Read Kill You Twice Online

Authors: Chelsea Cain

Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General

Kill You Twice (13 page)

BOOK: Kill You Twice
3.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

He waited for her to say something, to taunt him.

But she stayed silent, staring up at him as he held her.

Archie released his grip. “Get some rest,” he said. His voice was hoarse. “I hear your new doctor is a son of a bitch.”

CHAPTER

25

S
usan had printed
out all the PDFs and sat surrounded by them in the living room. When she’d first spread them
out, the fan had blown the pages into the kitchen, so now she had weighed each page down with an ad hoc paperweight: a coffee cup, an incense tray, a small statue of Shiva, her salad bowl from
dinner, her ice-cream bowl from dessert, the half a bag of Pirate’s Booty she’d gotten out for an after-dessert snack. The pages were on the wire-spool coffee table, the floor, even
the sofa. The corners fluttered each time the fan oscillated past.

Bliss had taken a copy of
Mother Jones
to bed hours ago.

But Susan was riveted. Each PDF was a newspaper story about a different murder. All unsolved. The victims described in the articles had all been tortured to death. And they were all children.
The murders all took place over a six-year period. They all took place in different states.

She had read and reread the articles, and could find no obvious connections between them beyond the torture. So she studied them again, and this time tried to think like Archie. It was only once
she had absorbed the articles enough times, and was able to get past the tragedy and shock, that she began to see other similarities. The children had all disappeared and then been found dead
within twenty-four hours. None had been sexually assaulted. Each had been alone when he or she was grabbed—in a bedroom, walking outside, at a park—but always alone, no witnesses.

There was no one named Ryan Motley in any of the stories. She researched each murder online, reading dozens of additional articles. She Googled Ryan Motley’s name in tandem with every name
and place that came up in connection to each investigation. Nothing. The cases were all cold. Memorial trees had been planted at elementary schools. Honorary diplomas had been presented to parents.
No one was maintaining the remembrance Web sites anymore.

Gretchen had given the flash drive to Archie and he had stuck it in a drawer full of Wite-Out. He had his reasons. He must have seen something in the PDFs that convinced him that
Gretchen’s information wasn’t worth following up on. Susan hadn’t been able to turn up a single mention of Ryan Motley, and she was a far superior Googler than Archie. Plus Archie
had access to police files on all these cases, all sorts of information that wasn’t in the news stories. What had he said? Ryan Motley was a figment of Gretchen’s imagination.

So what had Gretchen wanted Susan to see?
Find the flash drive
, she had said again and again.

If Gretchen had wanted to use Susan to get to Archie, she could have done it without the big confessional. She didn’t need to mention James Beaton or Ryan Motley. But she had.

Susan turned to her laptop on the floor. With the keywords
James Beaton
and
St. Helens, Oregon
, she had turned up a few old newspaper stories from the
St. Helens Chronicle
on her way back from Salem. Reading them on her iPhone screen in her car going seventy miles an hour up I-5 was less than ideal. Now she opened the articles on her fourteen-inch screen. The
Chronicle
had not been online eighteen years ago, but the St. Helens Historical Society had since scanned pages of old editions of the paper and put it all on the Internet.

She grabbed a handful of Pirate’s Booty and stuffed it in her mouth.

Local resident James Beaton, husband of Dinah “Dusty” Beaton, and father of two, had been reported missing a day previously. Anyone with information was asked to call the St. Helens
Police Department. He was last seen in a late-model black Oldsmobile. His church was planning a vigil, blah, blah. There was a small black-and-white photograph next to the copy of a beefy-faced man
in a necktie. He looked like he was in his mid-fifties. The tie had odd markings on it, and Susan zoomed in and out on the screen several times before she found a view that allowed her to make out
the pattern.

Susan laughed, and almost choked on Pirate’s Booty.

The tie was covered with pictures of small dogs.

If she ever vanished, she hoped they’d run a picture of her in more serious clothes.

She made a copy of the article and saved it, and then she Googled the Hamlet Inn Motel in St. Helens. The Web site was only one page, with a telephone number to call for reservations. The
photographs on the site showed a highway-side two-story motel whose best feature appeared to be its large parking lot.

Susan copied down the address for later.

The mysterious Ryan Motley aside, she still had a newspaper story to write, and a little local color wouldn’t hurt.

CHAPTER

26

T
he fifth floor
of Archie’s building was much like the sixth, except for the hallway, which had been painted,
inexplicably, plum. The paint had a glossy sheen that reflected the overhead fluorescent lights so that the entire hallway seemed to flicker from three sides.

Archie knocked on his neighbor’s apartment door.

When Rachel opened it, he held up the plastic sandwich bag he’d found taped to his door when he got home.

“Spark plugs?” he said.

She smiled. “Now you have some,” she said. “In case I need to borrow one.”

He put the bag in his pocket and tapped it with his finger. “I’ll keep them somewhere safe,” he said, “until you need one.”

She leaned against the doorjamb. It was after eleven. Too late for a social call. She didn’t seem to mind.

“Do you want a glass of water?” she asked.

“I have water upstairs,” he said.

“I just got a new Brita filter,” she said.

Archie scratched the back of his neck. “Okay.”

She opened the door and he followed her inside. She was wearing pale pink satin pajama shorts and a white tank top. No bra. Her apartment was the same layout as his, but her exposed brick wall
was painted white. Her furniture all matched, like it had been purchased all at once. The sofa was butter-colored leather. The coffee table was black lacquer and glass. The two club chairs matched
the sofa with a small glass end table in between that matched the coffee table. A spherical light fixture the size of a classroom globe hung over the living room. Here and there, she’d
incorporated Asian touches. Framed scrolls of calligraphy, embroidered silk paints. She had a Korean wedding chest against one wall, and a six-foot print of a Chinese robe hanging on the brick wall
just inside the door. Red lacquer stools lined her kitchen bar. Floor lamps, with red rice paper shades, gave everything in the room a rich crimson glow.

When Archie was in grad school, he’d had a couch from Goodwill and a bookcase built out of cinder blocks.

Rachel was at the sink on the other side of the kitchen bar.

“Have a seat,” she said. He heard ice clinking against glass.

Her purse was on the floor next to one of the leather club chairs. He went to the chair and sat down. He could see her, on the other side of the bar, putting together something on a plate.

He gently lowered his hand into her purse and felt for her wallet.

When he had it, he leaned over the arm of the chair, snapped it open, and examined her driver’s license. Her name was listed as Rachel Walker. The picture matched. It was a California
license. Archie pulled it out of its plastic pouch and tilted it to see if the hologram was real.

If it was a fake, it was a good one.

He heard what sounded like a lacquer tray sliding off a granite counter and he slid the ID back in her wallet and dropped the wallet in her open bag.

She set the tray down on the glass table between the club chairs and took the other seat. The satin shorts sat low on her hips, and he could see the band of skin around her middle that her shirt
didn’t quite cover. There was a white satin robe on the back of her chair. She didn’t put it on.

“Asian studies?” Archie said.

Rachel tucked her legs up under her on the chair. “Excuse me?”

“Your area of study,” Archie said.

“Nope,” she said. “But good guess.”

“Dance?”

She tilted her head.

“You walk with your toes turned out, like someone who’s taken a lot of ballet,” Archie said.

“Wrong again,” she said.

Archie leaned forward and picked up a glass of water and drained half the glass. She had put crackers out, and some cheese.

Who moved in at four in the morning?

He set the glass down and wiped his mouth. “You should be more careful,” he said. “Inviting strange men into your apartment at night.”

Rachel crossed her arms, her gaze appraising him. Her breasts shifted under the ribbed fabric of her shirt as she moved. “Is that what you are,” she said, “a strange
man?” Her hair was loose and tousled, like she’d been asleep when he’d knocked, but then why all the mood lighting?

“I’m not afraid of you,” she added with a sly smile. “You’re a cop.”

“That doesn’t mean I’m not dangerous,” Archie said.

She blinked at him. Her legs and arms looked dark and smooth in the red glow of the lamps.

His skin itched.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“You just saw my name,” she said. “It’s on my driver’s license.”

She had seen him. Archie shifted in the chair, rattled. She had caught him going through her things. That wasn’t what bothered him. What bothered him was that she should have been angrier.
“It could be fake,” Archie said.

“Why would I have fake ID, Archie?”

“You move in during the middle of the night. In the apartment directly below mine. You appear to be living above the means of an average grad student. You look . . .” He struggled
for the words. “Like someone I know. The tattoo.” It sounded ludicrous as he said it out loud, paranoid. “We keep bumping into each other.”

“We live in the same building,” she said.

She confused him. The way she looked at him. The way she moved. He picked up the glass of water again, drained the last of it, and set it down. Maybe he was used to Gretchen, maybe he looked for
games where there weren’t any.

“I just want to be neighborly,” she said.

He laughed and shook his head.

“Do you want another glass of water?” she asked.

He wanted something stronger.

“I’m flirting with you, Archie,” she said. “This,” she said, waving a hand in front of herself, “is flirting. There is no conspiracy. I looked you up. I
understand that you’ve been through some things. But you are searching for dark motives where there are none. Is my being interested in you so unlikely a scenario?”

“Yes,” Archie said.

“What do you want me to do?” she asked with a smile. “Produce references?”

“I need to look through your things,” Archie said.

Rachel cocked her head. “You don’t date much, do you?”

Archie rephrased it. “I’m going to look through your things,” he said.

She was very still. He fully expected her to throw him out of her apartment. She had every right to. He half hoped that she would. It was the reasonable thing to do. But she didn’t.

“Put everything back where you find it,” she said.

“Do you have any whiskey?” Archie asked.

She unfolded her legs and slid over the arm of her chair. “I do.”

As she walked into the kitchen, Archie got up and went into her bedroom.

The bed was made. He went over to her dresser and pulled open each drawer. Everything was neatly folded. He opened her closet. Several dresses hung on hangers. Shoes were lined up on the closet
floor.

There was no detritus. No crumpled receipts on the dresser top. No loose change. The three fashion magazines on the bedside table were all current issues.

It was photo-ready.

He looked in the closet again.

Four dresses, a few blouses, a single skirt.

“Where are the rest of your clothes?” he called.

“They’re being shipped,” she called back. “Why? Do you need to borrow something?”

He went into her bathroom. The towels were all the same color yellow as the couch. He opened the medicine cabinet. No prescriptions. Nothing with her name on it. Just cosmetics and beauty
products. A toothbrush sat in a cup on the edge of the sink.

Rachel appeared in the bathroom doorway and handed him a glass of whiskey. No ice, no soda, just like he liked it.

“Find anything?” she asked.

Archie rolled a sip of the whiskey around his mouth. It tasted better than what he was used to.

She waited for him to say something.

“Where are your textbooks?” he asked.

She sighed. “Seriously?”

“You said you were a student,” Archie said. “Where are your textbooks?”

“You know, I could call the cops,” she said. “Tell them a strange man was in my bathroom.”

He moved past her, out of the bathroom, and scanned her bedroom for the books. Nothing. He walked into the living room and didn’t see them there, either.

“Hey,” she said from behind him. “Sherlock.”

He turned around. She tilted her head toward a book bag by the front door.

He walked over to the bag and opened it. Inside were history texts, anthologies, books of theory.

He paged through one. Then another.

“I hear you up at night, you know,” she said from behind him. “I hear you walking around. I hear you talking to somebody on the phone.”

Archie put the books down and stood up and turned toward her. “I can check to see if you’re really a student,” he said.

“I
am
a student.”

“Students take notes,” Archie said. “They highlight.”

She stepped toward him. “Classes start next week,” she said.

It was plausible, all of it. Every explanation. He imagined what his shrink would have to say about all this, what Henry would think. He was behaving like a deranged lunatic.

So why wasn’t she scared?

She should be scared.

Any rational person would have insisted he leave long ago.

BOOK: Kill You Twice
3.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Promise Box by Tricia Goyer
Blood Brothers: A Short Story Exclusive by James Rollins, Rebecca Cantrell
Heart Troubles by Birmingham, Stephen;
Someday: 3 (Sunrise) by Kingsbury, Karen
Witch Cradle by Kathleen Hills
The Brothers Crunk by Pauley III, William