Read SpareDick Online

Authors: Sarina Wilde

SpareDick (7 page)

He’d never seen her so close to hysterics. Jill had always
been the calm one—one of the things that made her such a wonderful asset in an
emergency room. Nothing fazed her. But this had. Kevin knew they wouldn’t get
anything accomplished right now. All he could do was make it worse and he
needed time to think. That was his nature.

He backed up, raising his hands. “I won’t give up on us,
Jill, but I will go. Maybe we could both use some time to think.”

She looked at him with such contempt he stopped, glancing
away while he swallowed past the tightness in his throat. He had loved her
since high school. She was the only woman he’d ever been with, the only woman
he’d ever
wanted
to be with. No matter how angry she was right now, he
couldn’t let it end. He wouldn’t let it end.

When he reached the kitchen, he realized she’d followed him.
After grabbing his car keys from the key holder next to the door, he faced her
again. “If you need me, you can reach me on my cell phone…or call the station.
Sarge will know…”

She crossed her arms across her chest. “Get out, Kevin.”

Then she left, fleeing upstairs and leaving him standing
there. Kevin stared at the empty doorway, blinking the moisture from his eyes.
It took almost no time to load the cases in the trunk. Once he’d backed out of
the garage, he made sure to shut the door. Then he drove. Dusk had fallen by
the time he parked outside Adam’s apartment building. He hadn’t known where
else to go and didn’t want to be by himself in a hotel room. He trudged along
the walk and rang the bell. Adam was shirtless, worn jeans hanging low on his
hips and bare feet poking out from beneath his pant legs.

“She kicked me out. Can—can I come in?”

Chapter Seven

 

He looked like hell. His eyes were red-rimmed. Adam didn’t
know if lack of sleep or tears was the cause, but he sure as hell wasn’t going
to ask. He stepped back, opening the door wider.

“Come in, dude. You need to carry anything?”

Kevin shook himself as if his mind weren’t quite focusing.
“Suitcases. In the trunk.”

More than one. Shit. Obviously Kevin’s talk with Jill hadn’t
gone at all well. The guy looked shattered. “Give me your keys and sit. I’ll
get them.”

Adam caught them in one hand, waiting until Kevin dropped
onto the couch. Instead of leaning back, he braced his elbows on his splayed
knees and hung his head, staring at the floor. Adam pressed his lips together,
turning away so he could get his partner’s luggage. This wasn’t the time to try
to get him to talk about it. He’d learned during the past month that Kevin
often clammed up about the stuff that truly got to him, just as he had their
first week together following a hit-and-run involving a kid.

He grabbed all three cases and the duffel in one trip then
slipped back out to grab Kevin’s cell phone and his weapon. After he returned
to the living room, Adam leaned against the closed door, staring at his
partner’s dejected pose and feeling an ache in his throat. Why hadn’t he kept
his fucking mouth shut? If he’d not said anything, Kevin and Jill would still
be together; everything would have gone on just as it had. The perfect
couple—and him on the outside looking in.

Instead he’d managed to fuck up their marriage and he could
be well on the way to screwing his career and his working relationship with the
best partner he’d ever had. Adam expelled a heavy breath, hooked his fingers in
his pockets and started across the room.

“I don’t know about you, Ramsey, but I could use a beer
right about now. You want one?”

The yes that floated to him was muffled and choked. Adam’s
glance snapped back over his shoulder and this time he rubbed his chest, trying
to get rid of the pain as he watched Kevin’s broad shoulders shaking. He wanted
to offer him some comfort, but how could he when he was the catalyst for
everything that had gone wrong?

He returned with beers in hand, setting one on the coffee
table in front of Kevin and flopping on the couch’s other end. He drank in
silence, hoping if he left it alone, Kevin might start talking. When he didn’t,
Adam drained his beer and set the empty bottle on the table with a snap.

“You might not be ready to hear this, but I have to say it,
Ramsey.” Adam waited until Kevin looked at him. His throat nearly closed, but
he forced himself to go on. “I’m so damn sorry. I should’ve kept my fucking
mouth shut.” He paused for a second, blinking. “You and Jill are…so right
together…and I just wanted to tell you.”

Kevin drained his beer, set it aside and stood. “I need
another one.” He disappeared into the kitchen, leaving Adam there, blinking in
confusion. He’d laid himself open at his partner’s feet and all Ramsey had to
say was
I need another one
? He rubbed the ache in his chest, closing his
eyes as he forced back the pain of knowing he’d caused Kevin and Jill’s rift
and had effectively had his attempt at an apology shoved back at him.

Kevin’s hand squeezed his shoulder. “Here, Adam. I brought
you one too.”

He met his partner’s electric blue gaze and shivered. There
were so many things he wanted to say, to try to explain. Kevin sat next to him
and took a long swallow before he sighed.

“It’s not your fault, Hell. I could have said no.” Kevin
took another swig from the bottle. “You know, she now thinks you and I have had
a thing going on the side.”

Adam’s heart skipped a beat. “What? Why?”

Kevin snorted. “Said she saw the ‘connection’ between us,
added that to your email coming in on our workout night and decided we must
have been having a torrid affair going on all along.”

“But…it’s not true.”

Kevin looked around the room. “Yeah. I know. You know. But I
think we both have to admit last night turned out to be way more than just good
fucking.” He shook his head. “I can’t think about this anymore tonight. It’s
driving me crazy. This…uh…thing with Jill might take a while to fix. I can get
a hotel.”

“No. I have room. There’s a second bedroom. It’s not much.”

“If it’s got a bed, I’m good.”

Adam showed him the room. Kevin glanced around and nodded.
They moved the cases in there. Adam found hangers so he could unpack and get
his clothing in the closet. In addition to everything else, Kevin still had to
have suits for work. Wrinkled wouldn’t cut it. Ramsey had always been a sharp
dresser.

When they finished getting everything squared away, Adam
leaned against the doorframe. “If you need to talk…” his voice trailed off as
Kevin speared him with a look that clearly said
don’t go there
. “Yeah.
Well, good night, dude.”

 

Kevin watched the door shut behind Adam then stood there
rooted to the spot. If he’d been a dog, he would have put his head back and
howled, but that wasn’t an option. He trudged into the bathroom off Adam’s
spare bedroom and laid out the items from his utility case. Jill had been very
thorough. She’d even packed his toothbrush. As he stared, it began to shake. No,
that wasn’t right. His
hand
shook. And then he did bend over at the
waist, pain slicing through him and tears running down his face. He wanted it
to be silent, but it wasn’t. He sucked in air, his breath hitching noisily.

Was he so weak? Kevin stared at his reflection, his eyes
appearing an even brighter blue in his bloodshot gaze. No. His tears weren’t
because he had given up or because he would even consider what he and Jill had
was over. No. He cried because he had caused so much pain to Jill…and Adam.

He would get her back and somehow, he would find a way to
hold on to his friendship and his working relationship with Hell. Right now, in
the wake of the day’s events, how he would accomplish those two things seemed
incomprehensible.

* * * * *

Kevin and Adam had just arrived the following morning when
their sergeant stopped by. “Confirmation came in on our Jane Doe. It is Heather
Stevens. I’ll need you guys to handle the death notification to the family.
Meth overdose is the official cause.”

Kevin closed his eyes for an instant. As if things weren’t
fucked-up enough already. This was one job aspect he hated. “She’s been missing
for ten years and we’re supposed to tell her family she died of a goddamn
overdose? There’s got to be more to it.”

The sergeant’s smile was grim. “Oh, I think there is. The
lab also found traces of tranquilizers. I don’t think her addiction was
voluntary. So, gentlemen, I think you’re now dealing with a homicide
investigation linked to a more recent missing person case.”

“More than two cases, Sarge,” Adam said. “I found a case
going back even further. Missing person, same age as Heather and Addy at the
time of her disappearance. Same high school.”

“What happened to her?”

“Hikers found the body off a trail at Umstead. The case went
cold shortly after.”

The sergeant tapped his knuckles on Kevin’s desk. “You guys
take care of notifying the Stevens family. Then I want to know what your
strategy is for working these cases. Think about whether you need additional
manpower.”

Adam’s chair scraped back. “Let’s get this over with. I’ll
talk. You observe. If we can get them to give us any high school yearbooks,
anything to link her with a particular faculty member…”

“I think that’s our best line,” Kevin agreed. “Everything
we’ve read and seen so far indicates these girls left of their own free will.
With no obvious struggle, they had to have come across someone they trusted.”

They headed to the garage. Adam snagged Kevin’s coat sleeve.
“You okay, Kevin?”

“Yeah. I’m not giving up, Hell, but I am going to give her
some breathing room.”

At Adam’s nod, the two men belted themselves in their sedan
and headed over to the home of Heather Stevens’ parents. The modest, one-story
brick ranch was the same home they’d occupied at the time Heather had disappeared
ten years ago. Such stability could be helpful, particularly if they had kept
the girl’s room intact.

Kevin clenched his teeth. Many people were unwilling to
relinquish hope a missing loved one would one day return. Now they would be
delivering the news to destroy their hope, but if they could somehow get the
point across, tactfully, that they believed Heather’s disappearance was linked
to Addy’s, there might still be a chance Addy could be saved.

“If these cases are linked,” Adam said as they parked in front,
“it appears our abductor is replacing one abductee with another. The date of
Heather’s disappearance was one week prior to the Umstead body being found. And
Addy’s one week prior to the discovery of Heather’s body.”

Kevin grimaced. “Holy hell. That is so freaking creepy.
Let’s just do it. I hate this shit.”

Two cars were still parked in the drive, a good sign they
would find the Stevens at home. Kevin checked to make sure his badge was
visible while Hell knocked on the door. As they stood waiting, he saw a curtain
twitch then heard the rattle of a lock being turned.

“Good morning, ma’am,” Adam greeted her. “I’m Detective Adam
Heller and this is my partner, Detective Kevin Ramsey. Is your husband at
home?”

“Yes. Is…is this about Heather?”

Kevin hated the hope in the woman’s face. As she finished
speaking, a lean, gray-haired man joined her.

“May we come inside for a few minutes?” Adam inquired.

Mrs. Stevens backed up and her husband opened the door wider
for them to enter.

“Come in the living room,” she said, her voice shaky. “May I
get you some coffee or tea?”

“No, ma’am,” Kevin said. “Thank you though.”

Mr. Stevens waved them to a seat. Unlike his wife, his dark
eyes were flat with an awareness of what was coming. He sat next to his wife
and took her hand in his.
He knows.

“Does this have anything to do with the body that was found
yesterday?”

“Yes sir,” Adam confirmed. “The medical examiner compared
the descriptions we had, but also used dental records and the DNA samples you
provided. We got the confirmation this morning. It was Heather.”

Mrs. Stevens turned her face into her husband’s shoulder,
but his only reaction was a paling of his face and a tightening of his grip on
his wife’s hand.

“If you have any questions, we’re here to help answer them.”

“How did she die?”

Adam took a deep breath. “The official cause of death is an
overdose of methamphetamine.”

Over their shoulders, Kevin spied a bookshelf containing
several pictures of their daughter, including one showing her in her
cheerleading outfit. He turned his attention back to Adam and Heather’s
parents.

“You think there’s more to it though. I hear it in your
voice.” Stevens sighed, glancing over his shoulder at the pictures. “There must
be more to it. I know things can happen in ten years, but Heather was a good
girl, a good student and because of my background—she was violently opposed to
drugs and alcohol.”

“Your background, sir?” Kevin prompted.

“I’m a recovered alcoholic. Heather and my wife had to live
through that. Our daughter was very opposed to alcohol and drug use. I suppose
we have always held out hope she might one day return—alive—but we also knew
this day might arrive. So tell us why you believe she was more than another
strung-out addict who accidentally killed herself.”

“In addition to the meth, there were traces of tranquilizers
in her blood. Her case also has remarkable similarities to another one. Are you
familiar with Adelaide Brown?”

“The teenager who ran away?”

“We don’t believe she ran away. We believe the cases may be
connected.” Adam paused. “We also believe there might be a third case, one
going even five years further back than your daughter’s.”

Mrs. Stevens faced them. “What makes you believe missing
girls spread out over a fifteen-year period might be linked?”

Kevin cleared his throat. “They were all seniors, all fit
the same basic description…and they all attended your daughter’s high school.”

“I know it’s been a long time,” Adam murmured, “but if you
have any pictures or annuals of Heather’s, they might help. Besides cheerleading,
was she involved with anything else at school?”

“The yearbook,” Stevens said. “She was a photographer.”

“Her things are still in her room. In fact I was in there
cleaning last week and came across some old film canisters.”

Heather’s parents led the way along a short hallway to a
room at the end. When Kevin stepped through the doorway, he stepped back in
time. After all, there wasn’t much age difference between Heather and Jill. His
eyes widened. There was even a Justin Timberlake poster while he was with ‘N
Sync. Just like the teenage Jill. A chill went through him, the tie to his wife
suddenly making Heather Stevens’ death a lot more personal.

“Ramsey? You have a bag you can put these film canisters
in?” Kevin checked back in, meeting his partner’s curious stare, a look that
silently asked him if he was okay. “The Stevens are allowing us to develop the
rolls and see if there’s anything helpful.”

Kevin reached into his coat pocket, bringing out a sealable
plastic bag. “Here.”

He held it open while Adam dumped in three black plastic
canisters.

“The police had already developed the film inside the
camera,” her father said now. “These somehow got overlooked.” He glanced around
the room and Kevin realized it had been some time, at least for him, since he’d
been inside there. The older man’s Adam’s apple bobbed. “It was a confusing
time.”

Mrs. Stevens handed Adam a couple yearbooks. “These are her
annuals from her sophomore and junior years if you’d like to look through
them.”

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