Authors: Teri Riggs
It had taken a full year to prove she had the ability and mettle to work alongside the boys in blue. At first, acting in the usual XX-chromosome-supremacy mode, the guys at Metro had insisted on seeing how well Kennedy could handle herself. Always feeling the need to be the best, Kennedy went along with their games, passing test after test with flying colors. Now, there wasn’t a cop in the department who didn’t trust her to cover his back. Her cop instincts were good and they knew it.
She felt lucky that Wilder James had taken her under his wing when she’d started out. He was one of the best cops on the force and he was always teaching Kennedy to be even better. At thirty-one, she was on her way to becoming one of the department’s best Homicide detectives, and Wilder’d helped to put her there.
Kennedy’s cell phone shrilled, jerking her out of her thoughts. Picking up the phone, she flipped it open. “O’Brien.”
“Hey, Kenny, wake up.”
Wilder didn’t need to identify himself. His unique voice, while soft, always sounded like he had a mouth full of gravel with a dash of Bronx added to the mix.
“I was just thinking about you, Wilder.”
“I’m sure I’m the object of many women’s fantasies.”
She let out an exaggerated laugh. “You’re delusional, partner.”
“Not the first time I’ve been told that.” He continued, “Time to shake a leg, Kenny. We might have a break in our dead hooker case. I’ll swing by and pick you up in seven and a half minutes.”
“How about I pick you up?” “No way.”
Kennedy started to object, but the firmness in his voice told her it’d be a waste of time. She was right.
“We’re not driving that heap of yours until you get the air conditioner fixed. I don’t want to die of heat stroke. I’m too damned close to retirement. Be out front waiting. It’s time to rock and roll.”
The phone clicked off. “How in the name of sweet Jesus is he always able to do that? Seven and a half minutes? How can he be so exact?”
Kennedy hustled to her room, pulled off her tee shirt, and put on clean clothes. After threading her back holster and double magazine carrier to her belt, she harnessed her Sig Saur and added two mags. She secured her ankle holster and her Smith and Wesson .38.
Kennedy kept her clothes simple and easy to put on. Jeans and tee shirts with a lightweight jacket over them were her usual wardrobe choices. The jacket not only gave her a look of professionalism, it kept her holster and gun under wraps. She clipped her badge to the left side of her belt, above her hip.
Giving her hair a quick finger comb, she stepped out into the blazing sun.
a little past one o’clock, the afternoon mail was delivered to Las Vegas television station LVTVS. In it, was an envelope addressed to Ed Hershey. The envelope’s contents were causing quite a commotion in the news room.
Ed buzzed his boss’s phone. “Frankie, get down here.
You absolutely will not believe what I just got in the mail. You’re going to shit bricks. Enough to build a new house.”
“Quit mumbling. What’s that you said about a new house?” “Never mind. Just get here, quick.”
“Dammit, Hersh. Is your timing always this bad? I’ve got... umm... I’ve got company here. I’m rather involved at the moment.”
Right. Ed could just picture what the boss was involved in. Frank’s involvements usually included nearly naked women with big breasts. He could see it now. Frank would be busy discussing a promotion for her, a little something on the side for himself. The fact he could grant any promotions to his little involvements was pretty damn interesting considering the fact that most of the women Frank dallied with didn’t even work in his department. Hell, if it was the blonde, she hadn’t even made it out of the mailroom yet.
Ed blew out a breath of frustration. “Frankie, forget the sexual-harassment-waiting-to-happen blonde. You can play later.”
“How in the hell do you know what I’m doing?”
Score one for Ed. “Christ, Frank, the whole newsroom knows what you’re doing. Your reputation is world famous. Come on, this is important.”
“Well for your sake, kiddo, it better be. I’ll be right there.” Ed heard a female whine in the background a second before the phone clicked off.
When Frank arrived at Ed’s desk, a crowd surrounded it. “Out of the way people,” he griped. “The sooner I get this over with, the sooner I can get back to more important matters.”
He shoved his way through. “Dammit to hell, move. Now!”
When Ed saw Frank, he knew he had one of his best ‘cat that swallowed the bird’ smirks on his face. For an instant, he thought Frank might try knocking that smirk right off his face.
“Well, Ed, what’s so God Almighty important that I needed to rush right down here? I was... I was rather busy.”
Then Frank noticed the envelope and picture lying on his desk. “What the hell is that?”
“This, Mighty-Boss-Man, is our new lead-in for tonight’s evening broadcast.” Ed allowed himself a dramatic pause before continuing.
“This is a picture from the man who killed the prostitute last night.” Ed pointed to the photo lying on his desk. “You know, the hooker whose murder was listed in Metro’s news release this morning. The murder you’re not interested in. And guess what?”
Another dramatic pause.
“The killer sent it to Yours Truly. How’s that for a top story? The man who sent this to me is one twisted piece of licorice.”
Frank’s eyes darted back and forth from the desk top to Ed’s face. “God Almighty! Just like the last time a killer made contact with you. The Hadley Cox case, wasn’t it?”
“Well, you sure as hell got my attention now.”
Frank pointed to the photo. “What’s that written across the front?” Ed picked it up and waved it in Frank’s face.
“Come on, kiddo,” Frank whispered. “I don’t have all day. Especially when I’ve got a stacked little blonde waiting patiently for me up in my office. Promotion negotiations are going well!”
Frank reached for the picture, but Ed grabbed his hand. “Oh no you don’t! We shouldn’t add any more fingerprints. It’s bad enough mine are all over it. The police are going to need to see this.”
Frank withdrew his hand. “Sure, I knew that. I w
as just going to... ah, I was
just... well, I was just seeing how close I could get
without touching it.” His arm
waved in the air, too close to Ed’s face. “Never min
d that, what’s the damn letter
Ed thought for a moment about waving his arm back in Frank’s face but decided to pass. “There is no letter. It’s only a photograph of a dead woman and it has the word
written at the top. It’s the murdered hooker. Her Jane Doe photo came across my desk about an hour ago.”
Frank pulled a pair of thick, black-rimmed reading glasses from his shirt pocket and slid them on, and then bent over to get a good look at the photo. Ed, satisfied he’d gotten the right response from the horny old bastard, grinned when Frank stepped back and stumbled into a chair.
“Holy shit, Hersh! That woman is dead! Do you think it’s for real? Could it be someone screwing around with you? I’m sure plenty of people remember the Cox case. You were up to your eyeballs in it. Have you called Metro?”
“Just about to.” Ed punched speaker on his phone and dialed the Vegas PD. “Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, how may I direct your call?” “Give me Sheriff Taylor.”
“May I ask who’s calling, please?”
“Ed Hershey from LVTVS news.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Hershey, all press releases go through our public
spokesperson. I’d be happy to take your name and number and have him return
“No thanks, I prefer to speak directly to Sheriff Taylor. I have information about a murder. I just received a communication from the man who killed the hooker on Washington Street last night.”
The operator hesitated for a millisecond. “One moment sir, while I get Sheriff Taylor for you.”
WILDER’S CROWN VICTORIA PULLED UP TO THE CURB BEFORE KENNEDY’D MADE IT DOWN THE STEPS
. Jumping into the air-conditioned climate of Wilder’s car, she checked her watch.
She couldn’t control the skeptical look that crossed her face as she turned to her partner with a snort. “Seven and a half minutes! How in the hell do you do it? You drive me fucking nuts!”
“How do I do what, Kenny?”
Tapping on her watch, Kennedy sneered at him. “Don’t you play Mr. Innocent with me! You know what I’m talking about. How can you know exactly how long it will take you to get somewhere? You get it down to the second. There’s no way you can predict what the traffic will be or how the stop lights will play out. Are you some type of psychic?”
“It’s a gift.” He winked at her. “Eat your heart out.”
“Yeah right, Mr. Gifted. You probably check out the traffic cams before leaving your house.” She snapped on her seat belt as Wilder started to pull into the traffic.
A minivan cut him off before he’d completely pulled the Crown Vic away from the curb. Wilder hit his horn. “Fuck. Watch it, lady! I’m on official business here.”
Kennedy was taken by surprise. Wilder never suffered from road rage. That was Kennedy’s gig.
“What’s got your knickers in a twist?” She reached for the spot on her neck where the seatbelt had tightened as Wilder slammed on his brakes. “Why are we in such a hurry to get there? Hell, I don’t even know where there is. Care to share?”
“I’d be glad to fill you in if you could just shut that sweet little flap of yours long enough for me to speak.”
Kennedy leaned forward in her seat. “You’re cranky today.”
“If I’m sounding a bit testy today, it’s because I hate dealing with the media in any way, shape or form.”
“I take it we’re about to deal with some member of the media.” She watched Wilder’s fingers tap on the steering wheel.
“You got it. We’re heading over to the LVTVS studios.” “And that would be because...?”
“Because Lieutenant Hazelwood just got a call from Sheriff Taylor. Apparently one of the news anchors at LVTVS was contacted earlier by the prostitute’s killer. The anchor and his news director double-teamed Sheriff Taylor, wanting authentication of photo, letter, or whatever the hell it was the killer sent. It wasn’t real clear what they received. You and I are going to have a little chat with the employees of LVTVS. Then, we’re going to pick the letter—or photo—up and take it to the lab to see what they can get from it.”
“The killer sent LVTVS some info connected to our murder?” She drew her brows together and looked at her partner.
Wilder nodded. “Sound familiar to you, Kenny?”
“Yeah, I’d say there’s a little déjà vu going on here.”
“That’s right. Déjà vu. This same scenario has happened before.”
Kennedy’s head butted against the passenger seat’s head
“What are they over there? Murder magnets?”
“Who the hell knows why the criminal element loves the news people so much? All I know is they have a lot of common interests. Like being slime balls, conscience-lacking morons, shit disturbers, dick-heads, fuckin’ ass holes who would sell their first born child for a story, and any other number of vile characteristics you can come up with. And that’s just my short list.”
“Gee, Wilder, you don’t think too highly of our city’s news people do you?” Kennedy struggled not to laugh at her partner’s red face.
It was a well known fact that news people and officers of the law are not the best of friends. Never have been, never will be. Detective Wilder James especially hated the media. Back in the late 1970’s he’d survived a media feeding frenzy when he was shot and his partner—Patrick O’Brien, Kennedy’s father—was killed in the line of duty during a botched bank robbery they’d interrupted.
“All news people are scum. I’ve never met one I could stand to be in the same room with for more than five minutes. You were too young to remember how they went after my reputation, and your father’s, after he was killed. Paddy wasn’t even alive to defend himself when they went for our jugulars. I took care of it, though. They messed with the wrong man when they decided to try and trash Paddy and me.”
“You’re wrong, Wilder. I remember how it was. Momma cried nonstop and locked herself in her bedroom for hours on end, curled up with one of Da’s sweaters wrapped around her.” Kennedy’s voice softened. “She just slipped into her own little world, and no one was allowed in.”
“Sorry. I shouldn’t bring that old crap up.”
“It’s okay. It all happened a long time ago. I’m fine.”
“That’s right, Kenny, you’re fine now.”
“I remember IA hanging around, asking all their stupid questions. You and Grandpa got into shouting matches with them all the time. If I walked into the room when you guys were arguing, everyone would hush and look at me funny. I felt like I did something wrong.”