Home > Envy (Fallen Angels #3)(2)

Envy (Fallen Angels #3)(2)
Author: Abbi Glines

If she could just avoid hitting a deer before she got to the Monroe Motel & Suites -

When her cell phone went off, she had it to her ear before the second ring. "Reilly."

"Detective de la Cruz."

"Hey. Guess where I'm going right now?"

"Who called you?"

"Dispatch. Your partner's on my list of things to do - so when he dials in for an ambulance and backup in the middle of the night, and says he doesn't know what happened to the victim, I get a ring-a-ding-ding."

Unfortunately, itwas something she was getting familiar with. Thomas DelVecchio Jr. had been working Homicide for only two weeks, and he'd already brushed up against a possible suspension for coldcocking a paparazzo who'd tried to sneak a pic of a victim.

That was child's play to this mess, though.

"How'd you find out?" she asked.

"He woke me up."

"How'd he sound?"

"I'm going to be honest."

"You always are, Detective."

"He sounded just fine. Complained of a headache and loss of memory. He said there was a lot of blood and that he was one hundred percent sure that the victim was David Kroner."

A.k.a., the sick bastard who had been carving up young girls and saving the bits and pieces. The bastard's latest "work" session had been conducted the night before last at the motel, and been interrupted by unknowns. Following the disturbance, Kroner had escaped out a window over the toilet, leaving behind a tragically messy corpse and a truck full of specimen jars and other objects - all of which were being cataloged at H.Q. and cross-referenced nationwide.

"Did you ask him if he did it?" As a member of Internal Affairs, Reilly investigated her own colleagues' misdeeds, and though she took pride in her work, she didn't enjoy the fact that people with her job description had anything to do. Much better if everyone, including the cops, were law abiders and played by the rules.

"He said he didn't know."

Blackout while committing murder? Not uncommon. Especially if it was a crime of passion - like, oh, say, a homicide detective taking down a debased serial killer. And Veck had already proved himself to be a hothead in the protection or defense of victims. Well, a hothead period. The guy was a brilliant, very sexy hothead -

Not that the sexy was in any way relevant.

In the slightest.

"What's your ETA, Detective?" she asked.

"'Bout fifteen minutes."

"I'm under a mile away. I'll see you there."

"Roger that."

As they hung up, she put her phone in the inside pocket of her coat, and hitched herself up in her seat. For a member of the force to be a possible suspect in a murder investigation - and going by what Veck had said to Dispatch, the likelihood of Kroner surviving was small - created all kinds of conflicts of interest. Most of the time, Internal Affairs folks dealt with corruption, procedural infractions, and investigations into on-the-job competence. But in a situation like this, members of Veck's own department were in the tight spot of assessing whether or not one of their own had committed a crime.

Hell, depending on how this went, she might need to bring in some kind of an outside panel to make the call. But it was too early for that.

It was not too soon to think about Veck's dad, however.

Everyone knew who the man was, and she had to admit that if that blood tie had not been in the picture, she wouldn't be going into this on quite as high alert ... with the worry that payback might well have been a DelVecchio, as it were.

Thomas Sr. was one of the most notorious serial killers of ikee twentieth century. Officially, he had been charged and convicted of "only" twenty-eight murders. But he'd been implicated in some thirty more - and that was just what authorities in four states knew about. Chances were good there were dozens of missing women who hadn't been properly linked to him.

So yeah, if Veck's father had been a lawyer or an accountant or a teacher, she might not be quite so concerned. But the whole apple-doesn't-fall-far-from-the-tree thing had evil implications when it came to serial killers and their sons.

After she went over a squat bridge, the Monroe Motel & Suites was up on the right, and she pulled in, going past the office and the row of rooms to the far end of the parking lot by the forest. Getting out with her backpack full of necessaries, the sweet diesel from the ambulance made her sneeze hard, and in the aftermath, she caught the tang of the pine boughs ... as well as the unmistakable copper sting of fresh blood.

The medics had angled their vehicle so it faced into the woods, and in the headlights, both of the EMTs were working over the bloodied body of a Caucasian male. The victim's clothes had been cut off - or torn off - and what was under them was a raw pastiche of too many wounds to count.

No way he was going to live, she thought.

And then she saw Veck. The homicide detective was standing off to the side, arms crossed, feet planted, face showing ... absolutely nothing. Just as de la Cruz had said.

Christ, the guy might as well have been in line for a deli sandwich.

As she walked over the spongy bed of downed leaves and soft earth, she felt a sudden urge to tighten her own insides up. Although if she was honest, that wasn't just about this crime scene. It was the man she'd come here for, too.

On the approach, she noted the black motorcycle parked on the fringe of the forest. It was his; she'd seen it at HQ before. Matter of fact, she'd watched him from her window as he mounted the thing, kick-started it, and tore off. He wore his helmet - most of the time.

She knew that a lot of women at the station house pulled the same stare thing, but then again, there was a lot to look at. Between his heavy shoulders and his tight hips, he was built like a boxer, but his face was more pretty-boy than pugilist - or would have been had it not been for his stare. Those cold, intelligent dark blues of his took that J.Crew - model bone structure into all-man territory. And then some.

Stopping in front of him, the first thing she noticed was the blood on his black turtleneck. Spots of it here and there, not big smudges or soaked-in patches.

No scratches on his face. Or his neck.

Clothes and hat were in good condition - nothing out of kilter, torn, or abraded. Two mud circles were on the knees of his black pants. Gun was holstered. Unclear whether he had other weapons on him.

He didn't say anything. No "I didn't do it" or "Let me explain ..."

His eyes just locked on her and ... that was it.

Ditching the pleasantries, she said, "The sergeant called me in."

"I figured."

"Are you injured?"

"No."

"Mind if I ask you some questions?"

"G'head."

God, he was in such control of himself. "What brought you out here tonight?"

"I knew Kroner was going to come back. He had to. With his collection impounded, he had nothing left of his work, so this is a holy site to him."

"And what happened after you got here?"

"I waited. He came ... and then ..." Veck hesitated, his brows going tight as a knot before one hand came up and rubbed his temple. "Shit ..."

"Detective?"

"I can't remember." He looked her square in the eye again. "I can't remember anything after he showed up, and that's the God's honest. One minute he was coming through the woods, and the next? There was blood everywhere."

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