Authors: Desiree Holt
Tags: #Cat Shifters/ Contemporary/ Crime and Mystery
She caught his head between her palms. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be fine. You just take care of yourself and catch this lunatic.”
“Believe me.” He gave her a brief kiss, taking an extra moment to run his tongue over the softness of her lips. “No one wants to catch him more than I do.” Listen…” He tucked his shirt in his pants and picked up his holster and gun. “Maybe you should go right home from work today. I’m not sure I like you coming to the bar until we catch this guy.”
“Seth.” She smiled at him. “He never attacks until after the bar closes and if I stay until closing then I’m with you. I’m not going to miss spending time with you.”
He sat down on the edge of the bed and pulled her into his arms. “When this is over, I’m going to tell you exactly how much you mean to me. And then we’re going to do something about it.”
She tilted her head back. “We are? Don’t I get a vote?”
He held her gaze with his. “I didn’t think there was a question about that. Am I wrong?”
She laughed softly. “No. Not at all. And life’s too short for me to play coy.”
“Good. That’s good.” He pushed himself off the bed. “And if I don’t leave now I’ll be right back in that bed with you.” He reached for his blazer and shoved his arms in the sleeves. “I’ll talk to you later.”
“I just wondered. Wouldn’t these women have noticed if he was trailing them home? Maybe driven to a safe place instead? I know I’d be very aware if there was a car behind me on these residential streets, especially after the first two or three killings.”
“We’ve thought of that. Especially when he gets out and approaches them. He has to be someone they know. Someone they’ve hooked up with at The Litter Box.”
“And someone who still appears safe to them after all that’s happened,” she added.
“That’s something else we’ll be working on.” He gave her a last quick kiss. “Gotta go. Call you later.”
Kendall grabbed her robe from the chair where she’d tossed it and followed him to the door, locking it and the deadbolt as soon as he left.
* * * *
“We’ve got to approach this from a different angle,” Seth told his partner, Cord Chandler.
“Like what?” Cord still looked a little green around the edges. He’d arrived on the scene while the kill was still fresh.
“Kendall pointed out that women are usually aware if someone’s following them in a residential area, especially late at night. Also,” he continued, “he has to get out of his own car to approach them before they get in the house. No one’s going to open their door after two in the morning.”
Cord nodded. “So it’s someone they know. Someone from The Litter Box.”
“That’s what she thinks. Someone who can still present himself as friendly and safe even after all the killings.”
“Jesus, Seth.” Cord ran his fingers through his already rumpled hair. “That means taking names and running checks on every male who’s been there more than twice.”
“I’ll get my brother to help me. He can pull names from credit card receipts to begin with, and I can run them through the system. Also check to see how often they show up.”
“And hope they don’t pay cash,” Cord pointed out in a sour voice.
“And thanks for your optimism,” Seth groaned. “Well, let’s finish up here, see what the uniforms got from questioning the neighbours—if anything—and head out. I’ll give Max a call.”
Cord made a face. “He’ll be real excited about that. He’s probably been asleep a whole hour.”
“That’s okay. He wants to catch this guy as much as we do.”
* * * *
The killer had parked one block over and crept through the high hedges in a yard to hide behind two thick oak trees and watch the proceedings. He’d been startled when his police scanner had alerted him that the body had been found already, but it gave him an opportunity he usually didn’t have—to observe the scene in progress. Normally he was at work by the time that happened, so tonight was a real treat for him.
It amused him to see the cops scurrying around like busy ants, not knowing exactly who or what they were looking for. He’d swallowed a laugh when one of the two uniforms first on the scene—young, from what the killer could judge in the light from the porch—had hung his head over the railing and puked his guts out.
He wasn’t sure what he got the most pleasure from—the rape, the killing afterwards or watching all the activity. Or maybe it was watching the friendly look on their faces turn in an instant to one of fear. Oh, yes. That definitely got him hot. He reached down and stroked his erection through the fabric of his pants as he relived that moment.
He’d discovered the blood lust at sixteen, when an encounter with a female panther had maddened him. That first time, he’d been so overcome with rage at her attempt to push him away that the rape and killing had occurred almost without any thought on his part. Afterwards, staring at the remains, he’d felt a satisfaction that exceeded anything he received from normal sexual activity. The killing had been the icing on the cake.
The pack alpha had assisted in hushing the whole thing up and the killer was sure a large amount of money had been handed over to the teenager’s family. He’d had to listen to a lecture from the alpha as well as his father, and received punishment for what he’d done, which made him even angrier. That would have been that if he’d been able to control himself, but after the second killing he’d been ostracised from the pack. Tossed out like some piece of garbage. It pleased him greatly to know that he could continue his streak at will and neither the pack nor humans were able to stop him.
As the first edges of dawn crept up in the sky, the killer made his way back to his car and drove off, satisfied with his night’s work.
* * * *
Max refilled his mug and Seth’s from the pot he’d put on when he’d met his brother at the bar. Seth raised his slightly in a gesture of thanks and took a swallow of the hot, rich brew. He’d need all the caffeine he could get to last through the day and into the evening. Sleep was a distant reward with all that he had to do.
“Why don’t you take a nap in my office later?” Max suggested, as if he’d read his brother’s mind. He pointed to the big couch. “That may not be as comfortable as a bed but it serves the purpose.”
Seth shrugged. “Maybe. I’ll see how it goes today.”
“If you don’t get a little sleep you won’t be any good to anyone, you idiot. Listen to your older brother.”
Seth snorted. “Oh, yeah. As if being one year older makes such a difference.”
Max finished duplicating the credit card slips on the copy machine and handed the last of them to Seth. “Well, there you go. I wish you good luck. I don’t know how the hell you’re going to figure out who’s a killer from these. They’re all pretty much regulars and I’ve never seen anything off about them.”
“That’s the thing. This guy manages to blend in. Appear normal. Not give off any signals.”
“You’d think he’d at least carry a different scent,” Max remarked.
“My guess is his scent is so mixed that he just blends in among all the breeds. Which doesn’t make my job any easier.” He swallowed another mouthful of coffee. “Thing is, it’s as though he just woke up one morning and started doing this. If he’d been littering the place with victims for years, we’d have a red alert out for him.”
“You think he’s from outside the area? That he’s been doing this in other places?”
“No. We widened our search for similar crimes all over the Southeast and West. Nothing showed up.” Seth raked his fingers through his hair. “What I do think, however, is that whatever is causing him to do this only incites him intermittently.”
“So what does he do in between?” Max wanted to know.
“That’s the question. And why he hasn’t left a trail anywhere else. Something triggered this. I wish I knew what.”
Max clapped him on the shoulder. “Good luck. I’ll do anything I can to help. You know that.”
Seth took the stack of receipts and pushed himself out of the chair. “See you later. And I might show up early enough to take that nap.”
Max looked up from pulling a draught beer when Kendall walked into The Litter Box. It was just shy of nine o’clock and the crowd was looking small, even for a weeknight. She noticed that Aisha had taken one of the stools at the very end of the bar and saved the one next to it for her.
“Seth’s sacked out in the office,” Max told her. “Catching a nap before everyone descends at nine o’clock.” He glanced around. “He doesn’t need to rush. We aren’t that busy right now. The rogue probably won’t be trolling yet.”
“Is he affecting your business, Max?” She had worried about that all along.
“Not really. Weeknights are iffy, sometimes up, sometimes not.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “I made fresh coffee if you want to take him a cup. He should be getting up soon, anyway.”
“Okay. I think I will.” She looked at Aisha. “I’ll be back. Don’t let anyone grab my seat.”
“No sweat.” She laughed. “I’ll just have Max run them off.”
“Ha ha.” But Max smiled at her, his feelings for her simmering in his eyes.
Kendall eased the office door open and closed it gently behind her, flipping the lock. Seth was stretched out on the couch, shoes and blazer off, tie loosened, a lock of black hair falling over his forehead. She set the mug of coffee on the desk then sat down at the edge of the couch, stroking his face lightly.
“I know you think you’re sneaking up on me,” he said in the deep voice that always sent shivers skittering through her. “But I caught your scent the minute you opened the door.” He opened one eye. “Can’t fool a panther.”
She leaned down and kissed him, intending it to be just a light touch, but he wrapped his arms around her, wound his fingers in her hair and took the kiss to a much deeper level. He pushed his tongue into her mouth, carrying heat and temptation with it. She slid her own tongue over his, loving the taste of him and inhaling his scent. He always smelt of earth and wood and…cat, an aroma that woke up every pheromone in her body.
One large warm hand caressed her back and tugged up the thin fabric of her summer dress. His lean fingers slid across the bare skin of the cheek of her ass, finding the thong in the hot crevice and tracing the length of it. Kendall trembled as she always did at his touch.
“I don’t think we have time for this right now,” she protested but without much conviction.
“We always have time for this.” His mouth curved in a sexy grin. “I’ve been waiting for you so you could give me a proper hello.”
His warm palm caressed the curve of her buttocks, his fingers trailing through the cleft between the cheeks. Kendall sucked in a breath as heat shot through her and cream soaked her thong.
“You are so bad,” she breathed, leaning forward.
“Just the way you like me,” he teased. He turned her, giving him greater access to her ass. He teased the tight ring of her anus and pressed it with a fingertip. “As soon as we get this mess cleaned up, I plan on letting my cat out and have you do the same, and I’m going to fuck you right here. Plunge my dick into your tight ass. Then you’ll be mine forever.”
Kendall trembled as the image blasted across her mind and she nipped Seth’s ear lobe.
His hand slipped around to her front and down until he reached her very wet pussy. Two fingers rubbed her clit, sending shards of icy heat racing through her.
In a frenzy of lust, Seth yanked at her thong, ripping the fabric and tossing it to the side. Moving her so she straddled him, he unzipped his slacks and freed his heavy erection. Kendall glanced down at him. He was so hard and ready.
Seth lifted her slightly with his hands on her hips.
“Use your hand to guide me, sugar.” His voice was tight and raspy. “Take me inside you. Hurry.”
She wrapped her fingers around his length and slowly lowered herself onto him. The sensation of him filling her like this was so intense she had to close her eyes, letting the powerful feeling engulf her. At once tiny spasms began to ripple through her.
“Hang on, sweetheart.” Seth’s words sounded strangled. “One second here.”
He found her clit and rubbed it, thumb sweeping back and forth.
“Ohhhh,” she whimpered.
“Now, Kendall. Now, now, now.”
With the force of a tornado her orgasm crashed through her, shaking her body, Seth exploding beneath her. She felt every pulsation of his cock, felt every clench of her inner muscles around him. Nothing existed except their joining, the combined heat and the wave after wave of lust that rolled through her. Despite the mind-blowing intensity, she wanted to hang on to the ride and make it last forever.
Finally spent, she collapsed forward onto his hard chest, his strong arms cradling her, brushing kisses with his sensuous lips over her forehead and cheeks.
“Well…” His deep voice rolled over her like melted butter. “That was a hell of a greeting.”
She lifted her head enough to smile at him. “If we had more time I could make it even better.”
He laughed and sat up with her, adjusting her on his lap. “I’ll hold you to that later.”