Home > Dream Man(7)

Dream Man(7)
Author: Linda Howard

“Did you notice anything unusual this morning?” Dane asked. “Before you came in the house, I mean.”

“No. Well, the door was locked. Nadine usually gets up and unlocks it for me, then starts cooking breakfast.”

“Do you usually come in the front door or the back door?”


“What did you see when you opened the door?”

Mr. Vinick’s chin trembled. “Nothing, at first. The shades were pulled and the lights weren’t on. It was dark. I figured Nadine had overslept.”

“What did you do?” “Turned on the light in the kitchen.”

“What did you see then?”

Mr. Vinick swallowed. He opened his mouth but couldn’t speak. He put his hand to his eyes. “B-Blood,” he managed. “All—all over the place. Except—it looked like ketchup, at first. I thought she’d dropped a bottle of ketchup and broken it, the way it was splattered. Then—then I knew what it was. It scared me. I thought she must have cut herself, real bad. I yelled her name and ran to the bedroom, looking for her.” He stopped, unable to carry the tale any further. He began to shake, and didn’t notice when Dane and Trammell got up and stepped away, leaving him alone with his grief and horror.

Ivan Schaffer and an assistant arrived with their bags and disappeared into the bedroom to gather what evidence they could salvage from the carnage. Lieutenant Gordon Bonness arrived practically on their heels. He skidded to a stop just inside the door, his expression one of shock. “Holy shit,” he muttered.

“That seems to be the concensus,” Trammell said in an aside to Dane as they joined the lieutenant.

Bonness wasn’t a bad sort, even if he was from California and could come up with some pretty weird ideas on things. He was as fair as possible in the way he ran the unit, which Dane considered a pretty good recommendation, and he was tolerant of the different quirks and work habits of the detectives under him.

“What have you got so far?” Bonness asked.

“We have a lady who was hacked to pieces, and a husband who was at work. We’ll check out his alibi, but my gut says he’s in the clear,” Dane answered.

Bonness sighed. “Maybe a boyfriend?”

“We haven’t gotten that far yet.”

“Okay. Let’s move fast on this one. Jesus, look at these walls.”

They went into the bedroom, and the lieutenant blanched. “Holy shit,” he said again. “This is sick!”

Dane gave him a thoughtful look, and his stomach tightened. A feeling of dread went up his spine. Sick. Yeah, this was sick. And he was suddenly a lot more worried than he had been before.

He squatted beside Ivan as the tall, lanky man painstakingly searched for fibers, hair, anything that could be analyzed into giving up its secrets. “Found anything?”

“Won’t know until I get it to the lab.” Ivan looked around. “It would help if we could find her fingers. Maybe there’d be some skin under the nails. I’ve got people going through the trash in the neighborhood. No garbage disposal here, so that’s out.”

“Was she raped?”

“Don’t know. There’s no obvious semen.”

Dane’s feeling of dread was growing stronger. What had seemed like a fairly simple, if gruesome, murder was getting complicated. His gut feeling was seldom wrong, and he had alarm signals going off like an entire brass section.

He followed the gory trail back to its beginning, in the kitchen. Trammell came with him, and they both stood in the small, homey room, looking around. Nadine Vinick had evidently liked to cook; the kitchen was more modern than the rest of the house, with gleaming appliances, a small cooking island, and a variety of shiny but well-used pots and pans hanging over the island. A butcher’s block stood at one end of the counter, and a set of Ginsu knives, with one knife missing, was arranged in a rack on top of the butcher’s block.

“How did the son of a bitch get in?” Dane muttered. “Has anyone even looked for signs of forced entry, or did they just play the odds that the husband was the one who did her?”

Trammell had worked with him long enough to read him. “You getting a feeling about this?” “Yeah. A bad one.”

“You don’t think maybe she had a boyfriend?”

Dane shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not. It was just something the lieutenant said, about this being sick. It is. And that makes me real uneasy. Come on, let’s see if we can figure out how he got in.”

It didn’t take long. There was a small cut at the bottom of the screen on the window in the spare bedroom. The screen was in place but unfastened, and the latch on the window was open, not that it would have kept out even a determined ten-year-old. “I’ll get Ivan,” Trammell said. “Maybe he can lift a print, or find a couple of stray threads.”

Dane’s gut feeling was getting worse. A forced entry put a different slant on the situation, indicating a stranger. This didn’t feel like a burglary that had escalated into violence when the intruder had been suddenly confronted by Mrs. Vinick. The ordinary burglar would have been more likely to run, and even if he had attacked, it would have been quick. The attack on Mrs. Vinick had been both vicious and prolonged. Sick.

He walked back into the kitchen. Had the first confrontation taken place here, or had Mrs. Vinick seen the intruder and tried to run out the back door, getting as far as the kitchen before he caught her? Dane stared at the appliances as if they could tell tales. A small frown knit his brows and he went over to the automatic coffee maker, the kind that was installed under the upper cabinets so it didn’t take up counter space. The carafe held about five cups of coffee. Using the backs of his fingers, he touched the glass. It was cold. The coffee maker was the kind with the automatic switch that turned off the warming plate after two hours. A coffee mug, filled almost to the rim with coffee, sat on the counter. It didn’t look as if it had been touched since the coffee had been poured into it. He stuck his finger into the dark liquid. Cold.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
» Fixed series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)
» Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1)
» Norse Mythology