A QUAINTE PLACE
Kelly awoke from a restless sleep and squinted at her watch in the dim light coming from the street light outside the inn window. It was only a few minutes after one in the morning. She had fallen asleep from exhaustion soon after checking into the room. Luckily, she had found the hiking trail in the dark when she crossed Stoney Point Road not far from Sam's home. Half blinded by angry tears, she stumbled down the steep grade, feeling her way in the blackness. The two-inch heels on her clogs were not made for this ordeal and hindered her progress, eventually causing a wrenched ankle in a mishap.
At the bottom of the trail, Kelly spotted the colorful sign of the Seaside Station outlined in tiny lights, and sighed with relief. In her weary state, the modest inn looked like an oasis sitting at the edge of the sandy beach.
Kelly's intention of reaching her house dissolved, deciding it would be best to stop and rest her ankle. It was the logical thing to do, she concluded, especially when the detective would probably be sitting in his car at her place when she arrived there, and he was the last person she wanted to see for a long time.
Brushing the dirt from her clothes and smoothing her hair, Kelly entered the lobby. To eliminate any possible chance of being found in case he searched for her, she registered under her maiden name and paid cash. Disheveled and without makeup, Kelly was certain no one would recognize her as the fashionable television reporter.
She had taken a shower and some aspirin for the pain in her ankle, hoping it would be better by morning, but now, as she lay awake, she could feel a sharp twinge when she moved her foot. Kelly was glad she had made a call from the lobby since there wasn't a phone in the room. Luckily, the newsroom answering service picked up the call, so she didn't have to talk to Blaney. She left a message she wouldn't be in. Still mortified over the events of that episode with Detective Knight, she doubted she would ever want to return to work.
"Damn that man! This is all his fault," she grumbled. "That arrogant, conniving . . . ," Kelly winced again when she inadvertently kicked out her foot in anger. Exasperated, she tossed back the covers and gingerly stood up.
"If he hadn't abducted me, this wouldn't have happened!"Kelly muttered, hobbling to the bathroom for another dose of aspirin.
Sam drummed his fingers on the desk and glanced at his watch for the tenth time in the last minute. It was still fifteen minutes past one in the morning.
He had searched the area surrounding his home first, not believing she would have tried walking in the dark down Stoney Point Road, but after a thorough search he drove his car to Kelly's place. Assured by her nosy neighbor that she had not been there all evening, Sam's emotions wavered between relief that the man kept an eye on her, and anger at his spying. For now, he was thankful at least of that one bit of information on Kelly.
San had dreaded notifying the Captain of the situation, but couldn't avoid it after dropping the phone when the security alarm went off. After listening to a blistering rebuke, Sam convinced the Captain to refrain from notifying anyone that she was missing. He was still hoping he would find her before Linsley.
Sam looked up at the young officer in surprise. He was so deep in thought he didn't hear him approach the desk.
"Found this on your windshield when I pulled into the lot. My headlights caught it as I was parking," Officer Tremwell said, handing the envelope to Sam.
Sam stared at it. He was not ready to deal with another notice of a murder victim.
"Are you okay?" Tremwell asked.
"Yeah, sure. Thanks for bringing this to my attention," Sam answered, dismissing Tremwell with a wave of his hand, as he pressed the intercom to have Ben page Charlie.
Taking a deep breath to calm his nerves, Sam opened the envelope
and retrieved the note.
A copycat will ruin my plan
So Jack will help you find your man.
Check the girl reporter's house
There he's hiding like a mouse.
Oh yes . . . the reporter's location.
Try the Inn called "Seaside Station"
"Sonofabitch!" Sam growled.
"Hey! What's up?" Charlie asked, walking through the door. Then he noticed the note in Sam's hand. "Oh shit, another one!"
"No, not another victim, just his way of making me look like an ass," Sam said tossing the note across the desk to Charlie.
After reading it, Charlie laid the note down.
"That's not all. As the man said in his note, he doesn't want his plan ruined. Which means he's keeping to a schedule . . . probably that November 9th date Ray mentioned. He may make an ass of you, but at least he's helping us catch Linsley."
"Yeah, I guess I should be grateful, but how in the hell did he find Kelly so quickly when I've been out combing the area all evening?" Sam said, angry that he had wasted all night looking for her while she'd been at a comfortable inn, sleeping.
"Yeah, his knowing their location at this very moment is mighty scary when you think about it. Apparently this guy has some kind of inside track," Charlie pondered.
"Right, and I'd like to know how he gets around so easily when we have his picture plastered all over the place," Sam said, frowning at one of the flyers of their killer lying on his desk.
"But for now, let's get Linsley first," he continued, picking up the note and his keys. "Then I'm going to settle with our reporter. She screwed up my trap for snaring him. If she had cooperated, we would have Linsley by now, and without our killer's help!"
As Charlie followed him out the door, he said, "Lucky she didn't go straight home."
Sam inwardly thanked God she hadn't. The last few moments he had been angry at the trouble she caused, but now he shuddered to think of what could have happened if she had gone home. He picked up his pace, anxious to get Linsley safely put away.
The two patrol officers blocked Kelly's street with their cars, just out of sight-range from her windows, while Sam and Charlie cautiously went up the walk to Kelly's house.
The fence and shrubs blocked the one side nearest her neighbor, preventing entrance along that side, so it was decided Charlie would watch the front of the house while Sam crept around the side by the driveway and entered through the back door.
Halfway down the drive, Sam spotted the window screen propped against the house behind a shrub. The window was closed, but he could see the latch had been jimmied. Sam ducked below it and furtively continued to the rear of the house. His eyes accustomed to the darkness, he could see a cement slab patio, with lawn furniture and potted plants decorating its surface. A sliding door seemed to be the only entrance to the back of the house.
Carefully avoiding the furniture, Sam made his way toward the door. He noticed it was the old type of slider that could easily be opened, and inwardly cursed Kelly for not taking proper precautions with her security. She should have had safety locks installed. He made a mental note to help her with this later.
With his back to the wall beside the door and his gun accessible, Sam leaned forward and scanned the inside for movement. A faint glow coming from a room down the hall cast enough light on the area to assure him of safe access. Taking his pocket knife, he slipped the latch free and slowly slid the door open enough to enter.
Quietly Sam checked each room as he proceeded toward the light. Holding his gun with both hands, he took a steadying breath and peeked into the open doorway of the dimly lit bedroom. Stepping inside, he stared at Linsley, sprawled out on the bed, asleep in a drunken stupor. An empty bottle of scotch lay next to the bed with the remnants it contained soaked into the carpet. The whole room reeked of the smell of liquor.
Sam's first thought was to kick his ass off the bed; then, remembering his promise to the Captain, he stifled his anger. He tipped-toed to the front door and quietly opened it for Charlie with a cautioning finger to his lips to be quiet.
Together they went back to the room. Charlie stopped short and shook his head in disgust. Sam motioned to Charlie to go to the other side of the bed.
When Sam pressed his gun against Linsley's forehead and called his name, he barely got a rise out of him. With an exasperated curse, Sam moved his gun away and gave him a couple of sharp slaps.
"What the . . . " Linsley mumbled. He slowly opened his blurry eyes, and they widened in surprise as he focused on Sam's gun. Linsley glanced over at Charlie, then back at Sam, then closed his eyes again.
"Go ahead . . . shoot me," he sighed.
"Don't tempt me," Sam snapped.
"You might as well do it, Sam. They've got the death penalty here, and I'm gonna die anyhow," Linsley said, choking on a sob.
"Right. Perfect justice for the girl's death," Sam sneered.
"I didn't mean to kill that girl . . . I was drunk, and . . . and I don't know what came over me. She had kept the mask on while we made love on the beach, and then when I lifted her mask and it wasn't Kelly, I guess I went crazy with hate at her deception. She laughed at me. I just started hitting her, and then . . . Oh God, it was the drinking, Sam," he pleaded.
"And you're still drunk, waiting in Kelly's house for her. What did you intend to do? Kill her too? I knew you had a cruel streak but I never thought you'd resort to murder. Was that girl the first or were there others?" Sam asked angrily.
"She was the first . . . and then I guess I panicked . . . tried to make it look like the other victims. I was sick . . . so sick when I saw all that blood and realized what I did. I don't know, I just don't know what's the matter with me lately," he said shaking his head, then with a baleful look, "It was Kelly's fault, she should have been there instead of the other one. I came here to tell her that, too . . . then when I saw you and her on TV . . . I was ready to kill again right then and there."
"You were watching it here . . . on her TV?"
Linsley nodded sullenly. Sam was relieved he had found him before Kelly did.
"Come on, get up," he said, reaching for his handcuffs.
Linsley shook his head and started to sob again as he put his hand over his eyes.
"Get your ass up, Linsley," Charlie said, reaching down to pull him up.
"Okay . . . okay," he said wearily, wiping his eyes. Sitting up, he looked around him. "Where's my bottle? I put it on that table."
"Forget it! Christ, Linsley, you're in such deep shit, you'll never get out," Charlie said. Looking at Sam he added, "I really think he's snapped."
Sam nodded, all anger drained as he stared at the pathetic drunk he remembered as so handsome and lively years ago.
Kelly woke with a start at the loud knocking on the door. Pulling herself to an upright position, she yelled, "Just a minute!"
When the sharp pain reminded her of the ankle, she gingerly got to her feet, wrapped the sheet around her, and limped to the door.
"Who is it?" Kelly called as she stood by the door.
"Hey girl, it's me, Jay," he answered in a soft voice.
Kelly opened the door a few inches. Still standing behind it, she leaned forward to peer at her assistant in the lighted hallway.
"What . . . how did you . . . ?" She stammered in surprise at his appearance in the middle of the night. The door across the hall opened and then closed again with a thud. The knock must have awakened everyone on this floor.
"You left a message at the station where you were. Come on . . . get up. We got work to do . . . big news," he whispered with a grin, then added, "At your house too! Boy! What excitement. Hurry up. I'll wait in the van."
"Wait! What are you talking about? My house?"
"Yeah. They got the killer of the last victim. Come on . . . let's go!" he said, and turned to leave.
"My house?" Kelly said, stunned, as she watched him leave. She quickly turned and limped back to pull on her clothes.
Within ten minutes, Kelly was hobbling out to the van parked at the front door of the inn. Jay had the motor running, and no sooner had she settled in the passenger seat he sped away.
"I think you should comb your hair . . . and wasn't that the same thing you had on yesterday? It won't do to be seen twice in the same outfit on camera," Jay said, with a quick glance in her direction.
"Forget about what I'm wearing. When I get home, I can change. Now . . . explain what you said upstairs. The killer, that fireman, Peter Linsley, was at my house and you said he's been captured? Good God! I'm glad I didn't return home last night!" she exclaimed, and rummaged in her purse for a brush.
The detective was right, he was waiting for her, she thought with a shudder. Then, remembering the previous day and his plans, she grew furious. If it wasn't for that, Linsley would never have gone to her place! He had deliberately put her in danger.
Jay parked alongside a patrol car, then grabbed his camcorder as Kelly hurried toward her house. The detectives were just coming out the door, leading the handcuffed prisoner.
Seeing all these men exiting her home, knowing they had intruded into her private domain, Kelly's anger at them, and at the man who had given her so much trouble yesterday, was about to explode.
"I see that your stellar performance in the parking lot yesterday has paid off, Detective Knight. Did it not occur to you that you had endangered my life? That I might have been murdered because of your reckless disregard in order to entrap a killer?" Kelly shouted angrily.
Sam stopped and glared when he heard the snicker from the cameraman.
"Well, Ms. Daye, my performance as you call it, was wasted. You see, Ms. Daye, this killer happened to have been at your house before the time it was aired. This killer, Ms. Daye, was watching that affectionate charade on YOUR TV from YOUR couch in YOUR home. Therefore, your life was ALREADY in danger. Now if you'll excuse me, I will remove the prisoner, and you, Ms. Daye, may speak to Detective Brandon. He will write up the report on the break-in," Sam said, pushing his way through the crowd that had gathered as he hurried to the nearest patrol car.
Kelly stood with her hands on her hips and glared at Sam's back, while her emotions alternated between humiliation and outrage. She glanced at Jay, with his camera focused on her.
"Turn that off!" she screamed, and started to stomp her foot, until a sharp pain reminded her of the ankle injury.
Kelly muttered a string of expletives as she climbed the steps to
the porch where Charlie stood with a grin, that spread from ear to ear,
as he watched her progress.
* * * *
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