Chapter Twenty-Seven

They waited in tense silence. Catherine’s phone had been patched in to a line at the station, and she, Rebecca, Watts and several other detectives were crowded into a small room filled with stale smoke and littered with half-filled paper cups, soda cans and fast food wrappers. Catherine had no chance to speak with Rebecca privately. Rebecca had been on the phone for much of the first hour, demanding surveillance equipment, requesting particular officers for special assignment, setting the wheels in motion to create an enormous web designed to trap her prey. To the other cops in the room she Chapter Twenty-Seven appeared focused and self-contained. They were used to her calm under pressure and took no notice of the tension betrayed in the brusque tenor of her voice and clenched muscles of her jaw.

Catherine, however, was watching her carefully. Rebecca had shed her jacket and leaned against the desk, one slender hip up on the edge, her sleeves rolled up to reveal tanned, well-muscled forearms. Her height and leanness were accentuated by the fine tailoring of her shirt and gabardine trousers. The only interruption in the elegant line of her form was the slash Chapter Twenty-Seven of leather across her back which secured her weapon to her side. Catherine had never felt so far from her, nor more captivated by her. Here was the strength that defined Rebecca’s essence -- her dedication, determination, and ability fused to produce the exceptional professional she was.

Catherine was too sensitive to the nuances of behavior to miss the signs of agitation and stress that Rebecca thought she was hiding. Catherine wanted desperately to touch her, talk to her, make some connection with her-- anything to let her know how much she cared, and how much Rebecca meant to her Chapter Twenty-Seven. She was continually frustrated in her attempts to draw Rebecca aside by the arrival of yet another person who had to see Rebecca or by the constant ringing of the phones. When Rebecca glanced her way there was the barest flicker of warmth before her eyes became impenetrable again. Whatever she was feeling toward Catherine, she hid well.

The low level of conversation in the room halted abruptly when the "red" phone rang. That was the phone which was receiving calls forwarded from Catherine’s home. Twice before it had rung; both were clients. This time even the ring seemed different Chapter Twenty-Seven. Catherine waited for Rebecca’s signal, then they both picked up at once.

"Hello?" Catherine said.

Rebecca could detect no nervousness in her voice. Even though she expected it, she still flinched at the next words.

"Hello, Doctor," the smooth, well-modulated voice said. "Did they find the girl yet?"

"What girl?"

"The one I left them. The one I killed for you."

"Yes," Catherine replied at a nod from Rebecca.

"Are you ready to meet me now, or will I have to kill another one tonight?"

"Where?" Catherine answered quickly, no longer looking at Rebecca. She would Chapter Twenty-Seven have to let her instincts guide her now. It was she, after all, he had chosen to contact, and she had the expertise to deal with him. She hoped.

"I cant tell you now, can I? We must keep it a secret a little longer. Drive to the statue of St. Joan in the park. You’ll find an envelope under three bricks on the left side. Read the instructions and do as it says. And remember, Doctor, Ill be watching you the entire time, just as I watched the others. "

"When?"

"Seven o’clock tonight."

The Chapter Twenty-Seven line went dead. Catherine looked to Rebecca, the receiver still gripped in her hand. Rebecca went to the attached tape recorder, pushed rewind, and played the tape for the others in the room. For some it was their first exposure to the sound of his voice.

Watts finally spoke, breaking the tense silence. "It wont play. There’s no way we can stake out the meeting place, because we wont have advance notice of where it is. A wire wont help much if were too far away to get to her in a hurry. He’s got the upper hand Chapter Twenty-Seven, which means that we might lose. Its no good, Frye."

Rebecca studied the disheveled man whose very presence she had resented up until now, and she couldn’t help wondering if he had spoken first so that she wouldn’t have to. For he was right. And if she had said the same thing, there always would have been some suspicion that she had not acted impartially -- that her judgment had been clouded by her personal involvement in the case. Those who knew her well would never believe it, but, still, her reputation would be tainted. She owed him Chapter Twenty-Seven, and she wasn’t sure she liked it.

"You’re right, Watts. Lets send someone out to pick up the note. Maybe there’s something in it that will give us a handle on him."

"Wait!" Catherine cried. "You cant do that! If I don’t go, he’s going to kill again. Believe me, he’s serious. There’s every possibility that he wont harm me. I’m special to him -- he needs me to share his victories with. I’m his audience. And there’s a chance I might be able to convince him to surrender Chapter Twenty-Seven himself to me!"

"Can you guarantee that he wont harm you, Dr. Rawlings?" Rebecca asked pointedly.

"No, I cant. But I can guarantee hell harm someone else if I’m not there to pick up his note at seven o’clock. There must be a way!"

"There is," Captain Henry said from the doorway, where he had been standing quietly. "Its almost three now. We have time to fill the park with undercover people between now and seven. Well put a wire on you and a tracer on your car so we know where you’re going at all times Chapter Twenty-Seven. And well put one detail behind you so someone can follow on foot when you get out of your car."



"Its loose, Captain," Rebecca interjected, her voice steady. "She might go where we don’t have any people, or the tail might lose her. Its too risky."

"I want to do it," Catherine said, pleading with her eyes for Rebecca’s support. Rebecca kept her gaze locked on Henry.

"We go," he said. "I want everyone in the command room in ten minutes for a briefing."

He left behind a room of stunned faces. Every person there knew Chapter Twenty-Seven Rebecca Frye had put her career on the line by openly defying her superior officer, who had ,in turn, put his career on the line by okaying an operation which was more than a little risky. Once again, Watts recovered first.

"Lets clear out. We got ten minutes to piss before things really heat up."

He succeeded in emptying the room. Catherine found herself alone with Rebecca for the first time in eighteen hours.


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