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You were my brother in the line of duty.
My best friend.
You were the man who had it all.
Your thoroughness and precision made you a great cop.
It’s what got you killed.
And now I live with the darkening shadows of your memory.
You weren’t here when I needed you to save me.
You weren’t here when I needed help solving the most gruesome murder this town had ever seen.
But most of all, you weren’t here to keep me from falling in love with your wife.
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“Erica Gunter. A waitress at a steakhouse in Lenoir. Age, twenty-five.” Blair crouched down next to me, carefully lifting the victim’s hair from her neck. “There’s something carved into her neck. Given the amount of blood loss from the initial wound, this was made sometime after death. The killer placed her hair over it as if he wanted us to find this during examination.”
“Can you make it out?” I studied the patterns carved into the flesh, but couldn’t make out what it was.
“There are three straight lines on either side of an oval. Two lines at the top.” Blair pointed out the pattern as she spoke, but I still couldn’t make it out in the bloody mess. “The incision appears to have been done with a small knife. A paring knife.”
“And the throat?” Caleb asked.
“Given the depth of the gash, a sharp chef’s knife.”
“How do you know it’s a paring knife?”
“Check the sink, gentlemen.”
Caleb tiptoed carefully between the victim’s feet, leaned over, and peered into the sink.
“Did you bag it?”
“Nope,” she said without breaking from her examination. “It was already bagged.”
Caleb’s latex covered hand reached into the sink pulled out what appeared to be a heavy-duty food storage bag.
“Those look like your evidence bags,” I observed.
“They look like everyone’s evidence bags.”
“So, it’s someone who has access to evidence bags.” Caleb noted while placing the killer’s evidence bag into one of ours.
“It looks like he used her own kitchen knives against her,” I said.
“He left no trace either.” Caleb said. “He had to have made a mistake. How did he get in? How did he leave?”
“I’m not quite sure what this carving is,” Blair continued. “But my gut says it’s a calling card.”
Caleb’s eyes met mine. As much as he tried to hide it, I could see his fear matched my own. We both knew the horrible truth, but only Caleb had the courage to announce it.
“This is going to happen again.”
About Jaycee Ford:
Bestselling author Jaycee Ford grew up chasing street cars around the city of New Orleans. After doing a four year stint at Louisiana State University, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and fled for the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. New Orleans beckoned her home again where she put her love of the foothills into a series of romance novels. In between writing, she’s found behind her desk at a top rated law firm … or still chasing street cars.
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