Detective Cortez drove hard to close an open case. The man was bold, single-minded in his pursuit and determined to work his way under Dr. Jennifer Madden's skin. His security details and around-the-clock surveillance were becoming all too personal. And the detective's protection was making a menace out of a stalker. If the beautiful doctor had any chance to survive she'd have to surrender to a protector who demanded her full cooperation...and then some.
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May 12, 2008
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Excerpt from In the Flesh by Rita Herron
Two Years Later--Savannah, Georgia
Detective Raul Cortez stared at the pair of black silk panties tied around the woman's throat and cursed.
The Savannah Strangler had struck again. The third time in three weeks.
Another young girl dead. A blonde this time.
And they had no clues as to the killer's identity.
The sicko. He'd stripped her naked, strangled her with a pair of silk underwear, then left her posed in the woods in a sexual position with hands folded at her breasts and legs spread wide as if to make a statement.
Raul's partner Eddie Keegan lumbered up beside him, swatting at a fly buzzing around his face. "How long do you think she's been here?"
Raul shrugged and stepped aside as the medical examiner stomped through the woods toward them. "At least a day, but the M.E. will have to pinpoint time of death. Have you found anything on the other girls' computers?"
Keegan shook his head. "Not yet. I gave them to the tech guys to look at."
"We need to find out where he's buying the underwear."
Keegan kicked at a loose root. "The press is going to be all over us on this. Make us look bad."
Raul glared at him as he mentally assessed the crime scene for details. "Make us look bad? What about these poor women?"
"Hey, I love women," Keegan growled. "That's why I'm here in the damn woods at 5:00 a.m."
"Then do your job," Raul muttered. No wonder Keegan had had sexual harassment charges filed against him on his other job. "We have to find a connection between the vics."
"I told you the tech team is on it. But the guy probably just hooked up with them in a bar. Happens every night of the week. Something you'd know, Cortez, if you ever got out and had a social life."
"Some of us put work first," Raul snapped.
"Yeah, and some of us want a life, too."
A life to Keegan meant getting laid every night. He was competent enough, but Raul was tired of his sexist comments and disparaging attitude toward women. Keegan thought females had been put on earth for his pleasure, and that they all loved him. One day someone would put Keegan in his place. He hoped to hell he was around to see it.
Buckner, the new assistant M.E., shuffled up and knelt to examine the body. Raul muttered a silent prayer for the girl's soul to rest in peace, promising her in that same prayer that he would find her killer. Then he focused on the details--the way her body had been positioned, how the grass and brush looked around the scene, the type of tree that was nearby. Details that might not be important but ones that might prove helpful at some point, maybe in finding a pattern.
So far, all three girls had been left in wooded, deserted areas. No real significance except that it meant the victims hadn't been located immediately. Hiking vacationers or locals had discovered all three.
The killer hadn't sent photos or notes to anyone that they knew of. For his trophy, he took the girl's underwear.
The crime-scene unit was taking photographs, although Raul had snapped a few of his own when he'd arrived. He had been first on the scene, had secured the area and had searched for footprints but found nothing but some crushed dead plants and a few broken twigs. It had recently rained, which made finding evidence more difficult, but he still held out hope that the CSI team might find something. A piece of clothing, hair, a shoe print...anything they could trace.
Captain Black approached, wearing a grim expression. "Damn. It looks like we may have to call in the feds."
Words Raul didn't want to hear. "Give us another week."
Black shrugged. "I already talked to a friend of mine at the bureau. It'll take that long to get someone out here. I asked for a profiler, but he suggested a local counselor that he thought could help us.A sex therapist named Jenny Madden."
"Not a shrink," Raul mumbled.
Black arched a brow. "I know your history, Cortez, but we have to use every available resource. If it means bringing in a counselor or psychiatrist, then we'll do it."
Raul grimaced. Black could do what he wanted. But no way in hell was he ever going to trust a shrink again or take her word on anything.
He'd solve the damn case without her.
DR. JENNY MADDEN took a deep breath before entering her mother's hospital room at CIRP, the Coastal Island Research Park mental facility. She reserved Sunday mornings to visit--not that her mother displayed signs of being aware of her presence--but Jenny's conscience and her heart wouldn't allow her to be anywhere else.
After all, Sundays had been about family when they were growing up: a big breakfast of pancakes or homemade cinnamon rolls; hurriedly dressing for church, putting on the Sunday dress her mother had made, her lacy Sunday socks and patent leather shoes; Bailey, her little brother, grumbling and complaining but her mother dragging him along anyway, saying his protests meant that he needed it.