She had to stay conscious, had to control the bleeding.
The vehicle swayed and rocked with a sharp right turn, and the wound in her side ignited. Olivia added pressure to stop the bleeding. Warm liquid slipped through her fingers, but she still had enough awareness to gauge their approximate location from the map of the area in her head. The killer had broken the MO. She hadn’t finished the job in Olivia’s apartment and instead, had forced her down the fire escape at knife point. Why?
Because of Silas.
Every victim attributed to this serial killer had been taken one-on-one. Which meant the killer wasn’t strong enough. Or she was afraid of the man who’d worked his way back into Olivia’s life. Silas had been the lead agent during the Charles Daggett investigation. He knew every angle, every person of interest, every piece of evidence by heart. He’d latched onto the case like a pit bull until the truth had come to light. The killer wouldn’t want him hunting her. Not until she finished the job.
Rough carpet from inside the car's trunk grated against her skin as the vehicle slowed to a stop, and Olivia rolled into the back seat of the sedan. The emergency handle installed in all vehicles after 2002 had been removed, the trunk cleaned of anything she could use as a weapon. She closed her eyes as the pain swelled to a crescendo. The killer had been waiting inside her home, and Olivia had been too slow in getting to her weapon at the front entry. A car door slammed, and the reverberation rippled through her. She had to think. There had to be something here that would help her gain the upper hand.
Footsteps drowned the constant ticking of rain outside a split second before the lid creaked open. Cold air and spits of rain rushed into the small space, and Olivia launched herself out.
Dr. Lara Farell wrapped her hands around Olivia’s throat as they fell back. They hit the ground in a tangle of fists and fury. Pavement bit into her knees and elbows as Olivia fought for dominance, but a strike to her stab wound spidered agony through her system. She fell back, her scream ricocheting off countless multicolored stainless steel barrels. A hint of humidity and salt tickled the back of her throat.
Charles Daggett’s therapist from Sing Sing crouched beside her. Striking red hair fell in a straight waterfall over the killer’s thin shoulders. Spotlights washed color from Dr. Farell’s already pale skin, highlighting the freckles across the bridge of her nose. “I’ve got to say you’re a hard one to get alone, Director Branson. You didn’t make this easy at all. I admire that. I’ve always been up for a challenge.”
“You.” Olivia struggled to catch her breath. “You’re the one killing the agents involved in the Daggett case. Why?”
“Like I said, I’ve always been up for a challenge. What bigger challenge than a man you know in your heart can be reformed but refuses to accept help?” A wistful neutrality smoothed over the good doctor’s expression, and it was then Olivia knew. The manner of death, the victims. Dr. Farell had become a monster in an attempt to connect with a serial killer. She’d fallen in love with him. “Now tell me who planted that pen with Charles’s DNA at the last scene, and this will be over before you know it.”
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