Authors: Anita M. Whiting
Tags: #Romantic Suspense
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infringement on the copyright of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
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A Killer’s Agenda
Copyright © 2007 by Anita Whiting
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
electronic publication: May 2007
A Killer's Agenda
This book is dedicated to my family.
It would never have been written without their support.
A Killer's Agenda
“I’m telling you, Brad, there are just too many similarities.”
Kevin Lloyd slammed his fists on the desk that separated him from his cousin. “How many murders is it going to take to convince you?”
“Convince me of what?”
“You know damn well what!”
“I know it’s hard for you to be objective right now, Kevin. Give yourself a little more time to deal with your mother’s death then we’ll talk.”
His cousin rose so abruptly that the chair he was sitting in rocked wildly. He ran a restless hand through his blonde hair, his jaw tense.
“Okay, at least let me show you what I’ve come up with and
then tell me I’m crazy.”
“I never said that.”
“You implied it.”
Brad shook his head, standing as well and putting a hand on
his shoulder. “Then I didn’t mean to.”
His cousin gave him another impatient look and he sighed,
retaking his seat. “Okay, let me hear what you have and we’ll go from there. Fair enough?”
Without another word, Kevin slapped a leather briefcase on the table and began emptying it.
“After Mom was murdered, I spent hours, days and then
months trying to come to terms with how she died. I can’t.”
“It’s hard to make sense out of a drive by shooting. Hard to blame someone when there isn’t even a motive.”
Kevin pounded his fist on the desk, blue eyes flashing.
“That’s bull! You really believe someone drove into that small town, picked her street and waited until she turned the corner and just randomly shot her? Christ, Brad!”
No, he didn’t believe that. His aunt had been his surrogate
mother for years and her death six months ago had ripped him apart. Only he had learned long ago that a Norton man didn’t show emotion, always kept his jaw firm and his life in perfect control. It was expected.
“Okay, let’s say I buy that. Why Aunt Ellie? What motive would someone have to kill her?”
Brad tensed as Kevin reached in the briefcase he had at his
side and began spreading newspaper articles across the desk.
Knowing Kevin suspected what he had for a long while legitimized his fears. And increased his anger.
“I’ve spent hours looking for some clue, some reason to justify this strong feeling I’ve had since Mom’s death that it wasn’t what it looked like.” He pushed the stack of newspapers toward Brad. “I think I’ve found it. First murder was about two years ago in a small town in Ohio near Columbus. Child got off the bus and was hit by a stray bullet and killed. Never found a suspect and there were no witnesses.” He moved another paper in front of Brad.
“Second was a law student walking to his dorm in Huntington,
A Killer's Agenda
West Virginia. Witnesses saw a green car barrel down the road and fire at point blank range. No description of the driver and the license plates were bogus.”
Brad nodded. “Last three were in Virginia and then in
Charlotte, North Carolina. A woman and two teenagers. Only
common theme was the car and the precision of the murders.”
Kevin’s head swiveled up as he shot him a look of surprise and then his face darkened.
“You saw the pattern like I did and you didn’t say anything!
Damn you, Brad! Mom might have been alive if we had warned her.
had warned her.”
Brad’s eyes flashed, showing the first sign of the emotions he had kept in check for a long time. “Stop right there, Kevin. I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure there was anything
Random shootings following a southward path. A very wide
southward path. One shooter, maybe two, maybe four or five? Sure I saw the pattern, read the papers, saw the brief mention on CNN.
Even talked to her about the oddity in the similarities and told her to be careful. She laughed at me. Said there were always going to be sick people in this world and she had no intention of living her life in fear. Told me if she thought that way, being married to a cop would drive her over the edge.”
“Sounds like something she would say.” Kevin’s voice was
husky with emotion.
“Besides, there was nothing to warn her about. Even the media wasn’t overly impressed. Only with the last murder of that
attorney’s wife have there been some rumblings of the rash of drive by shootings stretching across state lines. Still no one has linked them together.
“Someone’s got to nail this lunatic before he kills again.”
Brad hesitated and then leaned back in his chair, his jaw
“Not just a lunatic, a serial killer.”
His cousin’s face paled. “What are you talking about?”
Brad reached over and switched on his computer, motioning
for Kevin to move to his side of the desk. “Six people killed, including your mother. Took me until just a few days ago to come up with a link. Find a common one.” He flicked through several screens. “I lined each victim up and obtained as much information as I could. It took some digging but I found what I was looking for.
Every one of these victims had a father or mother or spouse in law enforcement or related fields. It’s the only thing that ties them together. Two were policeman. One was a detective. And the last woman was the wife of a very prominent attorney in Charlotte.”
Kevin was silent for a short while. Brad’s instincts were
normally right on. Norton Securities was now one of the top alarm companies in South Carolina due in large part to those sharp senses. If his cousin believed what he was saying, then he knew he had researched the facts thoroughly.
“Then why haven’t you gone to the authorities?”
“I did as a matter of fact. They listened and basically told me they’d follow up but not to hold my breath. The pattern hadn’t escaped them either but there wasn’t enough to go on. No name, no face, no license number or description, nothing. Not even enough to convince the powers that be that this was the same person.”
“What about the link you found?”
A Killer's Agenda
Brad shook his head. “Not good enough. Just supposition at
this point. Even though several witnesses saw a green car speed from the site of three of the murders, none of them were able to give a detailed enough description.” He raised a brow. “Lots of green cars out there, cousin.”
“Hell, Brad! Why didn’t you tell me about this sooner? Do you have any idea how many sleepless nights I’ve had thinking I was going nuts? Trying to justify the feeling that Mom’s death wasn’t simply a random shooting and not that I was just losing it.”
“What good would it have done? You were grieving and so was
your father. So was I. I figured we all needed a little time.”
Kevin sighed. “Yeah, I know. It’s been damn tough. But I’m
past the grief part now and into the seriously pissed off part. Who’s to say this guy won’t be back? I don’t plan on being another sitting duck if what you suspect is true.” He reached in his pocket and pulled out a business card. “This is the name of a local detective agency. It’s owned by someone named Alex Leahy. Came highly
recommended. If the police won’t follow up, then we need someone who will.”
“So, you don’t trust your own cousin to investigate?” Brad said lightly, the glint in his eyes saying otherwise.
“I hate to say it, but you look just like your old man right now,”
Kevin said, lips twitching. “Chiseled jaw, cold look, holier than thou attitude.”
Brad’s lips curved, yet his words had an edge. “Watch it,
buddy. I can still beat you up.”
“Probably, but I’m older than I used to be. I’ve learned to fight dirty.”
“I’ve learned a few tricks myself,” Brad shot back, flexing his arm.
“Never could keep up with you in that category,” Kevin
muttered. “That’s why you were quarterback and I was second
string in high school.”
“Joking aside,” Brad said, catching Kevin’s eye, “I want whoever this is as much as you do. Count on it.”
“I know you do. But you’re family and family isn’t objective.” He put up a hand when Brad began to speak. “I’ve thought this
through. Hell, I haven’t been able to do anything else for the past month. You’ll need help.”
“Then I’ll get one of my own staff to help.”
“Same thing. They’ll be working under your direction.”
“Listen, Kevin, I can handle this.”
“You can’t, Brad. Not because you don’t want this creep as
much as I do but because you loved her as much as I did,” Kevin said simply.
There was silence for a brief moment the two of them locking gazes.
“All right,” Brad agreed gruffly, “I’ll call this,” he glanced down at the card he still held, “Alex Leahy.”
“Good. The sooner the better.” Kevin moved toward the door
then turned, his eyes darkening. “Why family members?”
Brad shot him a look, not bothering to pretend he didn’t
understand the question.
“Because it hurts more. God knows what fuels this bastard’s
mind, but there isn’t one cop who doesn’t know there’s a chance he could lose his life in the line of duty. Even people on the periphery get threatening letters and phone calls. Your father will tell you
A Killer's Agenda
that. What makes them continue to do what they do is that
normally the threats don’t extend to those they love.”
“You’re trained in this kind of crap. What drives this creep?”
“That’s the million dollar question. There could be a hundred different reasons. I’ve already called Miguel Santos. That’s his specialty. Once I gather a few more facts, maybe we can narrow things down a bit.” He stood, rubbing the tension out of his neck.
“How’s your Dad holding up?”
Kevin shrugged. “As well as can be expected. Goes to work,
comes home, eats. He’s still in pain and it’s hard to see him that way.”
“You staying home?”
“For now. The commute isn’t all that far and he needs me.”
“Tell him I’ll be out to visit soon.”
“I will. Thanks, Brad. Even Carolyn was beginning to think I was losing it. I just couldn’t let this go. Still can’t.”
“Did you tell her what you suspect?”
“Sure, but she’s not easy to convince. She’s too analytical.
Comes from that M.D. behind her name.”
“Maybe we need analytical right now.”
Kevin rolled his eyes. “God, don’t tell her that! I’m getting a complex already from all the brainy people I’m marrying into.”
“You should,” Brad teased.
“Go to hell,” Kevin shot back. The amusement slipped away,
however as he opened the door. “Keep me informed.”
“You know it.”
Brad closed the door thoughtfully. He walked slowly back to his desk and grabbed his coat, shrugging into it. Moments later he was
striding into the elegant lobby that comprised the bottom floor of Norton Securities. He smiled at the petite blonde receptionist.
“Jackie, I’ll be out of the office for a while. Pete will know how to reach me if something comes up while I’m gone.”
“Okay, Mr. Norton.”
He pulled out of the parking lot, taking a moment to appreciate the beauty of the glass and metal building with his name on it. The sun highlighted the bronze metal and shone on the windows,
reflecting the deep green of the lawn. Unfortunately, it was also his father’s name and he resented that fact. Resented the reality that a whole lot of people assumed the Norton money had financed his meteoric rise to success in his field. It hadn’t. That had come through sheer determination and hard work.
He turned the car in the direction of his father’s home. That was how he had always thought of it, his father’s home. Warmth and love weren’t words that came to mind when he visited the stately old brick mansion by the sea. There were other words, bitter ones, that described his feelings about the place he had grown up. He glanced at the passing scenery absently. He only wished his memories of his mother weren’t so fuzzy. If she hadn’t died shortly after his birth, things might have been different.
might have been different.