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Authors: Trisha Wolfe

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With Visions of Red (Broken Bonds#2)

BOOK: With Visions of Red (Broken Bonds#2)
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With Visions of Red
Broken Bonds, Book Two
Trisha Wolfe
Contents

C
opyright
© 2015 by Trisha Wolfe

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

W
hoever fights
monsters should see to it that in the process he does not becomes a monster. When you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss gazes back into you.

~Friedrich Nietzshe

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et your free book now
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, and fall in love with Sam and Holden’s story in
THE DARKEST PART
.

Adrift
Sadie

J
ackson Randall Lovett
.

Three unassuming names in their own right, but when strung together in this precise, orderly fashion, seize me with terror. Damn me to nightmares.

My captor.

I didn’t learn his name until later, until after I was released from hospital care, when my parents could no longer shield me from the stormy aftermath. Reporters, journalists, therapists… They all whispered his name to me, hot breath slithering into my ear, infusing me with a new kind of dread.

Memories.

Yes, Jackson Randall Lovett was dead. Killed. Gunned down in my very presence. Ultimate proof that his sadistic torture could no longer afflict my life. But in my subconscious, in the dark, tranquil waters of my mind, his ghost began its haunt.

I heard the shiver-inducing
crack
the moment my soul fissured, and my psyche fragmented. As the fracture traveled on, razor-sharp teeth shredding me in two, I clung to the edge of my past—to the girl who existed before Jackson Randall Lovett.

I wanted to save her.

I only had two options: be consumed by the blackness, or fight back.

Die or live.

I initially took the path of least resistance, which led to a painful life of battling drug addiction. For a time, I was clutched within the tempting claws of escapism brought on by a promised high. I was a teen, after all. Temptation was all around me, would have still been there had I never been stolen that one unfortunate night. Ultimately, though, I found the reprieve that came from knocking myself unconscious with a handful of pain pills didn’t last long enough. I always awoke right back into my dark realm, the walls bleeding, the haunt of my captor pervading my daily nightmares.

It was during those rocky two years of teenage hell that my softhearted father decided he couldn’t endure the painful road to recovery. He left, and I didn’t fault him. Maybe an outsider looking in would, but I just couldn’t judge him for abandoning a sinking ship.

Even still, the darkness that had infused itself so deeply into our family killed him in the end. There was no escape. My senior year of college, I got the call that he had suffered a heart attack. My softhearted father. His heart had failed him.

That’s when—finally—the second path presented itself.
Fight
.

Take my hard-earned degree in psychology (originally majored in to help survivors of horrific crimes recover) and apply it to a new area of study. A more proactive approach, which would allow me to prevent the destruction of lives in the first place. I would help law enforcement capture sadistic psychopaths. Stop them before they could cause more damage.

It seemed the only logical choice.

I couldn’t have known then where it all would lead.

But maybe there was another path. A third option I could’ve explored. I should’ve searched harder.

“Piper McKenna goes there.” Detective Quinn points toward the clear glass whiteboard, directing the newest member of his task force on where to place the first victim along the timeline.

Quinn rakes a hand through his mussed hair, and a few recently sprouted silver strands feather back into place. The unshaved scruff along his jaw reveals just how little sleep he’s had over the past week, but even in his haggard state, he still looks every bit the tidy and handsome detective.

Detective Alec Carson, a transfer from downstate, presses the felt-tip marker to the glass and drags it upward, creating a single, black dash to represent Piper McKenna’s death. She gets one thin streak to signify her demise. That’s all. One mark to represent the taking of her life, which will be forever tainted by the disgraceful state in which the UNSUB left her.

These morbid thoughts cloud my head, splinter my judgments, making the small conference room feel stuffy and clinical, like a hospital room. It’s possible that’s why I’m so focused on my own, personal timeline. Contemplating how I got here.

“Bonds, get your head out of your ass and read back that press statement.”

Snapped out of my daze, my attention shifts to Quinn. Gaze narrowed, he eyes me carefully, waiting for my response. Ever since I disclosed the text messages I received from the UNSUB, he’s adopted an overprotective disposition. He’s become a constant, hovering big brother presence in my life. There’s also a bit of suspicion behind his concern. Which I don’t blame him; why did the UNSUB contact
me
?

That topic has become a point of focus for not only Quinn, but the whole task force. Analyzing each sentence, deciphering the cryptic meaning behind every word, syllable, letter, punctuation mark. Probing me relentlessly on what I know; people of interest from my past and my present. Tirelessly examining the evidence until the proof of the matter became apparent: I do not know the UNSUB.

I even gave my own psychoanalysis on the texts, stating—in short—that the UNSUB has formed an obsession. Whether or not I have ever come into contact with the killer I can’t know for sure, but this much is true. Obsession grips him, and he’s found something in me to feed his need to control, orchestrate, and possess.

The evening the first and last message was received, the technical analyst tried unsuccessfully to trace the signal, then ultimately installed surveillance software on my cell. Not only are all my calls being recorded, my texts being monitored, but so are my movements. Quinn and the task force know my whereabouts at all times.

This, along with the tension choking the department awaiting the UNSUB’s next move, has me more than on edge.

I need an escape.

Breaking away from my internal conflict, I shuffle through my files until I find the current press release. Quinn insisted we go over it again, make sure the captain hit on all the key points of the profile that we want revealed to the public, before it airs live this morning.

I roll my shoulders and bring the page before me. “The offender targets women in their mid- to late twenties. So far, victims have been of Caucasian ethnicity, but all women should be cautious. Victims were unmarried, lived alone, and had recently moved to Arlington. They also had no close family ties in the area—”

“Scratch that part,” Quinn interrupts, and I look up from the page.

“Why?” Irritation laces my voice. “It’s the truth. New to the area, single women with no family or close friends to depend on should be put on alert.”

Rubbing the scruff along his chin, Quinn holds my stare. “Those are touchy key words that can create a panic for lonely women.”

I glance over to the new, young detective eying me with raised eyebrows, then back at Quinn. “I think that ship has sailed. The moment the news went live with the report of the fourth victim, panic hit. For
every
one.”

He exhales audibly, dropping his hand to grab a pen off the table. He walks over to me and plucks the page from my hand, then proceeds to mark through the sentence I just read.

“If you want to talk truth,” he says, tone low and guarded as he scrawls something on the page, “then why not just have Wexler recite off
your
stats.” He looks up and locks with my gaze. “Warn all women that if they have more than a few things in common with Agent Sadie Bonds, they should bolt their doors up tight.”

Anger heats my face. “That’s bullshit.” He straightens to his full, towering height at my riled tone; I rarely let Quinn affect me, but this is going too far. I know he’s stressed, as we all are, but lately he’s been a bigger dick than usual.

“Is it?” he asks, handing me back the press release. “The UNSUB has targeted you, Bonds. Whether it’s to do with inserting himself into the investigation, I guess that can be argued. But we both know this particular fixation goes much deeper. You profiled it yourself. Erotomania, wasn’t it?”

I push my bangs away from my eyes. “First of all, his fixation is with Bathory, not me. Unless his delusion involves me being the reincarnated Countess…which there’s been no evidence to suggest…he’s still invested in his delusional relationship with
her
. I just happen to meet some inane criteria in his delusion.”

“He believes you share a common obsession,” Quinn says, spitting my own words from the last meeting back at me.

“Yes.”

“An obsession with the Blood Countess.”

I shrug. “My college dissertation was on Elizabeth Bathory. It’s not hard to uncover for someone with the right skills, especially someone looking specifically for Bathory research.”
An area I have nearly exhausted with no leads
. “My paper was intense. Some might even say
passionate
. An easy jump from there to obsession.”

Quinn’s hazel eyes drill into me, making my skin itch and my heart rate spike.

All these puzzle pieces fit together seamlessly to complete a very neat and convenient explanation. One I need the hard-ass detective to go with. At least for now, until I’ve positively eliminated a certain Shibari bondage rigger as a person of interest.

“Second,” I say, driving unwelcome thoughts of Colton away, “the victims and I do not share the same physical traits. I’m not a part of his selection process.”

“Well, you’re a part of something for him.” He steps closer, his chest bowed out, forcing me to tilt my head back in order to meet his eyes.

Anchoring my hands to my hips, I stand my ground. “It’s common for serial killers to fixate on one law enforcement member, Quinn. Honestly, you know this.”

The corners of his eyes crease as he searches my face. “It’s common for them to develop an infatuation
during
an investigation,” he stresses. “Not
before
. He had you in his sights prior to the first victim.”

My breathing goes shallow. I focus on calming my heart rate, keeping my facial muscles lax but controlled. Quinn may not have the behavioral training I do to read people, but he’s old-school. He has years of experience in the field, breaking people down to discover their tells.

Freeing a tense breath through my nose, I lick my lips. His gaze flicks lower, watching my tongue glide across to moisten my bottom lip. His mouth parts, and I glimpse the raging battle beneath his trained composure as he clamps his back teeth together. A muscle ticks along his jaw.

I doubt a little sexual diversion is enough to throw Quinn off, but at this point, I use what’s in my arsenal. And like that, his focus is hard on me again. He doesn’t sway easily.

“Again,” I say, my voice steadier than I feel. “I help support his delusion—whatever that may be—
after
the fact. The UNSUB planned his kills, fantasized about them long before the first victim. This is how it works, Quinn. Not the other way around.”

He hears the wobble in my voice. He sees the furrow of my brow. I’m not getting out of this grilling so easily this time.

And truthfully, I’m not at all certain about anything I’ve stated—it’s uncharted territory. What I say is true, for the most part, but it’s highly unlikely the UNSUB selected a poem that just happens to resonate so deeply with me on a whim. Like the one he planted at the first crime scene.

She Walks in Beauty
.

Little messages left just for me, evidence that he stalked me before he ever put his blade to a victim’s neck. Only I don’t understand what it means, and I can’t investigate on my own without calling attention to those facts.

My nerves are so frayed, my annoyance mounting so high, that I haven’t even had time to be afraid. How much does the UNSUB really know about me? What are his intentions—what will he do with that information?

There’s so much unknown to fear that my mind can’t process the correlating emotions.

Quinn leans down to get in my face, and I can feel the tension pressing against me like a physical force. “What are you hiding, Bonds?”

The air grows thicker between us, charging. I blink.
Dammit
. “Nothing.”

His eyes squint. “Everyone hides something.”

I release a clipped breath. “Then what are
you
hiding?”

Carson’s sudden burst of laughter draws Quinn’s anger with a dark glare, and Carson’s attention quickly returns to the whiteboard.

I relax my shoulders, exhale heavily. “Look. It’s not what you think…”

“What I think is that I have a profiler on my team who’s in danger, and she’s doing her damndest to get herself killed because she’s too stubborn to trust others to do their job.” His mouth sets in a hard line. It’s the first time he’s said those words aloud, and they cut right through me.

Filling my lungs, I suck in a quick dose of courage. “Quinn, I’m a big girl who’s more than capable—”

“I’m not saying you’re not,” he interrupts again. “But it’s like you’re doing your best to keep me out of the loop. I gotta say, that doesn’t look good.”

My eyes slit. “What? Am I a suspect?” When he just stares at me, I shake my head.

“Everyone in the department is suspect at this point.” He laces his arms over his broad chest.

It clicks into place. “Forensic countermeasures. All the methodical scrubbing of evidence on the UNSUB’s part.”

He nods. “The task force will soon be looking into backgrounds and digging around in our own backyard unless we get a new lead soon.”

A sickness coats my stomach, and I swallow down the burn of bile.

He cocks his head. “Are you really upset on the victims’ behalf? I don’t think leaving information out of the press release is enough to get you riled. Not really.” He scans my face, seeking a weakness in my defense to launch a new attack. “It’s the mention of family, isn’t it?”

The tightness in my chest squeezes my heart.

“I’ve read your file; it’s my job. I know you’re worried…” At my alarmed expression, Quinn trails off and sighs. “Let me in, Bonds. I can help. Just tell me—”

A loud cough shuts Quinn’s interrogation down, and I remember we’re not alone. Face flushed, I turn my attention to Carson. Quinn follows my gaze, a hard expression pulling at his features.

“Sorry to interrupt,” Carson says, motioning to his phone. “But the press conference starts in about ten minutes.”

Quinn curses under his breath, then backs up a few paces to look at me. “All right. Let’s go with what we have. It’s not like the department hasn’t taken heat before when someone’s fucked up.”

BOOK: With Visions of Red (Broken Bonds#2)
10.45Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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