Take the Key and Lock Her Up (7 page)

“It’s Devlin,” he said into the phone. “I need you to meet me at the police station.
And promise me you won’t discuss any details with the police about anything that happened
today until
after
you talk to me.”

She motioned again for him to open the door.

He gave her a smile meant to charm and distract, while he held up his hand, signaling
he needed another minute.

The smile was a wasted effort. She moved back, drawing her gun. She’d been awkward
and hesitant the first time she’d held that gun today, but it was quickly becoming
a smooth, practiced habit. He couldn’t help but think that was a damn shame.

“Open the door and step out of the vehicle,” she yelled through the glass.

The phone crackled. “Why do you want me to meet you at the station, son? What’s going
on?”

Tuck and Jones pulled their guns too, flanking her like a pair of bobblehead dolls.

Devlin gritted his teeth. “I’m about to be arrested.”

E
MILY STUBBORNLY MET
Devlin’s irritated gaze across the interrogation room table. For the first ten or
fifteen minutes of the interview, he’d been all smiles and flirty, inappropriate comments.
At first, she’d been flushing hot like a teenager with her first crush. But she’d
finally realized he was manipulating her, using her obvious attraction to him against
her. And that had sent an entirely new kind of heat flooding through her.

She’d stay here all evening if that’s what it took for him to start giving her more
than the light, fluffy answers he’d been feeding her so far. But unfortunately, as
soon as she’d stopped responding to his practiced charm, he’d obviously realized he
couldn’t manipulate her anymore. His smiles had faded, and he’d turned into the stoic
man in front of her right now.

At least he was still talking, as if he felt compelled to try to answer her questions.
But he wasn’t giving her much. And as time dragged on, his frustration level was becoming
evident in every tense line of his body.

The only good thing about the interview so far was that Lieutenant Drier had insisted
on keeping Devlin handcuffed. The chains between the cuffs looped through a hook bolted
to the top of the table that was in turn bolted to the floor. Without the restraints
on him, she might have been too intimidated by his steadily darkening disposition
to keep going.

In response to his request, again, for her to remove the handcuffs, she said, “Sorry,
I can’t. Lieutenant’s orders.”

He leaned toward her as far as the cuffs would allow. “I saved your ass today and
took out the guy who locked you up. Instead of harassing me, maybe you should spend
your time looking for those missing women.”

She stiffened at his reference to the search. That’s where she wanted to be. Half
the department was searching the miles of woods and farmland around the house where
the bodies had been found. Drier was performing damage control with the media. And
Emily was stuck here at the police station. Her boss’s official reason was because
of her reputation for reading people and figuring out what buttons to push in an interview.
But Emily was more inclined to believe he was punishing her because of her mistakes
in that basement.

“As it turns out, I would have been perfectly fine if you hadn’t shown up,” she said,
trying not to let him know he’d struck a nerve.

“What about Hawley? Would she have been fine if I hadn’t seen the suspect’s truck
and took off after him?”

She flushed. He was right. Hawley would likely still be a prisoner of the man who’d
taken her, suffering God only knew what kind of torture. But that only brought her
back to one of the many questions for which she still had no answers.

“Why do you think the suspect was still in the area when you and I drove past?” she
asked.

“I have no idea.”

“But you do agree that’s kind of strange, right? The suspect should have taken off
and been long gone by the time we saw him.”

He hesitated, then shrugged. “Maybe. Maybe not. The perp could have gotten lost on
the back roads. Once you issued a BOLO, he might not have known how to get out of
the area without being seen.”

She watched him closely. “BOLO. Perp. You speak like a cop.”

His lips quirked in a wry grin. “I watch a lot of cop shows on TV.”

His flippant tone had her clenching her left hand in her lap. “Why do you have a police
scanner in your truck?”

“Entertainment.”

She tossed her pen on the pad of paper. “Sarcasm isn’t going to get you out of here
anytime soon. How were you able to kill the suspect so easily?” When he didn’t answer,
she picked up her pen again. “Are you an undercover police officer, from another jurisdiction,
and you’re worried about blowing your cover if you answer my questions?”

He laughed without humor. “Not hardly.”

“Why did you kill the suspect?”

He cocked a brow. “Self-defense. I tried to stop him from running away and he attacked
me.”

Since she hadn’t seen the beginning of the fight between him and the man he’d killed,
she didn’t know if the suspect had attacked him, or whether Devlin was the one who’d
struck first. And she still wasn’t sure if the vicious twist of the suspect’s neck
had been warranted.

“What do you do for a living?”

He sat back and tried to cross his arms, but the length of chain jerked him up short.
His jaw tightened and he lowered his hands to the table. “As I already told you, I’m
an outdoor guide for an extreme adventure travel company.”

“Right. A guide.” She consulted the notes on her legal pad. “Extreme International
Tours—EXIT for short. Headquartered in Colorado. Can’t say that I’ve ever heard of
them.” She waited, but he didn’t say anything, which might mean he was telling the
truth. Most people caught in a lie would rush to come up with an excuse to cover their
mistake. She wrote a note to herself to surf the Net later for a company named EXIT
Incorporated.

“What do you do as a ‘guide’? Ferry people up and down the Savannah River while they
snap pictures of seagulls and paddle wheelers?”

The corner of his mouth twitched, as if what she’d said amused him. “Not exactly.”

Devlin’s face was devoid of expression, a little too composed, as if he’d purposely
wiped it blank to avoid giving away any clues to his thoughts. Other than a few tattoos,
he was covered in a golden tan, like someone who spent a lot of time outdoors. And
judging by the way his black T-shirt hugged his body, and the way he’d felt pressed
against her in the basement, he was solid muscle. That again seemed to support his
guide profession. But she’d yet to meet a tour guide adept at rescuing cops and snapping
bad guys’ necks.

In spite of the hyped-up police shows on TV that showed villains breaking people’s
necks with a quick, easy twist, the reality was far different. The victim in those
situations was more likely to get a stiff, sore neck than a broken one. It took a
great deal of power and skill to twist with the right angle, speed, and torque to
get the job done.

“Why were you driving down the highway in front of that house this afternoon?”

“I already told you. I was going to my father’s place for dinner.”

“Where were you driving
from
?”


My
house.”

“And before that?” she pressed.

“If you’re asking for my alibi for when Carolyn was murdered, you’ll need to be more
specific about when she was killed.”

“There was more than one body in that basement.”

He glanced at the solid glass door behind her as if expecting someone. “Without knowing
when those women were killed, it would be difficult for me to provide alibis.”

“Just give me this past week for starters.”

“Montana.”

She blinked. “Montana?”

“For the past four months, I’ve been escorting a wealthy European couple through Montana.
I flew into Hilton Head International Airport earlier today and went straight home.
You already have my address. After that, I drove to my father’s house. Or at least
I was trying to when your call for help went out on the radio. Does that satisfy the
alibi question?”

“I won’t know until the coroner performs the autopsies and nails down when the vics
were killed. And until I speak to that couple. I don’t suppose you have their names
and contact information handy?”

“Stacy and Everest Rand. I’m sure my employer can provide their numbers and addresses,
along with any business receipts you need.”

His quick, easy answer told her his alibi would probably check out, but she noted
the names on her pad anyway.

She considered his mannerisms, his body language. He didn’t fidget like most people
when grilled with questions. Instead, he sat almost deathly still. He was obviously
annoyed to still be there, but other than when he’d expressed his displeasure over
the cuffs, he’d remained in control—watching, waiting, as aware of her every movement
as she was of his, even when he wasn’t looking directly at her.

“Are you military, or former military?” she asked. “Special forces?” That could explain
his fighting skills, and his ability to kill so easily.

He affected a bored look and didn’t bother to answer.

The lieutenant had posed the idea that Devlin might be in on the kidnappings and torture,
that they might be dealing with a
group
of killers instead of the two-man tag-team Virginia Hawley had described when she
gave her full statement. If that theory were true, it could explain why Devlin had
been so quick to kill the suspect. He’d wanted to keep the suspect from telling anyone
about Devlin’s involvement. It would even explain why Devlin had chased the suspect’s
vehicle instead of leading Emily somewhere else. Devlin wouldn’t want the suspect
to get away to be caught in the net of the BOLO that had been issued. Again, that
would allow the suspect to talk and tell the police about Devlin’s role in the kidnappings
and murders. But if he were involved, why didn’t Hawley recognize him? That one fact
seemed to blow that theory apart.

Even if she assumed Devlin hadn’t actually been involved with Hawley’s kidnapping,
and that he was involved with just the other kidnappings, the theory still didn’t
ring true with her. She’d seen the anger and disgust on Devlin’s face when he’d killed
the other man, whom they still hadn’t identified. The man’s crimes were as repulsive
to Devlin as they were to Emily, which made it unlikely he was involved.

So what other conclusion could she make about who Devlin really was, or what he really
did? He was focused, calculating, intelligent, almost . . .
professional
in how he carried himself.

And in how he’d killed.

She stilled and stared at him. He wasn’t a cop, but he’d come to her rescue after
hearing her on a scanner. When he saw the suspect’s vehicle, he’d taken off on a high-speed
chase without hesitation. He’d pursued the suspect. He’d run
toward
danger the way only cops, firemen, or those in other branches of law enforcement
were trained to do.

“Are you with the FBI?” she blurted out.

He’d been studying the far wall as if gray paint had suddenly become fascinating.
But with her question hanging in the air between them, his gaze slowly shifted back
to her.

“No, Detective. I’m not FBI.”

His golden skin didn’t flush or turn pale. His eyes didn’t flicker. Did that mean
he was telling the truth? Or that he was just a really good liar?

“Homeland Security?”

“No.”

“CIA?”

“Again, no.”

“NSA? U.S. Marshals Service?”

“No, no, and hell no. As I already explained, I’m an
outdoor guide
.”

He was concerned. She saw it in the slight tightening of the tiny lines at the corners
of his eyes. Which must mean she was close to the truth. If he wasn’t in law enforcement,
there was only one more thing that matched the facts as she saw them. At first, the
idea seemed ludicrous. But as she considered it, looking at all the angles, the pieces
snapped together beautifully. It just made sense. Still, it was one of those concepts
that was far too TV land, something accepted in a dramatic series but that, in reality,
was rare enough to seem ridiculous. But when she applied that label to him, it didn’t
seem ridiculous at all. It just . . . fit.

Silently thanking her boss for insisting that Devlin be kept in chains, she popped
her next question, fully expecting him to laugh at her. “Are you some kind of professional
hit man, a trained assassin?”

He didn’t laugh. He didn’t blink. He didn’t move. The only indication that he’d even
heard her was that his gaze was now so focused, so intense, it sent a chill racing
down her spine.

She’d just stumbled onto the truth. She knew it in her bones.

She met his icy stare without flinching or blinking, even though her instincts screamed
at her to get out, to run as fast as she could, to get as far away from this man as
possible. She couldn’t help but feel as if this was an important moment in her life,
as if nothing was ever going to be the same again.

And it scared the hell out of her.

A tapping noise broke the spell that had fallen over them. They both looked down,
and she realized the tapping was coming from her. She was tapping her pen on the pad
of paper.

She tossed the pen down, flushing at the obvious sign that
he’d
rattled
her
.

“Here’s the thing,” she said, proud that her voice sounded confident, strong, in spite
of how much she was shaking inside. “If you’re an assassin, you must be working for
someone. And yet you took time out of your . . . busy schedule . . . to try to save
a cop. Why would you do that?”

She waited, but he didn’t say anything or react in any way.

“Tell me, Devlin,” she continued, trying to find the right button to push to get a
reaction, to get him talking again. “I’ve never met a hired killer before, so I’m
kind of curious. Why would you bother to save me when you usually
take
lives without worrying about the pain or loss you cause for the loved ones they leave
behind?”

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