Chapter 22

February 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm (The Truth)

Steven’s knife had gotten a lot of play. He had enjoyed it immensely, but he would pay for it once his teacher found out. He’d killed her, which wasn’t a problem, except that he’d killed her too soon. The blood had excited him and he couldn’t contain his joy. His knife had slashed and jabbed and he had given in to his soul’s wish to mate in blood.

It had been glorious. He knew that it would be, but he hadn’t expected such euphoria to come with it. He felt whole again. The ritual, for surely that’s what this was, had revitalized him in a way that his previous killings had not been able to. Steven knew what this meant. It was time for the teacher’s way to pass and for the student’s way to become.

His teacher would not be pleased. Steven would have to do something about that. He recognized his vulnerabilities. They were not so great as his teacher’s, though just as deadly should that cop figure it out. Steven knew all about the cop who was hunting him. He would not underestimate the man, but it was difficult to remind him of that when the cop didn’t have a clue who he was looking for.

The cop, Macon Novak, was running around the city trying to find him. The press had skewered him, calling him lazy and incompetent. Adriana Sutton had dropped a bomb with all that bullshit about seeing a vision of the killer. Mack had fired back at that reporter damn quickly. Steven had enjoyed her annoyance. The blood had rushed to her face and he’d imagined it running all down her neck and into his hands. His suit jacket had hid his erection from the rest of the public. He had come out to watch Novak get fed to the sharks and he’d been a little annoyed when Novak hadn’t said more than a few sentences.

He had switched the topic from Steven’s work onto the little whore, Nikki. She hadn’t been worth their time, but Novak had talked as though she mattered. As if any of them would have paid the bitch any mind if Steven hadn’t brought her to their attention in the first place. If not for him, they’d never have heard of her. Steven was turning their shitty little lives into big news.

He laughed when he thought of the service he was providing and that he could charge people for it. Get your fifteen minutes of fame. All it will cost you is your life and a little blood. Engulfed in his own hilarity, Steven rolled around on the floor, soaking up the blood from Nikki’s luscious body. He’d fucked her for several hours before he’d finished her. She had been very good at her job. A little whore to the end, she had promised him all sorts of sexual favours if he’d just stop hurting her.

Her cries of pain had only made him harder. If she’d figured that out, she might have tried to stop her crying, but Nikki wasn’t the brightest bulb in the package. Steven thought the perky little reporter would put up a bigger fight. She’d be quick enough to learn what not to do. The more he thought about her, the more he wanted her. He was getting another erection just thinking about her. Too bad Nikki was dead. He could use her services right about now.

Steven’s eyes caressed the carnage his knife had created. Nikki was nearly unrecognizable. He stroked a hand down what was left of the flesh on her thigh. The skin had chilled and the blood was thickening. It didn’t taste nearly as sweet as it had when it poured from her, hot and fast. He spread her thighs once more and slammed himself inside her. She couldn’t feel the pain, but the flesh was still sweet. He heard her cries in his head and they encouraged him to take more.

He kissed her mouth as he grunted and thrust himself inside her. When he was spent, he lay down beside her and tucked her body into the curve of his. His face pressed to the side of her neck, Steven began to nod off. Sleep was dangerous. He had to get Nikki placed outside before dawn arose. But it was so nice just being able to hold her like this.

He would have to plan better with the reporter. He wanted to prolong their enjoyment as much as he could. He would have to find a new place to use. The warehouse that his teacher had picked out wasn’t sufficient for his needs. He wanted some of the comforts of home. Steven thought that maybe a cabin out of the city would be nice. As long as it didn’t take long to get there. He needed to have quick access to his girls. And they needed him to be close by, too.

Steven stroked Nikki’s hair as he formulated several new plans. He made a To Do list in his head. Task number one, Steven had to dispose of poor Nikki’s body. Task number two, he had to complete his teacher’s plan, though Steven decided he would add his own twist to the eventual outcome. Task number three was to become an independent. Once his teacher’s plan was finished, his teacher would have outlived his usefulness. And loose ends needed to be snipped.

He would be quick about it, Steven decided. He knew from past experiences that he had little liking for killing men, or boys.

***

Nelle had gotten the call from her father’s secretary stating that he wished her to come to the hospital immediately to have the transplant done. Nelle had informed his secretary that she would not be having the transplant done in Surrey and her father would not be dictating when the procedure occurred.

She wasn’t surprised when her father turned up on her doorstep the next day. She hadn’t seen Mack in two days, but knew that he had been busy with his case. He’d called her several times to make sure everything was alright with her. She was a little worried about the killer’s potential targeting of her. She had called her mother, which was tempting the fates, but she’d had to warn her. The killer had taken Mack’s mom and that meant that her own wasn’t safe, either.

Her mother hadn’t taken the threat seriously, but her husband had. He’d immediately booked them on a thirty-day cruise that had left from Fort Lauderdale earlier that morning. They would call when the cruise was over to determine if it was safe for them to return. Nelle had almost gone with them. The idea of getting out of the country for a while had seemed a very appealing idea to her.

Nelle had closed the door in her father’s face, after telling him exactly what she had told his secretary. She had agreed to donate a kidney and she had made an appointment with a surgeon at Vancouver General Hospital for Monday morning. The surgeon would explain exactly what would happen to her and how long the recovery was. Nelle had looked up some of the details on the internet and knew that she would be facing at least a week of recovery, assuming there were no complications.

Once she had all the facts she would have to sign the requisite forms before the surgery could be scheduled. Her surgeon had said that the earliest he could get her in would be Tuesday around mid-afternoon. Nelle had accepted that over the phone, but once she had hung up, she’d started to get nervous. Plagued with doubts and hounded by a multitude of ‘what-if’s’, she had thrown herself into her work to tune it all out.

After a full twenty-four hours cooped up inside her apartment, Nelle was starting to go a little stir-crazy. And, once again, she was tired of eating takeout for each meal. Grabbing her re-useable grocery bags, Nelle headed for Gastown. She had just passed by Chill Winston’s when Nelle heard someone calling her name. It was a woman and for a brief moment Nelle thought her father had ordered his secretary to start hounding her.

But the woman crossing the street toward her was someone she recognized. Adriana Sutton was dressed for more than just a quick and casual ‘chance’ meeting with Nelle. She looked as though she was on her way to a party. Her heels were four-inch spikes that crammed her toes into the ends. Her dress was skin tight and see-through in strategic spots. She wore no hose and a lot of makeup.

She looked like a high-priced whore. It was an uncharitable thought, but since she kept it to herself, Nelle didn’t think it was hurting anyone. She kept her annoyance in check as well. If she’d learned anything from watching television, it was that the more you reacted, the more a reporter went for blood.

“Hello, Nelle, how are you?”

Nelle didn’t think the woman actually cared how she was and ignored the question. “Was there something you wanted?”

Adriana pushed her chest out a little farther and cocked her hip. Nelle thought she was showing off her wares for whoever might be strolling by. Again, the uncharitable thought remained in her head, doing no harm, but making Nelle feel a little better. Nelle was dressed almost dowdily, by comparison. She wore ancient jeans with holes in the knees, a butter yellow t-shirt with a sweater-coat over top for warmth and a pair of slightly battered Prada boots.

Adriana thought Nelle made the casual clothes look chic and stylish, which rankled. There was something about the woman that made Adriana feel gauche. She had spotted her with Mack at Chill Winston and assumed they were on a date. Adriana had pulled up outside Mack’s place the other night, intending to talk herself into his bed this time. She had arrived in time to see him leave. She had tailed Mack’s car until he’d parked outside Nelle’s. He didn’t have his own key, but he had been buzzed in straight away. She had seethed with jealousy when it became apparent that he wasn’t there on an official call. She hadn’t waited around to see how late he would be.

And now the woman was acting as though Adriana was a parasite she couldn’t wait to be rid of. She had never quite gotten used to the way some people treated her, because of her profession. At the party for the Premiere that Klein had gotten her into, she had definitely sensed their disdain. They would change their tune once Klein divorced his wife and married her. They’d have to.

“I wanted to warn you,” Adriana finally answered Nelle. “Given the selections this copycat killer has already made, Mack and I believe he’s working his way down to you.”

Nelle was surprised that the woman would offer the warning. Perhaps she was biased where reporters were concerned, but it seemed to Nelle that if she were taken, it would be a better story for Adriana. “Yes, I’m aware of that.”

“I hope you’re taking extra precautions when you’re walking around like this,” Adriana said. “Mack thinks the killer could abduct his next victim at any time.”

The conversation was starting to make Nelle a little edgy. She couldn’t decide if the woman was purposely mentioning her talks with Mack to make Nelle jealous, or if Adriana was stalling her for some other reason. Nelle glanced around the street, but had no idea what the copycat killer looked like. She didn’t think he would have a reporter as an accomplice, but what did Nelle know about serial killers?

There were two men across the street, one was a giant of a man and both were staring straight at her. Or, more specifically, they were staring at the two of them. Nelle thought that perhaps the men were admiring all of Adriana’s assets. Before Nelle could point them out, Adriana started talking again.

“As you know, Mack and I have been working our way through the Surrey Slayer case quite thoroughly lately. He and I are combing through the details as best as we can, in the hopes that something from the old case will assist us in finding the new killer.”

Nelle nodded, for lack of anything better to do. Adriana talked like she was working alongside the police in this matter, which Nelle knew was not the case. The more Adriana mentioned Mack’s name, the more Nelle assumed Adriana was trying to aggravate her. It was such a petty thing to do, but Nelle thought that Adriana seemed that sort of woman. Anything was newsworthy, even if it was silly gossip.

“Mack is a very caring and sensitive man, but I’m sure you already know that. He is very good at his job and I know that between the two of us, we’ll find the killer.”

Nelle was now very confused. Adriana all but admitted that she knew about Nelle and Mack, yet she was trying to put Nelle at ease about the killer. Of course, Adriana hadn’t said anything about finding the killer in time. Maybe that was the point. Perhaps, if the killer managed to abduct Nelle, this conversation was meant to add another layer of terror to her ordeal. In addition to whatever the killer might do to her, there would be this niggling thought in the back of her mind that Mack hadn’t been quite good enough to save her.

The idea angered Nelle and she had to silently count to twenty before she felt she could make a comment that wasn’t laced in temper. As she opened her mouth to end the conversation, Nelle noticed that the two men from across the street were now waiting on traffic to let up so that they could cross. Ms. Sutton didn’t notice them and Nelle didn’t know what to say. It was broad daylight and people were milling about on the sidewalks, but that might not matter if these men meant them harm.

Nelle was about to offer a warning when the larger man’s coat blew open and she spotted the gun on his hip. They approached Ms. Sutton from behind, not announcing their presence until the last second.

“Ms. Sutton, my name is Constable Jan Betz and I’m with the VPD.” Betz showed her his badge and gestured to his partner’s as well. They were out of uniform. It was their day off and they’d decided that approaching Ms. Sutton in plain clothes would be more effective than if they’d walked up to her in their blues. Less warning meant she was less likely to run away again.

Adriana rolled her eyes at Nelle before giving the attractive Constable Betz her full attention. She recalled his interest in the Premiere’s party and that she hadn’t returned his calls yet. She assumed Betz had gotten a little impatient waiting for her to get around to him. “Yes, Constable, what can I do for you?”

“Ms. Sutton, you have the right to remain silent,” Betz continued to advise Adriana of her Miranda rights. When she laughed it off, his partner removed a pair of handcuffs from his belt and slipped them over her wrists before she was even aware of his intentions.

When she started to shriek, Betz reminded her that she had the right to remain silent, but she ignored him. Instead of simply stating that she’d like her lawyer present, Adriana yelled insults at both cops. She threatened them, stating that she had powerful friends who could strip them of their badges before their next dinner was served.

Nelle stood frozen to the spot. She had never seen anyone arrested before and thought the officers had handled the situation very professionally. Adriana, on the other hand, had turned into a raving shrew. Her skin-tight dress was in danger of tearing away like so much tissue, she was struggling against the restraints so violently.

“Our apologies for interrupting you, ma’am,” Betz said to Nelle.

“Nelle! Nelle, you have to do something!” Adriana yelled at her.

“What would you have me do?” Nelle asked.

“I don’t care what you do, just get them to take these cuffs off me! They can’t arrest me on some trumped up charges. It’s bullshit,” she spit the words at Betz.

“I don’t see how I could convince them to do that,” Nelle said. “I would suggest that you call your lawyer straight away and get him to settle this. It’s probably just a grave misunderstanding.” Nelle assumed the newspaper would have a team of lawyers on retainer waiting to assist any reporter who got arrested while trying to get a story.

Turning to Betz, she smiled and leaned a little closer so Adriana couldn’t hear her. “You interrupted a conversation I wasn’t a willing participant of, so don’t worry about it, Constable.”

Betz nodded and moved to take Ms. Sutton across the street to their car. He gripped her upper arm to assist her down the curb, catching her when she stumbled. He wasn’t surprised when she tossed out the words sexual harassment. He helped her into the back of their car, gently guiding her so she didn’t bang her head on the door frame. Slipping behind the wheel, Betz drove off, leaving Nelle standing on the sidewalk, alone.

Nelle continued toward Gastown, intent on getting her shopping done. She wondered if Adriana would try to push that sexual harassment charge she had made. If it came to that, Nelle would simply have to offer her own statement that Constable Betz had acted with the utmost propriety toward Ms. Sutton. It wouldn’t win her any favours with the reporter, but that wasn’t Nelle’s concern. She was still trying to determine what Adriana’s ulterior motive had been. Not for a minute did Nelle think Adriana was expressing genuine concern for her safety. Nelle would have to discuss it with Mack the next time she saw him. She hoped that he would come by later that night.

***

The night watchmen had come out of nowhere. Steven had been in the process of tucking Nikki’s plastic-wrapped body into the trunk of his rental car when he’d heard the footsteps off to his left. They had been moving away from the warehouse. Steven had rounded the corner and spotted the night watchman running away, his cell phone in his hand.

Sprinting after him, Steven had barely managed to catch up to him, the guy had such a large head start. Steven had crash tackled him to the ground and wasted little time snapping his neck. Whatever the man had seen could not be allowed to get out. His cell phone lay smashed on the ground beneath the body. Steven had no idea if the watchman had gotten a call out.

Steven patted him down, removing his wallet, his watch and his gold wedding band before hauling the body over to a dumpster and dropping it in. He took the items back to his car and dumped them into the trunk with Nikki’s body. He would have to dump them into a trash bin somewhere along the way to Nikki’s final resting place.

The adrenaline rush had been exciting, but now the rush was over and he felt his hands starting to shake a little. The doubts started to crash in. Had the watchman managed to call his boss, or worse, the police? Could the cops be heading for the warehouse even now? Had Steven managed to remove all of the evidence of Nikki’s time with him?

He was particular about following his teacher’s orders when it came to cleaning up the warehouse and disposing of the bodies. He understood exactly how much evidence the police could examine at a crime scene and where their abilities fell short. He had studied the science of forensics for years and knew of a few very simple tricks to contaminate evidence. Reminding himself of his incredible knowledge helped calm him. His hands stilled and his mind focused on the tasks ahead of him.

He probably should have taken the watchman’s body with him. He’d made a rash decision to leave it behind, buried in the bottom of a trash dumpster. He knew from his teacher’s surveillance that the dumpster’s were emptied daily, so the body would be taken from the scene long before anyone came looking for the man. Steven drove on in the comfort of knowing that his decision, though hasty, would not pose any problems for his continued success in his chosen field. Had he known what was coming, he probably would have chosen to lay low for a while, his teacher’s plan be damned.

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