Tall, Dark and Deadly Chapter One

 

Chapter One

“Copy that.” Lieutenant Grace Jordan held the two way radio to her lips while resting her elbow on the roof of her squad car. She lowered her gaze so she could concentrate. The longer she stared at the God-awful scene in front of her, the more her mind started fucking with her.

“There’s nothing on file,” Chrissy Briggs, the RPD dispatcher repeated.

Grace let her finger off the toggle button of the two-way microphone. The curly chord stretched to its limit where she stood next to the open driver’s side door. “I can’t believe there’s never been a rape before in Rockville, South Dakota.”

“Rockville is a small town. We might be in the Badlands, but that doesn’t mean we have a high crime rate.” Lieutenant Eugene Bosley paused at the front of her car. “All that means is that if there are any rapes, they aren’t reported.”

“Huh,” she muttered, pushing a stubborn strand of hair that wouldn’t stay with the others, behind her ear.

It was a bitch learning this antiquated system Rockville used. She knelt into her car, put the two-way back on its clip on the dash, and reached for her flashlight. Already the other officers were all over the crime scene, Grace wouldn’t let lack of technology blotch up her investigation though.

“Time to rely on old-fashioned intuition,” she ordered herself.

“Time to rely on what?” Bosley was right behind her when she straightened. His Clark Kent good looks were out of place in this morbid scene. “Stick with me. I’ll show you the ropes, sweetheart.”

“I’ve seen rape before.” She knew more about the despicable act than anyone in this town would ever know. “Have we gotten a hold of her parents yet?”

“They’re on their way now,” Bosley told her as he walked by her side over to the body lying behind the Dairy Queen.

Grace looked around the dark parking lot, and across the street at the courthouse. Amazing that someone could do something this horrendous in the middle of town and get away with it. Grace wouldn’t ever get the stomach for this—no matter how many grotesque things she’d learned humans were capable of over the years. She turned, putting her hand over her mouth and squatted in front of the young girl, lying partially naked on the asphalt.

“Looks like she was pretty,” she said, adjusting her latex gloves before reaching to move a strand of blonde hair from the victims face.

“April Monroe. Not sure of her age. Marla works over at Stop And Go. She’s locking the place up and should be here soon.” Bosley stood over her, his matter-of-fact tone so typical.

“Is she okay to drive over here?” Grace asked. She stared at the halter top strap that was pulled half way down the girl’s arm, and at her shorts, which were twisted around her ankles.

“The Stop And Go is just down the street.” Bosley patted her head. “But I think she’s got a ride bringing her.”

Grace nodded. Rockville wasn’t a big town, which was part of the appeal in accepting the position here. She would learn her way around soon enough. “Was April in high school?” She did know that there was only one grade school and one high school in Rockville.

“You think someone in one of her classes did this?” Bosley asked incredulously, like he didn’t believe it to be the case. He walked around April, standing and looking down at her and then the body on the ground. The radio beeped in the car and he walked over to answer it.

Grace trained her flashlight over April. It would be hard to speculate anything until after the autopsy. Not knowing anything about the teenage girl, other than she once was very pretty, Grace did know there wasn’t anything she could have done to deserve dying like this.

“Bruises on her right and left arms. She appears to have a fat lip, possibly a broken nose. Right eye is swollen shut,” she said to herself, making mental notes for now on April’s condition. She stood, walking towards the victim’s feet and then scanning the parking lot for shoes. “The bottom of her socks aren’t dirty. Maybe she kicked her shoes off in a struggle but he carried her.” She shot the flashlight beam around the parking lot, and then glanced towards the street when someone pulled into the lot.

Bosley got out of his car and headed towards the approaching vehicle. He spoke with the older man who got out of the car. An ambulance pulled up behind him, and then another patrol car.
Party time.

Grace glanced back at the young girl. “You shouldn’t have died like this. I’m sorry,” she whispered, guessing the amount of pain the girl possibly endured during her last few minutes of life.
The flashlight beam trained on a dark spot above the girl’s right hip bone. Grace walked around to the side of the girl and squatted once again as the others walked up to stand around her. She leaned closer, trying to determine what the circular mark was.

Her heart swelled and a painful memory constricted around it. She couldn’t be sure in the dark, and allowing her God-awful past to surface now wasn’t healthy. Grace closed her eyes, ignoring the voices around her.

Even if it were a cigar burn on April’s hip, it didn’t mean anything. The monster who tortured and abused Grace for years was dead. Dead and never coming back.

There were other monster’s on this planet. Too many, actually.
Grace stood, blowing out a breath and grabbing her wits when she focused on Bosley and the man standing next to him.

“Grace, this is Richard Starkey, our medical examiner. Grace just hired on. She’s from D.C.” Bosley rocked up on his heels, like he was proud of her or something.

Starkey nodded seriously. “A big city cop might be a good thing on the force. Would you look at this,” he said, done with introductions and all business. “What kind of jerk would do this to a child?”

“A very sick one,” Grace commented, returning her attention to April. “Looks like she was beaten pretty badly but the bottom of her socks are clean. Someone either carried her here, or was holding her and she kicked off her shoes.”

Bosley turned, walking away from them and scanning the darkness with his flashlight. Grace watched Starkey and the ambulance drivers who moved in around April. Another car tried entering the parking lot but couldn’t around the emergency vehicles. Grace guessed the mother had arrived when she heard the wails of a woman, and turned to see a lady running towards them.

“No. April! No!” The woman screamed, and then stopped when she stood close enough to see April lying on the ground. Her wails turned to broken hearted sobs as she covered her mouth with her hands. “It can’t be. It can’t be,” she murmured.

Grace didn’t know anyone in Rockville, and by their actions, Bosley and Starkey knew April’s mother. Grace knew there wasn’t anything the men could say to ease her pain though.

Grace stared at the girl on the ground, at her lifeless body. It was like she could hear her final screams, feel the girl’s willingness to do anything—absolutely anything—to make her assailant stop.
She knew that level of hopelessness, of acceptance to whatever might be done to her. And she knew the despicable taste that came with submitting to a monster and willingly doing whatever he wanted.

The dark circle on the girl’s hip leapt out at her, pulling her into it like a doorway opening to her past. She prayed the mark wasn’t what she thought it might be. There wasn’t anything that compared to being burnt with a cigar. She cringed, swearing for a moment that she smelled the burnt flesh all over again.

“Whoever did this,” Grace heard herself saying, and wondered when she’d put her hand on Marla’s shoulder. “I swear to you I’ll catch him.”

Marla’s eyes were moist and glassy when she looked at Grace.
“Will that bring back my April?” she demanded, anger and hatred making her voice tight.

“No ma’am, it won’t,” Grace conceded. She wasn’t good enough to bring back the dead. She turned when the radio chirped, leaving Bosley to ask the standard questions about April. Grace heard the answers—suspect was sixteen, supposedly babysitting, a good girl who never gave her mother any grief. She reached the patrol car and slid behind the driver’s seat to answer the radio.

“Are you ten ninety eight?” Dispatch asked.

“Negative. We’re still here on sight, ten four.” Grace let go of the button on the radio handle and stared at the many tiny holes on it as she held the receiver in her hand.

“I need you en route to ten fifteen Ash, caller reported victim attacked. It’s an eleven forty one. I’m dispatching an ambulance now,” Christy said quickly, her excited voice chirping through the small speaker. “But it sounds like two in one night,” she added.

“And you’re telling me this is the first Rockville’s ever seen of these kind of attacks?” What had she done, jinxed the town by coming here to work?

“I’ll check in to that for you, ten four,” Christy said.

“I’ll give you an ETA in a few, ten four.”

Bosley drove over to Ash street ten minutes later, leaving one officer to scope the area behind the Dairy Queen and search for any clues that would tell why April Monroe was found back there with clean socks and no shoes. Grace wrote all clues she knew in her notepad, glancing up only once or twice while Bosley hurried across town.

“Two girls attacked in one night,” Bosley said under his breath.
“This is insane. What in the hell has descended on Rockville?”

Grace glanced over to find him giving her a pointed look. She shrugged. “You tell me,” she countered, refusing to allow her imagination run out of control. Like girls being attacked had anything to do with her accepting a new position with law enforcement here in town.

Grace needed out of D.C. Too many old ghosts lingered in that town. There was no way any of them followed her here, except for the ones still stubbornly buried in her mind. Years of counseling proved to her that those memories would only hurt her if she allowed them to. Well no one, ever, would hurt her again. And as long as she was in uniform, she’d do her damndest to make sure other women didn’t suffer the same pain and humiliation that she’d been through.

Although she was off to a hell of a start in this town.

“I thought the address sounded familiar,” Bosley said when he pulled up in front of Ten Fifteen Ash. “This is the Brewster house.”

“Brewster house?” Grace asked, staring at the plain looking track home that matched the other houses on the block shy of being painted a battleship gray while the house on its left was a faded green, and the one on the right a dark blue.

“Ralph and Candy Brewster. Last I heard I think they’ve got ten kids.”

“Ten kids?” Grace couldn’t imagine it. Taking care of her daughter was more than a handful at times.

Bosley rolled his eyes and pulled to a stop, curbing it with the tires as he parked. Grace jumped out, patting her gun at her waist when she immediately heard loud voices inside. Several neighbors stood out in their yard down the street, looking on curiously. They turned away, making a show of talking to each other, when Grace glanced their way.

“Police!” Bosley announced, reaching around Grace to rap on the screen door.

The front door was open and Grace looked inside at a group of people, all talking loudly. She’d be surprised if any of them heard Bosley.

“Get your ass upstairs and clean up,” an older man yelled, looking like someone out of a lumberjack magazine with his broad shoulders and thick, muscular arms. He didn’t look towards the door but instead opened a glass door to a cabinet and pulled out a rifle. “When I’m done with that son of a bitch he’ll know better than to ever lay a hand on a Brewster.”

Bosley jumped around her and pulled open the screen door. Grace followed him inside and wasn’t surprised that the group surrounding the irate man didn’t seemed surprised to see them. A couple of the taller boys, all strongly resembling the man with the rifle, gave her a curious once over. Grace wasn’t worried about them. She stared into the outraged eyes of the man she guessed might be Ralph Brewster.

“Ralph, put the gun away,” Bosley said calmly. “You know you can’t just go out shooting up a storm.”

“You see what they did to my baby girl?” Ralph didn’t put the gun away but held it with one arm, while pointing towards the dining room table with the other.

Grace spotted a young woman, maybe around twenty, sitting at the table, her face bruised and her clothes torn. Several women and girls stood behind and around her, worry and outrage lining all their faces.

Grace moved around the small crowd, guessing by how closely they all resembled each other that this was the Brewster family.
“My name is Lieutenant Jordan,” she began quietly. The women looked up at her, their expressions so similar. The young woman garnering all the attention was the only one with that haunted look—a look Grace knew all too well. “I’d like to ask you a few questions.”

“When did Rockville get a lady cop?” An older woman, who sat next to the beaten young woman, demanded, and pressed her lips into a thin line.

Grace wouldn’t get anywhere until she met with this woman’s approval. She didn’t have tons of experiences with small towns, but she understood the tight clan attitude that some families possessed. Grace relaxed her expression, remaining on the opposite side of the table from the women and doing her best to ignore Bosley and Ralph arguing behind her. The women seemed indifferent to the men as well.

“Two days ago,” she told the older woman. “But I’m not a rookie, ma’am. I worked for the Washington D.C. police department for three years prior to moving here. I’m new to Rockville, but not to dealing with monsters like who attacked your daughter. I need to ask her a few questions.”

“What’s your name?”

“Grace Jordan,” Grace told her.

The woman nodded. “Cindy Brewster. This is my second oldest, Pearl.”

“Thank you, ma’am.” Grace looked at Pearl and the women and girls surrounding her. “Is it possible to talk to Pearl alone?” she asked, returning her attention to Cindy.

“You all get on out of here,” Cindy announced, standing and clapping her hands loudly.

Pearl jumped and dropped her head into her hands when her mother started shouting orders and the girls and young women surrounding Pearl complained and protested but obeyed, disappearing into another room. Grace doubted they moved too far out of ear shot but waited until she was alone in the dining room with Pearl and her mother. Cindy obviously wasn’t going anywhere.
Grace took out her notebook and sat down in the chair at the dining room table opposite of Pearl. It was a long, slender table with twelve matching chairs around it. Although not fancy, the room was clean and the table didn’t show a speck of dirt or one crumb on it. This was a proud family, and one of their had been done wrong. Grace envied the young girl for having so much support and concern surrounding her. No one cared at all when she’d been beaten, over and over again, and raped, and humiliated. Grace didn’t have anyone. She didn’t hate Pearl for her family support, if anything she prayed it would help Pearl recover faster than Grace had.

“Pearl, I need to get a statement from you. But if you want to go to the hospital first, we can wait and talk after your examination.”

“I don’t want to go to the hospital,” Pearl said, her voice scratchy, like she’d been screaming for a long time. She dropped her voice to a whisper. “I’m not a virgin, although I sure don’t take to being fucked without giving my permission.”

“Pearl,” her mother scolded, although she patted her daughter’s arm reassuringly.

“If you change your mind, and consent to an examination, it can help us nail the guy who raped you a lot easier.”

“By matching semen?” Pearl asked, glancing furtively passed Grace towards her father and the other men who were now speaking in much quieter rumbles. “He told me there wouldn’t be a match to his…umm…semen.”

“So you talked to him?” Grace asked. “Let’s start at the beginning. Can you tell me what happened?”

“Okay.” Pearl wiped her hands over her face, smearing tears over her cheeks and then looked at Grace with blood shot, pale blue eyes. “I was loading groceries into the back of the truck and I parked over on the edge of the lot because that’s where Dad always parks,” she began, glancing at her mother who gave her another assuring pat and nodded once. Pearl swallowed and brushed stringy blonde hair behind her ear. “I had the cart at the back of the truck and he grabbed me.” Pearl dropped her head into her hands and started crying again.

Grace struggled to remember her counselor’s instruction, to not dwell on the other women caged and beaten, crying out for help. She reached across the table, focusing on Pearl and knowing that she was the victim here, not Grace. Never again would it be her. Even as the memories fought to surface, of the other women who came and left, disappeared without a trace, and the many times she’d reached out to them, touched a bruised arm, and tried assuring them that they would all find a way out of their nightmare. To the best of her knowledge, Grace was the only one who got out of that nightmare alive. Today she no longer regretted not escaping through death. Young women like Pearl needed her.

“I understand,” she whispered, knowing there was no way she could let Pearl know how much she understood. “The more you can tell me, the faster I can put the bastard behind bars.”

“I know. I know,” Pearl murmured and then sucked in a deep breath. “He grabbed me and dragged me backwards. I remember smelling leather. I think it was from his gloves. And his breath,” she added, then looked at her mom. “It smelled like Uncle Barry’s.”

“Your uncle wouldn’t lay a hand on you,” Cindy said in horror.

“No. No. The cigars. He smelled like cigars.”

“Cigars? Did you see a cigar?” Grace could see the thick, ugly looking thing coming towards her face. Its foul stench, the smoke trailing off of it while he pushed it closer into her face.

You’re nothing but a fucking slut. It’s a damned good thing I keep you around. No one else would have you.

His thick, deep, always calm baritone raked over her flesh. Today, Grace fought off the terrifying memory successfully, keeping her expression neutral and showing no fear. Many men smoked cigars.

“I didn’t see him or much of anything,” Pearl confessed. “It’s just what I felt and what I saw. I wish I’d seen more.”

Grace didn’t push Pearl, got her basic information written down, and noted the few comments she made. When she joined Bosley, he appeared to have calmed Roger down somewhat. The older man stood with several boys surrounding him, appearing to range in age from upper-teens to grade school age.

Bosley promised they would give all their attention to finding the man who attacked Pearl. Then pushing Grace out the door, he headed to the patrol car. She didn’t need an escort to the patrol car, or Bosley making her look like an incompetent female cop.

“What was that all about?” she demanded once they were headed back to the station. “You practically threw me out of there.”

“I wouldn’t say that.” Bosley glanced over at her in the dark, his brown eyes thick like mud and unreadable. “Sounds like tonight has you a bit upset. I hear you finally got a house. Are you moving in tomorrow?”

She didn’t want to shift the conversation to her personal life. Bosley was fairly tolerable, which proved she’d come a long way to say that of a man. By most standards he would be considered good looking with his all-American looks and a uniform that was always in pristine condition and fit him perfectly. Charm and good looks didn’t make her open up to a man.

“Tonight doesn’t have me upset. It has me very concerned. We need Pearl to see a doctor. I did my best to explain to Cindy Brewster that it was imperative we see test results that would be taken if she would have an examination. It’s very possible the same person raped both women.”

Bosley laughed out loud. “He would have to be in two places at once, Grace. I know Rockville is small, but it isn’t that small.”

Grace stared at this profile when he pulled into the station and parked the squad car. She couldn’t believe he would simply dismiss the possibility—and she believed it a rather strong possibility—that they had a rapist running on the loose in town.

“The size of the town doesn’t have anything to do with it,” she snapped, grabbing her things and pushing her car door open when he parked. “Two women raped so close in proximity and time can’t be dismissed, Bosley.”

Bosley got out of the patrol car and locked it, then met her in the middle of the parking lot. He had a gentle smile, but it didn’t seem to meet his eyes. Instead, he stared down at her intently, not blinking, like he craved seeing deep into her mind for some reason.
Grace looked past him towards her car. No one got into her head.

“It’s late. Go home. Your shift doesn’t start until tomorrow night. Get a good night sleep and work to make your new house a home. If I’ve got time, I’ll come by to help with the heavy stuff. In fact, I can probably round up a couple men to help with the things you can’t handle.”

Grace shot her attention back to Bosley when he put his hand on her shoulder. They were alone, and no longer around distraught families. She shrugged his touch off and almost growled.

“I can handle every bit of it, Bosley. Don’t you ever patronize me.” She pressed her notebook to her chest and almost said more. He wasn’t worth it though, and probably didn’t deserve the ass chewing that was on the tip of her tongue. “You get a good night sleep too, Bosley. You’re going to need it so you can think clearly.”

Walking around him, she headed to her car, leaving him in the middle of the parking lot, probably trying to figure out if she’d just insulted him or not. And she didn’t bother telling him she’d adjusted her shifts so that she could work while she had daycare. Rachel wasn’t going to grow up with babysitter’s and nanny’s raising her. She would know her mother, even if she would never know her father.

“Do you have a minute?” Sheriff Montgomery rapped on Grace’s office door.

Grace pulled her attention from her notes on the rapes of Pearl and April. April’s autopsy and Pearl’s examination unearthed a few condemning clues. One being matching semen proved they were after the same guy.

“What’s up?” She shoved a curl that refused to stay where it belonged behind her ear and glanced up at the Sheriff. Less than a week on the new job and she was getting a much better taste of being a small town cop. After her night of excitement with two rapes happening practically back to back, it had been unnervingly quiet.

A tall, very tall well-built man stood next to the Sheriff. Sandy hair bordered his perfectly sculptured face and green eyes looked at her with an intensity that sent a heat rushing through her. Grace wasn’t sure she’d ever blushed under a man’s interested gaze. After the hell she’d endured, living as a slave to a monster for so many years, she was convinced beyond doubt that no man could ever pique her interest to the level where she’d want to do anything about it.

“Grace, I’d like you to meet Special Agent Justin Reece. He’s agreed to help us with the rape investigation.” Sheriff Montgomery stepped into her office, moving to one of the two chairs that faced her desk and placing his large, calloused hands on the back of it. “I’d like you to work with him, brief him on what you know so far.”

Special Agent Reece walked into her office and glanced at her blank walls before turning his attention to her window that looked out at the large lawn in front of the courthouse and the Dairy Queen across the street. She stared at his firm ass and thick thighs. He had to be over six feet, with broad shoulders and a strong back.
As he stood there, quietly taking in his surroundings, she got the overwhelming sensation of being memorized. Not only her, but everything around her, her world. Like with a single sweep he entered her life and put all of it to memory, claiming and taking command of everything surrounding her. It was an unnerving sensation and didn’t mix well with the heat that continued swelling inside her the longer she stared at his perfect body.

“Sheriff, if you don’t mind, may I have a moment alone with Lieutenant Jordan?”

“By all means,” Sheriff Montgomery said, as if the request were completely normal. He backed out of the office without even looking at Grace, and closed the door, trapping her in the small space with him.

Justin turned around, capturing her with those vibrant green eyes.

“Grace, I think it’s proper to begin our working relationship by letting you know that I’ve researched you a lot more than this department has.”

“Oh really?” She was proud of how nonchalant she sounded, and even leaned back in her chair, lacing her fingers together while relaxing her elbows on the arms of her chair. “Why would you research me?”

“Standard procedure.” He moved too quietly for such a large man, and reclined in the chair opposite her, relaxing his large frame while continuing to stare into her eyes. “I know that you were held prisoner in the White mansion as a sex slave for five years.”
 

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