Of Karma, Kismet, and Finding the Way

by Rescuewarrior

For disclaimers, see part 1

Part Three

Chase looked at the evidence that they had gathered from the latest crime scene. Kristin had been a beautiful young woman. Chase and Travino had held her mother while she cried, and they promised her everything was being done to catch the killer. Chase had bite her tongue all the while, feeling like there was something more they could have done. Her knuckles were white from clenching her fists at her side while Kristin's father screamed and threw things in his living room. He then turned to Chase and asked if Kristin had been raped. “We won't know anything until the medical examiner has completed his examination, sir.” She remembered looking him square in the eye and lying to him.
“Cop out,” she berated herself. Chase stood for an unknown amount of time, hands braced on the table, head lowered. There has to be something here we're missing. She thought to herself. She took slow deep breaths as she thought about the women. They were perfect, looks, friendly, outgoing, intelligent and independent. They were the modern American girls next door. Closing her eyes, she still saw their faces, marred and battered all in the name of a love they didn't feel. Chase walked up to the chalkboard. There, taped to the smooth dusky surface were the pictures of all the victims. She looked at the pictures, the disappearance places, the times of day they suspected them of disappearing. Everything added up to being no more close to the killer than they were ten months ago. She thought very seriously about her plan from earlier that day. Why wouldn't it work? If this guy was so bent on fate or karma or whatever the hell it was that drove him to seek out these women, why couldn't he be baited with it? Chase picked up her coffee mug and took a large mouthful of black coffee. She must have been standing there for a long time, because the coffee was incredibly cold and bitter. She spit it back into her cup as quickly as it hit her mouth. She wrinkled her nose in disgust and went in search of another cup of coffee.

Blake's travel arrangements were all made. She was to leave for New York in two days. She sighed loudly as she finished putting essentials into a bag. Three days. Surely she could handle going back into the filth and grime for three days. She sighed again as she went to her computer and typed a quick e-mail to her sister. She missed her sister badly. Of all the things in her life she missed, Bridgett was the one thing she missed the most. After she'd gone to New York, coming out of the closet was easy. Going back home to the Midwest was not as easy. The women in New York were pushy, and arrogant. But they were willing, even if the second question they asked you was how your finances were. In New York, you could be out on the town with a beautiful woman and no one gave you a second thought. In a Midwest town of two thousand, it was a whole other world. Blake's family had exiled her after finding out she was gay. Her grandfather was livid, her father disappointed, and her mother was embarrassed. Bridgett had simply given her a hug and told her she didn't care one way or the other. Blake was her sister and she loved her no matter what. She also laughed about not having to worry about dates that wanted her sister instead of her. Blake had kept in contact with Bridgett over e-mail, phone calls, cards for the holidays, and the infrequent visit. Bridgett would be transferring to another college next year to continue her master's degree and seriously wanted to move to South Carolina to go to school and live with her sister. Blake was ten years her sister's senior and had told Bridgett to think very seriously about the consequences of her actions. She wanted nothing more than to spend time with her sister, but knew her family would be very angry. Blake finished her e-mail by telling her sister she loved her and that she would call as soon as she returned from New York.

Chase stood silently in the ME's office listening to the monologue that had gotten all too familiar over the past two months. She hated this part, listening to the story unfold through a microscope instead of hearing a victim tell it themselves.
“Well, the cause of death was cerebral hemorrhage.” Dr. Marx explained. He was a rotund man, of fifty-five, with a balding head that was often covered in a surgeon's cap. He wore light blue scrubs that were stained with blood and other bodily fluids that Chase didn't want to think about. “Apparently, blunt trauma with a round object. I found pieces of glass embedded in her head and her neck, so I'm assuming it was a large bottle that she got hit with. Did you find anything at the scene?”
“Yeah, we found pieces of a large green glass bottle around and under the body.” Travino supplied. “We sent the glass and a letter that was with it to forensics for microscopic and printing.”
Dr. Marx pursed his lips and nodded thoughtfully. “Good, maybe this will be more than what we've found so far.” He turned back to the counter where he was scribbling notes. He then took a bite out of a ham and cheese on rye that was sitting on the counter next to him. Chase had to fight the urge to be sick. How could anyone eat in the same room with bodies he was in the process of cutting to pieces? As the detectives turned to go Dr. Marx stopped them with a muffled, “Hmmffff, waif a miffnit.” They both turned back to see Dr. Marx trying to swallow the mouthful of sandwich as he waived them back to the table. He pointed to the table that the body lay motionless on. “One more thing, I think our girl was trying to escape when she was killed.” Both detectives looked confused. All the bodies had been found on the beach, the only obvious difference here was the cause of death. “What makes you say that?” Chase asked.
Dr. Marx smiled like a Cheshire Cat. “She had food in her stomach. Not just any ordinary type of food, her last meal was surf and turf.” When both detectives looked confused again Dr. Marx elaborated. “All the other victims had empty stomachs, so much so that they had shrunk. This young lady was trying to make a go with our killer. He probably cooked the meal and decided he could trust her enough to go for a walk on the beach. The beatings she had taken varied a little from his normal pattern. Meaning, he didn't beat her as often. She was compliant. I'm suspecting it was to find an opportunity to escape.” Both detectives wrote furiously on note pads and then left to go to forensics.
Forensics was a dank and drab place to hang out. Travino hated it and Chase hated it worse. It was in the basement of the ME's central offices. The area was confined to be sound proof so that ballistics testing and crime scene replications could take place. The area was abnormally quiet today, Chase noted. The scientists and forensic experts that worked here were true to life hermits. They were interested in their microscopic little worlds that revolved around hairs and fibers and bone collections. If there was a clue to be found, the geek squad could find it. As much as the forensic guys creeped Chase out, they never ceased to amaze her with their findings. And for the millionth time in her career, she thanked whatever Gods were listening that there were geeks like this to find them. Gary Benson was one of those geeks. At five foot four inches tall, Gary was rail thin and had ashen gray skin from hours spent in his little laboratory in the basement of the ME's office. Chase smirked as she figured Gary would spontaneously combust if he ever saw sunlight. She knew he was in the office before dawn and often stayed until after dark. They found Gary studying a piece of glass under a large electron microscope. His sharply angled face was tight and pensive as he adjusted the light from the scope and turned the angle of the glass this way and that. He had dark hair that was always in need of a trim. His gray eyes looked into the microscope's eyepieces as a story unfolded in front of him. Travino took great pleasure in sneaking up on the geek at work. He tiptoed up behind Gary and with a sharp tap of his index finger yelled, “How's it goin' bud?” Gary jumped, nearly falling off of his stool as he turned to Travino and scolded him. “You know, one of these days, someone's gonna clean your clock for sneaking up on them like that.”
“Yeah, but it won't be you.” Travino smirked. He looked at Chase who just shook her head slowly. Travino could still be such a kid. Kind of a bully at times, but he was good at his job and so far no one had killed him for being a shithead once in a while. She turned her eyes to Gary and smiled. “How are ya Gary?”
The geek smiled back. “I'm good Chase, thanks. I see you're still keeping company with the less than desirable.” Travino scowled at Gary and Chase smirked. “Well, you know, it's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Gary supplied. He half turned to his microscope and pointed to the bag of glass pieces on the counter next to him. “Wanna tell me what you know about this glass?”
“I'm hoping you can tell us more than we know.” Chase retorted. “Isn't that why you're the forensics geek and we're the foot soldiers?”
Gary smiled. “Well, sort of.” He returned. “I just wanted to know the bits and pieces stuff. You know; who did the processing at the scene? Where did you find the bottle pieces? Was there anything else with the bottle? Stuff like that, that will help me make more of what I'm finding.”
Chase and Travino both perked up at the thought that Gary may have found something. “What did you find?” The asked together.
Gary smirked. “Well, either our killer wasn't as meticulous with this kill or we had a really sloppy crime scene tech.”
“Nah,” Chase replied. “Harper did the crime scene. He's meticulous as hell, he's done all the crime scenes since day one on this case.”
Gary nodded in agreement. He'd never had a problem with Harper on evidence collection. The guy was good. Never had a contaminated specimen, he was as thorough as the techs here in the lab that looked at what they processed. “Well, then we may very well have a blood type on your perp.” Chase and Travino both sucked in large breaths. Gary smiled. “I found two types of blood on the glass pieces. Also found traces of sodium, and latex as well as latex powder.”
“Anything definite on the blood type?” Travino asked.
“Nope, just that there were definitely two types. With the way the blood was spattered I'm guessing he cut his hands when the bottle broke and it took him a couple of seconds to register.”
“What about the glass?” Chase asked.
“Well, it's common. You can buy it at any store. Like Pier One Imports or something like that. There was a notation that a note was found on parchment paper with the victim. The romantic part of me suspects that if you had a note and a bottle, the only thing you would be missing would be a cork to seal the bottle.” Gary mused.
“What if we had another one just like it, would it help?” Chase asked. She noticed Travino shooting her a confused glance but decided to ignore it for the time being.
“The only thing it would help me with would be origin. Without the killer coming into contact with it, I don't think it would help that much. Dan's processing the letter I think. He confirmed two types of blood on the parchment. He's trying to clean it up so that it's legible. I don't know what else he found. The only thing I can tell you is that the larger pieces were quite worn.” Gary finished.
“What do you mean, worn?” Travino asked, still eyeing Chase.
“There was quite a bit of corrosion on the bottle.” Gary said again.
“How long was it on the sand?” Travino asked.
“Not from the sand, boy genius,” Gary huffed, “from seawater”.
“What do you mean?” Chase asked.
“I mean that your mystery bottle was afloat in the ocean for quite a while before it came ashore.” Gary supplied.
“A message in a bottle type thing?” Travino asked.
“Well, yeah, I guess. I can tell you from the corrosion that the bottle was afloat for approximately two months, the cork would tell me for sure. It creates a seal that allows me to measure both sides, the sealed part versus the exposed part. It would allow us to make a better determination of how long it was in the water.” Gary explained. His pointed nose looking over the top of his horn rimmed glasses, made him look like more of a geek.
Chase tapped her chin thoughtfully for a moment. Then decided to show her cards tactfully. Looking at Gary she asked, “If we had another bottle that was similar, with a cork found within a mile or two of the crime scene, would that be any help?”
Travino's eyes nearly popped out of his head. “Chase what the hell are you talking about?”
“Be quiet Travino.” She snapped, then she turned back to Gary. “Well, could it?”
Gary looked thoughtfully at the pieces on the table in front of him. “Well, it couldn't hurt I guess. Maybe it would give us something.”
“Okay, let me see what I can drag up for you,” Chase offered. Travino and Chase left Gary's office in search of forensic geek number two, Dan Owens.
In the hall outside of Gary's office, Travino looked at Chase out of the corner of his eye. He knew the case had the both of them stressed, but he was seriously starting to think that Abby was right. Maybe Chase was getting frustrated. Maybe she needed a break. He'd talk to Abby about it then maybe the Captain. After Chase's blowup at the scene yesterday and her behavior today, Travino thought for sure he needed to intervene.

Dan Owens' office resembled Gary's in many ways. But Dan was a different type of geek. He specialized in crime scenes of the paper and ink variety. On the wall in his office hung sheets of paper some in frames some not. All meticulously labeled with types, dates, manufacturers and the like. He could tell you everything you wanted to know but didn't really care to about any kind of paper made. Where Gary was rail thin and pale, Dan was big and his skin was slightly pale with a red face. His hypertension showed on his face, literally. He pushed a pencil behind a beefy earlobe as he greeted the two detectives. “Well, well, what have we here?” He smiled in greeting to both Chase and Travino as they entered his domain.
“Hey Dan, we just wanted to see what you found on that letter we sent you from our beach killing.” Chase supplied easily.
“Well, the only thing I can tell you right now is that I can't read a coherent sentence on it. Between the blood, sand and seawater, it's pretty much anyone's guess. I'm getting ready to try to lift what I can off of it though.” Dan answered.
“Can you tell us anything about the paper that can help?” Travino asked.
Dan smiled a knowing smile, “Ah, smart boy. Paper can tell you a lot about someone.” His reply was his typical cryptic response to a question. Chase thought he only did it to annoy them.
“What have you got Dan?” She asked irritatedly.
“You know Chase, and I'm only saying this because I care, but there are a lot of decaffs on the market today that are just as tasty as the real thing.” Dan laughed along with Travino, but for some reason Chase failed to see the humor in the joke. She hadn't had a decent night's sleep in weeks and wondered what the hell she'd do without her caffeine.
Dan decided that the detective wasn't in the mood for humor today, so he began his explanation of what he'd found so far. “Well, your paper trail, no pun intended, leads us on an interesting little chase, detectives.” He looked at Travino, who had the sense to laugh and to Chase who did not. “The paper is a high grade stuff, made of cotton fibers and not your usual pulp. It's about a thirty pound weight paper; most of your standard stationary stuff is twenty-four pound weight. This is real to life parchment paper. It's also very expensive, about forty bucks a box. A box only holds about twenty-five sheets. The other thing is that I know why they use such a heavy weight parchment.” Both detectives looked curiously as he continued. “The ink is a heavy indigo that is written with by quill.” He finished the sentence smugly and with a wide smile on his rotund face.
“How do you know that?” Travino asked.
“Well, if you look at the ink impressions under the microscope there are definite impressions that take on a V-shaped appearance. Also, the strokes are bold and wider than any normal felt tip pen on the market today. This is definitely a quill trait.” Chase looked into the eyepiece of the microscope to see what the hell Dan was talking about. Sure enough, even though you couldn't tell you were looking a piece of paper with writing on it, you could see the V-shaped wedge indented in the parchment. She stepped back to let Travino have a look at the microscopic section of the paper. While he looked on, she turned back to Dan. “Does that mean the paper can't be bleached to read it?”
Dan scratched his head momentarily as he thought about the question. “Well, with the number that the ocean water and blood did on it, I'm afraid that bleaching the parchment would have the same effect as bleaching a cotton shirt. You'd lose your color. Even though the ink is high quality stuff, the parchment would absorb most of it leaving nothing but white. It would even remove the dye from the paper color.” Dan finished.
“Okay, can you tell us where you can buy this paper?” Travino asked, looking away from the microscope.
“I've got a guy in research doing that now. But if I'm not mistaken, you can buy it from any specialty art store or a few good book stores. Not a lot of them mind you, but a few.” He finished.
“What about the ink?” Chase asked.
“I'd guess they were bought at the same place or from the same supplier. Anyone that sold this paper is probably pretty familiar with his or her stuff. They would probably be able to tell you who bought it. Along with the quill, those would be carried together as well.”
“Have you found anything else?” Chase asked.
“Nothing other than two different types of blood on the paper. I sent it over to the lab to have a type and screen done on them. I'll let you know if I find anything else out about the paper.” Dan replied.
The two detectives considered themselves dismissed and left in search of the lab.

Blake spent the afternoon looking at corrections that her editor had e-mailed her from her last book. The book was to be published in less than two weeks and the final preparations were harried at best. She looked over the corrections and suggestions making notes in margins on the hard copy and comparing it to the virtual copy on the screen in front of her. As she followed along making the corrections, the ringing of her phone interrupted her progress. Sighing she picked up the phone, “Hello?”
“Blake, hi, it's Ray.” Ray's voice sounded distant and fuzzy over the line.
“Ray, hi. I'm just making the final edits on the book. What's up?”
“I'm calling to talk to you about a phone call I just got from the office.” Ray replied.
“Are you at work?” Blake asked.
“No I'm on my car phone. I'm on my way to Connecticut for the weekend.” Came the fuzzy reply.
“Okay, it's hard to hear you.” Blake raised her voice in response to the static.
“I know, sorry. Listen, I'll call you when we get to the cabin. I need to talk to you about something.” Ray said.
“Okay Ray, call me when you get there. Safe trip hon.” Blake hollered.
“Thanks, Marge says hello. I'll talk to you in a couple of hours.” With that, the line went dead.
Blake looked at the phone as she hung it up. She paused only slightly before placing it back on her shoulder as she dialed a number she knew by heart, but rarely called.
The phone rang four times on the other end before being picked up by an answering machine. She left a message for Bridgett to call her. Then went about finishing her editing.
It was nearly two hours later when her phone rang. Blake, thankful for the break in editing and corrections, picked it up on the first ring. “Hello?”
“Blake? It's Ray again.” Ray's deep tenor sounded through the phone lines.
“Hi Ray. I guess you made it to Connecticut safely?” She asked.
“Yes, we're fine. I need to talk to you about a call we got at the office today.” Ray began.
“Okay, what's up?”
“You remember I told you about the stalking incident?” Ray started.
Blake felt herself bristle at the question, but she casually answered, “Yeah?”
She heard Ray take a deep breath, then begin to tell the tale. “Well, he was arrested in the city this morning. They caught him hanging outside the publishing house. He was waiting for you.”
Blake's heart was hammering in her chest, and she let out a breath she'd been holding. Ray's secretary had changed her flight plans to accommodate an editor's other commitments and was supposed to be there today. “Oh, thank the Gods. Do they know who he is? Did he say why he was stalking me?”
Blake could hear Ray's smile through the phone. “Yes, his name was Danny Meyers. He's a college student at NYU. Apparently he had a writing class with you a few years ago and has been smitten ever since. He says he wasn't trying to hurt you, just wanted to get closer, to get to know you better.”
Blake became suddenly weak as she tried to remember the young man that Ray spoke of. The truth of the matter was, she didn't. She hadn't paid any attention to who was in any of her classes, and if they weren't female, she really didn't notice. She instantly felt better now that they knew who he was. “Did they say if he was armed or anything?” Blake asked hesitantly.
“No he wasn't. He had a bunch of flowers, and had been waiting outside for about two or three hours. Apparently, whoever his contact was on the inside didn't know we changed your travel plans.” Ray explained.
“So this guy was harmless?” Blake asked.
“Well, I don't think that is the case. I think the potential for violence would have been there if you hadn't acknowledged his gifts or him for that matter. From what the police told me, this guy is smitten with you. Security noticed him standing there and asked the police to come and talk to him. Apparently, he threw one hell of a fit asking for you by your real name.” Ray explained.
Blake pursed her lips in thought for a moment. “Ray, he would have known my real name from being in a class with me, but how did he know my pen name and who I worked for?”
Ray cleared his throat softy before continuing. “Well, according to the police, he has a cousin that works for us in the mail room. He got your name and your pen name and in the course of conversation, found you.” Ray said quickly.
“He what?” Blake asked incredulously.
“Blake calm down. After the first incident and your move to South Carolina only Doris and myself knew where you were. There's no chance he knows where you are now.”
For some reason, Ray's reassurance of her safety didn't make her feel a whole lot better. Very few people at Rutledge Publishing knew who she was. How a complete stranger had found out about her and made the connection from the mailroom was shocking to say the least. She shivered involuntarily at the thought of what could have happened if she hadn't changed her travel plans. Suddenly going in to New York seemed like a very bad idea altogether. Ray's voice asking if she was still there brought her out of her temporary reverie. “What? Oh, yeah I'm still here Ray. Listen, maybe I should postpone coming to New York.”
“Blake, the guys in custody, he's so damned scared right now, he won't be back. He sent his apologies and agreed to stay away from the publishing house. I think it will be fine.” Ray reassured.
Blake hesitated for a short time, before agreeing. “Okay Ray. I'm scheduled to be on the way Monday morning. I'll see you then.”
“Take care of yourself Blake. Enjoy your weekend. I'll see you when you get to town.” Ray replied.
“Okay, thanks Ray.” Blake stated as she hung up the phone.
Blake sat at her desk for a long period of time not knowing whether to be relieved that her stalker had been caught or to be scared half senseless that someone in the mailroom had access to her normally quiet and very private life. She sighed as she took out a box from her desk drawer. She carefully extracted the ornately carved box and placed it on her desk and opened lid. She slowly removed a heavy quill pen, a bottle of indigo ink, and two sheets of her favorite beige parchment. She sat for long moments before finally dipping the quill tip into the ink. She sighed contentedly as she listened to the low rough scraping sound of the quill tip on the heavy parchment. She wrote two pages, carefully lying them next to one another to dry. As they dried, she walked to the kitchen to remove a glass bottle and retrieve a cork from the drawer. Returning minutes later, she placed the now dry pages together before carefully rolling them up and sliding them into the bottle. Sealing the bottle with a cork, she walked out of her house and to towards the ocean.

Chase walked into her house in an absolute fit of anger. Travino had argued with her about her getting too involved in the case and how it might help if she took a few days off. She had told Travino in no uncertain terms to go fuck himself. She kicked off her shoes and stalked through the house to her bedroom. Quickly finding her running shoes, Chase changed into a pair of Lycra shorts and a black tank top. She angrily tied her shoes and took off running out the back door.
Chase always thought more clearly while running. For some reason it helped her focus when she wasn't quite sure what to do about something. She'd been practically living at work for sixteen hours a day and it was definitely getting to her. She lengthened her stride and relaxed slightly as she heard the solid thud of her feet on packed sand. She kept her eyes open and focused on the horizon in front of her. Wishing secretly that she could just run right into the void created where the sky met the earth in front of her. As she focused, she began to have visions in front of her. She could see the pictures of the women, their broken bodies lying on the sand.
She saw Travino, the one person who could see right through her. His hazel eyes and the way they silently questioned her about the bottles. She couldn't have answered him if she tried. She didn't know the answers to the questions. She saw Abby and her knowing silence. She thought about the killer, he had a message in a bottle too. He had this sense of fate as well. Chase focused on that sense. She thought about the letters she had at home. All of them were very detailed in the aspect of physicality and descriptions. She thought about why the letters had appealed to her inner self. She thought of the longing she had felt and the pang of need that was buried somewhere so deep inside of her, she didn't know how to free it. She thought about how she had felt that she matched the description of the warrior that the writer had described. She was tall, dark hair, blue eyes……suddenly Chase stopped running. She had an epiphany. The letters also described the writer. Short, straw colored locks, compact frame, and green eyes. Chase slowed to a stop turning slowly toward the ocean and looked out to the horizon. “Holy fucking shit.” She exclaimed softly. The killer was tall, dark hair and had blue eyes too. It was right in front of her, the writer of those letters had given a description of what had seemed to be a mated pair. Perfect contrasts of light and darkness. The killer did think it was fate. He just wasn't sure who it was. He was searching for the girl described in the letters. He thought he was the one, the one person who contrasted her light. Chase looked back toward her home, taking off at a jog again she soon found herself at a dead run.

Travino and Abby sat quietly talking on Chase's back deck. Abby's small frame sitting on the deck chair and Travino's larger one leaning on the railing. Travino looked out onto the ocean as he asked Abby softly, “Do you think she's losing her mind?”
Abby rarely smiled, but when she did it was often shy and delicate. Travino and Chase had often teased her that she should do it more often. She thought about that, letting the smile grow slightly as she shook her head. “No, she's not. She's frustrated and missing a piece to this case that she thinks she should have. I'm not an expert on police psyche, but Chase is not losing her mind.”
Travino had a relieved smile on his face as he looked down at the profiler. “She's the best detective I've ever worked with. I've just never seen a case get to her like this.”
“Can I ask you something?” Abby inquired. Travino nodded mutely as he continued to look at the profiler. “Do you think Chase is frustrated by this case or by the fact that she's not meeting a challenge?”
Travino thought about it for a moment. He and Chase had solved every homicide they had worked. So far they were batting a thousand, until this case occurred. He suddenly realized that Chase was a perfectionist in all she did. That realization gave him a new insight into things. He looked down at Abby and smiled a slow sad smile. “She's a perfectionist, and this isn't going perfectly. As far as she's concerned, one homicide in this area is one too many. The fact that this guy is getting to her is evidence to that.”
Abby nodded and turned her head to look out along the beach. The sun was setting low in the horizon and she figured she and Travino had been waiting for Chase for nearly an hour and half. She looked up the beach and inclined her head that direction when she saw the form of the tall dark woman. She and Travino both stood and watched as Chase approached at a dead run.

Chase slowed down to a walk as she noticed the two figures standing on her deck. She smiled to herself as she approached the duo. Walking up the steps she smiled at Travino who looked slightly surprised and then she smiled down at Abby. Abby returned the smile, the same shy smile that was instantly replaced with a solemn face. “How are you?”
Chase smiled in understanding. She had definitely not been herself lately. She looked to Travino and nodded to them both. “I'm fine. I am glad you're both here. I need to show you something.” She walked purposefully into the house, with the other two following suit.
She pulled a menu off the refrigerator and handed it to Travino, “Here, order some dinner. I'm going to grab a shower and we have some things to discuss.”
Travino nodded mutely to Chase as she walked into the bedroom. A short time later she emerged, showered and fresh, changed into jeans and a pullover red fleece. She stalked to the refrigerator and removed a bottle of water from the confines. She drank as Abby and Travino looked on anxiously. Okay, here goes nothing she thought to herself. “Look this case has been getting to me lately. I'm not exactly sure what about it has gotten me, but it did.” She pointedly looked at Travino, “I'm sorry about what I said today. I didn't mean it, I know you were only trying to help.” Travino nodded his acceptance of the apology. She then turned to look at Abby, “Quit analyzing me doc, I'm fine.” Abby blushed and looked down at the table.
“I'm glad you're all right Chase.” She said quietly. “Now, I think you said something about a discussion earlier?”
Chase smiled and nodded, “Be right back.” Abby and Travino shared curious glances with one another as Chase bounced into the room she used as an office and workout room. True to her word, she returned moments later with three green glass bottles, matching corks and paper. Abby and Travino both looked at the collection on the table slack jawed. Travino touched the yellowed parchment tentatively, as he if expected it not to really be there. Abby inspected the bottles with small hands, lifting them and looking at the sides. Chase smiled knowingly at both. She knew they were shocked, but this was unexpected, they looked like kids that had just walked outside to see snow for the first time. As reality clicked into Travino's head, he looked up at Chase. “Where did you get these?” As Chase opened her mouth to answer, a knock at the door interrupted her. She held up a finger and went in search of her wallet to pay for dinner.

As the threesome settled in to eat, Travino cleared his throat and repeated his previous question. "Where'd ya find these letters at Chase?”
Chase filled her plate and took a long pull from the long neck bottle in front of her. As she swallowed she looked pointedly at Travino. “I found them on the beach.”
Abby and Travino both exchanged glances then looked back to Chase. She was eating with gusto and showed no signs of soon stopping. Travino sighed at Abby, who smiled slightly and they dug into to their food as well.
When dinner was finished, Chase fished two beers and a wine cooler from the fridge. She handed the wine cooler to Abby, and one beer to Travino. She sat back down on the chair and looked pointedly at them both. “Have either of you ever had a feeling of déjà vu?”
Abby and Travino exchanged glances before looking back to Chase. Both nodded and she continued. She picked up one of the letters and carefully unrolled the parchment. “I found this first letter after the third killing. I was running on the beach and happened across it. I was profoundly moved by it to say the least. It was like I felt this weird sort of attachment to it. Like I had made a cosmic connection of sorts. I don't know exactly how to explain it.” She shrugged slightly and handed the paper to Abby, “Read this and tell me what you think of it.”
She handed the second one to Travino and asked him to do the same. She sat back quietly nursing her beer as the other two read the letters.
Abby's eyes welled slightly with tears as she finished the third letter. She quickly wiped them and looked back up to Chase. Her eyes were filled with sudden insight. “He's tall, and dark. With black hair and blue eyes.” Chase's smile widened as she looked to Travino who had just had the same revelation. The three looked at each other with newfound purpose and strength and a new direction with their case. Abby fingered the parchment lightly as she quietly asked Chase the next logical question. “Why didn't you tell us about this today?”
Chase looked down at the table, finding a slight crack in the grout that needed immediate investigation. She could feel the slight blush burning against her neck and creeping around to her face. “I wanted to be the one in the letter.”
She answered so softly that the other two almost didn't hear. Travino looked confused and Abby nodded in silent understanding. “Now you almost know what is going on in his head.”
Chase looked up at Abby and half-smirked. “Yeah, I do. I know how this started in him, but I didn't have the desire to track down every blonde with green eyes I could find and then kill them.”
Travino looked even more confused as Abby spoke again, “What did I tell you about the criminal mind?”
Chase closed her eyes and repeated what Abby had said earlier that day. “Manipulate. Dominate. Control.”
Abby nodded again and smiled a little. “You got it Chase. You found what we missed even if it was by accident. You're not a serial killer; you have no desire for those things. You have them with your job. Our killer doesn't. He lives in a fantasy world he creates and therefor controls. He places the victim at the scenes. He manipulates the evidence. He has been the one in control, until this time.”
Travino looked over at Abby as the realization dawned on him as well. “We know what he looks like, sort of. But how in the hell are we going to find him?”
Abby looked back to Chase and smiled, “I think we need to find our writer.”
Chase nodded in agreement. “We also need to post a description of this guy at the office. Have every black and white get a composite. I want them to beef up security at the campus, and in the quad. I think this guy is a lot closer to us than we'd like.” When Abby and Travino looked confused again, Chase elaborated. “He found the bottle on the same goddamn stretch of beach I run every morning. I've found three there. This guy is close.”
Abby and Travino both looked slightly startled by that revelation. “You sure you're okay staying here?” Abby asked.
Chase smiled, “I'm fine. I'd love to run into this guy on the beach. But I don't think that's gonna happen. What if this letter was his only one?”
Abby and Travino both agreed that if it was the killer would be furious. They also agreed that they needed to take the letters in along with the bottles and corks for analysis. Chase reluctantly agreed after Travino promised her she'd get them back. They had a writer and a serial killer to find. The three of them put their heads together until late in the evening forming a plan of action with their newfound knowledge.
Chase slept incredibly well that night. Late into the night she dreamt of a blonde woman, more beautiful than she could describe. The woman was dressed in a short skirt and wore a short soft leather top that left little to the imagination. Smiling happily in her slumber allowing the eroticism of the dream take her away.

Blake arose before her alarm clock. With such a rare occurrence happening, she could hardly avoid taking advantage of it. She looked at the pillow next to her and sighed. She swore she could smell the lingering scent of lovemaking. Her skin tingled slightly at the memory of her dream. “Damn” she swore softly to the answering emptiness.
Today she was to leave for New York. Normally when she had to leave for the city, she skipped her morning run. Since she'd beaten her alarm clock to life today, she decided to take advantage of the extra hour. She quickly dressed in her running clothes and took off out the door to the beach. She stretched her legs and began a slow jog around Isle of Palms. Normally she didn't run this route but today she had to be quick. As she felt her body loosen up with the jog, she slowly increased her pace and her stride. As she continued on she thought about her trip. She was not in the least bit excited about going to New York until she'd talked to Bridgett. After an hour of coaxing Blake had talked her into meeting her in New York for the three days. After she got done at Rutledge, they could shop, eat out, and maybe catch a show or two on Broadway. Ray had friends that could get her tickets to see anything they wanted to see. She thought about her younger sister and how much she meant to her. There were times when she had been so depressed and withdrawn that if it hadn't been for Bridgett, Blake was quite sure she wouldn't be here now. She owed her life to her little sister and it was about time to start paying her back. Deciding that she would finish all of her business in New York within two days, Blake turned around and headed back towards home.

Part 4

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