Home > The Last Move(5)

The Last Move(5)
Author: Mary Burton

“Seems pretty damn personal to me,” Calhoun said.

“Or it’s part of his ritual.”

“The killer left the phone so he could communicate with us.”

“Yes, he did,” Mazur said.

“I can try and trace the incoming phone call.”

“Go ahead and do it now. If this guy has any brains, he’s using a burner and will have deactivated it right away. But sometimes we get lucky.”

“I’ll move fast.” She reached for her cell. “Hoping for stupid killers right now.”

A smile tweaked the edge of his lips. “I bet you’ve seen your share.”

“And no doubt you saw a few in Chicago.” She raised her phone to her ear.

“Something tells me this one is smart.” Mazur looked up and down the stretch of highway. A memory sparked. “There were other killings on I-35. Women traveling alone, disabled car, and then shot point-blank. Serial killer or copycat?”

“It’s been six months since that killer struck. The last shooting was farther north. And the FBI made an arrest in that case.”

“All the killings moved progressively south on I-35.”

Calhoun’s call dropped. She cursed and redialed. When the second call went through, she turned from him and discussed a phone trace. Traffic on the northbound side was heavy and noisy, forcing her to cup her hand over her ear as she listened.

Mazur searched the Internet on his phone. The articles were slow to load but finally appeared on the I-35 killer, also known as the Samaritan. His memory had been correct. The five victims had been random, all were shot once in the chest, and each victim’s car had suffered some kind of malfunction. One ran out of gas. One had a punctured tire. Another had a rag stuffed in the tailpipe of her car. The lead FBI investigators on the case were Agent Mike Nevada and Dr. Kate Hayden, profilers based at Quantico.

The killer was reaching out to Agent Kate Hayden.

Calhoun tucked her phone back in her holster. “The phone is being traced as we speak.” She glanced at his display. “FBI? You really want to pull the FBI into this case?”

“Want to? No. But when is life ever about what you want?”


The bait will be too enticing to resist. Get more flies with honey than vinegar.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Sunday, November 26, 12:10 p.m.

Agent Kate Hayden, PhD, was violating hospital visiting hours as well as a direct order from her supervisor when she rolled up the sleeves of the white lab coat and crossed the polished lobby toward the visitor’s station. Overhead lights hummed as the distant elevator doors opened and a gurney disembarked.

Her phone buzzed in her pocket. The display read Agent Jerrod Ramsey. Her boss. The guy had radar. She silenced the phone and tucked it in her pocket.

An older woman wearing a blue volunteer’s smock smiled and then made a sad, pouty face when she didn’t spot hospital identification clipped to Kate’s jacket. “Are you on staff?”

Instead of answering the question, Kate said, “I left my cell phone and ID badge in the gift shop. They have the cutest sweaters, and I tried one on. I just got distracted. You’d be doing me a big favor if you’d let me sneak up there for just a minute.” Her practiced go-to smile usually worked. “I know exactly where I left it.”

“I need to see identification.”

She glanced at the woman’s name badge. “Delores, can you cut me a break? My attending will eat me alive if he finds out I left it.” The store was just up the escalator within sight of the information desk.

“I don’t remember you.”

“I’ll run up there very quickly and bring it back.” Kate allowed some real worry to leak into her expression. “I’m in a rush.”

A tall, broad-shouldered man approached the front desk to ask a question, and the brief distraction gave Kate the opening to start walking. The woman’s answer was lost as Kate moved up the escalator and past the gift shop toward a second bank of elevators. As the doors of one opened, she slipped in behind two nurses dressed in scrubs and a man and woman in white lab coats. At each floor the doors opened and her fellow passengers got off, until finally she was alone.

At the sixth floor, she exited the elevator, moved toward the lockdown unit, and pressed the intercom. “I’m Dr. Kate Hayden. I’d like to speak to a nurse.”

“Step away from the doors.” The voice crackled from the speaker.

The doors swung open, and a young nurse in scrubs appeared. “What can I do for you?”

“I’m here to see Sara Fletcher.”

The nurse studied her. “Are you medical personnel?”

“I’m a doctor.” PhD in linguistics, but that was semantics now.

The nurse shook her head. “Morning visitation is over.”

Kate held up her FBI badge. “I won’t be long. It’s important.”

The nurse stood her ground in the open doorway. “Law enforcement has been here all morning. The poor girl is in critical care, exhausted, and she’s still not talking. I’ve strict orders from local police not to let anyone in.”

This case was turning into a jurisdictional tug-of-war. And Kate had not helped when a local detective had questioned her methods as if she were a child. She’d called him a moron, and the working relationship had soured from there. Now he was trying to cut her out of the case. “Your job is to help her body heal. My job is to catch the guy who locked her in a box in his barn for thirty-four days.”

The nurse’s gaze narrowed. “She needs rest.”

“Her abductor needs to be caught.”

The nurse hugged her clipboard close and leaned in toward Kate. “Did I see you on television? Were you the agent who found her?”

“I was.”

The nurse’s guard dropped for a split second, no doubt as the scene played in her head.

Kate took advantage of the other woman’s distraction and stepped through the doors into the unit. She was short but moved very quickly when motivated. She walked toward the girl’s room.

The nurse recovered and followed, and the automatic doors swung shut behind them. “Look, you really can’t see her now. If you don’t leave, I’ll call security. You might be FBI, but while that kid is here, I’m in charge.”

Kate didn’t break stride. “Ever been in a wooden box the size of a coffin for a minute, an hour, or thirty-four days as in Sara’s case?”

The nurse frowned. “I know it’s been horrible for her.”

“Do any of us really know? I sure can’t say that I understand what she’s endured.”

“We’re all devastated over the girl’s trauma.”

“You know Sara’s skin is so raw because of the constant pressure of the wood scraping against her. She can’t tolerate light thanks to the perpetual darkness. She can’t walk because her muscles have atrophied so badly she’ll need months of PT. And the STD she has came from repeated—”

The nurse moved in front of her. “I’m aware of her injuries.”

Kate straightened herself to her full five foot two inches. “Have you heard about the other girls this monster locked in boxes? We found other coffins buried in shallow graves on his property.”

Some of the nurse’s fire cooled. “There were others?”

“Four others. Those girls weren’t lucky.” She glanced around and dropped her voice. “One victim didn’t fit in her box. Want to guess how he got her to fit? He broke her legs.”

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