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A  QUAINTE  PLACE
FOR  MURDER


CHAPTER  10




November 4th

"I don't believe this! He's left the area?" the Captain exclaimed, throwing the file down on his desk. He was still irritated from fending off the media mob, stationed at both entrances to the building, wanting more information on the latest murder by a copycat killer.

"Linsley must have panicked and driven to Braxton right after he killed the girl. We found his car at the airport, and he probably caught a plane out under an assumed name since the airline doesn't have a record of him," Ray said.

"That's what he wants us to think," Sam remarked, remembering how slick the man could be.

"That's possible," Carl agreed. "He can't leave the U.S., since we found his passport in his house, and it looks like he didn't even pack a bag."

"Well, I hope to hell you have the place staked out!"said the Captain, glaring at Carl.

"Captain, I did my best, but we're so short of help," Carl said defensively.

"I've notified all law enforcement nationwide," Charlie remarked. "Linsley likes the good life too much. He's bound to make a mistake, use a credit card or something."

"I haven't got time to wait for a mistake! Goddamn it, we have less than five days left before the other wacko is supposed to strike again. I would like to have at least one killer in custody by then," the Captain said wearily, rubbing his burning eyes with a thumb and forefinger. Too many sleepless nights these past few months, for everyone in the department, and even less since the last killing. When will this end?

A quick tap and the door opened slightly. Officer Hadley poked his head in wearing an apologetic look.

"Sorry, Captain, but the Mayor is here to see you, and . . . uh . . . he brought a few council members."

With a groan, the Captain nodded and waved the men out of his office. The four detectives quickly obeyed, not wanting to be there when the Mayor arrived.

Carl and Ray made a fast exit to follow up on some leads, while Charlie followed Sam to his desk to see if he wanted to get something to eat before leaving. Their shift had extended a few more hours for the meeting with the Captain. When he looked down at the top of Sam's desk, his eyes widened in surprise.

"Jesus, Sam, are you crazy?" he hissed, pointing at a newspaper folded to display an article of the civic leaders commenting on the latest events. Every photo in the article was defaced with Sam's doodling of added mustaches and goatees. Some even had horns sprouting from their well-groomed hair.

"Hell, I'm so tired, I wasn't aware it was there when he called us in," Sam shrugged, throwing the paper into the wastebasket under his desk. As far as he was concerned, the civic leaders had let the department down by not extending the budget to hire more help, then had the nerve to complain that the police were slow in cleaning up crime in the town.

"Let's get out of here before the Mayor decides to make a speech to the department," Charlie said, nudging Sam with his elbow.

When they reached the back exit leading to the parking lot, they came to an abrupt halt. Outside a swarm of reporters were lounging, waiting to pounce on anyone coming through the door.

"You know, Sam, I can honestly feel sorry for the celebrities that have to go through this day after day without any rest. I would go nuts having flashbulbs constantly going off and being spied on like this all the time," Charlie said, awed at the spectacle. Every week the media multiplied, adding more coverage from the national news organizations that had flocked to Quainte.

Sam looked across the lot toward his car to get a fix on how fast he could make it without a lot of harassment. His pulse quickened when he saw Kelly sitting on the hood of his car, nonchalantly filing her nails. She wore a tunic sweater in a russet shade, tan slacks, and a pair of clogs in the same color as the sweater. He stared for a minute, thinking how great she looked as decoration on his Porsche. Suddenly an idea began to form.

"Charlie, forget about eating. Remember when I said Linsley was making a play for our reporter friend?" Sam said, nodding his head toward his car and Kelly.

"Hey! She's making certain she won't miss you," Charlie laughed.

"Yeah, annoying, isn't it? But that's beside the point I'm getting at. I know Linsley, and he doesn't give up when he's trying to make a conquest. I'd bet anything that in his mind, the sonofabitch is blaming Kelly for the mix-up when he killed that girl, and he will want to even the score by making an assault on her," Sam suggested. The more he thought about it, the more he felt certain he was right.

"Well, that's probably true from what I've seen of Linsley's tactics toward females, but we don't know where he's hiding and this gal is always on the go at her job. So what do you suggest?" Charlie asked.

"I'm going to set a trap to catch Linsley, and . . . " Sam looked again in Kelly's direction, "she's the bait."

"Oh no, Sam! You can't do that, it's too risky. Besides, you're in enough trouble over that dame," Charlie said frowning at Sam.

"But if I get him, all will be forgiven . . . trust me!" Sam answered. With a friendly slap to Charlie's shoulder, he added, "If the Captain asks where I am, tell him I'm on a stakeout."

Before Charlie could answer, Sam vaulted out the door, catching the media off guard, and rushed to his car.

Kelly hopped down from his car and fumbled for her mike when she saw Sam running toward her. Before she had time, he was upon her, grabbing her arm and opening the passengers' door.

"Quick get in!" Sam ordered, giving her a shove onto the car seat, then hurrying to the driver's side. Startled by the command, Kelly obeyed.

As he started the car, they could hear the shouts from the other reporters, and cameras began to flash. Sam lowered his window when he saw Jay, Kelly's assistant, with his camcorder.

"Can he hear what I'm saying without your mike?" he asked.

"If he doesn't, all those others will!" Kelly answered, still shaken from his action, looking around at the reporters extending mikes toward the car, barraging him with questions.

"Sorry, I'm off duty until tonight, but the Captain and the Mayor are inside and will probably make a statement later," Sam shouted to the mikes.

When he saw Jay focus in for a close-up, Sam grinned into the lens, then pulled Kelly into his arms and kissed her. Quickly he let her go and put the car in gear, pulling away from the crowd, gaining speed as he sped out of the parking lot.

"Are you crazy?" Kelly asked when she could think straight after that kiss. For being a spur-of-the-moment, thoughtless act, she could still feel the electrical spark tingling from their lips touching, and wondered if he had felt it too.

"Yeah, you might say that," he answered. Concentrating on driving, Sam didn't look at her, but he could still feel the odd sensation that went through him from that kiss.

"Where are we going? Are you dropping me off at the restaurant again? I apologize if you're mad because I sat on the car. I just wanted to be sure to get a word from you for the evening news. Are the Captain and Mayor really going to give a statement today?" Kelly asked, knowing she was rattling on out of nervousness. When he didn't answer, she looked over at his grim expression. What's he up to? Why the kiss for the cameras?

"Was there a purpose to that scene you staged back there?" Kelly asked in a more positive tone. Now she was beginning to get angry at his high-handed action.

"There was a very good reason. It's sure to be aired on the news," Sam answered tersely, thinking how upset the Captain would be when he saw it. No doubt he'd hear from her boss again.

"You want it to be on television?" she asked in disbelief.

"I'm trying to catch a killer . . . and you seem to be the only thing that will lure him out in the open."

"Whaaat! You're using me to catch him? You've got your nerve not, even asking what I have to say about this!" she sputtered, flabbergasted at the idea. This was not at all what she had expected him to say. "How could you do such a thing?"

"Believe me, I wouldn't do this if I thought you'd be in danger. To tell the truth, I'm protecting you because Linsley will be looking for you, and it's better I'm with you when he shows up," he answered, still not looking at her. He felt guilty at what he'd done, but didn't want her to know. He tried to assure himself this was the only way to catch Linsley.

"Show up? Why would he do that? I don't even like him, and he knows it." Laughing at the idea, she added, "It would be senseless, with an arrest warrant for murder, to stick around hoping to ask me for a date!" .

"Kelly, it's not a date he wants. He thought the girl he killed was you. She looked like you . . . hair color, shape, and with the mask . . . well, it was an easy mistake to assume it was you," Sam sighed, hating to give her the facts, but she should know for her own good.

"Ohh . . . my . . . God!" she gasped, covering her mouth with a trembling hand.

Sam glanced at her in concern. The color had drained from her face.

"Are you going to faint on me?" he asked, alarmed.

Kelly numbly shook her head, but didn't answer. She couldn't. Her mind was reeling at the thought that the girl she had found in a pool of blood was meant to be her. The vision of the bright yellow and red colors she had first noticed flashed through her mind, and she shuddered.

They drove along in silence the rest of the way until Sam made the turn on Stoney Point Road. He had taken a circular route to his home to make sure he wasn't followed.

"Where's your car?" he said.

"Parked at the Channel 12 lot in Braxton," she murmured, still overwhelmed at this turn of events.

"Good. We'll pick it up when it gets dark. Relax, we're almost to my place, then I'll explain everything. Okay?" Sam answered gently. He finally looked at her and smiled. Her eyes were still wide with confusion, making Sam feel like a heel for being so rough with her.

"Your place? What for? I can't just take off like this! No one knows where I am. You left Jay back there, without a word of where we're going. What will he think?" Kelly asked in a strained voice, not knowing what to do next. All she could think of was yellow and red colors, while her mind kept repeating Sam's comment . . .  he thought the girl he killed was you.

"We're going to my place because it's safe. Just think of this as part of your work assignment. You'll get an exclusive. Your ratings will go up. Isn't that what you want? Isn't that why you're at every crime scene shoving that mike in my face?" Sam teased, trying to get a rise out of her to erase some of the anxiety, and get some color back into that beautiful face.

Kelly stared at him a moment, letting his words sink in. The color returned as her blood heated with anger.

"No, I don't give a damn about an exclusive! Did I ever tell you, I didn't want to be a reporter? That I applied for a job in their office, and instead, they send me out in front of a camera with a microphone. Now I end up here . . . with you, and a killer after me," she said bitterly. The more she thought about it, the angrier she got at how that job interview had led to someone killing another by mistake.

Sam was glad she had come around, but surprised to learn she had no interest in being a reporter. For some reason, he felt relieved at those words, as he pulled into his driveway. He continued up the drive, passing his house, then over a cemented area at the rear. He parked the car behind a row of tall lilac bushes that surrounded his patio, out of sight, in case anyone drove by the house.

They entered through the kitchen door in the back, and Sam reset the security system before leading Kelly into an area blocked from any outside view. After getting her settled in a chair, he handed her a glass of brandy to steady her nerves. Gratefully, she sipped it while she thought about her situation.

Watching her, Sam decided to use another tactic to enlist her help in getting Linsley. He still hadn't worked out his plan. So far, he'd been taking it one step at a time.

"Okay, so you don't want an exclusive, but it isn't every day you get a chance to catch a killer. Don't you want to see him punished for his crime? Who knows, maybe this isn't the first time he's done something like this?" Sam suggested.

"Do you think he's done this before?" Kelly asked, wide-eyed at the thought.

"Actually, I don't, but I do know that he doesn't like to take no for an answer when he makes a play for a woman. Linsley's been questioned on assault and battery charges a few times. Unfortunately, when it came time to prosecute, the women wouldn't cooperate, so he's never been arrested," Sam said grimly.

"I remember how he acted when I didn't accept his attention," Kelly said with a shudder.

Sam leaned forward eagerly, "Then you'll help me?"

"I...I'm not sure. I think I need time. This has all been a sudden shock, and I don't know if I can handle it," Kelly said, taking another sip of brandy. "Maybe I should call my boss, but first I'd like to use the . . . uh . . . your facilities."

"Of course, the first door down the hallway," Sam answered, trying not to show his disappointment. He didn't have the time to give her to make a decision. Well, he thought, I'll have to do it the hard way and risk her anger.

While she was gone, he checked her purse for a cellular phone or beeper. He didn't want her calling anyone. Finding a beeper, he removed it. Opening a drawer in a cabinet, he hid the beeper and picked up a set of handcuffs.
 

When Kelly stepped out of the bathroom, Sam grabbed her left arm and quickly snapped on one of the cuffs.

"Hey! What the hell do you think you're doing!" she cried as she tried to pull back.

"I'm sorry, but I need to catch him. You won't help voluntarily, so I'm enlisting you," Sam said, ignoring the pounding on his chest with her other hand. He reached down to slip an arm behind her knees, lifted her up, and carried her kicking into one of his guest bedrooms, where he dumped her onto one of the twin beds. Trying not to smile at her creatively abusive language, he fastened the other cuff to the headboard post.

Sam was relieved the curtains, already pulled to shut out the sunlight, would protect them from being seen from the outside. Also, this room was over a steep slope, where it would be hard to get near enough to hear voices inside. Leaving Kelly complaining of her discomfort, Sam went to the small refrigerator in his study and grabbed a bottle of spring water, along with a couple of granola bars. He picked up a handful of magazines on his way back to the bedroom and put the items on the night stand next to her.

"Here, keep yourself occupied for a while. I haven't slept more than six hours in the last 48 and I need a few hours' rest to be alert for this evening," Sam said. He walked to the dresser to set the alarm, then returned to stretch out on the other twin bed.

"You're taking a  nap?" she sputtered indignantly.

"Yes, you might do the same. It's liable to be a long night. And I'd appreciate your not making so much noise while I'm sleeping," Sam said, turning his back to her so she wouldn't detect the guilt he was feeling. His eyes, heavy from lack of sleep, began to close, and Sam had one last thought before dozing off. She has every right to sue me when this is all over.


The Captain stared at Charlie, dumbfounded.

"He said he was on a stakeout? Where? How long?" he asked, glancing at his watch. It was 5:30 and Sam should have been home sleeping, but no one had been able to reach him all day.

Carl and Ray shifted uneasily, waiting to hear what Charlie had to say. They hadn't had time to talk to him before the Captain called them in, but judging from the worried look on Charlie's face, it wasn't good news.

"It looks like Sam's in deep shit," Ray whispered, leaning close to Carl's ear, which got him an elbow in the ribs and a glare from his partner.

"I guess if you watch the six o'clock news, it might make more sense," Charlie mumbled, knowing that every camera had recorded Sam hauling off the reporter.

"Wait, don't tell me. Our Channel 12 girl again," the Captain said frowning. "That's why Blaney has tried to get hold of me today. It has to do with Sam, and I thought he was just trying to get an interview!"

"I think I better explain," Charlie said.

"That would be nice, Detective. I hate to be the last one to know what's going on in my own precinct!"

"Well, Sam sort of . . . uh . . . had the idea that Linsley would contact this reporter, seeing as how he killed that girl by mistake. So, Sam wanted to set a trap using this reporter as . . . uh . . . " Charlie left the last word unsaid, as the Captain's jaw dropped and his eyes widened in shock.


Sam looked down at the sleeping Kelly. One arm above her cuffed to the bed, while the other was thrown over her eyes. When he had awakened, he was surprised that she had gone to sleep. He was expecting to wake to a tirade of verbal abuse, but apparently she was worn out from the day's events, and the brandy had relaxed her.

Taking the opportunity while she slept, Sam showered and changed clothes. Finally he went to his answering machine and played back the messages on it. Charlie had called a few times, but most were from Ben, telling him the Captain was having another meeting at five this afternoon. The machine cut off in the middle of another message.

"Damn machine. I just changed the tape yesterday. I guess it's time to invest in a new recorder," he grumbled, rewinding the tape.

It was after five now so they'd be calling again, especially after the six o'clock news, Sam thought wryly.

"Time to wake sleeping beauty," he muttered, heading for the kitchen to pour two cups of coffee. He carried them into the bedroom and sat on the bed next to her, putting the cups on the night stand.

Sam savored the moment of her peaceful look, before he had to face her outrage for handcuffing her to the bed. Quietly he reached up and unlocked the cuff, then gently removed her wrist from the confinement. When he saw the red mark where she had pulled against it, he felt a pang of remorse for his heavy-handed method, and unconsciously began to massage it.

Kelly winced, and slowly opened her eyes. At first she was disoriented, and stared into Sam's green eyes watching her anxiously. Slowly, her mind cleared, and she glanced up at the dangling empty cuffs, then back to the hand he was holding.

"Get away from me!" she snapped, jerking her hand free from his. She moved to a sitting position on the edge of the bed.

"Well, so much for a peaceful evening!" he muttered. "I brought you some coffee. We have a lot to do tonight, so pull yourself together. First of all, the six o'clock news will be on in a few minutes, and I'm sure you wouldn't want to miss this one."

Sam picked up the remote from the top of the television set, and pressed the power button.

Kelly picked up the coffee cup and looked around the room, trying to make sense of this whole situation. When she first awoke and looked into his eyes, it reminded her of a couple of dreams she'd had of him in the last few months. She blushed, thinking of what a fool she could have made of herself if she had reached up to pull him closer. Luckily, she remembered where she was in time. While he was asleep, she had thought about his wanting her help to catch Peter Linsley, and decided that she would do it, mainly to seek revenge for that poor woman he had murdered.

Sam sat on the other bed with the pillows propped behind him and sipped his coffee, while he clicked the remote to Channel 12.

As soon as the graphic of the news logo disappeared, the screen was filled with the video portion of Sam and Kelly, beginning at the point he shoved her into his car, and continuing until he pulled out of the parking lot, with the news commentator's voice in the background.

"The recent murder investigation in Quainte has taken on a new twist. This morning, Detective Sam Knight, one of the lead detectives in the investigation, drove off with our reporter, Kelly Daye. Most of you will recall that these two have been constantly at odds at most of our crime scene reports by Ms. Daye, but, as you can see . . ." the shot of Sam kissing Kelly was replayed,  " . . . it looks as if they have called a truce. Since neither has been in touch with their employers, we can only surmise they've gone off together for other reasons than the present investigation." The picture switched to the newsroom again, and continued with other local and world news.

"Hot Damn! That's great," Sam said jubilantly.

Kelly had groaned and covered her face in mortification at the news commentator's suggestive remark, but at Sam's outburst, she almost threw the coffee cup at him.

"Great? What's great? You made fools out of us!" Kelly said sullenly.

"No, no, Ms. Daye. Our Mr. Linsley will see this and come unglued!" Sam laughed. "As much as he hates me, and has messed up where you're concerned, this is bound to bring him out."

Still smiling, Sam got off the bed and reached for Kelly's hands, pulling her to her feet. With his hands still holding hers, he moved them up until they encircled his neck.

"How about we do as the man said . . . call a truce," he coaxed. When she smiled back, he took her in his arms and lowered his mouth to hers. His hands slowly traveled down her arms, over her back and came to rest on her hips, pulling her closer. When he felt her relax and become more pliable, he moved his head away enough to whisper against her ear.

"So, you'll help me?" Sam asked. When she nodded in agreement, he returned to the pleasure of kissing her.

The spell was broken at the loud sound of the door buzzer, followed immediately by the ringing of the telephone.

Sighing, Sam rested his forehead against hers for a moment, waiting for the front door bell to fall silent, then listened as the sound of footsteps faded away. They were not so fortunate with the telephone. The answering machine picked up the call, and he could hear the Captain bellowing that he was fired if he didn't answer this call immediately.

"Well, hell," Sam muttered, releasing Kelly. He abruptly walked away from her to return the Captain's call.

Kelly stood for a moment, her emotions in a turmoil after the kiss. She felt as if she should have fought him off for keeping her a prisoner these last few hours, but she also was frustrated at the kiss ending so abruptly.

Running a hand through her tangled hair, she slipped on her clogs and followed the direction of Sam's voice speaking into the phone, halting her steps as his voice became clearer.

"I know what it looked like, Captain, but you know me. You think I'm crazy enough to do a dumb thing like that if I didn't have a purpose? I know what I'm doing. Believe me, it'll work out O.K.. . . . yes, of course . . . I understand, don't worry, she's agreed to help . . . well, it wasn't easy, it took some persuading . . . "

His words scorched her. All the dreamy thoughts of that kiss evaporated, hearing it was nothing but cold, calculating persuasion to keep her in line while he set the bait for a killer. Feeling the blood inside beginning to burn, and her jaw clenched in anger, Kelly could think of nothing else except getting as far away from this man as possible. She hurried down the hallway, grabbed her purse, and headed for the front door.

"I promise, Captain, I will call you as soon as I've made contact with Linsley," Sam assured him.

Suddenly the alarm system activated, alerting him. Dropping the phone, Sam ran to the living room.  He saw the door standing wide open, nothing but blackness beyond. Checking the guest room, he realized it was Kelly who had activated the alarm and was now in danger, somewhere on the dark Stoney Point Road alone.
 
 

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