Broken Justice Chapter 3&4!
Fractured Minds Series
I woke from the darkness. I was no longer in my car but in a bed. My bed. The familiar mattress beneath my body was welcoming, even as the last prickles of the headache reminded me exactly what had transpired. I’d almost lost it in public and, worse than that, in front of a killer.
I eased herself up and glanced around the darkened room. I climbed out of the bed and headed toward the sound of voices coming from the living room.
Ford, Sam, and Carson were sitting at the dining room table. A map was spread out across the wood.
Carson was the weapon expert of our motley crew, and he was one of my best friends. His military expertise had saved my ass a time or two and gotten all of us out of a jam more than once.
“What did I miss?” My voice came out scratchy.
All eyes lifted in my direction. There was a pensiveness in the air. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
As if sensing my unease, Ford crossed the room and rested his hand on my cheek before leaning in to kiss me, easing the tension starting to build. “How did you sleep?”
“I didn’t have any dreams,” I answered honestly, thankful for the reprieve. “So, what did I miss? Did he take the bait?”
“We followed him in the van,” Carson answered. “He went home, and he’s been there ever since. A woman showed up within minutes of his arrival. She only stayed for an hour and then left.”
“If you ask me, she looked like a booty call the way her hair was all messed up,” Sam said.
“That’s good news, right? Another person we can question and track.”
“There’s no need,” Ford answered, slipping his fingers through mine and leading me across the room. “We know who the woman is.”
“Well, don’t keep me in suspense,” I said, raising my voice.
“You know her too.” Sam turned the computer around for me to see.
The woman in question was Kenzie, Dorothy’s older sister. “How do she and Sebastian know each other?”
Carson rubbed his hand across his head. “They went to college together from what we can tell. We haven’t confirmed if they have any other connections.”
“Crap,” I whispered. “She could be in danger too.”
“I think you need to sit down,” Ford said, pulling out a dining room chair.
“Lucy, honey, you need to sit. There’s more you need to know.” Ford’s expression stilled and grew serious.
I eased down into one of the chairs. That uneasy feeling was stirring in my gut. I hated feeling out of sorts. This can’t be good. “What’s wrong? Just spit it out.”
“Show her, Sam,” Ford said.
Sam clicked a few buttons on his computer and turned the screen for me to see.
Sebastian Elliot was standing at my car window, with his phone in hand, and he was taking a picture of me leaned back in the car. I hadn’t hallucinated his face.
“Damn,” I whispered.
“He also took a picture of your license plate tag,” Sam said.
“Noah has been informed, and he’s on his way back into town,” Carson added. “He wants us to pull back from the case and go on the defensive in the event Elliot’s curiosity turns on you.”
Double crap. Noah was in on this now. The FBI agent and leader of our little group of misfits would definitely have an opinion about the personal hunt I was pursuing. He’d recruited me straight from the psych ward over a year ago to hunt a killer, and I’d been with the team every since. His team. They weren’t my team. They were like family now, and big brother Noah wasn’t going to be happy.
“Noah will understand what we’re doing when we give him all the details. We want Sebastian Elliot to come after me, right? If he comes after me, then we’ll have a reason for dealing with him. We won’t even need Dorothy’s body.”
Dealing with him was code for killing the killer whose thoughts remained in my head. The only way to sever a blood connection was death, and I was more than ready and able to put a bullet in the killer’s head with or without evidence. I knew what he’d done, regardless if I could prove it.
“Lucy, Elliot has connections, apparently more than even we knew. He already has your name and your address.”
“How is that possible? Neither the police or the FBI have my accurate information thanks to Noah changing it in my files.”
“Your DMV records were accessed twenty minutes after the woman left Sebastian’s home.”
“Crap, when at the DMV, I hadn’t thought twice about using my home address. I’d been more worried about them getting my last name right.”
“Court records were accessed ten minutes later. He knows all about your marriage, the death of your husband, and your time in the psych ward.”
“Steinman,” I whispered. My dead ex-husband had haunted me for a while. It had been a surprise to find out that he’d watched me for years after leaving me high and dry in Vegas on our wedding night.
“It’s only a matter of time before he puts together your involvement from the news reports about that serial killer down in Florida. He’s going to know our angle. Our element of surprise is gone.”
Anger stirred in my veins, and for once, it wasn’t from the killer or anyone else I was connected to. This anger was mine, and it was a welcoming caress down my spine, sparking my desire to win.
This killer camping out in my head would test my skills. He’d test my resolve and determination to live. “He’s good.”
“Noah wants you at the compound by morning,” Carson added.
“I’m not going under lock and key,” I said, rising from my seat. “This guy is on to me. We can use that. We can bait him. He’d be an idiot not to realize that I know the truth. Hell, the clothes alone should have made that apparent.” My gaze searched Carson’s. He remained silent like a stubborn mule. I signed and turned my gaze toward Sam. “You know I’m right.”
“I know how things work when we break the law. I know the consequences involved, so we need to be careful,” Sam answered.
“Grant will be tailing Elliot in the morning, and Gigi has been warned,” Ford said, wrapping his arms around me from behind.
My twin sister didn’t need to be involved in this, even accidentally. If Sebastian Elliot mistook her for me, I’d be dealing with the same kind of psycho from Florida. My sister was my weakness, and Grant, my old handler and now brother-in-law as Gigi’s husband, knew things could turn dicey without warning.
I glanced down to the county map spread out on the table. Areas were circled in black marker. “What’s that?”
“When we did the background data on Sebastian Elliot and discovered he has several hunting cabins, these are the closest for him to access. Places of interest we should check. If I were going to bury a body to get rid of it, those are the places and locations that I’d chose,” Carson said.
“Let me change and get my shoes on, and we can go,” I said, turning to leave the room.
Ford caught my hand and pulled me to a stop. “We can’t go snooping. That’s private property.”
“Since when has that ever stopped you?” I asked.
Ford was a thief. He wasn’t one that followed the rules often, and he always had an exit strategy. That was only one of his many talents that I’d come to love.
“She has a point.” Ford shrugged.
“There are no surveillance cameras for me to tap into. You’ll be going in blind and without backup. Your chances of getting caught are highly probable,” Sam said.
“The kid is right,” Carson said. “We’ll sit tight and watch the area through our satellites to check for movement while we’re waiting on Noah to get back in town.”
“It sounds smart to me,” Sam said.
No matter how smart that sounded to everyone in the room, it didn’t sound smart to me. We needed answers and quick, especially now that Sebastian had my name and address. I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for him to strike. I wouldn’t let him get that close.
“And besides, you have your doctor’s appointment in the morning about the headaches. You can’t miss that,” Carson added.
I watched as each of them tried to talk me out of doing something stupid. It was almost comical that they thought I’d do anything other than what I wanted in the end.
Ford leaned in and whispered, “Don’t even think about it sneaking out. They’re right, and you know it.”
In the end, it made sense, I guess. Going in as a group, no matter how smart, loyal, and fierce they may be, might get us all in trouble. Going in alone would expedite the process and be a ton stealthier, just maybe not tonight with so many eyes on me.
“Fine,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest.
“Fine?” Ford asked. “That isn’t a fine like… hey, I’ll just wait until you fall asleep and then go by yourself, is it?”
“Or maybe it’s a fine like…I’ll send you guys on a wild goose chase like last time,” Carson added.
“To be fair, she didn’t have a say-so in that one,” Sam added.
“Thank you.” I smiled at him. I held up my fingers like a scout. “I promise not to go traipsing off tonight in search of dead bodies.”
They all were watching me as if looking for a sign I was lying. They were smart like that.
I crossed the room to where my keys were resting on the kitchen bar and grabbed them. I tossed them to Carson across the room. “There. You can keep my keys.”
“What’s to stop you from stealing Ford’s?” he asked.
I sighed, resting my hands on my hips. “I promise on Gigi’s life that I will not leave this house tonight of my own accord.”
They didn’t look convinced, so I held out my wrist. “You can cuff me if you want.”
“I taught her how to get out of those,” Ford said.
I glanced up at him with a smirk. “You aren’t helping.” I turned back to the others. “You guys can stay and guard the exits. Would that convince you that I have no intention of leaving tonight?”
“Yes,” they all three said in unison.
Something told me that I wouldn’t have to go far to find trouble. I could feel the trouble swirling nearby, like the goosebumps on my skin when Dorothy’s apparition appeared across the room.
Maybe I wouldn’t have to check out all those circles. Maybe she’d point me to the right one. No sooner had the thought entered my mind than the ghost vanished.
Or maybe not.
Sebastian sat in the shadows of his car down the road from her house. The lights were on inside. She was home. Her curtains were sheer, and her blinds were only marginally closed. Being this close stirred excitement in his groin. Almost as much as it had when tracking Dorothy through the woods. Dorothy had been almost too easy. Like a wounded deer.
This game promised an even better prize. The woman inside had fire in her eyes when she’d approached him. She might as well have been begging him for the chase to match wits.
Three cars were parked in her driveway, but none that the DMV had on file. His gaze landed on the garage door. It wouldn’t be difficult to find a way in when she was alone. He’d had to do it before when Dorothy had run screaming from him and locked her bedroom door. She’d learned her lesson about telling him no. Would Lucy have to be taught the same way?
Finding her address hadn’t taken much. A simple call to a man who’d owed him a favor.
He should have hired someone to watch her from afar. Sitting on her street wasn’t smart. No matter how it turned him on. She was within reach even if she had other men around her. They wouldn’t be able to keep her safe.
Sebastian was about to put the car into drive when he spotted her. She was standing in the light what looked to be her kitchen window. She had a cup of coffee in her hands as she stared out to the street beyond. She sipped while searching the darkness. Did she realize that he was near?
One of the men stepped up behind her. He took the coffee from her hands and turned her around to face him. He cupped her cheek and kissed her with a gentleness that was as foreign to Sebastian as the thought of anyone finding out his secret.
“Well, now. This simply won’t do,” Sebastian whispered into the darkness. He grabbed his camera from the passenger seat and zoomed in, taking a picture of the embrace through the window. He snapped more of the property and the cars in her driveway.
Time was on his side. He never went in half-cocked, and he wasn’t about to now. He smiled. Soon he’d get to know all the players. Each one he’d cut down until only two were left standing.
He tossed the camera into the passenger seat and put the car into drive. He drove by the house without a second thought. His mind was too busy racing with the ways he was going to get her to play his twisted games.
Twenty minutes later, he pulled up in front of his house and grabbed the camera. He walked into his office and booted his computer, sticking in the camera’s memory chip. The pictures of Lucy flashed on the screen. He scrolled through each, stopping on his favorite. He printed that one off.
Grabbing the fresh picture, he jogged into the kitchen and down the secret staircase into the cellar. Bypassing the wine racks, he walked with purposeful strides to where the cellar’s stone walls darkened. He paused with a hand on the familiar worn stone. Its smooth surface was cold and intimate to his touch. He pushed, and with a click, the secret door silently slid open.
Sebastian stepped into the sterile space. His gaze slid over the woman in the cage. Her mouth was gagged. Her ratted hair was hiding half of her tear-stained face.
Her coffee shop apron was dirty and torn. Her eyes widened with fear.
“It’s not your time yet,” he said, crossing the room. He added Lucy Bray’s face to the sea of others on his wall. Only time would tell if she was strong enough to endure the pain. Pain he was ready to give her.
His body tightened again as he slowly spun the chair around and away from his beautiful wall. His gaze landed on the barista again.
He tilted his head. The need to hurt her settled beneath his skin like a warm blanket. He grabbed the knife from the table and met the woman’s gaze. “I lied. We’re going to play a little game.”
He grinned and crossed the room, grabbing a white dress from the hanger, along with the matching scarf, before he unlocked the cell door. He stepped inside and ran his hand down her face. She flinched and tried to pull away. There was nowhere for her to go. Her hands were cuffed. She was at his mercy, and it was time he reminded her what happened to girls that only wanted to use him and then tell him no.