1
Blake Hudson sat on the hardwood deck surrounding her oceanfront home. The air had grown slightly cool and the breeze coming in off the Atlantic coast chilled her fair skin. She watched as a layer of goose flesh appeared on her arms, making the fine blonde hairs stand on end. Looking out at the occasional jogger or the infrequent seashell hunter, she smiled. She inhaled the scent the ocean left lingering on her skin. It was a fresh mist mingled with salt and cleanliness. 'Gods, what beauty lies where you don't see'. She took secret delight in her new home and her venture to move away from the muck, squalor, and smog of New York. Her agent had been none-too happy about the move. Raynor Masterson had been livid when Blake told him about her plans to buy the oceanfront property in South Carolina. He'd asked her to talk it over with people, but he was the only one opposed to it. After much persuasion on Blake's part, she convinced Ray that it was a good move for her. She needed to be in a place that encouraged her writing, and away from the hectic antics and chaos of downtown New York. Taking a sip of her coffee, she closed her eyes and took another deep cleansing breath. The ocean air, mixed with the scent of amaretto coffee, was absolute heaven.
She finished her coffee and entered the French doors that led back into her home. She looked around at the inside of the living area. While the home was only eighteen hundred square feet, it was superbly arranged in a wide-open and expansive floor plan. The large A-frame design allowed for spacious open ceilings that were done in teak and dark knotted pine. A tall stone fireplace took up the west wall. She had furniture spaced out in the living area to promote comfort as well as coziness. The tones of the furniture were light and neutral to contrast the dark of the wood that surrounded it. She walked through her living area toward the front of the house where a surprisingly modern kitchen lay in hiding. As she entered her kitchen, she looked at the line of windows running the length of the counter. She looked at the ivory curtains barely contained in their binds as the wind whipped them back and forth across the window frame. Unlike the rest of the house, the kitchen lacked the rustic appearance. It was done in cobalt blue and white. With the floor being set in ceramic tile of the same colors. She set her coffee mug down on the shiny blue surface and walked to her refrigerator. After removing the orange juice and a bagel, she went about preparing breakfast. While the bagel was toasting, she wandered out front to get the morning paper. Soon she found herself sitting at the breakfast bar in her immaculate kitchen having a bagel and reading the Charleston paper. After deciding there was nothing of much interest in the paper, Blake decided to take a morning run along the nearly deserted beach.
Blake ran for nearly forty-five minutes before stopping on an outcropping of rocks at the northern end of the island. She stretched her short frame and walked to the end of the rocks near the water. Looking out onto the ocean she smiled, she spoke softly, her words nearly drowned out by the crashing of waves against the line of stone. I know you're out there. And I'm going to find you. She smiled sadly as she took a lone rock and threw it into a tide pool. She closed her eyes and remembered a dream in which her warrior had done the same thing.
They sat side by side on the grassy knoll near the lake. Xena picked up the stone and threw it into the water. What happens when you do that? she asked me. I watched as the ripples expanded outward away from the impact site. I conclude logically that the water returns to its stillness. You look at me and smile sadly. But the lake is forever changed. I understand your metaphor and appreciate what you have shared with me. I turned to face you, noticing your eyes are open and more vulnerable than ever. I understand that I am your one true weakness. I also understand how that has changed you forever. I'm happy to be part of that change, and I kiss your lips softly in gratitude.
Blinking from her reverie Blake laughed at herself. Well, I wanted to feel closer. I definitely feel that. Taking a last look across the water she turns back toward her home and begins her trek there.
Returning home, Blake enters the house to find her phone ringing, she considers letting the machine get it, but then decides it's probably Raynor. Better toss the guy a bone, or he's gonna have a stroke. She giggles slightly as she removes the receiver from its cradle. Hello?
Blake? Is that you? Where the hell have you been? I've been calling for over an hour? Raynor's voice was high pitched and strained as he tried to keep from screaming.
Blake smiled as she answered, Yes. Yes. Out for a run on the beach. And why have you been trying for an hour to reach me?
Ray's voice lowered a bit as he realized that Blake was all right. Sighing he spoke into the phone, Blake, you have a deranged fan out there somewhere. Don't go anywhere alone. Dammit, if I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times this is serious.
Blake frowned slightly as she listened to Ray rant on about the fan and the safety precautions she should be taking. Ray, I'm not the only author in the world that has fans that are deranged. I'm fine. I've relocated. The new book cover doesn't tell where I reside to write my books anymore. I write under an assumed name for Christ's sake! There is nothing else to do. I'm not putting myself under lock and key for fear of someone that may just be full of crap. Blake realized her voice was rising as she talked and she quickly rebuffed herself from continuing.
Ray resigned himself to the fact that Blake was right. As a top-ten novelist, she had consistently met with deranged fans, lunatics, die-hard fans, and groupies alike. She no longer did book tours and her pictures were no longer posted on the backs of her book covers. They had taken all the measures possible to keep her safe. He hated it that she was so far away from New York. But she flew to the city every two months to meet with publishers and editors and the like. She had met all of her obligations and was now in what she considered a safe haven. Ray didn't have to like it, and not like it one bit, he did. I know. I'm sorry. I just worry about you is all.
Blake smiled at the normally terse man's sentiment. Thank you Ray. Now did you call for anything in particular or just to see how the latest book is coming?
Ray laughed out loud, Actually I wanted to check on your progress and tell you that we're almost ready for the printers on this one. We'd like you to be here next week for the final edit.
Blake placed a finger to her lip thoughtfully and hummed for a moment. I think I can squeeze that into my busy schedule. She giggled again as she heard Ray ranting about better being able to fit it in. Have Doris make the arrangements and send the information to my e-mail. Okay?
All right. Consider it done. I'll see you next week Blake. Take care of yourself, you hear me? Ray warned.
I will Ray, thank you hon. Blake looked at the phone as the line went dead. That guy needs a life.
Sighing again Blake headed for the shower. Trailing clothes across her bedroom and into the bathroom as she went. She took her time this morning, feeling less interested in work today then usual. After standing in the steaming stream for nearly half an hour, she decided to get some work done. Stepping through the hazy fog that had engulfed her oversized bathroom while she participated in her rituals of hygiene, Blake took a deep breath and stretched her compact frame. The shower had been invigorating, and she felt much more relieved. As she wiped the fog from her mirror she smiled as she saw her reflection looking back at her. At five foot three, Blake didn't consider herself tall, she could reach the cupboards in the kitchen and the top of the refrigerator if needed. Her compact frame was lean and well toned from hours of physical exertion. She looked into verdant eyes that shone more brightly now, and lacked the telltale signs of lack of sleep. Yes, moving away from New York definitely had its perks. She no longer had the dark circles or bags under her eyes. Her eyes did belie her 26 years of life, however they did not in any way detract from the beauty. If anything, it was enhanced by them. Her blonde hair was cut short and cropped away from her face. She closed her eyes as she remembered her dreams, in many of them it had been long, like she'd worn it in high school. But now she wore it in a clipped, trendy manor that actually made her look older than she was. All in all, she was happy with the transformation of Blake Hudson, post New York. She smiled again, sadly this time as she realized the only thing missing now was her mystery warrior. As she closed her eyes again, she conjured up the image of her hero in her mind. Seeing the tall dark beauty, with sable hair and eyes that varied on every shade of blue imaginable, depending on her mood, she smiled again. Someday love. She spoke quietly, Someday, I'm going to find you. And Gods help you when I do. She placed the towel on the rack near the shower stall and went to her bedroom.
Chase threw her clothes in the hamper in the bedroom as she shed them from her run. As she looked around the room, she noticed the message light blinking irritably on her answering machine. Looking to the ceiling the reticent detective swore silently, Gods, what do they want now? As she sat down on the side of her bed facing the machine she quickly jumped back up as a strange sensation tingled up her right thigh. Her pager had been left on vibrate and was lying on the bed as she sat down. She looked annoyed at the tiny machine that trembled in spite of her raised brow. Picking it up, she looked at the number. It was the station house, and behind it was Travino's extension. What the hell is he doing at work this early? she mumbled to herself as she picked up the phone. She dialed the number and impatiently waited as the automated voice service gave her the option of dialing an extension. Punching the numbers in quickly she waited for Travino to pick up the phone. She let out a relieved breath when his deep voice picked up on the other end. Investigations, Travino. Chase smiled as she thought about the man, swearing like a sailor until the phone was near his head, then his professional voice took over. Playing the role of a southern belle, Chase decided to pull his chain a little. Ahhh, yeahssss. My name is Clara and I'd like to report my dog as missin.
Travino didn't bite this morning, You'll have to call the central office ma'am, I'm sorry we don't look for dogs. With that the line went dead. Chase looked at the now silent receiver and puffed a short breath from her mouth. How rude! she exclaimed. Then she dialed the number again to wait for him to answer. Investigations, Travino. Chase decided to try a more direct approach. Hey shithead. What do you want? She quipped.
Travino's broad shoulders visibly relaxed as her heard Chase's voice on the line. Chase. Where the hell have you been? I've been paging and calling, I have a black and white scouring the beach for you now. Chase tensed in opposition to Travino's now feeling better. What's going on? She listened as Travino told her of this morning's find. Our killer has struck again. Abby's here, she thinks the guy is decompensating badly. Chase scowled as she thought about what Travino had said. The killings had been well planned and taken place elsewhere and only one a month thus far. Another killing now, took the killer to two-week periods, unless this was a one-time deal. Holy shit. She exclaimed. Where's the body? She grabbed a pen and paper and quickly scribbled the location of the body down as fast as Travino talked. Okay, got it. I'm on my way. You gonna be there? She asked. Travino snorted, Why do you think I'm waiting on you Sherlock? Chase laughed in spite of the situation, a decompensating serial killer was a bad thing for the public, but it almost always meant a good break for the police. She looked at the address and told Travino she'd meet him there. Hanging up the phone she raced to the bathroom to shower and change.
Blake finished the chapter she was writing and emailed it to an editor in New York to have it proofed. She stretched as she stood from her desk and looked around the room she used as her office. The room was lined with dark wood along the walls, with high ceilings. French doors opened out onto a deck on the house. She kept the doors open most of the time and today was no exception. She smiled as she watched the cream colored curtains pull against the restraints of their ties. She thought about those curtains, how simple and light they were. They wanted nothing more than to blow freely in the wind, but their tethers refused to be denied their charge. She compared herself to those curtains. With her work being mostly dictated by editors and publishers, not to mention her overly protective manager. Blake understood what it meant to want to be free but bound by something. She closed her eyes and smelled the fresh sea air that entered through the doors. As her mind wandered it seemed that all of her senses went along for the ride. It was a glorious feeling to be able to feel a fantasy with all of her senses. Since she had moved to the beach she had noticed that gift from the gods, and was thankful for it. Her skin tingled as she pictured the object of her desires. She could feel the anticipation in her body. She inhaled, taking the scent of jasmine and leather deeper into her senses. Conjuring up the dark beauty in her mind was easy; surviving it without going into sensory overload was another story entirely. She shivered as she watched the warrior going through sword drills in her mind. She'd done this a thousand times before in a previous life, but never tired of watching the dark woman's body in action. She was poetry in motion, absolute beauty. With the combination of the wind, the ocean's waves in the distance she could picture Xena standing on a cliff that overlooked the vast ocean. As she watched in her mind her body responded to the movement of the warrior in front of her.
A funny thing happens to a woman's body when it has been denied too long. It seems to have irreparable damage done to the sensory portions of the brain. Blake smiled as she leaned her head back into her leather chair. With visions of a dark warrior running through drill after drill with her sword, Blake found herself intensely aroused. Her body tingled with the thought of the dark woman approaching her. Her skin was hot, and slightly damp with the exertion. Her lips were warm and unyielding as they met. Hudson's mouth parted slightly in open invitation of her fantasy lover. She could smell the leather, jasmine and slightly salty tang of sweat on her lover. Her hands wound familiar paths up her arms and around her body pulling her tightly to her. Mouths melded, and a fire was kindled immediately within both herself and her fantasy lover. She stifled a moan as hands found there way to her most sensitive areas. She felt the heat of her lover's large hands as they took possession of her. As the hands slid lower, she no longer stifled the moans, just let the sensations take her. She imagined the warrior's mouth moving aggressively against the creamy skin of her neck. She arched her back into the touch and leaned her head further back to allow her lover better access. She felt her body tingle with new sensations as hands caressed lower, more intimate spots. Creating a lower more urgent need. She felt herself begin to spiral away from herself as she arched into the contact. She leaned her head back slightly further, not noticing the slight creaking in her desk chair as she did. Suddenly she found herself flat on her back staring at the ceiling above her. She felt herself blush as she quickly scanned the room. Jesus, Blake, you've got to get out and get laid soon. She scolded herself as the ceiling silently mocked her. She removed her hand from her shorts and rolled off the chair in order to return it to its upright position. That or get a new chair, she admonished, pointing at the offensive piece of furniture. Oh well, she thought to herself waiting is half the fun, I guess. She resigned herself to that fact then went back to her writing.
Chase examined the body, as it lay sprawled at an awkward angle beneath an outcropping of rocks on the unyielding sand. She snapped her latex gloves on as she walked in the footprints that Travino made when he approached it. The woman was young, late twenties at the oldest, with blonde hair that was bloodied and crusted in tight mats against her head. Judging from the looks of her body she had received severe beatings over a period of several days. Many of the bruises took on a dark purple hue, buy there were marks on her upper arms and abdomen that were already greenish yellow in color, indicating that they were several days old. She looked down at Travino to confirm her suspicions, Kristin Holman? Travino nodded slowly and Chase had to turn and walk away to avoid kicking something. Kristin had been reported missing by her boyfriend three days ago. She had been seen last in a coffee shop downtown four days prior. She had disappeared without a trace. Chase looked at the picture of the girl that her boyfriend had given her when they talked to him when he filed MP report. She was five foot three, blonde hair, green eyes, athletic build; she fit the victims profile perfectly. She was a graduate student at the local university. They'd been looking for her for three days. No one had seen her talk to anyone, leave with anyone, nothing out of the ordinary. Chase sighed in frustration as she threw a heavy stone into the ocean. Chase heard Abby approach her before she spoke and held her hand up to stop the words of comfort that she was sure Abby would offer. Don't Abby. I'm fine.
Abby's hand was soft and warm as it landed gently on Chase's broad shoulder. You're not fine Chase. This is getting to you. Do you want to talk about it? She asked easily.
Chase turned to the profiler abruptly, her eyes narrowed and her voice barely controlled in anger. Talk about what Abby? she threw her arms out to the side in exasperation. Talk about how frustrating it is to know that we can pick the victims out in this investigation rather than the killer? This is getting to me Abby. It's frustrating as hell knowing when I see one of these girls hit the MP board that they'll be in the morgue by the end of the goddamned week. I know it's gonna happen, Abby! The only difference is now it's more frequently! Abby had stepped back from Chase in order to let the angry detective vent. She had needed to get this off her chest. She stood quietly for long moments listening to the ragged breaths that Chase expelled. Finally broken, Chase looked down at Abby, Why does he wait so long to kill them?
Abby took a deep breath and thought about her words carefully. She knew Chase needed an explanation, but wasn't sure was ready to hear what she had to offer. With the descriptions and the girls all being the same, I'd say our killer has a stalking tendency. Chase looked interested as she nodded her head for Abby to continue. Well, basically, he has this fantasy life that he makes up with the victim. In this case it's having an affinity for blondes with green eyes an athletic builds. He wants to have a relationship with her. Sees himself as the love of her life or a knight in shining armor. When it doesn't go as planned he loses control. Soon enough it becomes the focus. He knows the end result must be death if she doesn't choose him as her knight.
Chase scowled at her next thought. Kind of like a death before dishonor type of thing?
Exactly. Abby replied, But in this case the death is of his love. If he can't have her. ..no one will. Abby finished with a distinct emphasis on no one will.
Chase nodded slowly in understanding. She was putting together a pretty clear persona to go with what they did know about the killer. Judging by the markings on the body, he had used no drugs to sway their decisions. He allowed them to fight back. There were defensive wounds on all of the victims thus far. He seemed to pick rather spirited women. However, he did use restraint freely. This may have indicated that he kept them where he had to leave for a time or that he just wanted the control. Looking back to Abby she asked another question. So what motivated him to kill again this soon?
Abby pursed her lips in thought for a moment before replying, Well, this isn't an exact science, but my first guess would be he ran into her somewhere and thought it was fate. Chase prepared to counter but was stopped by a hand from Abby. I said guess. It's only one of any number of possibilities. I don't think this guy is decomping Chase. I think he just ran into her and didn't have time to plan everything out the way he normally does. He saw an opportunity and thought of it as pure fate.
Chase waited until Abby had finished before asking. Do you think we could fake this guy out? Give him a chance meeting with fate?
Abby looked at Chase as if she'd sprouted a second head. You want to do what?
Travino jogged over to where the two were standing after hearing Abby's voice raise an octave. You two okay? He asked looking at Abby first, then to Chase.
When Abby offered no response Chase looked at Travino. Abby was just giving me some insight into our perps psyche. I had an idea, she doesn't know about it working or not.
Abby shot a glare at Chase. This was by far the dumbest thing she'd heard come from the mouth of the gorgeous detective. And if Travino got wind of it, he'd be right on her ass, blowing wind in her sails. That's not entirely true detective, Abby replied icily. She looked to Travino and said, I think your partner is frustrated. I also think that this case is getting to her. The criminal mind, such as we have here has three motivations Chase. Manipulate. Dominate. And control.
Travino looked at Abby, then to a smugly smiling Chase. Whatever had transpired was gonna be a secret until one or the other gave in and told him. Unless he put his foot down now, deciding that now would be a better alternative Travino looked pointedly at Chase. Okay, what's this plan? And why doesn't Abby think it will work?
Chase looked down at Abby then back to Travino. When Abby merely shrugged then turned to walk away, Chase took that to mean she'd just gotten the go ahead to tell Travino. I think we should bait this guy with fate. She said triumphantly.
Travino looked surprised momentarily; then smiled as a plan started forming in his head. He nodded slowly to Chase as he directed his thumb back over his shoulder to where Kristin's body lay broken on the sand. I think there's something you need to see.
Blake finished the details of the chapter she'd been writing then stretched her short frame in the leather chair, taking caution not to find the floor again. She checked her e-mail and found that Ray's secretary had indeed made the appropriate travel arrangements and planned a quick itinerary for her trip to New York.
She hated New York. Despite its artistic culture, the city was dirty, dank, hateful, and confining. Blake had grown up in the Midwest. A farm kid with a knack for writing and a love of literature. She was raised where you couldn't see another dwelling for miles. She remembered lazy July Sundays and you had barbecues that didn't involve people being toasted in homes or cars. She remembered laying on a blanket of clover in her grandpa's back yard. She made do with a pillow of hay and nothing but sky and stars to cover her. Closing her eyes she could still remember the smell of fresh cut hay and clover as it bloomed in the fields. In New York, you had to drive for hours just to find grass. Not the landscaping grass used by companies in the city; but real honest to goodness, make you sneeze when you mowed, grass. The smog and buildings did little to enhance her creative needs. She needed to focus on her writing, but in the concrete jungle it was to no avail. She'd written and published more than ten books in the last eight years. Critics had said her latest book was cramped and restrained. She'd taken the hits as always with critics like those in New York, arrogant and insightful in their own minds. But she knew deep down inside that this one was right on the money. She'd taken the hint and moved to the ocean, where she didn't feel cramped and restrained. Mysteries had been her bread and butter, but the squalor and suffocating confines of the big city had finally taken their toll on the young writer. Then one night, she'd had a dream about a warrior in leather, with sable hair and eyes of the deepest blue. She dreamt she'd fallen into a large pit, she was falling so fast the air had been forced from her lungs. Just when she thought she couldn't take another second of the fall, she had been stopped. A large hand had grasped hers and pulled her back to safety. For her own mystery had just been opened and she vowed to see it through. The ocean had beckoned her to find this lost piece of a previous life. If this soul mate were truly out there, she would find her.
Chase studied the bottle pieces intently. It was the same glass that she had found the previous notes in. The letter that was crumpled beneath the girl's body had saturated with saltwater and had sand plastered to it. The cork was no where to be found. The bottle, broken into small fragments around Kristin's body. It was apparent that the killer had used it to bludgeon her to death. A slightly startled Abby approached the pair as they looked at this unusual clue left behind by their killer. As Travino meticulously placed the pieces of the bottle in an evidence bag, Chase looked to Abby, her face pale, Abby, what do you make of this?
Abby looked at the parchment then at the remnants of the bottle. Thinking about the possible connection, Abby asked Chase. What's the note say?
Chase shrugged a reply, We won't be able to read it until forensics is done with it for possible prints.
Abby looked at the parchment as Travino slowly and delicately placed in a brown bag to be processed. Well, when we read the note maybe I'll know more to tell you about our killer. But he definitely went against his normal MO here.
Nodding to what she already knew, Chase decided against saying anything about the matching bottles that were tucked securely in a drawer of her desk at home.
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